Baby Emela-ntouka named as ‘Little Em-Congo’trotted through the swamp by the side of the Congo River. He was smiling to himself. Though he had the features of a dinosaur, he had a sweet smile. His momma was very proud of him…his large baby elephant like body, his glossy hairless back, what an earthy-brown texture of the skin, sometimes the sunrays falling on his big back gave it a greyish tinge. How lucky she was on having such a monster as her child who was the best looking of the lot. At his age of six months, he has all the handsome traits of the entire Emela-ntouka clan.
Thinking of all that… Little Em-Congo grinned sweetly, enhancing all the demonic good looks in him. He trotted towards theCongo River, planning to have a refreshing swim. Momma had gone hunting and wouldn’t know of his little adventurous spree. He planned to hit at the crocodiles with his tail. He slithered into the cold water ruffling its surface with his grand tail. Suddenly he received a sharp blow, he had never experienced anything like this before. He was still not aware of the dark monstrous world lurking in every corner of the swamp. Nature was still very beautiful to him.
Little Em-Congo in his frolicking mood had swum quite deep into the river, to chase the baby crocodile with his horn. The baby crocodile in its self-defence swung its tail which led to the catastrophic end of his adventure.
Momma heard her son wailing from far. She got worried and asked poppa Emela-ntouka to look for the baby. Poppa was a big sloth, and he liked to laze about. Sometimes he got up to look for some toothpicks from the Moabi plants or nibble at some leafy plants for digestion. Though generally they were herbivorous but on feast days they became non-vegetarians gorging upon elephant and water- buffalo meat.
Deeply absorbed in thought poppa walked slowly, as he felt greatly annoyed that his missus should force him out of his siesta to look for their son. He believed that his son should grow into a ferocious male Emela-ntouka to face the trials and tribulations of this world. Suddenly he woke up from his reverie when he heard the rumble and the earth racking groan, making the big Herons and other birds of the swamp fly off screeching loudly.
When Little Em-Congo found his poppa, he jumped on his glossy big chest, howling and sobbing in such a way that the big tear balls rolled down and gathered into a big ditch turning it into a pond. Poppa was not used to pampering children, so he dragged his son all the way in spite of all his protests. The trees crashed, the squirrels and monkeys screeched and ran to save their lives. The whole swamp was horror-struck.
This was all that Little Em-Congo was reminiscing,(about the incident that had occurred a few days back) as he was trotting towards the river bed again. Momma had strictly forbidden him to go to the river bed all by himself, whereas poppa had secretively instructed that he must try to be adventurous, as he had to grow up into a strong male adult.
Now… what was that? He was not alone on the bank of the river, there were three others. He gave out low growls, stamping his back foot and sprinkling urine with strong odour, making a demarcation of his territory. His poppa had taught him to do so, but to his amazement the other creatures moved back and raised their trunks and snouts in salutation. LittleEm -Congo moved up heroically so that his horn gleamed and shone showing his mode of friendliness.
‘Well-well…who are you three?’ enquired Little Em-Congo.’I am Ganesha the elephant, I was brought on a cargo ship down the river’.‘I …I am JoJo the water buffalo, my family and I live in the river ’‘Er…er…I am Croc the crocodile.’‘ Hey, haven’t I met you before Croc? Weren’t you the one who hit me with your tail?’‘ Yes …yes, but if I am not mistaken, you hit me first, I just retaliated; but I am really very sorry, I er… didn’t mean to hurt you.’‘Hey there, why don’t we become friends’ …proposed Ganesha, extending his trunk.
Little Em-Congo was more than eager to become friends. He felt very lonely having no siblings.
Every day in the afternoon when his parents rested, Little Em -Congo sneaked off to the river bed and played to his heart’s content.
His friends often gave him a ride to the mid river which is supposed to be the deepest in the world, his grandma often told him so while talking about Congo’s history. Days were passing by happily. Little Em -Congowaited anxiously for every afternoon to come, but good days don’t last for ever. One day momma guessed something fishy and quietly followed her son to the river bed. There her small round eyes popped out of her head. Little Em-Congo was happily playing with three such animals who were their hard-core enemies and preys…an elephant, a water buffalo and what did she see wasn’t it a crocodile?
‘Hey there! ‘growled momma Emela-ntouka .’How dare you play with my son? The son of the chief of the swamp.’
Ganesha, Jojo and Croc huddled together leaving Little Em-Congo alone. He rushed to his friends and embraced them tight. They were trembling with fear.
Suddenly there was a deep rumbling from the earth, like an ensuing earth-quake. The little monsters peeped out of their huddle to see momma elephant, momma water -buffalo and the most fiendish of the lot momma crocodile coming forward to protect their children. The ruckus was such, as if hell broke loose. The loud bellowing and thumping of feet and tails woke poppa from his pleasant afternoon nap. Wondering what the matter was, he walked down towards the clamour only to find his wife on one side and three huge opponents on the other side. They were angry and reached to see if their kids were safe or not.
The sight of their choicest preys all together made momma and poppa Emela-ntouka’s mouth water. After a long wait they got the opportunity to confront their choicest of preys. They created their war field rife with all the demonic spirits to come and dance, so that the atmosphere would be venomous and thrilling. The Congo River was boiling with malice and hatred, the water was emanating smoke and bubble that went up to form dark rain clouds, which in turn poured down as cloud bursts…it seemed as if hell was dancing in front of their eyes.
Little Em-Congo literally had goose bumps. The young ones clung to one another strongly and prayed, that their parents would not tear themselves apart, trying to protect them. They wanted to scream out to the elders that they did not have any problems amidst themselves, but they didn’t have the courage to stop them.
Little Em-Congo was sweating profusely, he was twisting and turning writhing in fear and anticipation. Suddenly a huge swash of water drenched him from head to tail…‘Ohhh… what the hell was that’ he screamed, still lost in his slumber. He opened his eyes to see his mother standing over his head pouring water collected in her snout.‘Get up baby, don’t you know it is our festival day, you have to get ready for the Halloween party! It is a great day for you. You have to prove your masculinity. I hear they have caught a young elephant, a water buffalo and a crocodile for you to fight with. It will be a great event of horror.’
Poor Little Em -Congo sat there with his dinosaur like mouth wide open. He pinched himself hard, was he still dreaming? No..it hurt him…There seemed no way out. His momma cheerfully briefed him of the event and the little monster prayed silently that the animals entrapped wouldn’t be his friends. He desperately wanted to howl out loud. Why should there be such monstrous celebration killing animals for food, when they had such luscious, succulent plants like moabis to feast upon?
Ultimately, he dared to ask his mother, “Momma …why should I have to fight with the trapped animals?” momma said it was so because their name meant “Killer- Of -Elephants” in Lingalu language. It would be a grand event. There would be demonic creatures from the neighbouring Gabon, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This would be the largest gathering of demonic creatures of the semi aquatic types.
All who had males like Little Em-Congo, had to prove their masculinity. The more and more momma talked as she decked him, the more his heart throbbed with fear and anxiety. He prayed to the Lord of Demons that his friends would not be caught.
All three of them got dressed in grand attires. Little Em-Congo’s horn and crocodile like tail specially ornated with stars, sparkled and shone. Momma put a spiked hairy wig and poppa put a special gear on his head with his horn jutting out. They marched with heavy footsteps and the earth trembled as ifMountNyamuragira had erupted.
On reaching the gathering Little Em-Congo was awestruck.Never had he seen such a conclave, with various bands playing loudly. The sky thundered and bolts shot out of them, even the demonic feature in Little Em-Congo trembled and shook. He was a tender-hearted Emela-ntouka and could not bear such a cacophony. In no time the program started, there were loud music and dance, games were played and ultimately they moved towards the arena.
There when he sat in the gallery, LittleEm-Congo noticed cages which had in them animals for them to hunt down. His eyes desperately sought for his friends and then it fell on them. All three of them huddled together, Ganesha, Jojo and Croc. There were other cages with such creatures too.
Just then the huge djembe drum and the dundun started playing indicating that the young Emela-ntoukas had to hunt down their preys to prove their machismo.
Little Em-Congo, much to the amazement of this parents, stood up tapping his large scaly tail indicating that he wanted to be the first contender. Momma tried to restrain him but Poppa was very excited. The whole surroundings were vibrating with caterwauling. Little Em-Congo got up, marched down the aisle to the cage to his friends. All three of them called out in despair, they pleaded him to save them. He whispered that they should fight with him with all their might, should they win, they would be freed, that was the rule. Then they should flee.’ No’, they said in unison.’We cannot hurt you; you are our friend.’ ‘Shhhh…there is no way out, if luck favours nothing will happen to me.’ he said.
Then started the fight…oh what a fight it was! No one had ever seen such a combat. They fought to save on another but Little Em-Congo was no match to all three together. Momma screamed and poppa guided but the terrible fight that took place was ever etched in the memories of all. Little Em-Congo slowly succumbed to his injuries but there was a satisfaction on his face, his friends would be freed. His friends on the other hand were terribly grieved, they did not escape, they sat by him holding his hands and shedding big round tears. ‘We are sorry friend’, they cried. ‘Come back to us, our dear friend.’
No one in the Emela-ntouka clan had ever seen such a sight. The party that was supposed to be horror stricken ended in such anguish, that till date grand mommas and grand poppas recall the heroic deed of Little Em-Congo who sacrificed his life for his friends. The Emela-ntoukas learnt a lesson that they maybe monstrous creatures but needn’t be demonic at heart.
This Post Has 12 Comments
I love the essence of friendship that is conveyed through your story. The charecters seem to belong to the land and I am sure they have their legendary history too. I found this tale to be cute with a friendship message rather than one of horror.
This is a delightful story and the setting and characters capture all the nuances and flavour you intended to capture through your story. It was a heart wrenching story, which showcases the horror of animal cruelty. Well written!
In love with Little Em Congo,! His love for adventure; and his dilemma between his protective mother and encouraging father is a relatable emotion. He teaches a lesson even in his death and saves hs friends.
This was a perfect story for kids, highlighting traits such as friendship and how someone who is good at heart can change evil rituals and bring about peace. It was a good concept although it didn’t fit in with the horror genre.
Cute, little story of friendship of seeming rivals. I loved the message of love it contained. I suppose the others have already pointed it out, it was not really spooky. But that’ll be the judges’ call. I personally enjoyed reading your story.
Such a sweet tale. After reading all blood and gore and spooky stories, this story was a welcome change. As you said, it will be a good one for children. Well written
This is a very sweet tale. It will be delightful for children. II liked the simplicity with which it was handled. It wasn’t knocking on the horror door, though.
A heartwarming tale of friendship and sacrifice. It is difficult to create a fable that feels authentic and this tale has achieved that. Loved reading.
Oh, I fell in love with Little Em-Congo from the very start and as I read further, I started dreading because I knew that thanks to the genre of this event, the story would take a dark turn. Loved this story, beautiful and sad. I am a little confused, this seemed less of a horror to me. Not that I minded. The adults had to learn their lesson a hard way. Also, I loved the message this story carried. I think because of the genre, the ending had to be such, otherwise we could have had a happy ending too.
The use of parentheses is always tricky in stories, here it stood out for me. I feel if you had taken care of that part of the narrative in some other way, it would have worked better.
It was an absolute pleasure to read this one, I can see our Little Em-Congo playing with his friends, this is the image I choose to take away from this story. I did not know about emela ntouka till I read your story, thanks for this introduction.
It is not easy to write a story with animal characters, and with a lesson for the readers. This reminded me of the fables from the Panchatantra and our epics. Though Em-Congo is a young child-animal, he displays enormous maturity, and stays loyal to his friends. A heartwarming tale. Please consider editing and expanding this. Loved it.
The way the emela-ntouka is introduced is excellent – rather than giving the reader a “this is how this animal looked” kind of introduction, the features are revealed slowly. This way of narration assumes that the reader is intelligent, and readers appreciate this, rather than being spoon fed. Great story.
Little Em-Congo is the sweetest baby monster ever, and the best looking one of all. After a fracas with a baby crocodile, which hurts his pride more than anything, the little monster sneaks off to make friends with the very creatures who are meant to be his enemies. However, the amity does not last long as Em-Congo’s parents raise Cain, bringing down demonic spirits to dance and create a venomous, yet thrilling atmosphere. “… it seemed as if hell was dancing in front of their eyes.”
Em-Congo is slated to fight with his friends to prove his masculinity, as is the custom. He jumps up, the first contender, and whispers to his friends, giving them a solution to their predicament.
This narrative touches the heart of the reader, even as it proves that monsters need not be demonic at heart, and that friendship is a sentiment that brings hearts together. The writer has used apt terminology and brings the story alive.
I am in love with little Em-Congo! Using anthropomorphism you have injected life into this fabled creature. He is endearing and brave. The way you have depicted the innocence of children (even animal children) presents such a touching parallel to humans and our tragic loss of trust, acceptance and love as we grow up. ❤
This story is beautiful, however, I do feel this is more of a fable than a horror.
I would also request another look at the execution of transitions, between acts, between characters and especially between timelines. For example, here – “This was all that Little Em-Congo was reminiscing,(about the incident that had occurred a few days back)…” – this means that everything that happened before this act was a flashback, however, it does not feel like a flashback when one is reading it and this sudden revelation is a bit confusing.
The story as a whole was engaging and entertaining. Africa is a strange and exotic land for me, and I am sure it must have been difficult to research its varied legends!