throwing the bones....

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
living in africa as i do, african folklore still exists and my story tells of an african witch-doctor who sells a set of bones to tourists. my story ends in an absolute horror situation......

Submitted: June 17, 2017

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Submitted: June 17, 2017



Throwing the bones…..


Although this happened some five years back, the horror of my story

still hangs heavily on my mind.I was delighted when my sister in the UK

told me that she was paying me a visit.  Although she had come to Africa before,

that was in Zambia and at last she was coming to the land of sunshine, South Africa.

Her visit made my entire year and only too soon she was almost on her way back.

We had arranged to stay a couple of days in Johannesburg prior to her departure at

O.R. Tambo airport and having time on our hands, I took the opportunity to take her to the one truly African Town in South Africa, Soweto.

What a day it turned out to be!  We ate traditional food, drank traditional beer, watched snake charmers, bare breasted young ladies dancing, and listened to the beat

of real African drums.  Weary from the sheer magnitude of our adventure we were almost ready to come home when Joan spied a notice crudely written on a small flag

outside a spaza shop.  “Sangoma, your fortune read thru the bones.”

She turned to me, “I want to go in and get my fortune read Geoff…please?”

To tell the truth I wasn`t at all keen.  “It`s getting late Lovey, and we have to be at the air-port two hours before the departure.”  I said, hoping to put her off.

“But…..”  Then she saw a strange array of packets, potions and paraphernalia in the shop window.  Among them a small hessian bag containing `the bones, all ready for throwing.’

Of course, she just had to have them, just as they were and going cheap for fifty Rands, she popped them in her handbag and we set off for home, almost.


I couldn`t find my car!  Even though I had made a careful note regarding its location it just wasn`t there any more?  Being elderly didn`t help, and asking around made things even more frustrating.  “I could have sworn I left it to the right of that fish and chip shop over there.”  Everyone shook their head thinking I had lost my marbles.

“It’s a silver Toyota Yaris with the number plate….”

A kid of seven or eight found it eventually, tucked well out of sight outside a barber shop.  I tipped the kid handsomely.

Getting home, Joan completed her packing and without opening the hessian bag containing the set of bones, threw the package into her suitcase without giving it another thought.

As always, O.R. Tambo was awash with overseas visitors either arriving or departing, and I sat with my sister waiting for the announcement of her waiting room for the departure to be announced.Instead, they called her name,  “Mrs. Joan Howard on Flight SAA 768 to Customs Counter please.”

After a battle with a few members of the Airport staff, we eventually found the Customs Counter, and made an enquiry.

“Ah yes Mrs Howard, come through please, we have found a suspect article in your baggage that we would like you to identify.”

There was Joan`s sleek new multi-colored suitcase behind an X.Ray machine, now focussed on a small group of unidentifiable rubbish……..those bones!

All three of us stared at the items, seven in all.A drum-stick chicken bone, three pebbles, a four inch nail, one coin and what looked like a key-ring when Joan made the announcement.  “Oh!  Those must be what`s in that bag of bones I bought this afternoon in Soweto.”

We all roared with laughter of course, and the Customs apologised profusely, “Sorry about that Ma`am, but we can`t be too careful.”

We said our good-byes, and Joan went through to the Departure lounge…..not knowing that she would encounter a series of unexplainable calamities that started

with the plane, a Boeing 767 being delayed for three hours with engine trouble.

I had been home two hours when she phoned.  “I`m still here Geoff, the `plane has

engine trouble…”

Well, it seems that Joan got to Heath Row eventually, but Uncle Jack who was to have picked her up was delayed, leaving my sister high and dry for over five hours in the freezing cold airport terminal.


Getting home again, after a months vacation was pure joy until she inserted the Yale key in the lock and tried to turn…….no joy.The lock was jammed and wouldn`t move, an hour went by before a lock-smith was found and she was able to enter her house at last!  This was strange, because the lock had never given trouble before.  What was more than strange happened shortly after Joan picked up her dog, Ruff from his stay in a local kennel.


Of course Ruff was delighted to see his Mistress again and bounded into the house sniffing every nook and cranny before settling down.  Come night time, the dog slept in his Mistress room on a specially prepared bed made for him in the corner of the room.Tonight, for some reason, Ruff would not even enter the room.  He stood in the doorway cowling, hackles up and growling.  Joan made an attempt at dragging him into the bedroom by the collar.  Ruff tore himself away and ran downstairs in apparent terror.  That’s when Joan lifted to phone and called me.

“It`s Ruff Geoff, I don`t know whats got into him, but he just wont go in my bedroom.”

Of course I laughed.  “It`s that skeleton you keep in the closet Joan, give it a day or

two, he`ll be sleeping on your bed.”  My sister was obviously unhappy, so I left it

at  that for a few days, never expecting that there was more to come.  A week went by and I gave Joan a call.  “How`s that hound of your doing Joan, is he sleeping on your bed yet?”

“Heavens no Geoff!”  she replied.“He won`t come near my bedroom, not even for a piece of raw sausage, he sleeps down in the kitchen now.”

“Ah well, its probably healthier for you that way Lovey, so everything is all back to normal now?”

There was a slight pause then, and I thought Joan had gone off the line.  “You there Sis?”I called.

“Yeah Geoff, but…but there is something else now.”

“Something else, how do you mean?”

“There`s a smell.”  she said abruptly.

“A smell?”

“Yes, coming from my bedroom…..its….erits getting worse.”

I thought this mighty peculiar.  First the dog, and now a smell.

“What kind of smell?”  I enquired.



“It`s that awful smell when something dies.”  she said.

“Oh Sis, no…really?”

“It`s awful, I can`t sleep in there anymore, I am in the spare room and you know how

uncomfortable that bed is?”

“Have you looked for something under the bed in your room?”

“How do you mean?”

“A mouse perhaps died, or a rat, I dunno love, it must be something.”

At that moment for some obscure reason I thought about that tiny hessian bag that contained the bones that Joan had purchased.

“You don’t think it might be…”  I began,

Joan finished my sentence. “Those bloody bones, especially that chicken one, perhaps there was still meat on it and….”

“Get rid of them Love, take them somewhere, hide them outside……anywhere leave them in a bus….yes…that’s a good idea.”

“In a bus?”

“Yes.”  I said, thinking about it quite deeply.  “Just leave them tucked down the back of the seat, no one will notice, and then get off at the next stop.”


Two days later I was watching BBC World News on the television.It was a news flash that chilled my spine to the core.

“Horrific crash of a London Transport Number 84 Bus headed for Barnet kills all twenty passengers, plus the driver and conductor.  Safety probe proceeding.”

I wept.



The End



Geoffrey Kennell©








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