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The Pooka, Part One
By Feadog (Jym Miller)
The Pooka is Ireland's most terrible beast. It can appear as anything it wishes to be, and by the time you know it for what it is, it's too late. It may have come to the states in the great migration.
Jack and I had both been told all the stories. But of course we didn't believe a word of them. They were just silly ghost stories that adults love to tell children. No, of course we didn't believe a word of it. The Pooka is a fairy to be feared above all. It causes harm and mischief. It can be out and about at all times, but mostly when it's dark is it the most dangerous. Now, do you believe that? Well Jack and I certainly didn't. That is not until Alban Eiler (the Celtic Spring Solstice.)
Jack and I had been out late, doing all that young boys do on the first decent spring day. I was a rule that we are back home before dark, always! No matter what, no excuse would be accepted. We had been out, running around the meadows and darkness had caught us far from home. We knew we were in great trouble.
We began our running to home, over stonewalls, across meadows. As we approached a rise, we saw a shiny dark horse staring back at is. It had yellow eyes, and a breath so hot, it created a fog around it in the night air. Then it pawed the ground with its hoof, snorted a couple of times and took off straight towards us at a full run, charging us. Jack screamed and started to run. He didn't get very far before he tripped over his own feet and fell face down. I was unable to run, my feet were rooted to the ground. All I could do was stand there, as the horse beast got closer, its yellow eyes burning. As it got up to me, it stopped. I could feel its hot breath on my face. Then in its own foggy mist it changed into a small deformed Goblin, dressed in twigs and sticks. Behind me I could hear Jack moaning. The Goblin put its face up to mine, looking me over and up and down. Jack then attracted its attention. It pointed to Jack saying "I'd be a little for quiet over there my young friend, or I will turn you into a pile of dung." Jack shook and started to cry, "I said SILENCE!!!" The Goblin said. Jack clamped his mouth shut tight, so as to udder not a single sound.
Then the Goblin turned to me. Looking me up and down saying, "Strange, you didn't run. Are you that brave or are you that afraid?" As I tried to speak I could not do anything but let put a slight squeak. The Goblin moved around me, raking one of its long stick fingers across my back. "How about I go over to your shaking little friend there, aaaaaaannnnnnnnnd PULL HIS HEAD OFF!!!!! Doesn't that sound like fun?" Then it laughed in a high pitched laughter.
Poor Jack was moaning and weeping. The goblin turned and moved to Jack's side. "Afraid boy?" it asked. Jack nodded his head yes. "Well then, why don't you run home and tell everyone there that the Pooka wants its share, and I better get it! If I don't get it, tell them they will be sorry! Well boy run away now."
"Not without Seamas, you let him go too!" Jack said bravely.
The Goblin laughs again, and said "Done!" and in a swirl of mist it turned into the horse beast again running across the meadow. A voice could be heard on the wind. "Tell them the Pooka wants its share. I will be back to collect it in the Alban Elued (the autumn equinox).
We were alive!! Scared but alive. Jack and I hugged and laughed and cheered. We had faced the Pooka and survived. As our legs go back to normal and had stopped shaking, we headed home, quickly.
Of course no one would believe us, and Jack and I became the butt of many a family joke and ribbing. That is until harvest time arrived. When the Pooka's share was to be laid out for it, it was not done. The night of the last day of harvest, it was darker than usual. In the middle of the night the wind worked up to a strong gale. Above the wind there was something that sounded like a voice saying, "I've come for my share!" The wind blew all night.
That morning things were a mess, doors and the boards themselves blown off the barn. The roof was in tatters. Everything was in a shambles, bent or broken. Jack looked at me and said, "Well, we tried to tell them."
"Aye," I said, and we went back into the house for our tea.
Every year after that, and as for as I know to this very day, at harvest, there is always something left out for the Pooka, and it comes to collect it and leaves us in peace.
The Pooka was seen a few times on the hill, looking like it was checking out the crop, seeing if it would get a good share that year. Never doubt the Pooka. Never try to cheat it. It's out there, in the dark, watching.
End Part One
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