Te Marae O Nga Marohirohi Hinga
by Rick Zhou Y9 2017@Windsor uk
Kahuki was not one to fear his kuia’s stories, unlike the other tamariki in the village. He was his own man, 12 years old, and no one in his whanau could stop him. The abandoned Marae down in the overgrowth was where he was heading tonight. He was going to prove that he was a real warrior, and not a child, like his mother kept saying. Carrying an oil torch, Kahuki felt he was prepared. The chirping of the crickets in the background only helped to calm him, and the frights of the night were replaced by excitement for his friends’ and family’s reaction when he came out of the Marae O Nga Marohirohi Hinga, the ancestral house of the fallen warriors.
The night was going to be a long one, as his Kuia had said that evening. “Seems that the Gods are restless tonight. I’m worried that something will happen.”
His father answered “Your omens are never usually wrong. I will give the warning for everyone to stay in their homes tonight. While thinking about that night’s discussion, Kahuki felt the hair on the back of his neck raise, and he quickly spun around in fright. “Huh. Weird. I swear I felt someone’s presence around here.” A sudden creeping feeling went up his back, and he felt something almost like a finger tracing the outline of his spine. He tensed, thinking it was his father, and he turned around to apologize before realizing there was no one there. “Pshh. How can you get scared before you’ve even reached the Marae. Come on. Keep going.” But as he stepped he heard a crunching sound. He froze, and looked down, only to see a half buried human skeleton, it’s ribs crushed under his foot.
The eyes stared blankly at Kahuki, and Kahuki stared back at the skeleton’s eyes. And he screamed. He turned and tried to run back, but found that the path was lost, and his way back home with it. He looked around in terror and saw nothing but the overbearing reaches of the trees that blocked his route to safety. There was nowhere to go, and nothing he could to except run through the forest and yell for help. It was very likely that he would get lost and starve, or trip and hurt himself, or maybe a pack of wild dogs would find him and eat him. What if the stories that his Kuia told were true? Maybe the ghosts of the ancestors would wail and scream at him the whole night, breaking him mentally, and when he was vulnerable they would attack and attempt to take over his body. Sweat covered his back, and he prayed to all the Gods he knew, and to those he didn’t. He got down to his knees and began bowing for forgiveness and salvation, but it was to no avail. Nothing happened. It seemed like even the trees were laughing at him with ridicule, as sounds of shrieking and cackling vaguely blew through the forest.
A whisper came next to his ear, as if there was someone next to him, and said to him, “Silly. There are no Gods that have the power to reach into my domain. You have forced yourself here, and now you shall die like the warrior you said you were. The only way out is through the Marae, and if you can’t even make it to our front door then you shall be like your predecessor, the pile of weak bones lying right there, a coward and a loudmouth.” The voice had no gender, and was so monotonously calm and soothing that what it said sounded like it was telling a joke. But Kahuki did not fell this way. When he heard the voice, he froze in fear, trembling, and in dreadful bewilderment.
“Why are you doing this to me! I have done no wrong! I have not disrespected you or any of my ancestors! Why?!” There was no response from the voice, or from the laughing in the trees. He was the only there. “Fine! You know, my father is the chief of the village! He is powerful, and will come looking!” There was no response either, but the laughing started up again from the ghostly trees. He got up in shame and picked up the torch. “Fine. I will show you. I’m not someone you should be messing with.” And so he continued on his path, down to the Marae, and towards his impending doom.