I wrote this story way back in 1997, but have since edited it a bit. I hope you like it. Ian King.
My cousin Shane and I set up our little tent at the back of the farm, where there was no one else about. Water leisurely rolled past in the gently river that flowed not too far from our chosen spot. It had a peaceful sound and smelled cool and fresh. Willows played their dainty leaves over it, hiding much of it from the sun. We had our hidden paradise all around us.
We were both ten years old, but I was the oldest because my birthday was in February and his in July. We had pitched our tent between the brier bush with its thorns ready to grab any careless by-passer. Above us was the pit where the tractor had dragged a few dead cows over the years and one beautiful horse named Princess to rest in peace. Fortunately, nothing had found its final destiny here recently. Pewww! We had named it Graveyard hill. It was nice and flat and hidden away. Many wild flowers grew about,amongst the sun-bleached bones scattered higgledy-piggledy. It made it sort of special for the local residents. The dead center of our farm, we would joke.
Earlier on Shane and I had caught some eels from down at the dam, not too far from here. We made fishing lines fit for the job, out of a tee-tree branch and nylon we found in dads shed. Some old fish hooks and old nuts for weights was all we needed. On the farm we used what we could; it's called kiwi ingenuity.
We were going to cook them on our fire over a spit. Some number '8-wire' and 'Y' sticks from some broken branches were poked into the ground ready to hold the eels up. The river sheer bulged with peppery watercress right out side our door. Yumm!
“Shane get some watercress please, I'll get this eel ready ok.”
“Did you bring the pot?”
“Yep. At the back of the tent. Fill her up. Oh! I saw some wild strawberries on the other side of graveyard hill. Can you get some of those too. We're having a feast tonight!”
“Oh yea boy! What about a rabbit? Shall we get one of those too?”
“Nah! We'll go out tonight with the .22 and try after dinner. They're easier to hit at twilight.”
“If you can see them that it.”
“We'll find one I reckon. There's plenty about. We'll need to bleed it over night. Rabbit stew tomorrow!”
The fire was stoked up and had plenty of hot coals after we boiled the 'cress. I had never 'spat' an eel before and when the flames licked at its grey flesh it came alive!
“Woahh! Look at that? I thought we'd killed that hours ago.” Shane's eyes near 'popped' out of his head as the eel looked like it was trying to wriggle away from every 'lick' of the flames. Freaky!
“Yea. It's dead alright. See that lick of flame there, it's amazing how that part of his body twists away from that point of contact. Must be nerves.”
“But it's dead!”
“Maybe 'dead' isn't all we think it is? You've heard of stories about life after death haven't you?” And that is when we started the ghost stories. The eel tasted great, and so did everything else. We were nearly popping out of our jeans buttons after. We felt good. This was fun! Our roaring fire danced In the cool damp air. The smoke shimmered mysteriously over distant shadows of the rough farmland.
Shane started . . . “One cold night in the deep woods of the Waipoua forest. A family was heading home to Opinoni and their car broke down. Only a few weeks earlier had someone been murdered and decapitated there. No one had found the body. His head had been thrown into the bush near the giant Kauri tree. Tanemahuta – king of the forest.”