As Maya struggled to get up, a gush of stream water surprised her and carried her in its embrace. Maya had just sat up coughing and sputtering after she had managed to swim exhaustedly to the bank when a shadow fell on her.
Before she could so much as scream, she was scooped up by a long haired, green skinned human-like creature. The creature leered at her before drawing a long pouch from behind her back all the while holding on to her with one hand.
Maya almost wanted to give up her struggle in sheer frustration. The thought of the trapped Hari and her unconscious Mumma steeled her resolve.
“Put me down, this instant, creature!”
“My, my, feisty little thing aren’t you? Didn’t Mumma take better care of you? jujuju….”
“PUT ME DOWN, YOU UGLY THING.”
“Now, now, is that anyway to talk to your friendly neighbourhood Qalupalik?”
“Qalupalik, sweet thing. My, my, you do look tasty.”
Seeing Maya’s befuddled amidst her pain, the creature grinned nastily.
“Do you not know what that is? A Qalupalik, like me, is a water spirit. We are immortal so long as we get enough prey to feed on. Do you know what our prey is?”
Seeing Maya shake her head helplessly, the creature flashed an evil grin before continuing-
“You dear. Adolescent children just like you. Your youth is what I want. Being a water spirit and bound to this place, I had almost given up the hope of new prey until I saw you. The last I fed was four millennia ago. Do you how it is to be hungry for four thousand years?” whispered the creature drawing closer.
“Wait. You can’t…..”
“What is it, duckie? Be quick. I can’t hold off any longer. Any last thoughts?”
Maya spoke strongly now.
“You can’t kill me. I am on an important quest on behalf of the gods themselves.”
“What gods?” asked the creature carelessly.
“Your gods. My gods. The gods of the world. What difference does it make? They are all the same. Doom is yours if you kill me.”
“Are you done with your threats? It’s cute when a little duckie like you threatens me.”
“I am not threatening. I have been set on this quest by the great god Krishna himself. For the last time, you can’t kill me.”
The evil grin flashed again.
“Oh, but I am not going to kill you. I am merely going to feed on your youth. You may wander off away from me after my feeding, in your shriveled body and live out the minutes left off of your life, in peace.”
Maya felt an excruciating pain that first started in her neck and spread throughout her body as the creature started to feed. Maya felt a numbness spreading in her body as minutes passed. She hardly felt when her skin and organs started to shrivel. She came to, as her hair having turned a pure silver started falling off her head in clumps. A wail of agony left her lips and came out as a toothless groan.
The creature finally licked her lips and threw down Maya’s battered body.
When Maya painfully lifted her head and tried to focus her dull eyesight on the creature, she found a dazzling form with bright hair and a delighted smile.
The Qalupalik gave an exhilarated shout before turning to Maya.
“Thank you, little duckie. I have got my youth back for a little while. I would love to chat but sorry and all that. Have things to do and sunlight to see. Ta ta.”
As Maya put down her head in defeat, the creature spoke again.
“Oh, you have but only minutes left to live. Give your prayers to your great God Krishna. He may come running to save you!”
Shouts of villainous laughter echoed as the Qalupalik left.
Maya’s terrified brain failed to function. With Hari patiently awaiting her to be freed of captivity and her poor mother insensible, she HAD to go on.
“How?” thought a despairing Maya.