Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

Waiting to take the bait

One Hero. Many Monsters. Before I came to be known as the greatest sailor in the world, I was a young monster who fell in love. As all legendary love stories go, things were…well, not smooth sailing. And of course, there was the problem to the Armageddon.

 

Kevin Missal’s new book Sinbad promises thrill, fun and adventure. Here is an excerpt from the book.


PRESENT DAY

BASRA, PORT OF ARABIA

 

The corpse was laid there under the darkening sky.

And Sinbad watched it, in silence, from the bushes.

He could hear his own breathing, his blood pumping in his ears. It was late evening. His almond eyes were focused on the beach, hawk-eyed. Owls hooted. The waves rolled and the blurry skies darkened.

Any time now…

‘Let’s hope the blasted ghoul takes the bait,’ said Husayn, his blue eyes scanning the area. He flicked his frizzy, curly hair back and looked at his friend who crouched down beside him. ‘There’s a lot of money we’re gonna get out of this, tee-hee,’ he said, referring to the tavern owner who had hired Sinbad to end the horror of the Qutrub.

Sinbad turned his head and looked up, his onyx hair falling over his forehead. ‘For the hundredth time, it’s not a ghoul. It’s a subclass of jinnis.’

‘Apples and oranges, to be honest.’ Husayn shook his head in dismay. ‘How do you kill it?’

‘You can’t’ Sinbad signed. ‘You trap them and then send them back. Or keep them locked in a ring or something. And one of the easiest ways to do it is by knowing their true name.’

‘Well, whatever it is, you have no clue how tough it was to get that,’ said Husayn, pointing to the dark mound that they had been eyeing. ‘Let’s see: paid the gravedigger; dug up the ground with him; got drenched in mud; and then finally got it for our friend, the Qutrub, here because you said it would be the perfect bait.’

‘Well, at least you were helpful this time.’ Sinbad rolled his eyes and decided to look at the stars that remained still, distracting himself from the beach. It was only a few times in his life that he had caught them blinking.

‘I’m always helpful, all right?’ Husayn said, his voice growing louder in protest.

Sinbad darted his eyes back to the beach and the corpse. ‘No, please, do yell some more and let the whole world know what we are doing.’

‘Apologies!’ Husayn whispered. ‘And the world knows already. That thing has already killed twenty of our travellers. If more would become its victims, taverns might as well close down.

‘I know.’ Sinbad sighed.

‘You said it’s a jinni, though, right?’ Husayn asked. ‘But aren’t jinnis like wish-granting baboons?’

‘Nor all,’ Sinbad said and shook his head ever so slightly. ‘Only the Marids. While the thing we are waiting for right now is called a Qutrub. Strange creatures. They come from the jinni world of Barzakh. But what I don’t understand is, Qutrubs feed on the dead, and thus are seen around graveyards. Then why is it attacking the living?’ He narrowed his eyes in contemplation.

But before he could mull it over, Sinbad say the unlikely: A couple walking on the shore, a few yards away from their bait, oblivious to it and the gruesome presence that it would invite. They were busy chatting and laughing. Barefoot. The girl was wearing her veil and the man a sailor’s tunic.

‘Humans. Always butting in when they are not supposed to.’ Sinbad gritted his teeth.

‘Aren’t you a human yourself, my dear friend?’ Husayn cheekily asked.

‘Well…’ Sinbad said, ‘the Qutrub would attack them then. Fresh blood.’

‘Um, Sinbad?’ Husayn tapped on his shoulder.

‘What?’ he snapped as his eyes followed the couple’s steps, hoping they won’t notice the trap that had been set on the beach. But the smell would be a dead giveaway!

And they were close…getting closer…

‘Um, Sinbad? Would you please turn around?’ Husayn’s voice had turned into an almost high-pitched scream.

‘What?’ shrieked Sinbad, irritated, as he turned towards Husayn. And it was then that he saw it. A ghastly eight-foot-tall creature – skeletal, scarlet red, dressed in rags. Its elongated mouth and slits, in place of a nose, quivered. A long, black ponytail on its otherwise bald head was the only hair it had. Its ribs were visibly jutting out of its diaphragm. Even the spine was visible, protruding from the skinless skeleton. But the eyes – they were pitch-black as if the creature had no irises. It was so close to him, breathing hard. And it was then that their eyes met.

If that weren’t bad enough, then came a bone-chilling scream. From the side of the beach were the unknowing couple stood.

Great. They found the corpse.

More from the Penguin Digest

error: Content is protected !!