In the early 2000s, a man collapsed in front of a police station. He was completely naked and possessed a skeletal frame. Bystanders saw this action transpire, but they continued their stroll out of the assumption he was merely a drug addict who had become dependent on whatever substance he was taking. The chief of police came to the station not too long after the man fainted. Without much delay, he sends for some of his men to collect the man and bring him inside.
The man awoke in the interrogation room with a warm, wool blanket around him. His eyes were sunken in most likely from weeks of insomnia. He shakily had a cup of coffee in his hands: every instant he went to take a swig of the beverage, he spasmed in his chair, spilling the hot liquid on the floor. He looked behind his back constantly during the interview. He brought his cup down on the table and cupped his face hiding his shame.
"Sir, I'd like to introduce myself," the interrogator began, "My name is Officer Mackenzie, and I would like to ask you a few questions."
The man shook his head violently. "No! No! I can't!"
"Sir, we found you naked within arm's length of the station. We want to know what happened."
"I can't! He'll know where I'm at!"
Officer Mackenzie took a deep draw of his cigar and breathed out a ring of smoke. He waited a bit for the interviewee to recuperate. He set his timer to sixty minutes. During those minutes, he talked pleasurably with the man on unrelated topics to make the interviewee more comfortable in hopes of making him more lenient on elaborating what brought him there. The man breathed in slowly and took a final look behind his back before answering.
"Are you able to tell me what incidents brought you to our station?" Mackenzie asked.
"Yes," he said, "it may sound crazy, though."
Officer Mackenzie leaned backward in his chair, motioning for the man to continue. The interviewee's hands started to shake again, but he was able to choke out a mumbled line of words. "Have you...ever heard of the Popobawa?"
Officer Mackenzie stared at the man and then at his fellow officers. "No. I haven't."
The man sighed in relief. "You don't know? That's good."
"What does this...Pippy-Ba-Ra have to do with you?"
"That thing," the man drew out the last word, "is not of this Earth." He rubbed his eyes that were laced with eye bags. "He is some monster from this country I never heard of Zanzibar."
"Zanzibar?" Officer Mackenzie reiterated. "We live just north of Cherryshrub, Mississippi, son."
"My co-worker told me about the legend," the interviewee clarified, "I didn't believe it at first. Some bat thing from Hell who...well you know."
The interviewee was laughing nervously at the last note of his dialogue. Ugly tears began to fill his eyes as he deteriorated back into a sniveling wreck. "But I was wrong to encourage him like that. With my disbelief."
"What happened, son?"
"He...he appeared to me as a black cat that I pass on the way to work. That didn't intimidate me much. But each time I took the long drive home, I could've sworn I've felt a... dark presence watching my every movement. At night, as I laid in my bed, that same feeling of being watched arose in me. I saw a dark figure with a flaming eye glare at me from my closet. First, it was just a wing. Then another wing. His feet appeared immediately afterward. For an entire week, this thing stalked me, robbing me of my sleep. I held the covers firmly over my face by the time I saw his terrible, hideous eye. He spoke out to me in a voice only I could hear. That mocking, giddy voice continues to haunt me."
Officer Mackenzie raised an eyebrow. "So, this...creature from a country you never heard of kept you up at night and whispered to you?" Officer Mackenzie smashed the end of his cigarette butt onto the ashtray. “I understand being petrified by an urban legend, but what are we supposed to do about it?”
The interviewee shook his head defiantly. “No, you don’t understand!” His shaking returned more violent and unprovoked than earlier. “He snatched me away in the night and took me into his world! He put his disgusting body on top of me and pressed down against me. My rib cages hurt so much, I thought he would crush them! He whispered horrible things to me and kept me as his prisoner for two months!” He broke down and banged his hands on the table. “He took me back home, and he made me do…horrid things to my wife and daughter. Amelia, baby, please forgive your foolish father!”
Without warning, he gripped his arms and brought his forehead down onto the table. He bashed his head once, twice, three times. Office Mackenzie watched the display with disturbance and ordered some of his fellow officers to restrain the man from bashing his head further. His forehead split open causing blood to trickle down. The ambulance was alerted to the situation an hour later, and they wheeled the man away in a gurney.
That night, Officer Mackenzie found himself further disturbed by what the interviewee had disclosed to him. Popobawa? Zanzibar? Mind control? He was barely able to comprehend anything that he was informed. In the middle of the night, he decided to conduct some research into this strange monster. A few hours on the internet proved fruitful. He was what the natives of Zanzibar referred to as a shetani or an evil spirit. From the looks of it, he was giving the populace quite the scare. Mass hysteria erupted in his wake; some were even killed under the false notion of them being the Popobawa. He thought back to the interviewee and how his lower regions were bleeding (contributing to him collapsing from what seemed at the time to be blood loss.
The Popobawa’s origins were…sketchy at best. Some cite him being conjured by a sheik who was angered with his neighbors but as with any curse, it backfired tremendously. It had a perverted love for the most deplorable of the cardinal sins and in each of the cases, it broke into people’s homes and violated them, or possessed family members into committing the crimes before leaving them to psychologically deteriorate from the realization behind their actions. That called to mind something that the interviewee had mentioned about the creature making him do indescribable things to his wife and daughter. Mackenzie couldn’t help but cringe at the thought.
“So, what he apparently hates the most is when people vehemently deny his existence?” he pondered. He shrugged his shoulders before yawning. Whatever the case, he had spent too much time online researching something that very well sounded ridiculous.
Life continued normally for Officer Mackenzie. He oversaw the training of new officers and wrote and filed reports on the occasional changes the police department mandated. In July 2001, Officer Mackenzie was reviewing the latest police report, one of his lieutenants ran in.
“Sir, you may want to see this.”
Without delay, Officer Mackenzie followed suit of his lieutenant to an apartment building. The road was blocked off by the ambulance. Yellow crime scene paper aligned the scene of the crime. From what the witnesses could describe, a man jumped off the second floor through one of the windows and collided on the roof of a car. Not much of his body survived the impact. Prior to his death, he complained of being stalked by some bat-winged monster who he blamed for his crimes of sexual abuse on his family. Even without a body, Officer Mackenzie didn’t have difficulty with the identity of the man.
Officer Mackenzie excused himself from the crime scene, deciding to take a stroll. Along the way, Mackenzie walked past an alleyway. Before turning around the next corner, he heard a small rustle in the dumpster. Curious, he walked into the abandoned alleyway. He readied his gun under the belief that an assailant was making that noise. A cat’s head popped up from the slashed garbage bags with a tilt suggesting curiosity.
“Wait, that’s a black cat,” Officer Mackenzie noted. The cat arched its back and jumped out of the dumpster. It landed by Mackenzie’s feet letting out a tiny “mew.” It rubbed itself against his legs, indicating wordlessly that it wanted to be picked up. Mackenzie sighed and complied to the feline’s wishes. “I guess you can come home with me.”
He arrived back home with the cat in tow. He was greeted by his wife and his son. His wife planted a kiss on his cheek while almost not noticing the feline in his hands. “Dear?” she asked, “why is there a cat?”
“Oh, I found this little scoundrel in the alleyway when I was notified of an incident.”
His wife shook her head. “I’ve heard about what happened. I hate that the man took his own life. How tragic.”
The couple’s young son became enamored by the cat, naming it George W. Bush. The two would often seclude themselves to play with each other. However, strange occurrences began to befall the home. Items were disappearing, and there was knocking throughout the home. The couch and other sofa were getting clawed open by George W. Bush. From there on, Officer Mackenzie placed George W. Bush in the garage. Nevertheless, mysterious happenings were continuing to plague the family.
One night after a grueling hour of work, Officer Mackenzie collapsed onto his bed and immediately slipped into sleep. Around 8, a chill ran down his spine for some unknown reason. Before he could comprehend what was happening, he found his eyes wandering towards his closet which was now open. He tried to rationalize it as just being the case of a gust of wind, but he stopped in his thoughts when he saw something large protruding from the closet. In the moonlight, he could make out a bat wing. However, it belonged to what may as well be a larger species than the ones native to his county.
“You have yet to believe that I exist?”
Mackenzie wanted to scream, but he felt something pressing down firmly on his abdomen. His arms were glued to his sides just as paralyzed. The door creaked open further when the wing began to beat in and up and down fashion. The scent of sulfur filled the room. Another bat wing emerged from the closet. The monster’s footsteps echoed on the floor. The large frame of the creature erupted from the restricted space. What Mackenzie saw next was the creature’s singular, flaming eye.
The Popobawa darted at Mackenzie like a speeding bullet. He swept the chief of police off his feet and made for the windowsill. Mackenzie’s wife shot awake from the sound of the glass breaking. Mackenzie regained consciousness and awoke to find himself in a strange realm. Within the realm, he saw what appeared to be emaciated skeletons in piles around the Popobawa. The realm was laced with a yellow hinge, explaining the smell of sulfur.
“Where am I?” Officer Mackenzie finally asked.
The Popobawa acted hurt. “You don’t remember me? As your cat, I was certain that you would recognize me.”
Officer Mackenzie’s eyes widened. He went to pick himself up, but he was still paralyzed. The large bat monster towered over him. Popobawa bent downwards with a demented smile on his face. “I’m so happy to have a new playmate. I once knew this man who also refused to believe in me. I stalked him relentlessly for weeks until I drove him mad.”
The grip that Popobawa had on Mackenzie increased. Mackenzie felt his rib cage straining from the monster’s weight. If the Popobawa did not relent, his rib cage would be crushed into a paste in no time. Warm blood was seeping out of Mackenzie’s mouth. His words came out in a garbled hush. “Please, Popobawa, what do you want of me?”
The Popobawa’s sadistic smile flared again. “You didn’t believe I existed. That other fool also refused to believe I existed. I kept him in my realm for a solid week, but the rules of my world do not even begin to resemble your own.” He cupped Mackenzie’s cheek with one of his single-fingered hands. The weight was now becoming unbearable. “I can’t decide whether to emasculate you here or now or crush you to nothingness. Either one is a fine idea for me.”
Mackenzie’s bones were on the brink of splintering. He was done for, he thought. His lungs were getting compressed as with his lower body. He was losing consciousness quickly. His eyes glazed over from the restricting of oxygen flow.
“I’ll tell others. Just please…”
The last thing he heard was the shrill laughter from Popobawa. He felt himself drifting away, certain that he was about to enter the Pearly Gates. The creature’s eye was glowing deeper. “Remember to tell others about what happened to you, or it will be worse next time.”
A blaring alarm stirred Mackenzie awake. Somehow, he was in the middle of a four-way way. His clothes were missing. More alarms sounded as the irritated drivers slammed down on their horns. Fully awake, Mackenzie sprinted to the side and called his wife. His wife was noticeably upset even though he felt that he was only gone for an hour. She arrived with fresh clothes and embraced her husband.
“We all thought you were dead, dear!”
“What? I was only gone for an hour.”
They returned home, the first person greeting them being their son. But something felt off about the development. Before he was kidnapped by the Popobawa, his son was still young. And yet, the boy before him was now 23 years old. Like his mother, he hugged his perplexed father.
“Son? What happened?” Mackenzie inquired, “when did you grow up so fast?”
His son was confused. “I got older, Dad,” he replied.
“But how can you be? I wasn't gone that long.”
His son had a look of depression on his face. "Dad, you were gone for 15 years."
Written by AustinDR