Pauline and Moses became inseparable friends from the time they learned to walk. Pauline’s parents lived on the upper floor of the house and rented the main floor to Moses’ parents, their closest friends.

Pauline, one year older, appointed herself protector of her smaller-built best friend. Moses, the intellect, assumed the leadership role of the duo. Everyone in the neighborhood grew accustomed to seeing the teenagers together. Their close bond often caused them to communicate without words.

While walking on the beach one day, Pauline spotted a calabash that the high tide had deposited on the shoreline. She pointed it out to Moses, whose curious mind drew him to the object to investigate. Someone had wedged a cork into a hole on the calabash. He picked it up and gave it a shake close to his ear to listen for movement inside. Hearing nothing, he placed it on the ground and wrestled with the cork.

“Let me try.” Pauline pulled the ball-shaped calabash toward her and tried to pull the cork out. She bit the cork and pulled but only managed to cut through it. She spat the salty piece of cork into the sand and slammed the calabash on a large rock. It bounced off and landed at Moses’ feet.

He dropped to his knees and used his thumb to push cork into the calabash. A thin wisp of gray smoke floated out of the hole. Pauline grabbed the calabash and sniffed the smoke. She rocked back and dropped it on the sand, panting for breath with watery eyes.

“You okay, Pauline?” Moses flipped glances between his friend and the calabash. ‘What happened?”

“Burning!” Pauline struggled to get the word out in a hoarse whisper.

“Hold on!” Moses sprang to his feet and sprinted to the breaking waves, peeling off his tee-shirt as he ran. He dipped the tee-shirt in the water and rushed back to Pauline. “Here, put this over your eyes!”

Pauline pressed the wet cloth to her eyes and and squeezed some water into her mouth, swallowing it with loud throaty sounds.

“It’s burning my sinuses and my throat!” Tears flowed through her fluttering eyelids. “I don’t feel well. I’m scared. I want to go home!”

They trudged home in silence. Moses held on to Pauline’s arm to steady her while she breathed through the cool cloth and dabbed her eyes with it.

Pauline went to bed and fell sound asleep. Moses sat by her side. A sound under the bed caught his attention. He lifted the sheet and peeked under. His heart stopped! The calabash rocked back and forth on the floor below Pauline. He gasped when Pauline started giggling in her sleep and then stopped. Her eyes popped open and she stared at him with wide red eyeballs. Goose bumps covered his body. He sprinted out the room to get Pauline’s mother.

His parents and Pauline’s rushed back to the room. Everyone gasped at the sight of Pauline levitating above the bed with her body arched.

“Pauline! Oh my God!” Pauline’s mother rushed to the bed and forced her daughter down. Moses’ parents joined in and together they pressed her back onto the bed.

“What’s going on here, Moses?” His mother glanced over her shoulder at him.

“We found a calabash on the beach and Pauline inhaled the smoke from it. It followed us home!” He pointed under the bed, which started to rise off the floor to give a clear view under it. The calabash made slow rotations!

“Hello Ramen.” Pauline glanced past everyone toward the door.

“Hello Basheeza.” Everyone spun around at the voice behind them. The old white-bearded stranger at the door stepped forward. “Hello everyone.” He pulled a new cork out of his pocket and handed it to Moses.

Frozen in shock, no one spoke. Moses stared at the cork between his trembling fingers.

“Our shift has come to an end.” He addressed Pauline. “However, the time has not yet arrived.”

“Time for what?” Moses swayed, using every ounce of willpower to avoid collapsing to the floor in a faint. “Oh my God! What have we done!”

“You have released Basheeza.” Ramen pointed to the slow turning calabash. “The one who will bring chaos to the world with wars that will end it. She is the Armageddon.”

“Have we caused the end of the world?” Moses’ heart thumped in his chest.

“No, not this time. This is only a changing of the guards for another hundred years.” Ramen’s soft voice sounded loud in the dead silence. “Basheeza has floated on the oceans for the last hundred years. You invited her back to the land of the living.”

Pauline’s clothing collapse. Her body transformed to gray smoke which stretched and became thin enough for the calabash to suck her in feet first, like a vacuum.

“You have been chosen to replace us.” Ramen glanced at Moses and pointed to the calabash. “Basheeza will leave with me for eternal rest, now that our job is done.”

Gray smoke left the calabash and moved toward Ramen. He inhaled it and turned to leave.

“Like you and your friend, Basheeza and I were best buddies with the ability to read each other’s mind.” He spoke over his shoulders as he moved closer to the door. “You and your friend also have this ability and will have to use it to communicate for the next hundred years.”

“Hundred years?” Disbelief sounded in Moses’ voice.

“Wedge the cork into the hole and set your friend adrift where you found the calabash.” Ramen vanished but his voice continued to give instructions in a hollow tone. “You must follow her travels and sleep in cemeteries. The wailing of the dead will alert you to the right time for the Armageddon. Your friend is now yin and you are yang.”

Moses left alone for the beach and never returned!