A strange and twisted tale of kidnapping, gangsta drug dealers and a conflict between voodoo shamans…

Kidnapped by Black Wolf

2015 saw us involved in a Voodoo war. It wasn’t something we welcomed. We had no choice. It was a case of honor and loyalty. It all began with a phone call from a lady called Marita. She’d been a good friend of my voodoo mentor Earl Marlowe’s when she was young. Now in her early fifties, she had a problem on her hands. Her daughter Yolanda had got involved with a nasty piece of work – a drug dealer who called himself Black Wolf.

“Yolanda has fallen for this guy big time,” she told me. “But I’m certain there’s more to it than that. He’s got some shady people working for him that are into witchcraft. And I think he’s had something put on her.”

Marita told me Yolanda used to be fun-loving and outgoing, and had big dreams of making a difference in the world, but since her involvement with Black Wolf she had become withdrawn from her family and friends, and seemed to have given up on her dreams.

Only 12 months before, my daughter Imogen had inked a tattoo for Yolanda – from one of Imogen’s own designs called “Way Of All-Flesh.”

During the tattoo session Imogen had explained to Yolanda, “We all go the way of all flesh and rot. There’s no escaping it. But the thing is we can all too easily ‘rot’ before our time, become cynical, and give up on our dreams. The tattoo is to remind you never to do that. It will be a symbol of your determination.”

Imogen embedded sigils of power within the tattoo, which Yolanda could activate at a time of dire need. While inking the sigils Imogen had intoned a chant in Unknown Tongues, the language of the spirits and the subconscious. Yolanda loved the tattoo, the meaning behind it, and the idea of the sigils embedded into the design. She was adamant that she would never give up on her dreams.

But sadly, it seemed, that only a year later those dreams had been forgotten…

Yolanda had fallen in with Black Wolf after meeting him at a nightclub in London’s West End. He had money and charm, and people seemed to respect him. In truth, they feared him.

But Yolanda didn’t see that. She saw what she wanted to see.

Black Wolf would drive her around in his black BMW 7 Series, R&B pumping from the sound system. He bought her clothes and jewelry, and wined her and dined her at the best joints in town.

When Yolanda introduced Black Wolf to Marita, she immediately knew he was a bad sort.

“That guy was too showy, and there was a coldness in his eyes,” she told me. “It was obvious he didn’t run a legitimate business and was into something shady. But Yolanda just didn’t see it.”

Marita’s warnings had been ignored and soon mother and daughter began to fall out.

It wasn’t long before Yolanda had moved in with Black Wolf.

“She used to tell me everything,” Marita said tearfully, “now we hardly talk.”

She thought witchcraft had been used on Yolanda.

In my view it was Yolanda’s choice. And it’s not uncommon for a relationship to cause bad feeling in families, especially when a parent feels protective towards a daughter.

As for witchcraft, the way I saw it was, love is its own enchantment, and you can’t exactly pick and choose who it is that “enchants” you. It comes out of the blue like a lightning bolt.

Black Wolf might not have been ideal, but he was the one Yolanda had fallen for.

I said as much to Marita, But I promised her I’d look into it and do what I could to make sure Yolanda was OK.

She just said: “You mark my words, Doc, Black Wolf will be the death of my Yolanda.”

Sheik Isaiah

I called my voodoo brother, Professor Crow, and asked him to look into it. Part of the Prof’s manor is in East London, not far from where Black Wolf is based. So I thought if he sniffed around we’d get some solid intel.

A few days later Prof got back.

With a deep sigh, he said: “I’m hearin’ bad things on the ground about that miserable low-life Black Wolf. For starters, he got a freaky motherfucker called Sheik Isaiah on his payroll. Bad ass conjure worker that calls up black jinns just to jerk him off for diabolic kicks.”

Prof went on to relate rumors that Black Wolf was one of the UK’s major drug traffickers, and that Sheik Isaiah had performed rites of sacrifice to keep the cops off of Black Wolf ‘s back.

Heavy stuff. And not something we’d want to involve ourselves in. And besides, we love animals and despise those that practice sacrifice. But as Prof said, “We haven’t gotta choice.

One of our own is embroiled in this shit and we have to get her out.”

He was right. I owed it to Earl Marlowe on account of his friendship with Marita. And Prof ‘s voodoo master had been in the same circle as Earl. So we both felt it a matter of honor to do all we could. Fight to the death if need be.

After hanging up the phone to Prof, I climbed on my motorcycle, kicked the beast into first gear, and sped off to visit Imogen who was working on some Manga tattoos for a member of a prominent dance/rap music duo. She took a break from inking and we holed up in a cafe in Kings Cross.

I asked her if she’d seen Yolanda lately.

“She doesn’t answer messages much,” she said “but I did see Yolanda for a coffee the other week. She said she’d been really busy, and that her and Black Wolf were getting on great. Didn’t ring true, though. Plus she looked wasted and very nervous. Made me think she’d got into drugs.”

Imogen said that after she and Yolanda had chatted for a while she did start to open up.

Yolanda had told her: “To be honest, I think I’m out of my depth. I’m afraid of Black Wolf’s friend, Sheik Isaiah, he’s sinister and scary, and is always staring at me. And the other night, when Black Wolf was out till late I had a dream that I was in an ancient church, and Sheik Isaiah was there pointing a bone at me – it was like a witch doctor was trying to steal my soul. When I woke up, I was covered in mosquito bites, but there wasn’t any insects in the room. And then I went to the bathroom and didn’t lock the door, but when I tried to get out it was locked and I couldn’t get it to open. It freaked me out. Then I heard these squealing noises like a pig, and I had the feeling something was coming for me…something bad…and it was always watching me. Finally I got the door open but when I looked around, I couldn’t find anything that could have made those horrible noises. So I got back into bed, but then I felt these terrible spasms going through my body, and pains in my arms and feet. It was like a creature was inside me, like a lizard…”

Yolanda’s story was interrupted by some guy stepping into the coffee shop.

“Yolanda,” he said.

“Over here…”

“She left in a hurry,” recalled Imogen, “and she looked really scared.”

Red Lodge

There was no doubt about it in my mind. Something needed to be done. So I gathered the rest of the troops together. The Prof and Imogen were already in. But I also called in Poe, a business guy, and a skilled sailor and follower of the samurai Bushido code. (He got his nickname “Poe” due to being a big fan since boyhood of horror writer Edgar Allen Poe.)

We might not have been many. But we were a force to be reckoned with.

We were holed up at the Red Lodge transport cafe near Bury St. Edmunds, which often serves as our command center. It’s full of truckers and bikers, along with a handful of tourists.

Nobody bothers you or gives you a second glance, and the food, while basic, is exactly what you need when you are out on the road.

Traditional transport cafes are few and far-between in the UK these days. So the Red Lodge has become something of a homage to the past before everything became sanitized and fake.

After a breakfast of bacon and eggs, and strong tea (or in the Prof ‘s case: tea with additional bourbon), I called the meeting to order.

“What we need to do is spring Yolanda out of the Black Wolf ‘s lair,” I said.

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Naturally this is going to be far from easy,” I said. “Black Wolf and his crew are heavy and ruthless. Plus they’ve got strength in numbers. So the way I see it is we will have to use stealth, get in by the back door, and spirit Yolanda away before anybody notices. Again, not easy. Black Wolf watches her every move.”

“Agreed,” said the Prof. “My big worry is Sheik Isaiah. That scumbag is bound to have a trick or two up his grimy sleeve.”

I nodded and said: “That’s where you come in. Fight fire with fire. Unleash some heavy sorcery against the Sheik.”

“Yep,” said the Prof, “call up the meanest, most bad-ass spirits from my granddaddy’s old grimoire. Set that Sheik screaming! And run a halo of protection around us.”

“We’re going to need it,” I said. “Black Wolf fights dirty.”

Prof had looked into Black Wolf ‘s operation and was certain he’d got Yolanda more-or-less imprisoned at his HQ in Hackney, East London, a warehouse-come-dwelling-place backing on to the River Lea. It was a fortress. But I had a plan.

“What we need to do is enter the place from the river,” I said. “Black Wolf and his team won’t expect that. And that’s where you come in, Poe. We need you to take your sailboat down the River Lea. Take Prof along and spring Yolanda, while I cause a distraction at the front of the building.”

“Wait one hot fucking minute,” spluttered Prof over a mouthful of hot tea mixed with bourbon. “No way I’m getting on that rickety old sailboat Poe sails. He near drowned us both last time!”

Poe laughed, “I think that was down to you Prof,” he said. “Too much bourbon. But we’ve got a new moon coming up which means it will be nice and dark, and there will be a spring tide making the current stronger.”

Once Yolanda was sprung, the plan was for Poe and Prof to take her up river and get her to a safe place (Poe’s boathouse in Hertfordshire), where Imogen would look to helping her sort her life out.

The main downside of the plan was that, with me creating the distraction at the front of the stronghold, Black Wolf would know who had freed Yolanda from his thrall – and this was guaranteed to cause an all-out war. At the very least it would make me a prime target for his wrath.

But I decided I’d worry about that later.

Ritual by the river

Three days after our meeting at the Red Lodge, under a new moon, Poe and Professor Crow were sailing down the River Lea in Hertfordshire en route to London and Black Wolf ‘s stronghold.

Poe handled the tiller and sails with his usual skill and expertise; the water was his natural habitat. Not so for the Prof, who was looking decidedly uneasy as he slurped every-so-often from a bottle of Jim Beam.

The Prof lit up a cigar, looked into the river, grimaced, then said: “I’m relying on you to keep us outta da drink. Big, nasty croc suppose to be living on the River Lea. They say that critter swallowed up Canada geese and cygnets. Dragged ’em under in seconds.”

Poe laughed. “If the stories are true,” he said, “it’s more likely a Wels Catfish not a crocodile. Small numbers of them do live on the Thames and its tributaries.”

“Whatever it is, I don’t plan on meetin’ it,” said Prof grumpily.

After sailing past Ware and Stanstead Abbots, Poe moored the sail-boat close to a wooded area, and the two disembarked. Prof carrying his doctor’s bag full of dark and arcane conjure items. They trooped over to a clearing in the woods, and Prof began setting up his ritual area.

“Gonna be calling up some black spirits,” he told Poe. “Nasty motherfuckers, but ain’t nothin’ to be afeared of so long as you got liquor and cigars to appease ’em.”

Poe is a natural skeptic, but it always sends a shiver down his spine when the Prof gets into action with his conjure work.

“I’ll sit over here on this log,” said Poe uneasily.

“You do that,” replied Prof. “An’ if dem spirits gets the better o’ me you better run, and don’t look back. Don’t want ’em followin’ you home.”

With that Prof placed nine empty food cans in a wide triangle. He then stuffed rags into each of the cans and doused them in vegetable oil. Next he pulled out his Zippo lighter and lit each of the rags in turn. Soon the whole area lit up. He then pulled out a skull and placed it at the apex of the triangle of light.

It was a makeshift ritual area. Candles are no use outside if there is any hint of a breeze (which there always is). Cans with rags doused in oil make an ideal replacement.

While Poe looked on, the Prof stood in the center of the triangle of light, and began the process of conjuring the spirit from the skull. First he began to sway and chant in a strange tongue until he started to shake, first his arms, then his legs, then his whole body.

Shaking is one of the most powerful aspects of sorcery. Yet it’s hardly ever talked about. But shamans have done it going back to antiquity. And it was central to the religious practices of the early Shakers and Quakers, as highlighted by the very names these groups called themselves.

As a form of meditation it beats hands-down anything found in Yoga or so-called Mindfulness.

And if you ever find yourself in a state of shock after an incident, you will benefit hugely from “shaking it out” (it’s what animals do after the shock of escaping a predator).

After about ten minutes of shaking, the Prof fell to the ground and went quiet. He had entered the gates to the etheric plane and was walking the crystalline pinpoint between the worlds. Poe noticed a strange, death-like chill come over the wooded area. He really wished he wasn’t there. Prof ‘s methods were scary. But Poe knew that, whatever “spiritual” mumbo jumbo it was Prof practiced, it seemed to bring results that couldn’t easily be explained.

Next thing, Prof ‘s prone body started jerking as if he was having an epileptic fit. Every now and then he let out a blood-curdling scream. And then it all seemed to stop, and the Prof slowly heaved himself up onto his feet, and put out the fires in the cans, one by one.

Poe noticed the eerie chill in the air lift, and he breathed a sigh of relief that the proceedings were over. He didn’t care for this spooky side of Prof. He liked him well-enough, even his cantankerous side, and besides he saw Prof as a brother, but considered he walked a very dark spiritual path, a far cry from the sanitized systems of spirituality and magic around today.

But that was good. Prof got things done.

Once Prof had got over the disorientating state produced by his ritual, he said to Poe, “Spirits tole me Yolanda’s spirit is trapped in limbo, her soul been stolen – the work of that mofo Sheik Isaiah. But if we can free her from Black Wolf ‘s lair we can get young Imogen to reactivate that tattoo she inked on Yolanda an’ recover her spirit, ‘long with fixin’ up a spiritual forcefield around her soul matrix. Then we can look at hittin’ the Sheik with confounding conjure, root his evil ways for good.”

As the two climbed back aboard the sailboat, Prof added, “I also fixed up a halo of protection ’round us. Should put luck on our side and stop the Sheik from divinin’ what we are up to.”

With that, Poe set sail, hand on the tiller, while the Prof took a few almighty slugs from his bottle of Jim Beam.

Confrontation with the drug firm

Meanwhile, I was rolling down the A10 into London on my Suzuki GSX 600 F, which I’d turned into a low-rider bobber or “rat bike” by chopping it and spraying it matt black and fitting straight bars and loud straight-through exhaust – making me sound like one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse when thundering up behind anyone.

I shifted down to third as I headed through Edmonton and Tottenham recalling the times, back in the day, when Earl Marlowe and I did our conjure work around North London, usually riding motorcycles.

I wished Earl was still around to help us this night. Things were very likely to get hairy. There was little doubt about that.

I pulled into a side-road, switched off the bike’s engine, then pulled out my phone and called Poe.

“I’m about 20 minutes away from Black Wolf ‘s HQ ,” I told him. “What’s your ETA?”

“We’re almost there,” said Poe. “The back of the warehouse is in sight, and no-one is likely to see us as I’ve lowered the sails, and we’re about to moor up close by.”

So long as Poe didn’t run the motor, the sailboat offered stealth and a reasonable getaway if he and Prof managed to free Yolanda. Everything was going to plan, so I fired up the bike’s engine and got back on the main drag.

The traffic wasn’t too heavy as I putted down through Stoke Newington, then eastwards into Hackney. Soon I pulled into a parking lot in front of Black Wolf ‘s HQ: a darkly-lit warehouse.

I could see security cameras so was pretty sure his crew would immediately be aware of my presence.

I put the bobber into neutral, kept my helmet on, and left the engine running ready for a fast exit. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves, and waited, knowing that somebody would come out shortly to see who I was and what I wanted.

I didn’t have to wait long. Out of the front double-doors of the warehouse came Black Wolf – a powerfully-built, slightly Latin-looking African. He was flanked on either side by four members of his crew, all of whom were burly and covered in tattoos. Staying behind them in the shadows was an older, grizzled guy with glyph-like tattoos across his face and holding a long wooden stick with symbols carved on it. I assumed that this was Sheik Isaiah.

Black Wolf fixed a stony gaze on me, and asked in oddly archaic patrician tones, “To whom do I owe the pleasure?”

“I’m Doktor Snake,” I replied. “Most people call me ‘Doc’. I’m here on behalf of Yolanda’s mother, Marita. And I’m here to parley peacefully. Marita is naturally concerned about her daughter’s well-being. She’d like to know that she’s OK, and ideally to see her…”

Black Wolf raised his hand to silence me. I had to give it to him, he had presence and came across as formidable as I would have imagined the infamous warlord Genghis Khan would have been.

“I do know your name,” said Black Wolf. “You’re a notable voodoo man and in other circumstances we may have had much to discuss. But let me be clear, when it comes to Yolanda, there is nothing to discuss. She has chosen her path. She has disowned her family. And we are her family now.”

“We both know that’s not true,” I said. “Sure, she fell for you in the first instance. But now it’s drugs that are keeping her dependent on you, that and being voodoo’d by the Sheik over there.”

A menacing grimace came over Black Wolf ‘s face. I placed my left foot over my bike’s gear lever in case things turned nasty and I had to make a quick getaway.

“Sheik Isaiah prophesied that the Wolf would come into conflict with the Snake,” Black Wolf said between gritted teeth. “But he also predicted that the Wolf would devour the Snake.”

“Like all low-rent fortune tellers,” I said, “he’s just telling you what you want to hear.”

Black Wolf didn’t like that, and judging by Sheik Isaiah’s face, he didn’t either.

Black Wolf moved closer towards me and said: “What’s to stop us trashing you and your bike right here, right now?”

As Black Wolf ‘s crew edged forward there was a ping from my phone, which meant Poe and the Prof had sprung Yolanda and had set sail up river.

I quickly kicked my bike into gear, opened the throttle, and gunned out of the warehouse’s parking lot with Black Wolf shouting “Get him!!!”

I half-expected to hear gunshots. But this is not likely to happen in the UK due to the stringent gun laws – you’d get a police armed-response unit down on you in minutes. That said, I needed to get out of London as fast as possible as Black Wolf and his crew would soon discover that Yolanda was gone, and would hop into their BMWs in pursuit. So the sooner I was off their radar the better.

I blasted the motorcycle up the A10 through Tottenham and Edmonton, then took some B roads and lanes to ensure there was no chance of Black Wolf and his crew catching up with me. Black Wolf would likely know I was based in East Anglia rather than London, and would gun up the A10 in the hope of tracking me down. Problem was he’d also put his feelers out to locate my main HQ and other premises I used.

Basically, springing Yolanda had started a war, and we needed to be prepared to fight it and win.

Psychic attack

With my headlamps on full beam I rode through the rural areas of Hertfordshire just outside London, and eventually pulled into a little lane that led to Poe’s boathouse, not far from Ware.

Lights were on inside, and I noticed Poe’s sailboat moored up. For speed, I guessed Poe had run his electric motor to get them up-river faster. I took off my helmet and gloves and went inside the boathouse.

Everybody was there – Prof relaxing with a cigar and a bottle of Bud, Poe putting away his various items of boat gear. Imogen was in a corner of the room with Yolanda who looked wasted, either from drugs or bad voodoo, or both.

Prof offered a “V” for victory salute, and Poe gave the thumbs up. “We did it,” he said.

“Good work all round,” I said, “but it’s far from over. Black Wolf is not going to take this lying down. It’s going to be all-out war, and we need to be prepared.”

I wasn’t wrong. Only an hour or so later my phone rang. It was Black Wolf (he’d obviously got my number from the internet).

His message was terse and to the point.

“We’re going to crush you,” he said and hung up.

Moments later the lights began to flicker, then went out. Poe found some candles and lit them. “Power outage,” he said.

“Maybe…” said Prof.

Just then there was an eerie scratching at the door. We all looked at each other. I grabbed an iron bar which I’d stashed at the boathouse.

“Could be a stray dog after food and company,” I said.

“Or the work of Sheik Isaiah…” said Prof ominously.

Either way, I went over to the door and threw it open, my bar at the ready…but there was nothing there. I looked around outside. Still nothing…

At that moment, to our relief, the lights came back on.

“It may be coincidence,” I said, “but I think we need to assume that Black Wolf will be out to get us on multiple levels – physically and on the magical plane.”

With that we got down to making plans. I could see no other choice but to force a showdown, ideally at a “place of power” that we knew. I suggested the Gog Magog Downs, a range of chalk hills running several miles to the south-east of Cambridge (an area inhabited as far back as Bronze Age times, but abandoned by late Saxon times). The dowser and archaeologist Tom Lethbridge claimed to have found some ancient figures buried in the chalk under the surface of the hills. These, he said, represented a sun god, moon goddess and warrior god.

All this suggested the area was likely considered sacred in ancient times, and so it fitted the bill as a “place of power.”

One thing was for sure, we’d have the gods and ghosts of yore, the ancestors of our land, on our side. Ours was an old rural sorcery, whereas Black Wolf and Sheik Isaiah’s was a tainted form of urban magic, born of polluted, corporate and consumer culture that makes up our current age of lies.

So it seemed to me we should entice Black Wolf out of London into the wild countryside, and take him on there. Both Prof and Poe agreed.

We set about formulating our strategy.

Sigil activation

The following day, Imogen took Yolanda up to Bury St. Edmunds, a picturesque town in the heart of Suffolk, where Marita joined them, relieved to see her daughter again. They were holed up in a comfortable apartment not far from the medieval abbey of St. Edmund.

Yolanda was slouched on a couch, listless and still very much out of it.

“Do we need to call a doctor?” said Marita.

“Possibly,” said Imogen. “But first I need to activate the sigils I embedded in the tattoo I did for her, that should recover her life force and spirit. Medical doctors aren’t a lot of use when it comes to spiritual illness. We use only use them in a last resort.”

Imogen picked up her bag and pulled out her conjure rod, a short painted stick covered in glyphs and sigils. She held it over Yolanda and intoned a chant in Unknown Tongues, calling on the ancestors that reside on the etheric plane. She circled the conjure rod around the outline of the “Way of All Flesh” tattoo she’d inked a year ago on Yolanda’s shoulder.

Soon Yolanda felt a warm tingling run through her arm, which was a sign of the life force flowing. She opened her eyes, which began to show a spark of the intangible energy that makes us alive.

Yolanda heaved a sigh, refreshing her lungs with the breath of life, and said, “Oh God, it’s like I’m coming round from a bad hangover…”

“Well, you lost it for a long time,” said Imogen. “And now it’s about finding your dreams again, and bringing back your spirit.”

“I made a big mistake with Black Wolf, didn’t I?” said Yolanda.

“We all make mistakes,” said Imogen. “The secret is to always be true to yourself and never give up your vital spirit. But it’s understandable. You fell for Black Wolf and he just happened to be a bad guy, one of the worst kind. And what with Sheik Isaiah’s freakish sorcery, you weren’t in a good position to see things clearly.”

Over the next few days, Yolanda improved immensely, and with Imogen’s help, got herself back on track. But Black Wolf was still an ever-present threat. And it was down to me, Prof and Poe to stop him in his tracks…

Battle of Gogmagog

I texted Black Wolf and suggested we sort our differences out, peacefully, at a neutral location. The Gog Magog Downs fitting the bill as it has a public carpark and is used regularly by walkers and ramblers. And it would just be a question of meeting in a more remote part of the Gog Magogs so we wouldn’t be disturbed by the civilian classes. Maybe just say meet in remote part of Gog magogs.

Black Wolf texted back saying he and Sheik Isaiah and two of his crew would meet us. So I sent back an Ordnance Survey map location saying “be there at midnight.”

I knew full well that Black Wolf would have no intention of sorting our differences out peacefully. But there was little choice but to get this done, and we’d wing it as best we could.

It took about an hour to get over to Cambridge. With Poe riding shotgun, Prof was at the wheel of his trusty mid-1960s Rover P4, all black with smoked-glass windows, while I kept pace behind them on my motorcycle. We took the bypass towards Cherry Hinton, with the lights of Cambridge to the west, then motored over to the Gog Magog Hills.

We arrived at the public car park. I hauled my bike up on the centerstand, took my gloves and helmet off, and went over to Poe and Prof, who were unloading items from the BMW. Prof had his conjure doctor’s bag and Poe had his martial arts stick as a deterrent against trouble.

As for me, I’d be relying on luck, and if it came to it, my row of chunky silver rings on all my fingers – in the UK a “legal” knuckleduster. (It was Earl who first put me onto this. He said, “Britain ain’t Arizona, law won’t let us carry guns if we run into trouble, all we can do is even up the odds the best we can.”)

I took a final look over at my bike and hoped I’d be riding it away from here that night…

Prof said, “OK, boys, we might be all too old for this, but it’s time to kick some ass!”

With that, we trudged over the dark hills of the Gog Magogs. All was quiet when we got to the meet-point. We’d checked for potential ambush, but there was no sign of Black Wolf and his crew. So we waited quietly, listening for any sound of our adversary approaching.

I took a hit from my vape pipe, blew out a big cloud of vapor, and saw some movement at a clump of nearby trees.

“Here they come,” I whispered.

Soon Black Wolf, Sheik Isaiah, and two of his crew, were facing us, decked out for war. His two foot-soldiers were wielding chains, Black Wolf clutched a baseball bat, and the Sheik had his JuJu staff and, like Prof, a bag of sorcery artifacts.

I made the first move, “I see you come in peace, Black Wolf,” I said, nodding towards his baseball bat.

“You never thought I would,” he said. “You knew it was war when you started it.”

I stepped forward, noticing Black Wolf ‘s two henchmen tighten their grip on their chains.

I didn’t relish this confrontation. Bottom line was it didn’t look like we’d be coming out of it unscathed, if we came out at all.

As a last ditch for conciliation, I said, “Look, we don’t have to do this. Yolanda wants out, and let’s face it, you’ve got the pick of women in your circle. Just accept that she’s gone, and we’ll all go our separate ways.”

Black Wolf ‘s face went hard and stony, and he said, “You invaded my space and stole my property…and be assured Yolanda is mine. And there is a price to pay for your audacity.”

With that, he nodded to Sheik Isaiah who took his rootin’ bone out of his pocket and pointed it at Prof, then shrieked a weird, inhuman incantation.

Prof winced and fell to his knees. Weird lights seemed to spark in the cool air.

Poe and I held our ground, but Black Wolf ‘s henchman backed off a little, clearly wary of the witchdoctor’s power.

Prof reached into his conjure bag and pulled out macabre-looking wax ball with herbs and twigs sealed into it – a hex bomb – and hurled it at Sheik Isaiah, who fell backwards as if he’d been physically punched in the stomach. Eerie whispers echoed around the area and the dark shadows from the trees seemed to take on living forms. Prof ‘s hex bomb had awoken the spirits of the landscape

Just then Black Wolf breathed “Fuck this spiritual shit!” and charged at me with his baseball bat, while his henchmen went for Poe swinging’ their chains.

I quickly dodged Black Wolf ‘s assault, but took some of the force of his bat against my leg and tumbled to the ground. Next thing he leapt on me throwing a couple of heavy punches to my face and head. With an almighty effort I managed to throw him off, but was well-aware of his superior physical strength, and that fighting is incredibly fatiguing unlike on TV and in movies. You lose your strength in seconds, minutes if you are lucky… you realize that working out, even daily, doesn’t prepare you for physical combat. Nevertheless I managed to launch a heavy kick to Black Wolf ‘s stomach, the impact of my weighty engineer motorcycle boots making him fall backwards, then hit him with a right hook, my chunky silver rings embedding in his jaw.

Meanwhile Poe was holding off Black Wolf ‘s henchmen, even though he’d taken a hit from one their chains to the side of his face and he was bleeding quite heavily.

To the left of me, Prof was duelling magically with Sheik Isaiah. But now the Sheik had pulled a large knife and was moving towards Prof, determined to finish him off…

Next thing I knew, Black Wolf was towering above me with his baseball bat, and his two henchmen, though they’d taken a beating, had got Poe on the ground and were about to lay into him with their chains.

Right then I knew we were defeated and very likely wouldn’t get out without serious injuries, or worse. All I could do was reach within to the primal depths of my subconscious and call upon the atavisms that reside in that mysterious dream-like realm for help. It was a last ditch attempt to turn this conflict around. As I did so a strange calmness came upon me, despite the fact that Black Wolf was about to pummel me without mercy.

Just then Black Wolf seemed to hesitate, like he’d seen something in my eyes – some image from the unseen world I was accessing.

Out of nowhere came the roar of two motorcycles, strange, ghostly iron horses moving into the area of the fight. On one cycle was a black guy, on the other a biker with the look of a Viking warrior with graying long hair and beard. I thought I must be hallucinating after taking a swipe to the head from Black Wolf that I didn’t know about – because there was no doubt about it, the black man was Earl Marlowe, and the “Viking warrior” was his old biker friend Johnny Redstone…back from the dead.

It was a ghostly vision. But clearly everybody saw it. Sheik Isaiah, Black Wolf and his two henchmen backed away.

“What the fuck is this?!” growled Black Wolf.

In that moment of hesitation, Poe, a martial arts expert, swung his stick taking down both the henchmen and Black Wolf himself, leaving them stunned on the ground. I ran over to Black Wolf and tore off his expensive gold wolf pendant which would be taken as a sign of defeat, and one he would not easily live down. I pocketed the pendant for safekeeping knowing I could use it against Black Wolf as proof that he and his crew had been taken down.

Prof marched up to Sheik Isaiah and grabbed the knife out of his hand, then almost instantly threw a heavy punch right in his face, knocking him backwards. “You’re nothing but a two-bit snake oil motherfucker,” he hissed between gritted teeth.

Battered and bruised, I grabbed Poe and Prof and said, “We need to leave fast…”

Before sprinting for the carpark, I took a look back but there was no sign of the two motorcycles. The ghostly riders had disappeared. But Black Wolf and his crew were getting to their feet, screaming curses at us, so we made our escape as fast as we could.

Once we got to the carpark, Prof and Poe leapt into the BMW, while I donned my helmet and gloves and fired my bike to life. We gunned out of the car park and made for the A11 pushing our vehicles to 90mph once we hit the main drag.

As I rode my bike under the neon lights of the A11 I mused on the events of the night.

Clearly Black Wolf would be incensed at having been defeated by us and would want to get us at all costs. But because I’d got his gold wolf pendant he would know that I could destroy his reputation if I showed it to rival organizations in his world – and his rep would go up in smoke.

Plus I felt that the appearance of the two ghostly riders would have freaked out Sheik Isaiah, and probably, if the truth be known, Black Wolf too. They’d had victory in their sights but it had been taken from them by forces unknown…

So I wasn’t surprised when I received a text from Black Wolf the following day, saying: “OK, let’s say we call it quits? You don’t come near me, and I don’t come near you…ever.”

I texted back, “Deal,” and that proved to be that. Black Wolf desperately needed to keep his reputation intact and wasn’t going to take action that would jeopardize it.

The good thing was Yolanda had got her spirit back and was reunited with her mother, and we’d honored my loyalty to Earl Marlowe… whose ghostly specter had seemingly saved the day, though I still felt bewildered by the apparition and half wondered if it had been some form of bizarre hallucination. But that’s often the case with sorcery; you find your conscious mind reeling from the unexplained.

Message from the dead

A couple of weeks later, as the sun was setting, I was putting along the A11 on my motorcycle and I pulled in at the towering war memorial at the side of an open stretch of road not far from Elveden in Norfolk.

I shut off the engine, took off my helmet and gloves, and soaked up the warming rays of the sun while toking on my vape pipe.

My reverie was broken by the deep rumble of two motorcycles pulling into the side of the road where I was parked. Two bikers, with long flowing gray hair, mirror shades and goatee beards, one on a custom Triumph TR6C, the other on a Harley chopper. They nodded to me.

Neither shut down their engines or took their helmets off.

One of them pulled a thick notebook out of his messenger bag and said, “I was told to give this to you.”

With that, the two gunned their engines and rode off into the sunset.

I opened the notebook and it was filled with an angular scrawl that I recognized – Earl Marlowe’s handwriting… As I leafed through it I saw that it was a book of life wisdom undoubtedly by Earl himself. I knew he used to keep a notebook in which he recorded his deepest thoughts and musings about life. But after he passed on we never found it. I presumed he’d disposed or it, even burned it.

The question was: Who were the two bikers who gave it to me? I hadn’t recognized either.

And more to the point how could they have known where I was? Had they been following me and I hadn’t noticed them in my mirrors? I didn’t think so as, if you are a motorcyclist yourself, you tend to notice other bikers, and give them a nod or wave on the road.

Given the ghostly experience we’d had at our confrontation with Black Wolf, I began to wonder if the two bikers were part of some ghostly troupe associated with Earl and Johnny Redstone in the otherworld of separate reality. Maybe they were part of a modern day version of the “wild hunt” led by the old Saxon magician/warrior god Woden that, according to legend, rode the desolate parts of the countryside on horses.

Whatever the truth of it, I had Earl’s book of wisdom, and somehow I felt it was connected to us doing the honorable thing and helping out Yolanda in her time of need.

Without further ado, I got back on my bike, put on my gloves and helmet, gunned the engine to life, and cruised up the A11 towards Norwich. As I rode, some of the words I’d just read in Earl’s notebook flowed through my mind:

“All is illusion and reality is what you make it. You are the captain of your mental ship, and you are the only one at the helm. But you have the wheel and you can steer your ship through terrible tempests in life towards temperament currents…but only you can do this. Whatever happens in life is your creation. Shit happens. But it is how you deal with it that matters. The greatest conjurer is you. You create your world and your life. Always remember to keep a firm grip on the wheel and never waver from your course once you’ve found it.”

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