During Plato’s visit to the distant lands of Asia he learned about a mythical elixir called “Pumpkin Potion”. Story has it that if you enjoy the elixir from a golden cup under the northern lights (aka aurora borealis), you will be able to cast an ancient spell, bringing you unlimited wealth and prosperity. Plato, curious in nature, wanted to find out more about this elixir. For scientific purposes, of course!
After some research and plenty of intrusive questions, Plato found out that this extremely complicated elixir is boiled under special conditions. It can only be prepared once a year, during the full moon of October. The rumour has it that there’s only one person who is brave and skilled enough to make this elixir: an Indian shaman called Sham Po, located in New Delhi, India.
In the beginning of October, Plato set his course to India. After 9 hours of business class comfort, the plane finally landed in Indira Gandhi International Airport of Delhi. Wasting no time, Plato rushed towards Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets of the capital. According to the stories, that’s where the shaman could be found. Plato only knew that Sham Po owns a small and obscure booth where he sells dubious objects and liquids. The booth could be found somewhere in Chandni Chowk, but its exact location was unknown.
After strolling through the busy market streets for hours and hours, Plato was getting hopeless. It was like finding a needle in a haystack! He had not seen any sign of Pumpkin Potions or elixirs promising wealth and prosperity. Every time he asked about the shaman, people looked confused, scratched their heads and pointed towards the closest store with cosmetics. But none of these stores were selling potions! Plato felt that perhaps his pale skin and distinguished white beard were dazzling the Indians and they didn’t even understand what he wanted.
Growing frustrated to senseless wandering, Plato started to shout hysterically, trying to find the shaman.
- “Pumpkin Potion? Sham Po? Anyone?!?”
But it was all for nothing. His yelling just blended in with the voices of the other salesmen, each trying to sell various books, electronics, jewelry, food and everything you can imagine. Except for the Pumpkin Potion, of course. Suddenly, Plato’s heart jumped! Someone was shouting something about pumpkins! But it ended up being a disappointment, as the whole trip so far. The salesman was just offering some delicious-looking pumpkin pie. Not wanting to leave the market with an empty stomach, Plato chose to buy a whole pie and sat down to enjoy it with a glass of “nimbu pani”, a lemonade-tasting local beverage which Plato used to drown his sorrow.
As Plato was finishing his pumpkin pie, he experienced a magical moment. One of those moments when a light bulb gets lit on top of your head. A moment which called for shouting “Eureka!” and jumping up and down like a toddler. Having his mouth full of pie, shouting was a bit hard, but Plato was still thrilled. “Why didn’t I think of this before?”, he pondered. “Contact the local acquaintances, I must. Get help from them, I will”, Plato thought with a voice of some green little creature.
Plato knows many powerful Citizens across the New World. Luckily for Plato, some of them are located in India! Pizzarayne, the Dictator of India, is one of them. Plato decided to give Pizzarayne a call. If anyone knows how to find the shaman, it must be the Dictator of India. Skipping the conventional small talk, Plato went straight to business.
- “Oh mighty Dictator of India, tell me, how do I find a shaman called Sham Po? He possesses an elixir I’m eager to obtain.”
Pizzarayne had never heard of the shaman, but promised to make some calls. He pledged to send an SMS to Plato with all the information he would find out. Since the hour was late, Plato decided to call it a day and went to his 5 star spa hotel to get some sleep.
The next morning Plato woke up to a beautiful sunrise. An astonishing view greeted him from the balcony. India definitely has some stunning landscape! As Plato was sipping his morning coffee served by the friendly room service, he received a text message from Pizzarayne:
“Hey Plato, I have some information for you. It seems that the shaman is out of business. I found out where he lives, though. There’s a small alley across the local Q7 weapon factory. Go there and look for the residential building. He lives in apartment 23. But be careful, it’s a perilous neighbourhood with a lot of dangerous people. Good luck! -Rayne”
The previous time Plato felt as excited was when Lana had her last birthday party. And boy was that exciting! Plato wasn’t discouraged by the warnings from Pizzarayne. “Courage is knowing what not to fear”, Plato told his reflection in the mirror while dressing up.
The limousine ride to the local Q7 weapon factory went fast and Plato doesn’t remember much from it. All he could think was the wealth he’d get with the Pumpkin Potion. All that Gold and an unlimited amount of Energy Bars.. Now that’s life!
As Plato’s private driver cruised around the weapon factory, Plato started to understand why he was warned about the area. The streets were swarming with dark characters. Eventually the driver found his way to the alley Pizzarayne mentioned in his message.
“This is not a place for handsome men like me”, Plato thought. But after a few deep breaths he got out of the car, entered the alley and started to find his way through the crowd.
According to the text message, Plato had to find apartment 23. None of the shacks in the beginning of the alley looked habitable so he kept going. One thing was clear: Plato stood out and gathered quite a bit of gazes from the locals. Regardless of the extensive staring, which Plato thought to be admiration and respect at that point, he kept going and walked as fast as his old fashioned sandals allowed.
After some 10 minutes of strolling and pushing people aside, Plato finally found the residential building. He took the squeaking stairs to the 2nd floor and quickly found the apartment 23. With shaking hands, he rang the doorbell. For such an old building, it was surprising that the apartment even had a doorbell. The walls were filthy and stained. It was hard to breathe as the air was very stuffy. Every second of waiting felt like a lifetime. This was the first time Plato actually started to doubt the stories he had heard. What if the potion was a myth? What if something would go wrong with the spell? For a moment he was considering to turn back and go home, but the promise of a wealthy future convinced him to wait a bit longer. Plato knocked the door gently and rang the doorbell again.
- “Sham Po, are you there? This is Plato, please open the door!”
The whole building was like a haunted house: quiet and, well, spooky. Plato decided to try the doorknob and, to his surprise, the apartment wasn’t locked. Showing thumping courage and a slight lack of manners, Plato opened the door and marched in.
A thick layer of dust was covering the floor. The apartment looked deserted. Apart from a sofa and a small table, there was no furniture at all. It didn’t seem like a place where anyone could live in. Nonetheless, a man was sitting on the sofa. He was wearing a cloak and his face was hidden by a hood.
A raspy voice greeted Plato:
- “I’ve been expecting you, Plato. Sham Po, the most powerful shaman of the New World, at your service.”
After a moment of hesitation, Plato greeted the shaman and started to explain why he was there. The nervousness made Plato very talkative and he was talking non-stop for at least ten minutes. During the monologue he explained the stories he had heard about the Pumpkin Potion and told how his trip to India went so far. After Plato had finished, an awkward silence took over the room for a minute. The silence was finally broken by the shaman:
- “Tell me Plato, what would you do with all the riches and wealth?”
“What an easy question”, Plato thought and started listing all the things he would need Gold for. The list featured many things: expensive holidays, Q7 factories and jewelry for Lana among them.
- “Very well. I have a bottle of Pumpkin Potion for you. But you must follow my instructions carefully.”
Sham Po explained that Plato must drink the whole bottle of the Pumpkin Potion and immediately say certain words to activate the spell. The shaman wrote the words on an old piece of paper and poured the liquid to a golden cup.
- “Are you sure about this? The stories I heard were very explicit: you must cast the spell under the nordic lights.”
The shaman told Plato that the stories are correct. However, his new improved Pumpkin Potion would work with the spell regardless of your location.
Plato took the Pumpkin Potion assertively and drank it all in one go from a golden cup. He then took the paper and read the spell out loud.
- “Dlrow wen eht gnitnuah pots reven thgin eht fo redir eht yam. Desruc flesym eralced ybereh I, sdrow eseht gnitats yb.”
What happened next was unclear. For all Plato knows, he was drugged or poisoned. As soon as Plato had drank the potion and read the spell, he blacked out. For how long, he doesn’t know.
When Plato woke up, he was tied to a chair. It was dark and he couldn’t see anything. He must have been held in some sort of a basement, as it was very cold.
After waiting for what felt like a lifetime, a sound finally broke the silence. A door squeaked open somewhere in the distance. It was still too dark to see anything concrete, but some sort of a glow could be identified from far away. You could also distinguish a cadenced sound that resembled clattering. It sounded like stepping with heels on, just with an unhuman pace. The sound got louder and louder. Someone, or something, was getting closer.
As the glow was getting brighter and brighter, Plato heard neighing. It was a horse! An imposing character was riding it. But who? At first Plato couldn’t see his face, but the closer the horse came, the harder the reality hit him. There wasn’t any head to be seen!
A cold voice echoed from the rider and sent shivers down Plato’s spine.
- “Send my regards to your chickens. The Headless Horseman is coming for them!”