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Fiction

A dysfunctional love

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She held his hand and he held hers.
Felt the warmth of her fingers
but the piercing cold in her heart
for she had never loved
and never would

Or so he thought till he placed his head on her protruding belly
hearing vividly the heartbeat of the being in her
sensing the expectant kicks of her unborn child
His unborn child
His good half since she had refused to be his

He looked into her eyes for the umpteenth time and pleaded with his
that she save the life of the unsuspecting one in her
pure and untouched by this vile world
Evidence of their fleeting love, a miracle
He knew she would love this one, love it as hers
man or woman, black or white
for it was hers and always would be
It would feed with her and from her

It would laugh at her smile, look deep into her eyes
learn her scent and the size of her index finger that fits perfectly in its tiny palm
And it would fall in love, true and unconditional.

She had found her true love and he had lost his.

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A lover’s contentment

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She sat stark naked at the corner of that dingy dark room, her only source of light being the lit cigarette her lover held. She swore she’d never let a cigarette stick touch her lips… until she met him. Now she was going through 2 packs of Bensons each day which was a small price to pay to keep him. Besides, he was the ultimate poison. Like a shot of cocaine in her veins, leaving her with an empty feeling when she was without him. What sort of love possesses you utterly and completely, throwing you at the feet of your lover’s altar, ever ready to pull sword from stone? She had only ever read about this love, now she was seeing it. No, she was living it and it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 

The only source of light in the room came from the lit cigarette he held between his middle finger and thumb, each drag intensifying the light which cause a glow that framed his beautiful face. That face that brought much unneeded attention and was the cause of almost all their fights, if not all. Brown eyes that seemed to call you, a nose too slender for a black man with lips that kept its presence, all held my a slender face with structured jaws that commanded its own attention. Oh, what a being. But that was as far as his beauty was, the cheating lying bastard. How she hated him! 

He uncrossed his legs and her eyes  fed on his glorious form and an equally glorious erection. She felt it all at once between her legs too. How could someone who hurt her still draw this overwhelming refueling from her body and mind? She got up with a loud creak and walked towards him with an exaggerated slowness, allowing him to take in every inch of her body, giving him permission to claim it again and again as she knew he would. She also knew she’d be dressing to leave an hour from now, wanting him as soon as he stepped out the door. But that was okay. 

Bending to his eye level, she let him have one last drag and pulled the cigarette from his lips, putting her lips on his and breathing in the smoke. He was her undoing and that was okay too.

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Picturesque Memories

Aerial view of Lagos | by Gregor Samsa

You arrive at the airport with so much anticipation. You envision your next uploads to your snap story; they will capture the best parts of being Nigerian. Your geotag will make you smile; the accented English will be a balm for your westernized ears. You will finally be home.

You haven’t been away for long anyway. You spent your year in England defending your country’s honor, wearing your flag with pride. You remembered your mother’s cooking but forgot the smoke from the generator that laced your every breath. You longed for the thump of your people’s music but had let their frustrations fade from your memory. Nostalgia had given you rose colored glasses. She had blurred and edited the portrait of your nation you left with until it was nothing more than an airbrushed magazine centre-spread.
Your plane lands in Murtala Mohammed airport and you clutch your green passport with pride. Subconsciously, you know that reality is going to snatch away your illusion the moment you leave the aircraft. So you remain seated. You close your eyes, savoring your distorted perception of your motherland.
Not yet, you beg. Not yet.

by Lewechi Nkata

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The Mad Woman

the Mad Woman

 The mad woman is what they call me

I don’t think I’m mad, at least not to myself, it seems.

I was deemed mad because I could often be seen laughing without known motivation.

Many had often wondered how to this place I came to be

But if they knew my oh my how they would scream!

My story began long ago in a land far away from the under bridge

In a town a flight away from the famous oil ridge.

Before the madness took over, I went by a name called Abeni.

The one I loved shared with me a private joke since his name was Benjamin.

From the east and from the west did our love come to be.

Ignoring the haters and naysayers, we settled down with ease.

Like people in love, we made love and soon the fruit of the womb was revealed!

And unto us a son was given and unto us a daughter was born

And unto us such happiness that nothing could ever destroy!

On the fateful day, the arsonist was loose

And to flames he set the homes with good views.

I had been driving home when the call came in.

“Abeni, Abeni! There is cause to weep!”

And so on the bridge, I sped out of control like a drunken bird

And flew straight into the net of the Lord Death.

Unlike my husband and twin children, I escaped an untimely death

Only to enter a fate that all would dread.

I began my walk home after from the hospital being released.

I walked and walked with a strange peace.

Entering my estate, my home was nowhere to be found

Then I remembered what memory the doctors had bound.

I laughed so hard so as to push away the tears.

I chuckled away all the memories that were far from dear!

I take myself to the bridge where the news was delivered.

Sitting there, the memories come back and I quiver.

I am all alone now

Gone are the days when my husband’s smile used to be just a mile away.

With such thoughts, I fall asleep.

I wake up with such thoughts

And with such thoughts, I repeat the actions of yesterday for an eternity.

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I Saw It Happen

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​I’ve been quiet ever since I saw it happen, that’s the only way I’m ever going to stay sane. It didn’t happen fast; I wish it did, so I’d be having a fit with my mind right now, debating on who wills the other to experience and understand. But it happened, and it took all the time in the world.

It’s hard for me to close my eyes now, I’d rather walk the oceans and seas, fall down endless skies, and crawl through Earth’s every crust. I’ll watch fires burn warmth into cold, and watch ice freeze the soul of heat to moulded rock. I’ll do anything but lay my eyes to rest; I saw it all.

Trust is death, being thrown willingly into oblivion and dimensions of insignificant emotional ties powered with one lifeline, the ego. I saw it all.

I sit quietly, listening to muffled sounds as people try to inquire, to empathise and be a part of my suffering. I just start back in disbelieve. Were they all drugged? What sort of opium were they served? Is this how suppressed memories come to play, hiding the despicable realities we cannot shed off, replaced with renowned but staged artefacts of glory, all to help us live another day? But I saw it all.

I can’t let anyone brush their skin against mine, wink at me seductively, or plant a kiss on my lips? I’d rather be robed in sadness, and buried in the tomb of self-righteousness filled with flesh eating beetles, for sins unanswered for.

My eyes close for only a moment and I’m taken back. Not to what I saw, no, but I saw it all. To my days of transient joy; I’d say happiness, but it means nothing to me, it’s more of a feeling in my distant mind, reminding me of the sweetness of honey and the allergic trauma of the bee sting. I’m taken back to how I let myself be flirted with and lured. Men, women, what they’d give to see me pleasured. I’d dance in ecstasy to beats that reiterate my doom; the music will change and the dancers clash, the words and rhythm of the drums do not tell who we are individually. The flute will begin to play and we’ll be fixated on them – the men, they smile at me and I let them kiss me. A tiny diamond for every tongue twist, we fondle till I stand firm and unashamed, then I’m passed on to other men and praised for my vitality and a heavy sack of potentials. The women, I give in to, putting my vitality to work, for every bloomed thrust, my petals are promised enchanted tomorrows placed in leg chains made of black holes.

I wake, and I feel tears stream down my face. Drip! Drop! But it’s blood I see. I wipe it off, I look around like I expect it all to begin again like I saw it happen before; I know better now, they’ll always come back surreptitiously. They’re the bedbugs that multiply and survive very harsh weathers, they’ll feed and infest until I burn them all. After what I saw last night, I’d surround myself with wildfire and watch the world burn. So like the Phoenix, we’ll rise.

They crept in yesterday while I lay awake in deep thoughts of regrets and forecast. They selected us one after the other, and while they had their way, they filled the protesting mouths with salt. I saw it all. They marked bodies with tattoos to differentiate us from another, the empty and the bountiful. They shaved the hairs of those they were not done with, they broke the bones of those they felt had no potentials. I crept deeper into the darkness and I watched, I saw it all. When they were done, they built walls of hatred to separate us and left with our torches, leaving us in total darkness. I saw it all.

Now, I wonder, where do I really belong? I feel my head to know if I’ve been shaven, but then again, how many times would I have been shaven for me to notice this once. I lick my lips in search of the salty taste, but I can’t tell if it’s not the beady sweat of my hard work or my fear that I taste. I search my body for tattoos, but I’ve lived the hard life and the scars on my body are my evidence to show for it; how will I differentiate it from the tattoo?

I see what they have all become, the people with the tattoos, how they are lost and indifferent; how they live on, with no memory of the dark nights and the things taken from them. So I fear tomorrow, for I’ll have to live through all what I saw for another day; I fear today, how will I survive another night? Will I watch it all happen again, will I be the one watched. Or will I burn this earth to life and watch the best of us rise again like the Pheonix we are; I’ll see it happen.

 

by Stephen Oriaku

Stephen Oriaku is a graduate of philosophy, and a graduate fellow at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He’s daily plagued by new ways to inspire his students and watch great minds bloom in glory; he considers the University his Hogwarts since words and imagination will always bring magic.

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On The Edge

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I became the wave, or at least that’s what I want you to think because you lot don’t seem to see as I see even with eyes that big.
I had to sit and stare at the knife’s edge daring myself! Screaming to myself, and my words were, “c’mon motherfucker don’t be scared!” I lost my mind, I had worked on my mind but I have broken it worse than before because now I live in the trances and have lost my way to reality.
I see my nightmares come alive, full flesh and hellish vibes. Dancing on my bedroom floor like a 70’s disco while I lay in bed wishing I was dead.
What do you think you see? Who do you think you are to label me? I have seen the teeth of Cerberus it snarls at me, taunting me by day and by night. I have moved past fear, what else is there for me to fear, when in the dungeon that is my mind I look the devil in the eye each day with a gun pointed to my head and bones of children on the devil’s plate. I let this madness I write control me, it feeds on my humanity, I’m holding onto hope but my grip is loosening.

by Marvelous Ikpea

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An Odd Love Story

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14th February, 2014.
Valentine’s day, The sun shone boldly, showing off it’s nakedness with pride; for all to look away and be resentful. It was a highly anticipated day, the euphoria of the people promised everyone that this was to be a day of smiles, laughter, togetherness, fun, kisses, gliding and sliding. Every body walked in groups, a bland mixture of both female and male counterparts. Love was in the air, you couldn’t help but inhale. As if to add to the romance of the day, it was Joyo and Boa’s 2 year anniversary- an occasion Boa spent the previous month preparing for. Then they canceled all plans for the day and ended up agreeing to spend the holiday together at home, watching movies, eating, gliding and sliding.


During the day, it turned out to be very mundane. The movies were boring and the excitement that surrounded the day died faster than Sean Bean in every movie he has been in. While scrambling around the internet, Boa stumbled on a story in a blog(quite cliché really), it was a story of a man whose wife filed for a divorce after he lost his eyesight. The story failed to fascinate Boa too, until, she began to linger in thought. She was in thought for a while and then, she asked with a sharp voice, “Joyo, why do you smile whenever I talk to you? why am I special to you? why do you never say no?” Joyo, understandably caught off-guard, mumbled gibberish words Boa could not make out.

“Why do you love me?” She asked frustratedly.

He paused again, his eyes looking straight at her, squinting.

A sudden chill in the atmosphere. Joyo looked to be in search for words to say, particular letters to answer Boa’s question. Then he made a sigh of relief because finally, the words had come.

“He must have captured the right sentences to use,” Boa thought.
He began, “your eyes, your smile, your hair, your posture, your scent, your voice, your lips-” He went on, naming every single body part he could see on Boa as Ed sheeran’s thinking out loud played in the background.

Soothing words, lovely words, like he was reading them off a pre-written manuscript. Boa couldn’t help but smile; she liked the words, they tasted sweet. Hearing those words come out of Joyo’s mouth created a warmth in Boa’s chest.

She could feel the spread of goosebumps from her head to her feet as he ended his recitals with, “I just love you.” as he reached for  her hands.

Boa could feel warm tears assemble in her eyes. At that moment, she was ready to do anything for her Joyo, anything to the limit of her strength. Boa kissed Joyo and returned to her phone. Joyo smiled, he always had the right answers.

All seemed good for sometime, until a thought visited Boa again. It wasn’t sudden, more like processed because it went through a journey before it got here, inspired from that haunting story- The blind man. “I can’t Blame his wife, I was actually impressed she could stay with him for 12 years after his accident.” She thought to herself. The thought of the Man’s situation led to another and to another and to another, until she ended up at this thought that asked a question she could no longer answer herself, something she was scared to ask.

This question was based on probabilities.

She decided to ask Joyo, he would know the answer, he always has an answer. She asked again,
“What if hypothetically, I had been involved in a serious accident, an accident that severely injured me-” She stopped to look into his eyes.
“The eyes I have that you say could be mistaken for rubies being blinded, the smile you love being hindered by my deformity, the long dark hair being burnt off, the posture being dissembled by crutches and a loss of balance; the sweet scent being masked by the stench of medicines and ointments, the voice being obliterated by moans and whines of pain. My lips blotted with unappealing colours, and I look pitiful and sad.”

“With all these destroyed and gone, would you still hold my hand proudly? would you still smile at me whenever our eyes meet each other? would you still call me lovely nicknames?would you still show my pictures off proudly? would you still try to make me laugh, even, if the jokes are corny? would you still tickle me when i refuse to laugh? would you still listen to me? would you still care? would you still love me? would I still love me?”

Joyo looked stunned. He kept mute, what could he say? he couldn’t lie. He didn’t want to lie. What could he say?

Joyo didn’t reply, leaving Boa anticipating. He turned to his phone. Joyo finally didn’t have an answer for the first time.
Boa never got an answer, and She never asked the question ever again.

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Miriam’s story

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The sun had set well into the night when Miriam heard the door slam shut. She knew it had to be Dele- it was too late in the night for it to be anyone else. He stumbled into the room with the heavy scent of alcohol shadowing him. Her son, Timi, stiffened beside her. Miriam could feel her heart about to burst from her chest with trepidation. She always hated when Dele came home.

“Timi, come here na. Can’t you greet again?” Dele barked. Timi started to whimper. She knew he was scared. She was scared too.
“Timi, go and greet daddy. He wants to see you.” she urged. Timi got and knelt in front of Dele.
“Good evening sir. Welcome sir,” he said robotically. Dele barked out in laughter.
“Miriam, why is your son kneeling down like a girl. Come on will you prostrate like a proper man?”
“Dele, he is just a child. Let him kneel.”
“He is a man and so he will greet like one. Timi, prostrate for me now.” Dele ordered. Timi switched his position to that of prostration.
“Sorry sir,” he said with his eyes downcast.
“He can’t even look me in the eye. Pathetic. Anyway, I’ve been working since morning and I’m hungry. Where is my food?”

Miriam knew he was lying. She knew that he hadn’t gone to work since he was fired two months ago. She knew that when he went out, it was to hang out at the bar down the road. She knew that all he did there was waste whatever money she had, rake up debts and pick up prostitutes.

“There is no food,” she said. And it was true, she had used the money she had left to pay for Timi’s school fees and supplies.
“What did you say?” he said as he reclined in his armchair.
“Food has finished and there is no money.” Dele huffed. He regarded Miriam for a heartbeat.

Dele huffed. He regarded Miriam for a heartbeat and in a low voice he whispered, “Come here.”
Miriam stood but she didn’t move.
“Come here” Dele demanded.
“Dele, please not tonight. Timi is watching.”
“Ah ah, I haven’t even said anything and you’re shaking. All I said was come here.” Miriam sighed. She knew there was no using fighting him, especially when he was drunk.
“Timi, say goodnight to daddy,” she said.
“Goodnight sir.” Timi said as he shuffled off to his room. Dele grunted.
“Oya come.”
Miriam walked to Dele as a sinner would approach judgment. She settled in his lap, cradled against his chest. She could feel his steady heartbeat in contrast to her own racing heart. He stroke her hair which she had just recently permed at his request. He hated her kinky, natural hair. He preferred to be able to run his hand through her hair and on nights when he had a little too much to drink, he loved being able to jerk her hair at will-nights such as this. Miriam’s heart rate continued to speed up until all she could hear was the pounding of her heart, which was why she thought she misheard when Dele said:
“The next time that child does not greet me properly and I come home to no food, I will beat both you and your bastard to death.”
“What?”
“Didn’t you hear me?” Dele asked, his voice going an octave higher.
“I did, I did.” Miriam started quickly, “I will make sure it never happens again.”
And she meant it. She could deal with her being Dele’s sole target but when he started to threaten the safety of her poor baby she knew she could no longer continue living under Dele’s thumb.

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A Reminder

Kiss of forgiveness by Maria Makki

God Forgives, I do not. 

God is God and I am not. 

So here we are, standing in this small room guarded by pale green walls. Here we stand with a space between us big enough to house an ocean. In a space where past and present collide; where truths threaten to break free and dormant wounds resuscitate back to life, bleeding through frail bandaids. The room is empty and I feel the ghosts of our past take seat at every corner, cross-legged and eager for conflict like spectators at a combat.

The windows are translucent of a rough surface guarded by dark wooden panels and a dark wooden cupboard stands behind you. It is old and loose wooden chips stick out at the edges, it looks like it has housed many secrets for years and it is wearing out from this burden. You stand opposite me, tall but shorter than I remember. There is a slouch to your posture, not a careless one but one that suggests that you have lost yourself. You are no longer the man you used to think you were. There is a faux confidence in your speech like you are trying to mask the man you have become, forgetting that you were once my looking glass.

I am fine, Austin.

Good. 

I look out the window and watch the outline of the evening sun prepare for its descent. I feel the room grow darker and the space between us get smaller. I notice you fiddling with your shirt cuffs and I tap my food impatiently.

Why am I here?

I’ve been thinking about you lately and- 

Stop thinking about me.

I am seeking your forgiveness, Nifemi. 

I hear a crash coming from down the corridor and a bird crows as it leaps into the evening sky outside the window. I replay your words in my head and my chest grows tight.

That’s all I ask. That’s all I seek.

I stay quiet as you go into a speech of what forgiveness means to you. You tell me you are a new man in Christ and you are on a journey of redemption. I stifle a snort, you stutter but continue. You preach that life is too short to hold on to grudges. Your clothes are noticeably oversized, you have lost weight and your cheeks are hollow on a gaunt face. Your adam’s apple bobbles as you talk between quivering lips. Somehow, my gaze holds your tongue and you sound like you are struggling for air.

Nifem-

No.

My response breaks your premature smile and I smile inwardly, pleased at this opportunity to break your heart and dash your hopes just like you did mine. You take a step closer and I take a step back. I try to hold my laughter, so I mumble the word forgiveness a thousand times over. My forgiveness alleviates your guilt, it is a favour to you because while you move on, I am left with the memories of pain and the years of self-harm (physically and mentally). It is your release. You asking for my forgiveness is taking away my right to be angry after I spent years grieving your loss while you carry on with relief, from both your maker and victim. All I see right now are the nights I kept pondering what was wrong with me and why I was not enough. You were a sand storm and a tornado of all my insecurities and fears. Asking for my forgiveness after inciting much self-hate is to absolve you of all responsibility. All you did was take and you had taken more than you deserved  and in return you fed me recycled promises- your breath heavy with lies and stained with liquor and the taste of another lover. Here you are, coming back once again to take and I am done giving.

Please. 

You beg and the desperation is crystal clear in your voice, it rises like smoke in the air but then I realise it is from the fire you ignited within me. I feel anger surge and my body is working up a storm. I want to scream at you. I want to yank my heart out and show you the scars and stitches. I want to break my head open and show you memories of sleepless nights dealing with anxiety. I want you to feel the heat of this hungry fire threatening to swallow me up. You made me feel worthless, like the used gum stuck underneath a battered shoe, like rumpled piece of paper thrown across the room, like the unwanted and forgotten.

Rumours of her spread like a wild fire. The question burned at my throat for weeks because I lacked the courage to ask, in fear that I might offend you. I remember the day I saw her and how my heart broke because she was beautiful and I fell less than ordinary in comparison. So I watched you flaunt her instead of me. I watched you flaunt her in front of me. I watched you bend over backwards, break and build yourself from the ground upwards, just to impress her, and still I held on to you. That was my fault, my mistake and I still have not forgiven myself for that. I felt like I had fought for so long and I deserved you, so I would wait it out till you would eventually come back to me. I decided to give up myself to you. I let you have me for the first time as my first time. I convinced myself that it was what a lover’s touch felt like, even though you were rough and quick, barely able to look into my eyes.

I am glad to say I have come to know gentler hands ever since.

I remember the first time I saw my reflection in your eyes: Inferior, undeserving of your time and attention, a drawn-out plague. So I believed that version of myself.

It’s been how many years now, come on.

You have no right to waltz into my life and dictate how and when I should stop being angry. 

I was young and foolish.

Story. 

We stare back at one another and the room gets stuffier. Suddenly, I am by the windows begging for air and searching for release. The windows are stuck so I crouch down, exasperated and speechless. My words had merged with pain and all I feel is hotness and tightness in my chest. I touch my face and realise my cheeks are wet. I want to scream at you for being such an awful reminder of a place I had never wanted to return to. I had always been unwilling to love, but you had cracked me open in a way I had loved too much, and instead of getting the love I thought I had deserved, I had been fed dog shit instead.

You will never understand the pain-

I am truly sorry.

Fuck you.

I look at your face and I am reminded of years of mind games and bitter lies. You never wanted me, but you also never wanted anyone to have me, so you created a game that only you had the upper hand and cheat codes. A game that kept me holding on to air, while you lurked in the shadows. I remember how you told me you loved me and then disappeared for weeks with your new lover. I always heard about the places you had been to with her, but yet I convinced myself you wanted me and you were just conflicted. I prayed that you would choose me but at the end, I was forgotten.

I wish I could give you what you seek; I wish forgiving you could alleviate my pain at the same time… but baby, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I still struggle to forgive myself, to heal and give myself the love I deprived my body and soul of. You are a trigger, and an awful reminder of who I used to be and want to forget. So, this time, I put myself first.

You shouldn’t have come back. 

We both watch in silence and darkness envelopes the room completely.

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LOVE AND OTHER RELATED DISASTERS

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LOVE

A special type:

Sweet and sour love

The kind that you can’t stand, but don’t want to stop

The kind that creeps in slowly and lifts you up

To a place far above, where you literally moonwalk.

SUNDAY 8:30pm

That “fuck the world” kinda love.

Positive vibration is crooning from velvet covered speakers, the sound was such that you heard it from the living room reverberating off marble floors. Victoria was finicky about her high.

The air smelled of a couple of things, bacon was one; Victoria liked to use Tomas’s perfume so Gucci pour Homme was also one. Tomas started to picture her desert brown skin as he made his way to the living room, the ropes holding his Ed Hardy shorts hanging loosely. He hadn’t shaved in weeks and he was still groggy from going out the previous night. Don Antonini was in town.

Don Anto-what?

Nini. Or as the name on his university ID card suggests, Samuel Nelson. Tomas’s good friend.

That “I know you’re coming, I can smell you. Stop smiling, the food isn’t ready” kinda love. Telepathic shit.

Tomas smiled and detoured to the garage, taking note of a box of Christmas cards on the floor before making a mental note to pick them up later. He pressed the button on the wall for the garage, the fact that it was at the end of the hallway made for an easy escape.

This wasn’t a time for escape.

He left something in the garage.

Her birthday present.

He picked up his keys, tossed them in the air for a second while he admired his car. He walked towards it, bent and used his shirt to wipe the silver G550 crest on the car. He took a moment to breathe in the perfume laced air, he was home in the garage.

********************************

Victoria picked up her glasses from the kitchen table, Tomas said they made her look dorky, but cute – as if the world didn’t already have enough clichés. She couldn’t see shit without them, contacts were too much stress, she wasn’t about that.

And that was that.

She scraped eggs from the frying pan to a plastic plate, the disposable type. The ones you can’t leave under your bed for days. The plastic plate was large enough since Tomas could eat for Africa but she loved him like that, he was always happy when he ate and she was happy when he was happy.

Smile for me baby.

She counted the cans of harp in the fridge, 6 meant they’d need to go out for more in about 2 hours.

Tomas had J Cole’s ‘Born Sinner’ album singing out his back pocket, which was immediately drowned out by Bob Marley as soon as he got into the house. Victoria was smoking again. Why couldn’t every female be like her? He was in that “I love my girl” zone, that feeling of self-assuredness. The feeling, however temporary, of complete and utter devotion to the one you supposedly share your life with. He headed straight for the fridge, instinctively counting 3 beers.

“Victoria”, he called out.

“Tomas” she indulged him.

“We’re going out to get stuff later.”

“I know.” She walked into the kitchen and stopped a screaming microwave.

How the fuck didn’t he hear that?

She expertly brought out a scalding hot plate of formerly greasy brown chicken.

“Look at what you did to your food! How the fuck didn’t you hear that?”

Probably the high.

 

 

 

  •       •  AND OTHER RELATED DISASTERS

There’s something about nighttime, something about being part of a larger collective consciousness – a slave to the music of moonlight breeze, dark, forever promising songs of freedom.

Around here, we are all slaves to the night. It is our master, we are its essence.

 SUNDAY 10:30pm

Viewer discretion is advised.

Such was the situation, if you were driving down Agungi at the above-mentioned time, you would have unfailingly noticed the dead man, lying with his arms stretched out, head splattered wildly on the road.

Tomas swerved expertly and avoided it. “What the fuck?” he said to no one in particular, turning instinctively to face Victoria. He found himself stunned by traces of vomit he saw on her face, she was all kinds of disgusted.

Shit! Not the car!

Tomas reached for the back seat, picked up a box of tissues then handed it to her. Her eyes were murdering him, but her hands collected them.

You see, you do not mess up the car. No matter how seemingly disturbing the scenario.

It wasn’t hard to notice Samuel waving his middle finger and pointing at his watch. Tomas pulled up expertly beside him, still not paying any attention to Victoria. He got down from the car, punched Samuel in the shoulder and side-stepped when Samuel attempted to hit back. They laughed as they fooled around. Victoria got down eventually and Tomas instinctively headed inside, he had been unconsciously waiting for her.

 

 SUNDAY 11:00 pm

Asks the terror of the terrified: “Are you scared?”

The answer could be a yes, communicated verbally. It could be hidden in heavy breathing, shaky hands, and watery eyes. The answer could be a nervous breakdown, or in Victoria’s case, sweaty feet.

It would have helped if she knew what the terror was, but she didn’t and so disaster was inevitable. She headed down the bathroom stall in search of sounds she heard from one of the toilets. She met the windows open, immediately startled by sights and sounds of wind shaking the panels violently.

Startled once more as cold air shot through her. She heard a hissing sound and cowered in terror. In the darkness, she could make out hollow eyes, dirty teeth, and hard, flaccid skin. The face was grinning, it had no body so the head seemed to float in the air. The darkness became heavy, the moonlight shone illuminating itself alone in this darkness.

The face disseminated and all was dark again. A strong gust of wind flung her back violently, she slumped to the ground and was engulfed by and in the darkness.

She became one with it.

The first moan erupted from deep within, she was beginning to feel again, only not as she normally would. She was no longer in sync with her body, she wasn’t feeling her individual body parts anymore. She was feeling on a deeper level. She moaned again.

She writhed on the floor as her body responded to every sensation; fear and despair came with such heart ripping ferocity that she knew she had come to face evil and absolutely no good was coming. She knew the terror now because she felt it, from the hollows of her soul she felt it: an undeniable sensation, a myriad of emotions climaxing in ecstasy, the pleasure as consuming as the fear.

She moaned again, louder this time, the combination of sensations driving her to her limits. The moaning became more frequent, higher and lower in pitch, varying in tone also from time to time, loosening any inhibitions by giving in to the darkness and its pitch-black pleasures.

 SUNDAY 11:47 pm

The ordeal came to an abrupt end and she wiped her face with her shirt as she walked out, praying Tomas wouldn’t notice that something was wrong

Are you okay baby?

Yeah, still a little nauseous that’s all.

She folded one leg on the chair in an attempt to appear comfortable, making herself useful by rolling a joint. Tomas held his phone out for light, pointing at a faded Antonini and chuckling. Victoria giggled too, an empty, fake laugh.

“Samuel!” she shouted and threw a seed at him. He raised his head slowly and grinned, causing both of them to laugh again. Tomas stared at Victoria a bit, she smiled and got up, switching positions to Tomas’s laps. He held her close to him, kissing her neck as she worked.

She leaned away from him.

She wasn’t exactly in the mood for that but unfortunately, Tomas couldn’t tell. He found her lips and kissed her. She kissed him back so as not to have to explain not wanting to, oblivious of the dire effect it would have.

 It took some (little) time for everything to go wrong.

Five minutes later, she had finished rolling the joint and Tomas had stopped talking, she guessed he was waiting for her. Antonini was awake again, also waiting eagerly for the newly rolled joint.

“Who’s with the lighter?” she asked as she felt the table for one. Antonini searched himself and shook his head.

“Tomas” she called out without turning back to face him, she got no answer. “Tomas” she called out again, elbowing him gently this time. Still no answer, she turned to face him. He sat stiff, staring through her with cold, lifeless eyes.

“TOMAS!” she screamed. Antonini hit him hard but still no response.

“Fuck!” Antonini exclaimed. “What the fuck did you do to him?” He had his hands on his head while Victoria cried. She knelt beside Tomas and shook him violently, eventually causing Tomas to fall.

“He’s… dead.” She heard Don Antonini say behind her. It was all the confirmation she needed. Tomas lay cold on the floor. She covered her mouth with her hand, turned to face a confused Antonini, then back at her dead boyfriend. She staggered back, processing the events that occurred prior to this.

What the fuck happened in the bathroom? Did that have anything to do with this? What the fuck was going on? Did she just kill the love of her life?

Her heart stopped, the silence of the night had been defiantly interrupted. They heard what sounded like pounding the earth. They both heard it and simultaneously turned towards the wall beyond which the sounds were undeniably coming from. They heard growling; it sounded like it came from the belly of something big. Samuel shot her a look that summed up his feelings; he was scared and confused at the same time.

Behind the wall, creatures from the pit of hell were hot and heading their way. The growling got louder, and louder until it was obvious that whatever was making the sound was now in the compound. Don Antonini tried to run, almost completing the 360 before he was struck down. Victoria saw it – all three heads, the giant paw, then finally, Samuel’s head uprooted from his torso. The body dropped flat where it stood before and the head rolled away in the dark. You could still hear blood gushing out from the headless torso since the growling stopped. Victoria fainted.

 

MONDAY 1:26 am

“I am also a slave to the night. It is our master, we are its essence.”

“Say it again.”

“I am also a slave to the night. It is our master, we are its essence.”

“Drink this” she heard before opening her mouth. Victoria had come to herself, she swallowed without looking at what she was drinking because she didn’t want to know. Nothing made sense anymore, her body acted of its own accord. Her mind was still numb, still blank from shock.

“What the fuck?!!” she screamed and wrestled violently with unrelenting chains. Naked, she rested upright against the wall, her arms were stretched out and her legs were stretched apart. Around her privates were drawings, strange and otherworldly.

Tomas lay dead on the floor in front of her. Eventually, she noticed the man sitting on a chair, arms crossed, he was looking at her. She remembered she was naked and felt shame, much to the amusement of the mysterious stranger in the middle of the room

“What the fuck?!!!!!!” she screamed now.

“Calm down”, the man said. “This is not the time for irrational behavior. I mean” he scoffed, “if you haven’t noticed, your screaming even upsets Cerberus.” She heard an unfortunately familiar growl.

“Cerberus?” Victoria asked, looking in the direction of the growl, remembering Don Antonini.

“Yes, Cerberus. I’m not going to delve into folklore. If you don’t know what Cerberus is then too bad. Besides…. you must have seen them.”

“Yes, I have seen them”, she interrupted him. “Where am I? Who are you? What the hell is going on?” she struggled a bit before hearing the growl. It had a way of shutting her up.

The man got up and headed her way.

“Think of me as a fixer, or a moderator, or better still, a regulator”. He stood at roughly 6 feet, dark skinned, dirty eyes with a moustache that looked straight out of a sixties western.

“What do you want? Why am I here? What wrong with him?” she was looking down at her lover, her eyes watering up. This time the growl couldn’t and wouldn’t stop the tears. The regulator unlocked the chains and she slumped to the ground. He walked to the corner, picked what appeared to be cloth and flung it at her,

“Put this on,” he said. She held the cloth in front of her, examining it carefully before she put it on. It was a black dress, made of silk and still, she felt naked with it on.

“You, my friend, had an encounter with death.” the regulator sat back on his chair before lighting a cigarette. He threw the pack at her. “You might need that,” he said. She ignored the pack.

“Death?” she asked.

“Well, okay maybe not death entirely.” He paused and seemed to be collecting his thoughts, thinking of the best way to explain. “Like I said honey, I’m a fixer. I’ve been assigned to your case.”

“My case?” She asked.

He shot her a look of disgust, “what’s with repeating everything I say? Yes! Your case.” He got up, walked towards a table – that suddenly appeared in response to the need at the time – looked through a book and spoke without looking at her.

“Victoria Robert, is it?”

“Yes.”

“And the fellow on the floor, Tomas, is it?”

“Yes,” she replied.

He shut the book walked to his chair and sat again. “Sometimes, things that shouldn’t happen, happen. Sometimes you dress up faster than you should have and get hit by a car on your way out. Sometimes you wake up too early and walk in on your mum and dad doing the nasty”, he chuckled after saying this.  Victoria wondered how he knew that but had seen enough in one night not to give a damn.

“What does that have to do with anything?” She touched Tomas’ feet, letting her hand rest on her cold, lifeless lover, “Do you know what happened to him?” She asked, with a bit more life in her voice. She was beginning to accept her predicament.

“Yes, I know what happened to him. You would think that went without saying considering that I’m the one on the chair with the most conspicuous title. It’s cute how he’s what you’re most concerned about”. He gestured for her to throw him the cigarettes, she did. “You should be asking about what happened to you, Miss Robert. You ….” he shook his head. “You are the cause of his predicament. It’s not your fault though,” he held both hands up “you just went to pee.”

“Yes, I just went to pee.” She did that to spite him, he could tell. She wanted him to get to the point. “What the fuck are you on about? I had an encounter with death?”

“Yes! About that. Not death per say, more like his essence. A wandering spirit, a small part of the being, nasty fella that death.” She paused and seemed to be recollecting her encounter, it seemed like anything but death.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” she said under her breath.

“I know, but you’d be shocked at the number of things that wouldn’t make sense to a being confined to divine prisons of rationality. Let me try to explain.” He paced back and forth and muttered under his breath loud enough for Victoria to hear.

“Death for dummies.”

“Death for dummies” he muttered as he pondered much to the surprise of Victoria. His face suddenly lit up. “Look at it this way. Death is a complex yet very powerful being, so powerful is this being that bits of him escape every now and then without his consent or knowledge, at least not before something goes wrong” he pointed to Tomas. “Not till something goes wrong and we” he pointed to himself, “have to intervene.”

“It didn’t feel like death,” Victoria said.

The regulator laughed, “I know, it felt like sex, I know.” Victoria felt goosebumps, “It, the wandering essence that is, needed a host or a wielder, and it found you. The only way to let itself in was to – you know – let itself in.” He was tilting his head, demonstrating so she’d get the pun.

“Now, you have a part of death in you”

I am also a slave to the night. It is our master, we are its essence.

“Shit” she let out, “Why me?”

“That question, young one, is the first step in consideration of the mysteries of life.”

“I don’t know, shit happens I guess.”

“So what are you here to fix? Me?”

“Well, there can be no fixing you, you are now a slave to the night remember? We are its essence, it is our master?”

“What does that mean?” the fear in Victoria’s voice made it sound high pitched. Cerberus growled again.

“It means that your place is no longer on earth, but with death, in death”

“I don’t understand. What does that mean?” She felt herself, she still felt pretty alive.

“What it means darling, is that the world as you know it is about to change, or end, depending on how you want to look at it. You are now a part of death and all that is darkness. The rest of your eternity will be spent with death…” He paused for emphasis, “In … death.” He paused again, to be sure she understood, she looked like she did. “Good, I see you understand me”.

She didn’t respond, he took it as a cue to continue. “As for Romeo here,” he pointed to Tomas, “he’s not completely dead….” Everyone heard the increase in Victoria’s heart rate. Cerberus growled, Victoria shot the beast a look and it shut up.

“Ooh, feisty about our lover, aren’t we?” he clapped.

Are you there baby?

She turned to the regulator, wondering what he meant.

“Since it was only a part or part of death that …. entered you, you can’t exactly kill anyone, at least not completely.”

“I don’t understand”.

“You don’t understand a lot of things, that’s what I’m here for.” He paused and took a deep breath. “You now carry death, you passed it to Romeo here, simple.”

“But he’s not completely dead?”

“Bingo! No, he’s not. Since you aren’t completely death, he can’t completely die. You get the logic?”

“So what’s wrong with him?”

“He’s currently….” he stopped at bent to feel Tomas’s pulse. “He’s stuck in rigor mortis.”

“Rigor what?”

“Mortis, the third stage, or one of the signs of death. You’ve got pallor mortis, algor mortis, then rigor mortis, then livor mortis and so on and so forth. Romeo here is stuck in rigor mortis, he’s not completely dead but he’s not alive either. His soul, therefore, is stuck.”

“His soul? Stuck where?”

“It is not for me to know. Somewhere around. That’s not what’s important anyway-”

“It’s not?” her voice was raised now.

“Hayy, calm down Juliet, let me explain.”

“No need, I get it. He’s not completely dead, his soul is stuck. What I want to know is what the fuck happens now?!!”

“I don’t like your tone missy!!!” He snapped back, before adjusting his suit. “I am getting to that!!”

“Well get to it.”

“I will.”

“Your lover’s soul is stuck, it hasn’t gone up or down, you dig? Now, your soul is destined for eternal damnation.” He spoke in a “matter of fact” manner. Unfortunately, she understood what he meant.

“Him? His soul?”

“Repeat my words again and I would show you things worse than death.”

“Now, it could go up – although I doubt it being that there are no stoners in heaven – and you both will be separated for eternity, which in case you don’t know is a pretty fucking long time. Or it could come down with you, and you and Romeo can live forever in eternal damnation.” He sounded like a game show host with the way he was gesticulating, using his arms a lot, which irritated Victoria profoundly.

“If I wanted his soul to come down with me, let’s say I wanted to spend eternity with Tomas, no matter where, what would I have to do?” Victoria spoke with conviction.

The regulator was taken aback, he adjusted his suit then crossed his legs.

His shoes glistened.

“Wow,” he said first, ” What is this? Romeo and Juliet go to hell?” His sarcasm was obvious and extremely condescending, “Do you know what you’re talking ab-”

“I do”, she cut him off.

“No, no, no, no, I’m not sure you do. I’m not sure you completely understand what your sayi-”

“I do. I understand completely, you wanted me to make a choice, didn’t you? Don’t feel obliged to drill me with details of something I already understand and accept, I, in turn, will not bore you with the corny details of the basis for my decision. Tell me what I have to do.”

“Okay Juliet, I’ll tell you.” He cracked his knuckles. “You have to be death, completely.” Victoria didn’t respond, she was digesting the information slowly.

“O…. kay, I knew that would be the bombshell.” The regulator laughed in that condescending tone again, “Yes my dear, now you are only a part of the terror in the night, you have to become all of it. That way, you can complete the number on Romeo here, bring him down below, his soul won’t be lost again, he doesn’t end up upstairs, you get to be with Mr. here forever, win–win. Everybody’s happy … Except you two that is. Eternal gnashing of teeth and other unpleasant things await you two.”

“Happiness is what you make of it.”

“Sure it is”, sarcasm again. She got up to her feet, struggling a bit, having to use the floor as support.

“How do I get to death? All of it, or him?”

“You don’t, he comes to you, which again is why I’m here.” He got up, picked up what appeared to be chalk and headed towards Victoria.

“First we must summon him. Are you ready Victoria?” She nodded. The symbols around her vagina burned, she flinched. He noticed, he laughed, she looked at him with disgust.

“Oh, I didn’t tell you? that’s where the … entering starts” He chuckled.

The regulator took off his jacket first, moving with precision, every step he made seemed like a part of the ritual. He unbuttoned his shirt slightly, then undid his cuffs. Rolling up his sleeves, revealing tattoos of equally strange drawings, he drew a single line on the floor then began to chant.

The drawings burned again, Victoria couldn’t help flinching. The words of the regulator’s chant were relegated to the background; she couldn’t move anymore, she just stared at her lover.

I’m coming baby, I’m going to fix everything.

I love you.

Even to hell?

Yes love, to hell and back.

 

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