Story: I See Things Others Do Not See



    INTRO

    My name is Chuks B-. And I have the sight. Pachios has explained that I did not relinquish my spiritual eyes before being born in the earth realm. Pachios is my guardian angel. At a massive 6ft 4inches and a body filled with bulging muscles laying a foundation for an extremely handsome but beardless face, he is quite formidable to look at…if you could see him.
    Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, maybe I should start from the beginning.
    I had a perfectly normal birth, no problems to my mother whatsoever. My father was absolutely ecstatic, having a son to begin his new family with. If I could talk I guess I would have told him I would be his only issue, as I saw the gateway through my mom’s womb shut permanently immediately I came through. She wasn’t being punished or anything, it was simply what she had asked for before coming to the earth realm. Of course she wouldn’t’t remember it; no one did once they passed through the veil. No one that is, except special people like me. I remember it all.
    The second time I used my sight was at the age of one when mum decided to get a house help to assist her in her chores and also to take care of me. As soon as she walked through the front door, all smiles and innocent-like, I saw what she was. She had barely gotten her bags unpacked before I chased after her, giggling, a fresh twig in my hand and gave that witch the flogging of her life. She screamed in agony but couldn’t explain to my parents why a small stick in my hand would cause her so much pain. After 2 more days of flogging she ran away and was never seen or heard from again.
    I soon got to understand that most people couldn’t see what I could. I remember when I was only five and there was this woman that used to frequent our house. A good friend of my mom’s, she was in the same church council meeting with her and so the two of them used to meet often at our house which was closer to the church to discuss various issues. Anytime this woman saw my dad she would literally catch fire. Okay, maybe not literally, I mean, I could see her burning like an Olympic torch but no one else could. The flames were a dull, deep red color and seemed to cover her completely although she wasn’t burnt by the flames. And then she would start acting all funny when she was alone with dad. Dad in turn would start to burn as well but not as intensely as she did. One day we were all in the parlour. I was eating lunch and mum and her fiery friend were having a discussion on church levies. Next thing dad walked in and greeted everyone. He was still wearing the native attire he had worn to church. The lady went up in flames again and I stared at her curiously. Mum saw me and asked what I was doing and I said “Oh, this lady always catches fire when dad is around, why is that mummy?”
    There was an embarrassed silence and dad shushed me and told me to go to my room. The fiery woman and my mum parted ways soon after.
    You can imagine the kind of trouble I got into when I was younger. It took me a while to learn my lesson. By the time I was in primary six, I had received enough beatings from teachers, the headmaster and gotten into a whole lot of fights with my classmates, that my previously frail body had hardened. They started avoiding me and I was left alone, without friends. My parents would be called to take me from school and they would take me home and yell at me, sometimes plead with me to keep my mouth shut. I didn’t know what the problem was but I got tired of being alone. So I resolved to be silent about my Sight as soon as I entered secondary school.
    I went through the university quietly enough, picking my friends carefully, studying diligently and making just the right grades, ensuring I failed some questions so the teachers wouldn’t accuse me of cheating. Most times I could figure out what a teacher was going to set for exams by the way his head would light up persistently when he asked specific questions in class. I kept far away from intimate relationships, I found it difficult letting anyone into my heart, as it held so many secrets, most of them unsolicited… the physics teacher cheating on his wife; the Mechanical Engineering teacher who was a chronic smoker and in debt, N590, 000 to be exact; The minister who used to come and preach in our class but who had once killed a man; and many, many more. They were all there. I graduated from mechanical engineering with a 2:1 and got a job working in a firm at the Island, in Lagos. The money was pretty good and with my diligence and intellect, and a little help from the Sight, I amassed a small fortune for myself. But life continued to disappoint me with its unnerving surprises. Even at work, the woman everybody was dying to go out with carried a chest around with her, a chest that only I could see. In it were filled the bodies of children she had held back from coming into the world, children that would have made her proud. Now their dead weight relentlessly slowed her down. She adduced her lack of concentration and anxiety to stress from work but I knew better. I began to see the world as a sad, sad place.
    And then I met Nina.

    EPISODE 1


    The first time I saw Nina she came for a job interview at the
    firm I worked in. I was walking down the corridor on
    the second floor, carrying some important documents for my
    boss, when I came across the new applicants. I couldn’t help
    but LOOK at them seated as I passed. There were many who
    had the images of important personalities hovering above their
    heads; these were the fellas with ‘connections’. A few had the
    blue flames of pure academics lighting up their auras. Some
    of them were spiritually drenched in alcohol, but most of them
    dressed in false hope. They had come for this interview but
    had already convinced themselves that they wouldn’t get the
    job because they didn’t have connections. In so doing they
    attracted failure to themselves. This was so because even
    those who couldn’t see could feel their hopelessness and
    invariably were repelled by it.
    I was silently reminiscing on all of this when I saw her. She
    was bent, head down in her books, trying to gather a few more
    points before she was called in. As I came closer she looked
    up- and what I saw took my breath away. She had the cutest
    big brown eyes I had ever seen, sited evenly atop a little, well
    chiseled nose and lovely brown lips. Her hair was made in
    braids and tied in a neat bundle at the side of her head. She
    looked, in every sense of the word, beautiful.
    Then I looked and saw her wings. Magnificent. Purest white
    and fanned out perpetually behind her like a protective shield.
    And then there were heavy metal chains securely holding the
    wings in place. Her sins, you see. Most people had them. Hers
    were unique in that they were made of gold. And I honestly
    didn’t know why.
    She caught me staring at her and blinked in indignation .
    “What? Any problem?” She asked.
    “Na..nothing.” I stuttered. ” You’ve got the biggest pair of
    wings I have ever seen.”
    I swear, i didnt know when i said it. And it was after I said it
    that I saw her boobs. Yeah, they were huge too.
    The whole corridor went quiet, or at least I think it did. She
    stared at me, mouth open, a look of shock on her face. This
    was quickly followed by anger, especially as she thought I was
    looking at her chest.
    “That’s not what you wanted to say abi? P—–t! Abeg leave
    me jo!”
    I felt like the ground should open and swallow me up. I tried to
    apologise but then the public address system system
    sounded:
    Nina T. Please come in for your interview.
    She got up, gave me the meanest look I had ever seen, and
    stalked into the interview room. I was helpless. I tried to
    apologise one more time. She hissed and kept on walking, but
    I thought I saw something like the flicker of a smile just before
    she entered the office.
    I turned and walked slowly to my boss’es office. I could see
    the snickers and amazed looks of those who had heard my
    embarrassing dialogue. As I was about entering one of the
    cleaners brushed by me and whispered “Correct man!” before
    hurrying on.
    I spent the rest of the day hiding in my office. As I was closing
    up I saw that the candidates were still waiting for the interview
    results. Nina stood, easily recognizable in the small crowd. I
    walked towards her, thought better of it and moved towards
    the exit, thought again and went back to the corridor. She
    didn’t notice me until I was up close to her. She glared at me
    once she recognised who I was.
    “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. And I wasn’t talking
    about your…er…those, either” ( I saw her eyes go dangerously
    thin-better not bring that topic up again). What i wanted to say
    was you have big eyes. I mean, not big in a bad way, but good,
    I mean not akpolo eyes but, but…”
    I had made a mess of things again. I tried grinning in a
    helpless bid to save myself but that only seemed to make
    things worse. She hissed and looked away. I sighed and stood
    very still, not knowing whether to save what little dignity I had
    left and melt away or stand my ground. I ended up standing
    there, waiting to see the results of my own impromptu
    interview with this angel. Thirty minutes later the list was
    pasted and her name came out. She was ecstatic. She
    celebrated her success with the few others that had been
    chosen. When it was time to leave she walked up to me.
    “Listen oga, I don’t care what position you hold in this
    company, you can’t start insulting me like that! Don’t you have
    a sister? How dare you look at me like a piece of meat? I-
    “I wasn’t looking at you brea-sts!” I yelled angrily. She took a
    step back in shock. I was angry but mostly at myself for
    messing things up. I tried to bring my voice down.
    “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you the way I did.
    Honestly I didn’t notice , ah, never mind. Congratulations on
    getting the job. I just wanted to let you know that I was sorry.
    That was why I waited. And since I’ve made a mess of
    everything I might as well let you know you have beautiful eyes
    too.”
    I walked away then, leaving her looking stunned. I reached the
    stairs and was about going down it when I heard her run up
    behind me.
    “I’m Nina,” she said, smiling.
    “Chuks” I replied, smiling too.
    “You are weird, chuks.” She said, still smiling. “Weird but nice.
    See you at work tomorrow?”
    I thought: Armageddon wouldn’t keep me away. I said: ”
    maybe, yeah, ok.”
    She smiled again and went back to her friends. And me? I
    danced all the way home. Inwardly of course.

    EPISODE 2

    We grew fond of each other soon after that encounter.
    Personally, I think she came closer to me because I seemed
    to see beyond her beauty(which I literally did) and I came
    closer to her because, well, because she was beautiful. And
    intriguing, but mostly beautiful. She was of average height,
    just a head below me, slim figured with nice curves and a
    bossom that could only be described as ambitious. And
    those her wings were glorious. They fanned out ever so
    often, usually when she was in a happy mood. The chains
    didnt seem to disturb them so much. And even the glowing
    of the gold itself added to her beauty. Of course only i could
    see and appreciate them. Due to her physique she received
    a lot of stares from the male folk at first until they got used
    to her. She was quite friendly and approachable too. She
    had a way of caring for those less oppurtuned than her and
    was usually seen helping others at their desk. Some
    misconstrued this as pock-nosing at first but they caved in
    when they saw her lovely smile and genuineness. Ok, you
    get it, I guess I was a bit….infatuated with her. Don’t ask me
    why I am using past tense. You’ll find out soon enough.
    Sometimes when I was watching her, I would see the
    manifestation of her wings and the gold chain would clink
    and jingle. This usually happened when she was in deep
    thought and at that time she would look sad, forlorn. I tried
    to look harder, to see more, to know what it was that was
    bothering her so much but I never saw beyond the gold
    chains. I previously mentioned Pachios. You remember. My
    guardian Angel. He usually kept out of sight and only
    appeared when he needed to alert me of something or if it
    seemed I was unduly worried. He sat beside me now at my
    desk as I was watching her gold chains glimmer yet again.
    “Leave her be.” He said. “If it was meant for you to help her
    you would have seen more by now.”
    I sighed. “But, pachios, come, haven’t you seen anything like
    gold chains before? I’m interested, what do they mean?”
    Pachios kept silent. By now I had learnt that when he was
    this way it was either he didn’t want to get involved or he
    genuinely didn’t know himself. I sighed again. The gold
    chains didn’t seem threatening, only maybe set off a kind of
    sad aura. Maybe she had commited a very grevious sin….or
    maybe her destiny had been tied by some evil relative….my
    mind went from one possibility to the other. I had tried
    asking her if there was a problem on various occasions but
    had come up with nothing.
    Suddenly she looked straight at me. She paused for a
    moment from what she was doing and smiled. I smiled back.
    She rounded up whatever she had been doing and crossed
    the office to my side.
    “Hey weirdo.” She grinned.
    “How are you doing breastina.” I answered good naturedly.
    She laughed and punched me on the shoulder. It hurt a bit.
    “Have I ever told you how strong you are?” I asked, rubbing
    my shoulder.
    “Nah. I know you just say that to make fun of me”, she
    replied. From the corner of my eyes I saw her chains glow
    briefly. Guilt? Did they glow when she felt guilty? I chased
    away the thought.
    “Come to fellowship with me today.” She said.
    I groaned. For a few weeks now she had been insisting that I
    follow her to a new fellowship that had opened close to the
    office. She said the pastor there was preaching ‘fire’ and was
    really sound.I grunted, unconvinced. Don’t get me wrong. Its
    not that I don’t go to church. I am as christian as you’ll get
    and a little bit more too for obvious reasons. But then there
    was my Sight. Most times when I was invited to a prayer
    house or meeting or fellowship there was the tendency for
    me to cause a scene. I tried not to but in the end I usually
    ended up being the one to cast out the demons or loose
    those that were chained. Pretty exhaustive work which was
    made occasionally more exhausting if the person I was
    casting out the demon from turned out to be the pastor
    himself. I ended up worshipping in one of the orthodox
    churches. They had a tendency to be more peaceful.
    Today Nina was being extra persuasive, giving me a sad,
    puppy dog kind of look that would break anyone’s heart. I
    felt myself giving in but held on to my decision bravely.
    “Why not? What’s your reason this time?” She asked.
    “Well, l have that report to submit tomorrow and it kind of
    looks like its going to rain.”
    “I’ll help you with the report. I just finished the one oga gave
    me and its not like I’m doing anything else this evening. Plus
    it will give me an opportunity to know your place. Well?
    What do you think?”
    She wanted to know my place?
    I gave in.
    The venue for the fellowship was a three room apartment
    that had apparently undergone some structural changes.
    The door had been widened and the walls freshly painted.
    Rows upon rows of wooden benches lined the hall and
    brand new speakers decorated an immaculately white alter.
    The flowers used for decoration were huge. Apart from the
    ceiling fans, tornado standing fans had been installed at
    intervals along the aisle. Huge multicoloured banners
    decorated the side walls. At the head of the alter a large
    banner declared in gold letters “BOUNCING IN FAVOUR
    CHURCH INTERNATIONAL”. The place was getting filled up
    pretty fast when we arrived. Nina led me down to the middle
    aisle and sat next to me. The choir was belting out a popular
    rendition and I was already getting a bit nervous. Nina
    looked at me and frowned.
    “What is it?” She asked.
    “Er, nothing…nothing.” I smiled gamely, trying to ignore the
    vulture sitting on top of the choir mistress’ head. Most of the
    other choristers were alright though for some strange
    reason I kept on seeing them singing with their eyes closed,
    like they were actually sleeping. I faced the alter and joined
    in the singing. Nina sang along and suddenly everything
    seemed so peaceful. Her voice was an amazing soprano.
    Every note that came out of her mouth was silver lined, like
    she belonged in the choir more than anyone else. I sighed to
    myself. What a woman. Surely this was love? I mean, logic
    told me that if everyone was hearing her the way I was,
    she’d be a music star by now. So either other people weren’t
    hearing her the way I was, or I found her so attractive that
    anything she did amazed me.
    We sang for a while more then the pastor came onto the
    alter. There was wild applause which he received humbly
    then he motioned for us to sit and began his service.

    EPISODE 3

    I’m not going to reiterate what the pastor said, suffice it to say
    that it was the usual sermon on faith, love hope and
    prosperity. The pastor preached with enthusiasm and I was
    pleasantly surprised to find out that he made sense. He didn’t
    have any manifestation whatsoever so I was all the more
    relaxed.
    Nina dutifully took down notes in a jotter and opened to every
    Bible verse quoted by the pastor. I tried to concentrate as
    much as I could on the service although I found myself
    stealing glances and exchanging smiles and giggles with Nina
    at every opportunity.
    The pastor reached a crucial point in his preaching and asked
    those people with various ailments to come forward. Soon the
    alter was filled with all sorts of people, those with genuine
    sicknesses and those who came just to fulfil all righteousness.
    We all joined in prayer, led of course by the pastor.
    We had been praying like this for a few minutes when I heard a
    scream. My eyes had been closed so I opened them. And saw
    one of the sick members who had come for prayers on fire. I
    gasped in shock but soon realised it was only a manifestation.
    She twitched and turned and spun around all in an attempt to
    put the fire out to no avail. Finally she fell to the floor and then
    passed out.
    I was still wondering where the fire had come from when I saw
    another person this time a male, light up. But then the fire had
    come from somewhere. I watched closely as the pastor
    brought out something from a bottle and sprayed it on those
    he was praying for. Anyone whom the substance touched went
    up in flames. For a moment I thought, this was the genuine
    thing, the pastor was gifted with…and then I saw the vulture
    on the choir mistress head cackle and spit out more of
    thesubstance into the bottle. No one else ccould see it but the
    choir mistress made a move anytime the vulture on her head
    was disturbed. As usual I knew immediately what was going
    on. And it was absolutely none of my business. So i stayed
    put.
    “Help him.”
    I ignored the voice of Pachios in my mind.
    HELP HIM” He repeated.
    “No!” I realised i had spoken out loud when Nina turned
    towards me. I continued “no weapon fashioned against me…!”
    And she turned back and continued her prayers.
    I thought: “come on Pachios. Its really none of my business. I
    dont see anyone getting hurt and i dont want to cause a
    scene.”
    “Look at them.” He said. I watched the choir mistress as she
    herself watched those that had fallen to the floor. There was a
    satisfied look on he face. I turned my attention to the pastor
    and he seemed unsure of what he was doing.
    “She will be his downfall if you dont help him.”
    I told Nina to give me a moment, I don’t think she heard me,
    she was too busy staring in amazement at the other members
    that were manifesting. I walked into the group at the alter and
    asked the pastor to pray for me. He obliged immediatelyand
    took me aside. He started his prayers and I followed suit. He
    lay his hand on my forehead and I spun around and fell
    forward so that he had to catch me to prevent me from falling.
    While bringing me up I had enough time to whisper in his ear.
    “Don’t use the water anymore.”
    “Eh, my son, what did you say?” He asked.
    “The water. You do not need it. Its going to destroy your
    ministry. You know how your wife got it. You know how you
    objected to it before she strong armed you into accepting it.
    This does not glorify the one you worship. And it does not
    come for free. Abandon this false power now before you run
    into debt.”
    All this while the pastor held me. It seemed that we were
    praying together so the others left us alone. For a moment I
    thought he was going to throw me off or call security or
    something. That would be difficult to explain to Nina if he did. I
    held my breath…and then I felt him shake as he sobbed gently
    unto my shoulder.
    Oh no. Please don’t make a fuss, please don’t make any funny
    announcements…
    “Thank you my son!” He was crying now, more loudly. I didn’t
    really know what to do so I patted him on the back and pried
    myself from his embrace. As I walked back to my seat I saw
    people staring at me with a puzzled expression on their face.
    The pastor fired a final tearful “GOD bless you my son!” just as
    i was reaching my seat. Nina stared at me, a surprised look on
    her face. I ignored her and faced my front just in time to see
    the pastor walk to the edge of the alter and empty the contents
    of the bottle on the floor. His wife the choir mistress looked
    like she was going to have a heart attack. He boldly walked
    back and approached his wife. Without a word he took
    something from her hand and I saw the vulture screech angrily
    and fly off. His wife looked on in shock. The congregation
    watched all of this but there was no way of understanding
    what the pastor’s actions meant. He motioned for everyone to
    go back to their seat. And then he started another sermon, this
    time preaching on faithfulness and purity and the strength of
    the Word of GOD.

    EPISODE 4

    “Okay, what was that all about?” Nina asked as soon as we
    entered my apartment. I was a bit hurt by the question. I
    was hoping to get a wow from her after taking a glance at my
    place. 2bedroom flat with a sitting room and a small but
    extremely neat kitchen at the side. I had arranged the
    parlour with a black and green theme; two black “modern
    design” chairs with lemon green headrests, one chair could
    be extended to a sofa for better relaxation, lemon colored
    rug with black frilled edges and two plastic green plants in
    black Chinese vases. My LED TV hung between the plants like
    a shrine to technology and my sound system levitated at the
    sides with patch on nails attaching them to the wall. Wall
    itself was painted to match the lemon on the chairs and
    finishing touches from the window blinds which were almost
    immaculately white with just a hint of green. The previous
    landlady had suggested the colours to me and I had liked
    the final outcome. I still caught her once in a while looking in
    and smiling at her “handiwork” .
    I was also worried with Nina’s question because try as i
    might I couldn’t come up with a convincing lie. I had played
    certain scenarios in my head but they all kept coming up
    porous. Every once in a while I’d think of telling her the truth
    but another part me would be like “eh? You dey craze? You
    don see madman way get girlfriend before??” So I swept that
    thought away and kept on thinking of what to say. I had
    hoped she would forget the matter on our way to Ikeja.
    “Well?” Nina’s voice cut through my thoughts like a knife. ” I
    turned and saw her standing arms akimbo on her lovely
    hour glass hips. She wore a blue hugging sleveless top and
    black jeans. During the service she had covered her top with
    a yellow jacket. She must have removed it when we came
    into the compound. It was getting to evening, the time being
    4pm but the weather was still a little hot.
    I feasted my eyes on her beauty for a while longer before
    answering. I tried to look as sad as possible.
    “Its a personal thing.”
    “Like what?” She responded. “It didn’t look like you were the
    one who needed help rather it was as if you gave the help. I
    saw the way you and the pastor stayed for a while and the
    look of gratitude in his eyes when he finally let you go.”
    “Werent you supposed to be closing your eyes?” I asked
    accusingly.
    She giggled. “Bros, na your eyes wide pass during prayers
    oh, or you think I didn’t see you? It was as if you were even
    seeing things that others could not see sef.”
    I froze. Did she know? Had I let my secret slip somehow? My
    heart started pounding in my chest.
    She saw the look on my face and mistook shock for
    embarrassment. She laughed.
    “Okay, okay, never mind. Maybe one day you’ll tell me. But
    hope u are not into rituals oh! This one your room is looking
    tech like this…”
    I laughed then, very relieved. She had agreed to let sleeping
    dogs lie, for now anyway. I showed her around the place
    and we settled down in the parlour to complete my
    assignment. I had offered her a bottle of cognac from my
    mini bar, she had politely refused and took some orange
    juice instead. Gradually the time fizzled by and it was 6pm.
    PHCN had restored power an hour earlier and I had put on
    the air conditioning but Nina hadn’t bothered to wear her
    jacket back. Not that I was complaining. her lovely arms
    glistened under my room light and the fragrance from her
    hair when we put our heads together was awesome. We
    hadn’t really spent so much time alone together and I was
    desperate to make a move that would take me out of the
    friend zone.
    We sat together on the sofa I had pulled out, almost
    rounding up the papers.
    “What would you like for dinner?”
    She looked up, a little surprised.
    “Its just six o clock, chuks. I’m not really hungry.”
    “Well, its good I start early so you’ll have something to eat
    by the time you do get hungry, yeah?”
    She paused. I had no idea what she was thinking about.I
    mean, just because I could see beyond normal didn’t mean I
    could read people’s minds though at that time I was dying to
    know her thoughts. She thought a whole longer then said,
    “not tonight.”
    “Not tonight?” I was a bit puzzled. “I can’t cook you dinner
    tonight?”
    “Yes.” She said, looking up at me. “Its my first time coming
    to your place and I don’t think it would be proper -to have
    dinner now.”
    What the hell were we talking about?
    I shrugged and sat down. The comfortable silence we had
    been enjoying was now an awkward one. We were still
    sitting close though and I could smell her perfume. Suddenly
    I felt very very “hungry”. I needed to do something, anything
    to get my mind off this situation. Where was a manifestation
    when you needed one?
    “How did you get this scar?” She asked pointing at my wrist. I
    looked at it, a scar I had gotten when trying to jump a barb
    wire fence in my primary school days. I smiled and told her.
    “Hmmn. I’ve got one too” she said, showing me a scar on
    her forearm. “Immunization needle went the wrong way,
    and formed an abscess”.
    I touched her scar. The current from her skin sent sshivers
    down my spine. She didn’t say anything but watched as I
    drew my fingers back and forth along her scar. Somehow my
    fingers went down to her elbow and back up. She gave a sigh
    and I looked into her eyes. She still didn’t say anything
    though she didn’t look down either. My heart was now
    thumping away like I was running a 100yard dash with usain
    bolt. I drew her to me slowly and we kissed. Her lips were
    soft, smooth, velvety. I felt her go warm as we embraced
    and her pulse seem to be at tandem with mine. I was about
    relaxing when I opened my eyes and saw my previous
    landlady.
    Nina felt me stiffen and opened he r eyes. She saw the look
    on my face.
    “What?” She asked.
    “Nothing, I said and tried to draw her back to me but the
    moment had passed. She stood up hurriedly and put on her
    jacket. Landlady left immediately though the damage had
    already been done. Nina picked up her handbag and
    straightened her clothes.
    “Its just one more page, I’m sure you can finish up.” She
    said. I just looked at her, not knowing weather to cry or
    complain or plead or…
    She had reached the door when I grabbed her hand and
    drew her again to me. She let me kiss her and I could have
    sworn her knees buckled but again she drew away at the last
    minute, smiled and said goodbye and was out the door.
    “Hey, lemme escort you at least na,” I yelled moving out
    after her. She laughed and came back, dragged me by the
    hand to the junction where a bike man was waiting.
    “Bus stop, seventy naira,” he declared, and she entered the
    bike. I offered to pay but she politely refused. Just before
    the bike man zoomed off I bent close to her ears and
    whispered
    “If I offended you in anyway…”
    “No,no…” She smiled, “its just…I’m…”
    “You aren’t married are you?!” I said.
    “No” she said laughing, ‘its just, can we talk about it
    tomorrow?”
    “Now you are behaving weird”.
    She laughed again and the bike man zoomed off .
    I walked back to my apartment and sat down at the front
    entrance. Previous landlady came up and sat down beside
    me.
    “I’m sorry.” She said.
    “Yeah, it’s ok I guess.” I replied.
    “I spoilt the moment.”
    “Well, yes you kind of did.” I replied.
    She paused for a while.
    “You should get a car, you know” she said again. “That way,
    you could have dropped her off. Why don’t you get one? Its
    not as if you can’t afford it.”
    “Don’t like cars.” I said “what did you want?”
    “I wanted to let you know I’ll be leaving permanently soon. I
    can see the bright tunnel clearly now and my daughter has
    gone to reconcile with her father. Soon my soul will be at
    rest. I also wanted to thank you for being a friend during
    these lonely times.
    “You’re welcome.” I said.
    She patted me on the shoulder and smiled. ” Nice lady” she
    said. “Lovely wings”
    “Yes ma, they are.” I said, smiling. And then she
    disappeared.
    I heard that previous landlady was a mother to all around
    her when she was alive. I don’t normally see ghosts, just the
    ones with very strong spirits. I was happy she was finally
    going through the veil, though that happiness would have
    been complete if Nina had allowed me one more kiss…
    Still want to be like me??

    EPISODE 5

    The next day I came to work early, hoping to have a word with
    Nina. She came in a few minutes after I did, dropped her stuff
    on her desk, took one glance at me and headed into the boss’s
    office where she stayed for almost an hour. I watched and
    waited until she finally came out. As soon as she saw me
    approaching, she meandered into the secretary’s office. I was
    like, what? Weren’t we going to talk about this? I went back to
    my seat and waited. She came out soon after and seeing that
    the coast was clear, went to her desk. I decided to leave it till
    lunchtime. I just couldn’t keep my mind off her though. I had
    been in relationships in the past but this was different. She
    intruiged me. She was like a case I wanted to solve and didn’t
    mind spending the rest of my life doing it. I knew I was in love
    with her and had to find out if she had the same feelings for
    me. I had seen other people before with blackened wings,
    broken wings, bat-like wings even, but she…I couldn’t put my
    finger on it. But I knew if I could see my own manifestation in
    a mirror it would be me bursting into flames whenever she
    came around me.
    1pm. Lunch time.
    I had avoided making eye contact with her the whole time.
    Still, I had been watching her every once in a while from a
    reflecting teapot. She hadn’t left her seat and seemed totally
    engrossed in her work. Probably had forgotten all about me. . ,
    , !
    The lunch bell sounded and she got up along with everyone
    else and went to the cafeteria. I followed behind her. I watched
    as she took a helping of spaghetti and salad with chicken and
    moved to a corner of the table. I asked for rice and pepper
    stew and was about going to join her when she received a call.
    As she answered it I was hit with a wave of visuals so
    stunning I almost fell. A dark cloud appeared around her and
    her gold chains tightened painfully around her wings, so tight
    in fact, I thought I saw them bleed. Whoever was on the other
    side of the phone was responsible for my nina’s misery. As the
    conversation continued it was as if something dark was being
    absorbed from the phone into her ears and head and I watched
    as her entire demeanor became dull and miserable. I was still
    looking at all of this when a co-worker bumper into me from
    behind. I apologised and walked straight up to Nina who had
    finished her mysterious conversation. She looked up at me
    and tried to smile. I ignored the gesture.
    “Who was that?” I asked sitting beside her.
    “Who was who?” She replied.
    “The caller on the phone?”
    “Wow. That was quick. You’re not the jealous type are you? I
    can’t stand having a jealous boyfriend.” She said with a smile.
    “Whoever that was, was very important to you, and obviously
    causes you a lot of misery. I can help.”
    “No you can’t” she sighed and looked down at her plate.It was
    obvious she had lost her appetite. “No one can help me.”
    “Maybe I can, if you’ll just tell me.” I pleaded.
    “You go first. You had something you wanted to say in your
    apartment earlier. Before the assignment. Before we..kissed.”
    She looked back down at her plate shyly.
    “Oh, come-on, not that again. You know it has nothing to do
    with…wait. Did you call me “boyfriend” just now?”
    “Jealous boyfriend” she said, making a face.
    “Then what’s the problem?” I asked. She became quiet again. I
    took a deep breath and went for it.
    “Nina, you know how I feel about you. I know you do. I don’t
    like beating about the bush, so I would like to know, are you
    married?”
    “No I’m not.” She said.
    ” Fiancé?”
    “Not really…”
    Oh. So there was someone. It was my turn to lose my
    appetite. Then again, this person wasn’t really her fiancé. Isn’t
    that what she meant by her statement just now? I looked at
    her and she met my eyes.
    “Come back to my place, we will be able to talk more freely
    there. I promise to be the perfect gentleman.” I had decided to
    tell her everything. If she called me crazy and ran, so be it. But
    I would do my best to help her if she let me.
    She smiled again. I never got tired of that smile. It started at
    the centre of her lips and parted to show small white well
    shaped teeth. I longed for that smile like a kid longed for
    candy.
    “You have been too much of a gentleman already, ” she said.
    “Ok. Your place. But tomorrow. Tonight I’m going to be kind
    of…busy.”
    “Busy doing what?” I said alarmed.
    “Hey, you are the jealous type aren’t you?”
    “Who wouldn’t be jealous over you?” I said. “That person
    would have to be blind.”
    “Or overly confident” she finished with a faraway look in her
    eyes. I frowned but she didn’t explain further. She held my
    hands and squeezed them tight. “Thanks for being so
    concerned about me. You are a good friend.”
    That was definitely what I was trying to avoid being to her. I
    wanted more than friendship. Much more. But I smiled back
    and said nothing. All I could think about now was how to help
    her with whatever problem she had.
    ********

    EPISODE 6

    She came to my house by 12noon the next day. It was a
    saturday and environmental sanitation day and I had spent the
    better part of that morning cleaning out the house and weeding
    up some stubborn plants that were growing on the edges of
    the pavement. I kind of enjoy cooking so I had made some
    jollof rice with crispy curry fried chicken awaiting my special
    guest. I had also stocked up on a few non alcoholic drinks in
    my mini-bar …remembering to make sure orange juice was
    included. She liked orange juice. I had also stocked up on
    some cool music and some bestseller movies. Hey, we weren’t
    going to be discussing her problems the whole time she was
    going to be at my place were we? So I tushed things up a bit in
    preparation for my special guest.
    I had been sorting through my pictures when she knocked on
    my door. I opened and let her in. She wore a light yellow
    sundress with green frills and matching head accessories. She
    looked classic. We hugged and exchanged pleasantries and
    she sat down. I offered the orange juice and she gladly
    accepted. I took some glasses and soon we were drinking and
    chatting away.
    “Getting to your place wasn’t easy at all,” she said. “The bike
    guys refused to reach here”.
    “Probably because of the environmental, ” I replied. “The touts
    at the junction won’t let them rest. They harass them even
    after 10 o clock!”
    she smiled and became quiet. I waited patiently.
    “So, you wanted to know what my problem was…” She said
    quietly.
    I braced myself.
    “I never knew my parents. My guardian adopted me from a
    motherless babies home in Enugu.” She smiled sadly. “He said
    I brought him good luck, that as soon as I entered into his
    house, good things started happening to him. He was a farmer
    whose wife had been found by the doctors to be infertile. They
    had tried on numerous occasions to have children of their own
    but it had all been in vain. So after extended discussions with
    his wife, they decided to adopt. He said I kind of looked like
    her and that was why he adopted me. According to him,as
    soon as I came into the house things turned around for the
    better. His farm started to yield more and his wife’s petty
    trading improved. Soon he was able to get a bigger house to
    stay in and extended his land for more farming. He was able to
    hire labourers and business really boomed. The wife was good
    to me and treated me like I was her own daughter. They sent
    me to the best school they could afford in the vicinity and I
    was immediately singled out as one of the most intelligent
    pupils in the class.”
    “How old were you when you were adopted?” I asked.
    “Daddy says I was two at the time.”
    I nodded and let her continue.
    “When I was in secondary school, a cousin of my adopted
    father came to visit. I had never seen him before and was
    surprised that he had never visited. My guardians welcomed
    him joyously and thanked him for finally gracing thier humble
    abode, which quite honestly wasnt so humble anymore. He
    seemed genuinely happy for them and kept on looking at me
    with interest. They introduced me to him as their daughter
    though over the years I had come to find out that I was
    adopted. Not that i minded when I found out. I think they just
    wanted to let me know the truth and I appreciated them the
    more for it. Anyway, he asked again who I was and I told them
    I was their daughter and he smiled and said he had seen his
    daughter in law. My guardians laughed and I looked away
    shyly but didn’t know that he was quite serious.”
    “He left the next day and came back a week later with his son
    whom he said was about finishing secondary school to enter
    the university. He introduced us and let us be by our selves
    while he discussed with my adopted parents. Obi, the man’s
    son, seemed very reserved at the time. Dunno if it was
    shyness. We said one or two things and after a while his father
    said they were going. They thanked us for receiving them well
    and we thanked them in return.
    Over time I got to like obi very well and even looked up to him
    like a senior brother. Even when my guardians teased me that
    he was my husband I denied it, telling them obi was my
    brother. One day, as I was about finishing secondary school,
    Obi called me aside and told me he had feelings for me and
    wanted to marry me. That we should make a pact before I
    entered the university. I was so happy! But I drew the line at
    the pact. Not that I didn’t want to be with him but my mother
    was a staunch Christian and had warned me against taking
    blood oaths which is what he was suggesting. I told him I
    loved him and would be with him but as for the pact he was
    suggesting, I would have nothing to do with it. Obi was very
    disappointed in this and didn’t speak to me for days. I felt
    terrible but refused to give in. Finally however he accepted my
    word of faith fullness and we made up.
    I entered the university when he was in 300level. We weren’t in
    the same university and we used to visit each other when we
    had the chance. Every once in a while he would bring up the
    issue of a pact again and I would refuse. I noticed that he had
    started to change. He followed bad gangs and told me he was
    no longer going to church, that church was for people who
    were too lazy to do things on thier own. I tried to talk to him,
    tried visiting him more often but he became more distant,
    saying if I loved him I would agree to the pact. However I held
    my ground on that matter.”
    One day he called me late in the evening and said he was
    coming to visit me on campus. I told him from where? He said
    he was driving down from his university. I told him it was too
    late already that he should wait until the next day but he
    refused. It was like he had been drinking or something. I
    pleaded with him to wait, as if I knew something bad was
    going to happen but he refused to listen. He said I had a
    boyfriend and that was why I didn’t want him to come. I told
    him that was not the case. Hr said anyhow he was coming,
    that we would do the pact that day whether I liked it or not. I
    cried and told him to wait that it was obvious he was drunk and
    we would talk further tomorrow bit he wouldn’t listen and cut
    the call. A few hours later someone called me with his phone
    that he had gotten into an accident and was in a private
    hospital. I hurriedly called my parents and his and travelled the
    next day to see him. The doctor said he hurt his back badly
    and couldn’t walk, that he was paralysed from the waist down.
    He blamed me for the accident. He said if I had agreed to what
    he was saying that he wouldn’t have travelled that day. I told
    him his being paralysed wouldn’t stop me from marrying him.
    I have cared for him since then. He still stays in his father’s
    house and has servants about him but every once in a while I
    check on him and he checks on me. We would have been
    married two years ago but his father keeps postponing the
    event for whatever reason. I have seen over the years that obi
    has changed completely. He no longer loves me or cares
    about me but at the same time he dosent want to let me go.
    He keeps insisting on making this pact even as I have stayed
    with him until now.”
    I took a deep breath. This was a lot to take in. I waited a bit
    though, and when she didn’t continue I asked
    “What about you? How do you feel about him?”
    She sighed. “I care for him. He is my responsibility. If I leave
    him now it will look like its because of his paralysis that I am
    leaving. And I honestly don’t know how he will manage if I
    leave.”
    “So you do want to leave?” I said.
    “But I can’t!” she cried. ” I can’t leave him in that state. What
    kind of a terrible person does that! I see him as my fiancé and
    future husband. In fact we would have been married if not for
    the delay from my father-in-law to be. I still don’t get what his
    own problem is. I am ready to marry his son but he keeps
    telling us to be patient. We have been dancing around the
    issue since the accident, that is about three years now. I once
    threatened to leave but obi burst into tears and I had to
    promise him I was not going anywhere before he calmed
    down.”
    We were silent for a while. I kept thinking of Jerry Springer’s
    show “Baggage”. This was some serious stuff. Could I accept
    her baggage? And even if I did, what would I become? The
    family friend? How could I help?
    I sighed and she looked at me and smiled. “You are really
    great chuks. I see the way you do your work quietly. You don’t
    impose on people even when you are above them. I notice
    how you are always around to help others in thier problems.
    Falling for you would be so easy, but you can see why I have
    to keep my distance…”
    “Staying with someone in a relationship just because you feel
    sorry for the person, never works out.” I said.
    She looked a bit hurt and started to fidget in her seat.
    “Please chuks, I’d rather not talk about this anymore. I made
    someone a promise and I intend to keep it. He may not believe
    me but i do not need a pact to keep my word. Please can we
    leave it alone?”
    I sighed and sat back on my seat. She smiled and rested her
    head on my shoulder.
    “So. What is your big secret?” She asked.
    “I see things that others cannot see.”

    EPISODE 7

    Her head was still rested firmly on my shoulder. She hadn’t
    moved a muscle and for a moment I thought she hadn’t heard.
    I loved the way she scented, her perfume was sweet and soft
    just like her skin which was right now rubbing against mine.
    Her body was warm against mine, just as it had been on the
    day we kissed. I cherished these moments, all the more so as
    I risked losing it all in a few moments…
    “What did you say?” She asked, her head still on my shoulder.
    I wished I could see the look on her face, so I could gauge
    what her reaction was going to be like. I raised her up and
    held her by the shoulders so that she was looking straight at
    me. Her features were, well, blank.
    “I said, I see things that others do not see. Things that nobody,
    actually, should be allowed to see.”
    “You mean, you hallucinate?”
    “No I don’t hallucinate,” I paused. This was going to be difficult
    to explain. “I kind of see into the spirit realm, or third
    dimention, or whatever you want to call it. Everyone has that
    ability, only, not on this side of the veil.”
    “The veil? What are you talking about?” She was beginning to
    get alarmed.
    “The spirit world is divided from this one by a veil. Look, forget
    the intricate details, what you need to know is that I see things
    that make me able to read people, know their problems or
    gifts, and sometimes help them out when I can.”
    “Like the pastor the other day?” She asked
    “Like the pastor the other day.” I affirmed. “He was doing fetish
    things with the oil he was using on the people he was praying
    for, only that I could see he really didn’t want to do it but
    rather his wife pushed him into it. You know, a miracle here, a
    manifestation there, and his congregation would swell. But I
    saw into him and realised he didn’t want anything to do with it.
    So I pretended to go for prayers and instead advised him to
    stop. He was grateful. Hence the thank you. ”
    She listened on in silence. She had this look on her face like,
    ooooooh, so that was what that was all about. I watched her
    for a while longer wondering what she would say next. When
    she said it I wasn’t too surprised.
    “So what do you see when you look at me?” She asked.
    “You have beautiful wings.”
    She looked at me a while and then registered shock and
    surprise as realization dawned on her. “That’s what you said
    the day we met! You weren’t looking at my boobs!”
    I laughed and she laughed as well. It was amazing! If it had
    been a white chick she would have probably told me to go and
    see a psychiatrist. But I guess Africans and especially
    Nigerians were a little more accommodating when it came to
    supernatural issues. Or maybe it was just her personality. I
    was relieved though that she seemed to be taking this
    revelation rather well. however I still had something I needed
    to tell her.
    “There’s something else,” I said. I had since let go of her
    shoulder and she had relaxed into the chair. But now she sat
    up curiously.
    “Your wings. They are tied pretty tight with golden chains. I
    have honestly not seen that before and was wondering what it
    meant.”
    Her eyes widened and she impulsively looked at her shoulders
    as if to see if she could spot anything.
    “I honestly don’t know o, this is the first time someone is
    telling me that I have wings talkless of chained wings. Can’t
    you find out for me? Do they look heavy? Maybe they are my
    sins?”
    I shook my head. I had thought of that before but it didn’t male
    sense somehow and besides I would have seen it on someone
    else by now. Unforgiven sins usually appeared like dull grey
    rusting chains tied around a heavy ball of steel and attached
    to the ankles of the ones who carried them. They weren’t
    beautiful or shiny in any way. This golden chain however
    seemed tobe both a blessing and a curse to her. A thought
    came to mind and I voiced it out.
    “What if it has to do with the relationship you are in? Maybe
    your decision, being a selfless one, is what makes the chains
    golden. Its a good decision but self limiting. What do you
    think.”
    As I explained, her countenance became sad. She said nothing
    but tears came to her eyes. I can’t stand seeing ladies cry, it
    does something to me, makes me feel helpless somewhat. So
    I brought her close to me and hugged her, offering as much
    emotional support as I could. She stayed in my arms for a
    while but then suddenly pushed me away.
    “No! That can’t be it! You don’t understand, you’re just using
    the information I gave you to make things up so you’ll score
    points with me. Well I’m not falling for it!”
    Seriously?
    She got up and started to gather her things. I watched her, my
    mouth open in surprise. Weren’t we just laughing a while ago?
    What had I said to warrant this? why was she hot one moment
    and extremely cold the next? The chains around her wings
    appeared even more tight today than it had been yesterday and
    i wondered why i hadnt noticed it before. I suddenly
    remembered something.
    “What happened last night?” I asked.
    “Huh? None of your business!” She retorted.
    “You called him, didn’t you? You are going to meet him soon,
    maybe even agree to go ahead with the pact even though
    there seems no logical reason for it!” I had raised my voice a
    little. “You are about making a huge mistake!”
    “Its none of your business!” She repeated hotly.
    I threw my hands up in exasperation. In a way she was right, it
    wasn’t any of my business. I was letting the feelings I had for
    her cloud my judgement.
    She saw that I had become quiet and stopped fidgeting.
    “I’m sorry. Maybe I over reacted there a little. Its just, its
    complicated. His father has been very good to me and my
    family.”
    I closed my eyes and said nothing.
    “His father has agreed to come and see my guardians.” She
    said suddenly. ” He is coming with his dad to my place
    tomorrow so we can discuss a few things.”
    “I see,” I said, “well, far be it from me to play the devil’s
    advocate in this scenario. The truth of the matter is I’ve fallen
    in love with you. I wake up in the morning everyday with the
    hope that I’ll see you smile, or laugh or just talk. Everything
    about you is beautiful to me”
    “Chuks…” She said.
    “Please dear, let me finish. I’m not really one for putting my
    feelings out there but I have to let you know this. Its becoming
    obvious to me that you may not feel the same way. Still I can’t
    let you go knowing that you’re getting yourself into a situation
    that will hurt you. That’s why I’m trying to make it my
    business. If you don’t want me fine, but don’t sign off the rest
    of your life to a guy you don’t love just because you made a kid
    promise some years ago.”
    She sighed and sat down again. We were quiet for a while and
    I could hear the gentle rumble of thunder.
    “It seems like it’s going to rain.” She said. I nodded absent
    mindedly. This was definitely not how I intended spending my
    Saturday. The atmosphere in my room was tense and glum
    and I suddenly felt sick of the whole thing.
    “Screw this, I’m taking you out.” I said.
    “What? When?” She asked, taken aback. I got up and yanked
    her to her feet. I felt her exhale as I drew her close to me.
    Those lips, those lovely eyes… perfect gentleman, perfect
    gentleman….
    “There’s a nice spot a few yards away called ‘Sadi’s place.’ I
    said. ‘They sell the best barbacued fish this side of Lagos. We
    are going there now.”
    “But, the rain,” she said hesitantly.
    “It’s an indoor place and they have taxi for charter in case we
    want to go anywhere from there. Come on, it beats sitting
    around here moping, abi?”
    She laughed then and agreed. I wore my shoes and we went
    out the door
    “You know, maybe you should come along to my place, maybe
    tomorrow,” She said as we were going. “You’ll get to know my
    house and you’ll meet Obi. You’ll see his not a bad guy at all.
    A bit glum, but not bad.”
    “Let’s see how today goes first”, I said. I wasn’t particularly
    thrilled about meeting my competition but it was an
    opportunity to know her place so why not? And besides,
    maybe I could read him, and see if there was anything that
    required me worrying more about Nina.

    EPISODE 8

    It’s a wonderful Sunday morning.
    It should be a wonderful Sunday morning. The sun is out,
    shining bright in the sky, the birds are singing, there is a cool
    morning breeze pervading the entire place, an aftermath no
    doubt of the rains that fell last night. I have just seen Nina off
    (she spent the night) and we even shared a little kiss, before
    the okada man, grinning from ear to ear, zoomed off with her
    on the passenger seat. She had given me the address of her
    place but had to leave early so as to go to church and also
    prepare the place for her visitors when they arrived. We had a
    lovely time yesterday…so it should be a beautiful morning.
    So why do I feel so sad?
    Yesterday had been wonderful, we made it to Sadi’s place
    without any incident and there was already a live band playing.
    We ordered some drinks and a large barbecued catfish
    garnished with shrimps, tomatoes and onion rings. The fish
    had been roasted in foil paper at just the right temperature
    such that it had a crispy thin outer layer which had somehow
    trapped the essence of the various spices and fruit recipe Sadi
    herself had formulated to give a unique and heavenly taste. I
    never got tired of it and Nina, this being her first time of tasting
    it, absolutely enjoyed it. I had ordered a chilled cucumber and
    pineapple cocktail for Nina and a bottle of Smirnoff ice for
    myself. The atmosphere had been relaxing and entertaining
    and before we knew it we had forgotten our issues. We
    ordered more drinks, Nina taking a Smirnoff this time and a
    bottle of cold Star beer for me. We talked about the office, our
    families, our schools, our friends; we talked about a lot. And I
    saw then that Nina was even more vivacious, even more full of
    life than I had previously imagined.
    We were halfway in the middle of a conversation and I had
    suggested we finish it in my place. I know, I know, it was a
    flimsy excuse but she didn’t complain. We got to my place
    about six o’clock, just as the rain had started to fall. We
    watched a movie, found out that we shared the same
    fondness for songs and played a few tracks as we talked. By
    ten o’clock she became sleepy and asked what she could use
    as a Nightie. I went into the cupboard and found a large Pooh
    Bear T-shirt. It fit her perfectly. I left her to have her bath in
    the bathroom and went to see about the sleeping
    arrangements. I pulled out the couch in the parlour (the chair
    that could become a sofa) and set it up, and then I went to
    change the bed sheets in the room. She had gone into the
    bathroom with her dress, one of my towels and the T-shirt I
    gave her. I was still fixing up the bed when I heard a noise, on
    turning around there she was, looking lovely and smelling
    heavenly. I wanted to have her there and then, to make her
    mine, but I remembered my promise…
    She came towards me, smiling that her intoxicating
    smile.
    “Still being the perfect gentleman?” she asked coyly.
    “For as long as you want me to be…” I replied with a low growl.
    She giggled and pushed me out of the room. I feigned
    resistance a bit then went to have my own bath. By the time I
    had gotten dressed she had put out the bedroom lights and
    apparently gone to sleep. I sighed and went to the couch.
    I had slept in that couch many a time when watching movies in
    my parlour. Never had it felt as uncomfortable as it did last
    night. I tossed and turned, put on the Air conditioning and put
    it off again. Sleep became as elusive as the real Santa Claus
    on a cold Christmas night. My mind kept going back to that
    warm body lying on the bed, the curves of those hips, the
    loveliness of that b—m. My throat for some reason was very
    dry. I decided to visit the kitchen to get a drink and in so doing
    passed across the bedroom door. It was slightly ajar and dark
    inside, the only source of light coming from the bedside lamp.
    I was on my way back from the kitchen when I heard her
    voice:
    “Is that you, chuks? Please come in… I can’t go to sleep.”
    I came in and, without a word, snuggled up behind her. She
    sighed and nodded approvingly and then closed her eyes. I did
    too, for a few seconds, and then opened them again. I mean,
    her neck was just there, so I gave it a brush with my lips. She
    shivered and I caressed her neck with my lips a little more,
    starting from the top of the neck muscle and going all the way
    down to its base. She sighed again and I dared to raise my
    hands in a caress of her supple neck and shoulders and then
    down the curves of her hips and back. I felt her warm body
    curve against mine as I continued my sensual assault but just
    as I was about to feel the weight of her b—m, I heard a
    gentle sob. I paused a bit and soon, I heard it again. She was
    crying.
    “What’s the matter?” I asked.
    “Nothing.” She said. “Okay, maybe something. I’m sorry
    chuks, I want you, I really do, but…but…”
    “You made a promise.” I said simply.
    “Yes,”
    “And you keep your promises,” I said.
    “Yes.”
    “Well so do I,” I said good naturedly. “I’m switching back to
    perfect gentleman mode.”
    She laughed a little.
    “I’m really sorry chuks” She said quietly. “Can we just…”
    “Say no more.” I said. I cuddled her and she went to sleep.
    I had awakened this morning to the sounds of movement and
    when I looked at the time it was a few minutes to seven. I had
    eventually slept off more than an hour later last night despite
    numerous protests from every cell in my body. I rubbed my
    eyes and looked around the room. She had already gotten
    dressed and when she saw I was awake she pulled me out of
    the bed to escort her to the junction. She explained that she
    had to be in church by nine and her room was a mess and she
    had to go fix the place up for her visitors…
    It was supposed to be a wonderful Sunday morning.
    But I kept getting this feeling that today would mark the end of
    my relationship with Nina.

    EPISODE 9

    By three o clock in the afternoon I received a call from Nina. I
    was to come over to her place; there was someone she
    wanted me to meet. I got dressed in my Sunday best and hired
    a taxi. It took about an hour for me to get to the address she
    had described. It was an estate that was built a year ago;
    highly fenced with barbed wire adorned around the perimeter
    and security guards at the main gate. The houses still looked
    like the paint hadn’t dried from the walls. Hers was one of the
    smaller buildings, daintily placed within a hedge of well
    cultivated hibiscus plants. There was a Toyota jeep parked in
    front of the entrance and I didn’t need any supernatural
    powers to see that whoever owned it was financially well off.
    There was a driver relaxing on the front seat, his window
    wound down, playing some highlife music. The windows of the
    jeep were tinted and so it was difficult to see inside. I hailed
    the driver who nodded nonchalantly and went back to his
    relaxing. I walked up to the door, listening for any sign of a
    conversation and heard none. I knocked and waited a while,
    finally hearing some shuffling and then the door opened.
    “Hello Chukwudi, so nice to see you! Please come in.” Nina
    seemed to want my visit to be impromptu so I smiled and
    played along. Her place was decently furnished and seemed to
    be a room and parlour affair. There was a single yellow 3
    seater sofa sited at the edge of the room and directly opposite
    was a fairly large flat screen television mounted on the wall
    below which was a DSTV decoder and a DVD player. A portrait
    of Nina and some guy was on the wall facing the door. The
    guy in the picture seemed friendly enough; I would admit he
    even looked handsome. And then I saw him in real life.
    He was in a wheelchair, one of the expensive ones, with a kind
    of joystick attached to the right handle, which powered a small
    motor for movement. He looked like he would be about my
    height if he stood up. The body hugging grey T-shirt did little to
    hide his slim features and his blue jeans matched well polished
    black shoes. The face was not changed much from the one in
    the picture, but the demeanor could have belonged to
    someone else. He looked restless, a little unkempt, and mean.
    Wrinkle lines below his eyes and cheek betrayed a face that
    was no stranger to frowning. He didn’t seem sad, just…
    frustrated. He watched me come in like I was an intruder
    come to steal meat from his pot of soup.
    His father however, was a different character. Seated on the
    sofa, with two men standing on either side of him, he reminded
    me of the village chiefs that stared in our popular Nollywood
    movies. His attire was native regalia adorned with red and
    gold. On his head was a red cap adorned with feathers and his
    neck and wrists were covered with gold necklaces and a gold
    watch. Probably fake I thought to myself. Real gold wouldn’t
    glitter like that. His bodyguards wore simple native attires of
    the same colour only theirs was not as expensive looking as
    his. They didn’t meet y eye once during my entire short visit
    although the man himself was smiling politely at me. Nina
    quickly did the introductions.
    “Daddy, Obi, this is chukwudi, my colleague at work and a
    good friend. Chuks, this is Obi and his Father, Mr A****
    “Mr.? Isn’t he a Chief?” I asked. Nina looked down shyly and
    Mr A**** laughed.
    “Why do you think I’m a chief?” He asked between his laughs.
    “Because of your magnificent outfit sir.” I countered smiling. I
    was beginning to like this man. It was obvious he was a jovial
    fellow.
    “How do you do.” Obi said simply and without smiling.
    “I am fine thanks,” I replied. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Obi.
    Nina has told me a lot about you.”
    “Has she?” He replied with some sarcasm. He looked her way
    menacingly and she fled from his stare. “She talks too much
    sometimes.”
    “Well, they were nice things. About how kind and friendly you
    are.” I said with a bit of sarcasm.
    Obi sighed and said nothing. I was beginning to feel really
    sorry for Nina. His father interrupted.
    “Chuks, is it?” he said. “Have you known Nina long?”
    “About a few months; she’s a nice girl and very hardworking.”
    I said.
    “What about you? Where is your family?” he asked.
    “They are in the village. I go to see them at least once a year,
    work allowing. It’s not as frequent as I would like though.” I
    said.
    “Oh, that’s all right,” he replied. “Obi here never used to come
    home until after the accident. Said school was too busy.
    Where he gets the extra time now baffles me.”
    “Father, please don’t start again,” Obi replied.
    I had to say, I liked the old man instantly. He was friendly and
    polite while Obi was bitter, angry and withdrawn. I reasoned it
    was probably because of his condition. Throughout the visit he
    never smiled once, hardly engaging in conversation except to
    order Nina around. His father seemed to notice his son’s
    behavior and chided him occasionally, a gesture I was grateful
    for since I couldn’t do anything in defense of Nina without
    betraying my feelings for her. The two bodyguards stood
    throughout the visit and more or less did not participate. It
    made for a bit of a formal atmosphere. Once in a while Nina
    would steal a private glance at me and smile encouragingly,
    but other than that, we didn’t relate much. She served us all
    food, rice and stew with chicken, a Sunday classic. Her
    cooking was delicious and I complimented her. She accepted
    graciously and her father-in-law to be commended her for a
    job well done. Obi ate in silence and said nothing.
    After about half an hour, I decided it was time to go and
    announced my departure. Mr A**** seemed genuinely sorry to
    see me leave and asked where I stayed and I told him. He said
    he was going to pick up something in the same direction and
    he would drop me as soon as he collected a note for Nina’s
    parents. I thanked him and he quickly whispered to one of the
    guards who escorted me outside to the jeep.
    “Wait,” I heard a voice and turned around to see that Obi had
    followed us. He drove up in his wheelchair and looked at me
    from head to toe. Then he gave a nasty laugh.
    “She’s mine, you know.” He said.
    “I know,” I said. “You are a lucky guy.”
    “Luck?” he said and laughed again. It was the most irritating
    laugh I had ever heard. “Luck has nothing to do with it. I just
    want you to know that whatever you try when I’m not around
    is not going to work. She will always come back to me. So
    don’t waste your time.” Then he turned and went back into the
    house.
    Overly confident bast.ard on a wheel chair! I thought.
    The bodyguard was already seated at the front so I opened the
    back door and climbed inside the jeep. After a while Obi’s
    father came out with a smiling Nina in his arms and Obi
    grumpily following in his wheelchair. He thanked her again and
    said he’ll be back later to pick up his son. I couldn’t help but
    feel that the connection between her father-in-law to be and
    herself was much stronger than that between her and her
    fiancé. He entered into the back seat beside me, leaving the
    other bodyguard with his son. We waved and were off.
    It was a bit dark inside the jeep, probably because of the tinted
    glasses. Mr A**** was quietly reading a newspaper, the air
    conditioning was on and I was feeling a little bit awkward.
    Suddenly Mr A**** spoke
    “Do I make you feel uncomfortable?”
    “No sir,” I replied. “Quite the contrary. You are very kind for
    offering to drop me at my place.”
    “It’s not a problem,” he replied smiling. “You do see
    uncomfortable though. Or is it my bodyguards?” I was a little
    uncomfortable now, as I didn’t know where he was heading to
    with all the questions.
    “Well sir, you must be a very important person for them to
    follow you everywhere.”
    He looked at me hard for a while, then nodded congenially and
    went back to reading his paper. I was about to ask about his
    son’s health when I received a text message. It was Nina.
    “How far?”
    “I’m cool,” I replied.
    “Did you see anything out of the ordinary?”
    “No, your fiancé is clean. nothing on him at all” And
    considering his demeanor, i found that to be odd, although i
    didn’t tell her that.
    “I’m sorry if he was rude. Has his dad dropped you off?”
    “We are still in traffic. He’s a good man. Apart from his native
    regalia and bodyguards, I think he’s okay too. Who dresses
    like that these days?”.
    There was a pause before I received the next message.
    “What are you talking about? My father-in-law wore a suit to my
    house. He seldom wears native attires. And he didn’t come with
    any bodyguards!
    My hands started to shake. Realization dawned on me as I
    looked at him sharply. He was still reading his newspaper
    quietly but what he said next chilled me to the bone.
    “So.” Said Mr A**** in a menacing voice. “You can see .”
    The last thing I remember was the bodyguard suddenly
    passing his hand through the seat and making a grab at my
    throat. Then all went black.

    EPISODE 10

    I felt my head pounding as I slowly returned to consciousness.
    I was lying down on the floor in a very large dark room, with a
    singular, small window on the wall opposite mine, close to the
    ceiling, not even large enough for me to poke my head
    through. It appeared to be evening outside and the only source
    of light came from a singular but large red candle flickering
    strongly on a mantelpiece attached to the roof. I blinked and
    squinted as my eyes started to adjust to the poor lighting and
    it was only when I tried to get up that I realized I had been
    bound hand and foot. The pounding in my head continued
    mercilessly as I tried to struggle into a sitting position. After a
    few failed attempts, I managed to lean my back against the
    wall behind me. The whole place smelt damp and sinister. I
    looked around me and saw that apart from being bound I had
    been chained by one of my ankles to a heavy looking bolt on
    the floor. There didn’t seem to be any need for that though, as
    the ropes were already doing a good job of keeping me a
    prisoner. I was a little disoriented in time but hazarded a guess
    that it had been a few hours since my abduction. Abduction;
    now that I had thought of that word, I began to realize the full
    implications of my situation. I weighed shouting for help to
    keeping quiet. It might be that my abductors had kept me
    somewhere isolated and my shouting would only alert them to
    the fact that I had regained consciousness. I decided to keep
    quiet for now.
    The walls of the room were dirty brown in colour and some
    dried dark substance stained the walls in various areas. Below
    these stains were strange symbols and writings, none of
    which made any sense to me. I suddenly saw swift movement
    on the other side of the room and I struggled upright. I saw
    some movement again and something flew past my face. I
    was so taken aback I yelled out and the noise echoed all
    around the room. This caused more of the creatures to start
    flying about and screeching in high pitched tones. Bats! I
    wasn’t very fond of bats, with their little razor sharp teeth and
    claws; and for some reason my brain decided that this was the
    right time to remind me of a documentary I had watched on
    discovery channel that bats transmitted rabies. I shuddered
    and kept quiet as they fluttered and circled above me. Even
    though I couldn’t see them, by the sound they made I figured
    they would be about a hundred of them which would be more
    than enough to do me in if they decided to attack-
    Shut up brain!
    I forced myself to remain calm. As far as I knew bats did not
    knowingly attack humans, normal bats anyway. I squinted ,
    trying to see if there was another way out of the room, maybe
    the way the bats had flown in. they couldn’t have come in from
    the window as it was closed, so there must be…
    “Why are you looking up?”
    I swiveled round to where the voice had come from. Mr A****
    was standing there smiling, as friendly looking as ever. Beside
    him now stood four bodyguards, all dressed as the ones I had
    “seen” before. As usual they looked blank and a lot like
    statues and didn’t move until Mr A**** himself did.
    “What are you looking at?” he asked again, advancing slowly. I
    tried moving back then realized I was already against the wall.
    There was
    nowhere to move back to. I put on a bold, nonchalant face.
    “The bats.” I said. “I don’t like bats so much.”
    His eyes twinkled in excitement and he let out a whoop of
    laughter. It echoed around the room as my shout had done
    earlier and the bats scattered again.
    “And I suppose,” he said, “that you are wondering why we
    bound you so tight?”
    “Well, the chain to the ground thing is a bit much.” I replied.
    “Haaaa! Wonderful!” he said, laughing again. I didn’t quite get
    it and started to conclude that Mr A**** was as mad as a
    hatter.
    “If any other person had been in this room, all they would have
    seen would have been the ropes binding their hands and feet.
    Only someone really gifted would see the enchanted chain on
    the floor and my spiritual sentries on the roof! You are indeed
    talented, boy! Tell me, how did you acquire this power? Did
    you kill anyone? Sacrifices perhaps? A secret cult? I have
    already looked you over, there are no charms on your body, so
    how are you doing it?”
    The chains and the bats had been a test. And I had passed
    horribly. I sighed to myself. There were few times when I
    considered myself unlucky for having the Sight. This was one
    of the. But then something told me that even if I had not seen
    the supernatural objects, he still would not have freed me.
    “Come now, chuks, don’t you have anything to say?” Mr A****
    asked jovially, “You are in the presence of a fellow seer; I see
    things that are beyond the physical realm as well. I can even
    tell you how I got mine, a little matter of using my wife. I had
    to wait until after our child was born of course, so I could
    propagate my name. I have acquired so much power and
    wealth since then, up to having y own spiritual demon guards.
    They follow me everywhere and have helped me out of a
    difficult situation once or twice. I remember one time, many
    years ago when armed robbers came to my house. I had just
    acquired my guards from the spirit realm and was eager to
    use them. There were five young armed men that entered my
    house that day, only one made it out alive. He is mad now, still
    at Uselu psychiatric hospital as their permanent guest. No one
    believes him when he says he saw his comrades being
    strangled before his eyes by invisible forces. I let him go then
    so he could spread the word to the underworld that I should be
    feared…
    “I am not a seer.” I said.
    For the first time a frown entered his face. Obviously he didn’t
    like to be interrupted. The nice and friendly Mr A**** that I had
    seen disappeared and for the first time I saw the ugliness of
    him. The hardheartedness and fury he held. But I was not
    deterred.
    “What did you say, boy?” he said coming a little closer.
    “I am not a seer!” I replied boldly. “I was born with this gift. I
    didn’t do anything evil to anyone to get it! I am not like you!
    Not in any way! Now untie me before I show you what else I
    can do!”
    I was bluffing. There was nothing else I could do. I had never
    been in a situation like this before and my heart was pounding
    like it was going to come out of my chest and flee the scene,
    but I had to appear calm and in control. This man didn’t know
    anything about me. I had to use it to my advantage before
    things got worse.
    He studied me a while and seemed to calm down. Suddenly he
    called out:
    “Number one! Number two!
    Two young and malnourished looking men came in from a
    small door at the side, probably the same door Mr. A**** had
    come in from when I was looking up at the bats. They ran up
    to him and knelt down.
    “These are my servants. Don’t be confused, they are real.” He
    said and turned his attention to them.
    “Our guest wants to give us a demonstration. Free him.”
    They ran up to me and propped me up. In a few moments the
    ropes were loosened and I massaged my hands where they
    had dug deep into my skin. I stretched my legs a bit and felt a
    little better. Things were looking up.
    “Alright then,” said Mr A****. “Free yourself.”
    Eh? I did a quick check and sure enough all the ropes had been
    loosed, so what was he talking about? I took a few steps
    forward then suddenly I couldn’t move! Try as I might I
    couldn’t lift my left foot of the ground! Then I remembered. The
    chain, the steel bolt in the floor.
    Mr. A**** was watching me curiously as if he was expecting
    me to do something. As I didn’t know what he wanted e to do I
    stood there for a while as if in quiet contemplation. Then,
    summoning all my strength, I yanked my leg forward.
    The pain was so excruciating I had to scream out. I looked
    down, half expecting to see torn flesh where my left foot had
    been but it was still intact, not a scratch, as if nothing was
    wrong. And yet I felt the pain burn deep down to my bone. I
    doubled over and eventually had to sit on the floor. I was
    sweating now and almost passed out.
    Mr A****’s laugh brought me back to my senses. I couldn’t
    understand now how I had ever thought that laugh was
    friendly. I tried to take slow, deep breaths as the pain
    subsided.
    Mr. A**** walked up to me and whispered in my ear. “You
    have no power, do you? I’m sure you never even tried to
    understand what you were given. It is said that children who
    inherit their wealth lose it while those who suffered for it, keep
    it. It’s a pity you are the former.”
    He walked away again and continued his speech like I never
    interrupted him.
    “I let him go to spread the word of my powers to the
    underworld but not before giving him a little gift. A little
    something to keep those who heard the story terrified. I’d like
    to give you that gift as well.”
    “No thanks,” I said, struggling to my feet. It still hurt a little bit
    but not so much. “I don’t think it will be wise receiving
    anything from you.”
    he smiled and walked away from me. He went towards one of
    the walls and said something and one of the bats overhead
    flew down to him.
    “Nina has beautiful wings, doesn’t she?” he said quietly.
    “What?” I said.
    “Nina. The first time I saw her, she had the most beautiful
    wings I had ever seen. Actually at the time they were the only
    wings I had seen, and I asked my master what they meant. He
    told me that such people had great and powerful destinies and
    if her destiny could be tied to mine, there would be no limit to
    my powers and my wealth would be even greater than I had
    ever imagined. But that I couldn’t just steal it. I needed Nina’s
    consent in the matter. I tried to get my son to create a blood
    pact with her but so far he has failed miserably. He even tried
    rebelling against me once, saying he was no longer interested
    in the relationship. I had to teach him a lesson…”
    “You caused the accident,” I said, shocked. “Your own son!”
    “Oh, I have done a lot worse, boy, believe me.” he was walking
    back to me now, holding one of the bats in his hands. As he
    came closer I gave a small gasp. The bat wasn’t a bat at all. It
    looked like a small monkey with criss-crossed eyes and it was
    chattering maniacally. It had four pairs of long arms and a pair
    of very small wings. It screeched and chattered as it came
    towards me and I drew back.
    “What the hell is that?!” I shouted, but he didn’t answer. He
    nodded to the two malnourished men and they rushed me and
    pinned my hands behind me. I struggled frantically but they
    were surprisingly very strong. Mr. A**** was still talking.
    “I had planned on getting rid of you, but I think that would
    raise Nina’s suspicions. Afterall, I was the one last seen with
    you. It would also warrant some police investigations from
    your office, maybe your parents getting involved, too messy.
    So I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you go. With this little guy on your
    head.”
    I was struggling frantically now. That thing didn’t look like it
    would have anything good to add to me if I let it sit on my
    head. I saw the maniacal look in its eyes and heard its
    incessant chattering. And immediately I knew what its function
    was. I screamed and shouted for help but my voice echoed
    around the room aimlessly. Mr. A**** started laughing again
    as he brought the creature closer to my head.
    “See you at the psychiatric hospital, chuks!” he laughed as the
    creature started attaching itself to my head. And then all went
    black again.

    EPISODE 11

    How long has he been like this?”
    “Two days now, sir.”
    “My son, oh my son!”
    The voices seemed to be coming to me from far off. I opened
    my eyes and saw that I was lying down in a comfortable bed.
    The air conditioning was soothing to my skin and the television
    was on with a football match showing. The fluorescent light
    from the ceiling was blinding my eyes and I winced as my
    pupils constricted to accommodate the bright surroundings. I
    recognized the pictures in my room and I sighed with relief.
    What a nightmare! So I had been dreaming the whole thing all
    along? I turned to my side and saw Nina still sleeping on the
    bed beside me. Sweet, sexy, adorable Nina, my personal
    angel. Her beautiful skin shone smoothly in the fluorescent
    light. I imagined her chest moving gently with her breathing
    and turned, smiling towards her…
    But she wasn’t breathing. She looked cold, unmovable, still as,
    as… I couldn’t think it. Suddenly my heart started beating hard
    against my chest.
    “Nina? Nina?” I called out, getting more panicked by the
    minute. I shook her hard but she didn’t respond. I wanted to
    turn her over, but I was suddenly too afraid to look at her face.
    Her beautiful face, what if I looked and it wasn’t beautiful
    anymore? But curiosity got the better of me and I turned her
    on her back.
    And screamed.
    Her face was gone, nothing. Nothing was there just a blank
    mass of flesh. I tried jumping out of the bed and suddenly
    chains from nowhere wrapped themselves around my hands
    and feet. I screamed louder and then the door to the room
    opened and I saw myself, myself as a child, looking in and
    hissing angrily.
    “You are having a nightmare, you .” My child self said
    scornfully. “Wake up!”
    I screamed and jumped up- and I was out of the nightare only
    to find y parents rushing towards me, worry all over their
    faces.
    “HE’S AWAKE!”
    “Chukwudi, my son, what happened?”
    I looked around me confused and saw that I was in the same
    room I mistook for mine in the dream. Only that there was a
    nurse beside me and my hands and feet had been chained to
    the bed. Both my parents were standing beside me, looking
    very worried, and behind them stood – Mr A****! He looked
    even more concerned than my parents and for a moment I
    thought I had indeed been dreaming. And then I caught him
    smiling wickedly as his eyes met mine.
    I said “Mum, dad, get away from this b—–d! He is evil!”
    But what came out of my mouth was:
    “Skelewu, Jump the bridge! Wind your waist and dance for
    me!!!”
    My parents gasped, Mr A**** shook his head sadly. I was
    shocked! Shocked beyond words. What happened? I tried
    again:
    “ Dad? ”
    “Agbaya!!”
    “Mum?”
    “Dam!”
    My mum started crying. I stopped talking and looked at her. I
    tried smiling to encourage her but found myself grinning
    maniacally instead. I knew what was happening but they
    didn’t. and I saw my mother hold my father and weep for her
    son. And I looked at Mr A**** who, standing behind them, was
    watching me with a hidden smile. And there and then I swore
    revenge. It would be absolute and merciless. I didn’t know how
    I would get out of this but I intended to do so with every fibre
    of my being.
    My father was talking. “So that’s how you found him?”
    “Er, Yes sir.” Mr. A**** replied humbly. “I had dropped him off
    on Sunday and came back to my daughter in law’s place. He
    even sent her a text message a few hours later saying he was
    going to town to buy something to eat. The next thing we
    knew he called and started shouting that some men were
    chasing him and that he had bolted himself in his house. I went
    along with my daughter-in-law to his place with a few
    policemen only to meet him like this. They later found a few
    wraps of Indian hemp on his table, both used and unused. The
    doctor said it is common for hemp smokers to start
    hallucinating especially when they have been taking it for a
    long time.”
    I don’t smoke hemp ! I shouted
    “E don tay since I dey take igbo naa…!” I heard myself say.
    “Our son, a hemp smoker?!” my mum interjected. “I don’t
    believe it!”
    “Eees very possible ma.” The young nurse by my side had
    decided to enter the conversation. “We dey see them plenty
    for this side o. Dey go dey look responsible meanwhile…”
    “Thank you nurse”. My father said grimly. “We’ll take care of
    him from here. Thank you Mr A****, you have been very kind,
    paying all his medical bills…”
    Mr A**** nodded quietly. “Its no trouble. I liked him fro the first
    moment I saw him, his charisma, his intelligence. He reminded
    me of myself when I was younger. It’s a pity he went into
    drugs. I am sure the doctor will be able to do something for
    him. My daughter in law says she will come by later to see
    him. Maybe I’ll drop her off before returning to my hotel.”
    “Thanks again sir” my mum said and he smiled and left. The
    nurse adjusted the drip on my arm and left as well. As soon as
    they left my mum went to my side and sat down close to me.
    “Chuks, what happened?”
    I opened my mouth to answer but instead spat on her face.
    She withdrew and cleaned it off and looked at her husband.
    “Can he really go mad?” she said, looking more alarmed than
    ever. “Do you think he saw…something he shouldn’t have
    seen?”
    My father was quiet. He seemed to be deep in thought. My
    mother had to get up and go to him and physically shake him
    before he broke out of his reverie.
    “What is it, woman?!” he asked angrily.
    “What can you be thinking of at a time like this?” my mum said
    getting hysterical. “Our son is lying here, not his normal self
    and you are silent? What do we do?”
    “First of all, calm down.” My father had become the man I
    knew. I could see him building inner strength, becoming a rock
    of stability and support. Hopefully he would know what to do.
    My mum, however was still on the verge of a massive
    hysteria. “I won’t calm down o. where is the doctor? How can
    he have been here for two days and the doctor has seen him
    only once? When did our son start taking hemp?
    My dad stared at her with fiery eyes and she finally kept quiet.
    His look was altogether menacing and for a moment I thought
    he was going to shout down the place. His voice however
    remained calm.
    “My son already sees visions, he would never resort to drugs
    that would make him hallucinate even more. You know chuks
    better than that! With all the stress he has gone through trying
    to adjust and appear normal, is it now he would resort to
    drugs for comfort?
    My mother saw the sense in that and nodded quietly in
    agreement.
    “secondly, we must tell the doctor or nurse immediately to
    stop that man from coming to visit chuks. I didn’t like him at
    all.”
    “But why?” mum said, “he seemed so nice.”
    “Too nice,” my father retorted. “how long has he known
    chuks? ‘he reminded me of myself when I was young…’
    rubbish! Make sure he doesn’t come near here again!”
    “Yes dear,” my mum said.
    “Now please, there is something I want to try but I’ll need you
    to stand outside and let nobody interrupt us.
    Her eyes widened. “You mean, you want to call…”
    “Yes.” He said. “I don’t see what else we can do. It may have
    been too long and it may not work but I have to try.”
    My mother’s eyes filled with hope. I watched her and inwards
    I smiled. My dad had always been the one to hold unto in
    times of crises. My mum and I adored him so much although
    we never told him to his face, lest he become too full of
    himself. A foolish reason, I thought now, as I watched,
    trapped, a prisoner in my own body, as my mother left the
    room and my father came to the foot of the bed.
    “ I love you, dad. ” I said.
    “Comot for here, b—–d!” I spoke.
    “Its all right chukudi, don’t say anymore.” He said. He sighed
    deeply and was quiet for a while before he started to speak:
    “When you were little, your mum tried to hide your peculiarities
    from me. Funny woman, how won’t I know if my only son is
    strange? I found out after a while and at first pretended I didn’t
    know. Then I started getting angry and thought I could force it
    out of you, especially when you told your mum about the
    feelings her friend and I shared, even though you didn’t know
    what you were doing at the time. I was so blinded by my lust,
    anger and selfishness I thought I could beat it out of you. So
    one day when I was at home with you and your mother went to
    work, I went to the back of the house and cut a big cane. I said
    I would flog you mercilessly and warn you never to repeat
    anything you saw again. The strange thing was that you
    showed no signs of fear even as I raised the whip. I flogged
    and flogged you and you uttered not a word. I was still too
    angry to notice the evil I was doing so I threw the whip away
    and pulled my belt. When the head of the belt hit you, you
    screamed and ran back. I chased after you with the belt and
    hit you again. You had nowhere else to run and so you
    grabbed the belt. I was about pulling it out of your hands when
    you screamed again.”
    My father paused for a moment, as if he was about to expose
    a big secret whose weight had burdened him for years. I
    watched him in silence.
    “ I don’t know what you did that day, but I found something
    escaping my body. It was like a disgusting, ugly looking
    monkey with a big manhood. I saw it with my own, normal
    eyes, it wriggled and squirmed about on the ground for a short
    while, then lay still, dead. And then it disappeared. I
    immediately lost all feelings for your mother’s friend. I didn’t
    even understand why I had been so angry with you. I dropped
    to my knees and begged you for forgiveness and you held my
    hands with yours which had swollen from my whipping. And
    you smiled and told me that you saw when your mother’s
    friend had put it on me, that it had been sitting on my shoulder
    the whole time.”
    I opened my eyes wide in amazement. I had done that as a
    child? I could do that? How come I didn’t remember?
    “i told you then that you were stronger than me and you said
    you would do it for me anytime I called you Chukwudi the
    stronger. That you liked the way the name sounded. Chukwudi
    the Stronger! And I used it there and then. I selfishly asked you
    to remove any other thing from me, anything that was
    hindering my way to greatness.” He was crying now.
    “Chukwudi the stronger! I made you remove as many
    obstacles from my path and your mother’s that day. That was
    the day things really began to change, the day things started
    to get better, but it had an effect on you. You slept throughout
    the next day and when you finally awoke, you had no
    recollection of the incident. You seemed so stressed out, so
    overworked, so drained . Your mother and I decided we would
    never use you for such selfish purposes again. We didn’t know
    how it would affect your health. And so we kept it a secret
    between us. And a secret it has remained for all these years,
    even from you. It was after then we started hearing you talk of
    Pachios, whom you called your guardian angel. I personally
    felt that a higher power had sent him to you to protect you until
    you could fend for yourself. And since he allowed this, this
    thing happen to you, I believe your time has come for you to
    do just that.”
    I was stunned. I had never heard this part of my history
    before. And then I realized it. When I was still a child Pachios
    had always been there to protect me from harm. The odd
    scrape there, the adventurous escapade there. I remember
    when I was in primary school and some dogs chased after a
    group of us boys as we ran home from school. Each and every
    one of those eleven boys had been chased down or bitten by
    the dogs, except me. They simply behaved as if I wasn’t there.
    I knew Pachios had been covering me with his wings. And the
    scar I had gotten on my wrist when escaping from school…I
    had actually fallen right unto the barbed wire. It was because I
    stretched out my hands as I fell that I had any injury at all.
    Pachios had been there to catch me. And since I had come to
    Lagos Pachios’ visits had become less and less frequent. But
    surely this was an emergency? Where was he? Did he expect
    me to do this on my own?
    My father had pulled himself up to his full height and he had
    stopped crying. His voice took an authoritarian tone and he set
    his face firm as a rock and spoke loudly:
    Chukwudi the stronger!
    Come out!
    Are you asleep?
    Listen to the voice of your father, the voice of the one who calls
    you Son!
    Chukwudi the stronger!
    Are your eyes still heavy?
    Awake from your slumber and vanquish those who would make
    you a mockery.
    CHUKWUDI THE STRONGER! RISE!
    At first nothing happened. I felt silly, watching him there
    looking at me, looking at me almost the same way Mr A****
    had done back in the large, dark room. What did he want me
    to do? And then…I felt myself fall. I was falling deep into my
    own body as if my body itself was a huge room and I was
    dropping right down to the centre. I shouted but no sound
    came out and I continued to fall, until I landed on a firm
    surface. My landing was gentle despite haven fallen for a long
    time. I stayed on the ground for a while and looked around me.
    I was in an empty room. There was a source of light coming
    from above but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact location. As I
    walked around I realized the room was no longer empty. Lying
    on the floor, sleeping peacefully, was a small boy of about six
    years. I knew who he was before I even approached him. In
    fact this room for some reason appeared very familiar, like I
    had lived in it my whole life. I went over to the boy and shook
    him but he mumbled something and went back to sleep.
    “Wake up!” I said. “it’s time for you to wake up!”
    He turned around sleepily to face me and I recognized my
    younger self, the one I had seen in my nightmare earlier that
    day. He yawned and mumbled some more then turned to go
    back to sleep. I shook him again.
    “You again? What is it?” he asked sleepily.
    “I need your help,” I said. “Someone put a lunacy creature on
    my head”
    “Well, get rid of it,” he said, stubbornly refusing to open his
    eyes.
    “I can’t,” I said. “I don’t know how and Pachios isn’t around to
    help me anymore.”
    “Pachios is gone?” he said opening his eyes and sitting up. He
    suddenly smiled. “So does that mean I am in charge now?”
    “Yes it does.” I said feeling a bit funny talking to myself. “ I am
    in charge.”
    He stood up and stretched about a bit. It really seemed he had
    been sleeping for a long time. Then he said “This is going to be
    so much fun! You are not a strict kind of adult are you?”
    “Get me out of this predicament, and we’ll see.” I said. “Get
    me out, Chukwudi the stronger!”
    He grinned then, and bellowed at the top of his lungs, “ WHO
    DARES TO SIT ON MY HEAD?! ” and I heard a trembling from
    above and the creature attached to my head screeched in
    terror.
    Chukwudi the younger, the stronger , looked at me, still
    grinning. “Let’s go back up. I have a feeling you are going to
    enjoy this as much as I am!”

    EPISODE 12

    How long has he been like this?”
    “Two days now, sir.”
    “My son, oh my son!”
    The voices seemed to be coming to me from far off. I opened
    my eyes and saw that I was lying down in a comfortable bed.
    The air conditioning was soothing to my skin and the television
    was on with a football match showing. The fluorescent light
    from the ceiling was blinding my eyes and I winced as my
    pupils constricted to accommodate the bright surroundings. I
    recognized the pictures in my room and I sighed with relief.
    What a nightmare! So I had been dreaming the whole thing all
    along? I turned to my side and saw Nina still sleeping on the
    bed beside me. Sweet, sexy, adorable Nina, my personal
    angel. Her beautiful skin shone smoothly in the fluorescent
    light. I imagined her chest moving gently with her breathing
    and turned, smiling towards her…
    But she wasn’t breathing. She looked cold, unmovable, still as,
    as… I couldn’t think it. Suddenly my heart started beating hard
    against my chest.
    “Nina? Nina?” I called out, getting more panicked by the
    minute. I shook her hard but she didn’t respond. I wanted to
    turn her over, but I was suddenly too afraid to look at her face.
    Her beautiful face, what if I looked and it wasn’t beautiful
    anymore? But curiosity got the better of me and I turned her
    on her back.
    And screamed.
    Her face was gone, nothing. Nothing was there just a blank
    mass of flesh. I tried jumping out of the bed and suddenly
    chains from nowhere wrapped themselves around my hands
    and feet. I screamed louder and then the door to the room
    opened and I saw myself, myself as a child, looking in and
    hissing angrily.
    “You are having a nightmare, you .” My child self said
    scornfully. “Wake up!”
    I screamed and jumped up- and I was out of the nightare only
    to find y parents rushing towards me, worry all over their
    faces.
    “HE’S AWAKE!”
    “Chukwudi, my son, what happened?”
    I looked around me confused and saw that I was in the same
    room I mistook for mine in the dream. Only that there was a
    nurse beside me and my hands and feet had been chained to
    the bed. Both my parents were standing beside me, looking
    very worried, and behind them stood – Mr A****! He looked
    even more concerned than my parents and for a moment I
    thought I had indeed been dreaming. And then I caught him
    smiling wickedly as his eyes met mine.
    I said “Mum, dad, get away from this b—–d! He is evil!”
    But what came out of my mouth was:
    “Skelewu, Jump the bridge! Wind your waist and dance for
    me!!!”
    My parents gasped, Mr A**** shook his head sadly. I was
    shocked! Shocked beyond words. What happened? I tried
    again:
    “ Dad? ”
    “Agbaya!!”
    “Mum?”
    “Dam!”
    My mum started crying. I stopped talking and looked at her. I
    tried smiling to encourage her but found myself grinning
    maniacally instead. I knew what was happening but they
    didn’t. and I saw my mother hold my father and weep for her
    son. And I looked at Mr A**** who, standing behind them, was
    watching me with a hidden smile. And there and then I swore
    revenge. It would be absolute and merciless. I didn’t know how
    I would get out of this but I intended to do so with every fibre
    of my being.
    My father was talking. “So that’s how you found him?”
    “Er, Yes sir.” Mr. A**** replied humbly. “I had dropped him off
    on Sunday and came back to my daughter in law’s place. He
    even sent her a text message a few hours later saying he was
    going to town to buy something to eat. The next thing we
    knew he called and started shouting that some men were
    chasing him and that he had bolted himself in his house. I went
    along with my daughter-in-law to his place with a few
    policemen only to meet him like this. They later found a few
    wraps of Indian hemp on his table, both used and unused. The
    doctor said it is common for hemp smokers to start
    hallucinating especially when they have been taking it for a
    long time.”
    I don’t smoke hemp ! I shouted
    “E don tay since I dey take igbo naa…!” I heard myself say.
    “Our son, a hemp smoker?!” my mum interjected. “I don’t
    believe it!”
    “Eees very possible ma.” The young nurse by my side had
    decided to enter the conversation. “We dey see them plenty
    for this side o. Dey go dey look responsible meanwhile…”
    “Thank you nurse”. My father said grimly. “We’ll take care of
    him from here. Thank you Mr A****, you have been very kind,
    paying all his medical bills…”
    Mr A**** nodded quietly. “Its no trouble. I liked him fro the first
    moment I saw him, his charisma, his intelligence. He reminded
    me of myself when I was younger. It’s a pity he went into
    drugs. I am sure the doctor will be able to do something for
    him. My daughter in law says she will come by later to see
    him. Maybe I’ll drop her off before returning to my hotel.”
    “Thanks again sir” my mum said and he smiled and left. The
    nurse adjusted the drip on my arm and left as well. As soon as
    they left my mum went to my side and sat down close to me.
    “Chuks, what happened?”
    I opened my mouth to answer but instead spat on her face.
    She withdrew and cleaned it off and looked at her husband.
    “Can he really go mad?” she said, looking more alarmed than
    ever. “Do you think he saw…something he shouldn’t have
    seen?”
    My father was quiet. He seemed to be deep in thought. My
    mother had to get up and go to him and physically shake him
    before he broke out of his reverie.
    “What is it, woman?!” he asked angrily.
    “What can you be thinking of at a time like this?” my mum said
    getting hysterical. “Our son is lying here, not his normal self
    and you are silent? What do we do?”
    “First of all, calm down.” My father had become the man I
    knew. I could see him building inner strength, becoming a rock
    of stability and support. Hopefully he would know what to do.
    My mum, however was still on the verge of a massive
    hysteria. “I won’t calm down o. where is the doctor? How can
    he have been here for two days and the doctor has seen him
    only once? When did our son start taking hemp?
    My dad stared at her with fiery eyes and she finally kept quiet.
    His look was altogether menacing and for a moment I thought
    he was going to shout down the place. His voice however
    remained calm.
    “My son already sees visions, he would never resort to drugs
    that would make him hallucinate even more. You know chuks
    better than that! With all the stress he has gone through trying
    to adjust and appear normal, is it now he would resort to
    drugs for comfort?
    My mother saw the sense in that and nodded quietly in
    agreement.
    “secondly, we must tell the doctor or nurse immediately to
    stop that man from coming to visit chuks. I didn’t like him at
    all.”
    “But why?” mum said, “he seemed so nice.”
    “Too nice,” my father retorted. “how long has he known
    chuks? ‘he reminded me of myself when I was young…’
    rubbish! Make sure he doesn’t come near here again!”
    “Yes dear,” my mum said.
    “Now please, there is something I want to try but I’ll need you
    to stand outside and let nobody interrupt us.
    Her eyes widened. “You mean, you want to call…”
    “Yes.” He said. “I don’t see what else we can do. It may have
    been too long and it may not work but I have to try.”
    My mother’s eyes filled with hope. I watched her and inwards
    I smiled. My dad had always been the one to hold unto in
    times of crises. My mum and I adored him so much although
    we never told him to his face, lest he become too full of
    himself. A foolish reason, I thought now, as I watched,
    trapped, a prisoner in my own body, as my mother left the
    room and my father came to the foot of the bed.
    “ I love you, dad. ” I said.
    “Comot for here, b—–d!” I spoke.
    “Its all right chukudi, don’t say anymore.” He said. He sighed
    deeply and was quiet for a while before he started to speak:
    “When you were little, your mum tried to hide your peculiarities
    from me. Funny woman, how won’t I know if my only son is
    strange? I found out after a while and at first pretended I didn’t
    know. Then I started getting angry and thought I could force it
    out of you, especially when you told your mum about the
    feelings her friend and I shared, even though you didn’t know
    what you were doing at the time. I was so blinded by my lust,
    anger and selfishness I thought I could beat it out of you. So
    one day when I was at home with you and your mother went to
    work, I went to the back of the house and cut a big cane. I said
    I would flog you mercilessly and warn you never to repeat
    anything you saw again. The strange thing was that you
    showed no signs of fear even as I raised the whip. I flogged
    and flogged you and you uttered not a word. I was still too
    angry to notice the evil I was doing so I threw the whip away
    and pulled my belt. When the head of the belt hit you, you
    screamed and ran back. I chased after you with the belt and
    hit you again. You had nowhere else to run and so you
    grabbed the belt. I was about pulling it out of your hands when
    you screamed again.”
    My father paused for a moment, as if he was about to expose
    a big secret whose weight had burdened him for years. I
    watched him in silence.
    “ I don’t know what you did that day, but I found something
    escaping my body. It was like a disgusting, ugly looking
    monkey with a big manhood. I saw it with my own, normal
    eyes, it wriggled and squirmed about on the ground for a short
    while, then lay still, dead. And then it disappeared. I
    immediately lost all feelings for your mother’s friend. I didn’t
    even understand why I had been so angry with you. I dropped
    to my knees and begged you for forgiveness and you held my
    hands with yours which had swollen from my whipping. And
    you smiled and told me that you saw when your mother’s
    friend had put it on me, that it had been sitting on my shoulder
    the whole time.”
    I opened my eyes wide in amazement. I had done that as a
    child? I could do that? How come I didn’t remember?
    “i told you then that you were stronger than me and you said
    you would do it for me anytime I called you Chukwudi the
    stronger. That you liked the way the name sounded. Chukwudi
    the Stronger! And I used it there and then. I selfishly asked you
    to remove any other thing from me, anything that was
    hindering my way to greatness.” He was crying now.
    “Chukwudi the stronger! I made you remove as many
    obstacles from my path and your mother’s that day. That was
    the day things really began to change, the day things started
    to get better, but it had an effect on you. You slept throughout
    the next day and when you finally awoke, you had no
    recollection of the incident. You seemed so stressed out, so
    overworked, so drained . Your mother and I decided we would
    never use you for such selfish purposes again. We didn’t know
    how it would affect your health. And so we kept it a secret
    between us. And a secret it has remained for all these years,
    even from you. It was after then we started hearing you talk of
    Pachios, whom you called your guardian angel. I personally
    felt that a higher power had sent him to you to protect you until
    you could fend for yourself. And since he allowed this, this
    thing happen to you, I believe your time has come for you to
    do just that.”
    I was stunned. I had never heard this part of my history
    before. And then I realized it. When I was still a child Pachios
    had always been there to protect me from harm. The odd
    scrape there, the adventurous escapade there. I remember
    when I was in primary school and some dogs chased after a
    group of us boys as we ran home from school. Each and every
    one of those eleven boys had been chased down or bitten by
    the dogs, except me. They simply behaved as if I wasn’t there.
    I knew Pachios had been covering me with his wings. And the
    scar I had gotten on my wrist when escaping from school…I
    had actually fallen right unto the barbed wire. It was because I
    stretched out my hands as I fell that I had any injury at all.
    Pachios had been there to catch me. And since I had come to
    Lagos Pachios’ visits had become less and less frequent. But
    surely this was an emergency? Where was he? Did he expect
    me to do this on my own?
    My father had pulled himself up to his full height and he had
    stopped crying. His voice took an authoritarian tone and he set
    his face firm as a rock and spoke loudly:
    Chukwudi the stronger!
    Come out!
    Are you asleep?
    Listen to the voice of your father, the voice of the one who calls
    you Son!
    Chukwudi the stronger!
    Are your eyes still heavy?
    Awake from your slumber and vanquish those who would make
    you a mockery.
    CHUKWUDI THE STRONGER! RISE!
    At first nothing happened. I felt silly, watching him there
    looking at me, looking at me almost the same way Mr A****
    had done back in the large, dark room. What did he want me
    to do? And then…I felt myself fall. I was falling deep into my
    own body as if my body itself was a huge room and I was
    dropping right down to the centre. I shouted but no sound
    came out and I continued to fall, until I landed on a firm
    surface. My landing was gentle despite haven fallen for a long
    time. I stayed on the ground for a while and looked around me.
    I was in an empty room. There was a source of light coming
    from above but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact location. As I
    walked around I realized the room was no longer empty. Lying
    on the floor, sleeping peacefully, was a small boy of about six
    years. I knew who he was before I even approached him. In
    fact this room for some reason appeared very familiar, like I
    had lived in it my whole life. I went over to the boy and shook
    him but he mumbled something and went back to sleep.
    “Wake up!” I said. “it’s time for you to wake up!”
    He turned around sleepily to face me and I recognized my
    younger self, the one I had seen in my nightmare earlier that
    day. He yawned and mumbled some more then turned to go
    back to sleep. I shook him again.
    “You again? What is it?” he asked sleepily.
    “I need your help,” I said. “Someone put a lunacy creature on
    my head”
    “Well, get rid of it,” he said, stubbornly refusing to open his
    eyes.
    “I can’t,” I said. “I don’t know how and Pachios isn’t around to
    help me anymore.”
    “Pachios is gone?” he said opening his eyes and sitting up. He
    suddenly smiled. “So does that mean I am in charge now?”
    “Yes it does.” I said feeling a bit funny talking to myself. “ I am
    in charge.”
    He stood up and stretched about a bit. It really seemed he had
    been sleeping for a long time. Then he said “This is going to be
    so much fun! You are not a strict kind of adult are you?”
    “Get me out of this predicament, and we’ll see.” I said. “Get
    me out, Chukwudi the stronger!”
    He grinned then, and bellowed at the top of his lungs, “ WHO
    DARES TO SIT ON MY HEAD?! ” and I heard a trembling from
    above and the creature attached to my head screeched in
    terror.
    Chukwudi the younger, the stronger , looked at me, still
    grinning. “Let’s go back up. I have a feeling you are going to
    enjoy this as much as I am!”

    EPISODE 13

    The conversation.
    “We need to talk.”
    “What?” he asked, not looking down.
    Chuks the stronger held me by the hand as he flew effortlessly
    back towards what I could only fathom would be my head.
    When he said “Let’s go”, I had thought I would suddenly wake
    up sane,but apparently things weren’t going to work out that
    way. He had simply held me by the hand and with a mighty
    jump, we were headed back the way I had fallen. I watched
    him and marveled at his confidence, even though he looked
    like a six year old I knew that spirit wise he was probably
    much older and more skilled than I was. He was me in my
    simplest, purest form,undiluted,unspoilt by the logic that was
    the world. It was exhilarating to see this my other self, so full
    of confidence,so sure of himself. But watching him, watching
    the way he headed back to consciousness with glee, I
    suddenly felt worried.
    “Who will I be?”
    “Eh?” Chuks said, still not looking down, the force of his
    upward acceleration seemed to be making it difficult for him to
    hear me, like trying to strike a conversation with someone
    riding a bike swiftly against the wind.
    “Wait, STOP!” I shouted. And he did. Chuks the stronger put on
    the brakes mid air and stood standing on nothing,
    looking at me. I still hung from his hand and struggled about.
    “Why don’t you stand?” said chuks the stronger.
    “Where?!” I gasped, looking round.
    “Anywhere!!” Said chuks. “It’s your mind, after all.”
    I still struggled about a bit, not understanding how chuks was
    standing mid air. “I don’t get it!” I said, “how do you stand
    on…”
    “Just stand!” chuks said.
    And I did. I looked into his eyes and became calm. I imagined
    my feet on solid ground and hey presto! I was standing. I
    didn’t look down though.
    Chuks the younger was looking up at me with scorn, if such a
    thing was possible. I ignored him and looked around me for a
    while. “So this is inside my body,huh?” I asked.
    “Its just your imagination” Chuks replied.”if I were to pinpoint
    our exact location it would most likely be our brain. We’ll be at
    our consciousness very soon.
    “Yeah…I wanted to talk to you about that.” I said. “Who will I
    be?”
    “I don’t understand…” Chuks said
    “Will I be me or you?” I asked. “When we regain
    consciousness, who will be in charge?”
    Chuks grinned again. “I will.” He said, and laughed when he
    saw the look on my face.”I am you! A lost part of you. I’m
    definitely not going to take over. We are one, you and I. it will
    be like waking up from a dream and remembering something
    you had long forgotten, although…” and here he eyed me
    pointedly, “ it seems as if you have forgotten a lot. What
    happened to you?”
    “Nothing!” I said defensively. “I remember most of my
    childhood, I do. Okay, maybe I stopped using my gift a lot
    during the time I was growing up and I lost a lot of, er… skills
    in the process, but I did it so we…so I…could appear normal.
    You don’t understand the way they looked at me the first time I
    came to school, how I was constantly bullied for being weird
    or put at the back of the class for saying things that weren’t
    there! I had to…adjust. And besides father says the reason I
    couldn’t remember you or rather your gift is because I did
    something, removed something from him and mum and-”
    “I extracted a lust creature, yes I know. I was there remember?
    I was too young physically at the time and the energy I
    expended was too much for my little body, but now I am a
    man! Think of the things I could do! I can really rock and roll
    when I get back!”
    “Rock and roll? Who says… never mind. What I want to know
    is how did I remove that demon and how do I handle this one?
    Chuks sighed. For a young boy, he exhibited a lot of adult
    mannerisms. And I noticed that somehow he was getting
    older. The more we talked the more he seemed to age; right
    now he looked more like a teenager. I wasn’t sure if he was
    aware of this but decided to keep mute about it. He grabbed
    me by the hand suddenly and we were off again.
    “You see creatures not of this realm right?” he said. “do you
    talk to them?”
    “only the people.” I replied trying to hold on.
    “Well, have you tried talking to a creature before?”
    “I try not to.” I said, “I don’t want to get involved in too much
    stuff. Trying to stay n….”
    “Normal, yeah, I get it.” He said. “Well you have five senses
    don’t you? You see, smell, taste, hear and feel. Have you ever
    considered doing that in the spiritual realm as well?”
    I hadn’t thought of it. Of course I had made contact with one or
    two manifestations, my previous landlady, a small greed
    demon I had chased out of my bosses room so I could submit
    an assignment in peace, Pachios himself…but I had never
    really delved into interacting so much.
    “Well, not really, it makes me uncomfortable.” I said.
    “No chuks” chuks replied. “it makes you afraid. Fear is a
    barrier to so many things beyond the veil. It makes you
    second guess yourself, it makes you have friends you don’t
    need and enemies you can’t afford. Our FATHER from before
    the veil made us Dominators, Conquerors. But as soon as we
    pass through the veil we are distracted by the noise of this
    little earth and by the shiny things man has made for his
    pleasure, and we forget it all. I came through with my
    memories of the other side as a baby. I didn’t come through
    with only my sight. And yet even I that have been in slumber
    for so many years, even I have forgotten so much. But I am
    still a child, and a child does not think of fear or
    impossibilities. Things only become impossible when you stop
    to think about them. “
    I was quiet. I felt him now more than ever, like I was the one
    talking and holding him by the hand instead of the other way
    around.
    “We are nearly there.” He said and looked down at me. He
    was smiling. I smiled back and suddenly we were in another
    room. Just like that, no door, no entrance, nothing. But this
    room didn’t feel peaceful like the one I had found him sleeping
    in. it felt tumultuous, frenzied, and I heard whispers, whispers
    which grew into babbling, incoherent, continuous babbling. I
    looked for the source and when I couldn’t see it I asked chuks
    the stronger “Where is it?”
    “Where do you want it to be?” he replied and he looked ahead.
    I did too and sure enough I saw it. Seated on a golden stool,
    making a terrible mess of the place with oozing green liquid
    and screeching horribly was the cross-eyed, monkey-bat like
    creature I had seen earlier in the cave. It bared its fangs and
    gave off a fearful howl. I took a step back.
    Chuks the stronger looked at me, puzzled. “No,” he said, “You
    did not just step back did you? Are you afraid? Look at what
    you did.”
    I looked and right there and then the creature grew bigger. It
    expanded its wings which had nasty looking talons and it
    became twice its size. It shrieked again even louder and I took
    another step back. Chuks the stronger slapped me at the back
    of my head, hard.
    “OW!” I said. “Hey, that hurt!”
    “Better you feel pain than to feel fear,” he said. “What’s wrong
    with you? This fella is sitting in your head like it owns the
    place and you are here doing a backslide? Show it whose
    boss!”
    I stared at the creature again. It had grown to four times its
    size and was now massive. It flapped its wings, spewing green
    stuff everywhere and screeched loud-
    “AWWWW SHUT IT!!!” Chukwudi the stronger yelled loudly and
    the creature closed its mouth immediately. He gazed at it with
    fire in his eyes and it shrank back to twice its normal size. He
    walked a few feet then turned, backing the creature and facing
    me.
    “Fear is like a spiders web. The more you struggle in it, the
    more it will hold you down. Ignore the fear! That thing is
    seating on your seat!”
    I looked at the creature again and indeed it seemed out of
    place on that golden stool. In fact, it seemed very out of place
    in this clean room, messing up everywhere, making a nasty
    ruckus. And I got mad. I got really angry. And I walked past
    Chukwudi the stronger and approached the creature
    confidently. It watched me coming with apprehension in its
    eyes, and then I saw, it was afraid!
    “Get the hell outta here!” I shouted getting closer now and
    noticing the creature shrink even more until it was almost its
    original size. “I own this place, this is my domain!Get out!”
    I was close to it now. It raised one disgusting wing and made
    to swipe at me and I grabbed that wing midair with my right
    hand. With my left hand and with a loud yell I pounded the
    creature on the head with a mighty blow. It wasn’t as strong
    as I had imagined and I felt its skull crack and it collapsed, still
    on the stool. It tried rising again and I went all out for it,
    shouting, yelling and tearing; I broke its wings and snapped its
    neck, then I hurled the carcass off the golden stool and unto
    the floor where it remained still for a while and then
    disappeared. I could feel my hands and face covered in gooey
    smelly stuff but I felt great! I shouted in exhilaration! I had
    done it! I picked up the golden stool, cleaned it as much as I
    could and sat down on it proudly. Then I saw the look of shock
    on Chukwudi the stronger’s face.
    “What?!” I said.
    “That was very violent and messy,” he said shaking his head.
    “I mean, you could have just commanded it off when it had
    shrunk back to its normal size then chased it out or used the
    sword to finish it off. That’s what I would have done…”
    I looked beside me and saw a sword on the floor.
    “Wait,”I said trembling, “there was a sword there the whole
    time? The whole time?!
    Chukwudi the stronger laughed and came up and shook my
    shoulder. “The point is, you got the job done! Congratulations!
    You see, you could have done that by yourself all along! Now
    we can regain consciousness with our sanity intact. But first,
    abeg, let’s find a way to clean you up.
    *******

    EPISODE 14

    Hello young man,” the psychiatrist said, looking kindly at me.
    I gave him one of my most winning smiles. I needed to be as
    friendly as possible if I was going to pull this one off. I took
    one look at him at it was awesome. I thought I could see into
    other people before, but now it was like looking with super
    vision. I saw everything, every little detail about the doctor
    was made known to me. Is this how I used to see when I was
    little? No wonder I had run into so much trouble then. I knew
    his name, the day he was born, his worst fear, his greatest
    accomplishments. Every little hidden secret was an open book
    to me. And I read him. And I marvelled at this gift.
    “So,” he said. “My name is-”
    “Dr Paul O-, yes I know” I replied.
    The psychiatrist looked a little startled at first, then he looked
    at his name tag on his desk and smiled.
    “Very observant of you” he said,
    “I didn’t read your name tag” I replied.
    “Of course you didn’t” the doctor responded condescendingly.
    “A voice must have told you, right?”
    I noted his sarcasm and resisted the urge to get angry. He was
    still viewing me as a patient. I needed to be calm to convince
    him otherwise.
    He noticed my silence and opened up my case note and
    started writing. I tried not to look curious as he scribbled down
    whatever he thought was wrong with me. Finally he spoke:
    “How long have you been smoking Indian hemp?”
    “I have never smoked Indian hemp in my life.”
    “Oh come now,” he said, “I can’t help you unless you tell me
    the truth.”
    I turned back and saw the two nurses at alert behind me.
    “Well, a little privacy would be nice,” I said pointedly.
    He hesitated for a moment then asked both nurses out of the
    office. The female nurse objected, looking very concerned but
    he allayed her fears.
    “I don’t think our friend is going to be violent, nurse. He just
    wants a little privacy so he can tell me what I need to know
    without feeling shy, abi my friend?” He said smiling at me.
    I nodded and she reluctantly left with the male nurse. They
    shut the door but I could still feel thier presence. They hadn’t
    gone far.
    The doctor was looking at me, observing my every move. I
    was sure there was some kind of alarm button below his desk,
    if I misbehaved, those two would be back in the office in
    seconds.
    “Now then,” he said genially. “We are alone. So tell me when
    you started using Indian hemp.
    “I have never smoked Indian hemp in my life.” I repeated.
    He gave me a look like a headmaster who had caught one of
    his students doing something naughty, calmly took up my
    case note and read where they had found Indian hemp in my
    apartment.
    “And did you see the hemp sir? I asked innocently. The doctor
    admited that no, he hadn’t. I asked if anyone else had seen the
    said wraps of hemp for which he answered on the negative but
    said it was probably with the police who had accompanied the
    good Samaritan to my room.
    “I am sorry, doctor, but I am aware that when the police bring
    a case like this to your hospital, they usually leave thier
    number so they can be contacted in case of any eventuality.” I
    said. “Do you have any such information?”
    I saw a puzzled look come across the doctor’s face as he
    searched through my case note. Obviously he hadn’t bothered
    to look for any of these things and had simply begun seeing
    me based on the word of the “good samaritan” that had
    brought me in. And if he had met me in my “psychotic” state he
    would never had taken a second look at the supposed
    information given, as my case would have been typical in
    presentation to the tens of cases he saw like this everyday.
    Even if my parents who had travelled all the way from my
    hometown had vouched for me, my irrational talk and violent
    behaviour would have still convinced the doctor that I had been
    involved in some form of substance use. It was clear that my
    logical thinking was causing the doctor some concern and
    doubt.
    “Listen, Mr chuks,” the doctor said. “I don’t know why I can’t
    get any information regarding the whereabouts of your
    cannabis, but its probably an oversight from our staff.
    however, it also says here that you were having auditory and
    visual hallucinations which is typical of this condition. Now tell
    me, do you hear voices or see things that other people in the
    room do not see?”
    Here was my cue. Now was the moment of truth. I could
    either try and feign ignorance and hope he would discharge me
    based on my miraculous recovery, or I could let him in on
    what really happened and hope he wasn’t somehow on Mr
    A-‘s payroll. I didn’t have to think so much though, the next
    thing he said made up my mind for me”.
    “You might as well tell me the truth because either way I’m still
    going to keep you here even if its for observation.” And he
    started scribbling something else on my case note.
    “How is Bisi doing?” I said. “Are you planning on calling her
    later?”
    The room became deathly silent. It was as if i had shot him
    with a stun gun, as if a massive amount of electricity had gone
    through his body. He just sat there, his mouth open, his
    fingers still moving the pen but writing nothing. I didn’t wait for
    him to respond.
    “She’s definitely not the girl for you, if you don’t mind my
    saying so. Someone who would argue with you and keep
    malice for four days just because you came a few minutes late
    for a lunch appointment isn’t going to be anymore
    understanding if and when you do get married.”
    The doctor was finally able to find his voice though his fingers
    were still twitching spasmodically. “How…how did
    you…but…”
    “Okay sir, here’s the thing.” I said. “Yes I do see things
    sometimes that other people don’t see but that doesn’t make
    me crazy, just different. And I don’t talk about it unless I feel it
    will be of help to the person, just as I feel I have helped you
    out of making the biggest mistake of your life. I don’t smoke
    Indian hemp, never have and hopefully nevrr will. I was framed
    and its a very long story, one that maybe one day I’ll write into
    a book and publish, but not one I have the time to tell right
    now. Right now I have to leave this hospital as soon as
    possible. I’ll do any test you want me to do to prove my sanity
    but I don’t have the time because I strongly feel the girl of my
    dreams is about to make a very grave mistake and I have to
    be there to stop her. And oh yes, the woman whose fender you
    hit today only let you off because she saw your car had
    sustained more damage than hers.”
    The look on the doctor’s face was priceless. He seemed like he
    wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. For a man who
    believed strongly in logic I had just blown his beliefs out of the
    water. He looked at me for a while and I wondered what he
    was going to say, what he was going to do.
    “So…Bisi is not my soulmate?” He asked.
    “I’m sorry, no.” I said. “Marry her and you’ll be struggling the
    rest of your life. All that glitters isn’t gold, my friend.”
    He smiled sadly at that last statement and I saw tears come to
    his eyes. Suddenly he scribbled some more into my case note
    and signed off then turned it towards me so I could read. The
    last line went:
    CASE OF DELIRIUM. NO USAGE OF CANNABIS. PATIENT
    DISCHARGED HOME.
    I heaved a sigh of relief and thanked him.
    ‘No, thank you,” he said. “I haven’t felt so good in four days.
    You are free to go. I would like to have your number though, if
    you don’t mind.”
    I gave it to him and started to leave the office. I opened the
    door and saw the two nurses sitting on a bench outside. The
    female nurse jumped up on seeing me and I smiled at her. I
    turned back and said to the doctor who was still sitting dazed
    in his chair.
    “You two make a good team. Imagine drinking that well
    brewed coffee for the rest of your life. Open your eyes, man!”
    Then I smiled again and gave way for the female nurse who
    promptly came into the office and asked if the doctor was
    alright. The doctor looked at her and I saw that he had made
    the connection.
    “I’m fine Nurse Betty,” He said. “The patient has been
    discharged. Let him go home.”

    EPISODE 15

    It’s been a day since I was discharged from the psychiatrist
    hospital at Yaba. And Nina has not called. My parents were
    ecstatic when I came out of the doctor’s office and told them
    that I had been discharged. They wasted no time in clearing
    whatever outstanding bills were left, thanked the doctor
    profusely and bundled me home like a long lost child. I didn’t
    blame them though. I hadn’t seen them in a year and the next
    thing they were hearing is I was crazy. And having the kind of
    gift that I do, I can imagine they were terribly worried. My
    mum keeps on hugging me from time to time, getting quite
    irritating. My dad is faring much better. I can tell he is happy
    by the way he nods at any suggestion my mum makes. Apart
    from that his expression has remained the same. He is more
    observant and has noticed that I am anxious about something
    and soon he figures out what it is.
    I’m lying down in my room trying to read a novel, ‘A mile in my
    shoes’. My mum is in the kitchen, having gone to the market
    previously. From the deliciously titillating aroma that emanates
    from there, I deduce she is making Egusi soup. I can hear her
    humming happily to herself and I sigh quietly. I can’t wait for
    them to leave. I have to find out about Nina. I have to know
    why she didn’t call, why she didn’t visit, if she is alright. I have
    thought of calling her many times but I don’t know what
    situation she is in and I don’t want to alert Mr A**** to the fact
    that I am back and very sane. Not yet. What if I call and he is
    with her at the time? Would he feel threatened and harm her in
    some way? What if that fiancée of hers has convinced her to
    take the pact? What if she has simply forgotten about me and
    decided I wasn’t worth being around anymore? Maybe she
    believed it that I was a hemp smoker, that everything I had said
    I was capable of was just because of the effects of the weed I
    was purported to have been smoking? My head was a
    spaghetti plate of confused thoughts and it was giving me a
    headache. I planned on secretly going to visit her yesterday,
    as soon as I was discharged but my mother wouldn’t hear of
    it. She didn’t care where I was going, she said. I needed rest,
    she said. My house was devoid of soup and stew, how had I
    been feeding, etcetera, etcetera. And my dad had nodded in
    agreement, not saying a word in my defense. Parents!
    The night before had been difficult, I kept tossing and turning,
    and when I finally went to sleep I was accosted by Chukwudi
    the stronger who wanted to know why I was so restless. It
    seemed like a dream but somehow I knew it wasn’t. I found
    myself explaining about Nina and my feelings for her. He
    laughed, or rather, giggled and asked if we had kissed yet. I
    told him yes and he said I should make sure to kiss her again
    now that he was awake to experience it. P—–t. Wait, he’s
    me, so…
    Anyway here I am this afternoon, the morning having been one
    long boring lecture by my mother on how to keep my
    immaculately clean house cleaner, how my fridge is devoid of
    soup, how to keep my wardrobe neat else I wouldn’t attract
    the right kind of girl, (a statement that had so many things
    wrong with it but I didn’t want to argue with her) and so on. I
    kept quiet and endured until she finally went off to the market.
    My father had stayed in the parlour all through, reading the
    newspaper when there was no light, watching CNN when there
    was, and didn’t say anything at all to me which left me to my
    tormenting thoughts until I decided to come to the room and
    have a quiet read.
    I heard a quiet knock on the door and I looked up from my
    novel. My dad was at the door, still holding his newspaper.
    “Can I come in? He asked, and then came in regardless. I
    shifted over to one edge of the bed while he sat down at the
    other end. We sat still in awkward silence for a few minutes
    and then:
    “Does she mean that much to you?”
    “Yes,” I said, “Yes she does.”
    He sighed. “We are not leaving until we are sure you are
    alright.”
    “I’m an adult. I can take care of myself” I replied a little rudely.
    “Sure you can,” countered my dad, “That’s why they called us
    to come and visit you in the psychiatric hospital.”
    I opened my mouth, and then shut it again. Some more
    minutes of silence.
    “You said the man was responsible for this? And you want to
    confront him again?”
    “Yes sir.”I replied.
    “What about the police?” he asked.
    “What about them? I said. “Do you want me to go to the
    station and tell them, ‘Come and arrest this man, he made me
    mad, he has evil spiritual guardians and wants to steal his only
    son’s wife destiny after paralyzing him in an accident’? No
    way sir.”
    “Don’t call me sir!” my dad said getting angry. “Are you crazy?
    Or you enjoyed the madness he dashed you so much that you
    want to experience
    it again?! And over a girl you have barely known for a year?
    “He insulted me, dad…” I said, getting angry myself.
    “That’s not you talking. That’s Chuks the stronger…”
    “I am Chuks the stronger!” I said, raising my voice.
    “You men should shout very loud o, let all the neighbors know
    our secret o!” came my mother’s voice from the kitchen.
    We kept quiet for a while. I lay back on the bed and closed my
    eyes. My dad sat still, looking at nothing in particular.
    “I forbid you to go.” My dad said.
    “Oh no you can’t sir!” I shouted getting up from the bed at
    once. My father looked up at me in surprise. I heard my
    mother sigh in exasperation and come out of the kitchen. A
    while later my sound speaker was on and blaring Anna
    Nalick’s “Breathe”, and then she was back into the kitchen. I
    tried to speak calmly.
    “Look dad, you don’t understand, I think maybe the reason I
    have this gift, this sight is because I’m supposed to help
    people, right? Well what if it’s because of her? What if the
    reason I have the sight is so I could meet this girl in this world
    and help her out? I don’t know why I feel so strongly but I
    really need to see her again. I need to know she is alright, that
    I didn’t let her down somehow. You should have seen her the
    day I told her I could see things! She believed me outright! The
    first person I have told outside of my family and she didn’t look
    at me like I was some sort of loon! She trusted e to come to
    her place and check out her fiancée and now that I know they
    have something sinister planned out for her you want me to
    just abandon her at her point of need? That’s not the son you
    raised. My conscience wouldn’t let me! She’s in trouble and
    even if I don’t get anything out of it, even if she doesn’t love
    me, I need to know I did everything in my power to help her!”
    “Chuks,” my father said
    “No wait! And as for that Mr A****, I honestly feel I can do
    better this time. Chuks the stronger taught me some things
    when we met. I feel he unleashed a lot of hidden potential in
    me. And I can feel his anger, his annoyance at being treated
    so lightly. I feel it myself. Nobody makes a fool out of chuks.
    Nobody makes an out of me! If it takes me using my bare
    hands I will make sure I strip him of whatever powers he
    posseses!
    “Chuks!” my father said standing
    “You can’t forbid me from doing anything for goodness sake! I
    am full grown adult-“
    “ Your book is on fire! ” he shouted pointing.
    I looked down at my hand. It was true; the novel I had been
    reading was smoking and smoldering. I gasped and dropped it
    and we both stamped on it until the flames died out. I looked
    at my hands. It was not burned. My father looked at my hands
    as well and then met my bewildered eyes.
    “Not a word to your mother. Not yet.”
    I nodded in agreement.
    “You really feel so strongly about this girl?” he asked.
    “Yes Dad, yes I do” I replied emphatically.
    My father shook his head sadly. “ I knew times like these
    would come. That’s why I tried to send you to a monastery
    when you were small, so you won’t have opportunity for such
    things eh?”
    I raised my eyebrows but said nothing.
    “Well, we can’t stay here to monitor you forever. If you are
    going to do anything it should be when we are around so we
    can get you out of trouble if necessary. Please don’t confront
    the man alone, go tomorrow in broad daylight and be back
    before sundown. If there is any problem call me or send me
    text or something, I’ll find a reason to come with the police.
    But if they are no longer around you’ll leave the matter to die
    naturally. You are not here to save the world.”
    “What about mum?” I asked
    “I’ll find something to tell her. That woman does like she
    doesn’t know what is going on but I tell you, nothing escapes
    her! My battle with her tomorrow is going to be as tough as
    yours so please save my life as well as your own and come
    back before sundown tomorrow, okay?”
    “Okay dad,” I said and suddenly hugged him. It was a bit
    awkward because we didn’t do that sort of thing. He grunted
    and backed out after a few seconds. It would have been more
    awkward if my mum hadn’t come in at that precise moment.
    “Akpu and Egusi with goat meat for lunch. Are you
    interested?”
    “Yes,” I said, quickly kicking the partially burnt novel under the
    bed. “Yes I am.”
    *****************

    EPISODE 16

    By eight o’ clock the next morning I had taken my bath, eaten
    breakfast and was out of the house. Dad kept mum in the
    bedroom, said he wanted to discuss something with her. As
    soon as they were in I sneaked out and boarded a taxi.
    I still hadn’t heard a word from Nina and frankly I was worried
    about her. At least she should have sent a text message to
    find out how I was doing…then again if she thought I was still
    insane she would have thought there was no point calling as I
    wouldn’t be coherent enough to answer. I urged the taxi-man
    to go faster and he replied that I should come down if I was in
    a hurry. I hissed and that was the cue for him to enter a
    sermon on safe driving. I turned away towards the window
    and mentally blocked out his voice as I watched other vehicles
    passing by. We eventually arrived at her estate 45minutes
    later. I jumped out of the car and paid the driver, who zoomed
    off immediately. I entered the estate, greeting the security
    guards in their dark blue uniforms sitting in their cubicle and
    listening to the radio. They answered politely and I walked
    inside. I checked from afar to see if there was any car outside
    but Nina’s frontage was completely empty. I approached
    cautiously and peeked in through the window. There didn’t
    appear to be anybody at home. I went round the house and
    saw that all the windows were locked and the surroundings
    quiet. It was only then it occurred to me that she would be at
    work. I had forgotten that today was a working day. She would
    probably have left early, locking up her place. This also meant
    that her fiancée’s visit had been over since Monday. I made up
    my mind and brought out my phone to call her. An
    emotionless electronic voice answered me:
    The number you have dialed is switched off. Please try again later.
    Maybe she was in a meeting, I thought. It occurred to me for
    the first time that I ought to be at work as well. It seemed a bit
    odd that nobody had called me to ask how I was doing or even
    come to visit me during my stay in the hospital. I had my share
    of friends there besides Nina and started to feel a bit hurt that
    none of them had deemed it fit to check on me. Maybe they
    were embarrassed but they would have at least come to see if
    I was being well taken care of. The fact that my strict boss
    hadn’t called even once, whether I was reported to be sane or
    not, was baffling. I decided I would go straight to the firm and
    find out what was going on.
    I left the estate and boarded another taxi to my place of work.
    On getting there I was greeting jovially by the gate-man. I
    acknowledged his greeting and was happy to note that the
    spirit of alcoholism which usually perched on his shoulder was
    nowhere to be seen. I walked inside the building and took the
    elevator to the second floor. On coming out of the elevator I
    was greeted by familiar faces in a very friendly manner, which
    I found to be quite relieving as I didn’t want anybody treating
    me awkwardly after my “incident”
    “Guy how far na, how village? Hope your parents are all right?”
    the head cleaner asked as he passed by. I was momentarily
    stunned but recovered quickly and answered in the affirmative.
    He gave me a thumbs up signal and continued down the
    corridor. I heard similar comments as I made my way to my
    boss’s office.
    “Chuks, well done o, you jus miss comot abi?”
    “happy to know things are going well, did you get my
    messages”
    “Well come back sir!”
    “Thank god say you no kill ya papa.”
    I stopped in my tracks and yanked the last speaker back by his
    shoulder. His name was Jackson. Jackson was an assistant
    manager like me and was a bit of a social misfit. He was a
    head shorter than I was; light complexioned with a round face
    that bordered on mongolism. He had the irritating habit of
    pressing his phone while talking to you that made him look like
    he was not paying attention. However I gave him a little
    respect because anytime I looked at him I literally saw him
    standing in a pool of mud. His feet always appeared made of
    iron and seemed to push him through the muddy pool but try
    as he might the pool followed him everywhere. Pachios had
    explained then that he had low self esteem issues and it was
    this low esteem that was his main driving force in life. He
    would excel in his field but would never feel happy with his
    accomplishments. It was a sad thing for me to behold so I
    always cut him some slack when dealing with him. Today
    however, I wasn’t feeling so generous.
    “What do you mean by that?” I asked, still holding on to his
    shoulder. He brushed my hand off rudely and stood as erect as
    possible.
    “Don’t get sore on me,” he said trying very hard to maintain
    eye contact, “I heard about your dad that’s all. For a moment
    there, the way you sounded, we didn’t think he was going to
    make it. I am glad to know he is doing all right.”
    “What? What are you talking about?” I demanded.
    “Is that chukwudi?” I heard my boss yell from his office. “Get
    in here!”
    I reluctantly let Jackson go. He scampered away from me,
    leaving mud trails in his wake that only my eyes could see. I
    took a deep breath then walked into my boss’s office.
    “Hey, Hey!” he shouted from behind his enormous leather
    desk. “Is this how we dress to work now?”
    I looked down at my checkered grey and black short sleeved t-
    shirt and black chinos. It was true, I hadn’t planned on coming
    to work today so I had dressed casually.
    “I’m sorry sir.” I said, “I just came to report that I was…”
    “Yes I know,” he replied, standing up. “I’m not a dunce. We
    are all happy to hear your father is doing well, although I still
    have half a mind to
    write a query for you. Next time, you’ll let us know you want to
    travel before going to a remote place where there is no
    network. I don’t care how urgent the situation is, I want to be
    given proper prior notice, understood?!”
    “Yes sir!” I said, not understanding at all.
    “Good!” he said. He took a pile of paperwork from his desk
    and tossed them towards me. “I want these completed on y
    desk tomorrow morning. No excuses!”
    I nodded and was about walking out of his office then turned
    back. “Sorry sir, who told you my father was sick?”
    He stared at me for a while as if I had gone mad and said “Are
    you alright at all? Wasn’t it you that called this office three
    days ago to say that your father was seriously ill and that you
    were already on your way to the village?”
    “I, er…” I stammered.
    “You said network would be poor there that we shouldn’t
    bother calling because it would be difficult to reach you, and
    really I tried your line severally but it kept saying not
    reachable, then you sent me a text yesterday saying your
    father was better and you were on your way back. I tried
    calling last night and again this morning but it was still saying
    not reachable! And the client has been disturbing me since
    Monday! If not that you are the only one that has information
    on our major clients deals I would have sacked you by now!
    Now get out of my office!”
    I walked out and shut the door behind me. I still couldn’t
    understand what was going on and matters were made worse
    when I got to my desk. Nina’s table was empty, completely
    cleared. I dropped the files and went back to my bosses’
    office.
    “What are you doing back here?!” he shouted.
    “Where’s Nina?”
    “Who gives a d–n where she is? She can be dead for all I
    care! I told you to finis-“
    “Mr Folake, I’m going to ask you again,” I said in a deadpan
    voice, “if you do not answer me correctly I will go back to my
    desk and tear up every file I see there, after which I will resign.
    I’m sure you’ll be very pleased to collect my resignation letter,
    seeing that I have cost you three days of work after working
    here without a single day missed for five years! Where is she? ”
    He opened his mouth angrily but nothing came out. I could
    see the greed demon on his head becoming agitated. He was
    considering what I had said and was thinking if it would
    actually be more beneficial for him to take e up on my threat.
    Finally he made a decision.
    “She resigned herself yesterday. Just came to the office and
    packed her things, saying she wouldn’t be working here
    anymore. I told her it was too sudden, that if she left now in
    the middle of the month there was no way I was going to pay
    her salary. She said that was okay, I could keep the salary. So
    I kept quiet and she left.”
    What was going on? Why would Nina leave without even trying
    to contact me, crazy or not? I turned to go.
    “Eh…chukwudi,” my boss called and I turned back.
    “Maybe you should take some time off? After doing the files
    eh? You still look a little stressed.” He sighed and relaxed back
    in his chair. “People around here think I’m an a*hole but I
    need to appear harsh to keep this firm on its feet. It doesn’t
    mean I am a bad person.”
    “Oh I know sir,” I said. “If you were a bad person, you would
    have more things than a greed demon attached to you.”
    I walked out before he could ask me what I meant.
    I went back to my desk and sat down, trying to make sense of
    it all. How did Mr A*** get access to my phone to call or send
    text? I mean, he could have done anything when I was in the
    hospital since he had access to me, but yesterday? I was at
    home throughout and my phone had been in my pocket. And
    why hadn’t any of my boss’s calls reached me? Or anybody’s
    texts for that matter? I brought out the phone again and looked
    at it. It didn’t see tampered with. On impulse I called home and
    my dad picked the call. I could hear my mum shouting in the
    background.
    “Hello, who is this?” my dad said in a weary voice.
    “Dad, it’s me chuks”
    “Chuks?” he replied in a puzzled tone. “Why are you calling
    with a strange number?”
    “Tell him to come back home!” my mum said in the
    background.
    “Tell mum I’m fine dad, I’m at the office.” I replied.
    “Something weird is going on, everybody thinks I travelled to
    see you in the village, they said
    they have been trying to contact me but that my number was
    not reachable.”
    “Really it’s not o, your mum even tried calling you after you
    were gone for like an hour. She couldn’t get across to you. I’ve
    been having it hot here since.”
    “But how?” I said, “my phone has been on since and I’m
    calling you guys now…”
    And then it hit me.
    “Sorry dad, let me call you back” I said and dropped the phone.
    I looked around the corridor and saw Jackson wading by.
    “Jackson my man,” I called out. He approached me warily.
    “Can you call my number please? I want to check something.”
    He looked at me for a while then brought out his phone and
    dialed.
    “Not reachable,” he said.
    “Okay, one moment.” I said and scrolled through my contacts
    list until I saw his name. I called and his phone rang almost
    immediately. He quickly
    picked it and said “Hello?”
    “It’s me, Chuks,” I replied, then cut the call.
    “Oh, you changed your number?”
    “No I didn’t. Thanks anyway.” I left him standing outside
    looking confused and went back to sit at my desk. I opened
    my phone, it was an android, and brought out the SIM card.
    I had bought my SIM card five years ago, and over time with
    change of phone and one or two accidents, it had acquired the
    smudges and scratches of old age.
    The SIM card I brought out of my phone however couldn’t have
    been mine. It was brand new.

    EPISODE 17

    I hate losing things. You know the feeling you get when you
    have a place where you keep your house keys and you are
    in a hurry to go to work and when you finally look for the
    keys in their normal place and you can’t find them? its much
    worse when you lose people. I had no idea where Nina was.
    Her line was not going. I had never asked where her family
    stayed and she didn’t leave a place of origin address, even
    at the office. I didn’t know whether to report her missing or
    if she had decided to leave of her own volition. My missing
    sim also aggravated matters for me. Obviously Mr A****
    had swapped the sims, probably to ensure nobody knew
    where I was, but then why alert my parents? And on more
    than one occasion someone had impersonated my voice,
    claiming to be me and stating that I was in the village. The
    person probably found put I was out of the hospital hence
    his saying that I would be returning to the office the next
    day. What was Mr a****’s plan? And where on earth was
    Nina?
    One week passed. I lost my appetite and slept poorly. My
    parents stayed until they felt I had recovered sufficiently
    then my father, at my mum’s insistence, advised me to
    “forget about this girl called Nina.” What proof did I have
    that she was not enjoying herself somewhere with her
    fiancee? Perhaps she had already agreed to the pact he had
    been pressing on her, perhaps she was already part of the
    family. Certainly she was not worth risking one’s life over if
    she could not even come to visit when I was down. Or at
    least she would have sent a text message or called before
    leaving town. It was obvious she didn’t care about me the
    way I did for her…
    My dad kept on presenting points with my mum supporting
    him in the background. Finally I agreed to let sleeping dogs
    lie, even if it was just to get them off my back. My parents
    reluctantly left me after staying another 5 days and I was
    finally alone. And defeated. Nowhere to start looking from. I
    called the doctor and asked if anyone had coming looking
    for me after I was discharged and he said no, but would let
    me know of someone did.
    Mentally I was fatigued. My. Spirit was worried and I found
    myself visiting chuks the stronger more often in my sleep.
    There is nothing as calming as keeping connected with your
    inner child, for he is your first friend and confidant. In my
    case he was just below the surface in my waking hours and
    at night he walked with me in my dreams.
    “Surely she cannot be so important to you,” he said one
    night, in one of my many restless dreams . ” you barely
    know anything about her.”
    “I don’t know what to tell you,” I replied. ” you can feel how I
    feel.”
    “And I feel it strongly,” he said. “But I do not see the reason
    for it. Maybe I’m childish or maybe its because as you I feel
    betrayed that she left just like that, but honestly we can’t
    help everybody. You’ll wear us out if we do.”
    I sighed deeply and remained silent. Chuks the stronger
    smiled, “Come,” he said, “let me teach you how to make
    fire!”
    Ever since the awakening of chuks the stronger I had been
    receiving lessons on how to control the Sight, and how to
    harness my other senses as well. I knew I could hear, I
    spoke with and listened to Pachios and previous landlady
    often. And on occaaaion they could touch me, but I never
    knew I could touch back. Chuks had taught me how to see
    further into the spirit realm than I had ever done before,
    now I could see people’s past, present and future and not
    just their immediate problems. He also taught me how to
    control it so it would not be a distraction. Smell, taste and
    touch were new fields waiting to be explored. And then there
    was fire. I had mistakenly set it off when I lost my temper
    with my dad the week before. Now he showed me how to
    channel my anger and how to control it also, lest I burn
    myself in the process. I learned a lot from these dream
    lessons and was very grateful for it although it left me
    fatigued by morning.
    Two weeks had passed since I left the hospital and I was
    coming back from the local market when I hailed a taxi. I
    was about getting in when a bike man almost ran into me.
    “Hey! Watch where you are going!” I said, angrily. The bike
    man steadied his motorcycle and looked up angrily.
    “You too, you no go look where you dey go?!” He retorted.
    “This place resemble road for ya eye?!” I yelled, pointing at
    the pedestrian walkway where he had almost hit me.
    “But I no hit you na, bros abeg free me jor” he replied
    sullenly. Then his face lit up as he looked into my eyes.
    “Come, no be you be lover boy wey I dey carry him Girl
    friend for junction?” He asked excitedly.
    “Who, me?” I asked.
    “Yes na,” he replied, coming closer. “Na you been dey with
    that fine girl, I don carry am two times for your place now.
    Na wa o bros, e be like say that girl dey runs you o!”
    I had already entered the taxi when he started talking. I
    came down immediately and apologizing to the driver,
    asked him to go. He said something about woman power
    and zoomed off. I faced the bike man now, my heart beating
    the rhumba.
    “Where did you see her?’ I asked.
    “Ah ah, I don carry am like three times now from her new
    place na. The first time I see am I carry am dey ask am if she
    remember me, she say no. I come say okay, how far her
    boyfriend wey dey stay Ikeja side. She say she no get any
    boyfriend, say she jus come Lagos newly. I come laugh
    come tell am say make she no deny, shebi I dey there when
    una kiss on top my bike. Na him she form deaf and dumb,
    no talk again. na him me too say make I leave d matter face
    my business. The other two times I carry am I still greet am
    but she do as if she no know me.”
    I was so excited I could barely contain myself. The bike man
    saw the expression on my face and laughed .
    “Wetin?” He said laughing, “You no wan go where you dey go
    again?”
    “Bros a beg you fit take me reach her place?” I asked
    anxiously.
    He looked me over and smirked.
    “Na wa o, you go buy me beer first o,” he said smiling.
    I told him that not only would I buy him beer, i would fill his
    tank with fuel as well. He laughed and rubbed his hands
    together.
    “Oya enter na, make I show you the place!”

    EPISODE 18

    The bike man took me to an old estate a few kilometers away.
    He chatted endlessly on the vices and virtues of women as we
    went along, arguing for and against why I should keep Nina as
    my girlfriend. I nodded automatically and “oh-ed” and “ah-ed”
    in the right places to make him think I was interested in the
    conversation and to keep him happy. When we finally arrived
    at the place I was laughing and grinning along with him like we
    were old friends. He seemed to appreciate the time spent and
    refused the fare I handed him. We had already stopped at a
    filling station earlier to fill up his tank so I felt his generosity
    was a little late but I didn’t point this out. He collected my
    number and said if I needed anything I should let him know.
    The estate was divided into two rows of buildings, one on the
    right and one on the left. He pointed to the third building on the
    left and smiled.
    “Na that one be her house. E be like say she dey stay there
    with her ‘Uncle’ o.” He stressed the word uncle mischievously
    and grinned. I thanked him and told him I’d be in touch and he
    nodded and rode off.
    Was this really the place? It seemed so quiet. There were no
    security guards at the entrance to the estate and I presumed
    the place would be protected by vigilantes at night. Some cars
    were parked outside the apartments but they were not many
    and given that the time was around noon, I supposed it was
    because people were still at work. There was an old tarred
    road that ran down the middle of the estate and all the
    apartments were fenced, some higher than the others and
    barricaded by huge gates. I cautiously approached the house
    the bike man had pointed out, wondering how I would react if
    Nina suddenly came out of the gate but nothing like that
    happened. On getting to the gate I hesitated for a moment
    then pushed the pedestrian gate a bit. It swung open with a
    slight creak and I was able to look inside. It was a fairly large
    apartment, painted yellow on the outside with green stripes at
    the base of the building. Some sordid looking plants served as
    meager representations of a once glorious hedge. There was
    no vehicle in sight and no noise coming from inside the house.
    I paused for a moment then took a stone and flung it against
    the door. It bounced off the protective bars of the front door
    with a clang and I waited patiently, listening for the sound of a
    guard dog or someone coming to the door. Nothing. Finally I
    took a deep breath and ventured inside.
    All the while I had been outside the compound I had sensed
    nothing, but the moment I entered I was assaulted by a variety
    of sensations. The walls of the building emanated strange
    vibrations that made me feel uncomfortable. There was an old
    dead looking broom that had been lying by the corner that I
    had seen before I entered but now I saw the old, dead looking
    broom had a gold chain attached to it. The chain was pointing
    straight upwards, defying gravity and waiting for an unlucky
    person to pick up the broom and start sweeping. I avoided it
    and moved towards the door where I heard a cacophony of
    noises from above. I looked up and sure enough, those Bat-
    like creatures I had seen the day I was abducted were
    hovering just above the roof with a few perched at odd angles
    in some places. They screeched when they saw me but made
    no move to attack. I ignored them as well and went to the front
    door where a sheet of white cold flame barricaded the inside
    from unwanted intruders. This place had charms all over it. I
    was sure I would see more when I moved inside. A flicker of
    fear crossed my mind but I (chuks the stronger) stifled it. I
    honestly believed there was nothing here that I could not
    handle. With that I passed my hand through the cold white
    flame and knocked on the door.
    The sound seemed to reverberate through the whole house and
    I waited for a while for the echoes to die down. I knocked
    again and received no answer. I felt around the protector and
    saw that there was a padlock which had been put in place but
    not locked. I turned and removed the padlock, opened the
    protector and then twisted the door knob. The door swung
    open.
    This was it. Anything else I did right now would be regarded as
    breaking and entering by the law. I paused again only for a
    second before walking through the door. Normally this is
    where a thief would have stopped. The white flame would have
    prevented him from opening the door and even if he somehow
    succeeded the broom would have called to him and he would
    have had no choice but to answer that call. As soon as he got
    to the broom the gold chain would wrap around his wrist. The
    thief would have swept that compound till the owner came
    back. However I entered unharmed and instead when I turned
    back I saw that the white flame had disappeared and the gold
    chain attached to the broom now lay lifeless on the floor. I
    entered into a short and narrow corridor that led into the parlor.
    The whole house seemed empty, there were some pieces of
    furniture around but they were mostly old and outdated stuff.
    The television that rested on a stand must have been about
    twenty years old and the floor was cemented with an archaic
    rug at the centre. All in all, a shabby old place. Two windows
    provided ventilation to this room and without thinking I went
    over and opened them. At least while I was here, let small
    fresh air enter the place.
    I entered into another room, a bedroom filled with better luxury
    items unlike in the parlor. Obviously whoever lived here stayed
    in this room most of the time. The room had a singular foam
    mattress which was placed on the floor. Around it, books and
    magazines littered the place and there was a mirror with a
    small shelf for placing accessories. I left that room and went
    on to the next door which opened into the kitchen. The dirty
    pots and pans in the sink coupled with fungus growing on the
    chopping board indicated a person with poor hygienic taste.
    There were some tubers of yam and potatoes on the floor and
    a small working fridge with fruits and sachets of drinking water
    inside. The walls of the kitchen had been blackened by years
    of cooking with a kerosene stove. It gave off the feeling of a
    makeshift place for me. Whoever was staying here wasn’t
    planning on staying long.
    So far I had not encountered anything out of the ordinary since
    I stepped into the house, much to my surprise. Whatever
    paranormal activity that was in the vicinity seemed to be
    outside the house. I had just made up my mind that the house
    was totally empty and was about leaving when I heard a slight
    cough. I stiffened and held my breath. I heard it again, more
    like someone clearing their throat this time. I looked cautiously
    around the corridor to see if I had missed a door. Sure enough,
    there were three other doors at the end of the corridor. I had
    not spotted them at first because a large clothes hanger had
    been placed across the corridor, making it look like the
    corridor had ended midway. I gently placed the clothes hanger
    sideways and moved down towards the three doors. Two of
    them were obviously the toilet and bathroom; they had
    symbols indicating this on their pedestals. The third appeared
    to be a store room and it was here the coughing had emanated
    from. As I got closer I noticed a glowing light from under the
    door, coming from inside the room. The person coughed
    again. It was a dry, throaty cough, like someone in need of
    medical attention. I tried peeking through the keyhole to see
    who was there but try as I might I couldn’t get the person in
    my line of vision. I tried my best to pick out anything at all that
    could clue me in on what was happening in the room, what
    was giving off that faint light, and finally I saw it.
    Lying at the far end of the room, pulsating in its own
    effervescent light, was a single white feather. A feather so
    large it could have only come from one place. I closed my
    eyes and braced myself for a showdown. And then I pushed
    hard on the lock. It opened easily enough, it wasn’t locked
    either, and I almost fell as I rushed in.
    Sitting on a chair, looking thin and sickly was Nina. Her wings
    still shone as bright as the day I saw her but now the gold
    chain binding them was emanating a bright red fiery glow. And
    even though from what I could see it appeared to be causing
    her great pain, her features were blank, expressionless. She
    barely blinked when I rushed towards her and held her in my
    arms. Her body was cold and clammy, as if she hadn’t been
    out in the sun for a while.
    “Nina! Nina!!” what’s the matter? Say something!” I shouted
    but she remained mute. I looked around to see if she had been
    bound somehow to
    the chair but I couldn’t see any restraints. I lifted her up from
    the chair but then she made the first voluntary movement
    since I had met her in this condition. She forcefully sat back
    down again. I carried her up and she struggled away from me
    and sat down again. And then I saw what the problem was. A
    thin stringy substance like steel cobwebs was attached to her
    head and some of then ran down her head to the chair. She
    had been hypnotized. I had seen it on some other people when
    I was younger. Someone else was in control of her thoughts
    and didn’t want her to get up from that chair either till he
    returned or he gave the order for her to do something else. I
    went behind the chair and saw the intricate network of wires
    and I closed my eyes. How would I get her out of this? What
    did I have to do?
    “You can see them can’t you? Then remove them! Don’t think too
    much.” said chuks the stronger.
    I waved my hands over the steel webs and they burnt away as
    soon as they made contact with my skin. I continued until I
    had burnt away every last string. Then I carried Nina up. This
    time she remained in my arms.
    I carried her out of the store and into the other more
    comfortable room and lay her down on the bed. she appeared
    to have regained consciousness and was crying. I told her
    everything would be alright and rushed to the kitchen to get
    some water. I found a clean bowl and fetched some water into
    it from the tap. I also looked in the fridge and took a sachet of
    water for drinking and rushed back to the room with Nina in it.
    She had sat up in bed now and was looking at me bewildered. I
    gave her the water to wash her face and the sachet water to
    drink.
    She did this and soon enough was looking more relaxed. She
    held my hand as if I would suddenly bolt from the place and
    leave her alone again. I assured her that we were alone and
    that nobody was around at the moment.
    “But what happened?” she asked, “Weren’t you at the
    psychiatric hospital?”
    I explained the whole story to her, how I had been abducted by
    her father in law, how he had set me up to appear mad and
    thus my incarceration in the hospital, and how I had finally
    freed myself from his creature.
    She listened wide eyed and trembled occasionally. Obviously
    she had been through some experiences of her own and I
    asked her what she was doing here.
    “I don’t know chuks, really!” She said, still looking bewildered.
    “The last thing I remember was coming back to your
    apartment to bring your clothes for you. I got to the hospital
    and my father- in- law took the clothes and told me to wait in
    the car. I said, no I wanted to see how you were doing. The
    rest was like a dream. Like I wasn’t myself. I’ve been
    dreaming a lot lately, but the most scary is that once in a while
    it is as if I wake up and my father- in- law is there, asking me,
    almost pleading with me to do something, something that I
    can’t remember right now. And each time I refuse. Then he
    takes me to a small room, that small room we were in, and I
    sit there for hours and hours! Wait…did I quit my job, or was
    that a dream as well?
    I told her she had been hypnotized and yes she had quit her
    job but that could all be sorted out once we escaped from this
    place. Right now I felt we were in the belly of the beast, this
    was Mr A****’s hideout, where he came to do his shady deals
    while in lagos. We needed to leave here as soon as possible.
    She agreed and I stood her up from the bed.
    “One thing,” I said, “Why do you keep calling him father- in-
    law? Have you agreed to marry his son now?”
    She shuddered. “Are you crazy? After all this? Never! It’s just
    force of habit I guess. I have never been comfortable calling
    him M r A****.”
    “Okay then, just to be sure.” I said although my heart had
    missed a few beats just then
    She eyed me mischievously. “What, you wouldn’t have come
    to save me if I had agreed to marry his son?”
    “What? No!!! I mean Yes, of course I would have come to save
    you even if you…”
    She kissed me then, a sudden, full mouthed kiss that left me
    breathless. I now understood why American movies depicted
    kissing in the direst of situations. Even now, as we faced
    unknown danger, that kiss drew us away from our
    predicament and into a wondrous sphere of peace and calm.
    Stars exploded in my head, imaginary stars, not spiritual, and I
    could sense chuks the stronger savoring the kiss as well.
    When she finally let me go it took all my willpower not to drag
    her back in my arms for another one.
    “I was just teasing you, you know.” she said smiling, “I knew
    you would come to rescue me. Let’s go.” And she went ahead
    of me.
    I savored the kiss a little while longer and made to go when I
    felt a gentle tug in my mind. I held my hand to my mouth and
    pretended to be
    coughing. “What is it?” I whispered under my breath.
    This girl…that kiss…wow. This girl is something else, said chuks
    the stronger.
    “Now? Really? You want to analyze a kiss now?” I thought
    angrily.
    “The taste of her, the aroma of her breath, the softness of her skin,
    even her spirit went into that kiss.”
    I moved forward and tried to ignore chuks commentary in my
    brain. This was not the time to be behaving like a schoolboy
    having his first kiss.
    We were through the corridor and were almost out the door
    when I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching. We both
    froze at the door, hoping the car would pas but it didn’t. it
    remained purring at the front gate and then somebody came
    down and opened the gate from the outside. We ran back
    inside and watched from the windows as the car drove in. It
    parked across the front door and the driver went back to close
    the gate. We waited in anticipated breath, hoping he was
    alone, maybe he came to collect something but we were
    having no such luck. The driver went to the back of the car and
    opened the doors and out stepped Mr A*****. Nina let out a
    small scream and I closed her mouth with my hands and led
    her to the kitchen. We hid behind the kitchen door with the
    hope that when he entered and went to check on her we would
    be able to make our escape. We heard the parlor door open
    and Mr A****’s calm voice, telling the driver he could go. He
    obviously handed him something of value because the driver
    started to thank him profusely and finally we heard the car
    come to life again and drive out of the compound. Mr A***
    seemed to settle down in the parlor and for a while everything
    was silent.
    Nina’s body trembled beside mine as we stayed behind the
    kitchen door, waiting for a chance, for him to make a move.
    After about what seemed like an eternity although in reality it
    couldn’t have been more than ten minutes, we heard Mr A****
    yawn and say to himself, “I’m tired of all this.” There was a
    little more silence then he shouted.
    “Mr Chukwudi, will you please stop hiding and come out where
    I can see you!”
    Nina almost fainted. I felt her knees buckle and held her up as
    she trebled even more uncontrollably. We were still silent then
    I heard his voice again:
    “Surely you remember what I told you before about my pet
    bats, or wasn’t that what you called them? They are my
    lookouts, my sentries. I have been alerted of your visit ever
    since you entered this compound. Please come out.”
    In my mind I felt Chukwudi the stronger giggle. “That’s more
    like it. Let’s have this over and done with!” Then he became
    quiet again. I stood up and decided I might as well come out,
    but Nina could stay behind, he had no way of knowing I had
    freed her from his spell. If he did I would find out soon
    enough. I motioned for her to stay hidden and came out. Tears
    were streaming down her eyes and she looked terrified. I
    smiled at her and whispered there was nothing to worry about,
    we’d be fine and then I walked out of the kitchen into the
    corridor. As I approached I felt Chuks the stronger in my mind
    pushing, straining to say something. I stopped.
    “What is it?” I asked.
    “The girl…that kiss”
    “Honestly Chuks, now is not the time! We are about to face Mr
    A***! The one who put us in a psychiatric hospital! Goodness
    knows what
    arsenal he has at his disposal and you are here going gaga
    over a kiss!”
    “Well, yes.” Chukwudi the stronger said. I could feel him
    becoming uncomfortable, like he was about to admit
    something that was very unpalatable to him.
    “ What is it?! ” I asked out loud.
    “Good, you finally decided to show, Chukwudi.” Mr A**** said.
    “Come out, come out, I won’t hurt you”
    “Are you happy now? He has heard us!” I said angrily.
    “You were going to meet him before anyway, weren’t you?”
    Chuks said. “Relax. Besides, from what I have seen I don’t
    think he is the one you
    should be worrying about.”
    I stopped short.
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well, I’ve been trying to tell you…” he said with a jovial voice,
    “The kiss… the girl we left in the kitchen. She is stronger than
    both of you.”

    EPISODE 19

    Ah, Mr chukwudi, welcome.” Mr A* said invitingly. “Please
    have a seat.”
    I declined. As much as I would have loved to sit down to
    camouflage the shaking of my knees, I was much too wary to
    sit. I could see Mr A****’s ever present bodyguards, as clearly
    as I could see them that day although now they both wore
    sheaths on their waists. Mr A**** himself was dressed in his
    usual native attire and a cap with many feathers on his head. I
    closed the Sight a little and saw he was actually donning a
    simple grey french suit and grey trousers. Even then his spirit
    guards were visible. I could only hazard a guess that their
    spirit pressure was so much that even a lay person would have
    gotten the shivers by getting close to him. I however, due to
    my abilities, was so engulfed in their aura that I had initially
    thought them to be real people. I could feel chuks the stronger
    gearing up for a fight and the last thing he had told me about
    Nina was kept aside for now, I would dwell on it later.
    “I would rather stand, thank you.” I said calmly.
    Mr A***** studied me briefly, he gazed at my head and I knew
    he was wondering about the creature he put there.
    “Don’t look too hard, it’s gone.” I said.
    “Obviously,” he replied. “But how? Did any of those
    meddlesome pastors that come to hospital to preach pray for
    you? I have encountered some with real powers. Perhaps that
    was how you escaped.”
    “No,” I said. “I ripped it apart with my bare hands.”
    “You?” he laughed gently to himself. “You don’t have any
    power. Even now I’m talking to you I can see you trembling.”
    “One might tremble out of indignation or anger or excitement.”
    I said. “One does not always tremble from fear.”
    “We shall see,” he promised and tried looking over my
    shoulder. “Have you attempted to free Nina? What did you
    make of my hypnosis spell?
    Wonderful, eh?”
    “Yes. Interesting.” I said, noting his confident tone in thinking I
    had attempted to free her. I didn’t want to reveal anything yet,
    I wanted him to continue underestimating me. “Why did you
    do that to her? I thought you said you needed her free will.”
    He shifted uncomfortably in his seat then and I noticed the
    dust swirl around his feet. This was actually the second time, I
    had noticed it earlier when he was looking for his lunacy
    creature and had attributed it to a gust of wind. But now I was
    beginning to feel it held a far more significant meaning. Like he
    was getting ready for battle. He sighed, looking very
    despondent all of a sudden.
    “I can’t waste any more time. I need her to perform the pact
    with my son and align her destiny to my lineage. Do you know
    how rare it is to find someone of her caliber, someone with
    such a rich and powerful destiny? I tried to trace her parents;
    the real people taking care of her- that is, my cousin and his
    wife, are just her guardians. I suppose she has already told
    you this. I thought if I could find her parents, maybe I could
    suck out some of the power she inherited from them, but try
    as I might, spiritually and otherwise, I wasn’t able to find them.
    And so I stuck with their daughter, tried to get her to marry my
    son, tried to get him to exchange blood with her so she would
    fall under my authority, but that hasn’t worked either. I was
    actually coming with him to lagos this time to observe them
    and see how they were getting along, to see if there was any
    hope of consummating the relationship with the pact soon, but
    then I saw you, a visioner, lurking around her. I saw your
    flames of passion and deep love engulfing you and her, and I
    knew if I didn’t act fast she would gather enough courage to
    leave him and come to be with you. I couldn’t let that happen,
    not after making boasts in certain, er…spheres, that I was
    soon going to become more powerful than any of them! I had
    to get rid of you somehow, without drawing too much attention
    to myself. Hence the idea of driving you mad, like I have done
    to numerous
    people that have stood in my way. It has always worked
    before but then, I have never used my skills on a fellow seer
    before either. Since that didn’t work, I guess I’m going to have
    to find another way to deal with you. Then I will work some
    more on Nina. If I cannot get her destiny to be mine, I’ll do it in
    such a way that she will never shine, I will increase the fire in
    the chains I have already put around her, stifling her
    potentials! I will have her power or no one else will!
    And then he made a sudden gesture with his hand and one of
    the demon guards rushed forward, arms outstretched.
    What happened next, I cannot really explain. For a moment it
    was me, and then it wasn’t me. The next thing I knew was I
    had guard by the neck, lifted him off his feet and slammed him
    to the floor. I maintained my grip on him and then my hand
    caught fire and so did he. He screamed and writhed but I held
    firm and did not let go. and there was a fire burning in my
    chest and every fear and indignation, every anger and shame I
    had felt in the past few days in the hospital, at work, at home,
    went into that hand, and in a while the writhing stopped and all
    was quiet, the only physical acknowledgement of what had
    happened being a swirl of dust on the dirty floor.
    I looked up at Mr A**** and saw his bewilderment at what had
    happened. He looked on as his guard turned to ashes and
    disappeared. Then he looked back at me and for the first time I
    saw uncertainty in his eyes. I, on the other hand felt good, like
    I had relieved myself of some pressure or burden. I couldn’t
    feel Chuks the stronger again and slowly it dawned on me, that
    I was Chuks the stronger . I felt free, alive, volatile . And i loved it.
    “Can I ask you something?” I said, breaking the silence and
    startling Mr A**** a little. He stood up slowly from the chair
    and I watched as an
    ancient looking spear with a wooden handle and strange
    carvings formed in his right hand. I shook my head.
    “Just one question before we continue” I requested again. “It’s
    been really bugging my mind.”
    “Go ahead.” He said.
    “It’s about the hospital admission and the phone calls,” I
    replied. “You could have driven me mad, then dropped me off
    at a remote location to leave me wandering about for the rest
    of my days, but you chose to keep me in a hospital. Then my
    parents, I am assuming you were the one that alerted them
    after searching through my contacts on my phone. You called
    them to come and then you changed my SIM card. I don’t get
    that part.”
    “Simple,” he said and I saw him make a slight gesture and the
    spear increased in size and the tip slowly began to burn
    reddish gold. “I normally keep my victims admitted until I am
    sure they are properly labeled as mad, that way if they ever
    regain consciousness like you did, the drugs they will be
    placed on will keep them subdued and even if they refuse the
    drugs, the social stigma that goes with someone being
    officially certified as being crazy will stick with them forever.
    Their credibility will always be in question, and if they run
    across me anyday and dare to raise an issue, I can always
    argue that their madness is beginning again. I had a fellow like
    that who regained consciousness after some prayers by some
    overzealous Christians. He tried to confront me and I made a
    mockery of his statements in public, even offering to pay to
    have him re-incarcerated. He couldn’t take the shame and
    commited suicide soon after. As for you, however, I wanted to
    see your parents. I don’t know how or why some people will be
    gifted in having special children like you that are born with
    unique abilities while I had to toil for mine. It’s not fair. And so
    I called your parents to size them out, and see if they had any
    special powers I could benefit from. However I didn’t see
    much to impress me and so I planned on showing some
    money around, offering to take care of your finances with the
    hope that they would entrust you to my care and return to the
    village. I had plans of hypnotizing you and sending you there
    to kill them and then kill yourself on the way back. Everyone
    would weep at the tragedy of the young man who went mad
    and returned home to massacre his own parents and then kill
    himself. But then I checked on you in the hospital and found
    that you had gone, that you were better, that your file had even
    been closed as a case of misdiagnosis! I wanted to strangle
    the doctor! All the careful planning of calling your colleagues
    and getting them to believe you had travelled already had been
    punctured. So I made some adjustments and told them your
    parents who you said were sick were now better and you
    wanted to return to work. I was willing to let things go at that
    point. I felt you would be too scared to continue the issue and
    besides there was no way of you knowing that Nina was still in
    this lagos and hadn’t gone back home to marry my son.
    Imagine my surprise when my monitor Bats came to alert me
    that you were in the house! I was greatly impressed. But now I
    have to tie up loose ends. I won’t make the same mistakes
    with you again.”
    He suddenly stabbed the other demon guard with the spear
    and it roared in pain but remained where it was. I watched as it
    increased in size and took on the shape of a large gorilla
    instead of a muscular man that had been there previously. I
    had an image of Marvel’s “the hulk” and wondered if this is
    where the artist had gotten his inspiration from. Probably he
    had possessed the Sight as well…
    The Guard –now-Gorilla lunged at me. I stepped aside,
    keeping an eye on Mr A**** but he did nothing to join in the
    fight. The gorilla guard turned and rushed me again and was
    able to get a hold of my arm. I felt myself being lifted bodily off
    the ground and then I went sailing through the air to crash on
    the ancient television. It made a popping and crashing sound
    as it broke and I felt pain as shards of glass tore through my
    shirt and into my back. Mr A**** was laughing in the
    background.
    “So you just gathered some small energy and thought you
    could defeat me eh?” he chuckled. “Stand up my friend!”
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I felt good.
    I mean, it was painful, my back hurt like a b—–d and the
    front of my shirt had been torn from the hurling through the air,
    but…but…I felt good.
    I wanted this, I wanted to fight. I wanted the exhilaration to
    last and last. And so I got up, dusted myself a bit and then
    said:
    “Do you always talk so much?”
    Mr A**** was infuriated. He expected me to be cowering on
    the floor but here I was standing and then I started to
    advance.
    “I have never been much of a talker myself,” I said, “Takes the
    fun out of all the action.”
    The gorilla guard rushed at me again and I stepped back and
    stuck out my foot. It tripped clumsily and crashed to the floor
    and I went behind it and wrapped my arms around its large,
    sinewy neck, and squeezed, tighter, tighter, and it struggled
    and attempted to get up but I forced my knee down on its back
    and squeezed, shouting now, screaming, feeling salt in my
    mouth as I choked whatever animated its monstrous form out
    of it, until with a gurgling sound it finally lay still and I dropped
    its lifeless carcass on the floor.
    it lay there for a while and then it too vanished.
    I had gotten up and was standing over the creature when I
    heard a yell and footsteps. I knew Mr A**** was rushing
    towards me and I waited a bit, timing it to the last minute then
    turned as he tried to run me over with the spear. I grabbed the
    spear by its s—t and it shone brightly and Mr A**** yelled like
    he had been burned and let go, backing away slowly.
    “No…No! That is the spear of my forefathers! No one can hold
    it but me!”
    I held the spear in both hands, put it over my knee and broke
    it.
    Mr A**** shouted out in alarm and the regalia of clothes he
    had been manifesting in, disappeared.
    “I just broke a noble spear because of you,” I said, for I could
    feel the spear in my arms, its pride, its shame, its weeping.
    “You are the first person in your line to use your family gift for
    evil. You are a disgrace to yourself and your ancestors!”
    Mr A**** cringed and cowered near the old sofa. He couldn’t
    understand what had just happened. I could feel his
    manifestations slowly dispersing as he lost control of them,
    the bats overheard shrieked and started flying away, the house
    began to lose the misery it had been steeped in, and he
    suddenly began to look older in my eyes.
    “Please, please,” he said. “Spare me!”
    “You think I’m going to kill you?” I asked, disgustedly. “I’m not
    like you. I would prefer it if you saw the error of your ways and
    changed. With what I feel in this spear you were wielding, you
    would have been a source of great joy to a lot of people
    instead of allowing greed and corruption eat into your heart. It
    is not too late. You can change. Anybody can change if given
    another chance.”
    He didn’t say anything, just remained cowering in the corner.
    Nina must have heard all that was going on because she came
    out and ran to meet me. Mr A**** looked at her in shock.
    “You, you are free?” he cried, “But how now?”
    She didn’t answer but held on to me tight. “Please let’s go…”
    she said. I agreed and we started to move to the front door. I
    will admit I was distracted, I wasn’t looking at Mr A****
    anymore, he had appeared so defeated there on the floor. The
    next thing I knew Nina had flown back into his arms. It was as
    if an invisible cord had tugged at her waist and she had been
    propelled backwards. I shouted and made to go after her but
    Mr A**** did something and the gold chain that held her, that
    had been glowing belligerently, suddenly caught fire. Nina
    screamed in agony and I stopped in mid rush.
    “Good idea,” said Mr A**** grinning wickedly from ear to ear.
    “I may not have much of my powers but I still have enough to
    kill her with pain. Now step
    back!”

    EPISODE 20

    “Let her go!” I shouted. Although I kept my distance, every cell
    in my body protested in an effort to lunge forward at Mr A***’s
    throat. I watched in horror as he manipulated the chains that
    bound Nina’s wings and once again they caught fire. Nina
    screamed again and her eyelids shut tight as her face
    contorted in pain.
    ………………….
    “There are angels everywhere, Chuks. Sometimes they cross
    the veil too. They are the kind and gentle people you see on
    the road, at your office, in the market. True, we may not be
    many, but we are there and we do what we can to alleviate the
    suffering of others, even as we too gain experience and learn
    lessons that make us grow in wisdom. The veil may take away
    our memories of the spirit realm, but it does not take away the
    need to impart goodness that is always in our hearts. And no, I
    am not dead.”
    “But, he tore out your wings…how…I don’t understand.” I said.
    “You don’t need to understand everything.” She said.
    “Sometimes you just have to have faith. These powers I
    exhibited today were not meant to be used here. Even as I
    speak I can feel it leaving me. I am meant to live a normal life
    here, like any other human being, without extraordinary
    powers, without a sword, without Sight. It was this fight that
    released my spirit form. I will return now to how I was before
    and will have little or no remembrance of what I just did. It will
    be like I am awakening from a dream. I don’t want you to
    remind me of what happened just now, it won’t help and I
    won’t believe you anyway. Thank you Chuks.
    She slowly stopped glowing and soon Nina, good old normal
    Nina, was once again standing before me, looking as real and
    as beautiful as ever. I hugged her, though tentatively at first
    but then she laughed and drew me closer to her.
    “You did it! You defeated him!” she cried.
    I looked into her eyes, and truly there was no remnant of the
    entity that was there only a moment ago. I decided to take her
    advice.
    “Yes, I did.” I said, smiling.
    Holding her hand I looked back at Mr. A*** who was now
    sitting, still trembling, on the floor.
    “Let’s get out of here.” I said smiling and we made for the
    door.
    As I opened it I saw a large flock of those bat-creatures. They
    had been hanging around on the scanty hedge and on the
    rooftops. As soon as we stepped out they rose into the air,
    circled the house once and then they all flew inside through the
    open door. I heard Mr. A**** scream from inside, “No. NO!!!
    Don’t you recognize me? I am YOUR master!!! NOOO!!!” and
    then there was a scuffle as if he was struggling with them. A
    moment later he rushed out, laughing maniacally. He removed
    what was left of his French suit and started dancing. Then he
    stood up triumphantly and let out a long loud howl of laughter.
    Nina gasped in alarm. “Do something chuks!”
    “I can’t” I said, looking on in horror. “Can’t you see it?”
    Nina shook her head, No. she had completely gone back to
    being human. If she still had her vision, she would have seen
    Mr. A****, laughing triumphantly in his madness, surrounded
    by a belfry of his bat-like creatures, almost too many to count,
    and chanting in a strange tongue.

    EPISODE 21

    EPILOGUE
    Mr A**** never recovered from his madness.
    Nina was allowed to resume her duties at the firm following
    some pleading and kind recommendations.
    Nina’s parents informed Mr A****’s close relatives of his
    predicament and after some hesitation and argument they
    came one day and carried him from the psychiatric hospital
    where we had admitted him for his own safety.
    On that day I had followed Nina to the hospital to meet Mr
    A****’s son and relatives. Obi appeared to be a changed
    person after his father became insane. He was kinder, more
    courteous, and even I had to admit that he was indeed a nice
    person to be around. Previously spiteful, he now exuded a
    friendly aura that made it difficult to hate him. At the hospital
    he called Nina aside for some private discussion. She went
    with him and they spent a long time together. Well, for me it
    was long, in reality it was about 30minutes. When they came
    back they were both smiling at each other and Nina stopped
    for a moment from pushing his wheelchair and held his hands
    and as I saw the look they exchanged my heart sank. She said
    something to him then walked over to where I was sitting.
    ‘Hi.’ She said.
    ‘We came here together remember?” I replied, forcing a grin.
    “Yeah I know.” She said, and sat down beside me.
    We were silent for a while in the waiting area and watched as
    obi and his people moved around, settling the bill and signing
    all the required documents. The silence grew longer and more
    awkward. Finally she said:
    “Chuks, there is something I want to tell you…”
    “Okay.” I said and closed my eyes.
    “Obi has called off the engagement.”
    I kept my eyes closed and slowly digested what she had said.
    Obi had called off the engagement? I remained silent and she
    continued.
    “He told me that he had stopped loving me a long time ago. It
    was his father that continued to put pressure on him to involve
    me in a blood pact. He said he was coming over to tell me our
    engagement was off the day he had the accident. He knows
    his father is to blame for his predicament but says he has
    forgiven him. He asked that we end our relationahip but that
    we coukd remain friends if i wanted and said he was sorry for
    all that he and his father had put me through. He dosent knoe
    anytging about the kidnapping of course and i dont think i
    want to burden him further with it. I guess he just wants to
    move on with his life.
    “How do you feel about that?” I asked.
    She sighed and looked up. “Honestly? Relieved. I always felt I
    was the reason for him being on a wheelchair. I couldn’t
    imagine leaving him after indirectly crippling him for the rest of
    his life. But now that he has absolved me of all responsibility
    and even says he has been seeing someone else by the side, I
    guess I don’t feel guilty anymore.”
    When I remained silent and didn’t respond Nina got up
    suddenly. I didn’t need any special powers to know she was
    upset. “Well, I just thought you should know, not that I
    expected any big reaction from you or anything, abeg let me
    go and see if I can help them with anything…”
    She made to go away when I grabbed her by the hand and
    pulled her to me. She sat down on my thighs with a surprised
    gasp and I kissed her on the lips. This time, she didn’t hesitate
    and kissed me back. And we didn’t care if anybody was
    around or if they would walk in on us. When finally I released
    her, she had a wicked smile on her face.
    “Easy there sir. Remember you are still my boss. This is
    sexual harrasement.”
    “Then file a complaint,” I replied and kissed her again.
    Bullet proof. Nothing to lose. Fire away, fire away ….
    The song played loudly in the large BRT bus as I made my way
    down to jibowu. I had planned on entering the bus that came
    to the bus stop before this one but something made me wait.
    When i saw it pulling into thr bis stop, i knew i was destined to
    entrr this bus today.Even as I entered it, I saw strange spirits
    hovering over and around it, dark spirits that had no
    misgivings about taking human life. I might have avoided the
    bus altogether if not for the old man that had appeared within
    their midst, pleading for me to come inside. As soon as I was
    in, I could feel her eyes on me, the bearer of the deadly orb. I
    ignored here for the meantime and took a seat in the middle
    row of the bus as it started to move again.
    I waited patiently, listening to the old man’s story of how his
    little granddaughter had disturbed their sacred ground at
    home, finding the orb in its secret place and taking it to school
    with her. It had already taken 9lives that day and had made
    the little girl witness every grisly death. When she tried to
    throw it away it had caused the soldier it hit to fire accidentally
    at a passerby, killing him instantly. The soldier himself had
    been lynched by an angry mob before help could arrive. And
    the orb had rolled peacefully back to her feet. And now the
    little girl was afraid, carrying such a heavy burden and trying to
    rum away from home, far away where she wouldn’t cause any
    more harm. I asked the old man what he wanted me to do,
    and he told me the incantation to use when I held the orb in my
    hand. The incantation would destroy the power of the orb, then
    I could dispose of it by throwing the remains into the sea.
    “Pls help me, help my granddaughter Chunks the stronger.” He
    said.
    I sighed. Nina would be expecting me home in an hour. I
    hoped this wouldn’t take much of my time. I got up and turned
    slowly, looking for her. And then I saw her, sitting alone at the
    very back seat, a frightened but pretty, slim bodied and fair girl
    of about 10years old wearing a blue t-shirt, black skirt, worn
    socks and shoes with a light blue beret covering her cropped
    hair. My heart went out to her immediately. Nobody else was
    sitting beside her and I saw the reason why. Beside her was a
    small round object and it was emitting a nasty aura, so nasty
    that its effect was being felt in the physical, causing a very
    unfriendly atmosphere around her. I walked down to her and
    sat down beside her, ignoring the alarmed look on her face.
    “Give it to me” I said.
    Tears streamed down her face as she looked at my
    outstretched hand. She seemed to hesitate and so I said
    “Don’t worry, I know what to do with it. Don’t say anything,
    just give it to me.”
    She finally gave me the orb and I smiled and wrapped it in a
    white handkerchief, muttering the incantation under my
    breath. I felt it glow and then crumble. Then I stretched my
    hand out the window of the bus and threw the contents of the
    handkerchief into the lagoon.
    She asked for my name, awestruck, and I told her. I returned
    back to my seat, noticing that the dark spirits had disappeared
    with the orb and the unnaturally tense atmosphere in the bus
    had lifted, with hitherto quiet passengers suddenly finding
    themselves laughing, enjoying the music and making
    smalltalk. As I sat down the old man appeared before me
    again, he didn’t need to say anything for me to know he was
    grateful.
    “You’re welcome” I whispered and he smiled and disappeared
    finally.
    I listened to some more music from channel O as the bus
    headed down to its destination. I looked around at the
    passengers, chattering away, arguing about the latest football
    match, laughing, browsing on the internet. Most of them would
    go through this life not knowing, not believing that there was
    something else beyond what they saw in the physical. Some
    of them however, a very priveleged few, would know, feel, see
    things that others would never experience. Whether they would
    be the better off for it, the wiser,and used what they
    experienced for the good of themselves and others around
    them or wether they would follow thr path of evil and end up
    with the the repercussions just as Mr A**** had, was
    something that even I would probably never know the answer
    to.
    ,……………. THE ……… END ……………

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