Story: The Last Survivors

    Episode 1

    Melinda was a few minutes late to an executive meeting in the company where she worked for, but she had to take a brief stop at a drug store to buy some lozenges. She drove into a large shopping mall, darted out her car and dashed into a drug store.”Please do you have any lozenges? I think I am about to have a sore throat”
    “Yes I have one”, said the store attendant. The attendant fetched a packet of tablets from the rack . Melinda grabbed it from her, tore open of the sachets in the pack and dropped two tablets into her mouth and began to lick them quickly “How much is it?” “Five hundred Naira only” replied the attendant.
    Melinda dug into her bag in seach of money, when she raised her head to offer the attendant the Five hundred Naira note in her hand, the attendant pointed to someone standing behind Melinda’s back and said “He has taken care of it”. “Who?” said Melinda as she turned to see who was standing behind her.”Holy Moses! MICHAEL! Ghost! Ghost!”
    Melinda literally leapt over the counter and ran into the room behind the store. The attendant following suit believing that the man who stood in her shop was a ghost. Michael called for Melinda to come back, assuring her that he was no ghost
     Melinda came out.
    “This has to be your ghost, right? Tell me this your ghost?”
    “I am here in flesh. If I was dead, then who is standing in front of you?” Asked Michael “Your ghost! The ghost of Michael is standing in front of me! I heard you were dead. You died in Malta.You died in a plane crash in Malta.Ehm..Angelique! Yes Angelique! She told me everything about your burial;she even snapped photos of it” Replied Melinda.
    “She told you that I was dead? But here I am in flesh and blood.I am no ghost! Okay do your test,prove yourself that I am no ghost”. Melinda grabbed as much flesh on Michael’s hand as she could and pulled hard. “Aw!” Shouted Michael;bleeding. “You are not dead”, “Now do you believe that I am not dead, Melinda?” “Okay you are not dead. But you being alive leaves a lot of questions. There is a grave somewhere which is supposedly your grave. Who is in it? Where on earth have you been all these years? Do you have a contact where I can reach you? Maybe a ghost contact. I have to dash off to a meeting”.
    Michael and Melinda exchanged phone numbers and Melinda left for work.
    As Melinda drove to work, she couldn’t stop wondering why Angelique told her that Michael was dead. Melinda picked her phone and dialed Angelique’s number. It rang severally and no one picked it. She arrived at the company and was parking her car when her phone rang. She checked it and saw it was Angelique’s number “Hello Anjo(Angelique’s nick name) guess who I saw…” The words of the voice on the other end of the line made Melinda stop cold. The masculine voice said, “Am sorry, this is not Anjo. If Anjo is the owner of this phone number calling you, then I am sorry to tell you that she is dead. She just lost her life in an Auto accident”. “No she can’t be dead! You are wrong!” Melinda shouted crying. “Hello”, said the male voice “…I am calling to inform you of her death because you are the last phone number to have dialed her phone”.
    “How did my friend died?” Asked Melinda amid heart-wrenching sobs “Her car screeched to a stop on Maya avenue and she ran out of it as though something in the car was after her. She was shouting incoherently and looking back at her car while trying to cross the road…a car ran over her”.
    Melinda began to tremble terribly.
    Melinda recovered much later in the day and went home. She then called some of her friends to inform them about Angelique’s death. By the time Melinda was calling, Angelique’s parents had already been informed and have come to identify Angelique’s body as their daughter’s.
    Melinda called Michael to inform him about Angelique’s death.
    Read " Selena's Daughter (The Prophecy) " by the same author ( Ifeoma Isabella Okeke )
    . “You won’t believe what happened after I left you. Angelique is dead! She died earlier today…” “Are you sure… Oh my God! What.. Oh God… I don’t know what to say. Are you sure she is dead for real?”
    “Believe me Michael, she is dead”.
    “How are you feeling now? I know this must be hard for you? Can I come over and be with you?”
    “No don’t worry my boyfriend is on his way here”.
    “How did it happen? I mean Angelique’s death” asked Michael. “What I was told is shocking, it sounds like something from the movies. I was told she was running away from something in her car when a car rammed into her”.
    There was silence on the other side of the phone conversation. “Michael are you there?” There was still silence. “Hello Michael are you there?”
    Then came a heart-stopping shriek from Michael’s own end of the conversation. “AAAH! O GOD! AAAAH! NO! AAAAAH”.
    The shout jolted Melinda so much she threw her phone on the bed and fled from her room. She was heading for her door when it creaked and began to open. Melinda stood in front of it frozen with fear and her heart pounding away like the rumbling of the sky suring rainy season…

    Episode 2

    Austin stepped into the room when Melinda saw it was her boyfriend, she threw herself at him “What is it? What is wrong with you?”. “I don’t know. I feel fear. I was on the phone with an old friend when he suddenly went silent and after a few moments, I heard I think a woman crying in desperation like she was being killed” “Where is your phone?”. “It is in my room”, replied Melind . The two of them went into the room and saw the phone on the bed ringing. Austin picked it up and gave it to her.The call was coming from Michael. “Hello Michael! What was that? Who was the woman being killed?”. “Are you sure you are okay? I was on line saying ‘hello’, but you said nothing” explained Michael “I am sure I heard a woman crying desperately. You were silent” “Are you still alone?” Asked Michael “No my boyfriend is here now”, replied Melinda and say goodbye to Michael and hung up the phone
    Melinda searched her phonebook, looking for a mumber; she found it and placed a call to another friend of hers.The phone rang momentarily and the friend picked it up “Hi Lanre!”. “What’s up Melinda?” Lanre’s voice sounded groovy and made Melinda to ask
     “I guess you haven’t heard about Angelique’s death?”. “Are you high on something Melinda? Angelique is here with me.We are at the Beach Palm Resort”, said Lanre “You are with who?What you have beside you is a ghost! Angelique died this morning on Maya Avenue! Lanre run! Run away from her!” “Are you nuts Melinda? From where I am standing now,I can see Angelique dancing with my friends”. “Go to her and put her on the phone. I want to speak with her”. “Okay, Melinda,drop the call, once I get to her we will call you”
    Melinda sat down on the sofa wondering if she had gone insane, “Why are all the dead people I know coming back to life. Baby, the guy I spoke with earlier on had been dead for six years now. At least I was told he died in a plane crash six years ago in malta. And this morning I ran into him alive and well in a drug store. Right now Lanre is calling to be at Beach Palm Resort with Angelique, who died this morning”. “How did He died?” Asked Austin “Friends told me;I got a call from one of them while I was in london and I saw pictures of his burial. It all happened six years ago”. “And now the very Angelique who showed you pictures of Michael’s burial is dead and somehow back to life according to Lanre”, said Austin as he pondered the mystery
    Melinda kept glancing her phone for Lanre’s call as he had promised earlier. When the wait seemed interminable, Melinda asked Austin to dial Lanre’s number. Austin obliged her request and called Lanre from Melinda’s phone. Lanre’s phone rang but no one picked it “Call him back! Something is wrong!” Melinda almost scared Austin out of his skin by the way she shouted. “Okay love, you don’t have to shout that way, I am dialing his number again.Can you calm your nerves please?” This time the phone didn’t ring, they got through to the answering machine which said the number was not available. At this point Melinda could not bear the suspense any longer;she sort of crashed.
    By the next day Melinda convened a meeting of all her old friends so they could figure out what was going on. Michael cited a few reasons and opted out of the meeting. When they all gathered in Melinda house, Obiorah informed Melinda that Lanre was in the hospital. The story was that he had strangely lost his memory the previous night in search of someone amongst the crowd on the beach. He kept running looking for a woman, when he was asked who he was looking for he could not supply her name. This Lanre kept doing all night until he collapsed and began to foam in the mouth. His friends at the beach rushed him to a hospital where the doctors diagnosed him to have had memory loss.
    “I know the woman Lanre was looking for”, said Melinda.
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     All her friends eyes turned and stared at her, she continued “Lanre was looking for Angelique. They were somehow together last night at the Beach Palm” Melinda’s friends thought that she had gone nuts
    “Melinda are you okay? Angelique died yesterday morning how could she be with Lanre by night?” Asked Obiorah “I spoke with Lanre when he was at the Beach last night and he said he was with Angelique. Austin can bear me witness” “Yes,I was here and I heard everything”, said Austin
    “That’s not all, friends, Michael Ighalo is in town. Somehow he is no longer dead. I met him yesterday morning”, said Melinda. Melinda’s words hit three people in her living room like bullets; Obiorah,Verah and Simon. Obiorah fell off his seat as though an invisble hand had hit him and began to gasp for breath. Verah and Simon were swallowing saliva nervously. “Verah what are you three afraid of?” Asked Melinda “Michael cannot be alive. My very eyes saw his corpse in Malta and so did Angelique, Lanre, Obiorah and Simon.You see he can’t be alive.You must have seen a ghost”, said Verah “The person I saw was in flesh and blood. Just like you saw his corpse,so have I seen him alive and have spoke with him”.

    Episode 3

    Obiorah stood to his feet and asked to be given some water; which Austin gave to him. Obiorah drank the water so greedily that everyone in the living room could hear him as he gulped down each cup he poured out for himself. It was as if everyone in he living room was waiting for him to finish. He must have read the cue, so he spoke up “Michael is dead, and there is no debating it; however, whosoever brought him back to life, also took Angelique”. “I don’t understand what you meant by that . Tell me what happened in Malta?” Queried Melinda. “Something we all never took serious happened on that Island nation six years ago. Perhaps it was what killed Michael. We can’t be sure that it was, but it is the only explanation we have for what is happening right now”, explained Obiorah, “But you haven’t told me what happened in Malta” remarked Melinda. “Melinda it was called ‘The Riches of the Grave’. It is no business of yours, just stay out of it. Let those of us who made the choice to wish for ‘The Riches of the Grave’ face the consequences”, said Simon
    Obiorah, Verah and Simon stood up to leave “Wait! Let me call him”, said Melinda and rang up Michael’s number, she made sure her phone was on loud speaker. “Hi Melinda how is the get-together going? Are you guys missing me?” Asked Michael
    They all stared at each other in disbelieve. “You shouldn’t have missed it”, said Melinda “Can you put the guys on the phone let me speak with them?” “Speak on; the phone is on loud speaker” “Hi guys, it feels like forever! Did you guys miss me?”. “Miss you? I don’t get it Michael. We buried you in your home town, Eku-Obhiosa, in Edo state six years ago, how come you are alive?” Asked Obiorah
    Verah shouted “Oh my God!” pointing at Obiorah. A bloody fluid, with silvery mix was coming out of Obiorah’s nose.
    Obiorah tried to wipe out whatever it was with his hand; but it seemed his effort unlocked a tap in his nostrils and the odd fluid began to flow out much more. In that moment, Obiorah slumped into an arm chair next to him gasping for breath. Austin and Simon picked up Obiorah and moved him into Simon’s car parked outside and drove him off to a hospital.
    The next day, Melinda and her friend huddled up in a restaurant, talking in hushed voices as they tried very hard to figure out what was happening to them. While they explored every possible explanation put forward as to why they were dying in strange manners
    Verah suddenly flung away her phone in her hand, swinging her head insanely and violently pulling at her hair. Her voice rent the air as she ran into the streets screaming. “AAAH! AAAH!”
    Simon went after her and swiftly wrestled her to the ground.
    In a moment of time passers-by gathered around Simon and Verah “Austin! Melinda! Someone help me! She is becoming too strong for me!”
    On-lookers didn’t need any other invitation. They lent their help and pin Verah on the ground.
    Trust Nigerians, they always want to help; “Remove her shoes!” “No! Give her salt!” “No! She will run into the market! Give her red oil!” “Water! Water! Pour water on her!” A fat woman came out with a bucket of water and emptied it on Verah and the young men holding her to the ground. “Make way! Baba Oloye is here! He will cure her!”
    At this point Melinda, kicked into action. “No! No! We don’t need native doctors to help her! Can anybody pray for her?” A sudden hush swept through the crowd. A few people in the slient crowd stared at her angrily. “Please someone pray for my friend”, said Melinda amid tears. “Madam if you no want make your friend die, allow Baba Oloye cure am”, said a man in the crowd. “No! I will pray for your friend madam”, said a man in the crowd. Every one turned to see a lanky, haggard looking young man, clutching a gigantic bible in his right hand, he made his way to Verah, Melinda was confused; she couldn’t tell who needed prayer more, whether the young man or Verah. The young man stooped close to Verah’s head and commanded in a low voice. “Thus foul spirit of insanity I adjure you by the name of Jesus, the Holy One come out of this woman and enter her no more!” in that very intance, Verah raised her head and spewed thick, slimy, mucus into his face and the crowd broke into a scornful laughter at the young man.
    Melinda stood looking nonplussed and wishing she had allowed Baba Oloye to cure her friend. “Okay Baba I am sorry. Please help my friend”. “Can you see the problem with little children,you don’t know anything and yet you carry yourselves about with choking arrogance; I would have helped your friend since but you wouldn’t let me. Shebi dey pray for am?Wetin kon happen..?” While Baba Oloye spoke, Verah cried “Get off me! You are breaking my hand! Simon what is it?” The crowd turned their attention to the woman on the ground. Simon and the volunteers got off her as she stood to her feet.
    Stealltily Baba Oloye took a walk and disappeared into the crowd. Melinda went over to the young man and tendered her apology for losing her faith in God. They exchanged numbers and he left Verah and her friends got in their cars and left the scene.
    At Melinda’s house, they reconvened. “Lanre has completely lost his mind. Obiorah and Angelique are dead and Verah momentarily lost her mind. Can any of you please tell me what happened in Malta six years ago? What is ‘The Riches of the Grave’ which Obiorah mentioned before he died?” Asked Melinda. “Melinda you were in London then. The rest of us where in Malta holidaying. One day we all except Michael went to the beach to relax. It all began when Angelique ran into an Iranian astrologer and palm reader on the beach. The Iranian astrologer was able to convince Angelique that he had the power to make her become weathier by transferring people’s stars and destinies to her for just fiffy dollars. The only rule was that Angelique must wish for the destiny of the person close to her. Angelique was eager to try it out and paid the man fifty dollars. The Iranian astrologer performed a simple ritual”, explained Verah.
    “Her wish was to have Michael’s destiny. After the ritual she called all of us to try it out. We all did then paid the man fifty dollars each and somehow everyone one of us wished to have Michael’s destiny. He was the star among us, the Richest and the most successful. It was after the rituals that we learnt it was called ‘The Riches of the Grave”. “And what does that mean?” Asked Melinda. “It means that the person whose destiny you have wished for will die to release his or her destiny to you”, explained Simon. “Oh God why didn’t the man undo the rituals after you all learnt the truth?” Asked Melinda. “We tried all we could but he said there was now way to undo it”, replied Verah. “Three hours after the rituals, Michael’s plane to London crashed and Michael was the only person who died”, said simon. “We killed him! We deserve what is happening to us now! Since that day, I have watched everyone one of us prosper tremendously. It is as if a force, a being, has since that day been throwing good stuffs at me and everyone of us”, said Verah.
    Melinda’s phone rang and startled her. It was Michael. “It is Michael”
    She put the phone on loud speaker and they all listened. “Melinda, are Verah & Simon there with you?” “Yes they are here”, replied Melinda “Can I speak with them?” “Go on they can hear you”, replied Melinda “Okay friends I know you must be wondering how Is it that I am alive. Now here is the truth, all of you were decieved that day on that beach in Malta. You were not told the whole truth about ‘The Riches of the Grave’ I am aware you know the part where you wish for a certain person’s destiny blah blah. There is also the part where the dead gets to make a wish before he/she dies. I was napping on that plane to London. I felt a strong urge to sleep. In my short trance, a being visited me and told me I was going to die. He asked me to make a wish before my death. I made my wish and my wish was to come back someday and take every one of you back to my grave. I have taken Angelique, Obiorah and Lanre; soon you will hear of his death. Only the two of you, Verah and Simon are left. Right now I have three hours left to return to my grave. I want the two of you to know that I am coming for you”. They heard the call being dropped and the line went dead.
    The Riches of the Grave was an ancient persian ritual which originated in northern persia that involves with dark magic.Their lord was Ahura.They could shift, delay and transfer destinies as they so wished. It was a follower of this dark magic Verah and the rest all ran into in Malta.
    “Oh God! What shall we do? I am a dead man walking”, exclaimed Simon. “Michael has to understand that none of us would have gone ahead with the ritual if we had known how evil it was. I don’t want to died now”. Cried Verah “Wait! Could it have been death that came for you Verah at the restaurant today?” “Why did you ask Melinda?” Austin queried.
     “If it was death from Michael, that means we have already beaten him once today! All we have to do is go back to the young man who prayed for Verah and all of this will be over”, said Melinda with excitement. Simon jacked his head up and asked. “Do you have the guy’s number?” “He gave me his number; I save it as STRONG PASTOR”, replied Melinda. Melinda began to search through her phonebook to find the guys number; for no clear reason she could not find the name in her phone book and told them so.
    “What do we do next?” Asked Simon “Lets go back to that restaurant and look for the pastor. There must be someone there who knows him”, announced Austin. They all ran out and got into Austin’s car and drove off to the restaurant. Surprisingly none of the people knew the young man. “Can’t we find another person to pray for them? We are running out of time?” said Austin “Who do you suggest we go to right now?” Asked Melinda “Anybody who can pray”. They all went outside and stood by the sidewalk. “I am feeling giddy!” Shouted Verah
    “I feel Michael is here! I feel him!” shouted Simon. Suddenly Verah shouted.

    Episode 4

    With that shout, Verah began to stretch as if the life in her was fading away. Passer-by began to rush to the scene. This time Austin was the one who asked for prayers “Please can anyone pray for my friend or at least take us to someone who can?”
    “There is a church down the end of this street, let us take them there!” shouted someone in the crowd. They lifted Verah and bore her hastily down to the church . Even simon lent his hands to carry Verah to the church. He had in the heat of that moment forgotton that he too was a target.
    When they got to the entrance of the church, Simon slumped to the ground writhing in a horrifying fashion. The gate man quickly opened the gate for them. A man dressed in all white attire stooped to pick up Simon. When the man in all white attire raised his head, Melinda shouted and took off running. Some young men in the crowd ran after her to seize her and bring her in to the church. “What is it Melinda?” Asked Austin. When the head pastor saw two fully grown adults in the throes of death, lying on the floor, he understood they were under an attack, he broke into prayers and the church leaders joined him. Outside the church premises, Austin had figured out who the man in White attire was. The man in white did not go into the church premises..

    It was Michael. He had come to keep his promise to Simon and Verah. Austin convinced the young men who had grabbed Melinda to let go of her and led her into the church premises. Melinda could not remember the last time she prayed, but she was ready to pray down a storm to save her friends. Austin went down on his knees, ignoring Melinda who had somehow suddenly transformed herself into a prayer warrior and mumbled. “God I have never known you or prayed to you all my life, but if you are really up there save my friends, and if you can’t, take me in their place”.
    A hand rested on his shoulder and a voice said. “God doesn’t have to take you to save your friends. He has already taken someone for that purpose. Austin’s eyes widened in shock; he was praying under his breath. The voice which spoke to him was the young man who prayed for Verah earlier in the day. “How did you hear my words?” Asked Austin. “Take that for a sign that God is real and he cares”, said the young man as he walked away. Melinda didn’t see the young man come into the church premises, her eyes were tightly shut as she invoked all sorts of sipiritual weapons to distory the demonic power behind Michael’s mission. The young man went over to the man who was probably his senior pastor and whispered a few words into his ears. The senior pastor called the prayer to a stop and the young man was allowed the stage to pray for Simon and Verah “Dear heavenly father, I come to you….”
    The young man went into a longwinded prayer. When he was done with praying the look on Simon and Verah didn’t seem like God had heard the prayers said. Everyone present waited to see the miraculous happen. The senior pastor turned his look at the young man, wondering why the two adults on the ground had not woken up. The young man didn’t flinch a bit, he was confident his God would prevail in that occasion. He asked some young men to bear the bodies of Simon and Verah, into the church auditorium.
    Just when they bent down to carry them a voice was heard. “That won’t be necessary. They are mine now. I am here for their souls”. The pastors and the crowd turned to see who that might be, and it was Michael. Michael walked boldly over to the bodies of Verah and simon and stooped to leave something on their bodies. But the young prayer warrior resisted him and asked “And who made you a soul collector?”
    “Young preacher stay out of this”, replied Michael.
    “He is responsible for what happened to my friends! The man standing before you is a dead man!” shouted Melinda. The crowd roared in fear and some amongst them ran out of the church compound. The young man charged at Michael and commanded him to leave in the name of Jesus.
    The crowd could tell that some form of spiritual contest was about to take place. However, much to the disappointment of the crowd Michael turned and walked away at the command of the young preacher.
    Much later in the night, Simon and Verah woke up amid a hot prayer session in the church house.
    Four months after the recovery of Simon and Verah, Melinda got an sms which read “Melinda, you should never have meddled with my business. From Michael”. When Austin read the message, he wondered to himself. Are you sure this Michael was ever dead? What if he has all along been working with the Iranian witch doctor? What if all this was a ploy to kill his friends for a hidden purpose in a manner the police won’t ever suspect him? Who could suspect a dead man for killing his friends what if he was the one offering sacrifices with his friends for ‘The Riches of the Grave?. “Babe you know what, let us pay someone to dig up Michael’s grave, maybe he is not the one in that grave”, said Austin to a bewildered Melina.
    “I want it done professionally. Bring samples and take pictures of whatever you find in that grave”, said Austin “I have dug up many troublesome dead people from their graves. We will dig him up and get you the things you have asked for”, assured Osoba. “Be cautious with this one. On one knows what you might find down there”, “Okay Mr Austin. I have to take my leave now”. Osoba and his friend got in their car and left.
    About 11:00 pm, Osoba and his two colleagues made their way into Eku-Obhiosa, in Edo state. Michael’s home town. Some weeks earlier they had scouted the village and took pictures of Michael’s grave, so tonight they knew exactly where to go. Bravely Osoba and his two colleagues made their way to Michael’s grave, with the grave some distance away from residential buildings. It seemed to Osoba that would be their advantage. They didn’t waste time to dig; Osoba spread some potent salt around the grave which was expected to keep the dead quiet and asked his colleagues to start digging. Osoba stood a little away from them looking out for any intruder.
    Unexplainably Osoba’s colleagues stopped digging; the two of them rested their chin on the handle of their shovels, looking intensely into the grave. Osoba stepped closer and looked into the grave and there was nothing to make them stop digging, so he said to them “Guys we haven’t got the whole night let’s do this and get away from here. Please start digging”. Osoba had hardly finished his statement when one of his colleagues jerked his face up, his eyes flaming and thrust his shovel into Osoba’s face. Osoba ducked the incoming shovel but a small part of it caught a fraction of of his face tearing it open. The other colleague snarled like a dog and came after him. Osoba pulled out his hand gun and emptied two bullets into his head and he went down to the ground with a thud. He turned to shoot the other guy, but he move too fast for Osoba, he smacked his shovel into the back of Osoba’s neck and sent him crashing to the ground.
    With inhuman venom he stood over Osoba’s body and began to beat him with the shovel in his hand. The other colleague Osoba shot jolted and sat up from the ground. In a flash, Osoba could see his death coming. In assublime instincitive reaction, Osoba grabbed the shovel which the other colleague had dropped when he shot at him and plunged it into the colleague standing over him. The colleague staggered allowing Osoba time to stand to his feet. Wincing from much pain, Osoba managed to fight the both of them with the shovel he had just picked up from the ground, Osoba emptied two rounds of bullets into each of his colleagues and limped away to their car, and drove fast out of the village.
    While the horror scene was playing out in Eku-Obhiosa. Melinda was having a hard time trying to sleep. So she decided to chat with Austin. While they chatted and cracked up each other, Melinda felt she heard a noise in the kitchen. She asked Austin to excuse her for a moment and went to check out what it was. When she stepped into her kitchen, the gas cooker was on. She was sure she turned it off after cooking. Fearing there might be someone else in her apartment, she grabbed her kitchen knife to defend herself and went towards the gas cooker. At this point, her heart was racing very fast and she wished she had her phone on her to call Austin. She thought to turn off the gas and run into the street to call neighbours for help.
    As soon as her tender fingers touched the knob of the gas cooker, something unusual happened; a gaint human like shadow grabbed her by her hair and began to drag her across the kitchen floor. When the shadow got to the kitchen wall, it went through it. It was as if it were not there. Instead of coming out at the back of Melinda’s kitchen, the shadow walked through the wall into a forest of tombs lodged deep in a valley filled with darkness. The waters around the forest of tombs shimmered in the dim light of the moon. The evil shadow left Melinda on the floor and vanished into the ill-omened darkness around the valley.
    Meanwhile Austin was begnning to worry himself to insanity.
     He couldn’t figure out the reason Melinda had taken too long to return to ther chatting. He had called her several times but she didn’t pick up. He feared and began to feel that Melinda must be in trouble. He took his car keys and drove off around 1:35 am to Melinda’s house. He had driven for about thrity minutes when he noticed that something had been following him. It floated in the air and had an appearance he was sure he hadn’t seen before. It was odd, surreal, out-of-this-world, alien and freakish. Austin could feel fear creeping over him; his whole body was becoming numb. For a moment he felt his legs had somehow detached themselves from the rest of his body. His eyes began to close on their own accord. For a moment he thought “Could this be death?” He slowed his speed and ground his car to a halt under a street light.

    Episode 5

    The strange object following Austin also showed down its speed. After fiftteen minutes of waiting with the object not moving, Austin started his car and sped off again. From his rear mirror he watched as the object took off in his direction in much the same speed as himself. Willing not to let the object catch him he stepped on the throttle and let his car fly on the lonely night road. He didn’t see it coming, his eyes were on the strange oBject; by the time he heard a deafening car horn, he took his eyes off the rear mirror and saw a trailer in front of him . The trailer was too close; there was nothing he could do. The only thing he had a fraction of time to do was to shout “Jesus!” His car went under the trailer and crumpled under its monstrous metalic weight.
    Melinda stood before the forest of tombs quaking in fear. She couldn’t tell what the place was called, but she was certain it was an abode of evil. She tried to pray, but felt a force seizing her tongue, the ground under her feet began to crack open and the forest of tombs began to vibrate violently as though the dead in them were to rise. The graves exploded, the dead in them began to crawl out, she could see their fatid hands poking out of graves. The ground opened up and Melinda sunk into it screaming “AAAH! AAAH! AAAH” It was actually not the ground that opened under her, it was a grave
     Inside the grave she could hear the bones of the dead in it creaking as if to wake from death. Melinda shouted all the more.
    Some snake-like entities in the grave stirred and awoke to life and began to coil themselves around her feet and body; the risen dead circled around the grave into which she fell and stared down at her hungrily. For a moment she thought she saw Austin amongst them and he said to her with a groaning voice. “Fight! Melinda fight! Don’t let him get you”. Strangely her phone began to ring inside the grave; she could not fathom how it found its way into the grave. In spite of herself she picked it and began to shout “Help! Please help me!” A male voice, with the feel of death said to her “Melinda you should never have meddled with my business”. Melinda recognized the voice “Please Micheal! Help me please!”
    “Wake up Melinda! Wake up!” shouted Austin as he shook Melinda vigorously. Melinda opened her eyes and was very glad Austin had arrived in time to wake her from the worst nightmare of her life. Melinda held Austin firmly, sobbing heartily. Her sobbing lasted for quite quite a while; Austin waited patiently for her to recover and narrate her nightmare and to also have her hear his own hair splitting horror encounter “Tell me baby what happened?” Asked Austin “I can’t go back to that horror. I want to forget it”, said Melinda. “It is okay if you don’t want to talk about it. I also had a nightmare last night. I have been trying to piece it together, but it is too hard to do. I woke up this morning in my car”. “In your car? How?”
    “It is hard to explain. I was chatting with you when you asked me to excuse you for a moment to check out a sound you heard in your kitchen…..” “Yes I remember that part. So what happened?” “Well Melinda, I think all that was a dream. You never said those things in reality. Both of us where asleep and having the same dream until you went into your kitchen and we got separated into different dreams”. “Was I dreaming when I heard a sound and went into my kitchen?” “Yes! You were. And I was also dreaming when I drove off around 1:35 am to your house.
    U can send hi to Lordsamuel on 0543589658 to be added to adults chat room to enjoy more stories.But on my way here I ran into something, some thing evil and form the underworld. I was running from it when my car crashed into a trailer and I died….” “You died? Oh my God! Then all these are no dreams…” “What are you saying?” “Austin I saw you amongst the dead last night. You told me to fight and not let him get me. I saw you when the dead circled the grave I fell into. Austin I get it now…” “You get what?” “You are dead and have risen from the dead. When I saw you amongst the dead you were wearing your pajamas, the very one you are wearing now!”
    Austin looked himself over as if he was becoming aware of himself “Oh my God! Austin you are dead! You are dead! AAAH!”
    “Stop it I am not dead! I can’t be! It was all a dream sent by Michael to stop us from digging up his grave!” Austin put his arms around Melinda and tried as much as he could to reassure her that he was not dead. However Melinda wasn’t sure her boyfriend was still alive. “If you are not dead, tell me, how you woke up this morning in your car? Why are you still dressed in the very clothes you died in?” Austin stood up from the bed and looked himself over once again, looking very muddled. He thought very hard about the things Melinda just said, and then said to her in a low tone. “No baby, this is not my resurrection, I am not dead, at least not yet. I must have sleep-walked into my car and dozed off inside it thinking I was driving it without knowing I was only dreaming”.

    Episode 6

    “I have known you for three years, not once have I seen you sleep walk or heard you say you did. Why then did it just start?” Austin left the bed and installed himself in one corner of Melinda’s room and began to replay the events of the night. He found a bit of detail he had missed,which immediately left the look of shock on his face “What is it?” Asked Melinda “I think I saw the wreckage of car like mine under a trailer on my way here” “Are you serious? So you are truly dead?” “Let’s go check it out”. Austin took his car key and began to run out of Melinda’s room . Melinda followed on his heels still grabbed in her nighties. Austin drove as fast as he could to get to the venue of the accident. He parked his car somewhere nearby and both of them walked to the accident scene. When they saw the car buried under the trailer, Melinda and Austin went dumb. It was exactly Austin’s car. Austin put his hands around Melinda and began to lead her away. Hot tears began to flow out of Melinda’s eyes.
    “Are you truly dead?” Asked Melinda amid her tears “Maybe I am now one of the risen dead you saw last night”,replied Austin. Just then a fat man bearing a piece of equipment walked past them
     “We haven’t seen anything like this before. There is no dead body in the car under the trailer sir,nor can we find any trace of blood. It is as if a ghost drove the car. The police have interviewed the driver. He claims that when the accident happened, he tried to help the person but saw no one”. Austin and Melinda had to trace their steps back to hear all that the fat man said with a flicker of hope in his eyes. Austin asked Melinda “Could it be I never was in this car when the accident occured?” “This has the finger prints of Michael all over it. I think he is trying to scare us. I think you are alive for real?” “Hold on Melinda remember you saw me dead in that valley you described. I think I am dead” “Stop it! It is clearly Michael at work; he doesn’t want that grave dug” said Melinda stoically.
    “Frankly I don’t feel like I am dead” “Let’s go and see STRONG PASTOR”, replied Melinda. The two of them began to walk away briskly from the scene. A policeman took notice of them “Excuse me sir! Can I have a word with you and your..?” “Fiance”, supplied Austin “Do you by any chance recognize the car buried under this trailer?” Asked the policeman “No, I don’t. I have no clue whose it is”, replied Austin “Why do I get the feeling you are lying to me?” Quized the policeman.”That is preposterous sir! Do you now analyze suspect with telepathy? He told you no and that is his answer”, said Melinda angrily at the policeman “It is past mid-day and the two of you are still in your nightclothes, do you live around here?” “No we don’t”, replied Austin “Then where is your car?” Austin painfully searched his mind for an apt answer. Melinda saw his fix and stepped in “Oh darling I forgot to tell you, I sent the driver to buy some stuffs for me. Sorry police man, our car is not here. Can we go now?”
    The policeman was not entirely convinced, but he had to let them go. He stood watching Austin and Melinda walk into a shopping mall nearby.
     Austin and Melinda had to pass their car as though it was not thiers. Melinda took Austin’s phone and dialed Verah. Verah picked the call her words threw Melinda and Austin back to square one “Hello Verah! Where are you? I need you..” “Chill babe, I am on my way to where you are and I have the clothes you asked for me”, Said Verah “What are you talking about?” “You called me about thrity minutes ago to help you pick your clothes from Mr.T and come meet you at chocolat mall”, replied Verah “Jesus! Verah thrity minutes ago I wasn’t at chocolat mall, I and Austin just got here. And believe me; I didn’t call you at any time, in over a year I haven’t patrongized Mr.T for my laudry needs” “Melinda! Are you okay! Is Michael back again?”
    “It is okay Verah, I am wating for you”
    While they pondered on Verah’s claims, Osoba called Austin “Hello Osoba! How did it go?” “Nasty! It was nasty Austin. Whatever is in that grave fountains from the soul of Lucifer himself. Two of my colleagues turned into monsters and attacked me” “Where are you now Osoba?”
    “I am on my way to Calabar; I have to see my spiritual counsellor. After I am done with him, I will go back and dig up that cursed grave” “I want it dug fast; we are having a hell of time here. Keep me posted in whatever you intend to do about the grave” “I will” “Bye Osoba”. Melinda had heard a part of the conversation and knew things didn’t go down well in Eku-obhiosa.
    Verah pulled into the car park, picked the clothes she got from Mr.T and walked into the mall. Inside Melinda looked over the clothes “How did Mr.T get these clothes?” “He didn’t tell me. Whoever called me must have told him I was coming to pick your..” “And whoever sent your clothes there must have known you used Mr.T for your laundry needs in the past” Injected Austin “Michael knew”
    “So this means Michael is after us again”

    Episode 7

    I think we should leave here. Verah here is my car key; my car is packed not so far from that scene. You have to act like it was yours when you get there. We are going to see strong pastor, you have to come with us”, said Austin and shoved his car key into Verah’s hand, took her car key from her and left the mall with Melinda.
    “Good day! Austin, Melinda and Verah, you are all welcome…” the strong pastor paused. His eyes fixed on Melinda and Austin . The two of them held their breath; afraid that the pastor was going to confirm that Austin was dead. “What are you two still doing in your night clothes at this time of the day?” They couldn’t answer him. They wanted him to say it that Austin was dead. Verah took a step backward and mouth from behind Austin & Melinda to the pastor. “I think Austin is dead”. They had brief her what had happened. The pastor read Verah lips and paused yet again. “You are all fine as far as I am concerned; you can have your seats”. The three of them took a loud sigh of relief.
    So they took their time and explained to the pastor their ordeal since last night. The pastor assured them that Austin was not by any stretch dead. However he warned that Evil was lurking around them
     The pastor said a few words of prayer for them and sent them. Melinda & Austin & Verah were happy that all that had happened to them were only a dream. Melinda pleaded with Austin to move over to her apartment until she could recover from the trauma she had gone through. Austin was very glad to oblige her. Melinda pleaded with Austin to put on hold the plan to dig Michael’s grave. Grudgingly Austin accepted to do so. The two of them decided to banish talk about Michael from all their conversations. This worked for them. Melinda offered to take Austin out the first night she had no nightmare. Her old self was beginning to blossom again.
    “Baby I had a dream last night”, she announced to Austin excitedly “And this time it wasn’t about the dead”. “What is it about?” “It was about our wedding; it took place in New York City at the Leonard’s Palazzo”. “Leonard’s Palazzo! To rent it would cost a half a state’s budget in Nigeria!” Melinda continued ignoring him “…after our wedding we had a handsome baby boy who took after my pretty looks. You should have seen him. You know what I am taking you out this evening. Pick your spot”, she announced to Austin “My ideal spot would be ehm.. Yes! Vista restaurant at Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort”, “Baby, pack your bags and get ready, by this evening we will be in Uyo. I will call Gbenga for our flight tickets”.
    By 8:00pm, Austin & Melinda were at Uyo airport; Austin had thrown in a few surprises into their kneejerk decision to dine at the up scale restaurant by making resevations for both room at the hotel and a table at the restaurant before leaving Lagos. They were met at the airport by two lovely ladies who collected their bags and took them to a hotel chauffeur driven car. On arrival at the hotel they were welcomed by a senior staff of the hotel and several other members of staff and given a glass of champagne. She and Austin were treated like royalty.
    After they had settled on, the both of them dressed up for a diner at the Vista restaurant. Melinda knew the awesome way they were welcome from the airport to the hotel had someting to do with Austin. When they got to the restaurant, a waiter ushered them to their table. Melinda was awed by the detailed and careful treatment shown to her and her man.
    Melinda was glancing through the menu when she heard a familiar voice. She raised her head, her eyes darting around the restaurant; Austin quickly took notice. “What is it baby?” “Did you hear that voice?” “Which voice?” Austin couldn’t pick out any unusual voice from among the people in the restaurant, he knew their romantic evening was over. He asked again “What voice are you talking about?”
    Just then Melinda spotted the corner of the restaurant where the voice came from. Her eyes almost popped out of their sockets, all she could do was to point at what she had seen and said “Look there”. Austin followed the direction of her hand. Austin was frozen with fear. He could not believe his eyes. The three adults stood up to their feet and began to leave the restaurant; Austin got up and tried to chase after them. Mid way across the restaurant he heard a scream. When he turned he saw Melinda on the floor convulsing terribly. He ran back to help her, waiters and customers in the restaurant rushed to her and did their best to revive her.
    Austin lead Melinda back to their room: he carefully put her down on the bed and sat next to her. His thoughts were racing very fast, he wanted to know why Melinda’s three dead friends: OBIORAH, ANGELIQUE AND LANRE chose to pay them a visit in an evening as wonderful as the one they were having. He thought “What do they want with Melinda?"
    Melinda was moving her hands frantically on the bed, trying very hard to shut out the images of her dead friends she had seen in the restuarant. She felt her right hand touch some glossy object on the bed; none of them had noticed it when they entered the room. She picked it up and looked at it. She screamed the moment she saw what was on it and flung it. Austin went after the object she threw away. While he went for the object, Melinda continued to scream. Austin picked up the object and looked at it; the object was a picture showing the faces of Angelique, Lanre, Obiorah and Melinda in their middle. Austin turned its back and on it was written “Melinda, please help your friends, dig up Michael’s grave”. Austin ran back to Melinda to show her the message. The message on the back of the photograph left a thoughtful mien on her face.
    “What do we do? Your friends want the grave dug up Melinda”, “Oh God, help me to be strong against this evil. Dear God my dead friends are depending on me, help me not to fail them..” she paused “Austin, dig up that grave! Even if we die doing it”, said Melinda resolutely. Austin picked up his phone and dialed up Osoba “Hello Osoba, I think we are now ready to dig up Michael grave” “Austin, I will be very glad to do it. I think I found out who is in that grave and who the guy called Michael really is”.
    “Who is the guy?”
    “Austin meet me in Benin by tomorrow morning. I will tell you all you need to know about Michael and the grave” “Okay Osoba, I and Melinda will catch a flight to Benin by morning”.
    “Baby, Osoba claims to have solved the riddle about Micheal and his grave”.
    With first flight Melinda & Austin touched down in Benin the next day and went straight to their rendezvous point, Osoba walked into the restaurant with two young men and came over to their table. They exchanged greetings and got down to business “We want to hear all you have discovered about Michael and his grave”, said Austin “Michael actually died in Malta. However what killed him was not ‘The Riches of the Grave’. On the contray. The Riches of the Grave brought him back to life. Michael is alive like anybody else you know, yet he had one time been dead. His death has absolutely nothing to do with Melinda’s dead friends”, Osoba emphasized Melinda cut in “What killed my friend?”
    “Michael has never been who any of you thought him to be. Michael is the current Lord of the Circle of stars. The guy you call Michael is the Lord of Circle of stars in sub-saharan Africa. Sorry to burst your bubbles, Michael killed your friends to become the current Lord of stars. The ritual which your friends performed in Malta, was Michael’s plan. The Iranian witch doctor was a member of the Circle of stars. And Michael controls the dead”. “I was dragged into a valley full of dead” interjected Melinda. “What you saw was probably the souls they have killed through the years”, explained Osoba “Hold on Osoba, did Michael kill Melinda’s friends just to rise as the Lord of stars?” “No Austin. Michael was required to that. However Michael could not become the Lord of stars without tasting death. Melinda friends were chosen and diabolically manipuleted to choose Michael’s destiny. By that ritual, all those who took part of it, gave up their souls, stars and their bodies to Michael. When he rose from the dead he became the Lord of their stars. Let me be a bit more precise, Michael is the Lord of Verah’s and Simon’s stars-destiny, if we don’t stop him now, somehow he will get to them”.
    “Jesus! Michael did all these? He is the devil himself! I could have been like one of my friends!” Exclaimed Melinda.
    U can send hi to Lordsamuel on 0543589658 to be added to adults chat room to enjoy more stories.
    . “How did he come back to life and who is in his grave?” Asked Austin. “The elders of the Circle of stars brought him back to life after his death in Malta. Like I said it was required for him to die and wake through The Riches of the Grave for him to become the Lord of the Circle of stars. And believe me when I say this, Michael attened his own burial. He was around the day a shade was lowered into the earth as Michael. Michael can do things beyond anyone’s imagination because he has the army of the dead at his disposal. Both few he has killed and the ones killed by the members over the years.They knew their bodies was trophies and used them to their biddings. The souls of the dead are there slaves” “What do you mean by a shade?”
    “A shade is a dying member of the Circle of stars, who donated his body for certain rituals to be performed on it to hold the souls of the dead whom his new master has killed, and to keep the bond between them as the Lord and slaves. This is what I mean, through a shade; a star Lord can summon the souls of those he had killed. Particularly those ones who took part in the rituals of the Riches of the Grave. By the way the Riches of the Grave means the riches of the star lord who died but has risen to command the riches of his dead ones-those he had killed or will killed through The Riches of the Grave”.

    Episode 8

    Melinda & Austin listened raptly .”You told me Angelique was seen at Beach Palm after her death, well that wasn’t Angelique, it was Michael” “We saw Angelique, Lanre and Obiorah in Uyo. They pleaded with me to dig up Micheal’s grave. Was that Michael?” Asked Melinda “No, that was a case of the dead souls looking to break free from their lord” “How then do you plan to dig up something as strong as this?” Asked Austin “Those who revealed this mystery to me in Calabar, also told me what to do”. After Osoba had said that he asked Melinda a question which startled her “Melinda, did you put on the cloth Michael sent to you?” Both Austin & Melinda couldn’t figure out how Osoba got to know about the cloth “No, I haven’t” “Thank God you didn’t . Had you worn it, your soul would have been bound to Michael’s soul. He desires to take you as his bride” Melinda was shocked when Osoba said that.
    “Is there no other way of stopping Michael?” asked Melinda “My two friends here have dug up shades on a few occasions. I don’t know for you and Austin, but we are ready to confront whatever is in that grave”
    “No Osoba, we will be there with you”, said Austin.
    Later in the night, they all drove down to Eku-Obhiosa in a Toyata bus. When they arrived at some distance near Michael’s father residence, they stopped their bus and quickly took their tools and headed for the lonely grave.
    Melinda had made a stop on the way to buy a pocket bible; as soon as they alighted from the bus, she firmly took hold of Austin with one hand and held her bible open to psalm 23 and read aloud ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me..” Osoba’s friends, Etim and Ochuma didn’t waste time to set to work. They dragged a big chain across the grave and set a small calabash atop it. The calabash slowly borrowed it way into the grave and disappeared from sight. Melinda & Austin could not believe their eyes. Etim and Ochuma began to dig from one end of the grave. Osoba stood at a distance, wielding a sharp machet; in the background Melinda continued to recite psalm 23:4-6. As the two men dug the grave ebulliently, out of blue, Simon and two young men stormed the grave site, firing gun shots into the air. Melinda & Austin scampered into the bush; while Osoba and his two friends stood their ground sizing up Simon and the two guys by his sides “I would be most glad if you stop digging up this grave and leave here immediately”, said Simon “May I ask what is your business with the grave?” Quizzed Osoba “The inhabitant doesn’t want to be disturbed and has hired me to stop you”, answered Simon.
    “Simon! Simon! Lower your gun! What in God’s world are you doing?” Austin called out as they stepped out of the bush “Protecting the grave and its inhabitant”, replied Simon impudently “Austin stay away from him, Michael has taken over his mind!” Shouted Melinda “No, he is in his right mind” countered Osoba “Is that you Melinda?” Asked Simon “Yes Simon. I don’t know what has come over you. We have found out the truth, it wasn’t The Riches of the Grave that killed our friends, it was Michael..” “Michael killed them?” Simon lowered his gun and motioned to his two guys to do same “Simon you are mislead, Michael fooled us all, The Riches of the Grave didn’t kill him; rather he killed our friends to rise as a lord in an occult organization called the Circle of stars..” “Where did you heard that name from? I saw a crest on Michael this morning bearing that name on it”.
    . Melinda pointed to Osoba and said “That guy, he has solved the Michael riddle. So why are you here?” “Verah had a nasty attack yesterday morning, so I drove off to see strong pastor. Instead of going to see the pastor, I ended up at Cream Royal. I went in and sat down, Michael came out & made me an offer guys..” Simon paused.
    “What offer?” Asked Austin, Melinda & Osoba simultaneously. “He said he would let Verah and I live if I stopped you guy” “Simon you are being conned, Michael is going to kill you as soon as he knows you have stopped us. You took part in the rituals for The Riches of the Grave right?” Asked Osoba “Yes I did” “That means that Michael will never let you live, he has become by that ritual the lord of your star” “Who is this guy Melinda?” Asked Simon “He is a specialist in dealing with the stubborn dead. Step aside and let him finish” said Melinda “What if he fails?”
    “If I was going to fail Michael wouldn’t have sent you down here. The first time I came here to dig up his grave, he sent no one to do his job. He took care of things his way and I failed. Now things are different, he knows I will succeed so he sent you” Austin explained futher “He is right Simon. Remember Michael told us some months ago that he had three hours to return to his grave, that was all a lie too”
    “This guy had better succeed, because if he fails, I will put a bullet in his head before Michael gets to me”, said Simon

    Episode 9

    Etim and Ochuma went back to digging the grave. After about fifteen minutes they stumbled on something in the grave. They had to stop digging and called Osoba to come have a look at it. All of them gathered around the grave and flashed their torch lights into it. Etim jumped back into and tried to move the pile of sand around it while he did that, Osoba shouted “Get out of there Etim!” Etim reacted quickly and tried to jump out of the grave but the object moved up and grabbed Etim by one of his ankles and pulled him back into the grave. Etim fought hard to keep off the ghostly creature . Osoba knew exactly what it was; his two friends whom he killed must have buried themselves in the grave after he left. Simon knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the risen dead in that grave would plunge its teeth into Etim’s body, so he opened fire on it. His two other guys joined him shooting at the risen dead. Their bullets could only slow it, buying Etim a fraction of time to leap out of the grave.
    When Etim came out, he was breathing heavily and it wasn’t because of fear. The risen dead had lacerated much of his skin with its nails. The wounds were doing something inhuman to him. He was beginning to snarl like a beast
     Osoba removed a powder from a pounch around his waist, and threw some of it on Etim. Etim hit the floor screaming as if Osoba had thrown a bucket of hot water on him. While they all paid attention to Etim, Osoba other dead colleague woke up in the grave. With amazing agility he leapt out of the grave and seized one of the young men who came with Simon. The guy shouted drawing attention his way, he tried to fight off the risen dead, but instead fell into the grave with him. In seconds the two risen dead in the grave tore him to shreds. To subdue them, Osoba cast some of the powder into the grave and the two risen dead grew quiet. They all sat down wondering who will go into the grave and finish off the digging. Without saying a word Osoba jumped into the grave, tied ropes on the three dead bodies and asked Ochuma and the other guys above ground to pull the ropes. They pulled up the three dead bodies up and Osoba began to dig the grave all by himself.
    After some minutes of digging Osoba got to the coffin, he asked for the ropes and Simon who had become actively involved threw them to him, Osoba tied the ropes on the corners of the wonky, creaky coffin and asked them to pull it up. Ochuma lowered a retractable ladder they brought along and Osoba climbed out of the grave. By this time Etim had recovered considerably from the asphyxiating sensation which took over his lungs.
    When they opened the coffin the shade inside had decayed considerably and a small box was found around the shade’s chest area. Osoba removed the box and cracket it open; it contained bits of undecayed human parts. “What you see here are the body parts of the risen dead who save Michael. Once we destory them Michael won’t be able to wield his powers again”. Osoba cast the powder into the coffin; he asked the other guys to bring the bodies of the other dead ones. They did, and heaped them around the coffin; Osoba covered them with the potent powder and dropped some oil which Ochuma gave to him on them and set it on fire.
    As the bodies burned, a man stood afar off and watched them. He was too far for any one of them to have seen him. Osoba set the small box on the ground, scooped a handful of the powder and then did the most unexpected thing- he prayed. As he began pray, Etim and Ochuma joined him and knelt down on the ground. The others were surprised and had to kneel and bow their heads in prayer. “I appealed to you oh Most High, unleash your power and destory this evil with which hades has afflicted the living. Let the brightness of your glory and light overwhelm the powers of tartalus from where this evil has fountained up………….”
    While Osoba prayed, the man who had been hiding began to run towards them, moving very fast and wielding a glistening sword. No one saw him coming nor heard his footsteps...
    Osoba lowered his raised arm and cast the power on the objects inside the small box and poured on it some oil which Ochuma gave him earlier. He reached out to ignite the match in his hand and they heard a thud, “Puhm!” the head of the second guy Simon came with hit the ground. The fast moving man swung his sword at Melinda aiming for her neck. Melinda ducked lamely; the match stick was already burning, Osoba dropped it on the small box. The man with the sword busted into flames and went with the wind. No one got a good look at him, he was too fast, but whoever he was they were thankful he was destoryed by the fire. Melinda was lying face down and was bleeding from the neck. The others were celebrating that the evil in Michael’s grave had been destoryed and didn’t notice Melinda. Etim looked her way wondering why she was not celebrating; he moved closer and saw blood oozing from her neck. He feared the man’s sword must have slit her throat and shouted “She is dead! The woman is dead!”
    Michael was lying on a stone altar in a persian looking temple, badly charred all over. A number of the elders of the Circle of Stars stood around him “You are dying my Lord. You have to chose a man to take your place and complete your reign. It has to be done now. We fear you will not see the sun rise tomorrow morning”, said the head of the elders of the Circle of Stars. “Summon him and let him complete my reign. He is the one I couldn’t stop; he is outside of the Circle of Stars, but I am the Lord of his star”. “Who is that my Lord” Asked the head of the elders of the Circle of Stars. “He is Simon, Simon Temile. I release his star”. Michael didn’t say another word after that; he lay on the altar breathing weakly.
    “I killed her! It is my fault! I should have put her in a hotel room.
     I killed Melinda”. “It is not your fault you did what you thought was best at that point. Stop blaming yourself! Stop it!” Shouted Osaba as he tried to calm Austin down.
    Simon was acting strangely; some very strong force was pulling his attention to some place. He ran out of the hospital reception, got into Osoba’s bus and drove off not knowing where he was headed. Something was pulling him to a destination.
    While Austin mourned bitterly, a nurse ran into the reception and announced to them “The doctors have just got a pulse on the lady; they are trying very hard now to stabilize her. She lost a lot of blood”.
    Austin hit the floor on his knees and prayed. “Thank you God for bringing Melinda back, please don’t let her slip away again. Save her please!” He cried bitterly as he said those words. When they arrived at the hospital that night, the doctors had given them the impression that Melinda’s condition was almost beyond anything they could do. After the doctors had got a pulse, Austin and the others waited and hoped that Melinda’s condition would improve. They were all focused on Melinda’s recovery and didn’t notice Simon had left the hospital driving to an unknown destination under the spell of the elders of the Circle of Stars.
    Melinda, Austin, Verah, Osoba, Ochuma, Etim with some others will have to battle with the elders of the Circle of Stars and the return of Michael in the body of an old friend of theirs…….
    The question is……
    Who amongst them will be The Last Survivors?
    Find out in the next chapter

    Episode 10

    "Mr Austin, Melinda is ready to see you now”, said a nurse “Thank God! I can’t wait to see her” The nurse led Austin to the hospital room where Melinda was being nursed. When Melinda saw Austin a lovely smile enveloped her face. “I thought I had lost you. Thank God you are back”,he sat on her hospital bed and took her left hand in his two hands and kissed the back of it “Don’t worry baby I am not going anywhere yet” Melinda smiled and asked “Tell me,did we kill that son of Lucifer,Michael?” “I believe we did. According to Osoba we did . I think from what Simon is going through now,Michael is dead” “What’s happening to Simon?” “Simon could become the next Lord of Stars. He had lost his mind and is under the care of the elders of Circle of Stars as we speak” “You can’t be serious! Austin you are wrong. How did he lose his mind?” “Osoba has been my source to all these. He claims that Michael chose Simon as his replacement before his death. I don’t understand how that is possible, Simon has never been a member of the Circle of Stars, so I am wondering how he could be made their new Lord” “We have to save our friend Austin,we have to save Simon” “Yes but you have to get well first” “I am well right now” “No you are not!”
    “How is Verah? When we were at the grave Simon said she wasn’t fine” “She is fine now. But I am afraid for her” “Why are you afraid of her? Austin you are not telling me everything” “You need to be protected! I can’t tell you everything now.
     Get well first!” Melinda began to cough gently at first, and then began to jerk. The bandage on her neck got soaked with blood. Her eyes began to flicker. Something was clearly trying to choke her. Austin panicked and began to shout “Melinda! What is it! Doctor!” A doctor and some nurses ran into the room. At first sight they could tell that Melinda was in the throes of death. “What did you do to her Mr Austin?” asked the doctor in charge of Melinda’s case. “Nothing. We were talking and suddenly she began to cough”
    “We are losing her! Get me the defibrillator!” Shouted Melinda’s doctor. A nurse handed him the defibrillator. The doctor applied the defibrillator on Melinda’s chest wall and she jolted. The doctor paused and studied her heart beat on the monitor. The doctor applied the defibrillator a second time and got a cold response from Melinda. She lay lifeless on the bed with her hand hanging loosely from the bed. The doctor turned and faced Austin “She is gone. Are you sure you did nothing to her?” “I did nothing to her Doctor! And you are wrong she isn’t dead!” Austin ran to Melinda’s bed and began to pound his hands on her cold, lifeless body,shouting “Melinda wake up! This is not how we planned it to end! You can’t leave me this way!” The doctor and the nurses allowed him to grief a bit over her body and pulled him away from her. A nurse pulled a white cloth over her body and the doctor put his hand around Austin and began to lead him out of the room. When they got to the door Melinda sat up from the bed and yelled with a shrill voice “H-e-l-p! Austin help me? He is killng me!” She slumped back on the bed and went cold. Austin, the doctor and the nurses ran back to her bed to attend to her. They had got a hang of it; whatever was happening to Melinda was spirtual. One of the nurses in the room shouted “Oh my God! This is the work of an evil spirit. I can see it. I can see a shadow standing by Melinda’s bed!” The nurse began to run out of the room. The doctor and the other nurses follow suit. Austin stood his ground and commanded “You foul spirit I command you in the name of Jesus leave this place now!” As he shouted he felt sharp claws ripping his flesh from behind his back.
     Austin went down to the ground yelling in pain. The nurse who clamed she had seen the evil shadow returned with PASTOR IDIKA. Pastor Idika,was an evangelist “In the name of Jesus I command you foul spirit of death be gone!” commanded Idika. A violent wind blew through the window,shattering the glass as it went through, in that moment Melinda sat up on the bed panting heavily. Austin dragged himself and went over to Melinda and hugged her
    “I don’t know who you two are, but I can tell you are in grave danger. You have a great battle coming your way. But on the other hand make sure you don’t leave her alone in this place by night”,said pastor Idika “Thank pastor;but we don’t know your name”,remarked Melinda “I am Pastor Idika Ojigwe. I work with the Jesus army” “My name is Austin & she is Melinda my fiancee” After pastor Idika left, Austin & Melinda began to brainstorm on how to survive their stay at the hosiptal
    While they thought, someone visited Verah where she was hiding. She was in the hutch which served as kitchen to the little appartment, when she heard noise in the room. She could have sworn she securely locked her door when she returned from buying snacks. She peeped into the room to see what it was & there he was, sitting down & smiling like in old times.

    Episode 11

    Verah was so scared she instinctively banged the kitchen door close, shut herself in and began to shout, “Holy Ghost Fire!” “Holy Ghost Fire!” Holy Ghost Fire!” She must have shouted ‘Holy Ghost Fire!’ For about fifteen minutes before she opened the kitchen door to see if he was still there. With no sigh of him in the room, Verah dashed in to pick her handbag and flee from her apartment . While she hurriedly stuffed her hand bag with few of her belongings, smoke began to emit from the kitchen which she had left. She couldn’t figure out the source of the smoke; she made to flee from the room when she got to the door, curiosity got the better of her and she thought to check it out. Quietly she tiptoed to the kitchen and opened the door. Standing in the kitchen was her dead grandmother, preparing the Quaker Oat she had abandoned in fear.
    Amazingly there was not a trace of smoke in the kitchen, Verah yelled, “Jesus!” Before she could take a step to flee from her sight, her dead grandmother spinned around like a whirlpool, transformed into a thick dark smoke and moved into Verah’s body. Verah landed on the floor with the sort of force that should have cracked her skull, but amazingly nothing happened to her.
    After some twenty minutes of lying on the floor, her eyes opened wide, looking very dark and hallow like there was no substance in them. She stood to her feet, went over to her mirror and checked her eyes before the mirror.
    She took a dark sunglass from a table and put it on, went into the kitchen and removed a knife from a drawer, stuffed it into her hand bag and left to pay Austin and Melinda a visit at the hospital.
    She didn’t use her car; she rather flagged down a taxi and told the driver where to take her. Immediately she sat in the cab, the taxi driver felt goosebumps all over him, his head felt like it had swollen and increased in size. The driver tried to drive off but for a moment felt he couldn’t see the steering. He bent down and did what an average Nigeria would do, he prayed. As soon as he began to mumble prayers to God, Verah swiftly closed her ears with her two hands and shouted at the driver “Drive!”
    As though her shout propelled him, the driver started his car and sped off. After driving for some minutes under the spell of her command, the taxi driver suddenly applied the brake and asked Verah to get off his car. Verah asked him why she should get off his car; the driver replied that he had to go pick his son from school. Verah surprised him. “The last thing you did before you picked me was to drop off your son, Samson, with your wife”.
    The taxi driver was shocked and shouted. “You are the offspring of the devil please get off my car!” Verah simply replied. “I command you to die!” As soon as she declared that, the taxi driver began to smash his head on the steering. While the driver was smashing his head on the steering, Verah stepped out of his cab, stopped another taxi and it drove her away. The driver continued to bang his head on the steering until he bled to death. A spirit had jumped on him when Verah spoke those words.
    When Verah got to the hospital and alighted from the taxi, she amiably paid the driver and asked him to keep the balance. She walked into the hospital reception and asked to see Melinda, after the receptionist was satisfied with the information she provided about herself, she asked her to sit down and wait for a nurse to take her to the ward where Melinda was. While Verah waited in the reception, she began to hear a faint voice in her head calling out, “Verah fight it! You can fight it! Verah fight it! You are no murderer!” Verah focused her attention on the voice and could tell it was Simon’s Voice. She whispered back to the voice. “I can’t help it Simon”. “You can fight it Verah! Fight it! You have been through worse……..” The voice in her head faded to nothing. Verah grabbed her head with both hands as if to keep it from imploding from the inside. Just then a nurse came out and the receptionist said. “Madam you can follow her, she will take you to your friend”.
    Verah stood to her feet and staggered terribly, the nurse had to put her hand around Verah to keep her from falling. “Madam are you okay?” asked the nurse. Verah tried to speak but could not, she just nodded to the nurse. The two of them walked to Melinda’s hospital room not saying a word to each other. When they got into the room, the nurse pushed the door open and let Verah in and walked away. Verah picked her step as she walked into the room. Melinda was alone lying on the bed. When Melinda heard the creak she turned to see who it was, she was expecting to see Austin, it had been a while since he went to buy some things in the street.
    “Hi Verah! You came to see me. That’s very nice of you. I have been wondering how you are doing”. Verah didn’t say a word to Melinda. It was very unlike her. Melinda quickly suspected something was wrong with her friend, so she sat up on her bed and asked. “Verah what is wrong with you?” By this time Verah was very close to her. Finally Verah spoke and when she did. It was as if several men were inside of her trying to speak at the same time. “Melinda run! You are dead! You dug up Micheal’s grave! Burn in hell!” Verah tited her head upward and groaned like a beast, “Hoaah!!!!” The light blubs in the room and the glass windows shattered at Verah shout. Melinda sprang from her bed and made for the door, but sadly she was too weak. Verah turned with a kind of swiftness only achievable by a supernatural being and grabbed Melinda from behind and flung her back on the bed. By this time Verah’s sunglass had fallen off and what Melinda saw in place of her eyes was a pair of dark spots swelling like the waves of the sea, Melinda knew whoever was in front of her was no longer her friend Verah; she had to fight or die. Meanwhile the hospital staff who heard Verah’s monstrous groan, came running to Melinda’s room to know what it was. Through the glass portion of the door they could see the fight going in the room but could not come in. A powerful force had held the door shut, all they could do was shout and bang on the door. When Verah turned and the hospital staff saw her eyes. They fled from the door, screaming insanely as they ran.
    Back in the room Verah was holding the kitchen knife in her hand and was thrusting it at Melinda with speed too fast for her to defend.
    The knife was slashing Melinda’s body as she did her best to defend herself. At some point Melinda was able to get under the bed and crept out behind Verah. Close to Melinda was a drip infusion stand, she held it firmly with both hands, liffted it and with all her might, crashed it into Verah’s skull. Much to Melinda’s shock, Verah didn’t move, the drip infusion stand just bounced off her as if she hit it against a wall. Verah came at Melinda again, leaving her no chioce but to use the drip infusion stand a second time. Melinda lifted the stand and plunged it into Verah’s chest and screamed “Be gone in the name of Jesus!” The force sent Verah against the wall; she came off the wall leaving it stained with blood when she hit the floor. She lay still.
    Melinda slowly sat down on the floor bleeding all over from knife wounds. The door which had been shut opened of its own accord letting in Pastor Idika and Austin who had been watching the horror from outside through the glass portion on the door.
    Austin went to Melinda and hugged her, but Melinda screamed painfully, Pastor Idika ran out of the room to call doctors, he knew Melinda need immediate treatment. When the doctors came into the room. They could not belive their eyes, the floor and the wall were stained with blood. They quickly put Melinda on a stretcher and wheeled her to the theater; she had been badly cut by Verah’s knife.

    Episode 12

    While all attention was paid to Melinda, Verah was slowly bleeding to death. It took pastor Idika to call to her condition. He was the only one bold enough to get close to Verah’s body. When he did, he saw a gash at the back of her head spurting blood. He shouted “The demon possessed lady, she is losing blood!” At first the doctors and nurse were too afraid to get close, Austin had to go and open her eye lids carefully, when he saw her eyes had turned back to normal, he put a piece of cloth on her wound to stop the bleeding and told the doctors and nurses in the room, “Her name is Verah, she is a friend of us. You won’t be able to understand what happened to her . Just help her please!” Even though Verah had lost the power which took hold of her, doctors and nurses were still afraid of her. When she was wheeled off the room for treatment, Austin had to follow the doctors and nurses to the theater; he feared they might out of fear leave her to die.
    No one saw it, when Verah lay on the floor; something had creapt out of her body and went through the wall. It was like a giant black scorpion in smoke form.
    By late evening, Verah had recovered fully from the blow she took to her head and the consequent unconsciousness. Melinda who was still in several bandages, and Austin could not wait to hear her narrate how she came to be possessed with the sort of power they saw earlier in the day.
     “I was in my little apartment at Bay Ground trying to fix myself some junk food, when I heard a noise in my room. I peeked into the room only to see Simon seating in my chair and smiling at me warmly………” “You saw Simon? How did he get in?” Asked Austin. “I don’t know. I still can’t explain it. I did the only thing that came to my mind; I shouted the Holy Ghost fire for sometime, I don’t know for how long. When I felt he must have left, I opened the kitchen door to check if he was still there. Thankfully he had gone, or so I thought. So I ran into the room to get my things and run away from the apartment. Actually I had taken some of the things I needed and was on my way out when I decided to check the smoke coming out from my kitchen. When I opened my kitchen door, guess who I saw?” Austin and Melinda sat staring at Verah speechlessly. Melinda managed to ask, “Who was in your kitchen?” “My dead grandmother! I saw her in my kitchen preparing the Quaker Oat I had abandoned in fear. The last thing I remember clearly was my grandmother turning into thick dark smoke and moving into my body. Every other thing that happened afterwards are like bits of hazy dreams to me. I remember having a minor misunderstanding with a taxi driver and telling him to die. I saw him pounding his head on his steering. I don’t know if he died. I also remember hearing Simon’s voice when I was at the reception waiting to be shown your hospital room. After I got possesed I had only one desire, to kill the both of you”. “You said you heard Simon’s voice, what did he tell you?” Asked Melinda. “He told me to fight the urge to kill the two of you”. “From now on we all are going to stick together until we find a way to fight this renewed attack against us”, said Austin. Melinda and Verah nodded in agreement. “Melinda I am sorry I did all this to you; look at your body. I can’t believe I wanted to kill you. I am sorry please forgive me”, said Verah amid sobs. “Babe I understand, you don’t need to cry about it: obviously we are at war”, responded Melinda.
    “Austin, Verah saw Simon at her apartment; does that mean he has assumed Michael’s position?”
    “I don’t know that yet, I need to speak with Osoba”. “I don’t think that Simon had accepted that position yet. Like I said, I heard him in my head telling me to fight the urge to kill the both of you. If he has become the Lord of stars, why would he tell me that? I know Simon, they will have to kill him first to get him to become one of them”. “Then there is hope. Austin we need to act fast we need to find a way to stop the mindless attacks against us and save Simon”, said Melinda “Yes, I am trying to get in touch with Osoba, the network service here is rather too poor”. Austin clutching his phone went outside hoping to get a better network coverage to place a call to Osoba.
    They didn’t see it, but above their heads was that gigantic dark scorpion in smoke form crouching on the ceiling.
    As Austin went outside, it followed him with amazing speed, just like natuaral scorpions do. While Austin walked through the passage way he kept trying to call Osoba. Eventually he got through to his phone, It was ringing and so Austin paused, waiting for Osoba to pick up, while he stood waiting for Osoba to pick the call, the gigantic dark scorpion moved exactly above his position on the ceiling; at that very moment, nurses were wheeling in a patient into the hospital, and were shouting for people to make a way for them. The scorpion let itself loose from the ceiling decending towards Austin’s head, the nurse got close and shoved Austin out of the way, the dark smoke scorpion landed on the patient instead. The patient was a woman in her mid-sixties. The nurses didn’t see the scorpion land on her and move into her body.
    Austin on his part was busy talking with Osoba over the phone, trying very hard to get him to come down to the hospital. Osoba assured him that he and some of his guys would be at the hospital that evening. Austin was glad to hear that. He wanted them to have a collective front against the attack from the elders of Circle of stars.
    About 7:00pm, Osoba and three young men arrived at the hospital. Austin took his time and filled Osoba in on all that had happened at the hospital while he was away. Osoba suggested that they leave the hospital feeling it was no longer safe for Melinda or any one of them.
    Austin thought they all should give their opinions about moving out of the hospital and the new place they would go. His reason was that Melinda and Verah were not in good conditions to leave the hospital yet. They all clustered around Melinda’s bed to discuss the issue, even Verah had to be moved into the room. While they were discussing, the ceiling fan in the room began to spin around with unnatural speed; they all paused to watch it for a while.
    No one had touched the ceiling fan regulator. One of Osoba’s colleagues went to the regulator to reduce its speed. For no explainable reason, the ceiling fan unhooked from the ceiling, decending with the same speed it was rotating. Osoba’s colleague, OLISEH, had no chance to duck; the ceiling beheaded him,, splashing his blood all around the room. The ceiling fan continued to decend, cutting into the human flesh closet to it and spraying their meat and blood all around the room. Another colleague of Osoba’s, OCHUMA, raised his hand in defense and the demonized ceiling fan sliced it off like it had no bone. Austin who had made it to the floor had to raise a metallic seat toward the direction of the ceiling fan to quench its monstrously rotating blades. When the blades hit the metallic seat, two of the blades pulled off and whizzed past their heads and burried themselves into the wall, the only remaining blade twisted upwards. Austin couldn’t hold the seat for long, the blows from the three blades of the ceiling fan sent it out of his hands. Though they were shouting not one soul in the hospital came to their aid. As the whirring sound of the rotating motor of the fan died down, Osoba and Austin sprang to their feet to attend to the others…

    Episode 13

    Osoba tore a piece of cloth off his shirt and bandaged the hand of Ochuma and led him out of the room to find doctors. Austin checked on Melinda and Verah and thankfully the two of them were fine. The other colleague of Osoba wasn’t moving as he lay on the floor; Austin touched him and called his name, “ETIM! Etim!! Etim!!!. Eventually Etim moved, but with much pain . One of the blades had carved his left thigh open. Austin bandaged it and asked him to lie still on the floor.
    Osoba ran into the room alarmed, he told Austin and the others, “A woman has gone mad in the hospital, she is slicing nurses, doctors and fellow patients with surgical blade. We have to leave now, from what I saw of her, she is definitely much more than mad, something has possesed her. This is no longer a good place to get medical treatment”. While they hurried to leave the room, the woman with the surgical blade, stood in the doorway, forcing all of them back into the room. Her eyes were like those of Verah when she was possessed. They were hollow and filled with whirling dark smoke. She smiled at them all and asked, “How was the gift I sent to you all? Oh I see one of you is dead; he didn’t like my gift. Aw! That is bad”.
    She stepped into the room and waved her hand at the door and it closed. She continued, “You see you shouldn’t have dug up Michael’s grave and you shouldn’t have killed a serving lord of stars. What you did was an abomination, it has never happened before in the Three Hundred Thousands years since the Circle of Stars has been in existence. Now you can understand why we have to make an example of you all, so that no one else would ever try it again”.
    Verah raised her voice and shouted, “I believe in the son of God Jesus Christ! In his name, I demand that you foul spirit desist in your manipulation of this woman in whose body you are and come out now!” The woman with the surgical blade began to turn her head unnaturally from left to right with amazing swiffness. The woman started to vibrate all over, dropped the surgical blade in her hand and began to slowly go down on her knees. She hit the floor on both knees and hands, breathing heavily; for no concervable reason she sprang to her feet, grabbed an iron bed next to her and raised it to crush Austin and the others. Verah whose faith had grown bolder stepped forward and demanded, “Be still you agent of darkness! In Jesus Name hold your peace!” The iron bed which the woman had raised summersaulted in her hand and knocked her flat on the floor, leaving her face soaked in blood. Melinda saw it come out of the woman, she shouted, “Jesus! Look at that! What is that thing?” Osoba was the only one who saw a part of it before it disappeared into the passage way, went after it.
    However as soon as the giant smoke-like scorpion went into the passage, it climbed the wall and hung itself on the ceiling waiting to jump on another person. The others followed behind Osoba shouting all sorts of verses of the bible and the name of Jesus. They didn’t know what Melinda saw or what Simon went after, but they were certain it was evil.
    Osoba ran as far as the reception looking for it. When the others caught up with him they asked, “What are you chasing?” “It was black like a scorpion; the only difference is that it moved like a smoke or cloud”. “I saw it come out of the woman that attacked us”, added Melinda, “I think I have understood it now. This evil creature must be what took hold of Verah when she attacked Melinda. It must have been hanging around the hospital looking for some other person to possess so it can attack us. The elders of Circle of Stars must have sent it here to kill us all”. Austin had hardly finished his statement when they saw the woman who had attacked them bearing down heavily at them, her face covered in blood and dragging a drip infusion stand behind her. The scorpion had retaken possession of her. They all ran to Osoba’s bus, where Ochuma was being attended to by a doctor and some nurses. The medical staff in the hospital had fled outside when the woman went berserk with a surgical blade. From the manner Melinda and Verah were shouting the doctors and nurses outside knew the woman was back…..
    Everyone took the easiest means and escaped from the hospital. Austin, Osoba and the others went away in Osoba’s bus. When the demon possessed woman came outside, she saw people fleeing. With its target gone, the scorpion came out of the woman and dispersed into the air like smoke. The woman whom it had possessed slumpled to the ground bleeding; she must have died there with no medical staff around to attend to her.
    At the temple of Circle of Stars, Simon is lying on a stone altar, next to him, on another altar is the burnt body of Michael. The elders of Circle of Stars are conjuring powers from Michael’s dead body into Simon’s body. At a certain stage during the ritual Michael’s dead body parted its mouth and an orange bubble-like material came out and rose in the air. One of the elders performing the ritual forced Simon’s mouth open and the orange bubble like material entered Simon’s body through his mouth. As soon as it entered Simon’s body, Simon began to vibrate like a man sitting in an eletric chair. His eyes opened wide and light rays began to shoot out of them like the rays of the sun. While Simon was thrashing about on the altar and his eyes shooting light rays, all the elders of Circle of Stars bowed down on their knees and said. “You are welcome back O Lord Michael!” Simon sat up from the altar and asked with Michael’s voice, “Why did you this? My time is gone, Simon should take my place!” The most senior of the elders of Circle of Stars, elder Okunowo, replied him “Simon refused to take your place, not even at the point of death. He left us with no choice than to transfer your spirit into his body my lord!” “Stand to your feet all of you! We have work to do. Simon is a strong man; he comes from a lineage of men who serve the Holy One. I know Simon, he will fight to retake his body; he has a strong, stubborn, violent spirit. His spirit will seek to undo my will”. “No my lord, he will do no such thing we have bottled his spirit. There it is”, responded Okunowo. Above the temple was a corked bottle of aromatic hot drink hanging by a thread. In it was a glowing cloud, its glow was brighter than day light.
    Michael, in Simon’s body, smiled. Shook his head and said, “This body is not mine, I know the owner better than any of you; he will come for his body”. “Not while he is imprisoned in that bottle”, said Okunowo defiantly, Michael cast a demeaning look at him and asked, “Have you encountered the Holy One before? Simon believes in him”. Michael in Simon’s body jumped off the altar and bellowed, “I want to be updated on all that has been happening since my abscence”.
    When Michael got to the steps of the temple on his way out, he paused and said, “Most importantly I want the heads of all the people who dug up my grave on that altar within the space of thrity six hours.
      Oh! There is an exception, bring me Melinda alive!” Michael decended the staircase, got into a car and a young man drove him off. The elders of Circle of Stars went back into the temple and poured honey on Michael’s body and massaged the honey into his body. They applied more honey on the body and after that they poured wax over it. They used layers of white cloth to wrap up the body. Then they put the body in a cone-like coffin and carried it into a dark room which they locked afterwards. The embalment was in line with the practice of an ancient persians from where their occult group Circle of Stars orginated. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Assyrians and Arabs used honey and wax for embalming their promment dead. The ancient persians and other ancient cultures kept the belief that the souls of the dead continue to live, and required food for their future maintenance after death, thinking otherwise the dead would starve.
    According to this ancient concept, the body may be destoryed and denatured over time after death but the soul would live on, and if sustained properly would have the ability to return to earth.
    Death was considered not so much the departure of the body, but the soul being freed from its earthly fetters. The soul after death was thought to be able to take flight to a future destination. Honey, symbolized death among many ancients cultures, an illusion perhaps to the sweetness that death would provide to the soul. Once Michael’s mission was completed his spirit would return to his body and the elders would give him a proper burial…

    Episode 14

    Austin and his company were still on the road wondering were to spend the night. They knew it would only be a matter of time before the scorpion would return, looking for another host to attach itself to so it can attack them. Osoba who was driving pulled up the vehicle by the roadside and asked Austin to take over. He needed to make a call, there was someone he believed could unravel the mystery of the scorpion to them and how to stop it once and for all . After his call Osoba announced to them all, “We are going to BADAGRY, we have to see a man at ANCIENT WAWU KINGDOM. He can help us with answers”. With no better idea or option about what to do, all of them acquiesced to Osoba’s ideas and they headed off to Badagry that night. Austin drove like a crazy man; it took him only one hour and thirty minutes to get to Badagry. When they arrived at Wawu Kingdom, the man they had come to see, HUNGBO SEWEDO was already waiting for them. Osoba stooped and greeted the man in Egun tongue, “Ogboni mi karo ro o!” The others stooped in respect and Hungbo Sewedo led them to his living room. The man’s face was taut, something in his eyes gave him the impression he didn’t like their visit. Melinda leaned on Austin’s shoulder and whispered, “I don’t like this man.
    . I hope he won’t sell us out”. “You are right something is wrong, the look of his face says it all. Be on your guard, stay close to me and be ready to fight”, replied Austin. Melinda and Austin were the last to step into Hungbo’s living room, before she entered the house, she cast her eyes about Hungbo’s compound for anything unusual; for a moment she thought she saw a shadow moving through the wall of Hungbo’s compound and heading towards the backyard.
    When they sat down in Hungbo’s living room, Melinda pinched Austin and whispered, “I think I saw something outside; it looked like the shadow that dragged me into the valley of the dead some weeks ago. I think we should tell the others and get out of here”. Hungbo fixed his eyes on Austin and Melinda and said, “No one is going to hurt you while you are here, but you must do your business here quickly and leave. This is one place you shouldn’t have brought them Osoba. There are more enemies here than friends. What you saw outside followed you to this place, as I speak; it rallies its like to capture you all. In a matter of hours all of you will die………..” Hungbo raised his hand and pointed at Melinda and said, “Except you!” “What would happened to her? Tell me old man!” Austin asked. “She shall be forced into an unholy matrimony with the one who is dead and yet lives now. That is what I see”. “Who do you speak of sir? Who is the one who is dead and is alive now?” asked Osoba. “The one whose grave you dug up and destoryed with fire. He has returned in the body of another. He wants blood”.
    There was silence in the room. No one could speak a word. Seeing how despondent his guest were, Hungbo tried to offer them some hope, “The shadow scorpion which you have battled all day long is called AYARI. It never returns to its abode until it has taken the soul of the one whom it was sent to kill, it is a stubborn spirit, but it can be trapped or even turned against those who unleashed it against you”. “How can we do that?” asked Austin. “You must lure it to the grave of the one who seeks your death, to the grave you dug up, but that is, if you all will survive the next few hours’. “That grave is in Eku-Obhiosa, Edo state. It is too far”, said Melinda. “Even if the grave was in Jamaica, you must go there to send the scorpion back to the sender”. Hungbo pointed at Verah and said, “You have faith, but you often doubt yourself. If you would exercise your faith in the most High, your faith would save your friends. When the shadow scorpion enters the grave, command it to return death to the sender in the name of God’s Holy Son. It will obey you! You have the faith my child”.
    “We need somewhere to sleep tonight”, said Osoba. “I can tell you are not listening to me, this place is the last place you want to be at this moment. Our land crawls with evil. The shadow your lady friend saw outside is gathering other shadows to take you all captive or worst still kill you all. You must leave tonight. The land you have come to is evil; it is a home too many demonic powers, they will be glad to feast upon your flesh. I have left the evil ways I followed years ago; I do not want to start a battle with the Circle of Stars. They revel in blood shed, they feed upon blood like you and I breathe air. You must leave my house!! I am done helping you!!!”
    His voice startled all of them and they sprang to their feet and hurried outside. As soon as they all were outside. Hungbo locked his metal door securely, not bothering to do much as wave them goodbye. As if on cue they all ran outside the compound and headed straight for Osoba’s bus. Osoba started his bus and drove out of the small Ancient Kingdom, with no clear picture in his mind as to where he was driving to. After some twenty minutes of racing on the highway, Ochuma who had been silent all along told Austin that he was in much pains. The anesthetics given to him after the ceiling fan blade chopped of his arm must have worn off; he was in need of another shot. They all told him to hang on for them to get to the next town. The next town happened to be Ijaniki, they had thought of stopping at Agbara, but it felt too eerie and over crowded, so they chose to make their stop at Ijaniki.
    Auatin and Etim were asked to find a durg store or some local hospital where they could find anesthetics. The two of them braved up and dashed into the night. Melinda was scared for Austin; she had to call him back and asked him to be careful. She kissed Austin as though that was the last time they were going to see each other. Reluctantly she let Austin go; Austin had to hasten his pace so to catch with Etim.
     While Austin was with Melinda, Etim was already asking passers-by where he could find a hospital or drug store. A woman pointed him in a direction; there was something odd about her, but Etim was in so much haste to noticed it. When Austin caught up with him, he told Austin, that a woman had told him a hospital was somewhere around. The two of them headed in the direction the woman pointed them to. There was a building full of light with a number of cars parked in front of it; they assumed it must be the hospital. They hastened down to it, chatting about their determination to live beyond the hours set for them by the Circle of Stars.
    At some point Austin felt something was wrong; the building was right in front of them and for some unknown reason they were unable to reach it. It was as though the building was moving away as they drew closer to it. “Etim stop! Something is wrong! How long have we been walking? Why can’t we reach the building right before us?” Austin turned back to see the distance they had covered and behind him was a vast thick bush.
    Matters came to a head when the same Austin and Etim lost in some bush had returned to Osoba and wanted to lead them to a hospital which they had supposedly found. When they returned no one suspected they were impersonations of Austin and Etim until Ochuma who was gritting much pain asked to be prayed for. Melinda volunteered to say the prayer for Ochuma and asked the rest to lower their heads in reverence to God. The strange Austin who was with them took offence, “What Ochuma needs is painkillers not prayers! I think we should hurry to the hospital and not waste our time on helpless prayers!

    Episode 15

    Melinda and the others were shocked by Austin’s words. Much more, Melinda picked something in Austin’s voice that made her suspect he was either on a spell or was entirely another person masquerading as Austin. Etim also lent his voice to support Austin’s view. “I think Austin is right; tell me how is prayer going to help a man in such pain? Don’t forget Ochuma’s arm was forcefully severed by a ceiling fan blade. I doubt any of you understand what he is going through . Let’s go to the hospital please!” “I don’t want to be taken to the hospital anymore. If it is suddenly wrong for me to be prayed for then I don’t want any of your painkillers”, said Ochuma while clenching his teeth in pain. Osoba was stunned and could not figure out why they were arguing over prayer. Prayer had always been their last resort whenever they were in a fire. He got angry and shouted, “Melinda pray jor! Who knows what happened to the two of you at the hospital you intend to take us to”. “You sure sey na Austin and Etim be these self”, said Verah. The two guys impersonating Austin and Etim drew closer as Melinda bent her head to pray. Ochuma kept his eyes fixed on them, he didn’t trust them.
    He had done the job of undoing the works of the dead and evil spirits that inhabit them for years. He was sure something wasn’t right about the two guys who had returned from searching for a hospital or drug store to take him to. While Melinda prayed, Austin leaned forward and grabbed Melinda by the neck and yanked her off the bus, Etim grabbed Osoba and also pulled him off the bus, leaving only one-armed Ochuma and Verah to attend their friends.
    Ochuma was expecting the two guys to do something like that, so as soon as Austin grabbed Melinda, he lunged forward with his right foot and caught Austin by his jaw. His vicious kick sent Austin to the ground; Ochuma jumped off the bus and landed on Austin’s face with his both feet and Austin exploded into a black cloud and enveloped him.
    Verah had no time to think about it, as soon as she saw her friends being dragged off the bus. She attacked Etim with her finger nails; burying them into the both sides of Etim’s neck. When her finger nails sunk into Etim’s skin, she felt a cold sensation spreading through her fingers to her arms and then to her chest. She resisted the cold sensation and pulled Etim close to her face as if to kiss him and then yelled in his face, “I bind you in the name of Jesus!!” Etim exploded into a thick dark cluster of cloud and dispersed with the wind. Ochuma was still in the midst of the dark cloud, they could hear his voice praying form within the cloud. Verah t----t her right hand into the cloud and shouted, “Satan the blood of Jesus is against you!” Her hand felt an object and she quickly pulled it out of the cloud; fortunately for them, the object was Ochuma. Right after their eyes the dark cloud smashed itself against their bus, shattering some glass and disappeared into the dark sky. Melinda and Osoba had to slowly pick themselves up from the ground. When Etim and Austin grabbed them, they felt that same cold sensation which Verah had expericenced when she sank her finger nails into Etim’s neck. The cold sensation had immobilized Osoba and Melinda and made it hard for them to fight. The two of them felt extremely cold, so much so that their teeth were clattering like they had been in the cold for hours. Verah had to put Ochuma down on the bus to keep Melinda and Osoba into the bus. Their condition looked very grim; they felt so much cold that they thought they could freeze to death at any point. Verah was shaken by what she saw of her friends, ice drops were beginning to form on their faces of Osoba and Melinda. She began to cry; she ran to a mallam selling suya nearby, her thought was to scoop some coals into the bus to warm up her friends. The mallam refused her saying, “Kai!! Madam you wan born the bus? I no give you allah!” Verah was at her wits end; she ran back to the bus still crying.
    Ochuma grabbed her with his one arm and shouted at her, “Verah pray for them! Use your faith!”
    “I have no faith now! I can’t feel my faith anymore! My faith is gone”. “You are wrong Verah! I just saw you exercise your faith! By the way, faith doesn’t come and go; you don’t have to feel it! Just pray with name of Jesus and you will get answer. Please pray for them, they are dying!”
    Already Melinda had stretched herself on the bus shaking like a rain beaten bird, Verah squeezed her shut and hollered, “You evil cold, I demand that you stop now!” she felt she didn’t say that right so she rephrased her words. “You evil cold from hell, in the name of Jesus, I command you to break over these ones now!” She opened her eyes expecting to see immediate result, but there was none; hopelessly she sunk to the ground and began to wail. While she cried Melinda starred herself and said, “Thank you Verah for the prayer, it saved me”, Verah sprang to her feet, hugged Melinda and wiped off her tears with the back of her hand. While she held Melinda, Osoba sat up on his seat with tears in his eyes and a huge smile on his face and said “Thanks Verah, my neck was on a stone altar and about to be chopped off when you began to pray. I thought I was gone! Thank you Verah. But there was more, I saw Simon in a bottle. He was trying to say something to me……” Melinda cut in, “Yes I saw him too! He was in a bottle! He said something about helping him out of the bottle and leaving the fight to him”.
    Osoba jumped off the bus and said, “We need to get back to Lagos now, we must find the God-forsaken temple of those Circle of demons (Stars) that must be where they are keeping Simon. If Simon wants the fight, let’s help him get the fight! After all he comes from those who believes in the Holy One. He is the only one who can fight the Circle of demons!”
    As Osoba headed to go and start the bus, Ochuma and Melinda asked almost simultaneously, “How about Austin and Etim? They are not yet back”. Emboldened by her faith, Verah told them “They headed in this direction, let’s go find them”. She didn’t wait for the others to say a word and ran off in the direction she had seen Etim and Austin go. Ochuma could not keep up with Melinda and Osoba as they ran to meet up with Verah. Melinda ran back to help Ochuma and told Osoba to go ahead with Verah. Melinda had hardly covered a few yards when she saw a drug store, she couldn’t help but wonder why Austin and Etim didn’t see it. She lead Ochuma into the drug store and explained to the store keeper, an elderly woman, that Ochuma had an accident earlier in the day and had not had adequate treatment. When the elderly woman saw Ochuma’s injury she shrank back and turned away her face. “This is not the sort of case you bring to a drug store. This man is going to run mad with pain. Take him to a hospital please!” said the elderly woman. “I don’t know where to find a hospital around here, please help us madam”, responded Melinda “Are you new here young lady? That behind you is a hospital! Infact come with me!” The elderly woman stepped out of her drug store and led Melinda and Ochuma to the hospital she had pointed them to. When they entered the hospital, and nurses saw a man with a blood stained severed arm, them call for a strecher, As soon as the strecher arrived they asked Ochuma to get on it.
    As they wheeled him into the hospital for treatment, Melinda heard some nurses asking the elderly woman, “Doc where is the severed part of his arm?” The elderly woman turned and asked Melinda. “Do you have the part of his arm which was cut off?” “I don’t have it Ma. Even if I did, it must have died by now.
    He had this accident in the morning”. “In the morning? Why then did you not get get him to a hospital in the morning? Is he a thief?” asked a male voice behind Melinda. “He is no thief. A blade cut off his hand”, replied Melinda. “I will need a police report before I can……..” “No Doctor EMEKA, treat him and if he is a thief let the police deal with me”, interjected the elderly woman. Doctor Emeka asked Ochuma, “What did they give you in the morning when this happened?” “I don’t know but it quickly killed the pain”.
    The doctor commenced the treatment on Ochuma, while he administered treatment on him he noticed Melinda who was trying to reach someone on the phone had several cuts on her body. The doctor quietly went to the elderly woman and asked, “Don’t you think we should call the police? Look at that lady, she has fresh cuts all over her body, maybe they are on their way back from robbery or might be cultists”. The elderly woman studied Melinda’s body while she desperately tried to reach Austin on the phone. She turned to the doctor Emeka and said, “Do it. But while you are it, give the young man the required treatment”. The doctor gave his phone to one of the nurses, whispered some words into her ears and sent her out of the theater.

    Episode 16

    While plans were being made to invite the police to quiz Melinda and Ochuma, Verah and Osoba were meandering through every corner of the streets in that night looking for Austin and Etim. Osoba and Verah turned on their torch lights on their phones to help them see well in the night. They had tried several times to reach either Austin or Etim on their mobile phones without success. Eventually Verah and Osoba turned into the street where Austin and Etim noticed that the house they were going to was also moving away from them . But as they walked energetically towards the house they saw Austin’s phone on the floor ringing, the call was from Melinda. They wondered whether to pick the call and tell Melinda what they have found; after a bit hesitation Osoba picked the call, Melinda’s voice came through, sounding very excited that she had finally got through to Austin. “Austin! Oh my God! Where are you?” “Sorry Melinda, this is Osoba……..” “Where is Austin?” Osoba hesitated wondering how to tell her that they found Austin’s phone on the ground. “Where is Austin? Tell me you have found him!” “Sorry Melinda, we haven’t found him. We saw his phone on the ground.
     At least we know he went through this way. Stay calm we will call you as soon as we find Austin and Etim”. “No Osoba, I am coming over!” “No Melinda, you can’t do that, it’s too risky out here stay with Ochuma. By the way, how is he?” “I have put him in a good hospital and he had been attended to. I want to come over and find Austin please!” “No stay with Ochuma, they could send the scorpion again!” “Ochuma is asleep!” “That is the much reason you should watch over him!” While Osoba spoke with Melinda, Verah found something on the ground and called Osoba to come and have a look. “Osoba, you have to see this!” “Melinda, Verah has seen something, I have to go now”. Osoba dropped the call and ran over to where Verah stood. Verah was pointing her torch light on the ground; there was fresh blood trail on the ground and lots of foot prints. “Austin and Etim must have given whoever crossed their path a lot of fight”, said Osoba thoughtfully. “We have to find them now!” said Verah with some measure of alarm in her voice.
    A few yards away from where they saw the blood trail on the ground, they saw a crushed big black scorpion. Verah and Osoba studied it for a moment and then continued running to the house glowing in the distance away from them. “Osoba I don’t understand, the scorpion usually comes in smoke, cloud or shadow forms, the one we saw wasn’t in any of those forms, why?” “I have no clue Verah, let’s pray that by the time we find Austin and Etim, they are still alive”. “Wait Osoba, why should we go to that house and make enquiries about our friends, what if they are the bad guys?”
    The two of them stopped running and Osoba pondered what Verah said. “What do you suggest we do?” asked Osoba. Verah and Osoba had their torch light turned off and were talking in hushed voices.
     Verah had to time to alert Osoba to it, she felt a human figure moving very close behind her, she swung her right leg backward into the air, she could not tell how she was able to achieve that. It has been about two months since she went to a gym. When she swung her leg backward, the sharp end of her shoe heel caught the man by the neck and punctured his windpipe, Verah’s action shocked both her and Osoba, all they heard was a heavy thud on the ground. Osoba turned on his light and they saw a man with his windpipe ripped open and blood fountaining from it. The man was gasping for air and was strangely naked from hair to toe. Verah was of the opinion she had killed a mad man wondering the street in the night, until Osoba who was on his knees examining the man leapt into the air and called Verah’s attention to what he had seen. Verah had to turn on her own light; underneath the man’s skin were scorpion-like creatures, moving about as if in a hurry to flee the man’s body before death could set in. While they watched in shock, some blue light began to glow amid a pile of clothes lying next to the man. Osoba kicked the pile clothes, and it revealed Etim’s phone vibrating to a call. Osoba picked up the phone, the call was from a friend of Etim’s, Osoba ignored it.
    Verah and Osoba were forced to turned of their torch lights and hide when they heard voices coming out of the bush directly in front of them. While they held their breath in the bush and watched, they saw four men dragging Etim and Austin out of the bush.

    Episode 17

    As soon as they got to the road side where their colleague lay dead on the ground, they stood still, watching his lifeless body speechlessly. One of them, he must be their leader, said in anger. “Behead the two men! After all what Lord Michael want’s is their heads. Behead them!”
    The two men who held Austin and Etim pushed them down on the ground and the fourth one amongst them who was carrying a sack lowered it and removed a machete from it which glittered in the night. He stood over Austin and quickly raised the machete, before he could lower it; a heavy stone crashed into his skull and sent him to the ground . The others turned to see where that came from; Osoba who was racing out of the bush savagely kicked his boot into their leaders g---n. The man shouted so loud that his shout confused the other two who were on their feet. Verah who had raced out of the bush with Osoba went for the man who had the machete, when she reached him, she picked up the machete the man had dropped when the stone hit his head and swung it breathlessly into the man’s shoulder. The man’s head flew into the air and his body which was trying to stand to its feet staggered around as blood spurted from the stump which served as the last vestige of the man’s head and neck. The sight of the man’s headless body and squirting blood shook very down to her marrow, she dropped the machete and began to cry like a little child.
    The machete fell close to Austin; he grabbed it and sprang to his feet. He only had to swipe it twice at the two men who were trying to hypnotize Osoba. In a flash the men’s head were on the ground and their mouths gasping; even though Austin had killed them, he kept stabbing their bodies and shouting. Etim was on the ground and didn’t move while the brief fight took place. The hypnosis they had performed on them in the bush was still heavy on him. Austin had beaten the hypnosis by praying under his breath while the men performed it. Perhaps the two men Austin beheaded had thought Osoba was their only problem; that could have been the reason they ignored the machete when Verah dropped it. They must not have known that Austin was not under their hypnosis.
    Verah continued to cry as Austin and Osoba stared down at the three headless bodies on the ground. Osoba was not sure the man he kicked was dead so he took the machete from Austin and stabbed it into the man’s thigh.
    The man cried in pain. While Austin and Osoba paid attention to the leader of the pack he had just stabbed on the thigh, the crying Verah, who had turned on her phone torch light again, saw the same sensation on the bodies of the three dead men. Shapes of giant scorpion were moving under their skin. Amid her cry she said, “Look at this”.
     Osoba and Austin turned and saw shapes of scorpion moving under the skin of the dead men. “Austin we saw the same thing when Verah killed the one lying over there”. Osoba turned on his torch light to point at the body and there was nothing there; the body had somehow vanished. “These things are not humans! I didn’t kill any human being! Burn their bodies! We need to burn their bodies!”
    Verah who was crying moments earlier, took courage by what she had seen and began to search the sack the men had left on the ground for any thing they could use to burn the bodies. Inside the sack she found a one litre bottle of gin and raised it to the others, “See what I found”. Austin ran around looking for stones to ignite fire. Osoba held the machete menacingly over the only living one amongst the men and packed the bodies of the men together. Verah took the pile of clothes found next to the body of the man whose dead body had disappeared and dropped them on the piles of bodies they intended to burn.
    Osoba asked for the bottle of gin, Verah handed it to him, he smell it and knocked off the cork with the machete in his hand and offered it to Austin. Austin poured the grin on the bodied and tried to ignite fire with the stones. He couldn’t get the fire burning, Osoba asked him to keep the stones close to the bodies, Austin did and Osoba smacked the machete with force against the stones and the bodies caught fire. To help the fire burn well, Austin poured more gin into the fire…..

    Episode 19

    While Jeff left Austin and Melinda, Osoba assembled Melinda and the others to some corner of the hospital, “It is obvious we are going to spend the night in this hospital. I think we should have a plan on how to destroy the Circle of Stars and Michael once and for all. I have thought about it, we have three major objectives right now. We are to set Simon free, destroy the elders of the Circle of Stars and to get down to Michael’s grave to sent that scorpion against him and his followers . If any one has an idea about how we can achieve all these, please tell us”. “You left destroying Michael”, said Melinda. “Yes, we have to destroy Michael”, concurred Osoba. “We need to use the information we have against these people. The man we burnt told us that fire is one thing they dread; we have to find a way to use it against them. We also know that Michael is in Simon’s body”, said Austin “That is not all. Simon wants us to set him free, so he could take the battle to them………”
    “How did you know that?” asked Etim. “We were attacked after you and Austin left to find a drug store or a hospital. I and Osoba heard Simon calling for help; he wants to be set free so he can fight them himself. He has been inside, he must know some things”, said Melinda

    “We are not going to drive down there and ask them to release Simon or start a fight, are we?”
    “We have to have a battle plan”, said Verah. “We are going to burn there temple down”, announced Osoba. “How do you intend to do that?” asked Austin. “Melinda your police friends will be our cover up. Do you think they would like to help?” “I have to talk to Jeff first, I don’t know if he would like the idea”. At this point Jeff returned with food packs and drinks and handed them to Austin and Melinda. Melinda took her own food and drink and dragged Jeff to a corner to seek his help in the fight against Michael and Circle of Stars. By this time some policemen had helped Osoba with driving his bus over to the hospital. While they ate their food and Melinda spoke with Jeff, the elderly woman who had helped bring Melinda and Ochuma to the hospital came back to check how they were doing. They had come to know her as Doctor Briggs, a retired medical doctor. Her brother, doctor Emeka, was the owner of the hospital.
    While they bantered and laughed, Ochuma staggered out of his hospital room and announced. “The shadow scorpion is here! And this time it is not alone, there are many infernal spirit with it!” His words jolted all of them and they stood to their feet, their eyes darting about.
     Seeing their tense attitude to Ochuma’s declaration, Mrs Briggs asked Melinda, “What is the problem? What is a shadow scorpion?” “It is an evil spirit which has been hunting us. It comes like a scorpion in shadow or smoke form, and now it is not alone. Madam you have to evacuate this hospital. You have to get away now!” “No Melinda! We should rather leave! Let us draw it away from the hospital or people will get hurt”, said Etim “No way! Not in my brothers hospital! Demons are not allowed here! And none of you is going anywhere! SIKIRAT!” shout Doctor Briggs. A young nurse, Sikirat by name, ran to Doctor Briggs. She said to her, “Go call USMAN! Tell him to come here now! We have some demons to chase!” Sikirat took off to call Usman. “Madam you are making a mistake, you should let us go, you have no idea what these demons can do”, said Osoba. “Young man calm down! You have no idea what Usman will do to them when he comes”, “Who is Usman?” asked Verah “Our prayer band leader in church, he liked to deal with evil spirits. Just wait for him to come”. While they all waited for the spirits to manifest themselves, Anna, a much loved nurse in the hospital, came out of one of the wards whistling happily, she had no clue what was going on in the hospital. She was surprised to see policemen holding their guns as if they were waiting to battle robbers.

    Episode 18

    When their leader who was on the ground saw that the bodies of his colleagues were being burnt, he began to make incantations and fearfully tried to crawl into the bush. He was really scared at the sight of his dead colleagues being burnt. Osoba plunged the machete into his back and asked him to shut up. “Cut of his tongue! Cut it off! Let me see how he would be able to make incantations”, said Austin angrily . “He is scared of fire; maybe he considers it dangerous”, said Osoba. “Or it destorys their power, remember Michael was destroyed with fire”, said Austin, “You are right Austin. Pour some of the gin on him. Verah use that stick to get some fire from the burning bodies!”
    The man on the ground began to shout, “Please no! Don’t burn me with fire! Please no! You can kill me but don’t burn me with fire please!” While the man was shouting Verah used a dry stick to move over fire to where he was. The man shouted all the more as Verah brought the fire closer. Austin pretended to pour some of the gin on him and the man screamed much more. “You are going to tell me what I want to know. I heard you say Lord Michael, who is that?” asked Osoba. The man answered quickly, “Lord Michael is back to life, he is in Simon’s body.
    The elders invoked his spirit in to Simon’s body and bottled Simon’t spirit in a bottle”. ” Where is the bottle?” asked Austin. “It is at the temple of Stars in Epe”. “How do I find the temple?” asked Osoba. “It is on 18 Shelman street, Ereshe, Epe. It is a big temple you can’t miss it! I have told you what you want to know please let me go!” pleaded the man. “You are wrong I am not yet done. Michael wants our head, how does he intend to capture us?” “By sending agents like us. We come in the bodies of our dead members. A spirit empowers us” “The spirit you mean is Ayari, right?”
    The man’s eyes widened in shock when Osaba mentioned Ayari. “How did you know about that name?” he asked. “There are those who know about your secrets. Why are you afraid of fire? What does it do to you?” The man on the ground did not answer Osoba. Austin’s phone rang and Osoba gave it to him and said. “She will be pleased to know you are alive”. He turned back to the man as Austin conversed over the phone with Melinda. “Answer me, what does fire do to your kind?” The man didn’t answer him, he just lay on the floor staring at Osoba. “Verah I think he is all yours now burn him up!”
    Verah went back to the burning bodies and lit the stick in her hand and brought it over to the man on the ground. Osoba signaled to Austin to give them the bottle of gin, he handed it over to Osoba. Osoba poured some of it on the man. Verah streched her hands to light the man up and he shouted. “Please stop! Stop! I will tell you!” “Talk to him fast, I am losing my patience!” warned Verah. “I am in a dead colleague’s body. If you burn me while I am still in it, I won’t be able to wake up in my own body. My body and my dead colleague’s body will burn”. “Verah burn him up”. Osoba began to pour the gin on the man, Verah waited a bit and threw the stick of fire on the man and he began to burn, yelling as flames engulfed him. While the man burned, Verah asked Osoba “Why have the people in that house not come out since we have been here?” “That was where they took us to when they capture Austin and I. This house is bewitched, it will move if you tried getting close to it”, replied Etim who just recovered from the spell that was put on him. Austin ran back to Osoba and the others and announced. “Someone called the police to quiz Melinda and Ochuma because of their injuries. They think they are thieves or cultists. We need to get back; Melinda has it under control though”.
    They all began to run back following behind Austin. “Austin how will you find the hospital where they are?” asked Verah. “A doctor there has described it to me on the phone”.
    The hospital was swarming with policemen who had come out hoping to arrest suspected armed robbers. Fortunately for Melinda, the officer who led the policemen to the hospital was her classmate. When he arrived at the hospital and Doctor Emeka pointed at Melinda as a member of the suspected armed robbery group, the officer began to laugh, instead of arresting Melinda, he hugged her and pecked her on the cheek before explaining to Doctor Emeka that Melinda was a friend of his and a responsible citizen. “Doc you shouldn’t worry about this woman, have you heard about Acorn?” Doctor Emeka nodded in the affirmative. “She has worked for them for years now, and only recently she came back to Nigeria from London. This doctor sef, so you no dey know butter pickin when you see one? This babe no fit kill fly na”.
    The officer took Melinda to one corner of the hospital and asked her, “Who cut you up like this? What is going on?” “Are you going to arrest me?” “On what ground would I possibly arrest you? I was sent here though to arrest you and one other guy whom I was told has his arm chopped off………………” “He is alseep I think Doctor Emeka had to put him to sleep so he could get some rest or possibly so you could catch us”. “I came down here to arrest you, but now I think I have to protect you from whatever or whoever did this to you? Was it the guy? Did you chop off his arm for doing this to you?” “Look JEFF, the kind of stuff after me and my friends is not the kind of things you are trained to stop. I will be glad if you walk away; I wouldn’t want to put you in harm’s way”.
    “I don’t understand you Melinda, since when did you become a tough lady? What is after you, tell me?” “Do you remember Michael?” “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmh no; I don’t”. “Do you remember the guy who was often with me at the time you were in police college?” “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I remember him! If he is your problem then let’s go and arrest him. Where is he at this moment?” “Dead! Jeff he is dead and somehow he keeps coming back to life. Do you remember my friends Lanre, Obiorah and Angelique?” Jeff nodded, “They are all dead! Michael killed them in the most gruesome manner. Right now he and his occult group are after me, my fiance, Simon, Verah and a few other persons you haven’t met”. “Verah! The serious church girl I was going to date?” “Yes Jeff!” “I am sorry Melinda, I can’t help you. This is not my kind of work as a policeman. What exactly does this Michael wants? What did you and your friends do to him?” “He offered a sacrifice with my friends, we found out and destoryed it, now he is mad at us”.
    While they spoke, Austin and the others entered the hospital.
     Austin came over and hugged Melinda, “I am glad you are alive. Thank God! Austin this is Jeff the policeman sent to arrest me and Ochuma. He was a classmate of mine. Jeff this is my fiance Austin”. The two men shook hands and greeted each other. “You all look like s--t, have you had anything to eat all day?” asked Jeff. “No”, replied Melinda. “I may not be able to arrest a ghost, but I think I can get you food”. “Get lots of food, at least enough to feed five hungry adults”, said Melinda. Jeff began to walk away and then came back to Austin and Melinda and said, “I am going to leave some of my boys here, I shall give them an order to shoot at any thing that moves like a ghost, make sure you don’t move like a ghost”. Austin and Melinda laughed and assured him they won’t act like ghosts.

    Episode 20

    She stood wondering what was going on. Ochuma saw it, above Anna’s head was hanging on the ceiling a giant black scorpion. He pointed at it and shouted at Anna, “Run! Nurse run!” The others saw it and joined Ochuma to tell the nurse to run; Anna did not understand what they were shouting about, instead she began to turn left and right wondering what they were pointing at. Jeff fired a shot at the scorpion, but the bullet went right through it; then Anna lifted her head to see what was on the ceiling, the shadow scorpion dropped itself and landed on Anna’s face and crept into her mouth.
    Anna shouted and dropped to the floor . After a few minutes she slowly began to drag herself up. When she stood to her feet, her eyes were just hollow, filled with darkness and black smoke. When the policemen and some patients in the hospital saw her eyes they took off. Even Doctor Briggs inched away towards the door. Of all the policemen that had been in that hospital all night, only Jeff stood his ground. Seeing it had come to an open confrontation Melinda rallied her friends, “Prayer is what we do best! It has kept us till now, friends time has come to pray down heaven!” They all began to pray, hurling all sorts of spiritual weapons at the evil spirit in Anna. Anna didn’t move, she just stood still staring at them.
    After the evil spirit in Anna had had enough of their praying, it moved Anna towards them.
     They all moved toward the exit door.
    Then they heard a male voice speaking in tongues and shouting the name of Jesus. When the voice got closer, Anna began to shake her head as though she was being hit by invisible arrows. She got really pissed and then did the unthinkable, even movie guys wouldn’t have thought of it, Anna opened her mouth wide and some black liquid and scorpions began to jump out of it like frogs. The sight was creepy. Then it drawned on Osoba that Anna may have been incubating many of them on her inside. He said to Austin, “We have to kill this nurse! She is incubating these things!” “No if we kill her the scorpion will move into another person! Don’t kill the girl”, replied Austin.
    When Usman, who was speaking in tongues on his way into the hospital, saw Anna’s face, the scorpion and black liquid substance all coming out of Anna’s mouth, he ran back in fear. In his many years of chasing demons, he hadn’t seen anything like that. When Verah saw Usman run back, she stepped forward, that was about the first action she took that night. She pointed at Anna and All the scorpions which were moving towards them and demanded, “In the name of Jesus! I command you devils to return to sender!” Anna shook at Verah’s command; the scorpions on the floor vibrated and ran back. Anna picked a table next to her and hurled it at Verah like a piece of bread. Verah ducked and the table crashed into Austin and the others.

    Episode 21 (final)

    Usman must have found courage in Verah’s boldness. They all had forgotten he was still there. He shouted from the exit door where he stood watching Verah confront the devils, “You powers of darkness, I command you in the Name of Jesus, catch fire now!” If they all had not been there to witness it, no amount of persuasion would have made them believe what happened when Usman made that command. Right before their eyes, the scorpions on the floor caught fire and exploded . An invisible force lifted Anna and flung her on the floor. That gigantic scorpion which had gone into Anna crept out of her body burning with great fire. Usman must have got high on the result he got. He ran towards the scorpion and put his feet on it, shouting, “Usman shall tread upon serpents and scorpions!” Whatever happened to the scorpion when Usman matched on it, no one could tell. If he crushed it into the ground or it went into his body, there was no explaining it. When Anna got up from the floor, she looked stunned, wondering what had happened.
    Usman was eager to hear from Melinda and her friends about the kind of demonic manifestation he saw that night came to hunt them; Melinda obliged him and gave him a detailed account of how it all began. Usman was shocked by the gory tale he heard.
    He however could not figure out why they failed to get Strong Pastor involved in their renewed plight. “Why didn’t you get the pastor whom you mentioned involved all these while?” asked Usman. “He has been out of Lagos for long. We gathered he is in the Gambia on a mission work”, replied Melinda. “I do not believe you need to get down to the temple of this occult group or the grave you mentioned to destroy this evil force. I can make a decree from here and your friend would be sent free from the bottle you mentioned. Oh my God! Young woman, did you see what God did to the scorpions? I can unleash the mighty name of Jesus from here and the scorpion spirit you call Ayari will turn against the occult men who invoked it against you! Do you believe this can happen?” Melinda and her friends, including Jeff echoed. “Yes we believe!”
    “Now let us begin. Mark my words. You will get to their temple in the morning and see it in devasation. A battle is coming! A bigger battle is shaping up even as I speak, but before it begins, it shall end swiftly. Relax. God has raised a man to do your battle! I see him dressed in blood, I see him mocking at the lifeless bodies of his enemies. Who is Simon amongst you?” asked Usman. “He is the one locked in a bottle”, replied Ochuma. “He is the Man of War! We need to pray for God to break his spirit out of that bottle” They all began to pray as Usman led them. Even Doctor Briggs joined them. A passer-by would have mistaken the hospital for a church. Everyone prayed, including nurses and patients who dragged themselves out of their sick bed. The bottle in which, Simon’s spirit had been locked cracked. When the bottle cracked Michael and the elders of Circle of Stars were in a meeting in one of their secret chambers in the temple. After laboring much in prayers, Usman told Melinda and the others to go to sleep. He assured them that the battle was over. Usman left the hospital and returned home that late night. Austin and the others were a bit skeptical about sleeping. However before long they all dozed off out of weariness.
    About 4:00 am in the morning,a large cloud of darkness swept into the hospital while they all slept. Michael, in Simon’s body, emerged from the cloud, followed by two elders, one of the elders was okunowo. The three of them had razor sharp machetes. Michael walked over to where Melinda and the others lay and told Okunowo to lift Melinda into the cloud of darkness. Okunowo lifted Melinda while she still slept and carried her into the swirling cloud of darkness. “These are the heads I asked for and none of you could give them to me. Now I have to take them myself”. Michael without hesitation swung his machete upon Austin’s neck and Austin body fell off the bench upon which he slept. Michael stepped over to Osoba’s body and asked the elder by his side to pick up Austin’s head.
    When the elder stooped to look under the bench for Austin’s head, he suddenly moaned and grabbed his neck. Between his fingers which held his neck, blood surged. Michael was shocked; he couldn’t figure out what happened. One of his elders was dying someone had slit his throat.
    Michael was scared, as he retreated from Osoba, he saw Austin sleeping like a baby under the bench with his head in place. He was certain that just some seconds earlier he had beheaded Austin. As Michael stood watching in utter shock, he felt being chocked inside Simon’s body. He called out to elder Okunowo who was inside the swirling cloud of darkness keeping an eye on Melinda. Okunowo raced out to him for help, when he drew closer, Michael raised his machete in his hand and lumped off his head. He didn’t want to do that, but he did it. Michael jumped into the cloud, kicked Melinda out of it and vanished. Melinda landed on the floor and woke up with a fit of anxiety. Her eyes darted about as she breathed heavily. She didn’t even know when she slept off or how she ended up at the spot she woke from. She sprang to her feet and then saw two dead bodies on the floor; she noticed they were dressed like persian priest. “Austin! Verah!” Shouted Melinda. The alarm in Melinda’s voice startled all of them. They woke up thinking they were under attack. “Look at these! They must be from Circle of Stars”, announced Melinda. “If I am right, these are some of the elders of Circle of stars”, said Osoba. “Christ! They came here to kill us; but what could have killed them?” asked Austin. “This much we know, they are dying; someone certainly is killing them. I think we should head down to their temple and finish this off”, said Etim with enthusiasm.
    Without much ado they gathered their stuffs and went into Osoba’s bus.
    Early that morning when Michael returned to the temple of the Circle of Stars, he met a commotion. A swarm of shadow scorpions had invaded the temple and were devouring the elders. The prayer said at the hospital had turned Ayari against them. The elders were happy to see Michael back at the temple. They were hopeful he would use his enormous power to banish the scorpions; but much to their shock, Michael needed help as well. He seemed uncomfortable in Simon’s body and moved nervously. With unsteady steps he moved into the inner chambers of the temple, and when he returned, he had in his hand one of the persian blades which adorned the temple. He gave the elders no chance at all to escape. He moved like ghost. One after another he took their heads. The elders were confused they didn’t know who to run from; whether the shadow scorpions which devoured them or their lord who had gone mad. What the elders did not figure out was that Simon had retaken his body; he was having a fight inside his body with Michael and was winning. He made Michael do things he would ordinarily not want to do. When he was done with the elders, he staggered back into the chamber where Michael’s body was kept in a cone-like coffin and pushed out the coffin into the temple.
    He dragged out Michael’s body from the coffin. At this point, Michael’s voice could be heard in the temple but not from simon’s body. Simon had gained a greater control over his body. He found a few priestly garments in the temple and dropped them on Michael’s body. Michael could tell what Simon was about to do; Simon was going to burn his body and those of the dead elders.
    Michael’s voice grew louder in the temple and objects flew about at his command. Simon was undeterred, after gathering materials he felt could make a bone fire; he set Michael’s body on fire. Amazingly he didn’t hear Michael’s voice after he set his body on fire. He still wasn’t done; he went back into the chambers and found gallons of oil (only God knew what they used them for) and emptied them all over the temple. As the rays of early morning sun shone into the temple, Simon discovered that what he had mistaken for oil was actually blood; the elders stored human blood in gallons. Though he was disappointed that the blood won’t help him start the kind of fire he hoped to start, he was however glad he poured them out on the floor. He had to make do with the veils and curtains in the temple to set the temple on fire. Simon stood outside and watched as the fire grew and feverishly overwhelmed the temple and all the things in it. He smiled, happy that the fight had finally come to an end, but he was wrong. The gallons of blood he emptied on the floor had awakened Michael and all the dead elders. With fire on their bodies, they dragged themselves out of the temple and came after Simon.
    Simone was shocked to see them alive. Most of the elders had no heads, their bodies just dragged toward Simon. Michael was in the lead, with his eyes flaming. Simon’s only detense was the blade in his hand, the wall and the gate were too high for him to scale. There was little time for him to have a plan; he just threw himself into the battle.
    He aimed at Michael’s outstretched arms as he reached to grab him and slashed them off. He stepped backward and hacked the blade into Michael’s right leg; the blow left Michael’s limb hanging only on sinews and flesh from the knee. Thankfully the fire began to over power the elders; one after another they fell to the ground. Michael stood on a foot still burning; he couldn’t move having lost two arms and a foot. Simon moved back like an athlete about to leap over a high jump and aimed at Michael’s head. “Now old friend, I would like to see you rise again”, Simon gloated. By now the roof of the temple had begun to burn, people from miles could see it. Simon looked around, searching for a means to get away. Then he heard a pounding sound on the gate. He ran to hide and listened to the voices at the gate. He picked one umistakable voice. It was Melinda’s. She was shouting an order to someone, “Ram the gate down! Simon is inside, we can’t let him die!” Simon ran out of his hiding place shouting, “Melinda I am fine!” As he drew near to the gate there was a heavy bang on the gate. It jangled and collapsed to the ground. Simon stood still watching in unbelief, his friends would stoop at nothing to save him. Melinda and the others ran into the compound following behind Osoba’s bus with which they tore down the gate. They were all armed to the teeth and ready for a fight.
    They all stood still when they saw Simon standing in the middle of the compound holding a persian blade in his hand. They had been told Michael was in Simon’s body; so they could not tell who was standing before them, whether Michael or Simon. Osoba jumped out of his bus and demanded, “Who is in that body, Simon or Michael? Declare yourself!” “Hello friends, it is me Simon. The battle is over take it easy!” None of them moved, they had seen enough to believe Michael and the elders could do anything to deceive them. “I think it is Simon. Who could have set the temple on fire?” said Melinda. “Melinda don’t assume anything, we don’t know what happened here yet”, said Austin. Verah stepped closer and commanded, “You foul spirit masquerading as Simon, I command you in the Name of Jesus bow to your knees!”
    Simon stood still and watched them; a few seconds passed and he said, “It is me Simon, Michael had left my body. Look at him; I burnt him and the elders. I fought him out of my body. I burnt the temple. I was already free when he came to the hospital to kill you all. It is me Simon!” Osoba moved and stood before Simon and said, “If he so much as moves a finger, cut him down!” Osoba studied him to know if he was real and then said to Austin. “Bring the fire from the temple, we are going to burn him!” “No Osoba you can’t burn him, he is Simon for real”, protested Melinda.
    Simon tightened his grip around the blade in his hand and narrowed his gaze on Osoba’s neck. Austin returned with some coals of fire and kept them in-between Simon’s legs.u can send hi to Lordsamuel on 0543589658 to be added to adults chat room to enjoy more stories.
    . “Wait Osoba! There is another way to prove whether Simon is the one inside that body. I am going to pray, if he reacts violently kill him”, said Verah.
    Verah came close and began to pray, “Heavenly Father if there be any foul spirit in this man or any other human spirit other than his own. I command now let there be a violent reaction in him in the Name of Jesus!” Simon responded, “Amen!” Verah paused and asked, “Simon is that really you?” “Verah it is me! I burnt these people you see here. I destroyed their temple. I burnt Michael’s coffin and the body; there he lies dead! I think we should leave now, the police will be here any moment!”
    Melinda rushed forward and put her hand on Simon’s head and declared. “If you are not Simon. I command Holy Ghost……………” The others responded “Fire!” Simon began to laugh at them, they all hugged him and hurried into Osoba’s bus.
    On the road back to the city they all wanted to know how Simon got out of the bottle; he explained to them that the bottle cracked and his spirit floated out of it like air. While the others harrowed Simon with questions and told tales of their horror adventure. Melinda rested her head on Austin’s chest, and said, “Babe I think it is about time we had that wedding”.

    The End.

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