Story: Silent Screams

    Chapter 1

    It must have been hours later when Leila opened her eyes she looked around the room trying to make sense of where she was. Leila blinked in confusion when she realized she was lying in her bed.
    She closed her eyes for a brief second and her mind took her straight back to that morning, she remembered getting into the shower, then the intense pain In her tummy and speaking of the pain, she had never felt such kind of pain before not even her period cramps were that painful. And then she remembered the evil laughter, it seemed so real, she couldn’t have imagined it.
    ‘There has to be a logical explanation to all this,’ she thought
    Sliding out of bed, Leila realized she was still dressed in her nightgown. Who had dressed her up? Everything felt bizarre, a panic coursed through her as she scampered to the bathroom expecting to find a mess on the floor but to her surprise the bathroom was spotless and there wasn’t a hint of blood anywhere on the floor.
    She trembled, ‘Was it possible that she had been dreaming all along?’
    She wanted to tell herself that everything she thought had happened wasn’t real, that it was a bad dream.
    Determined to put it all out of her mind, she splashed some water on her face. She went back to her room and started changing & once she was all dressed up she walked out of her room and went to the kitchen.
    The house seemed quieter than normal, ‘where is everyone?’ she wondered.
    She made herself a cup of coffee and walked over to the table, she set her coffee down before sitting down herself.
    As Leila sipped her coffee, a chill ran through her & she felt a gloomy presence in the room. It was as if someone was watching her from behind, she jerked around but there was no one there.
    Then all of a sudden, she heard her name ‘Leila” it said in a whisper. It was a strange man’s voice.
    For a moment she went blank trying to figure out if she was hearing correctly.
    ‘Leila,’ she heard it again from a distance behind her & this time a little louder.
    A stroke of fear swept through her veins, she dropped her cup of coffee and let out a scream.
    Her mother and her sister who had just walked into the house came rushing into the kitchen when they heard her screaming.
    She was lying on the floor shaking in fear while covering her ears.
    ‘Hun what’s wrong?’ Her mother asked kneeling beside her.
    Leila’s heart was beating out of her chest, she had never been this afraid before.
    ‘What happened?’ Her mother worriedly asked again.
    Leila looked up at her,’ I heard a strange voice calling me, someone was watching me.’
    Her younger sister Jada let out a laugh, ‘Stop watching horror movies.’
    ‘I know what I saw and heard,’ Leila said defensively
    Her mother could hear the terror in Leila’s voice and she had no doubt her daughter was telling the truth.
    ‘There is no one here baby I am sure you just imagined it.’
    ‘Drama Queen,’ Jada exclaimed
    ‘Jada please,’ her mother scolded
    ‘Fine,’ she raised her hands up in form of surrendering before walking to her room.
     ‘Mum I swear there was a strange voice calling me.’
    ‘Oh hun,’ her mother reached over and engulfed her in a tight hug. Leila clung to her mother as if her life depended on it. An awkward silence filled the air and no one said anything for a while.
    ‘Mum,’ she cleared her throat, several minutes later.
    ‘Yes baby.’
    ‘What if I am a cursed child?’
    Her mother gave her a weird look, ‘Leila what makes you think you are cursed?’
    ‘The nightmares have started recurring and now I am hearing things.’
     ‘I don’t think you are cursed Leila.’
    ‘Then what’s happening to me?’ she asked, her voice breaking.
    ‘Nightmares have nothing to do with being cursed you probably don’t get enough sleep.’
    Leila shook her head, ‘We both know I always sleep on time.’
     ‘You are not cursed Leila I am sure there is an explanation for all this but you are not a cursed child.
    ‘Okay,’ she stood up.
    ‘Take it easy on yourself this is just a phase it will pass.’
    ‘I will be in my room if you need me,’ she walked out before her mother could respond.
    Leila walked into her room and sat on the edge of the bed with one leg under the other, she started to rethink the events of that day but as she was in deep thought, her phone rang.
    She grabbed her phone and placed it on her right ear, ‘Hello,’ she said
    ‘Stay away from my brother you piece of garbage,’ the voice on the other end of the line said in an annoying voice.
    ‘Audrey what’s the meaning of this?’ she asked
    ‘nyo nyo nyo! Idiot just stay away from my brother, I don’t want him getting killed because of you.’
    ‘What are you talking about?’
    ‘Mtchew,’ she clicked her tongue and hung up the phone.
    Leila shook her head in disbelief, ‘what was that all about?’ she thought to herself. She stared at her phone for a few minutes before she decided to call Owen, her boyfriend, they had been secretly going out for six months now.
    Their relationship was kept a secret because Leila’s parents had made it clear she wasn’t allowed to date despite being 24.
    ‘The dialed number takes no incoming calls,’ was the response she got on the other side of the line.
    Frustrated, Leila stood up and slid on her slippers, she got some money from her purse and put it in her pocket then she walked out of her room.
     ‘Where to?’ her mother who was lying on the couch in the living room asked.
    ‘I am going out for a couple of minutes, I need some air.’
    ‘Alright, be safe and come back soon.’
    ‘Okay,’ she half smiled and walked out.

    *Mr Francco*

    Chapter 2

    Leila stepped out of the taxi and walked toward the entrance. She pushed the gate open and walked in, she knocked at the door and Audrey herself opened it.
    Audrey stood at the door and looked at Leila disgustedly.
     ‘What the hell are you doing here?’
    ‘I am here for Owen, is he home?’
    ‘I thought I made it clear on the phone that I want you to stay away from my brother.’
    ‘You have no right to tell me to stay away from Owen.’
    She laughed, ‘Oh really now?’
    ‘Yes let Owen himself tell me to stay away from him maybe then I will consider staying away.’
    ‘You can’t see my brother,’ she slammed the door in her face.
    Leila was dumbstruck she looked up at the door for few minutes trying to figure out why Audrey was treating her this way.
    ‘Something is wrong somewhere,’ she thought to herself before she decided to knock again, she wasn’t going back home without getting answers.
    ‘Open this door and face me Owen,’ she screamed and pounded the door with her fists.
    The door creaked open after a few minutes, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Audrey angrily asked
    ‘I have to see Owen.’
    ‘He doesn’t want to see you.’
    ‘Please allow me to see him and if he says he doesn’t want to see me, I will never come here again, please Audrey.’
    Audrey didn’t respond she remained silent as she stared at Leila.
    ‘Please,’ Leila pleaded.
    After a long pause, Audrey sighed and stepped aside to let Leila in.
    ‘Thank you.’
    Audrey followed Leila as she walked straight to Owen’s room. Once upon a time, she had loved Leila but now she was disgusted by her mare presence.
    Leila tapped on his door and walked in, Owen was lying on his bed covered with a blue blanket, she couldn’t see his face because it was buried in a pillow and he was facing the other side of the bed.
    Leila cleared her throat to make her presence known, Owen turned and looked at her, a pained expression on his face.
    Her mouth dropped open, ‘Owen!’ She exclaimed. ‘What the hell happened to you?’
    Owen’s face was badly battered, he looked like was on the brink of death. His eyes were very swollen he could hardly open them; there were several deep cuts and bruises all over his forehead and cheeks.
    ‘What happened?’ Leila asked again.
    ‘Chilufya happened,’ Audrey rudely answered.
    ‘Chilufya? Who is Chilufya?’ she asked with a confused look on her face.
    Audrey rudely looked at Leila and clicked her tongue, ‘Are you going to stand here and pretend that you don’t know Chilufya?’
    ‘I am lost please explain what’s going on,’ she pleaded.
    Owen opened his mouth to talk but he quickly closed it.
    ‘The man you have been fucking did this to my brother you whore. He attacked my brother and nearly killed him all because you couldn’t keep your legs closed. My brother has been faithful to you & this is how you repay him?’
    ‘Owen, what is she talking about?’ Leila looked at him with a hurt look in her eyes.
    ‘I thought you were different Leila but I was wrong,’ Owen said, his voice was shaky and it sounded as if he was crying.
    ‘This is all a big misunderstanding, I would never cheat on you I love you.’
    ‘Please leave, I never want to see you ever again.’
    ‘No Owen this is a huge mistake please listen to me.’
    Leila could feel desperation welling up inside, she couldn’t afford to lose Owen.
    ‘I don’t know who Chilufya is, I would never cheat on you please believe me, I love you Owen,’ she pleaded in a chocked voice.
    ‘Just leave,’ he said.
    ‘Your time is up Leila now you can leave,’ Audrey cut her short.
    ‘Don’t do this to us.’
    Tears were now pouring down her cheeks.
     ‘Good bye Leila.’
    ‘It’s about time,’ Audrey said before she roughly grabbed her elbow and walked her out of the house.
    ‘It’s all a misunderstanding Audrey don’t do this to me please,’ she begged.
    Audrey pushed Leila to the ground and stomped back into the house slamming the door.
    Leila wanted to believe that all this was just a bad dream, she had never been this broken before, everything inside of her ached, her heart felt shattered and the lump in her throat made it hard for her to breathe.
    Back in the house pain flooded through every vein of Owen’s body.  Leila’s betrayal stung in more words than one, he had given her his heart but she instead tore it apart and left him empty. She had made him believe she was pure and innocent yet she was sleeping around.
    ‘She is not worth crying over,’ Audrey softly said as she gently patted his back.
    ‘I loved her sis,’ he sniffed
    ‘Love hurts.’
    ‘But I thought she was different.’
    ‘Ya she managed to fool all of us with her innocent face, you will get through this.’
    But Owen wondered if he would ever get over Leila.
    ‘I feel very tired,’ he yawned
    ‘I am sure it’s the medicine you need to rest.’
    ‘I think I will do just that.’
     ‘Alright, call me when you need anything, I will be in my room.’
    After his sister walked out of the room, he closed his eyes so he could go back to sleep. He was drifting to sleep when his room suddenly became dark and he saw it a dark shadowy figure standing right next to his bed, the dark figure was wrapped in a black cloak that covered most of his face.
    Overwhelmed by fear, Owen tried to scream but he had no voice & no matter how much he tried to get up his body wouldn’t move. Then suddenly he felt a heaviness on him, he couldn’t breathe as he felt two hands tightly wrapped around his neck strangling him slowly.

    Chapter 3

    Audrey rushed to her brother’s room when she heard him scream though what she heard was more of a loud gasp than a scream.
    She froze at the sight of her brother lying on the floor soaked in blood. He was jerking violently then suddenly his body went limp and his eyes rolled at the back of his head.
    ‘Owen!’ she screamed but he didn’t respond, her heart pounded with fear, what if her brother was already dead.
    She quickly grabbed his phone and called 911, Audrey paced back and forth as she waited for the ambulance that seemly took forever to arrive.
    Finally an ambulance arrived Audrey watched as the attendants loaded Owen’s body onto a stretcher and hauled him away.
    She prayed and hoped they would be able to save him.
    Leila walked into the house feeling the weight of the world descending onto her shoulders. She looked miserable as hell, she had large tear stains on her cheeks and her eyes were so red & puffy.
    ‘Leila! You are back?’ Her mother asked
    Leila answered her with silence, she was in no mood for any drama. She felt weak and so tired, she just wanted to sleep.
    Her mother stood up from the couch, ‘Have you been crying? What’s wrong baby who hurt you?’
    ‘I am fine mum,’ she said in a low voice.
    Her mother could tell something was wrong but she didn’t press her.
    Leila hurriedly rushed to her room and shut the door behind her. She threw herself onto her bed before she covered her face with her hands and wept. She didn’t know breakups could hurt this bad, this was her first heart break and she had no one to talk to about it. Her only friend Abigail was out of the country on a business trip and she didn’t want to disturb her with such news.
    She cried for hours until she had no more tears to shed. Her eyes throbbed painfully with the headache she had developed she just didn’t know how she was going to cope without Owen.
    Minutes later, her sister came bursting through her door.
    ‘Leila!’ She glanced at her.
     ‘Oh my God you look awful.’
    ‘Not now Jada please,’ she said in a low tone.
    ‘Talk to me,’ she sat next to her on the bed.
    ‘You won’t understand Jada just leave me alone.’
    ‘I know we are not close but you are my sister and I love you Leila, please talk to me. What’s going on?’
    A stream of tears silently cascaded down Leila’s cheeks and her lip was quivering.
    Jada had never seen her sister this distressed she pulled her into an embrace and held her tightly
    ‘It’s going to be okay,’ she told her.
    ‘My boyfriend broke up with me, he thinks am cheating.’
    Jada’s eyes shot up, ‘Say what?’
    She cleared her throat, ‘don’t act too surprised.’
    ‘I can’t believe this, you went ahead and had a boyfriend despite everything mum and dad said?’
    ‘Yes we have secretly been dating for the past six months and now he doesn’t want anything to do with me.’
    ‘OMG, I can’t believe this.’
    ‘That you finally managed to disobey our parents.’
    ‘You know what? I regret disobeying them maybe if I had not dated Owen I wouldn’t be this broken.’
    ‘Shut up, you are just saying that because you feel heartbroken.’
    ‘I miss him already I don’t know how I will survive without him.’
    ‘Time heals all wounds, you will be better as times goes by. Wipe those tears that jerk doesn’t deserve you.’
    ‘Thank you sis,’ she smiled.
    ‘You are welcome.’
    ‘And please keep this between us.’
    ‘My lips are sealed,’ she laughed
    ‘Girls it’s time to eat,’ their mother opened the door and paused in the door way.
    ‘I am not hungry,’ Leila responded
    ‘You father is already at the table, don’t keep him waiting,’ she walked out shutting the door behind her.
    ‘She is so bossy ahhh,’ Leila exclaimed
    ‘My, my, my I like the new Leila more,’ Jada let out a laugh.
    ‘I seriously don’t want to be around them today.’
    ‘Let’s just go before your father starts yelling,’ she stood up
    ‘Let me just wash my face I will join you in a bit.’
    Leila lazily stood up and headed for the bathroom she washed her face with a damp rag and examined herself, then she walked back to her room then she changed into a T-shirt and a wrapper before heading to the dining room.
    ‘See who decided to join us,’ her father mocked when she got to the dining room.
    ‘Good evening dad,’ she greeted
    ‘What’s so good about the evening?’
    Leila knew better than to respond, she slid into her chair and folded her arms on the table.
    Leila and her father had no daughter/ father relationship, she knew her father preferred her elder brother Alfred and Jada to her, often times her father made her feel like an imposter.
    ‘I am starving, can we eat already?’ Jada said sensing the tension in the air.
    ‘Ya sure, her mother dished up for everyone and they started eating.
    Leila wasn’t really interested in the food, there was a lot on her mind and food was the least of her worries, she had to find out who Chilufya was and why he had attacked Owen and claimed they were in a relationship.
    ‘Are you okay?’ Her mum pulled her out of her reverie.
    She cleared her throat, ‘Yes.’
    ‘You haven’t touched your food.’
    ‘I am not hungry.’
    ‘You are not hungry?’ Her father asked. He was looking at her in a weird way which made her a little uncomfortable.
    She nodded her head.
    ‘What is wrong with you? This food you are wasting here others don’t even have it,’ he asked, annoyance clear in his voice.
    ‘I said I am not hungry,’ she said a little louder than she had intended.
    Her father laughed, ‘So it has come to this? Speaking to me in that stupid tone?’
    ‘Hun, just let it go,’ his wife pleaded
    ‘Your daughter is disrespecting me and you want me to let it go?’
    ‘I think I am done here,’ Leila stood up and tried to walk back to her room, her father caught up with her and grabbed her arm but Leila yanked away from her.
    He looked at her with anger enraged eyes -ready to explode, this was the first time that Leila was standing up to him like this, he had managed to control her life for the past 24 years.
    ‘Leila what is wrong with you? Have you gone out of your mind? Her mother yelled
    ‘No I haven’t gone out of mind, I am very fine. I am just tired of you guys, you treat me like a child, you are always so controlling why can’t you let me be?
    ‘Calm down Leila,’ Jada tried to touch her
    ‘Just leave me alone, you don’t know how it feels to be me, you have all the freedom in the world to do as you please. You and Alfred you are the favored children, I am treated like a slave in this house,’ her voice trembled
    Her father laughed out loud, ‘Oh so this is about a man?’
    Leila shook her head, ‘Why am I not allowed to date? Jada here is four years younger than me and you are okay with her dating. You were never even this strict with Alfred before he moved out, why me?’
    ‘Alfred is a man, he can do as he pleases besides he is way older than you.’
    ‘And Jada?’
    ‘You really want to know why you are not allowed to date.’
    ‘Yes. Make me understand why,’ she said in a low tone.
    ‘Leila I know your father and I have been strict with you but it’s for your own good,’ her mother said
    ‘My own good? What good?’
    Nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared Leila for what her father was about to tell her.
    ‘You are practically a married woman and as soon as you turn twenty five your husband will come and take you home,’ he said.
    Her eyes grew wide, ‘Married?’

    Chapter 4

    ‘Married,’ a cold shiver ran down her spine.
    ‘Yes my daughter & you have less than 7 months before your marriage ceremony,’ her mother said
    Then there was utter silence, in that brief moment Leila’s world seemed to stand still.
    Her knees felt weak and she sank at once to the floor.
    ‘What do you mean she is married?’ Jada asked
    ‘It’s not something I want to get into right now but when the time is right and we have to present her to her future husband then all will be revealed,’ he responded.
    ‘When did this whole marriage thing happen?’
    ‘Jada this has nothing to do with you,’ her mother scolded
    ’This makes no sense at all, you at least owe her an explanation,’ Jada screamed
    ‘I will not have you talk to me like that Jada.’
    ‘You mean to tell me that you married me off without my consent?’ Leila finally managed to speak up though her voice was hollow.
    ‘I am your father and I did what’s best for this family and for you.’
    Leila stood up, ‘you might be my father but that doesn’t give you the right to play God in my life, aren’t you even ashamed of yourself,’ her voice suddenly rose.
    Scarcely had she uttered those words when her father slapped her face with a heavy blow that sent her reeling as she fell on her back with a thud.
    Leila picked herself upright, ‘You slapped me?’
    Leila’s mother saw the frantic look in her daughter’s face as she held her cheek. If she could only get her out of this situation she would but she knew she couldn’t fight destiny, her daughter’s marriage had been sealed even before she was born and getting her out of it now would have grave consequences.
    ‘Never again should you ever speak to me like that,’ he yelled at her
    ‘Hun please, calm down,’ his wife held back his hand.
    Leila fought back tears as she tried to regain her senses, ‘And what if I say no to this stupid marriage of yours?’
    Her father laughed aloud mockingly, ‘Then be prepared to die Leila.’
    Jada gave her father a puzzled look, ‘Dad, you mean you are willing to kill your own daughter for refusing to marry a stranger?’
    ‘Yes, I am willing to kill her,’ he responded through clenched teeth.
    ‘I refuse to be forced into marriage, I would rather be dead first before I marry an unknown man.’
    ‘Then count yourself dead my dear Leila. RIP,’ He laughed ‘you know what? You might as well tell me what type of a coffin you want us to burry you in, should we do use a white or black casket or maybe….,’
    ‘Stop it Daniel, stop it!’ His wife yelled at him.
    ‘You better warn this daughter of yours to do the right thing. I will not allow her to bring destruction to this family.’
    ‘I will not get married you can’t do this to me.’
    ‘My word is final you will be getting married in the next seven months and I hope you are still a virgin or else all hell will break loose.’
    ‘I hate you, you are such a wicked man, I wish you can just drop dead and die.’
    He groaned and slapped her again, harder this time.
    ‘Don’t you dare lay your finger on me again,’ she pushed him and quickly ran to her room.
    He wanted to run after her but his wife held his hand, ‘Give her time, she will come around.’
    ‘Mxxxm,’ Jada clicked her tongue, ‘You guys are disgusting.’
    ‘Jada this is not your battle to fight so stay out of it,’ her mother warned.
    ‘Whatever,’ she said before walking away.
    ‘You need to talk to her, she has to understand how important her marriage is to this family,’ he said to his wife.
    She took his hand and gently led him to him to a nearby chair, ‘I will talk to her please calm down.’
    Daniel was angry Leila was going to be the death of him.
    His wife stood behind him and slipped her hands under his T-shirt and began to massage his shoulders.
    He closed his eyes and sucked in a breath of air.
    ‘Breath!’ she said her voice was in whispers.
    ‘Okay,’ he said exhaling the breath he had been holding.
    Audrey sat on the floor, waiting for news on her brother, it had been hours since he had been brought in but no one had given her any information on how he was doing.
    She was paralyzed with fear and despair, what if Owen was dead would she be able to live without him? He was the only family she had - since their parents died it had always been the two of them against the world.  Yes they had a few aunties and cousins and cousins here and there but she didn’t count any of them as family.
    She stood up instantly when the doctor walked out gently shutting the door behind her, she had a pained look on her face and somehow Audrey knew she had bad news for her.
    ‘Doctor! How is my brother doing?’ she asked her even though she wasn’t emotionally ready to hear her response.
    ‘Um…….,’ the doctor fumbled for words as she cleared her throat.
    Audrey suddenly felt an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach.
    ‘I need to know how my brother is doing Doctor.’
    The doctor looked up at her, the one thing she hated about her job was having to deliver bad news to the family of her patients, it made her feel like a failure.
    Audrey felt her eyes become glossy, the doctor’s silence was driving her crazy.
    ‘What the fuck is going on?’ she yelled much to the surprise of her and the doctor.
    The doctor raked her fingers through her hair, ‘Your brother has slipped into a coma, he is brain dead and he is likely to remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life, ’she finally said
    Audrey felt weak, she had to hold on to the chair next to her to keep from falling.
    ‘Nothing adds up, how does he go from being healthy to being in a coma? You mean the beating he received could have landed him in the Coma?’
    ‘Your brother’s situation is quiet complicated.’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘I feel like I have failed you but I can’t honestly explain how he slipped into that Coma. We ran a few tests but it seems he is medically okay.’
     ‘Are you saying my brother is as good as dead?’
    She took a deep breath ‘Yes.’
    Audrey stared at the doctor as she shook her head, she was too shocked to react and too numb to cry.

    Chapter 5

    Leila threw herself upon her bed, weeping into her pillow. Her body was exhausted and her mind was restless, why would her parents do this to her? She was only 24 and marriage was the last thing on her mind, she wanted to focus on her studies explore and travel the world before finally committing herself to someone in marriage.
    ‘I will fight them if I have to but I will not be forced into a marriage I don’t desire to be in,’ she thought at the back of her mind.
    Amidst her thoughts, Leila’s eyes grew heavy and she felt the grip of exhaustion- she dozed off.
    It was a cold dark evening the air was sharp and brisk, the coldness of the night pinched at her skin making it raw and numb. Leila’s mind wandered in all directions, she had no idea where she was.
    Everything seemed a little too strange she was standing barefoot in the middle of nowhere & her clothes were replaced with red fabrics.
    She looked around and all she could see where trees in front and to either side of her. She was suddenly alarmed, this place was awfully quiet, how was she going to get out of here alive?
    Eventually she started walking around aimlessly trying to find a way out, she was cold – the air she was inhaling made her insides freeze.
    She had only walked for five minutes when she heard a very loud amplified sound like heavy breathing. An unreasoning fear swept across her body and she stood still shivering and shaking, at that point the wind became fiercer and the air harsher, Leila knew she wasn’t alone in the forest, she could feel the presence of someone watching her from behind, afraid to look back she began to run as fear pumped adrenaline through her veins.
    As she ran, she heard loud curdling screams from behind her but she didn’t stop, she ran as fast as her body could take her.
    She suddenly came to an abrupt halt when she heard another scream louder now and the voice sounded strangely familiar.
    This time around she turned and came face to face with a man in a heavy black cloak not too far from her. He was holding someone by the neck and sort of strangling him.
    ‘Owen!’ Leila gasped trembling when she saw the person who was being strangled.
    ‘Ha! Ah! Ha! Ah! Ha! ‘A loud pearl of laughter bounced against the trees.
    Owen chocked and gagged in his grip fighting for air. Leila was horrified at what was going on but she couldn’t move anymore.
    ‘Owen! No!’ she screamed as tears of fear and frustrations spilled over dripping down her cheeks.
    As he continued to tighten his grip around Owen’s neck, Owen’s eyes rolled back into his head then he let out a breathless moan and collapsed to the ground and did not move further.
    ‘Owen,’ Leila screamed, she wanted to run to him, she had to save him from this monster but before she could do that her eyes snapped open and she was back in her room lying on her bed, her room was dark though she didn’t remember switching off the light.
    ‘Could it all have been a dream? It seemed so real. What did it mean?’ Oh Owen, she had to call him to see if he was okay.’
    She tried to get up but her body was paralyzed it was as if someone was holding her down, she couldn’t move her arms and legs neither could she speak, this experience was similar to what happened the other day, Leila was frustrated what in God’s name was happening to her, she thought about praying in her heart but she didn’t know how to, her parents were not religious and she too had followed in their footsteps, she couldn’t remember a time when she had prayed in her life, doing so now would be a sign of hypocrisy.
    She lay still staring at the wall waiting for this awful experience to end when all of a sudden the door in front of her opened, it wasn’t just a little push it was as if someone had opened the door completely then she heard a huge bang and the door slammed shut.
    After a while, she was aware of a familiar strong presence in her room & she began to see movement, she could feel his presence coming closer and closer, she tried to scream again and although she felt her mouth moving, no sound emerged. She was desperate she needed to get herself out of this situation before he harmed her, but how would she do that. Just then Leila felt like someone was touching her and she began to panic, it was kind of a human touch she could feel it all over her body and then there was a weight on top of her body and a breath on her neck.
    ‘No,’ she screamed but to no avail. Shortly after, Leila felt a hand stroking her thigh followed by a sharp pain that radiated in her back down in her upper left thigh.
    After a few moments of excruciating pain, it was gone and she was able to move.

    Chapter 6

    She suddenly sat bolt upright in bed & screamed so loud that it woke everyone and they rushed to her room. Her mother flipped on the lights & rushed over to her. Leila was shrieking on top of her voice with tears rushing down her face, her mother took her in her arms & rocked her back and forth in an attempt to calm her.
    ‘What is it Leila?’ Her mother asked, sincere concern filled in her voice she could feel Leila’s heart beating so fast and loud. 
    Leila was too shaken to talk & deep down she was too scared to tell her parents about what had just happened to her because she knew they wouldn’t believe her, she could still feel a little bit of pain on her thigh, what happened to her was no accident, there was something hunting her, she had to find out who and why.
    Her father yawned loudly, ‘Leila what was all the screaming about? I hope you didn’t wake us up just to play games with us.’
     ‘Daniel, how could you be this insensitive can’t you see how shaken up she is?’
    He chuckled, ‘We both know she can be a drama queen. This could all be an act.’
    Jada gave her father an evil eye unable to believe he had just said that, couldn’t he see the fear in Leila’s eyes? Leila was too shaken up to make all this up.
     ‘Let me get her some water,’ Jada said and left the room.
    She came back later and handed her the water, Leila grabbed the glass of water from her sister and gulped it down eagerly she began to calm down after a few moments.
    ‘What happened?’ Her mother asked again.
    ‘There was someone in this room,’ her voice cracked in her throat.
    Her father laughed, ‘Try something better.’
    ‘Dad!’ Jada yelled
    ‘I think this is my queue to get back to bed, I have no time for all this,’ he walked out and slammed the door behind him.
    ‘Don’t mind him,’ Jada said.
    ‘Mum I swear I am not making all this up, he was here and he was touching me.’
    ‘Who is he?’
    ‘I don’t know but I feel like someone keeps following me and hunting me.’
    ‘Hun, maybe you are just imagining things.’
    ‘That’s the problem with you. You never believe what I say you are just like dad.’
    ‘Leila, baby!’
    ‘No don’t touch me, you know what just go back to bed let me deal with this on my own.’
    ‘Maybe you should see a psychiatrist & ……….,’ she began talking but Leila cut her short.
    ‘You think I am mad?’ she asked eyes wide open.
    ‘No, talking to a professional might help, maybe all these things happening can be clinically explained.’
    Leila breathed a sigh, ‘I think I need to get back to sleep please leave me alone.’
    ‘Leave mum!’’ she snapped.
    ‘Fine,’ her mother turned to leave, she gave Leila one last glance before walking out of her room.
    ‘What are you still doing here?’ She asked Jada
    ‘I will sleep here, I want to watch over you I swear I won’t ask a question neither will I suggest anything silly.’
    Leila smiled, ‘Then you are free to spend a night here.’
    ‘That was uncalled for,’ Abby said as she got back into bed with her husband.
    ‘This is bound to happen.’
    ‘Why have the nightmares become so frequent?’
    ‘Your daughter might have done something to offend Ngozi.’
    ‘What? You think she had sex?’
    ‘No I doubt she had sex maybe she has a boyfriend.’
    ‘Don’t you think I would have known?’
    ‘That girl is secretive trust me you wouldn’t know if she had a boyfriend.’
    ‘So how do we deal with this?’
    ‘I will go over to the Kalufyanya’s tomorrow they will be able to give us some answers.’
    ‘Alright hun,’ she yawned silently.
    ‘Please get some rest,’ he leaned over and kissed her, ‘goodnight.’
    Jada lay silent for a while before she spoke, ‘Tell me about the nightmares,’ she said
    ‘I thought you said you wouldn’t ask questions.’
    ‘Leila I want to help you but before I do that you need to open up to me.’
    Leila closed her eyes as flashes of the dream came back to her, the man in the black cloak, Owen, the weird laughter plus what she had experienced in her room. She shook her head to clear those horrible images.
    ‘Talk to me,’ her sister held her hand.
    ‘I have been having these strange dreams for years now, at some point they had completely gone but now they are back and they seem so real.’
    ‘What are they about?’
    ‘A strange man whose face I haven’t been able to see but tonight was so different, this man he strangled Owen to death.’
    ‘Couldn’t you reach out to him in the dream?’
    ‘I woke up before I could do that and when I did wake up I couldn’t move, neither could I scream and then my door opened and closed on its own, I felt a strange presence in my room, someone was here I could feel his hands on me. Then there was this sharp pain on my thigh before I managed to wake up.’
     ‘This is all so strange.’
    ‘Yes it is, I have been hearing voices as well. What if I am going crazy, what if mum was right and I need to see a psychiatrist?’ Fear rose in her voice.
    ‘Leila you are not mad but I fear if you don’t find a solution soon, you might actually end up going mad for real.’
    ‘What should I do?’
    ‘I know a traditional healer that could be able to help you.’
    ‘You do?’
    ‘Yes I do, I will make an appointment for us.’
    ‘As long as he is able to help me get rid of these dreams then I am game.’
    ‘Great, aren’t you going to call Owen?’
    ‘oh ya.’
    She got her phone and dialed his line but it took her straight to voicemail.
    ‘It’s off, I guess I will have to call him the morning.’
    ‘Sure thing.’
    ‘Good night.’
    ‘Good night sis.’
    Jada instantly drifted off to sleep. Leila lay there for a long while before she was able to fall asleep again.

    Chapter 7

    The next morning, Leila woke up with a start at the rattling sound of her alarm clock she let out a yawn as she reached across her stand and turned off the alarm. Jada was still asleep but Leila knew she wouldn’t be for long. 
    Leila slipped out of bed careful not to wake Jada she went straight to the bathroom, brushed her teeth and slipped out of her night gown which she stuffed into her laundry basket then she sat on the toilet seat to relieve herself and that’s when she noticed something strange marks on her left thigh.
    Leila took a closer look & she was stunned to see a symbol of a heart & the word ‘Mine’ inked on her inner thigh of her left leg. She froze and started breathing heavily, what was the meaning of all this? Who could have done this?
     ‘Whose am i?’ she asked no one in particular.
    ‘Mine,’ came a harsh whisper and then louder, ‘Mine’
    ‘Leave me alone, what the hell do you want from me?’ she yelled
     She heard a chuckle followed by a louder, ‘Mine,’
    Then a deep rumble of laugh echoed throughout the room.
    ‘No,’ her breath came in deep gulps.
    He kept laughing and saying that she was his.
    The laughter suffocated her she crumpled to the ground and curled into a ball while covering her ears with both hands to escape the noise.
    Leila didn’t know how long she been in that position till she heard a voice, ‘Leila are you okay?’
    It was Jada asking, Leila could tell from the tone in her voice that her sister had just woken up.
    ‘Yes,’ her voice trembled.
    ‘What’s the matter? I heard screaming.’
    ‘Um…,’ she was thinking weather to tell her or not about the strange things that had just happened to a few minutes ago.
    ‘Talk to me,’ her sister worriedly said
    Leila stood up and opened the door for Jada, ‘Come in.’
    ‘What‘s the matter sis?’
    Leila took a deep breath and let it go, ‘I had one of those strange encounters.’
    ‘Tell me about it.’
    ‘Look!’ Leila pointed towards the tattoos on her thigh
     Jada’s mouth dropped wide open in disbelief, ‘Leila when did you do this?’
    ‘I didn’t.’
    ‘I don’t understand.’
    ‘I woke up today and found this on my thigh, Jada you have to believe me I didn’t do this, you know how much I hate tattoos.’
    Jada glanced up at her sister, she could see in her eyes the same fear that she had seen the previous night, she had to find a way of helping her out or else these strange occurrences would drive her insane
    ‘You have to believe me?’ She desperately said.
    ‘I believe you Leila but all this has come to an end, we need to go out there and search for answers.’
    ‘What of that traditional healer you talked about?’
    ‘Mama Zuka!’
    ‘Can we go there now, please?’
    ’The woman in question is related to my friend Bertha I hear she is very powerful but we need to make an appointment before we go there.’
    ‘So how do we make an appointment and how long does it take for her to accept to see us.’
    ‘I will talk to my friend to make an appointment for us.’
    ‘Please do sis I am desperate, I will pay any amount of money.’
    ‘I will talk to Bertha once I get to school.’
    ‘Thank you for not doubting me Jada.’
    ‘I know you would do the same for me.’
    She smiled, ‘I am lucky to have someone as kind as you for a sister.’
    Jada laughed, ‘I am gonna grow wings.’
    ‘And I will cut them off.’
    ‘Dah, let me get myself ready for school.’
    ‘Sharp, I will take a quick bath too hope the strange man doesn’t come back.’
    ‘Hope so,’ she opened the door and closed it on her way out.
    Once Leila was alone, she tried to examine the tattoos on her thigh she was scared to death with the strange happenings around her. She decided to take a bath and tried to wash off the tattoos but they wouldn’t come out.
    Frustrated she stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel she walked back to her room and quickly got dressed then she walked out of her room to the dining room where she found everyone seated at the large table ready to have their breakfast.
     She was almost going back when her mother called her, ‘Hey hun come and join us.’
    Leila faked a smile, ‘Morning,’ she said
    ‘Morning,’ her father looked up at her, ‘Is that dress appropriate for work?’
    She was wearing a white and gold summer short sleeved dress which was slightly below her knees.
    ‘I think its okay,’ her mother responded.
    He cleared his throat, ‘I want to see you wearing longer clothes next time.’
    ‘But dad…’ Jada started but her father gave her the evil eye, she sneered at him but she shut up.
    ‘Jada, you must be more concerned with your school work, this being your final year I want to see you clear with flying colours.’
    ‘And you,’ he turned to Leila, ‘you need to start behaving like a married woman, take time to be in the kitchen, take part in all the house chores and please dress decently no married woman dresses seductively.
    Leila gave her father a hurt look, for a minute there she wondered if he was really her biological father.
    ‘Honey let’s eat the food is going to be cold,’ his wife said
    For a few minutes they ate in silence though Leila wasn’t paying any attention to her food because of the deep sense of dread bubbling in her stomach.
    ‘I have to go now,’ Daniel stood up. He planted a soft kiss on his wife’s forehead.
    ‘Take care of yourself love.’
    Leila watched as her father walked out the door she was slowly starting to hate him, what sort of a father would marry off his child without her consent.
    Jada stood up, ‘I have a test at 9 I need to get going. Do you need a lift?’
    Leila managed a weak smile, ‘Nah I will walk.’
    ‘You are sure?’
    ‘Yes. A walk will do me good I have a lot on my mind that I need to clear off.’
    ‘Okay, I will see you then.’
    ‘Okay,’ she turned to leave.
    ‘And you won’t say bye to me?’ her mother asked.
    ‘Bye mum,’ she said, hurrying off before he mother could respond.
    ‘I think I should get going,’ Leila stood up too.
    ‘You can use my car.’
    ‘I will be fine mum.’
    ‘Leila um, I ….,’ she fumbled with the words
    ‘Just save it mum.’
    She grabbed her hand bag and headed out the door.
    Her place of work was thirty minutes away from her house. As a child Leila dreamt of becoming a nurse but her father would not hear of it instead he forced her into becoming a teacher & now she was working as a third grade teacher, she found this job really frustrating but she couldn’t quit because of her father would skin her alive.
    So there is too much ghosting here & it’s really demolishing. Let’s try to leave feedback so I know if the story is making sense or people aren’t enjoying it.

    Chapter 8

    Daniel pulled up in front of the Kalufyanya’s Mansion he stopped his car and stepped out then he walked to the gate, when he knocked at the gate, a security guard name Ronald came to answer.
    ‘Ati bwanji bosses!’
    ‘Bwino bwino, baliko bamudala?’
    ‘Eh. Come in,’ he stepped aside to allow him in.
    Ronald led him through the house to the living and he took his seat.
    ‘I will call him for you.’
    As he waited, Daniel removed his phone from his pocket and started texting.
    ‘Hello Daniel.’
    He looked up at Mr. Kalufyanya the man had not aged a day since the last time they had met.
    ‘Hello,’ he stood up and offered his hand in greeting, they shook hands then both men sat down.
    ‘Can I get you anything to drink?’
    ‘No I am okay, besides I won’t be staying for long I need to get to work.’
    ‘So then let’s get straight to business, what brings you here after a long time?’
    Daniel took in a deep breath and let it out slowly to try and relax as much as possible, this man scared him a lot.
    ‘It’s my daughter Leila.’
    Mr. Kalufyanya smiled at the mention of Leila’s name, ‘What is wrong with our wife?’
    ‘She has been experiencing some terrible nightmares and it seems she is seeing strange things.’
    He laughed, ‘It’s almost time, my son is restless he can’t wait to be with his wife.’
    ‘Oh is that so?’
    ‘Yes & I hope you have started grooming our wife for marriage.’
    He smiled, ‘we are doing all we can sir those these strange occurrences are starting to get to her.’
    ‘When it’s time all shall be revealed unto her but for now let her remain in the dark.’
    ‘Since that is cleared, I think I will be on my way,’ Daniel stood up.
    ‘Pass my regards to our in law and please let her avoid dating so we don’t lose any more lives.’
    Daniel gave the old man a puzzled look, ‘I don’t understand.’
    ‘Oh Daniel keep your eyes on the ground so you don’t miss what’s happening. You have eyes but you can’t see.’
    ‘Is there anything I need to know?’
    ‘Your daughter has been seeing someone and as we speak that young man is battling for his life, I doubt he will make it he is as good as dead. The only good thing about all this is that Leila is still pure she did not give herself to him.’
    ‘Fuck,’ Daniel sat back down.
    ‘You know what’s at stake if your daughter misbehaves, my son has been lenient this time around but the next time this repeats itself………,’
    ‘It won’t get that far, I will handle Leila,’ Daniel cut him short.
    ‘Good,’ he smiled, ‘now let me get you a drink before you leave.
    Audrey was standing beside her brother’s hospital bed, her eyes were red and swollen she had cried the whole night, her brother was fading right in front of her eyes and she couldn’t do anything to save him.
    She looked around the ward, they were patients lined up on beds in neat rows most of them were hooked to life support the room was quiet silent- the only noise she could hear was that from the electronic beeping.
    ‘Lord please don’t let him die, he is all I have got,’ she sniffed
    All of a sudden, Owen let out a low moan and he opened his eyes he stared at Audrey but didn’t say a word.
    ‘Owen,’ she gasped
    Then she hurried out of the room and called for the Doctor, ‘My brother, he just opened his eyes,’ she said breathlessly.
    Owen’s eyes were still open and looking through the doorway when they rushed back into the room.
    ‘What’s happening to him?’
    ‘Please wait outside while we attend to your brother,’ the nurse pushed Audrey out the door.
    Audrey couldn’t keep still she paced back and forth her heart beat rapidly, she silently prayed for a miracle.
    A while later, the doctor walked out of the room.
    ‘Doctor how is he doing?’ she asked almost immediately
    The doctor shook her head, ‘I am sorry Audrey we lost him.’
    For a moment Audrey’s heart stopped, she was frozen by what the doctor said.
    ‘You can’t be serious,’ she trembled
    ‘I am sorry for your loss.’
    She ran back into the room, her tears being to well as she stared at her brother’s lifeless body. ‘Owen you should have fought hard, Owen how am I supposed to live life without you, Owen please wake up,’ she shook him
    ‘Kosa mummy, kosa,’ the nurse comforted her.
    She shot the nurse an ugly look and shook her head.
    After a few minutes she left the room and went to sign the necessary documents.
    ‘Once again, I am sorry for your loss take heart,’ the doctor said
    ‘Thank you,’ she wiped her tears with the palm of her hand and walked out.
    She went straight to the car park, stepped into her car and drove out. Instead of driving home, she drove straight to Leila’s place of work.
    Leila tried Owen’s number for what seemed like the hundredth time that day but she got the same response she had this unsettling feeling at the pit of her stomach, this feeling terrified her, she hoped Owen was doing fine.
    She jumped back as a loud knock came to the door, ‘Teacher Leila you have a visitor,’ one of her students Rachael called out to her.
    She cleared her throat, ‘Alright hun,’
    She had looked herself up in the stuff room while the kids had their break. She stood up and walked out hoping to see her best friend only to find it was Audrey.
    ‘Hey Audrey,’ she said warmly ‘Are you okay?’ she asked
    Leila could see something was wrong with Audrey, she looked a mess.
    Tears quickly spilled from Audrey’s eyes as she stared at the woman responsible for her brother’s death.
    ‘Audrey what’s going on? Are you okay?’ Leila worriedly asked
    ‘How do you expect me to be okay when you have taken from me the only thing that made my life sane?’
    ‘What are you talking about?’
    ‘Owen is dead?’ her voice broke, ‘You killed my brother Leila.’
    ‘Owen is dead?’ Leila gasped in surprise
    ‘You fucking killed my brother.’
    ‘Audrey I don’t understand, what are you saying? Owen can’t be dead.’
    ‘He is dead you and your fucking boyfriend killed him.’
    ‘I love Owen I would never cheat on him all this was a misunderstanding.’
    ‘You loved him?’ she asked as a wave of rage flooded through her and without thinking twice she pounced on Leila and began to hit her on the face.
    ‘What’s all this commotion?’ the other teachers rushed out and pulled Audrey away from Leila.
    ‘I will kill her like she killed my brother,’ Audrey yelled
    Leila was astonished she was too weak to respond to Audrey.
    ‘Please madam you have to leave,’ one of the teachers said to Audrey.
    Audrey spat on the floor, ‘You haven’t heard the last of me,’ and with that said she marched out of the room.

    Chapter 9

    Audrey opened her car door she slid in and slammed it shut, she was angry if only Owen had stayed single he would still be alive. Owen was the light of her life now that he was gone, how was she going to cope.
    She started her car and sped into the main road, she couldn’t wait to get home so she could lock herself up and mourn her brother in peace.
    She rode home in silence lost in her own thoughts. As she approached her street, a shadowy dark figure suddenly appeared in front of her car, she immediately slammed her foot on the brake and her car jolted to a halt.
    ‘Oh God,’ she gasped
    Audrey had never seen anything like this, the figure that was standing in front of her was wearing a black hooded robe that was tied in the middle with a thick leather belt & black leather gloves covered its hands.
    ‘Who are you?’ she trembled
    The figure looked at her with red blazing eyes & Audrey felt a sense of evil all around her.
    ‘What do you want from me?’ She asked, her voice was low
    ‘You attacked me,’ he said in a husky voice
    ‘Attacked you?’ she asked, confusion written all over her face.
    ‘Yes & now I am going to end your pathetic life like I did to your brother.’
    Her heart beat accelerated at the mention of her brother’s name, she opened her mouth and tried to scream but no sound came from her lips, she tried to lift her hand  so she could open her car door but she couldn’t, her whole being was still.
    ‘Hahahahahahah,’ a burst of evil laughter escaped the Figure’s throat.
    Audrey had a look of sheer panic on her face, the road ahead her was completely empty no one was going to save her from this monster.
    ‘You attacked and injured me, now I am going to take my revenge,’ it said in a low powerful voice.
    Audrey was confused, she had no idea what he was saying and who he was she couldn’t even remember a time when she had attacked him.
    Just then it stretched his hand towards her with its palm upwards and Audrey felt a tight grip around her neck. Then she suddenly started gasping for air as if someone was strangling her- slowly sucking out the life out of her.
    As this went on, her face turned redder and redder, her eyes started to bulge out of their sockets and she could see shades of black slowly appearing in her vision. After several minutes, all the fight left her & she was ready to give up.
    The dark figure let out another one of its evil laugh and within an instant, Audrey felt weak, a large groan escaped her lips and she collapsed backward into her car seat.
    ‘Are you okay? Who was that woman? Should we call the police?’ Marjory who was one of the senior teachers worriedly asked Leila.
    Leila took a deep breath.’ I am okay Marjory.’
    ‘But why was she attacking you?’
    Leila wiped her eyes with the palm of her hand, ‘It’s nothing serious,’ she lied.
    ‘I think you should go home and rest, come back tomorrow.’
    She stood up, ‘Thank you very much Marjory.’
    Leila went back to her class she grabbed her bag and bid her children goodbye before she left.
    As soon as she left the school premises, a large wail escaped Leila’s lips and hung in the air, the shock of Owen’s death was like a punch to the stomach, one minute he was okay and they were making plans for the future, next minute he was badly bruised and now he was no more everything was happening at a fast pace and she couldn’t keep up.
    ‘Owen why? You should have fought hard for me, for us,’ she cried as tears of frustration and sorrow escaped her eyes.
    Onlookers all stopped and stared at her but no one dared to get close to her. Three hours or more had passed from the time she left the school, Leila wandered around the streets aimlessly she couldn’t go home like this. She didn’t have the strength to face her parents on a day like this, she just wanted to be left alone she wanted to mourn her loss without any distractions.
    It was almost 18:00 now, Leila walked towards one of the community play parks, the place was dark and quiet she found herself a spot at the far end of the park and sat down feeling hopeless, each breath she took made her chest ache and her head felt as if it were split into two, she just wanted to die.
    Leila didn’t know how long she had sat in that position till she felt a hand touch her shoulder, startled she turned around to see a man standing behind her, she had been so lost in thoughts she had not heard him walk up to her.
    ‘Sorry I didn’t mean to scare you,’ he said. His voice was deep but very soft.
    Leila responded with silence.
    ‘Are you okay?’ He asked
    ‘Just leave me alone please,’ she whispered softly.
    ‘I know it’s none of my business but you shouldn’t in this place at this time, it’s getting late and you might easily be attacked.’
    ‘You are right, it’s none of your business,’ she clicked her tongue.
    He laughed, ‘Come let me take you home.’
    ‘Can you just go about your business and leave me alone?’
    ‘I can’t leave you here all alone. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to you.’
    ‘Mxxxm, you are such a bore,’ she stood up and started walking towards the gate.
    ‘Hey wait up,’ he ran after her
    ‘What now?’
    ‘My car is over there, let me drive you home.’
    ‘What if you are a serial killer?’
    He chuckled ‘I would have already murdered you if I was one.’
    ‘Okay what?’
    ‘You can take me home.’
    She had no energy to argue with him and if he was a serial then he would do the world a good deed by getting rid of her.
    He opened the car door for her and she slid into the passenger seat, when she was finally settled in, he went around to the other side, climbed in and started the car.
    They drove in silence for a while.
    ‘Where is home?’ he spoke softly
    She cleared her throat she wasn’t ready to go home not in the state she was in.
    ‘Are there any hotels around this place that I could spend a night in?’ she asked.
    ‘You don’t want to go home?’
    ‘No, I have a lot on my mind I just need to be alone.’
    ‘Then you are coming home with me,’ he said
    ‘I don’t know you I can’t come home with you.’
    ‘Hi I am Chuibuye,’ he extended his other hand to her.
    She laughed, ‘Leila.’
    ‘Good to meet you Leila, I am taking you home with me,’ he said before he focused his eyes back on the road.
    The night had suddenly become darker for him he had been watching her from a distance all along, anger flared through his veins like never before as she settled into the car before the Chibuye drove off.
    ‘How could she go with him just like that? Didn’t she know she was taken? Hadn’t she seen his mark on her thigh? Why was she suddenly allowing other men to take his place, he was slowly getting impatient, the thought of another man touching her was driving him insane, he didn’t want to hurt her but her actions were making it hard for him not to now he was going to have to mark her permanently.
    He let out a large growl like that of a wolf before disappearing into the darkness.

    Chapter 10

    The sunlight glazed through the window shining directly into her eyes.  Leila stretched her mouth into a loud yawn and slowly opened her eyes.  She scanned the room turning her head slowly to the left and then to the right but nothing looked familiar, this wasn’t her room.
    She looked down at her body and noticed she was wearing pajamas, they were light pink and though they weren’t hers they fit her perfectly.
    ‘Where the am i?’ she thought, ‘Have I been kidnapped?’
    Just then Chibuye came bursting through the door, ‘Morning sunshine,’ he smiled exposing his perfectly white teeth.
    As soon as she saw Chibuye, a sudden wave of relief overcame her.
     ‘Morning,’ she responded smilingly.
    ‘How did I end up in this bed & why am I wearing this, did you see me naked?’
    A slow smiled spread across his face and he licked his lips, ‘last night was amazing, I must say you have a perfect body I loved seeing you naked. Can you perhaps strip for me again?’
    ‘Oh lord,’ Leila panicked.
    ‘It’s fine if you don’t want to I just thought we are past being shy after last night’s performance.’
    Leila closed her eyes and tried hard to remember what happened and all the events leading up to her ending up in this bed.
    After they had gotten to Chibuye’s house he had asked her to take a bath while he made them something to eat. She remembered taking her bath and changing into a chitenge she always carried in her bag and Chibuye’s T-shirt before joining him. They had dinner in silence because she didn’t feel like talking and afterwards, he had given her a glass of wine to calm her nerves.
    ‘You drugged me?’ she accused, ‘that wine you gave me was it all a plan to get me into your bed?’ She asked her face suddenly wrought with tension.
    ‘Girl you willingly stripped for me and asked me to go down on you. The rest is history.
    ‘Oh lord no,’ Leila’s eyes got watery. ‘Did you at least use protection?’
    ‘You asked me not to, you said condoms are itchy. Damn girl you have skill, where did you learn to shake like that?’ he asked & though he almost laughed, he managed to keep a serious look on his face.
    Leila couldn’t hold out any longer, she burst out crying, ‘my father is going to kill me how could you do this?’
    Chibuye looked at her for a while before he chuckled out loud, ‘Oh Leila you are such a bore, you think I could take advantage of you.’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘Nothing happened, you just had way too much to drink and I had to carry you to bed and change you into this.’
    Leila sighed heavily and began to relax, ‘Wait you still saw me naked.’
    ‘Yes I did, nice body by the way,’ he whistled
    She grabbed a pillow and tossed it at him, laughing ‘Pervert.’
    ‘You look cute when you cry, you should try that often,’ he laughed
    She quickly wiped her eyes, ‘You almost gave me a heart attack.’
    ‘Why did the idea of sex with scare you too much haven’t you done this a number of times.’
    She covered her face with both hands embarrassed by his probing ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’
    ‘OMG,’ he gasped when realization hit him.
    ‘What?’ she asked puzzled.
    ‘You are a virgin.’
    ‘Shut up,’ she said, still covering her face with her hands.
    He sat on the bed next to her and lowered her hands, ‘How old are you?’
    ’I will be 25 in a few months,’ she responded quickly.
    ‘And you have never had sex, what planet do you live on?’
    She rolled her eyes, ‘Mars.’
    ‘I won’t even argue. So why haven’t you had sex yet?’
    ‘I am waiting for Mr. right.’
    He laughed aloud mockingly, ‘Forgive me, I just find this funny.’
    ‘You don’t believe in love or you don’t think there is such a thing as Mr. Right?’ she asked
    ‘Well that’s a story for another day but can I be Mr. Right so I can tap into it?’
    ‘Tap into what?’ she asked confused.
    ‘Tap into that cookie, I want to be your first,’ he licked his tongue again.
    She shook her head, ‘You are such a fool you know that?’
    ‘So I have been told,’ he laughed.
    ‘Where is my phone?’
    ‘It’s charging, I turned if off because I didn’t want the calls to disturb you.’
    ‘How considerate,’ she smiled.
    ‘Okay it’s time for your bath.’
    ‘Okay, she stood up.
    ‘I will get you some clean clothes.’
    He squeezed her ass as she bypassed him to go to the bathroom, ‘Pervert,’ she smiled and ran to the bathroom.
    She stripped off her pajamas, stood in front of the mirror and stared at herself in the eye, she felt so happy. Even though she didn’t know Chibuye that well she felt so much comfortable around him, he made her forget her sorrows.
    She smiled to herself as she reached for a new toothbrush and tooth paste then she started brushing her teeth. After brushing her teeth, she ran herself a hot bath she slipped into the tab and began washing herself.
    When she emerged from the tab, she dried herself and went back to the bedroom. She was amazed to find he had made the bed and gotten her some clean clothes as promised. He had gotten her a pair of blue ripped jeans, a white sheer lace top and a new set of underwear.
    ‘Come down for breakfast when you are done bathing,’ the note on the bed read.
    As soon as she finished getting dressed, she walked slowly out of the room into the hallway she wandered down the corridor and into the living room then into the dining room.
    He flashed a smile when he saw her, ‘You look beautiful.’
    ‘These are too tight and the top shows a lot of skin,’ she frowned
    ‘A little skin never hurt anyone.’
    ‘Oh please, she rolled her eyes.
    She pulled back one of the chairs and sat down. He offered her a cup of tea and handed her a plate of breakfast.
    ‘I hope this isn’t drugged,’ she said taking a small sip from her coffee.
    ‘It wouldn’t be such a bad idea to drug you I mean I could get to see you naked again.’
    ‘Such a fool,’ she shook her head.
    He laughed.
    ‘This is delicious,’ she said with a mouth full of eggs and bacon, a while later.
    ‘Weren’t you taught never to talk with food in your mouth?’
    She rolled her eyes and continued eating.
    ‘What were you doing in the park last night all alone crying?’ he asked
    There was silence for a while Leila wasn’t ready to open up her life to him.
    ‘I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable it’s okay if you don’t wanna say.’
    ‘I …….um, I,’ she fumbled with her words, ‘I just lost my boyfriend,’ she finally said.
    ‘Oh Leila, I am so sorry.’
    She managed a weak smile, ‘it’s okay, he died mysteriously, I don’t even think I will allowed to go for his funeral,’ she said
    There was sadness written all over her face.
    ‘Long story but can we please change the subject.’
    ‘Cool. What do you want to do today?’
    She looked up at him,’ I have to go for work and then go back home, my father is gonna kill me.’
    ‘How about we miss work for the day, forget about home and your father, let’s hung out and have some fun.’
    ‘That doesn’t seem like a bad idea, it will help me take my mind of things, I can always deal with dad later.’
    ‘It’s a date then.’
    She enjoyed the next few hours with Chibuye they laughed and talked about a number of things. He took her horse riding at Bridlewood stables, it was a very good experience for Leila, later they had lunch and he took her out shopping, all this while her phone was off she would worry about her father later, she just wanted to enjoy herself and see a different side of the world she had not been exposed to.

    Chapter 11

    Leila and Chibuye had a great time, they had so much fun that they lost track of the time and before they knew it, it was almost 21.
    ‘I think I need to take you home before you father murders me,’ he said after they had dinner together.
    She frowned and nodded in agreement then he drove her home.
    Chibuye pulled up in front of her gate thirty minute later, ‘I had a great time,’ he said with a smile as he held her hand.
    ‘I did too,’ she said shyly.
    This was the first time in a very long time Leila had so much fun.
    ‘I look forward to seeing you again.’
    ‘Me too!’
    Chibuye stepped out of the car. He closed the door and walked around to her side and opened the door then he took her hand and helped her out of the car.
    ‘Is this the part where I kiss your brains out and make your knees go weak?’
    ‘In your dreams,’ she giggled
    He kissed her on her forehead and said, ‘see you later baby,’
    She cleared her throat, ‘Baby.’
    ‘Yes baby.’
    ‘Whatever! See you,’ she opened the gate and walked in
    ‘Back to reality,’ Leila thought a she walked towards the door, she knew she was in trouble but her day with Chibuye was worth all the trouble.
     She took a deep breath and opened the door.
     ‘You are back! Where have you been?’ Jada said as I walked in the door.
    ‘Not now Jada,’ she brushed her off.
    ‘We were so worried about you Leila, Dad has been pacing back and forth in the living room fuming with anger he is going to kill you.’
    Leila managed a smile, ‘I am old enough to handle dad.’
    ‘I don’t like the sound of that Leila, you know dad is ruthless.’
    Leila ignored her sister and went straight into the living room. She locked eyes with her father she could see the fury in his eyes. When her mother noticed her, she rushed over and embraced her. She hugged and cried for a minute.
    ‘I was so worried about you Leila, where did you go? Are you okay?’
    ‘I am fine,’ she replied
    When her mother finally let her go, her brother Alfred looked at her with a blank face devoid of any emotion whatsoever. It was no secret that Alfred preferred Jada to her and Leila had come to accept this simple fact.
    She turned to her mother, ‘I am going to lie down for a while.’
    She turned to walk out of the room but her father grabbed her by the arm.
    Leila turned to face him, ‘What!’ she asked.
    ‘Where have you been and why are you dressed like hooker?’
    ‘Dad, I am really tired and I need to rest if you will excuse me,’ she turned to leave again but her father held on to her hand.
    ‘Do you want to bring shame to this family?’ he angrily asked.
    ‘What have I done?’
    ‘What have you not done you ungrateful child,’ He yelled.
    ‘Where did you sleep?’
    ‘Daniel please take it easy on her,’ his wife pleaded with him.
    ‘I should take it easy on her? You do know the implications of her actions. A married woman sleeping out, what am I going to tell her in-laws?’
    She could hear the anger in her husband’s voice reach its peak.
    ‘I am not a married woman, just let me live my life the way I want to,’ she yelled back at him.
    ‘Shut that dirty mouth of yours you silly girl,’ Alfred blurted out
    ‘Or else what Alfred?’ she yelled louder and angrier, ‘I am tired of being treated like an outcast in this house, if you don’t want me then let me go.’
    ‘Leila….,’ her mother began but she cut her short.
    ‘Save your speech woman, sometimes I wonder if you are really my mother.’
    ‘Leila,’ her mother whispered as her eyes got watery.
    ‘You are a disgrace to motherhood, I wish I was…….,’
    Before she could finish her sentence, her father slapped her across her face with all his might, she fell backwards and hit the floor.
     ‘I am going to show you who the head of this house is.’
    ‘Hit me all you can, you think I will be afraid, huh.’
    Leila felt another sharp pain in her face.
    ‘Hit me, yes hit me kill me if you want, are you even my real father,’ she turned her face and glowered her hatred at him.
    ‘You ungrateful brat,’ he slapped her again.
    ‘Daniel please,’ his wife pleaded.
    ‘Mum don’t interfere this child of yours needs to be taught a lesson.’
    ‘Dad let her go, ‘Jada cried tears rolling down her cheeks.
    ‘Stay out of this all of you,’ Daniel bellowed
    He carried her to his study and dropped her to the floor then he went back to the door and locked it.
    ‘You dare disrespect me in my own house Leila. Where did you sleep?’
    She responded with silence.
    ‘Where did you sleep?’ he kicked her but still got no response.
    ‘By the time I am done with you, you will be able to tell me where you slept.
    He removed his belt and doubled it around his fist- the buckle end hanging loose.
    ‘You will not bring shame to this family,’ he whipped her, the metal buckle biting into her flesh and tearing her blouse.
    Leila let out a blood curdling scream.
    ‘Daniel please let her go,’ his wife screamed while pounding on the door.
    He continued to beat her unmercifully, she yelled and cried.
    The more she cried, the harder he whipped her. Her entire body felt as if it was on fire & blood was spilling from her wounds.
     ‘Where did you sleep,’ he kept shouting as he swung the belt down on her.
    ‘I slept at a friend’s house,’ she responded when she couldn’t take it no more.
    Her tears were flowing freely
    ‘What friend! Did he touch you! are you still a virgin?’ He asked breathing hard.
    ‘She nodded.’
    ‘I am taking you for testing tomorrow, I really hope you are really untouched, he whipped her one last time and left the room.
    She lay motionless on the floor, every part of her body burned with pain, how could a father be that cruel to his own flesh and blood.
    ‘Oh Leila,’ her mother came rushing through the room.
    ‘Please don’t touch me,’ she said softly.
    ‘Leila please, let me help you.’
    ‘I will help her,’ Jada said.
    ‘I am sorry,’ tears fell down on her mother’s face like heavy raindrops. It hurt to see her daughter go through such pain but there was nothing she could do.
    Jada held her sister’s bloody hand and slowly lead her to her bathroom.
    Four days had passed since her father whipped her mercilessly, her wounds were slowly beginning to heal and she was now able to seat down.  In those four days she had been confined to her room, she just wanted to be alone so she could heal peacefully.
    ‘Leila,’ her father burst into her room.
    She looked up at him, ‘Yes.’
    ‘Get ready we are going to Mam Zyambo’s house.’
    ‘Be out in ten I don’t have all day,’ with that said he marched out.
    She took a deep breath and stood up, Mam Zyambo was the woman in charge of examining her to see whether she was still a virgin or not.
    Leila hated her father for what he was doing to her but she hated her mother more for not protecting her from him.
    Leila dressed up in a yellow long dress that fell to her toes, on her feet she wore a pair of black slippers she tied her hair behind and didn’t bother with her makeup. Then she grabbed her phone and walked out of the room, her father was reading a newspaper in the living room.
    ‘I am ready,’ he said.
    He looked up from the paper, ‘Great,’ he smiled.

    Chapter 12

    Leila stepped out of the car and walked to the gate, pushed it open and entered. Her father promised to pick her up later.
    ‘Leila,’ Mam Zyambo looked up at her with a smile. She was sitting on the verandah, both her legs outstretched, a plate of rice on her laps.
    Leila walked over then she knelt in front of her and bowed her head.
    Mam Zyambo placed her hand on her back and said some words under her breath before asking Leila to take a seat.
     ‘Welcome my child, I have been expecting you.’
    She managed a weak smile, ‘Thank you.’
    They sat in silence for a few minutes before Mam Zyambo spoke.
    ‘Do you know you are set to be married a few months from now?’ she asked
    Leila nodded her head she hated talking about the upcoming marriage, she didn’t even want to think about it, deep down she hoped all this was just a bad joke.
    ‘You need to start behaving like a married woman. Sleeping out and wearing skimpy clothes is for women on the streets not a bride to be.’
    ‘Has anyone asked me if I want to get married?’ she asked in an angry tone, she was offended at the fact that everyone was forcing this marriage on her.
    ‘It’s not about what you want my child,’ Mam Zyambo smiled, ‘Your parents brought you into this world and they raised you into this beautiful girl, they have the right to find you a suitor when they see it fit.’
    ‘You think it’s fair that they want to force me into this marriage? Why should it be me?’
    ‘My child,’ she coughed, ‘some questions are better left unasked, don’t go around seeking for answers, the answer you get might not be pleasant to your ears, your parents know better why they chose a suitor for you.’
    She stood up, ‘This marriage talk is just stressing me,’ she yelled
    ‘Hush! A married woman must always speak in a low and soft tone,’ Mam Zyambo said, ‘Marriage a beautiful thing I am sure in time you will learn to love your husband, stop stressing instead embrace your destiny.’
     ‘Oh please,’ she clicked her tongue.
    ‘I see there are a lot of teachings that you need to undergo before your wedding.’
    ‘ Wedding!,’ Leila exclaimed, she had no idea they were even planning a wedding. ‘What wedding are you talking about?’ she eyed Mam Zyambo with a puzzled expression.
     ‘You don’t expect to be married off without a wedding Leila, your marriage will bring honor to your family, your father will marry you off in a grand style.’
    Leila shook her head in disbelief she had to find a way out of this one.
    A while later, Mam Zyambo led Leila to a small hut at the back of her house where an older woman wearing a white robe and gloves was sitting on a grass mat. Leila looked at the woman anxiously, her heart beating really hard.
    Leila got down on her knees, ‘Mwauka Bwanji,’ she greeted.
    ‘Nauka bwino,’ she responded with a serious face. This woman rarely smiled.
     ‘I will be outside,’ Mam Zyambo said before walking out.
    The woman instructed Leila to take off her dress and made her lie down on her back with her legs spread out then she reached between Leila’s legs and opened her vagina with both hands before she inserting her fingers and pushing them inside.

    ‘Ouch! Owl! Ouch!’ Leila exclaimed loudly, it really hurt.
    Leila hated being examined in such a way it was embarrassing, degrading and humiliating she felt like a whore.
    A few minutes later, the woman pulled out her fingers then she clapped and cheered with excitement.
    This meant that Leila’s hymen was intact & she was still a virgin.
    Mam Zyambo rushed into the room ululating as she danced, she danced around the room while the other woman clapped louder.
    ‘Congratulations my child, your father will be really proud.’
    ‘Can I get dressed now?’ Leila asked with her voice cracking as she fought back the tears.
     ‘Yes you can,’ Mam Zyambo smilingly responded, she was really proud of Leila if only own children could be like her.
    Leila stood up and quickly got dressed she was feeling shameful and dirty.
    He pulled up in front of the gate and hooted impatiently. Mam Zyambo opened the gate and walked towards the car.
    ‘Is it good news?’ He asked anxiously
    She smiled, ‘You raised a great girl she is untouched.’
    He let out a sigh of relief, ‘That’s awesome news I was really worried.’
    ‘You don’t have to anymore I have talked to her about a few things, she will come around soon.’
    ‘I hope so because these days she is becoming rebellious.’
    ‘Daniel, give the girl a little break allow her some breathing space this must be hard on her.’
    ‘It’s hard on everyone but what’s done is done, she has to accept her fate.’
    ‘She will.’
    He got some money from his pocket and handed it to her, ‘Thank you very much.’
    ‘You are always welcome Daniel let me get her for you.’
    Leila walked out a minute later she had a pained look on her face she didn’t even look at her father, she opened the door and got into the back seat.
    The two rode back in silence, each one buried in their own thoughts.
    As they neared home, Leila’s phone rang waking her from her reverie, she looked at her phone to see who was calling it was Chibuye. Leila didn’t feel like answering her phone so she cut the call and put the phone in her bag.
    A few minutes later the phone rang again. She fished around her bag and pulled it out.
    ‘Hello,’ she answered
    ‘Thank God you are alive I thought the worst had happened. How are you?’
    ‘I am okay.’
    ‘You sound off, tsup and why have you been avoiding my calls?’
    ‘I am okay i am just a little held up with work.’
    ‘Is that so?’
    ‘Leila what’s going on?’
    ‘You don’t sound okay.’
    ‘I am okay you don’t have to worry about me.’
    ‘Did someone pop the cherry and now you are feeling depressed for not giving it to me instead?’
    Leila chuckled, ‘You are crazy.’
    ‘Crazy for you!’
    ‘Shut up,’ she laughed.
    ‘Can I see you today?’
    ‘Let me text you later, I can’t respond now.’
    ‘Please, pretty please.’
    She laughed again and this made her father irritated but he kept his cool.
    ‘I will text you,’ she insisted.
    ‘I will just show up at your door step then.’
    ‘Please don’t.’
    ‘Then come and see me.’
    ‘Okay.’ She responded.
    ‘Can’t wait to see you.’
    ‘Bye,’ she hung up.
    ‘Who was that?’ Her father asked as he pulled into their driveway.
    ‘Haven’t you done enough, will you start monitoring my calls too?’
    ‘Don’t raise your voice at me young lady.’
    ‘I am really tired dad, I can’t deal with of this,’ she opened the car door and stepped out.
    She walked into the house without looking back at him, slamming the door behind her.
    ‘Are you okay?’ Jada asked when she walked in.
    ‘No,’ she shook her head. ‘I am tired Jada, I just want to die.’
    ‘Don’t talk like that, come,’ she held her hand and led her to her room, surprisingly Daniel didn’t follow them.
    ‘How did it go?’
    ‘It went okay, I am still untouched and you would think that will make your father happy but no he still wants more.’
    ‘Forget about dad for a while. I have some good news.’
    ‘What is it?’
    ‘Mama Zuka is ready to see us.’
    ‘That’s great news maybe she can grant me the answers to the questions in my head.’
    Meet  Jada

    Chapter 13

    ‘Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’ the pastor who was performing Owen’s burial ceremony concluded his message.
    He looked at Audrey ‘You may come forward and place the first dirt on the coffin.’
     Sitting in a wheelchair, Audrey was pushed up to where the coffin was she took a handful of dirt from the shovel and sprinkled it over the casket before being wheeled away.
    She was devastated, tears were rolling down her cheeks, she couldn’t understand why life had decided to do her this bad, ever since Owen was attacked it had been one misfortune after another, as if losing her brother was not enough, Audrey was now paralyzed from the waist down and her voice was gone.
    A neighbor who had found her unconscious in her car had rushed her to the hospital. After waking up, Audrey had tried to speak out but no voice materialized fro her mouth.
    The doctor had been unable to give her a diagnosis only that she couldn’t walk nor talk. This was a big blow for Audrey it was as if life was punishing her for all her wrong doings.
    The pastor said his final words and gave the last rites then the coffin was lowered.
    Audrey felt her heart break all over again as she watched the coffin disappear into the hole, it was done her little brother was gone and never coming back, she was all alone.
    After the coffin was lowered, the pastor cast some holy water on the ground then he finished off with a prayer and people started going back to their vehicles.
    Jada walked into Leila’s room where she found her standing in front of the mirror on the dresser.
    ‘I can’t seem to find the right clothes to wear,’ she told her sister.
    Jada laughed, ‘I wouldn’t want to be you right now your clothes bore me.’
    ‘Shut up,’ she hit her on her shoulder playfully.
    ‘Wait let me get you something from my closet.’
    ‘It had better not be anything explicit like that dress you are wearing.’
    ‘You are such a bore, this is a sexy dress,’ she rolled her eyes.
    ‘I will pass if it’s anything like that.’
    ‘Oh please,’ she walked out of the room.
    She walked back in a few minutes later carrying a one shoulder emerald green jumpsuit which had a belt around the waist.
    ‘What is this?’
    ‘Try this, I bought it a few weeks ago I am sure it will fit you perfectly.’
    Leila cleared her throat wondering if she would be comfortable in such.
    ‘Come on Leila.’
    She stripped off the dress she was wearing and slipped into the jumpsuit.
     ‘You looking amazing, this one was perfectly made for you. Now let me do your make up.’
    ‘Don’t put too much make up on my face,’ said Leila as she sat on the stool in front of her mirror. Jada quickly did Leila’s make up and styled up her hair.
    ‘I am done here,’ she said a few minutes later.
    Leila completed her look with a pair of nude heels.
    ‘Perfect,’ Jada said, she picked her phone and purse before they marched out of the room.
     ‘Where are you two going dressed like………,’
    ‘We are going for a friend’s birthday party,’ Jada cut her father short.
    ‘Yes daddy, Leila needs some fresh air let her breath a little.’
    ‘Daniel, it’s just a party and nothing else please don’t ruin our night,’ said Jada
    Daniel shook his head in disbelief Jada was the only one capable of challenging him.
     ‘Come Leila,’ she held her sister’s hand and they walked past their father to the door.
    ‘How do you do that?’ Leila asked when they were finally settled into Jada’s car.
    ‘Do what?’
    ‘Challenge dad like that, talk back at him and defile his rules.’
    Jada laughed, ‘You guys treat him like a God I treat him like a human being.’
    ‘If it were me speaking to him like, I bet he would have slapped me.’
    ‘Don’t allow him to treat you like trash ever again, stand up for yourself Leila.’
    ‘I will try to,’ she responded.
    ‘Imagine if he found out we are not even going for any party,’ she laughed.
    ‘Don’t talk like that, he would kill me.’
    ‘Loosen up a little bit girl, your father trusts me.’
    They listened to loud music till they got to their destination.
    ‘So this is where we part ways,’ Jada said
    ‘Alright, I will see you later.’
    ‘Have fun try not to think about your crazy father, I will pick you up in about two hours.’
    ‘Cool, have fun too.’
    She stepped out of the car and walked towards the gate she pushed it open and walked straight to the door. After she knocked twice Chibuye opened the door and greeted her with a wide smile spread across his face.
    ‘Come in,’ he ushered her into the living room.
    ‘Mmmmmm,’ he licked his lips eyeing her from head to toe.
    ‘You look hot.’
    ‘Thank you Chibuye.’
    ‘That thank you doesn’t sound genuine.’
    ‘Don’t start,’ she rolled her eyes.
    ‘Since you didn’t allow me to take you out, I was forced to cook.’
    ‘I am not hungry.’
    ‘You are boring.’
    ‘Tell me something I don’t know.’
    ‘You know what, feel at home, let me set the table, you will watch me eat.’
    Leila sat on the couch and pulled off her shoes.
    He led her to the dining table a while later and they sat down to eat. 
    They ate in silence though Chibuye noticed Leila was barely touching her food.
    ‘Are you okay?’ he finally asked.
    ‘Yes! I am fine, tsup?’
    ‘You have hardly touched your food and that look on your face. Is it about Owen?’
    ‘Owen was buried today and I couldn’t even go for that funeral, I just saw posts on facebook from his friend, but he is the least of my problems,’ she said setting her folk down.
    ‘I just have a lot going on Chibuye right now my head is spinning. I think coming here wasn’t a good idea after all. Maybe I should just go,’ she stood up.
    ‘Hey! Hey!’ Chill, Chibuye grabbed her hand, ‘Talk to me what’s going on?’
    ‘A lot if going on I don’t even know where to start from.’
    ‘How about we sit down and you can tell me all about it, I promise I won’t judge.’
    She responded with silence.
    ‘A problem shared is a problem solved, talk to me Leila please,’ he pleaded.
    She managed a weak smile, ‘I am engaged to be married Chibuye,’ she said.
    ‘What?’ he asked, there was shock written all over his face.
    ‘Yes, I just found out a few weeks ago, apparently my parents married me off before I was even born.’
    ‘That’s absurd.’
    ‘Yes and now my father has been monitoring my every move, I am not allowed to make any decisions on my own, he literary controls my every move.’
    ‘Are you for real?’
    ‘Yes. You asked me last time why I am still a virgin, well my father takes me for testing almost every time apparently I have to be a virgin when I get married.’
    ‘No offence but your parents are stupid, this is abuse. Have you even met the man you are set to marry?’
    ‘Not yet, apparently I will meet him on our wedding day.’
    ‘Lord this is absurd who does that?’
    ‘My parents apparently.’
    ‘I don’t even know what to do anymore because the days keep drawing closer.’
    ‘How long do you have?’
    ‘Seven months, I am set to get married on my 25th Birthday.’
    There was an awkward pause before he opened his mouth again. ‘I know what about to say is stupid but I think it’s the only solution?’ he asked.
    ‘Let me take you away from here, Let’s elope.’ He stated.
    My net was bad last night, I could hardly get through facebook.

    Chapter 14

    ‘Elope!’ she exclaimed, ‘That’s the craziest thing I have heard in years.’
    ‘I am not joking Leila, let’s elope.’ He had a serious look on his face.
    ‘You are not joking?’
    ‘No I am not.’
    ‘You hardly know me, why would you want to elope with me.’
    ‘The truth is that I haven’t stopped thinking about you since we met. I was drawn to you the first day I set my eyes on you.’
     ‘I am a mess Chibuye, there is a lot going on, I wouldn’t want to put your life in danger. Owen died mysteriously I haven’t gotten over his death,’
    ‘Owen is dead Leila and as much as you loved him, you need to let go. He can’t help you but I can, allow me to help you even as a friend. Please!’
    ‘My father has connections, he will look for us till he finds us and when he does he will kill us both, I don’t want your blood in my hands.’
    ‘I can take care of myself I have my own connections too. You have seven more months before your arranged marriage that’s more than enough time to find you a place to relocate to without your father knowing.’
    ‘No,’ she shook her head, ‘I can’t do that Chibuye I really can’t it’s too risky.’
    ‘Leila,’ he held her hand.
    ‘I can’t I am sorry, there is so much at stake.’
    ‘You are making a grave mistake here Leila I could be your only help.’
    ‘I can’t spend my whole life running away, I need to face this.’
    Chibuye drew in a deep sigh,’ You are not going to change your mind are you?’
    ‘No I won’t, thank you for trying to help though,’ she managed a weak smile.
    Leila would have loved to start over in another place with someone like Chibuye but she knew her father would find them and if he did all hell would break loose, then there was the strange ghostly figure that was hunting her plus the tattoos on her thighs, there was just a lot she had to figure out on her own before accepting Chibuye’s help.
    They spent the rest of the evening lost in their own worlds, there was nothing more to talk about.
    At almost 21, the sound of a car hooting at the gate woke Leila from her thoughts.
    ‘That’s my sister I’ve got to go’ she said.
    She stood up, picked up her purse and shoes heading towards the door.
    ‘Huh,’ she turned.
    ‘My offer is still on I will be here if you change your mind.’
    ‘I doubt I will change my mind but thanks for trying to help,’ with that said she opened the door and walked out, he didn’t try to follow her.
    ‘Hey,’ she closed the car door and sat down.
    ‘So I had a great evening,’ Leila said excitedly.
    ‘How was your evening?’
    ‘Just okay?’ Jada enquired.
    ‘Just drive me home,’ tomorrow is a busy day.
    Jada sensed something was wrong with sister but she didn’t ask her anymore questions.
    When they got home, Leila went straight to bed.
    ‘Leila! Wake up, we are going to be late,’ Jade woke her up
    She rolled over to check the time on her phone it was 6 in the morning.
    ‘Isn’t it too early,’ she yawned.
    ‘Lazy ass just wake up, if miss this appointment it will take months for us to make another one.’
    ‘Fine,’ she got up and walked to the bathroom.
    ‘Be quick in there,’ Jada said before she went to take a bath herself.
    It was the morning they were finally going to visit Mama Zuka with the hope that she would give Leila a solution to her strange dreams.
    Leila took a real quick shower and by the time it was 6 thirty, she was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.
    ‘Are you ready?’ Jada poked her head into the room
    ‘Yes I am.’
    ‘Let’s hit the road then.’
    She picked her phone and walked out of the room, Jada grabbed an apple and a bottle of water on her way out.
    Leila got into the car and Jada started the engine, she was anxious and agitated, a part of her wanted her to be convinced that Mama Zuka could help her out while another part told her otherwise, she had read a lot of stories about fake traditional healers and she just prayed Mama Zuka was real.
     ‘Lighten up a little bit Leila,’ Jada said as if reading her mind.
    ‘What if she fails to give me the answers to the questions I have.’
    ‘Mama Zuka is a powerful woman Leila, she never fails.’
    ‘You sound so sure, has she ever helped you out with something?’
    ‘She has helped Bertha a lot of times and I have seen results.’
    ‘I see.’
    ‘So my friend Bertha was telling about some girl called Isabel who visited Mama Zuka last year. She wanted charms to tame her boyfriend unfortunately she didn’t follow the instructions mama Zuka gave her.’
    ‘So what happened to her?’
    ‘She ended up being arrested and she went blind too.’
    ‘Yes blind and in jail, so you need to pay attention to all the instructions she gives you.’
    ‘She sounds creepy.’
    ‘Don’t tell me you want to go back home,’ Jada laughed.
    ‘I would lie if I say that thought hasn’t crossed my mind.’
    ‘Sometimes I wonder if you are even my sister, be a little adventurous.’
    ‘I don’t want to die young.’
    ‘Suit yourself mother Theresa.’
    When they finally arrived, they parked the car on the side of the road and walked to the house because the road was bad. They weren’t many houses around this place and Mama Zuka’s house seemed to the biggest house around.
    They pushed past the gate and walked into the yard.
    At the door they met a young lady who instructed them to take off their shoes and place a k100 as consultation fee on the table.
    ‘Welcome and please take a seat, mama will see you in a bit,’ she pointed to a stool.
    They both anxiously sat down and waited.
    Several minutes later, a well dressed young woman emerged from the house she put on her shoes quickly and left.
    ‘It’s your turn now,’ the girl they met earlier told them.
    They stood up and she led them to a room at the far end of the corridor.
    ‘Knock whenever you are ready,’ she turned and left.
    Jada was about to knock but Leila held her hand back.
    ‘What?’ Jada asked.
    ‘Do you think this is a good idea?’ she whispered, ‘we could still go back.’
    ‘Really now!’Jada rolled her eyes and she tapped on the door.
    ‘Come in.’
    They pushed the door open and walked in, they smell of herbs instantly hit their noses. There was a traditional crafted mat in the middle of the room and at the far end was a table filled up with a collection of her medicines.
    Mama Zuka looked really old and her skin was wrinkled, she was wearing a black silk dress with bells on her ankles.
    Jada cleared her throat to make their presence known, Mama Zuka looked up at them- her eyes instantly found Leila’s eyes and locked.
    All of a sudden there was a shift in the pressure of the room and the walls began to shake so much that it seemed they would break apart.
    ‘What’s happening,’ Jada asked,
     But before anyone could respond, everything went back to normal.
    ‘Leila! Queen of the night, daughter of darkness,’ Mama Zuka exclaimed.
    Then she fell on her face bowing to the ground while holding Leila’s feet.
    ‘Blessed are you among women! ‘You are the most beautiful woman on earth & your beauty surpasses all jewels upon this earth.’
    Leila looked at Mama Zuma and felt confused, why was this woman bowing down to her in this manner.
    ‘What’s the meaning of this?’ Jada blurted out.
    ‘To what do I owe this visit my Queen?’ she looked up at Leila.
    ‘I think you have the wrong person, I am no queen I am just a simple person.’
    ‘You are not an ordinary person Leila, you are a Queen.’
    Leila laughed, ‘Is this what you call powerful?’ she asked her sister.
    ‘I am as confused as you are,’ Jada shook her head.
    ‘Coming here was a big mistake, this woman is not normal, she has some lose screws. Let’s get out of here before I lose it.’
    Leila turned to leave.
    ‘You have been having strange and weird dreams a man in a black hooded cloak has been monitoring your moves. You are 24 years old but still a virgin because your husband wants you to be pure on your wedding night,’ Mama Zuka said
    ‘How did you know all that?’ she asked, disbelief evident in her voice.

    Chapter 15

    ‘I know more than you can ever imagine Leila, you are such a powerful force & in your presence I feel like my powers are worthless.’
    ‘Can you help us or not?’ Jada asked obliviously irritated.
    Mama Zuka looked at Leila, ‘Please sit down.’
    ‘I hope all this is worth it,’ she sat down.
    ‘An unfortunate event occurred before you were born and that event led to your being appointed as queen, the man you are set to marry is not an ordinary man, he is a king. He is so powerful he could strike us all dead with a twinkle of an eye.’
    ‘Who is this man do you know where he lives perhaps?’ Jada asked.
    Mama Zuka laughed, ‘Oh yes I know where he lives but it’s not my duty to tell you that, when the time is right, he will avail himself to you.’
    ‘You sound just like my parents, this is absurd.’
    ‘This is your fate Leila, it was sealed even before you were born, you were never your parent’s to begin with you have always been his. He has watched you since you were a little girl, he has been here each step of your journey.’
    ‘I have had enough of this nonsense.’
    ‘You may travel the world if you have to but no one will ever give you answers before it’s time, the best you can do is accept what has already been done so that you don’t put the lives of others in danger.’
    ‘What if she refuses to marry him? What if she runs away?’
    ‘You can run but you can’t hide from him, he is everywhere.’
    ‘He can’t be everything, he is not God,’ Jada said defensively.
    ‘In our kingdom, he is God and for the sake of your family you better not try anything silly because he will kill you all one by one. You are the ultimate sacrifice you are your family’s Messiah. You can’t get out of this one Leila.’
    ‘Lord I can’t do this anymore, coming here was a mistake in the first place,’ Leila stood up.’
    ‘You are right,’ Jada stood up too.
    ‘How much do we owe you for this little talk?’ she asked mockingly
    ‘I can’t make you pay my Queen.’
    ‘I am not a Queen please don’t call me that.’
    ‘The sooner you accept who you are the better for everyone else, besides the kingdom needs someone fresh, someone young like you.’
    ‘This is just bullshit you are just a lousy liar.’
    She removed a few hundred kwacha notes from her purse and placed them on the table, ‘I think we have overstayed our welcome.’
    ‘May you live long my Queen,’ Mama Zuka exclaimed.
    ‘Mtchew,’ the sisters clicked their tongues in unison and left.
    As they walked out of Mama Zuka’s compound Leila felt her heart shutter, Mama Zuka was her only hope at unveiling the truth but now she was more confused with everything Mama Zuka had said. Why would she be made queen of a kingdom she knew nothing about, who exactly was she getting married to and why had he chosen her in the first place.
    On their way back home, both Leila and Jada were quiet, they were each lost in thought.
     ‘Chibuye asked me to elope with him,’ Leila finally broke the silence.
    ‘He did?’
    ‘And what did you say?’
    ‘I said no, I thought this Mama Zuka was going to help me.’
    ‘But what do you think about all she said.’
    ‘There is more to this than what mum and dad are saying.’
    ‘I think we need to confront mum.’
    ‘Mum is dad’s puppet I doubt she would tell us anything.’
    ‘We could try though.’
    ‘This is all so confusing Jada, the dreams I have been having, Owen’s death, the tattoo, my supposed marriage, I just feel these events are connected.’
    ‘Yes they are connected, but who will give us answers?’
    ‘I don’t know.’
    ‘Wait I have an idea.’
    ‘What?’ Leila asked almost immediately
    ‘We could go and visit one of these famous Prophets. I have heard a friend of mine from school talking about this powerful man of God.’
    ‘We don’t even pray Jada, how will this man of God help us.’
    ‘He performs miracles and he sees beyond what we see, I am sure he can help us.’
    ‘Where do we find him? At this point I am desperate to find answers.’
    ‘He is always comes to Chichi’s primary school every Friday, we can go there this Friday. The key is to go early and catch him before his haling service.’
    ‘Okay I am in.’
    ‘Great, I swear I will help you get help for you even if it means exchanging my life for you.’
    ‘When did you become this loving? As far as I am concerned you hated my guts.’
    She laughed, ‘I have always loved you Leila, I was just a little Jealous about you and how cool and calm you are.’
    ‘Oh shut up, why should be jealous about me?’
    ‘Because you are my sister, the only best friend I will ever have.’
    ‘You are such a doll. I love you.
    ‘I love you more.’
    Chibuye awoke to what sounded like someone was trying to open his bedroom door, he sat up abruptly and when he looked up, he saw a large man standing in the doorway he was wearing a black cloak with a really big hood.
    Chibuye thought this man was a criminal and he was here to rob him.
    ‘Please don’t kill me, you can get anything you want but please spare my life,’ he begged in a shaky voice.
    The stranger stared at Chibuye for what seemed like an eternity. His eyes were glowing a deep royal blazing red and they scared the hell out of Chibuye.
    Finally he broke the silence, ‘She is mine,’ he said over and over
    Trembling so badly Chibuye asked, ‘Who are you and who is yours?’
    ‘She is mine and you must stay away from her,’ he said this time yelling
    ‘Please stop screaming,’ he said shaking with fear.
    ‘If I wanted to kill I would have done that already,’ He laughed out really loudly, ‘Leave her alone and no harm will behalf you. You have been warned.’
    ‘You have been warned! You have been warned! You have been warned!’
    The stranger screamed as he walked towards Chibuye.
    ‘Spare my life please,’ Chibuye cried
    The stranger raised his hand to slap Chibuye and just before his hand landed on Chibuye’s face, the whole world went black and he collapsed on his bed.

    Chapter 16

    He crept into her room late that night, it was dark and peaceful. She was lying in bed all tangled up in her sheets, Leila was a beautiful woman she didn’t need to apply makeup or lipstick, she was perfect just like that.
    He squatted next to her bed and watched her turn and toss in her sleep.
    He had watched her since she was a baby, he had seen her blossom into this beautiful woman, he had no doubt she would make a beautiful queen. Her innocence and purity was what drew him more close to her.
    Being able to see her and not do anything was becoming torturous to him, though he had the power to make her his that instant, he couldn’t. He wanted their first time to be special not only for him but for her.
    Eventually he slipped into bed next to her, though he couldn’t make her his that instant, he needed to feel her close to him he needed to smell her scent.
    He moved closer and wrapped his hands over her then he whispered into her ear, ‘You are mine!’
    She was sound asleep when she heard someone whispering into her left ear, ‘You are mine,’ the voice said softly.
    ‘You are mine & only mine,’ he whispered again.
    Then she felt the energy of someone lying next to her while touching her.
    Startled she opened her eyes and she saw the dark figure lying next to her.
    ‘It’s only my imagination,’ she thought.
    She tried to get up but she couldn’t, it was like someone was holding her back.
    she wanted to scream.
    ‘Don’t Leila,’ he lifted a finger to her lips and shushed her.
    A shiver ran through her spine, this wasn’t her imagination. The figure was real he was in her bed holding her. Question was what did he want from her?
    ‘You are mine I won’t hurt you Leila,’ his red eyes locked into hers.
    Then he began to kiss the nape of her neck, she was terrified, her heart was racing, she couldn’t catch her breath.
    A few minutes later, she felt him rubbing her leg
     ‘Please stop,’ she tried to talk but she couldn’t it was as if her voice was stuck in her throat.
    He had only intended to lie next to her in bed but he found himself slowly getting carried away, desire was over clouding his judgment, being this close aroused him.
    The warmth of her legs tempted him to slide his hand up her thighs then he hooked his fingers into the waistband of her panties and just when Leila thought he was going to pull them down, he stood up, walked towards her door and disappeared through it.
    She sat up abruptly, sweat was dripping down her face, her whole body was shaking the dark figure had almost abused her.
    She crawled out of bed and headed out of her room to Jada’s room. Jada was sitting upright on her bed, heavily breathing.
    ‘Are you okay?’ Leila went close to her.
    ‘Yes,’ she responded when her breathing became stable.
    ‘I thought you would be sleeping.’
    ‘I just woke up, I had a strange dream. What’s your story?’
    ‘The dark figure was in my bed, he was touching me inappropriately Jad I am scared, what does this all mean, who is this figure?’
    ‘Leila, I have been thinking about all these strange encounters of yours.’
    ‘I think this dark figure you keep seeing is the man you are set to marry.’
    ‘No!’ she gasped in disbelief.
    ‘I know it sounds absurd but think about this. You wake up one day and someone has marked tattoos with the words ‘Mine’ on your thigh. Your boyfriend dies mysteriously after being beaten by a man named Chilufya, you don’t know any Chilufya, Mama Zuka bows down to you as queen and says you are set to marry a king and now this dark entity is touching you….’
    ‘Are you thinking what I am thinking?’ Leila worriedly asked.
    ‘Yes, you might be married to a spirit Leila
    ‘No! No!’ she shook her head.
    When he woke up hours later, he got out of bed and searched the entire house for an intruder but the place was empty and all his doors were locked. Chibuye was confused, if there was no one in the house but him, who was that strange man and where did he enter from.
    ‘Maybe I was just dreaming,’ he thought to himself. But deep down he knew the encounter he had was too real to just be a dream.
    ‘She is mine,’ he could literary hear the man’s voice in his head
    And he kept replaying the disturbing image of that strange man staring at him.
    He took a deep breath, ‘It’s just a figment of my imagination,’ he said to no one in particular.
    He headed to the kitchen and made himself a cup of strong black tea. He pulled out a chair and sat down at the kitchen table.
    After he finished drinking his tea, he stood up and headed for the bathroom, Chibuye was determined to put that strange encounter at the back of his head.
    He stripped of his clothes and stepped under a cold shower, the water was cool and refreshing, his body began to relax and he felt deeply calm.
    He had just gotten out of his shower and was drying himself with a towel when he looked at the steamed up mirror in the bathroom. There was a handprint on the mirror and he noticed it was a man’s hand because of its masculine finger shapes and the wide base of the palm.
    He blinked his eyes at least twice to be sure the hand on the mirror was real.
    The hand print was still there even after he opened his eyes again.
    Chibuye Froze, had someone played a trick on him that hand print wasn’t on the mirror when he walked into the bathroom he was sure of that. He looked at the door and it was still locked so no one could have gotten in.
    Unable to find an answer to what was happening, he got a wet clothe and wiped the hand print off the mirror and just when he thought he had everything under control, the words ‘She is mine,’ appeared on the mirror out of  the nowhere.
    Chibuye stared at the words on the mirror speechless and awestruck.
    ‘Lord what’s happening?’ He asked no one in particular.
    Suddenly a loud laughter erupted from the corner of the room and the words on the mirror where instantly erased.
    His mind was racing, he was freaked out, how could he possibly explain these strange happenings?
    He went back to his room and got dressed quickly. He was too tense to think straight, everything was just so confused.
     ‘She is mine,’ he heard someone whisper in his ear.
    Blood of Jesus, he screamed then he reached for his bible and went straight to Psalms 23. Though Chibuye was certain of God’s existence he wasn’t a regular churchgoer though he prayed and read his Bible once in a while.
    After reading the scripture out loud for a few minutes, he went to his living room and poured himself an abnormal portion of whiskey and drank it in two gulps.
    ‘It’s all over,’ he thought to himself before he decided to take a walk around the hood.
    I was unwell last night, that’s why I was there was no insert.
    The insert we missed last night will be covered up tomorrow.
    Meet,  Leila

    Chapter 17

    She paced her room back and forth, her heart beat faster at the thought of marrying a spirit.
    Yes she knew her parents were wicked but to marry her off to a spirit, could they be capable of such an inhuman act.
    Maybe the dark figure wasn’t real, maybe she had just been seeing things and he was just a mare creation of her imagination.
    ‘But how do I explain the tattoo on my leg?’ She asked no one in particular.  ‘Could Jada have been right about her suspicions?’
    Leila pursed her lips and rubbed her sweaty palms together, the idea of the dark figure being her supposed husband was sickening. She hoped the prophet would provide her with answers to the many questions she had.
    She was woken from her reverie by the vibration of her phone. She picked it up and read the text message from Chibuye ‘I need to urgently see you.’
    ‘Hey are you okay?’ Leila asked
    Another message came through on her phone, ‘I am not okay can we meet please.’
    She really needed someone to talk to about all the things that were happening and she knew Chibuye would be good company.
    ‘Come and pick me at 15:00 after work,’ she replied.
    ‘It’s a date then.’
    ‘It aren’t no date, we will just be talking about a bunch of useless things.’
    ‘I will see you later baby.’
    She placed her phone back on the table and walked straight to the bathroom. Leila practically jumped into the shower and sighed as the cold water coursed over her. She stepped out of the shower ten minutes later & dried herself.
    She opened her closet and pulled out a purple pencil skirt and a white blouse. She quickly got dressed and walked out of her room, with her hand bag slung over her shoulder. She found the rest of the family having breakfast.
    ‘Morning,’ she greeted as she headed towards the door.
    ‘Aren’t you having breakfast hun?’ Her mother asked.
    ‘No,’ she shook her head.
    ‘Need a lift?’ Jada asked
    ‘I am fine.’
    ‘Have a good day at work then,’ Jada said
     ‘Thanks sis,’ she responded and walked out
    The walk to the school was about twenty minutes Leila arrived at seven fifty, ten minutes before class started. She hurried off to her class to prepare for the lessons ahead. The idea of spending the whole day with noisy children infuriated her, she wasn’t passionate about teaching this wasn’t her thing.
    ‘Morning Leila,’ Marjory smilingly greeted her.
    She turned to face her, ‘Hey Marjory.’
    ‘How have you been, your father said you were taking a few weeks off work.’
    ‘He did?’
    ‘Yes so I am surprised to see you here.’
    ‘Oh. I feel a whole lot better now so I am fit to work,’ she faked a smile.
    ‘If you say so but please don’t hesitate to take time off anytime you are unwell.’
    ‘Okay,’ she nodded her head.
    ‘That aside, your father told me about your upcoming marriage, congratulations girl, how come you never said anything about that?’
    Leila shook her head, ‘I was waiting for the right time to tell you,’ she lied.
    ‘I am so excited for you girl, I didn’t even know you had a boyfriend.’
    ‘I didn’t know either,’ she said under her breath.
    ‘Say what?’
    ‘So where is your engagement ring, have you started planning the wedding?’
    Leila was quiet irritated with Marj’s probing, this was a sensitive issue to her, she had no idea why her father was telling the world that she was getting married.
    ‘With all due respect Marj, I don’t want to talk about my upcoming marriage.’
    ‘Oh,’ she said disappointedly.
    ‘Alright hun, I will see you later, feel free to come to me when you need advice concerning weddings and marriage in general.’
    ‘Okay.’ Leila said quiet irritated.
    Marj walked out of the room and went straight to her office.
    She took a deep breath before she turned to the pupils who had just walked into the classroom, she greeted them with a smile and big bear hugs, despite not having a passion for teaching Leila loved to treat her pupils with love.
    As soon as everyone was in class, she started with her first lesson for the day.
    Time seemed to be going faster than normal that day and before Leila knew it, it was already 15:00. The pupils ended their day with their class prayer then they grabbed their bags, waved good bye to Leila and rushed out of the class.
    As soon as the last pupil walked out of the class, Leila started packing her books so she could leave. She had nearly finished packing when Marj knocked on her door and she poked her head into the classroom.
    ‘There is a good looking gentleman looking for you outside.’
    ‘Oh, I will be out in a bit.’
    ‘Not that it’s any of my business but is he the man you are set to marry?’
    ‘No Marj, Chibuye  is just a friend.’
    ‘Such a yummy friend, tell him I am single and searching,’ she smiled
    ‘I will do just that Marj.’
    ‘Okay, I will keep him company as you finish up,’ Marj said before she closed the door and walked away.
    Leila shook her head in disbelief, before she went back to packing her books. When she was done, she picked her hand bag and headed towards the door.
    When she got to the reception, she found Marj and Chibuye talking, they were sitting so close to each other.
    Leila cleared her throat before speaking, ‘Chibuye!’
    ‘Hey stranger,’ He stood up almost immediately.
    ‘Hello to you too,’ Leila faked a smile.
    Chibuye stepped closer to her and kissed her cheeks, ‘We missed you,’ he whispered
    Leila blushed.
    Marj stood up, ‘It was nice seeing you Chibuye,’ she said
    ‘Pleasure is mine.’
    She walked back to her office.
    ‘What was that all about? Leila asked Chibuye.
    ‘I should be asking you, didn’t you send her to keep me company.’
    ‘Oh please,’ she rolled her eyes.
    Chibuye grabbed her bag from her and lead her to the car.
    He drove for close to an hour and Leila wondered where he was taking her too but she didn’t ask. Finally they arrived at a restaurant on the outskirts of town. He got out of the car and opened the car door for her.
    He held out his hand to her, she took it and he lead her towards the entrance.
    ‘Why didn’t you say to were bringing me to such a nice place, I would have dressed better,’ Leila frowned.
    ‘You look awesome I bet you would look awesome even in rugs.’
    She laughed, ‘Chaffed for years!’
    ‘I just wanted to bring you somewhere different.’
    At the reception, Chibuye gave his name for the reservation and they were shown to their table at the far end of the room, the room was cozy and small.
    Leila sat down ‘I love this place,’ she whispered.
    ‘I am sure you will love their food more,’ he pulled a chair and sat down too.
    They looked at the menus on the table before the waiter arrived and asked them to order.
    After the waiter left, an awkward silence fell before them.
    ‘So!’ they finally said in unison.
    Leila laughed, ‘Sorry you go first,’ she said.
    He gave her a tight smile, ‘Ladies first.’
    ‘So,’ she began, ‘My sister and i went to see a traditional healer a few days ago.’
    ‘A traditional healer?’
    ‘Yes, I have been having some strange dreams and I have been seeing this dark figure in a black hood with glowing eyes.’
    ‘A dark figure?’ He asked, eyes wide open
    ‘How long has this been going on Leila?’ he asked
    ‘This figure has haunted my dreams for as long as I can remember at first I thought the figure was a figment of my imagination but now I don’t know what to think anymore and my parents think I am just making everything up.’
     ‘And what did the healer say?’
    Their food arrived before she could respond to his question.
    ‘Well the healer said some strange things, she bowed down to me and called me a queen, she said my husband is quiet a strong and powerful figure.’
    ‘That’s strange so what’s the way forward.’
    He couldn’t tell her he too had been seeing the strange dark figure because he didn’t want to worry her.
     ‘I want to seek help from a man of God and if that doesn’t work then I don’t know where else to seek for answers.’
    ‘This is bigger than you, I am willing to help you find a solution, when are you going to see the prophet?’
    ‘This Friday.’
    ‘I will go with you.’
    ‘Why are you helping me though, what do you want to gain from all this.’
    ‘It’s no secret that I like you, yes I know you are set to be married but I can’t help it, I just want to see you happy, I want you to be free Leila.’
    She smiled, ‘Thank you,’ she said as she looked at Chibuye feeling like a massive weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

    Chapter 18

    Leila pushed the door open and softly walked into the living room Chibuye had just dropped her home.
    She greeted her parents but they didn’t respond, she was about to walk past them into her room when her father called her name.
    ‘Where were you this evening?’ he asked glancing at his wall clock.
    ‘I went out with a friend after work, I am sorry I lost track of time.’
    ‘Who is Chibuye and why did he pick you up from work today?’
    Leila’s heart slammed hard against her chest, she knew she was in trouble but how did her father know about Chibuye, did he have her followed?
    ‘When I warned you about boyfriends you though I was crazy, didn’t you?’
    ‘Dad Chibuye is just a friend there is nothing between us.’
    ‘How many times am I going to tell you to behave like a married woman, do you want to bring destruction upon this family huh is that what you want?’
    ‘Aside from the fact that I am being forced to marry someone I don’t know, I am not allowed to have a social life too?’ She angrily asked
    At that she felt a hot slap across her face, ‘Don’t fuck with me Leila,’ her father yelled in his harsh voice.
    ‘I am tired of this humiliation and I am tired of being treated like garbage. If you don’t want me in this house anymore then I will leave,’ she yelled back at him.
    Leila had had enough and this time around she wasn’t going to stand by and watch him her like this, she was going to fight back with all her might.
    ‘Leila please don’t talk to your father like that,’ her mother pleaded
    ‘You and your husband are birds of the same feathers, shameless people.’
    ‘How dare you?’ Her father asked, she could see the anger in his eyes.
    ‘Every single day I am more than convinced you people aren’t my parents.’
    Her father was infuriated, he raised his hand to slap her again but this time around, Leila grabbed his hand and pushed him down.
    ‘Not anymore father, I will not allow you to abuse me anymore.’
    ‘Leila!’ Her mother screamed in disbelief
    ‘The minute you raise this filthy hand on me again, I swear I will kill you,’ she yelled through gritted teeth.
    ‘So you have grown big headed,’ her father laughed.
    ‘Call it whatever you want but don’t you dare hit me again, I am tired of your abuse.’
    He stood up, ‘Young girl you don’t know me very well.’
    ‘Daniel let her be,’ his wife pleaded
    She turned to Leila, ‘Please go to your room.’
    ‘With pleasure,’ Leila mumbled to herself before she left for her room.
    Daniel was furious, his daughter was turning out to be a problem and if he didn’t find a solution soon, destruction would befall his family.
    ‘Abby you need to talk to that girl, did you just hear what she said.’
    ‘You are putting too much pressure on her Daniel, can’t she live a little.’
    ‘I am doing what’s expected of me, you need to do what to do too. Don’t get too attached to the idea of having her with you always.’
    ‘I kept her in this womb for nine months, she sucked these breasts and I watched her take her first step, tell me how could I have not gotten attached?’
    ‘You knew she wasn’t yours in the first place.’
    ‘I just hate to see my daughter in so much pain.’
    ‘There is nothing we can do about it, you know the consequences.’
    ‘Can’t she elope can’t we say no to this?’
    Daniel laughed, ‘Abby we have been through this already.
    Take a deep breath take a bath and just calm down.’
    ‘Do you even care about her, did you ever love our daughter.’
    ‘She was never ours Abby.’
    Abby shook her head,’ talking to you is a waste of time.’
    Daniel shook his head, before he stood up and headed for his bedroom.
    Leila had just finished taking her bath when someone knocked on her door.
    She threw on a bath robe and slightly opened the door.
    It was her mother.
    ‘How can I help you?’ asked Leila,
    ‘Can I come in?’
    ‘I need to rest mother please.’
    ‘What do you want from me?’ she asked annoyance in her voice
    ‘I just want us to talk.’
    ‘Fine,’ she stepped aside and allowed her in.
    She closed the door shut and walked past her mother to her closet.
    ‘How are you?’ Her mother asked
    Leila laughed, ‘Since when do you care about how I am doing?’
    ‘You are my child and I care for you Leila.’
    Leila clicked her tongue, ‘I see.’
    She pulled out a pair of pajamas.
    ‘Leila I am your mother and I love you as much as I love Alfred and Jada, if I could save you from all this I swear I would……’
    ‘But?’ Leila cut her short.
    ‘Things are just way too complicated right now and you can’t understand.’
    ‘Are you even my real mother?’ Leila asked
    ‘How come he is allowed to hurt me and you never do anything, shouldn’t you be my safe place?’
    ‘Leila you wouldn’t understand.’
     ‘Is this all you came to tell me?’
    ‘I came to tell you to be strong Leila and to accept whatever comes your way, please don’t fight this and please don’t go around seeking for answers.’
    ‘Did he send you?’ she yelled, ‘did your husband send you to tell me all this?’
    ‘No,’ she shook her head. ‘He didn’t send me.’
    ‘There was a time I actually thought I had a mother but not anymore, please leave my room I need to get dressed.’
    ‘Please leave before I say something I will regret later.’
    Abby turned to leave the room and paused at the doorway to look at her daughter one more time.
    There was a mixture of anger and pain in Leila’s eyes.
    She walked out, quietly shutting the door behind her.

    Chapter 19

    (Edit as you Read)
    He stepped out of his car and headed towards the front door, as he got close he noticed that the house was dark – no lights at all, this was quiet strange because he was sure he had left some lights on before he went out.
    He unlocked the door and walked into the house, when he turned on the lights, a cold wave of breeze suddenly hit him & he felt a particular kind of eerie energy in the house.
    Stunned, he stood & looked at the mess in his living room, his coffee table had been turned upside down & several books were lying scattered on the floor.
    Before he could make sense of what was happening another cold wave of breeze hit him and he heard someone breathing, his heart slammed hard against his chest as he scanned the house for an intruder but he found no one.
    Chibuye managed to convince himself that he had not heard any breathing and there was no intruder in the house - it was all in his head.
    He walked to the far end of the room and opened a cabinet which turned out to be a cooler he pulled out a bottle of castle and cracked open the lid with his teeth. He poured the beer into a glass and sat down on the couch.
    After about twenty minutes the light above him began flickering, he looked up at the lights and watched them flicker wondering what was happening.
    Chibuye started to walk towards the switch but as he did the lights suddenly went completely off and the room became dark.
    ‘Shit,’ he cursed.
    Just then he began to sense a strong presence in the room, he couldn’t describe the feeling but somehow he knew that he was being watched.
    He turned around but found no one there.
    ‘What’s happening to me,’ he mumbled to himself.
    He was about to turn on the torch on his phone when he suddenly heard a loud crashing sound from the kitchen which sounded as though the pots and plates were falling off the cupboard.
    Then he heard one of the pot lids spin around the floor. He managed to turn his torch on and rushed to the kitchen only to find that there was nothing lying on the floor and nothing was broken, all the pots and plates were still in the cupboard.
    The hairs at the nape of her neck stood up as he stood there shivering and shaking then lights went back on at that instant.
    He took a deep breath and then picked up his glass of beer though his hands were trembling. He brought the glass to his mouth and took a big gulp which he swallowed hard.
    ‘I will not give in to mind games,’ he thought to himself.
    About a minute later, Chibuye saw the dark figure out of the corner of his eyes, it was standing at the far end of the room, he screamed in horror dropping the glass in his hand to the floor. 
    The beer spilled over the carpet making it wet.
    He blinked his eyes twice and looked towards the corner again. The figure was still there and he was staring directly at him, his red glow eyes penetrated him, Chibuye could feel the figure’s rage and frustration.
    Chibuye’s face became pale, he felt his heart sink and his voice came low and quiet, ‘Who are you and what do you want from me.’
    ‘Ha!ha!ha!’ the familiar empty laughter echoed through the room.
     ‘Please stop,’ he screamed.
    Everything went suddenly still and for a while silence filled the room.
    Just then Chibuye saw a marker rise from the table and float mid air.
    Chibuye fixed his eyes on the marker he had an astonished look on his face. His head throbbed so hard, he felt like it was going to split into two while his heart felt like it was about to explode.
    Slowly the marker began to form black letters on the wall.
    Chibuye’s fear was so intense he had never experienced something this scary. Suddenly he felt a stream of warm urine trickle down his inner thigh he needed to find something to scare the figure away with before it harmed him.
    Chibuye read the words that had the marker had written on the white wall.
    ‘Leila is mine! She is mine and mine alone.’
    ‘I warned you to stay away from her but you didn’t, why?
    Chibuye gulped, ‘Leila doesn’t love you, why are you bent on destroying her life,’ Owen said out loud.
    ‘I owned her before she was born, she belonged to me even while she was still in mother’s womb, who are you to get between us?’
    ‘I love Leila and I will fight for her,’ Chibuye said, he had no idea where he found the guts to talk back to the figure knowing very well it had the power to kill him if it so wished.
    ‘Love!’ the marker wrote on the wall again.
    ‘I can kill you in an instant Chibuye but your blood doesn’t excite me.’
    ‘You can never lay your hand on me, I don’t belong to you, I am a child of the most high God.’
    This time around the marker dropped to the floor, the figure appeared in front of Chibuye and he stretched his hand to his neck so he could strangle him but before he could do that, Chibuye screamed, ‘I am covered by the blood of Jesus, I am untouchable, out in Jesus name,’ and within a second the figure disappeared.
     Silence filled the room the only sound that could be heard was the sound of his heavy breathing.

    Chapter 20

    Three days later
    That’s how long it had been since Chibuye had last seen the dark figure though he had not told Leila about his experience because he didn’t want to worry her.
    It was a cold but bright afternoon Chibuye had just finished getting dressed, he was meeting up with Leila and Jada at Lord of Fire ministries.
     Chibuye was hopeful the Prophet would set Leila free from the dark figure.
    After saying a short prayer, Chibuye picked his car keys up and walked out to the car. He called Leila before he started off just to be sure she had started off too, they didn’t want to miss their time with the prophet, once he started the healing and deliverance service they would not be able to meet him.
    The entire drive to the church took about thirty minutes, when Chibuye stepped out of the car he spotted Leila by the entrance.
    He locked his car doors and walked over to where she and Jada were standing.
    ‘Hey babe,’ he kissed her cheeks
    ‘Hey yourself stranger,’ she gave him a warm smile, somehow seeing him made her feel a whole lot better, though she was very nervous.
     ‘Hey darling,’ he stretched his hand forward to greet Jada with a hand shake.
     ‘Hello,’ she extended a hand to him and they exchanged greetings.
    ‘You are ready?’ he asked
    He took Leila gently by the hand and they walked in, the Prophet wasn’t yet in when they walked into the prayer room but they found people setting up the place in preparation for the service.
    ‘He is going to be here shortly,’ one of the members assured them.
    ‘Thanks,’ Leila and Jada responded in unison.
    They waited thirty minutes before the prophet finally arrived. The prophet was a tall slender man with a high forehead and a neatly trimmed beard. He wore a navy blue suit with a white shirt underneath.
    ‘Welcome papa,’ one of the members welcomed him with a smile she took his small briefcase from him and placed it on the table.
    ‘Thank you Maria, how are you?’ Prophet Joachim asked, his voice was rich and mellow.
     ‘I am blessed Papa.’
    ‘And how is your son doing?’
    ‘He is doing very fine papa, he is even able to eat now, thank you for your prayers,’ she said, a wide smile spread across her face.
    ‘We bless the name of God,’ he responded
    Just then his quick glance darted to Leila and her crew he whispered something in Maria’s ears before he walked towards them.
    ‘He is coming over here,’ Chibuye announced & the trio instantly stood up.
    Leila was quiet nervous, her feet were weak she could hardly stand straight and the awful feeling in the pit of her stomach wasn’t helping matters.
    Chibuye held on to Leila’s hand and squeezed it, assuring her that all would be fine.
    ‘Prophet!’ Jada exclaimed with a warm smile, she extended her hand to him.
    ‘You must be Jada,’ the prophet shook the extended hand.
     Jada & the prophet had talked on the phone prior to this but this was the first time they were physically meeting.
    ‘This my sister Leila and this is her friend Chibuye,’ Jada said
    Prophet Joachim glanced at Leila and gave her a long stare. Leila was covered in darkness, he took two steps back.
    He looked at her again and this time her eyes were looking into his so deep, they were glowing red like a flame of fire.
    A look of confusion wrinkled Leila’s face she didn’t understand why the Prophet was acting like he had seen a ghost.
    ‘Who are you and what do you want here?’ He managed to ask.
    ‘Prophet, this is my sister Leila the one I told you about, she …….,’
    ‘I wasn’t talking to you sister Jada,’ he cut her short.
    ‘I am Leila and I am here to seek answers concerning the strange dreams I have been encountering.’
    ‘I am sorry I can’t be of help to you, you will have to leave.’
    Leila felt her heart sink, ‘Please prophet you are our only hope.’
    ‘Please,’ Jada got down on her knees and held on to his trousers.
    ‘You have to help us papa please.’
    He kept quiet for a moment, the spirit that was holding Leila in bondage was very fierce but sending Leila home would make his flocks question him, maybe he could try and put up a fight using his powers, who knows he could be able to defeat the figure and win some more souls to his church.
    He cleared his throat, ‘God is in control, it is well I will help you,’ he said.
     ‘Thank you very much,’ Jada stood up.
    ‘You two can remain here, while I attend to her,’ he told Jada and Chibuye.
    ‘Okay,’ said Jada.
    He led Leila to a small room that looked like an office.
    ‘How often do you pray Leila?’
    She smiled, ‘I don’t pray, I don’t know how to.’
    He held Leila’s hand then he closed his eyes and began chanting something under his breath.
    ‘You are a daughter of darkness Leila, the dark figure torments you only because you belong to him, he has watched you since you were still in your mother’s womb, your parents gave you to him even before you were born.’
     ‘I don’t understand.’
    ‘Your parents should be the ones to tell you the truth.’
    ‘Can’t you do anything to help me I want to be free from this dark figure?’
    He took off his jacket & hung it on the chair then he loosened his tie and rolled up his shirt sleeves.
    ‘The battle lines have been drawn, tuu! ka fo la ta!. It is well Leila.’
    He took a step closer to her, he was about to place his hand on her head when he felt a sudden shattering chill, the prophet instantly withdrew his hand. He took a glance at Leila, he saw something else- a creature that looked like something out of a horror movie was staring back at him.
    He stumbled backwards out of fear, ‘Blood of Jesus!’ He screamed
    ‘I command you to leave now in the name of Jesus.’
    A sudden loud ripple of laughter echoed through the small room.
    ‘Out in the name of Jesus,’ the prophet said feigning brevity.
    ‘Empty words Joachim, empty words, do you even believe in this Jesus?’ A voice said out loud,
    Both Leila and the prophet looked around to see where the voice was coming from but there was no one in the room besides them in the small room.

    Chapter 21

    ‘You don’t scare me oh you agent of darkness, I command you to leave now.’
    The Prophet was trying to act tough though deep down he was freaking out.
    ‘You don’t want to go this path with me, abort this useless mission and let my Queen go home,’ his deep rough voice spoke
    ‘She isn’t a Queen and she doesn’t belong to you.’
    ‘Joachim, you honestly want to use those small powers to fight me?’
    ‘I serve a powerful God your powers are no match to his.’
     ‘You can barely stand, your legs are trembling & you think you can fight me?’
    ‘Agent of darkness be gone in the name of Jesus.’
    ‘Let no man put asunder that which darkness has joined together?
    ‘I don’t belong to you, can’t you see I don’t love you, I am terrified of you.’
     ‘Queen of darkness, love of my life accept that which you cannot change.’
    ‘I can never be your queen you evil force, be gone now.’
     ‘You are mine,’ he yelled out casting a big wind to start up in the room.
     Leila stood frozen, she was overwhelmed by fear.
    ‘Father in the name of Jesus, I ……,’ the prophet began to pray but he was cut short, though, by a very intense pain on the left side of his face.
     ‘Oh, Lord!’ He screamed.
    ‘You want to challenge me, Joachim you dare challenge me?’
    ‘I am not afraid of you,’ he said, he wasn’t ready to give up the fight just yet.
    All of a sudden the room became very cold and dark.
    The prophet’s eyes grew wide in terror as the figure appeared from the corner of the room. 
    The dark figure looked at the prophet before he started approaching Leila, Leila’s heart began to race, she tried to scream but her voice was gone.
    When he finally reached where she was standing, Leila started to feel shivers down her spine she tried to back away but couldn’t move.
    He stood in front of her and glared at her with his glowing eyes. She was as beautiful as always, he ached to make her his just there and then, but he held himself back, he would take her at the right time.
    ‘Leila,’ his hands caressed her face, ‘Queen of my castle.’
    The touch of his fingers against her face made her stomach clench in fear.
    ‘I would never hurt you, don’t be scared,’ he said in a low gentle tone.
    ‘You are mine and all mine, no man will separate us,’ with that said he turned towards the prophet who was trembling with fear.
    ‘Did you just say you are not afraid of me,’ he mockingly asked
    The prophet could barely speak though he wasn’t ready to accept defeat.
    ‘I belong to God hence no figure of darkness has a any hold of me,’ he trembled
    ‘I am the king of this earth I stand above all humans and I rule, you ought to be afraid of me you man of gold,’ the figure spoke too loudly
    He voice was filled with rage and anger.
    Before the prophet could respond, the ground beneath them began to shake, the frames on the walls and the items on the table started falling one by one.
    His body trembled with fear, this was more than he could handle.
    ‘Please don’t hurt me,’ he begged but it was too late.
     The figure lifted him up and threw him down as if he weighed nothing.
    A feeling of dread washed over Leila, she watched terrified as the figure grabbed his neck, lifted him off the ground and slammed him against the wall.
    The prophet gasped in pain as the figure banged his head against the wall.
    Tears ran down Leila’s cheeks, she would never forgive herself if anything happened to this prophet of ‘gold’.
    Determined to kill the prophet, he lifted him up again and tightened his hand around his neck choking the life out of him.
    The prophet could barely breath he knew this was the end of him so he gave up fighting.
    Before he could finish off the prophet, the figure glanced at Leila, tears were heavily pouring down her face, her tears pierced through his heart, it hurt to see her crying so he let go of the prophet instantly and vanished in thin air.
    Leila could finally move and talk, she screamed out so loud Chibuye and Jada came rushing into the room and looked at both Leila and the prophet.
    ‘What happened here?’ Chibuye asked cautiously
    Leila was trembling with fear, her heart was thumping hard against her chest she rushed to Chibuye and wrapped her arms around him.
    ‘He needs a doctor, ‘Jada pointed to the Prophet who was lying on the floor covered in blood.
    ‘The f...i…g...u...r...e, he attacked him oh lord what if he dies,’ she cried
    ‘It’s not your fault sis, wait I will call an ambulance.’
    Chibuye held Leila tightly, her whole body was shaking she must have been terrified by the whole experience, what surprised him the most though was they had not been able to hear a single thing till Leila screamed.
    When the ambulance arrived a while later, there was chaos in the church, the members were all accusing Leila of trying to kill their man of God, Leila couldn’t even defend herself, she was a total mess.
    He was fuming with anger and since he couldn’t keep still he kept pacing from one end of the room to the other.
    ‘Daniel you need to take it easy now,’ his wife worriedly said
    He gave his wife an evil stare, ‘You dare ask me to take it easy?’ He yelled
    ‘Please,’ she pleaded.
    She was afraid his blood pressure was goig to shoot up if he continued with his pacing.
    ‘Your daughter has ruined me, see what her actions have caused,’ he pointed at Alfred who was lying lifeless on the floor.
    ‘Your pacing will not solve anything, let us wait for Leila to return, Alfred will be fine.’
    ‘If my son dies, I swear I won’t hesitate to kill both you and Leila.’
    ‘He is going to be fine as long as Leila complies with their terms.’
    Before he could respond to his wife, the door was pushed open, both Leila and Jada walked in they looked like they had been crying.
    Leila just wanted to close her eyes and never open them again. She was tired of everything, they had decided to come back home after the ambulance had picked the pastor up, Chibuye had opted to follow the ambulance, he had to make sure the pastor was alive or else his crazy church members would accuse Leila of killing him.
    Leila’s plan was to walk straight to her room without talking to her parents but as usual, her father pulled her back roughly.
    ‘Have you seen what your actions have caused?’ he pointed at Alfred
    Leila looked at Alfred in confusion he was lying shirtless on the floor.
    ‘Dad please let Leila rest,’ Jada spoke softly.
    ‘You an accomplice, you took Leila to that prophet.’
    Jada gasped, ‘How did you know about that?’
    ‘I know everything,’ he yelled.
    ‘Leila hun, you shouldn’t have gone out there to seek for answers,’ her mother said
    Leila shook her head,’ Why?’
    ‘What you did has some grave consequences,’ she said
    ‘What she means is that your marriage ceremony has been moved to next week, if you refuse to get married, your brother Alfred will never wake up.’

    Chapter 22

    Leila gave her father a quizzical look and said, ‘I don’t know what all this is all about but I am sorry I am not getting married anytime soon.’
    ‘Your refusal to get married will have grave consequences.’
    ‘I am ready for whatever consequences that will come my way.’
    ‘You see,’ her father yelled, he was burning with rage. ‘This girl is selfish.’
    ‘Why should you force me to get married, why can’t it be Jada?’
    ‘You are the chosen one,’ her mother responded.
    ‘Is the dark figure that has been hunting my dreams my supposed husband?’ Leila asked hoping she was wrong about the dark figure being her husband to be.
    `‘Yes. That dark figure is the man you are set to marry. His name is Ngozi.’
    Leila felt her heart break into tiny pieces, her insides ached.
    She looked at both her mother and father, ‘Why?’ she enquired. ‘I want to know why you would marry me off to something that evil.’
    Her mother took a deep breath, ‘Sit down and I will take you down memory lane.’
    It was a cool and lonely Sunday afternoon Abby was lying on the couch in the living room reading.
    Her six year old son was sitting up on the floor his eyes fixed on the TV screen. Shortly after, there was a soft knock at the door.
    ‘Alfred check who is at the door,’ she said without taking her eyes off the book.
    The little boy rose to his feet and rushed towards the door he opened the door to see his mother’s friend with her son.
    ‘Auntie Carol! Chilufya!’ He beamed with excitement.
    ‘Hey young man, is your mother home?’ Carol asked
    ‘Yes please come in,’ he stepped aside and allowed their guests to walk in then he closed the door shut.
    ‘Alfred who is it?’ Abby called out.
    ‘It’s me,’ Carol walked into the living room.
    ‘Carol!’ Abby placed the book on the table and stood up, she embraced her friend.
    ‘You are welcome, please take a seat.’
    ‘Thank you it’s been a while how is everything?’ Carol asked.
    ‘Well we are surviving my dear.’
    ‘I see you are glowing,’ Carol teased.
    Abby laughed, ‘my husband has been so good to me how’s marriage treating you?’
    Carol shook her head, ‘Girl that man is a beast, if I knew then what I know now I doubt I would have ever married him.’
    ‘It’s that bad?’
    ‘Let me get us some juice so you can tell me more.’
    She stood up and walked to the kitchen, she came back a while later with a tray of biscuits and drinks. She handed some to the children before she placed the tray on the table.
    ‘I always thought Kalu was a cool guy,’ Abby said
    ‘I thought so too my sister, that man is a beast, firstly he abuses me, secondly I haven’t had peace in that marriage for a while now, I am always having these weird dreams, sometimes it feels like someone is watching me.’
    ‘That’s strange. I always thought everything was perfect in your marriage.’
    ‘That’s because I never want to talk about these things. I always try to smile in front of people, I pretend all is well when deep down I am a mess.’
    ‘Why don’t you leave?’
    ‘Leaving would mean leaving Chilufya behind, Kalu would never allow me to take him with me and I just can’t leave without my baby boy, he is my sanity.’
    ‘This is really sad Carol I wish I could do something to help.’
    ‘I don’t think anyone can help me at this point, I married the wrong man for the wrong reasons and now I reaping what I sowed.’
    ‘Maybe he will change some day.’
    Carol laughed, ‘That’s who he is, he will never change.’
    The pair became so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t notice the kids had gone to play upstairs.
    As a child, Alfred was a little pushy and rough with his friends. Being the first born, his parents had spoiled him rotten, he was so used to having his way always even if it meant being physical  and violent.
    ‘No I don’t wanna exchange toys, I love this one a lot,’ Chilufya held on to his blue toy car that he had come with.
    ‘But I want to have it,’ Alfred whined
    The two were standing on top of the stairs.
    ‘You can’t have it my daddy got it for me on my birthday.’
    ‘I want it,’ Alfred tried to get the toy by force but Chilufya held on tight.
    ‘I don’t want to play with you anymore, you are a fighter,’ Chilufya turned to leave.
    Alfred became furious with his friend.
    With all his strength he pushed Chilufya down the stairs and watched him tumble all the way to the bottom.
    Panic started to grip Alfred and he yelled on top of his name.
    The women stood up and rushed towards the stairs, they found Chilufya lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.
    For Carol it felt as if time had come to a standstill, she stood frozen for a minute.
    Abby knelt down beside Chilufya and shook him but there was no response. She looked up at her son,
    ‘Alfred what have you done?’ she asked her voice shaking with fear.
    ‘I didn’t mean to push him mummy,’ he cried out.
    ‘I am finished,’ Carol suddenly screamed in grief and rage as she stared at her son’s motionless body.
    ‘We need to call an ambulance,’ Abby stood up.
    ‘He looks dead, my son looks dead Abby.’
    Abby rushed to the living room and grabbed her phone she could feel her whole body shaking as she called 911 for an ambulance, she was scared for her son, if Chilufya was dead then he would be terribly doomed.
    ‘Hang on,’ the ambulance will be here shortly, Abby tried to console her friend.
    Carol was holding her little boy in her arms, tears were uncontrollably pouring from her eyes, he was the only one she had she had failed to conceive again after giving birth to him, what would become of her if he left.
    The ambulance took forever to arrive and when they finally arrived, they checked for the little boy’s pulse but it was too weak. The ambulance operators asked them a few questions but no one could answer them.
    They carried Chilufya on a stretcher and wheeled him off to the ambulance.
    ‘I will drive you to the hospital,’ Abby said as she picked her car keys.
    She held her son’s hand and they walked out to the car park.
    The drive to the hospital was a silent one, Carol’s heart was beating so hard, she texted her husband and asked him to meet her at the hospital.
    ‘He is going to pull through, Chilufya is a fighter,’ Abby said.
    When they arrived at the hospital, the little boy was taken to an emergency room where he was kept overnight.
    His parents were restless they couldn’t stop pacing back and forth in the corridors as they waited for news on their son.
    Chilufya suffered severe head injuries and a collapsed lung, he died the next day.
    When the Doctor gave his parents the sad news, Carol helplessly sank to the floor, she felt like her whole world had crushed.
    Her husband gave her a vengeful look,
     ‘You caused his death, you killed our son Carol,’ with that said he walked out on her.

    Chapter 23

    It had been two days since Chilufya had been put to rest, the Kalufyanya family had gathered around the living room to discuss the fate of Alfred.
    Everyone sat quietly and waited for the meeting to start.
    For a few minutes, an awkward silence hung in the air but Mr. Kalufyanya cleared his throat and broke it.
    ‘Without wasting anyone’s time, we shall go straight to the purpose of this meeting,’ he said, his eyes focused on Alfred.
    ‘My heart aches at the death of my only son Chilufya this news came as a shock to me and the entire family but what’s done is done. However there won’t be any need to take the case to the authorities we will deal with it traditionally.’
    ‘Thank you,’ Abby breathed a sigh of relief.
    ‘My son was an heir to a big and powerful empire since he didn’t die a naturally, you need to make amends for his death.’
    He looked at Abby and her husband, ‘Because your son has taken from us, we must take something from you to appease his spirit.’
    Abby cleared her throat, ‘Sorry to cut you short but what does that mean?’
    ‘It means that unless you make amends for Chilufya’s death, his spirit will never rest and your family will be struck with mysterious deaths and Alfred will fall victim to some strange illnesses resembling mental illness, the spirit is willing to shed blood and hunt your family for ever if you don’t appease it.’
    Abby’s face felt stiff as if the colour had drained from it, this was more than she could handle.
    ‘So what does the spirit demand?’ Daniel finally spoke up
    ‘Two live chickens, 10 herds of cattle and a young girl.’
    ‘But where are we supposed to find a young girl to give you,’ Abby asked
    He looked at her tummy, ‘You can offer us the child in your womb.’
    Abby and Daniel looked confused as they exchanged glances.
    ‘The child in my womb, I am not pregnant,’ Abby said.
    ‘You are three weeks along you and a few months from now you shall give birth to girl.’
    ‘This is absurd Kalu,’ Carol who had been quiet all along spoke up.
    ‘Shut up woman.’
    ‘No this is witch craft and I refuse to be a part of it, Abby don’t give in to him.’
    ‘I said shut up Carol.’
    Carol stood up, ‘I am so done with you and your occult practices. The only thing that made me stay in this weird stupid marriage is no more so am done.’
    She pulled her ring off her finger and placed it on the table & marched out.
    ‘I think we can continue, what do you guys say?’
    ‘If we give you this girl does it mean my son will never be haunted?’
    ‘Yes, this will be erased from his mind he will never remember the accident.’
    ‘Then so be it, we shall give you our unborn child,’ Daniel said.
    ‘Daniel!’ his wife exclaimed
    ‘As soon as the ceremony is performed the child in your womb will belong to us. You can choose to either raise her or allow us to raise her ourselves.’
    ‘I would rather raise her myself,’ Abby said
    ‘You will ensure she remains a virgin until her 25th Birthday when she will be married off to the spirit of my son –Ngozi. And if you go back on your word, calamity shall befall your family. You shall all perish.’
     ‘Oh my,’ Abby gasped in disbelief.
    ‘We shall not go back on our word sir I promise,’ Daniel assured him.
    ‘Thank you.’
    They stood up and shook hands to seal their covenant.
    As they drove back home, Abby was a little disturbed with her husband’s decision but she choose not to question him, he was the head of the house after all and his decision was in the best interest of their family.
    When Abby went to the hospital a day later, she found out she was indeed pregnant. 
    ‘Daniel, you know how much I have longed for a daughter, how do I give her up just like that?’ She asked, tears running down her cheeks.
    ‘This is hard for me too Abby but Alfred is only six, do you want him growing up with a mental disorder, do you want calamity to befall us.’
    ‘No,’ she shook her head.
    He wiped her tears with the palm of his hand, ‘we haven’t seen this child and we don’t even know if it will survive let’s do this for our son please.’
    A week later, a group of people gathered at the cemetery for the appeasement ceremony. They were all dressed in red robes with no shoes on their feet.
    It was late at night, the cold wind blew onto their faces and they could hear some scary night owl sounds.
    The healer stripped half naked and started crawling on the ground writhing like a snake while chanting in some strange language.
    Violent gusts of wind suddenly swept through the forest and raised strange echoes. Almost immediately the air was electrically charged with a kind of peculiar energy, Abby had one of those feelings like someone was watching them, she held on tight to her husband’s hand.
    As her gaze turned ahead to the far end of the cemetery, she could see a shadowy figure form glancing back at her.
     A sudden sense of fear ran through her nerves like the chill of an icy wind, she opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. Not even a squeak, she tried to scream again, but still nothing came out, she could hear herself but it seemed no one else could. It was like she had no voice at all.
    After this the healer stood up and grabbed the chicken, he killed it and burnt it. Then he got the ashes and mixed it with some herbs.
    Next he sprinkled the mixture on the grave.
    A moment later, an intense pain shot through Abby’s tummy, the pain was like nothing she had ever felt. Then her head began to spin & a sense of weakness and breathlessness took over. Abby’s vision then became blurry and a dark outline came over her before she fell to the ground.
    At that point a light flashed at the far end of the cemetery & the figure disappeared.
     ‘It is done the wrong done to our son has been righted,’ the healer said
    The members of the Kalufyanya family were excited they started ululating as they danced around the grave while clapping their hands in what appeared to be a rehearsed fashion.
    ‘Cheze navi cho cha,’ the healer chanted as he handed each one a piece of the goat which had earlier been slaughtered, he gave Daniel a piece too, the two families were now united and a bond of marriage had just been formed.

    Chapter 24

    When she opened her eyes, Abby found herself lying on her bed. Her head was severely aching. She sat up in bed with a jolt as memories of the night before flashed before her eyes she could literary feel the figure’s gaze penetrate her.
    Abby felt a shiver run down her spine at the thought of the dark figure.
    ‘No!’ She gasped, ‘My baby!’ she screamed out so placing both hands on her belly.
    Daniel came rushing into the room when he heard his wife screaming.
    ‘Are you okay?’ he asked glancing around the room.
    ‘Daniel! What did they do to my child, what did you agree to,’ she cried.
    ‘The baby is okay Abby, they didn’t do anything to her,’ he said
    ‘Daniel those people are evil, I can’t give them my child, no!’ she said her voice trembling.
    He walked to the bed and sat beside her, he knew what he had agreed to was creepy and disgusting but what was he to do, he loved his son with everything in him there was no way in hell he would ever allow him to go mad.
    ‘Abby!’ He held his wife’s hand and gently squeezed it.
    ‘This is hard on me too, what was I supposed to do, it was either this baby or Alfred would you have rather they killed our little boy, is that it?’
    Abby shook her head, she loved her son dearly but she also loved the child in her womb what was a mother to do. Abby was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    ‘This is for the best, we are going to have more children after this one,’ he consoled her.
    ‘I need water,’ she got up from the bed.
    ‘Let me get the water for you.’
    ‘No,’ she shook her head.
    Daniel took a deep breath this was going to be tougher than he thought.
    Abby made her way to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water gulping it down then she placed the glass on the table and made her way back to the bedroom. She undressed slowly and walked towards the bathroom. She turned on the shower and stood under the cold water, the water felt so good.
    Afterwards she pulled a white towel and dried herself then she walked out of the bathroom.
    ‘How are you feeling?’ Daniel asked.
    ‘You think a short bath will wipe away everything, this will haunt us for years.’
    ‘I seriously don’t want to talk about this Daniel, for now I will bond with my child, I will try not to think about her not being ours.’
    ‘You don’t have to be attached to this child.’
    She laughed, ‘I am carrying this child in my womb, I will be alone in that labour ward, she will suck these breasts of mine, tell me how am i not supposed to get attached, you find it so easy not to be attached because you don’t know  a single thing about child birth.’
    ‘I don’t want to hear another word about this just let it go,’ she cut him short
    Daniel shook his head in frustration, he stood up and walked out of the room, talking to Abby about this wasn’t helping matters at all.
    Abby quickly got dressed she grabbed her phone and walked out of the room to the living room.
    ‘Are you going out?’ he asked when he saw her walking towards the door.
    ‘I need some fresh air.’
    ‘Ok,’ he responded
    She opened the door and slammed it shut on her way out. She just needed a little time to herself, time away from her husband, she needed time to think.
    Abby wandered around and around, her mind was racing, everything was freaking her out, she had just sold her unborn child to an evil force, how she was supposed to sleep at night after what she had just done.
    This was the most evil thing she had ever done all her life.
    A few Months later
    Abby was sleeping on her left side her hand was placed on her tummy, she was nervous as the day of birth was slowly getting closer. It seemed like yesterday when she had discovered she was pregnant & now she only had two weeks to go, was she even ready to have this baby?
    The past few months had been tough on Abby, she had been experiencing a number of strange and creepy things. She had been seeing things and hearing voices, it always felt like someone had been watching her throughout the pregnancy. Sometimes abby would feel a hand brushing her tummy and when that happened she would feel a bubbly feeling in her belly like butterflies.
    ‘I will be watching football in the living room if you need me,’ he said
    ‘Where is Alfred?’
    ‘He is fast asleep.’
    ‘Yes! Should I get you some water perhaps?’
    ‘I am okay babe, what I need now is a good night’s sleep but we both know that won’t be possible,’ she yawned.
    ‘You have managed just fine, a few weeks won’t hurt.’
    She managed a weak smile, ‘I know babe, two weeks and we can go back to normal.’
    He bent over and kissed her lips lightly, ‘We are in this together.’
    ‘I know.’
    ‘So call me when you need anything.’
    ‘Alright hun.’
    He smiled at her before he walked out of the room.
    She closed her eyes and tried to sleep, all she needed was a just a few minutes of sleep so she could feel better she was feeling a little ill from exhaustion.
    A few minutes later Abby was startled awake from what she assumed was a nightmare, in her dream she had seen a hand trying to pull her baby from her womb.
    As she sat upright Abby had the familiar feeling of someone watching her. She was about to call for her husband when a dark figure appeared out of nowhere, Abby was paralyzed with fear, the figure looked at her for what seemed like an eternity  before it vanished in thin air.
    Just then Abby felt a heavy gush of warm fluid flow down her thighs and onto the blankets, she screamed, ‘Daniel!’
    Daniel rushed into the room and when he saw what had just happened he grabbed his phone and called the paramedics.
    To be continued…

    So power came late and I just had to quickly finish this though it’s short, I need to rest I have work tomorrow.
    And then I Cleary stated  earlier on that power had gone but someone decides to comment trash, like was I supposed to call Zesco to bring power back or? I think lets be fair here, I try to be available when I can, I do deliver when I have the time to.
    Before you comment something nasty bear in mind that the writer is a person with feelings and not a robot, some of those comments don’t sit well with me, if you feel I am not doing it for you, silently stop reading, you don’t have to come and comment anyhow please.

    Chapter 25

    It had been two weeks since Abby had given birth to her daughter and she was exhausted, she had not been able to rest the past two weeks, the baby had been crying none stop for no apparent reason especially at night.
    ‘Can you help me with the baby so I can take a bath,’ Abby yawned loudly
    Daniel looked at his wife and shook his head.
    ‘You still don’t wanna touch her?’
    Abby responded with silence.
    She couldn’t understand why her husband was being so harsh on an innocent child, Daniel had not held the child since she was born he didn’t even want to look at her.
    ‘You are not being fair Daniel this child has done you no wrong.’
    ‘This child is not ours.’
    ‘I don’t get how you can harden your heart towards a child.’
    Daniel shook his head,
     ‘Le t me get the room ready for the ceremony,’ Daniel walked out of the room.
    The Kalufyanya’s were coming over for the baby naming ceremony and they had asked for a room in the house where the spirit of their son would live.
    Abby rocked the baby to sleep before placing her back in her crib then she undressed and headed for the bathroom.
    She left the door open and got into the shower, just before she finished showering, she heard the sound of the bedroom opening and closing afterwards, she heard footsteps outside the bathroom door.
    She did not get scared because maybe it was her husband, she thought.
     A minute later, Abby heard a voice singing to the baby, ‘Go to sleep! Hush!’
    ‘Honey is that you,’ she called out to her husband but got no response.
    She quickly finished bathing and turned off the water, she grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her body then she walked out of the bathroom. 
    She looked around the bedroom but did not see anyone in there, 
    ‘This is strange,’ she thought to herself
    And then she walked towards the baby’s crib, she was surprised to find the baby awake though she wasn’t crying like she usually did each time she woke up.
    She stared at the baby for a while and when she looked up she saw the dark figure walking towards the bathroom.
    ‘Daniel!’ she yelled out.
    ‘What’s the matter?’ Daniel who had just rushed into the room asked.
    Abby was so scared chills were going down her back.
    ‘What’s going on?’ Daniel asked again
    She pointed towards the bathroom.
    Daniel walked into the bathroom, he looked around but saw nothing then he walked out.
    ‘There is no one in there, tsup!’
    ‘I thought I heard someone singing to the baby but when I walked back here, I didn’t see anything and then after a while I saw the figure walking to the bathroom.’
    ‘What figure?’ He asked
    ‘The same figure who appeared at the graveyard.’
     ‘Abby just stop already. The figure is a figment of your imagination.’
    ‘I saw that dark figure I don’t know why you can’t believe me,’ she yelled.
    ‘There is no one in this room Abby, please get dressed already.’
    He was furious, his wife’s tantrums where slowly getting on his nerves.
    It was almost 21:00 when the Kalufyanya’s finally arrived at Daniel’s house. They stepped out of the car and walked up to the door, Kalu knocked thrice and Daniel opened the door for them, he warmly greeted them before he stepped aside to allow them into the house.
    He led them straight to the room he had earlier cleaned for them, then he went to fetch his wife and child.
    Abby was nervous, she had a sickening feeling at the pit of her stomach, if this was up to her, she would hide her baby from the Kalufyanya’s.
    ‘It’s for the best Abby,’ Daniel said when he noticed the tension on her face.
    ‘I just wish there was another way of handling this, my baby is so young.’
    ‘We are doing this for Alfred we are doing this for our baby boy.’
    She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, ‘For Alfred,’ she murmured.
    Clad in a white rob, Abby carried the baby in her hands and walked out of the room, her husband followed her behind closely.
    When she walked into the room where the members of the Kalufyanya family were gathered, they all stood up and started ululating.
    She handed the child to the traditional healer who in turn placed her on a small traditional mat at the center of the room.
    As soon as they all settled down, Kalu presented a piece of paper to Daniel who in turn passed it around to everyone in the room.
    ‘Her name is Leila,’ the message on the piece of paper read.
    ‘Leila!’ the healer said before he let out a loud piercing sound. His body began to shake and his hands were clapping to the deep rhythm sound of the drums.
    The other members of the Kalufyanya family were chanting in a strange language as the bang of the drums filled the air.
    Suddenly the room became very hot and the smell of smoke filled the air. When Abby looked at the far end of the room she saw a fire burning brightly.
    ‘Lord!’ Abby gasped in disbelief
    ‘It’s a sign,’ Kalu exclaimed and everyone else ululated again.
    The healer took Leila in his hands and raised her up in the air, ‘we offer you Leila, daughter of the night and queen of darkness to have and to hold.’
     The dark figure eventually appeared in the middle of the fire and smiled back at them before he whispered, ‘You are mine forever.’
    Kalu and his family screamed out for joy, the spirit had accepted Leila to be his.
    The fire and the figure slowly vanished and everyone became silent.
    Tears were pouring down Abby’s eyes as the whole ceremony was going on it was surprising how the baby was calm with all this commotion.
    The healer placed the baby back on the mat before he sat on the floor too, they all quietly watched as he took dry herbs in powder form and mixed them with ashes.
    When he was done, he carried Leila again and cut tattoos (inembo) on the sides of her head up to her ears with a new razor blade.
    Leila cried out loud as the healer cut through her skin.
    Her scream was so piercing and loud it was almost driving her mother crazy.
    ‘No! My baby,’ Abby cried, ‘Please let her be!’
    Daniel held her tight, ‘its okay,’ he soothed her.
    When he was done, the healer rubbed the mixture on the bleeding cuts before he placed the crying baby back on the mat.
    ‘It is done and sealed,’ he announced
    They all stood up once more and danced around the crying baby while singing a strange song.
    A few minutes later, Abby was allowed to get the child.
    ‘This child finally belongs to us,’ Kalu said ‘You shall ensure that she remains a virgin until my son marries her, she will never be allowed to date, any man that gets too close to her shall die, if it so happens that you go back on your word, your son shall fall sick and calamity shall befall your family.’
    ‘We shall ensure to raise her in an upright manner, I promise she will never disappoint you,’ Daniel responded.

    Chapter 26

    Present time
    Leila slid to the floor and closed her eyes, her world had crumbled right before her eyes and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
    Hers was a world built on pain and sorrow, a world of deception & rejection.
    The pain she was feeling was more intense than anything she had ever experienced.  The pain burned like acid rain.
    Her heart ached badly and her head throbbed really hard. Tears were rushing down her cheeks, she could no longer hold in the pain she felt.
    Jada rushed over to her sister who was crying on the floor, she pulled her into her arms and let her cry on her shoulder.
    Everything felt like a dream it was hard to believe that her parents would sacrifice her sister to the dark world in a bid to save Alfred, couldn’t they have found another way of handling the situation at hand.
    Leila cried loud, she cried and cried till she couldn’t cry no more.
    Abby had never seen her daughter like this her tears had always been silent, she had never given a voice to her pain.
    Seeing her daughter this broken made her heart ache but yet again she was caught between a rock and a hard place, her son was lying lifeless on the floor and her daughter was weeping over the Injustice that had taken place. 
    Abby loved both her children but she knew she couldn’t have them both she had to sacrifice one to save the other. It was either Leila or Alfred.
    If Leila married the spirit she could still find a way of getting rid of it perhaps, but if she refused to marry it, it meant that her son would lose his life.
    Daniel on the other hand watched in silence as his daughter wept, he had no regrets about what had done, there was no way he could have allowed his son to be struck by madness, he did what any sane person would do in that situation.
    Leila pulled away from her sister after some time then she stood up.
    She looked at her parents, pain and anger in her eyes.
    ‘Hun!’ her mother said
    ‘Don’t! Just don’t say anything mother I understand perfectly. Alfred is a king he is the favored child, the one you would sacrifice your lives for. Some of us are worthless and we are unloved, I understand you don’t have to say more.’
    ‘Don’t talk like that,’ her mother said
    ‘I hope you will survive after your favored son dies,’ she said 
    ‘What’s the meaning of that?’ Her father angrily asked
    ‘I saved your son once, I am not doing it again he can die for all I care.’
    ‘Don’t you dare utter such nonsense,’ her father said annoyance clear in his voice.
    Leila laughed, ‘I can’t wait to see the look on your face when Alfred is pronounced dead,’ she said before she rushed off to her room.
    Once in her room, she grabbed her suitcase and threw it on the bed then she started packing her clothes she wasn’t going to spend another night in a house where she was unwanted, she was better off living on the streets.
    ‘Where are you gonna go?’ Jada worriedly asked when she found her packing.
    ‘I don’t know but all I know is that I need to leave this house Jada.’
    ‘Okay, let me drive you to Chibuye’s house I am sure he won’t mind.
    ‘Okay,’ she zipped her luggage closed when she was done.
    ‘Ready,’ Jada asked
    ‘Yes, I will call you if I need anything else.’
    Leila picked her handbag and Jada helped with the suitcase as they walked downstairs.
    ‘What’s the meaning of this?’ Her mother asked her
    ‘I am leaving, I am sorry I can’t continue living under the same roof with people like you. With everything you have done to me, i can’t trust you.’
    ‘You are going nowhere,’ her mother said
    ‘Try to stop me,’ Leila walked past her mother
    ‘Daniel do something, we can’t allow her to leave.’
    ‘Daniel laughed, ‘let her leave, she will be back,’ he said
    Abby tried to pull the suitcase from Jada’s hand but Jada pushed her so hard she fell to the ground.
    ‘Touch me again, I swear I will show you flames,’ she yelled
    Jada turned to Leila, ‘Let’s go.’
    The two headed for the door and pushed it open and they closed it shut on their way out.
    Jada placed the suitcase in the trunk of the car and slammed it shut then they both got into the car. None of them said anything to the other for several minutes but as they neared Chibuye’s house, Jada broke the silence by saying,
    ‘I think I know what you should do to break this spell,’ she said
    ‘What!’ Leila asked almost immediately
    ‘You have to break your virginity if you aren’t pure the spirit will have no option but to lose its hold on you.’
    ‘Jada, what sort of suggestion is that?’
    ‘The spirit wants you pure because he wants to be the first one to break your virginity that way you and him shall forever be connected.’
    ‘Owen died because of me I don’t want another person’s blood on my hands.’
    ‘Well you could take a risk.’
    ‘I am just so scared and confused Jada.’
    ‘Just think about it.’
    The car stopped in front of Chibuye’s house, Jada stepped out and helped Leila with her luggage, she pushed the gate open and they walked towards the door.
    ‘Hello,’ she pushed the door open
    ‘Leila! Jada!’ he exclaimed, ‘Come in,’ he led them to the living room.
    ‘I need a place to stay until I figure out my next move,’ Leila said
    ‘You are always welcome but what happened?’
    ‘A lot happened this night, my parents just confirmed they married me off to a spirit, I will tell you the rest later,’ she threw herself on the couch.
    ‘I think I better get going, take care of this girl for me,’ Jada told Chibuye.
    ‘I will protect her with my life,’ he laughed
    ‘I will hold you to that,’ Jada laughed too
    ‘Are you going home?’ Leila asked her sister
    ‘Nop, I will spend the night at my boyfriend’s house I also need time to process everything.’
    ‘Okay please do take care of yourself sis.’
    ‘I will,’ she smiled
    She kissed her sister good bye before she finally left.
    They were cuddled up on a couch like a cute couple watching a movie.
    ‘Are you okay?’ He asked
    She shook her head, ‘Yes.’
    ‘You seem to be lost in thoughts.’
    She sighed, ‘I am thinking about something Jada said.’
    ‘Care to share.’
    ‘It’s just something crazy,’ she laughed
    He faced her, ‘Let’s hear it.’
    ‘Do you like me?’ she asked
    ‘Where is that question coming from?’
    ‘Like are you attracted to me, would you have sex with me if I offered myself to you?’
    ‘You know what, just forget it.’
    ‘No, tell me what’s bothering you.’
    She hesitated for a while before responding, ‘I want you to make me yours, make love to me Chibuye,’ she said desperately
    ‘Huh!’ he looked at her in disbelief
    ‘I said make love to me Chibuye, take my virginity, make me yours.
    Chibuye was unable to respond, he liked Leila a lot but this wasn’t her. She was acting strange.

    Chapter 27

    The wind howled through the trees, a streak of lightening flashed in the dark.
    He stood in the middle of the road clad in a long black hooded robe. His eyes were glowing red spheres in the darkness.
    Underneath that hood he was filled with rage and anger, he was ready to kill for her, he loved her this much, there was no way he was going to allow a man to take away her purity when he had waited this long, war had just been declared. He was going to hurt her where it hurt the most.
    She was driving at high speed while humming to the song which was playing on the radio she needed the distraction because she had a lot on her mind.
    As the car turned onto the small road that led to her boyfriend’s house, the dark figure walked up in front of her. She slammed on her breaks and stopped.
    A fear of panic grew in her as it made direct eye contact with her, she knew who the figure was though she hadn’t expected to have encounter with it.
    She tried to put her car into reverse to get away from the figure but the car wouldn’t budge, it felt like the wheels had sunk into the ground.
    The figure watched her frustration before he released a loud mocking laugh.
    ‘What do you want from me?’ she asked her voice shaking
    ‘You!’ he pointed at her.
    Next she heard her car door open and the figure rolled onto the other seat; it grabbed her hand and held it tightly.
    When icy cold hands grabbed her arm, Jada screamed out in fear.
    ‘Don’t waste your time screaming, no one will hear you,’ he said
    ‘Are you tired of tormenting my sister you are now coming after me, get the hell away from me,’ she yelled.
     ‘Young girl shut the hell up.’
    ‘We don’t belong to you can’t you just get it?’
    ‘Shut the fuck up.’
    ‘Don’t even shut me up, just let me go,’ she tried to yank her hand from his.
    He angrily squeezed her hand before he spat a blast of flames in her face.
     Jada screamed her lungs out when she felt her face burning.
    ‘Stop please stop,’ she pleaded
    ‘Oh so now you are begging me,’ he laughed
    ‘Please! It hurts,’ she cried
    ‘Oh it hurts,’ the figure imitated her before laughing out hysterically, he loved to be in control, he loved tormenting humans and putting them in their places.
    After a few minutes of crying she passed out from the intense pain.
    He took one last at her before he flew out of the car.
    ‘Please,’ she pleaded
    ‘Leila I don’t think that’s a good idea,’ he said
    ‘Make love to me please, help me break this spell,’ she said desperation written all over her face.
    ‘Am I not attractive enough, you don’t even have to look at me, you can pretend you are having sex with someone else.’
    She couldn’t begin to understand how much he wanted to have her but the circumstances weren’t so favorable, she was vulnerable and he didn’t want to take advantage of her, he didn’t want her to have regrets when it was too late.
    ‘I do like you….,’
    ‘But,’ she cut him short
    ‘I just can’t, not under these circumstances.’
    ‘Okay,’ she stood up
    He looked at her he could fill the hurt of rejection she was feeling.
    He held her hand, ‘You are putting me in a tight position Leila.’
    ‘Are you attracted to me or not?’
    ‘Yes I am.’
    ‘Then we have nothing more to talk about.’
    She undressed slowly in front of him and stood there naked.
    He looked her nude body and swallowed deeply, she looked incredibly sexy.
    ‘Please make me yours,’ she pleaded once more
    Finally he couldn’t hold himself any longer, he gave into her advances. He stood in front of her and kissed her softly and gently as he led her to the bedroom once in the bedroom, he picked her up and placed her on the bed.
    Leila shyly looked up as he undressed she wanted the ground beneath to swallow her. This was the first time she was seeing a naked man.
    He laid his naked body on top of hers and started kissing her.
    Moans of pleasure escaped her lips as he deepened the kiss he was taking her to another level of ecstasy. He made her feel things she hadn’t known she could, then she parted her legs welcoming him, she couldn’t wait any longer.
    ‘Make me yours’ she breathed
    ‘You are sure about this,’ he whispered staring deeply into her eyes
    She nodded her head.
    Just as he was about to shove himself inside her, a loud high pitched angry voice echoed and the door of the bedroom blew open.
    And the air had suddenly become eerily still.
    ‘How dare you show your nakedness to another man? You have defiled yourself Leila and for that you must face the consequences.’
    ‘And you, I warned you to stay away from her but you didn’t.’
    ‘You have injured me, you have broken my heart,’ he yelled once more, anger evident in his voice he had surely come for vengeance.
    Leila hang on to Chibuye as she trembled with fear, Chibuye on the other hand didn’t know how to respond, how could he even call out the name of God when he was butt naked on top of Leila about to fornicate, he was ashamed.
    There was an awkward silence for a few minutes.
    Then all of a sudden, Chibuye was lifted off the bed by a force he couldn’t see, he was spin around in the air for a few minutes before being slammed to the ground.
    ‘Chibuye!’ Leila screamed, she wanted to run after him but she couldn’t move.
    A quick glance at the corner of the room revealed the dark figure.
    He walked towards Chibuye and grabbed him as if he weighed nothing throwing him up the air. As his body fell back to the ground, Leila screamed out in fear, she was afraid the figure was going to kill Chibuye.
    His strength was getting weaker and weaker as the figure repeatedly kicked tossed him up and down.
     ‘Please don’t kill him,’ Leila pleaded
    A loud laugh erupted through the room, ‘I will not kill him, at least not yet.’
    ‘Please,’ she pleaded
    ‘Your wish is my command,’ he laughed once again
    Then he left Chibuye lying almost lifeless on the floor and walked to the bed, it was time to deal with Leila the best way he knew how to.

    Chapter 28

    He looked at her and licked his lips she looked as beautiful as ever- so sweet and innocent, he  couldn’t believe she had almost given herself to another.
    ‘What do you want from me?’ she asked
    ‘Isn’t it obvious?’ he responded, his eyes gleaming with desire.
    He threw her backward onto the bed then he climbed on top of her and pinned her down.
    She found herself immovable as his hands roamed all over her body.
    Chibuye watched in horror as the figure kissed Leila’s lips, just as he tried to stand up, he felt as if a knife had been plunged into his tummy.
    He cried out in pain as he fell back to the ground.
     ‘Please don’t,’ Leila lamented, the fear and helplessness was evident in her eyes.
    ‘I have to make you mine,’ his dark and husky voice whispered in her ears.
    His hands continued feeling her up as he kissed her he felt more alive than her had his entire life, he wanted more of her.
    When he finally touched her scared area, she let out an agonizing scream.
    Unmoved by her cries he pulled her legs apart and forced himself into her. 
    Leila winced in pain.
    ‘Shhh! its okay,’ he whispered as he pushed himself further.
    Tears ran from Leila’s eyes as blood flowed from her torn flesh.
    It was done and dusted the figure had finally taken from her what she had hidden all her life, all she wanted was just to die now.
    The figure inhaled the sweet scent of her innocent blood as he filled her up with his seeds.
    Annie awoke abruptly she was drenched in sweat and panting after having a terrible nightmare. She had dreamed that her brother Chibuye had been stabbed in his belly with a sharp knife by a man clad in a long black rob.
    As she sat upright, a strange feeling swept through her and covered her with goose pimples looking over at the clock she saw that it was 1 am.
    She arose from the bed slowly careful not to wake her husband.
    Annie got down on her knees in front of her bed, closed her eyes and began to pray with all her might.
    ‘Father in the name of Jesus I come to you today asking for protection over my brother Chibuye, Lord may you keep evil far from him & help him to trust you as his refuge and strength, I pray that you make him bold and courageous  in the presence of danger recognizing that you have overcome all evil.  Amen.’
    Then she stood up and raised her hands up and began praising God for protecting her brother from all forces of darkness, she continued to praise God for over an hour as tears of joy ran down her cheeks.
    When she was done, she knew without a doubt that no weapon formed against her brother would prosper, she made a mental note to visit him in the morning.
    ‘Babe, are you okay?’ came the sleep filled voice of her husband as she got back on the bed.
    ‘Yes I am fine I just needed a moment with God.’
    She wrapped her hands around him and closed her eyes.
    The next morning, Annie was up early though she couldn’t keep ignoring the feelings of anxiety and the knots that kept twisting in her stomach.
    She just couldn’t shake of the feeling of something being wrong.
    Annie tried to call her brother but his line took her straight to voicemail.
    When he husband was up, she helped him get ready for work and as soon as he was gone, she bathed her son, fed him and made his bottles.
    ‘Linda!’ she called for her niece
    ‘Rock him back to sleep, I want to take a bath,’ she handed the baby to her.
    She took a really quick bath and got dressed. When she was done, she walked out of her room with her bag slung over her shoulder.
    ‘Are you going out,’ Linda asked when she emerged from her room
    ‘Yes, I am going to see Chibuye please take care of the baby.’
    ‘Alright, say hi to uncle Chibuye.’
    She walked out of the house to her car she opened the door slid in and drove out. 
    After driving for over an hour, she parked in front of his gate she stepped out of her car, locked her doors and headed for the gate she pushed it open and walked in.
    ‘Chichi,’ she called his name as she pushed the door open
    She called his name again when she got to the living room but got no response she placed her bag on the couch and headed for his bedroom.
    ‘Chibuye are you in there,’ she knocked at the door
    She got no response, she flew the door open and there he was lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
    ‘Jesus!’ She ran to him and got down on her knees, she placed her head on his chest his pulse was still strong.
    ‘Whatever happened here,’ she wondered when she saw blood on his bed.
    She wanted to call 911 but something stopped her, this wasn’t a battle for the doctors, this was a spiritual battle.
    ‘Lord what are you trying to say to me?’ Annie whispered
    Something prompted her to look at her brother again and when she did, she saw a dark cloud covering him she knew what she needed to do.
    She pulled her phone from her pocket and called her pastor.
    ‘Annie,’ he answered almost immediately
    ‘My brother is being attacked spiritually, please stand with me in prayer if possible come over.’
    ‘There is power in the name of Jesus Annie, start praying for him, meanwhile I will get some of the prayer warriors here and we will head there soon.’
    ‘Thank you,’ she placed her phone on the bed and began to pray.
    ‘Thank you lord Jesus for conquering evil and giving us victory. The victory you won when you died at the cross of Calvary. That moment you said it is finished oh Lord, you paid our debt in full hence darkness has no hold over him.’
    She continued to pray while walking around the room and as she said Amen, she could feel the peace of the spirit fill her up.
    Chibuye popped his eyes open and looked up at his sister, ‘Leila,’ he whispered.
    ‘Thank you Jesus,’ she exclaimed
    ‘Leila, he took Leila,’ Chibuye said as tears began to foam in his eyes.
    He walked into the house and began to angrily pace back and forth, beads of sweat were running down his face, his eyes were burning red with anger.
    ‘Damn that Annie girl,’ he slammed his fist into the wall.
    ‘Are you okay hun,’ his wife asked, he had married her two years after Carol had left him, she had managed to give him four children two of whom were male.
    ‘They are raging war against us, we need to be ready to fight,’ he said
    ‘I felt it deep in my spirit, we need to fight.’
    He laughed, ‘Call everyone, the battle has just begun.’

    Chapter 29

    When she awoke, she found herself in a strange room lying on a bed she didn’t recognize. She sat upright, the bed she was sleeping on was big enough to accommodate at least five other people, Leila looked around the room rubbing her eyes awake, paintings of strange shapes adorned the walls & on the floor was a red large carpet.
    Leila’s mind was running rampant as she tried to remember how she had ended up in this strange room, she closed her eyes and the figure’s eyes flashed before her eyes.
    ‘Oh,’ she gasped in disbelief.
    A wave of sadness swept over her. She couldn’t believe the figure had violated her in that manner and now she felt powerless, she just wanted to die.
    She stood up slowly after a few minutes and walked to the door, she tried to open it but nothing happened.
    Frustrated she threw herself down on the bed weeping and sobbing as if someone had died, she wept for the loss of her virginity she had wanted her first time to be magical with someone she loved, why did the figure have to take advantage of her, why did he have to choose her.
    Leila felt dirty, disgusted, tired and depressed.
    She lay on that bed for what seemed like an eternity lost in thoughts, suddenly the door crept open and woke her from her reverie then it slammed itself shut. She looked to see who had opened the door but there was no one, just then the room became cold and the light went off.
    Afterwards she felt a strong familiar presence she looked around the room in an attempt to find who had walked into the room and that’s when she saw him, the same figure who had been tormenting her for years stood before her.
    Leila could see lust burning in his glowing eyes and she yearned to run away. But where would she go when she barely knew where she was.
    Her heart began to pump faster and beat harder as he made his way to her. She felt the bed dip down next to her as he sat down.
    ‘Queen,’ he whispered.
    ‘Please, let me go,’ she pleaded desperately
    He ignored her pleas, his fingers made its way to her face, caressing their way to her neck. His hands felt cold against her skin and she trembled in fear.
    ‘You are mine, mine alone,’ he breathed
    She felt hot tears on her cheeks.
    ‘Why must it be me, can’t you choose someone else,’ her voice came out as a dry rasp.
    ‘I have loved you since you were in your mother’s womb, I can never trade you for anyone else,’ he said huskily
    ‘I am begging you, just let me go please I don’t belong here,’ she pleaded again
    He growled out, ‘Stop complaining already and let’s enjoy our time together.’
    Before she could say anything else, he wrapped his hands around her and descended his mouth on hers. The touch of his mouth was cold and rough she felt like throwing up, she tried to push him away but he was way too stronger than she was, he fell on top of her and knocked the air out of her lungs.
    Next thing she knew she was being violently raped, she tried fighting him off while kicking and screaming but all he did was laugh as he pushed deeper into her.
    She couldn’t take it anymore, eventually she passed out.
    ‘Leila,’ he said her name again, he was worried about her well being. The figure had flown out with her after violently abusing her.
    ‘Who is Leila?’ his sister asked as she handed him a hot cup of strong black tea.
    He grabbed the cup of coffee and took a sip.
    ‘She is the woman I love,’ he responded.
    ‘Who took her?’
    ‘A strange dark figure that has been tormenting her since she was a little girl he is a spirit of darkness and her parents married her off to him.’
     ‘Lord,’ he said in surprise
    ‘Annie you have to help me find her please.’
    ‘Pastor Ndambo will be here with his wife, he shall tell us what to do next but you have to be prayerful Chibuye, when last did you even pray?’
    He looked away shyly, ‘I haven’t prayed so in a while.’
    ‘A prayer less man is a powerless man.  The figure has a hold on you because of your failure to pray, you need to stand boldly and denounce it in the name of Jesus.’
    ‘I am ashamed, will go even listen to my prayers?’
    She laughed, ‘he is a loving father and he never holds your sin against you, seek him and be amazed with the wonders he will do.’
    ‘Thanks sis.’
    ‘You are welcome,’ she smiled. ‘Go and take your bath as I clean up this place.’
    She walked into the living room and knelt beside her.
    ‘Babe, you called for me,’ she asked
    ‘Are you okay?’ she asked, she could see his face was wrought with tension.
    ‘We need to leave as soon as possible.’
    ‘What’s going on?’
    ‘Annie just called her brother is being spiritually attacked.’
    ‘Could this in line with the dream I had two nights ago?’ she asked
    ‘God has been preparing us for this, it’s going to be a tough battle but the lord will give us victory.’
    ‘Let me just change into something comfortable then.’
    Carol kissed her husband lightly on his lips before she stood up and walked back to their room. She had married him after three years after her divorce & they had two children together.
    Marrying him was the best decision she had ever made, he had helped her heal from her wounds of her first marriage and the loss of her first son.
    Speaking of her first son, Carol had been dreaming about him the past few days, she made a mental note to visit his grave soon enough.
    She wiped a tear from her cheek with her thumb her heart was broken into tiny little pieces, she felt hopeless she looked at her daughter one more time. Her face was completely burned it was terrible to look at. Abby didn’t understand what was happening to her family, first she had no idea where her daughter Leila was, her only son was battling for his life at home and now Jada was lying in this bed badly burnt.
    A stranger who found Jada passed out in her car had been the one to drive her to the hospital, after going through her phone he had found her mother’s number and instantly called her.
    The doctors had told Abby her daughter’s issue was delicate and there was a slight chance for survival.
    ‘Great one, king and ruler of darkness,’ Daniel bowed before Kalu
    ‘To what do I owe this visit?’ He asked
    ‘I am here to ask for forgiveness on Leila’s behalf please don’t let calamity to befall us.’
    ‘I warned you Daniel, I warned you.’
    ‘Please,’ he pleaded, ‘I will look for my daughter and when I find her I will hand her over to you.’
    Kalu laughed, ‘We already have your daughter and she is set to marry my son tomorrow, when their bond is sealed in marriage, Jada and Alfred will be freed.’
    ‘Thank you great one, you can do as you please with Leila but please set my other children free.’
    ‘As you wish,’ he laughed.

    Chapter 30

    ‘Leila,’ someone was shaking her gently and softly calling her name. She opened her eyes and let out a long yawn.
    ‘Who are you?’ she asked the lady standing at her bedside
    ‘My lady, I am your loyal servant & I am here to serve you,’
    ‘What do you mean servant?’ Leila asked
    She smiled prettily,
    ‘My name is Rosalinda but everyone calls me Rose, the king has asked me to help you get ready for your marriage ceremony.’
    Leila’s heart sank to the bottom of her chest she was horrified at the prospect of marrying the dark creepy figure.
     ‘Listen Rose, I am no Queen and I don’t want to get married, help me find my way out of this place.
    Rose gave Leila a pitiful look, ‘Your fate was decided long before you were born. Helping you escape would mean signing my own death certificate.’
    ‘Please,’ Leila desperately pleaded.
    ‘My Lady, accept that which you have no control over. You are the chosen Queen.’
    Leila began to open her mouth to speak but Rose interrupted her and began to speak again.
    ‘It’s time for your bath the king hates to be kept waiting.’
    ‘Tell your king to go to hell, I am not going to bath,’ she furiously yelled wiping the tears running down her cheeks.
    ‘My lady,’ Rose held Leila’s hand but Leila yanked it off her grip.
    ‘Don’t you dare touch me you are just as evil as your stupid king.’
     ‘I am just doing my job here so please cooperate.’
    ‘You leave me with no option but to use force.’
    The minute she uttered those words, a force pushed Leila off the bed and she slumped to the ground.
    ‘Ah, fuck,’ she said under her breath
    ‘Fighting this is pointless.’
    Leila lay frozen in horror, how was she even supposed to get out of this.
    Rose looked at her and clicked her fingers suddenly Leila felt a sharp electrical chill in the air and an unknown force grabbed her, dragging her to the bathroom. She screamed in terror.
    ‘Be a good girl and take your bath I hate to be kept waiting, ‘a coarse deep voice echoed in her ears.
    She had no choice but to comply, she was too tired to argue maybe fighting this was pointless as Rose had put it.
    She undressed slowly and stood in front of the mirror, it was then that she noticed deep scratches and bite marks on her body.
    Leila shook her head and stepped into the shower, the water felt good as it cascaded down her body, for a moment she forget where she was.
    A few minutes after she had started bathing Leila felt hands all over her body and then there was a burning sensation on her skin.
    She was stiff scared.
    The incident lasted a few minutes and then it was completely over. She quickly finished bathing and walked out of the bathroom.
    ‘We are behind time my lady so we have to be quick here,’ Rose said
    Leila responded with silence.
    ‘You look amazing,’ came a voice that made her freeze up.
    Leila was clad in a gold long sleeved dress with a fishtail hem the dress hugged her shoulders and showed off her curves.
    Rose had perfectly done her makeup and styled her hair. She had even placed a golden crown on the top of her head.
    ‘You are good to go my lady,’ she whispered
    Leila was nervous as Rose held her hand and led her to a room full of other creatures.
    Leila stood frozen at the door.
    ‘Long live the Queen of darkness,’ Rose said and bowed down as did the rest of the creatures.
    The bowing only lasted a few minutes and then they were all chanting in some strange language.
    ‘You need to walk to the front my Lady,’ Rose whispered
    ‘I can’t do this, no this is unfair,’ Leila turned to leave but a force pulled her back and the door slammed shut.
    They sat quietly and listened to Chibuye as he narrated Leila’s story. When he was done narrating, no one said anything for a few minutes.
    Carol stood up and instantly began praying loudly in tongues.
    Her husband and Annie stood up too and started to pray.
    Carol was praying very loud, it looked like she was in pain and crying out.
    As they prayed, God gave Carol a vision and she saw a lock in a dark room.
    And when they finished praying, she quickly spoke, ‘You need to take us to Leila’s house right now.’
    ‘Okay.’ he said
    They rushed out of the house to the car which was parked outside. They opted to use the pastor’s car.
    It wasn’t long before they arrived at Leila’s house. As they walked to the door, they felt a dark strong presence surrounding the house.
    They knocked at the door and Abby opened it, dressed in a t-shirt and tights.
    Carol looked up, mouth agape.
     ‘Abby,’ she said
    ‘Carol is this really you oh my God,’ Abby screamed
    ‘Yes! Lord look at you, how are you?’
    Abby shook her head, ‘I am not okay,’ she said sorrowfully
    ‘What’s wrong?’
    ‘Everything is wrong Carol I should have listened to you about sacrificing my daughter to Kalu.’
    Carol’s heart pounded fast and harder at the mention of Kalu.
    ‘But what are you doing here, how did you even find me?’ Abby asked
    ‘The lord sent us here Abby you need deliverance from the bondage of Satan.’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    Carol turned her head towards her husband, ’This is my husband pastor Ndambo,’ she said and then she introduced Chibuye and Annie.
    She then went on to explain the purpose of their visit.
    Abby stepped aside and allowed them to walked into the house.
    She led them to the living room and asked them to sit down.
    ‘Where is your husband?’
    ‘He is at the hospital, my youngest child is unwell, in fact let me just say my children are unwell, two of them are battling for their lives and I don’t know where the other one is,’ she said as tears started to form in her eyes.
    ‘The lord is merciful,’ the pastor exclaimed
    ‘As I was praying I saw a room and inside that room was a lock on the floor.’
    The pastor closed his eyes, ‘That room hasn’t been opened in years, in that room lies the fate of this household,’ he said
    ‘It’s the room where Leila was named and dedicated to the spirit of your son.’
    Carol looked at Abby and shook her head,
    ‘This is where you got it all wrong Abby my son was a peaceful being, he never harmed anyone while he was alive he would never harm anyone even in death.  Whatever you sacrificed your child to isn’t my son Chilufya.’
    ‘What?’ she asked in surprise
    ‘We don’t have the whole day, please take us to that room, it’s about time the devil went back to where he belongs.’

    Chapter 31

    Special Insert dedicated to My Zozo, 'Zondiwe' the birthday girl. Happy Birthday girl, I hope you had a day as amazing as you are, may God grant you the very best that life has to offer because you deserve it.
     Thanks for being a great support system. Too much love for you.
    ‘It’s irrelevant to go to war with someone who is fighting from victory when you are fighting for victory. Yours is a losing battle,’ Ella
    She grabbed a set of keys off the shelf and led them to the dark room, she put the key in the lock and turned but it refused to open.
    ‘Maybe my husband changed the padlock,’ she said
    The pastor smiled, ‘You have the right keys,’ he said, ‘Please step aside.’
    He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crucifix and placed it on the handle and said a short prayer then he asked her to open again.
    This time around, the door flew open as soon as she turned the key.
    The room was dark and had an eerie feeling in the air.
    Abby switched on the lights.
    The room was rather large; in the middle off the space was a large double bed. Soft red carpets lined the floor and paintings of various sizes hand on the wall.
    At one end of the room was a large mirror and above it painted in red where the words, ‘Mine alone!’
    Pastor Ndambo walked towards the mirror and looked through it.
    ‘Blood of Jesus,’ he exclaimed before he started praying and everyone joined.
    The prayers started getting more intense, the mirror started vibrating.
    Leila and the figure were standing in front of the ball room the rest of the crew had formed a semi circle around them.
     There was singing, dancing and drumming
    Leila squeezed her eyes shut drawing in deep breaths, her heart beat in her chest even if it was finally happening, there was a part of her that still thought she was having a bad dream that she would soon wake up from.
    In the height of the ceremony, the sangoma held a bow of chicken blood and began to chant in a foreign language.
    He was about to hand the bow to Leila so she could take a sip when the ground beneath them moved suddenly and a loud rumble filled the room.
    ‘Did the ground just shake,’ Leila asked no one in particular
    ‘Get done with the ceremony,’ the figure ordered.
    When he wanted to hand the bow to Leila for the second time, the ground shook fiercely under their feet and the walls began to tremble.
    Leila stumbled and fell backwards.
    ‘They want to battle with us,’ the creatures said at the same exact time
    The dark figure chuckled, ‘If it’s a war they want then let’s give them one.’
    A thunderous roar filled the room, ‘Yes let’s give them war.’
    Leila watched in horror as the dark figure began to change, his features becoming that of a night owl.
    She the witnessed the owl getting bigger and bigger before it flew over to her and wrapped its wings around her body tightly and flew out.
    As the pastor was praying out loud, Abby fell to the floor and started wailing.
    ‘Father, make the spirit lose its hold on every member of this family in the name of Jesus,’ Carol said out loud
    Just then, the temperature became freezing in the room and a light flashed through the window along with a loud screech.
    More screeching filled the air as a large black owl flew into the room and dropped Leila on the bed, Leila was unconscious.
    ‘OMG,’ Chibuye exclaimed with his eye brows raised up in fear.
    ‘I command you in the name of Jesus to lose your hold on her for she doesn’t belong to you,’ the pastor pointed at the Owl.
    The owl screeched in rage as it looked at the pastor with its big round eyes. ‘She is mine, I own her what right do you have to interfere in this arrangement?’
    ‘Lord I cover your daughter with the precious blood of your son Jesus Christ, make her immune to the touch of evil, I break the power of all curses spoken, all rituals and sacrifices performed,’ he prayed out loud as beads of sweat rolled down his face.
    ‘Do not mention that name in my presence,’ the owl spoke angrily.
    ‘Leave and never return in the name of Jesus,’ Carol said
    ‘Who are you that you should command me to leave?’
    ‘You want to know who I am, then turn back into your human form and face me.
    The owl’s eyes began to glow a fiery red, he looked like the actual living devil. Just then he quickly flew towards Chibuye.
    ‘No!’ he screamed when he felt the searing pain of its claws cutting through his face.
    ‘He that is in you is greater than he that is in him,’ the pastor said to Chibuye, ‘He knows your weakness, speak to this evil spirit and command it to leave you now in Jesus name.’
    All of a sudden every ounce of fear that was in Chibuye was demolished.
    ‘There is no connection between light and darkness I command you to lose your hold on me in Jesus name,’ he said out loud
    The owl screeched and loosed its grip.
    ‘I am covered by the blood of Jesus and no evil spirit shall lay its hand on me.’
    The Owl angrily flew out of the room.
    ‘There is power in the name of Jesus to break all chains of evil, someone please shout glory,’ the pastor said
    ‘Glory!’ they screamed jumping up and down, Abby was now up standing.
    Pastor Ndambo walked over to the bed so he could pray for Leila.
    ‘Not so soon,’ a rumble of voices filled the air followed by loud a screeching sound.
    At that moment, a lot of owls flew into the room.
    He has just walked into the house when he felt a searing pain shooting up the back of his neck. The pain ran up to his head then over his face.
    He cried out in pain, his eyes rolled back and he fell to the ground.
    ‘When the code is broken, calamity shall strike,’ a voice spoke above him.
    His mind flashed back to another time many years back.

    Chapter 32

    PRE FINAL- Edit as you read
                                 Flash Back
    He grew up in a poverty stricken family, his father was a very religious person, he faithfully served God till the end yet he had nothing to show for it.
    He detested poverty, always had and vowed never to be as poor as his father.
    A few years down the line when he graduated from University, Daniel was thirsty for good money, he didn’t want to waste time looking for a job that would pay him peanuts for his services, he wanted real quick money.
    In his incessant quest to become wealthy, he was introduced to a powerful native doctor who assured that he could help him become wealthy on condition that he would offer his first female child once he got married.
    Daniel agreed, it was a decision he didn’t blink to take.
    ‘As long as you keep to your word then poverty will no longer be your companion.’
    ‘Thank you Baba,’ he bowed his head.
    ‘For your ritual you must bring a living organism to sacrifice, a razor blade and a black cloth.’
    A week later, Daniel visited the native Doctor again he had managed to secure all the items for the ritual.
    ‘Your determination will take you far,’ Baba Chama praised him
    He got the items from Daniel and ordered him to get down on his knees then he picked a bottle with some sort of liquid and poured it on his head.
    Daniel felt dizzy, his eyes became blurry and before he knew it, it was lights out.
    When he awoke, he found himself in a strange room, he was lying on the black clothe that he had handed to the native doctor and his clothes had been removed.
    He sat upright and looked around him, the room had black walls, bones littered the floors and images of skulls decorated part of the walls.
    There was a large table in the center of the room with seven chairs arranged around it and on top of the table was a gold snake sculpture.
    Daniel had no idea what he was doing in this strange and creepy room but he figured this had something to do with the Baba Chama so he waited.
    A moment later, the door flew open and five men all dressed in black robes walked in.
    ‘Who are you?’ he asked
    Without responding, they all sat down at the table.
    An awkward silence filled the air until Baba Chama walked into the room.
    ‘Welcome to the realm of darkness,’ he told Daniel
    Daniel nodded his head.
    The native Doctor chanted a few things in a strange language then he asked Daniel to wash his face in the dish of water that had been placed on the floor.
    Afterwards he handed him a cup with blood and ordered him to drink it. Daniel didn’t hesitate he grabbed the cup and gulped the blood down.
    ‘Great one, oh master of the universe and king of darkness i present to you Daniel, a young man in search of wealthy,’ Baba said
    Just then a bright light illuminated the whole room and a voice spoke,
    ‘Young man, do you know what you are about to get into?’
    ‘Yes great one,’ Daniel responded
    ‘The pledge.’
    ‘I solemnly swear to serve and honor you oh great one for as long as I shall live. I will abide by the cult rules and keep my promise to you.’
    A screeching sound echoed in the room as soon as he said that, then Baba Chama got a razor blade and made a small cut on Daniel’s shoulder.’
    He screamed out in pain and as suddenly as it appeared, the pain was gone.
    ‘Welcome to the cult Daniel,’ he said before he vanished into thin air.
    The air was filled with smiles of pleasure as they all cheered for the new member. Baba gave Daniel a black robe and asked him to seat down.
    Several months past and things started looking up for Daniel the native doctor and his god had kept their words, his life of poverty was long gone. The cult members met once every two months for different sacrifices, it was during one of these meetings that he met one of the old cult members Kalu.
    The cult leader who only appeared as a dark hooded figure was his brother most of the members of the Kalufyanya family were members of the cult, for them sacrifices brought them wealth and prosperity.
    Seven years
    That’s how long it had been since Daniel joined the cult, he had been faithful through all these, he and his wife were living a large life they even had a son.
    ‘She is pregnant again,’ a voice echoed in the air while Daniel took his bath.
    ‘How do you know that?’
    The figure laughed, ‘I see everything.’
    Daniel responded with silence.
    ‘She will give birth to a girl this time, remember the promise you made to the cult.’
    ‘Yes great one, I can never go back on my word.’
    ‘But how do I make the sacrifice, do I have to wait for the child to be born then kill her?’
    ‘I want this one alive, I can feel her strong energy I want her to myself. Kalu will let you know how you make the sacrifice.’
    Kalu had been married once before marrying Carol, his ex wife had died in a road traffic accident when she was two months pregnant.
    He joined the cult when he was fifteen it was his father who initiated him before he passed on and since then this was the only life he had known.
    He married Carol for his own selfish gains all he wanted from her was a son he could offer to the dark figure so that more years could be added to his life.
    He wanted to sacrifice his son in a way that would raise suspicions from his wife and her family members and when the situation presented itself he didn’t hesitate to use it.
    Initially it wasn’t Alfred that pushed Chilufya off the stairs, an evil spirit had constantly whispered in his ears to push his friend. With Chilufya dead and Alfred as the killer, the unborn child could be claimed without any objections. They had killed two birds with one stone.
                    Present Time
    ‘Not so soon,’ a rumble of voices filled the air followed by loud a screeching sound.
    At that moment, a lot of owls flew into the room.
    They were filled with rage and anger.
    ‘Oh great one, ruler of darkness and king of thy world, manifest your power,’ a voice echoed.
    All of a sudden the room became very cold and the ground beneath them began to vibrate.
    ‘You have nothing against us oh you agents of darkness,’ Carol said
    ‘Great one, manifest your power oh great one.’
    The ground vibrated some more, Chibuye and Abby where the first ones to fall to the ground.
    ‘In the mighty name of Jesus Christ I command you to fall,’ Pastor Ndambo stumbled
    ‘You think your word is enough for us to fall?’  A voice asked before they started spitting flames of fire.
    Pastor Ndambo and his wife did not stop praying, they prayed as hard as they could, the more they mentioned the name of Jesus, the weaker the owls became and finally they began to fall one after the other.
    When they were all on the ground, they began to change back to their human form.

    Chapter 33 (Final)

    There are no secrets that time does not reveal.
    At that moment, the owls began to shift and transform.
    Suddenly in place of the owls lay Daniel, Kalu, his wife & other cult members.
    ‘Daniel!’ Abby exclaimed as she stared at him in shock.
     ‘For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light,’ said pastor Ndambo
    ‘Daniel, what is the meaning of this please tell me it’s not what I think it is.’
    Deep down Daniel knew he owed his wife an explanation, he closed his eyes took a deep breath and began to narrate how he became a part of the cult.
     ‘It all began when I graduated from university several years ago----,’
    After what seemed like a fair amount of time, he finally concluded.
    Everyone was quiet, unable to believe a man could go to the extent of selling his own child for money.
    Carol felt weak she couldn’t control her tears as much as she tried so she let them fall down her cheeks.
    ‘You killed my son, you killed Chilufya,’ she said her voice breaking with emotions
    ‘I hope you never find peace, I hope you die miserable deaths all of you,’ Abby cried ‘Pastor you need to pray for my children, free them from this bondage,’ she pleaded.
    ‘It is done,’ he exclaimed
    He walked towards Leila, who was lying on the bed and held her hand,
    ‘By the blood of Jesus Christ I break the power and hold of every curse that came through rituals. I speak freedom in Christ over your life the chains of the evil ones are broken and rendered useless.’
    Almost immediately, Leila’s eyes snapped open.
    It is done!’ he exclaimed
    2 Months Later
    He shot up straight in bed he was covered in sweat and was heavily breathing.
    ‘It was just a nightmare,’ he told himself.
    He closed his eyes for a brief second as the same nightmare ran over and over in his head.
    The nightmare wasn’t anything new for him.
    It had now become a part of his everyday life, a constant reminder of his past.
    Though he had no regrets about the life he had lived, he hated being tormented by nightmares.
    He stood up and walked towards the living room, the house was very quiet it was never this with Abby in it. Abby and his children had left after they found out about his involvement with the cult.
    He threw himself on the couch and it was at that moment that he heard a whisper, ‘Daniel,’
     ‘Huh,’ he looked around to see where the voice had come from there was no one there.
    He took a deep breath, it was probably his imagination.
    A few minutes later, he heard it again, this time louder, ‘It’s time.’
    Before he could respond, he felt something wrap itself around his throat. He tried to fight it but the object forcefully squeezed tightly around his neck. Eventually he gave up the fight, his eyes rolled to the back and a white fluid came out of his mouth. With his body twisting with convulsions he fell down.
    She was lying on the floor tears rolling down her cheeks, her head was spinning & her heart was aching.
    The images of the previous months were vivid in her mind.
    She couldn’t begin to explain how traumatized she was, the thought of her husband being part of such an evil cult, the thought of him lying to her for several years, how could she have been so blinded.
    She quickly wiped her face with the palm of her hand when she heard a knock at the door.
    ‘Come in,’ she said
    Alfred walked into the room he walked towards her and sat down next to her.
    ‘You are crying again?’ he asked
    ‘I just can’t get over this Alfred your father has ruined our lives.’
    ‘It’s going to be okay,’ he consoled her
    ‘Will it ever be okay?’ she wondered, she regretted not standing up for her daughter, as a mother she had failed.
    ‘I want to apologize to Leila for hurting and treating her like an outcast,’ Alfred said
    Abby managed a weak smile, ‘She is your sister reach out to her I am sure she will forgive you.’
    ‘You think so?’
    She parked her car on the side of the road and stepped out. Her children and husband stepped out too she held the flowers in one hand and held her youngest son’s hand in another.
    ‘Ready?’ Her husband asked
    She took a deep breath, ‘Yes.’
    They walked towards the cemetery grounds till they got to where her son was buried.
    A lump formed in her throat when she finally saw it
    ‘It’s there,’ she pointed at his graveyard.
    Carol knelt down besides her son’s grave and said a silent prayer then she spoke out loud, ‘I am sorry my baby, mummy didn’t protect you, I am sorry I failed you my darling, I hope you forgive me, I love you a lot baby, continue resting in the lord.’
    She placed the flowers on top of the grave and began to cry, everyone watched silently as she grieved for her boy, yes it had been over twenty years but she had still not gotten over his death.
    After a while she felt a sense of peace overwhelm her, this was the healing she had been craving for years.
    She wiped her tears and stood up her husband opened his arms out for her and embraced her.
    ‘He is resting in the lord,’ he whispered in her ears.
    She smiled.
    She told her children about Chilufya and what sort of a child he had been, after a while they held hands and pastor Ndambo prayed before they walked back to their car.
    He woke up strapped down to a hospital bed, he tried to pull his hands but the straps were too tight to break free from.
    ‘Shit,’ he cursed, why did they have to treat him like a dangerous criminal?
    Ever since the truth had been revealed Kalu had began losing his mind.
    He had become disoriented and sometimes suffered from hallucinations.
    Kalu had also been hearing strange voices, at times he would feel strong tingling sensations on his skin as if insects where moving under his skin.
    The dark figure had lost its ability to help him out, members of his family had been dying one after the other. He knew it wouldn’t be long before they came for him too, the great and mighty Kalu had fallen.
    He had been brought to the hospital and strapped to the bed to prevent his outbursts.
    ‘Hell awaits you, you shall burn,’ a voice echoed in the room, this wasn’t the first time he had this voice; this was the voice of darkness calling him home where he belonged.
    He closed his eyes took a deep breath, ‘It’s just a figment of my imagination,’ he thought
    When he opened his eyes, he gasped at the sight before him.
    Flames of fire were beginning to burn around him and thick smoke filled the room up. He was scared, he opened his mouth in a silent scream no sound came out only hot air.
    As the fire enveloped him, he heard voices but he couldn’t understand what they were saying.
    The pain was intense tears were slowly rolling down his face as he helplessly tried to break free.
    The fire wrapped around his body and clothes and before he knew it he was engulfed in flames.
    Sitting at the edge of the bed, legs crossed, staring back at her reflection in the mirror, she couldn’t help but feel pain as she looked at the scar across her face, a scar that served as a reminder of her father’s wickedness it was still so hard for her to believe her father was capable of such.
    She was disappointed in him and even if he was no more, she still felt some sort of hatred towards him for what he had put their family through.
    A knock at the door startled her out of her reverie.
    ‘Come in,’ she called out
    Leila walked in clad in a long black dress, long black gloves and a black hat.
    ‘Jada aren’t you dressed yet?’
    She looked up at her sister, ‘dressed for what?’
    ‘They are burying him today we need to pay our last respects.’
    ‘I am not going,’ she said
    ‘I am not ready for this I am still trying to get a hang of what happened I don’t think I can do this.’
    Leila held her hand and squeezed it, ‘I am sorry you had to go through this because of me.’
    ‘It’s not your fault, Daniel is to blame that man was wicked I just hope he burns in hell.’
    ‘Jada!’ Leila exclaimed
    ‘Let’s call a spade a spade, our lives will be so much better without him in it, you will be able to live your life without any restrictions and I will have some breathing space.’
     ‘I know right, anyway I have to get going, I will see you later.’
    ‘Alright sis.’
    She stood beside her father’s coffin and stared at his lifeless body, her face was blank & empty devoid of any and all emotion it was as if it was a funeral for a total stranger and not her father.
    After a short while, she turned away from the casket and walked out, Chibuye ran after her.
    ‘You are okay?’ He asked
    ‘Yes I am.’
    ‘Do you hate him?’ he asked
    She laughed, ‘No, I don’t hate him but I felt completely disconnected from him, it felt like I was looking at a stranger.’
    He kept quiet.
    ‘It’s a pity he didn’t give his life to Christ but I hope he rests in peace.’
    ‘Hope so.’
    Her mother walked out of the house weeping, Alfred was holding her.
    ‘I think we should go,’ Leila said
    ‘Leila!’ Alfred called before she could enter the car. She turned and looked at him.
    He walked towards her with his mother.
    ‘I know this is not the right time, please forgive me for being a jerk and treating you badly. You are my sister and I should have protected you from dad, I am sorry.’
    ‘It’s fine it wasn’t your fault after all you were just imitating your parents.’
    There was an awkward silence for a brief second
    ‘I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me one day Leila,’ Said Abby
    ‘I don’t hold any grudges towards you I just need time to find myself.’
    ‘I am sorry for your loss,’ she said before she opened the car door and slid into her seat.
    Three days later
    ‘You need to tell her how you feel,’ his sister said
    ‘Annie, don’t start.’
    ‘You like her why not be honest with her?’
    ‘When the time is right, I will tell her about it.’
    ‘She knows don’t think it’s the right time for me to tell her about it again.’
    ‘And when will the right time come?’
    ‘The right time will come sis, she has been through a lot already let her breath first.’
    ‘Alright, I am sure you know what you are doing.’
    He rolled his eyes, ‘I am not a little boy anymore.’
    He stood up, ‘let me get going,’ he said.
    ‘Where are you rushing too?’
    ‘Pastor Ndambo and I are going to visit Prophet Joachim.’
     ‘Oh how is that man doing?’
    ‘He is fine, pastor Ndambo has been praying with him, I am sure he won’t go back to his old ways.’
    ‘I hope so too, there are too many men of gold out there busy brainwashing people with fake prophecies, he is lucky God spared his life so he could do right by him.’
    ‘I know right. I am going now,’ he kissed her forehead.
    ‘Take care,’ she smiled
    He was happy Leila was finally free from the oppression of darkness he cared for deeply though he was going to wait for her to find herself before seeking her out for a relationship.
    He was also glad God had given him another chance to make it right with him and he wasn’t going to waste it this time around.
    She placed the flowers on his grave before she stood up.
    ‘Continue Resting in Peace Owen, I miss you,’ she said wiping her face with the back of her hand.
    She had come to say goodbye to him, she was moving out of the country to start anew elsewhere, after everything she had gone through she just wanted to go somewhere far.
    She had begun walking and talking the minute Daniel had confessed the truth.
    Leila and her pastor had also paid her a visit and told her the truth about her brother’s death, she had been mad at Leila but not anymore, she now understood Leila was just a victim too and it wasn’t her fault.
    A few months later
    ‘It’s done, it’s finally done,’ I screamed, I had finally managed to change my name from Leila to Grace.
     The name Leila is a reminder of my dark past and silent screams, keeping it will mean staying in that place that God delivered me from.
    You know why I chose the name Grace, Grace gives meaning to my new life, if not for his grace I would still be living in bondage, I would still be living in fear but because of Grace I am here telling a different story.
    Anyway it’s been a few months since I was rescued from the torment I had been living in for years, I feel so free and live, i have found inner peace in Christ and my life is finally moving in the direction.
    I am going after my dreams, the dreams my father shattered. I have applied to nursing school and by this time next year I should be in school, I am excited because this I have waited this long to do this.
    So my mother and I don’t have a stable mother/ daughter relationship yet but we do talk here and there, we are taking it one step at a time.
    Chibuye and I, we are still as close as ever but we are just friends, I am still trying to find myself, maybe in future we will have something great going but for now we are cool with bring just friends.
    *The end*

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