Bad Omen

Ignoring the rustling sounds of the dry leaves being blown around in the compound by the wind, she walks to the cleared spot on the ground and drops the basket. She wipes her hand on her cloth, moves to the hut, bends and goes inside. 

Few minutes later, she comes out and goes to sit on the cleared spot close to the basket. 

A man comes out of the hut, stretches and looks up at the sky. He exhales and he too goes over and sits on the other side of the clear spot. 

The woman brings out the little calabashes of food and they begin to eat. 

“Dim oma, what is wrong? You are not eating your favorite ‘ofe ora’ like you do. You don’t look happy and even when I came to call you from inside, you were in deep thoughts. Please talk to me. What is it? O gini?

He drops the fufu he is holding and lets out a disheartening sigh. 

“Dim oma,” she calls. 

“Ugom, I am worried,” he tells her. 

“About what?” She asks. 

“About what the Chief Priest said,” he replies. 

Ugo readjusts herself, “that’s true. You didn’t relate the outcome of your visit to the shrine yesterday. What did he tell you?” Ugo asks curiously. 

Her husband looks directly into her eyes, “Ugom, we are going to have twins,” he reveals. 

Immediately, “Tufiakwa. May the gods forbid,” Ugo spits. “Dim oma, how can the Chief Priest say that?”

“Are you calling the gods liars?” He asks her. 

“May I be damned if I ever blaspheme against the gods. Dim Oma, what I’m saying is that there is no way I’m going to carry twins in my womb and give birth to them. The Chief Priest may have made an unintentional mistake this time around. Think about it, my great grand mother did not have twins, my grandmother did not have twins even my own mother did not have twins. So how can I? It will not happen. It can’t happen. I can’t have twins,” she spits again. “I will give you a child and not twins.” She maintains. 

He gazes at his wife. 

“Dim Oma, stop worrying yourself. The gods will not allow such a bad thing to happen to us. Calm yourself down and eat, biko. Eat my husband,” she adds. 

She brings the fufu to his mouth and he eats it. 

Ugo comes out of the hut and as the night breeze blows on her, she wraps her arms around her body. She looks up at the dark sky with sadness. 

“Gods of my forefathers, please do not forsake me. Do not let me be put to shame. Do not let my husband be put to shame. For three years we have yearned for at least a child of our own to bring us blessing, not a curse. Gods of our land, I pray that you revert this curse if it is true and bless me with just a child. Please gods of our land.” She lets out a heartbreaking sigh and gently sits on a stone in front of the hut. 

“Ugom,” she hears him call and she turns around. 

“What are you doing outside in this cold night?” He asks her. 

She smiles, “I couldn’t sleep. The child was making me uncomfortable so I decided to come out for a bit,” she explains. 

“But you should have at least woken me up. Remember it is our child, not yours alone. So whenever things like this happens, let me know. Please my love,” he tells her. 

“Anugom,” she says still smiling. 

“Let’s go inside, this cold is not good for you and the child,” he tells her as he helps her up and they enter inside. 

Ugo’s screams fills the whole compound if not the whole clan as well. 

“Gods of our land, please protect my wife and my child. Please keep them alive,” he prays as he clenches his fists and paces around the compound. 

After about few more minutes of Ugo’s screams, he hears the cries of a baby. He could not contain his joy as he runs to the hut and back to where he had been standing. 

He turns around and sees the midwife looking downcast. 

Still smiling, “Adaku, how is my wife and child doing?” 

Adaku shakes her head, looks down and then back to him, “Bad omen,” she divulges. 

“No, no, no, no, no……….,” was all he kept screaming as he runs into the hut. 

He was still grieving when the Chief Priest arrived with his assistant carrying an earthenware pot. He looks up and his sadness is visible. 

Without looking at him, “Ozoemena, it has happened as I predicted. You know what you must do. First thing tomorrow else the goddess’s wrath will visit not just your family but the whole clan.” Then he turns to him, “tomorrow Ozoemena, tomorrow those weapon of destruction dies. For now, go in and bring them to me.” The Chief Priest orders. 

Ozo stands up and sluggishly heads into the hut. Few minutes later, he comes out with the babies, making efforts to ignore Ugo’s cries. Without looking at his babies, he hands them over to the Chief Priest who puts the babies into the pot. 

“You must come with two tubers of yams, two white cocks and two kolanuts for the cleansing of our land,” he turns around and leaves quickly while his assistant carries the pot and follows behind him. 

Ozoemena watches them with teary eyes till there are no longer in sight. 

Ugo walks out slowly and sits on the stone, staring into emptiness. 

She is startled as a hand touches her shoulder. 

She shuts her eyes knowing it’s her husband. 

“Why?” Ugo asks. 

He doesn’t respond. 

She takes his hand and holds it. 

“Why?” She asks again. “Why us? Three years of childlessness and then this. Obim, I waited, yearned, prayed and walked with pride for nine months, and all for what?” The sadness in her voice pierced through Ozo’s heart. 

Ozo squats and with his hand, he turns her head to him. 

“My love, you have to be strong. You have to be strong for me and you, for the child that we will have,” Ozo tells her. 

“And what if we have twins again?” She asks him. 

“We will keep trying. It is not the end of our world. As long as we have each other, we will be okay. We have lived three years without a child. At least people will know that you are not barren.”

“But they will say I have a cursed womb,” she cuts him short. He just stares at her. 

Softly, “do you know how it feels to not hear the cry of a child in this compound for three years and when I finally do, it’s a bad omen?” And then a tear drops from her eye. 

Ozo dries it with his finger. 

“Tomorrow we will get rid of the bad omen and we will keep trying,” he tells her and stands up. 

Ugo looks up at him. 

“For now, lets go inside. You need to rest,” he stretches his hand to her. 

“I am not pregnant and I’m not a nursing mother either. So there’s no need for all that care,” she comments sadly. 

“You’re still my wife and you deserve all the care I can give,” he states, still with a stretched hand. 

She looks away and reluctantly takes his hands. He helps her up and hugs her before taking her into the hut. 

Carrying the pot on his head, Ozoemena, Ugo, the Chief Priest with his assistant carrying the bag of the items for the sacrifice walk through the lonely bush that leads to the “ajo ofia” (evil forest), silently. Getting to the entrance, Ugo stops. 

The Chief Priest pauses but doesn’t look at her, Ozo urges her with his eyes, she ignores him. The Chief Priest continues while Ozo drags his wife by the hand into the Evil Forest. 

“Drop it there,” the Chief Priest points to a spot close to a tree and Ozoemena gently brings the pot down from his head and places it on the spot. 

The Chief Priest starts his incantations as he carefully takes out the sacrificial items from the bag, dropping them close to the pot, at the foot of the tree. As the incantations went on, Ugo holds on to her husband. 

“We are done. You’re free to go. The land has been cleansed. We have all been cleansed,” the Chief Priest, smiling, announces to them after the incantations had come to an end. 

“Thank you Great one,” Ozoemena and Ugo greets him in unison. And the Chief Priest nods in satisfaction. 

Ozoemena takes his wife by the hand and leads her out. Ugo turns back to look at the pot, tears welling up in her eyes. 

“Look at me woman,” Ozo says as he tries to shake her out of her grief. “The gods will help me give you a child and I will make you happy again. I will give you a reason to walk with pride again.” He tells her softly. 

Ugo looks at her husband and at that moment she believed everything he said as she felt a rush of peace down her spines. 

She stands on her tip toes and hugs him tightly. 

“I love you,” Ozo whispers.

Forget me

Getting to the palace they found out that it was guarded but not heavily. 

“How do you intend to go through them?” Udodi asked her. 

“Well, there was no plan of going in the right way, was there? We stick to the plan and that’s how we are going in,” Binyelum replied. “Let’s go,” she added. 

Udodi held her hand as she made to move. 

“Binye, wait! What if you get there and he embarrasses you, what will you do? Remember all he said to you,” Udodi expressed. 

“Udo, Chidubem is my family. I know he hurt me but my heart won’t be able to get around this until he says everything to my face. It’s been two months already and I should have gotten over it but I can’t. I just need to know why,” Binyelum told Udodi. 

“If you say so. I know I can’t change your mind. Besides we’ve come this far so let’s get on with it,” Udodi stated. 

They lurked through the bushes and to the front of the palace gate. Binyelum sneaked up on the guard by the left and Udodi, the guard on the tight wrenching their necks. The maidens nodded at each other as they entered the compound. 

Cautiously making sure no one saw them, they searched every hut in the palace and hid themselves when anyone was in sight. 

The maidens met at the back of a hut. 

“He’s not in any of the hut. I searched all of it,” Udodi said softly as she breathed heavily. 

“Me too. Just the palace maids going about their duties.”

“Are you sure they didn’t see you?” Udodi asked as she looked out. 

“Of course they didn’t,” Binyelum replied. 

“I think we should leave now before anyone notices the guards at the front” Udodi suggested. 

“I’m not leaving without seeing Chidubem,” Binyelum responded. 

“But we’ve……,” Udodi was cut short by a singing voice. 

They kept quiet and listened. 

“Chidubem,” Binyelum uttered with a smile, “That’s Chidubem’s voice. He’s close.”

She traced where the rhythms were coming from into a nicely trimmed bush. She froze at the spot when she saw Chidubem playing his “ubo” and singing his heart out. When she regained her composure, she sluggishly walked towards him. 

“Chidubem,” she called. 

Immediately he stopped and turned to look at her. He was dressed in royalty. 

“Chidubem,” she said as she knelt down and touched his face. 

Tears streamed down her cheeks and it was as if the anger she held for two months till this last minute had vanished. Seeing him again mattered more right now. 

Udodi swallowed hard and turned to look around at intervals. 

Chidubem, without words stared into Binyelum’s eyes. 

“Why didn’t you keep her busy long enough?” Binyelum heard a voice ask. 

She turned back and saw the princess standing with Udodi. 

“Why didn’t who keep who busy for long?” She asked the Princess. 

“I remember you saying that you didn’t want to see Dubem anymore,” the Princess asked ignoring the question. 

“That was after you sent your messenger to tell me that Dubem wanted me out of his life,” Binyelum replied. 

“Did she touch him?” The Princess asked, this time around making it obvious she was talking to Udodi. 

“Yes my Princess,” Udodi stammered. 

Binyelum was nonplussed but quickly collected herself. 

“What is going on here? Udodi, why do you have to answer to her?” Binyelum asked. 

Disregarding her, “One job, Udodi. I gave you one simple job to hold her off but you failed. You’re going to pay for this,” the Princess blurted.  

“My princess, I can explain,” Udodi quivered. 

Snubbing Udodi, she turned to Binyelum, “And as for you, I’m going to kill you,” she uttered as she made to grab Binyelum’s neck. 

Mixed feelings of fear and confusion circumfused Binyelum as the Princess made to hold her but she grabbed her hands instead. 

“Binyelum,” she heard him call. 

Letting the Princess who was still struggling go, she turned around and their eyes met. 

“Dubem,” she said and walked over to him. 

The Princess was filled with rage. 

“Binyelum, where have you been?” Dubem asked when she got close to him. 

She chuckled, “Dubem, you told me to stay away from you; you made it clear that you didn’t need me anymore, that you’re fine without me,” Binyelum explained. 

“When did I tell you that?” Chidubem asked her, confused. 

Surprised, “two months ago through the King’s messenger after you came to play for him and you never returned,” Binyelum told him. 

Chidubem looked at the Princess and gave her a bad eye. 

“Binyelum, do you think I’d ever live without you?” He asked as he walked towards the Princess with his hands behind him. 

“Sincerely no, that’s why I came all this way to hear you say it to my face,” Binyelum said from behind. 

Staring into the Princess’s face, “I felt something leave my body when I felt her hands on my face again. What does that mean, Princess?” he asked the Princess who looked at him with disdain. 

Binyelum sighed and closed her eyes as she compassed what had happened. 

“I told you that I was not interested. Why did you have to do this?” He asked her softly. 

“Why?” He thundered and the princess shook. 

Her guards made to move. 

“One more step and you’ll all visit the grave very early,” Binyelum threatened. The guards all knew her as a fierce warrior so they all withdrew. 

She walked up to where the Princess and Chidubem were standing and gave Udodi an ear splitting slap. 

“You deceived me for two months. My friend! You know how long Chidubem and I have been together but you still chose to stab me in the back. Just so you know and I mean both of you,” she said referring to Udodi and the Princess.

“Nothing will ever separate from Chidubem and I’ll fight for us no matter the cost. Don’t ever forget that,” she said spitting in front of them. 

“Ever,” Chidubem added. 

Binyelum turned to him excitedly, “I missed you,” she said as she took off the beads he was adorned with. 

“I can’t believe I spent two months without you,” he uttered hugging her tightly. 

“It’s okay my love. I won’t let anyone one come between us again,” she assured him. 

 He drew her close and with his arm around her neck, they walked out of the palace. She feigned she wanted to hit one of the guard and they all moved back in fear causing  Binyelum and Chidubem to laugh out loud. 

Adaolisa

She took out the ropes and they began to tie them up. 

“So you rascals have been the ones giving Erimma hard times? The poor woman has been crying and begging you to stop. Having ruined her for so long the least you could have done was to stop but no you decided to stress my team and I. Now you’re going to pay for all you’ve stolen and all you’d have stolen,” She said as they finished tying them up. 

“Do you have other accomplices or is it just the two of you?” Uche asked. 

The boys were too scared to respond. 

“If they won’t talk then let’s lock them up. The Chief will decide what happens to them,” she stated. 

“Get up,” Udodirim thundered. 

They dragged them and led them through the grasses. 

“Adaolisa, you didn’t tell us there was anything between the both of you,” Udodirim stated. 

Acting surprised, “Both of who?” She asked. 

“Ugonna and you of course or are you trying to deny you were blushing when he was looking at you on our way here?” Udodirim explained. 

“Please oh, he could have been looking at any of us,” Adaolisa denied. 

Laughing, “At any of us. I saw them. Ada and Ugonna are in love,” Uche said. 

“Shhhhhh,” Adaolisa said covering Uche’s mouth. 

“Fine. But we’re in the middle of the road. Do you want another ear to hear,” she told them and they smiled. 

In a low voice, “You do not want Ugo or I to be punished,” she added. 

“You’re right my friend. Do you know most times i wish we could be with the men we liked whenever we wanted,” Uche said with a frown and then a smile, “then I’d be with Zube.” 

Adaolisa looked at her friend in astonishment as she blushed and raved on about how much she’d want to be with her heartthrob. 

“My dear you’re not the only one who has such dreams. I wish everyday to be with Nnochiri,” Udodirm said sadly. 

“Keep your dreams to yourselves if you do not want to be banished. Don’t let these dreams of yours blind you from the truth. Men and women are meant to be apart until marriage,” Adaolisa warned them. 

Udodirim rolled her eyes, “You’re saying that because you’re 23 and soon you’ll be 25 and you’ll be able to get married,” Uche said. 

Adaolisa laughed out, “You’re talking as if I’m a million years older than you girls.”

“Two months is a big deal,” Udodirim stated. 

“See who’s talking. Five months is a bigger deal,” Uche verbalised and they all laughed. 

“Whatever. Let’s go and report theses thieves to the Chief before it gets late,” She told them and they left. 

“Knock, knock, who’s here?” Adaolisa shouted from the front door. 

“Who’s there?” A male voice asked from inside the hut. 

She didn’t respond but waited for the hut owner to come out and when he did she started smiling. 

“It’s ‘oge nkiti’ and I’m here to see my father,” she said. 

He laughed, “Come in Asam. You’re welcome.”

“Thank you,” she replied going in with him. 

“You sit down here and wait. I’m preparing ‘ofe onugbu’ for you,” he told her. 

“Okay nnam. I can’t wait to lick my fingers,” she responded and he laughed hard. 

He left through the back to continue with his cooking. 

“Nnam, I’m hot. I’ll go and take my bath,” she shouted from inside and didn’t wait to hear his reply because she knew he heard her. She grabbed a wrapper and headed to the local bathroom. 

Obisike heard his daughter’s screams from the bathroom and he runs to check out what had happened. 

“Asam, what’s wrong?” He asked when he got there. The occupants of the huts close to his had begun to gather.  

Still trying to tie her wrapper she answered her father. 

“Dike was here?” Obisike asked Adaolisa. 

“What is Dike was here? What happened?” And elderly man asked from behind. 

Adaolisa shook with fear.   

“Dike came into the bathroom and tried to………,” she said and shouts of abomination filled the air. Her father grabbed her arm and dragged her to the centre of the huts shouting for people to gather. He explained everything and Dike was locked up at the village square. 

Obisike and his wife who had rushed do the scene earlier on tried to calm Adaolisa down. 

“Ugonna you have to calm down and cheer up,” Udeh told his friend. 

“How do you expect me to calm down after what just happened? Do you know how I held myself from knocking out all his teeth?” Ugonna fumed. 

“Well, we should be grateful you didn’t. If not, you’d have been in prison with him and suspicions would arise about you and Ada. So we thank your ‘chi’ for helping you keep calm.” 

Without replying, Ugonna got up from the bare floor, dusts his skirt and adjusted himself to his guarding position. 

Loud cries and wailing woke the village up the next morning. Everyone gathered around the village square in no time. Immediately she sighted Adaolisa, she ran towards her and grabbed her like a mad woman. 

“She killed him. She killed my Dike,” was all Dike’s mother kept repeating as she pulled Ada’s hands and clothes. 

Some women succeeded in tearing them apart. 

“Calm down, woman. You can’t wake the village up this morning and still keep us in the dark. What happened?” The Chief asked. 

Dike’s mum dried her tears with her wrapper. 

Still sobbing, “I came to check up on my son in the night and I saw him standing up with his face to Adaolisa so I decided to let them be. I thought maybe they were trying to settle things. That was why I didn’t report seeing them together so I left. This morning,” her sobs grew louder. “I came to bring my son some food and I met him lifeless in the cage,” she stammered amidst tears. 

Loud gasps and murmurs followed. Eyes were fixed on Adaolisa while her mother drew her close. 

“Adaolisa, I’ll ask this once. Did you kill Dike?” The Chief asked. 

Immediately Adaolisa went on her knees. 

“Nnam, I did not go close to him. I didn’t even touch him. I only asked him why he did it and I found out he wasn’t even remorseful,” Adaolisa explained to them. 

“And that was why you killed him,” Dike’s mother vocalised cutting in. 

“My father I didn’t do it,” Ada said in tears. 

Adaolisa’s mother glanced at her husband and saw the utter confusion written all over him and her worry grew. 

The priestess was sent for to make consultations and tell them what had happened. 

“Udoka,” the priestess callee out and Adaolisa’s mother looked at her. 

“My Chief, I warned you about consulting the gods before we accept Adaolisa into this community but you refused instead you decided to make the childless couple happy,” the Priestess said. 

“What are you trying to say, Priestess? This issue has been long buried,” The Chief told her. 

“Obisike and his wife have brought in a cursed child into this village,” she declared. 

The villagers gasped. 

The Chief looked at Obisike and then at Udoka. 

“But Adaolisa has been a source of peace to this village. How can you say she’s cursed?” The Chief demanded. 

“A child found outside this village, a non virgin of twelve with nothing about her background.” 

The shock on Adaolisa’s face and the surprise on the villagers were inexplicable. The Priestess had succeeded in revealing a secret the Chief and Ada’s parents had kept for eleven years. 

“Or how would you explain what I see in the spirit. No dagger or finger scratches but he’s dead and you say she’s not cursed,” the Priestess continued. 

Adaolisa looked at her mother and then at her father. She was hurt. 

“She must be killed,” the Priestess stated. 

“No, you won’t touch my child,” Obisike roared from the other side and everyone turned to him. 

Ignoring him, the Priestess turned back to the Chief signalling she awaited his response. 

“She dies,” the Chief voiced. 

Adaolisa exhaled, her mother fell faintly to the ground.

“Pull yourself together Ugonna. We can’t risk losing two good people in this village. Don’t do anything stupid,” Udeh said as he held Ugonna with all the strength he could muster.  

“You’re all ungrateful. After everything she’s done for all of you. You will kill me with her,” Udoka ranted as she followed the guards leading her daughter to be killed. 

With her hands tied backwards, they bent her head forward. Udoka screamed. 

As the guard lifted up the ax and made to bring it down on her neck, fire started falling from the sky, burning everything it touched. 

The villagers ran and some hid under trees as they burned slowly. The guards left Adaolisa and ran away. Adaolisa opened her eyes due to the sounds she was hearing. She raised her head up and saw a flame of fire falling directly on her. 

“Ada,” Udoka called out from underneath a tree. But instead the fire fell directly on the ropes holding her hands together. 

Adaolisa closed her eyes and opened them, her eyeballs became transparent like water. Slowly water erupted from every part of her body as it raised her up above the ground. 

Ugonna had broken free from his friend and ran to where Adaolisa was being held. He and everyone marvelled at what they saw. 

“No wonder Dike was wet. She really killed him,” Dike’s mum said. 

Adaolisa controlled the water until it quenched every fire. The water slowly stopped as it put her down. She tardily walked to her parents and hugged them. They held her as they walked out of the scene. She stopped in front of the astonished Priestess and Chief. 

“I remember now. I killed the men who raped me when I was 12 and I killed Dike because he wanted to try the same thing,” she told them. 

She walked away from them still holding her parents hands. 

She stopped again as she approached Ugonna, they stared into each other’s eyes as everyone watched. She smiled and walked away with her parents while the Priestess’s gaze followed them. 

My Birthday 🎂

Jeremy opened the door and we all stepped into the motel. The interior decor; simple but exquisite. We were still admiring the decors when she approached us. 

“Welcome,” she said smiling. 

We all turned to look at her and they couldn’t resist returning the charming smile. 

“Hello, I’m Brenda, your hostess. Actually, I own this place,” she told us still smiling. 

“It’s beautiful,” Gabriel stated. 

“I know right,” she responded. 

“Thanks for having us. This is going to be a fantastic birthday,” I giggled as I took out my phone and started taking selfies. 

“A birthday you say?” Brenda asked us. 

“Yes it’s my girlfriend’s birthday,” Gabriel replied placing a kiss on my cheek. 

“Oh, I see. So are there more of you coming or it’s just the four of you?” Brenda inquired. 

Nonchalantly, “She doesn’t like the crowd. We are her only friends so yes it’s just us,” Jeremy responded. 

She smiled, “That’s good. So if they are together, are you?” She asked implying to Lili. “And she seems quiet.” 

Jeremy looked at Lili and smiled. 

Lili looks away from the painting she has been staring at, “Yes we are together but he has a girlfriend and I have a boyfriend. He’s my brother. And I’m just observing,” she grinned and then frowned again resuming why she was doing. 

“Creepy right?” I asked. 

“Not at all,” Brenda responded. “But I hope you guys have fun.” 

“Of course we will. That’s why we booked this place,” I uttered smiling. 

“And that’s why we are going to start from the reception, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Juicy June,” Gabriel started singing and they all joined making me blush but then… 

“Stop guys. I think Brenda isn’t okay,” Lili uttered. 

They stopped and we turned to look at her. Brenda seemed uneasy. 

“Ma’am, are you okay?” Gabriel asked while Jeremy moved to touch her. 

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” she replied moving backwards. “I just feel uncomfortable anytime I hear birthdays songs,” she told us. 

“Why?” I asked. 

Brenda exhaled and hesitated but seeing they were eager to know, she decided to speak. 

“I lost my son on his birthday,” We felt sudden pity towards her. “They drugged him to death” she explicated but then brightened up, “but it’s okay. That doesn’t stop me from trying to make young people like you have fun especially on a day like this one. So I’ll call the attendants to take you to your rooms,” she told us as she left trying to hide her sadness. 

After having our baths, we excitedly moved down to the place Brenda had set up for us to have a nice time. 

We opened the door and entered the room we had been directed to. Immediately the lights went off and we all shook with sudden fear. 

“It’s all right. Just open the door so I can call them to check the lights,” I stated as I reached for my phone. 

“No service,” she said aloud with surprise. 

“The door is stuck,” Jeremy said as he kept pulling the door. 

“That’s not possible,” Lili said. 

“Let me try,” Gabriel said and Jeremy stepped backwards. 

Gabriel pulled and pulled but it would t budge. Fear began to creep in and worse when we heard strange noises. 

“What’s that?” Lili asked in fear. 

I turned on my phone’s torchlight. The sounds grew closer and with shaky hands I  raised the light up. I screamed at what I saw followed by Lili and Gabriel. 

The zombie grabbed Jeremy by the neck and tried to strangle him but Jeremy struggled with it. 

“We need to do something,” I vocalized while Gabriel tried to find something that could come in handy and just then Lili jumped on the things’ back. I screamed. Gabriel tried to go get her but Lili started yelling and stabbing the zombie in the head with her pocketknife. Still, on his body, she stabbed him until he let Jeremy go and until he passed out and fell to the floor with her still on his back. She stood up and ran over to Gabriel and me with blood dripping all over her. 

Jeremy still trying to regain himself tried to stand up and then the ceiling started cracking. 

“What’s happening?” I asked trembling. We all looked around to see what was going on and before we could realize it, an arrow tied to a rope dropped from the ceiling and into Jeremy’s head, he cried out in pain. We rushed to help him but a figure dressed in all black dropped from the ceiling and obstructed us. She raised up her head and, “Brenda,” we called out in astonishment. 

When we realized what was going to happen, we ran leaving Jeremy behind. With my torchlight, we found a tatty staircase so we ran down. Brenda too rushed to the stairway but then she remembered something. She turned back to look at Jeremy and with an evil impulse and a cosmic force, she pressed the arrow deep into his head, killing him. 

She chased us down the stairs, caught up with us and jumped in front of us. 

Lili and I cowered as Gabriel urged us behind him. 

Brenda giggled, “Where do you think you’re running to? These stairs are endless, it leads nowhere. I have you locked in here.” 

“Why are you doing this?” Lili asked panting. 

“Weren’t you listening when I was explaining downstairs. It was people like you that killed my son and on a day like this,” she laughed ludicrously. 

“But we didn’t kill your son,” Lili stated. 

“You didn’t but you killed him again in the zombie I brought to life. So now I’m going to help you so you don’t get high and kill yourselves,” our minds began to settle until, “I’ll kill you myself,” she completed and we trembled with fear. 

I discerned Gabriel slowly opening the pocketknife he had collected from Lili earlier on. As Brenda made to drag Lili, Gabriel tried to stab her but she held his hands and knocked the knife off his hand. With her eyes, she flung me into the wall and how I was still able to hold on to my phone could explain how addicted I was. Gabriel and Brenda fought for a while and I was amazed at the physical and spiritual powers she possessed. 

Lili tried to pick up the knife but got herself hit by an unseen blow. She tried again but was been held back by invisible strengths. I couldn’t move, Lili was being held and Gabriel was really losing out as he had been battered already. 

I expired and bowed my head, I reflected on the wonderful twenty-second birthday I had pictured for myself turned out. I began to remember the good part from the road trip till when we got to the motel and then boom. 

I looked up slowly and laughed out loud. 

“Why are you laughing?” Brenda asked me whilst Gabriel sprawled on the ground. 

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you,” I started singing. 

“No, stop it. I said stop singing right now,” she ordered but it was too late. My voice filled the room and it weakened her. She held her head and fell to the floor on her knees. 

“Now Gabriel,” Lili roared. 

Gabriel, with groans of pains, stood up as fast as he could, picked up the knife and slitted Brenda’s throat. As her blood gushed out and air exhausted from her lungs, Lili and I became free. We ran to hug Gabriel. 

Toy store

“Mum, I like that one,” 4 year old Zainab said pointing to a doll that was nearly hidden on the shelf.

“I want the one close to it,” her elder sister Amina stated.

Ejiro looked closely at the dolls and saw they appeared uncanny.

“Of all the beautiful dolls in this toy shop, these are the ones you girls want?” she asked them.

“Yes mom,” the replied in unison. 

“I think you girls are not getting any dolls and I am sure your elder sister is going to get a better doll,” she told the girls.

“Mom, mom,” a voice came calling from the other side of the shelf.

“What is it?” Ejiro asked her eldest daughter.
Monsurat dragged her by the hand, “Come and see the doll I want.”

“I told you girls,” she said to the little ones as she followed Monsurat to the shelf where the doll she wanted was.

“That’s it,” she indicated as they got to the spot.

Ejiro’s smile disappeared immediately as she beheld the ugliest looking doll.

“What is wrong with all of you?” she asked furiously.

The girls cowered in fear.

She turned and saw the employees leering at her. She didn’t want them to think she was a bad mother but still didn’t want her children to get those hideous dolls. Girls of their age love colorful and pretty dolls.

“Fine, you girls should pick your preferred dolls,” she told them smiling.

The girls’ faces lit up, they hugged her and ran to take the dolls from the shelves.

“How much are these dolls?” Ejiro asked the cashier at the counter.

Smiling, “What dolls ma’am?” the cashier asked her.

Ejiro scoffed, “The ones my girls are holding.”
Still smiling, the cashier asked, “Ma’am, are you trying to toy with me?” 

“Young lady, I think you’re the one who is trying to toy with me here and I don’t like it.”

“But I don’t see any dolls with your girls,” the cashier replied.

Ejiro sighed, “Sweeties, hold up the dolls so she can see them very well,” Ejiro asked her girls and they did.

The cashier became uneasy, “Lucy, please come,” she called out to her colleague.

“Yes, what is it?” her colleague asked.

“This lady says her children are holding dolls but I can’t see any,” the cashier explained.

Lucy looked at Ejiro and then the kids, “I don’t see any doll either.”

Ejiro expired and looked at her girls; put out her hands to feel the dolls. She could see and feel it.

“Monsurat, Amina, Zainab, what are the colors of the dolls you’re holding?” she demanded.

“Black,” Monsurat said.

“Black,” Amina said.

“Black,” Zainab said too.

Immediately, all the lights went off and dark clouds filled the air. The employees screamed in fear. The kids panicked and Ejiro’s heart thumped.

Three dark shadows came into sight and walked toward them. As the shadows drew closer, Ejiro held her children close but a strong force pulled her and flung her into one of the shelves.

“Mom,” her kids cried out.

“You have trespassed and you will pay,” the shadows said and their voices echoed. The shadows touched the girls; they faded away, the cloud disappeared and the lights were restored.

“Noooooooooooo. Not my babies,” Ejiro screamed as she ran to the spot where they had stood. 

The store employees, still mystified couldn’t move.