He dug the shovel into the ground. He watched keenly as its blade sank into the earth with very little resistance. Beads of perspiration had formed on his already moist forehead but he was done wiping them off. Sweat had begun to trickle into his eyes. The perspiration-soaked collar of his shirt clung to the nape of his neck. The discomforting feeling of grimy sticky sweat reminded him that he had gotten dirty. Very dirty. There was no redemption here.
It was a few minutes past midnight. The crickets taunted him with their shrill chirps. The owls booed him with their ominous hoots. The night mocked him as the moon hid behind gloomy clouds, refusing to beam down a respite of light into the darkness. The slim torch still clamped in his mouth, he kept digging. Sam and Sunday were at strategic points, looking out for intruders.
He was in a tight corner.
He wondered how he was the one who ended up with the shovel even though none of these was his idea. He wondered what would happen to him if he was ever caught. He felt a chill crawl up his spine and shook his head vigorously in a bid to shake the thoughts away.
He swore to God that he would never do this again. He would never walk this line. He would never hangout with this sort of friends. Not anymore. Never.
The hole had gotten deep enough.
He stopped to catch his breath. The next phase was the part he dreaded most. Taking a deep breath, he wiped his sweaty hands on his dirty shirt. He turned to look at the lifeless body. Rigor mortis had begun to set in. His stomach churned at the sight. He quickly grabbed the body by the legs. The thick body was heavier than he imagined. Bracing himself, he pulled with all the strength he could muster. The body moved about two feet and then wouldn’t budge. The body’s clothes must have gotten stuck in some undergrowth.
He dropped the legs and looked at his palms as he his hands quivered and tears clouded his eyes.
What had happened to him?
How did he become this thing?
He resolved to cut off his association with these fake friends that drew him deeper and deeper into the abyss of deranged evil. He would bury this body and this would be the last of it.
He pulled at the body again. It wouldn’t budge.
The crickets had stopped chirping. The moon peeped from behind the clouds, throwing a faint jab of light on the body.But the owls… the owls wouldn’t stop hooting.
Sick to his stomach and unable to take it any further, he pulled the body with everything he had.
That was when he slipped.
He hadn’t seen that coming.
It happened quickly. He heard a twig snap, some brush pulled from the roots, and he and the body plunged into the pit with a thud.
The hole was too tight.
The body was the right fit.
But he was below the body.
There was no room to struggle. His arms were clamped behind him. There was no room to push or heave. There was no room for any movement.
The thick hair of the corpse pressed his nose and mouth.
At first he panicked. Panic became trepidation.
He hoped with everything that his friends would return from the look out to yell at him or something. He hoped that someone would find him as he began to choke.
He could only hope.
He could not have known that his friends were not coming back.
He could not have known that they were never on the lookout.
He could not have known that they had fled the scene.
How could he have imagined that he would share his final moments in a pit that he dug; with the corpse of the person he had murdered?
The crickets had stopped chirping. The moon was shining in all its glory. But the damned owls!
The owls kept hooting.
Sandra’s Secret: 1
Sonia strutted with measured steps, her wide hips swaying rhythmically as though she were a model on the runway, her gaze focused on the entrance that led into the building known as Dazzle Towers. She was barely 1 year here but Dazzle Heights had become family. Even Boris.
Boris was one of the oldest serving security guards. A large, burly fellow a few inches shy of 6 feet, his almost grotesque body frame was a bodybuilder’s nightmare. With a massive upper body and wispy legs, he looked like he walked out of a caricature magazine. The irony? That was exactly how Boris loved it. His funny frame aside, he was the most punctual and dedicated security staff. Always first to arrive and last to leave, Boris would give anything for Mr. Alphonsus. As he liked to think, he owed Mr. Alphonsus his life.
Alfie, as he called himself these days, bragged that he was a self-made millionaire. Hailing from the eastern part of the country, Alphonsus grew up hawking sundry wares to survive. His mother had died just after delivery of her fourth child, leaving him and his three siblings in the hands of their father. Things went well for a while until his father lost everything in a deal gone bad. The man turned to the bottle and was always ‘bottoms up’. Many nights, Alphonsus and his siblings had to retrieve the community drunk -their father – from refuse piles. Some other nights, they had to carry him from some brothel or the other where he would be sprawled on the floor in a drunken stupor. Alphonsus had sworn to be nothing like his father.
Life, it seemed, honored his resolve. He had become the CEO of one of the fastest growing advertising companies in Lagos. Now with a 3D animation studio, a modeling agency and a fashion label under his belt, he acquired this building which he named Dazzle Towers to house everything in one place.
Sonia smiled at Boris who waved back as he almost keeled over. She held herself from laughing. She had this effect on him right from the first day she arrived for her job interview. It was almost unfathomable that someone as big as Boris would get wimpy around her. She waved at him and walked into the foyer, and rode the elevator to the 4th floor, the Marketing floor of Dazzle Heights Advertising.
Reaching the massive glass wall that led to the entrance, Sonia did a quick check.
Makeup light and precise? Check.
Her high collared shirt revealed just enough cleavage to spike the imagination. She wriggled until the pendant on her necklace sat comfortably in the cleavage. Check.
She flipped her body sideways and took a long glance at her hips. He skirt was tight enough to accentuate those hips and formal enough for a Monday morning at Dazzle Heights Advertising. Check.
Whipping out her iPhone, she let the camera roll. The morning was so good, the ‘gram’ had to know. She uploaded the best three and hash-tagged the hell out of them.
Now to start the day.
She pushed the doors open, slapped her bag on her desk and said an absent minded “hi’ to Sam, the nerd who was nestled in his corner behind his massive monitor. She waited to hear Sandra’s banter. Turning around, she looked to see if she was anywhere near her desk. She could see her Chanel handbag sitting rather awkwardly on a pile of files.
“Have you seen Sandra today?” Sonia called out to the nerd.
He murmured some incomprehensible gibberish and returned to his work.
Sonia shrugged. The office would soon be a buzz of people trying to beat deadlines and hit new targets.
She made for the kitchen and the coffeemaker, humming softly to herself as she filled her mug with coffee. She needed biscuits. Pulling the drawers and rummaging through the several brands that were neatly stacked in several rows, she could not find anything she wanted.
She turned towards the huge refrigerator, coffee in hand, humming to herself as she pulled open one of its massive doors. She let out a loud scream as she staggered from the fridge, flinging the mug and spilling coffee everywhere.
Sam raced into the kitchen to see what had gone wrong. Sonia was in shock, her wide eyes staring. Sam turned to look at the fridge. It was his turn to scream. Nested on one of the layers and staring back at him was the bloody, decapitated head of Sandra Owode Williams.
HE ZEDEK DIARIES. Part 1. Episode 3
“How is she?”
“Let her breathe”
“Don’t crowd her.”
Concerned voices echoed in the distance. I opened my eyes as slowly as I could. A lady stood over me, concern written all over her face. Befuddled, I was not sure what exactly was going on. I sat up slowly. That was when I noticed the crowd. Everyone, stared at me as if I was something from another planet.
The woman stepped back as I sat up.
“What happened?”I managed to ask.
No one said a word.
Something did not quite add up. I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and tried to rise to my feet. The woman backed away. So did the other people who stood a safe distance away.
I could not make head or tail out of their reactions. That was when it occurred to me to look for Salome. She was not nowhere to be found.
My breathing still labored and unable to compose myself on my feet, I sat back down, my eyes darting around for water. There wasn’t any, but the bottle of wine Salome had ordered sat a few inches away from me. I poured some into a glass and took a big gulp.
It still did not make any sense.
Why was everyone staring at me?
Where was Salome?
How long was I passed out for?
The questions still bugging my mind, I raised my head and asked the lady firmly, “What happened? Where’s the woman I was speaking with?”
First hesitant, then as if summoning courage, she spoke up, “Don’t you remember what happened?”
I must have woken up in an alternate universe filled with stupid people and silly questions.
“If I did, I would not have any need to ask you.”
The woman must have been miffed by my response. She straightened her dress, stiffened her back and spoke as curtly as I would have,
“You were not speaking with anyone. You were not speaking to anyone. You were talking to the air.” She bit her lips. “Then you made a loud, crazy noise and passed out.”
That was when I noticed that people actually had their phones in their hands and were recording everything.
I was not sure what was so intriguing but I knew I had to leave. The questions kept multiplying in my head but these people definitely did not have the answers. I grabbed my purse and phone and rose to my feet again. My heart was beating faster than I had ever felt before. The clarity of my vision was sharper than ever. There was something disturbingly odd about the people around me. It was like I could see into them, through them. There’s no easy way to describe this. I hurried towards the exit as a million eyes followed me and cameras clicked away.
From the corner of my eye, I made out the image of the lady in white staring from a distance. I turned to be sure, but it seems she vanished.
This was not how I had planned my day. I should never had come here looking for my boss. I should have cut the crap when everything acquired a new dimension. I hurried to my car and I as I made to push the unlock button on the remote, I noticed something weird about my reflection in the driver’s window. Ogling back at me was my image. A silver ball sat on my shoulders, enveloping my head. It glowed and glittered like a hundred stars.
It was like nothing I had ever seen.
It was a halo.
I froze as I watched my eyes begin to glow. Just then I noticed two men standing right behind me. Their menacing heads caged by a bizarre force field. Their eyes shone bright red; the cold claws of trepidation clutched my heart.
“We’ve found her.” One of them whispered, revealing the most cringe-worthy set of teeth I had ever seen.
His colleague pulled out a 12-inch blade of shiny steel. Instinctively, I turned to defend myself when the tip of the dagger hit me in the chest and sunk right in.
I gasped as a flood of fire lit up my nerve endings.The pain was unbearable. My knees buckled, my eyes clamped shut.
"We've got her." one of the duo growled.
I passed out.
“Please sit”, the sweet old lady motioned me to take a seat, her eyes still glued to me. “I can see why he chose you. You have the same traits.”Sep 062017
I was a little unsure.
“Are we here for the same person madam?” I asked as gently as I could.
“Mr Shonibare? Mr Kunle Shonibare?”
She stared at me for a moment, smiling as she did. I could see the sparkle in her eyes.
“Of course. Well, not Mr. Shonibare. At least not to you.” She beckoned on the waiter and ordered some wine. “He told me he has made the introduction.”
I stared blankly.
“Or has he not?”
Then I remembered his text message.
Her smile grew into a wide grin as she clasped her hands on the table. I could not help but notice the exquisite jewelry. The diamond ring, silver bracelets and…was that a diamond stud on her necklace?
“Well, I wouldn’t say we have the same traits. He’s a magnificent leader.” I looked down at my cheap wristwatch. It was about the only ornament I had on besides my ear rings. “Do you know where he is?” I asked.
“Of course.” She batted her eyes. “I know where he is. And I wasn’t comparing your traits with Zedek’s.”
“Who then were you comparing me with?”
“What’s your middle name?”
“No. Not that. The one your mother gave you.”
“Yes.” She blinked. “Kofo.”
“Why is that important?”
“It is the name of someone very dear to both of us.”
“Hold on.” I stammered. “I don’t even know your name. Who are you? Who is he? What is going on? Why am I here?”
“You have many questions.” She whispered as she raised her right hand before her face and admired the diamond ring.
Slowly she placed both elbows on the table, balled her right hand into a fist and began to rub the ring with the index finger of her left hand, all the while, keeping her gaze on me.
“I came with your answers my dear.”
“Are you even human?” I ventured.
“Not exactly.” She answered.
“Is Mr Shonibare – Zedek- is he human?”
“Are you aliens?”
She paused a minute as she stared deep into my eyes. I was scared I had asked the wrong question.
“Over there.” She pointed at one of the waiters as he stood to take orders from a guest. The guest was being rude and totally obnoxious.
“And there.” She pointed across the street to a little blind beggar that stood by the zebra crossing. He stood there every day with his stick in his right hand and a bowl in his left. He sang ever so beautifully. He attracted lots of comments and sympathy and low-denomination notes.
I turned to the lady in white.
“You’re wondering what similarities exist between them?”
“Well, plenty.” She rubbed her thumbs together, her elbows back on the table. “For one – they’re not human.” She paused. “They’re angels.”
“Yes. They are. And there are many others around you of whom you have no idea. From little nameless people on the streets, to some of the CEOs you respect and admire, we have our staff everywhere in this dimension.”
I raised my head to look at the waiter. He was still being berated by the customer who railed on and on. The manager had arrived and was doing the best he could to assuage the situation. The waiter stood by, hands behind his back, head bowed.
I turned to look at the beggar on the on the street and he was not there anymore.
Shocked, I rose to my feet to see if I could locate him somehow. I couldn’t.
“Did he…?” I struggled to say the words.
The lady in white nodded.
“He vanished? Disappeared?”
“Yes,” She responded. “And you only noticed because I pointed him out to you. You would never have noticed.”
I did not know how to react.
"Look that way." She pointed at the crowd that had piled by the Zebra crossing. "Look carefully."
I saw the young blind boy moving swiftly through the crowd. No one seemed to notice him or pay him any mind.It seemed as if he was invisible. He stopped by a lady who was searching frantically through her bag. That was when I noticed another man with a hood over his head. He also moved briskly through the crowd and seemed to be heading for the lady. The "blind" boy snapped his stick and the broken pieces morphed into two fiery stilettos. I could see the fire in his eyes as he stood between the lady and the approaching man in the hood. The hooded man must have been invisible too because no one seemed to notice him. No one saw the scimitar he brandished rather brazenly. He stopped in his tracks. I could not hear him but he seemed to be shouting in anger. Then he turned and walked away. The boy bent over and picked something from the floor. Someone pointed at him and yelled. The crowd turned towards the beggar who was suddenly visible to them at this time. He was back to his blind state, staff and bowl in hand. The lady yelled angrily at him and snatched whatever he had picked up from his hands. It was her wallet.
"What just happened?" I stammered.
“There is a lot going on in this world of which you have no idea."
"I don't think the man wearing the hood was coming to steal her wallet."
"Of course not. He would have cut her down. She would have slumped. And died. The official cause of death would have been fatigue."
I was dumbfounded.
"And she was so ungrateful." I was pained. "She did not know. He picked the wallet she had dropped carelessly and returned it to her."
"Yet, you saw how she reacted." She let her words sink. "There is a raging battle. The human race is at stake. The solution, ironically, has already been provided. But your race is distracted. You are distracted. You’re distracted by things you would spit on if you got to see your real value. You are distracted by the ephemeral. Your need to prove a point has clouded your true purpose, and your race is being lured to a pit that will swallow it. The human race in on the very brink. This is why I have been sent to you. My name is Salome. I am the Dream Maker. I have a message for you.”
With that she rubbed the ring again and it began to glow.
Without any warning, the little glow burst into a million magnificent lights that filled the room. Everything happened quickly.
I could not tell where I was or what was going on.
But I heard voices.
It was the weirdest feeling ever.
I sat in my boss’ office. He had been a mentor for the better part of 3 years as he showed me the ropes and taught me some the deepest secrets of the trade. Then last month, he introduced me to everyone that mattered. We were in meetings all day, every day for one month. And one day, he didn’t show up. No one had seen him. Then I got a call from management. I had a new position. The business was mine. 100%. I was the CEO of one of the fastest growing blue-chip companies in Africa.
I was only 24.
I looked, almost weirdly, into the eyes of the doorman as he let me into the lavish restaurant. He must have wondered what was wrong with me.Those days, I didn’t care. I just looked deep into a person’s eyes to see if he was the one; to see if he was my missing boss. I could see the story in the doorman’s eyes. It was a story of survival and determination. I respected him but that was not what I was looking for.
I walked in as the cool air from the air conditioner hit me. I could detect the scent of lavender in the air. I took in a deep breath. La Menu was noted for its expansive halls. You never knew who you would run into or who would see you. The ambience and the food just brought in more people. Parking was almost perfect too. Good parking in Lagos is a miracle.
My six-inch heels hurt. Still I stood. It was lunch time and the restaurant was abuzz with people walking hurriedly to their meals. I could pick out which colleagues were actually on a date, which family was trying to eat out and those people who came together just because they had to. I could tell the wide-eyed start-ups trying to sell an idea to angel investors. That was when I saw him.
He was all by himself as he ate slowly. My heart began to race as I practically ran towards him.
“Sir,” I blurted as I tapped him on the shoulder, my heart still thumping furiously.
“Well, hi!” The man raised his head to look at me.
My disappointment was flagrant.
“Sorry, I thought you were someone else.” I managed to apologize as I turned to look around.
“Baby, I can be whoever you want me to be.” He smiled, revealing a fine set of teeth. That was when I noticed the earring, and the neck chain. “So, what can I do you for?” He stretched his hand for a handshake.
I must have looked at him like he was something from a nightmare. The horror! His demeanor quickly changed and he went about his business.
The cheek of it!
Just then I saw a waiter wave at me. That was when I saw her. Her silver hair neatly packed in a pony tail. A beautiful smile lit up her aging face. She looked gorgeous in her white dress. A hundred thoughts filled my mind as I hurried towards her. She rose from her seat to receive me but I was already on my knees before she could hug me.
“Ekasan ma.” I greeted still awe struck.
“Get up my child.” She stretched her arms and grabbed me in bear hug.
“You must be Yemisi.” Her voice was sweet.
I did not notice that my hands were shaking, my eyes were teary and my lips quivered. She was the remaining link to one of the most important people I had ever met in my lifetime. My boss and mentor who took me in as his own child and raised me like one of his own. He taught me, corrected me and finally bequeathed so much to me. I knew him as Mr Shonibare until last night. Last night I got a strange text message from his number. He asked me to come to La Menu. He asked me to meet the lady in white. He said she would tell me everything I needed to know. He signed off with a name I had never heard before.
He called himself Zedek.