The virus raged on. Official infection figures now topped five hundred. Thirty-two new infections were announced in one day in Lagos – the highest one day tally there has been in one state in Nigeria. The powerful Chief of Staff to the President succumbed to the virus. The world at large continued to reel. Bill Gates stayed determined to find a vaccine with his billions. Conspiracy theorists and the book of Revelations revelers made sure the world remembered that all of it was foreseen. Gates is planning to put the mark of the beast on us all through his vaccine. He was the anti-Christ. He always wanted to depopulate the earth. It was a large movement out there determined not to have anything to do with his “kindness”. Please do not get vaccinated they cried. But history was replete with rampaging naysayers at the advent of anything they did not understand. Christians also famously would not fly an airplane in the beginning for fear it was designed to take the children of the kingdom into the abode of Lucifer in the Bermuda triangle. But today their leaders own jets of their own. Unless COVID 19 was the end of the world, a proven therapy and a vaccine had to be the way forward.
Not that all that mattered to Maya at number 225 Katakata street.
“Thanks for coming to my rescue nurse,” she said when she entered Josephine’s double rooms.
“You’re welcome Maya.”
“But why are you helping me?”
“Sister code,” she said and winked, went over to the small fridge close to the only window in the sitting room and claimed a bottled of cold water for Maya.
“Don’t worry it’s sealed,” Josephine said on seeing Maya’s uncertain look. “I’m a nurse after all. Even though I live here, there are things I can still afford.”
“No, it’s not that at all. I grew up here. I’ll drink anything. I just don’t want water. I might throw up.”
“Yes. This one is different. I’m not as weak as with the other pregnancy but my cravings are something else. I only drink Fanta.”
“That is not good for you.”
“I know. Anything else just doesn’t agree with me. I hope that by the next trimester I will feel differently.”
“I hope so too. Unfortunately, I don’t have Fanta but I have orange juice.”
“I’ll try that.”
Josephine opened a fresh pack of orange juice and poured Maya a glass. She took it, sipped, winced, and then gulped it all down.
“Sister code,” Maya said after belching.
“Have you slept with him?”
“No,” Josephine answered automatically.
“Do you want to sleep with him?”
“Thanks for the honesty.”
“You’re welcome, dear. That is something I never lie or pretend about. We all have done something sexual we are not proud of and so let anyone who wants to judge, judge. If everybody knew who everybody has slept with, or intends to sleep with, the world will come to an end.”
“Typical Nurse Jo. I miss you nurse. I kind of miss living here.”
“Do you want to come back?” Josephine said.
“I’m not so sure. That’s complicated, with my sister and all. We don’t have a place here anymore.”
“Then why did you come?”
“Loneliness. Anger maybe. My new life is not working for me and I accept I have only myself to blame for that. When I thought that I have to suffer alone pregnant and the man responsible is out there screwing whomever he wanted, I thought to come and let him share the burden.”
“He never abandoned you. He is not the type.”
“You can have him back though.”
“Well, I don’t know about that.”
“He is vulnerable. He has always had that look since you left.”
“Then why haven’t you been able to get him in your bed?”
“It’s a mystery. Something always happens. I see the longing in his eyes. Maybe I will have to start undressing him from outside the next time I come that close. Because every time, the moment we break eye contact to get in the room something happens. I am now convinced that rapture will take place between the time we agree to fuck and when we start fucking.”
“Maybe it wasn’t meant to be,” Maya heaved.
“I know that as well. We almost always have that one person we should be fucking that we don’t get to fuck.”
“But he is just across the room from you. It’s only a matter of time. Maybe it is saving the best for last.”
“Ha-ha. You are the best Maya. I only have ass and boobs.”
“What more do men want? Meanwhile, I saw him kneeling before a girl just now. I’ve not seen her before. Tall and shapely.”
“The new tenant. Graduate awaiting youth service. Good body admittedly. Why am I not surprised that Ndifreke will be looking at her too?” Josephine said.
“Our man must be living the life. Me, you in a way, the sugar mummy down the road and now a fresh graduate,” Maya said.
“Just hook him with that pregnancy and marry him so we can all have peace.”
“That does not deter men you know that. And you haven’t told me you will back off.”
“I can always find a good dick trust me dear. I like him because he is handsome. But if you say to back off, I will back off.”
“Well, he is not mine now. So I can’t say that.”
“What happens now, nurse?”
“Stay here tonight while he thinks about it. Go back there in the morning. He doesn’t have it in him to turn back the woman he loves.”
“He doesn’t love me anymore.”
“Sure he does.”
She was surprised to see the boy materialize in the darkness. It was the naughty one she had noticed first. Funbi arranged the clothes she had removed over her arm and turned to go back into the compound.
“You like him. I can tell.”
“My name is Irikefe. I saw you talking to my boss.”
“Your boss ba wo?”
“He’s been waiting for you.”
“Hmmm, is this how jobless you are?”
“I just want to tell you not be deterred by Maya. She is nobody.”
“Now this is interesting,” Funbi said.
“See, fine girl…”
“Okay, Funbi. Listen to me. I was born and brought up in this compound. My father is the caretaker here. I have seen at least two hundred neighbours come and go. As soon as a new family moves in I can readily predict what their lives here will be like. Do not underestimate the import of this meeting.”
“Tell me something,” Funbi said and actually took a relaxed stance.
Irikefe stopped and swallowed. The girl was really fine. She wore a low cut, something that was rare amongst girls like her, that told you all you wanted to know about a woman’s confidence. She had the flattest tummy which accentuated her figure. He could tell also that she was not wearing a bra, and she did not need one.
“Erm,” Irikefe resumed. “You are very fine and I know the men here will not let you rest. Now you might think you are too much for us, many think that way but always underestimate the power of konji, especially given the way we live where you cannot lock yourself in one room and use a dildo. One day you will be overpowered by your own desire and you will give in. I have seen it time and time again. No fine girl escapes the dicks in a face-me-I-face-you. I just want you to give in to the right person.”
“I don’t believe I am listening to this,” Funbi said and chuckled.
“I like you that is why I want to guide you. Ndifreke is your man. Set your mind on him. That way you will not waver when the vultures gather. He did not know you would be interrupted earlier and I am sparing you the trouble of overthinking since you saw Maya.”
“Maya is a loser. She ran off with another man and thinks she can just come back into his life. That will not happen.”
“I like you Irikefe.”
“Taking panadol for another man’s headache.”
“Abba Kyari is my hero.”
“Good for you,” Funbi said and began to move away.
Irikefe held her by the elbow and closed in. “Ndifreke. He is your man. Don’t fuck up.”
Jide finished and pulled out of the inspector and stood in the middle of the room panting, dazed. What just happened?
The inspector whimpered and rolled on his bloodied bed. “What did you do to me?” he said to his assailant.
He turned on the lamp he kept close to his bed and howled when he saw the blood on the sheets. He attempted to sit up but he could not. His rectum and anal canal were on fire.
Jide stood there looking like he had just been dropped on the earth from Mars. His penis was still erect, but he did not know how that was happening. He touched himself and felt blood and faeces. What was going on?
The inspector cried out in pain as he again tried to sit up without success. Tears poured from his eyes as he was convinced that he had been maimed for life. Then he reached under his mattress for his service pistol, aimed it at the wavering lawyer and fired.
Achike bolted upright like he had just escaped from the claws of a lion in his dream. He was sweating profusely and breathing hard. His wife propped up on an elbow and moved closer to him and said: “What happened my husband?”
“Nothing. I’m going to the bathroom,” he said and climbed down from the bed and with two strides he reached the preceding room where his brother and mother in law slept on the floor. He reached for the light switch and flicked it on. Thankfully they lay apart, separated by a centre table and backing each other. But with his trained eyes he could see that things were not normal. If anything, it was too perfect. There it was, Eyonyam’s majestic bottom, prominent as a full moon, and Chisco stayed propped in the opposite corner and not even looking that way. Chisco. The Chisco he knew. After all the trouble he went through to earn the ticket to sleep in that room. He wanted to switch off the light and go out to the bathroom as planned but something kept tugging at his heart. Those two were too still for his liking. They did not even flinch when he switched on the light. He had been standing there for two minutes and he was sure that Chisco was not even breathing! So he moved closer. Since they were pretending to be dead, he would smell her vagina if he had to.
He went to her first. He looked her over closely. She was breathing all right, but she was again too still for it to be normal. The temptation to hold her waist and run his hands over that titillating mound of flesh was overwhelming. But he reasoned that that was not the time. First, he needed to deal with Chisco. He reluctantly turned to Chisco and this time, he inspected more closely. Then a voice behind him startled him and he tripped over the table and fell over Chisco and knocked him awake.
“Wetin you dey do my husband?”
“Brother you dey okay?”
“My in law. Wetin happen?”
Evae was at the door of the adjoining room. Chisco was on his feet and Eyonyam had sat up on her mat.
“I came to check on Chisco. My brother. How is your tummy now?” he said as he scrambled to his feet. He held the leg of the table as he stood up and his fingers touched something slimy.
“What is this?” he cried and quickly wiped his hand on his shorts. What did I touch?”
Chisco was quick to the spot and wiped the leg of the table dry with his bare hands.
“Nothing brother. Maybe na spit wey I spit when my belle still dey pain me.”
“Come back bed my husband. Mama dey look bro Chisco. No problem.”
Achike wanted to smell his hand immediately but he held himself. There was time for that. He gave Chisco a death stare as he marched out of the room.
He smelled his fingers as soon as he was outside. He was not too sure what it was as he had already touched his not too clean shorts with the same fingers. But his instinct could not be wrong. Those two were too proper to be innocent. Whatever the case, Chisco was leaving his house in the morning, even if his intestines were falling out of his throat.
Achike still decided to get to the bathroom. On getting to the last two rooms he heard strange sounds from the room of the new tenant – the police officer. He went closer and listened. He did not believe at first but the more he listened, the more he was convinced of what he was hearing. Two men were having sex. It was wild. Wild like he had once known. One of them was begging for mercy. That was the voice of the new man. The other seemed to have only just started and would not be stopped.
Achike became immediately light-headed and goosebumps blanketed his skin as he recognized the voice. He could not move his leg even though he tried. He thought he had turned into a pillar of salt. He had heard the unmistakable voice of Agbonyibo. Then soon after, he heard the gunshot.
Castro went to his parents’ room and knocked and went inside.
“Can I switch on the light dad?”
His parents were already seated and introspective.
“Mum you said you would do something about it. The dead witch is here for me.”
“She is not. At first, it was just you and Efe that heard her. Now we can all hear her. It is our collective problem.”
“But why? Why did she come back?”
“Your friend Cosmas told us she is back because she enjoyed cooking at night too much to let go.”
“So what do we do now? Accept it?”
“This lockdown does not help. I called my people. There are simple leaves and incense that chase spirits we will burn in this compound every night for one month and she will not come back. But I can’t get hold of that now.”
“But people are moving about. Go and get it.”
“People are moving about but not people like us. Did you not see the news? They arraign people like us every day even though they can fly Abba Kyari’s infected corpse and gather in their hundreds and ride in convoys to and from the cemetery. Some animals are more equal than others.”
“So we have to wait.”
“And pray while we wait. I believe Cosmas this time that the entity cannot harm us. I suppose if it wanted to it could have done so already.
“And we cannot even gather and pray as a compound.”
“We are more than fifty. They will come and arrest us. So we pray in our rooms as families.”
“Why did we come back here Mama? Enugu was boring but at least we lived only amongst human beings.”
“Ask your father.”
It was then that they heard the gunshot.
“What do you mean by there is no hellfire Mr. Cosmas?”
“I said that God did not create one. Think about it. Which father will create a lake of fire to burn his children inside?
“Certainly not the loving God I believe in. What has happened is that through false doctrines people have come to believe these things and have committed their creative energy into bringing them into existence.”
“Every thought produces creative energy. It is guiding the primordial power that surges through the universe for good or evil depending on how we think. Truly you can think things into manifestation, which is why the first rule of happiness and fulfillment in our earthly sojourn is to keep the hearth of our thoughts pure. The moment you allow your thoughts to run wild, you create the kind of world you end up living in. Because we have free will and can use the primordial creative force in nature as we like, many have inadvertently lent a hand, or thought to create hellfire for themselves.
“Thinking is a spiritual activity. Each thought produces a form. And the collective thought forms of millions over millennia have come together and formed a hellfire in the beyond. People will pass on and go there because they believe it is where they should go to. Many on earth also help them along by thinking so for them. I have already seen foolish people saying that that is where Abba Kyari is headed. That is the kind of thinking that gives people what they ask for.”
“So is Abba Kyari going to heaven?”
“He is going to where the density of his soul takes him. But that is a story for another day.”
“Or like Mama Akunna he will hang around that house Aisha Buhari wanted to throw his family out from and when they come around he will scare the shit out of them like mama Akunna is doing to us now,” Irikefe said.
“He may also be earthbound that is true. But that is not supposed to be our preoccupation now. Just as it is most stupid for anyone to rejoice over his or any person’s death.
“As a people, we get the kind of leadership we deserve, good or bad. Secondly and more importantly, the man has run or is running his own race. You worry about yours. If anything, let his death, the austerity of his funeral and all that is being said humble you and draw you closer to your creator.”
It was then that they too heard the gunshot.
TO BE CONTINUED.