“Dad was very powerful and uncle envied his power,” said Funke musing over the events of the last few days.
“Have you read the journal sister?” asked Funmi, sitting up suddenly.
“Yes I have. It’s so full of Dad’s experiences in some other world. He and the Old Man,” replied Funke.
“Who is this Old Man anyway?” asked Funmi.
“The journal does not say,” replied Funke.
“I was never good at reading books, so you will have to tell me everything sister,” said Funmi.
“Yes, but we have directions to the Old Man in the journal. He lives all alone in an abandoned village deep in some forest. It has never been traced before. According to dad’s journal, it is a cursed village that has been kept hidden by ancient Bindings, and only those of his blood line can ever find it,” Funke sipped her chilled beer slowly.
“Dad’s blood line or the Old Man’s blood line?” asked Funmi, downing the rest of her beer and opening another can.
“The journal didn’t specify, but my guess is dad’s blood line, or how else would dad even find the place?”
“That’s true,” responded Funmi.
“We should get going soon. The Old Man is the key to everything.”
“Yeah I’ll finish my drink.”
Funmi and Funke stood up as one and walked out together.
They drove out of the city and headed for their father’s home town about six hours away. Funmi took the first driving shift while her sister dozed away to soft music playing in the back ground.
You do realize neither of us can marry don’t you? Funke whispered into her sister’s mind.
Funmi smiled without replying…she was used to her sister’s silent thoughts infiltrating her mind like the whisperings of a sudden breeze. They had decided long ago that they would use their ability to ‘mind speak’ only for intimate things between them.
Both of them had long realized that their abnormal abilities could never allow them to live a normal life and they had come to terms with it.
According to their dad’s journal, their spirits had somehow been fused together at birth in a deliberate experiment approved of by the Earth Mothers. It spoke of an ancient prophecy that revealed the purpose and its fulfilling. Funke had read out parts of it to her sister before they left on their long journey.
When their destinies are cut short
Then shall arise another that shall bring all to nought
For then a new breed of Man shall be birthed
The Two shall become One and shall be First
Then the ancient bloodline shall be revived
And so shall the Lawless One arrive
“Stop!” said Funmi grinning as Funke projected a rather obscene picture into her mind. They loved each other more than they really should.
As she drove out of the city Funmi reflected on the events of the past that had led up to the death of their father. She glanced over at Funke who was already dozing and caressed her mind with warm feelings.
They had been five years old when it had first happened; at least that was the oldest memory both of them shared.
Funke had woken up in the middle of the night to use the toilet and Funmi had woken up at the same moment. Funke had gone to one toilet and Funmi the other but only Funke had actually relieved herself. Funmi had felt the symptoms but it had all gone the moment Funke had relieved herself.
They had discussed it far into the night but had kept it from their parents. That was how close they were to each other. They didn’t understand it then and certainly they still did not understand it now.
They both discovered that they not only could project their thoughts into each other but also their feelings, desires and discomforts. They had then experimented further and found that using their combined efforts; they could project the same things into those around them.
At first it was not for long distances, but as they practised they got stronger and now distance was no longer a barrier. Furthermore they had learnt to use their emotions and thoughts as weapons against others. They could send strong emotions of depression or fill the mind with fear in a huge onslaught that could last for a long time.
That was how they had attacked their uncle initially, as they sought to find out his strengths in the spirit world, but they needn’t have worried…he was not strong at all. He wouldn’t have been a match for their father had he not caught him unawares.
They still regretted that they had done nothing to save their father on that fateful night when he had been murdered…but they had not yet known much about their natural abilities. Now they were adults with fully developed abilities.
She swerved suddenly to avoid a large truck that was over speeding around a corner. She had had a brief flash of its approach in her mind; seconds before it had appeared so she had stepped on the brake to slow down enough to avoid its sudden rush. The driver appeared to have lost control. She watched through her rear driving mirror as it careened off the road into the bushes beyond. She felt indifferent…no sympathy, and she didn’t wonder why…she already knew…her conscience had died a long time ago.
Kemi Longe strolled out of the studio wearily. She hated night shifts because she had to spend the night in one of the several one bedroom apartments provided for newscasters on night duty.
She walked down the well-lit road towards her apartment, dialling a number as she went along.
“Hello darling,” answered a voice on the phone.
“Are you missing me?” she asked, feeling lonely all of a sudden. She missed her husband terribly and they rarely spent much time together. She was a career woman and he a successful business man.
She had been unable to get someone to cover for her this weekend since her husband was in town and she really felt miserable about it. Her husband was usually on some business trip or the other most of the time.
She passed by the cafeteria and suddenly felt hungry as the smells of savoury cooking wafted out pleasantly. The cafeteria was open till midnight to cater for those who were on duty round the clock.
“I’m about to have dinner,” she said to her husband on the phone.
“Hmm…I’m hungry for you,” answered her husband.
“Will you stop, Olu, you’re making me feel miserable!”
“Sorry babe, I’ve decided to postpone my trip to Dubai next week so we can have some time together.”
“Are you serious?” squealed Kemi, ignoring the stir she was causing as she did a little jig at the entrance to the cafeteria.
“I’ve missed you so much babe,” said Olu.
Kemi blew a kiss over the phone and cut the line, and went to place her order. She had initially wanted a meat pie perhaps, and a chilled bottle of Pepsi, but now she was feeling so good she ordered a plate of fried rice and chicken and two bottles of chilled Pepsi. She would take one away for a night cap.
She sat down to her meal feeling elated and relaxed as she watched her colleague give the late night news.
“…the man who was identified as Tunji Falana is a well-known business man and the brother of the late Dejo Falana who died under mysterious circumstances several years ago.”
She turned her thoughts back to her husband. She didn’t want anything morbid to destroy her happiness tonight. Their marriage was only two years old but she had never regretted one moment of it.
Her husband had taken her to Miami for their honeymoon and had asked her to leave her job and come to work with him as an executive manager of one of his companies but she had declined.
She was afraid that they would quarrel somewhere along the line…she was afraid that if she didn’t create some space between them, they would eventually get too familiar with each other and one thing would lead to another…perhaps familiarity would breed contempt, and then her weaknesses would begin to show and be magnified to her husband…she couldn’t bear the thought of anything coming in between them. They had the ideal marriage and she intended to do all in her power to keep it so.
As she swallowed the last of her Pepsi, she thought of her younger brother. Kemi was a self-made lady who had her own grass to grace story. She had paid a steep price to be where she was today.
Her late father had been a strong believer and had raised her up to believe in Christ and to live a frugal life. He had always told them to live life like strangers on earth. Kemi had taken it all in back in the village, and lived that life so seriously. But after her father’s death she knew she had to take responsibility for her brother. Her late mother’s friend had introduced her to her daughter who took her to the new mega city of Ibaje to get a job.
She chuckled as she remembered how green behind the ears she had been…an illiterate and naïve girl. But that was almost ten years ago. Things had changed and she had become worldly wise…she had quickly realized that her father’s teachings and way of life that she had imbibed as a child were no longer tenable or even realistic in the modern world.
Oh she still went to church and prayed daily but it was more out of habit than out of belief. Church going and prayer were things she did without thinking…they were products of habit, no longer the fruits of a faith she had once fervently lived in her heart. She had lost her belief in them…they had not produced the life she had hoped to live and so she had turned elsewhere…and now here she was.
The only code of conduct she now followed was morality. She had vowed never to sleep around or embezzle funds or any such thing and she had kept her vow…her husband still expressed his amazement every now and then, after discovering that she was a virgin on their wedding night.
It was the reason her husband loved and respected her so much…she thought. She turned her attention towards her younger brother whom she had brought to the city and now regretted; for he had eventually fallen into bad company and gotten into drugs. Every now and then he would call her to beg for money, she would scold him sharply and then appeal to him to see a doctor at her own expense. She had even forced him twice to follow her to a hospital to get help but it had all been in vain. At the end of the day she still had to transfer money to him…he was her only sibling after all and he was so much younger than she was. She had rented a self-contained apartment for him and continued to pay the rent.
She looked at the time…it was almost midnight. She stood up and walked out of the nearly empty cafeteria.
Olu Longe took a deep drag from his cigarette and washed it down with a drought of whisky, secure in the knowledge that his wife would never know of his drinking and smoking habits.
He looked towards the open bedroom with great anticipation at the girl that lay between the sheets awaiting his pleasure. It was going to be a long night. He stubbed his cigarette and walked towards the room. Behind him his phone rang softly.
“The Trail has begun,” the line went dead.
Olu smiled. At long last the game had started. He had been groomed for it right from child hood. He was merely following a script that had been programmed several decades ago…and now finally, it was time for him to play his part. He shut the door of the bedroom behind him and switched off the light.
“The village is deserted”, said Funmi, sitting up and watching the empty houses pass by. Funke slowed down as they reached the end of the dusty road.
“We go on foot from here on I guess,” she said, getting out of the car.
There seemed to be miles and miles of forest beyond the village as they walked away from the car.
“You think we can find him?” asked Funmi, stepping gingerly around some undergrowth.
“Oh we will sister, or he will find us. The prophecy in the journal foretold that the Joined Ones must receive their Legacy and only then shall the New Age begin,” replied Funke.
They walked on in silence and every now and then probed each other’s mind…it was so much easier and less cumbersome than talking.
The forest began to give way to thick bushes more than an hour later when they suddenly stopped dead in their tracks. It was still relatively light, yet darkness suddenly began to fill their minds. Their senses began to blur and numb as other senses came into focus. Their vision dimmed as their mind’s eye opened, dark clouds raced through the sky; pierced through with frequent thunderous lightning bolts.
Standing stark against the background of an ancient house stood a tall man dressed in what looked like a warrior’s outfit. He looked visibly angry as he stared at the twins.
You shouldn’t have killed him, he was the only son left to me!
The voice thundered in their minds, paralysing their ‘mind speak’ for a moment.
We didn’t know! We are sorry baba!
The sisters were taken aback at the sheer power by which the thought had been hurled against them. They fell to their knees as various emotions sought to overwhelm them…they felt fear such as they had never felt before and it was tangible fear. It caught hold of their bowels and increased their heart beat, threatening to send them into cardiac arrest.
Suddenly it was gone as soon as it had started. They found themselves beside the tall old man in front of the house. The sky was green and a lovely river bubbled merrily down past the front of the house.
“They are all products of spiritual power…the green skies, the river…everything except the house. It was your father who built it for me in order to give me a place free from all distraction to conclude my life assignment,” the old man said, staring away into the distance.
Later, they would enter the house and talk. The sisters were surprised at the level of sophistication the old man showed in his speech. They had expected an illiterate old man with crude ways.
“It was Azrael the fallen angel whom your father imprisoned that taught me how to speak English. He simply opened my mind and my speech centres,” said the old man, reading their thoughts.
“Who are you baba?” asked the sisters simultaneously. They had lapsed back into their natural way of allowing the fused spirit within them to speak before their individual minds could process their thoughts.
The old man looked both awe inspiring and terrible in his traditional garb. He had told them that it was not actually the traditional garb of their people; it was more like his protective armour in the spirit. It had been given to him by the Earth Mothers themselves after he had performed a service worthy of their thanks. They had assured him that he was both invincible and invulnerable for as long as he wore it. So he never took it off.
“I am many things, but I suppose I am firstly your grandfather. Your uncle killed your father and then you killed your uncle and now we are alone.”
A deep sense of anguish gushed into the sisters as they felt keenly their grandfather’s grief.
They stood up as one and came to kneel before him, sharing his grief…transmitting their remorse at the deed they had done.
“We are your children now baba,” Funmi managed to say with a lump in her throat.
Yomi Ajala sucked in the thick smoke from the roll of marijuana passed to him by one of his buddies. They were in his home in a sleazy area of town where the police never came and where there was no law. That was where he had chosen to rent his apartment. He had given his sister the wrong impression of what part of town he was living in, and every time she wanted to visit he stalled and gave some excuse…it would never do to bring her to this part of town. She may stop sending him money altogether.
He really didn’t like the life he was living, but at least he was free and didn’t have to work for people…after all his late father had been a billionaire until his death at the hands of supposed assassins whom the police were yet to track down.
His fingers trembled as he passed the stub to the next person. This was his means of escape from the reality he did not want to face…the reality that as a bastard child whom his father had hidden away for fear of the scandal that would erupt in the media; he had lost out on the fortune that could have given him a life of ease.
His sister Kemi had only had pity on him because he had not been able to complete his Secondary School education before his father was murdered. They had both been christened with their mother’s name – Ajala – after a huge amount of money had changed hands with their mother. Their mother had then run off somewhere out of the country without them and without any goodbyes. She had always been a self-centred woman as far as Yomi could remember.
Now that the fear of scandal had been removed by death, there was no point in revealing his true identity to the world…he couldn’t even claim his father’s name…the press would hound him and his sister for being heartless enough to stake claims on a man who was a known philanthropist…a champion of the poor, the homeless, orphans and many more. They would call him an opportunist.
Someone somewhere opened a bottle of local gin and it began the usual cycle of passing it round from hand to hand till it got to Yomi. He passed and strode out in rage. This was his usual pattern…working himself into a rage because of the opportunity of life he had missed out on…he would never get over it!
The sewage smells outside his apartment only made him more angry and drove him back inside…that was the moment when he had his great epiphany. He could no longer live this life of ‘hand to mouth’ anymore. He had to do something for himself. He flexed his bulging muscles and stared around his one single room that had become the joint for so many in the neighbourhood. He was their leader…it was his money they spent on drugs and drinks and women…money he was able to extort from his sister.
But he needed much more than a 50, 000 naira pittance every month to afford the lifestyle he wanted and his sister’s husband was loaded. It was simple…he would monitor him for a while and then strike with his gang.
“We are now officially an armed robbery gang!” he announced to his comrades in the room. Their drug and alcohol muddled brains took it all in slowly, and then there were shouts of praise known in local lingo as ‘hailing’.
“I no talk am before?” said one with half an ear gone.
“Yomi baba! E don tay wey we dey wait for this one. Nice one man!”
Yomi looked around the room furiously and reached for the bottle, draining it in one go and beckoning to a girl on the opposite side of the darkened room. A girl stood up to do his bidding and get more drinks. As he handed her some money the men took turns in slapping her butt as she strutted out of the room.
Yomi permitted himself a brief smile…they did not know the half of it yet but soon…he still had to do a few things before they were ready. He knew an old man in some forgotten village that could give him enormous power. His father in an indulgent mood had once taken him there in his teenage years. There had been no issue between his father and his wife until she died. But instead of marrying again, his father had simply decided to have an affair which led to the birth of his sister and eventually to his own birth.
At least Yomi could thank his loose lipped mother for revealing that much information to him and his sister.
His sister had been kind to him over the years…that was why he would not harm her nor her husband…all he had to do was cooperate and hand over the money. He had thought it through and had decided that kidnap would be the fastest and safest option. It would be easy to track him through his unsuspecting sister.
The girl returned with several bottles of beer…a luxury they couldn’t afford but Yomi was feeling generous today…things were finally looking up. He had a plan and now he had to follow it through. Tomorrow he would go in search of the old man.
If all things went well, Yomi hoped to be a multi-millionaire by the end of the year. The old man was the key in many ways. They needed spiritual power to succeed. It would not be easy kidnapping a billionaire like Olu Longe CEO of Sinbad Investments. It had to be planned properly and he already had the makings of a plan.
First he needed to convince his sister that he had reformed and then get her to invite him over to their home to see her husband about a job. She would be pleased and readily accept.
Once inside he trusted in his abilities to gather information concerning his movements. He knew it would take a few months for him to get used to the system but he had waited this long and could afford to wait a few more months for the big payoff. He smiled at the irony of it all…for even if he was caught, his sister would protect him…get her husband to let him off the hook…she loved him that much…it was simply a win-win situation all round for him and that was what he was counting on. He wondered why he hadn’t thought of the plan sooner.
Dapo elbowed Yomi to get his attention. Dapo was his closest buddy and confidante among the miscreants he had gathered around himself.
“What’s cooking man?” he asked quietly, not wanting any of the jubilating boys around him to know they were talking. He had his misgivings about getting involved in armed robbery. He might be a crook and a petty thief, an area boy and a thug…but he was not an armed robber.
Yomi grinned at him.
“That was just to make the boys happy. No such thing on my mind,” replied Yomi.
“What’s the plan?” insisted Dapo.
“The plan is to pick up my brother in-law; the one I have been telling you about.”
“That’s it?” asked Dapo in mild surprise.
“Yup, my in-law the billionaire is going to be kidnapped and nothing will come out of it even if we are caught, because my sister will protect me and by proxy all of us see?”
“You know you are a perfect idiot Yomi. So why didn’t you think of this sooner and just make us suffer unnecessarily?” asked Dapo menacingly before delivering a solid punch on the bulging biceps of Yomi’s right arm.
“Owww! What was that for!” yelled Yomi.
“For wasting three years of my life when I could have been a blooming billionaire by now,” retorted Dapo as he hijacked a bottle of beer from someone next to him.
Dapo had attended the same secondary school with Yomi and had dropped out at the same time and for the same reasons. They had been buddies even then…but over the years they had become closer than brothers. Once, Yomi had been arrested for being in possession of hard drugs and Dapo had rescued him from the police who were taking him away, by inciting a mob against them. The police fled and Yomi ‘disappeared’ in the ensuing confusion.
“We’re travelling tomorrow,” Yomi yelled after him, but the noise was too much. There was booze and naturally the spirits of the boys rose. Yomi got up and trailed after his friend. He knew Dapo was sulking so he had to pacify him somehow. He stepped out, and caught up with him.
“I’ll take you out to lunch” began Yomi.
“You’ll do better than lunch,” replied Dapo, warming up to the negotiation.
“Okay, lunch and chilled wine.”
“Lunch and two bottles of chilled wine,” said Dapo, walking a little faster.
Yomi groaned in anticipation of how much he would have to spend.
“Fine,” he said.
They turned down the street to the nearest bar and sat at a table discussing the plans for the next day. They would not return for several days perhaps. Yomi still had to remember the exact location, but then Dapo was good with rural areas. Once he knew the name of the locality, he would go underground to his godfathers and trace the place.
Olu Longe walked round his home carefully for the last time. Everything had to be just right, including the drugged wine his wife would drink…not enough to make her sleep outright, but just enough to dull her senses and put her conscious mind ‘under’ so he could have access to her subconscious mind.
When he was certain that all was right, he sat on the floor of his bedroom atop a black cloth placed upon a small platform, and held a bowl of blood in his hands wrapped in a black cloth. The incantations were simple and short. Something stirred within the bowl of blood…it began to boil and a vapour like substance drifted up out of it. He knew it was one of the Earth Mothers and immediately averted his eyes as was their custom. He had known instinctively from the moment the blood began to boil.
He hadn’t expected an Earth Mother to show up, he had thought a spirit or at best a fallen angel would be sent, but an Earth Mother! This was obviously very important. He felt slightly nervous being in the presence of an Earth Mother…some said Earth Mothers were spirits, some said they were human with special powers of longevity; but all agreed that they were the most powerful beings in the universe. Fallen angels could be bound but not Earth Mothers.
They received direct instructions from the Lord of Darkness himself. They were the ones that were known in the Christian Bible as Principalities…mortals possessed spirit soul and body by fallen angels. Their bodies had been inherited by fallen angels from generation to generation for hundreds of centuries through ancient covenants with ancient families, and had become something other than mortal flesh by reason of their dedicated use for spiritual things.
They had created knowingly or not, a parody of the glorified body spoken of in the bible. Earth Mothers had no need for food or the relieving of their bowels or any such mundane thing. They were called ‘Mothers’ only because they were responsible for birthing the plans and agendas of the kingdom of Darkness into the Earth realm…not because they were female…as to their gender…it didn’t exist on earth.
He had been given things to eat and drink on his visit to the old man, and had been told never to talk about it…he couldn’t have even if he tried anyway. His mind had been blocked somehow so that every time he thought about it, he came up blank…until a few weeks ago when it all started coming back.
He had had a dream and they had come into his room…the ancient ones all clad in black wearing masks…or perhaps their faces were masks. They were dressed like masquerades and they chanted softly and slowly.
He had been taught many things in the dream, most of which he only remembered by instinct, and only when the need arose. He had found that he could do and say many things out of sheer instinct than memory…like the incantations he had just chanted…it wasn’t in his memory, yet he knew them by instinct as sure as he knew his ‘Two Times Table’ by heart.
That was why he was bothered about the memories of his past that kept coming back to him…memories he could not relate with…memories that were strange to him.
He had always considered himself to be the son of late Chief Longe from whom he had inherited his wealth…he even had photographs to prove that he was the son and only child of late Chief Longe…so how come he was now receiving a different set of memories…piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle…as at yet he didn’t have mental images of people…only of places…but one memory never seemed to leave his mind…always it whispered in the background…You are Olumide…son of Tunji Falana!