Mayday

Jide’s flight had been uneventful so far, and he was relieved. He hated flying, as his seatmate kept reminding him.

“Awww, want some water?” “Want a barf bag?”

He would glare at her and she would giggle.

“Bimpe, if I wasn’t planning to marry you, I would strangle you right now.” he kept warning her.

Her laugh was soothing and distracted him from his fear. He watched her, smiling. In two months, they would get married. He couldn’t wait. Yeah, life was looking pretty good.

He was staring out the window at the woolly clouds when he heard Bimpe say it for the first time. He turned, confused.

“Bimpe, you said..?”

“Mayday.” She said again.

Then, he noticed how vacant her gaze was. She was gripping the arm-rests and her chest rose and fell rapidly. “Mayday. Mayday.”

“Bimpe, what on earth..?”

Without another word, Bimpe slid out of her seat and made a beeline for the emergency exit door. Jide watched in shock as two of the flight attendants managed to catch her on time and stop her from wrenching the door open. He hurried over and watched helplessly as they restrained her while she struggled, mumbling.

“Maydaymaydaymaydaymaydaymayday!”

He couldn’t recognize this crazy girl, spitting and mumbling. His heart racedu as he tried to explain to the flight crew that his fiancé was not high on drugs or drunk.

Then he heard it from the back row.

“Mayday.”

This time it was a tall man in a blazer, sitting up straight and staring blankly. Then the man jumped up, grabbed the nearest fire extinguisher and began to pummel the window closest to him.

“Maydaymaydaymaydaymaydaymayday!”

The flight crew rushed to stop the man, and then all hell broke loose. People all over the plane started shouting mayday, then violently started trying to escape the plane.

Jide backed towards the cockpit, scared out of his wits. He ducked inside the flight deck and yelled at the pilots. “Something’s wrong!” he yelled “People are going crazy…”

The plane yawed downwards, tilting as one of the pilots suddenly pushed down on two pedals.

Jide began to scream, then he saw the man’s mouth moving.

“Maydaymaydaymaydaymaydaymayday!”

Posted in Fiction, MACABRE, Speculative | Leave a comment

Quit Notice

Amaka’s rent was expiring the next day, but she didn’t mind.

Living in a ‘face-me-i-face-you’ apartment for one year could have been a hellish experience, but it had gone well. She had met a few good people, like her neighbour, Mummy Ebun.

“Amaka, we go really  miss you for this compound, you carry better luck come.” The woman sighed, bent over as she plaited her sleeping daughter’s hair. Amaka didn’t think she could ever get tired of watching the neat rows formed out of the unruly black bush the girl had been blessed with. The toddler squirmed on the mat and the woman made a soothing sound, arranging the wrapper covering the girl’s legs to keep biting sandflies away.

Amaka smiled as she watched them.

“Since you come, my market good; people just dey rush my stockfish.” Mummy Ebun’s hands danced, an artist, her stubby fingers making magic out of hairy chaos. “Brother Matthew buy another motorcycle and Aunty Stella finally born pikin. This year really make sense. Wetin remain na make my son get that scholarship.”

Amaka shook her head in regret, “I go miss una too but I need to go back house. My papa send letter.”

“Ehya!” the woman sat up, “Hail am for me o.”

Amaka swallowed a chuckle and nodded a yes, remembering the letter’s contents. Her mandatory one year of service on earth was finished. It was time to return to heaven.. but she had a scholarship dream to make come true first.

She couldn’t wait to hail her father for Mummy Ebun.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Speculative | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Narrow Is The Way

NARROW IS THE WAY

Even in heaven, angels rebel. And they like company.

* * *

Galadriel and Ithiel were saved souls. Always together, they went about their duties and obeyed the heavenly host without hesitation. Until an angel came to them.

“Come close.” he told them, smiling, “I will tell you a story you forgot.”

Galadriel was curious and stayed to listen, but Ithiel went on her way.

“All the members of a tribe died in a war and found themselves in darkness. Godless, twisted things with sharp claws and sucking mouths began to rip them apart and feed on them as they wandered in panic for a timeless time, until only a priest, a thief and his child were left. Drenched in the blood of their devoured relatives, they fled from a monster made of teeth till they saw a light, coming from an entrance. The priest hurried in…” The angel suddenly clapped and Galadriel jumped “….and was crushed…slowly, as the walls squeezed him till he burst!

“The thief had no choice. To save his daughter, he entered first and howled in pain as she tried to crawl past underneath his twisting body. The last thing he saw was his blood splashing into the mouth of his screaming child as the fanged monster grabbed her foot.

“He awoke in heaven, for he had gone through the narrow way and his sacrifice saved him. And he forgot all earthly things.”

The angel smiled, “You are that man, Galadriel.”

Then, Galadriel remembered. His soul was troubled, and he tore his robes, “Heaven is unfair. I, a thief passed and my innocent child did not?!” and he left, weeping.

And the angel smiled to himself, for he had not told Galadriel that the child had survived and become Ithiel, his closest companion.

“One more seed planted. One more soldier for my army.” Lucifer chuckled.

Posted in MACABRE | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Bouquet To Die For

A BOUQUET TO DIE FOR

Who would have thought something as beautiful as flowers would be so deadly?

*      *
    *

I’ve always had a thing for wild flowers.

Whenever I was sent on an errand, I would make sure I picked as many as I could. Yellow, blue, red, orange, pink… the brighter, the better. I crafted little strange bouquets that I hung in the corners of my room, until my mum threw out the dried up remains. But I always picked more. They made me happy.

As I grew bigger, my wild bouquets did as well, and my mum put her foot down. No more smelly flowers in the house. She wasn’t wrong. My preferences had matured to a particular flower- and it did smell a bit weird. But it was a scent I associated with my first kiss. He had been all hands and hot breath, but I had closed my eyes and let him lower me into the grass. Our tumbling crushed a few blossoms and a few weeks later, after I had decided I really didn’t like boys, I came across the scent again. And so began my fascination with that particular flower.

Since mother’s ban, I began to hang my flowers on the chain link fence that surrounded the children’s park next to my school. The species of blossom I liked came in blues and pinks, but I preferred the pinks and made sure I left a few hanging every Friday when I was walking home from school.

Then I began to notice that someone was hanging up blue flowers beside my pink ones.

I was delighted. Apparently, I was not alone in the world. I spent hours wondering what my flower-lover looked like. Was it a he? Was he tall? Did he have kind eyes? As the harmattan season approached, there were fewer children in the park most Fridays when I stopped by. I barely noticed, lost in fantasies of my mystery lover. It had become a contest of sorts, getting the pink flowers to be more than the blue. Our bouquet grew, dead flowers falling away to be replaced by new blossoms we both carefully hung on the fence.

And on Christmas day, I suddenly realized I could drop him a note! Surely he would reply. I stopped by the park on my way to deliver Christmas rice to Mrs Nelson, a friend of my mother’s who recently lost a child. I was happy to go; she needed all the cheer she could get.

With a big grin, i hung my newest bouquet, propping a perfumed note between the petals. And on my way back home, I noticed the note was gone. I was excited. The next Friday was New Year’s day. Maybe he would leave a reply.

And he did.

Deep within a bunch of blue blossoms, I found his note.

“Dear Friend,

I was delighted to see your message. I think it’s about time we met. It has been fun…our little game. Pink for girls. Blue for boys. As the harmattan approached, it was harder to find the flowers. And the boys. And the girls. But for the sake of our friendship, I kept to the numbers. Every pink flower for a girl and every blue flower for a boy. Maybe next Friday, I’ll tell you where I kept their bodies.

Yours in Flowery Friendship, A Fan.”

I stood there with the note in my numb hands and shivered as the wind brought the smell of the flowers to my nose. Now, I understood why the park had slowly gotten less full. Now I understood where the kids had gone.

Who would have thought something as beautiful as flowers could be so deadly?

Posted in Fiction, MACABRE | Tagged , | Leave a comment

AGONIES OF AN ARTISTIC ANT

(ADAPTED FOR KIDS)

Anthonee was a worker ant. In the vast, organized society of ants in which he belonged, he was born into the ant-worker caste*. Others castes existed, like the soldiers, drones and a queen, all playing their specific roles in their anthill….but amongst all these, the worker caste was the lowliest. They existed only to serve, building and repairing the anthill, as well as looking for food. Their society was a strict one, and everyone stuck to their assigned roles. Everyone, that is, except for Anthonee, who although he was an efficient worker like everyone else, was very different from the others in his caste, and often kept to himself. The other ants often wondered at him, for he liked to daydream and think of things no worker ant should.

For instance, when Anthonee and his fellow worker ants went out searching for food, marching in lines created by their special scents, he often peered past the soldier ants guarding the edges of their chosen path, and had the urge to stray away from the other ants. He felt their silent march was boring and had visions of leading the other ants in beautiful patterns, creating amazing motions that would please the two-legged giants who he sometimes saw watching them from above.

Anthonee also hated the earthen anthill where they all lived. It was made up of hexagonal sections, which were stacked on top and around each other, and covered by a towering mound of hardened sand. The severity and regularity of the structure vexed and irritated him so much that he often dreamed of breaking the entire anthill down to the ground. He wanted to build high roofs, made up of beautiful arching curves and twisting lines, and formed from polished specks of sand, which would capture the heat of the sun and glitter beautifully, showing the entire world how clever and creative ants could be. However, there was nothing Anthonee could do except quietly bear to live in the anthill. His tiny room was cramped and hexagonal and he hated it passionately.

Another issue which his work-mates just couldn’t understand was Anthonee’s love for their Queen, Antiqua. They were all bred to serve and love their queen but he took his adoration to unusual heights. As a worker, he was not allowed to even go near her, much less touch her, but he sometimes stared at her from the corners of his eyes when no one was watching. Queen Antiqua was the most beautiful ant in the whole of his world. Her eyes were dark and sparkling, her waist was tiny and her antennae were of a flattering length. Whenever he had supplies to deliver to her section of the anthill and happened to catch a glimpse of her regal loveliness, his heart would thunder and pulse like a trapped bird inside his chest, and his own short antenna would shiver.

He believed Antiqua’s glorious beauty deserved to be richly framed by soft, colorful ribbons woven by the skillful silk worms of the Far East. If he had the power, he would have commanded fire flies to shine their light on her elegant antenna, and he would cover her beautiful body in colorful pollen and flowery scents from every plant within reach of their anthill! Sadly, these were only fantasies and Anthonee could only watch, for she had already picked a noble drone for a husband, and settled down to a life of childbearing, cared for by specially bred worker-maids, who had the most gentle touch. Oh! How Anthonee loved his Queen and wished fervently that he could speak to her everyday..

But, Anthonee could not speak to Antiqua, for he was not allowed to love. He was only allowed to push, lift and carry. Instead of using his gifted hands to build beautiful things from the earth, he could only carry bits of nourishing and useful debris. Rather than use his amazing mind to think up beautiful designs and ideas, he was only allowed to think of schedules and chores, like any other worker ant. He had no choice than to let his eyes go half-blind, because of the endless hours he spent working and marching about in dimly-lit underground caverns; his eyes that ought to fill up with joyful tears when he looked upon the beautiful things he could create.

Anthonee had stolen away from his proper duties many times, to stare sadly at the eggs beautiful Queen Antiqua gave birth to daily, in her special hexagonal room where she is forever locked away. He watched the worker-nurse maids tend to the wriggling larvae which hatched out from the eggs, and he wept quietly, for they were born into various strict castes, just like him. He cried because these new babies had being denied a chance to be anything else but what their ant society had decided they must be.

Sometimes, Anthonee had dreamed of stealing a few eggs and running away someday, to start up another anthill of his own, where the baby ants would grow up and learn to build, dream, dance and live joyfully. In such a new anthill, art would be encouraged and love would be common. Surely, he would be happy there!

   …..And yet, he had always turned away, and resumed doing what he was only allowed to do. He worked and dreamed, and his brother and sister ants stared at him in pity, for his eyes were always filled with a sad regret for all the things that he could not do. Anthonee the sad one, they called him behind his back, the one who could only wish and work until he could work no more, and his wishes slowly turned into nothing.

   But they were wrong about him. What they saw in his eyes wasn’t regret, it was the birth of more ideas. For Anthonee was quietly and meticulously* hatching* a fantastic escape plan. And one day he knew his brothers and sisters would wake up to find him gone, and they would marvel, and perhaps Queen Antiqua would spare a moment to worry about him….for he would be far, far away, seeking adventure, beauty and the joys of life. Yes, he planned to journey far and without fear, for his heart belonged to the mysteries of the world, and he would seek them out, one ant on his own, made strong by his love of all things beautiful and free.

Posted in Fiction | 5 Comments

TEAR TRACKS

TEAR TRACKS
They laid the train tracks back to front and this caused a great deal of confusion- you’d think you were on the train to New York and arrived in Kinshasha, or to Shanghai and found yourself lost in Istanbul.

Deoye grinned at all the commotion. His father had tried to explain how the tracks being laid wrong was an embarrassment to the city, but Deoye didn’t care. Father complained about everything. The boy watched now, as a train began to leave the station. The train whistle blew, and he pressed his mother’s palm in excitement. She smiled at him, drawing him back a little and Deoye’s eyes widened as the belching behemoth roared its way along the tracks. He loved experiencing that feeling, standing still on the platform as the big train moved faster, seeming to go backwards while he raced forward, a little boy-mother locomotive, moving past a train. His father had told him it was just a matter of perspective and nothing to be afraid of. Deoye was not afraid. He loved feeling like sand rolling down a dune, ending up in exotic places like Egypt or Morocco in his head, no thanks to his overactive imagination, his mother always said. That feeling was one of the reasons he always looked forward to following his mother to the train station whenever his father was returning from town.

He squirmed, and leaned forward to watch the train finally move past him, waving at the people peering out the windows. Most of them stared back stonily, already too weary of life to spare a moment to wave back at a strange child. A few smiled at him or waved back.

His mother pulled him back gently, “Not so close, dear.”

Mother was afraid of everything. He suspected that if she had been one of the passengers on the train that had just left, she wouldn’t have waved back at a small ten year old boy standing on the station platform. And she would have probably come up with a good reason for it. Father always said she was full of excuses not to enjoy herself, although Deoye thought was a mean thing to say. Mother must have thought so too, because she cried.

She cried a lot these days.

She cried when Uncle Frank came around. She cried when father called to ask if she missed him, and sometimes they shouted at one another. She cried when she dropped Deoye off at school, as though he would never come back. Deoye thought she was lonely and wished father would spend less time in town. If his father were around, mother would put her face in his shoulder when she cried, rather than on Uncle Frank’s. He didn’t like Uncle Frank. He was always hanging around the house and eating all the food. Once, Deoye had seen him wearing father’s shirt.

Father had been gone for long this time…almost three months.. and Deoye was worried. Mother had been sick every morning for the past week, and although she said she was fine, she always cried after. Uncle Frank came around almost every day now and he had overheard them talking about taking her to a hospital. That scared him. Hospitals smelled of medicine and were full of nurses with sharp needles.

A slight shower had begun and now the sky rumbled as the first drops hit the metal sheets protecting the platform. The water began to fall onto the tracks and he moved back slightly, afraid of getting his shoes wet. Maybe the sky is afraid of the thunder and cries rain, he thought. Everyone was afraid of something. It didn’t mean they didn’t want to enjoy being alive.

He couldn’t wait for his father to come. Maybe he would tell him to be nicer to mother, so she wouldn’t cry so often. Everything would be okay when father got here. And he would see him soon, for a train was pulling into the station now. He looked up at mother in excitement and saw she was crying. She looked frightened. Deoye was startled. why would mother be afraid of seeing father?

She saw him looking at her and rubbed her hands over her eyes, smiling. Her smile made him want to cry. He turned to watch the train and for once, he forgot to enjoy that backwards feeling as the train slid to a screeching halt. The roar of the rain filled his ears and muffled the sound of the train stopping. He couldn’t see the passengers coming down from the carriages. He couldn’t see his father. Rain dripping from the rusty gutters made a curtain between the platform and the tracks.

Posted in Fiction | 3 Comments

GROWING PAINS: HARD-BOILED

   Victor’s little sister was the bane of his life. He wondered, often and bitterly, why his mother had left only a space of one year between them. She competed for everything! If he were two or three years older, instead of a gangly, measly nine, why, he would put her in her rightful place. As it was, she barely let water pass through his lips before she was griping about his teeth. She was a nuisance, alright.

   He grumbled beneath his breath as he burned his thumb on the kerosene stove again. She was old enough to be a pain, but he still had to do the more complicated tasks like heating up the evening meal. And she was a girl! He hissed. Life was unfair. Sitting on a low stool, he stared glumly into the sputtering flame of the lantern and listened to the slow bubbling of the pot on the stove. Since his father died, his mother had been forced to expand her trading business into a small restaurant. She hardly ever got home before dark anymore, and Victor had to fend more for himself and his sister. His chores had doubled and his play-time cut in half. They had to get up earlier for school, so their mother could drop them off; and even in school his fun was stilted. It had fallen to him to wash their school uniforms every two days, and their underwear daily; as a consequence, he found himself being careful not to get his socks too dirty. Dirty socks were a pain too, as poorly washed socks always earned him a painful knock. He shrugged and conceded to himself that his little sister kept her socks clean and hardly got dirty. That was expected of her, however, she was afterall, a girl! He had to play football carefully- that was sheer torture.

    She came into the dim kitchen now, carefully making her way through the blackened door, silhouetted by the waning evening behind her. Depositing the load of dishes and pots she had just washed into a plastic basket to drain, she immediately began to complain about the now-stained spoon he had used to stir the pot’s contents. He rolled his eyes as he stood up to remove the pot from the stove, carefully placing it on the proper wooden slat. It wouldn’t do to get charcoal on the floor, his sister would gladly pounce on that.

    The stove extinguished, they sat down to their evening meal, eating from the pot and blowing fragrant steam into each other’s faces, from the hot spoonfuls they scooped. If he suggested using extra dishes so they could spread out the hot food to cool, his sister would erupt into another nagging fit; washing the dishes would be her duty. He held his peace. Soon, the combination of the warm kitchen and his filling stomach began to make him yawn. It was infectious, for his sister yawned widely as well, and they giggled. The meal consumed, they tidied up the kitchen and argued halfheartedly over the pros and cons of taking a late shower outside. He was against it, for it would mean more water to fetch the next afternoon. Unbathed, and still yawning, they retired to the bedroom. His silly sister was asleep the moment her head touched the pillow; he scoffed, she was like a chicken, unable to stay awake for long past seven p.m., her quarrelsome little mouth silent at last, a small blessing.

    Victor pushed a stool against the door to hold it shut, so his mum could push her way in quietly. If she knocked, they would not hear. He lowered the lantern flame, plunging the small room into a cozy, familiar darkness filled with dim shadows; made sure the curtains were tightly drawn and crawled into bed, burrowing snugly against his sleeping sister’s back. Her gentle, steady breathing soothed him, and as he drifted off into sleep, his last barely-articulated thought was that at least he didn’t have to fall asleep alone..

*******************

Posted in Fiction, GROWING PAINS | 1 Comment