SILVER

Photo by Ulrik De Wachter from FreeImages

“It’s sunrise… Get up now son. We have a long day ahead of us.  And fix the roof before you do anything else. The heavy rains are about to start any time from today.”

….

………

“Juma! Get up!”

The deep loud voice echoed across the circular mud hut into Juma’s small ears who was dead asleep.

In his dreams, he was standing on top of the largest mountain in all the land. He looked around and saw the breathtaking view of the land: the exotic birds flying into the sunset, the green trees swaying as the wind plucked away the brown and tired leaves from their home and they slowly placed them onto the moving stream nearby.

The view was to die for. He watched as the sun set, slowly turning the daylight brightness into dark orange. He continued observing the horizon, and he soon spotted his village. He looked closely and saw his mud hut, which was at the edge of the village.

He smiled.

He looked towards the left side of the mountain and saw it.

He saw what he had been told endless stories about.

A place where people went poor and suddenly emerged rich. The place where only adults were allowed to go into.

He glanced closer and saw a group of men tirelessly hitting the ground.

“Juma!”

He heard his father’s voice calling for him. He looked around and noticed he was all alone at the edge of the mountain.

The voice called again ad he turned fearfully, trying to locate the source of the sound. The sound hit him from all corners as it echoed across the mountain and the trees, making birds scanter away from their nests.

He felt dizzy.

His legs became lighter and lighter.

He looked down and his ankle left the ground, followed by his toes. He wiggled them in amazement as the wind blew him away from the rocky edge of the mountain. He looked at the view and it was more breathtaking than before. He stretched his hands and felt the wind lifting him towards the clouds. Dry leaves tagged along beneath him as the wind made them dance around his feet. He let out a laughter, showing his well-arranged teeth. He could not believe it was happening. He was in the moment.

And then, just like that, the wind was gone.

The leaves that were dancing beneath him began shaking as they headed to the ground.

And so did he.

He felt his body getting heavier. He fearfully stretched his hands hoping to grab onto something, anything that would enable him escape the inevitable outcome which was seconds from happening.

But of course, nothing could save him.

Nothing.

His upward motion suddenly stopped and he started heading downwards. He was falling. And he knew it. His legs were now facing upwards and his head facing downwards. The same ground which was very far away from him was now patiently waiting for his triumphant return.

Triumphant indeed.

The fall got more intense as he saw the ground getting closer and closer to him. He closed his eyes and covered his face with his hands. He closed his eyes and waited.

He waited. Hoping it would end very soon.

But instead it did not end. He slowly opened his eyes and he was still falling down. The ground which was near him was surprisingly far away.

He was falling for the second time.

And this time the fall was faster. Unexplainably faster. This time round he decided not to close his eyes. He felt the need to witness the phenomena unfolding before his eyes. He saw the trees getting closer to him. He hit the trees as he fell down. The branches scratched his skin as he arrived at his destination: the brown ground.

He hit the ground, dispersing a significant amount of dust. He felt a sharp pain through his whole body.

And then he opened his eyes.

He jumped out of his cotton blanket and sat upright. He breathed heavily as he looked around his mud room. He touched his face and it was all sweaty and shivering. He took deep breaths as he looked around: confused as to why he is still alive.

Or maybe I am in heaven? H thought.

He wished.

The morning sun struck his eyes as he faced the window. The sunlight miraculously restored his brain to factory settings and he finally realized he was in a dream.

One crazy dream.

He got out of his bed and stretched his arms up in the air, nearly piercing through the makuti roof. He lazily yawned and stretched his skinny body like a wet sponge being dried of its waters. He felt his backbone crackle, a sign of freedom from the endless curving and winding throughout the night.

“Juma!! Hurry up!!!”

His father’s deep voice echoed across his hut as he leaped into action.

He slowly walked out of his hut, and the sun was already out: something he was not used to seeing sinc3 he was an early riser. The sun’s rays blinded his sleepy eyes, making them shut repeatedly as he looked around. Everyone was awake, going about their daily activities. The whole village was booming with activities. The women were busy entering the village with firewood tied to their backs. They were dropped at the edge of the village which was the central cooking point for the whole village.

Everyone was up and about. Except him. His Royal Highness. The one who wakes up when he sees fit.

He saw his father staring fiercely at him, with his hands crossed on his chest.

He was one of the village elders: a highly respected position.

He steadily walked to where Juma was standing and placed his hands firmly on his shoulder. He towered of little Juma, who raised his head upwards to look at his father.

“Why did you wake up late. You know what we are supposed to do today.”

His father’s deep voice vibrated into his ears as he swallowed a lump of saliva into his throat.

“I…I… I… I…”

He stammered as words refused to come out of his mouth.

He remembered hearing his father’s endless calls while he was in dreamland.

“I… I… I was asleep,” he finally uttered the short sentence.

His father looked at him and faintly smiled.

“It seems it was quite an interesting dream. Do you mind telling me?”

Juma dug deep into his memory to collect the remaining fragments of the dream. He was about to narrate to his father the greatest dream ever.

But it was not there. He tried remembering the dream but it there was nothing to be remembered.

Only emptiness.

His father began walking and he swiftly followed along.

“Good morning mzee.”

Everyone who passed him greeted him: a sign of respect for an elder member of community. Juma and his father headed into his mother’s hut for some breakfast. They entered the hut and his mother and two sisters were patiently seated on the ground waiting for them to join in eating breakfast.

“Finally, the king awakes from his beautiful sleep!” one of his sisters teased loudly while laughing. They giggled as they pointed at Juma who sat next to his father. His mother got up and bent down next to the large clay pot at the edge of the hut. She opened the pot and began serving them a cup of hot porridge each. She carried the five cups of porridge using a wooden frame and placed them between them. As usual, the father was the first to take the porridge, followed by the mother, and finally the children began scrambling for the largest porridge.

“I’ll take this one,” Juma said as he grabbed the cup which was being held by one of his sisters.

“No, it’s mine. take the other one,” She pulled the cup back towards her, making a lump of porridge to fly off the cup, landing on the father’s shoulder.

The children watched as the porridge tricked slowly from their father’s shoulder.

He looked at the mess. And then looked at the children with the fiery eyes.

They immediately stopped arguing and silently began sipping their porridge; with a slight giggle from the girls.

“So you are taking Juma beyond the fields today,” Juma’s mother asked the father.

“Yes, I think he is now old enough to see what happens beyond the farms. He might choose between working in the farms or beyond.

“Wow Juma, you are going to see the place which is forbidden to adults only! Congratulations on becoming an adult. although you are still our little brother. Remember that…” One of the sisters said as the whole family burst into laughter.

Juma’s father let out a faint smile as he sipped his last remaining porridge.

“Nikuongezee baba Juma” Juma’s mother asked as she took the cup from him, preparing to stand and fetch more porridge for her husband.

No… Asante nimeshiba,” he responded as he took a deep breath.

“I want more porridge!” One of his sisters said as she gave her cup to her mother. She got up and walked to the pot, scooped the porridge and walked back. She handed the porridge to her daughter, who happily took it and began gulping it down, savoring every drop of sweetness.

Juma finished his porridge and waited for his father to get up. It was customary after eating the father would always be the first to stand.  His father got up and stretched. He took his long wooden cane, which he used to walk with it since Juma was a child.

“Come son, let’s go,” He said as he walked out of the hut.

“Bye brother, don’t get eaten by lions out there,” one of his sisters teased him as he walked out of the hut.

His stomach was now full for the day. He walked alongside his father towards the main entrance of the village.

“Where are we going by the way?” He asked curiously.

His father looked at him and smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything along the journey.”

Juma was confused. “The journey? How far is it?” He asked.

“Its past the farms and into the forest where……”

Before he could finish explaining to his son, a group of community warriors came towards Juma’s father. They confidently walked towards them and stood in front of them. Juma looked at them in shock as he had never seen a warrior before. They wore leopard skins around their bodies and wore sandals crafted out of cow hide. Their heads were covered with ostrich feathers, which are known as the Warrior’s Head. They were heavily built, with muscles bulging out of their arms and legs. They had a long, shiny spear in one of their hands, while the other hand held a sharp, shiny machete.

Juma was bewildered: he had never seen a weapon so shiny and magnificent.

They greeted Juma’s father and whispered something in his ear. His cool facial expression was suddenly transformed into a face of shock and surprise. His eyes opened widely and he looked at his son.

“Wait for me here. I’ll be back in a minute,” He said as he walked a few with the warriors a few meters away from him.

Juma looked at them curiously as they conversed, preparing all sorts of questions he would ask his father when his brief meeting with the warriors was over.

“So tell me where did you hear this news?” Juma’s father asked one of the warriors.

“We have heard tales of villages being torched to the ground along the Great Ocean. A new tribe has entered our land from the ocean with large white floating things. They have been described as having strange physical appearance. We came down the mountain as soon as we received this information. It is a matter of time before they attack our village.”

Juma’s father listened to the warrior’s words as he finished speaking. He looked down and scratched his head, a sign that he was in deep thinking.

“Go to the other elders and tell them what you told me. And then when you are done head to the rest of the villages and warn them of an impending attack from an intruder.  I’m taking my son beyond the farms and I will be back before bats come out of their caves.”

“Sawa,” They responded as they walked towards the elder’s hut which was located between the village.

The whole village watched as the warriors entered the elders hut.

Juma watched as his father walked towards him.

“Let’s go son. We need to be back soon,” He said as he led Juma out of the village. Juma walked alongside his father, beaming with excitement.

“Why are the warriors here father. And why are their weapons very shiny?”

“Umm…. They are here because they need to talk to the elders about recruiting more warriors,” his father responded.

“Wow! I want to be a warrior father! I’ll be big and strong and…”

“I’m sure you will son.”

Juma and his father were now approaching the farms. It was a familiar place to Juma since he spent most of his time here, digging and looking after cattle. The farms were a busy place where each member of the village took turns in ploughing the land in preparation for the coming rains.

But the farms were the only place he knew. He had been told repeatedly that going beyond the farms was forbidden by the elders. only few people were allowed to go there.

But today was the day he was about to find out.

They walked towards the edge of the farm and reached the end of the ploughed land. Juma looked back at the large tract of land in which he spent all his life in. He looked in front and they were now approaching the forest.

He was about to enter the forest for the first time.

His first time into the unknown.

He looked at his father who was facing straight ahead. His fearlessness was astonishing to him since he was narrated endless stories of how dangerous the forest was and it being haunted by spirits of dead warriors who died fighting the forest beasts.

He slowly walked behind his father, making taking every step he takes. They had now entered the forest and the bright daylight sunlight became dimmer. He looked up, and instead of being burned in the eyes by the brutal rays of the sun, the tall trees above him made a canopy that plunged the surrounding into darkness. He carefully walked as his bare feet squashed the dried leaves beneath him. the silence he was used to at the farm was now replaced with hooting and hissing and buzzing of various animals around him: it was a marvelous concoction of animal sounds which filled his tiny ears with curiosity.

The forest was alive.

Alive with sounds he had never heard before.

He walked closely behind his father, who used his long sharp machete to slash through the bushes and twigs, creating a small path for both of them to pass. The slashing also helped scare away any animal that may be lurking under the dense grass. they were now deep in the jungle. Juma looked back and saw the endless bushes behind him while trying to figure out which way they came from.  But there was no path behind him: only bushes and squirrels jumping from tree to tree.

He was scared. The kind of scared where you don’t know where you are coming from and going to. You are but a mere follower of your parent’s footsteps.

But the tree of trust built in you by your parent gives you a sense hope and positivity that all will be well.

The duo continued venturing deep into the forest. His father was focused on clearing the heavy bushes ahead of them: Juma’s eyes were wide open with curiosity written all over his face.

“Look!” he shouted as he pointed at a large porcupine coming towards him. He beamed with excitement as the shy animal slowly walked towards his feet, smelling his toes. It walked around sniffed his ankles. He knelt down and touched its pointy spines.

“Ouch!” He shrieked loudly as the spine pierced through his palm. The animal quickly retracted from him and ran away into the bushes, vanishing as quickly as it appeared. His father looked behind and smiled.

“Well that’s what you get for messing with a porcupine,” He said as he took his hand and smeared some soil into the area.

“A porcu what?” Juma asked confused.

“It’s called a porcupine. Luckily it is not poisonous. Let’s go now. The soil will ease the pain. We are almost there.”

True to his words, Juma felt the sharp pain gradually reduce.

A life hack learned.

Courtesy of his father’s ingenuity.

“How far is it?” Juma asked his father, who was busy clearing the bushes.

He stopped.

“Shh. Can you hear it?”

Juma stood still and listened keenly. He only heard the sound of birds flying above him.

“I… I… I don’t hear anything.”


“Listen carefully,” His father responded.

He ‘listened carefully’ as his father instructed, not knowing what listening carefully meant.

But he tried anyway.

The sound of insects buzzing was all over his ears.

And then he heard it.

He listened and heard the sound again.

He looked at his father in shock, who nodded at him with a smile.

“Aah yes, now you hear it. We are almost there. “

Juma heard loud bangs coming from somewhere in the middle of the forest.

His father kept walking and he quickly waked behind him. he wondered where the loud bangs were coming from in the middle of nowhere. He knew nobody lived in this dangerous forest. The bangs became louder as they kept walking.

“Where is that noise coming from,” Juma finally asked his father.

“I will explain it to you when we get there. Don’t worry.”

His father was the epitome of suspense. No matter your level of curiosity, you needed to be patient with him or else you will be left wandering into the darkness, completely clueless.

The bang was now becoming deafening, and it reverberated across the forest after every countable number of seconds. Sunlight was now becoming brighter as they drew closer to the place.

The place which Juma had no idea of.

“We are here.” His father said as he stopped clearing the bushes. They emerged from the forest and Juma felt the sun soothing his skin after a long time.

“Come son,” his father said as he let Juma walk in front of him. slowly, he walked past his father and then stopped.

He saw it.

And it was astonishing.

He around and saw a large portion of cleared land, similar to the farm at his village. At the center of the cleared land was a huge hole which went deep into the ground. Around the hole were large heaps of soil and stones: so huge that they seemed like small hills. He looked at his father in shock: and then looked at the huge hole on the ground.

A loud bang came from the hole that made his feet vibrate. The sound echoed from the hole and travelled throughout the forest.

“Welcome to the mine field son,” His father said. He looked around the place, and then behind them.

Then he spoke.

“This is the place that is forbidden to the villagers except the elders.

“What is a mine field?” Juma asked in surprise as the loud bang was heard again from the hole: now given a new name by his father as mine pit.

“Our ancestors blessed this part of the forest and it possesses immense wealth. When our warriors attack and raid our enemies on the other side of the Great Mountain, they take them here where they work for the rest of their lives in the mine pits below. This place is only known to the elders and the warriors of the village. Women and children are only told vague rumors about the place to avoid spilling the secret to the rest of the village.”

Juma listened as his father explained to him the intricate details of the place.

“So what is this immense wealth that is in the ground?” Juma asked, bewildered.

His father knelt down and placed his hands behind his left leg. He took out a shiny knife which he always placed on the back of his leg and tied it with a piece of cloth. The sun’s rays reflected on the knife, making it shine in front of their eyes.

“You see this knife son, it’s made of silver,” He said as handed the knife to him. Juma took the knife and looked at it: amazed at its beauty.”

 “Juma spoke as he turned the knife around to have a closer look. He was completely fascinated by it.”

“Yes it is. Silver is a very rare item. We are blessed to have it in our land that’s why we guard it with our lives. We use it to make weapons among other farming tools. We also trade the commodity with the neighboring community in exchange of animals and crops. Silver is the backbone of our village my son. And it needs to be protected at all costs.

Juma immediately recalled seeing the warriors in at his village with shiny weapons.

It hit him; He was able to connect the dots seamlessly.

“And what is that noise coming from down there?”

“That is the sound of workers hitting the ground using chisels and hammers.”

His father responded as the loud bang echoed from the mine pit.

“Where are the workers?” Juma asked curiously.

His father did not respond. He moved closer to the mine pit and looked down. Juma carefully followed his father and peeped down the mine pit.

It was one deep mine. There were ropes dangling from all corners of the mine, all leading to the bottom.

“I see one person down there,” Juma said as he pointed down.

 His father looked in that direction and saw him. he was in a system of confusion as to why he was alone yet when he last visited the mine there were almost one hundred captured enemies working at the pit.

“Wewe!” His father shouted.  His echo bounced from the pit and vibrated throughout the forest.

It seemed like a middle-aged man was hitting the ground with a chisel. He stopped hitting and looked up towards them. He stared at them, not uttering a word.

“where are the rest,” Juma’s father shouted.

The man kept staring at both of them. He turned back towards the ground and then hit the ground thrice, making three loud bangs. The bangs were louder than before and they made Juma’s body vibrate continuously.

His father looked around the mine pit confused. He walked away from the hole and went a few steps towards the large heap of sand. Juma followed him curiously behind him.

His father stopped walking. Juma walked towards him and saw his father’s hands tightly clench the machete. He looked toward the heap of sand.

There was a dead body lying next to the heap of sand. He had a leopard skin covering his body and ostrich feathers around his head. Juma was shocked.

 He had never seen a dead warrior before. Until now.

His father looked closely and saw a deep circular wound on his left side of the chest. He looked closer and saw a shiny thing underneath the wound. Juma watched as his father placed his fingers inside the wound. He dug deep into the wound with his two fingers and they came out holding a small spherical ball. Juma’s father looked at it in surprise.

For the first time, Juma saw his all-knowing father confused.

He keenly observed the ball, wondering what it was.

“What is that,” Juma asked curiously.

“I… I… I don’t know.  And it’s made of silver,” his father responded.

There was a loud bang that made birds scamper for safety. Juma looked behind and watched as the birds flew away from their nests into the deeper part of the forest. The noise was louder than usual. He looked at the mine pit, which was few meters from him.

“He must have hit a large rock, right father,” Juma spoke as he turned back to face his father.

He stood there looking directly at him. He slowly opened his mouth to speak to his son.

Blood began coming out of his mouth. His eyes became wider and he knelt down. He placed his hands on his chin and looked at the blood that was oozing from his mouth.

“Father!” Juma screamed as he ran towards his father: confused.

He fell on the ground in pain as his son knelt beside him. Juma was confused, not knowing what to do.

“Help!! Anybody!!” He shouted.

But there was nobody there. Only trees. And birds. And insects.

“Umepiga wapi… Kwa mgongo.”

Juma heard slurred and indistinct chatters from the thick bushes. He watched as his father struggled to breath. They looked at each other in the eyes, with Juma shedding tears.

“Father! Wake up!” He shouted.

His father eyes became weaker and they slowly shut down, never to be opened again.

He had already slipped into the never-ending slumber.

Juma heard footsteps coming from the bushes.

“finally, someone Help!!” He shouted as he held his father’s lifeless body on his hands. The footsteps grew stronger and he eagerly waited for someone to rush to his help.

Two people emerged from the thicket. His wide smile on his face turned into a frown. He looked at the two people and none of them was familiar to him.

They were not from his village.

Not at all.

He watched them in surprise: particularly one of them.

He was unusual; he had not seen such a human being before.

One of them wore a cow skin around his body, with eagle feathers surrounding his clean shaven head; an indication he was a warrior from the neighboring community.

But the other one was one of a kind.

He gracefully walked along the other person; each step carefully calculated before leaving and hitting the ground. His skin was astonishing. It was white; the kind of white Juma saw when milk was being milked from cows by his mother.

His skin was white: unlike the other guy.

He looked at the man’s dressing and he even got more confused. He was wearing strange looking attire all over his body and instead of feathers on his head which was common. His eyes were blue and white, instead of the usual brown and white.

He was a white man:

Rumors had been going around the village about strange-looking people who had come to their land using ships with white sails.

Juma immediately realized that the rumors were indeed true.

And he was in the presence of one of them. He looked at his hands and he had a strange looking weapon. It was a long black metal thing with a large hole at the end. He held it using a curved handle and placed his finger on small piece of metal. The hole at the end of the weapon was red, and white smoke was coming out.

“Shika huyo mtoto!” The white man spoke using the local dialect as he pointed the weapon at Juma. He stood up and looked behind. He looked back and the white man pointed his weapon at him. 

He had to make a run for it.

Before he could even run, the man from the neighboring community pounced on him and grabbed his tiny arm.

“Handcuff him!” the white man commanded as he lowered his weapon.

The warrior dug into his leather pouch and took out a large shiny chain. He made Juma stand upright and placed his hands together on his stomach. Juma watched as the chain was tightly wound around his hands. He looked at them closely and they were very shiny: similar to his father’s knife.

It was silver.

The chain was made from silver.

The white man walked towards Juma’s father and placed his hand on his neck.

“He’s dead.” He said as he rolled his body, making the backside face upwards. He Had a large wound on his back.

“Too bad, he would have made a very fine slave just like the rest of the miners.”

The white man walked towards Juma and looked at him from head to toe.

“This one looks healthy. He will grow up to become a strong one. Round him up with the others. We are behind schedule. One more village is remaining. The one in that direction.”

He pointed to the direction of Juma’s village: the same direction they had used to come to the mine.

“We need to capture as many slaves as possible.”

The warrior nodded in agreement as he lifted Juma and placed him on his shoulder.

He began walking towards the mine pit.

Juma’s heart raced with tension as he imagined being thrown into the dark abyss.

The warrior reached at the edge of the hole. He looked down and saw the middle aged man who was hitting the ground with the chisel.

“Keep hitting the ground. We need as many people to come here as possible.” He shouted to the man who nodded.

“I took out his tongue. He won’t spill a thing to anyone,” The warrior said to Juma as they walked away from the mine and into the forest.

Juma tried freeing himself but the chains were too strong for a mere child like him: and the strong arms of the warrior held his body like a piece of firewood. He was unable to do anything.

“Don’t worry kid, your new home awaits.”

Juma looked behind and saw the white man walking behind him. He took out a short straight thing and placed it on his mouth. He then lit a small fire using his hands and placed it on the short straight thing. He took a deep breath in and took it away from his mouth. He breathed out and smoke came out of his mouth.

Juma watched in amazement as he put the stick in his mouth and exhaled smoke.

This was not an ordinary human to him.

It was a supernatural spirit.

The white man looked at Juma and laughed hysterically.

They walked deep into the forest and emerged on the other side of the forest. The warrior dropped Juma on the ground like a sack of potatoes. He landed on the ground smoothly; not as he had expected.

The soil was unusually smooth: and white. He felt a cool breeze brushing through his body. He turned back and saw it.

There was plenty of water behind him. too much water that he could not see the end of it.

It was the ocean.

There were five large ships with white sails swaying as the ocean wind blew the water in all directions, making them slightly dance on the water.

He looked around and saw a large group of people standing in a long straight line at the shores of the ocean, boarding the ships one by one. They had silver chains around their necks and legs, with each one tied to the other person. On the ships there were men with long weapons pointed at the ones who were boarding.

“Faster!” One of the men shouted as he whipped one of the slave who was having difficulty boarding the ship. The whip landed on his back, peeling his black skin off.

“Hey, kuja uchukue huyu,” The white man shouted as one of the guards rushed towards him. He grabbed Juma and looked at him.

“Come along now.” He grabbed the silver chain on his hands and dragged him on the beach towards the large crowd.

“We will name you John,” The guard told him as he placed heavy silver chain on his neck.

“No my name is Ju….”

A heavy slap landed on his face before he could even complete his sentence. He rolled on the ground in pain as the other captives looked at him in pity; unable to do anything.

“What is your name?” The man asked Juma, staring at him with fiery eyes. He looked at the other captives and one of them who had a huge scar on his face nodded at him.

“My name. My name…my name is J…J… John.”

He uttered the name as instructed. The man smiled at him and placed him at the end of the line, awaiting to board the ship. He was about to be taken to an unknown place; away from his family and everything he knew.

“Yes. Good boy.” The guard patted Juma on his head.

“Your name is now John.”

The sun was now setting, making the ship cast large shadows on the beach. John felt the ocean’s waves on his small feet, making the silver chain on his feet tremble uniformly with the movement of the waves. He watched as the people in front of him got into the ship; and it was almost his turn. He looked behind and saw the vast jungle behind him; wishing for the tiniest of opportunity to avail itself do that he could scamper away to the safety of his village and his family.

But that was just wishful thinking.

Everything he knew was about to change completely.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

THE END

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The way it works. Efficiency at its finest.

Just three grams enclosed in a small black plastic bottle with an orange lid can join the most teared surfaces within a minute. As I said, efficiency at its finest. The bottle comes with a small stainless steel needle which pierces through the plastic bottle. All you need is a few drops of the adhesive substance and your materials stick together with a strength that would take a lifetime to separate. It has this unique super strength that we can’t quite figure it out what it is. It has solved endless of mankind’s problems within minutes. And its price is just a mere fifty shillings. Whoever invented the super glue, we are forever in your debt. If only it would mend broken hearts.

If only.

Kuja na chupa zingine!!” Peter spoke while looking at the waitress with drowsy eyes. He belched loudly, with the stench of alcohol from his insides coming along with the belch. The smell hit the waitress on her nose, changing her facial expression while cringing her head in attempt to dodge the foul smell. The waitress took the three empty bottles of whisky from his table and placed them horizontally on the tray. She took a white towel and wiped the table, which had alcohol spilled all over. She glanced at him, particularly his white shirt which was stained in alcohol. He was DRUNK. Dead drunk. She looked at him keenly as she wiped the table. From her experience working in the establishment, something had gone clearly amiss in his life.

Peter stretched his hand and gripped her left hand.

She looked at him in disgust. He looked at her. And winked while smiling. She pulled her hand away from her, with the tray slightly swaying on her right hand. Peter let go and gave out a loud laugh. The waitress clicked angrily as she walked to the counter to bring his drinks. Peter looked around and everyone was looking at him. His drowsy eyes open and closed and his head felt heavy.

“What are you all looking at? You’ve never seen a drunk man before!”

He shouted as he let out a loud laugh. His world was spinning. The tables and chairs seemed to be rotating around him.

The waitress came back with his drinks and neatly placed them on the table. He tried to grab her hand again but this time she was quicker. She swiftly moved her hand before he could even reach her. His had landed on the table, and to compensate for his weak aim, he grabbed the bottle of whisky, quickly opened it and placed it on his mouth. He took three gulps of the bottle’s contents and placed it on the table. He tightly closed his eyes as she swallowed the whisky.

Swallowing the pain I suppose.

He took one more gulp and the bottle was empty. He looked at the bottle, amazed as to why the bottle was empty in no time. He could not comprehend this phenomena. He turned the bottle upside down and it was indeed empty.

“Another bottle!” He shouted while pointing at the waitress, who was serving other customers in the bar.

“Which drink would you like sir,” another waitress came to his table and asked him.

“No! Not you. I want her!” He shouted, still pointing at the waitress who served him.

She finished writing the orders of the other customers and walked towards Peter, with boredom and annoyance clearly written all over her face.

“Ok, I think you have had your share for the night. You should be getting home now,” she said, watching him struggle to keep his eyes open.

“You…you…you can’t tell me what’s enough for me… I said I want another one…” Peter stammered as he breathed heavily. His head swayed from left to right. He banged the table furiously, making the empty bottle jump from the table. It landed back on the table horizontally and rolled before coming to a halt right at the tip of the square table. The waitress quickly took it before it could land on the floor and scatter into a million pieces.

“Time for you to go home now Peter.”

A deep sound came from behind him.

He lazily turned his head sideways and looked behind him. It was the bar’s security officers.

He looked at the four of them who were heavily built and in black suits.  He got up, supporting this delicate procedure with the chair. He staggered as he wore his black coat. The waitress looked at him as he struggled to wear the coat. He looked at her smiling.

“I’ll be back for you,” he said.

She looked at him in disgust.

He winked at her and smiled as he staggered out of the bar, with the security officers behind him.

“Go home to your wife Peter, “one of the security officers spoke as he walked to the car park.  He slid his hands into his pocket and took the car keys. He looked around, confused. He turned to the security officers.

“Where the hell is my car? I parked it here.”

“It’s right in front of you man,” one of the security officers said while laughing. He looked in front of him and indeed it was there.

“Are you sure you can drive?”

“Yes… of course… it’s not my first time drinking. I’ll arrive home safely: as usual. I can’t wait to see my lovely wife. “

He got into his car and started the engine after two fails. He looked in front and could see brightly street lights. Alcohol was still in his system, but he has been doing this for a long time and never failed to reach home. Never.

He reversed the car out of the parking space. He looked at the bar’s entry and saw the waitress keenly observing him.

“Hey miss, do you want to come home with me?” He spoke as he laughed hysterically. The waitress faintly smiled and went back into the bar.

He carefully maneuvered out of the parking lot and drove off into the main highway. He glanced at the time, and it was almost 8PM. He looked at the speedometer at as usual, when he was under the influence, he ensured never to exceed 40km/h. A law which he followed religiously.

A law which ensured his safe return home every single week.

Safe return to his loving family. He could not wait to see his wife.

….

“Hurry up dear, finish your supper. Let me go to the shop.”

Lucy said to her daughter as she rushed into her bedroom. She looked into her golden purse and took out a fifty shillings note.

“What are you going to buy mum,” asked her ever curious daughter.

“I’m going to buy super glue. My other purse tore off while I was alighting the matatu. Finish your food. Remember you will be sleeping and Anne’s place. They are your friends.”

“Yaaay,” her daughter screamed in joy as she quickly ate her food.

Lucy rushed out of the house and walked towards the shop.

“Habari yako,” she greeted the shopkeeper who greeted her back.

“Do you have super glue?”

The shopkeeper responded and gave it to her. She looked at it. It was a white bottle with a black lid. It was not the one she was used to.

Hii ni gani. Nataka ile ingine,” she said as she gave it back to the shopkeeper.

The shopkeeper took it and returned it into the shelf. He opened another shelf and took out another super-glue.

“Yes, this is the one,” Lucy said as she gave him the fifty shillings note. The black bottle with an orange lid was the most efficient super glue; according to everyone. That was the one everyone was used to, so a white one was simply a no.

Then her phone beeped. She stopped walking, took her phone, looked at it and it was a message notification. She opened the message and read it. She smiled as her place the phone back in her pocket and continued walking to her house.

She went back to her house and her daughter had finished eating.

“Ok now. Let’s go to Anne’s place.” Lucy rushed into her bedroom and placed the superglue on the table behind to the night lamp.

She then went to her daughter’s bedroom and took her toothbrush.

“Here, keep your toothbrush in your pocket,” she said as she gave it to her daughter.

“When is daddy coming? I wanna see him before I go. And mommy, why always when daddy comes let you let me sleep at Anne’s place.”

Her daughter’s curiosity was unmatched. Unchallenged.

She quickly thought of something to say.

“Don’t worry. Everything is fine with dad. Come on now, let’s go.”

Lucy and her daughter got out of the house and headed towards Anne’s house, which was not far from their house. Her daughter was extremely excited to sleep at her best friend’s house. Anne was her best friend for her entire life of seven years in this world.

It was best if she slept there. Where she felt safest.

They reached their house and her daughter could not contain her excitement. She ran towards Anne and greeted each other like they had been away for years; yet they were at school together.

Anne’s mother, Rose and Lucy greeted each other and went to the kitchen while their daughters played in the living room. Rose was in the middle of preparing dinner.

“Thanks for letting her sleep here,” Lucy said to Anne’s mother.

“No problem at all. You know I got you,” Rose responded as she finely sliced tomatoes on the chopping board.

As usual, every time the two of them met, it would be chit chat; discussing every single details of their lives, even the private ones. They would tell each other endless stories of how their lives were doing; and of course offer each other tons of advice. Whether good or bad.

In the midst of those entertaining stories, Lucy’s phone rang.

She took it from her pocket and looked at who was calling. She looked at Rose with scared eyes and showed the phone to her.

It was Peter. Her husband.

“Oh my God, he’s home. What do I say?” Lucy asked, terrified.

“Answer it. Tell him you are on the way.”

Lucy took a deep breath and pressed the answer button.

“He…he…Hello…”

“Where the hell are you?” Peter shouted.

Lucy could his heavy breathing, an indication that he was dead drunk.

“I’m…I’m…”

Before she could even complete the sentence, Peter shouted at him, this time louder

“Get over here right now!”

He hang up the phone. Lucy removed the phone from her ear and placed it in her pocket. She looked at Rose with tears forming in her eyes.

“You have to go Lucy. There is no other way. We have discussed this. You have to do this. It’s the only way you can be free from all this pain. Listen to me. You have to go home. Your daughter is safe here.”

They hugged each other as she wiped her tears off her face.

“Ok. Let me go.” She wiped her tears again and regained her normal face. She took deep breaths as she prepared herself for what was to come.

“I’ll be back for my daughter tomorrow.”

She went to the living room and saw her daughter playing with her best friend.

“Hey, I’m going home. I’ll come het you tomorrow.”

Her daughter was too busy playing to hear her mother’s words.

Lucy and Rose went outside and hugged each other.

“Take care.

You too.”

Rose got back into the house and Lucy began walking home. She could hear her daughter’s joyous laughter echoing from the house.

Then her phone rang again. She looked and it was her husband. She returned the phone back to her pocket, a move to avoid the insults that were to come out of the phone’s speaker.

She neared her home and indeed, he was home.

His car was parked in a rather ‘drunkard’ manner. It was parked in the middle of the road, without a care in the world. The headlights were still on. She slowly opened the door and got inside the house.

It was dark.

She switched on the lights and walked into the living room. She heard a loud crack on her feet. She quickly looked down and notices she had stepped onto a broke piece of glass which crackled as she walked. She looked around and saw lots of broken pieces scattered on the floor. Her favorite glass vase, which she neatly hung next to the door, was on the floor, destroyed and scattered.

She heard loud noises followed by sounds of things falling and breaking on the floor. It was coming from the bedroom. She quietly walked into the kitchen and looked at all the broken utensils spread across the floor.  She looked up and the cabinets were all open and dangling for their dear lives.

It was Peter’s routine while drunk; Park the car anywhere, cause rampage in the living room, kitchen and finally the bedroom. She looked at her favorite glassware, the food which she had prepared for him was on the floor. It has always been like this. Ever since they got married four years ago. Every Friday, he came home drunk as hell and wreaked havoc wherever his hands touched.

Including her.

She knew what would happen if she entered the bedroom. The very thought of it made her regret why she left Rose’ house in the first place. She pulled her long-sleeved shirt and stared at her healing wounds which were inflicted upon her a few weeks ago by Peter when he came home drunk on Friday; as usual. They were marks all over her hands and neck. She looked at them and imagined of her lovely daughter was the one having the marks. She tried as much as possible to protect her daughter from seeing what Peter did to her.

And she succeeded. She was proud of her choices.

And now there was one more thing left to do.

…..

Peter jumped on the bed, exhausted. He looked around the bedroom and saw the mess he created.

He smiled.

He had rampaged everything in the bedroom. Except for one thing.

The night lamp was neatly standing on the corner of his bed, beaming soft light across the room. It was the only thing which he never destroyed. It was his late brother’s lamp which he has since taken great care of as a sign of respect. No matter how drunk or wild he became, the lamp was always spared of the atrocities. His head was drowsy and heavy. He lazily got up and sat at the edge of the bed, his hands supporting his heavy head. He heavily blinked and then he heard footsteps.

“Lucy!!!”

Her name echoed across the house as he yelled it.

The footsteps came closer and closer and the bedroom door slowly opened.

“Ye…yes… Yes…” Lucy spoke as she gracefully walked into the bedroom.

She looked at Peter, who was staring directly into her soul, with his hands supporting his head. His white shirt was stained in alcohol, making it look like a multi-colored shirt. She gazed at their bedroom; the mess was spectacular. Even the kitchen was not badly affected as here. The drawers were all open, with both of their clothes scattered across the room.

“Where have you been? And where is my daughter!”

Peter slowly got up. His fiery eyes were piercing through her.

“She… she’s at Anne’s place. She’ll spend the night there,” she stammered.

Peter walked towards her and stopped right in front of her, his head almost touching hers; they were the same height. She felt the stench of alcohol dive into her nostrils as Peter breathed heavily. He looked into her eyes and saw them slowly become teary. Her breath increased in pace and her eyes became wider.

And he loved that. Very much. Watching fear consume every bit of her.

“I’m…I’m…im…sorry…”

Peter lifted his hands and placed them softly around her neck. He felt her warm neck and breath coming in and out of her. Her high pulse vibrated on his hands as he tightened his grip around her neck.

Lucy gasped for breath as she felt her neck becoming tighter and tighter. She closed her eyes and swallowed a huge gulp of saliva; awaiting for the unknown. Her neck become uncomfortably tight and she placed her hands on Peter’s huge arms, trying to stop him from choking her.

Peter looked at her hands as she pressed his arms tightly, trying to remove them from her neck. He leaned towards her and gave her soft kiss on her lips. He felt her breath in her mouth, giving her a passionate kiss while slowly releasing his grip form her neck. He let go of her neck and kissed her forehead.

And then he smiled.

Lucy was confused. She did not know what to do.  Smile back, or just ignore.

She smiled back, revealing her white, neatly arranged teeth.

They smiled at each other. It was like a stormy weather was quickly overshadowed by a bright sunny day.

The silver lining.

Peter looked at her for a moment. She saw her beautiful face beam with a smile; a smile for him. He smiled back at her. And then it hit him like an electric shock. He had not seen his daughter.

He grabbed her neck again. Her smile disappeared from her face without a trace.

“Why did you take my daughter away,” He asked in a deep voice while tightening his grip. She was speechless as Peter’s fiery eyes stared at her. She felt her legs leaving the ground.

He lifted her a few inches off the ground and watched her as she gasped for breath, frantically moving her arms around his face. He turned around and faced the large bed. He pulled her closer to him and then stretched his hands, releasing her from his grip.

Lucy landed on the bed with her back. She took deep breaths and she rolled over, trying to sit upright. She looked at Peter as he walked towards her, smiling. He slowly began unbuttoning his shirt and he walked to her. He threw his shirt on the floor and jumped on the next to her. He knelt and started unzipping his jeans.

“No… Peter… I don’t want to…”

A heavy slap landed on her right cheek sending her head back to the white sheets. She screamed in pain and Peter landed her another slap.

She cried.

Peter grabbed her and forcefully kissed her. She had no alternative; nowhere else to go in this dark night. Peter pounced on top her.

She tightly closed her eyes as she felt his hands slithering across her body. She was powerless against him. Of course.

She wept silently as Peter did whatever he pleased to her.

……

They lay on the bed together. Peter was dead asleep facing the ceiling, snoring as usual after fulfilling his desires. Lucy, however, was wide awake, staring at him. She slowly took his hand which was laying on top of her and carefully placed it on the bed. He did not even move a single muscle.

He was dead asleep.

She quietly woke up and rolled out of the bed, making sure she was as quiet as possible. She looked at him and he was still asleep. Lucy tiptoed away from the bed, dodging the scattered pieces of metal and glass on their bedroom floor. She looked back at Peter again; he was still asleep. She went to the night lamp, which was still on. She stretched her hands behind the lamp and grasped the super glue. She carefully slit the paper-like cover and took out the bottle. She glanced again at Peter: he was in the same state of slumber. She opened the orange lid and used the needle to pierce through the opening. She lightly pressed the bottle and a small drop of the glue came out; an indication that it was fully open.

She walked back and slowly knelt on the bed facing Peter. She moved closer to him, making sure she doesn’t disturb his peaceful sleep. She held the super glue on the right hand, with the left hand opening one of his eyelids. She quickly held his eyelid open and pressed the bottle on top of his eyes. Several drops landed right into his eyes and spread evenly across the eye’s surface. She quickly opened the other eyelid and poured the glue into his eyes.

Peter suddenly began moving. She got out of the bed and stood away from him.

Peter’s head felt heavy. He turned his head left and right. He lazily sat on the bed. He looked around and it was all darkness. His eyes felt funny and he touched them. His eyelids were tightly shut. He tried opening them but they were still shut. He touched his eyes and a liquid felt a soft liquid on his eyelids. He smelled it and knew immediately what it was.

“What the…. Is this. Is this… super glue?” He asked in shock. He forced his eyelids apart but they were tightly locked together. He was shocked.

He opened his eyes and they were completely shut. He held his eyelashes, pulled them up and grabbed his lower eyelid. He tried separating them; but it was too late.

You all know the power of super glue.

His world was now in total darkness. He could not believe what just happened.

“What have you done to me you woman!” he shouted as he spread his hands around the bed.

She was not there. The only thing around him were bedsheets and a pillow.

“Where are you Lucy?”

He got up and stood next to the bed. All he could see was darkness.

“Where the hell are you?”

Lucy stood a few meters away from him, watching him spreading his hands aimlessly in attempt to catch her.

She smiled.

Then she spoke.

“That’s what you get for treating me like some piece of trash. You get what you deserve Peter.”

Peter heard her voice coming from the left end of the room. He raised his legs and began walking towards her, only step on a piece of metal and fall to the ground. He cursed as he angrily got up, with his only sense of sight being his hands. He reached at the left side of the room and grabbed the wall, hoping it would be Lucy.

She had slowly tiptoed and stood away from him, watching his struggled with the wall.

“Wait till I get my hands on you!! I will choke you death!!”

Peter was helpless. He leaned on the wall, trying as much as possible to open his eyes.

But once they were shut; they were shut.

“You want to hold me like the way you held the waitress at the bar?”

Peter was surprised. And confused.

“Wait… wha…what!”

Lucy smiled as she watched Peter’s bewildered face.

“The waitress a good friend of mine. She notified me when you entered the club. And how you were looking at touching her with your drunk self. Wow, how flirty of you. I told her to add a little something in your drink to make you excessively wasted. When you were chased out of the club, she notified me you were coming and I went to buy the super glue. I knew if I kept it behind your precious night lamp you would not touch it. I had been planning this for the longest time possible.  Thanks to her and Rose, my plan went perfectly well. Now you will never bother me and my daughter ever again.”

Peter listened to her and anger boiled in him. He grabbed a piece of glass from the floor and threw it in front of him. It hit the wall with a loud shattering sound.

Lucy let out a laughter.

“You missed. Now it’s my turn,” she said.

Peter heard the bedroom door open and footsteps walking away from the room.

“Come back here!” He shouted as he carefully walked towards the door, spreading his hands in front of him while stepping on pieces of glass which pierced through his feet. He reached and held the bedroom door. He walked out of the bedroom and headed towards the living room, with the wall being his only source of support. He slowly walked while touching the wall. He suddenly stumbled and fell on the floor. He felt a large object on his foot. He touched it and realized it was Lucy’s favorite vase; broken and destroyed.

He then heard footsteps in the kitchen. Her footsteps.

“Come here you woman!”

He got up and leaned on the wall. After all, he knew his house very well and could tell where the kitchen was. He walked while leaning on the wall towards the kitchen. He heard the footsteps becoming louder as he reached the kitchen.

“Good, you have brought yourself here,” Lucy said as she looked at him supporting himself on the wall.

“I swear if I get my hands on you I will…”

He listened as Lucy walked around the kitchen in slow steady steps. He heard the opening of a drawer followed by the sound of dropping utensils.

“Well, here it is finally,” she spoke.

“Oh God. No… what are you trying to do….” Peter was shocked.

Peter knew exactly what she was talking about. She always kept it on the top drawer and used it only when she was baking or preparing food for visitors.

It was a long, stainless steel chef knife.

“I told you I will make sure you don’t bother us ever again.”

For the first time, Peter was scared of her. Scared of what she was about to do. He quickly turned back and walked out of the kitchen. He stumbled and fell on the floor; again. He heard footsteps coming closer and closer to him.

“Lucy please…please don’t do this…Please…Let’s talk…” He turned back and of course he saw nothing. He could only hear footsteps moving closer and closer to him.

“Goodbye Peter.”

The footsteps became louder and his heart rate increased.

…..

…….

“We are gathered here to celebrate the life well lived of Mr. Peter. His life was cut short by the brutal hands of robbers who attacked their house two weeks ago. Luckily, his wife and daughter survived but he was stabbed seven times on the chest and back. May he rest in eternal peace.”
Lucy stood next to the grave, firmly holding her daughter’s hand. Tears rolled in her eyes as the pastor paid the final respects before the golden coffin was lowered to the ground. She took out her handkerchief and carefully wiped her tears off her face.

Standing next to her was Rose and the waitress, all in full black. They looked at each other and held each other’s hands.

Peter’s family stood around the grave, all in tears, contemplating what could have conspired that night.

“Don’t worry, we are together in this tragedy. May those robbers never know peace,” a faint voice came from behind Lucy. She turned her head and standing behind her was Peter’s mother.

“Thank you mum,” Lucy said as they hugged each other, crying uncontrollably.

“We will find those guilty of killing our beloved Peter. And they will suffer.”

The coffin was lowered to the ground and covered in sand.

Peter’s mother, Lucy, Rose and the waitress slowly walked back to the house, while holding each other’s hands.

A show of support and solidarity.

…….

The White Light

time-travel-1170064

“Hey babe it’s on! It’s live! Switch on the news! It has started!”

Jane took the rice off the cooker and placed it next to the kitchen sink. She removed the rice from the hot sufuria and placed it in a blue hotpot: her favorite of them all. She neatly closed the hotpot and swiftly carried it to the dining table. She raced back into the kitchen and glanced at the liver which she had left to simmer for a while. She opened the lid, dipped a spoon into the brown delicious boiling soup, scooped some and lifted the spoon next to her face. She inhaled and the aroma dived into her nostrils. She curved a smile as her mouth became watery. She rolled out her tongue and placed the tip onto the spoon to taste the soup.

Of course it was delicious. As usual.

She switched off the gas cooker and took the food to the dining table and placed it next to the rice.

“Babe it’s about to start anytime from now. Oh my God this is it!” Jane said hysterically as she rushed into the kitchen and came out with two plates. She served the hot food on the two plates, with the rice below the liver; in near perfect proportions. After all, her studies in hospitality weren’t for nothing. She was a master of her art.

But that was not the only thing she was passionate about.

“Babe. Babe” She called out but got no response. She looked at the sofa.

No one there.

She cringed her mouth in anger and headed to the bedroom. All along she had been talking to herself. Like a retard.

She rushed towards the bedroom, opened the door and saw him. Dead asleep on the bed, snoring.

“Babe!” She shouted while stomping the ground.

.

John lazily opened his eyes and looked around, confused; wondering which dimension he is in. He heavily blinked twice, stretched his hands upwards and got up. He scrubbed his eyes with his palms and suddenly remembered that he thought he heard the high pitched sound of his wife. Or maybe he was dreaming? He tried to remember what he had dreamt about, but we all know how that results into. Nothing. Complete blackout yet it was your own mind that created and directed your dreams. And when you wake up your mind leaves you clueless.

He looked behind him.

Jane was standing on the door, hands on her waist staring directly into his soul.

So he hadn’t been dreaming about her voice. It was real.

“Damn I must have slept,” he spoke as he got up from the bed and walked towards her. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and looked at the dining table.

“Something smells nice,” he spoke as he looked at her. Her angry face changed as she let out a weak smile.

It worked. As it always has. Never gets old. A complement on her culinary skills brightens her day in an instant, making her forget all the angry words she was about to unleash unto the world.

“Let’s eat and go. You know how I have waited for so long for this,” Jane said as they sat at the dining table.

John took the remote and switched to the news channel. They watched as they ate the food.

“The day has finally arrived. After 20 years of hard work, trial and error it has finally been completed. I can tell you people are super excited about it…” The reporter talked happily as she stood in front of the main entrance of the Kenya Research Institute. Jane and John watched keenly as the events outside the institute unfolded. News reporters were all over the place and cameramen were flashing hundreds of photos at once, making the entrance seem like some sort of red carpet or a movie premiere. All channels were keenly witnessing the event.

But it was no ordinary event.

Not ordinary at all.

They finished eating their heavy lunch and Jane swiftly grabbed her white towel and rushed into the bathroom for a quick shower. She entered the bathroom and looked back, only to see John comfortably seated at the sofa picking his teeth with a toothpick.

“Hey, kwani hukuji kushower?” She asked him.

“Nah, I think I’m good,” he responded while giving his armpits a light smell. He crinched his nose but convinced himself he was clean enough to be at the presence of society.

Or so he thought.

Jane took a quick shower as John went into the bedroom and wore his favorite white shirt and blue jeans.

His all-time favorite.

He took the car keys, and a few accessories and went back to the living room to follow up the news.

Thirty minutes later, Jane opened the bathroom door, and vapor from the extremely hot water she was bathing with escaped to the outside world; her love for hot water was unimaginable. Then she emerged from the vapor, reborn, glowing. She swiftly walked to the bedroom and began her thirty minute process of getting dressed up. For five years, John had known each and every Jane’s activities and the time it took to complete the said activities.

She came out of the bedroom fully dressed; after thirty minutes.

“Finally,” John said as he lazily got up from the sofa.

“I hope you have our gate passes into the institute.”

Jane rushed back into the bedroom and grabbed the two documents.

“Here they are. We can go now.”

They quickly left the house and went into their car. They drove off while listening to the radio conversations which were all about where they were heading to.

“Well ladies and gentlemen, history is going to be made today I tell you…” The presenters were conversing as Jane and John listened keenly.

“It is happening folks. For twenty years we have waited. Twenty years is a long time. But the wait is over. We have been hearing rumors since the beginning of the year that it will be launched soon. It turns out the rumors are indeed true.

“Yes. The machine has been in construction for twenty years. It’s just amazing. Twenty years… that was way back in 2020. And today, January 30th 2040 the dream has been actualized. It’s actually a huge milestone to mankind as well as to the government. For achieving this great accomplishment, we have proven ourselves to be among the most scientific advanced countries in the world. I can’t tell you how happy and excited I am about today. It’s a glorious day for our country and the world at large.”

“And are they going to let us in to see the machine?” One of the presenters asked.

“Umm… probably not. Of course it’s a research area and it has been gazette as a private untresspassable place. Very few government officials will be granted access into the main laboratory where the machine has been kept. Also I have been told around fifty citizens will be randomly chosen to observe the machine. They have already been given unique passes which will enable them gain entry into the building itself. And also even the scientists themselves will need to have the gate pass to prevent any unauthorized entry into the building. As you can see there is a heavy presence of security personnel monitoring the area.”

The radio conversations went on and on as many people asked questions and were answered. John listened to the radio as his best friend and workmate, Mr. Peter gave detailed explanations to the viewers without spilling any confidential secrets.

“One more question, how were they able to make such a machine. I mean a few decades ago, if you mentioned time travel you would seem like you are a mad man. But here we are, it has now become a reality. It’s… its just unbelievable.”

It was indeed unbelievable.

Unbelievable that such a fictitious phenomenon could come to reality.

John skillfully maneuvered through the horrendous city traffic as he listened to the radio conversations. He looked at his wife who was riding shotgun. She was engrossed in her phone, probably tweeting and instargamming her journey to the research facility; making people feel envious of her exclusive entrance into the institution. She smiled as she typed on her phone.

“Hey babe smile,” she said as she lifted her phone to get a proper angle for the both of them. John looked at the front camera and showed a slight smile; the one that lies somewhere between a smile and a frown. She on the other hand gave out the smiliest smile of them all. She snapped a photo. And another one. And another ten more. John tried to maintain the same facial expression and driving, while she switched from smiles to winks and wiggles. Twenty snaps later she placed the phone down and began a deep scrutiny to select the lucky one that would be granted a unique opportunity to be seen by the outside world.

Finally, after one hour on the road, they reached the entrance of the research institute. It was crowded.

Overcrowded.

“Damn, all these people,” Jane said as she took endless photos of the crowd that had formed around the gate. John tried to find a way in between the crowds but it was packed. He honked his horn in frustration but the cheers and loud shouts of the crowd overshadowed the German horn.

The crowd was getting larger as more people flowed to the place. He looked behind using the side mirror and saw the once clear road fill with people, swallowing his car whole. The crowds were shouting and it seemed unsure whether they were jovial or angry. His car was now technically being squeezed as people yelled while placing their hands on his car.

Then out of nowhere, a man jumped on top of the front part of a car. In his hand was a huge placard with some writings on it. He yelled as he lifted the placard high in the air. Jane was shocked and nearly dropped her phone under the seat.

“Oh hell no,” John said as he watched the man climb on top of their car and begun jumping, making loud bangs. The rest of the crowd cheered him as he repeatedly jumped on their car. John tried to open the door but the crowd was all over the car.

“Hey! Get off my car!” John shouted as another man jumped at the back of the car. His shouting was futile. The windows were all locked and tinted and no sound could be heard from inside the car. To the crowd, the car was their podium. He looked at Jane who was busy taking photos while smiling. She looked at him and the smile slowly faded. She pointed the camera at him and took a snap.

Then she laughed while looking at the photo.

“Relax babe, they are just as excited as I am,” she said as she showed him the photo.

It looked terrible. He looked terrible.

He breathed heavily as he tried to find, if possible, any way to get out of this crowd.

He was a huge hater of crowds. No reason. He just hated being among many people. Unlike his wife. The exact opposite of him. She was a crowd person. A crowd lover.

A crowd magnet.

She was having the time of her life.

He was not. Not even a little bit.

“Look babe, we are on the news,” Jane said as he showed him a clip from the social media site which showed two men jumping up and down a black BMW.

His BMW. His favorite automobile.

The caption was “Countrywide celebration as the first time-travelling machine is launched in Kenya.” He scoffed at the video. To him it was not celebration. Not at all.

Then they heard loud sirens which became louder and closer to them.

One by one, the crowd began moving away from their car. The two people who were on top of their car quickly jumped off and rushed away from the car. The large crowd that was blocking the way began moving away from the car. Slowly, the road cleared, leaving Jane and John confused. He looked behind and smiled.

A motorcade was coming into the research institute.

“Well, the president has arrived at the research center. As you can see people are making way for the presidential motorcade. Two police officers are coming out of the first car and are walking towards a black BMW that is in the middle of the road. I had not seen the car, must have been engulfed by the crowd,” The news presenter said in the radio station Jane and John were listening to.

John watched as two men in black police uniform and black glasses walked towards his car. They came next to him and knocked on the tinted window. He rolled down the window as they removed their glasses.

“Excuse me Mr., you need to park your car away from the ro….

Oh, Dr John. How are you Sir?”

They were surprised. They calmly lowered their tone when they realized it was him.

“I’m fine thank you,” John responded as his wife waved at them.

“I was trying to enter the building but as you saw the crowd was just uncontrollable.”

“Ooh ok… well then now the road is clear…you may drive in.”

John gave them a nod as he switched on the engine. He slowly drove towards the institute as the two policemen walked back into their car. The sirens blared behind them as the presidential motorcade were trailing them.

“The President saves the day,” John said as he smiled. People were now at a safe distance and they continued celebrating as the motorcade awed them.

They finally reached the huge gate which was manned by police officers. They came to his car and he showed them the gate pass.

The officer raised his hand, signaling the one controlling the gate. It opened and he drove in. He went to the parking lot and parked his car. The presidential motorcade drove past him towards the VIP parking area which was behind the building.

He took out his white lab and gave Jane a blue one

“Here is yours,” He said while handing a blue lab coat to his wife.

“Why is mine blue not white,” She asked.

“It’s because you are a visitor babe. Visitors wear blue. I work here, that’s why I wear white.”

They got out of the car and walked towards the entrance of the building. The press was at the entrance interviewing everyone who came into the building: for some spicy information which might be pleasing to the ears and eyes of their viewers.

“It’s Dr John,” said one of the reporters and all of them turned towards them as they climbed the stairs to the main entrance.

“How is the time travelling machine like…?

How big is it?

Has anyone used it yet…? Have you used it yet?

What does the future look like?

Will the President be the first to use it?

How did you make the time machine…? What equipment did you use?

How far to the past and future can one travel?”

Dozens of questions were thrown at him by the news reporters who placed their microphones at his mouth, hoping to hear a word or two from him. John held his wife’s hands as she stood next to him. More and more questions were asked and the loud noise made him a bit restless. He looked around the compound as more reporters came to where he was standing. Cameras were flashing, people were shouting while squeezing in attempt to come closer to him. He took a deep breath and spoke.

“Ummm…umm… It’s confidential. I am not allowed to say anything concerning the matter. That’s all I can say.”

He continued walking, with his wife closely behind him.

“Dr John… Dr John…”

The journalists followed him while repeating the questions to him. He increased his pace and climbed the stairs quickly. He smiled as he entered the building. The security officers closed the door behind him, leaving the journalists at the hands of the officers.

“Phew,” He said as he wore his lab coat.

“Wear your coat babe,” He told Jane who quickly wore the coat. They wore their name tags and went to the elevator.

“Wow, this place is huge,” said Jane as she looked around with eyes wide open. The large screen in the middle of the hall was unlike any other. She marveled as she saw scientists moving around the building, going about their daily activities.

“So everyone here is a genius huh.”

“It would appear so,” John answered back, with a smile.

They entered the elevator and headed for the tenth floor. The elevator beeped as it ascended.

“What’s in the tenth floor, Jane asked.

John looked at her and smiled.

“Oh my God, it’s where the machine is.”

“Yes,” John answered.

The elevator reached the fifth floor and stopped. Its doors opened and a man and woman entered the elevator.

“Hello Dr John,” They both said

John greeted them back.

“This is my wife Jane. Jane, these are my workmates, Peter and Lucy.”

They greeted each other and exchanged pleasantries.

“It’s finally happening, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. After twenty years. Let’s hope all goes well.”

They engaged in conversations as the elevator reached the tenth floor.

It beeped and its doors opened.

The floor was unusually silent since it was the busiest floors since it housed the main laboratory of the building.

They walked out of the elevator and its doors shut. They looked around and saw police officers and members of the military were surrounding the whole floor.

“Let me see you IDs please,” one officer who was standing next to the elevator told them. They presented their IDs and they were thoroughly checked. Their pockets were thoroughly frisked.

“I’m sorry but no phones are allowed in the area,” said one of the police officers.

“Why?” Jane asked hesitantly.

“It’s just protocol.”

They handed their phones to the officers. Jane elevated mood suddenly crumbled into frustrations as she has hopes of snapping the time machine and share it to her followers.

Those hopes were shattered.

“You may proceed,” they were told as one of the officers directed them to the entrance of the main lab.

They entered the lab.

The president stood a few meters from the entrance, as one of John’s colleagues engaged him in conversations; probably answering his questions.

Jane was bewildered. She gazed at the time machine as though she had seen a ghost. Her mouth was wide open as she stood next to her husband, who watched her while smiling.

“You should see your face,” he said.

In the lab were several government officials who had accompanied the president, as well as military officials.

“Mr. President I would like to introduce you to Dr. John.”

John’s colleague spoke as he came closer to him.

“Mr. President, nice to meet you,” John said as he stretched his hand to greet him.

“Ah yes, Dr John, the pleasure is all mine. I have heard all about you,” He said as they shook each other’s hands.

“And this is my wife. Jane…”

“Nice to meet you Sir,” she said as she shook his hand.

She clearly could not hide her excitement as she greeted the president.

If only she could have her phone.

John and the president walked towards the time machine, which was at the corner of the lab. Following behind them were the government and military officials.

“So you designed this machine.

Yes Sir, I did with the help of my colleagues. We have been developing it since early 2020. We had the idea long before that. Since 2017 to be exact. We have tried countless times but the machine crashed and even exploded at one time.”

“Yes, I was briefed about what you were trying to accomplish and I must say I was impressed by your determination.”

“Thank you Sir.”

He felt proud.

“Now what you are seeing here is the finalized time machine,” John said as he placed his hand on the smooth walls of the machine.

The President followed his lead as he placed his hands on the machine. He keenly looked at it from top to bottom. The government and military officials surrounded the machine while carefully touching it. They whispered to each other in astonishment as they scrutinized the machine.

It was four meters long. At the top, many huge electrical wires ran through the entire machine. At the front part was a large transparent door which enabled one to see inside the machine. Inside the machine were spiral wires and several switches. The President and his entourage observed the machine for a while.

His wife was there. She could not be left behind. How could she? She marveled as she touched the machine.

“How does it work?” One of the government officials asked.

“This is the door of the machine,” John said as he opened the machine’s door.

“The machine is controlled both internally and externally. Once you are in the machine, you key in the year you want to go to and wear this helmet around your head. The door is locked and the electromagnetic current combined with the small nuclear particles in the machine create a field which we have named ‘Time field’ that transports you to the year of your choice.”

“Wow, so I can travel back to the very beginning of time then and see how we were created then,” asked one of the officers.

“About that, it’s currently impossible to travel more than twenty years into the future. We are still working on how we can travel endlessly through time, but it will take a long time. So currently the limit is twenty years ahead or behind our current year.”

They nodded as they listened to John unleash his scientific language upon them. His wife stood among them, astonished by his husband’s incredible intellect.

“So have you tried time travelling in this machine,” The President asked.

“Not yet Sir. We have been experimenting with animals, from rats to monkeys and it has proven a success. All the animals we sent to the past and future came back with normal signs and behavior.

“How long can you time travel with the machine” another one asked.

“Well, so far our longest time was fifteen minutes and thirty five seconds. So we have estimated the capability of the machine to be fifteen minutes maximum. And also we are still developing a mechanism that will enable us communicate and even see through live feed what the person time travelling will see. “

The president was left speechless by John’s narrations. He nodded as John narrated further details of the machine.

Then out of nowhere, an idea blew into John’s mind.

“By your permission I can demonstrate to you how it works.” John said.

“Is it safe?”

“Yes it is Sir, “John said confidently.

“Okay, very well then.”

The President approved.

Never before had they tried using the machine with a human being. There is a first time for everything.

His colleagues looked at him in confusion.

“What are you doing? We aren’t 100% positive if it’s safe for a human” One of his colleagues whispered to him.

“The monkey wasn’t affected. And its DNA is closest to ours. So you can do the math,” John answered back.

His colleagues came to him and he spoke to them.

“You know the procedure. Every one go to your stations. We are about to make history.”

His colleagues rushed towards the computer operating the machine.

“Hey John, you are risking your life aren’t you? I will not let you do this.”

His wife looked at him sternly. He took a deep breath and held her hands.

“Don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe. I’m going to see our future babe. Our future. Won’t you like to know what it will be like? How we would be in fifteen years’ time? Our kids? “

Jane looked down. Then she looked at him.

“Okay then. But you are coming out of the machine after one minute.”

“Five minutes,” he said while smiling. He gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Ok Dr John, wear this,” one of his colleagues said as he handed him an aluminum suit.

He removed the lab coat and handed it to his wife. He then wore the suit and zipped it up.

The President and his officials watched closely.

“Mr. President, you should stay at the safe area behind that glass over there. The radiations in here are extremely dangerous. That’s why I have this aluminum suit on me. It prevents the waves from penetrating my skin.”

All other individuals followed the President. His wife too. The glass was ten meters from the machine, which according to their calculations was a good distance.

John watched as everyone was in the safe zone. He looked at his wife who looked directly back.

“Whenever you are ready Doctor,” one of his colleagues said as he directed him to the machine.

“Which year would you like to go?” He asked John.

“Fifteen years in the future, which is 2055. I’m going for exactly five minutes only,” he told his colleague who nodded in response.

John pressed a button next to the machine’s door and it slowly opened. He entered the machine and wore the helmet which was above him. He pressed another button and the machine closed. On his right side were a set of numbers. He pressed 2055 at the year section and five minutes at the time section. Next to the numbers was a huge red button. The power button. He took a deep breath and blinked twice.

Then he pressed the button.

The machine turned on. It roared to life as its lights came on. The machine began vibrating slowly, increasing its vibrations. John looked outside and saw people watching keenly watching him as the machine vigorously vibrated. He watched his wife as she tightly held his white lab coat. His eyesight became blurry as he felt intense pressure in his body. The machine counted down from 20 as it continued vibrating. His head felt heavy and numb due to the electric current being transferred throughout his body.

“5…4…3…2…”

He felt dizzy as the machine was completing the countdown. He tried opening his eyes the images were becoming blurry and unclear. He could see faint silhouettes of the people standing behind the safe zone. He took deep controlled breaths held onto the machine. He could feel his heartbeat becoming faster and blood flowing in his body. The machine’s lights blinked on and off.

Then a bright light flashed in front of his eyes. The light was so bright and hot that he tightly shut his eye. The machine vibrated nonstop for ten seconds. He felt a sudden stretch in his body as the machine vibrated.

And then it stopped.

He slowly opened his eyes while blinking heavily. He looked around in confusion as there was darkness all over. He pressed one of the buttons on his left side and the machine’s lights came back on. He looked around again and noticed the machine was in good shape. He removed the helmet and shook his head. His breathing returned to normal. He felt nauseated and felt the vomit climbing up his alimentary canal. He pressed the button next to the door and it opened. He jumped out of the machine and fell to the ground, vomiting. He coughed and wiped himself with a piece of towel. He got up and looked around. He was not in the laboratory. He looked up and saw the sky.

It was red.

He looked around one more time, not believing what he is seeing. He looked at his wristwatch. It read 22nd October 2055.

He was fifteen years ahead of everyone else.

It worked. The machine worked.

He could not believe it. He looked around and there was nothing. He could only see sand; no buildings anywhere. The sky was red and dark clouds covered some parts of the sky. He walked for a few meters and looked around.

He was in the future.

He heard a squeaky noise. He turned to the right and two mice rushed across his feet. He watched as they raced and entered into a hole nearby. He went closer to the hole and a cold gust of wind blew towards him, scooping sand on its path. He watched as the wind scooped more and more sand and was headed directly towards him. He covered his nose and eyes as the dust blew past him. He felt the strong wind blow past him. The sand particles brushed against his aluminum suit.

The wind blew past him and it was calm.

He uncovered his eyes and nose, coughed as the surrounding was still covered in dust.

Then he saw a concrete pillar a few meters from him. He got up and steadily walked towards the pillar. He reached the pillar, which was one meter tall. He looked down the pillar and it was surrounded by a hard surface. He stepped on it and it was concrete. He knelt down to have a closer look and saw some writings on the surface. He blew on it to remove the sand which was above the surface. At the top were the initials ‘RIP’

It was a grave.

He kept reading the writings keenly, wanting to see whose it was. He looked at the writings in disbelief. The description of the person on the grave seemed familiar. Unusually familiar. He read the name of the deceased, which left him in shock.

“A great scientist. A good husband and father. A great friend and workmate. Gone but not forgotten. Rest in Peace. Dr. John Mathews. Sunrise: 12th December 2000. Sunset: 16th October 2045. “

It was his grave.

His own grave he was standing on top of.

He was left in a state of confusion. His mind processed the information but the end result was just blank. It hit him that he was to live for only nine more years. On the left side of his grave was also another concrete surface with writings. He faced it and blew the dust away from the writings. And he read the words which were artistically engraved.

“A good artist. A wife. A beloved wife and workmate. Rest In eternal peace. Mrs. Jane Mathews.”

It was his wife.

Jane.

He was more confused than before.

His mind went blank. He looked next to his wife’s grave and there were three more similar concrete surfaces.

“Oh No,” He said as he concluded even before he went and read them.

He fearfully walked towards them and they were smaller than his and his wife’s engravings. He blew the dust away from them and quickly read them all one after the other.

His body fell weak as his worst assumptions were a reality.

It was his children. Three of them. Laid to rest next to him and Jane.

His whole body was weak.

It was his family.

His entire family was no more.

The time machine made a loud beep. Time was up. He got up, dusted his suit, while his mind was filled with endless unanswered questions. He looked at the graves one last time and walked towards the machine. He glanced back at them once more as he got in the time machine. He closed the door, wore the helmet and pressed the green button next to him. He could not unsee or unthink what he had just seen.

The machine began vibrating, making his eyesight blurry. He looked through the glass door and saw the pillar which was on his grave become dimmer and dimmer. The vibrations continued and he could feel his body become numb.

A bright light flashed through his eyes and everything went dark.

Total darkness.

. . .

“He’s back! He’s back!”

John lazily opened his eyes as he slowly lifted his head. He blinked continuously as he looked around. He was white walls and a group of people running towards him.

He was back. To the present.

The door opened and his colleagues removed the helmet form his head and carried him out of the machine. His wife rushed to his side and wiped his face with her handkerchief.

“Are you ok honey? You look sick?” She asked as she helped his colleagues remove the aluminum suit from him.

“It looks dusty Dr,” one of his colleagues said as he looked at it.

“Welcome back Dr. John. We can now say that you are the first man to time travel. Congratulations” The President spoke as other officers and government officials applauded him.

“Th…Th…Thank you Sir,” John replied as he sat down.

His wife gave him a bottle of water and he gulped it within seconds.

“You made it back. Oh my God,” Jane was overexcited as she hugged him.

“How is our future babe? How many children do we have? Did we become millionaires? Did we grow old together and retire in a remote island, just you and me?

Tell me babe. Tell me everything.

I know our future is bright right. Right babe.”

Jane could not hold her excitement of knowing the future.

John looked at her. What he saw flashed through his eyes as he looked at Jane. He thought of whether to tell her or not.

She was his wife after all. There were no secrets between them. John looked at her and smiled.

He loved her so much. She was the love of her life.

The thought of the graves flashed through his mind. He took a deep breath and spoke.

“Our future…. Our future…..

Our future is amazing babe.”

He said as he gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“I knew it!” She said as she beamed with excitement. “I knew we were going to be very successful, have beautiful babies and live long. I love you so much,” she said as she hugged him tightly.

She loved him. And he loved her.

Their future was bright.

Brighter than ever.

………

THE END

The Twins

dead-walking-1243762

“We are gathered here to celebrate a life well lived of my brother, Mr. James. His sun rose on August 24th 1985 and set on the 30th of June 2019. His life on Earth was full of up and downs, to say the least. But this did not stop him. He went from a young farmer in the sloppy hills of our region to one of the richest men in the country. He has helped thousands of people all over the country with the great position and wealth given to him by the Almighty. Everything he did was for the benefit of the community. We are all angry and bitter about what happened to him. I am personally very angry about his sudden and shocking death. He was my brother and I loved him so much. I cannot even imagine his last moments as he watched the watched the horror unfold in his eyes. This is just…just disheartening…I…I…” He stopped talking and looked down.

He could not hold back his tears. Not anymore after this short speech that filled the compound with tears and deep emotions.

His brother was gone. Taken from the world. Gone forever. And that was something he was going to live with until the last of his days. The whole family was there. Plus James’ friends and business associates. The large compound which was surrounded by a 6 foot wall was filled with people: for the first time since the house was constructed. The large mansion stood at the end of the compound: a one of its kind in the rural area.

A few meters next to the main entrance of the mansion, he lay there. A golden coffin, shinning in the midday sun, filled with flowers from end to end. The coffin was placed on a metallic stand, complete with beautiful decorations from the top to bottom. It was placed there so that all could see.

The dress code was of course black. All black from head to toe. People were seated on black plastic chairs. Black glasses of water. Black. Black. Black. Black was everywhere.

And so was the mood of the day. Black.

Everyone who knew Mr. James was there. From his huge number of business associates all the way to his family members. After all, he was the wealthiest individuals in the region, so who wouldn’t come to his final day above the ground? People were seated on the neatly arranged plastic chairs, each one of them holding the eulogy of the departed. A black, 200 pages book containing his history from sunrise to sunset. Indeed he had lived a long adventurous life: one of a kind. Seated at the front row of the plastic chairs were James’ family. His beautiful, young wife Cynthia and two children, Mercy and Faith: two gorgeous twins. His princesses as he used to call them. They were seated together with Cynthia between the twins, holding them tightly while trying as much as possible to prevent them from seeing her cry.

“What’s wrong mommy?” One of them asked in a sweet, soft voice.

“Don’t worry baby. Everything is going to be all right.”

“You told me daddy is asleep in that wooden thing over there. Why hasn’t he woken up?”

“Yes, baby. Daddy is just sleeping. Don’t worry. Now take my phone and play your favorite game.”

She took out her phone and gave it to them. She watched them as they giggled while pressing the phone. She felt sad for them. Her included. She knew that when they were older they would be able to understand the inevitable concept of death.

But for now let them enjoy Candy Crush.

For Now.

On the far right end of the first row, she sat quietly, staring blankly at the golden coffin. She had not uttered a single word since she was told of her son’s untimely death. She wore a black hat that covered a considerate proportion of her upper face. The outfit was completed with a black gown that went all the way to her black leather boots. She took out her black handkerchief from her black purse and lightly wiped away a drop of tear that escaped from her right eye after being held captive for too long. She wiped the tear and neatly returned the handkerchief to her purse. She looked at the coffin. Keenly. As though it would magically open and her son would get up and do whatever dead people do when they resurrect.

But it was not going to happen. Not for a very long time.

She looked towards the left side and saw Cynthia. Next to her were the twins playfully laughing while playing their favorite game. She looked at her for a while. Hoping that she will turn and face her side. Cynthia looked towards the right and saw James’ mother staring directly at her. Her deep blue eyes locked onto her brown watery eyes. The look was of both grief and loathe. Her eyes were hot steel and she was solid ice: smoothly piercing her from the outside on the most brutal way unimaginable.

She looked at her. She looked back. A fierce battle of gaze exchange.

But this was not something Cynthia had wanted.

Overwhelmed, Cynthia looked away from the mother and faced her daughters’ direction and pretended to play with them. James’ mother still gazed at her for some time before looking down, bursting into tears.

“Look mommy, grandma is crying” one of the twins said as she pointed towards her.

“Yeah why is she crying?” The other twin asked their mother. They got up energetically and ran towards their grandmother while smiling.

“No…No…No… Come back here… Don’t disturb your grandm…” Before she could even finish her sentence and think of getting up, the twins were hovering all over their grandmother. They ran towards her, as she quickly wiped her tears with her gloved hands.

“Hey grandma why are you crying…”

“I…I…I…

Dust blew in my eye that is why…” She stammered as the twins sat next to her, with smiles all over their faces.

If only they knew.

“Why don’t you go and play with your uncle…” Their grandma said as she pointed towards him.

“Ok,” They said as they quickly ran towards him. He was seated a few meters next to her, not uttering a word since he broke down into tears a while ago while giving his speech. He sat there, eyed fixed to the coffin. The twins came at him with all their little energetic selves. But he was totally unbothered. The twins were running around him but he did not move a single muscle. A man in deep thought. Wondering why did his beloved brother meet his end in the most horrible way.

Nobody knew. And no one would ever know.

The front row seats were occupied by James’ family, with the far sides sat by two sworn mortal enemies: his mother and his wife. It was clear that the only thing which prevented them from attacking and wreaking havoc to each other were the two young beautiful twins whom they both loved dearly. They were the family’s weakness: the unseen bond of love that held the family intact. The other seats were occupied by his uncles, nephews and all his close family members. The other seats behind were occupied by his huge number of friends he has gathered throughout his life. And the diversity was unmatched. The compound was filled with people from all corners of the globe. His ‘global family’ as he was fond of calling them. It was a sight to behold how an individual from one of the most rural areas in the country could amass such wealth and friendships from all over the world.

Such a wonder.

The clock was ticking 3 in the afternoon. The day that once began as cloudy and dull began to change as the clouds drifted away, leaving the sun to bless the planet with its light. People were finishing their lunch, which was prepared by hired chefs who came all the way from the capital. They has prepared a wonderful three course meal which everyone enjoyed before commencing with the main activity of the day.

“I’m so sorry for you loss,” an elderly man came to Cynthia and comforted her. She looked at him and immediately recognized him. It was Eliud, one of James’ closest and most trusted friend. He was a good family friend. Cynthia got up and gave him one huge hug while crying. He hugged her back while comforting her.

“Don’t worry. We are with you until the end,” He said as he helped her sit down. He proceeded to greet James’ mother who was also delighted to see him.

“Just sit here, with us. You are family remember,” she said as she offered a seat next to her. He gladly accepted and sat next to her.

In some few minutes, the murmuring was over and everyone was seated calmly. The pastor woke up from his seat and went and stood next to the coffin. He was scheduled to deliver a summon before the body was laid to rest. This was going to be his second sermon of the day. A wooden pulpit was neatly prepared next to him. He made two loud coughs and everyone was dead silent. All eyes were on him. He looked at the coffin once again and began preaching. On this day, he did not wear the usual white garment: this time it was all different. He wore black; from head to toe, complete with a black cross dangling from his chest.

“We are gathered here to commemorate the life of the late James, whose life was ended abruptly by some enemies of progress in this country. We all know he was a great man. What he has done for the community will make him keep receiving blessings even after his death. Whoever killed him will not have peace for the rest of his days. He will pay for what he has done to our beloved brother. Malipo ni hapa hapa duniani.

Everyone nodded rhythmically as the pastor continued with his bitter summon. He narrated how he had known the deceased since he was a little boy and how they would go to the river and fetch water. He gave detailed description of how they were raised together in the same community and how his death was shocking to him.

Shocking to all of us as a matter of fact.

Everyone listened to him as he emphasized the need for unity during these trying times. James’ mother and his wife Cynthia looked at each other once more. Eyes of fire. And then they looked away.

The pastor noticed the tense moment but simply continued preaching.

His preaching lasted several hours as each and every family member stood in front of everybody and say whatever crosses his or her mind about the departed. First was James’ mother, who had wrote an emotional tribute for his son. He had personally penned it down for him the previous night. She got up, her knees weak from the grief; her son rushed towards her and helped her walk straight next to her other son’s coffin. She opened her purse and took out a piece of paper with writings on it. A microphone was quickly given to her. She held it, her hands visibly shaking. And then she began reading from the paper.

“…Rest in peace my son,” she finished reading five minutes later. She tried as much as possible to hold herself together. She was escorted back to her seat. James’ wife followed next with her emotional tribute to her husband. She held her two daughters with each hand. Both of them were smiling and waving at the congregation as they looked at their mother while giggling.

If only they knew.

She completed her tribute and proceeded to sit down, bursting into tears. She had lost the hang of it. Next were the friends and associates of the deceased who poured out their hearts to the departed. Soon, all those who felt they had something to say had spoken out.

The pastor gave the signal for the commencement of the next schedule.

The coffin was brought next to him. He removed the beautifully arranged flowers on top of the coffin and carefully placed them on a table. On the right side of the coffin, there was a blue button. He carefully pressed the button and the top part began to open up.

It was time to view the body.

The first ones to view were the family of course. James’ mother was first in line. She slowly got up and walked towards the half-opened coffin. She reached where the coffin was and saw him: lying there: unable to move a single muscle. His son who was a source of life and love for the family was no more. Forever silent in these four wooden walls. She gave her son one last look while leaning towards him. He gave his cold cheek a kiss, looked at him one final time and went towards her seat.

Next was his wife.

She slowly walked towards the coffin, with her two daughters closely following behind her. She had never seen her husband after his shooting. She was nervous. More nervous than ever. She walked towards the coffin while the pastor let out his hand to move her closer. She stopped next to the coffin and looked inside.

He lay there. Dressed in a shiny blue suit: his favorite color.

She looked at him. His face. And neck. He was the same person he once knew. Except for two things. His neck had a large gaping hole next to the throat. It was visible from far. It was covered with a white cotton cloth tied around his neck. On top of his right eye was another hole, which was covered with a cotton cloth as well. They were both bullet wounds inflicted by his killer. Or killers. His face was still intact despite the physical injuries. She looked at him while crying.

“Hey mommy, can we see daddy?” One of the daughters asked her.

“Umm…Umm… you’ll see him next time honey,” she told her as she could not begin to imagine the children’s reaction when they see him like that.

“Is father waking up?” They asked while shaking her black dress.

The kind of questions children ask. They will leave you speechless because you don’t know the most accurate way to answer without revealing the whole truth to them.

“Yes, he will wake up. One day,” she answered them as she glanced at James one last time.

“Ok now, let’s go and sit down. No more questions,” Cynthia said as she led the twins to where they were seated. She went and sat down, the image of her dead husband’s disfigured structure still clear in her mind. She wondered who would do such a thing to someone who was loved by literally everybody in the community.

But that will remain a secret between James and the Lord.

One after the other, people lined up in long queues to view James’ body before he is laid to rest: final respects for the departed. The queue curved as people were eager to see him one last time.

“They are going to disturb daddy while he is taking his nap!” Yelled one of her daughters as she pointed at the coffin. Cynthia held her closely while bursting into tears.

“Poor child. She doesn’t know, does she?” One of the mourners murmured while they went to have a glance at James.

Few hours later, everyone had paid their last personal respects to him and it was now time for the final event. People returned to their seats as the pastor began his last sermon for the day. The last one for James.

He uttered a short prayer and told everyone to stand up and head towards the far end of the compound. Where the grave had been dug. His final destination.

Slowly, people rose from their seats and went to the gravesite.

“Let’s go now girls,” Cynthia said to her daughters as she began walking towards the grave.

She reached there and saw the six-foot rectangular hole. The depth only made her dizzy. She held her daughters tightly as the pastor stood next to her, holding the Bible in his chest with one hand.

“From dust you are and dust you shall return.” The pastor said the famous lines as he prayed painting the grave. The coffin was carefully placed on the lever and as the pastor finished reciting the Lord’s Prayer, the coffin was slowly and carefully laid down. People were crying and screaming as his body went into the grave. The coffin was lowered and it finally landed on the ground and stopped.

It was six feet under.

Cynthia reached for the pile of sand next to her and grabbed a handful of sand. He gave some to the twins and they went closer to the grave. She lifted her hand towards the coffin and released the sand, which fell on the bouquet of roses placed on the coffin. The twins followed her steps and poured sand on the coffin.

“What are we doing mommy?” One of them asked.

“This will help daddy wake up,” she answered back while smiling at them. They looked at each other while giggling. James’ mother did the same, followed by his brother, and the rest of the family followed suit as well.

Five men came with spades and began shoving the sand into the grave. The coffin was soon submerged in sand and the sand was filled to the top. He had now returned to dust.

From dust you are. And dust you shall return.

The burial ceremony was now over. The grave was filled with sand to the brim and a large wooden cross mounted on top of it. The final prayers were uttered.

The sun was now setting, as the wind blew the dust from the grave upwards into the sky. One by one, everyone began leaving the site and heading where they came from. He was now resting in peace. Cynthia, the twins and their grandmother went into the mansion since they were going to spend the night there before heading for the city the following morning.

“Ok girls, let’s eat and then go to sleep. We have a long day tomorrow,” Cynthia said to the twins as she poured food into plates and served them. The five of them; Cynthia, James’ mother, the twins and James’ brother were seated in the mansion’s living room as they quietly ate their food: still in disbelief as to what had happened. Nobody spoke to each other; just slight glances and stares. Everyone had now left the compound, leaving them to their home. They finished eating and the twins were led to their bedrooms.

“No mommy, I don’t wanna sleep alone. I’m scared.”

“Me too”

Cynthia understood. After what they had witnessed today, whether they had an idea or no idea at all, they hesitated to sleep alone.

“Ok then, you’ll sleep in my bed tonight. We will sleep together. How about that,” she told them and they all nodded in agreement. She led them to the master bedroom in which James and Cynthia used to sleep. She tucked them into their bed and told them goodnight.

“Let me go back and talk to grandma and uncle. I’ll be back in a few.” She said as she left the bedroom.

The three of them were now seated together. Looking at each other suspiciously.

“Ok now let’s talk about it. What happened to my brother,” James’ brother talked while staring at Cynthia. They both stared at her fiercely.

“Wait. You think I would kill my husband! Are you insane! I would never do that.”

“No one has said you killed him. Have we son?” James’ mother spoke while looking at her son.

“Nope,” He responded.

Cynthia looked at them shocked. For them to think that was unimaginable.

“We all know you hated your brother, maybe you tell us. And don’t you ever tell me that I did this to him.” Cynthia shouted to James’ brother.

He stood up furiously.

James’ mother stood up as well.

So did Cynthia.

The leather sofa sets had proven to be unsitable.

They all stood up looking at each other bitterly.

“The true killer is out there and we are busy fighting amongst ourselves instead of probing an investigation to the police. If James were here what would he have said if he saw us fighting?”

Everyone was quiet. Cynthia left the living room and went into her bedroom. She banged the door furiously behind her and jumped into her bed. Her two daughters were asleep next to her. She wept uncontrollably as she looked at her late husband’s photo which hung on the wall. She heard James’ brother and mother faintly murmuring in the living room before they each went to sleep in the other two large bedrooms. The whole mansion was quiet once again, except for the loud rumbling of thunder from afar. Moments later, it started raining. Heavily.

She tucked herself into her bed, said a short prayer and closed her eyes; which were still watery. She could not believe what she was being accused of. Of all things.

She slowly drifted into sleep.

……

She was woken up by a loud scream.

She opened her eyes and sat on the edge of the bed, blinking heavily. She brushed her eyes with her hands and lazily wore her slippers.

“I heard a scream mommy, who was that?” Her daughter spoke as she opened her eyes.

“Stay on the bed. Don’t move,” She told them as she got up and went out of the bedroom into the living room. She switched on the lights and saw the doors and windows were wide open. Cold wind blew across her, swaying her night dress. Lightning flashed outside, making the heavy rain visible. The trees in the compound were dangerously swaying as lightning kept on flashing. She looked on the floor and saw what appeared to be mud stains. A trail of mud stains went from the door into the bedrooms.

Another loud scream was heard.

This time she confirmed it was coming from the where James’ mother’s bedroom.

“What is it?” Asked the brother as he came out of his bedroom.

She pointed at the mud stains which led to her bedroom. They were surprised as they both rushed into the room.

She was standing at the corner of her bedroom, with hands on her head.

“What is it mother,” she was asked by her son.

She looked at him and opened her eyes wide.

She then pointed towards the other end of the room.

They turned their heads and saw what she was pointing at.

Cynthia made a loud scream as she moved backwards, her hands on her mouth. She made another scream. And another. And another. She heavily blinked, and then opened her eyes. It was true what she was seeing.

The brother just stood there, immobile. He moved his head forward to ascertain what he was looking at. He shifted his head sideways and it was indeed real what he was seeing.

He was standing at the corner of his mother’s bedroom. His whole body was covered in mud, which dripped on the floor, leaving behind a trail of dirt. He was not moving, except for his head which was slowly moving from side to side. His eyes were unusually open. On top of his right eye was a huge gaping hole which was wide open and one could see through his head. His neck also had a large gap that made his head slightly inclined towards the left.

It was James.

He looked at his wife. Then at his brother. And then at his mother. They were all shocked beyond normal. He shifted his eyes around the bedroom.

“H…H…How are you here?” His brother asked him while stammering, after gathering the little courage that had not been engulfed by fear and disbelief.

James turned his gaze towards him. Slowly, his right leg began moving. Followed by the left leg.

He was moving towards his brother.

He steadily walked towards him, with mud still dripping from his body. James reached where his brother was standing. His brother felt his horrible stench diving into his nostrils. He smelt strange. Smell of death. He gazed I directly into his eyes, which were pale white without pupils. His mother and wife watched in shock as his brother stood his ground. He looked at his bullet wounds, his blue suit which was now completely covered in mud.

James leaned to his brother’s ear. He opened his mouth and a deep, faint voice could be heard. He whispered for some seconds to his brother and then stopped. He moved away from him, looked straight at him and nodded.

“So that’s who killed you… Oh my God. Why?” James brother said as he could not believe what he was told. He looked at his mother, and sister-in-law in shock.

This changed it all.

He finally knew who killed his brother.

……….

“Hey look, its daddy!”

The twins ran into the bedroom towards James.

“No…No…No…” Before Cynthia could even finish, they were all over him.

“I told you daddy would wake up,” One of them said as she held her father’s hand while smiling.

“You smell funny daddy…. And you are all dirty…..And what you have a hole in your neck.”

James turned his eyes towards them. He knelt down and looked at her daughters.

“Why are your eyes white daddy,” One of them asked as she pointed at him. He looked at them. His daughters. His flesh and blood. His joy.

His two princesses.

He slowly pulled them to his side and gave them a hug. His head was dangling on his neck. But it did not seem to bother him.

“Get away from him girls!”

“Please don’t hurt my babies.”

Cynthia shouted as she waved at her daughters to come to her side.

James placed his arm around them and carried them up. He smiled as the twins enjoyed being carried by their father. The last time they were carried by their father was two weeks ago. When he was alive and well.

He looked at his wife, mother and brother. They looked at him back: shocked and terrified. He looked at his brother and nodded.

“Mommy, aren’t you happy? Daddy came back to us.”

Cynthia was horrified as she watched her daughters giggle in their father’s arms.

“Come grandma,” One of the twins waved at her. She was utterly speechless. Her cross was tightly held in her arms.

The lightning and thunder continued to cause havoc outside. A flash of lightning lit the bedroom, causing the lights to burst, spraying glass across the bedroom. The bright light made everyone cover their eyes. The twins could be heard giggling and their soft sounds slowly began to fade.

The flash of light disappeared and the room was plunged into darkness.

The emergency generator immediately went on and the lights came back on.

Cynthia, the brother and mother slowly opened their eyes. They heavily blinked and slowly looked around. They saw each other. They gazed their eyes towards the bedroom.

They were only the three of them.

James had gone. Disappeared. Vanished.

The twins were nowhere to be seen.

The spot where James was standing was empty. Except for the mud stains and two bracelets on the ground.

The twins’ bracelets.

They looked at each other in confusion.

The rain continued pouring as thunder and lightning fiercely rumbled outside. All windows and doors were wide open and the cold night wind blew across the room, smearing the mud stains across the mansion.

……………………………

Edge Of Glory

lightning-1577896

“… You cannot imagine the level of excitement that is within me.  Finally, after seventy-five years of hard work and determination after acquiring our independence, the people of this country have achieved the first of its kind in Africa. We are so happy to be officially recognize as a first world country. All I can say is that we made it.”

“Thank you Mr. President for coming to the People’s radio station and delivering that amazing speech. Today is indeed a special day for all citizens to celebrate our achievements as a nation. And thank you once more Mr. President for leading us to this great achievement.”

“As I always say it’s my pleasure serving my people. Unity is everything. But this does not mean we should stop there. We have worked so hard to make the nation where it is today. We must continue upholding the nation’s laws to the latter. Thank you once more and God bless Kenya.”

…………

The date of this day was today, 27th October 2038.

The news spread like wildfire. Radio stations, televisions, both local and abroad were focused on our small East African nation. World leaders from the powerful nations, including our beloved President were holding meetings at the State House, which was broadcasted live for the citizens to witness. You could see the excitement everywhere.

“As you can see, the World leaders are greeting our president, a sign of respect for what the nation has accomplished. The United Nations Secretary General is holding some documents, which he is now showing them to the President. They are now heading to a table just opposite them. Live pictures are showing that the papers are actually the acknowledgement that our country has officially been recognized as a first world country. The President is smiling as he signs the papers. Next to sign is the Deputy President. For sure this is indeed a glorious day….”

The Radio presenter continued his accurate descriptions of what was happening in the State House. The public train was full of murmuring and whispers as people were holding their own meetings and debates in the train. For the first time in ten years, public transport systems were allowed to use their speakers to broadcast the events of the day. Thirteen years ago, public transport system used to be a noisy and reckless means of transport in which traffic rules were technically nonexistent. My father used to narrate to me tales of how they used to move from one place to another through small rectangular vehicles, which were known as ‘matatus’. I recalled how I used to laugh at the phrase every time he mentioned it.

“ Mata.. Mata..tu? What kind of a name is that?” I remembered how I used to ask him. He showed me photos and I would laugh hysterically.

“This is what you used to travel with? Damn!”

“Yes, son, those were the good old days when we were still a third world country. The matatus were banned two years before you were born. A lot has changed for the last twenty years. Our discovery of oil has proven to be a blessing from below I guess.”

I recalled the conversations with my father as the train moved slowly through the city center. A snake in the concrete jungle. Electric train systems had been installed throughout the major cities of the country. Roads were often empty since people preferred them for their punctuality and efficiency. There were dozens of train stops in one part of the city alone and they has a reputation of always being on time. I was seated near the window, watching from afar people going about their daily lives. It was a Saturday so of course the streets were empty. The train stopped and two elderly men walked in. One sat through the door while the other slowly walked and sat behind me.

“They must be full of wisdom,” I thought as they looked across the train, observing people busy scrolling through their phones. I watched as one of them pulled out a phone. Not an ordinary phone. I t was a black phone which had a small screen. He keenly looked at it as he began scrolling.

Then I felt a light tap behind me.

“Young man, come sit right next to me.” I looked behind as the old man spoke to me with a wide smile.

“ Oh..ok.”

I rose from my seat and jumped behind.

“Wow, I remember during my days when I was that energetic. I used to participate in high jump races. Those were the good old days. Good heavens! I had forgotten. Please help me check my phone’s date and time. It seems it is incorrect.”

He handed the phone to me: an iPhone 30. The latest smartphone on the market which had been released on December 2037. It was among the transparent version of smartphones which were launched five years ago.

“My son just bought me that phone. I am used to the old ones which you could control with the screen. These transparent ones are quite complicated,” He spoke while laughing. I turned the phone backwards and next to the back camera, which were also transparent, was a round black spot. I pressed the spot and the controller popped out. The controller was a white circular object which looked like a ball bearing. I placed my thumb on to it and it stuck.

“This is the controller. You are supposed to stick it the back of your head, just at the beginning of the neck,” I showed the old man the tiny object on my thumb. He quickly wore his glasses and leaned closer to see it.

“Ooh wow, let me put it then.”

He took it and stuck it at the back of his head.

“It feels quite comfortable, but its electric impulses are annoying,” he said as the turned his neck from side to side.

“Now think of something, like opening the camera.”

“Okay, let me try.”

The phone’s camera opened in an instant.

“Well that’s how it works. You use your mind to control the phone. No need for touching it. Here you go.” I handed the phone to him.

“Thank you so much young man,” He said as I jumped back to my front seat.

The train went on and snaked through various streets. The emptiness of the streets was satisfying to watch. The huge screens on top of the skyscrapers kept repeating the same advertisement over and over: the one thing that got all of us addicted. It had over two million users countrywide and more were joining as its popularity spread across the nation. The internet was filed with thousands of articles about it and how it has corrupted the minds of the young population into participating in behavior and actions that had deadly consequences. Despite the various accusations, its popularity was rapidly growing. The train hooted several times and came to a gradual stop. The city screens continued repeating the same exact advert.  I looked out through the window and saw them. Five of them. My best friends.

My people. My squad.

The “savage seven” as we would call ourselves. I waved at them and they waved back. The train doors opened and people flowed out of the train then others started boarding.

“Oya buda niaje,” James, the loudest member of our group, shouted at the top of his voice as they came and sat next to me. We bumped fists as the train continued with its movement.

“How have you been man, long time no see.”

“I have been fine man, you know the usual stuff. School and such. How about you,” I answered.

“I’m doing fine bro. Just stressed, with Sandra you know.”

“Ooh yeah, I remember you telling us about it. Eti sasa utakua babake mtu. Congrats man,” I said hysterically.  He smiled as he answered.

“Yeah man. I talked to Sandra about it and instead of aborting; we will just have the child. And the funny thing is that none of our parents know. If they find out, I do not know what is going to happen. Or maybe I should tell them when the child is born…”

“Don’t worry man. All will be well. We will support you and Sandra and your son…or daughter?” I assured him.

“We are having a son,” James answered back.

The seven of us were the best of friends. Having grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same primary school, and coincidentally attending the same high school made our bonds stronger and inseparable. We trusted each other ever since, and when they said they would support me, they meant it for sure. We talked and laughed as the train slithered from stop to stop. We were going the last stop which was at the edge of the city. The stop which had a very infamous reputation. We were going to see James’ younger brother who was admitted in a mental hospital for attempting to burn their house down. Before that, he has attempted suicide several times but was luckily saved by curious onlookers. They could not keep up with his behavior and they had no other option but to send him to the mental institution for further treatment.

“Hey guys!!! I have just remembered!” James shouted. Once again.

“Remembered what James,” I responded.

“Have you tried playing E.O.G?”

We all looked confused for a moment.

“Ati EOG? What on earth is that?” We asked James, who began laughing.

“Yani you don’t know EOG? All of you seem to be living under a tree or something. It’s the famous game, Edge of Glory.”

“Oooh, you could have said that earlier. No, I haven’t played it yet. Not even thought about  downloading it.”

“Well what are you all waiting for? The game is really fun. There are even real prizes to be won. And money as well. Pesa buda!”

I took out my phone and googled the game. I had seen its advertisements everywhere but I had never really has a keen interest about it. After all, I had little belief in these games that offered payments. They were all fake, I thought. My friends took out their phones and downloaded the game. I did as well. The game was huge in size. One whole Terabyte! I downloaded it knowing very well my phone would have to suffer the consequences. Within five minutes, I downloaded the game and it took another five minutes for it to install.

Finally, it opened. After another five minutes.

“Please select language..” A deep voice began talking. I chose English.

“Now listen to the instructions carefully,” James said as the rest of my friends’ games opened as well. I took my pair of earphones and fixed them into my ears. The deep voice continued talking.

“Welcome to Edge of Glory. Prepare to be amazed, frightened, entertained and experience all other thing that rush the adrenaline in you. But before we proceed you must allow us to access some of your phones tools as well as your private information…”

I read their terms. I was to allow the game to access all of my phone’s applications, social media profiles, files and all my personal information including my Mpesa and bank accounts.

“So I must allow them to access all of these things? Isn’t that illegal? What if they steal my money man?” I asked James.

“So many questions bro. Just tap allow. Trust me. I have done it too. Me and other several million people who have downloaded the game. So no pressure bro.”

I looked at the rest of my friends and we all agreed to tap the ‘allow’ icon.

After all, it was just a game.

We allowed the game to access all of these demands. Then our phones went dark all of a sudden. I pressed the power button severally but it didn’t switch back on.

“ What is this?”

We complained to James as he looked at us while smiling. “Keep calm, all of you. Do not panic. Give it some time it will switch itself on.”

Five minutes later, all of our phones vibrated and came back on simultaneously. “Welcome Westwood.” The words were shown on the screen, followed by a large smiley emoji. ‘Press here to continue.’ The deep voice spoke and I pressed the said button. They know probably everything about my

“Well you are now officially in the game my people. Now all you do is just follow the instructions and voila! You earn some money! Easy, right?” James said as we all waited for the instruction.

“Hey guys, an instruction just popped up in my screen,” Jack said as we all gathered around him, curious to know what the instructions were.

“Well, read them for us.”

“Ok, it says that I should do a back flip. Then I receive five thousand shillings. It sounds easy to me. Just a back flip.”

“If you can do it press ‘Accept’.”

There were three options. Accept, Deny or Refer a Friend. He quickly pressed accept and the phone’s back camera opened.

“Someone is supposed to record you doing the challenge for them to confirm if you’ve really done it,” James said as he took the camera and faced Jack. “Ok, now stand up and do the back flip.” James stood up and walked towards the space between the train’s seats. James stood in front of him while recording. He looked up and did the back flip, landing on his feet.

The phone beeped for some time and a smiley emoji popped up. ‘Congrats Jack’ the deep voice spoke from the phone.

We were all waiting for the money part of the challenge.

“MERT4356YU Confirmed. You have received 5000 from Edge of Glory…”

The message arrived. We were all left in shock and surprise.

“So it’s real huh. Alright.”

We were all believers after that. 5000 shillings for just performing a back flip.

Real believers.

We began waiting to see who was next. My phone was glued to my hand while staring at the screen, waiting impatiently for a pop up.

“Come on,” I whispered as I looked at my phone.

“Has anybody got a challenge yet?” Peter, one of our friends asked. The answer was of course no.

Then we heard a loud beep.

A huge pop up appeared on my phone.

It was a challenge.

“Hey people, I have a challenge!” I shouted in disbelief as my friends gathered around me.

“Well what does it say? Quick. look?”

I pulled the screen closer to my eyes and read. I read the challenge and looked at my friends in surprise. “What does it say Westwood? Show us?”

I was shocked. Shocked for real this time. Of all challenges I could have done, they chose to pick this one for me. Why me?

The challenge was that I stand at the edge of the T.M Towers for 20 seconds. With one leg up.

“Wow, that’s a tricky challenge man.”

“And what is the prize by the way?”

The prize for risking all this was astonishing. “The prize is twenty million shillings.”

My friends wowed in amazement.

“What! Twenty million! That’s a lot of cash man. Just accept the challenge. The next stop leads to the towers.

That’s a lot of money man. Just accept it yo!”

I began thinking about it. Twenty million shillings was a lot of money. That was nothing but the truth. I began consoling my inner mind and soul about it. And I has ten minutes to decide if I was going to accept, deny or refer to a friend.

“You have to choose. The stop to T.M Towers is just some few minutes away.”

My mind was in a dilemma. Deep down I knew I could not do it. I mean honestly, I stand on the edge of the tallest building in East Africa: staring directly towards death. Just because of a game! Bur here comes the other side of the story. The prize. The reason for doing all that risky activity. The chance to be a millionaire in less than a minute. Who wouldn’t want that right?

A golden opportunity. Sent from heaven by the Almighty Himself.

I came to a conclusion and made my choice.

The final choice. And that was it. No going back. Ever. I breathed in, breathed out and spoke to me friends.

“You know what guys, I have made my choice. Whatever happens just know you are the best of friends I have ever met in my entire life.”

“Oh God, you are going to do it, aren’t you?” Peter spoke as I saw excitement beaming from his face.

“You are the man Westwood!”

I smiled and then spoke.

“Actually what I’m going to do is not what you are thinking. I am not going to deny it, but I will instead refer it to a friend. That is my choice.”

My friends’ excitement faded away. They looked at me, and then looked at each other then to me again.

“What! Who are you going to refer to and why? You are letting twenty mil slip away like that.”

“I am referring the challenge to you James. I thought since you are expecting a child, the money might be of greater help to you. And it will also help pay for your brother’s treatment in the hospital.”

I pressed the refer option before James could speak a word. My phone beeped I entered James’ details on the space provided. Immediately, his phone beeped and a smiley emoji popped up followed by the deep voice.

“Hello James, challenge 563 has been referred to you by Westwood. Please select your choice.”

“The choice is yours man. Accept or deny.” I told him.

He looked at his phone and murmured for a while.

“Ok. Screw it, I’ll do it. Happy now.”

A few minutes later, the train came to a slow stop. We had no option but to postpone seeing James’ brother. The seven of us alighted from the train and began walking towards the T.M. Towers.

“You know what, I think you are right. Let me do it for them. But of course well share it amongst ourselves if I win right. How can I forget you six idiots,” James said jokingly as the approached the building. “And by the way, I was told the game was developed by an engineering student in the University of Nairobi. Rumor has it that he had remained anonymous since the game gained popularity. The authorities have been looking and tracing him but they have never caught him. And another rumor is that it is being operated by an artificial intelligence software hidden in a house somewhere in the city.  Who knows?”

We reached the entrance of the building and I looked up. It was so high that the end was covered in the clouds. We walked in the building and a young female sat at the reception office.

“Hello, welcome to T.M Towers, how may I help you?”

“We are here because of this…” James said as he showed the receptionist his phone.”

She looked at us in a frightened look.

“Oh… oh… okay go right ahead. The elevator is on your left,” She stammered as she pointed at the elevator. We headed towards the escalator as I contemplated about her reaction. I looked back at her and saw her phone on her hands pointing it at our direction.

We entered the elevator and pressed the top most floor.

It was floor number 200.

“I hope it works guys. Pray for me,” James said while laughing hysterically. Then he kept quiet. I am sure all of us have that habit of calculating how you would spend money which is not in your pocket or account. We have all done it. At one time in this life, when you are a few hours or days away from gaining a lump-sum of money, you suddenly become an accountant and plan your expenditure to the very last penny.

James was no exception.

Two minutes later, the elevator opened and we were at the top of the building. The wind was strong and cold as it blew across us, drifting my cap into the air. I watched it as it swirled round and went overboard. Dark clouds had formed, and it was uncertain whether it would rain or not.

“This place is really high man.”

We walked towards the end of the building and looked down. It was a long way down. The clouds covered most parts of the building, making it impossible to see the roads and trains beneath us.

“Now which edge is the right edge?” James asked as we looked around the building.

His phone suddenly beeped. He looked at it then the deep voice spoke.

“The edge is on your far right. Get there and perform the challenge.”

We looked to the right and went to where the voice said.

“Are we being watched or something?” I said as looked up and round us to see if there were any drones following us.  We reached there and it was indeed the edge of the building. Except one thing.  The protective barrier was not there. Instead, a long horizontal structure protruded from the edge, like an antennae of some sort, except it was metallic and relatively narrow.

His phone beeped again. The camera opened and it was time.

“Give me the phone, I will record,” I said.

“Okay guys, wish me luck. Its only twenty seconds and we are stinking money!” He shouted as we walked towards the edge. I closely followed him and I stopped as the horizontal structure began getting thinner.

“Na uchunge buda,” I said as he tiptoed towards the edge of the structure. I looked down and the height made my eyesight blurred, as though I had been under the influence. I heavily blinked as I focused on recording him.

Then his phone vibrated. It quickly switched from the camera to the timer.

“It has switched to the timer. Are you ready?” I shouted since he was now far from where I was standing. Slowly, he began lifting his left leg up.

The countdown immediately began.  From twenty seconds downwards.

19….18…17….16…15…

I looked at the phone as the countdown neared fifteen seconds. I looked at James as he maintained balance at the edge of the metallic structure. We cheered him on as I zoomed the camera to let the game see that he was going to make it, if they had any doubts about it.

10…9…8…

The countdown was clocking into the last five seconds.

He was really going to make it. Unbelievable. Twenty million, just like that?

..5…4…3…

I looked at the phone in excitement as the countdown was almost over.  My eyes were wide open in amazement as we cheered him on. James looked at us and burst out into laughter. His unique laughter.

..2…1…0

The countdown was over. He won the challenge.

He won.

The phone vibrated and then a pop up emerged from his screen. “Challenge Won!” It wrote.

“Ha ha ha!! You see guys. It was not that hard. You could have done it Westwood.” He said while laughing.

“If only you weren’t such a co….”

A bright flash of light suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The light blinded my eyes and I heavily blinked. The light was followed by a loud rumbling.

I opened my eyes slowly and looked at James. He was standing still, with his eyes wide open.

“What was that?” Peter asked.

“Lightning bro,” He was answered.

“Is everyone okay?” Jack asked.

I looked at James and he seemed ok. I looked behind me and my friends were all laughing after what happened.

“Hey James, the challenge is over. You can put your leg down now bro!” I said.

He stood still. With eyes wide open looking at me.  He was still.

“Hey something is wrong with James,” I told my friends who came towards me. “Oya James acha ufala,” Jack said as he waved a middle finger towards him. He did not respond and continued staring at us.

A strong wind blew towards us.

We stood there in shock as James slowly began swaying towards one side. My mouth opened wide as he fell off the edge like a cut tree. We watched as he went down towards the ground. The clouds swallowed him and he was no longer visible. We looked down, but the clouds surrounding the building prevented us from seeing the ground. I turned back at my friends, my eyes and mouth wide open, not believing what I had just witnessed. We gazed at each other in shock and confusion, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

His phone beeped. I looked at it and a smiley emoji appeared on the screen. And then it vibrated.

“MWTRO85YT Confirmed. You have received two million from Edge of Glory…” The message was followed by another one of the same exact amount. And another one. And another one. Ten messages came to the phone, each with two million shillings. The total balance was twenty million shillings. We looked at each other, as we saw the balance right before us.  I looked over the edge and James was gone. In his phone there was twenty million shillings.

We knew exactly what to do.

Meanwhile, the lightning flashed once again, followed by the loud rumbling of thunder. This time it struck the lightning arrestor of the next building which was a few meters away.

…….

The Bitten Apple

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“That is all, my Lord.” 

He said as he slowly grabbed his papers and neatly folded them into his black briefcase. He locked it and walked towards where I was seated. He gave me a nod and a faint smile. He placed the briefcase on the table in front of me and took a seat. From his facial expressions, I could see the confidence beaming from him. Despite that, my body could not resist the urge of slightly trembling: because in the next few minutes, my fate in this life was going to be decided. It was a matter of life and death.

Then he coughed two times as he arranged some papers in front of him.

We all looked up towards the bench, where the grey-haired judge was seated. He adjusted his spectacles using his left hand as he placed the papers closer to his eyes. He cleared his throat.

I swallowed a huge gulp of saliva from my mouth as I waited for the final judgment from him. I looked at my lawyer who was seated next to me.

“Don’t worry, we won this case man,” He whispered.

“Order in the court!” The judge spoke at last. The murmurs on the courtroom slowly descended into dead silence. I looked behind me and saw my family: my parents and two siblings who were seated together looking at me with reassuring eyes. My older brother raised his thumb at me and I did the same. That was our greetings sign since we were little.

It’s quite funny how crucial moments like these make one recall all his life within seconds and appreciating the good times while regretting the bad ones. Well that was happening to me at that time.

Some of my close friends from college were present. I nodded at them and they nodded back. I looked at the far end of the courtroom and I was met with deadly stares. Stares from the family of the late Mrs. Morgan. Particularly her husband and her daughter. They stared at me as their faces displayed pure anger and loathe towards me. I then turned and faced the judge, who immediately began speaking.

“After thorough analysis of evidence and hearings both lawyers, the judge finds Mr. Wilson guilty for the murder of Mrs. Morgan on the 12th of October 2018. You are hereby sentenced to ten years in prison and six months community service after the completion of your term.”

“What! No! My son is innocent! He isn’t capable of murder!”

My mother, who was calmly seated suddenly erupted and lashed at the judge. She stood up and was about to charge at him when my father held her by the shoulder.

I stood up shocked and about to burst into tears.

I was going to jail.

“I didn’t do it! I told you it was the man with a black cap! He sold the phone to me! Can’t you understand I’m telling you the truth!” I yelled at the top of my voice as I failed to hold back tears from my eyes. I was both sad and angry. I was about to bear the consequences for an act I had no hand in it.

A quite unfair world indeed.

I looked at my lawyer, who was surprised as well. He rushed towards the judge as he was leaving the premise in attempt to persuade him.

“Please my Lord, grant him bail,” He spoke to the judge.

“There is no bail for murder lawyer Kimani. The evidence was found in his house two days after the murder,” The judge spoke as he headed out of the courtroom via the front door, which was right behind the seat. His face was hopeless. I could not believe that I was going to jail. The courtroom burst into shouts as my friends and family were harshly against my sentencing.

I shifted my eyes at the back of the courtroom where Mrs. Morgan’s family was seated. They were calm. Her husband calmly got up and as he left, he looked at me and showed a wide smile. He held her daughter’s hand as they left the courtroom with their lawyer, who was overjoyed he had won the case.

The courtroom was filled with chaos as my parents came and hugged me tightly. I was in tears. For the first time in centuries. My path in this life was abruptly changed.

All for a crime I did not commit. There was no way I could have a killed a person.

All this was due to one single thing:

A black iPhone X.

That was the root cause led to these series of unfortunate events in my life.

A black, sleek, legendary phone.

The iPhone.

A police officer came to where I was and removed a pair of handcuffs from his pocket. As protocol, if found guilty, one was escorted out of the courtroom in cuffs: like a certified criminal. A societal disgrace. I raised my hands towards the police officer who cuffed them and led me out of the courtroom towards the neatly parked police car. My father wrapped his sweater around my head as we went outside. I could hear the endless snaps of cameras and murmuring, a clear indication that the press were anxiously waiting for the court session to end. I was led into the back of the vehicle and entered the police car. I removed the sweater and my family were seated next to me, with their faces dull and full of sadness.

And all this was caused by the events that happened three months ago.

THREE MONTHS AGO

“Wasee nadai phone maze! Yenye niko nayo imebeat mbaya!”

I said to my friends as we maneuvered our way past the busy crowds of people. It was on a Tuesday, and as it had been our culture since we joined college, Pizza Inn was the order of the day. It was where we looked forward to go to every single Tuesday. We usually arrived a few hours past noon in order to secure ourselves seats before the human traffic began filling the little spaces in the Inn.

“Pizza ya leo ilikua poa!” One of my friends uttered as we left the establishment to go to our respective homes.

We all nodded in agreement, as I caressed my full belly while softly belching. It was indeed delicious. We lazily walked along the pathways as our stories became more and more interesting.

“You should try and get an iPhone bruh,” one of them said as we roared into laughter.

“That’s a good idea man, I’ll get one very soon,” I answered sarcastically as we continued laughing. It was five o’clock in the evening and people were jetting back from their places of work and heading home. We meandered across the streets like slithering snakes dodging people from all directions. We crossed the busy roads and we were heading for the matatu stage.

Then we heard a loud burst.

I trembled as we looked back to see a bus swaying and eventually falling sideways on the road. Its back tire had burst, making it lose balance. People began rushing towards the bus. So did we. We reached where it had rolled. We looked through the broken windows but luckily, no one was injured as far as we could tell. They began moving out of the bus through the upper side until all of them were safe away from the bus. They dusted off their clothes and faces, took their belongings were on their way: as though they had not faced death a few moments later.

“Let’s get out of here guys,” one of my friends said as a tow truck came and towed the bus away. The County government workers immediately began sweeping the road and collecting the shattered parts of the bus. Within a few minutes, it was business as usual. The long, endless traffic started to seamlessly flow past the blocked road and soon, the traffic flow returned to normal.

We continued walking as we talked about how we were going to sit tomorrow since we were going to sit for an exam: one of the hardest.

“Tutaketi tu venye tuko. Mimi mbele, Brayo na John katikati then wewe apo nyuma,” said Peter, one of my friends; the most talkative one among us. “Formation” was what we called it. And it had worked miraculously the previous times. This time was no difference.

Business as usual.

We burst out into laughter as he explained into details the happenings of the next day. The night was slowly crawling in as we neared the stage. The streets lights simultaneously brightened the roads and pathways and soon after, a slight drizzle started pouring on us.

That was when I saw it.

Leaning at the extreme corners of the street was a short tall, slender man wearing a black t-shirt and blue ripped jeans with open shoes. I stared at him and we immediately made eye contact. He then started looking down and towards me repeatedly, clearly signaling me to look down. I shifted my eyes and then saw it.

In his hands was a shiny, golden object, which was clearly seen from far. He waved it with his left hand towards me. A large black cap was hanging from his head with the front part slightly lower than normal.

A master of disguise.

“Hey guys, come check this out,” I signaled my friends who were cluelessly walking in front of me.

“What is it,” they as I pointed the man to them.

“It seems it’s a phone. Let’s go take a look,” Peter said as he led the way.

“Are you sure guys? What if he’s a con and some thief?”

“Don’t worry Brian; just a look won’t kill you, “Peter said as his curiosity heightened above average.

We crossed the busy road and headed to where he was standing. He looked at us while smiling as we approached him. He stood upright, looked both sides and slowly walked towards us. He then shook his head towards the left side, and then entered into a dark alley. We followed him and took a left turn towards the dark alley. The fresh city air suddenly changed into a pale, pungent stench as we approached the alley. The whole path was littered with all sorts of rubbish, making it unpassable.

Niaje wazito,”

He greeted us with a deep, hoarse voice as we fist-bumped each other. We all greeted him, with our minds rather horrified by this encounter. He slowly removed the shiny object and showed it to us.

It was a golden, sleek phone. He handed it to me and I keenly observed it. The bitten apple logo was majestically visible at the back of the phone. It was an iPhone X. The latest one in the market at that time.

“That’s an iPhone bro, one of its kind. There’s only twenty of them in the country,” He said as he switched it on for us.

It was a legitimate phone. Period.

We were expecting to see some funny-looking logo pop out of the screen leading to us bursting into laughter for him taking us as fools: but it did not. The screen lit up in white as the logo faded in and out in some few seconds. My friends gathered around me as I began operating it.

“It’s a real one bro,” Peter said as he took it from my hand. It was indeed sleek. He passed it around my friends who were all eager to have it in their hands.

“How much for the phone,” I asked. I took deep silent breaths as I waited for his reply. There was no way such a phone could cost less than fifty thousand, considering the fact that it was priced at one hundred thousand in the market. He placed his hands on his chin and began rubbing his beard. Then he spoke…

“Well, you know this is an iPhone right?” He said. We knew what he would say next was an unimaginable sum of money which we campus students were in no chance capable of having.  He then cleared his throat and spoke again.

“ Najua nyinyi ni mavijana…So just give me five thousand and the phone is yours.”

Wait. What!

My mind was in shock. We looked at each other in surprise and confusion. We were expecting ten times more than that. It seemed Lady Luck was on our side. Just some few minutes ago we were talking about that phone, now it was about to be mine. Without hesitation or second thought, I dipped my hands into my pocket and came out with some notes. I counted them and they were four thousand five hundred in total.

“I have 4500 man,” I said as I held the cash openly in my palms for him to see. He stared at the money for a while.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to…”

Before Brian could finish speaking, he stretched his hands towards the cash and took it. He handed the phone’s charger to me.

“Goodbye guys. Pleasure doing business,” He said as he fist- bumped all of us again. He smiled at us: a short half-smile to be specific. He wore his black cap and vanished into the streets amongst the busy pedestrians.

And just like that, he was gone.

I now had an iPhone. I looked at it with excitement, as I could not wait to officially use it. I dipped it into my left pocket and we got out of the dark alley. The fresh breath entered our noses and we felt freed and relieved. The horrendous smell was worth it. We boarded a matatu back to our homes and few minutes later, we had arrived.

We soon parted ways with my friends and immediately I got home, I removed my sim card form my previous phone and placed it into the new phone. I switched on and began using it.

No need to waste time.

I began adjusting the phone’s settings to my region’s specifications and language since they were all in French. It must have come from France, I thought. I filled in all my details and signed up. When everything was set, I placed it next to my bed as it charged. I was happy. Not happy, satisfied. Satisfied was the word. It was around 9PM and I began feeling sleepy. Some minutes later, sleep took hold of me and I was dead asleep.

I was woken up by loud knocks on my door.

I opened my eyes confused as I heavily blinked. I looked at the time in my iPhone and it was almost twelve midnight. It must be one of my friends, I thought as the loud knocks persisted .I got up from my bed and removed the charger from the phone, which was fully charged. I lazily walked towards the door and peeped through the window. There were two police cars parked outside and on my doorstep were three suited men continuously knocking on the door.

What are uniformed men doing in my door at this time of the night? I wondered.

“How can I help you?” I asked them as I opened the door.

They stared at me as one of them held the door wide open.

“Where’s your national ID. Can we see it?” One of them spoke as he sternly stared at me. I took out my ID and gave it to them. He took it and keenly looked at it. He then passed it to his colleague who looked at it. They then stared at each other while nodding.

“We’ve got him,” One of them spoke as they looked at me with fiery eyes. I stood there confused.

“Excuse me I…,”

Before I could even finish a sentence, I felt a tight grip on left arm. I found myself pinned to the ground, my stomach on the floor. My hands were placed on my head while on of them began emptying my pockets. My shirt was torn as they brutally frisked me from head to toe.

“He is not armed,” He said as he took some documents from my pockets.

“You are arrested for the murder of Mrs. Morgan and robbery with violence. The phone you stole from her has been tracked to this exact location. We are from the DCI.”

“Wait…What phone?” I asked as I lay in the ground, breathing in the brown dust on the ground. One of the men entered my house and went straight to where my bed was. He took the iPhone from the bedside and came with it outside.

“Here’s Mrs. Morgan’s phone Sir,” He said as he showed it to his colleague. He took it and keenly observed it.

“So you are the one who robs people and leaves them for dead. We have finally caught up with you. We could have ended you right now were it not for the orders from above you worthless piece of s@#t!” He yelled as he pulled me back up from the ground. He removed a pair of handcuffs from his pocket and tightly cuffed my hands.

“This is a misunderstanding…” I yelled as they led me away from my home. I looked around and saw my neighbors’ lights were all on while they were peeping through the windows witnessing the drama unfold. To them, they had been living with a criminal all along.

But not anymore.

I was manhandled into the awaiting police car and it immediately drove off.

To God-knows- where.

Light As A Feather

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A slight wind howls across the room, gently picking up a white, shiny feather from the ground. It is gracefully lifted upwards, making it twist and turn in midair and as the wind grows wilder, the feather’s rotation becomes more haphazard. It is blown across a busy road with matatus and lorries raging in different directions, trying to overtake each other along the narrow, pot-holed road. Their exhaust pipes exhume extraordinary amounts of hot pollutant gases, making the road misty and humid. Our beloved feather is pushed into the road by the smooth afternoon breeze. The sparkling white feather suddenly turns grey and sickly as it enters the chaotic road environment. Its unceremoniously curls into a fluffy circular shape and making it descend towards the road. It rests at one of the lorries’ side mirror, curled and disoriented. The driver blows the horn and it hoots loudly. The vibration lifts the feather from the side mirror and into the air once again. It lands safely on the tarmac road. Relieved to have touched the ground at last, it uncurls itself ready to return to its former glory. Then a fast moving saloon car speeds next to it, drifting it away from the road. It drifts violently and lands into a water puddle. It slowly absorbs water, and gracefully sinks into the roadside water…

“Hey wake up you lazy boy!”

I slowly opened my eyes and blinked heavily. The curtain was wide open, letting in the bright morning sunlight into my dim room. I closed my eyes as I rolled lazily out of the bed.

After all. She was right. Being in high school, the holidays were mainly spent on sleep and loitering the neighborhood like a wild dog. Laziness was the only order of the holiday. Eat. Sleep. S@#t. Repeat.

Until the holidays were over.

But today was a Sunday. And as it was customary since the beginning of time, Sundays were to be spent at church. Nowhere else but church.

And my mother: she was everybody’s alarm. She ensured all of us were awake by 7AM.

And that she knew how to do it pretty well.

Very early in the morning, she would wake us up for the first time: By turning the radio volume to the highest level ever. Then she would play one of her favorite gospel songs of all times which goes something like…

“I’m walking in power…I’m working miracles…

I live a life of favor… I know who I am.”

Probably you have heard of it, if not then you are definitely living under a rock or something. The song would wake up not only us, but the entire neighborhood as well. The vibration of the woofer would send shock-waves across each room of the house, making waking up inevitable. She thought that by doing that, the ‘Sunday mood’ would be magically be activated and we would all be in a jovial mood.

She was terribly wrong.

We just wanted to chill. Nothing more. Nothing less.

But not in this house.

I finally got up, deeply thinking why on earth could I be dreaming about a feather drifting in the wind? As the rest of the dreams before, I ignored it and life went on. However, the rest of the dreams were something relatable. This was something else. A feather. My whole night was spent dreaming about a feather.

How strange. A feather.

“Hurry up people! We’ll be late for church…Chop chop,” She shouted as she kept dancing to her favorite gospel song. We got out of the bedroom and went into the living room, where she had prepared breakfast “ages ago” as she termed it, trying as much as possible our justify our laziness.

Of which it was true. Partially true.

We ate the breakfast, which was as heavy as it was supposed to be since it was meant to provide comfort to our stomachs for the better part of the day. As usual, our mother would normally go for the longest service, which would finish late in the afternoon.it was her tradition since she was a girl I guess. She was a very active member of the church, being a member of the women’s choir, a top member of the church committee.

And us. Well, we were just there. Tulikua tuko tu.

We tagged along with her and got back home immediately the service was over, leaving her with her fellow committee members. We had more important issues to attend to, or so we thought. A certain program called “Believe it or not” which used to air in one of the local stations. The way that TV show hooked us was unbelievable. We had not missed a single episode of it since it started airing. And missing it was not an option for us. Being young, dumb and broke meant less responsibilities and more free and idle time.

The best of times in this world.

In a short while, we were done and ready to head for church. There we were, clean and shiny. As a custom, we held our hands together, formed a small circle, and took a short prayer. She did that every single Sunday. After the short prayer, we headed for the matatu stage. The dusty stage was always packed with people on Sundays. People going to enjoy themselves at the beach since that was the main destination for everyone on Sundays. We stood under the scorching sign, looking in either direction for a sign of a matatu. Then a loud-hooting matatu drifted across the road and screeched next to us. It was empty. Its wide doors were opened and the scramble began. Lucky for us, we were just inches away from the door, so we quickly jumped onto the front and secured our seats. We began watching how people scrambled to save themselves one of the remaining eleven seats on the matatu. I sat next to the window, my younger sister sat beside me and my mother at the extreme end of the front seats. There were three seats at the front row and were occupied by us.

Nipishe wewe!”

An angry woman yelled as she squeezed herself between two older men whose obese bodies blocked the entire door making others unable to board the vehicle. On one hand, she was holding a yellow purse while on the other hand, she held a large white hen. Its feet were tied with a sisal rope while the woman’s wide hands tightly held its wings. It flapped its wings haphazardly as the woman slithered past the two men and got herself a seat behind us. I turned and looked at her as she sat down, with her face filled with sweat. She opened the window in a bid to let in fresh air to cool her of the hot temperatures in the vehicle. The hen flapped its wings uncontrollably, releasing a bunch of feathers into the air. The feathers drifted out of the matatu through the open window and landed softly on the tarmac road.

Then we heard a loud hoot.

A large, blue trailer drove past us while its deafening hooting filled our ears. It left behind a trail of dust floating next to the road. I placed a handkerchief on my nose as the dust blew into the matatu, making the rest of the passengers descend into uncontrollable coughs and sneezes. After a while, the dust was blown away by the wind and the air became fresh as before. I removed the handkerchief from my nose and took deep fresh breaths. The matatu was now full and ready to depart. I looked out of the window and saw the feathers drifting away from the road and landing into a muddy puddle.

“Hey bro, there’s something in your hair,” my younger sister said as she pointed at my head. I placed my fingers in my hair and I felt something smooth entangled in my hair. I plucked it out, only to see that it was one of the hen’s feathers. It was white and curly.

I threw it out through the window and the wind blew it away to God-knows-where. The matatu was skillfully maneuvering through the Sunday traffic as we neared the church.

It was 11:00 PM. After a hectic public transport ordeal and a bunch of chicken feathers later, we finally arrived at the church. A usual it was packed to the brim. It was one of the largest churches in our County and the most celebrated one, courtesy of one Pastor Michael. Legend has it that he single-handedly built the church from scratch a decade ago to what it is today. Our mother constantly told us his epic story and how patience and perseverance were the keys to success. It was a large church, circular in shape: built similar to the Roman architecture. Outside the church, people were waiting in lines to enter into the church. Some were singing, others were praying, some hawkers were busy selling cold water to cool down the hot temperatures of the Coastal region.

But not for us. We smoothly entered into the church and sat where we had been sitting for years: the first row of the church, next to the pulpit. We took a seat and when the clock hit 11.30, the service began.

As it was customary, it began with a ten-minute long opening prayer. This was where one of the junior pastors led the church with a word of prayer. Then it was followed by a hymn song: which was proudly led by our mother who enjoyed every single bit of it. Her voice echoed throughout the church as she sang the first line of every paragraph as the whole congregation followed her rhythmically.

After the hymn was over, it was time for the main preaching to commence. Minutes before the hymn ended, Pastor Michael arrived: with an entourage of course. I watched as he entered from the front door at the pulpit. His blue suit brightly shone as he elegantly walked towards his chair; a large black chair placed at the center of the pulpit. It was engraved with biblical words from the top to the bottom and its handles were furnished with the golden color.

It was an Iron Throne. But a biblical one.

He gracefully sat on his chair as the church roared with celebratory shouts and applause. His entourage were all wearing white suits and neatly sat behind the pastor. He looked around the church, which was filled to the very last seat. I could see his wide smile: a symbol of pure pride and satisfaction by the work of his hands. He waved his right hand at us and everyone went wild. Wild with praises and shouts. He signaled the crowd to calm down and their shouts gradually reduced. They proceeded with the hymn singing, with their motivation elevated to extraordinary levels by the Pastor.

The hymn was over. One of the Pastor’s entourage members stood up and took the microphone.

“Praise the Lord!” He shouted with his highest voice while clenching his left hand into a fist and raising it up, shaking it vigorously in the air.

“Ameeeennn!”

The congregation responded in unison as they cheered and clapped.

“Are you ready for the servant of the Lord to preach to you?” He asked.

“Yees…Yeees!” The church answered back filled with joy and anticipation.

“I said are you ready?”

The yells and noise doubled in amplitude. There was non-stop noise for some seconds.

Then he woke up.

He grabbed the chair’s handles by both hands and lifted himself up. He touched his tie and moved it slightly downwards.

The church cheered wildly.

A microphone was quickly brought to him as the one who was introducing him went to his seat.

He took the microphone, said a quick thank you to the young man who brought him the microphone. He cleared his throat and walked to the middle of the pulpit.

“Praise the Lord church!” He spoke. His deep voice reverberated across the church, making us feel the vibrations of his voice box.

A heavenly voice.

The voice of God.

He cleared his throat once again. Then he spoke.

“How many of you here would like to go to heaven?” He asked.

Everyone’s hands were up. I looked around and saw thousands of hands raised in the air. I raised both of my hands up and shouted a big Yes.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to heaven, right? The land of milk and honey and golden mansions.

Who wouldn’t?

Everyone’s hands was up. Up in the air.

The he looked around once again. He nodded his head as he smiled, displaying his array of neatly arranged teeth. He then placed the microphone next to his mouth and spoke.

“All of you want to go to heaven. That’s good. Very good. Even I want to go to heaven. I don’t want to be left out.”

We all laughed hysterically.

“I have another question. How many of you want to die?”

The whole church was silence. The silence you experience when you pass by a graveyard. Except for the chirping of birds who flew around the church. They had even built a nest at the extreme corner of the church.

The silence lasted for some minutes as we looked at each other in confusion.

I looked around the church. Not a single hand was up.

Nobody wants to die of course.

He looked around, shaking his head while showing a slight smile.

“So you want to go to heaven but you don’t want to die?”

The crowd began murmuring while dipped his hands into his left pocket.

“I have something for you,” He said as his hand came out of the pocket.

We watched as they slowly slithered into the outside world. He lifted his hand up and he was holding something light. I looked closely and saw it.

He was holding a white feather. A bright white feather.

He lifted it higher for each and every one to see. Then he spoke.

“What I have here is a feather as you can all see. This is a determinant if you will go to heaven or not. I have anointed this feather and I will blow it towards you. If it lands on you, then you get to be the lucky one and you shall go to heaven.”

The congregation was astonished. He lowered his hand next to his mouth. He took a deep breath and blew the feather towards us. We watched closely as the feather twisted and turned in midair. It went up then slowly started descending towards us. It steadily descended, and it came closer towards one of the choir members. They gazed at the feather as it rotated downwards, coming closer and closer to their heads. James was one of the choir members. He watched as it came close to landing on him. He was breathing heavily as the feather came a few inches from his head. He wondered what to do. In his eyes, it was the end of his life. He then took a shallow breath and softly blew the feather away from him. He heaved a sigh of relief as the feather drifted away from him. He smiled as all eyes were on the feather.

It was now coming towards us. It gracefully drifted, rotating and turning while heading to where we were seated. I was directly facing the direction of the feather. It came closer and closer to us. I took deep breaths, anxiously waiting for it to come my way. As it came near me, a cool breeze blew into the church, carrying the feather past me: and towards my sister. The feather rolled and was inches away from my sister’s head. She was shorter than I was so I could clearly see its advancement towards her. I quickly blew it as far away from her as possible.

I do not want her to die; I said to myself as I watched the feather drift away. It was almost landing on one of the clergy members when he quickly blew it away. The feather hovered above the congregation, and each time it landed, it was blown away.

Another cool breeze blew and the feather followed it, this time not towards the congregation’s side, but towards the Pastor’s side.

We all watched as the feather changed its course and headed towards Pastor Michael. He watched it as the feather came directly towards him.

After all, he was our leader. He was to lead by example. There was no way he didn’t want to go to heaven.

The feather came inches next to him. He lowered his arms and closed his eyes. He took slow breaths while uttering some prayers. We watched in astonishment as the feather began to descend towards him. He continued praying as the feather came closer and closer towards him. We watched as the top part of the feather touched his head and stayed in that position for a few seconds, before fully landing on him.

It landed right on top of his bald head.

It landed.

The feather landed on Pastor Michael. We held our breaths and awaited the outcome. Behind him, one of his entourage members quickly got up and ran to where Pastor Michael was standing. She suddenly blew the feather off him and it quickly drifted away.

“I don’t want you to die Pastor,” She said as she held his hand. All this time, his eyes were closed and he was deeply engrossed in prayer. He slowly opened his eyes and looked at her. His eyes were bloody red and veins were protruding from his eyes.

“What have you done my young one,” He spoke at last, while looking at the feather, which was now far away from him.

Everyone including the Pastor watched as the feather floated away. The cool breeze made it sway left and right and it finally landed.

The feather landed on top of a black crow, which was busy eating ants on the church’s floor. The bird made a loud rough noise and it fell down on the floor, shaking vigorously as its eyes turned blood red. We watched in shock as it trembled for some seconds then it lay still on the ground, its legs up in the air and its mouth wide open.

The ants it was feeding on began coming out of its mouth: escape from the jaws of death.

We were mind blown. We all turned our eyes towards the Pastor who was sternly staring at us.

The whole church was dead silent.

I looked back at the dead bird, still unable to believe what just happened.

The feather was lifted by the wind and we watched as it drifted out of the church through the window, heading for the church playground, which was filled with children playing all sorts of games in the hot sun.

Him And Her II

romantic-proposal-1245855PART II

HER

She stood there.

 

 

She just stood there. Her eyes wide open. Not even able to blink.  She was staring at the door. It was a few minutes after he barged out of the common room like an angry bull, leaving her speechless and confused. Her friends came next to her and held her shoulders, thinking she may decide to chase after him.

But she just stood there.

As though she was rooted to the floor.

She had no idea what to do. Continue with the birthday or just walk away. Or chase after him. Or just…She was completely indecisive. She looked around: everyone was holding their smartphones pointing at her, with their flashes a clear indication that photos and videos were being taken for the sole purpose of sharing around the hundreds of University groups on various social sites. She was going to be an internet sensation in the next few hours. And not forgetting the endless comic memes that would accompany her ‘fame’ afterwards. People had even climbed on top of their chairs to witness the drama unfold between them as she boldly said NO to his witiful proposal. Everything was recorded. Every single detail. There was endless murmuring in the common room as people were still reacting and doing their own analysis of the incident. Some were murmuring hurtful words right next to her while laughing hysterically. She looked at them, hearing everything that they were saying, and just looked away, hiding the bitterness in her eyes.

Because there was nothing she could do about it.

 

A cold breeze coming from the open door blew straight to her and she slightly regained some sense of the matter. She blinked for a few seconds and looked at her two closest friends who were standing next to her: as they always did. They held each of her hand and led her away from the door towards the front where they were seating. She walked towards her seat, with her friends by her side and she slowly sat as they sat with her. She placed her hands on her knees as she lay her head between the palms of her hands. Some of the people who were standing slowly began sitting as they saw her sit, while others roamed around the hall bursting out laughter as they showed each other the videos and photos each of them took. She heard her voice coming from one of the phones behind her.

“I’m sorry but no…”

She heard her voice playing followed a by a loud laughter from the back. Her emotions wildened as she recalled those words, which she uttered to him a few moments ago. She remembered the very exact words and both of their reactions.

“Let’s just cut the cake and get this over with,” one of her friends said as she stood up and grabbed the knife. The birthday girl was seated at the front of the room the whole time. She stood up and went beside the table where the cake was neatly placed, still in the box.

She watched as the cake was being cut. The” Happy birthday “song started being sung as the birthday girl held the knife gracefully as she sliced the chocolate cake into eight pieces. A Bluetooth speaker was brought on the table and music was played in a bid to eliminate the weary mood that was hovering around the room.

“Hey, get up! Let’s dance!” Her friends said as they stretched their hands towards her. She rolled her eyes in frustration as she stretched her hands as well. She lazily got up, as her friend led her at the center of the room. Her friends swayed her hands side to side in an attempt to make her dance but it was futile.

Then she heard it.

Don’t go am kujaiiiinnnggg…..

Tonight we are dunda…dundaiiinngg!!!”

Her favorite song started playing from the Bluetooth speaker. Her friends were still holding her hands while waving them aimlessly. She closed her eyes and she felt the happenings of that day slowly fading as her favorite song was reaching its climax. She felt relieved: almost as though nothing had happened. Her mind wandered away to the beat of her favorite song. She slowly started moving her waist rhythmically. She swayed sideways and went downwards, rotated back and forth as her friends watched in amazement.

“Now that’s more like it!” One of them said as they joined her in dancing her unique moves.

She felt relieved.

As if nothing had happened at all.

They danced their hearts out and soon one hour has passed by. People had begun exiting the premises and so they had to as well. The cake had been viciously attacked by those in attendance to the point where even the box was not spared by their brutality. But lucky for them, they had an extra cake safely stored in her room. They collected the rubbish that had been left behind by the party-goers, leaving the place just as they had found it: neat and clean.

She was happy.

The memory of that day had faded into history. She kept convincing herself that she had made the right choice. There was one memory that made her giggle: the one that he went on his knees. She remembered how that made her surprised making her speechless. She actually thought he was going to give her a ring or something. She giggled as she left the room with her friends. They went down the stairs towards the hostel’s exit.

“Hey miss! A moment please,” shouted the housekeeper as she rushed towards them. They stopped walking and the housekeeper stood next to them.

“Sorry to disturb you but I’ve been told you know him,” She said as she reached into her pockets and took out a school ID. She showed it to them.

It was his.

She took it and keenly looked at it on both sides. Indeed, it was his. “Yes, I know the owner of the ID,” she said.

“Well kindly give it to him. He left here in a hurry and I noticed he was angry. Someone must have pissed him off,” the housekeeper said while smiling.

She smiled back. A very fake smile it was. She took the ID and placed it in her pocket. Her two friends were staring at her blankly, confused by what she had just done.

“Have a good day,” said the housekeeper as she went into her office.

They continued walking towards their hostel, which was quite the distance. She began wondering where he might have gone to after displaying the angry rant towards her. It was around six PM and the sky was becoming dark. She felt the cold breeze, once again: this time it was colder than usual. It blew past her, leaving her skin with protruding goosebumps all over her body. She took out her red jumper from her bag and quickly wore it.

It was his jumper actually.

She felt warm.

They had now crossed the first gate out of the hostel they had been and they had and were now heading towards their hostel. They neared the students’ annex center and saw a huge crowd of people gathered at the entrance. “What’s going on here,” they wondered as they approached the crowd. People were murmuring as the sound of the school’s ambulance wailed loudly as the crowd paved way for it to enter.

She reached where the crowd was. With her level of curiosity getting higher, she squeezed herself between the rowdy crowd to reach the front and see for herself what had happened.

“Hey wait up!” Her friends said as they struggled keeping up with her. She was rather slender so it was easier for her to penetrate through the crowd, considering her plumper friends. She finally made it to the front of the crowd. She looked around, hoping to see something astonishing but there seemed to be nothing of interest. “Excuse me, what’s happening here,” she asked the person next to her, who was busy holding her phone upwards towards the wall, with the back flash shining brightly. She looked at the wall.

On top of the wall separating the annex from the lecture halls, he hung there like the way a cheetah hangs its prey on a tree after killing it. His hands were on one side while his feet was on the other side of the wall. There was a large gash on the left side of his head out of which blood flowed, coloring the wall red. She stood there: eyes wide open with her hands on her mouth. “Finally, we have reached you. Next time wait for….” Her friend stopped talking when she saw the body dangling from the wall.

“Oh my God.”

The three of them stood there as they watched the school’s Red Cross team climb up the wall and pull his body down. She took a few steps to where the ambulance was and looked closely.

It was him.

It was truly him.

He lay on the white trolley: lifeless. Unable to utter a single word.

Tears started falling, since she could not believe what she had just seen. The Red Cross team began searching his pockets and took out his wallet. They opened it and neatly placed the contents of the wallet on the ground.

“There seems to be no identification card in the wallet,” said one of them.

She dipped her hands in to her pockets and took out his ID card. She stretched it towards them and they looked at her in amazement.

“I…I…I know him,” she spoke, trying as much as she can to withhold the tears from streaming down her eyes. They took the ID and confirmed. It was indeed him.

“You will have to come with us miss,” one of them said as she was led into the ambulance.

“We’ll also go with as well,” one of her friends, said as they followed her into the ambulance.

The body was neatly put in a huge bag and placed on the ambulance next to where they were seated. She looked at him one more time. Her hands on her still placed on her mouth. She then noticed something odd.

Trapped in his right hand was a piece of paper. She looked closely and it was scribbled some writings on it. She bumped her friends to see the piece of paper.

They all immediately thought that the contents of that paper were the explanation behind his untimely and shocking end.

His reasons why.

Meanwhile, the crowd began showing the birthday videos to the Red Cross team while pointing at her. She sat on the ambulance bench, knowing very well that a long, unpleasant moment in her life was beginning to unfold.

The Drug Addict

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“We’re in this together,” They said. “We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” They said.

…..

 

I hear the sound of ocean waves gracefully swooshing along the seashore in a slow but vigorous manner. The sound continues to duplicate, creating a rhythmic sound, which echoes towards us, mammals of the land. The waves bring with it the breathe of life: A smooth, cold and windy breeze that cools down the extremely humid temperatures. It caresses your skin and removes all the sweat from your body leaving your cool and relaxed. Mother Nature’s cooling system I suppose.

It was midday. At around 1300 East African Time.

The month of February is usually the hottest month of the year. That I can affirm to you with the greatest level of confidence. Walking for a few meters under that treacherous sun will doom you to a period of exhaustion, dehydration and unpleasant odors to the abnormal excretion of sweat from all parts of your body. You then console yourself that one shower would refresh your body and you would return to your normal self. You spend an hour enjoying the cold water trickling down your body as your body cools down like an overheated car engine. You head out of the shower refreshed and ready to face the endless struggles of life. Only for you to begin sweating heavily once more, which leaves you cursing and lamenting on Mother Nature.

But for us, sitting under the coconut tree next to our home did the trick.

There we were, seated in a long bench strategically placed under the tree in such a way that the tree’s long, slender leaves provided the cool shade for all of us. The coconut tree was a rather lucky one. It had escaped being cut for quite a long time despite its fellow trees being unceremoniously chopped down for human capitalist purposes. If only it could speak. The things it had witnessed will remain a mystery to us millennials enjoying its cool shade.

There were six of us. Seated on the long bench. We were the best of friends. Having known each other for more than a decade, we had considered ourselves brothers, much more than friends. But our connection was not solely based on our knowledge of each other from childhood. We had similar interests. Similar hobbies. Similar taste of music.

Similar everything.

Out of all these similarities, one similarity stood out from the rest. A unique comparison only the six of us shared in the whole neighborhood. One that made us be viewed in a totally different perspective by the community.

The six of us were seated there; each one busy with his phone, doing whatever one does with unlimited Telkom bundles. I was the third person to the right. Literally in the middle of the wooden rickety bench. I was glued to my phone concentrating on placing a bet that would secure my account with a few thousand shillings, if all went well that is. I was keenly analyzing the odds, switching form tab to tab of articles and analysis done by various international sports specialist whose predictions were most likely to come true. The level of concentration that was in me, one might think it was a matter of life and death.

Of which it was.

As I was finalizing, placing the bet and leaving the rest to God, the one seated on my left patted my shoulder to capture my attention. I ignored him as he proved to be a distraction as I was “busy”. He tapped my shoulder one more time. I logged out of the betting site and the one seated on my right hand patted my shoulder as well. I placed the phone into my pocket and looked at my friend on the left who was handing it to me. His eyes were bloodshot and sleepy as red veins protruded out of his retina.

“Oy…oy…oya bro..shika sss..ss.sinda..a..aano..o..” He spoke in a slow, stammering manner, evidence of gradual degradation of his cognitive skills. His name was Musa. A long-term friend of mine before I knew my other five friends. He slowly lifted the syringe he had in his hand and pointed I it towards me. I took it from him and pressed the nozzle to release the whatever contents which had remained. I took a piece of paper from my lower pocket and placed it on my laps. I was then passed a cup that was half-full of water by Musa. I opened the piece of paper and in it were the powdery substance we all were addicted to. A white, shiny powdery substance, which had an odor similar to the chemical elements we used to combine during our high school days.

That was what we had in common. We were all drug addicts. Really heavy drug addicts.

I poured the contents of the paper into the cup and it formed a yellowish solution. I used the syringe to stir the contents into a uniform mixture. I stirred slowly and carefully. I had to make sure none of it spilled or went to whatever wastage. A single ounce of that commodity went for two thousand shillings on a good day. If the supply was low, the prices would double or even triple, making it harder for a jobless youth like me to afford. After stirring for a couple of minutes, it turned into a whitish solution, an indication that it had been evenly dissolved in the water. I grabbed the syringe with my right hand and the solution with the other hand. I placed the syringe inside the cup and pulled its nozzle upward, sucking the solution into the syringe. As you all know, syringes are calibrated. I was supposed to inject 30ml of it every day for my normal body functioning. I measured the required amount and then passed the cup to the next person seated on my right.

I looked at him and his state was worse. He was trembling. His hands and feet were shaking uncontrollably. He had gone for two days without his dosage and he was one step closer to mental instability. I rolled the sleeve of my right shirt until it reached the elbow. I took a brown scarf, which I had tied on my forehead. I  clenched my right hand into a fist and tightly tied the scarf on my hand, making my arm veins protrude outwards. I counted the second vein from the elbow which was normally larger than its counterparts. That was where I was supposed to inject the syringe into my body. I placed it on the vein and slowly pushed it inside the vein. It slid in for a few centimeters and knowing it was well placed, I pressed the nozzle downwards with my left thumb, pushing its contents into my vein. I felt a sharp pain as I pressed the nozzle until the last drop was transferred into my body. I removed the syringe from my vein and immediately, the drug took effect. I began breathing heavily and feeling nauseated. I could feel my heart beat increasing its pace and my eyes became blurry. The six of us were used to sitting under that tree which was next to the road. I looked around and saw people looking at us with eyes of pity and disgust. Despite the road being wide open, people resisted passing next to us on fear that we might pounce and rob them of their belongings. School children passed the road while bursting with laughter, pointing at us and imitating our dizziness selves. Then an old man yelled at them, telling them to rush home or we would kidnap them. The kids ran away laughing, as the old man looked at us in a disgusting manner. He clicked and continued walking away. We had gotten so used to the endless mean stares by the public that it did not affect us anymore.

But that was not a good way to live.

I passed the syringe to my friend seated on my right to repeat the same procedure. We had only one syringe, which all six of us used. For the past two years, that single syringe had kept our drug urges satisfied without any malfunction. The syringe was not just given to us on a silver platter. Our desperation led us to break into the local dispensary and steal a packet of syringes. Some of them slipped and fell as we were running for our lives since the security guard heard the commotion and was on our necks. Only one syringe lived to be used by us: and ever since, it has served the six of us up to date.

The drug was finally reaching its peak and I felt my brain become ‘elevated’.

Then a sudden memory flashed before my eyes. The very memory that led to me being in this hopeless state.

The events of a decade ago that completely changed my life. I was in primary school when I received news that both of my parents were involved in a road accident and their lives ended as they were transported to the hospital. That was when my life took a different path from the dreamy, surrealistic path of one day becoming a pilot, doctor or a lawyer. The unbearable trauma connected me to Musa, who introduced me to the drug world. On trying out the drug for the first time, I felt a relaxed sensation and I felt as though nothing had happened. It was an interesting experience.” If this simple dose made me forget my problems for a whole day, then if I used it daily I can get on with my life without feeling traumatized,” I thought as the drug took effect on my body. Musa took me to meet his so-called ‘family’, which were other five users of the drugs who were undergoing or have undergone a fate similar or worse than mine. We immediately became friends as we shared our stories, something that made me realize that my experience was the least tragic compared to theirs.

From that day on, we became the best of friends. We went everywhere together, did everything together. “We’re in this together. We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” one of them said as he patted my shoulder. Those words became our slogan from that day.

But we had a major issue. We grew heavily addicted and we could not survive a single day without injecting ourselves with the drug. And it was quite expensive. We were more focused on getting the drug than having basic needs.

Then another memory flashed before my eyes.

I saw the old man before my eyes. He was looking at me with eyes of disbelief. He could not believe what had just happened. He was on the ground, eyes looking up at what I was holding. There I was: a stone stained with blood on my right hand and his wallet on my left hand. I looked at him with fiery eyes as I clenched the stone tighter. I had just stolen his wallet after a rough confrontation. I hit him with the stone one more time and he lost consciousness. I dropped the stone, looked around to see if anyone was looking. It was dark except for the crescent moon, which dimly lit the sky.

“Come on bro, let’s go!” Musa said as he came to where I was. He looked at the old man on the ground and looked at me. I threw the stone into the nearby bush and we began running. That was my first time to commit crime: with violence.

More memories flashed into my mind as the drug continued its journey throughout my body. Normally when I took the drug, my mind became empty and void. But this time round, memories of all the bad things I had done in the past returned before my eyes.

I felt a tight grip on my left shoulder. The grip became tighter and tighter.

I opened my blurry eyes and looked to my left. It was Musa. His eyes were bulging outward as his grip became tighter. He was still. Then a white substance began coming out of his mouth. Then his nose followed. I looked at him, trying as hard as I can to think what could be wrong.

Then he fell to the ground and started shaking. Shaking vigorously. With his hand tightly gripped on my arm.

My other friends woke up in shock and observed him. One of them came closer to him and peeked into his eyes. We were all shocked, as they had turned from white to green. His shaking continued as he wet his pants.

“We have to go now! He injected the drug to the wrong vein. He will not survive. We must get out of here.”

When he finished uttering those words, everyone ran in different directions. The bench fell on the ground due to the commotion, making dust rise in the air. I stood there for some seconds trying to contemplate what was happening. Musa was my best friend. I looked behind me and all the four of my friends had vanished into unknown locations. I walked a few steps away from him. I looked at him one more time. His shaking was gone. He lay there still, not moving a single muscle. The white substance stopped coming out of his mouth and nose.

He was no more.

I could not begin to imagine what would happen if I was found there lingering next to a dead body. It was almost 4 PM and soon people would be streaming on the road next to the coconut tree.

I took off as fast as I could. Not looking back at all. I had no idea where I was heading. I just kept running. Deep down I recalled the words we told ourselves each and every day for the past decade.

“We’re in this together,” They said. “We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” They said.

They meant nothing.

Nothing at all.

 

Him and Her

 

romantic-proposal-1245855

Part I:

HIM

The day had come. That day when he, with his twenty years of life on this planet, had to do what any male species would do.  He took breaths. Deep breaths first, followed by a few short breaths. It’s called pumping yourself up, for those who have no clue about it. The ancient art of giving yourself psyche when you are about to do something which you have been planning for weeks or months. One way or another, the outcome of this upcoming event would shape your days towards your favor or go totally against your expectations and backfire with epic proportions. It’s one of those moments of uncertainty we all have to face, whether in the near or distant future: but eventually, it will come knocking.

He was seated at the edge of the lower bed of the double-decker, a common feature in all hostels in the University. He wore his clean white t-shirt which he had just gotten it from the clothesline after being thoroughly scorched by the midday sun. It was white and shiny. Just what he needed. He looked down at his black jeans, which was also washed. The black color matched with the white t-shirt like a match made in heaven. He went towards his locker, opened it and took his prized possession. A pair of black, original Timberland shoes. They were fresh off the boutique just a few weeks ago. His pride and joy. He went back and sat on his bed and began wearing his shoes.  He tied the shoelaces to the last hole, something which he was not used to.

But today was special.

Both shoes were tied to perfection. He stood up, glanced at himself one more time from head to toe. He stretched his hands wide, observing all aspects of the clothing he was wearing, especially the white t-shirt, making sure it had no strange spots.

Mi ni ule msee,” He whispered to himself as he rolled his dreadlocks to a man-bun at the top of his head. The whisper of self-belief that all would go as planned.  He was now all set to go. Then he remembered something. Something very crucial. How could he have forgotten such a thing? He went and opened his locker and quickly grabbed it. It was a rectangular, red-ish, ‘Versman’ cologne. He looked at it and it was empty except for some few scattered droplets dangling at the lower left corner inside the bottle. He tilted the bottle at an angle towards the left side. The scattered droplets slowly began moving towards the tilted side and they all merged forming a small portion of applicable perfume. He pressed the spraying nozzle of the perfume and the little amount quickly got sucked into the straw which released the bottled contents to the outside world. He held the nozzle against his chest and sprayed once into each armpit. He looked at the bottle and there was still some left inside the tiny straw. He sprayed in strategic parts around his upper body, making sure they got equal amounts of the perfume. He was now, finally, ready to go. He went out of the hostel towards his destination.  He passed by the mirror next to the washrooms. He paused. A rare event was happening. Never had he ever stopped to look himself in the mirror. NEVER. But today he had to. And in his eyes, he was best dressed than any other day.

And off he went.

The midday sun made his white t-shirt shine even brighter. He walked from the Eastern Zone of the campus towards the ladies hostels. You know you can’t just enter the ladies’ hostels as though it’s your playboy mansion. He followed the usual boring protocol of signing in and leaving some sort of identity, ‘just in case’.  He went up the spiral staircases and reached the second floor.  As he was informed, the event would happen in the Common Room, a place which was used for students’ social purposes.  He walked a few meters from the stairs and reached the said location.

The chairs were neatly arranged in a circle and between, a considerable amount of space was left and a small table was in the middle. On top of the table was a medium-sized cake surrounded by all sorts of drinks. People were seated calmly, some hooked to their phones while others were chatting as they waited for the birthday girl to arrive.  He scanned the room from left to right.

He saw her.

Seated on the far left of the room, he spotted her chatting with her friends. The stories that were being told seemed quite interesting since she was hysterically laughing as she touched her long braids and rolled them playfully. He walked and sat on one of the front chairs, a short distance away from her. He looked at her one more time and he was short of breath.  He looked behind and more people were streaming in as time went by.

He knew the perfect moment to act.

Moments later, the birthday girl everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. The quiet and calm mood of the room quickly changed and everyone became ecstatic. All eyes were on her as she gracefully walked in and headed where the cake was.

The time to act was now.

It was now or never.

He took a deep breath and stood up. He slowly walked to where the birthday girl was standing and whispered in her ear. She nodded and went to sit right where he was seated. He looked around the room, which was now full of people.

“Hey guys,” he greeted the multitude and they responded back. Then he proceeded.” My name is Michael and I know you are all wondering why I’ve stood here disrupting the birthday celebration. There is something that has been bugging me for so long and I have finally decided to let it out. I cannot leave like this anymore and I had to say it now. “

Everyone was dead silence, gazing at him as he touched his chin. He walked and stood next to her.

Their eyes locked.

“Honestly speaking I have been madly in love with you for a long time now. I have persevered for so long but the more I hold it in the more it hurts. I want you so f@#$ing bad Jane. You’re beautiful and smart and I would love to be your girlfriend.”

He moved closer to her and got down on one knee. He stretched his hands towards her hands and looked at her straight in her eyes. Everyone was amazed. Her friends who were seated next to her could not believe what was conspiring before their eyes. Their mouths were wide open as their hands found themselves covering their wide mouths. Phones were unleashed out of the pockets as people moved closer in attempt to get their photos and videos in 3d. She was seated, her eyes looking at his as she curved out a smile.

“She is going to accept. Holy @$#!” He thought as he tried as hard as possible to conceal his joy with a serious face. “I’m winning,” He thought. His hands held her warm hands as he anxiously waited for her reply. She looked down smiling, a clear indication that his courage had her blushing. All this time he was staring at her reaction. People on the background were whispering in excitement, especially the girls who were even screaming with joy, unable to control their off-the-chart emotions.

In his mind, he was winning her, bit by bit. If only knew what she was thinking at that moment.

If only he knew.

After looking down for some time, she looked up and straight towards him, who was still on his knee, eagerly waiting for her to speak.

Kubali maze!” Some of the males inside the room began chanting behind them, a show of support and solidarity to their counterpart. She looked around and saw the multitude of people gathered to witness the beginning…or the ending of a love story.

Then she spoke.

“I…I…I don’t know what to say.”

She paused for a moment and looked at him again.

“I’m sorry but no.”

The excitement that was in the room immediately vanished. His face which was beaming with hope frowned unceremoniously. He looked at her with shock in his eyes, unable to believe her response. He looked down, bit his lips and heavily blinked. He opened his eyes, took a deep breath and looked up at her. Behind her, people were hovering their phones around both of them in silence. The males who were supporting their counterpart were surprised by the unexpected turnout of events.

He lifted up his bent knee and stood up. He let go of her hands. He didn’t utter a single word. He walked out of the room as everyone’s phone recorded and took shots of his silence exit.  She was still seated as he left.

He climbed down the stairs and headed outside the ladies’ hostels. His face was a clear depiction of sadness and anger.

“Hey Mister, you’ve forgotten your ID,” shouted the housekeeper who was seated at the entrance of the hostel. He heard her call but totally ignored her and continued walking.

His hands clenched into a fist as he walked, making people move away from him as he walked along the school pathways. He walked past the school’s annex and stopped. His mind was in shattered pieces as he could not believe that the girl whom he wholeheartedly loved refused his proposal. He being the only known case of a male student proposing to a female, something out of a fairy tale and supposed to be a flawless ‘yes’ went contrary to his expectations.

He dipped his hands in his pocket and it came out with a one thousand shilling note. He looked at. That was the only cash he had for surviving the oncoming week.

He looked at it one more time and made his choice.

He entered the students’ annex center and the smell of alcohol blew into his nostrils, luring him to come and drown his sorrows and failures.