Darkness swirled like clouds reminiscent of swarms of black locusts. Darkness crawled on the skin like the repulsive feet of fat maggots. Darkness overwhelmed the senses with the odour of putrefaction and corruption. It stuck like glue laced treacle, pulled with the force of sinking sands. Darkness, a stygian bog, a thick sea of ink drowned the land of Zowabia.
Zowabia was a blessed land. Within the veins of her core ran “black fire”, viscous gold that was used to produce energy. The whole world sought after it, hence the shores of the country was inundated by nations who brought gold in exchange for the precious substance. Zowabia became astoundingly prosperous.
As the land grew wealthy, it also became traitorous and turned its back on its Maker. The people forsook “The One who made the planets” and worshiped Mammon. Mammon was one of the princes of “The Other”, whose chief function was to steal, kill and destroy. Since the gold kept poured in a torrential flow, no one cared. Like a deadly virus, greed and selfishness ravaged the populace.
Zowabians erected altars to Mammon in their homes, offices, markets, schools and especially ruling palaces. They paid homage to its gold coin image relentlessly with sacrifices of children, pregnant women, the young, and old, until the whole country was over-run with blood, mostly that of the innocent.
What Zowabians failed to realize was that, “The Other” ultimately consumes his most ardent worshipers. The volume of bloodshed finally tipped the scales in Helfieno, the land of “The Other” and his princes. Finally it was time for Zowabia to be consumed. The king of fiends released his army.
They came like dark wind. Phantom horses dressed in hell’s gear with plumes of smoke and fire gushing from their nostrils. Their hounds strained on leashes baying for human souls. Their soldiers were wraiths of destruction. Hooves pounded thunderously, neighs sounded so deafeningly growls and snarls echoed relentlessly. Their arrows whistled and poured a feathered rain of death! Terror was unleashed. Pandemonium reigned!
In the wake of the army of death came the above darkness, strange sicknesses (bizarre flu’s from birds and swine). A swathe of devastation laid the land bare. Kidnappings and famine became common. It was like the land had never known. The soldiers with hellish rage went from house to house. Where there used to be endless music and celebration, there was now only fear and horror. No one was safe!
We huddled in Bethel having communion. Worshipers of “The One Who Made The Planets”. Zowabians call us freaks and banished us to Bethel because we cramped their style, they said. They called us goody two shoes because we did not partake in their sacrifices. It is absolutely impossible to serve “The One” and Mammon. The worshipers who did were the first people to be engulfed in the inferno hell’s army rained down. They were tainted. In the temple, lights blaze, the only flames that can avail the darkness that saturated the land. They were not ordinary though; they were powered by fuel gotten from the celestial Zoe wells. They were living lights that confounded the darkness. They had existed from when the earth was no more than primordial watery soup.
Despite the lift our spirits got from the power of our shabach ritual, a frisson of concern still rippled in the pool of the congregation. People were falling like flies all around the city and the menace was spreading fast. Evil was spreading like wildfire and no one was safe!
Manuel the Seer stepped into the ring of our circle carrying the ancient scrolls that never age. He looked up to the skies speaking Zionese, the language of heaven. A trance came upon him and his eyes became like fire seeing distant shores that could not be seen by human eyes. Arising from the spell of his visions, he consulted the scrolls.
“Salvation lies in the blood of a spotless white lamb. With that blood we will mark our homes and the scourge plaguing the countryside will pass over us”. He said.
We all looked at one another. Where were we going to get a spotless white lamb from? The answer seemed to hit everyone at the same time and we all said Papa in unison, albeit in hushed tones.
Papa was the oldest man amongst us. He never married but had a small lamb that was like a son to him. The old man was one who served “The One” with blazing passion. One day he had a dream in which an angel touched the two black sheep he owned and made the laws of Mendelian useless during their mating. Snow came out of that divine experience and was the most beautiful lamb in the whole country. It was so fluffy, so beautiful, and so white that it hurt the eyes. The animal followed Papa everywhere and was loved dearly in the clan. The children especially adored it to bits. If Snow, the lamb died, what would happen to Papa. The children would be brokenhearted, but what had to be done had to be done. We were all stunned into silence.
Slowly we all turned to look at the old man. Tears dripped from his eyes, endless rivers of anguish. “If it is to save the whole clan, you can have him” he uttered amidst sobs.
As he spoke, Snow gamboled into the middle of the ring and we all started weeping especially the little ones who understood. They ran, picked him up and clung to him like a drowning man to a branch.
The question that hung over us all was who would have enough heart to put the knife to the beloved lamb. Our looks circled the whole room and most put their faces down.
“I will do it! said Papa, in a strangled voice though maintaining his usual quiet dignity. I will make the sacrifice”. He collected the knife from Manuel and carried Snow into the circle where a golden bowl waited. Snow kept looking into its masters eyes like it were saying, “what did I do to become bereft of your love? Why have you forsaken me, Papa?”
We watched awe struck as the lamb’s throat was slit by its lover’s hand. Funny thing was that the animal did not utter a sound, not a baa, not a bleat. Its blood flowed, a crimson flood that ran into the container. It was resigned to its masters will, gave up its life without a fight. As it quietly slid into the arms of death, I wondered whether Snow knew the written words that said “greater love has no man than , this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
It was at this juncture that Demas the librarian rose with indignation. “Why do you clown around with an old man’s pet when danger is lurking like a mountain lion around us? This is all nonsense. We are wasting valuable time; this sacrifice will not amount to much! There has to be a better way and I am going to look for it. First things first, I am going to fortify my homestead in such a way no godforsaken killer can come in (He had just acquired the latest safety technology from the lands of the Orient).” With that he stormed out. He has always been the headstrong intellectual amongst us and if anything did not make sense to him, it was discarded rapidly. Manuel had always told him in the past, that the carnal mind could not access the mysteries of “The One”. Today we were too engrossed in surviving that we did not pay much attention to his usual antics.
The instruction was that Snow’s blood should be smeared around our houses. We hastily did this and locked ourselves inside our homes. Amazingly a drop of the lamb’s blood was enough for the whole community yet it surrendered all so lavishly!
They came at midnight as usual; the marauders of darkness. The cries from different homes froze up the night and made it cold. The swish of slashing sickle and screams filled the air but the terror did not come near. Sickles slashed jugulars, hooves crushed skulls and canine teeth ripped intestines. All over the city, thousands fell to the left and tens of thousands fell to the right of our boundaries but they could not come near us.
Then I heard blood curdling cries from my neighbour’s house and heard the maniacal laughter of the raiders. The house went up in flames, a colourful conflagration that was a testimony to the pestilence that ravaged the night. My heart sank because I knew Demas and his family were gone, they would be coming for my home next.
They attacked and the blood on my lintels formed pillars of fire around me and mine that they could not breach. Even the spells from their magical rune tablets could not penetrate the ring around me. They came in one way and a hurricane rushed out of the blood paintings and scattered them into the seven winds. The boldest of the demons came again but their steeds screeched in fear and the faces of the riders melted in horror. They dissolved into ashes and were no more. We were preserved!
All my life, I had never seen such manifestation! It was absolutely incredible! There was mighty, wonder working power in the blood of the lamb!
When I see the blood, I will pass over you!
© 2013 Ekpo Ezechinyere