They came, again! Eyes wide with horror and terror, the pregnant woman fled clutching her unborn child. Weighed down by dread and the pregnancy, she bolted with every bit of strength she could muster. She ran for dear life, flew for posterity’s sake. Yet they gained on her, swarming in clouds of darkness, vultures’ wings flapping in murderous excitement.
She hastened on, drenched in perspiration, looking for a hiding place, praying for reprieve. Alas, there was nowhere to hide and ultimately her strength petered out. She collapsed in a heap on the desert sands, body heaving with laborious pants, eyes furiously streaming tears. This was the greatest hour of evil’s finest. The Prince of the marauders jumped down from the saddle of the lead vulture. His face was covered by a red steely mask that could have petrified the meanest demon of hell. With purposeful, cocky steps, he walked towards the fallen woman brandishing a gleaming scimitar. The entourage of death behind him chomped at their bits to unleash havoc.
Still clutching her baby, she begged for mercy.
“Please, please, not again, not this time, please, mercy….” she whimpered ineffectually. Slithering backwards in the dust, she stretched out her hand as if to stop the implacable advance of the purveyor of destruction.
He smiled, bronze teeth flashing, the macabre grin of a skeletal skull. His eyes were devoid of pupils, black holes that unveiled an abyss of malevolent insanity.
Scimitar flashed golden as it was raised and came down, ripping into the woman’s abdomen. Umbilical cord, amniotic fluid and blood poured out of their abode, streaming though the lady’s hands. In a voice full of hopelessness and death, she screamed!!!
The vultures grunted in ecstasy and swooped down to feed on the buffet of mother and child. The prince laughed. His laughter was a maniacal tide that poured from the realm of spirits and wraiths onto the shores of tangible reality….
…Lydia woke up screaming! Her heart thudding like the flapping wings of a million trapped bats. Sweat soaked her night gown and her bed sheets even though her air conditioner was going full blast. Fear ripped through her soul, lodged in her throat and made her choke. Even though the lights of the room were on, she felt she was drowning in a murky, inky ocean of madness. She had had this nightmares before and the concomitants were too heart breaking to be mentioned.
They usually affected cherished dreams, plans that she had been nurturing with great expectation. First time, her fiancée had failed to show up on their traditional wedding day. Second time around, “Silk and Velvets” the fashion designing establishment that she had slaved away for years to put up in Victoria Island, Lagos got gutted by fire.
Hands shaking, she frantically dialled her Pastor’s number but the line was not going through. She checked and saw it was 4.30am on the 1st of January 2016. The man must be sleeping heavily after the watch night service. She could not believe what was happening to her again. A few hours ago, she had been in church wishing everybody a “Happy New Year”.
Lydia was the SI unit of sanguinity. She was the life of life’s party. Last night she had had a ball at the watch night service. When the praise/worship leader started singing “e wa bami rababa fun oba ogo….” She had ra babaed until her waist nearly broke. Then she went into a spectrum of dancing. With better expertise than the best of bartenders, she mixed a cocktail of etighi, azonto, shoki and every kind of dance step together in a way that made people giddy just watching her. She grooved so much that for long minutes the camera man transfixed her dancing image on the screens in the church. She came back home tired from her exertions and crashed onto her bed.
The lady could not believe that this nightmare would surface again after that kind of power packed night. Her Pastor had prayed himself hoarse blessing his congregation and had anointed everyone after that. Yet, evil had reared its hydra ugly heads again. Quivering with the fever of fear, she instinctively knew that something very bad was going to happen to her in 2016.
Hunched on her bed, her life played before her on the spool of her mind. Lydia was the kind of person that would never miss church, never! On special days like Christmas, she would go to other churches to attend service if her own church did not conduct any. However, she did not serve nor attend other programs (she always claimed to be too busy running on the treadmill of life’s rat race). She told her friends that life is for living and “she cannot come and die”. She believed she contributed her own quota to the kingdom by going religiously for services and paying tithes to the dozens of prophets who stood in the gap for her.
She was all about the cavorting, movies, clubbing, fashion, the works. There had been a special program to prepare for the New Year on Boxing Day but she had gone to the galleria to binge on the latest movies. Star Wars (being an avid fan of the series, she wondered what the buzz was about after seeing this one), Fifty and the Good Dinosaur for good measure. After that, she had gone to one of the trendy clubs on the island with her friends such that she had intensely dozed through service the next day.
As she ruminated on her life, she kept thinking of Albert Einstein’s quote that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity. Her Pastor’s last message for the year 2015 emphasized the words of Jesus which expressed that a corn of wheat unless it dies cannot produce results and that he who loves his life will lose it. Lydia interpreted it thus, that the corn of wheat must go through a process of change before it can beat its limitations. She was on the bed for hours, troubled and lost in her thoughts. By the time she got up with an air of finality, she knew what to do. She was desperate for change!
She called only her trusted Assistant and told her to hold the fort for her for a few days since she would not be around. She packed a single bag with some fresh clothes and a few toiletries and drove out towards Ibadan. Along the Lagos Ibadan expressway, she stopped at one of the “Ori Oke” prayer resorts that lined that road and checked in. For someone who was naturally used to plush and cozy, the room was quite austere. The only decoration it boasted of being framed pictures with attendant words which said, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all of your heart.”
Lydia knew she had always been religious and now desperately wanted a one on one relationship with her Saviour. She had never been the fasting type. At most she breaks by 10am on days that fasting was declared in her church but this time was different. She did a few days of dry fasting, and then lived on only water and fruits for the rest. She had switched off all her phones and stayed in her room seeking the face of her King. On her last day, she was so exhausted that she slept off on the cold hard floor of her room…
…The eagle’s cry awakened the heavens as it soared beyond heights known to the human mind. The lady riding on it was heavily armed with bow, arrows and a sheathed sword. She had had enough and this time, she was on the offence. She was taking the fight to the den and denizens of wickedness! The gigantic eagle passed through thick dark clouds to come out upon a large, stark plain with stunted trees. The fields were burnt to the ground; the colours that prevailed were rust and brown. Not a trace of green could be seen anywhere. In the middle of this desolation, a black castle towered proudly and majestically filling up the whole horizon. Vultures clumped like revolting fruits on the trees gorging themselves on rotting flesh. A rank odour of putrefaction and corruption emanated from it, hitting the female warrior in thick waves. If not for the urgency of her mission, she would have turned back from such horrific stench. It was here her tormentors resided and behind the parapets lurked guards on the lookout for danger.
She equipped her bow with her arrows and let fly with poetic dexterity until she had decimated all the guards. The warrior now landed on the roof and brought out a sword flaming with fire. Up above, her eagle engaged hellish vultures that had come to join the fray. She ran down stairs into the depths of the castle, slashing, thrusting and dodging all the way. Her foes had never encountered such viciousness, such fury. Buoyed by the adrenaline of righteous indignation, she went through the marauders mercilessly leaving trails of blood everywhere meting out vengeance without respite. She finally got to the courts of the prince and there he was on his throne. Hatred flamed in the dark soulless pits of his eyes and he came at her with his scimitar, wanting to make short work of her once and for all this time. He could not believe her temerity!
However, she blocked his thrusts, danced here and there like a butterfly until he was panting for breath. He was bewildered, she had changed, become a warrior of the likes he had never engaged. She laughed in his face and spat onto his mask. He became enraged. No one had ever done that to him before, ever!
She was enjoying their duel; he was not her match any more. They had fought until they had come out to one of the balconies of the court. She feinted to the left and he moved with her but realized too late that she had sold him a dummy. She lopped his head off and kicked his body over the stony wall. He hit a burning brazier while falling and fell like a streak of lightening.
She was still enraged and wanted to destroy every trace of the marauders. She carried the brazier and threw it against the heavy curtains behind the throne……..
…As she left on her eagle, smoke from the razed down castle billowing and mixing with the clouds, dawn rose gently and smiled on her. The winds with the gentility of a lover’s hand caressed her hair and kissed her face. She smiled; it was a new day…..
THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL BUT MIGHTY THROUGH GOD TO THE PULLING DOWN OF STRONG HOLDS….
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!
© 2015 Ekpo Ezechinyere
IMAGES FROM GOOGLE