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●EARTH , WATER AND FIRE!
“Chimanemeka Ehhhh! !”
“Yes mama?” He sighs coming out if his room and going to meet her in the living room, he isn’t pleased. she had been calling his name and he had ignored her but he knew if he didn’t answer her she wouldn’t stop.
He had heard her praying earlier , she wakes up by 5am and prays till 7am.
A habit she had since she joined the religious wagon.
He didn’t share in it though, he also didn’t like to be pulled into it either.
“Mama, call me Emeka please. I don’t like that you call my name like that”
“Aba Chimanemeka, is that not your name?”
“It is mama but I prefer Emeka , Emeka for short. but that is not what you called me for is it? ” he folds his hands and stares at her.
“No my son, it is not” she looks up at him. Despite living in a big mansion and enjoying her son’s wealth, she still preferred to tie wrapper and wear less expensive cloths.
The phrase comes to mind “You can take a man out of the gutter but you can’t take the gutter out of the person” he shakes his head.
“Then what is it? ”
“I had a dream last night and I wanted to share it with you, it has been bothering me and this is the 6th time I am having this same dream and I don’t like it”
Emeka sighs “Dream ke? ehen if you don’t like the dream that you dreamed off you should have prayed against it na, why coming to worry me?”
“My son, you don’t understand, in the dream, I saw you lying on the floor, you were bleeding and coughing out blood and no matter how much I tried to save you… you died in my arms, . For the past 6 days it’s the same dream,and it is here..in this palour on the floor that I hold on to you Chimanemeka. . and I have prayed and even spoken to my Pastor about it and he has also prayed. but I want you to follow me to church so that we can cancel this spirt of death hovering over your life.”
“Mtcheww!! Mama you and this church thing. superstitious nonsense. it is nothing but a bad dream. look I don’t have time to go and do prayers and be singing and dancing like a happy grasshopper. , I have to get ready for work and you are delaying me. Besides I cannot die, nothing can harm me. ”
“Godforbid!!! yes my son you cannot die and nothing will harm you in Jesus name but Chimanemeka, my son-”
“Emeka mama Emeka, infact do and come and go back to the village, you said you wanted to see me and spend some days now it is two weeks already, you are dulling me” he snaps
‘Okay Emeka, if I am disturbing you in your house -”
“You are !!”
Deep sigh “Okay I will go but at least follow me to church just this once abeg , today is the last day for the special deliverance service and atleast both of us will join hands together with the man of God and pray against the spirit of death, because this feeling is not normal…and I want you to be protected ”
“Oohhhh mama mama!!” he frowns pointing at her
“but Chimanemeka will I have any thoughts against you that is bad? I am only concerned about you, I am worried, this dream is ..is frightening and I don’t want anything to happen to you. And it is only God that can protect us son, if we put our trust in him and commit our ways to him, it is only God that can safe us” She sobs
I am already protected. I don’t need this religious sheninghans.
if only you knew mama that I cannot be harmed. Maybe you would worry less
“Infact sef, sitting here and listening to you is getting me even angry. mama I have gone to get ready for work, if you like keep dreaming stupid dreams you hear? I will drop money for your transport back to the village, safe trip you hear?” he gets up and leaves
She stares at him sadly , clutching her chest, her eyes sparkled with tears, she wipes it and turns away “Lord, I don’t know the kind of dream this is but please protect my son” she prays
Emeka gets dressed and leaves for work in his car.
His mother had been happy for him that after five years staying at home without a job, he finally lands one, and within two years he bought himself a house, a few cars and she comes to visit him in the city from the village.
He goes to work in the mornings dressed in his suit and carrying his bag, and he comes back from work still dressed and bringing back more than a bag which he disappears into the room with and then a few friends come over from work and they sit and discuss inside his room for hours and then they leave with bags.
Emeka was a banker and he liked his job, his mother was proud of him and never lost chance to tell people “Oh Chimanemeka my son works in the bank as an operation officer, so hard working that is why God has been blessing him “she would smile from ear to ear.
Well, that is partly true, he is in the operations unit, and they like to rob banks.
And today , just like every other day..they were on a mission..
And before they go for every Robbery operation, they like to cloak themselves, in what they call in “Odeshi ”
It was about three years ago when he got introduced into this operation unit.
Ever since he realised that the country sucked and that the only way one can achieve something was if you knew someone who knew someone or you had some godfather or you were a son to someone in the political sector. other than that, you were literally…Fxxked up!!.
He graduated with good grades, he should have gotten a good job by all standards ..he wrote tests and exams but somehow those who knew someone who knew someone always got the job with little to no sweats.
He was tired, he was frustrated and ended up drinking and drinking some more.
His mother was in the village , she had sold fish in the market to get him through school and despite it all…no decent job to even give her a smile on his face.
He was so tired he had even given up.
Even ‘Giving up ” had even given up on him.
He had resigned himself to fate .That ever will be will be , until he met Chizendu at the pub bar one day…
“Guy you don tire for life?” the man comes beside him , he didn’t know who he was and he never liked talking to any one .
he liked to drink in peace and then go back to the thatch house he shared with a dozen other homeless people where a pays #50 naira to sleep for the night.
Today he would sleep outside , he wouldn’t have a dime when he goes back, his last cash was used for this beer .
“No. life don tire for me. even if I were to die, this life ..would sprout me out of the earth because it would not have use of my dead body..not my bones or my dust when I turn to it”
“Hmmm. what if I tell you I know a means to change all of this?”
Chimanemeka eyes him from the corner of his eyes, the man suddenly looks farmilar, sort off. He had seen him a couple of times over the last couple of months…And he had figured that just like him,this man had a sad story..but today,he wasn’t wearing a torn shirt and his shoes didn’t have holes. .he even smelt good.
“Trust me, nothing can change my situation. I am just going to continue drinking till I die of too much booze. I don’t even have what to eat for tonight or even tomorrow.. I am a dead man walking. Go away man. .let me feel depressed in peace and maybe choke from the liquor down my throat” Emeka says taking half the contents of his beer and belching.
“Well, if you remember me , you would realise that I used to look like you, wretched and given up on life ..but now you would see that I look different …..can’t you notice? Change is the only constant thing and I am here to tell you that…there is light for you to reach towards. look, we have an opening at my team, one of us suffered an unfortunate loss and we need a replacement. I have been noticing you and I checked up on you. You have no family here or even love attachments, you seem like the best candidate, plus you look fit and once you lose this drinking habit I bet you would look and sound lucid too ”
“What the fxxk you talking about?”
“if you are willing to change your present situation, follow me. And I promise you , by this time next month, you can buy your own drink and more for others here too and maybe in a year you would be pulling your own ride and spraying money like rain on misguided souls…so you decide Chimanemeka ”
“How did you know my name?”
“I told you, I checked you out. I would be waiting outside , after five minutes you don’t show…I’ll leave . And then you have no one but yourself to blame about your predicament. Do the right thing…” The man says and leaves
Chimanemeka turns away from him frowning, He finishes his drink and gets up. he meets him outside in four minutes.
“Good man Chimanemeka, Good man” He had smiled “My name is Chizendu , follow me while I change your destiny”
He had followed him out of the pub and into a car as they drove further down the road, cutting corners and kept driving.
“Are you scared ?”
“No” Emeka lied
“Being honest doesn’t make you less of a man Chimanemeka and what sort of a name is that? can I call you Emeka, lose the other part of your name”
“My mother gave me that name and she loves it”
“Emeka is your name too isn’t it?”
“If you take away the chiman”
“Toss it” Chizendu says turning into an uncompleted building further down where the house links breaks and no living body walking nor going, he turns off the ignition and comes down “I mean no harm..if I wanted to kill you you would have been dead in a second. follow me..”
Chimanemeka is scared but then he takes a deep breath and alights following him..
Then he saw them, a few dozens of them,they had on black singlets and red scarfs tied on their harms , legs and foreheads…
“who are these men?”
“My comrades, ” Chizendu says taking off his white shirt and revealing black singlet , he takes the red cloth on the floor and begins to tie around his arm,leg and forehead. then he picks a singlet and red cloth and gives to Chimanemeka. ..”Put this on..and we shall begin”
“You are ealready here. if you would be reluctant you shouldn’t have come out to meet me… There is only one door in , there is no door out unless you are taken away in a box. .”
Fear grips Emeka. what had he gotten himself into
“Chimanemeka we have been waiting for you” A man who seemed elderly says,he was the only one who was sitting down on his legs,there was a fire burnng infront of him in a pot, there was a basket of sand but it wasn’t seeping past it and then there was a bowl of water… he sat staring at it..
Everyone is looking at him, waiting for him
‘Who are you…what do you want from me?”
“the question rather is , What do you want from life? To remain poor and wretched going by each day waiting for death to come unpon you because life seems useless to you or…doing something to change it? we are the change..and we offer you that change ”
“What change are you ? what change do you mean?Who are you people?”
“My name is Nsiksala, High priests of Mbadinuju, seer of all, protector of all, elements breaker and Fortifier. And I am the cloak cover of the lives of these men. They on the otherhands are Vigilantes by night, operators by morning. ..”
“I do not understand. ”
“We are the Bakassi boys” The men replied
“I have heard stories of the Bakassi boys , who were young men recruited and formed by the Ariara Market Traders sequel to the failure of men of the Nigerian police to check the high level of crimes in the state”
“True. .you know your history. but is that all?”
“I hear that they are not men but gods. but that is another fable told by women in tales by midnight ”
They laughed ..they laughed some more .
“It is not a fable.. they are not men but gods , they are men fortified by gods that they become gods themselves. what are the elements you know of?” The priest asks him still staring into the fire.
“I do not understand?”
“Think,what elements do you know of and have been taught in school, I hear you are intelligent. Do not be stupid before me now”
“Fire, Water, Earth, Air”
“And what does each mean?”
“I do not know..”
“Fair enough.. let me summarise “Fire is used to refine , to make stronger , to melt something to become bolder..sharper..for instance if you must make a sword you must use a stone against it, you must melt it and that is by using fire and then you shall pour it into a scarved stone and it shall become a sword…but before it becomes perfect it must go through the fire. And water? even when one needs to be cleansed , you must use water to wash away your dirts and uncleanness, if you want to be baptised as christainity goes, you need to deep yourself it water. Even the God they speak of used wateer to cleanse the earth at some point…and water gives life.. and Air? Air is what we breath, without air you cannot live. you see how they all connect…A man is considered dead when he stops breathing and when you don’t have water to drink for days you die faster than when you have food. water can save your life…food can’t. and with water we become clean..and fire..fire can refine you after melting you”
“I still don’t understand what this all means”
“It means that..what you have heard and be told isn’t a tale it is real and they are before you. ..and the elements are gods on their own used to protect them. Have you heard of the word Odeshi?”
“In school , it means impregnable ”
“Good. In your dailect pronounce it ”
“O dighi eshi ” he speaks in igbo
“What does it mean? ”
“It is not leaking ” Chimanemeka says frowning
The priest smiles. “Give him a weapon ”
Chizendu hands him a matchet lying by the wall,
“Why do I need this?”
“Take it and strike the one who give it to you”
“Wait what?” Chimanemeka gives it back, Chizendu takes it and places it back in his hands
“If you don’t strike him with it you shall be cut down. So I say strike him with it” The priests orders
“But..he would bleed…he would die…I cannot”
“Strike me with it or I will strike you down myself ” Chizendu says, angered. He didn’t expect him to be a weakling…he had vouched for him telling them that he had found a good replacement for Tony who had died and they had asked him to go get the replacement, but if he refuses to do what was asked of him, he would kill this Chimanemeka here himself.
“Strike him now” the priests shouts “If he doesn’t, you have my permission to kill him and drop his body in the sea”
Chimanemeka for fear of his life, closes his eyes and strikes Chizendu with the matchet .
Then he opens his eyes when he heard them laughing ,even Chizendu ..
He looks at his hand , the matchet wasn’t dripping of blood and neither was Chizendu hurt, not a mark on his body..
He staggers back. ..” What..what?” No this isn’t real, he touches the matchet,it was sharp. .much like a blades
“Give him another weapon .Maybe his faith would be stronge ” The priest commands
Chizendu hands him a gun but instead of waiting for him to pull the Trigger ..he places the gun in Chimanemeka ‘s hands, and placing Chimanemeka’s finger there, he presses it with his own… the bullet bounces off his body..
“No bullet, no matchet , no metal capable of harming any normal human can penetrate his body or the bodies of everyone who stands here. there are impregnable. invincible. un-killable. they cannot be harmed. how is this possible? Odeshi!! the fortifications of spiritual and universal elements to form a cloak over them..And as long as they continue to be fortified they are gods amongst mem. Now tell me, wouldn’t you want to be amongst these men…?”
Chimanemeka had suddenly lost fear, he touches Chizendu body, walking around to make sure his eyes were not deceiving him, he picks up the matchet and strikes him again..”Odeshi!!” Chizendu jumps..he does it again and again..
“Odeshi” Chizendu laughs.
He takes the gun and places it to his chest and fires “Odeshi” everyone chants
Chimanemeka begins to laugh like a mad man “Unbelievable! ! unbelievable! !” he exclaims
“Do you want to be part of us?…while you guide the village of others at night and in the morning you can be what you want. … You know there are jobs and man must eat so..we must fend for ourselves. .while they steal our money this politicians and put It in the bank..we go there and take it and even their clothed men in uniforms and their Ak 46s can’t harm us or stop us, instead we cut them down..We enrich ourselves and nothing ..not on earth,not under the heavens can stop us because we have used the elements of heaven, earth and the sea to fortify us. So what do you say brother .join us,and let us change your destiny? ”
“Nothing can kill me?”
“Not under the heavens and on earth or in the sea . Not fire. not earth not air..and anything made our of these things”
“then i accept it be a part of you Brethen .. I accept. ” Chimanemeka says
“then put on that black signlet and tie on the red scarfs…and let the itiation begin”
A week later, they went for their first operation.
Three security men ,a few staffs and a dozen police men lay dead, and they went away with a truck of money.
Chimanemeka didn’t kill anyone, no one told him they were going to kill anyone
“If you don’t kill them..they would keep coming at you ..though they can’t hurt you…but body pains isn’t inevitable “Chizendu laughs “And they keep çalling for reinforcements …and we don’t need more of them”
it was on their third and forth trip he understood..
when he gunned down the staff who had been reaching for the alarm after he told her not to. .as as soon as he looked away,it blared and in anger he turns around. …”I told you not to you bitch ‘ And without blinking he released two bullets into her chest .
And ever since then…
The deaths at his wake had been counting and before he could hardly close his eyes at night to sleep, now he does. ..
when he had a masion over his head; a few millions in his account, cars in his garage and he could afford to bring his mother and send her back with money every time she came.
He slept well.
He slept really well,
As he gets into his car , his mother had come to him, “Let me anoint you atleast ?” She says coming with anointing oil to the side of the door
“Mama..don’t annoy me this morning please ”
“Mama!!” he snaps again , sighing he puts the car on drive and pulls out of the compound..hoping that by the time he gets home she would have gone back to the village.
He needed a few weeks of peace…
Beside they had a fee operations to do this week, They got Intel about some government money being stashed away in the bank for political rallies..
it was an exchange of bullets, But whole the police men ducked and hide their heads, They..matched on, welding their guns and matches and cutting them down..
They got into the safe after blowing open the door.
the operation takes an hour and half,they load the money into their truck and leaves..
Leaving blood,dead bodies and halfed limbs..and not a tear or a mark on their body..
They come in dressed like customers,in suits and fresh boys, well polished ,English speaking fellas and during the course of time they bring out the red scarfs and tenon their arms,legs and foreheads ,and they put a leaf in thier mouth thay they chew…and before long…
they bring out their weapons and thr everything else goes up in bullets and smokes.
it was a good day, a good operation..just like every operation it went smooth.
And they made their way to their respectful homes .
Nsiksala was in the shrine
whenever their operation was to be successful he would sit before the fire, taking the sand of the earth he would smear it with water and then he would place his hands into the fire.. And he would chant ..all their names , continuously , he would smear his hands to his forehead, his chest and then his body…and he would put his hand back in fire and continue. .
he would do it untill the fire stops dancing and the water stops boiling and the air slowly let’s the dust settle back into the basket.
He knew they were done…
Then he would leave his shrine and go back to his house.
This he had done for years..cloaking them and protecting them. .
But today,today as he leaves his shrine..he met them standing outside
“Who are you to dare stand before me??'” he asks
They were four , young boys,
“We have been following you Nsiksala, we have been watching you and we know what you have been doing ” They say
“And if you know that,you do not fear?”
“What do we have to fear? death. we are dead already…”
he frowns “You are not ghosts ,ghosts don’t have the vessels of humans ”
“No, You have taken all that we have and own..our parents. .Those men you protect, a year ago today, they had taken our families ,killing them in cold blood and because of that…we have nothing own nothing,leave for nothing and we have toiled far and wide, near and close searching …because we know what they are and we know from where they have come from..Because we followed the trail of blood and the carcases of dead bodies and then we found you. .and because we have nothing else to lose but ourselves. .we must put a stop to you” They said
he laughs and laughs “Me? Me?The great high priests ? the one who has merged the elements of the gods and cloaked man to be like a god, me that cannot be killed and make men not to be touched…me? Leave here fools before I reduce you to the asshes used for Wednesdays ”
“We are not afraid to die. but are you not afraid to die?”
“Hain!! I cannot be killed not by anything under the heavens, on earth ot in the sea, not by bullets , matchets and metals and anything made by man. I cannot be killed…and I will not suffer fools like you to come threaten me” He thunders
“Oh..who said anything about those…what about something made not of these things?”
“Nothing can ever kill me , I am Nsiksala , and I will bring you ruins to where you stand ” He stretches his hands before them
The boys,four of them stand, bold they stand. .
“You are not afraid ?” he asks again
“No. but you should be” they say and they are looking over his shoulders , curious he turns
There,within his shrine … He sees a fifth peeing into the fire after spitting in it ..
“Nooo!!’ he screams running into the shrine
But the four boys reach for him and dragging him down as soon as the fire which had never quenched begins to flicker down…
As soon as the fire goes off,he kicks the basket and bowl of water, then he pours acid over it mixed with alcohol and then he spits on it…
“No No No” He fights them off but they hold him down,bringing the chain they had dropped and wrapping him with it to keep his hands away from them just incase he decides to perform any incantations to cause him to disappear. ..
“quick. .pee on him” one of them says as they bound him up
As one of them begins to release his bowels..the others stand up and do thesame causing him to shout for them to stop and that he would kill them..
Then he looks at his shrine and see how the boy thrashes up the place,
“I will kill you!!” he thunders looking at them
“If you say nothing under the heavens and earth and water can kill you…, gun, bullets , metal..can kill you, how about we see if it still applies now Nsiksala ”
They tied the chain around his neck…and they drag him to the tree, tying him to it they put another round his neck….and they began to pull and pull and pull and pull..
He screams untill he can’t scream anymore. ..
Suddenly his neck snaps and his head leaves his body falling to the ground while his body sprouts out blood .
They stood there watching his head roll off, the grab a stick and pierces it from his throat and stands it in the middle of his shrine and walks away.
the banging on his gate startled him from sleep.. he gets up from his bed and looks out of his window…he sees the red and blue lights dancing on the streets.
“What the hell?” he frowns
“Na who be that?” the security calls out
“Its the police, open the gate. .open the gate”!! the voices call out
“Jesus Police ?!!” the security says running to his window. .
Emeka frowns…what were they doing here ?
“Oga make I open am? ”
“No..don’t ” He says rushing out of his room,he wears his singlet, ties his red cloth and put the leave in his mouth.
His mother hadn’t left, he had come home to find her still around, she said the rain had fallen and she couldn’t get a cab out.
He would tell her not to come out even she hears gun shot…
He would take care off all of them..
Nothing can touch him but he doesn’t want flying bullets to touch his mother…
He runs to her room..
“Ha!! Chimanemeka, what is is? why did you rush in here like this, and…what is that noise at the gate and Jesus,what..what are you tying ,what is this..Jesus Chimanemeka what Is this?”
“Mama,stay inside, hide,don’t come out untill the coast is clear. promise me”
“Chimanemeka what is happening? what is happening. ..what..is this..in your mouth..this red ..this ..hay God Chimanemeka! !!” She wails
“be quiet mama, promise me! they have come for me but do not worry, I will be fine. Nothing can harm me,this is protection, but you are not fortified so you have to stay put of harms way mama…promise me..I will tell you all later but now..I must go out there and face them..I will make sure they all leave..I am not scared..I am impregnable. .Stay here mama..do not come out”
“Chimanemeka! !” She holds on to him
But he removes her hands from clutching to him and goes out of the room …locking the door behind him..
The police had driven down the gate and barged into the house..
He was waiting for them with a smile on his face;as soon as they saw him they pointed their guns at him
‘Surrender, surrender you are surrounded. You are one of the Bakassi boys, today your reign ends”
Chimanemeka laughs “You should have not come here…” He laughs ..
“But I will give you a choice,drop your guns, ask for mercies and I will do are your lives to go back to your families….”
“Surrender !!! There is no escaping “”
“No, not for you…But because I am a good person I will count one to ten and if you don’t surrender and get the hell out of my house. ..your dead bodies would he put in boxes and sent to your homes.” Chimanemeka says, he had two guns in his hands..he didn’t need more now.
He would let them finish their bullets on him and then one by one he would gun them down with their own guns if need be.
Then he would clear up the mess and then he would explain to his mother and maybe they wouldn’t have to talk about it ever again..
He removes the safety from the gun and points to them
“Say bye” He presses down on the trigger
“Fire!!!” The commander says
“ODESHI! !!!” he chants chesting out .
And then they began to fire as he releases two bullets hitting two of the police officers and injuring three others..
When the bullets began to reach his body .
he felt pain,it was normal..
He always felt pain but it never was more than that, it passes after a few seconds..
but this wasn’t passing…Instead his pain increased .
And as the bullets kept making contact with his body…He staggers backwards untill his back makes contact with the wall and then he looks down as the firing stops. ..he drops his guns
He raises his eyes to meet them..
“Nothing can ever kill you” The priests had told him “The elements of the gods .. Earth,water and fire, have made you invincible to the bullets of the guns,metals,matchets and everything under the heavens ,on the earth and the sea..Nothing can ever kill you. As long as you are cloaked with Odeshi and you have now…so be a God amongst men” His words comes back to him
Then he looks down again at his bleeding body and holes in his chest , he chokes out blood and coughs out thick cloats of more blood.
Then he laughs …
“He lied.. he lied” He coughs slipping to the ground
He felt dizy… he body was in excruciating pains
“I am a god, cloaked in Earth, Water and Fire..Odeshi. ..!! nothing can kill me ” he breaths slowly slipping out of consciousness. ..”
they search the house and finds his mother screaming inside her room..
“Where is my son??” she cried ”
Where is my son??”
She runs to the palour and then she sees him lying down in the pool of his own blood… choking to his death. .
And her dream flashes before her as she rushes to him cradling his head in her lap and cries
“Chimmooooooooo Chimanemeka I told you..I told you !!!!!!!!!!!”” She wails
“Mama..mama…..” He holds unto her. ..then suddenly he became still and quiet.
“CHIMANEMEKA EHHHH! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ” She wails louder
******ANTICIPATE STORY 27 ***MAY27TH
“THE ARSONISTS ”
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