THE KINGDOM OF TA-SET

THE CITY OF QU-STUL

5681 BC

THE TEMPLE OF THE GODDESS

EARLY HOUR

 

The room had been emptied of the possessions of the goddess. All that was hers now sealed and prepared for the burial chamber. Her body laid on her bed, wrapped in white linen bindings. The one who mourned her stood in silent contemplation. Contrary to his usually restrained manner, he gave in to the grief that pierced him like a sword.

“Why?”

His voice was broken and echoed with the pain that coursed through him.

Though he had prepared himself for what was to come since the time he had seen her eyes turn away from the festivities of the temple to the darkness of Akert, the suddenness of her departure caused him much grief.

“You have left me no instructions, what shall I do with the ways of the goddess? Shall I call you up from sleep? Disturb your peace?”

He remembered the day he had known she was his mother. It was on the eve of his journey from Opis to Qu-Stul. His aunt, Nucit had taken him in her arms after the priests and scribes who taught him had retired for the day.

“Tomorrow you will meet the goddess,” she said to him, feeding him the grapes in her bowl. He eagerly inquired about the goddess for he had heard stories of her power and magic from the servants in the temple.

Could she turn the hearts of men to do as she pleased?

Could she make the sun remain high in the sky so that darkness never came on the land?

Was it true about the warriors no one saw only in battle? The ones who came from air to defeat the enemies of the goddess when she commanded them?

His aunt Nucit had laughed at his questions and chided him about believing the stories of the servants.

“You know they add to what is true so that what is true is often so distorted it ceases to be true.”

The words of Nucit had confused him and he squirmed on her lap in restlessness.

“But it is true, is it not, mother? It is true that the goddess has magic.”

“Yes son, it is true,” she said, cradling his face in her hands. “But there is another truth that you must know.”

“What mother?”

“The goddess is your mother.”

Irsu recalled how suddenly it seemed as though the birds had stopped their singing and how bitter the grapes had become in his mouth. Young though he was, it seemed as though his world had fallen apart. The goddess was a strange mythical figure in a city far from him. He did not want her to be his mother. He did not want to be her son. He had fallen on the breast of his aunt and begged her to take back her words.

“You are my mother!” he wailed, wetting her dress with his tears. “You are my mother!”

Nucit had comforted him, rocking him in her arms.

“Oh I wish it were so Irsu but it is not.”

Then she had told him that the goddess had asked that she bring him back to her city to be united with her. When Irsu recovered from his anguish, he had decided to himself that he would never accept the goddess as his mother and that Nucit would be the only mother he knew.

Bringing himself back to the present, Irsu walked to the bed to touch the face of the goddess now concealed by the bindings. The scent of natron the priests had used to prepare her body and the resin that bound the linen together burned his nose but he paid no attention to them. He thought instead of the face that no more warmed with the fire of her spirit like it did the first time he had seen her in the courtyard of the temple after the journey from Opis and she lowered to him to kiss his face.

“Welcome home my son.”

He had withdrawn from her, refusing to acknowledge her kind words or the softness of her touch when her hands brushed his cheek. How many times he had turned away from her, holding instead to Nucit as the servants hurried about him, settling him into the temple that seemed greater in size than the one at Opis.

For the first time since he became a man, Irsu felt tears sting his eyes.

“Mother,” he whispered, touching the eyes forever closed to him. “Now you will love the one you loved again.”

His hand remained on her face as he thought of the one who had been his father, the one who had haunted his dreams in Opis, teaching him words and chants of magic that would impress the priests and scribes when they came in the day for his lessons. Those nightly visits had taught him about the palace that was to become his own so that when the goddess had taken him to the place during the festival of the cleansing, he had known each path and every chamber as if he had been raised there instead of Opis.

He had gone where the spirit of Ahmose had taken him those nights at Opis, the bedchamber where the secrets of those who came before him were buried. He had lifted himself on the bed of his father as the spirit had done many times to him and enjoyed the amazement of the servants, especially Amenemhet the chief servant who had fallen on his face with a surprised cry.

Irsu thought of how the years had passed and how he had grown familiar with the ways of the goddess. He would come to see their likeness and believe that she was indeed his mother. His love for her grew so that it eclipsed his regret when he learned of her part in the death of his father. He felt compassion for her when she would accept no other as consort and lover, choosing instead to mourn his father. She learned the story of their love from Nucit when she had come for the ceremony of his rites to manhood.

He was her first true love.

He learned about the pride that kept his mother and father apart until she drove her knife into his side at the battle on the red land. The victory had cost the goddess her peace and driven her to vigils in the burial chamber of his father so that she lost interest in the affairs in the land she had fought so hard to save.

“It is done now,” he said to her. “Not one of the strangers of Eshunna lives in the land.”

He promised that he would build monuments in honour of her name and the name of Ahmose, greatest of all magicians, and then withdrew from her when he heard in his spirit that the other one who mourned her had entered the temple.

The sound of running feet filled the place as Nucit, sister of Qalhata rushed into her bedchamber. Her eyes bearing signs of her weeping fell on her sister first before she saw Irsu.

“Oh Irsu,” she said brokenly, throwing herself into his arms and weeping loudly in his neck. “She is gone. My sister is no more.”

After their embrace had lasted, she rushed to the bed and flung herself against the embalmed body

“Oh daughter of my mother, you have gone and left your sister alone. How shall I live without you?”

Bowing respectfully, Irsu retreated from the chamber of the goddess, leaving his mother’s sister to mourn her in private. The temple’s priests had set out at dawn to make the funerary cry and make proclamation about the procession at noon. Irsu found his way to his ritual chamber in preparation for the last rites of his mother.

 

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

 

THE CHAMBER OF THE KING

 

Nefekhare sat in a trance, her son asleep beside her. Far off the bed stood the goddess, replescent in all her glory. Around her were the warriors who now served her and the king. A smile was on the face of the goddess as she looked at Nefekhare,

“Why do you weep?”

“I weep because you are no more,” said Nefekhare in a small voice. The tears had fried on her face, leaving streaks like the painting of ritual chalk.

“Weep not my child,” her voice clear and firm as though she still lived. “You carry the goddess in you now. I am still with you.”

“But you will journey further into the place of darkness and leave again.”

Nefekhare saw through her tears as the goddess moved through the air to stand beside her.

“Fear not Nefekhare. You will be fine, as will my son.” The spirit of the goddess turned to the sleeping baby. “And the son you have borne for my son.”

“And Irsu, he weeps. Will you not show yourself to him as you have to me mother?”

“He will find me if he wills it.”

The goddess left the bedchamber and Nefekhare fell out of her trance. Strengthened by all that she had heard from the goddess, she summoned her maiden Nit and prepared for the funeral procession for Irsu had sent word that it was in the next hour.

 

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

 

NOON HOUR

 

The people thronged from their homes, mournful expressions on their faces as the screaming mourners at the head of the procession stamped their feet and waved their hands at the heavens. The bald priests followed solemnly behind, censers in one hand and sistrums in the other. Incense gathered around them like the dark clouds that covered the sky. The rattle of their sistrums was heard throughout the city.

The king and his family walked behind the priests, regal in their headdresses and linen robes. The people hailed the king, extolling his virtues and those of the goddess. Some in the crowd wailed and fainted when they saw the sledge that carried the body of the goddess in a wooden sarcophagus. The priestesses of Men-Nefer, Edfu, Kmun and the other lower cities were present, making long the entourage with their maidens and men-servants.

The procession lasted until nearly all in the city had seen their goddess and then turned once again in the direction of the temple. The bearers carried the sarcophagus off the sledge and into the temple. In the courtyard, the royal priestesses, Nucit, Nefekhare and the temple’s priests gathered to watch the king perform the opening of the mouth for the goddess. The limb of a calf in Irsu’s hands he called to the goddess to be as she was when she lived.

“Awake! Be alert as one that lives, revived every day, healthy in god sleep while the gods and the goddesses protect you. See, hear and be!”

Once the ceremony was completed, the bearers carried the wooden sarcophagus into the burial chamber the king had built for the goddess. There they put the body of the goddess in the stone sarcophagus that bore her image. Irsu commanded the bearers to leave him when they completed their task. Alone in the burial chamber, he walked the length of the sarcophagus, touching the carved reliefs on the lower part.

“Be reborn with the one you loved, he who was my father, Ahmose. Let neither spirit nor mortal come between you. Let the errors of this life be not repeated in the next and let the heavens themselves sanction your union. Let it be!”

At the end of his incantation, Irsu felt his mother’s spirit nearby and became comforted. The goddess had taught him the ritual for speaking to those who had passed to Sekhet – Aaru. He would see her again while she remained in the realm between the earth and the heavens. He said his farewell at the door of the chamber and returned to the courtyard. There he joined Nefekhare who waited for him with a soft look in her eyes, their son cradled in her arms and the others.

The funeral banquet began soon after and all in the temple sang, eat and danced in honour of the goddess. The temple’s scribes recited the story of the goddess’s exploits recorded in the scrolls of the ancestors and the king directed that they be sent round the kingdom that the story may be known for all generations.

 

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

 

NIGERIA

MAY 25, 2015

JACOB MEWS ESTATE

YABA, LAGOS.

3 a.m

 

Omoni opened her eyes to the pale morning light filtering through the curtains, her mind trying frantically to process the incessant buzzing in her ears. It was a symphony of painful sounds, dissonant and frenzied. Her eyes wide with fear, she waited for the voice that was not her own. It did not come. Instead she heard the distant honking of buses and melee of commuters hurrying to work. She held on to the sounds, relishing the feeling of freedom for a moment.

Making a slight movement with her head, she studied her surroundings. Dirty clothes, some soiled and some torn were strewn around the room. Several pairs of shoes lay scattered across the floor and a dirty plate with dried chicken bones sat next to opened bottles of lotion on the vanity mirror.

Wrinkling her nose at the mess, Omoni struggled to get off the bed. Overcome by a wave of vertigo, she swayed from side to side. A sudden burning sensation in her stomach caused her to double over. Letting out a cry, she clutched her middle for several seconds. Her mind still in a haze, she wobbled to the bathroom, wondering how long she had gone without food. On the toilet seat, she tried to bring back the memory of the previous evening. Pictures, distorted and confusing, emerged from the haze and she squeezed her eyes tight, trying to make sense of them. She saw herself standing before a table, flipping through the contents of a file and then pacing back and forth in a place where tables sat beside chairs in neat rows. Soon there was an image of a box lifted from a parcel on her doorstep. Swamped by a feeling of unease, Omoni thought about the box for a long time.

“Where is it? God, where is it?”

A dry cough shook her and she grabbed the towel rail above her head to steady herself.

“Please God, what is in it?”

In the silence of the bathroom, Omoni felt alone. Tears slipped from her eyes and began to fall down her cheeks. Sagging against the toilet seat, she began to cry with a force that rocked her body. Clear white mucus dripped from her nose.

“God or whatever it is you are called, if you are out there, please help me.”

It was then that she heard it, a small voice, steady and reassuring. It was nothing like the other voice, the one that controlled her.

You are not alone.

Omoni’s hands balled into fists that she slammed on her knees.

“But I am. I am!”

I am here.

Hiccupping painfully, Omoni drew herself upright and dragged a hand across her face to wipe her tears.

“I don’t know what to do.”

Call your sister.

Lines appeared on Omoni’s forehead. The name Anabel rang in her mind until it became a persistent echo. She shook her head, rejecting the suggestion without knowing why.

Call her.

Omoni began to shake her head again but froze when a familiar smell filled the bathroom. The thing. It was there. Her vision began to cloud and Omoni rose from the toilet seat, jerking her panties up her thighs and rushing back to the bedroom. She searched for her phone, tremors running through her body as she felt herself losing grip on her consciousness. Pulling it from under the bed where it had fallen, she began to search desperately through her contact list. Her mouth moved wordlessly, white foamy spittle gathering at the corners.

Annabel, Annabel, Annabel.

She exhaled loudly and plopped to the floor when she found the name. The room began to spin and she felt the thing draw closer.

Fight!

Drawing strength from the command, she tapped her phone and brought it to her ear. After four rings, a wary voice answered the call.

“Hello?”

Her throat suddenly dry, Omoni swallowed.

“Annabel?”

“Yes?”

Omoni gasped as she felt something choke her.

“Yes?”

The world lurched violently beneath her, tipping her forward but Omoni managed to get the words out.

“Help me. Pastor, find – man – someone – pray for me.”

Fight!

“I can’t.”

The phone fell from Omoni’s hand and she fell backwards in a limp heap.

 

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

 

The light dimmed around the fallen woman as the guide withdrew to the corner of the room. Neferet laughed gleefully, swooping down on her host.

“She is mine!”

The guard said nothing, but there was concern on the feminine face it now wore.

Neferet screeched wildly. “I told you. She has no will.”

The guard’s voice was soft.

“She does, like you did when you lived.”

Neferet scoffed, settling into the body of her host.

“Why?”

Neferet’s eyes grew wide with incredulity.

“Why? Because I seek the revenge the Great One denies me.”

“Yet you seek the soul of he who you love.”

“Yes, that he may live with me in eternity.”

Laughing wildly, she sank deep into the soul of her host so that the body on the floor shook with convulsions before it stilled. When it rose from the floor again, it was Neferet’s smile that it wore. Sauntering to the vanity mirror, it pulled a box from one of its drawers and caressed it. After a while, it brought out a transparent vial of white powder and stared lovingly at it.

 

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

 

NICON TOWN ESTATE

LEKKI

5 a.m

IRIMA

 

Droplets of water splash on me as water hits the corner of the sink. I turn the faucet until the blast of water becomes a steady stream. Fetching my brush from the holder on the countertop, I squeeze some toothpaste on it and begin to brush. I am rinsing my mouth when Luke walks into the bathroom. Shirtless and wearing only the pants of his blue striped pyjamas, he approaches me with a smile on his face. My heart leaps as I observe the contours of his body.

“Hey.”

He stops and moves behind me to wrap me in a hug. I lean into his chest, enjoying his closeness.

“Hi.”

He kisses my neck, sending tingles all over my body.

“Slept well?”

“Yes.”

Pulling away and stretching with a yawn, he picks up his toothbrush and begins to brush. I reach across to stroke the birthmark on his side. As I do, I get a sense of déjà vu. My hearts starts to race and it is almost as if I know why it is there.

“What?”

The sound of his voice scatters my thoughts and I pull in a deep steadying breath.

“Nothing.”

He returns to stand behind me and pulls me against his chest. One hand resting on the counter top and the other on my hips, he eyes my reflection in the mirror.

“Nice dress.”

The short satin and lace nightdress is my latest effort at seducing him. Last night had been meticulously planned but he had worked late into the night, only returning to bed when I was fast asleep.

“Thank you.”

“Hmm,” he says, stroking one hardened nipple. My toes curl against the cold tile floor as my body comes alive. He holds my gaze in the mirror, giving me a slow smile. His eyes drop low, following his hand as it moves from my hip to push my dress up. I watch his eyes change in the mirror as he studies my nakedness. We both smile when our eyes meet again. I part my legs without any prodding from him and he breaks eye contact to focus on stroking his way up my thighs and between my legs. I am ready when his fingers slip inside me. I close my eyes as he intensifies his stroking, quickening and slowing his pace at the right time. Vaguely aware of him kissing my shoulder, I cry out in pleasure, grabbing tightly at the hand resting on the counter top. The world steadies when he stops his stroking.

Anchored in place by the hand now laced with my own on the countertop, I open my eyes and wait as he slips his pants downward. Just as he begins to push himself inside me, I remember what I had been planning to discuss with him.

“The security camera,” I gasp. “I think we should play the tape today.”

His brows dip and his lips turn up in an amused smile.

“I am not thinking about security cameras right now.”

“But – “

His movement is smooth and catches me by surprise. He kisses me, stopping my thoughts and my precautions in their tracks. I smile at the glint in his eyes and then begin to move against but he holds me firmly in place, dictating the speed he wants. Soon things become frenzied and he is faster and harder, pushing me to the tip of my toes. We climax together and I come apart, gasping out my feelings for him. When it is over, we stand still and struggle with our breathing.

“I love you too,” he says, kissing me one more time and slipping out of me. We shower together afterwards. He is quiet when I wash soapsuds from his back.

“What are you thinking about?”

“The cameras.”

I walk round the stall, showerhead in my hand to face him. Strong water jets hit his chest like ammunition but he gives no reaction, watching and waiting for what I have to say. I tell him what Lillian had told me the previous Friday.

“She saw her in the file room.”

“Hmm.”

“Just go through the tape. We need to know what she is up to.”

Reaching for the showerhead, Luke washes the rest of the suds off him and helps me rinse off. I follow closely on his heels as we leave the stall.

“So?”

The buzz of his electric razor fills the bathroom as he shaves.

“Luke?”

“Yes?”

I raise my voice above the sound of buzzing around us. “Are you going through the tape today or not?”

There is sudden silence as he turns the razor off and leans towards me. Our faces inches apart, he studies me for a few minutes.

“Do you trust me?”

At first I am perplexed by his question and then I nod as understanding dawns on me.

“I do.”

He nods back and kisses me briefly on the lips.

“Good. Now let’s go. We have a long day ahead.”

 

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

 

ADELABU STREET,

SURULERE, LAGOS

9 a.m

IRIMA

 

A shadow falls over me. I turn around, shoes in hand to see my mother staring broodingly at me from the doorway. I smile at her but she does not smile back. I prepare myself for whatever is to come, emptying my lungs and inhaling deeply again.

“So you have come to pack more things to stay at his place?”

The question does not come as a surprise, yet I find myself struggling to answer it.

“Irima?”

“It’s just for one week.”

“That was what you said the first time,” my mother says, her brows knotting tightly. “Now you have spent over six weeks at his place.”

I open my mouth to offer more explanations but stop when my mother shakes her head at me.

“Don’t even bother. You can’t justify this Irima.”

“I am sorry.”

“Come back home. If he likes you so much, he knows the right thing to do.”

I drop down on the bed when she leaves the room, my packing forgotten. The excitement of seeing Luke again evaporates as I mull over my mother’s words. I can’t help thinking that she is right. Living with Luke was no more about the simple task of solving the mystery of our dreams; we had become a couple without the marriage rites. I return to my packing, taking out the dresses I had slipped into it earlier and reducing my luggage.

“I will just stay for a few days until we can talk about it.”

I receive a call from Mrs. Shehu as soon as I zip my bag shut.

“Irima? Please come to the office now!”

I frown. “Why?”

“We need to talk.”

I try not to let out the sigh of frustration lodged firmly in my throat. I was running out of time. Even though Luke’s words to me early in the morning had eased my fears, something told me I needed to be at Gradias.

“Okay, but about what?”

“Gradias policy is missing. We have to reissue. I need you here to work on that. My schedule is quite tight.”

Questions haunt me after Mrs. Shehu’s call. How long had the papers been missing? Who would take them? Why today?

 

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

 

PEACHWAY ASSURANCE            

VICTORIA ISLAND

12.00 a.m

IRIMA

 

The computer printer chugs away as it spits out the first page of the document Mrs. Shehu had saved on her computer. I pick the paper up and read it. It is the application for a new policy that had come from Gradias that morning. I begin to lose focus, the letters fading to a blur as I think of Luke. Why had he not answered his phone when I called him five minutes ago? Feeling a sudden disquiet, I pull back Mrs. Shehu’s leather swivel chair and sink into it.

“Something is wrong.”

Mrs. Shehu’s call comes in just as I finish speaking.

“Can you imagine those people at Gradias? The secretary just called to let me know they have found the policy.”

I wait for the panic to subside, and when it does not, I reach for the phone again. My call is picked before the first ring ends.

“Ah thank God,” Lillian’s voice is low and strained. “I have been trying to reach you since but it says your number is not reachable.”

“Network issues. Look Lillian I want – ”

“Can you come to the office? It is important.” Lillian’s voice drops until it is barely a whisper. “I saw her putting something on a file she was preparing for Luke.”

The tightness in my chest worsens and breathing becomes hard.

“Where is Luke?”

“In his office. He has been in a meeting with the head of security, Mr. Harry and some of the directors.”

“Where is she now?”

“At her desk. Come quickly Irima. Maybe you can stop her.” There is a small hesitation before Lillian adds again, “Or just call Luke and tell him.”

“I will come.”

I gather my thing quickly, berating myself for my lack of foresight. The call from Gradias about the missing policy was no coincidence. Omoni had taken the file from the file room and kept me away from Gradias for one reason. The memory of my encounter with her at the cafeteria makes my heart beat faster. She had tried to poison Luke once. She was going to do it again.

 

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

 

GRADIAS OIL AND GAS

LEKKI, LAGOS.

12.30

 

The woman walked to Lillian, introducing herself with a smile. Lillian’s eyes widened when she heard who she was. She stole a look at the man in dark gray suit behind the woman. The man was short and had a thin face that wore a very serious look. A leather bound book was clutched to his side as he nodded at her greeting.

“You say you are her sister?”

“Yes,” the woman said, lifting her long black skirt off the floor with one hand. “Mrs. Annabel. Annabel Okorie.”

Lillian saw the resemblance in spite of the woman’s unmade face.

“Okay.”

“And this is pastor Orji,” the woman said again, stepping aside so that the man was in Lillian’s full view. The man nodded again at Lillian.

“She is in there,” Lillian said, motioning towards the door that led to the inner office.

“Can you go and tell her we are here?”

Visibly withdrawing and growing smaller under her yellow print blouse, Lillian shook her head at the duo.

“No, it’s fine. You can go in.”

The woman thanked her and walked briskly to the door, the man behind her. As soon the door closed behind them, Lillian jumped from her seat and rushed to the door. Dropping to her knees, she pressed her ears against it and waited.

 

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

 

Neferet spun around as the light grew bright. Four more guards joined the one that stood guarding the door. The ones they protected walked towards her, their expressions open and friendly. She hissed at the guards.

“Leave me!”

“Omoni?”

“I am not her.”

The intruders looked at each other and then the man took a step forward.

“You are possessed.” The man turned again to his companion. “She is possessed. I must do something now.”

Neferet frowned and then began to laugh. Lifting his hand, the man pointed to her.

“You demon from hell living in the body of this young woman, I command you to leave! Come out now!”

The laughter died on Neferet’s lips. The confidence with which the man spoke disturbed her. His aura was bright with the light of the guards and had become blinding. Picking the file off her desk with one of her gloved hands, she shook off the sparks from the light and hurried to his door. She felt herself growing weaker with every step but pushed past the guard with determination into the office where he waited with others. She would get to him. All of heaven would not stop her.

 

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

 

LUKE

 

The words die on Harry’s lips when the door flies open. Omoni approaches us, a dazed look on her face. Behind her are strangers I have never seen before. Leonard, the head of security jumps from his seat and stands in Omoni’s way.

“Stay back!”

I stare into the wild eyes fixed on me.

“Ahmose.”

The word is a plea, an eerie echo from my dreams. I am mesmerized by the strangeness of it all. It is clear to me that I know her, this strange person calling to me across the room.

“I say, stay back,” Leonard repeats, pulling out the Taser from the band of his pants and advancing threateningly towards her. I look past her to the others with her. The woman is crying, one hand on her chest and the man is frozen, eyes darting between Omoni and Leonard.

“I brought this for you Ahmose,” Omoni says, pointing the poisoned file towards me. “Come with me.”

She starts to cry, gibberish coming out rapidly from her mouth. For a minute, no one moves. Everything stills so that the room is completely silent. Then chaos happens. Omoni seems to leap into the air, jumping past the bodies in the office to meet me. There is an eruption of voices. The man with the book under his arm is screaming and commanding her to come out of her. He rushes to stop her the same time Leonard jumps on her. There is a loud thud as she falls. Unable to move, I sit observing it all. I hear Harry shouting behind me. Leonard and the man stand over her, each holding the objects in their hands – book and Taser, over her still body. The sobbing of the woman turns to a wail as she falls to her knees beside her.

“Is she dead? Please tell me she is not dead.”

Leonard kicks the file aside as the man with the book checks her pulse.

“She is alive.”

I turn to see the directors huddled together in the corner of the room. Olu, head of the procurement department pulls a handkerchief from his pocket.

“Dear Lord, that almost gave me a heart attack.”

Nnamdi, his deputy, is breathing noisily, hand on his chest.

“Thank God we bought the Tasers last month. My God!”

There is more noise as two more people join us. Lillian, the receptionist stops at the door, observing the scene with frightened eyes while Irima runs to meet me.

“Thank God,” she says, throwing herself into my arms. “I was so scared.”

I hug her tightly and close my eyes. It all made sense now.

 

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

 

OGUN STREET

BANANA ISLAND

7 p.m

 

“So you are saying this chick was possessed, not just mad?”

I lift my eyes from my glass to Jude.

“Seemed like it.”

Taking a large gulp from his glass, Jude finishes his drink.

“Makes no sense,” he says, shaking his head. “She was just mad. I mean, come on man, you can’t believe that bullshit.” His eyes turn round when I don’t answer him. “No shit, you believe it?”

I shrug. “I am not ruling anything out.”

Jude barks with laughter.

“I bet you believe in reincarnation too.”

I rub the growth of wild hair on my chin.

“Something like that.”

The amusement disappears from Jude’s face and his mouth hangs open.

“What the hell has come over you Luke?” His head swings to the side as he frowns at me. “You have changed a whole lot man. First you fall in love with that girl, and now you believe the possession, reincarnation and all that shit.”

I lean back into the chair and prop my feet up on the black cushion stool in front of me.

“This is not something I can explain Jude.”

I am relieved when he changes the subject.

“So the thing on the file was what?”

“Sodium cyanide powder.”

I watch Jude shake his head in amazement.

“How did she get it?”

“She ordered it online. I had her emails checked.”

Jude asks about the security tapes and I tell him about all I had seen that afternoon with Harry and the others.

“She has been under surveillance for a week now. It wasn’t the first time she had tampered with the files. Leonard saw her put the cyanide on the file.”

“That chick was really insane. Talk about being obsessed with poison, all those calls to your girlfriend and stalking her.”

After a thoughtful shake of head, Jude excuses himself to go to the bathroom and I sit with my thoughts for a long time. I think of the headaches every full moon, the burning where my birthmark is, my dreams, Irima’s dreams and Omoni’s possession. I think of how well it all fits, pieces of the puzzle coming together.

“So how is Bunmi?”

“She is doing great. She has found someone.”

“And Joseph?”

“He called to say he is coming back.”

Irima calls me five minutes later to talk about dinner. In the end, she sighs into the phone.

“I love you.”

Every part of me responds to her words and I trace the outline of the case in my trouser pocket, the one holding the ring I ordered the previous week.

“I am coming home.”

39 Comments

  • Tayour Posted April 16, 2017 6:58 pm

    Finally, it all comes to an end.
    Thanks again Umari for an interesting story; although it took so long to complete it, it was worth it.

    • Umari Posted April 16, 2017 8:33 pm

      Thank you dear. I just had to finish up my manuscript. Things got hectic. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  • jojo Posted April 16, 2017 7:20 pm

    I swear Umari, I have never come across a writer like u. Ur imagination is outta this world.
    Thank you for this beautiful story. Beautiful end to a fantastic story.

    God bless you.

    • Umari Posted April 16, 2017 8:35 pm

      You have always been one of those who kept me coming back here. Thank you for your support and patience. God bless you too.

  • Amara Posted April 16, 2017 8:50 pm

    Finally.. Fantastic read. .thank you umari

    • Umari Posted April 16, 2017 10:10 pm

      Thank you for reading.

  • Od Posted April 16, 2017 9:31 pm

    Umari, you have outdone yourself. Make a movie oooooooo.

    • Umari Posted April 16, 2017 10:11 pm

      Thanks dear. I will.

  • Tee Posted April 16, 2017 10:38 pm

    Well done umari, more ink to your pen

    • Umari Posted April 17, 2017 7:35 am

      Thanks dear.

  • Omokhare Posted April 16, 2017 10:55 pm

    Ppppprrrrrraaaaiiiiiisssseeee God!!! Thank you Jesus for giving Umari the strength to FINALLY finish this story. Thank you baba ni Jesu.

    • Umari Posted April 17, 2017 7:36 am

      I join you in praising God. It was not easy.

  • Viola Posted April 17, 2017 6:07 am

    Thank you Umari

    • Umari Posted April 17, 2017 7:36 am

      You are welcome dear.

  • Michelle Posted April 17, 2017 8:02 pm

    Umari the great writer. Your works always leave me satisfied and happy. Thank you for completing this work

    • Umari Posted April 17, 2017 9:48 pm

      I am glad you are happy. Thank you for reading.

  • Okagbue Posted April 18, 2017 5:03 pm

    I haven’t figured out whether you have convictions different from “conventional Christianity” and man-made dogma. Nice read! God has always been more interesting than we realise…

    • Umari Posted April 18, 2017 9:06 pm

      I believe in a supreme being. I also believe that man is part of the divine and there is more to this world than we think.

  • Jane Posted April 18, 2017 6:26 pm

    Finally, thank you for completing this story. It certainly worths the long wait.

    • Umari Posted April 18, 2017 9:07 pm

      Thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  • Zaynab Posted April 18, 2017 7:31 pm

    well done Umari! thanks for completing d story.more ink to ur pen.it has been a long ride but definitely worthwhile!

    • Umari Posted April 18, 2017 9:08 pm

      Thank you for your patience and understanding. I wouldn’t have done it without you all.

  • mutaino7 Posted April 20, 2017 10:31 am

    wow what a spendid journey.. but aunty come oh! how do write this strange language and give them meaning abi nah real language ? All the way from nairaland to here i’m never letting you go. i dey with you like tattoo.

    • Umari Posted April 20, 2017 10:58 am

      Thank you Mutaino. I appreciate your presence here always. As for the language, it is actually ancient Egyptian language. At least what I found from my research.

  • Olawunmi Posted April 21, 2017 3:26 pm

    Wow wow wow, I finally got round to finishing the story too. Weldone Umari, this is a lovely ending. Inspired by your depth of research plus that your dance helped. Thank you. Please don’t be away for too long, we are expecting to finish Unilag runs girl too. Also looking forward to the big things, novel, movie…

    • Umari Posted April 23, 2017 7:27 pm

      Thanks dear. As for the dance, I am glad it helped. 😊

      I worked on the picture for Unilag Runs Girl. Now, all I need is time. I will try not to be away for long. Promise.

      Also, if you are interested in my new novel, please visit my Twitter page for information on how to get it. It is available in Lagos and Abuja.

  • Theresa Doghor Posted April 24, 2017 7:17 pm

    Good one.

    I like the tone.

    • Umari Posted April 26, 2017 4:19 pm

      🙂

  • mariam Posted April 25, 2017 5:24 pm

    wow wow wow.
    Finally came to an end. I wish this was a movie
    I cant wait for Unilag Runs girls to continue .

    • Umari Posted April 26, 2017 4:21 pm

      I wish I could get someone to shoot it. I love the story too. About Unilag Runs Girl, we’ll see. 🙂

  • Ani Posted April 26, 2017 2:59 pm

    Umarrrriii!!!
    I decided to check after a long time.

    I was so excited to see you were back.

    How have you been? Saw on the previous post that you were ill. Hugs.

    Well done with this series.

    When is the movie coming out abeg? How does one get your book if they don’t reside in Nigeria?

    By the way, where do you get your inspiration? This series seemed quite Egyptian. Why Egypt if it.was Egypt?

    Well done again. I hope to see your works on.the big screen soon and sold worldwide. Xx

    • Umari Posted April 26, 2017 4:45 pm

      Thanks love. I survived, thank God. I want to make it a movie too. One day…

      My books will be on Amazon soon so you can purchase it.

      And why Egypt? Well, one, I have always been intrigued by ancient Egypt which was black and its role in shaping religions today. As one of the centers of knowledge, it attracted many Greek philosophers whose works shape western philosophical ideas.

      Two, it’s secret teachings and symbols influenced many schools of mystery so that mini pyramids and obelisks are recreated world over as symbols of power. An example of this is the Washington Monument.

      Lastly, it is evidence that the black race is responsible for religion, medicine, philosophy and technology as the thought process behind the pyramids continues to mystify science so that many western historians try to whitewash its history because it doesn’t quite support the theory that the African has never contributed to the advancement of the human race.

      As for your hope, it is my hope too. Xx

  • Ani Posted April 26, 2017 3:00 pm

    PS: I’m looking forward to Unilag Runs Girls. X

    • Umari Posted April 26, 2017 4:45 pm

      Me too. 🙂

  • Crystal Posted April 30, 2017 3:29 pm

    What a beautiful story. I love the ending. It didn’t feel rushed or anything yet every issue was resolved. Good triumphed. Again. That gives me hope.

    We’ll done Umari.

    • Crystal Posted April 30, 2017 3:33 pm

      Disney will soon come calling in Jesus name.

      • Umari Posted May 5, 2017 8:56 pm

        Amen!

    • Umari Posted May 5, 2017 8:56 pm

      Thanks love. You all inspire me.

  • Mena Posted October 11, 2017 10:04 pm

    Umari please I hope you’ve not abandoned your blog

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