THE SECOND SIGHT
THE FURY WITHIN
A paranormal thriller
THE LEGION REIGNS
The dog’s head came up, but was stopped short by the restraining muscles of the man, but again Bruno shook his head savagely and pulled in maddened fury.
The man screamed again, and this time his clenched fists beat helplessly against the huge head of the dog, his continuous wail a terrible sound that tortured my eardrums.
What was probably the whole of the man’s stomach and entrails were clutched in the dog’s mouth. I was dimly aware that Nicole was screaming behind me, and I was aware that the dark liquid spreading in the dim light was the man’s blood.
The man just couldn’t stop screaming.
Strangely, in that moment of confusion I wanted him to stop screaming more than I wanted to deal with the evil demons.
His screams were that bad, and they made me feel crushingly inadequate.
You vile thing!
And then the dog whirled round and saw me for the first time.
I stared into its baleful eyes, and then I saw a flicker of surprise, or fear, and then it charged me.
It jerked suddenly to a stop, as if it had ran into an invisible wall. Its eyes swept from side to side, desperately seeking an escape route.
And then it whimpered, and began to cower.
There’s nowhere to flee to, you vile piece of shit!
As it cowered I began to move toward it.
Yaw, be careful!
She moved forward and suddenly clutched my upper arm. I glanced at her, my concentration broken.
That split second was all that the Legion needed. With a growl it bounded forward, away from me, straight at the pastor and his wife.
Screaming, the two of them fell down on the bed. The body of the dog crashed into the tall French windows behind them, shattering them, and then it was out unto a small terrace.
I shook myself free of Nicole and bounded after it.
I was aware that I was running barefoot over broken glass, but I felt no cuts. The dog vaulted over the railing and fell off.
I followed, and leapt off the railing.
The dog’s head seemed to twist round entirely and glared up at me. The anger was the adrenaline that drove me forward.
Gone was the fear. The only thing I wanted to do was to get hold of it and tear it to pieces.
We fell two floors unto the soft green grass below. The dog whirled at me, growling, and saw the look on my face. It took frantic steps back, its growls reduced to whimpering again. I was still crouching, and my right hand came up, pointing at it.
You vile shit! This night you shall know the power of the Lord.
Basically that was all I got out.
Suddenly Bruno’s neck began to elongate. It was as if a giant had taken hold of his head and was pulling it off.
I knew I had to act, to do something, but I was once again paralyzed by the sheer evil of what I was seeing. The dog’s neck became longer and narrower as its head was forcibly pulled outward.
And then the huge head was torn off the dog’s body. It fell on the grass, rolled a few feet, and came to a stop, tongue still beating rapidly in its delayed agony throes.
The body of the dog fell, blood pumping out of its neck, its legs jerking spasmodically, its tail beating a rapid tattoo on the grass.
There was a flap of wings above me, and I looked up to see a huge crow … the big ugly white crow … passing just over my head.
And then, thrown vividly against the wall, I saw that shadow – the same three legged, three-fingered horned piece of garbage – and it was moving swiftly.
The shadow of the crow was also thrown against the wall, and the Shadow-Thing leapt. It merged with the crow, and with another mighty thrust of its wings it swung savagely away, gaining height in a kind of diagonal flight.
And I watched it go.
I saw its crimson eyes staring down balefully at me as it rose higher and higher into the night sky.
I could have commanded it down. I could have transported my soul out of my body and gone after it. I could have done a dozen things right.
Instead my limp body stayed on the grass, and my stomach lurched as I vomited all over the green mass and on my own right foot.
There was no strength left in me. All the energy had left my body, and I fell down limply.
My body began to shake hard. My breath was short, and more sweat poured off me.
My stomach lurched again, and I vomited some more.
I tried to push it away, but I couldn’t.
Yes, I had seen those eyes, and beheld what that thing was capable of doing. My confidence suddenly deserted me, and I had very serious doubts now about my ability to stand another encounter with that demon.
I didn’t know how long I stayed crouched down in the grass whilst the screams of the gutted man washed down to me through the broken window.
The nightmarish stupor only left me when I heard the sirens.
Medical staff … and cops!
I got to my feet instantly.
I dragged Bruno across the grass to the edge of the trees, and came back for his head. By the time I got to the edge of the trees again the ambulance had rolled into the yard and white-clothed medical guys were getting out their gear.
When I returned to the house I saw Bonner and Paul Anderson Junior walking toward me.
The young Paul was holding a shovel.
Thought you might need this.
Bonner said gravely, indicating the shovel with a slight thrust of his head. The harsh lines of his face revealed the deep sorrow he was feeling.
Who’s that man? How’s he doing? Will he pull through?
I asked as I took the shovel from the trembling hands of the young man
His name was Bruce Andoh. He was one of our pastors. He was stationed at Apremdo. We recalled him for re-posting because he ran into some headaches with the local congregation. He reported last night, and we were going to meet him this morning, you know, point out a few of his shortcomings and stuff like that before posting him to another assembly.
I shuddered and exhaled, staring at him with my face all screwed up.
He bled to death. Do what you got to do, Yaw. The cops’ll be here pretty soon.
For a moment I stared at him, my gaze questioning.
The cop – if it is that Chief Inspector Frost – might want to know how the dog died. Just bury Bruno, and we’ll tell him you shot him with Andoh’s gun. I figured that a blast in the neck from a double-barreled gun might just explain the decapitated head of the dog.
I stared at him dumbly.
He had not even seen Bruno’s body, but he knew how the dog had died.
He was a Seer.
You saw what happened.
(nodding his grey head)
I saw. I just think it might be a little awkward explaining what really happened to the dog to Frost. He’s a pagan who believes in evolution. God doesn’t figure in his scheme of affairs.
I thought the cops here were selected by some special kind of council, and that they were all Christians. Explains why Portville has one of the lowest crime rates ever.
Frost’s good at what he does. He was transferred here after he lost his wife. A demented man he sent to jail was released on parole and the first thing he did was follow Frost’s missus to a supermarket and strangle her. The murdering devil claimed in court later that he was a self-proclaimed Messiah of God sent out to clean the world of filth, but actually he was a mad man through and through. We thought having Frost here would give us the opportunity of turning him toward God, but the loss of his wife affected him too much, and now he believes all Christians are criminals underneath. Would’ve been unfair to request that he be transferred out of Portville again after fruitlessly trying to convert him for years. We still have hopes that one day he would turn out a true believer. Remember to handle the shotgun when you get it. You have to get your fingerprints on it.
I stared at him a moment longer, and then I nodded with understanding.
I turned and left them.
The hole I dug was deep, and I pushed Bruno into it gently. I had to lean forward to drop the head, and then I covered it up, stomping all over it to give it a good solid look.
Finally I stood back and surveyed my handiwork, nodded with satisfaction, and then headed back toward the house.
From far away I heard the sirens again, and I wondered if Chief Inspector Frost was on his way to the grounds.
It was time to get my fingerprints on the shotgun.
Police Chief Inspector Jack Frost turned out to be a tall narrow man who chain-smoked.
Even at dawn he was impeccably dressed in a dark suit, clean shirt, grey tie and a dark Stetson. His long narrow face was completely cold, and his dark eyes were sharp, at times appearing to be staring straight into one’s soul.
There were huge bags underneath his eyes, and his complexion had the dark glint of one who spent a lot of hours outdoors. He didn’t take off his hat, but I saw that he was graying at the temples. I put him in his late fifties.
Chief Inspector Jack Frost was not only cold and apparently competent, but also a very hard man indeed.
His assistant was Sergeant Kweku Abbiw.
He was the complete opposite of Frost. Short, fat, pot-bellied and wearing a crumpled dark trousers and a green cardigan over yellow shirt which poked out unfashionably underneath his cardigan simply because the cardigan was inches too small for his obese frame.
He had a double chin, was bespectacled – he had one of those glasses which had round thick lenses which made the eyes appear recessed and foxy – and had the annoying habit of licking his lips rapidly and poking the tip of his tongue through his lips as he listened or thought of something.
I was in the shower when Junior came and told me they had arrived and were waiting in the living-room. I dressed quickly and stepped out.
Bonner had organized a quick meeting where we had all agreed on what to say, and when I entered the living-room I sought out the old man. He was sitting in a manual wheel-chair by the tall French windows, and he gave me a little nod as the cops moved toward me.
I could feel the fear in that room.
Pastor Anderson and his wife were sitting in a wide sofa, and Nicole perched on the arm of the seat and was holding unto her mother’s hand. She had pulled on a white bathing robe over her negligee, and she cut a spectacular figure even at that time of day.
The servants were huddled close together, still shaking.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Mr. Yaw Boat. I recognize you. You killed the dog. We have the gun. Would you please step outside with me for a moment?
As we made our way toward the door Nicole and Bonner began to rise at the same time.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
No, you stay here.
His lips barely moved, and he didn’t break stride, but the authority was there in his voice. I understood then why Bonner had been so apprehensive about him.
He was a hard uncompromising man.
I noticed that their police sedan was huge and clean.
Black, powerful … a man’s car.
His deputy spoke behind me suddenly, startling me.
I had not seen him behind me.
Would you mind stating your name, address, age and purpose in Portville for the record, sir?
His voice was a screechy discord that I disliked immediately.
I reeled off the information.
Frost walked across the lawn, paused, and spoke with his back to me.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Tell me what happened, Mr. Boat.
It was basic.
The dog had gone mad, probably rabid. Its bark had woken me up, I had rushed into the pastor’s room, and found Bruce Andoh about to shoot it.
His bullets had missed, and the dog had attacked him. It had then jumped out of the windows. I had taken Andoh’s gun, rushed outside and found the dog on the lawn. It had tried to attack me and I had shot it.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Where did you shoot it, Mr. Boat? Head, chest, body?
As he spoke he was turning to face me, the shadows and the hat making his face almost invisible. He reminded me of one of the hit men in some of the old gangster clips, the James Cagney kind of movies.
I don’t really know. I think it took both bullets in the head. It was almost on me, see, and I had just a split second to react.
The words seemed to drag through my teeth.
Suddenly some of my confidence seemed to erode, and I found myself somewhat on the defensive.
I guessed Frost was that kind of man; he wasn’t really huge, but he had an imposing presence.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
What happened next?
His voice was still soft, but the in the semi-shadows his eyes seemed to glint.
I buried it. The family loved him very much, especially Junior, and I figured it might be a good idea to bury it before they saw him the way he was.
A mad dog chews a man for dinner and you bury it? Boy, talk about the age of dumbness. Did it ever occur to you that there’s such a thing as police procedure in cases like these and that there’s such a thing as collecting evidence and ascertaining facts prior to writing reports? Did it even occur to you that in circumstances like these it is always necessary to find out what happened to the dog so that preventive measures could be taken, especially if it turns out that whatever happened to it could or have already affected other dogs, hmm?
It took all my self-control from swinging round and burying a fist into his gut.
Instead I shrugged in what I hoped was a self-deprecating way, and smiled nervously.
Well, I don’t know, I wasn’t thinking right I guess. I didn’t think it was a crime, you know. Just thought it was an unfortunate affair. Sorry. The grave is right there on the edge of the trees. Maybe you would like to have it opened up again?
A STRANGE TOUCH
Frost took quick steps toward me and stopped within touching distance.
As tall as he was, he stood almost a whole head shorter than I was, and a lot leaner.
I could probably have taken him out if it ever came to that, but he still gave that impression of a man totally in control of himself, and I felt slightly at a disadvantage.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
I hate smart-ass guys, Mr. Boat. Those Christian freaks in there are lying, and so are you. Bruno rabid? Horseshit! That dog’s probably the fittest and healthiest pet in the whole of Portville. And the friendliest too. Been known to take to every kid. Incidentally the Vet that takes care of our police dogs also attends to Bruno, and I called him before coming here. Turns out that Bruno had his shots only a month ago, and rabies vaccination was one of them. You’re all a bunch of fucking liars, that’s what you are. Now, tell me what the fuck really happened.
I put my hands into my pocket.
Now he was on my home turf, playing hardball. He might be mean, but I had had run-ins with tougher cops.
Being in Portville, with all its delicate trimmings and washed outlook had floored me for a while, but now I welcomed his animosity and moved toward it.
It helped clear my head, and for that I was secretly grateful.
Didn’t your Vet also tell you that those shots aren’t a guarantee that a dog can’t go bonkers? Maybe it wasn’t rabid. Maybe it had some tumors in the brain, or it got infected with something toxic. I don’t know; the possibilities are huge. All that I know is that it went crazy, attacked a man, tried to chew me up and I shot it.
And that’s why you should’ve left the body here and not buried it, asshole.
There was so much a man could take, and I swirled on him so fast that he jumped back, his jowls shaking with alarm. I saw the sudden fear in his magnified eyes, and that was enough for me.
I won’t warn you a second time, Sergeant.
I had the satisfaction of seeing him swallow.
I saw him struggling to come out with a sharp retort, to reaffirm his authority, but he cast a quick look at Frost first, and suddenly I understood it all.
Abbiw was the boy who had always been accused of lacking character. Working with the hard-hitting Frost might be a great challenge to him.
Frost was probably his hero, possessing the kind of quiet toughness that Abbiw so envied, and as a result he was what he was: a weak man trying desperately to ride the tides.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
The dog indeed attacked Andoh, which I don’t dispute. What I don’t understand is why a gentle docile dog would suddenly go berserk. But that’s all for now, Mr. Boat. But do stick around ‘cause you’ll hear from me again. C’mon, Abdul.
Abbiw was searching for a parting jab, and I glared at him. He tried to hold my gaze with a tough one of his own, but after a moment he turned round and followed Frost, his fat ass jiggling.
Only when the lights of their sedan vanished around the curve in the path did I breathe easy.
He didn’t buy it, did he?
I almost jumped at the sound of Bonner’s voice.
I turned round quickly, a little disconcerted.
My nerves were drawn taut, and the incident with Andoh and Bruno was still playing havoc with my senses.
Sorry, son, didn’t mean to startle you.
He gave a mighty sneeze.
He fumbled a huge handkerchief out of his breast pocket and blew his nose.
Coming down with a cold, I think. Nasty weather. Beware of Jack Frost – he’s a tough one.
I know. He didn’t buy our story. You know what, I had the strange feeling that he knew exactly what happened.
The old man nodded.
Maybe he did, but I doubt it. He’s aware that something heavy went down, but he’s also convinced that there was no evil motive behind it, or that any of us had anything to do with it. In his own way he respects the secrets of the church.
There was a little silence between us.
So what now?
I shuddered in the sudden chill.
He sneezed again, discharging a thin trail of phlegm down his right nostril.
He took out his hankie and carefully wiped it off.
We wait, son. Paul and his wife are understandably freaked out, and I want you to keep a keener eye on them. We want you to have an upstairs room next to theirs. He’s afraid to step out, but he can’t hide forever. The congregation needs him. The Legion will be back, of course, and that’s why you have to be with them all the time. I better get inside now; the weather ain’t helping my cold none.
We walked toward the door together.
The Legion is not a priority, son. You failed your call today.
He spoke suddenly, for a moment disorienting me with his sudden change of topic.
I stopped and looked at him, and I was alarmed at the quick anger that flooded me. It was anger born out of secret guilt, I knew, because ever since Andoh died I had been having troubled thoughts.
I felt as if there was something I could’ve done – something really important – but I had missed it.
Now wait a moment, Pastor Bonner! What are you talking about?
He faced me.
You’re in the battle zone now, son, never forget that. A man was down, dying, and you went after the Legion which was fleeing. Your fight with the Legion is secondary. Next time stay with the victim; you could’ve done a lot for him.
What’re you talking about? The man’s stomach had been chewed away, and he was bleeding badly. What possibly could I have done about it?
Without a word he held up his hand, and I saw a razor blade glinting in his left hand. Without warning his hand dove down, and he sliced the razor blade on the back of his right hand which was holding unto the cane.
Hey, shit! What did you do that for?
I shouted with horror, taking a step back, sick to my stomach.
Blood spouted across the back of his hand, pouring down the sides. He transferred the cane to his left hand and held out his bleeding hand, thrusting it at me.
(voice like a whiplash)
Take my hand! Now!
I took his bleeding hand, covering it with my right hand. I felt a tingle in the palm of my hand, something like a slight burning, like the pain you feel when steam from the kettle flashed across your skin briefly.
He drew his hand away and rubbed the back of his hand – the bleeding one, the one he had cut with the razor – vigorously down the front of his gown, and then he held it out again.
The skin had closed. It was old and gnarled, puckered with age, yes … but there was no wound, no razor cut, and certainly no more blood.
I looked down at my hand.
My palm was still covered with his blood.
It was a staggering moment, and I felt very faint and sick. I took faltering steps backward, sudden sweat forming on my face.
You underestimate the power God has given you, boy. Your gift is unique. You’ve been given so much power, more than any Unblind I have ever met! You even have the gift of healing!
Stay away from me! Just stay the fuck away from me!
I turned and walked quickly away from him. I faintly heard the door closing, and figured he had gone inside.
I sank to my knees slowly to the grass, feeling the dawn dew soaking into the knees of my trousers. I took great wheezing breaths. I was choking, and my head was bursting. I felt the stickiness in my clenched fist.
Broken skin, somehow healed again!
Suddenly, overcome with a blinding ache, I brushed my hands on the wet grass furiously, wanting – needing – to have his blood off me, every little trace of it!
Dear Lord, what’re you doing to me … what the hell is happening to me?
Cool fingers suddenly touched the nape of my neck. Soft sweet feminine perfume flooded me – jasmine, yes, jasmine.
Nicole. Yes, it is her behind me.
… a man was down, dying, and you went after the Legion which was fleeing. Your fight with the Legion is secondary. Next time stay with the victim; you could’ve done a lot for him…
Oh God, no!
JASMINE MEANS HER
I turned, still on my knees, and grabbed her around the waist.
I pressed the side of my head tightly, violently, desperately against her tummy. I was trembling badly, and her cool fingers touched my face and neck, and then she took my head and pressed it gently against her warmth.
It’s okay, Yaw. Everything is fine.
I held her for a long time until my heart stopped pounding and my shivering stopped, and then I got to my feet slowly.
I couldn’t look at her, not without her seeing just how deeply I had come to care for her.
I reached out, patted her right cheek tenderly.
No, Nicole, not now!
I said as gently as I could, and hurried away from her.
I went straight to my room and locked the door, and then I did the most sanest thing my heart was telling me to do.
I knelt by the side of my bed, clasped my hands in front of me, closed my eyes… and prayed as I had never prayed before.
I opened my heart out to the Almighty Creator above.
I poured out my fears, my soul, my wants, my weaknesses.
And then, quite exhausted, I fell unto the bed and slept.
But there was a calm warmth in my heart since that day.
Bonner filled in the days by teaching me how to use the awesome power I was suddenly endowed with. After the massive shock had worn off, and after my soul-baring prayer, I wearily accepted the fact that I was different, and that somehow my life had altered its course. Nothing would be the same for me again.
I could not even live a normal life.
I didn’t want to dwell too much on what would happen to me because I knew that somehow, despite the power I had, my life would never be completely happy. I was limited by it, and would spend every single day of my life trying to live with it, to control it.
The fact of the matter was that I didn’t believe any human should be given that much power. In itself it was a lethal weapon that could lead to self-destruction.
I was beginning to understand why so many Unblinds had fallen by giving in to the most basic of sins and thus allowing holes in their otherwise impenetrable armours.
We all knew the Legion had come for Anderson, and had been scared off by my presence. At least that was how Bonner put it, but I didn’t buy that completely.
I had seen those eyes, and they hadn’t looked scared to me. That vile thing had been prepared for a confrontation, and somehow I knew deep down within me that soon it would turn its fury on me and try to usurp my influence and then move in for the kill.
Two weeks dragged by after the deaths of Andoh and Bruno.
My days were spent always close to Anderson, but it wasn’t a particularly satisfactory arrangement for me because Bonner told me that if the Legion was scared enough it could leave Anderson alone for weeks, months or even years, and when I was not around it would come back.
I didn’t want to spend ages as the spiritual guard of a pastor who had lost his mettle. I could grow old just shepherding him around, and I didn’t like that.
I reminded Bonner of the demon which had tracked me down to my hotel room in Jackson Peak. I told him how somehow I had been guided by the strange power within me to track it down to Samantha Gaisie and dealt with it.
And your point is?
I think I should go out there and look for the Legion. I think it is pretty useless following Pastor Anderson around. You said it yourself. The Legion could be out of Portville right now, not intending to come back pretty soon. If I do have the powers you’ve been espousing, then I think I can track it down and put all of us out of this misery.
True enough. I’ve thought about that myself, but right now the congregation needs Paul. He has to prepare for the Christmas conventions. He needs to see them, and receive them when they visit. For the last couple of months they have had to do with junior pastors, and already we’ve heard tales of their impatience and their worries. You kill a church that way, son, if you allow the flock to thirst and hunger for a leader. No, please stay with Paul. He’s only confident when you’re around, a sad fact, I know, but that’s how it is. You have to be patient. Things will work out fine. If, and this is a strong if, mind you, the Legion does not put in an appearance by the time the conventions are over, you can go after it.
But do you think the Legion could come before that?
His gaze was direct and strong and unwavering.
It hasn’t left, son. It is still here. It will make its stance here because it sensed your fear the last time you met. It is stalking you now.
And that was that.
It wasn’t really a surprise to me because deep down I knew it, and had unconsciously accepted that inevitability. I was rapidly and unequivocally approaching that final cataclysmic explosion … and I was horrified.
And then there was Nicole.
The feel of my face against her flat, firm belly had been like an indelible mark on my face.
If the days were bearable it was because she was there. I loathed the mornings when she had to go to work, and craved the evenings when she returned home.
Sometimes she came straight to the church where I would be with her father, and sometimes I met her at home.
There were times when she was unreasonably late – when I assumed she was with that incorrigible Andrew Okai – and I would fret with childish jealousy.
I had almost come clean with her one day when we had been together in the garden, one sweet tangible night when I had almost crushed her against me and confessed my inner cravings to her.
I had felt a little awkward in her presence, with her so close and me remembering how soft she had been, how lovely, how so ethereal she looked.
She had taken me out briefly on some evenings, showing me some of the delightful sights of Portville. She even took me out one weekend to some of her favourite spots where she had frequented as a child.
One night, after everybody had gone to bed, I had been feeling stressed out.
I had tossed in bed restlessly, my soul a reluctant spirit that refused to be stilled. Finally I had gotten up, pulled on a pair of jeans and a cardigan and walked out.
I was now in the room Andoh had occupied, which was almost directly opposite the master bedroom of the Andersons.
It had been Bonner’s arrangement, and we had all accepted it. Three doors down the hallway was Nicole’s bedroom. I could see faint golden light seeping under her door unto the dark hallway.
I wondered if she was still up or had fallen asleep without turning off her lights.
I had wandered downstairs and found myself finally in the garden.
I entered one of the summer huts and sat down on a comfortable chair. It was a huge circular cane chair with a soft hollowed cushion in it. I stretched out, and as the cold seeped into me and the air caressed my face I found myself relaxing, my anxiety melting slowly.
I closed my eyes and found sleep lulling me into a comfortable place. I allowed myself to be caressed, welcoming the enveloping cocoon until …
Jasmine … the scent of jasmine.
I fought my way up from the nice place my brain was now dwelling in, and opened my eyes drowsily.
She was standing there, wearing a huge latex coat that hid whatever she was wearing underneath. The garden bulb cast a soft glow on her awesome features and as I stared up at her she looked like an angel.
We stayed like that for a long time; she standing there staring at me wordlessly, me lying there and gawking.
(softly, gently, passionately)
Her expression was inscrutable, and for a while longer she stood there staring down at me.
Finally she moved forward, dragged one of the cane chairs next to mine, took off her coat and sank down gently into it.
She was also in jeans and a heavy sweater. She curled up in the chair, just inches from me.
MATTERS OF THE HEART
For a moment I found it hard to breathe.
I was overwhelmed by the effect she had on me. The tension between us was as electric as it was totally exhilarating. The ache in my heart was such that I wanted to turn and sweep her into my arms and never let her go.
This feeling was not like any I had ever had.
With Elaine I had been more attracted by her incredible physical beauty, and a great urge to flaunt her, more as an asset than anything else.
Owning a woman like Elaine would have brought its perks and egos, more of a shoulder-high tempo, but with this lady, I was beginning to understand a whole set of longing, needing, wanting and craving for permanency.
It was kind of bad, because recently it seemed she was always on my mind, and my heart just craved to be merged with her.
I trembled, but it was not from the cold.
And then she moved, one of her hands reaching out and taking mine. I curled my fingers around hers.
The touch was … powerful!
No words, no other gestures, no other body contacts. Just our interlaced fingers, tightening around each other, relaxing, tightening, clasping, holding, moving.
And as my heart raced I knew…I finally knew!
The monster I had ran from all my life, the evil I had dreaded and convinced myself I would never be a victim of … had finally found me. I was lost. My heart and my days would be for her forever, if she wanted them.
What was that feeling? An overwhelming urge to be by her side for eternity, to hold and cherish, to protect and caress, to make her happy forever, to see her smile all the time.
Elaine would have been a trophy…
Nicole was a life…
That was a most dangerous moment because just then I almost swept her into my arms and confessed what I felt for her.
If it was love, then for the very first time in my life I was in love. I had stared into heaven, and I was addicted.
It would be her … for eternity.
In the harsh light of the morning however I realized that what I felt for her was pretty hopeless because she was for another man – a more suited man, if I should be frank with myself.
Okai had two normal eyes; heck, the only abnormal thing the guy would ever see was his own shadow … plus, he was an heir to an empire, and probably a very romantic kind of guy. He would always be home, present when she needed him.
He wouldn’t be looking over his shoulders all the time, or shudder with fear anytime he saw demons partying in town. The Unblind’s life, I was fast beginning to realize, was a hard and lonely one, and I just couldn’t tie her down to it even if, in the most remote of chances, she agreed to be with me.
I stared reality in the face: she and I had no future together.
If I really loved her, then I would have to spare her that horror. She couldn’t go down the same path her mother had trodden. Like an exotic bird her true beauty and strength could be seen when she was soaring free in the sky, and not confined by the sharp edges of a cage.
As painful as it was, as unbearable as the consequences might be, I knew that the best thing to do, if I really wanted her to be happy in life, was to leave the waters untouched.
Her life would follow its chartered course – the one she was obviously used to – which would invariably end in marriage to Andrew Okai.
So we held hands, and later walked back to the house holding hands, and parted with deep looks at each other, but we were both silence, probably coming to the same conclusions.
I watched her walk to her room, and I entered mine, and my heart had never been so lonely.
Oh, Love…how bitter can you be sometimes!
Another Sunday came by.
It was time for church, and I smiled a little ruefully as I got dressed. Who would’ve thought a day would dawn when going to church to really worship and praise that divine God above would fill me with such tingling anticipation and urge?
But it had really happened.
The hours I spent with Bonner and the literature he forced me to read revealed things I had never known about God. Not very long ago I had thought the
Gospel was some sort of nonsense spewed out by crazy zealots.
Not so now; I knew better, and I appreciated the silent little truths that had always confused me but which I had never really paid any heed to. Truths like how the world came to be, who created the absolutely wonderful sea that stretched from continent to continent?
Just believing that the world evolved sounded good, and put to rest a whole lot of crazy questions that otherwise would have driven mankind mad.
Now it made perfect sense, and I craved to learn more. Each day at church was a revelation. I came to realize that I loved the worship sessions the best.
They were moments of great bliss, similar to climbing a hill slowly and then cresting it and finding a wealth of breathtaking grandeur spread below. I loved the highly-charged songs, the deep meditation and the total proclamation of the might of an unseen powerful figure above.
Nicole rode with her mother and brother in their Lexus whilst I used my Chrysler. Anderson was in the backseat whilst Bonner, as always, sat in front with me.
As usual I helped Bonner into the seat, and just as I closed the door Nicole approached me from the main house.
She looked absolutely stunning in a simple white dress – the type that looked so elegant and simple but in truth were quite expensive pieces of art – and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, exposing the amazing planes of her face which was proof of the perfect symmetry of her features.
Her makeup was slight, but then again she didn’t really need makeup. She was one of those few women who were naturally beautiful, and always dazzled whether they were waking up from a deep slumber or dressing for a great function.
She handed me a huge, black shiny Bible.
I think it is time you owned your first Bible, Yaw Boat.
Thanks a lot. I really appreciate this.
I took the Bible, reveling in the tingling pleasure of her fingers touching mine as I took it from her.
It was a perfectly normal thing to do, I guess, one Christian giving another a gift, especially a Bible.
There was nothing to it, really, but it meant a lot to me.
It meant so much to me that it kind of caused one of those painful lumps in my throat – the kind of lump you got when you watched a tear-jerker of a movie with the girls and you didn’t want them to see you were dying for a good cry – yeah, and I felt all confused and suddenly sentimental.
For a moment our eyes met, and locked. Space was undefined and time stood still. It was a charged moment that threatened to sweep us along with its powerful tides.
I whispered – or tried to whisper – her name, but then she stepped back and put a gentle hand on my right upper-arm.
She held it there for a moment, no gripping touch, just her lovely little hand on my hard big arm. I wanted so much to take her hand and kiss her palm and the insides of her elbows, or some silly thing like that.
Jasmine is her!
Her perfume was a gentle caress that dulled my resolves, and for a wild crazy moment I feared I might give everything away.
Let’s go to church, Yaw.
And with that she turned and walked to the Lexus.
I wanted her back!
I wanted her that close, that sweet. I wanted to undo her ponytail and let her hair flow free, and I wanted to hold her close and bury my face in the crook of her neck and shoulder for hours.
I carefully got into the Chrysler.
Already the Lexus was pulling out. My hands were not quite steady as I reached in the back to put my new Bible on the seat. I jabbed at the ignition two times before I got the key into it.
(with a chuckle)
If you love her that much just go ahead and tell her so.
I swirled on him, startled.
His lined face was calm and knowing as he looked at me.
What in the name of Dickens are you talking about?
Oh, come off it, you pretender! Everybody can see you love her. Stop deluding yourself and admit you’re in love with her.
I could feel the heat rising up around my neck as I looked furtively into the driving mirror, trying to see how Paul Anderson was taking it all.
For a senior man of God I must admit you do have a one-track unclean mind. You should know she and Andrew Okai are going to get married.
THE ELDERLY WOMAN
Bonner gave me an odd look and shook his head, his expression one of contempt.
Birdshit. Andrew Okai is a pampered little sissy who can’t clean his own dripping nose even with the hide of an elephant.
I looked at him, startled, and then I heard Paul Anderson laughing softly in the backseat.
I joined in after a moment, and before long we were all guffawing with such mad intensity that after a moment it began to scare me.
For that particular point in time the Legion was forgotten, and all the horrors took backstage. What prevailed was the hilarity of an ancient pastor using a curse word to describe his fellow human being, and it triggered off a bout of carefree abandonment and a total period of mirth inside the car.
I had never heard Paul Anderson laugh, and the deep pleasant tones of his voice in laughter was a moment of triumph, albeit a little one at that, but still a triumph over the constricting fear of the Legion.
Maybe he felt it too, because his preaching in church that day was with a different spirit, and it reached out to the hearts of the congregation.
I heard from snippets of conversation how they described him that day. They were happy – and relieved – that their pastor was back with a ‘new anointing.’
Perhaps the only sore point that day was Mrs. Shirley Okai, Andrew’s mother.
The old hawk had somehow gotten it into her ancient head that she could get me if she tried hard enough, and she seized every opportunity to make a play at me.
It seemed she had informed three or four of her equally ancient friends, and to see them all sitting in a row with their false giggles, fluttering eyelids and shaky voices they believed were sexy, was something rather terrible to behold.
Not that they were that old; no, in the past I had bedded women who could have been twice the ages of Shirley and her cronies. They dressed well, and had aged well. They were the type of women who pretended to be Christians because they wanted the respect that went with it.
Alone however, their lives were different, filled with one obscene episode to the next. That sickened me, and that was what made Shirley Okai so repulsive to me.
And yet she would not give up; her harassment was consistent and sometimes so blatant that I felt utterly nervous around her.
Sometimes I was sorely tempted to cut her down cruelly and burst her little bubble – that was something the old Yaw Boat would have done without the least compulsion – but I was aware that doing that would’ve marred the excellent relationship she enjoyed with Anderson and his wife, and of course Nicole.
I had tried on several occasions to be firm with her, but it seemed she didn’t know how to give up, and she only always came back for more.
There was this wonderful garden just behind the main church building. It was a beautiful garden, and they had done a great job keeping it neat and mature.
The feeling one got upon entering it for the first time was an overwhelming sense of blissful peace, and thereafter a sublime feeling of being welcomed.
The flowers were exotic and their combined scents were gentle fragrances that seduced one’s senses and provided a gently caressing touch on the brain. It had a small pond that was always kept clean, and which often had huge white ducks swimming in.
Most Sundays I always wandered into the garden after church. These were occasions where Anderson and Bonner for one reason or the other would be in a closed-door meeting with their church elders and ministers.
That Sunday the old man told me they were meeting to discuss Andoh’s death and a date for his burial – among other matters, of course.
I went to the garden, partly because I knew the Legion could never strike Anderson in the house of God, definitely not when he was surrounded by so many good Christians.
I sat down on a narrow wooden bench facing the pond and watched the ducks.
I pushed all thoughts out of my head and enjoyed the day. The atmosphere was serene and peaceful.
On the opposite side of the pond two aged men were sitting on the grass, sipping orange juice through tall straws.
Behind them was the huge swimming pool which had a sort of metallic barrier around it; Nicole had informed me that the barrier could be electronically lowered.
No one ever swam in that pool; it was reserved for baptismal rites.
After a moment I became a little tired of watching the ducks and breathing in the wonderful sight of the garden, and I tilted my head back on the bench and gazed lazily into the sky.
Far into the skies indistinct birds soared majestically, and for a crazy moment I was assailed by a poignant urge to be free of all my troubles. I wanted to soar high into the clouds and never come back to earth.
Many minutes later, when I was beginning to doze, my nostrils were suddenly assaulted by a heady kind of perfume, strong enough to be a man’s, and then, quite suddenly, I felt slender arms going around my neck, and then she leaned over my startled face and planted wet slobbery lips on mine.
Mrs. Shirley Okai was on the scene.
My first reaction was one of great annoyance and instant revulsion. I wanted to pull her down unto my knees and give her a good spanking.
The feeling was so strong that I found my right hand traveling upward, catching hold of one of her arms and tightening on it.
I had known a girl once, a long time ago, when I was in secondary school sixth form.
I couldn’t remember her name, but she had been a real ugly one. Her skin had been bad, her face worse, and her body as lean and straight as a beanpole.
She hadn’t helped herself any by her constantly scowling face. People had sort of given her names, bad ones, and secondary school life had been an awful experience for her – or so I thought.
To me she had looked really innocent, and I had pitied her, and tried to be her friend just to make others lay off her.
She had been innocent, until she got me into her apartment on one pretext or the other. Maybe she had convinced me to help her out on the delicate issues about a history topic.
I had been a good student, and history had been one of my best subjects, and I had been a sort of authority on it. I had felt sorry for her somehow, and had followed her into her apartment.
She had locked the door and removed the key, but I hadn’t been bothered because I could’ve broken her into two with a snap of my fingers.
She had offered me a drink, and before the glass was half empty I had known she had done something real bad with that drink.
My vision had started blurring, and my words had been dragged out as if someone had stuffed wool into my mouth. I hadn’t been completely out, though, and I had actually seen her dragging me to a bed and hauling me on it, and in my drooling slurring condition I had wondered at the extreme strength she had packed in those skinny arms.
She had taken off my clothes and tied me up, securely, spread-eagled on that damn bed, and I hadn’t been able to do whit about it.
She had done a lot of stuff with me that night. Funny thing was, my brain and body rejected her, even in that kind of stupor, but that single part of me that mattered most had responded to her gentle touches and caresses.
Naked, she had looked even worse, and I had noticed that she had not looked at my face throughout the whole sordid experience.
Whatever she had laced my drink with might have been something awfully powerful, because I stayed in that semi-coma condition for a long time. Time and again she had concentrated on that part of me, getting it hard enough, then straddling me and riding herself to her obscene pleasure.
Even when she was in that intense state of orgasm she had controlled herself. Her body would go rigid, she would throw her head back with her eyes closed, grasp her non-existent breasts and tremble violently, letting no sound emerge.
She would then get up, sit on the bed and look at my deflated organ, never taking her eyes off it, waiting for a few minutes, and then beginning all over again.
At last, when she was quite tired, she had opened the door, untied me, and had left the apartment quietly.
Somewhere in the morning the drug had finally left my body, and I had gotten up groggily. I got dressed and left her apartment.
No one had known about it, and I hadn’t seen her again until a week later. She had gone about her business as usual, as ugly as always, as scowling as ever but by then I had realized that mixed with my revulsion of her was a certain level of fear.
A TIME TO BEG
That was exactly what was happening now.
I was filled with revulsion, and I wanted to drag Mrs. Shirley Okai off my face, but once my hand clutched her arm something terrible happened. I knew she was aged, and I knew her skin was leathery, despite the care she had taken of it, and all her elaborate make-up.
The skin I touched wasn’t crimpled at all … it was suddenly smooth, soft, silky! The lips on mine were no longer leathery and rough; they were full, luscious, dripping with sweetness.
Suddenly I felt my mind going to a blissful place, my senses being dulled.
It was magical, the sweetness I was feeling. I knew somewhere deep within me that it was all wrong, that it couldn’t be happening.
But it was.
And I was enjoying every single second of it. Suddenly instead of pushing her away I wanted more, and my hands roved her skin, delighting in her silky feel.
She was moaning now – no, purring, like a naughty contented cat – and she was moving round over the top of the bench.
No, I was dragging her, pulling her over the bench and unto my laps…
Oh, Lord, what is happening? This can’t be right!
I opened my eyes, but the face I stared into wasn’t the face of an old hag. This was the face of a fresh beauty, a budding virgin, the most desirable woman I had ever seen, and I wanted – no, needed – her.
She was everything my heart craved for.
Take me, Yaw, take me now!
Oh, Lord, Lord, Lord … save me!
One of my arms was supporting her behind the neck, and the other was gripping a full breast, the nipple taut underneath my fingers. She arched herself up, her arms going around my neck, her lips smashing against mine.
I kissed her violently, ravaging her lips, my free hand desperately seeking her curves.
Mother! What’s the meaning of this?
His voice was a whiplash, filled with horror and revulsion, bitter and absolutely angry
It broke through the clouds, dissipating the madness.
My lips came off hers as she tried desperately to hold on, to keep me trapped. I saw her for what she was then – an old hag!
The bile rose up in me as I threw her off me.
She fell to the soft ground with a little cry – no, it wasn’t a cry, it was a hiss.
She lay on the ground and the expression on her face was one of pure malice as she bared her teeth and hissed at me, her fingers like talons now, digging angrily into the grass.
I bounded to my feet and found Andrew Okai and Nicole standing just inches away from the bench.
Andrew looked absolutely maddened, but the look on Nicole’s face was absolutely terrible. Her eyes glared at me, and in their depths I saw how low I had sunk in her estimation.
You stinking bastard!
He was moving suddenly, rounding the bench and coming at me, his right fist drawn back.
My mind was still encased in that terrible confusion.
Warning signals were buzzing in my head, but for a moment I was so disoriented that I didn’t know what was going on.
I side-stepped Andrew’s blow effortlessly and slapped him hard across the face. He fell on the bench and rolled unto his mother, who pushed him away violently.
You meddling little fool!
She glared at her son as she tried to get to her feet.
That did it.
Meddling fool … diversion!
I spun away from them, ignoring the hurt look on Nicole’s face as I raced out of the garden. Somewhere in my confused mind I understood what had happened.
Somehow Mrs. Shirley Okai was mixed up in the entire sordid affair. An old hag who could transform herself, somehow, into a desirable little seductress, she had kept me occupied with her, whilst something went on somewhere, something evil that needed me out of the way.
Oh, shit, shit, shit!
I ran hard.
I rudely pushed people out of my path.
I knew that Anderson was in trouble, very great trouble.
I burst into the administration block of the church and found myself at a large reception area. There were a few people here, grouped together and eating rice out of thin disposable packs.
I grabbed an elderly woman by the shoulders quite roughly, causing her to drop her little white plastic fork, her face suddenly frightened.
Pastor Anderson! Where’s he? Where can I find him?
She pointed toward a closed door, one of several leading out of the reception area. Embossed on a golden plate were the words: Offices of The Chairman.
I threw the door open and found myself in a wide hallway. There were a lot of glass and less wood here. Ahead was a glass office from which a group of men with the collars of the clergy were emerging.
I raced toward them. One of them, a junior pastor, was a familiar face. I remembered being introduced to him by Nicole. Seems he was much respected and had a lot of spiritual gifts.
He was being pegged as a future Chairman of the church.
(striving to be calm)
Excuse me, where can I find Pastor Anderson?
He pointed toward the closed glass door on which was another inscription: Chairman Paul Anderson.
He’s in consultation with a poor widow. It is not a good idea to interrupt now, Mr. Boat.
I nodded at him, my face sick, trying to remain calm.
(in a rush)
This is urgent, believe me. Wouldn’t take more than a few seconds.
The stench! Lord, the stench!
I could smell it all around me. It was bad, choking me so that I found it hard to breathe. I wanted to throw up, and I bunched the muscles of my stomach tightly.
The stench of the Legion!
It was here!
The faces of the young pastor and his colleagues reflected their disapproval but I ignored them and moved forward. I slid the door open, entered and closed it gently.
I was in a wide corridor with several closed doors on the right side, and one at the end. Alone now, I raced toward the giant door at the end of the corridor, grabbed the handle and violently swung it inward.
The room beyond was huge and spacious. It was luxuriously furnished, and exuded an atmosphere of warmth and peace.
But there was nothing peaceful about the scene confronting me.
Pastor Anderson was on his knees, hands clamped together in supplication, tears of anguish falling down his face, his terror so complete that he could barely move a muscle.
Advancing slowly and deliberately toward him, was the black-clad figure of the young widow. Clutched in her right hand was a long-bladed ugly knife.
BEG FOR MERCY, YOU CUNT!
But her voice wasn’t a woman’s voice.
It was a rumbling, resonant voice filled with evil. A voice that belonged to sewers.
Please, oh please! Spare me, please, spare me, I beg of you! I beg of you, please!
Anderson wheezed as his tears fell heavier, all semblance of decorum and honour gone from him, leaving him a pathetic and weak excuse for a man.
The thing was all puffed up, full of its own power and the sight of the whining man of God at its feet. It was enjoying every little ticking second of the moment, and it was so happy that it failed to realize immediately that I was in the room, just behind it.
It exploded in my breast, and before I knew what I was doing I flew across the room.
At the last instant it finally became aware of me. It swivelled round … an ugly face, eyes blazing crimson, and on her forehead was the mark of the beast, dripping pure blood.
But it was scared.
It was terrified!
It hissed, barring serrated teeth at me.
I smashed a fist into its face. The blow drove it all the way across the room.
It took down a desk, three heavy chairs, and a flower pot. It smashed against the wall, and fell down, the knife skittering across the soft rug on the floor.
I was aware that I was glowing brilliantly, my force-field sizzling with divine energy.
I was aware too, of a different kind of power moving through my veins, lending unrestrained malice to my craving muscles to hurt that thing.
I rushed forward, my body trembling with the anger I was feeling. That black-clad figure was moaning. I reached down, grabbed a handful of long black hair, and yanked the face up.
My hand was drawn back, ready to crash down on her – its – face again, or rip out its eyes if need be.
A clear face marked by a badly split mouth where I had hit her, stared up at me. No mark of the beast, no crimson eyes.
The Legion had fled.
The woman moaned with great pain and starred at me with horror. Her lips opened as she gathered air into her lungs to scream. I clamped a hand across her lips, cutting off her scream.
She was struggling violently now, trying to bite me.
Hush, it’s okay!
I whispered bitterly as I looked at the open window.
A huge black dirty crow was sitting on the sill … and its eyes blazed a terrible crimson.
We stared at each other with mutual hatred, and then it appeared to fall backward off the sill, and a moment later it flapped its way into the skies beyond.
The widow was still struggling, still trying to bite me.
Be still, gaddemn it!
I grated out angrily, bitterly, and she became very still.
I could hear pounding on the door, and I quickly pulled the woman to her feet, dragging her quickly toward the door, making sure I shielded her confused eyes from the moaning form of the pastor on the floor.
She struggled at first, feebly, but my hand tightened on her arm as I pulled her along. I threw the door open and found all the pastors grouped there, just like vermin coming in to feed.
They gazed at me with horrified eyes as I propelled the woman out and pushed her toward the young pastor.
She stopped and I saw her raising her hand to her lips, feeling her mouth.
There was still a lot of blood around her lips… but the torn and shattered wound my fist had opened on her lips was gone!
I had clamped my hand across her mouth, and her wounds had healed!
Her eyes came up, incredulous, shocked, disbelieving!
She tried to speak as she touched her lips with wonder, ignoring the probing questions from the young pastor and his colleagues.
I stared at her, and I loathed her for whatever sins she was indulged in that had enabled her to be possessed and used to almost destroy a good man.
The young pastor quickly brought out a huge white handkerchief and wiped the woman’s lips clean of blood, and he stared at her with uncomprehending eyes.
Pastor Anderson wants you to take care of her. That blood is mine. Fell down and something sharp cut me. I covered her mouth because she was screaming when she came out of a trance and saw me bleeding.
But Pastor Anderson … I mean, is he okay? We thought we heard screams. A man’s screams.
(forcing a smile)
Everything is fine. It was the lady screaming, I told you, not a man. A very bad and regrettable incident, I know. But please, would you take care of her? Something important came up, and I’m afraid Pastor Anderson doesn’t want to be disturbed now. Everything’s fine.
They exchanged puzzled glances and it was quite clear that they did not believe me. I thought of going back inside anyway and shutting the door in their faces, but just then Bonner appeared from behind them, slowly and painfully moving forward with the aid of his walking-stick.
They parted for him, and when he was close enough to me he stopped, and his old eyes roved my face.
t happened again.
I looked at him with many emotions raging through me. For a wild moment I almost screamed at him, and I had to fight the sudden urge to lash out at him with my fists.
You better get inside.
I dragged out, my jaws working with the depth of my anger … a fury that was borne out of great fear.
He turned and spoke calmly to the pastors.
Please go and attend to Mrs. Bediako. We’ll take it from here. Thank you very much.
His calm demeanour and gentle voice calmed them, and slowly they turned and hurried away; the young pastor’s arm was across the widow’s shoulders, and I smiled bleakly.
Go on, boy, open the door.
We entered the room again, and I locked the door behind us.
Oh, dear sweet Jesus!
Bonner whispered with great shock as he beheld the spectacle in the room.
Anderson was curled up in the foetal position on the floor, and he was weeping silently, violently, his body trembling.
His arms were tightly drawn up against his face, his head pushed very low into his chest. He looked like a young boy who was afraid to watch a horror movie. His legs jerked spasmodically as he continued to moan deep within his throat.
It was pathetic, but there was nothing I could do for him. No one could do anything for him now. He was totally gone, and I shut my eyes wearily as I sank into an armchair, not wishing to see him, or even hear him.
Somehow every little whimper that came from him was like a nail being driven into me as the feeling of guilt assailed me.
I had failed him, and by that I had taken the last vestige of pride and strength he possessed.
I had reduced him to a fumbling weakling, and I knew that until I found the Legion and dealt with it, Pastor Paul Anderson would never be any use for himself … or anybody else for that matter.
What happened here?
I glared up at him, and when I spoke my voice was not respectable at all.
What the fuck didn’t happen? Everything bloody happened, okay? Some serious shit happened here, and you could’ve seen how well I handled it! Please what the hell is going on here? How do I deal with this kind of shit? Damn it, old man, do you know I nearly killed that widow? Oh, yes, I did! I hit her hard enough to break an elephant’s neck, if indeed elephants have necks! And you know something … I almost hit her a second time, and that would’ve killed her if I hadn’t noticed in time that the damn demons had left her body!
Bonner was still staring down at Pastor Anderson, and his whole body had become very rigid.
Fury is a useless tool to employ now, son, It will warp your judgments and lead to your fall, so you better learn to control your damn fury! You’re new to your gift, so don’t expect to be a master of every damn situation. You’re learning, and all you have to go on is your instincts, so cut out the emotional bullshit and tell me what exactly happened here.
His words not only startled me, they also instantly doused the burning flames in my chest.
Come here, son, help me get Paul unto this sofa, and then you can tell me what’s plaguing you.
I made him stand aside and dragged the shivering pastor unto the sofa alone.
Pastor Bonner sat on a high-backed designed chair by the window.
The chair was like a miniature throne, and it was very attractive and yet oddly repulsive, as if it didn’t belong to the room, as if it was looking down at the rest of the furniture with a secret sneer.
Bonner listened to me without interrupting, keeping his magnetic eyes fixed unwaveringly on me.
When I finished he was quiet for a very long time, and then he rubbed an unsteady hand down his face.
“Shirley Okai! Something always struck me as being funny about her. It is all very strange. Is that what is bothering you, your inability to read her?
I paced restlessly.
Yes! I didn’t read her. I couldn’t read her. Why? Who’s she? Why was I so powerless in her arms? How was she able to transform herself so … so much that she was a lovely adorable young woman? What is going on here?
Bonner sighed, and his eyes were suddenly troubled as he looked at me.
The woman who seduced Paul Anderson and brought him down was an ordinary woman. Someone without much beauty. You remember I told you she had the Glow, what you call a force-field? And she was a good Christian. But what happened? Paul, a seasoned man of God, slept with her right here in this same office, and he defiled the house of God. Well, Paul claimed at the time that somehow when she touched him she changed suddenly. She became a woman of breath-taking beauty, filled with such wonderful promises – his words, not mine – that he could not believe he was with the same woman. I didn’t believe him then, but now you too have experienced the same thing. The truth is that I don’t know how these women are able to do it. It is something I simply do not comprehend. I have heard other Unblinds speaking of phenomena like that, but frankly I don’t know what it is.
If I’m an Unblind with multiple gifts as you claim, then why didn’t I sense her? Why didn’t I see something? Look I almost killed that widow, okay? I have to know the answers! What really happened? Why didn’t I glow in the presence of that woman? How is she, and of course that widow too, able to be in the house of God worshipping day in day out, and has the ability to somehow change into a most desirable voluptuous woman, and yet we can’t feel them, or see any demons in them? Even in the presence of the Legion I glowed, but how was it absent in that damned woman’s case?
I don’t know why you couldn’t read Shirley Okai, son. What I know is that you should have known about her! Your gift should’ve warned you or revealed her to you. I don’t know why you were not warned. Being who you are, I don’t expect anything in the spiritual realm to take you by surprise.
But I was taken by surprise! Secondly, when I hit the widow the first time she was still occupied by the Legion. When I grabbed her the second time, the Legion had vacated her body and occupied the crow on the window sill. I didn’t see it leaving the woman’s body. Under all other circumstances – like when it vacated Bruno’s body – I saw the whole process! But here I didn’t see anything! One moment it was in the woman, the next … kaboom, gone.
He tried to speak, but nothing came out. I walked quickly toward him and bent almost double so I could look into his eyes…and at that moment I saw my fear mirrored in his eyes.
Do you know the worst part, old man, the really juicy part? If the Legion had just decided to kill Paul Anderson outright and not bothered with frightening and degrading him, Anderson would have died long before I came in.
He was startled by that, and he shot forward, bringing his face even closer to mine.
That is scary, son. I think something is very wrong here. Terribly wrong, and we need to find out why. You know, I sensed it. I felt it somehow. It has to do with you, something you need to do, something you shouldn’t have done…something. It is something basic, but I can’t put my finger on it. Listen, let’s go home and sleep over it. We are tired, and tired men make mistakes. Our kind of mistake always leads to death, so let’s relax. I just might be able to pinpoint what might be happening to you somehow. It is maddening because I know I know the reason, somehow, but I just can’t put my finger on it. We need to know. I have to pin it down!
As I looked at him I saw that for the very first time all his calm and charisma was gone. He was a scared old man grabbing for straws, painfully trying to stay afloat in turbulent waters that couldn’t be tamed.
He could not meet my eyes.
And that frightened me even more than the Legion did.
We got home late that evening.
Anderson came out of the car and walked by himself, his gait sure, his shoulders square, but we all knew that he was burning inside.
It was in his eyes; the eyes never lie, as Bob used to say, and in Anderson’s eyes was the thing. It had gone beyond mere terror. His encounter with the Legion had taken an awful lot of soul from him, and even as I sympathized with him and felt the guilt assaulting me each time I set eyes on him, I wondered if he would ever be the same man again.
It was a sombre meal that we had that evening. No one apart from Bonner and I knew what had really happened to Anderson, but somehow it had managed to affect everybody.
Anderson ate like an automaton; his head was bent over his plate, and I noticed that most of his food ended up in his laps because his mouth had somehow become a bit slack, and little drops of food fell out as he chewed.
He left the table quickly with his wife.
Bonner pecked at his food, and soon after he pushed his plate away and stood up.
I think I’ll retire early today, son.
I nodded at him.
Paul Anderson junior, I was told, was out camping in the woods with a few of his friends – a Boys’ Scout expedition – and wasn’t expected till the following evening.
That was fine, because the atmosphere in the house would’ve left him gasping for breath, and I felt it was good to spare him some of the crazy things going around.
I was left with Nicole at the table, and although I felt her hot eyes on me on more than a few occasions I deliberately refused to look at her.
She had found me in the arms of her soon-to-be mother-in-law, and I had seen the expression of revulsion on her face. Every little nerve in me cried out for redemption, to put myself high in her special book of Esteemed People.
I wanted to fall at her feet and beg her, grovelling for mercy and for understanding; I wanted her to know everything that was going on, but somehow I felt her anger and distrust of me was the right thing.
The incident she had witnessed would kill whatever crazy emotions had begun to spring up between us.
I would always love her, of course, and there wouldn’t be a single moment in my life where I wouldn’t miss her, but some pains were worth bearing.
Yeah, I had read that one somewhere in one of those westerns I loved…yeah, it was the Pale Rider, where the gun-totting preacher had told the teenager who was besotted with him that it was good to set loved ones free, and if they came back then it was a sure sign of true love, or some damn sentimental yarn like that.
But it was most appropriate now, although I wasn’t sure there was any semblance of budding love between Nicole and me.
For all I knew it was just a one-way kind of thing, where I was crazy in love with her, and she was all for the Okai man.
But I loved her.
Lord, how much I loved this girl!
So why her?
I looked up, startled by both the sound of her voice and the question.
She had pushed her plate away and was sitting back primly – knees obviously together, fingers laced and resting on her laps.
There was nothing prim about her expression, however. She looked angry, but her eyes were hooded, and in their depths I saw something else.
She was hurting.
It turned my insides to see her like that. I wanted to race to her and sweep her into my arms. I wanted to assure her of the effect she had on me, and yet I knew deep inside that I could end up hurting her more if I stayed too long in her presence.
I laid down the cutlery carefully and picked up a glass of water. I sipped from the glass and then set it down just as carefully. I looked at her then.
I won’t pretend not to understand what you mean, Nicole. What happened was bad, and I apologize to you and Andrew. Let’s just leave it at that, okay?
Her hands came off her laps quickly.
She leaned forward, her hands pressing on the tables, elbows crooked outward.
She spoke, and I had never seen her so furious, and it sent waves of genuine blues smashing into my system with unrelenting fury.
Don’t tell me what happened was bad and I should leave it at that! Why her? She’s old enough to be your mother! You had absolutely no reason to go after her, or stoop to her level if she came after you! What you did was despicable, but tell me … why did you do it? Why?
I stood up from the table just as two servants entered, drawn by Nicole’s voice.
She glared at them and they mumbled their apologies but she was already on her feet, coming round the table toward me.
(in a fierce whispere)
In the garden, Yaw. Right now!
I followed her straight back out of the house and into the garden.
She walked on a few steps, and then she swirled round to face me.
Tell me now, were you the one trying to seduce her?
That, I think, is not necessary. Listen –
I sighed and rubbed unsteady fingers through my hair.
No, Nicole, I didn’t try to seduce her. I think the feeling was mutual. She craved a younger man, I’ve always fantasized about an older woman. It is as simple as that.
The lie felt like bitter gall in my mouth, and although I couldn’t look at her face I heard her sudden indrawn breath, and my heart went kicking up pure misery and agony into my system.
It was as if I had physically slammed a fist into her stomach.
She gasped, and for a moment she sagged at the shoulders, but her head came up, and she fixed me with a baleful look.
I see. Then, you and I have nothing more to say to each other. Do whatever you came here to do, Yaw Boat, and get the hell out of my life. I don’t ever want to breathe the same air as you, and heaven knows I don’t ever want to lay eyes on you again!
She gave me a wide berth as she passed, and if she had just hesitated a moment to look at me she would probably have seen her pain multiplied ten times in my eyes.
She would have seen my bleeding soul writhing in pain … and she would have broken down my resolve, and forced out the secrets of my heart. And she would have known just how much I loved her.
But she didn’t pause.
She broke into a run, leaving me behind.
The shock of the pain was so unexpected that I gasped. There was a feeling so hollow and deep in me that for a moment I could barely breathe. My head pounded, and a terrible ache rose up in my throat.
Just then I would have given anything to have her smile at me and tell me everything was okay. I would have given anything just to have her sitting beside me and holding my hand, our fingers intertwining in our secret moment of silence.
I had been so brave about all that crap about being able to live without her and wanting to give her a chance to enjoy her life, but what I felt now was different.
I was all alone.
And I loved her so!
But she was right.
It was time to do my bit and get the hell out of Portville.
Nicole, O Nicole!
My blurred vision told me that I was close to tears, and I turned my face upward, fighting it with all my strength. This was not the time to balk, or give in to the follies of the heart. This was the time to move and go hunting.
Hunting for a demon.
I couldn’t allow it any breathing space now. It was time to force it into the open where one of us would surely perish.
And there was just one place to hunt for the demon.
Or, rather, the host of the demons.
I put on black jeans, black soft-soled snickers and a black T-shirt.
I came out of my room at exactly twelve midnight. I closed the door quietly behind me and walked gently down the stairs.
I felt my way around corners, praying that I wouldn’t knock anything down to attract attention to myself.
When I entered the living-room a long shadow detached itself from one of the chairs and unfolded in front of me.
I stopped and glared at that outline, and for a wild moment my heart did a series of panicked flops before I recognized him.
Bonner said from the shadows, and I exhaled with relief.
Bonner spoke from the shadows, and I exhaled with relief.
I knew you would come.
Blast it, old man, you scared the … you really scared me!
Sorry about that, but enough of the jawing. I think we have to move quickly.
Whoa, hold it right there. What’re you talking about? You and I are not going anywhere.
He squinted at me in the inadequate lighting. I could see a slight frown on his face.
I presume you’re going after Shirley Okai.
I noticed that it wasn’t a question.
Damn it, must you always read my mind?
He was silent for a moment, and when he spoke his voice was annoyingly condescending.
You forget I’ve been where you are now. You know something, son? Now you have me really worried because of the way you’re dealing with the Legion. You have me really worried.
And what are you talking about now?
I asked, and I couldn’t hide the coldness in my tone because suddenly I felt a strong resentment toward him, and it terrified me.
He didn’t balk under my stare; his, in truth, was harsh enough for me, and it took all my willpower not to look away.
(in an unfriendly voice)
You’re slow, Yaw Boat, far too slow! You should have gone after Shirley Okai ages ago! You shouldn’t have waited this long! You’re dealing with the most vicious, most demented group of blood-thirsty demons mankind has ever had the unfortunate luck of being blessed with, and yet you behave as if it is some toy play.
Now hold on there! I’m here, aren’t I? You are the same person who told me – no, ordered, actually – to stay with Pastor Anderson and nurse him! Now here you are, telling me I should have left his side and gone after a woman who, to all intents and purposes, is occupied by just a lustful demon!
He smiled, and his smile wasn’t nice at all for an old man, because in the shadows it was mostly a glint of white teeth, teeth I was yet to know was real or not, and in the darkness of his face and the luminescence of his teeth that smile looked all fangy and wrong.
He pointed a crooked finger at me.
Your game is slow, son. You are the Chosen One, the man God ordered us to obey, and thus you must learn the game on a crash program, buddy. It is just like an Indian reading the forest ground, or the predator stalking its prey. You must know the ground rules, the modus operandi of your foe. You must know when he’s scared enough to ran, and when he’s scared enough to attack. You must sense him, you must live him, you must be him! Damn it, boy, you’re now confusing us all! You should’ve known that once you scared off the demon it was not likely for it to come back for Paul. It would get far away for the time being, and you had all the time to go after it. If you are the One, act like the goddamn One!
I walked up to him and stopped inches from him. My fury was that strong, and I had to hold unto the little human strain in me to stop myself from hitting out at him.
Now I don’t know what the hell you’re rambling on about, old man. I never asked to play your God’s game. It was forced on me, and you’re supposed to guide me. So tell me in plain English what’s going on or stop pestering me! If you want to help, do it, otherwise just shut the fuck up and give me space to breathe!
My voice was low, but it felt just as if I had screamed at him.
We stared at each other, and suddenly I saw that it was not all anger that had driven him. Fear was lurking in the inner depths of his faded eyes, and I began to understand why he was so fired up.
At last he stepped back and took a shuddering breath. He nodded, as if secretly coming to terms with something, and did a slow shuffle toward the main door.
I’m sorry, son. I shouldn’t have come on you like that. You know, the Legion gave Shirley an assignment to perform. She was supposed to keep you occupied long enough to allow it to kill Paul. She failed miserably, and you interrupted the Legion at its sweetest point of ecstasy when it had Paul down on his knees. Unfortunately you cut his climax short, and that meant Shirley didn’t do as she was instructed to do. She couldn’t walk the tightrope, and the only way the Legion rewards those who fall off the rope is death.
I stared at him, aghast.
Jesus! You mean Shirley would be killed?
Season 2 Eps. 3
CHINK IN THE ARMOUR
It is certain that she would die, and it is possible that her family would also be killed.
God damn it, old man! Why the hell didn’t you tell me that hours ago?
I thought you had other vibes, that there was something you knew that I didn’t. I thought you were being guided by the Holy Spirit, but it seems I was wrong. It’s your gift now, and you should be taking control, getting vibrant and positive directions from the Holy Spirit, like you did when you tackled the demon in that Samantha lady. But, suddenly, it seems you’re not getting the right pointers, and I just don’t understand what’s happening, boy!
I laughed, and it sounded shaky even to my own ears.
I shook my head and stared at him.
You people! What kind of games are you playing with me? Goddamn it to hell, what kind of stress are you putting me through? You overburden me with so much guilt and anxiety that I would be surprised if I’m still alive in a year’s time!
His eyes were flint-hard as he stared at me.
This is your destiny, son. Once you became an Unblind the lives of people rest on your shoulders. You must always be on high adrenaline, a step ahead of the most cunning and wicked principalities ever created. So, instead of standing there jawing and wallowing in unnecessary self-pity, why don’t you get a move on?
Once again we stared each other down, and this time no one gave in. I turned away from him and headed angrily toward the door.
He shuffled after me as fast as his arthritic limbs and the cane would allow him.
Wait up, son. I’m coming with you.
No, old man, you stay right here.
Don’t be silly. Apart from the fact that you could waste hours trying to find the Okai residence, I must tell you that theirs is a private property manned by armed guards who would not allow you inside under any circumstance. But I know almost all of them, and they’re accustomed to me paying late visits to the Okais.
It was a long time after that, after we had driven across the length of Portville and entered a long stretch of dark road toward the Okai residence, that I turned to him carefully and asked the question.
You’re coming with me for other reasons too, aren’t you?
He stared straight ahead, his head up, features still looking strong. He didn’t speak for a long time, and finally he heaved a huge sigh.
Yaw Boat, I’m used to the hard lonely life, but suddenly you came into my life, and you remind me so strongly of a son I used to have, and whom I lost under very trying circumstances. It is all a form of sentimental nonsense, of course, but somehow I have come to love these few days I’ve known you. Not like a son, mind you, but enough. If I seem to be pushing you hard, it is because I love you, boy.
We were quiet for a long time.
His words touched something soft and deep within me, and I felt the tiniest ache in the core of my throat, and recognized it as what it was.
I was afraid that if I spoke my voice would tremble, so I kept quiet, and l loved him back … in solitude. It was a very special moment for me, and somehow it helped restore some of the confidence I had lost.
A long time later, when lights began to emerge from the trees, telling us that we were entering a secluded residential area, I spoke again.
You didn’t answer my question, old man.
He turned his head slightly and looked at me.
I could not completely see his expression, but from the lights on the dashboard I saw enough to see that he was very tensed up, and very scared.
The Legion has something on you, Yaw. It is something basic. I can almost touch it, but it is frustratingly out of reach, but it is tangible enough. It was running from you, avoiding places you were, but now it is willing to take chances, and it had become daring. It means only one thing: it has managed to get a foothold in your armor. It has found something – an omission on your part, or a kind of sin, more like – and this has made it bold. It will get bolder by the day, and I think your next meeting would not be as easy as you think. I want to be present when you meet again, because maybe I just might be able to get hindsight into its secret weapon and help you out. Satisfied?
I nodded and kept my eyes on the road.
But, suddenly, my fear came back violently; it was stronger, and it was smellier.
I knew something really bad had happened even before I saw the flashing colored lights of the police cars.
Bonner had directed me off the main road onto a broad stretch of side road that had not been tarred, bordered on both sides by trees and foliage so tall and broad that they virtually covered the road.
We followed it at top speed for about five minutes, and suddenly we shot out of the thick forest onto a breathtaking sight of double streets with brilliant street lights stretching along its length. The streets were bordered by exotic trees and plants. There seemed to be lights encased in glass enclosures on the streets, giving the road a dreamy beautiful look.
A huge billboard depicted Mr. and Mrs. Okai in the prime of their youth, faces smiling a great welcome. At their feet was a far younger Andrew, wearing a brilliant suit and grimacing into the camera in a silly attempt to smile.
The letters above the picture said “Welcome to WebCity. And below that were the legendary words: Home of the Okais.”
We came to a sort of box junction manned by traffic lights.
All amber lights were now blinking simultaneously, and I slowed down.
Which way do we go now?
Straight ahead. Left and right lead to their factories. Straight on brings you to their residence.
I stepped on the accelerator and soon I was passing a wide expanse of a man-made waterfall stretching along the length of the road.
It was so picturesque, even at that ungodly hour, that I slowed down and gaped.
Well, this is something isn’t it?
What? Oh, the famous Andy Falls. It was the innovation of their son. Has drawn a lot of praise worldwide and considered to be one of the best architectural achievements of the century.
I admired it a little bit more, and then it was behind us as I drove past.
A road sign popped up suddenly, depicting a steep curve in the road.
Slow down now. The bend is steep, and it will bring you right to the main entrance of their residence.
The tires squealed a little as I eased down on the accelerator and stepped on the brake pedal. I maneuvered the big car through the ever deepening curve, and then suddenly it was there … but not exactly what I expected.
I heard the old man’s groan of horror beside me, but I didn’t pay him any attention. My eyes were riveted on the four police sedans parked at the entrance, lights flashing. There were also about three police motor-bicycles.
A lot of uniformed policemen and white-clothed medical staff were moving restlessly around the grounds.
Even as I veered off the road and came to a stop a huge white ambulance emerged from deep within the premises, slowed down to maneuver through the human bodies and vehicles, and then it went shooting past my car and headed for the city.
I noticed that another ambulance was parked just beyond the gates, lights flashing.
It was actually a sort of check-point; there was a large structure that resembled a booth and had a lot of glass on it.
Barring the road was one of those electronic road-barriers which had a thick circular metal bar across the road, and could be lifted upward by electronic means.
At the moment it was standing way up, and my befuddled brain told me that it would be a long time before it came down again.
We’re too late! The Legion has already struck!
THE HORROR AT WEBCITY
A tall lean man in a Stetson and long coat was approaching the car; when he was near enough I saw that it was Chief Inspector Jack Frost.
I stepped out quickly as he came to a stop. He was holding a flat gold-plated cigarette case. He shook out a long slim cigarette and put it in the corner of his mouth.
He slipped the case into in inner coat pocket and brought out a lighter.
It flared, illuminating his perpetually stoic face, the huge bags under his eyes now inflamed as if he had not slept in years.
The lighter also did a disappearing act and he puffed out a great blast of smoke before finally fixing his cold eyes on me.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
So we meet again, Mr. Boat. May I ask what you’re doing here?
Pastor Bonner was suddenly standing beside the policeman.
I had not been aware that he was getting out of the car.
I asked him to bring me here. Mr. Okai senior and I had some discussions to conclude.
Frost looked at his wristwatch significantly.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
At one o’clock in the morning?
The old man didn’t bat an eye.
Yes, we prefer it that way. I don’t see anything wrong with that. May I ask what is going on here? Did something bad happen?
Frost’s eyes were boring into me, and he was quiet for a while.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Yes, something really bad happened. Seems something really bad happened to Mrs. Okai, and she took a gun and blasted three security guards dead. That was after she had woken up around midnight, slit her husband’s throat whilst he slept, stabbed her personal servant about forty times, and tried to spill the intestines of her son with a kitchen knife when he tried to stop her. Summary: Mr. Okai, three security guards, one servant all dead. Mr. Okai junior in hospital now, receiving treatment for knife wounds on the hands and the stomach. It is my guess that he freaked out when his mother took after him, and after receiving a few scratches he hid himself. He called the police, incidentally.
I held on tightly to my open door as I felt the weakness assailing me.
Oh, dear sweet Lord!
Bonner was trembling wildly as he reached for the car to steady himself.
And where is she? Did you get Mrs. Okai?
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
No. Apparently she drove out of here in a Mercedes. We’ve sent out the license number but haven’t received any information yet about her whereabouts. A high alert has been put out for her, and we shall have her soon, I’m sure.
A pudgy figure approached.
It was the overweight Kweku Abbiw, licking his lips as usual and poking his little pink tongue out.
He gave me a disdainful look before turning his attention to Frost.
He spoke as if he was presenting a major trophy to the President.
They found the car abandoned right in the middle of the road in front of Mickey’s Aquariums. Mickey Asamoah’s place is downtown, you know, near the Jamaican settlements.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
And Mrs. Okai?
No sign of her yet.
The word exploded in my brain, and for a horrible moment it made me so weak that I was scared I would fall down.
There it was again, the sharp pains racking my body, the terrible odour of rotten bones and stale sewers … debasement!
The woman was going to be debased as retribution.
The Legion was going to make her do horrible things as punishment!
I didn’t know why, but I knew!
It was strong in me, filling me, exploding out…
A disgraced life, a humiliated existence for the minion who had not been able to carry out a little assignment she had been given, and allowed me to intervene.
Pastor Anderson should have been a dead man if she had lived up to her part of the bargain and kept me fully occupied, but she had failed, and I had chased away the demons, and for that she would pay the most terrible of retributions.
First her family, then there would be debasement, and then the scandal which would be so rotten that it would hit the ceiling and spread everywhere, tarnishing her name and hard-earned reputation forever!
Evil at its finest…Legion style!
I coughed, and slowly my vision stabled, and the awful scent slowly lessened, giving me welcomed relief from the agony of holding my breath for so long.
I spoke, and the words seemed to tumble out.
I felt a splitting headache, and suddenly sweat poured off my face in torrents.
You’ll find her at a seedy place. She’ll be where sin is, someplace with dirty music, bad dancing, alcohol, and especially where there’s cheap sex … it could be a whore house, a bar, restaurant, hotel. Find the ugliest joint around. She’ll be there!
I dug out my handkerchief and wiped my face.
Frost slowly dropped his cigarette and stomped on it, his eyes narrowed now and roving intensely over my face.
What the fuck is this clown babbling about? Are you mad? Jesus, do you really begin to grasp what happened here, you screwball? Just –
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Shut up, Kweku. Do you realize he just described the Kitty-Pussi Club? It is the new joint in town, located on the border between Portville and Takoraid. It would not have been tolerated in the middle of either town, but its location, just on the outskirt of the towns, has served it well. That filthy place caters for a variety of sick perversions, so I’ve heard. A lot of people have clamoured for its closure, but the rumour is that its clientele includes high-powered people from both towns who are protecting it. Owned by a woman called Sophia Christy, but I believe she’s just a front. I smell drug money in the whole thing. But tell me, how do you know Mrs. Okai would be there, Mr. Yaw Boat?
I stared back at him.
Five people were dead in one night alone, and somehow I was to be blamed for that. It was time to get my priorities right, as Bonner had said.
It was time to force a showdown with that vile collection of demons.
I had allowed the Legion to operate on its own laws of waste, destruction and death for long enough. The time had come for me to take the upper hand and be on its tail.
I know. I can’t explain to you. I don’t even fully understand it myself, but she’s there. We’re wasting time; get me there!”
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
It is about an hour’s drive from here. You could follow us in your car, but be reminded that I won’t take any interference from you. This is a police operation, and you’re merely coming around for the ride, got it?
I stared at him hard, and I went close until we were eye to eye. He was a hard man, and there was only one kind of attitude that he understood.
What do you think this is? One of your usual psychotic murders? A demented and bored housewife, certainly drunk, probably doped up, driven to the outer limits of self-endurance and suddenly decides to kill five people?
He stared right back and didn’t bat an eyelid.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Happens all the time, dude, and it will surprise you how original some of them could get.
Well, this isn’t one of them!” This is an entirely different playing field, Mr. Frost, and I assure you that it is a game you’ve never really played before, nor wish to ever play, believe me. I don’t know how you’ll do it, but I think you should better make sure that I alone should deal with Mrs. Okai when we find her.
He spat near my shoes, uncomfortably close, missing the top of my shoe by the barest distance, and pointed a rigid finger at me
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Bulldog shit! Boy, you better behave yourself if you don’t want me to drag your ass right now to one of my bloody cells. You stay the shit out of this. Any trouble from you, and I promise you’ll live to regret it. Get my fucking flow?
I didn’t argue any more, and a moment later I followed the wailing sirens and flashing lights of the police sedans as we pulled out and trod on the accelerators.
Another huge billboard on the main entrance told us that we were leaving WebCity, home of the Okais, and that they hoped we enjoyed our stay and to please come back again.
What a waste!
I fumbled out my phone and proffered it to the silent man beside me.
And what am I supposed to do with your phone, if I may ask?
Please call Nicole. At the speed we’re going I can’t manipulate the phone. Call her. Tell her about what happened to Andrew. I think he needs someone at his side.
Put it away.
What? Damn it, she needs to know, sir! Do you think she’ll forgive us if she finds out that we knew what happened to her fiancé and didn’t call her?
He stifled a yawn and rubbed a hand across his face.
You’re not thinking straight, son. You think Nicole would accept the news calmly, and then she would dress up and head for the hospital without telling anyone? Priorities, boys. Always think a step ahead. You’re not home to protect Paul, and if you give Nicole that kind of news she would freak out, and everybody would know of what happened. Have you thought about what Paul Anderson would do under the circumstances, especially in view of his present state of being?
I hesitated for a moment, and then with an angry gesture I shoved the phone back into my breast pocket. He was right, of course, as usual.
That kind of news would scare Anderson and push him into hibernation. It would likely cause him the rest of his sanity, and maybe burst his heart in the process.
A wave of despair washed over me.
I felt so inadequate, so alienated. Much was expected of me, but I was always a step ahead on the ladder of stupidity.
Matters of life and death were treated as kids’ play by me, and that would simply not do.
Once again I felt weighed down by the crushing realization that I wasn’t ready for the Legion.
It felt like one of those crippling nightmares where you found yourself rushing into a terrible form of death, and in your panic you cry out for release, for any kind of hope, where your whole body struggled for release, and where you were so drawn toward death that not even a single muscle in you would even twitch.
Funky Grounds come to life big time … yeah.
Oh Lord, please save me!
I cried in anguish, but it didn’t come out through my lips. I bled them inside my heart.
It was still dark when we got to the outskirts of Portville.
The sirens went out, but the lights still flashed as the sedans coasted through the night.
A short time later, after many turns and twists, we came to our destination.
Several billboards depicting highly exotic women had been mounted at every turn, directing patrons to the Kitty-Pussi Club.
I saw the brake lights of the police sedans flashing long before I beheld the awesome spectacle of the club. All the cars came to a halt on either side of the road, and I saw several doors of the cars opening.
I pulled off the road and got out quickly.
Already I could see the tall figure of Frost walking toward me. His lighter flashed as he lit another cigarette.
He put the lighter away and took a long drag at his cigarette, and a cloud of smoke nearly hid his face as he exhaled.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
We walk from here. We already talked to the proprietor. Claims he has not seen anybody even remotely resembling Mrs. Okai, but he added that he came in less than an hour ago. He wants us to look around, but with as little fuss as possible. He wouldn’t appreciate it so much if the police cars go slamming in there. Only four of us are going in at the moment. You can come along if you want, but be reminded that your role is that of an observer, nothing else.
I could feel the vibrations and the sickening stench really badly. I bent double almost immediately and dry-retched, holding unto the hood of the Chrysler for dear life.
Yes, the group of ominous devils could be found here!
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Can you feel her?
Bonner sounded nasal because he had pushed his calloused left index finger into his nostril and was busily rummaging in there.
Not her. The Legion. It is here.
He took out his finger from his nostril and rubbed it along the side of his trousers. It was totally gross, but I said nothing.
Good, let’s go then.
I came out of the car and helped him get out.
He shuddered as I closed his door, and I wondered whether he was just cold or he was also feeling the awful strain. Death was in the air, breathing down my neck so strongly that I could barely breathe.
He looked at me and spoke calmly, and as I spun on him I found that his gaze was hard on me.
He reached out and traced a finger down my wet cheek.
You’re still not ready. You’re perspiring. Fear. Get control of yourself, boy! It can sense your fear from the other end of the world, and once you approach the Legion with fear you’re doomed.
Just stop it, would you, please! You’re damn well suffocating me. Let me breathe! I’ll do this my way.
We looked at each other for a long time, and I saw with shock that he was scared, so much so that he could barely move.
It dawned on me – again – that being aloof and all-knowing was in some strange way the only weapon he had, the only leverage that gave him a certain level of courage, and suddenly I regretted my outburst.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Are you two coming along or not?
Silently Bonner offered his arm to me. I took it and gently guided him toward the open gates.
Frost walked toward his men and spoke briefly to them.
Some quickly melted into the shadows, going into the wooded area bordering both sides of the street. Some also took vantage points around the huge gates.
Frost flashed his badge at the security men in the security booth and had a few words with them. One got on the phone, spoke rapidly into it, nodded a few times, and then they lifted the huge electronic metal bar blocking the entrance.
I saw that their hands were never far from the guns holstered at their waists, and their expressions were cold and calculating.
Thugs of the highest caliber, and efficient killers, if the need arose.
We entered quickly, and I found myself drinking in the majestic view of the Kitty-Pussi Club.
The first thing that hit the eye was the use of colored lights and glass to create an atmosphere of complete magic.
The drive-through was simply magnificent, and the grounds were mostly green grass and statues made from a glassy material. There was also a man-made lake that flowed gently and meandered gracefully through the grounds.
There were four evenly-spaced flat-topped buildings. Arrow stands directed visitors to the car park, game hall, restaurant, guest house and entertainment center.
Frost, who had been walking ahead with Kweku Abbiw, paused long enough to look over the heads of the two deputy detectives following them.
Which way, Mr. Mystic?
Abbiw asked before Frost could speak.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Kweku, cut out the bullshit! Where do we go now, Mr. Boat?
It would’ve been a pretty dumb sort of question because I didn’t know the place, and wasn’t familiar with its layout, but the pull was suddenly there.
It dragged me forward just as surely as a magnet would have drawn a nail.
Just like in the Samantha Gaisie case!!
I walked past them and headed for one of the buildings; my heart was thudding fast as the adrenaline coursed through me.
My steps began to quicken and Frost began to hurry up too just to match my pace.
I knew the Legion was waiting!
Abbiw, of course, had thick stumpy short legs and soon began to run to keep up.
He’s headed for the Entertainment Center.
I was almost running now, trying hard not to throw up because of the strong sickly stench of the beasts.
The Entertainment Centre was a huge building, extremely flat and broad. The grounds were awash with exotic lights.
Four heavily armed bouncers stood on each side of the broad glass doors and watched us with cold eyes as we approached. Frost flashed his badge again, and one of them gestured toward the opaque glass doors which slid open soundlessly as we approached.
The area just beyond the doors was filled with obscene statues and gargoyles made from the same glass-like material I had seen earlier.
I paused with shock as I looked around, so scandalized that for a moment I wanted to break them all to smithereens.
One showed Jesus Christ sodomizing his mother Mary. In others a great haloed being – God, it was evident – was engaged in a homosexual orgy with the angels. A painting – this one hanging above another opaque door in front of us – depicted Jesus being tortured in the anus by the Devil and his cohorts.
This place, indeed, was a den of sin, a hellhole of debauchery, a place without inhibitions. A dirty place, not fit for people with sensitive religious beliefs.
To our left was a huge swimming pool, and around it were soft mats lying end to end. Almost everybody I saw around the pool was nude.
The mats were mostly taken up by couples engaged in various stages of sex.
Most people, however, were standing around cylindrical transparent glass enclosures in which extremely young couples, lesbians and gays were engaged in heated sexual acts, exotic lights flashing on their smooth oiled bodies.
People were grouped around the enclosures evidently according to their sexual preferences.
Jesus! How could such a place be allowed to exist?
Frost’s group had stopped.
Only the Chief Inspector looked at the spectacle with stoic cursoriness, but the rest, especially Kweku Abbiw, gaped with sudden wanton depravity.
The fat man’s face was suddenly awash with sweat, and as my eyes went low I saw the telltale little bulge in his crotch.
And then I saw them … the return of the uglies!
They were hovering high on the ceiling, bunched together, a terrifying sight of monstrous beings – terrible teeth, elongated and bulging heads, hate-filled eyes, crooked and slimy limbs, multi-colored sheens of evil – all gathered up there, hissing and meandering, coiled around each other.
It had been a long time since I set eyes on any demon, and to see a gargantuan collection up there, just above my head, bulging with sinuous evil, was more than I could take.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
What’re you looking at on the ceiling? Shit, you look as if you saw the Devil himself up there instead of just plain ceiling and lights. What’s biting you?
Frost’s cool voice cut through my terror, and I turned around with difficulty.
He was also staring upward, and he turned and looked at me
I ignored him as I turned desperately toward Bonner.
The old man had turned his shocked eyes away from the physical depravity of the cylindrical glass enclosures, and he was staring at me with a veiled terror of his own.
What is it, son?
(in a fierce whisper)
The uglies, gathered above our heads! What’s wrong, old man? Why aren’t they fleeing now? Why aren’t we glowing?
They know something we don’t, Yaw. They have a foothold in your armour. They know something about you we don’t. The fact that they aren’t attacking you means they’re still afraid of you, to some extent.
And the fact that they’re not fleeing from me now?
He dropped his eyes and sighed.
Same thing. They think you’re not strong enough to harm them.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
What the fuck are you two talking about?
Both of us ignored him.
Bonner started to look upward, his face tense.
Suddenly he began to glow – a terrible and glorious sparkle that almost blinded me. I shielded my eyes with a forearm thrown up instinctively.
What is it now?
I looked upward – and the crazy motherfuckers were fleeing!
They fled from the ceiling, crashing into the bodies, disappearing into them, hammering out of the enclosures, their ugly faces terrified.
I began to make a sound. It wasn’t a giggle or a laugh. It was something primate, something born out of ecstasy and fear at the same time.
They fled! The motherfuckers fled.
What in the name of Hades is the matter with you, moron?
He asked in a high-pitched voice, dragging his eyes from their feasting long enough to witness my little nervous breakdown.
I opened my mouth to say something rusty to him, and then the stench came, buffeting me so badly that I gagged.
I dry-retched a couple of times, the dizzying hot scent assailing my nasal tissues so strongly that the resultant terrible bout of coughing and retching almost drove me to my knees, and then the adrenaline was flowing, the inner Unblind taking over my actions.
I burst forward, pushing Frost away and approaching the sliding doors.
It was in there!
That vile Thing was there, waiting!
The doors slid open and I charged forward.
Behind me Frost cried out, but I barely heard what he was saying.
The interior was large and cool, the lights dimmed. The music was something soft and classical, some sweet combination of wind instruments and a leading piano, playing quietly in the background, accompanying the moans and slurping sounds of people making love.
The sound seemed to emanate from the walls, and I wondered if hidden speakers had been fixed into the walls.
I could make out a long bar, stretching away on my right.
It was manned by at least four barmen, all extremely good-looking, all with long hairs and dressed in white silk shirts open at the neck.
All the high stools were taken, and every single space was filled. On my left was a jutting terrace, and up there was a DJ with his musical machines.
He was leaning forward, hands deftly working the turntables, his face shining with sweat and highlighted by the coloured lights dancing across his features.
Straight up was an extension of the terrace, but it was covered with opaque glass, curving outward. It was probably the office of the proprietor.
All around me bodies were milling up against one another, reaching out and groping, all attention focused on the large dais ahead which was slightly raised off the floor.
It was the only brightly lighted place in the room. It was furnished with red velvet and silk, extending from one end of the room to the other.
People didn’t even notice I had made an entrance. All around me the sick heavy breathing of sinful lust hemmed me in.
Clammy bodies filled with heat were wriggling impatiently all around me, and I could see by the rhythmic thrusts and gyrations of some of them that they were openly making love.
They were being goaded by the spectacle on the dais, and I saw at a glance that the heavy sounds of sex coming out of the speakers in the wall were coming from the dais.
On it were two naked men. They were heavily muscled, and they were naked. One was lying on his back, straddled by a sinewy woman, also naked.
She was moving up and down on his penis, her sloping breasts swinging hard with her momentum.
Her head was turned into the groin of the second man who was standing beside her, head thrown back in ecstasy.
His right hand was holding her head, pulling it fully against him, and I knew with a sickening heart that she was performing fellatio on him.
The woman was Shirley Okai.