THE SECOND SIGHT
THE FURY WITHIN
A paranormal thriller
A RESPITE AND A TALK
Elaine got to her feet slowly.
She was dirty, and her dress had been torn at several places. Her face was a mass of welts and bruises. She swayed unsteadily, her eyes still defiant as she looked at me.
My face was dismayed, because the thought of her carrying my baby was so nightmarish and loathsome that I felt like wailing.
How had it happened?
She hissed and screamed at me, her orbs of hatred that glowed in the silvery sheen of the moonlight.
You are mine! Forever you shall be mine!
And then she turned and with an ear-splitting scream she wove a drunken unsteady course into the forest.
The humming trees closed in around her protectively, the branches seeming to comfort her as she began to weep uncontrollably, her mourning voice reaching me several minutes after she disappeared into the trees.
I watched her go.
I was that helpless.
For a long time I stood staring after that flitter of white dress as she moved deep into the trees, long after she was gone.
I felt cool hands on my arm, and when I turned Nicole was standing there.
She was that beautiful, and as the strange yellow light died I saw her face only by the help of the moon above.
She looked crushed and trampled on, and it pained my heart to see her so devastated, so abused…so not there.
I swept her into my arms, crushing her, desperately trying to reassure myself that she was indeed within the circle of arms again, trying to forget the horror of seeing her whisked through the air and smashed against walls and ceilings.
The darkness pressed in from all sides, but this time there was no evil in it. She trembled in the night chill, and I crushed her closer.
She lifted up a tear-drenched face to mine.
Even in the darkness, by the faint moonlight that filtered through, I saw that it was a broken face, a face that reflected her broken spirit.
Her hands were little forlorn fists that lay against my chest, and her head seemed to be moving from side to side constantly, unable to stop. Twice she tried to speak, and each time her voice broke on a sob.
Nicole, my darling, it’s alright.
As I looked at her, pleasuring in the fact that she was safe, once more, my heart slowly began to turn to ice as I faced the unhealthy realization that this would always happen.
I had chosen a life where evil in its most vicious form ruled, where tit-for-tat and an-eye-for-an-eye was the name of the game.
From now till eternity they would be after me and mine, just as I would be after them. It was a battle where no weapons were spared and every rough tactic was employed.
Marrying her would mean eventually raising a family, and unless my family could perform at top mental consciousness, never allowing even an iota of spiritual doubt to cloud their daily confidence and faith in an unseen God above, then I might as well forget it. They would surely be used against me, and my heartaches could stretch till eternity.
This was the stark reality, and as I gently swung the woman of my heart into my arms and carried her quivering body through the darkness of the forest, I knew I could not subject her and her children to such a future.
If I wanted a safe secure future for her, devoid of any incidents like this, then I had to set her free.
That was the only option.
They were all outside the house when we reached it.
They were all confused and concerned, but I did not stop to speak to anyone.
I took her to her room, and she took a long bath.
She was sleeping now.
Her sleep was troubled, yes, but sleeping she was.
I was scared to leave her and so I stayed in her room, sitting in a comfortable armchair beside the bed.
Ever since she took a bath and was helped into bed by her concerned mother she had not wanted me to leave her side. It was as if somehow she had become cognizant of the train of my thoughts as I brought her out of the forest.
They all crowded around her bed at first.
Explanations had been minimal, reduced to the basic truth that somehow evil had attacked her, I had intervened, and she was safe. The unanswered question I had seen in the depths of their eyes was the same I had asked myself somewhere earlier in the night: how had the evil ones been able to get to her?
It was Mrs. Rosemary Anderson who had asked the question fearfully, when there were only the four of us left around Nicole’s bed: Bonner, the parents, and me.
(fearfully, voice unsteady)
Did this have anything to do with what Fred did to her?
So they all knew. I looked at her with hard bitter eyes.
If by Fred you mean her uncle, then yes, this was the result of it. Whatever it was that happened, I think Nicole has not been able to forgive herself, and that guilt has eaten away at her until the evil one came and fed on it.
The three of them exchanged little furtive guilty looks, but they said nothing to me. Eventually they left the room, leaving us alone with the girl I loved.
Nicole suddenly gripped my hand fiercely in her sleep.
Her smooth beautiful brow was furrowed with unease, and she would uttered a soft cry, or an inaudible word. This had been going on for some time, and each time I soothed her gently and wiped sweat off her brow.
Finally the intensity of her grip lessened, and then she had finally let go my hand.
I might have dozed off too, because I didn’t hear the door opening. I only became aware of the hand shaking my shoulder gently, and I came up slowly from a tired doze.
Bonner was standing beside me, his face grave, and he indicated the balcony off the bedroom. He headed for it, and I reluctantly stood up.
Nicole was snuggled under the sheets, and she muttered something in a tired little voice, a tiny frown puckering her brow.
She might have received a good reply to her query, though, because a sweet, beautiful smile creased her lovely face, and she turned onto her left side, and began to breathe gently.
I stretched and yawned, and then worked my jaw a few times. I followed Bonner.
Sunlight was just beginning to turn the horizon a hazy amber over the slowly awakening town.
We stood behind the railing and watched; it was a beautiful sight.
You mind telling me what happened in the forest, son?
Somehow the prospects of living that nightmare again filled me with strange anger, and I felt a little hostile toward him.
I knew it was probably because of my strong feelings for Nicole because I didn’t want her to be ‘analyzed and filed’ in this old man’s usually cold and unfeeling way.
Why not tell me about the Uncle Fred issue first? That was how they got to her.
He turned and fixed me with a hard eye.
Who got to her? Was it Andrew or the girl?
I looked sharply at him, and my unreasonable anger went up a notch or so.
Fred? The uncle?
Oh, come on, Yaw! She would tell you herself if she wants to. Come to think of it, I think it will be better if you hear it from Nicole herself. Might do her a lot of good and maybe cure her of that festering guilt of hers. So tell me, who got to her?
I stretched and yawned again, and then I rolled my neck a few times to get the little kinks out, and then I rubbed my eyes hard, all in an attempt to rid myself of the strange animosity I felt toward him.
And thus I narrated everything to him, and when I finished I found him looking at me with such terror mixed with disbelief that I was a bit taken aback.
The expression on his face changed to incredulity, as if he believed I was quite mad.
You let her live? A woman who has sold her soul to the Devil and would stop at nothing to kill you? You let her leave to live?
My look was as cold as his.
In the first place she didn’t want to kill me. She still wanted me to be her chosen man, to toe the original script. Secondly I didn’t let her go, if you were listening right, old man. I let the Death Cloud have her! But then, I couldn’t see her as a devil when I heard that cry from the baby. I saw her as a pregnant woman. She’s only alive because of the baby!
The old man wasn’t impressed though. His tone was getting angry now, his contempt running unchecked.
Because she’s carrying your baby, a child formed out of total fornication?
It wouldn’t have changed anything if the baby has been for somebody else! Can’t you just get it? There was a human being in there, a poor innocent thing that has hurt no one! That baby deserved to live!
Bonner whirled angrily away, rubbing his forehead rapidly.
Oh, wise up, boy! You’re talking about a spawn here, son! A very deadly spawn, a foetus that was formed purposely, not by her, but by the command of her evil masters!
That shook me up a bit, and it was my turn to do the forehead rubbing.
What the fuck are you talking about now?
He muttered, looking earnestly into my eyes, and then I saw the fear lurking in there, even in the inadequate light; Bonner was more scared than he had ever been since I saw him.
I am talking about human vessels, you fool! The kind of vessel you were supposed to be, and which you thankfully escaped from because of God’s intervention. Now you go ahead and give it to them, free on a platter! If the demons couldn’t have you then they would have your spawn, a child carrying your good genes and their bad one, a cross-breed that could turn out so evil and yet able to outwit the very powers you’ve been endowed with. I could’ve understood this mess if you had told me you spared her because you felt sorry for her, but when you found out she was carrying a child – your child inside her sinful body – you should’ve destroyed her immediately!”
Jeez, old man, aren’t you stretching this thing just a little bit too tight?
He shook his head sadly at me.
What do you think a woman like that is going to do with her son – or daughter, for that matter? You think she’s gonna dump the little brat in an orphanage? No, sir! She’s going to raise up that child just right so that he could be a vessel, filled with the most vicious pack of demons you’ve ever seen, no doubt! And what would that pure blood running in him do? Would it make him invisible to Unblinds like you?
Fine, but on the flip side could be the possibility that a baby of such mixed blood, as you so aptly put it, could grow up to be on the good side!
So you wish. You think that’s even remotely possible, if he’s brought up by a mother like that?
You always say God does the impossible, and I’m a living testimony of that. It doesn’t matter where you’re born, who you’re born to or how you’re raised. I believe even if you’re born of the Devil, you can be saved if God wishes it! Look at me, old man! Who was raised up worse than me? But I was called, and I’m being used!
He laughed, and it wasn’t pleasant.
“You had the luxury of waiting until you were all grown up, son, but with a child like that there’ll be no waiting, son. Soon as he’s born, he’ll have the mark, just like his mother. Just warning you, boy. You need to find that woman again and destroy her and the spawn, otherwise you’ll live to regret it someday.
When he left the room I felt cold.
I stayed on the balcony and watched the sunrise, but deep within me I was chilled to the bone. Once again it seemed I had slipped up.
Bonner could be right, of course. His reasoning had been cold and terrible, for a man of God, and what he proposed was downright unacceptable, but he could be right.
He could be infuriating, and sometimes a downright pain in the derriere, but he was mostly always right. I had heard the desperate plea of that blood clot lodged in the innermost depths of Elaine, and so I had let her live.
It had not occurred to me, even remotely, that my single action of compassion could be the cause of so many untold hardships in the future. But I had called it, as I saw fit.
To me, every child, every creation, is of God. If that child had a future, it was the prerogative of God. I might have made the wrong call, but I was no child killer.
That innocent baby could also grow up to be a latter day Paul.
Charles Bonner could be right…but I could also be right.
No matter what it was, time would tell.
I sighed, and that was when the hands went around my waist, and she laid the side of her head against my broad back, and pressed herself into me.
We stood like that for a long time, and then I turned within the circle of her arms to face her because she wouldn’t let go of me.
There were little shallow points around her eyes, and that were the only indication of the harrowing experience she had gone through the dawn before.
The rest would be on her body – little scratches and bruises that would redden and blacken and then fade away eventually.
Her eyes searched my face desperately.
I had a bad dream. It was terrible. You left me.
She put cool fingers across my lips and shook her head immediately.
Promise me, Yaw! Promise you’ll never leave me. Not ever.
I sighed deeply, and to calm her I nodded once, but my heart was heavy.
I promise, my love.
Her anxious eyes roamed my face desperately, and then she smiled wanly.
Yes, Yaw, let there be only love between us, a love that would last a lifetime, because I can’t live without you.
And Andrew Okai?
She smiled, a shade sad, a shade joyous.
I have never really loved him, you know. Before I met you it seemed the ideal match – me and him. I would probably have ended up marrying him, but after I met you I realized how wrong I was. I never could’ve grown to love him, as I had promised myself. I told him that, and I told him there was nothing in the world I would want more than to be your wife. I wanted to be honest with you, you know, and let him know that even if you didn’t love me back, it would be very selfish on my part to go ahead and marry him knowing fully that I loved you. He was very hurt, and that pained me a little.
I kissed her then.
Her lips were soft and pliant, opening shyly to receive me, and then closing around me. It was clean, and it was sweet, and I wanted to do that for eternity – just standing there kissing her till night came, and another day begun.
When we parted finally she breathed deeply, and I saw that her face had somehow blossomed, as if someone had lit a nice light within her.
She traced my faced gently, and then she reached up and brushed her lips across mine.
She released me then and leaned against the railing.
I loved that, Yaw. And my body craves that your touch, but you know we can’t continue like this, right?
What? Kissing you?
She turned and put a hand across my arm, and then she smiled radiantly.
Yes, my love. I know Christianity is something new to you, and so I need to help you grow, and be stronger, and I can’t do that by kissing you, as much as it is pleasurable to me. So, to stop ourselves from the sin of the flesh, we need to tell them, and get married as soon as possible because I really can’t wait.
I smiled softly.
I was happy.
Yesterday you heard about what my uncle Fred did to me, didn’t you?
Her voice was calm enough, but I knew she was suffering underneath.
I reached out and held her hand fondly.
My darling, it’s alright. You don’t have to tell me about that now.
She shook her head, and her fingers tightened around mine.
No, it’s not alright! I’ve kept this hidden for so long. You need to hear it, because you’re going to be an inseparable part of my life. I can’t keep anything from you.
I took her hands and kissed her knuckles tenderly.
It’s okay, my love, really. I don’t hold anything against you, and it is not important anyway. You prayed to God about it, and that saved your life this dawn. It is settled, you don’t have to go digging into the past again!
She wrenched her hands free and beat my chest with her little fists, her tears falling faster now, her heart broken.
She cried, her face shining like an angel in the early sun.
Stop being so nice, my love! I need to do this!
I held her close, and although she struggled hard I didn’t let her go until she finally stopped fighting me.
She collapsed against me, and the floodgates opened.
She cried her heart out, and I just held and stroked her hair gently.
OF CONFESSIONS AND DEAD CROWS
It took quite a little time, but finally she was all cried out.
And then, in a halting pained voice, she told me about Fred Anderson, her father’s older and only brother, a man who had been her favourite uncle.
He was such a distinguished gentleman, and I really loved him. I was only thirteen when I stayed with him at his country house. He was rich, you know, and his money saw Daddy through school and supported our family during the initial hard years. Their parents died quite early so he was more of a father to Daddy than a brother. I wasn’t alone with him at his house, though. Each Christmas most of the kids in the family went to him, you know, from half cousins to his distant relatives. He was kind and quite good, so everybody loved him.
On that cold Christmas Eve the uncle she loved so much had gotten drunk – or pretended to be drunk – lured her to his room and then he had raped the terrified teenager.
The traumatized child had not been able to tell anybody about her predicament. It was only when she started feeling funny and began throwing up that she had confessed to her best friend, also a teenager but who ‘knew’ the other side of life.
They had come together, and some of her friend’s hippie pals had sent her to a dirty doctor in a seedy neighbourhood where the abortion had been done.
Nicole, young, confused and hurt, had been terrified about carrying her uncle’s baby in her. She hadn’t known whether the baby would be her child, or her cousin. She couldn’t live with that reminder for the rest of her life, and so she had gone in for the abortion.
Uncle Fred Anderson had died the following year, gunned down by what the cops suspected to be armed robbers.
Nicole had kept her secret for years, but she had never been able to get over what had happened, and the guilt had plagued her for ages, despite her earnest attempts at atonement with God.
Finally she had confessed to her parents when years later, because she had been feeling suicidal and hated all boys.
They had had prayers, but Nicole, young as she was, had convinced herself that God hated her, and had grown with it despite receiving counselling from renowned people of God.
It had always hampered her spiritual growth.
But not anymore. She had prayed when that evil Elaine had her, and God had responded. That was what she had needed all this while.
And of course the evil ones had chipped away at her, slowly but surely, until she had no defence left.
She admitted to having been feeling terribly guilty the last couple of days, and had slowly sunk into depression.
That had been the work of Elaine and her demons, of course, filling her head and heart with such evil talk that she had succeeded in alienating her from the love of God.
She whispered tremulously as the last vestige of tears glittered on her lids.
But not anymore. Now I’ve moved from the dead to the living, from darkness to light, and with you at my side, nothing shall ever scare me again.
As I kissed her, on the cheeks this time, I wondered…and I feared.
Later on in the morning, after a sombre breakfast, she wanted to go out even though radio reports indicated that there was going to be a terrible storm later in the day.
I wished dearly that she would stay indoors until the storm – which they said was going to be a hell of a tornado – was over.
She was adamant, though.
It was as if she didn’t want to stay in the Mission House, and I couldn’t blame her too much.
What she had gone through had been cataclysmic, to say the least.
She seemed okay, but I knew better; she was still grappling with it, and she still felt shaky.
It would take some time before she finally lived down that nightmare, and that was why she felt the uncontrollable urge to get out of the house and find fresh air to breathe, at least for a little while.
I knew that she was going to have sleepless nights, and that there would be times when she would bolt up in bed screaming. She hadn’t been prepared for that kind of potent evil that had messed her up, and she was going to suffer.
Her pain was my pain, and because I felt responsible for it all my fury became a constant beat of my heart, a sizzling cauldron that was threatening to metamorphose into hatred.
There was a hunger in me to go out there and seek out Andrew Okai, but as I left Nicole’s room to get ready for our outing I knew deep in my bones that the end was near.
The day was going to end in a brutal way, and I knew that one of us – the demons and I – would not make it.
Nicole wanted to go over to her office first.
She said there were some documents that needed to be signed. After that we would decide where to go next. She wanted to go to the beach, but somehow I wasn’t too keen on that. There was a restlessness in my inner core that just wouldn’t settle down no matter how hard I tried.
I hesitated in front of my door, and for no reason at all my body went cold. I froze, and for a long moment I felt a strong repugnance to enter the room.
It was something I had never experienced before. The hand that reached for the handle trembled a little, and I shook my head angrily. This wasn’t the time to get jittery.
I swung the door open and entered…and then I just stopped, going so completely still that anybody seeing me might have thought for a moment that I was carved out of marble.
I was dimly aware that the little television perched in its corner was still on, and in some crazy way my mind was just detached enough from the horror in front of me to signal the fact that I might have left that television on for quite a spell.
The volume was turned way down, and I couldn’t hear what the man in the expensive-looking dark suit was saying.
He seemed to be deeply agitated as he was interviewed by an unseen reporter. My eyes scanned the little white letters on a blue background scrolling across the screen.
It seemed that a very dangerous woman, pregnant for seven months, had escaped from a maximum security prison, killing four cops in the process, something like that.
But that wasn’t important.
What was important were the dead crows in my room!
My room was filled with them.
They were all over the bed, on the floor, on the dresser … everywhere. There were even some on the ceiling fan. Their black eyes were open in death, but they managed to exude pure hatred as they glared at me. Huge, dead white crows!
The smell in the room was mildly unpleasant – it was that faintly repulsive scent of dirty feathers – and I stood just inside the room because I couldn’t walk further in without stepping on them.
I was sure my heart stopped beating for a spell.
Of all the things I had seen, and of all the things that had happened to me, the sight of the dead crows filled me with more fear, and made me feel unbearably inadequate.
My horrified eyes took in the scene, and I raised my eyes to the huge windows. One of them had crashed out, maybe by the weight of the crows as they blasted into the room, and yet no one in the house had heard glass breaking.
And then I saw the surviving crow.
It was sitting absolutely still on the window sill.
It was that same big crow, that same evil leader of the pack. Its dirty wings were folded back, and it regarded me with latent hatred in its black eyes.
It regarded me without expression for a moment, its black eyes immovable orbs that sought to probe my inner being, and then quite suddenly its eyes glowed bright red, like huge fire flames.
We stared at each other, hate for hate, and then it turned slowly and unfolded its wings. It flapped once, and flew out of my window.
I didn’t know whether the icy feeling deep in my guts was fear, or a simple paralysis of my functioning nerves.
I had to reach out and hold unto the wall, my forehead pressed to its cool surface as I breathed deeply, fighting the faintness that threatened to overpower me.
A FINE DAY TO DIE
After a while I heard the little taps on the door, as if whoever was knocking didn’t want to draw too much attention. Still dazed and wondering how anything could be so evil, I cracked the door open.
Old Bonner was standing there, his face grave.
Sensed trouble. Are you alright?
Without a word I stepped aside and bid him to enter.
He shut the door behind him slowly, and his face was grave as he looked around. He didn’t look scared, at least not in the way the whole sight had driven a cold wedge into my brain and put a halt to my thinking processes.
If anything, the expression on his face was more anger than fear, and as he moved slowly toward the window sill where the other one had been, he began to nod his head.
Watch out. Glass splinters all over the place.
He nodded again, and then he stopped. Once again he looked around him slowly.
I leaned back against the door and folded my arms.
Mean anything to you?
He turned slowly and faced me, and then he nodded once.
Should’ve told you about it. It slipped my mind, but it shouldn’t have. My mistake, so forgive me. This must’ve been very harrowing for you.
That, and some.
He nodded again.
We used to call it the Gathering. I told you about how the Legion used to announce its presence by killing a lot of animals, didn’t I? The Gathering has occurred each time the Legion came back and attacked an Unblind. One Unblind woke up one day and found his room filled almost ceiling high with dead cockroaches. That same day the Legion appeared and killed him. Another Unblind entered his church one dawn and found the pews filled with the butchered carcasses of rabbits. Before he could raise an alarm the Legion appeared and ripped him apart. I found my car filled with huge crawling ants three hours before my son was killed. Paul V. Clement entered his bathroom and found his tub filled with hundreds of dead snakes and three gigantic anacondas coiled around each other. Roughly about five hours later the Legion manifested in your father and killed him.
I received the news calmly, it seemed, but deep down where it mattered fear was crystallizing, and although I fought it, it was to no avail.
This heinous group of demons knew how to loosen up a man for the killing alright. I breathed shallowly and forced myself to concentrate on the task at hand.
It was all I could say for the moment.
He tilted a high-backed chair savagely, and as the dead white bodies of the crows fell from the chair he sat down carefully, and kicked more dead crows away, clearing a crude circular carpeted space in front of him.
Finally he looked at me.
So this is the day, son. This is your Gathering, and within a few hours you will have your final encounter with the Legion.
Either I die, or they die, isn’t that the way it is?
That’s the way it is, son.
We stared at each other for a long time. There was a lot more to be said, but at that moment we both knew that somehow enough had been said; anything more would break my fragile defence.
We both knew that latent evil was in the air, and that it was all too possible that the next day wouldn’t find me alive.
I’m going out with Nicole. The situation here is quite a hitch, isn’t it? I don’t want her seeing this horror of the dead crows or knowing anything about it.
Bonner nods sombrely.
Go on, son. No one would know. Paul has some huge paper boxes in the attic. I’ll call him. The two of us can get rid of this pile, I guess. You go on and have a little fun, but beware. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Legion attacks in the next few hours. Beware.
I wondered briefly if I heard a note of doubt in his voice.
Was his coolness forced?
Was he deeply worried about me because he didn’t have faith in my abilities to triumph over that evil despite the awesome power that had been placed in me?
I cleared the ugly bodies of the crows in my path, opened the wardrobe and selected a pair of black jeans and a nice open-necked T-shirt. I changed my shoes for a pair of comfortable sneakers, and then I went out without a further word.
I had wanted to say something to him, at least a quick good-bye would have sufficed, but just before I came out of the room I had hesitated and looked over at him, and I had seen him staring at me with such great grief that the rest of my self-confidence shattered immediately.
I saw in that look that Bonner was a grieving man, and that he had no faith whatsoever in me.
To him I was already dead.
I actually found myself enjoying Nicole’s company even though I was forced to look at everybody twice and looked over my shoulder at every turn.
She wanted to do things a little differently that day so we didn’t take any car; we went by bus. I hadn’t been on public transport for quite a spell, and thus I found the sudden experience exhilarating.
The golden rays of a warm sun had already suffused the city with enough goodwill to deliver a promise of a fine day. It was maybe made more poignant by the fact that it could be the last day in my life, if Bonner was proved right.
A fine day for dying, I thought wryly and smiled.
Nicole was happy, totally unaware of the storm that was brewing. Whilst I rejoiced in her company, probably for the last time, I was also a bit disturbed because of my uncertainty of providing adequate protection for her against the Legion if it should decide to launch an attack.
I knew perfectly well how destructive that group of demons could be, and how they could use loved ones as weapons.
But there again it wouldn’t matter if there were a thousand miles between Nicole and me because if the Legion decided to use her to get to me distance was of no consequence, and so also was shelter.
Thus the safest place for her was probably by my side.
We got off the bus and boarded a taxi to Dash Securities, her workplace.
It was a plush ten-storey glass and glitz splendour that took my breath away. Her office was on the seventh floor, and when we got out of the lift she was all smiles.
Evidently she was well-liked – no wonder – because everybody drifted to her, from the security men in the lobby to the top-ranked executives as we moved along.
She didn’t hesitate to introduce me as her fiancé, though, and from the little dark glances I managed to catch from some of the flashy bachelors I guessed the competition in that department had not been restricted to Andrew Okai.
Her office was huge, befitting a true Assistant Director, and it was luxuriously furnished.
She did what she had to do, and when we were leaving she asked me to wait at the reception as she discussed a few tentative points of a new contract with the Director.
I sat in an excessively huge stuffed chair and lazily leafed through a complex magazine on Information Technology whilst admiring the golden sight of splendid skyscrapers of business Portville from the windows of the reception.
The receptionist was a beautiful shapely woman with red lips who gave me generous smiles that I returned because I was slightly flattered by her obvious interest in me.
There were people waiting and once in a while she would signal to one and give information or directions to them in a perfectly-modulated voice.
The door opened and a tall slim pregnant woman entered. She was wearing a beautiful cream dress that stopped just short of her knees, the front stretched by her distended stomach, and I guessed she might be well into her pregnancy; maybe in her seventh month.
Her face was narrow, the nose sharp, and her eyes deep-set. Her lips was a tight slim dash of a red line. She paused for a moment, and then came fully in, her cold eyes settling on me.
She didn’t take her eyes off me as she walked past, and the expression on her face was so unfriendly that I raised my eyebrows with surprise.
Closely following her was Nicole, who made a face behind the pregnant woman’s back.
I stood up to meet her, and she instinctively put her arms around my neck and kissed me lightly, much to the mock chagrin of the receptionist, and I smiled at her over Nicole’s shoulder.
Nicole waved to the receptionist and we walked out into the elevator and rode down.
Who was that woman?
I asked absently as I drew her into the circle of my arms and kissed her neck.
She whispered hoarsely and kissed my chin.
The pregnant one.
Oh, her. Nell Anthony, resident Director’s wife. She’s usually a very pleasant person, but today she was damn hostile when she saw me. Gene – that’s my boss – says she’s been touchy these last couple of days, though. She’s expected to deliver next month, and maybe her bees are buzzing.
She gave me a dirty look.
We both giggled.
Maybe she’s got the hots for you.
We had to put a belt to it because the elevator stopped, and people began to file in as we stepped out.
We found a taxi and she took me to a little restaurant called the Choppy Chops, run by a South African, where she ordered some African food made from yam boiled in soup and then mashed with red oil and spices, served with light soup and tender meat.
It looked kind of messy to me when I saw it. I guessed the sight of the mashed yam – turned yellowish because of the palm oil used to mash it – turned me off a bit, and I didn’t have the least appetite for it, but amidst giggles she forced a spoonful down my throat, and I was hooked.
It was heavy, but it was extremely finger-licking good.
The soup came with the tender meat, and also an assortment of dried fish, snails, crabs and prawns.
I ate it to the last spoon, and she laughed girlishly over my surprised enthusiasm.
Great, isn’t it?
I nodded as I spooned soup into my mouth.
This is awesome. Let’s do it again sometime.
Go easy. You take too much your first time and it just might open up your belly and give you the runs.
Quite full, I was happily munching a juicy lamb meat when they came in.
Three pregnant women.
They walked in, moving silently among the tables and selected one facing the entrance.
They sat down, straight and stiff, and made no attempt to speak. They were served with bottles of water, and they sat there, drinking water and not chatting to each other.
Nicole had been speaking to me and, receiving no reply to a query, her gaze followed mine and settled down on the pregnant women. She stared for a moment, and then she giggled.
Today’s the day of distended bellies, don’t you think?
I laughed with her…but I was beginning to feel real cold inside.
We left the restaurant at last, leaving the pregnant women still sitting where they were.
Nicole wanted to go to the beach, but I was beginning to feel really weird so I suggested we head for home.
There were two pregnant women in the backseat of the bus we took; they were well-advanced in their pregnancies. They stared at us as we took a side seat just in front of them.
Nicole looked at me with a knowing look, but I could see the uneasiness beginning to form in the depths of her lovely eyes. She sat beside me and clasped my hand.
We were silent for a long time as the air-conditioned bus rolled along, much aware of the silent women breathing down our necks.
There was a story on GTV this morning. It was about a pregnant woman who shot her way out of prison and escaped.
And then I remembered.
It was the story I had seen on television, but the dead crows had made me give it only a cursory attention.
She was right of course.
A pregnant woman who had killed how many – three, four? – cops as she escaped from prison.
The bus stopped, and the electronic doors folded silently open. All the people in front of me were sitting.
The only people who stood up were the two pregnant women. They walked past us calmly, and when they were getting off the last one paused, and she looked along the length of the bus, and our eyes met.
A little buxom, a little short, her belly was stretching a tight black blouse.
Her face was pleasant enough and totally devoid of expression one moment, but just before she turned her face again she appeared to snarl at me, lips drawing back from sharp teeth, eyes filled with hatred.
But it was just for an instant, and when she was out of sight I told myself that I had imagined it all.
As the bus began to move again our heads turned, and we saw that they had joined two other women sitting patiently at the bus stop.
They were also pregnant.
Nicole’s eyes searched my face.
She was troubled.
When we got off the bus I looked into the skies for no reason at all.
The sun which had shone so beautifully in the morning was gone. The sky was clear enough, but I could feel the darkness on the edge of it.
Already little bunches of clouds were beginning to form.
We held hands as we walked towards the taxi stand, brushing people away from us. We didn’t speak, but we were filled with an urgency to get back to the Mission House.
Nicole suddenly nudged my arm and pointed. I looked along her pointing finger.
Across the street were five women, their bellies stretching away from them.
Five pregnant women!
The road sign changed to walk, and quickly we crossed the street. We walked toward the pregnant women.
Their heads swivelled round by one accord as if they were obeying a single command, and their eyes fixed on me.
There was a moment of complete lack of emotions on their faces, and then just as we reached them their lips pulled back in that gross little snarl that other pregnant woman had favoured me with on the bus.
Just then a huge van stopped beside them. The huge door slid to one side from the inside. I saw a flash of a beautiful designed interior, and occupying it were about five women.
The five on the sidewalk climbed in, the door was pulled shut, and the wagon pulled away.
Yaw! What’s going on?
When I looked down at her I saw the beginnings of terror on her face.
I simply asked, and it was because I knew what she was asking, and I didn’t know any way of explaining it to her.
Don’t ask me what! You know what I mean! Did you see who was driving that van?
I shook my head.
That was Nell Anthony! My boss’ wife!
I hollowed out immediately.
Nicole stepped in front of me, and she held my upper arms as her lovely eyes roved my face frantically, looking for explanations, looking for assurance.
Why are the pregnant women gathering? Does it have anything to do with what’s been happening, Yaw?
It hit me with the force of a bull kick.
Why are the pregnant women gathering?
He dispersed with the crows, and now he was gathering a different breed of hosts and arming himself with a terrible weapon.
Without realizing it I swept Nicole into my arms and held her tightly.
Oh Jesus! Oh sweet, sweet Jesus!
The phone was ringing in my breast pocket.
I pushed Nicole back gently and picked the call.
It was Chief Inspector Jack Frost.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Yaw, that you?
Yeah. What’s up?
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
One hundred and three pregnant women, all of whom are expected to deliver within the next two months or less, have all been reported missing. This got anything to do with you?
A hundred and three pregnant women.
I could be related to me, Jack. Please let me get home to Pastor Bonner. We’re just about fifteen minutes away from the Manse. I’ll link up with you soon.
As we got into a taxi I began to listen to the news on the car’s radio.
The panic was beginning to spread. All the news networks were carrying the story, and all across the city there was near chaos. Reporters were running amok, and the cops were having a hell of a time keeping order.
Some of the tales that filtered through about the strange disappearances were nothing short of bizarre.
GTV reported of a woman who had been driving on the high-speed interchange with her husband and two daughters. She had stopped the car right in the middle of the interchange, ignoring the frantic horns of the speeding cars, and had crossed the lanes to a waiting blue van, gotten in, and it had sped off.
She had been seven months pregnant.
Pregnant women had left high-profile meetings and had not been heard of again. There were stories of pregnant women who had gotten violent and wounded their spouses for trying to stop them from leaving.
TV3 had a story of one woman who had shot her husband of thirteen years in the belly and left him writhing in pain as she calmly shot their Alsatian dog, climbed into the family Ford and that was the last time anybody had seen of her.
The fear was palpable in the air, and you could cut slices of it and butter it if you wanted to.
Questions without answers were being thrown, and the more they went unanswered the more the fear and tension increased.
Already little mobs were beginning to gather – chanting for explanations.
We all knew that if something was not done there would be full-scale rioting soon, and it would take a lifetime to clean up the mess that would follow.
People tended to get violent when they were scared, and the story of the missing pregnant women really scared thousands.
It was as unnatural as it was unacceptable. Folks just couldn’t wrap their minds around it. What was happening? Why was it happening? What would be the outcome?
Reports filtered in that most shops and businesses were closing up for the day; stakeholders were scared of what was happening, and everybody wanted to find some kind of protection behind closed doors and follow the development on television.
What added such a calamitous effect to the whole situation was the unusual weather condition that was prevailing across the town.
Experts on weather had been unable to fathom out the freak storm that was developing, and neither were they able to tell just how devastating or not it was going to be.
They warned people, especially travellers, to take extra care and if possible wait it out somewhere safe.
Slowly the sunshine had gone away, and pockets of white clouds had begun to appear.
These had quickly turned into dark ominous clouds with tinges of red – and this scared the living hell out of people, that red tinge – that looked as if the clouds were ringed with blood.
The wind had been slight at first, but gradually it was gathering in intensity, and it was beginning to blow cold spells across the town.
Occasionally thunder boomed out, and fingers of lightning licked across the sky.
It was bad.
It was very bad.
If anything the situation at the manse was even more volatile.
When we got home we all retired into Pastor Anderson’s study and tried frantically to unravel the mystery.
There was no dispute whatsoever that the Legion was responsible for what was happening. The question was why?
Why was it doing it?
Why were the pregnant women being gathered?
So far only Bonner had come out with the explanation that the Legion was going to use the unborn babies as a means of getting to me and forcing me to bend to its wills.
But what form would its attack take?
What was going to happen to all those mothers and all those babies?
This time Nicole refused to be left out, and so came to the study too and stood close to me by the window, holding my hands tightly.
Her heart was reflected on her face, and I glowed warmly inside as I looked at her.
To have a woman as unique as her feel so much for me was very flattering, and even in the paralyzing panic of the moment I revelled in the sweetness of her love.
She learnt about the dead crows from her mother, who had been present and helped her husband load the dead birds into seven huge boxes that were even then still smouldering from the fire that had engulfed them.
And in the midst of our confusion, when we were trying to get into the mind of the foul demons, my phone rang again.
It was Jack Frost once again, and for once the cold cop sounded frantic and almost terrified.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
There was a kind of droning noise in the background.
Yeah, Jack. Are you driving? I can barely hear you!
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Helicopter! I’m in a helicopter. We found the women! They are lined up on Devil’s Drop! Just on the edge, man! They’re warning us to stay away or they’ll fling themselves into the damn sea! Shit man, what the fuck did you do to them? They’re asking for you. You should be here in ten minutes or the first of them would go over the edge. Where are you?
I heard him barking an order to someone, and then his voice came back again.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Don’t move, man! We’re sending the chopper to get you!
As I put my mobile phone back in my pocket I felt my body trembling.
This was it.
This was the climax I had felt the first time I entered Portville.
This was the showdown, and there was every possibility that I would not make it out alive.
The others were looking at me expectantly, but the fear was a permanent visitor in their eyes much as they tried to camouflage it.
I tried to smile, but I knew it looked more like a grimace to them.
JUST LIKE IN CHRIST’S TIME…
I looked into Nicole’s traumatized eyes, and even before I could speak she reached out and took my hands, and I could feel her hands trembling rather badly around me.
The pregnant women are gathered at a place called Devil’s Drop. They’re threatening to fling themselves over if I don’t go to them. The police are sending a chopper for me.
Nicole deflated against me, and as I held her I just couldn’t tell which of us was trembling so badly.
Where – and what – is the Devil’s Drop?
Bonner’s face was white with a terror he could barely hold back as he sat down on the chair in front of the huge desk. He had aged ten years more, or so it seemed, and his eyes bored into mine frantically.
The Devil’s Drop is located on the extreme western end of the town. It is now fenced off and always under guard. It is a little mountain that climbs steeply up to the beach. Below it is a thirty-foot drop to the roiling sea and the jagged slivers of a freak formation of razor-sharp pointed thin rocks. Many people lost their lives at Devil’s Drop. Used to be a favourite suicide site in the past until the local authorities decided enough was enough and closed it up to the public. People who want to die quickly just flung themselves down the drop unto the jagged knife-edge rocks, and sometimes the sea just took their bodies away. Gangsters used it for committing untraceable murders. Now it is under Government control and fiercely guarded to prevent further deaths.
Jesus, the Devil’s Drop! Why the drop?
It is so simple, isn’t it? Quite reasonable and obvious, don’t you think? Why didn’t I think of it. It is the perfect end to the whole matter, isn’t it? What is more apt than a re-enactment of Jesus’ encounter with the Legion? This time, instead of using pigs, our clever host of evil demons plans to use pregnant women! Oh, dear Lord, this is terrible, terrible!
Tell me what is going on, please.
Bonner looked at me, seeing my acute stress, and he nodded with understanding. I saw, however, that his hands were not quite steady as he reached across the huge desk and pulled out a big Bible bound in red.
He took out a pair of spectacles and perched them on the edge of his nose. He was fully concentrated now as he flipped through the pages of the Bible until he came to what he was looking for.
He looked up briefly and his eyes were magnified orbs of fear that sought me out.
Are you conversant with the story of Jesus and the host of demons known in the Bible as the Legion, boy?
I nodded uncertainly.
Vaguely, yes. Jesus exorcised a host of demons inside a man, the demons entered some pigs which ran into the sea and died.
He nodded, his concentration once more on the open Bible in front of him.
A good enough summary. But let’s recap quickly. Here, in the book of Matthew, the story can be found on chapter eight, the verse twenty-eight. Here, Jesus came to Gadarenes, he met two men possessed of the Legion. The book of Mark talks about just one man, whilst Matthew spoke of two men. The argument has been that one of the men was much stronger than the other, and maybe this was who Mark concentrated on. Now, continuing, the Legion first asked if Jesus had come to torment them before their time. Jesus just wanted to exorcise them. Note that the man, as described in Mark, was exceedingly strong and untamed. He cold snap chains that were used to tie him up like threads. Now Jesus allowed the Legion to enter the two thousand swine! These pigs ran down a steep incline into the sea and died.
He closed the Bible with a bang and slowly removed his glasses, which he carefully folded up – it was one of those spectacles which could be folded into a tiny pack – and put it back in his pocket.
Now what happened to the Legion after the pigs choked to death? Did they possess some fishes? I don’t know. Did they escape somehow? That too, I don’t know. Are they the same Legion we’re dealing with? Or another bunch of evil demons that have bunched together? I don’t have the answer to that one also. What I know is that, somehow, this Legion we’re dealing with is enacting that scene from the Bible. Now the scene has changed, and instead of swine the Legion has selected a hundred and three pregnant women and taken them to a death drop overlooking the violent sea. Jesus Christ is the greatest Unblind that ever walked the earth, but we don’t know what happened to that Legion in Jesus’ time that entered the pigs. Does this Legion know something about that event that we don’t? Somehow it is confident that by re-enacting that scene, it can get rid of you, son.
I wondered if the room had somehow gotten colder, or it was just my fear that had gotten stronger.
Bonner leaned back slowly, and when he looked at me I saw the face of a haggard, broken man.
I’m afraid, son. I’m afraid for you. Going to Devil’s Drop you’re also compromising, giving in to the terms of those vicious demons. If I had my way, I’ll advice you to stay right here, and face it another time.
I shook my head slowly.
That would be like sentencing those women and their little unborn babies to death. If I refuse to show up on Devil’s Drop you know they’ll all end up dead.
Bonner shouted, losing his cool for the first time since I met him.
His right palm came crashing down on the desk as he got up on his feet.
But you’re not ready! This thing has been battling for survival for centuries, boy. Somehow, I think it is now calling the shots. Unless you back off and find a way to battle it, on your terms, you could end up dead. Today!
And his words were emphasized by a terrible blast of thunder that shook the walls and a prolonged slash of lightning that blazed through the glass windows, throwing everything into a sharp black-and-white relief for a moment.
We stared at each other, five scared little human beings, and then it happened.
In the depths of my fear, in the aftermath of the paralyzing panic that had assailed my bones, I suddenly felt a coolness spreading through me. I didn’t know where it came from, or why it even came.
Frankly, I had not exercised any form of mental prowess or any known procedure for beating the scaredy little blues. It just happened: one moment I was scared stiff, and the next I was being suffused with this strange serene calmness.
It stilled the trembling of my body, and doused me with a good measure of good feeling. Instead of my fear a slow anger began to stir up in my breast, and I knew that I was on firm ground.
It dawned on me that somehow, somewhere deep inside that great expanse of skies and beyond, a powerful God has just poured a coolant on the sizzling fiery embers of fear in my heart, dousing me with a dose of divine strength that even Unblinds like me could not see…but could feel.
I’m ready, old man.
Tears bubbled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks like diamonds.
I traced a finger down the precious liquid and smiled into her eyes.
I bent and kissed tears off her cheeks lovingly.
Don’t, my precious Princess. Your tears will break me. I’m alright. I’m ready. I need your strength, and the knowledge that I’ll come back to the comfort of your love.
And then we all heard the helicopter.
The sound of its heavy rotors filled the study, and a moment later we caught sight of it through the glass windows as it hovered over the grass.
It was a dark-green army chopper, heavy and a little awkward but supremely capable, especially in bad weather.
Perhaps the most difficult thing was letting Nicole go.
I was at peace within, but that peace didn’t stem from the fact that I was confident of certain victory over the Legion. On the contrary, it was the kind of peace that one would feel and appreciate most in defeat.
I knew I could die, yes, but that fact did not make me cower and tremble with the near panic that had almost overtaken me. And looking at Nicole I was struck afresh by how much I love her, and how much I wanted to stay with her.
But not now.
It was time for battle, and sentiments were luxuries that could not afford right then.
She would wait for me, I knew.
My only prayer was that I would survive the night, and come back into the waiting arms of love.
ON DEVIL’S DROP
I looked at each of them in turn.
Somehow they had become a family, my family, and represented everything that I had lacked in life previously.
“I’ll see you soon, folks.
Nicole’s eyes roved my face, and although I saw the great effort she was making not to cry again, tears nevertheless glistened once more on her lashes.
Yaw, live! Do you hear me, Yaw Boat? Live for me. Please. It is all I’m asking. Live, because I can’t live without you, my love!
I nodded, suddenly not trusting my voice anymore.
Go with God, my son.
He sat down heavily in the chair he had exploded out of.
We’ll be here. Praying. We won’t cease praying.
I nodded again.
They did the right thing in not coming with me to the door.
I walked through the living-room and opened the door to the persistent knocking from outside. I wondered vaguely where all the servants had gone to.
Chief Inspector Jack Frost was standing on the doorstep, his long overcoat buttoned to the neck, a flat-crowned felt hat jammed tight on his head.
His eyes were bloodshot and there were long lines drawn deeply across his face.
He was a troubled and tired man.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
This thing should stop, boy, permanently! None of us can take it anymore.
The chopper’s rotors were still whirling, and the sky was getting darker by the second.
Thunder shattered the sky, so loudly that it almost rendered me deaf temporarily. The lightning that followed split the sky into many webbed parts, causing Frost to lurch forward and grab one side of the door post.
His face was that scared, but he could not speak because the noise made it impossible. His eyes searched my face desperately as I stepped past him and walked toward the helicopter.
A cold wind was blowing, and it caught my coat and lashed it around my body.
I felt the first pinpricks of rain on my face, and again I looked into that terrible sky with its terrible red-ringed clouds, and I smiled grimly.
The hour had indeed come.
We entered the helicopter, and it took off sluggishly again.
I did not know how long we flew, but eventually the helicopter touched down behind a huge rambling flat building.
The rain had intensified, and it was a full-scale lashing torrent now.
Thunder and lightning fought violently for supremacy of the sky, and never in my life had I heard such a cacophony of sounds that were as scary as they were unwanted.
Jeeps, patrol cars, and sedans belonging to the police and BNI were parked haphazardly in front of the building. Ambulances were parked to one side, lights flashing. Uniformed cops and tired-looking Agents were milling around on the veranda.
Frost held onto his trilby with both hands as he got out and raced for the low-slung veranda of the building. I followed him, but I didn’t run. I walked, and I kept my head low as my nose was assailed by the repugnant smells of the Legion; it permeated the whole atmosphere, and I breathed shallowly and sparingly.
The rain was a slanted sleet that cut through material to the bone, but I didn’t really feel a thing as I joined Frost on the veranda.
He gestured toward a narrow corridor lighted with a single bulb overhead.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
My superiors are in there. They want to talk to you.
I shook my head silently.
My nerves were taut, strained to their very ends.
It wasn’t the time for long speeches; it was time for war.
I forgot to ask you how those pregnant got to you and demanded for me.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
One pregnant woman came down here. She was holding a gun aimed at her own head, can you believe that? We ran her down on our database. She’s Maame Adutwumwaa, an investment consultant, and she’s seven months into her first pregnancy. She told us to get you, and that you should come to Devil’s Drop. She backed away and went up the Drop again, and all along that damn gun never wavered or left her temple. She was ready to kill herself because somehow we all felt it wasn’t really her speaking, see? She had this kind of plastic body chem, like she was a zombie or something, and had that glassy look in her eyes, like a sleepwalker. Something bad happened to her, I’m sure, and she scared hell out of us. We let her go.
So right now we’re on Devil’s Drop?
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Yeah. Used to be great tourist site, you know. The Drop itself is up there, just about a kilometre away, climbing upward. Shit, I always say that piece of killing zone was never created by God, if He really exists. Anything that terrible could’ve come only from the crazy head of Lucifer. Never knew what people saw in that place that made them love it so. But not everybody saw it as a nice place to hang out, though, because the death by suicide rate became too high, and so it was closed to the public. We had reason to believe that they were not all suicides, though. Homicides occurred here, and were disguised as suicides.
You let the press know that they asked for me?
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
No. The Senator and the Chief wanted to give them something, but I told them to hold on until you got here. Helicopter flyovers confirmed that the women are bunched close together on the rim of The Drop, their arms linked together. A slight push would send all of them crushing to their deaths on the reefs below. We have agents and cops staking out the place though, and medical staff on standby.
Good. You go on in and talk to the Senator and other big wigs whilst I go up. Remember, nothing to the press, and please, don’t let anybody stray up there. This is very important. No one should go beyond this building! If you’re in contact with your cops and agents, withdraw them immediately.
I began to turn away.
He was on me like a flash, gripping my arm hard.
Most of the people had stopped what they were doing and were staring at us now.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Shit, man, do you know what’s going on here? We have a near-riot situation down there at the main gates! Husbands, fathers, mothers and relatives of a hundred and three pregnant women, not counting the press and other social groupings, all down there breathing down our necks. I don’t know what the shit is going on here, so you better come inside and give us something to feed them!
I pulled my arm free, and glared at him.
I never knew what he saw on my face, but he did the wise thing and stepped away from me.
Go and tell them they’ll have the women back, but no one should follow me up there.
His hand went into his coat.
You’re not going to point a gun at me, are you?
My voice was soft enough, but suddenly he checked the movement of his hand, and it remained still in his coat.
He sighed, and his hand became still.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Fuck you, Yaw Boat. No, I won’t point a gun at you. I never do that to my friends.
I turned away from him without another word and began to walk.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
I didn’t halt, and I didn’t turn.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Take care, and good luck, you bastard. May your God be with you, bastard.
If I could, I would’ve smiled, but as it was my emotions were frozen at the moment, and all I felt was the intense urge to punish.
The sky was rocked by a series of violent lightning, sending everybody scrambling for cover, and then the ground shook frighteningly as if from a mini earthquake.
The sky darkened, the wind howled, and the rain became a fierce driving force that I found terrifying.
I smiled bleakly.
Yeah, Funky Grounds come to life.
A fine day to die.
CHANTING A PSALM IN HELL
I walked toward a signboard tilted wildly to one side, bearing a red arrow on a white background that pointed up. The wording on it said ‘Devil’s Drop’, and it had the proverbial skull and cross bones, also in red.
Small half-erased warnings under it told unauthorized people to stay KEEP OFF.
The path was twisted, rocky and overgrown with weeds. It led upwards, but it was obscured by the driving rain and darkness.
I wasn’t worried.
I knew I would find them.
By their stench, and by the magnetic pull of our opposing powers.
The wind lashed the rain against my unprotected face and neck.
I saw the BNI agents and the cops emerging from the tall grass, walking past me toward the building below.
They gave me strange looks, but none of them stopped. Instead all of them gave me a wide berth, and one even crossed himself quickly.
I didn’t know what they saw when they looked at me, but I guessed it was enough to scare them.
I could feel the evil within the storm … evil that reached out for me and then withdrew, howling, at the last second. The elements of hell had descended, and they used the freak weather for cover.
They puffed, hissed and huffed in the tall grass, lashing it across my legs. They were the hideous gnarled things with fangs that came toward me disguised as rain, drawing their cold talons down my face.
They warred with my mind, howling and whispering into my ears, drawing me away from the rocky path and the gyrating grass … caressing, cooing, driving me crazy until…
I was on the path, but I wasn’t on it.
I saw the sign, a skull over crossed bones on a bloody red background, and I was approaching, and suddenly one of the eyes of the skull opened.
Yes, this was the nightmare at last, the nightmare that had plagued me for one week running after I slept with Elaine in the dark, before all the craziness started!
This was it!
I was now living the nightmare!
It had become real!
It was filled with yellowish pus which dripped down one of its shrunken cheeks, and it winked, and the words appeared below it:
I was in a forest now, dense and wet. The wind still screamed, and the demon-rain still fell. They came at me, their evil fangs gaping wide, their blazing eyes mocking me…
And behind me came the slithering sounds that chilled me to the bone.
I was aware that something sinister was just behind me, breathing down my neck, climbing slowly, slowly, slowly, smiling an all-fangs kind of smile, icy fingers wriggling in anticipation, just inches from my nape…something that came forward with a squishy, dragging kind of footstep, a heavy tread, filled with ominous horrors…
It was tittering, as if enjoying a funny joke, keeping it cool behind me!
I wanted to turn, but the icy fear of the hell I would find behind prevented me. The trees made those terrible faces at me, reaching out to bite, screaming with their booming voices into my ears, reaching out with spiked branches to tear and trample…
And then the forest was gone, and I was in the cemetery; the tombs stared at me, bathed in skin-crawling moonlight, looking so ugly and inevitable, shimmering in the hammering rain and howling wind…
I knew deep down somewhere that this was all an illusion!
This couldn’t be true! Couldn’t be right!
I was not in a cemetery because I was still climbing the grassy hill leading up to the heart of Devil’s Drop.
But the evil incarnate was playing with my mind! Dragging me from that hill and slamming me into this damn cemetery, forest, wherever they wanted me to be!
They wanted to terrorize me and wear me down, to kill my soul!
That was why my mind was being played with!
It couldn’t be real! It wasn’t real!
But suddenly the headless little girl appeared beside my right thigh, all rotten as if she had been buried alive for a month, dripping ghoulish flesh, one rotten finger pointing at something behind me, warning me, begging that I look back at that squishy thing about to bite my neck…
The evil incarnate had managed to steal my mind again slammed me into the cemetery scene of my nightmare!
And then the tombstones began to break and explode outward, hurling sharp-edged slabs at my neck, and that slushy fiend behind me touched my neck for the first time, its fiery hot tongue slobbering at my nape, its sharp-edged fangs trying to find a purchase on my neck and chew it out hunk after hunk… and all the while it was whispering, whispering, whispering…
Do yoush remembersh meesh?
And then the evil dead began to squirm out of their coffins, hissing with vengeance, their eyes blazing, coming at me with moans and howls, rotten and dripping human flesh that smelled like the inner depth of dead hell, reaching out, drooling over my flesh, intent only on chewing me up…
Git away from me, evil!
My heart was beating too fast. I knew I was losing it, going mad!
I needed help out of this lie, out of this atrocity!
The undead zombies were all around me, reaching for me, trying to eat me.
I could feel their evil rotten hands all over me!
I fell to me knees, and as they swarmed over me, their horrible hands firmly grabbing me, their rotten faces peeling to reveal worms underneath, I opened my mouth and screamed shrilly!
The Lord is my Shepherd! I shall not want!
It was a scream that tortured my voice, for I raised my head to the skies and bellowed it out for fear that any moment lost would mean instant insanity…
And then they were gone, the dead zombies, but I couldn’t breathe. I was choking up because…
I was now underwater!
There was hard violent seawater in my mouth, blasting into my nostrils with cruel abandon. I tried to swim upward, but I found to my horror that I couldn’t move my limbs.
I was gripped tightly in the arms of a foul-smelling sharp-teethed seaweed that held me tight and immovable, twisting my body so cruelly that I found my face ground into the sandy floor of the sea, forcing sand into my mouth.
I struggled, but in vain. I screamed, but no sound came out. I could feel my lungs about to burst as the pain increased beyond my physical capabilities…and then I saw it…
A black hissing mass, flowing menacingly towards me through the murky waters of the sea…
That same hissing mass I had seen in Samson Basoah’s secret room…
That terrible anaconda!
Its forked tongue lashed out furiously, its eyes filled with potent evil. It swayed toward me sinuously and effortlessly, and now my terror was so complete that all I could do was make gagging sounds.
It loomed larger and larger, its sleek scaly body trailing behind it, ugly jaws now gaping wide open. The seaweed seemed to throw me then at the snake, and as my body shot freely through the sea that evil reptile turned gracefully, jaws still gaping, and then my head was in its mouth, then my shoulders…
The anaconda was swallowing me whole!
I could feel its sticky fluid on me now, lubricating me as it swallowed. I could feel the heat, the slimy disgusting wetness and then appalling stench in the darkness around me as if it had just eaten a thousand rotted corpses…
But I was dying, I was getting eaten, I was being swallowed by an anaconda…oh Lord!
The scream was from the very depths of my soul, and from the core of a heart that had taken as much terror as it could…
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures! He leadeth me beside the still waters! HE RESTORETH MY SOUL!!
And the sea disappeared, and the seaweed disappeared, and the anaconda disappeared!
And there I was, on a narrow rocky path, hemmed in by tall grass, climbing up and up as the rain, wind and rumbling thunder kept me company.
I was panting, and fear still clutched my heart, refusing to be banished. I could still smell the sickening stench of the reptile, and still feel seawater in my mouth.
I took great swallows of air and bent low, holding unto my knees as I retched and vomited the stink of the fear, purging my system and my mind…
Slowly my heartbeats normalised, and my fear diminished. For the first time I felt the sliminess and sand on my skin and saw that my shoes still had tendrils of seaweed on them.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake!
I had never quoted more than the verse sentence of that Biblical chapter, and here I was, finding strength and direction in that, being rescued from the jaws of the most heinous evil by my heartfelt prayer!
When I straightened finally and got to my feet the weather changed at the same time.
THE PRESENCE OF THE ENEMY
The temperature simply dropped.
It was cold already, with all that bitter rain and terrible wind.
My clothes were soaked through and already my teeth were beginning to knock against each other, and then suddenly the temperature just shot down – to several hundred degrees below zero, I was convinced – and the air was sucked from me as my lungs struggled to cope with that sudden change.
Evil had still not left me!
They were persistent and wicked!
The coughing fit followed, and I bent almost double as my body shook with the whoops and the spittle flew from my mouth.
My hand came away from my mouth, and to my horror I found it smeared with red.
Some organs in me were bleeding.
It was a biting cold, worse than the Eskimos’ worst nightmare.
My ears were frozen, and the blood stopped circulating in my face and neck. I tried to breathe shallowly, but even that little intake of precious air bit my throat and nostrils as if somebody was doing his damnedest to drive knives into them.
My heartbeat was erratic now, and could barely walk.
My lungs screamed for fresh air, and suddenly the raindrops had changed to iced particles with sharp points and edges, slashing into my face like knives that cut up my face to smithereens.
Raising my hands to cover my face was suddenly the toughest task I had ever performed.
Working with the slowness of an arthritic-stricken old man I raised my trembling hands to cover my face, and immediately the spikes began working on them, cutting the back of my hands open, but no blood came out because that terrible cold froze it quicker than any medicine invented by man could.
I tottered like a drunken man, barely able to raise one foot after the other. My eyelids seemed frozen, and my eyes felt as if they were being pulled out forcibly.
There was a sudden stitch in my side, and taking in even the minimum of air stretched my heart to its end.
All around me was ice….
The whole mountain was now frozen ice!
I knew then that I was dying.
I dropped to my knees – no, that was not it; I was brutally driven to my knees by that killing weather – and with the heart of Hercules I tilted my head back and looked into the black heavens.
And then I bellowed.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, FOR THOU ART WITH ME! THY ROD AND THY STAFF THEY COMFORT ME!!
It wasn’t actually a bellow, though. It came out sounding like a rat’s squeak because of my hurt throat.
But it was enough.
The cold was gone instantly.
And so was all that frozen ice!
I was back on the hilltop climbing upwards towards that Devil’s Drop where the pregnant women were waiting.
The rain and the wind remained, though, and just maybe the rain came down a mite harder, and the wind blew a mite severer, but compared to that arctic freak cold, it was pure bliss.
I laughed deep in my throat – but actually it was kind of hysterical, I guessed – and I wondered whether that other sound I made was indeed a snicker, as I had intended, or just naked sissy crying.
Whatever it was, my heart and lungs were freed from that agony, and I gulped in sweet air with total joy.
Thunder roared up above with violent succession, and I looked up slowly.
I had come to the end of my journey.
I was on Devil’s Drop.
The grass was sparse here.
The ground was brown rock, dyed jet-black by the rain. Crazy rocks stood out from the land all over. I was very high up, and below I could hear the roiling sea crashing on the hard rocks and reefs below.
The pregnant women were lined up in a huge semi-circle along the edge of the Drop, linked arm to arm. I saw the remains of a protective metal railing, chest high, lying in the ground or jutting from the ground here and there.
All the railing had been removed – forcibly in the dark of the night, no doubt – and that wide space remained.
The women themselves were standing straight and stiff.
They were all naked.
Their body hair was gone: head, armpit, pubis, eyebrows and eyelashes. Their huge bellies stuck out like appendages …
One hundred and three naked and pregnant women with no hair anywhere on their bodies, standing with linked arms…and as God was my witness I had never seen a more pathetic and macabre sight since.
Their bodies shivered from the rain and the wind, the cold no doubt terrible, and I felt a deep compassion for them, and a seething fury at the ones who could reduce the wonder and magic of humanity to such base insult.
On each forehead the mark of evil blazed:
Drawn in blood, inflamed with evil and burning with intent.
Their eyes were different, too. I saw all shades of colours, and all sorts of shapes.
So many women lined up, their number almost forming a complete circle around me.
Terrible and disgusting demon eyes glared at me from the faces of the women, and I knew they were not themselves; they had all been occupied. I could see the fury in those eyes, the sheer malevolence and their determination to hurt and destroy.
The Legion had spread itself into the pregnant women!
Such blatant disregard for decency was too much for me, and it triggered off an alien fury in me.
I was so consumed with wrath that I trembled. B
ut I remembered how cunning the Legion was. The whole scene had been calculated step by elaborate step since the very first time I had seen the story of the missing pregnant women on GTV.
My journey up here had been predefined to fill me with unreasonable anger, calculated to make me careless and to fly in with all guns blazing.
But I was careful, really careful. I fought for control as I stood watching rigidly, forcing my little reasoning capacity to the fore.
I wasn’t going to get through this hour working solely with the passion of the heart. This was a fine chess game, the final entrée, the great decider, and I needed to be prepared and strong.
And so I just stood there and waited, watching all those naked big-bellied, demon-occupied women dispassionately. The wind buffeted them, directing them ever so gradually toward the great fall beyond.
Finally they split through the middle, and Andrew Okai appeared.
He was dressed in an all-white affair.
His was an expensive and elegantly-tailored white suit, complete with a white shirt, shoes and tie. He was the perfect picture of elegance even in that crazy weather.
But something strange was going on here.
He was standing bang in the centre of the rain, but I noticed that his clothes were not wet – and were definitely not getting wet. The rain belted him as much as it belted me, but it was like water off the back of a smooth stone: he was completely dry.
But then he was no ordinary human being. Even from the distance that separated us I noticed how different he was.
Something bad had happened to him.
Something really bad.
It began with his hair.
The once black mass was now a freak thing; one side was still black, and the other side was entirely grey. It wasn’t a hair dye application, no. This was for real.
His forehead appeared bigger and flatter. His eyes, dear Lord, were absolutely round now, and he had no eyelids. Just those huge round things, and of course they blazed amber with traces of red: burning fire, the eyes of a demon.
Thou prepares a table before me, in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord ever! Amen!
Andrew Okai’s beaked nose seemed longer and thinner now, and his ears shot out of the sides of his head like antennae, the tops honed down to points, with tufts of grey hair bunched around the tips.
His lips were so thin that it appeared like a slit, and when he smiled I noticed that his teeth were filed somehow to sharp little points, and that instead of a tongue there were hundreds of wild green things in his mouth, beating around like little snakes.
You wouldn’t believe where I’ve been!
When he spoke little tendrils of smoke emitted from his mouth, nostrils and ears, and his smile was as mean as a venomous snake’s kiss.
Can guess. You look like shit. Like some real funky shit from Funky Grounds!
He threw back his head and roared, a high-pitched emission that sounded more like a bleat.
I like that. I really like that.
And just before he stopped laughing and closed his mouth fire burst out from his mouth, and was quickly stopped as he closed his mouth.
And then I knew, somehow, that Andrew Okai had become a Devil, or something close to it. I knew too that if I failed in my attempt to put him down the world – at least for some particular staunch Christians – would be a very horrible place indeed.
Oh, Yaw, Yaw, Yaw! The power you passed up. If only you knew the sheer power you would’ve commanded I’m sure you would’ve been more cooperative. I’m going to rule the world, boy, and I have you to thank for that.
I wiped rain from my eyes with the back of my hand.
You have nothing that I envy.
The smile died from his face, and he looked at me with his fire eyes blazing.
He was pissed off, because I saw smoke emerging from the corners of his eyes this time, and from his nose, curling slowly upward to be lost in the slashing rain.
He snarled, and that evil face was suddenly filled with enough malevolent intention to freeze the heart of the less endowed. It didn’t faze me one bit, though.
Is your life that unimportant to you? Why, that makes our little game all too easy. Less fun, maybe, but easy.
Cut the crap, demon! Why did you bring me here?
He smiled an all-fangs smile, and deep down in his throat I saw a raging inferno, and suddenly I understood why he was not wet despite the heavy rain; he was burning hot inside there.
To kill you, what else?
By blackmailing me with the deaths of these pregnant women?
He pointed a finger at me, and I saw that his hands, too, were quite different.
These were not fingers.
These were old, gnarled wriggly living things that seemed to have tiny eyes and mouths. They were about eight or ten of them on each hand, scary little shits that kept on intertwining and wriggling and meandering.
Just looking at them filled me with so much repulsion that I almost threw up.
I can see my new persona is offending your good sensibilities, but don’t worry, this is just for this show. After this I’ll go back to my more affable and suave self, you know, to draw the world to my feet. Actually I’m impressed. You’re a brilliant boy. Yes, I mean to blackmail you using these pregnant women, but they are not my targets. I know you might not care two hoots about the women, but what about the unborn babies, huh? Can you watch them die?
What’re you talking about?
I suddenly felt weak as my mind began to picture the evil mind that was behind this, and the kind of horror he wanted to expose me to.
Ah, now I see you’re getting it fast. Yes, cunt, the babies. Why did you think I took those pregnant women? All of them are around thirty-six weeks in their pregnancies, the stage that is basically known as full-term, see, meaning they are now human beings, cunt. What do you think happens when an expectant mother dies? If they are in a hospital why, an immediate surgery might just save the poor baby! But out here? Can you imagine what would happen? The baby would be alienated, cut short from all supplies, oxygen, mainly! It would begin to struggle in the woman’s womb as its life source is slowly choked out. It would be just like taking the baby and strangling it with your own hands. Picture that little thing squirming violently, seeking for a release. Can you stand by and watch all that happen, and have a clean conscience in the end? No, I don’t think so. You’re a stupid fool, full of sentimental and moral nonsense, and that is what will kill you in the end.
My throat went dry suddenly.
So that was it.
This was the horror he had planned.
Lord, why hadn’t I thought of it? I shook my head numbly.
You can’t do that! No, you can’t touch the innocent babies. God will not allow that!
But I was aware of the doubt in my voice.
Oh, Yaw boy, you silly little cunt, who said anything about touching the poor babies? Of course I can’t harm the babies! Why, didn’t your master say that the children shall inherit His kingdom and that we should suffer the little children to go to Him? They are untouchable, unlike their mothers, who are so touchable, baby! This bunch of women I have assembled right here are the ugliest, most vicious and ardent sinners you can ever come across. They’re as far removed from your master as day and night, and of course people like that aren’t protected by any of that shit, and I can do whatever I like with them!
Cockshit! Only a piece of dirt like you can reason like that. They may be sinners, and they may be far removed from the presence of God, but they are carrying children that God has ordained to do His work, children that have great futures and must be born! God will not give you dominion over the mothers!
You’re a fool. To everyone his own future! That’s why your Bible says everybody must work out his salvation in fear and trembling. There are no biases, cunt. To each one his own destiny. These babies are unfortunate to have mothers like these, and because of that they are accursed. Look at Thelma over there. Do you know she killed four men to escape from prison? You know what put her in prison? She was serving a life sentence for killing her husband. She chopped up his body into several chunks and hid them in her deep freezer, eating him a little at a time. The first prison guard she killed this dawn was the one who raped her in prison and made her pregnant.
I looked at the woman he indicated.
Her belly was not that big, but yes, she was the woman whose picture I had seen on television. She looked at me, but it was the demon in her doing the staring of course.
And Angela, the bombshell over there, the one with the tiny titties, see her?
I looked at her, and she snarled at me, the sickly green eyes filled with hatred.
Why she’s a famous porn actress. Ever watched Insatiable Pussy? No? She was the fucking star!
He tittered at his own wit, emitting a blast of fire from his mouth.
Did you get it, the fucking star? In that movie she spent three hours screwing a total of fifty-six men non-stop! She got pregnant when a guy she was supposed to be doing anal sex with in one of her recent movies sprinkled his cum on her pussy, and the squirmy little bastards went right in and impregnated her without her knowledge. Took four months for her to realize she was pregnant and by that time the doctors warned that an abortion could kill her.
He reached out and fondled the breasts of a tall willowy woman who smiled lecherously, her cat’s eyes inflamed with lust even as rain water poured off her.
She spread her legs as the Andrew-Demon crudely fondled her between her thighs, and she moaned gutturally with unbridled lust.
THE BAD DEATH OF JASMINE
Andrew removed his hand from between the woman’s thighs and rubbed his hands on her breasts. She grunted with lecherous lust and pushed her groin towards him.
Andrew turned and fixed me with one of his evil grins.
Jasmine here is a beaut. She has killed twenty-four men. She was raped as a child by a drunk stepfather whom she killed when she was just fourteen. Stabbed him to death whilst he was sleeping and then calmly showered and went to bed. No one blamed the little tiny girl who was obviously so confused. Since then her hatred for men hasn’t abated. She traps them with her beauty and stabs them silly. Heard of the Portville Slasher? Here she is, in person! But guess what, she works as the prim and proper secretary at a small orphanage. Got herself pregnant when she killed her last victim just at the point he was climaxing. She has become so incensed with hatred for the baby that she plans to kill it as soon as it is born. All the others have equal grim tales. We have proper housewives in this bunch who are frequent adulterers and whoremongers. You wouldn’t believe the kind of sick women we have in this city. Bottom line, my friend, is that all these women are doomed, but the fates of their children depend entirely on you.
I tried to fight it, but to no avail.
The fear came back, strong and uncontrollable. I felt the situation getting out of hand, spiralling out of my control.
Here was an adversary who never overlooked any detail, who mastered in planning evil. And here I was, a novice who had never encountered anything like this, and didn’t know just what to do next.
As the rain pelted me I was aware that deep down in my skin I was perspiring.
The former Yaw Boat would’ve said to hell with it all and walked away.
But not now; this Boat was different, and as I stared at that terrible caricature in front of me I was aware that I could be staring at death, and that within the next few minutes my luck could run down.
The situation is simple, cunt. Centuries ago your master sent my predecessors into a host of pigs, but this time the ball game is different. Only you have the power to give me serious problems in my life, and unfortunately I can’t do anything to harm you physically. Hell, you have no wife or children whom I could prey on. So here’s the deal. I’ll give you a gun, and you’ll shoot yourself in the head. Once you die, I’ll release those women. All the demons in them would come back into my body, and their babies would be okay. If you refuse I’ll send all of them over this cliff right into the raging sea below. It is your call.
I stared at him.
I could exorcise them now, instruct all of them to leave the women, somehow, and then –
Don’t even try it, cunthole!
His voice was a thundering, jangling sound that shook the earth I was standing on and caused the women to tremble, dragging them dangerously toward the edge.
This time smoke billowed out in great clouds from every pore in his head, causing me to lose sight of his head except the fiery-red flames of his eyes.
The smoke dissipated, and suddenly there was a gun in his hand.
He still had a hold on Jasmine the Portville Slasher, and before I could move a muscle he pressed the gun against her right temple and pressed the trigger.
It was a scream wrenched from my very depths.
But of course, it was too late.
The left side of Jasmine’s head exploded outward in a messy gooey of blood, skull bones, brain matter and other stuff that splattered the bodies of the naked pregnant women nearest to her, but these were washed away almost immediately by the rain.
Jasmine fell slowly on her side, and then unto her back.
I was dimly aware that I was screaming, that I was suddenly at her side, holding her head and gibbering, trying with all my might to heal her.
I was aware of a six-limbed cat-like demon with a bloated yellowish belly blasting clear of her, its face filled with hatred as it looked at me, and then it smashed into Okai’s body.
Briefly the flames in the man’s eyes were replaced by the harsh eyes of the catlike demon, and then it was gone, dragged into the whole, and the flaming red eyes were back.
Don’t fuck with us, cunt!
The booming voice came, and I knew that all traces of Okai were gone. I was dealing with the bona fide Legion now, and the stakes had just reached the ceiling.
Blood oozed out of the hole in Jasmine’s head and covered my hands, mixing with the rain water.
Get up, oh please, please Lordblet her get up!
I tried in vain to cover the hole in Jasmine’s head.
Look at her belly, cunt! Shit, isn’t that a beaut!
And then I saw it.
It was contracting and bulging, the baby thrashing in its death throes.
I screamed, unable to watch and raised my head to that big sky.
Oh, God, no! It is just a baby! Please spare it the pain!
And then I saw the slight spectral spirit leaving the body first. Just a tot, still curled in the foetal position, at peace, seemingly asleep.
I watched as it ascended slightly, and then suddenly I was blinded by that bright light I had seen that terrible time Okai had shot me in the hotel and almost killed me.
It was the Angel of Death, that same brilliant indistinct figure, hovering gently and waiting. It took hold of that spectral baby gently, and the two of them merged.
One moment they were there, and the next they were gone. I looked at Jasmine and saw her belly had stilled. The baby was at a safe place; a good place.
My shock had not abated, and I still gasped for breath.
The tears were still locked deep in my dry throat as I witnessed the horror that had just happened.
And then through the torrential rain it appeared; a dense ashy-white cloud with things in it, things that were not nice. I gasped with trepidation as it worked its way violently toward Jasmine.
I let her body go and back-pedalled on my ass, watching with dazed eyes as dark claw-like hands reached into the body of Jasmine, and her soul surfaced.
I saw the horror on her face as she stared first at the dark cloud, and then she swivelled and took a look at her dead body.
The cloud thing held her tight, and I saw her mouth opening into a silent scream of terror, her hands coming up, palms outward as if to ward off the evil incarnate.
The things in the cloud were howling as they swooped on her; they didn’t appear to be grabbing her … they tore at her, slashing their claw-like fingers down, forcibly making her a part of them.
They were so violently vicious that I knew there was no force on earth that could stand the fury of that thing. Finally they had her firmly in them, and with whoops of sheer evil they bore her away.
Okai’s taunting voice seemed to reach me from afar. I was still on my buttocks and l looked up at him slowly.
He was holding the gun toward me.
Had enough, or you bloody well want to see more? Go on, take it and blow up your brains, or you’ll watch the first batch of them go over the edge.
He could’ve seen the tears on my face if it hadn’t been because of the rain, and if he had had the power he would’ve seen the shocked state I was in, and the pure wrath that the Legion’s act of murder bred in my heart.
My gaze fell on the still form of Jasmine as I stood up, and the skewed bulge of her belly.
Such evil, such destruction. None of them should be allowed to exist. No, not here on earth.
You were fucking wrong, demons! That little baby went to the right place. It was time for him to go home. His work is complete now. You arsehole, you had it going right until you shot Jasmine. By her death I realized that you lied. You don’t have any fucking dominion over the unborn babies!
A POWERFUL UNBLIND
I screamed out the last sentence, and I saw Okai flinch.
It wasn’t only him – those nasty demons in the women were shaken up too, because suddenly they were no longer looking indifferent. Suddenly all their attention was focussed on me.
Okai snarled, emitting flame and smoke.
Don’t push me, cunt! I never once said I had dominion over the damn fucking babies! I told you the women are mine, that I’ll fucking kill all of them if you fight this. I’ll send twenty of them over the side right now!
That jolted him.
He cocked that crazy head to one side and regarded me, and for the first time I saw the brief uncertainty that flashed across his face.
You can’t kill the babies because they are God’s creation, entirely separate from their mothers, or fathers. You can kill the women, sure, because they’re sinners, but you can’t touch the fucking babies who don’t know what the fuck sin is! Go on and kill the mothers, arsehole, I don’t give a damn. But you better make sure you don’t harm even one strand of hair of the babies otherwise the wrath of God will be on you, cunt!
You think so, Yaw?
No, I don’t think so, you fucking demons! I know so! You could’ve had your way if you had just assembled a group of women up here. Shit, I couldn’t have watched you slaying innocent women, sinners or not. I would’ve shot myself to stop that massacre. But you played it too hard for your own good. By picking pregnant women you have insured me, because as long as they have those innocent children in their bellies, children God has purposes for, despite the sins and crimes of their mothers, you can’t kill them, and because they need their mothers to live, you can’t harm those women too unless, like Jasmine, this hour is their appointed time, but I doubt it. I really doubt it. Go ahead and try, cunt.
He turned round and waved an arm. About twenty of the women tottered real close to the edge.
Their balance was such that they should have gone straight down into the sea below, smashing their bodies on the rocks and reefs, but they were held back and pulled from the edge by a powerful force we could not see.
Okai bellowed, partly in rage and partly with fear, and tried again.
This time a group of them were hurled violently backward, completely off the little ledge they were standing on, hovering in space for a brief moment as if they were going to fall down the reef, but again they came forward off the space and landed safely on firm ground.
He whirled on me, eyes burning infernos, and tried to aim the gun at me.
My right hand was already raised.
In the name of Jesus, be still, demons!
He snarled and lunged viciously at me, but was pulled up short, as if a giant hand holding a leash had yanked him backward.
With a loud cry he let the gun go and lunged again and again at my throat, but each time he was brought to halt by the same invisible force.
You know what, I think I heard somewhere that anybody with faith the size of a pea can move a mountain right into the sea. Shit, you won’t believe the fucking amount of faith I have now, demon. Hell, I’m so full of faith that I think I could burst. Do you know what I can do with faith like that?
I raised my hand again.
And he went absolutely berserk.
With terrible growls and wails it struggled violently. Okai was gone now, and they kept on manifesting rapidly.
First it was that horned three-legged brute, then it appeared like a huge great cat, and then it was a sitar, then a centaur. The ground shook and the rock cracked as it struggled, but it was held in one place, unable to break free.
The stench of its fear was so great it seemed to gag me.
Suddenly it happened.
It began at my feet … a brilliant light that was so glorious that it blinded even me. It climbed up my legs, thighs waist and by the time it got to my head I felt the energy sizzling in me, the supreme power that drove away the fear and filled me with a calm power that almost made me cry.
This wasn’t one of the force-fields I had seen so far. This was something different, more like a uniform, an impregnable fortress that made me feel cosy and in total control.
I was the Unblind.
When I looked up I found myself facing the weird-looking Andrew Okai.
He was now crouching and cowering, back turned toward me, shivering and whimpering.
The demons were now subdued deep within it, none of them wanting to reign supreme, to manifest in the presence of my glorious force-field.
In the name of Jesus, you demons, come the fuck out of the women and Andrew, right now, you motherfuckers!
I spoke calmly, and didn’t even bother to raise my hand.
The demons screamed then, their terrified evil voices blasting over me, their anguish expressed in vocal dimensions that would’ve seared the heart of the cruellest human to pity, but not me.
The only emotion I felt when I heard them was glee.
Okai and the women were all on the ground now, thrashing wildly, their hate-filled eyes full of agony and yet still defiant.
NAY, NAY, NAY, NAAAAYYY!! Let us be, you cunt-eating, shit-licking menstrual dirt!
Their voices were all around me, from the women and from the Okai thing, blasting through my mind in echoing crescendos!
I had no more patience for them!
Get the fuck out of them now, in Jesus’ name!
Their struggle was so fierce that the whole ground shook as if it was experiencing a major earthquake.
LET US BE!!!
But already I could see them beginning to leave the bodies of the women.
They shot out of them, globule after globule of evil.
First they tried to flee, but they rose a few feet and then crashed to the ground. The free women got to their feet dazedly, looking around them, eyes wild, screaming and covering their nudity with arms.
Some touched their bald heads and freaked out. They began to flee down the path as they saw the others still thrashing on the ground.
There was nothing I could do but watch helplessly as the confusion unfolded.
The pile of demons grew. As soon as one came out it quickly formed part of the whole, and their cries of anguish was almost impossible to bear.
The Okai demon still thrashed, but I could see that already the real Andrew Okai was emerging from the host of demons. I could see a whole right side of his body coming out.
Half a face, half a trunk and one leg … until finally he was thrown out to crash heavily on the hard ground. He struck his forehead on a jutting rock and remained still, a trickle of blood already running from the huge bulge still forming on his forehead.
The confused pregnant women were all free now, and the noise they were making was terrible.
I ordered, and they all fell silent immediately, watching me with horror all over their faces. I pointed at the path that led down to the huge building where Jack Frost and the rest were waiting.
Go down there. There are people waiting to help you.
The noise began all over again as they trudged toward the path and began to run.
I could understand their fear and panic, but there was nothing I could do to help them. I watched them until the last had disappeared from sight around a bend in the path.
Andrew Okai was still out cold.
I looked into the sky. The freak rain had stopped quite suddenly, and the clouds had gone away. From semi-darkness the weather was now fair and fine, and the sun had emerged from wherever it had been hiding.
I sighed deeply.
Life was good.
Finally I turned toward the Legion.
They were indeed many.
LEGION NO MORE
They were all bunched together, thousands of semi-transparent bastards.
Different shapes, different sizes.
Physically they were as indescribably frightening as they were repulsive. These were not in the class of the minis like Hideous had been.
These were the real deal; hairy, freak-faced motherfuckers that struck terror right into the heart.
I looked down at them.
In all their glory, although they were really frightening, they looked absolutely pathetic devoid of a host. Their stench was unbearable, and they kept on making a mumbling kind of sound, and it took me a while to realise that they were indeed speaking different ancient languages.
Here they were, all of them, hundreds and hundreds of demons!
Hordes of them, wicked and savage!
These were the motherfuckers who had smashed my Dad’s head against a concrete roof and killed him. These the damn freaks who had killed my mother and my grandfather!
Finally, we were here!
I saw that bunched together they had formed the figure of the great three-legged, three-fingered horned beast that my father manifested into, the same savage beast that had formed the Shadow-Thing that had terrorized and beaten the hell out of me some months back.
I’m gonna destroy y’all!
A few of them chuckled.
I looked for the one with the flaming eyes, and wasn’t surprised to see that it had floated to the fore. It looked like a giant spider. It was many-limbed, hairy and horned.
Its eyes flamed at me.
WHO THINKETH THOU ART? THE SON OF GOD? YE HATH ALREADY DONE THAT WHICH YE ARE EMPOWERED TO DO! YE CAN BANISH, BUT YE CANST DESTROY US!
It smirked with contempt, and I heard the little babbling coming from them.
They were chuckling. I even heard a few blasting sounds, and for a moment I almost laughed as I realised they were farting at me, scoffing me.
But I knew them now.
I knew how good liars they were and how they could twist the truth.
What they didn’t know was that I had matured in the game, and had picked up a few tricks on the way.
That froze them.
Suddenly I saw their shifting glances, and realised just how nervous they were.
SAYS THY CREATOR! THERE ART TIMES APPOINTED FOR JUDGEMENT. GO BACK TO THE GOOD BOOKS AND ACQUINT THYSELF WITH THE TRUTH. THY MASTER CASTETH US INTO SWINE. WE ASKETH IF HE COMETH TO TORMENT US BEFORE THE TIME APPOINTETH! THOU CANST TORMENT US BEFORE THE TIME SO APPOINTETH BY THY CREATOR!
I don’t know shit! I don’t know anything in the Bible. I just know that I want to destroy the lot of you. I wanna fuck you up big time, I swear!
THOU HATH NO POWER OVER US! ONLY THY MASTER CANST DESTROY US, AND EVEN THAT WILL BE ON THE GREAT DAY OF JUDGEMENT. YE SHOULD KNOW THAT! IT IS SO WRITTEN IN THE HOLY BOOK. IT IS SO APPOINTETH BY THY MASTER, AND NO MORTAL CANST CHANGETH THAT HOUR!!
Bullshit! I don’t know anything about that stuff. All I know is that I have this great faith, and the Bible says with faith I can do anything, baby, ANYTHING! And anything is anything! Like I can just go ahead and fuck you up with faith!
They were not mumbling and farting now.
I could see by the way they huddled close together and their alarmed glances that they were damned scared. Yes, they had a right to be.
The game was all about confusing your opponent’s mind. They had done that from old, quoting their way through the bibles until the Unblinds were reduced to pulp.
Not so me.
My greatest weapon lay in the fact that I knew next to nothing about the stuff in the Bible. All I had now was my faith in the supreme power I had been endowed with, and a true belief in the course my life had taken.
I was like a child revelling in his toy, daydreaming about the great feats I could achieve. I was a novice, and that made me a powerful professional.
You won, fuckface! You defeated us! You should banish us into the fishes in the sea, the birds in the sky, anywhere – but you cannot destroy us.
I giggled then. I giggled silly and shook my head at the bunch of stinking demons.
You’re scared, aren’t you? So scared that you’ve stopped that ye and thou and canst bullshit! So you can speak modern English, you blasted pieces of evil dung! But I didn’t win shit. Man, do you know how bad I’ll feel if after all that you’ve done I let you guys go scot-bloody-free into some damn fishes or birds?
(screeching, strident, terrified)
Listen to us,, goat! You do not have the power to destroy us! Let us be!
It was evident that they were all now absolutely terrified, and now they chattered with terror and panic reflected on their ugly faces.
I let it go on, revelling in the fact that for once they were spooked.
Leave us alone! We shall leave this earth alone, and not worry another human. We shall not persecute any of you anymore!
I was silent.
They noticed it and thought I was confused.
They began their babbling again.
What they didn’t know was that I was thinking about the most painful slow destruction that I could put on them.
Look, there are a lot of fishes beyond. Just command and we shall enter them, never to come to your world again!
I looked at them, and I was sure they saw the wrath on my face because they fell suddenly silent, and they began to whimper.
Who do you think I am – Jesus Christ?
You are taking things into your own hands! There are punishments attached to that! You cannot act like God and take His powers! You want to go beyond your powers! Surely, you wish to please your Creator? I don’t think you want to incur the displeasure of your master by doing what only He has the power to do!
Belt it, demon, that cheap shot is wasted on me. I remember in Sunday School teacher saying we should ask for anything we want from the Lord in the name of Jesus, and it shall be granted. Fuck, I’m gonna ask the Lord for your destruction.
That was when they began to shriek with terrible fear, which was cut short abruptly when their leader spoke.
You stupid, foolish moron! You are misrepresenting the scriptures! That quotation mean food, clothe and shelter. Maybe healing and others! It did not mean if you want the sky to fall down, and ask it in the name of the Lord then the sky will fall down!
And why bloody not?
I said it fiercely, enjoying the game to its maximum.
They saw the futility of their ways in my face, and they heard it in my voice. When I raised my hand they began to screech and struggle.
Their fear made them stink, and at that moment I found nothing more pleasurable than to witness their terror. When I approached them they cringed from me, and their babbling of fear rose to a crescendo.
I raised my hand.
This is for my parents, demons. Burn, demons! In the name of Jesus just fucking burn!
They tried to flee then.
Desperately they rose en masse, struggling with such ferocity that the ground shook and a mini-storm was whipped up.
And then they crashed back down, and the rocky surface cracked at the impact, forming a small crater that adequately accommodated them.
The Legion screamed.
It was a sound not fit for human ears. It was a sound of latent agony and terror. A terrible thing to hear, and it effectively cut off any exultation that still remained in my heart.
Their faces were contorted into lines of raw fear. They whimpered and gibbered in their alien language that ended in tortured wails.
Lightning split the sky as if a giant torch had been lit up there, lightning that was webbed, spread across the sky like a terrible mat, and then a flash of silver came down and hit the demons!
And they burned.
It was not amber flames, nor blue flame, nor red flame.
This was a black light, a harsh energy that cut and exterminated. It was so terrible to see their great agony, and I stepped back slowly from the crater, wishing I could block my ears.
In fulfilling what I wanted so badly, a part of me was gone, and I knew it would take a lot to bring it back.
The Legion continued to scream and screech for a long time in their agony, because there were thousands of them!
Finally silence reigned.
I walked slowly toward the crater. They were all gone, and inside there it continued to shine pure silver.
They were gone.
I walked slowly past the crater and stopped at the edge of Devil’s Drop.
I gazed into the boisterous roiling sea far below, and saw how it crashed violently against the rocks.
I understood why Frost had been sure that such a place wasn’t created by God.
I stared for a long time.
It was beautiful.
But my soul was laden with a sadness I could not push away.
The voice of Jack Frost suddenly cut into my numbed thoughts, and I turned slowly.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Hey, what happened here?
He was standing over the body of Jasmine, and his voice was horrified.
He knelt on one knee and took a good look.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Good Lord, she was shot?
Heard you got a serial killer dubbed the Portville Slasher.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Yeah, yeah. But what’s that got to do with this?
I nodded toward the body.
Knew her only as Jasmine, but she happens to be your serial killer.
He exhaled sharply, obviously shocked and taken aback.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Jesus! You don’t say! But what happened here? Who slipped her the bullet?
I nodded at the inert form of Andrew Okai.
He was just beginning to stir, and he was making little frantic sounds deep down in his throat. Somehow he hadn’t been directly responsible for Jasmine’s death, but he was guilty.
He had had the wish.
His crazy urge for power had made him drunk, and at the time the trigger had been pulled he hadn’t been totally submerged by the demons.
He had done it because he had intended all along to make a scapegoat out of one of them. I wish he had died, but that wasn’t so.
I couldn’t kill him in cold blood, no matter how bad he was, and thus I had no compunction in letting him take the full responsibility for the woman’s death.
He was an heir to his father’s riches, and could probably afford heavy representation in court and probably get minimal sentence once it was established that the victim had been a prolific serial killer, but I hoped he wouldn’t ride free.
If he did get away I would get him. He had sold his soul, and he was susceptible to further attacks from any passing senior-ranked demon horde.
Jack Frost’s medical team soon arrived, and they carted the body of Jasmine away. Andrew Okai was hurled none too gently to his feet, and although groggy they slapped cuffs on him, and led him away.
I watched it all with detached interest.
I was aware of the odd looks they gave me from time to time. They were all especially interested in that silvery crater, and I heard them discussing it in depth.
I said nothing, and I never meant to say anything. There would be speculations about that crater for a long time, but none of them would ever come even close to the real truth, I knew.
Soon I was alone with Jack Frost.
He came to stand beside me, and we gazed down at the cruel beauty of the Devil’s drop.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Whatever it was, it is over now, right?
It is over.
He sighed heavily and fingered his stubble.
CHIEF INSPECTOR FROST
Well, I’ll have a peaceful sleep tonight, anyway. I don’t know what happened here, and I know people are going to remember the sight of so many bald and naked pregnant women running down the hill for a long time. You did make a lot of people happy, though, and for that the politicians have asked me to extend a special thanks to you. Let’s save that, though, for another time right?
I nodded again.
Yeah, another time, most definitely.
He hesitated for a moment, looking at me hard.
But you look like shit. Come, I’ll give you a ride home.
I smiled sadly at him.
No, you go ahead. Wanna be here awhile.
He was quite for a long time, and then he smiled and saluted.
Without another word he turned and trudged back down the path.
I stared after him for a moment, and then I turned and stared into the heart of the Devil’s Drop.
I was there for a long time, before finally turning away and making the slow downhill walk back to the building.
I went outside and hailed down a taxi.
When I got out of the taxi Nicole came flying out of the house to meet me.
Her momentum almost knocked us over. She smelled like roses, and I held her tight, revelling in the comfort of her arms. I crushed her to my chest, and all the great love I felt for her came pouring out.
I kissed her as if she were the last drop of water in the Kalahari Desert.
Our kiss was fierce and violent, and it was mingled with our tears. Finally she tore herself free long enough to look searchingly into my face.
It is over?
My heart bled for her as I nodded.
It is over. Finally.
She nodded, and a radiant smile crept across her face.
Come inside and rest, my love. You deserve a long rest, and then we’ll talk about marriage, and babies, and the golden life that awaits us.
I smiled sadly at her.
Yes, my love, yes.
Pastor Anderson and his wife met us before we went through the door, and both of them hugged me long and hard. The woman’s face wasn’t looking so old and leathery now.
Her eyes weren’t so sad and terrified.
Sure, a little of the old feelings still lurked in there, but she was okay now. Hope had been born in her, and I knew that in a few weeks, maybe months, she would be alright and would bloom again.
Thank you, my son. Thank you very much!
Charles Bonner was the last.
He was in the living-room when we entered. He stopped in front of me and looked hard at me. His tiny old eyes were unfathomable as he stared me down.
Saw the news on television. They were all free. You saved them. It is done, isn’t it?
It is done, old man. Don’t ask me how, but I want you to know that the Legion perished.
He reached out and put his right hand on my shoulder.
Thanks be to God, son.
His eyes looked troubled as he looked at me, and I couldn’t meet his eyes.
After a moment he turned and quietly left the room.
Nicole took my hand and smiled happily at me, her heart written on her face.
Come with me now, my love. You need to sleep.
Hours later, as I lay drowsily on my bed, she kissed me again and headed for the door.
She stopped at the open door and turned.
She looked so fresh, so shy, so beautiful.
Yes, my Prince?
My throat went dry as a huge lump of pain got lodged there.
I fought for control and forced the tears down.
I love you, Nicole. I’ll always love you. Don’t ever forget that.
Her face opened up in a radiant smile.
It was a look of sheer happiness. She blew me a kiss, went out, and quietly closed the door.
On the stroke of midnight, I stood in the centre of my room.
It was the hardest and most painful moment of my life, and for a few minutes my body shook uncontrollably. I forced down the great pain in my heart and picked up my packed backpack.
I came out of my room and quietly shut the door.
The corridor was dark, and I walked slowly, almost reluctantly, to Nicole’s door.
For one wild moment I was tempted to go in, but I fought it violently. I knew that if I saw her sleeping I would never be able to do what I had to do.
I bent quickly and pushed the thick envelope under the door.
Quietly I slipped out of the house and walked my Chrysler which I had parked a short distance down the driveway. I had tears in my eyes when I tossed my backpack into the backseat and shut it.
I was moving toward the driver’s door when the dark shape materialised out of the shadows.
So, you creep away like a thief! I thought you were made of tougher grit than this, boy.
I gripped the door handle tight as I turned sideways to face him.
It has to be done, old man. You of all people should know that.
He stopped in front of me.
There’re a few lessons you still haven’t learned, son. That woman is a good woman, and she was given to you by God. The life of an Unblind is a harsh one, and you’ll soon realise that the only comfort you can ever get is to have a loving woman by your side. It is the only way you can beat the damn insanity and the constant stress that’ll be tearing you apart. You need her, dammit!
I looked at him, my face tortured, tears trickling down my cheeks.
I just can’t let her live like that! Can’t you understand that? I can’t expose her and our kids to such evil. You people have sentenced me to a cruel life. Can’t you see Nicole deserves better than this? See what being married to an Unblind did to her mother! I can’t do that to Nicole, no, never!
You’re a fool, boy! Can’t you see she loves you? Is it that you don’t care about the fact that you’re going to hurt her badly? That you’re really going to break the heart of that angel?
Enough, old man! Enough!
I opened the car door.
I got in and blindly inserted the key into the ignition.
He reached out and opened the door again because the window was wound up, and his face looked agonised even in the inadequate light.
You can’t run, boy, you can’t. Very soon you’ll come back to her, I know. You’ll soon realise that the life of an Unblind isn’t worth shit without the love of a good woman beside him. You’ll come back to us, son. Just don’t make it too late otherwise you’ll come at a time I’ll be with my forefathers.
I turned the key.
The engine kicked and throbbed gently, softly.
The tears now fell down my cheeks unchecked.
I loved her so! All I wanted was to be with her, to love her, and have her love me back.
But how could I sentence her to my life?
These demons were vindictive and terrible.
They never forgave, and they had patience.
I had vanquished the Legion, but there would be more, and I knew they would come after me, and use her or our children as weapons to get to me.
It was not safe for a woman to be by my side.
Especially Nicole, a woman I loved with all my heart.
An angel I would always love till my last breath.
It’s better this way, old man. I have to set her free. Please take care of Nicole, please.
In the dim light I saw the silvery shine on Bonner’s face, and saw that he was crying. I knew instantly that the hardness was a façade; he loved me like a son, just like I loved him like a father.
I’ll miss you, boy. You’ll come back to us once you realise your folly. That I know. That I’ll pry for.
For a moment there was great silence in the darkness. Neither of us trusted our voices anymore.
Slowly I offered him my hand, and he gripped it hard.
God go with you, and may He guide and bring you back to us.
He turned away and slowly melted into the darkness.
I closed the door, and it felt just like turning off my life.
I exhaled painfully, tremulously, and slowly set the car into motion.
Once, when I was well out of the Portville border, I stopped at a little restaurant to have breakfast. I bought a few things and stuffed them into the car. As I was going round to the driver’s seat a dark blue van shot past, going at great speed.
For one horrible moment my heart stopped beating.
There had been a man and a woman in the front seat. Their faces had been turned to me, and for one wild moment I thought I was staring into the frantic face of Elaine.
That aside, I thought I had seen the mark of the beast on the driver’s face, and just before the van zoomed past his eyes had been amber … like flames.
I exhaled slowly.
When I entered my car I saw that my phone was vibrating.
It was Nicole.
I stood staring at it for a long time until it stopped, and then I saw that I had missed twenty-one calls from her.
I saw also that she had sent me countless messages begging me to turn round and come back to her, that she would simply die without me, that she would be able to live without me.
I sat behind the wheel and leaned my head back.
I was weak, and I was vulnerable, and I needed her so.
I was now at the crossroads…
Behind me was love and the chance of a new loving family. Behind me was a woman’s pure love, of a chance of great happiness…and also the chance, even if remote, of having that woman attacked by demons…
Ahead of me was an unknown journey, a bleak future, a loveless existence filled with unknown battles with unknown hordes of demons.
There would be pain, there would be loneliness, there would be regrets and there would be more pain…
Where should I go?
As my tears fell I slowly switched off the phone, pushed it into the side of my backpack and with a broken heart I continued my journey…toward an uncertain bleak future!