They were after me. Again.
They moved in foggy shadows, causing my heart to drum louder in my ears, for fear of being caught. No matter how fast I ran, they seemed to be just behind me. No looking back man. Run!
My leg muscles ached. My lungs burned. But my steps didn’t falter. I would rather die than be caught.
I couldn’t see what laid ahead, but the moon cast eerie shadows on the forest floor, enough to illuminate my path. Twigs and thorns scratched at my skin. The scenery went past in a blur. I wasn’t sure where I was headed, but I seemed to know where I was going.
I didn’t see it until it was too late. Shit!
Stumbling over a stone, I went in, headfirst, into a hole—a well. On my way down, I grasped for something to hold as ice gripped my heart. Grabbing at the branches of a tree growing on the wall of the well, I prayed that it held still and it did.
Glancing downward. I saw nothing but an endless abyss of darkness.
Tremors ran through me, and my heart knocked erratically against my chest. I knew it was just a dream, but I couldn’t make myself wake up.
How the hell am I going to get out of this place? I wondered as I looked around me.
I couldn’t scream for help. No one would hear me in this pit. And if I did, the echo would draw attention to me—those beings were still out there, waiting for me to come out.
Talk of being between the devil and the deep blue sea. I chuckled, a hard, bitter sound. How did I get here? Clenching my fists, I howled with pain and misery. What horrible thing have I done that’s robbing me of sleep.? Of peace of mind? I have paid my dues. I do not deserve this.
I felt it’s presence before looking and saw it hovering on the edge of the well. She appears when things were the toughest for me—whether in my dreams or reality—always. A comforting presence I’ve subconsciously come to rely on. It soothed my soul and calmed my frayed nerves.
I couldn’t place her face, but it was familiar. It was probably my subconscious mind conjuring comforting images. And it had to be a woman. I gave a self-deprecating smile and felt a glance of reprove almost immediately.
My mouth opened to ask her who she—it—was, but Kirabo’s voice penetrated my mind. “Wake up, Ash. Wake up. It is just a dream.”
Hands were shaking me awake.
Kirabo’s concerned voice penetrated my mind as her hands continually shook my shoulder. “Come on, Ash. It’s just a dream. Wake up.”
My eyes opened and looked straight into the white fluorescent light. I winced, closing my eyes.
“You have been thrashing around.”
Blinking my eyes open, I let out a sigh of relief. Droplets of sweat covered my arms. My night clothes, wet from perspiration. It was just a
A dream. I groaned, turning away from her.
“No need to be embarrassed. You were not screaming like a girl.” Her attempt at
humourhumor drew a reluctant smile from me.
“Thank God,” I mumbled, moving to seat on the edge of the bed, before cupping my head in my palms. “It is getting worse, Kira. I don’t know what to do.” Hopelessness and helplessness washed over me.
Sitting beside me she hugged me, nestling her head on my shoulders. My thudding heart slowed down in comfort, and I closed my eyes in temporary relief.
“I miss mum.” My voice was husky with unshed tears, and I coughed to clear it.
Kirabo Fabian’s mother, Charlotte Fabian, had adopted me from the streets of Lagos. I wasn’t sure when I joined the family, but I was old enough to be in school and that was the first thing she did. She and her husband, Michael Fabian, had been married for two years without a child of their own.
Michael cared little for me. He wasn’t cruel—at least not when mother was alive—but he wasn’t fond of me either. He never hid his feelings. Levi was born two years after I joined the family and Kirabo, the baby of the family, came three years after Levi.
“I know. You are the one who was the most affected by her death.” Kirabo removed her head from my shoulders and left her arm linked around my waist.
Mother, a teacher and disciplinarian, had also been the main provider for the family, after Michael lost his job as an insurance salesperson. While he moved from one petty job to another, Mother became the pillar who held the family together, financially, physically, and spiritually.
I took a deep breath. “I miss her every day. Even after all these years, I wish she was right here with me. Things wouldn’t have gotten so bad.”
When she was diagnosed with cervical cancer—it had been a great shock to the family. How could God be so cruel? Why did such a good soul fall terminally ill without a cure in sight? It shook my faith. .
Even on her sick bed, she upheld my faith and chastised me not to lose faith in God. He was a God of wonder, and He only did great things.
I snorted at the memory.
It was a draining and difficult battle. . In the end, we lost her, and the family fell apart. She’d been gone for two decades, but I still miss her.
“I know. I miss her too. Though I wasn’t as close to her as you were and please don’t start blaming yourself for the things you did to keep the family together after she died. You stepped in and did your best.”
“I didn’t keep Levi alive.” I mumbled under my breath and unconsciously rubbed a spot over my chest until she captured it with her free hand.
“Ash, what is all this? Why are you taking a walk down this horrible memory lane? I can’t remember the last time you discussed or talked about Levi or Mother. What is going on? You are scaring me.” Turning to face me, she took my face in her hands and stared boldly into my eyes.
Kirabo Fabian was ￼four years old when mother died – her memories were distant and fuzzy. I became a mother and father to her in every way that counted. .
Growing up, Levi respected and feared me at a distant big-brother-to-kid brother level. But Kirabo – she knew she had me wrapped around her little finger.
I taught her to be bold—to state her mind and go for whatever she wanted. She always made me proud. She held me in high esteem, and was never scared of me, even at my darkest moment. Because she knew I would never hurt her deliberately.
“I don’t know. This dream scared me more than the rest. I don’t know why.” I laid back on the bed, my head resting on my folded arms, staring at the ceiling.
“Was the lady in the stained white wrapper and blouse in this dream too?” Her voice was tentative.
My lips curved up in a weary smile. I recently told her about my dreams and my suspicion of the soothing white presence being a lady. “Yeah, she was. She even seemed to reprove me for an unruly thought in my mind.”
“If I know you well and I do, I think I know the unruly thought that must have gone through your head.” She shook her head, amused. “I can’t believe you were thinking of such when you were in grave danger.”
“I’m a man sis.” I grinned, reaching out to tweak her nose.
“I’m sure there’s a message in that dream, Ash. Each time you ignore it, bad things happen. What message do you think they are trying to pass across?”
I sighed. “I am not sure exactly. At first, I assumed it had to do with my days on the street, but now, I think it goes far beyond that. That lady looked young and ancient at the same time.”
Closing my eyes, I struggled to bring the apparition to my mind. It was fair, slim, and was of average height. The short wrapper was always white, stained at the back with blood and the blouse was short sleeved. A long white string of pearls adorned her neck, and her black hair was weaved into the traditional Yoruba hairstyle known as sukuu.
“She is a Yoruba woman then.” Kirabo observed after I finished describing her.
“Yes, she is. I have seen her before. Long before these horrible dreams began, but… I can’t remember.”
“And she doesn’t hurt you?”
“Then she must be there to protect you.” Her voice was firm.
“Although it pains me to agree with you, I think you are right. It seems as if she is preventing the worst from getting to me. This is becoming too weird and psychic for me.”
“Of course, I am always right.” She jabbed my side and I shook my head. “What does she want? What do they want? Ash, we need to find out to prevent future occurrences.”
“I will not spend the entire night trying to figure that out, Kira. They will tell me when they are ready, or they can go to hell for all I care. Are you sleeping in my room or going back to yours?”
Rolling to the side of the bed, my finger hovered on the switch as I glanced at her. She was chewing on her bottom lip, a sign that she was not through with the discussion.
I sighed. “Kira?”
“I’ll sleep here.” She got on the bed, taking a side and pulled the duvet up.
After flipping the light switch, I laid on my back, arms folded, waiting for sleep.
“What is it? You need to sleep. Aren’t you going to work tomorrow?” She was a civil Engineer in a construction Company.
“Of course, I am.” The bed ruffled as she turned to her side. “I am… I am just worried about you. Who knows the disaster that will come after this?”
“I will deal with it when it does, Kira. Worrying doesn’t solve the problem. As long as lives are not lost and I don’t lose any other loved ones, I’ll deal with whatever life dishes out to me.” I shrugged in the dark.
She reached out and squeezed my hand. “I love you, Ash. You are the one who taught me how to find solutions to problems, rather than complaining over it. And… I think I have a solution.”
I felt, rather than saw, her squared shoulder and I grinned.
“What is your solution, madam know-it-all?”
“I know you don’t like religion of any kind. But my pastor is—”
“Don’t start. Go to sleep, Kira.”
The day I lost my mother was the day I lost faith in God. As far as I was concerned, He didn’t exist.
Kirabo sighed dramatically. “It is worth trying, nau. I will keep praying for you whether you like it or not. I will even pray for you. You need to get married too, so she can be the one caring for you at night.” She huffed, turning her back to me.
I was still smiling when I fell asleep, and froze when I saw the mysterious apparition, the woman, in my room.
“She is right. You need to get married soon. You aren’t getting younger.”
What’s happening here? It was the first time she was speaking to me and her voice was rich, beautiful, and accented. Where’s that accent from?
“I will when I am good and ready.” I let my admiring gaze wash over her. “You are not a bad broad yourself.” I felt a sting on my cheek.
She slapped me!
“Damn! What did you do that for? Who are you anyway?”
“Wake up.” She commanded; her face devoid of emotions. “Your worst fear has been confirmed.”
My eyes snapped open, my phone was ringing. Picking up the phone, I slid up the green button.
My clothing warehouse was on fire.
RAPTURE, A twin bliss resort novel will be out on 26th November 2021.
It is available for pre-order on Amazon and kobo. It will also be available on bambooks and okadabooks from the release date.
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