Heading: Death Calls.
Like a giant bird, an helicopter hovered in the air, soaring above a forest like soldiers flying to war. The sun-set reflected on its windscreen as the rotating blades subdued the power of gravity, hence generating a sound wave that destabilized the activities of rodents in the forest, thus, their holes became their hiding place.
Like a dragon-fly perching on the leaf of a plant, the helicopter gradually landed on the basketball court of late teacher Nwachukwu’s love garden. The engine went off and the rotating blades stopped its circular motion thereby bringing chirping crickets to the hearing of any living soul in the vicinity. Just then, two teenagers; a boy and a girl stepped out of the helicopter, staring at an old building opposite the court–Those were teacher Murphy and Erika.
They stared at the building with their hands inside the pocket of their trousers. Yes, Erika wore a bogus knicker and round-curler shirt coz she loves dressing like a man. The nature of her dread could explain more about her masculinity regardless of her true gender. The hair dangled around her cheek when she looked at Murphy.
“Is this the place?” She asked with a feminine voice.
Murphy didn’t reply her coz the place reminded him a lot of things which many he was still trying to recall. How late teacher Nwachukwu used that building to discipline them played like a cassette in his head thereby taking not only his memory but also his attention.
“Teacher Murphy?” Erika called his attention for the second time.
He exhaled and rubbed his face like one jerking up from sleep. “Yes, Erika, this is the place.” he replied. “This is where it all started and where it ended.”
“Yes” Murphy glanced at her. “Your father gave up the ghost here too. He died in my arms.” he clarified.
Once more, silence creeped in as they surveyed the building again. Murphy, with a step forward, wanted to proceed but Erika held him back saying, “Wait..”
Surprised, Murphy turned to her. “Why are you…”
“Ssshhh..” She interrupted him with her eyes fixed in the sky like one in a spiritual realm.
Murphy followed the direction of her eyes, yet couldn’t see anything but his ears were filled with nearby chirping insects. Just then, an owl, flew down before them. Seeing it, Murphy stepped back without Erika’s instruction. Fear gripped him!
The black owl rotated its head, hooting as if calling for the dead.
“Erika…” Murphy was still confused and inquisitive but she interrupted him again.
“Quiet!” She stared at the owl while Murphy’s anxiety increased. After much hooting, the owl flew up to a metal post of the court and flew down again before departing. Erika stepped forward to the initial position of the mysterious bird, squats down to examine the spot like a herbalist.
Murphy approached her silently. “Erika, what’s going on?” he asked.
“You’re the teacher, you should know.” she looked up at him from the ground to see nothing but disappointment.
“My knowledge is not on fetish things, Erika.”
“What happened here is not fetish.” She stood up in a way she looked into the eyes of the young president. “What happened is a sign of death.” she added holistically.
“Death?” Murphy walked closer to her. “Who’s dying?”
“Owls are harbingers of death. If one sees an owl or heard its hoot, it’s a sign that someone is going to die. In general, owls are viewed as harbingers of bad luck, ill health, or death. Sincerely, I do not know who gonna die.” she explained.
Furiously, Murphy glared. “Erika, I made a promise to protect each of us, ranging from Daniella to Cynthia. Therefore we must figure out who gonna die and why!” He lowered his voice, eyeball to eyeball like two fowls about to initiate a fight. “As far as I’m concern, no one must die, young girl.” he concluded fiercely.
“You’re not God, Murphy.” Erika told him.
Angrily, he raised his voice. “I don’t care! Tell me what I want to know. Who gonna die!!”
“I said I don’t know!!” the girl’s voice pitched at a higher frequency. Just then, they heard the hooting owl again. Averting to the location, they heard the front door of the building opened by itself like in horror movies. The teenagers swiftly turned to it, leaving the hooting owl. It was really getting scary each second turned by the hands of the clock, so they looked at each other, wondering the unknown and unseen force in the vicinity.
“I’ve not been this scared, Erika” Murphy confessed.
The girl remained quiet, staring at the opened the door. “I think there’s a dead among us.” she said without looking at him.
“That must be teacher Nwachukwu.”
Hearing that, Erika finally looked at him speechlessly. Like young couple, they began to walk side by side towards the door of the building. The weary sound of their feet echoed at a close range regardless how quiet they tried to be. Solar energy trapped by solar pannel and shone through electrical bulbs illuminated both the exterior and interior part of the building. The dull weather obviously enhenced the beautiful sight.
Getting to the door, Erika strangely stopped. She peep through like a spy but didn’t see somebody
“What, Erika?” Murphy asked her enthusiastically.
The young girl exhaled, dangled her dread once again and said, “His spirit lives here. I can feel him. He is inside.”
Astonishingly, Murphy stared at her saying, “You mean teacher Nwachukwu is inside?”
“No, his ghost is inside.”
“It’s the same thing.”
“No, it’s not the same thing. A man is no more a man when he dies.”
“How sure are you on this?”
Erika became mute, she stretched her hand to the doorknob through which she widely opened the door and rusty sound filled their ears once more. Both stepped inside cautiously and simultaneously. Lo and behold late teacher Nwachukwu, standing on his hugeness with hands behind him and turning his back on them.
He wore a brown caftan like he use to. One who doesn’t know he’s dead wouldn’t believe he had gone to the land of the dead.
Unearthed, the kids looked at each other when they saw him and stepped behind the door which closed by itself. Nobody said anything thereby increasing the frequency of the tranquillity. Truly, it was an unexpected meeting between the living and the dead. Hence, none was comfortable with the feelings.
“Teacher?” Murphy broke the silence frighteningly.
The ghost remained quiet.
For the second time, the kids glanced at each other.
“Daddy?” Erika seconded, hoping the man responds. Yet, he neither turned nor coughed. Therefore, they became confused without knowing what to say again. Murphy slowly surged forward while Erika remained behind. His feet on the tiled floor made a weary sound as he moved like a common thief on the mission to reduce the quantity of meats in a cooking pot. Getting close to the man, teacher Nwachukwu’s ghost turned like a robot. So Murphy stood still in between him and his daughter. He saw his eyes bold as the teacher he knew.
“Teacher” he called again, returning the eye contact then gradually bent his head like a humble savant. “It’s an honour to see you again, teacher.”
“Murphy!” Nwachukwu began harshly while the boy gradually raised his head up. “You’ve not fulfilled the promise you made to me. Why?!”
The young boy became quiet. His memory was working very fast to recall the pledge. He spoke up humbly saying, “Teacher, I promised to love them equally and…”
“Is not that, Murphy.” he interrupted him. “I told you to find your parents.”
“But I’m doing that, teacher. It’s just remaining Daniella and Dave.” He paused to let it sink into the old ghost’s mind. “But I find it difficult to trace Ella’s parents. The task is not the only thing difficult for me, even Daniella herself is a lot of mystery I still need to understand. She’s.. she’s.. she’s just Daniella, difficult to access even her lifestyle is nothing to write home about” he bent his head shamefully.
“When something is untraceable, it has gone beyond human comprehension. When one forgets himself, the untraceable becomes more complicated beyond human recognition.” The man spoke up intelligently.
“I don’t understand, teacher.”
“Awake your knowledge, Murphy.” he passed him, walking closer to Erika but stopped on the way, inquisitively looked back at Murphy.
The boy cleverly understood the look then said, “She’s Erika, the brightest star, and your daughter.”
Teacher Murphy glanced at the girl. He looked at Murphy again. “Truly, you’ll have my blood in your linage”
Erika didn’t understand the statement after mentally wrecking her brain to decode the meaning.
Murphy smiled. Only if teacher Nwachukwu knew that he had already proposed to Vivian.
Nevertheless, Nwachukwu turned to Erika. “Happy to see you, Erika.” he said.
Already, the girl had started shedding tears with her lips quivering as she said. “Mum gave me a letter to give you. In summary, she’s very sorry for her actions which was not her intentions. And she loved you.”
“Unintentional action is a sign to manage time to take actions” The man spoke up intelligently again.
“I don’t understand.”
“The ability to derive a statement from a statement and decode the next cause of action from a statement is what makes you a clever person.” he complicated and vanished to the thin air.
Boldly, the kids stared at each other from their positions. Of course they knew that they needed to decode each of the statements made by the man.
“Erika, we have no time. Think!” Murphy moved forward.
“I don’t know what to think, Murphy!” She also approached, frustrated.
“I’ve once decoded the next cause of action from someone’s statement about how I would have been assassinated in a cemetery.”
“You can still do it again!”
Teacher’s statements are very difficult!”
They stared again breathing heavily. At the moment, they heard the owl hooting for the third time.
“Follow me!” Murphy ran upstairs followed by Erika. He took her to their old classroom where he picked up a black marker, rushed to the white board and wrote; TIME.
However, Erika had stood beside a locker watching him like his student.
“I think everything he said boils down to time.” Murphy began like a teacher. “Unintentional action is a sign to manage time to take actions..” He walked closer to Erika. “You once used the word ‘sign’ before we entered into this building. What was it about?”
“If one sees an owl or hear it hoot, is a sign that…”
“..someone is going to die.” Murphy completed as he returned to the board where he wrote: ACTION. “The presence of the owl, I guess, was an unintentional action which is a sign of death. But now, it’s a sign to take action to protect the one about to die which should be the next cause of action. That’s the meaning of his statement and we’re running out of time.” he pointed at the word ‘time’ on the board.
“Wow!” Erika exclaimed. “What of the first statements he made to you?” she asked.
“Remind me.” Murphy requested.
“When something is untraceable it has gone beyond human comprehension. When one forgets himself, the untraceable becomes more complicated beyond human recognition.” She quoted.
Facially, Murphy didn’t know how to decode that as the silence lingered between them.
“Let me see.” Erika took the marker from him to the board where she wrote: LOVE.
“I guess everything boils down to love.” She began. “But here he’s talking about self-love. Love yourself before you love others.”
“I still don’t get it” Murphy complained.
Erika walked closer to him. “He told you to find your parents. You’re busy looking for others parents, forgetting about your own parents. And at the look of things, it’s when you find your parents, Ella’s parents will easily be found too. But if you don’t, the untraceable which is Ella’s parents will become more complicated beyond human recognition.”
Murphy admired her intelligence. “You’re close to the truth but I think the deep meaning of the statement is that my parents are Ella’s parents too.” He paused to think as both stared. “Daniella is my sister and she’s the one to be protected from death. Erika, let’s go!!” He ran out followed by the girl once more.
The Sun had gone down, the wind swept from the east to the west, and the weather became cold like the resurface of an harmattan after a drizzling rain. It was a lovely atmosphere in Kali city which could be termed ‘weather for two’ as Africans exaggerate but Daniella was not only lonely inside her room but also weeping emotionally. To her, it was weather for loneliness, frustration, heartbreak and death-call. Her tears knew no limit as she stood at a window remembering the very words of her love: “I’m going home, Ella.. and.. and I’m done with you! You know what I mean.”
The statement was a catalyst to Daniella’s tears. Is it her fault that she’s only attracted to her fellow girls? Will she remain single forever base on her sexuality? The answer to these questions coupled with the cold harmattan wind, triggered a reaction to her system. A male voice came to her ears saying, “There’s no place for you in this world.”
Swiftly, Ella turned from the window in order to see the owner of the voice, but horribly saw no one. She directed her eyes to her wardrobe, yet not even a rattle of a being. The bizarre experience was like one of the horror movies she watches. She had a clear conviction that it wasn’t a movie neither was she dreaming. The voice came live and direct behind her. Nevertheless, she was bold and fearless.
“Who are you?!” she shrieked in tears. “Of course I know there’s no place for me in this world! I didn’t create myself! I don’t even know who my parents are. How would I have a place in this world?!!” she lamented bitterly.
Her voice attracted Vivian and Obi to the room only to see Ella running out in between them. They glanced at each other in a way to say: WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER.
“Ella!!” They ran after her.
Getting outside, the young girl had driven off already. Vivian, with her engagement ring well positioned and sparkling, glanced at Obi.
“Let’s follow her.” She suggested.
Obi didn’t think twice when he took over the driver’s seat of another car, running after Daniella. “I heard Cynthia broke up with her.” he said.
“But she was talking to herself in the room.” Vivian clarified.
“It was more like she exchanged conversation with someone.”
“But nobody was in the room!”
They swallowed hard as the car overtook other cars. Suddenly, they sighted Daniella standing at the last floor of an uncomplicated storey building. Apparently, she wanted to end her life.
“Oh my God! Look at her!!” Vivian pointed at her from the car. “Obi, stop the car!” she exclaimed.
“What a fuck is she trying to do!?” Obi pulled over instantly while Vivian dialled teacher Murphy’s number saying, “Murphy, you have to come. Ella is about to jump from a building. She wants to commit suicide!!”
“We know!” he replied on the phone.
“You know?” the girl became surprised. “How?” she asked but the line had gone off already.
Murphy and Erika could be seen climbing the uncompleted upstairs through a staircase in a hurry that evening. Getting to the top, they saw Daniella about to commit suicide by jumping down from the building with tears in her eyes.
“Ella, don’t do it! You have several reasons to be alive.” Murphy spoke up.
“Look around you and see what the world have in stock for you. Does it worth leaving behind?” Erika added as both were gradually moving forward, but Ella never looked back. Though the two teachers never hesitated to inspire her respectively.
“Ella, be the driver of your own life!”
“You are the pilot of your own plane!”
“All you need do is to set the car in the right direction. Do not expect anybody to drive you coz only you know your way!”
“The sky is a large place to fly a plane. It becomes all yours when you fly and you determine who flies with you or not. All you need do is to push up the handy-thing for the plane to take off!”
“Be the master of your own mind, Ella!”
“Do not allow anybody to control it for you. Reshape it!!” Erika flipped her fingers.
“Your destiny is in your own hands, and this is not it. Come, my dear.” Murphy slowly touched her shoulder. With heavy tears, she turned immediately and hugged him tightly crying like a baby on his shoulder.
“You’re save with me now.” Murphy began to pat her back gently to see Erika smiling happily. So he smiled back at her
Ella’s tears dropped from her eyes to Murphy’s shirt. The manner in which she held him tells that she wasn’t letting the young president go any time soon. Even Murphy could feel it as his eyes couldn’t avert from Erika whose face had changed for a reason he couldn’t put a finger on. The expression on her face was like a girl possessed by an unknown spirit.
Just then, Vivian and Obi ran up simultaneously to see the three teenagers in such weird posture. Seeing the juxtaposition between Ella and her fiance, Murphy, Vivian became jealous.
“What’s going on her…”
“Ssshh..” Erika interrupted her to be silent, waving her hand like a traffic agent.
Murphy became more surprised coz, even at that time, he couldn’t comprehend what transpired on the building. “Why is Erika behaving weird again? And… and.. Ella seems never to let me go.”
Nevertheless, they remained quiet like sculpture entities. Erika looked up to the sky like a traditional chief priests followed by others. Her dread-hair flung around her face and finally backwards. Yes, she’s young, but carry a capacity of knowledge. They saw an owl flying at a distant before Erika brought down her head.
“What happened?” Obi broke the silence.
“Nothing. We should leave.” Erika replied.
However, people had gathered around the base of the building. News casters never hesitated to be present to collect data. Due to the presence of president Murphy, security clustered the whole area.
Like a mother breastfeeding a baby, Murphy carried Ella down the building, entered into his car with his escorts then drove away. He carried her like that to her room where he laid her on the bed. The girl had slept off already.
Murphy came out from the room to see everybody standing in the living room. Cynthia, Judith and Ada who heard the news were also present, staring at Murphy inquisitively.
“She’s sleeping” he broke the silence looking at all of them too. “I know some of you have your families now, But I beg you all to stay here tonight and never let Ella out of your sight.” he calmly pleaded.
“But why would Ella try to take her own life?” Ada asked.
“It’s obvious; Cynthia broke up with her.” Judith replied disdainfully at her.
“I broke up with her coz I’m not a lesbian!” Cynthia retorted unabashedly.
“Then why did you accept to date her at the first place!”
“Judith, don’t raise your voice at me and don’t make me look like the devil here!!” Cynthia challenged.
“Both of you should shut up!” Dave instructed before Murphy could do that.
The house remained calmed for some seconds until Murphy’s shoes echoed as he tried to leave the house silently but Vivian’s voice stopped him.
“Murphy, how did you know about Ella’s suicidal act?” she had asked.
The young president turned. “Teacher Nwachukwu indirectly told us” he replied.
“Teacher?!” All shouted at once amazingly.
“Yes,” Erika stood up while all turned to her. “He appeared to us. It wasn’t easy decoding his statements.” she added.
“That’s weird” Obi said.
“I think the weird is yet to happen. Please, you all should be careful.” Teacher Murphy concluded to leave again but Erika’s voice stopped him for the second time.
“What did my father mean by having his blood in your lineage?”
The question rendered Murphy dumb while others listened except Vivian who became jelouse instantly coz she’s aware of the statement.
“I’m sorry, I can’t answer that.” Murphy replied wanting to leave.
“Why?” Vivian asked him.
“Coz it’s not necessary, Vivian.”
“What’s bad about telling her that it was your last wish to marry his daughter in order to have his blood in your linage before teacher laughed and died in your arms?”
“Wow!” Obi exclaimed silently while others murmured surprisingly. The response from the unexpected person forced Murphy to come back.
“Vivian, you went through my secret dairy?” The young president asked fiercely which brought not only silence in the room but also tension….
TO BE CONTINUED