After the death of papa Joe, another incredible night emerged on the island after six more years, a night Erika would never forget not because it was the last night she spent there, but because of her encounter with death itself. Her mother had promised to take her to the main city by day-break to see her father, Nwachukwu. The young girl was so excited that she couldn’t close her eyes for a mino sleep. Suddenly, an owl parched at her window. Its flapping wings attracted her attention, therefore she arose like a soul leaving the body. She became speechless as she looked at the deadly creature.
The Owl possess large, forward-facing eyes and ear-holes, a hawk-like beak, a flat face, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers, a facial disc, around each eye. It was horrible to behold.
“Shuuuu..” Erika tried to scare it away but she ended up being the one scared by the horrible and boldly posture of the owl.
The wave of the sea, along with a gentle breeze swept through the roof of the thatch house, the owl flapped her wings once more and flew away. Erika was moved spiritually to follow the creature, undoubted, she jumped the window, walking into the forest through the principalities of darkness until she saw a man on black garment, turning his back on her.
“Papa Joe?” she recognized him. “I thought you’re dead.”
“Death doesn’t die.” the man turned like a high priest.
“What do you want from me?”
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news; They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” the man smiled even though it was too dark to be noticed.
“You speak in proverbs.” Erika said.
“I shall wipe away lives from the city for I do not know how to dance or limp with my broken legs.”
Erika thought for a while. “You’re talking about revenge for those who left you with a wound by killing your love ones. This must be history.” she smartly discovered.
“Clever, girl.” papa Joe complimented. “You’re the reason I came on this island coz your knowledge is challenging to that of the boy. So only you can do this.”
“Which boy? Do what? What do you want from me?” Erika asked again.
The man took a step closer to her. “Only your life shall I spare when I strike but in one condition: A clever boy rules the country now and will likely and cleverly stop me. I want you to stop him before he stops me.”
“You expect me to stop someone who will prevent others from dying?”
“Stop him to save your own life.”
They both become quiet to clearly hear the sound of animals.
“I’ve seen the future, little girl and you have seen me,” papa Joe broke the silence stretching a paper to Erika. “You’ll come in contact with this clever boy especially the days I will start striking. Give him this letter, pretend its from your mother to your father..”
“You know my father?”
Papa Joe ignored her as he continued. “The boy will decode the letter to a location where he will think he’ll get and stop me, but it will lead him to his doom; the mysterious jungle of Agura, 4 4 3.” he forcefully placed the paper in her hands.
Erika glanced at it then back to the creature. “I’m more clever than the boy. When I get to the city, I’ll cleverly take that presidential seat from him. By the way, if you so much don’t want this boy to stop you, why don’t you, death, kill him?” she asked.
“Hmm..” the man groaned as he turned his back on her once again. “I wish I can. The boy himself doesn’t know who he is or the power of his original family.”
“What if I say ‘no’ to this deal?”
“You can’t!” he swiftly turned. “Your life is sealed with it now. If you don’t accomplish it, you die. You tell anyone about it, you die. But do the opposite to live. This is a death deal.” The man turned to an owl and flew away.
The next morning, Erika stood on the ship-top at the seashore to see Idika, a family friend, and her mother through a window discussing something she couldn’t hear while she waited for them.
Monica handed a paper to Idika. “Give it to Erika to give Nwachukwu when you get to Kali” she said.
“Why?” the young man asked. “I thought we all are going together.”
“I won’t cross the sea.” She walked to the window where her eyes caught with her daughter’s who waved at her.
She waved back with a smile then turned to Idika. “I’m not living life to the fullness. So why am I alive? Nwachukwu will take care of Erika.” She elaborated a bit.
Idika understood that she was talking about suicide by jumping inside the sea……
Now is certain that teacher Murphy still has Erika as his enemy regardless his kindness towards her. It is also vivid that Erika did not only come from the island to the main city with just a letter; she came with two: the one given to her by death and her mother’s. She believes that teacher Murphy will never discover her deal with the dead. Truly, Murphy has to be a high capacited genius to know this deal.
Nevertheless, at the ungodly hours of the night, by the bush, Murphy and Erika watched the six year old girl leave with her mother.
“Teacher, the little girl was possessed. Don’t tell me you believe what she said.” Erika told Murphy.
“No, Erika, I don’t believe what she said coz strange things are happening in the city now.” he replied, patted her shoulder and led the way back to their car.
They resumed their journey silently again. Every pothole jammed by the car, reflected their body movement. Suddenly, Erika phone rang. Murphy glanced at her as she placed it on her ear.
“Yes, he’s with me.” She said on the phone then handed it over to Murphy who glanced at her face to explain who that was. “It’s you’re wife, Vivian. She wants to speak with you.” she explained.
Silently, Murphy took the phone from her saying, “Sorry, I angrily smashed my phone. I hope you’re okay.”
“Yes, the guards are keeping watch at us as you instructed them.” Vivian replied on the phone.
“Dave and others are here too.”
Silence stretched between them for some seconds.
“I just wanted to check on you base on what’s happening in the city.” Vivian broke it.
“Thanks for checking on me. I’ll be with you soon.” Murphy hung up the call, handed the phone back then silence took over again.
“Erika,” Murphy called on her.
“Yes, teacher.” she replied humbly.
“Are you afraid to die?”
Erika became worried for such a question. “Why is he asking? This boy seems to have noticed my deal with papa Joe. No, he can’t.” she concluded in her mind.
Murphy looked at her. “Erika?” he called her attention.
“No, teacher, I’m not afraid to die.” she replied.
“A brave man says the truth even at the point of death. But death doesn’t take a wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go.”
Erika’s heartbeat accelerated.
Murphy continued without looking at the face of the young girl. “Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.
It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.” he finally looked at the girl to see tears circulating her eyes. “Erika” he called.
She never answered.
“The letter I just decoded at the love garden isn’t from Monica, your mother. True or false?” Murphy asked intelligently.
“How did he know?!” Erika asked within herself, finally letting the tears pour down uncontrollably.
“How did I know?” Murphy asked loudly as if he read the mind of the girl. “You need to understand the power of time, action, expression and material value. Answers to all questions are within the environment, if it’s not there, it’s on the actions of people around the environment. You only need to be calculative!” he flipped his fingers. “The time you called me was the time light went off throughout the city. You knew that I wouldn’t have decoded the last words of the dead without the letter. That’s why you came with it which also means that you already know the interpretation before I decoded it.” he paused for the lecture to sink down her head.
He continued. “Now, coming down to how I know that the letter is not from your mother is by the philosophy of material value. Ask me how?”
Erika couldn’t say anything but shed tears.
Murphy turned to the driver saying, “Driver, ask me how.”
“How sir?!” the man glanced through the centre mirror.
“The philosophy of material value demands that anything from a love one should be valued especially if it’s the last thing they give you before dying” He turned to Erika. “I folded the letter, threw it away and never picked it up again. It was a test to know if it’s truly from your mother which you should value a lot coz it was the last thing she gave you before she died. But you never picked it up or show any interest in it again because it’s not from your mother. So I ask again, Erika, who gave you the letter and why?”
Just then, the car pulled over at the white house. Erika heard cracking sound of guns as the door of her own side of the car opened. She looked up to see men aiming the guns at her.
“Move out!” One of them dragged her out.
Murphy also came out, walking inside the house with Erika whose head was serious targeted by the men with their guns.
Stepping inside the house, everyone stood up ranging from Dave to Obi. Only Ella was absent. Erika stopped at the door while Murphy joined them. All eyes were on him to explain why Erika was on tears and guns aiming at her, but the boy stared at the girl with hands inside his pocket.
“Erika, are you afraid to die now?” Murphy broke the silence…….
TO BE CONTINUED.