Don’t Go into the Woods

“Fear is a misperceived and overexaggerated event borne of the human ID.

What do you think is out there, human or monster? Micheal mused

“I dunno”, Alexander was un-flinched by the wild bush and thorns before them, “Only one way to find out”, she stepped forward. “Come with me?”

Micheal scoffed. “I’m really not that curious, it’s getting dark, and I’m terrible with directions”.

Alex batted her eyes and pouted, “I can’t do this without you. Please.”

Micheal tentatively filled his lungs with air, then led the way.

The air was humid. There was barely space between the sprouting weed to thread upon. The soil beneath them was damp. They were startled by the cawing crows circling the sky above them, then they flew away. They forced their way through the small path, halting by a lake that ran as far as their eyes could see. It split the forest into two halves, the side they were on, and the other side.

“This is the best we’re going to discover,” Micheal fact-checked, “let’s make some pictures and go home”.

Alexander took out her Nikon. Click. Click. She paused, focusing on the images.

“There’s a cottage, over there the other side, we sh—”

“No, it’s dark”. Micheal sternly dissuaded.

But Alexander countered. “Obviously nobody lives there, we may have just discovered a clubhouse or secret hideout”

“Yea, you can tell me all about it later”, disenchanted by his friend’s pervicaciousness, Micheal started to leave in the direction from which they came.

Alexander stood feeling betrayed. She sighed, then begun ebbing against the stream which rose to her knees. There was an old willow tree in front of the hut where two tenebrous crows rested. She swung the door open, stepping into darkness. She fidgeted her blazer for a lighter, and soon a rich yellow glow bathed her skin while illuminating the cottage.

It was slovenly. There were cobwebs on every surface. One raggedy old boot in the corner. A book rested on the table in the middle. She flipped the dusty brown pages, nothing was inscribed. A grimy cauldron on the hearth.

A gale left her in darkness yet again. She fidgeted with the lighter for several minutes until there was a glint. She near damn jumped out of her skin when she noticed an owl on the table staring at her intently.

“HOO HOO are you?”, the Owl’s wings began to shed and fingers sprouted from the feathers, it’s nape elongated, it’s torso broadens.

Alexander’s glassy eyes widened as the bird transformed completely into a human. A Nyx.

“Cat caught your tongue? I asked what you’re doing in my woods?”

Ihow didwhat are you? she couldn’t seem to piece the words together

The Nyx wore a menacing rictus, “there are so many things in this world that would fry your pretty brain if you tried to wrap your head around them.” Taking several steps towards the visibly shaken girl, she paused an inch to her face, lowering her voice to a whisper.

“Normally people who disturb me get into trouble, but youI sense somethingit’s not fear”. She crossed Alex, stepping behind. “You came here hoping to find something in ordinary because darkness is the adrenaline that feeds your soul. Am I wrong?

Alexander did not utter a sound.

“I’m going to let you go, she continued, “but, I am keeping your friend”

Alex snapped out of the valor, “what do you mean?”

She grinned, revealing her scattered dentures, “The lad you came here with. He’s mine.”

A glint of lightning revealed Micheal in the corner of the hut, his feet sinking into the ground. “Help Alex, I can’t get out”, he yelled. Another glint and he was gone.

” I invaded your privacy, not him, please let him go.”

The door swung violently open, the woman pointed a crusty finger towards it. “Leave now, while you still can”

Alexander fell on the floor, pleading. Cowering.

The woman spat, “your fear is pungent and your heart is hardened., very well. But, you must come to my cottage, every day for as long as you live, and you must write into that notepad, anything. Everyday. This is your omen, in return, your friend’s memory of this is wiped and he lives. Now go.”

Alex ran out as quick as she could. She could hear ta stentorian snicker. Several crows took to the sky. She dived through the trees but she wouldn’t look back till she got home.

************

The following day, Alexander saw Micheal and sure enough, his recollection of their adventure ended before the lake. He even joked about her new arcane hideout. After lunch, She went back to the cottage. She sat at the table, picking up a pen. She began;

Chapter One: Don’t go into the woods

A Lover’s Quest

Your haughty eyes

Your formidable charm

I suspect you’ll  have more to unravel 

           I want you nowhere near me

                               tonight

       But when this last drop of wine           

                 lingers on my tongue

     perhaps you’ll  be more befuddled 

                   about my innocence.

Suspicious

Follow the sun

7.38 AM

The streets are crowded

A glowing yellow ball

seats at a vantage point,

hiding behind rooftops.

Ike tiddled his flute

This early in the morning,

he had to go the farm.

He spent the first hour

lying on his back,

playing the instrument

then he buckled his belt,

and begun harvesting cassava.

Other kids his age would frown

at the thought of picking up a machete

or being stuck in a field

for most of their day.

They would rather play football

or shoot arrows at bush animals

but not Ike,

he didn’t see the need to play

when he had four younger siblings

relying on him.

Both his parents were gone

few rumors have settled across the village

regarding their disappearance.

Some say they couldn’t appease Sango

on the eve of the New Yam’s festival

as every man had to present his harvest

outside his hut.

In the still of the night,

Sango would descend on the land

and claim what is rightfully his.

However, the god was offended

by the measly bundle of cassava

at their doorstep.

He was so appalled that

he broke into the home

to kill them all.

Ike’s mother pleaded for the sake of her children,

asking Sango to spare her younglings

Pity overshadowed Sango’s wrath

so he agreed.

Others rumored that his parents

were so frustrated with their life,

and responsibilities

that they took off in the dead of the night

without so much as a farewell.

Ike doesn’t recall much from that night,

except that his mother sent him

into the other room in their minute two-room hut,

and instructed him to not come out

till dusk.

In the morning, his parents were missing.

In Ike’s world,

there was no time for football

but on this particular day,

the sun was deterrent to his job

He straightened his posture,

and in a burst of fury he exclaimed;

“Oh Osun, You know my heart and all I wish to do

is plowing the earth so I may feed my siblings.

I have no shilling,

only a leaky thatched roof above my head.

Why must I be cursed by the sun for my ambition?”

When he finished, the sun grew black

Ike froze in fear.

He wondered if the day of reckoning

the high priestess spoke so frequently of was nigh.

He could feel his heart implode in his chest

and minutes later, the sky became bright again

but something had changed.

The ember hue beamed eastward,

away from the field.

Ike picked up his machete and gear

He ran across the fields into adjacent farms.

He ran into the village,

past the maidens bearing terracotta pots upon their head

He crossed the village stream

and came to a halt at the east border of the village,

before the forbidden forest.

The forest was home to the gods

Only the high priestess and witch doctor

were welcome to enter for their customary rituals.

Without much pondering, Ike ran into the forest

He came to a halt at the foot of the tallest palm wine tree he’d seen.

That was the vantage point of the sun, he was certain.

He dropped his gear and tugged his weight up the tree.

Once at the top, he could see not only the village,

but other settlements,

even the city of Lagos,

where the traditional King lived.

He was amazed at the view surrounding him.

It occurred to him that he wanted more.

He wanted to explore life outside his village.

Eventually, he conceded to the blinding sun rays

and climbed down the tree against his wishes.

What he saw bemused him.

At the foot of the palm tree.

Ike was looking at a polythene bag

filled with iron ore.

He considered grabbing it

and running away

but he was no thief,

and besides, only a dumb fool

would steal from the gods.

“It’s yours,”

A familiar voice came from beside the tree

Ike stretched his neck to see his mother.

“The gods are rewarding your good will,

you could leave this village and live comfortably in Lagos,”

she continued, “or you can come with me, Ikechukwu.”

He wanted to wail and roll in the dust.

He had no strength left in him.

Eight years have passed since he last saw her

His eyes locked with his mother’s

and he knew if he left with her,

he wouldn’t have to toil the soil another day in his life.

He would have peace.

But, he wanted to be more

so he held her face, pecked her cheeks and bade farewell.

He grabbed the bag and begun his journey home,

away from the fading sun.

End of The Tunnel

 

Above all, trust yourself.

 

Defeated. I sat on the cold ground in the dark, feeling nothing but the wisp of air blowing through the tunnel, it distinctly sounded like a fiddle playing. I wasn’t scared at all, just fatigued like I was throwing punches at something that wasn’t feasible. I must have folded my fists and coaxed myself with “just do it”  a thousand times, but each time I end up uniting my buttcheeks to the dirt beneath me. I even dozed off and at some point and created several hypothetical scenarios of the many ways this could go and when I woke up, I allowed myself to linger on the thought of fighting till my hands were in shackles and my eyes, gouged out.

 

Slowly, I rose to my quivering feet and each step became a little easier. A winged buddy sidled next to me and split into a handful, and then some. Honestly, I was glad to have any manner of companionship and from intuition, I knew they were happy to see me too.

This time,  I wasn’t looking at the walls, my focus was straight ahead as I marched on. After a while,  I noticed that my butterflies weren’t flying ahead as they usually were. Perhaps something was blocking me but I had no way of confirming this, I couldn’t see that far. The winged creatures stayed close to my peripheral vision.

I was perplexed, something was out there as sure as I could instantly feel the doubt overwhelming me and soon I could make out a silhouette, not a tall one. I got nearer. It was in black overalls, it’s back towards me, it assumed a bent posture as if the world was weighing down on it—– or kyphoscoliosis. I stopped behind it.

uhmm” I muttered, quite unsure, “can I pass? what are you doing here?”

I hear a soft moan, I knew then that it was female.

“do you want to pass?

I nodded

“So why don’t you?”

“Because… ” I quickly retracted my reply. Something told me she already why. She turned, her chest towards me now.

“Because you fear being followed in the dark”.

“Who are you?”, Her face was like a shadow. I couldn’t make out anything but her brows and eyes.

“We used to be best friends,”  she sighed ” but you abandoned me, like you do with everyone”

“I still keep in touch”.

“right, keep telling yourself that,” she chided, “you’re here because you unlocked a memory, you let your mind wander too far.. and now you can’t get back.”

Her tone became aggressive, her eyes glowered.

“You think life is just gonna give you stuff because you say pretty please? you’re nothing.”

“that’s not true”

“You think that by completing this grandiose quest of yours, you’re worth something,” her voice waned to a whisper, “well I’m telling you, you’re always going to be the empty person on those walls”.

No no no no, my mind was shattering.

She let out a derisive laugh, “you know most people whose mind wander off like yours have two things to ground them. An inflated self-esteem and a support system. You have neither, Idara, you’re pathetic”. Her laugh grew more hysterical.

“NO!,”  I finally heard my enraged-self say, “I know exactly who you are and while I may not have friends, I trust myself no matter what you or anyone thinks”.

Those words seem to act like twenty upper-cuts to her torso because I could immediately see her weaken and fall. I, on the other hand, have never been more assured of my senses.

“You hear me? I trust myself”.

She let out a deafening shrill and exploded into several pieces before my eyes, leaving behind ashy feathers. I allowed myself a moment to process what just transpired before hobbling on, careful not to step on the “evil” feathers. I started wondering if there would be more tests as I could only deal with so much but right about then, I saw it. Light. Real actual light, not the illumination from the butterflies, I was ecstatic.

I  ran the last few meters. I felt great, like a detox after a bad hangover, like purity and golden sunshine rolled into one. The butterflies were disappearing and this time, for good reason. The air felt great compared to the muffling metallic scent, although, I don’t know how long I was in there……”Hey,”

It was him.

I’ve been searching all night for you, where have you been?”

I glared behind to find everything but a tunnel.

“Needed a walk to clear my head”.

“I was worried, found your phone and house keys. Some folks say it fell out your pocket and they were trying to return it to you but you were…… nevermind, how are you?

“A bit tired”.

“C’mon, I’ll take you home, catch some snooze before day-break”.

I took his extended arm and he cradled me like a toddler but I wiggled my way to his back because piggy-backs are better. We walked off into the distance, out of the park, speaking audibly.

“You know I didn’t mean to upset you when I said I trusted you”

“I know Viktor.”

 

 

image source: darkbeautymag.tumblr.com

 

 

 

 

 

Amphetamine City

The tires of the bus screech loudly as it rolls to a stop. I awake from my deep slumber, rubbing my eyes… I blink, staring through the window, but the streetlights only reflects back a dimly lit park in the dark night.I tilted my head up to view the digital clock above the passageway, 00.10 it read and minutes later, the conductor comes through.I recalled asking him about 6 hrs earlier how long the bus ride was.He halts beside me, “Ma’am, we’ve reached the final stop, you will need to exit here” then tipping his hat, his voice lowers, “farewell” then he continues past me. I let out a soft yawn as I dragged my baggage from under the seats, getting up. I stepped out into the cold night; at long last, It’s amphetamine city.

He halts beside me, “Ma’am, we’ve reached the final stop, you will need to exit here” then tipping his hat, his voice lowers, “farewell” then he continues past me. I let out a soft yawn as I dragged my baggage from under the seats, getting up. I stepped out into the cold night; at long last, It’s amphetamine city.

 

Twenty minutes later, the Uber pulls up at the farm house and I walk up to the door. I press and listen to the loud clunk of the bell from within. I close my eyes and inhale deeply as I hear the footsteps closing in around the door.It swings ajar and my beloved aunt Fontane stands at the opposite side of the welcome mat wearing a broad grin on her face, which sorta made me start to smile. Her lips parted “welcome home Alexander” she started stepping aside from the doorway; “welcome to amphetamine city”.

I stepped into the grand parlor, memories of my prepubertal years flooded my brain, like the time I ran up those never ending stairs, slipped and broke my early incisor.It felt great being back being back here; yet strangely unsettling, like something was wrong.

“well hello there darling”, I was swayed from my thoughts by an airy voice.My neck reverts back to the stairs. The silhouette of a lady posing on the top, her lips were thin with dark tan nevi around her neck.She wore her hair in an updo and the V-neck flowing top seemed to accentuate her long neck. I noticed the color flow into her cheeks. It was Aluna, I was ecstatic, perhaps because I am proud of the woman she was becoming. She fastened down the stairs, twirling across the room towards me

“Now that we’re all here ” interrupted Fontane “let’s have dinner”.

Dinner was a big celebratory feast, after which we all went outside and a bonfire was started.My grandmom simply referred to as “Nana” sat adjacent to me outside as we silently watched the fire grow and ashy debris fall from the smoke.

“What is it that brought you back” Nana finally ended the silence. I remained mute “What is it?” she relented.

“I just enjoy this place” I splurged ….”but it doesn’t feel like home”.

 

******

amphet

 

Months flew by, but the overall dynamic of the house was destabilized, our grand feasts quickly reduced to weeks old bread and lukewarm water.Even the crops were wilting. “what is going on?” Aluna exclaimed, extremely vexed, thumping hard on the bed, her head supported by her wrists.I lowered myself in front of her, pushing all of my weight onto my forefoot. I felt bad.

” I can make this all go away”, I tell her “I could make you happy again”

“how?” she asks in awe

“This place, you, Fontana, are merely figments of my imagination, I could rewrite this whole script” I pause “and then I could leave, forever”

 

she wipes her face “you never told me why you came back”

“I needed a safe house, somewhere I was familiar with— but I can’t stay here”

“well if you do leave, who wins?” she asks

I blink ” No one I suppose”.

Climb onto the highest building top.Inhale deeply and watch as the peasant scurry to the call of their master. Now shut your eyes, tightly, You’re almost here…..it’s Amphetamine City. 

 

Amphetamine city is the continuation of Yellow Roses, these stories portrays the never-ending journey towards self discovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Card

You just chose the wild card.You are an expressionist.You are considered part of a modern generation; generation omega. You’d cast your cares away and listen solely to your wild heart.

Money is of more virtue to you than discipline.You crave freedom as you cannot survive being confined, Freedom is what unites you to your ego.

Young people love to wander far and wide, you seek to elope; don’t you? Travel to all corners of the earth and if the locals ask you,” why here?” you grin and retort; “why any place?” for in your heart you already know, better now than never.

Fill your heart with love wild one as it will distract you from your responsibilities, pretend that this one person is all that matters.Give your soul to the chance that you will be young forever so that when you crash; you will crash hard.Pretend that they are all you care for and rebuke anything that drives a wedge between you and them, but heed my caution, these trust issues will arise like fog at dusk threatening to cloud your judgments even further, pulling them so far from you that they refuse to acknowledge you, even to their own self.

Do not let your insecurities define you wild one, do not let your mind be dismayed by your physical attributes, for they are worth nothing but the age-old insidious monster, depression.

Do not disguise yourself with an exterior that is not yours either; for you will become a prime target to those more troubled and insincere than you, and with time, it will not only take its toll on you, but you will integrate into their culture…becoming one of their own.Burying yourself behind frail wobbly walls.

Let your secrets remain unspoken and your truths stay unchanged.Many will come and most will vanish but do not attach singular priority to any.Indulge in the life you desire, but check the opinions they throw at your feet. Watch them; for they may either make or break you.

In all you do, aspire to do it tremendously, even though you do not have an inkling how, for malnourished ambitions has destroyed many-a-vibrant personalities such as yours. I would know, for I chose the wild card too.

“Treasure the beauty of youthful life and the wisdom of adulthood.”
Lailah Gifty Akita

 

Yellow Roses

Green pastures roll by for several minutes and then there was desert land.

I plastered my eyes to the minut window, not staring at anything in particular.

All I could note was the abrupt transition from abundance to famine.

“Ma’am, could you put on your seatbelt, please?”

I rotated my head; lengthening my neck to get the pudgy middle-aged man in full view.

I complied.

ticket, please?

I reached inside my favorite tonic-black jacket, slowly pulling out a paper and extended my arm towards him.

His eyes fixated on it for a few seconds. “Thank you” he said, handing it back.

As he motions to leave. “Excuse me” I said shyly ” How long is this bus ride?”

“Where u headed?” he asks.

“Amphetamine city”

memiors09

He glances down his wrist. “about 3 more hours from now” walking away

I sighed heavily, Propping my back against the rails of my seat

I peered out the window again; now it was a corn field. Acres, acres, and acres of corn.

Time seemed to churn slowly, slower than a store clerk stacking cans of Campbell chicken noodle soup at Walmart.Seemingly delighted at how despondent and nonchalant we seemed to be.

Earphones In.A tablet in her hands. The girl adjacent to me was fidgeting aloud on her device; completely transfixed solely on becoming the next candy crush champion.

yea, I know what it means to be possessive of a thing. A relic, and not being able to give it up.After all, that was I was sitting here; on this humid godforsaken Friday evening yearning to alight soonest at the last stop.

There was something about that place—— or someone that hypnotized me.

“This diary is my kief, hashish and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice.” ― Anaïs Nin

The repeated honking by the driver jolted me back to reality.’

Earphones in, eyes shut. The herculean brawn behind leaned back.cushioning his neck on the headrest. sweat beading on his forehead.His blonde mane seemed to highlight his freckled chin and highly tanned skin

“Damn”, I imagined, a wave of stale wind drove into my face; ” a bottle of India pale ale would have been quite handy at this point of the voyage”.Rooky mistake.

From my peripheral vision, I noted the gorgeous lean lady with the “Audrey Hepburn” neck. Hair braided back with a few perfectly scattered on her neck.She was undoubtedly entertained by the elderly woman beside her with velvety blue eyes. The latter was seemingly excited; her pupils dilated; perhaps that’s was why she was chatty; Perhaps a listening ear was all she needed to offload her heart’s burden.

Our need to drown time in unique ways captivated me to weave this tapestry.It was their need to spend time that compelled the way I spent mine. It’s been about 50 minutes journey left and I’m still sitting here.legs crossed.scribbling this.  Acres of land, Green pastures, velvety blue eyes disperses slowly with clouds tumbling in.

I look onwards to the horizon, anticipating the sunset dawning on us and right then, I caught a glimpse of yellow roses sprouting from dust beneath my feet.

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