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She pressed and held so that the honk of her car will rally with that of the ones around, maybe then, the traffic will clear.

She could will all the cars away, she knew she could. But she did not. She wanted- needed- to conserve her new found powers because of course it was bestowed on her by more than coincidence… it was a gift of fate for the greater good.

Lala knew the world was in imminent danger. The signs where there, of things; bad things approaching from different dark crevices.

It was obvious in the shadows that moved anti-clockwise, against the sun,defying light.

It was evident in the children born with their eye wide open, open even in their mothers wombs.

It was apparent in the gait of the trees, more rebellious as against their gentility. Nature was brazen and brash; a tree trunk extending to make her trip, then the winds howling in laughter as she falls.

Somehow, she was the only one that saw them, she was the only one that felt the change so when she told her mother, her mother merely grimaced and looked away staring into the empty sunburnt evening.

Lala had had enough. Surely, doing something to prevent her from having a heatstroke amidst an ungrateful traffic in a state that will get mad at you for dying because you have caused more traffic is part of the greater good.

Eyes closed. Breathe hitched. Zen mode. Concentrate.  It took 10 minutes… it gets easier and faster by the moment. Wielding ones power, like a talent takes practice… Lala was getting a hold of hers.

The traffic had dispersed before her and she easily maneuvered, her heart in her throat, her fists clenching the wheels till she felt like she’d puke. She could do it, she had the power of telekinesis. She could move objects using sheer mental power and that…. that had to be the most heady thing.

She was glad she made it home before fainting. The mental exercise had drained her of all energy and she needed sugar or an energy drink to re-charge. She’ll take red bull, then she’ll tell her daughter all about it now that she had confirmed that she was indeed superhuman.

It all started in the lab, as a scientist working in a high facility government lab, she dealt with major chemicals, and she believed in major abilities but she had never for once thought she’d accidentally develop an ability though it might be that her strong mental believe had attracted that bug to her.

The vision of that multi-coloured, shimmery bug with eyes that looked like they could see right through people and straight into the future hit her again, this time, so hard she had to promptly sit on a sofa.

She wondered-not for the first time- how it had made it’s way past the barricade, past the heavy duty doors that shut so tight even air had to hiss away. The place was highly sensitized and well-lit, surely something as big and colourful as that should not have covered that distance unnoticed.

But fate… laws of attraction… her innate instinct to help must have had a hand in gaming it all. The sting was so sharp and sudden she fainted. That was when she  died, perhaps for a second or its split,but her heart had skipped a beat, maybe two and it had been jolted back to life only because on her way down, the complex chemical she was working on had spilled and burnt deep into the sting that it had prompted her heart to beat. And when she awoke, she woke up a new human.

She could see patterns in life, she could see thought processes. She could see the life in things people think are inanimate not knowing that they retain the hum of life of their raw nature. The furniture still hum with the trees essence, the cars still have elements of steel, so does every other thing; that was why controlling them became easy for her- because she could feel them, connect to them, communicate with them, will them and they bent to her will.

She didn’t hear her daughter come in. She was so in tune with every other thing she started losing touch with humans… they were far less interesting.

‘Mama you look pale’. Her daughter looked at her worried. Her daughter worried unnecessarily.

Lala smiled weakly.

‘I’m okay. How are you? How’s school?’

But she didn’t hear how school was, or how Nana was selected to represent the school in a science tournament, or how Nana’s best friend was caught with a boy and flogged before the class, or how Nana really needed money for a new uniform, because she was communicating with TV vibes and she would have moved it but for the fear that Nana will freak out.

When she opened her eyes, it was night and her daughter was nowhere to be found, she had slept off. There was a plate of yam and beans porridge on the table, Nana must have made it. Her poor child must be confused and lonely but some matters require sacrifice.

‘Mama are you sure you are okay?’ Nana asked again after checking up on her mother to see if she was breathing. Her mother had been delusional since her father left them for her mothers older cousin but it had become worse lately.

Lala didn’t flinch.

‘It’s okay to think about him. But please we have to move on’. She pleaded. She was desperate for her mother to pick up the pieces of her once colourful life again.

Lala tilted her head towards her daughter and smiled ‘Who? It has always been the two of us darling’.

She was, it seemed, stuck in a stage of calm denial- not of the act of betrayal (it would have been much better) but of the existence of Nana’s Dad. It scared Nana to no end.

Then something moved in Nana’s periphery. She turned to catch the object fly out through the window. Her mother caught her looking and smiled.

‘ I was wondering how you’ll find out. It was so hard keeping it to myself for so long. Now you know’. Her smile was so wide, it was the happiest Nana had seen her since the incident.

‘Know what? What are you talking about Mama?’

‘I know it may seem like there’s a plausible explanation, but it’s just that! I have the power of telekinesis… and yes I just threw out that verse through the window with my mind’.

‘Mama!’ Nana half-whispered in an ill-attempt to keep the alarm out of her voice, ‘Mama that was a bird’. And a tear fell from her eyes.

He was having a very bad day. He wasn’t sure the day could get worse but if it did, then he might completely lose it and breakdown. 

His landlady sent him packing so that the meagre clothings he had were thrown in a worn out, shabby backpack, along with his last money, some measly six hundred and fifty naira. His phone had been stolen a day ago else he could have probably called his rich Aunt to appeal for some funds and Binta had broken up with him because he couldn’t send her the 500 naira recharge card she had demanded for. 

She had already had enough of his bullshit according to her and he had tripped his last card. 

But that wasn’t the worse thing. The worse thing was that he couldn’t get any pot to smoke. The six fifty could sustain him on garri and some moldy bread sold at a cheaper price for some days but that was it, his weed funds were out.

He would have to resort to the job he had rejected, manual labour. He hated working and the only reason why he wasn’t in a gang of thieves was because his late mother had made him promise her he wouldn’t do anything illegal as a source of income. Sometimes, he hated himself for promising her.

He was tired of walking, he had to trek the length of the city to locate his friends house for temporary asylum. A lone shade offered some solace to his lonely self and he walked towards it already sighing in anticipation of being away from the scorching heat.

The shed wasn’t empty. It was occupied by an old man whose wretched possessions were scattered all over. His face contorted in annoyance as if he had found someone taking up his personal space.

He lowered himself and sighed. He was thirsty. He had no water to drink and there was no shop in sight. In fact, the place was partially deserted as it always was. There were just a few houses scattered around, everyone avoided the area because of the rampancy of rascals.

He glanced at the old man who looked creepier than most haggard homeless old men and hissed. He didn’t know why the old man was consistently staring at him. 

He arranged his bag beneath his head and placed his hand on the side where his last money was. Then he dozed off.

He jolted with a start, he had slept off apparently without realizing it. He knew something must have woken him up but he wasn’t sure what it was. He hissed again and readjusted his head on his bag- on the place where his bag was meant to be – because his head lay rudely on bare sand.

He sat up with a start, eyes wide searching for his bag. The old man looked at him keenly as if he was an interesting thing, chuckled, then laughed.

‘Why are you laughing old man?’ he asked still dazed. ‘Where’s my bag? You stole my bag you crook’. 

He held the old man by his worn out lapel. 

‘It wasn’t I, it was some kids. You were sleeping like a log, didn’t even feel them take it from beneath your head’ he shook his head ‘ lazy children of nowadays’.

He wasn’t even sure what to do to the man. He was super annoyed. 

‘ And you let them? You didn’t wake me up?’.

The old man shrugged ‘ Better you than me’.

He was furious now, and since he couldn’t be furious at the culprits, he directed it towards the old man. He balled his palm to fist and knocked the old man right in the middle of the head. Then he snatched the cap the old man stored his begging loot in and rushed away with it leaving the old man to clutch his head in pain.

For some reason, the sight made him laugh. He laughed so hard he doubled over. The old man deserved it for being a silent party to the theft. And what he did wasn’t stealing, he hardly thinks his mother would mind.

‘You know what they say boy’ the old man said between gritted teeth ‘ he who laughs last laughs longest’.

That made him burst into another fit of laughter. Silly fool. He had lost his few belongings but at least he was having a good laugh out of it. If every loss will make his spirit dampen he would have been in the bottom of a river by now.

He walked off still laughing. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t stop laughing. He didn’t start noticing something wrong until when he walked on for three minutes and he was still laughing.

Okay that’s enough laughter for one day you can stop now, he told himself. But he couldn’t. He kept on laughing even as he tried to close his mouth and stop emitting any sound.

He laughed on even as panic rose within him and set like a pregnant cloud full of terror. He laughed on…

The old man had cursed him. The sudden realization gave him an adrenaline pump and he turned and ran back towards the shed. 

Ever seen a man running and laughing like his life depended on it? Well he did. It wasn’t funny to him but to anyone who might be watching, it was a funny sight.

He arrived the shed, the old man had left, no traces of his footprints were visible, all the stuff scattered around where gone and in their place, his bag lay. He didn’t want his bag, he though in annoyance. He wanted his sanity back. 

‘He who laughs last laughs longest’ the words of the old man rang in his ears as if he was just an inch away from him.

She was the first person he saw after buying his ticket and proceeding to the waiting area.   His sense pricked up on high alert the moment he laid eyes on her and the first thing that came to his mind was -soft. She looked so soft and fragile like a delicate cluster of cloud or cotton candy.

It seemed like she wasn’t walking, she was gliding through and she had a meek demeanour but exuded confidence.  She looked like a no-nonsense lamb. He couldn’t help but stare at her, eyes filled with wondrous confusion.

She softly landed on a seat almost opposite his, looked around disinterestingly before whipping out her phone.  He was holding his phone too but it was only so that it wouldn’t be too obvious to her or anyone the fact that he was staring at her from above the phone

Then it was time to board. He watched her struggle with a medium sized box, a small luggage and her hand bag over the flight of stairs that led to the platform where the train awaited them.

His gentlemanly instincts which was otherwise dormant but for the sights of damsels in distress and a few choice moments kicked in and he approached her. He was nervous.  He had never been that nervous to approach a girl. Not even the fiery ones. But he had sweaty palms in anticipation of talking to a lamb.

‘Do you need help with that’?   He asked her, his faint British accent becoming more accentuated by the lob-dob of his heart.

She turned to him, a sweet smile already plastered on her face.

‘Don’t worry, I’m good. Thanks though’. Her voice was like he imagined.  Cottony. Soft and melodious like she was singing softly in speech.

How modest, he thought. The baggage was obviously dragging her back. He had to help. He wondered why she didn’t take the elevator instead but he wasn’t complaining, it was his grand opening.

‘I know you are.  But it seems unfair, I have just a laptop bag and you have three bags. It’s just fair to share’. He flashed her his most charming smile.

She looked at the bags as if in contemplation, turned her gaze to him, then wordlessly extended the big box to him. He collected it, thought fleetingly of how he just acted like a bellboy and hoped she won’t attempt to give him some change after they reach their seats.

‘I can help you with that one too’. He motioned at the smaller hand luggage. Her eyes widened in an emotion he couldn’t decipher, she stared down at it and shook her head.

‘I’m fine really. Thanks’ another smile.

They were both in first class. Good. First class tends to have empty seats so even of they weren’t seat mates, he hoped the seat near hers will be vacant. The connection he felt with her couldn’t just be lost on the train.

‘What’s your seat number?’ He asked, he willed her to say seat 31, the one near his.

’54’ she replied. Dang!

He hauled her box up the rack. She smiled in appreciation.
‘Thank you. Where’s your seat’. She was just being polite.

’32’ he said motioning with his head to the rows of seats behind.

She nodded, he stood still for a  bit waiting for an invitation from her to join the seat but she had already settled on her seat and was rummaging through her handbag. The hand luggage was wedged between her leg and the seat in front of her and it looked uncomfortable.

He bent to help her put it up also on the rack but was cut off by an alarmed sound the moment his hand touched the bag.

‘Don’t touch that!’ She exclaimed.  Then realised her voice was a notch higher than cottony. She lowered her eyes in shyness and looked away. ‘I want this one beside me’ she explained further.

He nodded and left wondering about the very sudden outburst. His mother had always warned him to never open a lady’s bag, he may be surprised at the things he might find. His mother never said anything about touching it.

He settled on his seat but his mind was restless and soon enough, his body grew restless too. Something was enigmatic about her. He wanted to find out.

He stood up and pretended he was going to buy something in the corner canteen . He wanted to see if the seat near her was like his, empty.  But there was an elderly man seated there struggling to settle his laptop on the small fold-in table attached to the back of the seat in front of them.

He passed by them. She was still typing on her phone. He bought two meatpies and two drinks them came back beside the man who sat beside ‘his lady’.

‘ Sir if you want to work on your laptop you could have my seat. It’s that one in the middle by the charging  point.  If the lady assents of course’.

Both he and the man turned to look at her, both with pleading eyes. She smiled for a fraction of a second then shrugged.  The man thanked him, carried his bag and headed to the table spot. With the charging point near him, he could finish his preparing his presentation long enough to have time to hack into his girlfriend’s instagram account.  He had a feeling she’s doing something fishy over there.

‘I’m sorry. I hope I’m not imposing myself’ he said, he didn’t sound sorry.

‘I don’t mind’ she replied. He extended the snack and drink to her, she shook her head. He insisted,  she collected it and kept it near him. Then they started talking.

Because her speech is soft, one will hardly notice how much of a conversationalist she was. But he noticed,  as he noticed everything about her. Like the way her gze kept gliding by the bag.

They spoke about plenty things, their family, their early life, University.  She didn’t go into depth,  she avoided some aspects, he noticed that too.

Before he knew it, they had arrived. Ut was the shortest Abuja -Kaduna train ride he had ever been on.

He helped her with her bag. They went down the stairs and stood at the end waiting for their rides.  Hers came first and he was ad to say goodbye. At least he had her number. Our love story started on the train. It was a classic one. That was what he’ll tell their kids and grandkids,  he thought.

It was only when he heard a phone ring beside him that ge realised in horror,  she had forgotten her lady bad.

He picked it up. Moved forward trying to see whether they were still in view or had turned back to get it but the cars and people where fewer then. It was already past 8:00 pm. Last train for the day.

He decided to open it and answer. No doubt it was she trying to get her phone back.

He opened the bag, reached for the phone, froze. It was no lady bad, it was a death bag. There was a sleek metallic gun, some bottles, three fingers wrapped in something like cling film, some clothes stained with blood and by the side, huddled between the clothes, a human skull stared at him with empty hollowed out sockets.

He dropped the bag in fear and turned around in confusion hoping no one had seen him but he saw her. She smiled,  itbwas everything but warm and fluffy.

‘It’s quite unfortunate.  I really liked you. Didn’t your mother teach you not to open a lady’s bag?’.

Before he could move, a car stopped behind him. He heard the door open and all in a split second with shock rendering him immobile, someone covered his face with a cloth heavy with chloroform and he sunk into it’s intoxicating lure all the while staring into her eyes. Her hardened, lifeless, scary eyes.

He should have heeded his mother’s advice.

They were doing it. They were finally doing it!.
She didn’t look at her husband all through the journey. He didn’t look at her either and none of them turned to look at the backseat where she lay knocked out.
She cracked her knuckles, she was nervous, not scared, not anxious, nervous. They couldn’t be seen doing it.
It could be a bad idea, but never a bad decision. When she remembered the hell they had to put up for four years, she was sure they had to get rid of …it / she whatever it was.
Oh but she was a pure angel during birth.  Her daughter, Afwa, was a serene one. People never got tired of commenting on her peacefulness.
 ‘What a peaceful baby’ they’d say ‘she sleeps all through the night and wakes up only a few times for some refreshment. She never fusses. Not at all’.
And she will beam in pride and tell them another tale to corroborate Afwas peacefulness.
Second year, Afwa learnt to walk then talk, she was a pretty fast learner,  super smart kid. They used to banter, she and her husband on who she got her smartness from. That was before she started becoming something else.
 First it was complains from the neighbours kids and her sisters kids about Afwa hurting them, even the older ones. She used to discoutenance it as play-gone-wrong.
Then the girl started hurting her and her husband. A prick with a blade, paper blazing with fire dubbed from the gas cooker on her hand, a stab to the leg. Each time she will stand before them and laugh. She never ran, they never beat her. They couldn’t.  She started getting really worried.
She got the Mallam, her daughter had to be possessed. It was the only explanation. But after the Mallam was chased away from the room where the exorcism was taking place like a wild man and without a proper explanation, they decided it was really beyond minor ‘possession’.
A string of Mallams came and where sent away never to return through year three, four and five. In those years, Afwa had burnt down the house, cost her father his job, and smothered her baby sister to death. She always laughed in a monotonous high pitched voice while at it. It was too much for them, she was the devils incarnate in the form of a 5 year old.
The last straw. Her mother dreamt of them- she and her husband- tied by Afwa by the fireside with other children as sacrifice to whichever thing they served, she prayed so hard until she felt  herself zoom back to the land of consciousness.  She found Afwa straddling her, her face right in front of her, a wicked smile playing on her lips. Then she jumped off laughing and walked out to cause some more grief.
Her husband had the same dream too. The next Mallam told them that she was ‘Yar ruwa. She belonged to the river. They had to take her to riverside at the break of dawn so her people could fetch her, else, she will sacrifice them both.
‘Hold her arms, I’ll hold  her legs’ she suggested to her husband. She didn’t want to touch the girls hands even though she was heavily sedated. The hands looked like something extremely sinister.
They carried her out of the car. She was so much heavier than a five year old child. They  dropped her by the riverside as per the instructions and her husband threw in three stones into the river.
‘Good Morning People of the river. We are here with one of you. We have brought her back in peace. Please let us be’.
They turned and walked back. Afwa’s father wiped the tears pooling in his eyes before they fell . Afwa’s mom felt nothing.
They could feel something different the moment they stepped back into the house. It felt light, airy and brighter. Like the demonic presence has been lifted. No regrets.
‘Mama’. She heard the voice say before she felt a tap on her knees. ‘Mama I’m hungry’.
Her heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be.  But it was her voice. But she was gone. She slowly opened her eyes.
Afwa stood before her looking all innocent, every inch a five year old.
‘Mama I’m hungry’ Afwa repeated.
‘How did you get here?’ She asked. Her voice was shaking badly. She tried to get off the sofa where she was enjoying her post-Afwa rest but couldn’t.
 ‘How did you?’.
‘Mama I’m hungry too’.
Afwas mother knew, as sure as she knew herself, that she had given birth to only one child when she gave birth to Afwa. But there standing by the kitchen door, holding a knife, was a girl exactly like Afwa, she could be her clone.
‘Mama I’m hungry’ they said in unison. Then burst out laughing