Abru was confused.
Though deep and complete, it was an understandable confusion. Something extremely strange was going on. At first, there was nothing; he was sure of that. A nothing so complete and absolute that even he wasn’t there and then… he suddenly was. From nothing to something just like that. He didn’t exist one second and he was real in the next. It was a lot for anyone to take in.
The longer he existed though, the more it was starting to make sense. He had been around before and then something had happened to him. Something important. Something…
Oh yeah, he had died.
He remembered that now. His daughter had killed him. This thought should have surprised him but it did not. New memories were telling him that he had always known children were a bad idea and it served him right for having one. But …why was he there? Death was supposed be permanent wasn’t it? Why had he come back. Why had….
He was a demon. Demons didn’t die. Not really and not for long. They were mostly magic and energy, the two things you couldn’t destroy. But something did happen to them if they did kind of not really die. They were reviewed. Yes, the review. If they died poorly then…
“Listen…it’s not what you think,” he said quickly.
“That statement is never true. And if it ever were, I certainly doubt a demon would be the pioneer.”
Abru was facing the most hated being in the universe. He was hated by the heavens because he had too much hell in him. The demonic hoard hated him because he had too much heaven in him. If the earthlings met him they’d hate him because he was the angel of fucking death. And, as if being hated by every sentient thing in existence hadn’t taught him anything, he was a stuck up bastard too.
“Ok,” said Abru, “it is what you think but you’re thinking about it wrong.”
“Am I now?”
“Yes. Yes you are. I did not fuck up.”
“That doesn’t mean I fucked up. Why would that mean i fucked up? One would think you would know that death’s are complicated seeing as you’re kind of the leading expert in this field and everything”
“Abru – what is your point?”
“I…That is my point. I didn’t fuck up. We’ve got no problem here. Just send me on my way and get back to bringing misery to all or whatever it is you do.”
“We have standards Abru, I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. You get energy and substance, you go out into the world and do what you do. You maintain the cosmic balance. If you waste this gift then we take it away and give it to someone else. Your consciousness goes back into the seals until we have something new for you; assuming that should ever happen.”
“I didn’t waste…”
“You got killed by a human.”
“Yes…your own daughter.”
“Well, that’s a mark in my favour isn’t it? She’s half me. With ancestry like that you can’t really expect mediocre results.”
“Listen, she’s dangerous. You need to let me go back and finish this before she does anything else. You can’t afford to have my spawn going about killing spirits. What if she takes you out next? Then where will we be?”
“Abru,” The Death Angel sighed, “The charges against your re-entry into the realms are simple. You are simply not fit for duty. Getting killed by a child…”
“She’s eighteen now actually.”
“She’s eighteen now. Not really a child any more. So, scratch that out please. I was killed by a half demon, daughter to one of the most dangerous beings in existence. Go on…write that down.”
“I will do no such thing.”
“For an angel, your commitment to truth is shameful.”
“Abru, why do you insist on being a constant frustration.”
“Wait…are you saying that I am at this very moment frustrating you? Whoa, now you have to let me go. I have to boast about this to …well…everyone. I , Abru, have single-handedly brought down the apathy of legend.”
“It seems that talking to you any further will be nothing more than a waste of my time. So this is what will happen. You will be pulled from the East African principality for that zone is and always has been an important area for demonic activity. It needs an expert if balance is to be maintained. You are clearly not fit for the job. For now, you will wait in the seals. ”
“What? An angel with hearing problems? I said no.”
“Choice is not to something you have here. You cannot say no.”
“I can’t? No. See? I just said it for the third time. I’m beginning to think you don’t know what you’re talking about. So this, this whole situation here, you’re wrong about it too. I am not going into the seals.”
“YOU CANNOT SAY NO!”
“Well…” said Abru smiling, “no!”
The angel looked at him then. No, that wasn’t it. He had been looking at him before but something had changed. He was now looking at him not as a disgruntled employee doing his job but as the angel of death. A look that held the weight of every death there had ever been and that there ever would be. A look of such staggering power that Abru was sure it was destroying some of his substance permanently, a thing he knew was not possible. But known things meant nothing under that look. Rules and boundaries obeyed it and became what it needed them to be. If legend held true, that look had even cowed the devil himself.
Abru fled. He didn’t mean to but he did. There are things that not even demons are willing to face. Things so terrible that even one spawned from hell does not wish to contemplate. This was one of them. He moved as fast as he knew how to. He had already decided where to go but would he get there in time? Would he make it before his substance was forcefully stripped from him? Already he could feel the hands of death just behind him.
Across Kenya, a mighty wind blew in twists and turns all across the country. It cut through farms, buildings and threw up a narrow strip of dust as it passed. Later, it would be whispered that wherever the wind crossed, things died in line right behind it. Plants, animals, people, anything that could be killed. Those who saw it pass and lived swore on everything they held dear that the wind would cross first and then, seconds later, the deaths would follow.
Masika woke up feeling groggy. She was in a white room and she didn’t know exactly where she was. That was bad. With the life she had led, waking up in unknown places was exactly the kind of thing that was not likely to have an optimistic ending. It could mean that death was near and that, all things considered, was probably the best case scenario.
“Nelima?” she said, remembering the last thing she saw.
“Nelima’s not here. Did you in pretty good though.”
Masika froze. Even if there had been someone else in the room there would have been no mistaking it; the voice had come from inside her head. This was even worse than she had thought. She was possessed. But…she had been so careful. How could this have happened to her. How?
“Oh come on Masika,” said the voice, “Don’t freeze up like that. This should be a happy reunion.”
She almost cried. It was Abru. Of all the demons to possess her it had to have been him. That stupid inadvertent father of her child. Of all the…
She reached for her defences and found that they were still up, still strong. The gentle almost imperceptible waves were flowing over her skin like they always did. Demons couldn’t get past that. It simply could not be done. Something strange was going on. Something unnatural and she didn’t even know where to start looking to figure it out.
“How did you do it?”
“Hm? How did I become so amazing? That’s a really really good story. It all started back when we were kicked out of…”
“How did you do it!?”
“Persistent aren’t we? Well, that’s not something you have to worry about right now. What you do need to worry about….”
“How did you do it!” She said more urgently, panic and anger fighting for control of her voice.
“Look, Masika, calm down. We have important things to discuss.”
“We are not discussing anything while you are in me. Toka!” Get out!
“That’s not what you said last time,” he chuckled, “You really just walked right into that one. Too easy.”
Masika ignored him and let power start to form in her chest. If he was not going to give her answers then she was going to jump straight to the next step. Getting rid of him
“What are you doing?” he asked.
Tendrils of power made their way from the source in her chest creeping towards her mind. She felt weak but it didn’t matter. She didn’t need strength for this, she needed accuracy and precision. It would be surgery. If she could not push him out then she would simply cut him out.
“That’s a really bad idea,” he said, “unless you plan on spending the rest of your life as vegetable.”
That gave her pause. It wasn’t so much what he had said as how he had said it. His tone was serious and Abru was almost never serious. He was annoying, irritating, aggravating and even when he was serious those traits were still threaded into it. But a purely serious Abru? Perhaps she should listen to him; there were many things that did not make sense. Things she needed to know.
“You need to tell me what’s going on.”
“Na usijaribu kunidanganya.” And don’t you dare try lie to me
“I won’t lie Masika,” said Abru still serious, “You need to understand just how bad things are right now.”
Masika felt cold. She did not know what was going on but she was becoming increasingly sure she did not want to know anymore.
“Your run in with Nelima left you without a memory,” he said, “You can’t remember and you can’t make new memories. When I came in here, your memories were scattered everywhere. Nowhere to stay anymore. Homeless wandering memories haunting a mind that had no place for them to rest.”
Masika wanted to doubt the words but in the end she could not. There was something wrong with her mind and it wasn’t just the possession as she had initially thought. There was an unfamiliar emptiness in it. An absence. A lacking. Something was gone and there was an intruder standing in its place.
“So,” he continued, “ you need me. You need me because I am your memory now. I hold your old ones andIi take in your new ones. If I leave then you go back to staring blankly at the roof. You will know nothing, you will always know nothing, you will BE nothing.”
“So I’m your hostage then.”
“No. It would be nice if you thought so but I know you wouldn’t believe that for very long. You know i wouldn’t choose to actually live in a human for any extended period. No. The truth is I need you too. I need you because…well, i lost my substance. It’s gone. I have no body and I can’t survive long without one. Not without returning to…never mind that. I need you just as much as you need me. I need a vessel for my consciousness and you need one for your memories. We’re tied together Masika. Like it or not.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I don’t trust you and you don’t trust me either. You’re going to help me because you have to. I’m going to help you because i don’t have a damned choice. As long as we both know this then we’re more likely to both get what we want.”
“I see,” said Masika largely to herself. It made sense. Necessity was always more reliable than trust.
“You know I can feel you thinking. That worries me. Stop it.”
“So, you don’t have a substance…that’s how you got past my defences isn’t it? They wouldn’t be looking for you because you’re essentially nothing now.”
“Hey, watch it.”
“How did you lose it?”
Abru was silent for long moment. He seemed to be considering something but it was hard to tell since he was just a strange sensation in her mind. Finally he said.
“Nelima. Nelima did it.”
“You know I can’t tell you that. Should we ever get free of each other, and we will, I can’t have you knowing something like that. You’d string me up the very next day.”
“ Why me though? Why did you choose me? It could have been anyone. Na, kusema ukweli, we’re not exactly best friends. So, why me?”
“Because we have a child together. Might as well get married while we’re at it. Become one flesh I believe they say. I didn’t have flesh so any becoming one had to…”
“Wacha ujinga.” Don’t be stupid
“Because if I had to pick a human body, I’d rather pick one with power. And because I need revenge. I need Nelima dealt with. When it comes to that, no one is as dedicated as I am to that goal except you. So here we are.”
“So… unataka nikusaidie kuua mwanangu?” So you want me to help you kill my child?
“Spare the rod…” She could feel Abru smiling in her mind.
“Demons quoting the bible. Dunia ina maajabu.” The world never ceases to amaze
“What can I say. When it’s right, it’s right.”
“So what’s the plan after Nelima. Hatuwezi kaa hivi.”We cannot live like this
“She IS the plan.”
“If you get Nelima, you get your memory back. If I get Nelima, I have a body with enough demon in its makeup that I can channel power through it. We get her, all our problems are solved. What…why are you laughing.”
“Hizi shida,” these problems, “ I’m planning how to kill my daughter with her father who is currently stuck inside my head acting as part of my brain. When you lay with dogs, fleas. When you lay with demons…”
“You’re going to try double cross me aren’t you.”
“Obviously,” Abru laughed, “And you’re going to try do me over. Wouldn’t be any fun otherwise now would it?”
Do you know what the best possible application for hawk vision is? Watching people at the beach. I swear. If you can see people long before they can see you then you can get in a good long look. You normally sighted people don’t know what you’re missing out on. Just the other day, I saw this guy with an afro from the heavens. The kind of afro that defies logic. It flows down and looks messed up but it’s the kind of messed up that probably took hours of careful curation with the sole purpose of driving one Nelima crazy. It was the kind of afro that even if you have the world’s hottest body (and he was making a good argument that he did) it will always be accompanying the damn thing. A complimentary feature. A sidekick. I honestly didn’t know if I wanted my hands all tangled in it holding on for dear life or to steal it for one of my traits. Probably one after the other.
It was somewhere in the middle of my inspection that I was struck with the unassailable feeling that I was being watched. I couldn’t shake it off. I knew I was being watched.
That’s the moral of the story. This guy was so hot that my watching was reflecting right off him, probably feeling unworthy in the face of that afro, and rebounding back on me so I felt that I was the one being watched. Life goals men. Life goals. If you hear I’ve moved out to the coast permanently, do not be surprised.
But you know what was funny about it though. I felt like I was being watched by my parents. That’s pretty damned weird. I know I have some unresolved parental issues but damn Nelima, this is not the time. And what’s worse, I felt like it was both of them watching me. Usually, their problems affect me individually. Two entirely different psychosis. Maybe at some level, I missed the lunatics. Maybe it wouldn’t be have been so bad having them around again.
I’m a software developer (that’s what they actually pay me for), a writer (that’s what I hope a mysterious they will pay me for) and an artist (that’s what even more mysterious theys occasionally pay me for). Basically, I’m a guy who sits in front a computer and creates things.
I have written for storymoja, I have an article in the second brainstorm.co.ke ebook “What Crazy Looks Like” and I blog at willthisbeaproblem.com where I’m essentially the boss and come up with crazy ideas like this book.