Mother of Darkness

Mother of Darkness

There is a smile on my face as I pick up the Barbie doll. But it is a wistful smile. Seeing the doll after almost twenty years brings back a lot of good childhood memories but it is also a reminder of the saddest memory of all – the death of my father.
The last time I saw this beloved doll of my childhood was that afternoon when my father’s activist friends had suddenly turned up at our house. My father had just been assassinated; shot in his car as he made his way back home to us after a rally organized against the then military government. We were not given time to mourn. There was the fear that the unscrupulous Head of State would come after his family – my mother, myself and my two younger brothers.

My father’s friends, the people he worked and fought with had descended on our home like a hoard of protecting angels and before we could truly absorb that my father was gone forever, hustled us out of the house, not even giving us time to pack. And by nightfall that day, we had crossed the border into Ghana. There followed a grueling four months as we made our way clandestinely from country to country till we finally berthed in Switzerland, courtesy of the political asylum offered by the Swiss Government.

Switzerland had become our home. The home I had lived for the past nineteen years; the home I had married and birthed my first child; the home I hope to live the rest of my life in.
But today, I am in the country of my birth. This time to bury my mother. She had died last month after a protracted battle with cancer and her dying request was to be buried beside my father in Nigeria. That request had been honored yesterday in the presence of an amazing number of people who had never forgotten the widow of the slain freedom fighter. The reporters too were not left out. It seemed our return home was the breaking news of the hour, which doesn’t say much for the country, I think.

Now finally alone and relishing the silence, I stand in the home I had grown up in, surrounded by memories.
I drop the Barbie doll and pick up a carton. It is filled with my school books and my collection of James Hadley Chase, Pacesetters and books on occult. As a growing child, my interests had revolved round books, anything supernatural, dolls and boys.
I took one of the Pacesetters, ‘Evbu My Love’ and as I rifle through it, a piece of paper falls out. I bend to pick it and read the words written in a childish scrawl on it.

Mother of Darkness, we summon you
Queen of the Night, we call on you
Lady of the Moon, we beseech you
Answer our cries and come to us

Reading those words, memory swirled round me and I was thirteen again on that night so many years ago.

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

Mother of Darkness, we summon you
Queen of the Night, we call on you
Lady of the Moon, we beseech you
Answer our cries and come to us

Four high pitched girlish voices chanting the words over and over again, three of those trying to stifle the threatening giggles. I glared at them. Not that it had any effect. The sight of four of us in our white nightgowns, white powdered faces, and standing in a circle and holding lighted candles in the night under the moonlight would have induced a heart attack in anyone coming upon us, but to my three best friends we simply looked ridiculous. Not to me though. To me this was a serious thing.

During the last holidays I had read a book about a group of friends, six of them who had summoned the most powerful witch in the world using those same words and got her to do their bidding. I was determined to do the same. I had waited impatiently for the holidays to be over so I could put it to the test. The fact that there were only four of us didn’t deter me. It wasn’t the number, it was the faith and determination and the details and the words that mattered. The moment school resumed, I wasted no time in telling my friends and as always, they eagerly agreed.

My three best friends in the world; tall, slim Hassana, the gentlest of us all and most times, the only voice of sanity amongst us; tiny asthmatic Amaka whose breath wheezed out with every word she spoke and who was the most daring; Opeolu, bold and brash who could outtalk the remaining three of us combined and was the first to disappear at the first sign of danger; then me, Osese, the unelected leader and the one who came up with the most outrageous plots and adventures.
We did everything together and had no secrets between us. It was because of them I had begged and pleaded to stay in the boarding house despite that my house just across the road from the school. We had been tagged The Famous Four in school and it was a brand we wore proudly.

We chanted in unison.

Mother of Darkness, we summon you
Queen of the Night, we call on you
Lady of the Moon, we beseech you
Answer our cries and come to us

Suddenly, Opeolu whispered fiercely, “Its Senior Bola. Senior Bola is coming”

Without thinking, we dropped our lighted candles and fled through the darkness, running as if the hades of hell were after us. When the hostels came within sight, we slowed to a stop, gasping for breath. As my breathing eased, frustrated anger slowly began to take its place.

This was our third and last attempt for the term to summon the most powerful witch in the world and we had just been interrupted again.

We had to do the summoning during full moon and I had carefully researched the dates when the moon would be at its fullest. I narrowed it down to one day each in a month and got confirmation from my parents and teachers because there was no room for error. Satisfied, we made the first attempt in the hostel common room which was locked and empty at night, climbing in through the window.
That night, Senior Bola, the headgirl, had emerged, switching on the common room light and startling us almost out of our skins.

“What are you doing here? Are you not supposed to be asleep? What are you doing?” she had shrilled at us.

We could only stare mutely back at her like deers caught in the headlights of a coming car. She had walked up to us and snatched the book we had been reading from out of my hand. She read the words on the open page, and the next thing- SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! On our four heads.

“What is the meaning of this? Stupid Children of Darkness! Before I open my eyes, if I see you here, ehn . . . . .”

She didn’t have to complete her sentence, we took to our heels and spent a restless night worrying she would report us to the House Mistress. She didn’t but over the following days, anytime she saw us, she would smack our heads and call us ‘Children of Darkness’. This of course earned her the name ‘Mother of Darkness’. Not that we ever called her that to her face.
She never returned the book and none of us was bold enough to ask her for it.
I hated losing the book but it didn’t really affect my summoning plans, I already had those four sentences inscribed in my heart and I wrote it down for the others to memorize.

That failed attempt had slowed us down but did not stop us. The next full moon night found us gathered again, this time behind the hostel. But Senior Bola, apparently on her way for a clandestine visit with her boyfriend in the neighboring boys’ school (so Opeolu said) had turned up again with,

“You these children, you will not listen. Come here”, SMACK, SMACK! SMACK, SMACK! SMACK, SMACK! SMACK, SMACK! Two smacks each, harder that time around.

That second encounter had made us go farther away from the hostel for this our third attempt, opting for a dark corner of the large school field. But, with her still turning up again, that had obviously still not been far enough. At least we had escaped the smacks this time, we consoled ourselves, not that it was much comfort.

The next day being the end of the school term, it seemed our witch summoning attempt was over for the year but I was nothing if not resilient. Speaking quickly before we sneaked back into the hostel, I made the girls promise that on the night of the next full moon, we would each do the summoning no matter where we were. After assuaging their fears of being alone with the world’s strongest witch if she appeared, by promising them she would appear only to me, they agreed.
I made sure to remind each of them the next morning, making them write it down in their diaries before we dispersed for the holiday.

The month couldn’t go fast enough and on the day of the summoning, I called each of my friends to remind them. Those days, there was no mobile telephone. It was just Nitel landline. I begged my mother to use the one in our house and she agreed.
I called Hassana in her home in Sokoto but it was her father who picked and said Hassana had gone out with her mother. I said I just wanted to see how she was doing and he promised to pass on my message. I hoped she would understand and remember.

I was able to speak with Opeolu in Ondo and she said she remembered. I called Amaka in Lagos but her father said she was in Port Harcourt on a science field trip. There was nothing I could do about that except keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

I was on tenterhooks throughout the day as I waited impatiently for night to fall. So restless was I that my mother kept asking what was wrong. To prevent any suspicion, I retreated to my room and pretended to study while in reality I kept going over my plans for the night to make sure I had not overlooked anything.

Finally, the much awaited night came and I lay in agony till the whole house was silent in sleep then got up, wore my white nightgown, poured powder all over my face, then picking up three candles and a box of matches, tiptoed out of the house, cringing at the slightest sound. Thankfully, I made it out without awakening my mother or brothers, my father having travelled for that fateful seminar he would never return from.

Once outside, I scrambled up the mango tree beside our fence and tossed down the candles and box of matches to the other side before swinging down from the tree branches that extended over the fence. I moved swiftly through the small garden my mother had planted at the back, turned the corner round the fence and headed across the road to the side of the school. It offered a better protection than the residential area where our house was located. Anyone could peek out the window of one of the neighboring houses and see the light of the candles. They would definitely come out to investigate and the thought of being denied my summoning was more fearful to me than being reported to my mom.

When I got to a dark place deep in the bushes behind the school that I felt was safe enough, I lit the candles and started my chanting.

Mother of Darkness, I summon you
Queen of the Night, I call on you
Lady of the Moon, I beseech you
Answer our cries and come to me

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

“Osese! Osese!” my mother’s voice roused me out of a deep sleep, brought on by the tiredness of my nocturnal adventure. Her hand accompanied her voice to shake me awake, “Osese. Opeolu is on the phone for you”.
I immediately jumped up, the last hold of sleep falling away and ran to the parlor. I was eager to hear of how she had fared with her summoning. I picked the phone.

“Ope . . . . .”

As usual with her, she didn’t let me complete what I was about to say, “Aha, Osese! Since that I’ve been holding on for you. You don’t know my daddy will start talking that I’m using the phone for too long. That was how the other day, you . . . . . . .”

“Opeolu”, I broke in, “Did you do it?”

“Yes” she muttered and didn’t say more. That was to punish me for interrupting her.

“Opeolu”, I spoke her name cajolingly, “what happened?”

Opeolu was not one to hold a grudge. She loved talking too much for that.
“I didn’t even know Senior Bola lives in Ondo, talkless of being our neighbor. I went to the uncompleted building beside our house to do the thing, the house that they said one former principal is the owner and that he stole his school money to build. You remember I told . . . . . . .”

I shot upright from the chair I had been slouching in, “Ope, Senior Bola was there?”

“Yes now. She just walked in as I started the song. I had to leave everything and run back home . . . . .”

My heart started pounding, I had to speak past throat suddenly gone dry, “Senior Bola! Are you sure it was Senior Bola?”

“Aha, shey I don’t know Senior Bola again? She was wearing that her t-shirt that is like . . . . . .”

I could not hear Opeolu again. A suspicion was crystallizing in my head. Abruptly I dropped the call on Opeolu without saying goodbye and with shaky fingers, dialed Hassana’s number. I waited impatiently as her father called her. The moment her soft voice came on the line – “Did you see Senior Bola in the night when you were doing the summoning?” I demanded without preamble.

“Yes. I didn’t even know she lives in Sokoto. Or is she on holiday here . . . . . .”

I hung up abruptly and sat back, my heart pounding feverishly, trying to think past the fear pulsating through me.

The phone suddenly jangled shrilly, making me jump half out of my skin. I stared at it for the longest moments, afraid to pick. The fear in me pushing to irrational heights. The sound of my mother’s footsteps finally gave me the needed courage and I reached out to pick the phone and held it gingerly against my ear.

The wheezing breath told me who it was before I even heard the voice. I whispered “hello”

“Osese. I cannot talk long. I had to lie to our camp mistress that my mother is sick and I want to call her before she allowed me make this call o. I sneaked out of camp in the night to do the summoning but I could not complete it before Senior Bola came again and I had to run off. What is she even doing in a Science camp? Is she not an art student? I tire for her o. did they send her to us?”

There was a roaring in my head now. Senior Bola! In Sokoto, Ondo, Port Harcourt the same night. And also in Ibadan where I was. Yes, my own summoning had also been unsuccessful. Senior Bola had turned up, interrupting me and sent me fleeing through the dark night. Running away before she could stop me, I had wondered what she was still doing in school during the holidays. Now, I was afraid I had the answer.

I became aware of Amaka still talking on the phone and I opened my mouth to tell her, to tell her that we had probably succeeded in the summoning right from the very first night. But I never got the chance.

Four of my father’s friends suddenly entered our house and my world changed. My father had been killed and the world as I knew it would never be the same again.

I never had the chance to complete the call with Amaka and I never spoke with any of my friends again. I don’t know if they talked about that night and came to the same discovery I did. I left Nigeria with my family and in the harrowing months that followed, forgot about that night.

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

But today, I remember that night all too clearly. I look down at the paper in my hands and on a sudden impulse, fold it and slip it into my pocket. I look round my old room one more time then walk slowly to the door and exit.
It’s time to return to my husband. We have a flight back home, to Switzerland. But this time, as I close the door to my past, I take with me the sound of childish voices raised in a call to powers they are so ignorant of.

Mother of Darkness, I summon you
Queen of the Night, I call on you
Lady of the Moon, I beseech you
Answer our cries and come to me



39 thoughts on “Mother of Darkness” by Lade (@Lade-A)

  1. Good stuff. Turns out the senior was the spirit they were summoning, right?

    1. Yes, Jay. Thanks for encouraging me to put this up.

  2. Wow..Nice one…Now u’ve got your queen of the night unknown so close by….lovely….

    1. Thanks @treasured1. Wetin dem dey find for Sokoto dey inside their sokoto, lol.

  3. YOu scare me, LAde…a few more stories like this and i’d be scared sane!

    See…i knew Bola had to be the queen of the winches!!!! Me i don’t believe in co-incidence o!!!!

    Nice one. I noticed though…that ‘third and last attempt’ should read…’third and latest attempt’…no?

    1. Scare you sane indeed Seun; that would be a feat.

      I believe the sentence is correct as it is. “Third and last attempt” it really should be because she was reminiscing.

      1. Yeah…but they tried after that…no?

    2. I don’t want you sane o, @Seun, i want to read more about Nurse Mercy, lol.
      Thanks @Abby.

      1. See this woman…so you like me mad?!?!?

        Okay o…remember what happened to the lady and her wig…?

  4. Hmmmm…senior Bola was the mother of the night and she no even ask the pikins wetin dem summon her for? which kind of spirit she be? lol!
    Lade,you are the undisputed queen of thriller!

    1. Lol @Estrella, Snr Bola has bad customer relations spirit (pun intended)
      Queen of Thriller? Hmmn!

  5. OMG this is tight! So senior Bola is the senior winch! But i wonder what she wants to do with the paper again. She still wants to summon the witch again?

    This isreally good stuff, Lade.

    1. Thank you, Uche. She actually collected the paper to put a stop to further summonings.

      1. Oh, really. Now I get it. Thought she was going to use it to find trouble again.

  6. ha ha ha ha!!!!..I should be scared but I am not…what a spirit Senior Bola (Mother of Darkness) turned out to be..Great job Lade..didn’t expect anything less sha.. by the way did you mean ‘hounds of hell’ when you typed ‘hadees of hell’?

    1. Thank you, Mercy. Yes, i meant ‘hounds’, too much Greek mythology made me write ‘hades’, lol.

  7. Oh wow! I’m having mad images about the many possibilities of “Senior Bola”… or not… I like your gift with myteries, Lade.Very very exceptional!

    1. Thank you, Yeti. Please feel free to explore every Snr Bola possibility, mad or not, lol.

  8. Hmmm, ‘Senior Bola’ oh. Mother of Darkness indeed. Nice work Lade.

    Yeti; mind yourself oh.

    1. Abeg, leave Yeti alone o, lol.
      Thanks, Abby. I actually had a wicked senior in school that i tagged Mother of Darkness a.k.a. M.O.D. She inspired this story.

  9. hehehehhehehe,I like that senior Bola,she is amazing?
    All hail NS queen of thriller,senior Lade!!!

    1. Gretty, i’m beginning to fear you o. First you like Jaiye (The Last Supper) nnw you like our Mother of Darkness. Make i run? Lol.
      Thanks, dear.

  10. … hmmm … wonders won’t cease to end on NS … heys guys … sems we have to move to the next level o … COOL BABE!

    1. Thanks @boomingsols. And i agree its time to move to the next level. But – whats the next level again? Lol.

      1. Next level of writing of course … u sure are d queen f thriller o Lade … u inspire me alot. Now, this piece is fantastic, I mean very very nice … I was captivated from the beginning till the end. I just love it. nice work … me likey!

  11. Wicked “queen of the night” Does she have to smack the poor kids?

    1. Chimmy, if she doesn’t smack, how will she manifest the physical aspect of her spiritual powers? Lol.

  12. Hmmmmm
    very nice story.
    i even seem to find senior Bola cool.
    well done my # 1.

    1. Nah, Paul, dark powers so uncool, apart from Angel’s powers of course (of the Angel and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer series) Now, he is really cool.

  13. Lade u did well with this one again, it read well for me and i like, this free bouquet of stories on N.S is getting addictive for me ohhh…

    1. Thank you, Elly. Glad i wrote this up to expectation.
      You are just getting addicted to NS?! I passed obsessed months back.

  14. You tight, you bad… you wicked.

    Nice gripping plot. SPIRITS? I didnt even guess it was Senior Bola until the first girl mentioned she called her.

    You introductory narrative about lost of father, traveling out of the country and back made it all so believable.

    But…………. please i hope say na just story sha? i mean you really no do all this spirit summoning stuff, abeg o

  15. Lol @Leno. Its just a story but i’m happy it was so believable. I tried a few summonings in my younger days a la Charmed and The Teenage witch style (whats her name again?) but [un]fortunately, none ever worked.

  16. @Lade,

    What I liked about this story is that I didn’t immediately recognise that Senior Bola was the spirit; I also liked the depiction of the spirit as a ‘familiar’ senior (rather than an otherworldly creature). I also liked the way that the main character reminisced about her past.

    I’m not so sure about the reference to the slain activist father. The way it was introduced at the beginning, I had thought that this was a significant part of the story – but it looks like it was this was not the case.

    Well done, and thanks.

    1. Thank you, Tola. A comment from you is always valued.
      The preamble about the father was to explain the gap years between the Senior Bola incidence and the present. There had to be a good reason why her discovery of the Queen of the night came to such an abrupt inconclusive end and a sudden flight from home and hearth, while explaining that, had to also have a good reason. Did i overdo it?

      1. @Lade, I agree that the story works if Osese has to leave before finding out more about the Queen of the Night. I just wonder if the leaving has to be so abrupt, or because of such a traumatic event. Maybe the story would have worked if Osese’s father had a posting abroad and it was in her last days in Nigeria that she discovered that she could summon the Queen.

        The problem with introducing such highly dramatic events in a story is that they tend to overshadow the rest of the story to the point where a reader may pay more attention to these events than they deserve. For example, I wondered at one point whether it was Senior Bola who sent the assassins to kill the Osese’s father… :)

        1. @TolaO – Yeah, you are right. I will rewrite it so that Osese will discover the truth about Senior Bola right on the eve of her family’s (plus a very much alive father) planned departure for greener pastures. A time when it will be too late for her to say or do anything abou it.
          That will definitely read much better. Thanks, Tola. I really appreciate your input on this.

  17. What more can i say Lade? Those that are calling you the Queen of thriller on NS sure know what they are saying.I’m loving this one.

  18. wow! although this evoked some laughter at some point, its more chilling at the end, where she finds out that Senior Bola is the witch, and the innocence of the girls is so cute! then the smacking of thier heads is symbolic as well, clearly she was trying to distract them from controlling her, or knowing the truth…very nice…the girls have heart…as yorubas will say…

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