Horror has a funny way of jolting one even out of the most oblivious circumstances. Pastor Bart was staring blankly at the ceiling in the hospital ward, barely moving, and making the best use he could of the one eye the paralysis had left him with. Though he could hardly feel anything, the cold of the man’s hand touched his dead side, and he turned slightly and instinctively to the source. He wished he could have a heart attack, but somehow he just couldn’t.
What touched him was a large hand, shrivelled and wrinkled like an old woman’s. The end of the hand had strong claws that could make an eagle jealous, at least four inches long. As the shape progressed towards the man’s shoulders, it turned first into thick, dark veiny hands and elbows, and then the most powerful biceps he had ever seen in his entire life. The head which stood on the square shoulders was football-round, and coal black. He looked like one preparing for an important wrestling bout, just coming from the gym, for his more than 100-stone frame resonated fully of muscle and ligament, threatening the tight tee shirt he had on with every heave of his massive chest .Pastor Bart’s weak and startled eyes travelled from his hands up the entire seven feet, to reach his face. He knew he could not call for help; it was useless trying.
What looked like a smile played on his graphite lips, and the contrast between the super-white teeth and the dark background proved even more frightening than the unnatural dental formula he displayed. It vanished as soon as it came, and his eyes suddenly turned bloody with anger.
‘So how far did you think you could go, preaching in that manner? What you have seen is only a tip of the iceberg… you think you have heavenly back-up, right? If you ever come out of this, you will know better than to trespass into a territory you know not, and do your work like your fellows. As for that Jane…..’
All the while he was talking, he had his back to Pastor Bart. Suddenly, he turned to face him, and his face had taken a much more human look. He transformed into a penitent mood, tears streaming southward. He looked like he was going to apologise or something. His mouth opened. Suddenly, he would not. He could not.
He was no more.
That same day, Sister Jane was standing and waiting expectantly in the cozy lobby of The Chief’s sitting room. Whatever she got today, she would thank him as her fate. As she clicked her fingers and they snapped in nervousness, her mind went back to the episode with Pastor Bart. Oh, how so in trouble she was!
As if fate seemed to agree, the snap of finger which summoned her to The Chief’s presence sounded. She looked up, and followed the guard.
The Chief was calm and collected as ever. His stockiness, in contrast to the build of the two henchmen who flanked him was enough to make one quake with laughter, those days when things were better and sounder between them, but she knew she dare not. She could as well do it and die, for she knew only fate could help her today. How she hated this man!
He removed his dark criminal shades, and inched close to her.
‘You told me you would deliver’, his words were a soothe, even in her terrified mood.
‘I don’t know how it happened sir, I almost had him. Please give me one more chance, I will succumb to any punishment you mete to me. Just this once, please………’
Like a practised table tennis player intent on breaking a world record, the back of his hand whipped across her face in a reflex which surprised Jane herself. She fell to the dictate of the hand, and two teeth clattered on the tiled floor. She did not care about the blood much.
‘Me, trust you again? Listen, Jahili, this is the third time you have failed me on crucial assignments like this. I do not know why you are still breathing, in the first place. But something in me does not want to kill you. I feel you could still be useful.’ He gave a knowing look to Pillar, and he rushed deep into the building. The Chief strolled leisurely out, and away.
Jane looked up. This was too easy. She peeped through the window, saw nothing and no one. She took the back door, and stepped out into the cool afternoon air.
She had not taken up to ten escape steps when five mean thugs materialized from nowhere. They got to her, and in seconds she was on two strong shoulders. In the next five minutes, she was thrown into a large hall, naked as she was born. Two of the thugs left , while three held her down.
On remote control, a gate slid upwards slowly to let out two giant American terriers. One of the guards brought out a whitish substance, and poured it into their water. They lapped up the liquid hungrily, and stared on with charged eyes. They started panting, tongues sticking out and dripping.
After talking slowly to them, Jane watched in horror as both his hands went in between the dogs’ legs, grabbing their scrotal sacks. He fumbled with it for some seconds, and stood back to enjoy the show. Jane was forced to crouch on all fours to back them. They raced towards her.
Like two Ferraris jostling for the finish line, each intent on making it first at whatever cost, the darker one edged out his opponent, pushing him far from the target. Not willing to accept defeat, he bounded towards his mate, and a bloody fight ensued. The barks could match a lion’s growls, as they fought for supremacy.
Jane saw her cue, and took it.
There was a pistol strapped to the guard’s thighs, which she snapped up. She shot two of the guards in one quick effort, but was too late for the third. His bullet caught her in the midriff, and like a burst pipe, the whole hall was covered in blood in seconds. She however managed to squeeze the trigger at the guard who mistook her for dead. It got him point-blank on the forehead.
Even the dogs were surprised, all libido ebbed down. The aggression stopped immediately, and they strolled resignedly to their cages, tweaking their waists.
Life all of a sudden, began, slowly but surely, to seep into Pastor Bart’s system, in a manner which awed even him. His nerves and brain suddenly looked at each other, and wondered why there was such hateful malice. Looking deep and realizing there was absolutely no cause for their three-day feud, they held out olive branches, sued for peace, and got it. His spinal cord equally appended its signature on the truce they had signed, and in an hour, Pastor Bart could sit upright!
He tore off the patients’ hospital gown, and groped for his Bible. His loud voice of supplication attracted his wife who rushed in to join him in the cry-prayer of thanksgiving. As if it was pre-planned, more than 30 church members were on hand already, on their routine visit. The heavens swam and revelled in their praise that afternoon.
Two days later, he was ready to be discharged, and the faithful Tundra would have voiced out its emotions, had it the power. It had missed him sorely, and was only too glad to accommodate him. Insisting he must drive himself, Pastor Bart gunned the truck for the first time since his recovery. His wife joined him, and so did three close brothers in the church.
As he sped along, he looked lovingly at his wife. ‘I really thank God’, he said. ‘And you too, for being by me.’ She smiled shamefacedly.
‘Please dial Ossy’s number. I need to hear her sweet voice.’
At that instant, his wife’s phone rang. She picked, and listened intently for five minutes. Her face beamed the minute the call ended, and he enquired why.
‘The EFCC. They have been profuse with apology, and have been trying your phone since yesterday, so they got to me. The charges have been dropped, and they are willing to pay damages for the inconveniences.’
‘Praise God. Thank you, Lord. Please call Ossy for me, will you? I am dying to hear from her. Does she know about my condition?’
Mrs. Ndichie turned tear-eyed.
The next day, having returned from paying his respects on his daughter’s graveside, he got home to meet the delivery man waiting for him. The letter he got did not surprise him. It was a detailed explanation and apology from Sister Jane, putting the jigsaw pieces of his mystery calamity of the past one week together, and explaining how Lucifer had in person, enlisted her to destroy him. She further asked him to hold fast to his faith, and begged for forgiveness, if he ever received the letter.
Thank you people!
Ogbonna Nnaemeka Henry.