Mr. Johnson was a very superstitious man, though he always denied it in public. Tales such as the one his father in-law had told him always had a way of making him feel uncomfortable. And when there were facts that seemed to corroborate such tales, it further unsettled him. It had been three days now since the encounter with his father in-law. And in-between those days Mr. Johnson had been jittery.
There was every indication that the weird man might be saying the truth. Just as his father in-law had predicted he’d fallen into a heavy sleep in the taxi that day and it took great effort from the driver to wake him up. Catherine never showed up again since that day. And the next morning after the encounter, while bathing Sandra he’d confirmed the mark on her scalp, a replica of the one on Mathew’s head. He’d been shaken by it. At some point he even became scared of his own daughter.
Even as he confirmed all these, he still found it very difficult to believe the idea that his daughter was a cat. How could a human being be a cat let alone his own daughter? It was asinine and impossible? But then again his superstitious mind had gotten a strong hold on him.
That was the reason he sent his daughter to his sister’s house two days ago, and had driven all the way from his house to his father in-law’s place. If someone is trying to kill us it’s best I find out why!
He was seated with his father in-law in his sitting room. The room still looked as it was the last time he visited- as disorganized as the fellow living in it. It still had the impression that the owner was not interested in mundane things. The feeling that something strange might be happening in the background had struck him the first time he stepped into the room. And that was a long time ago. He still had that bizarre feeling now. But he didn’t come here to assess the room neither did he came here to exchange complements. It was better to get it over with and get the hell out of here.
“Make whatever you have to say snappy. I have to get going as soon as possible,” he glared at Mathew who was sipping a glass of whiskey. He’d offered Mr. Johnson a drink earlier but Mr. Johnson declined.
“Look here Fred, you came on your own volition. You can always leave,” Mathew spat out.
“It was you who insisted on saving us from what I don’t know. Maybe you should have left us alone.”
“Believe me I would have, if your wife hadn’t come here and begged me to.”
“My wife is dead old man, so stop defiling her memory,” Mr. Johnson rasped.
Mathew dropped the empty glass on the table rather too hard it banged, and then pointed at Mr. Johnson. “You’re the most ignorant fool I’ve ever seen. No wonder Stephanie married you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“She married you because you rarely ask questions. She married you because she wouldn’t have to divulge her secrets to you.”
“Lies! We married because we love each other.”
Mathew ignored him and poured himself another drink. “Look I don’t have time for argument. Are you going to listen to what I have to say or not?”
Mr. Johnson calmed down and nodded.
“But I must warn you,” Mathew looked murderous now, “no other ear must hear of this. The day you tell someone else about this will be your death.”
Mr. Johnson stared at his father in-law. Why the threat?
“Do you have to threaten me?”
“I only have to warn you and I’m serious. What I’m about to reveal to you is a dangerous information. I’m about to break an oath of secrecy sealed with blood for centuries of which the punishment is death,” he paused. The skin on his forehead creased together, as if in great distress. Mr. Johnson had never seen him look that way. He’d always portrayed a man with strong will and lack of emotions but the man sitting in front of him was weighed down with sorrow. What was he about to hear anyway?
“I’ll probably be dead by the time I finish telling you this, but she is still my granddaughter.” Mathew drawled with his head bowed.
“You are not making any sense at all.”
Mathew looked up at him and said, “your daughter, Sandra belonged to a sisterhood cult called the Sepharius coven.”
“Just shut up and listen!”
Listen to bullshit? Mr. Johnson thought. His own daughter belonging to a cult? Why not tell me that I’m a Lion too! The funniest part of it all was he still wanted to listen to the funny man. He knew he should stand up and leave but something inside held him down. He couldn’t place what it was yet but it was telling him he needed to hear this for Sandra’s sake.
“Like I said Sandra is a member of the Sepharius coven,” Mathew continued. “The coven is believed to have been in existence for centuries in Nigeria and have numerous members scattered all over the country. I don’t know why it was formed but I do know it was for good intentions. Each member is known as a Seph and they live their lives in two forms- as a human during the day and as a cat, known as the Sephilim state during the night. During the Sephilim state, usually between midnight and 4am in the morning, they operate in the spiritual realm. At that time they can do almost anything except giving life. But in the daytime they are just harmless humans. Every member has what they call a Portal on their scalp. The Portal is a gateway for crossing from one realm to the other. And they never die. They simply stop existing as humans and exist only as cats. After 10 years of their transition they are no longer allowed to roam the earth and as such stripped of their powers and barricaded in the pits. Every first female child of a member automatically becomes one of them.”
“Hmmm!” Mr. Johnson exhaled in doubt. “That’s a very nice story you got there. So… what do all these translate to? What are you insinuating exactly?” Mr. Johnson asked half amused.
“That your wife was a member and as such your daughter automatically became a member too.”
“My daughter is not a member of anything neither was my wife.” Mr Johnson stood up. “I came here because I was scared into believing you. Now I know all these tales is just a ruse to lure me to your house, probably because you’ve started feeling lonely. And you’ve succeeded. Now I can leave.”
“Another thing about them is that they don’t sweat. No matter how hot the weather is they just don’t sweat,” Mathew continued, ignoring Mr. Johnson’s anger.
The last statement struck home and immobilized him for a second. Mr. Johnson remembered he’d never seen his wife sweat before, not even during sex. He’d asked and she had told him it was hereditary, that it was nothing to worry about. He hadn’t paid much attention to his kid to know if she sweated or not. Maybe it was hereditary after all and had nothing to do with these stories?
“So anybody that doesn’t sweat is a cultist, great!”
“Has Sandra ever told you she saw a cat at night before?”
“She did… two actually.” Mr. Johnson said slowly and sat down, his mind racing back to that night.
“That was because she’s still at the dormant stage. She can only see her fellow members. Their powers fully begin to manifest at the age of 30. And the mark on Sandra’s head confirms she is one of them too.”
Now that Mathew mentioned the mark, Mr. Johnson thought he might be lying after all. His eyes narrowed. If he’d heard correctly, Mathew had said it was a sisterhood cult then how come the mark was on his head?
“You said the coven is a sisterhood thing. That means only females are involved right?” Mr. Johnson baited.
“How come you have the mark on your head?”
“Because I’m a Seph.”
“A member. Haven’t you been listening to what I’ve been saying all these while?”
Mr. Johnson was confused now. “I’m trying but it’s not making any sense at all. I thought you said it’s exclusively for females only.”
“That’s right.” Mathew removed his cap and placed it on the seat. “I’m more of an outcast- an unwanted member.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Their constitution requires that in an occasion where a member didn’t have a female child, she should pass it on to the last male child. That male child in turn passes it to his first female child if he had any, if not it continues that way until a female child is born. But that male child will be accorded a limited status in the coven; he is not allowed in their midst and won’t be granted access to any information concerning their activities.” Mathew paused then continued, “My mother was a member and I was the only child, so I inherited the curse.” Mr. Johnson could detect anger in his words now. “I was so infuriated when I found out what I am and hated my mother for that. The status I was given there was even more depressing. I’m just treated like a leper. I don’t participate in their meetings. I don’t sleep. It was pure torture for me. I wanted to end the tradition- that was why I never got married. But one thing led to the other I sired Stephanie-your wife. I almost killed her the day I found out. In fact I came very close to doing that but I just couldn’t. She is my daughter and no matter what I couldn’t kill my own daughter. When she grew up I had her promise me she will never marry. That was why I was so mad the day she brought you to my house as a prospective husband. I didn’t want any other blood of mine to carry this curse.”
There was silence after the emotional display. Mr. Johnson was now completely soaked into the conversation. He was beginning to arrange his wife’s family jigsaw puzzle together. It pained him to know that he had to really know his wife when she was dead than when she was alive. How disappointing?
After few seconds of silence Mr. Johnson glumly asked, “Why is Sandra’s life under threat?”
Mathew gulped down his drink and continued, “one thing you should know is that, not all good intentions eventually come out good. Somehow greed must interfere. The Sepharius coven is ruled by an entity known as the Madea- usually referred to as the Queen mother…”
Copyright © 666BC-3666AD by Nwaokafor Ablyguy.