IBADAN, NIGERIA, 1999.
The children were gathered around a small square wooden table located at the center of the room. The room was poorly lit; the only source of the light was a lit candle placed in the middle of the only other table in the room. The flickering light from the candle cast a muted glow on the face of each occupant of the room. There were four of them; three boys and a girl, and their ages varied from sixteen to nineteen. The first boy had a mole on the right side his lips likewise the girl sitting next to him. The similarities in the outline of their faces betrayed the fact that they were siblings. The second boy had a thin scabbed lesion running from the right side of his eye to his right side of his mouth. The third boy stood out for he was the best looking amongst the three boys. It was very obvious that the group had just finished a meal; the plastic plates and spoons arranged before each person were empty, and the smell of food prepared from various African spices permeated the room.
“Akin, your mother cooks a mean pot of Egusi Soup,” said the boy with the mole. He was slouching in his chair, rubbing his stomach in a circular motion, and was sporting a look of utter satisfaction on his face.
“She does, she does,” Akin replied, picking at the wound on his face.
“Akin, that’s disgusting,” said the girl.
“What is?” asked Akin, quickly dropping his hands on the table.
“Stop picking at your wound. I want my dinner to stay down, please.” The girl replied.
“It’s not my fault that I can’t keep my hands of it. You don’t know how hard it is to wake up every morning with this thing on my face.” He pointed at his wound angrily. “Worst of all, mother says it’s going to form a scar.”
“Akin, there’s no need for all this long talk. Your wound will heal. It’s as simple as that,” commented the good looking boy.
“David, it’s easy for you to say. You don’t hear the names they call me at school. Everyone at school considers you the perfect boy. To them, you’re good looking, handsome and intelligent. You clearly have no flaws,” said Akin, sounding miffed.
“Please,” interrupted the girl, rolling her eyes upward. “David is human. He has flaws just like everyone. It’s just not out in the open for everyone to see.”
“Well, if he does have, I want to see them because I keep wondering the same thing too. A girl I fancy at school is pestering me for an introduction to David. ” Said the Boy with the mole
“Fine,” let out David, clearly exasperated. “I have a mark on the left side of my chest.”
The girl hissed, “Please, I hope it’s not a birth mark because almost everyone has one of those.”
“No, it’s not,” said David, “I’ve never shown it to anyone. My parents are the only ones who know about it.”
“Is that why you never take your singlet off during football practice?” asked the boy with the mole
“Sort of,” replied David, shrugging indifferently.
“That’s so vain,” remarked the girl.
“I don’t believe him. I want to see It.” said Akin, with all seriousness. All eyes turned on him.
“Akin, drop it. It’s not that serious an issue. If he says he has a mark, then he has a mark,” said the girl.
“He’s clearly joking,” said David, laughing nervously.
“I want to see it.” Akin persisted. They all turned to David.
“He’s not joking, David,” said the boy with the mole “also, you’ve piqued my interest. I’d like to see it too.”
“Tunde, mind your business. Besides, my parents said I should never show anyone,” said David, looking away from the group.
“That’s a lie. A big fat one!” said the girl. She placed her hands on David’s shoulder. “Will you show us if we agree not to tell anyone?”
“NO!” shouted David, pounding his fist on the table. The tabled and the plates atop it rattled and the candle flame went dim for a second, almost going off.
“Calm down,” said Tunde, gesturing a calming motion with his hands. “We’re not forcing you to show us. Please, we just finished a nice meal. Let’s all go back to our jolly mood.”
“I totally agree with you.” said the girl.
“Lola, I can see you’re the only one with a matching opinion,” said Tunde, as he examined the faces of the other two; they both had similar expressions of anger on their faces.
“I still say he’s lying,” said Akin as he stood up. “Anyway, I’m going to bed. Wake me up when the power returns or when my parents come back.”
“Akin, what’s your problem?” asked Lola, anger creeping into her voice “You’re making David, Tunde, and I regret coming to your house. We all know you have a problem with David’s popularity at school. I mean, you’re sulking like a little baby because of some stupid mark. That’s going too far.”
An expression of rage flashed across Akin’s face. It disappeared as quickly as it came. “Whatever, I’m going to bed.” He walked slowly to the doorway, paused, turned around, and made his way to David’s side.
“What now?” asked David, looking up from his seat at Akin.
“I changed my mind,” replied Akin.
“Well, I haven’t changed mine. I’m still not showing you.”
“I don’t need your permission to see it.” Akin replied. With that, he grabbed two handfuls of David’s singlet, shredding it in two pieces. David quickly reacted by smashing his fist into Akin’s face causing him to let go of the shirt, grasping his face in pain. It all happened so fast that the others had no time to react. They were rooted to their seats, watching the scene unfolding before them intently.
“Are you crazy?” shouted David, as he held the tattered pieces of his singlet together over his chest. “What has gotten into you this even–?” he broke off, his fingers reached for his neck, searching frantically for something that was clearly not there.
“My Necklace!” he cried.
Akin glanced down at his hands and noticed he was holding a necklace. The chain was made of gold and the pendant was a small tiny glass tube-like vial with red liquid floating in it.
Akin smiled crudely, blooding dripping from the open wound on his face. “My face for your necklace.” he threw the necklace on the floor and stepped on it. The tube shattered into a million pieces spilling its red contents on the floor.
“NO!!!” shrieked David hysterically, falling to the floor, and crawling to the spot where the pieces of the vial lay scattered.
“Akin, that wasn’t nice.” Tunde chided.
“Yeah, it wasn’t,” Lola agreed.
“It’s just a Necklace. His mother is rich. She can afford another one,” said Akin.
“It’s not an ordinary necklace,” said David, morosely as he fingered the pieces of shattered glass.
“What’s it, then?” asked Akin.
“It’s a protection charm. My father made it for me before he died”
Suddenly, the room went into darkness. “Who put out the light?” David asked. The question came out as a bark.
“Calm down, David. It’s the wind.” said Lola’s voice. “I need to find the match box. God, I hate the power cuts in this country.”
“Yeah,” Tunde put in “And Akin’s generator is suffering from an unknown disease.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the generator. We simply ran out of diesel.” Akin said. “And what’s wrong with this weather?” he asked. “One minute it’s hot and the next, it’s cold.”
“Lola, where’s the matchbox?” asked David.
“Be patient! I’m searching for it. One would think you’re scared of the dark,” Lola replied.
A Gust of wind blew into the room, beating at the windows and the curtains in the small dining room and causing the door to slam shut.
“it-s-s re-al-l-y co-co-co-cold,” said Tunde, his teeth chattering.
Suddenly, there was a loud grating noise; like metal scraping against the hard granite floor.
“What’s that noise?” asked Lola in a quavering voice, her hands pausing in her search.
“Akin, is that you? Cut it out, it’s not funny.”
The noise switched to a thudding sound. Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump! It went.
“It’s not me, Lola. I can hear it too.” akin replied, his voice betraying the fact that he was spooked
“David, stop it then.”
“It’s not me.” David replied hoarsely.
“Tunde?” Lola called. There was no answer.
“It’s not him either.” a strange voice answered. Then the noise stopped.
“Akin!” said Lola, harshly; her hands were trembling in the darkness. “Stop that. What’s wrong with your voice?”
“Lola, I swear, that wasn’t me.” Akin whispered. All of a Sudden, David let out a loud grunt, accompanied by two other grunts that sounded suspiciously like choking sounds.
“Tunde?” called out Lola. There was no reply. “Akin? David?” No reply. A strange silence descended on the room: The kind of silence that preceded the approach of something evil in movies.
“Where’s that stupid matchbox?” asked Lola, her fear translating into full body tremors. She reached out once more to search for the matchbox. Her right hand landed on something warm. She felt around the object. It felt like a small stick. That’s odd, she thought to herself. The match stick wasn’t supposed to be this fat and warm. She grabbed the object, and then the candle came on at once.
“Oh Goddddddddddddddd!” she screamed. She was staring into the face of her dead brother, and was holding a piece of his finger. His throat had been slit, the neck lolled to the right side. She turned to find Akin and David on the floor, both had their throat slit too and the devil himself was standing next to the body of David. The man’s eyes shone a bright and brilliant white; they had no pupils or iris. His all black outfit blended perfectly with the poorly lit room. He held a long silver sword with blood dripping from its tip. The sword had a metal handle carved with intricate designs of green and black.
“W-w-w-what are y-y-you?” asked Lola, her body shaking uncontrollably.
“I’m a hunter,” the man replied, in a disembodied tone “He wasn’t supposed to live. He was marked.” He was pointing down at David’s chest with the long sword.
Lola glanced down at David’s bare chest. He was truly marked. There was a large scar shaped like an O on the left side of his chest. It looked like a hot branding iron had been used to carve the scar in to his skin
“w-w-why Tun-n-n-de, A-a-akin?” she asked, tears streaming down her face.
“No witnesses.” With that, he moved. In a blur of motion, he appeared in front of Lola, raised his sword and slashed her throat. “You included.”