MOVIE REVIEW: SING STREET

MOVIE REVIEW-SING STREET

 

It’s been  while since I did this, so forgive the rustiness you may encounter.

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2016 has been a year filled with movies, gems and busts alike. In fact, if you are an avid cinema-goer, you must be feeling like a kid in a candy store. I mean, everywhere you look, you see a poster about a movie,or a poster ABOUT a poster about a movie. 2016 has given us some great movies and TV shows, which have spawned some pretty ridiculous debates (like that surrounding Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: both are great movies;ENJOY THEM!) and given us new talents. In fact, the studios have so inundated our senses with ads for these movies that sometimes, we miss the release of a few, special gems.

Gems, like SING STREET.

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Written, produced and directed by John Carney, Sing Street is about a boy (Conor) who impulsively decides to form a band in order to impress a girl he sees opposite his new school. That is the nucleus of the movie; what grows out of this nucleus is something quietly spectacular. Set in 1980s Dublin, it is more than the coming-of-age movie it is somewhat touted to be. We follow this group of teenagers (almost) every step of the way as they discover the music within themselves and share it with not just Raphina, but potentially the world. This movie is a metaphor, in more ways than one.

I’ll try not to include too many spoilers in here, but Sing Street takes you on a journey, and we see the world through the eyes of Conor/Cosmo played by Irish singer/actor Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and the other cast members. Raphina, the inspiration for the band, is a girl playing at being a woman, dreaming of leaving her present behind and becoming a model. Conor is a kid who sees his interest and his latent abilities come together, pushing him to be more even as he tries to navigate the budding minefield that is his home. Brendan is the older brother who sees an actualization of his own dreams in his younger brother, so he tries to live vicariously through him by giving the best parts of himself for his brother (we see a part of this when he tells Conor that his band can’t be a ‘covers band’ because  every covers band “has a middle-aged member who’ll never know whether they could’ve made it in the music industry or not because thy never had the balls to write a song for someone else”) . Eamon is the musical swiss-knife, that one guy in the band who works more than anyone and doesn’t really care about the limelight, just happy to be doing what he is doing.

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I’m not much of a drama/musical kind of guy, but one of my all-time favourite movies is August Rush, because of its clever use of music. Also, this movie reminds me of the 90s Jack Black classic, School Of Rock.

Sing Street equals that, if not trumping it. I said earlier that this movie was a metaphor in more ways than one. It is seen in different places:

  • Raphina, home and listening to Sing Street’s song “Up” as she strips away the years from her face, becoming who she really is in her private moment,
  • Darren expecting Ngig to be able to play something cos he’s Black. That’s like expecting someone to be different because they’re, well, different in some way
  • Conor, a boy with dreams. These dreams are the fuel for his music, and it all comes together in one perfect, glorious moment of clarity where he’s shooting the video for “Drive It Like You Stole It”, where Raphina appeas for the video shoot, where his Dad (played by Aiden Gillen) is dancing like the most proud father in the history of fathers, out-dancing and out-jumping just about everyone as he dances with Conor’s Mum, even sharing a kiss with her as they are evidently back together, and where Brendan comes to save Raphina from the clutches of her older boyfriend, where the school bully, Barry, is dancing with his father, etc.

The movie is chock-full of metaphors hidden in plain sight man, and I love this movie for that.

With lots of actual, original songs performed by the band in the movie, including my favourites “Up” and “Drive It Like You Stole It”, you will move and groove to this movie, unless you are not a fan of 80s Rock (like me) in which case you’ll just nod your head and click your fingers. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this movie. Because at the end of the day, we all want to be part of something (I see you Barry), and if we all work together, we just may achieve our hopes and dreams, and maybe gain new ones along the way. And life, like Rock Music, is a risk worth taking.

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Sing Street is one of the Best movies you will watch this year, and probably the best feel-good movie to be made in a very, very long time. Do yourself a favour. Go see it.

And here is Adam Levine with one of the soundtracks, a beautiful song about seizing your dreams. Go now, before it’s too late…

Go Now by Adam Levine

 

 

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ROSEWATER By TADE THOMPSON: A REVIEW

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So is it courage or strength,
And is that what I’m waiting for…

I once said Rosewater would make me wax lyrical. I was right.
These are not my lyrics though. Ha!

So, where do I start with Rosewater? I will start from the beginning, and do the best I can without revealing too much. I hope I can do that.

Rosewater is not just a story about Kaaro, the main character in the story, as it is a story about the town of Rosewater and the terrible secret it disguises within its bosom. Set in the future of 2066, the story easily traverses time, and space, and imagines a world where anything is possible and the aliens are among us, and are us.

Kaaro is a Sensitive (Quantum Extrapolator, but hey, enough with the big words, alright?). Actually what we would term psychic, a sensitive is a human consequence of aliens dwelling among us. With their connection to the Xenospehere (which is the atmosphere contaminated by alien micro-organisms) sensitives have access to not just the space/time continuum but also into the minds of others among other things, depending on your level of knowledge at manipulating it. And Kaaro is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful of his kind. Which makes him a target, not just of his government (whom he works for), but of the aliens. When he uses his powers, we see why.

Rosewater is home to Kaaro, and to Utopicity. Rosewater is another direct consequence of the alien invasion. It is a town that has organically grown around the alien city. It is a part of Utopicity as much as Utopicity is a part of Rosewater, maybe even more so. Closed to outsiders, Utopicity opens once a year to give healing to the pilgrims who make their way to the city, usually waking the dead in the process, or sometimes giving more than healing. And usually not in a good way. The people worship it as a god, while the scientists try all they can to appropriate it. Unknown to them all, Utopicity carries a terrifying secret that will change the world, one person at a time. And maybe remake it entirely.

Oyin Da…. The Bicycle Girl… Oyin Da is a genius wanted by the Government because she is seen as a threat. A young, free-spirited thinker, she first appears in a previous story, The Bicycle Girl, by the same author, is maybe the first person to crack open the Space/Time barrier, disappearing into it with her whole town. Now she is an enigma to the government. And when she encounters Kaaro, their journey will take them both to the edge of possibility and a choice.

Femi Alaagomeji is Kaaro’s handler within Section 45, or S45. Beautiful, brilliant and manipulative, she cares about getting the job done, but beneath her cool exterior, she looks out for Kaaro the best she can, for as long as she can.

I will let you discover these and other characters by yourself.

One of the greatest challenges in writing sci-fi has to be creating the world for your characters to live and act in. In some cases, the story feels like watching a movie with bad special effects. In Rosewater, Tade Thompson more than succeeds. Narrated by Kaaro, we are plunged into a world at once familiar and alien to us. We know the city. We have eschewed our mobile phones for implants. We live in smart homes for the most part, and we still have our ghettos. And when we meet Wormwood, we know he/it/them. We are he/it/them.

Rosewater is a very smart story, and it portrays its intelligence without being condescending. It is not a linear story; far from it. It is story which starts at a point in time, and then radiates into different places/times/possibilities. We see Kaaro as a child. We see Kaaro as a thieving teen. We see him scared. We see him as a government agent. We see him as an avenging angel. We see him as a coward. We see him as a stubborn man. We see him as all these things, and so much more. And as Kaaro takes a hold of our hands, hearts and minds and leads us through space and time rife with endlessness and the ghosts of decisions past, lyrics from the song ‘I Never Got To See The West Coast’ by EMERY comes to mind:

So is it courage or strength,
And is that what I’m waiting for?
If I could just kill myself,
Would it also kill the remorse?
I wanted so badly to catch a break,
But I’m only breaking down.
I’m still here and standing
But if it’s up to me
I don’t think I’ll be hanging around

Unfortunately though, it’s not up to me. It’s not up to us. Not at all. The choice was ripped from our hands and our hearts when Wormwood came and made a home on our Earth. And so as Kaaro says, for the end, we will all be present.
For this we will all have front row seats.

The drink slips down my throat
And the burn cures nice and slow
All the worst parts I wouldn’t want you to see
The only parts left of me
Now, here I am
Just a kid without a better plan.
But it’s the simple thoughts that haunt me the most.
I never got to see the west coast.

 

Rosewater was written by Tade Thompson and is published by Apex Publications and is slated for release November 15, 2016. Get it. Read it. You will not be disappointed.

No, you won’t.

Finally, TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE is live!

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“Mum! Mummy!” Sandra ran up the stairs, the sound of her size 4 feet as loud as automatic gunfire, echoing off the walls of the house. She was alone with her mother for the day; her father was still at work, and her elder brother was away in boarding school. Her mother had given the nanny the week off so she could spend the week with her only daughter.

Mrs Ikechi smiled as she brushed her hair in front of the mirror in the master bedroom. Sunlight streamed in through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking their backyard; it looked more like a mini-park than a backyard, to be honest. Done entirely in white, with the electronics’ black and the minimal chrome on the furniture, the room was her own personal heaven. She loved to sit and watch the sunrise here; the architecture had been deliberate. This was her inner sanctum, even more than the park or the pool.

Sandra burst into her room, eyes wide, buzzing with barely contained excitement.

“Yes Sandy, what is it?” she asked, turning to face her daughter on her stool.

“He’s here!” She blurted out, running and jumping on her mother’s lap, eliciting a delighted “ooh!” from her. “He’s finally here!”

“Who?” Mrs Ikechi asked, kissing her daughter’s forehead.

“The Storyman! I heard his truck outside the gate! You know the one, with the…the…jingle! It sounds a little bit like that Jingle Bell rhyme you taught me!”

“The Storyman? Was he not supposed to come last week?”

“Yes he was, but he didn’t and now he’s here. You have to take me to meet him Mummy. You told me he has a story for everybody, even me. I want my story Mummy please…”

One look at her daughter’s pleading face and she laughed out loud. “Alright,” she said. “Let’s go. Who knows, I might even find something for myself…”

And like Sarah, I am running to meet the Storyman because he is finally here. And by the Storyman I mean Tales From The Other Side, so it’s more like Storymen. And Women. Storypeople, if you will. I won’t bore you with the details; just go to the link below and download your own copy, free of charge. And take your friends with you, cos like the Storyman promised, there is something for everybody…

Download here: http://www.tftos-thebook.com
Spread the news. Tell all your friends. There’s enough for everyone.
Let me know what you think of each story in the comments section (you can’t miss mine). Thank you!

Raymond Elenwoke.
October 12, 2015.
Port Harcourt.

Tales From The Other Side

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So what happens when you bring together a bunch of writers, each brilliant, unique and crazy and leave them to their wits?
Chaos ensues.
Chaos, and Tales From The Other Side.

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Tales From The Other Side is like…wine. Not old, it definitely not old. It is new, bold, and different.
Wait, am I advertising wines here?
Ok.
TFTOS is the brainchild of a group of writers who decided to quit waiting for something to happen, and MAKE something happen. With 16 different stories, there is something for everybody, whether your thing is everyday life and drama, or political ripples…or like me, you love things that go bump in the night and make you look over your shoulder during the day, hoping to God that the guy you just saw at the junction two stops ago is not the same one you just saw behind you, coming out of a taxi, so you begin to walk just a little faster while you wait for a chance to cross the road to the other side…
Ok. So tomorrow, the dedicated website for TFTOS will be up, and then, you can download away!
So save the date.
3rd October, 2015. 6pm.
Then, the chaos begins.

DOORWAYS AND PORTALS

DOORWAYS AND PORTALS

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, it is my honour to welcome onstage your host for the show. He’s been all over the world, and now, he’s back home for this gig. Recognized for his work in Italy, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and Nigeria, please welcome, Mr Raymond Elenwoke.

*Standing Ovation*

 

If I hear.

Good afternoon, everyone, this is your host, Raymond Elenwoke. How have you all been? Hope dandy? Have you made money lately? What, they haven’t paid you? Well, just because you haven’t been paid doesn’t mean you haven’t made money. Wait for Payday.

I hope you enjoyed the last story. If you haven’t read it, do so right now. Check out the last blog post.

Today, I want to share something I hold dear; the very first short story I ever wrote. I was going to start a project of mine here, but I will hold off on that for now. Soon, though.

Soon.

Anyway, I want to share this little, very imperfect story here. I don’t remember publishing it anywhere. The very first story I know I had published online, about 5 years ago I think, was CHECKPOINT. But that was not the first.

No.

In the beginning were these words, and these words made this tale.

But first…

I have been endlessly fascinated with doors and portals. Doors are symbolic in every way, in every aspect of life. A story is a door in much the same way as a door is a story. When you open a door, what do you see? Do you see the same room you left a while ago, or do you see a whole new world? Has anything changed? Is there a door beyond this one? Is there a line that shows you the way from the doorway, a line that pulsates with a light alien to this world and different from anything you’ve ever seen, or are you left alone to navigate your way through the mist with nothing but your senses to guide you? Does a monster hide behind the door? Is there a clawed hand just behind you as you search for the next door in the mist? Do you feel the cold touch of a ghost’s kiss on your neck? What moves just beyond your peripheral vision?

What madness awaits you beyond the door?

Honestly, I have no idea. However I believe that everyone will find what he or she is meant to find beyond the door he or she opens. More or less.

As for this door, I opened it, and found this. What you make of it, is up to you. One thing I will tell you though?

Watch out for those old, weather-beaten doors. If there is a crow anywhere near it, for the sake of your life, and your sanity, please do not open the door.

And if you do, never, ever step into the room. Not without a guide.


The Door

1

“Guy, are you crazy? Do you really know what you are saying here?” Fred asked.

“Look,” Solo said, “I’m telling you nothing but the gospel truth-”

“Yeah, some truth.”

“-and I know it’s hard to believe. But trust me Fred. Believe me.”

“But,” Fred said, obviously confused, shaking his head in disbelief, “do you realize what you are telling me? Boy, you are a shoo-in for the nut-house.”

“Fred,” Solo said, chuckling, eyes bright, watching his friend.

“Did you sleep well? Lemme see…” Fred placed the back of his hand on Solo’s neck then made a show of being burned, withdrawing his hand quickly. “Ouch! Boy, you need a doctor. Really.”

Somehow, this wiped the smile off Solo’s face, and he let his shoulders slump as he exhaled. “Okay, I know it’s downright impossible to understand. I don’t blame you man. It was like that with me, until… Anyway, enough of this, let’s go and have our bath. Time don go.”

Solo picked up his empty bucket containing his bathroom accessories, slung his towel across his shoulder, and stood up. His sombre expression pricked Fred.

He really is serious about this shit, he thought. Okay, just humour him. After all, this is Nigeria. Anything can happen.

Still disbelieving, Fred stood and went after his friend who was almost the door of their room. He clamped his hand on Solo’s shoulder. As Solo turned, the haunted look in his eyes shocked him.

Is this real?

“Look, Solo, is this a joke?”

With a stonily steady gaze, Solo replied, “Do I look like I’m joking?”

Exhaling, Fred let his gaze drop. “Guess not.”

“Look-” Solo began, “You don’t have to-”

“No, no no no,” Fred said, cutting him off as he shook his head. “It’s okay. I think I have to go and check this out with you. Let me see this. I have to, I guess.”

This softened Solo’s expression. “Thank you. I appreciate this, a lot.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Fred said, lifting his head, eyes bright. “If na scam-”

“Don’t worry, no be scam.”

“Okay, let’s go.” Taking his own bucket and stuff, he followed Solo. The door closed behind them; the gateway to their sanctuary.

2

“It’s that one there, right?” Fred asked, pointing.

“Uh huh.” They set their buckets of water down on the floor.

“Ok, let’s go.”

“Go where?” Solo asked, incredulous.

“Ah ah?! There of course. I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided to check it out now, see what happens.”

Solo, through all this, had been looking at Fred with his eyes wide. Then he gave a small laugh. “Boy o, you sure say you well?”

Fred, his face clouding up, said, “I’m not joking.” And he meant it.

Solo, seeing that Fred would still go there with or without him, consented. “Okay. We’ll go, but we no go spend time there. We no go enter inside there, at least not now.”

“No stress.” Some of their friends that came to have their bath, and they exchanged greetings. Then, Fred said, “Let’s go.”

They made their way through the mini-crowd in the bathroom; boys gisting, side-stepping small puddles on the floor, weaving around the boys, muttering ‘excuse me’ to those they couldn’t go around.

At last, they stood before the cause of their morning anxiety.

The bathroom.

It was the last stall in the line of bath-stalls. It looked old and decrepit, dry; to Fred it seemed like a withered old man experiencing harsh times. And yet, it seemed wet at the same time; somehow filled with life. How that was possible, Fred couldn’t say.

Hmmm.

“Exactly how does this work again?” Fred asked Solo over his shoulder.

“Umm… Well, you step inside and close the door, then you think of a place you want to be, just about anywhere. You have to think real hard, at least let it be foremost on your mind. Then, all you have to do is close your eyes, and you’ll be wherever you want to be.”

“Huh?” Fred said, eyebrows up, eyes glinting mischievously, as he turned to look at Solo. Around them, some boys were looking at them, though with apparent lack of interest, and they soon went back to their bathing. “Why should I close my eyes? Abi you don dey scam me again? E no dey hard you, you know.”

“Ah aah?! Haba. Don’t you trust me again?”

“I know for you?” Fred said, as he turned his attention to the door once more. At the base, some mushrooms sprouted, fighting for space with the green algae, and it seemed to be winning, as the algae were drying and falling off.

He pushed the door, and it swung inwards with a long creaking sound.

The door was an appropriate advert for the inside of the bathroom. The floor was nothing but broken chunks of cement and broken tiles and sand. Here and there, grass sprouted from the sand.

No wonder no one bathes here anymore. And this place took Solo to those nightclubs?

Quite dandy eh?.

Fred looked at the tiled walls, or what was left of them; most of the tiles had joined the chunks of cement on the floor.

Boy, I need a cool bottle of beer right now. The thought just popped up in Fred’s mind.  I need it in a hotel bar, and after that, I’ll need a glass of champagne.

At that moment, he heard a sound from above him; a cawing sound. Fred looked up, and saw the rafters, with a crow perched atop one of the rafters. The bird turned and fixed its beady, black, one-eyed stare on him. He felt an involuntary chill run down his spine, as though someone had traced an icy finger down his spine.

He shook his head. Nothing, he told himself.

What are you doing there? Fred asked in his head, not expecting an answer.

Suddenly, the bathroom just sort of… wavered, and then it seemed that an invisible hand reached out and pulled back the curtain of reality, offering Fred a full view of the fantastic.

But a glimpse was enough for Fred.

With a sharp intake of breath, he pulled back quickly, promptly banging his head on the lintel.

“OUCH!” Fred exclaimed, bending and pulling out still, rubbing his head, cursing.

“Wetin?” Solo asked him, turning around sharply to look.

“Nothing, just bumped my head. Let’s go and have our bath.”

3

Fred and Solo stood side by side, scrubbing their bodies in silence which was as heavy as a pregnant woman. After a while, Fred spoke.

“You know why I banged my head back there?”

Solo stopped scrubbing and looked at Fred, face wet and partly covered in lather.

“What did you see, Fred?”

Fred looked at him quizzically for a moment then looked forward. “For a second, I imagined that I needed a cold bottle of beer, after which I would have a glass of champagne in a hotel bar, and then I saw this bird, a crow. It looked at me for a moment, and then the room sort of… shifted somehow; it wavered.”

Solo’s eyes took on a knowing look as Fred looked at him. He realized that Solo knew what he was about to say, but he felt he had to say it, just to get it out of his system, so he wouldn’t go crazy.

“I saw a hotel bar.”

4

“Where are you going?” Fred asked, as he pushed himself off his bed, leaning on his elbows.

“I just wan’ enter school go check person.” Solo said, as he put on his shoes. “Shebi I fine?” he asked, as he stood and straightened his shirt.

“When you reach you ask the person U dey meet.”

“Rubbish man like you.” They both laughed. “I’m off.”

“Anyhow. Play safe.”

“Trust me, I’m a G. See ya.” Solo went out, and then poked his head back inside the room. “When I get back, we’ll check that place out.”

“Okay.” Fred settled down to continue his reading. Solo looked at him for a moment, before he left. Something kept bothering him, but he shook it off.

Quit worrying.

Still……

5

Fred continued looking at the pages of the book in his hand, but to be truthful, he had stopped understanding what he had been looking at; it had become a confusing jumble of words and lines, all of them overlapping. All he could think about now was what he had seen in the morning. After bathing he had dismissed the whole thing, or at least he had tried to. Instead the entire episode had retreated to the back of his mind, biding its time, until it rose unbidden and unchallenged in Fred’s mind. After that, it had been jumping everywhere in his head, and Fred could do nothing but dwell on it. Now that he was alone, it was all he could see, all he could think about.

You have to wait for Solo; he’ll tell you how to really deal with this.

Yeah. Really.

I just want to see it again, he thought. I won’t enter it, at least not yet.

You know what will happen when you will get near it, right?

Nothing.

Fred took his handset, and got up from his bed; he put on his black chinos trousers and black sleeveless and his shoes, thinking; I’ve got to see it one more time.

6

The bathroom was deserted in the hot afternoon sun. The bath-stall doors gaped open, like impoverished children in a refugee camp. Fred could hear the buzzing of the million flies that made the toilets their homes; he didn’t dare to open them. Anyway, his business wasn’t with them, not now.

Fred walked slowly, till he stood in front of the door of the bathroom that had become the focal point of his day.

What are you, really?

The sun threw his shadow before him in a slant.

A light breeze ruffled his trousers and the sleeveless vest he was wearing. He walked forward slowly, as if dreading going near the door.

Don’t you go in there boy, don’t try it.

Still, he felt the pull on his psyche, telling him that it was alright, nothing was gonna happen to him, he’ll be safe.

Curiosity killed the cat.

Yeah, and satisfaction brought him back. Besides, wasn’t Solo here? And he had been through this a couple of times. So, why the worry?

Please don’t.

But it was too late, for he was already pushing the door inwards and stepping inside – mind your head boy – and pushing the door close.

Now, all he could hear was the faint echo of the door creaking close, and when that was gone, he could hear nothing. It seemed to him like he was the only one left in…well, in the world; it was that quiet.

Quite spooky, I must say. But still, nothing has happened, has it?

Silence.

Even the voice in his head was gone; it felt as if it had never been there.

Oh boy.

I’ve got to get out, Fred thought, and he stretched his hand to push the door open.

Had he touched the door, Fred could have been here with us today, probably sitting in a real hotel bar with Solo, taking that cold bottle of beer, and chasing it down later with a glass of champagne, and probably more.

However, that foolish imp which is pride, which resides in each and every one of us, spoke up; it whispered in Fred’s head, and he listened.

Don’t be such a wimp. What do you want to do? Run with your tail between your legs?

“I have no tail,” Fred said aloud, but his hand faltered, and then, as if weighted down, came to rest slowly at his side.

Good. Now, you’ll do what you came here to do.

What did I come here to do? Fred asked himself.

C’mon you know.

And he realized that he did.

Fred closed his eyes, nudging his memory, and Solo’s face came up; Solo telling him it was so easy, just close your eyes boy, close them do not look at all or you’ll go crazy.

Fred shut his eyes.

Now, where do I want to go? An image came up in his mind, of swirling bodies, bumping and grinding against each other to some beat.

A club. A night-club.

Fred settled within himself, and then he heard that cawing sound again, the same one he heard in the morning. His eyes opened reflexively, and he looked up in the direction of the sound. He saw the crow perched on the same rafter, its beady eye upon him.

“What’s with you eh?” he asked it.

The transformation going on around him took his attention away from the crow.

“What the-”

The walls seemed to be dissolving and coming back together, colours swirling, merging. As the room started to spin, Fred shut his eyes so tight he was sure that he had pulled an eyelash or two; they hurt.

Oh God, please don’t let me die please I don’t wanna die help me please.

As Fred was sucked into that vacuum between worlds, his last thought was of Solo; shit I didn’t ask him how to get back…

Then, all was truly quiet, the bathroom empty.

It was as if a young boy named Fred, just past his 20th birthday, had never been in there.


This brings us to the end of the first part of this tale. I remember the sense of accomplishment I had when I finished this story; I had written two novels before this (they must be around here, somewhere) but this was something else. Something special, even with its obvious shortcomings.

Hey, I was learning. I still am.

I decided to leave it in its original state, despite its need for a rewrite. Maybe later..

Okay, I have to run now. See you later.

And stay away from old doors with crows in front of them.

You have been warned.

A VERY PECULIAR HOMECOMING/THE BOY WHO CRIED, WOLF AND THE ICY BLEAKNESS OF THINGS

The house looms before me, unmoving, unforgiving. It is a house, in the same way a Lion is a cat, or a Shark is a fish. In truth, it is a castle.

My castle.

I am as familiar with the rooms, as I am familiar with the dungeons below, and what they hold…what they restrain. And I have the keys. They have been a constant reminder of what the legacy I must fulfil. And now, here I am.

As I stretch my hand, the massive, oak double doors open on their own, silently. I hesitate. The walkway stretches into the darkness, the walls shrouded in shadows. It is as if daylight is afraid of entering the house. I look down; what little of the floor I can see is covered in dust. My mind almost balks at the amount of cleaning I must have ahead of me, but then something strangles that thought and drags its struggling body into the deepest recesses of my mind. I have no idea what awaits me, but I know that whatever I find, will be mine and mine alone.

I step into the house, past the doors.

The light is enough for me to see the dust around me, from wall to wall, magically disappear, and then the doors shut behind me. I refuse to look back. It won’t matter now anyway, not at this point. I look at my fingers; they glow. I raise my hand and touch the wall on the right, then step to the wall on the left and do the same, and wait.

The light travels outward, driving the dust and the darkness, screaming, into the bowels of the house. It is a special kind of magic. It is my magic. I know this as much as I know my own name. And as I look up at the painting on the wall above me, a painting of Nasiru and the Rakmun (yes, it is all coming back to me now), I realize one thing.

I am home, and these are my stories.

Home is where the stories, monsters and all, are.

 


……….Aaaaaaaaand we’re off!

Hey there, my name is Raymond Elenwoke, and I’ll be your host today, and hopefully for a long, long time. I know, I know, why did I stop? What happened?

Well, if you must know, a lot. A whole, lot.

But I’m not going to bore you with the details. Gosh no, not when there are stories to tell, beasts to release. But first, a shout out to my paddy Seun Odukoya, a wonderful writer/rapper/plenty whose prowess with words makes me want to run screaming for my English Teacher. Without him, this dream would not have been actualized, and/or resurrected. If you love this blog, thank him for me. If you hate this blog, kill him for me. Catch him here: https://seunodukoya.wordpress.com/

Okay, so I am going to leave you here with a little something. A lot of people have been asking why my stories have been absent online, and if I have been writing at all. Well, I have. I just have not published them. I guess it’s time now. So, I leave you with this story about a boy, some wolves raiders and bad decisions.

And yes, this story is true.


THE BOY WHO CRIED, WOLF, AND THE ICY BLEAKNESS OF THINGS

No one knew his name, or where he came from, and no one had ever bothered. They only knew where to find him, and they usually stayed clear of those places. Sometimes he sat all alone on the only remaining swing in the old, abandoned playground, or he hung upside down from the monkey bars. However, he was usually found on the hill that overlooked the Farmers’ Meadow. Always alone. Sometimes he had a dreamy smile on his face, as though he was in another place, another time.

Mostly, he cried.

No one knew why.

No one bothered to know how he survived. Sometimes he would disappear for months on end, sometimes even a year or two, but no one really noticed, and the few who did never cared. He was like a ghost to them; ignored because he was relatively harmless.

He looked about fourteen years old with light brown skin and a wiry build. A forgettable face, black, spiky hair that had a permanently greased look, and deep-set, blue eyes with flecks of gold that seemed to pierce through whatever it was they beheld. On the inside of his wrists he had two tattoos that mirrored each other. He had no idea what they were; sometimes they looked to him like twin, hairy daggers. On the days he felt particularly down or lonely, he stroked either of these two tattoos; this action soothed him in a strange way, like he was drawing a peculiar kind of hope from them. When he felt angry, they throbbed painfully as rage ran riot in him; a beast clawing at his insides, baying for the essence of his soul.

And then, there were the dreams.

He never understood these dreams. Previously occurring once in months, they were coming with more frequency. The last week he’d had them five times. Always the same dream, but that didn’t keep them from scaring him. He always woke up with a sense of disconnect and uncertainty, and imminent danger, though for whom or from what, he had no idea. Always, the sound of heavy breathing, like someone, or something was running. The smell of earth, and rage. The night, always seen with a tinge of red. The smell of blood.

And glowing, yellow eyes.

The year after the SEVEN SALEM WAR that had lasted for almost a whole year. Dark days, darker nights, filled with the screams of the dying and the stench of the dead. He’d done a lot of scavenging, trying to stay alive in a time when life worth a little less than a loaf of bread. The War had claimed so many lives but he didn’t particularly care; not because he didn’t want to, but because he didn’t know how to. Armour, weapons, anything that looked remotely useful. He had the uniforms of the armies of the Seven Salems, useful for when he wanted to take long trips through their territories.

It was a wet night. He’d gone out to what was left of the market down at the village to buy what he could and steal what he couldn’t. Cresting the hill, he decided he was going to-

A scream in his mind, alarm bells warning him of danger. Surprised, he paused mid-step, trying to comprehend this feeling, and something blindsided him, sending him crashing painfully into a tree. Everything went white-hot for a moment, and then blackness enveloped him. He felt himself descending into a murky void; disconnected voices, raucous laughter. That rage again, building, slowly gaining momentum. He gripped it, and rode the waves of anger onto consciousness. His chest, hurting as his wrists began to itch. He looked up, saw five men dressed in the flowing garments of the Nomads from the Delmor Salem. Six horses, one carrying a mother and her young daughter, both bound and silently crying; he could smell their fear. Slowly picked himself up as one of the men alighted and casually strolled towards him. He recognized the woman; she ran the vegetable shop down by the school.

Why? Why did the Nomads come here? They almost never came this far south.

The Nomad had an assortment of daggers strapped along a leather belt slung over his right shoulder and across his body.

The rage, a spark in the darkness. A low growl, whether from him or from the night he didn’t know, and didn’t care. His whole body was hurting now, as though another person within him was trying to claw his way out of him. He gritted his teeth. A keening sound that only him could hear, and an urgency in the night. Those glowing eyes again, filling his mind as he-

-Blood-

-clawed at the earth. He felt like he was being-

“Don’t kill him Dunaper,” one of the men said. “He looks like he will fetch us some healthy money down at the Trade.”

-pulled from different directions; he could hear a howl in the night; almost half a mile away. Animal footsteps, stealthy; barely restrained bloodlust.

Dunaper grunted, and then stopped before him. Reached down and hoisted him up roughly, and then punched him in the stomach. The pain felt distant; something called from within, a primal hunger, a need to strip everything down to the barest minimum. A need to uncage the beast.

Dunaper pulled his fist back one more time. His punch was stopped by a painful, vice-like grip. Uncertainty, and then fear as he felt something change; a subtle shift in the bearing of the young boy in front of him. He looked down at the upturned wrist of the hand holding him. The face of a wolf glowed upwards at him, a pulsing, blood red.

The boy raised his head. His eyes glowed yellow.

The night howled, and chaos ran amok.

When it was all over, the woman and her daughter were all that remained. Bodies lay strewn about, the gunshots still echoing in the night, ringing in his ears. The moon cast a single, baleful eye upon the living and the dead. The boy, bloodied and tired, turned to walk to them as they huddled at the base of a tree.

“No!” the woman shrieked, pulling her daughter close to her. “Don’t come any closer!”

Confused, he backtracked, hands open as he tried and failed to understand her anger. He could still smell her fear, and he wondered why. What had he done that she would fear him so? He took another step forward.

“I said don’t come near us!” she screamed, pulling out a small dagger and holding it out in front of her, waving it in a bid to keep him away. “Just leave us alone…you monster.” And with that, she scampered to her feet, the knife dropping as she carried her daughter and ran off into the night.

Tired, he fell to his knees as it began to rain.

Slowly, one by one, the wolves stepped out from the shadows, surrounding the boy and giving him warmth, comforting him the only way they knew how as he cried from exhaustion and sadness.

As one, the wolves lifted their heads and howled into the night, a dark, primal melody.

With the rain washing his tears away, the boy raised his face and joined them.


This story, by yours truly previously appeared on the 2013 edition of the ‘Lights Out’ series on The Naked Convos. 

Find me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/raymond.elenwoke

I’m also on twitter as @lewokes.

Check out my other blog here: http://ruk4christ.blogspot.com.ng/

God bless you.

Later.

Welcome Back ( albeit a late one)

Yes. I know, I know. Why haven’t I been online since?

Well, first things first, this is me officially saying HAPPY NEW YEAR? MONTH? Ah well, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I guess it is back to the business of the season; words. Stories. Tales. Fiction, Non-fiction.

But first, tell me; what has been happening in your writing/reading life? Hope it has been good.

For me, 2013 started with a BANG! I won the Best Short Competition organized on Naija Stories (AMAZING site; you should check it out!) with this story EATER (you can read it here: http://www.naijastories.com/2012/12/eater/ ). Since then…well, let’s just say the lines have really been falling for me unto absolutely pleasant places. Deadlines to work with, and more approaching. So hold on to your horses folks, ‘cos it is going to be a crazily sweet ride.

So tell me, how have you been enjoying Swan Song?

Let me know.

See you all soon.