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.
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-
-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.