Hello, friends! Thank God it’s Friday. For four weeks, I intend to dish you a TGIF Special, starting from today. The TGIF Special is going to be a weekly dosage of enthralling fictional narratives that will keep you spellbound and asking for more. May God help us all.
Please enjoy the first dose!
“Tribune, Nation, Punch or Vanguard? Madam, which one?” The vendor asked as he ran after her Toyota, his voice heavy with persuasion as he manoeuvred amidst the traffic.
The traffic lights were now showing amber. Car engines revved in readiness. Any time now, the green light would come on and drivers would start honking their deafening horns, cursing one another for not moving out of the way too soon, as though it was expected of the other to fly over the vehicles ahead of them.
“Punch, please,” she replied. She quickly rummaged about her bag, found a #200 note and gave it to the vendor through the car window. The Punch newspaper fell to her laps; the vendor did not have the patience to hand it to her politely, as he ran to catch up with the next vehicle and make another sale.
“Puhn! Puhn! Puhn!” The cars behind her hooted, almost jittering her. She stepped on the gas pedal and zoomed off quickly, before one of the drivers would ask her whether something was wrong with her father’s ears or brain in the village.
She had just gone to drop her son in the crèche. Now that she was back at home, she thought over the fuss she always went through on Lagos roads. She would never get accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Lagos life, it seemed. She sighed and threw herself on the sofa.
She decided to skim through the newspaper before she would have her bath and prepare for work. The cover story of the national daily caught her attention. It was about a nurse who worked in a private hospital in Gbagada that had been found dead around a T-junction in Bariga. Something was not just right about the report, she felt. She narrowed her eyes to concentrate on the picture. Behold, her own very picture stared back at her, and it was no dream. She was the said nurse.
She did not know what to make of it at first. Here was a story that would be read nationwide reporting that she was dead- she, hale and hearty, who had just gone to drop her son in the crèche and was now flipping through the pages of the very newspaper. It was such an irony. As much as she would have loved to wish it away, an inexplicable fear and confusion began to becloud her mind. The newspaper report was a roundabout way of saying whoever saw her now must be seeing a supposed ghost. She fought hard to banish a thought of herself resuming at the hospital that morning only to see people scampering away from her, shouting, “Oku, oku o, oku!” Somehow, she imagined Mrs Chucks, the fattest member of staff in the hospital, running away from her too, shouting, her breasts flapping against each other and making funny sounds in the process. Ah, that would be quite a scene! At the thought of this, her face broke into a smile, but the smile vanished as soon as it appeared. It was impossible that she should bear fire in her mouth and spit out water simultaneously. Nobody ever laughed at the news of their own death, even if they were unfortunate enough to hear of it.
As she sat still in the sofa, too dumbstruck to make a head or tail of the shocker, her phone beeped. She reached for it mindlessly. It was a message.
“Hello, Mrs. Shade Ade. I’m sure the news of your ‘death’ has reached you. You are advised not to leave your house again today. Nobody likes to see a ghost, you know. What’s more, your son is now in my custody, and I’m wondering whether he likes to eat leftover eba. A packet of corn flakes is quite expensive here, I was told. All the same, I promise to take care of him well. Rest in peace.
Shade felt as if she was levitating from the sofa she sat. An emptiness that had never been filled her body, and a heaviness that was unfathomable weighed down her soul. Thus, her body was light enough to be flung about the floor of her living room, but her soul was such that could not even be lifted, hence she rolled and wailed on the floor while her soul stayed glued to the sofa. Her soul had been stripped from her body. Was that not death in itself? Perhaps the newspaper was right after all.
Shade knew the person she was up against was no joker. That much was evident in the flawlessness with which these evils were being perpetuated. She never envisaged that a spate of such traumatic events would transpire within so short a moment. It was barely eight o’ clock in the morning, and enough had happened to change her life for worse already. First, this implacable enemy had succeeded in confining her to her house by declaring her dead. If she walked into anywhere now, she was doing so as a ghost, and nobody ever waited to catch a second glimpse of a ghost. It would not matter if she was alive- a newspaper had reported her dead already. Second, this enemy had also taken away the one thing that gave her joy and kept her sane, her son. To her, it was a shattering blow below the belt.
There was nothing left for Shade to hold on to again. She pulled herself together, stood up from the floor where she had been wailing all the while, and reconnected her body to her soul, wrestling it out from the arms of the sofa. If this was the last fight she would partake in, then she would make it worth her trouble. Whoever the unknown enemy was, they would not have their way so easily.
With that strong resolve, Shade picked her phone and typed her response to the message.
“Who are you? What do you want?” She asked.
Almost as soon as her phone signalled the delivery of that message, it beeped again. Another message for her it was.
It read, “I am Grrh the Game Master, GGM for short. Everyone plays according to my rules. I want you to do so too. Shall we play?
To be continued! Catch you next Friday.
~~~Omoya Yinka Simult
P.S: The choice of the word “dose”, as opposed to the commonly used “episodes”, is deliberate. Kindly bear with me. Thanks.