BEFORE THE DARKNESS : CHAPTER ONE

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The fiery hot wind blew against him but he did not seem to notice. His mind was taken up by what he saw; the reflection of his face in the water made him shiver. He slapped his hand across the river and his reflection disappeared in the ripples. He stood and slid across his face the veil that had been his covering for so many decades. Decades that had turned into centuries and centuries into millennia.
The world knew him as Ibilis, the cause of all the evil in the world, and they were right. But they knew so little about him, as little as he wanted them to know. His world was one of darkness, one he hated so much. He had crossed from light to darkness when he had challenged Edumare, a battle he would have won if he had been given a fair chance. His loss meant he had to leave for the abyss called Hades along with a few of his defeated loyal servants.
The only reason he had not been lost in despair through the millennia was the hope that one day he would be able to corrupt one of the gods in the seven heavens. And he had succeeded. One of them had eventually given in to centuries of pressure and through him he would achieve his target; take over the earth.
Ibilis looked around him at the many who toiled in his service as he prepared for what will be the end of man and the ultimate devastation of Edumare. He did not understand it, Edumare’s obsession with men. It infuriated him. It did not matter, because soon, with one blow he would wipe out men and take his revenge on Edumare.
***
“We have set a two-month deadline, we cannot wait for her to give birth, look for another person to play the role.” Eric said and shook his head. He had been in the business for less than a year but he already knew more than these expert morons.
“Sir, she is the best person for the role.” The older moron said.
“And she’s famous; her face alone will sell our movie.” The younger moron added, supporting his colleague.
“Do you think we are negotiating here guys? Did we use a single famous actor for our last movie? Did it or did it not blow away all box office records here in Nigeria?” Eric said, looking at the men, who were trying to avoid his gaze. “Dapo, answer my question.”
“You’re right sir.”
“Good, so go and do as I said. We are not waiting for anybody. Okay, get to work both of you.”
Eric watched them leave his office. He understood their thinking, they could not figure how he could do a movie with an unknown cast and expect success, but he had and he would do it again. He did not have to explain himself to them anyway, he was their boss, plus he had other things on his mind.
He had had the strangest experience the day before. He was at his new home with his new girlfriend, well that’s what she thought she was, and she had got him upset. He had been lucky because he walked out of the room immediately his temper started to rise. He walked to his balcony and as he thought about the infuriating words she had said to him, he squeezed his fingers in frustration and just then his hand disappeared. He had jumped back out of fear, releasing the fingers and they had re-appeared.
No matter how much he tried, he could not find a reasonable explanation for the incidence. He had been drunk but he had never been drunk to the point of hallucinating.
A knock on the door brought him back from his reverie.
“Come in.”
His secretary came in. She was his only friend, but even she could not know about the disappearing hand.
“Pearl, what’s up?”
“Your two pm is here.”
“My two…I have an appointment?” Eric asked, clicking on his digital calendar. “Apparently, I do. Who is Toni Adedoyin?”
“Eric! That lady has been after you since European came out. She called and called before she got this appointment.”
“Oh yeah, the journalist. Can I reschedule this? I don’t think I want to do an interview right now.”
“Come on Eric, you can’t reschedule this. We have rescheduled four times, it’s not polite. She is a human person.”
“I know Pearl, I just don’t want to do this now.”
“You will!” She said with finality, he knew there was no point arguing. “Do whatever you want to do now, she’s coming in in five minutes.”
“Okay. But am I ready for this interview? This is a major step you know, it’s my first as CEO of X-Media.”
“Aww, Eric is nervous.” Pearl said, walked to him and put an arm round his shoulder. “You will be fine dear. Now be a man and let me be the lady here.”
She walked out of the office and Eric walked to the reception area in his office and sat.
He had a reason to be nervous. He knew the journalist would ask questions about his past, his life before X-Media. He had had a terrible accident and had no idea who he was. He had an official story he told everybody who asked though. Only Pearl knew his story was fiction. An invasive journalist could pick through his made-up story.
There was a knock on his door, he stood from the chair and straightened his jacket.
“Come in please.” Eric said, trying his best to smile.
“Mr. Adesesan, thanks for seeing me.” Toni, the journalist said, stretching her hand to shake him.
“Please call me Eric, Mr. Adesesan is my grandfather, even my father never let people call him that.” Eric replied, shaking her hand.
“Oh, alright, thank you Eric.”
“Please have a seat.” Eric said, pointing her to a chair. “I’m sorry I’ve not been able to see you for so long.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re seeing me now.” She said, sitting. “Okay, before we start this, do you solemnly swear to say the truth and nothing but the truth?”
“What? I…” Eric stammered.
“No, I’m just joking Eric. This isn’t a court room.” She said laughing.
Eric tried to join the laughter but nothing came out of his mouth but a slight chuckle.
“Alright, let’s begin, shall we?” She said, bringing out a notepad.
“Okay, let’s.” Eric said and silently prayed the interview would not become the beginning of the end for him.
***
She observed her aide – Adedamola as he escorted the visitor to the door. Damola was tall, had broad shoulders and the most handsome face she had ever seen. Sometimes she wondered if he was a god of some sorts, or perhaps he was just specially constructed to torture women. He walked with a swagger she could not understand, almost as if he was royalty.
He turned around to look at her and she turned away quickly. He had caught her staring far too often, she was his boss, she had to learn some discipline.
“Are you done for the day Anne?” He asked. The way he pronounced her name sent a tingling sensation up her spine. He rarely called her by name, he had always called her ma’am except for a few precious times.
“Yeah, I’m almost done.” She answered, hoping he did not see the heat in her face. “Wait for me at the reception; I will be with you soon.”
She tried to look away but failed so she watched him leave. She remembered the first time she had seen him. She had been instantly attracted to him but her friends told her to forget about it. Apart from the social class difference, they said, he was rough, and not the kind of person to be working with a top model. They had a point. He worked as a delivery boy for a pizza place and he had the roughest hair and beard she had ever seen but she could not stop thinking about him. There was something familiar about him and in less than two weeks he had begun to work in her organization.
She stood from her chair and walked into the bathroom. As she did she caught her reflection in the mirror and stopped. She turned and faced the mirror. She was beautiful, she knew it, and everybody knew it. She had been in the modeling industry for only a year but she was already at the top of the industry. She charged the highest fees, she turned down international brands because she had too much to do already, she lived the life so many of her contemporaries could only dream of.
She wiped the mirror with her palms and looked closer into the mirror to see her eyes. They had a look of loss in them, something she tried her best to hide every time.
She turned away from the mirror and grabbed her make up bag, tonight was not a time for thoughts of loss. There was a handsome god of a man waiting to take her home. Even if he would not go past her front door.

***
Damola looked at her through the rearview mirror and smiled. She was asleep. For a woman who was so calm and collected during the day, she tossed a lot in her sleep. He looked away from her and focused on the road. He had caught her looking at him a few times and it always excited him. He did his own bit of looking, he was just smarter about it. Working for her was the easiest decision he had ever made. Because of his looks he had gotten a lot of offers for different jobs but he had always refused, he had never felt like he needed more than he got from the pizza place. When she asked him to come work for her, he had accepted immediately. There was something about her, he had no idea what it was but he could not resist her.
A traffic light ahead of him turned red and he stepped on the brake. The car had just slowed to a stop when the car jerked forward suddenly! It had been hit from behind. He heard a whimper behind him and he looked. Anne had fallen off her seat and hit her head on the front chair. Damola turned off the engine, opened his door and ran to Anne’s side of the car. He opened her door and helped her up to her seat. Her nose was bleeding.
His heart raced at the sight of the blood on her face. He turned away from her and started walking towards the driver who hit him. The driver was still in the car, he had not even bothered to come out.
Damola walked to his door and knocked on his window. The driver rolled down his window.
“Why did you stop so suddenly? Didn’t you know a car was coming behind you?” The driver said with a sneer.
Damola felt the heat begin to rise. “What did you just say?”
“Move your car out of the road and let me go, useless man!” The man retorted and rolled his window up.
Damola looked at the man and he felt a vibration in his hand, he lifted it and punched the window! It shattered and the shocked driver jumped back. Damola opened the door and began to pull the man. He yanked the seatbelt off the driver and grabbed him. The man struggled but he overpowered him easily.
Suddenly the man began to scream. “It’s burning me! Help, it’s burning me!”
A crowd began to gather around the scene. Damola looked at the man confused. What was burning him? Then he felt it. At first it was a slight warm tingling on his palms, then it became really hot. He dropped the man and looked at his hands, they smoked.
He turned around quickly and walked back to the car. Nobody tried to stop him as he entered and drove away. His hand smoked? What set it on fire? Why wasn’t he burned? Who was Adedamola Adetokun?
***
“That was an awesome interview.” Toni Adedoyin said.
“Really? That was all you.” Eric said, standing from his seat.
“I don’t think so, you did well yourself.” She said with a smile. She stuffed her notepad into her bag and stood.
The interview had gone better than he thought it would. Mostly because she had stuck to questions about X-Media and European, his first movie which had blown everybody away.  She worked for a business magazine, of course she was not after his life story. He wondered why he had been so paranoid.
“Care to join me for light refreshment before you leave?” Eric asked.
“Well…” She said and looked at her watch. “I guess I could spare ten minutes.”
“That’s all the time it takes to eat our special delicacy; the Spanish lizard.” Eric said with relish as they settled into their chairs.
“The what?!” She asked eyes wide.
“Ha, gotcha! That’s my revenge for the joke you pulled on me earlier.” Eric said and pumped his fist in mock victory.
“Nice! That’s how it is?”
“That’s how it is.”
Eric brought out two wine glasses and poured some wine into them.
“You always treat your guests with this much niceness, I might be a constant guest here.” Toni said, taking a sip from the glass.
“My father always said, there are two people you must always treat nicely; your wife and journalists. Because people will believe whatever they say about you, true or false.”
Toni laughed and said. “He is a wise man. You seemed to have picked a lot from him. He must have been proud of you when you produced European.”
“He would have been, but he’s been late for a while.” Eric said, hoping it would be the end of questions about his father.
He was not so lucky. “Was he into entertainment too?”
“Yes he was.” He replied without thinking.
“He was? Wow, it runs in the family then. Was he was a movie producer?”
“No, he wasn’t.” Eric said, his feeling of unease increasing.
“Yeah? What was he then?”
“Can you please stop! I thought the interview was over.” Eric snapped. He looked at her shocked face and felt terrible.
“I’m sorry…” She started to say.
“No, it’s me who is sorry. I’m so sorry, it’s just that the topic of my father is very touchy for me.” He said, trying to put on a smile.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pushed.”
“I guess you can say I have daddy issues.” Eric said beaming a huge smile. “I hope this does not destroy the chances of those repeated visits you promised.”
“Promised? I didn’t promise anything. But I’ll visit anytime I’m in the neighbourhood.”
“Please do.”
“Thank you very much for this.” She said standing.
“It was my pleasure.”
Eric walked her to the door of the company building and watched her walk all the way to her car. His good-for-nothing girlfriend was going to get kicked out very soon, maybe then he could pay real attention to the attractive journalist.
He was about to turn around to head back into the building when something caught his eye. He looked closer. Beside his car in the parking lot was an odd looking man. He was dressed in robes and was barefooted. He looked like he had just stepped out of an ancient movie. Strangely, people walked past him without paying any attention to him.
Eric shook his head and walked back into the building. He had enough weirdness in his life, the odd man could live his.
***
Anne stood outside and watched Damola walk out of her house. She was disturbed, there was something strange about the way he had looked that day. She had watched him go after the driver who hit the car from behind. At first, she had felt good about it, he was fighting because she was hurt. But she had seen him get really angry, and even though he had not landed a single punch on the man, the look she saw on the man’s face was pure fear.
She turned around and entered her house. There was something else that disturbed her, the look in his eyes. It was the same look she saw in her own eyes more often than not; confusion.
“My lady?” She heard an unfamiliar voice call from behind her.
She stopped and turned around. A man stood in the corner of her living room. How did he enter? She had opened the door herself, and there was no way he slipped past her.
“Who are you? How did you get in?” She asked, trying not to show fear.
“How did I enter? It surprises me that you ask that question my lady. We are not of this world, we come and go as we please.” The man said.
“Not of this…?” Anne started and shook her head. She reached into her bag and brought out her phone, she wished Damola had actually come in.
“Don’t call him, he is not ready, let him go in peace.”
Anne looked at him carefully. The man was dressed strangely, he looked like nothing she had seen in Nigeria. He wore a robe, somewhat like a Buddhist monk. He was barefooted and had some strange kind of beads around his neck. She had never met him, that she was sure of but there was an air of familiarity about him. Kind of what she felt the first time she met Damola.
“What do you want from me?” Anne asked steadying herself.
“Before I answer your question my lady, I will ask mine. Do you know who you are?”
“Yes I do.” She said, her voice lower than she planned. Who was this man? “I am Anne Oyawoye…”
“Wait! Tell me who you are, not who you have told everybody you are.”
Anne felt her heart beat faster against her chest. She had avoided the question the man was asking for a long time. She had no idea who she was, Anne Oyawoye; the international model was all she knew.
“You can’t seem to answer my question my lady. Perhaps because you do not know the answer. That is why I’m here, to deliver the answer.”
“You know who I am?” Anne asked, she could not hide the eagerness in her voice.
“Yes I do my lady, but with knowledge comes responsibility. Are you willing to take the responsibility that comes with the knowledge of who you are?”
“What responsibility?” She hesitated. “What are you talking about?”
“That box on the wall, the one that shows you the past, the present and sometimes the future…”He said pointing to the television. “Put it on.”
Anne reached for the remote, cautiously eyeing the weird man. She put on the TV.
“You see that?” The man asked. On the television was news about a village in the northern part of the nation who experienced what looked like an eclipse. The reporter was saying how strangely, the village was the only place to experience the eclipse.
“I don’t understand.” Anne said. An eclipse that was experienced in one village only was strange but she had no idea what that had to do with her.
“You don’t understand now, but you will. I should leave you now.” The man said and moved towards the door.
“Wait! You have not told me who I am.” Anne said.
“Are you ready for this my lady?” Anne stood straight, folded her arms across her chest and looked at him. “Your name is Oya, the daughter of the great Edumare, creator of the seven heavens. You are the controller of the wind and the storm do your bidding. You are not mere mortal my lady, you are a goddess, a great goddess.”
Anne stood and stared at him for a few seconds, stunned. Then she recovered herself and laughed. She wanted to stop the laughter but she was so amused she could not.
“Sir, whoever you are, thank you for playing on my moment of weakness, I can’t believe I actually thought you knew who I am. Thank you but you are should leave now.” She said and turned around to get her phone.
“There is more you should know.” The man continued.
She could not believe she had been so eager to hear what the man had to say. She should have been more concerned about getting him out of her house than bothering with what he had to say.
She got her phone and looked up. “Sir, please leave or I…”
She stopped, he was gone.

One thought on “BEFORE THE DARKNESS : CHAPTER ONE

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