BEFORE THE DARKNESS EPISODE FOUR

The past week had been crazy for President Lange. Another village was hit by the black-death disease and the team sent to the village to find out what the cause of the disease was yet to get lucky. Aweda, the crazy doctor had been brought on board simply because he proved right about a lot of things.
The sickness had broken out without warning. Theis village was far away from the village that was previously hit so the chances of transmission by physical contact was low. The doctors had taken precautions against any form of transmission by contact or air though most of them believed the disease was not communicable at all and they had a point. The whole village seemed to have contracted the disease at the same time and it had not spread to nearby villages.
The meeting was holding in the Taraba state government house. And it was the sixth meeting he was sitting in since the second outbreak. They were not making any headway hence his decision to allow Aweda in on the meeting.
“I know I’m stating the obvious here but we need to know the cause of this disease. If we don’t, we don’t find a solution. If we don’t find a solution and it hits another village or maybe a large city this time, we are in even bigger trouble.” Lange said.
“I think I have found the cause.” Aweda said before any other person could talk.
“Let’s hear it.” Lange said ignoring the looks of every other person at the table.
“There was something that happened in both villages before they were attacked. They both experienced what looked like an eclipse. A darkess that did not exceed the borders of each village. I don’t know why no agency has noticed this.” Aweda said, very pleased with himself.
“We have no record of this ‘eclipse’.” Adigwe said.
“It was not reported in the news but you can find this out from the villagers.”
“Okay, I’m sure you know what you are talking about Doctor but what does this have to do with the black death disease?” Lange asked.
“I don’t know for sure but this is what we know. A strange darkness that is seen in only one village at a time and is then followed by a disease we have never seen before, that looks like too much of a coincidence.”
“So how does this help the sick. We need to help them get well.” Adigwe said.
“That is really important. We have about five hundred and fifty people sick, we can’t just leave them to die.” Lange said.
“The sickness is showing signs similar to the…” Adigwe started but was cut off by Aweda.
“No, that is not what it is. This is a totally different disease and the only thing to do is to watch it and know how and where it strikes. That way we can move people before it strikes.”
“So when should we allow it, wait for the eclipse? Bury our dead and move on with our lives?” Lange asked.
“I know you don’t want to hear this, but that is exactly what you are going to do.” Aweda said.
Lange looked at him and his heart sank. Despite his best effort not to, he believed what he had just heard.
***
Damola looked at the men seating across from him and balled his fingers into a fist. The men would have scared anybody but not him. He had been in the cell with them for two days without incidence but he knew it was only a matter of time. Whenever they decided to attack he would be ready, anyway he had other things on his mind.
After Anne went missing he had almost gone mad, looking frantically for her everywhere. He searched the whole house in case there was something he missed and she had slipped out of the room without him knowing. He found nothing. After about an hour of going in and out of rooms, calling desperately for her, he had decided to check the office. She had not been in the office for the four days they had been together and everyone eyed him strangely when he walked in.
He had rushed to her office and found it empty. The secretary eyed him suspiciously when he refused to tell her why he was checking Anne’s office. After confirming that Anne had truly not been in the office since she disappeared from the room, he went to her friends’ places. They all did not like him and he did not care but they hadn’t seen her too. His panic grew to a unbearable level and he spent the next fourteen hours driving to every place he knew Anne liked to frequent, going more than once to each place. Until he was arrested.
He was not sure who but one of Anne’s friends apparently had reported her missing and he was the person last seen with her. His case had not been helped by the suspicions of gold-digging all Anne’s friends had about him. He had not responded to any of the questions the policemen asked. He could not help but wonder where Anne was and what was happening to her.
“Oga, why you dey look me?”
He looked up and saw one of the men in the cell standing next to him. The man looked like the toughest among the men, it was no wonder he was sent to start the fight. Damola glanced at the man and looked away. He really wanted to beat up the man but he wanted to get out of jail more.
“Na you I dey talk to, wetin be your problem?” The man continued.
Damola continued to ignore the man. Getting into a fight would seriously reduce his chances of getting out on time. What if he was worried for nothing? What if Anne was home and safe? What if…
Wham! The slap landed on his face. He heard it before he felt it and was up on his feet before his mind could catch up with what was happening. It all happened in a blur and one minute later, he was standing over three unconscious men. The other men had been smart enough to move far away from him. He looked at the bloody faces on the floor and knew his chances of getting out the cell on time was finished.
He moved to another corner of the cell and sat down, it was only a matter of time before the policemen would come and lock him up in a worse cell, alone.
“Which one of you is Adedamola?” He heard the voice come through the door.
He kept quiet. His body still trembled from whatever had come upon him to make him beat up his crazy cellmates.
“I said which one of you is Adedamola.” The voice came again. “Come now or you are on your own?”
Something about the voice of the guard suggested he did not know about the unconscious men. Damola stood and moved to the door. The guard looked him over through the door screen before opening it.
“Your bail has been settled, you are free to go.” The guard said.
Anne had come to bail him? Thank God she was okay. He hurried towards the counter where a constable was waiting to clear him. He looked over the counter as he approached it, he did not see her.
“Sir?” He called the guard. “Where is she, the lady who came to bail me out?”
“Which lady? It was one old man who posted your bail but he seemed to be in a hurry to go. Weird old man.” The policeman replied.
His heart sank. If Anne was not the one who posted his bail then there was a chance she was not okay. Or maybe she sent the old man.
He collected his belongings from the guard and walked out of the station. He stopped a taxi and gave the driver directions to Anne’s house. If she was safe, he wanted to know. If only he had not dozed off, he would have heard the noise earlier, then maybe he could have done something.
He looked out of the window and looked at the driver in surprise. He was not on the way to Anne’s house. The car was heading in the direction of his house.
***
Eric could hardly do anything since he had the dream. He had left mails unread and not replied, calls unanswered and not returned, he had to do something about it. The dream came back to him everytime as vividly as when he first had it. His mind could not stay on anything, his work had suffered and he could not allow that to happen. He had decided that they would begin shooting Genesis in six weeks and for that to happen, he had to clear up a lot of paperwork.
The files on his table ranged from financial reports and projections to personal letters sent to him by actors trying to get on his radar. He disliked replying mails that were not official but he had a not-so-common practice of acknowledging every mail he received. Immediately people found this out his office started receiving several letters.
He hated the part of his job that dealt with numbers so he skipped all files about the company’s finances and went to those that dealt specifically with the production of Genesis.
A knock on the door stopped him just as he opened the first file. The door opened before he could answer, it was Pearl.
“What is it?” He said, going back to the file.
“You have a visitor.”
“I told you to cancel all my appointments for the day, you know I have a lot to do today.” He said without looking up.
“It is Toni Adedoyin.”
“The journalist?” He said, raising his head to look at her.
“Hmm, I knew you had a thing for her. I could send her away if you want me to though.”
“No, no, let her come in.” He said as he unconsciously began to brush his hair with his hand.
“I thought you said you had a lot to do.” She said with a chuckle and walked out of the office.
He had not seen Toni since the day she came to interview him. He had thought about her a couple of times but he had not done anything about it. He probably would have called her if he had not been distracted by his dream.
The door opened and she entered. He stood from his chair and walked around his table to her.
“When you said you were going to stop by again, I didn’t know you meant it.” Eric said as he shook her hand.
“I never say things I don’t mean.” She replied with a broad smile.
“It’s good to see you.”
It really was good to see her. He had no idea it would be this good.
“Before I get too excited, are you here to visit me? Or you were in the neighbourhood and you decided to drop by?”
“I came to see you, but maybe not for what you are thinking.” She said, all the while keeping her smile.
“Oh oh, I knew it. This is official isn’t it?”
“Before I tell you why I’m here, I promise you a date for whenever you choose. Whenever!”
“Okay, that is comforting.” He said, smiling. “I’ll be using that date soon, very soon but I have a feeling what you are about to tell me is very important.”
“I’m not here to tell you something, I’m here to ask you something.”
“Oh, alright, shoot.”
“How do you plan to deal with the lawsuit? It’s a major one and it could…”
“Wait! What lawsuit?” Eric asked, eyebrow raised.
“Morayo Adebisi, she was on …”
“I know who she is. She is suing us?” Eric asked. He was truly shocked, not at the lawsuit but that he had to hear it from a journalist.
“The suit has not been filed yet but I thought, if I knew about it, surely you know about it too.”
“Well, I don’t but it shouldn’t be a big deal. We will settle out of court, I’ll make sure of it.”
“That might not be possible Eric, she has some people backing her. It’s you they are after.” She said.
“We are about to begin shooting Genesis.”
“I know, and if this lawsuit is successful, Genesis is dead in the water.”
***
“Hey! This is not the address I gave you! Where are you going?” He shouted.
The driver ignored him and kept on driving.
“Are you crazy? I’m talking to you!” Damola shouted again, hitting the driver’s seat with his fist.
The driver ignored him still. They were close his house now and the driver slowed the car and pulled over in front of his house.
“Why did you bring me here?” Damola asked, still angry. Then he paused, looked at the driver and asked in a lower tone. “How do you know where I live?”
The driver kept quiet and kept his face forward. Now he was confused. A tap on his window drew his attention. He looked through the window an old man beckoning for him to come out of the car. Could It be the man who had bailed him out of jail? He came out of the car and it zoomed off.
He hurried after the man who already was heading for his house. He caught up with him just as he was about entering the house.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” Damola said, careful not be rude. It was possible this man had paid his bail.
“Come in and I will answer your question.” The man replied.
Damola opened his mouth to protest but shook his head and followed the man in.
“My name is Orunmila.” The man said as soon as they were in. “You know who I am as you have been studying about us.”
Damola smiled. Was this a joke?
“You will soon find out who took your wife, but you must be patient.”
My wife? Anne?
“You know who took Anne?” Damola asked, moving closer to the man.
“Yes, I do and you will too, very soon.”
“Take me to them immediately!” He said.
“Your impetus has always been legendary, you have no patience. This is what brought you here in the first place.”
What was he talking about? Damola could not concentrate on reasoning out what the man was saying. He had to rescue Anne.
“I said take me to Anne now!” His heart was beating very fast now. Suddenly his hand began to smoke. He looked down at the hand and quickly hid it behind him before the man could see it.
“I will take you to her as soon as you explain the smoke coming off your hands.”
The man had seen the smoke, there was no point hiding it. He held out his hands in front of him and the smoking increased as he looked at them. The smoke slowly became thicker and then it burst into fire! He screamed and waved his hand around in the air to stop the burning but it only increased.
“If you have to learn to control your anger, or you will never learn to control the fire.” He heard the man speak from behind him.
The man did not seem to be shocked by his burning hand. Who was he? Orunmila?
“Who are you old man? Why are you doing this to me?” Damola said as he watched the fire die down.
“I am not doing anything to you and I already told you who I am. The question is; do you know who you are?”
Damola looked at the man open-mouthed. Whoever the man was, he needed to listen to him.
“You are Sango! The god of thunder of the heavens! Your wife, who was taken away from you is Oya! You are here because in your foolishness you engaged in battle with another god.”
Damola could hear his heart beat as he listened to the man. Was he saying the truth? His hands smoked and burned without him being hurt; was it because he was truly a god? And Anne, was their sudden and unusual attraction because they were indeed a couple from another world?
“Why are you here? Why are you telling me all these? How do you know about my hand?” Damola asked, his voice a little louder than a whisper.
“There is an enemy, there is a battle! If this world you now inhabit must survive, it will need you.”
“Need me for what? I have no interest in any battle.” Damola said and stood up. “If I am who you say I am, then tell me where Anne is, she is the only one that needs me.”
“You are not ready to face the enemy! You are yet to fully comprehend who you are.”
“Tell me where she is old man! Or I swear I will bring down all the thunder and fire and whatever else I control on you.”
“As i said, Patience has never been one of your virtues Sango but I must warn you; going after Oya now is losing the war before it has even started.”
“My war started the day Anne was taken!”
“If you survive this, you will only have regrets.” Orunmila implored him.
“I will survive this; gods do not die, do they?”
“No they do not die, but you will. You lost your immortality the day you dropped into the earth.”
“Then I guess I have to live as I have all my life that I can remember; as a mortal.”
He looked around his house and deep inside of him, he had a feeling it would be the last time he would see it.

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