This short story first featured on SankofaMag.com on January 2, 2016, For those who didn’t read then, I have decided to share it here. Hope you read and enjoy it.
A bright light pierced the dark forest around us, and I saw Red drop to his knees and start to vomit blood. He then fell to the ground and started to convulse like he was having epileptic seizures. After a few seconds, he became still. I did not need to be told, Red was dead. I looked from my dead friend to the source of the light, and I saw the boy. For the first time in my life, I felt a bone-chilling, terrifying fear.
Red (He called himself Red Arrow, but we shortened it to Red and it stuck), Eric, Shadow his brother, and I were the sons of night, we did everything and anything, assassinations, robberies, kidnappings, ritual killings, human trafficking, and drugs. Our client base was as varied as our work, the high and mighty contacted us. Politicians who wanted their opponents bumped off, businessmen who wanted their associates or rivals eliminated, people who wanted their wealthy relatives kidnapped for ransom. It is amazing that once you chose a life of crime, there is a seemingly endless list of people who need your services. We had contacts and informants everywhere, even within the police force. We were deadly and unstoppable, men feared us and women warned their children about us in hushed tones. The night held no fear for us. Darkness was our mother, she protected our activities and we were her sons.
It all started the evening we kidnapped him, he was eighteen or nineteen, walking alone on a deserted alley at twilight, he wore an old leather jacket over an old grey T-shirt, on an equally old and faded pair of blue jeans. His canvas shoes had also obviously seen better days. We initially thought he was one of those drifters who went from town to town looking for odd jobs, but he did not look like a drifter, his close-cropped hair was black and shiny, he had no hair on his face, and his skin was soft as a baby’s, no signs of those calluses which characterized a supposedly hard life. That was the first sign that should have rang the warning bells that he might not be what he appeared to be. When we grabbed him and shoved him into the boot, He did not shout or even struggle, but we didn’t care. If he had a death wish, it was not our problem. We had an adult male ready for the client who needed him for a ritual, what were we to do? Reject him?
Throughout the time he was in the hideout, he did not demand food or water. He did not even say a word, he just stared blankly into space. We thought he was just a regular creep and left him alone, the client who wanted him would have to deal with him. I, however, noticed whenever I took food or water to him, he would move his mouth almost imperceptibly and a wave of nausea and dizziness would wash over me for few seconds. Because these bouts of nausea were so short, I never thought to as the others about it, or link it to whatever our captive was doing.
Then the day before the client who needed him was due to collect him, He vanished. It was Shadow who went to check on him and discovered that he was no longer there. There were no footsteps leading in or out of the room, the windows and the doors were left undisturbed, there was no trace that he had escaped through the ceiling either. We searched the bushes around the house looking for telltale traces of footsteps leading into the bush. We found nothing. Our captive had vanished into air.
Initially, other than the minor inconvenience of having to find another victim for the client who had demanded the boy, it didn’t faze us when he disappeared. Our hideout was in the middle of a thick forest and he was blindfolded as he was brought in. So unless he had a sixth sense, there was no way he was going to find his way out of the forest (It didn’t occur to us that someone who could disappear without a trace from a locked room could as well have a sixth sense).We alerted our contacts just in case he turned up. But after about a week, nobody found anything resembling our captive, we felt it was over, He had probably gotten lost in the forest and died of hunger. Even if he did manage to get to the police our informants would see to it that he could never expose us.
The night it happened, the four of us were in the hideout, plotting, and planning. Our stocks were running low and clients were starting to complain. Furthermore, our informants among the police were starting to come under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. One had even been caught trying to provide us with information, but his colleagues found a way to kill him before he implicated us all.
Among the four of us, an empty bottle of Vodka lay on its side and another half full stood next to it. “Guys” Eric started: “I really think we need to change this hideout, we have been here for too long it is starting to bring us bad luck especially since that boy disappeared, don’t you see?” “Dude relax” I countered him “the boy has only been gone for a week plus, surely it is too early to conclude that it is his disappearance that is affecting us”
“No mind the guy,” sneered Red “On top say one cargo disappear and them arrest Corporal John na im make fear dey catch am, ‘im come dey shake like woman. Nawa for this guy o!” Shadow was quick to leap to his brother’s defence “But na true the guy talk now, which one of our hideouts we don tey like this place?” “Guys” I cut in before the exchange got more heated “Before we start talking about a change of hideout, I hope you all remember that Chief Sunday is coming to collect one of his overdue goods in two days. You are not talking about how to find him a new-born baby?”
Shadow replied ” You sef which kind talk you dey talk again? No be Janet be our baby supplier? No be to just halla am, make she bring material come?
“Well you are correct,” I replied, but I am starting to have my doubts about that girl, something is not just right about her.” If you are starting to have doubts about her, suggest somewhere else or keep your doubts to yourself.” Eric fired at me and ignored the evil glare I gave him in return as he poured himself another glass of vodka and downed it in one gulp. He added “I am going to ease myself” as he staggered out of the house. After about twenty minutes of discussion and no Eric, it was Red who spoke up “Shey na piss Eric go piss since, abi him don go dey do another thing?” The words were scarcely out of his mouth when a concussive boom blew the burglary proof windows apart and showered us with broken glass. Seconds later Eric’s decapitated head came flying through the space where the windows had been, followed by the rest of his body a short while later. The three of us screamed in unison. It was not as if we had never seen a decapitated head before, it was the way Eric’s remains had been gruesomely mutilated. The lower half of his face was gone, his skull had been cracked and half of his brain had been eaten away. The husk itself looked like it had been slashed from thorax to abdomen with butcher’s knife. His entrails spilled out from his body, but his heart and his liver were gone, so were one of his hands to the shoulder and one of the legs to his abdomen. The three of us turned from looking at the remains of our comrade to looking at each other, too shocked for words. Then suddenly Shadow let out an otherworldly scream, fell to the floor and started to gurgle and convulse. That broke the stasis Red and I had been in. We both tried to hold him down, but he flung us away like rag dolls. Red and I scrambled back to our feet just in time to see Shadow stop convulsing and turned to face us. His bloodshot eyes were glazed over and unfocused like he was somewhere far away. Then in a whispery voice far different from his typical deep, rumbling bass, he said: “You haven’t seen anything yet” then he jumped out through the open window and disappeared into the dark forest, I never saw him again. That was the cue Red and I needed to run out of the house like we had demons on our tail. We had no particular place to run to, we just wanted to get away from whatever was messing with us.
“Please don’t kill me” the words came out in a fear-wracked hoarse whisper that I could barely recognize as my own voice. The boy grinned wickedly, perhaps it was only my imagination, but I thought I could make out his long canines in the light. “Why should I kill you, when I have work for you?” I latched onto that statement “Please I will do anything, just don’t kill me.” his grin widened into a laugh “You call yourself the sons of the night not so?” “Ye… Yes! We do” I croaked. “Well unlike you I am the real son of the night and I have an assignment for you that would take us across space and time.” Perhaps it was the courage that I would not die after all that prompted me to look up at him. His hair which had been close-cropped was now long and blood red, his eyes were also blood red and his irises and pupils were gone. That night for the first time that I could remember, I felt a spine-chilling, blood-curdling, terrifying fear.
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