Stephen walked into his apartment exhausted. He closed the door, careful to register the click that signified his anti-burglary alarm kick in. No level of exhaustion could stop him from ensuring the good health of his alarm. He was a truthful man. His number one rule was never to lie to himself.
With this oath of sincerity in place, it wasn’t long when he had summarized the entirety of his life on two firm truths. One, he knew death. Two, he feared death. How could he not? He had witnessed its supreme power. He was a firm believer- in death.
When he was twelve, his family had been returning from their usual two-week Christmas village vacation when their car had run off the road. He had spent six months in the hospital as a result. Four out of them, unconscious. His parents and elder brother had not been so lucky.
At sixteen, his only friend had fallen from a tree and broken his neck immediately. He had thought fate was finally consoling him for the sorrow of his past years when he gained admission on scholarship to the university at only twenty but it was not a month later when his lodge was robbed.
Right there, his roommate had been slashed with a machete from head to the abdomen for refusing to reveal where his school fee was hidden. The robbers had been acting on information. After that, no one had advised him to run for protection.
Stephen was already at his bedroom’s door when he changed his mind and headed to his study. He should enjoy the tranquil atmosphere that he had created for himself there before bed.
He took a minute to take it all again. His study was beautiful and he knew it. He had personally supervised its design after all. The six paintings on the wall, the wine and ash coloured interior, the chic furniture, all combined to scream “class” to whosoever cared to listen.
He turned in his chair, nodding unconsciously. This was how it was meant to be. This was exactly how he liked it. This was the life he had created for himself.
He had only announced his interest to join the State House of Assembly four months ago but he had already taken extra precaution- bodyguards and an armoured car.
You could never be too careful, especially in this game. His mind soon wandered to a recent tragedy concerning a colleague. Unconsciously, he began to finger his hidden bulletproof vest through his Agbada.
He smiled as he remembered his school days in Uniben. Others had been running to the popular witch doctor at the school’s second gate for money. He had gone only for protection. His belief in hard work and persistence never allowed him to take the easy-money route. Of course, he was proved right. He was not yet 30 when he made his first million.
Stephen listened to the silence of his house. He waited to see if he would find regret in his heart on his decision to remain alone but he found none. He’d seen enough of couples to know that marital problems could shorten a man’s lifespan by half.
For someone trying to live his best, such a substantial subtraction was not needful. Plus, he could get women whenever he wanted without the extra baggage.
Smiling self deprecatingly, Stephen wondered why he was remembering the old days today. He was only fifty-two but here he was reminiscing like an old man. Maybe he was entering a new phase of his life, who knew.
As he swivelled on his seat for perhaps the tenth time, the calm that was his moments ago, suddenly began evaporating. He felt the prickling sensation of being watched. He turned to the door, sighting the figure in front of it. As it moved, he saw it was a young man, pretty not handsome, his face white as chalk.
His first thought was that his house alarm had not sounded. “Who are you and what are you doing here?!”, He asked calmly. He was not called Strongman for anything by his counterparts.
The figure did not answer. Instead, he began walking around the room, studying the collection of paintings. He looked fondly at one of them throwing Stephen a quick smile. “1912. Yes, I remember.” The smile widened. “I knew the man that drew this”. He was pointing at a drawing of a child spoonfeeding her mother. “‘The Mother’s Helper’, yes, that’s what she called it.” He turned back to his assessment.
Stephen licked his lips. He tasted the salt there. He thought he had heard the man say 1912. His Air conditioner was on so, he should not be sweating so much. He gathered himself together. Only his voice betrayed him. A slight tremor accompanied his question. ” I said who are you?!”
Matter of factly, the intruder stated, “You know me”. He was now studying another painting, nodding regularly, as he internalized whatever revelation he was getting.
Indeed, the intruder looked familiar, like Stephen had met him before…or more than once. His family flashed in his mind eye, his friend, his roommate, even his colleague. He swallowed heavily, “I do not”.
The intruder threw a distracted thumbs up at him as if to say, “whatever you say, boss”
Stephen licked his lips again. Fear was doing something to his heart. With it was accompanied pain, “How did you get in?”
The intruder turned to him immediately at that, smiling. “Stupid question. No place can keep me out. I have the supreme power…for this season” he added as an afterthought.
“There’s no way you’re who I think you are. I’m fortified, nothing can touch…”
For the first time since this strange discussion started, the intruder faced him.”Do you mean the same fortification I gave you?” The smile on his face sent chills down Stephen’s spine. There was only hopelessness it offered. At that moment he knew what he feared most had come for him.
The tears came then. Unhindered they poured like rivers. He wasn’t sure why he cried, maybe it was fear, maybe it was because he felt like his heart was being squeezed. “This is wrong”, he gasped. “This is not supposed to happen. Please, this isn’t true”
“Shhhh, Stephen. Don’t feel bad.” His voice like he was petting a cute but errant child. “You’re not the only one that has tried. Others will too. No one can escape…”. A thought must have distracted him because suddenly irritation covered his face. “…except The Untouchables” He trailed off.
“Who…what are they?” Stephen managed to gasp out, using his reserve energy. He was a good businessman. He should at least find out where he had failed.
“They are dead people. I cannot kill what is already dead,” the intruder stated. “Don’t worry you’re not among them.” He sat on the floor where Stephen was now laying unmoving. “But you? You, I can touch,” He was his happy self again.
The next day, Mr Stephen was found collapsed in his beautiful study. He had died of a heart attack, his hands still clinging to the protection beads around his waist.
[“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” – Jesus (Rev 1:18)]
#30dayWritingChallenge #Day2 #Death