A Heavy Price
Filed Under: Short Stories
Date Created:10 Feb 2017
Last Modified:10 Feb 2017
Number of Views: 717
Royd pulled the hood over his head and made his way hastily down the dirt and muddy path. He heard footsteps behind him; a heavy, rhythmically haunting footfall. He dived behind a bush on the side of the path, his heart in his mouth. Carefully, slowly, he rose, craning his neck, to catch a glimpse of whoever was following him. But he saw no one. The hair on the back of his neck standing on end, he slowly emerged from the bush, snapping his neck in virtually all directions.
The sun was just about setting, and darkness was coming in quickly. Just the way he preferred it. The darker it was, the harder for anyone to recognize him. He walked briskly, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his jean trousers.
“Just my damned imagination,” he muttered to himself, but he was not sure.
Within a minute, he was standing outside an old, rusty gate. Beyond the gate, a foreboding darkness that made his stomach squirm. He breathed in deeply and pulled the gate open. It whined noisily in its hinges, swaying the heavy lantana hedge that hugged the pole to which the gate was hinged.
He quickly closed the gate behind him and took a cursory look around to ensure that no one had followed him. He carefully made his way up the graveled drive way, and at the end of it, followed a path that was nearly hidden by heavy grass. At the end of the path was a small house, barely visible, but its white door stood like a beacon in the darkness, luring him forward.
He knocked on the door three times. His knock thudded dully on the soft wood. He stood back expectantly. He could feel his eyeballs pressing against the rims of his eye sockets.
“Come in Royd,” a gruff voice said from somewhere inside. He shuddered, but went ahead and turned the cold, rusty knob. He pulled the door, but it did not budge, and he realized that he had to push it instead, which he did tentatively.
A strong, harsh smell of dried fish mingled with a cocktail of other smells that he could not immediately identify hit his nose, making it twitch. For a moment, he saw nothing, but then he spotted him from the corner of his eyes: a white, hazy form seated on the floor, his legs crossed, looking into a plate on the floor in front of him. He approached cautiously.
The old man, clad in white linen that covered most part of his body, motioned him with the white sleeve of his linen towards the stool in front of him. He sat down slowly, his hands clasped together in front of his stomach, his thumbs working, drawing little invisible circles around each other. The old man’s linen appeared to be glowing.
“Welcome, Royd,” the old man said, his white, long beard the only thing he saw moving up and down in apparent agreement with his voice. The room was dark, just the way the old man preferred it; and nearly empty. There was a large white curtain behind him, extending all the way from the floor to the ceiling-less roof. Behind the curtain was where the old man always disappeared to collect one or two items that he would bring and give him; and with a stern voice, he would give explicit instructions that had to be followed to the letter.
“Thanks Baba,” Royd said, a little quiver in his voice.
“I bet you are wondering how I knew it was you before you even entered?” he chuckled.
Royd shook his head. “No. Baba knows everything. He has the great eye on his forehead that sees everything.” He said so, but with a bit of doubt deep within him, for all he saw was a dense blackness in the space where he assumed his face was. Not even the white of his teeth showed.
“Yes, I see everything. The ancestors have given me this gift.”
“Good. So did you do the ritual?”
He nodded vigorously. “Yes Baba, I did, just like you said. I took the two root powders, mixed them with the portion in that little bottle. I put them in the bowl, and with a little bit of my blood, and thoroughly mixed them. And when my wife was not looking, I put the mixture in her bathing water.”
Baba laughed with pleasure. His voice was grating, and Royd felt like scratching the tunnel of his ears, but, he sat very still, his hands still clasped, his thumbs still working.
“You did well, Royd.” Royd thought he saw the outline of a slim hand move from the bowl on the floor to his beard, apparently to scratch it, but he was not so sure. “But are you ready for the last part of the ritual?”
“Yes, Baba. I am very much ready. Tell me what I must do to gain riches unnumbered, and to be liked by all people.”
“You have done everything. There is just one little detail remaining.” There was a bit of hesitancy in his voice, so slight Royd never caught it.
“Tell me, Baba. I am ready.”
“You have already sacrificed your wife’s womb. All the children she bears will not see the sun and they will not breathe the world’s air. This is enough to give you riches unnumbered. But to be liked by all men, there is one detail you must do.”
Royd sighed, anger slowly building in his heart. He hated that the old man underrated him. “Tell me Baba. I am ready for anything.” He reiterated.
“Okay, I will tell you.” Baba’s beard, along with is upper torso, bent forward, and Royd figured he was peering into the bowl as if it was a bottomless pit. “To be loved by all men, this little detail you must do.
“Your sister has a child, a virgin. You must apply the power in the green bottle on your manhood, and you must sleep with the child. When the powder mingles with her virgin blood, the ritual will be complete, and all men will love you.”
Royd shuddered, and he felt fear scream up his spine, sending all the hair on his skin standing on end.
“But Baba, she is the daughter of my sister, my own flesh and blood. And she is very young besides.”
“Do you want to be loved by all men?”
“Yes Baba,” he said quickly, knowing too well that displeasing Baba could result in adverse consequences. “I will do as you say Baba, for I do want all men to love me.”
“Excellent. You may leave now. I no longer have any business with you.”
“But Baba… don’t you want anything in return?”
“I already told you: the fruit of your wife’s womb is all I need. It is more than enough payment.”
“Yes, Baba. I am leaving now.”
Royd got up to his feet, and literally fled, before Baba could change his mind.
It was a lovely Sunday morning, and the Church was literally on fire. The pastor’s voice exploded over the speaker, and everyone was on their feet clapping.
“As children of God, we are not supposed to be poor!” The pastor declared, his suit glistening in the stage light, as if embedded with a thousand tiny diamonds. “Our God, our Father, our Papa—he owns everything! So how can his children be poor?”
The audience applauded, their hands flying heavenwards, shouting ‘Amen!’ to almost every word the pastor spat out.
“So this month of February, I declare riches that cannot be numbered into your life! I declare promotion at your work places. I declare success in your business. If you have faith that these things will be yours, declare it with your own mouth and you receive!”
The audience erupted into chanting: “I receive! I receive!”
The pastor laughed a holy laugh, and broke into a dance as music emanated from the speakers, swaying his hefty body effortlessly.
Charity bit her lip as she scrapped her child’s stubborn hair into a pony tail. She was a beautiful young woman with alert eyes and well-defined facial features. She was agile, with a body of an athlete. She took pride in maintaining her shapely body, waking up early every day to go jogging before the rest of the world awoke.
“You are pulling too hard,” Mutinta complained, her eyes reddening. “It is hurting.”
“Aw, Miss Grade Seven can’t handle a little bit of pain,” she mocked.
“I can,” Mutinta said sulkily. She was a short, slim girl, her body very much like her mother’s, but way smaller of course.
“Good, then don’t complain. Beauty is pain.” Charity snapped and then spun her around to face her. Mutinta staggered as she fought to maintain her balance.
“Mom,” Mutinta began, a hint of pained sadness in her voice, giving her mother a doe-eyed stared. “When is uncle Royd leaving?”
“Come now, be nice. He can stay for as long as he likes. Besides, he is helping out with the church. You know Pastor Banda is out on leave and Uncle Royd has to fill in, right?”
“I know ma.” She bit her lip, and Charity thought she saw the glister of tears in her eyes. “But it hurts… what he does. It hurts between my legs.”
Charity sighed and placed her hands on her child’s shoulders. “I know darling. But it will only be for a little while. You know Uncle Royd is helping us pay for your school after Daddy died. Just endure for a little while; and then it will be over.”
Mutinta nodded. Hot, big tears splattered out of her eyes and Charity pulled her close into a tight hug, her own eyes watering.
“It will be alright, darling.” She cooed. “It will be alright.”
It was after midnight, and Mutinta was fast asleep, and dreaming. In her dream, a man was standing next to her bed. He was a dark form, standing very still, looking down at her with red, fiery eyes. She tried to scream for her mother, but she was paralyzed.
She watched with terror as the man climbed onto her bed, and on top of her. He was as heavy as a truck. She fought to breath as his body pushed down on her heavily, the soft mattress beneath her swallowing her. She felt him clasp her tiny legs with his strong hands, digging his nails into her skin, and force her legs apart. She could only squirm as he thrust a large, long stick into her. It burnt like fire on its way in. The intensity of the pain knocked her out cold.
“Good morning, Charity!” Royd greeted with a merry little chuckle. He was dressed in large shorts and a white vest, his large stomach peeping below the vest.
“I’m good Royd,” Charity responded, downing a glass of water. She was dressed in her jogging attire, her slacks hugging her body firmly. She noted with a little excitement that Royd was ogling her, his large eyes dancing with mischief. He walked towards her and stood behind her, leaning heavily into her. She closed her eyes and trembled as Royd ran his lips on the back of her neck. His lips sent little electric waves down her spine.
“Give it to me Royd,” she said thirstily, thrusting her hand down his pants. “Give it to me now!”
Royd grinned and was just about to spin her around to face him when they heard a squeal come from Mutinta’s bedroom.
“Mutinta!” Charity said in alarm tearing out of his strong grip. She thudded up the stairs with Royd at her heals.
“Mutinta are you alright honey?”
She literally kicked the door open and came to a grinding halt, Royd smacking into her back. She felt all the blood drain from her body. Her knees gave way, and she crumbled to floor.
Royd moved to pick her up but he stopped and felt his heart freeze cold, his eyes riveted onto Mutinta, who was dangling from a long, navy school necktie, tied hastily to the lamp cable that snaked out of the low ceiling. Her tongue was sticking out of her mouth untidily with a bit of blood trickling to her chin. Her eyes were popping out of their sockets and seemingly gazing with a haunting sadness at him. Nearby, on the floor, a chair lay on its back, as if it had been knocked down in the struggle.
Anger imbued him, forcing his heart to squirt hot blood into his veins as he remembered Baba’s words:
“Yes, you will be loved by all men and women. They will blindly follow you. They will give in to your deepest darkest desires. But there is a heavy price to pay. Make sure the child does not die, otherwise everything will fall apart; and you will never see the world the same again.”
There was always a heavy price to pay; and you never knew what it was until it was too late. Royd tore his clothes off his body and burst out of the room, bounding down the stairs, laughing and giggling like a child.
© 2017 All Rights Reserved to Michael Sinkolongo
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