CHAPTER 1 – The Darkness

Fire Fire Fire! Their mum screamed at the top of her voice.

Adanna, Condolesa! fire!, the house is burning , come out now now” . She tried going back in through the front door, but it was impossible, the fire had spread there already.

Adanna was plugged in so she didn’t hear the screams of her mother, beckoning on them to come out of the house. but she caught a whiff of something burning and also saw smoke; her first thought was the fried rice on fire. “oh jeez” she exclaimed and immediately unplugged her earpiece and ran out of the room to check the burning food but what she saw made her stumble back into her room. The whole house was almost engulfed in fire. It was then she heard her mum screams, telling them to come out. She ran to her sister’s room in order to get them both out of danger. But what Adanna saw on getting to her sister’s room was nothing she was prepared for. She was dead!!!

*****5 HOURS EARLIER******

“Service today was amazing, the teachings really cut through me deeply and I was greatly blessed” Adanna said.

“Yes, indeed, pastor Unini carries the power and presence of God” Condolesa, her younger sister replied.

“Girls” their mum called from outside

“Yes mami” they replied.

They usually call their mother mami as it was the nickname given to her by grandfather, while growing up.

“come and pack what’s left from the car, or do you expect me to carry them for you?” mama asked.

Condolesa and Adanna laughed and said ‘typical mami’ as they walked back to carry the fresh bread brought from church, the steaming hot moi moi and dispenser water from the car.

“Dad will be back this evening, his flight is for 3;15pm so latest by 6pm, he should be home” Mami told us.

“Yay, that’s good news, this means he will be back in time for dinner” Adanna said.

“yes, and dad never comes back empty handed” Condolesa added with evident excitement in her voice.

It was no news that Adanna was her dad’s favourite and Condolesa her mum’s best girl as she usually calls her and other times: ‘my daughter from heaven’. She asked them sometimes, ‘am I from hell’?

For the next thirty minutes as they sat on the dinning table having breakfast, they discussed service and other random things before mami finally said, “its okay girls, time for something else”.

They laughed in unison and waited for her to stand up first after which they both joined her as they carried the plates and placed it in the dish washer to be washed.

They usually didn’t have time to clean the house before service on Sundays, so they did it after breakfast when they got back. Condolesa and Adanna divided the chores and in two hours they were done with cleaning both upstairs, downstairs and the backyard. They also cleaned the two cars and played with soapy water whilst doing that. They were that fast because it wasn’t family environmental day.

“Mum, I’m going to Claire’s house, we have assignments to do and our first test starts tomorrow” Claire Rice was Adana’s best friend and only child of her parents.

“Okay dear, make sure you are back in time for dinner by 7pm to be clear and send my regards to Claire and her parents” Her mum replied.

“Sure, mami” She said and placed a brief kiss on her cheek then strolled out the front door.

She checked the time, it was 1:25pm meaning she had less than 6 hours to tackle her to-do list. It wasn’t going to be easy but she was sure damn good at multitasking.

She arrived Mr and Mrs Rice’s house at exactly 2pm and greeted her parents. She hugged her friend and they both walked to her family study room as that was where they usually dealt with their assignments and all.

Before they began business, they gisted and Adanna said: “Nina, guess what? Guess, who I saw today”

“who” she asked anxiously.

“David” she screamed, “OMG! he is so cool. We gisted for about two hours after service while mum was attending her deaconess meeting and he promised to come visit sometime”

“Wow, finally you have gotten his attention. aww, I am so happy for you, you guys should do fast and start dating so we can be hearing bae gist” she laughed as she made the last statement. “I can see the future; you both will become a thing now” Claire said and laughed at her failed attempt to be a clairvoyant and make her bestie gingered to get what she wants.

She laughed “The good things take time” She replied though imagining what her best friend just said. The thought gave her goose bumps, because she could actually picture it coming into reality.

“I hear you, please let’s start our homework, we have a lot to revise”

She loved Claire so much, she wasn’t just her best friend, she was also her twin and was as close as anyone could be to her, also very proactive, honest and always had her back. She also had very long hair just like Indians but hers was natural. She was light skinned and proud of it. Adanna usually teased her that it was her constant bathing and applying lotion that made her light as opposed natural birth.

“haha, you are just jealous jhoor.” Was always her response and they usually both laughed after. Their friendship was a solid one and everyone in school could affirm.

Claire handed her a short paper in which she listed probable topics likely to come out during the test for their area of concentration.

***********************************

Condolesa was half asleep and half awake when her mum stepped into her room and tapped her gently, ‘hey darling, sleep time is over, its time to cook dinner; remember your dad is arriving this evening after two weeks of travelling, he has got to have the best food yet’.

She turned to face her mother wishing she knew how she felt at the moment. if only she knew she hadn’t even slept up to one hour since. The time was 5:45pm and she had been trying to sleep since 2pm, all to no avail.

“Mum, I have not been feeling too good, after that moi moi, I ate. I have been going to the toilet since and haven’t even rested’.

She nodded and touched her body checking for her temperature and observed that it was normal, then laughed and said, “you this girl, you are only trying to sleep more and avoid working in the kitchen with me yeah?, okay o. rest well” She stood up not angry and left.

She honestly wished her mum knew that this time she was serious unlike the other times when she only feigned illness to avoid cooking. Cooking wasn’t her forte and her mum knew that so she didn’t believe her, but she couldn’t blame her, how could she?

After a while, “Mum, I’m back” Adanna screamed.

Her mum didn’t reply, the only thing or at least the only sound she heard was the one when pepper is being poured into hot oil, so she guessed she was in the kitchen. Adanna quickly changed and wore something more casual and went in to assist her in the kitchen. She loved cooking and doing chores. It made her happy and she was the hardworking one.

“You are back, how was it? were you able to achieve your set goals” her mum probed trusting to get a definitely answer.

“yes mum, glory to God. Where is Condolesa?” She asked though not surprised that her sister wasn’t in the kitchen helping out.

“she is in her room as usual feigning some sort of illness” she said jokingly.

Adanna laughed and continued to help her mother out. The fried rice was just put on fire while the chicken stew was ready so she dished it into the serving plate and placed it in the middle of the dinning table all in the bid of getting set for dinner but not before she took out one chicken and ate. It was hot, and she shook her hand and tried to rush the bite after which she instinctively dropped the remainder to cool down before setting her paws on it again.

Mami came into the kitchen and told her that dad’s flight had been delayed due to the bad weather in port Harcourt where he was, and they would be cleared soon so they haven’t taken off. They were both sad and Adanna had to go break the news to her sister. She entered the room and sighted her holding her tummy just as she came out of the bathroom.

“What is wrong” She asked genuinely concerned”

She replied “purging, since you left, I think my portion of moi moi was spoilt, I don’t know” she answered.

How is this possible, since it is the same woman we always buy from every sunday and there has never been any complaint. Are you sure, you didn’t eat anything else?”

‘No” she replied giving a stern look.

Adanna touched her sister’s body to feel her temperature, it seemed normal so despite seeing her sore face, she was a lot calmer.

“Sorry dear, just take a short nap and take the flagil and tetracycline mum gives you. it is well with you in Jesus Name. Adanna looked at her sister again with deeper concern “Dad’s flight was delayed, so he won’t be joining us for dinner but he is still coming today.”

“Okay” Condolesa simply replied.

“Alright then rest well, I’ll come fetch you when dinner is ready. But are you sure this isn’t one of your pretenses?”. She couldn’t help but ask even if she knew it was more.

“Does it look like I am pretending? You know when I am. This isn’t one of those times. Must my temperature be high before everyone knows I am serious about this stomach pain and purging”

“Okay o!” Adanaa agreed and took a step out of the room.

“I love you so much sister.” Condolesa called after her.

“I love you too” Adanna was shocked at her sister’s display of affection. She was not one to dish ‘love you’ around like that. She wanted to ask her if everything was okay but thought against it and left the room.

Condolesa watched her sister leave and sighed, then grabbed her camcorder, turned it on, said a few words and hissed softly as she stood up weakly from the bed and walked, taking her time and saving every little breath as she walked to the dressing mirror. Her camcorder was her journal, she had tons of cassette hidden under her bed. She opened the drawer and brought out a tablet and then, there was this sharp pain she felt in her stomach. She let out a loud scream and a deep sigh which apparently wasn’t loud enough, as no one came to her aid. Condolesa fumbled with the drugs and with so much pain she took them and went back to bed. But Just before she decided to forcefully sleep, Condolesa said a short word of prayer in fear

“Forgive me Lord for what I did,

I am sorry

Please don’t let me exposed

Please heal me

Amen!” and off she zizzed.

Adanna was still in the kitchen, checking the fried rice to see if it was soft and spicy enough. It tasted really good but wasn’t soft yet, she checked the time, it was 7:15pm.Β Dinner was going to be served late tonightΒ she thought and rested her body on the kitchen sink and then started to hum and then humming a song by ycee ‘omo alaji.’

The windy breeze and noise stopped her and she turned and mami’s voice stopped her

“oh no, this rain wants to fall” she said as she walked into the kitchen.

The wind was really heavy and followed by a large strike of thunder. The squall was obvious from the heavy clouds already. The breeze got stronger blowing round and caused the windows in the house to shake. it was the wonted thing when rain is about to fall and by that one could tell it was going be a heavy one.

“Adanna rush outside and pack the clothes from the line before rain falls on them” mami shouted.

“Okay, mum” she said as she rushed out.

It had started drizzling as rain drops were falling on her before she got back inside. She headed straight for her room to fold the clothes clothes and plugged her earpiece into her ears and played “frail love” by cloves whilst doing that. Indirectly, dinner had been shifted backwards.

Meanwhile, the kitchen window was open and the breeze blew the napkin straight to the gas fire and it started burning. It made the spread faster and soon enough the whole kitchen was lit, Mami looked round, she was surrounded and the only escape was the fire door behind her. Quickly, she rushed out the fire escape door and landed outside then ran towards the other side of the house where her girls’ rooms were and screamed as loud as her voice could carry and sustain her.

“Adanna, Condolesa fire!, the house is burning , come out now now.” She tried going back in through the front door, but it was impossible, the fire had gotten there already.

Adanna was plugged in so she didn’t hear the screams of her mother, beckoning on them to get out of the house. But she caught a whiff of something burning and could also see smoke; her first thought was the fried rice on fire. “oh jeez” she exclaimed and immediately unplugged her earpiece and ran out of the room to check the burning food but what she saw made her stumble back into her room. The whole house was almost engulfed in fire. It was then she heard her mum screams, telling them to come out.

She immediately ran to her sister’s room which was just next door to hers so as to wake her up so they could run out together. She screamed her name as she rushed into her room but there was no answer, she went to her and beat her to wake up, no response either. She was stone cold and not breathing.

She caterwauled “condolesa, wake up, fire!! please”

Still nothing, and the fire was getting close to the room at this point. There wasn’t any mother to call to come to, Their aid. It hadn’t dawned on her that she was dead as she tried lifting her body but was too heavy that they both fell on the floor together. Now the fire had spread up to Condolesa’s room. Adanna left her there and pushed the window open and jumped down not caring much about anything as there wasn’t any other option. It was either that or get burnt.

She was out of words. Who would she tell that Condolesa was dead already, who would believe her.Β How did this happen? They talked just a few hours ago.

She landed on the hard ground with so much pain that she knew that her arm was dislocated. Thankfully, it was a two storey building so the fall wasn’t so high.

Mami rushed towards her and stopped to look, expecting her other daughter to come jumping down too but no one else showed “where is Condolesa, where is your sister, answer me ,where is she?, she asked furiously.

Just as she made that last statement the whole house, their house or rather former house burst into flames. Five minutes passed by as she watched their house burn and her sister in it before the fire fighters came and put off the fire to avoid spreading to neighboring houses.

Again, “where is my daughter, what happened, why did you leave her there, why, How could you?” Mami asked after she regained balance from the explosion.

“Mami, she was de…….ad already before I got to her room. she was cold, mum. I tried to carry her but she was too heavy, I couldn’t!” she cried uncontrollably as she explained to mama.

“You are a liar, you only saved yourself, your sister was sleeping. why did you leave her, why?” She clamped her hands on Adanna as if in a beating.

Adanna had no strength in her to explain any further, she was hurt from the fall and she was feeling dizzy already. All she could do in her exhausted and shocked state was cry. Tears that could fill an ocean that she never knew she had in her. It was certain some unconcerned citizens wondered how much water and salt there was in her that she could cry all those tears.

Neighbors tried to pull her away from her mother and tried to console them on the loss of their house, sister and child at once.

“No, this can’t be happening” Mami screamed.

Adanna watched the scene before her and the reality hit her like a heavy truck load of goods on high speed. She felt the darkness overwhelm her and she gladly let it, because the life she had was over…

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