Tag Archives: flash fiction

Strange Waking

Nina stirred in the dead of the night and felt the sand on her cheek, arms and legs. Her eyes shot open and went wild. She was outside! On the bare ground.

Thick darkness was all around her and the creepy trees swayed their branches and the leaves rustled in the wind behind the fence around the compound.

She could not withstand the cold chill which ran through her when an owl howled. It was a scary night.

‘Not again!’ She muttered, picked herself up and trotted to the door. As usual, the door was locked. She had locked it before going to bed. It’s incredible to think that whatever that was taking her did not need an open door to get outside with her.

Her eyes darted to the fence when dry leaves rustled on the ground behind it before she heard footsteps and saw flashes of a touch light up in the tree. She clutched her breasts in her palm and sighed in relief. It’s a fruit picker checking for dropped ripe mangoes and apples behind her house.

That was not the first time she woke up on the bare ground outside the house after retiring in the bedroom. In fact, it was the fifth time. She tied her spare keys around her waist now so she wouldn’t be locked out.

Nina was a widow who had five children. They had all grown, established and living in the city.

Her predicament started after the funeral of her husband. She was alone eating her dinner one evening when the food in her bow vanished. That was the scariest day of her life.

The shame of telling someone about her predicament was so heavy that her lips were sealed by it. But at a point, she needed to talk about it.

When she told the neighbours and friends what happened, they were horrified.

‘You could be sleepwalking. There are many people like that.’ Her friend said, ‘You know, you can walk in your sleep, without knowing it?’

‘No,’ Nina said, This is more than sleepwalking. The doors remained untouched each time.’

‘Call a man of God to pray for you,’ her closest neighbour said. ‘It’s not ordinary. Something must be wrong somewhere.’

She met a man of God. The day he came, he said it was an evil spirit. He bound and chained the spirit and told her everything was fine again.

But that same night, her dinner did not just disappear, the plates she put the dinner in vanished with it and till this moment, she had not set eyes on them. The next day, slept in her bedroom but found herself on the bare ground outside the compound. From that day on, she found herself outside once a week.

Deep down, she knew her predicament was contending with a powerful spirit which was bent on disgracing her. She needed to be strong in prayer to put it in its proper place. But no amount of personal prayer and fasting could help her.

Nina’s children took her to a prophet. He revealed its the spirit of her husband’s grandfather whose funeral was not conducted.

Nina could not believe it. The man died many years ago and her husband did not talk much about him. Why did he come to her?

‘You must celebrate his funeral or things will continue the way they are.’ The prophet said. ‘Fix a date for his funeral, invite people, serve them food and drinks and play loud music. Make an announcement that his funeral is taking place. This is the only solution.’

‘Can’t you pray and chain his spirit forever? The dead and the living have no business with each other.’ Nina’s son said.

‘The dead should be properly laid to rest or they would wander on earth, seeking for their rights.’

Nina’s son’s laughter echoed in the prophet’s office. He shook his head and said, ‘Man of God, once a man dies, he has no idea of what is happening on earth anymore and has no connection with the world of the living.

Nina did not believe the prophet either. But she wanted to be free. She could do anything to solve her problem.

‘We’ll do it,’ she said. Her son glared at her as if she had gone insane.

Two months later, they did what the prophet said. That brought the end to her strange waking. Up till now, she found the mystery behind life after death hard to explain.

Mystery in itself is beyond man’s understanding.

Saving The Late

She glided across the sea to Lily. But, the further she swam, the farther she appeared. As her strength began to wane, she felt a hand around her trunk, pulling her away.

She felt the darting spasm from within her heart as her little girl kept calling. “Mommy! Mommy!!” Her voice shrilling and desperate.

She opposed the pull feebly before yielding. Her tears dropped and mingled with the vast blue sea.

As Mark dropped her by the shore and panted, she sobbed. He took her further away from the sea and stood to look at her messed up frame.

“I couldn’t rescue her again. It’s all your fault. Why do you hate her so much to watch her drown?She asked him as the sharp pain lingered, this time piercing through her heart to her very soul.

“Can’t believe we’re doing this again,” Mark said. It’s obvious he’s fed up.

“I saw her again. Believe me. I saw her, a few minutes ago. She wore the same….” She paused to look at him. “You don’t believe me? You don’t believe me, right? Do you think I’m hallucinating? As usual? You think I’m still being delusional?”

“Honey, she’s no more. Lily isn’t out there. She’s resting now. I don’t want to lose you too. Please stop this.”

“No. No. No. Don’t say that ever again. She didn’t….. She’s alive.” she sobbed

“I know she’s living in heaven. We’ll definitely meet her again someday. But for now, please, live. I need you.”

“No. Not heaven. I didn’t mean heaven. I meant she’s somewhere in the sea, calling for help. Help me save her. That’s not too much to ask.”

“She’d gone since thirteen months for heaven’s sake. For how long are we going to go over this? When will you stop? I’m getting tired of keeping you away from drowning each day.”

“All I need from you right now is to believe me when I say she’s alive,”

Tears rose to his eyes and he sat down on the beach close to her, helpless.

Lily was four at the time. Full of life, very cute and smart – their pride.

~

It happened the day a friend invited them out for a beach picnic. After eating, they all chatted and played. Lily was building a sand castle close to where they were. Mark was supposed to keep an eye on her. Grace had always trusted him so much because he was always careful whenever they were out at the beach.

Somehow they all got carried away and within a few minutes, Lily was missing. They searched and searched until her body was found floating on the sea.

They were all devastated by the terrible occurrence and the family and friends mourned for her.

A month after Lily’s burial, everything had gone back to normal and everything was going well until Grace woke up one midnight and asked him for the car keys.

Unconsciously he showed her where it was but somehow looked at the alarm clock on the side table.

It was 1:47 am.

He jumped up to his feet by intuition before she could drive away. She was too fast but he was fortunate enough to get his smart frame into the car.

She drove. Very fast.

“Where are you going?” He asked.

“I need to save her.” She said speeding up the more.

“Save who?” He shouted in confusion. He was very nervous and yet to understand what was happening.

“Lily,” she said and he looked at her, even more confused. She looked like hell.

At the sea, Grace stepped out of the car before he could unlock his jammed door. She had already jumped into the cold water swimming across by the time he stepped out, her voice echoed as she assured Lily she would soon save her.

He swam fast and caught her by her trunk and dragged her out of the water. She blamed him vehemently for stopping her.

It pained him to think that Grace had lost it. But that’s just the fact.

~~

“There she is again.” she got up. “Can you see her? She’s calling! Do something honey! Please do something to help her. Save her. Save my baby. Save my ba…” she screamed.

He struggled with her to stop her from running into the sea again but she was too strong like some enormous force was behind her, she swam, deeper, he followed.

She disappeared into the sea before he could reach her. He waited as he scanned the vast sea.

Mark saw her struggling for life and swam fast to rescued her. At the shore, he put her in the car and drove straight to psychiatric hospital.

It was 5;15 am when they arrived at the hospital.

~~~

“Go save Lily! Go save my daughter. She’s calling. I dont want to ever see you again until you bring her to me.” she would always sob and scream at him completely overcome by hysteria each time he visited her.

“What do I do doctor?” he asked the doctor one day when it seemed like she was not improving.

“Nothing. Let’s wait and hope she gets well. I believe she’ll be fine.” The doctor said as they both watched her through a secret see-through.

“Is there any place in this world where there are no water bodies?” Mark asked, absent minded.

The doctor kept quite but thoughtful.

“I would like to take her there, away from the sea when she gets well.”

Big Dream

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”Walt Disney


Altoe Sert Company Limited, within its anti-climb mesh fence, looked huge, alluring, magnificent, above standard, unique, progressive and all.

There it stands!

Right before us!

Looking like the opulence of the entire globe.

Our captivated senses held on it as we approached, never to let go.

We must stay focused. No looking back. No distractions. No diversions. We must belong here as part and parcel of Altoe Sert.

We walked to the nearest gate with GATE1 written on it and waited to be let in. The surveillance camera kept staring at us. Our worth must be exposed to its scrutiny.

After a couple of minutes, I flipped the bell switch again. A man’s voice boomed through the speaker we never knew existed below the camera and our eyes rushed to it.

‘Good Morning young men, what can we do for you?’

“Good morning sir! We’re here for jobs sir,” I replied boldly and watched Ikedi nod in affirmation.

“What are your names?”

“Obinna J. Obinna sir”

” Ikedi James sir.”

“Here on the invitation?”

“No,”

“Really?”

“Yes, sir!”

“You are?”

“No, sir!”

He paused for a moment and looked at our heads thoughtfully.

“Well, presently, there are no job openings in our company.”

“Sir please open the gate. We need to drop our resume with the HR department.”

“Sorry, that’s not how it’s done here. Job applications are online. Visit our website to apply under career.” With that, the speaker went dead.

We lingered at the gate for a while before seeking shade.

A lady walked by where we sat waiting for nothing. Going by her appearance, she worked at Altoe Sert. I walked to her before she reached the gate, and my friend, Ikedi followed.

“Hello please, spare us a minute.

“Okay.”

“I want to find out something from you, please. You work at Altoe Sert, right?”

“Yes. Yes” she nodded proudly.

“Please we’re job seekers, and we’re interested in your company. How do we go about getting a job?”

“Online application only. You’ll have to apply online. Employment here follow a strict procedure.”

“Okay. What are the expectations?”

“If your application scales through you’ll be contacted for the first stage of interview – online test. If you pass, there wll be a second stage – oral interview. This is followed by practical tests, then personality checks, before six months probation. If you’re lucky at the end, you’ll be fully employed with good pay and pleasing working condition.”

“That’s scrutiny,” Ikedi said as he jotted down some points about stages of the interview.

“Well, Altoe Sert is like the apex of electrical companies in Lagos, well sort after nationwide and recognised worldwide as among the best. To maintain its standard, the company is careful about choosing its workers. Altoe Sert must keep up not down and what keeps it up? The quality product and services it renders to its customers worldwide.” she said and frowned at her wristwatch.

“How often does employment take place here?” I asked as if I didn’t hear the praise she sang.

“The company is expanding and there’s an enormous need for more workers. That notwithstanding, getting a job here can be very very difficult because the employees come from all over the world. As you know, this is a foregn establishment – foreign investors are likely to be from Japan, UK and US.” Do you know with my master’s degree in Electrical design, it took me five years and a half to get in there? I threw a party after.” she giggled.

“You should. Why not?” I said and wished. I didn’t like listening to a pessimist. She shouldnt be an angel of doom, sent to dash our hopes and expectations. If we should listen to her, we would lose hope of ever getting a job in life. I didn’t really blame her, It’s because she didn’t know me. I was a die-hard job seeker and for the company before us, my zeal would make the unexpected happen.

“The thing is, it’s not just qualification that gets you there. You must be good at what you do and must be fast, smart thinker, ready to learn, learn and learn and then teach teach and teach fresh employees,” she said.

“That’s not a problem. We’re right for the job.” she studied me and smiled and I wondered what was going on in her mind.

“Oh! Break time is over. Sorry, I have to go now. All the best to you both.”

“Do you know someone who knows someone who could help us get in there?”

She laughed heartily and we joined her.

‘You’re such a joke! That company you’re seeing doesn’t work that way. If it did, the whole of this nation could have probably been among its employees.

“Thanks for your patience. What’s your name?

“Mercy.”

“I’m Obinna”

“I’m James.”

We shook hands and smiled together.

“May I have your contact, please.”

“Of course.”

She opened her purse and brought out her card. It read;

Mercy Ibietan, Electrical design department, Altoe Sert Company Limited. Contact...

I glanced at it, with the thought of what format to give mine before handing it over to Ikedi

All she said about the difficulty in securing a job there could be true but the truth should not be an obstacle.

My destiny should not be likened to that of another loser somewhere. I’m not a failure. So we shouldn’t be cast down and away. In fact, our hopes must be stronger.

“Ikedi, we’re coming back here tomorrow, very early before the workers.”

“To do what again?”

To show our faces to the Recruitment Officer.”

“How on earth are you going to enter there?”

“En route Mercy.”

I think she’s right. You’re such a joke.”

“I’m serious.”

“I know. first thing before coming back, we must go online and make our submissions.”

“Look, my friend, online application is a farce in this part of the world. How many people do you know who got their jobs through it?”

“Hundreds of people get jobs every day online. Don’t believe fake news about online job seekers being time wasters.”

“The truth is, online takes time, weeks, months or years to get noticed. I’m sure it works for Altoe Sert but I’m not casting all my eggs in one basket. I’m going to try many methods. A desperate desire requires desperate measures. I’m determined to break the protocols and go ahead to meet Officer in charge of recruitment. I want to penetrate into this company as soon as possible.”

Ikedi had since stopped talking as we went home by Keke Napep. He looked dead in his sleep.

*****

The next day, I dragged Ikedi out of his father’s two storey building and nagged him for idling around. He told me he wished his old man would fix him in his business. The man had told him to go into the world and bear good fruit.

He regretted having him as a father.

“Your father is wise you know. He wants you to stand on a solid ground on your bare feet and feel the sand and every other thing under there. He’s training you to be independent. It’s for your good.”

“Forget that. I’m his only son. Who is he making his money for if not me?”

“Well….” Then I saw Mercy coming!

I nudged Ikedi’s side and we braced ourselves, read to make use of the opportunity as planned. Her right shoulder was laden with her laptop. I ran to help her but she hurried away as if she had not set eyes on us before.

We hurried after her. At the gate, she stood before the camera and waited. We were right behind her and we were going to enter with her — as her friends.

“Mercy!” I whispered and she didn’t even act as if someone was there with her.

Remember us? Yesterday? During break? Remember?

A sensor light under the camera came on and the pedestrian gate opened. Mercy entered and as we were about to enter, the security alarm came on.

It was loud enough to alert the community around us. We kept cool and kept walking behind her. Then saw them! More than ten armed security officers of different sizes and colours!

“Is this a bank?” I asked myself because Ifedi was already out of the gate. I thought he was as daring as I was.

They caught and detained me in a cell- inside Alto Sert for a few hours. As I sauntered to the gate, downcast, I heard my name. The manager liked my zeal. He interview me and gave me a call the next day.

I got the job.

Cast Away

It was a cool evening on 5th October, the same week Nigeria got her independence and transition spirit filled every street of Aba. Helen’s twenty-first birthday was on the way, in addition to that, she was bursting with the loveliest news. When she tapped on his door, he opened it. She jerked on seeing his scary face. 

‘Sit down. We need to talk,’ he said. She dropped her bag on the cemented floor and lowered herself beside him in the colourful fabric cushion. her eyes were glued to his eyes, searching for a clue. 

‘Is there anything you would like to let me know? Concerning your background?’ her mind raced and her eyes rolled and the only secret she kept from him popped up in her mind. She was not going to tell him. Not now, not ever. A month ago, he proposed to her and she was not going to end the fascinating relationship with the truth.

‘Nothing that I know of?’

‘Are you an outcaste?’ she pulled her eyes from him and cast them on the floor before plopping her knees on it sniffing. 

‘My great grandfather was. He’s long gone. Does that make me one?’ 

‘Yes, it does and you knew this and didn’t tell me all along. Marriage between us is impossible.

She stood up.

‘What if I told you that your child is growing in me?’

‘That doesn’t change anything. Nothing can. You know what to do–’ he went the door and opened it for her to leave.

She went on all fours and crawled his feet and clutched on them. He stooped and held her shoulder and looked into her eyes. 

‘Marriage can’t happen between us because of who you are. Understand this and leave.’

‘What about our baby?’

‘I can’t have it. But if you want to keep it, that’s your decision. I’m not and will never be a part of that child, ’ he plucked his hands off her shoulders, opened the door wide, picked her arms and dragged her to it.

When she anchored her hands and feet on the door frame. He left her. She staggered back to the room. He rushed at her and pushed her out and slammed the door shut.

When he threw her bag out through the window, she knew it was over. She went crazy in the street. Residents peeped at her through their doors and windows. She knew what they thought of her; she was nothing but the girl who threw her body at a man who had not paid her bride price. She was shamed as she went home.

Four days later, she went back to his apartment but to her surprise,  he had moved out. Someone else occupied it. He was nowhere to be found.

Her tears fell on her mother’s laps for weeks. Eight months later, she had her baby girl.

She later put her in the convent where she would never experience the humiliations due to the people of her kind.

~~~~

More flash-fiction

Dreaming up

Two sisters sat on the fallen ancient wall behind the house talking. It was an intimate discussion and they hushed their words lest the ears of the shrubs heard. A basket waited beside their outstretched legs. Their elongated shadows sneaked behind them mimicking their every move. A man came to the house and Ginika said she did not like the way he gawked at her lovingly. Oge said he winked at her two times, he liked her.

‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ Oge said.

‘He likes the two of us?’ 

‘Yes. And he’s trying to choose a wife.’

‘Do you like him?’ Ginika said. Oge averted her eyes. She was the younger one and it’s not nice for two sisters to like the same man. But…

‘No. Yes. I think he’s nice.’ Do you?’

‘No. He’s not my type.’ Oge breathed her relief.

But when they returned to the house, the man was gone and papa told them why he came. He was getting married and had come to give him an invitation card.