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|The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:09am On Jan 10|
Outside the Community, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
“We don reach, na one-fifty.” the taxi driver announced. Osezele pulled out her purse and fished for the two hundred naira bill. As soon as she found it, she handed it over to the man who looked down his nose at it with a severe frown forming on his face.
“You get fifty naira?” he asked eyeing the passenger seated in the back seat. Osezele shook her head in response. “I no carry change,” he said, “it look like say you go dash me fifty naira.”
Osezele shook her head at the man again. She hated confrontation so if she’d had that money to spare, she would have given it to him. But as it was, she still had to get to the gate, and that was another forty naira ride, so she really couldn’t part with the money. She smiled at the man. “But sir, if I fit dash you fifty naira, you fit dash me fifty naira too. So just give me hundred if you no get fifty naira change.”
The driver was surprised by her response. “I’m a working man, I need the money.”
“I’m a student.” Osezele responded. “I dey secondary school.”
“Secondary school!” the driver exclaimed. “Ehn-ehn. You be small girl oh. Small girl wey look like big woman.” he turned around then, put his hand into his shirt pocket and pulled out a fifty naira bill. “Oya take.” he said, handing over the money to her.
A gentle smiled formed on Osezele’s lips as she looked at the money in the man’s hand, money he’d just lied about having. She took the change from him and said, “Thank you sir,” before getting out of the car.
As she watched the taxi drive off, she had to remind herself to breathe. The closer she got to the gates, the more nervous she became. Osezele tried to calm herself down by taking measured breaths, but so much hung on her ability to get through those gates without being caught. If they found out, she wouldn’t be walking out of that place, they’d never let her leave. Which meant that she’d never see her mother again, never gossip with her best friend Tolani and never gaze into Nosa’s eyes. She shook her head trying to physically force herself out of it.
“Breathe.” the deep familiar voice echoed through her head as if summoned by her distress. She remembered the first time they’d spoken, the first time he’d trained her for this. “What do you do when you’re trying to see something?” he’d asked. “Look.” she’d responded. He’d smiled at her and nodded slowly before saying, “Exactly. You tell your brain to look and it does. It’s the same way with your mark, you tell your brain what to do and it gets the message to the part of you that can do it. Don’t worry, don’t try to force it, just breathe and let your mind do the work.”
The jarring sound of a horn drew Osezele out of her memory just in time to see a motorbike roll to a stop in front of her. On top of the bike was a skinny young man wearing an oversize Chelsea jersey. He put his foot on the ground to keep the bike on that spot while he spoke to her. “Where you dey go?” he asked.
“Yonder there.” Osezele said, pointing down the straight road that led to those gates she dreaded.
“Behind the wire fence you no fit see?” he asked, his mouth hanging open in shock. Osezele nodded. “You know the kind people wey dem dey keep for inside there?” he asked. Again Osezele nodded. “You be small girl, wetin you dey find for inside there?”
“I dey go visit my aunty.” she responded.
“Your aunty dey for inside there!” his voice rose slightly, partly from shock, the other part from fear which Osezele pulled in like dust particles drawn into a vacuum. She had to close her eyes to hide her visceral reaction to the strong emotion. She nodded. “Oya enter, make we dey go.” the man responded.
Osezele’s hand went onto the black leather seat preparing to hoist herself onto it. She stopped midway to ask, “How much?”
“Two hundred.” the man responded.
Osezele’s hand came off the seat immediately. “Two hundred naira! Brother that’s too much oh! I fit walk to the gate from here.”
He chuckled. “If you fit walk, walk na. When you faint for middle of road, I go come pick you up, carry you there and charge that your aunty three hundred naira.”
Osezele smiled. “Ah-ah, no be forty naira?”
“Forty keh. Nah three hundred naira dey standard. I be want reduce price for you, if not na three hundred, ask anybody.”
“Na only fifty naira I get. I carry two hundred come from house, pay taxi one fifty. I no get any other money.”
“So which money you go use take go back home?” he asked.
“I go collect transport money from my aunty.” she responded.
The man looked her over before shaking his head and saying, “Oya pay me one fifty.”
Osezele laughed. “Na only fifty naira wey I carry.” she smiled at the man then and began walking away towards another bike.
“Wait.” the driver called out to her. She stopped and turned around. “Enter.” he said.
“For fifty naira?” she asked.
“I said enter.” he responded.
Osezele walked the short distance back to the man and climbed onto the back of the bike. Once the bike began to move, she wrapped her hand around the man’s waist to keep from falling off.
As they got closer, Osezele could feel the force of eyes peering into her, trying to break through the barrier she’d been taught to craft. She held on tighter to the driver, a little jealous of the oblivion he enjoyed. He wouldn’t feel the weight of those eyes. He wouldn't notice the augurs who had the gift of sight, the ability to find other marked, even the ones like her whose marks were hidden. And it wasn't just the augurs, it was the spotters as well. The spotters were bi-marked werewolf-augurs. They were the ones who hunted down the marked, the ones who, no doubt unknowingly, probed her as she got closer to the community.
The bike stopped a few feet away from a tall building. She looked around expecting to see big gates marking the perimeter of the community, the separation between the marked and unmarked. But all she saw was a tall-narrow glass building surrounded by a lot of trees, shrubs and empty space. Disheartened, she couldn’t hide the sigh of disappointment that escaped her lips.
“Why you dey shake? You dey fear? You better fear oh.” the driver’s voice sounded in her ear, forcing her to turn around. She shook her head about to respond when the man continued, “You know say dem dey turn to animal for night. I hear say dem go grow nail wey sharp like knife and teeth like dog go dey come out from their mouth. I even hear say dem get power ehn, the kind power where if they slap you, your head go commot from your neck. Tufiakwa! Nah witchcraft dey inside there.”
Osezele stifled the urge to respond with, ‘there’s witchcraft outside too.’ Instead, she smiled at the man and gave him the fifty naira bill she had in her hand. As soon as he took the money, he turned his bike around and sped off as quickly as he could away from the community.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:12am On Jan 10|
The Community, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
On the second floor of the guard house, Osezele walked from the ID room, where she’d had her fingerprints recorded for the first time, towards the small office where the interviews were conducted. This was where she really had to be careful. From her lessons, she knew that the interview would be conducted by an augur with two spotters standing behind her in the room. If she gave off any emotion that was too ill-suited to the occasion the spotters would catch it and she’d be taken to third check were blood was drawn. Apparently, they could tell from examining her blood if she was marked.
She stopped in front of the door to the office right when the door was opened by a woman dressed in a uniform that looked a lot like it belonged to the Nigerian military. The woman smiled warmly at her, before extending her hand for Osezele to go in. Osezele smiled back. Breathe. Don’t worry. Don’t force it. Breathe. Don’t worry. Don’t force it. She repeated the words in her head and they succeeded in calming her as she sat across a much older woman.
“Good afternoon young lady.” the woman greeted.
Breathe. Osezele reminded herself even as she started to feel the woman’s eyes poking into her, underneath her skin trying to find her. She thought back to her training, to what he’d taught her.
“What do you do when you feel someone looking at you?” He’d asked her. “Look back.” she responded. “Exactly. That’s how augur’s work. They have the gift of sight. The marked have enhanced senses. It’s like being in a world where most people are blind and only a few can see. The ones that can see are the augurs. They see everyone. Now the other marked are also blind, but their enhanced senses allows them to have an aura around them. Now augurs can see this aura only if they’re looking for it, or looking in that direction. But the spotters can smell it, that’s why they're so good at hunting us down. Now imagine that this aura is removed. What differentiates the other marked from the unmarked?” he’d asked. “Nothing.” She replied. “What about the augurs?” he’d asked. “They can see.” she replied. “But what if they closed their eyes?” he’d asked. She’d smiled then, understanding. “Then they’re just as blind as the unmarked.” she responded. “Right. But they’ve seen, so they know that they’re being watched. Our natural response to being watched is to search for the person watching. It’s a protective instinct, it’s how we find the enemy. If we feel danger coming our eyes open wide to collect as much information as possible. In the absence of eyes staring back, or an identifying aura, the augur tries to force you to look, by looking at you, by watching, by stalking. All you have to do is keep your eyes closed. Stay calm, breathe, and do not look.”
Breathe. She could feel the eyes now, they were watching her, almost as if they were hunting her. She felt a strong pull to look, to find her enemy, but she didn’t. She stayed calm.
“What is your name?” the woman asked.
Osezele cleared her throat, her heart beating quickly. She was afraid. The woman wouldn’t be able to tell, but the spotters would, they would smell it in the sweat coming off her, and hear it in the increased rate of her heartbeat. But she’d learned about all this, she already knew about werewolves, they wouldn’t be able to tell why she was afraid, and she knew most people would be afraid coming in here. So, her fear was fine, it was actually good.
“Osezele ma.” she responded. “Osezele Omorodion.”
“Miss Omorodion. How are you doing today?” the woman asked.
She smiled at the woman’s accent. It reminded her a lot of her best friend Tolani who'd once corrected her saying that way of speaking was ‘good diction’ and not ‘talking like oyibo’. “Fine thank you ma.” Osezele responded.
“And who are you here to see?”
“My aunty. Odion Omorodion.”
“How is she related to you?”
“She’s my mother’s t – sister.” Osezele immediately caught herself before she’d completed the word twin. She’d been specifically warned against that. It wouldn’t matter that they didn’t see the mark. If they found out that her mother was the twin of a marked, they’d do further tests, including a blood draw. Luckily the woman didn’t catch her slip.
“Have you been here before?”
“No ma.” Osezele responded shaking her head.
“How do you like it so far?” the woman smiled, it was a warm motherly smile.
Osezele smiled back. “It’s very nice ma. Thank you.”
“You have very good manners.” the woman said. “Rare for children in your generation. Your parents must have raised you well.”
“Thank you ma.”
“Where are your parents? Why aren’t they here with you?”
“It’s only my mother and she was too busy to come.” She replied, leaving off the fact that she’d never met her father. That, as she’d been told, could also raise suspicion.
“I understand. But I’m surprised she let you come on your own, especially for the first visit.”
“She was planning to come with me, but I had to come alone instead.”
“Something must have come up in the last minute.” The woman reached the conclusion Osezele wanted her to. Osezele had been told not to lie. That’s why the spotters were there. They would have gotten a baseline for her heart rate and if it sped up, they’d know she was lying. “Well I can see why she would trust you to come alone. You seem like a very capable young lady.”
“Thank you ma.”
The woman stood up and Osezele stood as well. The woman extended her hand, a gesture Osezele met. But as soon as she touched the woman, the urge to open her mind’s eye and look was almost overwhelming. It took all her will power to keep her eyes closed. This was the one lesson she was most unsure of, but at that moment she was grateful that he’d trained her for it. The woman let go.
“Come with me.” she said as she made her way around the table and headed for the door. For a split second Osezele worried that the ruse hadn’t worked and the woman was taking her for more tests. But as soon as they got to the door, the woman pointed towards the other end of the hallway. “Go into that elevator,” she said. “It’ll take you all the way to the ground floor, to the canal, and the canal will take you to the visiting logs where you’ll see your aunty. Do you know what class of mark your aunty is?”
Osezele nodded. “She’s an augur.” she responded.
The woman smiled and shook her head. “There are three classes of marked. Varmints, Sages and Warlocks. Your aunty is a warlock, so she’ll be on the third floor in the visiting logs. Okay?”
Osezele nodded. Of course she knew all about the classes of the marked, but she didn’t want her excess of knowledge to raise suspicion, which was why she’d played dumb. “Thank you ma, thank you very much.” she curtsied, bending at the knee, and walked towards the elevator. She didn’t let herself relax until she was all the way down, staring into the canal.
She gasped when she saw it. It was a narrow passage with the cleanest water she’d ever seen. In the water was a sleek white boat, with an open middle compartment. The shiny brown leather seats caught her eyes, and she couldn't help gawking at the encased glass windows and white solid top covering. The canal was in a tunnel with huge yellow bulbs hanging from the roof. Osezele had never seen anything like this outside a TV screen. She was so engrossed by the sight, that she didn’t notice the young man stepping out of the boat and waiting for her to get in.
“Hey!” the boy called out. She turned around then and saw him. He motioned to the boat and she walked over to it and climbed in. She was so unfamiliar with being on a boat, that as soon as she stepped in it and it began to swerve underneath her, she slipped, stumbling into the boy. He caught her and helped steady her, not letting go of her hand till she sat down.
Osezele watched him go over to the front of the boat and take control of it. She couldn’t help admiring his uniform, which was white shorts and a black collar t-shirt. From his face, she guessed that he was about the same age as she was. There was something about the look in his eyes that startled her. For some reason, she hadn’t expected to see any kids in the community, and she certainly hadn’t expected to see them look happy. But this boy looked good, very good. He turned around and smiled at her. Osezele smiled back thinking he looked more than good, maybe even a little handsome. Once the boat started moving, he asked “What’s your name?” yelling to be heard over the engine.
“Osezele.” she replied, yelling back.
“What does that mean? Edo princess or something like that?” he teased.
She laughed. “No, it means because of God.”
“I bet I know what your mum was thinking when she named you.” he said.
“What was she thinking?” Osezele asked still smiling.
“Because of God she’s so beautiful.” he replied. Osezele laughed, her laughter drowned out by the roar of the engine.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Mitaire. But my friends call me Tai.” he flashed his teeth at her. “So who are you here to see?”
“My aunty.” Osezele responded. “She’s an augur.” she said, and it felt so good to be able to say the words freely to someone without wondering how they’d react. “What are you?” she asked, also happy to be able to ask a question like that so freely.
“I’m a lover. I’m a gentleman. I’m a legacy.” Osezele burst out laughing interrupting him and he joined in the laughter. When they’d both stopped laughing, he turned around and looked at her waiting to get her full attention. Then he closed his eyes. When they opened back up, his iris and pupil were gone, leaving behind crimson orbs. He opened his right hand and a flame appeared floating in the air above his hand. He rose his left hand slowly in the air and as he did a rock came out of the water. When he turned his left hand around, the rock landed in his palm. Then, he put his left hand underneath his right hand and as he did, the rock went into the fire, suspended within its flames. He closed his hands around the rock and the flame, rose his closed hand to his face and blew air into his hand. Then his eyes went back to their normal state. “If you were asking about my mark,” he said, “I’m a commune. Does that scare you?” he asked.
Osezele had to take her attention away from his still closed hands where she’d hoped to see something interesting come out from the rock he'd had. She shook her head. What she felt was the opposite of fear. The last time she’d seen anyone practice magic like that was when Oshoke had been training her, back when she’d first discovered her mark. After that, after she’d been abducted and almost used as a human sacrifice for a group of communes, she’d been wary about using that particular mark. But seeing him use his mark with such grace, and without hurting anything, she couldn’t help but see the beauty in it. “It’s beautiful.” she said, still engrossed.
“No, you’re beautiful.” he responded with a smile. “This is just magic, dark magic, which usually scares the unmarked. I’m glad it doesn’t bother you though.”
She tried to quench it, to resist the urge to ask the question, but she needed to know. If there was a way that she could use her mark without hurting anything, she had to know. So she asked, “How did you do that without hurting anything?” he looked startled by her question. “I, ehn, I j just mean that, I mean I’ve been told that...”
“Commune power comes from pain?” he asked. She nodded. He lifted his left hand slightly making the leather bracelet around his arm clearly visible. “This is the community sweetheart. My power comes from this.” he jangled the bracelet around his hand.
She wanted to ask so many more questions. Like how. From what she’d been taught, only witches had talismans, they were the only ones who could do magic without hurting anyone. Communes needed to use pain or fear as the source of their powers. Had the community found a way to bypass that? If so, she needed to know what it was.
Then the boat stopped and any chance she'd had of asking questions was gone. He turned off the engine and stood up to help her off the boat. When the boat swayed this time, she was a lot more steady. As soon as they were on the ground, he opened up his closed hand and offered it to her. Inside his hand was a heart shaped marble rock.
“Take it, I made it for you. A memento of our time together.” he said.
She took it from him admiring the smooth finish. It seemed to sparkle with the color variation and, she looked closer then, noticing the inscription on it. Osezele & Mitaire, it read. She laughed at that, before looking up to smile at him. “Thank you.” she said.
He winked at her. “Turn it over.”
She flipped the rock to the other side and saw a phone number written on it. She burst out laughing then, almost as amazed by his confidence as she was by the control he had on his mark and the power he could get from it. She walked towards the waiting elevator, got in and waved goodbye to him as he sailed away on his boat. The doors of the elevator closed and she hit the button for the third floor, wondering all the while what would happen if something ever came of the boat-boy’s flirtation. Not with her of course, as she was still too enthralled by Nosa to even be mildly affected by Mitaire, but she wondered what would happen if another girl did fall for him while visiting her family. Could an unmarked marry a marked locked in the community? And if so would the unmarked be able to live in the community? There was a part of her that wanted to give into the romantic notion of two people breaking the marked-unmarked barrier and being together. But she knew that could never happen. Even if they did manage to have a child, she had a sickening feeling that the woman would be locked away somewhere until she had the child and then the baby would be wrenched from its mother's arms and taken to live in the community.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:13am On Jan 10|
The doors to the elevator opened on the third floor of the building and she walked in. There were rows of rooms, each one with the doors closed, so she wasn’t able to see inside a room until she got to the one room with the door open. In that room there was a woman sitting on the couch. Osezele walked in. She hadn’t seen the woman’s face, hadn’t received any indication that the woman was her aunty, but she felt this pull towards her, a pull that she couldn’t explain. Then the woman stood up and turned around. At the moment they both saw each other for the first time, they both stood shock still, frozen to the spot, staring at each other. Odion, Osezele’s aunt, had been expecting her sister, so seeing her niece for the first time in fourteen years came as a shock to her. Osezele was startled by how much of a resemblance there was. She felt as though she was looking at her mother.
“Osezele?” Odion asked, already knowing the answer.
Osezele nodded. She felt tears come to her eyes as she moved quickly towards her aunty. As soon as she was close, she started to curtsy when Odion pulled her into her arms and hugged her tight. Odion pushed her back then, cupping Osezele’s face, really looking at her. “I can’t believe it’s you.” she said pulling her close for another hug. “I never dreamed of meeting you. Not even for a second. I didn’t dare hope. I held you in my arms when you were just born and even then I could tell that you would grow up to be a beautiful young lady. And look at you now.”
Osezele rocked in her aunty’s arms, swaying on her feet as she was embraced. She felt a strong emotional attachment to her. She wondered if it was because Odion was her mother’s twin, or if it was because they were both marked. For whatever reason, when Osezele was in her aunty’s arms, it felt right. Then Odion pulled back. She let go of Osezele, tears still in her eyes as she rushed over to the door and closed it. Sniffing she asked, “What can I get you to drink?” She opened a mini fridge, which Osezele only then noticed, as her attention had been solely fixed on her aunty. “There’s fanta, sprite, coke, ginger ale, root beer, maltina, ribena, mountain dew, orange juice, pineapple juice, grape juice. If you want something that’s not here, I can call down and have someone get it.”
“Fanta is fine, thank you.” Osezele responded.
Odion took out a can of fanta from the fridge and handed it over to Osezele. She motioned for Osezele to sit. It wasn’t till Osezele sat down, that she noticed the huge screen TV in front of her and the massive bed to the side. She imagined this was what the really fancy hotels looked like, but she didn’t know for sure, never having been in a hotel.
“Osezele.” Odion stated wistfully, still not believing that her niece was actually sitting here in front of her. “Wow. Osezele. My niece. My exquisite niece. You’re so beautiful.”
“Thank you aunty.” Osezele replied shyly.
Odion just shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe you’re here. What are you doing here?” Slowly, as she heard the question she’d asked, the smile on her face began to fade. “What are you doing here?” She asked again, this time her expression was serious, a little more than serious. With each passing second she began to get angry. “You’re not supposed to be here. You’re mother and I took precautions to make sure you never came here. Does your mother even know you’re here?”
The smile had faded from Osezele’s face too. She shook her head nervously.
Odion was about to ask another question when it occurred to her that Osezele was here, in the visiting logs, visiting with her, which had to mean that the spotters and augurs at the guard station hadn’t seen her mark. The only way that could happen was if her niece was unmarked, so Odion did what she was trained to do, she looked.
Osezele felt her aunty’s eyes soon as she’d decided to look. This wasn’t like anything she’d felt before, it wasn’t like the eyes that had been on her as she’d walked towards the community, not like the stalking glance of the woman who’d interviewed her, not even like the need to look she’d felt when the woman touched her. This was an onslaught. She felt the extent of her aunty’s power, a power she was helpless against. She tried to keep her eyes closed. Breathe, don’t look, she told herself. But what she felt was a mix between spine tingling fear, the kind that made your heart race and skin crawl, and an all engrossing compulsion to look. Either one would have been too much for her to resist, but she was completely helpless against both. So she opened her mind’s eye and looked back at her aunty. The fear went away then, and so did her aunty’s probing eyes.
There was silence for a while after that. Osezele sat with her hands between her legs scared about what her aunty would do now that she’d seen her mark. As soon as Osezele revealed her mark, everything she was became plain to Odion, clear as night and day, and Osezele knew that.
“How did you get in here without anyone seeing your mark?” Odion asked breaking the silence.
Osezele picked at the bracelet on her hand without meeting her aunty’s gaze. “This bracelet keeps the scent of my mark hidden from spotters. So all I had to do was not allow any of the augurs to see my mind’s eyes.” Osezele explained.
Odion laughed out then. “The technical term for that is linking. The next step is allowing an augur into your head. When you do that you form a shared bond, and they can see you, your memories, your thoughts, everything.”
Osezele nodded. “I know all that aunty. It’s been almost a year since I discovered my mark.”
Odion laughed. “Yes. St. Luke’s. I knew that school was where you needed to be when your mark came out. I knew there’d be people there to help you.”
“That’s why mummy sent me there? You told her to send me there?” Osezele asked. Odion nodded. Osezele smiled. “Thank you aunty, thank you so much.”
“Osezele.” Odion sighed. “You took a risk coming here. A big risk. Why?”
“The first reason, is more like an excuse to justify coming here. The second reason is the main reason. I wanted to see you, to meet you, to know you. It’s been fourteen years aunty, I just wanted to meet my mother’s sister.”
“My dear Osezele, meeting me is not worth the risk of getting caught. If anyone finds out you’re marked, you understand that would be it right? You’re here for the rest of your life. You’ll never leave, never live with your mother again, never see your friends. You understand?”
“Yes aunty.” Osezele responded. “I’m sorry.”
Odion sighed, deciding to make the most of this visit as she decided, and would impress on her niece, it was not to be repeated. She wouldn’t let her risk it again. Odion put her hand around Osezele’s shoulder and pulled her closer. “What was the first reason?” she asked.
“I wanted to ask if you’ve seen some people. Two people. Two friends. No one has seen them since they graduated over three months ago and everyone is worried. We think they were caught by the community, but we don’t know.”
“Who are they?”
“They’re a couple, a marked couple. The boy is a werewolf, he used to be the alpha of the pack in my school. He’s very strong and according to other wolves in his pack, he has full control over his mark. His name is Emeka.”
“He sounds like a natural alpha.” Odion mused.
Osezele nodded. “He’s a friend, but his girlfriend is one of my closest friends. She taught me everything I know about controlling one of my marks. She is a commune who mostly gets her power from pain. She is also really strong and experienced, she was the only commune in St. Luke’s that knew how to enthrall animals to use as the source of her magic. Her name is Oshoke”
“And the both of them are missing?” Odion asked. Osezele nodded. “Has anyone talked to their families?”
“Emeka is an orphan, and Oshoke’s family doesn’t know where she is. But her family get-as-it-be. They didn’t even come for her graduation from secondary school.” Osezele stated.
“You think they’re here?” Odion asked, thinking on it for a while. “I haven’t heard about any marked couples being found. The kids tend to make a big to-do about that. Something about the romance. But if I find out anything, I’ll let you know.” Odion hugged her closer. “I’m so happy you’re an augur. This way we can see each other without you risking coming in here.”
“Yes aunty.” Osezele responded, leaning into the hug.
“Speaking of romance,” Odion teased.
“Ah aunty, I don’t know what romance is oh!” Osezele replied jokingly.
“I hear you.” Odion laughed. “So what is his name?” Odion asked. Osezele just shook her head. “Hmm. If you tell me your boy’s name, maybe I’ll tell you about the incredible hot spotter that just moved into my apartment floor.”
Osezele gasped. “You’ll tell me about a man you like?” she asked astonished. Her mother never spoke to her about men in her life.
“Only if you give me a name.”
“Nosagie, Nosa for short.” Osezele responded hurriedly. “And he’s the most handsome boy in the world.”
“Okay. I hear you.” Odion laughed. She let her smile fade slowly into a serious look before turning to Osezele. “First, I need to make sure you know what you are.”
“I know aunty.” Osezele replied honestly.
“I need to hear you say it.” Odion stated adamantly.
“I’m a tri-marked warlock. I’m a commune, an augur and a witch.” Osezele responded.
Odion looked down at her niece as she lay on her shoulder and she couldn’t help the pang of pain that rose in her chest as she thought of the future in store for her niece. Odion didn’t need her sight to know that Osezele was destined to end up like she had, locked in the community. She knew it was inevitable, because powerful marked were always found and brought here. And no mark, none that ever existed, and probably none that will exist after, could be as powerful as a tri-marked warlock. Osezele was the first of her kind, the first ever tri-marked warlock, and that meant she would be discovered and she would be hunted.
Odion forced the fear away. “Okay, let’s talk about boys.” she said.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:37pm On Jan 13|
St. Luke's Mixed Boarding School, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
"Osezele!" She'd barely had time to turn around before Tolani came flying into her arms. Osezele wrapped her arms around her best friend, tightly holding onto her as both girls jumped around and laughed so happy to see each other that they were mindless of the scene they created. It had been a very long break for the both of them.
Osezele was the first to draw back from the hug. "How are you?" She asked. "How was your holiday?"
"It was terrible!" Tolani responded, her arms falling dejectedly to her side.
"Why? What..." Osezele began to speak but was interrupted by a group of Senior Secondary 3 (SS3) students walking by.
"Osezele!" One of the girls called, waving as soon as Osezele turned. "How far?" She asked.
Osezele, who was used to these kinds of conversations, wasn't perturbed by the fact that the girl talking to her walked along with her friends without particularly waiting for a response. "I'm fine." Osezele responded, giving her reply on the off chance that the student was expecting one. Being in SS1, Osezele couldn't risk insulting any senior students, even the ones she didn't know.
"Who was that?" Tolani asked, pulling Osezele's attention back to her best friend.
Osezele shrugged. "I don't know."
"As in, you're miss popularity now! SS3 girls are just shouting your name left and right." Tolani teased. "Osezele, please wave at me, Oh Osezele." Tolani's hands went to her chest as she rolled her eyes to accentuate her theatrical performance.
Osezele poked Tolani, laughing as she said, "It's not like that oh. Ngozi forced me to go to a party with her over the holiday. Almost all the SS3 girls were there. Even the ones that live in Lagos came to Benin for that party."
Tolani sighed. "You're so lucky." She said. "While you were partying, I was locked in my house, grounded throughout the holiday!"
Osezle frowned. "I don't understand." She said.
"What don't you understand? My parents are psychotic. They grounded me for something I didn't even do!"
"Grounded? As punishment?" Osezele asked, bemused.
Tolani nodded. "Yes. Can you imagine that? For some reason they got it into their heads that I was dating a werewolf. I told them I wasn’t dating anyone, but they wouldn't listen to me. They're crazy!"
"Tolani. Are you sure that in your family you people aren't just oyibo painting your face black? I've never heard of Naija parents grounding. Is that even a punishment?" Osezele asked, laughing as she spoke.
Rolling her eyes, Tolani responded. "Trust me, grounding is a punishment. Especially when you didn't do anything wrong. And you're forgetting that my father is a reincarnate. After spending all those lives in the community, he acts like they do in there."
Osezele remembered the community, her last visit there still fresh in her mind. She was just about to tell Tolani about that visit when she saw him and in that moment her heart stopped beating. He was walking on the slab with two of his friends. He had his right hand in the pocket of his red trousers and his left hand lackadaisically placed on the shoulder of the boy walking next to him. His hair was cut short, much shorter than it'd been the last time she'd seen him, and carved in front in a way that she thought flattered his already perfect features. He laughed. One of his friends had probably said something to make him laugh out, but when she saw him throw back his head and laugh, exposing his perfect teeth, Osezele felt the overwhelming urge to laugh as well. Then everything changed. He stopped laughing and turned towards her, as though he'd known exactly where she was. Which, she realized in hindsight, he must have giving his mark. He held her gaze and smiled. She smiled back, not moving, her feet frozen to the floor as she barely remembered to breathe. Then he broke away from his friends and started heading towards her. That snapped her out of the trance.
"Hide me!" She squeaked, physically moving Tolani and crouching behind her.
"What?" Tolani asked, as she was turned around. It didn't take her long to figure it out as soon as she saw Nosa walking towards her. "Look, it's your boyfriend." Tolani teased. "I bet I know what's on his mind." She laughed, turning around to see her friend's reaction. But Osezele was gone. Tolani gasped. "Where did you go?" She whispered, just as a hand clamped onto her right arm to turn her back around. "Hey Nosa!" Tolani called out as soon as she was facing him.
Nosa ignored Tolani, extending his head to look behind at her at the spot he could have sworn he'd seen Osezele standing in. He shook his head, finding it empty. He closed his eyes and focused on her scent. Turning his head around, he breathed in deeply, first in the direction of the hostels, then towards the school block, and then back in the direction he'd come in, towards the chapel. But there was no sign of her anywhere. There wasn't even a faint scent, which he found strange. From the very first time he'd sensed her in the refectory, her scent had become something of a siren. It was the strongest thing he'd ever smelled, the most compelling, and since that day he'd been able to tell whenever she was even remotely close to him. Till today that is, when he'd been walking towards her and he hadn't even known. He'd only known she was near when he heard her giggle, then he heard the sound of her heartbeat, and he'd known exactly where she was. He frowned then wondering why he hadn't caught her scent. It was too distinctive, too spellbinding to miss. Tolani coughed, breaking Nosa's silent musings.
"Tolani." Nosa said as way of greeting. "How was your holiday?" He asked.
"My holiday?" Tolani asked pointing at herself. Nosa's brows lifted causing Tolani to laugh nervously. "Ofcourse it's my holiday you're asking about. I mean who else's right? It's not like there's anyone else standing right here, with us." Tolani cleared her throat and then smiled. "Yes, my holiday was perfect. A-okay. Couldn't have gone better." She replied nervously, a fake big smile plastered on her face. "How about, I mean yours?" She coughed. "How was your holiday?" Nosa's frown deepened and Tolani just smiled brighter. It wasn't like her to be nervous, and they both knew it. Tolani was the straight-talking, I'm-the-smartest-in-the-room-and-I-know-it type, which meant that she was never at a loss for words. But she was still a bit frazzled by the disappearing act Osezele pulled, that it was taking some time for her to catch up.
Nosa just shook his head at her. "It was fine." He responded. "So, were you standing here by yourself?" He asked.
Tolani's head began to shake, before she had to remind herself to nod. "Yes." She replied. "All alone. Just me, standing here in the middle of the field, by myself, talking to myself. Nobody else, just..."
"Are you alright?" Nosa interrupted. "You don't sound like your..." Nosa's words slowly fizzled to a stop as he got distracted by a student wearing a pink short-sleeve shirt and knee-length skirt. From the uniform he could tell that she was in SS1. There was something familiar about her even though he knew that he'd never spoken to her before. She was walking with two other SS1 girls he had vague recollections of. It was obvious from the smile on her face that she'd been looking at him. As soon as she had his attention, she waved at him, wiggling her fingers. He lifted his right hand in greeting. And then she smiled at him before looking away. He could tell that she liked him from the way her heartbeat sped up when their eyes met. He looked away then, not wanting to give her the wrong impression. As attractive as she was, and he did think she was very attractive, he only wanted Osezele. So he took his attention back to the conversation he'd been having, back to Tolani who'd been watching him with a raised eyebrow and narrowed eyes. "What?" He asked her.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:40pm On Jan 13|
"I didn't say anything." Tolani responded shrugging. "She's very pretty."
Nosa frowned at her. "She looked familiar, that's it." He lied.
Tolani was about to say 'I hear you', before she remembered who she was talking to, and stopped herself. Whatever relationship Nosa had with Osezele, she wasn't part of it. So, being in SS2 and all, he probably wouldn't look too kindly on her being rude to him. So she just kept her mouth shut, choosing instead to focus on the girl who'd walked by. That was when she saw it. "Oh my God!" She screamed. "Oh my God! Oh my God!! Oh my God!!!"
"What is it?" Nosa snapped impatiently.
Tolani pointed at the girl he'd been staring at. "That's Binta Gambari!"
"Who?" Nosa asked.
"How do you not know Binta Gambari? She's only the most famous marked teenager in Africa." Tolani responded sarcastically.
"Oh." Nosa said, remembering her now. "She's the actress, right? The augur?" Tolani nodded. "That's why she looked so familiar. I watched one of her films, over the phone, with Osezele. It was good."
"No. It wasn't good." Tolani argued, shaking her head furiously. "I recommended that movie to Osezele. It was phenomenal. She won international awards for her performance in that. I'm such a huge fan!"
"Good for you." Nosa stated flatly. "Wasn't Osezele standing here with you before I came?" He asked.
Tolani was amazed by the direction of Nosa's thought. "Binta Gambari, freaking Binta Gambari, is in our school, wearing our uniform, and that doesn't seem interesting to you? It's Binta Gambari, Binta Gambari!"
"If you say her name one more time." Nosa threatened.
"Sorry." Tolani, with great difficulty, took her eyes off the new student and returned her focus to Nosa. "I'm sorry." She said again.
Nosa just shook his head. "Look, when you see your friend, tell her that I'm looking for her. D'you hear me?" Tolani nodded. "Thank you." He said before walking away.
As soon as Nosa left, Tolani turned her attention back to Binta. Binta Gambari was a marked augur, with both unmarked parents. In most parts of the world, all the marked were required to live in the community, even though the different marks posed different degrees of danger to the unmarked. Nigeria was the only country that allowed some type of marked people to legally live outside the community. There were two types of marked allowed to live outside the community, the first was the class of marked known as the Sages, whose marks allowed them to have enhanced logical and perceptive abilities. The other type were the augurs who had the gift of sight. Both of these marks were considered harmless and as such allowed to live outside the community with the unmarked. They were, however, required to spend a minimum of three years in the community learning about their marks and how to control it. It was during this period of training that Binta Gambari first came to the public's attention from her blog on her experiences in the community. After her three years was up, her blog was turned into a bestseller novel and later adapted into a movie starring her. She was eleven years old at the time. Now she was fifteen and had starred in four movies and guest starred in a few shows. So Tolani, being obsessed with everything to do with the marked, had watched every single movie starring Binta. Which was what made that moment so surreal for her, standing in her school and looking at one of her role-models.
"What did he want?"
Tolani's rapture was broken when she heard Osezele's voice. She turned around then staring daggers at her best friend. "Where did you go? You just left me here looking like a fool."
"I'm sorry." Osezele replied hurriedly. "I couldn't talk to him. You know how much I like him now."
"That doesn't even make any sense." Tolani replied exasperated. "When you like someone, you're supposed to talk to them. That's how the like develops into something more." Tolani deliberately spoke slowly as she explained to Osezele what she'd thought was common knowledge.
Osezele rolled her eyes and hissed. "I know now. It's just..." She sighed. "We're not allowed to date in school unless we're in SS3. I don't want to get into trouble."
"Everybody dates when they find someone they like. Don't you remember Oshoke and Emeka? Those two started dating when they were in JSS1. In fact, they probably came into this school already a couple. We are hormonal teenagers in puberty. If they didn't want us to date, they wouldn't lock us together in a mixed-sex boarding school."
"It's not that simple." Osezele whined.
Tolani lifted her finger to point in the direction of Binta. Osezele followed the direction of her finger, saw the trio and turned back to Tolani. "I've already seen them." Osezele responded passively. "It seems like our ex-best friends decided to become friends as well. I'm happy for Fatima."
It wasn't till Osezele mentioned Fatima that Tolani noticed the two girls who'd been walking with Binta were Oluchi and Fatima. Oluchi had been Tolani's best friend over the last three years, till Tolani decided she deserved better and became friends with Osezele. "Who cares about Fatima and Oluchi?" Tolani retorted. "I'm talking about Binta Gambari."
"Who's Binta Gam-garri?" Osezele asked. "I'm talking about Nosa."
“Binta Gambari.” Tolani hissed. "We have a multi award winning celebrity in our school, and for some reason you think that this unending drama between you and Nosa is more important than finding out what she's doing here?" Tolani asked, making sure that her level of disbelief came through with each word she spoke.
"It's Nosa." Osezele said shrugging.
"Fine." Tolani sighed. "But first let's go over there and talk to Binta Gambari, then we can deal with whatever roadblock is impeding your HEA with Nosagie."
"Okay." Osezele agreed, looping her hand in Tolani's as they walked together towards the mango tree where Binta Gambari was holding court with both of their ex-friends.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:42am On Jan 17|
St. Luke’s Mixed Boarding School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
“Hello Binta. My name is Tolani. I’m a huuuuge fan. To be honest, I dream of being as successful as you when I’m older.” Tolani introduced herself nervously, stretching out her hand for a handshake when she remembered the person she’d walked there with. “And this Osezele, my best friend.” As soon as the words left Tolani’s mouth, Oluchi scoffed and looked away while Fatima rolled her eyes and gave a long hiss before following Oluchi’s lead and looking away.
Binta chuckled. “I’m like as old as you are, and you want to be me when you grow up? That’s kind of lame isn’t it?” She mocked. Fatima and Oluchi burst out laughing. With each laugh from them, Tolani felt like someone was squeezing her heart. She was so heartbroken by Binta’s response that tears welled up in her eyes. Tolani fought to keep the tears from falling, but she lost that battle when the first drop escaped her left eye. She wiped it off immediately and sniffed, to keep the rest from falling.
“She’s crying!” Fatima teased laughing louder now.
Osezele had been so surprised by seeing Tolani cry that she’d frozen up from the shock. At this point in their friendship, she’d grown so used to Tolani being the strong one, the one with everything figured out, that she hadn’t imagined anything could make her cry. When she heard Fatima and Oluchi’s taunting laughter, she pulled Tolani into her arms. “Come let’s go.” Osezele whispered to Tolani, “Let’s go, she’s not worth your time.” She said as she pulled Tolani along with her. They both walked away from the mango tree, across the open green grass and passed the assembly ground towards the school block. They walked together to the first empty classroom they found. As soon as they got to the first bench by the door, Tolani collapsed onto the seat and broke down into tears. Osezele sat beside her and pulled her into her arms, hugging her while muttering phrases like, “It’s okay.” “Stop crying.” “Don’t mind them.” “I’m sorry.” “It’s not their fault.” When none of those helped, she said, “Don’t worry, we’ll do them back.”
That did it. Tolani burst out laughing. “You are the softest person ever, you couldn’t do anyone back even if you tried.” She said still laughing. Osezele started laughing as well. But then the laughter died down.
Osezele stroked Tolani’s arm before asking, “Are you okay?”
Tolani sniffed. She nodded, then it was like she could hear Binta’s teasing and Oluchi’s laughter, and she started sobbing again. She shook her head then. “You don’t understand.” She said, her voice breaking in between sobs.
“Then explain it to me.” Osezele responded. “Make me understand, that’s what I’m here for.”
Tolani wiped at her eyes with her fingers. “I was nine when I started reading Binta’s blog. She was ten and in the middle of her second year in the community.” Tolani sniffed. “My parents were fighting a lot then. I don’t know exactly what the fights were about, but I knew that it had something to do with the community. I mean, I told you about the community, about how my dad wears his mark on his forehead and is so proud of it. In the community, amongst the marked, he was a legend. But out here, in this world, nobody cared about him. Nobody cares that he’s lived twenty-six lives, nobody respects that. It was the opposite. Most people in school those days, just treated us like freaks.” She sniffed again, wiping her eyes. “It didn’t help that I was the smartest in the class. They’d tease me, saying that I was marked, that I was a freak like my dad, that it was unfair for us to go to the same school. I’m the kind of person who answers a question when I know the answer. I can’t just keep quiet and pretend that I don’t know it. Some of the kids in my class hated that. They said I made them look stupid, so they’d put me into the lockers in the table and put a lock on it.” More tears came to her eyes as she relived the memories. “I was so small and skinny then, and our school had these long desks like ten inches wide and lockers that ran underneath the whole table. So they’d lock me in there, inside the desks. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for a whole class period. I still remember hearing the sound of the teacher’s voice and the marker scraping against the board, while I tried not to make a sound so that they wouldn’t leave me locked in there for too long. Sometimes there wasn’t enough air.” Tolani gasped. “And there was nothing I could do, I was too scared to report them to the headmaster. I thought it would just get worse. So I didn’t say anything and it got worse. I just kept getting smarter as I grew older. I have photographic memory and when they found out, that just convinced them that I was marked. So one day, when their anxiety reached a peak, they ganged up on me and tore my clothes off.”
“Oh my God!” Osezele exclaimed. “In school? Where were the teachers?”
Tolani shrugged. “I don’t know. It happened so quickly. One minute I was playing by myself, the next I was Unclad with a group of students pinching and prodding me, all in the name of trying to find my mark. When they didn’t find any mark on me, one of them drew a T on my chest. I think he’d watched too much TV because he obviously thought that’s what the mark looks like.” She scoffed. “Anyway, the headmaster came along and scared the children away and found me there, lying Unclad on the sand. He called my parents, everything came out and they pulled me out of the school. We were living in Abuja then. I still remember that evening. I was lying down on my bed, crying into my pillow and feeling like the most rejected person in the world. But then my dad walked in. He sat on the bed next to me and said, ‘You’re lucky. You’ll never be the same again because now you know what it feels like to be treated like you don’t belong and you’ll be a better person for the experience.’ He kissed me on my forehead and left about twenty stapled pages on the bed next to my pillow. I remember feeling confused by his words, confused and lost, before I saw what he’d left. It was the first few pages of Binta’s blog. I stayed up all night reading it over and over again, till I’d memorized everything on those pages. She’d been picked on for being marked while she was outside the community, and was picked on for having been outside the community, when she was in the community. But she prevailed. She learnt how to make friends, and how to belong while standing out. Reading her blog literally changed my life. She wrote about capitalizing on the differences that people tried to use to tear her down. She took all those things that made her unique, things that people had told her to be ashamed off, and used them to shine. She’s the reason I read as much as I can about as much as I can, so I always have something to say. ‘Where there’s knowledge, there can’t be fear.’ She taught me that. I used it all when we moved to Lagos and I started in a new school. Everything was different, my attitude, my outlook, I answered every question and got into every conversation and very soon I was invited into the conversations. Nobody called me marked, nobody teased me. They saw that I was smart, and I made them respect that. That’s why I love Binta Gambari. That’s why I wanted to meet her. She’s been my role model for as long as…” Tolani shrugged. “It doesn’t matter now. She’s in my school and she doesn’t like me.”
“You are Tolani. She should be the one trying to get you to like her. Ah, you’re so popular, everybody in this school wants to be friends with you. Don’t you remember that time you came to talk to me and I was looking around to see if there was someone behind me?”
“Oh, I remember.” Tolani responded flatly.
“Don’t mind her joh. Maybe outside she’s the celebrity but inside here, na you be the main attraction.” Osezele teased, which had Tolani laughing in a matter of seconds.
Tolani groaned. “I can’t believe I cried in front of Oluchi and Fatima.”
“I can’t believe it too.” Osezele replied laughing.
Tolani stretched out her hand to hit Osezele, but she’d been anticipating the reaction, so Osezele got up in time to avoid the slap. Tolani stood up as well and began to chase Osezele around the room. They both kept running around the classroom, till they decided to change course and head for the doors. Osezele barely stopped in time to keep herself from running into a tall boy dressed in a purple long-sleeve shirt and trousers, a uniform that showed he was an SS3 student. They both recognized the student as Victor a friend of Nosa’s and a werewolf, who like Osezele, had his mark hidden. He took a step back and inclined his head to look at the sign above the door. At the same time successive claps – kpam kpam kpam-kpam-kpam kpam – drew their collective attentions to the other door in the classroom where Lami and Ngozi stood with two small heads poking out from behind them.
“What class are we in?” Tolani whispered the question to Osezele.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:45am On Jan 17|
“I don’t know.” Osezele responded. She’d been too distracted when they were walking in, to check what class they’d walked into. But she knew that they hadn’t climbed up any stairs, which meant that it wasn’t their classroom.
“Madams. Please sit down.” Lami called out, gesturing to the chairs on the front row.
“Lami, please we’re sorry, we didn’t know we were in an SS3 class.” Tolani pleaded.
“Una no dey hear word? I said. Sit. Down.” Lami repeated. The class was set up with three columns of wooden desks and benches facing a blackboard. Osezele and Tolani, who’d been standing in front of the blackboard, ran over to the first seat in the middle column and sat on the bench.
“Good.” Lami praised. “Relax. Lean back and kick up your legs.” Osezele and Tolani exchanged confused looks. “Put your legs on the table.” Lami clarified. After exchanging yet another bemused glance, both girls slowly began to put their legs on the table. “Can you imagine? You people are really putting your dirty shoes on my table!” Lami yelled. Immediately both girls dropped their feet back to the ground, offering apologies as they did. Lami hissed. “It’s like the holiday fried your brains.” She said before walking into the classroom with Ngozi at her heels. Lami turned around in time to stop the two young girls they’d been with from entering into the class. “What did I say?” Lami asked them.
“You people are really putting your dirty shoes on my table!” they both yelled in unison, before laughing, which made everyone else laugh.
“If I slap you ehn. What did I say about entering a senior class?” Lami rephrased the question.
“We have to say please excuse me, before walking in.” one of the girls responded.
“Then say it before you walk into my class. One after the other.” Lami ordered.
“Please excuse me!” the first girl shouted before walking in.
“Please excuse me!” the second one repeated before going in as well.
Ngozi sat down on the bench to the left of where Osezele and Tolani sat and Lami perched against the desk. “How was your holiday Tolani?” Ngozi asked. With the both of them living in Benin, Ngozi had spent so much time with Osezele over the break that she didn’t need to ask her the question.
“It was okay. I mostly spent it with my family in the house.” Tolani responded.
“Did you bring those things we asked you for?” Lami asked.
Tolani nodded. Her father being a remem recall (reincarnate), and having lived so many lives, had gathered a lot of valuable knowledge about the marked. Amongst the things he’d collected was a grimoire, a book of spells and incantations for the different types of witches. A good portion of the marked in St. Luke’s were witches, so they’d all been really eager to learn new spells in the grimoire. Tolani didn’t mention that it was snooping through those books that had gotten her in trouble with her parents. Her mum had walked in on her making copies of pages in the grimoire. To divert her mum’s attention, Tolani picked up the first book she could find and pretended to read it. The book was an in-depth study on the biological functioning of a werewolf. Needless to say, her parents were not pleased. “Who are these two little rats?” Tolani asked, pointing at the two young students that had walked in with Lami and Ngozi.
“It’s true.” Lami responded. “Come here.” She beckoned to the two younger girls who came to her. One stood at the left of her, the other at her right. Lami put her hand on the head of the student standing to her right. “This one is your new bunkie Tolani, her name is Mojisola. You can call her Moji or Mo-mo…”
“I don’t like Mo-mo. Only uncle Paulie calls me that.” Moji responded.
“Shut up. Who’s talking to you?” Lami jokingly chastised. “She’s Ngozi’s school daughter and” Lami hesitated before adding, “my baby sister.”
“Aww.” Tolani said. “She’s so cute.” She smiled, then “wait. Does that mean that your sister is my bunkmate?”
“Is that a problem?” Lami asked.
“Not at all.” Tolani’s response was comically quick.
Lami put her left hand around the other girl. “This is Oluwaseyi. She’s my school daughter. She’s going to be your bunkie Osezele. Okay?” Osezele nodded. “Good.” Lami turned her attention to the two younger girls. “Seyi and Moji, these are two SS1 school prefects. That,” she gestured to Osezele, “is Senior Osezele. She’s one of the three food prefects in her class. And that is Senior Tolani. She’s the female timekeeper. You better behavior when you’re around them, because if they punish you, you won’t get any help from me.”
“Senior Osezele.” Tolani whispered into Osezele’s ears. Osezele giggled lightly. It was the first time anyone had mentioned their names with the prefix ‘senior’ attached to it.
“Senior Tolani.” Osezele whispered back.
“What’s the time Moji?” Lami asked.
Moji had a pink watch on her left hand. She’d specifically chosen that watch to match the pink dress she knew she’d have to wear as her school uniform. Moji looked at the watch then and frowned. “Six forty-five?” she asked.
“See my local problem!” Lami lamented. “You dey look at watch dey ask me? The watch is on your hand now. Abi you can’t read clock?”
“Seyi come and see.” Moji called to her new friend.
Lami put both of her hands on her head lamenting, “Moji you can’t tell time? My sister can’t tell time!”
“I can tell time Lami. I’m just checking.” Moji replied
“It’s six forty-five.” Seyi confirmed.
“Ngo.” Lami turned to Ngozi. “Your school daughter can’t tell time oh.” Ngozi laughed.
“Lami stop now.” Moji cried.
Lami just shook her head. “You will not put shame on my father’s name.” She teased. “By force by fire, we will teach you how to tell time.” She swore, amidst Moji’s insistence on her ability to tell time. “It’s six forty-five oh!” Lami shouted, turning back to Osezele and Tolani. “What are you still doing here?” she asked, clarifying with a follow up question when she saw the confused looks on their faces. “What is it time for?”
Osezele shrugged, casting a nervous look to Tolani. It took a while for Tolani to remember. “It’s time for food.” She stated.
“It’s time for evening food. Timekeeper, I never hear bell. Food prefect, food don ready?” Lami asked. When they both shook their heads, Lami prompted, “What are you waiting for?”
Hearing those words, both girls stood up and walked hurriedly out of the class. “Lami is our head girl.” Tolani stated with a mock shiver as soon as they were far away from hearing distance. “God help us.”
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 4:50am On Jan 17|
The Community, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
They were seated on the floor around a circular mat. Everywhere was dark, the only source of light in the room came from a kerosene lantern in the side of the room, by the kitchen cupboard. On the left side of the room there were two big mattresses and two rolled up mats, on the other side there was a small kitchen with a sink, a few cabinets, and a stove. There were six people seated around the mat, an older woman and an older man and four children, two boys and two girls. There was a big pot on the mat with jollof rice inside it.
“Idemudia.” The man called out sharply, his deep voice echoing off the walls. The second boy looked up timidly to his father. “Lead us in prayer.” He ordered.
The boy made the sign of the cross before saying, “Bless us oh Lord and these your gifts which we are about to receive from your bounty through Christ our Lord.”
“Amen.” The whole family said before all digging in.
The children ate from the pot, each using their hands. It was obvious from how quickly the children ate that they hadn’t eaten in a long time. They rushed through each bite, stuffing more food into their mouth than they could chew. They didn’t stop to drink water or catch their breath, they just kept eating as much as they could, as quickly as they could. The parents looked at each other above the heads of their starving children. There was sorrow in their eyes, sorrow and shame. Neither one of them made any attempts to eat from the food in the pot though they were both as hungry as the children. They waited till the children had eaten as much as they could before taking the pot to the kitchen. There was very little left in the pot, most of it oil and the burned bottom of the pot, but they both stood by the sink, husband and wife, scraping the bottom of the pot to get what little food they could from it. The pot was empty after they’d each had four spoons of rice. They placed the pot into the sink.
“Daddy can I baf?” one of the girls asked.
The man walked to the other side of the room where the children lay on the mattresses. He bent to a squat in front of her and shook his head. “I’m sorry honey but there isn’t enough water for you to take a bath. You have to wait till tomorrow when we get more water.”
“But I’m hot and I’m sweating.” She complained.
“I know, I’m sorry. Just lie down and I’ll come and fan you okay?” he offered. She nodded before going back to the mattresses and laying down next to her sister. The man went back into the kitchen.
“Ejemhen, we can’t go on like this.” The woman said as soon as he walked in. “Look at our children, look at us, we’re starving. We don’t even have water for them to bathe.”
“What do you want me to do?” he asked. “We’re being hunted Itohan, the community is hunting us. They’ve killed everyone else. They’ve killed your family, they’ve killed my family and anyone who ever supported us. We can’t look for normal jobs because they already have wanted posters with our faces everywhere. Remember what my mother said, our children are our only hope.”
“Who cares about your mother? Look around you Ejemhen, look at us, look at what we’ve been reduced to. The community doesn’t want us dead, they don’t want to waste our powers if they don’t have to. They just want us to not be a problem. We don’t have to die for this Ejemhen, please, our children don’t have to die for this.”
His disgust was plain on his face as he looked at her. “Our families died for this Itohan. They were killed, hunted down like animals and slain by the people they spent their lives protecting. Now you want to go back to those people and make peace?” He shook his head. “You should be ashamed of yourself.” He said. “God knows I’m ashamed of you.” He picked up a piece of cardboard off the table before walking back to the mattresses. He sat by his daughters and moved the cardboard in his hand, back and forth, copying the actions of a fan, getting cool air on them.
The girls were just about falling asleep when the second mattress began to shake waking them all up.
“Eromosele!” The man called out. “Calm down Eroms,” he said softly, “remember your control.”
But the boy continued to shake violently. He fell off the foam, falling on his hands and knees on the floor in front of the girls’ mattress. He let out a loud cry, which was accompanied by the sound of the snapping of bones. His back bent forward pushing him closer to the ground as his hands began to break. The boy cried out louder as his fingers snapped, breaking and reforming into hairy paws with giant claws. His legs began to break then as his feet formed into hind paws. This time when he cried out in pain, his cry was the howl of a wolf, with fangs coming out of his mouth. The boy was gone, fully turned into a wolf with white fur and golden eyes. He howled one last time and then there was silence.
Till the younger girl moved.
The wolf’s attention was drawn to her. The older one, wanting to take the attention away from her sister, moved to the right of the wolf and ran towards the kitchen. The wolf chased her. She tried to escape it, but the house was too small, there was nowhere to go. The wolf pounced on her knocking her to the floor as she shook with fear. “Please Eroms.” She whispered. “I’m your sister remember? Remember me!” she yelled, all the while shaking as she spoke.
She was shaking. “Wake up Odion.” The voice broke through her subconscious. “Wake up, you’re just having a bad dream.” He said. Odion woke up, her eyes blinking slowly as she looked around her apartment trying to remember where she was.
“Was it a bad dream, or a bad vision?” he asked.
It took Odion a few moments to identify the man leaning over her as the spotter she’d told her niece about. She cleared her throat. “I think it was a memory.” She replied, confused because neither she nor her sister Akhere, could remember anything from before they were sixteen. Her earliest memory was of being a sixteen year old orphan in the community, with her twin sister Akhere, being the only family she knew.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 9:01am On Jan 20|
St. Luke’s Mixed Boarding School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
Both girls sat on the lawn with their legs crossed playing tinko tinko as they clapped their hands together singing,
‘Our grandmother broke her waist
We don’t know what we can do
Our time now is six o clock
We are going to comb our hair
We are going to brush our teeth
To face, to face, to face, our dreams
To face, to face, to face, our dreams.’
Over and over again the girls played the same game, giggling as they gossiped about their new school, the new people they’d met and the new friends they’d make.
The tranquil scene was broken when another girl ran into the field, shouting “Help me!” her voice shaky with fear. “Help me!” she yelled. She turned around, looking to see how far behind her it was. Then she slipped and fell into a puddle, her hands and face sinking into the liquid she landed in. She screamed as soon as she saw the color of the liquid she’d fallen into. It was red, red like blood. She pushed herself off the floor and continued to run, this time more frantic than she’d been before, wiping her blood-stained hands against the pleats of her checkered pink dress.
This was the first sight the two girls had of her: a young girl, about their age, running towards them completely soaked in blood. As she got closer, the sky turned black. Both girls got up from the grass, looking nervously around them. There was a clap of thunder followed by red lightening. Then it began to rain. The blood-soaked girl kept coming towards them, running as fast as she could to elude the monster chasing her. Another clap of thunder and the water drops turned into crimson drops. It was raining blood. The girls who’d been playing on the grass started screaming as well, until the third girl caught up to them. As soon as she reached them she stopped and smiled. Then she fainted. Both girls looked at each other, frightful tears frozen in their eyes. The air filled with the sound of another clap of thunder. Only one of the girls was left standing, the other was gone.
“I found you.”
A voice whispered into the girl’s ears. She closed her eyes, shaking as she whispered to herself, “It’s only a dream. It’s not real.”
The rain stopped. When she opened her eyes she was completely surrounded by darkness. She could hear voices all around her, surrounding her, enveloping her. Childish voices sang the same song she’d been singing with her friend playing tinko tinko. They sang it over and over again. Then she felt a hand clamp onto her neck suffocating her. “Leave me alone!” she yelled, screaming for help while trying to fight off her attacker. “LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Osezele woke with a start, brought to consciousness by the rigorous shaking of her bunk bed. She pulled off her wrapper and sat up. That was when she heard the frantic whispered cries of her bunkmate. She stood up and gasped when she saw her bunkie, twisting and turning on the bed as if struggling to fight something off. Osezele climbed the first few steps of the wooden ladder leading to her bunkie’s bed. She placed her right hand over the wooden post at the back of her bed, and her left on the bed so that she was leaning over her bunkmate.
“Seyi.” Osezele called out, whispering the girl’s name. There was no response to the call. On the contrary, the girl’s shivers grew louder. Osezele climbed all the way up to the top bunk and sat on the bed resting her back against the post. Gently, she placed a hand over her bunkie’s forehead.
Seyi woke up as soon as Osezele touched her. She blinked a number of times in her attempt to reorient herself, and then she looked up, up at her bunkie who was sitting on her bed, leaning over her. Seyi jumped to an upright seating position. “Senior Osezele. Did I wake you? I’m so sorry, I didn’t know…”
“Shhh.” Osezele whispered. “It’s okay, it was just a bad dream.” Osezele smiled at the girl. “Are you okay.”
Seyi nodded nervously. “It felt very real.”
Osezele just kept smiling at her, trying her best to calm her. Osezele hadn’t known it before, but when she touched the girl, she’d seen her. Ever since she put the bracelet on, she’d been training to keep her mind’s eye closed so that no one could see her, so no one could see what she really was. But at that moment, she’d forgotten. She’d just woken up so she was groggy and then she saw her roommate in so much distress that she just didn’t think of it. That was why her eyes had been open, and that was why she’d seen the girl’s mark, a mark that had obviously been hidden. Osezele saw it and knew that her new bunkie was an augur. Which meant that whatever dream she’d been having could have been a vision. So she asked, “Do you remember it?”
Seyi shook her head. “No. I just remember that I was afraid.” She replied.
“Okay.” Osezele tapped Seyi’s pillow. “Go back to sleep.” She said, before climbing back down the bunkbed.
Osezele jumped, startled by the call of her name. She relaxed when she turned around and saw Ngozi, her corner-mate, awake and seated. Ngozi patted her bed, signaling for Osezele to sit next to her. Osezele looked at her own bed, which was right next to Ngozi’s, before sitting on Ngozi’s bed.
“What’s wrong with Seyi?” Ngozi asked.
To anyone else listening, that question no doubt appeared to be harmless and requiring a simple answer. But to Osezele it wasn’t. If another person had asked her that question, she could easily have responded saying that her bunkie had a bad dream and then apologize on her behalf for waking the person up. But Ngozi was a somewhat experienced augur, and a member of the secret group of St. Luke’s student with hidden marks. Thinking about marks, Osezele found her eyes dropping to Ngozi’s left clavicle where her mark was. The mark was a straight swollen line with fuzzy edges running along both sides. It was a distinct mark shared by all those who had the super-human gifts. Ngozi was the only member of their group whose mark wasn’t hidden. The other students, like Osezele, had the visible sign of their mark hidden by communes at the time of their birth.
Osezele swallowed nervously, considering whether or not to tell Ngozi the truth. She remembered how it’d felt when Nosa walked up to her and told her she was a witch. She remembered how scared and confused she’d been. She also remembered how their secret group reacted to the fact that Nosa had kept her mark a secret from them. If she told Ngozi the truth, she knew that Ngozi would have to tell the whole group, which would change Seyi’s life the way it had changed hers.
Ngozi sighed. “I already know she’s an augur.”
Osezele gasped. “I wasn’t trying to hide it, I…”
Ngozi shook her head. “Relax. I’m not angry.” Osezele exhaled while Ngozi kept talking, “I’m just trying to make sure she’s okay.”
“She’s fine. She doesn’t remember what she saw.” Osezele responded.
“She doesn’t remember anything?” Ngozi asked, her voice laced with disbelief.
Ngozi frowned then. “Augurs always remember.” She said slowly. Then she looked at Osezele, in a way that made her hackles rise. “Is there something you’d like to tell me?” Ngozi asked.
“Me? No.” Osezele responded, leaning back away from Ngozi’s probing eyes. That was when she felt it. Osezele kept her mind’s eye closed while she felt Ngozi in her head, prodding her, trying to get her to open her eyes and look.
“You’re keeping me from linking with you?” Ngozi stated flatly. Osezele opened her mouth to defend herself when Ngozi said, “Don’t even lie.” Osezele closed her mouth and looked away. “I already know you’re marked Osezele, and I’ve seen your mark. So why are you trying to hide it now?”
“I’m not hiding anything.” Osezele lied.
Ngozi just shook her head. “Yes you are. But you weren’t when you just woke up. When you went to calm your bunkie down, you linked with her and saw her mark. I was in that link. I saw your mark. Or should I say marks.” Ngozi explained, all the while keeping her eyes trained on Osezele. “I thought we were friends. It hurts that you’re trying to hide it.”
Osezele turned around then and slid closer to Ngozi on the bed. “That’s why I’m trying to hide it.” she exclaimed. “You are my friend and I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
“What are you talking about?” Ngozi asked.
“You saw it, you saw what I am.”
“You have three marks.” Ngozi replied. “It’s not as uncommon as you’d think. I saw it while I was in the community.”
“Did you ever see anyone with three marks in the same class?” Osezele lowered her voice and leaned closer towards Ngozi, “Did you ever see a tri-marked warlock?”
Ngozi understood then. During the three years she’d spent in the community, she’d learnt a lot about the marked. Bi-marked warlocks were rare, but there’d never been a tri-marked warlock; those things were considered impossible. People with two marks – like Nosa – were very common. But those marks were in different classes, like Nosa was a werewolf, in the Varmint class, and an augur, in the Warlock class. “Wow. A commune, a witch, and an augur. It’s so unbelievable! I can’t believe I even know you.” Ngozi was amazed as soon as she realized what Osezele really was. “I can’t believe I’m part of your story. Just by knowing you, I’m part of history.” She teased, only half joking. Osezele laughed then, but her laughter, like her joy, was restrained. As the pieces began to fall in place, Ngozi started to see the whole picture. “They’ll come for you.” She said. “If they find out that you exist the community, InCoSeM, they’ll hunt you down. They’ll want to…” Ngozi caught herself about to voice the one secret she’d never shared with her hidden marked friends who hadn’t been in the community. “Why you?” Ngozi asked instead.
|Re: The Marked 2: White Sight. A Nigerian Fantastical Fiction Book. by obehiD: 9:02am On Jan 20|
Osezele shrugged. “That’s the same question I’ve been asking myself.” Her lips quivered as she felt the overwhelming urge to give into her fears, her pain. But she couldn’t let the emotions out, not when she still couldn’t control her commune mark, couldn’t control the part of her that used pain and fear as a source of power for magic. She sucked it all in, before putting on the smile she was starting to get used to wearing. “I’m sorry that you know. That’s why I’m trying to keep it from Nosa and Tolani and everyone else. Because they’ll be in danger if they know. You can’t tell anyone,” Osezele begged frantically. “Ngozi please, you can’t tell them.”
“It’ll just be our secret.” Ngozi promised.
Osezele was so relieved, she threw herself into Ngozi’s arms. As Ngozi hugged her, she felt her in her head, prodding again. This time, Osezele opened her eyes and they linked. There was an overwhelming feeling of safety and comfort that Osezele felt as soon as she let her in. It was so soothing that she never wanted to let go. Osezele wondered if it was always that way when you linked with someone. She’d bonded with someone, the man who’d saved her and Nosa from Ebo, and taught her how to make her bracelet and hide her mark. But she’d never been able to link with him because he was in the community and she wasn’t.
Ngozi pulled away. “Did you feel it?” Osezele asked, wondering if she was the only one who’d experienced all that.
“That’s what happens when you link. We’re social creatures, seeing someone else in your head let’s you know that you’re not alone. It makes you feel safe.”
“What about bonding?” Osezele asked.
“Bonding is different. When you link with someone, the both of you have to be in close proximity. You see them in your head, but you also feel them because you’re actually, physically, standing close to them. You can bond with someone that’s in a different country, which makes it more like a dream. Actually, it can be scarring if the bond goes too deep and you’re sharing thoughts and memories with someone you don’t really trust. You have to be careful about that.”
Osezele nodded. “Thank you.” She said, as she moved to get off the bed.
“Wait.” Ngozi called out. “There’s something you need to know.” At Ngozi’s insistent words, Osezele sat back on the bed. “When you touched Seyi, your eyes were light blue. You took away the memory of her vision.”
“I didn’t take away her memory. I don’t even know how to do that.” Osezele replied, forcefully denying it.
“Augurs never forget their dreams. They may forget some details, but they never forget the whole thing. But Seyi went back to sleep after twisting and turning for minutes. You don’t just go back to sleep after having a dream like that, unless you don’t remember it.” Osezele began to speak again, but Ngozi forged on. “I’m not accusing you of knowingly taking her memory. I’m telling you that you unknowingly took her memory. Your eyes were light blue, not white like an augur, or blue like a witch, but a combination of both. I’m guessing that when you touched her, you didn’t just link with her, you bonded. You got into her head, saw the pain she was in and you took away the cause.” Ngozi smiled. “I have seen an experienced memoir witch chanting with so much force her teeth almost broke, all so she could take away one day’s memory without taking away the whole week, and she still ended up taking an extra day’s memory. You just took an hour’s worth of memory without chanting a spell or having a power source. Witches can’t do that.”
“I don’t know.” Osezele responded not really sure what she was saying. She wanted to say she didn’t know how she’d done it. but she also didn’t know that she’d done it.
“It’s okay.” Ngozi said. “Go back to your bed, go back to sleep.”
Osezele got up and took the three steps that separated her bed from Ngozi’s. “I can’t go back to sleep.” She muttered as soon as she was seated on her bed.
Ngozi laid down on her bed. “Tomorrow is your first day in SS1B. Trust me,” she said, “you want to get as much sleep as you can before you meet Mr. Otibhor. Good night.”
“It’s already morning.” Osezele stated.
“Then good morning.” Ngozi retorted, before turning around and closing her eyes.
Osezele couldn’t go back to sleep. She was too consumed with everything Ngozi had said, that she found herself laying on her bed with her eyes open. After spending a few minutes rolling around on her bed, she got up and went over to Ngozi’s rack behind her bed. At the top of the rack there was a clock. Osezele turned around to face the built in cupboards, and took her flashlight out of hers. She turned it on and pointed it at the clock which showed that it was four thirty in the morning. In thirty minutes, she knew that the junior students would be waking up to take their baths, do their laundry and get ready for the day. The senior students, particularly the ones in SS1 and SS2, would start waking up around six and the ones in SS3 would wake up around six twenty. Knowing all this, Osezele decided to take her bath then. So, she walked back into her corner – the space she shared with Ngozi – and pulled out her bucket from underneath her bed.
Quietly, so as not to wake anyone, Osezele walked down the middle of the hostel, down the space between the rows of bunkbeds. All the way down, at the other end of the hostel, was the laundry room, the toilets and the bathroom. Osezele walked into the laundry room, which was a rectangular space with tiled walls that supported deep ceramic sinks. There were twelve sinks in the room. With her fingers crossed she flipped the light switch. She sighed when the light didn’t come on, because the darkness meant that there was no electricity. The school didn’t turn the generators on till six, so no power, meant no water heater, which meant that she’d have to bathe with cold water. She placed her bucket into one of the sinks and turned the tap lever, letting the water out. Then she walked back into the hostel, back to her corner. She walked around her corner mindlessly performing the other rituals associated with preparing for her bath. She put her sponge and bar of soap into the blue bowl she used for scooping the water out of the bucket, and put the bowl on her bed. Then she took off her pajamas and tied her towel around her chest. Once she was prepared, she picked up her flashlight and bowl, and walked back towards the laundry where her bucket was just about getting full. She turned the lever increasing the flow of water and then turned it off when the bucket was full. She put her bowl into the bucket of water and carried the bucket out of the sink, onto the floor, and into the bathroom.
The bathroom was a much larger space than the laundry, having ten separate partitions of bathing blocks. These blocks were empty spaces, about three feet long and one feet wide, where students took their baths. Osezele walked all the way to her favorite one, the last block in the room. She placed her flashlight on the floor, underneath the door, and proceeded to take her bath.
While she took her time bathing, the bathroom slowly began to fill with junior students rushing to reserve a bath block for themselves and their bunkmates. By the time Osezele stepped out, the bathroom was filled with students. She called to the girl standing closest to her asking, “What’s your name?”
“Amarachi.” The student responded.
“You can enter that block.” Osezele said, offering the student the empty block she’d just walked out of. “Do you know who I am?” she asked.
The girl nodded. “Osezele.” she stated.
“Do you know my bunkie?” Osezele asked. The girl shook her head. “Her name is Seyi.” She held the door open as she said. “Enter, Seyi will enter after you.”
“Thank you!” the girl said, rushing into the bath block with two of her friends.
Osezele whistled lightly as she walked back towards her corner. When she walked in, she was surprised to see her bunkmate already up and in her towel getting ready to go to the bathroom. She’d thought she’d have to wake her up. Osezele remembered how long it had taken her to get used to waking up around five when she’d first started at St. Luke’s. “Bunkie, you’re awake. Well done.” she praised.
Ngozi laughed. “I woke her up. I told her, she’s in JSS1, the bottom of the pot, if she wants to bathe, she has to start getting used to waking up earlier.”
Osezele was just about to mention the block she’d reserved for her when she saw Seyi pulling out her bucket from underneath the bed. “Chei!” she exclaimed. “What’s that?”
Seyi looked down at the bucket and then back at her bunkie. “It’s my bucket.” She replied.
Ngozi and Osezele burst out laughing. “Are you going to be carrying that bucket or will the bucket carry you?” Ngozi asked. “Who bought that? That thing is half your size?”
“I can carry it.” Seyi boasted.
“Oya, let’s go let me see.” Osezele responded, inclining her head towards the laundry.
When they got to the laundry, Seyi struggled to lift the empty bucket up and into the sink. Osezele stood back watching as Seyi let the bucket fill to the brim. As soon as it was full, Seyi placed her hands on the bucket and tried to lift it up, but she couldn’t make it move. She kept struggling with the bucket, until Osezele took over. “You don’t need this much water.” She said, before pouring half of the water out of the bucket. Then Osezele carried the bucket of water down from the sink and into the bathroom, stopping in front of the block she’d bathed in and reserved for her bunkmate. “We have to get a smaller bucket for you. I’m not going to be fetching your water every day.” Osezele teased.
“Thank you.” Seyi responded also laughing.
Osezele knocked on the door of the block she’d been in. “Amarachi?” Amarachi climbed onto the platform underneath the door to hoist herself up so she could see who’d called her. As soon as Osezele saw her, she put her hand on Seyi’s shoulder. “This is my bunkie, she’ll enter after you.” She said. Amarachi nodded.
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