I Write: Mortal — Chapter 5

Just before Zola could approach the girl sobbing on her right to comfort her, two student councillors escorted the girl out of the hall. They moved so quickly that Zola could not find the chance to speak to them.

Zola took another look at her surroundings. The hall was fast being emptied out, which allowed her to see a more familiar face.

“Afif!” Zola finally found her voice.

Afif acknowledged with a nod and held out his hand to her to signal her to wait for him.

Zola waited patiently for a good five minutes while Afif tended to a wounded male student. Once he was done, the student was wheeled away and Afif made his way to Zola.

“How are you holding up, Zola?” Afif asked without delay.

“I’m…I’m just…in shock,” Zola tried her best to finish her sentence.

Afif looked at her sympathetically and then took a seat beside her. He sighed, while his visage wore a frown. Clearly, there was something he needed to tell her but he didn’t know how.

“Where is Nerea?!” Lyuben bellowed as he entered the hall. Zola and Afif looked up at him. Afif rose from his seat to face him. Zola turned to look at where Venera had left Nerea previously but she was missing.

“Calm down, Lyuben,” Afif used a controlled voice to counter Lyuben’s outburst.

“Just tell me where she is!” Lyuben cried out.

“She was just here with me. Venera left her here with me,” Zola chimed in.

“Then where is she now?!” Lyuben sprang towards Zola but Afif quickly held him back.

“We’ll find her. There’s no need to flip out like that. Zola is still in shock. You can’t find her like this. Right now is not a good time to act this way. We already have a situation in our hands,” Afif said while maintaining his grip on Lyuben.

“But -“

Afif turned Lyuben’s face towards him and looked deeply into his eyes. Zola noticed a drastic change in Lyuben’s gaze, which made her feel bewildered.

What the hell was that?

The two guys broke their gaze and Lyuben stepped back, looking slightly overcome. Whatever hold that Afif had over him must have worked as Lyuben slumped himself beside Zola weakly.

Seriously, what the hell was that?

Zola wondered.

“Afif, I need a report. Are the wounded tended to?” A familiar voice interrupted Zola’s thought. Venera arrived looking slightly frazzled.

“Yes, the injured kins have been relocated to the infirmary below and
all kiths who were wounded have been sent to the hospital,” Afif said dutifully. “The wardens will explain to the kiths’ hospital as discussed. I have dispensed the memory tampering potion you passed me to each one of the kiths, even the uninjured.”

“Good, I will need you to at the infirmary to check on their progress and let me know immediately when anyone is fully healed. I need every single one of their help to combat the Qakkirs.”

“Would you like me to recall our kiths’ guardian angels?”

Venera thought for a moment before replying Afif, “No, I will need them to monitor what is happening beyond Arevig’s grounds. I just want to be sure that the Qakkirs are confined to Arevig forest. More importantly, I want them to ensure that the kiths do not remember anything about this crisis.”

“Venera!” A sullen student councillor interjected while running towards her. “We have ensured that all the kiths have been safely escorted and transported out. Potions are also dispensed to them.”

The student councillor noticed Lyuben nearby and went towards him. He placed his hand on Lyuben’s shoulder and said, “Nerea is safe.”

Lyuben looked up at the mention of Nerea’s name. The student councillor continued, “She is on the way home and safe. Do not worry about her anymore.”

Lyuben put on an appreciative smile and patted on the councillor’s hand, “Thanks, Johnson.”

The councillor by the name of Johnson then turned to Zola and his face became more sullen. “Venera, why is she allowed here?”

“I need her here, Johnson.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m not sure myself, which is why I need her to stay here until I’ve figured it out. Her middle name is Chichi.”

Johnson raised his eyebrows and turned away from Zola. “Whatever it is, figure it out quickly, Venera, for her safety.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Venera said, slightly annoyed.

Johnson chuckled and started walking away from them, “I’ll check on the action outside.”

Zola gasped loudly when she saw Johnson disappearing into thin air as he walked out. Venera, Afif, and Lyuben looked at Zola immediately.

“He… he…. he…” Zola tried to string her words together but failed as her trembling finger tried to point at the spot where Johnson disappeared.

“He’s such a show off, don’t mind him,” Venera said coolly. “Right, Afif, off you go to the infirmary now.”

“Like now? Like that?” Afif gestured towards Johnson’s disappearance spot.

“You might as well. We need to tell her anyway.”

Afif shrugged and vanished. Zola’s jaw dropped.

What the-

Before she could even finish her thought, she felt the heavy presence beside her lift off in a fluttering breeze.

Is there a window?

But when she turned to look at her side, Lyuben was no longer there. And there was no window.

Zola felt incredibly faint. Venera looked sadly at Zola. She hated this so much; overwhelming any kith with knowledge they should not be having. Just as Venera was about to address Zola, she noticed someone approaching them.

“Anar!” Zola recognised the person immediately and ran to him and hugged him. She was surprised at herself for doing so and she was even more surprised that she did not care in doing so. Anar blinked in disbelief and looked at Venera sheepishly.

It took a while for Anar to snap out of his temporary confusion. He looked at Venera and mouthed, “What’s going on?”

Venera sighed in reply.

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I Write: Stuck At Work (Original Lyrical Idea)

Written in 2016.

I’m stuck at work again
I’ve been at it since 8am
Working hard like a man
Wondering how my life turned out like this

Mama told me forget romance
You better work, baby, earn your keep
Cos if you don’t, you’ll be damned
When he leaves you, he leaves you with nothing

Sacrifice my sleep
These days I’m barely counting sheep
All the meals I had to skip
Gotta do what must be done
Just to earn my keep

I Write: Sitting (Original Lyrical Idea)

Squalid

Are these streets I roam at

Pallid

Are these faces I stare at

Invalid

Are these statements I get thrown at

Rallied

Are these people who get bombed at

So I sit here

As I sit here

Made to awaken

By the hatred

I cannot resolve it while I’m sitting

So I sit here

As I sit here

Left to wonder

Who has the power

I cannot solve it while I’m sitting

Valid

Are these memories

Candid

Are these pictures

Rancid

Are these tastes of agony

Avid

Are these fights for something small

So I sit here

As I sit here

Made to awaken

By the hatred

I cannot resolve it while I’m sitting

So I sit here

As I sit here

Left to wonder

Who has the power

I cannot solve it while I’m sitting

I Write: My Ache (Original Lyrical Idea)

My feet ache
But not as bad as my heart
Plunged into the abyss
Waiting to hit the bottom end

My head spins
But not as dizzying as your games
Rotating on wheels
Creaking sounds of carousel

Round, round, round we go
When we stop, nobody knows

And so it turns
The wheel of life
Hoping it will bring me somewhere
I realise
We are so full of despair
The only thing we have is air

My hands hurt
From the bites of the cold
But not as cold
As your heart

My heart burns
From the flames of your lies
Screeching tyres
I gotta burn some rubber out of here

Round, round, round they go
Where they stop, nobody knows

And so it turns
The wheel of life
Hoping it will bring me somewhere
I realise
We are so full of despair
That even the day is
As dark as the winter night
I hold a light to your face
But you erased my name

The only thing we have is air
The only thing we have is air
To breathe
But we never know if we do live

And so it turns
The wheel of life
Hoping it will bring me somewhere
I realise
We are so full of despair
The only thing we have is air

And so it turns
The wheel of life
Hoping it will bring me somewhere
I realise
We are so full of despair
That even the day is
As dark as the winter night

The only thing I have is you
But you erased me

I Write: I Chant Your Name (Original Lyrical Idea)

I chant your name
A wish in the back of my head
Hoping to see you right in front of me

I cry out Your name
A desire that is deep in my heart
Hoping to know if You will hear me

Blasphemy

This love is just an illusion
Yet it’s so real to me
If I can see, I can feel
If I can feel, I can touch
I guess a little is too much

I bow down in fear
A longing to make you stay here
Hoping that you will love me

I walk away when You’re near
A yearning to be with my dear
Hoping that You will let me love him

Impiety

Your love is more than illusion
It’s so real yet I oversee
I’m deaf and dumb
And dumb and blind
I know too little in my mind

I Write: Mortal — Chapter 4

Zola awakened from her slumber, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the brightness of her room light and her ears pricked at the ruckus going on outside her room.

Damn, I forgot to switch off the light. And wow, people are so happy about the first day of classes?

She got up from her bed steadily as she rubbed her sleepy eyes a bit. She walked to the window to take a look outside.

Before she could even gasp, a firm face appeared right in front of her and his arms embraced her tightly, while a burning meteor-like giant stone flew towards them from behind him at a rapid speed.

Zola and the stranger disappeared just as the fiery stone crashed into Zola’s room, wrecking walls and shattering glass, producing a thunderous cacophony and strewing a devastating mosaic of the opaque and the transparent.

*

Zola gasped loudly as she appeared at a hall full of students with the stranger. There must have been hundreds of them; some sitting on the benches, some tending to their wounds, and a few were lying on wheeled-beds. She trembled and nearly fainted as the stranger stepped away from her and disappeared from sight. Right at that moment, a girl caught her just in time and propped her up from her left.

“It’s okay, I got you. Just try to calm down a bit. Let’s sit over there with the other first-year girls,” the girl said gently and Zola immediately realised who it was.

Zola nodded weakly and tried to muster all the strength in her legs. She was too stunned and too bewildered to say anything. She was not even sure if she knew of any questions to ask. She would just have to trust Venera. Zola sat beside a girl who was trembling like her and sobbing quietly while Venera took her place beside Zola. Zola tried to find her voice to ask Venera about the situation at hand but failed. Venera, who seemed to have deciphered Zola’s confusion, rubbed Zola’s back comfortingly and said, “I think it’s best if you don’t look up or look around yet until you are calm enough to speak. For now, just know that something very serious is going on right now. The school is in a state of emergency. More will be explained to you later when you are no longer in a state of shock.”

Zola nodded weakly again and closed her eyes for a bit. She inhaled deeply before exhaling it all out. She repeated the breathing technique her mother taught her when she was a child after waking up from a horrible nightmare. Since then, nightmares became a frequent occurrence for Zola. Zola was able to put up with it at first but the intensity of the nightmares increased until she was hospitalised for a severe panic attack one night. Despaired, her mother brought her to stay with her grandmother in a remote village in Nigeria. Zola could not recall what those nightmares were about. She could not recall exactly what happened at her grandmother’s house either. All she could recall were the times she spent happily with her grandmother, learning about flowers and their uses in her grandmother’s garden. And that the nightmares stopped since then.

“Venera…” Zola’s voiced trailed off as she turned to her left, only to find Venera’s seat vacant. During that short glance to her left, Zola noticed that a few benches were empty and managed to catch sight of a girl leaving her seat, following a line of girls who were being ushered out of the hall by student councillors. She wondered where they were heading to and if she needed to leave the hall with them as well.

“They’re being sent home, Zola,” Venera interrupted her thoughts while propping Nerea and leading her to the empty space on the bench beside Zola.

Zola found Nerea’s pallid visage and vacant stare disconcerting. She looked at Venera and asked meekly, “All of us?”

There was a look of hesitation on Venera’s face. Zola found that to be even more disconcerting. For someone like Venera to be uncertain, the situation at hand must have been a greatly distressing one. Before Venera could answer, she was tugged away by a girl who whispered something urgently in her ear as they pulled away from Zola’s sight.

Zola looked down, slightly afraid to look at Nerea and the girl on her right, who was still sobbing and trembling.

What the hell is going on?

*

“Damn it! It’s my bedtime! Give me a break! I must have already killed at least fifty of you!” Yezekael yelled as he landed a blow with his fist on the creature’s face before him.

“Ouch! Shit! Is your head made of brick or something?!” Yezekael continued to punch with his other fist.

The creature screeched horribly at each of his hit. It opened its mouth and Yezekael could spot a glowing ember emerging from the back of the creature’s mouth.

“Oh, no you don’t!” Yezekael got down and swept the creature’s legs with his right leg. The creature was knocked over and Yezekael could see a burning ball of fiery stone shooting out of its mouth before quickly dropping back into it due to gravity.

The creature went into spasms and choked. Yezekael took the opportunity to take his dagger chucked aside nearby on the ground and stabbed the creature in the chest with it.

Black liquid flowed from it as Yezekael yanked his dagger out. He was ready to plunge it in again but stopped when he saw the creature’s eyes roll up. The creature shook vigorously for a few more moments before it went limp and then immobile.

Yezekael heard a horrible screech that must have been a hundred times worse than that of the creature before him. Yezekael covered his ears quickly and looked up.

“Shit!”

The mother of the Qakkirs he killed was getting angrier, especially at him.

I Write: Mortal — Chapter 3

Lyuben gazed at Nerea’s peaceful visage as she slept soundly. He could sit up all night watching over her, which he had done on many occasions before. During the first few times of doing so, his heart ached over their forced separation. Gradually, he learnt to find peace instead.

At least she is safe.

That was the mantra he chanted to himself every night whenever the sudden pang of longing hits him. He wanted to touch her so badly but he only allowed himself to kiss her before leaving her room. For some reason, that night, he missed her more than usual. Perhaps it was the presence of the new batch of students that reminded him of their first meeting. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the first week of school that reminded him of the times they kept bumping into each other unwittingly.

“You know, you don’t have to keep torturing yourself like this,” Yezekael’s whisper interrupted Lyuben’s thoughts.

“You know, you didn’t have to blow at Zola’s neck while you stalked me,” Lyuben whispered back.

“Oh, you saw that? And you noticed me following you all these while yet you never berate me about it?” Yezekael sniggered.

Lyuben ignored Yezekael. He had absolutely no interest in his so-called saviour and his prerogatives.

“Well, aren’t you going to ask me why?” Yezekael continued, feeling a little annoyed by Lyuben’s passiveness.

Lyuben remained unperturbed.

“Lyuben, I have followed you for about six months now yet you remain unfettered by my constant watch on you and even as immortal as you are right now, such placidity is simply beyond inhuman!” Yezekael hissed, clearly reaching his tolerance level.

Lyuben almost jumped out of the chair he was sitting on as Nerea showed signs of movement. As Nerea was about to open her eyes, a gentle voice, singing what sounded like a lullaby, permeated the room, faintly at first before it became audible to their ears. Before Nerea could make out the two shadows before her, the lullaby seemed to carry her back into deep slumber.

“Honestly, you two, I could call campus police and have you arrested for trespassing into the girls’ dormitory, what more stalking a girl creepily,” the singing voice changed into a talking voice. Both guys searched for the source of the voice while Nerea was unstirred.

“Oh, is there no better way to taunt us than to have us look into the mirror, Venera?” Yezekael said cheekily.

“Well, I could iFace you on your mobile devices but the both of you have made enough noise already. Can’t have your phones ringing in the dead of the night now, can we?” Venera replied sarcastically.

Lyuben looked away from Venera’s image in the mirror and turned his attention back onto Nerea. Venera noticed his action and addressed him kindly, “Don’t worry, Ben. She can’t hear a thing until sunrise and our voices can’t travel out of this room until then either.”

Lyuben gave a brief nod without looking at Venera.

“Did you charm him into acknowledging you as well, Venera?” Yezekael snorted in disbelief.

Venera shook her head and tutted, “You can’t charm a broken heart. Hasn’t it occurred to you that he is angry at you but not me? I wasn’t the one who turned him into a vampire!”

Yezekael frowned and replied, “Hey! I saved him! I could use some appreciation here!”

Venera shook her head again and said, “You may have saved him from death but you are killing him with the separation from his loved one. Not to mention you condemned him to eternal hell with you!”

Yezekael, furious, readied his hand to strike the mirror but Lyuben caught hold of his arm in time. Yezekael turned to look at Lyuben, baring his fangs with ferocity but stopped short when he saw that Lyuben’s eyes begged him not to. For the first time, Lyuben allowed Yezekael to see the sorrow that had been stowed away in him for so long. Yezekael’s face softened and brought down his hand. He felt as though a knife had cut through him. He looked away from Lyuben for he could bear no more that mere glimmer of mortal pain he once knew long ago. Lyuben patted Yezekael on his shoulder and turned to look at Venera to address her, “Ven, there must be something important you wanted to tell us.”

Venera gave a half-smile. She could not help but show her fondness for Lyuben but at the same time, she had grim news to share with them, “I’ve been having disturbing premonitions. What happened six months ago, might happen again.”

Lyuben and Yezekael were dumbstruck. Venera inhaled deeply, “I think the Qakkir we killed wasn’t the only one around.”

The mere mention of the creature’s name made Lyuben flinch. He could still remember the torrid pain from being attacked by it.

“Shit,” Yezekael cursed. “You mean there might be another one?”

“One more is not the problem. The problem is that we killed the baby…and the mother is not too happy about it,” said Venera.

“How do Qakkirs come about anyway? I mean, are they part of this earth? Are they aliens from outer space? Are they creatures from heathens?” asked Lyuben.

“Qakkirs are what you mortals would call aliens…yes…but not from outer space…but from another dimension… An alternative dimension… Much like heathens…but not exactly a spawn from hell… Do you follow me?” Venera replied, with many pauses in between as she tried to find the right words to describe to Lyuben.

Lyuben’s brows arched in confusion.

“Basically, they’re creatures from the world of the undead, much like animals in the world of the living. They can be wild or tamed,” Yezekael quickly explained, much to the surprise of both Lyuben and Venera. “It’s just that to mortals in general, their features are too weird for them to be labelled as animals so a closer reference would be to aliens. Plus, the way they behave are like human beings except they are without human conscience and human consciousness.”

Lyuben and Venera were silenced by Yezekael’s insightfulness.

“What? I can’t be the smart one? How do I even get admitted to college in the first place?” Yezekael shrugged puzzedly.

Lyuben and Venera sheepishly muttered things like “Oh, yeah, you’re right” and “That’s true” under their breath. At least that was what Yezekael’s ears could make out.

“I think we’re lucky enough that we’re dealing with Qakkirs and not creatures like Steqryr. Qakkirs are quiet. Not quite easy to kill but at least quiet. Makes it easier for us to deal while staying under the radar of mortals,” said Yezekael.

“So what’s the plan now?” Lyuben asked worriedly.

“I have alerted the angels and I’m trying to get Zola’s angel, Anar, to watch over Nerea together with her angel, Afif,” Venera replied.

“Wait, wait, what? Angels? Are they for real?” Lyuben asked in bewilderment.

“As real as you are a vampire,” Yezekael replied nonchalantly before questioning Venera, “Isn’t Anar unreliable? He wasn’t able to discourage Zola from coming to Arevig in the first place. What makes you think he can handle two charges at the same time? Afif wasn’t doing so well either with Nerea.”

Lyuben was astonished. Suddenly his peaceful nights have come to an abrupt end with talks of Qakkirs, creatures of the undead, and angels. He was starting to feel a throbbing in his head.

“It’s precisely because Afif couldn’t do it by himself that it’d be better if he was paired up. It only seemed like Afif managed to guard Nerea because you managed to bring her to me before you went to help Lyuben,” Venera explained calmly.

Lyuben was even more astonished. He looked at Yezekael to confirm if it was true. Yezekael looked away sadly. Venera examined the silent exchange between the both of them before asking Lyuben gently, “You mean, he never told you? Oh, Ben, he felt that it was what you would have wanted him to do…to save Nerea first but he couldn’t leave you for dead either.”

In that moment, Lyuben felt all his anger melt away, especially at the sight of a melancholic Yezekael, who was usually very spirited, and sincerely said, “Yezekael, I’m sorry. Thank you.”

Yezekael nodded silently to acknowledge Lyuben for he was too overcome by the emotions upon being reminded of the fateful night.

Lyuben turned to Venera and asked, “I’m guessing Nerea is an obvious target for Qakkirs, given her encounter with the one you guys killed, hence the extra protection for her. But why were you trying to discourage Zola from coming to Arevig? And why have you decided to leave her unprotected?”

“Not completely unguarded. Yezekael will help to watch over her as well,” Venera nervously looked at Yezekael, afraid he would reject her claim.

“Don’t worry, Venera, I’m agreeable but it would help for you to explain further. What’s so special about this Zola girl?” Yezekael asked gravely.

Venera held up the Computer Club’s sign-up to them and pointed at a particular name on it.

Yezekael whistled and said in disbelief, “No way.”

“What? I don’t get it. All I see is her name,” Lyuben looked on confusedly.

Venera tapped her finger on the last name.

Afolayan.

“Mate, she’s a direct descendent of the great African witch, Afolayan. Chichi Afolayan. Any female born with that name in her name has the potential to be a powerful witch,” Yezekael chimed in.

“With emphasis on ‘potential’. We don’t know if she possesses any dormant powers and if she does, we don’t know how they can be unleashed,” added Venera. “But I decided we should loosen the guard on Zola because dormant powers can awaken when a person is facing danger. But we should all have been prepared when that time comes. Also, while Anar was trying to discourage Zola from coming to Arevig, he encountered some strange things that happened to Zola… and even around her. That is why I feel she would need lesser protection compared to Nerea. Plus, Nerea has forgotten everything about her tragic encounter and she is oblivious to the looming danger due to my spell,” said Venera.

All three fell silent, uneasy with the upcoming danger befalling everyone.

Lyuben felt his handphone vibrating. It was going to be sunrise in an hour. He informed the rest.

“See, Venera, you could have just iFace-d us. We’re sensible enough to put our phones on silent,” said Yezekael.

“Just felt I had to live up to the stereotype of witches and magic mirrors,” Venera shrugged before waving her hands dramatically. “Magic mirror on the wall…”

Both guys looked on with interest.

Venera stopped and smiled before cheekily saying, “Log me out of the group conversation, please.”

Once Venera’s image swirled out of the mirror, both guys looked at each other but it was Yezekael who spoke, “I swear, if that thing had said, ‘You have been logged out’ like our smart phone voice responder, I would have totally freaked out!”