In a crowded family restaurant in Lagos, two young men are having a meal at the window seats. The darker, short haired and stockier of the two, Jide Omoyemi wore a green-red jersey on brown khaki shorts, eating a meal of chips and chicken while drinking from a soda can. His paternal cousin Kunle Omoyemi combing through his afro and dressed in plain tee shirt and trousers, was leaning backwards on his seat and reading a book with furrowed brows. Jide stares at his spectacled cousin, drumming his fingers against the table impatiently, but Kunle is too engrossed in the book to look up.
“You made it sound like there was an emergency cuz. I didn’t come to watch you read some book.”
Jide says finally.
Kunle, slightly startled puts the book down and smiles apologetically.
“So sorry. It’s actually because of this book that I felt that u should see as soon as possible.”
Picking up the book, Jide couldn’t help but notice kunle’s eager stare. Looking at the cover, Jide notes that it’s a fairly battered leather bound book with strange silver inscriptions written on it. Flipping through the pages of the book he looks up to see his cousin still staring excitedly, his glasses glinting under the florescent light.
“So…what do you think?”
Shaking his head confusedly, Jide slides the book back.
“What is it supposed to be? I don’t understand any of it.”
He admits, shrugging his shoulders.
“It’s called a book of illumination”
“A book of what? Is it a cult thing?”
Jide asked taking a sip from his drink.
Kunle shakes his head, leans closer and then whispers.
“Do you ever wondered if there were other worlds? Dimensions apart from our own?”
Now puzzled Jide shakes his can, nearly letting the contents spill out.
“Erm what? What have you smoked this morning?”
A little disappointed at his younger cousin’s response, Kunle sighs.
“Should have realised this was something that is better shown. Come to my place next week, I need to show you something. Promise me you’ll come.”
Looking at his watch, Jide shrugs and gets up from his seat.
“Ok ok. Depends on what lectures I have next week man.”
Kunle, his face in a darkened expression, says in a low monotone.
“You need to make the time. You owe me.”
“Yeah, yeah….I get it. I’ll come this time don’t be so grumpy about it.”
The cousins share a quick hug then go their separate ways, Jide for his university, Kunle back to his job at the breweries.
The days moved rather quickly for Jide Omoyemi. Rarely had he seen his serious minded cousin excited over anything not less calling in old debts. Rubbing some old scars on his neck and shoulder, he sighed aloud during a lecture and got scolded. However though, he did owe his cousin a lot of favors. If he felt some old dusty book was important enough call to him out of lectures, he of all people deserved the audience.
On the day of the meet after the long hassle that is the public transport system, Jide finally got to kunle’s apartment block in the middle of a sweaty afternoon. While Jide himself was a student
In his 200 levels, Kunle was already a working man and even had his own place up on the island. A three room apartment on the second floor was a splendid pad for a single man in his late twenties.
Jide sighed as he climbed the steps of the building, if only his cousin wasn’t the kind that valued personal space he would be so happy to share the space, even if it was 2 hours away from his university.
Knocking on the door, Jide finds the door opened by a girl with short hair dressed in a dmx tee shirt and denim skirt. Jide groaned as he recognized his younger sister Bisi Omoyemi. If there was such a thing as a natural nemesis, she was it for Jide Omoyemi. As siblings the two had never had anything close to a cordial relationship. Seeing her older brother Bisi glared at him.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
Jide hissing like a pissed off snake, pushes her aside and enters the room. Looking around the apartment he was about to turn back to say a few words when Kunle called from the bedroom.
“Is it Jide? Thank God we can begin finally I was thinking you would never come”.
Keeping a fair distance from each other, Jide and Bisi walk down the corridor to Kunle’s bedroom. The last time he was here, kunle’s bedroom was basically set up like those in shopping magazines. Every item had its own spot, every sheet was in order. He had always been slightly jealous seeing as his room was always in a state of chaos. But today… things were very different. The room was a complete mess… the walls were lined with hundreds of different inscriptions and symbols, none which Jide could recognize. Kunle was squatting at a corner of the room in front of a large crystal mirror writing some more incantations in paint. Walking up to him, Jide hisses loudly.
“You could have told me you were inviting her.”
Kunle, shakes his head while continuing his inscription.
“Telling you that would be the best way to make sure you wouldn’t come.”
“The doors that way if you can’t deal with it idiot.”
“Stop that Bisi or you’ll have to leave, do you want that?”
“N…no. Kunle I’ll be nice.”
Kunle motions to the two of them to sit down on the floor in front of the mirror. Jide hesitates for a bit surprised at Bisi’s unusual obedience and takes one more look at the room around them.
“This better be good cuz, I’m missing three lectures for this.”
Bisi smirks at him and waves him off.
“Then leave. Nobody need an idiot like you here.”
“Keep out of adult discussion brat.”
“I don’t have time for your nonsense…”
“WOULD YOU BOTH SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN! Please…”
Stunned by kunle’s outburst, Bisi turns her face away while Jide squats beside Kunle. Picking up the book of illumination, Kunle begins reading from it; midway through the incantation it begins echoing in the room like as if they were surrounded by speakers. The younger Omoyemi uncomfortable with the sudden change in atmosphere, squirm in place. Suddenly the room goes unnaturally quiet as Kunle finishes the incantation and the room begins to darken. Jide has a hard time focusing in the sudden darkness but Bisi’s sudden shriek draws his attention.
“Olori jesu! The mirror!”
No longer showing their reflection, the mirror became pitch black, less like a TV and more like a black pit of emptiness. Slowly brightening up, it reveals an image of a countryside where a few individuals in the distance stand,arguing on a pathway. As the image goes for a brief close-up it became certain that these individuals weren’t human. Jide gasped holding his mouth as he saw a girl with hooves and horns shoving a boy that seemed to be made of smoke.
The image shifts and displays a large stone castle but before one could focus on the details, It shifts again to a riverside were several toad-fish-like creatures seemed to be playing. Their faces illuminated by the mirrors light, Jide was confused and astounded, Kunle chuckled in amazement, while Bisi was entranced. Reaching out her hand slowly like she actually wanted to touch that world… noticing her movements, jade’s eyes widen.
“Don’t touch it!!”
But unable to resist, Bisi’s finger gently taps the mirror. Instantly the spell is broken as the mirror returns to normal, the room brightens up and noises from the street below begin to flow through normally again. Kunle shifting his position, stiffly turns to Jide with an excited light in his eyes.
“What do you think now Jide? “
Jide smiles weakly, rubbing the scar on his neck as he looked at the crystal mirror.
“Honestly…it was amazing…where was that? How did you figure how to do this? What the hell is that book?”
Kunle leaning back, pretty much feeling cool with himself had a huge grin on his face.
“Heh. Now you’re into it. Remember when I was working in the cultural centre during my N.Y.S.C? Well one of the visitors a foreign guy was so happy with how I carried my self that he gave it to me. He said I was something special.”
Jide stretched is limbs.
“So it was a gift?”
“You could say so. I read it and found it interesting, so I kept reading it, until I had to give it a go. You know, to see if it was just a load of nonsense, or if there was an ounce of truth in the words.”
Jide pointed to a nearby marking .
“This is more than just giving it a go cuz. You went all out on this.”
Jide turned back to see Bisi still entranced, staring blankly at the mirror with her palm on it. Suddenly irritated, Jide slaps the back of her head.
“Snap out of it joh. Bisi!”
Jide is a little disturbed by Bisi’s reaction which was muted to say the least, he could clearly see the life returning to her eyes, as if she wasn’t quite there while he and Kunle were talking. It took a second slap to bring her back to normal.
Bisi holds her head in her hands and glares at Jide. Standing up she takes one last longing look at the mirror.
“What are you gonna do with it?”
She asked. Kunle picking up the book of illumination, shrugged.
“Study it some more I guess.”
“You’ll call me when you’re doing something like this again right?”
Kunle nodded and Bisi went to the kitchen to get a drink. Concerned Jide stands up from the floor checking to see if any paint was on his trousers.
“Are you sure Bisi’s all right? She was really out of it. Like she was possessed”
Kunle closing the book, smiled gently at Jide.
“I had a similar reaction when I first did this. She’ll be fine. Besides this incantation only shows us what is on the other world nothing more.”
“Oh okay then.”
Jide shrugged indifferently and took a look at his watch his face suddenly becoming one of alarm.
“EHHEEEN?!! It’s this late already? Guys I seriously have to go. We’ll talk on the phone later alright?”
“Wait, wait why don’t you take something before you go?”
With that exchange the duo leave the messy room, Kunle switching off the light. In the darkened room, the crystal mirror begins to glow.
It’s been just three weeks later and Jide’s…antsy. Ever since he saw that other world something’s changed within him. Little by little, this restless feeling grew. To the point where he doodled symbols and drawings of smoke boys and toadfish men. It even got him in trouble during lectures. After a particularly difficult lecture, Jide laid in bed alone in the hostel room watching professional wrestling. An avid fan he had memorised every single move and wrestling style there was. Wrestling matches were to him like what football was to his mates, a great way for him to cool his nerves. He was particularly pumped watching when his phone rang. Picking it up, Jide at first wants cancel it but seeing his mums call id, he picks it up.
“Good afternoon mum.”
“Have you heard from your sister? I have been calling her for three days!”
Jide reduces the volume of the TV programme.
“No mum, I haven’t spoken to her all week. Is anything wrong?”
The sudden scream shocks Jide upright as he hears the crash of something in the back ground, glass? He didn’t know.
“Heeeeeeeeeee! E ba mi o! She said she was going to Kunle’s house for the weekend and since then, she has not picked up her phone and he has not picked up his phone.
Your father has even called your uncle and aunt, but they have not heard from Kunle either.”
Jide visibly worried, leaps out of bed, quickly picking out a jeans and tee shirt combo to wear, one hand still holding the phone.
“Don’t worry mum I’ll go to Kunle’s right now. I’m sure there probably a good reason maybe the building’s transformer’s bad or something I’ll go over there and find out.”
Jide cuts the line. As he hurries out of the hostel slamming the door behind him, he has a bad feeling.
“Kunle!! Bisi!! Kunle!!”
Jide bursts into the bedroom, panic clearly written on his face. He had gotten into his cousins pad by remembering where Kunle always put his extra house key. He had many different scenarios for why they hadn’t been available but he was not prepared for what he saw. The bed has been flipped on its side. The furniture and clothes are scattered everywhere. There are claw marks on the walls and the floor. Jide stares at the claw marks, confused and frightened of the possibilities.
“I know what happened here.It was messy.”
Surprised, Jide spins around to see a woman with green hair, metal eyes and an earthy skin. Jide cautiously stepped backward uncertain of this new visitor.
“I am Gaea, the essence of this world. Your kin are no longer of this world.”
“They are dead?!”
Gaea shook her head, pointing her arm in the direction of the crystal mirror which lay cracked.
“No. They have merely been taken to the world beyond this one.”
Jide clears his throat and asks.
“Miss, Mrs…Gaea, Could you bring them back?”
“That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here for the book. It has caused me enough trouble as it is.”
Gaea notes as she picks up the book of illumination, flipping its pages and sighing loudly. Jide felt quite annoyed at her attitude but had the feeling or assurance that a wrong word here would be the end of him, so he tread as lightly as he could.
“But you have the power to save them.”
“How is that my concern? It’s their fault that they are in the other world devoid of my protection. All they had to do was ignore the feelings he book brought on them and they’d have been safe. Like you. By the way just Gaea is fine.”
Gaea took a quick look at Jide like she was judging an idea that just came into her head but went on strolling through the room.
“In that world humans are a rarity. Books, like the one your cousin was playing with, are traps to ensnare humans to come to that world. For being so foolish they shall remain in that world.”
“Please Gaea! You can’t leave them there! I’ll do anything you ask if you just bring them back home.”
“As I said earlier Not interested.”
Gaea walks around the room calmly picking up items and dropping them nonchalantly. Jide desperate at this point, prostrates on the floor.
“Please I’m begging you! Please bring them back home! I know for someone like you that much is possible.”
Gaea stares coldly at the prostrate Jide.
“I hate how your people beg. No pride at all. But if it means so much to you, go save them yourself.”
A door with an ornate design appears in front of Jide, who gets up and stares in amazement.
“This door will take you to the world beyond. The world where your kin have found themselves in.”
Jide takes a step toward the door, but is suddenly stopped by Gaea’s voice.
“Ah ah ah. You must do something for me, whilst your there. As the saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
Throwing him a coin with the symbol written on the book of illumination, she smirks.
“Find and punish whoever seeded this book, causing what has happened to happen.”
Jide puzzled, pockets the coin.
“I’d be glad to but how will I be able to bring punishment to them? They have smoke children and toad…fish men… I’m just…”
Gaea sighs loudly this time the book of illumination bursts into flame in her hands, becoming a pile of ashes instantly.
“Oh I’m sure you will find a way to do so. With the book gone, this is your only chance to find your kindred. So get going my dread knight.”
“Your what? What do you…. Whoa!”
Jide is unable to finish his statement as the door suddenly opens and he falls through it.
So that’s chapter one of my story Gaea’s Knight. hope u like and comment on it!
i wish to thank oyinkan braithwaithe of writing in whispers for her contribution in ideas and dialogue.