ONE DARK NIGHT by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

ONE DARK NIGHT by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

person holding airsoft gun in shallow focus lens

ONE DARK NIGHT

by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

Second Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

“Stop dia!” 

The Policeman shouts as he shines his large flashlight at our oncoming vehicle. The bus driver nearly loses his hand on the wheel as he brings the bus to a screeching halt. 

My heart skips a beat and I hear a few others next to me gasp in fear. The woman beside me has a baby on her lap and she cries softly for her father in heaven. I can’t make out the face of the policeman because the night is pitch black and there are no streetlights. He advances towards the driver’s window. He flashes his torchlight at the driver and the light-beam shine throughout the bus. Now I see that he’s not alone, he has a partner with him. His partner is short and stocky with a pot belly but Mr. Flashlight is tall and thin. 

Perspiration breaks out of our driver’s forehead but he swallows silently and stays put.

“G-Good evening, Officer” he stutters and he squints because of the blinding light pointed at his face.

“Your papers!” Mr. Flashlight bellows. 

He has two tribal marks on each of his cheeks and his long rifle hangs across his shoulder. His partner doesn’t have a gun but a large metal baton that I consider to be as big as my mother’s twenty year old pestle.

Our bus driver opens his glove compartment and frantically searches for his papers. I hold my breath and swallow hard, the muslim on my right-hand side begins to pick at his tesbil. The bus is pin-drop silent and the hairs on my arms have begun to stand like soldiers in awe of their commander.

With trembling hands our bus driver hands him the papers, I know for sure that they are incomplete because which Lagos bus driver has his papers complete?

Mr. Flashlight drags the papers and peers through them for a second

“E don expire, come down! Everybody!” Mr. Flashlight bellows out in all one breath.

He brandishes his torch throughout the bus. I yelp and my heart starts thumping fast, as if a rock band is playing in it.  The baby of the woman next to me starts crying as the fat and short policeman slides the bus door open.

We start filing out, our bags in our hands and we arrange ourselves by the roadside like Mr. Flashlight has ordered us to. Our bus driver is out of the bus now and he’s pleading with the policeman, trying to give him owo eyin– bribe. 

“Search them!” Mr. Flashlight orders his partner. 

It’s obvious he’s the oga now and Mr. Fat and Short begins searching us one after the other. It’s obvious that they want grease for their fat greedy pockets but nobody talks or even says anything. We are all mute like voiceless ghosts. I want to talk and shout and scream at them for being thieves in uniform, extorting innocent Nigerians that are struggling to keep their heads above water. But I’m trembling already from the thought that I will get shot, a bullet through my head and choke on my blood. So I keep shut. Nothing will be done anyways, my family would just cry. 

Mr. Fat and Short continues to search us and our bus driver continues to beg and negotiate with Mr. Flashlight.

“Hundred thousand!” I overhear Mr. Flashlight say in his thick Yoruba accent, and lift his hands in the air as if to indicate that that was final. 

As he raised his hands I saw his rifle shift and the nuzzle tilt towards the driver’s head. I was watching our driver beg Mr. Flashlight when I felt a hand drag my bag. It was my turn already. The people before me had their belongings strewn all over the grass and they tried to gather it together, some with tears in their eyes, the woman’s baby still crying loudly, Mr. Flashlight still pointing the gun at our driver’s head. 

Mr. Fat and Short tugs at my bag again and I let go. I don’t know exactly what he is searching my bag for, but he unzips the bag in a rush and starts searching frantically like he is looking for hard drugs or something. In a second all my belongings are on the floor too and he throws the empty bag at me. I am angry… but quiet. Burning with rage, but mute. Fear is the language of law enforcement in Nigeria.

Mr. Fat and Short moves to the elderly woman behind me. She is handing over her small handbag to him when a deafening shot rings out. It is all too much noise at once; a gunshot, a ton of screams, a loud groan, and a baby’s awful cry. Everyone scatters in a second, even Mr. Fat and Short. I find myself running towards the noise. I find Mr. Flashlight staring wide eyed; his rifle still pointed at where the bus driver had stood- right in front of the bus, the headlights still shining on Mr. Flashlight. Mr. Fat and Short has reappeared now, clutching his baton tightly and wide eyed too. My lips tremble and I feel like vomiting because it has all happened so fast.

One second ago he was negotiating a bribe with the tall and thin Mr. Flashlight and the next he is sprawled on the floor, bullet in head, choking on his blood. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Oloruntobi Ayomikun Demilade. I am a writer and a second-year student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria where I major in Political Science.
Ever since I can remember, I have always loved and enjoyed writing, especially Creative fiction writing
where I get to talk about pressing issues in society, that most people don’t pay attention to but have a great impact on their lives.
In my pieces, I talk about many important issues and make them less boring by allowing my readers to follow a storyline through the help of a plot and fictional characters even though these characters face real-life everyday situations. It has been fun and amazing to write what I feel and allow my readers to share a part of my mind.

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

photo of daughter hugs her mother

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL

by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

First Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

The boy wants to cry. 

He sniffs in mucus for the umpteenth time, but his mother holds his arm and tells him that he will have to make a choice. He stares into her face, searchingly. Tears stream out of her eyes. And so he turns to his father, but his father stares into space. Hopeless, he turns back to his mother. “I want to stay with both of you,” he drawls.

His mother’s hand finds her face. She sniffs. She says she can no longer tolerate his father, and the boy shudders. But he cannot deny his mother’s words either. They are fact, and his memories are proving it. In recall, his mother’s wails are loud and raw. His father keeps lashing her. The cane in his hand comes down swiftly, eliciting pleas from her. He joins his mother, pleading, pleading. His father barks at him: “Get away from here, asongo!” 

The boy buries his face into his palms. His father might be wicked, but he still loves him. And his mother—ankara-clad, ginger scenting—he can’t part from her—his sweet mother who kisses his forehead and pinches away his nightmares.

He lifts his face. Breath raspy, his mind tears into a whirlwind. His mother’s countenance prods him and the thought that he will have to choose scatters shivers all over his body. He looks onward. The door is ajar. So he gets up suddenly, chest heaving, and bursts through the door. One thought in his head, he runs and runs. Runs through the sandy street. Past houses. Past Madame Ura’s puff-puff stall and takes a turn around the bend. A tarred road ahead of him, people scream. It teems with vehicles whooshing back and forth, but the boy’s body is no longer his own. Before he realizes, a massive force slams into him and he is not on the other side of the road but rolling and rolling over its roughened surface.

 “Jesus, Jesus!”

“Yesu terem ka tor!” 

“Check pulse, check pulse. Is he dead?”

Everything in the boy’s vision blurs. Mind muddled, he can barely decipher what people are saying.  A sharp pain blazes in his ear, but it is becoming mild because he is growing lighter and lighter. When his father and mother arrive, their faces hover over him, he, however, makes out their faces. He smiles. His parents are here with him and all is beautiful. 

He doesn’t have to choose anymore.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba (b.2002) is Nigerian. A 2021 ARTmosterrific artist-in-residence and an alumnus of the 2020 AFRIKA-WRITES PROSE WORKSHOP, his works have found a home in FictionWrit Magazine, The Shallow Tales Review, Arts Lounge, Eboquills and The Muse. He is an Editor at FictionWrit Magazine, wishes to attain the serenity of water, and enjoys watching TK and Carlos kiss. 

A MATCHING PAIR by Agbai Emmaterry Chinonso

A MATCHING PAIR by Agbai Emmaterry Chinonso

man in black long sleeved shirt and woman in black dress

A MATCHING PAIR

by Agbai Emmaterry Chinonso

Winner of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

“Good night mummy!” Benjamin calls as I walk past their room. 

“Sleep dear, you have school tomorrow.”

“Must we go?” Grace, the 5-year-old miscreant, whispered from the dimly lit room.

“Yes, you must go,” I answer calmly.

“What if Daddy says we can stay?” This time it was Benjamin, a 7-year-old, who always encourages his sister’s mischief a little too much.

“He won’t,” I say with finality. “Now good night.”

I walk away and head into our room. Easing the door open, you hurriedly stand to your feet, blanket and pillow in hand.

“Are they sleeping?” You ask carefully, your eyes watchful of my expressions.

“Not yet, wait a while.” Quietly, you lowered yourself into the couch in our room.

Even though it was more of my room these days. For the past few weeks, it had only acted as a storeroom for your belongings. My nights now end with you sneaking away to the guest room and the mornings had you crawling back in. 

It was a noisy process that always woke me up, no matter how quiet you tried to be. But the sounds of you ‘tip-toeing’ through the house had never woken the kids. That was the aim, to not let the kids know. That was why we were only true to ourselves under the hood of the night, only then could we drop our acts.

Turning off the lights by the wardrobe, I quickly begin to change into my pyjamas. I swing my head backwards to ensure you’re not watching. Testament to your smartness, your gaze is averted. Your eyes pointedly fix on the unplugged television, you understand that you lost the right to see me naked.

My eyes quickly go over your body before turning to unfasten my bra. It was a mere glance but I still noticed the difference, I have always noticed the little things about you. Your white tee, the one worn out from being a night-shirt, now hangs loosely on your frame. You had never been a very bulky man, but you were looking leaner within a month. 

A month of anger. A month since betrayal broke my trust in you. Since I donned on a unique shade of hypocrisy. 

Ben’s question echoes in my memory, “What if Daddy says we can stay?

How could daddy say ‘yes’ when he was struggling to appease mummy? How could he go against her after he had cheated? 

 *     *     *

man in black long sleeved shirt and woman in black dress

One month ago, on a night like any other, my feet were folded underneath me as I worked on my laptop. I had managed to procrastinate another task until the dying moment and now scrambled to compile a report one hour before its deadline. 

‘You say I led you on, you sef dey follow me’ Ckay sang to Ayra Starr on their track – Beggie Beggie, on her new album. My head bobbed absent-mindedly and my lips sang along unconsciously; that was how much I had listened to the album. 

You stirred beside me, over and over again, making me wonder if the music was a disturbance. It never was, you always slept so deeply, only your biological alarm could wake you. But then you stirred again, 

“Maybe I should just turn it off,” I thought.

The silence that descended on the room was comfortable, leaving the irregular tapping of my fingers on my keyboard. But something was unusual, I couldn’t hear your snore. This was not the first time I noticed the absence of that light gravelly noise punctuating the air at night. After ten years of marriage, it was a sound I had grown accustomed to. I had come to even depend on it on some days, to lull me to sleep, my personal lullaby.

“Babe?” I called out lightly to you, unsure if you were actually asleep.

There was no reply. “Babe?” I called again, just to double-check.

“Yeah?” Came the reluctant reply.

“You good?” I asked, already getting distracted by the fact that my report was still waiting.

“Yeah, I am.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, my fingers skidding across the keyboard again, “You’re not snoring.” I added.

“What?” You turned slightly to look up at me.

“You’re not snoring,” I repeated, “That means you’re not sleeping well.”

“You know I’m not sleeping well because I’m not snoring?” You asked, your voice sounding surprised.

My eyes were fixed on the laptop as I answered, “Of course.”

“But I thought you hated snoring?” You asked, I could feel you watching me.

“I do, but not yours. I like yours now, I kind of even need it.” 

I smiled at the irony, remembering how I gave you grief about it when we had just started dating. The night I first slept over, it served as the subject of my playful jabs at you the next day.

“Oh.” Was all you said.

“So, what’s up, why aren’t you sleeping well?” I asked again as I flipped through one of the documents, I had brought home.

You were quiet for so long, I thought you had ignored me and tried to sleep again. But when I turned, I saw you blankly staring at the ceiling.

“Gozie what is it?” I was getting genuinely concerned now. Far off wonderment was not your thing, I was the ‘deep’ person in this relationship while you never got bothered or dwelled on one thing for too long.

You sat up and looked at me. Your left eye twitched, in some other people, that may be a sign of anger or dishonesty, but in you, it had always been evidence of nerves. 

“I-” You began to say then stopped, then tried reaching for my hand but stopped that too. 

“Gozie?” My interest was piqued. I set my laptop aside and watched as you sprang up from the bed and began pacing. 

With every step, the pending report slipped further into the back of my mind-forgotten. Your lower lip suffered between your teeth as you began to chew on it like a stubborn piece of ‘shaki’ – this was your other nervous tic. Whatever you had to tell me was big.

“Babe, I’m so so sorry.”

My heart began to slap against my ribcage. The broken look in your eyes tempted me to tell you to keep whatever you had done to yourself.

“What did you do?” I asked carefully.

“Babe, I’m sorry, I promise I love you, with all my heart. I love you, I love the kids, I love you.” You professed on and on until I raised my hand to stop you.

There was silence in the room, quite unlike the one I experienced earlier. This one was thick with unspoken confessions hanging in the air. An open secret I now suspected but you were terrified to admit.

“Did you cheat?”

My eyes followed you as you knelt beside me, holding my hands in yours. “Ebube, my love, please!”

I snatched my hands from yours and scurried away, “Oh my God!”

“How could you Gozie?!” I spat.

“She meant nothing to me, I promise you it was a foolish mistake!” Your words arranged like something in a nollywood script.

Sadness sank in my belly, like boulder thrown in a lake. My eyes glazed over as tears quietly ran tracks down my cheeks.

The kids could not wake up, I couldn’t risk having them witness this, so I swallowed my urgent scream. After what felt like an hour, but could’ve been 5 minutes, my voice croaked out, 

“Why are you telling me now?” 

“Uhm…” You paused, “She’s pregnant and threatening to tell you.” The words ran out of your mouth in one breath.

My head snapped up so fast, it’s a miracle I didn’t strain a muscle. “She’s what?”

“Pregnant.” You repeated quietly.

A peal of sardonic laughter bubbled in my throat and escaped my lips, then ended as suddenly as it began. 

“So, you’re only scared of blackmail, you’re not even sorry,” I stated flatly.

“I am sorry.” You emphasized the ‘am’, your eyes pleaded with mine. 

If there was one thing you knew how to do, it was how to be repentant, apologetic; you were always quick to be remorseful. So now that apologies easily fell out of your seemingly sincere face, it meant nothing.

“Get out.” It was almost a whisper, laced with intense anger and disgust. There was no protest, you slipped out quietly.

I immediately leapt towards the bathroom, the bile I had been suppressing now clawed its way out. The sounds of me retching into the toilet bowl echoed off the tiled walls.

Maybe you would feel the same, if you know that we deserve each other, cheats deserve cheats.

But mine was different. I cheated out of necessity, and that was why I knew your mistress was a lying whore. The child in her womb could not be yours.

The two sleeping angels in the other room were proof, no child could be. 

EUPHEMISM by Samuel Adeyemi

EUPHEMISM by Samuel Adeyemi

faceless muscular ethnic man grabbing wrist of girlfriend during dispute

EUPHEMISM

by Samuel Adeyemi

Second Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Murder by a scalpel is pronounced death, 

not surgery. There is no intricacy 

 

when the blade drowns in a body, whirling

inside like a wet threading of gut. 

 

Whatever the instrument, do not hesitate

to call your suffering by its name. 

 

It won’t soften it, but it will unshroud the 

mystique. I have stared at my misery 

 

for so long, it seems less oblique. How this

works—the fangs still terrify, but they

 

look just like teeth. The tissue, death-sharp 

yet quite familiar in its whiteness.

 

Our prophets have always been about pre-

tending. They think calling a wound 

 

a flower will taper its ache, sugar the poison

that mars the blood. But the first step

 

to wholeness has always been recognition.

It is a lie that the lie will be

 

the genesis of healing. The greatest miracle 

lies within the same truth we are taught 

 

to abandon. When you stare at the mirror, do

not invert the image. There, your open 

 

chest. Gaze. Is that a nail where your heart 

used to be? Wipe off the honey & tell

 

the wound as it is. Metal organ. Blood rust.

Why must we wait until our suffering 

 

ends before we name it? What happens when 

we are the ones outlived? I have chosen 

 

to resit the ritual of time, to call every bruise 

by its colour. For what is a scar, 

 

if not a wound waiting to become? Come 

unto me. I will show you where I hurt 

on the river’s body. Look. I am touching 

all over the water. 

 

ELOCUTIO by Olaitan Junaid

ELOCUTIO by Olaitan Junaid

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

ELOCUTIO

by Olaitan Junaid

First Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

depending on // how //    it is handled     //   a poem // 

could be //  a knife //     like a toddler //      with boobs // 

i handle   my grief     // so gingerly //   it knows not // 

to spill // in my wildest dreams // everyone // runs //

away from me // says // i hold onto grief // so close // 

i sometimes forget //   to hold   //   myself   //     often  // 

i wake // to the bleating of // bukhatir’s last breath // &  

even though //  this poem //  isn’t about   // my mother // 

everything // here // pretends // to be alive // alhamdulillah // 

it’s juma’ah // & i want to tell a story // without // 

the grave // i want to tell a story // where // the void //

between us // maintains // just as void // never as // 

the strange woman or // the boy // my father’s with // 

a new // wife // & i, a brother // to love // & why //

does my mother keep // ghosting back // to me // whole

as secrets // anyone around // to love her back // & why // 

won’t she // just // live happily // ever after // 

it’s the semester’s end // alhamdulillah // next weekend //  

i’ll be sleeping // all through // the one after //

i’ll be lost // someplace // with no one // to // find me // 

forgive me // mother // i keep // pretending // nothing dies // 

here // forgive me // mother // i keep pretending // there isn’t //

any silence // in this poem // even when // the closest // 

i’ve come // to joy // is // finger // thru it // to be honest //

i want to believe // grief isn’t bilingual // but o, i keep screaming 

& screaming // subhanallah // when a termite bites // & now // 

my tongue // is lost // to grief’s brutal dialect // & when // 

i mean to sing // i shed // once // or twice in response // to prayer // 

i screamed // asẹ́ // when i only meant // to amen // àṣẹ // & again 

// everything i love // sieves // through me // the ones //

less porous // & wouldn’t let go // keeps falling&falling // like //

luck // o, lord, speak to me // of grace immeasurable // & i’ll tell 

of my friend // who’s barely twenty-four // & hypertensive // & dying 

// & soon // she’ll begin // to fork // through drugs // to stay alive // 

& soon // she’ll be too busy // arranging what’s left // of her body // into //

a collage // of memories // that we may hold // on to // &  soon //

she’ll be too tired // to stir fries // to say // hey // old friend // 

how many dreams // have you survived // today // & soon // 

i’ll mistake her for my mother // a tired beauty // only that // come

tomorrow // she’ll be home // sleeping // her lover // still hers //

watching // she won’t be dying // too soon.

Pin It on Pinterest