I don’t like telling stories. I never know how to begin. Luckily this one hasn’t got a beginning. Or maybe it does. I don’t remember. So I will simply begin with a fact that you must accept to understand the rest. I am abiku and I always am.
It’s not something I go blabbing about. People don’t like Abikus here. It’s a shame. I’m not even you’re run of the mill type. For one thing, I’m sane.
For me, it all began when someone stole my thing. You know that thing that we’re always stereotyped as having? The thing that keeps us connected to the other world? Well, that.
Though it was a little after midnight and I was tucked into my bed, though my thing was miles away in a safety deposit box at my bank, I felt the exact second it happened. Not to be overly dramatic about it but basically – I was ripped out of my sleep, my heart knocked painfully in my chest and my skin rippled with goose bumps. That’s how I knew someone had touched it. Then it was gone. Poof! Just like that.
Naturally I didn’t sleep a wink the rest of that night. In the morning, after mildly harassing our driver, I was able to hurry to the scene of the crime. I had to wait a while for the bank to open but as soon as it did, I strode in and demanded to see Mr. Effiong, the branch manager.
Usually, a kid walking into a bank and demanding to see a senior staff member would not get the time of day but they knew me here. I had gotten my account when I was 8 years old and Mr. Effiong (the manager) was a family friend who was fond of me. He thought I was precocious and I once caught a random emotional color from him that told me I reminded him of someone that he at once knew and had forgotten.
He beamed when I walked into his office. “Maro! Is it that time already?”
“I’m early.” I said hoping I was hiding my anxiety. I knew my thing was gone but a part of me, my human side I think, still hoped I was wrong.
Mr Effiong chuckled. On the way to the inner room where my box is usually delivered to me, he recited all the jokes he has always tripped out since I started my monthly visits as a child.
“Come to check on your…” treasure horde? Yes, Uncle, I have.
“You must be as rich as a…” king by now? Yes, Uncle. Several Kings.
“I hope one of these days you will use your money and …” take you out? Probably not. That would be gross.
I smiled and nodded until we got to the room. Then I waited tensely when he left until he came back with the important box and shut me inside the room alone with it. After glancing around myself though I knew it was a windowless, camera-less room, I approached the box feeling extremely stressed. It had to be in there. It was inconceivable for it not to be. Who could possibly know it was here and knowing it, have been able to take it?
Everyone knows that abikus bury their things. They bury them under specific trees or near water bodies or bushes that are actually – well for want of a better term, I guess you could say they are portals. They do this for two reasons. Firstly, to remind them where the portal is and secondly because a thing acts like an amplifier. It makes it easier to get to the other side without having to die and start from scratch. How does it do that? I don’t remember and I doubt any abiku does. Not even Bo, the first.
The important thing is that this is one of the ways that I’m different from the others.
I think it’s daft to bury something so important where any enterprising lizard can uncover it. Plus, why lead Dims to portals? I’ve lived enough lives to realise that nothing good can come of that and every time I come across others of my kind, it’s something that I try to impress on them. Oh, and Dims are what I call non-spirit entity types like my parents. Because of how they’re auras are all… dim? It’s for easy categorizing but it hasn’t really caught on. My kind I just call entities.
Anyway, this (and a couple of negative incidents in past lives that I don’t like to think about) is why I chose to use a bank. I have a box with a false bottom. I put several lives worth of birthday jewelry in the top. In the bottom is a pink crushed velvet drawstring pouch. If you opened it and emptied it out, what would normally come out is small portion of pale, soft sand and a palm sized, smooth, blue pebble.
A thing is something that defines us from the place we come from. It’s like your name but tangible. It has no real form or meaning here so we get to customize what it appears like to people. So many abikus do cowrie shells and broken mirrors and other really depressing things. I think that’s just tasteless.
When I opened my box in the secure room in the bank the first thing I saw was my jewelry collection and it was intact. I counted each piece. Twice. Then I hesitated.
What if it was really gone?
(It was. I knew it like I would know if my leg had been amputated from the knee)
What if somehow, despite all odds and all bank security, my thing was gone? What would it mean? What would happen to me?
My kind have been around since before light. We’ve been different things over the ages but our current most recognizable manifestation is the supernatural creature known in our part of the world as abiku. The abomination that destroys families by being born only to die, then doing it again and again. The fact that I know it is also something that sets me apart from the others. They usually can’t even remember something as fundamental as this. Why? Because most other abikus are completely useless.
It sounds harsh but it’s true. My kind get very little respect from the other entities because despite being ridiculously old, and having access to all the knowledge of the ages, despite being pure spirits and possessing passage to almost every existing dimension, abikus are not like other self respecting entities. They all act like one of two things: junkies or, I hate to say this but, big babies.
Abikus are flaky and forgetful. They forget both at will and unconsciously so that knowledge does not hamper their access to things and places. This way they can spend all their time surfing through planes and dimensions, drunk on the ether of the between places. They live solely for play and pleasure and gorge on the different arrays of sensations offered by the different planes of existence. See? Junkies.
We even have access to a unified mind. It is the sum of everything our kind has seen and experienced. For abikus it’s an excuse not to have to use their heads. Kind of like Google. They just plug in. I plug in occasionally too but I always do so with extreme caution. The mind is big. It’s bigger than the Dims’ world. Actually, it’s bigger than several Dim worlds put together and it is completely without rhyme, reason or order. It is not the kind of place to go in, as many abikus do, without a map. That’s why they are mostly insane.
When an Abiku’s things is destroyed our flaky nature kicks into overdrive and we start to forget. The minute the thing is destroyed it is like it never was for us and our only reference for it is what other people tell us. We then forget our portals, our siblings (the abiku race) and eventually our entire entity self. Our spirit shrinks into our body until we cannot tell the difference between the two and after a while we forget we were anything other than our bodies. The last thing we forget is our door.
Our door is the place in our mind through which we leave corporeality. You can’t even see a portal if you don’t have a door not to talk of pass through one. Without a door you are forever tied to a plane. An Abiku’s door lies where our spirit hearts would be. When we forget our door, we become Dim. Some people think that Abikus becoming Dim is a good thing. Dims that know about us always want to hunt out our things and destroy them. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing. I just know that I am what I am and if someone destroyed my thing, I wouldn’t be that anymore. For me, that is real death.
When I tripped the catch releasing the fake bottom of my box and saw my crushed velvet pouch safely nestled in its depth I felt a brief moment of light-headed relief. It felt strange next to my knowledge that my thing was gone but you can’t be what I am without being familiar with the feeling of a divided mind.
I touched the pouch and my finger sank to the true bottom of the box. Empty. Something started to rise in my throat. Not sure if it was a howl or puke, I quickly shut and fastened the box returning it to the steel container that the bank provided.
The door to the secure room was opened when I knocked and Mr. Effiong himself came and returned my box because he knew I preferred it that way. Then we returned to his office where I sat down in his guest chair and chatted with him for a while as I always did. I laughed at all his jokes and asked about his wife, Aunty Ekanem.
He didn’t seem to notice how tight my hands were on the arms of my chair or how deep the breaths I was taking were. I was terrified and I was panicking and while we chatted lightly a schism was widening between my spirit and my body. I could feel my spirit battering against my own body, slamming against my door which I was grimly holding shut with everything in me.
In panic mode, my instinct was to run, leaving my body crumpled behind me like an old house coat. But without my thing, without my name, I didn’t trust myself. If I left now, I was sure I would never be able to find my way back.
On the way home the driver had to stop the car once to let me throw up near the wheel.
Back at home I vaguely heard my Mother shouting at me about making them late by taking the driver. I escaped to my room, shut the door and went to my bed. In my pillow I screamed out all my fear and horror.
I stopped when I had to go to the bathroom because the schism thing had a vertigo effect that made me feel really nauseous. After throwing up again I calmed down.
This was not going to help. Screaming and throwing up while temporarily satisfying were not going to bring it back.
It had not been destroyed. It still existed. I knew that just by virtue of the fact that I still remembered it. But I could not feel it. Not even a glimmer of it. I suspected it was no longer even in this plane of existence which was bad news.
The roads between worlds are complex and dangerous. The idea of venturing them naked horrified me. But what else could I do? Some one or something out there had my thing. If I couldn’t get it back, I might as well be trapped here. And if anything happened to it…
I needed help.
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel One with the most recent chapter at the top.