I texted him on the way to school.
“CODE RED. I NEED TO SEE YOU!”
A few minutes later I got a reply.
“We don’t have a code system, Maro. And I hope this has something to do with the test review class you missed yesterday. See you in school.”
This is him being receptive.
He wasn’t in his class room which made sense because he was always busy before classes. I had to look for him at the Prefects’ Quarters.
The lounge section of the quarters was as busy as a market place at noon. Seniors and Juniors, co-prefects and even a few teachers – they were all there to see him for one thing or the other. This was also normal. He was the head boy. The single most popular one our school has ever known.
He would by hiding out (my own assessment) in the inner office, seeing the ones that were allowed in by Jumoke Talabi our head girl and his self appointed guardian.
Jumoke Talabi. A neat, smart girl – my complete opposite, really – who always looked at me with active dislike.
I didn’t like her either. My reason was because she headed my school’s charismatic bible study group. It’s not that I minded the religion per sey. I like spiritual people. They are one of a few kinds of humans that are close to being entities and they tend to be really wise and nonjudgmental even when they know what you are. Jumoke and her bunch however were a bunch of sanctimonious bullies who rubbed me the wrong way. Jumoke herself had always seemed to me to be under the misapprehension that she was the boss of everyone because her Dad was a political big shot.
Luckily, not one of them had what it took to be any kind of threat to me so I didn’t have to take their crap.
Her reason for not liking me, however, was mostly to do with him, I think. The person I needed help from.
And who was this he? Just my best friend, Ayotunde Anikulapo.
Jumoke opened the door, eyeballed me then let me in because she’d learned from experience it was better to do so.
They were a few senior prefects inside working on duty schedules. Ayo sat in their midst, handsome as an arch-angel, sober as a judge, pretending he didn’t realize that everyone in that room and in the lounge outside was there simply because they wanted to be near him.
This isn’t the only thing he tries to pretend – which leads me to another thing about spirit types.
There are fewer entities than most people think in the world but we tend to congregate. So if you were ever lucky enough to meet an actual entity (or unlucky depending on the type) chances are you will probably meet others whether your realize it or not. This is because in general, we are drawn despite ourselves to the same thing; places or creatures of power.
My friend Ayo is a total efiko. I’m not kidding. All he cares about is studying and grades. But as unlikely as it sounds, he’s also hands down our school’s most popular person and has been since his admission. Part of the reason he is popular is because he is stunningly, judgement impairing-ly hot. The other part, and this is the part that matters, is that he is a creature of power and this tends to be the way with them.
Ayo likes to pretend he is not the reincarnation of one of the most powerful witches that ever practiced the manipulation of physics on our side of the world. It’s inconceivably stupid but I don’t say anything because he’s my friend.
… and because he helps me out a lot with homework and tests which are not my strength.
He looked up at my entrance because as an entity I will always register on his radar whether he likes it or not. As usual he seemed oblivious of the commotion around him. He’s used to the fuss and attention and doesn’t ever seem to notice it which must be useful since he often studies through it. It took some determination on my part but I managed to steal him from his bedazzled mob and moments later was able to give him the low down in the senior students chemistry lab which was nearby.
He listened, strangely black eyes widening as I went on. It was so funny to me how no one ever commented on them, they couldn’t be less human.
I told him everything because he’s the only person apart from my parents that knows exactly what I am. He knows the implications of my thing being missing and unlike my parents, he can actually help me – but only if he stops being so lame about being an all powerful witch.
He was leaning against a desk looking as baffled as I felt by the time I was done. “So – what are you going to do?” he asked.
I’d been thinking about that all the way from school so I had a ready answer, “I think I should file a complaint.” I told him.
He looked at me like I was crazy.
“Not here, dummy,” I rolled my eyes. How could he be so smart with books yet so slow with everything else? “With the Osun. Entities lodge complaints with her all the time, right? My thing was stolen, maybe she can find out who did it and make them give it back.”
Ayo looked doubtful. “I don’t know, Maro… Osun is a deity.”
I noted how he didn’t add “the” as I had to the Osun’s title. Lower ranking entities like myself always used “the”. Contemporaries and ignorant Dims didn’t. Had his address been a slip up or a Dim affectation, I wondered.
“They can be pretty powerful – and mean,” he continued, “Are you sure your thing is really missing? It didn’t just roll somewhere? Or maybe you forgot to put it back the last time you went to the bank?”
I gave him a hard look. “I felt the moment it disappeared,” I told him, “it’s gone.”
“But it’s not destroyed,” he asked frowning.
“If it was I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation with you.” I could see him reluctantly realizing I was right. But then he frowned down at me again, “but how will you go? You can’t pass through your door with a body and if you leave it…”
“I can’t risk leaving it,” I finished the thought for him. “I need to get to the In-betweens in this body.”
The In-betweens. That’s what I call what many people call the Spirit World. I think my term is more accurate because there are many worlds and planes and to get to them you literally have to travel through the spaces between. Plus technically it can’t be a spirit world since it’s not just spirits in there. You meet plenty of corporeal types too. Most whom, trust me, you’d just as soon not meet.
“Um – how are you supposed do that?” Ayo asked blithely walking into my trap. He realized it too because he face palmed immediately. “No, Maro. No.” he insisted.
“No, what?” I asked. “No, Witches of your caliber don’t cross dimensions regularly with their bodies or no, you don’t remember how?”
“I don’t remember how, ” he backed away raising his hands to ward me off.
“Liar,” I said stalking him.
“I’m not ly- ok, I won’t do it. I don’t do that kind of thing, Maro, you know I don’t!”
I spluttered unable to believe what he was saying. Did he not understand the severity of my case? “Ayo, I could disappear! You’re supposed to be my friend! Are you really cool with that?”
Ayo groaned. He hated arguing with me because though he’s smarter than me, I’m far more ruthless than he is so he almost always loses and I can always see the color of how it surprises and annoys him.
“Stop being melodramatic, you’re not going to disappear” his voice was ripe with exasperation, “You’ll still be here, you’ll just forget you were an abiku!”
I gasped, genuinely offended, “You don’t see the problem with that?”
Ayo’s glance was mutinous and he shrugged.
I kind of wanted to smack him. I have a mildly violent streak because I have had to defend myself to be able to stay in this body till now. Who from? Siblings who won’t take no for an answer. The urge to take things by force is therefore not something new to me – but I knew well that Ayo, unconsciously protecting himself, could probably hurt me very badly. It acted as a huge deterrent.
I faced him seriously instead. “You’re right. I won’t disappear physically. But I won’t be me either.”
We were both silent then. I stared at Ayo and he couldn’t meet my gaze.
“Do you have any idea how many life times its been since I’ve -”
“Please.” I cut him off pushing my face towards his and making it hard for him to avoid my glance.
Funny, slippery dark colours shimmered over him and I realized he was trying to say no.
I produced my deal sweetener and trump card. “I will owe you,” I pronounced deliberately, “forever and ever.”
He finally raised his black eyes to me. As I had known, a deal that included the term “forever” could never be taken casually by an entity.
“Careful how you say things like that…” his voice was strangely soft and inflectionless.
“I mean it,” I told him. And I did.
Somewhere in time a sibling abiku had come across a semi famous passage that contained the phrase, “No price is too great for the privilege of owning yourself,” (Kipling? Nietzche? Wikipedia? The source was foggy and unimportant.) I found it in the soup of our knowledge and it changed me.
I would pay any price to continue to be me.
Ayo watched me from a place far inside him and saw that I really did mean it. At last he sighed and shook his head. “We have a test at the end of the week. If we’re doing this it has to be quick.”
I nodded eagerly while thinking; honestly, he was a mystery to me.
After all I’ve told him today he’s worried about a test?
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel One with the most recent chapter at the top.