A bang tore down the wooden door. Ọlá’s heart thudded faster, her hands clutching her chest. The other prisoners scurried to safety in the languorous shadows slithering down the thick walls. The footsteps reverberated in the distance, then it was thumping right in Ọlá’s heart. The bulky silhouette appeared before her, a bubble of hard, rippling muscles. He was panting. And cupping his hands. He reached to grab Ọlá, but she was swift enough to reel away. She hit a bundle of iron implements. Clinking sounds punctured the silence.
“Gotcha!” the guard cried. He pulled the shackle on Ọlá’s neck and thus dragged her to himself. The other prisoners gasped.
Ola’s bloodline was known to be Ogbanje; cursed and capable of unleashing pain. Little wonder, the affluent traded on them, turning them to slaves. The shackles were meant to attenuate their powers. For many years, Ola had yearned to get rid of the shackle. She burned to avenge her mother’s death. She wanted the blood of those who snatched, flogged, abused and raped her mother. She wanted the blood dripping from her fingers, the metallic smell stinging the hair in her nostrils. And she’d been waiting for that day when she would set free all Ogbanjes. And free herself too.
The guard dragged her down a tunneled hallway. There were speckles of fire-red lights down the hall. Then she saw him. The man. She saw him in the light. The bespectacled man with a mat of grey balanced on his head. The man whose hands cupped the blood of her mother. A burning sensation encircled her temples. If only she could reel away, dissipate into the air, set him on fire. The guard kicked a door open and shoved her in. She saw fanned-out broomsticks of fire in her eyes. She pressed her upper teeth to her lower lip.
The guard was stepping out of his pants. “Be good.” His voice was hoarse, swollen with desire. “Remember what killed your mother.”
He was leering at her. She cowered. He grabbed her hands and held them behind her body. He miscalculated her movements; she sent a toenail bursting the soft skin of his stomach. He dropped on the floor, his mouth agape in surprise. A dagger up the wall glistened in the light. She didn’t think twice. She seized it, hurried back to the fallen guard. He whispered, please. She saw his lips form the words, bent at the sides, but she didn’t hear a sound. Crickets chirped outside. Soft winds occasionally ruffled the thicket of bushes rubbing the wooden windows.
Ọlá turned, and as if her prayers were being answered in a blink, found a key. It had fallen out of the guard’s pocket. She smiled and unlocked the shackle. Freedom. She sighed. It wasn’t over yet. She blazed out of the room like harmattan fire. She headed for her cell. No one saw her. She cut the shackles from other captives. She sliced through time, exhibiting bravery, mastery of bravery. She then proceeded to the hallways and swung the dagger side by side, cutting the other guards. Muffled, stifled moans broke the silence. Blood bubbles filled the floor. Her dagger shone with blood.
Then the bespectacled man was standing in her way. Like a skyscraper, he stood tall amid the ruins Ọlá had made. His cackle was dry, squeezed of emotions.
“We meet again,” Ọlá said.
The man guffawed. His face was chalk-white. His eyes dangled in the depth of his sockets. The spectacles made the eyes seemed deeper, more abyssal.
“Mind dancing with me?” Ọlá asked.
The man said nothing. He produced two swords and clinked them together. Then, with the dexterity of a fox, he lurched after her.
“Say your last prayers,” Ọlá said. She took a fighting stance. She could feel the mam’s blood tricking down her fingers already. “Say your last prayers, boy!”