Mr. Daniel saw me marching down the corridor and snickered,
“Where to now, Oga fire?” he asked.
I attempted ignoring him and walked past him towards Jenny’s
office, there were something I definitely wanted to get off my
“Fire is a dangerous thing o!” Mr. Daniel called after me. “It
might be a sign that you should go home. Who knows what
might happen to you next?”
I stopped in my tracks and turned. He had a mean look on his
face but I immediately saw the cowardice behind it.
I walked slowly back to him and spoke as I approached.
“Daniel, Just because I’m a temporary staff here and I seem to
be stealing your shine, if you actually ever had one, does not
give you the right to bully me. You brought this on yourself. Your
attitude is what has made others around you despise you so
“What do you know about my attitude?” he said angrily. “What
do you know about my struggles? You know nothing about me!”
“I know you came from a very poor family and you swore you
would become rich by all means. I know you struggled through
school, stealing, cheating, lying and bullying your way through,
just like you are doing now. I know you have stolen so many
times from so many people you don’t even see it as a bad thing
anymore. All the documents you used in getting this job are fake
and belong to Mr. Mark Ndumuka, your college friend whom you
duped and drove to taking his own life.”
“You went digging up my past? Well, you have failed! You have
no proof! No one does!” he snarled viciously.
“No one knows because the only person that did know, you took
care of her didn’t you? Your own girlfriend, the love of your life,
the woman who would have turned your life around! And now
you look for who to blame? You have all you ever wanted and
yet you wonder why you are not happy. It is all your own doing!
You made yourself like this! Stop looking for who to blame your
impending doom on and believe me, that doom is coming!”
He curled backward in fright, looking at me with wide eyes, but I
didn’t care anymore. I was so angry at myself; at what I had
allowed Jenny do to me that I didn’t care if everybody knew
what I could do. I stood there with my fists clenched as he
retreated into his office without saying a word. I knew he hadn’t
been the one that started the fire in my hotel; he just wanted to
see if he could use the opportunity to scare me away.
I turned back and headed to Jenny’s office. As I opened it, I saw
her facing away from me, mumbling something to herself and
rubbing the ring on her finger with one hand. The other hand
carried a small mirror.
“You lied.” I said.
She stopped what she was doing but didn’t turn around.
“The ring wasn’t only meant for the leopard was it?” I said,
closing the door behind me and walking up to her.
“You wanted to use it to control me…to control my powers
“I’m sorry Chuks,” she said, and I noted a sob in her voice.
“You’ve been slowly draining my powers all along.” I said. “Like
a true seductress, you surreptitiously wove your way into my
life, getting me to almost fall in love with you; meanwhile all the
time all you wanted was Chukwudi the stronger!”
“It’s not like I hid it from you,” she said. “I told you time without
number, I was attracted to power.”
“What was the ring really supposed to do?” I asked, and I was
beginning to wonder why she wasn’t turning around.
“It’s like I said, it’s a revealer ring. It show’s a person’s hidden
side.” She sighed. “It also has a chamber which can entrap that
hidden side, remove that power. I was asked to bring the power,
what you call Chukwudi the stronger, he was supposed to be
s—-d right into the ring the moment I touched you with it. You
wouldn’t have noticed immediately and I would have taken him
to meet my superiors. They are always intrigued in meeting
those that know of the realm beyond the veil.”
She paused for a while then continued talking “When I touched
him with it, it just brought him to the surface, but it didn’t suck
him out. I don’t understand…what is he? What will I tell my
superiors? We need him to battle the man-beast.
“Well, why didn’t you just ask for my help, Jenny?” I said. “You
would have asked me.”
“I didn’t want to do things this way but I had my orders. I even
broke my promise of not lying to you. And I keep my word. If I
don’t, bad things happen.”
She sobbed again then turned round. Jenny’s face had aged!
Wrinkles had appeared on her forehead and there were bags of
skin under her eyes. I gasped and took a step back.
“I…I didn’t do that, did I?” I said, horrified.
“No, I did,” Jenny said and smiled sadly. “A consequence of
breaking my word with you.”
Who would believe the woman that stood before me was once
an object of every man’s desire? Her face seemed to have
melted in the few minutes I had left her, her breasts sagged and
her skin had turned an unhealthy dark color. She looked terrible,
compared to what she was before.
“How long before this wears off?” I asked.
“I have to make amends first,” she said, “I have to return to the
sea, but they will not be happy as I did not fulfill my mission. I
might be punished to remain like this for a while, if not forever.
I shook my head. “That cannot happen. It was your promise to
me that you broke and no one else. Jenny, you really have to
trust me. No matter what is going on, you have to let me know
so I can help you alright?”
She came towards me and for the first time I could see that she
had been crying. Trails of tears previously wept coursed down
her face and her eyes were red.
“I’m really sorry, chuks,” she said, her voice trembling now. “I
don’t know how you can trust me again after this, but I’ll do my
best to make it up to you. I know I am no longer attractive but
please don’t despise me!”
“I don’t.” I said, and held her wrinkled hand. I knew what she
was thinking. “I just drew back then because I was taken by
surprise. I’m not that shallow to run away from you now that
you are no longer beautiful. There’s more to our friendship than
She had been looking at the floor in shame but now she turned
towards me with hope in her eyes. “We’re still friends?”
“Of course,” I said.
She sniffed. “My beauty, its…it was a gift; it’s all I have that’s
really mine. I knew something bad would happen if I broke my
word with you but they insisted I follow their plan. Now it didn’t
work and I look like something out of a horror movie. How will I
explain this to the other workers? They’ll think I’m a witch or
something. I’ll have to quit my job…”
And she sank, sobbing, to the ground. I knelt beside her.
“I told you to trust me, didn’t I?” I said. “It was me you broke the
promise to, not anyone else, me.” And I cupped her aged and
teary face in my hands.
“I release you from your word to me.”
As soon as I said it, A dark red fire came out of my hands and
set her face alight. At first I wanted to withdraw, thinking I had
somehow set her ablaze but she didn’t scream and I felt the
gentle push of Chukwudi the stronger, keeping my hands on her
face. As I watched, the wrinkles vanished and her eyes grew
bright again. I saw her skin regain its healthy tone and as for the
rest of her body, all went back to how it had been.
She was silent through the transformation, her mouth open in
awe. Soon the fire died out and I removed my hands from her
face. Jenny was Jenny again, her beauty unparalleled, her eyes
bright with wonder and her still open mouth revealing a set of
pearly white teeth. She gasped and grabbed the mirror she had
been holding previously.
“It’s…impossible.” She whispered. “How did you do that?”
She didn’t wait for me to answer before embracing me tightly.
She wept and wept and I eventually had to pull her off.
“In fact, today has been a day of hugging for me.” I said, more
to myself than to her hearing.
“I will be truthful with you always!” She exclaimed. She pulled of
the ring on her finger and made to throw it away when I stopped
“What are you doing?” I asked “Getting rid of this thing!” she
“Will it still reveal the leopard?” I asked.
“Yes, but chuks, what if I mistakenly touch you with it again?
Even if it doesn’t suck out chuks the stronger, it’ll definitely
weaken your abilities.”
I had a mental picture of Chioma’s hands on my eyes.
“I doubt it.” I said.
Jenny looked at me inquisitively and I shrugged.
“It couldn’t beat me down when I was in a weakened state. Now
that I have…recharged somewhat, I don’t think your ring will
have so much of an effect on me. That being said we might still
need it to figure out who the man-beast is. So keep it, at least
until we close for the day.”
“How did you get to your full powers back?” Jenny asked.
“I can see your fire glowing brighter than it did the day I met you
at the airport. What happened?”
I smiled as I thought of an innocent, humble girl with a Cross
above her head; and helped her to her feet.
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