as grey as his hair due to old age. The hair itself had coiled like that of a Rastafarian, even his long grey beards could tell that, yes, the man had come of age. The staff in his hand was longer than himself, havening the image of a tortoise at its end, still, glowing in white colour. He wore no footwears as he took a step forward at the seashore where Ken laid upward, wondering if he was at the gate of heaven about to be judged by an angel or God himself. He staggered up in a way he stood before the strange man. Water kept dripping from his cloth to the sandy soils of the seashore. He looked around to see flowing rivers, trees and rocks before concentrating on the old man. Before he could say anything, he tried to remember the last thing that happened to him which was falling from a cliff. With that memory, he asked in a hast saying, “What happened? Who are you? Is this a dream?”
The old man’s voice came like that of a frog, but sound, “You couldn’t answer a simple riddle. That was what happened”
Ken remembered the riddle that says, “Born in an instant, I tell all stories, I can be lost, but I never die. What am I?” he looked at the old man. “I guess I was only afraid”
“Do you know the answer now?”
The man smiled. “Come, Mr Uba” he stretched out his hand to draw him closer to himself. “Come, I have something to show you”
Ken hesitated. “If i can recall vividly, only Miss Ada calls me that way. How do you know my surname?”
The old man ignored him, turned and began to walk away. Nobody reminded Ken to follow him side by side, like father Abraham, walking with his son, Isaac when God tested him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. One could see their footprints on the sandy soil as they walked briskly. “You can call me ikuku” the man began while Ken listened. “This world is on two forms, the physical and the spiritual, but let me tell you, young man, you are not dreaming neither are you in the spiritual world. This place you are is hundred percent real. Your fathers sojourned to this great land, seeking for power, just like Otiotio”
“Otiotio” Ken repeated.
“Yes, the governor of your state” Ikuku continued. “He also sojourned to this place in seek of political powers that resulted in the cruel adventure he put you, teenagers through. Luckily for you, I saved your life”
Ikuku stopped, looked at the young boy in the face who also stared boldly at him. “Because, I have to fulfil the promise I made to your father before he died”
“Promise. What promise?” Ken became curious.
Ikuku’s staff made the first movement while his legs followed for a full locomotion. He never wanted to answer that question rather let his action speak louder than his words. Surprisingly, Ken saw a community before them and people going about to their different activities. He could see children running and playing around, just like in the primitive days of his ancestors. The more they walk, the bigger the community, and the bigger the community, the larger the population. Those who saw them as they were coming, adjusted away from the road and bowled their heads as if a king was passing by. Ken kept looking around, for the first time, felt like a king, walking into Jerusalem on a colt, similarly to the entrance of Jesus Christ into jerusalem too. “Where is this place?” he whispered.
“Ututu, the land of great wonders. It shares boundary with the land of zero where supreme goddess of cleverness rests” Ikuku replied, going into a building. He opened several doors which was as a result of several riddles he answered. The journey suddenly became as if they were walking through a dark tunnel until they arrived at their destination; a room with large shelves. Each shelf was locked with a key. Ken watched the old man brought out a single key then stretched it to him saying, “Open the first shelf by your left. There lies a piece of what your father made me promise to give you, his son”
Curiously, Ken opened the box, brought out a black small metal in form of an eyeglass with two handles, turning it around to have a clear view of it. Before he could ask what it was, Ikuku said, “Magical eyeglass. Be careful, its a powerful tool. You can change nature with it”
“Put it on and call the name of one of your friends who is in the land of zero”
Ken reluctantly wore the strange eyeglass then mentioned Wisdom’s name. Instantly, he began to see him like a video camera, capturing an event live and direct. He could see Wisdom tied naked with a rope and the goddess of cleverness slaughtering him with a knife. “No!” he removed the eyeglass, breathing hastily. He walked closer to Ikuku. “What does this mean?”
“What did you see?” He returned the question.
“I saw him being slaughtered by a goddess in the next two hours”
“That’s the power of the magical eyeglass. It shows you any seconds, minutes, hour, day, or month any bad event that will happen to the person you call his or her name after wearing it. Your father ran to me when people were chasing him because of it. He made me promise to give it to his son, for his wife was pregnant then. After few days he died. This happened seventeen years ago”
“How did my father get it?” Ken asked.
“I don’t know” Ikuku began to walk out followed by Ken. “No doubt, the people who chased and wanted to kill your father will still come after you too” he opened a door that led to a narrow bushy road.. “Follow this path to your city, for I have preserved your life from the goddess of cleverness and fulfilled my promise. Greet no one on your way neither must you answer anyone who greets you”
“What about my friends? We need to save them” Ken wore a pitiful look.
“Forget them. None of them must come out from that place alive”
“What?” Ken held his garment. “I can sense that you have power. Make them..”
“Young man” Ikuku interrupted him. “The goddess is much more powerful than I am, so there is nothing i can do. What you saw with the magical eyeglass is what will happen. There is no remedy to it” he turned and walked away…….
Wisdom rushed Fred on the floor while Jade and Esther held Sandra. There were still alive, vomiting blood from their mouths. Fred held Wisdom on the shirt, looking into his eyes. “I trust you, dude.. I.. I trust you to make it out of here alive. When you do, get to my parents and tell them that I love them..” he paused, breathing heavily. “Most of all, promise to get whosoever that set this fucking trap and kill him, even if it’s Otiotio, my governor”
“I promise” Wisdom replied with tears then he gave up the ghost. “Noooi” he shouted in a loud voice with his face facing upward. The echo of his voice inside the rocky shelter sounded seven times. Meanwhile, Sandra had also given off the ghost after saying something that amazed the two females. They looked at each other before leaving the body. All stepped aside from them without knowing what to do. Though Paul showed no concern but he became silent for their spirits to pass away. As the tranquility stretched among them, Esther saw a camera, hanging on top of the rocky shelter like an electric bulb. “What’s that?” she pointed at it.
“That looks like a CCTV camera” Jade suggested.
With anger, Wisdom pulled his first shirt in the sight of the girls and Paul. As if that wasn’t enough, he began to pull his singlet. That exposed his body thereby making the girls to admire him especially Jade.
Paul spread his hands. “What are you doing? Seduce these girls?” he broke the silence.
Not withstanding, in their presence, Wisdom search for a sharp object after he had laid the white singlet on the ground. He moved haphazardly around the place like a confused rat, looking for an escape hole. Sooner did he find the sharp object and began to Pierce it into one of his fingers so that he would obtain a dripping blood.
However, back to the city, Whitehouse to be precise, the governor sat in the control room where the teenagers were shown on a television screen through the CCTV camera. Governor Otiotio and his men watched to know what Wisdom was trying to do with the white singlet. To their surprise, he positioned the singlet on the camera after making a writing on it with his blood which says, “I promise to have you killed with my own hands, Otiotio” After reading the bloody statement, the governor went silent for a while, looking at Wisdom and wondering how such a teenager would get to him talk more of killing him. Therefore he walked out of the control room.
Wisdom left the bloody singlet on the camera then the unknown journey continued. Sooner did they come to a dead-end where the sacrifice of three most smart persons would be made. The sight of that place was nothing to write home about. They could see three coffins, red fabrics and the goddess of cleverness in red garment too. She looked thin but scary with two horns on her head. Her lips was painted black, but a white circular colour took the shape of her two eyes. There was a line of demarcation between her and the teenagers who vibrated in fear especially the two girls.
“Welcome” her voice came like a roaring thunder. “You have journeyed from the land of zero to the den of cleverness. Three of you are needed for a sacrifice while one dies. Therefore, your cleverness will determine whether you’ll be the one to die now or die later”
“What’s the point if we shall eventually die?” Jade interrupted.
“But wait” Wisdom interfered. “Who sent you or told you to use us? I thought we were sent for a competition”
The goddess laughed in a loud voice, but frowned her face instantly, staring at them all. The wideness of her eyeballs could get a child crying for a rescue. “You!” she pointed at Esther. “Answer in ten seconds or you die: I beam, I shine, I sparkle white. I’ll brighten the day with a single light. I’ll charm and enchant all. I’ll bring the best in you all. What am I?”
Esther began to shed tears just as her legs quivered in sweat…..
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