Welcome back to the Countdown to the last episode i.e. the finale of the series SEVEN.
If you missed the 1st episode and prologue which were a week before , you can read them by clicking the links below… We apologize for not posting them earlier as we promised
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• • •
Make sure its ready. Yea, and that too.
Okay then. Talk to you later. God bless you.
And he drops the receiver.
He stares at the sleeping child through his spectacles. Spent some time wondering if he should continue or stop.
After a while, he continues he says .
Its not as if she even understands
Angry with rage, he rushes towards his nemesis fists clenched and nostrils flaring.
As he gathers to land a blow, he halts, or rather his body halts. His hand hangs in the air and his other arm and legs stand paralysed. Nothing was moving except his eyeballs which stared at his adversary with fright.
Fool.. His nemesis says
You can’t blame me for her death, she had to go.
But why? Ayomide replies, surprised his mouth could still move.
First Funmi Jakande, now Seun.
I understand friend, I understand your plight, but it was necessary… His nemesis says.
I met her a while ago, some days ago to be precise, one week ago, yea? Yes, one week. He nods his head as to confirm to himself what he just said.
I still don’t understand. Why did she have to die?
O ye of little understanding. He says shaking his head absent-mindedly.
I’ll have to take it from the start then; you had better sit down.
He snaps his fingers and the paralysed body moves itself until it sits on a rock. He smiles as he sees the bewildered look on Ayomide’s face who is baffled as to how his body is manipulated.
I’m gonna kill him when this is over. He thinks to himself
Trust me, you won’t be the first to try… Neither would you be the first to fail.
He startles, but just prevents himself from asking how he could read his mind. Realizing this, the hooded nemesis manages a faint smile.
This is gonna be easy.
Twenty-three years ago… He starts, in your mother’s hut. The night she died, I could have sworn you saw me lurking in the shadows but you didn’t. That was good news though but it didn’t really matter since he rejected me, so I went for someone else.
After a short pause, Ayomide asks, did u kill my mother?!
Shhh…. His nemesis hushes him softly.
You don’t talk until am done. He whispers and snaps his fingers making Ayomide’s lips hold together tightly against the owner’s will.
Fifteen, no fourteen days ago, he continues…. I was with the chief’s daughter, she was quite cooperative actually… Seven days ago, I was with…. Her. He points to Seun’s lifeless body.
Do you understand now?
His dumb audience shakes his head blindly. His mind was obviously lost with this new revelation.
He heaves a sigh of frustration.
I wonder why He protects you; he mutters to himself casting a quick glance at the heavens.
When you were seven, I was ordered to reap your soul. I tried but he didn’t let me, so I took your mothers’.
Two weeks ago, I met the chief’s daughter, threatened to take her soul unless she agreed to set up a date with you seven days from them. Seven days passed and the big guy stopped me again so I tooke her.
Same thing happened last week. I met her.. He gestures to Seun’s body again…and threatened to kill her unless she got you out of jail. I made sure the day fell on the seventh day. she did her part of the bargain but I still couldn’t reap your soul. You know the rest of the story. He says, shrugging his shoulders indifferently.
Ayomide signals to him, drawing his attention to his muted mouth by pointing at it.
Oh.. Okay! He snaps his fingers again and Ayomide’s mouth is released from his control.
I’ve heard you and I’ll pretend am not angry.
But I have some questions;
One, why are you trying to kill me?
Two, why do you need someone…. No.. Why must a woman be around me before you can kill me?
Three, who is the HE you keep talking about?
His nemesis grins and shakes his head.
You see, the way…
Sorry… Ayomide interrupts. I don’t know if its just me but what’s your deal with the number seven? Seven day… seven years… What’s it about?
First, for your first question, I don’t know why you should be dead but its pretty important to my superiors, and I’m just following orders.
Yea, my superiors.
Like who and who?
Errr…It’ll be a lot of stress to go through but our boss is death nd his subordinates are bi…..
Death?! You’re joking right?… He bursts out laughing, falling over the rock in the process.
His adversary stares blankly at the laughing man.
After seconds of doing this, he continues’
As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted.. He looks at Ayomide while saying this and the latter had to hold his mouth with his hands to prevent himself from laughing again.
…I necessarily don’t need a female. Anyone would do, so far you have feelings for them.
Thirdly, HE… He points at the star laden sky, …is the HIM that keeps saving you.
HIM? You mean God?
Yes. That’s not what we call him though, but that’s none of your business.
Still puzzled, Ayomide says, but.. but I barely know him. It was my mum that used to speak of him when she was alive. Infact, we were talking about Him the night you killed her. He looks at his nemesis angrily.
Yea, yea... The hooded figure replies uninterested and intentionally ignoring the look on Ayomide’s face … I know. That’s what baffles me. Apparently He knows you better than you know Him and He must have something big planned out for you hence my failure in reaping your soul. I bet my superiors know what its about too.
Lastly, and this is where am coming to, seven denotes perfection right?
Yes. Ayomide replies nodding his head in accordance.
Okay… Reaping souls is like an art and….
Art? Reaping? You mean like a Reaper?
Exactly! Now you’re getting me.
But we only hear of reapers in stories and myths.
True.. Congratulations on meeting one in your lifetime then, he flashes a fake smile.
This is strange. I don’t believe you one bit. He follows that with a look of contempt.
Well, you don’t have to. Infact, you won’t have time to understand.
You see, my superiors figured He was gonna save you again so there’s a plan set out already for next time. I won’t be coming back, someone else would be and trust me, you’re gonna die.
What if He saves me again?
Trust me… He smiles.. He can’t.
So, if I were you, I’ll set my house in order.
Oh, I forgot, you have no home anymore. So stay alive then because in seven days, someone more brutal than I would ever be is coming for you.
What else can be more brutal than… Say…. Death?
Exactly.. That’s what’s coming.
Sorry.. He whispers.. That’s who is coming.
Death? Who?… Please be serious..
And he vanishes into thin air, with the words seven days echoing in the woods.
• • •
The sun rays hurt his eyes and he uses his hand to shield his eyes. His other hand clutches a hand stitched bag that had a black book sticking out of it.
His hut should be somewhere here he says to himself as he scans the environment with his eyes dark from the shadow cast on them by his hand. He then sees it in the distance and hurries towards it. The thatch roof wasn’t properly constructed and he saw the palm fronds losing at the edges already.
Anybody home? He says. Hello?
Who’s there? a voice answers, its origin somewhere around the hut. Ayomide walks around and is a little bit shocked when he sees an old man walking towards him. The man is almost bent over and he supported himself with a walking stick, the effect giving him a look reminiscent of Quasimodo. His legs couldn’t spread apart that much making his walking pace worryingly slow, that befitting a snail.
Good day Baba. Ayomide says and prostrates
Good day my son. The old man replies acknowledging him by gently tapping his bowed head with the tip of his walking stick.
As Ayomide rises up, he asks, I’m looking for Baba Ifajire.
I am he who you seek. Why do you search for me? The old man replies
I need your help Baba. My life is in danger.
What do you mean my son?
Sir, I met a grim reaper and he said….
A grim what?! Baba asks, his voice registering shock as well as disbelief.
A grim reaper sir.
You lie, my son. Nobody sees a reaper and lives to talk about it.
Baba, it’s true o! He said I have seven days to live, that Death himself is coming to kill me and this is the third day already.
Haa! Baba exclaims …Ojo ti fe lo tan! (Your days have almost ended)
Meet me inside now, and he turns towards the rear of the compound.
Ayomide rushes back to the entrance, and crouches to go through the door as it was too low to accommodate his six feet one frame adequately. Entering the room, he meets the old man already dressed in a revolting traditional herbalist outfit. The black and red costume looked repulsive as well as scary.
How did he get here so fast? He wonders but the herbalist’s tense mood made him keep quiet and just watch on.
Incantations accompanied with the sound of the gong rent the air as Baba complemented the noise with matching footsteps. He occasionally uses the ” ….” in his hand to stroke the statues and idol images in the altar. Some were small, others quite large but all carried a similar frown, obviously the work of the same artist. Probably the Baba himself Ayomide presumes.
About half an hour later, the herbalist stops and sits on the mat gesturing to sit as well.
Show me your palm. Ayomide stretches out his left hand towards him.
Right one! Baba barks and Ayomide tenders his right palm. He puts a cowry in the outstretched palm of the troubled youth and continues chanting the incantations. Sweat was beginning to build up on his body and long streaks ran down along his chest and stomach making his body appear more grotesque.
After a while, the old man opens his eyes and looks towards Ayomide, his pupils were teary as he feared the worst for the toddler who hadn’t even tasted life.
Getting past the threat of a reaper is an unlikelihood, getting past that of Death is impossible, He says
Ayomide sulks in his seat and clasps his head.
I’m finished. He manages to say. This is the….
However… The Herbalist interrupts, …there is yet another way. Nobody has quite accomplished this feat in ages but it is said King Hezekiah of old escaped the threat of death.
Ayomide’s eyes light up with hope at this revelation. They later dim out when he recalls the words of the reaper “You won’t be the first to try…. neither would you be the first to fail”
He recounts this to the herbalist and the old man takes time to explains the faults in the statement.
He said you won’t be the first to fail meaning many have failed, not all. If nobody had succeeded, he would have said something else. Maybe, “you would fail like everyone else or you won’t be the first to survive”
That’s true sef… Ayomide says agreeing with the herbalist’s theory.
However, that’s the threat of a reaper not death himself. Some reapers have been killed but I really don’t know if the spell that’s would work on one would have the same effect on death himself.
Baba wait… Ayomide asks confused. ..am lost here. How are we supposed to make death suffer death?
My son. there are many things of the outside world we humans can never understand. Even if it doesn’t kill him, it should have an effect.
Okay, well said.
There is a clause though. Baba interjects
You need to find a warrior who has seen a reaper before or else this spell wouldn’t be potent.
Baba, now you contradict yourself. How would a warrior who has seen a reaper be alive if nobody of recent has survived his threat?
The herbalist lets out a sly laugh. This chap still has a lot to learn, he thinks.
My son, reapers are everywhere, in battles, burials even in forests but the battles and wars have the highest attendance because of the number of people that would die as a result of the fight but some soldiers do survive, that’s if they are saved early and their wounds aren’t fatal.
Oh… okay. Where am I going to find such a warrior then? It could be anybody. Ayomide says
Baba Ifajire sinks deep in thought and after a few seconds, he looks up and enters a trance. Ayomide stares in amazement as he watches the old man’s body remain stiff, even his eyes were not blinking.
After a while, he says, Ogunjimi Babatunde in the Kosoko village. He has seen a reaper once. in a battle he fought some years back.
He then snaps out of the trance and looks at Ayomide, did you get it?
Yes, Baba. He then repeats the name a couple more times so it would stick to his memory.
Baba Ifajire the hands him an amulet; a small object wrapped in a red cloth with a small rope attached to it.
See to it that you have this around your neck anywhere you go.
Yes Baba. Thank you Baba. He stands to leave, dusts his hands and pants and bumps his head on the lintel as he passed the doorway cursing silently because of it.
When he got out of the hut, the sun is scorching hot but he ventures into it anyways following the path through which he came. The herbalist pokes his head out of the doorway and blesses him as he disappeared on the horizon.
May the gods of our land come to your aid. He whispers when all he saw was the head of Ayomide and retires into his hut.
• • •
Ayomide runs through the woods at a blinding pace; his lungs are burning and his heartbeats outrageous. He dosen’t stop though and runs farther and farther into the woods. He stops after some time to listen and see if he could hear the footsteps of Babatunde but all he hears are the hoots of the owls and croaks from the frogs in the nearby swamp.
After hearing nothing resembling the footsteps of his companion, he continues running, his hand clutching the leather bag on him tightly.
After running some more miles, he collides with a body that was hidden in the darkness.
His joy knows no bounds and he feels relief after realizing it was Babatunde he had run into.
Thank God. He mutters while trying to catch his breath.
How did you get ahead of me though? I thought I left you behind.
He places his hand on the shoulder of Babatunde and the body swings away from his grasp. He manages his surprise and looks up to see a knife tied to a rope stuck in Babatunde’s head. The body was suspended from the tree and was dangling from it.
What? He screams.
He turns to run and is halted by a hooded fellow. The moonlight gave him a menacing look and where his face was meant to be was pitch darkness.
The Critter put a hand to Ayomide’s head and his long fingers dug into his flesh. He then says some incantations and Ayomide watches in shock as his soul gradually crept out of his body.
The pain was overwhelming and he cried out in agony.
In desperation, he stuck out his hand and a hand dragged him up.
He opens his eyes to see Babatunde’s eyes prying over him.
Ayomide nods in affirmative and hurriedly sits up.
I saw you struggling and figured you were having a bad dream, so I woke you up.
Thanks. Ayomide says in a low tone.
Don’t mention. He goes over to the other end of the hut, drags a clay pot out and pour for himself a white liquid inside his cup, also made of clay.
Palm wine? He asks
No… Am fine. Ayomide replies
Okay then. He gets a stool and places it right at the entrance of the hut, his big frame blocking almost all the light coming into the hut.
Wanna talk about it?
Huh?…. What did you say?
I asked if you wanted to talk about the nightmare?
Oh that… No.. Never mind… It was just about a fight I had at the stream once.
Really? Babatunde asks sarcastically
Yes, its nothing…Ayomide replies unaware of the sarcasm in his host’s voice.
Alright then. He finishes his drink, tosses his cup in the corner and heads for one of the mats in the hut.
Its time for me to sleep. You should do the same, tomorrow would be strenuous, especially for you. He winks and the moonlight catches his face at an angle that made him look like a sea pirate.
Ayomide notices this and stares in amazement.
The latter gets uncomfortable and asks; why are you staring?
Ayomide quickly snaps out of it and apologizes.
His host shrugs his shoulders and lays to sleep. He falls asleep quickly, too quickly Ayomide figures.
When he was sure Babatunde was deep in sleep; his loud snores assured him, he stands to leave the hut and only looks back when he was basking in the moonlight.
The subtle rhythmic movement of Babatunde’s back due to the rising and collapsing of his ribs made him smile for a reason. He was grateful to this man and was still very much surprised at how fast he got his acceptance to join him in his quest.
It was yesterday and he had struggled into the kosoko village after walking for two straight days. He had begged for food and water but nobody obliged to his pleas except Babatunde and that was only after he had explained why he had come. On normal circumstances, he would have suspected foul play but then, what chances does he have , he was gonna die in less than three days.
After walking for a while, he climbs the branch of a mango tree and balances himself on a branch.
He digs into his bag and brinks out the black book that was in it.
Quickly dusting it,
THE HOLY BIBLE
glistened on the cover of the book. He hesitates for a second and opens its cover for the first time in twenty three years. The first time since his mother died.
A page was book marked and Psalm 23 was highlighted with charcoal marks. He remembers how his mum loved reading and how that particular passage always comforted her. He then leans forward, sticks the book into the moonlight and starts reading;
The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He maketh me lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
Even when I walk through the valley of death
I shall fear no evil…..
I won’t do that if I were you. A voice interrupts
Huh? Ayomide looks up and sees the hooded man.
What the? Not you again? He says jumping from his seat. I still have two days left.
You believed a reaper?
Well… Yes… He said you people had dignity.
The succubus laughs out.
I’m pretty sure he never said that. It also works well for me, since you guys haven’t prepared at all.
Guys? What do you mean? Its just me.
So you lie to the devil. How do you think we found you easily? Why do you think the herbalist told you to go look for him?
Yes… That man has been looking for death for years, he led us to you.
You lie! Babatunde is my friend and we are going to kill you when the seven days elapse.
The hooded man shakes his head slowly.
The other reaper said you were smart, I disagree with him on all fronts.
So wait… Ayomide says…his voice stuttering.. You are death?
No o! Me ke? Death is way bigger than me, he’ coming soon though, had to stop at Babatunde’s hut first.
At that moment, a scream rents the air and the bats and owls take to the skies in the wake of it.
Babatunde? Ayomide gasps… That’s Babatunde!
What’s happening to him?
You mean what has happened?.. He’s dead of course.
Then he pauses. Oh.. My Boss is here. The hooded fellow then prostrates in Ayomide’s direction.
Why are you prostrating to me?
HE’S PROSTRATING TO ME… A voice thunders behind him.
He turns around to look at his doom and hits the ground with a thump.
Oh shit! Dozed off again… Thank God! He wipes his face, picks his bible from the ground and dusts it.
What the hell was that? It seemed so real.. I hope Baba…. Shit! Babatunde! He bawled and ran in the direction of the hut.
On getting to the hut, he looks inside but the hut’s empty. He runs around the compound, yelling “Babatunde” as he runs but nobody answers and as he’s about to give up when a shadow rises in front in him.
He looks up and sees Babatunde bound in barb wire, suspended in the air. His body had been battered and one eye socket was empty. Still shocked and scared, he jumps in fear when he sees a figure in the distance. Its hand was raised and the fore finger pointed in his direction.
He pauses for a minute and strains his eyes to see the face of the advancing figure and as the figure came into the light….
• • •
Oh shit… Oh… Oh shit… No… You can’t kill me like this Ayomide pleads as Death advances on his position. He kneels down and raises his hand in submission.
Okay.. I have agreed. You can kill me… But on one condition.
Death lets out a sly laugh.
You’re giving me… he beats his chest …Death…a condition?
No…no..no.. Its not like that… See it as a… He pauses to think.
Favour!… Yes, see it as a favour.
Nope. Death replies briefly. He is standing right in front of the kneeling man.
Please.. If you’re going to kill me, at least tell me why.
The hooded man halts and ponders for a while.
Okay. Ayomide’s face light up in delight.
Ayomide heaves a sigh of relief as his request is granted, he looks up to see his adversary and staggers backwards when he sees the face of Death. That’s if it could be called a face.
The hood gave it a defined shape as the shape you would call its head was formless. No eyes, no nose, no mouth, no physical features, it just was the replica of a big bag of dark smoke.
Ayomide recalls the darkest smoke he had ever seen, that of burnt bamboo but this took the word dark to another height, and the slowly descent of the moon helped no matters as he could see much less than he saw before. How was I supposed to kill this?, he reasons.
Okay, Death starts …too many times have we seen revivals happen right under our noses; the Moses revival, Paul’s revival, even His son’s revival. He points at the heavens. …all the…
Ayomide clears his throat softly disrupting the speech of his nemesis. Death shoots him a look of contempt, he sees no eyes but his heart burns with fear.
Sorry o! All this people you mentioned, Paul, Mo…who?
Moses. Death corrects
Yes, Moses.. Who are they? How do they concern me?
Death looks on confused. He directs his gaze to the book in Ayomide’s right hand and asks, what do you do with that book?
Ehmm… I just started reading it. Are all these people in the bible world?
Bible world? How dumb can you get?
Everybody, I mean everybody in that book lived, including me.
You’re in the book too? Ayomide asks puzzled.
Of course. I’ve lived through time. Only Him.. He points at the sky, ..His son and the angels have lived longer than I have.
That means you were before the Devil? Ayomide says
No, he is a fallen angel. Got kicked out by Michael before they created me.
All these names you call, Michael, Paul and Mo… Nevermind… How are they my business?
As a mat….
Wait! Ayomide interrupts him.
What’s the name of God’s son?
The smoke disorients a little at the mention of what Ayomide says and he pretends not to notice.
I can’t say it.
Wait… I’ll remember… Read it sometime yesterday. I think it was…
Don’t say it! Death commands
Jesus.. That was it! Jesus!
At that, Death stumbles back, the smock scatters haphazardly and Ayomide looks on confused. Soon enough, he regains his composure.
I warned you not to say….
Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Ayomide screams. That’s your weakness shey? Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! He dances around the obviously shaked Death and keeps chanting the only one name that seemed to have given him a chance at surviving.
After a while, he removes a pen knife from his cloth, transfers the bible to his left hand and the weapon to his right. I musn’t miss this. This might be my only chance.
He steps forward and stabs Death in its heart and the wounded creature falls back clutching its chest. A red flame burns in the wound and black liquid oozed out of it. After staggering for a while, it spins and falls to the ground. It burns off completely until a little patch of black powder remains on the ground.
Ayomide makes sure he’s gone and let’s out a shout. He skips in joy and dances like the mad man the children used to watch dance in the village square.
I have killed Death! He screames and celebrates. After a while, he feels dizzy all of a sudden. He holds his head with his hands to prevent it from ‘falling’ and ends up falling in a heap.
• • •
Ayomide coughs because of the smoke in his nose. He strains himself to open his eyes and feels a migraine in his head. His hands and feet couldn’t move, I’m paralysed! He concludes.
Above him, he sees a symbol; a triangle inside a triangle embedded in a circle. There was some markings and drawing of animals in the symbol; snakes and scorpions, the ones he could see clearly.
Oh, you’re up.. Good.
The voice sounds familiar and he gasps in fear when he sees Death looking down on his body.
What the? How come? You were dead!
Death laughs and shakes his head. So you believed you killed Death? Even God will not kill me.
But..bu..but I saw you die.
No.. You couldn’t have, you were sleeping.
Its not possible.. Ayomide argues, he tries to move his hands and sees that they are fastened to a tree with barbed wires. His legs too. And he was hanging from the tree.
Wait o! …How…when..how did I get up here?
Don’t rush me.. Death replies, one question after the other.
But..but.. It felt real.
Yeah, it had to. I needed you engrossed in it so I could finish this. He points at the image. Ayomide could see it clearly now. It had shapes of bulls, snakes, scorpions, and a line of people, slaves as he saw it tied to each other.
When did I sleep? There was no break.
Hmm… Remember when I pointed at you.
Ayomide has a flash back and recalls what hot it happened.
As for how you got up there, remember your friend?
Yes. ..you got up there the same way he did.
Ayomide tugs at the wires but the more he pulled, the more it dug into his flesh and he cries out in agony.
I won’t do that If I were you. Death says
He could see clearly now. He sees Death’s face and also sees the bible in one corner.
That’s out of reach, he concludes.
He continues his search for an escape route with his eyes but gets distracted when a dart of smoke shoots up from the centre of the image. The smoke has the shape of a dog, or is it a wolf, he quickly analyzes.. It has fangs and its eyes were red as blood but as it stretches to get at him growling in the process, the smoke retreats.
What was that?! That thing had teeth! Sharp big teeth!
Death laughs. Aloud.
Of course it does. That’s a hell hound. They are waiting for you down there.
At that, he walks to the center of the triangle, spreads his legs and looks upward at the bound man.
This might hurt a bit. He says grinning.
He starts chainting incantations. Smoke emit from the image as he does and Ayomide suddenly feels a sharp pain.
Argh, he grunts. What are you doing to me?
Reaping you of course!
But why is mine like this. Tinuke and seun didn’t go through all of this. They just died once.
Death giggles. I don’t get to do this a lot but I’ve enjoyed it every single time.
I’m guessing none of the reapers mentioned it. Do you think its easy to reap an Angel?
Angel? His voice is overshadowed by his cries as the pain becomes immense.
To be continued.
Contrary to what we posted last week, the last episode of seven would be posted On Wednesday, 27-3-13.
Please bear with us.
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