It was on a normal Saturday morning that the world decided to go to shit. I’d just returned to my apartment after meeting a client, all worn out and tired. I took a cold shower and made myself some breakfast—corn flakes, toast and jam, tea and vodka.
I never eat anything without alcohol. Call me an alcoholic or whatever, but I could give you concrete reasons why alcohol remains the greatest creation of man, with condoms and contraceptive pills coming in second place.
The loud piercing shrill from my blackberry made me jump with fear. I checked the caller ID to find that it was my friend Funke who lived in Lagos. I hissed and put the phone on silent. The bitch knew better than to call me after the incident at her place. The slutty bitch had accused me of stealing her cheap mediocre trinket. The thought of it forever made me want to vomit. After that awful day, I wished nothing but a painful death for her.
After eating, I checked my phone and to my surprise, there were twelve missed calls, all from Funke. I knew something was wrong. I called her back, but her number was no longer available. A few minutes later, there was rapid knocking on my door. I opened it to find my neighbor, Teacher Nkechi, moving from one foot to the other. She looked quite a sight. Her eyes were wide open with her lower lip trembling and her hands vibrating like a brand new dildo.
“Are you ok?’’ She sniffed in and tried to speak but a throaty sound emerged. “Come in,’’ I said ushering her in.
“The end has come.’’ She found her voice at last. “The end has come Margaret.’’
“What do you mean the end has come?’’ I said in a panicked voice. My first thought was that Teacher Nkechi had finally gone mad.
“You are not watching the news?’’
“No. You know I never watch that nonsense.’’
“But you have to.’’ She was almost yelling.
“OK.’’ I looked at her questioningly. Mental health institution and the open street kept flashing through my mind. I switched the TV on.
There were displays of breaking news everywhere about cities that had been swept away by huge tides. Earthquakes had reduced countries to rubbles. Volcanic eruptions here and there. It was pure chaos. Armageddon at its peak.
“Wow, it really is the end.’’ There were images of people carrying placards around and shouting “repentance is the key!”
“Where’s your husband?’’ I asked her.
“He’s in the house.’’ She said and shook her head. “Did you know that parts of Lagos have been destroyed by water? In the next few hours Lagos will be completely washed away. Everything will be gone.’’
I sighed and then it occurred to me. “No wonder that bitch kept calling me.’’ I whispered to myself. I knew she must have died a horrible death. I smiled unconsciously.
Teacher Nkechi spoke out more clearly. “I am so glad Henry and I decided to wait before we had child. Can you imagine eh? What would I have done with a child at this time?” I did not reply. ”Let me go back to my husband.’’
After she left, I settled in my sofa and continued drinking my vodka. I looked at the center table to find a Watchtower magazine on it. It was really ironic because the previous day, a Jehovah’s Witness had come over to my house. He preached to me and left a magazine. He spoke about life after death in which there’d be no more suffering—a pretty place full of hope and merriment. I believed none of that crap. It was all bullshit to me, just a bunch of stories people made up to feel better. I did not know when I slept off. All I remembered was Teacher Nkechi coming inside my sitting room looking more dreadful than she did earlier on.
“Margaret wake up. Pick a few things you need because we are all moving to the next town.’’
“Why?’’ I asked rubbing my eyes.
“Were you not watching the news? This country is going to be wiped out if the tide keeps rising. Why are you so calm? Don’t you fear death?’’ I didn’t know which question to answer first.
“’I’ll pick a few things.’’
“Quickly. My husband will use his car to take a few of us there.’’
“I threw two bottled water, red wine and a new bottle of vodka into a duffel bag. The sound of helicopters I had been hearing became more pronounced. The weather had drastically changed since I last saw it. The clouds were dark like soot and a nerve wrecking cold wind made me shiver.
“Margaret!” I heard my name. It was Henry, Teacher Nkechi’s husband.
“I’m coming.” There was a woman holding a baby and two men out in the street standing close to the bright green Peugeot. We all trouped into the vehicle, and I had to I sit in between the man with the body odor and the woman who suckled her crying baby. She was pleading with the child to stop crying.
“Na God I use take beg you. Stop crying. Abeg, eh? Biko.’’ The child’s crying died down to a whimper. The men talked in low whispers as Henry drove through the tarred road.
“I heard a pastor killed himself in his church.’’ The man behind us spoke up.
“That is terrible. That is so terrible.’’ The man beside me said shaking his head. “Why would God allow this to happen to his people?’’
I started to laugh. The woman with her baby and Teacher Nkechi turned to look at me with incomprehensible looks in their faces. I think they hated my lack of concern for the whole impending death issue. What they didn’t know was that alcohol had a huge role to play in that. Before leaving, I had poured the needed amount down my throat just to boost my confidence and bravery level. When the rain started to come down in torrents, I thought the car was going to fall. The woman started praying fervently and soon afterwards Teacher Nkechi and the man beside me joined her. A busty woman by the side of the road waved her hands at our car a few minutes after the torrential downpour came to a halt. Henry stopped to let her in. We let her squeeze herself in the backseat with the other man. Her eyes were wet with tears as she kept on sobbing.
“My two children may already be dead,’’ She said out of the blue. “Both of them live in Europe.’’ She sobbed some more. “The devil will not succeed in his plans. His plans will not see completion.’’ I got angry.
“What do you mean the devil? What has he got to do with anything?”
There was that look again, only this time from everyone including Henry whose gaze reflected through the rear view mirror.
“We all knew this day was coming.’’
“Yes Mister Jeff. Only we did not know it would hit us so soon.’’ The man besides me spoke. “So when would the righteous ones leave us?’’
“I think they have already left. Our age has long been rotten from its core. Men sleeping with other men, women with other women. That is the height of it all.’’ Henry answered.
We got to the next town and joined the throng of people setting camp at the local stadium. We too set our bags at a corner and watched as others did the same. A group of religious fanatics were already at the brink of collapsing from praying and singing. I brought out the bottle of gin from my bag and took every mouthful with relish to the unblinking gaze of passers-by.
‘’What?’’ I yelled. ‘’It’s the end of the world. Drink good liquor before you die. You may never have this where you’re going. That’s if you’re actually going somewhere.’’ I grinned widely.
Teacher Nkechi came around to give me a plastic package that contained jollof rice and a can of apple juice. I thanked her. As soon as she left, I gave the can of abomination to a child. There was no time for non-alcoholic drinks when I knew I had little time left in God’s green earth. After eating, I went round looking for a group to pass the time with. A man who seemed familiar was talking to some eager listeners.
“This is a time of tribulations. We must have faith. This is not going to last forever. It will all pass away and then,’’ he paused for dramatic effect, “paradise.’’
“Ahhh…’’ I groaned. I remembered him the moment he mentioned “paradise.” It was the Jehovah’s Witness who had been at my door the previous day. The next group seemed to concentrate on praying at the top of their lungs against an enemy I could not fathom. Satan? The natural disasters happening at each turn? The third group did not even appear fascinating. All they did was sing hymns in sonorous voices, each trying to outdo the other by adding a twisted melody to each line.
The last group garnered my interest at first glance. There was no singing or praying, just talking, public confessions. A man was telling the group that until that morning he always added his garbage to his neighbor’s just so he wouldn’t bother with that part of his life. I sat close to him, my eyes beaming with laughter. I could feel the alcohol taking effect. “I knew it was a terrible thing to do, but I just couldn’t stop. I ask for forgiveness.’’ His oblong head drooped down sorrowfully.
“You are forgiven,” said a woman in her early fifties who looked liked she had just returned from a war zone. Her dark eyes shone in the fluorescent light that lit the stadium that night. There was a thunderous applause from everyone. There was a brief pause. I soon realized that everyone was waiting for me to speak up. I stood up and grinned unnecessarily.
“Um, where do I start?’’
“You state your name and your profession and then share with us your short comings.’’ I nodded.
“My name is Margaret Ayodele. I am or was a stripper slash prostitute.’’ There were some knowing looks from a few.
“Don’t look at me that way. We’re all going to die soon so save your judgmental looks.’’
Murmurs erupted from each corner.
“Moving on…I have made a lot of mistakes, committed a few crimes, broke the law a few times and have crossed a few lines, but my job was never one of them. I know many of you expect me to say I regretted being a hooker but no. I loved what I did, and it brought me more money I than I would have gotten working as a secretary. Thank you.’’
I sat back down, and a series of half hearted applause followed suit. The pot-bellied man to my right stood up and cleared his throat.
“My name is Pius Mustafa. I was a bank manager. When my wife was still alive, I slept with her sister and got her pregnant. No one except me knows that the boy who calls me uncle is my son. I hope God will forgive me.’’ He sniffed his nose and cleared his throat again.
A woman and a teenage boy joined the group. He continued:
“Where I worked, I usually took bribes before I gave out loans. It was not something . . . ’’
“Mister Pius from transcontinental bank?’’ The new comer asked with a thick Yoruba accent.
“Yes?’’ the baffled man replied.’’
The woman tied her wrapper firmly and secured her headgear.
“Today you die!’’ she shouted. “You killed my eldest son all because we didn’t have bribe money. The poor boy suffered in the hospital for days before he passed away.’’
She was speaking to everyone now, trying to pass her woeful story across.
“And now you’re here, sorry for what?”
The woman pushed her way forward and broke two Star beer bottles on his head. Blood spilled in different directions. No one had seen the woman with any bottles. Soon afterwards, she was hitting his already wounded head on the track.
My mouth fell open at the strength of the petite woman. The bloodlust I saw in her eyes and the trembling that accompanied her rage and frustration made me less doubtful of where her superhuman strength came from. It took the help of three men to pull her off of him. Mister Pius was barely recognizable after the incident.
I decided I had had my fill of excitement for that night and should sleep.
When I opened my eyes it was the early hours of dawn. I looked around, some people were still praying. As I looked around for aspirin to curb my headache, blood-curdling screams went off in the direction of the front gate.
People started tumbling on each other to run out through the side gates of the stadium. They all looked like goats trying to run away from the slaughterhouse even though they clearly knew there was no escaping it.
I could hear a loud whooshing sound and went to the top of the stairs between the stadium seats to see well.
A few moments later, I saw why the animals had been spooked. A raging tall wall of water was headed towards the stadium, something I knew not even the top swimmers in the world could survive. I heard the final drum sound in my head and recalled Teacher Nkechi’s words.
The end really had come.
I needed a final drink but to my dismay, there was no liquor in my hand. The only time I really needed it, it was not there.
The wave of water crashed in.
I woke up to the sound of thunder and the steady fall of cold rain on me. I looked around and realized I had fallen asleep on my balcony. My hair and clothes were soaking wet, including the copy of the Watchtower magazine I had been reading.
Image by Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation Research University Network via Flickr
About the Author:
My name is Erhu Amreyan. I’m a twenty year old medical biochemistry student from Nigeria. I love books and Anime in that order. I’m currently working on a supernatural/fantasy trilogy for young adults. I strongly believe African mythology and religions should be deeply explored and I’m a huge fan of Nnedi Okorafor.