The day I made a pact with the Devil, he wasn’t spotting a curved horn, neither did he have a tail as sharp as a two-edged sword. His eyes weren’t hollow depths that coughed forth wriggling maggots. And no, he had no protruding fangs or decayed fingers. He wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. He was just normal. Like you and me.
The Devil bore a name, Kosiso. Something that bore an attachment to God. Yes, even he knew God too. He must have been a descendant of Lucifer, because just like him, he glowed like the morning sun. He was beautiful even. He had this deep voice that made my stomach knot in many places, like a rope tied by a deranged kid. And when he smiled, I forgot Heaven was the goal. I wanted to latch onto those lips and suckle to my heart’s content. But just like everything which seemed too good to be true, Kosiso wasn’t left out. Like Lucifer, he was controlling, and manipulative in a very subtle way. He was a mirage which I didn’t realise at first.
The day we met, the sky had rolled out her drums for a doleful dirge. I was in the company of my age mates, en route the iman idim to fetch water for the morning meals. The atmosphere was solemn, the sky a procession of dark clouds raging to and fro. Abasi ikpayoñ was at it again. Great was his wrath these days, so much I wondered if he’d plague us like he did our brothers of old, the Egyptians. I had fumbled with the nkwa on my waist when my eyes caught his face. Time fell to a halt, and not even the rumblings of the thunder had my attention again.
That day had birthed my doom. But how could I have known that the things I desperately seek had the power to clutch me in its grasp and crunch my bones mercilessly? I was asked to aspire, go after what I wanted without looking back and settling for less. Alas, it seemed what I aspired and yearned for had found me instead.
I met Kosiso again, this time not in the company of age mates, nor under the weight of a water pot. I was alone, returning from the evening stall where my mother had sent me to run errands. A polythene bag dangled from my right hand, while I hummed to a tune I loved so well, swabbing at the mosquitoes that speared at my exposed ankles. One minute I was alone, and the next, he was there, right before me. The song fiddled out and died on my tongue. I had seen him before, but that was nothing compared to the sensation that coursed through me as I saw him up close. His height was to die for. He dwarfed me instantly and self-consciousness washed over me. My legs wobbled uncomfortably, even as I titled my weight from one foot onto the other.
When he finally spoke, his eyes held mine captive. I couldn’t look away even if I wanted to. He had a voice that dripped of emerald and wool – deep, commanding, yet appealing. My heart sang within me. In that instant, I knew I wanted him with all of me. The awareness had me quivering with pleasure.
Our meetings became frequent. I bid the seconds of the day as I hurried through house chores and errands just to be with him. My mother commented on the renowned vigour with which I ungrudgingly went about my tasks. I only smiled and told her I had realised that there was no need to argue over menial chores. All I wanted was to please her. My mother was more than pleased.
I caught the disapproving glares of the other girls each time I toured the clan with Kosiso, their eyes green with envy following as they trailed my every step. I wasn’t bothered. They could only shoot daggers with their eyes. Looks never killed.
One evening I told Kosiso I had read about a vampire’s kiss and asked him if he knew what that was. His response was a deep laugh that made his shoulders quake. His eyes thinned out into slits as he reared his head back and laughed. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen, and just then, I knew I was hopelessly in love. Wasn’t that what love was? That feeling that made your insides jelly and left you with a silly smile on your face?
He asked where I read that from. A book, I told him. Was he opposed to reading? No, he said, but he didn’t want his woman filling her head with vain thoughts. Vampires were fairy tales, he rambled on. He called me his woman. My ovaries were on fire. I persisted. I wanted to know his take on the subject. He said the kiss of a vampire was one to kill, make alive, claim, and revel in the ecstasy of possession. A symbiotic bond – feed off me, and I off you. I told him that was all I yearned for, but he had no fangs with which to mark me as his. He chuckled. Yes, he didn’t have fangs all right, but he knew a way to mark me, brand me as his, and even death couldn’t separate us.
That should have been my clue to flee. I didn’t.
I watched as he reached into the satchel for something. Curious, my eyes trailed his every action. When at last he held the object in front of me, I stared, bewildered. A razor blade. I listened as he spelt it out to me, my heart doing a flip the whole time. Oath-taking, that was what Kosiso suggested. I could hear my mother’s voice clearly in my head now, preaching the sermon of the sacredness of blood, of the devilish act of making a pact with the Devil. The Holy Book warned against it. I told it to Kosiso, but he chuckled.
What did my mother know? Hearsay words from self-acclaimed clergies who wouldn’t even see past Heaven’s gate on the last day. Deception dripped from their lips like water from a punctured faucet. The Holy Book was not biased in making blood pacts. If so, why then did God himself shed the blood of an animal to provide clothing for Adam and Eve when they transgressed in the garden? And what of Abraham when he held a knife to the throat of his own heir? A true test of friendship and deep love for the one he revered. Remember the Passover on the Egyptian soil, the slaughter of animals as a pact with the angel of doom to spare the lives of the Israelite bloodlines? And if I wasn’t convinced still, how about the last of all, Jesus, son of Joseph, who willingly shed his blood on the cross to bloat out the iniquities of mankind? This would be just like one of those heroic acts, a test of our love, and the proof of our commitment to want to be together forever.
Maybe he was right. Mother never opened the Holy Book for a day, yet here was Kosiso, reeling out stories I had never heard before, but which sounded true. I believed him. Besides, I yearned for our love to blossom and last till the end of time, and if this was all it took, then so be it.
He asked if I was ready. I wasn’t. Yet I nodded, I wanted to be strong for us. For our love. He took my thumb in his hand and brushed his lips faintly on it. With a glazed smile, he made a swift stroke on it with the razor blade. My eyes stung and saliva pooled in my mouth. I watched red liquid trickle down my thumb. The kiss of a vampire was one to kill, make alive, claim, and revel in the ecstasy of possession.
He did the same on his thumb unflinchingly. Blood oozing from the incisions, we pledged our hearts to each other, calling on the elements and universe to bear us witness, and judge us accordingly if we did contrary. In life and death, we belonged to each other. The pact was sealed with the suction of the blood that flowed from the other’s thumb, and even the skies bellowed her affirmation.
It is only but a year now, and these dark confines have been my only companion. I do not mourn the demise of my lover. For who mourns he who dies of an abominable death – snuffing out his own life? Instead, I mourn the life that is ever flitting before my eyes, for each day he stands before me, hands outstretched, demanding that I join him at the other side where life never thrives. I cannot refuse, for the pact had sealed our fate.