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It was on a mid-January afternoon that Maina found himself by the Buxton Medical College school pharmacy again. And was usual to him, he sought to purchase a box of oxycodone across the counter though inadvisable, with him being well aware such a drug couldn’t be bought just anywhere more so at your local pharmacy. You see he had struck a friendship, though blatantly opportunistic he did make clear, with Siunwa, who was the local boy, say man: Who worked for the owner of the pharmacy herself. But since the owner rarely saw use of showing up to manage her own microbusiness, she just taught Siunwa the basics: which drugs were most commonly purchased and for what, the arrangement of the drugs on the shelves and instructions for dosage. Now it wasn’t like Siunwa had any medical or pharmaceutical knowledge, no, he was just some brainless vagabond, intelligent in his own way but completely being manipulated by the pharmacy’s owner for low wages, some perceived. And why, in the first place, did Maina need such a lucrative painkiller that was used to practically treat cancer patients?

Maina had been alive for more than two centuries, though he didn’t really consider such living: more like surviving. And in those two hundred years he sought means to ease his apparent immortality; drugs. There were a couple of reasons as to why he took them as with anyone. No one really just stumbles upon drug and substance abuse just for the sake of it. One must have their reasons. Perhaps escaping depression, perhaps enjoying the momentary high in order to forget life’s troubles and problems. Maina’s cause and reason for his obvious addiction was her: Bei. They had been together for literally decades, two supernaturals in a natural world living as though they were made for each other; as though they were made to be together forever. And when she died in 82’, at the hands of Al-Maawy, who killed her in the name of defending the integrity and sovereignty of the Onikan witch clan of Ajab, Maina just broke down. He had lost his tether. The only girl who kept his body, his soul, at bay, in this world, from drifting into the next. But it wasn’t as if it simply could. He had survived two centuries without dying, and now that his intended actually did, he had nothing to draw his attention away from the constant bodily pain he experienced from the very day he became a supernatural. Maina was a jini. One of his kind. Entirely rarely yet, for some said, and it was rumoured that jini were made or emerged at most once every thousand or so years. A jini, according to Onikan folklore, was an individual who existed both as a ghost and as a human being, such that they were both halves of two worlds in one whole. Jini had the ability to exist immaterially in a physical world. Rumour had it they manipulated psyches and minds for whatsoever reasons they had, whatever their intentions may have been. But this apparent state of being both dead and living was not so godly-intended. Jini had to endure immense constant pain for their entirety of their lives (and this was entirely long for what was dead could not die), because their bodies had to withstand their apparent existence in the limbo between life and death. Were their bodies alive, were they ghosts? Apparently, even the universe couldn’t decide. It just allowed them exist as they are. In pain. Forever.

No one really knew how to precisely kill a jini. And if there was anyone with such crucial information, Maina would have ended his own miserable life ages ago. After Bei’s death, he didn’t need life, he needed the peaceful unknown void of death. He wanted to be with her. But after multiple attempts at his own life: ingesting poison, bleeding to death, motor vehicle accident, bullet to the head; he got pretty appalled with his inadequate state of everlasting life. He drank poison, died but woke up a measly hours later. He slit his wrists in a bath tub, died and awoke yet later. He even walked away from a head-on-collision accident, he once guiltily caused for his dire need of eternal sleep, unscathed but bruised insignificantly. It was as though an appropriate way to die wasn’t yet invented for him. And he was in a dilemma, stuck between a rock and a hard place, for if he did not die as he slept, he’d wake to that same constant pain that Bei had once so made him forget. A pain of indecision. A pain of doubt on whether one should be living or dead. The pain of lack of choice. And it was true, Maina did not really choose his current state of being. He did not choose to fall in love with a famous witch only to lose her decades later, all in the name of safety for the majority. He did not choose to drift back into pain soon afterwards. And if it was anyone else (probably not imbued with the power of the paranormal) such addiction to oxycodone would have killed them in a matter of years. But with Maina, he had been addicted for decades. And likewise, he presumed his immunity to death aligned as well with overdose-induced means, so he gave up. He became unwilling to live. Now it was a bit of an oxymoronic paradox being unwilling to live. First of all, he couldn’t really kill himself no matter how much he tried. However, he realized, though rather a while long later, that Bei, even in the afterlife, wouldn’t want him to spend the rest of eternity in desperate search of his own mortality. She would have wanted him to be better, do better, live better. Even so, reluctantly.

Siunwa spoke across the counter into the room that was only populated by Maina, “Look, I managed to sneak off a couple of sachets off the shelf but I couldn’t get a whole box off without Miss Amondi noticing. I guess that will do well enough for now”

Siunwa never really asked Maina what he was using the oxycodone for, he just provided it. At an affordable price of course. Obviously, with the diminutive amount of money he was being paid by Miss Amondi, one wasn’t shocked at what he did behind the books. Although it would be a fallacy to say he wasn’t the least bit curious. Siunwa was the dictionary definition of curiosity in Buxton Medical College. Every once in a while, as the students learnt in class he zipped up and about so he learned what they learned. He was curious, and curious was he. Moreover, Siunwa actually loved to gossip. He loved the mini-drama that ensued on a daily basis at the college. He loved hearing about relationship squabbles and feud. He loved stories with conflict and dilemma. And truth be told, Buxton Medical College had had enough to its fill in such. So, in an effort to build rapport with his ‘customer-in-confidence’, Siunwa tried to get as much information about Maina’s life as he possibly could from him, and his schoolmates. The college was a small one just off the junction that birthed the Malindi highway through the Malu Bridge. Buxton Medical College was a humble one, of not more than 40 acres of hard dry bare land. Its buildings weren’t storied, with all the classrooms and laboratories at ground level. It had a library, but many referred to it in reference to its size as a practical corridor. The administration lock was not an impressive one, for it also was not storied, with all its offices, independent of hierarchy of position, at the ground level. And it was also crumped. Too crumped, some students had to add. And it was in this crumped environment that a close-knit society of students, teachers, subordinate and ‘insubordinate’ staff was formed. So, it came as no surprise the speed with which a rumour started by the most ambitious girl in school, about the most attractive girl in school, spread to reach the mind of someone as insignificant as the school’s watchman himself. BMC was small, and so was the society that resided within it. After all, fires spread best in a small room filled with oil, than in a large grassed field.

Siunwa tried switching the subject to matters more comprehensive. So, he asked,

“Is what people are saying about you and Toti true? I’m just curious.”

“And what, are people saying about me and Toti!” Now Maina replied somewhat sluggishly unbothered this question, because well that simply was his demeanour. Siunwa presumed it was his addiction to oxycodone that made him so, but he couldn’t be absolutely sure, he had met worse addicts with livelier faces. Moreover, Maina really didn’t care what people said behind his back. He had gotten used to spite and despise for years, what would a couple of prissy, little, spoilt college kids say that could possibly hurt or enrage him, plus he was aware to what Siunwa was referring. And actually, he wasn’t really amused by it. Mayhap, he didn’t even care about it. Toti was apparently, the most attractive girl in BMC, or at least in Maina’s year. She was a short, caramel-skinned, wide-eyed, rather quite smart type of girl. And this among others, was cause for alarm or strict reason to Maina and practically all the other gossipers at campus. For everyone wondered, even Maina, why such a gem of a woman was with the dullest, dimmest personality for miles. And yes, at that moment Toti and Maina were together, or less accurately, they were dating, perhaps seeing each other. It had only been going on for a couple of weeks after Toti’s cataclysmic termination of her and her ex’s, Makiri’s, relationship. And when it ended, the waves of gossip as to the reasons for its termination that zoomed and swept through the grounds were so vast in multiple degrees: with one reason being that perhaps he cheated, most preferably she did, it was a mutual breakup, she had eyes elsewhere. And as Toti landed upon Maina as her eventual rebound, some said, the most latter reason came to realism. It became more realistic, and less yet. Why, because to the entire multitude of people, they wondered, even Maina did, why on Earth would such an attractive vivacious girl pick such a gutter rat?

“That you and her are a thing obviously,” Siunwa managed to retort blatantly ignoring Maina’s obvious indifferent non-verbal cues. Siunwa didn’t really care about people’s opinions or needs. Admittedly, this did make him out to be rather self-centred, even selfish. But he didn’t really see himself as such. He just wanted to liven up his all so uninteresting life. And by any means necessary he would. So, whether or not you were in the mood for his insatiable thirst for discretional information was not really his problem. He had to be entertained, and entertained he would be. Siunwa would even ford various degrees of physical escarpments to reach to where the drama was.

Siunwa was an average height almost stoutly twenty-year-old. His skin was chestnut toned and without a pimple or blemish in place. He was almost stoutly because he wasn’t precisely built with much muscle at his age, though he did have a body that was top heavy. So, he wasn’t necessarily fat, neither was he completely slim or thin. He was more of somewhere in-between. His eyes were not too far apart from each other, and his nose was wide, but not wide enough. One would often wonder why such a beautiful human being found himself completely uninterested in his own life so much so he saw the entertainment in others’. Siunwa himself didn’t really understand himself. Some said he lived in his own world, where he desired whatever he did, but did very little to attain it. Oh, not financially. He was very able to squeeze himself out of many situations, mostly requiring financial input. Many thought perhaps it had to do with his very appealing looks. And if anything, others expected that he should have ended up with Toti. But apparently, she was not of interest to him. Siunwa not only loved the drama, he loved knowing what to know. Apparently, he had this, somewhat sociopathic, somewhat psychopathic (and yes there’s a difference) idea that being in the know of such vital information may be of aid to him some day. It wasn’t like he was going to extort anybody, no. He just thought that knowing things was important, the fact that his knowledge of such gave him entertainment was just a bonus reward. However, like any other normal individual, Siunwa seemed to have his secrets. Like how he was never seen out passed 6.30pm, when the sun set. Anyone around his age would find this incredibly peculiar because, well, how could an individual of twenty years old, retire so early to their homes? Also, and anyone who shared a church with him noticed, Siunwa habitually went to church each Sunday. But it wasn’t always to listen to sermons. Sometimes he went and practically zoned out through the entire sermon. And if one had sharp enough ears, you could hear him humming away to some obscene secular song while the priest or pastor chanted away. He was painfully, adamantly punctual, although some noticed that no cause of concern. And, worst yet, he spoke to himself, a lot. No, not the usual monologue people usual have with themselves, say in front of a mirror or during yard work; he actually picked literal fights with himself, it seemed, got infuriated at practical the bare air and laughed to himself occasionally (perhaps, some joke some ghost had whispered to him when no one was attentive)

At that moment the time was 5.30pm, and the campus was nearly closing for the day, so it was about time the two ‘friends’ went home. Siunwa, in an effort to lighten the mood (though he didn’t really care) retracted his last question and asked Maina,

“Anyways, you’re off home? May I walk with you? Company these days is so dull.”

“Siunwa, I have nothing to tell you, and you won’t weed anything substantial out of me”

“I know. But sort of dating the most beautiful girl at campus must have its perks and petties. So, I’ll walk with you anyway”

Siunwa rustled a backpack that he had kept behind his counter desk where he dispatched medication to his attending customers, put one strap upon his right shoulder, letting the other hang off with half the weight of the bag, and came out from behind the counter to pat Maina on his back as the two ‘sort-of-friends’ left the room. Siunwa made sure to lock the door behind him for Miss Amondi hadn’t insisted enough the need for safety of her stock, regardless of the state of security at school (apparently, she thought someone within may break in for her drugs and leave WITHOUT PAYING). So as the two left the campus gate, they signed their names onto the attendance book, as was usual, and for a moment the watchman studied Maina’s hand as he fidgeted slightly, but for a moment, in signing his own name. And they were out the gate. The two then walked together, unwilling and willing companions, silently till they reached the junction at Mabondeni road. Mabondeni road was the main road that led straight into town, the city centre and the Central Business District of Onika City. It was, decoratively perhaps, or so lined with some of the oldest buildings in the city’s history. Their white or cream paint, accompanied with their ancient Arabian infrastructural design added upon the glisten of the city’s majesty itself. It was also called so due to the many sharp turns it had along its course: which was root to many car accidents that occurred in the city. Mabonde was the Swahili word for bends. So Siunwa and Maina walked along, silently, till they reached the seven-meter-high bypass, and Siunwa couldn’t take the silence anymore. So, he said,

“Maina, are you yet familiar with the rebound concept?”

‘No, but I’m pretty sure you will soon enlighten me,” he answered indifferently

“It states that massively attractive girls, say Toti for example, don’t really leave a most charismatic successful, somehow, relationship permanently, you know”

“And right about now is when you’re going to tell me why that should bother me so much?”

When Maina said this, he genuinely actually couldn’t care less. To him, whether or not Toti really loved him or was just using him to make Makiri jealous was more than completely irrelevant, it virtually did not concern him. Her reasons for initiating their relationship would remain hers. And his reasons for choosing to remain in it, would remain his. Besides, his heart would always belong to one girl, even if she wasn’t exactly living. Perhaps, he even thought to himself, she was the reason why he remained with Toti, even after weeks of absconding remarks from people he schooled with. Because, and this did sound cliché even to him, Bei would have wanted him to find happiness again even after her death, which he did less than nothing to prevent. But the reason Maina treated his relationship with Toti so diminutively, was because it was just that: diminutive. To him, no other connection could ever rival the one he once had with his dead lover. And so, there was no point fighting or arguing for one. He simply did not care. Every other happy couple he saw, every girl he took interest in, could only ever be seconded at best. The gold had to always go to Bei, passed the veil. And Toti was just a shrill reminder to him of what he couldn’t have, or keep. Siunwa continued speaking…

“You are aware of the type of reputation she has? I heard that she can’t be trusted. So be careful. If I had a cent for every time rumours in campus were proven wrong, I’d be in deep debt by now”

As Siunwa said this, they were walking across Malu Bridge. And for a moment Siunwa gawked at how that very bridge did not exist before a hundred years ago. He reminisced about the time him and Bei sat by a cliff by the edge of Lamani and looked out into the creak as the sun struck the waters at just the right angle at sunset to create a beautiful canvas of orange and yellow. He remembered the untainted bridgeless gap that was her spot, their spot. When they would just sit at that cliff, holding each other for ceaseless hours until the sun was gone below the horizon and they had to return home. He remembered all of it with Siunwa’s voice at the back of his mind, ramming into his eardrums. As they walked, they saw the so brightened street lights alongside the luxurious casinos that marked the beginning of the suburbs. Then they arrived at the Moroni junction that divided the Malindi highway in two: with the highway continuing as its own and Malu road that penetrated deep into exclusive and prestiged Malu. Here, Siunwa and Maina meant to part ways, for Siunwa lived farther down Malindi Highway in an estate just by the road itself while Maina lived within the confines of prestigious Malu, apparently. And so, they parted. However, little did Maina know that that moment of departure would be among the very lasts of which he would ever see his friend, at least the same again? And moreover, little did he know that that very moment would set in sequence a series of events that would soon rip Onika at its very foundations.

Maina was feeling rather lazy to board a PSV all the way to Uhura Avenue so he boarded bodaboda and told the man to head square for Uhura Avenue. So, they darted along the Lamani section of Malu road and branched into the Old Malu one-way traffic road, as fast as the man could take them till they reached Uhura Avenue bus stop that was just adjacent to the Indian embassy. Maina paid the man one hundred and eighty bob change from the couple of coins he had stashed in his satchel, and began his walk home. Granted his home wasn’t that far from the bus stage, he wasn’t too lazy to walk there, there wasn’t need of wasting money on another innominate means of transport. So, he walked down that well-paved, brightly painted, well-lit street till he arrived at a first turn of the road which branched off into another yet murram road that led to practically nowhere. He followed the murram road to the end of it which was a dead end of shrub and bush, and to his right was a small gate. And behind that gate, there was an enormous compound with an even larger-seeming house. Residents of the area liked to call it Nyumba Kiza inferring to Dark house or Grim Mansion. They referred to it as so because in over fifty years no one had really seen anyone or anything walk in and out of the house, yet Maina lived there. No vehicle came into the compound and none left. The undergrowth in the lawn had been left so unattended to it had become overgrowth, over the gate and the walls that demarcated the land. The house itself was of a story, and its exterior walls seemed ancient, for mould and algae coloured it with various shades and tints of green. It seemed deserted. And like all seemingly deserted places, whether in ancient or modern society, it gained its own reputation from the whispers of neighbours and passer-by of having ghosts or demons. Little did anyone know that the only ghost that lived there, was Maina.

So, he opened the gate, quietly as he usually did, and stepped inside the darkened compound that was rarely lit. The compound was of about two acres large, and it was lined, at its boundaries with gardens that looked like they hadn’t been tilled in decades. It was difficult to tell the number of rooms within Grim House, and even if he knew the number Maina only ever slept in one room and one room alone. He always cooked in, never ate out and always slept on one specific side of the bed, on the same side of his body every night. He loved being predictable, but he saw it as consistency. Maina walked up those large veranda steps and pushed open the enormous hardwood front door. The inside of the house was simply marvellous. The front door led into a gigantic hall with two ascending staircases, antique in their appearance and make, alongside two opposite walls on either lateral side. The wall opposite the front door had a gap that led into what appeared to be a kitchen, just as large and antique in look. The house appeared completely unfurnished. Maina, then made his way up the right staircase and walked into a corridor on the upper story. Before him, were four doors on each side. He walked down the corridor then stopped at the third door to his left.

And before he turned the doorknob to open it, he hesitated a bit, as if there was a lurking presence inside the room he was about to enter. He always had that sort of ability. He could never explain it, even to himself. He just felt that someone was in the room he occasionally slept in, occasionally overdosed in, occasionally fathomed suicide in. He grabbed hold of that ancient Persian doorknob, turned and walked in. And there before him, in glorified, magnified high definition, was a caramel-skinned, perfectly toned, lithe nearly nude figure of a woman standing before him. It was like she expected him to find her as such. Toti was confident, Maina had to give her that credit. And when Maina walked in on her nearly nude, expecting him in his own room, he hesitated when he saw her, for a split second at least. She was nearly nude because all she wore was a trench coat and nothing else underneath. It probably wasn’t hard to do in Onika weather, it was always hot there anyways. It was as if she got up, from wherever she lived, apparently Maina didn’t care enough to know, boarded a PSV in her current appalling attire, broke into his home (which he wondered at that instant how she found out where he resided) and bided her time in his room, to stand there upon his arrival, nude with a facial expression that said ‘Nimekuletea hii mali’ which was Swahili for ‘I’ve brought you this property’. But her body truly was magnificent. The common expression of the use of ‘contours’ to describe someone’s face did not do absolute justice for Toti’s body. For her body in itself was contouring. Her skin climbed and descended gracefully, hairless, blemish-less. Her eyes were chocolate brown and her full flowing hair was shoulder length and styled into dreadlocks. Her tummy was flat distributing just enough weight of beauty into her hips which further projected her feminine feline figure. Her rump, that was upon the innards of the trench coat was round and full as though it had a consciousness of its own. It was all in the confidence, just the confidence was enough. But apparently, Maina wasn’t really moved. It did bother him how she found out where he lived. However, he was too exhausted to bother bothering her. And the luscious intruder spoke.

“Hello Maina, you haven’t been answering my calls. So, I decided to show up”

“How did you find out where I lived?”

This question had precisely two purposes: the first was for legitimate general inquiry, and the second was confrontational; like Toti had no right to infringe upon his safe haven. And infringe she did, for in over fifty years had no one other than Maina himself, set foot upon the Grim House grounds. And Maina may have been all about rediscovering his humanity, but not when it was all at the cost of his sweet, insatiable solitude, personal space. And if it were anyone else, he’d have purged them straight into insanity. For that was what it was called when a jini possessed or haunted you. They could make one see whatever they pleased, for whatever reasons they had. And in this scenario and instance, Maina was ready-way plunging his psyche, readying himself to create illusions and hallucinations in Toti’s mind. He was going to drive her practically ballistic. But because turning her mad would literally raise suspicion, mostly centred upon him, in school, he dismissed the rather tempting idea. And as if his entire chain of thought was literal hogwash, as if every feeling in his mind, in his bones was wrong about Toti, he moved ever so closer to her. He so blatantly dismissed her prior statement, grabbed her by the waist, pulled her nakedness close and kissed her. And as he kissed her, Toti felt a sharp sensation race up her torso, whether or not she knew what that feeling was she didn’t really care, she just felt it. And she kissed him, so insatiably, so immensely, one would have thought if the two hadn’t had met breaths, they’d have died from their exposure to lust, perhaps love? Toti moaned at a point when her bare breast met Maina’s clothed chest. And that night they made love so vigorously, even more vigorously than they had done the previous nights. And Maina said not a word, as was usual to him, for in reality it was Toti who played her cards. It was Toti who initiated this physical altercation, and who was Maina to deny himself such. She wanted to give him what she would. And be given he would be. However, Toti didn’t ever know or realize that amidst all that passionate love-making, Maina only ever imagined that she was his once beautiful all-so-fair Bei. That any time they saw each other, Toti saw another man she could want and have, while Maina saw what he once had and lost. It was becoming of a largely dynamic cross-purpose.

Yet that night they made love, there was something off about it. He wasn’t his usual imaginative self. For Maina did not just focus on Toti’s face and imagined it was Bei’s, no. This time he didn’t just modify her voice in his head, he didn’t just self-plunge himself into one of his many hallucinations (and no it wasn’t the drugs). This time he fixated on how he truly felt about his long-lost lover some four decades ago. This time he thought about how much he wanted her beside him, not just in his own delusions but in reality. This time, he pondered over how helpless she was at her death, without him, without her. And this gave him an unbridled sense of power. It gave him a new sense of will. A determination, to not only fuck away his problems and misery, but to kill. And never in his entire life had he ever felt a deeper urge to purge than when he was in bed with Toti. And Toti, with her arched back, frequent moans and constant pleas for obscenities was merely just as clueless as they came. For in her mind, she thought he was pleasuring her as she should. She thought he was thanking her for her gift of a stunning body. When truly, he just thanked her for her availability for his use. But it wasn’t as if he intruded on her free will. Apparently, Maina was taught many years ago by Bei that a human’s free will was all they had left when all else was gone. The illusion of choice. And this was exactly what Maina inferred when it came to Toti. She came to him. She offered her body, her ‘love’. Technically, he even argued to himself and to perhaps the dead spirit of Bei, he wasn’t really manipulating her ‘the jini way’. She gave to him at her own volition. The fact that he simply plunged himself into reconstructing a visual Bei, was just an added bonus, an unethical one it may have seemed though.

And ethics? Why would a jini of two hundred years obey ethics? Apparently, because the woman he claimed to love for life taught him so. It was true, Maina was your typical average jini of the Coast before he met Bei. He had had his fair share of driving people insane, killing them and or cheating them out of whatsoever he desired. He was a typical supernatural after all, imbued with a godly immortality. And he couldn’t die. So, he figured, why not have some fun along the way. But when he met Bei, she taught him compassion, deeper meaning of what life was for. Granted, he could still live practically forever, that gave him no right over the free will and psyches of those who couldn’t. And when Bei instilled such wisdom on him, he was caught rather distraught, because if she were as any supernatural as him, because she too was immortal, she’d do as she pleased. But she didn’t. Bei used to pay for whatever she bought. If anyone treated her in discord, she sought peaceful arbitration with them. She always complemented people who complemented her, and never really hexed those who hated her. To Maina, Bei was simply just good. But apparently, she wasn’t really as honest with him about the longevity of her immortality. And apparently, for those technically not as immortal as majini, death came for them all, whether good or evil.

The next morning was as blissful as every other morning in Onika, bright and reflective. And as the cocks crowed from beyond the next-door compound wall, little rays of sunlight tried to beat their way through the large, ridiculously long, drawn curtains that covered Maina’s bedroom window, also ridiculously large. The room was ever so dark, and clearly Maina preferred it that way. It was as if he existed in such a stiffened dark aura, that not even the littlest, smallest ray of light he could allow taint his hovel of a space. He loved the dark, preferred it, and quite frankly Toti was in no position to complain. So, they just lay there that morning, two naked bodies between the sheets. Somewhat contemplating the amazing, transcending sex they had last night, somewhat contemplating the amazing, transcending sex they’d have next time. And Maina just lay there, on his back, facing the ceiling, longing for an elsewise reality, another timeline where he could have what he wanted. And Toti lay beside him, also bare, studying his thought processes via his facial demeanour. She was on her side, her arm against the bed pillow, looking at his eyes, waiting for him to utter something of basic significance, anything. And when she gave up on his silence she spurted out,

“Last night was… Different. You were different. I take it’s not the Viagra I hear you buy daily from the school pharmacy?”

“I don’t take Viagra”

“But you do buy pills, I hear. For what?”

“For pain”

And as Maina said this, he clearly appeared as if he was in no mood for an interrogation, let alone by a girl whose true intentions with him were more than questionable. He was however, in the mood to leave that bed and practically ghost (no pun intended) Toti for another couple of days. He knew he was using her. She did not know it, but he knew. And faithful Maina wanted more than anything to remain loyal to dead Bei. He wanted to keep to her words. That a human being may not be used, period. So, and this was completely unlike him, he asked Toti, confrontationally,

“So, when are you planning to get back together with Makiri?”

As Maina asked this, Toti felt a deep pit in her chest, as if she was now a cornered animal. She didn’t know exactly how to respond. She and Makiri had been together for years, so when people heard of their breakup it was more of disbelief than suspicion as to why. Toti had genuinely loved Makiri with every ounce of what she had. She loved his average boyish voice, that wasn’t really that deep. She loved the Axe body spray that donned each and every item of clothing he had. She loved his near chestnut complexion and his almost Kikuyu accent that was mixed with a general Nairobi intonation. She just loved him. And clearly, he loved her: with his ridiculous displays of affection, his sweet little nicknames for her and his constant concern for her, even after they’d broken up. So, it came as a tragedy to all, especially the rumour mongers of the school, to hear of the cataclysmic end to such an esteemed approved relationship. It was as if theirs was the face of the campus, let alone Maina’s year. And Maina, as would be predictable, wasn’t really close friends with Makiri, in fact they barely spoke. They did see each other at class, passed each other in the halls. But that was just about it. Although, Maina did, and he felt a tad guilty for it, invade his psyche from time to time creating an illusion for him that Maina was such a ladies’-man. It was just some harmless boy foolery. Plus, Maina may have been an immortal supernatural, but he was still a man. He needed to live. Even if it meant tormenting another man for his own pleasure. After zoning out for mere seconds, Toti replied,

“And who told you I had any intention of getting back together with Makiri? He drinks and parties, and drinks and parties. He has no time to appreciate me. Luckily for me, you do”

Toti studied Maina’s eyes, and for a second when the light hit his eyes at just a specific angle, she could swear she saw them reflect milk white. And just then, she shot up in bed and, in haste, put on her trench coat which was the only item of clothing she had intruded in.

“I completely forgot; I have Behavioural Science at eight o’clock. I’m going to be late!”

And just like that, she was out the door. Maina sighed in relief knowing absolutely well that that would be a couple more days dodging till she showed up again. But crap! Now she knew where he lived. Even if he didn’t answer her phone calls, she could still show up uninvited as she pleased. And by the sound of her reaction, he was fairly certain she would appear again for more. But at that moment, Maina couldn’t have cared any less. He was tired. More tired than he had ever been his entire life. It was as if all his bodily energy, both normal and paranormal, was sucked away, practically drained like a siphon from himself, from his organs, from his cells, if you could still call them that. He felt weary, completely exhausted, and never before had he felt as such, not even after his periodic resurrection with each attempt he had on his life. For a moment, he pondered as he felt. Perhaps, the secret to his death was not in menial effort of hate for self, no. Perhaps the secret to an end for his sad, immortal life lied in his founding of affection in another. And Toti fit the piece. She had to. He only ever felt like this with her. So, amassing all the energy he had left in his body, Maina dragged his feet off the 4 by 6 feet bed to sit.

But as Maina sat at the edge of his bed, he felt something whisper to him. He was feeling of a strange energy that radiated from just below the gigantic window seal. It didn’t merely call to him. It just murmured: as if the energy that radiated henceforth was a deep dark secret untold to many. He felt its void, its loneliness, its desperation. But most substantially, he felt its inevitability. And he immediately realized why such the feeling was so familiar. It smelt of death. Reeked of it in fact. And in that entire massive room, Maina could only fixate on that, for he was well aware of the reek of death that resided within him, he had been, after all, undead for more than 200 years. So, it wasn’t him, and it wasn’t the room, for he had always kept it in barely habitable state without a single dust bunny or lint out of place. He stood up to investigate, with apparently his new found bodily energy. He walked a couple of paces to his window seal, and crouched down to get a closer look. And the radiation of death, the eminence of it, was being emitted by the tiniest strand of hair that lay still on the floor carpet. Maina picked it up and immediately concluded that it wasn’t human hair. It couldn’t have been. Something else had been to Grim House? Could it have fallen off of Toti’s trench coat? And why in bloody hell did it emit the strongest stench of death?

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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