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Siunwa must have been missing exactly 13 days, and not a single soul had seen or heard from him ever since their fateful walk down the bridge with Maina. So, as is and was in an African set-up, for rarely did children or people go disappearing without a trace, worry was amid. In the air his guardians breathed, in the very streets that lined their estate road, in the water his folks drank, and in the pictures his mother kept. Yes, Siunwa’s mother. She was a spritely young woman just in her mid-forties. Her complexion was brown, and her beauty unbound. People often wondered where Siunwa derived his looks, but as soon as they took one spot at his mother, their query and wonder were laid to rest. The resemblance was uncanny. However, not only did they look alike, they acted alike. They did most activities together. They went shopping, watched movies and when he was of age, even drank together. Theirs was a bond unmatched by any other. And so, it caught his mother in deep dismay, glaring at their family photographs, in their bungalow living room, bearing for the worst. And as Mrs. Kana turned to her right to examine the display of family portraits she practically nailed to a wall of that 10 by 20 meter living room, one specific photograph caught her eye. It was the one they had taken when Maina had turned ten years old, just the three of them: him, his mother and his late father. Siunwa was an only child, and always would be. Apparently, and this was very unusual in these parts, his parents decided to settle on just one. Also, a fairly believable reason, was that the doctor had warned his mother against having many children. “Your uterus may not be able to withstand the stress of a nine-month pregnancy,” he said. And after one long complicated procedural caesarean birth process, she blankly just decided on never going through that again, she didn’t really want to test fate.

And so, Siunwa became his mother’s apple. She would go nowhere without him. He did nothing without her consent, and so he loved her. And she loved him. They did everything together, and as social convention builds and develops, frequency-built habit. And the two became practically identical, in demeanour, in preference and in irritation. Their neighbours may have gossiped and presumed that Mr. Kana had been replaced by his own son, in terms of gaining his wife’s attention. But when she realized she was spending too much time with Siunwa, she occasionally roped in her husband so they spent ‘too much time together’. And this built a rather beautiful lovely family, until Mr. Kana succumbed to sudden cancer when Siunwa was fifteen. But this didn’t prove at all detrimental to their familial status, even as Siunwa’s health itself as well fluctuated between wellness and illness. And yes too, Siunwa had one crucial fatal flaw. His immunity, the medics said. Siunwa had been in and out of hospital more times than even the medical practitioners that tended to him as a child. Some presumed it may have related to the state of his birth, others said he inherited such misfortune from an earlier lineage. But truth was, no one really knew precisely why. And as every other cloud, there was a silver lining to his debacle. Each time he was admitted was an opportunity for Mrs. Kana to panic, be frantic, pray and console her son’s pain. Each time he fell ill, was a chance at bonding with his mother. And so, they did. And it came to be that through worry and panic, a relationship with love and consideration was developed. Some often said because of this Siunwa was a bit spoilt. He didn’t drive himself anywhere, he didn’t cook for himself, hell, he didn’t even wash his own clothes. But at least he had a job for earning his own sort of cash (which his mother helped pulling some strings for him to get). So, it was completely understandable why she’d be that distraught about losing her only-born and heir.

The people at the campus he worked at generously went out of their way in helping her distributing missing person’s flyers around town. Preceding that, she did, obviously, file a police report for him, well, being missing. She also broke her back with her acclaimed sleepless nights and insomnia, arriving at campus each day bright and early to inquire about his whereabouts from anyone she found at 5am in the morning. And she’d yet hang around the campus high into noon till the heat got to her and she retired from the day’s effort, only to start again and repeat the next day. This woman clearly knew resilience, persistence. But she couldn’t afford to lose her only son. For a mother’s connection to her child was benevolent, even cosmic perhaps; it transcended any other relationship. That a parent could spend insomniac nights worrying over a child who probably didn’t give a single thought for gratitude to them, was and is incomprehensible with a logical mind. However, such is commonplace, and commonplace or happenstance beat logic any day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The second succeeding chapter of Maina’s climaxing melodrama was ensuing ever so vigorously. On one, he investigated, discreetly however, the comings and goings of his dear ‘beloved’ Toti. He investigated her for solely just the silly reason he had: that single strand of hair she had left on his bedroom carpet that radiated in death. But he didn’t mean to literally morph into Sherlock and decipher every last piece and puzzle that was indeed Toti’s personality. He didn’t mean it in contempt, or sort-conflict, no. he just felt it within himself, that she was not really being absolutely truthful with him. And in hindsight, he knew she wasn’t. He already knew that. It was no hidden disclosure. It was a fact. He didn’t really know why she was with him. Realistically, or so Maina thought, of all the boys she’d have picked at school, all the boys directly below Makiri’s hierarchy, in what way was it apparently pleasant enough for her to pick him? He was a basket case who wanted nothing to do with anyone else; passed his exams, though barely; never greeted anyone at campus, not even the watchman and worst, or best, of all, he was a junkie. She had to be up to something. She had to have wanted something from him, he just felt it. On the other, Siunwa was apparently wrestling with the sudden dismalling news of his ‘friend’s’ disappearance. And that was just what it was, dismal. Maina felt nothing more than an opportunistic leech when it came to Siunwa. He didn’t really care much for him. And as much as gossip spread that Siunwa had befriended the ‘class weirdo’, Maina wanted to feel just as much in his own right and power that he enforced such a relationship. Besides, he hadn’t had a true friend in over a century. But it was rather odd, that Siunwa had been missing so long. So Maina took it upon himself to investigate his whereabouts, to at least put his mother to bed. After all, it wasn’t at all as if Maina had a choice anyway, he simply couldn’t lose his ‘painkiller dispenser’.

Maina did regard the gossip that went on about him at campus as irrelevant, pointless and simply tedious. However, and even he agreed to this, some of what the walls whispered was true. An example was in the case of the companionship of oddities: Maina and Siunwa. Now, it was well agreed that Maina was the dictionary and thesaurus synonym for weird, but when it came to personal opinions about Siunwa, people were somehow, conflicted. The walls said he was an outstanding individual, cared about people (not too much) to be just as kind as needed be. That he may had been eccentric but his intentions were always good, never too maniacal, he was just the right amount of it, normal. However, the halls said that he too lived in his own world, that he was basically the embodiment of a husk within another husk of a bubble, searching for his own pleasurement and entertainment in the happenings of other people. Their love, their joy, their conflict, their discord. Others said he did this out of boredom from his own life. But Siunwa had plenty to make up for the mis-sayings of the halls, in his personality. He simply was lovable. One simply had to hang around him, and pick up on his aura. He was somewhat infectious. If he laughed everyone laughed. Some called it charisma, others called it peculiarity: His ability to stand out. He didn’t care. And this is why he got along so well with Maina. This is why the halls weren’t so quick to inflame their so-called friendship.

And so Maina’s effort in investigative work had doubled in twain. He had to find out about Toti, and he had to find Siunwa; for his own sake. So, it found him, that February afternoon, hunting down Siunwa’s whereabouts at the largest and most exclusive club in the entire city: Club Casablanca. And no sooner had he walked in, than he began to notice strange and deterred looks being given him by practically every other individual in sight at the club, the bouncer, the bartender, even exotic dancers. They all looked at him as if his face had grown a rather appalling nether area end. Was he such an unusual fixture in an establishment that clearly didn’t have the right to judge its clientele? Or in this case ‘some random guy who’s just walked in to ask some questions’. Maina briskly paced himself, put his chin up and ignored the dismal stares. He had learnt in his rather elongated mortality that in no matter the case, always appear confident. It didn’t matter if you were being tried at court for stealing a pig or you had just bombed a massive landmark in a first world country, ALWAYS APPEAR CONFIDENT. And he did. He walked straight up to the bartender, or in this case, the person who so happened to be tending the bar. And when he reached into his pocket to remove the photograph he had of ‘his friend’, the upcountry-accented man spoke.

“Look, he isn’t here”

“I highly doubt you’re putting in the effort!”

“Listen, his coot of a mom has been showing up daily at 5am in the morning at the gate of campus begging to know where her boy went. The admin already sent us out into search parties along with the coppers to try and put her to rest. We put up flyers in Old Town, CBD, Sabasaba and Buxton. He is part of the school’s fraternity, you know. I am trying my best to find him”

“Your best isn’t good enough, Makiri!”

This conversation seemed confrontational, it did. And as it ensued, the entire population of the club tensed up as well. Because admittedly, Maina and Makiri were not sworn enemies. However, they were just a hop, skip and a jump away from bridging that line. They had a saying in Onika, that there exists a thin line between love and hate (though in this case, it could hardly be considered love anyway), that the slightest bit of hesitation could cause one to slip from one end of the pool into yet another opposing one. And as much as things were beyond icy between Maina and Makiri, they never really escalated from there. For they were boys. And boys didn’t need the drama that came along with emotions. They could talk it out. Hell, they didn’t even need to converse to sort it out. Just a turn out at your local cyber to best each other at a game of FIFA played on a PlayStation 4 game console was enough. And if boys basically couldn’t get that far into their conflict resolution, they simply just left it as it is. As if they just agreed to disagree. Or more accurately, agreed to utterly dislike each other without else-people’s knowledge. For if others knew that boys didn’t like or were not exactly fond of each other, and the said feelings were reciprocated by either side, in Onika, you were basically labelled and bathed in statements such as “Wacha umama” which basically inferred for one to stop being motherly. But it wasn’t meant as it sounded, no, not really. Mothers in Onika were highly valued members of community. Mostly so, because Onika was pride home to Swahili women that could cuss at mere hesitation and didn’t care the least bit if such was censored to children’s ears. What that statement meant was simply for one to stop acting femininely. To stop exuberating the degree of weakness common to emotionality of the feminine species. So Maina and Makiri stared each other down for seconds. Not a word said in a moment. And in that moment Maina admired the beautiful decorations and renovations The Casablanca had done to herself in recent decades. Her floors were tiled black. Her walls decorated in murals, adverts and displays of cultural historical significance to Onika. The building truly was in her best years yet. And Maina did recap the many occasions Onika risked destruction at many a hand over the past couple of centuries. He could recall how Casablanca was decimated during the great Omani war. When she lost her identity when the Portuguese fought with their cannons and guns and Bibles, and nearly the entire city was eradicated time and again. Maina wasn’t really ready to load his cannon right there. So, he turned straight round, ad headed out, away from Makiri and his deep-seated obnoxiousness. And as he walked out, he received even meaner stares from the occupants there. But as he did, he didn’t really care, according to him he had taken the high road. At least, by Bei’s beloved memory, Maina for once sort morality, and nevertheless, the moral high-ground, and this practically was all Bei ever preached to him when she was his. Besides, if he were to measly enter into a physical altercation with anyone in that club, lives would have been senselessly lost, not to mention he’d have probably killed his own classmate, Makiri.

In 200 hundred years, since his literal immortalization into a ghast, Maina practically saw himself as all powerful. Malevolent, yes. But still very powerful it seemed. He possessed the rare ability of majini to invade and consume individual’s psyches. Now the semantics about a jini’s true mysterious capabilities jumped rumours as much as it jumped mouths, but regardless, the stories all came up one and the same: that majini morphed your mind. Turned it into whatever mush and hell they pleased. And what this basically meant was that Maina could change reality, alter it, even become it, for it was said that reality was not a concrete state but a perception. And Maina thrilled in manipulating that perception. However, this ability did give him some somewhat sense of omnipotence. And this accompanied with his apparent agonizing pain of his body constantly shifting between being dead and living, might have created a rather dull being in his persona. It was to be stressed, that Maina wasn’t particularly a bad person. He wasn’t the villain, one would read about in stories like ‘Harry Potter’ with Voldemort, no, in fact he didn’t really believe in villainy. However, he did believe in people, that people often pursued as they pleased; that no one was particularly good, or bad; that everyone was just people getting what they wanted; and if your intention crossed Maina’s in the past two centuries; well let’s just say it accounted to the bloody past that Bei found him in. Maina’s ability to morph reality as you saw it was no easy feat. It was like a hypnotist’s trick. Only in this case, Maina would invade your mind with his consciousness and reside within its confines till your mind-space dismantled and your brain melted, and one was practically, well, dead. And he could have easily done this to Makiri without anyone in the room taking notice, but moral high ground it was!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Toti stood by across Moi Avenue, as she watched Maina exit from Club Casablanca, and being completely frank with herself, her heart sank when she watched him walk into the establishment earlier. Toti had been following Maina around for days now. At first sight, one might have considered it obsession, but it wasn’t like such at all. She’d been instructed to. And when Maina walked into the club that day, she sat at the restaurant across the street half-expecting a boyfriend and ex-boyfriend brawl to ensue. She told herself, she needed it to. Maina was too cold, compared to Makiri. But she couldn’t help getting compulsively drawn to him, like a moth to a flame. Of course, their odd little relationship was not an instruction per say. she just merely wanted him, especially after the Makiri blow-out. And now here she was, in a restaurant across the street, praying that he saw him as he left her ex-boyfriend practically on the ground in blood and bruises (hardly). That little voice buried deep within her head did suggest that she run outside and meet him on the street, that it would be a wonderful surprise for him as well. But considering his frequent demeanour around her and practically anybody else, she reclined and decided otherwise. But Toti was simply infatuated by him. His cocoa nut-toned skin; his tired raspy, yet affirmative voice; his short stubble African hair; and his dark eyes! Oh! The eyes were a knockout for her. She couldn’t resist. And anyone else at campus agreed that while Maina had good attractive male qualities, his rather awkward behaviour cancelled out his beauty; but for Toti, they made him even more exempt. A lonely wolf. A seclusion. A recluse. She loved it. She loved him. And it wasn’t really her fault.

Toti’s friends said she had a very large problem. Once, Toti saw what or whom she desired, she fixated on that person or object day and night. She’d even go into as far enough lengths as to despise anyone who threatened her claim to it or them? She’d consider them her adversaries, her competition. And this is also why when she went for Maina, as much as people at campus wondered as to why she did it, they didn’t budge in complaining. Apparently, it was less hate for her ’competition’. And truth be told, no one really wanted Maina, not really. He spent very little time around people, let alone girls. So, to Toti, he was the golden apple, that she could have all to herself whenever she wanted. And he didn’t bother in answering her calls or at least texting back. And she knew he avoided her; she wasn’t stupid. And superficially, Maina may have appeared an assignment to the others, but to her, he really meant something, anything. However, the one thing about ‘kucheza chini’, was that one was not supposed to involve their emotions. Elsewise, your goal would be compromised. But Toti couldn’t help it. She wanted to know him. To know why that night with him in bed seemed so magical, and yet his person was not so in reality. And she didn’t really care if she compromised the mission, so long as she bagged someone better than Makiri; and Maina, had a story. And to Toti, it had to be an interesting one. And a boyfriend with an interesting enough story made the best puppet, in her opinion.

So Toti got up from the last Far East table at the MnK Restaurant. She had reached a decision. She’d confront Maina, with the usual excuse: that he hadn’t been picking her calls. And she’d wait to see his reaction. Also, besides her selfish intentions, she technically was told to not let him leave her sight. So, she pursued. And as he left The Casablanca and darted up the street heading towards Uptown, she exited the restaurant and crossed Moi Avenue to follow him. As he stepped, she stepped, following anxiously. And they darted through the massive crowd of Onika city people, one in hot pursuit of the other. Till Maina turned right into an alleyway that rarely was used by anyone.

And as Toti turned right to chase him, discreetly of course, she was met by a rather stern-looking though seemingly indifferent Maina, standing right in the middle of the alleyway ready to intercept her, as if he knew he was being followed. He spoke,

“Toti, why are you following me?”

“You haven’t been answering my calls. I was in town and I saw you. I wanted to speak to you,” she answered predictably.

“Now is not a good time. Come by my house later. We can talk there,”

Maina said officially, as if he were scheduling a meeting. A meeting with rather ulterior intentions obviously. And as he said this, Toti obeyed like a humble church mouse. She bid him farewell, and Maina just turned and disappeared into the alleyway. And Toti was just left there, alone with her thoughts. Half-wanting Maina to have kissed her goodbye, half-wanting him to keep walking and keep going. She was mad at him. Had she not given him the attention, obsession and love that was more than due? Did she not deserve a little bit more than just the briskest display of indifference ever? Apparently, none of them had ever uttered those fateful three words to each other (not that Maina would ever get way ahead of himself in doing that). But she wasn’t asking for an ’I love you’. She was just asking him to pick up her bloody phone calls. There would come a time when he’d wish he did.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Onika shined with a beautiful ominous glow that very evening. And as the orange light struck the near-beach plot of Grim House, Maina stood by his kitchen counter preparing himself for the guest he was about to have that evening. As was want to him, it was just a casual evening where he’d explain all that needed to be explained to Toti once and for all. She deserved to know the truth. Well, not that he was a jini, no. But that he was basically using her. That night he planned to tell her that he had not so much as affection for her as he did for himself. That night, he was going to end whatever flimsy little coupling they were having those past couple of weeks. And, to be honest, he meant no offence at all in considering it flimsy, it just was what it was. It seemed to him spontaneous and outright questionable. And the one thing he couldn’t really get his head around was why. Why did she bed him? Why did she kiss him as if she meant it? It just didn’t really add up for him. That night, he had already come to the decision, he was to cut the strings. And as much as the sex was transcendent, like literally traversing astral planes, he had to do it. He had to abandon the notion he had earlier about finding his long-deserved death in the love of Toti. He was about to let go of his one chance to join his dearly beloved Bei. A trade in mortality for morality. It sounded just as weak to him as he pondered it, with his arms against his kitchen counter. The food he had cooked was ready, and he had ready served it in a hot-pot in the living room area. And as much as Maina was pretty ancient, he was a fairly fantastic cook. The pilau that steamed in the hotpot on the coffee table was just a dish among many that he often prepared to perfection. And when he was midway through the unimaginable havoc that went on within the deepest crevices of his mind, he heard the metal gate to the compound open and return and in practical minutes, there was a knock on the front door, gentle and slight as if trying not to injure the firmware. She had come, as predicted. Maina dashed to answer the door. And as he pulled back that heaping pile of mahogany Toti measly watched, or more accurately admired, him for in her head his action was summated in dramatic slow motion, as though he was finally opening his heart to her.

For that occasion, Toti had sported on her casual ripped jeans with a tee shirt. Of course, she didn’t really expect anything extravagant that evening, knowing Maina. And at the same time, she did expect passionate eternal, unlike-else sex at its peak, at its climax. So, she basically figured, ripped jeans and a tee did her message justice. That she was interested but not so much. However, Toti couldn’t stress enough to herself that she was helplessly infatuated by Maina. She couldn’t ignore that every, seemingly dull, feature he bore was ultimately magnified as per her psyche. To everyone else, Maina was a basket-case, a recluse. But to Toti, he was the solitary else-coloured spec in the vast array of equally dulling sand. In short, she knew he was uninteresting person-wise, and literally seemed boring. But his sort of boring, to her, was interesting, in as much as it did sound rather oxymoronic. In Toti’s visible slight hesitation, Maina said,

“Hi, Toti”

Maina was dressed, for the evening in his usual khaki pants, accented by his dark checkered, button-up shirt. He was looking rather barely official. It was barely so, because he didn’t seem to put in an effort in his clothing choice. It seemed to merely just come to him apparently. Although, his attire that eve, was apparently different to his usual wear, which was practically sweats and hoodies, while he was at school. The dashing, rather 200-year-old immortal ushered the fine lady into his abode. And she sat. And he went into his kitchen to check on the pot of tea he had left brewing on the stove. And as he did so, Toti just sat there limp for but a moment, pondering her choice, wondering whether she chose wrong, with but a wander of thought, and then reassuring herself that Maina was the best she’d ever had in practical eternity. Maina brought himself from behind the massive leather couch that Toti had set herself upon, with two wine glasses and Red Wine bottle in hand. He set them on the table, with a glass before Toti as he spoke,

“I realize I haven’t been giving you as much the attention you deserve since our little fling started. This is an apology nigh for that”

“Wha..” As Toti tried to utter not but a word left her throat. She was shocked. This seemed completely out of character. But in essence, she did deserve this at least. And in a mere sentence he had said, Toti’s prior anger towards her lover faded instantly. She was in ecstatic shock. The kind as like a mother who was to expect a baby but received two at her birth. Completely lost in the immediate ecstasy of the moment. And in that instant, she wanted to kiss him; to embrace him so passionately as if she would die if she didn’t. In that short moment, all she wanted was Maina; all she thought was Maina; and all she felt was Maina. And if it were any other Kenyan girl, after a man had made her angry for some apparent reason, the first thought in her head would be “The audacity”, and then followed the preceding escapist vortex of forgiveness, stupidity and compromise. But with Toti, the first thought was “I want him”. It wasn’t “He can’t know”. And it wasn’t “He should never find out”. She wanted him.

Then suddenly, it hit her. Her mission, her objective was more important than her affections, more important than her inclinations. And as Maina poured the gently flowing maroon into the delicate wine glasses, and stood to go check on the brewing tea, she took out a pill from her jeans-pocket and slipped it into his glass of wine. Then she sat there, for innominate aching seconds as she watched the pill dissolve fast into the red. As Maina returned to where she was, still speechless, she watched as they clinked glass and downed it into their throats. That whole time Toti watched as Maina collapsed minutes after ingesting the red. And as he lay there, out-cold on his living room couch, she pondered over the severity of what she had just done. Over why she had done it in the first place. She pondered over her concept of loyalty. Did it really mean she had to abandon her own choice, her own hopes, for some sense of allegiance? She would give ‘him’ the satisfaction? Of using her? For some secret objective she couldn’t really know about even if she asked? She felt betrayed. Scorned. Conned. She was watching the man she might have loved die. And he was doing so at her hand. And she couldn’t bear it. Its calamitous pace, its consuming viscosity. And no, it wasn’t fast flowing. It flowed ever so slowly. As if someone had pressed the slow-motion button on the remote control that Toti could never be really in control of. She watched Maina die for ages upon ages. Passing out on the couch then sleeping into a slow death. And yes, it was rather a better way to die than at brute strength, probable blunt force from her. It was also easier. Toti couldn’t see herself a murderer with her own hands. The pill perhaps alleviated most of her guilt, but not enough. But at least she didn’t have blood on her hands. She just had it in her head.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Maina watched indifferently as Toti sat unconscious on the wooden chair he had tied her upon. She had tried to drug him with some pill! But why? He asked himself repeatedly. And that one part couldn’t really add up. Toti seemed normal. Almost-basically average girl in mind. More than average in body. Less than average in lover-choice. But why did she, of all things, just try to drug him? He’d get answers from her first. But before that, he needed to have his fun. He did admit to himself that the seemingly clinking glasses and drinking illusion he depicted in Toti’s head was a nice add. Apparently, at the moment, she didn’t know that as he stood to check on his tea, he astral projected his consciousness into the vastness of the room, so anything that happened beyond his sight, happened within his ‘sight’. And as of that moment, he was in her head, breaking down her walls, using her one inhibition to dismantle her psyche. And she was strong, oddly enough, he had to admit. But he was ancient, and though out of practice, rather much more experienced he claimed. And so, he stood before her, locked with her in one of the upstairs offices, breaking her psyche. Plunging harder than he had ever done before. And in such the psychological battle, even while she was unconscious, she beat him back from the answers. She used his own torment of her to mask whatever plot had brought her to Grim House that evening. It was as if she reflected the illusion of his own death at her hand right back at him. That even if he picked and fondled with her thoughts, that was all he was going to get.

So, he released her. Toti began to slip back into consciousness. But she was rather dizzy. And as the room span about her and frame after frame began to come into focus, she examined the room she was in. It was dark. The floor was tile, so she must have not left the house. But why couldn’t she move her hands and legs? She spoke.

“Wha… What’s going on? Why can’t I move?”

“What are you Toti? I need to know who sent you!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let me go”

“What are you!” Maina said this time more sternly.

“Is this rope? You tied me up?”

“Tell me who sent you!” Maina said, his voice echoing into the corridor behind him.


As she said this Maina realized the severity of her blatant choice. She was forcing him into an impossible choice he wouldn’t have sort out even in worst alternatives. But he had no choice. She had just tried to drug and probably kill him! He said calmly as he turned away from her.

“Toti, I do not want to do this but you’re forcing my hand. If you will not willingly tell me what I want to know, I’ll just have to pry it out of the crevices of your mind, which would be extremely painful”

“Well, that isn’t much of a choice, is it?”

As Toti said this, Maina was indeed somewhat perplexed. He was breaking through to her a least.

“You have one. Give me what I want while your mind is still intact, or refuse and walk away from here with it in pieces”

As Maina said this, Toti pondered over why she sort such interest in him. Now she began to see it. He was beautiful. And in that brief instant she was tied to the wooden chair, she realized she had never wanted someone more before than she wanted Maina as of that moment. Oddly enough, her mind was both mending from the assault Maina had just run through it and at the same time, frothing with desire. But this desire wasn’t merely just sexual as was before. It was transcendent. And best yet, it felt like to Toti, it was self-sustaining. Such that no matter what thought Toti brought forth to block Maina from seeing into hers, it didn’t erode her desire for him. It didn’t kill it. It may have overshadowed it, but it was still there, biding, building.

Maina turned round dramatically, as though he was one of those villains in those TV shows after a good villain speech. He turned, and there she was, untied, and standing behind the chair, leaning against its back, looking him straight in the eye. Maina’s basic instinct kicked in and he raced to subdue his captive. Toti picked up the chair as if she were lifting literal air and broke it against Maina’s back as he collapsed to the floor. She quickly sped out the room. Maina angrily got up and ran after her. HE WAS GOING TO GET ANSWERS! He caught her at the corridor, where she sucker-punched him with an inhumanly force, brutal in its delivery but true to its intent, sending him into the adjacent wall as if he was a feather blown measly by the wind. And as Toti got to the stairway balcony, Maina tackled her with what strength he had left, from behind. And it sent them crushing through the railing as though it were made of paper mâché, into the glistening, antique glass chandelier and crushing to the ground by the leather couch in ultimate agony, whilst glass and crystals pelted the floor about them. They gradually staggered up together. And in that moment, Maina wondered as to what sort of human could stand such a massive fall. They must have fallen just 6 feet to the ground. And Toti stood up as if it was but a scratch. Any normal human being would have broken a couple of ribs in that fall, but not her. Her hair was undone. Her ripped jeans appeared even all the more torn, perhaps due to her momentary impact upon the glass chandelier. And she was sweating. Not just like as if from a short leisurely jog, no. Torrents of sweat dripped from her now pretty frustrated, pretty enraged face onto the wooden canvas she stood upon, littered with shards of glass here and there. It was like she had just done a 20-kilometre marathon, in high heels. Toti was not at all hurt. Plus, she wasn’t really giving up. Her cover was blown, and now, that blunt force instilment of death looked a pleasing idea.

And suddenly, as if counting the mission a lost cause, while Maina still gathered himself amid all the glass and wonder, she turned abruptly and headed for the door. But in that brief instant, Maina stood before her and the handle. He said,

“Toti, I cannot let you leave till I get my answers, what are you!”

Toti ignored his question and his persistence in getting into her head. So, she screamed,


And Maina mutually ignoring her claim, was suddenly beside Toti. Then to her right, her left, and behind her, with all his clones screaming at her,


And in mere seconds as Toti covered her ears to the constant lamentations of Maina’s illusions, the living room was practically filled with dozens if not hundreds of Mainas, each screaming endlessly at her,




And Toti was pushed by them, centred in the chaos of protestments, squeezed into a tiny hovel of squish, a tiny recluse for confidence. She couldn’t say, she couldn’t tell them, or him. So, she backed away, slowly, covering her ears, in as if that would prevent Maina from hacking into her psyche. But she did it anyway. And she was backed up almost completely to the east wall of the right staircase. And she screamed in agony, as Maina penetrated and obliterated all and every mental defence she had in stead. However, it didn’t help her, her screams only dissolved into the vast and incredibly loud chants and proclamations.




In that moment as she let the noise drown her ears, she centred her focus on one of the illusions. And as fast and quick as lightning, she lunged at him, by the throat, and Maina hit the west wall with such force he nearly thought the west side of the house would collapse in its entirety. Maina’s head made impact with the wall with such force it generated cracks emanating from the centre. Cracks of chaos, of unbridled anger. And for a moment Maina heard a ringing, pitchy yet deep, in his ears. And in Toti’s mind, each and every one of Maina’s projections of himself faded into thin air, but the one she held against the wall remained within her claws. CLAWS?!?!?! Toti was frothing. Her nails, which appeared elongated now, were digging square into Maina’s neck. She was going to kill him. And as Maina looked even closely at her, at her now enraged demeanour, he noticed something. Her eyes were not the colour they usually were. They were amber! AMBER!?!?

In his shear fascination and wonder, Maina succumbed to his chain of thought, for never had he ever encountered someone like her. Practically, he had run-ins with witches in Onika in the past decades, but he never met anything like that. What was she?

And so, he steadied the ringing in his ears, and built up the audacity to speak,

“You can’t kill me. If you could or wanted to, you’d have already done it,” Maina said this gasping for breath as Toti practically inserted her claws into his gullet. But he was right about many a thing in that statement, so Toti concurred in her mind, she couldn’t do it. It might have been easier with the pill. But even in that illusion of Maina’s doing, she couldn’t agonize over her own self-inducing hell. She couldn’t watch the man she had grown to care about just slip into death anyhow, anyway, at her hand more so. She couldn’t do it, no matter how far she took her claws into his neck. She kept telling herself she couldn’t do it. And so, her grip loosened, and she dropped Maina to the floor, and turned to face the door. And so, she stood. As though her life was drained in her failure, as though she couldn’t have the strength to walk out. But Maina, in his obliviousness, continued,

“Look, you can try to go, but I’ll just keep subverting your mind till there is nothing of practical significance left for you or for those that sent you”

With Toti’s back to him, she skulked. She couldn’t face him after her deception. She couldn’t keep up a conversation, not then, not at that moment. She wiped the sweat off her face, examined the wound she had gotten from her fall, on her right forearm. And then she went absolutely cold, for an instant; and here in this void she didn’t care about conversation or honour or trustworthiness. She turned, amber in her eyes, claws beginning to retract, clothes in shreds, staring her captor in the eye, and said,

“I’m a semé.”

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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