SHORT STORY BY ONUIGBO GOODNESS A.
Eighteen-year-old Eva thought she saw something flash before her eyes, like a lightning bolt and dropped close to the alley she was walking into. It was not raining. She clutched her purse tightly to herself, trying to be on guard in case what she thought she might have seen appears to be a thief but then again something caught her eyes; She saw a haggard, frail looking old woman, rising from the spot where she thought something had dropped some seconds ago. Without being told, she rushed to the old woman and helped her to stand to her feet and at the same time thinking how stupid she was for doing what she just did.
The old woman having stood up began to look at Eva from head to toe as if she was checking for something and immediately burst into laughter. She laughed so hard that her body shook with every sound and Eva thought that she was going to break.
“Do I look horrible?” she asked.
Eva thought she was joking with that question but, not until she asked again and this time with more fierceness in her voice.
Eva felt herself trembling as she fumbled with her words – “yes, no I mean no…. you are just tired I- I guess” she answered.
Before Eva could say another word, the old woman stretched out her hand and threw a ball of lightning at her. It hit her right on her head and the world began to spin around her and before she knew it, there wasn’t much distance between her and the ground she was standing on.
A few hours later, she woke up to the sound of slow music and people chattering around her; wondering where she was and how she got there.
“Oh thank God she is awake,” her mom said.
She tried to sit up and a sharp pain shot through her neck and straight to her head --- fragments of memories started forming—the alley, the lightning, the old woman.
“The old woman!”
She quickly sat up, her head nearly exploding “ugh!” she muttered and told herself it had been a dream.
“Honey bear, how are you feeling now?” her dad asked.
“My head hurts” she answered.
The doctor said you will be discharged tomorrow and you will be up and about in no time.
“I hope,” she said lying back on the bed and facing the ceiling.
She knew that she wasn’t going to tell anyone about that night and what happened to her; people are only going to think that she has lost it and will never believe her.
“You need to eat something”, Eva’s mom said and handed her a plate of porridge, a drink with steam billowing above the rim.
Eva had been out of the hospital for a day, yet, her head still hurts like its being pounded on and her back ache’s due to her fall. It just wasn’t a good day for her. Her mom tried asking her about that night but she wouldn’t say anything rather, she stayed indoors, not seeing friends or receiving any calls.
She couldn’t get the old woman out of her head. Even in her sleep, she sometimes dreams of that night but in a worse version; it’s either the woman is drowning her or she is continuously throwing balls of lightning at her head.
On such nights, she wished that she had someone to hold her and tell her that it’s all going to be okay; however, she thought to herself that she will pull through this on her own.
Eva woke up on a bright Tuesday morning, thinking to herself that she has had enough of the old woman, her dreams, staying at home and doing nothing. She thought “Today is the day I take charge. I have to go out there and get my job back and also do something with my life”. She took a bath, brushed her teeth and began to dress up for the day; wearing a little makeup and a short sleeve striped shirt with plain black jean trousers to match.
She got out of the house, leaving a note on the kitchen table for her mom to read when she wakes up; she went into the streets, minding her steps and greeting the few people she knew.
On that night, she was coming back from a job interview which took hours before it got to her turn but after the long hours she stayed waiting, she got the job. Now she is on her way back to the convenience store praying silently, for the boss to listen to her because she has already missed a week and that is not a good way to start a job.
She finally got to the convenience store by bus, standing out the door of the store; she inhaled and exhaled trying to calm herself down so that she wouldn’t start having a fever. After she was through with her breathing exercise, she put her hand on the door handle and pushed it forward and stepped in with thousands of thoughts going through her mind. At that moment, it was as if there was a pause –everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to stare at her, she wished for the ground to open up and swallow her; which didn’t happen so she stood staring back at them not knowing what to do before the manager’s secretary came to take her to the office.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Look, sir…I can explain, I know I should have been here before now but…”
“What happened and why are you coming in today?” he asked this time cutting her short and angrier than he was.
Eva thought for a while not knowing how to explain what happened to her that night; she knew this man would call her crazy but she couldn’t leave his question unanswered and so she went on to tell him about the accident she had and how she was still in shock although, she had no bruises. She made the story as real as it could be with her fingers crossed and praying to the man would believe it because she had nothing more to say.
“Are you done?” he asked her with a raised eyebrow.
Eva thought if there was anything like superpowers, she really needed one at that moment.
“Yes and that’s why I couldn’t come in for work and I’m sorry that I didn’t call,” Eva said.
“Eva Roberts, right?” he asked.
“Yes sir” she answered.
“You are going to be pardoned for this but do not repeat this again,” he said with a note of finality.
“Thank you, thank you, and thank you so much! I promise I will never do that again” she said and left his office doing her victory dance and humming to herself.
Eva’s mother came down looking for her when she saw a note on the kitchen table.
I’m out to get my job back, I will see you later in the evening,
“Well it’s a good thing she decided to go out; at least I know now that she is fine,” her mom said.
“Where is the witch?” king Eragon asked, looking angrily at his soldiers.
“My lord she ran… say, vanished!” said his commander in a confused state.
“What!” shouted the king.
“My lord we pursued her down to the north gate and right before our eyes she vanished,” said the commander cowering before the king.
The king is known for his excessive outburst of anger; his prowess is one that cannot be compared with another in the kingdom of Tyrene. He has won a lot of battles and in each has come out ten times stronger than he was, without a scratch. Each passing day, his strength grows and reaches out to every part of his kingdom and beyond even to the extent of him becoming a tyrant.
“You are going to search every nook and cranny of this kingdom and even if it means going to that dimension she vanished to, you will do it!” king Eragon ordered as he marched back angrily to the castle.
“Everyone! Move out and don’t stop until we find her”, the commander ordered.
“She will never recover from that ball of lightning I shot at her, “said the old woman laughing hysterically. “But--- isn’t that her walking across the street?” Asked the old woman a little surprise.
No, she can’t be the one, not after that lightning; meanwhile, Eva just finished her night shift and was returning when the old woman saw her.
It didn’t take long before the aura around her began to change and immediately she saw herself standing face to face with the old woman again.
“You are alive?” asked the old woman. “
“How can it be!” she exclaimed looking frustrated.
“It was you who shot me that ball of light; you could have killed me!” shouted Eva angrily.
The old woman still confused started walking toward Eva and with every step she took, her aura got stronger and Eva felt herself levitating, then she took her hand and stared intently at it shaking her head.
“No, no you cannot be the chosen one,” she said still holding her hands.
“You are too fragile, you are not strong enough!” shouted the old woman and immediately raised her hand to strike Eva again with lightning, a scream was heard which startled them both and another which brought Eva back to reality and she hurriedly slipped out of the old woman’s hand before she could get a hold of her.
She ran as fast as her legs could carry her and didn’t stop to look back until she got home. Her parents were home waiting for her when she burst in and went straight to her room.
“Eva?” her mom called.
“What is happening?” asked her dad.
They both came running towards her room and knocking on her door.
“Please go away,” she said sniffing.
Her parents stayed for a while at the door after trying again and decided to leave her to calm down before asking her again.
“No, no, no! This is can’t be happening to me again; my life was just getting better and all I want is just a normal life” said Eva as she cried bitterly.
“Do you think she is okay?” her dad asked her mom looking really perplexed.
“I really don’t know honey, She was extremely happy this morning according to the letter she left on the kitchen table and there was nothing wrong with her because she sounded so brave in her letter,” her mom said.
“It’s been three weeks since she recovered from that attack and we will not let her go back to that dark place again, “said her dad as he held his wife and cuddled her.
“It’s been months since she left through that portal and we still haven’t found it yet!” shouted the commander looking really frustrated.
“The king has given us limited time and we cannot give up now!” said another soldier.
“Wait…..if she really passed through the portal to escape, that means she must have been transformed by now; you cannot pass through any of the portals except for one without it having a change on you,” said the commander looking more frustrated than he was. We have got our work cut out for us this time.
They left the meeting hall and began their search again, this time putting extra effort and strength than they had before. While the search was going on, the king was greatly lashing out on his people, collecting more taxes and making them work for the kingdom of Tyrene. It was as if he had no more human sympathy and ruled recklessly without mercy.
His people complained bitterly and gnashed their teeth as they toiled and slaved away under the sun. Some began to wonder where they had missed it and how their king could change from the gentle soul he used to be to a domineering tyrant.
Eva got up the next day, did her normal routine and got dressed for work but, was shocked to see her parents waiting for her at the sitting room wearing long faces. She knew she was in big trouble and immediately thought of what to say.
“What happened last night?” they both asked in unison.
That almost threw her off balance, but she got herself before they could notice.
“Mom, dad nothing happened, okay?”
“But—but you were crying when…… her mom was cut short.
“That was just me being a little over dramatic over what someone said to me”. Eva said.
“Honey bear, you know that we are always here for you and that you can always talk to us about anything, okay?”
“Mom if there is anything too serious I will tell you, but right now I can handle it and I’m late for work; we will talk later when I’m back,” Eva said and left for work.
“I think there is something really bothering her but she doesn’t want to say it,” said her dad.
“I really hope it’s not too serious,” her mom said.
“There is no way she could be the chosen one and even if she is, I can’t let her see the king, “said the old woman.
She began walking back to the first alley she appeared at feeling exhausted and weak. At first, she thought she heard something but was alarmed when she looked upward and saw a ball of light coming straight to where she was standing. She began to run helter-skelter, looking for a place to hide but was too late and she was caught by a net thrown from the ball of lightning by the commander. They came down and surrounded her immediately, drawing out their swords at her and waiting for her to make a move; she looked like a drenched rat caught in a trap with no one to come to her aid.
“So this has been your hideout all this while?” asked the commander with a sly smile on his lips.
“To think that I will never be found,” said the old woman weakly.
“You had better start praying for your damned soul because you know what awaits you,” said the commander.
“Dead people don’t pray” replied the old woman sarcastically.
The commander was thrown back with her words but composed himself and grinned at her, trying to hold himself from doing anything stupid.
“I guess your powers aren’t strong enough to keep you younger, well that’s the price you had to pay, fool!” Shouted the commander at the old woman.
He ordered his comrades to bind her, which was done and before they left, she, with her last strength left a magical orb to find Eva.
The soldiers immediately took her and went back to the kingdom of Tyrene through another portal with the help of other witches. On reaching the kingdom, the king was alerted and he gave orders that she be put in the dungeon and flogged twice a day until he decides to see her. She was roughly dragged with chains on her hands and feet and thrown into the dungeon.
“You haven’t seen the last of me!” she shouted at the soldiers.
The soldiers scoffed while looking back at her and said to her that she couldn’t do anything and pulled at her hair while they mocked her.
On the set day, the king confronted her and presented her with only one option “avert the hex or die!”
She in desperation displayed her willingness to give up the orb to the king in exchange for her life. When questioned by the king on the function of the orb, she instructed him on how to use the orb and told him that only someone from the bloodline of powerful witches known as the “PHOENIX” could avert the hex.
“Where is this person!” the king thundered.
“Unfortunately sire, she is not in this kingdom”, she said with fear written all over her. But, she continues, you can only find her with the orb. As instructed, the king used the orb to find the location of the girl and quickly sent his soldiers to get her to the castle after he found out that she was not in the kingdom of Tyrene. He still imprisoned the witch in the dungeon as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, on returning home from a friend’s birthday party, Eva sees her parents arguing with some strange people in front of their lawn, she gets closer to them and crouched close to the grass as she eavesdrops on them and it wasn’t long before the orb started glowing first, as a flicker but with time it shone out like the moon.
The commander, as well as her parents, were all thrown into a state of shock and confusion, the orb began to point towards Eva’s direction and with every step the commander took, the orb glowed brighter than it was and Eva, on the other hand, felt cold shocks as she began to levitate gradually until she was three feet away from the ground and that was when she screamed and fainted. Her parents ran towards her but were instantly knocked unconscious by the commander before they could get to her. He, in turn, carried her and threw her over his shoulders and went back to the kingdom of Tyrene with his soldiers.
“When this was done, she was taken to the castle, revived and was set before the king”. The king on seeing her instantly experienced a great peace within him that he hasn’t felt in a long time. Eva sees him coming towards her and began to stagger away from him as her words come out in a rush.
“Who are you and where am I?” Eva asks shaking like a four-leaf Glover and dripping in fear.
“Ahh-I see you don’t know me…well… I am king Eragon of Tyrene and you are in my kingdom.
She froze. K-king? W-what? Okay-if this is one of my bedtime stories I think I have heard enough. I’m out of here. She stood up abruptly and headed for the door only to be stopped by the king’s guards.
“Um…Mr e-earagon of ty-something-something please just let me go. I just want to go home. She pleaded earnestly.
The king, amused at the way she tried to say his name but failed gave off a hearty laugh. This surprised both Eva and the guards, who haven’t heard him laugh ever since he became a tyrant.
“Oh dear, I think I’m going to enjoy this one”, he said and walked out of the room still smiling to himself.
The king instructed the servants to make sure she was well fed and taken care of and provide whatever she might need to her.
Days passed by and lapsed into weeks yet Eva still didn’t have knowledge of her purpose for coming to Tyrene. She worried for her parents and wondered if they were looking for her or searching for a way to get there.
The king would come into her room and take her himself to see his kingdom. He showed her how vast his kingdom is. He showed her the beautiful wonders of his kingdom. He told her stories of the past kings and how they fought for the glory of the kingdom. He already knew that he was changing and it was something more than just change. He was beginning to feel the love yet the hex wouldn’t let him. Nights, when he didn't show up Eva, would anxiously wait for him to come. She knew deep down that something new was emerging that was not there before. He had picked her interest through his little kind gestures; long nights of heartwarming talks and endless days of bliss. She was almost beginning to forget just how much of a tyrant he is. On one of the days he came to see her, he eventually told her of the hex and how it came to be.
“My father king Garamir had killed the only daughter of the most powerful witch in Tyrene for power and I had just been born. They said in place of her tears was blood and that she had cried out blood while carrying her daughter in her arms. Half of the trees that night had been struck by lightning. It rained so heavily that night that one could almost hear the heavens wailing with her”. “She had crawled on her knees to the palace doors and there lifted her daughter to the sky and hexed me. I was only a baby but the sins of my father already caught up with me”. As the king talked, a tear escaped from his eyes which he quickly tried to wipe off but was stopped by Eva who drew nearer to him as she comforted him.“Everything she said that was going to happen to me already came to pass except for two”.
“What is it?” asked a very concerned and scared Eva.
The king chuckled and smiled as he looked at her. He wrapped her in his arms, taking in her sweet lavender smell and relishing her warmth. “I didn’t think that I would ever experience what I have with you now before it comes but I think for a moment that I’m grateful for being hexed because I wouldn’t have met you”. He sadly broke away from the hug and took a deep breath as he looked at her solely in the eyes. “At the highest point of my fury and rage, I’d go mad and eventually kill myself.
Eva backed away in horror as she stared at him not believing her ears. “What is the second one?” she asked desperately as she trembled.
“We are still not…”
“My king, the witch is pleading to see you”, one of the soldiers' cuts in.
“What does she want now?” he asked rhetorically as he reeled away from her.
He took her hand as they began to walk towards the dungeon with the soldier. “Uhh…am I missing something here because I’m really confused”, Eva says throwing her hands up. “Trust me, I will tell you everything you need to know before this day ends”, he says as he kissed the back of her hand to reassure her.
They got to the dungeon and the soldier went in first to open the door that held the witch in. the king stepped in and the witch rose from her form and weakly stood before him. She made to speak when Eva ungracefully wobbled into the room almost knocking the king down. She apologized for her clumsiness and straightened up but stopped when she saw the woman in the room.
“You again!” she shouted as she pointed at the old woman. The old woman merely smiled as she looked at her.
“What is going on here?” “Have you two met before?” the king asked no one in particular.
“Met? Huh! More like she almost killed me! Eva shouted more but this time angrier than she has ever been.
“I see you have not let that go”, the old woman says nonchalantly.
“Excuse me?”, Eva replied sharply.
The real question Is, “what is she doing here?” Oh…wait a minute she turned and looked at the king, don’t tell me you sent her to kill me. She says.
“What, never!” the king exclaimed.
The old woman chuckled and sat down to ease her wearied body. “I had fled the kingdom of Tyrene when the king ordered the massacre of every witch in the kingdom. My sisters and I knew that the hex and the prophecy had begun and so they sent me to search for the chosen one and bring her back, while they went into hiding. I used the portal knowing quite well what it would cost me still I did anyway. What I didn’t know was where it was going to take me because I was in haste and I hadn’t followed the procedures.
“I’m truly sorry about our first encounter, I didn’t know”. The witch apologized.
“You didn’t know what?” Eva asked still confused.
“I think it’s time you told her yourself now”, the witch said as she looked at the king.
The king stepped forward and told Eva of her predestined role as his only savior. Eva was surprised to hear this and slowly stepped outside the room as everything dawned on her. The witch followed her outside along with the king who was in great distress. “I know this is a lot to take in Eva, but honestly, we don’t have time on our hands anymore. The king's 27th birthday is coming up soon and nobody knows what is going to happen this time”. Eva seeing that everything was now in her hands turned to them and gave the warmest smile that she could muster.
“What must I do then?” she asked the witch.
“Well I thought you’d never ask, let’s do this!” she said happily.
She took Eva’s hand and instructed her on what to do, telling her not to be afraid and repeat the magical words as she does with her eyes closed.
The witch said the magical words and Eva repeated after her but nothing happened. They both said the words again and yet it didn’t work. The witch was already getting tired as she was losing her strength, while Eva who still didn’t understand what she was doing was sweating profusely and breathing heavily.
“Eva, you need to be strong and believe in yourself and that is the only way this spell can work,” the old woman said weakly.
“Hold the king’s hand and let us say it again but this time believe in yourself” instructed the witch.
Eva held the king’s hand as the old woman’s words kept replaying in her mind “believe in yourself” she along with the old woman repeated the magical words “AzarathMetnonZinthos” in a loud voice. As they did this, Eva opened her eyes and saw that the king had fallen. She rushed to his side and called out for him but he didn’t answer. Fear gripped her, which caused her to tear up. She began to sob as she held his hand and called him to come back to her. After a while, the king sneezed and opened his eyes and on seeing her, he happily grabbed her and passionately kissed her.
The king now convinced, freed the witch from the dungeon and made a decree that canceled the banishment of witches in the entire kingdom of Tyrene. The king married Eva, which solidified the bond between the witches and humans.
One year later, as Eva was walking in the gardens she saw the old woman who, has changed back to her younger self and called out to her. she stopped and turned halfway as Eva got close to her.
“I never got to know your name after everything and I have lots of unanswered questions. You are the only one to help me with them as your apprentice but as your queen, you must tell me” Eva said hoping for answers.
The witch laughed for long and turned and faced her fully in the face with a smile and said:
“You are right, you have a lot of work to do and you will get your answers soon as my apprentice and by the way, my name is “AURORA,” she said as she disappeared into the thin air with her laughter echoing.
About the writer.
Miss Agozirim Onuigbo is a writer with a fantastic and rare gift of creating magic out of mere thoughts. She is a graduate of Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu state. She is a writer with a fine mixture of realistic and idealistic glamour.
In her words:
"Music is my forte.
Above all of this, I love God and I like traveling and seeing new places".