My eyelids opened a crack, then flew open. Panicked, I almost leaped out of the bed. I felt a firm hand holding mine. I turned slightly to see my Mum smiling down at me. The rest of my family stood around my bed, forming a silent support system.
I returned my attention to the wraithlike figure quivering on her feet, head down. I waited. When she raised her head, tears streamed down her face. I scoffed. She wanted to do what? Confuse me with crocodile tears?
“Mary, I’m sorry,” Chika croaked, going down on both knees. “Forgive me.”
“Hah!” I said. “You believe it’s actually so simple, right? Kill her and nobody will know. Plan B, since you couldn’t kill her, why not apologise instead of going to jail?”
She didn’t speak again. She buried her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking as she wept.
“Mary, forgive her,” a voice echoed off the walls.
Startled, I looked around. “No,” I said firmly. “All that cliche about forgiveness isn’t real. You can’t forgive someone who killed you.”
“Yes, you can’t,” someone said beside me. “You never do that. There are things that are unforgivable. Things you can never forgive.”
I couldn’t recognize the voice. It was a distorted baritone. I wondered if my father had caught a cold. I couldn’t agree more with what he’d said anyway.
The echo came again. “What if I hadn’t forgiven you? What if I’d held your sins against you? What if I’d sent you to eternal punishment when you died, because I have refused to wash away your sin?”
I was taken aback by those questions. Then realisation began to dawn on me. It was the Lord speaking to me. I shook my head vigorously. Lord please don’t make me do this. Don’t make me do this. Please understand me.
My heart became so heavy and the tears began to pour. “Dear Lord, it’s difficult. You don’t understand, Lord. You don’t.”
Scriptures began to flash through my mind, accompanied by gory images. A battered man being nailed to a cross. He cried out every time the hammer landed, driving the nail deeper into his skin. Blood flowed freely from every wound on his body.
He was in serious pains. I wondered how he could endure so much torture. Someone coughed and spat the catarrh on him. Everyone laughed and began to try out the game of seeing who could produce something more disgusting to spit.
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do,” I heard the man say.
Huh? They did not know? How could they not know? They definitely knew what they were doing. They knew. I looked at them, thoroughly enjoying themselves. They knew, just as Chika knew. They always know. There was no way I was going to forgive.
“Then don’t forgive,” another strange voice hissed beside me.
“Yes, I won’t,” I responded. “Let her suffer for what she did to me.”
“That’s my girl,” the voice cackled.
Why were my family members behaving so strangely and speaking like something was wrong with their voices though? The hand holding mine began to inflict pain. I felt sharp fingernails digging into my skin.
I looked up to tell my Mum that she was hurting me. My eyes met with an unearthly face. My head rotated in quick succession, from one side of the bed to the other. The people around my bed were not really my family. They weren’t humans even.
I jumped out of my skin, quivering with fear. They were demons. Demons. I knew that, because I’d see them in my visions. Visions? Was I awake? Dreaming? In a trance? I couldn’t tell. Ugly creatures hovered around my hospital bed, looking very comfortable and happy. I just wanted to get away from them. Far away from them.
I struggled to get up from the bed, but I seemed to have been bound by chains. It then dawned on me that they weren’t there to support me, they actually held me hostage. I fumbled desperately to release myself, yet I couldn’t get up. Wild with fear now. I started screaming. “Help! Somebody, help me!”
The door slammed open and William walked in. “William,” I called out to him. “William, please release me.” My voice was shaking. “Please.”
William didn’t seem to hear me. He just stood there in front of the door, with hands akimbo. Then he burst into an unnatural laughter. That wasn’t William either. I burst into tears. I was entirely helpless. Why isn’t the Lord helping me?
“Lord, please help me!”
“I have,” the Lord answered calmly.
“Have you?” I shot back. “Then why am I still here, tied down like this, with these demons harassing me?”
“Because you chose to,” He responded.
“I chose to?”
“I am he,” a voice said beside me.
“…binds you in chains if you allow him,” The Lord said.
“I do not allow him,” I said emphatically. “Tell him to un-hand me this very moment.”
“You can do that yourself. I already gave you the power.”
“You heard Him. Release me,” I said to the demon.
“No,” the demon responded very disrespectfully.
The nerve. I boiled with anger.
“I said you should let go,” I ordered more loudly.
“Let go,” I demanded a third time. “Let go in Jesus name!”
I pulled and yanked to free myself, despairing by the minute. Tears poured freely. I sobbed. “Lord, he isn’t listening.”
“Well, that’s because you invited him. He has a legal ground to hold you captive and there’s nothing more I can do about it,” The Lord said.
“Legal grounds? Nothing more? You haven’t even done anything about it sir. You’re the Lord, You can do anything. Besides, I didn’t invite him.”
“You did. Sin gives them a legal foothold to oppress you. And, I have done everything that needs to be done, beloved Mary. Once and for all, I made a public spectacle of them. It is finished. There’s nothing more I can do that’s not already done. I’ve given you authority over them. If you’re submitted to me, only then can you use it against them.”
“But I’m submitted to you!”
“Are you? Are you really submitted to me, Mary?”
The voice faded gradually.
My eyes snapped open. That was a dream! Or was this the dream? No, I was awake now. I was sure. I tried to sit up. Jesus Christ! My body was drenched with sweat. It was night already. I could hear voices as the hospital staff went about their night duty. My Mum was boiling water to make pap.
She came over to my bed to help me sit up. “Nne you’re awake.”
I jumped when she touched me.
“Are you okay dear?”
“Yes,” I managed. “Please I want to see William.” I started crying.
“He came in shortly after you started sleeping, then he went home. It’s still early, I can ask him to come. Your sisters have gone out to buy drugs.”
“Yes, please. Call him.”
On the table beside the hospital bed, my phone blared the beginning notes of Victoria Orenze’s “Draw.”
I looked at the caller ID.
It was Chika.
To be continued…