Strange Man at Iri – Chapter 17

Books

Valerie sat, looking at the necklace dangling from her hand. She found it exactly where the story had said she’ll find it. The pendant was like a round small glass, filled with blue light, that danced in circles.

A frown creased her brows, as she looked away from the dangling chain, out the window, into the cold night.

She had heard them again, the monsters in the forest. Well, going by the diary. Not monsters. Rather Okis and Omo. Whether or not Ansa had been changed to a monster, she could not tell.

But Valerie remembered, Ms. Grace had said in the kitchen there were Creatures. Yes. With an S.

Now she understood better, when Andrew had told her, Omo wouldn’t think twice about ripping her apart, if she went out with them.

How foolish she had been, thinking Okis went on a holiday with Omo. He was actually in a cave. Chained up. So he wouldn’t hurt anyone. According to the diary, a dirty cave. It explains why he was so dirty, the first time they met, at the other side of the river.

The full moon was over at that time, and he was returning home from the cave. Things were starting to make sense. But all the same, Valerie started to wonder why Omo lied, about everyone in the house falling into terrible trances, at the mention of Okis killing his wife or some past experiences.

“Was she just trying to know if I am truly Rodah?” She asked in a whisper. Then holding the necklace firmly, she put it around her neck, closed her eyes and leaned back on the chair rest.

The blue light in the transparent, ball-like pendant, stopped dancing. Instead, it slowly eased out like smoke, from the glass ball, and found its way into Valerie’s heart and head.

Memories started to pour in. Memories that had been locked out, showing to her in pictures, everything the book had revealed.

The feeling was soothing. But within 3 minutes, her eyes flew open. Sharply. And her breathing was unsteady at the memory of being ripped apart by Aaron, now Okis. She felt an excruciating pain all over as she cried out. But it soon subsided, as she fell into a deep trance.

In it, she stood before her adoptive parents, the Akiris, and her birth mother, Mrs. Eugene. Mrs. Eugene looked really happy. A man was by her side. And instincts told her, he was the priest. Her mother’s husband.

Mrs. Eugene, all smiles, stepped forward to hug her, “you have made it this far, my daughter”, she said,”you have made it this far”.

“Mama”, Valerie’s voice came in a whisper. Her hand tightened around her mother.

“Yes, my child. Now you must now do what you were reborn to do”, her birth mother said, patting her cheeks fondly. “Ese may be a formidable force. But do not forget, she is your sister. Do whatever you can, first, to help her overcome the forces that are using her. Only as a last resort should you kill. Promise me this”, she searched her daughter’s eyes.

“I will do my best to help her, mama”. Valerie promised. Mrs. Eugene smiled.

“Good. The full moon is out and your husband and child need your help. Do not forget your necklace to reverse all evil. You have to take it. You will find it exactly where you left it. In your husband’s room”.

“Yes mama”, Valerie replied, trying to remember where in her husband’s room the necklace was.

“You remember how you’re to use it?” The priest asked, stepping forward.

“Yes”, Valerie replied.

“And you remember the incantations?” that was her mother.

“Yes”.

Valerie looked then to her adoptive parents. They sure looked like they had a lot to say, but didn’t know where to start.

She wanted to be angry at them for the lies surrounding her birth. But well, what was the use. She was never going to see then again. All she could do, was forgive them wholeheartedly.

Convinced that her daughter was ready, Mrs. Eugene placed a hand on Valerie’s forehead and recited some incantations. At the last word, she blew breeze on Valerie’s head before speaking, “go now”.

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

“Valerie? Valerie! Valerie!” It was Ms. Grace’s voice, “Valerie are you ok?”

As she regained consciousness, Valerie felt hands shake her body vigorously.

She woke up to see a worried Ms. Grace and Andrew. And then she looked around to see that she was on the floor. she hadn’t realized she had fallen off the chair, before going into the trance. However, she asked,

“What happened?”

“We should be the ones asking you that”, Andrew helped her up, “You made us really worried. We have been in the sitting room, waiting for you. Then we heard you scream. Only to rush in and find you on the floor. And you weren’t responding.”

“I’m sorry, John. I never meant to”, She got to her feet, dusting her body.

A surprised Andrew who had been helping her dust her arms, paused. His eyes widened with surprise, ‘You called me John”.

Valerie frowned, not understanding why he looked surprised. “Unless you changed your name since we last met, you’re John. Yes?”

“Yes,” his grin was broad.

“And me?” Ms. Grace asked, wanting to know if what she was thinking was true.

“Oh Mummy,” Valerie laughed, acting in the same way Rodah did whenever the 1963 Ms. Helen tried to be funny. “You’re my mother. Yes? Well. I mean my mother-in-law.”

“Oh, Rodah!” Ms. Grace pulled the young lady into a tight embrace, “now I know you’re really back”.

“I am happy to be back too mama”, she grinned, “but I fear though, my husband may not return with Ese when the moon is over. She’d kill him, then return to feed us his corpse and still rule over us”.

“I thought you’re going to prevent that?” Ms. Grace’s brows shot up.

“I am”. Valerie’s expression was grave, “I pray I win the battle. But first, I will need you to take me to the cave my husband chains himself”, she looked at Andrew.

“Right away madam”, his eyes lit up, “right away”.

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

The next twenty minutes met them hurrying out of the house, and then out of the compound in a war jeep Okis had bought 5 years after they came to their new abode. Andrew knew a way around the river. And he wasn’t driving slowly.

Before leaving the house though, Valerie had gone into Okis’ room and searched among her old belongings. She found the necklace there – the one her mother had told her about. Its pink flame pendant still glittered with life. She wore it around her neck before heading out of the house.

Ms. Grace was on her tail. Valerie turned around and asked the elderly woman to stay back and wait for their arrival. But Ms. Grace wasn’t having any of it.

“I’ll die of anxiety and heart attack thinking all sorts of things and wondering what the outcome will be”, she protested, “let me come with you. Please. I’ve waited so long for this”.

So out in the cold night, there she was in the back seat, with Valerie. And although Valerie kept a brave front, so as to keep her mother-in-law’s hopes up, she was a little scared too. She feared that after waiting so long for her, she might fail them.

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

The night was cold. Cool breeze whooshed past their ears. Owls hooted on several trees. Night birds whistled and crickets sang into the night.

The war jeep did have a bump here and there, throwing both passengers and driver forth and back.

“Can you be a little more careful?” That was Ms. Grace.

“We have to get to Okis in time”, Andrew insisted, “the earlier we are done with this. The better. We have waited too long. More than 30 years”, he increased the speed.

Valerie’s heart slammed loudly against her chest. She was sure, if not for the engine of the jeep making so much noise, the beating of her heart would be heard miles away. 30 years was no joke.

She feared too. She feared for Omo. For whether she liked it or not, the girl was not just an old friend she fell out with. She was her sister. At the same time, Valerie feared, that she may not be able to defeat her, therefore letting her family down.

She wrapped her hand around the necklace she had taken from Okis’ drawer. Thanks to remembering who she was, and all her mother had taught her about the necklace. If properly used, it was supposed to return whatever evil Ese sends, back to her. But Valerie remembered, she wasn’t wearing it that day – the day Ese turned her husband into a monster, then ordered him to rip her apart. If she had, Ese would have reaped her seed of her discord.

Looking back in the direction of the mansion, she smiled. Of course she remembered it very well. Her home. And she was grateful for the fact that her mother’s husband was able to send them to the new world with their home. Probably that was why it was in a thick forest, away from prying eyes. Only the villagers close by knew of it. And they didn’t seem bothered, at least, on the days there was no moon.

Behind the wheels, Andrew’s eyes never left the road. The jeep’s headlight illuminated the path for him. So he drove on, into the forest. It wasn’t so long after they started the short journey, ugly cries from the night monsters greeted their ears.

“Okis”, Valerie whispered.

“Okis is chained up in a cave. This has to be Omo”, Ms. Grace corrected. Valerie couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

Like her nodding was a signal, they heard the monster’s cry. Closer this time, and louder.

“We are close to her territory”, Andrew said.

But Ms. Grace looked to the side, where she was sure the beast’s roars were coming from. Thanks to the full moon, she saw it. Clearly. A very ugly creature in human form. Long hairs on womanly shoulders. Bare breast covered in what seemed like little hairs.

Long sharp claws replaced normal fingernails. The creature, slightly bent, raced madly towards the speeding jeep.

For reasons beyond human comprehension, Ms. Grace’s screams got stuck to her throat. It wasn’t until the creature was within close range that her screams rang into the night.

“What is it?”, Valerie jumped, trying to ascertain what the issue was.

“Omo!”, Ms. Grace managed, pointing in the direction of the still racing creature, “she wants to kill us”.

Valerie followed the direction of her mother-in-law’s pointed finger. True. She saw it. Black ugly thing. And for reasons she could not understand, she wasn’t afraid.

“Stop the car!”. She ordered Andrew

“No way!”, Andrew said, increasing the speed. It was obvious, he already saw Omo approaching, and he didn’t want her to catch-up with them.

Her heart wrenching roars were almost deafening, as she drew closer, racing madly after the trio in the jeep. The road ahead seemed straight and Valerie knew, going straight meant being caught.

“Can you bend off the straight path?” She called to Andrew.

“Not yet”, He increased his speed.

All the while, a scared Ms. Grace kept her eyes closed, muttering words of prayers. She clutched Valerie’s right hand against her fragile heart. Valerie looked behind, not for the last time though. Omo was really close now.

Valerie turned to look ahead again. Thanks to the full moon, she spotted an opening between two trees by her right.

“Go right!” She told Andrew.

Andrew looked in the direction she pointed. True. There was an opening. He turned the car sharply out of the straight path. The screeching sound echoed into the night. Omo noticed the diversion. Not waiting to get to the spot from which the jeep swerved, she dashed into the path by her side. Taking a short cut. She knew the forest like the back of her hand. It was after all, it was her home during the full moon.

Determined to catch up with the occupants of the jeep, Omo doubled her speed. Panting and grunting. Her occasional roars echoed into the night.

Valerie looked behind. Despite hearing it’s annoying roars, she was happy to have lost the monster.

However, her happiness was short lived when from the corner of her right eye, she saw the creature again. A short distance away. Running alongside their vehicle.

“Andrew!”, she called, “make another turn”.

Andrew obeyed. He took another turn and sped off , further away from the creature.

Looking behind, Valerie was extremely glad. The creature wasn’t in sight.

All the while, Ms. Hope was certainly not herself. She whispered words of prayers. She couldn’t really understand why she and her family had to go through all they were going through. How much longer could one stand tribulations.

Now even though Valerie had gotten her memories back, Ms. Hope didn’t think it would be possible to easily defeat a witch of the first order, who had equally turned herself into a deadly and vicious monster, and now wanted them dead.

“You should have stayed back at home”, Valerie said, looking down at Ms. Hope’s clenched hands.

“If I had, I would have run mad with thoughts, wondering what could be happening. it is a terrible experience. And now that I’m here, I fear I may pass out”, she took her head out her side window and started to throw up.

Valerie moved closer, rubbing her back downwards so as to ease the elderly woman’s system. They had no idea what was in front of them. It was Andrew’s loud cry and the swift screeching off the road that got their attention.

“What is it?” Valerie quickly looked up, but not before the sudden swerved threw her back into her seat.

Unfortunately, Andrew had no time to answer that question, as he ran, head on, into a big tree. The jeep’s bonnet flew open. And smoke rose from the engine.

The force of the impact threw Ms. Grace off her seat, if not Valerie who held her tight, despite being thrown off balance.

Andrew bled from several small spots on his face, due to cuts from pieces of the shattered windscreen. He was lucky though. For one pieces narrowly missed his left eye.

“What happened?” Valerie asked again. And again, there was no time to answer her question. Or, rather, there was no need, as the angry, vicious looking monster Omo, advanced towards them from behind. The moonlight, high up from behind, outlined her ugly features.

Her claws seemed to get longer. Or was it, bigger. And so was her form. And for once, since they set out into the night, monster Omo was not roaring. She only gave a low growl, at the same time baring sharp, decayed and smelling teeth.

“Oh God! God help me!”, That was Ms. Grace, cowering beside Valerie. She looked up then, hoping to say something to Valerie. But the words died on her lips. Her brows shot up. Mouth ajar. The surprised look on her face was priceless.

Andrew chose that moment to turn around. His eyes first settled on Ms. Grace. Her expression was out of this world. Needing to know why she had that look, his eyes trailed her gaze to Valerie’s face.

Then he understood. For his expression was priceless too.

The moonlight had outlined Valerie’s form too. Only unlike Omo’s, it glowed. And a wearing off of Valerie, as they knew her, progressed. And at the same time, replaced by Rodah, in every way. Even the contours of her face were not left out.

Although Valerie was fully aware of the changes taking place, she couldn’t help but wonder why the monster had stopped in her tracks, roaring loudly now.

Was she angry the real Rodah was back? Or was it just fear?

“Rodah!”, Ms. Grace finally managed to say, covering her mouth with both hands.

Rodah looked at her. Then at Andrew. A perplexed look in her eyes.

And for some reason, neither a scared Andrew, nor an almost screaming Ms. Grace, could understand why Rodah seemed too cool and collected despite the visible changes she had just undergone.

Ignoring the duo, Rodah felt her neck for the enchanted necklace. It was still there. And it seemed to pass some level of confidence on to Rodah. She said a quiet prayer, opened her side door, and against loud protests from her companions, stepped out to face her sister.

Andrew was out in a flash to stand by her. Despite shivering terribly from fear, he just couldn’t let her face the monster all by herself.

“Go back home”, Rodah ordered, “being here is dangerous for you, as well as my mother in-law”.

“I’m not leaving you here alone”.

“Well I insist”.

“Instead we will go on to look for your husband and son”, Andrew said, stubbornly.

Rodah opened her mouth to speak. But the sound of the car door opening distracted them. She turned around to see Ms. Grace step out of the car before starting towards them.

Rodah didn’t think she could bear to see any harm come to the woman that had become a very important part of her life.

Besides, she knew that come what come may, Ms. Grace would do everything possible to find Aaron. Going back to the mansion was definitely not an option for her.

She looked back at Andrew, “Ok. Find my husband and my son. But ensure my mother-in-law is safe”.

Andrew nodded, “I will do everything to protect her”. he started back towards the car to get his flashlight and some weapons. He caught Ms. Grace’s hand along the way and made her follow him.

“What?” She inquired.

“We need to find Okis”.

“Rodah?” She asked, perplexed.

“She wants to have a discussion with her sister. It is better we are not here when the discussion starts. We don’t want to become hostages”.

Ms. Grace was clearly afraid for her daughter in-law. But she also knew, she had to have hope. After all, Rodah’s birth mother had said, she would be the only one to settle scores with Ese.

“Stay safe my child”, she whispered before Andrew led her off into the forest on foot. For the war jeep had refused to start again.

Minutes after the duo were gone, Rodah still stood in her position, staring at the now very angry monster.

“You’re angry, because you see what I have around my neck”, Rodah smiled, fiddling with the necklace.

“You are dead!”, it snarled

“Was. I was. And you know what being dead did for me? It showed me the true state of things. It showed me you’re just an entity, using my sister to wreak havoc in my family. It showed me that Ese is truly under the control of a spirit. You took control of her, the moment you gained access into her body. My mother was right all along when she said my sister needed help. She needs to be rid of you, completely and forever”.

“And how do you intend to do that?” The creature snarled, “your sister played with magic she was not supposed to play with. She gave me her body to use. I feed on jealousy. Envy. And I’ll do anything to fuel it. You, Rodah, caused her jealousy. You snatched what belonged to her. And I only helped her revenge”.

“No. You didn’t help her. You forced her. You turned her against me and her own mother. Even if she was truly Jealous about me and my husband, she never would have gone so far”.

“Nonsense! You don’t know your sister. You don’t know her like I do. I have lived with her for years”.

“No. You have attached yourself to her for years and forced her against her will. My sister has cried, for years, to be free of your hold. And tonight is the night you get out of her. And stop using her for your lustful evil”, she took hold of her necklace

“Well, you must have heard of the word, first come, first serve. You may be Rodah again. And you may have that necklace your stupid good for nothing mother, who sold you out, gave to you…..”.

“My mother never sold me out!”

“Oh, what do you call exchanging you for material things? I am the one who stuck with her and your sister, eating all the poorly cooked meals she served. I used Ese to make things better for her and what is my payment?”

“I will get you out of my sister. I will stop you from using her body any further”.

“Well, like I was saying before you interrupted me. Do whatever you wish. But be assured, I’ll get to your husband and son first. And I’ll rip them in shreds, before you succeed in taking me out of this body.

“I won’t let you!” Rodah was scared now, “you’ll not dare touch my family”.

Let’s see how you stop me then,” she snarled, viciously now, before turning around and racing off into the thick forest.

Rodah paused for a bit. Her heart raced. Fear took over. If the Entity that’s using Ese got to Aaron and little Aaron first. She was sure she’d have no family again before the night was over.

“Mama! Mama tell me what to do!”, she cried, looking up to the heavens.

 

To Be Continued…

©Karo Oforofuo. All rights reserved

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About Karo Oforofuo

Karo Oforofuo is an experienced freelance writer, self-published author, and blogger at pelleura.top. She's dedicated to helping women grow in self-confidence and self-love, through her articles and stories shared on the blog.

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