Harmony of Lady Shadow Moon
By DhNAi Divine
Copyright 2017 DhNAi Divine.
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
The night shivered as he woke, fresh from the daze of the sun. This entity was angry and there was Al on the other end to receive its fury. Alahuti (Al-luh-hue-tee)Azaigh (Uh-zigh) was his name. A friendly, but foolishly brave elderly man, who decided to face him alone. Al stood in the mouth of the frigid and damp cave. A harsh blow of air pushed him deeper inside, forcing Al’s body to freeze, because he knew it to be the hand of the entity.
The small natural hollow reeked of death and men’s despair. “Come Alahuti Azaigh, come closer,” whispers echoing in the cave. A small blaze of the dimming sunlight entered the cave, revealing only the empty stone wall and the stalactite covered ceiling. A shadow began to form, taking the body shape of a lanky well sculpted man, but the head of a jackal. Al squinted his eyes, searching in the darkness for a physical body to match the shadow, but found none.
“You were brave to respond to my message,” whispers echoing once again throughout the cave, never giving away the position of the entity.
He responds in a huff, “Did I have a choice?”
“No, not at all.”
There was brief silence and a pause in time. Time enough for Al’s beady brown eyes to search the cave for anything he could use as a weapon, but all he saw was bones and flesh, freshly killed bodies of distraught men from the big city; Midwave. The putrid smell of weeks old flesh was scattered all around in the cave and none of it skipped Al’s notice.
“Don’t be foolish Alahuti,” his voice slithered in Al’s ear. “You cannot possibly kill me. For I am your superior.”
Al’s voice bellowed, throwing caution in the wind, “What you want from me then?!”
The jackal faced entity smiled in the darkness. “I want the child, she’s mine.”
Al’s eyes glanced from side to side, making it clear he knew exactly what child he was referring to. But Al’s question feigned ignorance, “What child?”
“Don’t play dumb with me,” he said in a flurry. “You know what child I speak of. Her seventh birthday just passed. She’s ready to come back home with me,” the entity spoke his next statement word for word, “and…you…will…bring…her…to me.”
“No,” Al whispered, “I ain’t sacrificin’ my own. Not even to a god. This ain’t her curse and will never be, the cycle ends here. I’m ready to die.” Alahuti stood tall, straightening his back and looked ahead in the darkness of the cave.
After a moment of quiet the entity spoke, “And you will—a slow and tortuous death.” The entity growled low in his throat, Al braced himself for the strike. His growl grew louder, until it eclipsed all sounds in the night. And all had changed.
She lays on her belly at the bottom of her wide bed, kicking her legs about in the air. Her sun kissed fingers fingered her freshly single twisted, auburn kinky hair, enjoying the feel of the soft texture and long length. She was Aanujah (Aah-new-juh).
“Gurl!” She shouted through her cell phone. “You crazy!” Aanujah laughed out loud at her silly friend, then posed a question, “You on yo way?” Aanujah smacked her lips at her best friend’s reply, then told her, “Well, you betta hurrup, ‘cause we ‘bout to roll out.”
“Aanu,” her mother Alanah called from the bottom of the steps, “come on. Y’all go mess around and miss y’all flight.”
Aanujah finishes up her conversation and hops off her bed, whirling around her clean room. Ever since she was a kid her room always seemed happy—cute as a child—annoying as a teen. Her room was dressed up in the colors of a newborn baby girl. Aanujah’s wardrobe choice of the day and the clothes in her closet did not match her happy room. Aanujah swiped her last suitcase from the floor and strolled out the door.
Aanujah, her older brother Aaron, and her best friend S’hkmanyu (Sahk-mahn-yuh) were on their way to the Dirty South. The kids were leaving behind their gentle ghetto known as Nyjer, Nyjerhood, or Aanu’s favorite Red Ridah Hood for their summer break. Located in some little old place in the Midwest. A flight waiting with their names on it was taking them away. The two twenty-year-old ladies and twenty-three year old fella was going to see grand-mama.
“Shoot!” Aniyla (Uh-ny-luh) angrily shouted as she watched her favorite bowl of sugar break on the tile floor. She knelt in her flowery patterned house dress to look closer at the broken glass. None of the glass scattered, the pieces sat oddly in the sugar, that feeling came back. A vibe she’d been feeling since she woke that morning. Filthy bugs of slime felt as though they were climbing on her skin, violating all of her.
Tears streaked down her ebony hued face and fear rose in her chest. He was happy, the wolf. If any mood worried her the most, it was his happiness. Because then he would celebrate, which meant he’d be visiting town soon. A soft sob ran through the old woman as she thought of her dead husband and his demise.
Aniyla departed her roomy kitchen, leaving behind her broken bowl of sugar. She needed space from this madness and the thoughts that surfaced in her head, but was cut short once her doorbell rang. Her aged feet slid across the floor, moving her to the door. Aniyla squinted her round forest green eyes, and caught the sight of four figures on her porch. “Nai-Nai (Nah-Nah)!” Greeted Aniyla as she pulled open her front door.
Her grand-kids Aaron, Aanujah and her best friend S’hkmanyu all in a circle behind Ol’ Shaimps.
“Aye Miss Niyla!” He smiled a toothy grin, none of which was lost on the kids. “I saw these wide-eyed puppies wanderin’ ‘round the town—thought dey was lost. Knew dey belong to ya, ‘cause dey almost as cute as my Niyla. Hey!” He burst out excitedly, laughing.
Granny Niyla laughed from her belly, her first true laugh of the whole week. “Thank you Shaimps, I do ‘preciate it. Why don’t you stop by for dinner tonight? I’ll make you a plate.”
“You know I will,” his southern accent ringing through his words, he winked, then left to go on his way.
Aniyla smiled at the youngsters in her presence, relieved to see they made it safely. “My babies!” She spread her arms wide and the three rushed to embrace her. “Get y’all butts in this house and tell Nai-Nai what’s the word.”
The kids grinned, grabbed their bags and came inside. “Your mama really ain’t comin’?” She looked at Aanujah.
“Naw Nai-Nai. She had to work, but she should make it for my birthday party.”
Aniyla sighed, then shook off the feeling, not wanting it to spread like a virus to her grandchildren. “Y’all go ‘head get settled. Dinner won’t be ready for another few.” Aniyla left her kids in the hallway, while she scurried over to the kitchen. She wanted to clean her mess before one of the kids see it.
The doorbell rang out only a half hour later from the kid’s arrival, knocking Aniyla from her cooking trance. She hesitated to go to the door, in her mind there wasn’t a need to open the door. All who needed to be in her house, was in. One of her babies beat her to the punch. All she heard was, “I’ll get it Gran-Nai (Gran-Nuh)!”
Aaron rushed down the hall, zooming pass the kitchen, reaching for the door. “Tim!” He happily barked out. Timothy Barnis, a native of the town and a friend to the kids ever since their first visit.
“When did my main homie get in town? An’ why I’m just knowin’ about it?”
Aaron smiled, giving dap to Tim. “You ain’t too late nigga. We flew in about thirty minutes ago.”
“Boy! Who at my door?”
Aaron shouted back his reply, “Its just Timothy B Nai-Nai!” Timothy warmly greeted Aniyla, and she to he, then the boys went to chill in the living room. Before the boys could get comfortable the ladies came down the staircase. Timothy jumped to his feet as he watched Aanujah saunter down the steps in slow motion. Aaron looked over and waved his hands in front of Tim’s face, saying, “He’s going, he’s going, he’s gone.”
“Whatsup Aaron,” Aanu asked, throwing her hands up, “we still rollin’ in town or what?”
Aaron could only get a nod in, because Tim took over the conversation. He strolled towards Aanujah, his mellow brown eyes peaking over his glasses. “Mm, sexy, sexy Aanu. How you do what you do! Ooh. How are you my wife to be?”
Aanujah smirked, turning to her best friend who was shaking her head, holding back giggles. “Uh Tim, honey,” Aanu said, leaning her head back on his shoulder, since he decided to get so close.
“Yes, yes wifey,” he murmured in her ear.
“I really like your glasses Timothy.”
He licked his lips and said, “Well thank you baby.”
“But, uh…if your body frame don’t find its way up off me you go be pickin’ them glasses back up in a hundred pieces. An’ wit’ yo eyesight its go look like a thousand pieces. Back up off me Tim.” Aanu elbowed him away, Tim went back to Aaron’s side.
“It’s okay,” Tim said to Aaron who was cracking up at his friend’s embarrassment. “Oh, whatsup sock it to me, or sock it to you.” Tim looked to Aanu’s friend.
She rolled her onyx eyes. “S’hkmanyu or Saki for short Timothy the corny nerd.”
“Yeah, whatever Saki.” Timothy turned his attention to the two siblings. “Where y’all goin’?”
Saki turned up her nose and answered, “A place that doesn’t concern you.”
Timothy put his big hand in Saki’s face. “I don’t believe I was talkin’ to you. Damn A, I see what you mean by annoying.” Saki slapped his hand out her face and instead got in his face with a dare in her gaze.
“Hey, hey,” Aanu said, breaking the near fight apart, “we takin’ the bus to the mall Tim. You rollin’ wit’?”
“Takin’ the bus?” Tim questioned, looking between Aaron and Aanujah.
“You got a better way to get there?”
“As a matter a fact Saki, I do. Maybe it’ll shut ya mouth.” He pulled keys from his back pocket, dangling them in his friend’s faces. “I got wheels baby! Let’s be out.”
“Bet!” Aanu said, giving a pound to Aaron and Saki. “Come on Saki, we’ll tell Gran-Nai we leavin’.”
“What was that about?” Saki asked as she opened the car door.
“I have no idea Manyu,” Aanu replied, sinking into the backseat.
Both Aaron and Tim turned to the ladies in the backseat. “What granny say? She say no and it took y’all all that time to sneak out.”
“Naw Aaron. She said we can go,” Aanu replied, trying to say as little as possible.
Tim probed, “What took y’all so long then?”
“Uh,” Aanu looked to S’hkmanyu, attempting to make up a lie, “uh I ran upstairs to get my money.”
“Oh.” The boys settled.
The girls only settled into their seats once the car moved. The truth was Aanujah and S’hkmanyu had to deal with Gran-Nai’s fussing. Once Aanu announced the kids were driving to the mall it took ten minutes to calm Gran-Nai’s hysteria down. Aniyla didn’t want the kids out her sight, had hoped they’d stay in or around the town for their visit. But nothing changed, because ever since they were allowed to leave without parental eyes, they were gone.
Aniyla tried to inform the girls about the wolf, but to the girls it was more like babbling about the wolf. Aniyla attempted to explain the feeling of terror that washed over her. Something awful of the grandest magnitude was about to go down and the last thing she wanted was the kids gallivanting around the big city. Aanu stood still that entire time, hearing about the wolf, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. She didn’t believe in all that superstitious bullshit.
To her that so-called information was just a hyped up elaborate tall tale to scare children. And when they were children it scared the living daylight out of them, keeping them up at all hours of the night. Gran-Nai knew she was fighting a lost cause, so she simply begged the girls to stay with the boys. Don’t stray too far from the group and get back in the house before night fell. The girls smiled sweetly as if they actually heard all Gran-Nai said, sealed the talk with a hug and kiss, then bolted for the door, before she changed her mind.
By the time Tim’s raggedy maroon station wagon pulled into the big town, it was filled with a few friends from the neighborhood. The maroon station wagon was thumping with music, the kids repeating rap lyrics, dancing in unison. The loud music and the louder voices of the kids crooning horribly when a soft R&B song played seeped to the streets of the big city. The town Nkosia (Nuh-cojuh) was thought of as the pitiful town of crazies to many in Midwave. But Nkosians never paid mind to it and made a stop in Midwave anyways.
The rumors of a werewolf residing in Nkosia is what brought tourists to Midwave in the first place, but still there was no appreciation. Tim pulled into the northeast corner of the huge mall, every window rolled down, eyes peaking, seeing all the youngsters stopping by the mall on this fine Friday. It was eight at night, the sun was nearly gone from the sky and the kids just pulled up. Ain’t no way they’re gonna head back for Nkosia right now.
“Ooh wee!” Saki exclaimed, looking around the packed food court. “Girl, the mall is jumpin’ jumpin’ tonight.”
“Yes lawd,” Aanu playfully said, “and I can’t wait to get it jumpin’ jumpin’ myself wit’ one of these fine brothas.”
Both Saki and Aanu laughed amongst themselves, gaining the attention of the five guys they rolled with, but only one approached. Four of the boys return to their own conversation, while the short, bean brown colored young man who looked like a chipmunk sent a geeky smile to Saki. He said, “What’s so funny ladies?”
S’hkmanyu took a deep breath and before she could respond Aanu did it for her. “Just glad to be out the house Goop.” Goop grinned cutely still giving his eyes to Saki, forcing it to make Saki look away and Aanujah to laugh.
Saki whispered to Aanu as Goop walked away, “Why are all yo brother’s friends awkward geeks? Why can’t they be,” Saki shook her head as she thought of the best way to say it, “can’t they be—”
“Any day now Sak.”
Saki smacked her lips. “Why can’t they be like him? Ow!”
Aanujah bit her bottom lip and chuckled at her best friend’s burst of excitement. Her eyes followed Saki’s line of vision and saw him stroll into the food court. He was six four, skin so flawless it looked like polished black marble, long thick locks, clothed in basic black jeans and black hoody.
“Okay on this one I’m feelin’ you.” Aanu smiled as both girls watched him grab a seat, while fighting the urge to chase after him.
Saki said, breaking both ladies from their trance, “But instead Aaron ass hang around these busters.”
“If you ain’t notice Aaron got a little nerd in him too. But foreal, shut up Saki. The gang is a handsome bunch, just need a little work in wardrobe.”
“Sheeit, they need a lotta work in personality, get some a that quirk up out they system.”
“Shut up Sak. In case you forgot it was one of these nerds as you like to call ‘em that got us here and will get us back.”
Aaron walked over to the girls, cutting in their conversation. “Yeah Sak, you keep talkin’ like that you won’t be ridin’ in the nerd mobile. And that ain’t nothin’ but the real Saki. You need to shut up.”
“That’s what I’m sayin’.”
“I know Nu-Nu. Look doe, we ‘bout to hit up the arcade spot. Timbo told me they got some new game system up there. So, we be out, I’ll hit yo cellie when it’s time to bounce.”
“Hold on,” she hailed him back over, “gimme some money.”
Her brother frowned. “What? I thought you had some, that’s what supposedly took you so long.”
“Well, I was lyin’. Come on hook ya lil sis up. I just wanna get some food Aaron.”
He sighed, but relented and dug in his pocket. “Thank you big bruh. See, that’s why me love you.” The gals stood on their toes to kiss Aaron’s cheek, then he watched them walk off.
“Aye,” Tim called, getting Aaron’s attention. “Let’s go.”
“Hol’ on,” Aaron said, keeping his friends from heading to the game room, “you said we need six players for the game, right?”
“Yeah,” Tim says, nodding.
“Well,” Aaron let the word linger.
“A’ight, how about him? He from ‘Kosia and e’rything.” Tim pointed at the mysterious guy Aanujah and Saki had their eyes on. By now he was comfortable at his table reading a small black book that held no picture, words, or title on the front and back cover. He seemed in a trance which crept the guys out.
“Hell naw,” one of the boys said, “pick again.” The other fellas gave murmurs of agreement.
“Aw that’s messed up y’all. What y’all got against homeboy?” Tim said.
“His ass is creepy,” Aaron retorted.
Timothy looked at his friend, “Not you too.”
“Look at him,” Goop said, jabbing his chubby finger in his direction, “he could be talking to the devil right now. I swear ya boy is mass murderer in the makin’.” The guys laughed.
“Okay now,” Aaron spoke, “I ain’t goin’ that far, but dude look kinda crazy.”
“What we go do about the game?” The tall, skinny guy of the group questioned.
“Maybe we can find somebody up there. Come on,” Aaron replied.
“Damn Sak,” Aanu says, glossing her plump lips in the wide restroom mirror. “You plop ploppin’ in there or somethin’?”
“Shut up!” Saki shouts from her stall. “For yo information I’m takin’ a piss, but you still ain’t gotta put my business out there like that.”
Aanujah smiled, tucking her laughs behind it. “My bad baby girl.”
“Whatever,” Saki answers, “I know yo ass gettin’ ready to laugh, so don’t front.”
Then Aanujah let her laughs rip. “I’m just sayin’ sis, I’m just sayin’.”
Saki opened her stall door, zipping up her skin-tight jeans. Saki smiled as she went for the foamy soap and said, “You ain’t sayin’ nothin’.”
The girls exited the restroom, talking amongst themselves down the empty hall. Lockers on one side, random pictures on the other, noise and commotion straight ahead. The young ladies grinned and laughed as hard as they knew how, because both felt the shiver. Neither girls could place it and neither wanted to admit, Gran-Nai’s beliefs of the wolf rubbed off on them. So, while they sauntered around the shopping mall, they indulged their every sense to forget what could possibly lay in the near future.
“Watch out Nu-Nu!” Saki yelled, pointing behind her. But before Aanu knew it she was tumbling into a lofty male form.
“Dang,” Aanu wiped her hand over her face, getting to her feet with the help of Saki and the gentleman she knocked over.
Saki whispered, “Look.” Her eyes motioning to the man Aanujah knocked over. “It’s him. That fine dark chocolate specimen.”
“Oh my god,” Aanu said under her breath. “I am so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” his gentle baritone voice purred. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. Are you alright is the question. I’m not the one who just got knocked over.”
His handsome face smiled, flashing perfect teeth. “I’m good…thanks for your concern.”
Aanu looked down. “Damn, I knocked all your stuff on the ground.” She squatted to pick his items up, he rushed to grab a hold of his things first. Her hands immediately went to a solid black book with the word Necromancy written on the spine, not that she had a clue of what that meant. She knew it was something up with it, because the brother quickly snatched it from her hands, stuffing it back in his bag.
“Thank you again,” he said, standing to his feet along with Aanu.
“So, Mister man,” Saki started, “would you like to join us at our table? We ordered some pizza—it should be ready by now.”
He shakes his head. “No.”
“I really feel bad about bum rushin’ you, the least we could do is feed you.”
“No,” he slightly smirked, but let it fall away, “thank you for the offer, but I really gotta get out a here.”
The ladies turned to each other, giving one another quizzical glances, then back to him.
“Alright,” Aanu replied, “maybe another time. Peace.”
“Bye ladies, have a good night.” Then he took off in a hurry towards the exit.
“Ohkay, that was a bit weird.”
“Yeah,” Saki said, “but he still fine. Mm.”
The girls faced each other and giggled, then left for their food with megawatt smiles.
It was quick. The sky didn’t even give onlookers below a chance to blink, to capture the clear beauty of the night sky. The night was going well, sky built with twinkles of star light, surrounded in a canvas of flawless black. But instead the sky took a turn, uncovering dull puffs of gray. Gray clouds that didn’t move in, they simply appeared, taking up space with no shame.
Winds picked up, swarming around house walls, mercilessly kicking its ass. And the cold, not the coldness of the air, but a feeling so glum that a cool shiver overtook the body, forcing the movement. Aniyla stood witness to the changes and probably one of the few in Nkosia to notice. She clutched on the cordless phone in her right hand, while clutching nothing but air and hurt in the left hand, anger blazing in her eyes. She paced away from the window, knowing there was no turning back once the doors were open.
The wolf blew in town and there ain’t no telling what he was up to this time around. So rightfully Aniyla was worried about her family. She muttered to herself, “I’m a hurt these damn kids if the wolf don’t get to ‘em first.” Once again, she dialed Aanujah’s cell number, rocking herself, praying she pick up.
Aanujah looks up from her phone, glanced Saki from her peripheral tearing up a slice of pizza. “Come on Sak, we gotta find the boys. Somethin’s wrong.” Aanu stood from her seat, Saki looked at her, confusion brewing in her eyes. As S’hkmanyu rose from her seat, still with pizza in hand, the boys entered the food court.
Aanu raised her arms up, gaining her brother’s eye. She started to come to him, but Aaron shook his head, his expression spoke, “stay there”. Aanu nods, waited, but didn’t sit back down. “Gran-Nai is blowin’ my cell up,” Aaron said as he neared the ladies’ table. “What about you?”
“Yeah, not only have she called me about fifteen times, but I’m gettin’ text after text. Nai-Nai is on one right now. But uh…I ‘on’t think she’s in the wrong though.”
“Whatsup? What you know that I don’t?”
Aanu lets her breath out. “Craziness big brother, pure craziness. Trust me when I say you don’t want none a what we got right now. You just gotta trust me, okay? We need to leave, like right now.”
“Awright. Come on, we gotta get Tim.”
Saki says, “Where the hell is he at, at a time like this?”
Aaron shook his head. “He had to use the bathroom.”
They briskly walked through the rush of people for the men’s restroom.
“I’ll be right back y’all,” Aaron utters to the group.
He walked in the restroom, toilet paper and paper towels scattered all over the black and white tiled floor. He spotted Tim’s shoes in one of the stalls, shaking his head, unsure. There was no funky smell taking air space, but there was a strange scent that Aaron couldn’t put his finger on. He wrote it off as a foul smell from Tim’s waste when he heard a grunt.
“Aye yo,” Aaron said as he banged on Tim’s stall door. “Aye Tim if you dumpin’ you need to hurry up.”
The bathroom went quiet and just as Aaron was about to bang on the door again Tim answered. “What’s wrong man?” His voice came out deep, then leveled to its regular tone when he posed his next question, “Some drama pop off in the mall?”
“Naw, home drama.”
Tim sighed, “Alright man.”
Aanu, Aaron, and Saki were the last to be dropped off, since Aniyla’s home was the furthest back in their little town. The three sat in Tim’s car for a good fifteen minutes, trying to push that fifteen into an hour. The three didn’t want to face Gran-Nai. They each knew she was going to verbally beat them down, with love, but a beat down was a beat down. Tim knew it too, but he had his own problems.
“Listen y’all,” Tim spoke, getting ready to shut the operation down, “I know y’all don’t wanna face Gran-Nai, but I got my own family to deal wit’. If my mama ain’t home to calm papa down, this might be the last night you see me.”
“Its go be that bad?” Aanu questioned, reaching her hand to his with tender concern.
Timothy smiled, squeezed her hand and shook his head. “I’m just playin’ Aanujah. But foreal though I will get in trouble if I get in too late.”
“Alright dog,” Aaron said, “we’ll let you go. An’ just deal with our fate. Hopefully we’ll holla at ya tomorrow.”
“Get in safe,” Aanujah replied, departing the car.
“Thanks for the ride Tim B,” Saki said. The fact that they were about to get in trouble cooled Saki’s sass down.
The door was already unlocked and Aniyla gave them as much time as needed to get in the house. Like Aanu said, Nai-Nai was on one. Her fire was nowhere near friendly and for sure the kids’ behinds was about to be scorched. The kids tried to scurry pass the kitchen and living room, knowing Aniyla would be in one.
All they heard was, “Bring. It. On. In. Now!”
Their heads lowered one by one and their feet dragged. “Don’t make me say it again! Move them feet!” Their feet moved, catching sight of the lights lowered, candles and incense filling the large living room space. Aniyla lit candles and incense when in a strong mood, but only the scent denoted which mood she was in.
The room smelled of apple-cinnamon, she escalated to another level of angry. She didn’t look at them, she simply pointed at the snow-white sofa and told them, “Sit down.” They watched her take several calming breathes before they drew a deep inhale themselves, fearful of Aniyla snapping on them. But, she didn’t even look the kids’ way, she almost made them feel safe.
“You know my older cousin Jama didn’t believe in this grrreeeaaattt big bear thing livin’ in the woods of our grandparents’ house in Lil Rock. That was of course ‘till she seen its teeth tearing at her leg. I tried to warn and warn her, but she just called me a little liar, cryin’ wolf.”
The three turned to each other, but still too afraid to speak. What was she talking about…again?
Then Gran-Nai snapped, eying the youngsters in her sight. “I don’t give a damn! I don’t care if none of you believe in this demon, all that matters is I do. I have a strange knowin’ of things like this. Always have. And since you under my roof you will play by my rules, hear? I told you,” she pointed at them, “I told you to be in this house when night fell, not mornin’, night!”
She stood, breathing heavy, turned away from the young adults. She swiveled back towards her grandchildren. “But somehow not a single tail hopped its ass back in this house. The least you three little Negroes could of done is call your granny, so she could know you were alive.”
Aniyla turned away again, rubbing her temple. One of the kids drew breath and Aniyla whirled on all three of them. “And if a single one of you pull that I’m grown card, so help me god when I’m done wit’ you, you go need some new limbs. I don’t care how old you get, I will always be older. Go to your room, ‘till I can figure out what to do wit’ y’all.”
A thunderous boom goes off, punching Nkosia in the chest. One half of Nkosians believing it to be an explosion, the other half wasn’t fooled. They knew he, the wolf, was making his appearance. A decade of peace allowed Nkosians to settle in calm waters, but no longer. Something or rather someone stirred the wolf from his long sleep.
The boom happened in the sky, forcing all of nature to go still. It was the weekend, the small town’s bars and clubs were getting ready for the rush of working people. People who just needed to relax, let loose. It would seem, so did the wolf. Folks were running about the town, made up in their best clothes, ready to turn heads.
Something else now had their attention. Phantom dogs appeared around Nkosia, hovering a few inches from the ground. Dogs of a smoky black, much bigger than the average dog, standing still and quiet. The wind blows, gaining speed and force, howling its song. Just at the right key, the dogs begin barking and dangerously growling.
As their growls grow louder the wind hits harder, banging formless fists against walls and windows in the town. Through the screams and fits of Nkosians an owner of a local bar named Paza Pits staggers outside, shouting at the top of his lungs. “What you want?! Don’t destroy our town! We won’t take this again!”
There is always at least one brave man to step up and speak, but it’s futile. He was lucky not to be struck dead for the offense. This time the wolf was on a mission, a mission where it wasn’t necessary to slaughter massive numbers of innocent people. Spirits rose from the ground or appeared in air in droves. Taunting any person on the streets by simply laying a bony finger on their forehead to cause raging pain.
Or cast images to make them go well beyond madness. The old man staggered his way back into his bar, Paza Pits, to find the spirits paying his place a visit. The lights flickered from their vibrations, gray figures taking human form smiled at the man. His customers glued at the bar or a table, or booth, too terrified to move or look away. It’s been so long since the spirits from down under paid a visit. Nkosia has become so unattached from the spirit world in this new millennium.
So unattached that they all forgot how to deal, but this time the spirits didn’t come in peace. They came at the command of a very old entity, known as the wolf and they weren’t leaving without at least one body and soul. One spirit with very lively tawny eyes no longer hesitated and found his target. He slithered near the bar, hissing as he moved, his brown eyes turning gold, his long bushy tresses swayed as he neared. As his victim looked up, he finally realized he was the soul to be taken.
The spirit jumped into his body, making the fat balding man shake violently, falling from his stool. No others moved near him, and every customer at the bar ran from their seat, fearful that one touch could lead to their demise. Women covered their mouths, men only shook their head. The man’s pallid skin grew red as blood rushed to find an exit and before it could slide down an opening, it burst from his gut with furious force. His azure eyes went glassy, the skin of his face returned white, and he was gone.
The spirit left his body with a decaying soul in his hand, his face peered around with a satisfied grin, then he disappeared.
“Y’all hear that?” Saki says, going over to the window, hoping to see activity. Aaron and Aanu didn’t respond, but they all heard it. The three chose to stick together in the same room, because Aniyla had them nervous.
“She neva been this bad before. I mean…she seem terrified, foreal. We came in late before, but she ain’t never went off on us like that,” Aaron said, pacing.
“What you expect?” Aanu questioned, shrugging her shoulders, looking up at her brother from her reclined position on her bed. “Gran-Nai been livin’ here long enough, maybe she can feel when somethin’ bad is ‘bout to happen. It probably ain’t this mysterious wolf, but it’s prolly serious.”
As the voices of the three young adults settled into silence Aniyla barged in, after having checked in Aaron’s room, only to find them in the girls’ room. Aaron leaned on the wall and questioned, “Whatsup Gran-Nai?” Voicing the question all three of them was thinking.
Her face held a terror none of the three were ever witnessed to. “He’s in town.”
“Who?” Aanu asks, but then answers herself. “The wolf.” Granny only bobs her head yes.
Saki looked to her peers first, silent, then to Aniyla. “Somebody spot it?”
Granny shakes her head no. “Nobody sees him the day of his return and the rest pretend like they don’t see him…even if they do. He’s not the gossip of the town Saki, he’s the whisper.”
The youngsters took a shaky breath, releasing their fright on the exhale. Aaron took a seat on the edge of Aanu’s bed and looked up to his Gran-Nai. “What we supposed to do now?”
Aniyla nods her head, saying, “We stick together. No matter what. He’s stronger, I can feel it. I can feel him trembling with new power.”
“How do you know this Nai-Nai?” Aanu probed, her face curling in confusion.
“A Khmuuxe (Kah-mu-chee) killed on his command.”
“A what Nai-Nai?” Saki questions, sitting upright on her bed, against the wall.
“A capture spirit of the underworld. One a his personal demons. They’re the souls he took and use at will. He’s never killed on his first day back. It usually takes him much longer. Only possession,” she says sharply, “then murder.” The room fell quiet for a while, the kids watched in silence Aniyla walking over to the large window. She peeled back the long lavish curtains to peak out.
She spoke with her back turned from her grandchildren, “I gotta get my supplies from the basement. Y’all stay put in here, together.”
“No Nai-Nai we’ll go wit’ you,” Aanu said, gaining nods from Saki and Aaron.
She fervently shook her head. “No,” Aniyla swallows hard. “Stay here,” her whisper lethal. “I am NOT playin’. I’ll be alright. For me please…stay in this room.” Aniyla gave no chance for a reply before she headed to the door.
But before Aniyla could exit the room every light in the luxurious home went out. A maniacal chuckle left the wolf’s chest, coating Aniyla’s insides with grime. Mr. Wolf was baiting them to exit their home. And the only one aware of that was Aniyla. The kids heard Aniyla’s feet shuffle to the hallway, she calmly strolled back in the girls’ room with a new candle and old lighter.
Her terror was gone, replaced with something a bit more dangerous. Rage. And courage, mingling together to make a tasty blend. Aaron’s, Aanu’s, and Saki’s stomachs clenched with fear as soon as the lights flashed off, but watching courage glow on Aniyla’s face forced them to find some.
“Come on,” Aniyla commands, the candle light revealing her face. “We sleep downstairs under candle light. More candles downstairs.”
Aaron speaks up, capturing the ladies’ attention, “That won’t keep us warm through the night Gran-Nai. The temperatures drop.”
“I know that, that’s why we have to stay close, body heat. The only other source is the firewood back behind the house. But I ‘on’t want anyone to go out this house.” She turned from the door to peer at Aaron. “I mean it boy. I don’t want none a you out this house till mornin’, hear?”
“So, you tellin’ me this wolf don’t kill in the mornin’?” His question laced in sarcasm and more of a statement than a question.
“Oh, you believe in the wolf now?” Aniyla snapped on him.
“No,” Aaron replies quietly, putting respect back in his tone. “But, Nana what difference does it make what time a day I go out? I don’t want us freezin’. This wolf will not scare us still in the house.”
Aniyla’s eyebrows raised, the flicker of the candlelight reflecting in her bottomless green eyes. She grabs her grandson by the arms. “You will stay put in this house till the sun comes up or…or you won’t be welcomed to Nkosia. Don’t try me. Not now. I love you too much. I love all three a you too much to lose you to this…this thing. Now,” she exhales, staring back at Aaron, “I’m gonna trust you, don’t make me regret it.”
Aniyla swallows, remembering how it worked with the wolf. It was always easier to catch males, their pride forces them to fight passionately, but blindly. The wolf could always get the men stuck in his shit.
The three youngsters followed Aniyla downstairs, Aaron grumbled in the back of the group. Aniyla continuously checked over her shoulder making sure Aaron didn’t bolt out the house in any fashion he could. The house was colder than ever before. Never once has the house become victim to cold in any of the family’s visits. This couldn’t have been a worse time for Aanu’s and Aaron’s mama not to come.
Aniyla couldn’t agree more. Aniyla bared the cold better than the young ones thought she would. Curious. Gran-Nai ushered the kids into the living room, looking over them over and over again before she opened her mouth.
Her old pretty hands slid down her face, exasperated. “Damn,” she mutters, snapping her finger. “We need the mega mattress.”
“I’ll get it,” Aaron announces, jumping up in front of the girls.
Aniyla without a doubt shook her head. “I don’t think so. Have a seat.”
Aaron sighed, pleading, “Come on granny. Trust me. I’ll get the mega and bring it in here.”
Aniyla rolled her eyes, then pointed at Aanujah. “Go with him. Help ‘em.”
“Granny!” He says. “I ‘on’t need help, no offense Nu-Nu, but I don’t need help. And I don’t need nobody watchin’ over me like a child. Just trust me Nai-Nai.”
She rolled her eyes once again. “Fine. But if you even think a walkin’ out that door—” She let the statement trail off allowing his imagination to complete it.
“I hear you.”
“Gon’ then,” she replies, waving him off, “hurry back.”
Aaron nods and grins, leaving the room abruptly before she changed her mind. It took him a few minutes to get back. The ladies calmed once they heard him dragging the mega down the wide hall.
“You need a light big bruh?!”
“I’m good Nu-Nu,” he yelled back. As soon as the girls saw him in the archway, they ran to help him get the mattress in the living room. The group pulled back the elegant couches, making room for the mega.
Saki looked to Aniyla, asked, “Where the covers Nai-Nai?”
Aniyla pointed to the hallway. “In the closet down the hall.”
“I got it, I got it.” Aaron ran to the hall, grabbing neatly folded sheets and thick blankets. As the women put the bed together, Aaron thought it best to slip out the back door. He didn’t shut the door completely, knowing it would grab the attention of his family.
“Alright,” Aniyla speaks, moving back from the bed, inspecting it. “Get on the bed. All a you. Aaron?”
She turns around, calling for her grandchild. “Aaron? Shit. Aaron!” She ran down the hall and felt a chilly breeze run up her exposed thigh. Aniyla pulls her robe tighter around her body, then slammed the door…pissed. She can’t believe Aaron not only disobeyed her order, but didn’t close the damn door.
“Nai-Nai!” Aanujah calls out, not wanting to stand off the bed, too afraid of the possibility of her grandmother being gone.
Aniyla answers back, “I’m fine child.”
“Your brother,” Aniyla says, entering the room with the girls still sitting on the bed, “he left.” Aniyla vented her anger by knocking four unlit candles to the floor, breaking its glass shell. “I’m going after him.”
“No Nai-Nai!” The girls yelled, hopping up from their seated position.
“I have to. He don’t know what he’s up against, but I do. Sit down,” she demanded.
“Nai-Nai,” Saki said, carefully, “let’s just give it a few minutes.” S’hkmanyu looked to Aanu for her to add.
“Yeah,” she spoke up, “he might even bring back some wood. A couple minutes Nai-Nai, just a couple.”
Time was up. No matter what the girls said, Aniyla was out. “Enough!” Aniyla growled, pushing away from the wall. “Enough,” she reiterated, closing the girls’ arguments. “Ten minutes flew by and that was more time than I even wanted to pass.”
Aniyla leaves the room to head for the basement. She moved briskly on her feet, knowing if she was gone a second too long the girls would freak. She returned to her grandchildren with a black handbag in her grip. She whipped out two stout bottles, one held a milky-white thick liquid and the other a cherry-red thin liquid. The final item was a thin umber branch with long leaves protruding out.
“Stay on this bed, while I handle my business.”
Granny dips the leaves in the thin red liquid and allowed a few drops to hit the bed. Her voice called titles of Gods’ and Goddesses’ of every variety. Gods and goddesses of Vodoun, Yoruba, Kemet, Native American, her ancestors and many more. She shouted names followed by Ashe, circling around the bed, shaking the red liquid off the green leaves. Aniyla finished the libation by pouring the thick liquid on all four sides of the bed, creating a symbol of protection. “I’m goin’ now.”
But still the ladies protested, standing up once again. “We should go,” Aanu said, looking to her best friend. “Not you Nana. What you go protect yourself wit’?”
She plainly states, “The gods. They got me through this ordeal before and they’ll get me through it again. They will protect me.”
The girls start up again, but Aniyla shuts them up with one hand motion. “I am the adult. So it is as I say it is. Don’t. You two dare come out of this circle ‘till mornin’, or the same thing I said to your brother will apply to you too. I don’t care if I don’t come back in tonight! You will stay in. Do you hear me!” The ladies’ nod is their answer. Aniyla sighs, “I love you girls.”
“We love you too Nai-Nai,” Aanu says.
“I love you,” Saki said, “please be careful.”
“I’ll do my best.”
The ladies are silent as they listen to granny’s quiet footfalls, praying she decides to turn back. Not another member of the family need to be somewhere in the woods. The girls knew granny wouldn’t dare to turn back. She was nowhere near being a coward, especially when it came to her babies. Hell would freeze over before she stands by and do nothing.
The girls yearned to be the same way. But on another note, they didn’t want to disobey Gran-Nai’s word. The three youngsters knew she was serious, when she said they couldn’t come back. It was going to take years of their mother talking Aniyla down. Saki and Aanu sat on opposite ends, rocking as seven minutes flew by, then another, then another, finally one of them squealed.
“We gotta see whatsup.” Aanu murmured as though talking to herself.
“Let’s do it then,” Saki responded to it, “we can’t leave ‘em out there like that. Ain’t no tellin’. You think we should go get Tim or somebody?”
“Hell yeah, but Tim live too far up. We’ll just be wasting more time. We gotta do this on our own. Go grab them big jumbo flashlights from the hallway closet. There should be at least two in there. I’ll go get the gun Nana keep in the basement.”
Saki turned to face Aanujah. “You know how to shoot a gun?”
“Since I was six years old. Pa-Pa got me started. Every break we was here, he would teach me and Aaron.”
“Yeah, come on let’s do this.” The ladies break, rushing to retrieve their items.
S’hkmanyu held the flashlights and made it back to the living room first. She waited patiently, doing her best to not let her fears get a hold of her. But she couldn’t help it. Aanu was taking too long to get back from the basement. The guns were always set out in the open, on display, the bullets just on the shelf next to the guns.
She paced, biting her nails wanting to wail out her best friend’s name. Instead she chose to go in the kitchen, and shout Aanu’s name from the top of the stairwell. Just as she entered the kitchen she could hear Aanu’s feet climbing the steps.
“My bad,” Aanu apologized, “Nana put the gun display in the back room.” Saki just nodded, too shaken to speak. “You good Sak?”
Saki shook her head no. “You got the bullets in?”
“Locked and loaded baby.”
The young ladies towed out the door, arms locked together, trembling. The air was frigid, but the tremble was the fear. S’hkmanyu held both big flashlights with only one light blaring, while Aanujah held the gun up and steady. Only every few could a night sound be heard, as if the creatures were sending quiet warning to the girls, urging them to go back. Go back before it’s too late.
The wolf was really in. But neither girl cared, knowing it was their love ones possibly at his mercy. Chips of wood from the finely carved firewood was leading a trail. The wolf leading them to Gran-Nai and Aaron, dead or alive. Aanu and Saki took steps deeper into the forest.
A place where they haven’t been since kids, the time when no place was closed for discovery. They’ve come long ways from that fearlessness resident in most children. They’ve grown into paranoid and suspicious young adults. But, nevertheless the girls couldn’t let fear stop them this time. They knew they were Aniyla’s and Aaron’s only hope.
After walking through endless densely packed trees the girls made it to a clearing. Logs of wood scattered around the opening, the robe of Nana discarded to the dirt ground in a brawl. No sight of Aaron’s clothes, only ruby liquid drops that trailed to his unmoving body. The ladies covered their mouth trying to stifle a long-awaited scream.
“My Nai-Nai,” Aanu whispers, running to her still body sprawled out behind a small pack of trees. Saki stood next to Aanu, who was kneeling by Aniyla, standing guard with the flashlight. A low growl sounded in the clearing forcing Aanu to alert. The girls locked at least one hand, back to back, leaving nothing to chance.
“Aanujah,” a lick of a whisper tingled her inner ear.
“Fight in the open like a soldier!” Aanu shouted to the creeping darkness.
“And I shall,” the tongue of speech licked at her ear again.
A blue mist lit in front of S’hkmanyu, a jackal face behind it looked into her eyes. Before her lips could utter a response, she fell out, releasing her grip on Aanujah’s hand.
“Saki!” Aanu got to her before she touched the ground, she placed her down easy, then stood guard in front of her. No desecration will be done to her or any of her loved ones. “What you do to her you demon?!”
A strange electric-blue glow emitted from the odd entity, the brilliant glow calming to a normal blue. Better on the eyes. He easily towered over Aanu’s short, thick, athletic frame. His body built, the body of an athlete with his wide muscular shoulders, six solid bricks of abs, long defined legs. He wore gold over his shoulders, his chest bare, short black kilt, traditional Kemetic garb, garb of royalty.
Skin as black as deep space and a glow that blended with the blue in his aura. His head, the head of a jackal, colored black but a plum black. Aanujah’s lips parted as she gawked at this creature, who for a moment she was anything but afraid of. Instead she was intrigued and curious, aching to get a closer look. Wondering how she could see him even though he was as dark as the night itself.
His dog head smiled briefly, then answered Aanu’s ill-mannered question. “She’s fine, just dozed.” He offered a slight smirk to her, then let it fall away.
Aanujah took a deep breath. “You’re the infamous wolf.”
He bowed to her. “Anubis formally, but yes. I am the so-called wolf of Nkosia.”
Aanujah stole a moment to see what was in front of her. He met her eyes to return the stare and did nothing to break the silence. On the inside Anubis, the wolf, was grinning like a twelve-year-old child for her attention.
Aanu cocked her head to the side and broke the silence. “As grand as you are, don’t you think haunting Nkosia is a little low for you? Don’t you think you should be huntin’ bigger game than this little backwater town?”
His deep chuckle warmed Aanujah’s own gut, forcing her feet to inch closer, but only a little. “I’m not here for game—I’m here on business.”
Aanujah’s face radiated disgust. “Business? What business could a demon have in a human realm?”
Anubis cocked his head to the side this time. “You.”
Her body tensed, propping one fist up with the other hand holding the gun at his face.
He laughed again, moving closer than was advisable, circling Aanujah. “I don’t wanna hurt you.” He replies smoothly, continuing to circle her, she never giving him her back.
Her fists were still up, she gave him the finger. He laughs once more, she wonders why he haven’t tried to put her out yet.
He stopped toying with her and stood still in front of her. “Since I lured you here I guess in fairness I should tell you why. But only if you relax.”
“Fuck you! There ain’t shit you can tell me demon! Make the dead walk again and maybe then we can talk.”
He shakes his head. “I forgot after all these years, you had such a temper. Only to things you care dearly for. There was a time when I forgot how much your temper meant to me. But now,” he says deep and husky, “I must say, I crave for you to verbally war with me again. Wound me Aanu, so you can heal me.” His eyes raked her curvaceous body, then drinks in the lovely features of her face.
Aanujah frowned. “I’ll tell you how this gon’ go. You have about twenty mothafuckin’ seconds to tell me somethin’ I like or I pull this trigger. Finally! Bye-Bye and good riddance to the wolf!”
“Aanu,” he said quietly, “your family is alive. I wouldn’t dare do that to you. Check ‘em if you please, but neither of the three are dead. Quite the contrary. I knocked them out with a special gas, gets ‘em real high.”
Aanu looked away, unsure of his words being the truth. But she had to believe it. She couldn’t believe they were dead, so high and feeling fine was good enough for her. Besides all this couldn’t possibly be real, after the mall and Gran-Nai going off she went to bed. This was a dream, so why not explore the possibilities of the night?
Play this demon at its own game.
She answers, “Talk,” with the gun still held high and ready.
“I am cursed Aanujah. Trapped in the body of an oversized jackal by day, allowed in my human form only by night. My only salvation is you.”
Her face held contempt. “Why would I help you? A killer,” she spat, “a demon.”
Anubis gave her look of amusement. “We’re alike in more ways than you like to acknowledge Aanu. I was freed from my wolf form, able to choose any form in any time of day when you were born. Born into Lucas county. Raised in the neighborhood of Nyjer.”
“You talkin’ Red Ridah Hood?”
“Precisely. As you grew the curse of my wolf form eased up. Allowing me to choose any form.”
“Well, what do you need me for? Plenty people are born every day in Lucas county and Nyjer; the Red Rider Hood.”
He said on an exhale, “None that I have a connection with.”
Aanu’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t even know you, spawn of the devil.”
He gives a light chuckle and begins to slowly pace. “It’s a connection much deeper than you think. Your family is connected to me as well. But even so, only you hold the key to my cage.”
“You just said you were no longer trapped.”
“I’m not. Not form. But I am trapped in Nkosia. Why you think I never left? As charming as the place is I much rather be at home.”
That word garnered her interest. “Home?”
He just looked at her, his puppy eyes turning sad briefly, then he spoke, “You already know the answer.”
Aanu sighed, stepping back from him. “I ‘on’t have a key, Anubis.”
A soft sound exits from his throat, loving to hear his name out her mouth. Rather than her insulting him. “Oh, you do,” he softly whispered, “soon you’ll be aware of it.”
He strolled near her, she steps back until her backside meets a tree. The two, chest to chest, his blue energy flowing to her, caressing her aura. “There’s much more I’d love to tell. But you must find out for yourself, dear Aanujah Anput Azaigh. Till then.” Anubis disappeared, leaving her with the sensation of his aura fondling hers.
She groaned as she rose, finding herself curled up on the couch in the same clothes she wore yesterday. Aanu winced as she sat up straight, her back raw with pain. She hated sleeping on a couch she couldn’t stretch out on. Really, she just hated sleeping on the couch. Here she is wondering how she got there in the first place and why she still had the same clothes on.
Last she checked she fell out on her own bed upstairs. Her eyes opened, quickly she drew her arm to her face to shut out the bright sun that filled the room. It was early. As her eyes adjusted to the light she lowered her arm and saw her grandmother standing over her. Shock made her body jump, not expecting anyone especially her granny to be standing over her.
She could see Saki standing over her, messing with her, or her big brother. But as she looked around the room, her brother was nowhere to be found, her best friend was knocked out on the mega mattress. Aanu also wondered why in hell was the mega in the living room and why was Saki sleeping on it? Even her best friend had her own bed upstairs. What, did the family have a sleepover?
Aanu looked up, trailing away from her thoughts because Aniyla did not break eye contact with her. She was still staring, not saying a word. Which quite frankly was creeping Aanujah out. Did everybody suddenly lose they mind? Aanu dismissed the question and stood her sore body up.
“Hey gran,” Aanu softly greeted. “Where Aaron? He got ghost wit’ Tim, huh?” Aanu smiled, shaking her head. “They always like to leave us. Knowin’ good an’ well we like crazy action.”
Aniyla didn’t reply, just continued to stare. She gently wrapped her fingers around Aanu’s arm, leading her to the hall. Away from a sleeping S’hkmanyu.
“Aaron’s upstairs takin’ a shower, honey.” Aniyla pointed up, not taking an eye from Aanu. She needed to know what was going through her granddaughter’s head.
“Baby,” Aniyla tenderly says, grabbing Aanu’s hand, “what happened last night? I need to know now, before those two get anymore involved. I—I mean it could be nothing, but if it’s something…” She shook her head, letting Aanujah’s hand fall from hers. “If it’s somethin’, no one else can know until I can make things safe.”
Aanu smiled, her voice amused, “What? You don’t remember or somethin’?”
“I remember what happened to me just fine. What happened to you? Saki roused after one shake, Tim had to carry you all the way home.”
Aanu turned her head to the side, clearly confused. “What? What are you talkin’ about granny? I went to…” She looked away. “Why did Tim carry me out my bed to the couch?” Aanujah inquired, looking back at Aniyla.
Aniyla is dumbfounded, completely unable to speak. For only a moment Gran-Nai was silent, then she touched Aanu’s arm. “Did you by any chance have a strange dream last night?”
“Oh, granny you on’t even know the half,” was her answer.
“Tell me what you remember of this dream,” Aniyla requested, crossing her arms over her chest.
Aanujah sighs. “It was crazy Nana. You and Aaron was knocked out cold. Then Saki got knocked out, then this COCK DIESEL MOFO appeared. Weird too. He—he didn’t have a regular face, or—or head. It was a dog, a jackal.”
Aniyla gasped so sharply it cut into Aanu. She looked away from her granddaughter, speechless once again.
Aanu snickers, “Nai-Nai, it was just a dream. Off the hook crazy, but a dream. It mean somethin’,” Aanu asked, losing all mirth, “somethin’ bad?”
Aniyla gives her back to Aanujah, lifting up her pale pink cotton shirt, revealing a bandaged wound. “Pull it up, see for yourself.”
Aanu does exactly that and sees three fresh deep gashes made by claws in Nana’s lower back. She stumbles back, holding on to the wall for support.
Aniyla covers her wound and turn back to her grandchild. “I should be able to heal it soon. You know I recover fast. This…came from Anubis. The jackal faced man you met last night.”
It took Aniyla under thirty minutes to whip up a solid breakfast for the house. She had more words for the young adults in her care. She leaned on the counter, overseeing the young ones set the table, from the silverware down to the food. The old woman was too weary from her battle with Anubis to do more than make the food. The kids’ duties were to set the table, fill the plates, eat it, then clean it.
All she wanted to do was boss her grandchildren around, she always had strength for that.
“All done Nana,” Saki announced as though Aniyla was in a different room.
“We do alright?” Aaron’s deep voice questioned.
Aniyla simply nodded as she trudged to the table to plop herself down. She waved the kids to have a seat and say grace before they dug in. Saki did the grace, adding her own touch of sarcasm and cynic in it, forcing Gran-Nai to pinch her thick thigh from under the table.
“Ow Nai-Nai,” Saki shouted.
Gran-Nai opened her eyes to see Saki’s eyes. “Finish the grace little girl and without Saki’s special features. Thank you.”
Aaron and Aanu held back a laugh, while Saki finished grace.
Aniyla took a deep breath, then sighed. “Okay, my turn now. I want y’all to know I wasn’t feelin’ that behavior last night.” She gave a glare separately to each of them, then gave her stern gaze to the oldest at the table. “Particularly you Aaron. Your behavior put ALL our lives in danger last night. And it was all ‘cause you thought me to be an old bird with crazy quirks.” Aaron’s head fell at the words of his grandmother and instantly she responded to it. “NO. No shame at my table Aaron, shame and guilt won’t change what you already did. Don’t feel shame, feel the lesson, study it, then apply next time.”
Aniyla maintained eye contact with Aaron for only a few seconds, then completed her train of thought. “I been tellin’ y’all and tellin’ y’all about this beast. You just got your proof. It was not somethin’ to be played wit’.”
She went silent, because she felt anger boiling in her chest, ready to open fire on her grandchildren. “But still, you girls aren’t off the hook either. I told y’all to not leave that circle. But I’ll let it go only if you take this threat serious.” She looked at them each again, but without anger. “Will y’all do that? I’m not askin’ you to cower from him, no, never. I respect courage, I want each of you to keep it. But be warned, he is old, shrewd, cruel, and can wield control over the elements, dead bodies, live bodies, you name it. But he isn’t god. So, where there is a will, there is a way. Will you take this foreal?”
“Yeah Nai-Nai. I will,” Aaron replies first. Saki nods, Aanujah simply answers yes.
“Good, good. Last night I was thinking of gettin’ y’all on the next thing smokin’, but thought better of it by mornin’. Out of many years this family been coming here I never got a chance to show y’all some truth. But uh, you go learn today!”
She settled down, making it a point to get her grand-kids anxious. She took a deep breathe, exhaling with a gentle smile. A smile holding her laughs in, seeing the anticipation grow on the kids’ faces.
She says quietly, “There’s a reason I’m so accustomed to the drop in temperature. There’s reason why I have no southern accent—never had one. There’s also reason why I have my own traditions, superstitions not native to the south, and just ways that seem foreign to these southern dwellers. Well, I’m not from Nkosia, Alabama.”
“Where you from Nai-Nai?” Aanujah asked, mindlessly fiddling in her wild bushy hair.
“Lucas County,” she simply states.
Saki said, “Don’t tell me you from Nyjer; the Riders’ hood.”
“I am indeed Saki S’hkmanyu,” Aniyla replied, turning her head to Saki.
After the new turn of events Aniyla had to come clean to the youngsters. Yes. It was her time to inform the kids of a time when Anubis, the wolf, was much more vicious. A creature that should never find its way into a child’s tale. The year was 1949, Aniyla’s family had just got settled into a new home.
A fancy home in Lucas County and the famous Red Riders’ neighborhood. The homes built together making a circle with only one opening to get in and out. It was an affluent African American neighborhood, but to Aniyla it was just a band of bougie niggas. She, of course, didn’t see this as a nine-year-old girl, but as time pass that was her exact sentiment. The non-black citizens of the suburbs proclaimed the fall of the Red Riders’ neighborhood, turning into a hood or ghetto, was because the residents desecrated their own home. They allowed it to become what it became. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Aniyla recalled her first night in their new house. The streetlights were on, taking up spots on the sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. The night was quiet, peaceful. Aniyla along with her five siblings had just been fed a glorious meal made by their mama. But before tucking the children in bed, their daddy insisted to tell a bed story.
A story about the spirit wolf, half man, half dog that hunted their very county. And sometimes he descended in their own neighborhood. The worse part of the story was possession, he could take possession of any soul, able to make you commit atrocities if not strong enough to resist. He wants a soul he could take it, adding a new play-thing to his vault. The rest of your existence you would be at his mercy.
Aniyla never forgot her mother’s eyes, that fright on the surface and the sea of regret she drowned in. That night is when Aniyla knew there was more to that tale than simply scaring little ones. Aniyla’s suspicions were confirmed when her mama tucked her into bed, kissing her cheek ever so softly, while whispering an apology in her ear. The woman of the house fervently prayed them to sleep, begging god and all his angels to watch over her children. Aniyla wondered why dad even told them that story in the first place and why mama let him.
It was a requirement in the Red Riders’ neighborhood. Secretly, there was a part of Aniyla that never forgave her papa for telling them the words about the wolf. There was a quality about his face, he enjoyed the fear produced in his kids. But that wasn’t where she couldn’t forgive. From that point at nine years old, Aniyla always felt she had a connection with Anubis.
A connection that somehow her father brought about. Years went on and through it Aniyla as well as her large family got very accustomed to life in Red Riders’ neighborhood. The family knew exactly why no one ever moved out, once in. Once in there was no leaving. Marriage was the only exception, it disrupted the hold of Anubis.
Red Riders’ neighborhood had a death grip on its residents. Aniyla finally understood why her papa’s mama never dared to move there. No matter how nice the houses, the clean reputation of the gated community, or how well connected the neighbors were, it wasn’t worth it. Aniyla never missed a beat when visited late night by malevolent spirits, full bodied entities that walked the streets at night, daring someone, anyone to come out the door. Aniyla’s family became use to the wear and tear of homes and buildings by violent possessed animals.
The nonstop possessions, even the murders with a question mark hanging over it. The man-wolf was a vicious beast in the north, much different from the being in present day Nkosia. Aniyla always believed it was the weather that mellowed him out, since his origins were in a much warmer climate. The truth was Aanujah’s birth calmed his killing frenzy. Anubis had a new job to train for and a murderous mentality would help him to lose much faster than win.
Even at the age of thirteen Aniyla wasn’t afraid of the in-house visits, it became a part of everyday life. Luckily for Aniyla’s household they weren’t terrorized as much as other residents. Aniyla as a teenager she didn’t care about the terror her neighbors received, she never cared for them anyway. Bone deep, she felt many of them deserved it. Sitting on their pedestal, turning their nose up at their own people, believing their superiority.
“Niyla,” her mother called from the kitchen, “could you get the door for me honey?”
Aniyla didn’t respond, just stood from the couch, still in her pajamas, this late in the afternoon. The thirteen year old girl at the door was a perfect shade of walnut brown, never wore a skirt or dress, except when forced. Her trousers were held up by safety pins, being that she jacked it from her older brother’s closet. She was a little thing with the softest face, who always felt uncomfortable in dresses or skirts. But no matter how crazy her clothes look her hair always was well tended for.
Her hair was blown straight or braided in the most beautiful plaits. She was Kanaja (Kuh-nay-juh), Aniyla’s one and only best friend.
“Hey girl,” Aniyla greets, moving back to the comfort of her couch.
“I know you ain’t still in your pjs,” Kanaja voices the obvious, glowering at her good friend.
“What you want Nay?” Aniyla looked up at her friend, then pushes back the curtains to the window behind the couch. The sight that met her eyes was two girls and two boys, her age, smiling a smile that made her want to throw her shoes at them to knock it off their face.
“Come outside,” Kanaja said, taking a seat on the coffee table, even knowing Aniyla’s mama would have a fit if she saw her.
Aniyla glanced back at Nay. “What we go do?”
Kanaja shrugs her shoulders, her eyebrows raise and her lips poke out. “Uhhhh, the forest. TJ’s idea.”
Aniyla froze at the thought of the forest. The one place she never dares to wander in. She was petrified of the forest and didn’t know why. That was a mystery she had no plans of ever figuring out.
A slight shake takes over Aniyla’s head. “I don’t wanna go in the forest, ‘specially not with those wenches. Bourgie ass stuck up whores. All of ‘em includin’ the boys.”
“Don’t leave me with ‘em Niyla. You know I don’t like ‘em either.”
Aniyla’s face is incredulous. “Why you hanging wit’ ‘em then?”
Kanaja shoulders shrug, eyebrows raise and lips poke back out. “‘Cause you know don’t nobody else wanna hang with me out here.”
“I do.” Aniyla stabs herself with her own finger.
“I know,” Kanaja retorts, then stands, “so come.”
“I’m not hangin’ wit’ them. Let’s just stay around the house or walk around. We can go over my Nana’s house. She made some sweet potato pie,” Aniyla sung out.
“Ooh,” Kanaja smiled, “that sound good.”
Aniyla nods, saying, “Yeah.”
Kanaja dropped her smile. “No. I really wanna go in the forest. I wanna see what’s in there once and for all.”
Aniyla looks out the window again, the group still wearing a taunting smile. She could throw up. She shakes her head again, eying them. “I don’t trust them. You shouldn’t trust ‘em. But,” Aniyla sighs, “I can’t tell you what to do. I’m not hanging wit’ ‘em.”
Kanaja smacks and pouts her thick lips. “Fine Niyla. See you tomorrow then.”
“Uh-uh,” Aniyla spoke, turning back to Kanaja.
“What?” Kanaja lit up. “You wanna go now?”
Aniyla lightly chuckles, then hops from the couch. “No. After y’all come back from the forest come here. Just so I know you okay.”
Kanaja sighs. “Okay.”
Aniyla grabs Kanaja by her shoulders. “I’m serious Nay Nay. Promise me.”
“I promise Niy.”
Aniyla walked Nay to the door and watched her depart with those four busters. Not a single one she trusted. She never trusted them. They were from scandalous families and knew only that. That was why she never hung around anyone but Kanaja.
The other kids were afraid of her, well afraid of her entire family. It was the norm for everyone to be terrorized by the wolf and his minions. But they weren’t. So, their neighbors believed them to be in cahoots with the devil. The kids believed and stayed away, except Kanaja and her family.
But TJ, Kevin, Ashley, and Jasmine were from a different stock. Any that sided with Aniyla’s family were in with the devil as well and treated as such. Aniyla sat on the porch till sundown waiting for Kanaja to return home. She rocked when she got nervous. Several times one of her sisters offered to keep her company, but she refused every offer.
Just in case Nay didn’t make it back she would have to sneak off to find her. And then to kill TJ, Kevin, Ashley, and Jasmine. Aniyla dozed only to be awakened by Kanaja. Nay was smiling as her hand gently shook Aniyla awake. It was seven at night, dinnertime.
“Hey Niy,” Kanaja said, her grin still perfectly in place.
“You okay?” Aniyla asked, sitting up. “Where them hookers?”
Kanaja laughed. “They went home. It was all good. You should of came. I think they changed. They was so cool. I think you woulda had a good time.”
Aniyla rolled her eyes. “I doubt it. I’m just happy you okay. You wanna have dinner at my house. Or you eat wit’ they family now?”
Kanaja smacks her lips, still with a smile on her face. “We ain’t that cool yet. Only time will tell. Naw, I’ma go head home. I’m pretty sleepy.”
“I’ll walk you back,” Aniyla responds, standing up, and climbed down the porch steps.
“No, I’m good.”
“It’s really not up for discussion. You may trust them, but I don’t.”
Aniyla saw less and less of her friend as Kanaja found new friends in the four busters Aniyla refused to hang around. She wasn’t mad at Nay for it, she knew it wouldn’t last and she knew Nay wasn’t dropping her as a friend. Niyla looked at it as her friend just enjoying what it feels like to be popular and well liked. Aniyla wouldn’t dream to stop her from feeling it.
But still at the end of the day she didn’t trust them. Kanaja spent a many afternoon after school sauntering around the forest or the city with the four hoodlums. It almost seems they were being true friends. It was good intuition on Niyla’s part that she never left the porch those nights, waiting for Kanaja. All was good till TJ, Kevin, Ashley, and Jasmine strolled back from the forest right around dinnertime without Kanaja.
Aniyla tried to ask them first, before completely jumping to conclusions. She yelled out to Jasmine, the ringleader of the group. The only biracial person in the neighborhood, with sluts for parents. Her white mother who couldn’t get enough of the men in the neighborhood and the same went for her black father who was always chasing tail. In the eyes of TJ and Kevin she was superior to all the other girls around the way, even Ashley who was supposedly their friend.
Ashley who was a tired Negro, even at thirteen, she practically worshiped whatever Jasmine touched, spat on, shitted on. The lot of them made Niyla’s stomach turn flips and she hate that her friend ever chose to be around them.
“Jasmine!” The pale-yellow girl turned to Aniyla in surprise. “Where’s Kanaja?”
Jasmine smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “Haven’t seen her all day. Maybe the wolves in town got her. She was always shaking her tail feather at them.” She snickered and her cronies followed suit.
“Aye Jasmine,” Aniyla called out, “if that’s true I’ll make sure one of ‘em come get you too. You know the party can’t start unless one a the Martins are around, right? Ask ya mama if she wanna join too.”
Jasmine’s face balled into a frown. “Fuck you!”
“Why me?” Aniyla pointed at herself. “Oh yeah, your family done fucked the whole town. Y’all ran out a people.”
Jasmine started to come toward the house, but her friends saved her from getting her ass kicked.
“Just know this, all four a you. If my friend don’t come walkin’ from that forest soon you go regret that you made it out in the first place.”
Niyla went into the house to lay out clothes on her bed, knowing she may have to face her fears today. She tiptoes around the house, not wanting to catch the attention of her family, knowing they would stop her. She couldn’t allow her friend to go out the way she knew the busters left her, fucked up. She slips on her jacket, knowing the night would be chilly and heads out the door, flashlight in hand. She weaved through houses, wet grass crunching under her feet, she continued forth until reaching the edge of the community.
The trembling girl ceased her feet when she stood in front of the natural bridge that connected the neighborhood to the forest. There were no more streetlights and no one to hear if she screamed. Her best friend was inside those shadows of lanky trees, wounded since early morning, screaming to all of nature, but silent to everyone. Aniyla would have to brave it. She slowly slid out the butcher knife she swiped from the kitchen from her jacket pocket, then took steps to cross the bridge.
Aniyla followed her intuition, knowing the bastard teens would hurt Kanaja far away from the bridge. Her breathing was labored, her body taken over by a non-stop tremble. Every cell in her body cried for her to turn back now, while she still had the choice. But she didn’t, even as she heard growls surrounding her, seeming to chant her name in a language she didn’t understand. Voices surrounding her whispered curses, lifted dead hands from the ground.
Aniyla understood now why she feared the forest so. It was Anubis’s playground, a spot for him and his kind. Since the first time learning of him, she never wanted to near him or the subject of him again. What she didn’t know; he was watching her. He was watching her every move, smiling in the dark.
Feeling the courage wafting off her like a sweet potent perfume. He had no plans to attack her or allow any of his own to attack her. He need her alive in the long run. Aniyla swallowed her fear even as she felt eyes on her back. She smelled something odd in the air, she followed it. Touching trees, feeling springs of energy, pushing her closer to Nay.
She heard whimpering, a body shifting against a rough surface, and that smell. Aniyla sniffed harder. Gas. It was gasoline! Niyla ran to her friend in the dark and saw she was naked, covered in gas.
“Oh my god,” Aniyla whispered. “Oh my god!”
Kanaja was tied to a tree from her wrists and her ankles, there was no bleeding from her genital. But there was blood on her face. A small cut going down her tear stained cheek. Her head was down, a weak attempt of protecting the only thing she could, her face.
“Please,” Kanaja whispered, “please don’t hurt me. Please.”
“Nay Nay,” Aniyla said, coming near her. “It’s me, Niyla.”
Kanaja lifted her head, showing her bloodshot red eyes. “Oh my god Aniyla. I should of listened, oh I should have listened,” she sobbed. “They left me here to die! Niyla, they brought me out here saying we would meet the wolf. God!” Kanaja was hysterical.
“Shh shh honey. You don’t have to tell me. I knew they were shady. I’ll get you home.” Aniyla cut the rope from her wrists and ankles, then took off her jacket and wrapped it around Nay’s quivering body.
She led Kanaja to her own home, cleaned her up and let her sleep on her bed. Aniyla went to call Kanaja’s parents to let her know that she was okay, but they never thought she wasn’t okay. Jasmine beat Aniyla to the punch by checking in with them herself, informing her parents that Kanaja would be staying the night with her and Ashley. Aniyla simply hung up the phone, leaving Kanaja’s parents with the impression that Aniyla spent the night over Jasmine’s house as well. Aniyla went back to her room to get comfortable on the floor and found that Kanaja was still awake.
Nay couldn’t fall asleep, she stayed up the whole night telling Aniyla the story. About how Jasmine convinced her to stay in the forest a little longer than usual, how TJ and Kevin tied her up, how Ashley poured a bucket of gasoline on her and Jasmine poured the other. Jasmine cut the side of her face and left small cuts all over her body, supposedly to lure the demons. Aniyla had been waiting for a reason to take any one of their heads off.
She was going after the ringleader first, make an example out of her. Aniyla had all night and the morning to go over what she’d do, but it was all quite simple. That Saturday afternoon she made up her mind and was dragging Kanaja with her to the park. Most families in the neighborhood spent their Saturdays at the park, but Niyla’s family didn’t. Aniyla walked so fast toward the park she might as well start jogging, pulling a scared Nay behind her.
Aniyla was too in the zone to hear Kanaja’s pleas to think about this plan more. She spotted the four sipping lemonade and laughing under the shade, chilling, without a care in the world. Jasmine saw Niyla as soon as she entered the park, raised her plastic cup to her with mischief glinting in her eyes. Her smile dropped when in slow motion she caught a glimpse of the butcher knife that was in Aniyla’s pocket. Niyla had decided against wearing a dress or skirt, so she borrowed a pair of pants from one of her older brothers.
All so she could carry and conceal that knife. Nobody else saw the glare off the silver knife except Jasmine. Once Niyla was close enough she grabbed Jasmine by the neck, backing her onto the tree they were sitting under. Her friends jumped up, getting ready to get in between the two.
“Get her TJ, Kevin!” Jasmine yells, “This crazy bitch—”
Aniyla backhanded her before she could finish her statement, then took her neck again. The teen girl pulled out her knife, placing the cold metal to Jasmine’s neck. “Make a move—she dies.” The noise from the teens by the tree started to catch the attention of other families. Jasmine’s family were first on the scene, begging Aniyla to put the knife down.
“I told you,” Aniyla whispered.
“Sh—sh—she came out, see,” Jasmine stuttered.
“No!” Aniyla yelled, pressing the knife a little harder on her neck. “She didn’t. I came and got her!”
“What’s going on?” Some woman in the crowd asked.
“Tell ‘em bitch or I will kill you. Right here and today. You left my friend in there to die. All four a ya!”
“I’m sorry!” Jasmine cried.
Aniyla squeezed her neck. “Don’t say it to me. Say it to her. My beautifully naïve friend. Believin’ y’all heart was as pure as hers. So, she trusted you! And then you betrayed her and tied her naked in the forest with gasoline on her body! Say it ain’t the truth!”
“It is,” Jasmine whispered, looking at the crowd, “it is.”
“I wanna hear it from all of you. Tell these people what you did!” The other three cosigned, revealing that all she said was the truth. Aniyla had never been this mad in her life and never been so ready to take another life. She heard voices behind her pleading for her to let Jasmine go. Only one voice was relevant.
“Please,” Kanaja said, placing her hand on Aniyla’s shoulder. “That’s enough. Don’t kill her. She ain’t worth it Niyla. Don’t let them take my only friend from me.”
Aniyla took a step back, still with her knife up, but away from her throat. “I won’t kill you today.” She heard a collective sigh of relief from the crowd. “Instead I’ll do something else for you.”
Aniyla’s smooth hands latched onto Jasmine’s chin and she watched as Jasmine’s big eyes bulged. Aniyla’s face twisted in satisfaction as she cut a deep gash on the right side of her face. She took her time slicing into the left side, disfiguring her pretty face. The crowd could do nothing but cringe as her sound of agony pierced their ears. Aniyla released her from her grip causing Jasmine to lose her balance, she knocked her head against the tree.
Jasmine held onto the sides of her face and got back up on her feet. Aniyla pulled back her fist and let it go, pounding Jasmine in the nose, forcing her head to go back harder onto the tree, knocking her unconscious. There was no doubt that what Niyla did was gonna be addressed. Jasmine’s parents wanted Aniyla to go away for the rest of her natural life for attempted murder, but being a minor worked in her favor. Her parents’ connections helped even more so.
It was a god send that her family was liked outside of their community. With Aniyla’s family already being hated in the Red Riders’ neighborhood only forced the heat to turn up. The haunting visits seemed friendly compared to the way the community treated her family now. The side-eyes morphed into sneers, whispers replaced with full on insults, spitting in their face, trashed front yards. A new kind of terror replaced the old one.
Niyla’s family were no longer dealing with the devil, they were the devil. Three years later Aniyla returned home from the juvenile detention center, at sixteen years of age. She was welcomed by her family and her only friend.
“Niyla!” Kanaja screamed, sprinting to her friend’s porch to bear hug her. Aniyla laughed as Nay squeezed the life out of her. “Come sit down and tell me how you been.”
Aniyla’s smile dropped as she eased onto the swinging chair next to Kanaja. “Besides being back here, I’m okay.” Kanaja just nodded and kept a hundred-watt grin on. “Where you been Nay? Cause uh, I only been back for about two weeks.”
Nay’s smile fell granting Niyla the face she was wishing for. “We was out a town when you got back. I swear. Mama missed her hometown and the peaches she use to eat as kid, so we took a trip to see grandma.”
“Really? The wolf lettin’ people take vacations now.”
Nay shrugged, still heartbroken of the accusation. “Things are changing. Ever since what happened.” Kanaja haven’t been able to talk about what happened to her again, too traumatic.
“Oh,” Aniyla said, “just making sure you didn’t quit on me. I’m sorry. I hated bein’ there, but I hate it here too. I wanna leave.”
“In two years time, we can.”
Niyla just nods her head, two years was too far away for her. She couldn’t see two minutes into the future here in Nyjer, let alone two years. Later that night she found herself staring mindlessly out the window, tuning her younger sister out. Her sister was snoring, sleeping soundly while Niyla couldn’t sleep at all. She was tired.
Tired of being fearful of this great big demon she didn’t even know name. She just knew all in Nyjer, Red Riders, was in fear of him. I guess rightfully so, he could kill people. But still why did people have to be such cowards? At least directly challenge him, see what he’s really about before making a cowardice assumption.
Aniyla exhaled hard from her nose, then stood from her bed. She’s crept out the house many times if only to sit on the porch, she’s done it. With no interference from parents or siblings, like they went into a trance where only sunlight could break it. She seemed to be the only one woke in the middle of the night, so she decided to use it. She went to her brother’s room to grab his bulky coat and pants, then runs back to her room to slip on her shoes.
Aniyla dips down the steps to the kitchen, grabbing her favorite knife, then grabbed a flashlight. Off she was into the night. Her bravery was amazing that night and she knew it. Her walk screamed it, she hadn’t even turned on the flashlight, just kept it handy. She walked as deep as possible into the forest, until she reached its very end.
At the end, it was nothing but frozen water and empty plains on the other side of the water. She stuffed the light into her pocket, then turned around, checking to see if anything came.
Aniyla took a deep breath, then slipped off her coat, feeling the chilled air kiss her skin. It was the dead of winter, the absolute wrong time to challenge the wolf.
But… “I don’t care.” She stepped up, away from her coat. “I’m sick of your choke hold on all us. I don’t care if you kill me tonight! I just can’t stand another night here without voicin’ my complaint to the ruler of this entire county, but ‘specially our little community.”
Aniyla shook her head, maybe he wasn’t real. Maybe this neighborhood is just haunted. There’s no supreme ruler over them, telling them what to do and how to do it. But just as the thought passed, the air changed. A blow of warmth slapped her across the face, then the harsh cold air stung her face, forcing her hand to her cheek as though she’d been smacked.
“Come out come out, wherever you are.” Aniyla chimes, baiting the wolf.
Before she knew it, there was a presence standing in front of her. His body blending in with thick trees, his black nose and beady eyes all that was seen.
“You question my authority, dear Aniyla?” His voice bounced from the trees into her ear.
Aniyla shivered from shock and terror, but gulped it down in a hard swallow.
“Speechless?” He whispered.
“You’re real? You the devil?”
His laugh sprung forth, warmer than Aniyla expected. “You know,” he whispers, “you’ve always amused Aniyla. I just knew I would free you from my shackles. Anubis grants you permission, you may leave Red Rider, because you have courage.”
“I’ll leave with or without your permission. You don’t run me. You may run them!” She said a lot louder than she intended, pointing toward the town. “But you do not run me.” Aniyla spoke fiercely as she pointed to herself, all he could do was laugh. “I didn’t come out here for you to let me leave, I came out here for this.”
He smiled in the dark, showing off brilliant teeth. “What?”
“A bullet to the brain.” Before he could react she quickly slid a gun from her pocket, cocked, pulled the trigger, and let it blow. Dead aim right to the dome. She didn’t move, didn’t speak, simply waited for whatever next he would bring her. The wind howled in pain, furious snow funneled up and off the ground, and the trees shook in shock.
Aniyla sucked in air, feeling the wind begin to close in around her. A force thundered on her chest, pushing her to the ground. She felt falling, an abyss sucking her down, slipping into a deep pit. No thought registered in her brain, only fear resonated through her body. A shit load of fear.
“No sir. How’s the house comin’ along?” He walked away from the fridge with a cold water filled cup. He stayed put by the refrigerator, because the telephone could only stretch so far. He held the phone to his ear, laughing. His voice held a certain southern twang, “What you mean why I care? That’s go be my house soon. I already built most of it dad. Alright. Take care. Yes sir.”
The man paced through the hallway to head for his bedroom. Sleeping soundly in the middle of his bed was a young lady. He sat the cup on a nearby dresser and roused her from her slumber. “Miss,” he said, “miss.”
She opened her eyes and at the sight of some young man she didn’t know she jumped out the bed. Her feet were bare, her hair wild, her eyes frightened. “Miss,” his voice trying to calm her. “My name is Azaigh, Alahuti Azaigh. I found you out cold at the edge. Good thing I drove in late afternoon, was out cuttin’ me some wood. I heard ya scream, ran for ya and you was out. What was you thinkin’, bein’ out in them woods by ya self in the middle of the night?”
She shook her head of wild coils, unable to answer, then slowly eased her way back to the bed.
“You got a name lil lady?” His brown eyes twinkle, he took a seat at the end of the bed.
“Aniyla,” she softly murmurs.
And that was the start of something special. Aniyla quickly moved out her parents’ house to stay in Alahuti’s beautiful cabin home. Kanaja was a regular visitor, especially when Al was away. It was funny, Aniyla was pulling her hair with the thought of staying in Lucas County, but here she still was. I guess a new guy could do that to you.
Whenever Nay stopped through the girls ventured ‘round the forest or chilled in the home. Aniyla smiled at the thought that in its own way this was therapy for both of them. Al left a lot to his hometown in Savannah, Georgia and to Nkosia, Alabama. He would check on his fancy home in Nkosia, seeing how it was coming along. His father wouldn’t allow him full access without a wife.
Al’s dad didn’t want a loose bachelor running wild in this newly built house. He didn’t know Al already beat him to it. Whenever he was home Aniyla was spellbound over his majesty. She loved his tall six foot five frame, where she had to stand on her toes to kiss him, his rock solid body coated in caramel coated skin, his toned body that her hands couldn’t get enough of. But, it was his eyes that had her hooked, deep warm brown, but in moments of passion his eyes flash gold.
She was enamored by his graceful stride. But his eyes she could simply drown in. What she didn’t know about herself was her eyes also changed colors, from light brown to a dark forest green. Time moved about and both the young girls were eighteen, still living in Nyjer, both happily married. Al even helped build a cabin home next to their own with Nay’s husband, just so the girls could be near one another. Soon the girls were pregnant with their first child.
Nay gave birth to a boy and Niyla to a girl. Their life didn’t get complicated until the kids reached their eleventh year of life. The forest was their regular playground. Anubis had become bodiless after his encounter with Aniyla, but by no means did he die. He was still very much alive and made regular visits to Alanah, Aanujah’s mother.
Alanah was as brave as her mother and as adventurous as her father. Making daily visits alone into the belly of the forest. She was more curious about this being that could talk through animals, or sickly looking bodies she didn’t realize were dead. You see Alanah’s mom and dad never told her the story of the wolf. They never even thought to do, but even if they did, they didn’t want to.
But what Aniyla never knew was her family had a connection to Anubis way before she ever knew of his name. The connection grew stronger once she married Al. He was a child of the moon, a direct descendant of Anubis’s human line. And now Aniyla gave birth to another girl for the female line of the race Anubis belonged to. Niyla didn’t really know how much of a hand Anubis always had in her life.
The wolf was drawn to Alanah, so he would visit her in dreams. Some pleasant, but others terrifying. He would sprinkle nightmares in her mind whenever she refused to visit him, waking in the middle of the night in a state of fright. He wanted to keep Alanah in his personal lair. She felt like the one and if not the one then she would give birth to the one.
Alanah would have the girl who could free him and send him back home. He was so use to getting his way he played his hand prematurely. Forgetting exactly who he was dealing with. Anubis manipulated time and hurried along construction for Alahuti’s house in Nkosia. It was time to capture Alanah, so he saw to it that the Azaigh family moved south where his best lair was located. The family was on the move, leaving behind all of Nyjer.
The house was complete and Al’s father approved of his new daughter in law. The Azaigh family was welcomed into their new community and Aniyla couldn’t be happier. Anubis watched the family intently, patiently waiting for his moment to move. Once he knew the family was comfortable, he lured Alanah out into the forest on the night of a full moon, his plans were to keep her till she was of proper age. But once her parents got a whiff of it, the game became theirs to take.
Anubis nicknamed Aniyla the Annihilator and Alahuti the Quiet Storm. The two came after him for their child and for the first time in his existence he felt the very fear he’s known to produce. Aniyla and Alahuti had potential to be as powerful as Anubis and on the nights of searching for their daughter they tapped into that power. Anubis never went for Aniyla’s blood once she was widowed because he never forgot the ladies of the moon were always more dangerous than that of the man. Once Alanah was found she didn’t want to be in Nkosia anymore and neither did her parents want her there.
Aniyla and Al didn’t hesitate to send Alanah back up north to be raised by her maternal grandparents. Alanah without her parents took Anubis off her trail. He couldn’t sense Alanah or go near her without her parents. She was protected until she became an adult. So he waited. Once Niyla gave birth to her son she went up north to stay with her family for a few years. Once he was old enough she moved back south with Al, both frequently visiting their children, but never staying. Both were afraid the wolf would follow them back up and permanently snatch their children.
And because of Anubis’s too early movements on the board, he trapped himself to one location. When Alanah married a man of the sun, rather than the moon, it changed both his plans and fate. Not only was he trapped in Nkosia, but now Anubis he had to actually prove himself for Aanujah’s favor.
“Whew,” Saki says, looking to her friends first, then back to Gran-Nai. “You lived one heck of a life Nai-Nai.”
“A life none a us could ever guess,” Aanu said.
“Well hold it there,” Aniyla says, wiping the sweat from her brow. “I have a few more. The mysterious death of my baby Al. Your Pah-Pah.”
Aaron shrugged, looking straight ahead at his Nana. “What’s mysterious? Anubis killed him.”
Aniyla shook her head, drawing all eyes to her. “Not quite. He was in a weakened state ten, ‘leven, twelve years ago. He didn’t do outright murders. There’s reason why this entire city was shaken, became frozen when he resurfaced last night. What he did to us…”
Aniyla stood and walked to the window, gazing the glorious morning. Feeling the still town that was trying to process all that happened only a few hours ago. She turned to face the youngsters. “You two were born and he began to act up. Nkosia turned into my old neighborhood right before my eyes. Oh,” she sighed. “But he went further than ever before…”
Aniyla thought back to that morning. November eighth of nineteen ninety-eight. The sun happily sighed warm blazes of rays down on Nkosia. The wind murmured whispers of gentle words through windows, creatures chirped, hopped, and rose in early day. Aniyla slid her robe over her lightly clothed body, and slipped her slippers on to greet the day.
She gripped the knob of the front door, ready to welcome the outside world into her world. The sight changed so suddenly she thought it was all just an illusion from the start. She heard Al approaching her from behind, he lightly kissed her neck.
“We both knew he would come back,” he whispered.
“Yes,” she replied, “but not like this.”
The sight was unforgettable, flowers slumped, tree branches were gnarled, and leaves fell away like dead hair. Shadow hung over the bright sun, shutting it from the world. Scents of rotting corpses, vomit, and months old trash rose in the air, coating it. A sickly light gray energy matter swirled in the sky, a shit-storm that would soon descend on Nkosia, doing only god knows what.
Aniyla rejoined her grandchildren at the breakfast table. Their eyes were widened, their mouths closed. “He tore apart the entire city. Buildings burned, collapsed, diseases spread like wildfire. Hell even now we still tryin’ to bounce back from it. Midwave never knew or cared for that matter. Both me and Alahuti knew Anubis was gonna take over, like he did in Nyjer. So, we sought to do something about it. We couldn’t allow him to do what he was gonna do to a peaceful place like Kosia.”
“Did Pah-Pah die in the heat of battle?” Aaron questioned.
“No,” she said, “he went and got himself possessed. He never knew it of course. I never understood why he gave himself so easily. Why he leave me like that?” Aniyla looked away.
Aanujah touched her granny’s hand. “Grandpahpah didn’t have a choice. Did he?”
“He always had a choice. You could mentally fight Anubis, I’ve been doing it for years. That’s why he never came after me. Al didn’t give himself out of fear, there was something that happened between them. Something Anubis said or did that gave him pause. I just don’t know what it was.” Aniyla exhaled, squeezed Aanu’s hand and let it go.
“Anyway, I knew he only had about a day or so to live. I planned the best day. I sent him off to the mall out Midwave to his favorite shops. Get the food he loved, buy a good movie. Whatever he wanted to do while I prepared the house.” She fell quiet, took another deep breath. “Well to make a long story short he got shot in the mall. The possession had him actin’ crazy, climbing on the walls and things, baring his teeth. The cop put eight shots into him.”
“Oh my god,” all three said.
Aniyla nods her head. “Mm, I sued the shit out a Midwave, that’s how I kept this house all these years, without working. It took me a while to get to it, ‘cause I knew he was gonna die anyway. But he should of died with me, his love, his wife. Not like that.” She shook her head. “But I can say this, justice did come full circle for our family. ‘Cause that dirty cop is dead. Died just the way he deserved.”
“How he die Nai-Nai?” Aaron said.
Aanujah questioned, “When did he die?”
Aniyla eyed the three kids. “Last night. Paza Pits. He was the soul and body taken.” She left the table. The kids felt the chilled vibe from Aniyla. Her heart ran red with passion, but it went solid blue with a glaze of ice at the thought of the cop who took her husband. The kids understood more than she knew of why Anubis never thought to come after her.
A few days pass, the paranoia, panic, and trouble only escalating. Aniyla didn’t let the kids out of her sight, so going back to Midwave was out of the question. She barely wanted them to go to their friends’ house around the neighborhood. The three were discussing it before they went to bed. There was more on Saki’s mind, but she only wanted to speak it with Aanujah.
She listened for Aaron to shut the door and his feet trotting down the hall to his own room.
Aanujah sighed and turned towards the window, watching the clouds cover and reveal the waxing moon.
“Nu-Nu,” Saki softly speaks, “you goin’ to sleep on me?”
“Naw girl, just admirin’ the beauty a the night. Why? Whatsup?” Aanujah flips over in her bed to look at S’hkmanyu.
“What really went down in the woods? You was the last one standin’. Tell your best friend, yo sister, the wolf real?”
Aanu lets her breath out hard. “He’s real Sak. I saw him. Crazy thing is, I ‘on’t think he knocked me out. I think I just fuckin’ fainted. From some crazy shit like that.”
“I hear you. But what we do about it? We way pass the point of not being involved. I mean this ish is foreal foreal in our backyard. We can’t just ignore it. To do that would be…” Saki simply shook her head in the dark.
“To do that would be beyond foolish. Especially if we can actually stop him.”
“You got any ideas Nu?”
“Yeah one, but you ain’t go like it.”
“Sock it to me. What we got to lose?”
“My idea is to go to sleep. I can’t deal with this madness till the sun roll back up.”
Saki laughed, Aanu joined. “I feel you Nu. Night girl, love ya. We’ll handle this in the mornin’.”
“A’ight. Love you too. Good night.”
Aanujah didn’t utter another word, she fell instantly into sleep.
She tossed on her side, her fingers caressing the smooth silver silk duvet. Her eyes slowly opened, glancing around her spectacular room. Loving the high ceiling decorated with elegant chandeliers and painted patterns lacing and twirling about the ceiling in warm golden and cool silver hues. She was searching for someone. She stood reaching for the table near her bed, so she could stand steady. The woman glided to her fancy tall mirror, checking her morning appearance. In the mirror was Aanujah, her already dark skin a shade darker from the intense heat of the sun, her skin a flawless dark mahogany, her eyes a stunning rich violet.
And her hair was colored bright cherry red, bringing out her red undertone, hair thick, bushy, long and coiled. Her apparel a lengthy thin Kemetic dress, snug around her full curves, that she slept in. She reached for her light robe, hanging on her mirror and slid her bare feet down the marble to the next room where her balcony was located. A granite archway led to her balcony and a glorious sight followed. Stories below was the forest that stood between the palace and the rest of the empire.
Aanujah breathed in deep as she watched the towns on the other side of the forest begin to come alive. The woman loved the simplistic beauty of the villas, townhouses, and small quaint homes that lived comfortably next to one another. She craved to hear the roar of children running about the city, meeting friends or sticking their nose in grown folks’ business. The scents of baked goods strong enough to find her sense of smell, noises of chimes signaling the stores were open for the day all clashed in the air. She looked over her empire, her home, smiling inside at its sheer beauty.
Aanujah sighed her content, then looked slightly down. Standing next to her was a huge feline, painted in black with intense violet stripes covering her, her fur curly and stripes that sometimes formed shapes on her body.
“Sahkena,” Aanujah spoke with regal grace, unafraid, spoken in an old language, “where’s my husband? Why wasn’t he beside me when I rose?”
Sahkena purred then voiced the answer in Khemetu (Kim-met-two), the old language, “He was called to court. He asked me to see to you when you woke. And to give you his apology for not being here.”
Aanujah looked back at her empire and nodded. “Thank you Sahkena. I have no need of your presence, you may do as you please with no bother from me. You are truly an asset to our world and worlds beyond it.”
Sahkena purred, unfurling her hefty, long, impressive wings. Aanujah stood back and watched with great joy Sahkena changing shape. Sahkena stood, a gorgeous woman with long braids falling over her shoulders, only an inch taller than Aanujah. Sahkena looked exactly like S’hkmanyu, only a few shades of a lighter brown. Sahkena bowed to Aanu, then took flight in the sky.
Aanujah returned the bow to her greatest assistant in the Underworld Empire and her greatest friend in the universe.
One of Aanujah’s younger assistants rushed into her private eating quarters, a place where she not only wanted to eat in private but also think in private. He was yelling news in Khemetu.
Aanu sat her glass down and raised her hand. “What’s happened young sir? Have a seat, catch your breath before you tell me.”
“Thank you, my queen,” but he doesn’t sit, just bends over panting. “Your brother came all the way from the east to report the news.”
Aanujah nods her head and waits for the grand introduction, which generally worked her nerve. She waited until the noise from the trumpets and drums faded before she got to her feet. As her brother Hametas (Hah-men-tis) walked in the striking double doors, she stood. His face looking just like Aaron’s. She fell into her big brother’s arms, waving her assistants to close the door.
“How you been Hametas? How’s Queen Mother?”
“Mama’s well sis. Come sit.”
She sat and moved the mess of papyrus from the sofa to the table so her brother could have a seat. She kept her brother’s hand in her own. “What’s goin’ on? Somethin’ awful?”
“Well, yes and no. Atlantis fell, submerged. The citizens anticipated it, so they joined their folks in Africa long before the collapse. We’re gonna settle them all over the dark continent, but majority will go to the ancient city. One of ours.”
“Kemet?” Hametas nods to his sister question. “My husband already up?”
He smiled. “You know it. He’s been up there at it all night, taking whole families through the continent. No sleep, no food, just workin’.”
She lightly chuckles. “That’s Anubis. I’ll be up as soon as I let everyone know the situation. You know people of our city loved Atlantis. They’ll be sad to hear it’s really gone now. They’ll jump on the opportunity to help the folks of Atlantis.”
He smiles once again, then kisses her forehead. “I’ll see you up.”
Aanu’s delicate arms stretched out and a strong hand captured her own. A pair of plush soft lips planted a kiss on it. Aanujah pulled back her hand and sat up, surprised that someone was next to her. A man, a gorgeous, sculpted man, shirtless, colored in dark sweet mocha laid next to her.
“Anubis,” she whispered. “You finally came back home.”
He grinned tenderly, pulling her into his big arms. His low voice coated her skin and her insides with familiar warmth. “I missed the underworld, our city, but I missed you most.” She looked up at his face, loving his cute flat nose, his wide thick black lips, and his jeweled carnelian eyes. Her lips met his in a deep sensuous kiss.
He broke the kiss to gaze at her face. “Come to Earth with me, so you can see some of my new handiwork.”
“Give me an hour, then we can go up.”
The royal couple opened a crimson portal in a barren desert. Heat poured on them, sweat was produced on their bodies, making them glisten. Anubis took Aanu by the hand, leading her further in the desert.
After minutes of walking, nowhere it seemed, she spoke. “What’d you do Anubis? Dry out all the lakes?”
His booming laughter met her ears. “Baby this land been barren for years. That’s why no settlers. But with Atlantis, Lemuria, them all submerging, we had to do something. Make some changes.”
She wrapped her arm around his waist, looking up to him and asked, “What you do?”
“You’ll see my Aanu,” he said, laying a kiss on her nose.
After what seemed like hours of walking and sweating they finally made it to their stop. It was a small town built around chains of newly created lakes. Aanujah’s mouth dropped as she saw trees grow at a faster than normal rate, flowers budding, plants and trees bearing fruits and vegetables. Anubis just watched her, capturing the awe and pride of him that glowed on her face.
“Is this what my baby been up to?” She questioned without looking at him.
He hugged her from behind, planting a kiss on her neck, grinning. “Yes. These great people had my time. It’s not just my Haze at work. There are great masters of the Haze energy magic here. They can stop time, open portals, bend light. I just enhanced it.”
He took her by the hand once again, to get a closer look on the small but very beautiful town. She knew if her husband was on the job it would progress to greatness. Aanu swelled with pride as she watched Anubis get his hands dirty, lifting stone and wood to finish homes, helping out young ones with whatever task they couldn’t complete alone. She knew how he got when helping people settle into a new home life. He wanted them as comfortable as he could make it.
The houses were getting built with the best of materials, Anubis was importing through portals, using up his energy nonstop. She knew she would have to step in to keep him from burning out and indeed she did. Once the day finished and the dark took over, the town gathered around multiple fires, eating food, dancing, singing, storytelling. Aanujah knew Anubis wanted to stay behind and enjoy with them as though this was his new home, but she pulled him back to their world in that moment. She knew he needed tending to before he went at it again tomorrow.
Aanu planned a divine evening in Seven Lotus Garden. She knew Anubis simply adored watching her stroll through the exotic tall flowers and trees, trying to find her in the maze. She’d sing and let her voice ride on the wind kissing his mind, sending him clues of where she may be. Once he did find her the two would saunter to the center, arm in arm.
“Thank you my darling,” he whispered in her ear in Khemetu. “I need this more than you know.”
“Oh, trust me Aanu knew,” her voice purposefully dropping to a low sultry octave, messing with her husband.
“Will this night end on a high note, or a very low one?” His smile hanging sexily on his handsome face.
“Both,” she replied.
“Well, my queen I will do as you say. Please…lead the way.”
He knew only his wife knew best how to replenish his energy. He would gladly drown in her at her command, resurfacing back to life at full capacity. Aanujah smiled a knowing smile, leading the way deeper into Seven Lotus, disappearing in the darkness.
Aanu woke, slipping to the end of her bed, noticing Saki was already out the room. What time was it? She stretched her arms, yawning lazily, then stood with her house shoes on her feet. A smile was on her pretty face and she didn’t even know why. It must have been her dreams, the dreams she didn’t remember. All she could recall was a sexy man treating her like a goddess.
She laughed out and shook her head, running to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Aanujah bounce down the steps, took a whiff and smelled some of Gran-Nai’s good food. She was just in time!
Her family looked up at her and caught her good mood. Weird, considering all that’s been going on.
“You alright?” Saki asked first. “You glowin’ Nu-Nu.”
Aanujah smacked her lips and grinned wider. “What’s wrong wit’ that? Specially in these crazy times.”
“I think you answered that yo self lil sis. Specially in these crazy times. Ain’t nothin’ to be gettin’ happy about Aanu.”
“Leave her ‘lone. We could all use some of whatever she got. Come get y’all plates, so we can eat.”
She flipped and turned in her sleep, having fits that gave Saki pause. Once her movement stopped it’d only start back up a few minutes later. Aanujah was soaking her pillows and covers in sweat as she tried to wake from her dream. But she was caught in its web, with no way of escape.
“What is your problem?!” Anubis whirled on her, hurling the question in English. The royal couple had been locked in their room for the last three hours, shouting at the top of their lungs at one another. The people who stayed in the palace never seen them like this before. Arguments had ensued in the past, but never as heated as this one or as long.
Aanu stepped back from Anubis, afraid that she might strike him, and make him grow angrier. She took a deep breathe. She replied carefully, calmly, and slowly in Khemetu, “Ever since this new cycle and new people, you’ve been acting different. That’s all I’m tryin’ to say to you Anubis.”
He didn’t answer back in Khemetu, he took a liking to English. “I haven’t been acting different. I’m expanding my knowledge that’s all. Maybe you should try it. If I must take some of the new in me to do so…I will.” He turned away from her, heading towards the door, ending their argument.
“You will listen to me today Anubis!” She bellowed in Khemetu, stopping him in his tracks. “I will not stand for this.”
He turned to look at her, staring into her amethyst eyes, watching them glitter silver. He so loved when they did it, but right now he was too pissed to adore it.
“What’s happening to us Anubis?”
He shook his head, looking away from her. “I don’t know.”
“You even speak their tongue. Talk to me in Khemetu. This is what I am talking about. You’re never here when we need you. You…” She shook her head. “You seem obsessed with them. These new people.”
“I grow tired of your insistent babbling nonsense Aanu. That’s why I’m never here.”
She narrowed her eyes, he knew then he shouldn’t of said that. The air in the room grew hazy, a purple haze, sprinkled with silver. “How dare you,” she deadly whispered.
The room began to spin, Aanujah the only one not moving. Anubis lost his balance, but only for a moment. He matched her with his orange haze, pulling them both off the ground. The purple haze grew and the orange haze matched it until both haze reached capacity and blasted. A sonic boom followed and forced them both to the marble floor in their room.
“I am the Empress. I am the Queen of this Empire and you will respect my word, just as I’ve respected yours.”
“What is it?” He says from the floor.
She stood over him. “All I ask is you get your head straight. Remember what was always important to you. Stop pushing me away from my throne, my position here. This is our house, our nation, our world. Our family. When’s the last time you’ve seen our children? Our children born of the Black. Not the ones engineered on Earth, but the ones born from the ether.”
He had no answer, all he could do was stare at his wife. The woman he’s loved since the beginning of this universe. But something has changed and he knew he could never hold that fact from her. She sensed things about him that he didn’t know yet and the same held true in reverse. He knew that if he continued the path he was on, she would withdraw from him and do damage.
If she felt her actions could save him or their Empire she would no doubt do it.
“Hmm,” Aanujah murmured, looking down at her blank piece of papyrus. She looks up, staring out her wide window, watching the hypnotizing colors play in the afternoon sky.
“Queen Aanu.” It was Sahkena in her human form, appearing at Aanujah’s personal quarters door.
Aanu smiled, bowing her head from her seated position. “Yes Sah.”
“The council’s been called.”
Aanujah nods her head, then stood from her table. “Thank you Sahkena. Thank you much.”
Aanu left from her own chambers to the Council Hall, taking long strides down the seemingly endless hallways. She made her last left turn and could see the Council Hall’s doors, closed tight. Strange. The doors are only to be closed after all of Council made it in. A woman was standing outside the doors with her face balled into a frown.
It was Kalandruh (Kuh-lahn-druh). Today’s meeting only consisted of four people, Anubis, Aanujah, Anubis’ brother Yunaki (You-nah-key), and one of Aanu’s choices which was Kalandruh. A young woman, only in her early hundreds, but a wise voice nonetheless.
“Kalandruh, my dear. You look as darling as ever,” Aanu smiled and pulled the tall, almond colored woman into an embrace.
“Thank you, Queen,” she said quickly.
“Why are you here and not in the Hall?”
Kalandruh smiled a tight smile. “Your husband, the King, Anubis lost it in his crown.”
Aanujah’s eyebrows raised. “Lost what?”
“His mind!” She says urgently. “He told me to excuse myself. I don’t know what this is Aanu, but you need to get a check on it and now. My counsel has greatly ascended our Order and I will not be treated as anything less. I had enough of that in my beginning days here, I won’t go back. I won’t.” She shakes her head.
Aanu nods. “I understand. You know I do. Let’s go in here, handle this.”
Aanujah pushes the grand doors open and saw the Council. Anubis had not just called his brother Yunaki, but he called the entire Men’s Council to play. In this great hall, there were two golden seats, built high to the ceiling. The high seat on the left belong to the Anubis, and the balcony seats to the left is where the eleven members of the male council sat. The high seat on the right was the same, except it belonged to the Queen, and the balcony sat the eleven women who made the female council.
The difference today was that Yunaki was sitting in her chair, directly across from her husband in the high chairs. Both Anubis and Yunaki looked up at the ladies at the same time. Yunaki smiled only at Aanu, happy to be in her presence. Aanujah ignores his face and glares at her husband. She was already grated by the doors being closed and the fact that he changed so much made this worse.
His voice speaking in English held a hidden layer of amusement, “Yes, my lovely wife. What can I do for you?”
Get him out her seat was her first thought, but she knew better than to say it. She took a deep breath, smiled softly, preparing to put her best face on. “Soir’lo’Soi (Sore-low-so),” was her reply.
“Soir’lo’Soi. I’ve come to talk about Soir’lo’Soi. No, we’ve come to talk about them. We’ve been at odds with them for decades, the situation has only escalated. Now is the time to resolve it. So, Kalandruh and I came for session. A session that was only meant for the four of us, but somehow one whole side of Council is here.”
Anubis’s eyes twinkled as a slow smile spread upon his face. He looks to his brother who only nodded with a smile.
Anubis took a deep breath, then exhaled. “As much as we would enjoy that from you both, we feel your Council isn’t needed in this matter.”
Aanu licked her lips, waited to gain her composure, because she knew it was slipping in a direction she didn’t want it to go. Finally, she questioned, “What matter exactly is it Anubis?”
“A male matter. The Women of Council thoughts are slanted. In matters of war; woman’s ideas are a bit different. Softer, tender, motherly. That’s not the kind of message we want to send.”
“War!” She couldn’t help but to yell. “When was this decided?”
“It hasn’t been as of yet. But see this is why we didn’t call the women, who can get quite squeamish about the idea.”
“Especially when there are other options.”
He lets his breath out and levitated down from his seat, landing and walking to his wife. This time Anubis spoke in Khemetu. “Um, as a matter of fact honey I feel we don’t need feminine council at all. Men are born leaders and let’s be honest Aanujah, I have been leading our kingdom for much of our rule. Women, men, different natures. I still need you, you are the beautiful face of the Empire, and tending to the palace.”
Aanujah was so shocked she couldn’t even hide the fact, or ready a response before he sat back down to continue discussing with the rest of the male council.
Kalandruh touches her arm, willing her to get back into the game. Aanujah clears her throat. She questions as calmly as humanly possible, “Are you telling me Anubis, my only job is to sit pretty and quiet by your side? And that that’s all I’ve been doing all these years?” She looked at Kalandruh who was still fuming. “Oh, and satisfy you in all needs.”
Anubis didn’t even look her way to answer. “And of course, the most important job of all which is have and raise our children. Wife, I no longer want you exerting yourself or concerning yourself with these matters. I don’t want my wife to bear it. I will carry this load for us.”
“Fine,” she said quietly.
Kalandruh looked from the King to the Queen. “Is that it? You’re gonna let his word be final?”
Aanujah eyed Kalandruh. “Yes, it’s fine the way it is.”
Anubis spoke. “You see Kalandruh, that’s why she’s Queen and you’re not. I told you to excuse yourself.”
Aanujah left the Council Hall with Kalandruh all on her back, wanting answers. But Aanujah didn’t answer them, her mind was busy plotting her next move. She had no plans of letting Anubis’s word be final. He knew she would be plotting and she knew he would know. But to Anubis if she did as he asked then all would be fine.
The forecast was free from clouds of doubt, storms of rage, and raindrops of oppression, but only for a little. Anubis wanted another child, a boy, but Aanujah refused to lay with him, let alone give birth to another child. He was corrupted and she was afraid of what she would give birth to. Anubis did another unforgivable action. He brought in another woman.
A woman who would do as he said when he said it. A human female from some pitiful village in the cold mountains. Life as they knew it began to take a dangerous turn.
She slowly shook her head, silent tears streaming down her soft face, watching him sleep…with her in their bed. But it wasn’t the girl she had a problem with. If Aanujah was in her shoes she would have jumped on the opportunity, not so much to rule, just to get a chance to be a part of the God realm. Aanujah’s hand went to her heart, placing a weight on her heart, making it heavier than it already was. Her husband was losing himself in the new era and was fixing to make his entire world lose it with him.
His aura even began to change. Where once it was a brilliant electric blue, it became muddied and murky with gray, dirty specks of shame pooled through his water of energy. But the shame wouldn’t stop him, neither would guilt, he was on a mission. He was determined to experience a life he never knew, but to do that he had to grow into a different being. She knew he believed himself to be right.
That evening she went to her personal quarters, which was much like an office with a bed thrown in there and waited. She waited for an army of men to come and collect her to the Hall of Judgment. She wasn’t surprised when she heard the news, that her title along with the power would be taken from her. Aanujah wasn’t living up to her duties as Queen, which was only to be of service to the King. She was still of royalty and to be treated as such, but not in total reverence as the Queen.
Her full name would be burned from her throne and soon replaced. Anubis didn’t hesitate to take her power as Queen away from her and distributed it amongst the Men of Council. To Aanujah that was simply enough, she wouldn’t stand for any more. Losing her throne was bad, but it could get worse. Anubis now accumulated enough power to throw her out the realm and she would have absolutely no influence.
She would wander the realms between their underworld and the Earth above them. Before she would suffer another indignity at his hands she planned to do what she hoped she never would have to.
A voice echoed in her mind, “I am a simple woman Aanujah, but I can see through every veil.”
“What is it Vylaht?” Aanu remembers asking, the night of her wedding. “I’ve just been married and you have a word.”
“I do. Now listen to it.” Aanujah was quiet and prepared for Vylaht’s words of wisdom. For Vylaht was an old goddess, older than both Anubis and Aanujah combined. “After you two are finished exhausting one another, come see me. I wanna give ya Mkisiight (Mm-ki-see-ight).”
“What is Mkisiight?” Aanu lightly laughed.
“An old ritual. A spank on the ass when one needs it. You can’t see the possibility right now ‘cause you’re in love. But the world will change and if we’re not careful we could change for the worse with it. If that man ever acts up do Mkisiight lightly, but if he goes in deep, do it heavy. Don’t let the Underworld suffer for his mistakes. And don’t dare allow yourself to suffer for his ways. I mean that.”
Aanujah let the memory run through her as she nodded absentmindedly to it. Aanujah dressed in the color of the womb, solid black, a smooth fitted dress, and an intricate head piece sat atop her head. Dressed properly for the occasion she slipped out of sight. She made strides to the belly of Seven Lotus Garden, the garden ran deeper than Anubis ever knew. Aanujah walked through an indigo portal and on the other side was the Seven Lotus Forest.
A forest filled with animals, trees, and flowers of Aanu’s creation and all the Women of Council’s creation. Ever since the new changes in the kingdom the women have secretly gathered in the Forest, far away from male eyes. Tonight, Aanujah called them in, informed them on all the items needed for Mkisiight, and each followed through. There were drums, food for the spirits, live animals, candles, incense. Several gourds of sacred blood from the River Hathopian, blessed by the goddess Hatho.
Branches retrieved from elder trees in mass. And the Haze magic of the sacred feminine council. All was here and in ample supply. Tonight was a lunar eclipse, perfect. Aanujah stood in the middle of the circle of women and gazed over them all, Black women of every age, hue and size, and thanked with her eyes.
“I don’t know where my husband is leading us,” she said, “but I will not follow. Tonight, we perform Mkisiight, hard and true. This extraordinary ritual handed down to me by the Great Judge Vylaht will keep our power intact and our strength. No matter where these dangerous waters take us we will not drown in them. Let us begin Sistas!”
That night these women spent all that was inside of them on Mkisiight. None of the women quite knowing where it will take them, only hoping what it will allow them to keep. Anubis would only suffer the consequences if he continued going down the road he was on. Because of this ritual cleverly created by Vylaht, he fell to the Earth that he obsessed so hard over. And instead of the better power staying with him it only resided in Aanujah.
It was now up to Aanujah to resurrect a person and a world that he allowed to die.
She trudged into the living room, her kinky hair a mess, her face slightly swollen from her slumber. Her family was chilling in the living room, watching a movie, till Aanu came in.
Saki pointed it out. “You look awful Nu-Nu.”
Aanujah just turned and glared at her, then flopped on the two seater Aniyla was lounging on. She laid on her Gran-Nai’s bosom and closed her eyes.
Aaron threw popcorn at Saki, she swung on him, he ducked just in time. “How many times I gotta tell you to just shut up?”
“I’m just statin’ the obvious.”
“If it’s so obvious why you need to state it?”
Saki smacked her lips. “Shut up Aaron. I’m sorry Nu-Nu.”
Aanu just waved her away.
Aniyla kissed her granddaughter’s forehead and then replaced her kiss with her hand. “Honey, this the third time you woke up late.” It was two ‘o’ clock in the afternoon, the others had left the house and came back, Aanu was still sleep.
“What’s wrong my little early bird?”
Aanujah doesn’t verbally respond, she shakes her head. Aniyla lifted her head by her chin and gave her a stern look. Aanu shakes her head again, then says, “Nothing Nai-Nai, just bad dreams.”
Aanujah in the end was displaced between realms, but her fate was much better than her husband and the Men of Council. She was in a state of confusion as she roamed the realms, built only with gray haze. No people, no animals, no nature, no anything. She wouldn’t die, but slowly she would lose all memory of her life as a queen and goddess. With her releasing the magic of Mkisiight it would change the course of the underworld.
Only Aanujah could restore her family and her world. She traveled long and far through the nothingness and found one single spot of life. It was a black hole that hovered in the air. Aanu squinted her eyes at the sight, believing she was hallucinating. Her dark arm reached out to check its realness. She felt heat stroke down her arm, working to cover her entire body.
The current of heat entered her body through her root chakra and traveled to her crown. Aanujah was gone from her home and now took up residence on the Earth plane. Her first incarnation she died as a toddler. She couldn’t take the overwhelming corrupted energy and slow frequency. It was driving her crazy, even as a three-year-old.
She willed herself to die and on her death, she remembered everything. In her fury, she chose to head back to Earth to get revenge on her lover. But in every incarnation, she’d forget her mission. Coming down to Earth in many bodies, slim women of light butter brown skin accustomed to only the best. A whimpering caramel girl, terrified of life after being raped.
A pale biracial girl who grew up to live an average life as an underpaid school teacher, shying away from any element of her original existence. A drugged crazy who did senseless murders, a homeless elderly woman, born to a family who had an exorbitant amount of money, born to families in nameless villages. She died by suicide, shot in the head, stabbed, disease, natural causes, in every age group. Aanu lived a million lives, but this was her first incarnation as an American in an American ghetto. The stars predicted her return to Earth and then her return to the Underworld.
She would be born to Alanah who was her daughter in the Underworld. Aniyla was her granddaughter in the Underworld. Anubis always knew she would be back, so he did all he could to ensure she would return to him and not his brother. His brother who always had an eye on her and waited for Anubis to make a mistake, so he could have her. Because of Anubis’s slips on Earth Alanah married a man of the sun.
And with that Anubis’s brother Yunaki could attract her to his light. But what Anubis never realized was that Aanujah never was just of the moon, she was always a child of the sun as well. And without that element she would never be able to return to her full glory. Anubis also didn’t remember the fact that before his fall he was a child of both the sun and the moon, just as his eternal soul-mate.
Aanujah didn’t move as she woke from her afternoon nap. She heard the door open and knew exactly who it was. Aaron is the only one to just walk in without knocking. Saki fresh out the shower, dressed in her bra and panties rushed to close the door.
“Dang Aaron, can’t you knock?!”
He swallows a smile and covers his eyes. “My bad Saki. If you was half naked more often I could deal wit’ yo mouth a little better.”
S’hkmanyu snatched her towel and wrapped it around her body, then slapped the back of Aaron’s head. Aaron laughs at the hit. “You good now?”
Saki smacks her lips. “Yeah man.”
“Man, Aanujah still sleep,” he observed. “You comin’ wit’ us?”
Saki looked at Aaron from her bed. “Where we goin’?”
“I ‘on’t know,” Aaron replied, “Gran-Nai got some place she wanna go in town. She said do we wanna roll? I said yeah. So whatsup?”
“Yeah I’m in, but I’on’t know about Nujah over there.”
Aaron nods, walks over to Aanu’s bed, shaking her entire body. “Nu-Nu!” He continued to shake, it took everything in Aanu to play sleep, especially when he started to tickle her.
“Toddler,” Saki called, “leave her ‘lone. She sleep.”
Aniyla came in. “How long you go be Saki?”
“Gimme ten minutes, I should be ready.”
“You try to wake her up?” Gran-Nai asks.
“Yeah Nai-Nai. She knocked out.”
“Okay,” she says on an exhale, “we can leave her a note.”
“How long we go be out?” Saki questioned, lathering her arms in lotion.
“Uh, only about forty-five minutes, maybe an hour,” she said.
“You think its safe to leave her alone that long close to night time?” Aaron posed the question.
“She’s fine, as long as she stay in the house.”
“Cool,” Saki replies, “I’ll be down as soon as I’m done and I’ll try to wake her before I come down.”
Both Aniyla and Aaron nodded.
Aanujah wasn’t sure if her family pulled off yet, so she tiptoed out her room and to the end of the hall to peek out the window. They were gone. Aanujah felt like crap, her dreams were taking her on a roller-coaster ride. She could barely remember them, but their affects were undeniable. She wanted to see what the edge of the forest was all about.
It’s funny she didn’t realize until now that she hated the forest near her neighborhood up north. She only went in once, but had to that time if she wanted to avoid trouble. Once she felt the coast was clear she did a little wash up, threw on some regular jeans and a t-shirt. Then she was out, locking the back door behind herself. She had no plans to challenge Anubis like her Gran-Nai did, or play with him like her mama did.
All she wanted was to see what was out there and if maybe somebody or something could tell her some answers. Aanu was happy there was still sunlight painted in the sky, but really it didn’t matter. It wouldn’t stop her from going into the forest. This would be her only chance, because she knew Aniyla would never go for it. No matter what she told her.
The deeper she walked into the forest the more she felt a sense of deja vu. She found herself staring at trees, watching spirals form on them, words of a language forgotten released from the spirals. Aanujah shook her head and pulled away from the trees. She caught glimpses of flowers that she swore she saw smile and haze sprinkle out of its center. She shook her head again and tried to focus on where she was going.
Her hands gripped her head as images knocked into her third eye vision, pain swelling in her dome. She moaned from the thumping in her head, slamming her eyes shut, trying to hold herself up against a rough tree.
She whispers, “Seven Lotus?” More visions from the dreams she had throughout the last few nights pounded into her mind. They weren’t just a figment of her imagination, she felt it in her soul. Truth resonated through every image, every sound, and every action. Anger fills her body, gaining momentum to burst through her mouth in a shrill scream.
The anger pulsed in her body as visions of the pain she went through in each incarnation, all the way to the beginning. She watched Anubis being consumed by greed and his new dangerous beliefs. The flare of anger cooled down, her newest incarnation slowed down the consuming flames. It was threatening to take her over and do a deed she’d soon regret. More visions brutally collided in her mind. Bodies scrolled pass, limp bodies of men, some who deserved death, others caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One body in the pile Aanujah recognized, an older blonde girl from the rich suburbs outside Lucas County. Aanu shook her head hard and tears fell from her eyes. She just wanted the visions to stop! Aanu dropped to her knees, feeling nauseous and drained. Aanujah looked to the sky, opening her eyes that began to change hues, her eyes didn’t stop until they reached purple, but just as fast as they went purple they changed back to brown.
She was truly at the edge, there was a ledge. Aanujah looked over it, one last vision dropped in her mind. It was her old world, the forest, the town, the homes and the children, in full color sight, scent, sound and touch. As Aanu’s body collapsed to the ground her mind withdrew from the vision. She scooted her butt near the ledge so her legs could dangle over.
The sight of a setting sun, streams, trees, and nocturnal animals was all she saw.
“Aanujah,” a voice called out. Aanu thought it to be her imagination so she ignored. “Aanujah,” the voice called again.
Aanu looked back and saw that mysterious stranger from the mall. Now he was sexier than ever, sweaty like he was hard at work. He was dressed in sweats, shirtless, his long locks swept back held together by a very elastic rubber band, with tattered gloves on.
“Hey,” she greeted, carefully standing up.
He shook his head. “You don’t have to get up. Is it cool if I come sit next to you? I need a break before I finish.”
She couldn’t immediately respond so she bobbed her head and took a seat first. He threw his gloves where he was standing, then came to Aanu’s side.
Aanujah quickly looked over his body, then settled her eyes on his face. She was embarrassed because he saw the whole thing. They both looked away shyly, swallowing a smile.
“So,” Aanu clears her throat, “what are you doin’ out here so late?”
“Oh me? I’m out here every week gatherin’ wood for my granddad. I chopped down a bit further in,” he points back. “My granddad insist on keeping the fireplace burnin’, even with electricity.”
“Aah smart man, save some cash.”
“Yeah, well if that’s how he feel he should be choppin’ his own wood.” The two laughed together.
The laughter abated and the two sat in silence for a few minutes. Aanu broke the silence, asking, “What’s your name? And how you know mine?”
He was taken aback that she questioned his identity. “Unakie (Uh-nah-kie). We use to play together every time you came here when we was younger.”
Aanujah neared his face with her mouth open in surprise, then sat back. “Oh my god. How could I forget that? Oh my god, Unakie.” Aanujah pulled him into a hug as though they’re just meeting for the first time.
He replied once their hug broke. “Yeah Unakie. I guess I’m not that memorable.”
Aanu smacked her lips and touched his hand. “It’s not like that. I just been on one this entire trip here. And you know you stopped comin’ around. You became a stranger. Why’d you stop comin’ around? Was it somethin’ I said or did?”
He shakes his head and intertwine his fingers with hers. “Naw, it wasn’t you. I guess our lives just started to take different paths, you know. I use to miss you somethin’ fierce back then.”
She slowly pulls her hand away and says, “Really?”
“Yeah.” He looks her in her eyes. “Even if I wasn’t locked in your memory, you was locked in mine, for what seemed like an eternity.”
Aanu turned away, biting her lip. She took a deep breath and tries to change the subject. “So um, where you been? I mean its like I’m just seeing you again.”
“Well, I left town for a while. College. Wasn’t feeling it, so I chose to come back home. Guess I’m a regular down home kinda fella, huh?”
“I guess so. Sheeit, me, I woulda went crazy in this little old town. It’s nice and all, but I don’t know.”
“Yeah.” He reaches out to caress her face. He says low, “In time you get use to it and even grow to love it.”
Aanu slightly smiles, but tucks it away. “I…I still don’t know.”
“What I do know; you grew to be a beautiful ass woman and wit’ some serious courage.”
“Why do you say that?”
“What? That you’re beautiful?”
“No, the courage part.”
“Oh,” he says, with a smile, and he lets his hand fall away. “You came out here by yourself. And if I may, why are you at the edge of the forest near night with a werewolf off his leash? Going stupid.”
Aanujah’s brow furrows and her head cocks to the side. “You don’t really believe that?”
“Sure, I do.”
“Well, I don’t…I don’t want to at least. My dreams led me here.”
He lit up, but kept her from seeing it. “Oh yeah,” he replied casually, “what kind a dreams?”
She readied herself to tell him some of the crazy dreams she’d been having. Before she could really begin the sky darkened, covering the rising moon and the stars. An aggravated low growl came from the trees.
“Did you hear that?” Aanujah asked.
Unakie got closer to Aanu, turned his head towards the trees where he knew Anubis was. He winked at the darkness with a smile he tucked away before he answered Aanujah. “I’m sure it was nothin’.”
Aanujah knew she shouldn’t utter a word about what happened during her trip into the forest, but she couldn’t help it! The next night, a day before her birthday, she took Saki by the hand to the front porch.
“What?” Saki shouted as Aanu dragged her out the door away from granny’s ears.
“Gurl! I got somethin’ to tell you!”
“Okay, I’m right in front of ya face, I can hear you.”
Aanujah laughed and even as the laughter subsided she kept a huge smile on her face. “Whoo S’hkmanyu. Okay, I been a bad girl. If I tell you, you gotta promise me you won’t say nothin’ to Nai-Nai or Aaron.”
Saki smacked her lips and said, “I hate yo brother, you know this. What I can’t tell Nana?”
Aanujah raised her head and pouted her lips. “You gotta promise me or I won’t tell you.”
Saki cocked her head to the side. “Fine, I promise. Whatsup?”
“Well,” Aanu replied, “I took a lil trip to the edge of the forest.”
“Keep yo voice down.” Aanujah peaked inside the house to make sure Aniyla didn’t hear her best friend. Aanu turned to Saki and pointed at her. “Remember you promised.”
“Okay, okay. Talk to me.”
“Mm, girl. That sexy motha was out there sweaty, shirtless, choppin’ shit. Mm! Aww man Saki, I can’t believe I forgot we use to play together as kids. Unakie is his sexy name.”
Saki’s eyes bulged, she did a little hop and shouted, “Gurl! What went down?”
“Nothin’ too big, just a lil flirtin’. He touchin’ my face, gettin’ close. He is so flippin’ hot. Let me tell you that trip in the forest was worth it.”
“Hell yeah it was. You do not have to worry, this our little secret.”
“Just thinkin’ about him make me wanna quench my thirst, cool myself down. You want somethin’ to drink?”
“Naw I’m good, just hurry back.”
Aanujah went in the house, hurried to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water. As she exited the kitchen she saw the back door open. She walked to the door to see who her brother was talking to.
“Timothy B!” Aanu ran down the steps to give him a big hug.
“Aye lady,” Tim exclaims, hugging her back.
“I see ya papa ain’t beat you too bad.” Tim smiles, Aanu gave him an even bigger grin.
“You have to tell her now,” Aaron said, looking at Tim.
Tim lowers his head, then nods. He grabs Aanujah by the hand and takes her into the forest. Once Tim felt he was a good distance away from the family house he stopped. Aanu looked back, thoroughly confused at why she was brought here.
“She told you the truth,” a voice deep and booming entered her ears.
Aanujah turned to see if it actually came from the only person it could have. Timothy was no longer wearing his glasses, they’d been crushed in his hands. Aanu took a few steps back, preparing for anything.
“I told you,” the voice still deep and it just couldn’t be coming from Tim. “I don’t wanna hurt you, never again.”
Timothy’s body bulked, adding solid muscles to his slim frame, threatening to rip apart his shirt. His burnt orange-brown skin becoming perfect in the moonlight. His body towering even higher over the shocked Aanujah. All in all, Aanujah had to say he was fine. And that blue aura she felt from her first meet with him began to glow over his body once again.
Gone was the nerd she’s known all her life, replaced with a very alluring, sexy entity.
He came closer. “I wanted to tell you this the very minute you entered Nkosia, you always come to me in the best shell. But I gotta say this one by far is the greatest. The tasty inner qualities make me wanna yelp like a little puppy dog. This shell is almost identical to your very first, when we ruled.”
Aanujah put her hand up to his chest, pushing him away. “You’re the wolf in human form. How can that be? Gran-Nai use to always have you over. You killed my fuckin’ grandfather.”
“Timothy Barnis is gone, love. Dear sweet, but very dangerous Aniyla doesn’t know everything. No, I can’t enter her space or any female of the moon, including ya mama without permission. But I never came around as Anubis.”
Aanujah cut him off, asking, “Are you tellin’ me Tim is his own? His own soul and his body, but you can take it over, like it was a car.”
He slowly nods. “Timothy and his family has ties to our world so I chose him. Do you remember how you all met Tim?”
Aanujah thought back to the encounter when they were kids. Timothy never was invited, Aanu didn’t ever want him around. Aaron was cool with it, but she wasn’t too much of a fan of him. In time Tim became a friend and a presence she learned to love having around.
Anubis lightly chuckles. “The little brat wouldn’t catch a clue. I guess you can say I had a little hand in that.”
“You,” she points at him, “you’re the reason he likes me so much.”
“No,” he threw his big hands up, “I would have to say I’m innocent on that charge. He had a thing for you ever since y’all were kids. You was a part of his motivation to keep comin’ around and never give up. Because of him I was a silent spectator, able to see you up close and personal. And your Nai-Nai never once suspected it. Perfect, huh?”
Aanujah’s face was balled up and she took a step back. “Not for Tim. If I released you, what happens to Tim?”
He shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Aanujah got in his face, a threat brewing in her eyes. “Let me tell you somethin’, you hurt my Tim any more than you already have, you can forget me doing anything for you. You’ll be sealing yo own fate.”
“So,” he crooned, “you remember?”
She backed up from him, looking away. “I remember it all in theory, not the experience.”
“Don’t worry you’ll feel it, sooner than you know.”
Aanujah’s head snapped towards Anubis. “What do you want now? I heard all I needed to the other day.”
“Tomorrow will be the High Full Moon, pregnant.”
Aanu cut him off. “It’s full now.” She pointed at the sky still looking at him.
“No, the moon will be full in the Underworld, the gray zone between worlds, and this one. Linking the triple moon. And it’ll be your birthday. Your third cycle of seven. You must make a choice, come here tomorrow night.”
“Tomorrow night or what?”
Anubis’s eyes glowed with intensity. “Or it may very well be the end of us and the world whence we came.”
Aanujah blinked her eyes, frozen at how fast Anubis changed. He restored Tim’s glasses, laid them upon his face and went dormant, reducing the bulk of his body, restoring Tim’s slimmer body.
Tim blinked his eyes, looking at his surroundings. “Aanu,” he muttered. “why we here?”
Aanujah shook her head and let her breath out. “I don’t know Tim. Is it somein’ you wanted to tell me?”
“Yeah,” Tim started, but stopped when he saw Saki approach them.
Saki had her hand on her hip. “Tim, you ain’t tell her yet?”
“Tell me what?” Aanujah looked back and forth between her friends. “Come on, the suspense is killin’ me.”
“Gran-Nai got us a hotel room, we all go stay there tonight. You know while Aaron, Tim and Gran-Nai get the house ready for yo party. We takin’ Tim’s car and they’ll come to the telly when they done.”
Snoring from all four beds in the decked-out motel room crowded the air with noise. Aanujah smiles, shaking her head, knowing she really couldn’t sleep even if she tried to. Aanu was sitting at a small desk, lounging in a comfy chair with her legs unfolded on the desk, staring absentmindedly out the window. She was a bundle of nerves and excitement all rolled up in one. It would be her B-Day in exactly an hour. The young woman was excited to finally be twenty-one, but nervous about the decision she would have to make on the evening of her birthday.
She couldn’t believe this was her life. She was waiting for somebody to jump out the shadows and tell her it’s just one big long joke. Down in her soul she knew that wasn’t going to happen. This was real. As real as the purple haze lined in gold was outside the motel window.
Aanujah watched as the haze spiraled out, growing. Aanu’s head went to and fro, she stood from her seat, slipped on her shoes with no socks and went out the door. A woman with long legs, polished oak brown tone, her thick coiled hair swept up in a graceful bun stepped from the spiral haze. She was Vylaht. The lanky woman smiled upon Aanujah, pulled her closer, and laid a delicate kiss on her forehead.
Then, just like that she disappeared. Her purple haze lined in gold poured around Aanu. She could no longer see the room she left from, or the cars parked in the lot, or the clear sky above. Blinding pain built in her forehead and forced her to scream like never before. Her scream; a high pitch frequency, the pain turned her legs to jelly and she collapsed to the concrete.
The haze softened the ground for her, but didn’t take the pain away. Seconds moved so slow it felt like hours before the pain turned down a few notches. Her exhales were heavy, inhales shallow, she couldn’t stand to her feet, didn’t want to. She was afraid the pain would return. The haze simmered down, flowing to the bottom of her feet, revealing all that was there before.
Vylaht appeared once again, with a grin, one of tenderness. Her smile alone took away any residual pain left in Aanu’s body. Vylaht opened her long arms and Aanujah barreled into them, breaking down in tears.
“Oh my dear dear mother. You knew all along, didn’t you? You knew what would happen. Ever since you gave me the ritual, long ago.”
Vylaht pulled her away from her body, so she could see her face. “Have you made a choice?”
Aanujah wrapped her arms around herself and looked away. Aanujah didn’t just know in theory, she became herself, with the help of an elder goddess. “I don’t know. He hurt me bad Vy. Didn’t even apologize.”
Vylaht nods, then lifts her chin. “Know this, you, the Men of the great Council and the Women and of course Anubis were placed here for a reason. To learn, to grow. You’ve lived many lifetimes, harsh ones and so has he. Do not doubt that he’s learned. Even if you got no faith in your relationship with him, do not lose faith in his ability to assist you in protecting and healing our nation. Which has always been bigger than both of you. But…since it was not you who fell the nation, you right now hold the best cards. Do the right thing for us all Aanujah, you always have. Look at me.”
Aanujah looked at this ancient woman. “This last incarnation infused you with the proper DNA, it is time to return. Return the fallen ones back to their high seat.”
The morning of Aanujah’s birthday the boys left out early, so the ladies could have the room to themselves. They had the blinds shut as they ran around in bras and panties, trying to get ready. It took them till well in the afternoon before every gal was put together. It took about three hours to do Aanu’s hair alone, which Saki did. S’hkmanyu single braided Aanu’s lengthy hair, then hooked those braids up in a stylish up-do.
Aniyla had ran out to pick up Aanu’s and Saki’s matching earrings and necklaces. Aniyla announced herself as she came back in the motel room. Saki ran out the bathroom, closing the door behind, Aanu waiting for her grand entrance to granny.
“Here,” Aniyla passed the bag of jewelry to Saki. “She ready?”
“Almost Nai-Nai,” Saki replied with a smile. “Gotta put the finishing touches on her and I’ll bring her out.”
“Okay,” Aniyla grinned, easing her way to the bed, not wanting to get her pretty dress wrinkled.
Saki ran into the bathroom, passing Aanu’s jewelry to her, then came to join Aniyla.
“Ladies and Ladies,” Saki playfully announced, “I now give you the baddest chick in the land; Aanujah Marie Azaigh! Watch out now, I hear she leave fiyah in her path ‘cause she just so hot! Come on out girl.”
Aanujah strolled from the bathroom. A sexy dark cherry red one piece that looked like liquid was wrapped around her body and matching stiletto heels graced her feet. Aanu’s face and body was dusted with golden glitter making her sparkle. Her aura shined intensely with purple and a blast of silver making her black coffee skin glow. Her small round eyes held a tinge of red eyeshadow, and the purple was slowly taking over her brown eyes. She had a glorious headpiece that had a red veil that covered her face, she had it pulled back for her Gran-Nai.
“Hot mama!” Aniyla appraised her look.
The ladies were finally ready and didn’t hesitate any longer to roll out. It didn’t take too long before Aniyla pulled up in front of the house. There were cars parked blocks down from the house, but the bulk of cars were as close as they could be to the house. Pretty much all of Nkosia came out to celebrate, packed in the house, behind it and around it. Aanu’s parents AJ and Alanah, Aaron and Timothy were standing outside right in front of the pack.
Both Saki and Aanu were jumping up and down in the car, screaming because they were so excited for the big party. Aniyla simply shook her head and laughed at her crazy girls. The boys opened the doors for the ladies, Aniyla and Saki got out first and for Aanu, another grand entrance. Aniyla with the help of Tim and his folks pulled together the musicians of the town. One band was in front of the house, another inside the house, and the last in the back of the house.
Slow, funky, but ethereal sounds played as soon as Aanu’s feet touched the concrete. She stood with the help of Timothy and Aaron. She couldn’t hide away her smile and didn’t want to as she walked down the violet carpet for her birthday. She moved as fast as her heels would let her to her parents who she missed more than ever before.
“Happy birthday sweetie,” AJ said, lifting her veil and kissing the cheek of his baby girl.
Alanah grinned through tears. “My baby is all grown up. I hope you have a good time tonight, honey.”
And she did. From six to late eleven she partied hard. Flirting with both Timothy and Unakie, screaming songs at the top of her lungs, being silly with her best friend, and opening presents. When eleven came the party was over and folks were heading home for a good night’s rest. Aanujah knew it was time to meet Anubis in the forest, because Tim had mysteriously disappeared.
Unakie still stuck around, no doubt he wanted to keep an eye on Aanujah. Once Aanujah’s family found out the truth of who the birthday girl was going to meet her family believed Unakie was trying to stop her from a sure death, but that wasn’t it. He remembered better than others how Anubis felt about Aanujah. Hurting her again was something Anubis would not do. Unakie wanted to be her choice and he felt this would be his only chance.
But just as Tim slipped from the party unnoticed, so did Aanujah. Her family was so chilled and tired out from the party that they flopped to the floor, a nearby chair, or couch completely unaware. Still high off the fumes of fun and food. Aanu slipped off her heels and left for the forest barefoot, walking far until she found him. She stood a few feet from him staring at his magnificence in the full light of the moon.
The moon grew bigger, pregnant and ready to burst new life.
“You’ve come,” he said, slowly turning to face her. “We gotta hurry, the portal will close forever at midnight.”
“I know who I am Anubis,” she said, lifting her chin, “you can’t boss me around. I haven’t told you my decision. I wanna get this off my chest ‘fore we move any further.”
He nods, slowly losing patience. “By all means, speak.”
“You tried to keep me in ignorance for so long Anubis. Every incarnation on Earth you manipulated my path to make sure I only knew enough to save you. Why?”
He looked away. “Because I feared if you knew all you wouldn’t accept me.”
“You gambled on so much, why never me?”
Anubis looked at his long-lost lover, staring her in her eyes that continued to grow purple. “Because HE always wanted you. Even when we ruled, married in peace and love. He never tried for respect of our union. More so he knew you wouldn’t accept him in such an underhanded way.”
“Who Yunaki?” She said, knowing very well who he was speaking of.
He replied through his teeth with sarcasm. “Yes, Yunaki. You know ‘im. You had a lovely evenin’ wit’ him a few nights ago.”
Aanu smirked. “Yeah, Unakie. I felt ya anger and disappointment all night, it was hella strong, ‘cause you was dormant. You believed he had me.”
He stepped closer to her. “This what we come to?”
She pointed at him. “You tell me Anubis.” She let her breath out in anger. “This is yo game, not mine.”
“You dare to forsake me! Huh woman?”
Aanujah whispers, latching onto his attention, “Watch yourself now. What happened to you man? You were like a big fuckin’ teddy bear, but at the same time you were not to be fucked wit’. How you become like this? You couldn’t talk to me way back then, when I asked you to get ya head on straight, but you will now,” she demanded, got so near him he could feel her breath on his chest. “Our everything depends on it. And I’m prepared to sacrifice it just as you did, for us. Our nation was built on our shoulders and if we don’t got that shit together then it will fall again.”
Anubis swallowed. “I don’t know! I don’t know,” he whispered. “I fell in the pit, I didn’t think it was a way out. Every incarnation it got worse, this one beats ‘em all.” He went quiet for a moment, staring at Aanu. Then he started back up, “I don’t care, you happy, I don’t care your choice. I want you more than my next breath, but if I can’t have you I just want this to end.”
“You tell me Anubis, why should I choose you? You are the reason my Pa-Pa is dead. His soul corrupted. It’ll take lifetimes to cleanse it and allow it back in through the gates to our world. And you know it!” She paced away from him. “You’ve senselessly killed, feasted, became a beast.”
“You’ve done no less,” he said, never looking away from her.
She didn’t break eye contact when she said, “Excuse me?”
“I told you we are alike. What about Amanda?”
Aanujah squinted her eyes and questioned, “What?”
He threw with his hands, throwing the image of a mangled body, tore apart from the impact of a semi-truck.
Aanujah curled up her face treacherously. “She deserved worse. What about this?” Aanu sent a vision harshly back at him. He saw a battered nine-year-old, surrounded by the suburban kids from a county outside Lucas. Saki was the child, she went to the hospital after a near fatal beating and near rape.
Aanu narrowed her eyes. “What about the rest? I didn’t just kill Amanda. Unlike my Nana, I. Killed. E’ry. Single. One.” Aanujah’s face curled in disgust and her body shuddered. “Never…never did they get punished. They didn’t get in any trouble six years down the line. I just took the perfect opportunity to throw Amanda under the bus—I mean semi. She came, met me right near the green belt, silly bitch. She didn’t believe somein’ like that could happen to her. Specially not by some poor Black chick.”
The two divine entities eyes met. Aanu shook the gaze off to finish telling her story. “I felt it was a sign from god or the devil, but wit’ all I know now, maybe it was you. So…I took it and killed that arrogant rich bitch. Then one by one I picked the others off, cutting off dicks and tits. One of ‘em I buried alive.”
She laughed, “I don’t know where any a that fucked up shit in me came from, but it got the fuck out! I got my own justice. I’on’t know how I got away with it, but I did. I spent my life quiet, reserved, never blowin’ up, taking shit, smiling and walking away. ‘Cause…‘cause…I don’t even know why!” She threw her hands up. “You know what I do know why, cause I thought it was the right thing to do. But when my friend got beaten almost to death, more than once. I even got jumped…I let go.”
She smiled tightly. “Blew out all the rage I been feeling inside an’ when I look back I didn’t know where all that anger came from. But now I do.”
“You were dazzling as a child, sunny.” Anubis’s tone one of admiration, lust, and love, “But you grew deeper, matured, but so very shadow. A controlled current of chaos. I understand how you feel when living on this corrupted plane for so long. It’s easy to lose it. You being the exact opposite of me, you only lost it once. I didn’t, I slept in my shit. I won’t deny that I need you back with me Aanujah Anput Azaigh.”
Aanujah shook her head, looking away. “Tell me why. Why you cause so much damage?” She turned back to him. “Damage you know you have to account for later ANPU. You know how I felt about you, still do. I would NEVER FORSAKE YOU to this place, but look at the position YOU put yourself in! ALL US! Tell ME WHY!”
Anubis shakes his head, staring up at the sky. “I never forgot a thing, Aanu. In every single incarnation here I remember you, the Council, our world, my fuck-ups. Every sight, every smell, every touch, taste. At first, I ain’t care because I thought I could always go back. But when I knew I couldn’t, it drove me crazy. I had nothing, but my ability to manipulate.
I gained my powers back through the years. But by that time, I was too far gone. Lost in the pit, so deep that I killed many, took many souls, tryin’ to build a ladder out. All I had was the power of fear, I was in control of at least one thing if not my own fate Aanu. I knew it was a chance I would never return, so I transformed into a beast and never looked back. For my damages to my soul and many others I will be cleansed of it and right every wrong. It’s time.”
He looks at her, entranced by her fully blown violet eyes, her clothes transformed into her ancient royal sheath, with an even bigger headpiece made of pure crystals. “May I enter your world again Queen? And if you’ll have me, together we’ll create a new one.”
Their eyes went to the same spot in the sky. The moon. The moon grew bloody red and a blast of wind blew down to their bodies. Anubis’s electric blue aura lit up, releasing blue haze that turned orange, it met Aanujah’s purple haze. Their hands met, just as their haze did.
Together the two voices rose over the wind speaking old words in Khemetu, the key to unlocking the portals. The key that lived with the ancient Women of Council known as the Red Riders, was given to Aanujah only when she remembered herself. The couple smiled at one another, repeating the words once more. The goddess and god bodies disappeared, melting into their conjoined haze, seeping through the portal.
The unlocking of the portal now freed all those from the Underworld that fell. They were finally free to go home.
Hello? Mic check? This is your author speaking. Thank you so much reading this tale to its very end. It’s been a long rocky road writing, then revising, then writing some mo’, then ignoring this story.
After sitting on this story for 5 years, I am happy to have finally released it. I am eternally grateful for all those who have decided to read it. My wish is that Aanujah’s journey has inspired you to be more courageous in your day to day life. Do things you only dream about, do things that scare you, do the crazy stuff that thrills you. But, live to the max.
And if you enjoyed this tale, please share it, leave me a review or read it all over again.
Legends have died on elders' last breath and myths slipped from their fingers, but many such stories can not afford to be lost. The Riders' tale is one of those such stories. The Riders are a council of women that hail from a world far more advance than our own. But with such advancement comes boredom, with their creative minds come curiosity and longing follows that curiosity. The end result of burning longing is the situation found today. The underworld the Riders are from is abandoned by its rulers, the male and female council left their post soon after their rulers' departure. The folks from this world are displaced on Earth, cursed with no memory of home, while entangled in endless misery. Their salvation rests in the hands of 20 years old Aanujah Azaigh. A woman who has lived many lifetimes, but has no knowledge of and this very information is the key to lifting the curse. The young lady is thrust, head first, into this journey. Aanujah believed her summer would be a simple visit to granny, but the truth manifested itself with sharp teeth and claws. It will take all her courage to not back down from such a force. It will take all her courage to once again become the Lady of Shadow Moon.