Chapter 1 – What’s in the box?
“I don’t care….with all the rubbish my country has put me through why should I risk my life for it? If these attackers want oil money, they should just join the frickin militants…..”
Two week ago if anybody told me I would be the one thing standing between the mass destruction of my home town and an all out war on the world, I would have just laughed, given a snide remark like “pull the other one…it plays yahooze” and walked off. But here I stand, in front of the Nigerian CIA (SSS) and MI6’s best, being asked to save the world with my friends. This is ridiculous.
Ok, so here’s the deal, my names August, but when my mums mad I’m called Augustine Eseogene Rayne and I’ve bin back in Nigeria for 8yrs, getting used to the lack of constant electricity and the wondrous world of Okada riding. Having schooled abroad most of my life I can safely say I turned out to be a pretty well rounded individual with my fair share of, how should I put this? interesting experiences.
My “Rat-Pack” includes my best mates, a tightly knit group of friends which I formed since my 8 year rehabilitation process began. We have Tosin Ojuelgbga a very dark skinned, witty and intelligent guy and his big bro Lanre the cartoonist, Marcus Ikideh the token silent one, who’s driven and intense, Chichi Okarfor the life’s blood of the group with her uber charisma and live for the day attitude, Jane Uwadia the perky, flirty pop culture buff and Kike Ebere the complicated but darling singer of the bunch. Of course like every good clique there are many walk in characters but we’ll get to those in due time.
It had just been one of those weekends, chilling at my new crib off stadium road in Port Harcourt, drinks at Piazza and ps3 action till dawn, and we were all sprawled around the living room with dubies burning out and duvet’s being snuggled under when there was a knock at the door.
I stumbled off the large 3 seater couch stepping over Tosin and Kike, who always seem to end up together and scratching my eyes said “who is it?” before reaching the door… The gate man Sunday said it was him and that there was a package left for me at the gate. Upon opening the door I saw Sunday in his blue security guard out fit holding a shoe box sized box. It was brown and wrapped in a red ribbon with “for Augustine Rayne” written on a small white card.
I took the box, thanking Sunday and went back in, Lanre skulked out of the kitchen lighter in hand as a thin joint hung out of his mouth, he asked “what’s that was about?”
“I have no idea man” I said turning the box over in my hands and shaking it slightly “it’s just got my name on”.
“Well what you waiting for? Open it up already” Lanre added.
So I went back to my favourite spot on the plush brown sofa and started untying the bow. Chichi poked her head out of the kitchen door and asked us what we were doing, whilst hiding her small frame in one of my dads old towels, “and what’s in the box?”
“It’s the lost scrolls of candor” Lanre said snidely “now get that cute behind out here…we have no idea and I still have to whoop you on ‘need for speed’”
“Would you all keep it down?” Tosin said snuggling closer to kike under the duvet “some of us are trying to sleep here. And really, what’s all the 9am chatter about…it’s a Saturday guys! Sheesh”
Lanre had sat down next to me and Chichi was standing behind me peeking at the slowly unravelling ribbon when my phone rang. It was an unknown number so I answered it with questioning in my voice.
“August, the package you just received is of the utmost importance, do not take this lightly at the fate of many lay intertwined in the hand of you few”
“Huh, what are you on about, Uche is that you?”
“Uche is at a conference in Bayelsa and you need to focus on the box which I presume is in your lap”
Kike sat up seeing the confused look plastered all over my face and said to Tosin “Tose, this looks serious, what’s going on?”
“That’s what I’ve been asking them but I guess we’re the invisible all of a sudden” Tosin said quite irritably.
Waving my hands to shut them up I asked “no really who is this and how do you know where Uche is?”
“That’s not important right now, what is important is that you get Marcus up from your bed and get him in here with you all before you open that box. It is of the utmost importance that you all go through this together” Said the cool calm voice on the end of the line.
“This has to be a joke or something, now you know where Marcus is?” I said now more confused than ever and slowly adding some mild terror for good measure. Turning around I covered the phone at told Chichi to go get Marcus fast, that this was getting a littlie to freaky for my liking. As she saw the seriousness in my still groggy face she ran in the direction of the room.
“So what’s this about and what’s in the box?” I asked
“inside the box are the tools the six of you will need to face what is to come, I’m sorry about the cryptic-ness of this all but with the time remaining it was unavoidable. Firstly when you are all together open the box and read the note within, then try your best to follow the instructions as closely as possible” By now I was standing and slowly pacing the room as all the eyes of my best friends looked on in collective confusion. The caller went on “I know this will all seem like some low budget Action x flick but it will all make sense soon. I will be in contact so don’t worry, you are not in this alone.” And with that the line cut and I was left standing by the window staring back at the box on the sofa and my friend strewn around the room. They were all now fully awake and waiting for me to tell them what the heck was going on. So when Marcus eventually said “so, whose dog died?” I finally snapped back to reality. The first thing that came to mind was “dude! I think we need to either stop smoking or light up.”
So after I retold the entire tale of the mysterious Phone call, we were all with mixed feelings. Chichi wanted to open it and see what the fuss was about, Kike and Marcus said we should just get rid of it, while the ojuelgba brothers where kind of just waiting for us to decide and that’s when we heard the door open. We all turned around like kids caught with our hands in the pot and saw Jane. Jane and I had one of those on again, off again relationships; she had my spare key and was working late at some health consultancy firm (what ever that was) so she never made it to our ritual Friday night.
“Urm…what y’all doing?” she said looking suspiciously at us.
“Oh Jane it’s just you. We have had the strangest morning.”
And so the tale was retold as Chichi dressed up, Marcus made some coffee and Lanre rolled a big fat joint.
“So that’s where you came in.” She was seated between Lanre and me on the couch as Marcus sat on the back of it and chichi was on the side of the table, while Kike n Tosin kind of just sat up covered in the duvet facing us.
“Lets jus open it and read the instructions” she finally said “what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like its ticking or anything and its way to light to be anything dangerous”
“Famous last words” Marcus said “but she does have a point. If it’s too freaky we can just get rid of it”
“August, they knew your name and I’m betting they knew we were all here. So I honestly don’t think throwing it out would solve anything” said Tosin who just happened to be the furthest away as Kike pointed out jokingly.
So looking around I took a hit from the joint and peeled off the wrapper, it was a wooden box with carvings all over it; it was dark and looked heavier than it actually was. There was a small latch at the front an as I turned it over nothing moved inside but a small folded up note dropped on the floor. Jane picked it up and started reading it.
“The contents of this box are only for the six of you, if there is anyone not present at its opening ,then all is lost and if there is any one else around then there is no hope for us all. Do not fear, all will be explained in time. Good Luck.”
“This is fucked up you guys, I’m all for a Goonies adventure but I’m not sure I like the way this is going so far” Kike said.
“What ever it is you guys, I just want it over with so I’m opening it” I said flipping the latch and as I did that it was like all of us took a deep breath at the same time. I flipped open the lid half expecting something to jump out, but there was just a piece of gray frayed cloth inside.
“Is that it?” Lanre said leaning over for a better look “was kind of hopping for something a little more interesting actually”
So I pulled it out but a small marble like object dropped from within it, as it fell, it didn’t really have a colour, it was more like all colours at once and it not so much shone but rather had the consistency of light and water, if that makes any sense. Once it hit the ground it bounced of in tremendous speed doing a crazy ricochet routine all over the living room, it bounced of shelves, chairs, doors and even windows gaining more and more speed as we all dodged, and then it disappeared. As we all got up from our various hiding positions we looked around the room and at each other but before we could say a word it whizzed back into the room and pulled a screeching stop right in the middle of us all. It then started emitting a high pitch sound which was more uncomfortable than painful and then started getting brighter. Its light was gradually growing spreading over the furniture and then the entire room, covering everything with such a whiteness that all else paled in comparison. I just stood there staring, my mind raced at warp speed from all the comics I’ve read to all the movies I’ve watched then on to what my friends were thinking, but the intense glow which covered everything but us pulled us in and took over…our limbs were nothing but extra parts for all the good they did.
The light was the only thing in our world and then, just like a flick of a switch…it was gone.
Tune in Next Wednesday for “Chapter 2-I think I can hear you”