Sometimes, I wish they all knew that I’d saved the world, that “we” had saved the world. I don’t wish it to be vain, I don’t think I am vain. I mean to make such a statement with a hundred percent certainty would be a paradox, wouldn’t it? Can you really be the judge of your own vanity? I don’t know, I didn’t think so. It didn’t even matter, I’d seen the real nature of the world and trust me, morality didn’t matter. I was not a good person, I knew that, even if I tried not to do bad things. I did not aspire to be a good person. It’s just, sometimes I wish the world didn’t take me for -
My therapist says that I have a bad habit of avoiding things that I don’t like. I have a tendency to skip words, names, conversations, ev- I can’t argue with her there, most of the time I skip through entire therapy sessions. It’s like I’m at the beginning and then I’m at the end. And I’m aware that I’ve just sat through an hour of this woman saying nonsense at me. But I don’t really remember what the nonsense was and I’m far too lazy to try to remember.
She didn’t say that to me today though, that was a few sessions back. Today was different from our other sessions. She didn’t ask me mundane questions like she always did (I mean she asked but it was just at the beginning) and then cut our session short when there was nothing else to say and I wasn’t being too responsive. In fact, we almost spent the whole hour, come to think of it, we’ve almost spent the full hour the past three sessions, although I couldn’t really remember what we’d talked about in them. That doesn’t mean it was a good session though, far from it. I think I’m going to die soon.
I’m not going to kill myself. I’m not suicidal. I don’t go to therapy because I’m depressed, although I am, that’s just not the reason why I go. I go to therapy because of my difficulty at sleeping and the nightmares and also for my tendency to avoid people. Although I think the last one’s a pretty normal response. People are evil, I stay away. Simple as that. What I meant was, those things are finally going to find me and kill me.
Maybe I shouldn’t really think about it, I shouldn’t write about them. No point worrying about something I won’t really be able to change. Right?
I think today might be a short entry in this journal. I don’t really have much to say. Or I could write about my therapy session. I’ll just write about that instead.
She asked me how my day was going, somewhere around the beginning. I stared at her face for a minute while trying to choose my words. She stared right back at me. Maybe they taught her at therapy school that breaking eye contact with a patient was admitting defeat or something. She just kept staring at me with a huge smile that made her plump cheeks look plumper. I settled for, “It’s going okay.”
“Three whole words, someone’s chatty today,” she said and laughed. Yeah, she’s one of those kinds of people. The kind that laughs a lot at their own unfunny jokes. She had a slight American or British accent though, which made it a little bearable. I’m not sure why. I always imagined her father was a rich corrupt politician who had sent her abroad to some fancy University to get a fancy therapy degree. He had sent her to study medicine at first but she couldn’t stand the sight of blood and had ended up switching majors. But her University days were long behind her now. All that was left to her now was her job and her fiancé that kept delaying their wedding because he was probably cheating on her. Just those two things and this miserable country. Why had she even come back here? Because she didn’t want to be one of those Nigerians that abandoned their “beautiful” homeland once they left the country. She’d been so stupid; this country was a joke and you didn’t get the punchline unless you were filthy rich and most likely corrupt. Her father had stopped giving her monthly allowances almost as soon as he had helped fund her therapy practice. That was years ago though. And besides, she didn’t need her father’s or even her useless fiancé’s money. She could take care of herself. It was just hard. Life was hard, she knew that.
If I had the chance though, I wouldn’t make that mistake. If I ever left this country, I’d never come back.
She asked me if I saw or did anything fun today. I thought about it. I saw an Angel beat and then disembowel a child today. The boy must have been about nine or ten years old. He had screamed and cried right up until the angel started to feed on his entrails. Everyone around just kept on walking and going about their normal business as if nothing was wrong. My mum just kept on singing along to her gospel album as she drove me to my therapy session. She couldn’t see them; nobody could see them. My Uncle had told me that when I first told him about the things I saw. It had been horrifying to see and definitely not fun so I answered “no”.
She had looked at me for a while, not saying anything. I wanted to read her mind and know what she was thinking about this weird kid sitting in front of her. I wanted to tell her that I’d saved the world. “We” had saved the world. But I convinced myself that I didn’t need her approval. She wouldn’t believe me anyway, and I turned to stare at the walls.
I’ve looked at the walls so many times in that office that I know every inch of it. I’ve stared at every graduation photo, a framed degree from oxford, a couple-photos of her and her fiancé. There used to be a lot of photos of them when I first started going there. They started coming down one by one, now there was just three.
She asked me how school was going. Sometimes I wonder if being honest with her would actually be helpful. If she could actually understand me. Wasn’t that her job? To understand me. No. Her job was to make me better. There’s a difference. There is. Because “better” is subjective. If I was honest with her, her job would be to first convince me that I was crazy.
I tell her school is going fine. Obviously, it’s not. I hate it every day. I have no friends, by choice of course. Why would I want to be friends with any of those people? People are evil and kids are the worst. Cruel for no reason other than to have something to laugh at. Pass a half-empty bottle of Fanta for the boys in class to spit in and then give it to a girl to give it to the new kid to drink. Always making fun of the new kid because he has really bad acne. All they do is laugh and laugh. Then when he starts to cry, act like it’s all his fault because he can’t take a joke.
Yeah, school was going fine. Whatever.
She asked me if I was excited about my birthday coming up. No, I wasn’t. Birthdays were the fucking worst. I knew this. Yet every single year when it came around, deep down, I always expected that one to be the one that something amazing happened. I mean, I have just one day, one day in a year that’s mine. Is it too much to ask to be happy on one day? Is it too much to ask your parents to not forget that one day? Or when they manage to remember to not throw some stupid party where the only people that show up is your sister and your asshole brother and they force you to dance even though they all know how much you hate doing that. Is it too much to ask to feel good on one day? Is it too much to ask to be special?
I turn sixteen next month and the best birthday I can remember was when I was seven. My Uncle had woken me up that Saturday singing me a happy birthday. He had told me we could do whatever we wanted to do and he wasn’t lying. We spent the day eating ice cream and playing games at a game centre. And when I came home there was cake and my parents had gotten me this remote-control toy car. I knew it was my Uncle that told them to get it for me. He was the only one I kept telling how much I wanted that car. I spoilt the car the next day. I told my Uncle because he was the only one I knew wouldn’t yell at me. I took the spoilt car to him crying, trying and failing to stop the catarrh running down my nose. He just laughed and took the car from my hand. He brought it back for me later, he had fixed it. I don’t like to think about my Uncle. When I do, I feel like the loneliest person in the world.
“You sound like you miss him very much,” she said.
Shit. I’d thought. I didn’t know I said any of that out loud. I didn’t know when that had started to happen, when my thoughts had started to escape my head and leak into the real world. “He’s my Uncle and he’s dead,” I had said to her. “Don’t you have dead loved ones that you miss?” He had been my best friend.
She had a weird look on her face, like I was saying things that weren’t adding up. I was a hundred percent sure I’d only thought that last sentence. Telling people that your Uncle who had been dead for years was your best friend was beyond weird, even if they were your therapist. Then another look came on her face and she asked, “Do you… do you know how your Uncle passed?”
I didn’t know the details. When my parents told me that my Uncle had died, I had asked them what happened. They always told me different things. Like they kept forgetting the lies they told me the first time. So they kept telling me the closest thing to the last story they’d told. And on and on it went, approximations of approximations. Till the stories stopped resembling themselves. Till they finally yelled at me to stop asking. I remember all their approximations though; I remember all their lies. First, he’d had an accident when he was travelling on the road to Lagos, then it was to Port Harcourt. Then there had been an armed robbery on the road and he had been shot and killed, then he had been kidnapped and taken somewhere and then killed. Lies. I knew it was the Angels doing this. It was only them that worked this kind of magic. Magic that twisted the mind of human beings so they could never see what really went on in the world.
I told her I didn’t really know how he died. I hadn’t been with him that day, though sometimes I wish had, even if it meant I would have died too. I wanted to tell her I knew other things though, bigger things. Things that had been blocked from the eyes of every human on the planet so they could remain docile and continue to be food. My eyes were open. I could see them. The Angels and the Daemons and their hunger that had almost ended the world. They were what my Uncle had died stopping.
To be honest, I don’t mind that my parents don’t really know how my Uncle died, it’s probably for the best. My Uncle says the Angels are ruthless to people who don’t bend to their magic and the Daemons are worse. They eliminate you in the worst way possible. First, they make you go mad so that no one believes your ramblings, so that everyone thinks the only place you belong in is an asylum. And then they kill you.
Why I get angry at my parents is that they refuse to even talk about him at all. Sometimes, I just wanted to hear about the good times, how he’d pick me up whenever he came around the house, how when my parents were too busy, he’d pick me from school and buy me yoghurt on our way home, how him and my dad were always reminiscing about some fun childhood memory and were constantly laughing. I missed their laughs together, the baritone melody of it. I always wanted to participate in it, even though I barely understood what they were talking about. It sounded like happiness. How could they never talk about him? He was their family; he was their friend. Maybe the memory of him was just too painful for them, he was only twenty-six when he died. Young and so full of potential. Now I was going to die the same. Young.
“Why don’t you tell me more about the Angels and Daemons?”
When she asked me that it felt like more than just cold water, it felt like a cold bath on a harmattan morning. It felt deadly. What was going on here? How had she known that? Could she read my thoughts? Did she work for them? Was she one of them? No. That wasn’t plausible. That’s not how they worked. They didn’t read thoughts. They couldn’t disguise themselves as humans. They just made themselves invisible to us.
“How… What are you talking about?” I asked.
“The Angels,” She’d said. “You told me about them in our last session and I told you we’d continue this week. Don’t you remember?”
No. This made no sense. Why would I do that? Why would I do that? Except I was – No. Why would I do that? I knew the consequences. I know the consequences. Why would I –
“Are you okay?” She’d asked me. “You look like you’re having some kind of panic attack”
“You can’t… you can’t tell anybody about this. Not even my parents.”
“Of course not,” She said. Did she lie to me? “Everything you say here is between you and me. You know that.”
I stared at her face for a while. I searched for disbelief in her eyes. I couldn’t find any.
“What did I say to you about them?” I finally asked. “Before.”
She nodded her head as if to say “okay” before she spoke. “You asked me if I believed that things could exist and I just couldn’t see them. I said ‘Yes. I believe in God and I can’t see Him.’ Then you asked if I believed in angels and demons and I said yes. And you said what If you told me that they lived right here among us and they were all just as bad, would I believe it? I said I’d be intrigued; I’d like to know more. Then our time ran out and I said we’d continue this week. And now here we are.”
I hadn’t told her very much. I could have still salvaged it. I could have still saved myself. Saved both of us.
“I’m really curious, though. Why do you feel Angels are just as bad as Demons?” She’d asked.
I don’t know what came over me or why I said what I said. With a sentence, I sealed both our fates. “Because I’ve seen it.”
She was not as shocked as I’d expected her to be. “You’ve seen Angels?” She asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“And what do they do?”
She pauses for a while as if afraid to pull further on this thread. Maybe she could sense that it wasn’t just my sanity that could come at stake.
“What do they eat?” She finally asked.
I said, “Us.”
She stared at me. I stared at her.
“And you’ve seen this happen?”
“I saw one today. Beat and disembowel a child and then eat him, by the side of the road while everyone walked on.”
“You saw a Daemon do this?”
“No. An Angel.”
I nodded my head. She was clearly very shocked. Maybe she felt this was too blasphemous or some other bullshit. Daemons and Angels killed and ate people, but from a certain “moral” point of view, you could argue that Angels were worse. Daemons eat anybody, anyone they can find when they are hungry, they eat people, and even Angels and other Daemons I once saw two Daemons tear themselves apart in the middle of a road surrounded by crashed cars. But Angels, they fed on only one thing, children. Apart from the way they looked, this was one of their few differences. Another was how they manipulated the illusions they used to blind the world from them. Daemons used rage, anger, hate as fuel. Wherever a Daemon or Daemons fed, you would always find chaos, violence, wars. Angels on the other hand used other things, feelings, passions that were more guarded in the human heart. Things like jealousy, ignorance, lust and all those misguided emotions people mistake for love, and maybe even love itself. That way, an Angel didn’t need to be in the presence of conflict to feed. It fed right next to you as you walked by. My Uncle had taught me all this.
I wasn’t going to tell her all this though.
“When was the first time you saw an Angel? What do they look like?”
She seemed to be particularly focused on the Angels. I remained silent. I didn’t want to talk about this, I shouldn’t be talking about this.
“You can tell me,” She said.
I don’t know why I kept talking. At this point, I didn’t know why I was doing anything I was doing. “The first time I saw an Angel was when I was about six. It had silver skin, scaly, almost reptilian like. I was in my room by myself playing with some toy, my older siblings had gone to visit some of their neighborhood friends, I wasn’t allowed to leave the house. I noticed the smell first. It was like some kind of strong perfume that was suddenly all around me, choking me. Like all the air in the world was gone and all that was left was this toxic scent. Then I noticed its huge body on the wall of my room. I can never forget it. It was like a giant silver snake with legs and huge silver wings and a giant tail that just kept wagging. I can’t remember it’s face though. Maybe it was so messed up that my mind blocked it. I know it was glaring at me. I screamed when I saw it. I would have died that day if my Uncle hadn’t come into the room. He must have smelled its scent too. I remember he rushed into the room and said a few words in some language and it just hissed and vanished into thin air.
“He hugged me for a long time while I cried and cried. And tried to explain what I saw to me. ‘I’d been given a gift,’ he had said. ‘The Sight only people like prophets in the Bible had been blessed with.’ Though I didn’t quite get it until years later. He told me why it was too dangerous to tell anyone. Why I should keep what I just saw to myself or another one might come back.” I stopped there. I didn’t want to go into more details about my Uncle. I didn’t want to talk about him. I didn’t want to tell her about the Catholic Order he used to belong to. About all the things they taught him about the Angels and Daemons and the magics they used to fight them; magics he had said he would teach me before he died. I didn’t want to tell her about how he left the Catholic Order because of their own hypocrisy and unwillingness to take a bolder stance against these monsters. And back then was different. Back then all the portals were open and They kept pouring into this world in legions.
She had stared at me for a long time when I stopped talking. In shock, I think. I wasn’t sure. Her face was like a petri dish for emotions and my job was to determine them, carry out tests, experiments and see which ones checked out. Her eyes had a glossy look in them like she was about to cry, why was she sad? Her mouth was slightly ajar like she was about to say something but didn’t know quite what to say, so she was also confused.
Finally, she said, “Have you been taking your-” She stopped. Then continued, “Wait, so you’ve been seeing people get eaten?”
“Aren’t you afraid? Don’t you want to help them?”
“Because people are just as bad. Give them a chance and they won’t fail to show you just how terrible they can be. Don’t you watch the news? Don’t you see all the terrible things we do to each other? You think the guy walking past you won't beat you to death or do something worse if you just put him in the right conditions? Give him the right excuses?”
“Not… not everyone is bad, some people do good.”
“Some people try to do good and most of the time it’s motivated by some selfish desire, even though they lie to themselves that it’s not. They do good things so other people will like them, so they can be called good people, kind people, so they can wear their goodness like a crown.”
“Don’t you think you’re too young to have such unshakable… resolutions about life? You’re just fifteen. You haven’t really experienced much about life.”
And there she went, playing the adult card like it was some instant badge of knowledge. Like most adults weren’t old and stupid. I was almost sixteen and I had seen and experienced things she couldn’t even begin to imagine. I had experienced loss more profound than anything that she had ever experienced. I had done so much, accomplished so much, suffered so much for her and so many other people. She should have been grateful to me. I was more adult than she could ever –
“What was that?” She asked.
“You whispered something under your breath.”
“I didn’t say anyth-”
“You said you saved the world.”
I hadn’t… “I didn’t say anything.”
She started to stare at me again. I didn’t know what she was thinking and it was starting to making me very uncomfortable. I think she was trying to choose the right words to say next but we were silent for what felt like minutes. And when I couldn’t take the silence any longer, I decided to say something.
“Do you want to know the first time I really saw what evil looked like? Before I even knew what that word meant.”
She didn’t say anything. She only nodded her head.
“My family always used to watch TV together every night. It was kind of our family ritual. After dinner, my parents would let us watch cartoons until nine o'clock when it was time for the local news. Then they would change the channel and we would all watch the news together. Me and my siblings usually found it extremely boring and we would begin to doze off one by one and my parents would chase us inside to go and sleep. Late one night, we were watching the news with my father. I must have been around nine or ten then. My mother called him to help her with something she was doing in the kitchen, so he left us. My brother and sister started asking me to change the channel back to the cartoon we were watching. I wouldn’t do it. I knew they just wanted me to be the one to receive the ass whooping when my father came back and found that we had changed the channel. They kept telling me that I was the youngest and our father wouldn’t beat me. I’d received enough beatings at that point to know that their logic was invalid. That was when it came on, on the news.
“There was an image of a man and beneath the image was written ‘Timothy Scott-Ogbon. 26’. I don’t think I can ever forget that name or his face. His dark-skinned face was covered in so much sweat and wounds that weren’t healing properly, riddled with white-spotted acne, pus was oozing from every single one of them. His face never left me. How could it? This was the face of evil. He had repeatedly molested a child for years and convinced the child not to tell anyone, especially the child’s parents He’d been a priest, someone everyone in the community had trusted. Back then, I didn’t even know what the word ‘molest’ meant but somehow I knew that it connoted something deeply wrong. I remember my brother looking over at me. I thought he was going to say something mean like he usually did, like how the man was going to crawl out of the TV and chase me. He didn’t say anything though. Probably because at that moment my father came back into the living room. And after he saw what was on the news, he quickly changed it. Like he was embarrassed he had left his children alone to watch such a horrible thing. He put it on our cartoon channel and that was what we watched until we slept that night. I didn’t stop thinking about that man though, I never did. I never forgot his face. Till today I still see it in some of my nightmares, crawling out of our old TV to get me.”
When I was done, I didn’t need to guess what my therapist was feeling. Tears was heavy in one of her eyes. She struggled to speak for a few minutes before finally doing so.
“How do you think your Uncle died?” She asked me again.
“You’ve already asked me that,” I replied.
“Okay. Then tell me, what was the last memory you have of him? The last time you saw him?”
I didn’t understand what her intention was here. What was she trying to prove? Was she trying to get me to say things so she could tell me how ridiculous I sounded? Was that her plan? But then, how could she possibly have known what happened the last time I saw my Uncle?
“It’s okay. You can tell me. You can trust me.”
I didn’t trust her. But I spoke anyway. “The last time I saw my Uncle. We were trying to close the portals when Daemons attacked. He masked me from them and led them away. I never saw him again.”
“Portals?” She had looked so perplexed.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. You’re just going to say I’m crazy.”
“Look at me.” I’d looked at her. “I don’t think you’re crazy. Talk to me.”
I wondered if she honestly believed me or if that was just a thing she was trained to say to her patients. And that was all I was to her, another one of her patients. I found that funny, that in this messed up world that we lived in I was the one that people doubted. I wanted to give her my eyes, let her witness the things I’ve witnessed and see if she had the strength to remain sane. Maybe that’s why they couldn’t see, maybe their brains couldn’t handle. But why did I keep talking? Telling her these things. I was probably tired of all the years of keeping everything to myself, of processing every disturbing thing I saw those monsters do on my own. On my own, maybe that was it, I was tired of being al-
“Back then it was different, the whole world was different, even if you couldn’t see it, I’m sure you must have felt it. The world must have felt more dangerous or perhaps just a little less safe. See, there had been so many portals open then. Portals were like bridges to the heaven and hell dimension and the Angels and Daemons were just flooding in, killing so many people and blinding us with their magic. Covering it up with plane crashes and wars and terrorism and stuff like that. And my Uncle was going to put a stop to it. He had gathered scriptures and books and spells from so many places and he was going to shut all the portals everywhere. And the way the portals closed was like suction, so all the Angels and Daemons near them would have just been sucked inside.
“We’d practiced the spells together over and over again for over a year so we’d get it perfect when it was time to do it. And when the day came, that was when they attacked. I don’t know how they found out. One minute, we were in my room and the next, the door flew open and the Daemons were everywhere, on the ground, on the walls everywhere. My Uncle barely had time to throw an invisibility spell on me, let alone himself. The Daemons are like the Angels in a way, they look like huge seven-foot long lizards. The difference is that while the Angels have almost beautiful silver scales that make them look kind of majestic, like some kind of dragons, the Daemons scales are a very dull brown that looks very dirty. They look like they’ve been rolling around in mud or some gutter full of shit, which would explain their horrid stench. It was like you could die just by being in their presence, just by inhaling them.
They attacked my Uncle over and over again, leaping at him, clawing at him so hard that blood and faeces was all I could smell. He could barely deflect their attacks. He would have died there. But finally, he made for the broken door and ran. Three days later, all the portals closed and my Uncle was dead.”
When I was done, my therapist was crying. Tears rolled gently down her cheek. It’s quite obvious she didn’t know what to say. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it, then opened it again and then closed it. I understood. Anytime I thought of the memory, it’s like I was there again. A helpless nine-year old screaming and crying. My Uncle must have blocked out any sound coming from me too because the Daemons didn’t even so much as look my way.
Finally, she’d asked, “Have you been taking your medication?”
It hit me like a slap on the face. After everything I’d said, all the woman could ask is if I’m taking my sleeping pills. Was she trying to say all of this was just my nightmares or something? All of this was just some stupid lucid dreams. What did I even expect? If I were in her shoes, that’s what I would have believed too. She hadn’t seen what I’d seen, how could she possibly understand. I’d always be alo-
“I only take them sometimes. I don’t like how they make me feel.”
“You have to take the drugs every day. They aren’t something you only take when you feel like or they won’t work.”
Like I’d guessed. True to her job, first she’d tell me I was crazy. I couldn’t even be angry. All I was, was disappointed. I slumped back in my chair.
“Are you listening to me?”
I nodded my head, “I was just joking. It was all a joke.”
Her eyes were staring intently at me, like she was taking apart my skull and looking right into my mind.
“I don’t believe you,” She’d said. I was already losing interest in this conversation. “If you were just joking, then what is your Uncle’s name?”
I looked at her. She had thrown a hook into my brain and pulled my attention.
“Why did you always have to be there when your Uncle wanted to practice his spells?”
I didn’t respond.
“It seems he could have cast his world-saving spell without you. Why did he have to endanger a child he cared about?”
I didn’t respond.
“What part did you actually have to play in it?”
I didn’t respond.
“How exactly did you save the world?”
Heat was bubbling in me, rising from my stomach, gathering in my chest. Something was burning in me. Anger.
“Your Uncle was arrested. We’ve gone through this before. He hung himself in his cell.”
Why the hell was she lying to me? Why was she crying? Why was she fucking lying to me?
“I’m not lying to you.”
“Your Uncle’s name is-”
I got up from the chair, hung my bag and walked out of the office. And that was the end of it. My therapist spoke to my mother before she drove me home. My next session is supposed to be in three weeks but I won’t be going. Like I said, I’ll be dead by then.
I’m sure my therapist must have told my mother all about what I said and she would have told my father. And it won’t take long before word reaches Their ears that a boy knows something that he is not supposed to know. Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe it’s better. I’m going to stop here and go to sleep. If I’m lucky, I’ll be dead before I wake in the morning.