The Grace by Owolusi Lucky
The fluttering window blinds cast a shadow that spooked Chukwu. He looked through the window, a mountainous wall of trees stood outside the cottage covering the face of the moon. The creaking floorboard at the door and howling that followed made him jump in his skin. He crawled on all fours towards the kitchen, grabbed his Bible on the couch and held it like a shield as he hid under the table. From the entrance, cockroaches started flooding in, climbing his night gown. He cursed, banging his head on the table, crashing the flower vase.
He crawled towards the stairs hoping to escape the insect invaded floor. He dropped his Bible behind on the moonlit floor as he gathered his long gown in his hands to freely move his legs.
The windows shattered in their jaws and the wind howled an eulogy of doom, cold pierced his spine. Each breath suffocated by a gasp as he ran to the window to defenestrate himself and trust to the wind. But the window closed its teeth like it had a mind of its own.
Cold travelled from the floor below and gripped him in chains, like the door of Hell had just been opened and a creature of night had gotten loose, coming for his soul.
He pushed the window with all his might but thew of evil upheld his jaws, closing all hope of escape. To the step he ran, but a noxious odor of rotten horror choked him. Then he saw the eyes of Hell into which no soul ever gazed, saw the light of day in the middle of his living room, glaring at him.
It crawled on all fours looking up like a giant hound in hope of bones, cloaked in a rag of ageless fabrics that clumped around its contoured frame. Its claws curved like eagles, black like night, its tongue rested between blade-like jaws, but its eye desired soul and to make a cadaver for its evil claws.
He whizzed down the steps to the back door. The thing made an unholy leap and stood between him and the door, sweat blurred his vision and his heart beat like a drunkard’s drum He walked with his back to the kitchen door, hoping to escape. The creature rose to its fullest height, a grin of death crossed its unholy face, murk oozing from his mouth, delighting in its own grandness, before it howled and rushed at him. He jumped away just in time as the creature crashed into the kitchen tables filled with knives, and its body was riddled with blades. It roared in agony and turned to face him once again.
The creature removed the blades one by one, black liquid dripping from its side. Each blade it removed clattered to the floor. Chukwu again took to the stairs and removed an axe hanging on the wall. He rushed to the bedroom and locked the door behind him, making a barricade with tables and the bed frame. He knew this would not stop the evil but he held on to hope and started cutting the window, each hole renewing his hope of escape.
Then he heard the angry howl, the creature pounding the steps towards him. With a sweaty face and wet hands he cut the window with renewed vigor, each filtering moonlight promising escape. The creature began to pound on the door, then it stopped and silence reigned for seconds till it appeared right in the room before him and slapped him hard. He flew across the room landing by the wardrobe.
“What is my sin to be visited by the Devil?” he screamed.
The creature stopped in its tracks and hissed a sound that sucked in grace.
“No devil, humans, precious things, weak things that across the land lives. We have come to reap your souls, and purify this planet from your wanton evil,” the creature replied, coming towards him.
“I have done no evil,” he pleaded, swallowing hard.
“Your thought, I can smell them human, and hate behind your pathetic smile!”
The creature looked around the room speaking with conviction as Chukwu cowardly folded into a ball reciting the Grace, his only hope. “Humans, beloved of God,” the creature seemed to laugh, a sound that felt like glass shattering.
The creature sighed, and moved so fast then he appeared above Chukwu. Holding him by the shoulder blade, he raised him to his jaw, a wide gate of spiny teeth; he was shivering, and kicking like a puppet. He was but a feeble doll against the monstrous being. He resigned to teary grace as the jaw struck at his face.
Everything froze to a stop as light shattered the darkness and the windows flapped their wings in freedom. The sweat dried on his face, his legs stopped twitching, his fingers unclenched, his heartbeat regained its rhythm. He felt he was bathed in grace that calmed his spirit. He opened his eyes but was blinded by light and he screamed as the demon dropped him on the floor.
With a growl the demon shouted, “Damn you sons of God!”
He heard the metallic click of a sword leaving its scabbard, he squinted and saw the wings, white as snow, radiating grace.
“Repent or be judged” the angel said in a voice that shook the hammock.
“Repent of what?” the demon hissed as a sword red like burning coal appeared in his hand and a shield of darkness in his other.
He lunged for the angel who struck him with a wing that slammed him back on the wall.
“Repent….” the voice pleaded, like a spring the word flowed forth, a peaceful breeze that smoothened evil.
“Your enchantment will not work on me.” The demon spat and launched again for the angel.
But the celestial steel seemed to have a will of its own as it flew from the angel's hand and stabbed the demon in the chest mid air, pinning him to the wall where he howled in pain as he disintegrated into dust.
“Go and sin no more.” The angel turned to Chukwu as light flooded his vision.
He woke up around 7:00 am on his bed, everything in their places. He fell from the bed out of confusion, looking around without seeing any sign of conflict.
“It’s not a dream,” he shouted as he covered his face with his palm. He looked at his shoulder and saw a painless scar was there. He rushed to the bathroom mirror, removed his clothes and saw it across his bowel.
“I carry the devil mark, a scar of claws even an angel's hand cannot remove,” he said, and burst into tears.
He knew what he had to do, checking his purse in the wardrobe, he grabbed the car key, and drove for an hour thinking about it, and how he found grace like his mother promised.
He parked at the front of a shop where a hooker came out with part of her breast exposed. He entered the dimly lit passage way.
“Hey Chuk,” a prostitute called to him, shyly licking her tongue, “Why so early, horny?”
He smiled at her, waved her away as he continued and entered another room in the corridor.
“I need a tattoo,” he said to a guy cleaning his tools.
The guy came to him without any formality. “What you have in mind Chuks?” he asked with a thick African intonation.
“I need an angel all over my body.”
“You religious now?” he asked in wonderment. “Them bitches gon miss you,” he said with a grin bending over with laughter. When he raised his head, the look on Chukwu's face suggested he wasn't in the mood for humour.
“Alright,” he said and cut the laughter, “here.” He opened a laptop, then a folder titled angels.
Chuks was busy unbuttoning his shirt, getting ready for his tattoo. The tattoo artist stopped mid sentence. He looked at Chuks's chest.
“Shit.” He dropped the laptop and looked curiously at his chest covered with an ugly scar of claws. "Ouch... You really need a tattoo bro, and I gat you angels baby,” he said as he brought the laptop from the table and showed him pictures of angels with their names above.
His only predicament is he doesn't know which angel is watching his back; he has forgotten what his mother always called him in her prayers.