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Swing Episode 5: Skirting The Gates Of Heaven And Hell


“You go meet him in the shed. I will lurk outside and check for surprises.” He says.

I look at him “why? Are you scared now?”

“Don’t be silly.” He says “he is an old man, you know. Old men can be very crafty.”

I look towards the shed and take a deep breath. And then I approach the small hut.  I have always been scared of dogs especially once they’ve grown past a certain size.

Approaching this hut for some reason feels like I am approaching a big dog. I just cannot ignore the rising feeling of apprehension welling up inside of me.

“I can feel your fear.” My replica says from behind me “are you sure you are up to this?”

I clench my machete and ignore him as I walk closer and closer to the entrance. This is the entrance to the place, the place where I was supposedly butchered.

I take one last glance at him and hate myself for making such a mistake. But he is no longer standing there. Where has he gone now? I wonder.

But I cannot continue to linger at the door so I walk into the hut.

The hut reeks of animal entrails and faeces and urine I think. How can someone stay in here? The first thing I see is the green raffia mat on which my three captors sat two nights ago…sorry, five years ago.

There are about seven brown cowries strewn across the mat. But the old man is not there. My eyes roam about the room, looking for him.

And then I become stiff when I notice it standing there, the pole I was tied to. I can see the black ropes still hanging off it. I move towards the pole, stepping over small clay pots.

As I stand before the pole, I can almost visualize my severed arm lying on the floor as it did that fateful night.

But my musing is cut short when a movement from behind makes me turn. Well, there stands the old man returning from Lord knows where.

He’s got a white sack in his right hand and the sack is bulging. I don’t even want to imagine what he’s got in that bag.

He stands still, watching me. We both watch one another like enemies at a gunfight. Each one of us is waiting to see who would first pull the trigger.

Finally he moves and enters the hut. He slowly drags his bag to a corner and ties it securely to a mortar.

He then turns to face me.

“Lost one,” he says “how did you find your way here?”

I clench my teeth. I cannot stand the sight of him. I want him to feel pain. With such thoughts, I step closer to him. But as I approach him, he reaches out and picks a staff from thin air.

“Ah Igwere madu. Madu nnem ah. Does this happen? Does the lion’s meal come back to taunt the lion? Can the swallowed egg return to step on the cobra’s tail?” he rants.

I pause, confused. Where did he get the staff from?

“I can see that you are lost. Do not worry, I will show you the way home.” he says and points the sharp end of his staff at me.

“You would do no such thing. You haggard fool.” says the boy who looks exactly like me.

I am surprised to see him standing behind the old man. I mean, I never saw him come into the hut.

The old man for once, genuinely looks like he has seen a ghost. His breath is hitched and his eyes are so wide open like a strangled rat.

His arm is still outstretched towards me so that the staff still points at me. And the arm trembles. Wait a minute, the old man cannot move. He is fixed in that spot, in that posture, like a statue.

“What have you done to him?” I ask the boy.

“Something any ghost worth his salt would know.” The boy says and steps in front of the old man.

He slowly unclasps the witch doctor’s fingers and takes the staff.

“You look pale, old man. What’s the matter, ghost boy got your tongue?” he says to the old man.

The old man’s lips are trembling furiously. It’s like he is desperate to say something.

“Huh? What’s that, I can’t hear you.” the boy says.

He looks towards me “maybe it’s just me. Slade can you hear the old fool?”

I shake my head “umm no. He really should speak up.”

The boy sighs “‘he really should speak up’. That’s the best quip you got. You are no fun at all, Slade” he says and turns back to the old man.

“Alright let’s be clear on this. You are definitely going to die today. But if you co-operate, I promise not to let him kill you.” he says pointing to me

“my buddy Slade here is more of a butcher. He’s got no style at all. I am more imaginative. I promise to chop you bit by bit and somehow keep you alive during the whole process. Your death would be a work of art.”

“Wow, you are really messed up.” I say.

He smirks at me “don’t be a flirt, I’m busy.”

“So what is it going to be, old man?” he continues “ are you going to be a good boy and answer our questions?”

The old man starts to shake his head and grunt. But the way he’s shaking his head, it seems like he’s trying to point at something.

We both get the same clue because we both look to the right, towards the other end of the hut.

What we see makes me almost jump out of my skin.

There is another old man there, patiently watching us. When I say ‘another old man’ I don’t mean a different old man.

I mean, the same way I’ve got a spooky replica version of myself, the old man happens to have one too. And this twin version has been watching us the whole time.

“Lost one,” he says “you surprise me. It took you such a short time to meet your parallel. Most ghosts wander about forever and never evolve.”

I frown. “What are you talking about? Are you saying I’m dead?”

The boy who looks like me, slaps his forehead and grunts.

 “No freaking way. We are not going to endure your stupidity, not now okay? Look you’re not dead.

You are just some freak who happens to be mysteriously alive after having his neck slashed by one of these two.” He says pointing at the two old men

“and I am just your strange twin who you didn’t know you had until this morning. So that’s it. Slade’s not dead at all, you happy now?”

I hiss “what the hell are you, old man? How come there’s two of you?” I ask.

The old man laughed “what two?” he asks rubbing his thumb against his palm as if he’s kind of nervous.

“Umm…” I’m about to say when I glance back.

The other old man, the one my replica somehow fixed in one spot, is no longer there. He’s just vanished.

I glance at the boy “something tells me we are so screwed right now.”

He scratches his head “this witch doctor is not human. He’s dead like me.” the boy says.

I hate it when he says such things because such statements also imply that I’m dead too. And I’m obviously not.

 He notices my tension and glances at me.

“What? Oh I forgot, you’re still going on with the identity crisis bullshit.” He says “you’re like all those cross-dressing wackos, you know. You be like: ‘most people think I’m a ghost but in my heart I know I’m human.’”

I ignore him. My anger is returning. The anger I felt when I first saw the old man walk into the hut with his white sack.

“We came here to kill this witch doctor. Human or no human, he must die.” I say.

My replica smiles “that’s the spirit” he says and walks towards the old man.

The old man edges backwards and suddenly fades away. We can hear his faint laughter as if it is coming from very far away.

“Slade Akintola. Do you think you are the first angry spirit I have dealt with?” He asks from behind us.

I turn to see him standing close to the mat. How did he…?  Evil old man! I lunge; eager to strike him but the boy holds my hand.

“What? Can’t you see that this witch doctor is taunting us?” I yell.

My body is actually trembling with rage. The rage is so consuming, so intense that I am a bit surprised my skin is not giving off smoke.

“Give me your machete.” My replica says to me.

“What?” I yell, roar this time.

But he just snatches the machete from my hand and turns. He makes a quick swing at the air with the cutlass.

“Good, all done.” He says and hands the blade back to me.

“What’s all…” I’m about to say when the old man starts yelling.

I turn to see him dissipating like smoke until he disappears. But the yelling does not end. Now it seems to be coming from behind me.

I turn again to see the old man holding his arm or rather, the bleeding stump of his arm. The other part of his arm is bleeding on the floor.

You are confused, aren’t you? Well that’s okay because this makes no sense to me too.

“What just happened?” I ask the boy who looks like me.

He shakes his head “you are truly as blind as a bat. This witch doctor thought he was crafty.

 Didn’t you notice the way he kept rubbing his thumb against his palm? That’s how they cast spells.

There were never any two witch doctors. He’s just been messing with our minds, making us see things. He must have cast the spell the moment you stepped into the hut.”

I frown and look at the entrance of the hut “no way, I saw him when he walked into the hut. What time did he have to cast spells?”

“Who says he wasn’t in the hut the whole time? Maybe you just didn’t see him because you were already under the spell.” My replica says.

The old man would not stop moaning “Igwere madu oo, igwere oo…how can this be?” he keeps mourning.

That’s when I notice that the sack he’d tied to the mortar is gone. So my replica is right. There was never any old man coming in with a sack.

The witch doctor must have been in the hut when I came in (but his spell made me blind to him) and the one I saw walking in with a white sack must have been the spell deceiving me.

I turn to face the mourning witch doctor.

“Can I kill him now?” I ask the boy.

“Not until he tells me what I need to know.” My replica says and strikes the old man.

“Chineke!” the witch doctor wails as he falls to the floor.

“Old man, why did you kill me and what does my brother have to do with my death?” my replica asks.

The witch doctor ignores the question. He’s busy muttering as if there is someone else in the room with whom he happens to be engaged in deep conversation.

The crimson pool of blood from his bleeding arm keeps extending like a snake and it has soaked his dirty robe.

“He’s not going to tell anything. He knows he is about to die. He has bled so much anyway.” My replica says.

“So he’s useless to us.” I say.

My replica shakes his head “not exactly. I’d just have to find out things the old fashioned way. It is risky though, since he is about to die and I doubt I would have enough time.” He says.

As he says this, his body starts to turn to smoke until he disappears.

“I’m going to meet his soul. If he dies while I’m in there then goodbye because the soul’s departure would pull me with it.”

I nod. It feels weird to talk with someone I cannot see. Now I am left alone with the dying old man.

His stare is vacant but he keeps mumbling. I turn away from him and pace about the small hut. It is easier for me to control myself when I am not looking at the wretch because all I want to do is cut him to bits.

I wonder what Derrick my brother could possibly have to do with the likes of people like this. The desire to unravel the truth greatly burdens me.

I turn back to look on the old man. It frustrates me when I think of the fact that this old man probably has all the answers I seek.

If anything, he would know what happened to the missing five years of my life.

I turn away from him and pace towards the entrance of the hut. Now I am supposed to hinge all my hopes of getting answers on a weird stranger who looks and sounds exactly like me.

The old man starts to groan. I turn and walk back to him. His mumbling has become more fervent. As I gaze on him, something strange happens.

Another him rises up from inside him. Don’t be mad but I cannot think of a less crazy way to say it. Look there’s another old man rising up from the dying old man. I hope that simplifies it.

This second him appears to be weightless because it just floats up towards the ceiling of the hut. And then I see my replica floating out of the old man too. They’re both headed for the ceiling.

“Slade, pull me back!” my replica yells to me.

I quickly rush to hold him by the heels before he rises too far. But weirdly enough, when I try to grip his ankles, my hands pass right through.

“Not like that, you idiot. Use your other form, you have to vibrate.” He says as he keeps rising higher and higher. The old man has disappeared. Okay not disappeared, he just went through the hut’s roof.

“Vibrate!” my replica yells as he too floats through the ceiling of the hut so that they both disappear.

I look down on the old man. He no longer mutters and he no longer moves. The witch doctor that killed me is dead.

 I have to vibrate. I have to know what my replica knows. I run out of the hut and look up towards the sky.

Yes I can see them, still rising like kites. They’re so high up that I have to place my hand over my brows to shield my eyes from the sun’s glare.

“Slade!” my replica yells but his voice is so faint.

“I can do this,” I mutter to myself “yes I can.”

I take a deep breath and run as fast as I can. I run through the dry field and I don’t slow down even when I approach the bramble.

In fact I run even faster so that I am poised for a head- on collision with the thorny bramble that surrounds this hut.

It is very unsettling because the bramble’s spikes are long and sharp and unfriendly. To worsen things, I slip on the grass so that the fall launches me head first, eyes-wide open, towards the spiky thorns.

Oh no! I shut my eyes tightly as my whole body prepares to be ripped.

But no spike pierces me. I open my eyes to see that I am falling through the bramble. The thorns are passing right through me without piercing me.

It is like I am not there. It is like I am just a reflection in an otherwise solid world. I have lost my form.

I try to stop the falling but there is nothing for me to hold on to. My hands pass through everything.

Even when I fall out of the bramble, the fall does not stop. My feet sink right through the earth. I claw at the walls of the dark earth, desperate to gain a foothold but this is pointless.

I just keep sinking into the darkness. And as I sink, one thought terrifies me the most. It terrifies me more than the understanding that I am buried in the earth.

This is the idea that I would keep on sinking till I fall into hell.

But all of a sudden the fall stops and I am propelled upwards like a rocket. Soon I find myself rising out of the earth and yet I soar on, rearing up into the sky, over the hut and over the trees.


I can see my replica and the witch doctor a couple metres above me but my momentum does not stop. It appears I would overtake them.

“You have to slow down!” my replica yells.

“What, you think I can control it? You think I’m the one doing this?” I yell back.

The moment I rise to his level, he grabs hold of my wrist so that we rise together and overtake the old man.

“I need you to think of the exact moment you died. At the rate we’re going, we’ll soon be at heaven’s doors and boy, there’s no coming back from that.” He says.

“I never died!” I reply but even as I say that, rapid images flash across my mind’s eye. I am back in the hut again and my three captors are here with me.

I can see the witch doctor cutting off my hand. The images are so bright; they make me blink so that I lose focus.

“No!” I yell, sobbing. It’s like I’m in a bad dream.

The witch doctor pulls out his dagger and makes a quick slash at my neck.

“No! He’s killing me!” I scream out.

Someone holds my shoulder “it’s okay. It’s already happened.”

The hut and my captors fade so fast, I am startled. My replica is standing in front of me, gazing at me. He’s got one arm on my shoulder. I look around feeling quite confused.

“Where are we? I recognise this place.” I say.

“It’s the school.” My replica says.

This is the school. It’s got the same ramshackle buildings. I almost expect to see the red Passat car lying close to the veranda of a dormitory.

“This is where they brought me after the keke rider drugged me.” I say.

“Yes it is,” my replica says.

I turn to him “did you get anything from that devil?”

He shrugs “don’t be in such a hurry. We just escaped the rapture.”




I’m just Samuel, bony faced, laidback, absentminded Samuel. I don’t like to say much, I try to stay out of trouble. Some might say otherwise but that's some for you. Point is we don’t care, let’s just be chill and have fun. So come by whenever and ask me whatever.  It’s our party now and it won't start until your arrival.

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