Michael and the First Hilltop Mystery

This is a little children’s story I wrote a while back….. its a little longer than I intended.

One of these days I’ll have it illustrated….. Tim Burton style 🙂

Enjoy

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Once upon a time…

Scratch that….

A few years ago, there was boy named Michael who loved his family very, very much.

He had an older sister Anka who had a really big afro and taught him how to play the piano. She was 20 years old and in her second year at the university. Then there were his parents, his Dad who was a very tall, slim man  with a deep laugh and a an even deeper love of football, and his Mum who was short, had long hair and preferred to be described as petite.

Together, they lived in their house at the top of a hill in Enugu. They had very few neighbours and so everyone knew each other well. There was Mr. Nnanno who lived right next to them with his wife and six children. Michael had once overheard his mother tell his father something about “women who are constantly pregnant” when discussing Mr. Nnanno’s family but didn’t think too much of it – it was fun having children in his age range to play with.

Further down the road was the new family. Michael asked his Mum once if a family could be a family without a child when he saw them move in. His mum had smiled and told him in that small voice of hers

‘Of course they can Mika, and besides they are young I’m sure they’ll have one pretty soon’

Michael had hoped so because earlier that day he’d been slapped by one of Mr. Nnanno’s brood.

There was the Nosike’s who lived after the bend and claimed to be ‘rural urban farmers’, the Fishers whose Proffessor father taught at Anka’s university and then the Mendin’s – a single mother with two teenage boys.

Everyone got along until the empty house far down the winding road got a new resident.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

He’d come to their house to introduce himself

“My name is Ekan” he said with a strange look on his face.

His skin was ashy and he moved funny and Michael thought to himself as he stood there that he looked really weird. In that moment Ekan turned to look at him and grinned.

“You look like a nice boy”

After Ekan left his Michael’s mum ran in to get the Holy water the Reverend Father had distributed last week.

“Tufiakwa, nwa ahu di ka ndi mmuo, that boy looks like one of the spirits”

His father had laughed at her a walked back into his study to continue his work.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

That night, he heard a scream from outside his house and sat up straight in bed. He thought he had imagined it but he heard it again

“aaaaarrrrrggggahhaaaaaa”

He ran down the hall to his parents’ room as Anka had gone back to the university dorms the previous week. He found his parents bolt upright staring at ceiling their eyes glazed over. He tried to shake them awake and for a while they didn’t respond. After a while they got up and began to walk out of their room in that dream-like haze. They walked down the stairs and opened the front door while Michael tried his very best to pull them back.

When the door opened, he saw Ekan standing there with the other parents in a daze like his own. They were totally surrounded by fog and Ekan smiled at Michael, turned his head to one side and said

“You look like a nice boy”

Michael slammed the door out of fear but remembering his parents had gone out the door opened it again….

THEY WERE GONE.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Michael woke up eager to share his bad dream with his parents when he realized he had slept on the floor in front of the front door. He ran upstairs to check on his parents to find they were really gone and it wasn’t a dream he then ran next door to the Nnanno’s and found all six children huddled on the floor; some awake and crying, the others sleeping or just staring into space. He got them some water to drink and asked them what happened.

Kaima who was a year older than him at 10 described what had happened the night before – from the scream to their parents walking out and to seeing Ekan at their door. Michael called the other houses on the landline and when their stories matched, invited them over to the Nnanno’s.

Michael then called his sister and tried to explain what happened

“Bia Michael kusi akuko a kita, I ga egbum o, stop this story of yours you’ll kill me” she answered laughing

The connection was weak as they lived so far away

“Ka, I’m serious Ekan came and there was a fog and he took all the parents an…”

“See this boy trying to scare me with the story of Atanu” he heard her say to someone nearby before laughing again

“I’ve told dad not to let you read so many books. I’ve got to go now love I’ll buzz you in the evening” and with that she hung up.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Michael drop the receiver back on its cradle and turned to find everyone still huddled but feeling a little better since Ms. Mendin’s usually aloof teenage sons we retaking care of everybody. He walked up to Gozie the older one and asked

“Do you know anything about Atanu?”

Gozie said he didn’t and Michael explained his conversation with his sister.

Gozie turned to the eldest of the Nnanno children Ana who was 12 and asked if her dad had a computer.

A few minutes later, Gozie , his brother Andrew and Ana were huddled at the screen reading about the legend of Atanu while Michael read out loud,

“According to the legend, Atanu is a spirit that hates humans. He appears mostly in remote settlements and only attacks an area once the rare Adana tree is grown. It is said it captures the older humans and hides them away for 4 days after which he goes after the younger ones and hides them separately he then plays a flute made of pure gold that saps the life out of everyone”

They were afraid now and looked to each other for comfort. Michael continued reading

“The only way to stop him is to play a song that negates his existence” Michael completed

“No other information?” This from Andrew

“None, except this picture of an Adana tree” replied Michael.

They went back to the living room as Mr. Nnanno’s cuckoo clock ‘cuckooed’ at 4pm.

Michael thought he finally understood what his father had meant when he used the word ‘ominous’

Gozie was organizing the younger children when Ana suddenly shrieked.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“I have the answer! I have the answer!!!” she said running to where Andrew was making Michael a snack.

“What’s the opposite of humans?” she asked

Gozie shook his head “Animals? Humans have no opposites”

“Yes they do” smiled Ana

“Spit it out already” This from Andrew

“Death” Ana replied

They all paused for a minute thinking about it and Gabriel smiled

“It hates humans because they’re alive”, he said

“Exactly”

“I hope you’re right”

Michael took a while to let the conversation go on over him trying to process this new idea – humans being the opposite of death.

“But I can’t play any instruments” Ana said

Gabriel said that he could but his guitar got crushed when he sat on it by mistake.

“I can play something” Michael said

“Let’s go to my house quickly” He said

All the children lined up to leave and Gabriel opened the door to meet a heavy, damp fog. There was Atanu’s voice echoing over and over

“Youuuuuuu’rrrrrreeee neeeexxxxxtttttttttt”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The children ran over to Michael house as the family’s 5pm prayer alarm went off. Michael hit the snooze button and ran to the baby grand piano in his father’s study and started playing a song Anka had taught him a while ago

“It’s called Phoenix” she’d said

“Written by one of the great minds out of the South Republic, Mr. Sole Nakilupo” she continued while playing with her eyes closed

When she’d finished as with all her lessons she’d proceeded to explain the story and had concluded by saying

“So Mika basically the story is there’s death in life and life in death and none rules the other and only God chooses”\

Michael closed his eyes and played with all his might and memory – he hoped the distraction in form of iced cream the day of that lesson would not cause him any problems.

Suddenly, as he played, the wind whirled and whirled and it carried a voice into the house

“whhhhaaaaaatttt areeeeeee yoooouuuuuu doooooiiiinnnnggggggggggg”

“stttttaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhpppppp nnnnooooowwwwww”

Some of the younger kids promptly passed out while the older ones held on to them bracing against the wind. Michael played and played until everything went black.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Michael woke up to voices near his head

“Mika wake up, Ma can you believe this boy dozed off while sitting”

“Ah Anka be easy on him please” his mother replied walking past

By now Michaels eyes were clear and staring at his sister. He then burst out with his story telling her every detail as his sister looked at him.

“I nu kwa, such a strange story” she said

“Pay attention, I was telling you about this piano piece called the Phoenix” she continued facing the piano again

Michael wondered if it had all just been a bad dream and perhaps he should just go upstairs and rest. He was about to say so to his sister when he looked across the road to see a fallen Adana tree.

Michael then turned to the piano and thought it best to absorb as much of this lesson as he could.

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About Jade

artist, architect, lover of music and gadgets.....

7 comments

  1. Shkendija Qarabag

    “Michael woke up eager to share his bad dream with his parents when he realized he had slept on the floor in front of the front door.”
    This made me laugh. Good stuff.

  2. I was certain I’d left a comment.
    @Juachi, awesome story this. I love that it encourages children to learn musical instruments. I love the imagery. It’s an all-round gem. *thumbs up*

  3. I was HOOKED, in fact I read the entire story staring at the screen with my eyes glazed over, (not unlike the charmed parents, lol).

    This beat my childhood Enid Blyton books hands down!!!

    Nicely written, thank you for sharing 🙂

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