Stories

Mosquito Farm – Adedapo Adeniyi

6:37 pm

The sun is setting and the skies are grey

I look back to see the old man being shoved into the carrier, he looks back at me, I can see the fright in his eyes, he probably smells dead, everything probably smells dead here, thank God I don’t have to indulge in their rotten air, I think everything is dead here.

Ramota walks back towards me

“He’s only been infected for a while, should be easy to treat, keeps repeating ‘Kasali, Kasali’ over and over, not sure if that’s his name or the name of the dead boy we found lying next to him, his son I think,” she says, I didn’t even ask

“Maybe his brain is just fried,” I say to her

All their brains are fried, I think to myself

The Outside, where everything comes to die, or stays to die, a memory of the old world, a world with air that made you see rubbish, made you say rubbish, turned your brains to gutter water, made you deluded and then sick, sick until it killed you, air growing even more toxic with madness and every new death, the accursed infection growing stronger, broken buildings hiding broken people, addicts, a poison to the new world, they are the sins and we are the justice.

“Who is in charge of body control today?” I ask her

“Secondus,” she tells me

“I’ll pray for him tomorrow”

“Very funny, Madam says he’ll be on body control for the next week, punishment for trying to sleep with that girl last week”

“He really needs prayer, I feel bad for him, it’s one thing to kill, and another to have to dispose of dead bodies”

“And another to want to fuck them, which is worse,” I wince when she says that

“She wasn’t dead when he wanted to”

“Yeah but he thought she was, I don’t get it, why would Madam give him body control when he seemingly has a thing for them?” she asks

“Maybe she thinks if he sees enough of them, he’ll stop being attracted to them”

“Hmm I hear you, or it’s just his wet dream, imagine how happy he must be right now, all those corpses around him, did you hear what they said he said when Madam asked him why he wanted to do it?”

“What?”

“He said there was something about her just lying there, not moving, her eyes were open and her skin was cold, there was something strangely erotic about it, her lifeless appearance, that’s what made him take his pants off”

“Jesus Christ”

We live in a world of monsters

“Sex with his wife must be fun huh”

“I’m telling you, everyday it’s getting worse, who knows how many of them get off on dead people, or you know, people who appear dead, what happened to sex being between two people who are alive, what happened to sex helping people feel alive?”

“Maybe they like being the only ones that feel alive”

“You know what your problem is Ramota?”

“What?”

“You think there’s an excuse for everything, some answer, some justification”

“I’m just saying, some people can’t control how they feel, it’s just who they are, and I’m not saying they’re good or anything, people are people, there’s us, there’s them, there’s people like Secondus, all of us, people,” I stop to look at her, she’s almost never serious, almost always joking, almost always, this time she’s being serious, I need to smoke.

We live in a world of monsters

“Thank you very much, but if you’re going to classify all of us under ‘people,’ then I should probably look for a new term to be referred to as,” I tell her

“You’d think I’d be used to you by now, but I swear every time you open your mouth, something new escapes it, and usually, they aren’t very nice things”

“Well I’m sorry they aren’t nice things, I’m still one of the people, aren’t I?”

She rolls her eyes.

They called us the Kontrol Korps, literally, at least in this side of the world, control measures to ensure balance in what the world today is. There were the Finders, those were in charge of searching for the infected and air addicts living in The Outside, finding them, then the Scanners, those that checked the people to determine the intensity of their infections, and then the Kontrollers, that was my job, we were the group leaders, we were in charge of being in charge, we also took the responsibility of eliminating those that were too infected to be saved, ridding them of their pain and suffering, showing them mercy, they should have just called us The Merciful, and of course a small, less important group of people who had the God awful job of disposing the bodies

We find ourselves standing in front of one of the buildings, one of the Finders approaches us

This one is called Iyke, she’s been on my team for a month, my last Finder got her breather broken by one of the crackheads, she’s in rehab now, imagine getting your breather broken, start seeing double and getting high as you grow closer to insanity and the death of who you once were, I pray Iyke is smart enough to not let that happen to her

“How many?” I ask her

“Two,” she answers

“You’d think there’d be more of them,” Ramota says

“Just two, one male, one female, they’re together too”

“Ah, a couple,” I say

“Or siblings,” Iyke tells me

I need to smoke

“I need to smoke,” Ramota says, I turn sharply to look at her

“What?” she asks

“I was just thinking about that,” I tell her

“Huh, weird, we should go inside”

“Oga should lead the way,” Iyke says, I hate when she calls me Oga.

We walk in, looks like the building we’re in used to be a hospital, looks like it had closed down even before the pollution came, the walls are dirty, marker drawings of decomposing faces, a testament to the insanity that has plagued these lands

“Where are they?” I ask

“Upstairs, third room by the left,” Iyke answers

We climb up the stairs and I pull out my blaster, I hear Ramota pull hers out too behind me, we are walking very silently now, it’s usually easier when they don’t know we’re coming, but I know they know, they always know we’re coming, having to live their entire lives on the edge, running from us, coupled with the constant nightmare they live from being doped up, coupled with the sickness that drains their lives as they continue to live helplessly, helpless and high and on the run, what a life, what a terrible life.

I push open the door and see them, a boy, walking back and forth in the room, saliva dribbling down his mouth, and a girl on the bed

“Iyke”

“Sir”

“They’re kids”

“I can see that sir”

“They are fucking kids, children”

“Then you probably shouldn’t swear in front of them,” Ramota says as she walks into the room and grabs the boy who has now started saying ‘fucking kids’ over and over. She pulls out a scanner and holds it to his head

“What does it say, fried brain?” I ask her

“Haha, very funny, Mr Comedian, he’s infected, but it’s treatable, hasn’t been in his system long,” she tells me

“Thank God for Western medicine,” Iyke says

“Thank God,” I repeat

“And now for you,” Ramota says as she walks to the bed where the girl is, Iyke is holding the boy, he doesn’t even try to run, even the children aren’t exempted from being possessed by the madness, I walk over to Ramota to take a look at the girl

“Ugh, she doesn’t look too good, how’s it looking for her?” I ask, Ramota doesn’t say anything back, I look at her

“Ramota!” I call her name, she slowly turns back to look at me

“Y-Y-Yes?” She is shaking when she says this, there is fear in her eyes

“What is it?” I ask her

“Sh-She is infected”

“Okay?”

“She won’t make it,” and as soon as she says this I know

“You have to do it”

“No, no, no, there has to be a way, are you sure?” I ask, I don’t know if I can do it

“I’m sure, she’s too far gone, you have to kill her”

I can’t kill her

“I can’t kill her”

I can’t kill a child

“I can’t kill a child,” I back away from the bed

The boy Iyke is holding has stopped saying ‘fucking kids’ and has transferred to ‘kill a child, can’t kill a child’ with a smug look on his face like he’s mocking me

I’m trying not to kill your sister, you retard fuck

Ramota stands up and walks to where I am, her face is very close to mine, our breathers are almost touching

“Jomi, you have to kill her, she is in pain, a lot of it, it is our job, our job to show them mercy, if she was any older, she’d have been begging you to shoot her, in her eyes I saw suffering, she is tired of it, there is no hope for her, you have to do it”

“I’ve never killed a child before, I’ve killed people, many people, but never a child,” I tell her

“Well there’s a first fucking time for everything”

“Look who’s swearing in front of children now”

I walk to the girl, her eyes are open, she is staring at the ceiling, there are dried trails around her eyes, she has been crying, she has been crying a lot, I take her hand and hold it, she turns to look at me, she shuts her eyes and opens it back, I am unsure if she is trying to thank me or she just wants me to get over with it. I raise my blaster to her head, her brother sees this and stops repeating words, there is silence, I look back to see that Ramota has turned her back to us, the boy opens his mouth as he stares at me, Iyke has closed her eyes, I look back at the boy, his mouth still wide open, he is screaming but no noise is coming out of his mouth, nothing at all, I look back at the girl, she is still staring at me

And

Then

I

Shoot

That’s when the screaming starts, I hear it now, we all do, it doesn’t stop, ringing on forever, Ramota takes a cloth and covers the girl’s body, when we get outside, she will call Secondus to have one of his workers come and retrieve her body, she places her hand on my shoulder for a while before walking out, I look at the wall in the room we’re in and staring back at me is one of the grotesque marker drawings, this one eerily resembling the girl whose life I just took, whose life this cruel world took from her as soon as she was born, hell, even before she was. The boy has stopped screaming but the ringing continues.

We live in a world of monsters

I walk out of the room and Iyke follows behind me with the boy, who is now silently sobbing, we get outside to meet Ramota, who by the looks of it needs air, not the one The Outside has to offer, and not the one we’re taking in through our breathers

“Let’s go,” I tell her

We start to walk towards the carrier, I can still hear the ringing, I can still see her eyes, the look she gave me before she died, I can still see the eyes of the drawing on the wall. The look she gave me after she died, I can still hear her brother saying ‘kill a child, can’t kill a child,’ I can still see his mouth open, soundless, like a void, like it was waiting to receive her soul after death.

“But why didn’t he just hire an ashewo and pay her to do anything he wanted?, nobody would judge him for that,” I say

“What are you talking about?” Ramota asks

“Secondus,” I tell her

“Oh,” she says and then continues

“We live in a world of monsters”

I need to smoke.

Eko Futura, where the air is good, sanity is at an all time high, and where life comes to keep living.

The capital Futura city in all of Africa, there is one like this all around the world, this one was in Lagos. They started as camps, when the air around us seemed to evolve into deadly hallucinogens, and the oceans started to dry up, and the people started to break out with a mysterious illness that would kill if immediate treatment wasn’t applied, that was 11 years ago. And then they grew into settlements, houses with strict quarantine measures, the risk that came with going outside was madness and death. Then came the breathers, masks that filtered the air and made it pure, breathable, righteous, an innovation, hope that we could go back to living as we did before, but we all knew that would never happen, this was our life now, and we had to look only to the future. The future that is now, monochrome cities with advanced societal structures, the walls keeping us safe from the air, a world fallen apart outside, a world coming together inside, a world of hope and health.

So far everything had been going well, structure and order ruled over all, Eko Futura was thriving and the world was finding itself again.

The first thing I did after going through the cleansing wash and submitting my report to Madam was go home and smoke, one thing that most of us found ourselves unable to grasp was the urge to smoke, and even with the restriction of not being able to smoke in The Outside because we had our breathers on, in all the Futura’s around the world, the streets were overrun with people with cigarettes in their mouths. At first it posed a health and societal risk, contaminating the lungs and also Futura’s pure air, but soon, with modifications made to the cigs and new medical equipment that cleansed the lungs, we could all smoke ourselves to shit.

I did a lot of smoking myself to shit.

And then the day passed.

 

 

It was my day off, usually I’d take my cruiser and go to The Outside, specifically to where the beach used to be, sit down and stare out to endless clear land then leave after a while back to the comforts of Eni and her arms, but today instead of going home, I decided to roam around these desolate streets of what Lagos used to be, the dying buildings of the 1004 estate, broken down, cracks everywhere, and vines, growing all around the buildings, like the souls of the houses didn’t agree with death and decided to come back in some other form to rebuild themselves, to rebirth themselves, I look up, being in the midst of all these tall buildings made me feel rather claustrophobic, but I also got some release from it, the world seems so big, I was just a small part of it, but a part nonetheless.

I had a friend who used to live here, and as I walked around the expectedly dead streets, I couldn’t help thinking about her, her thick dreads and black eyes, her brown skin and soft fingers, I hadn’t seen her since the outbreak, I figured she was dead or in some other Futura, I looked up again, to say a prayer. I kept my gaze, not because of the ‘big universe, small Jomi’ realization, no, above the buildings, I watched flying danfos zoom past, it was a Saturday, the buses were undoubtedly filled with travelers, those who couldn’t afford to travel by the planes, or didn’t have their own cruisers, or just enjoyed this mode of travel better, and traders, people who scoured The Outside for things they could take back to Futura and sell to enthusiasts of relics from the dystopia that is the old world, business between people exploiting the past and people who couldn’t let go of it.

The walls are covered with paintings, mostly of faces, distorted and hideous, works of art by the deranged, they were everywhere, and even though 1004 was one of the places we’d cleared of any infected people, the memories of what went on in their heads would live of these walls forever, I could only imagine what they were subjected to seeing everyday that compelled them to project it as these portraits.

I see one that looks like the terror of the end of the world, it has eyes that stare back, it feels live and it smells like death, we are both frozen in time as everything around us falls apart and yesterday I killed a child and so today it will kill me. I am jolted back to reality, I walk away from it feeling cold and violated.

I sit at the edge of one of the buildings staring at the basketball court in front of me, weathered and covered in dust and rust, the emptiness around me seems to be a reflection of what I feel inside, but before I have any more time to ponder my problems, I catch a moving shadow at the corner of my eye, I turn back to catch a face staring at me from a corner, it is only half a face but enough for me to see that it doesn’t have a breather on, I stand up as the figure gasps and starts to run, I chase after.

We find ourselves running in circles, roaming a maze, it is one of them, an infected, how could the Korps have missed them? running around these buildings, I find myself growing tired, I was supposed to be off duty today, I wasn’t supposed to be chasing somebody around tall buildings today. I run into a corner, trailing the figure behind, I stop, where are they? I can’t see anybody at all, I look back, that’s when I get hit.

I find myself on the floor, struggling to open my eyes, the figure is standing on top of me, staring at me, the first thing I see are the eyes, her eyes, it is a lady, her eyes are black, I know those eyes, her skin is brown, I know her skin, she touches my forehead.

“Are you okay?” she asks

Her fingers are soft, I know those fingers

I widen my eyes and see that her hair is bald

What happened to her hair, her thick dreads?

Where did it go?

“Where did it go?”

“What?” she asks, I must sound worse than I think I do

“Where did your hair go?”

“That’s the first thing you ask me?”

Aminat

“Mina?”

“Hi Jomi”

She reaches for my face, I wait for her fingers to touch my cheek, for her soft touch again, but I feel them on my breather.

I am awake.

I push her off of me.

“What were you trying to do?” I ask her

“Please let me show you,” she says

“Show me what?”

“The truth”

“What truth?”

She lunges forward at me, I am prepared, I catch her as our bodies collide, I hold her tight and turn my head to her ear

“What truth?”

She starts to laugh

What’s funny?

“What’s funny?” I ask her

She just keeps laughing

“What’s so fucking funny?”

She just laughs, on and on and on

And that’s when I realize

“You’re insane, just like the rest of them, you’re crazy”

She stops laughing then

“Don’t call me crazy, don’t ever call me crazy!”

She thrusts her leg forward, brings it back and hits me right where my balls are, I moan in agony as I let her out of my hold, she turns back and jumps on top me, I am on the ground again, she is on top of me again, she pins down both my arms with her knees and reaches for my breather, she pulls it off as I struggle and turns my head to Eko Futura, I hold my breath so I don’t take in any of their ungodly air, she sees this and holds me still, as if to challenge how long I can hold my breath for, I keep fighting but she has obviously overpowered me. I contemplate a trick move that’ll get her off of me, but to do it I’ll have to breathe out, a risk I’m willing to take if it’ll mean I can escape her.

I focus all my weight into my left and as I breathe out, I push her off of me, I hear her body hit the ground and I scramble over to my breather, I put it on immediately and breathe in, the leftover air  that’s in the breather makes its way into my nostrils and then into my lungs, they then make a sharp turn and head straight from my brain. It is as if the world has been pulled from underneath me, I can hear everything contort, it is as if all the color has been sucked from the world and then poured back into it, I look at Mina as my head starts to hurt, she points at Eko Futura and I look there. There’s nothing there, where did it go? I look back at Mina and she isn’t there too

“Jomi”

I hear her call my name, I turn back and she isn’t there

“Jomi”

I turn again, nothing again

“Jomi”

I am starting to panic, there’s nothing anywhere, only the ruins of The Outside

“Jomi”

This time it isn’t Mina’s voice, it’s the girl, the little girl, the girl I killed yesterday, I am afraid to turn, I do not want to see her, I am even more afraid I’ll see nothing

I turn and am met with a face, the face I saw on the hospital wall after I killed her, the one that looked terribly like her, I wonder if it really is her and I have gone insane and my insanity has exaggerated her face, my body starts to shake, it starts to shake violently and it starts to grow, and the world is now small and I am big, bigger than everything, even as I’m being torn apart.

And then the other face from the wall on the building only minutes before I start chasing Mina, if I thought it was alive then, I don’t even know what to think now, it is moving and it sees me and it wants to engulf me whole and spit out my soul and then engulf my soul and spit out death.

I fall into my own emptiness.

I wake up and she is on top of me again, I push her off, she doesn’t fight back this time, my head still aches, everything is tilting as I try to find my balance

“What was that?” I ask her and I stand up

“The truth”

“What truth?”

“The truth of everything, what the world really is”

“You’re lying, you’re crazy”

“Oh yeah of course that’s what you think that was”

I start to walk away from her, I’d have taken her in but I fear I am too weak, and my mind is still unclear as to everything that just happened

“That was the truth Jomi!” she yells after me

“You’re living a lie Jomi!” she continues

“You’ll come back Jomi!” she continues

“I’ll be waiting Jomi!”

I start to run.

 

Eni comes home late today, I spend the rest of my day on the bed, unable to sleep, unable to be calm or think straight.

What was Mina talking about?

What truth?

I can’t get the girl’s face out of my head

Oh God I’m a monster

I start to sweat, I have to go to the hospital soon

I am afraid

What if I’m infected now?

What am I going to do?

What truth?

I’m going to lose my job

What truth?

Eni will leave me

What truth?

I’m going to kill myself

WHAT FUCKING TRUTH?!

I stand up and go to the kitchen for a glass of water, every time I close my eyes, I see the girl’s face, and Mina

What happened to her hair?

Her beautiful hair

It’s gone now

Everything is gone now

My life

I am a finished man.

I drag myself to the living room, put on the TV and let it play white noise

Eni walks in, whatever dread I had of losing her disappears in that moment as she comes to where I’m sitting, hugs me and kisses my cheek, she smells of chlorine, somebody’s been swimming.
She places her hand on my chin and tilts it up so she can see my face.

I’m looking into her eyes, she’s looking into me

“What’s wrong babe?”

Of course she knew something was wrong immediately

I just stay there, holding her, I don’t know what to tell her, I don’t know where to start

“My whole life might apparently have been a lie, but you aren’t, and that makes everything okay,” I tell her

It doesn’t 

I bury my head in her chest

And then I start to cry.

What truth?

I need to smoke.

 

I spend the entire night awake, Eni is asleep right next to me, her hand across my chest, I am restless.

My head is clouded, I cannot think, I cannot not think, the girl, the faces, Mina. I am constantly reliving those few seconds when my mind got invaded by the poison, I am stuck in this nightmare, even worse, I am stuck in this nightmare yet I am awake, this isn’t one of the bad dreams you wake up from.

Where did Futura go?

I found sleep for 5 minutes when Eni woke me up. She was going to church, she asked if I was okay, I smiled at her and said I was, I wasn’t, she smiled back, I know she didn’t believe me, she knew me enough to know I’d tell her everything soon enough, she kissed my forehead and told me there was rice in the pot and that she’s going to her sister’s place after the service, oh yeah, her sister with the pool

I should think of getting a new place, one with a pool, maybe she wouldn’t go to her sister’s place so much, maybe she’d never leave me

What are you thinking?

What is wrong with you?

Where did Futura go?

I hold her hand one last time before she goes

One last time

Shut the fuck up!

I tell her I love her but I don’t say it with words

She says it back 

She walks out the door but comes back for a brief second to tell me our neighbors moved abroad and she just found out this morning

Abroad

One of those words that kept recurring

A lot of people had been moving

It was something I’d have to consider, moving abroad, away from all this

Yes

Away from Eni’s sister, and to a house with a pool, you’d never lose her

Never

My mouth starts to curve into a smile before I realize it

I am losing my mind.

 

I take my cruiser and drive around the city, it is quiet on mornings like this, half the people are in church and half of the half that aren’t in church are sleeping, you’d think I’d find peace on a day like this, that’s where you’re wrong, actually

I feel like I’m dying

Faces Faces Faces

And the paranoia, I am small again and the world is overwhelming

 

I am in a kaiju film surrounded by skyscraper sized monsters, except all the monsters are me and they’re having an orgy and they’re(I’m)really sweaty and as I watch them from below, the sweat drips down and falls on me like rain, but it isn’t sweat, it is tears because I am crying because Eni’s gone and my eyes hurt because all I can see was the girl I killed the girl I killed the girl I killed the girl.

 

 

I guide my cruiser down, park somewhere and decide to take a walk, I need the air

Nothing is real, you are dead and God has graced you with posthumous living.

I walk to the church, thankfully they’ve just concluded the service and everyone’s heading home, they’re all rubbing their fingers together or gently brushing their index fingers on their lips

They need to smoke

I need to smoke

Wait

I don’t 

I stop walking

Why don’t I need to smoke?

Where did Futura go?

“Pastor, I need to talk to you”

He is staring at one of the church’s paintings, she looks at me

“You’re sweating, go and wash your face, then come back”

I walk to the toilet to rinse my face, I bend to the sink and let the water run over my face, it is cold, my eyes are closed and everything is black, my ears are open but I can’t hear anything, not even the running water of the thumping in my chest, this is what peace feels like

I keep my eyes closed as I turn off the water and raise my head up, I open my eyes and find myself staring into the mirror, but it isn’t my reflection staring back at me in the glass

It’s the painting, the one from the walls, the one from yesterday, the one that came after her death and before mine

I cannot even scream, I cannot even cry, I cannot even be terrified again, everything is a lie and I will die.

“I need your help, please,” I plead to the pastor

“You weren’t in the service today, I’d assume this was because of the problem you need help with, isn’t it?,” he asks

“Yes Pastor”

“Well what’s wrong then?”

Where do I start?

“Ok, well I think I’m dying,” I tell him

“Why is that?”

“Because everything is a lie”

“Why is that?”

“I killed someone, a girl”

“Why did you kill her?”

“Because she was infected and couldn’t be saved”

“Everybody can be saved”

“Yes yes, what I meant to say is that she couldn’t be cured of her sickness”

“You’re a Kontroller?”

“Yes Pastor”

“And this is the first time you’ve killed?”

“No, but I hadn’t killed a child before”

“How’d that make you feel?”

“Like I died with her”

“And that’s why you feel like you’re dying”

“No”

“Why then?”

“Because everything is a lie”

“Oh yes, you said that already, why do you think that?”

“Yesterday I went to The Outside and I was taking a walk and I saw this painting on one of the walls that looked like one of the most horrifying images I’d ever seen in my life and then I saw one of my old friends, my old best friend actually and she attacked me and took off my Breather and when I put it back and took a breath, I saw things, I saw things Pastor”

“What did you see?”

“I saw the girl I killed, and the face from the wall, and this other one from the room where I killed the girl and they were alive, all of them, but it felt like they didn’t like the fact the fact that I was, so they wanted to kill me”

“What else did you see?”

“What else? oh my friend, I don’t know if I should call her my friend actually, she pointed to Eko Futura but when I looked to where it usually is, it wasn’t there, there was nothing there”

“It was gone?”

“Yes, everything was gone, fresh air, my girlfriend, hope and the future and everything good and life, they were all gone”

“But as you can see, we are in Futura, everything is still here”

“Yes, I can see that, but it doesn’t feel like it”

“And you are unsure as to whether you are losing your mind or if everything is actually happening”

“Yes Pastor”

“And this uncertainty is making you paranoid and that’s why you think you’re dying”

“Yes Pastor”

“Hmmm”

“I need your help Pastor”

“What do you want me to help you with?”

“The truth, what is it?”

He stops walking for a second, I stop and look back to where he’s standing, he starts to walk again.

“Well you see, I cannot tell you what is truth and what isn’t, only you can tell yourself that”

“What can you tell me then?” I ask him

“You know one of the problems of religion? the subjectivity of truth, that what might be absolute truth to someone is an absolute lie to someone else, that belief is dependent on the person and their idea of what is and what isn’t, if a lie is allowed entertainment for even a second, it starts to grow into truth and once it becomes truth, the root of the tree that was lie turned truth is cut away and there’s only the tree that is truth now, the same goes for a truth turned lie too”

He stops walking again and then continues

“That’s one of the reasons why all the Futura’s have android pastors,” he tells me

I knew the Futura’s had android pastors, but I’d never bothered to ask why, I’d never bothered to even think why

“Really?”

“Yes, we are incapable of doubt and can believe in God absolutely, it is our chosen truth, if the people will accept a truth to be absolute, then they must be led by people, or in this case, machines who have only that absolute truth, we cannot be corrupted, we cannot lie to the people for personal belief, we are void of the flesh, the main flaw of humanity and its past pastors”

He stops again, I look back at him, he is staring at me, I look to his forehead and see the cross carved into it, I stare at it and I could swear I felt God staring back at me through it.

“You are the only one who can convince yourself what is true and what isn’t, it is something you must figure out on your own, I cannot tell you what your reality is as it isn’t different from mine, all I can say is you have to find the root and cut it so the tree, whether it be that of the lie or the truth is all that remains”

‘What does that mean Pastor?” I ask him

“You have to go back and talk to your friend”

He starts to walk

Our conversation has ended

I am left behind.

I am wandering the streets of 1004 again, retracing my steps back to the basketball court where Mina saw me

The sun is setting, it is cold

I feel an unease growing in me, growing ever since I left the Pastor, even since I left Eko Futura, my head hurts

I get to the wall where the face was but there’s nothing there, at first I am confused, I start to question my sanity, it’s all I’ve done since Friday really, but then I start to laugh

Maybe the reason why the face isn’t on the wall anymore is because I can see it everywhere now.

I find the basketball court and am about to sit and wait for her when the thought occurs to me to go to her old apartment which isn’t far from here, it’s probably where she’s staying anyways

There are writings sprayed on all the buildings

For Sale, Beware of 419

Welcome To Hell

Mechanic
Call 08000000000

Do Not Unirate Here, We Will Kill You

They’re everywhere, in different languages, Pidgin, Igbo, Fulani, they all reek of insanity too, but that’s just what this always was

The most striking one though, written in dark black, is in Yoruba

Eko Ti Baje

Lagos has spoiled

It has, plummeted into ruin, and it’s taking me along with it

I get to her old apartment and push the door open

“Come in, I’ve been waiting for you”

 

“It’s been forever,” she says

This comes after the uncomfortable silence we’ve had to sit through since I walked in

“Yeah, forever,” I say

“How are you?” she asks me

“Look we both know I didn’t come here to catch up”

I am dying

“Fine fine, what is it?”

What is it?

“What is it?!” I say

“You’re asking me ‘what is it?’” I ask her

“You don’t understand, I’m trying to help you,” she says

“Help me how?”

“By showing you the truth”

“What truth?”

“Of everything, the world we live in, the lie you’re living, everything”

“What’s the lie? what did you do to me? why can’t I think straight? what did you show me that day?”

“It’s you fighting your mind, that’s why you’re in so much pain, you have to give into it”

“What did you show me yesterday Mina?” I ask her

“The truth”

“What the fuck is this fucking truth you keep fucking talking about?!”

“Futura”

“What about it?”

“It’s a lie”

“How the fuck is it a lie? I live there”

“You think you live there”

Where did Futura go?

“Where did Futura go?”

“Nowhere, it was never there?”

“What?”

My heart is racing and the world is collapsing around me

“There is no Futura, you’re living in the ruins of Lagos, just like the rest of us”

“No, I am not living like the rest of you, you’re sick, all of you are sick”

“Not all of us, God you are dumb”

“What are you saying?”

“Why do you think we are dying?” she asks

“Because of the air,” I tell her

“Go on,” she says

“The air makes you all crazy and the craziness leaves you diseased and the infection grows, eating you alive until you’re dead”

This makes her laugh

“What’s so funny?” I ask her

It takes her a while to stop laughing

“No no no, you’ve got it all wrong”

“Explain it to me then”

“Yes, the air does give us paranoia, and makes us see spooky shit, but that’s the least of our problems, no, what’s really wrong is that we live in a mosquito farm, and these insects are the real crazy ones, they’re like fucking mutated, I think it’s the air, and instead of basic malaria that we can take pills and cure, this variant will kill you, there’s no surviving if you get infected”

“But what about the people we save, the ones they tell us can be cured?” I ask her

My heart is racing and my head is pounding and the world is collapsing around me

“Oh they kill them?”

“What?”

“Yep, you’re pretty much saving them so they can go be killed”

“So why have us save them in the first place?”

I am so confused, if I started to vomit a representation of my confusion, I’d never stop

“To give you a sense of morality, to convince you that you were doing some good and not just killing everybody, to give you hope”

My whole life has been a lie

We live in a world of monsters

I am a monster

“Why?”

“Order”

“So-so-so, if there is no Futura, why aren’t we dying from the infection too?”

Aha

Let’s see her answer this one

“Think Jomi, where do you think all the people going ‘abroad’ are going to?” she asks

“Another Futura”

“Oh yeah, like that’s the perfect cover up, another Futura, no they’re getting killed, it’s easier for them to monitor infection levels in your faux city so as soon as anybody gets infected, they take them away and tell you all that they’ve gone abroad”

My heart is racing and my head is pounding and the world is collapsing around me and I am dying

“Why?”

“Order”

What order?

“What order?”

“To give off the impression that they have everything under control, we out here get to die in pain and insane, you get to die happy and hopeful, but at the end we’re all dying”

I say nothing, I am processing, I am doing an awful job of processing, my brain is on fire, this is all too much for me, she continues

“The Breathers keep you from the toxic air so at least you’re sane but what they do is project to you the vision of a city that doesn’t exist, and the smoking is mosquito repellant, brain implanted chips that make you do it obsessively, but once you breathe in the air, the chip is fried, you haven’t smoked since yesterday, have you?”

“I haven’t”

Eko Futura is a projection 

A hallucination

A lie

“It’ll be very hard to want to again”

“The mosquitoes”

My heart is racing and my head is pounding and the world is collapsing around me and I am dying and there is no going back

“They’d have gotten to you eventually anyways”

“Oh God, I’m going to die”, I can’t breathe

“Wait, not all of us can get infected, some of us are immune, why do you think I’ve survived this long?”

Is this hope?

“What are you saying?”

“Some of us can’t get infected, that’s how we’ve evaded being found for so long”

“That makes sense”

“You have to see it again”

She reaches for my face but I move away

“Why?”

“Because you have to make a choice and you can’t make a choice if your head is clouded,” she tells me

My heart is racing and my head is pounding and the world is collapsing around me and I am dying and there is no going back but there’s a choice?

“I can go back?” I ask her

“You can always go back Jomi, I just needed to show you, you can’t live a lie forever,” she says

“Fate brought us together again so I could show you this, we didn’t just bump into each other by accident,” she tells me

Why did I ever leave her?

Because you found Eni

Eni

“I have to go, I need to go to Eni,” I stand up

“If you wanted to go, you’d have left already”

“Then why haven’t I?”

“Because a part of you wants to know, and you know the headaches won’t stop if you don’t open yourself again, stop fighting”

“But what if when I stop fighting, I never want to go back?”

“That’s a choice you’ll have to make Jomi”

What is my truth?
What is my lie?

I start to walk around the room, my head hurts my head hurts my head hurts

I can’t stop thinking about Eni

I can’t stop thinking about the face on the wall

Both images are superimposing and I hate it I hate it I hate it

My mind is simultaneously shrinking into a single atom and enlarging to a universe, all I see is the face on the wall

Where is Eni?

I take off my Breather, hold my breath, close my eyes and go outside.

I open my eyes when I get outside, I turn to Mina who followed behind me, and then to Eko Futura, it is still there in all its glory, Eni’s still in there somewhere

I breathe in

It disappears instantly, I start to panic, I feel the rush of everything

The girl I killed, her brother and his void scream, the painting on the wall hovering above her corpse, the face on the wall, Eni and her face melting into rot, horror and its overwhelm, these images toss me around, I can smell death, I can feel her around me, the world is big and I am small and my being is fading into darkness

I must go back to Eni

I must stay, I cannot lie to her, I cannot kill her

I am living a lie but she is my life but she is true

I hear the boy’s scream coming from everywhere as I am sucked it, torn apart again

I shut my eyes, I shut my eyes tight until I can see nothing, until I can hear nothing, until I feel nothing, until I am unsure as to whether my own self is nothing

Quiet nothingness

“Jomi”

I hear Mina’s voice

I open my eyes and turn to her

The words come out of her mouth, they are slow, I cannot hear them but I see what she’s saying

I have to make a choice

“You have to make a choice.”