Excerpt for Omonigho: The marine princess by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

OMONIGHO

By Oselumhense Anetor

Chillouty2j@gmail.com

+234 816 425 4347





Chapter One

Voices

Omonigho heard the sound again. She shriveled closer to the wall of her bedroom. She felt the icy fingers of the cold wall against her left cheek. She quickly removed her face from the wall. Why won't the voices stop? She pressed her forefingers into the holes of her ears, hoping to cut out the sound. But they kept humming inside her skull. Omonigho knew her condition usually worsened at this time of year. It was raining season, and the powers within her grew as the rains fell. Tonight, she had gone to bed wearing many clothes. She had even worn the oversized cardigan her mum had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Yet the chill seeped into her bones, defying the warmth of her many clothes. It felt as though she were naked on a cold harmattan morning. She could hear the rattle of her teeth as they shook to the rhythm of the chill she felt deep inside. The voices called to her again and again. The humming rang clearer and faster. There was something seductive about it; something alluring.

Omonigho had been carrying this burden since she was seven. She had dreamt of a tall beautiful lady in white, under a vast sea. She had even been given a room adorned with jewelries and embroideries, too beautiful to describe. In her dream world, she was a princess; a very favoured one. The Queen had told her that she was privileged to have been chosen among the maidens of her lineage. That dream had been several years ago. When she woke up, she had told her mum about it, but her mum had looked at her with dishonest eyes and told her it was just a dream. Over the years however, Omonigho had come to realise that her dream state was not just a figment of her imagination. In fact, there were times the dream world felt more real than her ordinary world. She had long since come to accept the voices and the dreams as part of her existence.

The voices continued humming inside her head, driving her to ecstasy. Omonigho tried to resist. She knew what would happen once she gave in. She knew she'd be back at her room under the sea, where the Queen sat with reddish eyes, where a mighty serpent kept eternal watch over the ancient book of names and secrets. She needed to fight. She wanted her freedom. She didn't want to go to that place of fear and extreme obedience, at least not tonight. She clutched her pillows in a strangling embrace. But before she knew it, she was carried into the darkness, into layers and layers of waters.

Back in her bedroom, Omonigho rolled unconsciously from her bed onto the floor, her limbs parting and closing as though she were swimming in an imaginary pool of water...

Chapter Two

Sleep

Dawn arrived late the following morning. Mama Omonigho, as she was fondly called by her neighbours, woke up late as well. But she was yet to know. She sat up on her bed and waited for the familiar chime that would signal the early hours of dawn. But the old clock hanging on the opposite wall was silent. Mama Omonigho peered at it from her position, trying to make out the tiny frail hands of the aged thing. But she was unable to see clearly enough. Rays of dawn were yet to illuminate her cluttered room, and she didn't want to make the walk across her room unless she could see a little through the darkness. The lantern that she had kept beside her bed the previous day had gone out, in its thirst for kerosene. Thinking she was probably up too early because of the intense cold and rain of the previous night, Mama Omonigho lay down again. Unknown to her, the old clock hadn't chimed all through the night. It had died noiselessly at midnight.

The rays flooding the room woke Mama Omonigho up. She had dozed off. She jumped up from her bed and instinctively glanced at the clock. "Twelve O' clock?" She muttered to herself in disbelief. She rushed to the window, drew the weary curtains aside and studied the skies. "Oh God", she said again and again. "Oh God, we're late." It was Ewatto market day and she was already supposed to be in the market at this hour. She rushed out of the room. Then she came back, gave the old clock a good shove and went back out. In the silence, the clock came alive and began chiming all the hours it had missed.

***

Omonigho was fuming. She sat on her small throne, inside the chamber of the Queen mother under the sea. The woman wanted her to lead the other girls on a mission that promised to be dangerous. Omonigho was having none of it. How could the Queen mother ask her to go on a mission inside a church again? She hated churches and she didn't like going into them. She had already been to several churches and successfully brought down many men and women of God. Their names were now successfully written in blood on the pages of the ancient book. But each time she went inside a church, something changed within her. It was not a feeling she could describe. The Queen mother should know better than asking her to risk her life continuously in this manner.

"You'll do as I say", the Queen mother bellowed. Her voice rang out like thunder all over the ocean floor. "How dare you question my authority?" Her eyes blazed fire, and the ancient serpent curled and uncurled, sensing the Queen mother's discomfort. The Queen mother knew her little princess was stubborn. But she also knew she could not punish her even if she wanted to. She was a rare child, with all the qualities of destruction etched into her destiny. She had single handedly accomplished many more missions than all her other maids put together. Her position was not just bestowed; it had been written in the sacred books many years before she was born. She was a maid with 'extra grace'. So she could misbehave a little now and then, knowing she could get away with it. The Queen mother let her temper recede. "Don't worry my princess. You'll be safe. I'll make sure of it".

Omonigho kept quiet. She didn't like it when the Queen mother read her mind. She always did it. It annoyed her. She knew the time of cleansing would soon begin - the time the box that only she could open would be brought to her. Then the missions will begin in the seven regions, and the blood will begin to flow in preparations for the big feast. Deep down, she hated these moments. It was as though a part of her wanted none of it. She felt the eyes of the Queen mother on her and she raised her head. The Queen mother had been reading her mind yet again.


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