The Nightmares of Tera

The gunshot sounds had now died down. Tera sat by the lifeless body of her sister, Makena, shock still keeping her from crying. It had all gone by so fast. People had started to protest, the police had arrived, and Makena had died. It was so simple. She was not sure what was happening or why. She just sat there, holding her sister’s hand. Mama Babu’s mabati door creaked open. She peeked outside, gauging the situation. “Wameenda?” She asked, caution laced in her voice. No answer came from Tera whose back was all mama Babu could see. “Tera kwani nini mbaya?” Still no answer. “Haiya!” she exclaimed now opening the door further to fit her large body. She walked out and went to tap on Tera’s shoulder but was stopped by the scene. She shrieked loudly, even before her mind got the chance to react. Every door now creaked open, some faster than others. Soon, people were all around Tera, comforting her, crying, screaming, cursing, hating. Her mother arrived moments later and she screamed louder than the sirens that had brought death to the slum they called home. Everything after that was a blur to Tera. The body was taken to a mortuary, people came for maombolezi, the funeral was held and life moved on. Weeks turned to months and tears dried. All the while, Tera said nothing, having retreated to her mind. Life moved on. Tera did not.

Mzee Ndiidi, was a known wizard. Tera needed a man of his status. A mganga who knew his craft. She had made the decision to seek his help two months after her sister had died. She had saved for two more and was now ready. She went to his house, expecting to find chicken legs hanging from the roof. There weren’t any. Tera did not care, she was prepared to risk losing her savings to Ndiidi if it meant hope that she could avenge her sister. She narrated her story, speaking now for the first time since her sister had died. He asked for two thousand shillings. She smiled, she had saved three, the extra she would use to shop for her mother. He chanted and danced and burned some wood all the while circling her. When it was over, Tera stood and waited for a spontaneous miracle that did not come. “Utangoja siku kathaa kabla uone mabadiliko. Lakini maadui utawaweza usijali.” She smiled, bowed and walked out. When she got home, she took a nap and dreamt for the first time. It was a nightmare. The nightmares became a regular for her every time she slept, but she preferred them to having to see her sister’s lifeless face.

Eight days later, Tera, was asleep on her bed. She was having another one of her nightmares that day. They had become a regular for her and she could now sleep through them. However, one particular dream nightmare had become recurrent. The nightmare of the crawling goo working its way up her leg, all the way to her face, and then suffocating her to near death. It had been recurrent ever since her visit to Mzee Ndiidi. She woke up startled and decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood. It was not safe. She knew this, but could not help that she needed the air. Besides, life had lost all meaning after the death of her sister. She opted for the red slippers, snuck out, taking care not to wake her mother, and took to the hill where she could often see the rich folks’ houses. Tera had walked for less than ten minutes before she was stopped on her tracks by two police men. She recognized one of them from the riots that had ended in the death of her sister. Hate began to simmer within her. The cops spoke smugly, questioning her and making sexual innuendos. He flames were fanned and her hatred now at the brim, was beginning to show on her face. “Unajua mimi sipendi wasichana hawajui ku smile.” Cop number one said, addressing his colleague but looking at Tera. “Ata mimi Brayo, huyu dame ni kama hajui kukua thankful na sisi ndio tunalinda nchi” Cop number two chimed. Tera scoffed at that statement, unintentionally.

The first cop, offended by Tera’s scoff, reached to his baton and swung it at her. She bent over. He missed. The second cop came to his rescue with his baton and missed as well. “Sasa utaona aki!” swore the first cop, gritting at his teeth. Tera was scared, but her anger would not let her fear show. She whipped her braids back, exposing her eyes so she could see better. A baton flew to her face; she was not sure whose it was. She waited for the pain. It never came. She opened her eyes slowly, first the right then the left. The cops were clearly astonished and hesitated to swing a second blow. Tera’s hand, as if moving with their own instinct, reached out to the cops, each grabbing at the collar of one officer. She lifted them up, easily, surprising herself more than she did the cops. She then threw them to the ground. Black goo splashed out of her hands and onto the two officers, covering their faces. Within minutes, they had suffocated to death. Tera was not sure what had happened. It felt as if her body was moving on its own. She stood still, shocked, but only for a few seconds. The realization then hit her. She had gotten the power she had prayed for. She ran home, all the way plotting the events that would soon follow. The nation’s nightmare had just begun.

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