The church bell sounds seven times
Seven is good
Seven is perfection
But Seven can be evil also.
We toe in a straight line, faces a solemn mask. It was a sacred service and so everyone looked solemn. Mama and Ebuka were in the second line while Baba and I queued next to pew. It was holy communion. A sacred service of bread and wine where we ate the flesh of our Lord Jesus and drank his blood also and then we truly became part of him. Baba said so.
Collins the new boy who was also an atheist said that we were savages for eating and drinking the flesh and blood of a human like us, but then Collins is stupid, he doesn’t know what it means to actually eat the flesh of a human or drink blood!
I was restless and impatient, this line was moving too slow but I was careful not to show it. Baba said having emotions like anger, restlessness and impatience during communion was a sign of rebellion and rebellion is witchcraft, Baba always said.
We were close to the priest now, I could see his bald head shining brighter with the reflection of the chandelier on it. Baba said we were not allowed to talk about the father’s head or even stare at it but I just couldn’t resist it. He reminded me of a bald baby doll I once had when I was five which could blink its lashes if you shook it real hard. The memory made me laugh and I sought to cover it up with a cough before Baba noticed.
Sister Catherine noticed and gave me a conspirational wink and a smile, I smiled back nervously. I do not like her, her breath reminds me of the grave and her hands are always too cold.
“Hey,” she whispered. I pretended like I didn’t hear her. We were so close to the priest now, Baba was reaching out to take his bread when she reached out and dumped a crucifix in my hands. “Have this,” she said simply. Before I could protest she had disappeared and then it was my turn. Father blessed me then I reached for the bread and wine and felt a sensation of falling down a deep hole, then it passed.
I ate the bread feeling slightly odd and drank the wine too, then I returned to my seat. On my way back I noticed some weird activity. Everyone was clutching their stomach and falling to the ground all around me. I panicked! Even Baba! I reached to help him and stumbled on a body in front of me, it was Mama! I screamed and screamed and kept on screaming till I passed out.
When I came to, I saw Sister Catherine’s face floating above mine. “Come,” she said, “they are waiting for us”. “Everyone’s dead,” I called weakly. Somewhere the church bells began to ring all by themselves. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven! Her face took on a ghoulish look and she had on a twisted smile. “No, dear one, You are the dead one!”