Mbadiwe stood trembling at the door of his hut. Never in his seventeen suns had the village been so still. The air felt heavy. His lungs as if the night itself sucked his breath from him. Blindness clutched his eyes. Spear clenched tightly in his fist, he pushed the door open and stepped out in noble fear.
“Igwe!” he cried out, for Igwe had plucked even the stars from the pitch black sky. His voice did not carry, but fell flat on the dead air. Utterly blind, he turned instinctively to his right, toward the heart of the village. His bare feet felt their way through the familiar dust of the road. Each step summoned terror and it drew itself upon him clinging to his skin like the cloaks of river mud he made as camouflage to hunt.
No sounds came to his ears. No cry answered his. The air was filled with the spark of storm. Mbadiwe would have believed this all to be the trick of a storm, but for the silence. His village was empty. He was alone. What had happened to them all? A proud village of hunters. Had they become the hunted?
The electricity tickled the back of Mbadiwe’s neck. Sweat formed and trickled, and in the lifeless night, it crawled on him. He was not alone. He could sense it everywhere around him. Everywhere and nowhere. Breathing with no breath, crouched in waiting, watching him. He drew his spear up and readied it.
Then above him, the night opened its eye. Luminous green showed the truth, that it was the world that was blind, not his eyes. It’s glow pierced his soul, chilled his blood.
“Ábàlì bu agbara!” he whispered.*
© 2012 Anne Schilde
* literally: the night is a god or spirit