“What do you think they wanted from me?” I asked, focusing my unblinking gaze on mam’Nompilo.

“I heard a rumour. Someone told the damned dead that you are a Wonderer that can reanimate, and any lost soul that is able to fully possess your body can keep it for as long the vessel lives. This will give them an opportunity to fulfil their obligation to this world and cross over to the spirit world when the time is right for them to do so. This means that any spiritual entity desperate enough to leave this earth will be coming after you. So, you need to be more careful.”

It was no mystery who was behind this… Lefu wasn’t going to let me moonwalk on this assignment without setting a couple of bear traps and landmines. This was one of his tactics to ignite my fuse. But I wasn’t going to blow my top. I kept my head together by mentally preparing for a moment like this.

“I will. Besides, I was in fact expecting him to pull something like this. Guess I’ll just have to wear a crucifix and walk around carrying a staff like Moses to whack my enemies with.”

“This is serious, Thulani,” she warned me, giving me a hard look. “If one of them defeats you, the assignments completed to date would be in vain and you would be earth bound for a very long time as a lost ghost. You must learn to protect yourself, and your subjects too, since they can also be used against you.”

I quickly got out of bed when she mentioned my subjects. Last night’s successful date should have been adequate for me to advance to the next one and get to the final person. I looked in the mirror expecting to find my new reflection. But I was still Tiro Mokhele. Nompilo could tell what was on mind.

“You did not enter the reset state, Tiro. This means your work here is not done.”

“What? But I helped Dintle open up about her feelings and that’s the first step to healing the heart. That was enough for some of the subjects you gave me before her. I helped her confront the past. Wasn’t that the objective?”

She looked at me with great empathy. Almost making herself available to my pain.

“Every mission differs in terms of what women really desire. Number 7 needed someone who would listen and pay attention. Number 8 needed lots of romance and passionate love-making. Now it’s number nine’s turn. She needs more than an opportunity to discuss her past. You have got to figure out what she is truly missing. And you must hurry, my son. Time is no longer on your side.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

With sincerity she has never shown me before, she forced herself to tell me

“What I actually mean is, she doesn’t have much time left on this earth. Today is her last. Death is going to fetch her. I am so sorry.”

The “What!” I tried hard to suppress exploded to the surface with an incredulous look on my face.

She walked over to the window pane. Folded her arms. Stared into the distance.

“If you hurry, you’ll find her at the Saint Peter Methodist church on Satchez Street. Sailors Park. She goes there to assist the younger members of the church who come early to help set up for the service later. You might be able to help her for the last time if you hurry. Go now. See what you can do.”

Rage started to build. My eyebrows got pulled down to a frown. My hands. My shaking hands were knotted into fists. Only one thought sat on the throne of my consciousness. Saving Dintle. No matter what. Huffing and fuming like an angry bull, I put on the jeans I found on the floor. Took a shirt from the laundry basket. Grabbed my car keys. Ran out of the house with unlaced shoes.

*****

Tiro stops the car in front of the sacred edifice. Jumps out of his white VW Polo and removes his sunglasses. He winces in disgust as he goes inside the church. The living-dead man saunters in and immediately feels at odds with the holy vibe. It is quiet and calm. He makes his way down the centre aisle to get to Dintle. She is fixing flowers in a huge vase put next to a pillar in front of the altar. As she is about to pick up the broom and sweep the choir’s corner, he spots her.

“Dintle.”

Dintle halts her movement. Her back still turned towards the entrance.

“So, you finally decided to show up.”

“I need to talk to you.”

“Thought I asked you guys to arrive a little earl…” She looks his way and is surprised to see him.

“Tiro. What are you doing here?”

“Listen. There’s something important I have to tell you. Think we can go somewhere private?”

“Somewhere private? Some nerve you’ve got. How dare you come to me again after your little disappearing act last night? I wasn’t impressed, Great Houdini.”

“Please, it’s not like that. Just give me a chance to explain.”

“Save it, pal. I don’t have time for your rehearsed excuses or pathetic apology.”

“Dintle, I beg you!” he says grabbing her wrist. “We must leave this place. Now.”

“Let go off me, creep.” she cries, pulling herself free. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

Lefu appears. He has been watching the whole time.

“She’s right about that. Dintle isn’t going anywhere,” he says in a menacing tone.

“I won’t let you take her. Do you hear me!” Tiro says taking steps towards Lefu.

“I’m not asking for your permission, son. She is coming with me. In peace or pieces. I’ll drag her out of her body by force if I have to.”

“Tiro, what’s he talking about?” Dintle asks a panicked voice.

“I’m simply saying that you are going to die, Ms Namane. But don’t worry. Your funeral will touch many lives. Attract distant relatives and reunite your family once again. It will be peaceful. Honourable. A day even you will look down upon and be proud of.”

“That’s it,” Tiro points a finger at Lefu, “I’m going to send you to hell!”

With that, Tiro raises his hand up and forms a fist. He let out a battle cry as he lunges at Lefu. Death just stand there holding his hands behind his back. He closes his eyes for less than five seconds before letting them snap open in reaction to Tiro movements. That’s when the young man suddenly gets stopped in his tracks, grunting in pain, when Lefu slowly shakes his head, it causing Tiro’s arms to twist back. Barely a few inches from snapping and being broken off their joints. He groans some more as his knees bend to press the floor.

“Bow before me, you insignificant weakling. How dare you challenge a god? Even the smallest part of my mind has the power to tear you up from limb to limb. I could destroy you without lifting a finger.” Then he shifts his gaze to the frightened Dintle. “As for you, my dear. It’s time to go. You need to be removed.”

Tiro looks on in shock as Lefu uses his mind-control powers to horrendously twist Dintle’s neck and throw her against the wall. Trauma masks his stunned face when the assaulted lady falls to the floor.

***

Tell us: Why do you think Lefu is doing this?