To say the woman before her was extraordinarily beautiful would be an understatement. Her head was adorned with tiny long curly hair that hung loosely down her waist. Large green eyes, long eyelashes, sensual lips and a stunning physique that not even a ‘high’ artist with the best creative imagination can describe stood in front of Ify. In fact, the woman fine like mami water, except that the mami water she always read about in her school books had fish tails and this one didn’t.
“Welcome, Ifenyinwa.” The woman said, smiling.
Ify gasped in surprise and quickly got to her feet. “How do you know my name? Who are you? How did I even get here?”
“Don’t be afraid. I mean you no harm.” The woman assured her.
“You haven’t answered my question.” Ify replied, not convinced.
The woman laughed. “You’re bold, I see. Well, I will tell you who I am.”
Suddenly, the woman threw her arms to the air and a strange intense wind began to blow from nowhere. As the woman spoke, her entire body began to charge in sharp green light, highlighting her majestic splendour while her voice resonated with a commanding echo.
“I am the queen of the oceans, goddess of the sea and the mother of all existence! I am the fountain of life! The earth trembles before me, the wind screams my name and the oceans waves at my command! All who bless me I give life and wealth beyond their dreams! Those who curse me, I destroy! I am she who is and ever will be!”
Ify blinked at the woman for a few seconds. Then she began to laugh. The queen stopped and gaped at her.
“This must be a dream. The fish Tony and I ate must have been too much. No wonder I’m dreaming of mermaids. Moji said eating too much fish at night will give me weird dreams.”
“My dear human, you’re not dreaming.” The queen said.
“Of course I am. You’re just in my dream probably because I ate too much fish last night. My dad says I have a very active imagination. I should be a writer. He’s right.”
“You don’t believe me?” The queen asked calmly.
“No, I don’t. To prove it, I will just close my eyes and pinch myself and when I open them, I’ll wake up in my bed.”
Ify closed her eyes and pinched herself. She opened them to see the queen merely watching her in amusement. She repeated the process again. Same result. Ify was stared at the queen with a fearful realization that where she was was real and the enchanting woman in front of her was the queen of a marine world. She was in a marine kingdom!
“Oh my God! What is this? What’s going on? What am I doing here?” She blurted out in panic.
“Don’t be afraid, human. I have a mission for you.” The queen said.
“What mission? You know what? I don’t want to know. Just take me back to my room, please.”
“I understand that my presence is unsettling for you. You should count yourself privileged. Not many humans like you have seen me and lived to tell the tale. That shows how important you are to me.”
“Thank you very much. Please take me back. I swear I’m not going to tell anyone. In fact, I’ve forgotten about it sef.”
“If you agree to what I’m about to tell you, I will reward you beyond your expectations.”
“I don’t want any reward. Just take me back home now.”
The queen stopped and stared at her. Then she began to laugh.
“You’re very courageous. I like that. You’re also afraid. But you don’t have to be. My plans for you are for your benefit as well as mine. How do you humans say it? A trial will convince you.”
The queen blew a green smoke on her and Ify found herself in the air. She was suddenly back swirling upward through the vortex. And then she popped out of the seashell in her bedroom and landed face down on the floor. She quickly rose and screamed.
Her parents dashed into the room, startled. Ify scrambled to one corner folding herself in fright.
“Ify, what is it?” Her father asked, concerned.
She stared at them. “Daddy? Mummy?”
“Yes, dear. We’re here.” Her mother replied. “What happened? Did you have a nightmare?”
“I don’t know.” Ify replied, confused.
Agnes moved towards her and saw the seashell on the floor. She made to pick it.
“No!” Ify said in a frightened voice. “Don’t touch it. It will suck you inside.”
Her parents stared at her like she had a lose knot in her head.
“What are you talking about?” Her dad asked.
“That thing is dangerous. Trust me.”
Her father slowly picked the shell. “What? This?”
“See? It’s just a seashell.” Agnes assured her.
Ify stared at her father as if waiting for him to be sucked in. Nothing happened. She was even more confused.
“But… but… I thought…” she trailed off.
“Honey, you only had a nightmare. Nothing is going to happen to you. You’re safe, okay?”
Her mother’s soothing voice finally made Ify relax. “Oh mummy, it was a horrible dream.”
“We understand. We’ve all had nightmares. But that’s all they are. Nightmares. They will never come to reality.” Her dad said.
“Your dad is right. They’re just nightmares, nothing more.” Agnes added. Then she looked Ify over. “Well, you must have been really tired to sleep off in your beach wear.”
“I think so.”
“It’s all right. We’ll leave you to change. Don’t worry. Nothing is going to happen to you. Go back to sleep. You’re covered in the blood of Jesus.”
The next day, Ify was in her cubicle at work, staring at the seashell in her hand, lost in thought. Her experience last night was truly frightening. But when she woke up this morning, everything seemed so normal that last night seemed like it never happened.
But as she sat in her cubicle, she kept having flashbacks about her weird encounter with that marine queen or whatever. She could vividly remember like it happened yesterday. Oh wait. It literally happened yesterday. Something was wrong. Who got nightmares about seashells sucking them into a marine kingdom to face their queen, anyways? What type of dream was that? Was it the fish she ate at the beach? Maybe those people had added too much oil. She spoke to Tony earlier and he seemed fine. So it couldn’t have been the fish. What was it then?
“I am the queen of the oceans, goddess of the sea and the mother of all existence! I am the fountain of life! All who drink from me are filled and never lack! The earth trembles before me, the wind screams my name and the oceans waves at my command! All who bless me I give life and wealth beyond their dreams! Those who curse me, I destroy! I am she who is and ever will be!” The queen’s voice kept playing over and over in her head.
Ify jumped and stared Moji. “Oh, it’s you.”
Moji looked at her in concern. “I’ve been standing here and calling you several times. Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? If there’s something wrong, you can tell me. You know you’re my padi padi.”
Ify smiled. “I’m fine. Really? So, what’s up?”
“It’s lunch break. Halima and I are going to the canteen. Are you co… what is that?” Moji asked, pointing at the seashell on Ify’s palm.
“Oh, it’s a seashell Tony gave to me at the beach yesterday.”
“So are you coming?”
“Sure. You girls can go ahead. I’ll join you later.”
“Okay.” Moji nodded and left.
Ify continued to stare at the seashell for a while. Well, like her mother said, it was just a seashell. She hadn’t heard of where a seashell killed anybody. Las las, she would throw it away and forget about it and any marine queen.
Ify stood and threw the shell into a trash can and left. But another surprise was waiting for her.
Episode 4 is coming soon. Thanks for reading. Please drop your comments and share.