Akweh John 1 year ago
@Shallownews 10 min read Write a comment #short-stories

Four Minutes To Live

Frank needs to stop the destruction of the world, but he's only got four minutes to live. Will he be able to beat time? This short work features both elements of a paranormal and psychological thriller.

A person who has stopped breathing only has four minutes to live. The countdown started when Frank popped open the silver lighter, and darkness pulled a retreat, replaced by a face that looked like it had been scrubbed with an iron sponge almost beyond the threshold limit. Rough lines and scars. Pupils are the pigment of buffalo ash. Signs of decay. He got up and waved the light across the walls. Drawings on paper were pinned to a board. Engravings on the walls where papers got exhausted or the madness got out of hand. Corner to corner; hieroglyphs, nightmarish creatures, the spawned. Wickedness in art. A deep breath of recognition nearly sucked the flame into his mouth. There she was. That face of virtue. The one which flew around in his brain and rumbled things. Like a witch at night. He shook like a baby whose brain had just caught a fever. Unable to stop himself, Frank reached out two dark-gloved fingers and touched them. First big mistake. He remembered the rule of the Pathogen Deal. Everything you touch surely dies. The paper melted like overheated Mercury." No!" he growled. Too late for regrets. But not too late to hear her screams as they began, even from two worlds away.***

"Reason critically and discuss why there is something rather than nothing. This is your assignment. Submit next week Tuesday." Reactions. Sir Mzeze went on with a warning. "Now, I'm aware that most of you enjoy copying from others. Beware. This semester, copying equals zero, and I'll be glad to give you that. Have a nice day." The lecturer picked up his portfolio and strolled out of the hall. Two guys followed him out to receive calls. The noise fell like rain. While the course representative shared BIO 102 marked scripts, Sedoo Faith looked out the window. The place was called Abwa-Mbagen. The sky blessed the grasses with sun rays. Final year Community Health students wrote National examinations in the Auditorium. A medley laughed. Some student named Daniel had written in two full caps but got zero out of ten. Le tableau un blanc was filled with symbolisms of True or False statements, nominalism, skepticism, and metaphysics. She understood nothing. Not because the topics were complicated, but for the fact that the uncomfortable feeling which kept plaguing her while in school was present again. Faith felt pressed. She stood, sidestepped a girl buried in laughter, and headed for the restroom.

It was a noiseless seven-second walk. Faith went through the open burglar-proof, past the men's rooms, and entered the last door of the women's. There were no mirrors in here. Just a pit latrine and a one-foot window. Faith felt weaker and more pressed after the walk, like she wanted to lie down, but her bowels were straining in protest. How possible was that? Approaching footsteps in the corridor. She turned and lifted her skirt. The footsteps stopped outside the door. Pulled down her underwear. "Sedoo?" Feminine. Sedoo stared at the closed door. A dark face stuck to the wood as Nairobi's stared back at her. Before she could react, it pulled forward and rasped, "Insanity." "Sedoo?" Again. Urgent. Sedoo replied with a shout as her bowels ejected. The lady pushed the door open and beheld her friend going naked.***

The Pathogen Deal is rifer with nemeses than it helps desperate dealers. However, there is one exception that Frank felt blessed about. The shortest distance between two people is emotion. Not every living thing understood the power of laughter, sadness, anger, frustration, or happiness. It wouldn't matter if the seeker were in heaven and the object lived on Mars; it was a principle that thrived if implemented the right way. Just a spark of emotion, and you are in motion.

Frank burst out of the Galactic Room and found himself in the ageless, timeless Portal Room. Right in the center of the universe. Omnipresent lighting was dim. The Conveyor was in his usual chair, which Leviathan had post-formed. Behind him was a cyclic belt. "You are too late, angel." A calm tone. "I'm not your student. Get me to her." "She's gone, pathetic." "Where? Your bedroom?"

The chair hissed. Arrival. The Conveyor was silent for a moment. Stared at Frank through eyes filled with stars. "The Pathogen Deal isn't really a way out; it's a deal-breaker itself, you ignoramus. Do you actually believe you can prevent the Almighty from destroying humanity?" "At least, I'm taking a bold leap. What have you done in a billion years other than sit in your chair married to a serpent who talks like an asphyxiating old hag?" Regretfully, "When you talk like this, I seem to think the Almighty made a colossal lapse in bringing you into existence." "But you don't seem to think He's making another colossal lapse now in destroying humanity before the appointed time?"

"Ignorance!" The Conveyor's outburst caused a brief earthquake in southern India. But he never left his chair. "You know nothing about an appointed time, angel. If the Almighty chooses a date, it becomes the date. You have no useful input nor influence on what the Omniscient decides." "As I said, I'm not your student. Your job isn't to brainwash me. Now, take me to her, driver." "Your demise, stubborn angel." He waved an arm at the belt and initiated the cosmic force. "Cast your emotions, and be in motion." The belt ground one complete orbit, and Frank was gone. "Did you get to her?" The Conveyor said after a silence, probably overstayed its welcome. Hissing from the chair. Finally, a rasp, "Verily. He's finished." The happy smile on his handsome face changed the weather in Abwa from a sunny one to a cloudy one. ***

The minute Medical Laboratory students knew something was wrong was when chubby Jennifer bounced into the lecture hall through the back door and announced, "Shadoo, please come. Sedoo is removing her clothes in the toilet." Confusion. Rush hour. Half the class bolted out as if a madman had jumped in through a window. Faith's white shirt was gone. She was screaming into the air, held in the arms of her coursemates. She twisted, and twisted, like a mermaid. She didn't want any clothing on her. Cruel decision. Fear crawled through the flesh of those that didn't come out. Some subconsciously put themselves in her state and instantly regretted it. Feeling nauseous.

Sedoo was held down. She went for her skirt with desperate, hungry hands. Her restrainers seized them, pleading. It wasn't long before this disturbance drew attention from inside the school. Drew steps closer. Security, Provost, students. The pathetic angel arrived just as Provost Adaga Keziah raised a cautioning hand against Faith. Then time slowed down. Witnesses became unmoving figures. Frank knelt beside Faith and held her hands, and stuttered holy language to calm her storm. Jesus Christ. Faith felt healing flow through her like a neuron impulse. The devil became homeless and fled. She blinked into sanity and noticed the grotesque-looking man so close to her. Suddenly as a ball bounced, Faith sat up and crossed both hands over her chest like a braless model. "Who are you?" "Heaven-sent," Frank said. She leaned away from him. "What?" He nodded with a sad smile, slightly ashamed of his appearance. Faith looked around, astonished. "What did you do to them?" "They're alive," Frank spat. "Just that this is happening too fast for them to notice.

"What is happening?" "No time for your questions. You need to listen to what I tell you." On her feet. "No, I don't need to listen to you." "Of course you do. Because I'm going to be dead in the next one minute." Silence. "Thank you." Frank waved a hand in front of his eyes. "This is decay. I'm about to leave existence. I took the Pathogen Deal to heal the world. And I did it... because we have a connection." She wrinkled her face. "Don't take it intimately," Frank rushed. "Humans can have an agape connection with celestials, but you're the first to see me like this. To see me die." "Please, don't talk about death." "I must!" The insistence brought him on his back. Frank wasn't breathing anymore but trying to suck in air. "You need to trust me." "Without knowing who you are?"

"Raphael. Angel Raphael. But you can remember me with Frank." "Angel?" "Kneel beside me. Like I did to you. We only have seconds!" Faith's heart raced like a gazelle. Raphael's face was as white as his stainless robe. "Essence is power. Don't forget. If the Almighty destroys the world before time, you will heal it...with my essence. Healing you've received and healed, you shall give back. Do it in wisdom, Faith. I will be with you in spirit. Farewell." Angel Raphael's death was not a consuming affair but the quietude of a chick hatching. Echoes of a calmed storm. An angel who has stopped breathing only has the infinity to live.

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