Standing in front of the little cottage that she was to spend the weekend in filled her with dread. When she was younger,any excuse to drift off for an impromptu holiday always made her giddy with excitement. Now every form of holiday were just cringe worthy and soul grinding. Something evil always seemed to follow holidays. With a sigh,she drags her luggage to the front door,she was sure everyone was already inside.
Everything was still in it's place like the last time she was here. Well, almost everything. The blood on the floor was gone. She wonders who among their little group must have cleaned the blood. She moves round the house and doesn't see anybody. The first thought on her mind was to run away before anyone noticed her presence, she walks speedily to the door when she bumped into someone,
"Woah, calm down, lil kitty" the person said with a light laugh
She cringes, lil Kitty, it's been a while since she heard that name. That last time she heard it, he had said,
"Lil kitty, you saw nothing, nothing happened"
She stands abruptly and dust the imaginary dust off her dress. She looks at the man. The only notable change he could pick were the few grey hairs on his hair and beards. Apart from that, there was nothing else that showed the changes of five years.
"Father" she said in acknowledgement
There was a mischievous gleam in his eyes as he responded to her,
"You need to be more careful, you know how easily accidents happen"
She shivers in fear. No one needed to tell her about the 'accidents' that had occured in this house. At least that was what others thought. She nods her head in response. She fixed her gaze on the floor, there was no need looking up,
"Go and settle in, the rest will be here shortly and you need to be properly rested when they arrive" he said
With a nod, she drag herself and her belongings to her room. The room was exactly the way she left it five years ago. The only difference was that it was clean. The knife and spear gun she left on the floor were now on her bed with other new weapons. The sight of it made her blood run cold. It reminded her of what was to begin soon.
The only reason she came was because of her siblings. They needed her in the same way she needed them. The game was going to be different this year. It was them against the demon. Their head or the head of their tormentor. She had gotten the call from Chad, the eldest, two days after her father's letter arrived. Father's letter had filled her with fear. She had a plan. She was going to sell everything she had and run away. Chad convinced her otherwise. He told her they couldn't run forever. The only way for them to be free was to destroy the leaders. Their father, uncle's, step mother, aunties and sister. Only if they killed them would the evil be ended.
It is called Om'kuzi, the hunt. The first time she had seen it was when she was thirteen. That was when their mother was killed. On the day of the Om'kuzi, the house was stripped bare and every underground passage was opened. Everyone is allowed to have an weapon that pleases them. The only rule was to kill the person with the mark and any of their allies. Her mother heard the mark that year. A tiny little mark on her neck. She had been hysterical when she saw it. The mark was given to her by the previous holder before he was killed. Her mother's last hours were filled with fear. She had even try to pass the mark on to her children.
It wasn't that she loved her mother. Not at all. In a way, she hated her mother more that she hated her father. Her mother loved the bloodbath. The exhilaration and excitement that came with haunting and killing a person always filled her mother to the brim. Mother had said once that she would love one of her children to be mark, that she would like to hear her defiant children scream and beg. Mother got her wish because the next mark holder had mark on of her children, her.
"Yo, Lilo, how are you holding up ?"
She turns her head and sees Chad, Nicole and Jonathan. Her siblings. The people she was giving her life to
"I just need to rest. Am still jet lagged" she responded
They smile in understanding but made no attempt to leave. Instead they made them comfortable on the floor. There were no words. Everything that needed to be said were said two weeks ago. This was possibly the last day they would spend with each other. They had all plan to move far away from this city and change their names after the hunt.
When Chad called her, she was angry and she told him in plain word,
Almost everyone had someone except her. Someone there could hope and depend on. Nicole had a daughter and son that she was hell bent on protecting. Chad had secretly married his high school sweetheart, the only people being in attendance were them and three other friends. Jonathan, well, Jonathan was alone as always. Nicole and Chad were willing to sabotage the hunt for the sake of their families and she had no reason for Jonathan.
"I don't care about anything you want to say. If you're so scared that I'll mark your precious little family then you don't need to be because am not participating in the hunt. Damn the fucking consequences" she had said
"You're still a child, Lilo, what's all this you're saying" said Chad
"Just cut the crap, I know why you want to talk to me. I am not going to mark anyone. I will just run away to South Africa or something. I don't care" she responded tiredly
"Miss runaway, I am sending an address to your phone. Two weeks from today, be there" said Chad
She wanted to shout at him, to tell him she didn't care, that she was going to escape but the light laughter that came from the other side of the phone stopped her
"And Li, you can run from everything but not from your family. Not from this family. There is no one who knows that more than you" Chad said and ended the call
He was right, no one knew it better than her. After all she was the one who dragged Jean back home.
"Don't freaking call me Li, am not Li. My name is Lilo" She said as she fell on her knees and cried till she slept. Her dream was a dark and empty like death
She looks at her family, the ones that mattered. The people who were willing to put everything on the line for her. Nicole and Chad were talking animatedly about their children. Jonathan sat beside her and played with the bracelet on her wrist. Jonathan raises his head and catches her gaze. Before she could mumble a half-hearted apology, Jonathan smiles,
"Lilo, when this is all over, no no, i mean tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to take a trip to wherever the wind takes me and marks my words, Li, I am never going to turn back, not even once" said Jonathan
"Yeah, I will like to do that too" she said
No more words were spoken between them. They had always worked better together because they needed no words. A role had already been assigned to them. Jonathan was the one who stood in the shadow and only came out when it was time to fight their demons. While she carries the emotional burdens of the aftermath of the destruction. They all had their roles. Once more, she drifted towards sleep.
She was in the cottage. It was dusty and barren, as if no one had been there for years. A bird flies pass the door into a rooms and instinctively her legs follow. As she runs down the stairs there is a rickety noise. It almost sounds like mother's voice. She keeps running till she reaches the room.
Standing near the window with blue eyes and dark hair was Jean. He was alive. The mark of the shovel that she used to smash his skull was still there. The chains on his legs and hands rattle as he walks close to her. She tries to run but her legs are rooted to the ground. As he descends, he repeatedly calls her name,
"Lilo, Lilo, Lilo, Lilo,Lilo, Lilo"
The scenery changes and this time he is the one holding the shovel.
She wakes up screaming and sweating. She hasn't dreamt about Jean for years. Jean represented everything that made her who she was. Jean and her were so much alike. They had the same dreams, the same fears. They were almost like twins. But unlike her, Jean was braver or stupid, sometimes she didn't know which word to use. He was brave because for the first time in generations, one member of the family was braver enough to try to escape. His stupidity was because he actually thought he could escape. That he would run away in the night and no one would find him.
Everyone had left the room and one of them had been kind enough to carry her to the bed. She looks at the bedside clock, it was almost time. In a few more hours, it was all going to be over. With rekindled confidence, she begins to get ready.
In a small rucksack, she packs all her essentials. Every other thing- Id card, drivers license, credit cards- were a liability. Lilo Marie was going to die that night. As she puts everything in order she sees a bracelet on the table,she picks it and holds it close to her heart. She knew Nicole had kept it there. Even if they would never see each other again, keepsakes were still important. Something to remind each of them who they were about to commit a sin for. For who's sake blood was about to spill. The reason they would all wake up each and every night with nightmares. It reminded her of their last meeting,
In a lowly bar in downtown, the four siblings had all agreed to meet. It was dangerous to have this sort of meetings in their homes. Anyone could be watching, no one could be trusted. Lilo was the last to arrive. She found them in the darkest corner of the bar, huddled together and murmuring. It was enough to almost make her laugh. They looked more suspicious than anyone else at this crappy bar
"Hey, let's get it started,why are we here ?" She asked
"Lilo,I knew you would make it, you want anything to drink ?" Said Nicole with a little smile
"No" she said
"Well, since Miss independent is in such a hurry, why don't you tell her why were are here" Jonathan said a bit rudely
She had no reply, he was right. She had cut herself from everyone after the last hunt. It was a little selfish, considering the fact that they had experienced more than she had and they had protected her every hunt. The last time, Nicole had locked her in a box and threw the box down a tunnel. She wasn't sure what happened but the injuries she saw on their bodies told her a little bit of the hunt. This time was different though, she was the marked one. And they had to kill her or she would kill them. It was that simple
"We are going to destroy the family" Chad said in a matter of fact tone
"Seriously, what's this about ?"
"We are going to kill everyone there, end all of it's bullshit and fuckery" said Jonathan
"Oh, really" she said condescendingly "I get marked and you suddenly want to end everything"
"Lilo, it's not about you, it's about every one of us. I am tired of everything. Everytime i see a knife, my first reaction is to fetch. I am constantly reminded of every sick thing I have done and I can't leave like that" Nicole shouted, luckily the music coming from the bar was loud enough to drown her voice
"See Li, we've been talking about it for years now, but we haven't been able to do it. We wanted to make sure everything was ready" said Chad as he handed a brown envelope to her
Inside the envelope was a new passport, identity card, drivers license, credit card. Basically everything needed to start afresh
"H...how, what's this ?"
"Lilo, I know it may seem strange that we are springing this in you at once but it is important. This is the only way we can survive. You are our sister and if we let you go down then the rest of us are sure to follow suit. Everything there is for your new life"
She listened as Jonathan explained the plan to her in plain concise detail. He told her how they were going to kill everyone and what she was to do when it was all over. There were five underground tunnels in the house, after the plan was executed, each of them were to take one and leave. They were never to contact each other ever again or being seen anywhere near the city.
The emotionless manner Jonathan said everything left her frightened. Chad noticed her solemness and tried to calm her down,
"Li, we're doing this for each other. There is no one else I love the most in this world than the three of you. If going to the end of the earth is going to keep y'all safe than that's what I will do and if sending you to the end of the earth locked in a box will keep you safe then you known I will freaking do it" said Chad
For the first time in years, the tears that came from her eyes were not from fear or nightmares but from the sadness that accompanied love. The rest of the night, they had talked about their plans and dreams after it was all over. They had drank and laugh like it was their last day together. It was their last day together as a family, the next time they would see, their words would be nothing but meaningless.
'Lil kitty, it's time for dinner"
Promptly she moved to the dinning room were everyone was already seated. She takes her seat and looks directly at her plate. There were no need for secret glances or goodbyes.
Everyone held their hands as they bow down their head to bless the meal. It was the final meal they would all share and this was the final blessing. At least It would guide their souls to hell.
After this, the hunt begins.