Tuesday, January 5, 2021

When the angel of death plotted my death, he convinced me to be patriotic. I sat at a makeshift desk and signed attestation forms and, months later, took the Oath of Allegiance. 

In Somalia, the world floated cloud-like upon the billowing smokes of explosions; my eyes stung from the combustion of gunpowder. Scarlet blood seeped into the depths of the earth, and bodies of my brethren-in-arms lay motionless, eyes eternally focused onto the heavens.

In the rain of falling bombs, I crawled for cover beneath a body of a fallen brother, his blood the water I desperately needed.

“Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” The cries were more of a benediction than a declaration. The attackers were everywhere, killing the already dead who lay singly or in piles, pitiful fragments of humanity.

Terrible, I thought, and my stomach knotted more as darkness welled up from within me, a resignation to the impeding loss of my life. It was like the wings of a heron enclosing around me to snuff all the life out of me.

*

It is Eid al-Fitr, and life has never been better in Somalia. The last of al-Shabaab strongholds fell a year ago. Jilib is now a bustling city, and our Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Operations have brought the people closer. We were not infidels after all.

This day, the Commissioner of Jilib district invited us to celebrate Eid with them. The AMISOM Headquarters in Mogadishu approved.

The garden is decorated with palm leaves and coloured bunting. In the middle is a large marquee worked with national symbols in blue, white, and green, the coat of arms of Jubaland, and two spears and ears of wheat and corn for fertility. Beneath it, the ceremony would take place, a benediction for the new Somalia.

Trestle tables covered with bright cloths and set with bowls of the finest of Somali cuisine—a cocktail of Arab, Turkish, Indian, Italian, and Swahili menus; Xalwo, jalaato, basbousa—and other delicacies stand crisp and gay. No VIP lounge, only enough space for over five hundred guests, an open space for dancing, and a raised timber stand hanging with Somalia, Jubaland, and AMISOM flags.

The Governor of Middle Jubba is expected, so are the Commissioners of Bu’aale and Sakow districts.

An army of waiters moves around, happy and merry. A platoon of armed Jubaland Security Forces soldiers has deployed at strategic points for security. Besides these, we have our own security in plainclothes. It was decided that we had to trust JSF and the Somalia National Army to provide security.

I am watching each waiter as they serve. The hairs at the back of my neck go up just as I intercept surreptitious communication between two of them. The marquee is a cacophony of laughter and applause of the guests, all oblivious.

Without a warning, a burst of automatic gunfire quiets everyone, just as a stream of bullets slash through bellies of whoever is in the line of fire.

“All soldiers are dead,” the voice in my earpiece says.

How do you fight an enemy armed with automatic machine guns with pistols? I ask myself as I drop flat on the ground. A hurricane of screams and shouts and desperate cries joins the roar of the guns.

I see several of my soldiers in plainclothes respond, but they fire only once before heavy gunfire sends them reeling back against a table, or another falling body. Bright blood spurts from the wounds, drenching their fine celebratory garments.

Chaos is a constellation of panic-stricken mob screaming, falling, and crawling and dying beneath the flail of the guns.

I have my pistol in hand, with so many targets to aim at but not sure which one. I see one of the gunmen drop his machine gun, tear his waiter clothes and reach for something inside the clothes he had hidden.  He comes up with a grenade in each hand and hurls one towards me, and the other to another crowd.

The grenades explode simultaneously, a twin blast of white flame and terrible sweep of shrapnel. Women’s screams cut above the din, and another explosion swallows their screams.

I hit the ground before the grenade explodes, just in time to see the gunman poised to throw his next grenade, right arm extended behind him, both fists filled with the deadly steel balls: Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! His war cry above the screams of his victims.

My body is a caterpillar, senseless, moving without bidding; I am numb, only my elbows willing to crawl me to safety—beneath the dead, or the dying.

*

“OC,” a voice said when I came to.

I moaned, breathless, seeing nothing.

“Sir?” I asked, turning to the direction the voice had come from.

“Welcome back, we thought we had lost you.”

“I can’t see.” I commanded the eyelids to split open, but they disobeyed.

I can’t see! I groped for nothing.

“It’ll be alright,” my Commanding Officer said, and my heart shattered.

*

Elgon Ward at the Defence Forces Memorial was eerily quiet.

“The Governor and the Jilib District commissioner died in the attack,” my CO told me. “Al-Shabaab wanted to kill them for collaborating with AMISOM in liberating Jilib. We lost twenty soldiers, and JSF and SNA fifty. You’re lucky to be alive.”

“And civilians?”

“Over three hundred. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility; they want the 2020/2021 AMISOM Troops Withdrawal from Somalia Plan effected. They say AMISOM lied to the Somali people, AMISOM presence in Somalia is imperialistic.”

The following day, during his routine checks, the chief surgeon told me that they had removed the bullet that had passed through my lung and lodged between the third and fourth vertebrae.

“My eyes?”

“All your eyes are okay, none was injured …”

“But …”

“There’s a tiny steel fragment, certainly from a grenade. The optical nerves were affected.”

“Blind?”

“We can’t say yet, we will conduct another surgery …”

“Permanently? Will I be blind permanently?”

“We will know when we remove the fragment, but as at now you have no recognition of shape, or colour, of light or darkness.”

My stomach knotted a thousand times. “Does my wife know? Mother?”

“Not yet, they are coming today …”

“I want to see my CO.”

“We have scheduled a major neurosurgery tomorrow to try to remove the metal fragment, but it’s not a guarantee your sight …”

“The CO, please.”

A while later, a voice said, “Afande, CO amekuja.”

I heard the CO pull a chair beside my bed.

“The others?” I asked.

“Two succumbed to their injuries last night; the other is out of danger, so are you.” He paused. “But you—”

“I know. They told me,” I stopped, my voice choking. “That’s why I wanted to talk with you.”

“Your wife and parents are coming—”

I struggled up to one elbow, my face heavy underneath the bandages, my bound eyes blindly open.

“You can’t let them see me like this, they can’t see me …”

“They are your family; you can’t possibly expect me to send them away. They have been informed—”

“Please … They can never know I am alive. I have thought about it well, and this is my decision.”

*

Mashujaa Home is like a haunted house in a forested section of Embakasi Garrison. Every time I tap my way around, I stumble into someone, and it reminds me that the home was geared to sudden influxes of war on terror casualties.

Most of those maimed in Somalia elect to stay at Mashujaa Home rather than with their families where we keep vigil together all our lives in the eerie home till Mashujaa Cemetery, bordering Kayole slums, shall swallow our frail bodies draped in the flag we fought for.

Every now and then, I think of the conversation I had with my CO when I requested him to do all he could, even to fake my death, so my family didn’t know I was permanently blind, useless to them, forever a liability in their lives.

“Sir, you see, it is permanent, final, hopeless. I am, never to see again. I have gone into a dark world of my own where nobody else can follow me. I have thought about it, and I am ready. The sooner I made the decision the sooner my wife started dating again without feeling tied down to a blind man.”

“I think that’s your wife’s decision to make, not yours.”

“No, sir. This is my decision. I will not see her again, even my parents. For them I am dead. Tell them I was dead, it was a mistaken identity, but they must remember me when I was alive.”

“I can’t do that, OC.”

“You have to. Swear a solemn oath to me. One soldier to another.”

“If I do that, and that’s a big IF, I will be failing as your CO. There will be boards of inquiry … you will forfeit any salary or allowance you may have. You will be dead; your benefits will go to your family as per the SOPs, the law. You will cut all contact with your family for all days of your life. The care you will receive at Mashujaa is not the same as what your family would give you. Is that want you want?”

“Yes sir, that’s what I want.”

“Why, but why?” the CO demanded desperately. “Why do you reject your family? The system is not your family, you know?”

“I know I am altered beyond all hope or promise. I know that what was before can never be again. I know that I can never be to my wife again what she has a right to—she is young, beautiful, she cannot endure; in a month, a year perhaps, she will realize she is trapped, tied to a blind man. I can’t endure that. I can no longer be her husband.”

“What you’re asking of me …”

“Is mercy.”

There was a long bout of silence, then he murmured: “Very well, if that’s what you want, I will see what I can do, though I don’t promise not to try to convince you to change your mind.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said, and sunk back in the bed. When I closed my eyes, all I saw was my wife: every trace of the good times we ever had all gone, except for the lingering afterimages of the fights, the distrust, the pain of living together, and the last words she told me before leaving for Somalia: We need more money, go to Somalia like other men—a parting gift.

The words swam and welled misty in my eyes. Her fading voice was all I had left of her.



Friday, April 17, 2020

www.christianity.com

Against my better judgement, and Mother’s advice, I followed the love of my life to the barracks. Soldiers are never there for their families, she told me. You were never there for me, I retorted, and you’re not a soldier.
Every time he leaves for another mission in Somalia, I pray: God, let him come back alive.
Every time there is news of another ambush, another IED attack, against KDF troops, I pray: God, don’t let my children lose their father, don’t make me a widow.
Today I woke up to a thousand and one WhatsApp messages, Twitter and Facebook notifications, and ‘I-tried-calling-yous’ from family and friends: the worst of al-Shabaab attack on a Kenya Defence Forces’ position in Somalia.
I prayed: If soldiers have to die, let him not be amongst them. Kill others, but not him.
*
The gunfire goes off, pop! pop! pop! in synch.
“Fire!” the commander orders the firing party.
Pop! Pop! Pop!
The casket, draped in the flag of Kenya, lowers into the grave. He’s no more, but God answered my prayer.
A heart-piercing shriek goes off like an alarm. A woman runs to the grave; she wants to be buried with him.
“Mother! No,” I cry and rush to her.
*
Mother is devastated, her only son—my brother—died so young, without a family; her hope, life, snuffed out by the bullet of the dastard terrorists.
She will never come out the hole she has sunk.

My brother is dead, but God answered my prayer: God killed others, I’m not a widow, and my children have a father. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Planet Spyria,
Spyria Year 4720,
Spyria High Council meeting.
The alien High Command took his seat. He looked at those present through his compound eyes, his mouth a thin line.
“We are the guardians of the galaxies,” his voice boomed. “The Multiverse is safe because of us.”
Every council member nodded in agreement.
“Our artificial intelligence was granted to Earthlings generations ago, a mistake by Her Highness the Most Supreme, I dare say. Humans now have made machines to conquer the Multiverse and beyond. We can’t let them.”
“High Command,” one of the High Council members said. “What does the Most Supreme want of us?”
“We must battle to save the Multiverse from aggressive take-over and annihilation by humans. Everything humans do is detrimental to their Universe and ultimately the Multiverse. Intelligence from the Inter-Galactic Intelligence Agency (IGIA) indicate that prototypes are at advanced stages.”
“Their aircrafts can now move between planets, their spaceplanes between galaxies,” the Inter-Galactic Clandestine Operations Commander said. “We need to send in saboteurs to make sure they crash after take-off.”
“Yes,” the High Command said. “Under the intergalactic law, no species are supposed to move across the Multiverse, no matter how advanced or complex their technologies may be. Yet humans are defying this law.”
It was not a discussion but a joint feeling they arrived at: either humans had to be re-educated or eradicated. In their telepathic manner, they decided that infiltrating aviation and space exploration agencies on Earth was the best course of action.
“Send to Earth the Inter-Galactic Clandestine Ops Squad,” the High Command ordered.
***

Planet Earth,
The Year 2037,
Earth Aviation and Space Council Meeting.
The president of the Earth Aviation and Space Council (EASC) cleared his throat. “Our aviation industry and space programs are the best in the multiverse. It is time we conquered worlds beyond,” he made a sweeping movement with his hand and the wall opposite him came to live.
“This is Galaxtron, Boeing’s 787 MaxSprint Hybrid Spaceplane prototype. The plane has hybrid combined cycle engines that can take off from an airport's landing strip and fly straight into orbit. The engines would use turbofan or turbojet engines to take off horizontally. Once airborne, the engine shifts to ramjet propulsion and, as speed increases, adjusts into a scramjet engine with supersonic airflow. At the scramjet stage, the hybrid spaceplane would enter hypersonic flight in 'near space', the part of the atmosphere between 20km to 100km above sea level. Finally, the spaceplane would use its rocket motors to push out of near space and into orbit …”
He paused. The men and women present looked at the president in awe.
“… What I’m saying is,” he smiled, “we can now go to other galaxies.”
***

Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Centre,
Kajiado, Kenya.
Friday 13 May, 2050.
The flight engineer took the elevator to Basement 33 where the 10th Generation Boeing MaxSprint Hybrid Spaceplane was being built. The spaceplane was designed to fly into any galaxy, making stops at multiverses.
When he made sure he was alone, he transformed himself into a grey-skinned humanoid, four feet tall, bald, with black almond-shaped eyes, nostrils without a nose, slit for mouth, no ears, and four fingers ready to make contact with the High Command in planet Spyria.
“Avluk ah Kutak,” he said when he connected to the mother lode.
*
International Space Station,
Same Day, Same Time;
“Commander Edison,” the young female Science Officer called.
“Yes!” the Commander responded.
“There’s a cryptic transmission from a Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Centre in Africa.”
“What does it say?”
“The message is ‘IT IS TIME’, nothing else.”
“Destination?”
“Not yet established, but the DeciCode machine is trying to triangulate through the Multiverse.”
***
Earth,
Year of the Lord, 2060
Earth Aviation and Space Council Meeting.
The intergalactic spy chief, Director Earth-Space Intelligence Agency (ESIA) walked up to the podium. He made a sweeping movement with his hand and the wall in front flashed to life. Images of the multiverse filled the mega floor-to-ceiling screen.
“Aliens in the multiverse now know we have what it takes to grow into a multiversal superpower,” he began. “Our aviation and space agencies have developed technologies that would enable us to explore and conquer the multiverse …”
He paused and looked at the men and women who made decisions based on what he told them.
“Intelligence indicate that aliens are wary of the 10th Generation Boeing MaxSprint Hybrid Spaceplane …”
His hand made another sweeping movement and the screen showed images of humanoid-like creatures gathered round a table.
“They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxies from Planet Spyria. In 2027, they held a meeting where they resolved to sabotage our aviation and space programs. They activated the Inter-Galactic Clandestine Ops Squad to infiltrate the Earth …”
“Are you saying aliens have infiltrated not only our planet but also our agencies?” asked a diminutive Chinese astrophysicist.
“That’s what intelligence indicates. We believe all the aircraft accidents we have had since the turn of the millennium are caused by the aliens; but just crashing the aircrafts was not enough. They decided to be hijacking the aircrafts to study our technologies and seep our knowledge. That’s why Malaysian airlines Flight 370 was never discovered.”
“Come on Finch, we both know that aliens had nothing to do with that flight’s disappearance. The US of A knows and should tell us—”
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m an intelligence officer. Those aliens who infiltrated Boeing engineered the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which activates without pilot input and commands the aircraft nose down and can’t be deactivated. That’s why the Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines crashes happened; and many others after that.”
“What you don’t know about the Boeing MaxSprint Spaceplane is that it’s capable of harvesting energy from distant stars during its stops at multiverses expanding our intergalactic control,” the President chimed in.
The spy continued, “What aliens are worried of is that our harvesting this energy will make the stars fall beyond the cosmic horizon and become unobservable and inaccessible, thus limiting how much energy could one day be extracted from them. These Guardians believe that they were sanctioned by God to protect the multiverses. They don’t want us to get there. They believe that we will destroy the multiverses if not checked.”
All the eyes in the room riveted on him.
“Planet Spyria is one of the most advanced civilizations in the multiverse. They understand the grim reality of universal expansion, and they wouldn't just sit around idle while our spaceplanes made multiverse stops capturing stars from other galaxies, reeling them in and harvesting their energy and rendering them inaccessible forever. Either we be educated, or eradicated. And they chose to eradicate us.

“That explains why Boeing MaxSprint Spaceplanes have been crashing or disappearing since their inception in 2030. Investigations point to sabotage from within or auto-activation of a device that makes it undetectable by the radar shortly after take-off before the aliens hijack it never to be seen.” 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Lovely People, Readers and Lovers of good stories; 


I know I have been a disappointment this year; not writing as much as I am supposed. I'm sorry, I take the blame. But, I never forgot about you, about our unwritten pact that I should give you interesting stories every other day. 


I have been busy making another baby, born of first love; and here she is: INEVITABLE DESIRES: First Love. It is a story you don't want to miss. 


Hedwig Sanzi Joe, aka Heddie, is an innocent high school girl when she falls in love with a reformed criminal working in the church. When she becomes of age and decided to give the man of her dreams her heart, she doesn't know that she has signed for the greatest hurt, betrayal, and confusion she would ever experience. Skeletons of her boyfriend's past decide to crawl out of the closet and all she ever believed in is shattered. She doesn't know that she is moving from one criminal to another when she makes the mistake of marrying the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance until she learns that her husband is the real criminal, not the boyfriend she let go.

This is Heddie's story, the school girl that Kennedy Maina meets towards the end of Twisted Times: Son of Man.

On 31 October, 2019 - that's when this story gets out and Hedwig spills the beans about her secret life. 

PRE-ORDER today to be the first to get the copy on 31 October, 2019. It's only Ksh. 600 (Paybill No. 909534 - Mystery Publishers LTD; put your name as the account number).