Dave drew the curtains suddenly to see the two creatures again, standing on his neighbor’s shelter. This was not the first nor the second time he was seeing them on that particular roof. His wife, Susan had told him it was bad omen the first time but he had laughed it off. Everything she said started making sense the third time and the scariest part was that the birds flew away immediately he drew the curtains. It was as if they always waited for him to draw the curtains.
The feeling that morning was different. The sight of the two ugly creatures sent a shiver down his spine. It was a moment that was different from the others and he could feel his legs shaking as they flew away making a loud noise in his ears. He sensed something unpalatable was about to happen. Something was definitely not right.
He dragged his feet back to the room with a torch in his hand. His eyes were dampened and his head heavy. He could not comprehend what was happening to him. Two creatures were giving him so much concern and he was beginning to fidget. It was just a few minutes after 5:00 A.M. He would need to take his wife to her place of work before heading to his office. They had only been married for two years, and getting another car was the last thing on their scale of preference.
Susan was still dressing up when Dave appeared from behind. This got Susan scared because she did not hear the door make any sound. Her heart almost jumped into her mouth before she noticed the figure behind her. She noticed the strange look on Dave’s face in the mirror. He stared at her through the mirror looking tensed and confused. She knew he had seen them again but she had never seen him acting cold.
The big room wore a green painting. It looked well furnished and neat. The floor was tiled and there was a big bed that could take up to four adults. A plasma television hanged on the wall facing the window, and below it was a stand where the decoders were arranged.
“Did you see them again?” she asked, still looking at her husband through the mirror. Dave quietly slumped on the bed trying to loosen his tie. He would have preferred if he did not disturb his wife, but she was the only one he could relate with at that moment. “They are not ordinary. They look strange and they are freaking me out.” Dave said out of fear, raising his voice unknowingly. His hands were trembling and his eyes cracking. He did not mean to cry but the tears forced their way out of his eyes. He simply allowed them to roll freely.
Susan had never seen her husband so scared. He had always made a jest of her anytime she asked him to escort her outside the house in the night. She quickly ran to Dave to pat him on the back like a child. She put his head on her breast, caressing his hair. She was starting to get nervous but someone had to be the man at that moment.
“What if the message is for Christopher?” she finally broke the silence. She knew it wasn’t about whose roof they were found but who saw them. She just needed to do something about the present state of her husband.
Dave lifted his head immediately. His wife had just found him a consolation. His light head felt heavy immediately, it was a statement he wished Susan had said earlier. He dabbed his palms against his face to wipe the tears off.
“Do we notify him immediately?” He asked, seeing some sense in his wife’s statement. “Of course not. What if he does not care, or let’s say he does not believe in such things?” Susan quickly dissolved the idea. Deep down she knew it had nothing to do with Christopher.
Her mother had seen one on their neighbor’s roof a day to the day she lost her grandfather, her mother’s dad. She was only eleven years of age and was present when her mother was discussing with her father about the evil creature she saw on their neighbor’s window that evening. She had told him about the perils attached to seeing one, but her father had debunked the idea immediately.
“I don’t believe in superstitions. Owls are nocturnal animals and it is only normal to find them around in the twilight. You should get some sleep now.” her father had said before turning his back at her mother that evening.
Although her mother was not convinced, she took her to bed that night. Susan noticed she was not feeling alright. It was as if she knew something would happen in the morning.
It was still early in the morning when one of her mother’s brothers called to break the news; Grandpa had died in the middle of the night. Susan understood she would no longer see her grandfather, and it was an incident that she would never forget. She had never seen the creatures all her life, but she knew what they looked like, thanks to one of the documentary magazines that had their photos.
Here was her husband, seeing the same birds many call the forerunners of death. Although nothing had ensued, her husband was seeing two of these creatures for the fourth time. She discerned something was on the way, but she had no idea who it was coming for — Dave’s family or hers.
Dave was driving Susan to work. Susan rested her left hand on his right hand which he placed on the gear. He didn’t need to switch gears since it was an automatic car. Susan looked into his face and noticed she had successfully been able to eliminate his fears. He looked all okay but the trouble had shifted on her. She could not get the incident at home out of her head. Something big was coming.
Susan was working with one of the major banks in Lagos. She had studied pure and applied chemistry in school, hoping to secure a job in the petroleum industry. She waited long after convocation from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso but her dreams seemed caged in her mind. She decided to take the banking job five years later. It was during this time that she got wedded to her beloved Dave.
It was at college that she and Dave met. They used to attend the same fellowship but they belonged to different units. While Susan was in the choir unit, Dave was in the technical unit. Nonetheless, the choir unit was dependent on the technical unit to hold rehearsals.
Saturday evening was a time Dave always waited for. He would always stare at Susan, but she would always pretend she didn’t notice him.
The gateman had quickly opened the gate, saluting Susan and her husband. He looked unkempt. His teeth were all yellow and his bones were pretty obvious under his skin. Dave had always asked Susan if the management of the bank could do anything to help the old man, even if it would be a little increase in salary. Dave out of pity started giving the man something almost every day. He knew he needed something more, but that was the only little way he could help him.
The old man would always pray for Dave and Susan every morning when he comes to drop her off.
“I hope you’re okay now.” Susan wanted to be sure before alighting from the vehicle. She looked so worried. “Of course. I’m more worried about Christopher.” Dave replied calmly.
Susan pecked him on his cheek before she alighted. She waved him off as he drove towards the exit.
“Oni sise (You’ll not commit errors)” The old gateman prayed for Dave as Dave handed him a neat 500 naira note. “Amin baba (Amen sir),” Dave answered as he drove into the street.
He was getting late due to the incident that happened at home. Even though he was the boss of himself, he didn’t like to get late to work. He believed in being an exemplary leader and that has helped him to shape the nature of most of his workers. If only Susan could work with him in his company then maybe he would not be getting delayed to work at all, he thought.
It reminded him of his university days when luck knocked on his door. He had gone to prepare for his next paper that night but he spotted Susan reading in one of the lecture theatres through the window. They were in the same level, 200 level to be precise. He had tried his possible best since 100 level but Susan never looked his way.
He decided to go in to sit beside Susan. He walked to the row where she was seated, disturbing the other students who blocked his way. He made sure he forced his way in. He was finally beside her, but he pretended he didn’t see her.
Susan was not raising her head also. She was engaged in the book in her hands. Dave wanted to make her notice his presence but he couldn’t. He didn’t have much to read, so he was not really disturbed about the exam he had the following day.
After many hours, Susan finally noticed him. She was so pleased to see him and that surprised him greatly. Susan had confessed to him she could not walk all alone to her hostel at midnight and he had volunteered to follow her. Her hostel was not really far from his hostel and that made it even more convenient.
They had discussed many things on the way like life after school and Susan had told him in the course of their discussion that she would never work in the same organization with her husband.
Dave had just parked in his parking lot. He was looking handsome as ever as the blue suit he wore matched his lanky body and dark complexion perfectly.
“Welcome, sir.” the old man who was in charge of security greeted. He looked like a literate and his grammar was fluent enough. He had a good haircut although his hair had turned grey. He looked smart and tall in his neat uniform. He was the only man taller than Dave in the company. “Good morning sir.” Dave greeted back locking the car doors. “How are you doing today?” he asked further, carrying his briefcase in his other hand. He adjusted his tie before turning to face the old man. “I’m strong like always.” the old man tried to crack a joke, showing off his weak muscle to Dave. They both laughed as Dave walked towards the building.
His father had tried to set him up for business after school. Since he studied computer science, his father thought it would be best if he didn’t work under anybody. He took it upon himself to build his son the software company. It was during this time that he died leaving the job only half done.
Dave on his own had to work hard to complete the site and equip it. His business was growing very fast and he could see the skies moving upward so that he could reach no limit.
“What happened?” Christopher who jammed with Dave on the staircase asked. He was the neighbor on whose roof Dave used to sight the birds. He wore one of the shirts the company used for their fifth year anniversary.
Unlike Dave, he was fair in complexion and was a bit chubby. The only thing they had in common was the height, although Dave still appeared taller than him.
“What do you mean?” Dave who stopped abruptly asked. He understood what Christopher meant but wanted to avoid the discussion. He tried to keep a serious look. “You didn’t come in early today,” Christopher replied. He tried not to use the word ‘late’ since he had no right to question him. He was only the managing director, while Dave was the chief executive officer.
Dave was busy looking for a good hand who would be able to manage his business properly anytime he was not around. Aside from that, he needed someone who could relieve him of some of his duties as the owner of the company.
It was during this time he met Christopher at the bar one evening. He was so pleased to meet with Christopher again after seven years. They were both in the same department in school and Christopher used to top the class. Dave was surprised as Christopher narrated his fate.
Dave couldn’t believe a man like Christopher would be jobless seven years after convocation. It was something that made him appreciate his father’s effort. He seized the opportunity to invite Christopher to his company and promised to take care of his accommodation for the first year.
Christopher had given in since the pay was okay and resumed work immediately as the Managing Director. He understood Dave did what he did because he was one of the best students when they were still in school. He was given the apartment next to Dave and his wife in one of the best estates in town. As promised, the company incurred the cost of rent for the first year while he took the payment upon himself from the second year.
“Yea. Something came up.” Dave answered. He tried to give Christopher a quick answer. He wished he could tell him about the birds that always perched on his roof. He wished he could tell him death would be knocking on the door of his family soon. He wished he could tell him he should be prepared for the big thing coming his way.
He looked at him pitifully before he continued to his office. The memory of the birds flashed back in his head. He could feel his right hand trembling again.
“Are you sure you are okay?” Christopher who was staring at him asked again. “Sure,” Dave answered quickly, walking up as fast as he could. He was finally at the front of his office, where his secretary’s desk was positioned. “Good morning sir.” the secretary stood up to her feet. She noticed the strange look on her boss’s face. She would have asked if it were to be her friend, but since the relationship between herself and her boss was only official, she could not say anything. She only forced a smile out of her chocolate-colored face. “Good morning, Alima,” Dave answered. “Has anyone come looking for me this morning?” he asked. “No sir,” Alima answered. “I left the files you asked for yesterday on your table,” she added. “Okay,” Dave answered, twisting the door knot. The door came wide open as Dave walked in, trying to get a hold of himself. The table was a bit far from the door. He walked straight to his table with his head faced down but he sensed something unusual which compelled him to look up. “Jesus!” He screamed, trying to step backward but his legs failed him.