I’m lost. I’m confused.

I don’t know what to do.

Oh God what do I do?

I’m sitting alone in my parlour this early morning, my thoughts in utter confusion. It’s been two days already since Nina disappeared. I almost went mad using my full powers all over her apartment, looking for any clue as to what might have happened to her. I must have been at her place for close to an hour before I raised an alarm. Damn well woke up the whole neighborhood running around outside like a madman and screaming her name.  The security man and vigilantes were soon on the scene and none of them had seen any suspicious activity. After another thorough search of the Estate, they suggested we report to the police.

The police kept asking annoying questions, who was I, how was I related to her, what was I doing at their place, how were there not sure I was the one who kidnapped her and so on and so on. I lost my temper and yelled at them a couple of times and the security guard had to vouch for me, begging them in his native tongue else I would have been thrown behind the counter. I called our boss and intimated him about what had happened and he sent some soldiers over immediately, not that they were any help.  They took me from the station back to Nina’s apartment and searched the place again. They asked the security guard if he had heard anything or seen any suspicious person enter or leave the estate and he replied no. They then went further to search every house in the estate. Ok, so maybe they were of some help, but the more unfruitful their search was, the more distraught I became. Eventually we all returned back to the police station in the early hours of the morning, where I gave a statement and Nina was declared missing. There was an issue of waiting for 24 hours before lodging a complaint but the blood on the ground was too ominous a sign to ignore.

I had touched the blood earlier. I knew it was Nina’a blood. The authorities could only speculate but I knew! If Nina’s blood was on the floor it meant Nina, my Nina, was hurt.

Maybe even…

I couldn’t bring myself to think about it.

Knowing how close we were the boss has given me some time off.  Now my big project didn’t matter anymore. Now all my previous efforts at reading made no sense. I would gladly give up my thesis to see Nina safe and sound.

What more could I do? Where was she?

I sat in my room perplexed. There should have been a clue, a sign, something! It was like someone came in after the deed had been done and cleared the area of any spiritual signature or activity. It was uncanny. Even touching the bed at the height of my powers should have given me an apparition of her last minutes in her room before she was forcefully removed, but I had felt nothing, seen nothing. I was only able to decipher the blood was hers because as soon as I touched it I saw her face. And even then that was a past image. It should have at least shown where she was at the time.

What was going on?

I heard a rumble deep within me, something I hadn’t heard in a long time. Chukwudi the stronger was stirring.

Chukwudi the stronger is my alter ego of sorts. He is my spiritual self, pure, childlike, undiluted and brimming with power. He is the one I kind of draw my strength from, my internal spiritual regulator. He’s been idle for a while; the last time I let him come out completely was during the incidence with the man-animal in Asaba. Since then the only time I had seen him was once or twice in my dreams. Even yesterday when I was running around Nina’s estate like a mad person he had remained strangely calm. And later on when the soldiers dropped me at my apartment and I had tried reaching him, he had remained stubbornly silent.

“So now you rumble after two days?” I started angrily. “Do you know what could have happened to Nina in two days?!”

Chukwudi the Stronger’s voice in my head was calm, and that unnerved me. Chukwudi the Stronger is normally a boisterous fellow. Mischievous and full of life, ready to take on any and everything that comes our way. But now he spoke with a solemnity that was sobering.

“We need to talk. Switch off your phones and lock the door.”

I paused for a moment then did as he asked.  I looked around my shoddy apartment; it was amazing how quickly it had become scattered again in the two days Nina went missing. It occurred to me that I had barely eaten and had taken my bath only once since the incident.

I was going to lose my mind if I continued like this.

“Did you hear me?” Chukwudi the Stronger’s voice was urgent.

“Yeah, yeah, what’s the rush now?” I was still bitter. “After all when I was screaming for you all over the place you were busy hibernating or whatever it is you do. Even Pachios has refused to appear! This is total bullshit!”

“STOP WHINING AND GET DOWN HERE!” Chukwudi bellowed and I felt rage surge through my body. It pissed me off and I was about to retort but then I realized it would be better doing it face to face. So I closed the windows and put out the light and went to my bed to lie down. I closed my eyes and concentrated. And in a moment I was moving through the deep recesses of my thoughts to that little room in my head found Chukwudi pacing up and down, his head bowed in thought.

“You raise your voice like that to me again and I promise you…”

He looked up at me and his eyes widened in surprise. Then he grinned his boyish grin.

“”Put out the fires , I’m not rearing for a fight.”

I looked at my body and realized I was totally covered in flames. In this imaginary room in y mind all my thoughts translated themselves into events.  The room was eerily dark and everything had a dull grey tone. Even the flames were grey.  I was gradually falling into depression and I didn’t think I could do anything about it.

Chukwudi the Stronger saw the look on my face, laughed and blew with his mouth and the flames went off instantly only to return as I walked angrily towards him. He looked up again.

“Save the flames, bro. We are going to need ALL of it.”

The flames went off immediately. He was talking like he knew something. Like he had a clue.

“Now that I’ve got your attention,” Chukwudi the stronger spirited up a chair and then another and we both sat down.  The room in my head was totally empty and the walls seemed to recede into the distance until there were only two chairs, two me, and utter blackness.

“Since we both exist now only in your imagination it would be cool if you could do something to make this environment more comfortable.” He said.

He was stalling, being childish, and it pissed me off. The room got darker.

Chukwudi the stronger raised his hands, still grinning.

“What do you know about Nina’s disappearance.” I asked through clenched teeth.

“The whole place was completely devoid of any spiritual activity. Our sight was totally useless. No clues whatsoever.” he said.

I sat back on my chair and sighed in regret. It seemed he just wanted to waste my time.

“I already know that.”

“Yeah but the information is useless to you because you don’t realize its significance.”

Chukwudi the Stronger leaned forward, his boyish face, my boyish younger, beardless face, thrust out in defiance.

“Whoever took her knew about me.”

Us.” I corrected.

“They know the power I possess and were prepared to counter it.”

“They power we possess” I countered again. Chukwudi clicked his tongue in irritation.

“Stop doing that! I’m you, you’re me. Stop with the ego trip and pay attention!”

“I still don’t see where I’m going with this.” I replied.

Chukwudi blinked and then laughed. “Finally, a little humor! If we are going to solve this problem, you are going to have to calm down, brighten up a little. Stop being angry and desperate and think for a moment!”

He was right. I had spent the last two days indoors bemoaning Nina’s fate and feeling sorry for myself instead of coming up with a constructive plan. I had literally been living beside my cell phone waiting for it to ring with report from the police that they had found her or at least received a ransom note. Only twice had I received any information from them and it was to let me know that they were still looking. Now wasn’t the time for despair and self pity, now was the time for action.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I closed my eyes and engaged in some more deep breathing, mentally calming myself down and trying to think logically. When I opened my eyes Chukwudi was there smiling.

“Very good.” He said. “Now, as I was saying, whoever kidnapped Nina knew about me, about my gift of sight. Same person went all out to erase any trace of spiritual signature.  This person didn’t use a talisman else we would have seen it. That means the person performed a ceremony. I find it hard to believe that one person would attack Nina and with that level of struggle from her room and after knocking her out take time to perform a ceremony so strong as to render all our powers useless.  All within a few hours.”

“So there must have been two people.” I said.

“At least more than one person. Another one to keep a lookout as the other was busy dealing with Nina inside.  The stronger one I would presume, since the struggle seemed very intense.”

“So we have at least two people at the scene.” I said. “One younger stronger one to subdue Nina and the second one to perform a quick ritual so strong anyone with the sight would be blinded.”

“They are not looking for a ransom.” Chukwudi said looking very thoughtful.

“How’d you figure that?” I asked.

“Think about it. These people knew about us right down to our spiritual gift. If they know about us that much then they also know about our financial capabilities. They know we are not rich.”

“So why kidnap Nina? To get back at me for something?”

“No, else they would have contacted you already. No, you were an afterthought; they wanted to make sure that neither the police nor you could sniff them out.”

“They wanted me out of the way so they could take her.”

“This kidnap was about her, they need her for something.”

“Kill her?” I allowed the thought filter through my mind.

“No, at least not outright, else they would have done it at her place.” Chukwudi remarked.

“Use her for rituals?”

“More like it.”He nodded.

I suppressed a shudder.

“How do we know she isn’t already…?”

“We would have felt something, anything.”  Chukwudi bowed his head in thought.

“I can’t pick her at all, not in my dreams, no visions, nothing.” I shook my head. “It’s like she just fell off the face of the earth.

We were both silent for a while, then Chukwudi looked at me suddenly.

“We need help.”

“Someone else who can see?” I knew where he was going with this before he said it.

He nodded.

“We should go and see The Beggar.”