… written by Safiya Salau .
We heard the stories growing up. Chief Natas told us the stories with great passion and knowledge, every description carefully detailed. The children of Llehhtneves were born at once, so the village was classified according to age groups. Our age was part of our identity, literally, our names were numbers. We never knew the women who gave birth to us, what do you call them? Mothers. Chief Natas said that it was better this way, to increase the spread of love because anyone could be your offspring. At sunset, we went for our educational slots, which ended at the break of dawn. It was during these periods that Chief Natas told us the stories of the soul seizers. Sitting under the same moon and beside fiercely burning fires, we were captivated by the importance given to the seizers. I always thought we learnt so much about them than necessary.
The soul seizers were sent to a place called earth to possess and control their people. They seized when the people of earth were asleep, and they only attacked those with sins, which means they could attack everyone. The humans sleep when we are awake, which is weird but understandable because they cannot handle the dark. They are weak and fearsome, everything we were brought up not to be. It is said that the sun was created for them and they thrive on its blinding rays. Blindly roaming their world, overlooking the important things and accumulating sins. The soul seizers were heroes to Llehhtneves, they were the soldiers at the war front and our world’s future rested on their shoulders. Their purpose was to create corruption through the humans on earth. This would weaken their human bonds and lead to their downfall, so that Llehhtneves can colonize and increase its territories. Everyone admired the seizers, except me. I saw them as the evil that existed from our world. Why can’t you teach these humans to be better people instead of taking advantage of their sins? Capturing humans when they are most vulnerable does not exactly portray strength and courage, does it? But I kept quiet because questioning was a sin.
Many years passed by and we were 22, ready for our send-off. None of us, nor anyone younger than us, knew what happened after the send-off. People just disappeared to ‘fulfil their purpose’. However, the women come home to reproduce when they are 27, but head back out afterwards. The dragons raise us with courage and persistence and the Chiefs educate us. As a sneaky child, I always tried to discover where the women came from and left to. One of the times when I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been, I saw a few of the women stepping into a blue mirror. After then, I started seeing the mirror in my dreams. In fact, I crossed over a few times and met the creatures called humans. They were not as bad as the people of Llehhtneves made them seem, but I could not trust my dreams. I dreamt of these humans so much and realized how much potential they had, if only they knew the dangers of their sin. This may have been too extreme for a dream, but I even became friends with some of these humans. I shared their pain and joys and felt connected to them. Before I woke up to reality, my dreams consumed me and felt like the only reality that existed. In these dreams, I already found my purpose. No matter what it took I would make sure that no harm comes to humans, I would save their kind and teach them how to avoid sin.
Send off day came and Chief Natas said it was ‘secret reveal day’. Nobody kept secrets in Llehhtneves, this along with sleeping during the dark and active hours were the biggest sins. We were uniformly dressed in blue fires, but the chiefs had red fires on. Every outfit burned darkly and vigorously like the flames were terrified to quench. Chief Natas said, “You have learnt how to measure sin and be just, how to make appropriate decisions as leaders and how to read minds and translate intentions. You have also learnt more than enough about the soul seizers and they have become your idols over time. I am here to tell you who you have been born to be and help you define your purpose. 22’s, you are soul seizers. That has always been the purpose of your production. Go into the world and seize.
I was in shock. Disappointed, sad, infuriating shock. The blue mirror appeared and my mates jumped in happily. I stood. Jaw open, mind blocked. “What?”
Chief Natas spotted my anger amidst the exultant crowd which was now slowly depleting as each blue flame disappeared into the blue mirror. My mates would be spread across the earth, and start ‘living their dream’. I wished I was going to live my dreams too; the fun ones I had every night with humans. Chief Natas asked what the problem was, but all my courage vanished and no reply came. Everything that I was vanished into thin smoke, mixing with the smoke from my blue fire outfit. It all just blended out and made sense. Chief Natas said “Open up your mind, you too did not need the sun to be blinded. Spell my name backwards, spell the village’s name backwards. Understand what you have always been”.
These humans are not to blame for their corruption, we make that happen. We heard the stories growing up; but they were descriptions of our future selves. Have you sinned lately? I am on your side, and I have betrayed my people for you. I am the devil that will save you. Sleep.