By Samuel Sebbowa Bunnya, Uganda
She did not how long she fell. All she knew was that the demons were not before her eyes. I still feel them around me. That was all. Something acrid and disgusting filled her nose which forced her out of her state. Somehow she had regained her body sense. She could feel the scratchy surface on which her skin lay. She could feel the heat of a fire near and worst of all she could smell maggots and soiled breeches in her nose.
Her eyes flew open but they hurt. Everything was blazing white. Where am I? She closed her eyes once again. All she could remember was darkness and now it was a blazing white. She did not know why she closed her eyes. She was hoping that the darkness would return. She was afraid to meet the blazing white that was different from the darkness and demons she was so used to seeing. She wanted the grey clouds more than anything. She opened her eyes again but took her time to open them all the way.
The light was not as painful and blazing as it had been a few moments ago. Things started to become clear. She could make out certain things where she was. It was a strange place but not as dark and deep. Different animal skins lined the mud covered walls. The roof was made of dried thatch and there were baked clay pots near her. She could feel the sticky sweat that coated her and the disgusting smell that had reached her was close to her.
Her mind turned to the demons. Where are they? She panicked as her eyes darted from side to side. The dark faces and sneers were nowhere in sight. All she saw were strange faces and forms. One of them approached her. Ryta panicked. The demons have a new game. She could not make out who or what it was. As they drew closer, she felt her weakness as she tried to cower away from the approaching figure. Her body was slow to react. It did not want to listen to her.
An ancient and serene face looked down at her, stopping her from moving further away. The old face was motherly and seemed to calm her down. She saw calm blue eyes looking at her and she wished she could go to whoever owned them. They reminded her so much of someone she had lost a long time ago. They also reminded her of something the dark demons had stripped her of.
Ryta’s eyes looked to her body that was covered by a thin blanket. She could feel the tautness of fibre bandages across her back. She could see them as her eyes travelled back to the woman. Ryta’s breathing started to increase. Her eyes shifted away from the woman’s before being drawn back to them. There was a strange calmness that gathered around her through those eyes. Her breathing started to calm down.
“Calm down,” the woman said. Her voice was low and soft. “You’re safe here.”
“Does she know who we are?” another asked from behind the old woman.
“Give her time. She been back few moment.” Ryta did not know where she was. She tore her eyes away from the woman and looked round in fear.
She felt soft hands making her look into the deep blue eyes once more. “No one will hurt you,” the woman soothed. She turned her face from Ryta. “Will you all be quiet? Her memory will come.”
“You know you healing good.” It was a male voice. Ryta heard the surprise in it.
“She know everything,” a voice Ryta had heard before spoke up.
Once more Ryta was frightened. She thought of the devils. She opened her mouth but only a strangled and croaked yelp came out. “Give me some water,” the old woman said. She placed her hand under Ryta’s head. Ryta was confused. Why are you helping me? The woman received and small bowl of water and placed it on Ryta’s perched lips. Ryta opened them as her eyes stayed on the blue of the old woman that was helping her. She took slow and simple sips of the water.
As it slid down her throat, she felt a soothing effect. She took it as the woman gave it to her. After a few more sips she started to cough it out as the soothing effect vanished. Ryta started coughing into the bowl as some of the water splashed onto her face. Ryta coughed as more air entered into her lungs. Her breathing calmed down; the coughing started to calm down and her throat became clear.
The woman removed the bowl from her lips and placed her head down on the small bed. Ryta saw the sadness in the blue eyes. She saw the deep worry etched in the lines of the old woman’s face. Ryta was not used to such pity after the sneers of her personal devils. Ryta blinked and opened her eyes as soon as the horrors appeared behind her lids. She looked into the calm blue eyes.
She heard the whisper of movement near her. Who else is coming at me? Ryta was still afraid but not as afraid of the people around her as she had been. She had nowhere to run. Her heart was telling her to be weary of the games of the devils. She looked into the blue eyes and was a little guarded. The devils had full control of her. They had broken her and taken her will and strength.
“Look around.” The woman urged her with a calm and honest voice. “Look at her.”
Ryta listened to the gentle voice. I know your voice. She looked deeper into the aging blue. As she looked at the woman, her memory opened up. She knew those blue eyes and the regal face that was misplaced on a slave woman. The small memory of the old woman protecting two younger girls came to her.
“Amah,” Ryta whispered.
All the memories flooded her mind. The gates were open. You all came to save me. She knew them and she remembered the last time she had seen them; the fateful night. Ryta looked round now that her eyes were used to the light. It was no longer blinding her. She blinked as the tears slid down her cheeks. She had not realized that her eyes had watered up. Ryta took a breath as she stilled her heart.
She pushed the fear and thoughts of the devils away as she saw the dark-skinned Sabbah woman, Ayah, the two Eradian girls, Rashina and Amyra; all looking at her with deep concern. She remembered them. She could not help the small smile that tried to worm its way onto her lips. She could trust the four of them but she could not get rid of the feeling that the devils had some control of what she was doing. Am I in a dream?
“You no dead,” a strange voice she did not really know spoke up.
Ryta searched for the source of the voice. Her eyes landed on the fifth person in the little space. He was as tall as Ayah and of the same skin. His build was massive. He had broad shoulders and a thin line of hair above his upper lip. His nose was crooked and larger than most, striking a difference with his fat cheeks. His dark eyes were set apart and formed a natural scowl on his face. He had a face that somehow reminded her of Scheptor.
As soon as that thought crossed her mind, Ryta tried to scamper further away from the man. Ryta tried to block out the fear that built up in her chest. This is a trick of the dark things that have plagued me. She looked at Amah, hoping the woman saw the pleading in her eyes. “What is Scheptor doing here?” she whispered. Ryta could only hope she was no longer alone with her demons. She pulled the thin blanket over her body as she looked at the man. “He…he…I…k…kill…killed him,” she stuttered.
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