THE SLATE OF VALE BY ANTHONY OKWUDIRI
How it all began
Hundred of years has passed and yet the war with the ageless demon has not ended. Driven and beaten they created a new world and went into hiding. But now the world they created is crumbling and the only way to live is to fight.
Fighting is the only option but the years they had spent hiding had brittle their braveness into weakness.
The door opened with a cracking sound, accompanied by fast rays of white light and ear deafening sounds of footfalls. The rattling of chains followed the metallic cold hands which dragged the man on the bare floor to his feet.
The man stood up reluctantly but did not struggle because he knew the end was near, struggling now would be vain. How long has it been? He tried to remember but restrained from it, that would only pressure his already weak brain, and keeping a warm hand on time here was very difficult.
“Hold him still.” a deep voice echoed and immediately the grip on the man’s arm tightened as the two keepers held him. Their emotionless eyes were hidden behind their visor as usual and neither of them spoke.
The man who had spoken earlier was in a battle gear, with cape hanging over his shoulders and flowing behind. The air about him was fresh, a contrast to the foul air of the cell. He held a plastic bottle that was filled with water, and this bottle he forced into the mouth of the other man in chains.
Some of the liquid found themselves in the mouth of the man in chains, some splattered his hairy face and dirty body, coursing itself in heavy drops down to the floor.
The chained man coughed and tried to spit out the salty liquid, but even as he tried, he knew it was a vain effort, for he could feel the liquid going down his gullet. He hopelessly lifted his head to meet the eyes of the man who had force the liquid into his mouth. It was a struggle to keep his eyes open amid the white light that blurred his vision, but he was able to make out the rhombus pendant emblazoned gracefully on the man’s chest. The red streak running down his cloth and the vermilion belt holding two Sol-X. The dark jumpsuit and the cape hanging on the man’s shoulder plate, was an eye catching view of who the man was, it was no doubt, the man was a member of the court of five and of the red linage.
Fear gripped the man in chains as he realized who was standing before him. Yes, I know who they are, what they are after and why they have sent this one. I would rather die than succumb to the manipulative nature of these evil men.
“Why the salty liquid” the chained man asked weakly “for the injustice so far, at least be kind to me as today is my last.”
“You deserve no kindness.” the man in battle gear said without remorse. “Salt is purity when mixed with water. The water would keep you hydrated, while the holy salt would purify you from your iniquities and lead you to the hands of the creator.”
“You speak of the creator as though you know him, as though your wayward life is impeccable and true, but in actual sense we know you are just another spark of impurity in the dough. You call me a lunatic and a thief, but one day the people of Anadan would see the truth and then, the world you know would crumble to nothing.”
The man in chains spat. He made to wipe the salty liquid off his face, but the two keepers holding his hands would not let him.
The other man chuckled and wiped his damp hands with a clean white towel, he had his gaze on the exit, not looking at the man in chains.
“You see, that’s the problem with you, old chap. You are a man with high hopes. The covenant court of five have sealed lips. Who would tell the world about your insane speculation of the apocalypse, these machines?” The man in battle gear gestured with mockery at the two robots holding the other man in chains.
They were called the keepers of truth and sanity. They wore white breast plate as armor and their abdomen was made of black insulted tubes.
“The truth the people knows is the truth we want them to know. We rule the world and direct what people believe, I wonder why that’s too difficult for you to accept. Give us the slate of vale, Max, and then you can go home and see your family again.”
“Leave my family out of this.” The chained man shouted with a renewed strength as the image of his wife and his seven-year-old son flashed in his memory. The hope of seeing them again had kept him going ever since they locked him in this hell of a cell called Ogred.
“It’s good to see that anger in your eyes Max, or should I say, Gray Blur?” The man in battle gear shook his head with indignation “it’s such a pity to see your racing glory in dust. Hand over the slate of vale now that you are still breathing. We will clear your name and you could go back to your old life, you would pick up your H-board from the bin and have everybody chanting your glorious name again. Nobody would believe this had ever happened”
The man in battle gear had moved closer now and was stroking the hair of the chained man, whom he had called Max.
“Please forgive me great lord” Max said with sarcasm “but the slate of vale is in a place where you or the likes of you would never find it.”
The man in battle gear angrily pulled Max’s hair with such force that he cried out in pain.
“Don’t think I would not enjoy letting you to wrath in this place, killing you is being too merciful” the man in battle gear said and let the hair of the other man go. He adjusted his shoulder plate and smiled innocently
“As for the slate of vale, am a very patient man, it will come to me eventually. Yes, I won’t rush and neither will I stop until I get it. Anybody who stands in my way would be a story in history, even those old men in the covenant court of five”
The man in battle gear looked down at his bracelet as though he had just remembered something that he was not meant to forget.
“Hmm, about time.” He said, smiling wickedly “Your clock is ticking Max. I hope you make it out alive.”
“What do you mean? Are you are letting me go” Max asked with confusion as the keepers unlocked his chains and stepped away from him. They both walked out of the cell leaving both humans together in the small room.
“Like I said before, I have no intension of killing you old friend, But you see, I need to seal the lips of those old men in the covenant court of five, who are waiting for me now to present you. They think I am their errand boy or some dog they could order around to go get some shit” the man in battle gear gnashed his teeth angrily.
“I want to kill them all, and what other way do I have if not this great opportunity? I will be whole again Max, and all this drama would cease once I lay my hands on the slate of vale” the man in battle gear laughed as he made it to the exit without looking at Max “Goodnight old man, see you in hell.”
Max was dumbfounded as to what the man in battle gear was blabbing about. He watched the man walked out of the room and until the two keepers returned with grenades all over their body, did the knowledge of the man’s word hit him.
The man in battle gear was going to blow the whole place, killing him and everybody in the mansion. It would appear like an accident or whatever story the man came up with.
Oh, Max exclaimed knowingly and rushed to the exit, but it was too late, the whole building had suddenly collapsed, trapping him in an eternal darkness.