by Chidi Onyia

BWR 48.2 Flash Contest Runner-Up

I stand on a huge red mud ridge that snakes from the base of the ancient hills, the remnants of a mudslide that occurred in antiquity when great tectonic forces pushed the ground upwards. Later when the people learnt how to shape the earth, they built these pyramids between the villages of Umuaka and Ugwuato to commemorate the ancestors.

I look around at the frenzy of activity around me. Fresh green fronds, osisi nkwu, the sign of secrecy, have been tied together to cordon off the pyramid, no one dares to mount the great steps. Except him. A tall thin man with a woven skullcap. Nzu painted about each eye brandishing a white cockerel, I step back. I will stay out of the way of this man.

But the dibia stops in front of me. He raises the machete I failed to notice. I am finished, so I think.

The spray of warm blood hits my face, going into my eyes and up my nose causing me to double over gasping for air as a cheer goes up. I feel the feathers of the recently decapitated cockerel brushing back and forth over my back. Quickly I am seized on all sides and carried amidst chanting:

anyi abiala gburu odo
anyi abiala gburu odo

The fronds are torn away and in procession behind the native doctor, I am carried up the great step pyramid to the palm frond enclosure hiding the alushi beyond.

Blinking away red I see the Odo I am to carry. I will carry Ovuru Oku, the greatest and heaviest of them all. They give me special mmnaya to drink with ogwu that will give me the strength. The chanting continues because now we wait for the full moon. We wait. For soon, I will be a man.


Chidi Onyia is an ardent reader turned writer. Her short stories have appeared in the Wasafiri literary journal and the 2006 Commonwealth Short stories collection. She lives in Cheshire in the UK.