The air was red. The atmosphere reminded me of a colour-correct thriller movie poster. There was a lot of activity and at the same time extreme inactivity. Folks moved about as though they had a burden on their shoulders. The news had welled up from our Spirit; it had not been communicated to us by an external force or read in a newspaper. It was Judgement day. The one written about in the bible. The rapture had already occurred, i think. I couldn’t be sure. No one is sure of anything anymore. The news was attended by an unusual slowness. We did not know what to do about it-yet.
She was talking to me about where she thought she might end up when the Heavenly Host arrived for the final selection. I was listening but I couldn’t understand what she was saying, maybe because I was thinking of how improbable this whole situation was. Judgement day was real. It had felt so distant the day before when we were all having the time of our lives. There was no immediate threat because we were at the high point of our existence-laughing, clubbing, gisting, drinking and partaking in all the forbidden pleasures.
Now I wish we could take it all back. We all knew inherently that praying would be useless because the Host would be busy preparing for their own arrival to care about the last minute desperate prayers of derelict mortals.
Then the awareness came. Without being told, I understood it.
God and the Host had arrived.
I stood up from my bed in what seemed like a hotel room. The woman had since left. I simply had to know my fate.
I walked out the door and discovered quietly that I was in the middle floor of a three storey building. It was happening at the top floor. I walked to the end of the veranda and climbed up the stairs, all the time wondering what I was going to meet at the top of the stairs. Wondering, like in a horror movie, if my fate would destroy me, though I was afraid i already knew the answer to that question.
In brief flashes, my life went before me. I was never very sinful, just truant in my worship to God. I thought again about the realism of the whole situation. Could this really be happening? I wished it was a dream. I wished I could go back and make all things right. I wish I could go back in time and submit myself wholly to His worship and adoration. I wanted to breakdown but my will was not my own. I realised that even the cripple would have had legs on this day to hasten his judgement.
I reached the top of the stairs.
There was a hall, outside of which stood well built boys about my age in white shirts. White shirts that had very thin horizontal red stripes. It reminded me of food company personnel. I saw a pastor from school among them. I looked into the hall which was teeming with seated people, very colourful in their dresses. Deep down I knew what they were doing there but I did not let that knowledge reach my consciousness. I looked toward the guy in white shirts nearest to me.
” Please sir , erm , what am I supposed to do here?”
Two more appeared beside him. Did I mention that they were holding a stack of cards? Cards which reminded me of the exit cards issued by my school for weekend travellers. Each of the cards in their hands had a .name written on it near the top.
“What is your name?” he asked with a slight smile, the professional kind. He was handsome. He looked perfect. I realised he was one heavenly angel among many here for this task of selecting the damned.
Something else, He spoke to me in Ibo.
‘Ekwe, Ekwe Martin’, I answered in a shaky yet hopeful voice.
The other two disappeared. Perhaps the alphabets in my name were not in their jurisdiction.
With blinding precision, he opened the stack of cards to the EK section. It was an EKWERE-something that appeared first. I didn’t know what it meant. I was hopeful. I realised I didn’t know if my name was supposed to be there or not. I waited for his verdict.
He looked up at me with a sad smile and said in Ibo,’ your name is not here’
He looked sideways into the huge room with the quiet multitude. It was a signal for me. A silent signal.
As he stacked his cards together, he made an attempt at a joke. I think it was a joke, because he chuckled slightly as he said it. But it wasn’t funny. Not in the least.
‘Get in there quickly, so we can bundle all your meat to that hot place’, he said in perfect Ibo. I knew he could have said perfectly in a thousand other languages I was so sure he knew.
For some reason, I wasn’t hysterical as I ought to have been. I accepted it calmly. My destination was Hell.
Well, in truth, we only rebel against what we believe to be a lie. My whole life was a testimony before my eyes, in this case a testimony glaringly against me and my desire to enter the pearly gates. There were no grounds for complaining after I had known my fate. I had hoped for the best-hope, I said. But since I didn’t get it, I didn’t really deserve it.
I walked into the hall. It was filled with all sorts of seated people, dressed in all manners, big, small. Male, female, young, old-all strata of humanity were present there. I walked to the back of the hall to take my seat. The hall seemed full, but I knew it could contain another billion souls if need be. As I sat down, I couldn’t help but envision an eternity in the lake of fire. I couldn’t really imagine burning forever. I thought about my family for the first time. I couldn’t remember seeing them in recent times, except my mother, the woman who had been talking to me in the room.
A whole new sensation of guilt and despair descended upon me, but a tear which would have provided an outlet wasn’t forthcoming. This was going to be a long eternity. An eternity without hope.
I opened my eyes, fear in the form of heavy heartbeats still resident in my chest. I stared at the dark ceiling in the low light of early dawn. It had been a dream! This morning had suddenly become the happiest morning since this year began. I almost didn’t believe it. It was the most realistic dream I had ever had. It made me think. This was the second judgement day dream in two years. It made me think some more.
And then, four hours later, I decided to relay it to you folks. Because all that detail and movie-like nature couldn’t have been for only my benefit. One or more of you has to relate to it. I realised that since it will stand as a witness in the future with me in the docket, it might do the same for you.