A Short Story
By Xola Stemele
Listen friend, suba sisbhanxa! Here’s some real advice, be careful. From what I’ve heard, they don’t pause when they send a man to-to his grave. I’m telling you, trust me; you’ll get creases from the clangs of your own surrender. Why do you think no one talks about them? They are too hazardous to the enigmas of the herd!
“Hey ssshhh man.”
Juru’s government elegantly eased out every recorded expression. Verbally, written, whatever you can fucken think of. Yet you talking to me, seeing me, cannot not see any of that. So watch yourself. Do you know the so called umbrella effect? Taken from the Starta files thought to be destroyed? The one about diverting our birth-written blessings? Zula you’re far away from the sun, I get it. Still praying to Juru’s feeble light which beams our lives simply half way! Asking only acceptance from you that some parts may always remain in the dark. And then easily, they let you in. Them, who we, meaning you and I, just spoke about.
“You and who? I don’t know fokol about that. Never seen them once, BUT, I’ll find them. You continue to sing those Looney tunes and you’ll be done. The way I am with you.”
“I can tell that you don’t give a shit about the news anymore.”
Consumed eternally by schemes is the infamous man Sparks. Former agent of the African primal alliance that got forcefully retired after the popular Shula case in 81’, under the rule of President Dosta. Now 20 years later he owns a jazz joint notoriously known for its crowd of intellectuals, diplomats, politicians and former exiles. The politicians and exiles gather in their secluded corners, amused by their own distinct opinions and, constantly seeking space from each other for reasons standard within politics and the likes. Ideologies, Money, perspectives or position.
Unlike Sparks, most of the exiles were cut short from the change, the paper, and even the process. But naturally, not all of them. Zula, a former big time hit-man that mysteriously located his centre, comes to Sparks’ jazz joint with payments he received for jobs done back in the 70’s and 80’s. High class assassinations he feigns to not remember. The public only know 1, but when you go deeper, you find yourself in a sea of skeletons. This is in the past. Zula has now put his life into locating a group of spell doctors called the Akashi. They somehow disappeared in the Eastern Cape around 78’. Known mostly for tearing apart an entire police force using wooden instruments and Akashic chants. The story today passes down as myth, civilized fable or something like the ambiguous heaven. But Zula has a chance; with the money he has, he could travel religiously looking for these guys, in every corner, kasi, village, and etc.
Something has to give. The exiles are swiftly misplacing agents in the Starta house to buy outs, the evil parliament seized up by President Juru. The son of Dosta Zileka. Juru kept the legacy of his father, continuing an economic scheme meant to foster only for his followers, faithfools to his eleventh party. The party kept alive what they called the egocentric doctrine. Setting up captivation camps around the country to swabbing the youth on things such as family, identity, religion, politics and simplistic language. These are all camouflaged through what they call the “Outside-ins”. The kind of compulsory medicines that make you disconnect from yourself, walking with an unconscious transparency that lasts for at least 3 days. During those days they remove or fill your mind with whatever they want. Rarely forgetting to remove your ability to question after finalising this dreamlike process. Functioning on your feebleness to money, they send you off with an average sized cheque and a prearranged place of employment.
Everybody started giving in to this Egocentric doctrine, and for the few exiles left, things were starting to become bleak. Juru was buying all of them, and Sparks seemed to be the first to notice.
“No but you can’t tell me you surprised, Nako too has caught the bug.” Sparks told Zula
“No, you crazy, not Nako. That man hates the doctrine”
“Well, I’m sure he hates himself more”
Nako was lowly and timeworn, but no doubt a living legend to those that knew him. A leader that clashed tirelessly against the brutal forces of Dosta, unfortunately having to flee to exile during Juru’s cleansing of all the rebels for the death of his father. In exile Nako naturally took over dungeons, initiating classes on the concepts of struggle, survival and emotional strength. Often seen as a driving force in Juru’s decision to hand the Izimvo tribe, who publicly rejected the doctrine, their own isolated place in the country. But with short finances coming in, His wife divorced him and remarried his brother Waza, the more successful one, the younger brother with a high ranking job. A very influential person who often publicly rejected his affiliation to the tribe. But after many years of resistance, Nako finally decided to join them too and accept the “I AM” doctrine.
“Are you sure Sparks? Because I know you and that imagination.”
“Why would I lie to you Zula? YOU have no other option but to find them.
“Sparks, where do I even start man?
“Where ever you need to start.”
Without Nako the exiles were fragile, Sparks’ had a joint to run, and former hit-man Zula had to play double agent for the sake of keeping his life. Juru kept a leash on him because of all the confidential things residing in his mind. Delicate cases that could surely pull the curtain down to the floor. Leaving Juru’s one-sided government undressed to his eyeless followers. But that wouldn’t help them win; it would only lead to Zula’s inevitable execution. The only realistic plan to dethrone Juru would be to team up with the Izimvo tribe, find the Akashi, and convince them to help usurp the current regime now persecuting the people. A long shot for people he wasn’t sure actually existed.
Meanwhile all over the country the masses were spewing the same nonsense. Drinking the same beer and avoiding by all means what was called indifference. President Juru loathed similarity, commonality and blind uniformity. Unknowingly in the outskirts of his government there was a new leader making a name for himself. Taking over from Nako’s absence. Unknown in the Starta house and never having taken the compulsory “outside Ins”. Known as Biza, A young man with a tangible spirit and a gift with the Word. In one of his speeches he claimed that he knew exactly what it would take to bring down the doctrine. He had a plan and it was specifically left to him by his father in 78’. Nobody knew his father but everyone knew that to stand up to Juru you had to have a divine purpose. They supported him for this fact alone. Eventually the news of Biza made its way into the country. And had everybody, including Sparks’ jazz joint talking about it.
“Are you telling me after all these years they still believe they can take down Juru?” a drunken voice spoke out in the corner, splitting apart the trumpet that stood as the sole narrator of the night
The intellectuals always jumped up first to sanitize the situation, in case of any truths that may result to bloodshed or disastrous grasps, all in the name of maintaining peace and false harmonies. Sparks looking over the counter couldn’t say anything, because of course the customers were his bread and butter.
“You know I really admire the philosophy of those people, I really like how they find strength in each other. But the Outside- ins are of course the best way of going about it. If they took the doctrine they would no doubt understand this.”
“It’s a shame you can’t see that you’re blinded by the doctrine right now. Do me a favour and tell me what your insides say” the voice sitting at a hidden table at the back callously replied
“Please brother, please. Just look at us. We’re well off right now because we did the right thing. (Laughs from the other tables) I mean if you read Juru’s book, “The tides of independence” you find the word Sacrifice all over!”
“So what huh? So you don’t find the dying of those poor people in the name of a better life, under the basis of Sacrifice?”
“Death is of course unfortunate, but I think you should have a stern look at his chapter 11. Anyways let’s just drink our beer brothers.”
Everybody else kept quiet, leaving any counter arguments to be hearsay. Sparks recorded the info under the counter like he always did, waited for Zula to come by that night and then told him that meeting up with Biza would be his realest hope. Biza could easily speak life into the people; maybe even get them warm enough to open up on the whereabouts of the infamous Akashi.
Getting there took about 2 days, the only way was by car, and when you got there you had to possess a watertight explanation at the border. Basically the only accepted reason was that “You’re here to convert.” Meaning that you found someone inside the tribe that was eager to take the outside Ins, accept the doctrine and then accept Juru’s version of prosperity. After carefully saying this they let you in.
The other side was bursting with manifest polarity. Here Intelligence, and there foolishness, in this corner Faith and in that crowd absence. Unrealized dreams and coiled heartbreaks. People here killing each other over meagre possessions and UNEARTHED garbage. At the same time reclining in a sky saturated by an effervescent culture. Drugs were always visible through lifeless displays, parents as hard-core addicts, careless youth and suicidal adults. Only a small percentage of them knew what clean water was, and almost all of them had accepted that. There were no rules besides the Rules founded on the values of the people. However, only the elders still remembered them. Despite all of that they still lived in communion. But for Biza, he had to live far from the people to avoid things such as disloyalty or getting sniped like the other leaders. Everyone knew that Juru had some agents inside the tribe, only that no one could single them out or stand witness from fears of being taken out.
Zula had to ask around. Most people openly told him that he’d never ever find Biza, but some honestly didn’t know. Nobody found Biza because Biza always found the people. It was accepted for the greater good. The slums were saturated with taverns and churches. Talented singers and crafted schemers galvanising the scenery for their respective hustles, constantly putting doubt in your mind on what life meant. I mean the flank God actually sped on. When charm flows in parallel it’s hard to tell. Zula got some Intel from a boy who claimed that he eavesdropped on his father’s conversations. He knew where Biza was, and would release the info at a rational price. Without any alternative, he paid the kid and headed for the Asar mountains. That is where he would find Biza; sitting calmly overlooking the Serene waterfalls is where he really was. With him was a , Uncountable rounds and a visible route of escape. He had all the means for emission from Zula’s bothering, but he sat there looking. And doing nothing more than that.
“You know how hard it is to find you?”
“What makes you sure that you’ve found me?”
“Biza, come on. We need to talk about the future.”
The present will not cease until you answer my question. Why are you so sure? I mean we don’t know each other.”
I’ve come here in regards to the fall of the doctrine.
As you know, an enemy of thy enemy is a friend. No different to the thoughts of Biza when sizing up Zula. After having said that the road became cooler and clearer. Biza showed him the route to getting to the other side. Neither trusted the other, but both them could not stand the Doctrine, more than that they couldn’t stand President Juru. Therefore they would need to join forces to successfully bring him down. Neither could do it alone. But Biza for some reason believed that Zula would only be surplus to what was required. Regardless that he had no expensive guns, missiles, tanks, fighter jets and all of that Jazz. All he said was his father had left him a letter detailing exactly what needed to be done.
“So you’re telling me you only got a letter to defeat Juru? Seriously?”
“First of all I can’t work with a Non-believer.”
“Listen Biza, I’m just trying to figure out your grand plan man. “
“All you have to do is Trussssst it.”
What Zula didn’t know was that Nako was silently still in communication with Biza, but undercover. Nako apparently didn’t sell out. All that was required of him over there was uncover to the weaknesses of the doctrine, kept carefully on-guard and in eternal surveillance at the Starta house. As well as convincing his brother Waza to betray Juru in order to burn the Outside-ins which were used as a tool to poison the people. That wasn’t even the half of it, Biza was also the son of Seeza, Seeza was the leader of the Akashi as well as a spiritual doctor who had powers of healing through the playing of a simple instrument called the. Without the chance to teach Ziba, he left it all in a letter encrypted with various symbols which could only be understood through dreams. Something given to you by the ancestors in divine scenarios. In the morning, intense meditations, Afternoon, mandatory training to the point of deceased numbness. Abusing the body to a state of not being able tired to resist, allows the ancestors through the night to display supernatural montages to Biza. Dipping clues and signs within his body, leaving him to undress his entrenched powers. Manipulating the air through the sands, melodies that snap to curses or even destruction whenever the tempo is increased. Guns stand no chance, bullets do not even leave the barrel. The only condition was that everybody around had to believe it. Including Zula who had all his faith in the ties he maintained with foreign military. Strong ties that might be willing under the premise of a stake in the land, of course where Juru would’ve fallen. Some sort of piece wherever it could be provided. Biza had other plans for the country, plans that the exiles were not aware of.
“Listen Biza, I can help you. Just tell me, where is the Akashi? “Zula asked curiously on their whereabouts.
“You guys make me laugh. Always want to see see. Can’t help yourself- but, you want to help poor me hehe?”
“How am I supposed to believe that you’re really dreaming those fucken dreams that you say will help us win?”
“Only when you dream them too. Then you will know”
Zula spent 3 days there, something which wasn’t allowed for visitors, because of that the guards eventually sent out a search warrant. Quickly the news broke out of a possible betrayal, Juru knew that the tribe surely still had beliefs of beheading him. It wasn’t any of his officials, Nako claimed to know absolutely nothing about a possible “helper”. President Juru epitomized coolness past its definition. Ministers never knew if he knew or genuinely oblivious to hidden conditions. Nako had been working on his brother Waza, putting aside personal grudges, ego trips and the longings for his wife, because to him, destroying those evil tools meant more. The manufacturing of the outside ins, the indoctrination process was headed by Waza, chosen for his disdain for children whom he feared would take his place one day. Waza was the irreversible egocentric that Juru enjoyed being around. Forever protecting him in situations that proved him of fault.
Inside the Tribe Biza refused to hide Zula from his desperate attempts of not being found. The guards know the land from below to beyond, every gutter, forest and community. They would find Zula eventually, and it could not be with Biza because he couldn’t protect him. Not yet, suggesting that Zula hand himself in and lie about the resistance he incurred from his supposed convert. Changing his mind last minute or something of that nature. The Starta house wouldn’t believe him, and if they took him to Juru, it would be obvious. They would kill him. Maybe on the way there if Juru gave the Okay.
“Where can we meet to plan on a day to strike? I will talk to Juru. Sparks, a friend of mine can help”
“Sparks?! uSphondo of the Primal Alliance? Ask that Babylon of a shit on the whereabouts of the Akashi. He will tell you”
“No you must be mistaken. Sparks knows very little about the Akashi. Only the little details that we all know”
“You’re a fool. I’m surprised you’re still alive”. After saying that Biza took his things and disappeared into the Kwasa bushes. Known for its ever changing colours during the seasons, Biza blended into its scenery leaving Zula confused and in trouble. No longer sure if Sparks was his friend or actually working silently with President Juru. Now knowing that Nako didn’t sell out, it seemed Odd that Sparks was somehow the first from all the exiles to know. But then again Sparks owned a joint that spilled info regularly, the question now is. Is it real or is it fake?
Sparks was an allowed outcast to Juru’s eleventh party. Given the freedom to not exist within the premise. Primarily for co-operating in 1981 when Shula, the head of the African Primal Alliance, was killed in his house by robbers who supposedly took only a packet of cigarettes , leaving everything , including his family, as is. Word was that Sparks knew what happened to Shula, and because of that people expected him to replace him as head which would confirm their suspicions. Instead Sparks retired. After that he layed low, siding with the exiles and consistently showing his disapproval of the doctrine. Zula didn’t know what to believe, because betrayal was not a distant matter in politics. Before sense could come to him, a guard spotted him leaning towards a rock completely oblivious to their approach. Zula still had money he brought to bribe Biza, but he never used it. He also knew that most guards, if not all, could be bought. But first he had to endure through the beating and the torturing and the cruelty. After having fun with him they started listening lightly to his plea. Pleading that they take him as just another nobody with a lot of money. Money he was willing to give away, if they let him go. One of the guards said,
“ Juru is going to want to see you. We already put out a word of betrayal.”
“So what? You can say that I got away. The money is worth it gents. I know the President pays you peanuts for guarding this place.”
After about an hour begging, they took the money and demanded his banking details for further transactions. Allowed to escape, Zula wasn’t sure whether to contact Sparks or maintain silence until things made sense. Confused on whom to trust Zula he hid his head in the midst of on-going rumours regarding another possible rebellion.
Juru’s men tried by all means to locate Biza and failed. Searching all over the country, bribing people to speak out like they always did. Sparks went days without hearing from Zula, assuming that he had been caught, Sparks cancelled the operation, not knowing that Zula had contacted some of the exiles for an offer that involved receiving lucrative positions to anyone willing to sacrifice their life for the victory. Without any word from Biza, Zula got a premonition from a deep rugged voice that came to him on a quiet night while he wrestled with the idea of being setup by his own friend. The voice spoke out in tandem.
“You’ve already failed Zula”
Out of shock Zula looked around to understand where the voice came from, if not inside of his own self. Convincing his presence on the dangers of the present. Infact, it was Biza who had escaped the border and found him. Waiting for a while until Zula stood closer to sleeping and then tried to convince him in his state of openness.
“How did you find me? I thought you had your own plan. After all you left me to die”
“You’ve already failed Zula. Sparks has surely revealed to Juru what your precious plan is.”
“No! I changed my plan”
Sduko, one of the exiles who were in contact with Sparks mainly because he helped him with money, told Sparks on Zula’s plan of excluding him. Already knowing why Sparks went on with his own mission. Creating a rift between the exiles who loved him dearly for the generosity he gave them. Oblivious to it all being an act to hand them over to Juru. All this time Sparks was keeping secrets on information about what happened to the Akashi. He was the one used to lure them, coming President Dosta, the Akashi trusted him enough to reveal their location. Realizing the risks involved, Seeza wrote a letter for his young son Biza, should he be slain from betrayal. Biza would have to learn to inherit these powers and then use them at his will. Nobody in the Izimvo Tribe knew that Biza was Seeza’s son. Only he knew that one day he would have to fight back for what was truly theirs. Just as the Akashi felt, indeed Sparks was filthy, bent by Dosta’s manipulations he exposed them, eventually getting them caught without their instruments and executed in the year of 78’. The government kept it a secret while circulating rumours that they had fled the country with the other exiles. This came to be the myth that Sparks had told him in the beginning. As all of this started making sense, Zula heard an agile knock at the door.(bang! Bang!)
“Who is it?” Zula asked while Biza hid himself behind a wardrobe that wasn’t leaning against the wall.
“Its Sparks man! I’ve been looking for you the entire weekend.”
Surprised by the timing, 01: 11am, having been up plotting on how to handle Sparks. He knocked again. “Bham! Bham!” As soon as he opened, Sparks had a gun pointed straight to his temple. Wearing an all-black attire meant to camouflage in-between the gloom that filled the night. Sparks knew that Zula knew, Zula wasn’t stupid. What Sparks didn’t know was that Biza was the child of a member of the Great Akashi.
“I don’t trust you anymore Zula, I think that trip changed you”
“Is it true? You helped in the killing of the Akashi?”
Before Sparks could pull the trigger, aloof to the sentiments of the dialogue, Biza revealed himself through a tune. Numbing Sparks to the ground leaving him rigid to all the accords. He couldn’t move and Zula had no idea what was going on. Biza learned the ways of the Akashi well enough to intercept the Gun and all its madness, he could easily turn bullets into water using discrete chants, the kind only the Izimvo could comprehend. Zula couldn’t hear anything besides Sparks’ crying. Every part of his limbs was in pain and he couldn’t even see who or what the cause was. Biza came and took the gun, leaning over him with a deep anger to kill him but he ceased his melody. Silence dawned on the scene right before sunrise; Zula grabbed the gun from Biza to end Sparks for his attempt at killing him but got stopped by Biza. It wasn’t worth it; the main target was Juru, not Sparks. Biza got into his head to get him talking, using a stocki instrument that encouraged honesty, Sparks went on and unconsciously disclosed all he knew, including Juru’s location. 57th floor inside the Starta house.
After taking all the intel on how to penetrate the 57th floor, Biza wiped Sparks’ mind of the entire affair. They left him crying on the floor as an empty shell misplaced of memory, and left for the Starta house, President Juru had been waiting for them. As soon as they arrived, a flurry of guards camouflaged as soldiers, all armed with heavy artillery, grenades, AK-47’s, but Nako wasn’t there as planned. His job was to get Waza to agree on betraying Juru by getting command of his forces. They trusted Waza more than they did Juru, because he was closer to them.
The Starta house was erected far from the City, on the outskirts purposely to be far away from the people, the masses had no idea that an imminent war was on its way, the power that lies in the youth was in slumber, and only the elders and the exiles still remembered the joy that existed before the Doctrine. Plus they had not taken the Outside-ins.
The exiles were far from sight, as they stood there none of them knew of a Biza, some of them knew Zula, possibly, but not enough to defy orders from Juru himself on their termination. With the army were machine guns, multiple grenades and jets in the sky on stand-by. Zula was scared and Biza stood there motionless, they were given orders to vacate the premises but they were adamant on the slaying of the president by any means. Before Biza could pull out his instrument, shots started firing in their direction, but not even one hit them, Biza summoned spirits to block the army’s fire and pull their weapons using ancestral forces that could only be seen by Biza himself, the soldiers were shocked as they mounted without their weapons some were banging on the Starta Houses’ in between the shut doors, in fear and furiously pleading to Biza to reveal what he wanted, Zula took the moment to make his claim on the future of the country.
“This country will be moving into a new direction. Far from the doctrine, with me as its driver. Hehe“
Before Biza could even answer, Zula started unloading bullets to crowd of soldiers who had already unconsciously given up. Shooting them was only a way of getting the President’s attention, who was still inside the Starta house.
A silence fell upon the scene, after the bullets seized, the president is in his leer waiting, they wanted him and not the other way around. Otherwise the guards life was spared by Biza’s Stocki, turning these bullets into water. And the water ran down towards the soldiers, transforming itself into an ocean. Sweeping the soldiers into a stream. Wherever Jury was, you can imagine him seeing this. But before they could get through the gate, inside was Waza standing, but without Nako, who was surely inside the House. This somehow worried Biza, because he still wanted Waza to return to the tribe. And Nako was the one to convince him, while also sparing his life. Because he would die too, if he stood in the way, of this new Day.
Waza, in charge of the “Outside-Ins”, devised his own plan after hearing from one of the Exiles on Zula’s plan of Killing the President. So a force was assembled. A force that had no idea of a Biza. Or more importantly that, this Biza didn’t fuck around. The force comprised of 56 specialists. Training in every kind of combat.Militancy,gunslinger’s, ass kickers, masters in chemical warfare, sonic rifles, the works. And no bullshitters. Jury instructed Waza from the Telekom to stop playing and end things. Having not seen his previous soldiers flow away into a make shift river made by Biza.
The starta gates opened, far from the masses was Zula with an Ak-47 on his left hand, and an Uzzi on his right. Biza had nothing but a wooden instrument in his hand. Which pressed the force( who believed in strange occurrences) to question this to Waza.
“Mfeli, who is this motherfucker with Zula, are we really facing one here?”
“Seems like it. Majita, mazitshe. Moto, Iya!”
Moto, as told, went forward with the Blizzard, firing flames straight towards the pair. But before it even reached them, Biza covered him and Zula with ingubo ka Mpinga, an aura, a blanket made of Ether and Water surrounded them. The flames couldn’t penetrate. The rest of the force proceeded with sonic rifles, blasting waves that seemed to break Biza down. To the amusement of Waza who thought this is all that would become.
Within the blanket Biza multiplied himself into 3, 2 of them broke out from the flames, the clones couldn’t be killed, so they sliced the specialists into pieces from the blades attached to their hands. The rest of them stepped into the chaos with guns, shooting the clones made Biza weaker, but they couldn’t make Biza die. So using his stocki he deflected the bullets and sent them back to their shooters, hitting all but Waza. Who stood there unable to fathom his own demise.
“Who are you? Are you part of that group Jury killed? Didn’t he Kill all of you?” Asked Waza
“Enough with those questions?” Answered Zula.
Then shot him twice in the head, dying then and there. And Nako was already Slaughtered they came to find out. When they went up to the 57th Floor. They found no one. No Juru, nothing. Only an akashic instrument and a note. Written :
ALL FALLS DOWN.