It was Ndozie Achidie they took first. She’d come home to promote her book and she’d gone missing. Then a Nobel laureate was kidnapped and tortured to death. Murders and kidnappings of writers around the world punctuated the festivities of the new year. By March, the professional European writers were gone. By June, every writer not from Africa was missing or dead. By December, every writer who’d at some point won something was located and shot down.
They called it ‘WRITOCALYPSE’- the event that wiped off the writers of the world. Nobody knew what triggered it. The world government endorsed it- presided over by USA, England, Russia, Germany, and France. The world remained agnostic and no one stood up to them.
Soon, writers were declared wanted, dead or alive. The UN surreptitiously claimed to own an asylum in Geneva for the remainder of the frightened writers. They all thronged there like soldier ants to sugar. They were bombed to smithereens.
31, DECEMBER 2036
The banging on the door woke her. Heavy, dedicated, and resolute. They were here, and she’d die. Quickly, she grabbed the manuscript just as the door broke down.
“Freeze!” Shots whizzed past her as she jumped out the small and only
window in the room. It was a leap of faith-she had no idea where she would and – but it was better than the Wright Force’s clutches. It was easy to take down foreign writers. Their government was organized and symmetrical, they knew everyone and they could easily locate, box, and execute them. The world was devoid of writers except in Africa. Africa’s population was more or less speculated and the forces in it weren’t ‘enforcing’. To solve this conundrum, African leaders came together and created a unified force specifically to hunt writers. They called them the ‘Wright Force’. Of course the pun was intended. It wasn’t long before they successfully wiped out writers from every country in Africa except Nigeria. Nigeria became the stronghold
for writers, the last stand.
Boom! Another shot ricocheted into the street with her entering a stall
some feet from her. An ungodly moan signified someone had been hit,
reminding her of her own mortality.
“Freeze!” They screamed.
She ran faster, bolstered on with the courage of innocence. The only crime she’d committed was being born creative. The world government now monitored the education system. Any child that showed creativity in letter writing or essay was taken away, never to be seen again. English courses were eroded from tertiary institutions, the language was subjected to mere communication conduit. To protect their children, parents home schooled them to suppress their writing prowess. The art had become leprosy, and writers had become accursed.
“Freeze!” Boom! “Freeze!” Boom!
She liked Ibadan. Although it was an ancient place, the air was wine − it got better as time touched her stay here. Every writer in the country came here when Lagos, Enugu, and Kaduna fell. They came with their stories of loss and manuscripts of woes. Writers found one another slowly, like broken verses, they connected and created an anthology of demise. They all wrote something that would set them free. In it, they laid their inconspicuous accounts of mortality and oppression. In it, they wrote their tattered hopes for peace, they wrote something the world government termed ‘dubiously canonical’.
Something that could upset the balance of the war against them. No, it wasn’t war, for the writers didn’t pick up arms to defend themselves. It was genocide.
The writers were being skimmed to hell. There was heaven for neither. No one who killed with such violence could make heaven, and none so brutally killed could hope for serenity in the afterlife. They only came together to write one story. So many writers, one story, fused together by creative flexibility and intellect. The world government had cause to be afraid. It was this manuscript they wanted from her. And they’d get it, even if she’d die. She was prepared to… To read more download Paths: An Okike Prize Anthology for free.
Written by Olamide Olanrewaju for Paths: An Okike Prize Anthology (2017)