FORGIVE ME, FATHER, FOR I HAVE SINNED
“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I imagined Nneka naked in my head,” Iwuobi said.
There was silence from the other side.
“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned,” he said again.
The silence from the other booth of the confession box was loud enough to burst his ears. He listened for some time, trying hard to ignore the uneasiness growing up inside him. Then quietly, he slipped out of the booth and walked into the church. It was empty. There were people here before, he thought, people who wanted to make their confessions. They were nowhere to be seen now. That uneasiness reared its unpleasant head in his guts again. He moved towards the door. That was when he noticed it, a trail of blood leading to the priest’s inner chambers.
Father Amaka, he thought in alarm, is he okay? He followed the blood trail while every nerve in his body was screaming at him to run the other way. He gritted his teeth and moved slowly. The door was ajar only slightly and opened when he pushed it. The light streaming in from the window allowed him a full view of the room. He rushed back out and gagged his insides out. The father was sitting on a seat with his severed head dripping blood on his thighs.
Iwuobi ran out of the room, trying hard to keep his mind from screaming itself mad. He threw open the door to the church and ran outside. He was shouting as he ran. Then he stopped. Something was wrong. Where was everybody? The cars were abandoned with open doors, the sidewalks empty of life, the shops had no one in it. His mind took him on a frightening journey to the story Father Amaka always told about the rapture. He retraced his steps back to the church and walked inside.
“Welcome,” a voice like what death would fear said.
Iwuobi looked around fast. A huge shadow just hovered near the confession booth.
“The others didn’t make it,” the shadow said slowly.
“Who are you?” Iwuobi stammered.
“I am your God. And we live on Mars, not heaven.”
“What…? I… don’t…”
“Have you heard of the great tribulation?”
“Yes. No. Yes… I erm…”
“Survive the tribulation and you’ll be ‘forgiven’.” The creature tried a grating sound which Iwuobi supposed to be a chuckle. “Behold the sixth trumpet.”
Right before his very eyes, the shadow melted away. The tribulation, he thought, the sixth trumpet. Panic filtered into his thoughts, taking his senses away.
At the sound of the sixth trumpet, two hundred million demon horsemen will come for those left. Where will you spend eternity?
Father Amaka’s voice resonated in his ears. The ground vibrated. The sound of a million and more horses shook the church pillars. He turned to the altar and muttered “forgive me, Father. Save me.” His feet ran towards the front door. Right above the doorpost was a newly scratched sign. ‘Martians are the true Gods.’