The light flickers on and off as it has for the last few days, or hours. I’m not sure. They haven’t come to beat me or feed me lately. I’ve been stuck in this shed, sweating and dry heaving from the heat. I’m not sure if Summer has already come or they’re heating this place up on purpose. I wouldn’t put either past them. I haven’t given up on Destiny coming to save me, I just wonder why she’s taking so long to do it.

“You need to save yourself,” a raspy voice speaks from behind me.

“Is someone there,” I ask before feeling a hand on my shoulder.

“You should wait for the girl,” another voice, much smoother from the other side.

“What’s going on,” I ask, unable to see behind me.

“The boy is confused, you know I love that,” the raspy voice.

“These young people always are. So in love with the religion that the white man gave them that they don’t learn their own past. You know, that’s why so many of us get the call at once. They don’t know who they should actually be calling,” the smooth voice this time.

“We should just fight it out and see who wins,” the raspy voice.

“Now, where’s the fun in that?”

“You know I’d have a bloody good time,” the raspy voice laughs.

“I bet you would Ekwensu,” the smooth voice this time.

“Now you’ve said my name, Anansi,” the raspy voice.

The two step in front of me as they continue to argue and I have to be hallucinating again. One stood in front of me dressed like an accountant in the midst of war. Wearing slacks and sandals he would seem odd in an office. As my vision moved up I realized his torso was only covered by countless scars and a beaded necklace. In one hand he carried a shield shaped like a tortoise shell. On his side a black sword with various gold charms hanging from it. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of his smile when the light flickers. Long dreadlocks with more golden charms meaning he’s probably wealthy. The other was even more strange. He stood there in a full suit and tie, his own dreadlocks tied neatly behind his head. He looked completely unassuming until I focused my vision, four spider-like limbs shooting from his back. Each adorned with gold trinkets. The hallucination is really working overtime.

“I told you put those disgusting legs away Anansi,” the raspy voice, meaning he’s Ekwensu.

“Why don’t you put your shell on and we’ll see who looks weirder,” Anansi continues to joke.

“Eight legs mean more bones to cut out,” Ekwensu threatens while gripping his sowrd.

“Spiders have an exoskeleton; the bones are already out. Technically, in this form I have six legs and two arms. This is why I rule over stories and knowledge, but you have chaos and war. I have no idea why we are both called tricksters. I don’t do tricks,” Anansi seems annoyed.

“Your tricks are more like pranks. Mine are strategies for war. We are not the same.”

“Your only strategy is chaos.”

“You need both to win a war.”

“Really? Well why do merchants call to you. Answer that.”

“Strategy, and hopefully nobody dies if a deal goes bad. Why do they keep turning you into children’s books?”

“Why did the white man turn you into a devil?”

The two lock eyes with Ekwensu gripping his sword tighter. Anasi rises on his spider legs lifting his human legs from the ground, possibly preparing for a fight. Suddenly they both begin to laugh and embrace each other as old friends. All while my sweat mixes with blood in this unbearable heat.

“Can one of you help me get free,” I interrupt the laughter, only for them to laugh harder.

“You can get yourself free. You just have to decide how,” Anansi smiles coyly at me.

“What’s there to decide?”

“You could play dead, and kill whoever comes to check,” Ekwensu speaks.

“Or, you could promise to lead them to what they want, then flee,” Anansi counters.

“If he is caught, would that not lead to more pain than he has already endured?”

“But the greatest knowledge is gained through pain. Do you know about when Gun died,” he turns his attention to me.

“No, I don’t know that.”

“One day I was hungry, I didn’t have any food at home so I asked a hunter if I could borrow his gun. I carried the gun around, and told all the animals Gun was dead. They rejoiced and we had a grand funeral. Then I killed several of them, with Gun. I had a full belly for nearly a year, but they learned even a dead enemy can bring you pain,” Anansi finishes his story as if he expects applause.

“Everything you need to learn, can be learned from war. Embrace the violence, let your enemies blood water your crops. When they know true violence, they will bargain. Kill whoever comes, bite at their neck if you must. They will bargain. Do you know why there are no stories of me but everyone knows my might,” Ekwensu asks, almost nose to nose.

“Because you killed everyone and their mothers,” Anansi jokes.

“No,” Ekwensu whips around. “It is because I give people exactly what they ask for, and in return they send thanks up to me.”

“Yes, but in giving them exactly what they want, it is not what they requested at all,” Anansi interrupts. “That is why you are labeled a trickster, the same as I.”

“I am no trickster.”

“No am I.”

“Seriously, can one of you just take off these straps,” I stop them again.

“If I take off the straps, walk through the door and murder everything that breathes until you are free. They deserve no mercy from you,” Ekwensu gives me a haunting smile.

“Loosen the straps by misleading your captives,” Anasi responds. “Haven’t you suffered enough? Do you not get the lesson I’m trying to teach you?”

“You haven’t tried to teach me anything other than betraying my missing girlfriend is the right move,” I argue.

“Yes, that is the move. Betray her location, cheat on her, it is all the same.”

“I’d never cheat on her,” he’s making me angry.

“He’s right Anansi, Black men do not cheat. You know that,” Ekwensu says.

“You’re right, Black men don’t cheat, at anything but Spades,” Anansi’s joke cues more laughter between them.

“Please just help me,” I beg them again.

“Answer this for me. Which of us is right? Should you spend a lifetime suffering at the hands of your enemies for knowledge; or learn the craft of violence to prevent future suffering? Which one. Choose one, and we’ll set you free,” Ekwensu offers me.

“Haven’t you already suffered enough? Do you not get the lesson I’m trying to teach you,” Anansi asks.

“You should walk through that door and kill anyone moving. You end this right now if you show them who you are,” Ekwensu argues.

“I feel like I’ll die no matter which way I go. If I run, they’ll catch me, then kill me. If I fight, they’ll kill me.”

"Hurry up and make a decision,” Anansi grows impatient.

“Do not let the trickster distract you,” Ekwensu adds.

“You’re a trickster as well old friend,” Anansi checks his watch.

“Can’t they go hand in hand? Doesn’t violence cause suffering which leads to knowledge. I mean couldn’t either one bring a solution,” I try to answer their question.

“So your solution is to do nothing,” Anansi raises an eyebrow.


“It is a good answer,” Ekwensu responds.

“Isn’t it,” Anansi jokes.

“In war, sometimes doing nothing is enough for your enemy to surrender or starve.”

“Doing nothing means you can watch and learn from other people’s mistakes.”

“I think he’ll do just fine.”

“Yes, he’ll fit in perfectly.”

“I do love our little chats.”

“Can someone tell me what’s going on here,” I break up their conversation.

“Oh, we’re going to leave you here. It's the best way for you to gain some incredible knowledge. It’s going to hurt a little, a lot. But, in the end it’ll be worth it,” Anansi grabs at my face and examines it.

“With the knowledge you gain, you’ll be able to destroy your enemies. Doing nothing is perfect,” Ekwensu pats the top of my head.

“Keep your head,” Anansi says before vanishing into the dark behind me.

“Keep your heart as well,” Ekwensu performs his own vanishing act.

I call out, but nobody answers. I’m left alone in the room again, wondering why I continue to hallucinate. First the water, now this. I’m beginning to wonder if my mind will break before my body at this point. Anansi and Ekwensu. I must be going insane.


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