It was the third day of The Resurrection.
The stadium of the Middle Belt Province, formerly known as the National Stadium, Abuja, teemed with bodies as people pushed through the gates, hoping to be seated before the event began. All sorts were there; the crème of the society, those currently trying to be and those who’d never been. They’d all gathered, united by one purpose: to see their loved ones again.
“Daddy, is Governor Natas really going to bring Mum back?” asked seven-year-old Uzezi as she held her father’s hand.
“Yes, Uzezi,” Omoefe Okpe whispered back and hugged her close. “I hope that he calls her name today. If that happens–when that happens, she’ll go home with us.”
It’d been four years since his wife’s death in an aeroplane crash. It was the day a huge chunk of the sun had disintegrated, leaving most of the world in almost perpetual darkness for the better part of the year.
It’d caused a lethal change in the earth’s rotation, one that had left the atmosphere unstable. First, the earthquakes had come. They were followed by floods, fires, and all kinds of strange sicknesses. What lives these did not take, the famine that followed did. One hardly knew a family that wasn’t in mourning.
The crowd sat in silent expectation as Governor Natas mounted the stage and began to speak.
“How are we doing today? Are we good?”
“Yes, Your Excellency!” the crowd screamed.
“Are we happy?”
“Yes, Your Excellency!” they thundered.
Omoefe watched on, a wide grin on his face. Things were certainly changing now. Before, governments had struggled to get back on their feet and restore a semblance of normalcy.
Former world powers now grappled with extreme poverty; the poor countries simply adjusted to the new levels of impoverishment, like they’d been used to doing before everything ended. Countries had broken apart; some had been renamed and there was talk of establishing one government. Things were bad. But now all of that would soon be in the past.
Then last year, around the world, some people had suddenly become endowed with special powers. They could heal sicknesses and predict the future; avert disaster, grow food plants and conjure new technology. A few, like the governor of Middle Belt Province, could restore life to the dead.
They were like the superheroes they’d all loved watching on tv those years ago. Everyone called them The Miracles. Young, old, employed, destitute—they came from varied classes of society, different beliefs and there were six in each country.
These special ones had two things in common; they all had supernatural powers and shared the same first name—Natas. No one knew where their powers came from and in these desperate times, no one really cared.
“Alright. Note that just like yesterday, I’m going to bring back only one person per family. Using my powers isn’t easy and I need everyone to receive of my favour,” Governor Natas said. The crowd murmured in accord.
“Once everyone has had a risen loved, we’ll start over. As I call each name, they’ll appear on this stage, alive. Are you ready for your miracles?”
The crowd screamed a thunderous “YES!”
“I say, are you ready for your miracles?”
In his seat, Okpe gripped Uzezi’s hand a little tighter and whispered a prayer to the universe, that his wife’s name would be among the favoured ones.
Governor Natas shut his eyes, took a deep breath and began to hum a tune. A misty, grey halo appeared above his head as he began. He began to call out the names.
“…I give you life. Arise.”
“Daniella Ezeudo. I give you life. Arise.”
“Bassey Edet. I give you life. Arise”
The risen ones began to appear on the stage; hazy and transparent like holograms.
Then gradually, they took solid, human form. Their families cried out in joy and rushed forward to be reunited; others joined their cheer.
Weeping with relief and gratitude, Okpe scooped up Uzezi and pushed through the throng to hug his wife.
Hours later, the excitement finally died down in the Okpe household. Uzezi was tucked into bed with her favourite blanket, one of the few things her father had managed to salvage from the wreckage of their home, after the first earthquake. Knackered, Omoefe slipped into bed next to his equally exhausted wife. She snuggled close and he put his arms around her.
Sometime in the middle of the night, he felt his wife’s body slip out of his loose grasp. Groggy, he opened his eyes. Stella-Maris was sitting up and staring down at him. Her eyes, now a strange green, glowed in the dark.
“What’s wrong baby?” he asked, sleep fading from his eyes.
“Your baby is not here,” she replied in a gravelly baritone.
Shock wiped the remnant of slumber from her husband’s eyes.
“Baby?” he whispered, eyes wide.
In the same baritone, the woman looking down at him replied, “I said your baby is no longer here.”
Omoefe jerked up but he was seconds too late. Quick as lightning, she swung her leg over his torso and straddled him. Leaning down, she sank her sharp teeth in his throat.
A thin trail of blood ran down the corner of lips as she whispered, “The devil does not give free gifts. From now on, you will serve him.” Her venom coursed through his veins, opening his mind to illumination. As he drifted back to dark slumber, her words suddenly made sense. He now knew why all The Miracles had the same first name.