Loretta knew mountains would clash tonight. She stepped into her living room, startled to see her
guardian, Kenneth, leaning on her two-seater couch, his fingers drumming on his lap. He stood
up the moment he sniffed her presence.
“Loretta, I hope you know it's tonight?” he said, bowing as though she were some kind of
royalty. Although she was. But she loathed it when it was shoved in her face.
“I know. I wish I could avoid it or simply prevent it from happening.” her voice lacked the
fervency she'd rather it held.
Kenneth's regard conformed. “I know you wish that, but if you'd obeyed your parents, everything
shouldn't have been the way it is right now.”
She shrugged, knew he meant well, but still disregarded him. What was the need to have a third
party constantly poking their nose in her business in the name of checking up? She seethed as
she walked, languid, to the nearest couch on which she slumped.
The past haunted her, why the need to return to it to rewrite it came up. The need to amend the
mistake she made. She just couldn't wrap her head around why her parents had assigned Kenneth
to her when she could take care of herself. Not exactly power-wise, she knew, as she had no
power, the topmost chance to leave her vulnerable to the force searching for her. Her refusal to
complete the ritual into womanhood and fully activate her power had landed her in this pitiable
situation and she had to change it.
“There is no need to remind me of my naivety and mistake,” she replied Kenneth and shifted her
gaze to the television stapled to the incandescent living room wall.
News was on, headlines of the killing of innocent citizens displayed, but her mind wasn't taking
in any of what the broadcaster was mumbling. It ran amok, instead, with thoughts.
Then she caught in a glimpse, Kenneth nodding, bowing and shuffling out.
She couldn't wait for sundown so she could go right her wrong.
Loretta strode out of the bathroom, drying her hair with a towel when her door burst open. Her
eyebrows crinkled, nose flared. What was that? Limping in was Kenneth. Multiple slashes like
some kind of claw marks were etched on his face that was coconutty-clean just moments ago, his
cheeks now swollen in places. His left eye looked sore, blood trickling out of it.
“They found us, my princess. We need to start the ritual!” his fear-laced voice now said it all.
Terror crawled at Loretta's skin; a gasp parted her lips. She knew who he spoke about. The
Kendrä. The dark entity that murdered her parents. How did they find them? Loretta arched her
brows at the unsaid question hanging in the air.
“I forgot to cloak myself when leaving here. I'm sorry, Princess.”
The air! It felt frosty on her skin and she shivered although she'd a warm bath minutes ago.
Who needs guidance now? Loretta stared at her silky white pajama and at the box held under one
of Kenneth's arms.
“Don’t worry about what you're wearing. Come on, there's no time.”
Kenneth's snap propelled her into dashing to the living room, he limping behind her, past the
settees. She shoved the mahogany table erected aside to harbor more space for the ritual. The
gut-wrenching time travel ritual. Her last choice of escape.
Quickly, Kenneth heaved out of the box a coral white stone, round and big the size of a–What? It
was the shell of a turtle, a white one. She looked astoundingly to her company.
"Turtles are crosses of two worlds. The terrestrial and the aquatic. But here, you'll be leaving this
world for another with it. Mount it" Kenneth said, hastily again, holding himself up against
whatever battery his body had received.
Loretta raised a feet--
"No, no." Kenneth stopped her. "Not with the pajamas. You go as true and naked as you came to
Loretta was going to disagree when suddenly, a loud bang downstairs at the front door told how
close the enemies were. A chill crept up her skin, and briefly, she saw horror spread on
Kenneth's face before he braced it.
The Kendrä are here.
“Don’t worry, the barrier I put will hold them for a while,” he said, reassuring.
Loretta heaved, releasing her body that was so tense not for the incomers but for the task in front
of her. Kenneth wasn't a stranger. She told herself. Not a stranger. He had spent years looking
after her. And, not taking a glance at him, she disrobed herself. Her slender feet mounted the
Thankfully Kenneth wasn't staring. He dug again in the box and out he brought a too-long string
of beads, white too.
“Wring this--here--on your left wrist," he instructed, while helping with it.
Locking the chaplet around her wrist alone started it. Loretta convulsed, not out of her own will.
Kenneth drew back. "I need you to close your eyes and light a star n—”
Yet another bang, louder this time, rang out from downstairs.
Loretta became forgetful at once of standing unclad in front of her guardian, of everything, as
she closed her eyes. Light a star. It was what she could do. A trick that encompassed making a
sparkle out of stones without having to smash them against one another. That she fancied more
instead of exploring the power she would have had if she had completed the ritual decades ago in
Wood crashed, glass clattered, and feet began to trample upstairs.
“Kenneth,” Loretta muttered. She remembered him now, not for fear of the marauders but for her
trance. The shell felt to be spinning under her feet--maybe it wasn't empty after all--and away
from the world she knew it whisked her. Through nothing but darkness.
C'mon. Light a star. A heat tickled her forehead, spreading slowly into the back of her skull, and
then finally, streaked a star out of her cranium. She did it—that, her mind-eye registered, as with
everything happening now. She was not, it reflected, atop the fantastic turtle's shell anymore. She
appeared to be somewhere in space, and afloat her being wandered, her body lithely laying back
in the void and face turned the opposite way from that of what used to be her waist down. She
wasn't anymore naked; and now she almost couldn't recognize her body as it thawed into the
smoldering abyss, from the bottom, the chaplet gliding just where her arm went, her mind unable
to control any part of her body.
She was quite far off, but then she heard it. She heard Kenneth gasp.
“The celestial embodiment! Shit! You're with a child, Akwaeke.”
Loretta's mind eye switched focus. It revealed to her Kenneth, back in the room. He had called
her native name. And why did he sound angry?
She saw that she was in his arms, he seated on the floor and she sprawled under his grip. That
body was limp, its eyes sealed. Loretta's mind eye swirled suddenly, glimpsing back into space,
through which her spirit went crossing. She fought the darkness slithering through her veins and
back again, she saw the room; saw three figures scurrying in; saw a sly smile playing over
Kenneth's face at the entries—the pleasure which was returned.
What was that?
The room peeled off now fleetingly. Where is she? Space? The room? The star from her
forehead told her which at once, and a numbing sensation searing through her veins, darkness
took her again.
Loretta's eyes snapped open at the searing feeling biting her skin. She gasped. She was back in
the past. A body dropped with a thud at her feet. She jumped. An aflame arrow was stuck out of
its back, as around her, defenseless villagers ran helter-skelter from a drawing in horde of
enemies and a shower of lit arrows overhead. She'd arrived, clad in a mini wrapper around her
waist, and another around her bosom, in the middle of the Raid—the attack that occurred
decades ago, claiming the lives of both her parents.
Her parents’ hut, she saw now, was sizzling with flame, a dark smoke, blasts of dark orbs and
reds slinking into the gray sky. Shit! She had to find her parents. She bolted towards her parents'
hut, dodging the cascade of blazed arrows raining down, with a ripple of embers glistering here
A bolt of trepidation surged through her as she discovered that a part of her parents' hut—as with
the palm frond rooftop and the mud —was burning. She dashed in, and air got knocked out of
her lungs. Her mother's head rested on the stifled body of her father. Her own stomach was
slashed open, red fluid and her intestines sloshed out.
“Mama!” Loretta puffed, scooping her mother into an upright position. Her groans made
Loretta's heart roar with fury. The Kendrä had bitten more than they could chew.
“Akwaeke...” her mother's voice was almost inaudible. Loretta leaned close, feeling her mother's
cold trembling hand on her cheek. “You. Did. It.” Her mother's lips curled into a smile as she
grunted, staring at her Loretta's stomach.
Loretta's eyebrows arched. What's her mother saying? “But the ritual to activate my power into
womanhood hasn't been done,” she said.
Her mother shook her head. “The child...you...carry...”
Loretta's jaws slacked. Now it came flooding in. She hadn't understood a word of what Kenneth
said back in the future, but with her mother mentioning it, she touched her stomach, sparkle-
eyed, and felt a movement.
“I know you're confused but Ikenta will be back to kill this child before it alters his plan. The
child you're carrying has made up for your disobedience. It has corrected your mistake.” Her
mother whimpered, her face paled in that she was clearly using what was left of her strength to
talk. “The shooting star on your forehead is the sign of the celestial embodiment and the
completion of the ritual. Go before Ikenta finds you.”
Ikenta? That's Kenneth native name. Why will he find her when he is still in the future? “But
what did he do?” Loretta asked instead, dazed.
“He’s one of The Kendrä. Go now!"
But then, a figure glid into the room. Loretta's gaze flicked at the intruder. Memories of her and
Ikenta (Kenneth) as lovers from this era slammed into her mind, prompting her to grunt. Fury
washed over her. This was the man that took her virginity and got her pregnant. Loretta wanted
nothing than to swipe the smirk on his lips.
“Surprised, darling?” He ambled closer.
Her original plan of traveling back in time to the past wasn't only for her to activate her power
but for this dullard to take over her kingdom. Now it was all gone, the kingdom he'd sorted off,
grazed down with flame. Loretta clenched her fists, trying to stand up but her mother's hand held
hers. She stared at her mother muttering incantation and out of nowhere, a gust of wind hurled
Ikenta out of the room.
“Akwaeke, you have to go back to the future. Another timeline from the one you came back
from until the child is born. He's our only salvation to bring back this kingdom to its stand. Take
this.” Her mother gave the same bead-necklace, with which she'd come here, but knew nothing
else of it when she appeared earlier in the middle of the chaos. “It will protect both of you.”
Loretta saw a white vortex behind her, swirling as it expanded. She glanced at her mother, tears
dribbling down her cheeks.
Her mother nodded at her. Loretta stood and gazed at her father's rigid body lying dead before
Her little kingdom was destroyed and hope of continuation relied on her unborn child. Loretta
dabbed her tears away and plunged into the vortex her mother created. It was time to start afresh.
Ikechukwu Henry is a Nigerian, whose first love was reading, which morphed into writing, is fiction writer, and a myth enthusiast. His works has appeared/forthcoming in Kalahari Review, Trash to treasure, swim press, Icreative Review and others. He won the first runner up in RoNovella Writing contest first edition and awarded at Tenacious Writer's Award 2022 for fiction and nonfiction. You can connect with him on Twitter @Ikechukwuhenry_