The Diary, Page 1:
Recently, I have become taken with an idea. It started as a joke but day by day I feel that there is truth in it. Some undeniable quality that I cannot resist. Yes. There is something here…
Nairobi was, once again, gone.
Where the city had stood just hours before there was little more than an extended cinder. The skyline hadn’t just been altered, there wasn’t one. Previously existing sky scrapers had collapsed and entire blocks had been levelled. An entire city had been reduced to mounds of debris and dark clouds of smoke within mere minutes.
Ikinya looked over it all waiting for something to happen but there was only silence. There were no screams of pain and no cries for help out in the smoke, there was just a quiet, fallen city. It was even worse than the last time. This time, there were no survivors.
He found that power was already surging through him and he wanted to rebuild the city but he decided against it. What would have been the point? Rebuilding Nairobi then would have just been a cosmetic change. There was no one in the city and there would not be anybody willing to venture in for some days yet. It could wait.
The Diary, Page 3:
Something is trying to dissuade me from pursuing this line of thought. The more I learn the more resistance I find. Even the weather has turned against me. If it is a hot day, the moment I walk out the sun burns hotter as if it means to sear through my skin. If it is raining then it will become a storm and lightning will strike trees in the area. There is something very deliberate about all of it.
Something is trying to warn me.
Something is trying to stop me.
Something knows that I may have discovered how to become a god.
Ikinya floated up to the parliament building and it broke his heart. The orange-yellow walls were as pristine as ever. It’s single tower still stood high and the clock face on it was still ticking along. It remained untouched while all around it the darkened wasteland that had been Nairobi was still smoking.
“Why,” he whispered to himself, “why do they do this?”
That question had bothered him for a long time. To this day there had never been an attack directed at him personally. It seemed like whoever it was actually went out of their way to avoid him. Even if he wasn’t there, the State House and the parliament building were never touched. Was it because they feared him? Was it a message? If this was a war against him then why did this unseen enemy never try to hurt him? It made no sense. He was clearly missing something, but what?
Why were they doing this?
Why? Why? Why?
The Diary, Page 7:
A god is a creator. If you peel away the layers and rules and interpretations then this is what truly defines a god. Creation.
If you can create then you are a potential god. It does not mean that you will become one, only that you can, should you be willing to pay the price.
Ikinya braced himself to meet the people cowering within the parliament compound. They had barged in one day and refused to leave and he had not had the heart to kick them out. It was one of the only safe places every time something happened. How could he demand that they face the force that lay outside his gates? The force that even he with all his power had never managed to even glimpse? He could not. Even if it meant he had to face them in times like this.
As he made his way into the gate a crowd started to form around him. People slowly made their way out of the small houses he had created for them and stood watching him expectantly. He did not know what they wanted from him and he did not know if he could deliver it even if he did. He sighed. How had it come to this? He had been a simple music teacher before. He wasn’t equipped to be a president, let alone a god. The latter may have been his fault, granted, but he had never asked to be a ruler. They had thrust it upon him. They had insisted that he lead them until he had relented and now they expected things from him. Demanded them even.
He decided that he did not want their expectations. He did not want those accusing stares. What about what he wanted? Did they ever consider that? Did gods not get to pursue their desires? To hell with all of them he thought. Saying nothing he floated over the crowds heading for the entrance. Whatever they wanted he could not give. They would have to be satisfied with that.
Before he disappeared behind the doors he heard someone cry out.
“Mungu wangu, Mungu wangu, mbona umetuacha?” My God, My God, Why have you forsaken us?
They were quickly silenced by a host of voice.
“Nyamaza!” Shut up!
“We! Acha ujinga.” Stop being stupid!
“Shetani ashindwe!” The devil be damned.
He did not know which reaction cut at him more.
The Diary, Page 11:
An artist, like a painter or sculptor, creates a moment. They capture the barest hint of a new world and let you see and marvel at it. You cannot touch it or go there, but you can look through their window and see a second of this awe-inspiring place.
A writer on the other hand will take words and fashion entire worlds with them. They will let you almost visit them. You know something amazing lies there behind the page and if you can only just push it aside, you might get to see it. Alas, you never do. The world is always hazy because it is seen translucently as its light passes through paper. It is inevitably always a page away.
But a musician….ah, a musician. A musician can take you to those worlds. They can whisk you across this universe and take you to another. They can make you feel a new creation all around you. A musician is the closest men have ever reached to becoming gods. All a great musician asks is that you do not look or you will spoil it. Close your eyes and travel. Close your eyes and feel the new worlds all around you.
I know these words are arrogant coming from a musician but they are true nonetheless. Besides, gods are not humble. Not even potential ones. You must know your worth and I am very close now.
Inside, Ikinya found an even more distasteful sight. There were rows and rows of people singing praises to him and they got louder as soon as he entered. They were part of the religion that had sprung up around him, The Children of the Step. He had been amused by the name at first until he learnt that it was because Ikinya loosely translated to ‘a single step’ or sometimes ‘the sole.’ Now they just irritated him.
Over the years, he had tried to put a stop to the religion but no matter what he did it only seemed to encourage them. For a religion for which he was the main figurehead, they did very little of what he actually said. Whatever steps they followed, they certainly weren’t his.
The singing at the entrance had, like most bad ideas, started with a politician. The idiot had thought he could curry favour by creating a choir that would praise Ikinya without pause. People switched in and out in shifts so there were songs being sang in his honour every minute of every day in parliament. Worse still, for some reason he could not discern, his own power had affected all The Children of the Step in the country and he could do nothing to change it. Every single one of The Step adherents, regardless of where they were, knew what the choir was singing at any given moment and so they often burst out in song or humming all at will. Especially when he was around. They did not even need to practice to synchronize their sycophancy. It was repelling.
The supernatural element to the whole thing that he had somehow caused was taken as extreme approval of the idea. He had “blessed” them. Now he could not even tell them to stop for it would be taken as one of his incidents of ‘divine humility’. He had been forced to let the singing go on. At that moment however he was not in the mood to deal with them. He clapped his hands in a simple rhythm and struck them all dumb. It was about time they learned to enjoy the delights of silence.
His victory was short lived for the singing resumed before he had even turned around the corner. The now dumb singers had been replaced by the next shift. He gritted his teeth. There was no winning with them.
The Diary, page 19:
I think I finally understand the tower of Babel. I read it and understand what the Christians do not. They think it is about men trying to climb to heaven but I doubt this. I do not think they were trying to climb to heaven. I believe they were trying to MAKE their way heaven. They were creating. The greatest creation that men had ever achieved. A creation worthy of gods. So…inevitably, the gods stopped them.
When Ikinya burst into the main chamber, Edith sensed his mood and said nothing as he took his seat and closed his eyes. She was his personal assistant but nobody ever called her that in anything but official documents. In most people’s eyes, she was the shadow of god. The one human being closest to divinity, with a direct line to the god’s ear and his counsel. The most privileged woman on all of earth. In Ikinya’s eyes, it was precisely the opposite. He was the one privileged to have her ear. After all, she was the only person who still treated him anything like a human being.
“Where the hell is everybody?” he asked. “I’m sure those insufferable politicians will want to discuss this”
“Not here yet,” she said, “As it turns out, not everyone has the advantage of being able to fly.”
“While we’re on the topic of obliviousness, are there any surprises waiting for me?”
“This mood you’re in, it usually means there’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up somewhere. Where?”
“Ah yes,” he said slightly abashed, “I may have muted some members of the endless choir.”
“They irritated me, I made them mutes.”
“This may actually be the smartest thing you’ve ever done.”
“Remind me to return them to normal later, when I have the time.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think that’ll be necessary. We can just leave them like that you know”
“This isn’t the time for jokes Edith!”
“I’m sorry,” she said looking away, “It’s a sad day. You’re right. I shouldn’t make light of it.”
“No, I’m….I’m overreacting. It’s just today was the worst I’ve seen. There were no survivors. Not even one.”
She didn’t say anything but her expression was pained. He should have let her keep her jokes. Yes, that was what he should have done. Humour made it easier to live through the horrors that had come to the country along with his godhood. He was starting to lose touch with how people thought. It worried him.
“I think I’m being punished,” he said at last.
“Everything that’s been happening, I always knew it was about me, but I think I know what it is now. There are other gods out there and they’re punishing me for daring to….I dunno. To be them maybe? This…this is all my fault.”
“No! Don’t say that. Don’t blame yourself. You can’t know that.”
“But I can. Nowadays, I hear their music Edith. Whenever it happens, the earth pounds like a drum playing a violent song. I know that method. I feel it like it’s a part of me. It can’t be anything else. It’s a god. Or gods.”
“Even if it is gods. What would you say they’re punishing you? Maybe they’re just…evil.”
“I’ve been looking at the big picture. They’re mirroring me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“They’re reacting to what I do. I don’t know why but I think that’s what they’re doing. I’m almost certain.”
“Whenever I do something, they do something, if I save one person, they kill one. If I make food to improve the supply, we get a drought and diseases in the crop. If I do anything big. Anything that will save a lot of people…we get a massacre.”
“You’re saying what happened today is about…your health centres? That’s why they did this?”
“Yes. The miracle centres have saved thousands. Tens of thousands even. So we get…this. A negation of what I’ve done. It’s the only explanation I can think of”
“Maybe there isn’t an explanation. Not a logical one.”
“Edith…I’m sure this is it.”
She stared at him for a long moment. Finally, she said, “Then retire.”
“Retire. Stop doing this. If they’re reacting to you then give them nothing to react to.”
“No, think about it. Really think about it.”
“The people would never let me”
“The people can’t do anything to stop you”
“You just disappear one day. You let them make their stories about happened. If it doesn’t help, you come back. If it works….”
“I stay gone”
“Then come with me”
“Just come with me. We can go anywhere you want.”
“I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I…I just can’t.”
Ikinya leaned towards her but she turned away. They stood around awkwardly for a long time trying not to look at each other.
“Alright,” he said turning away, “I’ll go now. No use waiting until something else terrible happens”
The Diary, Page 21:
I have enemies and they bring suffering to my people without remorse or reason. My faceless enemies. Why do they not show themselves? Why do they hide? Why?
Why? Why? Why?
Ikinya had been away for a month and in that time everything had gone to hell. As soon as it became certain that he was gone, everybody started moving in different directions. The politicians were trying to gain control and the people were trying to oust the politicians they believed had chased their god with their immorality. The Children of The Step held prayers calling him back while Christians and Muslims held prayers celebrating the defeat of the imposter. Riots. Parties. Vigils. Crusades. Anything that necessitated a group getting together happened and more often than not, ended in violence.
He ignored it all. The people could live as they saw fit. They were no longer his responsibility and he had never been their moral authority. He was free now. Free to do as he pleased though it was not turning out as he had expected. He was eager to look to the future but his mind was obsessed with a painful past. His memories would not stop haunting him. Edith almost constantly swam through his thoughts poking at his fragile state. He thought of her face, her voice, her rejection and the fact that he would never see her again. It pained him.
The times he managed to shake of Edith away, flashbacks of his transformation were never far from his thoughts. He remembered playing instrument after instrument and seeing which combination of notes moved him. The ones that touched his soul; how to combine them so that he could mould himself into something new, rewrite his make-up, change his entire composition. He remembered the pain from that. Oh yes. That endless pain. Those crawling days and weeks and months where he was caught in between man and god and something else entirely. He shuddered. All things considered, it had not been worth it.
Worst of all were the questions. The questions that refused to be answered. Why? Why? Why? Why had it all been done? Why had he been targeted? Why had they been so eager to destroy and respond to his work? Why? Just, why? Not knowing ate at him more than Edith. He would even have gone through the transformation again if it meant he could know. He had to know. This was why he had spent most of his retirement coming up with a plan to do just that.
Ikinya was levitating cross-legged high on Mount Kenya between its two highest peaks in the region called, The Gate of Mists. He had always liked it there. It was his little zone of solitude. It was also where, if his decision led to trouble, there would be minimal danger to bystanders. Closing his eyes Ikinya let his presence seep through the mountain and into the ground then spread across the country. He breathed in deeply and he could sense everything in a vague sort of way.
Then … he held the country. He could think of no more accurate a description of what it felt like. It was as if he was using the entire nation as a musical instrument. Preparing it, tuning it, getting ready to play. In a manner of speaking, that was exactly what he was doing. If whatever was fighting him was responding to what he did, what would it do if he used his power for no actual gain? Using power just to use power. Would they respond? If they did evil for every good he did, what would they do about neutral? It was time to find out.
With a surge of energy, he began. The waves of the Indian Ocean crashed at the Kenyan coast with sudden vigour. Winds howled in the north raising dust storms. Water from hot springs shot up into the air in varying patterns. The ground shook in several areas and trees trembled to their roots. All of those sounds came together in a perfect song of ethereal beauty that only Ikinya could hear. Or at least, Ikinya and something else. It was a song composed with a simple message. Come. Reveal yourself.
Thunder was heard, even if no lightning had been seen. The gentle sound of falling leaves cutting through the air was amplified because it was happening to billions and billions of leaves all at once. Birds picked up the song and fish jumped in and out of the water their splashes contributing to the melody. He played and played and played and played but nothing happened. He put his soul into the music. He put everything he had to give into this one creation. He created a masterpiece like nothing the world had ever seen before. Nothing happened.
At last he gave up letting the power dissipate and the song die. An empty silence settled upon the world. Wasted and disappointed, he opened his eyes and nearly jumped because of what he saw in front of him. It was the first time in several years that Ikinya had felt truly afraid.
The Diary, Page 28:
From the very beginning it has fought me. But what is it?
“There’s a question some people have asked and wondered about over the years,” said the thing in front of him. “They ask, why does God never kill the devil? He clearly has no problem with killing, he kills all the time. So, one cannot help but wonder why he lets the devil run free. How much trouble he could he save himself if he just killed the devil and washed his hands of the matter. Yet, he never does it. Do you know why now? Do you know why gods never kill their devils?”
“I don’t understand. How…how can this be?”
“You summoned me and I came. What is there to understand?”
“Are you mocking me?”
“Mocking you? No. I’m too proud to mock myself.”
“You’re not me. You can’t be me. You’re him. You’re the enemy.”
“Ha, the enemy. What a good story you tell yourself. A lie, but a good one. I’m not the enemy. I’m you. I’m you and you know it. You’ve always known it. You just didn’t want to face it. That’s how we are isn’t it? Denial to the very end you and I.”
Ikinya looked away from what appeared to be his double. Another him. He wanted to think it was a trick, some kind of mind game the other unseen gods were playing with him. An apparition created to unhinge him as the first personal strike in this war. But, somehow, he knew it wasn’t. He knew that this thing was him. He didn’t understand it but it was a part of him.
“Tell me why. Why have you been doing this?” said Ikinya finally.
“You still haven’t stopped asking that have you? Why why why. That’s all you ever think about. It’s so annoying”
“Tell me why?”
“Because,” the thing sighed, “you cannot have one without the other.”
“If you create a god then you also create a devil and vice versa, there’s really no way around it. These things come in pairs. It’s like two sides to a coin. You can’t have a head without the tail. You can keep cutting the coin but they’re both still there unless you destroy it, then they’re both gone.”
“So you’re the devil? My devil. The devil I created by becoming a god?”
“You didn’t create me. I’m you and you’re me. Don’t you see? We’re the same person. All part of the same spinning coin.”
“I’m not you. I don’t destroy. I create. That’s what I am. That’s who I am. A god is a creator.”
“I already told you, these things come in pairs. Creation and destruction. Life and death. Gods and devils. They’re linked no matter what you do. The day you became a god is the day you became a devil. You just didn’t want to see it.”
“No, I didn’t stumble on this by accident, I worked for it. I worked to create not to destroy.”
“Yes, you didn’t work to destroy. You just created and by sheer coincidence things started to get destroyed around you. All those heat waves and storms that happened around you in the early days were just by random chance. Is that what you want to believe?”
“That wasn’t me.”
“It wasn’t? Why? Because you never destroy? Like when you stripped away the voices from the annoying singing people. That was creation then, was it?”
“That was different.”
“Yes. It was different and that’s the point.”
“This doesn’t make any sense. If you’re real, if you’re really me, then why didn’t I know about you? Why am I just now learning that you exist?”
“Because you were in denial. You’re the one that’s so proud of your creating, why are you so surprised that the delusion you created was so thorough?”
“And now that you created a delusion,” the double smiled, “guess who’s here to destroy it.”
“Shut up. I haven’t been doing this. This wasn’t me. I didn’t destroy Nairobi. I refuse to believe I did that. I would never…”
“Then why were you so quickly on the scene? Why do you always just happen to be around when these things happen with your body humming with songs of power?”
“I was rushing and preparing to defend.”
“Ha. Even you don’t believe that. I should know.”
“You might as well just accept this. It’s easier for both of us that way.”
“But I’ve stopped. I’m not doing anything any more. I’m done. That means you’re done, right? It’s over now.”
“It could have been done. It really could, but you couldn’t take that could you? You just had to summon me here. You were just too curious and you know what they say about curiosity.”
“Can you for one second just say what you mean-”
“I’m saying that you’ve done something very interesting. I was always you and I’m still you, but now, I’m also not. I’m me and you. You see?”
“Think of a coin, no, no, forget the coin, Think shoes. We’re a pair of shoes. Mirror opposites of each other. We’re not connected physically or at all but in the end we’re both part of the same idea. Doing different things but walking together. Ha, would you look at that. They had it right all along, the Children of the Step.”
“What if I don’t want to be any part of you.”
“Well, left shoe, you don’t get a choice. You did this. You didn’t like this part of yourself so you kicked it out. Kicked me out. How do I put this; you banished me from heaven. Yes…I like that.”
“I didn’t banish you.”
“You summoned me. You wanted me to come. You wanted this part of yourself to be revealed. How else was that going to happen? You used your power and you gave me a body.”
“That’s not what I was trying to do.”
“It’s what you did and in the end, that’s all that matters isn’t it?”
“So what now?”
“Now, you go about happy to be mostly a creator. I go, happy to be a destroyer. And then we fight each other for eternity. If we believe the stories that’s how it usually goes. It’s probably going to be a lot less dramatic than that.”
“I’m not going to fight you. I don’t want to.”
“You don’t really have much of a choice.”
“I always have a choice.”
“So what, you’ll watch me destroy and destroy until there’s nothing left? What’ll you do? Go to Edith? She’s not interested. And I can bet you that she won’t start when you tell her you let your dark side go about on an unchecked rampage.”
“I didn’t ask for this.”
“Nobody asks for the lot they get. You’d think the guy who got god in the lottery would complain a lot less. Especially when he went out looking for it.”
“You want me to do this? You want me to play out this little script don’t you? Why? Why would you want that?”
“To maintain the harmony.”
“Yes. If no new things begun then all things would end given time. But if nothing ended then everything would eventually collapse on itself. There is a balance that must be maintained. Do you know how much destruction went into this mountain’s creation? It’s all necessary. You and me. Creation and Destruction. Our little war is important for harmony to exist.”
The double, Destruction, finally shifted position and stood. For once, he did not seem to be mirroring Creation. He started to seem different, even if he still looked the same. He stretched his hands out and somewhere on the mountain there was loud crashing sound. A giant avalanche of boulders. He smiled.
“But if you want to sit around questioning your role,” said Destruction, “I can’t stop you. But we are what we are. Whether you accept that or not, it catches up with you. Look at all the damage you caused even when you ignored it? Acceptance is not necessary. It just makes it easier.”
With that, Destruction took off into the air and crashed into Batian, the highest peak of Mount Kenya bringing it down with a crash and then he was gone. As the dust settled, Creation sat quietly, contemplating.
“We are what we are,” he whispered to himself.
He put his hands together and the dust in the air swirled back to where the peak had been and started to solidify. Rocks rolled up the top where they had been and Batian started to reform slowly, bit by bit.
“I am what I am.”
I’m a software developer (that’s what they actually pay me for), a writer (that’s what I hope a mysterious they will pay me for) and an artist (that’s what even more mysterious theys occasionally pay me for). Basically, I’m a guy who sits in front a computer and creates things.
I have written for storymoja, I have an article in the second brainstorm.co.ke ebook “What Crazy Looks Like” and I blog at willthisbeaproblem.com where I’m essentially the boss and come up with crazy ideas like this book.