THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER
She raised her face slowly and looked up at him.
Her lips were parted, and her hands moved up on his chest gently, and then she shyly put them around his neck.
The rain fell off her dark face.
He saw how smooth her skin was, soft and unblemished.
Her long lashes were lying softly, her nose finely-chiselled. Her eyebrows had not been touched in any way, but they were long and curved, silky and beautiful. And her lips were full and luscious, oval and soft. The slight cleft in her elfin chin was lovely, her cheeks filled with blossoms as the rain slowly slid off them. Her ears were small and perfectly-formed, and they were not pierced because the priestess should not have any cut on her.
Her hair was dark and long, with a sodden lock falling across her beautiful forehead.
The young pastor’s right hand came up slowly, unsteadily, and he gently brushed the stubborn lock of hair off her brow, and at his touch her eyes opened finally, and she looked at him with the eyes of a lovely, young girl in the rain, a girl in the arms of a man for the very first time in her life.
They looked at each other like that.
“You confuse me, Jon Fii,” she whispered.
Without meaning to, his thumb moved slowly across her lips, and a slight frown creased his brow.
“All my life, I’ve never found a woman I desired,” he said gently. “I’ve never had a hunger for a partner. My passion had been the work of my Lord, and I was happy, comparing myself to the great apostles in the Bible whose love was so fierce that the company of a woman was an unwelcome intrusion.”
Her eyes roved his face, and he saw her face blossoming into the most amazing expression of delight as her cool fingers suddenly touched each side of his face.
“Likewise,” she whispered with a sad smile. “My heart had always been for them, the spirits, and the only time I had come close to a man had been to lure him to a disgraceful death, or a humiliation.”
“Is this one of those instances, Sophia?” he asked carefully. “This moment right here, with you in my arms and the rain on your face, when I feel like I want to hold you like this forever… are you luring me to death, still?”
And even in the rain, he saw the tears that bubbled in her eyes as she shook her head.
“No, Jon, no!” she said sadly. “This moment will always be dear to me. I wish, above all else, that times were different, that we met under peaceful conditions, under blissful settings. Boy meets girl, and magic happens!”
He took a deep shuddering breath.
“It can happen, Sophia, if you want,” Jon Fii said. “I know what I feel right now is confusing, but the Lord has always been in control of my life, and I want to believe that even now, He is in control of my emotions. If this is meant to be, then it is possible, and you must trust me to take you out of this.”
She put her hand across his lips suddenly and shook her head.
“No, Jon, please!” she cried fiercely. “This is madness! They will never allow me to leave, no, never! They’ll kill me first, and haunt you too, and eventually kill you! Whatever this is must end here!”
“No, Sophie,” he said gently.
She stiffened and suddenly tried to push out of his arms.
“Don’t call me Sophie!” she said fiercely. “No endearments, Jon, please. The name the gods gave me is not Sophia, Jon. I was given Sefiyo, the name of a fearsome goddess, but the villagers could not pronounce it well, and it eventually became Sophia, and I let them because, in a way, I hated that horrible name.”
“What name did your parents give you?” he asked gently.
She smiled then, and in her shyness she became the most exquisite human he had ever seen. She dropped her eyes and looked down at his chest.
“It’s okay, Jon,” she said.
“No, come on, tell me,” he insisted as he put a hand under her chin and raised her face again. “I want to know, please.”
“Nana Yaa Ahoufe,” she whispered, and then she giggled, just like a lovely, young woman.
“Apt,” he said wonderingly. “Nana Yaa the beautiful one. Regal. Royal, yes. Fits you to the bone, and the fact that you’re also a Thursday-born simply complements Yaw Bosomfi, doesn’t it?”
The smile died from her face and she shook her head once.
“You’re confusing me, Jon,” she said. “Don’t make me wish for things that can never be, please, don’t!”
“It can be, Naa Yaa!” he cried desperately as he put his arms across her shoulders and put his forehead to hers. “All these things that have haunted you are powerless against the God I serve! All you need to do is desire to leave them behind, and then I will lead you to salvation! You’ll be free, Naa Yaa! And this, this thing right here, can be something beautiful!”
“No, no, Jon, no!” she cried and began to struggle. “I don’t want to be responsible for your death, not anymore, please! You don’t know what you’re up against!”
He held her fiercely.
“Stop it, Naa Yaa!” he said desperately. “Don’t fight me! Stop it, please!”
He did not know why he was so desperate to hold on to her and take her out of the bondage she was in, and her wish to be free of him was hurting him in a way he had not thought possible.
He held her against him as she struggled, and then suddenly, she became still in his arms. Her body shook with tears, and her arms came around his neck as she held him fiercely.
And, in that heightened moment of personal turmoil and a furore of young, passionate hormones, none of them knew what happened, what prompted it, or what was really the catalyst.
Their lips met, tentatively at first because it was a first for both of them, and then when the electric explosion hit and simmered down their hearts, their kiss became more explosive and urgent.
Pastor Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu, who had been chasing after Jon Fii with Bobo the Killer behind him, suddenly came to a stop when he saw them so close together and…kissing!
“Kakalika!” he said with horror. “Oh, my Lord Jesus help that boy!”
“Yo, pastor, yo!” Bobo screamed with sudden delight, jumped and punched the air. “Herh! That sassy and saucy witch always said no man could have her! Wanlahi, I wanted to rape her sometime ago and die! But look, abakade, pastor is chewing her mouth like Bosomfie grasscutter meat! Aboowa!”
“He just opened himself up for attack!” Pastor Kwabla said and suddenly began to run hard. “Fii, stop that, stop that right now, Fii! Kakalika, stop that nonsense right now, you bloody fool!”
Sophia felt her heart pounding with passion as he felt his lips on hers, his tongue probing hers. Her ears rumbled with the resounding blasting of her heart and the rush of her blood! She had never felt this hunger, never, no, not ever!
But even as her blood raced, she felt them behind her!
The four vindictive spirits!
She felt their pull, and heard their usual growl when they were displeased!
Fear blasted through her heart when she suddenly felt Jon Fii’s desire pushing against her lower belly, and she knew he was compromised! With a cry of fear, she pushed away from Jon and spun around!
And there they were, and they had changed now!
They had fused into one horribly huge, white devil with four heads and blood-red eyes! The four hands of this evil entity were several-jointed with serrated nails that looked like knives! Their four legs had several joints too, and a huge tail that resembled a striking mamba trailed from the monster!
Sophia had never seen it transformed like this before!
The four heads had white hair that looked like snakes, and their tongues were forked as they glared at her!
“YE SHALT PERISH!” they growled from four different voices. “THOU SPURNED US! WE SPURN THEE! BUT FIRST, THE FOOL DIETH, BECAUSE HE IS COMPROMISED!”
“No!” Sophia screamed and spread her arms wide as if protecting Jon Fii. “Leave him alone, please, I beg of you! Take me, kill me, but leave him alone!”
“Sophie?” Jon Fii groaned as he looked at her and saw the terror on her face, and then he looked around him with confusion. “What’s going on, Naa Yaa? Who are you talking to?”
She was looking into space and speaking as if she were addressing elements he could not see.
“Stay away, stay back, Jon!” she cried and pushed him behind her. “They’re here, Yaw Bosomfi! Run, please, run! They’ll kill you!”
“I am not running from any damn thing!” Jon said in confusion. “Come with me, please!”
He touched her hand, and she spun around to face him desperately.
“Jon!” she shouted with fear. “The demons I serve are here, and they’ve transformed into something fearsome. I can’t be responsible for your death, please, I beg of you! Get away from here!”
“Stop that this instant!” Jon Fii screamed. “I’m not leaving you alone!”
“YE FOOOOL!” the hideous demon boomed behind her, and then it suddenly slammed into the body of the fetish priestess. “YE SHALT DIE, PUNY MAN!”
“Jesus!” Jon whispered with horror when he saw how blood-red Sophia’s eyes had become, and how her hands had suddenly become like claws.
“HOW DARE YE TRESPASS ON OUR TOES WITH THY INIQUITY OF SIN, THY TRANSGRESSION OF A FORNICATING SPIRIT?” she said, and her voice was not that of Sophia at all, but the booming voice of something sinister, something that belonged to the sewers!
Suddenly, Jon felt his arm gripped from behind, and he spun around dazedly to see the horrified face of Pastor Kwabla.
“Jesus, Jon, she’s possessed by a demon of old!” the old man cried with horror. “Let’s get out of here!”
“No!” Jon Fii screamed. “This vile thing has no dominion over me! I’m soaked in the blood of my Lord!”
“You sinned, you fool!” Pastor Kwabla screamed. “Look down at yourself! You still have an erection!”
“Yes, I do, because I kissed a girl for the first time and got aroused!” Jon Fii screamed at the old man. “It is a sin, yes, desiring a woman I’m not married to, and yes, I’ve committed fornication in my heart! But I sinned against my God, and only He can punish me… not this vile thing that has possessed her!”
Sophia’s hands slashed across Jon Fii’s chest, the powerful blow lifting him high into the sky and slamming him down horribly on the ground!
Blood erupted from Jon’s mouth as he lay on his back, staring dazedly into the dark skies! He could barely breathe, but he turned around slowly on his hands and stared at the screaming, contorted face of Sophia as she walked like a monster towards him!
Her lips were drawn back in a ferocious snarl, her hands claw-like as she reached for him!
“Stay away, demon, in the name of Jesus!” Jon cried with anger. “My sin is against God, not you, and that does not give you dominion over me!”
“SINNER!” she growled. “FORNICATOR! ADULTERER! YE DIETH!”
She picked him up, raised him high in the sky, and slammed him sickeningly on the ground! Jon Fii could not breathe, and he felt his vision clouding!
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” Pastor Kwabla cried and touched Sophia’s shoulder. “I banish you, demons!”
Sophia struck him high on his head, and the old man flew into the air to slam hard on the ground!
“Ei!” Bobo screamed and rushed at Sophia. “You witch! I scatter you!”
His huge hands were bunched into fists, and his face was furious!
Sophia screamed at him and raised her claws, and Bobo spun around and began to ran away.
Jon Fii got to his knees groggily.
“Dear Father, your son has sinned against You, against your temple, for my sins of the flesh are against You! My sins are scarlet, and I do not deserve to gaze on Your countenance! But, from a sincere heart, I pray to You! Father, forgive me, for Your mercies are bountiful! Forgive my sins, wash me clean, and draw me closer to Your grace again! In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I pray, amen!”
The monster was reaching down to tear Jon Fii to shreds when suddenly a bright light shot out all around Jon, blinding the demon and making it screech as it tottered back and crashed out of Sophia!
Jon opened his eyes and looked!
Sophia’s beautiful, frantic face was staring at him.
“Jon, it left my body, but it is here again!” she screamed. “You have… something around you, a sort of light… a glow! It can’t harm you! Please, go! Flee! Ran before it finds something to harm you!”
“It can’t harm us!” Jon Fii said.
“It has power over me!” Sophia screamed. “It can’t harm you, but you cannot harm it either because you can’t see…”
Suddenly, the demon blasted into Sophia again, and jumped high into the sky, back and away from Jon Fii.
“Sophie!” Jon screamed as he got to his feet!
Lord, how could a mere human being move into the skies like that?
Sophia crashed on the ground, near the entrance of the shrine, and again she was sucked high into the sky and out of sight!
Jon Fii began to race furiously towards the shrine!
The ten old men in the calico cloth pants suddenly drew swords from their staffs and began to move ominously towards Jon Fii!
“They’ll kill you, Jon!” Pastor Kwabla screamed weakly from the ground. “You don’t have the powers to deal with that demon! Jon! Listen to me, boy, kakalika! They’ll kill you!”
Jon barely heard him as he raced towards the shrine, and the killers met him with drawn swords…