SOUL FOR SALE

Selling a million albums had brought me an avalanche of attention, even Klaus finally acknowledged me. I didn’t think he knew who I was until he summoned me to an impromptu meeting, with instructions to attend alone, tactfully not inviting my manager Leroy. Though confused about his restriction, he was the CEO, and I had wanted an audience with him in any capacity. I was already in the building, grateful that I was suitably spruce, so I went to his office without delay.

As I stepped out of the elevator, I took a deep breath, and smiled at the receptionist who did not make eye contact or offer any pleasantries. She pointed to a brass plated arrow and continued to type. Sweaty palms and a knotted stomach ceased my need to confront her sketchy attitude. The arrow led to a single mahogany door, and before I could knock Klaus opened it zealously.

“Welcome Natalie, can I call you by your government name?” he joked.
“Sure, I’d actually rather that,” I replied.
He led me like a father-giver to one of the two polished winged-back leather chairs in front of his desk. Faithful to her disposition, the same receptionist dropped a binder on the desk and shoved what I thought was champagne in my hand. Klaus’ thick eyebrows connected and he glared at her with contempt, but he did not reprimand her. I pretended not to notice and continued our dialogue.

“Champagne?” I questioned.
“This is a celebration and relax, it’s just apple juice,” Klaus assured.
I wondered how he knew I had been pretending to be a lover of ‘bubbly’.
“Are you comfortable? Do you need anything?” he pampered.
I started to feel like I was on a date.
I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I cautiously asked why my manager was not invited.

Klaus evaded my question. He walked to my side of the desk and sat on its edge. He was very masculine. His attention made me feel safe. Slyly he smiled and cradled both my hands in his making me blush, and mitigating any concerns I had of attending alone.
“I want to make you a star. I want to give you successes you couldn’t dream off. You’ve just begun, but you could have much more.”
“What do you …” I began before he interrupted.
“Please let me finish. We have been watching you, and you have what it takes to dominate this industry. Very few seasoned artists sell that many records so quickly, let alone someone brand new. What I am trying to say is … paint the prettiest picture of a life you hope for, exaggerate it, and still it would be nothing compared to what I could give you. Anything you could imagine, I could trump it.”

Klaus made his proposal with a confidence I perceived to be genuine. He had been very successful. I had every reason to believe he could do what he proposed. However I was a bit confused, because I was already on his label.
“So what are we talking about, some more promotions, bigger budgets – what?” I questioned.
“No, you do not understand. Let me try again. Dillon, Andrew,” he called.
Two men came through a side door as though they had been waiting for their cue. I knew Dillon by his credits; he was a very successful solo R&B artist. Andrew was a creepy albino man I had only known as Casper. You never saw him coming, he just appeared, and never said a word.

The men walked towards me while Klaus introduced them as brothers in his fraternity. I was elated to meet Dillon. Doing a duet with him could really catapult my career. Now I understood this meeting.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” I greeted.
Dillon began speaking while Andrew stood aside and looked on.
“What Klaus was trying to explain is that we want you to be a part of our fraternity, be a part of us. What we do is take the most talented of the lot and make them … better.” They all laughed.
“Where do I sign up?” I asked.
“I like your enthusiasm, but one thing. Do you know what a nephilim spirit is?” Klaus asked.
“No.” I answered.
Dillon took over.
“A nephilim spirit makes you better. It shares your body and makes your performances, your albums, anything you do incredible. People will camp out to get your concert tickets, do anything to get a glimpse of you. You will be like a goddess.”

Aghast, I sat back in the chair, more confused than ever.
“I don’t understand. Are you talking about a spirit like a ghost?” I prayed they would say no, but somehow I knew they wouldn’t.
“You could say that, but better. Don’t be afraid, this is a normal passage for artists. Do you think talent alone can make you famous? How many artists sell millions of records every year even though they can’t sing?”
I did not answer.
“This is a good thing, and I hate to break it to you, but this is your only choice,” Dillon said.
“This is crazy, what the hell are you talking about. Do you worship the devil or something?” I questioned, and began walking backwards towards the door.
“Sit down Natalie,” Klaus instructed. I turned around ready to run, but Andrew was blocking the doorway. Somehow I didn’t remember his being behind me. Physical symptoms of fear manifested. I had hoped to conceal my trembles at least until I left the room, but my situation was progressing into a chapter from a dark fiction novel, and I was the poor sap thinking she hit the jackpot.

“Look at this,” Klaus said.
He handed me the binder from the table. It was filled with pictures of famous people – singers, politicians, even religious leaders. I perused the photos that shared a similar background, made evident by a recurring emblem of a pentagram with what looked like a hand holding a ripped-off goat’s head in the centre.
“All these people are with us. They will help you. We all have a spirit and it’s just what you have to do, or else!” he punctuated.
“Or else what?” I questioned.
The morose albino interjected “Or else you will lose everything. Oh yes, we can take away as well.”

“What’s the verdict? Have everything your third world little heart desires or … well let’s just see what your answer is,” Klaus said.
Silently I recited ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ as I stood up again.
Dillon moved menacingly towards me. Andrew held me in a headlock allowing Klaus to comfortably speak in my face. “Release your soul! Say it!” Klaus’ voice defined evil.
“No! Leave me alone!” I retaliated.
“Release your soul!” he repeated.
This time he pulled out a dagger as long as his forearm. Klaus knew my greatest fears as well as my secrets. My grandmother always made me ask Jesus to protect my soul when she taught me to pray. I never in the most remote capacity expected to be a victim of anything like this. He put the dagger under my throat, forcing me to look up at his mindboggling transformation. His head shape-shifted into a cloud of blackness. His eyes illuminated white. Again he said, “Release your soul!” This time he ran the blade stiffly under my throat cutting my warm flesh. The escalation of my predicament became too strenuous. I fought and screamed like a banshee, but this only seemed to enrage him more. I could not perceive a way out. I gave in.

“I release my soul,” I whispered.
“Say it again,” he instructed.
Clenching my teeth I repeated, “I release my soul.”
Klaus stepped away, allowing me to see the blood-stained dagger. His smile lasted for a minute, then he said, “Something’s wrong, nothing is happening!”
I wondered what was supposed to happen. The three of them circled me, staring at me in bewilderment. I cried hysterically while still under surveillance. I knew they were distracted. I darted out the room with urgency, focused only on my escape. Repeatedly I pressed both down buttons on the elevators, pacing until one opened. I barely let the door open before I rushed in. Unexpectedly they did not follow me, and I didn’t see anyone along the way to the basement parking lot.

‘NASCAR’ skills manoeuvred me through a bustling highway. Tranquillity was not an option. Rapid heartbeats ricocheted off my skin-tight blouse. Gripping the wheel did not help control my trembles. Hallucinations plagued my journey. At one time I was sure I saw Klaus driving a Rolls Royce beside me, but when I blinked he vanished. Given my experience, I was able to control my nerves and my car quite well, until I crashed into the perimeter wall of my apartment compound.

Relief seeped into my consciousness. Crashing into a wall was actually a minor issue. A soft-spoken security guard came to my aid, mistakenly assuming my disarray was because of the accident. Quickly I assured him I was fine, and to let management forward me the bill. He did not press me. After all, he knew who I was and where I lived. I raced past the elevator senselessly climbing three flights of stairs. As I approached my apartment, physical and mental tiredness conquered me. I could not run anymore. My elderly neighbour stood outside her door as was her usual position, and for the first time I ignored her. I had always made an effort to be cordial, even though she never reciprocated the sentiment. She was so uncouth. She grunted at me “good night doesn’t cost anything, you know!” I didn’t acknowledge her.

As I staggered into my apartment, my shoulders finally relaxed. Home was home. I wanted nothing more than a cup of herbal tea and a hot shower. I feared the wound my mirrors would reveal, but there was not even a scrape. How could that be? I knew I was cut. I saw the blood. Exhaustion decided I would accept it. Who owned the rights to my soul dominated my concerns. I called the only person who would believe me, my grandmother. She was still up as expected. I related the story to her in vivid detail, though I expected her to be disappointed that my faith was weak, and she was!

“Natalie, I warned you about that America. Bad things happen there. People do bad things to get what they think is success. What does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?”
“But granny, I didn’t want what he was offering.”
“Yes, you did Natalie, that’s why he approached you. You’re lucky you are a twin!”
“What does that have to do with anything?” I questioned, not appreciating her straying from the subject.
“Oh child, you are one in the same, her spirit will always protect you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I was hoping I would never have to discuss this, but now I have no choice. You are weary, get some rest. Nothing could harm you in your own home, I took care of that. We will speak tomorrow, but you will have to visit me soon.”
“Okay granny. Thanks for everything. Please promise me that you will not hold back anything from me.”
“I won’t, as long as you promise to have an open mind.”
“I will granny. I promise.”
“Okay then, goodnight my love.”
“Goodnight granny, I love you.”

As I laid my head on my pillow I knew I had to listen and accept whatever she told me. If ever I needed my grandmother’s superstitions to be accurate, it was now! My eyes burned with exhaustion, my eyelids were heavy, but fought to stay open. Between sleep and wake I caught a glimpse of the wind chime granny had hung in my room when I was three years old. I had kept it all these years because it was so beautiful. It was elegantly crafted of pure silver, with six tubes of different lengths, each engraved with prayers written in brass, and in the middle hung a crystal globe. She told me she had it made because I had trouble sleeping. Now I was sure it had something to do with the safety my home always exuded.

Staring at the wind chime, I comforted myself with the confidence I had in my grandmother. Worry still plagued me, but I didn’t think things could get worse.

9 Comments

  1. abaseng says:

    this runs much more smoothly now…your uniqueness is in the way you structure your sentences and your courageous use of verbs and adjectives…all in all i’m impressed with the improvement which augurs well for future work…write on…

    Like

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