V FOR VENDETTA meets GIRL, INTERRUPTED
Fates collide when a wayward ambassador’s daughter spars with a scrappy resistance leader in a city haunted by its past. Outpacing bloodthirsty cultists with government ties, the two must unravel legendary secrets before a deadly history repeats.
My heart beats differently now. Guttural rhythms and cryptic tones, like the ancient talking drums. And when these Harmattan days cloak the world in violent swirls of warm dust, my heart grates against my lungs. Each breath shallow and strained and sour. A sigil of the changing tides, since the cultists infested our coast. A Cotonou forever changed. Paranoid. Violent. Scared. Here, at the mouth of the river of death.
Les Chacals. I spit, ridding my mouth of the bile risen from my throat. The elders say anger and madness are brothers, and anger poisons the soul. Well, anger and I are old friends. And madness, a searing shadow.
I kick an empty can against the crumbling brick wall. The noise ricochets like stray bullets down the dark alley. No longer an uncommon sound. Another can, another fierce kick.
One for the lives the cultists destroyed.
One for the nightmares they gave every child.
And one for the curfew, imposed to keep us “safe.”
With my last kick, the street dogs scamper away. But the alpha, lanky and black, returns, nudging his scarred nose against my boots. Resting on his hind legs, his floppy ears relax – one, half-missing – as he tilts his head. I almost smile, kneeling to stroke his shaggy head, but my taut, bitter jaw won’t budge.
Maybe he knows what I dread in my gut. Maybe he just came to say goodbye.