A train whistle screamed under the blanket of night as Mr. Munene dropped dead on his study floor. His soul was oblivious of the interruption as he stood up to investigate the disturbance. Beyond the window was a most astonishing sight. A black train crowned in a billowing white mane of smoke tore across a winding bridge. Although it was only minutes to the witching hour, the night sky was burnished with ghostly blue light.
Mr. Munene frowned. Wait a minute, but how? There are no bridges or trains in Museve. But alas, there it was.
At first, Kyeni did not notice his father’s demise either. He had come to clear Mr. Munene’s fourth cup of uji (porridge) and to remind him to go to bed. A few seconds later, harsh reality began to smother the boy. Kyeni looked down at his father’s crumpled body, then at his father standing by the bay window.
He blinked and paused for a moment, stiffened by absolute confusion, then paralyzing fear and finally an escalating panic. Inconsiderate of Kyeni’s shock, a marabou stork flew up from the billows of smoke from the train and dived down like a bullet, past the window as if it were merely thin air.
The wraithlike bird grabbed Muli’s soul with its beak, by the cuff of his shirt, and took flight with a screeching call. Without hesitation, or probably following his innate instinct, Kyeni dropped the tray in his hand. The boy grabbed hold of his father’s shoe and saw himself lift off of the ground, weightless. This did not seem to irk the creature as it flapped on.
Through the glass they moved, unharmed and unhindered. They flew over the pale blue sky, cast by the spirits of the valley and over the train. Kyeni did not know how, but he understood fully. This was no ordinary stork as much as that was no ordinary train. Its engines had roared before the witching hour, awakened by the whistle of death and its final destination was Yayayani, the city of Ngai Muatuangi, God who parts the fingers.
The land of the dead is not for the living, sang the marabou stork. The creature was as Kyeni now knew- the guardian of the spirits of men. Let go of his shoe, you who fly by the soul of your father.
I will not dare, sang Kyeni in reply. Do what you will to me, I do not care.
Very well then, if you are prepared to fight, but beware for all the dead souls are his by right. The loco pilot does not take kindly to thieves. He guards his dead with a ferocious might.
The guardian of souls sang as he dropped Mr. Munene from his beak and sent son and father careening down towards the billowing mist.
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