It just appeared, this thing. No one knows how the monstrous object, at least 70 metres in height, got here. We woke up this morning and there it was, right beside our house, so close you could throw a pebble and it would hit it. God rest the soul of the uncompleted building that used to sit in the same spot. Considering it had not added weight since I was a kid, it was also an abandoned project. No one will miss it.
Anyway, we did not hear any startling or crashing sounds during the night so could this thing have mastered the art of using portal guns, that device you see in Rick and Morty, or whatever it is Dark Seid uses in DC Comics to stroll in and out of this human-infested dimension? Is this thing alien?
The only other structure I have seen that is this tall is the Cocoa House in Ibadan during a secondary school excursion several years ago. They say it used to be the tallest building in Nigeria. I don’t know how wide this visitor is but it is so vast and rotund it would take 30-something locked hands to give it a bear hug.
It seems to be upside down too like it crashed. I cannot see the tail, but the head suggests it is shaped like a rocket. The surface is gravelly, some rectangular-shaped parts protruding like in the famous ancient Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard. Nothing else is visible, except the fins which, unlike the earthly designs I am used to, are located closer to the head of the thing than its tail. Or maybe there are others far back I cannot see.
But this does not seem like advanced technology at all. Rather, like the Cocoa House, there is something mysteriously antique about its appearance. It looks like something created by visionary engineers in the pre-AD centuries but which wound up stolen, kept in a museum millions of lightyears away, and then suddenly returned to earth after some intergalactic lawsuit was filed. Too bad the court bailiffs got their coordinates wrong; this should have been returned to somewhere in Egypt, China, or southwest Asia. Definitely not southwest Nigeria.
We would have simply ignored it and moved on with our lives but the next day, the stranger seems to loom larger. Has it suddenly increased in size? Is it feeding on the planet’s core or our fresh vegetation of maize and elephant grass? Or is the rest of the world shrinking? Have I been watching too many sci-fi movies and animations?
It took a while before we, my brother Dapo and I, finally realised what is happening. Our tiny house is getting pulled towards the 70-feet-tall rocket!
I am terrified.
But I am the only terrified sibling. I ask Dapo how soon we can get out of town and he says something about us having two live chickens left from the poultry that we just have to roast and eat before travelling to our family house in Ago-Iwoye. ‘Besides, there is nothing to be afraid of. The thing is obviously inanimate with no evidence of life inside. It is just a rocket-shaped whale-heavy mound of brick.’ So we go to sleep, smacking our lips after a dinner of tasty fried chicken, the last 40 minutes of Interstellar playing on M-Net Movies as our breathing slows.
The thing is not gone the following day. And yes, our two-storey building had continued to gravitate towards it over the night. But, hold on. Why is there no sliver of sunlight? I go to the living room and draw the blinds and all I see is near-pitch darkness — punctured by a set of scattered protruding rectangles. I hurry down the stairs for a clearer view and realise: We have not just been drawn closer to the structure, we have been lifted a few feet off the ground!
With the gained altitude comes a glimpse of something we had not noticed before. Somewhere in the vastness of the gravelly grey surface is a thick, fuzzy glass window like in the cockpit of a plane, but much broader. I stare for long enough to be sure I am not hallucinating but not enough to get a clear view of the frames seated inside the glass, if any. I will rather not see them, in fact, and risk locking eyes with whoever or whatever they are.
I rush back up the stairs and into the bedroom as fast as I can. ‘There is no time to waste. We have to start going,’ I scream at Dapo, while simultaneously packing as many items as I can into my backpack. ‘I think there are people inside the walls!’
My brother, as un-alarmed as he possibly can be, slowly emerges from the top deck of the bunk bed, even more slowly rubs his right eye, and then his left, yawns, and manages to mutter something I think must be important. ‘What did you say?’ I ask, now running out of breath.
‘Don’t forget to grab the second chicken,’ he repeats.
Storyteller & Journalist
‘Kúnlé Adébàjò is a journalist who has a background in Law and keen interests in educational reform, political transparency, the applications of technology in governance, and lived experiences of everyday people.
He is the author of On Words and Awards, co-author of The Road before the Fourth Estate: A Guide to Becoming the Ultimate Campus Journalist, and editor of Lines from the Fount (Volume I).