Zombilogy (An Abandoned Story)

Note: Abandoned means i don’t think I’ll be working on it anymore. Try to enjoy.

…………………………………….

Bridge Closed.

That’s what the sign read – bridge closed. I stared at it dumbly, not knowing what to do. Despite running at full sprint for the past 10 minutes, I still didn’t make it.

“But the idiot radio announcer said the bridge would be left open till 5pm. It’s just 4.30pm. Damn it!” I said more to myself than anyone else seeing that no one else was left on the island.

I looked at my wristwatch, and then my cell phone just to confirm it was still working and I wasn’t dulling myself. Both said 4.30pm.

I could feel the sweat wetting my shirt at the back and my armpits felt icky. I probably just broke the world record, covering about half a kilometer in 10 minutes. Too bad nobody is going to be around to cheer. Not unless I get this blood sample to the research lab in Lag.

I fell on my ass exhausted and drew out a water bottle from my backpack. As I guzzled down water, I took in how eerily quiet Lagos Island had become. Cars were abandoned everywhere and nobody was on the streets.  The only sounds I could hear was the rhythmic gulp gulp in my throat. That and the distant moaning drifting in from the wind.

They’re getting close.

I unlocked my cellphone and brought up the chat screen.

Me – Just missed my window. Bridge closed. Suggestions?

Dr. Ogechi – Damn it! That’s very bad.

Me – … 😦

Dr. Ogechi – What about the other bridge? I know the zombies had already overrun the barricades over there. So it’s crossable.

Me – Yeah, and so was the Red Sea before the Egyptians raced into a watery grave.

Dr. Ogechi – I see no better option

I know she’s right. Dr. Ogechi is always right.

Dr. Ogechi – I’ll let Captain Balogun know you’ll be coming by that way. He’ll make his men keep an eye out for you. …Hurry. And Simi… be careful.

Logged out.

Alone again.

I searched around the block for somewhere to spend the night. No point, getting munched in my sleep.

High ground. I need to get to high ground.

I jogged along the middle of the street, searching for a building that hopefully would provide safe shelter for me overnight.

I ticked off a mental checklist: Tall building, at least 3 stories tall, no broken windows, walled in on both sides by equally tall buildings… Bingo!

I stood in front of the Ecobank building, craning my neck upwards till I could see the top of the building.

Let’s pray the air conditioning still works.

I crouched at the metal detectors/electric doors and hooked up my trusty old smart phone. The Hackr app came up.  It began running algorithms and checking for back channels. Who said hacking isn’t a survival skill? 3 minutes pass, my toes are killing me, my lower back aches and I’m still watching numbers queue up on the phone.

I considered force-closing the app and starting over. Sometimes, these apps fall into a loop and stop responding. Just when I’m about to do so, I hear a low moan. It’s quite low, so low you’d be tempted to ignore it. But I ignored it once, and my brother paid the price.

The bank is near the end of the street. If whatever is making that moan turns the corner, it’ll see me and… let’s just say, I’d rather avoid another meeting with it.

The app’s still running.

Please please please, for once in your life, don’t be a stupid phone. Just break the stupid code.

As though on cue, the phone beeps and displays – Doors unlocked. Code reset in 10 secs.

I scrambled through the door. It wasn’t until I heard the clunk of the door security system resetting that my mind began functioning properly again. I heard my heart banging against my inner ears like a marching band. It felt so loud I was scared that whatever was outside would hear me inside.

Eventually, the independence parade in my head subsided and I started walking around the rooms. The number of times my body had culled up adrenaline that day had me reeling from exhaustion. I eventually settled for one of the big offices upstairs. The office was so big, it had its own toilet. I chose to setup camp in the toilet. Right now, paranoia is safer.

As I lay on the blanket, I took out my phone and pulled up my messenger app again. I scanned first for my wife, Lara, then my daughter, Esther. Both accounts hadn’t logged in since yesterday. Meaning either they were in a telecoms deadzone or they had lost their phones. I didn’t want to consider the third possibility.

I turned on my music app and looked for an audio bible. I looked for the part that mentions God not sleeping or dozing off. Psalm 121. Right. I put that on a playlist along with Dylan Thomas’ poem  And death shall have no dominion. I leave the two tracks on repeat and wait for sleep to come.

Everything is going to be fine. You’re going to be fine Simi.

Sometime later, maybe about a half-hour or so, sleep found me.

End

 

A Definitive List of Fantasy Fiction

fantasy fiction list

First and Foremost, this isn’t THE definitive list of Fantasy Fiction. It’s more like a personal recommendation list.

I’m currently an editor and Ghostwriter but I plan to write my own books someday and they will most definitely be in the SFF genre (Science Fiction and Fantasy).

I’ve read a lot of Science Fiction but my mileage in Fantasy is very low. So, I’m calling on you to help me out. Tell me the books that are absolutely must reads in the genre. These books have to be books that you personally feel that if i haven’t read, something in my life isn’t complete. Or you know, you just really love the book(s).

Please, don’t recommend the books that have a reputation of being good, for example The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I have tried twice to read that book but couldn’t make it past page 25. I’d prefer personal recommendations. This means that along with book title, please leave behind a sentence or two about what the story is about and why you liked it.

Here is a list of books I have already read, Or I’m still reading that made me fall in love with the genre.

  1. Mistborn Trilogy – Brandon Sanderson
  2. Allow of Law – Brandon Sanderson
  3. Steel Heart – Brandon Sanderson
  4. Seventh Son – Orson Scott Card
  5. The Circle Trilogy – Ted Dekker
  6. Zoo City – Lauren Beukes
  7. I am Number Four – Pittacus Lore
  8.  The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  9. Dead Beat – Jim Butcher

As you can see, it’s really small. So, please drop your recommendations in the comments. Anything that qualifies as fantasy is okay. But it must have impressed you in a personal way and be really, really good.

Writers are What Writers Read and a Divergent Trilogy Review

divergent trilogy review

I heard Divergent is out in cinemas and so I decided to read up. From my experience, the book is always way better than the movie (except for Minority Report).  And the Divergent trilogy is complete so I didn’t have to endure months of agonizing and writing my own sequels in my head. This post is about what happened to me while reading these 3 books. I’ll put the review at the end.

I’ve heard the writers’ creed so many times – if you want to write better, read a lot – that I probably quote it in my sleep unconsciously. What is not chanted repeatedly is the fact that what you read influences your writing. While reading the Divergent series, I discovered several creepy changes to my writing style. My characters became more obsessed with romance. The pace got quicker but the internal conflict got muddled. Muddled such that I used more words to describe internal conflict when fewer words would do and my imagery reduced.

I had to quit on a particular story when I couldn’t take it anymore. My writing is better, and then it’s also worse. This never happened when I was chewing up Dennis Lehane and Brandon Sanderson books regularly. Damn you, Veronica Roth! And damn you, Young Adult!

Of course I’m kidding. I love young adult and I enjoyed reading Veronica’s books. But for now, I’m gonna say bye-bye to the genre for a bit and return to my first love – Urban fantasy fiction. Which reminds me, I’m compiling a definitive list of Fantasy Fiction. I figured that if I’m going to rule the genre someday, I might as well get familiar with all the tropes and currently existing worlds. If you have suggestions that you believe is essential reading for the fantasy genre, please go here and drop a comment.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…

Divergent Trilogy Review

I don’t really enjoy rewriting book summaries which can be found behind the book cover. So here’s my own summary. Divergent is a story about Shailene Woodley, sorry, Beatrice Prior, later christened Tris (because monosyllabic names sound cooler) and her hero’s journey through the world of Chicago, sorry, The City. In Beatrice’s world, there are five factions of people based on character traits and world views, who coexist “peacefully”. At age 16 a ceremony is held where Beatrice, as well as every other 16 year old, gets to choose which faction she will spend the rest of her life in. If it sounds a little  Hunger Gamesy, it is but that is not a bad thing. There’s also a Harry Potter vibe about some of the plot beats but hey, there’s a reason why formulaic writing sells millions of books.

For example, there were times when a character’s death would be telegraphed from about 3-4 chapters before(because if a minor character kills someone or tries to, it is only ethical that you kill that character- YA Rule No. 34). This however doesn’t mean Divergent tells a boring story. In fact, I think the plot of Divergent is its strongest attribute.

As far as comparisms with Hunger Games goes, this book sits just a step below Suzzane Collin’s masterpiece. I ploughed through the first Hunger Games book in under 11 hours. It was that gripping for me. The first Divergent book took me 3 days to finish. But each book ended on a cliffhanger and that made reading the next book compulsive.

One criticism for me, and this is a major one, is the amount of kissing that went on in this book. It got so much to the point of awkwardness. And the way the characters, especially the protagonists, kept ogling each other, admiring teach other’s collarbone or “hooking my thumb in his belt loops” was ridiculous. If someone just told me everything I knew to be real was a lie, kissing would be the farthest thing from my mind. But then again, I’m not 16, so what do I know? Maybe that’s how teenagers deal with depression.

I also found the dual Points of View (POV) in book 3 – Allegiant – very confusing. The story is told from Tris’ and Four’s POV. Problem though is that both voices sounded similar. I would read a chapter with Tris’ voice in my head only to get somewhere and find out that it was supposed to be Four’s POV. I don’t know why the editors allowed the change after sticking with just one POV in Divergent and Insurgent.

With that out of the way, I have nothing left but praise for this book. The themes in the book get very serious and real-worldy in book 2 and 3. Metaphors for racism and genetic cleansing come to surface and I feel the writer did a good handling of those topics.

By the way, the big idea for this Divergent trilogy was: Nature vs. Nurture – What determines Choice? The fact that it was coated in an assortment of delicious action, adventure and (sometimes barf-inducing) teenage romance is just icing on a really delicious cake. It’s not everyday a YA novel handles real world topics in a mature yet entertaining way.

Veronica Roth most certainly is Divergent.

BIG IDEA: Nigeria’s Challenges and the Big Bang Theory

Nigeria Big Idea

Note: this post is about 1,400 words long. Buckle up.

This is not about the validity of the big bang theory, so please don’t make it about that. FYI, I believe in God.

I’m not an expert in politics, economics or international relations. So don’t take this as an affront to those who’ve spent several years studying Nigeria.

This isn’t meant to be an almighty formula for solving Nigeria’s many challenges either.

This is a big idea – big ideas are frameworks for solving problems. They present issues in perspective allowing problems to be approached logically, methodically and creatively.

When I worked in an Advertising Agency, before we started crafting adverts and promotional campaigns, we’d come up with a Big Idea. The big idea acts as the guide for every consequent decision. It determines the tone, and direction of the campaign.

So let me start by stating Nigeria’s problems. Nigeria’s problems  are 2-dimensional.

-Physical tangible suffering and

-Emotional and Psychological problems.

These problems aren’t unique to Nigeria. In fact, several countries have been in similar (some arguably worse) situations but they evolved and became first world countries – Singapore comes to mind.

Singapore, a country smaller than the size of Lagos, got its independence in 1963 and became a republic in ’65. Right from its inception, it faced tremendous hurdles – unemployment, housing, education and lack of land. It’s even one worse than Nigeria because it lacks natural resources of any kind. Despite these issues, Singapore today is a first world country based on one single thing they had going for them. Their leader (and his team) made good decisions after good decisions.

The story of the journey of Singapore is one of pragmatism and faith. They were able to see their issues for what they were and considered practical steps to curbing them. And they also believed in their country. Absolutely.

I believe those two things are lacking in Nigerian leadership and citizenry. The problem Nigeria faces is not just to solve physical problems like unemployment and poverty but also to restore faith in the entire system. Since the inception of the Republic of Nigeria, our leaders have made bad decision after bad decision. I’m not pointing fingers; I’m merely stating facts.

To whom much is given, much is expected. Nigeria, just like any other newly formed sovereign state, had so much potential but in hind sight, we see that some of that potential died with poor decisions.

Today, we want a change but it might not come in the way we expect.

Imagine a situation where 160 million people are being led by some groups of people and those people have been digging the country into a big hole. For 53 years plus, we’ve followed them into this hole. Now as we get closer to the earth’s core, the hole is getting hotter and people are starting to cry out, complaining, criticizing.

But you can’t jump out of a hole that is 53 years deep in a single bound. No government can jump that far. It took time to dig us into this ditch. It’ll take time, and several governments, to dig us out.

Sometimes, I hear people speak against Nigerian leaders’ performance. We do have the right to speak against bad governance and poor leadership (afterall to whom much is given, much is expected) but I think we also need to understand the situation these leaders met on ground. The foundation of the Republic itself needs work.

So finally, after all the long talk, here’s my Big idea;

 A 60-year blueprint to turn Nigeria into a first world country, with a review every 15 years.

A 60 year plan would involve 15 tenures of government. But they would all be working with the same blueprint. That’s where the review comes in. Every 15 years, the blueprint is called up and reviewed, priorities are rearranged (if need be) and the viability of the vision is assessed.

I know it sounds idealistic. But so was landing a man on the moon. And today, scientists are bored with the moon. They now travel to Mars.

For this Big idea to work, it would require several things:

1. The right leaders. When I say the right leaders, I’m not referring to just the presidency and his cabinet. I’m referring to every active political leader.

Human beings are flawed, unreliable and selfish. Even the best of men are still men. For this kind of idea to work, two-thirds of the total number of active political leaders it takes to run Nigeria need to buy-into this vision. And they all have to be in office within the space of 6-8 years. A president may be the face of a country but in reality, he is an embodiment of the entire vision of the country. Presidents don’t run countries. It takes several elected leaders. So even if we elect the “best” man/woman for the presidency, he/she still has to work in tandem with other political leaders in the country, otherwise frustration and insurrection would set in. We need the right leaders.

2. A Major Salary Cut. As I wrote this piece, I pictured pitching the idea to the current leadership; and this is where talks broke down. In my head, they all stepped out of the conference room.

No politician may want to hear this but they all need take a salary cut. It’s the only way to generate good will because, they currently have nothing to draw from that account.

You’re trying to get your followers to buy-into your vision, you need a solid show of sacrifice. Trying to do otherwise is pointless. I remember the case of Jonah Lehrer, the Wired magazine journalist and wonderkid who lost his job because of self-plagiarism and fact falsification. About a year later, he tried to make a comeback by speaking at an event (his entire speech was an explanation and apology). All seemed right with the world and everybody was ready to forgive him and move on when it came to light that he accepted 20, 000 dollars for that speech. WTH?! He was paid to apologize? Screw forgiveness.

The same thing happens every time Nigerian leaders try to pose ideas and solutions to the Nigerian people. There’s no trust or goodwill account they can withdraw from. Take a salary cut. Major salary cuts. We’ll believe anything you tell us thereafter.

3. A meeting of the best minds this country has to offer, posing feasible goals and charting directions for the nation’s various sectors. This is where the experts come in. These are the people to craft the 60-year blueprint.

4. A lot of patience from the Nigerian people. Nigerians have to wake up to the reality that Nigeria might not become the Utopia we envision during our own lifetime. It’s a possibility. A building takes time. And Nigeria already has a bad foundation of poor decisions and debt that needs to be sorted out. That will take time. Are you willing to come to the table and make that sacrifice? Or do we continue managing things the way they are?

Whew! I’m sure that by now, you’ll see why I said the probability of solving Nigeria’s problems is the same as that of the big bang theory.

Again, this is just one Big idea. There can be several others. The most important thing is that people use their creativity to envision solutions to the country’s many issues.

Note: Big bang theory – a theory that the universe began with an explosion of a dense mass of matter and is still expanding from the force of that explosion. After the explosion, random interactions and combinations of particles eventually resulted in the Universe that we have today (and the earth filled with intelligent life). To put it in perspective, the probability of this is the same as having a tornado plow through a scrap yard and leaving in its wake, several sports cars.