The clang of the metal door startled me awake. The guard was back. Was it time? It had to be. I was sick of waiting. I just wanted it to end. This had gone on too long, even by their standards. They had no reason to keep me there.

I wasn’t quite sure what their intention was. Maybe it was to keep me unbalanced, each beating another shove towards the edge of insanity. Perhaps they thought the constant humiliation would eventually break my spirit and I would confess to all the abominable acts they had accused me of. At this point in time none of this was necessary. The people were happy. The legal system had worked to protect them; it had plucked a malignant menace from the community and sentenced it to death. There would be no more problems from me; their worries would come to a grinding halt.

At least that’s what they thought.

And it was too late to tell them otherwise. What could I say anyway? How could I explain? These simple minded humans would not believe me. I had always doubted that their thinking capacity was set up to understand our world.

On that night it was the pudgy one on duty. I think he was called Maina, a belligerent fellow with lazy bloodshot eyes that betrayed his chronic drinking. Actually, the stench of cheap vodka did that more accurately, clinging onto him like a protective lover. The most outstanding feature on Maina’s face was the vapid expression he constantly wore. From my corner of the cell I could see him peering over his desk. His eyes were always glazed over so I could never really tell if he was looking at me or simply staring into space.

He walked towards my cell in that deliberate way under qualified people in micro-management positions do, heels clacking loudly on the floor to announce an often unnecessary presence. He rattled his keys as he approached my cell-door. I sat up tentatively and shrunk back into the corner. He saw me cowering and grinned stupidly.

“Yes get ready,” he breathed. I knew he would like that.

However, he did not engage in his usual theatrical performance. There was no need to pretend to search for the key. He opened the cell door and stormed in, his belt buckle already loosened. He stopped directly in front of me and let his pants fall to the ground. I tried to move my head away in protest but there was nothing I could do except look at him. He spread his legs and placed his hands on the wall above him for support, his penis flaccid and unimpressive.

I clearly was taking too long for his liking and he made his impatience clear by shoving his knee into my face. I could taste blood now. I stared at him defiantly. I would not do this anymore and I told him so. He cackled maliciously and mocked my efforts. He grabbed a handful of my hair and repetitively bashed my face into the wall until I went limp.

Till then I hadn’t known it was possible to give head with a mouth full of blood and broken teeth. He shoved his penis around and the sound in my head reminded me of a bag full of marbles.

When he was done I made myself as small as possible and crawled back into the corner, blood and cum dribbling out of my mouth. I waited for him to leave but he didn’t seem to be in a hurry. He pulled up in his trousers slowly, and removed a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his back pocket. “You want one?”

I spat out what was left of my teeth and stared at him incredulously. He couldn’t be serious.

Come on. Everyone needs a cigarette after sex.” He shook the pack till one of the sticks poked out of the top. I reached for one, put it in my mouth, and he lit for me. What a gentleman right? I took a long drag and felt the nicotine rush to my brain. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him observing me curiously.

What?! What are you staring at?!” I asked. Seemed like the tobacco was giving me some sort of confidence.

So did you do it?”

Does it matter? I’ve been sentenced to death.”

Answer the question, bloody fucking or I swear…”

You’ll do WHAT?”

What was he going to fucking do? Rape me? Beat me? Mutilate me? How long had I already been subjected to this version of hell? On the first day they’d hacked off my wings and left me to bleed out on the dirty floor for 9 hours before anyone came to check up on me. By then I’d already managed to assemble makeshift bandages from material I ripped from the filthy mattress in the corner.

The guards came in later with a man who said he was a government appointed doctor, but his lab coat was coated in stains that made me suspect he was one of the hot dog vendors from the Circuit. The way he poked and prodded at me made me even more wary of his credentials, but he gave me some pills that made me numb and knocked me out. When I came to it was to the sight of one of the guards thrusting away on top of me. I tried to scream but it only seemed to encourage him. They didn’t have to beat me up to silence me; I stopped screaming out of my own volition. It was pointless. There was no one coming.

I was so bored of these police officers. The first few days were horrible. Every day there were three shifts of police, each officer probably scraped from the bottom of the barrel of competency. They spit in my food and left all the windows and doors open when it was raining, hoping to freeze me to death. For a while their harassment campaign was centered on me not sleeping. They stamped their feet, sang songs in their mother tongues all night (and off key) and played with their guns. When they would get really drunk, they’d enter my cell and stand in a semi circle pointing their guns at me. They would cock a gun that I didn’t know was empty, give a slurred but impassioned speech about justice, and then pull the trigger. Eventually, I grew accustomed to their abuse.

Sometimes they would try talk to me. One of the senior officers actually walked in and gave me a speech on how he was a religious man and how my existence was a test of his faith. He went on and on seemingly believing everything he was saying. He talked about winged demons and jinnis, rambling on about how we possessed good human beings and made them wild with desire and caused them to sin. (He was sort of right.) He told me he had always known that all the horrible things that happened in this world were caused by external forces, that men were incapable of committing atrocities by their own free will because they were created by a peaceful God. I could never stand the religious fundamentalists I encountered in training so it was difficult to remain silent. I asked him whether him and his men had been possessed when they beat me so badly I broke my hip in three places. He responded by knocking out my front teeth with the butt of his gun.

Maina was still staring at me, expecting an answer. I sighed heavily and told him I’d tell him the whole story… if he gave me another cigarette.

Well, I’m a Cupid. Forget all the lies you were told about us being cute winged babies. I mean we are but that’s only when we’re born. We actually have to grow into fully fledged adults who have to go through school and training for it. I mean our training isn’t as rigorous as the military branch and our school curriculum isn’t as intense as the Healers’, but we still get a very swanky graduation ceremony AND we have our own offices, thank you very much. I know its not much but we get by.

My job as a Cupid officer is to create instances of desire. It doesn’t really matter how or when I do it. It can be in the line at the bank or in the line for the bathroom or in the line for the bus (actually 56% of married couples admit to meeting in queues.) But that’s something that junior Cupids do. When you move up the ranks you get sent off to areas with higher density and less order. Those are shopping malls, the Central Business District, hospitals, funeral homes, really random places. I used to work the club circuit in Nairobi.

One would think that the endless cacophony of drugs and alcohol would make it easy to fool people into thinking that they were attracted to one another but it was actually quite difficult. We weren’t just supposed to make you want to dry hump one another to Jamaican music but to create a lasting impression. We were responsible for creating what they referred to as ‘mafeelings’.

All Cupid officers are armed with three arrows (yes, the arrow thing is for real.) The first arrow is called the Contact Arrow. This arrow is simply for the initial phase of attraction. We locate two suitable candidates and match them together. This basically means hovering around listening to conversations and making adequate inferences on their compatibility; is their body language right, is their conversation promising, and so forth. After that’s done, the arrow has to pierce through both of the targets simultaneously for it to be a successful pairing. Of course with all the bad music and the ridiculous dancing it’s so fucking hard to eavesdrop and then get a lock on these drunken fools, which is why everyone hates this assignment.

The second arrow is the Attraction arrow, and it’s much easier to use. Once the two candidates have made Contact, they have to be sparked into the next phase. The Attraction arrow can be shot at either one of them, but it’s our job to determine who would be better at leading the attraction. In most cases Cupid officers shoot the male target first, since societal expectations state that they’re the ones to take charge of the pursuit. Besides, the club scene is always packed with scores of insecure and emotionally challenged men who would chicken out of the whole ritual if a woman was to lead the entire process. That’s bad for post-work reviews. However the commanding officers are more likely to give you a higher score if you shoot the women first. The feminist movement has really done me a solid, with women taking charge of their sexuality and what not, so I go with the high-risk targets instead, and results had been superb so far.

The third arrow is the smallest and the trickiest of the bunch. It’s called Obsession. With Obsession one has to be careful, you have to make sure that the shot is clean and goes straight through. Also the target entirely depends on who you shot with the Attraction arrow; you have have to shoot the other one. It’s against the rules to shoot both arrows into one person. Obsession makes one…well, obsess. But not in an unhealthy way, the person is just unable to go through a day without thinking about the other. This eventually drives them up the wall and leads them to meet and whatever happens next translates into a nice little bonus for the corresponding Cupid Officer.

It was a Thursday night when it happened. It was 1 am in Westlands and work wasn’t going as well as it should have been. The ratio was imbalanced, there were more men than women present and they seemed to be fighting for the attention of one group of semi attractive girls. The women weren’t drunk enough to find the lewd pelvic thrusting amusing and huddled in a corner, fearfully discussing escape tactics. I hovered above them trying to listen in but I knew it was pointless. They hurriedly left and jumped into the nearest taxi that would take them away from the thirsty hounds they’d left behind. I sighed in exasperation and let them go.

Slow night, huh?”

I spun around to see Vinny standing behind me watching the scene play out with an amused grin on his face.

Thursdays aren’t what they used to be,” I replied, shoving my arrows back into my quiver. “What are you doing here?” I asked, eyeing him suspiciously. “You know I’m working. Plus I thought we were done, I cleared my de-“

Hey ma. Relax. I was doing a pick up in the area and saw you, decided to come say hi.” Vinny was my drug dealer and probably my only friend in the world. “You know you could’ve aimed at the fat one of the group, she didn’t seem like she wanted to leave.”

Did you come to say hi or did you come to tell me how to do my job?” I shot back angrily.

He raised his palms in mock surrender, but didn’t seem like he was in a hurry to leave. I cursed inwardly. I didn’t need Vinny around me, not right now anyway.

You know Zey, you should really relax. If you just loosened up and got laid you would-“

Fuck you, Vinny,” I grunted, readjusting my quiver and settling the bow across my back once more.

Not likely…I’m not your type anymore.” he grumbled under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear it. I wasn’t going to rise to his bait. I dismissed the hurt in his voice and began drifting lazily away. It wasn’t the first time I had heard that though, it seemed to be a discussion in the office. Everyone was aware of the dry spell I had been enduring for the last couple of years, none more than Vinny, since he was the last guy I had ever slept with.

You know what your problem is? You’re too picky Zey.”

I told you to stop calling me that.”

You’re too picky, Zeiii-tooo-knee!” He dragged out the syllables in a sing song voice and tittered in amusement, which pissed me off even more. Vinny’s laugh always reminded me of wind chimes.  I stopped moving and counted slowly to ten, trying to calm down before I tried to cause him bodily harm. He obviously took it as a sign to continue lecturing me on my sex life. I dug my nails into my palms and decided to count to 100 instead.

Maybe I should hook you up with one of my friends.”

Vinny, you have no friends.”

Neither do you.”

That was true; I wasn’t very popular up there. I was born with an exceptional talent in archery that I had been developing since I could barely walk. My parents were the Cupid representatives in the Council of Nephilim and they expected me to follow in their footsteps. But, in the middle of my second year of training, I got caught up in human drugs. They had unpredictable and varying effects on us, an unexplainable high that could last even for days.

See, the thing about us Nephilim is that we’re better than mortals in every fathomable way. Our mental, emotional and physical capacities are lightyears ahead of theirs. Our reactions to stimuli are more advanced. We’re immortal, we’re more aesthetically appealing, and we haven’t had a war in over 30 millenia. But … our drugs were garbage, and humans had that shit on deck. Our strongest pixie wine couldn’t hold a flame to a beer left open in a hot car for 3 days.

Since immortality didn’t allow us to die from overdoses nephilim didn’t have limits. We didn’t get hangovers, or nosebleeds, or blackouts. We just got trashed and fucked up for days on end, which interfered with nephilim-human interactions and almost brought the Kingdom to a standstill. Therefore each and every man made narcotic was illegal and therefore easily available on campus.

After one particularly destructive four day cocaine high I was kicked out of training and was disowned by my uptight family. However, instead of curling up and dying the way institutions and relatives expect you to do when they no longer deem you worthy, I got back on my feet and rose up the ranks. Informally and without ever having to complete my training i met my quotas and my scores were off the charts. Nobody could deny my talent but they didn’t hide their disdain either.

I cleared my throat. “Whatever, I’m not interested. You probably have some trash friends anyway. Probably a were-rat or some shit.”  

Were-rats need love too!” he laughed. “Listen, I think you should meet him. What do you have to lose? Better than the sad lifestyle you live now.”

I couldn’t help but snort. Sad lifestyle? Granted it was a little bit dull, but I wouldn’t call it sad. Truth be told I was tired of the meaningless flings and was looking for something with a little more substance. It didn’t help that I was a Cupid. All potential love interests saw me as a minion of erotic love and only wanted me to show them a good time then, after they were satiated, they would leave. Rarely did any of them call back, and this had been bothering me more and more. I mean it had been fun the first 500; 600 years but now I needed something more. Maybe Vinny was right, my lifestyle did have vast elements of sadness. A Cupid who couldn’t find love. The irony was not lost on anyone.

I sensed Vinny’s sharp eyes drilling into me – as always seeing too much. “Look Vinny I appreciate the concern but I’m meant to be working. I can’t really start vetting romantic candidates with a quiver full of arrows.”

He surveyed the almost empty streets. Even the guys who sold eggs and all sorts of greasy food to drunken revellers were packing up for the night. I would probably have to pull a double shift over the weekend to make up for tonight which was fine by me. Resignedly I asked, “So what’s your friend like?”

We had only been at the club for 30 minutes but I was already pissed off and wanted to leave. Working the circuit had made me resent every form of late night revelry whether it was by humans or nephilim. The music at The Arcadia was like a living breathing monster, its pulse the constant throbbing of the drum base. I couldn’t help but notice how much the place looked like some of the pretentious lounges that had been cropping up in Nairobi, with the dim lighting and the theatrical clouds of smoke that were supposed to create a sensual atmosphere but really ended up just giving the patrons slight headaches.

You would think that as an advanced species we would refrain from appropriating ideas from the lesser humans especially after what happened 30 years back. The Council of Nephilim had banned direct interaction with humans after a small handful of rebellious gargoyles had given up their immortality in order to pursue ‘real lives’ with human women. Things had gone south when they were unable to fully assimilate into human society. Even after they magically altered their appearances, they never really quite fit in. One of them was caught in his workplace microwaving a severed goat’s head (he said it was for his lunch.) Another one was involved in a national scandal when the media accused him of running a child trafficking ring. The poor beast had begotten 16 children in a period of 7 months and since humans had such a limited understanding of science, they deemed it impossible and bayed for blood.

The Council could have easily stepped in and cleared the whole situation with a lazy wave of their hands but they decided to leave them at the mercy of the Kenyan people so as to teach the rest of us a lesson. Their last act was to reverse the alterations they had made to their appearance so that everyone could see them for what they REALLY were.

The ruthlessness the society demonstrated whilst dealing with the rebel group left a horrible taste in everyone’s mouth. They were tortured by the police, demonized in the media and declared abominations in the churches. Their wives were accused of being witches and were burnt alive, the videos of their lynching shared all over the internet. According to varying press reports, their children were either sent to different adoption agencies or ‘ran away’, but we were all watching when they were clubbed to death and thrown in the Nairobi River. The Council made us watch everything and made sure we forgot nothing. After that all the new regulations were enforced. We were instructed never to interact with them. But that didn’t stop us from using their drugs and copying their forms of entertainment.

I was distracted from my musings by a tap on my hip. I forced a smile before turning to face Vinny’s friend. Or rather look down at. The entire way there he had talked up his buddy, who went only as L, and swore that he was a stand up guy. What Vinny failed to mention was that L was a 2 foot dwarf with a bad case of body odour. He handed me a glass of pixie wine and smiled sheepishly at me.

I downed my wine in seconds, gave a barely intelligible excuse and walked off in the direction I last saw Vinny. I would first yell at him for hooking me up with a DWARF, an extremely insulting act considering the fact that I stood at 6 feet 6 inches when barefoot. It didn’t help that the poor sap was as interesting as a pair of mouldy old socks. He had rambled on about his day and how beautiful he thought I was, which was sweet but I had heard the same lines for the last 300 years and he wasn’t making any effort to be creative. I also needed something stronger to get through the night and Vinny had just come from a pick up. I wasn’t going to pay him for shit, he owed me.

As always, Arcadia was noisy and crowded. Frowning, I wandered about the sea of tables and party goers randomly, hoping that I had missed Vinny in passing somewhere along the line. But as hard as I searched I couldn’t find him for shit. I cursed out loud and startled a little cluster of wood nymphs, but I ignored their disapproving looks and continued with my search.

Just when I was about to give up I spotted him beneath the random spray of coloured lights that repeatedly bombarded and illuminated the writhing bodies, seemingly lost in dance. As if aware of my gaze, Vinny turned to stare at me as he continued to dance. I jerked my head in the direction of the bathroom and tapped my nose. He nodded and began making his way towards it. YES! My night was definitely going to pick up from this point.

Cocaine made me lose my sense of time and space. I couldn’t recall when I’d left Arcadia or where Vinny had gone after we did our lines but I wasn’t the least bit bothered. The sun had been up for a couple of hours and yet there was no sign of life. It had been several years since I had been assigned to the club circuit and I still couldn’t get over how different it looked during the day. Then again there was really no need to be there before night. Still, I expected a few members of staff to be hanging around, even after hours.

I floated lazily about the parking lot and tried to concentrate on the assignment at hand but it just wasn’t happening. The businessmen I had targeted had been fighting the first two arrows with all of their human will but they were failing miserably. However I was having a hard time getting one of them in the right position for the final blow. I resighted my arrow for what seemed the millionth time and tried to aim again, but there was no point. They finished their conversation and entered their respective cars to leave. I sighed and reached into my quiver for the small satchet Vinny had given me. I dipped my finger into it and came up with a tiny bump of coke. I stuffed the glorious powder into my nostrils and started giggling as the effects checked in.

Luckily there was a problem with one of the cars (thanks to a little tampering by yours truly) and they decided to walk into the nearest coffee shop to wait for a mechanic. Drawing my bow with a fluid grace born of centuries of practice, I inhaled, took aim and-

You ditched me last night.”

The arrow slipped from my grasp and shot forward with a sickening high pitched whistle. Again, another unnecessary distraction at work, and this time from a smelly midget. I rolled my eyes and began flying away but he tugged on my left wing and refused to let go. For a little creature he was actually quite strong. I smacked his hand away before he pulled away any of my feathers, but landed right in front of him. I needed to get this over with.

Look, L, things came up. And you need to stop following me. I got a quota to meet.”

You ditched me last night,” he repeated slowly.

Yes, what of it?”

I know what you went to do instead.”

Oh?” I said, feigning ignorance. “What, pray-tell did I do?”

He ignored my question and a merciless smirk played on his lips.

You can get into a lot of trouble you know. If the Council was to find out…”

Fuck off. What are you, a cop?”

Actually, I am.”

Oh for fucks sake. What the hell? He wasn’t serious. He couldn’t be serious. What the hell was Vinny thinking? Did he know? Had he set me up? His smirk got wider as he watched the anxiety and shadow of uncertainty grow on my face.

You’re in a lot of trouble, young lady. And I can tell you’re still high. See what you’ve done?” He gestured towards the coffee shop. I peered in and tried to see what he was talking about. What I saw made me sick to my stomach. For the first time ever I had missed. The final arrow had pierced the wrong person, and I could see two silvered fletchings poking out the back of one of the targets. It hadn’t even gone through. This… was not good. I was totally fucked.

My hearing was to take place in The Justice Hall in which the Council had their official meetings. I had been standing there for about 30 minutes waiting for the proceedings to begin. From the activity in the room, I could tell something was up. They kept going back and forth, in and out, arranging this, moving that. From where I was I could see the court officials setting up the dias to fit twelve seats. I couldn’t believe my ill luck. The whole Council would be present at my hearing meaning that…

The sound of hushed conversation rose from the floor of the Hall like the rolling of waves onto a distant sandy shore. The door in the Hall’s rear wall opened and the twelve po-faced Council members strode in. Everyone seated in the Hall stood, eyes turned towards the end of the room. The Council members crossed the room towards the dias and stood behind their respective seats. The Grand Mullah lifted a hammer from the podium and struck the gavel three times. Silence fell like an axe.

We are gathered today, by The Grand Council’s authority, and in its name, for the purposes of justice.” The mullah’s voice carried effortlessly to every corner and listening ear. “Zeus give us grace and wisdom and honour in its seeking.” He replaced the hammer, then rested his hands on the arms of his chair. “Be seated, and let us hear the vexatious matter that brings us here today.”

Hello, Father.” I couldn’t stop myself.

The Grand Mullah pretended not to hear me, but I had already seen his slight grimace at the sound of the word ‘father’. After my expulsion from training I hadn’t spoken more than five words to either him or my mother. Almost half a century later I stood in front of both of them awaiting sentencing.

What are the charges?”

The Secretary of the Council stood up and began to read the charges against her daughter.

We are here today to serve complaints upon you for the matters arising out of the shooting of December 4 of 2014. I will read the complaints, leave copies with you of the charges pending against you. You will then be advised…

you are charged under Complaint Number 4374559, by Detective Lomulus the Dwarf (Lomulus! No wonder the single letter!) of the Underwing Branch who states on the 4th of December 2014, within the confines of the county of Westlands, that you unlawfully and illegally created Bloodlust by discharging your arrows negligently….

you are also charged…under complaint Number 4374667 by Detective Lomulus the Dwarf of the Underwing Branch, who states that on the 4th of December 2014, at the time of the negligent discharged, you were under the influence of illegal contraband…”

I thought she would never stop. The whole time she was reading the charges she stared right at me, her eyes boiling over with years of suppressed rage. The loathing was almost tangible, and I could tell they weren’t going to go easy on me. I was an embarrassment to my parents and I figured they would do everything in their power to distance themselves from my failures.

I was found guilty. The sentence was delivered quickly in cold unfeeling tones. After the hearing was adjourned, the Council members streamed out of the Justice Hall. My mother and father were the last to leave the room. Before anyone could stop me I ran towards them.

How does it feel?!” I yelled at them. “How does it feel to sentence your only child to a fate worse than death?”

The Justice Hall gaurds had already caught up to me and were trying to drag me off but a raised palm from my mother got them to stop. She leaned forward and stroked my chin for a few seconds. She then spat in my face.

I have no child.”

So what, you got into trouble with your mummy and daddy and got chased out of…heaven?”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the cop’s limited human understanding of supernatural events. It wasn’t that simple, but that was one way of putting it.

Missing the intended target had horrendous consequences. Humans can’t handle too many emotions, their simple brains aren’t able to obsess over something without going into overdrive and eventually self destructing. The dailies said that the coffee shop murder suicide had been as a result of witchcraft.

After my arrest I was sent to the Council, who had me stripped of my quiver and banished me to earth to take responsibility and that’s how I ended up here,” I finished lamely.

Wordlessly Maina put out his cigarette and stood up. I flinched, thinking he was ready for another bout of abuse, but he tossed the remaining cig at me and walked out of the cell. He went over to his desk and grabbed his walkie talkie and barked a few orders into the mouthpiece. He looked over at me and smiled, almost sadly.

After a short while, the metal door swung open. A short dapper man with a kind face approached my cell, clutching a Bible and prayer beads. He whispered something to the guard who nodded and then left the room.

The newcomer walked in and crouched next to me. I eyed him suspiciously as he reached into his pockets. He smiled at me kindly and pulled out a small vial of what appeared to be water. At first I didn’t understand what he was doing, and then it dawned on me. Last rites, for the dying. It was time.

Go away,” I say out loud. “I don’t need that shit.”

But…you’re going to die,” he said, not unkindly. “Let me save you.”

Nobody can save me, not even your silly God.”

He laughed. It sounded light and airy, like the tinkle of chimes. It was a familiar, comforting sound.

I looked up and couldn’t believe my eyes. For the first time ever I was at a loss for words.

You….” I sputtered.

Me, indeed.”

Come to rub it in, have you?”

No. I’m here to get you out.”

You motherfucker you set me up.”

I mean you can believe that if you want, but I’m here so we go.”

Just like that, ‘we go?’

I don’t have time to start explaining Zeituni! Get up. We have a very short window. You’re going to be executed in the next hour so I’m here to bust you out.”

Still extremely confused I did as I was told. Due to my weakened state couldn’t support myself so Vinny lifted me into his arms and carried me out of the cell.

What the fuck took you so long?!” I demanded angrily.

L came after me as well, so I went into hiding. I didn’t know, Zey. I honestly didn’t.”

I don’t know why I believed him, but I did. My mind was numb, I couldn’t believe I was out of that crappy cell. I didn’t even care where we were going, as long as I was with Vinny I was fine.



Got any coke?”


I’m a starving writer and chronic book hoarder burdened with a love so profound for Kenyan universities that I’ve been a student for the last 6 years.

I normally write non fiction and you can find my mostly feminist rants on and I’ve also been published in UP Magazine and contributed to the StoryMoja website. However my last attempt at writing fiction was back in high school, before comment sections and online trolling, so this story marks my first try in almost a decade.