Something rustles behind us. I turn in time to see something lunge from the brush toward Neema. With a cry I rush to her defense, raising my spear to fight. It grabs my left wrist and cold shoots through my arm, forcing me to drop the spear. I stare, transfixed, at the thing rising before me, something burnt and black in the shape of a human swathed in dark rags, its face hardly more than a skull with bits of flesh still clinging to it. Its eyes stared nakedly without eyelids. Worst of all was its mouth, with a pair of long fangs curving from exposed upper jaw like those of the hyena. The quivering eyes gaze at me.

            Neema’s dagger buries itself in the thing’s chest. It releases me and Neema’s strong arms pull me away. I clutch my left arm, all feeling gone from it.

            The monster sags over without a sound, trembling. Neema approaches cautiously but it stands up again, pulling the dagger out. No blood stains the blade.

            The monster raises its head, and flesh now crawls along the skull, the dead tissue healing before our eyes. Skin as white as ivory forms in loose strips over the charred muscles. I can only stare in sick horror. What kind of evil spirit is this?

Who are you?

I am now Mkono ya Mbao.

Now?

Yes. Who I was before is meaningless.

And your profession?

Savior of the world.

The world needs saving?

It will very soon.

From what?

Read the Rococoa anthology and you’ll find out.

Then I’ll read it today.

Then you’ll find out today.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

That he’s human.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

That she’s human.

You know many non-humans?

We all do, I suppose. Animals aren’t humans; neither are pencils.

You know what I mean.

I know what you said.

I mean humanoid creatures; monsters, if you will.

I know a few.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My beloved Neema was.

Where is Neema now?

In the Realm of the Ancestors.

Who are your favorite writers?

That would be Steven Fujimoto Workman. He told my story in the Rococoa anthology.

Have you read the Rococoa anthology yourself?

It is in English. I don’t read English.

But this interview is in English.

I can interview in English, but not read English…unless it is an interview.

What? I don’t…

Understand? English, or Interview?

I don’t understand this interview.

Because it is in English. Try Spanish.

Do you speak Spanish?

No. I said you should try Spanish.

*sigh*

Check out Steven Workman’s story, Mkono ya Mbao, in the Rococoa anthology. Available now!

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

3 responses »

  1. Fujimoto says:

    That was fun to read. I was looking forward to this interview for obvious reasons. Writing interviews with characters is a good way to figure them out early on. It reminds me that maybe, some day, Mkono’s real name might be known.

    I’ll comment on the other interviews when I have a chance to read the rest of Rococoa. I’m out of town at the moment and won’t be seeing the book for a while.

  2. ichbinmeisterin says:

    Cool character interview!

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