The Skins

“They have stolen Mara’s skin! Run everyone, the Colour Seekers are here”, Jojo shouts. The remains of the Darks Skin scatter. A fading girl stumbles into the camp, her body slowing losing colour; she turns from yellow to red to orange till she becomes pale. Jojo gathers what he can find from the burning camp: a shirt, two arrows, and a half-eaten pawpaw fruit. He holds the cowry necklace tightly in his hand. Things have been bad since the Colour Seekers came back. All five factions: Dark Skins, Light Skins, Brown Skins, Vitiligo, and Albino were in chaos. He can’t believe a few weeks ago, he and his friends sat around the fire and told Anansi stories. Everything had changed.

The Colour Seekers have been stealing melanin and hair, leaving the victims faded till they become non-existent. When they started, Jojo’s mother, a warrior, begged the factions to forget their feud and unite to fight but none of the factions listened. The Colour Seekers grew stronger and made an attack on the Brown Skins whose big afro hair; defying gravity could make them fly. They cut their hair off and stole their skin too. The black skin is magical, in the way it heals itself after a wound but don’t tell anyone. It is the most expensive thing on the market.

After the Browns, the Colour Seekers came after the Vitiligo who had patches of black on light or brown skin. Every Vitiligo could take any animal with their eyes. The Colour Seekers stole most of their irises to be able to have that control. The Colour Seekers took their melanin skin too. Then they hit the Darks, who’s black skin captures the solar power so they can create shocks and electric. This special melanin is gathered by the Colour Seekers to generate energy. Now they were headed for the Light Skins.

Jojo had lost his father to the Colour Seekers with no idea where his mother is. He packs the items he finds into his sack and decides to go to the Light Faction even though it has been years since different factions set foot on one another’s land. Jojo decides to risk it. He must save whoever he can. He leaves camp now, a determined look in his eye, legs marching straight forward. 

A stone hits Jojo from the side. He turns around, he sees no one. He starts to walk cautiously. Another stone hits him. He starts running. Just then, several more pebbles fly in his direction. Jojo runs for cover behind a tree. Two boys step out-one flying with his hair- from the bush where the stones were being thrown from. Jojo is taken back by how much alike they look. From the looks of it, one was a Brown Skinwith a big afro and the other a Vitiligo with dreadlocks. 

“Hey, what was all that about?”, Jojo says, frowning. He finally comes out from behind the tree to face the culprits.

“I told you it’ll be fun”, the Brown said, laughing. He throws another stone at Jojo. “My name is Rema and this is Remi, my twin brother.”

“Okay, Rema, has anyone never taught you not to throw rocks at strangers?” Jojo asks.

“Not really, our parents separated us after birth and then they left with all the other adults to finish the Colour Seekers”, Rema says.

“Well, they haven’t done much have they?”, Jojo replies, staring Rema in the eye.

“Don’t you dare insult my parents” Rema shouts, shaking with anger. His brother Remi holds him back. “Take that back”, Rema shouts whiles his brother holds him tight.

“No. now get out of my way. I’m going to save people”, Jojo says matter-of-factly.

“You? You couldn’t even dodge a couple of stones”, Rema sneers.

“I would have been able to if I had seen them”, Jojo says. He rushes towards Rema and knocks him down. Remi just steps back to leave the two of them at it. Rema kicks Jojo in the thigh and Jojo strikes back with an uppercut to his jaw. The two of them continue like that for two minutes till Rema says, “I just want everything to go back to normal.”

“Me too”, Jojo admits. He gets up and helps Rema up too. “I’m going to the Light Skin’s camp. That is where the Colour Seekers are headed. I’m going to help however I can”, he continues.

“We will come along”, Rema says excitedly. 

“No. I can do it all by myself”, Jojo says sharply.

“Okay, then we have decided to go to Light Skins too. To help anyone we can. Isn’t that true brother?”, Remi nods.

“Copycat. I will save more people than both of you put together.” 

“Sure. We will see”, Rema remarks.

Jojo leaves the boys behind. In a hurry to get to the Light Skins and a bit annoyed at the interruption.

Jojo arrives at the camp of the Light Skins but it is too late. The Colour Seekers have destroyed the place. Several people have had their skin stolen. They move around slowly, changing colours, fading off. Jojo drops to his knees and lets out a loud wail.

“There he is”, Rema says. Jojo looks over to see the twins with a Light Skin girl wearing red waist beads under her kente cloth dress. “We saved one and you saved zero. So do the maths and tell me who won?”, Rema says.

“This is not a game”, the Light Skins girl says in a high-pitched voice. Rema rolls his eyes.

“Fine”, Rema says.

“We are going to look for Sanka and finish him”, she says to Jojo. “You can join us; we will not allow him to take our black.”

“So, you three are going to kill the head of the Colour Seekers? Alone?”, Jojo says laughing bitterly.

“Are you coming or not”, the girl asks flaunting her long Rasta braids. “We don’t have all day you know,” she continues.

“If I’m coming, then I must lead you, that is the only way this will work”, Jojo says, standing upright, chest out.

“No way. We won’t let a Dark Skin lead us” Rema argues.

“But you’ll let a Light Skin?” Jojo says laughing.

“Hey, I have a name bullhead. I’m Dante and we can do this without you. Let’s go twins”, Rema sticks out his tongue and they walk away, leaving Jojo behind.

“Fine, fine, I’m coming but only because you won’t survive this without me”, Jojo shouts chasing after them.

Dante rolls her eyes.

“Sure, if that makes you sleep at night”, she says as Jojo joins them.

“So, what’s the plan here?”, Jojo asks.

“We are going to look for a Black Albino”, Dante says absent-mindedly whiles looking over at her map. “This way”, she says, starting to her right at the junction they had come across.

“Why would you be looking for a Black Albino?” Jojo inquires as to if it is the most absurd thing he’s ever heard.

“Because the Colour Seekers can’t steal their skins, they don’t have melanin”, Dante says.

“But that is exactly why the tribe has gone into hiding. Because They don’t want to wait around for Sanka and his Colour Seekers to find a way of robbing their skin.”

“Still, we need one, their immune for now. You know they’re skin gives of white light in the darkest places. I think you should be able to reason that might come in handy since Sanka and his goons live in the dark.”

“How do you plan to find one then?”, Jojo questions Dante, “since you seem to know everything.”

“Hey guys”, Rema says

“I can tell you that….”.

“Guys!!!!”

“What?!”, Jojo and Dante shout breaking off what was about to be world war III.

“Look”, he says pointing at something.

A great lion had cornered a girl. It circled her, saliva drooping from the sides of its mouth. The girl was tearing off her anklet beads and throwing them at it. This only seemed to make the creature angry.

“Okay, here is the plan,” Jojo whispers, “I will go and save her whiles you wait here…”

Remi ignores this and steps out from the group and stands between the lion and the girl. He looks into its eyes and stretches out his hand. The creature looks at him, curiously, almost as if it is under a spell. It sits on its belly. Rema flies in, his hair flapping wildly. He holds the girl by the sides of her arms and carries her to where Jojo and Dante stand in shock.

“Hey, you were supposed to listen to the plan”, Jojo rebukes the twins.

“What is wrong with you? They just saved the girl. If they had waited for you to finish your plan which by the way was already sounding very weak to me, she would have been dead”, Dante says, holding the girl in her arms.

“Well done Remi”, Rema says, clapping his twin brother on the back.

“He doesn’t talk much, does he? You brother Remi”, Dante remarks.

“No, he doesn’t talk much”, Rema says, looking fondly at his brother, “We just found each other because you know, the Colour Seekers separated the tribe. We just sort of found each other”, Rema announces.

“Very touching story whiles we are here, going to kill the Almighty King of thieves. Touching indeed. In fact, why don’t I also talk about my own experience too and waste time” Jojo sneers.

“Where am I?”, the pretty girl wakes up her orange-brown hair tightly plaited into cornrows as bright as her pale skin.

“We just saved you”, Rema says. 

“Oh yes, the lion. Thank you. I had left my tribe to pick oranges around and I lost my way. I’m Aayla by the way. Nice to meet you all. Thank you for saving me.”

“Welcome, well then, you can go back now…,” Dante says.

“Go back, what do you mean go back, we need a black albino and we just happen to miraculously find one and you said she can go?” Jojo exasperates. 

“What does that mean”, Aayla asks.

“We are going to find Sanka and we need a black albino”, Rema says, rolling his eyes.

“Hey, I’ll be glad to come along. Home is boring anyway. Everyone is worrying about that Colour Seekers hunting us down, we are the last tribe left standing”, she cries.

“We will get rid of Sanka and restore all the tribes back to how they were”, Dante promises. “It’s night, I will build a camp for everyone. Tomorrow, we go on”, she continues.

Dante goes into the woods and returns with a stack of wood and leaves. She quickly builds three shelters.

“We will rotate a shift so two stands on guard while three sleep. That way we have no surprises”, Dante says.

“Those shelters look mean. Well done Dante”, Rema congratulates.

“Yeah, yeah”, Jojo brushes it off. “I will stand guard since of course; I am the strongest.”

“Whatever. I will stand with you. Aayla, you rest. Twins you too. Then in a few hours, we switch.”

Aayla and the twins go into the shelters while Jojo and Dante stand on guard. 

“This is going to be a long night”, Dante says.

“I wish all this never happened,” Jojo quietly confides, “Sanka and his Colour Seekers. We heard so much about him back on camp, before his army rose up. They told stories of his facelessness. How he had no colour. They say he sold his own skin for power. After finding out the worth of melanin skin, he started stealing others to sell.”

“When they steal skin, it’s scary because our skin is who we are. It is what tells of us. If the twins hadn’t saved me, the Colour Seeker would have taken all my skin”, Dante confesses, showing a patch of healing skin where there is no melanin, “it felt so scary, when it touched me, taking my skin. I had the strangest feeling of being lost.”

“We will take Sanka on, no matter how stupid this idea may seem. We will prove that the Skins need to unite. All of us”, Jojo stresses.

In the night Remi stands nearby listening to their conversation. He goes back into his shelter.

The next morning, the odd group set out in their search for Sanka. The twins walk with Dante whiles Jojo follows Aayla like a lost puppy.

“We should be there soon,” Dante says aloud. 

“So what? We’re just going to walk in there? There will be several Colour Seekers”, Jojo notes sarcastically.

“I think we should get into groups when we get there. So that each group will distract Colour Seekers whiles one person faces Sanka?”

“That should be me”, Jojo says hitting his chest. 

“I think it should be Dante,” Rema counters.

“What will she do? Build a contraption to kill Sanka?”, Jojo says

“Maybe”, Dante says offhandedly. 

“I don’t trust the twins, especially the quiet one. He seems so weird”, Jojo mentions to Aayla.

“I haven’t realized but I won’t be surprised the Vitiligos would have joined the Colour Seekers if they let them, I hear”, Aayla whispers back to Jojo.

All of a sudden, the sky darkens.  

“It’s the Colour Seekers, only means one thing. We are here” Jojo shouts.

Aayla’s skin lights up. The Colour Seekers come into view. They look like people yet they have no colour. They are fully clothes with masks but when the wind blows, the light from Aayla’s shows that washed out exposed colour. Like an old pair of cream coloured jeans.

“Separate and distract them”, Aayla shouts. 

The group breaks off with at least three Colour Seekers paired with each of them.

“Remember not to let them touch your skin for long”, Dante shouts as she removes a shield and dagger, she built herself. “Aim for any exposed skin. They cannot heal like we can but their clothes have a protective juju on them.”

Remi summons an eagle and rhino forward. The animals attack the Colour Seekers. The eagle rips the suit of one and the rhino spears through him. Rema is in the air, with a slingshot Dante gave to him. He shoots tiny sharp metals at the Colour Seekers and kills two immediately. He laughs and almost falls when a Colour Seeker throws an arrow at him. Dante and Jojo stand back to back.

“I’ll save you, Dante”, Jojo says.

“When will you realize you can’t do this alone? You can’t do anything alone. It is how we all got here. I know your mother begged the tribes to come together. Why don’t you think like that? You want to help everyone alone”, Dante says.

Before Jojo could respond, they are surrounded by ten Colour Seekers. Jojo lights a fire on the exposed arm of one. He lights up and burns

“Where is Aayla? The place is going dim”, Jojo says.

“Maybe they’ve captured her”, Dante says.

“Captured me?”, Aayla says.

She allows her skin to glow again. Standing beside Aayla is Sanka. The Colour Seekers have cornered the twins, Dante and Jojo.

“You think when you needed to find a black Albino, just happened to find one?” Aayla laughs. “We have been waiting for you. You four.”

“Why”, Jojo says in a betrayed voice.

“There was a prophecy you see, from the gods through the oracle my love, Sanka has captured. He said four children would bring down the empire. When we sighted you four close by, we just knew it was you. We were ready.”

“Why”, Rema says.

“I thought I just explained that, this is the stupid one Sanka”, Aayla points at Rema.

“No, I mean why would you turn your back on your own people?”

“My own people? Do you know why the Albinos went into hiding even though we had no melanin for the Colour Seekers to steal?”

“Because you were afraid, they will find a way to start stealing more than our colours? Maybe our spirits.”

“Of course not. It is because like the four of you, the other black tribes started hunting us down to save themselves. To use us as a sort of immunity. They betrayed us.”

“I didn’t know that”, Rema admits.

“It still doesn’t give you a right to hurt us. We are your people. Sanka has no colour. He will use you when he can”, Remi says quietly. Dante and Jojo stare at him in shock

“So, you can talk”, Aayla says.

“How can you fall in love with a man who has no face and skin? He has nothing to be loyal to. He will betray you. we saved you Aayla”, Dante pleads.

“That’s enough”, Sanka says in a still chilling voice, “kill them.” His face is covered with a black mask. No part of him is showing. His head is bald, not even a single piece of hair showing.

“Gladly”, Aayla says.

“All of them”, Sanka replies talking to his Colour Seekers.

“What?”, Aayla says, stammering on the word, “my loveeee…loooveee?”, she cries out.

The Colour Seekers circle around the five of them.

Remi grabs the hand of his brother. Rema grabs Dante’s hand who grabs Jojo’s who in turn grabs Aayla. The five of them close their eyes and channel their inner powers. A beautiful black spirit arises from their circle, from all their powers. It has flowing kinky black hair that reaches its waist, with different kinds of skin. It has a dark skin chest, a light skin face, vitiligo legs, brown skin hands, and the remaining was albino.  It makes the Colour Seekers run. The spirit chases after them and passes through them, with her sword. The Colour Seekers fade away. 

Sanka disappears from where he stood, leaving nothing behind.

“How could you sell us out?”, Rema demands from Aayla.

“More importantly where is Sanka?” Dante wonders.

“I thought I could do this alone but what we create, all of us was beautiful. We need to find the tribe and tell them. It is the only way to defeat Sanka. He is gone now but he will find more Colour Seekers and return but now we know how to beat him”, Jojo says.

“And Aayla, we forgive you”, Dante says. She moves forward to hug her and the whole group closes around the two of them.

“Now come one, we have a miracle to preach”, Jojo says, “together”.

Published by Yvery Anthony

Yvery Rosemary Anthony is what earthlings call me. I breathe Ghana. Everything is between me and the secrets behind my work.

2 thoughts on “The Skins

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