An icy shrill runs down my spine. This lady, angel or not, is aware of the time loop. And that is something to consider. Tons of questions flood my mind. And a flicker of hope appears in the gloom. Maybe there is a way of escape. But I shouldn’t dwell on what is only a flicker. And I cannot trust a stranger.

“Where are you from?” I start with a harmless question. Better to understand her first.

“I’m from the sky lands. There, I watched you die that first day. A miserable death.”

I nod, remembering the faint memory of a blade piercing my heart.

“Why am I the only person aware of the time loop?” I throw another question.

“You were murdered for a flimsy issue. So I pleaded for a chance to bestow a gift on you. I gave you three hundred and sixty-five days to find out who murdered you, and stop him before he kills you. That’s the only way you can break out of the loop and live.

“This world is your reality, yours alone. It will become every other person’s reality when you solve the case. Sadly, you have wasted three hundred days plus one.”

“You call this madness a gift?” My voice deepens. “How dare you call it a gift? It’s a curse.” A once-and-for-all death is way better than a recurring death.

“No, I’m giving you another opportunity to live again.”

I jerk out of my seat. “How am I to know the rules when nobody told me?”

“Why should you let them kill you every day?”

“Because I have no choice. I’m trapped, okay? I’ve tried running away several times. But they always catch up with me, at 8:03 pm sharp. Whoever made this stupid game was partial to the murderer.”

“You are a coward,” she laughs, throwing her head backwards. “How can you be free when you don’t dare to face your enemy? Try not to run next time. Be brave enough to find out who the person is.”

A geyser of anger spews out of my gut. Why am I suddenly taking her seriously? Moving to the door, I open it. “Leave my office.”

Sighing, she stands up. “We’ll meet another time when you’ve cooled off. But remember, by the end of today, you have only three days.” She said the last phrase in a disturbing low tone.

Time flies as we endorse and exchange original documents of the transaction. My absentmindedness earns me stern scowls from my boss. Blame that angel lady for messing up with my brains. It didn’t matter though, that my bad attitude might hinder me from gaining future deals with the bank since I have tomorrow to do better. Besides, I may never see the future. Nothing mattered, after all.

I left work by three pm. Instead of going home, I stop at Sali’s Beauty Salon, a kilometre away. Sali will be waiting to hear the grand news, and failure to report back to her only adds misery to the cursed day. She had been on the edge of her seat, praying it turns out successful, the entire weekend – some three hundred days ago, if the angel lady was, by chance, right.

At the salon, Sali has both hands on a head with shampooed hair. The blaring electric generator, the humming of multiple hairdryers and the women’s chitchat makes me wish I had gone home.

“The barrister!” The apprentices and regular customers hail me. I greet them with my best smile and disappear to Sali’s office, a small corner of the shop, demarcated with plywood. I take one of the seats by the desk, glad that the noise has lessened.

Sali walks in minutes later, rubbing her palms on her hips. Her brows furrow. “Tell me, tell me! You know how I hate suspense.”

I garnered as much enthusiasm as I can and say, “We nailed it.”

Her face brightens, and she throws her arms around me. “My barrister, my boo!” Her soft laugh – another thing I’m grateful for in this ensnared world – wafts in the air, soothing the churning in my gut.  

She goes to her side of the table and brings out a bottle of wine from the drawer. “Saved it for today. Kinda knew you’d win, boo.” Pausing, she examines my face. “Ah, ah. Why aren’t you happy?”

I lower my head, lacking the energy to keep up with the pretence. But I don’t want to hurt her as I did on other days when I told her I was going to die. I mumble something about Mama needing me at home and get up.

“Is something wrong?” Her brows furrow again. “Cause Divine was here this morning; I almost thought it was you. He wanted to know if you would come and see me today. And I said yes.”


Divine’s visit is baffling, although I never get the chance to find out. We don’t meet in this world.

Without giving Sali the slightest chance to restrain me, I dash out of the salon.  

I tap on my phone screen, it’s 5:40 pm. Taking a taxi to the nearest bridge, I find an empty spot, away from the rancorous traders.  I’m staring at the passing crowd, tapping at my screen intermittently.

6:37 pm… 7:19 pm… 8:02 pm.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock …

A seething pain cut through my lungs. I am drowning. Drowning in my blood.

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