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The Lord’s Surrogate


Noon, March, 2022

I stood on a cliff, gazing over the waters. Men were everywhere on this mountain. Some were
rolling on the scalding rocks, some holding large stones above their heads, some lying chest-
flat and some lying face-up; others were leant over, their hands latching onto their knees,
heads shaking fervently. But they were all doing one thing in common: praying. Praying to a
God I made for them.

In this part of the world, humans loved the divine. If these people don’t see signs and
wonders, they won’t believe.
Gaze into their eyes, into those dark globes that hate to see light.
Show them you know their worries—their fears, their dread, their horrors and doubts. The
world fears whoever is greater than them. Especially if you can appear like God—God who
can pull some tricks.

I turned slowly from the edge of the cliff as a gust of wind struck my face. It felt
refreshing. Now, I turned in time to see one of my followers losing strength. He was one of
those carrying large rocks above their heads. The echo of prayers wrapped around me like
glacial wind; and as I trudged towards the rock-lifting prayer warriors, the sun began to calm,
receding deep into the clouds.

The weak man was shaking on his knees, his thin hands quivering so that the rock he
carried rocked back and forth and sideways, threatening a fall. He saw me coming and a
smile crept into his wrinkled face. Sweat trickled down his chin and lodged in the hollow of
his neck and washed down his chest. His eyes were deep and yellow, his ribs prominent
under his ragged singlet. “Spiritual Father,” he called, grinning. “I’m enduring the cross.
Once I’ve drained all my sweat, the Heavens will be happy with me.” He tried to stabilise the
trembling rock above him.

I smiled at him and slowly crouched before him. Our eyes locked for a couple of
seconds, then he looked away. “I don’t dare match gazes with you, Spiritual Father,” he said,
laughing, so that his hands trembled again.

I reached for his face, tilting up his chin. He grinned, his facial muscles contracting
with warmth. “I don’t deserve this, Father.”

“We all don’t deserve the grace of the Eternal Heaven, Brother Jawa,” I told him, and
he struggled to nod. “Isn’t that too heavy?”

“It is,” he said. “But compared to the suffering of the Lamb, this is nothing.”

“Are you suffering right now, Brother?”

His tiny eyes lit up. “Suffering? How can I call this suffering?” He laughed. “I’m only
bearing my cross.”

I gazed into his eyes, although he kept averting it. What he had was fear, like many
others here. Fear of a prominent past.

Why should he fear? Why should he be distressed? This sinner who failed to provide
for his family and left his children to starve. This shameless father who returned to his family
and was disappointed to see them all happy, disappointed to see them playing hide and seek
in their small new abode. This devil who beat his wife to death because she wouldn’t accept
him back. Now he returned to his senses, labouring for the forgiveness of the Eternal Heaven.

But the god I showed to these ones wouldn’t forgive easily like the God of the
Pentecostals. In this Creed, you reap what you sow.
“Do you have an idea why you have to bear your cross, Brother Jawa?”
He laughed again. “The Lamb suffered unjustly. But I have to pay for my own sins.”
“Brother Jawa,” I called with a lingering smile, “I’m relieved that you understand this.”
“It’s all thanks to you, Spiritual Father. You who showed me the way to life. Now, I
can no longer live wretchedly. I’ll be rich in the life of the Eternal Heaven which has
brightened over my soul.” He suddenly sniffed a sob, and his hands trembled above him.
“Me, a sinner, wretched of the earth.”

I cupped his face, and he opened his eyes, brows knitted in humility. “Brother Jawa,” I
called, “your faith will place you at the right hand of the Lamb.”

He tightened his eyes shut, and tears streamed down his chin as he cried. “I believe. I
believe!”

“When all the sweat is gone from you, you will feel the peace of the Eternal Heaven.
And all your fears will be gone.”

“I believe. I believe!”

“You killed your wife and broke your children. You took away from them the joy of
having a father, the joy of having a mother. You went back to them and reopened their
wounds and you left like nothing had happened.” His face sank at the reminder, but I
continued: “You should live forever in misery, Brother Jawa. But the Eternal Heaven loves
your soul. Now instead of you perishing in hell for your sins, you must, instead, remember
your transgressions and thank the Lamb for giving you a chance in a beautiful eternity.”

“I believe, Father. I believe.”

“So, work hard. Show the Eternal Heaven you deserve the grace.”

“I will give up my life for the Lamb. I will cleanse my sins with my sweat.”

I nodded frantically, assuring him I’m pleased with his resolve and commitment; and
with my fingers balled, I roared: “The Eternal Heaven is faithful and merciful! All hail Him!”
Everybody halted their praying exercise at once to chorus: “All hail the Lamb! All hail
the Eternal Heaven!”
“We are the wretched of the Earth, but he has given us hope of Life!”
“All hail the Lamb! All hail the Eternal Heaven!”
“Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
“Spiritual Father, we will do as he says!”

I turned clockwise to scan the faces of them all. They were mostly men. Because men
sinned the most. There were few women, also, and a sprinkle of children. Sinful children.
Their faces were wild when they brought them here, but when they heard the word of truth
and the promises of the Eternal Heaven, they gave up their darkness and flung their arms up,
surrendering themselves to the plans of the Lamb.
And among them is a girl—a lady I found by myself. A woman for whom I have great
plans.

Night, August, 2017

Rain pattered down on my windscreen, wiper blade wiping fervently. I relaxed in the
backseat, my eyes glued to the side window, gazing at the world drenched in rain. People ran,
hunched against the rain, hands over their heads like umbrellas. And they disappeared from
my sight. They were vain men, humans who rejected the bountiful grace of the Eternal
Heaven. One who really appreciated His grace should bear the rainfall, arms spread out, face
lifted up, lips spread in a smile, heart and body receiving the blessings that are released
through the windows of heaven.

The car veered along Toll 4 Bridge, deeper into the rainy darkness. Ahead, a figure
blended into view, wobbling in our direction. I signalled to my driver to slow down.
Whoever it was had to be a sinner, I thought. The weight of their sins must be so heavy
for them to bear. They were resting against the bridge’s handrail for support, moving each leg
as slowly as would one with many stab wounds.

When the car came close, thunder struck and lightning flashed, so that the person
flinched. The lightning revealed a child. She was cowering under the rain. The thunder strike
should have thrown her over the bridge into the ditch below, but the lightning found her,
casting a cloak of light over her head.

That was the first signal that she had been chosen by the Eternal Heaven. The light laid
bare her weakness, her fears, her wild-yet-innocent face. My driver stopped the car at once. I didn’t tell him to, so I was impressed. “Deacon Tamino,” I called him. “Flesh and blood haven’t shown you this. The Eternal Heaven dwells in you and has illuminated your heart to know the time of visitation. You’re blessed of all men, brother.”

He gazed at me for long, jaws slacked, eyes glimmering with tears. “I’m grateful for
your words of favour, Spiritual Father. I’m grateful to the Eternal Heaven. I will be blessed.”
I nodded and smiled at him. And as the side window rolled down, my gaze was intent
on the girl outside. She didn’t move. She didn’t speak. She only stayed there, leaning against the rails,
barefooted. Deacon Tamino alighted, hurried to the booth, and fetched a couple of umbrellas,
hoisting one over me as I stepped out of the car. He hoisted the second one over the little girl,
while I shone a flashlight in her face.

That the girl still waited here meant that the Eternal Heaven was really willing to save
her. And it was refreshing that she wasn’t fighting his will. I gazed into her eyes—two tiny
balls stuffed deep within two slant hollows. Her neck was slender, marked by throbbing veins
that accentuated her helplessness. Her thin hands communicated with themselves, fingers
pulling at themselves and twiddling her soiled gown.

I narrowed my eyes as I caught a fading patch of blood on the end of her cream gown.
And, at that moment, I realised that the soot-like stains on her were of blood.
Girl, perhaps you aren’t as innocent as I thought.
She gazed at me, as though she discovered that I could see through her, and she
wiggled her lower jaw. I thought that was brazen, but it raised my brows and warmed my
heart.

I crouched before her, Deacon Tamino lowering the umbrella over me. And I reached
slowly for her little hands. She shook her head in reflex and started breathing fast, her breath
coming out in pumps. “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Eternal Heaven.”

She groaned and shivered, tears dribbling down her jaw. The rain couldn’t wash them
away since the umbrella was over her. The Eternal Heaven liked to see undiluted tears. Such
tears are directly from the inside, typical of the willingness to surrender.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden. And I will give you rest.”

She glanced at me as I mentioned that.

I understood. She needed rest. She needed a home. But that wasn’t all.
She still needed to confess her sins. “Daughter, the Eternal Heaven has seen
your fears and has instructed me to protect you.
No matter what you must have done, we will protect you.”
Her brows were still furrowed, and she was still sobbing.
But she didn’t resist as I led her to the back seat, so she could sit right beside me.

Deacon Tamino turned the ignition, and as he drove away, I began the conversation,
watching the girl through the left corners of my eyes. “What did you do to him?”
The girl flinched. But she must have remembered that I promised to protect her, for she
started to speak. “How did you know him?” she asked.

Not that I knew him. I was only intelligent to draw conclusions based on the visible.
“How long has he been touching you?” I replied instead, clenching my jaw.

She sniffed and looked to her side, probably outside the window. “I didn’t want to do it.
I didn’t want to hurt him.”
Her voice was shaky, but I thought she was mature enough to force her fears out by
looking out the window. “He started touching me after Mummy died last year. He kept saying
I looked like her and I should act like her by sleeping beside him on his bed. He kept
disturbing me. It felt like many worms, a lot of worms crawling all over me.”

“But today you got tired of him, right?”

“I didn’t want to do it, sir.” She was trying hard to stifle the sob. Indeed, children grow
faster when faced with darkness.

She continued: “I knew he was going to come to my room again so I kept a knife in my
room. And when he climbed my bed, I stabbed him.”

I smiled at that instant, my lips curling a sneer. “How many times did you stab him?”
She broke down again. “I did not count. I just wanted him to not touch me again.”
“What is your name,” I asked, reaching for her hands which were tucked between her
thighs.

She looked up at me and didn’t retract her gaze. I realised at once that it was because
my hand was almost touching her legs, but I didn’t withdraw them. She needed to grow to
depend on me thenceforth. She would need to see me as her saviour, her only redeemer from
destruction and the darkness of this world.

I matched her gaze and let off a smile. She parted her lips slowly and whispered,
“Tinuola.”

There was something affective about the way she pronounced her name that spurred me
to tighten my grip on her hands. I withdrew my hand and reached it behind her, pulling her
close to me, so that her head rested against my shoulder.
And I patted her, slowly, and warmly… Till she slept off. Strangely. Like she had
nothing to fear.


Night, September, 2017

Tinuola sat across from me on the armchair in my study, her hands again clasped
between her thighs. Her eyes trailed across the lines of text in the Eternal Heaven Children’s
Manual. She’d stop to focus on the drawings and the stylish texts.

Just as men didn’t notice you when you remain normal, so it was with texts written in
common fonts. The world loved something unconventional, something weird, something that
sparked intrigue. Children who read the Children Manual read it for the images and
calligraphic texts, but they ended up entranced by the appeal. Just like Tinuola soon would.

She looked bright, dressed in a fitted cream gown (she said it was her best colour). Her
hair was styled in a double bun—something I did myself, so that she smiled for the first time
when I finished. She wanted to ask me questions, I knew, but she seemed comfortable with
her silence. However, I still told her about how I used to style hair in a unisex salon when I
was a youth, and how I used to make a lot of money from it until the Eternal Heaven
brightened over me and anointed me as His representative on earth.

“How do you hear from the Eternal Heaven?” Tinuola asked, leaning forward, her
hands clasped over the table.

I gazed into her eyes. They were brighter than they were the other night. And they were
full of the grace of the Lamb. “The Eternal Heaven speaks to me directly, like we’re doing
now. I first heard his voice the day I took my time styling an old man’s hair.”

I paused and smiled. “The man’s eyes were on me, his face bright, exuding warmth so
much I smiled back at him in the mirror. And when I finished, he shook my hands, whispered
something indistinct, then left.

“I was soon headed home when I saw a clear vision. The old man was smiling at me.
Carrying a lamb. Calling to me in an echo: ‘Come up here, son. Come up here.’”

Tinuola’s eyes were intent on me. I could see the glimmer of admiration in them. So, I
continued: “That day, Tinuola, I fainted on the spot. And as it could be with dreams, I
appeared in the Eternal Heaven, before the old man. Only that he wasn’t old any longer.
Instead, he looked young and lovely. Cheerful and welcoming. Like a lamb.

“He showed me through a magic screen how he came to the world many years ago and
advised this evil world to stop being evil. He showed me how everybody he advised beat him
and almost killed him, not knowing he was divine. Tinuola, he showed me many things this
world will never understand.”

My voice softened. “He chose me because he wanted me to make this world better.”

Tinuola was crying, but she didn’t seem to notice it. Her eyes were on me, her ears
attentive, her brows creased. I reached out my hand and wiped her tears. She sniffed and
muttered, “I’m crying… I didn’t know.”

I cupped her face and looked into her eyes, smiling. “You are precious, Tinuola. I didn’t
plan to travel across the bridge the night I rescued you. But the Eternal Heaven…” I lifted my
face, crossed my hands over my chest, and gave a bow. “The Eternal Heaven told me he had
a daughter to rescue from the hands of Satan.”

Tinuola’s eyes suddenly bore into me, partly like one ready to hear a shocking fact, and
partly like a time bomb waiting to explode. Her lips seemed to curl a smirk. Perhaps I didn’t
see that well. It looked like a smile after all.
“It was rare for the Lamb to send me to a woman. But you, His grace found you. I
found you.”

“Blessed be the Eternal Heaven,” Tinuola muttered. Her facial muscles contracted. It
was too abrupt, the cry that followed, too unreal coming from a fourteen-year old: “Blessed
be the Lamb!”

“We will be blessed,” I responded, swallowing a lump. I held her hands together and
whispered: “Tinuola, when you hear his voice through my mouth, harden not your heart. The
same Lamb who saved you can throw you back to the world if you disregard his word.”

She eased down her eyes. “I believe, Father. I will obey. I’ll serve you with my life.”

I frowned. She could have pledged allegiance to the Lamb, instead of me. But it was all
good, how this was turning out. It was good if she could trust me after someone had abused
her. I reach for her face and tilt her chin up. “You’re precious, Tinuola. Very precious.”
And she smiled a smile that wilted away. Like it wasn’t supposed to have appeared.

Noon, March, 2022

Brother Jawa was still sweating out his sins, the rock firmly suspended over him. And the
others were jumping, rolling around, leaning over, swinging their heads fervently as they
prayed for the Lamb’s Shower of Mercy which refines the souls of men.

Tinuola stood on the edge of the cliff, gazing upon the seas, a frown etched in her face.
Her cream gown had a wavy hem and the wind kept blowing it.

Last week, she turned nineteen. And she had spoken in the secret language of the
Lamb, as I had taught her to—she only needed to speak whatever came to her lips. And her
tongue had rolled them out, so that the congregation threw their hands up, screaming with
drunken reverence for the Lamb’s visitation—the visitation which declared her the Spiritual
Mother. My holy bride.

I walked up to her and reached a hand behind her, patting her shoulder. She turned to
face me, smiling. “Spiritual Father,” she said, in the most submissive tone I ever heard.
“What are you thinking about?”

She smiled again, easing to her knees, her delicate hands latching onto mine. I gazed
down on her and our eyes locked, the distracted focus of the praying sinners gnawing at us.
“You asked if I’d like to serve the Lamb with you, Father.” She nodded. “I’m ready.
Back then, when you saved me, I’d promised to serve you with my life…” She smiled a
cryptic smile that looked innocent, then she parted her lips, saying slowly, “You own me,
Father. Use me.”

The wind blew against my face. And I turned away to look across the seas. I was at the
centre of the world, and humanity was trooping to my side. Because I’ve brought myself
here, where humanity can adore me, nothing escaping my outspread arms.

A smile crept to my face and I turned back to face Tinuola.
But…

I saw nothing except the edge of the cliff where she was kneeling just a minute ago. I
turned around to scan for her.

Her cologne struck my nostrils, like soft wind. I frowned. Before I could call her name,
a weight pushed hard against my chest, the forceful discharge of a woman’s pent-up
resentments—the fury I didn’t realise until my legs kicked up the air, my hands clawing the
glacial wind as I crashed down the cliff, scowling fear and shock at Tinuola who harmed me.
Me, the surrogate of God.

As I crashed into the waters, a rush of life overwhelmed me, assuring me of justice.
Justice, since I already built an army of guards. Puppets who were loyal.

About the Author
Elisha Oluyemi recently received a B.A degree in English Language. He co-edited the
PROFWIC Crime Fiction Anthology, Vol 1. He came 1st runner-up at the 2nd 2021 Shuzia
Short Story Contest. His works are on Nymphs, Mystery Tribune, Brittle Paper, Terror
House, Neurological, Kalahari Review, Erato Magazine
, and elsewhere.

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6 thoughts on “Fiction: The Lord’s Surrogate by Elisha Oluyemi

  1. An enthralling read. It gave me the thrill of religious fanatics who are downright submissive to their leaders. The voice of the characters were so real and relatable. And the betrayal at the end gave it a memorable conclusion. The writer really put in a lot of hardwork to make this story immersive and relatable. Kudos to him.

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