THE CHRONICLES OF PHILLIP JOE Part 1
Written by Damilola Akintobi
He dropped the magazine and relaxed his head on the headrest of the chair he was sitting on. The scent of the leather upholstery mixed with thoughts of the apocalypse in his mind; burning flesh, Satan’s Kingdom of fire and brimstone. It was not long before his heavy eyelids clasped shut and the hallucinations started.
He felt his hair being pulled taut, there was no one, no hands, only a rope tying him securely to the chair. He struggled for breath and wriggled helplessly, his body went limp as he felt an invisible force choke the breath from his lungs; and then his eyes opened. The room swirled slowly around him as he rose from the chair he’d fallen asleep in, his mind flashed back to the words of the man in the pulpit: “the end is near”.
Several blinks helped sready his vision a little, he thought he heard voices as he pulled his sweat drenched singlet off and changed into a fresh one. The voices became more urgent, but he was not sure if they were from the world he’d awakened from or the one he had awakened to. With unsure steps, he traced the source of the sound to the living room. There was a reporter on the television he switched off before retiring to the bedroom minutes earlier. He moved towards the remote by the key on the centre table like a zombie and turned up the volume to listen properly to the rather short woman on the news.
The report was quite off and a little fascinating.
The reporter said, “It’s been reported that some weird and strange looking creatures invaded Dine restaurant and attacked people present in the restaurant. These unusual creatures were said to wear white garments with a printed red Cross at the backs of the garments. But it’s quite unfortunate that the cameras couldn’t capture any of these beings. According to people who saw them go in that we, these creatures looked like ghosts; they weren’t walking, they floated. Twelve people are dead and quite a number are badly wounded. The dead bodies would be taken to Phillip Joe’s morgue and the…… ”
He didn’t listen to the rest of the news before picking his car keys and driving down to the morgue.
The man was by name Phillip Joe.
Phillip drove to the morgue at full speed. He stopped by the gate when he didn’t find any ambulance.
His morgue was not so large. He visited the morgue with his father when he was much younger. That was how he developed an interest in morgue keeping before taking it as a profession.
Phillip’s father, Robert Joe was a very wealthy man in his life time. He ran a lot of businesses and part of it was being a mortician, but he based on animal feeds production. He made a lot of money, properties and fame in this line of business, but only a very few knew that he had a mortuary.
Robert claimed quite a number of children but never had a wife. Phillip was his last child born of a nun (his favorite lover) and he was his favourite child.
When Phillip took over the morgue after the death of his father, he relieved all his father’s staff of their duties. The mortuary however became more popular in Phillip days than his father’s.
Anytime Robert took care of the bodies, he talked to them and reacted as if he heard their responses. Phillip would ask him why he did talk to dead bodies and Robert answered that they were not totally dead since their bodies were still visible.
“Not until they are charred to ashes, that’s when we can refer to them as dead. As long as we can still see their bodies, feel them and even touch them, then they are just half-dead and still capable of response.” Robert would say.
“But how do you hear them dad? I can’t hear anything,” asked Phillip.
Robert responded, “If you listen to your heart, you will hear them speak.”
Phillip, by instinct, gazed at the corpse’ hollow eyes as if he expected it to say the words.
When Robert died, part of his will was handing over the morgue to Phillip because he was his father’s favourite child and that was the profession Robert had a morbid love for.
His eldest brothers and sisters weren’t caught unawares with the development considering the kind of person Phillip was.
His sister, Joyce sarcastically said, “I am sure he will manage that goddamn property well.”
Phillip was of weird nature. He kept to himself always; quiet and never laughed. Throughout his University days, he was called a Type-A sadist by majority of his peers but some medical students around him concluded he had a mental retention.
Phillip rarely changed clothes and shoes except for the reason that they were torn and tattered. He scarcely involved himself in discussion with anyone. He thought himself to be psychic and tried to make himself a soothsayer. There was a day he went to the supermarket to get some items. As he was picking them, he caught sight of a lady and the usual thing came over him again. He really stared at her to the extent that he left the lady no choice but to feel so uncomfortable and she decided to walk away. Immediately, Phillip followed her and on sighting him behind her, she ran. Then, Phillip took charge after her shouting on top of his voice telling her to retrace her steps.
Phillip was a fervent worshiper at “The Holiest of Souls spiritual church”. The church known to be attended only by depressed people was located outskirt the city due North. It had a very large building, rotund in shape with flowers-laced environment.
The church had different doctrines from a normal day to day church. Things preached were mainly how the members should seclude themselves from other people who are referred to as heathens.
“O ye worshipers of The Holiest of Souls, seclude yourselves! Seclude yourselves from sinners. Do not let them pollute you. Anyone who doesn’t worship here is a sinner and such person will go to hell. I know you don’t desire to be in the furnace my brethren.
Hear little from the world and never say a word. The end of time is near and Jesus will come now.
Prepare! Prepare so you don’t perish in the lake of fire. If you decide to leave this church, you will die helplessly and rot in hell endlessly.
Brethren, do not compare yourself with others. Not your father, mother, brothers and sisters because you are born of the holiest of souls and you must not be stained.
Do not have friends because they will surely lead you to hell. Leave the world for the world. Leave your family and face the kingdom. Heaven is not a place for multitudes and ordinary men but men from this church.
Let me tell you the truth, it is a sin to be married. God did not tell us to get married but he left marriage as an alternative for sinners of the body. Do not partake in it because you are already opening a door to your doom. Having a family will surely distract your purpose in life and you will end up in hell. Well, if you are married before finding a path to light in us, it is never too late, you can abandon them. Why? It’s for the greater good. Do not have any form with your wife because if you do, you have sinned to the souls.
The end time is near and you must be vigilant. Do not allow anything take you away. The faith must be strong and unbreakable. Marriage will surely take you away because you would not think about any other thing again but how to make a good home. This would make you forget your role as Jehovah’s Slaves and once you forget, your hometown is hell.
Anyone who isn’t part of us is against God for we are for God and God is one. At the end of the world, God will send His prophet Jesus to take all of us in this church, including the dead slaves in His chariot to heaven.
But beware, so you don’t backslide before the day. I tell you, He will come on the seventh year, seventh month, seventh week, seventh day, seventh hour, seventh minute and seventh second.”
Those were the words of the “Pulpit man” as they called the preacher to the congregation.
Phillip listened to the sermons on repeat every Sunday. The church did not take pleasure in singing simply because they felt it attracted demons and they prayed silently by mumbling inaudible words.
The church also had a stereotyped prayer written on the wall of the altar.
“O Jehovah, thanks for the earth and nature (each person would turn to the other and point at the person), forgive him his sins and that is if he sinned at all. For we know that we are not part of the world. We lay down standards for others that feel our ways are beneficial enough to follow.
Bless your slaves, O Jehovah. Turn our hearts against our family, friends, neighbors and strangers so that we would get to the kingdom.
Build our houses in heaven and furnish them for us to standards because we deprive ourselves of every standard on earth.
Deliver us from all daughters of Eve and blindfold us to all Jezebels. Soak our souls into the Royal oil. Vandalize any building meant for us in hell. Kill anyone who wants to divert our attention from you. Allow us not to speak with sinners.
Do not make us rich for we will surely lose the kingdom of heaven if we’re. Let us die a minute before we commit a sin in Jehovah’s authorities, Amen!”
After saying the prayer, they packed their spirit books (their spirit books served as their Bible) and magazines and left without saying a word to one another except any of them who wanted to see the Pulpit man.
Phillip took a walk round the morgue but found nothing. After a while, he heard the siren of an ambulance approaching. He ran to the gate, led them to the building, opened the door and entered with them. He registered the corpses and led them to the cold room.
The room was dark because the lights were switched off. He tried to trace the switch with his fingers and eventually got it. When the light was on, he found the room totally different. The corpses were exposed! It was custom to cover them from head to toe with a white garment, but he rather found the garments stained with red blood that made various patterns. Most of the corpses had their mouths open and their hands clasped together on their groins. He was really astonished and became lost in thoughts.
“What happened? I never left them this way” Phillip asked himself silently. The carriage man who brought the ambulance standing behind him and ignorant of the reason behind Phillip’s sudden change tapped him, “what is it Mr Joe? Are you alright?”
Phillip replied, “You don’t have to ask me if I am alright or not. I think what you should do now is bring those corpses here.”
“I know but you haven’t given us any directives.”
Phillip closed the door to the horror room and directed the Carriage man to the next room. The room was quite empty, elongated and cold.
The carriage man, his assistant, together with Phillip brought in the corpses and arranged them accordingly.
When they left, he went to the new room, put on his gloves and took care of the bodies. He noticed something which was peculiar to the new corpses; they all had a deep cut in form of a cross sign on their chests. He scrutinized them and remembered the news he heard like an hour back. He tried hard to figure out what could have transpired since that never happened before.
It was almost morning before he finished with the bodies, then, he decided to leave. As he walked passed the rooms, his mind flashed back to the bizarre situation he had seen earlier in the first room he opened. He rushed there by instinct, gently opened the door but to his utmost surprise, there was nothing. Everything was perfect like he left them; no more strange sight.
For the first time, he was afraid! He felt a sharp pain at the back of his throat. He prayed that it should all be a dream but it wasn’t, just a denied reality.
He however concluded that perhaps that was the reason his father kept talking to dead bodies when he was alive. Not knowing what to make of the situation, he shut the door and quickly left the morgue.
The encounter was meant to end in his memory as soon as he left, but that was the beginning of Phillip Joe’s journey onto the path of doom.
The Chronicles of Phillip Joe continues…