2017 AMAB/HBF Nigerian Flash Fiction Competition | Shortlisted Story - One Hundred Tales By Ogechukwu Samuel | The Arts-Muse Fair

One Hundred Tales by Ogechukwu Samuel


I still regret using one of those biros to write stories, a hundred tales. I still regret discovering the power that flows from the mind through these biros. No, I'm not talking of writing great books and charming the reader with words, I'm talking of magic, of how true the saying "the pen is mightier than the sword" is.

2049, before father died, he showed me a box filled with twenty biros and told me "some things are better left untouched" as he looked at the box like it were Pandora's box. I nodded, of course, itching to write with the beautiful biros.

After father's death, I gave one to my childhood friend, Magnus, and we proceeded to write many stories with these biros discovering that the ink wouldn't dry up. I remembered the legend of the papyrus, how biros were made to connect with the human mind by the gods and bring great power to writers who were revered back then. The ink never finished according to the legend, and after a hundred tales with the biros, writers could use it to wrought magic as long as they have great imaginations.

I wrote a hundred stories and pointed the biro at our door, imagining Horas, the flying horse in my story and there he was. Magnus wrote his dark stories and imagined a dragon. We shared the biros among our writer friends. We wanted to take over the world from our corrupt leaders, but Magnus had other plans.

2055 was the bloody year. We chased them down, hunted them and tortured them for refusing to give up their seats. We did everything I had ever imagined doing to heartless Nigerian politicians. We plucked their eyes out, cut them limb by limb and all the while Magnus wrote more dark stories.

At the end, they were out and we were in. Writers were finally in to steer the country right. Only one thing was wrong with us—Magnus and his dragon. He was a cankerworm that burrowed right in and through. He had the dragon, so naturally he was elected the chairman of the Pengician Council, much to my chagrin. He went to work immediately, banning the reading of all kinds of books and every form of writing by ordinary citizens. I opposed him. We had always wanted a free world, I reminded him. But power corrupts, the Pengician Council voted me out.


I look up from my diary at Nma.

"Call me Somadina, master is a fool's name. Magnus calls himself that," I respond.

"Okay," she says, looking into my eyes.

Her eyes are wide with hunger for knowledge. Nma is one of the orphans I picked up after I saw their interest in literature. Her father was a stubborn writer; he made it to 89 stories before Magnus caught and burnt him. 12 years old and tiny, she reminds me of my son who was small for his age too.

"How many stories have you written?"

"Um, I don't remember."

"Make sure you count them. You should know when you've written a hundred stories."

"Okay," she mumbles and goes back to her book on the sand before the sea.

I go back to my diary...

Magnus is building an army with which he wants to rule the world. He's arrogant and with the power of the mind, he sees he can make his life fantasies play out like a movie before him. Indeed, uneasy lies the head when a maniac wears the crown.

My son had written his 99th story when Magnus came for him...

In my head a voice is screaming, a tiny voice. I'm running towards the voice, then I see him burning.


"Somadina," I humph.

"Shouldn't we go back to the others now?"

"I want you to write your hundredth tale here."

"I'm feeling somehow."

"Then you're close."

I blink back my tears and lean back in my seat, rolling my treasured pen in my hands.

"Somadina!" a voice suddenly screams and a lanky boy materializes from thin air.

He flops down. I rush to him.


"They found us," he whimpers.

I take in his bloody face, his half shut eyes and the blood still seeping from a wound in his head.


Nma sets a cup of water to his lips and helps him to it. I kneel there in confusion melting into desperation, then pain and anger.

"None survived," the boy says, fading, "they're coming...for...you."

Tears fall freely now. My adopted children… all dead. Nma watches me cry, then we watch the boy die. In my mind, my son still screams as the fire consumes him. Behind him, I see Magnus with a smirk. I see him in my mind then he appears before me.

"I always knew your foolhardy head will be here," he says, pointing his pen at me.

All around us they begin appearing, his men with the wicked tip of their pen pointing at me.

"Magnus, you fool!" I scream. "I'll kill you, Magnus!"

"I'd love to see you try."

His eyes close as he imagines the worst death for me. That's when we hear it, a dragon's roar. Magnus' eyes snap open. Nma is looking at the creature in awe, holding her pen gingerly with its cap off.

"That's not my dragon!" Magnus exclaims.

I smell his fear. They all have their pen pointed at the dragon now. A little hand grips mine, and I begin falling through a dark hole, falling, falling till I think I will never get to the ground. The darkness suddenly clears and I find myself in an abandoned library. Nma's concerned look pierces my heart, I embrace her as the rivers stream from my eyes. She saved me and she'd just written her one hundredth story. Because of me she had to imagine a dragon. We're safe, she had made sure of that, I think. Yet, I know the worst is far from over.