Thursday, April 27, 2017


Chapter 22

Days later, Clarice had another nightmare, this time it was more vivid.

She was running along the deck of a boat. Or rather limping, she was dragging her right leg. Her face was covered with bruises; blood was flowing from her left temple. The menace was gaining on her; she could feel his cold fury; his fists... his shouts.  Next thing she knew she was sinking deep in water...

‘Clarice!’ Bo cried, swiftly grabbing her arms. ‘Clarice, wake up!’
Clarice could feel sheer terror, the sinking realisation she was going to die...
‘Clarice, Clarice!’
Swiftly, Clarice was pulled out of the cold darkness and found herself enveloped in warmth, in Bo’s arms, his soothing voice in her ear. Sobbing, she clung to him; describing the dream to him. ‘I don’t know if it’s some sort of premonition... but it scares me. Honey, it scares me!’
Bo held her until she stopped crying, and then left to go downstairs to get her some warm milk. She was more composed when he came back; taking the tall glass from him. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘No, No...’ he stroked her hair. She looked pale, her eyes red from weeping. ‘You need some aspirin?’
‘No, the milk’s ok. Thanks baby.’ Clarice hated painkillers, always avoided them if she could help it. Bo watched her as she drank. ‘Do you feel better now?’
She managed a small smile. ‘You always make me feel better.’ Raising her hand, she touched his cheek. ‘Thank you for putting up with all this... with me.’
‘Hey...what’s this talk, “putting up with me”? What am I here for, princess?’
‘What do you think the dream means, Bo? Because I can’t imagine why. It’s different from the ones I have of you...’
‘The ones you have of me?’ Bo asked, immediately alert. ‘What do you mean?’
Clarice blushed. ‘While I was still at the hospital, I dreamt I was in a candle lit room and I was making love with you. At least, I realised it was you after I realised the tattoo I saw was the same one you have here.’ Her hand moved down to touch it. ‘That was the night I knew I was in love with you. I think the dreams were a sign we’ll be together. But the nightmares... do you think they are some sort of premonition?’
Bo slipped his arm round her, pulling her close. Clarice’s memories were coming back through dreams; the good and the bad. But she still had a long way to go and he was going to help her take a step further by what he had in store for her. ‘Dreams don’t always mean anything, princess.’
‘Why would I have a nightmare like that if it doesn’t mean anything? It was almost as if... as if it actually happened to me in the past but I have no memory of it. Crazy, isn’t it? I’ve been in law enforcement for years and here I am terrified over a bad dream.’
 Bo pressed his lips against her forehead, inwardly cursing Lawrence again. Nicholas hadn’t witnessed his mother being beaten up, but from what she described, he could now visualise what happened to her that terrible night. ‘Try not to put too much thought over a nightmare, princess.’ He urged. ‘That’s just what it was, a nightmare.’
Clarice sighed, nestling closer to him. ‘I’m really trying not to. But it seemed far too real not to think about.’
‘Then let me give you something else to think about.’ Releasing her, Bo pulled something out of the nightstand drawer, giving it to her. Clarice’s listless face lit up in seconds at the brochure. ‘Cancun?’
‘I thought the best place to unwind and lose all that stress is two weeks in sunny Mexico.’ Bo was pleased he’d managed to divert her attention from the nightmare. ‘We’ll stop at Chichén Itza first, do some exploring.’
‘Oh... I’ve heard about that place, that’s an ancient Mayan city isn’t it?’ Clarice asked eagerly. ‘I’ve never been to Mexico, what fun it’s going to be! When do we leave?’
‘Next weekend, so mark your calendar.’ Bo kissed her, hugging her hard.
‘Thank you so much for this, honey.’ Clarice said as he turned off the light, drawing her back against him.
‘You’re welcome, princess.’ Bo replied softly, pressing a kiss on the back of her neck.
Bo put up with some good natured ribbing from Roman and Abe about his upcoming trip, as he went over work matters with them. Roman knew more than Abe the reason why Bo picked Cancun; it held a special significance to Clarice... when she was still Carly. Bo told him about Clarice’s nightmare, which had stirred his anger; wondering what on earth would bring any man to almost murder his own wife.
‘Bo, that’s terrible.’ Abe said, shaking his head, after hearing about it as well.  ‘I mean, we know she was found terribly injured but to now picture what went down that night... just terrible.’
Bo’s face wore a grim scowl. ‘Larry threw her overboard after beating her. And I’m starting to wonder if Nicky was telling the truth about not knowing what he did to her that night.’
Roman shook his head. ‘You might believe that Bo, but somehow I don’t think so. Nicky was a spoilt, arrogant little brat years ago; but you saw how he reacted when we told him the whole story and showed him Shane’s report. ‘He’s an Alamain but he’s not his father. He wants her to remember who she is as much as we do.’
‘Have you even given a thought about what would happen when she finally remembers?’ Abe asked.
‘What do you mean?’
Abe shrugged. ‘Her reaction and how she’s going to take it. It might be something she’ll not be able to handle.’
Roman nodded in agreement. ‘Abe’s  right. I think you should prepare yourself for that, Bo. It’s not going to be easy for her, the very moment she realises she’s not the person she’s been living as for several years.
‘She’ll be able to handle it, with my help.’ Bo said forcibly. ‘And Frankie’s... and  Marlena’s, once she and John get back. Clarice can handle anything.’
 But a nagging fear suddenly stabbed him. Once Clarice remembers, will she still love him?  
Clarice went shopping on her spare time, buying what she needed for the trip. Swimsuits, suntan oil, shorts, tops, sensible footwear and a large sun hat. She couldn’t remember the last time she took time off for a vacation, the few times she was able to were usually on her own. This trip was really what she needed, and Bo coming along added to her euphoria. To her relief, the nightmare didn’t resurface and she tried not to think negative thoughts and did her best to ignore the nagging sense of disconnection she still felt. The day before they left, she came back to the house with yet another shopping bag. ‘Wow...and what have you got there this time?’ Bo teased her, tossing aside the newspaper he was reading. From the way she blushed and thrust the bag behind her, he had a pretty good idea. ‘Come on...let’s see it.’
‘No.’ she said defiantly.
‘Princess, I’m bigger and stronger and unless you want me to use excessive force...’ Bo advanced on her. Squealing with mock fear, she fled and Bo chased her round the couch, getting the bag from her.
‘No, No... Don’t open it yet!’ she pleaded but it was too late. In seconds, Bo was examining a short sheer black lace nightgown that definitely appealed to his fantasises.
‘It was supposed to be a surprise and now you’ve ruined it!’ Clarice grumbled, trying not to smile at the appreciative glint in Bo’s eye she couldn’t help but notice.
‘Well, since the cat’s out of the bag, what say you model it for me right now?’ Bo grinned predatorily, holding it up.
Clarice snatched it back from him and pounced, forcing him back on the couch and tickling him until he laughed helplessly under her. ‘That’s not funny...’ he gasped, shaking with laughter as he tried to fend her off.
‘Serves you right, you killjoy!’ Clarice retorted, refused to back off. Somehow, Bo managed to roll over, pining her down on the couch. ‘Now I’m going to give you a taste of your own medicine, lady!’
‘No, no... Stop!’ Clarice pleaded. Grinning, Bo leaned down to kiss her deeply and her arms went round his neck as she kissed him back. Pulling away for air, Bo ran his finger over that pretty face staring up at him, vivid green eyes warm and loving. Suppose she remembers and her feelings change? Suppose she reacts with anger and walks out of his life again?
‘Something wrong?’ Clarice asked, touching his cheek.
‘Nothing... it’s just... you know I love you more than anything right?’
‘Of course I do.’
‘And you know I would do anything to protect you...anything?’
Clarice’s face puckered as she frowned. ‘I know that too honey, why are you so serious all of a sudden?’
‘Because I don’t want anything to ever change between us, Clarice. I’m living a whole new chapter of my life and I don’t ever want to be without you. You have no idea, just how important you are to me. If I could spell out your name across the sky I would, just to show how much I love you, Clarice Parker.’
Clarice could see the intensity in Bo’s piercing brown eyes. ‘I do know. I love you too, I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you, Bo Brady. And I’ll always, always be with you... for the rest of my life.’ She hugged him, pressing her cheek against his. Bo held her tightly, praying his fears will not come to pass.
 Professor Hank Moore hugged Bo tightly, unable to express his feelings at  being reunited with him after so many years. ‘Good to see you again, Bo. So good to see you.’ He said gruffly. Soledad shook hands with him, her pretty face still as shy as he remembered. Bo got in touch with him after managing to track his email address. After narrating what happened, he had  informed him of  their arrival and Hank had replied, insisting they stayed at their guest bungalow.
Clarice was introduced to the Moores and immediately found herself warming to them. ‘Thank you for having us.’ She said.
‘Hey, any friend of Bo’s is a friend of mine. You’re here to unwind so make sure you do, Clarice.’
Clarice laughed. ‘I will try.’
As soon as they were alone, Hank said, ‘You honestly think this will work?’
‘I’m positive it will. If not, I don’t know what else to do.’
‘It will.’ Soledad said quietly. ‘People say they can feel the benevolent spirits around Chichén Itza. And as you and Carlina are still spiritual partners after all this time, the power that bound you both together, will bring back her memory.’
The next morning, Bo led Clarice across the Grand Ball Court. Clarice was speechless with admiration at the ancient pre-Columbian city built by the Mayan people. ‘This place is unbelievable. Imagine the people who lived here thousands of years ago, Bo! Everywhere’s so breathtaking!’ She gasped at the pyramid looming up them. ‘What’s this called?’
‘It’s the Temple of Kukulcan. But it’s mostly known as El Castillo. Years and years ago, it served as a temple to the Mayan god Kukulkan.’
‘El Castillo...’ Clarice murmured, awed. ‘And it’s so well preserved too. Can we climb up?’
‘Hell no. Hank said no one’s allowed up there- not since a woman had a nasty accident some years ago.’
‘Oh... how terrible.’ Clarice cringed at the gruesome image as she stared up the steep narrow steps. The pyramid was magnificent. So was the Ball Court. If she could shut her eyes, she could imagine the Maya people gathering together here to pay homage to their deity.
She walked ahead of Bo, eyes scanning the picturesque surroundings, a sudden stab of déjà vu hitting her. The place seemed so familiar...  she felt so in tune with the place... like it was a part of her, a huge part of her.
‘Clarice, are you okay?’ Bo asked from behind, watching her carefully.
Clarice said nothing, she kept staring round. Something was stirring in her mind... like the opening scene of a movie. She shut her eyes.

She could see herself standing in the very same Ball Court. She was younger, her hair longer. She was running towards someone... she was laughing. Clarice forced herself to focus... to see who she was running to.
Someone was running to her from the opposite direction. It was Bo... younger but it was Bo, catching her and twirling her in his arms!

She opened her eyes, heart thumping and head aching as she turned to Bo. ‘I’ve been here before.’ She said slowly. ‘You and I... we’ve been here before.’
Bo said nothing, waiting for her to say more. Another scene came into Clarice’s mind...

Let’s do this right, so we won’t have any regrets.’ Bo knelt before her, her hand clasped in his, a big smile on his handsome face. ‘I love you. I know it took me an awful long time to admit that. But now that I have, I don’t want to waste another day or another hour... because I love you princess.’ His voice was thick with emotion. Take care of you... now and for the rest of our lives. ‘
‘I want that too.’ She was saying, her voice tearful.
‘So, will you marry me?’ he asked her.
She knelt down to face him,  holding his face. ‘Yes.’ She whispered, her lips touching his...

Opening her eyes, Clarice turned to face him. Her face was now pale, her forehead sweaty. ‘I know you.’ She whispered. ‘My God... I know you from long ago.’ A name suddenly leapt from the deep recesses of her mind as though eager to jump out after being locked away for so long. ‘Sailor...’

At last, Bo thought as he hurried to take her into his arms. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017


When the above title is mentioned, the first thing most people would probably say, ‘Oh, gosh... I watched that movie a long time ago!’
Uh huh... so did I as a child. It was one of the ‘holiday films’ aired in Nigerian television when I was a child, the sort of films shown only on public holidays and many children were probably as fascinated by it as my siblings and I were.
Released in 1984, The Neverending Story is about Bastian, who finds himself drawn to a magical land called Fantasia; the main setting of a mysterious old book he stole from a bookshop. The central character in the book is a young warrior called Atreyu who goes on a quest to find a cure for the ruler of Fantasia, who is dying. Who can forget his flying creature friend Falkor, the werewolf like monster who almost killed him and the enormous rock eater? I have to admit, we were more focused on Atreyu and the people and creatures he encountered through the film, rather than his actual quest. Don’t judge us, we were just kids.
Years later, it struck me that such a fantasy epic must have been adapted from a book and I was right. It was written by the late German novelist, Michael Ende and published in 1979. However, I also discovered that Ende was not pleased with the film adaptation of his classic book; saying it did not capture the spirit of the book. Having read the book and seeing the film again through a woman’s eyes instead of a child’s... I realised why.
The Neverending Story is a book that’s really detailed and doesn’t contain humour, like J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, so it’s not for those who aren’t into the fantasy/epic genre. If you are, it’s a page turner.
Plot... Bastian Balthazar Bux, (yeah that’s the boy’s full name) is neglected by his father who is mourning the sudden death of Bastian’s mother. Bastian is very fond of reading and has a vivid imagination, but has no friends and is constantly picked on by bullies. Escaping them one morning on his way to school, he runs into an old bookshop. He meets the owner, a Mr Carl Conrad Coreander and comes upon a book the old man was reading.

It was bound in copper-colored silk that shimmered when he moved it about. Leafing through the pages, he saw the book was printed in two colors. There seemed to be no pictures, but there were large, beautiful capital letters at the beginning of the chapters. Examining the binding more closely, he discovered two snakes on it, one light and one dark. They were biting each other’s tail, so forming an oval. And inside the oval, in strangely intricate letters, he saw the title:The Neverending Story. 

Being a passionate book buff and more than fascinated by the book’s title, Bastian stole the book while Mr Coreander was on the phone. Skipping classes, he sits down to read the book in the school’s attic. And there, the story unfolds....the story within this story.
 We (and Bastian) find out that Fantasia (actually called Fantastica in the book) is in trouble because a dark and faceless entity  known as ‘The Nothing’ is destroying the land, ruled by the Child-Like Empress; who is the oldest being in the land but eternally has the appearance of a 10 year old girl...she is ageless. But ‘The Nothing’ has made her very ill, she is dying. 
A young warrior/hunter known as Atreyu is sent on a quest to find a cure. He’s given the Empress’ medallion- AURYN- which will protect him as long as he wears it but is ordered never to use its power.

 Michael Ende made good use of folklore and literary expressions to help make his fantasy story logical, something Lewis Caroll (Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass) and J.K Rowling (The Harry Potter books) also did. And this served to show how Bastian himself got into Fantastica himself. According to Uyulala, the oracle Atreyu encounters after several chapters, the cure for the Empress is a new name; she lived by names, not Time itself. And the name must be provided by a child from the Outer World.
Gmork, the werewolf like monster the power behind ‘The Nothing’ sent to kill Atreyu before he can complete his mission said to him;
 ‘What are you creatures of Fantastica? Dreams. Poetic Inventions, characters in a neverending story. Do you think you are real? Well, yes, here in your world you are; If humans believe Fantastica doesn’t exist, they won’t get the idea of visiting your country.’

What’s the message behind ‘The Neverending Story’? The message of the first half of the book is the power of the human imagination and power of names. How magical creatures and lands are alive because humans who conjure them up vividly in their minds, passing stories from generation to generation. Uyulala said to Atreyu,
‘In every age it’s they who gave
The Child Like Empress Life,
For wondrous new names have the power to save.
But now for many a many a day
No human has visited Fantastica.
For they no longer know the way.
They have forgotten how read we are,
They don’t believe in us anymore.
Oh, if only a child of man would come,
Oh, then at last the thing would be done.

And according to the Empress, ‘Only the right name gives beings and things their reality,’ and ‘If the hero comes to us, new life can be born.
And Bastian, having followed Atreyu in his journey and putting himself in Atreyu’s shoes was literally absorbed by the book, finding himself in Fantastica after calling out the Empress’s new name.  According to the Empress when Atreyu felt he had failed in his mission;
He took part in everything you did and he has come all that way with you...
You entered into his image and took it with you, and he followed you, because he saw himself through your eyes. And now too, he can hear every word we are saying. He knows we are talking about him, he knows we have set our hope in him and are expecting him.
A story and its characters and settings exists forever, as long as it stays on our memory for a very long time and we are a part of it because it stays in our hearts as well; thus a 'Neverending story'. 
The other half of the book deals with the Fulfilment of Wishes. Bastian saved Fantastica by giving the Empress a new name but falls prey to pride, ambition, arrogance and bad advice from a sorceress Xayide, after the Empress gave him AURYN, with the message at the back- Do What You Wish. 
 Bastian misunderstood her actual meaning and his wishes caused negative happenings in Fantastica and causing him to lose his memories as a human, how to go back to his world as well as his humility. Only when he realised what the message actually meant, he was able to put things right, with Atreyu and Falkor’s help. The second message of The Neverending Story? My interpretation... how one can lose his way after wishing for the wrong thing and make a wrong brings to mind this saying gain the whole world but lose your own soul.
Watch the movie, but the movie only covered half of the novel; hence The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter that was released in 1990 but was loosely based on it as a new story line was added, so was not a good adaptation. As for The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia released in 1994, it  was a complete travesty because it was completely revamped, using only some the characters from the book. Michael Ende complained of the original movie when it first came out but at least that was better than the two sequels.
The Neverending Story is a classic and definitely a must read.