The big man huffed and puffed, the smoke from his cigar forming perfect ringlets in the air. The atmosphere in the room was hot and sultry. His big red eyes moved from one man to another. It was only some months to the elections and he was putting so much into the campaign to paint a good picture of what the future held for Bethlehem. He had already his daughter on vacation to Egypt to avoid any scandals for the nosy newsmen who revered themselves as honest members of the press.

One of the three men coughed , his blood boiled like water for boiling yam. His heart had increased four times the sight and threatened to bulge out of his chest with fury. He sealed his wrath and reached for a glass of water.

” King Herod, no kola? You didn’t even offer us chair” the lean black one dressed in white jalaba enquired suprisingly.

” A big man like me? Is that how you people do in Bethlehem?” This one had a stomach so protruded that you would swear it held triplets, for some reason he was sweating profusely in the air conditioned room.

But the king wasn’t moved. He was King and not answerable to subjects and foreigners alike. He adjusted his royal robes in all majesty and raised his staff to signify his total authority. For an instant, the third one who hadn’t uttered a word turned up his nose in disgust.

” Nothing Onyeoma na China won’t see in Shanghai” the fat one muttered to himself.

The king ignored them, cleared his throat and suddenly his deep baritone voice boomed.

” Who are you and what do you say brings you here?”

The three men exchanged quizzed looks because there had been one introduction too many.

The black one who was highly irritable was tempted to reach for his dagger but his fat counter part gave him a mild pinch asking wordlessly if he wanted to spill royal blood in a foreign city.

“I am Mallam Usman, I come from the land of the Arabs, I came to worship and present a gift and  to one who is to be born and crowned King of Kings”

” I am Emeka, Onye oma na China, importer , exporter, we are astrologists who have seen the star in the East which shines so bright, we have come to worship the owner and give him gifts.

” I am Babatunde Onikan, my purpose is same as theirs” the one who spoke few words introduced himself.

” We three kings of orient are bearing gifts to traverse afar,the star is westward leading and it has brought us here, born a King in Bethlehem town, one whose throne is forever.”

They uttered the dreaded words again. He had heard enough, his insides tangled within him and the breakfast of yam and sauce felt like acrid liquid scraping the walls of his stomach. He felt like one who has ingested sniper as his system neared a total collapse likened to the after feeling left by sudden power outage. He was King! No one could take his place!!! Not an infant born of a woman! Not a child suckling at his mother’s breasts. He was fuming and raging on the inside but maintained a calm demeanor outwardly, he feared to betray his darkest innermost emotions lest these men may never return for him to rip the baby limb from limb.

By Jove, he would crush the baby’s skull on the kneading stone used to grind pepper. He would skin it alive and dorn his trophy on the walls of the palace which bore the pain and artifacts of the human lives he quenched on his ride as the Monarch of Bethlehem.

The men coughed again  to get his attention.

He smiled for the first time that afternoon.

“Welcome to Bethlehem, we hope you have a lovely stay. You bear good tidings and I hope to get the chance to worship this special baby boy when you find him. Send word to me that I will come and present my own gifts.”

The men affirmed and rose to take their leave.

After they had gone, Herod called the Commander of his Army

“In the next twenty four hours, should these men not return, declare a state of Emergency in Bethlehem, no horses or carts leave, no pregnant women should be left breathing, slay all new born baby boys, there will be mass genocide in Bethlehem. The walls will be splattered with blood and the streets shall echo with the screams of infants at near death.”

Throway, the army Commander bowed in obedience.

The streets of Bethlehem would cry out very soon and the tears of mothers  would form tiny rivulets in the sand.

 Somewhere , the king of kings lay in his manger, cradled in white and surrounded by loving parents. The magi followed the bright star to a tiny stable a home of cattle and sheep, cradled in the manger where donkeys ate straw from.

” Fine boy”, they looked at the son of God in amazement as his blue eyes shone in the pale light and turned to Mary.

” This is not a place for a King. Are all the hospitals shut down?”

” We came to fulfil the prophecy concerning his birth. By this time of the year, the hospitals and cottages are packed full with little personnel to attend to the teeming number of patients and I my water already broke” Mary answered.

They stared in awe at one whose star light was blinding and unpacked the gifts they brought for him.

” I have come with gold, symbolizing your kingship in heaven and Earth” the first man said.

The second man advanced wielding a ornamental jar from which perfumed incense arose.

” This is frankicense, you are the high Chief Priest for ages to come”

The last man cleared his throat.

” I bring you myrrh which is a symbol of eternal life”

  They had gone their way after being warned by an angel of the Lord in a dream. King Herod found out they tricked him and ordered a mass genocide reducing the population of beautiful baby boys. He huffed , puffed, raised his hand and his army general drew his sword. Wails of mothers and babies tore into the atmosphere that cold night. They said till today, if you pinned your ears to the ground, you would hear the ghostly voices of mothers wailing for their slain baby boys.

The world would never remain the same again.

Queen Deraa, a student in a reputable Nigerian University. She is an avid writer and content creator.

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