I got a room in a ramshackle hotel that night in Ife. Room 101C. It looked better than I expected for the four thousand Naira I paid for it. “Budget cuts. Change has come” my editor had said, as if we didn’t all know. My travel allowance was almost half of what it used to be and money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Journalism isn’t the same anymore. Might be time for a career change.
I had gone to Ife to investigate a rumor about a high member of the Obafemi Awolowo University Administration. He had allegedly raped a girl and I was here to get the scoop. Turned out the streets whispered words without roots and my investigation hit a dead end.
After a disappointing day in the town, I needed to lift my spirits, so I asked the hotel receptionist for the best hangout spot in town. I was directed to an open space with plastic chairs and tables where men were served by women who looked like men with wigs wearing tight shirts and short wrappers. After a few beers and cigarettes I decided to hit the red light district and take a lady back with me to warm my bed. A few minutes of asking around from my brothers in beer and I was directed to the closest Ashewo stop. It took me two glances to pick her out. It wasn’t particularly because of any physical feature — though her behind was a killer as Davido would have put it — but there was just something that called to me.
After writhing in ecstasy a few times, it was time to catch some sleep. I had a pleasant snooze until I heard an ear shattering shriek. It was almost like a banshee had come to life right there in my room. As I sat up to shield my ears, I realised everywhere was silent. The sound must have been all in my head. At that moment, I realised the naked body of the female I just had sex with was no longer beside me. I glanced around the room and saw her silhouette by the window. She was mumbling words in a language I had never heard before. I tried to call out to her but no sounds came out. A feeling of dread overcame me.
As an atheist, I had always chosen to believe all spirituality was a hoax. But at that moment the fear I felt watching juju movies as a child came upon me anew a hundred times over. I tried to run but my legs wouldn’t move. I tried to scream but no words escaped my mouth. I was helpless.
As if finally noticing me after my futile struggle, she walked up to me. Her eyes were black as night with no hint of white in them, her breasts lay sagging on her chest and her vagina had a glow about it. As she got to the edge of the bed she lay flat on her back and started to move strangely. Her stomach came alive with something itching to get out. I could make out a hand, a leg and then a face at different point in the undulating mesh her stomach was becoming. I was helpless, unable to move I began to pray in my mind to a god – any god – to save me from this vile being before me. The being gave birth right there to what I can only describe as a golem with only a mouth on its otherwise blank face.
It came up to me on the bed and started to claw at my abdomen with sharp claws on its hands. I felt pain that day, a pain I cannot describe, and it got even worse as it pierced a hole in me and ripped me a wide one that ran across my stomach. Air filled my insides and my entrails spilled out. Unable to scream and unable to move I could not act like I felt. Terrified, I wished for death but it never came. The golem ate my organs one by one with the singular orifice on its face.
After a full meal of me it plucked out my heart and with the last of my consciousness i saw a ruthless smile appear across its face as it prepared to eat the last of me.
I woke up drenched in heat and sweat. I looked around and saw no one. No being, no golem, no female. No one. I ran as fast as my legs could carry out of the room that now read “Room 105” and sprinted past the reception before a guard chased me down and asked what was wrong.
After I was calm the receptionist asked what happened. I asked if he had seen my female companion and he told me I came alone. I told him i returned with a harlot after going into the town and he was surprised. “ Oga you don dey your room since you check in o” came the reply. I could not believe it. Could it all have been a dream. I checked for scars and saw none. I refused to return to the room and left Ife at first light.
Since that day, I have seen the tag “101C” everywhere. A random T-shirt, in a book, a paper and even once on TV. Whenever it happens, I feel the phantom scar throb and the image of the golem reappears in my mind. I still say a few prayers to a god I don’t believe in, just in case I’m still trapped in Room 101C.