LIGHTS OUT: NIGERIAN HORROR STORY
Ladies, Gentlemen, Welcome.It’s been four years since this dance began; since the wandering predilections of our people demanded that we make a yearly offering to the gods of fright every All Hallows Eve.A troupe of talented dancers were drawn to make this sacrifice before the people, to wail and screech, whisper and weave their creative tales.And so we have danced.Danced to scare.Danced to entertain.Danced to remind you that the dark holds secrets and the day is not safe.That what our modern society now calls superstitions and folk tales are no less real than before.This year, I dance alone.The weight of the previous dancers are heavy on my back.Our peculiar incense is burning, giving strength to my limbs.Now, let us gather in this most secret of groves.Far from prying eyes, unavailable to the uninitiated.Watch me as I spin.Open your mind and listen.The monsters in you beckon and you must make them welcome lest they consume you.Ladies, Gentlemen, those who think they are brave.The Naked Convos has warned youBe prepared, it comesLights Out: Nigerian Horror Story
The darkness was oppressive.
I felt tendrils of fear like bony fingers clawing at the back of my neck. His whispering became louder still. I could barely see him in the gloom and a flash of lightning shone through the window to reveal him.
He was rocking back and forth.
My heart raced and my heart turned cold. With shaking hands, I retrieved my phone from my pocket and using the low light, I quickly stumbled my way into the kitchen where I had hung my shirt to dry off and hastily wore the damp shirt.
I heard the front door bang open and close and I ran out of the kitchen and into the living room, thinking my friend had gone outside in a fit of madness
My heart stopped.
Shuffling footsteps punctuated with a familiar cackle.
The living room brightened with another flash of lightning and I swallowed a scream.
A naked, muddied woman walked slowly towards where Rotimi sat.
The light was gone just as quickly and we were plunged into darkness.
“Fukerfuckerfuckerfucker! She screamed in laughter.
My legs lost their strength and I slid to the floor, crawling to hide.
She didn’t die!
My whole body shook as I tried to breathe silently. I heard Rotimi shriek suddenly and I gasped and quickly clasped a hand to my mouth.
Another brief illumination and my eyes took in the scene quickly.
She had her hands wrapped around his neck, grinning in feral delight. Rotimi’s eyes bulged and for a split second, as his eyes roved, as if sensing my presence, our eyes met.
Please don’t notice me, I prayed, shamefully abandoning him.
Darkness gladly descended.
I heard him choke my name.
“This lazy man has overslept again,” she grumbled, walking into his office to make sure he wasn’t in. She noticed the light was switched on in his office and he wasn’t in.
“How many times have I told him to switch the lights off after he leaves! Shebi it’s until PHCN will come and disconnect us he will know,” She grumbled again, thinking of the stern words she’d use to chastise him.
“He’s probably bent over a body in that his mortuary.”
She walked to the door opposite his office and knocked. “Oga Harry!”
Silence greeted her. She frowned, calling out again. When no reply greeted her call, she opened the door and walked in carefully, mindful of the rickety stairs that led to his work area.
The smell hit her before the sight did.
She gagged, holding a hand to her mouth as she took in the scene before her. Her eyes widened, her knees knocking.
“Excuse me,” a voice suddenly said behind and she shrieked, turning, bag at the ready. She could barely make out the shadow of the man speaking.
“What do you want?” she asked harshly, afraid to turn and have her back to him. She saw him raise his hands up.
“I just wanted to help you with your bag.”
“So you can steal it abi!?” Lola said, raising her voice. “I will scream if you don’t leave me alone.”
The figure sighed. “Ahn ahn Lola, it’s your neighbour Vincent.”
She saw him fumble with something and a phone light appeared illuminating his face. It was indeed her Calabar neighbour who woke her up with his early morning prayers that sounded more like pagan incantation than Christian supplication.
She relaxed slightly. “Oh. Vincent. You know this street is not a nice place. You scared me!”
He smiled apologetically but the phone light illuminating his face made his smile appear ghoulish, his thin face, skull-like. She shuddered.
“Anyway, don’t worry I can carry it,” she turned, and began to walk when his hand landed on her shoulder.
She stiffened. “Let me walk you home then. Not safe here. Na the same house we dey go.” he said.
She sighed. “Alright. Thank you.”
They walked on. “I’m very sorry I was rude.” she said sheepishly when he walked her to the front of her door. “But na Bodejoko.”
“What was it you were afraid of? Are you not a child of God?” he asked, a mocking smile on his face.
She frowned. “You don’t know how dangerous that place is abi? Abeg. Sha, thank you.” she turned, looking for her keys in her handbag. When she found it, she unlocked the door. He stood, watching her. Still smiling.
She huffed and turned. “Anything remain?”
His smile remained, gleaming like the edge of a knife. “Won’t you let me in?”
He was beginning to unnerve her.
She became acutely aware of her vulnerability and how easily he could push her into the house before she had a chance to scream. “Hmm. Vincent, what for na? You have a girlfriend don’t you?”
He said nothing. He just stood there, smiling. She turned to go in and lock the door but her keys fell. She bent down to pick them up and that was when she noticed.
She gasped, standing up sharply, her eyes wide in confusion.
Only two feet were connected to the cemented floor.
“Can I play with her now?” She asks, pointing at the doll.
I consider refusing; telling her I’d buy her something better. Even bribing her with her favourite food as a treat.
I had promised myself I would be that rational twenty-first century mother, involving my daughter in my decision making and never stifling her freedom with fear. I am tempted to call my mother, simply to offload this onto someone else but I know what she’d do. She’ll be here in the next hour with her band of prayer warriors, screaming and casting and binding dancing in ecstasy as they ‘drive the demons out’. I gave up religion as soon as I left my parents’ home, determined to bring up whatever child I had free from the religious mind slavery handed to us by our former colonial masters who cared nothing for us. I will not be a cliché. This is not a ‘spiritual’ problem.
I pick it up and hand it to her. “Sure”
There is no real reason why she can’t have it. I think.
I clear my throat to disguise the slight tremor.
My daughter beams. “Come play house with me and Karashika, mummy.”
I frown. “What…did you just call her?”
“Karashika” She replies. “That’s her name. That’s what she told me.”
My eyes widen. “Told you how, Faith?”
“Told me in the dream… Mummy stop you’re hurting me!”
“Save me.” A man’s voice came from the corner of the unfamiliar room.
The door slammed shut behind him.
“No…no…no…no… not again!” He murmured, trying to open the door and finding it securely locked.
Again, a light blossomed in the cloying darkness, illuminating a young man drenched in a liquid like a rat in rain. The man’s face was dark and child-like, smooth and unblemished.
“Save me o! Before I come be like this,” the man groaned and suddenly struck a match he had not noticed the man holding before.
He sniffed the air and his eyes widened in horror as he realised what the liquid soaking the man’s clothes was. The struck match caught on the material of the drenched man’s shirt. Like greedy dogs, the flames licked at the kerosene on his clothes till they got to his skin.
“Save me o!” he shouted, laughing wildly as the flames melted and charred his skin.
He shut his eyes, screaming as he threw himself against the door again and again and again until it finally gave. He ran into the passage. Without stopping, he ran down the stairs, desperate to get outside of his house. He slid the security locks on the gate out of the way and yanked the door, stepping out…
And back into the unfamiliar room.