I awoke with a start.
I shuddered a little in the slight cold and wrapped my bed spread around myself to stifle it. All before me was dark and I had to wait for a little while before my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Why was I awake? I ran a tired hand over my face and looked around me at my small dingy room.
I had just moved into the house and this was my first night. Up until yesterday, I had lived in Ondo state, but like so many others before me, I decided to move to Lagos in search of a better life.
It had been a weird decision, and many people had tried to talk me out of the move. Hell– how many 27 year old girls do you know moved out of the comfort of their parents’ house to find a space for themselves in the hustle capital of Nigeria?
And here I was, sitting in my one room apartment, unsure if the job I’d be starting in a week’s time would be what I was looking for. There were many more tech companies in Lagos than in Ondo and I believed I could hack it with the best of them. I leaned against the wall which my mattress was pushed up against and let the coolness of it soothe my hot skin. There was no electricity and everywhere was eerily silent, I guess that’s because I was the only one in the entire compound at the moment.
The house was a new one that was essentially a ‘face-me-I-face-you’ block of flats. There was a communal kitchen at the end of the hall and all I had was my room and the bathroom. It wasn’t a rundown place or anything, more like a hostel of sorts in a gated compound with a security guard in place. I just happened to be the first one to pay and move in. I hadn’t even furnished the place yet and all I had was my bed, a small dresser, a fridge and a handful of clothes. This must be what it’s like to be a small town girl in a big city. I was on the ground floor and I hated it. I know the stories, I’d been warned that being a girl, I needed to do my utmost to get an apartment on a higher floor as being on a lower floor put me at more risk of being assaulted. Lagos is a dangerous place, I was told. You have to ‘shine your eye’.
I was really thirsty, so I got up to walk to the fridge and get a bottle of water. The room was weirdly lit, this was thanks to the moon, from the looks of it, we had a full moon in the sky tonight. I grabbed the bottle of water and turned back towards my bed.
I dropped my bottle.
My jaw was slack.
My heart stopped for a minute.
Outside my window stood the most revolting man I had ever seen. I wasn’t sure if I could even call what was standing there a human being. He stood there, eyes dead like black holes, a nose that was virtually nonexistent and a slack mouth with drool hanging precariously from his palate. His lips were chapped and cracked and there were pustules all over his face. The pustules moved ominously and there was pus running down the sides of his face. He stared into my room staring at me, making an unintelligible noise.
I screamed harder.
What was going on? Who was this? Was he here to assault me? Why was his face like that? Was he even alive? Was I about to die?
I was breathing heavily now as the dull realization that no one was going to be able to hear me or they weren’t going to answer me at this time…what time was it anyway? 3am? The witching hour? Why wasn’t the security man here? I had met him earlier this evening, he seemed like a nice guy.
What if he was dead?
The monstrosity hadn’t moved and instead just stood there, staring at me, making zombie-like sounds from my window. I hadn’t bought drapes for my window, so there wasn’t even any way for me to draw the curtains.
I started to cry. Large drops of tears ran down my face as my heart beat faster and faster. His face was scary and grotesque, but weirdly, I couldn’t look away from it. I realized that his eyes weren’t as dead as I had first figured, they held something in them. Something I couldn’t quite understand. His missing nose was oddly shaped and there was still pieces of skin that hung dangerously from the edge of the black hole that was his nose. His chapped lips seemed alive and moving and it was then I noticed that the small spaces in between the chaps were writhing. What was there? Bugs? Something more sinister. The pustules were disgusting to say the least, but I still couldn’t look away. I was still crying silently. I fell to my knees and tore my eyes away from the creature. I crawled to my bed, hoping that somehow, the thing was blind and was unable to see me. I kept an eye on it as I crawled to my bed until it was out of view.
I picked up my phone and placed a call to my close friend, Matthew. I could still hear the creature outside making its unintelligible noise. The phone rang thrice before an extremely groggy Matthew picked up the phone
“Teni, are you okay?” he said. I cried harder at this point, his voice sounded so safe and secure, but I felt anything but.
“Hello? Hello? Teni are you there?”
“Hey Matt” I finally managed
“You missed me? Or are you just too scared to go to bed?” his voice sounded almost mischievous. What was I supposed to say to him? Would he even believe me? Could I even believe myself? Was there a creature at my window right now or was I dreaming? Maybe I should open the window and touch him, perhaps then I could make sure that I wasn’t going crazy.
“Matt…I think there’s a pervert at my window”
“What?” Matthew asked sharply. I tried to explain what was going on through my blubber and fear.
“Listen, you need to call the police, or someone who stays in Lagos who can get them. I will try and make a few calls of my own, don’t worry, it’s going to be…” I didn’t hear anything anymore. I stared at my phone in disbelief as the ‘Battery dead’ sign came up and I watched helplessly as my phone shut down. I sat huddled against the wall, unable to get the image of the creature out of my mind. I was sobbing now, but there were no tears left to cry. I wanted to make it to the door, but I was scared, if I came out, I’d be in the creature’s line of sight. Maybe then he’d be motivated to go after me, maybe that would be when it would make its move.
And so I sat all night with the voice of the creature in my ear, unable to sleep, unable to move, unable to do anything. I don’t know when the sound stopped, I don’t know anything, I just knew I woke up with the sunlight streaming through the windows and no sound could be heard. I trembled as I crawled from bed and looked out my window. Sunlight greeted me with its friendly warmth and the promise of a new day.
I later learned that the house was built on an old burial ground. Had the creature been a ghost? I didn’t wait to find out, I pulled out all my savings and moved out. Luckily I found a new house, it was also like a hostel, but luckily I found a top floor room with the landlord willing to take a year’s worth of rent rather than the normal two year option that most Lagos landlords insist on. I moved into my new apartment which was also chock full of people. I met my neighbors, they were nice people and there was even a woman across from me with a young baby. I lay down to spend my first night in the new place and I slept peacefully.
I jerked awake. I grabbed my phone which was fully charged and checked the time, 3:08am. I sighed and lay back down to sleep back.
That was when I heard it.
Heavy breathing, rattling groan and unintelligible speech. I drew the drapes from my window in one quick motion to reveal the grotesque creature from my nightmares staring right back at me. My entire body shook.
“It’s…it’s…no…it….no, it can’t be” I mumbled to myself. I whipped out my phone and placed a call to Matthew — the colour drained from my face as I heard the cool female voice say “The number you’ve called does not exist”. Then the creature make a weird sound. What was it? It did it again.
It was a chuckle.
A chill ran down my spine. It knew I was helpless. Then it lifted its hand and started pawing at my net softly, chuckling all the while.
The chuckles got louder and started to sound like a laugh. It was the most horrible sound. It sounded like something out of a comic whereby an oaf laughed stupidly, but in the context of this situation, it sounded more sinister.
I started to scream. I screamed and screamed but no one came.
The creature laughed and laughed.
And then laughed some more.