“…oya let’s go and find her fast fast. I have a feeling that something bad will happen this night” Lola said in the room after regaining her composure. Janet just stood transfixed to a spot, shivering from fear…fear of whatever it was that made the room door to creak open by itself. There was no way she could go out there. “L…o..la Lola I can’t go out there, aren’t you scared? I’d rather stay here than risk…” she voiced out, but Lola had already found her slippers and was heading for the door. “Fine. You be chicken, I don know that one tey tey. Stay here all you want, me I’m going to look for her.” Still, she hesitated few inches away from the door. Was she scared too beyond the bravado? Janet wondered and prayed that she would change her mind about going out into the unknown. Okay, it is known. After all, this is the hostel which they’ve been occupying since 200L resumption, but under the cloak of the night known becomes unknown as evil awakens and does it’s rounds. She tried to dissuade Lola one more time. “babe…let’s just stay here, maybe she…she…she just went somewhere to read and will soon come back.” It was a lame attempt, and she knew it. Lola laughed drily before saying ” read kor read ni. Why are you talking as if you weren’t in this same room the first night Uju disappeared like this.Ovie told us but didn’t take her seriously. Oga na fear go kill you. O ma pa e, you hear? Me I’m not scared.I’m going to find her, my parents didn’t send me to Unibloom to live with evil. I cannot come and die.” She walked back to her bed to grab her wrapper and torch light. After tying the wrapper round her chest, she tucked the torchlight under her armpit and approached the door with caution, placing her fingers on the knob, she opened it further and waited…nothing happened. She switched on the torch and glanced down the hall on her left hand side, and then the right, still nothing. There was no sign of Uju. She closed the door behind her and walked briskly towards the hall gate which was beside room ‘A’. The hall was long and narrow, with a paved floor, and footwear strewn in front of most of the doors; it contained thirteen rooms on both sides facing each other, which made a total of twenty-six from room ‘A-Z’. As she got to room ‘I’ she noticed something strange. .
As soon as Lola left the room in search of Uju, Janet realised that she felt alone more than ever. “Maybe I should have summoned courage to follow Lola o” she thought aloud. What if Uju came for her now? Her fear heightened, and she quickly climbed back to her bed and with shaky hands searched her cross-body bag hanging on one edge of the bed for her Bible which she rarely read apart from Sundays. People fail to understand that religious symbols are not what wards of evil. Sleeping with a bible under your pillow does not stop one from dying of spiritual attacks at night, chanting mantras have little effects on demons, for evil feeds on fear. It can perceive it from a distance, trace the source and snuff the life out of it’s victim. Courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in the midst of it, and to overcome evil, the light in you must shine bright, exceedingly bright, for darkness does not comprehend light. This wasn’t the first time Uju would disappear at night; it had been happening since the first night she moved into the room as a transfer student, which was three weeks ago. No one knew which university she had transferred from, because she seldom spoke to anyone. When she did speak, it was in a voice that sent cold sweat down one’s back. She was slim tall and graceful, light skinned with heart-shaped face, large eyes, which seemed like they could see into your soul when fixed on you. She had pointed nose and thin lips which was always red like someone who feeds on blood. To be honest, Uju was beautiful, not as beautiful as Pamela who never smiled, but beautiful in a mysterious way. Guys had already started loitering at the hostel gate in the evenings in a bid to woo her, and surprisingly she entertained them. If only they knew what happens in this room at night. **********
THREE WEEKS AGO. . .
All the girls were asleep except Ovie. She lay on her bed which could hardly contain her fat body, contemplating which of the girls’ Ghana-must-go of provisions to steal from, when suddenly, she noticed Uju rising sit up on her bed like someone being controlled. She quickly shut her eyes to slits and watched the weird girl. Was she a night food thief too? She smiled to herself. Aha! At last she would have an accomplice to put the blame on for all the missing edibles in the room. Soon, Ovie’s smile froze on her face and turned to a frown as Uju climbed down the bed in her night gown, and walked towards the room door. There was something quite eerie in the way she opened it and stepped out into the hall barefooted, leaving the door ajar… “Maybe she wants to meet with a guy outside.” She knew girls who did such to avoid being seen by their mates, but without slippers? She wondered…and became curious to know what her strange roommate was up to. “Let me go and see which guy Uju wants to see this night, later she will be forming for us here.” She sat up and checked the time on her tablet, it was 12:00 A.M. She paused… It was already very late, and she wondered which guy in his right senses would trek all the way from the male hostel on the other side of campus to meet with a girl by this time? Surely, the main gate would have been locked since 9:30 p.m as always by the security guards. She stood up from the bed and put on her sweater and looked round the room to see if any other person was awake…no one. Her eyes travelled to the window facing the river at back of the hostel and she looked through it to notice a figure like that of Uju…or was it her imagination?
A strong wind started howling outside, sending chills all over her body even with the sweater. Jesus…she was getting more scared. . . She pulled out her slippers from beneath the bed and slipped her feet into them before hurrying out through the open door. Each footstep she took in the quiet hall echoed all around the walls, making her glance over her shoulders repeatedly. On getting closer to the hall gate beside room ‘A’, she noticed that it was also left ajar. She paused again… did Uju know she was following her? She took a deep breath and walked outside.
There was a full moon in the night sky, and it illuminated the hostel surroundings. She noticed that the main gate was also wide open, how strange. Where had the security guards gone to? There was really nothing special about the hostel; a deep well which served it’s purpose when NEPA struck and water ceased flowing from taps was beside the fence on the right side, then there was the security post with two small rooms, and on the left side of the fence were lines for spreading clothes. The ground was interlocked, after much plea to the school authorities on the danger faced when it rains; how oslippery and unattractive the muddy esrth became. As she walked past the gate into the street, the stench emanating from the heap of waste by the hostel gate greeted her nostrils, and she wondered why the refuse truck was always late in picking up their waste. She quickened her steps and took a short route leading to the river side behind the hostel. Thank God for the moon; it aided her vision as she walked down the narrow, slippery path. The slap slap slap sounds her slippers was making became louder due to the sudden stillness in the atmosphere. There was overgrown grass flanking her sides on both sides, some thistles sticking to her wooly sweater. Students usually avoided the river like a plague, because of all the people who have gone in for a swim and disappeared; just like that they were never seen again, and the few who were seen had drowned before their body came afloat. Still, Ovie felt led to keep going towards the river. She got to a spot and halted, she hadn’t been imagining it; Uju was really standing at the river bank bare-footed in her night gown. The wind began howling more fiercely now, and the waist lenght weave-on she fixed swayed wildly, she fell to her knees and bowed; as if in reverence to one who is royal… then something, or someone…yes someone with the trunk of a woman and the tail of a fish and four horns on her head emerged from the river. She had a kind of beauty that surely was out of this world…her hair was long up to where her hips would have been if she were to be human, and there was a bright glittery light all around her. . . This is weird…super weird. What was Uju doing out here by the river at this ungodly hour? Ovie remembered her grandma always saying witches fly to meetings by this time. Is Uju a witch? She crouched low in the grass to avoid being caught, and watched the scene unfolding before her eyes. Uju stood up from her kneeling position and walked towards the creature with the bright light whose arms was stretched out towards her. . . “Come my daughter, it is time for you to dine with your own…come…come!” To Ovie’s utter horror, Uju began to wade into the river, going deeper with each step as if under a spell… Her lips were moving in some sort of chant and when the water got to her chin, she vanished under water with the strange creature. . . Ovie didn’t wait to find out what would happen next, what if the woman with the long tail came after her? Run..yes, she would run… she had totally freaked out now, as she ran as fast as her fat legs could carry her back to the hostel. On getting to the room, she collapsed on her bed, breathing heavily… what was all that about? Was Uju a… but how? Was that why she always seemed so strange? The other girls were still asleep, oblivious to the happenings around them. A million thoughts were running through her mind and eventually, her eyes have in to the advances of sleep amidst her fears. **** In the morning, Ovie was the first to woke up and as she lay on her bed, the events of the night came rushing back to her. She resolved to warn the others about Uju without further ado. As she stood up to wake Abigail her bunk mate, she let out a piercing scream… There she was…on her bed, asleep… Uju was sleeping soundly like she never left the room. Had Ovie been dreaming? Was it just a nightmare?? Or was Uju really possessed by a marine spirit? Is it possible for people to be possessed without their own knowledge? Her scream was enough to wake everyone in the hostel, and some students started banging on their room door to find out if all was well. “Come, Ovie you dey craze? You nor know sey pesin dey sleep?” Lola thundered her eyes red and puffy from sleep. Pamela just sat on her bed staring at Ovie, then she burst into a long, mocking laughter. Janet jumped down from her bed and said “Holy Mary mother of God” doing the sign of the cross, before asking what was wrong. Abigail asked “Ovie love, what’s wrong? Why the scream?” Ovie was too shocked to speak, she had never witnessed anything like this in her 18 years on earth. Uju sat up on her bed gracefully and said to Ovie in a calm almost melodious voice, “you screamed, were you having a nightmare?” There was something taunting about the question and she smirked, staring at Ovie with those big eyes then climbed down from her bed and walked towards the door, opened it and walked out of the room. Immediately, Ovie found her voice, and she went on to narrate the night’s experience to the owners of the eight pairs of eyes looking questioningly at her. All of them, except Janet didn’t believe her until Lola had her own encounter three nights in a row . . . On those nights, Uju would sleep walk to where Lola slept and enter into her dreams to chase her. Then when she woke up, she would always be covered in sweat, and to her horror would find Uju still standing right in front her flashing a deadly smile, before climbing back to her own bed to sleep. ******* Janet knew this things were real… Father Paul had told them about evil spirits at church, but used to laugh it off and chat away on her phone till the teachings were over. Now, she fearfully opened the bible in her laps to Psalm 23 and started to read aloud with trembling lips. She had barely gotten to verse four when the room door burst open again with so much force that it banged hard against the wall, yet…no one was there. . . “Lola? Lola…is that you?” Silence. . .
Someone was in the room now, she could feel the presence of whoever it was. . . Before she could recite another verse from the Bible, an invincible hand grabbed her by the leg and pulled her forcefully to the floor. She fell with a thud and was further flung around the room by invincible forces. The pain was unbearable, and as she opened her mouth to scream the same pair of hands caught her by the throat and lifted her up. . .the icy fingers tightened. . .choking her. Her legs kicked wildly as she struggled for breath. . .eyes bulged, turned inside out and rolled inside their sockets. . . as the last breath left her lungs, she dropped dead on the floor right in the middle of the shards of broken bulb. Blood trickled from beneath her as the glass pierced into her lifeless flesh. ***** Lola was still bent on searching for Uju, unaware of what just happened to the roommate she left behind. . . She was oblivious to the fact that she was next. . . Sometimes, even courage can’t stop what must come to be, rather it infuriates those who must make it to be. . .