Category Archives: Horror

Chilling, blood-curling stories you shouldn’t read alone. Or in the dark…

ALONE?

Remi has a simple, easily predictable lifestyle. 

As a working class woman, the  official closing time from work is 5pm. So once it’s 5 on the dot, she’s done for the day, and thats it.

  With about 15 minutes needed to pack her things together and get to the parking lot, she’s always out of the company building by 5:15pm.

She immediately turns right, and driving at a constant speed of 50kph, it takes her 20 minutes to get home. Exactly 20 minutes.

Everyday.

And then she pulls into the driveway, gets her house keys and walks up to the porch, house keys in her left hand. By 5:37pm on workdays, she’s to be found in front of her house, unlocking the door and slipping inside.

She doesn’t go anywhere on weekends, except when she has to replenish her store of foodstuff and that occurs every third weekend, during the market days.

You see, Remi’s life is quite nice and cozy, comforting in it’s consistency. So today, like every other workday, she’s at the door by 5:37pm, just turning the lock when she hears a rustle. She doesn’t pay it much attention, infact she doesn’t pay it any attention. She knows the neighbours have a pet of some sort, and it’s most likely the animal was slinking about in the decorative shrubbery. Nothing to bother about. How much damage could it do?

It’s at that precise moment that she feels the touch of something cold and heavy in her side. Involuntarily, she is rooted to the spot, quaking with fear. Her eyes travel slowly downwards and she finds a gun pressed nicely to her waist. Like it wants to give her a big hug. Muzzle-first.

Shielded between her lithe frame and the stranger holding it, the gun isn’t obvious to anyone nearby, and besides, she hadn’t gone to any trouble trying to establish any level of camaraderie with her neighbors.

They wouldn’t even notice if she went missing. The thought hits her like a brick between the eyes. Unbidden, a hot tear makes it’s way out and trickles down her cheek.

The stranger holding a gun to her side orders her with a rough voice:

“Lock the door and come with me, no funny business now. I don’t want to have to do anything stupid.”

Docile, fearful, she obeys, twisting the key in the lock and hearing the sharp ‘click’ as the tumblers slip back into place, the door once again, locked.

With that sound, all hope abandons her.

She’s walking quietly towards her car, destination unknown when she sees her new neighbor wave to her. He’s a handsome, muscular young man, about the same grade with her. Sometimes he waved to her when he saw her over the shrubbery. Often he’d shout a greeting. But she’s​ never replied a greeting before, and not replying one now wouldn’t be anything new. She prays fervently in her heart that he notices something out of the ordinary. That he calls her back. Anything.

But nothing happens. She’s in front of her car now. When suddenly she hears

“Hello sir, do I know you?” She turns quickly. It’s her neighbor and he’s talking to the stranger.

“No sir, you don’t. I’m Remi’s brother, and I need to take her back home.”

“Back home? She lives here.”

“I mean ‘home’ home. Our mum is sick and she’s been wanting to see Remi for so long. It’s been a while since they’ve spoken. So I’m taking her home to see mummy.”

Time passes as her neighbor considers this tale. Meanwhile Remi is firmly chanting in her head- Please don’t believe him, please don’t believe him, please don’t believe him, please don’t believe-

The neighbor nods, apparently satisfied. So the stranger steers her away from safety. Her eyes widen.

Suddenly, like a cat, he pounces at the stranger and knocks him down, slamming his hand once, twice to the ground. He loses his hold of the weapon. Then his head follows, with one heavy hit against the pavement, the stranger is unconscious.

“Call 911. Do it quick woman, before he comes around.” Even as he talks, he’s producing something shiny from his pocket. It’s a pair of handcuffs. He snaps them around the strangers wrist.

Task complete, he turns to give Remi a long hard look. 

“I’m Chibuzor by the way, your new neighbor. It would do you a fair bit of good to be more friendly to people in the future.”

Soon the police men arrive and bundle the suspect. Chibuzor exchanges a few words with the officers, they salute him and come for her. A few questions and then it’s all over.

Later that week, she gets the details. The stranger was interrogated and the police are able to get his house address. They get a warrant and go in for a search. His house is covered with photos. Photos of Remi. Leaving her car. Entering her car. Eating at a restaurant. Talking to a guy. The guy’s face is peppered with holes, holes made by something being jabbed into the picture repeatedly. There’s a pencil nearby. The photos are all tagged with time slots. 4pm. 3:13pm. 12pm.

When she sees the picture evidence, she confirms that yes, at that precise time, she was doing just that.

But that’s not even the most disturbing thing. Far from it.

In the bedroom, there’s a full wardrobe of clothes, all her exact size. Shoes too. And underwear. Fancy, lace stuff. The windows are  covered with thick red drapes. There’s scented candles at every point in the room. Small heart-shaped pillows litter the place.

There’s a sheer nightgown laid on the thick king-size bed in the center of the room. It’s almost transparent, doesn’t really cover anything.

In one of the locked drawers, they​ find a wrap of cocaine and several packs of condoms and lubricant. Several ‘toys’ are there too. Things would have gone real bad for her if she had been taken back there. But she got lucky.

Thanks to a neighbor who just wouldn’t mind his own business.

Advertisements

THE RAINMAKER


It was a hot, dry afternoon. Grandpa was sitting outside, on the verandah, wearing  a white singlet and locally made shorts. It was printed of beautiful, brightly colored fabric with twisting patterns. With a newspaper folded neatly in half, spectacles on top of the newspapers, on a small stool bedside him, and an half empty glass cup containing a small amount of palmwine ’emu’ Grandpa was the very picture of contentment as he sat in the shade of the mango tree. He whistled a catchy tune, from the late Christy Essien Igbokwe, the song ‘Omo mi seun rere’ and pushed back the locally made adjustable chair so he could lie down for a while.

Meanwhile I kept sitting and wriggling and moving, were I sat on the rough cement floor, made restless by the heat. After much fuss and stress, I still wasn’t getting anywhere and had only succeeded in rubbing my buttocks raw through the thin fabric of my khaki shorts.
He sat up, looked at me and smiled. And with a crook of a finger, beckoned to me. Quickly I stood up, dusted my short bottoms and walked to him, where he lay in the fragrant shade of the mango tree.

“Ahmed, why are you restless?”

“It is hot, Grandpa. The heat is far too much for me.”

“Yes, it’s hot, but soon it will rain. It’s always hot just before it rains.”

“I wish it rained everyday so it wouldn’t have to be so hot. When will it rain Grandpa?”

“Soon child, soon. In the meantime, how would you like a story? Perhaps, it might make time pass faster. Plus it’s a story about a rainmaker.”

“What’s a rainmaker?”

“A person with the power to call down rain from the heavens.”

“Okay Grandpa, I’m all ears.”

And this is the story he told…

“Once upon a time, there was a prosperous little village surrounded by hills. It was a slow sleepy place, with farmland that was very arable and yielded fat crops. The people were happy and content- maybe too content? One cannot say just yet.

On a particular day, a day that started quite unremarkably, similar in its arrival and existence to the days that came before it, and the days to come after it had passed, an elderly woman made her way to the village square. She wore clothes that were tattered at the edges from long travelling, and had a small satchel of clothes and food. She didn’t look like anybody important.
She hoped to find a place to rest for she was making a long, ardous trek, she just wanted to rest. After looking around, she was unable to get a place to stay. People shut their doors in her face, some were particularly mean, insulting her before sending her away.

And so she went back to the village square and prepared to pass the night on the ground, in the open.

Just as she settled down to sleep, someone tapped her. She opened her eyes. There was a woman standing before her.
“Hello stranger,” she said “do you not have a place to sleep?”

“No,” replied the elderly woman “no one would let me into their house.”

“If that’s the case,then come with me. My hut is not so big, but surely it can contain both of us.”

And so the stranger found a place to stay for the night. The woman who rescued her was a widow named Abeke, a kind soul, and she prepared a meal of porridge with vegetables and smoked fish. The stranger ate till she was full. Then she was given a clean mat and several wrappers, and a corner of the hut was properly swept for her to lie down and sleep.
The widow lived alone, she had no children. The following morning, Abeke prepared breakfast for them to eat, and after they had eaten, she took her hoe and cutlass, ready to go to the farm. But the stranger asked her to pack up everything that was important to her instead and come with her. After much persuading, Abeke agreed. And together they left the hut. The stranger led Abeke to one of the hills and they began to climb. It was afternoon before they got to the summit. There Abeke set down the load she had been carrying and stretched her legs.
“I want to thank you for providing me with comfort, for having mercy on a stranger.”

 “It’s nothing,” said Abeke “I also could be a stranger in need of help someday.”

“True,” the elderly woman replied “and this act of kindness will prevent you from sharing in their fate.”

And she began to sing, softly, barely above a whisper.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain again and again,

Let the people give their thanks, let the rain fall down in sheets,

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain again and again.”

 

As she sang, rain began to fall, on the village down below. But she kept on singing, and the rain kept on falling, and soon the words to the song took a different turn-

“Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain again and again,

Let the rain flood all the streets, let the people cry for help,

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain again and again, 

Let the sheep and cattle drown,

Let the crops in farms be ruined.”

And as she sang, her voice rose to a higher volume, becoming louder with every line and so the rain intensified, lightning striking different huts in the village along with a few unfortunates who were unlucky to have been outside for one reason or the other, wind blowing off thatched roofs and the rainfall so heavy that the streets were soon flooded, the water coming up inch by inch until even the biggest huts were covered up. 

Abeke watched in horror as some little figures tried desperately to stay above the water, but eventually failed, slipping in and drowning. The rainmaker continued to sing until there was nothing left were the village once stood, but a large expanse of water, up to three quarters of the hills that surrounded the village. There were no survivors, except Abeke.

She turned and touched Abeke on the forehead. She felt like someone took  a hot branding iron to her forehead and as quickly as she felt it, she felt cold all over, and then all was as it was before.

“I have given you the power to also make rain. With it you can become a very important person. I wish you good luck in your travels, for you must find a new place to stay. But if you ever pass by Shomekun village, ask for the hut of old Ewatomi the rainmaker. You are always welcome in my house.”

And so she left. Abeke found her way to a neighboring village were she found out that the old woman had spoken true, and with her powers of rainmaking, soon became rich. 

She eventually remarried and bore children, and in all her prosperity she never forgot Ewatomi, the old rainmaker.

.
As Grandpa finished the story, I sang the first song, softly, the song for rain. And suddenly the sky was dark, and I felt something wet splash against my nose. A raindrop. It was followed by another and yet another and we quickly packed everything and moved inside the house. Grandpa pinched me on my cheek and said merrily

“Looks like we have our own little rainmaker after all.”

DEATH AND A CUP OF COFFEE, PLEASE? part 1

image

Rushing through the mad traffic that is part and parcel of Lagos, Inspector Kowoje was able to make it to the office an hour and thirty minutes after the phone call made to the police station soliciting for help had ended.

Truth be told, he would rather not have come at all. But sadly there was no subordinate officer to push the work on. Those yeye subordinates. When you wanted some peace and quiet, they were everywhere. Like flies.

Harassing the inmates. Hailing you and asking if there was anything for the boys. But the moment there was some real work to do, they vanished- it was almost like they had some sixth sense regarding such matters.

Kowoje adjusted his belt, fitting the belt through the last loop on his plain black trousers. Problem was, it was sure to come out again, seeing as the belt was ill-fitting, and then the stiff leather would stick out like some sort of prehensile tail.
The sheer madness!

Somewhere at the back of his mind, he made a simple note to harass belt sellers more. They had to feel some of this pain of course. But back to the present. He cleared his throat loudly and knocked.

Kpam! Kpam!!

“Yes, come in.” Answered a soft feminine voice from the other side of the door. A woman! That alone made it worth the time he spent getting to the nonsense office. With a wide grin, he opened the door and stepped in, fingering the huge baton attached to his trousers by the simple expedient of tying the stupid thing to a belt loop.

“Inspector Kowoje of the Nigerian Police For…” His voice trailed off as his brain practically shut down on all other activities, to take its sweet time in observing the vision of loveliness, seated cross-legged on a chair before him.

He didn’t know his mouth was wide open. It was so wide in fact, you could have comfortably put your fist in it.
Could, not should. If you did, Kowoje would most likely clamp down with his teeth. He’d bite you. He was that kind of person.

One enterprising housefly flew in through the open door, hovered briefly around the open mouth, changed its mind and flew off to find somewhere else to perch on.

“Excuse me?” The bespectacled goddess in pink and white said. And just like that, Inspector Kowoje got his marbles back. He drew himself up smartly, saluted a woman with no official authority whatsoever and said in his deepest baritone
“Inspector Kowoje of the Nigerian Police Force madam. We got a distress call from this address. Something about a suspected suicide ma. Reporting for duty ma.”

Tsk tsk tsk. Men can be so silly sometimes. The power of a pretty woman. But I digress. Back to our dear friend Kowoje.

The four-eyed beauty (counting the lenses, of course) gave a soft sigh. She shook her head briefly from side to side as though trying to clear it of an unnecessary burden and pointed to a door on the far right.

“Take that sir, follow the stairs to the fourth floor.  Then the first door by your left. The manager is waiting for you there.”

Nothing hurt half as bad as having to walk away from her, but Kowoje was nothing if not a man of action who put duty above all others.
With a silent solemn oath to spend no more than five minutes with the manager upstairs so he could come back here to know the delicious slice of humanity seated at the front desk better, he marched off in the direction he was given.

He barged into the described office. True to her words, there was a small pudgy fellow waiting for him.
Men like Kowoje hated men like the manager. They envied them because they were everything they weren’t. Rich. Pampered. Powerful.
Kowoje was sure the secretary downstairs was not a cold fish around this man.  She was probably chatty and overly friendly whenever she was chanced to see him. Cursing the dumb luck that cursed him with such a hard life bereft of fawning beauties, Kowoje barked out a harsh “Yes? What is it?”

“Good day officer, glad you could make it.” His voice contained a hint of sarcasm. But there was nothing Kowoje could do about it. This man held the knife and the yam. He was rich and probably watched football with several of his ogas at the top. Recognizing the danger of letting his contempt show, he drew himself up and tried again

“Inspector Kowoje of the Nigerian Police Force. We got a distress call from this address. Something about a suspected suicide sir. Reporting for duty sir.”

Then the man nodded, like a master finally satisfied with the efforts of a particularly promising, but lazy apprentice. Then he spoke.

“Apparently we’ve had a suicide. One of the members of our staff. Of course this doesn’t bode well for the company, especially now that we’re vying for a particularly juicy government contract. So here’s what we want you to do…”

OUR FEAST OF BONES part 2

It is been exactly two days since Uzochukwu made it to the thick forest at the boundary, where he is to spend a lonely week. And he is adjusting quite well.

With the spear in his hands, he kills small animals for food, and makes a fire to roast them with the flint he found among his rations. He also gathers edible fruits from several of the fruit trees that are scattered throughout the forest. There’s a stream a fair distance from the entrance to the forest, and that is where he made his camp.

However, if he knows what lives in the forest with him, he would most likely relocate to somewhere safer. Like home.

You see, water is a must. And in a forest with as few options as the one he currently stays in, any body of water is close to sacred. Little animals come daily to drink, to slake their thirst. Indeed, more often than not, Uzochukwu doesn’t really need to hunt. He just waits and spears them as they make their furtive way to the stream. All he needs to do is remain hidden and cover himself with mud, to mask his scent, and he gets a steady supply of meat for his cooking fire.
But on the third day, he comes across a small deer, with its belly torn out, and huge chunks of meat missing. He shudders in fear.

He knows he didn’t do this. There’s another predator in this forest, and from the look of the bite marks, and bloody paw prints around the carcass, it’s pretty big.

That night, he sleeps up, in the branches of a tree.

That singular action saves his life, as in the wee hours of the night, when he is deep in sleep, a lioness approaches his regular sleeping place. She is responsible for the torn deer he stumbled across earlier, and having filled her belly by devouring another animal before stumbling on the deer while making her way back to her den, she quickly lost interest in the meat after a few bites. So she left it lying there.
Wrong move.

Where there are predators, there will also be scavengers, and some of these also stumbled across the carcass a few hours before she woke up for her usual nocturnal hunt. With a scavengers hunger, they ate every scrap of meat on the deer and promptly made themselves scarce.
Now she just got back there, and couldn’t find anything to eat. But she could smell a slightly different scent, a scent left behind when drops of fear-soaked sweat leave a trail, as a boy takes to his heels upon discovering the presence of a beast far bigger, stronger and meaner than he could ever hope to be. She looks at him, hanging up in the tree. He looks like an ape. But he isn’t an ape. Apes happen to be very delicious. Although she isn’t really hungry, she considers climbing the tree to kill him anyway.

At this precise moment, Ozonna the medicine man, back in the village is making a sacrifice to ensure the safety of his boys. The white, spotless lamb has just finished eating what it doesn’t know is it’s last meal. After a drink of water, it raises it’s head to check who’s approaching. It’s Ozonna. Being a part of Ozonna’s herd, it doesn’t associate him with danger, so it relaxes and listens to the termites as they scurry about on the wood of the shed nearby.

It doesn’t see the knife he has hidden at his back, and barely notices it when he slits it’s throat in one quick, smooth move.

Ozonna observes the blood spatter as thick jets of the lamb’s lifeblood pour to the ground. Nodding to himself, he picks the carcass and takes it to his private sacrificial altar and sets in on a fire he has kept burning since the previous afternoon.

He watches the smoke rising from the burning meat, muttering some incantations for strength, wisdom and protection for his charges. He takes a concoction from the corner it was hidden in earlier and sprinkles it liberally on the meat as it sizzles and burns. A sweet scent greets his nostrils and a loud shriek pierces the night.
The ancestors have accepted his sacrifice.

Back in the forest, the lioness considers the distance she’d have to climb, her still full belly and her love of fresh meat, and decides she won’t kill him now. Maybe sometime in the next two days, when she’s truly hungry, she’d find him.

image

But for now, she allows him one more day of life…

MIDNIGHT

image

The house is haunted.
Lol. Balderdash.
Absolute nonsense. People are far too superstitious these days. Or so I used to think… Back then- oh well. A lot has changed since then.
A lot.

It was the perfect house, located in a sweet cosy corner of suburban Lagos. The asking price was decent, just a couple of millions of naira, the electricity supply was steady, and the water didn’t trickle either. It gushed. It was also furnished- tastefully. What else could a man ask for?
So I asked the realtor if it was up for sale. His face went pale, if it could be described that way, and he instantly began extolling the virtues of the house on the other side of the crescent.
I used to be very persistent back then, so I asked again. I’ve changed now. I’ve learnt patience. But again, I digress. Forgive me, if you can. It’s not easy being me.

Eventually he couldn’t ignore my questions anymore and had to fess up. I seemed like a good guy, a decent guy you know, the kind of person you just trust from the get go. As such he really didn’t want to lose me to that house.

I remember him saying it. I remember how earnest his tone was. I remember him trying to convince me that the house was bad for me. But I didn’t listen. I didn’t listen much back then. But as I said, I was a  different man. A very different man. I’ve changed.

Something he said caught my attention. “No one ever survives that house for a week. They pack up and run like hell and they never come back. The house is haunted. Please let me get you another house.”

But I was adamant, I liked the house, it was perfect, and unless he had a better excuse, I was going to have it. With tears in his eyes, he agreed.
He brought the documents over. I signed them. Money change hands, I got the deed to the house. I drove up to inspect my new purchase, just me and my realtor. Two old buddies.
At the threshold, he gave me my keys. He even refused to enter the house. I remember laughing at him. I thought I was wiser. Thanks to superstition and backward belief systems, I would be getting a house, cheap and easy. I was wrong. Oh I was very wrong.

That night, it began. At my window I heard scratching noises. I dismissed it as a stray cat. But the next morning, I could not find any tracks or claw marks around the house. Nothing.

And then Tuesday…
I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first, I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again. I shrugged it off. Some trick. I was hearing things. Nothing to get bothered about.

Later that week, on Wednesday, at night, the scratching intensified. Then it stopped. I could hear a child wailing at the top of his lungs. But, I knew all the families around by then and no one had a kid.

And then Friday came. If only I had the wisdom to leave before Friday.
First I came back from the office to meet a message scrawled in my kitchen in blood.
“Go away.”
Sure by this time that someone was trying to force me out, I got a towel and soapy water and wiped it off.

And then at night… That night started off innocently enough. No noise, no scratching, nothing. It was going to be a good, short night.

…The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.

I was done for. Behind the house now, things have also changed. There’s another grave, freshly dug, barely a month old.
Someone tried to plant a rosebush on it. Didn’t work. Stupid dude should have known I don’t like roses. Formerly I would have called him and given him a piece of my mind.

But I didn’t. I’ve changed. A lot. You know, now that I’m dead.

Drop by the house sometime will you?
It’s so lonely here.

A CUPFUL OF TROUBLE part 1


I want you to do me a favour. Please imagine a forest, quiet and serene. Imagine little shrubs and insects working away at the flora. A small pink nose makes its way from a cluster of plants, followed by a small head on which hang long furry ears. A beautiful white rabbit. It catches a whiff of something it certainly doesn’t like and bolts. Something follows in hot pursuit. Forget about them.

Listen to the sounds of nature. Take in the earthy smell of freshly overturned soil. Bask in the warmth of sunbeams as they trace patterns on the forest floor. Listens to the chirps and croaks, the sights and sounds of things killing each other. Oh yes, things killing each other, that’s just the cycle of life. Rabbit and wolf. Plant and herbivore. Prey and predator.

Remember that rabbit we mentioned earlier? That would be me. And that wolf?  That would be the homicidal maniac behind me, intent on giving me an intimate introduction to his matchete, as he chases me across the abandoned alley, hooting and cackling with delight. It’s a big lonely place and everyone with sense is shut tight in one room or the other. It is afterall, 3 o’clock in the morning.

How did someone as smart and attractive as myself get into such a predicament like this, you’d ask? Well, honestly I don’t know, I mean, anyone with a brain cell would find me positively adorable so as you might have deduced, Dr. Loony back there might not have all shiny marbles.

It all started when, well it all starts from somewhere, no doubt some torturous childhood suffered by our idiot friend Mr. Hyde which drives him to do crazy, twisted, murderous stuff to people, but for me it started when I had the guts to come back from the dead. 

I was involved in an accident and rushed to the closest hospital which happened to be his. Fate, why?

The attempts to save my life failed and they “lost” me. Dr. Loony had written me off as dead and gone through pains to write me my very own death certificate, beautifully crafted! (I saw it beside me when I woke and took my sweet time to admire the calligraphy) But something happened and I woke up. It would seem my heart just thought “Ah, forget about this dead business, I’ve got stuff to do” and re-started because there is just no other way of describing it. It was quite a shock when D.L (lets just call him that shall we, Dr. Loony is a bit too long a name) came and found me, hale and hearty and very scared of where I was. 

Rather than declaring it a miracle and pampering me like any decent human being would, D.L somehow got it into his head that my return to life was some sort of “mistake” that had to be rectified!

How? You’d ask, I’m sure, since you’re smart and not at all killy (now a valid description of a psychopathic creature like D.L thank you very much) and I’m sure our resident madman would answer you in very much the same way as he answered me- with a smile and a promise to murder you. Of course, you’d take to your heels just as I did, and he would chase you the same way he’s chasing me right now, with a sharp machete he got from God-only-knows-where, cackling like a demented ghost all the while just exactly the way he is doing, right now!

Flying down the alley on the wings of the wind, I made a sharp turn as it came to an abrupt end and I burst out and into a wide street, cursing all the while my poorly made decision to resurrect in the wee hours of the day instead of sometime in the day where I’d be able to run and hide in the midst of people and the presence of witnesses would no doubt ruin the possibilities of me getting hacked to death with a machete. 

Feet going pitter-patter against the sidewalk, I made my way rapidly to the bus stop. There it was, a little distance away, and the trusty lamp was on, providing an island of light in the ocean of darkness around it. I was sure to find someone there, I thought, if I would ever find help at this time, it had to be here. But I got to the bus stop, and it was… empty.

I chanced a look behind me. In retrospect I think it wasn’t one of my smartest decisions, as I saw dear D.L had closed the gap a little. Honestly the yelp I made wasn’t so high pitched, and it was totally manly, and not at all like the sound made by a scared little girl.

But the subsequent fall was totally messy, with flailing arms and legs and clutching at empty air. I hit the ground, hard, and turned to my back only to see that my time was up. 

Sir Madman lifted his machete and yelled something I could not hear, probably something about how I was about to be ‘rectified’ and something else spilled light around him. He was a silhouette against a bright white background, and like our friend the rabbit, I was frozen to the spot. I watched as the machete got as high as it would, then began its downward arc, the few seconds required for the deed to be done stretching into what seemed like minutes as time slowed down…

SNATCHED

Giwa was the most beautiful boy in his town.

Yes, beautiful. The word “handsome” just couldn’t do him justice. With a clear, clean chocolate complexion and shiny black hair, he also had limbs hewn to perfection and lashes that made the village beauties grow green with envy. 

After they woke up from swooning at the sight of him, that is. 
It was commonly said in the village that the creator was in a good mood the day he made Giwa. Some even speculated that he was created on a day of rest. Afterall, everyone knew it took time and special attention to create a masterpiece.

Nevertheless, Giwa was the pride of the village. Not just beautiful, he was also smart. And hardworking too. Everyone loved him. He was born to a dotting mother who had every reason to pamper him after a prolonged season of childlessness, after sixteen years of marriage!

What no one knew was that Giwa was not an ordinary child. He was “given” to his mother by the river goddess with a strict warning.

He was never be allowed to meet with her again. She was notorious for her love of pretty things. Pretty boys and girls. Pretty rocks. Pretty shells. If anything pretty got to the riverbank on a sacred day (one of the days when she came out to roam the earth in the guise of a human) it always ended up following her home. 

However, everyone knew the sacred days, and were wise enough to stay indoors. As such there was no problem.
Giwa grew into an attractive, healthy young man with a fondness for swimming. Knowing his origin, his mother tried her best to indulge him, knowing fully well that he could not be in any form of danger from the water. The only restriction she placed on him was a stern warning that the river was off-limits on sacred days.
She drummed this into his ears from the moment he was strong enough to stand in his own two feet. Giwa knew this. It was law. But sadly, it was not enough.

He had three close friends, and the group of four did everything together, every moment they had free, they spent together. All the boys were handsome to varying degrees, but Giwa outshone them all.

Watching him play with his gang was like seeing a huge diamond nestled in the midst of gold coins. You knew the gold was valuable, but the diamond was more so.

One dark twisted day, a day that started like any other, Giwa’s parents had to travel to a far away village for a meeting. They made sure to provide more than enough food to take him through the four days they estimated the entire journey would require.

His mother drew him to a corner. The fourth day, the day I their return was a sacred day. She warned him not to venture into the river, and after extracting a solemn promise that he would do no such thing, she left. He was almost a man grown, having seen seventeen harmattan, si they were comfortable leaving him behind.

Giwa ha so much fun, eating and sleeping and doing as he wished for the first three days. But soon he was sick and tired of it. His gang had come to meet him everyday, and they ha hung out. But today was a scared day and no one was visiting.
Stuck at home and bored out of his mind, Giwa was thinking of things he could do to pass the time when he heard a knock.

Going to the front door to open it, he met his gang on the front steps playing. They wanted to go to the river for a quick deep and they wanted their nest swimmer to go along with them. At first he declined, but when they put a bit of pressure on him he caved in. In truth, he wanted to go. It was better than sitting at home anyway.

It wasn’t too long when they got to the river and waded in. The river was empty, there was no one around. None of the bigger kids were around to boss them about, none of the noisy little kids to shout and run about ruining the peace and tranquility. It was laidback. Beautiful. Serene…

Little wonder none of the boys took note of time and like grains of sand trickling through the hourglass the seconds slipped away, growing into minutes, which grew into hours and so on and then it struck noon, the hour of the river goddess.

As they lazed in the water, they were suddenly surrounded by the prettiest girls you ever laid eyes on. And among the girls, there was a particularly beautiful lady. She seemed to glide towards Giwa, and his group of friends parted to make a way for her. They started to chat and were soon lost in each other. His friends were not left out as her attendants- they could only be attendants, a girl that beautiful had to be a princess of some sort- kept them occupied.

The hours spun by in pleasant chitchats, until Tanko, an unrepentant prankster decided to kick one other girls in the calf. No one knew why. But he thought it would be funny. But his feet meet with something slippery, something solid. A single limb, not two. Not legs. A tail?

He dived underwater and almost drowned in shock. Underneath the surface of the water, she was a fish! She had a fish’s tail from the waist down, hidden by the murky nature of the river. He broke the surface and the cold look she gave him explained everything. His head seemed to swell to three times it’s normal size. He barely managed to croak “Giwa” when the girls grabbed the other three boys and dived into the water with a flash of fins and shiny tails. Of the gang, he was the only one left. Everyone else had disappeared, with the ripples they left behind, the only evidence they ever existed.

Stunned with shock, prodded by mind numbing fear, he clawed his way to the riverbank like a crazed caged beast set free and ran in a daze to the village, screaming for help at the top of his voice. 

He made it to the shrine and was able to rouse the chief priest from his midday slumber. On hearing what happened, the portly man rushed to the river followed by his acolytes but it was too late. No trace of either the mermaids or the boys. He made sacrifices. Pledges. Pleas. All in vain. 

The river had claimed it’s own.

Nothing could be done.

Giwa’s parents returned later, to an empty child and an inconsolable tragedy. Frustrated, his mother looped a belt through the rafters and was found hanging and swaying gently the next morning by her husband.

Giwa and the rest of the gang were never seen again.