Before long our car was filled, I was glad when it’s engine roared to life signalling the commencing of our journey. Though sandwiched between a plump middle aged woman and a man with muscular arms in white overall and beards like those of Nebuchadnezzar I managed to smile.
I had received a call from my cousin Nkem that my uncle was planning on erecting an edifice for himself on my piece of land in the village. He had already bought enough blocks for the project to begin the next day.
“But why would Uncle Gozie plan to do such a thing?” I wondered.
I couldn’t wait till the next day since delay might be dangerous, so I quickly packed a few clothes in my bag and headed for the park to board a vehicle heading East that night. Fortune smiled on me on arrival at the park when I heard a driver calling “Upper Iweka, Upper Iweka, just two more chance” . There were two passengers in it; a lanky man with an oblong face sitting besides the driver and the muscular man in white with a scary face.
I immediately paid the driver and positioned myself at the back as well. After about a quarter of an hour, the plump woman arrived, she seemed to be a business woman who had goods to sort out at Upper Iweka. I was sandwiched between these two like hot akara balls being pressed together in an Agege bread ready to be devoured by a hungry Lagosian.
Despite the discomfort, my mind was fixed on arriving at the village early the next morning to his surprise and to ‘change it for him’ if necessary. It was now an hour before midnight as our bus sped along the Benin-Ore Expressway, I calculated that my arrival at the village should be on or before 6am in the morning.
The lanky man besides the driver had been talking nonstop since we left the park, complaining about the insecurities in the countries, highlighting the shortfalls of the government and suggesting solutions to the problems. I felt that he needed to keep on talking and not fall asleep so that the driver in turn might not fall asleep as well. It seemed as if he compensated his deficiency in fat and flesh with his oral ability.
The woman at my right hand was busy making calls without minding the discussion that the lanky man was initiating, while the muscular man with his bright and scary eyes had been uncomfortably silent save for occasions when he’d let out terrible coughs and spit out thick sputum through the window to my disgust.
I decided to rest my head for a little while with the hope of waking up when we get to Upper Iweka. Not long afterwards I heard the sudden screeching of our tyres, we were in danger! Some men with riffles had suddenly emerged from the bushes and had blocked the road. Our driver, a stout man with a cute gap tooth, had sighted them in time and expertly applied the brakes before we could get close to them. He instantly went on a reverse afterwards with the armed men firing mercilessly at us. We were all in panic as the lanky man had crouched and was crying, the woman was screaming at the top of her voice while the muscular man was mumbling silently .
The car wobbled as it reversed and then finally made a violent stop when it went off track and hit a tree.
“Blood! Blood! The driver was shot. He is dead!” cried the lanky man.
There was no explaining on our next line of action, and as if of the same mind, we opened the car and dashed out, running as far as our legs could carry albeit in different directions into the woods.
I could feel the thumping of my heart like a nuclear bomb ready to explode.
“Were those men bandits who take delight in killing innocent people to prove a point?” I wondered. “Were they kidnappers, ritualists or human parts traffickers who harvest the human organs for sale?”
Those thoughts ran seamlessly through my mind as I ran faster and deeper into oblivion among the trees. I felt a little relieved when I came across a high fence, without knowing exactly from what source I got the energy, I saw myself on the other side of it. Not wanting to leave things to chance, I ran even more.
“Probably, I had run into a neighbouring town” I thought.
Oh! How true that was – I had run into the courtyard of the dead.
The moon’s face was already hidden and the only natural source of light were the little twinkles of the stars dancing in heavenly glory. Looking around I was shocked as to where I had found myself. Graves were arranged side by side like old pals gathering together for an evening meal as far as my phone’s light and my heavy eyes could see. The smell of rotten flowers and damp soil as well as other dead and decaying matter made me puke.
Even though I never believed in ghosts but somehow I started to shiver in fear. The constant hooting of owls and the echoes it brought back added to the morbidity of the situation, my head grew light and I felt dizzy. As I tried to move, I felt a strong hand from underground pulling my legs.
Oh no! I wouldn’t go down alive to Sheol. I screamed with all my might and jumped up, only to realize that it was a leguminous weed which had grown besides a grave. My hands felt the chalky texture of s stone and on looking closely I saw the words “Maria Richmond 1999 – 2020” inscribed on it.
This person died at 37, the same age as I am. “Would today be my end as well?” I sincerely hoped not.
Being the only living human in such an unpleasant surrounding, I could see my manliness leaving me behind as I started to fidget. I couldn’t tell what I was really scared of but I was certain that I was scared to the bones as sweats like an opened dam flooded my body.
Just then I saw something move swiftly at a distance, it seemed to be approaching me. It’s face was well hidden and it had a white gown with blood stains on it. It’s left hand was much longer than its right which looked like a pestle.
I had only boasted to Chisom, my friend that I could spend an entire night in a graveyard all alone without fear, but I never knew that it would come sooner and in such cruel circumstances. How I wished I could take back my words.
“One thing must definitely kill a man” that I know but I wasn’t ready to die by the hands of an unknown creature and in the worst place of all – a graveyard. I had already forgotten about my fellow passengers and what might have happened to them as I began to run with all my might as the creature was hot in pursuit.
The faster I ran, the closer it got to me. My foot stepped on a shallow grave and I hit the earth with a thud. I couldn’t stand up because my leg was already trapped in the pit. Helplessness overcame me as the creature came up close. I still could not see its face as it stood over my hapless self. I begged and screamed at the top of my voice as I felt it’s cold hands on my shoulders.
“Oga, wake up. We don reach Upper Iweka” said the muscular man in white as he tapped my shoulder.
Humble Ogbonna, a Diction and Phonetics Instructor with a passion for writing sent in this entry from email@example.com