“Ahhhhhh, in the name of the good spirits what is this?”, I screamed as the scrawny, pale coloured detached forearm raced towards me.
I had broken it off from the skeletal form that had borne it, with my shovel. The odd-looking skeleton had lost interest and moved on to some other prey but this forearm seemed to have grown a liking for me as it kept moving towards at an incredibly fast speed.
My shovel came down on the it with reckless abandon sending bones in all directions. I turned to run away as fast as I could because the bones would reassemble and be after me in a matter of seconds. During my flight I noticed other bony forms coming out of their graves.
“Screeeeeeecchhh”, was the noise they made as they emerged from their earthly abodes.
I couldn’t call them skeletons because I knew the exact position of every bone in the body having been a thriving medical student before I was rusticated from the university for misconduct. The skull and limbs were attached to the expected positions, but that was all as every other bone was jumbled up like a badly arranged jigsaw puzzle.
As I ran past a half-fallen tomb towards the shed on the far end of the wide cemetery, I noticed 4 of the creatures had figured out my movements, left their meals, and were now running towards…
Oh sorry, you’re lost as to what is happening here right? Ok, let me take you back to the very beginning of this night of horrific bliss.
My name is Johnson Tony, a 21-year-old. I was formerly a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka but was expelled 3 months ago for engaging in a battle of words and fists with a fellow student over a lady. Ever since I have been living with friends and working tooth and nail to raise money for entrance exams into another university because my parents had washed their hands off my life.
Earlier today, a close friend, Edward, called me to inform me of an opportunity that would change my life and save me a lot of stress.
“Johnny boy, it’s just for one night, five hundred thousand Naira on a platter of gold, that’d cover your entrance fee into the university and take you halfway through medical school,” Edward had said.
“Yes,” I replied, “but exhuming corpses is unlawful and just so disrespectful”
“Are you serious?” He asked “the people who gave me this contract are lawmakers, so how is it unlawful? Can’t you see the irony? What has the law ever done for you?”
I sighed in defeat.
“How’s it disrespectful, the people who owned those bodies are either in heaven, hell, neverland, the eternal now, or whatever it is they believed in when they were alive, taking their bodies means nothing. And you wouldn’t be alone, there are many of us” Edward added.
“Eddie, it’s wrong” I replied.
“Look John, I am only doing this because I understand your predicament, there are many other people I can call”
And like butter in a very hot pot, my resistance melted away.
We arrived at the biggest cemetery in town at exactly 11 pm, we were 10 in all. The watchman who had already been tipped let us in. We got out our tools and started our really appalling job. The goal was to dig out 30 remains of middle-aged women, so we had to check the name and age at death before exhuming the bodies. The weather was cool, night creatures kept us company with their melodious symphony.
The job was tiring and slow, so we had to spread out in groups of two to get the job done faster. Some minutes before 2 am, we had a scream from one of the groups to our far left. We all stopped working and strained our ears to listen.
“Everything ok?” Edward, who was working with me, asked.
“Help! help!! help!!!” a fellow, whose name I didn’t know, shouted, running towards us.
“I can’t find my partner,” he said breathlessly “he just disappeared”
“What do you mean you can’t find him?” Edward asked, raising his voice “is he a needle in a haystack?”
“I don’t know, he just screamed and when I turned to find out what happened, he was gone” he answered.
Before we could question him further or try to figure out what was happening, out of graves around us appeared bony creatures. They were basically packs of badly arranged bones, some picked clean and others still having putrid-looking flesh dangling from their joints.
As we stared, transfixed to the same spot, more appeared still. After a while, we could also make out humans in black-hooded cloaks among them.
At the word “Feed” from the cloaked people, the creatures charged at us with inhuman speed. It was at that moment we awakened from our trance.
“Defend yourselves!” Edward shouted at the top of his voice.
And defend ourselves we did, I was scared beyond comprehension but the adrenaline in me flowed in torrents. I raised my shovel and hacked at the skeletal form closest to me and like a pack of cards, it crumbled into a heap of bones. We dismantled the creatures into bones for about 5 minutes before the extraordinary started to happen. Before our very eyes, the bones began to re-attach themselves to one another, reforming the creatures. That very scene reminded me of a chapter from the Holy book where a prophet in a valley of bones spoke the word of God and bones began to attach to bones. It was cinematic and at the same time bloodcurdling.
The reformed creatures alongside others that joined them from behind overwhelmed and overpowered us. I saw bony limbs pierce the abdomen of the person close to me and at that moment I knew this had gotten out of hand. All my colleagues fell despite their relentless effort to keep them at bay.
“Run Johnny, run!” Edward shouted, grabbing my hands, “run for your life!”
With that, he bolted into the darkness.
And here I am, still running from these same creatures, the four chasing me had been joined by countless others. I couldn’t feel my legs as I ran faster than I had ever run in my life. When it finally seemed like I would win this race for life, I tripped and hit my head so hard I literally saw bloody stars dancing in front of my face.
I felt strong fingers grip my legs and drag me across the grass towards the cloaked figures. I could see Edward’s bloody body at their feet.
“John, Jo..” he said coughing out blood, “are you ok… I… am soorrr”
One of the humans dropped his hood and that face cut Edward’s apology short.
“Honourable”, he said, “why are you doing this? this wasn’t our agreeme…”
Before he could finish speaking, the creatures fell on him and devoured what remained of his body. At the man’s instructions, the creatures raised my semi-conscious body and held me upright.
“We have fed the soul of our elders as is required of us…” the man said, “…now the power of the cult will be revived with even greater energy”
“The last thing on our agenda is sacrificing the chosen one,” he said pointing at me.
The mention of “sacrifice” and “chosen one” spiralled my foggy mind to full consciousness.
“Please sir,” I pleaded, “don’t kill me, it’s not yet my time, I still have so much to achieve, my mom will be so heartbroken”
“Yes, you’re an achiever, that’s why you were chosen” he replied. With that, he raised an age-beaten dagger and drove it through my chest.
“Nooooooooo”, I screamed, waking up from the nightmare. I was drenched in sweat from top to bottom, my head banging very hard. I moved my hands all over my body checking for bruises and scars, finding none, I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Ring ring, ring ring!”, the sound of my cellphone brought my heart to my mouth.
I picked it up and saw a new message from Edward.
Good morning Johnny boy, I have a job for you. A once in a lifetime opportunity.
Bismarck Izibealoa Faola a medical student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org