6 months ago.
Tobe took slow strides to his bedroom, admiring his creativity in turning his new apartment into a mini bougie hotel suite. As he walked into his kitchen, standing right in front of the table top, he drummed his nails lazily on it. A big smile playing on his lips, he looked forward to the years ahead because he was loving the man he’s become. What he doesn’t know is that this house which he so much loved could lead him to his ruins, because life atimes is like a new package;we never know what’s in it until we open it. If he survived this phase of his life he would tell his story but if he didn’t well, let’s just say dead men tell no tales.
I mean if he did his homework well enough, he wouldn’t be living here in the first place because, what he also doesn’t know is that the exact position he’s standing in, is where two women who had mysteriously gone missing were butchered into various marketable sizes, three months ago.
They were foreigners from another country and they had just moved in recently. They were not just busy bees but big time loners. They lived like people who wanted to be invincible, so no one knew them, not even their names. That explained why they were not reported missing neither did anyone come looking.
3 weeks after this grotesque act was carried out Mr ola, the landlord got an email from his tenant, saying they had moved out. He showed no concern as to why, because it meant more money for him. He wasted no time in refurbishing the house for the next tenant. Though if you saw him, you could swear with your life that he was in on the murder too. His only offense was his greed which was evident in his eyes; they were the size of a security man’s torch. It’s still a wonder he rented the flat at that rate.
Tobe stood there reminiscing on his house scouting days. He also remembered the big grin that was plastered on his face as he surveyed the house. It felt like the apartment had fallen out of his dreams down to earth. The most baffling thing about the house was the price, in which if a deaf man heard it, he too would raise an eyebrow. He would have paid for the house right at the spot if his phone battery were not dead. When he got to the house in which he was a squatter in, while conveying the good news to them he didn’t leave out the price. They were ecstatic on his behalf, like football fans. Only one of them told Tobe to not rush into the house that something did not feel right. You know as usual he was branded a bad belle, some told him to eat his heart out while others chewed and spat him out like people would troll others who had a different view to theirs on social media.
Obviously Tobe wasn’t going to pass up on this kind of offer because he was greedy. Before one could say Jack, Tobe had done the necessary paperwork for the house and that explained why he was already living in it.
Two months later
Tobe moved on with his ever busy life. On a very good day, while he was trying to grind his tomatoes to make lunch, the switch became faulty, broken even. He moved over to another, and continued cooking his Lunch. Meanwhile making a mental note to call his electrician to fix it up. On the day his electrician came to fix the switch, he’d gone to his flat mate’s to watch a football match. So when the electrician was through, he knocked on the door and told him he wanted a word with him. Just as those words left his mouth, Tobe got a call from his boss and he didn’t get off the phone for the next 30 minutes. The electrician stood there shooting daggers at him . Tobe mouthed that he should text him via WhatsApp. He nodded and left. The electrician texted him.
The message read thus: Sir I saw something that looks like dried blood splattered inside the old switch and it smells like a animal died in it.
Tobe never got to read his text because it was lost in a sea of messages from work and family on WhatsApp.
2 days later Tobe started looking for a pair of his boots; a timberland . It wasn’t his favorite neither did he wear them often because they were out of fashion. At first he didn’t know what was missing but he knew something was off with his shoe rack. He was lackadaisical towards it but with every passing day he just couldn’t take his mind off it until one day while cleaning up, he noticed what was amiss, it was his Timberland boots. It was the biggest pair, he’d ever owned, so that was why its absence was felt. It was really weird that his boots could somehow develop wings and fly away. Tobe checked all logical reasons as to where his boots could be. So he thought maybe he forgot it at his former house. He kept a reminder to go get it. After series of procrastination, due to work stress, be decided to bite the bullet one day by going there. He found out that it wasn’t there. So he waited, hoping that one day it would pop out of somewhere. And it did.
One week later, while rushing to work, he caught a glimpse of his boots but was in a haste to look at it. His subconscious stared at him with hands on the waist saying I told you so because he started getting paranoid . When he got back from work, while preparing for the next day he got to his shoe rack and heaved a sigh of relief, glad that it was just his paranoia. He got a call from his fiancée and while on the phone, he was twirling a loose thread of his sweat shirt until he suddenly picked his Timberland boots and he was bathed with dirt from his boots. He immediately jumped and dusted his clothes.
“ Hey what happened” his fiancée asked obviously alarmed.
“ eh, Babe please can I call you back” he said quickly. He ended the call abruptly and didn’t wait for her to reply .
He dropped his phone on the floor and picked up the other pair and was greeted with the same thick brown soil. His face was twisted in an emotion of fear and confusion. He held them both and his mind became a sprinter in a race of thoughts for who had worn his shoes.
He pondered on them, who wore my shoes? How come it has sand stuck underneath them? Does someone come into my house when am out? . He ran like one who was being chased, to go lock his door. It was locked with a key, so he bolted it on both sides He went to the back and did same but that could be a band aid to the situation, that is if the said person was not already in his house. That night, was the longest in his entire life. He kept tossing and turning. At about 4am, sleep came and stole him like a thief. Once it was 6am, his alarm screamed like a pregnant woman in labor and he jerked up in panic. His heart was already in his mouth with the reality that he was living in a house where he shared shoes with unknown people.
He ran into the bathroom and washed up in double time. He didn’t want to stay any longer at his home. While at work he was like a round peg in a square hole. He went about his work like a robot with an obvious bag under his eyes. When it was time to go home, as his colleagues look forward to stretching out on their beds to relieve the day’s stress, Tobe dreaded it because home now felt like a prison. When tobe got home, he constantly held his breath as he was jumpy at even the slightest of things like hearing his phone ring. While in a train of thoughts at work, he remembered he had worn those boots when it was raining, but he wasn’t sure if it was this exact one. He carried on with his life. Half scared never relaxed.
Two weeks later he had moved on without even knowing it. He had a house party and even had his fiancée come over on weekends . Then something happened. On a rainy morning, he had slept in and was running late. He didn’t want to get another query from work and he so much badly wanted to be on his boss’s good books to be able to land a promotion. He dashed out of the bathroom and made his way to the wardrobe. He slipped into his plain trousers and wore his singlet. As he stretched his hands to get his already ironed shirt, he couldn’t find it.
Trinkets of sweat had already started forming in his armpit which made him itchy. He went through all his clothes but couldn’t find that exact one. Then he was interrupted by a loud horning down stairs. Tobe ran to the balcony and saw that his colleagues were already fuming. He tried to appease them by mouthing the words I am sorry while holding his hands as one in plea. He quickly got back to his room, threw on another shirt and raced to the door while picking up the keys and swinging on his bag. He locked his apartment meticulously by shaking the handle to be sure it was locked. Then he left.
As the day dragged on, he got drowned in work but amidst staring at white papers and led emitting screens, there was that little gnaw at the pit of his stomach, he just couldn’t shake off. If he heard a joke and laughed out loud, on remembering his missing shirt, the smile will automatically disappear from his face. He just couldn’t shake off that feeling of having an intruder in his house. After work as he took calculated steps to his flat, he wondered why this was happening or was he just paranoid. He wanted to go tell his other 3 flat mates but his mind told him to be a man, and handle this, so he kept his cool. He put up a brave face and walked into his apartment, as if ready to attack what ever it was head on, but Immediately his phone rang, he jumped like a lizard and made to run to the door. It was his colleague on the phone, he hissed and went to take a shower. After that he walked past his wardrobe to his dresser, but because he wasn’t at peace with his self, he opened his wardrobe. He had to pick his jaw from the ground because staring right at him was the said shirt he was looking for. He grabbed it immediately as if to prevent it from disappearing again and examined it. It was spotless like before, ironed even. Just the way he left it. He was about putting it back while asking him self why he’s becoming a sissy until he decided to sniff it. There it was. That was not the Smell of his cologne. With shaky hands he grabbed each of his clothes, sniffing them and that particular shirt. The difference was as clear as day. Then he was sure someone was coming into his apartment other than him. He wondered if it his fiancée? But no he hadn’t given her a key yet. He wanted to tell his neighbors but he had his manly pride to protect.
The next day, Tobe had commenced prayers. He was not a spiritual person but now he saw a reason to be one. He waited for the other shoe to drop so he could tell his neighbors. He waited till he was tired and gave up.
On a Saturday before Easter Sunday while they were watching a football match, Tobe conversed with his flat mates on how they would celebrate . They all said they would eat out except one; Jumbo. Jumbo was this talkative plump guy who knew his way in the kitchen. His meals were way tastier than that of fast foods’. He said he would cook. They joked and told him to add their stomach. That evening, Tobe with his other three flat mates went to the mall and bought some food. They got home, saying goodnight to each other, entered their apartment. Tobe was in a good mood, he was humming a song. As he locked his door, he switched on the light in his sitting room and dining area, and stopped dead in his tracks. Then he saw it.
A black medium sized kitchen knife with red liquid all over it, on his dinning table.
In that instant, a million thoughts crossed his mind, as his heart beat like a drum, he stood frozen in fear. He could perceive the tangy faint smell of iron, until he got closer and knew exactly what it was.
His adrenaline level shot up like fireworks in the sky. His pizza and shopping bags dropped to the ground with a loud thud falling to God knows where, as he made scrambling motions to the door. His heart was a wild animal trying to escape his chest. He clawed at the door, banging at it like a mad man, with all the strength he could muster. He screamed at the top of his lungs saying “somebody help me!!”
Then he noticed he had locked the door was his key. He ran back to the floor, picked his keys with with the speed of a race car, opened the door and knocked furiously on his neighbor’s door. When his neighbor opened the door, Tobe pushed him inside and ran in. Talking as fast as a woodpecker, he explained everything to his neighbor, by the time he was through he was already hyperventilating. Then they went down stairs to call the other two. Jumbo said he was coming, so the three of them ran up to Tobe’s flat and saw how real Tobe’s stories were. They stood in his sitting room, hands akimbo, terrified. Tobe’s phone rang which startled all three of them, it was his closet friend at his former house. Tobe wasted no time in telling him everything, he laughed with guilt about the shirt saying he wore them, tested them actually. Just to know how fitting it was. He apologized because his cologne had made Tobe uncomfortable in the house.
Tobe asked if it was the white shirt, but his friend just said yes, though he wasn’t sure it was white or pink. Then suddenly Jumbo emerged and they told him the same thing. Jumbo burst out in laughter. They had this weird look on their face. Then jumbo said.
“ haba Tobe fear fear,that is my knife joor”.
They all three wanted nothing but to disappear into thin air. Jumbo continued
“ don’t you remember that I said I would cook? I went to the market and bought a live chicken, am killing It now”
Tobe asked him what his knife was doing in his house. Jumbo explained that he had come in to borrow condiments for cooking before they left for the mall, which was actually true. They all hissed when they remembered.
Tobe calmed down a bit and his flat mates had a good laugh at him. He was still scared but he tried not to show it. Jumbo came forward and took his knife. And everyone got to their respective flats.
As jumbo held the knife, he walked into his kitchen to continue his cooking, sitting right in front of him was another knife soiled with blood near the chicken on a chopping board. He stared at his ‘new’ knife and at the other on the chopping board. As that information hit him, it sent an eerie chilling feeling down his spine.
Arueze Chisom Precious, a passionate writer can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org