The milky cream of the ceiling seemed to be out of focus no matter how much I attempted to concentrate. The ceiling fan kept going in a constant circular cadence that mocked my attempts to clear my mind. Blurry images swam in and out of my vision as I tried merging the numerous shadows into one. The whitewashed paint kept coming in and out of focus, and I lost track of how long I had been staring up at the ceiling willing it to stand still and my head to stop ringing. I didn’t notice the pain at first. But as I became more aware of my surroundings and less groggy, the pangs started to hit like the dull twangs of a guitar being tuned for a rock concert. It became more intense as I tried moving. It seemed coupled with a god forsaken headache that had been bothering me from the moment I first opened my eyes, I had a bloody hole in my right leg where a good chunk of flesh should be. I nearly lost it and passed out. Good thing I was probably waking up from having earlier passed out. That gave me enough motivation to keep my eyes open.
I didn’t know where I was and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I was almost nude, how I got out of my clothes, and why I was lying on a blood soaked mattress almost naked. For some reason my right leg burned as though it was on fire and then besieged by a million fire ants running amok. It was hard to avert my gaze from the large gaping hole just below my thigh and the pool of coagulated blood which covered both my legs and had soaked into the mattress I was on. Swallowing the immense pain, I fumbled about for my clothes while trying not to glance at the gun lying forlorn on the ground. I was not going to even consider what that was doing so close to me. As dire as my situation seemed to be, I needed to get some clothes on, as with every stumble occasioned by not being able to utilize my right leg well, not to mention the mind numbing pain I was trying to ignore, having my ample chest swinging around in all its glory was not something I liked to advertise, though I was the only one in the sparsely furnished room as far as I could tell.
After I was able to go through the mess of clothes and sheets streamed around the room, and get a gown over my head with much difficulty owing to the bloody mess in my lower extremities, something struck me as odd. I did not recognize this room nor did I have any memories of entering it, worse still I could not even recall whether I was meant to recognize it or not. For the life of me I could not figure out if I lived here or magically fell in through the roof like santa claus. Well, there wasn’t a hole in the ceiling neither was there a chimney, so the latter was out of the question. Perhaps the slightly swollen knot at the back of my head was what was preventing me from remembering. I continued to slightly massage it as I took a good long look around the room. The hair at that spot had a coating of dried blood. Asides from the trail of blood leading into the room, the gun lying on the ground not so far away, and the bloody sheets, it seemed like a perfectly ordinary room.
I shuffled on my good leg to the corner of the room where I noticed there was a table with a large vanity mirror resting on it, with some cans and sprays littered across its surface. I needed to take a good look in a mirror, as it seemed the bump at the back of my head was preventing me from remembering even my own face. As I parted the hair strewn forlornly all over my face, I could see my dark brown eyes, face smeared with make up, and a few red marks marring my unusually fair skin. How I could tell that those red marks were not meant to be there, I have no idea. I just had an innate feeling that I was a pretty fair girl with no pimples as they say. Though I seemed to be a far cry from that right now. I wobbled back to the mattress to give my legs some respite. As far as I could tell, while I was moving around, I had not heard anyone or thing stirring in what I could assume to be the other parts of the house. After all, this room could not exist on its own in a separate dimension, or could it. It seemed the pain made me a bit delirious.
Now that I was clothed and fully conscious, no thanks to the pain radiating from the knot at the back of my head and my barely functioning right leg, I tried to take stock of my current situation. It seems I must have taken a bad fall somewhere or gotten hit in the head with a heavy blunt object because I could hardly even think straight with the symphony of pain going on, courtesy of my overstimulated pain receptors. Panic began to set in. A whole new wave separate from that I initially felt upon discovering my poor state when I woke up. I realized that not only could I not tell where I was, I could not recall how I got there, I could not remember how I got both injuries, I could not recall how I got out of my clothes and I could not even remember my own name! It was starting to seem more and more like the start of a terrible mystery novel and a bad joke every passing minute.
I stared at the gun lying on the floor amidst the bed covers once more. I could only hope to God that my current situation was not due to anything remotely involving it. I kicked it to the side of the room to get it as far away from me as possible. But even without any memories in my confused pretty little head, I knew that was wishful thinking. I debated whether to take it along with me while trying to find my way out of here, wherever ‘here’ was. While pondering that insane idea, a light bub went off in my head to check the pockets of the clothes I was wearing for maybe a wallet or small purse or something. It wouldn’t hurt to try. The blue gown I was wearing, which was now stained with blood didn’t seem to offer much in the way of hidden pockets to have something that large hidden away. Well, at least it helped cover my moderately sized chest. While patting myself down, a small light brown wallet fell to the ground. While it seemed like something a man, not a lady would carry, I was happy and hopeful that I found something that seemed remotely useful. Beggars can’t be choosers after all.
Going through the contents of the wallet, I discovered some loose change, a few thousand naira notes and a few cards. Pulling out the cards, I saw a well-worn voters card with an unflattering picture of myself. Apparently, judging from the details of this card my name is Doreen, aged 24 and resident somewhere called Apapa. Well, at least I knew my own name now. It would have been embarrassing trying to figure out my way back home to this place called Apapa without even knowing my own name. Not that I was privy to that information before now. Taking care to place everything carefully back into the wallet, I resolved it was time to figure my way out of here, and no I would not be taking the gun. I felt it was best to leave it right where it was. The wounds I already had were more than enough, and I was not trying to invite anymore.
Though the pain had lessened a bit since when I first initially woke up, I still felt quite terrible. I tried not to look down at my leg so much, as the sight of the blood slowly dripping was enough to make me sick. Good thing I tore a bit off one of the pillow cases in the room and fashioned it into a bandage of sorts to stem the bleeding. I already felt lightheaded enough from blood loss, I didn’t think there was any need to lose any more blood. Perhaps my ability to be able to neatly make a bandage out of a random piece of clothing had something to do with a nurse’s ID card I found in the little wallet I now clung fiercely to. The wallet and its contents were the only reminder that I existed and was a person. Though I could not recall what kind of person I was, at least I had some manner of identification to attest to the fact that I was not a ghost.
I resolved to follow the trail of what I guessed to be my own blood leading out of the room. I mentally said a short goodbye to the square space that had seemed like my entire universe for the past few minutes or so. It was hard to tell time with no timepiece on. I figured it was sometime in the night, as the lights that enabled me adequately observe the room I emerged from did nothing to dissipate the thick darkness present outside when I pulled aside one of the window blinds in the room briefly to take a look. All I could tell from my brief glance through the window was that this house was on a beach. Even through the darkness I could make out the lines of a sandy shore and hear the distant sounds of the ocean crashing against the beach. It seemed strange and ironic that I could remember what a beach was and not who I was.
I followed the trail of my blood into a passageway with many thoughts weighing on my mind. Such as where could I have been coming from and how did I sustain these injuries and why was there a trail of my blood running through this house. Not to mention that despite my efforts, I still could not remember a shred about who I was. Thank God I found the wallet. As I continued to awkwardly stumble my way down the well lit passageway, I discovered another room not so far away from that which I woke up in. To my surprise, this room had a surgical kind of table in the middle with surgical lighting, scalpels and various containers of different shapes and sizes spilled across the room. It seemed like something a mad scientist would have in his home for all kinds of crazy human and animal experiments. This thought made my blood curdle and I backed out while being extra aware of the eerie shadows lurking in the corners of the room where the light did not reach. I made my way out and continued hobbling down the passageway as it seemed my blood trail continued past this room.
When I closed my eyes, I could see flashes of a struggle with an unknown assailant. Though due to my pounding headache it was hard to tell if I was just being delirious or those were actually bits and pieces of my memories. From what I could tell, a man was the aggressor in these flashes. He had in his hand a long piece of wood of some kind which he was wildly swinging about uncontrollably. When I looked down, I kept seeing a gun in my hands, and then the next thing I could hear was a loud bang which deafened me before all turned black. In some flashes, I could see me dragging myself through this same house with a trail of blood forming behind me. I squint my eyes and reopen them because its taking too much effort to try and remember, and it seems I might be getting nowhere trying to forcefully bring back my memories. They’ll return when they deem it fit to do so, until then I’m going to get far away from this gloomy place. I have no idea if those flashes were real memories or just machinations of a mind delirious from pain and eager to fill in the blank space where a lot of memories should be. All this doesn’t stop my head from pounding less, so I decide to stop and instead focus what meagre strength I have into getting out of here.
It had been bothering me for a while now that though I had no memories, I got the very distinct feeling that this wasn’t my home. This begged the question that whose home was this then, and why was I lying in a bloodied mattress in another person’s home at night. I even briefly considered the fact that maybe I got into a terrible accident and the owner of this house was my saviour who lugged me inside to treat my wounds. I could imagine myself being lifted princess style in the arms of a dashing knight in shining armour. Although, I can’t imagine for the life of me that if that was the case, why did I wake up almost naked and covered still in blood. If that was also the case, why was there a gun in the room I woke up in and where was this knight in shining armour.
This further culminated in the question that why had I not encountered another human since I woke up. Then I remembered the gun I found in the room I initially woke up in and did away with such notions. Perhaps I shouldn’t have left it behind after all. As I stumbled into the sitting room, I realized with a mixture of horror and relief that maybe I shouldn’t have been so worried after all because lying face down was a scrawny fairly tall white man dead in a pool of what I imagine to be his own blood. A few feet away from him is a bat with a fine coat of blood lying next to a welcome mat ominously printed with the words ‘The World went silent while we died’.
About the Writer
Enoch Akinlabi is an undergraduate law student of the University of Lagos. He loves stories in whatever form they come. He also loves to create worlds through his words for readers to lose themselves in for a short while