The wind kept whooshing as the thick dark clouds stayed motionless in the sky, although they had roared over a hundred times. Leaves around and trees whirled up and down in space, flying in different directions, making the atmosphere look quite frightening. Lightnings took over as several straight bright lines drew all over the sky. From a distance, one could hear the eerie cries of bats and could see them fly breathlessly, looking for trees that could stand the vast strength of the howling wind. Tall and thick grasses parted into strands for the rushing wind.
Suddenly, a din sounded from afar and every other disruptive activity ceased. The clouds swallowed up their roars; the dirts fell back to the earth; the lightnings submerged into the clouds; the bats stopped flapping their wings and the moonlight became fainter as the moon withdrew its rays slowly into the clouds. The wind also became cold.
Then a figure surfaced from the dark. It stood as a man would but it was not a man. It had a round trilby on its head and a black cloak fell from its shoulders to the ground. It also had long, black hairs which fell from beneath its hat and poured around its shoulders. Under its hat was a pale face, and at the cuffs of its cloak, fell pale fingers. Its eyes blazed with fury and it spat a pall of heated air from its mouth. Its huffy steps carried along with them air of strong heat which wilted the plants around, leaving them lifeless. Drops of red covered the ground beside its feet as it moved. It pulled its fingers to take a look at them. They dripped of red. Taking them a little closer to its mouth, it licked the red and gave a deep sigh of disappointment. The red tasted sour.
It kept walking in a speed of rage and stumbled on a bundled sackcloth lying on its path. Then stopped to pick it. Its spirit was angered again at the sight and it screamed in disgust of its escaped prey. Looking at the sackcloth, it snapped its fingers once and from nowhere, the once-gone wind resurfaced to take the object away. The pale-faced figure turned around and kept walking, heading back to where it had emerged.
Then, the troubled clouds returned. The dim moonlight blotted into abyss. The bats resumed flapping their wings. And like a thief in the night, the rains poured from the sky without warning.
In the ancient city of Yaba, the morning was calm and quiet. The sky was filled with beautiful sets of rainbow colours after the heavy rain which fell the night before. Different birds assembled into groups as they flew across the sky, rendering melodious tunes. The sun had risen earlier, promising a brighter day.
Along the street of Iwaya, petty traders sprawled their wares on top of overflowing gutters and beckoned on passersby to patronize them. Rickshaws and okada riders lined on each side of the road too, each either yelling “Sabo-Yaba!” or “Obalende!” Commercial bus drivers joined in the beehive of activities, beckoning on passengers who were going their direction.
A young maiden could be seen making her way into Iwaya road from an adjourning street. She was approaching a tomato seller by the roadside when she noticed a black Toyota Camry driving slowly behind her. She realized it was the car which had been trailing her for some time now. She quickly changed directions and walked into one of the stores nearby. A fat and roughly dressed boy sat at the counter, his eyes fixated on a newspaper.
“I need…” the young maiden said, looking out of the stores window for the Toyota Camry. It was parked under a tree close by. “I need a tin of Peak Milk,” she said.
The boy at the counter pointed to a shelf without lifting his face from the paper. The young woman walked to the row where the shelf stood. She looked through the row but could not find what she had asked for.
“It is not here,” she said.
The floor of the row was littered with tiny pieces of papers and nylon bags, suggesting the store had not been swept that morning.
“The next row,” the fat boy said from the counter.
The lady walked to the next row, looking through the shelf for the milk section on the shelf. There was no milk section.
“It is not here,” she said, frustrated.
“Check the next row,” the boy screamed from the counter.
The lady walked to the next row between the shelves. No milk section.
At this point, the fat boy raised his head from the paper he was reading.
“What did you say you were looking for again?”
“Oh,” the boy scoffed. “We are out of Peak Milk,” he said with a smile on his face. “But we do have Three Crowns.”
The lady walked to the counter in a speed of rage. Just as she was about to give the fat boy at the counter a piece of her mind, she observed from the window beside the boy that, the Toyota Camry outside the store had left its parking spot. She heaved a sigh of relief and walked out of the store.
Why would anyone trail you? A voice in her head asked as she walked on the gutter slabs. The young lady shrugged. Then she looked back at the spot where the Toyota Camry had parked. The car was back there like it had never left.
“Oh my God,” she gasped.
She could hear the engine of the car start. Then it started moving towards her from behind. At this point, she had only one thought: Run back home.
And so, she started running. As she ran, she kept looking over her shoulders for the car. It rode slowly behind. She increased her pace.
A voice called her but she was too worried to hear.
“Hey wait! Catherine!”
She heard the last call and halted. She turned around and saw Ehiz standing a few metres from her. She had run past him without noticing. Ehiz was casually dressed in a blue sleeveless shirt and a denim short. He had a groceries bag in his hand. On Catherine sighting him, she summoned some courage and ran towards him, hoping that the Toyota Camry would keep on moving until it was out of sight. Catherine was shocked when the car halted and parked under another tree not too far away from where she and Ehiz stood. Catherine pretended not to see it and hugged Ehiz as tight as she could. Ehiz was forced to drop what he had in his hands and wrapped his hands around her as if to squeeze away her fears.
“Ehiz, oh Ehiz..Thank God…” Catherine sobbed. Dollops of tears rolled down her cheeks as she took another glance at the car. It was still waiting under the tree.
“Why are you running?” Ehiz asked. Catherine kept sobbing. “Everything is okay now,” Ehiz consoled.
“This time it is real,” Catherine said.
“What is …”
“Look over there,” Catherine said, pointing to the tree where the car is parked. “Just look, it is there.”
Ehiz followed her finger.
“I can’t see anything there.”
“It is there. Just look under that tree…I mean that one.” Catherine held Ehiz’ chin, trying to direct his face towards the car. Ehiz focused on the big tree which she was showing him but could not spot any car under it. He shook his head and said, “there’s nothing there, Cat. It’s all in your head.”
“No, Ehiz,” Catherine protested. “There is a black Toyota Camry parked under that tree. It has been trailing me…”
Ehiz heaved a sigh. “I thought it was over. You still see these things?”
“Ehiz, there is a car under that tree!”
“Cat, there is nothing there… Have you had your pills today?”
“What?” Catherine asked softly. “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” Then she sobbed some more.
“Cat, you have to take your meds…When last did you check with your doctor? We can go today…”
“Never. I’ll be fine.” With those words, Catherine decided to leave as she could not find solace in Ehiz’ words. The last thing she wanted was to go back to her therapist, Dr. Segun Eletu.
“Hey Cat, come back,” Ehiz called. “Where are you going to?”
As Catherine walked with her eyes filled with tears, she decided to take another look at the Toyota Camry under the tree. It was gone.
About ten/eleven years ago, I had a muse for a story. The story was so compelling in my head and it involved exploring some unusual themes and characters. So I penned down the story. It was supposed to be a not-too-long story. But as I kept writing, the plot expanded. By the end of the day (which was about two years), I had hand-written a full length manuscript of 320 pages. I already briefly talked about how I lost the typed out version of the manuscript in my “About HaroldWrites” page. Anyway, over the years, I have toyed with the idea of resurrecting that story. I still have the hand-written copies. You can find the picture of them below. They consist of about four 80 leaves “Higher Education” notebooks.
The 5th notebook in that picture is another manuscript. You can even make out the tentative title of that one in the picture. Long story.
Anyway, with regards to the 1st set of manuscripts, over the years, I have read and re-read and read yet again the story but for some reason I have not been able to decide if I want to go ahead with publishing it as a book, or even, putting it out there for anyone to read. The only person who has read the story is my brother…some eight years ago. And he liked it.
One thing is certain. If I ever decide to put it out there for the public to read I’ll definitely cut out some subplots. I may even have to re-write the story -you know, tweak the plot and characters… And that is the part that scares me (and wears me out). Re-writing a story!
At this moment, I thought I should share a part of the story with you. Let me know what you think of it in the comment section below. And oh, you can suggest a title for the story/book. I love catchy titles. The story is of the gothic/horror genre. Have you read any gothic/horror works from African authors? Can you help me out with a few titles? I think Nnedi Okorafor writes African fantasies/sci-fis. Any African gothic/horror works out there?