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      Where should I begin? I could begin by telling you about this comely boy, whom every notable person around the streets agrees his smile could charm the bills off one. Between one smile, there was his goodness, his dreams and humanity—a little far ahead?— but why not? If I opened you to the future and its anxieties, and a thump you long since squashed down—an hour ago—is resurfacing, then we can start small.

     Small? When small, he ran all over the place, showing teeth in a thousand grins—too far again? Then let’s be grounded in the present. Let’s pop the parachute and stay on the ground. With the sand and stones. 

     In the waking world, he was competent and handsome. But between his next smile, he'd snatched an old man's staff who had called him stupid and watched as the old man's hips danced to a beat as it struggled to retrieve the staff. For the blind woman who begged down the street, he urinated in her drinking bowl and watched as her tongue tried to discern the foreigners in her mouth. All those bemusing actions also came with a cleaver tongue which amused the boys. These were flaws which besmirched him, as you know, it’s rare he hasn't done anything wrong in the midst of all he did right; they can’t be good without evil, head without tail, and we’re not here to throw stones, rather to talk. Talk about the monster that slithered in through the open window in the night, when god’s eyes were closed. What changed his waking world, traumatizing, till a man grew out within the boy. 

     Let’s get intimate with him. Samuel Ola. We have gotten intimate—not as a mother to her child or husband to wife, intimate nonetheless. Let’s get more intimate: Samuel lived in a modest flat. The only son out of three children. A second; and like all second’s, he wanted his word to be heard. If you could avoid the trouble of going through his sister before gaining the blank knowledge of his own existence then you've made a loyal….     

     Samuel stretched his legs, and it scraped along the opposite blue walls. In a moment, it touched the tiled floors and his elbow leaned heavily on them. His face in a grimace. The house heard a plop, like a baby falling headfirst into a well, and then his face gave way. Repeat the process—

     “Samuel, flush, then begin again!”

     “Don’t kill us here, Samuel."

      Samuel. Samuel. Samuel!


     Those girls had decimated the mood; liquid hate almost charred his face. He launched up from the seat, swashing the paper he was trying to read and before getting down to the last business, he looked out the window. The other flat laid opposite theirs, green from the moss, transforming into a hulk with a sea of waste and rubbish at center stage keeping both buildings in line. It dawned on him they left the sewer open and his eyes remained there, vacant. 

     Something could live down there. Fester. Hibernate. Something horrible; flung out from hell.

     He jerked as he suddenly felt feverish, did a hurried job and made out. Left the window open as he could bear the reproach from his mother but not the taunts from his sister's vile mouths. 

     At almost midnight, eyes dropped shut. His younger sister, Kiera, stretched like a stick, brown and unmoving and next to her snored Esther. The shrill voice of a woman got through the haze of dreams. The woman was probably screaming about the open window. About insect or cockroaches or worms crawling into their house; about the sanctity of the night—

     He was already asleep.

     Samuel’s woes didn’t start the following day or the days after. It began slowly and progressively, akin to a lump in the breast: where he would find himself staring out from the bathroom window, at the vast void that remained. With thoughts of a darkness, something unholy festering away from the light, probably slinking through the urine and puke and popping out at night to hunt. And as if on instinct, he jumps back, his heart thundering. 

     One night, Kiera stood on her tippy-toes and peered over his shoulder. “What are you always looking at?”

    “You don’t feel it," he answered. “There in that dark hole, something… lives. I’ve seen it. Something dreadful with two large, golden eyes."

     “Don’t lie.” Her breath caught in her lungs, as if she had never felt troubled around him.

     “Heard it even,” he whispered on ominously, “splashing through all that shit, dragging around its fat—from all those digested—only waiting till night so it can hunt more. You've probably heard the screams. The howls. Polo says he had.” Samuel watched her shudder and smiled a sick smile. “All those children whose parents—” 

     She felt it, something brush up against her leg and she was already skittering out, his villainous crackling in pursuit. 

     Glanced back at the sewer. That should teach her, he thought with a bastardized grin. Girls putting their nose where it doesn’t belong. And the big mouth on them. He sighed good-naturally, jumping back a breath later as if struck. Heart logged between his throat. The stuff of fear. Playing morbid tricks with the mind and feeling… feeling dread bubbling, rising with the hisses and howls and roars and the body is ploughed in euphoria. Kiera had Esther and their gossip and whatever, this he had. 

     An interest. A peak. A long glance. Staring at each other, under fluorescent moon, till the heart cries out. 

     An uneasy peak. An interest. Blink and miss it. Longer glances. That uneasy peak turned obsessional and insidious obsession can be dangerous, owing to if we really witness half the things our mind conjures, because think of the devil….

     Samuel had a dream. Ada was in front of him. Taking the form of a rabbit. She came soft and yielding, unlike in reality, where his brute persistence had gained only scorn. But she came with nothing to play with, so he held the bunny by the sternums and pressed like he’ll do her breast—hard and unrelenting, until he heard her pop. He had another dream, where he stood before a door, cockroaches crowding around his legs. A loud shudder came from within. He moved, pressing his left ear against the door, and listened. Not a sound was heard, as if the knowledge that it was on the other side with an ear also pressed against the door was enough for it. He waited, tensed. And the only sound that came afterwards was his heartbeat with another dark epiphany: the roaches too were scared. He tried to gulp, and they struggled into his mouth.  

     Samuel woke up, laying popped up on his elbows; now, he knew there was no difference between his dream and his waking world. It was only the spiritual waiting to manifest in the physical, still, when his eyes adjusted to the minimal light from the window, he sucked in yellowed saliva. At the edge of the bed, his younger sister was entering a hole full of sharp knives. He could see something awful, huge as an elephant and almost 30 meters long, if he got it right—for his brain was quickly turning to mush. It could pass for a snake, the kind which existed during the dinosaur’s era.

     And it slurped his sister like… like if she was some slurpee. Kiera craned towards him, white as paper, despite her natural coloring. She looked at him in stupefaction and then, curtained by knives. 

     He saw. It was neither human nor animal, neither dinosaur nor reptile. No snake will ever lay claim to it. Something odd. Something—

     Samuel stayed rooted to the bed as its gleeful large, golden eyes waltzed towards him. He had a distant feeling of the bed warming, followed by something hot—he was vegetative, the only feeling he had being sight. 

     See, its enormous head bared the unholy harmony, a ghastly intimacy between a man and a beast: scales that glittered white as snow, with luscious black hair, bone straight. Its demonic eyes held on and it seemed to be smirking, and with its tongue flicked out—human-like but forked—seemed to be hissing with eerie surety, “Aha! The ecstasy. You knew. You enjoyed it, didn’t you? Yes, you did.”

     There came an imperceptible nod.


     “My boy,” a heavy laden voice began, “when the orderly with the good doctor Bose, said you cried about needing to confess to a priest, I wondered why?”

     For my soul, …cause… maybe… cause maybe—

     “—and I don’t believe what you need me to believe. I'll listen and listen because what am I, if not a servant? But what are you trying to say?”

     The wiry man bent rigidly on the stool, lifted his eyes that were now forever blotted, staring viciously at the priest, askance. He couldn’t see the face of the priest through the closely criss-crossed wooden panel that demarcated them, but the man knew the priest had two heads. Less beastly than the thing, less even than the female therapist they had inculcated him to see. All girls, he thought absently, were what they were anyway. And started violently: had he not listened? How could he fail to understand? He wasn’t Samuel anymore! Not Sam! Or the boy Samuel Ola! Or Ola! 

     He is a lisp! The man felt like screaming it, until it became absolute certainty. A dull, barren land. A brown hole that the wind doesn’t even holler and nobody bothers to check if hit hard—

     The priest spoke again, and the man threw his face up—and the light saw a face, old and wrinkled; a face almost certainly pushing thirty, but the ancient light knew all under its luminous glow and knew only a few months ago, this was a boy—and was already murmuring, “I. Will. Finish. Let. Us. Be. Free.”

     He peered at the listening black cassock, beyond the calling blackness, trying to regain a string of thought lost. Arguing erroneously within himself about the aftermath during that night, which changed his life forever. Quivering; his body rejecting the mind’s imposition. A tug of war was suggested. Both emancipated contenders stood on opposite sides and began— 

     When Samuel rose from his torpor, he couldn’t tell his cheek from his tongue; a mere shadow or thousand hung shadows; seeing yet unseeing, hearing yet deaf, awake yet dead. Couldn’t tell what time it was, day or night. Languidly, he crossed the room into the hallway and found the trail of filth and slime between the hall and the bathroom and the putrescence; the stench couldn’t be any worse than the urine and excrement which circled, streaking down one leg. 

     The wide-open window closed in on him in silent accusation.

     But there remains one. Maybe… maybe forgotten. 

     God, please…


     Dry tongue lay out as white soulless eyes found a second trial; his unraveling complete.

    Streaming tears and poop, he reeled into the living room. Pushed on by the emptiness of his soul. His knees faltered, giving way, and he screamed a horrible trembling sound. The ground seems to be shaking, but it was only the child-like wail wracking him. The cold wind, his companion, swelling, beseeching louder and louder. By him, around him, through him. Shaking him like a doll, stretching him, begging him while being his only companion.

     “Mummy, mummy, someone is screaming.” 

     “Blood of Jesus!” the woman rushed, slapping the back head of the child. “Get away from the window!”

     The child placed a palm on the affected spot, on the verge of tears but still willed by enthusiasm said, “But I heard someone crying.”

     The woman looked out the window, slowly bewildered by the viscosity in the air. It’s like that one time she walked home from church by 1am and one gigantic nameless Bob was coming in front. He was moving quickly but maybe not moving at all. She remembered closing her eyes and singing every hymn and worship to her creator. She opened those eyes later and even if she will never look back, from craving to be curled near a furnace under loads of blankets, he had passed. 

     Remembering a voice had asked her a question, she piloted the voice towards her skirt, patting it gently, hurriedly as she did the curtains. “It’s witches. This is the time they operate.”

     “But it sounds like the black cat, grandma…”

     “...Blood of Jesus. Blood of Jesus, cover my family.” The woman prayed, backing away. She carried the child in her arms, admonishing in an urgent whisper, “Don’t look outside after midnight. It belongs to everything evil; this is the time they operate. Do you understand?”

     And because the child always understood things the hard way, since she resembled her dad more—and her mother despised absolutely everything relating to her dad and his mother, who she considered a witch—she didn’t tell her mother to look back. To see as she saw. Maybe her mother was the witch.


This was obtained years later after an abrupt conversation between Samuel and the priest.

 Priest: How are you doing, my boy?

Samuel: Fine.

Priest: They are treating you all right?

Samuel: Yes.

Priest: I heard from Bose that you have been suffering from nightmares, waking up patients?

Samuel: Yes.

Priest: Is it the monster again? That snakelike creature?

Samuel: Is it my mother or my sisters? Or both. They all resemble each other. 

Priest: That's good news—

Samuel: They keep pleading to free them or free myself; I can't tell which one.

Priest: They came to comfort you.

Samuel: They never came before—when my brain was scrambled. Now they wait for me every night.

Priest: What are you saying?

Samuel: Sometimes I see them, in the mornings or afternoons.

Priest: Free them from what?

Samuel: Keep saying I should confess.

Priest: Confess to what?

Samuel: Give them a proper burial.

Priest: Oh, God! Boy, what have you done?

Samuel: Nothing. I don't know. I don't remember.

Priest: Were they eaten by a snake? 

Samuel: I think I saw the snake eat them.

Priest: Tell me now, boy. Why is your conscience eating you up?

Samuel: I don't know! I don't know!

Priest: Tell me, Samuel. Confess!

Samuel:They-were-one-night-I-think-I-kil-I-saw-the-snake-eat-them. Yes, the monster.

Priest: Sit down, Samuel!

Samuel: My name is not Samuel! 

Priest: Sorry, sit down. What are you doing? Samuel, drop that! My boy, stop! Help! Oh God! Oh God!


Ano Chinemerem is a writer and editor based in Enugu, Nigeria. He enjoys reading different fiction genres; when he no longer takes pleasure in doing nothing, he begins exploring intrusive thoughts.


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