LURKING IN THE SHADOWS
For some days now, my dog has been acting weird. Not the “crazy weird” but the “scared weird.” When I got off work for today, I went to the market to get some food for my dog and I. Maybe, feeding her senseless would work better. After I got everything I needed and paid, I took a cab home.
The house I lived in was one of the many old houses that are situated at the farthest end of the town of… I keep forgetting the weird name of that village-town I just moved to in Abeokuta for my NYSC service but I loved the place.
It was peaceful and the natives were friendly and as normal as “normal” could get, not that I was complaining. Except for the children I had to teach and scream at all day before they could get a single thing into their dull, thick, hollow heads, everything else was fine. I was comfortable and got everything I needed. I got free and fresh farm products from most of the natives who were parents of the students at my school sometimes as thanks for teaching their kids which believe me, tastes better than the ones I buy in the market. That sounded abnormal.
Most of my neighbors were also corpers like me and they were quite friendly too, but we all had our lives to live and work to go to, so an opportunity to make new friends with any of them never came. I heard Pine’s consistent barking that was laced with fear as I opened the door to my self-con. Whatever got her this worked up and scared was doing a good job, because Pine was never scared. She was small but bold, and she was cute and white and fluffy, she was the perfect dog. I opened my arms to her and brought her to my chest, letting her smell me as I scratched her head lovingly.
This had been our routine for some days now. Truthfully, I was getting scared too. I had spoken to some of the people around especially the villagers, but they didn’t see anything strange and they couldn’t stop her from barking all day long because I always locked her up in the house until I got back from work. At night, I fed Pine to the brim with the hope that she would sleep deeply and not cry out in fear all through the night like she had been doing every other night.
I woke up to the sound of Pine’s whimpers, her nails scratching at the wooden door of the house. I checked the time by my bedside, it was just 3:45 am. Grabbing my phone and sighing sadly, I switched my phone’s torch on as I made my way to the living room where Pine slept and then, I realized she had stopped scratching and whimpering. Maybe she had been having bad dreams but, do dogs have dreams? I gasped in shock as I took in the sight before me, my entire body shaking in fear. Pine was dead!
I couldn’t move from my spot as I saw her body lying lifelessly on the floor, her white fur stained with her blood, the white tiles glowing a deep red in the semi-darkness that surrounded the room. I ran to her and choked out a sob that soon turned into cries. I screamed, not minding that my neighbors would be disturbed, screw them. I just lost my friend and baby.
Pine was dead. After crying for hours as it seemed, I calmed down and started to think. What could have killed her? How did whatever it was got in? I shakily rose from my squat beside Pine, slowly and carefully making my way to the light switch by the door. Should I just bolt or check the house? I shook my head in fear as I made it to the switch, there was no way I was sticking around to play Wonder woman. I never got to switch the light on or make my way out of the apartment as I was torn away from the wall, leaving behind a trail of Pine’s blood as I was dragged from the living room to mine. I screamed and kicked and shouted for help as I heard an unearthly shriek come from behind me.
Turning around, I saw nothing but dark mist hovering over me, and in the middle of that darkness, I made out red, beady eyes with the scariest set of razor-sharp fangs I have ever seen. I screamed as it shrieked again and ran as it lunged at me with a murderous glint in its eyes. I got to the kitchen and switched the light on, taking two knives from my collection as it came closer, it felt like it was having fun, scaring its sport shitless before pouncing on them. I cried and closed my eyes as it shrieked again but this time in pain. I opened my eyes and saw it floating by the doorway, unable to get in. What could have happened?
I watched amused as it shrank and shrieked, moving away from the light in the kitchen. That was it! The light. I started to think of a way to get out of the kitchen but the lights in the living room weren’t on. My phone… Ignoring its shrieks outside the kitchen, I looked for my phone and found it on the floor by the door. The torch was still on so I took it and pointed it at the monster for added effect to keep it away from me. Then, I called some of the neighbors that I had been nice enough to get their numbers on my first day here, telling them to get out of their rooms, call the others, and make sure to have torchlights on them, stay together as a group and call for help.
I was scared there might be others outside but being outside was better than being cooped up in a small space like this, no matter how big it really was. An idea popped in my head and it was crazy, but I decided I didn’t care about anything else but my life at the moment. I turned the gas on as i blocked out its shrieks from getting to me. I was sure I would be traumatized after this night, but I had to stay alive to be traumatized, right? I began to choke on the smell of gas as it got stronger, grabbing the lighter on the counter along with my phone, I began my journey out of the kitchen.
I watched as it screamed in anger when it saw me, I couldn’t wrap my head around how relentless it was. I aimed my torch directly at its red eyes as I slowly got closer to it with every step, watching it shrink from my phone’s light. I was almost at the door now, and I made a quick dash towards the switch by the door, switching it on and jumping back in fear at its insanely loud shrieks. I opened the door and screamed at my neighbors to get back as I threw in the lit lighter before closing the door and running as far as my tired legs could carry me as my house exploded, the force of it throwing me away like a rag doll. It deserved to burn. For killing Pine, for hurting us, and making us terrified in our own home, it deserved every bit of the fire that ate it up. I cried as I thought of my dog, curling into myself as the November cold harshly bit into my skin.
The whole town was up because of the explosion as they all tried to stop the fire, while I sat helplessly on the ground in my nightgown, basking in the joy of hearing the last of its screams as the raging fire swallowed it up. The landlord came and as we talked about the burnt building which, thankfully was the only one affected by the fire, I rolled my eyes when he threatened to sue me for arson, to which I shut him up with the money I offered him to pay for the damages and renovation of the building that I was never coming back to. You’d be surprised by how literate and smart these landlords have become. That same morning, I called my parents to come and take me away from there, without Pine.