The kiosks swamped into many shapes before her eyes, monsters with enormous fangs hanging out, clowns ready to do the Penny the Clown dance, all coming for her, with arms wide spread.
“Stop it, stop it,” she reprimanded her mind.
She walked briskly down the road, almost sure she could hear footsteps behind her.
It’s my mind, it’s only a figment of my imagination, she chanted as she increased her pace.
The footsteps behind her increased too and she could feel the hot breath on her neck as the stalker came closer, closer still. She took in a sigh of relief at the sight of her apartment and took the stairs to the refuge of her room.
Kamsi, the Unafraid, the wind whispered behind her as she bolted her door against her fears.
It was an aftermath of watching Drag Me to Hell, she tried to convince herself. The movie was not as scary as she hoped; maybe it was but she had stiffened her neck and barricaded her mind against the invasion of fear.
She watched only horror movies, thrilled by the sharp sounds, the bells tingling, the exorcism, the wails of the tormented and the sinister laugh of the tormentor.
Her laptop ran a list: Along Came the Devil, The Nun, The Curse of La Rona, Countdown, IT, Truth or Dare. There were other movies though: a scattering and a handful of vampire movies, graphic description of monsters with bloodsucking desires.
She had the reputation of being the unafraid in her family while growing up—the one who could go out in the middle of the night to take a leak without as much as a flashlight, much less a companion.
Her father always said, “Kamsi adịghị atụ egwu.”
Kamsi, the Unafraid, Slayer of Dragons, the Batterer of Demons.
And so she embraced both name and reputation, refusing anything otherwise, refusing to scream even when the plantain trees became monsters coming for her, with large gangly arms flailing in the wind, even when someone whispered her name in the dead of the night.
She bit down her screams, electing to raise her voice in her eardrum-mauling soprano, choosing to let the tones which pierced the night drown her fears in an ocean of melody.
It was a week after her uncle died, a week after she had looked into his cold, dead eyes as he lay on the couch, battered, broken and of course breathless. She shut out the memories in a vault, locked it up and threw the key into the deep blue sea of forgetfulness.
But one escaped, one memory she could never smother was her squatting near the orange tree, her pants around her legs, about to do her business when her flashlight fell on him standing few feet away, gazing at her with a dark sadness in his eyes.
It was him all right, clad in his favorite white shorts, barechested.
It was seven days since he died. But scream, she didn’t. She walked into the house, the pressing in her bowels gone and told her mother, “I just saw Uncle Godwin.”
“Ghosts don’t exist, baby,” her mother said.
She fixed herself a cup of coffee.
“Nonsense, mama,” she said out loud. I know who I saw.
She took a sip, feeling the coffee burn her throat and burn her into reality.
It was no time to dwell on fantasy, such things do not exist.
It still thrilled her, left a watery yet sugary taste in her mouth each time she sat before the screen to see another horror movie. Because she knew that each time the movie was over, the horror ended. And no matter how heart-stopping the movie was, no matter how terrifying the sounds were, all ended with the flick of the switch and those monsters with all antics could not jump out of the screen at her.
So much for horror movie, she thought. She hissed contemptuously and got into bed.
Soon she was awake. The room was too chilly for comfort, she reached for the remote of the AC to flip it off, but good, old air conditioner was off. There was no power supply.
She reached for her flashlight which was on the bedside drawer and flicked it on. A cold gust of wind blew on her face and a powerful kick sent the flashlight flying in the air. It landed near the door, still on.
Then she saw him. Uncle Godwin; he stood there looking at her with brown soulful, sorrowful eyes. There was another with him and another and another and another and another.
And the scream came finally. A scream long overdue. Accompanied by dry coughs and stuttering and fear.
She screamed again and again till her voice bailed out on her and went hoarse. For in her room standing with her late uncle were the monsters from the various horror movies she had watched. And they were reaching for her, bearing down on her.
“You’ll float with me dear,” the clown assured.
IT is coming for you.