Bello set her down gently, they were at the edge of what looked like the village square. The place was filled with people and arranged all around were logs of wood on which people sat. The arrangement of the logs formed a semi-circle facing a large tree. Bello couldn’t make out the kind of tree, but it was really tall. And in front of that tree sat a young woman, maybe not more than thirty. She seemed to be talking, but from where they stood on the edge he couldn’t make out what she was saying.
“Finally, we are seeing people. I am tired and need a drink badly.”
As if in cue, a bowl of water was handed to him. He didn’t know when the other woman approached them, but he wasn’t going to question the speed at which a refreshing bowl of water was produced. He smiled at her, took the bowl and took a large gulp. He handed the bowl to Feyi, who also took a small sip and handed the bowl to Jumoke.
Nkechi followed the motions been made by her friends as if she was watching a movie. They were acting a pantomime to which she didn’t have the script. Her head and eyes followed Bello as he took his hand to his mouth as if drinking from a cup, then hand the invincible cup to Feyi who did same and handed it to Jumoke. She was very scared now. Something was going on here that makes her skin crawl. She knew in her heart they were now definitely in a ghost town. Her friends were acting weird, very weird.
Jumoke stretched her hand towards her, handing over the imaginary cup. Nkechi looked at her, trying to figure out what has changed. She would have missed it in the moonlight if she wasn’t looking. She saw that her eyes were turned slightly upwards, like she was in a trance or a fit. She looked at Feyi and Bello and found a similar change in their eyes. She took a step backwards from her friend’s outstretched hands.
“I don’t want that. And I seriously think we should leave here. This place is not safe and you guys are acting very weird,” Nkechi clutched her rosary, praying in her mind for God’s protection from all evils and calling on Mary the Mother of Christ to deliver her from the jaws of the demons that inhabit the land of Igbehin Adun.
“You are the one who have been acting very weird Nkechi,” Jumoke snapped at her. “You had to be carried on Bello’s shoulders for us to get into this very nice place, and if not for you we should even have been in Irupe by now.”
“Can’t you all see? There are no people here. The village is empty and there are only logs of wood surrounding a tree. Why are you people hallucinating? And someone should please explain to me, what were you putting in your mouths?”
All three of her friends looked at her, their funny eyes boring holes in her skin. She took another step back, very much now scared for her safety even among her friends.
“We were drinking from the water the very kind woman standing beside you offered us,” Feyi replied.
Nkechi suddenly felt her skin go hot, she was standing beside someone she couldn’t see. She turned around and began to run back towards the way they had come. If her friends are going to be snared into a ghost village, she needs to get out before it is too late to get help.
She ran as fast as she could, but she hadn’t gone far before she tripped cracking her head against a tree trunk and slipping into unconsciousness.
When she woke up, she found herself tied to a tree. Her clothes were gone, but she still had the rosary. Her head ached, but there was a bigger problem to worry about.
In front of her were her friends, all tied up in similar fashion and all without their clothes. They were all unconscious too. What have they gotten themselves into? She didn’t see anyone around. In fact, she had not seen anyone since they stepped foot in Igbehin Adun village, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a presence here. Their being tied up was enough evidence that what her friends told her was true. There were people here, only they weren’t people in the sense of living human beings. She glanced to her side and saw nothing, but she could feel the presence of people or spirits around them. Maybe she couldn’t see them, but they are all there. She closed her eyes and started praying.
It was the scream that made her open her eyes. It was coming from Feyi and it was horrible. She couldn’t imagine the kind of pain he was in, but seeing the blood as it gushed from just below his neck, dividing his chest into two she knew he must be in great pain indeed. And as if that was not enough, she saw his ears detach from his head. She saw no visible knives or any other object. They just came off, and where there used to be ears were just two holes through which blood poured out. Feyi continued to scream, louder and louder as his body parts continued to disappear. His screams woke Jumoke and Bello, and they too joined him in screaming as Feyi’s body parts were chopped off one by one.
Nkechi was beyond screaming. She was like in another world, shielded away from what was going on before her eyes. She could see, she could hear but she didn’t seem part of it. As was before she could sense Bello and Jumoke saw more than she saw, probably they saw the knives or the people as they cut and ate parts of their friend. This though she couldn’t see and experience. But, she sure saw his body parts disappearing into thin air. One by one, the nose went so did the eyes which came off their sockets with a sickening popping sound, which left her peeing all over her body.
At this point, Feyi was beyond screaming and she was beyond consciousness. She was in a surreal state of existence, one which seemed like she was watching a show reel. After a few minutes, all that was left of Feyi was just the barebones of his skeletons hanging loose from the rope that had been used to tie him up.
Bello, his eyes rolling wildly as if he was trying to keep a ferret in his sights, was now himself acting like someone who is surrounded by a band of predatory carnivores.
Nkechi could not help, but she tried her best. “Bello, you have to be strong and pray. We are not in the land of the living. And whatever happens here tonight, I love…”
The rest of the words were cut off her tongue as Bello’s heart-stopping howl cut through the night. The flesh on his long, finely structured fingers were disappearing before her eyes. Left behind were straggly bones and a trail of blood where once there was flesh. She could not bear to watch, the scream came fast and loud. She was praying, but her prayer could not stop the man she loved from disappearing before her eyes, piece by piece. Her faith was strong, but her sins must sure have hindered any of her prayers from being answered. She momentarily stopped praying, doubting whether she or anyone had the hope of ever getting out of this hell.
She closed out his screams, and closed her eyes to the brutally dismembered and disembowelled body of the man she once loved and cared about. He was no longer screaming now. The shock of the pain must have helped his mind slip into unconsciousness, the body’s natural defence against pain and sudden shock.
As if by some divine prompting, Nkechi felt a vigour she could not explain take charge of her. She remembered what her granny used to tell her while she was studying back home in Nekede, “the devil is always out to deceive and devour. All you have as your protection is your faith and will never to be deceived to doubt the efficacy of prayers.”
The memory rekindled in her the verve to resume her prayers. However, this time, she prayed aloud. She prayed like she had never prayed before in her life. Her life and the life of her friend depended on it. She quoted portions of the Bible she didn’t recognize or knew she could remember. Her body grew remarkably hot and sweaty as her vigorous prayer reached a crescendo. She had her eyes closed and her body tight, only her head moved and jerked as she prayed.
As if by some miraculous hands, her body began to shake. It was involuntary and uncontrollable. She shook from toe to her head. Then the voice came to her.
Open your eyes child.
And she opened her eyes. What she saw chilled her to the bones.
Jumoke’s head was off on the ground. She could also now see the figures in the moonlight. White-robbed women, all very old and all very bloody. They were crowded around the tree directly hers where Jumoke had been tied. Others were struggling to grapple with her head on the ground dragging it up and down like it was tied to a rope, the way children play with St. Louis sugar packs tied to ropes back in the village.
Where her head used to be, there was now a thick flow of blood spouting from the cauterized wound. Her body was jerking, somewhat in similar motion to that of her now severed head, as the life drained out of her body.
Nkechi knew it won’t be long now before it was her turn. She knew the same fate that had befallen her friends was hers once the spirits were done with Jumoke. She closed her eyes again, resigned to her fate.
Keep your eyes open, child.
The voice was gentle and reassuring.
Tonight, you do not die but live.
With those words, and as if lifted by a divine hand she found herself slip from the knots she had been tied with.
She fell to the grass with a silent thud, and quickly got up and ran. Her steps were not hers as she ran. She seemed to have a force propelling her forwards and towards safety. She briefly looked back to see if her escape had been noticed.
Do not look back, child.
So, onwards and forwards she pressed. Her thoughts not hers and her actions no longer hers. In no time, she had left Igbehin Adun behind, her friends and loved one lost to the untold story of a small village in the middle of nowhere where unsuspecting commuters are lured to an untimely death.
– The End –
“Lost Pt. 3” was written by ShaiOnTheProwl
Read more short stories by the RebelKween here