Dark clouds passed away from the moon and a violent wind began. Omasan hugged herself against the cold and stood there in the darkness, searching her heart to see if she felt any regret at what she had just done but there wasn’t even as much as a tug. Instead, there was a wicked smile begging to spread out her lips. What was done was done. It had been a fight to the death and she had won. Hence, there was nothing left to do but head back.
The journey to Fatima Dorm was in very fast steps; it felt as though she flew there, spending seconds and not minutes. She did not realize that she still had the left stiletto in her hand until she arrived at the dorm gate and needed to open it. She paused, stared at the shoe and seriously contemplated throwing it away but her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of sobbing coming from the garden tap. Knowing the gate would creak noisily if she pushed it in, Omasan hid at an impossible angle and strained her neck to see who was crying at that witching hour. What she saw made her lose her footing and she tumbled backwards, falling to the ground.
“But she fell,” Omasan said to herself, shaking her head. Utter disbelief filled her. She had never believed in ghosts or anything supernatural before. Had Miss Boma crawled out of the pit alive or was she really dead and her spirit returned to haunt her?
The sobbing at the tap stopped and the gate creaked open seconds later. Omasan dashed out of her hiding place and ducked behind a shrub and from there watched Miss Boma leave the dorm. She studied every inch of the woman carefully for signs that she really was the same person she had pushed down Satan’s Hill but there was nothing amiss about her, not even a bruise. Her left leg was not broken and she was using it effortlessly. The only thing odd was the fact that she was walking with bare feet, holding the right stiletto in her hand.
Something brushed under Omasan and on impulse, she jumped and Miss Boma turned in her direction. Their eyes locked together in one frozen moment and Miss Boma dropped the shoe in her hand to the ground. The thing that had brushed under Omasan was a black cat belonging to the gateman. It had always enjoyed the girl’s company because she was the only one who cared enough to feed it leftovers and didn’t consider it part of the dark world as the other girls did. As it purred softly, circling round her legs, Omasan tried her best to stay still, glaring back at the ghostly vision that was Miss Boma. She desired so badly to touch her, just to know if she was real or if her silly mind was playing its usual pranks. But Miss Boma was not going to give her that opportunity; she turned around and bolted into the night.
Omasan’s first reaction was to laugh, though nothing seemed funny. The way Miss Boma took to her heels was nothing natural. She had heard many stories of ghost hauntings from the other girls but she never believed them. Now she knew ghosts were for real and they walked the same plane as humans, but for some uncanny reason, Omasan wasn’t afraid. She walked to the spot where the right stiletto had fallen, stared at it and also at the other one in her hand. Now, she had the complete pair all to herself; Miss Boma was never going near them again. The thought made her smile. She wore the shoes and shut her eyes, enjoying the moment, feeling a rush of life flowing through her. she began to sing.
Lady kois-kois is married to sa-tan…
Back in the day she was a man
With testicles inside her pants
She has no heart because it has been damned…
She laughed, spun around and enjoyed the echo of her voice as it caressed the night. With springy steps she went straight into the dorm. Yellow Room was fast asleep when she got in but she did not care. She walked right through the aisle with the loud kois-kois sound the girls knew very well, and fell right into bed without any apologies. Some of the girls stirred but they went back to sleep immediately. Miss Boma making rounds in the middle of night was a normal thing.
The next day didn’t begin very well. Omasan woke up late and found that the whole dorm was empty. How could the girls not have woken her? Even Linda, her bunkmate? Normally, she was always the last to rise from bed in the morning but Linda always woke her. Or did they leave her in bed as a prank just like they had done during her birthday?
She shut her eyes and wished she could go back to sleep again. She didn’t really feel like going for classes. Maybe if she dozed off for just thirty minutes more…
A sound coming from afar made her alert. It was the distinct steps of Miss Boma stilettos. They were slow and deliberate as they neared Yellow Room. Should she run and hide? What good would it do? Ghosts could see everything. So she remained on her bed, beneath her blanket and waited…
Kois-kois kois-kois kois-kois kois-kois kois-kois…
The sound came closer and stopped at her corner and with one swoop, her blanket was flung to the floor. Omasan kept her eyes shut and held her breath for so long until she felt she was floating. When she heard nothing more, she slowly opened her eyes. Staring down into her face was Miss Boma. Fear she had never experienced before gripped her and she screamed, covering her eyes with her hands. The entire dorm echoed her scream for a long time and after that, there was utter silence.
Omasan waited, not sure if Miss Boma was still there, praying she wasn’t. But she heard nothing, just the sound of the birds outside. Gradually, she let down her hands and uncovered her eyes and saw that she was alone. Miss Boma was gone. She sighed in relief and hurriedly slipped into her school uniform, not caring to shower. In minutes, she was on her way to class.
The day went by in an eerie manner for her and she began to believe that being haunted by a ghost was not the walk in the park she had imagined. She saw Miss Boma everywhere—at the school shop, on the path between the library and the admin block, behind the car park and in the chemistry lab. It seemed everywhere she went, the woman went also. Omasan dodged classes completely to avoid being questioned about Miss Boma since she was the last to be seen with her. She also missed other activities and hid in a dirty storeroom until late night when she felt it was time to go back to the dorm.
It was dark and cold but she didn’t feel affected by anything; all she wanted to do was lie on her bed. Yellow Room was dead quiet and the lights were out as Omasan walked in. Silently, she tiptoed to her corner and was about to climb into bed when her bunkmate, Linda, jumped off the top of the bunk, fell to the floor and began screaming hysterically. Omasan sighed and rolled her eyes. Linda and her fearful ways were about to put her into trouble. The whole room was roused by the noise and someone turned on the lights. One of the prefects, Senior Amina, walked to Linda and asked her what the matter was but the girl just kept screaming and pointing. Omasan felt like breaking her head. However, her eyes caught the reason why Linda was so terrified and she broke into a smile. The gateman’s black cat was sitting on Linda’s pillow, its tail curled around its legs as it stared at her with wild eyes.
“What are you doing here?” Omasan asked the nameless cat. “Get off the bed!” she ordered and the animal jumped to the floor. “I’ll just chase it out,” Omasan smiled at her roommates, using the opportunity to leave the room and escape the prefects’ questions about where she had been. As she and her feline friend made their way out, the girls gave room for them, hopping unto their beds and scurrying to corners.
What superstition! Omasan thought as she walked by. Outside she agonized over what lie she would tell the prefects but nothing came to mind. After she sent the cat on its way, she braced herself for any type of punishment and headed back in, but she stopped in her tracks when she heard the girls whispering.
“After she left with Miss Boma, she didn’t come back yesterday night…” someone said.
“She came back,” Linda retorted.
“Are you sure?” Senior Amina asked.
“Yes. She came in but when I called her name she pretended like she didn’t hear me. I think she even came with Miss Boma.”
“Oh, you heard the kois-kois in the night too?” another girl asked.
“Yes,” Linda replied. “But I didn’t open my eyes.”
“Me, I opened but I didn’t see any Miss Boma.” A third girl said and other girls agreed with her. They also heard Miss Boma the previous night.
“This doesn’t make sense,” Senior Amina said. “Miss Boma did not show up for classes at all today…”
“But I saw her in school,” Linda interjected. “She was at the library and admin block and even at the car park.”
“Didn’t Omasan tell you where they went to yesterday night?”
“No,” Linda answered.
“That Omasan! I wonder where she went to now, and that cat…hmmm… You girls should make sure it doesn’t enter here again. The next time it does, we’ll kill it. A black cat appearing means something bad has happened.”
Omasan drew back. Now she couldn’t go back in. Surely Senior Amina knew what she had done.
“Tomorrow, I will have to report to the principal about Omasan’s disappearing act. She needs to be punished. Her behavior is unacceptable. All of you, go back to sleep. You and you, go and lock the entrance door. If Miss Boma comes for her rounds, she will have to knock before we let her in.”
Omasan quietly but quickly ran out of the dorm as two girls exited Yellow Room to do Senior Amina’s bidding. She hurried outside and hid behind a huge mango tree near the gate and watched as the girls locked the rail doors leading into the dorm. She remained there for hours, alone and sad. She knew her time in the school was over. By morning, she would be gone. During classes, she would pack a few things and sneak out of school to her mother’s place in town. She would confess what she had done and her mother would cover up for her after a few cane lashes. But she will be safe; no one would know the truth about Miss Boma.
Omasan shivered at the thought and got up from her hiding place. Someone had rung the morning bell morning bell at the boys’ dorm. It was 4am and she knew it was time to find somewhere else to hide.
She picked an abandoned building behind the boys’ dorm, just before Satan’s Hill. There she found a plank on the floor and slept off.
At noon, Omasan woke up. A certain loud noise had stirred her. It was the sounds of men at work and it was coming from Satan’s Hill. Her heart raced wildly within her. They were digging up Miss Boma’s body and they will find it. They will also find the stilettos in her box under her bunk and they will know she killed her.
Omasan got to her feet and ran out of the building and towards Fatima Dorm to hide the evidence. Gratefully, the gates were open and she hurried in but as she stepped into Yellow Room, she was greeted by the unwelcome sight of the principal and Senior Amina at her corner. She quickly withdrew but stopped when she saw Miss Boma with them. Obviously, they couldn’t see her, even as she stood in their midst. What was she doing there?
Bravely, Omasan edged forward, aware that her clothes were dirty and she smelled. She would think of a lie on the spot and a pretty damn good one, but first, she needed to know what Miss Boma was doing there.
“Omasan didn’t come back the other night, though her bunkmate said she did. I think she was covering up for her,” Senior Amina said as Omasan approached.
“How about yesterday?” the principal asked.
“She also didn’t show up,” Senior Amina replied.
“That’s a lie,” Omasan murmured and moved towards the principal. “Good afternoon, ma,” she curtsied before her but the woman ignored her. “Good afternoon ma,” she repeated but got the same response. “Senior Amina, good…”
“Boma, you said you ordered her to throw the dirt off the hill and you went to sleep?” the principal asked, turning to Miss Boma.
“Yes ma, I did. I told her to empty just one drum and went right to sleep. If I had known the silly child would disappear into the night I would have waited for her.”
Omasan put her hand to her chest in shock. “It’s a lie! She followed me…”
The principal sighed. “Well, I pray she ran off to a relative’s place, that those men don’t dig up her dead body from that hole…”
Senior Amina began to cry and Omasan looked at them one after the other, not comprehending what she was hearing.
“Her mother is on her way,” the principal continued. “I don’t know what to tell that poor woman. Boma, you have put me in deep trouble.”
As if cued, a man in blue overalls ran into Yellow Room, panting.
“Madam, we don see am. We don see the girl!”
“And…?” the principal asked but the man shook his head sadly.
“She don die.”
Senior Amina began to wail loudly and the principal slumped into Omasan’s bed in tears.
“Oh God, I am in trouble. Her father will make sure they shut down this school for good. How could Omasan just die like that?”
“I’m not dead!” Omasan screamed and pointed at Miss Boma. “She’s the dead one! I’m alive! Look at me, ma! I’m alive! Miss Boma is the dead one! I pushed her! I am not dead! I pushed her!”
The principal stood and walked right through Omasan. “Boma, organize some girls to pack up her things. After that, you and I need to come up with a believable story about what happened to her. We cannot be blamed for her death. Amina, relate to no soul what you heard here.”
All three ladies left the room but Omasan ran after them, screaming at the top of her lungs that she wasn’t dead. No one heard her.
Outside the dorm, returning from Satan’s Hill were the construction workers and two of them were carrying something wrapped in a blanket.
“Is that her?” the principal asked and the men nodded gravely and continued off.
“Wait!” Miss Boma hurried towards the men, stopping them. “Is this all you people saw in that hole?” she asked in a very low voice only the men could hear but Omasan picked every word from where she stood. “Did you see a red shoe? A stiletto? High heels?”
“Kois-kois?” one of the men asked and Miss Boma nodded.
“We see am for the girl hand.”
“Where is it?”
“We throw am for dia.”
“Thank you,” Miss Boma nodded and began to climb Satan’s Hill alone. The sun burned over her skin but the harmattan wind cooled her at the same time. She knew she was not alone; she could hear Omasan hiking up with her with the distinctive sound of the stilettos that had accompanied her ghostly presence for the past thirty-six hours. On cemented floors, sandy footpaths and grassy short routes, Miss Boma had clearly heard Omasan at every turn. The stupid girl had refused to stay dead. Seeing her that first night in the presence of that horrifying, black cat, merely minutes after she had pushed her off that hill, Miss Boma wasn’t so sure if she was dreaming or not. Of course, she had run. Who wouldn’t? But after tossing and turning in bed restlessly through the night, she returned to the exact spot just before dawn. She found the shoe where she had dropped it but there was no sign of Omasan or the black cat. The next day, however, Omasan’s full rage was unleashed on her the moment she walked into Yellow Room when all the girls had gone for classes. She hadn’t expected to be haunted by her at daytime. Didn’t the normal order of things dictate that spirits roam about only in the dark, leaving the day for mortals?
A kite flapped huge wings directly behind Miss Boma as she came to the edge of Satan’s Hill and she shivered. Forcing herself, she looked deep into the gully and saw the glistening red shoe under a leafless tree. She shut her eyes as flashing images of that night took over her mind, making her relive the moment she pushed Omasan down the hill. There had been a voice, loud in her head that night. She had not invited it in but it welcomed itself and worked deep into the seams of her sanity as it told her to do the unimaginable.
“Push her.” It had demanded but she ignored it and ordered Omasan to clean her shoes.
“Push the girl.” This time it was loud enough for even Omasan to hear for it spoke with many voices, carrying a decay that sucked the air right out of the night. In a flash everything appeared dead and still; the trees no longer swayed, the moon turned grey and lifeless, and even the familiar sounds of crickets and the night birds were conspicuously gone. Miss Boma knew at that moment she was standing in a place of death and it was beginning to suck the mortality out of her.
PUSH HER OR SHE WILL PUSH YOU! The demonic voice growled in her head ravenously.
PUSH HER! POOOOOOSH HER!
Miss Boma resisted the uninvited demon but she saw its face in Omasan’s eyes as the girl stretched out her hands and aimed for her chest. On impulse, she grabbed Omasan, spun her around and flung her with full force over the hill.
Omasan screamed, clawing the air, but she fell fast downhill. Miss Boma watched powerlessly as the girl tumbled endlessly before coming to rest beneath the leafless tree at the base that split her head in two.
Suddenly Miss Boma came to her senses, the demon gone from her, and she realized what she had done. But it was too late.
“And it is still too late now,” the many voices of the demon jolted her into the present as she stood beneath the burning noonday sun and sought for a path downhill.
“She will keep coming back, even if you take the stilettos and bury them with her. She will come back.”
“Leave me alone,” Miss Boma hissed and turned around to begin her journey down the hill.
“You’re wasting your time, Lady kois-kois!” it laughed but this time in Omasan’s voice and Miss Boma was forced to turn around. Standing at the edge of the hill behind her was Omasan staring at her in bustling hatred.
“Didn’t they tell you? Nothing dies that has died before, especially on Satan’s Hill. They all come back!”
It laughed, spun around, away from Miss Boma and kois-koised back to Fatima Dorm with feet that did not touch the ground.
Lady kois-kois is married to sa-tan
Back in the day she was a man…
- The Stilettos [Secondary School Tales] (moskeda.wordpress.com)