FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE
Jamila rushed towards the sound of the piercing scream. It was coming from one of the suites in the family wing of the presidential villa. As she approached the hallway, she realized the screaming was coming from Evelyn’s suite.
“Eveyln!” she called and burst in. She found her, now quiet, sitting on her bed with a haunted expression on her face. She walked to her slowly “Ev?”
Evelyn did not respond. Her eyes were transfixed on the wall before her, glaring at a painting of her husband she had paid some nameless artist in Namibia to do. Igwe had been very angry when the painting arrived at the villa and ordered it be taken down from where it had been placed by the paintings of other family members and burnt. Then he had a row with Jamila who was against the decision and eventually granted her request of having it put in Evelyn’s suite instead. Now as Jamila turned to the painting, following Evelyn’s eyes, she saw what Igwe had told her he had seen. Samuel’s eyes were dark and hollow but there was something else… They looked like he was right there in the room with them, staring back. How the artist was able to capture his soul in those eyes puzzled Jamila a great deal.
“Ev, what is it?” Jamila asked. Evelyn simply lifted her hand and pointed at the painting, her lips moving but making no sound. She was terrified.
“Sam?” Jamila sat beside her, “you dreamt of him again?”
Evelyn had been having nightmares for the past few weeks of Samuel disemboweling and eating up her insides. But today’s dream had been different, it had been worse and she had no desire to share it with the psychologist sitting before her. She slowly let down her hand and drew away till her back rested on the pillows behind her.
“Do you want to talk about the dream?” Jamila asked and Evelyn shook her head. “Does it have anything to do with the painting?”
She looked at the painting briefly. “No.”
“Did you dream about Sam?”
“No,” Evelyn replied again and looked at Jamila. “I want to go back to sleep, please.”
“I am afraid you have slept all day, woman,” she said lightly.”I know the doctor says you should rest but too much of it is not good for you. Why don’t you come out and join us? Tricia and Emem are trying their hands on chin-chin. I am about to put the boys to sleep. Maybe you can help me?”
Evelyn sighed and let her sister-in-law help her out of the bed. Being nine months pregnant was a load she was tired of carrying. She just wanted it out of her.
In the kitchen Evelyn exchanged pleasantries with the ten or so females who were preparing for a wedding. The bride was one of those Igwe’s half-caste children from one of those white women no one knew anything about. There were all sorts of mouth watering pastries and Evelyn was very sure no guest would taste any of what was prepared here. It was all for family.
Evelyn found her way to Patricia and spoke in a low voice. “Can I speak with you?”
The whole kitchen went silent. Noticing the attention on them, Patricia said sarcastically to them, “I believe there’s something interesting to see here?”
And everyone turned back to what it was they were doing .
“Please, it’s very important,” Evelyn said and when she noticed Patricia was going to be difficult, added, “it has to do with Aaron.”
Patricia put down the rolling pin in her hand at the mention of her six year old son. And speaking of the little devil, the boy ran in chased by Emem’s twin sons and the trio knocked down a tray of chin-chin dough and would have continued had Emem not slammed the table before her angrily. One look into her eyes sent them scrambling off. No one needed to say anything more; Emem was the only law the kids feared.
While all this was going on, Evelyn had led Patricia into an unoccupied bedroom and shut the door.
“I had that dream again.”
“What dream? The one with Sam killing and eating you?” her eyes held a hidden smile.
“Yes,” Evelyn replied.
“So,” Patricia crossed her arms, “what has it got to do with my son?”
The ‘my’ was emphasized because Aaron spent more time with Evelyn than with her.
“I saw Aaron in the dream, Tricia, and he was eating me too.”
Patricia walked to the door, opened it, peeped up and down the hallway and locked it again. She turned around and walked back menacingly to Evelyn.
“You walked into my life, stole my husband and sons, warmed your way into the family and now you’re coming to tell me my son is evil?”
“Tricia, let me explain…”
“Look, I don’t know who sent you to tempt me into saying what will make them put me in a madhouse again but I will not fall for the trap.”
“Tricia, I am serious. That dream was too real.”
“If you’re so afraid, I’ll suggest you go to a pastor for prayers. You’re nine months pregnant. You don’t want to lose this one. It will be five miscarriages too many. I would also advise you stay away from the cause of the curse and banish those dreams and think of a way to ensure the safe delivery of your daughter.”
“Daughter? H-how do you know it’s a girl?”
Everyone said Patricia was insane but only Evelyn knew there was method to her madness. It was something spiritual and if she was saying right now that she was carrying a girl, then a girl it was.
“You will never have a son for Sam and this would be your last,” Patricia said pointedly and headed for the door but Evelyn stopped her.
“Please, I know you know what the dream means. Please, tell me.”
Patricia turned back. “When you get back home, there’s a door that Samuel never opens in the guest house…”
Evelyn found herself standing before a red door. She had never cared to open it before because she hardly came to this part of the compound. The main house she shared with Samuel and her stepsons was large enough to entertain her.
Samuel takes the key around with him but only leaves it when he wants to have his bath.
Evelyn opened her hand revealing a copy of the said key and slowly inserted it into the keyhole.
What is in the room?
I don’t know. I never found out. Samuel caught me that day, beat me half to death and that was how the story about me being crazy began.
Evelyn paused before she turned the key. What if she wasn’t supposed to see what was inside?
There are things you will never know about Samuel and no one will tell you. I wished, my dear, you hadn’t married him altogether.
Those were Igwe’s words coming back to haunt her. Samuel had assured her that the man was talking that way because he hated him but what could he have possibly done that would make his own father hate, disown and vow never to see his face again?
She turned the key, drew in a long breath and opened the door…
Bright morning sunlight streamed into her face from a window facing her. She immediately looked away and adjusted her vision to search around her as she walked in.
The room was…empty.
She sighed in relief. Samuel was hiding nothing. Patricia was really crazy but then, why the key and the whole secrecy behind the red door? She shrugged, walked out and locked the door. Then she heard it…
A scream so loud it threatened to split her eardrums and it was coming from within the room. Instant gossebumps spread all over her and she braced herself and unlocked the door again. She pushed it open cautiously and behold…
Evelyn looked up at the ceiling and peered at the window and still didn’t see any sign of life within. For some reason, she didn’t want to walk back in again and as much as it was daylight, she felt darkness all around her and just wanted to get out of the place.
She locked the door and stood staring at it, waiting for something strange to happen again just to confirm she didn’t imagine the first phenomenon.
Seconds were rolling by…
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12…
And the scream came again. Accompanying it this time was a scratching sound as if someone was trying to escape from the room. Evelyn blocked her ears but couldn’t drown the torture in them. She began to back away as the sounds became unseen hands that slowly stretched to touch her and out of nowhere cold hands coming from behind her gripped her shoulders and she let out a horrified scream.
“Eve?” only one person called her that name and it was Samuel. She turned around and held him tight, melting gratefully into his arms. He waited for her shivering to subside before asking, “what is wrong?”
“Nothing,” she lied and without saying anything further, he took her back to the main house. It was like that between them. They didn’t talk about things, they just let them be. Upstairs, he checked her vitals, gave her a cup of warm milk with some sleeping pills and tucked her in. In seconds, she was drifting away and images began to form in her mind…
A girl- not more than eighteen- spread out on a table- wearing a yellow dress like the sun- immensely terrified- trying to free herself from the straps holding her bound- something hideous is approaching her- it has gloves on- it sinks a needle into her neck- she becomes weak- it raises a knife into the air- the girl just stares, tears streaming down her eyes- the creature chants something for a long time- in one swift motion it brings down the knife to her heart- laughs- plunges it deep into her- the girl opens her mouth wide–
And Evelyn screams.
The thing with the knife raises its head- looks at her- it is her husband’s evil eyes- she then realizes she is standing- out in the cold- naked and shivering–
“Close the door,” the creature says in Sam’s voice- Evelyn looks and sees- Aaron is looking up at her- his eyes like his father’s- he smiles a wild smile- and slams the red door in her face.
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