This was my submission to the ADA open call for writers. I have always had an interest in the horror genre of film and recently began experimenting with some of its elements in my writing. Unfortunately my story was not picked; which is not surprising considering I still have a long way to go in perfecting my craft. Anyway, here’s my story as promised via Twitter (@Alvin_wal_crawl), enjoy.
When my son was five, his mother died.
She had long hair and the most beautiful skin, smelt like baby powder and cocoa butter. She was beautiful and she was my wife. The pain of course was like nothing I had felt before, the sense of loss, of desperate confusion, I was drowning, flailing my arms in despair and grasping nothing. We had not been married past 6 years when she passed, our son was 5, what was supposed to be our daughter died with her in the hospital.
It’s funny how stories seem so alien, strange, how we nod and listen when people tell us about the supernatural, how even as we believe the most convincing ones, there is always this salient sense behind our minds walls of it being nothing more than an anecdote. Even the ones we do believe, we never really believe will ever be our fortune, our lives are just not tailored like theirs, it just cannot, it will not be our fortune, that like a strange tropical disease, the supernatural targets a .5% minority, and we who all our lives have been nothing but average cannot possibly have the horrendous luck of falling within this small margin.
Before Monique had died she had left what my mother in-law called signs. One evening while I was away on my many business trips – I only found this out after her death – she had called her mother in the very early hours of the morning, breathless and frightfully scared. She had had what her mother called an out of body experience, had in a strange dream seen herself asleep on our bed, a tall man standing over her, watching her. And then in the weeks leading to her labor she had developed out of the blue a strange habit of sleep walking; the doctor said it was perfectly normal, that the pregnancy was having a strain on her. How could I explain that Monique did nothing but sleep? That I had to call from work every day to wake her up otherwise she would not eat at all. I would wake up in the middle of the night and find her side of the bed empty. Sometimes I would find her in our sons room, sitting next to his sleeping self in a trance, her eyes closed and swaying back and forth, other times she would be sitting in the middle of the hall, on the center table, I would turn on the lights and she would be there, her back towards me, rocking back and forth. How she turned the locks and opened the doors with so little noise I could never figure out.
I had tried to stop all the small chatter and gossip, I would explain to whoever would listen after her death the science behind sleepwalking, I would try to change the subject, needless to say it was futile. Eventually I returned the questions with a cold glare, even after the funeral as I stood shaking hands, my son holding on to my knee, someone, her school mate? Her colleague at work? Had the courage to come up to me and ask, “is it true about the sleep walking?” I did not want to care anymore, and I almost didn’t, and then my sister called me, a week after she had been buried.
‘they’re saying you killed her Kwame’
Junior was my rock those months that passed. He was the reason I was able to wake up in the morning. I looked at him and I did not just see a son, I saw 6 beautiful years with Monique, I saw what we brought into the world together, and it was a reason to be grateful. In the morning I would pack his lunch box and place him in the front seat of my Toyota Camry, buckle him in and we would drive to school in silence. Junior had never spoken much, Mr. Only When Necessary, Monique called him. Throughout his mothers death he had only asked about it once, ‘where is mummy now?’ he had dropped the toys he was playing with and stared at me, ‘is she dead, Grandma said she’s dead’ I had nodded, overcome with tears, and he had returned to his toys. He never asked of her again.
Imagine my surprise then when I got a call from his school during supper one evening. Immediately the phone rung he had sat up, watching me. I picked up the receiver and stared back at him.
‘yes…’ , I fidgeted with the phones cord, ‘yes…’ I could not believe what she was telling me ‘I will be there tomorrow’. And that was not the first time, Nana Yaa, the maid my mother had brought from the village to help us after Monique passed had stayed away from Junior like a plague. She would not touch him unless I was around, she would not bath him till I came home from work, on several occasions I had caught her sprinkling oil around the house, the last straw I had come back earlier from work than I usually did to check on a sick Junior and caught her sitting outside the house. Apparently she had been there since morning, refusing to go inside until I came. In the end I had let her go, and now this, strange things kept happening around him. Somewhere inside my heart I was terrified, to think of all those nights, especially horrible, when I would walk through the living room door and find Monique, squatted in front of the t.v. set, her face illuminated by the multicolored glow of color bars and now our son. My mother had asked me to see someone, to seek help, I was not prepared to let any self-acclaimed servant of God, clothed in bright suits, fingers adorned with rings, hair dyed a wavy black touch my son.
It could be explained with science.
In the car back home he broke the silence, throwing me out of my train of thoughts, ‘what did she say daddy?’ I took a hand from the wheel and touched his forehead, smiling ‘you’ll be going to a new school tomorrow, okay?’ He turned away and was quiet again a long time. ‘I want to urinate’. I parked at the edge of the road, we had been driving on the highway, cars swished by even as I jogged to his side of the car and carried him out. After, he closed his zipper and stared up into my face, ‘okay, I will go’
‘Mummy no, we are not having this conversation again’
‘Kwame listen to me, you can’t run away from who he is. No one can, if you-’
I slammed the phone on the receiver.
That night I could not sleep, perspiration moistened my sheets as I turned from one side of the bed to another. In frustration I took out my laptop and made to work myself to sleep. I had been going for only god knows how long, my fingers tapping away at the keyboard, the light from the screen permeating through the darkness like glow sticks at the center of an eclipse when I heard it. A loud bass sinking into a high pitched screech, as if furniture being dragged. My instincts pushed my computer aside, common sense left me sat up at the edge of the bed, terrified, listening. More dragging, Voices, I could hear my son’s, running up the stairs, his room was directly next to mine, both our rooms upstairs, no one was down. Running down the stairs, more voices, my son and another, a husher one,
‘est pater meus, obdormivit’
‘nos ludere ludum’
Stomping up the stairs, pause, stomping, it sounded towards my door. I could hear them so clearly now.
‘est pater meus, obdormivit’
‘nos ludere ludum’
I sat there in my boxers, silent, my heart ringing in my ears, as if a mad bird trapped inside my ribs. I drew a palm to my face. A knock on my door. I fell back on the bed and reached for the covers. Another knock, I drew them over my head and closed my eyes.
I clinched my eyes shut.
you cant run away from who he is, no one can