Fiction: The Night Witches

July 12, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Iwu Jeff

 

 

The day was cold. It rained cats and dogs as the sky wailed pathetically, causing a lawless torrential burst. It made a seemingly endless chorus on the roofs of mortal buildings. I had spent the night; not at home but at the house of drugs. Those witches had really fed on me…

He sat on his seat. Before him was a leather desk which to me seemed almost superfluous. Yes, this was because I thought there was little to no paper work to be seen. He had bought my attention. Not with money this time, but with his lecture. I sat before him still – the way you sit when you’re convalescing.

While I sat listening and watching, I was engrossed. I was more and more delighted. He had that appearance of a model doctor. How does a typical doctor look? He was fair – very fair. His skin could brighten the gloom of the night. He was neither slim nor fat, with glasses over the hook of his nose. On his body was this sparkling white cloth which was later called ‘a lab coat’. The lab coat was whiter than snow. It was knee length, made from cotton polyester blend. He wore it over a neatly tucked blue shirt which shared a resemblance with the evening sky. And a plain cherry neck-tie, which stirred the consciousness of blood in me.

10: 00am; I had been discharged after the previous night’s admission- Mercy Clinic, Faulks road by Ariaria in the city of Aba. I had gone into his office to see him. Apart from being my doctor, he was also my friend. We had engaged in a friendly medical chat in that spacious office which had on its white walls different pictures, calendars and charts of human organs as well as framed medical awards and certificates. He was doctor Franklin Obioma, my school mate.

He had given me some pills before discharging me – those he claimed were currently used to treat my ailment. They included quinoline – related compounds, antifolates, arteminisinin and antimicrobials.

 

‘Ndubuisi’, he called me, ‘do you know that no single drug can completely extirpate this parasite’s life cycle in all its forms?’

‘Really? But why?’ I asked.

‘Ndu, It had not been discovered, invented or even manufactured. Not, at all. That is why we often give one or more drugs classes at the same time in order to combat the infection synergistically,’ Dr. Frank answered. With a grin he added, ‘the regimens of the infection’s treatment are just dependent on its geographic location, the plasmodium species and the severity of disease presentation.’

‘Doctor, this illness is so strong. I never thought I could spent the night here,’ I said with a low voice that shivered. I continued, ‘I started having the symptoms some weeks ago. I had been on self medication, taking the drugs I bought…’

He interrupted with a slow smile, ‘Don’t take chances at all. Isn’t prevention said to be better than cure?’ he asked. ‘You can’t fight it on your own. You need to always embark on a medical checkup. This can test your fitness and ensure it is guaranteed. Don’t wait to be tied down by it…you’re lucky – really lucky.’

‘The illness is a monster that like an angel of light comes. Its purpose is to steal, kill and to destroy just like the devil in his ministry,’ we both burst into laughter which sounded like a broken pipe. ‘Doctor, do you know? It comes gradually. It started with a high temperature…’

‘Yes – fever.’

‘And then headache. I thought it was a mere thing I could handle on my own. It later graduated into sweating. I sweated profusely like a festive goat. After that, it became a chill on me and then to the vomiting stage. The vomiting brought me here.’

‘Yes. These symptoms are mild and they may sometimes be difficult to identify as malaria. With some types, the fever occurs in 48 hour cycles. One would feel cold at first with shivering and then develop a fever, accompanied by a series of sweating like you called it – ‘festive goat’ sweating and fatigue. These symptoms often last between 6 and 12 hours,’ doctor Frank lectured.

 

I felt I had been in another science classroom. I learned a lot before my departure from Dr. Frank’s office. These thoughts kept ringing and ringing in my heart like a school bell. Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasite. The parasite can be spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes – the female Anopheles mosquitoes known as ‘night biting mosquitoes’. Being females, they were nothing less than witches. Their activities were done at night. They mostly bite between dusk and dawn. While I left the clinic, I had these thoughts recorded in me. In fact, with the thoughts I became alert.

 

The evening dwelt in quietude; hands and feet were mortals tied down indoors by the feral cold of the night. It was two days after my return from the clinic. I had recuperated; maybe fully. I returned home after the hustle of the day; after a cloudy – misty day. I had stopped at Chicken Republic eatery to eat my favourite; jellof rice – hot, gulped down with a bottle of Coke. I entered our compound and stood watching. It wasn’t too bad; not at all. It was better than the other buildings in our area which oozed magnificently of stinks from the streets entrance to the houses there. There was a lot of waste refuse which lay like a deity’s sacrifice in strata. The heaps of dirt were like the arranged layers of the olomo sedimentary rock. Drenched by the rain, they join the murky waters to form a stagnant pond. Passers-by often learned a jumping exercise at all moments of the day in a bid to cross… That was our city, Aba. Strangers would call it ‘Aba dirty’.

The trees in our compound were just fairly spaced – they were well spaced. But, there was one part where the closely planted trees grew hopelessly in a tangle of leaves and branches. Leaves often strew around in scattered heaps like the heap of cassava tubbers. There were even more than just heaps of them: it was like a muddy sea of leaves – fallen leaves from the trees. I could perceive the acrid stench of decay lingered in the undergrowth as the sun couldn’t penetrate there. I had been taught that these infectious monsters live in places like these. And, our surroundings had lots of dirty areas and stagnant waters which serve as their hideouts. They reproduce at a top speed of 1.5 miles per hour. I had learned a lot. Seeing it as such, what could I do? It is late already, I must wait till the sanitation day – Saturdays, to clear off the rubbish; I thought.

On my return, I couldn’t meet anyone in our Face-me- I-face you compound. Not even Mr. Okeke – my closest neighbour, whose wife- Magaret, had given birth to a bouncing baby boy which we otherwise know as, ‘BBB’, two months ago. The compound was still, I wondered in thoughts, where could the people of Number 4 Emeh Street be? They had all fallen to the pleas of the night.

 

Like one stroke by Amadioha- the furious god of thunder, I fell on my bed wrapped like a gift with my blanket. I fell deep and still to the pleas of the night.

Three hours later – the heart of darkness; a time the evil night creatures crave to taunt the earth with their evil machinations. Yes, it was 1:00am!

 

From my surreal world I heard the awful barking of the dog. It barked and barked so fiercely that even the evil spirits were terrified and hid. Why is Jago the dog barking this way? Jago is a gentle dog, it doesn’t bark so fiercely except when there is danger, I muttered. I was gripped and clothed with the garment of fear. My head began to swell. It swelled and swelled and I thought it would explode. I was filled with goose pimples. What could be happening? I questioned myself.

In my scream of consciousness, my terrified mind took my eyes to my doors and windows. They were unbolted.

I wobbled in tremour round the room and finally headed to bolt the door. I heard noises outside – yes, I heard noises! I also saw the shadows of moving creatures outside from my transparent curtain which reflected light from the window. I peeped to check outside but, I couldn’t see anyone. I only heard the croaking of frogs, the chirping of insects and the barking of Jago. I saw nothing from the window. I only saw the dark sky dotted by millions of pulsating twinkling stars and the half moon.

 

Conspicuously, there was a sharp cry; it came from the opposite door – Mr. Okeke’s room. I thought he was beginning to beat his wife, Margaret again. It was his nature, he often used her to exercise his manhood, beating her sometimes at midnight. Reasons for this, we knew not. But this time, no! I could hear a battling sound between host and unwanted guest. It was Mr. Okeke’s baby. He cried out loud again in the struggle to free him from the odious hands of the night monstrous robbers- the witches!

‘They’re here again…’ , I heard Mr. Okeke said in his room.

‘Who?’, I asked in fear, with my voice shivering.

‘Oh! Ndubuisi, you’re awake.. ‘

‘Yes, I am. Who are you referring to?’

‘They’re the night monstrous robbe; witches that hunt for blood! They have robbed and sucked my son. I will surely deal with them this night.’

‘They have been robbing me always in this house. They often use my blood for their sacrifices. I’ll show them what I’m made up of. I shall kill them all tonight. Yes, I should…’

‘Ndu, days are for the thief but just one day belongs to the owner of the house,’ Mr. Okeke said. He added, ‘good night just be careful…’

 

I searched inside my room for my weapons but couldn’t see. I need to bolt this window, I soliloquized. I knew not which direction the invisible monsters could come from. I stood by the side of the window with my hands raised – raised to kill and destroy the unwanted guests. At a wink, they entered from an unknown direction into my room. From behind, they started singing their unwelcomed chorus into my ears. I was pricked in my heart. They were unlimited in space and time – they were invisible too. What can I do now? This and other thoughts cascaded my high mind. The thoughts ran for my attention.

I must be strong. Ndubuisi, Ndu! You must be strong! I cogitated. At the thought of courage a myriad of strength was like an oil into a machine added to me as in liquid.

I stood in the middle of my room killing – killing them all just as a soldier kills foes at warfront. I warred using my whole being. My hands clapped endlessly, my feet stamped the floor and my head headed them to them. I remembered what doctor Frank told me: ‘They are enemies of man. They are parasites and have no benefit to man.’ It was a war of no weapon; hand-to-hand.

 

My room dwelt in its previous solitude at the end of the battle. Nameless were the cadavers of these monsters lying on the floor of my room. Like a blood bath, my hands were filled with blood.

‘I have killed them all!’ I said with glee to the hearing of Mr. Okeke who was still awake.

‘Well done! I heard the noises from your room. You must have engaged in a serious battle. At least one can sleep tonight,’ Mr. Okeke said calmly.

‘Yes, I killed them all. These blood sucking monsters; witches that rob at night, haunting for blood- the mosquitoes!’ I rejoiced.

After this I slept like a log as my room remained in serenity. I killed them all – the mosquitoes, the night witches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iwu Jeff

Iwu Jeff is a creative writer who hails from Imo state, Nigeria. He is a trained teacher of English language and Literature-in-English, with Nigeria Certificate in Education(NCE) in English (Double Major) from Federal College of Education, Kontagora. He is a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in the Department of English, B.A(ED). He now lives in Niger state, Nigeria. His creative works manifest as poetry, drama and prose. As a lover of art, he likes and associates with creative minds.

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