I don’t know why I agreed to go on such a stupid expedition in the first place. Perhaps, it was because I wanted to impress Kiki. Or because I was simply broke and badly in need of cash. However, whatever it was, I was sorely regretting my decision at the moment.
It all began on Thursday afternoon during break time. Most of us boys were huddled in a corner of the classroom just having some guys time. It was raining heavily and so we were unable to go out like we normally did to play football. As usual, Bola was the center of attention. He had joined our class the previous term and was constantly filling our ears with wild tales from his previous school.
That day, he had been telling us a strange story about a juju priest who lived at the back of his school and was responsible for the mysterious misfortunes that often befell the school.
“You see,” he had said. “This juju priest was causing so much havoc in the school. So, I went to the principal and suggested that the entire school should partake in a seven day fasting and prayer which I myself would conduct.
Cries of “Pastor”, “Prophet Bola” and “His Holiness” filled the air.
“Yes yes, I know,” Bola had continued dismissing the ruckus with a wave of his hand. By this time all eyes were on him. Even the girls who were beefing us guys and had been making a lot of noise just to spite us keep quiet to listen to him.”Like I was saying,” he continued, “After much persuasion, the principal finally agreed and the whole school went into prayer and fasting for seven days and at the end of this seven days I had revelation from God.”
Somebody shouted Prophet Elijah and the class burst into laughter.
“You guys should stop interrupting my story,” Bola complained.
“Sorry, please continue,” someone said.
“Thank you,” Bola replied self-importantly. “Now where was I ?”
“Your revelation,” I helped.
“Yes yes,” he flashed me a grin. “Now in this revelation God told me that I should form a prayer group with six other strong warriors and after seven days of dry fasting and prayer, He would empower us to destroy the shrine of the juju priest.
He paused and look around dramatically but this time everyone kept quiet and waited expectantly for him to continue. Satisfied with our rapt attention, he continued his story.
“Being a strong believer in the Lord, I arranged six other of my brothers and did what the Lord had asked me to do. At the end of it all, the Lord showed me what to do. So, energized and filled with the Spirit, I and my brothers set out in the middle of the night to the juju priest’s shrine.”
He paused again. “Believe me it was not an easy journey. Neither was our battle with the devil a child’s play. We were in that shrine for over eight hours fighting the juju priest. And will you believe that the sun did not rise until we defeated him ?”
At this, there was a lot of murmuring and coughing among us.
O ye of little faith,” Bola chided. “I know you don’t believe me but let me tell you something.” The class fell silent again and Bola cleared his throat before he continued in a very important tone. “Last night, I had another revelation.”
At this point the rain intensified with lightning and thunderclaps. Someone screamed in fear and unconsciously we all huddled closer.
“Yes!” Bola shouted and we all jumped. “The Lord revealed something to me last night. He showed me something. Let me tell you all, there is something evil and sinister lurking around this school. I can feel its presence all around us.”
Thunder clapped again and we moved even closer to each other.
“How many of you know the true history of this school?” He asked with wild eyes but no one answered. “Last night, the Lord showed me. Do you know an innocent soul was killed on this soil? The original owner of the land this school was built on was brutally murdered and buried on his own property all because of greed. And his spirit is still very angry and roams around the school every night. Don’t you ever wonder about the owls that always gather at our hostel roofs at night? He’s the one that sends them.”
As if on cue, people started giving different accounts of strange things that they experienced — doors closing and opening on their own, lights going off without anyone switching them off, things getting missing mysteriously and being found in unusual places.
By the end of the break time we had all managed to get ourselves considerably spooked and it was obvious from our faces and jumping attitude that we were scared. As if reading our minds, Bola cleared his throat and once more took the floor.
“Now, there is no need to be scared,” he said. All I need is six brothers to volunteer themselves for three days fasting and prayer after which this problem would be solved.
At this announcement, all us boys began to eye each other nervously. It was then that I noticed Kiki was watching me and I decided this was a perfect opportunity to impress her. I had been thinking of asking her out for a while now but I was worried she would turn me down. Finally, here was a chance to prove my manly manness to her. I was still contemplating this when Bola further announced that each volunteer would be rewarded with three thousand naira. At this point, I didn’t think twice and immediately volunteered.
Emboldened by me, five other boys agreed to be part of it. Smiling, Bola announced that the fasting and prayer would begin the following day.
And that was how I found myself to be in this situation. We had set off after midnight —I, Bola, Timi, Gozie, Frank, Ahmed and Jay. The sky had been clear and the moon had been shining brightly. We had found no difficulty making our way out of the hostel but sneaking into the school farm where Bola claimed the man had been buried under a plantain tree was tricky business. We had taken a long footpath known to only a few students and had proceeded to crawl under a rickety gate whose bottom had almost entirely rusted away.
Just as we began our journey into the heart of the farm where the said plantain tree was and the supposed body lay, it had begun to rain heavily. It was the type of rain that began without any warning—complete with lightning and thunder. A cloud had covered the moon and everywhere was darkened.
Bola had put on the torch he had brought along. Although we all appeared to be scared with the exception of Bola, we made light of the situation and reassured ourselves it was alright. Afterall, it was only rain.
And then out of nowhere, a black cat ran across our front and we all screamed—this time Bola included. Now I was beginning to worry about this foolhardy decision of mine.
Again, we all laughed and joked that it was nothing but we weren’t sounding so sure anymore. Even Bola looked frightened and I began to seriously doubt the authenticity of his revelation. I was contemplating suggesting we retreat when Bola’s torch fell from his hand, flickered and the lights went out.
Hastily, we all fell to the ground at the same time hands roaming in search of the torch. Timi found it first but he was shaking so badly he let it fall again and once more we all crouched in search of the torch but we were having no luck finding it. It was pitch black and practically impossible to see even your own palm in front of your face.
As we searched, something rustled in the bush nearby and an owl began to hoot. That was when I wet myself and I silently thanked my stars for the rain as it camouflaged the wetness of my shorts.
I was on the brink of tears and mentally cursing my stupidity when someone shouted “snake! snake!”. Immediately we all took to our heels in different directions. I ran blindly for what seemed like an eternity and finally stopped when I felt I would die if I took one more step. It was at this point I realised I was alone. My blood ran cold with fear at this realisation and I began to actually cry and panic. I wondered if this was my punishment for not actually fasting like I was meant to do. I had already began to repent and make a lot of promises to God to be a new person and attend Church everyday when I noticed someone/something running towards me.
I didn’t wait to find out who or what it was and took off in the opposite direction. I had barely ran for a minute when I slammed full force into a body. I screamed in terror and the thing/person screamed too. Lightning flashed again and I saw it was Bola. His eyes were as wide as saucers with fear. +
“B-Bola, ” I stuttered. “Thank God I saw you. Something was chasing me.” I held his hand desperate for a partner.
“Leave me, it’s coming!” Bola yelled and before I could say any other thing, tore himself off my grip and took off again. Surprised, I was also about to do the same when a cold, bony hand held my wrist. I turned around sharply and screamed in horror when I saw the owner of the hand. It was a very pale looking man in a red gown. His eyes were deep sunk and his mouth was bloody. He opened his mouth to display rotten, broken teeth and moved closer as if to bite me.
“Jesus!” I screamed and sat up on my bed soaked in perspiration. Whew, it was all a dream. I checked my watch. 3:00, Monday morning. I looked around me. The hostel was dimly lit by torchlights and only a handful of students were awake.
“Thank God,” I murmured weakly and closed my eyes as my heart beat slowly returned to normalcy. “It was all a dream.”
Just then I felt a presence by my bed and opened my eyes to see Bola staring at me.
“Benji,” he said. “I just had a revelation. Do you know the history of this school?”