A strangled sound escaped Chike’s lips as he fell back on his ass. He scrambled backwards in a bid to get away, and he hit the table and chair behind him. Yelping, he got up and bolted for the door. He pushed the door…
…and it didn’t budge.
Chike glanced down at the door, feeling stupid, and the sound of the refrigerator door opening and closing caused him to turn.
She’d stepped out.
He began to beat on the door and shove it at the same time.
“HEEEELP!!! SOMEBODY HEEEEELP!!! OPEN YOU GODDAMN DOOR! HEEEEEEELP!!!!!”
His screams fell on dead ears.
He turned again.
She was gone.
Jesus please Jesus please help me Jesus please help me where is she please help somebody help me where has she gone to oh no oh ple-
Chike turned to shove the door again and froze.
She was on the other side of the door.
Chike didn’t think. He just turned and ran for the other side of the room, banging into tables and not caring. He saw the fire escape outside, and ran for the other door close to the counter. Tried it.
He shook the handle, hit the door.
The main doors opened.
The little girl stepped through and the doors slammed shut.
Chike shrieked. He wanted to melt. He wanted to just dissipate, like smoke. If he could claw his way out, he would have done it. He heard someone gibbering rubbish, realized it was him, and didn’t care. Right now, he was past giving a shit about anything but his life, his sanity. All coherent thought was gone; he seemed to have left that down in the laundry room.
Who would take out his clothes? Surely the cycle must have been done by now.
The lights, flicking on and off.
The wind outside, howling.
Chike huddled in the corner between the door and the counter.
The darkness, following in her wake.
She seemed bigger somehow, like she’d grown a few inches, added a few pounds.
Her bloody footprints.
A feather-like touch on his arm. Chike glanced down at his arm, then looked up to the ceiling.
It was snowing.
Chike mumbled something; he didn’t know what it was. His rationality and reality had been torn to pieces. Nothing was sane, nothing was real. Everything he had, everything he was holding onto was all being blown away in the wind of madness. He couldn’t run, even if he tried. He couldn’t feel his legs anymore.
And he was feeling cold.
An inconsequential thought popped into his head; would he be able to finish his coursework in time for submission? The fact that he was such mundane thoughts in the face of the unthinkable caused him to cackle wildly. He heard the way his cackles sounded, and stopped.
He began to cry.
It continued to snow.
Behind the girl, the darkness came forward, following her slow steps like a hesitant mascot. The snow started from halfway across the room to where Chike was, effectively dividing the room.
Maybe she won’t be able to cross over it is my protection haha she can’t come in the snow she-
She left a bloody footprint in the snow, and that line of thought shut down completely.
Chike looked at her, then cleaned the tears from his eyes and tried to stand. No use in huddling in the corner; it wouldn’t do him any good. Maybe it would just delay whatever was coming, but that was about it.
The snow crunched beneath his hands and knees as he struggled to stand. He fell on one knee, then stood and swayed a little. He put a hand on the wall to steady himself. All around him, the snow fell in lazy drifts. Black spots danced in his vision, and he blinked to clear them. Took a tentative step forward.
Took his hand off the wall.
He raised his head to look at her.
She’d stepped a few feet into the snow, head cocked, face unreadable. Her eyes were still red. The childish glee was all gone now. In its place was a terrible knowledge of the unknowable.
The experience of a thousand deaths.
The snow around her feet was slowly turning red, like she was bleeding. Chike didn’t see any cuts on her, and didn’t want to look for one. Behind her the darkness hung like a haze; it pulsed without pulsing.
Chike walked forward slowly, tiredly. He stopped a few feet before her.
Stared at her.
She stared back. Then she smiled.
Chike felt like crashing through the glass wall into the cold outside. He didn’t care about falling. Falling would be better than this.
Then she spoke. Her childish voice threatened to peel the skin off his body.
She said, “Your friend is calling you.”
Chike stared at her uncomprehendingly.
His phone rang.
Chike yelped, startled. He fumbled with his pocket, his heart racing, gathering momentum. He took out the phone and looked at the screen.
Maybe, just maybe, he could get help now.
Chike picked the call and spoke quickly into the phone. “Hello please help I’m in trouble please I’m in the-”
“Hello?” the voice at the other end said. It sounded distant, familiar, haunted, haunting.
It stopped his heart cold.
Jesus please no.
“Chike? It’s me. Samuel.”
“It’s me, Samuel. I’m lonely here.” The pain in the voice. The longing, the glee, the madness, the sorrow, all encapsulated in the voice. “Please come. I need you here. Please.”
Samuel. Chike’s best friend during his Undergraduate days in the University of Lagos, Nigeria. A school he’d graduated from three years ago.
Samuel had died in their final year.
The darkness behind the little girl pulsed, and Chike’s jaw went slack as Samuel’s face appeared in the darkness. His face, forever etched in the hallways of his memories, beseeching him from not up to 8 feet away. The lips moved, and Samuel’s voice came out through the phone.
“Please Chike, I really am lonely here. I need-”
Chike ran screaming, through the snow, all the way back to the counter.
Behind the counter a door led to the inner rooms of the restaurant; the kitchen, the pantry, a couple of changing rooms and toilets. Chike vaulted over the counter, out the door and into the kitchen without looking. He turned around and locked the door, then dodged around the steel tables and equipment to the edge of the room. He crouched in the corner, fist in mouth to keep himself from screaming any further, but he couldn’t stop the gagging sound that was escaping his throat.
How do I get out of here God please how Samuel called me my dead friend I just spoke with my dead friend Samuel dead Samuel called me I just spoke with-
Chike screamed out loud as a high-pitched scream ripped through the building, turned to maniacal laughter, rose in volume, and then cut off abruptly.
The little girl whispered behind Chike, “You will not get out of here.”
Chike cried as he scrambled away from the voice; he just couldn’t find the energy to scream anymore. His arms gave way beneath him, and he sprawled on the cold floor. Looked behind him.
He was all alone.
Chike curled into himself and wept.