Chisom didn’t know why she had suddenly woken up at that time of the night, but at that moment she did, she noticed that her cubicle felt as though all the air inside it had been carefully channeled out through the open window. She felt the stickiness of her silky night-wear against her body and hissed. She was drenched in perspiration. No thanks to the useless NEPA, she thought angrily. She hissed again as she ran her right hand lazily over her face to clear its drowsiness, before raising up her head to see if the window on the head-side of her bed was still open as she had left it before going to bed. It still was. She turned away from the window and looked around the dark room. She could barely make out anything inside it. The night was starkly dark.
At that moment, Senior Odion’s thought which had of recent resurrected in her head suddenly sprang up again, and she quickly pressed her eyes shut as if to smudge it. But as she did that, a dark red hue spread over her vision. And then that last image she saw of her, widely stretched eyes that held extreme shock and mouth thrown half agape in terror, with thick slimy blood spurting out from a deep gash in the middle of her head that nearly severed it into two, sprang up. Her pulse quickened as stiffening fear riveted through her, and she rolled herself up on the cold bed and held her head with her hands.
That fateful night of the incidence which had led to that unfortunate situation, everything had happened too fast, too fast even for Senior Odion to have let out a scream. All of a sudden, Chisom was grateful that Senior Odion hadn’t, because that would have been her quickest route to insanity. She was sure the scream would have reverberated in her head until she went crazy. In her terrified state, several wishes began to cross through her mind all at the same time. All directed to her past.
She wished her Dad had never chosen that school for her in the first place. She wished her Mum had listened to her when she used to complain about how evil the seniors were. She wished that she had ignored the stories of her elder sister about the ways they dealt with their seniors in her own school. She wished that she hadn’t made even the slightest attempt to try to deviate from her naive, ever-willing-to-please nature; at this thought her body trembled. She even wished that she hadn’t been intelligent, so that she wouldn’t have had any cause to be made a house captain and be put in this cubicle that now worsened the torment on her senses.
In the government owned school, only house captains had the privilege to own cubicles. Other students stayed in large halls. But since her nights began to be haunted by dreadful thoughts and images of Senior Odion, it no longer felt like a privilege. In fact, it felt worse than torture. She had only stayed on because she had a companion, Ify her bunk-mate. If not, she would have boldly defied the school rules and regulations forbidding students to sleep more than one on a bed, or leave their bed space.
In the silence of the room, her bunk-mate’s snoring wheezed on. At first she made to nudge her bed which was above hers to stir her, but immediately thought against it when she found out that she was too scared to stand the louder snoring that would accompany her action before the snoring eventually stopped.
Scared?…something must be really wrong with her! Yes, of recent Chisom was sure things were no longer right with her. She noticed she had become excessively sensitive to trivial happenings around her. The other night in prep class, she had nearly pushed out Adibe’s innards with her fist when she woke her up to return to the hostel since everyone had already left the class.
At that moment, she remembered the W.A.E.C examination which was slated to begin that morning. Perhaps that was the reason she was awake. But she hadn’t planned to read that night. Fact was that she hadn’t even planned to burn the mid-night oil all through the exam period. She had started early enough to prepare for the exam, and so had no fear about it. In fact, she was even sure she could boast of having almost the entire contents of her textbooks carefully lodged in her memory. Yes, that was how much she had studied. Besides, she had revised that night before going to bed. So, for these reasons, she was sure the upcoming exam wasn’t why she was awake. But she couldn’t be so sure. It could be the excitement.
At that moment she raised her head to check her school uniform which she had carefully arranged and hung on the leg-side of her bed. It had received special handling the previous day because of the special purpose it was to be used for, which was the exam. For the very first time in that school, she had ironed it. She had then arranged it on a plastic hanger in the way it was expected to be on her when she wore it; white shirt worn over red skirt pulled up the wide end of the hanger from beneath. She had then hung the beret on the hook of the hanger.
The moment she raised her head to check the uniform, she never brought it down again.
She never recovered till W.A.E.C was over.