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Night crawler

I grew up in a small village in the South-south part of Nigeria. We used to hear stories about ekpo ntog-eyïn, this was a friendly masquerade that came out once in a while to play with children. Then there was the unfriendly masquerade ekpo-ifód that occasionally came out at night to terrorise people. There were lots of unpleasant stories about its doings so people tried to avoid it as much as possible. The problem is, no one could tell when it was coming.

Ekpo-ifód was the reason why there was little or no night life in my village. Activities began to wind down as early as 6pm. Nobody wanted to be caught outside their homes when it was dark.

The “stay at home when it is dark rule” was easy to follow when I was younger but as I grew older it became difficult to adhere to. I lived with my aunt and she would always warn that “one day my eyes would find what they were looking for”. I didn’t understand why my curfew had to be 7pm. Most times, that was when the fun was about to start.

So, there was going to be a party and every young person in the village was talking about it. The host was Umoh, he always threw the baddest parties and it would be a ‘sacrilege’ if I didn’t attend this one.

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The party was lovely, Umoh did not spare any cost at all, however, the fun was over before 4am. Most of the guests wanted to wait till it was daylight before leaving but my friend Etuk offered to give me a ride home on his Vespa motorcycle, little did I know that he had ulterior motives. We had gone a reasonable distance before he informed me that we were going to his house. It was either that or he dropped me off on the road. I knew what would happen if I went to his house so I decided to take the risk and walk home in the dark/cold harmattan morning.

I tried not to think of ekpo-ifód or anything scary, I prayed in my heart that the gods of our land would protect me, then I sang some of the choruses I could remember from church. I became relaxed when I noticed two people coming in the opposite direction. The thought of seeing other people on the road gave me some relief. As they drew closer, I looked at them to see if I knew them but I froze in my strides as I felt my head double in size, I broke out in goosebumps, the hairs on my skin stood, a sudden chill ran down my spine and I screamed, I could hear my voice reverberating in the still of the morning. I tried to run but my legs felt glued to the ground. I fell to the down and tried to scream but no sound came out, I was shaking like a leaf, then one of them called my name and tried to help me up …. everything became black.

I kept on hearing my name then I woke up to my Aunt’s piercing eyes boring into my soul. I looked around and realised that I was lying on my bed, in the comfort of my room. Aunty would never believe me if I told her the dream I had. I was trying to playback the events of the previous when she jolted me from my thoughts with the story of how two kind strangers who found me sprawled on the road had brought me home. My eyes widened in shock as it suddenly hit me that what I thought was a dream… wasn’t a dream after all. I cringed in fear as jumped on her and it took a few minutes for me to be calm.

It was slowly coming back to me. I remember trying to take a look at the faces of two women and I was mortified by what I saw, one of them was a skeleton while the other one looked like a decomposing corpse. They were by far the scariest and most horrible things I have ever seen in my entire life. I could never get those images out of my mind.

It’s been 28years and I still can’t get over that incident. These days, I hate being alone in the dark and I hate night parties.

Come to think of it, if what I saw that day wasn’t ekpo-ifód, because they were kind enough to get me home, then who or what were they? How did they know my name? How did they know where I live? I guess, I will never know.

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