I can’t remember exactly how long I ran; but, my tormentor was on my heels. I looked back as I ran, and I could see his masked face. “Leave me alone,” I screamed, “please…” My cries died in the lonely woods. I was all alone. I heard a sinister laugh, and I looked back. That was my greatest mistake. My tormentor was right in front of me, and I was shocked at what I saw. He was masked, but I could tell he was very ugly.
“Come sweetheart,” he growled. He took a few steps towards me, but, I was too scared to move or scream. “I’ll make it unforgettable if you want. You will enjoy it.”
Tears slid down my cheeks. Not again. Oh God! Please…
He took more steps forward and I froze. I shut my eyes close, unable to bear the sight. “What do you want with me?”
“Everything… I want everything that has to do with you.” He cupped my cheeks, and I shrieked out of his grip. I spat on his face, and made to run again. My legs were too weak to carry me. I fell down flat on the grass. He was beside me. He lowered himself down on me. “Either way, whether you want it or not, I will still have my way with you.” He was so heavy that I found it difficult to breathe.
“Please, don’t do this…” I pleaded in whispers, tears flowing uncontrollably down my cheeks, “I’m still a virgin…” My cries died out with each of his brutal thrusts. He wasn’t listening to me.
“Please… Have mercy…” I choked on my tears.
“Be quiet,” He hit me below my left eye, and I went blind temporarily.
“Get off me you beast,” I struggled to wriggle out from beneath his huge body where he pinned me down with his weight; but my all my efforts proved abortive. I didn’t give up. One way or the other, I wasn’t going to let him have his way. I bit him several places, but my tormentor was too busy to notice. My efforts were weak.
“That’s it, I’m all done. How do you feel?” He dressed up slowly, but I was too weak and my eyes were too heavy to notice any of his actions.
“You look quite messed up,” he bent to retrieve his wrist watch from the ground. That action gave way to his true identity.
“J-John?” I gasped. I looked at the scar on his upper arm… It was definitely him. John was my neighbor back at home. He lived next door, and we communicated quite well. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we often exchanged pleasantries every now and then. There was a way he often looked at me, even back then, that I found very uncomfortable and awkward.
He stood up, his watch on his left wrist, and something that glittered on his right hand. I squinted, trying to get a better view of the object, but my sight betrayed me. He bent again, unmasked his face, and stared at me squarely. “It’s me, Yina,” he growled, a mischievous smile tugging at his lips, “but, I will be the last face you will ever see.” He held up the glittering object, and I discovered; although late, that it was a knife. Before I could scream, he dug the knife right inside my belly. I bled, and as I fell into oblivion, I noticed him smiling devilishly at me.
“Yina! Wake up, Yina,” Mama called. I opened my eyes, and realised that I was in the cottage. I was sweating profusely. Mama was looking at me worriedly. Papa, and little Josh were making the fire, while Gina was preparing dinner.
“Is she awake?” Papa called out.
“Yes, she just woke up now.” Mama anwered. Before I knew what was happening, everyone gathered around me.
“It seems you were having a nightmare,” Mama propped my head with a pillow, and I relaxed a little bit.
“… you kept calling for help…” Papa’s brows furrowed. I could tell I had made my lovely family worry. However, I was relieved. It didn’t happen again. This time around, it was only a dream. But, what a dream!
“What happened, Yina? Little Josh coughed. He grabbed my hands and looked at me pleadingly. “You kept calling John. He’s already behind the bars. He can’t harm you again.”
Mama dabbed my forehead with a towel. I was down with a fever.
“It felt s-s-so real. It f-felt so real, Mama,” I broke down into tears. Gina wanted to gather me in her arms, but she didn’t. They knew I was wary of every human touch. I didn’t like being touched, after the day Josh raped and stabbed me. No type of touch appealed to me: hugs, patting, hand shakes… name it.
“You were having the same dream again, weren’t you?” Papa looked me in the eye.
“Yes, Papa.” I curled myself into a small ball with what little strength I had.
“”Go back to sleep, Yina,” Mama urged me.
“Each time I sleep, I have this same dream,” I cried. “I don’t want to sleep.”
“Oh my God!” Gina whispered . It was meant to be a whisper, because I wasn’t supposed to hear it; but, I did anyway. “Yina needs to see the Physician.”
“… and I will see no Physician, Gina. Nice try, but I shan’t go to the hospital.” I said with finality in my tone. Gina gulped.
“Alright, Yina. You won’t go to the hospital if you don’t want to. Let’s have some dinner, everyone.” Mama said and everyone gathered around me, with plates of food in their hands. We would have moved over to the bonfire outside, but I was down with a fever, so we stayed indoors.
I knew mum was lying when she said I wouldn’t go to hospital, but I didn’t have the strength to argue with her, so I had just let the matter die there and then.
After the rape incident which almost claimed my life, I suffered from insomnia. Each time I managed to sleep, I always had nightmares. My nightmares were always a replay of what Josh had done to me. It was horrible and it still haunted me.
After eating, Little Josh, Gina and I went to wash the dishes outside the cottage. Despite the fever and my body temperature, I desperately wanted to receive some fresh air. I was washing, even though my parents and siblings told me not to, while my siblings were rinsing the plates. I paused for sometime, and looked towards the woods. A huge figure caught my sight. He was sneering at me… and he was coming for me. Josh? How could it be? Josh was supposed to be in jail, not here…
“Mama! Papa! He’s here,” I screamed. My parents rushed out and my siblings stared at me with awe and worry, but they didn’t utter a word.
“Who’s here, Yina?” Papa asked.
“I can’t see anyone,” Mama added. “Is everything ok?” Mama looked at my siblings, demanding some explanation with her eyes.
“…I saw J-Josh” I stuttered. They all stared at me, speechlessly. There was another expression they wore that I couldn’t quite fathom. Then, realisation hit me. They thought I had lost it. They thought I was insane. I was sure of what I had seen, and it hurt badly that my own family didn’t believe me. Somehow Josh had escaped from jail, and he was coming for me.
What if I hadn’t seen him? What if I was hallucinating? Maybe I have actually lost it. Perhaps, I was insane. It couldn’t be. I was sure of what I had seen. I only had to find a way to convince my family. I looked towards the woods again, and he was still there. He still had on that devilish smile.
“Help me…” I don’t know what later happened, because I passed out.
Written by Ekwebelum Chizurum Melody, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State, NIGERIA