Don’t ever imagine that the nights are safe…
That within the darkness which envelops the earth at night, you could walk about without fear – dance in the moonlight, count the twinkling stars and listen to frogs croak and crickets chirp.
Don’t ever imagine that – because you are human. There are spirits and then there are those that are in between. They are neither humans nor spirits, they are demons, and they live the night differently.
There was a long street in an estate – that kind of street that had pot-holes on its tarred road and huge refuse bins in front of buildings of bungalows and duplexes – lived in by wealthy folk who rode in exotic cars and married women with big asses and chubby cheeks.
These women never spoke to one another. They believed that by ignoring the others, they would show off their superiority; in the wealth of their husbands, the model of their cars, the beauty of their children and in the opulence of the schools these children attended.
It was the only street in this very old estate. People came and left, tenants moved in and vacated after some years, reluctant to leave because in this street, everyone minded their own businesses.
Men in this street respected themselves and controlled their libido when they were in the estate, and their wives watched carefully for what they wouldn’t tolerate was having their husbands stare at some of the single ladies who lived in the boys-quarters attached to some of the estate buildings.
It was in this street that one day, a woman came to live.
She was forty-five years old. She was neither fat nor slim, yet when she walked down the street, her backside wiggled this way and that, and men driving by with their women and children in the car would strain not to stare. Beneath the watchful glare of their wives, they would turn their attentions to the birds above and watch them flop from one coconut tree to another. But even that was a herculean task.
This woman was neither fair nor dark, some would say she had the complexion of milk chocolate. It was that kind of complexion that made you want to stop her and ask;
“Miss ‘scuse me. Please tell me, what kind of cream do you apply on your skin?”
She wore her hair in an afro. Each time she stepped out of her apartment, she sprayed some perfume on it, and the scent would trail her all the way down to the end of the street.
The men she passed would inhale it and feel a stirring interest.
This woman lived in a four-bedroom bungalow, all by herself.
No one knew who she was or where she had come from, but then, no one cared to know anything about anyone in this godforsaken estate.
But then, since she had moved in…
At night, things would happen.
Imagine yourself in this street as described. You live with your wife and three children; two boys and a lovely girl.
A woman – a beautiful woman – has recently moved in, just down the street, and you have seen her a few times with her wiggling backside coming down past your house.
Imagine then, one night, you hear the sound of a flute. The first time you hear it you ask your wife. She can hear it, she says. She is not deaf, she tells you. Your children tell you they can hear it, too.
It is melodic. It beckons you to sleep. Then, a gentle breeze comes. It throws the curtains up and out of the way and you see someone, a beautiful woman, standing on air by your window. Her chest bare, her face ashen. But, her head…
Her head is that of a pigeon or a goat or a lizard.
Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine that.
That night, the man’s wife heard the sound of the flute and got goosebumps on her arms. She looked down at them, then up at her husband.
She followed his blank gaze toward the window.
Someone was standing there – a bare-chested woman.
Slowly, the wife stood and walked over to the window, as if in a trance. Her hands reached out to the mysterious figure. She grabbed the breasts and, moaning loudly, took one of the nipples into her mouth.
At this sight, the man of the house was overcome. His muscles tightened. His brain shut down as he closed his eyes to feel the sensation of fear and desire rushing into his brain. He pulled down the trousers of his pyjamas and took off his top, and then lay down naked upon the cold tiled floor.
Suddenly, the three children appeared in the doorway.
The man jolted and stood. He was naked, his wife was moaning.
The children screamed in terror at the sight of the strange being by the window.
Their mother collected herself and made a sound like a cat that had been trampled on as she collapsed. She lay there gasping, and the children watched in horror. The being at the window had vanished.
The sound of the flute began to fade, slowly and slowly until it could be heard no more. The wife stared down at the floor, shamefaced. The man was getting dressed, saying to the children, “What are you doing awake? Go to bed. Go to bed! Hurry!” But he couldn’t look them in the eyes.
The children scampered back up to their rooms, crying.
They hadn’t seen a bare-chested woman. What they had seen was a woman flying on air, without wings. Her mouth was filled with teeth as long as nails. Her eyes were as the eyes of an alligator, but in flames. That was why they’d screamed.
That was the first night, the first night of the flute, and so it continued, every night. It could happen anytime. Just when the woman wanted – when she was done with her day’s chores, she would strip herself, bring out her flute and begin to play.
Men in this street began to return home early.
None among them wanted to miss this inexplicable experience. They simultaneously dreaded and looked forward to it.
It had all happened to them all, in different ways, different experiences. As their faces were different, so were their experiences. One man who was in his seventies and who was a retired pastor had just gone to bed when he heard the melodies from the flute. He woke up and noticed that in his room, maidens, uncountable maidens, danced around his bed. They had breasts as large as drums and heads as small as peanuts. He screamed and screamed and pushed himself to the wall, pleading that the wall should swallow him, but no one could hear him. Who would? For at that time, everyone was prisoner to his own experience. When the sound ended and the maidens were gone, he noticed that his bed was wet with semen. He found his bible, his hands trembling and read from a chapter in the book of Psalms, to purge himself of what he thought was an act of sin.
No one talked about their experiences. The children didn’t ask their parents and parents never asked the children what they saw on those nights. Men stopped drinking late. Women stopped watching late night soap operas.
In their dreams, some ran thousands of miles nonstop, chasing a beautiful naked woman. Others flew over one million feet above sea level and saw from there, dinosaurs biting off people’s heads. When they woke, their bed linens would be soaked in sweat and body fluids.
Soon, this strange woman had lived in the estate for a month, then three months, then six months.
Things changed. Women came out in the mornings to watch her walk by, down to the estate gate. Men came out, pretending to be cleaning their cars or do one thing or another, only to catch a glimpse of her. She was all they dreamt about.
Children fell in love with her. On Saturdays, they went to her apartment, arriving in twos and threes until eventually, the entire street’s children were there. They would clean the woman’s house until it sparkled and washed the plates and pots until they shone. The woman would sit and laugh endlessly; her laughter would filter into all the apartments down the street and cause the men to look at their wives with hatred.
This had various effects – some men would beat their women. Some cursed them, some stabbed, and others fought until they were weak and fell to despair.
What was most bizarre, or perhaps not, was that since that woman moved into the estate, no man had again made love to his wife.
Six months and counting.
When the children returned, the men would visit her. They would come, one after another until night fell.
No one ever met another inside the apartment, but as soon as one was leaving the door, another would enter. They avoided each other’s faces, ashamed. Yet, none could resist the urge.
At nights the flute would sound. Ecstasy followed, and agony and nightmares, they would continue. When the men came, they would find the woman naked on her bed. They would be enticed into a frenzied love making that lasted barely minutes, but to the men, it seemed to last hours – they would be left weak afterwards, avoiding the eyes of their women and children, refusing to look at the mirror, afraid of what they might see, of what they had become.
Once, a man was the last to arrive on a Saturday. It was almost 7pm. He found this woman covered in a black cloak, her face ashen.
She made him kneel before her. She took his head to her bosom – he felt the smoothness of the breasts and his body shook. His eyes closed in inexplicable tingling pleasure.
He lay there for a while with his eyes closed, breathing her skin, and when again he opened them – to his astonishment, he found himself transported to another world. In this world, humans were as tall as electric poles, but animals were rulers and men served them. In that world, he was a slave. He was a servant to an animal that looked like a kangaroo. He served the kangaroo and cleaned after it. He found himself, as tall as he was in this world, able to run into holes like a rat and emerge far away in another place.
When his head was pulled away from the woman’s breasts, he looked up at her, and found her face half-eaten by termites. Her teeth were as long as nails. She snarled like a wild animal, and lunged forward. She bit him – sinking those long teeth into his neck.
The man rose with great force, but the woman overpowered him, pinning him down. Her claws dug into him. Blood spurted from the man’s neck and ran down his shirt. She bit him all over the face and then released him. He ran out of the gate and down the street, passing his house, all the way down to the last building in the estate, screaming like a mad man. People peeped from their windows. His wife was able to get three men to help secure him. They chained him to a guava tree at the back of his house.
Some men in the estate had lost their jobs, for some days they slept until 11am and reported to work late, or not at all. Some slept the entire day and dreamed dreams that made them shiver in fear when they woke. A few others who ran their own businesses had closed down or left them in the care of their subordinates. The wives became the breadwinners; they were infused with greater energy and they worked harder.
The rest of the men stood in front of their apartments every morning to watch the woman walk by, wiggling her backside, and then they would stand for hours awaiting her return.
Five men turned insane, another five were teetering on the edge of sanity and twelve had lost their jobs. They looked haggard, hungry and hopeless.
Children were different – when they returned from school, they visited each other’s apartments and played until evening, when they ran home out of fear of the dark. They never discussed what happened at nights, or what happened on those Saturdays when they worked in the witch’s house.
One day, a young man of twenty-five moved into the estate.
He rented a flat in a building midway down the street. He ran his own business, an ICT firm. He owned a 2010 Toyota Highlander and had a girlfriend that was tall and fair. So fair, in fact, that her body illuminated the house at nights when the lights went out.
The day the young man came to live in this estate, the woman noticed that someone special had arrived. Some evenings later, she stripped herself and lay down upon her tiled floor.
She began to play her flute.
This young man had just returned from work. There were unpacked cartons in his sitting room. He was about to begin unpacking and arranging his new apartment when he heard the strange melody.
It was the most moving tune he’d ever heard.
He went over to the open window and listened. His eyes swooned, goosebumps rose across his skin, his head swelled and swelled to indescribable size and he feared that it was going to burst. He screamed. And fell.
Some minutes later, he opened his eyes and saw before him, looming over him, a woman. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He thought he was dreaming. He sat up, rubbing his eyes, and noticed just then that this figure was nude. He stepped backward as blood rushed into his brain, his knees became weak and his legs trembled. His mouth threw open and all his muscles stood as hormones came alive.
He couldn’t control himself. He found himself reaching out to her – compelled by a great force of desire and lust.
She took his hand and placed it on herself, and moaned with ecstasy. When she moaned, it sounded like a cathedral bell tolling in his head. He fell back and the woman climbed on top of him and rode him.
That night, everyone in the estate noticed a sudden change.
An absence, tranquillity they hadn’t felt in six months.
It was as if the woman had packed away.
No thoughts of orgies or dreams of dinosaurs. No beating of their wives or screaming at their children.
The next morning, the men woke up on time and left for work. The wives went about their normal business and some went to the store for groceries.
But, the young man who had recently moved in still lay sound asleep upon the floor of his sitting room. Later, his girlfriend came up and unlocked the door. When it opened, she screamed. The young man woke with a start and noticed himself naked. His stomach and groin were smeared with the dried fluids from the night before. He cowered in shame, remembering all that had happened. His girlfriend, looking down at this dreadful sight, was heartbroken. She backed away till she hit the door.
“Hey! It is not what you think!” he yelled, trying to sit up. “It is not what you think!”
His girlfriend began to sob. “What do you want me to think? That you moved in yesterday, your things still unpacked, and yet you invited a whore here and fucked till you forgot yourself?”
“No!” he pleaded. “No!”
They had planned on getting married, and their parents had fixed the wedding for two months time.
“Someone came here.”
“A woman,” he answered. “A witch! Yes, a witch! Believe me, this place is evil.”
“Fuck you!” she screamed at him and ran out.
The young man did not go to work. He took a hot bath and sat on his bed, cradling his head in his hands, trying to make sense of what had happened here, in this place, sighing over and over again.
For the first time in his adult life, he wept.
In the evening, as the young man was sweeping his apartment after unpacking his boxes, the flute sounded again.
When he heard it, he turned toward the window and placed his hands over his ears. Not again, he said to himself, trying to block out the melody of the flute. It seemed as if a loudspeaker sounded in his ears, its messages enchanting him.
The wind blew and threw his newly fixed curtains up, his sliding glass door opened wide along the rail and the witch from the night before flew in.
“My love,” she laughed. “For six months, I have been waiting for you…”
The young man drew back, looking up at her, wide-eyed with horror. Her face was golden, sparkling in ways that blinded him – as if looking into the sun. Her hair was long and hung all the way down to her ankles.
“Tell me you love me,” she cooed.
The young man shivered. His legs trembled.
At this, the woman strode toward him and grabbed him by the neck. She raised his face up to her own. Blood rushed through his veins.
“I would hate to hurt you,” she whispered and kissed him hard upon the mouth. “Tell me you ache for me. Tell me you thirst for me.”
She took his hand in her own and led it across her body. His entire body shook in fear and lust. His manhood nodded several times in his trousers.
When she let go of him, still his hands roamed, exploring and worshipping until his eyes glazed over. She removed his pants, hoisted her skirt and rode him. Their moans travelled through the night, down the street, audible by all. The men of the street all came out and wandered about, thirsting for her, looking for her, searching for the source of the moans.
A car pulled up into the driveway outside, and the man’s girlfriend got out. She had come to apologise to him for the way she had acted earlier.
Hearing the moans, a sudden sense of dread crashed over her in waves. She saw men walking about aimlessly, like zombies. She hurried to her boyfriend’s apartment.
She found him all alone on the floor, touching, caressing, grabbing, pounding and moaning.
She screamed his name, “Teju!”
The curtains threw up as if her words were carried on the wind and her man became calm. He opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. His body was covered in fluid.
“Teju, dear, what are you doing?”
She looked about. She had noticed he’d unpacked all of his things, but something was amiss. Something felt wrong here.
“Teju? Who was here? Wake up. Can you see me?”
She slapped his cheek and he collected himself. She helped him up into a sitting position.
“She came again,” he said in a shaky voice. “The woman I told you about.”
“Oh my God.” She sat down beside him. “A witch?”
“I believe she is a witch, yes.”
“What did she do to you?”
He said nothing. He tried to stand up but he was too weak.
“Teju? Tell me what she did to you?”
“I don’t know. I think she made love… she fucked me.”
“God! Come,” she said to him. “Come!” She helped him up and they walked to the bathroom and she helped him into the shower, where she washed his body clean.
“You have to come with me to the house. We need to tell mum.”
“Your house? No. Tell her what? That a woman comes to seduce me every night? She will say I am crazy.”
He shook his head as he dressed in fresh pyjamas. “Darling, you should sleep here, tonight.”
“Are you scared?”
He looked away.
“I will stay the night then.”
Every evening, for five days, she would come and stay with Teju and the enchantress would not interfere. Then one evening, as she was about to leave for her house, she heard it.
“Teju, I can hear the sound of a flute or something like that—”
“Jesus! Sola it is her. It is her, oh!” he whimpered and ran to his girlfriend. The flute grew louder and louder, sounding more and more like a trumpet. She held him close.
A man living close by was on the table with his family. Then demons with seven heads appeared. They first grabbed his wife and flung her to the kitchen door, she broke her waist. The man screamed and one of the demons reached for his head, and grabbed it in his hand and squeezed, the man could hear his skull squashing, cracking, then he fell and fainted. The children ran to the toilet and locked the door. The demons danced some atilogwu in the sitting room, bidding their time, waiting for them to come out or for their parents to wake.
The man who was the first to be enchanted with his family six months earlier was playing Ludo with his wife when they heard the flute. It sounded sad this time. They paused. The kids heard it as they sat watching the Cartoon Network. The man stood and stared around. Then a masquerade walked through the locked door. Its head was covered in a big mask, as big as a wine barrel. It wore a long gown sewn with feathers of various colours. The man and the wife ran to the kitchen, the kids ran helter-skelter.
A young couple who lived in the last mansion in the street, had just finished ironing some cloths in the laundry room, when they heard the sad sound of the flute. The wife screamed as she saw her husband’s body shrinking. She screamed till she lost her senses.
A little child, a girl, was on her small bed, holding a teddy to her chest when the sound came to her, she began to hum to it but then seven boys that had long teeth and nails came into the room and danced round her bed. She cried and screamed but in the kitchen her mother had seen her father touching a woman whose feet was on the air and drew out a knife and stabbed, but when the knife hit her husband it broke. She screamed and fell.
So it was. Everyone to their experience. The things that happened that night.
At the young man’s house, his girlfriend held him close. For five days they had lived in peace, and now that peace was shattered – as the large glass window burst and showered them with glass where they stood. Sola opened her eyes to see a tall woman standing before them.
“Who are you?” she asked defiantly.
“So, it is you?” the witch growled. “It is you who has come to stand in between us?”
She strode forward and grabbed Sola by the wrist. She grinned at her and effortlessly, flung Sola up into the ceiling. She broke the ceiling boards above and collapsed down to the floor.
“Leave him! Do not harm him!” the girl managed to scream.
The witch laughed hysterically.
Sola grabbed the woman by the legs with the strength left in her and tried to pull them out from under her. The witch laughed and slapped the young girl across the cheek, slicing her open. Blood poured across her face. She crawled backward and the witch was on her, grinning maliciously.
Her mouth was filled with rows of long, sharp teeth. She grabbed at Sola’s blouse, but the young girl pulled free and fled to the kitchen.
Sola grabbed a jug of water from the kitchen countertop and threw it at her. The jug shattered against the wall beside the witch’s head. Where the water splashed, to Sola’s surprise, flames erupted like volcanoes from the demon’s skin.
The witch fell to the ground, screaming.
“I love him!” the evil temptress howled.
Sola was at the sink, filling a bowl with water.
“No! No!” she said, turning. “I love him!”
The flames were consuming the witch where she crouched, engulfing her, bubbling the skin and scorching the hair.
Sola could smell the body burning. With the bowl of water, she ran at the flames and cast the water over the body – not to extinguish it, for she had found the demon’s weakness.
The witch screamed horribly as the flames burnt hotter and hotter, brighter and brighter, until she burst into fragments of blinding light.
The next morning – a Saturday – the men of the estate coasted out into the street to look about, as if something had changed. A great weight had been lifted.
Soon, small groups began to form as the men drifted toward each other. It was the first time in over six months that they had talked. Then, more people began to join them. Not just the men, but women and children too.
The children laughed and fooled about, then ran down to the woman’s house, as they did every Saturday.
The adults, being able to think clearly for the first time in half a year, followed them. They knocked upon her door and received no answer. After a long talk, one man turned the door knob and found the door unlocked. Another peeped in through the windows and saw, in the sitting room, a pack of black dogs. Some stories said ten dogs, another fourteen dogs. But no one counted, for the dogs growled and barked all at once, and as the man opened the door – they bounded out.
Men fell on top of one another, women hit themselves against the fence and fell, screaming, calling God’s name in various tongues. Youths jumped the fence and their shirts caught the barbed wire and they fell back. Those that managed to jump over, got their skins cut and their legs broken. And the dogs, men, women and youths ran out everywhere, to God-knows-where.
Obinna Udenwe is the author of the award winning book, Satans & Shaitans. His ‘Holy Sex’ thriller won the Nigerian Writers Awards 2016 and was praised by the Guardian UK as the first to erotocise the Nigerian church in fiction.