Halloween is back and nothing says Halloween like a scary story. So switch off your lights, pull your blankets closer, and enjoy The Visitor by Nyameko. And of course, like, share and comment at will…
He would be back again. The dark stranger, he always came when the night was darkest. The midnight visitor always came just as Xola reached that sacred minute between consciousness and dream. In seconds a meadow of green grass would transform into a hell landscape littered with the skulls of babies, or worse it transformed into his bed.
Then the dreams would be so much more malevolent and vivid. It had been months since he had had a good night’s rest. His friends had even suggested he seek medical help for his insomnia. They didn’t know about the dreams. The dreams had started after a particularly painful car ride. Decapitation is not the ideal way to lose a mother. She had been his shield on those terrible nights even against his stepdad. Sometimes it was easier to re-live the car ride than to fall asleep.
Xola had read stories about utikoloshi (African zombie dwarf) visiting women, in the night, with his 3 meter “African black snake” slung over his head. Most of these women couldn’t sleep for a week after these visits. Those visits happened once in a lifetime. His visits were much more frequent and always left him diminished in the morning.
Slumped over the computer, he smelt the tendrils of sleep’s comforting hand dragging him down to the warm depths of dreamland. “If…if…if…I sleep now I can wake before he comes” he nervously stammered to himself. “If I…take a shower with salt, he won’t come near me,” he thought with a hysterical yet hopeful giggle. “There is no other way but to let him take me and do as he likes.” Rage welled up inside him. “How can I take this just lying down, I am a grown ass man, when did I start being so timid?” The fire burned for only a moment. He knew the visit was inevitable, so was his surrender. His final thought before he surrendered to sleep’s all-powerful assault.
The soft comforting tingle of sun on skin was the first thing he felt. The warm orange glow of sunset seeping through sleep drenched lashes. He felt the sweet soily smell of a summer shower on warm earth. It did not prepare him for what he saw and heard next. He caught sight of the light blue glistening grass made that much more dazzling by an orange sun reflecting off silver butterfly wings playing hide and seek between shimmering scent trails. He watched as the grass and reeds moved to compose nature’s symphony. The breeze was an excellent conductor. There were a few times when he felt such utter contentment. An image flashed from the depths of his mind.
The orchestra of raindrops on a corrugated iron roof floated to the surface, bringing with it a distant memory of a soothing voice. “chos chos ngantsomi”(Xhosa for once upon a time). The grass and sweet scent of his grandmother filled the room. He felt warm and safe as each word in the folktale worked their opiate effect on his already dwindling senses. He tried to hold on to that moment, wanted to stay in that moment, but….
Other images started flashing past. And a voice wafted through it all. “Son, it is time to go to bed, no more TV, tomorrow is a school day” He was back laying on the grass, the last sentence echoing in his mind. It dwindled down to one word filled with longing and so much promise: Son, Son, Son. Night crashed into existence, its companion a loud, dull, crushing silence. His desperation started heating up and starting to bubble over, finally reaching a crescendo as he realized what was coming next. The changing landscape seemed to darken as his heart sank lower and lower. He was no longer in a sprawling meadow but in his bed. His legs were too long, the posters on the wall were from a decade ago. He could even see the scratches he had made to mark his growth.
The door stealthily opened. He squeezed his eyes shut. After a moment, he opened his eyes slowly, first a millimeter, then a little wider. He watched as a dark head slunk in and looked at him. “No!!! He is coming for me! A silent scream only he could hear. There was no one to hear him not even her. There was no one to save him. He only had himself in this whole world. Well, he only had himself and the head. First the head then body followed. “There is no way he can be that tall. No way he can be that big. No way he can be that powerful.” In that second, knowing what was coming next, what was about to happen to him, what the figure longed for, he knew he was powerless. He knew he was alone. “I’m only 12 years old, what can I do against him? No! I am not 12, I am 25!” but even as he told himself he knew he could do nothing. Everything that had happened before was about to happen again.
The figure slithered closer and closer. Xola opened his mouth to scream, but couldn’t. Instead, he pretended to be asleep swallowing the acidic scream. “If he thinks I am sleeping he won’t….” “I know you ain’t asleep”. The covers were suddenly dragged off even as he clung desperately to keep himself covered. “It’s too late,” he thought as he was dumped onto his tummy. Next, his pants were pulled off. The hand was getting closer to his center, first a centimeter then closer and closer. Long, thin fingers slithered over his skin, leaving a trail of huddled goosebumps cowering at the prospect of what was to come next. “You can’t escape me now. I have you. There is nothing you can do.” The voice reverberated through his head, dousing the last flames of protest. As a child, this was often the only part he remembered of the dreams. He had tried to tell his older sister about them, but the slap and guilty look on her face had shut him faster pillowcase in the mouth.
Nails dug into his thighs leaving deep streaks of pain, drumming down his leg. He was on his back again; the figure was floating above him. Its eyes cold, its clawlike hands raised. The hand came down and plunged into his stomach, puncturing intestines, toying with them, pulling, and taking a chunk along with it. It came down again, ripping his ribcage open, exposing his heart. No!! please No!!! I don’t want this. I don’t want this. Please stop! The figure pulled out a knife and shredded his penis. Claws came down and ripped his balls off, before crushing them and shoving them into his mouth. There was nothing he could do, but watch as time and time again the claw, the knife then a hammer came down, ripping, cutting and crushing. The pain and the sound eclipsed all other senses with slow and methodical thrusts, first a centimeter, then longer, deeper, and harder. Every strike more brutal, deeper, widening the hole left behind by its last thrust. The sound of the claw on flesh making a twanging, rhythmic sound that was building momentum and tempo reaching for a climatic finish. The voice came again, empty, husky satisfied: “If you tell anyone, I will…”
He didn’t hear the last words as he was ripped back to consciousness. There was a frantic knock at the door. “Are you ok? I heard screaming”. It was his neighbor. The computer screen was flashing, the keyboard keys biting into his cheek and was back in his apartment. He had survived another visit. He tried to lift his head, but his heart was in pain, it somehow did not feel like it was there. The beat felt as if it was more out of habit than because his heart was beating. He had heard of phantom limbs, but never phantom heart. His arms felt as if 10-ton weights had been welded onto them, then the weights were thrown off opposite ends of the earth. His privates felt like they were in tatters. He could still feel every cut, every rip of the claw and every smash of the hammer, but he had survived. He was alive. The effects always stayed long after the visit. The visits always came with flashes of long forgotten memories of old posters, a bed and a door opening into darkness.
He stood up unsteadily to go open the door. It really was his neighbor Sima. She was wearing a short near transparent hello kitty nightdress with pink fluffy bunny slippers. Her hair was a mess, her eyes baggy and red but she looked good enough to eat. “I’m ok, just a nightmare”, he said hoarsely taking a second to catch his breath after every word. “Are you sure?” Any other day he would have used this opportunity to get her into his apartment, to try and see what hello kitty was hiding. But not tonight, he felt too diminished. “Yes, I’m ok. I’m sorry for waking you”. She turned around and he watched her walk to her door, after which he closed the door.
He wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take. He had to at least talk to someone. “Who is going to believe me when I say my dreams are visited by a tall dark stranger who takes me back to my old room and does unspeakable things to me, I have a better chance of being believed if I say I get raped by a tikoloshe every night”. “There has to be a reason why I keep getting these disturbing dreams”. “No way am I going to sleep again tonight,” He thought to himself as he walked to the balcony and lit a cigarette and waited for the sun to rise.