The soft knocking on the door jerked Lucy from the sofa in the living room where she laid sprawled out of exhaustion from the day’s work and endlessly waiting for her brother Jude to return from school.
The room was pitch dark, the ceiling fan had stopped rotating and beads of sweat rolled down her forehead and chest.
Lucy sat up on the sofa and searched for her cell phone. She remembered placing it on the small table next to the sofa where she laid. She found the phone and checked the time which read 1:30 am. What could still keep Jude out by this time; she wondered and prayed that nothing bad had happened to him.
The knock came again and this time, it was a bit louder, and she could hear shuffling feet outside. “Whoever it is that is outside her door should better be no one else but Jude”, she murmured.
With the aid of the dim light from her phone…
She found her way to the shelf that held her collection of antiques and picked up a vintage flashlight. The bright light almost completely swallowed the darkness in the room. Then Lucy walked up to the door with anticipation in every step she took. She peered into the peephole and saw nobody standing outside. “Who is it?” She asked, referring to whomever it was that knocked twice on her door. “Jude is that you?” She waited for a reply which was never coming. “Jude, if this is a kind of joke please stop it”. Her voice clearly holding a string of fright. Still, there was no response.
By then, filled with fear, the thoughts of burglars and bad night incidents crossed her mind and all she could think of was the safety of the brother.
Jude was supposed to come back for holidays on that day…
He was a university student in his 300 levels and was supposed to spend his three weeks holiday in school in preparation for a school project. But Lucy had begged him endlessly to come back and stay with her for a little while; to which he finally agreed and decided to come back on that day.
She got back from work early to prepare dinner for him. She did that hours ago. And with the day far gone, her brother nowhere in sight and tap-tapping on her door in the middle of the night, her only shield seemed to be terror.
Lucy dialled his number for the umpteenth time since she last spoke to him when he told her that he was in Oyigbo very close to Port-Harcourt where she lived. The machine voice of a lady rang through the speaker of her phone. “The number you are calling is currently unavailable, please try again later, thank you”. Lucy flung the phone out of anger and it landed on the wall causing the mobile device to disassemble in many pieces.
Lucy paced back and forth in the living room…
Tears were slowly forming in her eyes and she hated it. She hated finding herself in vulnerable situations and the fact that her brother was outside by that time of the day in the mercies of any dangerous thing out there was enough reason for her to cry.
She was wrapped in her thoughts and confusion when that knock came again. This time, it was more like a bang. “Who the hell are you?” She screamed out. There was no response still. “If you are a sort of a dumb fellow, just make a sound or something.” “If you are a thief, well I’m sorry to give you this bad news, I’m completely broke and I have nothing worth anything.” The only sound she could still hear was shuffling feet.
Lucy stormed into her kitchen and grabbed a knife; she found her way back to the living room and walked straight to the front door. Looking into the peephole again, she saw nobody. By now, all trace of fear had been drained out of her and all she wanted to know was who that knocker was.
She slid open the small latch and turned the key on the doorknob…
With two clicks, the door was unlocked. She turned the knob and opened the door, creating a small opening between the doorpost and the door, she let herself out.
All she could see were her two small flower pots that held her hibiscus flowers. There was nobody in sight. To her, the knocker who must have been a thief had left when she confessed how totally broke she was and had nothing of value.
She was about to go back inside when she noticed a pair of boots a few feet from where she was standing. That was a highly unusual one because her compound contained only two flats adjacent to each other and her neighbour who occupied the other flat had travelled. Also, she couldn’t remember seeing those boots when she got back from work earlier. To make matters worse, there was no power and her only source of light was the flashlight she was still holding since she got up.
The flashlight was still focused on the boots…
Then she suddenly saw it move. To Lucy, she was imagining things and that could be explained by the way her night had been going so far. She was still examining the pair when all of a sudden; the boots took two steps towards her.
Lucy screamed out loud and made to run back inside when she felt a sharp sting on her right cheek. It was more than any ordinary slap. The slap made her fall flat on her face with a big thud., and she literally saw stars. It took her minutes to recover. She opened her eyes and made to get up when she felt a big pressure press her back to the ground. She looked up and saw the pair of boots in front of her face, stretching her hand to touch it, she felt nothing, and it was like an empty space, it was like virtual reality, she could see the boots, but couldn’t touch or feel them.
Lucy laid there…
Her head began to feel cloudy and she couldn’t think or even understand what just happened to her. There was nothing to think at that moment, she felt like she was going to die, that whatever it was that pinned her down to the ground would eventually kill her. She silently wished she brought a better weapon than her kitchen knife, besides what weapon could she use in fighting an invisible somebody.
Her flashlight laid across the other side of the veranda where this incident was happening, the light was blinking on and off and she hoped it wouldn’t go off completely. Even the moonlight and stars seemed to be against her that night because darkness enveloped the night.
She spotted her kitchen knife close to the door and stretched her hand to reach out for it when it suddenly floated towards her. She let out a loud cry and tried to get up but all her efforts seemed useless because that force still pinned her to the ground. Suddenly, she felt her hands caught and tied together behind her, although she felt no rope or string used to fasten them together, she couldn’t disentangle them.
After what seemed like minutes…
Lucy felt the cold sharp steel of her knife on her neck. She didn’t make a move because it was totally useless trying. She saw herself like a turkey, slaughtered without mercy, used for dinner by a hungry cannibal. Soon, she felt the knife raised to a standing position on her neck; and it then trailed from her neck to her upper back. The piece of the silky t-shirt she wore came loose from the trail of the knife as she felt the cool night breeze against the skin on her back. Goose pimples laced with fear and cold sprung out all over the body starting from her back.
Whatever held that knife must have lifted it up to stab her when she heard a familiar voice scream. “Stop!” The knife hung midway in the air.
Lucy looked up and saw Jude standing there…
The flashlight focused on the bruises all over his legs and he stood like one his left leg suffered severe physical damage. “Jude…. Jude.” She called out, her voice almost a whisper. “Lucy it is me, I’ll get you out of this, I promise”. He limped closer to his sister, leaving trails of blood in every attempt of a step. “What happened to you?” She asked still face flat on the ground. “Lucy I’m sorry.” Jude apologized. “Why are you apologizing?” She asked trying to look up at him. “I’m sorry for bringing this to you.” He apologized again.
Lucy was visibly confused. She didn’t understand what Jude meant by saying he brought this on her, but she still hoped he’ll get her out of it as he said. She was about to get up when she felt the deep thrust of sharp steel on her left abdomen. Lucy screamed out in pain and just laid back helplessly.
“Stop hurting her please Big B, please take me in place of her, she has nothing to do with this.” Lucy heard her brother plead. In her bitter agony, she wondered who Big B was and what he had to do with Jude.
“We made an agreement Jude, we made a pact and you know I don’t break an agreement”. Lucy heard a strong hoarse voice more like an echo say. The voice belonged to no other person than the invisible being in boots, who was torturing her for no reason.
Her head spun and pounded, her body still pinned down on the floor was gradually losing strength and her stomach pumped out blood, slowly forming a pool around her torso.
“Please take me in place of her master, please don’t kill her, I beg you, don’t hurt my sister, she is all I have. She has nothing to do with this.” Jude pleaded again, amidst welled up eyes. “Of course she has everything to do with it and she is the one I want, not you.” The hoarse voice reverberated.
With three twirls, another strong force threw Jude on the floor…
He landed on the ground with his back and laid opposite his sister. Lucy looked up at him, seeing her precious brother in that situation made tears flow freely.
“I’m sorry sis,” Jude said with a low voice. “What is happening to me?” She asked, “He is my master.” “What master?” “I joined them sis.” “Joined who? Joined what?” “The Boots.” “You are confusing me, Jude, what Boots? “Brotherhood of oath, trust, sacrifice, I joined them, sis.” Jude was now crying profusely. “I was forced to join them. When I refused, they threatened to kill you, I had no other option sis, please forgive me.” He continued.
“What is these boots about?” Lucy asked…
“Is about nothing worth letting them kill you. It is a very deadly cult in school.” “So what do I have to with that?” “That is where I come in, I’m supposed to sacrifice one of my relative very dear to me, as a member of the cult, or I’ll die before 3 pm today. I never knew these were the conditions for being a member. It was because I didn’t want to lose you that I joined them in the first place and I can’t let them take you away. “But you have to live Jude, you can’t die for me, how would I live with that?”
“I brought this upon you sis, ever since mom and dad left us, you’ve always had my back. You are all I have and I can’t let them take you. “But your master wants me.” Lucy shrieked. “I can’t let him kill you.” “What happened to you, why are you all bloody?” “I travelled by a bus that got involved in an accident.
My master did it…
To stop me from coming here. He would have killed me at the spot but that is against the rules in Boots. He will lose his position as master if he kills without an official deliberation and consensus. Also, I would have gone in place of you, so he let me live so he could take you. I don’t have the strength to tell how I got here from the accident scene. I’ll have to save that to fight him”. Jude explained, all wearied out.
Ha-Ha “I’ll love to watch that fight.” Big B’s voice chimed in, interrupted the moment between the siblings. “Please I’m begging you, don’t kill her.” Jude still pleaded. “Watch me do it.” He threatened.
With every last ounce of strength left in Jude, he scrambled up and stood on his feet, all the weight of his body left abandoned on his better beg. He watched the kitchen knife pull up from his sister’s side and heard her yell in pain. It floated towards her back, giving itself a backward push, it made to pierce her back when Jude jumped on Lucy, letting the knife penetrate deep into his back. The sanguine coloured liquid from Jude slowly oozed out and streamed down Lucy’s body.
Lucy let out a loud cry…
She began to feel the motionless body of her brother on top of her. As soon as Jude stopped breathing, she felt all the pressure and force that pinned her down leave, only this time, it was replaced by the body of her brother. Her two hands were free but numb and so were her body, she couldn’t feel her legs anymore, or any part of her body. She just laid there, with her brother atop her, both covered in her own pool of blood and also his.
Soon, she felt her eyes beginning to drop and her breathing followed, she finally shut her eyes and so was her breathing.
Of all her twenty-seven years, she never pictured herself leaving the world the way she did, nor by her own kitchen knife nor by an invisible man in boots.
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