I am running.
I do not know what I am running from or where I am running to. The first awareness of anything I have is that…
I am running.
And it is apparent; to me at least, that I am running scared.
I am breathing hard, my eyes are fuzzy and I can feel my extremities tremble. I look over my shoulder; trying to penetrate the inky blackness with the unaided power of mere sight. I might as well be attempting to move Zuma Rock with a shovel.
I am scared. Very, very scared.
I feel cold sweat running down my thighs. I hear the loud slaps of my feet as they hit the tarred surface of the road. A road I recognize all too well.
I’m running for my life right on my street. As in…the street I live on.
As of this moment, I have no idea what I am running from. I just know that I have to keep going. I don’t hear footsteps behind me, but I know that to stop would be suicide.
Despite the fact that I am running scared, I notice a strange thing. Contrary to horror movies, the background is not dark. No. It is one of those rare nights NEPA do not do what they usually do, so the street is brightly illuminated, thanks to the abundance of security lights and the neon lamp gracing the front of Mama Chidinma’s supermarket.
I wonder briefly; why I would notice that kind of detail when I am running to stay alive. I find no answer; the only sound being the rapid puff puff of my breaths as my lungs pump ferociously to provide me with the air to keep my legs swinging. But to be honest, I find myself faltering as my vision gets blurry. Briefly I think of Hussein Bolt and his desire to run a hundred meters in 9.04 seconds, and I wonder what kind of physique he must have. But I am not Hussein; I am but a banking hall cashier who is slightly overweight due to some privileges. I don’t know how long I can keep going…
And then the inevitable happens. Something rolls underneath my foot; I think it’s a pure water nylon or something – and then I lose balance. I struggle, trying to regain my equilibrium because to fall now would be fatal; and then my left foot hits my right shin.
I sprawl headlong.
I land on my chest, the air exploding from my lungs with a loud ‘oof!’ Despite the slight feeling of ‘floating’; as though I am not there, I instantly start to crawl…just to get as far away as possible from whatever it is that’s coming after me.
And then…as I struggle to rise, pair of feet appears in front of my prostrate form. As I blink, to clarify that I’m not imagining things, I realize why I was not able to hear the steps coming after me – the feet are a few inches above the ground.
I am about to tilt my head back; to try and see the face of the who or what is about to kill me, when a small detail about one of the feet in front of me attracts my attention. I look back down and see a small silver chain around one of the ankles. A small silver chain – with a tiny silver cross dangling from it.
I shudder; because the ankle looks incredibly familiar. I remember kissing around the chain – chuckling silently because I had felt so silly, but persisting because she liked it. A clammy heaviness settles in my belly, but I tell myself I have to know.
My eyes continue their upwards movement – past the light sprinkling of hair on her legs darkly black against light backdrop, past the slightly darker kneecaps, past the – and then I see the knife.
The pointed tip of the knife as it lay beside her thigh, held loosely in her fair fist. I try to swallow past the lump in my throat, ignoring the crick in the back of neck from turning it at such an extreme angle for so long…and look past the see-through negligee through which I can see her chest rise and fall with agitation…
It is my fiancé. Chinyere.
As my mouth opens in shock and I try to subdue that to ask why, she swings her arm back and brings the knife plunging towards my neck…
His back arches off the bed as he opens his mouth in a soundless scream. And then his eyes open, he stares blankly for a moment before he recognizes his surroundings. He is in his bedroom, the same bedroom he went to sleep in some three odd hours ago.
He breathes deeply and slumps back on the bed, wondering what the dream was about. Is his fiancé really trying to kill him?
He lies down and closes his eyes, trying to sleep again. He lays still for some seconds before his eyes flash open, fear evident in them. He had suddenly realized he was no longer alone.
He looks to the side of the bed and sees his fiancé Chinyere, who supposedly lives and works in Abuja; sitting beside him on his bed in his bedroom in Lagos State. She’s wearing the same clothes she was wearing the last time he saw her, and she looks beautiful – more beautiful than he can remember.
He tries to speak but there’s something wrong with his throat. She looks down at him and smiles.
“So you think you can run?” She asks, still smiling.
Then he sees the knife.