They called it a ‘huggy’ jacket.
They said if you wore it, you would never feel alone. You would get hugs on demand, as many as you wanted. So you bought it.
And afterwards, you felt like most people do after new purchases; ‘Why didn’t I buy the other-color? What made me choose this one?’
You looked at it in your closet, feeling weird and childish. You wondered why anyone would need a jacket not to feel all alone and unwanted. You wondered how it is you fell for such an obvious scam.
After a while, you stopped wondering and just left the jacket hanging there.
And then, one afternoon, you were feeling down. No more than usual; but you had a bad case of the blues. There was power and all, but you didn’t want to watch anything. You weren’t in the mood for music either. You tried to read your books; at least maybe some line from Ekwensi or Achebe or Soyinka or Iyayi would make you laugh and lift the cloud that seemed to have taken home in your chest. So you started to read, and it was working.
You felt better.
In fact, you were just recovering from a bout of laughter thanks to Pa Achebe, when your glance happened on your ‘hug-me’ jacket. It made you laugh even harder – and then, it occurred to you to wear it. Let’s see if it works sef, you thought.
So you pull it on, enjoying the still-fresh new clothes smell. It fit you properly, just like it did at the store, but somehow much more. It wrapped itself around you like the arms of a baby, and you snuggled into it. It did feel like hugs all over. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all; you thought.
So you started to make your way back to your back and the Achebe novel you were halfway through when you felt something move across your back. You stopped and reached – but didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. You continued on – and then, the jacket you were wearing seemed to come alive. Before you could do more than gasp in shock, fluffy arms tightened themselves around your throat.
Your arms dart up – but in the next moment, the ones around your chest, torso, and trunk all started to tighten. You called out – but your voice died in your throat, much like the spit that suddenly started to flood your mouth. You thought it was a joke – a cruel prank someone was playing on you. You kept thinking any moment now and the pressure would ease off your throat…
Till you heard a loud, wet crack. And insane pain flooded your insides. And although it had never happened to you before then, you had read enough books and seen enough movies to know what happened.
A rib just cracked.
You are going to die; you suddenly realized with intense clarity. You stagger towards the door, intending to get to the kitchen for a knife and hacking –
NEPA choose that moment to take power. You slammed into the bed and to your knees. And then you knew; it wasn’t NEPA at all.
Your sight…everything was turning black.
Pain started at the tips of your fingers; you had torn them open clawing at the polyester arms around your throat. Your last conscious thought is that you had to be dreaming; this couldn’t be how you would end your life…your journey here…
Everything went black.
If you had read the instructions on the inside of the jacket, you would seen a small warning in red on the back of the label;
NOTICE: Be careful. Might become too friendly if neglected for a long time.