The second part of Femi’s Series, Hush, here on tlsplace. Great feedback on the first episode. Enjoy
Daniel was out of bed before I could say ‘Mary Poppins’. He was out the door and was running like crazy towards Zoë’s room, I was close behind. My heart was pounding. Was Zoë okay? What the hell was going on? Suddenly the distance to Zoë’s room seemed very far indeed.
It was Zoë again. My heart was breaking, what was happening to my daughter? I was scared. I tried to move faster. It was evident that Daniel was doing the same thing. He was running, back glistened in sweat, muscles flexing and for a micro second I had the most inappropriate thoughts. I banished them immediately as another Zoë scream rent the air.
Daniel screeched to a halt in front of her door. He stopped. What was he stopping for? Then, I saw Chi Chi. She was beside the room, quivering badly.
“What’s wrong?” asked Daniel.
She didn’t say anything, she just stood there quivering. I had gotten there now and had a feeling of foreboding. Chi Chi was crying now. I just scoffed and turned my attention to the matter at hand.
“It’s okay.” I whispered. Daniel turned the door knob slowly and opened the door.
“Oh dear.” He said in a low voice.
It looked like a hurricane had gone through the room. Her little table was overturned, her piggy bank lay shattered on the floor, her wardrobe doors barely held on to its hinges and in the middle of it all sat Zoë on her bed trembling horribly.
“Oh my God! Baby?” Daniel went to her bed where she leapt into his waiting arms. He stroked her hair and whispered.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
She was heaving as she clung to him desperately.
“I’m right here sweetheart.” I answered.
Daniel turned away to take in the mess. I had been staring at her bedside table, for whatever reason it was unaffected. It held a small framed photograph of a visit to the Grand Canyon that we took last year. I hated the picture. I had tried to persuade Zoë to get rid of it but she just wouldn’t budge, it seemed as if she just didn’t want to answer me. We stood together with genuine smiles on our faces with the Grand Canyon in the background. I had a scarf on. It was the reason I hated the picture, it was while I had the cancer and my hair had started to fall out, I decided there and then that we were going to take another family picture.
I went and held Zoë, she needed her mother too. She shivered. It must be the cold, the windows were shattered. Then Daniel asked the question that was on everyone’s minds.
“What the hell happened here?”
Zoë didn’t seem to want to answer.
“Hey honey?” Daniel asked in a low steady voice. “Tell daddy what happened here?”
Zoë’s eyes welled with tears. I touched Daniel’s shoulder.
“Babe, that’s enough. She doesn’t want to talk. She’s scared. Give her some time.”
Daniel gave a small smile and kissed Zoë’s forehead.
“I’m sorry baby. You don’t have to answer daddy’s questions. Would you come and sleep in my room?”
She looked up and smiled. A sad, watery, but beautiful smile.
“With mummy?” she asked.
Daniel smiled reassuringly.
“Yes, with mummy. Where else would she sleep?”
The next couple of days passed without incident, but the shadow of that night lingered within the house and Zoë had to sleep in our room for the next couple of nights. She was too scared to go back and we had to clean the place up anyways. I woke up sometimes to see Daniel holding her, rocking her back to sleep. Her cheeks would be wet with tears and her open eyes would show her fear. I wanted to cry as well those nights. I wondered what had come to her room that night. I had asked Daniel, but he seemed too troubled to even speak, I could see the fear in his eyes too, he feared for his family and nothing bred fear like the unknown, he did not understand what was going on, neither did i. One thing I was sure of was that, I didn’t like it and those were the thoughts going through my head as I sat in front of my mirror brushing my hair absent mindedly. It felt so good to have full hair again! I had taken it for granted, never again. Thoughts were flitting in and out of my head as I sat there just brushing my hair.
Movement caught my eye and I spun round to see what it was. I gasped and let out a little shriek as I stared at the woman before me. I lost color as the fear came to a head. She was in white. Her skin was black but had a translucent look to them. She had long black hair that covered her face. All I could make out were her lips, which carried a slight frown. She looked like she had drowned, because she was wet and dripping, her hair was matted and pasted to her face. I looked at the carpet, but there were no wet patches as you’d expect from someone dripping all over your bedroom carpet. This had to be an apparition.
And then she started to advance towards me. My knees fell weak and I crumpled to the floor. I was shaking and holding back tears. Who was this and why was she after me?
“What do you want?” I said.
That was supposed to sound strong. Yeah, right. I sounded like a scared puppy. I WAS a scared puppy. I backed away slowly and she just kept advancing. I kept backing up until I felt the dresser behind me. I had nowhere else to run!
“What do you want?”
My voice sounded weaker this time. She came ever closer. I could hear her nasal breathing, the sound of the water dripping, hitting the floor but having no impact and I could see parts of her face now. It looked grey and rotten, small pieces of flesh hung loosely from her cheeks and I could see her cheek bones, her actual cheek bones! I sat there whimpering; wondering what was going to happen next. She leaned in closer to my ear. I held my breath, she was going to eat me, this was the end. I heard her ragged breath, I could barely take in the putrid smell of rotten flesh and God knows what else. She whispered in my ear.
My strength returned and I pushed past her. She gave no resistance. I was running to the door of the room, looking for sweet relief and escape. I got to the door and opened it and then I ran out into…. The woods? I stopped for a second and turned back, but there was no door there. I was in the middle of nowhere. The trees where densely packed and I could make out just a sliver of moonlight, that was all I could see. Oh my God! Where was i? Then I heard sounds and I started to run. Where was I running to? I had no idea; neither did I know what I was running from. I just ran. Then I stopped suddenly. Everywhere was quiet. There was not a single sound, no crickets, no swish from the trees, nothing. I stood there, panting for a bit. I stopped and took in my surroundings. There was nothing to take in. It was like the calm before the storm. Then, just as suddenly as the noises stopped, I heard an ear splitting scream.
“NOOOOOO! MUM, NOOOOO!”
I would recognize that voice anywhere. It was my baby.
“MUM? WHERE ARE YOU?”
I started running again. I didn’t know where the voice was coming from. It seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere. I was crying and whispering.
“I’m coming baby, mummy’s coming.”
Brambles tore at my heels, I fell over numerous branches, nettles stuck to my feet as I ran, feeling pain but ignoring it, not caring what happened to me. I didn’t even remember losing my shoes. I stepped into something moist, I had no idea what it was, but I soon felt the sting from what I was sure were several ants. They bit away at my feet as I stumbled along looking for Zoë.
No answer. I just kept running, branches ripped at my clothes and thorns cut my feet. I was bleeding everywhere. I fell over. I staggered to my feet and looked back at what caused my fall. My eyes widened. It was the prone figure of a man, he wasn’t moving. I crawled towards him painfully and the closer I got, the more dread filled me for I had an ominous feeling about this. I got to the figure and looked at the face… at Daniel’s face. I collapsed into tears. Why was this happening? What was happening?
I turned my head. My heart was breaking but I had to go for Zoë. I left the dead figure of my fiancé and went looking for my daughter. Suddenly, the trees stopped and I found myself in the middle of a plain area. There were trees on the other side that looked just as dark and foreboding as the ones I just left. The scene was dominated by a huge hole. There was freshly dug earth on the other side of it and there with her back facing me, stood Zoë. I felt relief wash over me as I headed towards her. But then I stopped. Something was wrong. Zoë was standing too still, head bowed as if crying. She was in a simple black sleeveless dress. I hadn’t picked out that one. I moved closer and touched her shoulder. She was clutching Henry tight. Henry was her stuffed rabbit. She turned to me slowly. I gasped. Her eyes were as huge as saucers and they were black and vacant. She looked like a zombie.
She stared at me, nonplussed.
“Don’t leave me.” She said simply.
“Never. Baby, I’ll never leave you.”
She stretched out her hand and I took it. Suddenly, I felt pain at the base of my neck and I fell to the ground unconscious.
I literarily jumped out of bed, a scream in my throat. I was breathing hard. It was just a dream. It felt so real though. I had just begun to relax, when I heard footsteps hurrying up the stairs. The door banged open and there stood Chi Chi. Bile rose in my throat. How dare she come in here, seeing me in distress like this? Hatred rose in me like a freight train. It was disastrous and devastating.
“Get out!” I spat at her.
She looked bewildered, like she didn’t understand.
“Get out, now!”
But this time, it wasn’t because I was angry. The woman in the white dress stood behind her. How she got there, I didn’t know. Her slit of a mouth turned upward into a smile and before I could do anything, she grabbed Chi Chi’s face and with monstrous force, bashed her into the wall. Chi Chi crumpled to the floor. I ran to her, the back of her head was bleeding and she was still, too still.
It was Daniel. I turned to where my tormentor was… she was gone.
“Daddy, Daddy.” That was probably Zoëglomping the poor man.
“Hi honey. Let me go upstairs for a bit.” I heard his footfalls as he made his way to the room. I was frozen there. What would he think?
Daniel came in and froze.
“What the hell happened here?”
I was at a loss on how to respond. He hurried to Chi Chi’s side. A flash of jealousy flashed through me. I know, it was inappropriate but, just watching the way he carried her and made for the car made my suspicions of a little aside between them more vicious.
We asked a neighbor to come look after Zoë, a late teenager. I was uncomfortable leaving my baby with her, but a hospital was no place for a little girl at a time like this. The doctors spoke to us later on and said she awoke screaming ‘I want to go home, I want to go home. It was her. I would never have thought’ and that she fell unconscious again after that. It made no sense to either Daniel or me. Was something or someone haunting Chi Chi? Daniel stood beside me deep in thought.
“I really have to find out what’s going on?” He said. I nodded.
We were sitting there when Mr. Oliver, one of our neighbors just happened to pass by. He stopped by for a little chit chat. He was an old man, probably in his mid-seventies, with a jovial smile and a quick hello for us every time he saw us. I like him; he seemed like a nice man.
“Hello Daniel. How is Zoë?”
“She’s very fine thank you.”
“She looks more and more like her mother every day.” I blushed slightly
“Why are you here sir?” asked Daniel.
“I’m an old man you know.” He said with a twinkle in his eye “I just came to pick up some of my medication…. Why are you here?” Daniel stopped smiling then. He seemed to look left and right to make sure that no one was within earshot, he then shifted closer to Mr. Oliver.
“Sir. You’ve lived in that area for a long time sir…” He then proceeded to explain everything to the man. When he was done, the old man seemed deep in thought, worried even.
“I would never have thought…” Daniel looked a little scared now
“What is it sir?” Asked Daniel frantically
“Well, I’ve never really paid attention to superstition, but I remember, a couple of years ago, the last occupant, a nice young lady… she killed herself.” We let it sink in slowly. Daniel looked like he’d just frozen.
“So, um…um…you…mean, like a ghost?” He sputtered. Mr. Oliver then proceeded to tell us about an unhappy marriage.
“She loved her husband fiercely” He started “But it was also extreme, they had two children together. They fought nonstop, she’d break bottles, threaten him with a knife, threaten to kill herself and the kids if he ever left or hurt her… it was strange, but she loved him.” He smiled for a moment. “They were a lovely couple.” Then he frowned. “But such things have their limit. One day, after a particularly nasty fight, the husband moved out of the house, taking the kids along in the middle of the night while their mother slept. When she discovered, it was too late. They were nowhere to be found and believe me, she looked everywhere. She fell into a deep depression. She cried, refused to leave the house, refused to eat or sleep. One day, she just killed herself.”
Daniel looked like he’d been shot.
“What did she do exactly?”
“Well… she drowned herself in her bathtub.” Now it was my turn to look like I’d been shot. I rose suddenly; I just had a bad feeling right now. I had to get home.
“Daniel, I’m going to check on my daughter.” Just then, a doctor came rushing down, he came up to Daniel and said.
“Mr. Daramola, she wants to see you. She’s screaming and says she’ll talk to only you.” Daniel nodded, thanked Mr. Oliver and headed towards the wards. That was fine; I had to get home to my daughter.