'UA-80130820-1'

House on the Hill

HOTH EPISODES

THREE

SHE FINISHED THE COOKING and carefully following the boldly typed out instructions on the “SERVICE” part of the food menu timetable, she dished a relatively small portion of the meal of rice and chicken vegetable sauce into a dish and then dished another portion—a larger portion that ate up two-third of the food into another dish.

Why he would want his meals served in different dishes and in significantly different proportions, she didn’t know. But Moyo had come to the conclusion that he wasn’t alone upstairs and he surely wasn’t eating all of that food alone.

Not unless he was a giant and a normal-sized man at the same time.

Suppressing a snort, she hefted up the tray and walked out of the kitchen. She found the bell; not in the least surprised that it was an antique type that looked like something that should be found on the door of some nineteenth century possibly British store.

He must just abhor simplicity if he has to go dramatic on every single thing, Moyo thought with a roll of her eyes, balancing the tray on one hand as she reached to tug the rolled-thread that floated down from inside the solid brass bell. It pealed out a strong ding-dong sound that echoed on the ceiling high above her. Again she rolled her, rebalanced the tray and waited for him to come down.

A door swished open a minute later and then clicked shut. Then his near indistinct footsteps brushed against the wood floor tile before he appeared on the stairway and started down it, his eyes unflinchingly on her.

She didn’t care for the way he looked at her like he was trying to see into her soul. And since she hated to be intimidated into succumbing to anything, she locked her gaze with his and squelched every single flutter flapping off inside her.

“Lunch is ready, sir.” She gave him a friendly smile. Maintained it even when all she got was his usual blank stare. “I can take the tray up for you, sir.”

“I will take the tray.” He placed his hands on both ends of the tray and careful not to touch her fingers, tugged it off her hands. “Thank you… Moyo.” And he turned and started back up the stairs.

“You’re welcome, sir.” She muttered, glowering at his back.

And what would happen if she tiptoed after him to see where he was actually taking all that food, huh? Squashing the temptation, she turned and returned to the kitchen.

She grabbed a kitchen towel and started wiping clean the cooker and the counters, glad that she’d mopped up the travertine-tiled floor while she was preparing the meal. Multitasking was something she enjoyed and in a house this large, she suspected that skill would come in handy. Of course with a bunch of off-limit areas, she might not be in dire need of it.

She washed out the towel, dried it on the string just above the sink and then picked a plate to dish her own food. She sat on the square-shaped kitchen table, mumbled a short prayer and dipped her fork into the rather small plate of food. The moment the fine mix of rice and chicken veggie sauce touched her tongue and glided down her throat, Moyo decided she’d outdone herself and wondered briefly if she would be getting a compliment from grumpy, raspy-voiced boss-man.

She didn’t.

He brought down the tray with an array of empty dishes thirty-five minutes later and did not say a single word to her before exiting again.

Moyo stared after him. Squashed again the temptation to skulk after him and busied herself instead with washing up the dishes. Then armed with the vacuum machine, she proceeded to the living room and after a thorough study of how to use it, she vacuumed the rug, used the woolly-tip long brush she found in the store to dust the walls and then dusted off the furniture.

That done, she switched her cleaning task to the laundry room. A back room that had a door leading to the back off the house. Like the pathway that led up to the house, the backyard was a mini jungle of slightly overgrown plants and disproportionately lengthened shrubs amid begging-to-be-weeded grasses. Again, Moyo wondered what the yardman did; and though she was curious to know what lay beyond the mini jungle, she refused to tackle it just so to have a glimpse of what the vast outlay of land held.

So she returned inside and started preparations for dinner. Her phone beeped out a message. It was an alert from her bank. An online transfer of forty thousand naira from Maje Davies had been made. Satisfied, that he’d at least kept his word even though he was as weird as they come, she slid out her phone to call Remi. The call didn’t go through; no surprise with the fluctuating network. So, she sent a text message instead.

Dinner of steamed potatoes and chicken stir fry with fresh-pressed pineapple juice ready, she waited until the kitchen clock chimed six-twenty before she started dishing as dinner was billed to be served at six-thirty pm… on the dot.

Enormous tray in hand, she rang the bell and waited with another cheerful smile on her face for him to come down.

“Dinner set, sir.” She said in an equally cheerful voice.

Maje looked at her. “Thank you.” And he took the tray. “Your cooking actually meets most standards… it meets mine for sure.” And with his expression unchanged, he swept around and climbed back up the stairs.

“At last a word of praise.” Moyo smiled to herself as she returned to the kitchen.

Grumpy, weird fellow though. Imagine giving a compliment with a blank, totally unfriendly expression. She wondered if he ever smiled. Then quickly decided that that would likely be a feat which rarely happened.

Since she wasn’t very hungry, she settled for a glass of juice and a piece of chicken. The rest she would take over to Solomon—Oga Solomon—for his dinner. She hoped he hadn’t prepared anything yet. At the bottom of the food timetable had been a clearly-typed caution—never serve or store leftover food—so she dearly had to avoid having leftovers.

Again, he came into the kitchen exactly thirty-five minutes later to dump the tray of empty dishes. Moyo vaguely wondered if he timed his eating and the eating of whoever it was that joined him in eating… for she still refused to believe he ate all that food alone.

She found Solomon seated under a tall shrub right beside the massive black gate.

“Oh my, you brought food for me? Just when I was contemplating what to prepare this evening. How generous of you, Moyo.” Solomon gave her a smile. “I can call you Moyo, right?”

“But of course, Oga Solomon.” Moyo responded with a smile of her own.

Oga Solomon.” Solomon chuckled. “Now that reminds me of Nana. She used to call me just that and she used to bring me food too.”

Moyo dropped beside him on the cushioned bench. “Was that the previous housekeeper?”

“Many years before.”

“Oh. And why did she leave?”

Solomon studied her. They always have questions, but answers were never easy. Easy to give, easy to accept. “She had her own family to take care of.” He said simply. Then took a bite of the chicken and potatoes. “Hmm, delicious. You must definitely be a good cook.”

“Thank you.” Somehow Moyo sensed he’d purposely changed the conversation. And found that curious. “So she left to take care of her family. That’s nice. And you, Oga Solomon, don’t you have family of your own?”

A question he has been asked more times than he cared to count. “This is my family.” Same answer he’d given as many times as the question had come.

And what the heck did that cryptic answer mean exactly? Moyo frowned faintly. “So you are related to…” What should she call him? “The um, boss?”

Solomon smiled faintly at the term. “You should go back inside. Master might need you and he hates to look for anyone… or anything for that matter.”

Master? That was what he called him. She would stick to ‘the boss’. And he was being evasive. As evasive as his master. Moyo reluctantly stood up. “Okay. I’ll go back in then.”

Solomon noted the dissatisfied expression. Sighed silently at it. “Thank you for the food. I’ll return the dishes when I’m done.”

A house where everyone courteously returned their dishes after eating, yet almost impolitely avoided giving direct answers to questions. What a paradox!

“No problem, Oga Solomon. I only hope that the food will be enough for you. I eat very little myself but it looks like the boss has a huge appetite.”

Curious and possibly, cunning. Solomon knew the type. They sought trouble. And most times, trouble begot trouble. “This will be enough. Thank you.” Then he remembered. “Oh, when you go to bed, keep your door locked and bolted. Never forget.” There was no need for trouble to begin tonight… hopefully.

Moyo stared at him. Finally, she nodded. “Okay, I’ll remember.” Then she turned and started up the rather creepy pathway back to the house.

Great, just super-duper great.  She went off to do an act of good and returned with a spooky recommendation for the night. Maybe the ever-grumpy boss was a sleep-walker, Surely that can’t be a sickness for only Whites? Moyo rolled her eyes as she entered the house through a side door that led down a corridor into the kitchen. It should be the sane enough reason why she’d be cautioned to keep her door locked in any case.

She spent the next half hour chopping apples and bananas since the next day’s breakfast was to be accompanied by a jug of apple juice and a bowl of banana, avocado and yoghurt smoothie. Breakfast was scheduled for seven-thirty am, so she figured she’d do well to have a head start. After her chopping, she slid the chopped fruits into the refrigerator and then washed out all the dishes, including the ones Solomon had returned with another ‘thank you’. Everywhere spick and span as she liked it, she switched off the lights and walked out of the kitchen.

She stopped in front of the stairway and stared contemplatively at it. Had he gone to bed? He hadn’t resurfaced since he dropped off the empty tray of food. And what exactly did he do all day locked up inside his room?

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

Moyo whirled around as the shriek sputtered out of her mouth. He was standing behind her, watching her. Dear God, where had he come from? She hadn’t heard any of the doors open—or close. Slowly, she inhaled and forced herself to relax. Maybe he’d been in the living room. She had been heading that way to turn out the lights… before she got distracted.

Still she felt uneasy. Maybe because of the eerie way he was staring at her.

“Where did you come from?” She couldn’t help the question.

“Same place you did—from heaven into my mother’s womb and out of her, into this world. So says the folklore of creation.”

She stared at him. Was he joking? But his unsmiling, remote expression hadn’t changed. “Science has a different view.” She heard herself say. And wondered why she said that.

“Science always does. But it doesn’t always have all the answers.” An emotion passed quickly over his black eyes.

Anger?

It’d looked like it. An instantaneous flash of fury. It was gone now though and the usual emptiness back in place. Her uneasy feeling suddenly returned, more distinctly.

“I was going to bed. I’d better do so.” She took a step, stumbled into the hard-wood tip of the banister.

He reached out and grabbed hold of her. “Careful.” And he let go.

“Thank you.” She rubbed her bare arm where his hand had touched. His palm had been cold. Odd. “Ah… I’ll turn in now. Goodnight, sir.”

“Moyo?”

She stopped her turning and stared warily at him. “Yes, sir?”

“Do you ever think of death?”

“Death?” Has he gone mad? She shook her head. A trifle vehemently. “Not really, sir.” Then added. “I have no wish to die now, sir.”

“No one ever wishes to die, yet we die and most often, against our wishes.”

What a morbid conversation. The thought struck Moyo and she realised she desperately wanted it to come to an end.

“Death is inevitable, sir. It is the end of this mortal life and the beginning of one that would be eternal.” And why the heck has she said that? Was she too going mad?

“The teachings of faith. Much like Science, I am sometimes inclined to think it doesn’t have all the answers.” He thought that when he allowed himself to think. To think of death.

“Maybe it depends on what answers you’re seeking, sir.” Though a part of her pressed her to escape, Moyo couldn’t help her next question. His increasing peculiarity made her feel like she had to unravel him. “What answers are you looking for, sir?”

He stared at her. Saw another. Blinked, and saw her again. “Answers you cannot give me.” He moved, to rouse himself. “Go to bed, Moyo, and never forget that curiosity did indeed kill the cat.”

“Good thing then that I am not a cat.” She hated warnings and reacted badly to them.

His eyes iced over. He hated obstinacy… particularly against his rules. “Break my rules and it just might kill you.”

Moyo gasped. “You just threatened me, sir.”

“A warning only. Goodnight.” And he turned, like he usually did, fully and without a backward glance, and walked up the stairs.

Moyo stared after him, glaring. Warning indeed! She hated to be pointlessly warned and even worse, she hated to be threatened. She should march after him just to show him his threats meant nothing. But her head, the part that still retained good sense, cautioned her not to dare it. So huffing, she turned and started for her bedroom. She needed a good night’s sleep anyway after a hard day’s work.

But she couldn’t go to sleep straightaway despite her fatigue. So she brought out one of her Nora Roberts novels and started to read. A few pages and her eyes mercifully began drooping. She shut the book, rolled to her side and turned off the bedside lamp.

The generating plant was still on. She could hear the droning hum of it. Maybe it will run all night, she thought drowsily. She didn’t mind. The sweeping fan added pleasure to the cool night air.

She didn’t know what woke her up. But Moyo found herself sitting up on the bed. She rubbed her eyes and cocked her ears. The sound of the generator was gone. It was off, so was the fan, but the night was still cool.

She listened a few minutes, then decided she must have been dreaming… though she couldn’t recall any dreams. Yawning, she pulled up the cotton coverlet, sighed with pleasure at the luxurious feel of the mattress and settled back on her left side, fluttering her eyes close.

Then it came, a single loud thump. Then another and another.

Moyo sprang up and stared with wide frightened eyes into the dimly-lit darkness. Her heart was pounding now at an alarming rate.

The thumping sound—like hammer against a hard surface. Wood or iron, she wasn’t entirely certain, but the sound continued for another minute. Then it stopped. And immediately after, a grating, squishing noise began.

Moyo, with a trembling hand, reached out to the nightstand and picked her phone. She turned it on. It was twelve forty-four!

Who the heck could be hammering, or doing whatever, at midnight?

Feeling her heart pound even louder and faster, she pressed a hand underneath her left breast and inhaled deeply, willing herself to not panic. It had to be him. Who else could it be but that weird, grumpy boss? After all the sounds were coming from above.

But what could he be doing at this time of the night?

Moyo’s eyes shot to the door. She threw aside the coverlet and swept off the bed. Then remembering she probably shouldn’t make any noise of her own, she rose to her toes and crept to the door. She carefully checked the lock. It was locked and bolted. Heaving a quiet sigh, she tiptoed back to the bed and slunk back on top.

The grating, squishing sounds were still coming. Someone was working—or doing something with wood or possibly iron. But why at night?

Breathing deeply, she forced calm back inside herself. Of course it was that bizarre man. It had to be him. Damn weird fellow!

 

Dedication: For Nnem & Cheks, for superb story-telling skills.

 

**Forgot to mention. Thanks, Nancydearie. Saw your mention on NL. Way to go talking about our blog *wink*. I appreciate the comment**

*eBook Purchase made easier! Via: *RECHARGE CARD PINS!*

43 Responses to House on the Hill

  1. Laminah says:

    Really mysterious! This morning dose is super ma’am. You are simply amazing TM.

  2. sabelle concepts says:

    OMG! This is getting more interesting and scare. The boss must surely have something up his sleeves and I can’t wait for moyo to reveal it.

  3. Vimlady says:

    Hmmmm…..He’s actually weird

  4. jojodia says:

    TM what kind of ‘Hammer House of Horror’ story is this?

    Moyo, Moyo, Moyo, ejo, abeg, biko do not turn into a cat o, so that your days maybe long.

    I hope nothing bad happens to her cus something really strange is going on in that house.

    • If you know Hammer House of Horror, that means you used to watch their series… no worries though I’m saving my talent for writing real horror for paid works. This is just small horror. I won’t scare anyone too much… but remember to lock your door at night and keep it dead-bolted…. buhahahahahahaha **dats my mad scientist laff**

  5. Ego says:

    That boss might be a ghost or something, and his invinsible companions that share his food…., his fellow ghosts lolz. Weldone ma’am TM

  6. Adefunke says:

    definitely, plenty night workers dey dt house, kilode naa?

  7. bola says:

    Big warning, curiosity indeed kill the cat. Pls, Moyo be careful. Thank u TM 4 d update

  8. biodun says:

    Kudos TM….am a loyal Haier Thermocool Fan!

  9. VictorA says:

    Den den den den…So freaking weird. Someone is definitely upstairs. Apart from oga of course. Thanks Ma’am. Waiting patiently for the next episode!

  10. Foluke says:

    wow. I have a feeling moyo may enter that room. but wat is her boss hiding even the gateman. this is scary. Thanks TM.

  11. Nykky says:

    Curiosity kills the cat Moyo to be forewarned is to beforearmed. Be careful OK. TM you rock

  12. chichi says:

    This is indeed a mysterious story…am guessing Mayo Davies is a ghost in human form…so scared right now

  13. Patience Bassey says:

    Scaring and interesting at the same time

  14. How on earth is she not suppose not to be curious when there are hammering noises over her head when everyone should be sleeping?

  15. Uchechukwu says:

    Quite mysterious!!! Tank u TM 4d update

  16. Roselyn says:

    Hope Moyo will survive to tell the story about this mysterious house on the hill. Thanks TM

  17. Tolu says:

    This Moyo girl be looking for trouble

  18. Paula says:

    See as I am afraid, hahahahaha
    All the Dean Knootz I read seemed not to have helped my fear fear.
    There is something wrong with that house. Something seriously wrong.

  19. Omolola says:

    Hmm…TM is going Deen Koontz on this one. Curiosity kills the cat….taa….information makes it fat though. I think there’s a mad person in that house….a wife or a parent.

  20. Gloria says:

    Nawa o, Moyo b careful ooo

  21. mystiq18 says:

    spooky!!! even at this time I got cheese cold just reading… cold handed abi blooded boss that’s scary enuf…T.M just don’t let harm come to moyo…meanwhile am also checking out Dean Knootz. good morning fam

  22. mystiq18 says:

    plus great news … I just commented over opera mini…awesome no more no data restrictions …I just luv u boss lady

  23. Toyenlon says:

    Hmm, this is really mysterious and suspense filled, moyo should be careful.

  24. Favour says:

    Moyo!moyo!!!Moyo!!! Emelo n mopeu. Your life is worth more than moneyooo. Run and don’t look back

  25. Essencecj says:

    Horror it would be then, TM?

    • The genre is Mystery, Essence. That is what it is essentially. But it has as a minor sub-genre Comic Horror.

      There is a puzzle to unravel. When unravelled, closure begins. But the minor sub-genre of Comic Horror leads the story towards the unravelling of the Mystery.

      Lol. Hope that’s not too confusing an explanation? Lol

  26. Nancydearie says:

    What an amazing story. Moyo is playing with fire,i pray she lives to tell her story. ** Coming to the mention on Nairaland,i had to coz they dont know you are a bunch of talent and you are one of the best writer on Nairaland. I pray that GOD will continue to bless and strengthen you.

  27. horllybee says:

    But her head, the
    part that still retained good sense, cautioned
    her not to dare it. I love that line so much,thanks TM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content Protected !!
%d bloggers like this: