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House on the Hill

HOTH EPISODES

SIX

 

THEY BOTH STARED at each other, each keeping their thoughts strapped in.

That her usually expressive eyes were now devoid of any emotion but the vague politeness that glimmered in the dark-brown depths made Maje suspicious. She had been stringently polite when she served breakfast earlier on and even more so now. She was up to something—and he could rightly imagine what.

Yet he could not change his plans.

“I will be back before lunch time.”

“Yes, sir.” Moyo dipped her head.

Maje frowned. The subservient look and stance didn’t fool him. “Keep out of trouble. And by that, I specifically mean, curtail that curiosity you have towards my rooms upstairs.”

Her eyes momentarily flickered. “Yes, sir.” Moyo said calmly. Then added. “If you are worried about leaving me alone in the house, you can entrust the list to me and I will take care of the shopping.”

A trick. Or maybe not. “That is not part of your duties. And remember carefully what they are.” Reminding himself there wasn’t much harm she could do, he picked the sturdy polyester utility bag and strapping it across his shoulder, strode towards the door.

It weighed a ton. But he didn’t mind.

The second the clang of the main gate sounded, Moyo expelled a long breath. Gosh, that had taken a whole lot from her! She’d never been any good at poker-face but she dared say she pulled it off this time.

She glanced again at the steel door; to be certain she’d locked and jammed-in the bolt. She wanted no spooky surprises for what she intended to do. Which, of course, was to go upstairs and begin her investigation into what was really going on in the house. His warning meant nothing—except that she had to be more careful this time. He’d known she would be going up… that was why he’d made the warning.

Well, if he was truly interested in keeping her from knowing what was going on in his rooms upstairs, he should have trusted her to do the shopping instead of acting like he was embarking on an espionage mission. Moyo clucked her tongue as she turned left on the landing. Reflexively softening the padding sounds of her slippers-covered feet as she treaded forward slowly.

She stopped in front of the door. She felt suddenly nervous… no, fearful. And Moyo did not understand why. Okay, maybe she shouldn’t be there… she’d been warned countlessly to stay away. But that wasn’t the real reason her heart was pounding hard against her chest like the drumbeats of a frenzied Olokun worshipper.

She should just knock on the door.

She did.

Repeated it twice more.

No response came. She lowered her hand to the door handle and curved it downwards. The door was locked. Probably bolted too, Moyo thought cynically stepping back from the door. It was no use. Whoever was in there probably had instructions, threatening instructions, from the weird boss never to open.

He’d threatened her, in the name of warning of course, so he could threaten whoever he had hidden inside that room. Scowling with dissatisfaction, she turned to return downstairs, then stopped her feet, and walked instead towards his own bedroom.

And naturally his door was locked too.

Moyo hissed under her breath and started towards the stairs.

 

HE STARED AT THE DOOR. The bulk of dark hardwood lying between him… and her. He was hungry; not for food—but for her.

He’d wanted to open. When she’d knocked—even before her knocks, he’d heard her creeping footsteps and he’d wanted to open. He had been so tempted to do so. The longing, still burning now, was like a dry-throated thirst. He longed to reach out… and just open. Open the door that stood like an unyielding concrete wall between them and— see her.

Maybe touch her.

But he couldn’t open. He was forbidden to open. He shouldn’t see… or be seen.

Hideous.

That was what he was. Not to be beheld by human eyes.

Sensing the dark loom, he shuffled his aching gnarly feet and returned to his bed.

Sleep… he hoped it would come. It was a safe haven.

 

MOYO INSTANTLY HALTED.

She’d heard the shuffle. Someone had made a noise. Like feet slouching against a not-so-hard surface. She listened again; her breath held. She didn’t hear anything again. Only the echo of silence reverberated.

Moyo frowned. Someone was in there. She was right; there was someone in that room. They’d made a sound, no doubt when they’d heard her retreating.

What was going on here?

Her frown deepened as she trudged down the stairs. Mr boss-man Maje Davies was surely up to something… and something not good by the looks of it.

But what?

Moyo entered the kitchen. She stared vaguely around, unsure what to do next. Then she made for the laundry room, using its backdoor to walk out to the backyard.

She stared at the mini jungle. It looked even drearier that it had the first, and only, time she’d been out there.

She was definitely asking Oga Solomon what he did as a yardman, Moyo vowed, making multiple signs of the cross before plunging forward. She wanted to see what lay behind all this dense vegetation. Maybe she’d get an inkling what was going on.

A bug, triple the size of a giant housefly, buzzed past her and Moyo let out a shriek.

Darn it, this was surely the most dangerous… and possibly stupidest thing she had ever done. But if she ended up bitten by a snake, someone was bound to remember her for her bravery, right?

The thought wasn’t so comforting when another bug… fly… whatever they were buzzed past whilst its kin, and multiple of them, tried to form a union over her head. Hands flaying above and about, she stomped over twigs and grasses, grumbling and cussing under her breath. She finally sighed with unbelievable relief when she came out on a clearing.

Someone is taking care of this part of the yard, Moyo mused, staring about her. It was not much of a clearing. Trunks of fallen trees shot out of the moist loamy, slightly slanted ground and rode out until they met with still-standing forest-like trees. The air smelled musky; heavy with the fragrance of leaves and loam… and dampness. There was a stack of chopped woods—logs—at the west-end of the clearing. Neatly chopped and neatly stacked.

Who chopped them? Moyo wondered, baffled. Then she heard the crunch of dry twigs and whirled around. “Oh… Oga Solomon! You nearly gave me a heart attack there.” She chuckled and rubbed a hand against her chest. “What are you doing here?”

“That should be my question.” Solomon regarded her with a cool gaze. “You shouldn’t be out here. It’s not safe. You could get hurt.”

“Yeah, I know. I only came to look around.” She angled her head and stared searchingly at him. “But what are you doing here? Did you follow me?”

“Follow you?” Solomon laughed. A trifle too dryly. “I didn’t follow you, Moyo. How could I, when I didn’t know you were here? You should get back to the house though. And you shouldn’t bother yourself coming out here again… there’s nothing to see.”

“Hmm. Okay.” Moyo didn’t move though. “Who chopped the logs? The ones piled up over there?”

“I did.”

That surprised Moyo. “Why? What do you use them for?”

“Let’s go back to the house, Moyo.” Solomon walked over, took her hand and started down another path. “This is not a place for a young woman to be walking. Besides, you must have work inside the house.”

“I actually do—to prepare a huge lunch of white rice, curry-steamed beans and fish stew. I wonder how he manages to finish all that food.” She looked at him. “Seems impossible that he alone can eat all that… and still manages to look so fit, right, Oga Solomon?”

“Too many questions, Moyo. Best if you don’t ask them.” He let go off her hand and pointed. “Go through here. It will connect you to the living room.”

Moyo turned and stared at the door. “I didn’t know there was another door that led into the living room. I’ve never noticed any.”

Solomon smiled faintly. “Well, go on then and you might discover how you missed it.”

“Oga Solomon…”

“Enough questions, Moyo. Just go in.” And he turned and left her.

Moyo pursed her lips, what was it about questions that scared these men off? Rolling her eyes, she opened the door, hesitantly walking in and strolling down the rather narrow and dimly-lit hallway that ended at another door.

Moyo pushed that one open and found herself behind the huge polished-wood bookshelf.

“So there is a door behind this.” She mused aloud, coming out from behind it. “I will bet a finger that weird boss uses it too.”

To secretly go in and out of the house… but why?

 

HE CAME INTO THE ROOM. Looked at him, and looked away quickly. It was always hard to look at him. When he looked he remembered… and he sorely hated to remember.

“Here you are.” Maje passed the package, careful not to see the gnarled furry limb.

It was the mallet he had requested and himself had ordered. That was most importantly why he’d gone to town—to pick it up.

He took the package started unwrapping it. Then he said something.

It wasn’t really speaking… saying something as humans clearly understood it. But he did. He understood the words that came out as a disturbing mix of a drawling bark and a grating growl. He’d taught himself to understand.

“You’re welcome.” Maje quietly acknowledged the thanks and turned to leave… to escape.

He growled out another word. A series of them.

Maje swiftly turned. “You know the rule—you never leave your room. Not whilst anyone, besides us, is here.”

He protested, hotly.

Maje turned away from the disfigured features. “No! Keep away from her. Keep away from her room. Keep to yours. That is an order.”

And he swept towards the linking door. A prison. He heard clearly the snarled words even as he walked through the door.

But they were all in prison… imprisoned in this house.

 

THAT NIGHT MOYO was woken up by a knock on her door.

She pushed back the coverlet and was getting down from the bed when it struck her that it must be well past midnight and no one should be knocking on her door at that time.

Moyo reached for her phone and a quick frown filtered across her face. It was 2:24am.

Who could it be?

Her heartbeat skipped but Moyo slammed a hold over the buzz of fear. She was checking it out and if it was that grumpy, weird boss, he was going to hear it from her. She tossed aside the coverlet, dismounted from the bed and marched to the door, unlocking and pulling it open with one swift move.

But there was no one there.

Moyo felt a sudden tickle of fear and hastily started shutting the door. But before it closed, she heard the click of another door… and knew someone just re-entered their room.

But who? The boss or his hidden guest?

She closed the door and swiftly locked it.

 

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

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38 Responses to House on the Hill

  1. Ego says:

    Let me join the FTC wagon. On a serious note dis is getting more weird, disfigured creatures, like seriously… I fear for Moyo gan. TM more inspiration to u o

  2. jojodia says:

    Madam TM,

    Please give us romance story. All these fear fear story…me no likey jor.

    I want the book u promised us.

  3. TM be scaring people You hear…just continue!! Lol

    You’re pulling this scary story telling off!! …I love it!

  4. Sylvia says:

    This is getting out of hand o. TM abeg na

  5. gannie_perrie says:

    wao….this is nyc,a perfect way to end did beautiful day….TM,thanks for the update.PS:Can pls make it a little bit lengthy

  6. Roselyn says:

    Wow! This is getting very very captivating. Thanks TM

  7. Patience Bassey says:

    Its all scary!

  8. Lade says:

    Hmmmmm…… TM-David West, don’t do this to me. I love suspense.

  9. Toyenlon says:

    The disfigured specie is also curious, not only Moyo is. Moyo had better tred carefully

  10. Pacesetter says:

    getting more interesting

  11. sabelle concepts says:

    Could this be another case of beauty and the beast. Moyo the beauty that would kiss the beast and he would turn to prince charming. (just my imaginations running wild). Thanks tm

  12. cheriepet says:

    Moyo and her so inquisitive mind!!!!!! She better tread carefully or else…. hmmmmmm

    TM I can’t wait to know what this “it” is so pls just hurry it along.* no mind my desperado na bcos d soup too sweet* .

    I am coming to take writing lessons from u. U just keep blowing my mind away

  13. Vimlady says:

    Geez….TM..why scaring people lik this….I don dey fear for Moyo sef

  14. Moyo, I fear for you.

  15. bola says:

    TM, pls post another episode of HOTH today as jara I can’t wait till next week ooo, d suspense want to kill me.

  16. VictorA says:

    Science definitely has an explanation for ‘his’ situation, but I wonder what that will be. Great episode Ma’am. You really are doing a good job in this genre, if I could call it that. I wonder why Nigerian film makers keep producing those shitty stories when there are great ones like this.

  17. Ziza says:

    This one will be updated version of beauty and the beast. Great job TM

  18. Harrison says:

    I can’t Comment…..why? Blocked me out?

  19. Luwibaby says:

    Cool episode great actually…. The suspense is breathtaking. Thumbs up ma! But small jara wouldn’t be too bad sha

  20. mystiq18 says:

    yahhhh!!! so after days of reading this horror spooky series am over the horror… at least I know maje is not d creature …moyo got to be careful tho…someone is hungry for your whatever…

  21. Horllybee says:

    Curiousity is a bastard i swear.thanks TM

  22. Mcsteph says:

    I don dey fear oo, T M, have you been watching werewolf movies or what??

  23. biodun says:

    Unraveling the hidden!…Keep balling TM.

  24. iyke David says:

    Curiosity! Moyo please tread careful oooo!

  25. Jeanfortune says:

    Woooowww!!!!! and i was missing allll this while. Moyo sweetheart, go gal, i like ur bravery jare, at least if u get bitten by a snake like u said, someone will remenber that u dared. By the Spicey, its so gooood to reconnect with u here, great write as always

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