the rushing waters close over my head. dark unseen forces drag me down – deep. into the dark depths of the lake. the lake is shallow but i’m drowning. easily. i scream hard. my throat’s sore. i open my mouth to cry but an explosion of bubbles muffle my cry. i am sinking. deeper and deeper. in this small lake – a fish tank. i smell dead. dead putrefying seaweed. suddenly a figure appears, moves towards me. smiling as it draws closer. it gets so close the hairs on the back of my neck rise. a black aura surrounds it. its smile festers into a malevolent grin. i try to get away from it. i try once more to scream – bubbles.

i struggle to get out of the water, i try to move forward … but wait, i’m going backwards, and i fall into the deep end of the lake. the figure keeps moving towards me. now i can see what it looks like – a bit. it’s getting clearer. a woman. an old woman with an ill-looking face, and an insane glare. the lower half of her face seems to be falling away from the skull – like a plastic mask melting in heat. she never takes her eyes, or the red-circled holes that represent her eyes, from me. i cannot recognize this face. this face of this pallid old woman. who’s this? this old woman with the evil grin and insane glare? she puts her hands around my neck, and squeezes my neck with a strong vice-like grip surprising for her age. i could feel my life drain away from me, as i feel the waters of the lake drain my breath. the bubbles are popping. the more i struggle, the more i lose life. the bubbles keep popping. i cease to struggle and darkness consumes me – in bubbles.

i awake to find myself in a much bigger pool of water. was it water? this is not any normal pool. the water is dark. blood-red dark. she is pulling me further out. deeper. i’ve the feeling of deflation. i pass out again. i regain consciousness to a groaning voice. a groan which sounds distantly close. it could have been from anywhere, but though distant, i could feel the presence of the voice-owner close. out of the darkness, a pale, slender hand emerges. soon the second follows the first. no body. just hands. all this time, the voice keeps wailing and gurgling – as if itself drowning. i cannot make out what it is saying. pale hands, bone-dead fingers outstretched, rise, the wetness of the blood-dark water running down them in deliberate slowness. they rise until a head appears. it’s that face again, the face i had seen before, the face of the unrecognizable old woman with a dark aura, this time, her eyes are not holes, they are like human eyes, red-ringed, blood-red, wide open, and staring at me. i feel naked. she bends to look at the water flowing between my legs, raise her head, her mouth is now open. toothless. dark. hollow. cavern. i’ve a feeling of deflation. she gives me that wicked smile again. as if cued by the evil smile, thousands of tiny hands, baby hands, rise from behind her and grab me, pull me deeper and deeper into the blood-dark waters. i can’t breath. the bubbles are popping. suddenly the faces of my family – great grand-father, grand-father, great grand-mother, grand-mother, father, mother, brothers, their wives, sisters, their husbands, nieces, nephews, – flash before my eyes. they all watch as i cry and scream for help. wait. they are smiling. the same wicked smile of the old lady. i suddenly feel cold and alone – desperately alone. alone and deflated. i am jonah. i start to scream. my scream is caught up in whales of bubbles.

the old woman starts to scream. imitating my scream. her screams turn suddenly to laughter. a distant laughter. i start to run. running from the hands. running from the faces. running from the laughter. i try to run faster but my strides only become slower, my legs heavier, my breathing harder. one of the old woman’s hands scratches my face. no blood. i continue to flee, but my movement becomes sluggish. i am deflating. the old woman appears in front of me. there is something in her hands. bloody meat. i turn to start running in the opposite direction. but her hand grabs my wrist, i try unsuccessfully to pull away from it. she pushes me, and i fall backwards, suspended in space. she bestrides me and then tries to force the bloody meat down my open mouth, i clamp my teeth, turning my head from side to side. bubbles are popping. i feel a great force on my back, neck, shoulders, legs, and ankles, pushing me upwards towards her. it’s the hands. the baby hands. wait. i am floating again. i hit the ground hard. red bubbles pop before my eyes. i try to rise using my elbows. i cannot move. the old woman’s weight on me suddenly feels like lead. still i try to get up for if i do not do so i know this load would crush my unborn child … the child.

i try unsuccessfully to shake the old woman off me. she starts to force the bloody meat in her hand into my mouth. i can smell blood – fresh blood. i scream again and again … bubbles.

the alarm goes off. i awake. sarah machlachlan’s voice drifts in, “when all we wanted was the dream/to have and to hold that precious little thing/like every generation yields/the new born hope unjaded by their years.”[1] it was just a dream. a nightmare. my breath come in sharp gasps. i feel cold in the darkness of the room. my body feels damp. my bedsheets are damp too. they are sticking to me. i feel the sudden urge to drink water. it was only a bad dream, i tell myself. but then again, if it was just a dream why could i still see her when i had woken up? why was she still there in that dark corner of the room, grinning that evil grin and staring between my legs? i look down. i touch my bed – it is not sweat on my sheets. it is blood – from between my legs. i feel empty. i touch my belly. it is not meat in her hand …

© F-K Omoregie 2016

[1] Machlachlan, Sarah. (1992). Wait. Fumbling Towards Ecstacy. Arista.