By Young C.c
“Hey Tade, get up and let’s go to school,” I gently shook my Friend, trying to wake him up from his deep slumber.
Tade turned and opened his eyes to give me an angry look. I stood up from where I was squatting after believing I had succeeded in waking him. I glanced at the wall clock, it was ten thirty already. “Oya stand up now, dem go soon lock school gate” I continued in pidgin English, the lingua franca of students in Nigerian institutions. I began to walk towards the door when I saw him stretching and turning.
A loud sound made me turn back, my friend was back to his slumber and was snoring loudly again. I walked back to him and shook him violently this time. “Guy, stand up now.” I shouted in anger. “You would fail Maths 201 if you continue like this,” I threatened.
And that was it, Tade sprung up to his feet immediately, he never liked to hear anything about failure.
“Okay, I’m ready.” he said to me, after getting up from the bed and rubbing his eyes with his palm.
“Where are your books?” I asked him.
“Books? Oh!” He exclaimed, remembering that he was going to need his books to read in school. He quickly walked towards his carton of books and took out a textbook, a notebook and a calculator.
Ten minutes later, we were in the school premises already. We exchange pleasantries with other students that were going their separate ways, we headed for the Institute Of Technology.
“See,” Tade halted and said in a loud voice as we passed the Boundary line separating the institute from the rest of the school. “Let me tell you the truth, I don’t feel like reading in school today.” He said.
“Why?” I asked him, surprised. Earlier that day, he had been the one pleading with me to come pick him up when I was going for night classes, telling me to do everything to wake him up in case he does respond to me quickly.
“I had a bad dream,” he answered.
“Bad dream?” I asked.
“Yes, just this night before you came to my room.” Tade said.
“Okay, what was the dream all about?”
“It was all about night class today,” he began to narrate. “I dreamt that some bad boys attacked everyone in school and stole all our phones, they even molested some of our girls.”
I hissed and shook my head at Tade. “How on earth will bad boys enter and steal from thousands of students in this premises?” I asked him with a tone of doubt.
“The bad boys were much, numbering up to fifty with guns and machetes.” He replied me.
“They can never get into the school premises with guns and machetes,” I opposed strongly. “How would they pass through all the new security blocks and officials?”
Tade stood still, unable to answer my question but I could still see fear and indecision in his eyes.
“Let’s go,” I encourage, patting him on the shoulder. “Or you want to fail Maths 201?”
Tade immediately began to march forward with me, remembering how poor at mathematics he was and how he needed someone to teach him how to solve some problems which were likely to appear in the exam questions.
We proceeded straight to the drawing theatre which had a lesser number of students than the other halls. We greeted the other students met in the hall by waving silently and they also waved back, everybody was in a serious mood, so there was no time for socializing with each other.
I and Tade settled down and went straight to business. Fifteen minutes later, I could feel Tade’s eyes on me, expecting the moment I’ll take a pause and he would be able to ask one of his numerous questions. But I wasn’t ready to pause yet, it was too early to do so. Though I planned to assist him, I ignored him for the moment.
“Tade, how far na?” Somebody hailed as he walked into the drawing studio from the other door.
Tade and I looked up, it was Sheriff, our very good friend who was also good at mathematics. Tade smiled, he had seen someone who could rescue him quickly from his dilemma.
“Oyin, how far?” Sheriff also greeted me after shaking hands with Tade.
“Sheriff, I’ve been looking for you since,” Tade began immediately. “I want you to explain some of these problems to me.”
“Wow! Tade, but I’ve always told you to always bring these questions earlier, preferably before the examination week and not the night before the exam date.” Sheriff reprimanded.
However, Sheriff agreed to help him with the condition that it’ll only be for thirty minutes, they began immediately. Everything was going fine, until the lights suddenly went off.
“Ooh!” We could hear people complain bitterly, cursing and raining insults on PHCN.
We waited several minutes for the school’s solar backup energy to power on the bulbs but after ten minutes, the lights refused to come on, the murmuring in the hall and outside began to increase rapidly. Most of the students including I, Tade and Sheriff were no longer used to bringing our rechargeable lamps to night class anymore as the solar energy electricity generator installed by the department of Electrical Engineering always came to our rescue whenever PHCN seized power. I had no option than to continue reading with my phone’s flashlight. Tade and other students who had phones with flashlight followed my example. A whole lot of other students just placed their heads on the table and slept off.
The weather changed drastically and the winds began to rush in angrily through the open windows, our books and rough papers began to fly around. We could hear thunder strike and see the lightening in the sky. This was strange because we were in January and the season was harmattan, so nobody was expecting rain especially one which would come with this kind of wind.
Students got up from their seats and began to close the windows but the winds were still blowing and even with greater tenacity.
The lights came on suddenly but went off again in less than five seconds. It repeated the process thrice and at the third time, three of the bulbs in the Hall dropped to the ground, two of them landed where students were and injured them. At the same time, a loud strange noise resembling the sounds made by wild animals echoed round the whole school. Before I knew it, students were scampering all around.
I looked at my side and found only Tade’s books and one leg of his sandals, the drawing studio was already empty of students except for me who was still there, trying to grasp what was happening. The noise had greatly increased, it was as if a battalion of soldiers were running on the battle field.
I got up and walked out of the drawing studio, the whole school had been thrown into disorder, crowds of students were scampering out of institute and then school.
Instead of joining them, I went back into the hall, I can’t even tell myself which force was giving me the confidence I had that day. I gently packed my books and calculator, I packed Tade’s books too, I wanted to help him take his sandal but the load would be too much for me, so I took only his books and walked out.
I walked carefully trying not to get hit by those running out. This time, it had began to drizzle. Instead of going towards the exit gate, I began to move towards the place where the strange sounds were coming from.
It was the Electrical Engineering Lab, the only place where I could see light in the school, the huge doors were opened and that was unusual at that time of the night. The noise increased and I had to cover my ears as I got closer to the lab. I could feel the heat emanating from inside as I got to the entrance. All the bulbs in the lab were on and there was fire at the end of the lab.
As I wanted to turn back, I heard someone’s scream. I looked back inside and saw a girl crawling out behind a machine, she looked badly injured, her clothes were torn and hair ruffled. I quickly dropped the books and entered into the lab with finger placed in my ears to prevent the noise from hurting me.
As I got closer to the girl, I noticed that part of her right arm had been cut off and she was bleeding profusely. I had choice than to take out my fingers from my ears and lift her up to my shoulder. Luckily for her and myself, she was a person of light weight, I hurried out of the lab immediately. I didn’t bother to go towards the school clinic as I knew I would not find a bird there. I quickly walked out of the institute and proceeded towards the school security post where I would find a vehicle to rush the girl to an hospital. I met some of the security officials already coming towards our direction. They had their torchlights on.
“She needs to get to the hospital now,” I shouted on top of my voice. Two out of the security officials turned back and ran to get the vehicle, the others continued to walk into the institute while one stopped to help me. When he saw that the girl was bleeding so much and that my clothes were already stained with her blood, he didn’t bother to take her from me, he only began to lead me towards the place where the two others had gone to get the vehicle.
The ambulance came and the girl was dropped inside, the officials quickly drove her to the General Hospital which was only five minutes drive from our school.
I walked out of the school, greatly stained with blood wondering why I did not bother to apply my knowledge of first aid before lifting the girl to my shoulder. Then I remembered that the noise in the lab wouldn’t have even given me the opportunity to think. The rains came down heavier and heavier.
The next day, I arrived school at exactly five minutes to eight. From the road leading to the school’s main gate was where I began to see and hear clusters of students discussing how a ghost came into the school the last night and tormented all those that had come to read at night. I also saw that part of the school’s gate was damaged already, I heard that some students had damaged it while trying to rush out. Parts of the school fences where also broken.
Today is exactly seven months after, I’ve come back to school to collect my National Diploma Certificate. Here is Maria sitting with me, her left arm has been amputated. She’s thanking me for helping her that day and telling me the story of how she and her friends attempted to steal something from the lab, someone had pushed a button and everything had gone wrong. In their attempt to bring order, they kept on doing the wrong things until the machines began to work abnormally and make strange sounds. One of the machines had hooked her cloth and arm and on seeing this, her friends fled the lab in confusion and fear, leaving her behind.
Till today, it is still widely believed in my school that a ghost had once visited them at night.
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