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Pitch Black

Erinola Daranijo

"Someone help! There's a snake in my room."

I was in my room last night when my neighbour started screaming. I was sleepy but upon hearing someone in danger, I shot out of my bed and flew up the towering staircase to her apartment on the third floor.

As I barged inside the house, I was met with a huge snake hissing its red tongue at my neighbour who was pinned to a corner. Other neighbours quickly came in and joined me, hammers, sticks and pitchforks expertly dangling from their grips – almost like fifth limbs they were born with.

We closed the front door behind us to make sure the snake couldn't escape. We had it cornered now. "Today is the end of your life," I said, pestle raised above my head. I wanted to be a hero that night so I went first. The snake quickly turned towards me, red eyes contrasting with its black skin. "Nope," I said, retreating. "On three we all attack it at the same time." Everyone agreed. I started counting. 1...2...3. Just as I reached three, the power went out, enveloping the room in darkness. This wasn't anything new. We live in Nigeria and there isn't a 24/7 power supply, but something about the realization of being trapped in a room with a poisonous snake made us men scream like little girls. 

Each one of us men began jumping and tumbling across the floor like reggae dancers – we didn't know where the snake was and no one wanted to be the reason we found out. "Get off the ground!" a voice shouted from the black.

We all began to climb the closest thing — some chairs, others tables. Me, I found myself atop the refrigerator. We began to swing our weapons haphazardly, unsure where the snake was, hitting each other in the process. If you were unlucky enough to accidentally touch someone, you were quickly met with a heavy blow.

As I crouched atop the fridge, something touched my ankle. I wasted no time in bringing my pestle down upon it. Immediately a cry tore across the room. Somebody was shouting.

"My head! Who hit me?" It was then I realized the thing I had struck was in fact a human being. I crawled forward blindly to console the person, accidentally slipping and falling off the fridge in the process. I held my hands out to absorb the impact, accidentally touching what seemed to be somebody's knee. Almost immediately, a heavy metal pipe landed across my hand. 

I shouted. "Who hit me?"

"Ah sorry, it's you? I thought it was the snake," Papa Emeka, my landlord, said.

Thankfully, by the grace of God, the power came back on. I quickly got up to look around. The snake was nowhere to be seen. Another neighbour, however, David, was hanging from the ceiling fan.

Erinola Daranijo is a writer, poet, and playwright based in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Twitter: @layworks