It had been one of those typical Lagos Fridays, one filled with unexplainable traffic and I had gotten home
really late. I can’t really recall the full details of my motions when I got home, but all I remember is that I had
my bath, skipped dinner as usual and double checked all the doors (more like triple checked) since my husband wasn’t home and I headed straight to bed. By past ten I was already fast asleep drifting into a blissful
dreamless sleep.

Well that wasn’t until the knock.

At about 12:38 a.m. I woke up to what I thought was a loud knock on my room door (it had actually sounded like a thud). I bolted up. I loved sleep, but I wasn’t a deep sleeper. No matter how deeply asleep I was, I could easily sense when someone was around me or when someone came into the room and would easily awaken to the slightest strange sound. So I bolted up, not sure of what I had heard, but certain I had heard something. I waited but heard nothing again. I slowly got up from the bed and tiptoed my way through the dark room to the door to make sure my door was locked. I tried to be as quiet as I could but the joints on my knees and ankle picked that moment to start creaking. I panicked and stopped, my heart beating too loud. I held my breath so as not to complicate things. I managed to reach the door and found it was locked.

Relieved but still with a pounding heart, I pressed my left ear against the door and what do you suppose I heard? Nothing. I stood like that, with my ear pressed against the door for almost five minutes but heard nothing, by now my heartbeat had stabilized and I was starting to wonder if I had imagined the sound. After what seemed like forever, I went back to bed and covered myself more snuggly. I stared at the door for a few more seconds before I shut my eyes. I had barely shut my eyes when I heard the sound again, only this time, it was louder and there with multiple of them. And alas, it was coming from the ceiling not the door.

I was out of the bed in a flash. There were footsteps stumping on the ceiling! I wanted to scream but found I was unable to, because I was frozen in place. There I was, on my feet, eyes wide and fixed on the ceiling, mouth hanging open like that of a oxygen-starved fish.

Science says that when faced with it a perceived harmful event, attack or threat to survival, our first response or reaction is the “fight-or-flight” response (this is also called hyperarousal or the acute stress response). Simply put, it says that when we are faced with impending danger, we have two basic instinctive reactions; we either fight whoever or whatever poses the threat or we run for our dear lives. But I personally believe there is a last response; “freeze”, those who like me are so gripped by fear that we freeze in place. Our brains doesn’t seem to suggest to us any form of motion, be it running or fighting.

I am not sure how long I stood there before my brain finally registered what the noise and impending threat might mean. Burglars! ‘My god, there were burglars on the ceiling’ I thought. I quickly grabbed my phone and switched it to silent mode. There really was no possibility of anyone calling me at this time, but I was not going to risk it. The devil might just want to try himself now and I wasn’t gonna give him that chance, as the last thing I needed was my phone ringing and drawing the attention of the intruders above. I quickly scanned through my room for where I could hide. Under the bed was of no use as there was no space underneath, I went to the bathroom and found nothing that could conceal me. Going back into the room, I opended the wardrobe and was tempted to climb up and hide in the top layer of our massive wardrobe but I wasn’t sure if it could support my 127 pound weight. So I was practically left with nothing.

Then i thought, “If that sound is from the ceiling, it means they have not made their way into the house, they are probably looking for a way in.

“I need a weapon.”, I thought.

So as stealthly as I could, I silently turned the keys to the door and unlocked it. I quickly went to the kitchen and can you guess what I grabbed? I went for our utensil rack and grabbed our largest kitchen knife and tucked away the rest in a hidden drawer and tiptoed back to the room. And as silently as I opened it, locked the door back. All the while, my heart pounding loudly. I wasn’t sure what exactly I intended to do with the knife, but it made me feel somewhat safe. I thought that at best, I would use it to threaten the intruder. Not once in this whole ordeal did it occur to me to pray.

The noise continued on and off at random intervals. I was beginning to wonder why the robbers were so noisy and why it was taking them so long to break in. At almost 3 a.m. Still with my knife at hand, I was beginning to feel sleepy, the stress of the previous day taking its toll. After dozing off a couple of times and having the knife slip from my grip a few times, I worried that I might stab myself if I wasn’t careful, so I carefully placed the
knife under my pillow in easy reach so I could grab it easily.

I tried as much as I could to stay awake but I must have slept off because when I opened my eyes again I was laying on my bed still with me facing the door but my wardrobe door was opened. As my eyes adjusted to the dark room, I noticed that a ceiling tile above the wardrobe was no more white but black, and while my brain scrambled with the confusion as to why it was painted black, I saw it. A leg and then two and then a whole body began to lower itself down through the black ceiling. It had not been a black ceiling but a hole…

…(to be continued Next week)

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By Tolu Idiakhoha

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