We moved into the house to get away from the city. We had both agreed that it would be better for my mental health to have a slower pace of life. Jimoh would still commute into the city to work at the hospital, but I could work from home and enjoy the nature that surrounded our new home. The house was old and run-down in places, but as soon as I saw it, I was convinced that we could make it a home. I was looking forward to redecorating. The decor was outdated, and a little creepy. The walls of all of the rooms upstairs, including our bedroom were a sickly yellow colour. The house needed a new lease of life, just like me.
The first night we slept at the house, I knew there was something wrong. I had a terrible nightmare. I could not remember the contents of the nightmare but I remember feeling tormented and in despair. I woke up screaming and crying, staring at the wall. Jimoh did his best to comfort me. I told him about my nightmare, but he dismissed it.
“We all have bad dreams,” he said.
But he was wrong. There was something very wrong, outside of my mind. I did not know how to explain, but I was certain that my nightmare had contained a warning. It was something to do with the wall.
In the following days, I tried to recall something, anything from my nightmare. The only things that came to mind were vague impressions, all to do with the wall, all bad. I could not sleep, the wall loomed over me and if I even closed my eyes for a few seconds an inexplicable terror rose up and woke me.
“I think we should stay away from the wall,” I said to Jimoh one day.
“Which wall?” He asked.
“The one in our bedroom,” I replied.
“What on earth are you on about?”
“There’s something wrong with the wall,” I said. “I can feel it.”
We argued for hours that night. Jimoh begged me to see a doctor that could prescribe me some medication. I struggled to explain what I was feeling about the wall. I could not convince Jimoh that there was a problem. I barely understood my concern myself. All I knew was that there was something terribly wrong with the wall, and we were in danger.
That night I refused to stay in our room. I stayed downstairs in the living room. Just after midnight, I heard Jimoh scream from upstairs. I leapt up the stairs, taking them two by two.
When I arrived at the door Jimoh’s torso was potruding from the wall. His legs were completely gone.
”Help me,” he shouted.
More of his chest was being absorbed into the wall. He was submerged almost up to his armpits.
I tried to move towards him, but it felt as if I was pushing against a wall. Something, invisible and impossibly powerful was blocking me. Before I could figure out a way around it, Jimoh was completely gone. For a brief moment, I could still hear his muffled cries, but soon, there was only silence. Suddenly I fell forward, the invisible barrier apparently now removed. I crept slowly to the wall and placed my hand upon it. It was solid, stable, revealing nothing of its nefariousness from moments earlier.
Jimoh was gone, but I could still sense his presence, or perhaps a presence, beyond the wall. I stared at the wall for what felt like hours. I could not move. I could not process what had happened. At one point I thought about calling the police but quickly dismissed the idea. How could I explain to anyone what had happened? I could just imagine them laughing on the other end of the line. They would think I was mad. The calmness of the wall taunted me as I pondered. I had a sense that it was at rest, but who knew what would reignite its malevolence? I went downstairs. I poured myself a glass of water. My hands were shaking so much that I barely managed to fill it halfway. My mind raced. I was trying to think of something that I could do. As I looked around, I remembered writing down a phone number the local electrician had given us for the couple who had lived in the house before us. There was a cupboard in the kitchen where we kept house-related documents: the washing machine warranty, electrical plans, that sort of thing. I found the electrical documents and I dialled the number I had written down. The phone rang. It was the distant resonant echo of an international call.
”Hello,” a man answered on the other end.
”Hello,” my voice sounded strange. “My name is Chioma, my husband and I moved into your old house.”
There was silence. The silence was heavy with a shared terror.
Eventually, he spoke again, “Has something happened?”
”Yes,” I said. “My husband, he’s gone.”
Tears began to fall from my eyes.
”I’m so sorry,” the man said.
”What can I do?” I asked, my voice shaking.
”I’m so sorry,” he said again. “I have to go.”
I wanted to scream, to ask a hundred questions about the house and the wall. But the absurdity of the situation bridled my tongue. I knew that he was about to put the phone down. So I tried a different tack.
”Can I speak to your wife?” I ventured.
“No, no you can’t,” he said softly, and then the phone went dead.
I dropped the phone and let out a scream. I felt like a million ants were crawling over my body and I could barely breathe. The tears flowed freely and my head pounded. My mind kept replaying the image of Jimoh being swallowed by the wall. It seemed like a dream, a nightmare. It did not make sense, my mind and my whole body were rebelling against the sensory evidence. Sunlight began to emerge through the windows. With daylight as protection, I mustered up the courage to go back upstairs. As I reached the top of the stairs, I could see Jimoh sitting on the edge of our bed. I ran to him.
”Jimoh” I exclaimed.
He remained still and silent. It was as if he had not heard me. I fell to my knees grabbing his arms. He did not respond. I looked into his eyes, the brown eyes I had been looking into for years. It was Jimoh, on the surface, but somehow, he was changed. He was empty.