Darkness. The darkness had woken him up. Darkness straddled his chest like a bony old hag whose surprising strength pinned him down, hands encircling his neck, squeezing the life out of him.
He tried to cry out but could only grunt hoarsely. When he tried to breathe, darkness’s scent cloyed at his nostrils burning. A single tear rolled down his cheek. Abruptly the assault ceased as Darkness dissolved into a thousand formless dust motes the sunrise’s rays bursting into the room, heralding a new day.
“Night terrors” he whispered to himself. He said it again, louder this time, trying to convince himself, inhaling deeply, finally able to move. He wiped his face removing the beads of perspiration pooled on his forehead and wiping away the streak left by the single tear track.
“Its only my imagination” he told himself as he felt around his neck checking for signs of a physical assault. Odd, he could almost smell Darkness’s musky scent lingering at the edge of wakefulness, could one hallucinate a smell he wondered to himself.
Getting out of bed, he opened the windows and drapes, more light pouring in accompanied by a chilly morning breeze that lazily caressed his face with a ghostly finger. Goosebumps broke out on his skin and he shivered inadvertently.
“The night is dark and full of terrors” he recalled a line from a popular TV series that he had found both scary and intriguing. His runaway imagination could conjure all sorts of terrible terrors that owned the night; Darkness.
Beep. Beep. Beep. His phone vibrated and burst into an alarm tone. 5.30 in the morning, the lights had already gone out cause of load-shedding, an electricity conservation technique by the power utility company to ease the power load to the power station, upto 20 hours of darkness with no electricity.
Beep. Beep. Beep. He snoozed the alarm for a second time as he glanced at the calendar with the day’s date circled in red, Friday 13th. Were he a superstitious man he would have gone back to bed, but he had a job interview. The call had come through a few days back
“Hi Sir you have been shortlisted and interview is scheduled this Friday. Will you be able to make it?” A disembodied voice had notified him.
Of course he had said yes, jobs were had to come by. He thanked his lucky stars and then he thanked “The Doctor” who had a cure for everything from insomnia to bringing back lost lovers. He should have paid The Doctor a visit to pay what he owed but he kept putting it off besides he did not really believe in that nonsense…
When it was time to dress he found to his dismay his one good shirt was spectacularly wrinkled, with the electricity gone, there would be no ironing, he berated himself for not checking before bed last night. His girlfriend would have reminded him, but they had broken up. She was probably somewhere laughing at how he could not keep his life together without her. Once he got the job he would ask Doctor Sekuru for a portion to bring back lost lovers, wait why get hung up on her when he could have any girl he wanted. Doctor Sekuru had said his charms were powerful the sky was the limit.
His reverie was broken by the sound of the button on his trousers, rolling on the floor to hide beneath the bed. Cursing he hunted for the wayward button getting dust stains on his trouser legs and cobwebs in his hair from mucking around beneath the bed. He was able to find it and sew it back on after another song and dance looking for a needle and thread then managing to prick himself with needle. A drop of blood had welled up on his index finger, red and ominous like a sacrificial lamb marked for the slaughter.
For someone who had woken up early he was now running late and eventually left the house in a rush, grabbing a sandwich to eat on the go, which he dropped, when he nearly fell after losing his footing amongst the potholes as he ran after a commuter taxi with the conductor shouting “Town”
When he finally caught up with the taxi, he was appalled to find he was the first passenger of the day and he would have to suffer through its tiresome routine as they curb crawled hunting down passengers. He kept looking at his watch willing people to hurry up, while at the back of his mind a niggling feeling that he had forgotten something important brewed.
He was sure he had carried his certificates, he had his phone, he was not sure if he had locked the house on his way out but there was nothing he could do about that now he was already way behind time.
“Why aren’t we moving?” he asked noticing that they had been parked for longer than necessary to pick up or drop a passenger.
“Its run out of fuel boss” the conductor responded “But don’t worry the driver has gone to buy, back now, now.”
He decided he would take his chances flagging a lift so he proceeded on foot. He walked briskly and half jogged with his arm outstretched in the universal sign of a hitchhiker. Cars zipped by none of them stopping and the last vehicle that had passed him had splashed him with muddy water from a burst pipe, he was not sure but he could swear it was the taxi that he left behind earlier.
Mud stained and sweat drenched eventually he reached the City Towers, ignoring the security guard at the lobby made a bee-line for the elevators and punched in 19th floor.
The elevator door clanged shut and begun its highspeed ascent and then a hard jolt followed by Darkness, the Darkness had found him again, it clawed at him, it mocked him, he could hear it ask him with a voice that sounded like a thousand hisses why he had not yet paid The Doctor Sekuru.
Instinctively he reached for the animal leather amulet The Doctor had given him, a shield for luck and protection, he did not feel the familiar reassuring weight. That’s when he remembered he had taken it off last night and forgot to put it on again.
He knelt on his knees and tried to pray
The Darkness mocked him, “who are you praying to mortal man? Empty prayers of a man without faith”
Darkness enveloped him
“I’ll pay, I’ll pay anything you want” he mumbled..
The Darkness hissed in acceptance
*Ping* The lights came on and the elevator doors slid open on the 19th floor. A waving sea of maintenance men stood in front of him who gradually became one person speaking;
“Sorry sir, we had an electricity black out, but the back generators are running now…..”
A blogbattle story themed Shield