I never really believed in ghost stories. I had heard them since I was a little kid, but I knew the truth. Those tales were just a bunch of crap to scare children with. And I wasn't about to let myself get scared. So even when Mum died three hours after her twin sister, my friend Femi keeps waking up in places he couldn't have been able to enter, and Dad gets those phone calls from his dead best friend every New Year, I still wouldn't believe in ghosts.
That is, until today.
When I woke this morning, everything was normal. My alarm rang on time, the sun rose perfectly and the birds outside were chirping the usual song. My phone notification light was blinking, so I checked the messages: same old, Friday the 13th spoofs. As I swung my feet over the bed to the floor, I woke again. My alarm rang. As I looked out the window, the sun rose and the birds started chirping. Everything was the same. Picking up my phone, I read the messages. The same. Chalking it up as de-javu, I threw off my clothes and walked into the bathroom. Nothing was going to foul up my day. If only I knew how wrong I was.
Friday has my most lax timetable, so I took my time preparing for class. After an easy shower, I turned on the stereo; time to psych myself for the day ahead. It was while I brushed my teeth, the metal sounds from Linkin Park setting the theme for my day, that I felt the chill. In all the movies, when a ghost is about to appear, everywhere fogs up and the hero's breath curls out of his mouth in mists. Not in real life.
Without warning my lungs suddenly felt dry, like an icy hand was squeezing the life out of my chest. I would have screamed but I had no breath to. Stumbling out of the bathroom into my room in search of an inhaler, I heard a voice.
The voice seemed to rise and fall in a sibilant whisper. All else was silent, the sounds of the birds and Linkin Park all muted to the background. All I could hear was that scary voice and the slow thumping of my beating heart. Then as quickly as it had started, it ended. The hand seemed to lose its grip on my heart, and I fell to the floor right in front of the speakers, as Linkin Park blasted out, "Easier to run". Heart pumping wildly, I picked myself from the floor and grabbed my inhaler. As I inhaled deeply, the cool air giving life to my lungs, I thought to myself: "It was just an attack, it was just an attack.." I had no idea how true those words would prove.
In the back of the shuttle bus on my way to class, I kept replaying the mornings events in my head. I could not help the feeling that I was being warned. But by whom, and for what? My phone beeped. It was another Friday the 13th broadcast. This one however had a most sinister twist to it. Apparently, every Friday the 13th, a 2nd son and 13th grandchild in any family was claimed by the Devil. Usually, broadcast messages are not specific, but it was not only the specificity of this message that got my attention. I am the 2nd son of my parents! Though, I am the 11th grandchild; my father's parents had only 12 grandchildren. Breathing a sigh of relief that somebody invented family planning, I deleted the message and relaxed for the first time since I stepped out of bed. At the most, Friday the 13th was a day of bad luck, and the worst was over, the day couldn't get any worse. I closed my eyes.
The sound of screeching tires snapped me out of my reverie. Throwing my eyes wide open, I stared out through the windscreen. Right in front of the shuttle, a truck carrying iron rods and building materials suddenly lost control. Brakes squealing, the vehicle smashed into a drain at the side of the road, spewing bricks, wood, nails and rods into the road. The driver of the shuttle, swerved to avoid the still skidding truck, but was too late to dodge the contents. The bus rode over a bed of nails and the tires exploded, dragging the vehicle into a spin before crashing into a signpost. The windscreens exploded, showering glass everywhere while the passengers screamed and struggled to get off the bus. And then suddenly, like before, all went quiet and my heart ceased to beat. In the window was a face. She was young, and pale green. Her hair seemed to wave in the breeze, thin tendrils that crossed her face and reached down to her neck. Her eyes were holes; lid-less sockets that seemed to beckon me into the darkness behind. As I stared in disbelief, blood rushing down the side of my head, the ghostly apparition disappeared and my heart started to beat again.
The whole Friday the 13th thing has got to be a joke. There is no way a trail of bad luck could just be following someone; could just be following me. It just had to be coincidence. Those were the thoughts in my mind as I walked out of the Emergency Room at the Health Centre, a gigantic bandage wrapped around my head. Nevertheless, I could still see the face of that girl, her hollow sockets which had stared and stared at me, the face contorted like she wanted to scream at me, but she had no tongue, no voice. I shivered.
It was raining outside. The dark clouds covered the sky, angry and foreboding, unleashing torrent upon torrent of angry rainfall. I stood beneath the porch, my hand resting on the wet wall, contemplating whether to brave the weather and try to get a taxi to take me home. Then a taxi drove up, releasing its passengers. Seeing my chance, I made to dash through the rain when suddenly, a large rat jumped out of the hedge in front of me. The shock caused me to reel back. The rat saved my life. With a flash of white light, lightening sizzled down from the skies, striking the very spot I would have been standing. The electricity crackled the air, the current rushing up the wall where I rested my hand, the force tossing me 3ft into the air. As I landed on the floor, there was a dull thud beside me, and right in front of my eyes were the charred remains of the rat that saved my life. I screamed. As I blacked out, I could hear the rumbling echoes of clashing thunder.
I woke up in my room.
My friend had brought me home in his Mum's car. The storm had subsided now and he had to return the vehicle. He put on the TV and promised to come back immediately. So I lay on the bed, covered in bruises and bandages, wondering how my day had deteriorated so badly. The morning had been perfect, how could everything have gone so wrong? As I sobbed softly, I decided to call my Dad. He always knew what to do. He picked almost immediately, and I told him everything that had happened since I woke.
"Why is this happening to me Dad? Why me? I'm not even the 13th grandchild!"
Even as I said those words, my mouth froze in mid-scream. For, right there on TV was the girl who I had seen, the one who had called to me. It was a 'Missing Persons' report. She had been missing since January; January 13, and there was a reward for whoever found her. But no one would ever find her, 'cause she was dead. And I knew how. I tried to stifle a sob. And then I heard my Dad's voice on the phone:
"..technically, you are the 13th grandchild, two of your cousins died before you could know them.."
I heard a loud crack, but I didn't look up. My eyes were fixed on the TV. I knew what had happened. The ceiling fan had loosened from its place and the blades were falling and spinning out of control, spinning in their deadly cycle, aiming for my head.
On the screen, the girl was smiling. Dead and smiling. Dead..
I woke again. The alarm rang, the sun rose, the birds chirped..