The hour had come. The night was silent as a graveyard. Well, our town was a graveyard. I pulled Tayo to me. I had forced her to sleep earlier; I didn’t want her to hear the screams of loved ones crying over the ones that Death had chosen. I brought my ears to her chest. Thankfully Death hadn’t chosen her. She was only six, too young for Death to claim, but after what happened to Temi, I couldn’t risk it. My bladder was full but I couldn’t bear to leave her. I sat staring at the candle stick that illuminated the room, when I heard a gentle tap on the door. My eyes quickly darted to the door and I froze. My breathing seemed to cease.

Maybe I should ignore it? Maybe Death had come to knock. The tap grew into a loud knock and Tayo began to stir. Why would Death come to my house? He just took my wife last month, what else did he want?

“Please help me!” A voice accompanied the banging. Tayo murmured and stirred again. I silently cursed and opened the door a fraction.

“Please help me. I have been stabbed. They are after me, you have to help me!” the person said from the darkness.

“Go away!” I said and tried to close the door again.

“Please, my name is Sola and I am not from here. Please! Your house is the only house here, the rest are too far. I will bleed out.” The dark figure said.

“I can’t he–”

“Daddy, who is that?” Tayo stood staring at me with big eyes.

I left the door and carried her. The person rushed in and locked the door. She leaned on the door. I dropped Tayo and rushed to her. I wanted to yell her but the words stuck to my throat. Oh my God, she had lost so much blood and she was gradually losing conscious. I carried her to the chair. Her blouse was filled with blood, so was her trousers. I opened her blouse; a deep wound was buried in her right side.

“Please heel–” she whispered and fainted. I rushed into the other room and got my First Aid Kit. Tayo was applying pressure to the lady’s wound when I came out. I smiled at her and patted her hair.

“Keep applying pressure just like the way daddy taught you.” She nodded. I brought all the things I needed, out and gently lifted Tayo’s hands.

“Go and wash your hands in the bowl in the room.” I said. She nodded and ran to the room. I began to work. Some minutes later, Sola was on the couch with the wound cleaned, sewn and bandaged. She rested on the chair, still unconscious.

The clock chimed midnight. Only five hours left for Death to continue his reign of terror. Thankfully the night was still devoid of any soul wrenching scream, maybe Death decided to spare us this month. Tayo hadn’t come out till now so I jumped up and I went to the room. She lay on the bed, her wet hands soaking the bed, fast asleep.

“She looks like you.” I turned sharply. The lady was leaning on the door. She smiled at me weakly.

“Thank you” She said.

“You should rest.” I said and led her back to the chair. She sat down on the chair and I sat on the table opposite her. She groaned.

“You did a good job? Are you a doctor?” She asked, her tired eyes searching mine.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I am a doctor too. I–”

“What happened?” I leaned in and asked again.

“I was driving home from Ile Ife. It was getting dark and I..was getting tired of driving. Seyi said we should take a detour into the nearest village and rest. I should have kept driving, I should have…” She broke into tears. I stared at her as tears ran down her pretty face. Something about her reminded me of Temi. She had her eyes, and when she cried, that night happened all over again.

“Who is Seyi?” I tried to suppress thoughts of that night.

“My sister; she was only sixteen, so full of life.” She said and wiped her eyes.

“What happened next?” I asked. Temi was also full of life; Death took her before she ever lived. Sola stared at the floor.

“We saw a road. We wouldn’t have taken it but it was close to a church’s camp ground so I thought it was safe. On our way, we saw an old woman. We asked for the nearest village and she said we should keep driving straight.” She held her side and groaned.

“And,” I asked. I saw Temi holding her throat as Death took her breath away. Tears threatened to fall but I shook my head, hoping to keep them at bay.

“We passed many trees and we stopped when there wasn’t any way to go further. We were about to reverse when we saw some men drag an unconscious girl through the forest. One big man carried the girl and one elderly man was chanting something behind them. Then another man appeared in front of them and they stopped. He grabbed the girl and slit her throat.” She looked at me.

“I froze. Seyi screamed and I began to reverse back the way we came. We didn’t go far because for some reason our car started moving forward; towards them. I was so stupid!” she said, tears fell from her oval face.

“You aren’t stupid. You didn’t know. What happened next?” I asked as I held her hands. Her hands were soft; they reminded me of how Temi used to tease me.

“You have lady fingers” she would say.

“They just stood there as a man in creepy attire kept whispering something. Seyi was screaming but my vocal chords refused to work till the car stopped in front of them.” She released my hands from mine and tried to stand up but collapsed back to the chair.

“You need to rest.” I touched her lightly. “He was wearing creepy attire? Describe it.” I said.

“It was a garment covered with many skulls. He had–” She said. I jumped up and ran into the room. Tayo was still sleeping soundly.

“What happened?” Sola said frowning. One hand held her side and the other was holding the door. Her eyes were wide and her voice, urgent.

“You are lying. You need to leave. Now” I said. The wound had started to bleed again and pain seized her features but I couldn’t let her stay now. Not after she had described Death.

“Why? What did I say?” she said and took a step. I picked up a knife from the bowl beside my bed and pointed it at her.

“Don’t come any closer.” My voice was low but she flinched.

“What did I do?” She asked and Tayo stirred.

“You are lying! No one has ever seen Death. Only our forefather when he invited Death to take seven souls every month in exchange for immortality.” I said. What have I done? I let a total stranger into my house and now she would kill the only one I loved.

“I saw him. He is no Death. Death doesn’t bleed!” She said and took another step.

“If you take another step, I swear, I would kill you.” I grabbed Tayo from the bed and pushed her behind me.

“I stabbed him. How do you think I escaped? He just stabbed Seyi…” She paused, tears raining down which wiped them away violently. “They took us to a shrine. He just grabbed Seyi and stabbed her several times while the others watched. I watched her fall down. I watched life seep out of her body. The other girl was on the floor too, probably dead. He thought I will be easy too.

I'm a writer, poet, content creator and Mental Health advocate. I'm known by my penname Eddie Levi. My works have been featured in online magazines and anthologies. I was shortlisted for Christlit hub competition. My first novella SHE (Death's Curse) has sold many copies and still selling. I have organized seminars on mental health and been part of several editorial boards including the magazine of Writers Space Africa, Lesotho. I'm a member of Earnest Writes Community and Writers Space Africa as well many other writing Communities and families.

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