Photo by Vruyr Martirosyan on unsplash.

(Few days to Valentine)

When we finally packed into the only available house in the neighborhood, all eyes were on us. 

The former house were we lived in, was nothing to write home about, in terms of basic amenities, security and other factors. Some times we wouldn’t have power supply for up to two weeks and counting.

Philip my husband would keep sighing and hissing in discomfort every day that passed.

“Haven’t you found a house yet?!” He said one morning over the phone. Philip was speaking with his house agent, while I and Michael my only child, stood behind the door eavesdropping on everything which they were discussing concerning the house. We smiled to each other; we were really excited to move to a new house.

One evening, Philip came back, with a smile on his face. 

“The agent texted me few minutes ago; he has found one”

“Really?” I asked; excitement building up. “Thank goodness” 

“It’s a two bedroom flat; it’s the only available one in that area” he said, 

“Wow, with the way houses are now scarce, I’ll say that we’re lucky o” I replied and we both turned to watch Michael as he danced with excitement; it was so hilarious that we began laughing.

That night, Philip and the agent spoke over the phone.

“It is the only available house in the area and everyone is scared to live there” the voice from the other end said.

I widened my eyes in surprise. Why would people be scared to live in such a place.

“Oh” Philip replied. “Who is the landlord?” He asked 

“It’s a landlady, she’s a widow who lost her husband some years ago.”

“So why are they scared of her house?”

“Well, according to reports sir, strange things have been happening to tenants in that house ever since she lost him” the agent replied.

“Well, that’s not a problem” Philip began “I don’t believe In such mythical believes or perceptions” he replied confidently. 

“Philip are you sure about…” but he cut me short.

“Thank you very much. We will do just fine” he said and ended the call.

Right from the time I’d known Philip, he had this stubborn nature, and believed that anything which wasn’t in line with whatever he believed as a Christian, mattered less

He turned to me and spoke.

“Fear not, woman; I know that many things are going on in your mind; we shall move in by next week.”

And we did.


The moment the car stopped in front of the gate, the uniqueness of the building caught my attention. It was way different from every other house which surrounded it. The entrance to the compound, was sealed with a red gate which had spikes all over it. The dust and dirt which clung to its surface was an indication that no one had stayed in the house for a very long time. The roof top was also coated in a red color.

Since I married Philip, he never loved the color red. Well, just as I expected him to say, 

“I shall coat this gate with a new color by weekend” he said, and pushed it wide open. He went in with the house agent, while I and Michael decided to have a tour round the house before moving in.

“Mummy, the whole place looks so abandoned o” Michael said to me. I shrugged, “well, we have no choice, at least it’s better than where we’re staying currently. 

“The perimeter fence looks so old and tattered” he continued;

“Yes Michael, we’ll have to re-plaster and re-paint them” I said.

From where we both were, we could hear Philip’s loud voice, echoing from within the house ; “The television will stay here!”

The compound was more like a greenhouse, due to the presence of old and overgrown grasses. These grasses had height from ones feet to one’s calf; almost to the knees.  From a distance, we could see jumping and crawling creatures, making their unique moves to inform us of their presence.

“Philip, this compound needs thorough cleaning o!!” 

I shouted in disgust, as I spat out.

Suddenly, Michael screamed and turned to hold me tight.

“What’s the problem? What did you see?” 

He pointed his hands towards a portion of the grass which remained just greenish in my eyes, till I went further to have a closer look.

It was a skull, a human skull


I managed to put myself together and informed Philip about it, and just as expected he hushed it aside.

To him, it didn’t matter and instead, he promised me that he would clear the whole house and put everything in place before we would pack in, In few days time. And he did.


When we finally packed into the house, all eyes were on us. 

Neighbors and new friends kept asking questions like; “you live there?”, “you live in the forbidden house?”, “did you just pack into that rejected house?” 

To them, they were trying to show concern and be polite, but I found the questions so intimidating. “Well if anything happens to us, it was Philip who brought us to this” I told myself amidst my state of discomfort and uneasiness 

One morning, I went to buy Akara and I had a conversation with the lady who sold it to me.

“They smell nice; how much do you sell?”

“One for N250”

“Ah! That’s expensive o madam”

“Na so the country dey o” she replied in an amusing manner, and we both laughed.

She managed to sell them to me at N200 per ball, and while she wrapped them up in a nylon bag, she initiated the discussion.

“You seem new to this area” she asked

I nodded 

“Where do you stay?”

“Down the street, the building with a red spiky gate” I replied.

Her eyes widened in surprise; “are you serious?” She asked me in a low tone, turning around to check if anyone was listening on us.

Her reactions ignited the fear and uneasiness which I had in me.

“The forbidden house” she whispered.

“What about it” I asked trying to be a bit bold and take responsibility for living in such place.

“The owner of the house is a widow, who then became a witch not long ago. She believed that her tenants then,  where the ones who killed her husband”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes, he was killed on a Valentine’s Day, so she vowed to punish her tenants on every Valentine’s Day by killing one of their loved ones, and she has never stopped. After she lost her husband, the very family who lived as tenants, lost their father the next year and on the same day; he suddenly disappeared. The next family to live there, also lost a loved one too, the following year and on the same day; she suddenly disappeared.

My legs were already wobbling. 

“How did she do that?” I asked.

“Well, she has this affinity for teddy bears, therefore whenever she takes their souls, she would turn the corpse into a teddy bear, making them to look for their loved ones without ever seeing them again.

I widened my eyes in shock. “How many tenants have lived there so far?” I managed to ask. 

“Many, many, my sister, none of them have stayed for up to a year. Immediately after Valentine’s Day, the begin planning on how to pack out” she said. The last family to live there, packed out five years ago after they understood what was going on.

That night, I explained to Philip everything I was told, and he just smiled.

“Philip my spirit isn’t comfortable with our new house” I said 

“Mary can you just compose your self and stop overreacting?” He asked

“I’m overreacting? And Valentine is in two days time?? Why won’t I overreact towards a matter as serious as this” 

“I’ve told you that nothing will happen to us, so why are you still perturbed???” 

“Philip, Philip, well I won’t raise this issue again” I said.

After series of quarrels and arguments, I made him promise me that we wouldn’t celebrate the Valentine’s Day at home. The main reason was for our safety. I believed that if nothing happened to us that day, then we were a bit safe till the next Valentine’s Day. 

(Valentines Day)

It was 12:00am on February 14, when I woke up. I went to Michael’s room where he lay to bring him to our own room. I didn’t want to take risks; I wanted my whole family to be safe on that fateful Valentine’s Day. To me I felt, Philip didn’t understand what was happening or that he didn’t just want to calm down to understand.

I felt a bit relieved that after I’d seen the human skull the other day, I hadn’t seen any other strange thing again since then. Well what if I would see any today? 

I pointed my torchlight towards Michael and watched him as he slept peacefully. He was my pride and source of joy. I had every reason to be grateful for having him, since I couldn’t have more children. I didn’t want to lose him, and I promised myself that I would see to that. 

Suddenly, the door behind me, closed with a loud thud. I turned in terror to see who or what it was, but then, the ticking wall clock which hung on wall beside me, fell down and crashed. I was still trying to understand what was going on, when my torchlight went off on it’s own. It was pure darkness and fright.

I saw my self gradually ascending and then I started floating on the air. The terrifying moment was accompanied by whispers which I couldn’t hear clearly or understand.

I tried to scream, but my mouth seemed so heavy. I felt my torchlight slip through my hand and it crashed on the floor.

“Philip!!!” I managed to say, but could only hear myself whispering. The torchlight suddenly came on, and I saw the figure of a woman standing in black linen. She was fully covered from head to toe and just stood watching me as I remained suspended in the air. I knew she was the witch whom everyone was talking about.

My blood pressure was already high and I was gradually losing it because there was just too much to understand. I was about blacking out when I shouted Philip’s name for the last time.


And he ran out; Michael also woke up at that moment. 


They both saw me on the floor and helped me to the room. Well, Philip wouldn’t believe me.

“You must have been thinking and having imaginations lately about these things” he said “please get some rest, Mary”

“We have to leave here, please we have to leave here” I kept muttering until I fell asleep.

I woke up to the bright morning with fresh memories of what had just happened, earlier.

“Philip we have to leave here” I said as I turned to look at him. He wasn’t on the bed.

Soon, The door was pushed open.

“Have you seen Michael?” He asked.

I widened my eyes in shock and quickly jumped out of bed.  What if she had taken him? I became weak; I wouldn’t bear it if she actually did.

I managed to put myself together, and we combed the house in search of my only son.

“Michael! Michael! Michael!” We called out to him, but there was no reply.

We went outside to the streets but couldn’t find him. After about 2 hours of looking for him, we came back home tired. 

Philip immediately called the police, while I went to michael’s room and sat on his bed, devastated.

“Michael please where are you?” I asked calmly, in tears, to no one in particular. His shoes where intact; the cloth which he wore, the previous night were all on the bed. His toys were still in the exact position which he had left them, the previous night before sleeping off. I had every reason to believe that he didn’t leave the house.

The moment the police arrived, I stood up to leave the room to go and meet them, when I looked up and saw it.


It was a red teddy bear, tied with a rope to the ceiling fan. I knew what it was; I knew who it was. I slumped.


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