Thursday, May 28, 2015

Featured Story: 'The 28th House' by T-Ralph Olaniyi - Episode 1

Hey folks, how are y'all doing? Since I read novels alot, I thought of sharing some of my favorite stories with you on this platform (with permission from the writers of course). So I got my first go-ahead from the writer of this awesome story that will run for few weeks on the blog. Sit back relax and enjoy.... 'The 28th House' by T-Ralph Olaniyi.

Episode 1 - The Move

"Wow!" exclaimed Mr George Adewale while he read the letter in his hands. Mr George Adewale, a regional accountant for an audit firm, just received a promotion to the position of a zonal accountant. With this promotion, he had to move with his family to the city where the zonal head office was located. His wife, Mrs Sade Adewale, was a housewife. She, however, sometimes did render services such as baking, beadworks and small event planning like birthdays for friends and neighbors. Sarah, their first child and daughter, is 16 years old. Sarah is followed by Iyanu, 12 years of age, then, Ronke, 10 years old, and then, the only baby boy in the house, John, who will be 8 years in a few months time.

About 10 months before the promotion, George received a call from an estate agent who informed him about a house for sale available in a quiet street in his hometown. George's plan has always been to build a house from the foundations to the rooftop, but, the offer was quite tempting because of the cheap price and it is a recently built house, fully furnished and well-equipped. "The offer sounds too good to be true", George said to himself. George discussed with his wife about purchasing the house with the #5.2 million they had saved over the past 8 years. Sade was a bit hesitant concerning the offer and she made a strange suggestion to her husband, "Let's pray about it". George was not the church-attending type. Of course, he believed in God and he became born-again in his final year in university. But, as time went on, praying and worship became a ceremonious rite in his eyes which he only did on Easters, Christmases and New Years. His common response to friends who invited him to church or fellowship him was "I am a very busy man." George never gave a response to Sade's suggestion on prayer. A week later, they purchased the property together with a piece of land behind the house with over 80 percent of their savings. They extended the fence of the house to enclose the whole place they had bought. George was convinced that he would rent out the huge bungalow, thereby, making returns from the rent paid by the tenant. The agent gave them all information about the house but left out a few important details. Months blew by and not a single tenant came around. Prospective tenants avoided the house for a good reason.

The zonal headquarters was located in his hometown. George and Sade considered it good luck that they would soon be moving to their hometown to live in the house they had bought 10 months ago. Sarah was not so happy about the move. "I will miss my school friends", she said to her mum. Sarah had a thin voice which became very sonorous after taking voice training classes in the music club of her school. Most of her friends were members of the music club. She promised to keep in touch with her friends through calls and instant messaging apps on her mobile phone. Prior to their arrival, George made plans to convert the bushy extra plot of land into a beautiful garden with fragrant flowers. The idea of having a personal play-garden within the house made Iyanu and Ronke excited.

They decided to make the move on a weekend. They drove for hours before arriving at the city. In about half an hour, they were in the street of the house. It was so quiet. All they heard was the sound of their car and the hired truck behind them that carried their furniture, electronics and other loads. This street was quite different from what they were used to. No hawkers, no kiosks and no kids playing and dancing on the parched sandy roads. Everyone was confined to the fences of their houses. The road was very straight in line such that one could see the end of the street from the other end.
The street was lined with 30 houses, 15 on each side. George would live with his family on the 28th house, which is the 14th house on the left. As they approached the red gate of the house, George's heart pounded within his ribs afraid of what was behind the fence because all he had seen were pictures and documents of the house. "Nothing could be grander", Sade thought to herself as she saw the house for the first time as the gates gave way automatically with a remote control in hand. The house was more beautiful than the pictures they had seen. Engulfed with so much blissful ignorance, they were all pleased to be in such a perfect haven; little did they know of what they were in for. Sarah was busy taking pictures of the new house and sharing it on social media with their friends as the men in the truck starting off-loading.

Sooner than they knew, they finished off-loading the truck which left immediately after receiving the remaining payment. The family went around the house, inspecting each room and assigning functions to them. Iyanu and Ronke were to stay together in the same room while Sarah and John had their individual rooms. John was more excited than anyone about his new room because it was bigger. He jumped for joy towards his mum, hugging her tightly. As they moved about, John remained in his room pacing from one end to the other, flaunting his legs and head with each step he took. They completed the tour within the house and they decided to go out and check the garden. Sade asked, "Where is John?" Iyanu replied, "Mum, I saw him sleeping in his room." Just around the corner of the back of the house, before the low garden's wall, they could see the balcony of the one-storied house next to theirs - the 30th house which is the 15th and the last house on the left. An old woman with gray hair was sighted around the shaded area of the balcony where she was seated. She stared at them like she was seeing an amusement park on a plasma TV screen. George waved at her but she did not respond. So he said "Good afternoon" at the top of his voice but the old woman kept watching them like she was deaf and dumb. They were all startled at their neighbor and wondered why she stared at them that way. Iyanu whispered to Ronke, "I guess she is blind so she can not see us even with her eyes wide opened."

The family walked in the midst of the garden and enjoyed the colorful sight and sweet fragrance of the flowers. It was almost evening, so the sun was not too hot. They sat down on the grass as they took cold beverage drinks under the shade of a tree. Ronke turned around and saw a figure like a shadow running quickly towards the corner. In a split second, it disappeared before her eyes. She shouted, "Daddy! Daddy!! I saw something." They all turned around to see as they saw her pointing to an empty space. Wondering what she meant, George asked "What did you see?" By this time, the old woman on the balcony was no longer there. Ronke replied, "I saw something." She had barely completed the statement when they heard John screaming out loud from his room. They rushed to meet him inside. John was still screaming in bouts of about 5 seconds' interval as they struggled with the door to his room. The door knob was stubborn as it refused to turn. George was ready to break through the door, then, the knob turn down by itself and the door flanked open. Sade rushed in to grab John with a tight hug. George was busy checking the room for the cause of John's fright. After John was calm, George asked him what happened and John explained that he saw a grizzled figure coming out of the cupboard.

George checked the cupboard but found nothing there, let alone anybody. John was terrified to his bones as his body shook in his mother's tight embrace. Sade and George came to the conclusion that John must have had a really terrifying dream. Sade comforted John until he became calm. She sang to him one of his favorite songs till he was fully calm and asleep again. They ate dinner a few hours later and went to bed. Ronke said to Iyanu as they lay on the same bed, "Do you really think John was dreaming in the afternoon?" Iyanu said, "Of course, he was." "Or, what else could it have been?" Iyanu added. Ronke just shrugged as she turned around and tucked herself under the blanket to sleep.

(Stay tuned for episode 2)

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