By Patrick Ngugi
The tiny mosquito on the ceiling kept on growing fatter and fatter, its tiny tummy emitting a red glow, showing how full it was with the blood it had siphoned out of Karungu Kiguoya’s neck.
As it stood upside down on the ceiling growing bigger and bigger every second, Kiguoya cursed again as he rubbed his neck, remembering how the little creature’s sharp proboscis had pricked his neck, painfully drawing out his precious blood.
And as he watched, the gnat grew and grew to a point where he thought it would explode into a thousand pieces, spewing crimson droplets of blood in all directions and showering him with his own blood. Either that, or due to its sheer weight, it would bring the roof crashing down and kill them both.
Kiguoya did not care which of these alternatives would happen. He was tired and all he needed was a rest. A deep rest. A rest that would make him rest in peace.
He blinked, and to his astonishment he could no longer see the giant mosquito. In its place were two normal sized mosquitoes on the same spot that the giant one had been. The problem was… they were also throbbing, their little tummies pulsating with red as they grew bigger and bigger at each pulse.
Now he was sure that the ceiling would come crashing down as the two mosquitoes continued to grow to the size of huge hippos. Just as he thought they would explode and sprinkle him all over with quagmire of blood, they disappeared, and on blinking a second time, they were four normal sized mosquitoes on the same spot.
No, he had to do something about it. Instead just lying there and getting scared shit, he thought he should try and swat the four creatures beforethey multiplied further and bring his house down. An excruciating pain seared from his neck where the mosquito had bitten him, radiated through the spine to his back, sending him crashing back to bed.
As the pain diminished he opened his eyes again and stared at the ceiling. They were now eight of them. And this time they had their eyes on their back. All the 16 compound eyes. Each with thousands tiny eyes were gazing at him.
And their mouths seemed to be smiling… no laughing at him… jeering him… then their lips changed back into their long needlelike… now spear sized proboscis seemingly positioning themselves ready to shoot him to death.
Pain in the neck or no pain, he had to do something. Using all the strength his frail body could muster, Kiguoya sat up, his feeble legs dangling from the bed, barely touching the cold floor. At the corner of the room there was an iron bar that he kept as a weapon to ward of burglars if the attempted to break into his bedsitter. He would use this iron bar to fight the giant gnats.
There was a shrill of laughter raining down from the ceiling, the mosquitoes making a joke of his attempt to protect himself. He stared back at them defiantly. They were now 16 of them, their 32 compound eyes – and their tiny eyes – mocking him and their sharp straw like proboscis attempting to prick him.
He had to run out of this mad house. As he scurried towards the door there was a huge gust of wind as the giant mosquitoes, which for some weird reason had turned into vultures, took off and started chasing him.
God forbid, where was all this leading to, he wondered. He reached the door and grappled with the knob but was unable to open it. He took a peek at the deadly looking vultures, their stark naked neck, sharp beaks and ugly eyes right from a nightmare, all rushing at him in a fiery frightening speed.
God help me, he said as he struggled to open the door. Nothing doing. He started throwing his arms about trying to shoo off the vultures but nothing doing. Then two of the largest and the most vicious looking ones came down towards him, their sharp beaks ready to strike and he started screaming. He screamed so loudly that he woke up. If he hadn’t woken up at that point, he would have surely died.
His heart was thumping hard against his chest that he feared it could pop out. His forehead was dripping wet with sweat which had drenched into his pajamas. The room was dark, and though he was now sure it had been a nightmare, he had to switch on the lights just to make sure that the vultures, the hippos and the giant gnats had left with the bad dream.
The lights flooded the room at the flick of the switch. It was 3.30 am. All was quiet and peaceful except in his sick mind and body. Yes, it must be the fever that had made him hallucinate, he thought as he sat at the edge of the bed, taking the towel and with a trembling hand drying the sweat off his face, chest and back.
I must do something about this fever, he said to himself, then winced when, in his mind’s eye saw the shiny silvery and sharp needle at the end of the syringe enter his butt, or his arm. God, give me strength, he murmured
Ever he was a kid, Karungu Kiguoya was always afraid of sharp objects. He could particularly not stand injections when he had to go to hospital for treatment. He was always overjoyed when the doctor prescribed pills or tablets or syrup instead of injections. Once in a while he would avoid the injection room when the doctor sent him there.
As an adult, he never outgrew the phobia.
Two weeks earlier he had travelled to the mosquito prone Coastal city of Mombasa and for the last two days he had developed bad fever, headaches and joint pains, but instead go going for tests and treatment, he had decided to treat himself through over the counter drugs.
“But who told you it was malaria? It could be something else. You had better go to the hospital for checkup,” his girlfriend Mildred had tried to persuade him without success two days ago when this fever started.
He had tried different types of medication from the chemist but none was working. As he lay there wondering what to do, he thought to himself. I could go permanently insane if this hallucination continues. I think it’s time I went to see a doctor.
It was now 3.46 am and after making up his mind that he would see a doctor the first thing in morning, his mind started easing and his nerves calmed down. He would not put off the lights this time, hallucination or hallucination. He would sleep with the lights on. But as he dozed off a few minutes later, the vultures were back, this time in multicolor and circling around the bed. He woke up and they disappeared.
At the office the next morning, Kimoni Kimatta laughed his head off when Kiguoya told him what was happening to him. Kiguoya had just spoken to the boss, asking time off to see the doctor, and having been granted, he stopped at Kimatta’s desk to explain the ordeal, and the fact that despite having a phobia for injections, he had no alternative.
After long bellowing laughter, Kimatta told him: “But my friend, you should have told me earlier… I know a herbalist who can finish your problem for good! You will never get any injection for life and malaria or any other type of disease will never attack you!”
“What? Are you serious?” Kiguoya had asked as he shivered, and a faint headache gnawed at his head.
“Sure… he will give you a concoction that will take care of everything.”
“Where is he, and how much does he charge?” Kiguoya asked.
“Go to the junction of Kirinyaga and Landhies Road, and look for Ngaumaku House. Go to third floor. You can’t miss the place. Funny thing, he does not have fixed charge for his services. You pay him what you have.”
“Seriously?” Kiguoya shivered. He was starting to get about of fever, his temperature raising.
“Yes, go now. You can take a bodaboda,” Kimatta urged.
As he rode to Ngaumaku House, Kiguoya had to grip at the bodaboda rider tightly so that he may not fall off. He closed his eyes tightly in order to ignore the numerous demons, vultures and bats that were flying around him, some of them speaking to him in English and even mother tongue, telling him very nonsensical things.
“Here is Ngaumaku House,” said the bodaboda man, telling Kiguoya who still hugged him tightly unawares that they had arrived.
Kiguoya opened his eyes and almost closed them again when he saw the multitude of pedestrians around him all with vulture-like faces.
“Please take me to the doctor… he is at third floor… am not well and can’t walk alone,” he murmured to the bodaboda man who obliged, and holding his feverish hand they walked slowly to the doctor’s office where the rider left him after being paid his fare.
The herbalist was a fat woman in her late 60s. Her head was covered with a red brimless cap, decorated with tiny stars, crescents and planets. At least Kiguoya saw the planet Saturn. Despite the cap, and despite his condition, Kiguoya could also see that she had unkempt gray hair.
She only gave him one look and in a deep cracking voice she said that she knew what was ailing him, and proceeded to give him a small basket, asking to put in his donation, since she never charged for her work.
Kiguoya fumbled with his pockets and produced a Sh500 note and gave it to the old witch.
Theold woman clapped her hands and two assistants came in. Kiguoya had to squint his eyes in order to see them properly. He could not make up his mind but they seemed to be interchanging their forms – sometimes they would be male, a few seconds they would be female, but he wasn’t sure whether they were human, mosquitoes, hippos or vultures. It must be the fever playing on his mind, he thought as he struggled to follow the proceedings.
“Take him to the waiting room,” the old witchdoctor told the two.
“Come,” the two seemed to echo in unison.
Kiguoya obliged, and struggled to his feet, following the two creatures through a dark spooky corridor, suddenly they stopped and one of them opened a door. They got in and Kiguoya followed.
The room was semi darkness but he could see one chair in the middle of the room. He could see nothing else in the rom.
“Sit there and wait,” said one of the helpers. As they turned to go one of them flicked a switch and light flooded the room. Kiguoya shut his eyes and opened them slowly as they got accustomed to the light.
The room was about ten by ten feet square. There was no furniture except the chair he sat on. Slowly as his eyes got used to the light, he started seeing strange and scaring weapons. Sharp swords, knives, pangas, and even scissors and needles of all sorts were displayed on the walls. Some on shelves and others just hanging from their scabbards.
There were all types of sharp objects hanging all over the place including the ceiling. His heart started beating fast, wondering where the hell he had brought himself. Was this really a herbalist’s clinic?
Suddenly he saw a door in the wall facing him. On it was the word SURGERY.
He could see light seeping from under the door, and also noticed some movements in there. Suddenly there was a blood curdling scream from that room. His heart beat faster, and his breaths got shorter and more rapid.
Another heart piercing scream and he stood up. He could see blood oozing from the “Surgery” and seeping its way towards where he was standing.
I gotta run, he thought, I don’t belong here.
Without wasting another moment Kiguoya busted out of the room, back along the dark corridor. He could hear voices behind him, but did not want to wait, or look back. He quickly descended the three floors meeting and avoiding hippos and vultures who tried to bite him with their sharp teeth.
At the ground floor he stopped and looked back. A flock of angry vultures were still following, baying for his blood. He jumped and ran across the road… gosh… without checking traffic. Then, blackout.
A huge crowd gathered around his body after the ghastly accident. The fire truck could not avoid hitting him, nor could the driver bring the truck to a halt before crushing his body to mound of flesh and bones. The onlookers tried to outdo each other in explaining what they had seen.
Invisible to them, Kiguoya’s spirit hovered around them. He now wondered how silly he had been not to seek medical help sooner. And there had been no vulture or hippos anywhere… But now, a lone vulture cycled a few hundred metres above them… hoping that the body would not be removed soon.
The End 281213