Deidre opened her eyes and blinked in confusion. She had fallen asleep in Deinde’s arms as he whispered his undying love into her ears, and she wondered why and when she had left the warmth and comfort of her bed to lie on the ground in what appeared to be a forest clearing. A bright flash of lightning lit up the sky, as she clambered to her feet, and she realised she was standing in the open without any clothes on. She glanced around but couldn’t see Deinde, and then she heard someone running towards her. A feeling of dread overwhelmed her as she remembered the crazy-eyed woman from the night before, and she darted towards the trees ahead in a bid to hide. As she got to the shelter they offered, she caught sight of Deinde and she ran towards him in the hope that he could explain what they were doing there. He was scratching away at his hand as she approached, and she soon saw the reason why. Hair was sprouting from his palm, and it looked eerily like the same hair that was on her head. She realised immediately that he was in no position to help her, and she crouched behind a tree and began to recite Psalm 23, which was the only part of the Bible she could remember. She got to ‘walk through the valley of’ and then broke off as she realised another voice was reciting it along with her. She whirled around in disbelief to see the same woman from the previous night loping towards her, quoting Psalm 23 as well. Sheer panic fuelled Deidre’s legs as she got up and began to run. Ijawunmi laughed in sheer delight, and took off in pursuit after her.
Deinde watched them dispassionately as they ran, and then he returned to scratching at his hand. He had no idea as to how they had landed in the midst of a humid, tropical forest, and he wasn’t in the slightest bit curious. He felt detached from all that was going around him, all he cared about was his hand. He wasn’t sure if it was the itching or the subsequent scratching that had caused it, but the hair growing from his palm seemed unstoppable, and he knew the woman in pursuit of Deidre was behind it all. He thought longingly of his wife Shade, and determined that once he was able to get away from here, he would go straight to her for some more of that oil of hers. Ijawunmi caught up with Deidre easily after she tired of playing cat and mouse with her, and grabbing two handfuls of hair, she jerked with such force the hair came away with pieces of scalp hanging from the bottom. Deidre screamed in pain, and Ijawunmi’s scream of victory mingled with hers to chilling effect. Gripping the hair in one hand, Ijawunmi returned to where Deinde still stood, seemingly in a stupor. She approached him warily, unsure of whether the woman with the bright light would suddenly appear, but she was able to reach him without being impeded. She stared at him till he looked at her in the eyes, and she saw recognition dawn in his. She longed to reach her hands into his chest and rip his heart out the way she had with the chicken, but there seemed to be an invisible force holding her back. She noted to herself that its strength had diminished since their previous encounter, and contented herself with saying ‘Irun mi, da pada!’, and then she left.
Deidre’s scream jerked Deinde out of an unpleasant dream, and he sat up quickly, wondering if Shade had tracked him down to his lover’s house. He saw Deidre clutching her head as she sat up beside him, and as he reached out to comfort her, his hand started itching and he rubbed it against the sheet to relieve the itch. He stared in disbelief at the reddish streak this action caused, and as he glanced at his hand, Deidre forgotten, he saw that it had split open at the cut, and this time, there was no mistaking the luxuriant hair that grew from it. At first, he thought he had somehow gotten Deidre’s hair entangled in his palm, but the pain that radiated through him as he tried to pull the strands off convinced him otherwise. Deidre was moaning in pain as she clutched her head, and he could see trickles of blood running down her head. ’What happened?’ he gasped ‘how did you hurt your head?’. She turned to look at him, and he recoiled as he saw the fear in her eyes. ‘Where did you get this hair from?’ she demanded, ‘what have you done to me?’. He tried to gently ease her hands away from her head so he could examine it and stem the bleeding if possible, and he felt a jolt run through his right hand as it came into contact with her hair. He jerked his hand away but her hair came too as it had inexplicably become meshed with the hair on his hand, and he looked in disbelief as the blood from the scalp dangling at the end started to drip on to the bed.
To be continued……..