“Do you know what’s funny?”
“No. What’s funny?”
“Only couples ever get that room…”
“…and they never speak to each other again afterwards. If they survive that is.”
Tonye rolled his eyes. His colleague, Meg, was always full of preposterous tales. This time, she was telling him a tale of a haunted room that magically appears at different hotels. The crazy part is she doesn’t realize how ludicrous it sounded. He couldn’t believe he actually used to like her. When she waltzed into the office a year before with her brightly coloured hair and nose-ring, he had been blown away. It’s not often one comes by free-spirits like Meg in his side of town, so he had found her exciting. They had had sex two weeks after she joined the company and neither of them had ever spoken of it again.
The sex had been… weird. He had been too excited and she, for lack of a better word, too inviting. It had ended before it even started. Tonye winced as he remembered how embarrassing it was having to face her afterwards. Surprisingly, she had been awfully cheerful the next time he bumped into her on the stairway. Nothing in her face showed they had had sex, or worse yet, very horrible sex the night before. Now, staring at her rambling about haunted hotel rooms, he thought how he had dodged a bullet. No one deserves to deal with all this crazy, he thought.
“Ignore me. Call me crazy. But this is real. This is not just some made up stuff.”
He looked at her again and thought, how could someone so attractive be so retarded. Too bad he was stuck with her for the next couple of days.
This was not the first time Tonye was saddled with an eccentric partner. Working in creative meant meeting people were not exactly normal. He always managed to keep his cool anyway so he wasn’t particularly bothered.
“Tonye. Tonye are you even listening to me?”
“Yes babe. Why don’t we go check in now? So we don’t get carried away by this enchanting conversation.”
“Your sarcasm is weak.”
He watched her pout for a few seconds.
“Okay, be that way”, she said standing up and getting her luggage, “be the doubting Thomas that gets shown in the end.”
He squinted at her. She was such a loosenut.
Tonye had not had any proper sleep in the last 24 hours. He had not even been aware of his falling asleep on Meg until she brought it up on their cab ride to the hotel. The flight to Uyo had been smooth and uneventful, and they had found a reasonably priced cab only few minutes after leaving baggage claim. Tonye was just musing on how the journey so far had been one of the most stress-free ones he’d had in a while when Meg’s shrilly voice pierced the air.
“You laid your head on my bosom.”
“In the plane. You laid your head on my bosom.”
He squinted at her. “Uhm I’m… sorry?”
She turned away from him quickly but not before he saw a glitter of tears in her eyes.
“What… you’re crying!? I’ve not been sleeping well babe. It’s not unlikely that I might have fallen asleep on the flight but trust me it was never my intention to sleep on your “bosom.”
He gave her the most flabbagasted look he could muster yet it didn’t quite portray how he was feeling inside.
“It’s not that! C’mon Tonye, we’ve had sex. You think I’d make a deal of you laying on my breasts!?”
Now it was she who shot him an incredulous look like he was the crazy one. Tonye shook his head to clear it out. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“So what’s the problem?”
“Remember what I told you about the haunted hotel room and how only couples ever get that room? We arrived Uyo like couples, what if…”
“Oh for the love of God! Please just shut it! I’ve had enough of this bullshit. Let’s just attend this conference and go back to Lagos in peace. Please don’t stress me.” He could feel his heart hammering in his chest. He hadn’t lost his temper like that in a long while but it had been a long week and he was really wired up and cranky.
“I’m sorry.” Her voice was small and weak.
He began to feel like an asshole and was going to apologize but the peace and quiet that followed his outburst made him reconsider.
When they arrived their hotel, Tonye booked two separate rooms over the counter. He logged her luggage along with his up the musty stairway. The steps creaked under his feet. He cursed his employers for being cheap and miserly with their allowances.
“I’d just take this up to your room”, he said with a groan as he struggled to get both their bag up each step. He wondered why women had to pack so heavy every time. He turned around and looked at Meg. She was still pouting. He sighed.
“Look, Meg, I’m sorry. I’ve just had a rough week and I was hoping I’d just chill out on this trip. I’m sorry for going off on you. It was uncalled for.”
She nodded slowly.
When they got up the stairs, he turned to her again. “Do you want to stay in my room for a bit? Maybe have a glass of wine and talk? I brought weed.”
“I actually don’t smoke.”
He was surprised. One would think a girl like Meg would at least do Marijuana if nothing else. So all that crazy was all her, he thought. He chuckled at the thought.
“Nothing, just some random thoughts. So wine then?”
“I can do wine.”
“Okay. I’d just take your bag to your room first. Do you want anything from it?”
“Yes, a couple actually.”
“You know what, why don’t we just leave it at mine until you’re going back up to your room”
“Yes. Sure.” She grabbed her box and followed him down the hall.
“Here we are”, he said as they arrived at an entrance. “Room 213”
She muttered something under her breath.
“Nothing”, she grabbed her box again, “after you.”
He squinted at her and shook his head. They walked into the room.
“This is nice… for such a crappy hotel.”
Tonye woke up to a wheezing sound above his head. He turned around to see a person swaying back and forth frantically. He reached across the table and flicked on the lights. Crap. Meg was on the bed beside him, naked but for her nose-piercing. She held her lips in her hands. She was quivering frantically.
For a brief moment, Tonye panicked. He quickly snapped out of it and looked around the room. Two glasses and an empty bottle of wine laid on the floor across the room. He ran his hands through his balding head realizing they must have had sex.
“Meg”, he said calmly, “are you okay?”
She muttered something under her breath.
“Meg, please talk to me. If there anything, we can talk through it.”
She let out a loud wheezing sound.
Tonye jumped. He was, at this point, slightly unnerved. He leaned in closer to hear what she was saying.
“The voices. The voices. The voices.”
He pulled in a little closer. “The boizez”, he said, questioningly.
He immediately felt a sharp pain as Meg grabbed his face with both her hands and bit down on his nose.
“What the fuck…”
He frantically tried to pull his face away from her teeth but she wasn’t letting go. He desperately began punching at the back of her head. He finally pushed away from her and stumbled backwards away from the bed.
“What the fuck…” He could feel blood trickling down his nose. He raised his hand towards his face and felt the bridge of his nose hanging open.
“Oh my God. Oh my God.”
The blood was now steadily flowing into his mouth and its corners. Blood had begun to drip from his beard to the marble floor.
Meg sat cross-legged on the bed. Her head hung downwards. Her mane of green braids mascuraded her face. She continued muttering softly.
She screamed loudly and her head jerked upwards like she was being dragged by her hair.
“Oh my God, Tonye, the voices.” Her hands reached towards him like she was trying to grab something for support.
“Get away from me!” Tonye grabbed the nightstand beside him and wielded it like a weapon. He ran crazily into the bathroom.
“Tonye, please help me! Help me!”
Tonye locked the bathroom door and leaned on it for reinforcement.
“Tonye! Tonye! Tonye, please!”
She began screaming very loudly. Consistently, for several minutes.
After a while the screaming stopped. Tonye had begun crying quietly in the bathroom. He rose and looked at his face in the mirror. It was a mess of dried up blood mixed with tears and other bodily fluids. He staggered backwards at the sight. How had his day gone so fucking bad.
He heard a whisper from the other side of the door.
“Tonye. It’s the haunted room. It’s room 101c I warned you about. They think we’re a couple. Tonye, tell them we’re not together.” There was so much pain in her voice.
Tonye winced. He wasn’t the superstitious type but he didn’t know what to think of the whole situation. He decided to just keep quiet and wait it out. Whatever it was.
“Tonye, tell them we’re not together! Tonye, Tell them we’re not together!” Her voice kept going up a notch until she was full on screaming.
Tonye lips began to quiver again and he could feel tears gliding down his face. A loud thudding sound against the bathroom door caused him to jump. It got louder and more persistent. He could feel the door ripping apart. He watched it crack slightly. He backed into a corner, holding his nose in place to keep it from falling out completely.
The thuds came coming, faster now and more fervent. The door ripped open right in the middle and Tonye saw the most frightening sight he had ever seen in his life: Meg standing between the crack, her head covered in blood.
She kicked the door open and walked into the bathroom drunkily.
“Please…” Tonye, implored.
She pointed at the doorway leading out of the hotel room.
“It’s… room… one, zero…” Her legs gave way under her and she passed out on the bathroom floor.
Tonye immediately jumped over her unconscious body and ran out into the room. That was when he heard loud knocking on the front door. He walked to the door slowly and opened it. On the other side of the door was a frightened security man and the lady at the reception. He followed their frightened gaze. On the other side was the door was “Room 101c” written in blood.
Tonye woke up with a start and almost jumped out of the bed. He felt strong arms pinning him down.
“It’s okay, sir. It’s okay, sir”, a lady dressed in white said. He blinked. He looked around and realized he was in a hospital.
“Well, you had a traumatic night.”
The memory started coming back in a flood.
“Meg?”, he asked quietly.
“Your girlfriend is fine. I’m assuming you know of her condition.”
“I really don’t know sir. Something very strange happened at our hotel room last night.”
The doctor smiled.
“Well yes”, he said, “Something strange did happen. Your friend, Meg, suffers from schizophrenia. We found some pills, which she wasn’t taking by the way, and her diagnosis in her handbag.”
“Apparently, the voices made her believe she was being attacked by a haunted room and ultimately “made” her attack you”
“Get some rest now sir”
Tonye turned away, knowing he could never rest again in his life.