I pull my shoes off at the door before I walk into the room – that’s what the sign at the door says. The room is dimly lit and smells faintly of burning incense. A heavyset woman sits behind a small desk, her face pinched in concentration as she reads the newspaper spread before her, completely oblivious of my presence.
But then she looks up immediately and smiles. ‘Sit down.’
I sit across from her, and she fixes her large eyes on me for a moment, uncomfortable silence stretching between us.
“The beach man,” she says finally. “ You're here because of him.”
She closes the paper and pushes it towards me. Then I shift my eyes to the cover; there, I see the headline, printed in big black letters:
THE BEACH MAN STRIKES AGAIN!
Under the headline, the bodies of a man and a woman lie beside each other on the sand, both of them headless. I feel my throat tighten, suppressing the scream building inside me, and then I throw my eyes off the paper and gaze at the floor.
“Isn’t it strange?” Ms. Adenuyi says.
“How do you mean?” I force the words from my mouth.
“He kills only on Sundays, if anyone ventures to the beach. But…wasn’t yesterday Friday?”
I nod slowly, in realization – the beach man has gone against his pattern.
“So, what’s your name, young lady?”
“Ifeoma. Ifeoma Okoli. I was told you could help me. He’s appeared in my dreams twice, stabbed me in the last one and I can still feel the pain in my stomach. I’m really worried. I’m afraid. I hardly sleep anymore.”
“I’ll help you, Ifeoma. I deal with issues like yours every time and this one won’t be any problem.’ She opens a drawer and takes out a bracelet, a small string of cowries. ‘Wear this around your right wrist.”
I wear the bracelet, and after what seems like an eternity, she pulls it off my wrist, slowly, and wears it on hers. Then she stands up and with a stiff gait walks into another room, muttering something unclear.
She emerges from the room few minutes later, frowning.
“What’s the matter?” I say.
“He doesn’t want to kill you. He’s only trying to pass a message.”
“I have no idea what it is. But I know it’s something bad, something you wouldn’t want to hear about.”
Footnote: This is the fourth episode of The Beach Man, a 400-Word Blog Series.
Click HERE for the next episode.
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