The next day was Saturday and Lulama slept like a baby in the morning before her husband ruined her peaceful sleep when he rushed into the room.
“Woman, please get your lazy ass up because there’s no firewood to make porridge,” he boomed.
Lulama and her husband lived in a government house in a small village with no electrical power, just outside the town where Lulama worked. Some of their neighbours used gas and paraffin while others used firewood to cook in their three-legged pots.
“And those dirty pots won’t wash themselves,” her husband continued harshly. His burly body loomed over her. Then he turned and left the room.
Lulama dragged her exhausted body up from bed. She was annoyed that she would have to go to the forest again if she wanted to avoid sleeping with a growling stomach or dealing with the wrath of her husband. She swore his anger was the reason he’d been dismissed at his workplace.
It was only a matter of time before Lulama hoped she could live a better life when her novel was published. She had been patient and was counting the last days of the poverty she had lived in for years. Lulama even wished she had a child. The truth was she was planning to divorce her arrogant husband and she was afraid to be alone with her success.
The leaves in the forest were different shades of green and turned a lime colour in the bright sun. The forest was dead quiet as Lulama was the only one chopping firewood. The warmth of the leaves gave her peace of mind to think about the new life she was about to have. A happy smile never escaped from her face as she thought deeply about this.
In a matter of minutes the weather suddenly changed. Dark clouds appeared and a savage wind followed and blew the fresh leaves from the ancient trees. While the leaves danced in the sky, Lulama heard the familiar demonic giggle from the night before; this time it echoed around the trees.
At that moment, Lulama realised something was haunting her and she became pissed off. “Why don’t you show yourself?” Lulama roared.
As she waited for the being to reveal itself, the storm gathered and heavy rain fell from the sky. In a flash, Lulama knelt down and tied up the firewood she had managed to chop. When she got up she was terrified of what stood opposite her, in the middle of the trees. It was a small humanoid gremlin with long, razor-sharp fingers. It’s eyes were gouged out and the skull had a big hole formed by a red-hot metal rod. Its skin was horribly burnt with worms drooling out of its wounds.
Lulama dropped the firewood from her arms in shock. She knew what this terrifying creature was – she’d been writing about it for months and now her imagination had come to life: a creature created from a corpse by a witch doctor. It was a mischievous and evil spirit that could become invisible by drinking water or swallowing a stone.
“The Tokoloshe,” Lulama whispered as she realised that this creature, which was also known to attack you while you slept and steal your soul, was the same monstrous villain from her horror novel.
The Tokoloshe opened its mouth, very wide, and black insects came out to attack Lulama. She ran, trying to fight the insects off with her hands. She was frightened that this might be the end of the journey of her life. She tripped over roots but was quick to get up on her feet. The heavy rain continued to pound from the sky and her feet were crunching on dirt. Lulama tripped again over a rock and the insects suddenly disappeared. When she got back up, the Tokoloshe howled in the distance and began to run on all fours towards her. It was as fast as a cheetah.
The Tokoloshe flipped its arms, commanding thin pieces of firewood to fly at Lulama. The firewood grazed her arms, but it didn’t bring her down. She dared not stop; she fled for her life, dodging the wood as she covered her head. She never looked back.
When she finally got out of the forest, the Tokoloshe was nowhere to be seen. She couldn’t believe she had luckily escaped the day nightmare in the forest.
“Lulama,” said her husband when she stormed through the door. He was shocked to see her dress full of dirt and her arms dripping blood. “What the hell happened to you?”
“I saw it,” Lulama replied, her voice full of horror, her eyes wide as if she was still seeing the nightmare from the forest. “The Tokoloshe from my novel. It’s alive and it’s haunting me.”
“What?” Her husband laid down the newspaper and rose up from the sofa. “Can you hear what you are saying? How can something you wrote be alive? And besides, there’s no witch doctors around here to summon that thing. Is this some kind of joke?”
“It was chasing me in the damn forest! How else would you explain the sudden change of the weather?!” Lulama shouted, frustrated.
“The weather is perfectly fine, Lulama! Maybe you should stop writing those damn scary things because it seems you are starting to lose your mind, for God’s sake!” He was annoyed.
Only then did Lulama look out the window and notice that the weather had gone back to normal; there was no stormy rain or wind as there had been a few moments before. Was she stuck in some terrible dream? But then again, she refused to believe what happened was unreal.
“Honey, I’m dead serious. I know what I saw,” said Lulama, her voice sounding desperate for her husband to believe her. But knowing how arrogant he was, there was not even the slightest chance he was going to believe any of that. Perhaps, not even a single person would believe what she had seen.
“I don’t have time for this. I’m going to go and borrow a gas stove from one of the neighbours. I’m starving and I can’t eat these nonsense stories of yours!”
With that, her husband stormed out of the door.