When Rashid got back up on his feet he found himself dusty. He brushed the soil off in the night. Above his head the street pole kept strobing. Behind him the bar was mid open. The music was a muffle noise he couldn’t help but grimace on. He’d only return inside there if he wanted some more belly punches. No doubt they had chucked him out; hence all the dust on him. But why hadn’t he been aware of it? What just happened? Rashid looked around.

He searched himself to see if his things were still with him. The wallet (empty now), the phone and keys were still there.

Rashid clucked and left. Why was Joshua Smith at the bar?

The man he posted mean stuff against on Twitter for reasons he can no longer remember without being reminded by Nikiwe. He felt lightness in the head as he ventured on his way home. The other thing he felt more was the pain in the left hand. The bandage looked to wear off, it wasn’t as tight as when Nikiwe fastened it. All thanks to that encounter with the barmen and Joshua. Was it really Joshua? Overweight, short black curly hair…Rashid tried to remember. Only when he was a mile further from the pub did he come to realise that Joshua Smith isn’t overweight; doesn’t have any short black curly hair(bald headed, in fact) and most certainly doesn’t wear shiny blue suits. Weren’t Rashid’s libel tweets mocking the guy’s fashion sense?

That man he spat on–at least now he remembers– could have been the one and only Owethu. Rashid paused and said “Jesus!”

He just stood there in the empty sidewalk, working his brain to some logical explanation as to why he would ever spit on that man’s face. That man out of all people. There was a sudden gratitude in him that the only thing he got off with were punches to the stomach and being thrown out of the pub. Was it the alcohol that made him spit in the face of such a man? No, it wasn’t…although he strongly wanted it to be. Because if it wasn’t–being the fact he wasn’t drunk– then it was definitely that thing again. The psychiatrists had a name for it, Rashid couldn’t remember it. It’s been so long since he got his last check up session. It’s that thing. And it nearly got him in deep shit with Owethu, the man who has the entire city in his palm.   

Rashid walked with hands deep in his pockets to keep them warm. The cold has gotten more fiercer. The night was so soundless he could hear his footsteps. The voices in his head commenced. He walked faster, then Rashid stopped walking. There was something. He turned to see behind. Nothing. He walked, stopped again fifteen steps later and checked behind. “Who is it?” He asked, ahead behind him where his loud question trailed off to the street poles were off.

“I said who is it?” He asked the darkness again. There was something in there. He clucked again and walked. Footsteps. More footsteps. Behind. Rashid swifted his neck for a back stare: a gush of wind blew his face he cried and ran. He was screaming wild. Someone was chasing him. Or something. Footsteps.

When he arrived at the street of where his house was, that thing was gone. What thing? Rashid couldn’t tell what it was but he saw it. And that wind blow to his face, he was not making it all up.

The night became bearable to walk in. In this side it wasn’t as quiet as it was from where he came from. There were some distant noises from afar. He made a mental note (despite the fact he’d forget it later) never to show his face at that pub again, lay low for a while, a month or two.

He heard the footsteps again. Rashid wiped the tears and showed a wet grin. When he walked he’d hear the footsteps, when he didn’t he wouldn’t. It was confusing. He scratched his head, made a little joke and laughed.

But the silence of the night made him feel like someone somewhere is watching him. “Show yourself!” He screamed. It could be Owethu. Rashid felt like a fool to think that, for a second, a man like Olwethu would allow him to get away with spitting at him in front of all his customers. Perhaps the footsteps  he heard behind him all this way were not his after all. Owethu must’ve sent someone to follow him. Of course. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Tell us: can you tell the difference between paranoia and hallucination?