Death House (Story to read Online)

— story to read online —

Location 1

INT- DAY – Inside the House, Hallway, a Parking Room

The camera comes on Nene and Zoba running down a large dark hallway illuminated a little by the flashes of thunder and small light from the outside coming from the room. Their running steps in the hallway echoes a lot. Their heavy breaths can be heard. The hysterical laughter of the old man is heard slightly from the background. 

Papa: You cannot run away from me. None of your ancestors did, and they are all dead lying at my backyard. (Laughs). I will get you. (A knife hitting a door is heard).

Zoba: (running and breathing heavily, stops and stares at an open room filled with properties). Nene! Stop! Let us get in here! (Enters room).

Nene: (breathes heavily, stops briefly, enters room and rests his arms on his knees). Oh, my God. Oh, my God! What is all these? We only came for …

Zoba: (locks the door and turns on the light of his mobile phone. Places it on the ground. It illuminates the room further). Please, stop speaking. (Walks deeper into the room to get properties to place on the door. Walks to the properties, gets them and places on the door, then goes back and continues in the process). You would attract him this way if you continue speaking. I told you I did not trust all these stuffs we have to do because her family wants to know your origin. There would have been other families who would not have bothered. You are well behaved and doing well.

Nene: (panting). You do not understand I love her so much that I cannot afford to lose her.

Zoba: You see where the love has led us. Mr lover. You have to help me with these properties scattered in this room to place on that door. If we do not, the man can easily use axe on that door and get to us. It is better we do it now. (Gets another property and takes to the door).

Nene: Right!

Papa: Hellooooo! (Laughs). Are you guys in there? Shitting in your pants? You have nowhere to hide and no where to run to. (Kicks the door and it shakes).

— story to read online —

Zoba: (cries out). We have to be faster, Nene! (Walks faster, grabs the properties faster).

Papa: (hits the door again and one of nuts holding the bolts comes lose. Laughs). 

Zoba: (panting. He points to a single sofa eaten by termites lying in the room). Let us get that chair fast, Nene. If we do not act and think fast, we are going to die here!

Papa: (Laughs). You think a chair can stop me. Foolish boys! As foolish as their fathers before them. The game is just beginning … (His fast-paced footsteps is heard).

Nene: (bends down so they could carry the sofa together). I think he is leaving.

Zoba: (bends down and they lift and carry the sofa). Not likely. That man wants us dead. He killed our father and grandfather, don’t you understand. We have to leave here before he comes from wherever he is heading to. His actions and wickedness would be greater than this.

They get to the door and place it after the other properties they have placed there.

— story to read online —

Nene: Any plan on how we would leave this room? He is obviously going to break through all of these with an axe.

Zoba: (whispering). The ceiling.

Nene: The what?

Zoba: (still whispering). Quit talking already. We have to get up that ceiling before he gets back. Those empty containers would help. I am taller, so you would hold them for me while I break through the ceiling.

The old man makes the first hack on the door. The young men watch. Some wood splinters to the floor.

Zoba: Now!

They run to the places where the containers are. The old man’s hack on the door gets faster, messier and louder. They arrange the container, one on top the other. Zoba is about to climb, but stops.

Zoba: Fast. Get my phone, I need the torchlight, I cannot see. Father Lord, please save us!

Papa: Father Lord is not going to save you from me! (Laughs. Hacks the door further).

Nene rushes to where the phone is and gets it. He takes it to where Zoba and the containers are.

Nene: Climb the containers let me hold the torchlight and hold the containers. (Bends down, hold the containers and places the phone on his back with the light on).

Zoba: Right. (Climbs the containers. He reaches for the ceiling and gives it a big blow. It makes a crack).

— story to read online —

Papa: (stops hacking the door that has been half scattered with the properties still covering it). You guys are proving tough, right? So much for the Ugwuonah family. Family of weaklings who could do no meaningful things with their lives except raping and killing. Your bastard family raped and killed our daughter, Udeze, and all of you must pay the price! Morons!

Nene and Zoba look at themselves briefly before Zoba continues with his frantic blow, his hand is bleeding. The hole on the ceiling is widening.

Papa: (cocks a gun). Hey, boys, sounds familiar? (Laughs).

Nene: Zoba, fast, he has a gun!

The old man fires the first shot. The young men duck and Zoba falls off the containers to the floor. The old man laughs. Cocks the gun and fires again, it hits the glass on the window and shatters it.

Nene: (moves to Zoba). Are you all right, Zoba? (Jerks him with his hands).

Zoba: Yes. We have to go, now!

Nene: Right. (Tries to pull him up).

 Another shot is fired. They duck and Zoba falls right back to the floor. Nene pulls him up the second time.

Zoba: (gets up and rushes and gathers the containers. He places the container together). Get up and go through. The hole is wide enough.

Nene: (looks up). What!

Zoba: Damn it. Get up, there. Haba!

Another shot is fired and it shatters the glass of the window further. Nene climbs up, holds the ceiling and lifts himself. Soon, he is up in the ceiling and stretches out his hands to Zoba as Zoba begins to climb. The old man peers through one of the holes he made with the axe and sights Zoba clinging to the ceiling. 

— story to read online —

Papa: Oh! These boys are smart. (Inserts his gun in the hole and pulls the trigger).

Zoba: (screams). Oh God! I am hit! I am dead!

Nene: (cries). Get up, here. You are not dead. You are alive.

Light Fades.

Location 2

EARLIER IN THE DAY … flashes on the screen.

EXT – DAY – On the Road, Outside the House

— story to read online —

A car is shown driving down an empty unpaved road. The road is slightly dusty, sending dust into the air. Two men are in the car as it speeds down the road. They watch the environment with strange and surprised eyes. The car comes to a small bungalow house alone in the midst of a thick bush, Zoba on the passenger side steps out.

Zoba:   The way of the car eluded you most times, one would think that there were so many things that you had to learn and unlearn. First, one would think you had to unlearn the idea of you not being good enough to learn the way of driving this car in this dusty place, and then submit yourself to the proper learning process. This, I know, would be difficult in the complex ways by which the road is. I feel that looking for this old man that was described to us is not what we would have rushed into, some of these things would not have been a problem at the initial time. Wherever he is, we would have managed with the control of the car. He could be anywhere. Then we would have learned it the best way that it would be easier to get to him later on .

Nene:     (steps out and closes the car door). What are you saying? What is the rubbish you are saying, ahn-ahn?

Zoba:      (laughs). The thing is that you would not find what I am saying amusing? You like to drive from place to place, and then, to the area where I don’t know. You did this to keep your mind occupied, and to get used to a part of the road and realize that we would be coming often from now. This large car has a way of mingling their parts together and exploding in your head. I do not blame the car on its own; I blame your incapability to put most things happening right now in the orderly place, even when some of these things are not as complex as the question of hell and heaven to become confusing. Maybe one of these days, you would prefer to be on your own and have your own mind, watching the earth rotate in one of the slowest movement you have ever seen. You will finally get the answers you are seeking, right?

Nene:      (snares). Please, stop all these gibberish you are yarning. I cannot seem to get my head around all these things you are saying. Haba! What are you even saying?

Zoba:      I am only saying you would finally get to marry the woman close to your heart as you would find your answers here.

Nene:     (takes in deep breath). We are not even sure that we would find the man here, are we? The man that gave us the direction was not even certain that we would find the man here.

Zoba:      You should not worry. We will definitely find him. (Moves his hands around in circular motion). It would be the answer to your earnest prayer.

They begin to walk towards the house. The house is old looking and dilapidated, and the young men are not surprised. Nene leads the way and gets to the door, he knocks on the door. He looks back at Zoba. Zoba nods. There is no response. He waits for seven seconds after that before he knocks again. Then, they hear sound of footsteps from inside the house. A man whose grey hair is full and tattered with dirty clothes comes to the door and opens it.

— story to read online —

Papa:    (smiles, showing some missing teeth). Welcome. What can I do for you?

Nene:   Good afternoon, sir. My name is Nene, and I am here with my brother, Zoba. (Points at Zoba). Someone directed us to your house.

Papa:  Someone did? It has been long anyone visited me around here. So what can I do for you?

Nene:   Can we come inside? It will also be good if we get inside?

Papa: (voice raised). I still don’t know why you are here? Who are you? Why are you looking for me?

Zoba: (comes forward). Sir …

Papa: (shouts). Stay back! Stay away! Speak from where you are, you don’t need to come close!

The full, tangled, bushy hair on Papa’s head is dirt-brown. The hair on his chest and neck also have the same colouration. He is in a very dirty shirt and dirty torn shorts. There are some flies flying close to his nostrils filled with brown tobacco, he does not chase these houseflies away.

Zoba:     We are here to see you on a serious matter. The man who sent us to you said you would give us news about the whereabouts of our parents.

Papa:    Who did he say your parents are that he deemed it fit for you to come and ask me?

Zoba looks briefly at Nene. Nene nods.

Zoba:     Mr and Mrs Ugwu …

Papa:    You cannot find such answers from me. Go away! (Steps back and slams the door behind him. He bolts it). Go away. Please, go away!

Nene:    (gets closer to the door and knocks gently). Papa, no matter what happened in the past. We have forgiven you. We don’t care. Right now, all I care about know is knowing who they are and how we can get to them. Please! My life is at stake here, please help us, Papa!

— story to read online —

There is utter silence after this. The young men stand outside for close to two minutes before the door open. The men peep in and do not see anyone. They look at each other before they walk in. The door slams behind them as they walk in.

Light Fades

Location 3

FLASHBACK: WHEN THE GAME BEGINS … flashes on the screen

INT – DAY – Inside the House

— story to read online —

Zoba: What game are you talking about, sir? I have asked this question before. The first time you made this declaration, it came from somewhere beneath that what I could not tell exactly. It surged forward, surged out, and was rushing out of your mouth like the mouth of a tap. You declared many things that I do not know with your old body that I cannot describe, and this would affect my brother getting to the love of his life with this constant declaration. This declaration comes from this place that I do not know; declaration clenched under your breath, talking about it like a man who had not put a knife on his throat and coerced him to talk about it …

Papa: (voice rising, his neck bulging). Shut up! This is the same way your grandfather vomited multitudes of bullshits before I killed him …

Nene: (stands in a very fast manner). What!

Zoba: (still sitting). You did?

Papa: (laughs hysterically). Why do you think I said we would play a game? You think a game was the kind where you all just ran around and played as kids. No. Game could be brutal. You seek answers, I have given you half, but you would have to discover the other half. (Points his right hand at Zoba, they notice that two of his fingers are missing and tied with a dirtied bandage). You are like your grandfather. (Focuses and points at Nene). You are like your father. You all in your family are worthless and useless! (Laughs hysterically again).

Zoba: (stands calmly, watching the old man with calm eyes and watching his brother too). Nene! To the door! (Makes a run for the door).

Nene: (shouts). I am not running, we came here to get answer, and we would have them!

Zoba: (gets to the door, jerks at the door knob and bolt, and tries to open the door, it is stuck). The door is barred! I cannot open it. (He begins to kick ferociously. It is a very sturdy wood).

— story to read online —

Papa: (looks at Nene and laughs again). Claiming the strong one, are you? (Takes a quick look at Zoba, kicking and kicking the door). That is a waste of time. It would take twelve men lifting and hitting that door with 700kg of wood to break it open. Your father tried it, but it did not work. You do not have to waste your time. (Laughs).

Nene: You must tell us what happened to our parents and our grandparents right now. We are not scared of you. You must tell us who they are! Right now!

Papa: Still claiming the strong man, yeah. I have seen that script before. Guess from who? From your father! (Laughs).

Zoba: (stops kicking the door. He begins to mutter some inaudible prayers).

Papa: Knowing your family fully and your history depends if you would survive and escape from this house. This has always been the death house of your family. It is such a pity that you boys did not have the sense to bear children before coming here. Now, this struggle ends with you! (Laughs).

— story to read online —

Zoba: (stops praying and resumes kicking at the door. Screams). Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus Christ save us from this!

Papa: Let the game begin! (Laughs and kicks the lamp off the table where it was placed, it crashes on the ground and explodes shrouding the house in darkness with rain still falling outside).

Light Fades

Location 4

FLASHBACK: BEFORE THE GAME BEGINS … flashes on the screen.

INT – DAY – Inside the House, Sitting Room

The interior side of the house of Papa is not wide or big. The man had left them in a room that looked like a sitting room. The paint on the walls are peeling, and have turned from white to brown and mouldy in some parts. The sofas in the room are torn, dirty and old. The floor of the living room also has dirty tiles broken at the edges. The young men stand looking at the house and themselves while the man is somewhere else.

— story to read online —

Nene: What do we do now that the man has gone off to God knows where. I told you that we should not trust that man who was giving all the directions and encouragement that we should go to where we did not know.

Zoba:     The old man will come back here soon. When you rode the car, may be lost in thought, or simply with your hands behind your back and eyes washing the metal walls of the car you did not think of what the old man would think and what would later occur, and then you began to talk. A little science. A little history. A little moral, you said. You continued to repeat the issue of the universe not really existing in the actual way the humans think it is, that you needed to do this for your lover. Not that you would admit that you were wrong in that aspect, but I do not just get it totally. The people who had the first form of link to the knowledge of how we could get to our parents were perplexed when you rejected their attempt to help. I even suggested and had the thought that he would be living this kind of life, where there were no strong formal government and people to limit the way one acts or moves. This might have been the reason why we always felt strange and different since we were children.

Nene:    (voice raised). I have told you to quit taking all those things you are taking that is making you talk like someone whose brain is not complete! I have told you that if you ever want to be speaking like this at times, you should speak slowly so that I would not listen to all the nonsense you have to say …

Papa: (comes into the room). Who is the one who is saying the nonsense?

Nene and Zoba jump. They had not been expecting to see the man or noticed him coming. They look a bit scared. The entire scenario look spooky.

Papa:   Do you know I was there at this time when this town you came into was all bush without any access road? There were these people from Europe, who came in contact with Africans and were commissioned by the government then to build an access road. There is a probability that you don’t know about this, and not the certainty with which the humans narrate such stories. Do you know?

Nene and Zoba shake their heads. They do not know.

— story to read online —

Papa:  I know what you people are looking for. I knew your grandparents. I knew your parents.

Nene:  You did? You have an idea of the our old man, you have knowledge of our lineage? Do you have a perfect idea of who our granddad was, and our great-granddad. Do you know them? Did you follow their process of life? Did they suffer like their age mates at that time or they lived far better? Did you watch them with the ground soaking filth under their feet, the wind blowing their link to being comfortable away. Did they have much strength when it comes to blowing these things out like we were told? A strategic blow. Then, the link between them, was it comfortable if there really was? Was it blown away.

Papa:   (takes in a deep breath). I would tell you all of these and more, but I would love us to play game. It is through this game that you would come to discover the truth. I do not know how truthful you are about not hurting anyone.

Nene:   I assure you, sir. We were only directed here, because we need to discover our roots, I am getting married. The parents of the lady I am supposed to marry said they won’t let me through if I have no identity.

Papa:    Doing this for love, yeah?

Nene:    (smiles). Yes.

— story to read online —

Zoba:    Papa, you were talking of a game? What is this game about?

Papa:    (laughs hysterically, his head falling backwards). You would get to know when the fun begins. What is a game without the fun? Eh? Now, let’s begin. (Thunderstorm  is heard and a heavy rain breaks out. Everywhere in the house is shrouded in darkness).

Light Fades

Location 5

INT – DAY – Inside the House, Sitting Room

The old man lights an old kerosene lamp in the room dispersing the darkness. The rain still falls and the thunder can be heard from the outside. The flashes of the thunder sometimes flashes light in the darkness that was the house. Before the old man sits, he begins to cough and makes a small jerking movement. 

— story to read online —

Papa:  First things first your father visited me, and he walked close to me and sat on the place you are sitting now. This was the exact way he acted like you did as if he wanted to discuss something strange with his me. That time when he wanted to ask me about his strange feelings at home, for instance. There was another time that he did this way and asked me about his parents. His mother’s image in his mind was not the same one he knew at home or the image he came in contact with all the time, and the idea that the woman he saw in his dream as his mother was Ndidi. His real mother’s name at home was not Ndidi, it was Mgbendu. At a very tender age, when his had told him about his mother’s name, he had thought of what kind of name was that. Strange as it was. Ndidi. He grew to like it, his tongue sticking out, Ndidi. He began to like the way the name came out from his mouth. Ndidi …

Nene: You mean our parents were adopted?

— story to read online —

Papa: Yes, they were. Like you. Like the parents before them.

Zoba: You mean it is a lineage something? Is there anyway you got to know my granddad? Our dad at home had not shown us any picture of our grandparents or that of our great-grandparents. I mean our dad at home and not our real dad that we are looking for. To me, his Dad on his own had not snapped pictures that much. He snapped very few pictures. Two when he was married, one when he had a son, and the other when he walked to work one day and a photographer talked him into snapping. All the few pictures he snapped have been lost, though. Do you have any picture of our real dad or mom or our grandparents?

Papa:  (shakes head). No, but I have more details about your dad.

Nene:  (sit on the edge of his seat, expectant and bright-eyed). Tell us. We want to hear.

Papa:  Any time he visited, he sat calmly and continued to focus his attention in the part in front him. He always thought and talked about how wonderful it was with the way the my eyes and face never waned from observing him. He had the ability of sitting at a place, and especially in the sitting room with his strange look, and he would be so focused on watching anything which seemed to be acting out in front of him. There was no moment of a slight removal or a withdrawal for him. I wondered how possible this was, and the perfect arcing of the old his body hunched in the way it was.

Nene:  He acted in all these ways. Was it that our grandfather acted or our great grandfather?

Papa: I did not know your grandfather well enough, or know your great-grandfather like that. However, your grandfather looked away, his eyes always widening in  perplexity. I had not thought it possible that a man did not know how to control his thoughts very well. He was not getting close to any one that much, and it was the era of British in the country or that of time of the evil and brute rule of the British and our early brothers in governance. Controlling one’s thought and be in the right mind was what any one could do, but your grandfather could not do that even at his young age. The little time I met him, I always asked him if he did not truly know how to do this simple stuff everyone did, and if he said yes, I would ask, you do not know? How is this possible?

Zoba: (blurts out). How is he supposed to know how to do that? I do not know either, and possibly he inherited the trait as well as I inherited mine. I think this is what connects us all; the trait that links the different generations of the family.

Nene: Zoba! (Turns his face to Zoba). Can you please close your mouth and let him talk for Christ sake. What’s this? (Turns face away from Zoba and looks at the old man). There have been many people, who have walked the face of the earth, and do you know that? How come it is the members of our family you know well enough? You seem to know too much about us, and this is the reason why we were directed here.

Papa: (takes a deep breath and stands. He walks around, slowly). I have been the one who is alive to take care of your family in somewhat of a special kind of way. Others are gone, and here I remain to take care of your family …

Zoba and Nene look at each other, surprise in their eyes and mouths wide opened.

Nene: Papa, we do not understand when you say you have the only one assigned to take care of our family. We do not get that at all. What could be wrong with our family that you had to be assigned to take care of us?

Papa: You know there is this game I have told you we would play, you remember.

— story to read online —

Zoba and Nene nods.

Papa: This is the game we have continuously played with the members of your family. I am the last generation of my own family. The only one left to fulfil this right. You two are the only ones also left in your family. The deal ends today.

Zoba: We do not understand, Papa. We only came here, because I have found a woman I want to marry and the family said I must come and tell them where I am from and what is my roots. We are not here to play any game. The pastor who could see beyond the ordinary said we would get the answer from you. We would really need help, because this is the only way I can actually get married to the love of my life. Please!

Papa: (turns fully to Nene and stares at him in the face). You need help, right? This is the reason why you came to me?

Nene: (nods). Yes.

— story to read online —

Papa: Well. (Shouts). I do not care about the love of your life or the marriage that is being held by the question about your origin. You have been directed to this place, and like the rest of your family, you would have to play this game.

Zoba and Nene stare at each other, fear getting into their eyes.

Light Fades.

Location 6

NOW … flashes on the screen.

EXT- DAY – Outside the House, the Bush Behind

The camera captures where Zoba and Nene are jumping out of the outer ceiling of a house. They jump down and take off into the surrounding bushes. Zoba limps, blood on his leg, as he runs. They run and duck so as not to be be seen. The rain had stopped but the day was still cloudy. The young men come to a tree and climb, wounded Zoba assisted by Nene. A minute later, the old man comes running to the location.

— story to read online —

Papa: (smiles and makes a short dry laugh). Nice try, boys. No one has stressed and damaged my property like you have done. But there is no way of escaping. Your car has been set on fire. No quick route to leave here. It is either you die or I die We all know who would die. Let us get it done with. (Cocks the gun and shoots. He begins to move into the bush). You shouldn’t have gone far, one of you is wounded.

The old man walks through the bush, stopping often to check around. He continues walking.

Papa: Since you guys have stressed me so much. I want to tell you what you are looking for before you die. (Laughs crazily). Your great-grandfather killed our daughter in 1938. Our family reported the matter to the British administrators, and unlike our indigenous justice system, they were bribed and the matter swept under the carpet. Funny, right? Your great-grandfather worked around freely and was praised by the people because he had the new money. My father took the first shot and killed your stupid great-grandfather and here we are. From then, all your lineage has always been adopted because they don’t live long to care for their children. When the children grow, we kill them, too. Like I will do to you now. (Stops close to the tree where they are hiding). I guess you are here. (He cocks the gun and fires three shots into the tree. Stops and looks). Maybe you are not. (He makes to turn and go away when Nene flies down from the tree and lands on him from behind).

— story to read online —

Nene falls on top of him and gives him blows on the head, turns him around and blows him on the face too. The old man makes to grab the gun and shoot. Nene struggles to collect the gun. They struggle. Nene wins, collect the gun and hits him with the butt of the gun. The old man lies still.

Zoba: (shouts from up the tree). Is he dead already? Let us leave here, I am in pains.

Nene: (checks pulse). I think he is still alive. We have to leave right now before he gets up. (He stands with the gun and rushes to the tree).

Zoba: Won’t you shoot him?

— story to read online —

Nene: No! He should wake and ask God for forgiveness.

Zoba: What if he decides to come after us.

Nene: He won’t find us.

Light Fades.

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