The masks, the music, the dances, the fiendish laughter, the drinks, the stranger, the screams, the blood and the smell of death. The more she tried to forget, the more her mind took her through the hair-raising journey. For a moment, her reflection in the mirror took the form of her best friend; Medina. She stared in disbelief, stretching her hand to touch the face in the mirror. Tears streamed down her weary face as the scene replayed in her mind.
The students had walked into the entertainment hall dressed and masked in the sorts of paraphernalia. They were clothed like creatures of the night; skeletons, angels, bats, witches, demons, werewolves: It was an an array of fiendish supernatural beings. They started off with a horror movie about a serial killer; just to thrill their wild hearts. The weather was depressing and the air eerie. The rain came down in torrents, forcing everyone to squeeze into the hall to avoid soaking. They danced and got intoxicated on all types of drinks to keep the cold at bay. Medina went for a wine punch while Daria settled for soft drinks. Medina would need managing once she got drunk and Daria was too familiar with her friend’s ‘madness.’ She needed to keep an eye on her lest she disappeared on a broomstick.
“Hello” a deep voice startled Medina and Dariah from behind. The two had not left each other’s sight from the beginning of the party. Medina dressed like a bat-like creature while Dariah, a werewolf. They had just returned from the dance floor to sit at the bar when the stranger saluted them. It was an all-encompassing greeting. “Hi” they responded in unison, turning around to see who their company was.
He was medium built with eye catching features. The ghoulish mask on his face gave him a scary appearance, almost intimidating to look at. Medina smiled, extending her arm for a handshake. Dariah pinched her from under the table. Medina flinched, rotating a little to escape her friend’s stare. She could see the faint tension in Dariah’s features.
“I am the hangman.” He mockingly introduced himself with a sarcastic bow, taking Medina’s extended arm and kissing it while winking at Dariah. He was dressed like Zoro, except that his ghoulish mask overshadowed the movie character.He held a rope that was knotted severally to look like a hangman’s noose.
“What’s that?” Dariah asked him.
“You just put your own neck in the noose.” He retorted with acidity in his voice, pulling a seat close to Medina and ordering for a tot. The smile on his face did not match his voice. Dariah tensed; she felt a chill run down her spine.
“Cool” Medina replied, taking the rope from the stranger’s hand and stroking it mockingly, “I’d love to be your victim tonight. I want to experience the things of the Halloween night” She teased softly, leaning closer to him and handing back the rope. She was already intoxicated from the wine punch she had been sipping while dancing. He pulled back from the stench of her breath and laughed, he gulped the tot and ordered for another. “I see the gorgeous bat-woman wants to fly away tonight,” he gabbled swallowing the second tot in a mouthful. Outside, the rain slackened to a drizzle. Those who didn’t mind hopped out with their drinks and went to dance under the flood light.
“Shall we?” He asked, grabbing Medina’s hand as she stood from her stool. “Don’t, Medina!” Dariah stood up, grabbing her friend’s other hand and pulling her from him almost violently. The stranger’s glance flashed at Dariah with pure venom. She let go of the Medina’s arm immediately. Tension mounted around them.
“Let’s go hangman, oh, come with us Dariah,” Medina said, a subdued flash of defiance in her eyes. She pulled onto Dariah’s ears, a move that made Daria laugh amidst the tension she felt. Her heart raced in her chest. This did not sound fine to her. It was Halloween night and this was a total stranger, whose real name they had not even bothered to ask. She snatched the rope from the stranger’s hands and threw it behind her into the crowd.
They ran towards the hostels, Medina flapped her wings and giggled foolishly. She was still tipsy from the punch she had been drinking. Dariah was as sober as a nun. The men’s hostels were at the far end of the campus. To Daria’s surprise, the stranger took them to the back door, which she had never seen anyone open or use. He opened the door, pushed them inside and locked it behind him. It was pitch dark and Daria groped for her friend’s hand. He switched the lights on.
Daria shrieked back at the sight of the room. It was a gory mess and smelled of decaying cadavers. Pieces of broken furniture and old bloodstained clothing lay all over the floor. Her eyes looked up. A hangman’s noose dangled in the middle of the room. Dariah’s bladder filled up.When Medina followed Dariah’s eyes and saw the noose waiting for her, she stumbled, sobered up and cast a panicked look over her shoulder. Fear ran through her like an electric current. Daria bit her lips and stepped back. There was no impression on the stranger. His face was well masked. He pulled a chair and stood it directly under the rope. Daria wanted someone to pinch and wake her up. An icy band of steel closed around her throat. They couldn't escape; the door was locked.
“May your wish come true bat woman.” He scowled at Medina, striding to grab her from the spot where she was transfixed like an electric post. The reality of it all shook her out of her disbelieving trance and she started moving towards the door. She dissolved into a blubbering mass of fear, begging for mercy. Daria opened her mouth to scream. His voice came, low and heavy with disgust “If you dare scream, I swear I’ll…” he ground his teeth shut. The contempt in his words stiffened her. He swooped Medina from where she stood with one hand, put her on the chair, and pulled down the rope to fit the noose around her neck. Medina was too weak to resist. “Am your worst fear!” he scowled, glaring into Medina’s eyes. Daria closed her eyes and clamped her mouth to smoother her scream. She numbed her body, but could not control the warm urine trickling down her costume.
She heard the whining trump of the rope, strained by the sudden weight pulling it taut. Medina started to gasp.