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The Faceless, The Watch Guard, and Sugar

The Faceless

The night grows younger, warmer, and fonder. Rock hands held hers with a firm grip. The fourteen-year-old young girl wore navy-blue fur boots, jean and a carrot blouse. The rock hands belonged to her Papa whom she accompanied to a convention at twilight. They floated through the crowd side by side with their footwears gliding the dusty road. It was an early morning with a pitch-black sky which the young girl called lonely because its friends, the stars were not with it.

Mashed in the small space between her parents, the girl skipped and giggled into the rowdy air with her heart full. She played with a sense of security in the palm of her Papa because she knew he would never let go. But the road grew smaller as the number of bodies that treaded the same path increased. Before she knew it, a stranger bumped into her causing the knot her palm had formed with her Papa’s to untangle itself. Her body the weight of a feather floated away from her parents.

Afraid of being starless, she shoved her palm into the hands of other bodies in search of the rock that belonged to her Papa but she found none. In the corner of a shop with only one lit street lamp, she crouched her body with snot and tears falling from her eyes but her voice was drowned by the loud music blaring from speakers and the roadside traders.

Out of nowhere that she knew of, a shadowy figure in a cloak made of tar and pointy edges stood in front of her. Across its very face was along slash mark that looked like a grave of earthworms as they crawled in the dark hole. It had no eyes and no nose with its fingerless hands. She stared at the figure for a long while, frightened yet wanting to be with her parents again. The figure beckoned her to follow him by creating an illusion of the road that led to her home.

One rat step after the other, with a big smile and dry tear lines on her face, the young girl walked behind the figure hoping to find her parents. That hope was shattered however, when she ended up in a spooky forest with cotton white sand, a miniature ginger bread house, twisted and gnarled trees with their branches reaching up to the sky like bony fingers. The branches are like coiled wires—thick and tangled such that they blocked out what little light remained. The air was thick with a musty, ginger smell. The fallen leaves rustled in the wind and she could hear the sound of twigs snapping only under her feet. Every rustle, every creak, seemed to be a warning of something sinister lurking in the shadows. The shadows seemed to close in around her, as if the trees themselves were alive and reaching out for her.

She looked up to find the moon that resembled the face of a sad Rabbit. The shadow figure turned around and for the first time since they began their journey, she paid attention to who or what she had followed. She noticed this time around that the figure had no face. Had she imagined the face without eyes and nose before, she thought to herself. This made her shudder as she walked, her heart pounding in her chest. She continued walking, for there was no turning back.

For a moment, she closed her eyes trying to evoke the images and real-life presence of her parents. Something she did every night before she fell asleep or whenever she was alone. When she opened her eyes, the shadowy figure was gone. What stood in front of her instead was a white rabbit. It was a strange sight. The rabbit was pure white, its fur shining in the dark. But it was the rabbit’s eyes that horrified her. The rabbit’s eyes were a deep, fiery red, and they glowed with an intensity. She felt a chill run down her spine as she looked into those eyes, for they seemed to be watching her, to be following her every move. She took a step back, trying to put some distance between herself and the rabbit. But the rabbit followed her through the broken trees and murky cotton sand, hopping along behind her, until she found a small tunnel to hide in like a lost puppy. Every now and then, she kept guard by looking over her shoulders or staring into the thick forest in front of her view and she shielded her presence from the rabbit. Still, she felt a wave of fear wash over her, and she let out a scream of terror as she wondered what other strange and terrifying creatures lurked in the spooky dark forest.

In the small tunnel, she thought about how much she missed her Papa’s rock hands and her parents’ body. With her entire focus on hiding from the rabbit, her eyes began to grow heavy and ears quiet to the sounds around her that she failed to notice someone behind her in the tunnel. Before she could do anything, a hand dragged her out of the tunnel leaving one of her red velvet boots on the ground and a ring of air.

The Watch Guard

The night in Lagos city before the convention was hot, way too hot for anyone to sleep comfortably. There was no electrical power in their apartment back then so they used lanterns everywhere in the house. In a corner of their young daughter’s dark lit bedroom, there was the slight upward movement of flame that nestled within the glass chamber of the lantern.

The girl should have noticed the strange woman as soon as she woke up but she did not. She just stared into the black nothingness saturated by a touch of light provided by the dull flame wondering what in the world had prompted her to wake up in the first place. Suddenly, she heard a creak from the foot of her bed. She turned her body to change her sleeping position and that was when her eyes caught a glance of the body also sleeping on the edge of her bed. The strange woman laid still, dressed in a black veil and a long flowing habit that reached all the way to the floor like unholy Mary. The strange woman now a strange reverend sister’s face was hidden by shadows. Her body was arched in such a way that its head was both on the bed and not. The sudden appearance of an unknown being on the edge of the girl’s bed made the hairs on her skin, stand.

The girl sat up in bed. She wanted to scream, but no sound would come out. She was frozen, staring at the strange sister who slept motionless on her bed. The sister’s eyes fluttered open suddenly, revealing two piercing blue eyes that seemed to glow in the dark. The young girl felt as though she was being pulled into those eyes, as if they were a window into another world.

At first, the girl inclined her hands to wake the sister up. The words: “Do not disturb the grave” spoken by her grandmother before her passing stopped her. She put her head back on the pillow, but she knew she would not be able to sleep. She wondered if what she had just seen was real, a trick of the mind, or just a dream that she was still living in.


Three is the number of times the young girl died. Three summers ago, early in the morning, she strolled in the estate with her older brother as they went to board a cab to school. The cool breeze brushed across the palm trees that housed bats next to their neighbor’s mansion. In her palm was a cube of sugary chocolate which she tossed into her mouth as she trailed behind him. His long legs were quick for her to catch up to. Three of her steps equaled to his one step. They got to the main road and she was distracted by an insect that fluttered in front of her eyes that quiet foggy morning. She did not know when her brother crossed to the other side.

By the time she looked up, all she saw was his broad back hidden beneath his white uniform shirt. With so much sugar swirling in her tummy, she raced to join him on the side and that was her body collided with a speeding car. It happened so fast that her body was tossed in the air, flipped and smashed onto her school bag. All she heard were the silence and the thumping of her heart that quivered until her eyes closed to the darkness of the great beyond.

Two summers ago, prior to the ghastly car accident, the girl decided to abide by her faith in God. To empty her pockets, overcome her water phobia—by dying in her former body and living as a new creature. She joined a pack of sheep from her parents’ church who were gathered at the shore of a lake, where one man dipped each body into a stale pool of water for thirty seconds before bringing them out. As he did that, he shouted to everyone present, “Come taste the sweetness of becoming one with the holy trinity.”

It got to her turn and her feet were numb as though planting themselves in the muddy soil. As soon as the man dipped her into the water, thirty seconds became eternity as the polluted liquid filled her lungs and quietened her heartbeat. The death was not meant to be a physical death but a spiritual one, she thought to herself as she drowned in the arm of salvation. Her arms flailed desperately as she tried to help herself to the surface. But the water was too strong, pulling her into its dark depths. Her chest felt tight, as if a weight was crushing her, making it impossible for her to catch her breath. Her muscles ached from the effort of trying to swim despite the man still holding her body below the water surface. She tried to scream, but the water filled her mouth, choking her. Her vision started to blur. The last thing she felt was the water closing in around her, as if it was a living, breathing thing, smoldering her, taking her life. Her former life slipped away as she floated in the stale water into oblivion.

“Let’s go on this monster roller coaster ride. It will be fun,” her brothers said as they liked to have fun. She did not like having as much fun as they did.

They always managed to convince her to indulge herself in their wild adventures. One of the reasons she agreed to go on the roller coaster ride was because after that day at Cedar Point amusement park in Cleveland, her brothers were returning to school. It was going to be their last hangout and their last adventure together before they saw each other again. After purchasing their tickets, they joined the long queue under the scorching sun; they were one of the last people on the line.

There was a sudden change in the weather as the bright blue clouds began to grow patches of gray. Paper cups, gum wraps and other abandoned objects on the granite ground rustled, tossed or moved like a wiper searching for a network connection. Her brothers’ voices faded away and all she could hear was the laughter of children, the shrieks of adults on another kind of roller coaster ride, the creepy song coming from a haunted house, and a soft whistle in the wind. Everything around her seemed to move on a different speed from reality and she could hear the pumping of blood flowing in her veins.

A teenager licking an ice cream cone kept saying, “Shit, shit” after the wafer cones fell from her hands.

She wondered if her brothers were having the same sugar rush and frightening pre-experience as she used her hands to cover her eyes and ears. When she opened her eyes, she found herself on the roller coaster with her brothers on the left and right sides yelling, “Scream! Scream! This is so much fun. If you scream, you’ll feel so much better. Open your eyes and enjoy the ride.”

“I am about to throw up,” was all she said as bile rose to her throat. She could not even remember how they got from the last on the line to the front sit on the roller coaster ride. The twisting, the falling, the bouncing of the roller coaster made her feel more dead than alive.

About the Author

Bibiana Ossai is a Nigerian fiction writer based in Texas, Lubbock, and an award-winning poet. She is currently a Ph.D. Fiction student at Texas Tech University where she teaches First-Year writing. She is an associate editor of the Iron Horse literary magazine. Bibiana has an MFA from Long Island University, Brooklyn where she received the Marilyn Boutwell Graduate Award in Fiction. She is the winner of the 2019 Equinox Journal Poetry Contest. Her works have been supported by scholarships and the Hatty Fitts Walker Scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown and The Poetry Project, and an Idyllwild Arts Writers Week fellowship. Her writings appear or are forthcoming in African Writer Magazine, The Poetry Project Footnotes, Flash Fiction Magazine, and The Dillydoun Review, among others.