A Cold Night
He woke up with a start feeling sweat on his skin. The night was cold, dark and breezy; the kind of night he loved, the leftover of hours of rainfall.
The room was silent and dark, save for the rythmic hums of breathing and soft snoring from the sleeping boys; and the intermittent squeak of the celing fan. He reached for his phone and switched on the light. His natural alarm clock had been accurate this time, as this was the exact time he was supposed to get up and study or mope around till he drifted back to sleep.
This had been his way of life since he moved into this room. Class, study, class, cafeteria, class, room, sleep. His life had overtime been reduced to a beautiful mechanical sequence; a sequence he loathed and feared; a sequence that mocked him. Life in this room had become a multitude of feelings; of mostly fear and boredom and anger and as he woke, the familiar feelings came rushing back, dancing in his face, choking him.
He looked around the room and slowly sat up, still half-awake. The room was still. Some beds were strewn together on the floor directly under the squeaking fan, while others lay on iron bunks. Across the beds lay boys with their laptops, iPads, smartphones, clothes and shoes, all meshed together and competing for space. His tired eyes scanned the room in a vague attempt to figure out what to do next and as he looked, his feelings of emptiness and dread intensified and he felt himself drifting back to sleep. Then he saw the fair boy strewn across a mattress to his left and he froze. It was him.
He recognised the boy and sat up, semi-awake, paralysed with fear and guilt. He sat still for a moment and his eyes darted quickly across the room. Save for the silent hum of the breathing boys and the squeaky music coming from the fan, the room was still. He looked at him again. The boy lay on his back on the bunk to his left and was fast asleep, breathing softly. His head was tilted slightly to the top and his lips were slightly parted and wet from traces of saliva. As he looked, he noticed again his fair slender body, the spotless innocence of his face, the sweat beads trickling down his eyebrows, and the feelings he had felt came rushing back in terror.
No, not again. What is this? He thought. His chest heaved, his ribcage boomed and beads of sweat escaped from his face. His sense of time slowly faded into the dark as he felt and counted the beating of the heart in his chest and the drops of sweat dancing on his body. His senses numbed as he realised he was still staring at this object of horror. He hated himself.
His breathing came in long gasps now as his gaze shifted, and observed his bible sitting among the rubble in the room. He felt an urgent need to leap at it and grasp it and enter it and swallow it. But then he turned and his eyes settled on the fair boy again, lying flatly on his bunk bed.
He first met Chibuzo when he moved into the room two days ago and had introduced himself to the “Squad of C201 Boys”, a social ritual that must be undertaken by all hostel freshers. Chibuzo had introduced himself as, and had been subsequently known to be the fair rich boy from the north with lots of provisions and gadgets, but then after shaking hands with him that afternoon, after feeling him, a feeling loomed; a feeling he could not shake off from his subconscious. For most of his adult life he had been aware of his changing moods and bizzare thoughts; and had fought overtime to suppress them, with the help of his religion and self-help books. But then once again someone had access to them; had pricked and prunned them; delicately caressed them to a point of unbearable quality, and now it had matured into a raging war between his emotions and his conscience.
He was sitting fully up now, sweating and staring at this boy, and wondering if he deserved to be alive. He looked around in panic; his pulse-rate skyshooting. He could feel his blood boil and his body collapse into an irresistible slump of defeat. He had a first impulse to hurl something at the boy; something to destroy the images that had taken over his mind; something to obliterate from his consciousness his troubling dilemma, and end this torture forever.
But once again his eyes met the eyes of the sleeping boy and he knew he couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t do it. No, not now. He thought. This was too much. He looked around the room and studied the other sleeping faces. Swiftly, he stood up, walked over some sleeping bodies and stooped beside the bed of the fair boy. Panic seized him. His emotions were a turbulent mix of fear, passion, guilt and lust. For a split second his natural clock stopped and time suspended. He stretched across the bed and met his lips.
The clock went on tick tick tick. The fan went on squeak squeak squeak. In the seconds that followed his mind was blank and filled with nothing but emptiness. For a split second he had an awful feeling that the fair boy knew what he wanted, and had wanted it too for he felt the boy return the kiss. The seconds stretched wide and seemed like forever. He seemed like a wide eagle that had been chained to a rock for thousands of years, finally set free and soaring across a cloudless sky; watching with awe, the blind curious creatures on the ground. He felt strong and whole and morbidly fascinated.
A sharp pain to his jaw jolted him back to reality. He felt his body rise and in two swift movements he felt himself crash to the floor with a thud. His head ached and he could not feel his jaw for a moment. He stood up shakily in fear, squinting across the black room at the looming mass coming towards him. A sleeping boy stirred in his sleep and for a moment he thought he saw a shadow coming towards his face. Slam. He was on the floor again. The looming mass walked past him and made for the door.
“Bastard”. It said as it walked passed him, wiping what seemed to be its lips. For a moment he had a ridiculous urge to laugh, but was held back by the darkness and cold. “What the fuck, man. If you ever try that with me again I’ll kill you. And I mean it.” It said and walked out of the room.
He stood and looked around the room, confused. He lifted his phone and checked the time. It was nearly 4 am. Soon the sleeping boys would wake and inquire about the rustle they heard in the night. Slowly, very slowly, the full impact of what he had done seeped into his consciousness; draining him of energy and filling him with fear.
He packed a few belongings into a brown bag, put on a pair of jeans and a camo and left the room in a haste, still subconsciously denying the happenings of the chilly dark night. He had committed a taboo and he was in trouble. He had to get out of sight.
He walked down the hall, bounded down the stairs and walked out the gate of the hostel into the cold. Shortly after, he broke into a run. He could feel the wind on his face, and the rain in the distance.