The knock at the door stopped me in the midst of my evening routine.
Most nights in my home consist of the same rituals; bathing the children, feeding them… pretending that they are watching their last episode of ‘Peppa Pig” for the night, then realising it’s 9pm and that I will never be a model parent, I switch off their TV and lead myself into prayer, simultaneously leading them into sleep.
Nothing knocks my children out faster than Jesus.
This particular evening was a drizzling Monday. Riyaahd was at a church meeting, and I was alone in the front of the house, packing the lunches for Tuesday’s arrival.
I noticed that I had stopped breathing. I was listening for any movement. My years of watching Hollywood slasher movies must have influenced this behaviour, as I was half waiting for the ‘knocker’ to fully identify himself, perhaps even shout out his social security number.
I gathered myself, and walked to the kitchen window. The front light was bright in comparison to the winter’s evening. There was no one at my doorstep.
Compelled to get a better look by opening the door and standing behind the pretend-safety of my burglar gate, I decided to stay locked at my post. The knock was very specific. The pattern, the intensity.
The last time I had heard it, was in February 2017.
Riyaahd and I were sitting in the lounge, waiting for his friend Taahier to pop in. The children were at my mom’s, so I took the liberty of smoking an entjie in the lounge. It still felt naughty in my own house.
Taahier had called five minutes earlier to say that he was on his way, so when I heard the knock at the door, I didn’t hesitate. I jumped up and with a smile on my face; and without noticing, greeted the seemingly empty front step.
I remember the gush of wind that lifted my dress as I realised that no one was outside.
Riyaahd had gone to prepare their nerd-out space and shouted from the back room “Toya come through”.
But Toya wasn’t there.
No one was.
That night, I went to bed before my husband. Toya did eventually arrive, and they did their boring boy stuff while I watched YouTube videos in my room. I woke up at 3am, projectile vomiting.
This is the part I didn’t tell you.
That weekend was Riyaahd’s friends’ wife’s funeral. The friend had died only months prior.
That Saturday, I was supposed to drive up to Villiersdorp with a group of women, and Riyaahd was to attend the funeral without me. Riyaahd stayed home to take care of me as I lay on our bedroom floor, faeces coming up from my mouth.
The ordeal was terrifying.
Fast forward to 2 months ago.
Alone at home, I stood frozen at the kitchen window, waiting to see a person, or a shadow come into view.
I shook it off as my imagination and went to the room.
The children were now all asleep, and I sat in bed with my bible, telling myself that scripture wasn’t absolutely boring and that I would not be allowed sleep until I finished Nebuchadnezzar’s tale.
Riyaahd came in around 10pm and we turned in for the night.
Scarlett woke me again at around 1am.
We walked around the house, as I softly sang her lullabies and danced around like a fool to stop her from screaming and waking her siblings.
I checked the doors… locked.
I checked the kids… sleeping soundly.
And as Scarlett drifted off to sleep, I laid her in her cot and climbed into bed next to my husband, making sure to push my butt and cold feet firmly against him.
I grabbed my phone to scroll through Facebook and my mom shouted from the kitchen, “Shana, come”.
“Coming”, I shouted.
I rolled my eyes and sat up, put on my slippers and just before walking through the passage it dawned on me; my mother doesn’t live here.
This is around the time the strange sightings and noises started to plague my family. I spoke about the occurrences after this in my last blogs, and to be honest, I haven’t finished the series, because the series hasn’t ended in real life.
The dreams are vivid, the glimpses of my husband and mother are persistent. As my faith in the Lord grows, it seems, the unknown seems to attempt to reveal itself more and more.
When I heard my mother’s disembodied voice, and realised the ludicrous nature of the thought that my mother would be calling my name in the middle of the night in my home, my first instinct was to check on my children.
Armed with only my faith, I walked through the house, absolutely terrified, praying Jesus’s blood over every single thing I could think of.
I didn’t go back to sleep that night. I needed the sun to come out so that I could put my thoughts in order without fear.
There is something about nightfall that makes me barricade certain thought processes, so that I don’t delve too deeply and freak myself out.
I feel the need to say that I am not trying to be relateable.
I feel the need to say that I am not trying to scare you.
I am telling you the 100% truth of what I have been experiencing lately.
I don’t really know why.
Riyaahd sat in the lounge with Scarlett, as we started Oceans 8, and I watched from our open plan kitchen.
I ran to the bathroom for a minute to pee. “Don’t pause, I can still hear”.
I flushed, and washed my hands, looking up into the mirror, just in time to see a red sweater walk up my passage.
“Riyaahd, why didn’t you press pause?”
“I’m still watching”, he replied, from the lounge.
I hurried to the children’s room, trying to hide my absolute panic.
Jonah broke the ice.
“Mom, what’s going on with dad? He keeps walking up and down the passage? I called him but he isn’t talking to me”.
I decided against mentioning that for the last two hours, Riyaahd hadn’t left his seat.
There was something in my house pretending to be my husband.
There was something in my house pretending to be my mommy.
There was a shapeless trickster trying to lure me into something, and I didn’t know where it was, what it is… or why it wanted me.
The next weekend, after feeling the familiar tingling in my stomach, and suffering from external piles (TMI? Perhaps… but this is what you came for), I sent Sidney and Syria to my mom for the night, and Riyaahd, Scarlett and I took the trek to Canal Walk to stock up for the month.
I walked through the mall, and felt the sudden urge to vomit. I signaled Riyaahd and he directed me to the bathroom with haste. Scarlett strapped to my chest, I stood on my tiptoes and a mound of meat, old food that I had eaten the day before and a strange gel-like substance shot from my open mouth, as my stomach tightened, taking my chest with it.
I just stood there, in the family stall… completely aware that history was repeating itself.
We finished the shopping and went home. Riyaahd took Scarlett and I got into bed with a hot water bottles and a sideways phone.
I googled some things about spiritual attacks, and got bored and watched YouTube.
Scarlett woke up around 3am, but Riyaahd told me to rest and he took her inside. The next time I opened my eyes, it was light out. I looked at Riyaahd, I checked my phone… and my mom called me from inside.
‘Shana, come. It’s Sidney”.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, yawned and sat up to put on my slippers.
It didn’t take me long to realise again that my mother wasn’t in my house.
The tears rolled down my face.
Was I angry? Was I scared? Was I frustrated?
All I know for sure is that I was fucking awake.
Many incidents occurred over the last few weeks.
Sidney and I having the same dreams.
Then, as if a gift from God, nothing.
My house felt empty.
I blogged about what had happened and it seemed that we had again moved through just another traumatic phase; something that I am unfortunately very used to.
Until last week.
It started with a simple, vivid morning dream.
Again, in a maternity ward, I sat pregnant with twins. I cradled my belly, excited to tell Riyaahd that I was four months along.
I woke up, laughing. I even posted about it on Facebook, and didn’t give it much thought again until an afternoon nap I took two days later.
I work from home, so I am alone most of the day.
I cleaned my house, made the food and at around 2pm, I rejoiced in the opportunity to ‘rest my eyes’ before fetching the children.
My alarm set for 4pm, I snuggled on my husband’s side of the bed, inhaling his scent and smiling, like the closet psychopath I actually am.
I dreamt of a YouTuber that I enjoy watching.
I was in my bathroom, taking a bath, and I knew that she was sitting in my lounge. As my feet touched the tap, the wall caved in, revealing a secret room in the house. There, staring at me from an identical bath tub, her twin sister, with completely white eyes smiled at me.
When I woke up, I couldn’t move. There was no apparition. I wasn’t asleep. I had had sleep paralysis before, this wasn’t it.
I laid in silence for a while, although I had no concept of time. I know that my eyes were open.
I drifted off again, and Riyaahd woke me at 5.15pm. I must not have heard my alarm.
He went to fetch the children as I gathered myself.
When bedtime came, I was absolutely terrified to sleep.
My piles, plus the pain in my stomach was debilitating, and now even sleep was draining me.
I drifted naturally though, and dreamt that I was walking through the passages of my highschool.
It was dusk, and I noticed an open door to the sports field, one that doesn’t exist in the waking world.
I walked towards the exit, and my music teacher, Mr Kuit was standing there; next to him, his identical twin.
The twin, eyes white and empty seemed dominant.
“How did the meeting go?” I heard myself say.
“Not good”, it answered.
“We are going to have to kill everyone”.
The tap of a tiny hand on my shoulder woke me. I was relieved, and turned around to answer my daughter, who often wakes me at night to snuggle up.
“Yes Rosie”, I turned; but was left talking to nothing.
“Rose?” I half shouted, careful not to wake Scarlett.
I sat up, put on my slippers and walked to the children’s room.
She was fast asleep, and so was her brother.
I was fully awake now.
I decided to put the kettle on for some coffee, and ponder what had just happened, and what had been happening for the last few weeks…. Years…
I decided to take the time to finish my trilogy.
“This is the third missing child who has been found dead in the last week”, she whispered. The crowd parted, as the coroner led his team to the row of bushes that hid the body from the rest of the world. Her body, shoved in a plastic bag, had been discovered by a security guard making his rounds.
He noticed a group of dogs gnawing at what seemed to be a doll, however at closer inspection, the dogs were tearing away at the little girl’s lifeless body, eating her flesh.
What was most terrifying to me, however, happened 12 hours prior, in my bedroom.
I sat on my single bed, reading “The Secret diary of Adrian Mole”.
My parents were in their room down the passage, my dad already asleep. I have very few memories of him before he fell ill, but for some reason this image is vivid in my head.
“Shana, slaapenstyd!” my mom shouted from inside.
Even weekends, into my late teens and university days, my mother was strict about bedtime.
My mother was strict about everything.
I closed the book, and laid down, facing the passage.
I felt sleep pull at my lashes, and I was at the precipice when I saw her, a little girl, run past my door.
After a few seconds of eye-rubbing and confusion, I realised that I had stopped breathing…