“The sooner we find out whoever tried to kill
her, the better.”
Our driver pulled up in the parking lot, where
barely a dozen cars had taken their parking
spots. Once Cynthia and I stepped out of
the car, he swung back in reverse and
zoomed out of sight. While Cynthia headed
for class, I lingered in the lot, distracting
myself with a glossy-black power bike I had
never seen before. I wanted her ahead of
me, breathing in fresh air that didn’t have
my breath contaminating it. She mounted
the stairs, out of my line of sight. I followed
at a snail’s pace.
Two pairs of eyes looked up at me as I
stood in the doorway of my classroom.
Confidence and Adamu — the last people I
wanted to see at the moment. Sat together,
Confidence scribbled in her note while
Adamu punched the keys on his calculator.
They seemed to be solving a math problem.
But with a s–t like her and a jerk like him,
nothing good could come out. I turned to
leave when I heard Adamu snort.
“Hey, come put us through…” I walked away,
letting Confidence’s voice trail off. I wouldn’t
want to start my day in their company. Not
unless I planned to ruin it before it even
The corridor seemed good enough for some
quality me-time. Perching my feet beside
the classroom’s exterior wall, I rested my
hands on the parapet, breathing in the cool
morning breeze. Cars and students streaked
in through the gate. Once in ten minutes,
the shuffling of feet would steal away my
attention. I’d turn around, hoping to find
Amarachi or Flora, but would find some
random jerk I didn’t want to waste my voice
on in the name of ‘good morning.’ So I’d just
nod at them and look away.
My thoughts settled on Doreen and her
Bloody Miri tale. Everything about it just
seemed surreal. Impossible. I shook my
head. No way in hell would I believe this.
For twenty-one whole years, this game had
been going on. What did Miriam’s so-called
ghost see in 2017 that forced her out of
hiding, answering the call she’d ignored all
What if Doreen had fabricated that story in
an attempt to cover up for her attacker
because exposing her came with a price?
Either that, or she’d tried to kill herself. Or
maybe that had been one episode of a
madness to come, and many would come
where that came from. But Bloody Miri?
Doreen didn’t strike me as a crazy one
though. Without a second thought, I ruled
out the third possibility, leaving me with just
two. I thought back to the second. Suicide.
She didn’t strike me as one who would try
to kill herself. Like every other kid in our
school, she came from an affluent family, so
she had close to everything she could ever
Why then would she try to kill herself?
Suicide attempts mostly stemmed from
depression and a very chronic loathing of
one’s self. For an adult, the triggers include
unemployment, divorce, inability to find a
mate, and a number of other factors. But for
a teenage girl, I could only think of a few.
Perhaps she’d been bullied and decided to
end it all? Although bullying ended a few
years back, thanks to Sir Amadi’s drastic
measures, it wouldn’t be wise to rule out the
possibility just yet.
I moved on to the next possible trigger.
Perhaps she did not receive much attention
from her family and thought it best to
escape to a better place?
A more troubling question took dwelling in
my mind. What if she had a boyfriend and he
had expressed an unchanging desire to
leave her, perhaps for another? In that case,
wouldn’t she take out her aggression on the
boy himself, or perhaps on the other girl?
What if it happened the other way around,
with Doreen as the other girl, and the ex-
girlfriend of the boy in question had taken
out her aggression on her?
Either way, we had a murderer amongst us,
or at least one capable of it, and until we
unmasked her, we stood the risk of being
attacked. Each and every one of us.
“Do you believe the Bloody Mary poo?”
Raheem asked from behind me. I jumped at
the sound of his voice and hit against the
hardness of his chest.
“I’m sorry.” I bit my lips, hating that I’d just
apologized to him. Even more, I hated that
I’d put myself in a position where I had to
apologize to him.
“You won’t tell me this is what I get from
sneaking up on you like that?” he asked,
leaning against the parapet with his back
I shuddered at our close proximity and took
one thoughtless step to the left, only to
crash into the wall whose presence I had
I would shuffle to the other side of the
parapet, but it would only make obvious my
need to get away from Raheem. He
chuckled. A light, musical sound I never
thought I’d hear firsthand.
Our meeting in the sickbay seemed to have
changed him somehow. The Raheem I knew
would never try to engage me in a
conversation. Somehow, he had cast his old
self in the shadows. For a reason I dared
not identify, this brought a smile to my lips.
“Many students are scared of the restroom
now,” he said. “It’s crazy how they all
believe the place is actually haunted.”
“Do you believe this Bloody Mary poo?” he
asked, lifting himself to sit on the parapet.
My breath caught in my throat as an image
of him tumbling over and falling many feet
below flitted across my mind. Curse my fear
of height. I could never sit on the parapet.
And anyone who knew me knew better than
to perform this stunt in front of me.
Ordering my mind away from Raheem’s
fear-triggering seat, I returned his question.
“I thought when I added poo to Bloody Mary,
my stand was already clear.” Silence crept
in between us, punctuating his not-so-
I could see the old Raheem crawl into the
picture. In no time, he would take
dominance. It seemed I wasn’t the only
living with double personalities. Raheem
shared this similarity.
“Doreen herself seemed pretty convinced
that she’d been attacked by Bloody Miri,” I
“Mary,” Raheem corrected, disgusted by my
apparent inability to correctly pronounce
‘Mary’. How pathetic could his arrogance
‘The problem with people is they believe
they know it all when in reality they know
nothing.’ I loved these words, not only
because of the meaning they held, but
because they had come out of dad’s mouth,
woven in the richness of his deep voice.
Now, though, watching these same words
apply to Raheem made my appreciation soar
“It’s Miri,” I said. “Short for Miriam.”
The look of confusion on his face told me I
had to explain. “Twenty-one years ago, we
lost a student.”
Raheem nodded. “The nurse’s sister.”
My lips parted to ask how he knew of
Miriam’s relationship with Stella. But the
question never made it past my lips. I only
managed to breathe out an “Oh.”
“I read wide,” he said, answering my
unasked question. “So let’s see…A certain
Miriam dies, and students come up with a
game taken after the popular Bloody Mary
and name it Bloody Miri? How cliché.”
The bell for first period rang, freeing me
from his company. I turned to leave, but his
next words gripped me, making me stop
dead in my tracks.
“We will be meeting with Doreen during
break. The sooner we find out whoever tried
to kill her, the better.”
“Huh?” I asked. He had involved me in his
plans without giving me an opportunity to
accede or do otherwise? What gave him the
impression I wanted to sleuth around with
him in the first place?
“I don’t see myself doing this with anyone
but you,” he said.
Anyone but you. Those words sank deep in
my heart. I didn’t want to, but I found
myself locking them away in a place safe
enough for retrieval sometime in the future.
“Take Cynthia,” I offered. “She’ll be thrilled
“Don’t even mention her,” he said. “It
disgusts me how she thinks she can win me
over. And sadly, many other girls think like
that. Is that how little they think of me? A
dog that can be bought with an emaciated
Rue-cheerless and a mix of disgust stole
him over. For the next few moments, he
stayed quiet, clenching and unclenching his
sculptured jaw. Maybe I could lighten up the
“Well, there’s Mary,” I said.
“Of course,” he said. “There’s good ol’ Mary.
But was it Mary and I who stayed by
Doreen’s side while we waited for the nurse
to show up?”
Once again, silence ensued, splitting my
eardrums with its deafening shriek.
Raheem broke the silence. “Look, I don’t
know about you, but I’m keeping this in the
dark from anyone else. At least till we see
ourselves making progress. So, are we
meeting during break? The sooner this takes
off, the better.”
“I’ll…uh…think about it,” I said.
Raheem clicked his tongue. “This isn’t a
Toria? As much as I loved the sound of my
new nickname, I didn’t want to get used to
“Don’t call me that,” I said.
In an attempt to elicit a similar response
from him, I designed the prefect nick for
Raheem grimaced. “Don’t.”
Mission accomplished. “That settles it
“Of course, Miss Brown.” With his words
came a short-lived fluttery sensation in my
stomach. No one had ever called me Miss
The smile on his face told me he knew of
my emotional turmoil, and that he’d seen it
coming. “Shall we seal the deal?”
Outstretching his right hand for a shake, two
things sped into my focus. His well-trimmed
nails. And the second, a memory of his
hands ducking into his pockets when
Cynthia had invited him for a handshake. It
wouldn’t hurt to give him a taste of his own
medicine, would it?
I looked away from his outstretched hand
and folded my hands. Fist clenched, he
withdrew his hand. “Some other time then,
Smirking, he headed for the classroom. Four
girls waved at him. Standing outside the
class, they’d been holding a meeting about
God-knows-what. Looking straight ahead as
though they didn’t exist, Raheem swaggered
off into the class.
The girls turned to glare at me, apparently
wondering what I’d done to make Raheem
talk to me while he didn’t even know they
existed. If they pushed aside their egos and
approached me for help, I would give them
the simple tip: help him revive an
unconscious girl and he’ll love you forever.
With Raheem’s departure came a sudden
realization. His presence had triggered no
symptoms of my fragrance sensitivity. This
only meant he had used a different cologne;
one I actually found pleasing to my sense of
smell. Had he realized my reaction to the
other one? Had he come close to me only to
test my reaction to his new spray?
Morning classes seemed to last for eons,
building my anticipation for what recess
would hold. Although, like Raheem said, this
was not a date, I still couldn’t get past the
fact that I would spend my recess with him,
Raheem of all people, when I should be with
my friends. What would Amarachi and Flora
think of this?
Spotting Raheem’s figure just before he
stepped into Doreen’s classroom, I trailed
behind him. More than half of the class had
gone for lunch, but the person we needed to
A girl sat beside her, engaging her in a
conversation. Wrapping it up, the girl rose to
her feet and sauntered out of the
classroom, stopping only for a minute to
trade hellos with Raheem and I.
Doreen stared out of the window, her eyes
holding the same distant look she wore
yesterday. She no doubt reminisced over her
encounter with whoever had tried to kill her.
“Let me do most of the talking,” Raheem
I let him walk one step ahead of me.
Moments passed, and Doreen didn’t
acknowledge our presence. Her eyes misted
over and she swiped at them with her
She gasped at the sight of us, as though
she’d seen the so-called ghost a second
time. I held my breath, praying she didn’t
pass out and make this even harder.
Regaining composure, she greeted, “Hello.”
“Hello,” Raheem said back.
“How are you doing today?” I asked.
Again, Doreen stared out through the
window. “I’m alright.” While her lips said one
thing, her eyes said another.
I played along. “That’s a blessing.”
“You didn’t just come here to ask after my
health, did you?” Doreen asked without
turning to look at us.
“We’re here to ask a few questions,”
Raheem said. “Tell us about the game.
“Mary?” Doreen turned to look at him, her
eyes holding a mix of horror and
disappointment. “No. It’s Miri.”
I doubted Raheem had forgotten I corrected
him barely four hours ago. Obviously he’d
made the same mistake on purpose to gain
Doreen’s attention. And so far, it worked.
His face contorted with confusion. If I didn’t
know better I’d fall for it.
“Miri?” he asked.
“You don’t know?” Doreen’s gaze darted
between Raheem and I. When none of us
spoke, she explained, “In memory of Miriam
Adewale, a student who passed away, and
then students came up with a game called
“How’s it played?” Raheem asked. “Like
Doreen nodded. “Standing in front of a
mirror, you are to chant ‘Bloody Miri’ for as
long as is needed.”
“And then?” Raheem asked.
“And then the attack,” Doreen said.
“How exactly did she attack you?” I asked.
“She just appeared behind me. She was
dressed in our uniform, which is no surprise,
because that was the cloth she died in. Her
face…it hid behind a curtain of hair. Before I
could react to her presence, she dashed to
my side and covered my head with a dusty
black bag. And then she forced my head into
the water-filled sink.”
“The sink was already filled with water?”
More stories @ www.chorusman.com
“Yes,” Doreen said. “One variant of Bloody
Mary holds that the sound of water dripping
from a tap was the last sound Mary heard.
And so we incorporated it into our own
game. One of the sinks was already half-
filled with water when I arrived there, so I
could tell the last person who Bloody Miried
had also used the water approach. I moved
on to the other sink, secured the drain and
turned on the tap. I’d resolved to only stop
when the sink was full. The other sinks had
water as well. But I didn’t notice until I saw
myself being dragged sink after sink.”
“Wasthat the only way she attacked you?” I
asked. “Making you swallow water?”
“She wrung my neck. And I tried to fight
back, but she kept slamming my head
against the sink. That’s all I remember
about the ghostly encounter. Next thing I
know is me waking up on the sickbay floor.”
My mind conjured an image of Doreen’s
head slamming hard against the ceramic
sink. I blinked, willing this bloodcurdling
image out of my mind.
“It’s weird how you knew the dangers
involved in this game and yet you played it
anyway,” Raheem said.
Doreen’s eyes dulled as she extended her
lower lip. “I’ve never been one for that
“So why did you do it?” Raheem stole my
“All day, our classmates were discussing
about Miriam’s death and the game. I went
to use the toilet, and I found a girl from
class there, Bloody Miring, but it didn’t work.
And she seemed disappointed. Shaking her
head, she said it was all crap, and then she
“So you tried it,” I wrapped up the story.
Doreen looked away. No doubt, she had
started to regret her decision to play the
game. But game or no game, someone
wanted her dead.
“So, about this classmate of yours who was
Bloody Miring,” Raheem said, “I take it she
was the last person to see you before the
Doreen’s stern look sent a warning bell
going off in my head. If we didn’t slow
down, we’d end up scaring her and she
wouldn’t want us around her anymore. But
Raheem didn’t seem to understand this. So
much for letting him do the talking.
“Yes?” Raheem pressed on.
Doreen cleared her throat. “Yes.”
“What is her name?”
She narrowed her eyes at us. “Why are you
asking me these questions? Do you think
someone tried to kill me?”
“Yes,” Raheem said. “Someone tried to kill
you.” I shot him a warning look. I hadn’t
expected him to be dead-honest. This could
“Not a human,” Doreen said, her voice rising
to a near-scream. “A faceless ghost. A
Shivering, she hugged herself and swept
frantic eyes around the classroom. “She
could be anywhere. Miriam’s ghost came to
hurt me because I disturbed it. And here you
are trying to point fingers at some girl just
because she happened to be at the
restroom during that period.”
“Please calm down,” Raheem said. “We’re
not pointing fingers at anyone or anything.”
“Then do you believe my story?” Doreen
asked. She searched my eyes and Raheem’s
for an answer, but she found no indication of
us believing her story. “You think it’s all a
lie, don’t you? You actually believe I’d make
up something like this? What do I stand to
gain, painting myself as the crazy one? That
ghost is freaking real! You can go find out
for yourselves if you don’t believe me.
Just for the benefit of doubt, I could
actually pay the crime scene a visit. Who
knows what I could find.
“It’s not that we don’t believe you,” Raheem
said. His face, just like mine, showed no
conviction. I prayed Doreen didn’t think
much of this. “Why, of course we do.”
“Then why are you so interested in finding
out the last person who saw me before the
incident?” Doreen asked.
“We have some questions for her,” Raheem
said. I cursed under my breath. The more
honest answers he gave, the more
untrusting Doreen would be. Didn’t he know
One moment, Doreen’s eyes widened, and
the next, she narrowed them to slits. “Why?
You think she tried to kill me?”
“Far from it,” Raheem said. “Since she was,
as you said, Bloody Miring, we want to have
a word with her to know if she had any
encounter whatsoever with the said ghost.”
“That won’t be necessary. I already told you
hers was unsuccessful.” She relaxed her
Leaning in to her, Raheem stared into her
third eye. “There could be other things, Miss
Chukwu, tiny details she didn’t tell you. But
she’ll be willing to share with us. And
perhaps we can stop this game and all its
silliness. Everyone is scared. The whole
school is shaken. We just want to end this
game before anyone else gets hurt.”
Doreen thought about it for a moment.
Raheem smiled. He leaned away from her.
“Thank you. You’ve been much help.”
We turned to leave, but then he whirled
around to ask a seemingly urgent question.
“You wouldn’t happen to own a perfume
called Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford, would
I cocked an eye at him. What did a perfume
have to do with our crime solving?
“No, I don’t,” she said. “I use Wild Urchid by
Tom Ford and White Diamonds by Elizabeth
Taylor. Why did you ask?”
Disappointment flitted across Raheem’s
face but he tried to conceal it. “Nothing
really. I just thought maybe you could refer
me a place to purchase it.”
“No, sorry. You could place an order on
Jumia or Konga. I’m sure they’ll have it.”
Raheem raked his fingers through his hair.
He didn’t seem satisfied. “So, you don’t
know anyone who uses this perfume? It
opens with rather strong tobacco notes that
fade to more vanilla, a hint of spice, and
less tobacco. The tobacco note doesn’t
quite fade. It’s still around, lingering
somewhere in the middle.”
“Isn’t that a male perfume?” I wondered
“I know someone,” a girl said from behind
us. We turned around to find the girl who’d
been in a conversation with Doreen. Walking
past us, she placed shortbread and coke on
“Thanks,” Doreen said. “But really, you didn’t
have to get me anything. I’m not even
“Oh, shush.” The girl waved off Doreen’s
comment with a backward flip of her hand.
Catching Raheem staring at her, she
beamed at him.
“Hi,” Raheem said, reaching out for a
handshake. “I’m Raheem.”
“Nengi.” Her eyes flashed with sheer
excitement as their hands met. Typical.
Girls—except me—would always be girls.
“We already said our hellos.”
“Oh, yeah,” Raheem said. “So where were
we? You really know someone who can
direct me to a shop where I can find this
“Yeah. Tobacco notes, right?” When Raheem
nodded, she went on, “There’s one girl in our
class who’s crazy over it. I guess she’s the
only one using it, so you can always ask
her. It’s weird though. Considering that it’s
all masculine and stuff with the tobacco
notes and all, and the market is littered with
varieties of softer, fruitier perfumes that
appeal to us females.”
“What is her name?” Raheem asked.
Raheem and I glanced at each other.
Annabel’s being the last person to see
Doreen before the incident made her our
number one lead. But what did a perfume
have to do with anything?
“Dory dear,” Nengi said. “You’re forgetting
Sir Amadi asked you to come over once the
bell rung for break.”
“Ugh!” Doreen groaned.
“Just go see what he wants.”
“I know he only wants to question me about
yesterday’s event. How many times am I
going to tell them I was attacked by a
ghost! The school is haunted. But the adults
don’t seem to believe me. They think I’ve
lost my mind. But you believe me, don’t you,
Nengi? I mean, even if the whole world
doesn’t, you’ll always believe me, won’t
Nengi placed a hand on Doreen’s shoulder,
but she didn’t express her support in words.
Once again, Raheem and I exchanged
knowing stares. Nengi had a hard time
believing her friend’s story.
Perhaps we could have a word with her.
Since she probably didn’t believe the ghost
story, interrogating her would be more
rewarding that the session we’d conducted
with Doreen. We could ask her some
questions we could never be able to ask
Doreen based on her stand on the matter.
“Maxwell also has faith in your story,” Nengi
said with a smile.
Doreen grimaced at the mention of
Maxwell’s name. “Will you come with me?”
“I have to stay back and complete your
Biology note,” Nengi said. “Break is almost
over, and you know Madam Pamela will
mark notes today.”
“Oh, right.” Securing her biscuit and coke in
her locker, she said, “I won’t take long.”
Doreen turned to leave, but then she
grimaced at Nengi. “Where’s one of your
Nengi’s hand flew to her left ear. She felt
around for her earring and found it. Slowly,
she moved her hand to her other ear.
Finding nothing, she gasped.
“Just take off the other one and find
yourself new earrings,” Doreen suggested.
Without waiting for Nengi’s response, she
walked out of the class.
Raheem engaged Nengi in a conversation.
“It must be really hard for her.”
“Pardon?” Her face looked like someone had
Why would someone grieve over a missing
earring? Probably, it must have cost a lot.
But whatever. She needed to get over her
loss, find herself some new earrings and
move on. How hard could that be?
“I mean, after yesterday’s incident, the
whole school must feel really creepy,”
Raheem explained. “But she’s managed to
pull herself together and be around all the
Nengi sighed. “Yeah. I’m creeped out too. It
was all so unexpected. Once the bell rang
for break, she went to have lunch, and a few
minutes later, news reached me. We’re
bestfriends, we’re always together. And just
this once we weren’t, look what happened. I
should have gone with her, but I had to
remain in class to do my technical drawing
assignment. Perhaps if I were there with
her, none of this would have happened. I
feel so guilty right now.”
“I understand how you feel, but don’t blame
yourself so much. There’s nothing you can
do about it now. It’s happened, and no
amount of pity-party can change that. You
do well to keep that in mind. Besides, I
doubt you’d have been able to fight the
ghost if you’d been there.”
“Faceless ghost?” Nengi scoffed. She looked
around, and although everyone else had
vacated the class, she dropped her voice to
a whisper, “Just between us, I don’t believe
in the so-called ghost. I mean, Miriam’s
been dead for what, twenty-one years, and
this game has been played ever since, but
not even once has she hurt anyone or even
been seen. So why should now be any
“Valid question,” Raheem said, perching on
the desk. “So you think someone attacked
her? Someone from our school?”
“That’s the only logical explanation, isn’t it?”
Nengi held a stiff smile.
“I believe so,” Raheem said.
“But who would want to do this? Dory is a
very innocent soul. She never offends
anyone. She stays away from fights and
every trace of trouble. I don’t see her having
an enemy. Why would anyone want to kill
“That’s why we need your help,” I said.
“You’re her best friend. You should know
one or two things that could point us in the
Nengi nodded, seeming to understand my
“Has anyone made any threats to harm her?”
“None that I know of,” Nengi said.
Searching her eyes, Raheem willed her to
think deeply about his question. “Are you
Perhaps I could make this easier. “You
mentioned Maxwell. Were you referring to
the guy in my class?”
Nengi looked from Raheem to me. “That’s
“Is he in a relationship with her?” I asked.
It took a moment for an answer to come.
“No. Dory’s single, at least for the most
“Care to clarify your last words?” Raheem
asked. “Single for the most part? What does
“Maxwell’s been showing some kind of
interest in her. I don’t know what it is, but
they’re getting pretty close. The texts, small
talks and all. If he didn’t have a girlfriend I’d
say he’s got a thing for my friend.”
“This girlfriend of his, who is she?” Although
I’d seen Max with a certain junior on more
than one occasion, I had to ask. I didn’t
want to reach my own conclusion.
“Annabel Lambert,” she said. Once the
words left her lips, she gasped. She clapped
her hands over her lips and gulped as
though to swallow back her words. “Oh my
God! Do you mean Annabel has a hand in
whatever happened to Dory?”
“Please calm down,” Raheem said. “We
haven’t reached any conclusions yet. We are
just trying to connect the dots and see
where it leads us.”
“Will you find the culprit?” she asked.
“Of course.” The look in Raheem’s eyes told
me we were done questioning Nengi. But
then, another question popped up in his
head. “Uhm, Nengi?”
“Did you ever visit the restroom yesterday?”
“No,” she said. “I told you I stayed back in
class to do my technical drawing
assignment. And even if I had plans to visit
it later, what happened to Dory ruined it all.”
To be continued