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Uncle Pat, 4

James walked out of the room like a soldier that survived a failed mission. He was not man enough. He pondered how he would see the plan through if he couldn’t even accommodate the sight of Patricia observing Uncle Pat while he slept. He laid down on his bed with a heavy mind and eyes. Somehow he must get himself to swallow the plan, but he didn’t know how.

James woke up the next morning with a heavy mind. He had slept on his thoughts about the plan overnight. Now that he was awake, he wasn’t still sure how he felt about the plan. Tormenting Uncle Pat in his sleep didn’t seem quite right, not to talk about possible. ‘How could a grown up man be tormented in his sleep?’ James thought. He knew his twin sister was smart about most things, but maybe she’s taking a rather simple plan overboard. But was there any simple plan in kicking Uncle Pat out of the house? Could a rat or spider or anything for that matter scare Uncle Pat out of the house? Uncle Pat worked for a construction firm, so he must have seen a lot of scary things, and spiders and rats don’t measure. James kept ruminating. But if he has seen a lot of scary things, then why and how should he get haunted in his sleep?

When James eventually got out of the room, mum knew something was off.

“Jamey boy, is everything alright? You look like you had a bad dream,’ mum asked.

“I’m fine, mum, I just have a heavy head,” James replied.

“Okay then, we are having pancakes for breakfast, so go dish some for yourself.”

“Alright, mum, thanks.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, Jamey boy?” mum quizzed once more.

“I promise, mum, I’m fine.”

While James scarcely munched his breakfast, he wondered what Patricia was still doing indoors. Had she already decided to go on without him? Was she practicing her scare tactics? Was she still angry with him from their conversation the night before? James decided to drop the slab of pancake and go check out Patricia for himself. When he opened the door, he saw her on the bed with her phone relaxing. She didn’t pay heed to who was at the door, she just continued with her phone. James stood backing the door and was moping at Patricia for a statement. Still she said nothing. He felt like he was in a maze full of dead ends. He left the room but stood behind the door contemplating what to do next. Seconds later, he opened the door with heightened pace and walked straight to Patricia.

“Okay! I’m in, whatever you want, I’m in,” he gushed.

Still Patricia didn’t pay him heed.

“Patricia!” he called out, “I said I’m in!” he yelled.

“I’m not deaf, James, I’m busy.”

“Whatever,” James replied, “by the way, breakfast is ready.”

James stepped out of the room still unresolved. He had thought Patricia was going to light up at hearing he had changed his mind. Sometimes he even doubts she’s his sister, the way she behaves, so cold at times. John was sitting on the long couch watching SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon. Mum had covered the remains of his breakfast before she went upstairs. He had lost interesting in eating. For a moment James didn’t know what to do with himself, then he decided to go check out the guest room. Uncle Pat had stepped out while they were still in bed, so no one was in the guest room.

When James got to the guest room, he didn’t exactly know what he was looking for. In fact, he wasn’t supposed to be there. He felt like he was snooping on Uncle Pat. But the guest room had pestered his mind for days since Uncle Pat arrived. Now he was in the guest room, the much talked about guest room. There were two beds in the guest room, a couple of feet from each other. James sat in the unused one facing the bed Uncle Pat slept on. The room had a dark hue caused by the closed curtains. James thought of turning the lights on, but he liked it just the way it was, it added an air of mystery to the room. James compelled himself to feel what it was like sleeping on the other bed, Uncle Pat’s bed. It was just as Patricia observed, except hers was real. He felt like this was the only opportunity he had to be in the room before Uncle Pat arrives or mum figures he’s in there. In no time he started searching, nothing specific, he just felt the need to snoop around. He bent low to look under the bed, there was nothing. He opened the wardrobe and all he saw were office clothes hanging on one side, casuals on the other, and shoes below among other accessories. Still he felt compelled to keep searching. He roughed the bed covering for something, anything, but there was nothing. He made the bad back just the way it was to cover his tracks. He moved the pillow to tuck in that side. Then he saw something that left him transfixed. A crucifix.

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Uncle Pat, 3

No sooner had she finished talking than John stormed into the room, panting.

“Daddy is calling you for dinner,” he jumbled.

“What has come over him?” Patricia asked as he stormed back out of the room.

“I don’t know,” James replied.

They both arrived at the dining for dinner to meet dad, mum, John and Uncle Pat seated. Patricia felt like a stranger was at the table with the family. James outright hated Uncle Pat’s presence at the dining table. Dad said the prayer before meal as usual, and everyone began digging in.

“Everyone, I have good news,” dad said with a reclining smile, “maybe your Uncle should let you in on it.”

Their eyes were agape. Anything good from Uncle Pat was definitely bad for them. Patricia and James glanced at each other in dreadful anticipation.

“Well, I like when your dada puts it like that, but it’s nothing that serious. I am just so happy I will be spending more time with you my precious bubbles,” Uncle Pat said.

Patricia looked at her dad as if summoning meaning out of his face. James suddenly grew pale.

“What your Uncle means is that he will no longer be spending a month with us…”

Patricia’s spirit suddenly lifted, she almost smile at dad’s statement but couldn’t for fear of what was to come. John’s eyes became wet with anticipation.

“Because his stay has been extended to three months. His company called back and…”

Patricia grew terminably deaf, she just couldn’t hear the rest of what dad was rolling out. James instantly fell ill, while Uncle Pat wore an exposing smile. It looked like a resounding win for Uncle Pat, and he basked in it.

“Aren’t you happy, children?” dad repeated as they failed to answer the first time.

It took time for Patricia and James to notice they were being asked a question, but they had no words still.

“They are so happy they can’t even express it!” Uncle Pat exclaimed with a painful grin.

Patricia felt like striking his gritted teeth with a pestle and watch them fall off. James wanted to stab his Uncle in the neck and watch that annoying smile fade into intense worry.

After dinner, Patricia and James retired to the room.

“Patricia, we have to do something quick. I can’t survive with that absurdity for three months in this house. Now is the time to let the cat out of the bag on your plan,” James uttered in distress.

“You’re right on this one, James, things have really gone out of hand. Just look at the fat pig smile, so annoying! I felt like smashing those yellow teeth with a power saw and watch him bleed out of the cracks,” she sighed, “but we mustn’t let our emotions get the better of us, at least not yet, and not like this.”

John barged into the room smiling.

“Uncle Pat has promised to take us to the cinema and bouncing castles on weekends,” he uttered in unrestrained joy.

His siblings hissed.

“Are you that cheap?” Patricia asked John, “he’s buying you with movies and inflatable castles. Such a pity.”

“Look, if you don’t have anything to say then get out of the room,” James added.

John looked confused for a moment, then he found his smile, “You people are just jealous that it’s me he told.”

Patricia and James shared glances and then laughed so hard that their bellies hurt.

“John, if you don’t get out of my room I will jam the door on your little fingers and you will never hold a pen in your life again,” Patricia suddenly became stern.

John abruptly removed his fingers from the doorframe as if Patricia’s threat had come to life.

“Jealous… jealous…” he hushed as he left the room.

“What’s wrong with John, I thought he was on our side?” James asked morosely.

“He has always been the weak link. It’s like each time Uncle Pat rubs his head he loses his tentacles,” Patricia replied.

Patricia walked to her wardrobe and brought out a pitch-black cloak. She threw it at James.

“What’s this?” James asked with a face.

“It’s the plan!” Patricia scuffed.

“You’re joking right?”

Patricia didn’t reply, instead she looked as serious as she could ever be.

“No way!” James exclaimed, “You’re serious. What are we going to use a cloak for? Don’t tell me you’re a witch now with some supernatural powers you plan to use to scare Uncle Pat out of the house.”

“There’s no such thing, James, and you know it. You wouldn’t be so shocked if you slept less and paid more attention. You see, while you and little Johnny were busy snoring away, I took it upon myself to watch Uncle Pat as he slept.”

“Wait, you did what?” James asked puzzledly.

“Yes, James, you heard right. I watched Uncle Pat while he snored and turned and made noises.”

“I don’t believe you, there’s no way you won’t have been caught.”

“Tell me, James, who would have caught me? You?” she gestured, “Or is it little Johnny, or mum, or dad?”

“What if he opened his eyes, what if he saw you?” James stressed.

“Well he didn’t,” she replied, “because I studied him. First off, he’s fat. How many fat people do you think wake up at night? I knew he wasn’t going to wake or even as much as blink because fat people tend to sleep and eat too much. He turned a couple of times but was too lazy to open ‘em eyes. But that’s not the intriguing part.”

“Patricia, you got balls!” exclaimed James.

“Said the one with balls,” she chuckled, “now do you want to know what was so intriguing about our dear dear Uncle Pat or not?”

“Tell me,” James said, still looking puzzled.

“He was making noises, James, in his sleep! Not work noises or baby noises, sentences! At one point he was begging for his life, soon after he promising never to be naughty again. I think Uncle Pat is scared of something, I think he’s haunted, and we are going to use that weakness to drive him out of the house.”

“I’m not so sure about this, Patricia,” James fidgeted.

“Are you going to sissy out on me after we’ve come this far?” Patricia reprimanded, “Do you want him out of the house or not?”

“I do,” James uttered in discomfort, “but isn’t there another way? Maybe we put a rat in his box, maybe he’s scared of spiders, maybe–”

“Quiet!” Patricia commanded, “even John can come up with something better that the rubbish you just spewed out of your mouth. Obviously, you’re not ready for the plan. If you’re not ready by tomorrow night I’d do it alone. Good night.”

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Uncle Pat, 2

“Where are we going to start from?” John asked, flinging his arms. Everything was so confusing to him; the cobwebs, the layers of dust, he just felt like he was in a different planet. James felt like kicking everything in his path, ‘Stupid room,’ he thought, and now they had to clean it for the most detestable person in the world. Patricia was quiet, calculating, and her indifference irked her brothers.

“Patricia!” they exclaimed in unison, “You aren’t going to say anything?”

“quiet!” Patricia proclaimed, “I’m thinking.”

“You’re always thinking,” said John, “and it’s boring.”

“Think, guys, think,” Patricia continued, “it’s obvious we all don’t like him. I mean, he’s despicable. So think, how do we make his life a living hell in this house? Are we going to actually clean the room for him to come have a nice time? Think, how can we cause real damage?”

John and James nodded in unison as though the spirit of sense had finally descended upon them.

“So what’s on your mind, Patricia?” James asked.

“Ugh,” she sighed, “it always has to be me.”

“Okay–okay, guys, I have an idea,” John interjected. Everyone turned heads to him. “Uhm… what if we put a syringe under his bed so that when he’s about to lie down we get a big scream from him.”

“That’s not quite smart,” Patricia rebutted, “what if they find the syringe and figure it was us who put it there?”

“Everyone is always wrong but you!” John blurted.

“Calm your horses, John, I didn’t say your idea was totally bad,” a resistive smile erupted on John’s face, “you just failed to state explicitly how we put the syringe in the bed and how we leave no traces,” she paused, “except for his blood,” she chuckled.

“Eww!” John rebuffed.

“Shut up, sissy, always whining like a crybaby.”

“I’m not a cry baby, you are the–!”

“Quiet!” James cut him short, “she right, we have to think this through. Patricia, we would back you up, any idea you come up with.”

Patricia smile wryly.

They set out cleaning the room. James did the dusting of the cobwebs as he was taller than John. The disjointed webs fell on his head, and it disgusted him but amused his siblings. John was asked to mop and clean the furniture. Patricia supervised them, pointing to parts they missed while she plotted.

Soon they were through, and it was time to implement all the ominous ideas they had brooding. James’s body was coated in dust while John was sodden and dripping water.

“Oh my, John,” Patricia pondered, “are you sure you mopped the floor or yourself?” she chuckled, “not bad. Now it’s time to make our dear dear Uncle pay. He is going to come thinking it’s home as usual, but we are going to make him think twice even if it gets bloody,” their eyes popped, “oh no, guys, not so bloody, just teeny weeny bloody,” she chuckled once more, “let’s reconvene at nightfall for the details.”

It was time for dinner and dad asked about the cleaning of the room. They narrated how they dusted the cobwebs, cleaned the cupboards, among others. Dad was impressed.

“Remember, your Uncle is coming tomorrow, so no one should enter the room, it must remain sparkling. Your Uncle would be so pleased to see you guys again.”

‘But are we pleased to see him?’ Patricia thought.

The next day, as told, Uncle Patrick arrived with his box. Patricia, James, and John stood sullen across the door looking broodily.

“My bubbles! So nice to see you!” Uncle Pat exclaimed, “Look at them, so pleased to see me they can’t move. I totally get you, even I would be pleased to see myself.”

Patricia pouted and uttered a low-toned ‘narcissist’.

Uncle Pat patted her hair and said, “My namesake! You’ve grown!”

Patricia felt like jumping on him and stabbing his yes with a fork continuously until the insides were a red pot of darkness.

“John, you still the naughty boy?”

John just wanted his Uncle’s hand to disappear from his head. How dare you pat his head like he were still a little boy?

“James, look at you,” Uncle Pat wore a tasteless smirk on his face. He didn’t pat James.

James hated that his Uncle thought he was the odd one out. He felt like biting his Uncle all over his stomach until he bled out.

“Guys, give your Uncle a hug,” dad instructed.

But it was over their dead bodies. In fact, the thought of giving Uncle Patrick a hug made Patricia’s stomach turn upside down. James almost uttered ‘never’, and John just followed suit.

“Nah, don’t bother them. They are so pleased to see me they can’t even move a muscle.”

Uncle Pat settled into the guest room with ease. The bed felt fluffy as ever. He relished the number of days he had to spend at his brother’s and the fun times he would have with the kids. He was in town for a construction project that would take a month. After a cold bath, all he wanted to do was rest.

“Patricia, what do you have planned? Tell us,” James barged into her room and asked.

“Next time when I say we meet at nightfall, we meet at nightfall.”

“What does that mean?” James asked impatiently.

“Whoa! Tempers rising in here. James, you really have to calm down.”

“I’m calm, but I need to know what you planted in the guest room.”

“Planted? Do you think this is one of those ridiculous movies you watch where obstinate children go planting spiders and whatnot in their stepmother’s room?” she paused, “I have something else planned for our dear dear Uncle Pat.”

“Share it with me, you know you must.”

“Hmm,” she hummed, and then she began circling James as if inspecting him, “that decision rests with me. You must show me that you have it takes.”

“You can’t talk to me like that, I’m still your older brother,” James uttered, Patricia behind him.

“You are no such thing, mum said you came out first, that’s it. We could argue how the fact that I was born minutes after you doesn’t make you older or we could do some actual planning on how to make that fat pig of an Uncle’s life miserable!”

James cowered in shock. He thought for a moment he saw someone very unlike his twin sister.

“Chill out!” James exclaimed, worried at his sister, “we just want to scare him, that’s all. I think you are taking this too far calling Uncle Pat names and all.”

“I knew you didn’t have the grit for this, you talk big but act small. Maybe John will be a better accomplice.”

“You would do no such thing,” James fumed, “all he does is play and jump on everything he sees. You will get ratted out in no time.”

“Then I’m left with you, it seems. I just hope you don’t let me down.”

“I won’t.”

“You better.”

Patricia began pacing up and down her room as James watched avidly for her to let him in on the plan.

“Not now!” she uttered in amazement, “dinner’s in like ten minutes, we can’t plan effectively before then. I think we should be our normal selves for now, tomorrow when they’re at work we will plan.”

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Uncle Pat, 1

Dad opened the mahogany door leading to the sitting room. It made its signature moan that reminded his all too well of the struggles of being a father and also of abandoned dreams. The sitting room was rowdy, he knew this even while in his room. In fact, he left his room for the purpose of arresting their restlessness, and also for dinner. As he came in, he saw John, one of his sons, bouncing on the sofa as though it were an inflatable castle. He had felt it for a while that taking John to the bouncing castle the weekend before was a big mistake because everything in John’s path was to become a bouncing castle afterwards. From where he stood, dad felt like giving John a dirty slap. ‘How dare he ruin the sofa so, does he have an idea how much I bought it?’ dad thought. For some reason, James was at the foot of the sofa, rather dour, but dad couldn’t care less. Their sister, Patricia was sitting comfortably and watching her favourite show on Disney. She was always the smartest, taking the spoils while her brothers wreaked havoc.

“John! Would you get down from there?” dad cautioned. John trampled and fell on the prickly carpet. “I have warned you never to bounce on everything you see,” dad paused, “the next time I catch you bouncing on the sofa, I will bounce on you, and I mean it.”

Patricia giggled. Dad turned his attention to her. “What’s funny?” she fell silent instantly.

“Honey, is the food ready? I’m famished,” father called to mother. The aroma from the kitchen had filled the sitting room and caused mouths to salivate.

“Just a moment, dear,” mum replied.

“James,” dad called. It was now that dad had time for him. “Yes dad,” he replied.

“What is wrong with you, is everything alright?”

“John pushed him and he fell!” Patricia chipped in, rather fussily.

“Hmm, I see,” dad retorted, “Come to the table, all,” dad ordered.

On cue, mother came in with two ceramic bowls of simmering food.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting, my lovelies,” she uttered.

She placed the bowls at the center of the table and everyone took their seats.

“Let’s pray,” dad said, “God we bless you for this food given to us out of your merciful love, we pray that this food nourishes our body, and we hunger always for the food that will nourish our souls. Amen,” everyone at the table opened their eyes, “Please let’s eat. James,” father called.

“Yes, dad,” James replied.

“You must eat. Now wipe that frown off your face. John,” dad called.

“Yes, dad,” John replied.

“Let this be the last time you push your elder brother. Now let’s eat, please.”

The family began digging in. Half into the meal, dad had something enticing he had to tell his children.

“I have great and exciting news to tell you all,” dad broke the routine.

Everyone looked up to dad. It was unlike him to break meals for anything. In fact, if anyone dared talk during a meal, dad would preach to the person on table etiquettes for hours while meal was suspended, and nobody wanted that.

“Uncle Pat is coming to spend a month with us. He has a project around here that will take about a month, which means he will be coming in two days.”

The whole house fell silent. If a pin were to drop, one could hear the sound.

“I’m so happy and delighted!” dad exclaimed, “it has been ages since I saw your Uncle, Pat.”

James wondered in what planet ages measured to mere months. John went pallid. Patricia’s spoon fell and made a distasteful clanking sound. That is what the mere mention of Uncle Pat’s name could do to them.

Uncle Pat looked nothing like his elder brother, John’s father. His face was rotund, fatter, and so was the rest of his body. His stomach was so big that Patricia feared on many occasions the sheer size would uproot the buttons of his shirt. ‘Why did he even bother suiting up for work?’ was one of the unsolved mysteries about Uncle Pat. Besides the fact that Uncle Pat was always getting into conversations that didn’t invite him, James hated that he panted at every little form of exercise, and he detested the sound. John just hated Uncle Pat for no exact reason, probably because his siblings did. Patricia’s hatred for her Uncle was the worst because their names bore similarity, and her brothers taunted her with it.

“I know you guys are too excited to say something,” dad continued, “You’re busy imagining how much swell time you’d have with your Uncle.”

Patricia looked at dad in disbelief. She felt like jumping on his head, tying his hair and pooping on it like a rocket, however that felt. John was agape, lost in space and time at all that ensued at the table. James was fixated at the glass top of the table, he felt like breaking it with one swoop of his hand and stabbing everything with the shards.

“Okay guys, enough excitement. I need you guys to go arrange the guest room, make sure all is set for Uncle Pat.”

This was the part that they loved, setting the guest room for Uncle Pat, not because they actually loved it, but because they could make the room a living hell for him.

Night came and morning came the next day. It was time to clean up the guest room after breakfast.

The guest room was very dusty, it had not been used for months. In fact, the last person that lived in it was the despicable Uncle Pat. Patricia remembered the last time Uncle Pat visited all too well. He came in with a box that had seen better days, looking haggard and unkempt. She despised him instantly, especially so when he patted her hair in familiarity. “Just look at my bubbles, growing so fast!” he exclaimed. Patricia wondered if she and her brothers looked anything like bubbles.

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Rat

She looked into its eyes, and it looked right back at her.

Some minutes earlier, Mary had gone into the kitchen hoping to eat the wrap of semolina she left over from the night before. She was hungry as hell. The wrap of semolina was sitting atop the kitchen slab. Mary knew something was not right about everything. She picked up the wrap and inspected it with trepidation. Her doubt had been ascertained, the dubious rat had visited the kitchen overnight and done what it was best known for, eating. Mary hated the way the rat ate into the wrap of semolina.

“If they can’t eat everything, then why even try!” she yelled in anger.

She was so hungry. She looked at the wrap and though, ‘Can I at least salvage some part of this food?’ but she knew better than to eat what had been tasted by a rat, lassa fever among her fears. That hollow space of missing semovita kept poking at her, infuriating her the more.

“I must kill this rat today,” she said.

But she wanted to do it in a way that won’t wake mum and dad, because today the rat must die. Enough of the eatings, enough of trespassing the line between the world of rodents and humans. It had to die.

She picked up a broom, which was the closest thing she could grab in anger.

“Where are you, bloody thing? You must die today,” she uttered once more.

Angrily but silently, she started shifting kitchen items away from the wall to give her room to fish the stubborn rat out. Once in a while, something cranked, but not enough to wake sleeping mum and dad.

She saw it. Something moved, so fast, but she saw it.

“Time to die, you’re running, but time to eat you won’t run. Today is the day,” she gasped.

She could ear it clamber against the cartons of electrical appliances that were on the floor. She knew she was close to it. It had little or no space to run or hide.

As soon as she heard it leave the kitchen, she ran out and bolted the door. The sitting room was a cozy area with exposed corners. This was her turf, the rat would have to face its impending doom here, she was sure of it.

Just as she thought, the rat indeed had no place to hide. It scuttled to the center of the sitting room and stood there, confused, as Mary jerked left and right to reduce its options.

“Now you have no place to hide. Why fight it? Death is inevitable,” she smirked.

With her broom held high, she looked into its eyes, and it looked right back at her. They held gazes for awkward seconds. And as she stepped closer to strike the rat, it jumped at her, scurrying up her dress with it’s pincer-ly claws. Mary started making unrestrained movements, beating her hands allover her body in a bid to get the rat off her. She didn’t want to shout, but she made a squeak when the rat boldly jumped at her, a squeak she hoped didn’t wake mum and dad.

The rat made to her ear, poked its nose as if trying to get into her skull. She slapped, but she missed, and instead heard ringing bells in her brain.

“Get off me,” she harshed.

She felt the rat at her back, and flung one had hoping to get a piece of it. And she did. But just as she hit the rat, it plunged its molars into her back. She yelped.

“Mummy! Da–”

Before she could say Daddy the rat had made its way into her mouth and down her throat into her belly. Mum and dad sprung up from the bed and into the sitting room. They could see her writhing uncontrollably and hiting her stomach.

“What’s wrong with her?” dad uttered.

“I don’t know,” mum replied, “Honey what’s wrong?” mum asked.

“My stomach, it’s in my stomach,” Mary managed to utter.

“What’s in your stomach?” dad quizzed.

And just as dad asked that question, he noticed some movements inside her dress.

“Honey, something is moving inside her,” dad uttered to mum.

“Do something!” mum cried.

Dad lurched forward and gave Mary’s stomach a thunderous slap. Mary shouted, and as her mouth was wide open, the rat showed its bloody face. Mum fainted. Dad retched. The rat hurried back into her stomach.

“Honey, wake up!” dad shook mum.

Mum sat up, and as they both looked at Mary they noticed something. The hair on her body were growing longer. Her nose became a round pink ball. Long and rigid strands of hair began growing from her nose like whiskers. Her head began wobbling shapes. Her bones cracked. Her neck stiffled. Her back potted. Her teeth tapered. Her fingers clawed. Her eyes darkened. She squeaked.

Mum and dad ran, It followed.