With this ring

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Last week on Friday night, I was home alone and bored so decided to take a break from reading ‘Nineteen Minutes’ by Jodi Picoult and watch a movie. I had just gotten ‘With this ring’ the previous day, it fit in perfectly with my plan. ‘With this Ring’ is a Lifetime romantic comedy based on a book titled ‘The Vow’ by Angela Burt-Murray,Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller.

With this ring is a chic flick, the kind of movie that women will enjoy and would make great for a girl’s movie hangout. The movie starts off at Elsie’s wedding (Brooklyn Sudano) which is on New Year’s Eve. At the wedding are three of her girlfriends are also her bride’s maids. There is Trista (Regina Hall), Vivienne ( Jillie Scott) and Amaya(Eve). These three women are all single and at that age where where everyone looks at you and then casts a furtive glance at the clock wondering when you plan to settle down.

Bridesmaid

The three women take a vow to all get married or at least engaged by the next New Year’s Eve. If they fail to get Mr. Right, they plan on settling on ‘Mr. Right Now’, whichever man will be available then and showing interest.

This is where all the drama begins.

Trista keeps falling for the wrong men and tries to settle down with the biggest douche bag of them all; Vivienne gives dating a chance but is really in love with her ex who is also her son’s daddy. Amaya is a mess; she is dating a married man who she keeps hoping will leave his wife for her.

The search for Mr. Right provides viewers with some funny, emotional, thoughtful but also SMDH moments that makes the movie enjoyable.

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Why you will enjoy this movie:

1. It’s awesome and relatable for many women whether single or married but especially single and at that ‘age’
2. It’s funny and makes an easy watch
3. The acting is really good; Regina Hall, Jill Scott and Eve give great performances. I think we need to see Hall in more movies. Gabrielle Union is also in the movie although not playing a major role
4. Plenty of eye candy
5. Happy endings that will melt your heart but are still realistic in that not everyone gets exactly what they want
6. The backdrop scenes are really beautiful, not sure where the movie was shot but it really did have a picturesque setting

What I didn’t like about it:
1. It’s a little over the top, the horrible dates are unrealistically terrible(i think that part was a bad attempt at being hilarious), the bad men are way too bad that you wonder what woman would be with them, people get heartbreaks that cause heart attacks.

I understand that it’s a chic flick but there are some really cringe-worthy scenes

2. Looses ends are tied up in very simplistic ways. If you are in love with someone who you can’t be with, I expect that there are obstacles that keep you apart. You just don’t tell the person that you love them and that’s it, happy ever after starts then. Conflict resolution in this movie was way too unrealistic

My favorite part of the movie was this monologue by Trista(Regina Hall):

“Do you, Trista Miller, realize that life is short and if you spend all your time waiting on a job or the One, that you waste a perfectly good chance to be happy. I do. Then by the power vested in you, I make a new vow that single or married, working or not, that you will never wait for anything outside of yourself to change, before you choose to be happy. You may kiss the new you”.

The movie has a 6.8 rating on 1dmb,it’s worth checking out

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3908634/

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

A Review

nineteen minutes

Nineteen minutes tells a story of lives shattered at Sterling High School in New Hampshire when one of the students, Peter Houghton took a gun to school and shot his fellow students. All it took was 19 minutes to completely change the lives of everyone in the school and the community. The story starts by potraying a normal day at the high school before the 19 minutes of mayhem.

“In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn; color your hair; watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five.
In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world; or you can just jump off it.”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

The story goes back and forth to give a background of Peter’s life before the shooting. I have noticed this is Jodi’s style of writing moving between the present and the past. It is clear that Peter had been a victim of bullying since kindergarten all the way to high school so it’s a bit easy to guess his motive for shooting the students.

Another key character is Josie Comier who is Peter’s childhood friend until their lives take different paths in high school. Josie joins the popular crowd while Peter remains the bullied kid tormented by Josie’s friends. The friendship that used to exist between Peter and Josie plays a key role in how the lives of both students end up. At the end, they are entwined for life by an interesting twisting revealed in the final chapter of the book. Interestingly, Josie is one of the survivors who were spared by Peter. However, she claims not to remember the incident and hence cannot be much help to the prosecutor’s team.

There are interesting similarities between this book and ‘the pact’ in that both stories have main characters being teenagers accused of murder and spending sometime in incarceration. Interestingly, the lawyer in both books is Jordan McAfee assisted by Selena who is now married to Jordan. I liked the pact since there was a lot of suspense in trying to find out what really happened. This is not the case with nineteen minutes.

I thought that the background was overdone by Jodi, the story dragged on so much with no new information and so I found myself skipping ahead. It was clear from the first chapters that Peter had committed the crime, this was motivated by bullying and there was little or no chance of an acquittal hence not much suspense really. I also failed to sympathize with the character, Peter. The bullying was sad but I didn’t quite get his actions, they seemed extreme especially the fact that he killed even students who had nothing to do with the bullying. His reaction to the deaths and also to the demise of his brother Joey portrayed him almost as a psychopath so he didn’t evoke much sympathy.

The reason as to why I kept reading the book to the end was to find out if there were other reasons for Peter’s decision to commit his crimes. I was also curious about the death of Josie’s boyfriend, Matt and the reason behind Peter sparing Josie despite the fact that she was friends with his bullies. The part that got me all excited was when Josie ‘regained’ her memory and it seemed that not all was black and white and that perhaps something else happened at the shooting. This turned out to be the biggest twist. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed the second part of the book which was fast paced and suspensful.

I am a bit confused by this book. I had read a few reviews before starting on it and most had described it as ‘the most riveting book’ by Jodi. I also found out that it was a best seller. I have a different opinion from these reviewers. The Pact and My Sister’s Keeper were better reads for me. I think the reason as to why other people loved the book so much is because it covered school shootings, a sensitive and controversial issue that is a reality is some countries like America. It’s a fear that they have and for some, it’s an experience that they may have shared.It also touched on bullying, a topic that a lot of people can relate to.

I live in a world where school shootings are something unimaginable. They have never happened, guns are only owned by law enforcers and crooks and not civilians and it’s hard to imagine this as a reality in Africa. This is not because it can never happen but because it has never occurred so right now it seems inconceivable. However, I watched international news with the rest of the world and saw the devastation caused at Columbine, Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine and Virginia Tech and so I have an idea of the devastation that this can cause to everyone touched by it. I also remember watching an episode of Sons of Anarchy season 6, episode 1 which got a lot of people furious at Kutt Sutter due to a scene of a school shooting. I guess this why people were quite moved by Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It was close to home for many readers.

Wentworth

TV Series

Wentworth

If you haven’t yet watched Wentworth then I must tell you just how much you are missing out on one of the best TV shows right now. I know there are many great American TV shows based on prisons such as ‘ Prison Break’ and lately there is ‘ Orange is the new black’. ‘Wentworth’ is an Australian TV show on SoHo that stands at par with the two in terms of prison drama.

Wentworth is based on a female prison by the same name. Behind the high prison walls and massive fences, there are different women and correctional officers. Each with a story of their own on how they got residence at Wentworth and how they are spending their time behind the walls.There is also prison politics with inmates running different crews, trying to be ‘top dog’ and trying to live a normal life despite their current circumstances. There are also families left at home that bring their own twist to the plot. The correction officers also have their own personal stories which add to the interesting drama at Wentworth.

this one

The main character is Bae Smith (Danielle Cormack) who is remanded at Wentworth after being arrested for the attempted murder of her husband. Bae comes to prison all innocent expecting to await her trial in peace. However, she soon realizes just how prison works and discovers that she will have to toughen up to survive at Wentworth. The things that she goes through at the jail will break your heart and like a train wreck that you can’t tear your eyes from, you will be shocked to see just how much Bae’s life goes into a spiral. The Bae who walked into the prison is definitely not the same lady by the end of the second season. Prison changed her from a broken, abused housewife to something else. Or maybe it just revealed the real her.

transformation

On the other side is Frankie Doyle (Nicole Da Silva) who relishes the role of ‘top dog’ and would do just about anything to run the prison. She is a tough brunette lesbian who always finds a way to get people to do her bidding. Not only does she try to control the inmates but also tries out her power over the correctional officers.Frankie has a tough, mean side and you will find yourself really hating her at times such that her soft moments will catch you off-guard.

frankie

It is interesting to interact with the different characters in the prison. For instance, Doreen Anderson (Shareena Clanton) and Liz(Celia Ireland) take on the mother figures at the jail. They always watch out for the girls. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine that they actually belong in the prison. Then there is Sue Jenkins (Katrina Milosevic) who acts as Frankie’s ‘muscle girl’ and we get to see her physically bully people although at the same time, it seems that Frankie takes advantage of her insecurities. My favorite guard is Will Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) who is a dedicated correctional officer and who also happens to have paid a very high price for his job. He loses a loved one in the jail and nearly loses his mind in the first season. Again, in season 2, he faces new afflictions that now threaten his life. He also has a very close friendship with one of the inmates, a friendship that I keep holding my breath hoping that it will lead to a romance.

Not all guards are good though, some of them are straight-up psychotic like the Warden in season 2, Joan Ferguson(Pamela Rabe) who does more to cause havoc than bring order to the jail. She not only interferes with the inmates but also the other correctional officers.

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There are already 2 seasons of Wentworth with a total of 22 episodes. I promise you, once you start watching the first episode you will get hooked.

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The series has a very high rating of 8.6 on imdb, check below link for reviews

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2433738/

Orange is the new black has a rating of 8.5

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2372162/

While Prison Break also has the rating of 8.6

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455275/

If we are to go on the that then Wentworth is as good as Prison Break and better than Orange is the New Black. Definitely worth checking out.

Here is a link to another review of the show by Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10272166/Wentworth-Prison-Channel-5-review.html

Chaka Ranch

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Most Nairobians enjoy ‘out of town’ plans. It’s always a great idea to spend some time away from the city and enjoy the countryside. However, it is true that most people would still prefer to take a little of the city with them even as they venture into the countryside. I think this is why Chaka Ranch has been such a big hit since last year’s holidays. It is tucked away at the foot of Mount Kenya but still loaded with a lot of fun activities that everyone can enjoy.

A view of the ranch from the entrance foot bridge

A view of the ranch from the entrance foot bridge

The ranch is located at Chaka, a small town on the Nairobi to Nanyuki highway. I visited the ranch from Nanyuki and it was just a 20 minutes drive to Chaka town. From Chaka town, it took us about 20 more minutes to get to the ranch, the roads are good but we had traveled during a public holiday and so there was a lot of traffic. We were practically stuck in a convoy all the way.

Fly

There were a lot of activities going on at the ranch. There are restaurants, barbeque areas, sports bars, a kid’s playgrounds with bouncing castles. However, I think the main attractions of the place is the buggies and quad bikes. There were races all around the place for kids and grown-up.

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Eating Area

The ranch has two types of small quad bikes; the Toto and Junior which can be hired at Kshs.1000 and Kshs.2000 each for a 30 minute ride around the track. For adults, there are the senior quad bikes which are hired for Kshs.3000 for 30 minutes. There are also three types of buggies, Junior, Maggiebuggy and Racing Baggie for Kshs.2000, 3000 and 5000 respectively.

Buggie

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Kids having fun

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It was fun watching the kids

It was fun watching the kids

Things you should know about Chaka Ranch:
a. The location is very beautiful. The ranch is surrounded with stunning views especially of the Mount Kenya. There is also outdoor eating area from where you can see the dam. This is very beautiful although may not be ideal for kids unless closely monitored since the dam was not fenced by the time I was there.

A view of the mountain

A view of the mountain


b. They have a cashless system where all payments have to be made using Visa/Mastercards or Mpesa. We used Mpesa to buy all meals. I saw the same system in use at the Bantu Lodge where we had to buy meals and pay for all activities using a ticket, no cash inside the lodge. Not sure if it is a new thing at leisure spots in Nanyuki only.

What I didn’t like about my visit to Chaka Ranch was the fact that on that particular day, people had to wait for up to 4 hours for food orders to be ready especially any type of ‘Nyama Choma’. It could be because it was during a holiday and the place was really packed as it had just been launched but we ended up not eating at the venue during our visit.

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I hope to visit the ranch again on a normal day,not a public holiday definitely.

Otherwise, Chaka Ranch is definitely a great place to visit. If you have kids, they will definitely enjoy the visit even more. It is only 2 hours away from Nairobi so definitely an easy drive for a weekend out of town.

I swear...it was moving at what i would call a neck-braking, dangerous speed LOL

I swear…it was moving at what i would call a neck-breaking, dangerous speed LOL

photo credit:I took most of the photos, however, some were from http://chakaranch.com/ where i also got the pricelist for the bikes(the epic pics of the stationery bikes and the mountain are from the site). Visit the official website for more information about the ranch.

Empire (TV Series)

Mid Season-Review

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Well if you haven’t yet heard , there is a new TV show that everyone is talking about. Empire is an American TV series on Fox. It debuted on January 7th 2015 and is already on its 7th episode. I watched all 7 episodes on one evening; that is how interesting the show is. The show has a rating of 8.1 on imdb.

Empire revolves around a music (hip-hop) entertainment company owned by the Lyon family. The company CEO is Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard). Lucious was in the drug business before getting into music. He is now an iconic artist in his own right and his company, Empire, has made a name for itself in the music industry. Lucious’ does not have the typical rags to riches story. His past seems to have caught up with him and his future also doesn’t seem too good especially considering his medical condition. He is engaged to Anika and was married to Cookie (Taraji Henson) though clearly there are unresolved issues between the two.

The Lyon family has, Andre (Trai Bryers) the eldest son who runs the finances for the Empire Company. He may seem like the responsible one but man, does he have too many demons.In addition, Andre is the only son who doesn’t have any musical talent. Jamal (Jussie Smollet) is a talented RnB artist; he is also gay which makes him the black sheep of his family since his father doesn’t accept his sexuality. Bryshere Gray (Hakeem) is Lucious’ youngest son, a hip-hop artist like his dad and clearly his father’s favorite son. However, Hakeem is out-of-control, always running rogue, saying the wrong stuff in front of cameras.Honestly, i can’t imagine him running the company but he still is a top contender.

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Immediately the show starts and we are introduced to the family, Lucious informs his sons that he will be leaving his company to one of them who he will start grooming to take over. Immediately this is said, the drama starts to unfold as each of the sons seeks to be the heir. If this is not enough drama, Cookie, the mother of the three comes home after a 17 years stint in jail for drug trafficking adding to the family chaos. Well if that hasn’t convinced you to watch the series, check out the below list.

Why should you watch this series?

1. Family drama- Drama is fun and the Lyon’s family has plenty of that. A former drug dealer for a dad, ex-convict mum and three sons who all want the Empire, great recipe for fun drama.

2. The Scheming- I love the fact that everyone seems to have their own secret agendas on this show. The biggest puppet-master seems to be Andre who is hell-bent on getting Empire. It’s interesting to watch him scheming against his own family. Anika seems to have a few schemes up her sleeves mainly against Cookie. This just makes the plot more engaging.

3. The Personalities- The Character development is awesome giving the show some big personalities. There is Cookie who is the Queen Bee, Andre who is straight up psycho and Jamal who is endearing. You will find yourself either loving or hating the different characters who are quite polarizing. The actors do a terrific job in bring out the personalities.

4. Twisted Relationships- I have seen some twisted relationships in the past but nothing quite like what I saw on this show. My favorite relationships include:

a) Lucious and Cookie- divorcees who seem to still have feelings for each other despite Lucious being engaged to Anika. I also love their story of how they started out together with nothing.
b) Cookie and Hakeem- They are supposed to be ‘mother and son’ yeah supposed is the key word here. Hakeem openly can’t stand Cookie.
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c) Hakeem and Camilla (Naomi Campbell)- This is totally weird. I won’t even explain why, just watch it and see what Hakeem calls Camilla and the relationship between the two.
d) Andre and his wife- There is something very wrong mentally with Andre. There is definitely something wrong with his wife too. They are one creepy couple.

5. The Music- Timbaland has done a great job with the music in this show. There are some great performances throughout the show. Both Jamal and Hakeem are pursuing music careers and so they have a number of performances. What I really love about this show is that the characters are actually really musically talented and so they portray the artist-bit really well. My favorite performances were by the two brothers together. They are really great when working together which unfortunately is not always the case.

Together, their music is simply awesome

Together, their music is simply awesome

6. Bonus ( Top Models)- Naomi Campbell is a cougar on this show, say what you want but Naomi will forever remain fierce. Guess who else is on the show, AzMarie Livingston from America’s next top model! She has small repeat roles but is doing a great job and plus Az is so fabulous . I hope to see Az more in future.

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Still fierce…

AzMarie is perfection

AzMarie is perfection

Another pic of Az,killin'it

Another pic of Az,killin’it

Season 1 of Empire has 12 episodes so if you are not already watching it, you better start now. This is one show that you don’t want to miss.

Check out more reviews of the show on Imdb.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3228904/

Empire has a facebook page on:

https://www.facebook.com/EmpireFOX

This may contain spoilers though so don’t go to the page until you have watched the show

https://www.youtube.com/user/EMPIREonFOX

American Horror Story: Freak show

The Freak show is the fourth season of American Horror Story. Other seasons include, Season 1: The Murder House, Season 2: The Asylum and Season 3: Coven. I really enjoyed season 1 but was not too keen on season 2. The Asylum location did not hold too much appeal for me. However, I recently saw the fourth season at the movie store and decided to give it a shot although I hadn’t watched the third season.

Freak show will have you glued from the start. I watched all 12 episodes in quick succession. The setting of the series is a circus in a town called Jupiter in Florida where the ‘freaks’ live together and put up shows for the community. It is clear to see that the community is not very accepting of the ‘freaks’ maybe that is why they stay on their own. There is so much discrimination against them and they are openly treated as “nature’s mistakes”. The ‘freaks’ are not only people with odd features such as the lobster hands, bearded lady or the dwarfs but also other people with different handicaps.

Society also treats them as commodities whereby people openly try to purchase them. There is a museum even set aside for ‘freaks’ where they are murdered and then displayed for other people’s amusement. There are a lot of storylines intertwined in the show all revolving around the ‘freaks’ that attracted all kinds of visitors to Jupiter. I also enjoyed learning the background story of the characters.

The Freak show allows you to look into the lives of what society back then called ‘ freaks’ or as Elsa called them ‘monsters’. You get to see life from their point of view. You also get to share in their fears and joys. The show is thrilling with a lot of suspense and twists that will keep you on the edge on your seat. There is also some gruesome murders and lots of scary scenes, it is American Horror Story after all.

Favorite Characters

One of my favorite characters was Ma Petite. She said few words and did not feature so much in the show but to me, she was the most memorable. I loved her smile and always made up face and I thought she was simply adorable to the end. I found it odd when Elsa used her to cuddle but I guess she is just that sweet to be around.

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Ma Petite hold the Guinness World Record for being the smallest woman in the world, below is more information about her

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/11210177/American-Horror-Story-What-the-freaks-really-look-like.html

I also loved pepper and the storyline behind her character. Although potrayed as a monster, we do learn that she had a kind and wonderful spirit. She hardly said any words but she was really sweet. As I watched the series, I decided to read more about the ‘real’ paper and was pleasantly surprised. Naomi Grossman does a wonderful job as Pepper.

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Pepper
The Transformation is crazy

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I really liked Pepper and Ma Petit

Bette and Dot played by Sarah Paulson were also some of the main characters in the series. I was impressed by how well Sarah played the role of the Siamese twins. I also loved the story line of Bette and Dot, the two were so different and this came out very well in their thoughts, personalities and also their facial expressions. I also loved the relationship between the two girls. I was curious about how they would date and experience such things such as intimacy. In the series, only Neil Patrick Harris seemed attracted to both women and so it was mind boggling imaging one of them falling in love and her twin going with it though she did not feel the same.

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This pic shows how Bette and Dot were so different

Paul(Mat Fraser) was one of my favourite characters, deep, thoughtful, tough yet sensitive.
PAUL

Every great story has the heroes and the villains. In this one, there is murderous clown and then there is Dandy Mott(Finn Witrock). I just love how his character was over the top psycho. It was exaggerated but in a good way. His facial expressions and even just the way he talked was very animated almost ‘cartoonish’ but it was brilliant.He played the role of villain, the rich spoilt psychopath with a seemingly very weird relationship with his mother. I was a little perturbed by how his feet were always facing each other though hence giving his this really odd walking style.

finn-wittrock

Other characters who made the show great include; Jimmy Darling(Evans Peters),Elsa( Jessica Lange),Ethel(Kathy Bates),Dell(Michael Chiklis) and Desiree(Angela Basette).
Cast
Main Cast

Reading about the actors playing the different roles was also quite en lighting. For instance, Mat Fraser who is disabled with ‘seal hands’ was a skate boarder, drummer and travel the world with different bands at sometime. Jyote who is an Indian actress was quoted saying how she dreams of one day acting in Holywood, well here we are Ma Petit. It is also interesting to know how Sarah Paulson and Naomi Grossman manage to transform and potray their character shich is not quite easy.

Next week, ill start watching “Coven” which was season 3. I do hope that it will be just as enjoyable.

Nb: All Images courtesy of Google images

Longest hour

Last night, there were heavy showers all around the city, hell I think the whole of Kenya was raining. I went to bed early because I sleep better with the sound of rain. After what felt like a few hours, I woke to some strange noises. I panicked thinking someone was trying to break into my house. However, I soon realized that the noise was not emanating from my house but from the house upstairs. It sounded as if someone was dragging heavy furniture on the floor. After a few minutes of silence, I could hear what sounded like a growl, an animal sound,unnatural at the same time. I tried to rationalize the noises telling myself that it was someone moving around, getting ready for work. It was 3:01am!

I looked out my window but couldn’t see anything. Still, the growling continued. I thought it was coming from on top of my living room, however, rushing there, I heard it from the bedroom and then the kitchen balcony. I kept tiptoeing around the house in darkness trying to figure out what the noises were. The rain was still coming down with a vengeance but still, I could hear the growling. Barefooted, I kept running from one window to the other, looking outside, not sure what I was expecting to see.

Suddenly, the security lights went off and the whole building was plunged into darkness. I looked outside to see the whole town engulfed in darkness. It was 3:21am.My imagination was running wild and with the darkness, I couldn’t bear look out the window, lest I came face to face with my own nightmares. I quickly crawled back to bed, trying to ignore the sounds but they got louder. There were seconds when the growling stopped and I could hear a strong wind blowing then the sounds would start again.

I heard footsteps and decided to go peep from the window on the sitting room door. There were people coming down the stairs. I imagined that I would see thieves, probably carrying their loot. I wondered whether my screams would be heard over the sound of the rain. With no power, I knew the alarm system had gone off too. However, the first figure I saw was hooded. It had a long robe and a hood over its head. My heart was racing, beating so loud, straining to get out of my chest.I tried to hold my breathe because in the silence, my breathing sounded too loud. I watched in horror as 8 more figures all hooded followed the first one. I couldn’t tell whether they were men or women. I watched them walk right past my door, heads low, not saying a word. It felt like they were moving in slow motion. My palms were sweating but my whole body was covered in chills. I watched them disappear around the staircase as I waited with bated breath. It was 3:58am.

Cloaked

When all was quiet, I turned around to walk back to my room. However, I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard the growling again. I quickly went down on the floor and tried to crawl back to the bedroom. I thought it was the robed people who had seen me but I was too scared to look outside the door again.

When I got to the corridor leading between the kitchen and bedroom, I realized that my door was closed. I would have had to stand up to get it open. Just as I reached for the door knob, I heard it again. This time, I was sure without a shadow of doubt. The sound was now coming from inside my bedroom. It was 4:01am.