Explosions, sparks and the acrid smell of burning wires filled our bedroom last night, startling Rob and me from the deepest of sleeps. At first we did not know what was going on – was someone scrambling over the electric fence, was the house about to catch fire? We called the security company, pulled the plug in the bedroom, the cable from which had partially burned through by now, from the wall, found a torch, and set out to inspect. A few minutes later Denton, who rents our  cottage, called us on his mobile: the switchboard, which is on the wall facing into our dining room, had emitted flashes, sparks and smoke, and plugs in the cottage had also flashed.

ADT, the security company, arrived shortly after, and John, the security guard, did a sweep of the property but found nothing. After a time the smell of smoke began to dissipate, and we began to calm down, the adrenaline draining slowly away. Then we began to assess the damage – every light in the house had blown; the one lamp that was plugged into the wall was flickering, and then that blew too. This morning I did the rounds again – it seems as if the TV decoder may have blown, possibly the TV also; and the power cord for my Mac sizzled, with that smell and frightful sound of electronics frying, when I plugged it into the wall. To my immense relief, the Mac itself powered up on its batteries, evidently undamaged.

I am cancelling my meetings this morning, to deal with all this – I need to phone Outsurance as soon as possible, to send someone round to assess the damage and let us know what they will cover; I need an electrician to get the lights going, at least, and then there will be the time-consuming hassle of trying to get electronics replaced.

I can’t possibly leave it to poor Rob, whose fears and alarms about this house seem once more to be confirmed. She has been angry with me for not getting in a sangoma – a witchdoctor, shaman, traditional healer – to cast out the spirits: she feels Eileen’s dismal presence, and fears it too. And last night it truly did feel as if it was Eileen’s spirit, angry, vengeful, that was hissing and snarling in the darkness.

It is time to call that sangoma.

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