When Mfon woke up very early on Sunday morning, the first thing she thought of was the story of the missing medallion.
She quickly stood up and opened her laptop. She intended to finish typing Chapter Two of the story before she did any other thing that morning.
Clifford had almost finished the bottle of Royal Challenge in his hand while he waited impatiently for Okon and John. He paced up and down his small living room wondering if anything had happened to them. Life had made him a pessimist, but despite that he continued to work hard towards making serious money.
Clifford had lived most of his forty years indulging in one criminal activity or the other. Working only with Okon and John had helped him maintain a low profile thereby avoiding the strong arm of the law. However, he saw what he did for a living as petty crime that wouldn’t get him the kind of wealth he craved for his entire life.
Yes, he had seen some golden opportunities to make it big in life, but was always faced with unexpected stumbling blocks. Clifford believed that there must be somebody in his village that was using diabolical means to destroy his destiny. He had tried everything in life to find a breakthrough but to no avail. He had even gone for deliverances in several churches yet he always met with a stumbling block whenever he was just about to hit it big time.
Now that Okon and John had been able to steal the golden medallion, he just prayed that they got to his house successfully. What was keeping them? He looked at the wall clock. It was almost twelve pm; he had expected that they would be here before 11am.
He had spent the whole night dreaming of what he would do with his share of the money once the medallion was sold. He had met with the foreign merchant who had given him information about the medallion yesterday and had informed him that they had successfully gotten hold of the medallion. The merchant had promised to give him 5million naira in cash once he saw the object.
‘This was it!’ Clifford screamed in his mind, he would finish up with the house he was building somewhere in the outskirts of Abuja town, buy a new car and move out of this dungeon. Then he would buy precious gifts for his fourteen year old daughter. She was the love of his life. Yes, he sometimes got violent with her but he loved her with all his might even more than he loved her mother. Did he even love her mother? He wouldn’t have even married the stupid woman if he had not mistakenly gotten her pregnant and was forced by her poor parents to wife her for free. They were obviously looking for how to get rid of their useless daughter and unfortunately for him his home had been a perfect dumping ground.
He hated her, he was sure that somehow, she was partly to blame for some of his life misfortunes, so he had willingly turned her into a punching bag all throughout their fourteen years of cohabitation. Seeing his daughter, Angela grow up into a beautiful young woman however, had given him reason to love again.
He had disvirgined her when she was eleven and the experience was nothing like he had felt before. Still she always resisted him whenever he wanted to have her; he didn’t understand it and it was why he got violent with her often. One would think that constant sex with the teenager over the past two years would have made her fall in love with him but she seemed to bitterly loathe him. The whole situation was getting him more frustrated.
Her mother always made matters worse. The ugly hag would always want to stop him like she wanted him to make love to her instead. He couldn’t even nurse the thought of making love to the ugly old bitch.
So, he would first of all beat her to stupor before making love to his daughter. One of these days he would eventually kill the ugly animal.
Someone knocked on his door and Clifford quickly opened it, hoping it was his two counterparts. He would have wasted no time punching whoever it was to death if it turned out to be a false alarm.
Okon and John entered with something wrapped in a cloth.
“What had kept you guys all these while? I thought you’d gotten into some sort of trouble?” he barked.
Okon and John were in their late thirties and held a great respect for Clifford. They were both unmarried and roughly the highest patronizers of all the brothels in Gwagwalada where they lived.
“Easy boss, the police check points before and after Airport junction were the main cause of the delay, but we are here now and we have the gold.” John said.
Clifford’s eyes widened in delight. “Let me have a look,” he stretched his hand and snatched it before Okon could offer it to him. Tearing off the wrappings with haste, he almost screamed for joy when his eyes beheld the object of pure gold. It was slightly larger than the size of his palm and much thicker. He had never seen such an object in his life.
“You know what? The white man promised to give me five million for this, but I will make him pay ten.” He said his face beaming with childish glee.
The two other men only just continued to smile and nod their heads like fools. The money their boss was mentioning didn’t seem realizable to them, but it sure sounded good.
“How did you do it?” Clifford asked.
“It was so easy; I wonder why others have not stolen it all this while. But I must be honest; the information given by your white friend helped us a lot. It made it easier for us to find the location of the gold. We were welcomed into the monastery by the monks; they thought we were from a charity organization. There were four of them and so we used the gas to knock them out of consciousness in the waiting room, tied them up in the toilet and then dressed up like monks ourselves. We located the gold and after beating up the men and made away with it.” Okon bragged.
“Ha ha, you guys are getting better by the day. The presence of this gold has been kept secret for years… I just wonder how the white man found out about it. I am sure there are very few people who know about this wonderful object.” Clifford said thoughtfully. He brought out five one thousand naira notes from his pocket, saying, “You guys go and have fun for the rest of the day, I will see the merchant this evening. One thing is for sure, by tomorrow, we will all be millionaires.”
It was like a dream come true for the three men. All their life efforts were finally paying off. They knew it and believed they deserved it.
Soon after Okon and John left, Clifford gulped down the remaining whisky in the bottle while he stared at the bright object. He felt a sudden wave of alcoholic pleasure and euphoria, then he imagined heightening it up with a rough intimate intercourse with his daughter while hitting her mother intermittently. Quickly, he entered his bedroom and dragged the girl into the sitting room.
She fought hard to hold fast unto the piece of wrapper that covered her body. Clifford yanked it off and delightfully stared at her voluptuous body.
Tears rolled down the young girl’s cheeks and she stared at her father with shame and self loathe.
“Hey, shush, don’t cry anymore… It’s all going to be good from now on. Look…” he pointed to the magnificent object on the table, “I will buy you all the good things I promised you.”
He quickly wrapped up the medallion, opened the back cover of the old model television in the small living room and hid the object inside. He covered the television and turned to his daughter, smiling like the pervert he was.
She had already picked up the cloth and managed to cover her privates. He slowly approached her and began to fondle her body.
Angela shivered in disgust fearfully pushing her father’s hands away from her body, the smell of booze emanating from him was awful. She knew he was going to forcefully make love to her, all she could do was try to resist him like before and get the beating of her life. She preferred the beatings because she felt she deserved them. She hated herself for being a victim of her father’s constant molestations. And so the pummeling was the only way she could feel good about herself since she saw it as payment for being weak.
The slap landed on her face, causing her sadistic delight, then another that caused her to reel backward as she fell on the tattered seat behind her. She wished she had landed with her head on the floor. Her head deserved some pounding.
Quickly, her father pulled down his trousers and roughly penetrated her. She felt nothing. She felt no pleasure, no sensation, just hate and bitter shame as her father continued to hump her. Her mother rushed into the sitting room and began to pull away the shameless man from her daughter while she wailed in tears as usual.
This was the story of her life; a life tied to a husband who would rather sleep with his daughter than his wife.
His ecstasy was cut short by her interference and this infuriated him. He turned around swiftly and gripped her thin neck with his right palm. His eyes were murderous as he continued to tighten his grip. She fought hard to breathe, gasping, as she felt life gradually drain from her body. Then, he forcefully pushed her into the wall behind her. The impact was fatal enough to break her neck.
Thinking she had finally giving up fighting with him, Clifford went back to his daughter who lay unclad on the floor, just staring at her parents fight with dispassionate eyes.
In a few minutes, he was through with her. Then he pulled up his pants and looked disgustingly at the limp body of his wife on the floor. With nothing more than a cursory glance, he walked out of the house, his body needing to ingest more alcohol; deciding to come back later to have more of the little girl.
Angela continued to stare into space for about five minutes and then she stood up and made to walk out of the sitting room. Something about the way her mum laid on the floor was unusual. She bent over to her and tried to pull her up when suddenly it dawned on her that her mum was dead. She screamed. The scream was the first word that had come out of the abused girl’s lips in the last two years.
Okon and John went to a local bar somewhere in the remote area of Lugbe- the owner of the bar provided rooms for prostitutes who rented it for their daily business. By 5pm, both men were already drunk to stupor and decided to crown the day’s fun by patronizing the prostitutes who had been walking around half unclad. The men thought it would be fun if both of them slept with one girl at the same time.
So in their drunken state, they entered one of the small rooms that were built with mud and grass. The lady inside welcomed them. Two men meant more money.
“How much you go collect?” Okon asked in Pidgin English, alcohol reeking from his breath. John was behind him, trying very hard to remain balanced.
“Two of una na one thousand five hundred,” she replied. She didn’t even think she was worth that price, not with all the stretched marks on her aged body. She was almost the same age with the men and that was why she was truly grateful for the alcohol in their system.
“Oya commot your cloth sharp sharp,” John’s rough tone vibrated through the room. He just wanted to have sex with her and get it over with. He only wished they had hung out in their environment, that way they would easily find their way home after their escapade.
Soon Okon was atop her and humping her.
The prostitute only hoped that the drunk wouldn’t collapse on her; his entire weight was on her body. She waited patiently for him to finish, looking towards the ceiling while chewing fiercely on the bubble gum in her mouth like it was more fun than what the drunk was doing to her. Just then, she noticed a cloud of black smoke forming above her, close to the ceiling. At first it was confusing and she attributed it to her failing sense of vision. But the smoke got darker and thicker and it began to look and feel scary.
She began to claw at the drunk atop her, “Wait, there is something…”she started.
“Shut up and stay one place,” the drunk responded.
“Please, wait, please there is something in the air,” her eyes shuttling between the two men such that the other drunk was forced to look up in confusion.
Enveloped in rising fear, she didn’t even notice that the drunk on her had reached climax and was jerking faster in response to the pleasure he had successfully worked up.
The smoke had divided itself into two, thick black smoky balls. Then to her utter amazement, the two lumps of smoke pierced their way into the two men through their eyes and disappeared. The man on her was sitting up when this happened.
It felt like everything in the room suddenly came to a stop, but in the actual sense it was the two men who stood motionless, staring into nothing. The prostitute knew something diabolical was in the air. ‘Escape’ was the only thought her wizened mind telegraphed to her body. She may have seemed a worthless prostitute to others, but her life was still very much of value to her. If not, why then would she torment herself by involving in this degrading profession just to keep body and soul together?
In less than 10 seconds, she had flung the man atop her away and sped out of the building naked.
‘Wow, that was insane’, thought Mfon as she finished up with the chapter. Saint’s imagination definitely ran wilder than she could imagine.
She intended to finish typing the scripts and upload it on the internet that evening.
So she continued.
Inspector Lucky Bolaji looked first from the dead woman to her daughter, and then back again. Nothing seemed to make any sense. The girl was an absolute vegetable. The neighbors had said she was just 14 years of age but she looked like a 17 year old; a confused 17 year old who was probably deaf as well as dumb.
“Where is your father?” Lucky asked her again.
No response. She just continued to sway her body back and forth while she stared blankly at her dead mother. Nothing on her face indicated she was even aware of the presence of the policeman.
The inspector would have suspected that this strange child had something to do with the death of her mother if not that the neighbors in the area had informed him that the girl’s father was an abusive sadist whom they all considered dangerous. They had also hinted him that the father was sleeping with her. This information had driven him to call a nongovernmental organization that specialized in the rehabilitation of abused women and children. He was sure they could handle the girl better since he had no idea of what to do with her .Leaving the girl to herself, he went out of the building.
The neighborhood reeked of poverty. Looking around, he was sure that people who lived here were already used to this sort of ear tingling news, such as was the case between Clifford and his family. It was a slum, the slum of Lugbe and everyone who lived here was poor and classless. This place bred the criminals and hoodlums who disturbed the people who lived in the better parts of Lugbe. A lot of evil and atrocity happened here, some were reported to the police and some were not.
Was the girl really dumb? The neighbours said she had been like this for the past two years. They were even quite surprised to hear her scream and that was why they responded. They had said the scream was different. He couldn’t understand why they had chosen not to inform the Law about the constant molestation and violence Clifford meted out on his family. The inspector shrugged, he could guess why people here always minded their business. They were already used to evil.
Soon a bus with the inscription ‘Society for Women and Children’ pulled over and a pretty, young lady came out. Lucky thought looking at her, that she could not be a day above 24. She walked straight to him.
“Good evening Inspector, I’m sorry for the delay in response, we had difficulty in locating this area.” There was a note of confidence in her voice that reassured the Inspector. He felt at ease with her decent and professional mien.
They both entered the building and she went straight to the girl. She sat down gently beside her and touched the little girl’s shoulder.
“Hello, my name is Sandra,” she said softly. Turning to look at the Inspector, she directed the question at him, “What’s her name?”
“Angela,” the inspector replied.
The body on the floor was now wrapped in a body bag in preparation to be taken away.
“Angela, don’t worry, you will be okay. I will take care of you from now on; you have no need to fear any longer,” Sandra continued.
The girl gently leaned on Sandra and tears began to roll down her eyes.
It was like a miracle and Inspector Lucky was impressed.
“This is a case of severe abuse. Look at her face, she has been constantly, severely beaten and molested by her father and this has caused her to shut herself out from reality. All I see from the look on her face is self hate and shame.”
“You can tell all that by just mere looking at her?” the inspector asked.
“Yes, I have treated many of these cases since I started this Foundation a year ago,” she responded.
He nodded his head, further impressed. He never even knew the Foundation was hers.
His mobile phone suddenly rang. He reached for his pocket and brought it out to check the caller. He didn’t want to be disturbed if it wasn’t something serious.
“Hello,” he answered upon seeing that it was Audu, one of his officers.
“Sir, I am afraid that there has been another murder case very close to where you are.” Officer Audu voice came over the phone.
“When did this happen and how?” Lucky asked, he was both surprised and shocked.
“I am on my way to your location to pick you up, I will fill you in on the details as we go there,” Audu responded and the line went dead.
Turning to Sandra, Lucky was brisk,“I am sorry I have to attend to another pressing matter. I will be in touch with you once I am through. I leave the child in your capable hands.”
Inspector Lucky slipped the phone into his pocket.
“Sure, I’ll take her to the General Hospital for check up, she needs to leave this environment if her recuperation is to begin.”
“Alright,” addressing some junior officers around, Lucky took charge, “You guys, clear the scene but leave a few officers on the watch just in case her father comes home.” With that he walked out of the room.
Sandra turned her attention back to the little girl, “Alright sweetheart, I am going to take you out of here, go inside and get your clothes.”
Like a robot, the girl stood up and entered the room. It was a one bedroom apartment; the small sitting room had been her sleeping chambers all her life. She came out with a small polythene bag that contained a few clothes.
Sandra stood up and made as if to lead her outside, but Angela suddenly stopped and walked towards the television on the small shelf. She opened the back, removed the wrapped cloth. Leaving the television partially dismantled, she strode out of the house without looking back.
“What is that?” Sandra asked curiously as she led the girl out of the room.
But Angela didn’t say a word as she put the wrapped object into her bag. It was unexpectedly heavy so she carried the bag with two hands.
They got into the bus and were driven away.
The prostitute had been given something to cover her naked body as cops and observers alike moved from one end to the other. She had not gone back into the room since she ran out but those that had entered had reported that the sight inside was something words could not explain.
The day was almost getting dark when Inspector Lucky and Officer Audu arrived.
“Where is the girl? Lucky asked as soon as he got down from the police vehicle.
“Over there,” said one of the officers who had arrived earlier, pointing towards the prostitute.
Lucky went straight to her, “How are you doing young lady?”
The lady looked up at him and shook her head sorrowfully; Lucky took it to mean that she was alright.
“Do you think you can speak?” he asked gently.
She nodded her head. “I was with the two men when I noticed a cloud of black smoke just below the ceiling, it was so black and thick that I became scared and tried to run away but the man on… the man with me wasn’t easy to get rid of. Then I saw the cloud enter into the both of them through their eyes and disappeared. They remained motionless until I ran out. Now, I’m told that they are both lying dead in the room.”
“Cloud?” Lucky asked, surprised that she could speak English so well.
She nodded in response.
Lucky decided to go and check the room for himself.
What he saw was gory- something had blown their heads off from their bodies. The man on the bed was lying headless in a thick puddle of blood on the small bed. The flow was so much that he could feel it drip from under the bed. It was impossible to even step into the room with the pool of blood on the floor. The wall was splattered with the blood which must have been as a result of some sort of head explosion.
He just couldn’t believe his eyes. It wasn’t possible from physical evidence surrounding him that the lady prostitute outside could have done this. Yet, he had to believe that there must be some sort of explanation to this scene. Now, it fell onto him to unravel the mystery of the “thick black cloud” the prostitute spoke about, that is, if it existed.
Struggling to keep the contents of his stomach down, he left the bloody scene before he could throw up and walked back to the lady prostitute.
“Did anybody see anything?” he asked the two policemen beside her.
“No, all we have is her testimony, apparently that was her room and so it makes sense that she was the only one that witnessed whatever happened there,” one of the officers informed him.
For the first time in his fifteen years as a police officer, he didn’t have any idea about the next move to make. But, he was almost certain that whatever killed those two men was pure evil, be it human or phenomenal.
His boys were looking up to him for the next instruction. God, he just wished he was in their shoes right now.
“Alright, there is obviously not much we can do about the situation on ground. Audu, I want you to lead the investigation… find out if anybody knows these two men. The lady said they were drunk, talk to the waiter here and find out anything about them.” To some other officers lurking around, he said “Get the police doctor to examine the body and give me a full report on what must have caused a head explosion, it could be what they ate, you never can tell. Let the scene not be touched until after the forensic squad has done a detailed analysis of the room. I want to know if there was someone else there too. Ensure that the whole environment is properly secured, I don’t want anything interfering with the crime scene.” He looked at the lady, “Take her to the police clinic, she definitely needs to speak to a professional, we might still need to talk to her tomorrow when her head is clear. Audu, assign someone to her.”
“Yes sir!” the policemen all chorused.
With that, he walked into one of the police vehicles around and an officer drove him off. He was so sure he was going to have terrible dreams that night.
After he left his house, Clifford took a commercial bike to Club 1, one of the most popular bars and club in Federal Housing, Lugbe. The area was quite far from the slum he lived in with his family. He just wanted to have a feel of wealth; it always gave him something to dream about.
Besides, he really needed to ingest more alcohol.
He paid the commercial biker with a five hundred naira note, asking him to keep the change. He got into the bar, ordered a bottle of big stout, and decided to call his merchant friend.
He brought out his mobile phone, dialed the number and put the phone up to his left ear, looking around as he listened to the caller tune.
“Hello, I just want to inform you that I have got the gold,” Clifford went directly to the point once the merchant answered the call.
“Very good,” came the voice on the other end. “Please, make sure we see first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Alright, one more thing,” Clifford hurried to add. “The price has gone up to ten million. Take it or leave it.”
There was silence for some minutes while Clifford prayed that he wouldn’t refuse this new proposal.
“Let’s talk about that tomorrow; I believe we will come to an agreement.” The merchant replied.
“You will not see me if you do not accept this new proposal.” Clifford insisted boldly.
There was a short laugh from the other end, “Alright, I will pay ten million to you tomorrow once I confirm that the object is original.”
“It is, trust me… see you tomorrow then.” He cut the line and suddenly felt like screaming. He gulped down the content of the bottle in front of him and ordered another one. Despite his rising euphoria, he wasn’t enjoying drinking alone and wished Okon and John were here with him.
Perhaps he should just hang out with a lady. He called the bar man’s attention and the young lad responded quickly.
“Can you get me a lady to hang out with right now? I will give you something if you deliver.”
The boy smiled and nodded his head without saying a word. He was used to such requests.
In the next thirty minutes, a very beautiful lady walked up to Clifford’s table and sat down beside him.
“Heard you are in need of my service,” she said in a musical tune.
Clifford was on his third bottle. He intended to get really drunk, “What do you want to drink?” he asked in a slurred voice.
“I don’t want to take anything… do you have a hotel room? I have one if you don’t.” she replied, direct and straight to the point.
He quickly finished up the beer in front of him, paid for his drink, leaving a huge tip for the barman and walked away with the girl.
Hours later he found himself in a strange hotel room, with the girl applying make up on her face whilst seated on the bed. She wore a wide smile.
“I thought you wouldn’t wake up, thank God you have ‘cos I have to go out for the night,” she said.
He wasn’t sure if he actually made love to her because he couldn’t remember anything. Anyway, he thought to himself, he had Angela at home to make up for that.
“How much am I to pay you?”
“Five thousand naira,” she responded.
‘Mmm, rich men do not complain,’ he thought and reached for his pants that were lying somewhere on the floor.
Just then, a thick cloud of smoke began to form just below the ceiling. Thinking something was burning despite the strange and fearful sight of the smoke, the lady by his side ran out of the room to alert the hotel attendants leaving Clifford all alone in the room wondering what the thick enigmatic cloud was all about.
Mfon had a great time reading while typing the manuscript. She wished there was more of the story to type. It was a great story and she was sure members of the online forum she was about to upload it onto would love it and ask for more. And if they liked it that much, she thought, that would motivate Saint to finish up the story.
She was just about to re-read what she typed when her mobile phone vibrated on the table. It was Saint.
“Hi” she answered.
“Hi, are you already back from church?” he asked.
She instantly picked up her wristwatch on the table, 10.45am. “Oh God, I totally forgot. I have been so engrossed typing and reading your story that I didn’t even remember today was Sunday. I will make it up with an evening Mass.”
“Are you trying to tell me that the story is that interesting?”
“Interesting? It is a classic. I didn’t know you had been to Abuja before.”
He was glad she liked it, “No, just some names I have heard from friends. I don’t really know why I felt it necessary to use Abuja. But I guess I am doing a great job since you like it.”
“I really love it even though it is sort of scary. I never figured you out as someone who could think along that line, you sure are full with surprises.”
“You can’t tell a book by its cover they say. Alright girl, please ensure you go for evening Mass. I already feel guilty that it is my fault that you didn’t go to church.”
“I’ll just upload the story online, and do some house chores before evening. I will definitely go to church this evening.”
“Take care then,” he said and ended the call.
Quickly she connected her laptop to the internet and inserted her Airtel Modem. Then she opened the Nairaland web page, went straight to the literature section and began to upload the story as she carefully proofread for errors.
Once she was through, she shut down her laptop and prepared herself for the rest of the day.
Author’s contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 08027410088