Uyo (Real time)
As a final year student, Saint had very few lectures to attend because of his final project. The final year students in his department had already been asked to submit their project topics for approval. School was less hectic these days and Saint was enjoying every bit of it.
He had only one lecture to attend on Mondays; a one hour lecture that started by 12 noon.
Mfon on the other hand was a two hundred level student and had to attend GST by 9am every Monday morning at the school pavilion.
She was surprised to see Saint approach her after her lecture by 10am.
“Were you waiting for me all these while?” she asked.
He was almost carried away by how smart she looked that morning. She was all business like in a white fitted long-sleeved blouse tucked in a black tight skirt. The skirt was just a little above her knee and revealed the curves of her lower body. She looked beautiful.
“No, my timing was simply perfect. You look beautiful.” His eyes travelled all over her as he spoke.
“You look good too, what is it with everybody dressing all official like on Mondays?” he was wearing a blue shirt tucked into a plain black trouser.
“I don’t know, maybe because Mondays are usually taken very serious. When is your next lecture?”
They were walking towards the football field and passing by the photographers.
“My next lecture will be by 12. Oh Saint, your story was tight. I can’t wait to finish it. I posted it on Nairaland and everybody is asking for more. You need to see the comments that it is generating. They think the writer is a genius.”
He almost laughed at her excitement. He didn’t think the story was that interesting. He searched through the books in his left hand and brought out five sheets of paper.
“After speaking with you yesterday, I got motivated to write some more, so you can add this to what you have posted.”
“Great!” she almost screamed as she snatched the papers from him. “You have just made my day. I will definitely type and upload this today.”
“So when will I see what people are saying about the story online? I want to be sure that you are really telling me the truth,” he said.
She stashed the papers into her bag. “I was thinking of inviting you home… perhaps tomorrow?”
“Okay,” replied Saint. He saw one of his photographer friends and waved at him.
“The two of you deserve to be snapped,” the photographer called out to them. “Why don’t you allow me give you a shot?”
Saint looked at Mfon and they both smiled. “Let’s do it,” he said and held her by the waist while guiding her towards the photo stand.
While they were posing to be snapped, Saint saw Linda, his ex-love coming towards them. She was pretty but Mfon was prettier. Saint idly wondered why he had allowed himself to be a fool for her love.
Drawing Mfon even closer as Linda walked by, he let out a bright smile; he really wanted the girl who had called him a loser to see that he had game.
But Linda walked by like she didn’t care.
“Stop staring at her,” Mfon interrupted his thoughts. “She’s not worth the stress.”
Saint shrugged and brought his attention back to the girl that had given him the best two weeks of his entire life in the University of Uyo.
Abuja (real time)
Inspector Lucky had barely entered his office when Officer Audu followed on his heels to give him a report on the previous day’s case. He had decided to check up on Angela who had been admitted in General hospital situated in the heart of Abuja.
The girl had not yet said a word since yesterday and he was surprised that Sandra still had hopes that she would come around.
“She will be here for at least one week, after which I will have our therapist attend to her. Any word from her father?”
“Not yet, I am really unhappy that such a man is walking free on the streets of Abuja; he is nothing but a monster,” replied Lucky.
“I am more concerned for the pretty girl. She has gone through so much in the hands of her own father. She might have witnessed her father beat her mum to death too,” continued Sandra.
The policeman didn’t fail to notice how passionate she was about the girl’s situation. It was like she took it very personal. “It is really a pity, I just can’t imagine,” he agreed.
“I know what it feels like” she said, “I had a traumatic childhood too.” She suddenly shrugged, and looked up at him, “Just make sure you get that monster.”
“I will do my best,” he had replied and walked out of the hospital.
‘Mr. Clifford must really be sick,’ thought Lucky. ‘I wonder where the psychopath might be at this very moment.’
His heart was full of pity for the young girl. His first and only son was just 7months old and as a father, he would rather protect his child than cause him hurt in any way. What was this world turning to?
The drive from the hospital to Lugbe Police Headquarters was a mind boggling one. The murder scene he had seen at the local brothel still haunted him. He waited expectantly for Audu’s discovery to about the two dead men.
As soon as Abdul entered his office and sat down, Lucky blurted out, “Spill it.”
“It is definitely a hard one, Sir,” began Audu. “No one was familiar with the two men. The waiter admitted serving their table but he didn’t see anyone else come to their table; neither did they order for any other thing but booze.” Audu reported.
“Perhaps they ate something before coming to the bar…” Lucky suggested.
“Well, the doctor’s autopsy didn’t reveal that they ate anything harmful to the body before visiting the bar. Further investigation did not reveal that there was any other person in the room before or during the incident.”
“Could the prostitute be telling the truth?” Lucky asked with uncertainty.
Audu just shook his head in confusion.
“Any news on Clifford’s where abouts?” the inspector further inquired.
“Nothing yet Sir.
Both cops remained silent for a while, ruminating on all the information that had been gleaned. Inspector Lucky felt confident that Clifford would be caught. Posters of his image had been pasted everywhere around Lugbe axis. His crime would definitely touch the hearts of the citizens and he was sure they wouldn’t hesitate to give him up once he was seen. It was just a question of time.
The death of the two strange men still remained something of concern to him. What if it occurred again?
The vibration of his BlackBerry interrupted this train of thought. It was his journalist friend, Rotimi. Lucky just remembered that they were supposed to hang out the weekend before. He was also sure that the journalist would complain about not getting firsthand information on the deaths in Lugbe from him.
“Rotimi, I’m sorry I didn’t see you during the weekend as promised, I…”
“That’s okay, Inspector. I had to call you because of something important I discovered.”
“Something important you discovered?” Lucky sat up as he repeated the last part of his friend’s statement. “What could that be?”
“I spent the better part of yesterday evening reading a story on an online forum. The story was uploaded yesterday and it is an interesting one. However, while reading this morning paper, I came across the case you have been handling since yesterday on the three murders that took place in Lugbe district. Believe me, it was like I was reading the online story all over again.”
“What are you talking about?” Lucky didn’t really think this was something important.
“The story online is an exact replica of what you went through yesterday… just that the story online is more detailed. It answered the question I noticed you couldn’t answer while reading your comment on the paper. Your name and that of every other important person involved in the case was also mentioned.”
Inspector Lucky adjusted himself on his seat. He couldn’t understand what was really getting his friend so worked up; he thought it was his duty to calm the man on the other end down.
“Perhaps the story was posted by a journalist who covered the case,” he started.
“Listen to me Lucky, I want you to take whatever I am telling you very seriously. The section of that forum is where people post their self written stories and not where they report news or events. The writer gave a detailed description of how Clifford killed his wife and molested his daughter. He also established a relationship between Clifford and the two dead men at the brothel of which I am sure you have no idea that the three men all knew each other…not only knew each other, but actively worked together.”
Inspector Lucky almost laughed at his friend. “There is no relationship between Clifford and the three men or are you trying to tell me that Clifford also killed them?”
“Well, from the story I read yesterday, Clifford didn’t kill them rather he will soon die by the dark smoke that killed his friends.” Rotimi replied.
“Yes, those men were partners-in-crime with Clifford, in fact, they had just stolen a Golden artifact from a monastery in Akwa Ibom State and this resulted in their deaths. Their names are Okon and John and they live in Gwagwalada.” The journalist explained.
Lucky was beginning to get interested, “I am listening.”
“The black smoke the prostitute talked about was a manifestation of the demon that has something to do with the Golden medallion. The writer has not yet explained how exactly the evil spirit is connected with the object, but I am positive that all these will be revealed in subsequent stories.”
“I still find this hard to believe or understand. Where is the artifact?”
“It is with his daughter, she took it along with her before leaving the house with Sandra. He father hid it inside that old television in the sitting room before molesting her and she saw it.”
The was silence in the other end ,then, “Look inspector, I also find what I am telling you very ridiculous, you can imagine how shocked I was when I realized that the story I read was happening here in real time.”
“I still think that it is not a story…”
“How then do you explain the medallion or can you explain how the men were killed? The prostitute talked about a cloud of smoke… can you explain that? Do you think she was lying? Okay, if you doubt me, go right away to Club 1 and ask the bar man about a man to whom he gave a call girl yesterday. It was a huge man who was drinking big stout all alone before he told the bar man to get him a girl; the girl left with Clifford, I guess he knows where she stays because he called her for Clifford. She also witnessed the presence of the dark smoke in her room last night and ran out leaving Clifford in the room. I guess he should be dead by now. You can also call the pretty Sandra, and ask her if she saw Angela take a wrapped object from the television along with her when they left the room.
“Alright I will get back to you.”
Rotimi sounded sure of himself. The man had given some details about the case that made sense. ‘A medallion?’ Lucky thought. He had never heard of a monastery in Akwa Ibom State. This case was getting weirder and weirder. He stood up, put his mobile phone in his pocket, addressing Audu, said, “Let us go to Club 1, I have a lead I want to follow.” He said to Officer Audu who couldn’t wait to hear the details of the call. He was sure it was something serious or strange because his boss’s countenance said it all.
Lucky brought his mobile phone out of his pocket as he approached the door; he was going to give Sandra a call.
When Clifford woke up that morning around 9.30am, he found out that he was still alone and he felt different. He wasn’t even sure if he was Clifford any longer. Yes there was definitely something strange about him.
He felt energized and younger, like he was a twenty year old man living in a forty year old body. It was like he saw and understood his environment or the world at large from a different point of view. Again, it felt like there was another person living in him.
Perhaps it was the excess intake of alcohol yesterday, he thought.
“Don’t be silly, alcohol does not energize you.” A voice said to him.
He quickly looked around; he was the only one in the room. The voice came from him. Did he actually hear anything? Did he say anything?
He fell back to the bed and began to think. Yes, the smoke! It had all found its way into his eyes and disappeared. But he didn’t feel strange when it happened.
He remembered that the lady with him had returned with some attendants after running away and they thought she was crazy because he confirmed that there was absolutely no dark smoke in the air.
But why did he deny it? Didn’t he see it?
Yet, he liked the way he felt. The strength was amazing.
He stood up from the bed and walked out of the room and out of the hotel. I can’t wait to get my golden medallion, he thought.
As he walked, he felt like he was walking on air. Then he felt hungry. He checked his pocket but had nothing on him. He couldn’t even remember what happened to all the money that was in his pocket yesterday, but eat he must.
He walked out of the hotel environment and began to look around for a restaurant. The people around him seemed like lost kids, why did he think he was a lord over them?
Soon he stumbled across one restaurant; it had the name “Mama Calabar”. It looked clean and decent; perhaps he should go in and eat.
He entered the restaurant and made himself comfortable at one of the empty tables. It was almost 11am and there seemed to be few people interested in coming in to eat.
It wasn’t hard for the attendants and few customers to notice how carelessly the big man had walked in and sat down.
One of the female attendants reluctantly walked up to his table to attend to him.
“Get me two plates of fufu! Hurry, I am hungry.” Clifford growled at her. He felt so hungry, he could eat her. “Hurry!”
The girl left and returned three minutes later with his order. She didn’t allow his behavior to get at her; she was already used to arrogant customers.
He suddenly became a subject of interest for everyone in the restaurant, a customer requesting for two places of fufu at the same time wasn’t a daily occurrence.
Clifford finished his meal before they could say ‘Jack Robinson’. He motioned to the waitress who attended to him, “Get me two more plates.”She stared at him like he was a talking donkey.
Clifford almost slammed her head on the table. Fortunately for her, she quickly snapped to attention and left his table.
She brought his order and he grabbed it from her hands, beginning to eat the food even before she dropped the plates on the table. He was acting like an animal.
He finished eating, washed his hands, stood up and began to leave.
“Sir!” the lady attendant called, “You have not paid for the food.”
Clifford turned around and looked at her, “I know, I am not stupid or do you think I am stupid?”
The manager who was almost as big as Clifford came charging at him. He had been watching Clifford since he entered and already suspected that he will be trouble.
“Excuse me Sir, you must pay for the food you have just eaten. This is not a charity organization.” He was younger than Clifford and felt he could take on the older man. He had handled people like him before.
But while he was sizing Clifford up, the older man had already clutched him on the neck and pinned him to the wall close by. His feet were dangling helplessly above the ground. It was so swift that even Clifford couldn’t believe himself.
Everybody else looked on silently, frozen to a spot.
His eyes were locked onto the Manager’s and the Manager saw clouds of dark smoke cover his eyes and disappear within a second.
“Do you still want me to pay?”
The man managed to shake his head. Clifford took that to mean No.
He released his grip, allowing the man crumble to a heap on the floor and walked out of the restaurant towards the slum he lived.
Ten wraps of marijuana wouldn’t give him the feeling he was experiencing at the moment.
He got to his destination an hour later. His heart beat faster as he approached the house. He couldn’t wait to get hold of his medallion. He didn’t understand the strong urge to see the object; it was like his life depended on it.
Then, he noticed how people stared at him, averting their eyes from his. Most of them were his neighbors. Something was wrong.
He became more observant as he approached his home so he was able to spot the cops that were hanging around his apartment.
He couldn’t for the life of him fathom why cops would be in his house and why the neighbours looked at him with such strong aversion and fear.
Well, he was going to confront the cops and find out what they wanted. While he was deciding how best to approach them, the police officers drew out their guns- they were four in number.
“Stop right there Mr. Clifford,” the nearest one commanded.
“What is the meaning of all these?” Clifford demanded.
“You are under arrest for the murder of your wife and abuse of your daughter. You have to follow us to the station,” the same officer said.
“My wife? Is this a joke or something? And where is my daughter? Where is Angela? Where is my medallion?”
Medallion!!! He heard the strange scream in his head; it was so loud that he thought his head was going to explode.
He rushed straight into the building, shoving aside the cops by the door. They didn’t expect this from him, one of the cops succeeded in taking a shot but the bullet flew just above his head.
Clifford was surprisingly fast. He entered the building and went straight to the television. Taken aback, he realized that the back cover had been left half opened. He tore it apart only to see that the medallion was not there.
He screamed. It was an eerie sound.
He looked behind him and saw the four cops pointing their guns at him.
He stretched his neck left and right causing it to make a loud cracking sound as black smoke came out of his eyes.
Something about the smoke held the cops immobile while Clifford walked into the kitchen and brought out a kitchen knife. He took his time and slashed them all to pieces. The dark smoke filled the room, some coming out of his eyes, nostrils and ears.
After the gruesome act, he sat on the lump of fleshes scattered all over, breathing hard in spent rage.
He had enjoyed every bit of the murder but now that his blood lust was satiated, he realized just how much trouble he was in. He looked around the smoke filled room with the bloody knife still in his hand.
“What are you? What do you want with me? What in the world have you made me do?” he yelled at the smoke.
A mean ugly face formed in the smoke, “I am Ghaoul, the god of the underworld.” The voice was raspy, it was faint to the outer ear but quite clear to the inner sense organs, “Your evil touch unleashed me when you stole the medallion.”
“My friends stole it not me…”
“You are all the same thing… as evil as I am only with less power. I need to return to the godly realm and that medallion is the key and the door. I need you to help me get the medallion,” the voice stated authoritatively.
“Oh my God! The medallion, what…”
“I possessed you because you are as evil as I am, you are the perfect host. So together we will get the medallion.”
Suddenly the smoke began to find its way into Clifford through every opening in his body and within a second, the room was as clear as crystal.
Clifford became energized once again. He stood up, went into the room, changed his clothes and walked out of the bloody room.
Inspector Lucky tried Sandra’s number one more time, just before Officer Audu pulled over in front of Club 1. It was midday and there were few people at the bar.
Lucky stashed the phone into his bosom pocket and stepped out of the police vehicle. He wondered why Sandra’s number was not reachable; perhaps she was in a meeting.
The inspector was yet to fully grasp what Rotimi had been talking about. He was aware that his journalist friend had a passion for reading and writing as well as an active imagination. He’d never had any reason to think that the young man was a superstitious fellow neither had he ever thought he was a bit out of touch with reality. If anything, Rotimi was the sanest and most sensible person he had ever met. He sometimes even wished his friend was a cop, turning his logical and rational mind towards sleuthing activities.
He gave Audu the details of their discussion earlier in the office and the junior officer made two suggestions. One, they follow the lead Rotimi had given them since they had nothing to lose; and two, find the identity of the online writer.
Together, the two cops walked into the building; heading straight for the bar and spoke with the barman.
“Good day young man, we would like to speak with the attendants who served the customers here yesterday, male attendants to be precise.”
Lucky didn’t need to introduce himself as a cop, his uniform spoke louder than words.
“I was the only one here yesterday Sir, I served all the customers,” the chubby, young boy replied.
Audu briefly wondered why and how it was possible that only one person serviced the customers in such a big and well known club as Club 1… but that wasn’t why he was there.
“Okay then. I guess you must have attended to a well-built man who drank big stout by himself yesterday. He later asked you to get a call girl for him and you did,” Audu continued.
‘I will be damned if this boy admits to what Audu is saying,’ Lucky thought to himself.
“Yes, of course” the boy quickly replied. “I’m sure you are talking about the man who left here yesterday with Lucy.”
Both Lucky and Abdul couldn’t believe their ears. So their speculations were true after all?
“Lucy is the call girl you brought for him?” asked Lucky.
The boy nodded in agreement.
“Do you have any idea where they went to?”
“No, but most times Lucy prefers taking her men to her hotel room. Is everything okay?”
“When last did you hear from her?” Audu retaliated without bothering to answer the question.
“I have not spoken with her since they left,” the boy answered nonchalantly.
“Okay, how do we locate her hotel? And give us her cell phone number too.” Lucky requested.
Audu handed over his phone to the young man to key in the number.
“She stays at Grimmy Hotel, the attendants know her,” the bar boy said as he handed the phone back to them.
“Thank you,” both cops chorused as they headed out of the building.
The boy stared after them thoughtfully. He only hoped something bad had not happened to Lucy, he would feel guilty if his friend turned out hurt.
Grimmy Hotel situated in the heart of Lugbe, was a four minute drive from Club 1. The drive down there was a silent one as both cops were deep in pensive thought. All of Rotimi’s information had checked out thus far, they were almost sure that another dead body would turn up today just as he had predicted, and that body would be Clifford’s.
Heading to the reception, Lucky addressed the receptionists, “We want to speak with Miss Lucy; we believe she is lodged here.”
Inspector Lucky went straight to the point. He wanted to confirm Rotimi’s information and then call him and ask what the hell was happening.
The two female receptionists looked at themselves and the cops instantly knew something was up.
“What’s that?” Lucky asked.
“Lucy is not yet back and her number has not been going through. The management has been looking to speak with her because she raised a false alarm about seeing a strange thing in her room last night,” one of the receptionists said.
“False alarm? Was she alone in the room? What exactly happened?” Audu asked.
The girls looked at themselves, then the second girl spoke up, “Actually officers, we were not on night duty and are not in the right position to give you details of what happened here last night. Why don’t you speak with our manager? That is his office over there,” she concluded pointing to a door on the left side of the hall.
Inspector Lucky led his partner into the office.
The man behind the desk looked much too young to be a hotel manager. He was very slim but neatly dressed and his office was equally very neat.
He asked the cops to sit down like he had been expecting them all day.
“What exactly happened in Lucy’s room last night?” the inspector asked in a businesslike manner.
The Manager looked at them suspiciously. Why were they asking questions about Lucy? What had she done? How did they know she raised a false alarm last night? He sighed before opening his lips to speak, “She caused an unnecessary commotion last night. I almost lost all my customers who lodged here last night. I wonder where she is… does she know the kind of bad image the scene she created…”
“What happened here last night,” Lucky sternly cut in.
The manager sighed again. What was this all about? “She came in here with a man in the evening as usual. Then later in the night, she ran out of her room screaming like she had just seen an apparition. She said she saw a thick cloud of black smoke in her room. Mehn, you need to have heard how frightful her scream was, she alerted the entire lodgers.” He shook his head in amazement while he spoke.
“You think she was lying?” Audu asked.
“I think she was insane. Probably she had had too much to drink and was hallucinating.”
“What about the man she came with, what did he say about the smoke?” Lucky inquired.
“The man didn’t say a thing. He was lying quietly and peacefully on the bed when we responded to her disturbance. He didn’t even know what was wrong with her neither did he see any cloud of smoke.”
This was a deviation from Rotimi’s predictions. Perhaps the journalist or the story teller already heard about the incident in the hotel before uploading the story online. But wasn’t the story way too detailed to pass off as coincidence? How did the writer get this much detail within the short time frame all the events took place? How did he establish the relationship between Clifford and the dead men? How did he get details about Clifford’s movements and indeed, how did he know how he, Inspector Lucky felt about Sandra?
There were so many questions in the Inspector’s mind, so many unanswered questions. Who in the world was this writer?
“Can you please describe the man and tell us what happened to him?” Abdul began.
“He was a big man, should be about 39 or 40yrs old, I thought he looked somehow dangerous. There was something careless about the way he walked and carried himself like he didn’t give a damn about what anybody thought of him. You know, he slept alone in the room and left this morning around 11am like he was not sure of himself.”
The officers stood up to leave, “Thank you very much for your co-operation. We will be in touch again, please do communicate with us if you feel the need to.”
He dropped his card and walked out of the office with Audu.
“Why do I want to believe that she actually saw a cloud of smoke? Am I being influenced by what Rotimi told me?” Lucky was saying as he opened the car door. He dialled Sandra’s number. This time around, it rang.
“Hey, I have been trying your number all day, how is the girl doing?” Lucky said, glad that he could finally reach her.
“Sorry, I had a flat battery. She’s fine.”
“Did you notice Angela pick up anything from the back of the TV when you were leaving the house with her yesterday? I mean something wrapped in a piece of cloth?”
“Yes she did exactly that. She kept it in her bag, I tried to inquire from her what it was but you know how she is,” Sandra responded.
“Err, was anyone there with you at the time you left the room with her?”
There was silence for a few seconds and Lucky could tell that she had cast her mind to that evening in a bid to recollect the events.
After a long pause, she said, “Just one of the cops you left behind.”
“Okay, just keep a close eye on her, her father is still on the loose and he might want to contact her. Besides, whatever she took from the TV might be of interest. Just make sure she does not lose it. Anyway, I will see you soon.”
Immediately he ended that conversation, another call came through.
“Hello?” he started.
“Sir, we just got report that all the policemen watching out for Clifford have been butchered in his sitting room.”
“What!! I am on my way there right away! Send me backup immediately!”
“Alright Sir.” And the line went dead.
“Let’s go to Clifford’s house, there’s been a report that the men I assigned to watch out for him have been killed.”
Officer Audu kick started the engine and under five minutes, they had reached their destination.
Inspector Lucky had a gloomy foreboding that he was about to witness something beyond what his mind could handle given the way observers on the crime scene were reacting.
He stepped down from the car and was approached by a fellow policeman. Lucky was impressed to see that there already were so many of them.
“How did it happen?” Lucky questioned as he hurried towards the apartment. Audu followed closely behind.
“Eye witnesses confirmed that Clifford came back, found his way into the house and murdered all the cops when they trailed him into the room, presumably to arrest him.”
“How could one man murder four armed men?” ‘Everything was getting out of hand,’ the Inspector thought as he spoke.
“We are yet to understand that Sir,” the cops said, continuing quickly, “You’ll have to brace yourself for what you are about to see, Sir.”
Lucky paused at the entrance of the building motioning to Audu to follow him, he sent a questioning glance the cop’s way and mentally steeled himself for the horror within.
‘This is totally insane,’ thought both cops as they beheld the decapitated lumps of flesh. Why and indeed, how could somebody do this to a fellow human being? Wasn’t just killing them enough?
Inspector Lucky quickly left the scene, thinking that he ought to speak with Rotimi and find out if he could learn more about all these mysteries.
He dialed the number and Rotimi picked the call before it rang twice.
“Did you confirm what I told you?” Rotimi asked.
“Some, not all. Clifford is still alive, but the call girl in the hotel room obviously saw a thick black smoke in the room and alerted the attendants. Why in the hell will the black smoke kill the first two men and let Clifford live? What is this black smoke?”
“I don’t know… the writer left us in suspense, probably he will talk about that in his next upload,” Rotimi replied.
“I really need to see you and talk to you. A lot is happening. Four of my men are dead and witnesses say the killer was Clifford… did you also read about that?”
“No,” the journalist answered shocked. “I am truly sorry for …”
“Just give me an hour I will be with you. We need to talk.” Lucky terminated the call and looked around him helplessly. He was beginning to feel that this was much more than he could handle. Would he be able to stand the sight of brutally murdered people ever again?
Author’s contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 08027410988