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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Nigeria, Niger, border, policeman, Europe, Lagos, money to get across the ocean, Sahara desert, Europe by all means, blood.

Where are you go?” The policemen asked them in broken English at the border between Sokoto and Niger Republic. He had stuck his head into the Peugeot 504 wagon to identify how many Nigerians were in the vehicle. “We are traveling to Tripoli in Libya,” Chikere answered. The others nodded affirmatively. The border policeman looked intently at them. He frowned for a moment, and then asked again, “What you go there to do?” “We will be working there,” Chikere answered quickly. He looked confident and unafraid. He was well-drilled in the rudiments of border crossing. This was his third attempt. “Let me see your papers,” the policemen persisted. “What papers?” Chikere answered.

The rest of his group looked worried. They were not sure what papers the policeman was asking for. Chikere had assured them that the border between Nigeria and Niger was the easiest to cross. “We have visa. We’ll be working in Tripoli,” Chikere insisted. He opened his international passport and flashed his Libyan visa at the stubborn border policeman, who eyed the passport with little attention. “Deriva (Driver)!” He shouted. “Park on the side,” he ordered, gesturing at the driver to move aside so as not to block the flow of traffic. What is going on?” Asked Vivian, Chikere’s girlfriend. “He wants us to give him money,” Chikere replied. He got off the car and walked over to the policeman. After prolonged haggling, he dipped his hand into his right pocket, took out a wad of Niger currency and handed some notes to the policeman. No sooner than he had paid him off, they were back on their way to Niamey. The rickety vehicle dangled and shouted angrily as it negotiated dusty roads and their tarred counterparts.

There were John, Okechukwu, Olusegun, Cynthia, Ifeoma, and Nneka in addition to Chikere and Vivian. They were travelling in pairs – John and Cynthia were boyfriend and girlfriend, and so were Okechuwku and Ifeoma and Olusegun and Nneka. They all used to live in Lagos. Chikere had made it all the way to France once before being deported. The beauty of the streets of Bordeaux and Marseille had left him addicted to Europe. He had sworn to make it back to Europe by all means. His second attempt almost had him killed in the Sahara desert. This time, he is determined to make it for good. His father was on his sick bed dying. He could no longer sit and watch his family suffer in penury. He had sold off whatever he could lay his hands on to make it across to Europe. He convinced his friends on the riches that awaited them in Europe should they make it, and they too sold their businesses and other belongings to embark upon the perilous journey.

 In Niamey they met up with Yusuf. He was a tall, dark-skinned man with deep, scary scars on his face. “My friend!” He said on seeing Chikere. “Good to see you Yusuf,” Chikere replied. They hugged briefly and Chikere introduced his friends to him. Later that night, he lectured them on the dos and don’ts of crossing into Libya by traversing the mighty Sahara desert. By early morning, they bought camels on the edge of town and set off for the arduous journey. Chikere was the only one with a visa to Libya. They planned on entering the country illegally except for Chikere. They would circumvent the security hot spots and journey their way to the Mediterranean. As they went further into the desert, the intensity of the sun increased. It was as if they were in a furnace. The girls were near tears as the sun pounded their skin with unrelenting ferocity. Their water bottles were almost boiling. Chikere remained unperturbed. He was expecting this. Okechukwu and John thought of returning to Nigeria, but they were not willing to forgo the 200,000 Naira they had already paid Yusuf, not counting several other investments on the trip.

“It will get worse,” Yusuf warned them as they galloped slowly on camel backs into the scorching desert heat. “Is there anywhere we can rest?” Cynthia asked. “Not now,” Yusuf replied. “We have to keep going. This area is dangerous. We could be attacked by tribesmen. Let’s keep going. There is an oasis about 28 miles north of here. We will stop there and rest,” Yusuf explained. Vivian was sweating. She wanted to close her eyes, open them and find herself in her parents’ house in Lagos. She wanted to say something but she restrained herself. Why on earth did I sign up for this? Nneka asked herself silently. Every minute felt like a year in the baking heat. “I can’t take it anymore!” Ifeoma yelled. She was sobbing relentlessly by now.

“Stop crying,” Okechukwu tried to console her. “I don’t want to go to Europe again,” she insisted. Please, I want to rest. This sun is killing me. My water has become hot. It is like drinking boiling water. My throat is so dry,” she complained through tears. “Me too,” Nneka added. She too was crying. Olusegun and John felt like crying but they did not want to do so in front of the girls. “Please we have to stop,” John pleaded with Yusuf. “Please, we cannot stop here. It is dangerous, believe me,” Chikere insisted. “I am not sure your friends can make it my friend,” Yusuf suggested. “We no want someone to die,” Yusuf added. “There is cave not far from here. We wait for the sun go down there, and we continue. It is dangerous, but I no want someone to die,” he offered sympathetically.

They reached the cave and took refuge inside, away from the burning heat. It was hot in the cave, but not as much as being outside in the scorching sun. Nneka, Vivian, Cynthia and Ifeoma poured water over their head and lay down on the floor. The boys watched the entrance in case tribesmen struck. When the sun came down, they headed north. Before long, the desert was swallowed by darkness. Thankfully, there was a full moon, and Yusuf could tell where they were and where they were going by following the moon. “Are you sure you know where we are going?” Okechukwu asked him. “Shh!” He warned. “No talking.” Less than 2 minutes after he had warned Okechukwu to keep quiet, they were surrounded by a group of aggressive desert tribesmen. “I said it!” Chikere said. The rest of the group looked like they had seen a ghost. They were overcome with fear. The tribesmen shouted and whistled in a strange language. They lit lamps on the end of a stick and waved them at them. They had rusted swords and machetes. “Will they kill us?” Cynthia asked Yusuf.” “I don’t think so,” he replied. The tribesmen shouted at them. Only Yusuf understood what they said. He replied politely to them. After a few exchanges, he relayed their information to the group. “They want the girls, unless you give them all the money on you,” he explained. “But we need the money to pay the people that will ferry us across the sea to Europe,” Chikere reasoned. “I don’t know what tell them,” Yusuf replied.

Before they could haggle with the tribesmen, one of them jumped onto Vivian’s camel and pulled her down. He tore open her cover cloth and her dress. With frightening speed and precision, he ran his hands all over her in search of money. She was shivering with fear as his hands went all over her body. She prayed that he would leave her alive. He found a pouch hidden under her bra. He took it out and unwrapped it. It contained a lot of money. He raised it to their leader and shouted what Chikere and his friends did not understand. Quickly, the whole team was being searched including Yusuf. They took all their money and left as soon as they had arrived. Their lights went out as they rode swiftly into the darkness.

“I can take you to Libya, but you’d have to find your way from there,” Yusuf offered. “But how do we find our way to Europe from there with no money? Vivian asked hysterically. “’ knew this was a bad plan from the start,” she continued. “Then, why did you subscribe to it?” Chikere asked angrily. “This is no time for fight my friends,” Yusuf suggested. When you get to Libya, you may find work to raise the money to get across the ocean.”

Ifeoma lay on a bed with a skinny mattress. She could feel the wooden bed frame underneath the haggard mattress rubbing against her as if there was no mattress on the bed. The bed sheet was deep brown in color, but she could tell that it used to be white. She heard voices outside. They seemed to be haggling…haggling over her. Then, she felt a piercing pain on her neck. She turned, clutching her neck quickly. As she removed her hand from her neck, she felt a patch of blood on her neck and the nauseating smell of bed bug. A bug had been sucking blood from her neck. She jumped to her feet and began to examine the bed. It was a bed bug mansion. On every corner of the bed, she found lines of bed bugs matching frantically in search of blood like vampires. She could not bear to lie on that bed anymore.

As if on cue, the door flung open and a man walked in. He was very tall; about 6 feet 8 inches in height. He wore a dirty baggy trouser and a saggy, heavily stained shirt to match. He wore a malicious smile on his face that had lust written all over it. He held wad of notes in hand, which he offered to Ifeoma. She wanted to walk out of the room without saying a word to the man, but she thought of their situation. They had been living with some Nigerians in Tripoli, but since they had no visa, they could not get work legally. On the advice of their hosts, who had warned that they could not keep them any longer, the girls, Ifeoma, Vivian, Cynthia and Nneka began to sleep with men to raise money for their upkeep and hopefully, enough to pay traffickers to ferry them across to Spain or Italy.

She looked up at the man and her stomach repulsed by the thought of sleeping with him. His teeth were dark brown; rotten. His skin was scruffy and unkempt. He was probably the age of his father. In addition, the thought of lying on that bed left a sickening feeling in her stomach. Reluctantly, she took the money. The man outside had taken his cut, so she was paid directly. Slowly, she tucked the money into her purse and began to remover her clothes. The man quickly jumped out of his clothes and sat on the edge of the bed, smiling broadly. She sat on the edge of the bed next to him afraid to get into the bug infested bed. She could not look him in the eye. She felt dirty doing this…never in her wildest imagination did she ever think she’d prostitute for money.

The man placed a hand on her shoulder and motioned that she lie on her back. Slowly, she obliged. Quickly, he jumped on her and began to rock like a possessed man. His eyes were filled with excitement. She lay back unresponsive. Soon, tears drenched her eyes while his eyes glowed with intense satisfaction. Just when he climaxed, she felt another stinging bite in her side. A bed bug had gotten to her skin and was busy siphoning blood out of her. The man rolled over to her side, breathing heavily. She moved quickly and swatted the bed bug. The man looked at her and smiled, nodding his head to suggest that he had a great time. “Gud? (Good?)” He asked her in broken English. She did not answer him. He had thought that the tears that clouded her eyes were tears of satisfaction. He dangled his heavy-set body out of bed, found his clothes and rummaged through his pocket. His hand reappeared with another wad of notes. He counted a few notes out and stowed the rest in his pocket. Then, he offered Ifeoma the money, gesturing that he was still in the mood for another session.

Story continues...

Written by:
Victor Chinoo
(Based on real life accounts. Names have been changed to protect the individuals mentioned in this story).

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Nigeria, Niger, border, policeman, Europe, Lagos, money to get across the ocean, Sahara desert, Europe by all means, blood. An African Literary Blog
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