LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 8

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Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog - Gateman, Toyota Corolla, House, Parents, Pharmacy, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Wedding Gown, Wedding, London, Python, Hands, House, Gate

Chidera’s assassin watched from across the street as Nneka’s husband drove out of their compound, heading for work. He drew in a lungful of smoke from his cigarette, shutting his eyes as he sipped on it. Then, he spewed the smoke in the air. Slowly, a spurt of smoke rose above him, snaking lazily in the air. He stared at the gate from his old beat-up Toyota Corolla. A short while later, he drove up and street and then reversed, moving into another spot as he continued to look out for Nneka. After two days of watching the compound and taking note of Nneka’s routine, he decided to make his move. He had worked out that the gateman and the housel help were the only adults in the compound during day, apart from Nneka. He figured he could overpower them with his gun. 

11:00AM – He walked leisurely towards the gate. He had left his car a short distance from the gate. He whistled casually as he neared the gate, even though his heart was drumming frenziedly. Gbam!!! Gbam!!! Gbam!!! He pounded on the gate. “Who be dat? (Who is that?)” The gateman asked angrily. “Make you no destroy the gate oh!!! (Please do not destroy the gate!!!)” The gateman added as he reached for the gate. “Who you dey find? (Who are you looking for?)” He asked the assassin. “Your madam sey make I come fix im fridge (your madam has asked me to come and fix her fridge),” he explained calmly. The gateman looked him over carefully. “Where your tools dey now? (Where are your tools?)” He queried him. 

I wan see the fridge first to fin out which kin work wey I need to do. I go bring my tools when I don see the work wey I need to do (I need to see the fridge first to determine the sort of work I need to do on it. I will bring my tools afterwards)” “Okay, enter!” “Thank you. Which way?” he asked calmly as he sort to make the gateman feel more relaxed. He had been sure to remove his dark goggles and his dreadlocks were carefully tucked into a cap that masked some of his ruggedness. He had taken a long shower earlier, after which he had shaven meticulously. He even wore a perfume that hung in the air minutes after he had passed. “Kai mana, I like my fefum!!! (Wow, I like your perfume!!!)” The gateman exclaimed. “Thank you. I go give you change to buy one for yourself when I finish this work for you madam,” he replied with a smile. “Nagode aboki na! (Thank you my friend!)”

He walked leisurely to the door, pulled it open and walked into the expansive house. The house help was feeding Nneka’s child at the dining table. She was no more than fifteen. She looked up at the man walking into the house with surprise. “Is your madam at home?” He asked her. “Yes, but who are you?” Nneka was particular about whom they allowed into the compound. She had spanked the house help in the past for letting the wrong people in. “I am here to fix the fridge.” “Fridge? But our fridge is fine.” “Well, your madam said there is something wrong with it. Can I talk to her please? I have another appointment to make.” “Okay, let me call her.” The house help succumbed, carrying the baby upstairs to fetch Nneka. No sooner she had reached the first floor than the assassin raced past her just as she was knocking on the door to the master bedroom. “You are supposed to wait down there!!!” The house help shouted. The hired assassin quickly brandished a gun. He waved it at the house help who began to swallow hard as fear crept into her eyes.

Nneka’s baby began to cry as though he knew that guns were lethal. “Let him come in!!!” Nneka shouted from inside. What? The assassin wondered. She already knows I am here?  His hand shook a little bit as he opened the door. The room was dark. He entered cautiously and the house help attempted to run back downstairs, but the assassin stepped back out into the hallway and grabbed her. He pushed open the room opposite the master bedroom and pushed her in there. “If you attempt to run, I will shoot you. Where is the key?” He asked her, fixing his eyes on Nneka’s bedroom. The house help pointed at the drawer. He quickly rummaged through the draw and produced a key. He locked her and the baby in before proceeding towards the master bedroom. 

“Yasa!!!” A strange voice shouted out of nowhere. A ball of fire descended on the head and shoulders of the assassin. He felt an arm as strong as metal grabbing him, clawing down on his skin with intense pain. “Ayii!!!” He shouted with a grimace. His heart was beating fast. A ferocious slap landed on his face followed by a bitter punch to his back. He fell, sprawling on the floor, his gun flying away. It was as if an army of men was fighting him. He was dragged into the bedroom by unseen hands whose voices pierced his ears. The door shut by itself and the lights came on. “You have entered the abode of the queen of Yasa, the strongest of all the river spirits of the East. I saw you down there before you entered my world. I know who sent you,” Nneka said with a malicious smile on her face.  “I…I mean no harm,” the killer said. “And you enter my house with a gun?” Katoo!!! A massive blow fell on his face, almost disfiguring his face. He grabbed his face, which burned with pain. Then, he began to feel intense heat in his stomach. A python crawled out from under the bed. 

“Please, don’t let it kill me. Please spare my life. If not for poverty, I would not be in this line of work,” he begged for his dear life. Nneka watched coldly, her face exuded absolute calm, which instilled more fear in the assassin. The python was as large as a third of an elephant. It grew bigger as it crawled out from under the bed. Slowly, it rolled slowly towards the assassin. He attempted to rise to his feet and run, but unseen hands pinned him down. “Please…please madam,” he begged. Slowly, the python swallowed his legs. He could feel slime all over his legs and then his hips began to descend into the wide open mouth of the python. “Please madam, have mercy on me,” he implored her vehemently. “No one threatens me and walks away unscathed. You will pay for making a forceful incursion into my abode, intending to take my life.” “Please, I will never do it again.” 

Slowly, the python took his abdomen and then his hands. Then, his neck began to journey downwards into the mouth of the ravenous python. “Please!!! Please save me!!!” He shouted at the top of his voice. “Someone save me!!!” “No one can hear you…not even my child and house help next door can hear you. You are in a different world now…a world so far away from here. He shut his eyes, crying as he awaited the end. He closed his mouth tightly as he felt a layer of slime invade his face. Na so man take die? (So, this is how I am going to die?), he thought to himself. Suddenly, he felt himself drop onto a rough surface. He thought he had landed in the belly of the beast. He opened his eyes, wondering if he had been dreaming. He prayed that it was all a dream. He had not said a prayer in years, today; he called on God to save his pitiful life. 

Stunned, he looked up at Nneka. The snake was gone and he was still lying on the floor, still pinned down by unseen hands. “Now, you are ours…We have taken your soul. We can kill you when we want to, but if you worship Yasa, we can extend your time here on earth,” Nneka said. “I will worship Yasa every day,” he replied. As if you had a choice, Nneka thought. “Now, leave. I will reach you when I want…soon, when I need you. You have to tell a story to Chidera, the woman who hired you. Just tell her that you decided not to do the job…it was too risky, something like that. Then, give her back her money and walk away. If you say any more than that, you will see me in your room at night…I am sure you don’t want that.” “No, I don’t…I really don’t.” “Now, leave!!!” He scurried downstairs and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. “Aboki na, where are my fefume!!!! (My friend, where is the perfume you promised me?)” The gateman asked as he fled. He did not wait to answer him, screeching wildly to his car. 

“How are you today?” Umunna Asked over the phone. “Not too bad,” I replied. It had been seven days since I was discharged from the hospital. I had taken some time off to relax at home in Onitsha with my family. I began to reflect on my life once again. My parents were very supportive. My brother, Chikamso who was studying pharmacy at University of Nigeria Nsukka returned to Onitsha to spend a week with me. He and I were very close, so having him around was very helpful. Slowly, I began to heal from my past. I knew I had a long way to go, but I was willing to pick myself up each day and try to live differently. Each morning, I’d stare at the person that stared back at me in the mirror and say, “You are as beautiful as moon in the sky. You may have been broken, but you can overcome all things through God if you try. You are smart, beautiful and blessed. Today is a brand new day, be happy!!!” I said that with so much conviction and I went about my day being happy; loving myself joyously.  

“I am blessed and highly favored I said to Umunna.” “That sounds fabulous, dear. Can I borrow that line from you?” “Yes, you can Umunna…any day” “Thank you. I don’t really have much to say; I just wanted to check in on you.” “Thanks for checking in on me dear. How are you doing in Enugu?” “Fine…missing you.” “Why don’t you visit?” “I have been thinking about that.” “Stop thinking, just do it.” “I like it when you talk like that, darling.” “I am learning from you, but seriously, when are you coming to see me?” “In two days.” “That sounds like two years. How about tomorrow?” “Okay, I will come tomorrow. I’d do anything for you, Ify.” “I believe you…I truly believe you, Umunna. I can’t believe you knew what I was doing then, yet you were still willing to love me.

“Seriously, don’t you think I am…useless, wasted, used, unimportant and unattractive sometimes, given everything that you know about me?” “As far as I know, you are the most beautiful girl I have ever met. I don’t think those things of you my dear. I am blessed to finally have you in my life. Blessed and highly favored,” Umunna said, laughing gently. “Are you being nice to me? I am a big girl; I can handle it if you do.” “Ify, you are all that I have ever wanted. Broken, fixed, unbroken or made of iron; all that matters to me is that you are mine and I am yours.” “You say the sweetest things, Umunna.” “You bring out the best in me, Ifunanya.” 

“You look fabulous in that one, Dera,” Miranda said excitedly. “Really?” “Yes.” “I am thinking of the other one,” Chidera explained. They were shopping for Chidera’s wedding gown. It was an all-day activity from morning and it was not until about 7:00PM that Chidera finally made a choice. “How come Nneka did not come with us?” Miranda asked. “I tried to reach her but I couldn’t,” she lied. “I wish she had come. She is always fun,” Miranda answered. I hope she is dead. By the way, I have to call that man tonight. I hope he has done the job, Chidera thought to herself. “Yes, she is fun,” she replied absentmindedly. Who knows if she is watching us now with her seeing mirror…if she is not dead, she continued to ruminate. 

“I have been waiting to hear from you. Did you do it?” Chidera asked the assassin. “No.” “Why? What is no?” “I decided not to carry on with the job. It was too dangerous. I called earlier to tell you, but I could not reach you.” “Then you had better send my money back to me. I thought you were good,” Chidera said angrily. She was in the backyard while Emeka was in the living room. Miranda who was spending the night with them was in the guest bedroom. “If you give me your account number, I will send your money back to you. She has a lot security in her house now. It was too dangerous for me,” he lied. “I will send my account details to you right away!” Chidera barked. 

 The next morning, she received a call from Nneka. “Neky baby!” She shouted. “When are you coming my way for the shopping? You know, for us to get your wedding gown?” She asked her. “You won’t believe it, I got one already.” “Really? What happened?” “A friend of mine decided to buy it for me, so I had to let her do things her way. She paid for everything…you remember Miranda, don’t you?” She lied. “Oh yes, I do.” “That is very kind of her. I called for something else though.” “What is it?” Chidera felt chills through her body. Maybe she already knows what I did, she contemplated. “I am travelling to London. I won’t be back until a few days before your wedding. I am really sorry, but be rest assured that we’ll be at your wedding,” Nneka lied. “I am so sad, but that is okay. Go and enjoy London!” “I will!” Who needs a devil like you around? Chidera thought.

Umunna sat on the front seat of the bus. He was excited to see Ifunanya. He imagined holding her, kissing her and running his hand through her rich, dark hair. It was his favorite thing to do with her, and Ifunanya liked it. During the few days they spent together before Ifunanya travelled to Onitsha, he would sit on the couch with Ifunanya’s head in his laps while he stroked her hair relentlessly. About the same time in Onitsha, Ifunanya got up and walked towards the kitchen. She was counting down to Umunna’s arrival. All of a sudden, she felt as though life suddenly began to desert her. She felt woozy. She tried to hold onto the dining table, but before she could reach it, she dropped to the ground, losing consciousness.  
Story continues... CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 9

Written by:
Victor Chinoo  

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LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 8
Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog - Gateman, Toyota Corolla, House, Parents, Pharmacy, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Wedding Gown, Wedding, London, Python, Hands, House, Gate An African Literary Blog
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