“Stop there!” I heard a voice beckon to me.
I wanted running but, on a second thought, I considered them being vigilantes. So I just stopped.
“Who you be?” The same voice drew nearer and flashed the torch to my face. I couldn’t answer.
“You deaf?” Another one asked fiercely. Yet I couldn’t respond.
“You think we are joking?” The first guy asked again in a more ferocious tempo. But I couldn’t still talk! I was too traumatized.
“Look,” a third voice came from nowhere, “it’s best you comply with us. We don’t want to hurt you, and we don’t intend to. But if you push us to, we will. Do you concur?”
I just nodded.
“That’s nice. So let’s start afresh! Who’re you?”
“I… I am Lydia,” I managed to speak up.
“Lydia!” I repeated.
“Liar!” He cussed aloud and stomped his feet to the ground three times repeatedly. I became frightened. The other guys began laughing.
“You think you’re smart?” He asked.
I didn’t reply.
“You really think you’re smart?” He asked again, laughing this time. I became terrified.
“She no dey look face at all!” One of the guys said to another as they both cracked up.
“You see how they’re laughing at you? You could’ve simply said the truth, plain and simple; and maybe we’ll let you go. But you chose to lie. What do we do now?” He asked the other guys who gave him signs and inaudible whispers to his ears.
He stood transfixed for a while with his gaze placed on me, and then shook his head sardonically.
“Go home!” He muffled quietly.
“I… I need to get onions,” I heard myself say next.
“You said what?”
“I need onions. It’s why I’m out here.” I repeated.
He turned around and looked at me in a rather abrasive manner. His countenance changed all of a sudden.
“Don’t make me change my mind.”
He sounded stern! The look he had wasn’t inviting either. I just had to turn around and head back home.
“Where’ve you been?” Mimi questioned the moment I got in. She was eating one of the chips I brought back.
“Nowhere.” I responded.
“Nowhere?” She asked.
“Yes, nowhere,” I answered and made my way to the kitchen to put down the water and turn off the stove. I had lost appetite.
“Are you alright?” Mimi curiously asked as I returned to the parlour and made my bed to lie.
“Are you sure, Fifi?” She asked again.
“Trust me, I’m fine.” I assured her. I didn’t want her aware of the presence of the cult guys in the area. She was fond of panicking unnecessarily.
“Alright, if you say so! Won’t you join me?” She stretched the plate full of chips to me. I declined and bade her good-night.
The next day, after lectures, something strange happened. A group of guys stood by a corner in a very heated argument. Suddenly, one out of them ran towards the cafeteria, grabbed a bottle and smashed it onto another’s head. It developed into a fight. When they eventually got separated, we were amazed to know that the cause of their brawl was of Football and nothing more.
I later got home and freshened up. Mimi wasn’t back yet. I made stew and a minimum quantity of rice for her, myself and my landlord’s daughters. They were the only friends and neighbours I had managed to maintain since I moved in.
Ijeoma was my favourite among them all. She was more mature and clever in attitude and habit. We were very close and it didn’t fail to show.
In fact, I did help her most times with her studies and preparation for Utme when I deemed it fit.
We all sat inside the compound’s premises talking and gisting as we ate when all of a sudden, a guy barged into the gate hurriedly with blood on his clothes.
Gunshots were being fired outside.
TO BE CONTINUED..