Everywhere looked strange.
She couldn’t quite describe it. The closest definition of it was hell.
The deep pit filled with aggressive yellow flames.
The scorched features around.
The thick cloud of dark smoke enveloping the air.
It sure was hell.
But she wasn’t in it yet. She was sure. She couldn’t feel the burning yet.
Inside the round fiery pit, red hot flames soared and roared, sending out hot crumbs of fire.
She dodged the scalding crumbs and finally saw clearly where she was: on top of the narrow fence that surrounded the pit of fire.Just one careless step and she is crashing down into the sea of flames.
She was terrified. She spread her hands wide apart to maintain balance. The fence seemed to get thinner with each passing second.
Then finally she saw them. The two women that were her nightmare. One on her right and the other on her left.
She couldn’t quite place their faces but she was aware of the marked difference in body size: one was shorter and fatter and the other slimmer and taller.
They were close now, their faces darkened with evil determination.
She cried out, begging them to spare her as they inched closer and closer.
But she knew they wouldn’t listen even if she cried out blood.
They grabbed her, each by one hand.With masterly control they swung her back and sent her flying down the pit.
She rose with a start, huffing and puffing.
The AC was on but beads of sweat crowded her forehead.
A rough bang came on the door, startling her.
When she opened the door and saw Cynthia and the fury in her eyes, Stella standing beside her with face twisted in a frown of disgust, she confirmed who her tormentors in the dream had been.
Cynthia nearly pushed Mma aside as she flooded into the room. “Pack all that is here that is yours. Stella will show you the way out of the estate.”
“Madam, you saying?”
“Stella, get my purse.”
They stayed in silence till Stella returned with the purse.
Cynthia opened it and brought a wad of clean N500 notes. She counted about eight or ten and dropped them on the bed. “That’s for your transport.”
“Madam, what I doing to you? Telling me and I saying sorry to you. You showing me nice before and then you changing sudden.”
“If you are not quick enough, you will miss your bus.”
Cynthia left the room.
Mma was in the sitting room with her bags before Cynthia could sit and turn the TV on. If Cynthia was surprised at how quickly she had packed, she did not show it.
Mma held out the bags containing the new clothes Richard had bought for her. “Madam, I going with this?”
Outside, surprise caused Okon’s eyes to widen. “You dey travel?”
“Open the gate, you fool!” Stella barked.
“Ha. It is your mother that is a fool,” Okon said in his native language.
Stella did not show Mma out of the estate. She stopped at the gate and locked it back herself as soon as Mma passed.
Getting out of the estate was not Mma”s problem. She knew her way. Her destination was. And probably the weather too.
It was now so cloudy that it looked like dusk.
Soon the sky roared and began to shed its contents.
Mma covered her head with her Ghana-Must-Go but the rain was too aggressive. She ran into a nearby pharmacy and the fair lady in a blue coat asked her to leave, that she can’t stand there.
Mma did not understand. “But I standing already na?”
“Young girl, please leave the premises.”
Mma shrugged in disbelief and picked up her bag again.
She was already wet when an Hausa man in a wood kiosk waved at her to come over and take shelter from the rain.
Richard knew something was amiss as he drove into the garage.
It couldn’t have been the dull look on Okon’s face as he opened the gate. Or the unusual sheath of silence that enveloped the whole estate. Or might even be the flock of noisy black birds he saw on the compound wall as he was driving in. Until that day he had never seen them.
He climbed the stairs slowly, not with his usual end-of-work zeal when he sometimes took the steps two at a time.
Something about today was different. He could feel it now like a prick on the skin.
Cynthia did not wait for him to ask.
“I’ve sent her away,” she responded to his “Baby, how you doing?” with, turning away ever unceremoniously.
“I’ve sent your village girl away.”
Richard’s eyes froze on her for a moment. Then he dropped his black case. “You must be joking.” He started towards Mma”s room.
Cynthia pulled down her cheeks and turned back to her iPad.
In a moment Richard was in the sitting again. “Where is she?”His voice was high.
Stella came out then. She stood aside watching them in the silent and mindless way people used to observe their neighbour couples quarrelling.
Cynthia picked her novel, Amanda Quick’s The Wicked Widow, and her other phone and started towards the room.
Richard drew her back. “I asked you a question.”
Cynthia appeared surprised, as if unable to believe his voice could get that high.
She scowled at him. “I already told you I sent her away. If you want to f*ck her again, go back to the same place you picked her from.”
Richard’s palm met her cheek with a harsh “tawam” sound.
It could have been on impulse because even the slapper himself looked more surprised than the person he slapped.
Copyright © Daniel Nkado 2014. All rights reserved.
Consented personally by the author to be used on Alifediary only.
Daniel Nkado is a Nigerian writer and journalist, author of bestselling Ola – The Tale of a Young Moon Maiden and founder of DNBStories.com.
Interact with him on www.dnbstories.com or @danielnkd on Twitter.