It was humid, it has rained the previous night and the cold that followed the heavy rain ruffled her skin and made her shiver. She pulled her sweater which couldn’t cover her big stomach that obstructed her movements as the whole weight of the pregnancy rested on her pelvic.
She dragged her swollen legs and opened the gate to her farm. She hasn’t been there for three days and had to come that early to check on the fingerlings as Okon, her sales boy left the previous day for his elder sister’s Traditional marriage.
The gate creaked as she closed it and walked inside, she wondered how she would be able to deep her already freezing hands inside the pond.
As she stood by the pond and inhaled the humid air, she sensed something different from the air. She couldn’t place her fingers on what it was but her intuition picked an unusual scent, it was familiar yet terrifying, so she made a call;
“Aminu…Aminu” she called the person from the other end
“Boss Lady” Aminu adopted the name he heard Ebube call her severally
“I think there is something wrong at my farm”
“What is it? did someone broke in?”
“No…I can’t really say but I feel someone or something is hiding here…I can sense it” she said with a hush tone
“Did you see whoever it is?”
“Ehm…not really, but…please can you get here? I am scared, this has not happened to me before…”
“Okay, I will be there in less than fifteen minutes”
“Do you know the place?”
“Of course I do, that was where we moved Captain’s remaining ehm…”
“oh…okay” the line went dead
She waited for any movement but heard none, she reluctantly dismissed the strange feeling “I am being uneasy for nothing” she thought. Maybe the pregnancy also came with uneasiness and anxiety. She has not been pregnant before and did not know what to expect at each particular trimester.
She folded the sleeves of her sweater, walked towards the store and picked her boot and her gloves. She got that feeling again as if there was someone there with her, she felt the air at the back of her neck and it made her hairs stood.
She looked behind her and saw no one, she needed to hurry up and leave the farm before she would start hallucinating.
He watched her like a fox, taking his time. He wasn’t in a hurry to strike, he wanted to enjoy the hunt and he would. He had not decided what to do with her yet, maybe he would figure that our later.
He bit a piece of Ginger and chewed with care to avoid being heard. He had developed a terrible cough that had lasted more than a month. He thought it was nothing until he day he first coughed out blood, and went to see the doctor with the little money he had,
“This is disturbing” the doctor had gazed down his lab result and massaged his Jaw “Ehm…Mr Chike Oko, do you smoke?” The doctor had asked
He quitted smoking years ago when he was about getting married, but had resumed recently just to ease his stress and escape from the demons he fought.
“From the result here I can dictate that you have Bronchitis”
“What is that?” he had asked
“It is nothing serious when dictated earlier, but…”
“When dictated late, it could lead to complicated and life threatening health issues”
Chike blinked and licked his dry lips “How bad is my situation?” he had asked the doctor
“Well…” the doctor adjusted himself on the seat “ehm…have you had this before?”
He had wanted to tighten the doctor’s tie round his neck, his numerous questions where not what he wanted to here, yet when the news came, he couldn’t face it
“This has eaten deep into your lungs; you didn’t dictate it earlier”
“Doctor, tell me if I am going to die…”
“I cannot tell you that now, but I must tell you that what you have, has gotten to a chronic stage, we can only try our best to keep you alive”
That was the longest moment of his life and for the second time, he was afraid to die. He had been on drugs since then, but he could no longer keep up with paying for his drugs as the illness ate into his already dwindled account, and had left a huge hole in his pocked.
He perfectly hid his illness from Ada his wife, he didn’t need pity from her nor from anyone, though he doubted if Ada would ever pity him.
He bit and chewed another piece of ginger. He resolved to eating Gingers and Garlics, he heard it could cure him, though he didn’t feel better since he started taking the herbs.
He saw Elizabeth looked back, at first he thought she saw him, but as her eyes wondered elsewhere, he relaxed and knew he has not been seen.
He gave himself the luxury of admiring her face, and he hated what pregnancy did to her, her nose was bigger than it was before and her lipped were like a container with water, and she was no longer as fair as she used to before the pregnancy “Why did you get pregnant Elizabeth” he muttered.
Aminu was not sure whether to go or not, the woman had no concrete reason for calling him, she said nobody broke in to the farm. He carefully lay the sleeping baby on the coat where her twin brother lay, he was on leave and had left the Naval base to meet with his family at Moscow Road.
He lay back on the bed and tried to catch some sleep but he couldn’t, he turned and tossed until his wife came in
“Barka da Asuba” she greeted
“Na gode Kwarai” he touched her arm and she smiled.
When she left, he sat on the bed for a while before he took his towel to the bathroom. Elizabeth has not called him for help since he came back, maybe she needed help actually, or an assurance that everything would be alright.
Whichever it was, he would go to her.
“Do you trust this man sir?”
They walked in the woods where some of his men camped. They had a major defeat and the atmosphere was that of mourning. About twelve of his men lay wounded in a shade where Ebube and the Doctor that treated him worked hand in hand to keep the men alive, they couldn’t count how many that was dead.
Abdulkareem had seen how occupied Ebube was and grabbed the opportunity to talk to the General “I don’t trust him” he said
“Why? What did he do?” their boots crushed the grasses and dry sticks
“I have seen his type before, they act normal until they get you eating on their palms”
Adsame gazed at Ebube, his sleeves where folded, his trousers too. He tended to the wounded men with such grace and kindness that one wouldn’t know that he was one of them. Ebube turned and met his eyes, both gave each other acknowledging nods
“Are you suspecting anything?”
“Not yet, but I have my eyes on him”
“Good, report any unusual thing you noticed about him, listen to his conversations with the men, he mustn’t be allowed to have access to any means of communication with the UN or anybody outside this place” Adsame wiped sweats from his galloped forehead “…unless I say so of course”
“Yes General” both walked deeper in the woods without saying anything to each other “General…do you think you should go for the dialogue he talked about?”
Adsame stopped walking and looked at him sharply “How did you hear about that?”
“I Overheard the conversation sir”
“You eavesdropped on us?”
“I am your assistance, General; your safety is my concern”
Adsame weighed this for a while, Abdulhareem continued, “You don’t realize what this Nigerian soldier is doing to you” the resumed walking “He is turning you soft and weak…”
“General Adsame is not a weak man!” Adsame blunted out
Abdulkareem cowered at the General’s sudden angry tone “I know sir…I have been with you for years and have seen you pull down villages and districts” he paused, waiting for a respond from Adsame “we should be careful with this new soldier and what he is offering, it may be a trap by our enemies”
Adsame grunted “I am not stupid Abdul; I know what I am doing”
Abdulkareem knew he did score a point, the General may not admit it immediately, but he would think about it when he would be alone, it was time to play his second card,
“General…I think you should also watch him around your woman”
Adsame turned his eyes towards Abdulkareem abruptly “What do you know”
Abdulkareem deliberately hesitated, Adsame covered the gap between then and shook him roughly “Is he fcking my woman? Tell me! Is that Bastard fucking Sagal?” he thundered
“I have seen them alone severally, and…and…”
“I have seen Sagal coming out of his room two nights now”
Adsame withdrew his hands as if he has been burnt “Bastards…both of them Bastards” he clung his teeth “I will kill Sagal with my bare hands, I will strangle that whre…”
“No General, you will not do that now” Abdulkareem was enjoyed every bit of the reactions he got from the General “Let me make the job easy for you, let me deal with The soldier myself, you can then do with Sagal as you please”
Elizabeth sat in her farm house, she pulled her boots off her feet, and removed her gloves. She rested her head on the brown painted wall and heaved a sigh of relief “Life is not a bean cake” she thought. Maybe she would stay in the farm a little longer before she would drive back home to get ready for the Antenatal.
She had changed from Obio-Cottage community hospital to St Matthias clinic where Doctor Nkama works, she couldn’t deal with the long queue of women who always waited for the doctors and the spending the whole day in a clinic every week wasn’t something she fancied doing. The crowd in the community hospital made her head to spin on its own.
She dragged herself up and made towards the small kitchen “I think I still have a tuber of yam somewhere here”, she opened the cupboard and brought it out. The feeling came upon her again; she felt she was being watched, a pair of eyes bore holes on her back, she couldn’t shake off the feeling this time.
She looked around the kitchen, but saw no one. “Who is there?” she shouted. She thought of Aminu, maybe it was him, but the gate was locked, she locked it herself.
Then she heard it, his voice;
“You can’t run anymore Elizabeth”
The yam fell from her hands and broke into three, she turned and saw him seated on the only stool in the kitchen and was smiling wickedly. Fear flashed through her face, but she masked it quickly. He would not scare her again
“How did I get in here? How did I know you will be here? I know you will ask these questions” he drummed his fingers on his laps “those are not necessary” he stood up and she saw it; the little black bag that hung across his shoulder
She had to say something to him, she had to keep him talking “How is your wife?” that was the most stupid question to ask at that moment, for she saw his face twitched
He walked towards her and wrapped his palm round her neck loosely “you would have been the one” he said. His ginger breath made her want to throw up
“You made your choice Chike” she managed to say
“You didn’t fight enough for me” his palm left her neck and traced down to her breast. He brushed through her nipple and gave it a painful pinch, she grimaced.
He laughed “You still want me, I can feel it…”
“I have never wanted you since you left Chike, I will never want you, not now, not ever” she slapped his hand off
“Pity” he said and searched through his little bag “Ah ha!…” he brought out a small two edged dagger and scrutinized it “I have wanted to take you slowly…considering that you are now heavy with this thing, you will not be as active as I want but…” he moved closer to her and whispered in her ears “I have not fcked a heavily pregnant woman before, I don’t mind starting with you” he ran his tongue on her ear
“Chike don’t do this, I am almost due for the birth of my twins…”
“Twins!” he did a little dance and laughed “She said twins” he came back to her and pointed his dagger on her stomach “would you want me to cut you open and bring them out?”
“Chike you are sick, you need help”
“How dare you tell me that I need help? I have dreamt of fcking you again since the day we met at that store, I begged you, I pleaded with you, I threatened you…for a fck! Just to have your fat ass slapping my balls again, you denied me that pleasure” he sounded like a whimpering child
“I couldn’t do that Chike, I have a man I am in love with…”
“Who cares about your man, I knew you before him, I had your Pssy before he came into the picture, he is an intruder!”
“You have a wife! You are married!”
He brought his face closer to hers, sniffed her like a dog, “Would you have fcked me if I have no wife?” he planted a kiss on her lips “I could have sent her away for your sake my little fat puppy” he whimpered, then he tightened his grip around her neck “But you got married to that fool! You allowed him get you pregnant, that was an insult Elizabeth, you are carrying the seed of another man!”
“Stop this Chike! You are choking me!” she desperately wished that Aminu would walk in, then she remembered that she had locked the gate. A sob escaped her lips and two drops of tears dropped. She must help herself, she must do everything to come out of this alive
“You know what we are going to do now?” he held her hand and meant to drag her out of the kitchen to the only room that also served as her office, but she held firm at the cabinet “I am going to tie you up on that little table of yours and will cut your skin painfully and slowly until you would beg me to either fck you till you bleed to death or inject some substance in your vein, either way, you will still die” he pulled her again but she didn’t move
“Will you move your fat ass bi*ch!” he walked to her and tried to pull her left hand off the cabinet. She saw her chance that split of second and went for the frying pan that hung on a nail on the wall, she was swift and fast, she dragged the pan down and blindly swung the metal pan towards Chike, it landed on the right side of his head. The force of the hit threw him off and he crashed on the stool, his bag flew from his shoulder and the edge of the pan gave him a deep cut.
Elizabeth grabbed the little bag and ran out of the kitchen, and out of the entrance door. With her hand lifting her sagged big stomach, amidst severe pains, and her lips tight, she ran like she didn’t belief she could.
Aminu had already opened the gate when he saw her, she collapsed at his feet and groaned,
“He is there…I left him in the kitchen…” she managed to speak
Aminu looked up and saw the man who held his bleeding head, staggering towards them, the man turned immediately on a run, back into the farm house
“Bloody Idiot!” Aminu ran after him
Elizabeth groaned as painful spasm gripped her pelvic bones, it was as if her vagina was about to be torn into pieces, she let out a loud throaty cry.
She was in Labor.
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