Its 3am in the morning. Somehow that thought keeps ringing in
my mind like its some bad omen.
I ‘m sitting alone in my room, still sweating from the heat of the
fire I had just put off in the opposite room. The fire that was
obviously meant for me. I’m drinking a cool glass of water even
though my fridge has just been stocked with drinks,
compliments of the ever grateful manager. I’m trying to think.
Who would have done this? And why? Its not so obvious at the
time that it could have been the man-animal. Things are a whole
lot clearer when you are outside the game than when you are in
it. I’m trying to think.
Thinking is kind of difficult because everywhere is hot and they
still haven’t restored light after the fire outbreak. The manager is
afraid of using the generator lest he sets off another spark; they
are suspecting it was electrical. They are thinking it was an
accident. Its no accident. I know. Sweat runs down my face and
I wipe it with a hanky. Its so hot. I decide to take a cold shower.
That’ll help.
The shower makes a kind of sizzling noise as it runs down my
back. Its cold as ice and I am grateful for its chilly embrace. My
head is clearing. I watch the water drain down the sink, a few
hours earlier it had been stained brown from dirt and sweat.
Now soot from the burning room turns the water black.
Who did we talk to? Who knew about the man animal? Who
would be so brazen among the board members to want to set
my room on fire?
I step out of the bathroom and I start getting dressed. I hear the
hum of the Lister generator and I am glad. The room will be cool
soon. I’m not thinking of getting back to sleep. Not really. It
seems sleeping in this assignment always ends up badly. No
I’m not going to sleep.I’m going to take another cold drink and
think. Its a bit difficult but I have to think.
The good news is the beast did not hunt tonight. I would have
dreamt it. No, the beast rested from hunting tonight. This itself
births another question. Why? Why no hunting tonight? Since
I’ve been here the beast has hunted every night; not always
successfully but hunted it has. Tonight, if not for the fire, I would
have slept till morning. I would have been spared bad dreams.
The generator kicks in and the lights in my room comes on.
There is a little shout outside as something sparks in the burnt
room and they quickly isolate the circuitry of the room and
switch it off. Then there is laughter and excitement. They think
has been an exciting night. They do not suspect sabotage. They
do not suspect an attempted murder… And then it hits me.
If an attempt was made on my life…
Oh my God.
I pick up my phone and dial Jenny’s line. It rings endlessly and
finally cuts off. I try it again, same result. I try four more times
but it is hopeless. There is no response from the other side. I
hurriedly put on some outing clothes and hurry out of my room.
I reach the lobby and see the manager, now fully awake, talking
animatedly with the electrician, security man and receptionist
who is now fully clothed. They hail me as I approach. I ask
them for a ride into town, this is an emergency.
“But oga, its 4.00am sir. You can’t move out at a time like this
o.” The manager says. “Here no be Lagos o.”
I argue with him, telling him its urgent. They see the look in my
eyes and shake their heads helplessly. They don’t want to go
out, it will be daylight soon. How about 6am? It will be better
I stamp my foot on the floor angrily. They don’t understand my
urgency and are shocked. The security man gets up and offers
to carry me on his okada if “Oga Manager” frees him. I look at
the manger pleadingly.
“Okay o,” he says finally. “But be careful o, usman. This na my
special guest o!”
I can’t thank him enough. He waves me away, telling me he is
the one that is grateful, telling Usman to take care of me. It is
when we are outside and about entering the bike that Usman
asks the obvious question.
“Oga, where we dey go sef?”
I don’t know. I never asked Jenny for her address.
I paced up and down my room, wringing my hands, willing for
dawn to come. The Manager did not have Jenny’s number and I
didn’t have any of the other board member’s numbers. I looked
out of my window in frustration, searching for the sun in the
night sky.
“Calm down,” I heard Chukwudi the stronger’s voice deep within
me. “For all you know she puts her phone on silent when she wants
to go to sleep.”
“What kind of crazy-azz habit is that?” I retorted angrily. “She
might as well switch the phone off. What if there is an
emergency or something? She should have seen the missed
calls and called me back!”
“She probably will, as soon as she wakes up. Now calm down!”

I continued my pacing around the room and took another look
outside my window. The air conditioning was on full blast but I
still felt like I was sweating. I walked to the edge of my bed, sat
down and took off my shoes and socks. I closed my eyes and
took deep breaths, allowing the world around me to fade away.
Soon there was nothing to hear, not the humming of the air-
conditioning, not the sound of water dripping incessantly from a
leaky faucet in the bathroom, just my heartbeat and the comfort
of darkness behind my eyelids. But i wasn’t going to sleep. I
had entered Chukwudi the Stronger’s abode and continued to
pace deep within myself and after a while he came into the
“You haven’t fallen for her have you?” He said, watching me
“Worrying about someone doesn’t mean you’ve fallen for them.”
I said. “And I should worry; she’s a human being after all-”
“No she isn’t, Chukwudi!” Chukwudi the stronger said, “That’s the
point! She’s a mermaid and a very good seductress! She has already
told you what she desires. If you were as normal as the other folk,
would she give you a second glance? Don’t get your emotions mixed
I sighed and sat down. Chukwudi the Stronger sat beside me.
“Stay calm.” He said. “She’s going to be alright. if anything had
happened to her I think I would have felt it. You need to focus your
energy on finding out who set the fire in the first place. Now open
your eyes, the sun is coming up. ”
I woke up and found that I had been asleep for more than an
hour. Already the first rays of the sun were peeking over the
horizon and I stood at the window, watching as slowly the new
day was born.
I waited until 8am but still no call from Jenny. So I called her
back and still she did not answer her phone. I decided to give it
thirty more minutes. They came and went and still my phone did
not ring.
I didn’t have breakfast. I ran down the stairs and into the street,
looking for a taxi that would take me to the firm. When I got
there, I tried not to look like I was in a hurry and walked in
Obi and Kelvin were in the boardroom with Mr. Daniel,
discussing when I came in.
“Oh, hello chuks.” said Obi and Kelvin smiled sheepishly. “How
was your night?”
“Not so good,” I said. “The room adjacent mine caught fire.”
“What?!” both chorused in shock. I narrated the entire incident to
them and they expressed their sympathy at my ordeal. Mr.
Daniel said nothing.
“Daniel? Didn’t you hear what happened to Chuks? Say
something!” Obi said.
Mr. Daniel looked at me and sighed. “Sorry.”
“Thanks,” I said. “Has any one seen Jenny?”
“Not since yesterday,” Kelvin said. “Usually she would have
come in by now. Hope no problem?”
“I need her address. There’s something I have to discuss with
her urgently.” I said.
Mr. Daniel snorted annoyingly. “And you can’t simply call her to
tell her?”
I glared at him “She isn’t picking her calls.”
“Oh,” Mr. Daniel turned interested eyes towards me. “What
happened, why doesn’t she want to talk to you?”
I had the sudden urge to punch Mr. Daniel in the face. He was
wearing a foolish grin that I so badly wanted to knock off. I
gritted my teeth, trying to stay calm.
“I didn’t say she does not want to talk to me, she isn’t picking
her calls at all. Has anyone tried to call her?”
“Why should we?” retorted Mr. Daniel. “It’s not as if any of us
are ‘enjoying’ her company like you are…”
I took a step forward and Kelvin quickly intervened. “She stays
in the main town. I don’t know the exact address but I can drive
you there if you want.”
“Drive him where?” Mr. Daniel said, “Do you think today is public
holiday? You guys aren’t going anywhere on company time!”
“You are right, Mr. Daniel,” Obi said, “We are actually wasting
company time. Do you want me to cancel your 12 o’clock
appointment with the contractor building your secret house that
Mr. Bells knows nothing about? 12 o’ clock is company time
too, you know.”
Mr. Daniel’s pupils dilated in surprise and shock. He hesitated
for a moment then hissed
“Get out of here!” and swiveled his seat round and away from
“Let’s go” Kelvin said and soon we were outside and in his
official car, speeding down to Jenny’s place.
“What was Jenny saying about a leopard yesterday?” Kelvin
asked suddenly.


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