Everybody has a guardian; be it big or small, rich or poor, good or bad… and a destroyer. You survive by how strong your guardian is or how weak your destroyer is…
At precisely midnight, the black cat materialized and blended in with the darkness hovering in the long narrow and deserted corridor. It began to walk slickly and stealthily towards the black wooden door at the end of the corridor. On reaching the door, it stopped and for a moment its eyes were fixated on the door – as if in a semi-trance-like state. It then turned and made for the point of intersection of the two walls by its left, where it would sit and wait for the assailant.
Moments later, a rat oblivious of the cat’s presence scurried over, sniffing the floor as it moved towards the end of the corridor. The cat completely ignored the rat. It was on a mission tonight, and not even the delicious taste of a rat could hamper it. As if it caught a whiff of the predator’s odour, the rat stopped abruptly, jerked its head up and looked at the pair of green eyes hanging in the dark space ahead of it. On realizing what hid there, it turned immediately and fled as fast as it could. The cat didn’t as much as stirred. It just sat there, waiting.
At 1:15am, exactly as anticipated, the kid staggered out of the room two doors to where the cat sat. Its whiskers twitched as it watched the kid shuffle slowly towards the bathroom opposite the room whence she came out. If the kid were to be a bit conscious of her surrounding, she would have seen a pair of green eyes staring at her from a corner. But she weren’t. Her major concern at the moment was to empty her bladder and sluggishly she went for it. For the past seven months the cat had always sat at that very spot and at that same time, watching the kid carry out this same routine every night. Tonight it was doing more than watching. Tonight it was protecting too.
Just as the heavy-eyed kid opened the bathroom door, the cat noticed a sudden irregularity in the space behind the kid and became alert. In a split second of the cat’s alertness, a similar black cat emerged from thin air. The cat saw it and broke into a run towards the kid. Unknown to the kid, the other cat crouched menacingly behind her and then leapt effortlessly into the air, its teeth bare and paws set on killing mode as it made straight for the kid’s jugular. Luckily for the kid before the assailant could reach her neck, the protector collided with it in mid-air and both cats landed hard on the floor. The kid spun quickly at the weird sound, fully awakened now. With the help of the bathroom colored light extending onto the floor of the corridor, the kid was able to make out two strange black cats fighting in the corridor. Fear gripped her instantly and she ran out of the bathroom, heading straight to her father’s room at the end of the corridor.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” the kid was screaming as her small feet tapped successively and frantically on the floor.
Before the kid could reach the door, it burst open with vigor and her father hurried out, wearing only the pants of his pajamas, looking prepared to kill a bull. His daughter’s scream had just woken him from a terrible dream he was having, about his kid being attacked by a bull. The kid ran to him and clung tightly to his right leg as if her live depended on it.
“What is it honey?” The father looked down at his daughter, utterly confused.
“Daddy there’re cats in our house,” she shrieked, her pitched voice cutting through the dead night.
“Cats! What cats? We don’t any cat honey.”
“I saw them fighting there.”
“There.” She pointed down the corridor.
“Are you sure?”
The light from the bathroom was faint. Little could be seen from where he stood. And from the much he could see he didn’t see any cat. He was sure he locked the doors before going to bed, so there was no way a cat could enter his house. His daughter must have had a bad dream? He thought. But to numb his daughter’s fears and strangely his too, he decided to check it out.
“Ok. Let me go and check,” her father said.
His daughter’s grip around him tightened instead, never wanting to let go.
“No daddy, don’t go. They will bite you.”
Her father almost chuckled.
“Honey, cats don’t bite. And besides if I don’t chase them away they won’t leave. Or don’t you want them to leave?”
“I want them to leave.” She loosened her grip.
“That’s my girl. Don’t be scared ok. Daddy is here.”
He began to walk towards the supposed battle spot, with his daughter walking beside him and still holding on to his right leg. When they got to the spot, there was nothing there. For added measures he drifted over to the switch and flipped it on. There was not a single trace whatsoever that a cat had been there.
“You see there’s no cat here. You must have been sleep-walking.”
“No daddy I saw them here.”
“It’s all right. You can go and sleep now. I’ll leave the light on. Ok!”
She pouted and shook her head. “I want to sleep in your room.”
“There’s no need to be scared dear. The cats are gone.” He patted her shoulder reassuringly.
“They may come back.”
When her father saw she wasn’t going to budge, he obliged to her request.
“Ok. But don’t urinate on my bed.”
“I won’t,” she said happily and went into the bathroom to urinate while her father waited in the corridor. When she was done they both marched into her father’s room, her father muttering to himself about being disturbed from his sleep for nothing. He never bothered to check the entire house.
Unknown to both of them, the black cat hid at a corner and watched as they both tucked in for the night.
“Daddy! Daddy, wake up! It’s morning already!” Sandra tugged at her father’s arm, who was still snoring on the bed. He weakly opened his eyes, looked at the clock sitting on the table beside the bed and then bolted upright. He’d overslept. Not today?
“It’s morning and you’re still sleeping,” his daughter berated him.
“What can I do without you?” He smiled at her and rubbed her hair.
She giggled, revealing sparkling white teeth.
“How was your sleep?” he asked her.
“Fine daddy. Come and bath me. I don’t want to go late to school.”
“Have you brushed your teeth?”
“Go and get ready then, I’m coming. Daddy needs to do his exercise.”
He watched his daughter ran out of the room. He wondered if it was the same child that woke him up from his sleep last night. She was her usual skittish self now, as if last night incident never happened. He never really understood kids, not even his own daughter.
As he thought about all the chores he would do this morning before leaving for work, he just wished he could return back to being a kid. The worst part of it was that he had no idea of what to prepare for breakfast. They were tired of taking cereals every morning. His daughter had often complained, but that was the best he could do. He sucked badly at cooking. If only his wife was still around he wouldn’t have to worry about all these things? He thought bitterly and glanced at her portrait sitting beside the bed, and realized how much he missed her.
He stood up from the bed. There was no time to whine like a baby. He dropped to the floor and did 35 pushups, heard bones crack as he twisted and turned his body, and then went to bath his daughter.
Twenty minutes later he dropped her off at school and handed her over to their class teacher. He gave the teacher some money for her snacks and promised to come pick her up after school.
This had been his daily routine since his wife’s departure. Once it was 1′o clock he would pick his daughter from school and they would drive into a restaurant for lunch. Thankfully his daughter never complained because he let her have whatever she wanted. After lunch he would take her back to his office where she would wreak havoc on whatever she could lay her hands on until 6pm. Then they would drive into another restaurant for dinner before going home.
He went through these schedules everyday and it was becoming too much of a burden for him. No doubt his daughter needed his attention as much as his company needed him. But it had been difficult juggling the two. His sister had offered to help on the condition that he allowed his daughter to live with her, but he refused. He wanted his daughter around him. She was the most valuable thing he had left of his wife and he couldn’t tolerate her absence from his life.
As he plunged down the road of Rumuola, he visited back the idea of employing a nanny and thought it was the best thing to do. With a nanny his daughter would still be taken care of under his roof, while he had time for his business. He would contact the nanny company as soon as he got to his office? He decided.
The atmosphere was moist and a bit cold; the aftermath of a drizzle earlier in the morning. Few cars invaded the Rumuola highway, maybe as a result of the rain, the reason Mr Johnson couldn’t tell and didn’t bother to know. It was usually not so in this part of Portharcourt. Every dick and harry with white collar job dreaded the heavy traffic that ensued everyday in Rumuola, including Mr. Johnson. But on this day it seemed to have taken pity on him. He thanked his stars and gunned the car to full speed. First he needed to catch an appointment before driving to the office.
Copyright © 666BC-3666AD by Nwaokafor Ablyguy.
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