Owena was in one of her foul moods again, but could not place her finger on what had set her off this time. Was it her mother’s constant nagging? Or was it the fact that Charles, her boyfriend, had not picked her calls all day, not even replying her series of text messages? Or was it because her younger sister had left with her car as early as 12 noon and was still not back? She really couldn’t say which one of those incidents had sent her irritable person into the depths of annoyance this time. Maybe it was all of them, working together to envelope her in waves of ire that could only be washed away by some highly energetic activity.
Piqued and restless, she checked out her appearance in the mirror for the third time in the past minute and was completely displeased with what she saw. Her tall, full-bodied figure looked overweight in the dress top she was wearing over leggings, and the face-framing curls of her weave-on made her plump face appear chubbier than ever.
With an angry toss of her head, she matched back to her purple closet, which was well-matched with the purple-hued décor of her room, and changed into a much skimpier tube top and mini-skirt. Then she returned to the mirror to sweep up her hair, bonding it loosely so that a few strands fell across her cheeks.
Now, that was much better. Her up-do reduced the softness of her cheeks and highlighted her cheekbones, the large crystal earrings she had on were evident now and their sparkle was mirrored in the clear whites of her eyes, causing her light brown irises to sparkle like orbs of topaz. The sequined tube top hugged her ample bosom, revealing just a little of her deep cleavage and the black mini-skirt displayed her well shaped legs to full advantage. She knew her dressing was more than a bit provocative, but did not care. Tonight, she was going to do whatever she liked.
After topping up her lip gloss and slipping into a pair of high-heeled pumps, she strode out of the room. Though her mood was a bit improved by the pleasure she had taken from her appearance, it was far from tranquil. She was still as restless as a heifer on heat.
“Where are you off to?”
Owena spun round to face her mother, wishing she had taken another exit out of the house. Her mother was really a pest these days. Ever since her husband, Owena’s step-father, left to live with his new wife, she had become this utterly changed person. In the past she was quite the socialite and had little time for her kids, but now, all she did was haunt the house day-long, picking on everything Owena and her siblings did wrong, nagging at them and screaming at the help. At first, she had felt her mother was only undergoing a nervous breakdown that would soon pass, but it was over three months now and Owena could not stand her anymore.
“To the club or something… I don’t know, just want to be out of here.”
Her mother got to her feet. Tall, dark-skinned and full-figured, she was the older-looking replica of her daughter.
“Dressed like this? Don’t you think…?
“Mom, what is wrong with my dressing now?” Owena cut her off exasperatedly. “Do you expect me to go to the club looking like a nun? Please, give me a break.”
She saw her mother’s eyes flare and lips twitch like they usually did whenever she was about to scream at someone. Then she paused, seeming to think the better of that. “Is Charles taking you?” she asked instead.
Now Owena’s bad mood was back on full swing. Why did she have to mention Charles’ name? “No. I’m going alone,” she ground out.
“Alone? With what car? Your sister took your car to school, didn’t she? And the last time I checked, she’s not back.”
“Am taking your car.” Owena dangled her mother’s car keys, which she had picked up from her room earlier.
The frown on her mother’s face deepened now. Really, if she kept on like that she was going to get all wrinkled and ugly soon. “And did you think of asking me first? Young woman, don’t get on my nerves. And for your information, that car is not in good form, so go drop my keys.”
Owena was very close to throwing a mega fit at that moment. She might be nineteen years old, but in her books, not too old to throw a tantrum. But she put a clamp on it. Something told her her mother was in as foul a mood as hers, therefore tantrums would get her nowhere with her. Feigning acceptance, she spun round as though to return to her room, but did a quick detour that had her out of the house through the back door in a minute. Moving as quickly as her high heels would allow, she was in her mother’s gleaming black Mercedes Benz E-Class in a jiffy. The engine responded almost as soon as she slipped the key into the ignition.
“The car is not in good form my foot,” she mumbled as she taxied the vehicle slowly towards the gate. Two impatient hoots form the horn got the gateman quickly flinging the gates open, but also brought her mother rushing out of the house.
“Owena,” she shrieked. “Owena come back here this instant…”
Owena chuckled as she wound up, shutting out the rest of her mother’s words. She eased one hand into her handbag and deftly switched off her mobile phone, predicting that her mother’s next line of action would be calling her.
She was determined to have a great time. What better way to do that than head for the club? And not just any club, but Charles’s favourite. There was a good chance he would be there tonight. She stepped on the accelerator, making the car eat tarmac at a speed that her mother would have frowned at, were she in the car with her. She wanted to get to her destination at the shortest time possible.
A sudden stutter from the car’s engine caused her to blink in astonishment. She threw a quick glance at the dashboard and was relieved to see that there was still a lot of fuel in the vehicle. Why then had the engine done that? With a shrug, she decided that it was nothing to be worried about and drove on. But the stutter returned shortly and this time, the engine spluttered to a halt.
“Oh Lord, no,” she gasped when the engine refused to respond to her insistent turning of the ignition key, “Please Lord, not here of all places.”
She was on the third mainland bridge, with cars breezing by speedily. There was no way of seeking for help around here, no petrol station to pull into, nothing.
Owena slid out of the car and went around it, trying to determine what the problem was. She banged on the front hood and kicked the front tires, then went back to start the engine. Still nothing. Exasperated, she pounded on the wheels in fury. She knew nothing about cars except driving them and was totally helpless in this situation. Taking in a deep breath, she told herself that there was no need to panic. After all she was a girl and a very attractive one at that. It should not be difficult to find someone nice enough to stop and help out. Of course, she knew of the dangers posed by this particular highway at a time like this, but had no choice. The only other option would be to call her mother and let her handle the situation, and there was no way she was doing that.
She picked up her handbag and got out of the car, then started waving at cars as they drove by, trying to get one of them to stop.
She had a good idea of the image she must present, standing there on that busy road, skimpily dressed and all. Half the commuters would think she was a prostitute while the other half would think she was bait set by robbers lurking in the car. This must be the reason for no vehicle stopping after a full fifteen minutes, despite her frantic waving. The chilly breeze from the lagoon below brushed against her bare arms and legs mercilessly, making her wish she had dressed differently. She prayed someone would be nice enough, or lustful enough, to stop very soon.
Her prayer was answered.
A dark-coloured, battered-looking Honda pulled to a halt a short distance away. A man came out of it and strode towards her. He was a really big man, tall and broad, and was dressed in some kind of bulky clothing that she found weird. Just her luck that the only person who had chosen to come to her aid was this mountain of a man in bad clothes.
“What’s the problem?” the man questioned as he came closer.
“My car broke down. Can you help…” Owena began to say, but her words were choked off by a gasp when he was close enough for her to get a good look at him. About two thirds of his face was covered with a mottled layer of skin that was so contorted, he looked like something out of a horror movie. Coupled with his large size and horrid taste in clothes, the effect was completely unnerving and Owena found herself stumbling back in fright, mouth agape and eyes wide. She had heard a lot of shocking things that occurred on this highway at night but had never imagined any of it would actually happen to her. As a matter of fact, this was worse than anything she had heard. Here was a real life monster in front of her.
“What’s the problem with your car, ma’am?” Owena vaguely heard the man-monster say as she spun round and rushed back towards the Benz, heels clicking sharply on the tarmac. Once there, she looked back to see that the man was coming after her and, quickly, she unlocked the door and swung inside. Then she locked herself in.
“Leave me alone,” she mouthed at the unsavoury stranger through the wound-up glass. But he refused to go away. Instead, he kept tapping at her window, saying something she couldn’t hear.
Owena was totally freaked out now. There was no doubt in her mind that the man was evil; the type who creep about such highways at night seeking young innocent things like her to devour.
“Leave me alone,” she yelled louder, even though she knew he couldn’t hear her. Why won’t he just go away and look for someone else to prey on? Owena was frantic with fear now and close to tears. It was unbearably hot in the car but she could not let herself out because of that creep hanging by her window. Desperately, she dug her hand into her bag and grabbed her cell phone. She needed to get help.
The moment she switched on the phone, various messages tumbled in: a bunch from her mother, a couple from Charles and one from her bestie. She eagerly opened the messages from Charles and ignored the others. Pleasure washed over her at the contents of the first. He was sorry he had been incommunicado all day, being busy with something which he would tell her about when they saw. He had been trying to call her to no avail and was even at her house now. Could she call him the moment she got the message? The second message was of a more urgent tone with him asking where she was and why her phone was switched off.
If only I had waited a few minutes more, Charles and I would not have missed ourselves. Too bad I was so pissed, Owena thought regretfully. Oh well. Guess I’ll just call him and ask him to come get me.
She placed her hand on the green button that would send her call to Charles’ cell but at that moment, heavy rapping on her window startled her, making her jump in surprise, so much so that the cell phone dropped out of her hand. She turned angrily at the man-monster, surprised he was still there. She had been so full of thoughts of Charles that she had totally forgotten about him.
“Leave me alone,” she shrieked, so infuriated now that she could have stormed out of the car then and given him a piece of her mind. But the sight of his deformed face killed the thought. Better to remain in the car and be angry.
The man gesticulated expressively, signalling that she step out of the car. Owena gesticulated in response, telling him to go away.
But he would not budge. Instead, he dipped a hand into his pocket and brought out something which he pointed at insistently. Quickly, she averted her gaze. Was he trying to throw a spell on her? For all she knew, that thing in his hand could be some sort of juju that would make her to his bidding.
She bent to retrieve her phone from where it had dropped, but just as she straightened up, phone firmly back in her grasp (it was still on and completely undamaged by its fall, thank God!), she saw the man-beast striding back to his sorry piece of a car.
She blinked, unable to believe her eyes. Had he given up? Was he finally going to leave her alone? The monster entered his car and a few seconds later, a bright light flashed from behind the Benz, casting its illumination right into the interior of the vehicle. She spun round to see another vehicle parking directly behind her, its headlights fully on.