Time: 4:30 AM
Beep! Beep!! Beep!!! Beep!!!! Beep!!!!!
The sound of Ibrahim’s bed side alarm system grew obnoxiously louder with each beep.
Ibrahim angrily shot out his hand and swiped the holographic slider from right to left, turning the alarm off. It didn’t matter. Once awake, he couldn’t go back to sleep. He grumpily sat up and rubbed his eyes, wondering how he was able to find the darn interface. He’d felt nothing, and in reality, he had touched nothing. Yet this thing had been able to process his intentions, and execute properly. Ibrahim shook his head, snapping out of his thoughts. He rolled his legs off the bed and slid his feet perfectly into his slippers.
It was part of his routine to have an early morning conversation with himself. He got up and made his way across his room to the bathroom where he performed his ablutions in preparation for the Fajr.
“Bismillah!!” He said out aloud and with that meticulously went through the process of cleansing himself for prayer. He was soon in a kneeling position on the prayer mat beside his bed. His slippers were placed perfectly side by side beside the mat. Ten minutes later, Ibrahim was done. It was time for the real shower and he made his way back towards the bathroom. As he did, he caught sight of his computer screen. A huge envelope icon covered the entire orange holographic screen. He walked up to the computer, just as a chair slowly moved across the floor and positioned itself perfectly beneath his bum which he promptly placed on it and smiled. This was the favorite part of his day. Tekinology!! Ibrahim thought, as his fingers raced across the metallic and extremely thin keyboard on his glass desk. The message had come from Simisola. He smiled as he responded. He could not wait to get through with classes. A fun evening awaited him and he could not wait to tell Nonso about his ‘manish’ exploits.
Ibrahim yawned, stretched and took in his surroundings. His high rise apartment was a huge one and it came fully equipped with the latest SmartHouse technologies that made every day living feel like a paradise rather than a hellacious reality. His bed sat square in the centre of the room, which had a marble floor, polished so clean he could use it as a mirror. Beyond his bed was the far left wall of the room, where the windows were. They had the aesthetic look and feel of the streamlined windows of a car but far bigger. As dawn approached, the window glass slowly transitioned from translucent to transparent, letting in the sun’s rays. Ibrahim got up and walked towards the window, taking in the sights and sounds of Abuja city as it too slowly stirred awake from its slumber. Cars whizzed by each other through the early morning sky, blaring horns and briefly ducking in and out of their magnetic lanes just to get by. Not too far off from the skyscraper where his apartment was situated, Ibrahim could see a huge transporter as it slowly made its way to a sky dock to pick up the next batch of passengers. He watched as they scrambled, pushed and shoved their way past each other in a bid to claim one of the limited seats in the transporter. Ibrahim shook his head. The more things changed, the more they remained the same. Ibrahim stepped into his bathroom and took off his pajamas, tossing them into a rectangular opening on the bathroom wall. It dawned on him that he hardly ever thought about the action of tossing his clothes, and yet he hardly ever missed. He hadn’t this time, and the washing machine revved up to life soon after.
Ibrahim stepped into his bath tub. A moment later, he was enjoying the soothing stream of hot pressurized water hitting him from all sides.
The dark skinned lady walked into one of the transporters and quietly slid past a slew of foul mouth breaths and body odor mixed with cologne and perfume, in a futile attempt to mask a hurried morning of not so thorough preparations. She grabbed hold of one of the hand holds and relaxed her tense muscles, allowing her body to sway slightly as the transporter lurched off. Standing and sitting passengers yelled at the top of their voices into their phones, trying helplessly to talk above the loud and deep humming sound of the vehicle’s engines. The transporter edged on slowly through the air. The lady looked out a window to catch a glimpse of the city. It was late morning and the sun was beginning to settle into its golden phase. Over the years, the aerial traffic above the Abuja skyline had created a cloud of fumes which became vaguely visible at this time of the day. As had always been the case with Nigeria, projects were carried out haphazardly, and with little regard for the general public. While other advanced countries constructed their magnetic and aerial highways with air cleanliness in mind, Nigeria constructed hers without purchasing enough oxygen recyclers as they were called. That, coupled with the ever present erratic power situation meant that the city looked strangely bland. The colors just didn’t come out. The lady shook herself away from thoughts of the city and turned them towards thoughts of her day’s agenda. Her mind raced back to the last conversation she had with red eagle. That was over three months ago.
“You know what you have to do… don’t you?” red eagle had said after going over the plans for the umpteenth time.
The lady had nodded without saying a word.
“This is a no-fail mission. Meaning you cannot pull out or terminate until you have acquired the target or you die. Non-acquisition of the target is not an option. Do you understand?” Red eagle had looked at her sternly and she had nodded silently again, but not without taking particular notice of his question. It had come across as “do you ondastand?” belying red eagle’s eastern roots. A mischievous part of her secretly played a ‘what if’ game. What if he were southern? Do you hunderstand? The right side of her lips had twitched upwards ever so slightly.
“Is something funny?”
“Oh… no… I’m just looking forward to it… The hunt.”
Red eagle managed to give a smile of his. He rarely smiled but when he did, his coarse face had the feel of rubbery material being deformed to produce a desired effect.
“You always look forward to the hunt.” He had finally said. “Now go and get ready and be back here in one hour. I will be waiting for you along with our insider to ferry you to the penetration point.”
The hunt had taken longer than expected, but now, she was closer than ever to her prey. He had proven a difficult man to find and even when she did so, she was mildly impressed at discovering his identity. The transporter slowed down as it approached the next sky dock and soon settled into a hover. The roaring engines revved up even louder, before settling into an extremely audible hum. The lady released her grip on the hand hold and began making her way through the sea of people rushing to get out. Once on the sky dock she moved a safe distance away from the edges and brought out a disc shaped object. She held the disc by the sides and pulled as though expanding a scroll. An orange holographic screen expanded as she split the disc in half. A picture slowly materialized on the holographic screen. She studied it briefly and then closed it back again. The hunt would soon come to an end.
Ibrahim quickly packed his books into his bag, all the while keeping eyes on the professor and hoping that the last announcement made was really the last one. The truth is he had stopped paying attention to the lecture over thirty minutes ago. As he packed up, he noticed to his chagrin that his hands were trembling ever so slightly.
Ibrahim na wa o. As if u never meet woman before.
But it was Simisola. A girl he had adored since their jambite year. They were in their final year, and it wasn’t until a couple of months ago, that he had worked up the courage to talk to her. It had gone much more smoothly than he expected and finally, they were going out on their first date. Simisola was skilled at playing the hard to get game and she had made him wait, while keeping his interest with her intoxicating personality and ravishing looks. He had played along – what would it hurt waiting a few more months when he had waited three years – and finally here they were. Ibrahim strolled out of the class room and only mechanically responded to the greetings of his fellow peers. His thoughts were entirely fixated on Simisola. He was still thinking about her when his name being yelled, jolted him back to reality.
“Ibrahim!!” Nonso yelled.
Ibrahim snapped his head in the direction of the yell.
“Guy how fa now? Do you have to shout?”
“Do you know how long I’ve been calling your name?” Nonso retorted and hissed before continuing.
“Anyways whats up with Simi now? Una still dey hook up?”
“Of course. And that girl is a rugged girrrrrrl.” Ibrahim playfully jabbed Nonso’s chest with his right hand as the excitement momentarily took over.
“How?” Nonso asked quizzically.
“She wants to meet on ground level.” Ibrahim finally said after a brief pause.
Nonso instantly burst out laughing. He laughed so hard he leaned forward and wretched a bit before continuing on with his laughter which seemed mostly forced by now. All the while, Ibrahim looked at him in silence. He knew the reason for the laughter. Despite being part of the few Nigerians privileged to live in relative safety behind Abuja’s high walls, Nonso belonged to the lower echelons of Abuja’s socio-status. Abuja, despite the second civil war, had kept pace with the trends of modern city architecture, as well as its pricing. Those who belonged to the upper class, literally lived above those who didn’t as the cost of living went up, as one looked to live higher in the mega structures. As such, numerous families were confined to the lower levels or in the worst case scenario, “ground level” which was used to define living in houses constructed in the old style architecture that dominated until the early 21st century. Ground level in Abuja, as in most cities was notorious for having a higher crime rate than the upper levels. It was no wonder those privileged to live so high up and far away from the cruelties of life were branded as…
“Ajebutter!!!!” Nonso screamed, his sarcastic mockery defining every movement and expression he made.
“Are you sure an aje like you wants to come to ground level? You might want to stick with taking her to the sky malls, fancy restaurants and all that you know. If you come to ground level you really have to catch your fun. Do you even know how to?”
“Eh let me be an aje. She insisted on ground level, so that’s where I am going.”
“Do your parents know you are going there?”
Ibrahim sucked his teeth and hissed. “As if they have the time. Are you coming along or not?”
“Of course guy. Relax. Let us go.”