She lay back on the bed and pulled the covers up over her chest. She felt really dizzy and sick to her stomach. She couldn’t seem to remember how she had gotten there. She suddenly turned over to the side of the bed and retched. She was trying to decide whether to crawl out of the bed and go look for help, when she heard the sound of a toilet flushing and a door she had previously failed to notice, open to her left.
“Of course” she muttered to herself, “I’m in a hotel room with H…”
He walked towards her and sat on the edge of the bed next to her. His chest was bare and he wore a pair of men’s briefs. Seeing her lips moving, he reached towards the bedside table and picked up a carton of fruit juice and a glass. He unscrewed the cap and tipped it over the glass until it was nearly full. Then, placing the lid back on, he offered it to her.
“Here baby, have some more Juice” he helped her sit up.
“H… Baby… I… I don’t feel so good” she whispered
“It’s ok dear, this will make you feel better…drink up” in the foggy, drugged up haze that her mind had become, an alarm bell was clanging. Something didn’t feel quite right. Something was terribly wrong.
“Drink up” he urged, soothingly and held the back of her head as she allowed the cool, bitter sweet liquid to pass through her lips and down her perched throat. Not long afterwards, she was fast asleep again.
As he drove further and further away from the heart of the city, he couldn’t help glancing at her sleeping form. Even unconscious, with saliva running down the side of her mouth, she was still remarkably beautiful.
“What a waste” he muttered, as he gunned down the accelerator. He had to make it to Gyaro forest before midnight.
The first thing Moji noticed when she opened her eyes, in the early hours of the next day, was the waning moon. It was perfectly round and she remembered thinking it was the most beautiful sight anyone could ever wake up to. Where am I? She wondered. It was then she realized that she was lying by the side of a dirt road, covered on both sides by tall bushes. She sat up gingerly because of the sudden bolts of pain that shot through her entire frame. But the worst of it came from her head. It felt like there was a live band performing in her skull.
She looked down and saw that her green, cotton dress was splattered in some areas, with dried blood. She gingerly got to her feet, staggering at first but eventually found her footing. Thankfully, her strappy leather sandals were still firmly attached to her feet. “I must have been in an accident” she muttered out loud, but deep down she feared ‘H’ had done something really terrible to her during the night.
She walked slowly towards the sound of traffic, and eventually stumbled across a very busy road where she tried to stop passing vehicles, without any success.
“I must look really terrible” she muttered with a self conscious laugh and ran her hand through her mattered hair. Eventually, an eight seater bus carrying at least ten passengers, pulled up beside her and a young woman carrying a baby got off. Without hesitating, Moji jumped up onto the bus and took the seat the woman had just vacated.
The bus took off immediately and she almost fell off but clinging bravely to the open window, managed to stay on. Although she was very conscious of her stained and disheveled appearance, no one else seemed the least bit interested in her. The bus conductor didn’t even bother asking for her fare or where she was headed.
“It’s better that they don’t stare at me. I feel awful enough as it is” Moji said quietly to herself.
“Did you say something?” the frail looking, elderly man sitting beside her asked. She raised her head to reply, and then realized with a shock that he was blind. Yellow, cloudy films completely covered his eyes, making his pupils invisible. A little boy sat on the other side of the blind man, holding a walking stick and an old, dirty, cracked calabash. Moji immediately guessed he was the man’s ‘guide-boy’ and that they were probably heading out to beg in the streets.
“You shouldn’t be here” the boy whispered, staring intently at her.
“What did you say?” she asked in surprise. It was the first time anyone had addressed her directly or even looked at her since she’d woken up that day.
“You shouldn’t be here” he repeated, slowly this time, as though he were speaking to a retarded child. Moji opened her mouth to verbally put him in his place, but was interrupted by the sound of the bus conductor shouting, “Goner office junction!”
She deduced that by “Goner” the conductor meant “Governor.” Moji felt a surge of relief. She knew this area really well. She’d sat outside the office building several times, while she’d waited for ‘H’ to conclude some meeting or the other. The bus stopped by the junction that led to the toll gate, which in turn led to the group of office buildings that housed the governor of Labaji State and his officials.
The bus conductor threw open the doors and a woman in a tight mini-dress, alighted. Without thinking, Moji jumped down after her. On the curb, she felt more alone than ever. She watched the bus speed away and the woman run across to the other side of the road.
Then suddenly, as though in a trance, Moji found herself walking towards the toll gate. With each step, a nagging feeling pulled at the edges of her sub-consciousness. Presently, the toll gate was raised and a black Bentley raced through. Caught completely off guard, she stood frozen to the spot, staring as the car came speeding towards her. When it was about two meters away, she was able to see the drivers face and she realized that she knew him. It was ‘H.‘
At the same instant, he also saw her and his eyes widened in shock and disbelief. He swerved to avoid hitting her and sped into the highway, directly onto the path of an oncoming Coca-Cola delivery truck. The truck was over loaded with hundreds of re-filled coke bottles and on impact with the Bentley, they all cascaded onto the hot asphalt.
She walked slowly towards the scene of the accident, stepping on the pieces of broken glass and the steam from the sea of drying soda gently brushed her ankles. The car lay on its side, trapping the driver’s legs and part of his torso. A large crowd had begun to form. The passenger of the Bentley, whom she’d failed to notice, was dead. He’d died instantly.
‘H’ was desperately trying to crawl out from underneath the mangled Bentley. Pieces of broken glass tore at his face and arms and he was screaming loudly. At first she thought he was calling for help but as she moved closer, she realized he was saying something else.
“You’re dead! … I watched you die!” he kept saying over and over again.
It was then that the words the little boy in the bus had said to her began to make sense. The passengers in the bus hadn’t been avoiding her, the bus conductor hadn’t asked for her fare because he hadn’t seen her. Only the boy had. Memories, tugging at her sub-conscious mind, suddenly burst through the walls of denial and self deceit she’d built around her. They’d cut out her heart while it was still beating. She could remember the pain as the cold steel of the knife plunged into her chest, slicing through the soft tissue of her breast. She had apparently, only been a victim of this mans mad quest for power.
She still didn’t know why H had done it, but she knew there was something else. Something she’d forgotten to tell him. No longer able to stand, she crawled on hands and knees, towards the car wreckage, till she was close enough that he could hear her. “I was pregnant” she said, in a fierce whisper. “I was carrying your child.”
His eyes widened, whether from the pain of his injuries or her announcement, she couldn’t tell. At that moment, the exposed fuel tank which had been steadily trickling petrol, suddenly exploded with a loud bang and within seconds, the crushed vehicle had became a hot burning mass of flames. His screams and the stench of burning flesh filled the dusty afternoon air. She lay next to him on the hot, glass littered tarmac and watched as life faded from his eyes. The flames couldn’t hurt her because she was already dead.
The next morning, the headline in the Classic Times read;
“GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE YUSUF TANKO DIES IN FREAK CAR ACCIDENT”
In a strange turn of events, deputy governor and popular gubernatorial aspirant, honorable Yusuf Tanko died yesterday in a head on collision at the governor office junction…..