He felt it. Something told him everything was not right. What was it?
He slowed his pace and checked his watch.
He looked right and left.
Except for a group of three night crawlers, the entire street was in the transitory stage peculiar to the late bustle associated with Friday nights and the once-in-a-while clatter of drunken men – and women- finding their way back from any of the various night clubs in town.
He strolled on trying to neglect the feeling. He’d not taken quite five paces when he heard the sound right behind him.
Again. The sound seemed far away, yet it was right behind him.
Yes, right behind him.
The reality struck him like a sledge hammer. This time, he stopped and turned around.
“Oh no.” The words escaped his mouth and immediately his mind shifted into survival mode. He quickened his pace hoping to get to a busier place where he should be safe.
Should be safe.
Who was he kidding? Is anyone ever safe from these people? Is anyone ever going to rescue him from them? No. Only he can help himself. He increased pace and hoped his feet would carry him fast enough to discourage them from coming after him. He was wrong; very wrong, for as he walked faster, they did likewise.
Slowly, as if on cue, the images begin to descend on his subconsciousness. Images of the brutal stories he’d heard; the pictures he’d seen. Of the ‘whip treatment’, the ‘urine solution’, the ‘snake assault’… no, he wouldn’t be their next victim. He was going to survive. He would definitely survive. Deep inside of him, he cursed the animal in him for ever pushing him out at this time of the night. But was he to blame? After all, he’d enjoyed himself thoroughly at her place, and the slight pains around his waist were enough souvenir of the great sex he’d been through. He had hoped to stay overnight but her boyfriend’s call that he was coming home spoiled the whole fun. But was the enjoyment worth it now? Maybe. Maybe not.
Still he must escape. He glanced back and saw they were beginning to catch up on him. He decided to take on his heels. Yes, he’ll run. He is acknowledged as the fastest man in his department’s soccer team; maybe that ability can see him through this. Just maybe.
He broke into a run. And run, he could.
Sensing their prey’s speed, they decided it was time they cut down his fleeting movement. There were three of them, members of the dreaded Snakes’ Fraternity, a cult group in the nearby Ibadan Metropolitan University. It would be easier to dispose of him from afar but they had instructions: kill him slowly. And instructions supersede any idea that might seem convenient for them. But first, they have to stop him from running too far; probably slow him down without killing him.
The one in the middle donning a brown fez which looked more like black in the darkness brought out a locally made hand gun and aimed at the fleeing man’s kneecap. He fired. Once. He fell.
The sound of the bullet could be heard down the street and none of the neighbors bothered to turn on their lights. Nobody dared ask questions: the answer was too obvious. Even the drunk trio scrambled for cover in the balcony of the nearest apartment.
The assailants took their time before closing in on him; they had all the time in the world.
The fallen guy wanted to shout as they surrounded him but the pain from his thigh just above the kneecap wouldn’t allow him. He closed his eyes and resigned himself to fate.
“The snake assault with the compliments of the Snakes Fraternity.” One of them said in a rich baritone voice. They saw him open his eyes just as the first blow of the shiny blades of their machetes hit him.
In five minutes, they were through with him. They had carried out their instructions to the letter.
To the letter.