It’s been three days
since Henrietta’s disappearance. Everyone was worried, her parents, the
neighbours, church members and most of all, Hank.
“Any news
yet?” Hank’s dad asked as he almost jumped into Hank’s room that fateful
afternoon.
“No dad.” Hank
said shaking his head lightly.

“Where could she
be? I am so worried. Are you sure she went with her boss for company business?
Because I have called her boss on three occasions and she’s saying that she has
no idea of any business arrangements. Could they be playing with us? The
inspector of police is in the sitting room, he is taking the investigation to
Henrietta’s office, we need to know where she is. I even called the pastor and
he is praying with us, where could this girl be? Are you certain she went on a
business trip?”
It was at that point that
Hank knew that he had to tell the truth.
“Dad…she…didn’t
go on any business related journey…I lied to you and mom…”
“What? What are you
saying? Hank!” His father asked in a baffled voice.
“The truth is…
she went on a trip to deliver some goods to her boyfriend but she didn’t tell
me where…”
“What are you
talking about? What boyfriend?”
His mother walked into
his room with a worried frown on her face. He had never seen her look this way
in his life, she looked haggard and worn-out. Hank gulped and stared at his
parents with guilty eyes. ‘Why was this happening now?’ He asked himself. ‘Now
that he had one of the most beautiful girls on the street actually listening to
his love proclamations. Why did things have to get so complicated?’
“What are you guys
talking about? What’s the solemn look all about? The inspector is waiting in
the sitting room…why are we wasting all these time? We need to get to
Henrietta’s office in order to ask her boss a few questions….” His
mother said in a strangled voice.
“Henrietta is with
her supposed boyfriend…” Her father said in finality.
“What? If she’s
there what’s stopped her from calling home and why has her phone been switched
off for the past two days?” Hank’s mother asked frantically.
“I have no idea mom…I
have been calling her too, I lied to you both inorder to cover up for her but I
guess that was a bad decision on my part.” Hank answered.
He didn’t expect the hot
slaps that decorated his cheeks, one for each side.
“What? So you’ve
been in on this? Where is your sister? Hank where is she? You are her big
brother and you are supposed to be protecting her and not covering up for
her.” His mother’s eyes glazed as she spoke. Her veins popped through her
skin, Hank could tell that she was really angry.
“I’m sorry
mom….dad please forgive me…I felt it was okay so I let her go. Do you
remember that night she came in with the suitcase and said that her boyfriend
had asked her to bring it to him? She painted a really good picture about him
and although I had my reservations, I felt she is old enough to make her own
decisions, I didn’t know it would turn out badly, I am sorry.”
“For the first time
in my life as a parent I am glad that you were smacked by your mother and if I
were the kind of father that takes to whipping, I would have broken your bones
this instant. I saw Henrietta that evening when she came home with a suspicious
suitcase….my mind told me that she was up to no good especially when she said
some rubbish about her supposed boyfriend and bla bla bla….she gave me a gold
bracelet which she said he had given to her alongside many others for her family
members. Something is not quite right! If she went somewhere with her boyfriend
without our permission, she must have at least contacted us to let us know that
she’s okay.” hanks father said.
“Yes. She would
have…” Hank supplied.
“Will you shut up?
I don’t expect your contributions because when u were supposed to take
initiative and look after your sister, you failed to do so.” Hanks father
thundered.
“Oh my God! This is
so messy! Her phone has been switched off…God please save my baby…please
bring her back to us.” Hanks mother prayed, the turning to her husband she
asked.
“What do we tell d
police? Now…that they are prepared to go to her office.”
“We tell them all that
we know and Hank too has to make a statement as well. I smell something
fishy.” Hank’s father said.
******
By the time the police
had asked so many questions, more questions than Hank and his parents had
expected, they were all asked to bring forth the gift items that Henrietta had
given to them curtsy her boyfriend Jonathan. Only her father had been given a
gold bracelet by Henrietta, he quickly stepped into his room to retrieve it and
still in its case, he handed it to the police. Immediately the gold bracelet
was removed from its case, everyone gasped in shock, the golden accessory was
no more gold, it was as black as coal.
“I smell the work
of fraudsters…” The inspector said with a deep sigh as he regarded the
accessory in his hand. Turning to Henrietta’s parents he said.
“Let’s pray that
your daughter returns safe. In cases like these they hardly ever come back
alive. This smells like the work of experienced human traffickers…I do not
know what they want from her, it could be prostitution or organ trade but one
thing is certain, this is such a delicate matter and I’m afraid that we are
already too late. Whoever holds your daughter has had her for three whole days,
if this case was reported earlier, we would have gotten somewhere by now.
However, we would do the best we can.”
Henrietta’s mother
didn’t wait to hear the last of the inspector’s statement, she fell in a dead
faint. Her husband slumped on the sofa in agony while Hank stared at the police
inspector in doubt, ‘this was not good news’ he thought.
*****
Henrietta had already
been sedated. She lay down on a hard metal surface awaiting her fate. As she
shuffled between sleep and wakefulness she felt her spirit float steadily in
the air. She wasn’t oblivious to her environment, while her body was dead to
the world except for her slow heartbeat, her spirit was alert.
She heard them come in,
slam the door and speak rapidly.
“Why the delay? We
should have gotten this over and done with days ago.” Jonathan was saying.
“I wonder what the delay
is all about. I want to clear my vehicle at the wharf and this transaction has
already delayed it all. I need this money today so that I can take the next cab
to Lagos and start preparations as regards my car. I can’t believe that we
hurriedly prepared her thinking that the doctor was to arrive two days ago. I
was even meant to sample her you know…enjoy the warmth of her body before
letting the cold hands of death take her.” His companion said. “She has
been sedated for two days already and her body is so damn weak.”
“What’s stopping
you? She’s lying there still and breathing, you can do whatever you want.”
Jonathan offered.
“With drips and
tubes going through her body, no way! When I decide to have sex, it would be
with a woman that’s wide awake and not sedated for organ extraction.” The
man said.
“Suit yourself.”
Jonathan replied.
“It’s really  unlike you…you know, we know your notoriety for
sampling your goods first hand. Why you dey slack for this one na?
“I don’t
know…there’s something about her that I can’t seem to put a finger on. She’s
so different you know… and she’s better off under the knife than under my
weight so…” Jonathan said but quickly changed the subject. “This place
stinks so bad…”
“What do you expect? Do
you know how many organs have been extracted from this room? Countless! Don’t
you remember that the last specimen we brought decayed here?”
“That was your fault you
know…we dispose their bodies immediately.” Jonathan supplied.
“Hmmm…yes but we remove
their skulls first just in case we need to sell it in the future. And last
time, I had an emergency at home, my wife gave birth remember?”
“Oh yes…true. How is
she? How’s your daughter?”
Jonathan’s companion was
about to reply but at that moment Jonathan’s phone rung loud.
“He’s here… the
doctor is here…” Jonathan said to his companion.
“What are we
waiting for? Let’s bring him in…Cool cash awaits us. I hope he didn’t bring
check this time. I need to hold my share in the palms of my hands before the day
is over.”
“It’s strange that I didn’t
hear his car horn…I hope he is at the entrance already?” Jonathan said.
“I hope so too…let’s go.
We need to move fast, this girl has already lingered with us for so long and
the boys say they have extra specimens on the way. We need to be quick.”
They both rushed out
through the door.
Henrietta heard them
leave, she heard the door bang shut. She tried opening her eyes but couldn’t,
she kept floating. She found herself at her church seated on the pew and listening
to the choir sing;
Then sings my soul my saviour God to thee…how
great though art…”
The song echoed and
rechoed till she felt peace.
*****
Ngozi stared at her
phone in disgust
“What kind of
harassment is this?” Why would Henrietta add problems to my already
compounding ones? If she’s tired of working, she’d better resign. Stupid thing.
What kind of phone calls am I getting from her family and from the police? I’m
definitely reporting this to Human Resources. Those stupid people at Human Resources
don’t even know what their job title entails. Mtcheww.” She said to
herself as she typed on her keyboard.
She remembered the
events that had unfurled two days ago. Nduka’s mother had suddenly materialised
from nowhere and appeared in her house. No thanks to Nduka’s stupid twin brother,
Moses who’s daily presence in her home made life so unbearable for her. She
remembered getting home that fateful evening to the harsh eyes of an older
woman.
“Good evening.” She
had greeted as soon as she saw the woman.
“Take your
greetings elsewhere. What have you done to my son?” The woman had spat.
“Son? Do I know
your son and besides what are you doing in my house?” Ngozi and said in
return.
“I am Eunice
Onuegbulem, Nduka’s mother in flesh and blood. I carried him in this
womb.” Nduka’s mother said as she pat her stomach firmly. “For nine
whole months, he shared my womb with his brother Moses.”
“Oh! Am I missing
something? Are you supposed to get an award for churning out sons? Do you you
need my nod of approval?” Ngozi said in spite.
“Hey watch how you
speak to my mother!” Moses warned as he stepped into the living room to
face Ngozi.
“How weak of you to
send for an old fragile woman like your mother to fight me. Okay, now she’s
here…anything else? Has she dropped a mountain on my head? What do you guys
want from me? “Ngozi demanded.
“Leave Nduka’s
house! Leave this house now!” Nduka’s mother said.
“What? Leave what
house? Okay I’ll leave…if that’s what you want but let’s see what Nduka
wants. I’m not leaving until Nduka asks me to go.” Ngozi said.
“Ndu….Ndu…”
Nduka’s mother beckoned
Nduka walked into the
living room with a solemn look on his face.
At that point Ngozi had
felt all was lost till he spoke to her.
“Baby…I missed
you, I have been trapped in this house all day with these people. What took you
so long in coming back home?”
Ngozi’s joy couldn’t
have been more complete by that statement.  ‘Shock’ could not describe the look on Nduka’s
mother and brother’s face.
Nduka went to Ngozi and
hugged her tight.
“Let’s go inside
the room so that you can tell me about your day.” Nduka said as he kissed
her lips.
“Yes love, I have a
lot of things to tell you.” Ngozi said to Nduka.
“Nduka! Ndu! Kedu
ifem gwara ghi? What did we discuss when she wasn’t around? Are you turning a
deaf ear to the voice of your mother? Nduka!” Nduka’s mother shouted.
“Mother? The last
time I checked, I have just one mother and she’s none other than…Ngozi. So
when you’re tired of staying in our home, please leave. “Nduka said and left
the room with his arm round Ngozi’s waist.
Now, reminiscing on the
events that unfurled that day, Ngozi laughed in delight. She quickly navigated
to Google search and typed in weddings. It was time she started getting
prepared for her dream wedding and it was going to happen whether Nduka’s
family liked it or not.
*****
Callista loved to sing,
at night, during the day and even in her sleep so it didn’t surprise her that
she wandered so far into the bushes to exercise her young voice. The move from
Lagos was quick, hasty and unpredicted. Her father was transferred and her
mother who still is a ‘home maker’ and who had vowed on her wedding day to follow
the man of her dreams wherever he went, had packed up her kids on a journey to her
father’s state of deployment to her father’s pleasure. That was how she, her
sister and her brother were uprooted from their urban life in Lagos and had
moved to a rural area to live. But in all, she loved her life, her new home
which she had lived in for the past seven years of her life. She hadn’t really
wanted to school so far from home but her fate had already been decided long
ago. She was presently in her final year at the University of Ghana and had
come home briefly for the holiday.
Now, as she wandered the
long stretch of land on foot, something took her deeper. She walked till she
found it, an uncompleted building she never knew existed.
“Hmmmm…here’s my
song place.” she said aloud. “I wonder who would start a work and
wouldn’t finish it though. This house is huge.”
She wandered close, the
place was eerie quiet.
“I could pretend
that this is a haunted house and ghosts of ancient time past reside within its
walls. I could write a book and jot in all my findings…that would be interesting.”
She said to herself as she took careless steps forward.
The door to the building
was in chains but it wasn’t locked so she quickly undid the chains and pushed
the door open.
“Could this be a
treasure house?” She asked and laughed at herself. “A treasure house,
in Nigeria…yea right!”
Her stomach churned and
she realised that she had skipped lunch and it was almost evening.
The door opened and she
stepped in, making sure she shut it behind her. The room was empty, only with a
scattering of rusty metals here and there. She walked around the room dancing
and humming a song she had memorized from the hymn book at home. She noticed a
door at the far end of the room and hurried to open it. What she saw shocked
her to the bone. Immediately all the joy she had felt earlier evaporated.
Hanging from the walls
were skulls, human skulls, and bones. She could tell because she read Medicine
in the university. With eyes wide open, she looked at the parts of human
specimen carefully arranged in the room as though in a butchers place.
Inquisitive like the cat, she walked into the room and noticed another door
which she pushed open. That was when she screamed.
****
Henrietta heard the
scream buts she didn’t know where it was coming from because she was still
seated in the pews of her church, listening to the choir sing and her brother,
play the drums. The scream came again piercing through her subconscious and dragging
her out of the church to the stale place she had been kept.
******
Callista ran to the far
side of the room to throw up, this was the worst place she had been in her
entire life. A lifeless looking frame was lain on a metal bed and a dirty drip
had been attached through a tube to the veins of the person. It was a young
lady who looked so frail and pale. Callista felt a sickening feeling as she
threw up again and stared at the young lady who didn’t move. Walking towards
the bed, she spoke;
“O my God! Are you
alright? Are you okay? What have they done to you?” Callista asked as she
checked the drip that was hung above the bed and shrieked. The drip was a
medication for patients who were to embark upon a long surgery. She glanced
around the room frantically and looked at the bed again, the girl was so pale
and there was no way she could move her from the room without being caught by
whoever had left her there. Whoever kept her here was sure that this place was
hidden and she needed to let the person think no one had come c close to the
hideout. Rummaging through her pouch she brought out her phone and dialled her
father’s number. He picked at the first ring.
“Daddy…I need your help!
There’s a girl in a house…an abandoned house…please send your officers…come quickly!
The house is not far from the road leading to the river…it’s the first turn
after the bridge…it’s quite close to the err…telecommunication mast at the
village T-Junction. Hurry dad! I feel she’s not going to make it.” Callista
screamed into the phone. It was times like these that she thanked God that her
father was the Inspector-General of Police.
Turning to the girl on
the bed, she said quietly.
“I’ll leave now because
they might see me here. Whoever had you locked up will be back and I shouldn’t
be here when he comes…please stay alive. My dad is coming…I’ll stay close but
not too close…”
Henrietta wanted to
speak but couldn’t, the words were there but her lips stayed shut, she really
wanted to say, ‘thank you.’

4 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Anon for letting me know that people are reading. Honestly, more often, comments spur me on. I might be reluctant to post or very busy but reading comments from different wonderful people push me harder. Will try to post the next one on time. God bless.

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