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STORY: 7 Days (The Past Came Haunting) E05

I struggle not for the Lilly in the water
Just so, I don’t get drown for it.
– Ikise Atabang
******
EPISODE 05
+++++++++++++++
Friday 
12:29 AM 
Mum 
++++++++++++++++++++ 
I woke up, checked the time and it was half past midnight. I was having some strange feelings. I tried Val’s number once again but it was switched off. 
I had not spoken to my son for the past three days and it was unlike him not to call. The worst was that his phone was switched off. I had been trying to reach him since last night but to no avail. I was really worried, so I picked up my Rosary and the Bible … 
++++++++++ 
12:42 AM 
Val 
++++++++++++++++++++ 
“It’s time. Untie him!” One of them said. I felt relieved that at least, I was getting off from the rough pillar. I was led to the place where the light was coming from. I was met by a small crowd of about 30-40 guys all on masks and sitting round a huge bonfire. They all wore black robes except one whom I presumed to be their leader.
They pushed me down to my knees in front of him and I managed to get a glimpse of his face. He was on red robe, plumpy, and had very thick beards peeking out from the mask.
“This was definitely not Ijabu”. I said to myself. I thought Ijabu was their capon. My heart leapt. 
He stood up. “Azuka Valentine Chizoba, 20 years old, only child, brought up by a single mother.From Anambra State and in the department of Environmental Engineering. You are welcome”. There was a light round of applause.
“This guy really knows a lot about me”. I thought. He continued. 
“Val, do you want to join us and be part of us? There are so many benefits in being a member of this Confraternity”. 
“N…no sir”, I said trembling. That instant I vowed not to go near Cynthia again. 
“Then why have you chosen to be stubborn? Why have you decided to drag my second-in-command’s girl with him?” There was murmuring amongst the members. 
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know they were together”. 
“I’m giving you two options. I’m owing my second-in-command a favor and that’s why I’m giving you these two options. If not, it has always been one option”. I felt dizzy and I thought I was going to collapse any moment. 
“One, you either join our confraternity”, He moved closer. “Or two, you end anything it is you have for Cynthia”. Hearing the second option, I felt as if a heavy burden was taken off my chest. 
“I’ll take the second option. I’ll end everything with Cynthia. There is nothing serious going on between us. We are just friends, though I had plans of asking her out before this whole incident. But I have ended the friendship. I don’t even know her again”. I said with all seriousness. I never imagined there would be a time when denying Cynthia would be my saving grace and give me such peace of mind and freedom. 
“Just know we are watching your every move”. He gave some guys instructions to take me away and give me some kola. 
They took me back into the uncompleted building and I wondered what kind of kola would be given me. They tied me to the pillar, with my face to it and my mouth gagged, while they lashed me mercilessly. I counted 28 before I lost count. 
+++
Around 5 AM in the morning they took me back to the exact spot I was kidnapped last night and handed me my phone. I staggered home, my spirit already broken, and narrated my ordeal to Paul as he treated my back with hot water. He wouldn’t stop laughing at me and reminding me of how he had always told me that girls would be the cause of my death one day if I wasn’t careful. 
I was sleeping in the evening, when my ringing phone woke me. It was my mum, she wanted to know how I was feeling and I replied that everything was fine. She told me I had her worried as she had been trying to reach me since yesterday. I apologised and assured her everything was fine. To ease her worries, I lied that my phone was flat due to power failure. 
After the call I freshened up and went to the hospital where I met Cynthia and Ebo talking and laughing. I was very happy to see my very good friend in such a jocund state. Thank God he was getting better. However, seeing Cynthia there made me uncomfortable. It reminded me of my encounter with the cultists last night. 
Cynthia saw me standing by the door and came to give me a hug but I waved her off.
“What’s the matter with you Val? And where have you been? Don’t tell me you’re avoiding me because of that shit you and Ebo told me yesterday because I won’t take that”. She said going back to sit on the bed. 
“Val this girl is still doubting our story oo. Can you imagine?” I sat on the only chair in the room.
“Why should I believe you guys? So I’m now having imaginary boyfriends eh?”  She looked at me. “Val what’s wrong with you? You look so dull today”. 
“Something terrible happened, I don’t even know how to narrate it”. I shook my head. 
“Val what is it?” Ebo asked. I removed my shirt and showed them my back. 
They were all shocked and they felt sorry for me. 
“What happened?” Cynthia asked, tracing some of the marks on my back. 
I narrated my experience to them without missing any single detail. 
“Cynthy!” Ebo called her but she didn’t answer.
“This is serious. Check your self very well. Is there any guy who has been asking you out or rather who asked you out that could go to this extent just to have you?” Ebo asked rapping off so many questions like a detective. 
“Honestly I have been thinking about this since yesterday. Yes, I have had so many boys ask me out before but I can’t tell if any of them could go any length to have me”. 
“In that case all of them are suspects. Val the guy that approached you on Monday evening, the one that called himself ‘boss’ could you describe him to Cynthy?” 
“What are these two doing?” I asked myself in my mind. 
“See, whatever investigation you guys are about to conduct I will not be a part of it”. I chipped in at once. 
“Why?” Cynthia asked turning to face me. 
“I can’t recognize him. I told you guys they wore masks”, I lied. 
“I don’t believe you. You told me you saw him while escorting me to my lodge the other day”. Cynthy said. 
“That was a mistake, it was someone else”. I said adamantly. 
“I still don’t believe you. You’re just scared, scared of being flogged or what? You can’t even fight for what you love”, she stood up from the bed. 
“Honestly Cynthia I’m very sorry to disappoint you, but try to understand that there’s nothing I can do about this. You’re a very beautiful girl and many guys would kill to have you as their girlfriend. You’re going to find another love soon. Trust me”. 
“Look at this one, who’s talking about love and boyfriend here? Those guys need to be punished for what they did. It’s not about dating you. Who’s going to date a weakling like you? Coward!” She stormed out of the hospital. I saw her eyes mist and I was hurt. 
“Weakling! Coward!” Those were the last words I heard from Cynthia. 
Maybe she was right but I was only trying to protect myself and my friends too. These guys are many, even if we managed to get boss and report him to School authority. What about other unknown members? We can’t defeat them. 
“But Val, she’s really upset and disappointed with you. I haven’t seen her this angry before”. Ebo said. 
“What would you have me do guy? I don’t want to have anything to do with those guys again in my entire life”.
“Me neither. Let her go, that’s the right thing to do. Come closer let me see that your back again”. He said smiling.
“What are you up to this fool?” I asked suspecting something fishy. 
“Nothing”. He pretended to lightly trace and caress the bruise on my back, only to apply pressure that split-second. 
“Aahgh!” I shouted in pain cursing him. 
He wore a wicked smile on his face. 
“Maybe I’m not gonna kick your ass again when they discharge me tomorrow”.
To be continued… 
Edited by:
Anastasia C. Nwoye
Ekweh Christian
Next Episode drops on Sunday

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