Fumbi, Janet and Pheya’s roommate woke up from her long sleep. She sat at the edge of the bed, obviously confused about what next to do with her life. She finally got up, realising she hadn’t picked her clothes from the line. Her feet gingerly bore her body down the stairs like a tray of fruits balanced on an amateur hawker. Two left turns, and she was at the quadrangle. She piled the clothes over her left shoulder, covering half her field of view.
“Fumbi!” Her name filtered through the pile of clothes to her auricle. She turned to see a hand was waving at her from the corridor leading to her room. She squinted but it did not help. She left her glasses in the room. She gesticulated that she could not see the face of the person beckoning. The fellow gesticulated that she was coming down in response. A few minutes later the figure was approaching Fumbi whose feet remained glued to the patched field as she flung the last piece of clothing unto the pile on her shoulder.
“Omohafe?” She still asked, a little startled. Omohafe was a friend to Fumbi’s roommate the previous session. She visited only a few times. Fumbi herself was not close to the old roommate.
“How have you been, dear? You look sleepy” Omohafe said with different emotions for each sentence.
“I’ve been surviving o. I just woke” Fumbi lazily managed to reply, a little still uncomfortable. They did some catching up for a few minutes. Left to Fumbi, the conversation was entirely unnecessary.
“What are you up to this night? There’s this exam prayer rally at my fellowship tonight. Yomi Coker will be around to lead the worship, Bishop…”
“Oh! You attend CCF? Yeah, I know about the programme”, Fumbi cut in hoping the conversation would end there.
“So, you are coming?”
“I will be at Tumininu’s place this evening.” Tumininu was also a former roommate.
“Aww! Are your roommates around so I can invite them too?”
“No, they won’t be coming either. They are going with me.”
“What going on at Tumininu’s place that can’t wait?”
“She has a little birthday party tonight”
“Oh! I see.”
Fumbi who was not willing to go on with the conversation bade her farewell and left in a hurry. She could hear a lot of tension in the voices of Janet and Pheya seeping through the door when she got back to the room. She wanted to knock but hesitated. Then she turned the lock with her key. She stood at the door for some minutes, barely noticed.
“Bermota also uses that type of car and same colour. So, she stuck the note, called and probably still sent someone to follow us. She could even be the one driving. This bastard is messing with me”, an apprehensive Janet said.
“You girls should go and prepare for this party na.” Fumbi cut them short, sounding uninterested in whatever conversation they were having. They finally gave attention to her since she walked in. Just then, Janet’s phone bleeped. She picked it up, stared at it for a while. The two other girls gazed at her, expectantly.
“See how you people are looking at me? Is it every time my phone sounds that you expect news?” She snapped at them. They shrugged in response.
“Tumininu changed the venue of the party. It’s now holding at her Uncle’s house outside school.” She added, a little disappointed. The trio hated the hustle and bustle outside school. The only times they left the school’s compound are when they go to a nearby market or decide to have a Saturday to themselves. Other times have been when they were going back to their various homes for the break.
“Okay, let’s do this” Pheya announced.
In no time, they were all dressed up in the finest they could be and set out for Tumininu’s Uncle’s house.
Plasir estate was not strange to them. It was just opposite the school’s main gate. They buy groceries from the estate’s bazaar. The estate also had a couple of blocks for students who could afford them.
“Fine girls, Which side unna dey go?” one of the estate’s motorcyclist asked them no sooner than they stepped into the Estate premises.
“House E19” Janet answered.
“Students’ block? Three of you, pay 400 naira” he replied immediately.
“No. It is not in the students’ block. You are a covetous kidnapper! Ritualist! Carry the three of us and disappear with us. See your nose like rotten guava,” Pheya clapped at him. The motorcyclist looked in the mirror to see his nose. Fumbi tried calming her down but she snapped at her too. The motorcyclist rode away, a lot embarrassed. Pheya was one canister of gun powder waiting to explode.
They flagged down a cab that took them to E19. It was a long drive.
“Seems the estate’s E block is a student block after all”, Janet stated the obvious to chide Pheya. Pheya shrugged her shoulders. Like every other evening in the Estate, the serenity and peace were appealing. The moon was emerging as a beautiful bride, catching a glimpse of the setting sun on the far end of the horizon. The sepia filter was augmented by the orange beam from the streetlights. Across the road, there were three cars parked.
Seeing the cars, Janet stood, startled, pointing at a black Toyota Matrix car.
“Don’t be scared yet. It is not the same car”, Pheya told her, trying to ease her of the tension
“How would you know?” Janet asked.
“The one that was following us has a Lagos-registered number plate. This says Edo State”.
Janet was relieved. The plan that night was to have one last turn up before the approaching exams would end their social life. For Janet, she hoped to get the whole sticky note burden off her chest. They were late for the party already but it did not seem like anything was going on in Tumininu’s Uncle’s house yet. The closer Janet and Pheya got to the door, the slower they worked. The ambience seemed wrong to them. The outdoor lights were out cold but the street light did enough.
Unlike the typically reserved Fumbi, she was way ahead of the girls and with more life.
Fumbi had barely touched the door when it opened. It gave a loud creak. Funbi stepped back tipping over Pheya’s leg. Janet supported her from falling.
A body stood in the way of the light from the house leaving the trio a silhouette to admire. Fumbi was sure she knew who was standing there but she did not want to beat the gun.
“Turn on the outdoor lights”’ a voice from inside thundered. The girls cringed. Fumbi’s guess was confirmed when the bulb above the flickered on. There were a couple of able-bodied goons in the lobby. By now, they were caught between shrieking or believing Tunmininu’s uncle was a drug lord.
“Omohafe, I did not know you’d be here too. I thought you said were going to the prayer rally tonight”, Fumbi finally found her voice. Janet and Pheya stood puzzled.
“No, I did not say I was going”, Omohafe replied. Her lips smacked at the end before a wide smile that revealed her caried left lower premolar. Fumbi pushed the pool of her saliva down her throat. Her nose itched.
Omohafe’s sustained grin forced the shock further down Fumbi’s spine. It was a great attempt though. Omohafe reached out for Fumbi’s hair. Fumbi flinched.
“What the hell is going on?!”, Janet yelled.
“You are hurting her!” Pheya yelled too
Omohafe grinned harder as she tried pulling her through the door, by the hair.
“Tumininu!”, Janet called as she joined Pheya to hold Omohafe off Fumbi. The not-so-gentlemen at the door intervened and held the girls back. Omohafe flung Fumbi into the lobby. She tripped and fell, an ear-piercing scream slipped through her cords as her back crashed to the floor next to an old tattered sofa. Since people’s faces were not at their feet, she could not ascertain whose feet were beside her, seated on the sofa.
It was too late for Janet and Pheya to turn back. The men had a firm grip on them. They screamed as they were forced into the lobby. Bermota on the sofa in the lobby. You could not tell if the sofa was too small or it was Bermota that was just able to fill up all the space with little left for her to breath.
Fumbi tried to raise her head. Bermota used her foot to push her head back down. Not only did her feet smell terrible; Fumbi could also smell trouble.