He did not allow any other person touch her. He took it upon himself to do the flogging. Her naked skin tore with each lash of the horsewhip and he winced as his heart ached but he knew he must never show any sign of weakness, otherwise his men will use it against him. They stood afar watching every blow he dealt her like vultures watching their prey from afar.
She passed out at the fifteenth stroke but he continued anyway until he had dealt her the twentieth lash. He flung the horsewhip away and scooped her up to the consternation of all the women and the men watching. He carried her into his tent and laid her face down on the bed gently. Careful not to touch her wounds which looked ghastly enough.
Boss: “Audu…” he bellowed.
Audu went running in.
Audu: “Sir?” he ran into the room.
Boss: “Get me warm water and a very clean towel. If it is not clean, I will shove it into your mouth and hurry up!” he was good at giving orders. “I am sorry my fiery eyed Doe. If I hadn’t done that, it would have spelt trouble for you and for me. As it is I am learning how to live cos you popped up into my life. I am sorry I had to get to that length. I promise no one will be able to hurt you now. I will make sure no one is able to touch you now” he whispered promises and sweet nothings into her unconscious ears.
Audu returned with a new face towel and a bowl of water in his hand and made to clean her up but he snatched the towel from him and almost knocked him over.
Boss: “Get out! No wait over there” he pointed to a far corner of the room.
He had used a neat wrapper to cover her up before calling Audu in. it pained him so much that every dick and harry in the camp had seen her nakedness. He was tempted to remove his mask so the entrapped tears in his eyes could flow freely but of course not. No one in the camp had ever seen his face except Locust. He cleaned the injuries on her back carefully until they shone and applied ointment to it then tore part of the wrapper he used in covering her up and wrapped her injured parts with it. He asked Audu to get another clean water which he used to clean her face after sprinkling some to her face.
Audu: “Hope she is okay sir?” he asked worriedly.
Boss: “She will be fine but I doubt she will ever get over this emotionally. She seem to be a girl who has never even been hit before. Life indeed is a bitch, all these is my fault” he heaped blames upon blames on himself.
Audu: “It is not your fault sir. You did save on countless occasions sir, she could have died today”
Boss: “You will not understand. Audu…can I trust you?”
Audu was taken aback by the gentleness in his voice. He had never spoken to him so gently like that before.
Audu: “Yessir!” he stood at attention.
Boss: “Loosen up boy, relax relax” he said casting a look at Erica who was muttering inaudibly in her restless sleep. “I will be going out soon, I need you to take care of Erica for me. If you notice anything at all that has to do with her, do not hesitate to call me. I will give you the number you should reach me with. Can you do that for me?” he asked without taking his eyes off her.
Audu: “Yes sir I will try my best. I will make sure nothing happens to her”
Boss: “Good…I am trusting you. And I am not going far, I am nearby”
She opened her eyes slowly, she had heard his last statement about not going far, and she tried to turn but couldn’t because of her back.
Erica: “Where are you going to?” her voice sounded so weak he could hardly hear her. He made signs for Audu to excuse them.
Boss: “I have something I need to take care of. I guess you never really noticed that I don’t stay in this camp much. Well most of you are not aware. How are you feeling now? Don’t you hate me for doing this to you?”
Erica: “I don’t hate you, I know you were helpless, you saved my life. Thank you”
Boss: “I guess somebody no longer wants to die? Very good”
Erica: “Oh please!” she smiled weakly and he smiled through his mask too. “Don’t leave me please. Take me wherever you are going to”
Boss: “Are you scared? I have never seen you as one to be scared before not even in the face of death. So why are you scared now?”
Erica: “I am not scared. Just that I am going to miss your masked face”
Boss: “Ehn ehn…is someone in love with my mask?”
Erica: “Far from it. Your mask is ugly. I know you will still do what you want though. Don’t stay long and while coming, can you get a poetry book for me please? Don’t steal it and don’t kill anyone while buying it. Just act like a good citizen and without that mask please?”
Boss: “Hmmmm…I will see how well that will work though” he smiled again. He was about to say something else when he looked down and realized she had succumbed to the compelling hands of nature. He covered her up properly and stepped out noiselessly.
Iya Lanre panicked when she saw the blood on her. She had forgotten in her angry state that she was pregnant. She quickly called the gate man who assisted in rushing her to the nearby clinic. At the clinic, it was confirmed that she had lost the pregnancy. Her tears knew no bounds as she laid on the same ward she had the morning her husband travelled out with her mother in law and her dad standing by her bedside.
Nkeiru: “God why! Why did you let my baby die? What did I do so wrong that you refused to forgive me? I felt safe and secure in my husband’s house because of that baby but you took him away?” she bit her lower lip sorrowfully as tears cascaded down her swollen face.
Mr Ogbonna: “It is okay my daughter. God who gave him to you in the first place will give you another. There is a reason for everything. Do not despair my dear, you need to be strong” he sat down beside her using the back of his hand to wipe off the tears streaming down in reckless abandon down her face.
Nkeiru: “Papa you know how much I wanted to have that baby. I don’t even know when my husband will be coming back yet” her mind went to the lady who had picked her call before the incidence and her heart sunk further into dejection. She held on to her heart afraid it was going to blow up within her.
Mr Ogbonna: “Sorry my dear…”
Iya Lanre: “Stop crying Nkeiru. God will give you another” she said for the sake of just saying something.
Nkeiru’s eyes darted towards her furiously…
Nkeiru: “How dare you say that to me woman? Dad please get her out of here”
Iya Lanre: “Calm down na aftrall I am here because I am really sorry if not I wouldn’t even show up at all”
Nkeiru: “Dad I said get her out of here before I strike the selfish, childish woman down. Please get her the hell out of her” she yelled and fought violently to grab a hold of her but her dad held her down.
Mr Ogbonna: “Can you please go outside for now? Will call you when she has calmed down a little” he said tilting his head to look at his in law who took her bag and strutted out of the ward like a peacock on heat.
Nkeiru: “You warned me dad. I should have listened to you. I don’t regret marrying Lanre but I regret being her daughter in law. She killed my baby” she wept into his arms.
Mr Ogbonna: “Nothing here is your fault dear. You made the right choice then just that circumstances can change anyone. It is going to be fine my child” his heart bled for his only child and for the fact that it seemed he hadn’t kept his promise to her mum.
She woke up with a start when she heard footsteps outside. She peeped out and saw that it was already dark outside. She sat up and folded her legs upright, careful not to put too much strain on her back. She heard the shuffling of legs right outside the tent now.
Erica: “Who is there? Audu?” but she remembered he had told her he wanted to ease himself and had left just few seconds before she heard the footsteps.
Three masked men suddenly stepped in, one of them shoved her up from where she sat and put a black hood over her head. She did not struggle with them like they expected her to, they led her out and into a string of trees few km from the camp.
He was on his way back from defecating when he saw them leading her out of the room, he followed them but when he realised there was nothing he’d be able to do to save her, he slowed down a bit, brought out the phone Boss had given him and pressed the speed dial 1. He got worried when the phone kept ringing but no one picked it up. He tried again and again, still following the men at a slower pace but making sure he was out of sight and earshot. He finally picked it at the forth ring.
Boss: “Audu…is anything wrong?” he asked icily, knowing the answer already.
Audu: “Some men are taking her away into the woods. Please hurry back, they seem to be planning to do something terrible to her” he gave him the description of where they were headed and the line went dead.
He dashed out of the house, managed to take his mask not minding if he was wearing the camouflage or not and took his car keys.
He drove like a mad man on the trail of nothing, “I shouldn’t have left her alone there, what on earth was I thinking? Oh Erica! I swear I’d kill them all if they as much as touch a hair on her head” he kept thinking and cursing under his breath while biting his lower lip.
Question: Will he get there fast enough to save her? What are the men up to?
Stay tuned for Episode 17 (You don’t wanna miss this!)…AdeLove Stories…Premier Naija Inspirational Blog!
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