I don’t usually remember my dreams yet this one is quite memorable.

It’s action packed featuring characters from plenty fantasy movies (I guess)… of course Marvel characters feature.

Can’t recognise the villain but she is merciless…could be Hella.

So we were in some sort of training school (my fathers house in reality) and we were meant to have finished training but apparently some 5 of us including what (or who) I assume to be a washed down Aslam, the lion in ‘The Lion, The Witch and TheWardrobe: Chronicles of Narnia’ found out that something is wrong; some people will use the powers in there for bad so we stole a powerful silver ball and a powerful rectangular something (like a long bar of gold) covered in silver silk. Of course I stole the silver rectangle, after all it was in my fathers backyard where the tank is. I exchanged it for something frivolous.

We immediately got in the car and drove out but we weren’t past the third house when they caught on and began chasing. 

Now the place is like an academy for super heroes or sorts so imagine the powerful forces that would have been pursuing us.

Anyway, we only encountered who I suppose is Anon, who changed our field of vision so it became like a cartoon(It was like were in Micky mouse cartoon and we crashed into cars because we couldn’t see them). In hindsight, might be Mysterio with the drones. 

Anyway, my friend driving had the Peter Parker tingle after the first crash so we regained our footing and he drove away despite the deceptive simulation.

We hid somewhere for days trying to protect the treasure which has become Hufflepuffs cup or Ravenclaws diadem- I’m not sure which- but we all know its a Horcrux and little of Voldemort de dia so yes we were protecting a bit of old Voldie. Were probably death eaters sef.

For the days we were in hiding, something always happens, someone always gets in someones head and we almost get caught. Like when the witch villain took over a colleagues body and she was acting through him, which meant we thought he was one of us but she was in his body. It gave our position away (I couldn’t bear to watch that part, I had to move my cameras away). At that point I wanted to wake up but when I tried and it proved abortive, I continued because whatever happens, I knew I couldn’t physically be affected.

The villian finally got in and dragged the person safe guarding the treasure with her invisible hand powers (something like that) into a room so as to extricate it or atleast see where it is through his memory but he had managed to get out of the room long enough to give it to us without her knowing and we rannnnnnn because there was only one person to hand it to- Groot (or atleast looks and acts somewhat like Groot)

I and a black man rushed to Groots abode within a tree and called on him furiously because time was running out. I was scared he wasn’t home and we couldn’t give it to him but I knew he wasn’t because the future said so (Dr Strange now), I knew we will give Groot and even though Anty Villain will get him, it will be out chance to defeat her. I had- it seemed- scripted the whole dreamovie.

We were in Groots crammed up tight tree house (two of us could only just fit in) and I called out to him ‘The Avengers are here’, (meaning I was officially an Avenger😎) no answer. Time was running fast, Anty might catch on soon.

‘The Avengers are here’, Groot apparently heard me but he didn’t believe it because why will the Avengers look for him, to him they were little bit more believable than a myth. He appeared almost same time Thor did and he saw us and still thought it some parody or halloween-ers trick or treating.

I explained the situation and Groot was ecstatic to help while Thor looked hungry and thin (probably ran out of money since he quit his King job). Then we came out and the place was like an old farm with a field full of hay. We saw and spoke briefly to some people who were… I don’t know Men in Black?

Then I heard the fajr Athan and I couldn’t have been happier. Even in dreams you won’t rest with super hero duties.

She pressed and held so that the honk of her car will rally with that of the ones around, maybe then, the traffic will clear.

She could will all the cars away, she knew she could. But she did not. She wanted- needed- to conserve her new found powers because of course it was bestowed on her by more than coincidence… it was a gift of fate for the greater good.

Lala knew the world was in imminent danger. The signs where there, of things; bad things approaching from different dark crevices.

It was obvious in the shadows that moved anti-clockwise, against the sun,defying light.

It was evident in the children born with their eye wide open, open even in their mothers wombs.

It was apparent in the gait of the trees, more rebellious as against their gentility. Nature was brazen and brash; a tree trunk extending to make her trip, then the winds howling in laughter as she falls.

Somehow, she was the only one that saw them, she was the only one that felt the change so when she told her mother, her mother merely grimaced and looked away staring into the empty sunburnt evening.

Lala had had enough. Surely, doing something to prevent her from having a heatstroke amidst an ungrateful traffic in a state that will get mad at you for dying because you have caused more traffic is part of the greater good.

Eyes closed. Breathe hitched. Zen mode. Concentrate.  It took 10 minutes… it gets easier and faster by the moment. Wielding ones power, like a talent takes practice… Lala was getting a hold of hers.

The traffic had dispersed before her and she easily maneuvered, her heart in her throat, her fists clenching the wheels till she felt like she’d puke. She could do it, she had the power of telekinesis. She could move objects using sheer mental power and that…. that had to be the most heady thing.

She was glad she made it home before fainting. The mental exercise had drained her of all energy and she needed sugar or an energy drink to re-charge. She’ll take red bull, then she’ll tell her daughter all about it now that she had confirmed that she was indeed superhuman.

It all started in the lab, as a scientist working in a high facility government lab, she dealt with major chemicals, and she believed in major abilities but she had never for once thought she’d accidentally develop an ability though it might be that her strong mental believe had attracted that bug to her.

The vision of that multi-coloured, shimmery bug with eyes that looked like they could see right through people and straight into the future hit her again, this time, so hard she had to promptly sit on a sofa.

She wondered-not for the first time- how it had made it’s way past the barricade, past the heavy duty doors that shut so tight even air had to hiss away. The place was highly sensitized and well-lit, surely something as big and colourful as that should not have covered that distance unnoticed.

But fate… laws of attraction… her innate instinct to help must have had a hand in gaming it all. The sting was so sharp and sudden she fainted. That was when she  died, perhaps for a second or its split,but her heart had skipped a beat, maybe two and it had been jolted back to life only because on her way down, the complex chemical she was working on had spilled and burnt deep into the sting that it had prompted her heart to beat. And when she awoke, she woke up a new human.

She could see patterns in life, she could see thought processes. She could see the life in things people think are inanimate not knowing that they retain the hum of life of their raw nature. The furniture still hum with the trees essence, the cars still have elements of steel, so does every other thing; that was why controlling them became easy for her- because she could feel them, connect to them, communicate with them, will them and they bent to her will.

She didn’t hear her daughter come in. She was so in tune with every other thing she started losing touch with humans… they were far less interesting.

‘Mama you look pale’. Her daughter looked at her worried. Her daughter worried unnecessarily.

Lala smiled weakly.

‘I’m okay. How are you? How’s school?’

But she didn’t hear how school was, or how Nana was selected to represent the school in a science tournament, or how Nana’s best friend was caught with a boy and flogged before the class, or how Nana really needed money for a new uniform, because she was communicating with TV vibes and she would have moved it but for the fear that Nana will freak out.

When she opened her eyes, it was night and her daughter was nowhere to be found, she had slept off. There was a plate of yam and beans porridge on the table, Nana must have made it. Her poor child must be confused and lonely but some matters require sacrifice.

‘Mama are you sure you are okay?’ Nana asked again after checking up on her mother to see if she was breathing. Her mother had been delusional since her father left them for her mothers older cousin but it had become worse lately.

Lala didn’t flinch.

‘It’s okay to think about him. But please we have to move on’. She pleaded. She was desperate for her mother to pick up the pieces of her once colourful life again.

Lala tilted her head towards her daughter and smiled ‘Who? It has always been the two of us darling’.

She was, it seemed, stuck in a stage of calm denial- not of the act of betrayal (it would have been much better) but of the existence of Nana’s Dad. It scared Nana to no end.

Then something moved in Nana’s periphery. She turned to catch the object fly out through the window. Her mother caught her looking and smiled.

‘ I was wondering how you’ll find out. It was so hard keeping it to myself for so long. Now you know’. Her smile was so wide, it was the happiest Nana had seen her since the incident.

‘Know what? What are you talking about Mama?’

‘I know it may seem like there’s a plausible explanation, but it’s just that! I have the power of telekinesis… and yes I just threw out that verse through the window with my mind’.

‘Mama!’ Nana half-whispered in an ill-attempt to keep the alarm out of her voice, ‘Mama that was a bird’. And a tear fell from her eyes.

Submitted by Aisha Hamza

  I arrived at Tara’s apartment a little past eight p.m. She enveloped me in a warm hug and led me to the lavishly set dinning area where candle lights were competing with porcelain dishes . Sitting down, I allowed my eyes roam on the body hugging sequined dress that flattered Tara’s beautiful body. I might just propose tonight.

  Tara excused herself and went into the kitchen. Suddenly something moved from the shadows and surfaced in form of Tiara. She didn’t give me time to recover from my shock as she said “long time no see Ayo”. There was no way my ex from hell was sitting across from me. Too shocked to say a word, beads of perspiration gathered on my forehead.

“Tiara, I see you’ve met Ayo already” It was Tara’s honeyed voice. What in the world was going on? I mused. Tiara flashed Tara a smile. 

    “Ayo, this is my twin sister Tiara”. The universe must be playing tricks on me. “Remember the two girls on the night of the 27th, 2008. Your boys and you. Remember the rape Ayo”?
It was Tiara speaking.
I looked up and saw Tara holding a gun. “It’s payback time Ayo”. Smiling, she pulled the trigger. 

This story was written as an entry to the Flash Fiction contest hence the theme but unfortunately, due to technical issues, it was not received.

Writers Bio

Aisha Hamza

Aisha Hamza is an ardent and growing creative writer who is passionate about stringing words together. She is a poetic soul with the pen of a word artist and hopes that some day,her name would be written in gold amongst a legion of renowned writers.

She dipped the kitchen towel in a bowl of hot water and placed it on her hand. She winced as the heat seared through her tender flesh. There was a cut and several small injuries on the back of her hand and she couldn’t let anyone see it, especially the people where she was going.

She placed a band-aid and covered the small cut around her knuckles with foundation, she was wearing a long-sleeved gown to shade her wound from prying eyes. People, always trying to establish your life is not perfect like theirs.

She wasn’t going to address the cause of her pain until she’s back. He was probably on their matrimonial bed still asleep, but she had to get up, because she had to work, because she had to feed the family while he slept like a bunch of rotten bananas.

She checked her watch, frowned at how the small hand had ticked clockwise faster than she had wanted and hissed. The lecture wouldn’t deliver itself, she said to herself. Domestic violence, it seemed was a much sought after topic. Battered women where having none of the bullshit anymore, and she was proud. She stared at her bruised hand, she was proud of them.

Iridescent flowers that have already started darkening by the edges, that was what they looked like. Their faces lighted up in understanding and agreement as they stared ardently at her, eagerly sucking up each word like a child with an insatiable appetite of milk.

She shivered slightly at the sight of the innocence painted on their faces, innocence that for some, has already started getting tainted with a dark paint. She needed to save them; from themselves and from the others be it their parents, partners or the society… or all.

And so her voice got stronger with each word, with each message, with each example stating a hundred and one reasons why a woman is the owner of her body and why no one, can take that away from her.

‘The word ‘woman’ has, for a long time been taken to be synonymous to ‘weakness’, and that is why the girl child has been conceived of weakness, birthed by weakness and brought up in weakness. It has been drummed in our brains for so long we begin to believe in that and that is why when our husbands batter us’ she cringed at the thought of that ‘it is taken for granted and blame is heaped solely on us, the weakness’ her voice dripped of passion. She needed them to understand that they needed to stand up for themselves, she needed them to understand there in the grand looking assembly hall of the school of the elite children before it was too late.

‘But not anymore’, she went on. ‘The modern woman is strength and power. She understands that she is human before woman, she understands that she is woman and therefore priceless, she understands that dowry is not a ticket to torture, she understands that she is the owner of her body and she will fight to see that every other person accepts same’. She concluded.

The thunderous applause made her jolt a bit in fright. She stood stunned as the crowd of young secondary school girls and teachers stood up and cheered.

It always happened like that and that was why they scouted lectures so much from her for whenever she was delivering a lecture on violence against women, she was never herself. She was a woman from fifteen years ago who had been dragged and man handled, slapped across the face and told to shut up or the knife glistening in the dark will be buried within her. And she had to stifle her scream and lie for hour-like minutes until the deed was done and her innocence, gone. The most painful part being she knew who it was, and she knew he was a coward as only cowards hit women.

She smiled and lowered her eyes as if shy. The rage of being a victim had subsided and she was back to herself.

The admiration in the eyes of the female students and the profusely stated appreciations were enough for her. Her job was done.

She didn’t want to go back home. She didn’t want to face him or anyone. She just wanted to drive away, far away, but she knew she couldn’t, she knew she had to face her worse nightmare who shared her bed every day for 5 years.

The moment she pushed the door open and heard the sound of feet shuffling, she knew he was home. Where else would he be? Useless man.

‘Come here’. Silence.

‘I said come here’. Now with obvious annoyance.

She felt the rage creep back in. He always had that effect on her ever since he decided it was a good idea to rape her. Little did he know, he fucked with the wrong girl.

10 years after the rape, she had bloomed into a beautiful woman,and he had thought that she had forgotten as it happened a long time ago. And so when she did everything young ladies were prone to do to get the attention of men they liked, he had succumbed and had fallen prey. Some months later, they were married, what he will come to discover was her plot for revenge all along.

She had made his life a living hell from the first year of their wedding. She had made him lose his job, distanced him from family and friends and basically made him dependent on her so that all the power were in her palms, the palms she used to batter him all day as she relieved that dark night that awakened the monster in her.

Her fists were still sore from the punch she had given him last night and she could see him visibly shake as her palms curled to fists.

‘Bloody coward. I hope you tell this story to your fellow weak men who hit women’. She spat out in disgust and landed him another punch.

‘If Maryam dares, I’ll kill her’ I mumbled under my breathe, rubbed my palms on my arms to heat it up and let out a shiver. 

If Maryam dares to end her marriage before I see her grandchildren, I’ll maim her, because I am in this situation of sufferness because of her wedding. I bobbed my head in the rain in affirmation of my conviction and looked on.

No car was even stopping. Imagine, stupid cars driven by undeserving people. They are not even fine cars! I hissed and looked down at my legs which were getting muddier by the minute.

That day was just unfortunate. I had dragged my last kobo,#1500 and had carried my two yam legs to the salon to stretch my hair because, team natural hair. Mama had already warned me to forget about it because the weather was unstable, one minute it will be clear, and the next it will be pregnant. But no,Amira didn’t listen, Amira had to slay.

My hair was hanging well below my shoulders after the yeye looking salon woman was done. I had already envisioned it hanging out of my gyale while I do rawan kai all over the wedding hall because the abokan ango were sure to be loaded. 

I mean his father was into oil, oily kids only hang around with fellow oily or political kids. Slayage was calling my name. And to top it all, I was going to be the MC to the event, all eyes were to be on me that night, looking drab was not even an option. 

So I had made my way against all odds because I couldn’t miss the golden chance to possibly get a good catch, they were going to be present, it was a shortcut and I was a booby trap in the making.

After my shrinkage and curls were straightened, I came out waiting for Napep without a kobo one me,I planned on asking Mama to give me the money after I reach home, like always. Story of a broke ass lady.

Imagine how my heart melted when I heard the rumble of thunder, I prayed harder than I ever had for that rain not to call but to no avail. I was scared of rains, I had rainophobia (if that’s something), the pelts of fat water felt like I was being stoned to death and I always felt claustrophobic no matter how open the space I was in. Rain suffocated me.

I had to look for a squattable tree to serve as shed as I didn’t find any building I could squat under but the rain was unrelenting. I felt every strand of my hair get wet and loose it’s strechiness until all I was left with was an empty pocket,a recently stretched hair turned kinky and a broken soul. 

Even the Napep men were running like crazy, clearly unwilling to stop, it was like they had x-rayed my wallet and had seen a fat zero.

About 5 minutes later when I had almost succumbed to the feeling of depression enveloping me, a car rolled over and stopped. The driver wound the glass down.

‘Get in’ he yelled over the rain. 

I was grateful. Even though I knew chances were he was a serial killer or kidnapper, I was still grateful. I’d take a human killing me over the rain any day and at that time, my breathing was already acting like a hormonal woman- moody.

As I stepped into the fine car (I have a soft spot for fine cars), I made up my mind that if he was a kidnapper, I’ll just tell him to kill me there. I know my Mama, she likes money too much, she won’t even listen to him not to talk of negotiating ransom, she will say she has five more kids, Allah ya sa na huta.

The man did not mind the fact that I entered the car along with enough rain water to fill a bucket and my shoes had carried almost all the mud of the world into the car, if he was a killer then he must be a nice one, and he wasn’t even bad looking. I peeked at his face again after my raspy breathing had almost returned to normal, you could even call him handsome if you are into that beardless look, I’m #beardgang forever.

‘Ina wuni’ I said after settling down. I have to showcase my tarbiya, maybe he will have mercy on me.

‘Lafiya yaya kike?’ he answered and started the engines.

‘Sorry about this’ I apologised for the mess I turned his front seat into. 

He smiled ‘No problem’.

Water was still dripping on the car seat. I resisted the strong urge to just wring my clothes in the car, he would have probably killed me early.

‘Are you from school?’ He asked maybe to break the uncomfortable silence.

‘No, the salon’ I answered.

‘Heading home?’

No I’m going to the abattoir. I thought sarcastically in my mind.

In reality, I merely nodded and gave him the address.

A few minutes later,he took a turn that was opposite mine. My heart skipped a bit. Calm down Amirah, I comforted myself, maybe he doesn’t know the way.

‘Ermm that’s not the turn. It’s the other way’.

‘Yes I know I just want to drop something at my sisters house. Sorry’.

I swallowed hard and let him drive on but a voice at the back of my mind was cautioning me that that’s how they deceive there victims. The moment he started taking some weird turns and going through some lungus,I knew I was in trouble. Just last month my best friend had been almost kidnapped, I never knew I was next…. this life!

‘Maybe you should just drop me here, the rain has even stopped’ my voice was obviously shaking and I could barely hear it over the sound of my heart beating 150km/minute. If I’m extremely lucky, a heart attack will kill me before he did. 

My fear was not of being murdered or kidnapped, it was of being raped. Dama Mama had warned me of the growing rate of ritualists disguised as kidnappers in Kaduna but did Amira listen? No. Now I am riding in a car with one, live and direct. Maybe the fine car was somebody’s destiny, or worse, blood money.

I tried to open the door but it was locked.

‘What are you doing?’ He asked with a frown.

‘Mallam dan Allah drop me here. I’m sorry for getting in the car. Wallahi my parents are not rich. You won’t even get anything from them’.

The problem with me is that I have a big, fat mouth but my panic always grows at an exponential rate so that the more I panic, the more I lose my wit and do something stupid. I didn’t even know tears were falling from my eyes.

‘Who told you I am trying to kidnap you?’

‘Mallam the nooks you are entering ai mun kusa barin Kaduna. You can kill me but please don’t destroy my dignity. Or please don’t even kill me’. I begged as a second thought. Call him Mallam, he might remember God and let you go.

At that point, I realised that I was scared of dying just as bad. Was I even ready to face God?

‘Look Mallama I was just trying to help you because I found you stranded in the rain. Ke ba ‘yar gidan Alhaji Zubair bace?’.

He even knew my fathers name. Maybe this was all planned. Maybe he had been stalking me.

He had probably noticed that my panic had renewed because he said ”Look maybe you don’t recognise me because you were younger when we last met, I am Anty Hassana’s brother and her daughter is getting married today. I just got some souvenirs and I am trying to take it there on time so that they can arrange it before the dinner then I’ll take you home’.

Then came a new rain, it wasn’t in it’s physical form, it was in the form of lasers of embarrassment. The kunya I felt could not be described. And it was after he said it that I recognized him. It wasn’t my fault, I hadn’t seen him in over ten years and the rate of kidnapping was enough to make me reach that conclusion. 

‘Then why are you following lungu?’ I asked in a small voice.

‘It’s a shortcut’. He answered, he sounded amused. Dafuq was he amused at?

‘Aw’ I mumbled. By the time we arrived Anty Hassana’s house, he was already laughing at me much to my chagrin. He didn’t even have the decency to pretend it wasn’t funny that I had made a complete fool of myself.

You know the worst part? It was the same wedding I was hosting and he attended the dinner. 

Throughout the wedding I was as uncomfortable as one with a diaper filled with poop because he was just staring at me and laughing. 

Did I slay? I didn’t even apply makeup oily children be damned. But I tried my best as a host despite the embarrassment eating me whole.

Bashir still never misses an opportunity to remind me of that incidence, and it still isn’t funny. 

He says ‘At least we have a story to tell the grandkids’.

‘The day you tell the grandkids will be the day you look for a new grandmother for them’. I always reply.

‘Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all?’ But she knew the answer. Jamila was still the most beautiful of them all.

She dipped her fingers inside the jar and lathered on more cream. Maybe if she was lighter skinned, it wouldn’t be Jamila. Maybe if she exercises more it wouldn’t be Jamila, maybe if her hair was to grow longer, it wouldn’t be Jamila. Because Jamila’s beauty was swaying even her boyfriend and she was not having any of it.

But she couldn’t fault her best friend for being so naturally Masha Allah. She could only just admire too. Jamila always had men on her heels. Her aura and looks drew men to her and made women envy her. 

‘They must wonder why Jamila is even friends with me’ she muttered to herself. ‘With this ugly duckling’.

She wasn’t mad at Jamila for getting her boyfriends attention, she had caught him stare in wonder at Jamila many times and she had been silently miffed. But she wanted to keep being friends with Jamila, she at least got some male attention when Jamila was around even if it was vicarious. Besides she didn’t want to see her best friend mad.

But he was going to have it because she had had enough, the fact that they were flirting on the phone was beyond keeping mum.

Jamila was about to come. She didn’t tell her mother this time because the last time her mother saw Jamila, she had a scared and confused look in her eyes. She reapplied the lipstick and patted some powder on it to give it a matte finish, it was too glossy. She wanted to look beautiful, her boyfriend was coming soon and Jamila was almost there… and still a threat.

She saw Jamila through the mirror. She looked beautiful as always. She was wearing makeup too but she would have looked great even without any. She smiled a bit.

‘How far?’ She asked.

Jamila replied from behind the mirror ‘I’m good. Is Le Hub in the waiting here yet?’ 

Jannah pressed her lips together in annoyance. She didn’t like the way Jamila acted as if he was dating them both, but she didn’t like the way Abdul was responding even more… she had read their chats.

Jamila smirked, as if she could read her mind. But maybe she could, Jannah wouldn’t put anything past Jamila.

As if on cue, her phone rang, it was Abdul. 

‘Le Hub is here’ Jamila chirped in delight and Jannah’s frown deepened. She snatched her veil and went out.

‘Hi’ Abdul said with a smile once she settled in the car.

Jannah didn’t respond. She just folded her arms and stared out through the window. She was so angry but she was a chicken. She couldn’t stand confrontation and that was why she avoided talking to bold Jannah about it. 

And for all the fuming she was doing she was loosing the steam now that she was near Abdul.

‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ Abdul asked a frown etched on his face. He should have been used to her mood swings but he still worried when she suddenly turned from cold to loving and from prudish to flirty.

She simply shook her head, then some seconds later as if as an afterthought, she turned face on and started 

‘ Why would you do that Abdul?’

He kept silent, he was trying to think up what he did that was wrong and at the same time trying to see where she was heading to.

‘I know I’m not particularly pretty or anything but you said you loved me, you chased me until I practically handed you my heart and now you are going behind my back flirting with my best friend? Why?’

‘Jannah what are you talking about?’ He asked perplexed. But he couldn’t fool her, in the seconds he was silent she had seen the guilt fleet through his eyes.

She laughed bitterly ‘ And here I was thinking you are the two people I trust most’.

‘What are you saying? Are you okay? Is this some joke or a test? Because it’s not funny’. Abdul cried. She wasn’t listening.

‘No don’t’ she stopped him with her palms. ‘Don’t even, because I saw your text messages and you were flirting with her. You were flirting with Jamila and you were even telling her how beautiful she is…’ she chocked on the tears and words both fighting to come out of her throat. She was furious and depleted at the same time. Couldn’t she have one thing of her own.

Abdul’s eyes were wide. He looked confused and scared. 

‘But that was you. What are you saying. You called me with that number months ago and I saved it and we chatted occasionally on it from that time, I had no idea it wasn’t your number’.

‘You are lying you double timing…’ she couldn’t say bastard. She wanted so bad to call him a bastard but she couldn’t. ‘You were calling her name you were saying Jamila, you were saying you even preferred her to me how could you’.

‘I thought’ he started then stopped ‘I thought it was an act. You said you are Jamila and I said you are because you deserve that name and you even sent me a picture, your picture! The voice notes were your voice. But’ he lowered his voice ‘but you were different’. He kept quiet and really studied her as she furiously went through her phone and shoved it in his face.

‘I have screenshots of your messages and this, this is Jamila’s picture’. 

Abdul didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. She was right, he had been chatting with Jamila. He had been dating two people; Jiddah and Jamila, and he didn’t even know it.

She scoffed bitterly and shook her head.

‘Cat got your tongue? You never thought I’ll find out did you?’

‘No’ he said with a small smile, ‘I never did’.

She looked through the side mirror and scorned. ‘Here comes your beauty queen’. 

And he looked too, and he did see Jamila, the same Jamila he saw on Jannah’s phone. And he must admit, the confidence, the poise, the aura, it was Jamila, but the person, it was all Jannah.

He never knew he’d be with one much less be so close as to contemplate marrying one but his girlfriend, his Jannah, his Jamila had split personality, like that movie Split. She had, he racked his brain to remember the disorder, ‘ Dissociative Identity Disorder’. She was two in order and only Allah knows how many more resided in her.

Jannah left Abdul and went back home. He had admitted and she couldn’t decide whether to break it with him or… it was all so confusing. She needed time to think things through. And Jamila; she had apologized and promised to stop talking to him but she couldn’t be so foolish as to believe.

She stood before the mirror clutching a hairbrush and asked softly like she’d always done since she was a teen when being bullied about her body image almost drove her mad, she whispered ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all’.

And amidst the tears shading her eyes-she could see clearly through the mirror- Jamila looking back, a smug smile splayed on her face.

He was having a very bad day. He wasn’t sure the day could get worse but if it did, then he might completely lose it and breakdown. 

His landlady sent him packing so that the meagre clothings he had were thrown in a worn out, shabby backpack, along with his last money, some measly six hundred and fifty naira. His phone had been stolen a day ago else he could have probably called his rich Aunt to appeal for some funds and Binta had broken up with him because he couldn’t send her the 500 naira recharge card she had demanded for. 

She had already had enough of his bullshit according to her and he had tripped his last card. 

But that wasn’t the worse thing. The worse thing was that he couldn’t get any pot to smoke. The six fifty could sustain him on garri and some moldy bread sold at a cheaper price for some days but that was it, his weed funds were out.

He would have to resort to the job he had rejected, manual labour. He hated working and the only reason why he wasn’t in a gang of thieves was because his late mother had made him promise her he wouldn’t do anything illegal as a source of income. Sometimes, he hated himself for promising her.

He was tired of walking, he had to trek the length of the city to locate his friends house for temporary asylum. A lone shade offered some solace to his lonely self and he walked towards it already sighing in anticipation of being away from the scorching heat.

The shed wasn’t empty. It was occupied by an old man whose wretched possessions were scattered all over. His face contorted in annoyance as if he had found someone taking up his personal space.

He lowered himself and sighed. He was thirsty. He had no water to drink and there was no shop in sight. In fact, the place was partially deserted as it always was. There were just a few houses scattered around, everyone avoided the area because of the rampancy of rascals.

He glanced at the old man who looked creepier than most haggard homeless old men and hissed. He didn’t know why the old man was consistently staring at him. 

He arranged his bag beneath his head and placed his hand on the side where his last money was. Then he dozed off.

He jolted with a start, he had slept off apparently without realizing it. He knew something must have woken him up but he wasn’t sure what it was. He hissed again and readjusted his head on his bag- on the place where his bag was meant to be – because his head lay rudely on bare sand.

He sat up with a start, eyes wide searching for his bag. The old man looked at him keenly as if he was an interesting thing, chuckled, then laughed.

‘Why are you laughing old man?’ he asked still dazed. ‘Where’s my bag? You stole my bag you crook’. 

He held the old man by his worn out lapel. 

‘It wasn’t I, it was some kids. You were sleeping like a log, didn’t even feel them take it from beneath your head’ he shook his head ‘ lazy children of nowadays’.

He wasn’t even sure what to do to the man. He was super annoyed. 

‘ And you let them? You didn’t wake me up?’.

The old man shrugged ‘ Better you than me’.

He was furious now, and since he couldn’t be furious at the culprits, he directed it towards the old man. He balled his palm to fist and knocked the old man right in the middle of the head. Then he snatched the cap the old man stored his begging loot in and rushed away with it leaving the old man to clutch his head in pain.

For some reason, the sight made him laugh. He laughed so hard he doubled over. The old man deserved it for being a silent party to the theft. And what he did wasn’t stealing, he hardly thinks his mother would mind.

‘You know what they say boy’ the old man said between gritted teeth ‘ he who laughs last laughs longest’.

That made him burst into another fit of laughter. Silly fool. He had lost his few belongings but at least he was having a good laugh out of it. If every loss will make his spirit dampen he would have been in the bottom of a river by now.

He walked off still laughing. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t stop laughing. He didn’t start noticing something wrong until when he walked on for three minutes and he was still laughing.

Okay that’s enough laughter for one day you can stop now, he told himself. But he couldn’t. He kept on laughing even as he tried to close his mouth and stop emitting any sound.

He laughed on even as panic rose within him and set like a pregnant cloud full of terror. He laughed on…

The old man had cursed him. The sudden realization gave him an adrenaline pump and he turned and ran back towards the shed. 

Ever seen a man running and laughing like his life depended on it? Well he did. It wasn’t funny to him but to anyone who might be watching, it was a funny sight.

He arrived the shed, the old man had left, no traces of his footprints were visible, all the stuff scattered around where gone and in their place, his bag lay. He didn’t want his bag, he though in annoyance. He wanted his sanity back. 

‘He who laughs last laughs longest’ the words of the old man rang in his ears as if he was just an inch away from him.

Luck or lack of it comes in different forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a pretty lady you meet during your close friend’s wedding.

Zainab was the friendly and chatty but unimposing type. I didn’t appreciate her friendliness at first, but the more she spoke, the more I became acquainted with her humor, she had that kind of effect.

She did not only have an alluring personality she also looked like riches, it drew the ladies to her like a moth. Her father had to be someone, no questions asked.

I noticed she was different. She acted different, she dressed different (she wore no asoebi, in it’s place was a lace that could rival the brides) and she spoke different. I’ll ask Anisa, the bride where she knew her from, I mentally noted.

It wasn’t long before it was clear that Zainab was a resilient entrepreneur and even has blood relations with the Dangote’s, she had a picture of her with a group of women at Halima Dangote’s wedding as backing. She was a little perfect woman in her perfect world  and I could see a reflection of my awe and envy in the eyes of the other brides friends. 

‘All these business women be intimidating us with their big life’ Our friend Amma said after we had snapped over 50 glorious pictures on Zainab’s IPhone XS Max. I nudged her with my elbow. Amma is the I-say-whatever-is-on-my-mind-and-i-don’t-care-what-you-think type. 

‘It’s true now’. She said as she munched on a cake. ‘Which business do you even do like this. Because I feel it in my veins that I will soon become rich too. Let’s gist rich girl to potential rich girl’.

Zainab threw her head back and laughed heartily. She wasn’t at all pompous or offended by Amma’s innocently careless words.

‘I see it too honestly. You have the look of a great entrepreneur in your eyes. Always searching for new opportunities’. 

What Amma? The makings of a great entrepreneur as untactical as she was? Call me Bill Gates. 

Amma turned and smirked at me. She had already started playing rich. Not one to be left behind especially since there’s a prospect that the secret to Zainab’s riches were about to be leaked and I could also have a chance to connect with this Dangote blooded woman, I also scouted closer and opened my ears.

‘I deal with everything a woman may need ranging from lingerie, to kitchen stuff, to adornment, to furniture to clothings, to beddings… just say woman and I’m here. Sometimes I venture into houses, cars and electronics’.

I looked her over. She didn’t look stressed out at all. She looked like ‘yar hutu, a typical spoilt child who cannot do a days work to save her life. 

‘How do you manage all that?’ Aisha asked. Zainab’s audience had multiplied to 5 and I hadn’t even noticed.

‘I have connections on both ends, the sellers and the buyers. You think I source for all those goods myself?’ She said with a small smile, scanned our eyes to make sure we were fitfully entranced, then continued, this time dropping big names that usually ended with Dangote, Dantata, Indimi, Dankabo, Chachangi and Azman.

‘Anty…. is a dealer for Prestige products while Uncle…. has a huge shop filled with the latest Super Waxes, Anty…. is into cosmetics , Brother… has a car company, …. is into real estate ‘. Names and money rolled off her lips like they meant nothing.  In my mind all could think was I want to be like you when I grow up.

‘So what I do is called drop-shipping. I advertise for them, get a buyer, send them the money, hold my commission and have the product delivered to the buyer, ’. Easy peasy. 

‘Wow!’ I breathed out. No wonder!  ‘So you are like the marketer, advertiser and middle man all in one?’.

‘Exactly. It will fit you’.  She said while regarding me. I practically glowed, I knew I had a sleeping entrepreneurial streak in me. Wakey wakey.

‘So if you are interested I could hook you up with them. I could deal directly with you but I honestly am so busy with what’s on my plate. I’ll just give you their numbers and vice versa, you see what they sell, negotiate your commission and you advertise. They usually don’t care how much you add to the price as long as you sell’.

‘Sign me up!’ Aisha said with a raised hand. Aisha is over ambitious, I bet she can sell a house in a few days just so she can have money and belong to the riches crew.

‘I’m definitely interested’ Ibtisam declared.  I rolled my eyes. Ibtisam is only interested because she can have contacts of men from big families, she is currently actively husband hunting. Which may not be such a bad idea. 

So that was how 7 of us got into drop-shipping with Zainab, kin of the Dantatas.

I was so excited. Especially when I started communicating with the big named, big business people who always spoke busily like you were interrupting a million dollar sale so you have to round off quickly with whatever you were saying. 

The first I spoke to Muhammad Tijjani Dantata, my insides became a puddle. His tush tone and polished British English just flew away with me. I was calling him husband in my head.

I got my first customers the first week. Everything went according to plan. Shoes,bags, makeup stuff were delivered within a few days of transaction and I got some money from it. I didn’t even spend a kobo. I just took my profit, sent the money and the goods were delivered. I started aiming higher especially since Aisha just sold a TV.

Soon, we were all actively seeking bigger things, bigger commission. Aisha was negotiating a car sale, I couldn’t be left behind. My brother-in-law wanted to buy a new car, he had finally decided to change his tired looking car and my sister suggested my services. See me, my family members have moved from mocking to patronizing me. Money is good.

Then my boss wanted to get a house for his newest bride -to-be and he fell in love with houses up for sale. And that was how I was head locked in a car and house deal. Ecstasy had nothing on my happiness.

The prices where very good. My commission was enough to get me second hand small car and the customers were happy.  My boss had gone to see the house with an agent, it was perfect.

I sent the deposits of the money, millions of naira and the car was on it’s way, my boss’s house was sold.

I called Amma and I swear I could smell her jealousy through the phone. It was my turn to smirk. She had ordered for her cousins entire kitchen utensils including some electronics. It was huge money but it wasn’t hefty millions of Naira worth of house.

My bother-in-law called me a week later.

‘Has your car arrived?’ I asked him excitedly. 

‘That’s what I wanted to ask. I’m yet to get it. They said 4 days max’.

‘Okay I’ll call them’ I said and rolled my eyes. He is such a nag.

I called the car dealers office. They said the rains had made them stall off the delivery from Lagos. But it’s on the way.

Barely 5 minutes later, Aisha called me. The car she had finished all negotiations and payments on 3 weeks ago is yet to come. Zainab is not picking her calls and she sounded like she was in tears. 

My heart skipped a beat. Worry not…breathe…false alarm. I tried Zainab’s number, she assured me that everything was under control and Aisha was unnecessarily panicking. I breathed. I knew there was no cause for alarm.

I called Aisha and told her what Zainab said. She was silent for a while.

‘Have you spoken to Amma?’ She asked.

‘No, what happened?’.

‘Her cousins wedding is in two weeks time and the kitchen stuff has not been delivered.’ Aisha said and sniffed.  I was momentarily blank, then confusion rolled in and fear eventually bubbled. 

I felt faint, like the ground I was on was paper thin and It could cave in right away. 

‘Ibtisam and Fatima have not received any response either’. Aisha’s words buzzed around my head.

Before I could say a word Aisha continued ‘I called Anisa and asked her if she could get through to Zainab and she said she had never seen her in her life. She said she thought Zainab came with you because you came in at the same time’.

She’s fraud Ummi, Zainab is fraud and we just entered one chance’. 

 It was too much, the phone was burning my fingers like her words had caught fire.

I threw the phone on the ground like it was the source of my confusion. I could hear it ring but I couldn’t move to answer it.

An hour later, maybe less, I picked the phone up still dazed. My boss had left 12 missed calls and a message. ‘The house you sold to me is currently occupied by people claiming to be the owners. CALL ME ASAP’. 

‘No!’ A whimper escaped from my throat. No this is impossible. I couldn’t even cry real tears, tears, it turns out are a privilege.

I sat huddled up in a corner, dialling Zainabs number, I knew the response I’ll receive ‘Number is currently switched off’. And I understood, there and then, I understood why people will want to take their own lives.

I never thought I’ll send my profile to any page on Instagram in response to men looking for a wife/ soulmate/ life partner. 

I always thought it was too silly, if a person is destined for you, the person will be yours even if he resides in Mars. 

But then maybe it was the thought of turning 28 soon with no prospect of a wedding in view,  or maybe it was maturity settling in with a bam! and unsitting my firm believe in never doing anything to get a man. Whatever it was, I had a moment of epiphany. And in it,  it is okay to fast track meeting the one as long as it’s through a halal means. So the day I saw a request by a man whose words sounded earnest and whose English looked flawless enough for me, I found myself messaging Northern Hibiscus… and mumbling a prayer while at it.

She didn’t reply for a day. I was fidgety, nervous, anxious and in constant trepidation about the implication. What if I come off as desperate, what if he is an axe murderer, what if I don’t like him at all and I have to lay him off, I hate doing that- I’m a softie. I wanted to retract the message but she’d already seen it. The last what if was the one that made me the most nervous- What if the account of Northern Hibiscus is hacked and her inbox are screenshotted and my careless gesture is splayed bare to the whole world- the shame.

But she replied, the next day,  she replied with a phone number. He just saw my profile, he didn’t ask for a photo, he liked me enough to give my number. ‘Can I get his Instagram handle instead?’ I asked her. 

‘He isn’t on Instagram’ came the short reply. What?!

He sent me a message first a day later. I had already convinced myself he wouldn’t message and hang me if I message him first. I was convinced it was for the best if he doesn’t, but the inner me wasn’t delighted, she is a curious one.

So while I groaned when he messaged, she cheered and hi-fived herself. Then we started talking and I couldn’t help but cheer and hi-five myself.  He was like a gold fish in a river full of tilapia, the perfect catch, and I snagged him. 

Sadiq bought me from the word ‘hello’. His diction and play of words is so mesmerizing I’d read our chats everyday over any English text. If you know me, you know a good command of diction is my weakness. I am vain brained but whatever. The more we chatted,  the more I liked. We didn’t exchange pictures till two months later, we didn’t even request so, we weren’t interested in the physical so much as the logical… or lexical rather. But he wasn’t all English, I swear he was something of everything,  any subject, any topic, my guy knows it, a freaking walking Encarta. 

As a sucker for intellectual conversations, I was gone within the first week. He said he liked my mind. It’s special with a touch of weird,  I say the oddest things at the right time, which was perfect because I loved his.

The day we exchanged picture, It became a fact written on stone. I could marry him,  I wanted to, I had to. No better man for me out there. He was just like I had envisioned,  not better, not worse, Just. Like. 

That day, he told me he had to come see me, see if I was real, I was too good to be real ‘that brain and that beauty is a deadly combo’ his words. 

I had asked him too,  I had asked why when he could have half of the female population,  send a request on social media. He said half of the female population weren’t for him, just one woman is and he may have found her. 

Apparently the day her messaged NH, he just woke up, prayed and less than 5 minutes later, he found himself opening an Instagram account and sending a message to Northern Hibiscus ( he already knew about her). He had made up his mind to accept the first person to reply. Somehow, he knew it will be me, not me me, but me. Yes he was also a hopeless romantic like that.

We kept on chatting, this time knowing what the other looked like, but not how the other sounded like. You see, we have never had a phone conversation,  nor exchanged a voice note, nor done a video call. And it was cool with us. I had hinted on a phone call once and he had said that he wasn’t a call person. I respected that.

I began counting down. Weeks to when he takes his annual leave, days and before I knew it, hours. The days leading to when he was coming, I could barely contain my excitement.  I told everyone in my house; my husband is coming!. 

‘Habiba there’s something very important that I’d like to tell you but I’d rather do it face to face’  he said after it was established that he was coming the next month.

I had worried. What was it? He was married most likely. The good ones always were. My heart was unsettled because somehow,  I had a feeling it was big.

‘You are married? You have kids? Divorced? You don’t like potatoes? Because that’s a deal breaker for me’.

‘Lol. None of the above. Calm down’.

He typed back then wrote something that made me laugh and made my worry reduce.

We contemplated on where to meet first. Whether to meet at home or in some other public place. Sadiq is a very modest person. He wasn’t interested in anything that can lead to a ‘haram relationship’ because he said that he genuinely wanted to marry me. So he’d rather home or a public place because he couldn’t trust himself otherwise. I found that very respectful. 

I was ready by the time he said he’d left the airport and was heading to town. I had no makeup on, I was barefaced, literally trying to be transparent. I wanted to come as I am because if he appreciates that then he is a sure keeper. Our relationship was never a pretentious one.

My younger sister rushed into the room. “He’s here’. She declared and my heart slid down and lodged below my stomach.  Here we go…

I spritzed some perfume. Checked myself in the mirror. Rubbed on some lip balm. Adjusted my headtie and veil and finally went down.

The car door opened slowly as I approached,  I was to walk him in. To avoid plenty awkwardness, we decided to meet outside first and as he stepped out in his full manly glory,  I knew that my fate was sealed. I didn’t know when a giant foolish smile plastered itself on my face.

He came towards me with a giant foolish smile of his own. He was taller than he seemed. Good. How did you snag this one you…? I asked myself and my inner self offered me a high-five.

‘Hi’. I said with a little wave. His presence was so easy, it wasn’t as awkward as I thought it’d be.

He smiled and returned back my small wave in an oh-so-charmingly -boyish manner my inner self groaned and sighed. Especially when two shy dimples crept out. I didn’t notice that enticing feature in the pictures. Even better!.

‘So… how was your journey?’. I asked.

His smile grew even wider and he gave a thumbs up. 

Okay… That’s weird. 

‘So …’ I said. In my mind I was like say something. 

He brought out his phone and started going through it. The f**k! I thought. My brows were furrowing together in an ill-concealed frown.

Then he pushed the phone in my face.

‘You are so beautiful’. It read.  Even though the sincerity and emotions in that sentence was almost tangible, my frown deepened. 

‘Thank you’ I mouthed. But my voice was low. Why didn’t he say something? Why did he have to type that and not say it? It was not possible.  But… but it seemed like it. It wasn’t possible that my Sadiq, was dumb. But how?.

He was watching me intently as I struggled with the realisation. His smile had faltered and I could see a shadow of sadness settle over his face.

It was true then.

‘Sadiq’ I said tightly. He looked away. A small gasp escaped from my throat and I covered my mouth with my palms. The shock coursing through my bones made me feel faint.

‘Sadiq’ I called his name again this time, my voice pained. He shut his eyes and looked away.

Then he removed a letter from his pocket and gave it to me. On the envelope read  ‘Please Read This Habibty’.

I didn’t know why I reacted that way, but I slapped the envelope from his hands and fled back in. Why? Why me? Why him? Why didn’t he tell me?

Why now? Why this?!

I ran back as fast as my legs could go against the sting of hot, betrayed tears. But even as I ran, I knew that I’ll go back to him, I knew I felt bad for him, I knew that it wasn’t enough to keep us apart, but it hurt that I’ll never know the voice of love.

It was later, much later, after I’d taken a month to myself to think and heal.  After he and his family and mine had pursued me and tried to make me see reason, after I’d agreed and given in, that my sister told me that she saw all that happened from the balcony . And that after I had slapped the letter from his hands, it had fallen into a small puddle made of the June rains, and he had dejectedly picked it up, shaken the water away and wiped a stray tear from his eyes. She said it was the single most heartbreaking scene she had ever witnessed.

She was the first person he saw after buying his ticket and proceeding to the waiting area.   His sense pricked up on high alert the moment he laid eyes on her and the first thing that came to his mind was -soft. She looked so soft and fragile like a delicate cluster of cloud or cotton candy.

It seemed like she wasn’t walking, she was gliding through and she had a meek demeanour but exuded confidence.  She looked like a no-nonsense lamb. He couldn’t help but stare at her, eyes filled with wondrous confusion.

She softly landed on a seat almost opposite his, looked around disinterestingly before whipping out her phone.  He was holding his phone too but it was only so that it wouldn’t be too obvious to her or anyone the fact that he was staring at her from above the phone

Then it was time to board. He watched her struggle with a medium sized box, a small luggage and her hand bag over the flight of stairs that led to the platform where the train awaited them.

His gentlemanly instincts which was otherwise dormant but for the sights of damsels in distress and a few choice moments kicked in and he approached her. He was nervous.  He had never been that nervous to approach a girl. Not even the fiery ones. But he had sweaty palms in anticipation of talking to a lamb.

‘Do you need help with that’?   He asked her, his faint British accent becoming more accentuated by the lob-dob of his heart.

She turned to him, a sweet smile already plastered on her face.

‘Don’t worry, I’m good. Thanks though’. Her voice was like he imagined.  Cottony. Soft and melodious like she was singing softly in speech.

How modest, he thought. The baggage was obviously dragging her back. He had to help. He wondered why she didn’t take the elevator instead but he wasn’t complaining, it was his grand opening.

‘I know you are.  But it seems unfair, I have just a laptop bag and you have three bags. It’s just fair to share’. He flashed her his most charming smile.

She looked at the bags as if in contemplation, turned her gaze to him, then wordlessly extended the big box to him. He collected it, thought fleetingly of how he just acted like a bellboy and hoped she won’t attempt to give him some change after they reach their seats.

‘I can help you with that one too’. He motioned at the smaller hand luggage. Her eyes widened in an emotion he couldn’t decipher, she stared down at it and shook her head.

‘I’m fine really. Thanks’ another smile.

They were both in first class. Good. First class tends to have empty seats so even of they weren’t seat mates, he hoped the seat near hers will be vacant. The connection he felt with her couldn’t just be lost on the train.

‘What’s your seat number?’ He asked, he willed her to say seat 31, the one near his.

’54’ she replied. Dang!

He hauled her box up the rack. She smiled in appreciation.
‘Thank you. Where’s your seat’. She was just being polite.

’32’ he said motioning with his head to the rows of seats behind.

She nodded, he stood still for a  bit waiting for an invitation from her to join the seat but she had already settled on her seat and was rummaging through her handbag. The hand luggage was wedged between her leg and the seat in front of her and it looked uncomfortable.

He bent to help her put it up also on the rack but was cut off by an alarmed sound the moment his hand touched the bag.

‘Don’t touch that!’ She exclaimed.  Then realised her voice was a notch higher than cottony. She lowered her eyes in shyness and looked away. ‘I want this one beside me’ she explained further.

He nodded and left wondering about the very sudden outburst. His mother had always warned him to never open a lady’s bag, he may be surprised at the things he might find. His mother never said anything about touching it.

He settled on his seat but his mind was restless and soon enough, his body grew restless too. Something was enigmatic about her. He wanted to find out.

He stood up and pretended he was going to buy something in the corner canteen . He wanted to see if the seat near her was like his, empty.  But there was an elderly man seated there struggling to settle his laptop on the small fold-in table attached to the back of the seat in front of them.

He passed by them. She was still typing on her phone. He bought two meatpies and two drinks them came back beside the man who sat beside ‘his lady’.

‘ Sir if you want to work on your laptop you could have my seat. It’s that one in the middle by the charging  point.  If the lady assents of course’.

Both he and the man turned to look at her, both with pleading eyes. She smiled for a fraction of a second then shrugged.  The man thanked him, carried his bag and headed to the table spot. With the charging point near him, he could finish his preparing his presentation long enough to have time to hack into his girlfriend’s instagram account.  He had a feeling she’s doing something fishy over there.

‘I’m sorry. I hope I’m not imposing myself’ he said, he didn’t sound sorry.

‘I don’t mind’ she replied. He extended the snack and drink to her, she shook her head. He insisted,  she collected it and kept it near him. Then they started talking.

Because her speech is soft, one will hardly notice how much of a conversationalist she was. But he noticed,  as he noticed everything about her. Like the way her gze kept gliding by the bag.

They spoke about plenty things, their family, their early life, University.  She didn’t go into depth,  she avoided some aspects, he noticed that too.

Before he knew it, they had arrived. Ut was the shortest Abuja -Kaduna train ride he had ever been on.

He helped her with her bag. They went down the stairs and stood at the end waiting for their rides.  Hers came first and he was ad to say goodbye. At least he had her number. Our love story started on the train. It was a classic one. That was what he’ll tell their kids and grandkids,  he thought.

It was only when he heard a phone ring beside him that ge realised in horror,  she had forgotten her lady bad.

He picked it up. Moved forward trying to see whether they were still in view or had turned back to get it but the cars and people where fewer then. It was already past 8:00 pm. Last train for the day.

He decided to open it and answer. No doubt it was she trying to get her phone back.

He opened the bag, reached for the phone, froze. It was no lady bad, it was a death bag. There was a sleek metallic gun, some bottles, three fingers wrapped in something like cling film, some clothes stained with blood and by the side, huddled between the clothes, a human skull stared at him with empty hollowed out sockets.

He dropped the bag in fear and turned around in confusion hoping no one had seen him but he saw her. She smiled,  itbwas everything but warm and fluffy.

‘It’s quite unfortunate.  I really liked you. Didn’t your mother teach you not to open a lady’s bag?’.

Before he could move, a car stopped behind him. He heard the door open and all in a split second with shock rendering him immobile, someone covered his face with a cloth heavy with chloroform and he sunk into it’s intoxicating lure all the while staring into her eyes. Her hardened, lifeless, scary eyes.

He should have heeded his mother’s advice.