Listening for the slightest sound, Adaeze slowly edged towards the door. She wondered again what Edmund used that got her so tired. Ordinary walking was a huge task; she was already breathing heavily. The fear of getting caught was not helping matters.
Feeling the breeze on her face for the first time in a long time, she understood why there were prison breaks. She was temporarily rooted to the spot when she realized she had no place to go as she had no idea where she was and it didn’t help that it was night.
Tempted to break down in helpless tears, she shook her head as she edged towards the gate with less determination. She was no longer afraid of getting caught. She was not sure she could escape.
She couldn’t speak the strange dialect and she didn’t know her way around. A little voice also reminded her that she knew almost nothing of the culture and traditions of the land. For all she knew, she could be jumping out of a frying pan into the fire.
“Death rather than dishonor,” she muttered to herself. The fear of strange men sleeping with her repeatedly made her move.
She was about opening the gate when the headlamps of a car reflected on it. Quickly darting behind the gate, she waited for the car to pass by. She was disappointed and her fear increased when the driver blared the car horn, expecting someone to open the gate.
Who could be coming here by this time? She wondered.
Dread curled down her spine as she heard the driver come out of the car. “Where are these people?”
It was Edmund’s voice.
Adaeze knew that she had to make a decision to either run back into the house or get ready for a fight which she was bound to lose for her little reserved energy was seriously depleted.
“Maybe they are sleeping,” someone else in the car replied. It was a voice Adaeze recognized but could not place the owner.
“What kind of sleep are they sleeping that they can’t come out to get the door? Even a sleep of the dead won’t be so deep,” Edmund said with a slight chuckle as he knocked the gate. “They even left it opened… Emeka, something is wrong,” he ended.
Adaeze remembered Emeka, the owner of the familiar voice. The first time she had met Emeka was at the beach party the night Edmund proposed to her. When did he and Edmund get so close that he was following him to his hometown, could it be that they had staged the ‘coincident’ party she had witnessed?
She didn’t know where reality ended and paranoia began. She could trust nothing that had a connection with Edmund. Her short days here had shown her that she was an unfortunate prey. She had fallen into a trap because she had allowed herself to remain blind to all the signs and had ignored her mother’s express disagreement.
The squeaking of the opening gate reminded Adaeze that she was yet to decide what her action will be.
Quickly running behind a tree and hoping that she was well hidden, she watched as Edmund drove in. she was terribly weak, but the need for survival held her up. She knew she had to try her best even if it was the last thing she did.
Edmund hurried inside, not bothering about his visitors in her car which included three other men apart from Emeka.
Deciding that she was not going to dwell on the possibility that Edmund had brought more men to impregnate her, she focused on keeping her strength.
“There’s no one in the house,” Edmund said to no one in particular as he ran back outside. “What if that witch had escaped? And they all went looking for her?”
“Witch?” Emeka asked
“Yes na. Adaeze. Is she not a witch with the way she fought us even when unconscious? I had to give her an overdose. See how long it took us to get her here which got that herbalist impatient and so he left. He would have made her forget everything about her past, and life would have been easier.”
“She’s not a witch. She is just a dumb good girl,” Emeka argued. “What do we do? If she has truly escaped, we are in trouble if she tells the story. I told you she was a bad choice. Clara was perfect; at least I wouldn’t have felt guilty, knowing she was not an innocent person. Adaeze didn’t deserve this.”
“Emeka, I don’t need to hear this now. I told you what my mother said. Besides with Nkechi’s lifestyle, we can’t count out abortion from her past sins. I couldn’t take chances. I needed a good girl who cpuld get pregnant fast,” Edmund explained, pacing.
“Yeah, you had to ruin the life of a good girl, an innocent woman whose only wrong was to fall for you?” Emeka wouldn’t let go. “It had to be what your mother said. It always has to be her calling the shot.”
“What is wrong with you? Where is all this coming from?”
“From guilt Edmund, from guilt and fear. That girl was good, and we did her wrong, now she has escaped and we will be busted and you expect me to keep calm?”
“Guys, we have a problem on our hands,” one of the other men said. “We have no idea why the house is empty and you are here arguing about who was right and wrong?”
Adaeze was too weak to listen to all these standing, and so she allowed herself slide to the ground. She knew she was not going to survive. For the umpteenth time, she wondered how she could have been blind to the evilness in Edmund, and how she had left God’s protection.
“You left His protection after you told Him you were tired of waiting for His own time, and were going to say yes to the next man who showed interest in you, no matter how bad he might seem. You got what you indirectly asked for,” a voice said, further weakening her.
She had put herself into this mess.
The men were still arguing and were almost at the point of exchanging blows, and so didn’t notice the gate opening as her mother in-law and two men came in. The one whose eyes she scratched was absent. She hoped she left him blind.
Adaeze realized that the number of men was greatly reduced, but it gave her no reason to smile. She was still in danger.
“Edmund, why are you shouting all over the place by this time of the night?” Her mother in-law asked. “Emeka what is going on here?” she turned to Emeka. “I don’t think the reason you came here is to quarrel in my presence.”
“Good evening Ma,” Emeka greeted with so much humility that Adaeze wondered just how much power her mother in-law had.
“Mama where is she?” Edmund got to the point.
“Where is who, Edmund?”
“Adaeze. Where is she?”
“We left her sleeping. Ndubuisi had an accident in her room, and we went to treat him. Is she not there?”
“What kind of accident?” Emeka asked, suspiciously.
“Don’t mind that fool. I told him it was a taboo to sleep with a woman on her period, but he tried. He said she scratched his eyes, but she was asleep when we entered the room when he shouted. He said he was no longer interested that she is evil.”
“Mama she is not here. I searched the house. Are you sure we didn’t make a mistake choosing her?”
Adaeze was trying hard to keep her eyes open as she took in all the information. She hoped she survived this. She doubted she would.
“If she is not in the house, she couldn’t have gone far. She is very weak, and she doesn’t know her way around,” her mother inlaw said, ignoring her son’s question of fear. “Let’s check the compound first, then we check outside.”
Adaeze had always known her mother in-law was smarter than her son. She was also more evil.
It was a matter of minutes before Adaeze was found by Edmund, by then she was on the verge of unconsciousness, and she was almost certain she would not wake up.
“I am going to kill you for this prank you played,” he said through gnashed teeth, choking off the little consciousness she held on to.
“God please forgive me, please,” Adaeze managed to mutter, as she tried to breathe through Edmund’s hold on her neck. She hoped God would hear her prayer, this last time.
She fell into the welcoming darkness as she silently shed her last bout of tears.
The story continues…
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