A burning in his chest from running hard and long…
Gnawing ache in his hip as he stoically pounded on, determined to escape the hoard that was after him. Would they kill him? He couldn’t decide which of them would be the lesser evil; the police or the deadly cult group.
Groaning from the ache that had been inflicted the whole day, he tightened his jaw, bearing the white hot pain as he valiantly scaled over a low fence into an unknown compound.
He could hear them coming; threatening shouts carried in the air to where he hurdled. He had to escape, he had to hide. Where could he hide? It was only a matter of time before he was found.
Wiping the sweat from his brow, he looked around where he hurdled; darkness was falling fast, would they easily forget about him? He didn’t think so, both groups where determined to get him.
Tears clouded his eyes in his frustration; silently he wondered…
How did my life get to this?
…TEN MONTHS AGO
Frederick Eseme had snapped.
Prior to this, he had been in the process of making himself worthy to be the next CEO of his father’s companies. As the first son, he had been told that he would eventually take up the mantle when his father, Chief Eseme, retired.
Fred had put in maximum effort, and at 27, he had a second degree and was finishing off his MBA. But then, tragedy struck…and he snapped.
His whole brain under went a reset; suddenly, becoming the next CEO to his father’s group of companies wasn’t a priority any longer.
Valiantly, he completed his MBA and then went bunkers.
Chief Eseme understood what his son was going through and so, he gave him everything he needed, even time. But it was now going on a year and two months, he assumed his son’s grief would have panned out and he’d be ready to begin work; Fred wasn’t ready though, and it looked like he’d never be ready.
“Come back here, this minute!”
Fred winced at the fury in his father’s voice but didn’t stop his retreat. He walked briskly, looking back to check if the man had followed him, he opened the door that led outside and closed it softly, so that his father wouldn’t know what door he’d opened in the magnificent mausoleum which was their home.
With an urgent shake of his head at the security man, the message was given, he needed the gates opened. He jerked the Honda Pilot open and jumped in, then reversed through the open gate and drove off.
He sighed in relief, relaxed and played a song on his car CD and went ahead to muddle his way along through the song. Nodding his head in full enjoyment, he sped to the rendezvous and his new group of friends.
Ten minutes later, he maneuvered his car and parked it beside a group of three, tall, young men, of the ages of 22. He kept a straight face, not looking at them as his wound down the glass of his car.
“Come with me, if you want to live,” he said in a purposefully husky voice.
The young men cheered and laughed while the opened the car door and jumped in.
More than a year ago, Fred had purposefully sort out Paul, his younger brother’s best friend and befriended him. Being with Paul made him understand his younger brother more; it made him feel like the elder brother he had never been.
From meeting Paul, he had been introduced to Obot and Ekong, both had been friends with his younger brother too. Fred had taken it upon himself to coach and guide the boys in the finer points of being a gentle man of leisure; life seemed less bleak when he was in their company. Guilt reduced when he was helping them have fun like young men should.
“We are going to miss another lecture today because of you,” Paul said with a displeased mien, when all the pleasantries had tapered.
Fred spared him a glance before looking at the road again, sighing heavily, he began, “I’m sorry guys, my dad was at it again, it won’t happen again, I promise.”
The other boys at the back refrained from commenting. They knew that Paul and Fred were closer and once in a while they had their differences, they had learnt not to interfere when these differences came up.
“You have really not told us what it is you quarrel with your dad about,” Ekong ventured jokingly, trying to lessen the tension in the car.
“Well…” Fred began and then cleared his throat uncomfortably.
Paul stared at him with raised eyebrows, knowing Fred wasn’t going to expose his inner conflict to his young friends. He already knew what Fred was going through, but it was his right to tell his story if he wanted to, so he kept quite.
“It’s just normal things dads and sons argue about, nothing serious,” he said and shrugged, looking at the boys through his rear view mirror and giving them his charming smile, the one that conveyed his urge to have and be fun with them.
“I understand,” Obot said, nodding sagely, “Sometimes, my dad just drives me crazy with his nagging.”
“I think my father enjoys my misery and he goes out of his way to cause it,” Paul said, joining the conversation. He sat up and cleared his throat, deepening his voice and trying to sound like his father, he imitated, “Why are you watching TV when the rag isn’t hanging on the rack?”
Everybody laughed; Fred hit his hand on the steering wheel while turning into the campus gate.
“Seriously, he said that?” Ekong asked in disbelief.
Paul shook his head while trying to control his mirth, “No, not exactly like that, but something close to it.”
Fred cleared his throat before speaking again, “Paul is right, sometimes dads just seem to nag all day and we find it bothersome. But, guys, our dads are just trying to push us to be the best; they want us to be better than them.”
There was silence in the car as the young men pondered what Fred had said. They knew he provided them with fun when the days became dreary or not, but he also, once in a while, gave sound advice.
“My mom did say something like that once,” Obot began, “She mentioned that the opportunities we have now were not available for my dad then, so he expects me to be better apropos these opportunities.”
“Apropos?” Fred chuckled, looking impressed, “Somebody is reading their dictionary.”
“How did you know?” Paul jumped in laughing with Ekong.
“He has one right now in his bag,” Ekong pointed out and got playfully slapped by Obot.
Fred slowed down and stopped in front of their lecture hall. The boys sighted their lecturer walking swiftly towards the hall, they scrambled out.
“Hey, I owe you guys lunch for making you late,” Fred called after them.
“You always give us lunch no matter what,” Paul pointed out before jugging to the hall, he cleared the door way just before the lecturer got there and shot the double doors after him.
Fred chuckled and reversed his car, driving at a leisurely pace to park under the shade of a big tree to wait for his young friends. He turned off the ignition and reached behind him into the pocket of his seat to slide out his slim laptop. He set his phone alarm for less than two hours, knowing his friends would be through with their morning lectures in two hours.
He turned up his laptop and proceeded to check on his secret investments, read and send mails and read financial news while he waited.
Udeme Ikpe was a loser.
He was the perfect example of a bully’s day dream, fat, weak and generally timid. Bullied as a child, Udeme’s timidity grew with him, as such, at 28 he didn’t have much of a social life.
Women had relations with him mostly out of pity, and one of such relations had just ended for Udeme, so he went ahead to drink himself to stupor.
Currently, he had no permanent job, just small hustles here and there, that paid enough to feed and keep him in cloths. It wasn’t as though he wasn’t smart enough to get a well paying job, but his attitude had just left him believing he deserved nothing more than what he presently got.
Luckily for him, he didn’t have to pay rent as his uncle provided him with a place to stay at his boy’s quarters and didn’t much care what happened to his nephew as long as he didn’t have to feed him. Udeme liked it that way too because it gave him the freedom to wallow in his mediocrity.
So, his girl friend had broken up with him, yet again, and this time it was for real. This time, his puppy eyed looks didn’t have any effect on Idong, neither did his sincere cries. Idong was gone for good and Udeme knew that it would be almost forever before any other girl looked his way again.
He belched loudly without a change of expression as he stared forlornly at the several bottles of palm wine he had drunk and was still drinking. Udeme wanted to numb his pain and the reality that his life would never amount to good.
“God must hate me,” he whispered with a pout while he drunkenly took another slurp from his cup.
Unbeknownst to him, right at his back sat two cult groups trying, rather valiantly, to sort their differences peacefully. The leaders of these clandestine groups sat facing each other, both having the colors of their secret affiliations wrapped round their necks in scarfs.
The wolves and the dragons had for a long time been enemies, dissing each other each time they were in close proximity. The wolves maintained the color sky blue and the dragons stuck to the very murky shade of green. They had both been terrors in the campus of the University of Uyo, known for petty violence and the knack for slapping girls on their buttocks.
Some ladies fled in disarray whenever they sighted the colors sky blue or murky green on the torso of any student, it didn’t matter if said student wore these colors quite innocently.
Whether it was out of sincere peace or an urge to be named the highest buttocks slapper, the two leaders had converged for a truce. Both of them had their guards sitting on tables behind their leaders, all sporting their preferred colors and only identified by people with keen observation.
Empty bottles of palm wine littered the table and both leaders looked about to drop, their heads wove from side to side even though they maintained their seats.
“I think you should graciously declare me the king of most slapped buttocks,” the wolves’ head proclaimed drunkenly.
“Never!” the dragons’ head declared and hiccupped rather violently after wards.
Their second in command met in the middle of the room and proceeded to argue on what should be the next deciding factor since alcohol seemed to have not decided anything.
“I believe a battle of fists would decide this thing once and for all,” Mask, the second in command for the wolves whispered fiercely, while giving his leader a derisive look; he was more of a violent member than his leader.
“How can that be when they are both drunk? I think we should reschedule this meeting,” Kenny replied wearily, he was just tired of the whole idea of cultism anyway, and was secretly looking to disband soon.
And right in this undecided situation, Udeme had the fortune or misfortune of displaying drunkenly.
The head of the dragons had just vehemently reiterated “never!” and it freakishly coincided with Udeme’s mental plea to Idong to come back to him. So, Udeme, having been weak and timid all his life, suddenly had bravado in inebriation, and bristled angrily.
“Why…why would you say never?” he slammed his hand on his own table, shocking all cult members into silence.
They watched as Udeme staggered off his stool, his legs could barely hold him up straight and that ultimately contributed to what transpired next.
In his mind, Udeme saw himself walking majestically to Idong and demanded why she would say never to him. In reality, he staggered, his knees knocking together alarmingly as he reach the equally drunk head of the dragons.
Udeme flung his hand out to make a point but the force ended up slapping the leader of the dragons off his stool and he fell into a deep faint. He stood there in shock, not understanding what had just happened as he tittered drunkenly, turning to stare at the leader of the wolves who belched rather loudly and reached for his cup.
The members of the wolves’ fraternity cheered wildly and lifted Udeme up as their champion.
Mask straightened arrogantly and smiled at his counterpart superiorly, “I believe it is settled.”
Kenny nodded, looking relieved at the fainted man on the ground, “Yes, it is,” he replied and shook hands with Mask.
Unbeknownst to Udeme, he had just become the supreme leader of the Wolf’s confraternity…the Alpha Wolf.
The story continues
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