It didn’t take up to five minutes for her to find what she needed. It was hanging on the wall at the entrance of the passageway. She pulled it out of its hanger and looked both ways before returning to Lucy’s ward. It was a fire extinguisher. She tried to carry it with one hand and wasn’t quite successful. The heavy object almost slipped off her hand and drew a scream from her. She dropped it gently on the ground and took some time to decide if it was the right implement for the job. It was, and it had to be carried into the room with one hand.
She wanted to take them by surprise. She’d gently push open the door with one hand and dart the fire extinguisher at them with the other, it would be difficult but not impossible. They wouldn’t see it coming. The problem was the sound the extinguisher would make as it landed. There were chances of it making a muffled sound or no sound at all if they both were sitting on the bed. It would hit them on the head, chest or belly and fall to the mattress. She’d aim for the bed then, whether it got them or not.
She lifted with her right hand, applying all the energy she could muster and it came off the ground. Her shoulder dropped a little. She walked that way with it and a crooked smile on her face to the door. She cocked an ear to the door and heard their voices from faraway. She took that to mean that they were seated on the bed and discussing. She wasn’t wrong.
She pushed open the door.
* * *
They both screamed when they saw who was standing at the door. It was like the apparition of a ghost, only not Casper, the friendly kind. The figure appeared disoriented at their scream, she stretched the hand that opened the door, as if to grab the door handle to conceal her, then her other hand began to move. The movement wasn’t speedy and effortless. It was moving slower than she wanted, the expression on her faced said so. She gritted her teeth and pinched her eyes to slits. Chords stood prominent on her neck.
That was when Wunmi saw the object. It was coloured red and it was metallic. She didn’t wait for her brain to deduce what it was. Red was the colour of danger and danger was standing in front of them. Whatever Miss Sharon was trying to lift was harmful.
“Lucy go down!” She jumped off the bed and lay on her belly.
Something wheezed past her, the object enormous from the sound. It made a BOINCK! Sound as it hit the iron protector and then came to rest on her ankle. She yelled.
“No!” Lucy screamed.
Wunmi tried to push the object from her leg and found it impossible. The door banged shut. Miss Sharon had fled the room. Lucy jumped off the bed and dashed for the door.
“Lucy, forget her. Help me!”
Lucy had the door open already, she looked out of it before turning to look at Wunmi. She closed the door and ran to meet her. It never occurred to her lock the door. She went on her knees beside Wunmi and began struggling with the extinguisher. She could only lift it halfway.
“Try to pull your leg. I can’t take it off completely.”
“Okay. Lift it again.” The pain was maddening. She tried not to think of how many bones were broken in her ankle, it could cause her a heart attack.
Lucy pulled hard and Wunmi found it a little possible to shift her leg. The allowance was however not enough, Lucy had to lift it some more but it appeared that was the extent she could go. She clenched her eyes shut and added more effort to the act of removing her leg. She felt she was making some progress, though her legs felt like being ripped apart.
The door made a click.
Miss Sharon was back. She had a short knife and plaster in her hand. Lucy let go of the extinguisher in her fright, it landed hard on the already broken ankle. Wunmi let out another scream and wondered why nobody had shown up yet. It also crossed her mind that today might be her last day on Earth.
Lucy was retreating with her back and Miss Sharon was striding towards her gracefully. Her buttocks smacked the wall and she yelped. She wished the room continued, there was nowhere to run now. She began to cry.
“Miss Sharon, please.”
“Crying would not help you, dear. Wouldn’t you stand and fight?”
“You have a knife against a harmless little girl and you’re telling her to stand and fight. Where is your conscience?”
“Shut Up, Bitch!” She kicked Wunmi in the mouth.
“What have I done to you, Miss Sharon?”
“Things your small mind won’t understand.” She reached Lucy and took her by the wrist.
She took her to a corner and sat her on the ground hard. She squatted in front of her and began unrolling the plaster.
“You know what I want to do to you?”
Lucy shook her head, tears flying both ways.
“First, I will run this plaster over your mouth and round the back of your head. I’ll do the same to your eyes. You know why?”
A bang came on the door, followed by a voice.
“Open this door!” the voice commanded.
“Smash the door and come and help us, we’re in danger!”
Miss Sharon turned to Wunmi, bile filling her up. She quickly ran the tape as promised over Lucy’s mouth and then bound her legs too. The person behind the door either didn’t hear Wunmi’s request or preferred to frighten the monster to come out of hiding. He kept hitting the door.
Assured that Lucy was incapable of sound and movement, Miss Sharon walked over the Wunmi and lifted the extinguisher from her leg. A cry of agony rather than relief escaped her. She couldn’t get up so she managed to bring herself to a sitting position. Miss Sharon rounded her with the extinguisher.
“You should’ve remained in Mrs Okorocha’s place. The woman was already loving you.”
“What do you gain by being so wicked?”
“Don’t try to speak to my conscience!” She brought the extinguisher down hard beside Wunmi.
The banging on the door was ferocious now. “I’m asking you to open this door for the very last time!”
Miss Sharon threw a cursory glance that way and then faced Wunmi. The fellow behind the door was yet to appear a threat to her.
“Did it occur to you that you were following your crazy instincts to your grave?”
Wunmi had not thought of it until recently. She closed her eyes and tried to think of what to say or do to stop the nightmare. The person at the door was bleak hope, his ‘last time’ request had been asked ten times already and he was still asking. Their survival were in their hands.
“Good your eyes are closed. It’s what I’ll do to Lucy with the plaster, I don’t want her little eyes to see her death coming.” She turned to Lucy. “Did you heard the reason?!”
Things were back under control. Her fears were baseless, not all though. She would kill the two people she wished to kill without stress but she’d be captured in the end and that would prevent her from killing her mother. She could escape the hospital and achieve killing her mother before she eventually got caught if she hurried up. Accompanying this insight was a click in her head. It was time.
She raised the fire extinguisher above her head, the bang on the door growing more intense but not in any way distracting, then brought it down hard.
The extinguisher was supposed to land on Wunmi’s head but it landed on the ground together with Miss Sharon, a long crack appeared on the tile where it landed. It rolled out of her hand towards the door. Wunmi had stretched out one hand and pulled her leg at the last moment.
“Bitch!” Miss Sharon screamed and started getting up.
Wunmi crawled over and laid her weight on Miss Sharon. She tied the back of her linked hands over her eyes and pulled. The image of the numerous wrestling fights she’d viewed on TV as a teenager displayed in her head. Miss Sharon tried to wriggle her head free but was finding it difficult. She moved her hands about in search of anything to grasp and found none. The extinguisher was out of her reach and the short knife was lying close to Wunmi’s leg where she had dropped it to lift the extinguisher.
“I’ll kill you, stinking bitch.”
Wunmi held on even as fear began to creep into her mind. She could be killing Miss Sharon, her batting was growing weaker. But she knew to persist; Miss Sharon was a snake, still dangerous even with very little life left. The muscles in her arms were beginning to hurt.
The door finally burst open in a crash and a young security official stumbled in. Clustered behind him at the door were anxious faces of people on white coats, green coats, and multi coloured coats. They struggled to get a first-hand glimpse of the situation on ground. The guard held his baton in front of him like a teacher approaching a guilty student.
“Get off her.” He instructed and got a warning stare from Wunmi.
He turned to the door. “Go back all of you, the situation is under control.”
A little laugh escaped Wunmi, the young man was a newbie in the security business. He must think he was the star actor in a movie.
“Go and get cuffs if you have one!” She ordered.
The security officer dipped his hands in his pockets and out, then looked thoughtfully towards the door.
“I’ve called the police, they’re on their way.” An elderly woman on spectacles – one of the onlookers – said, craning her neck to be seen. Wunmi acknowledged her.
“Come over here.” She said to the security guy. “Come and help me.”
“Were you planning to kill her?” he asked in a conspiring tone as he came around and held Miss Sharon’s hand.
Wunmi glared at him then rolled over. She was exhausted, her body was shaking. She looked at her damaged leg and almost screamed. She crawled over to Lucy. Vivian had made her way into the ward sometime when she held Miss Sharon’s face in the death lock, she was loosening the strips of plaster around Lucy’s mouth. She had freed her legs with little problem, now she applied caution. Lucy was screaming as the plaster plucked at her hair.
“You were very brave.” She said to Wunmi. “I respect your haunch.”
Wunmi smiled. “I don’t have it often. Maybe not at all until today.”
“And the day you helped me with the exact amount of cash I needed without confirming from me first.”
“That too.” Wunmi agreed.
She went to sit beside Lucy as Vivian removed the last strip of plaster from her mouth. A doctor came to examine her ankle. He stopped at some point and looked at her.
“What you did here today was extraordinary. Thank you for saving Lucy’s life. I wish there’s a better way to express our gratitude.”
“You’ve expressed it enough. Thank you too.”
“My name is Timothy or Tim for short.” He stretched his hands to her, a tentative smile on his face. She thought the smile was cute. She shook his hand.
“I’ll try to fix your leg. It’s not as bad as you imagine it to be. When I’m done, I’ll have you walk out of this hospital with me and down the road to somewhere cool. That’s to check whether I fixed your leg right.”
She couldn’t help but smile. He was asking her out on a date in a manner that was professional, yet sweet. She looked into his eyes and held his gaze. He was young and handsome.
“You don’t expect me to think about it, do you?”
“Not at all, Miss…”
“Alright. I’ll be a regular face till then and I’m sorry you’ll be held hostage in our hospital for some time, hopefully a very long time.”
“I trust you to release me on time.”
He got to his feet, laughing buoyantly now. “That depends on your level of cooperation.”
He bowed his head a little to signify his leave, Wunmi mouthed an inaudible Okay, and he walked out the door with his hands in his pockets. Wunmi watched long after he had sauntered out of the ward. She was placing her new doctor side by side Ochuko and comparing them. He was matching many of the metres of comparison.
“He’s a good guy. You’ll like him.” Vivian said.
“Let’s watch and see.”
“And my daddy?”
They both turned and looked at Lucy whom they thought had dozed off as she’d been silent for a long while, then burst into laughter. She smiled shyly while they laughed.
* * *
Doc Al was set to go and his watchwords were simplicity, speed and accuracy. He found the sheaths of the knives he’d selected inside a drawer, he put the knives in them and hid them in the waist of his trousers. He listened for sounds and heard none, save for the soft, steady hum of the fridge. He made his way out of the kitchen.
Standing at the door of the guest bedroom, he convinced himself he wasn’t about to do something wrong. He was simply taking what belonged to him from the wrong hands. He placed a shaky hand on the door handle and turned it slowly. It angered him to find his body trembling. He convinced himself as well that he shook from excitement rather than fear and that was all it took to get him in action.
Ochuko had his head hidden in a pillow, the lady on his bed hid herself in him, and the sheet had her completely concealed. He could only confirm she was there from the curved outline on the sheet. It could be anybody, he thought. He got out the smaller knife with his left hand and held it down, then with his right hand, he gently lifted the sheet.
It was Sandy. She looked beautiful and safe nestled in Ochuko, a little smile that depicted contentment curved her lips. He saw her lying that way in the bed of his new house in Jigawa with nothing on. Nonetheless, her pant was the only thing that contrasted the picture in his mind. That, and the man she was lying beside. He reached out with the hand that had pulled away the sheet for the thong of her pants. He was curious to see how she looked without the pants on. His hanging hand was more than unsteady now, it shook fiercely. He took it back and looked at the bedside drawer.
He reached with a hand and turned it off. Ochuko stirred. Doc Al stood frozen where he was and clenched his eyes shut. He prayed Ochuko wouldn’t do more than stir. That wasn’t the way he planned to take his girl. The wood that was the bed creaked from weight and Doc Al thought he heard some shuffling.
“Don’t get away from me.” Sandy muttered.
“The lights just went off. It shouldn’t go off, it’s our street’s turn to have light.”
“NEPA can’t be trusted.”
Confusion flooded Doc Al’s mind. He didn’t think it was safe to remain standing the way he was. He would be spotted soon despite the darkness, he knew so. He thought he should change position, get down on his belly slowly and quietly. But that might make him vulnerable, changing him from the marauder to the prey. He didn’t like the idea, it wasn’t the way he was groomed. So he remained standing with his eyes shut.
“It’s too dark. If you leave me here a second, I will scream.” Sandy said, still in the sleepy tone.
“Let’s go together then.”
There was the rustle of sheet, then more shuffling of feet. Doc Al began to sweat, his heart pounded in a way he believed was audible and his head banged with pain. He drew out the other knife from the waist of his trousers, hoping it doesn’t shine in the darkness. He had his back turned away from them anyway. He got ready for the worst.
“Someone is standing beside the bed, on the side where I laid.”
“It’s in your mind, dear.” A chuckle followed, then a soft smack.
“Don’t kiss me, it’s not going to change what I think I’m seeing.”
“Okay. Let me go to my room and get my headlamp.”
“Am I supposed to wait here for you?”
“Oya take my hand let’s… wait, I think I see a shape too.”
“Don’t mock me, Ochuko.”
“No, I’m not. Let me be sure of what I’m seeing first.”
Slippers slapped on tiles. SMACK! SMACK! Time to strike, it informed Doc Al. He held the knife firmly even as sweat lubricated his palms.
“Ochuko, please let’s get the torch first. I’m scared.”
“Shhh… I’ll take care of this.” He stopped very close to Doc Al. “Is somebody there?”
He got silence as reply. He stretched his arm to touch the darkness that seemed to have taken shape and weight and returned it almost instantly with a loud cry. Sandy joined in immediately with a shriek.
There was no telling him otherwise, Doc Al knew it was the opportune moment. He had calculated before striking and it was precise. He knew, from instinct and probably psychology, that immediately following the question was verification. Curiosity always killed the cat, but he had read in a novel where a character always completed the quote with the phrase, ‘AND SATISFACTION BROUGHT IT BACK TO LIFE.’
He didn’t think it wise to wait for the effect of the cut to trigger in Ochuko the extra amount of curiosity that’d bring about his satisfaction. He plunged forward in the darkness, his body shaking, not with fear now but with adrenaline. Sweat oiled every part of his body and he thought it made him fluid and agile.