Protect yourself…….protect your family?
Femi opened his eyes. He shook his head groggily; he could only see clearly through one eye. It looked like he was in a brightly lit room, then the pain hit. His body felt like it had been used as a punching bag, everywhere hurt. His face felt swollen; he tried to touch it before realizing that he was handcuffed, his two hands behind his back.
“He’s awake again”, he heard a voice say, a female voice.
“Mr. Adewale, you’ve come back to join us”, a male’s voice this time.
He heard footsteps approaching.
” Are you ready to tell us where you kept our briefcase?”, the man asked.
Femi licked his lips and tasted blood. He was surprised that he didn’t taste tears also. Still, he did what he had been doing for the last two beatings: He didn’t answer.
The man’s face came into view. He was light skinned, with striking dark brown eyes, and thick black eyebrows.
He smiled at Femi, “you probably have some broken ribs, your face is a mess, and Clement right here is going to start breaking your fingers very soon. If that doesn’t get you talking, then we’ll start on the electric shocks. So why don’t you just tell us where you kept our briefcase.”
Femi felt something like a cold rod start pounding inside his chest when he heard the word “electric shocks”. Just tell them, they’ll let you go once they’ve got their briefcase, a voice shouted in his head.
“We’ll certainly release you once we’ve retrieved our property,” the man said, as if he was reading Femi’s mind.
Those words brought him back to reality. He shook his head. They all knew that it was his dead body they would be releasing. If he wanted to live, he had to keep his mouth shut. He heard someone sigh.
“You know,” the man smiled again, drawing out his words like he was talking about something interesting, “in some countries, they chop off the hands of thieves.”
Femi felt someone behind him grasp his right hand. He began to tremble, but he still didn’t open his mouth. How had he ended up here? He wished with all his heart that he had never picked the wrong briefcase in that dark elevator. He felt anger rise in him at the National Electrical and Power distribution Ministry. It was their fault for taking electricity at that moment.
“Stop blaming people for your problems,” his mother’s voice sounded in his head. Femi groaned. He wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually his mother speaking to him. She had never admitted it, but he suspected his mother and two sisters could send their voices over distances into people’s minds. Femi groaned even louder. His mother and sisters were the last people he wanted to be thinking about right now, especially since thinking about them under normal circumstances made him mad.
“Are you a religious man Mr. Adewale?” the man asked, looking thoughtfully at his good eye. “You know that stealing is wrong; if you die under interrogation, where do you think you will go to? Hel—
“Alright, that’s enough,” another male voice spoke up.
The person holding Femi’s hand let go, whilst the first man stepped back. The new person came into view. He had brown eyes and a face that looked like it had been delicately sculptured, in ice. Femi turned his face away, looking down at his shoes.
“You have family?” The new man asked Femi, hitting him in the shins so that he would look up at him. “You have a wife? Kids? Parents…. yeah? Well, we’re going find them, make no mistake. We’ll bring them here, maybe that will loosen your tongue.” This new man’s tone was cold, very different from the first man’s engaging behavior.
The man leaned closer towards his face. “You know what we’re capable of. You saw what was in that briefcase didn’t you?”, he whispered, “so you know, I won’t hesitate to remove anyone or anything that gets in my way”.
Femi looked into the man’s eyes. They had the warmth of a predator stalking its prey. This man was serious. He was going to bring his family here to kill them. A sick sense of happiness spread through him.
Before Femi could speak, the man had already started giving orders.
“Clement, round up the team now; it shouldn’t take that long to find his family. Markos, start searching for them online. Hack into whatever sites you need.”
Femi coughed, then said , “my mother and two sisters live in the Victoria area on happiness street. My mom’s name is Lola Gbemi. My sisters are called Nike and Sade.”
No one said anything for a few heartbeats. Then,
“Yes sir?” Clement answered from behind Femi.
“Break one of his fingers before you go.”
By Sefunmi Oladumiye