I woke up with a start; I had a bad feeling, something had gone terribly wrong. I could hear the chirping of crickets and the hammering of rain as it hit the ground where I lay. I was in a bush, I tried to stand but my strength failed me.
I finally managed to get up, clutching my waist, a sharp pain shooting through my body. I was injured. I struggled to move, a million questions racing through my mind: what happened? Where were the others?
I heard a faint cry and limped briskly towards the sound. I saw her.
I knelt beside her, “Pamela, what…what happened?” I asked. She pointed her fingers and I looked, I could see a couple of flashlights coming our way and then suddenly, I remembered.
4 weeks earlier…
The blue and white Coaster bus slowly crawled to a halt and hissed as the driver hit the brakes. The doors swung open and I stepped down unto the rain-soaked clay road. I had with me a black sports bag and slung over my shoulders was a blue rucksack.
The time must have been around 4:30p.m, I couldn’t tell.
The rain beat down on my back as I walked towards the only building for miles, the HALF-WAY HOUSE. My destination.
A lone thunder rumbled somewhere in the sky as I pushed open the gates and walked into the small, neat compound. The building was a bungalow, could be about four to six rooms in it judging by it’s width, but the compound was small, a little compacted, even.
It had an ash coating, a red roof and red linings on the wall. I could see green and yellow flowers(I couldn’t tell what species, I wasn’t that good with flowers) planted almost at every corner of the compound, it added a certain serenity to it.
I reached the front door and tapped lightly on it, I was soaked by now. The door swung opened and a girl came into view. She sent an unexpected shock wave through my body, but my face remained expressionless. She was slim and with a small body, couldn’t have been more than twenty-two. She had black hair that was parted in the middle, such that it covered her left eye slightly, a dimpled cheek and light brown eyes. She had a sincerely happy smile that exposed perfect white teeth.
“Wow, you must be Michael. We have been expecting you, I’m Pamela.” she said heartily, stretching out her hands.
I just stood, looking at her. She seemed to be a truly friendly character, I decided that I might like her, which was good because I liked no one.
I stretched my hands into hers, “yes I’m Michael.” I said without animation.
My eye shifted to a short, heavily built man of about 50 who came to the door and stood by Pamela.
“You’re letting him get soaked Pam, let him in.” He said an even friendlier smile on his face. I grimaced, did everyone here just keep smiling all day?
“Oh, my bad,” she said and shifted to let me pass, I walked in. The short man stood beside me, “Here, let me have this.” he said and took the bag I was holding.
I looked around the room, it was big, which was surprising. I could hear voices inside, and a clanging of spoons on plates. Pamela skipped into the room where the noise was coming from, yelling something like “He has arrived.” I also heard someone mutter “Finally.”
The Short man came up beside me, I glanced at him, he seemed to be struggling with the bag.
He smiled and said “I can handle it, don’t worry.” as if reading my mind. Well, the last thing I was doing was worrying about him.
“My name is Olu, but here I’m called Johnson. They make us have English names,” he said and walked past me. Johnson, I scoffed, certainly didn’t fit him.
He turned back, “come on, let’s meet the others.” I followed him and walked into a medium sized room with a small T.V, a brown battered couch, and another black leather couch. There was also a sofa, a small stand fan(which was off) and a wooden table pushed to a far corner of the room.
I looked around the room, there were four more people, we were six in all gathered in this room.
I dropped my wet rucksack by the wall and watched the people who were slowly chewing their food and watching me. I certainly wasn’t going to make the first move. The air was tense for a few miserable seconds and then Johnson, who seemed to be the oldest, spoke.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this here is Michael, uh…” he looked at me hopefully, I stared back at him, I wasn’t giving him a last name.
He coughed, “Right, let me introduce you to everyone”. He pointed to the far left, “you’ve met Pamela, smart and jovial, 21 years old, drug addict and that’s about it.” she waved and giggled.
He moved his hand slightly to his right, “That’s Dave. 27 years old, an ex-convict, smart with the fingers.” He grunted and proceeded to play with a chicken bone. Dave was a thin man, with flashy eyes and rough black hair.
“This is Stevens, 35 years, good with numbers,” Johnson said and pointed at a small, fat man who jumped up to his feet and made a clumsy bow.
“Oops” Stevens said as he tried to pick up a lump of meat that fell off his plate.
“This guy is known simply as Light, he’s 24, fast, strong and an excellent with a gun.” Light gave a half smile and picked at his food. He was a fine, dark man with a brooding expression on his face. It didn’t seem like he talked much, I liked him. And he was my age too.
Johnson moved his bulk over to the other side of the room, “And this here is Mercy. 25 years old, Beautiful, clever, and calculative in her ways, I’ll try not to mess with her if I were you. She has quite a temper and she doesn’t have ‘mercy’.” Johnson said and smiled, feeling clever.
I looked over at Mercy, she had smooth dark skin, pouting lips, and a ‘come-hither’ outlook. I wasn’t fooled by her smile, there really was something calculative in her eyes. I didn’t think I’d like her.
Johnson looked at me, he seemed to expect me to make a formal introduction. I thought about this, I was an oddball but I was here for a reason and there also seemed to be something off about this bunch, I didn’t want to seem the weirdo.
“My name is Michael, Mikey for short.” I said and paused.
The room was quiet, they all looked on at me expectantly, silently asking for more.
I rubbed my wet hair and then said: “I’m 24 and umm..well..” I stammered and then shut up, glaring back at everybody. I certainly wasn’t used to this sort of attention.
The room was quiet again and then Pamela jumped up from her seat, “Let me show you to your room, you’ll like it.” she said, that friendly smile on her face. I caught myself smiling and walked closely behind her.
“He’s odd, I like him,” Stevens said boisterously, wiping greasy fingers on his shirt.
Dave grunted, “I don’t care, as long as we get the job done.”
Light looked up and spoke for the first time, “does he know why he’s here?”
Dave shrugged, “we’ll leave that to old Johnson.”
Mercy, who had been watching the guys, grunted impatiently, “I’m not sure I like him.”
I walked down the short corridor with Pamela beside me and Johnson trailing behind. There were rooms arranged opposite each other, five rooms. Pamela increased her pace and then stopped in front of a black door, she inserted a key in it and pushed it open.
“This is it!” She said happily, she turned to me and smiled “See you around.” She said and walked away. Johnson watched her intently as she walked out of sight.
I walked into the room, it smelled of wax and fresh paint. The room was small but big enough for one person. It suited me. I walked around slowly, inspecting every inch of the place, the ceilings, and the walls. I don’t know why I felt the need to be thorough.
“It’s nice No?” Johnson asked, startling me a little. I’d forgotten that he was there.
He dropped my bag on the floor and looked at me.
“I know you must have some questions but relax, there’s time for that I assure you. The toilet’s through that door” he said, pointing towards a closed door. “but I’m afraid there’s no bathroom in here, but down the corridor.” He hesitated and then left.