Nweke Ozioma Ruth is a Nigerian writer and a medical student. She loves to volunteer in her spare time to help young women and children living in rural areas of South-Eastern Nigeria.

Gear Up

Thunder clapped in the distance and lightning struck. The rain was starting to increase in intensity and the birds were flying helter-skelter looking to take cover from the cold downpour. The sky overlaying the beautiful city of Lagos was beginning to darken. I sat by my window pane watching the rain wash it clean. The trees swayed beautifully to the rhythm of the wind. I sighed for the umpteenth time that evening.

My heart sank in my chest as I replayed the events that happened a few hours ago. When I closed my eyes, I could still see everything. I could feel the smoke sitting in my lungs. I sighed again and forced my body to move to my bed. I threw myself on the bed and exhaled. I was thankful that my parents had gone on vacation, if not, I wondered what I would have told them. I shivered a little at the thought of that.

Quickly, I got out of bed and took my dress off. I walked to the bathroom, turned on the shower, and let the water drown out my thoughts and fears. “I am going to be alright” I kept whispering under my breath but my heart still wouldn’t stop beating. A loud noise in the distance stopped me in my tracks, and I turned off the shower and ran into the room wiping away every drop of water on my skin. I pulled out the drawer and took out something comfortable to wear.

A few minutes later, fully clothed, gun in the holster under my shirt, alcohol in my right hand, and my phone in the left, I slipped out of the house and into the darkness. If I had stayed a little longer, I would have known that the news of Chief Salami’s death was already in the news and that the police were out to trail the killer. But I was too uncomfortable to wait a little. No one will understand my reason. I was a twenty-two-year-old whose life was about to end before my eyes but at least I would fight a bit before surrendering to my undeniable fate.

I trudged forward in the dark rainy night, the boot I had thrown on was getting soaked in the downpour, and it was the first gift my parents gave me that I really loved. I remember wearing it everywhere my parents took me; school, church, birthday parties, weddings. They had to beg me to try other shoes but like most young adults, it took a while before I found other interests.

Just then, a police van on patrol drove past me, I felt shivers run down my spine. I pulled my hoodie over my head and increased my pace. I slipped into my car—a 22nd birthday gift from my parents. The car came to life as soon as I turned the ignition. I reversed out of the space I was parked in and out into the streets. It was so quiet you could only hear the raindrops beating down on the roofs of the houses there. I drove off into the dead of the night. The thoughts of what had happened at Chief Salami’s house blurred my vision. The scenes were faint in my brain, I chugged down more alcohol to drive away the thoughts but they kept coming back. The memory was becoming clear as daylight.

Chief Salami was a rich fat businessman and politician. He was my uncle and the only link I had to get a placement in the famous Barrister C.C. Chambers, the biggest law firm in the city. I just wanted an opportunity to at least be exposed to the big cases. Even if it took me several years to become a partner, I wanted a chance to at least show that I had potential. Chief was my father’s older brother, and my family was a closely knit one and so it totally made sense for me to seek help from one of my favorite uncles.

The day I was called to bar, he was in attendance and was one of the people who cheered the loudest. At the reception later that evening, he invited me over to his house to talk about my options. I was more than overjoyed that Uncle Salami was choosing to help me achieve my dreams. It took me two whole weeks to prepare for the meeting because I didn’t want to screw anything up.

I bought the most expensive wine I could find at the liquor store and then made my way to his house. Dressed in an army green dress that my mum had purchased for the occasion just before leaving for Bali, I looked gorgeous.

The soft sound of rain patting down my windshield woke me up. I felt a sharp pain in my left arm as I became more aware of my consciousness. My eyes hurt badly but I struggled to open them fully. I was in an enclosed space that I instantly knew was a car. It was my car, I could tell by the rose gold steering wheel. Only one person would want a rose gold steering wheel and that was me. I was still held in place by a seat belt and it clung so tightly to my body. I looked across the seat and flinched a little when I saw some documents flung across it which now had blood stains outlining some of the papers.

I sighed and shifted my glance to my surrounding, I was in front of a pile of trash and there was a long pole holding light for the entire neighborhood just a few places away from where I was. I tried to smile but it came out as a terrible smirk. I guess my face was injured too. I must have fallen asleep on the wheel. The car doors were locked shut, so I moved to open the door but my left hand sat there numb, and not moving. Tears began to flow freely. The memory rushed back and flooded my vision. It felt like I was back at that house. I remembered every single thing that transpired on that cold night.

Uncle Salami was home alone when I arrived. Even the maids were nowhere to be found. I didn’t think much of it as this was not my first time here. He was sitting cross-legged in his study, drinking whisky from a glass filled with ice. I greeted him and sat on the seat opposite him. He looked up with a wide grin that made him look like a Cheshire cat and answered my greeting. He went on to ask after my parents and siblings.

Soon, he signaled me to shut the door. I got up and shut the door quietly. Just as I turned to walk back to my seat, he was standing in front of the table just two inches away from my seat. He smiled and I awkwardly shifted my weight from one foot to the other. He beckoned for me to come sit.

Suddenly, we heard gunshots, causing Uncle Salami to push me to the floor. He held my hand and whispered to me to be quiet. I felt sweat form all over my body as we lay side by side on the cold hard ground. The gunmen broke the door of the study open and walked in with gusto, they pointed their guns in our direction and ordered us to get on our knees. Then they shoved me aside and placed my uncle in the center of the room. At this point, Uncle Salami was crying and begging them not to kill him.

They hesitated a bit as if they were considering his pleas, at least one of them seemed like he was considering it. In a quick instant, the second gunman turned and shot the first gunman in the head. Then pointed the gun in the direction of my uncle again. I was still sprawled on the floor in a corner with the bloody body of the dead gunman a few inches away from me. It was then that I saw the pistol hanging loosely from the holster of the dead gunman. I believed it was my chance and took it.

I stretched my hand and grabbed the pistol; it was cold and sticky. I pulled the trigger with my eyes shut tightly, releasing bullets into my uncle’s chest. My uncle glanced at me with so much pain in his eyes and fell sideways. I gasped and felt urine fill my bladder. How on earth did I miss the gunman and shoot my uncle? Without a second thought, I pulled the trigger again on the pistol, sending bullets into the gunman’s head. His eyes opened wildly and he fell on his face with a thud.

I got up from the floor, I could feel my body tremble as I ran out of the house and into my car, driving straight home amid the gathering clouds.

The sound of crickets which had been set free by the rain jolted me back to the present. My left hand still felt numb. I knew I had to get out of here before someone passes by and sees me. I turned the ignition and the car coughed and came back to life. I reversed out of the rubble and drove back onto the street.

Where was I driving to? I don’t know. I badly wanted to leave town to a place where I could process my thoughts. I accelerated and turned onto the main highway. I drove fast, promising myself not to stop for anything, with uncertainty and fear filling my heart like poison. I could not bring myself to agree I was a murderer.

Contributor’s Bio

Nweke Ozioma Ruth is a Nigerian writer and a medical student. She loves to volunteer in her spare time to help young women and children living in rural areas of South-Eastern Nigeria. Nweke is known to feel relaxed around books and stories. She has had her works published in literary publications like The Kalahari Review, Eboquills, Unbound, Ekonke, The European Sting, and others. She finds peace in the strength of her pen and hopes others do too.

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