RECAP: The police visited Mama Shola; Ade’s mother and took her to the station on the behest of Ade’s employer Mr. Chinedu, meanwhile back in the forest Ade had reached the decision to make a run for it.
The windows had been painted a solid black, so visibility was zero, he was certain there were iron burglary proofs behind them. So the window was not an option. He considered breaking through the wall; even if the cement walls weren’t thick enough, they had nothing to dig their way through it. They had to find another option.
‘What about the ceiling?’ The six year old girl whom Kemi had introduced as Bisi, asked.
That was a great idea, why hadn’t he thought about it?! The ceiling was a perfect escape route, they were never barricaded or burglary proofed and he could reach it if he had help. He was tall and so was Emeka and Musa, from either of their shoulders, he could just reach it.
He took off his belt and said, ‘Emeka come and carry me up on your shoulder.’
‘What for?’ The Igbo man asked curious.
‘Just do it,’ and as an after thought he added, “please.”
Emeka reluctantly came to stand where Ade was, as the gangly young man climbed his way up his shoulder.
The others stared with abject attention as Ade fidgeted around the edges of one block of ceiling and after a while some came to stand in the middle of the dark, cold room, some of them had called home for sometime now, their eyes firmly fixed on the spectacle before them, their respective breaths caught in their wind pipes.
They let out a collective sigh of relief as Ade finally pushed the ceiling pane and it gave way. Emeka immediately hushed them. Ade disappeared into the dark space above him and after what seemed like forever appeared and signaled Emeka to help him down.
Emeka and Musa stood whilst he used them as leverage to climb down.
“Any hope?!” One girl, Amina, her name was. Ade could not remember in the excitement, asked.
“We can escape through that hole, I have checked the roofing, they used the normal corrugated zinc, that can be easily torn through, the only problem is that it will make too much noise.’
‘So wetin we go do about the noise, e nor get as we go fit cover am up?’ Another of the inmates asked.
Ade shook his head, ‘I cannot think up anything.’ His shoulder hunched in disappointment.
‘So we go give up like that?!’ This time it was Emeka.
‘Bros no be so but wetin man go do?! We fit rush them if they enter here, some of us no go make am but at least make we try.’ Ade said suddenly hopefully.
The others stared at him in dismay.
‘What is the difference in dying now and later?! I would rather wait and hope than put my luck on chance!’ Kemi said going to take up her place in the corner of the room. The others soon followed suit, leaving Ade staring at the cement floor, his eyes brimming with tears.
All of a sudden, words escaped his mouth; prayers. He had not said his prayers in a while but all of a sudden they formed and flowed out of his mouth and soon others joined. Those who were not of the same faith prayed their own way, at that moment they were all unified in the singular desire to live, in the singular desire for a divine miracle and so they prayed each to his or her own capability, in the language they desired.
Suddenly, the door burst open revealing the burly character.
‘Una no go keep quiet abi?! Idiots!! If I hear another pim from una again, una go see my red color. Bastards, una think say this thing una dey do go help una?!’ He fixed all of them with a gaze that held so much evil and then banged the door behind him.
‘In Jesus name,’ Ade said beneath his breath to which the others whispered, ‘Amen.’
Meanwhile outside, behind the door, was a room, that would have been the living room if the owner of the building had finished his project but instead had been converted to a make shift duty post by its occupants.
In it were five other men, all armed with varying weapons that included machetes, pump actions and crude rifles. The room smelt of Indian hemp, urine and body odor.
As the burly man walked into the room, the others sat their eyes fixed on the TV before them, powered by the tiny generating set humming out in the dark night.
‘Wetin be score?’ He asked as he rejoined his colleagues.
‘Na still zero-zero, Nigeria just dey miss chance like to say na their papa get the tournament!’ One of them, a bald headed fellow quipped.
‘What about Slaughter?’ Burly asked.
‘He still dey abattoir. You know say oga talk say customer dey come tomorrow.’
‘Okay, I dey come.’ He said heading in the direction of the room they had designated for the abattoir.
The man they called slaughter was busy at work when he walked in, his sharp axe chopping through meat and bone, his muscles flexing with each blow.
Around the room various heaps lay human parts arranged in order of their importance and price. Vital organs such as head, eyes, tongues, private parts were the most sought after but also the hardest to come by, thus they were the costliest.
Kidneys, hearts, liver were often sold to hospitals and sometimes private buyers who could not find voluntary donors. The other parts were also in demand but mostly for smaller juju and sometimes by cannibals.
The burly guy, thought he had seen it all his first day here, when Slaughter had told him that there were people who bought human flesh not for fetish reason but for consumption.
He stared at his colleague as he hacked part after part, arranging them in heaps and wondered how far he would have to fall to be able to stomach butchering another human being as if they were livestock. The fact that Slaughter was the only one amongst them who could do it without a qualm told him he was one not to be messed with.
Slaughter scared not just him but the others too and that took a lot of doing as they did not scare easily. Slaughter was in his mid 40s and at about 6 feet 2 inches he was an intimidating man, then add to that his thick slightly muscled, scar covered body and a voice that thundered each time he spoke or his bloodshot eyes that sent daggers with each stare, no one wanted to mess with him, they chose to let him be and he in turn rarely mixed with them.
‘Well done bros.’ the Burly guy said.
Slaughter looked up, his blood soaked pinafore, adding to his menacing look. ‘Ah Bello, na you?! How far na, wetin Nigeria dey play?’
‘Na still, zero-zero oh!’
‘Yeye people! Na common Gabon they dey struggle to beat.’ He hissed and returned to his work.
Bello, stood a while watching him and then returned to the duty post to join the others.