It looks like heaven but it smells like hell…
The journey to where we were being driven lasted for over four hours I presume. It was tiring and rigorous that my legs ached. Dinner of sandwich and tea was served for everyone in the bus by some weird looking waitresses that looked like mopping sticks in the dark of the night. I couldn’t even bite the sandwich talk less of eat it but I definitely had a helper who did that for me. My sister was never slack when it comes to sandwich.
On the way, when I noticed an unusual quietness, I removed my Rex-Mex wristwatch and switched the torch on. The over one hundred students in our bus were fast asleep. My torch reached some eyes looking at me intently. My heart jumped into my mouth as I saw a young looking man staring at me. He looked away quickly and I quickly switched off the torch.
I noticed that the vehicle went very deep underground. I held unto the bunk very well muttering prayers for mercy. After going like 5 kilometres underground, the vehicle turned sharply into a place and stopped. I waited for what would happen next and just as if they were triggered by a switch, all the sleeping students woke up at once. I was dazed, greatly dazed.
We were ushered into a magnificent building; a high-tech home with different robotic creatures seen around. I looked around to catch a glimpse of the sky but no I couldn’t, instead, what I saw all over the house were chandeliers of different wax lights, big glassy domes above my head, so high it made the Lappelle Museum I saw with my family in France last summer look nanus. It was a very pleasing sight as all I watched in the Korean movies were been relived live. But yet, I felt awkward.
“Our little princesses, we would have asked you to introduce yourselves to us but we know it would be a long process but never mind, we know some of you already especially our cobra-tongued girl here…what’s your name?” The dark tall man said and knowing it was me he was talking about, I looked away. He came near me and placed his hand on my head. I shuddered as if a current passed through my spines. Instinctively, I shrugged off his hand and faced him squarely.
“Hi man, I see you are so audacious! I tell you, you are already crossing your boundary! What is your problem? How dare you touch my head!! How do I know I was the one you were talking to! The last time I remembered, I don’t have a cobra tongue, excuse me!” I raved on until the current passed into my spine and evaporated into thin air. I looked at everyone who was looking at me as if I was displaying madness; even Jayda had a funny look on. I didn’t mind anyway. The man laughed so much that four other men came out from different rooms to see me and they in turn started laughing. It was only the one that looked youngest that was not laughing. He looked like the man I saw in the bus. My heart started racing, I was vexed in the spirit.
“I’m sorry you are this angry dearie. I was only demanding for your name. Alright?” he talked so coolly and I felt strongly irritated.
“If I may ask, why would you need my name…I hope there is no problem?” I asked. I could feel my eyeballs turning red from anger.
“Her name is Jayden Miranda” I heard my sister said loudly from the group. I turned to look at her and I saw the “I pity you” look on her face and I in turn gave her an “I don’t care” look. The man looked at me and gazed so intently.
“No wonder! So, this is you! The most intelligent child of the Mirandas. It’s my pleasure meeting you madam!” he said and bowed slightly. His sarcasm was so strong that everyone laughed. It echoed in my ears as if a grinding machine was processing granites.
“Never mind, we will get to know one another later but for now, since you are all ladies, we would love you to shower and dress up so we would have a chit-chat later. Where we are now is the administrative hall, adjoining here we have the technological room where you all have access to a computer system each to work on. After the tech room, we have a large three-storey building with sixty rooms. There are five beds in each room, make yourself at home. I am, Abeeb Almajiri, I am the coordinator of the public relations unit here.”
“I am Ahmed Sama, the Welfare coordinator. Nice meeting you.” The short man introduced himself, the students except me, clapped and oohed happily. The other men took turn to introduce themselves and I wondered what was really going on. I was really racking my head when I heard a soft voice ring in my head. I turned to look at the owner, it was the young man.
“I am Dave Anjy, the tech director. Wish you luck” he said so softly that my already parched heart had a quick relieve.
Who is this guy? What is he doing in a place like this? What’s with the sad look on his face? These questions rang in my head and I tried to figure it out…
The room had all you could ever imagine…
Jayda, Benita, Georgina and I looked around the huge, beautiful building which was still under cover since I couldn’t see the sky or any vegetation yet.
“Hey Girls!” Celestina and Theresa called out together. We turned back and I could see naked fear in their eyes, especially in Petite Tina. I was pained to the bones.
“Sorry girls, could we be your roommates?” Dammy asked.
“We are four already. Only one person can be admitted” Jayda in her own administrative way said.
“We can share a bed. We can’t separate each other neither can we bear to stay away from you girls. Please” Theresa pleaded. I agreed in my heart and turned to look at my sister. They were reluctant.
“There is no problem since you can share a bed. We concur” Georgina said. I smiled happily.
“Thank you so much girls. You are the best!” They beamed into smiles. We got to Room 10 and my sister wanted to open. I held her hand to stop her.
“Why don’t we go to the last floor? I think it would be okay” I said. She looked at me with a “Don’t let’s start again” look. I gave her a pleading look and we mounted the stairs with unison. We chose Room 60 and entered.
Sheraton Hotel in its whole splendour was not comparable to the beauty that greeted my eyes. There were five well laid queen-sized beds, nine golden wardrobes, four golden fans at each corner and air con lurking in different corners as well. The floor- to- ground curtains were coloured pink and purple- my favourite! We all reached for the wardrobes which opened automatically as we approached. Awesome! The wardrobe had different colours of clothes, slippers, sandals and shoes.
“This is just so awesome! I can’t imagine what could have happened if my dad hadn’t sent people over to save us from the looming danger” Benita broke down into tears as she fell heavily to the Louis Seize Sofa. Georgina held her shoulder as she wept softly too.
“I don’t know why people wouldn’t give the rich the chance to even study quietly. Why would they plan to even kill us…Thank God for the President o. Benita, no need to cry please, you are supposed to be proud of him for even rising up for us in times of need. He is indeed a hero” Georgina said.
“But why should the righteous be punished with others? Our parents are not even politicians, so why should they plan to kill us too?” My sister said
“What are you talking about Jayda? You should expect more persecution. Your Dad is tagged the richest African and tenth richest in the world and you are saying things like this. Can my dad even stand beside your dad when money matter is concerned?” Benita said
“Well, to my own possible understanding, I think we have been abducted!” I said with a sudden realization. All eyes flipped toward me suddenly.
“What!” they all exclaimed
“Jayden, why are you this pessimistic!” Georgina exclaimed, almost angrily
“I wonder o!” Benita exclaimed, looking into her face as if poop was smeared on it.
“What exactly is the problem my dear sister who knows and can feel all things? Don’t you see you are so popular that by the mention of your name those men were able to see how wonderfully endowed you are. You are intelligent ma, all of us know but must you show it everywhere! Must you try to dominate the whole situation whenever you are chanced! Haba, my dear, rest your liver!” Jayda went on poetically and I enjoyed the rhythm with which she raved on. I was brought back to consciousness by their laughter.
“God knows how you guys cope with a KAJ at home. It must be so terrible” Georgina said as she settled on the bed.
“Well, it’s so terrible for me. She is a know-it-all person and so in my house, she is the best person my parents and siblings can consult for any advice. I try my possible best to stay away from her but our looks…damn it…we are too identical that I hate it so much!” she spoke with so much hatred that I had to turn back and look into her face. I had always known that I was not loved by my sister so much but I loved her so that this new realization hurts so much.
“But I think Jayden’s personality is charming. She is a very good person, caring and loving” Tina said and I looked at her with great delight. They all hissed.
“We are talking about the horned animals, the snail is also responding…” Benita said and they all laughed. Tina sucked in her breath and sat on the bed. Theresa rubbed her back and sat with her. Despite my shock and little anger, I left the spot I was glued to and went to sit with the two girls. They looked into my face pitifully and I smiled at them.
Then, there was a click on the ground. It came on again and again. Then light shone from the ground and we realized there was a ground fitted television. We were amazed. It was so big in the middle of the room.
“Hey girls, we believe you are done with dressing up. Come down now as real business begins. Please note that attendance is compulsory” Almajiri announced. The screen went blank and became the normal colour of the terrazzo.
“Business!!” we all exclaimed as if his speech dawned on us at the same alacrity.
“What business! Are we here for any business or something or have we really been abducted?” Theresa asked no one in particular. Fear sketched on her face.
“Abeg! Please shut up o…what’s with this fidgety attitude, the reason I never wanted you in this room earlier” Georgina replied.
“It’s alright everyone. Let’s quickly dress up and go downstairs” I said
“Yes Commander!” Jayda and Georgina answered while Benita laughed. I smiled as we all stood up to have our sweat stained clothes changed.
As we descended the stairs, I quickly muttered some words of prayers. I believed prayers could bring us all out of this beautiful coven and it would all end like an almost bad movie. My prayers seemed like steel against the heavens. Jayden was afraid but her heart was calm.
“My dear, fear not for they that are with us are more than they that are with them” my mum’s best verse of the scripture rang in my ears and then I was reassured- something was wrong but I will not fear. Right! I held on to that.
We were led into a very huge auditorium. Some men were seated together on a Louis Seize sofa. There were lots of computers and wires everywhere. Projectors were on and pointed to a large white board. On the other side were some young men, about 100 of them. They were working with steadied gaze on their computers.
We all sat down. A man stood up. He was huge, black, he looked funny like pharaoh in my bible videos. He looked around and adjusted his flowing blouse.
“My girls, I would want to say thank you for being here. It has really shown that you are great compatriots of this nation. Once again you are welcome” he paused and looked around. My hand was up already, He saw it and frowned a bit.
“Alright, stand and say whatever you want to say” he said so calmly, I was almost impressed.
“Sir…” I started respectfully, at least respect beget respect. He seemed respectable despite his looks.
“Please introduce yourself” he cut in calmly too. I bowed and then nodded.
“Sir, I am Jayden Miranda…” I was saying when he smiled like he found what he had lost.
“Jayden, hello…I know you very well… child of Mr Miranda of M&R Oils right?”
“You appeared in one anti-corruption commercial and acted in one soap opera recently right?” he said on with his face brightened. I felt more uncomfortable.
“You seem to know me well sir. I am honoured” I bowed slightly
“I am more honoured to meet you. Africa’s acclaimed most intelligent person 2020. I am glad to have you here. Please ask your question”.
“Sir, up till now, we do not know where we are. I can barely see the sky or the vegetation. This looks like a confinement. It looks like we have been trapped. This doesn’t look like an escape from a bomb scare. This does not look like Aso?” I asked and sat down. There was silence. Rock. Sir, what exactly is going wrong
“Almajiri, Sama, come forward”. The men who earlier came into our hostel moved forward and bowed.
“What did you tell the kids? What bomb scare! What Aso Rock! May Allah forgive you” he said and dismissed them with a wave of hand. My heart missed a beat and I looked at my sister two chairs away. She seated with agaze eyes.
“Jayden, sorry for the misconception please. They lied to you girls. You can see your male counterparts over there. We simply call them the TAC boys. They were from The Afro-American College, Nigeria. They have been here for over two years now”
“What! The TAC boys looked for by the whole nation were nobbled by you!” I exclaimed. The man looked into my eyes and smiled calmly. My heart stirred. We are in trouble!
“Have we been abducted?” I asked again. The girls exchanged a fearful look
“Not exactly dear! Abduction is too big a word. Let’s use recruitment. You have been recruited into this team.”
“What!” the girls exclaimed and there was a great shiver. Tina started crying
“Please pay attention girls. I will be brief. Nigeria is our fatherland but our recent leaders due to their corruption have soiled the name Nigeria. What is western education and what is Christianity…all these make us subservient to the whites and that is what we are waging war against.”
“Wow, are you guys the terrorists widely talked about? You are the Maukilaun. Right?” I asked authoritatively.
“Yes ma’am…we are. But we are not terrorists. We only show terror to whoever questions what we do.” He said calmly again
“Now, you are one hundred and we have five departments for you. We will tell you what to do after you have been divided into groups. We have the Food department, where our food is being prepared we don’t eat refrigerated food. We have sufficient fresh food that would last for long. Your leader is Miss M. Please come forward. If your name starts from A, after the introduction, you are to move to this group” Miss M in her full black hijab came forward. She looked very lean.
“The second group is the armament group. This is the unit where our arms are built, repaired and managed. You would be trained to use arms too. Children of the army officers fall into this category. Your leader is Mr K, please come forward.” Mr K, muscularly built and very agile moved out, he had a bushy beard on. He maintained a stern face. By now, my colleagues had started crying. I refused to even look at them. I wasn’t ready to pity them.
“The third group is the Tech Department. You are in charge of tracking, supplying information and generating new ideas. The first ten best students of your school fall in this category. You leader is Mr D. Please move forward.” he moved forward. He looked so calm but had a full afro.
“The fourth group is the Assignment Group. This group is trained to go on different assignments though the training lasts for over a year. Students in this group have to be the first top members of the JET club in your school. Your leader is Mr G”
“The last group is the Sharia Group. You are trained to punish offenders. Your training lasts for six months. Then you can start meting out punishment. In this group, we have the politician’s children. Your leader is Mr J and I” He said and picked up a bottle of water from the table. He gulped it down. I shook my head sadly.
“Girls, please don’t try to behave any smartly. I have your records and I know who and who is in what department. Now we can move to our different department.” He said.
“Excuse me sir” I started again. He looked towards me
“Where exactly are we?” I asked
“You are in a man-made underground in Nigeria. No one can find you here. Not even the all-seeing satellites of America”
“Yes my dear, that is true. Now, you fall under 3 and 4 right?” He asked. I wondered how he knew.
“I think group 3 fits you. We need your intelligence. Mr D, she is under you. Also, please note that while here, you have to conform to the compulsory dress code. It’s time to go and sleep. When you wake up, rules and regulations would be up on the ground TV screens. None of those rules is to be broken.” As he was about to sit down, his face flickered and he laughed mischievously.
“Bravo Mr Speaker!” I found myself speak again. I was drenched in my sweat as I could not believe what was happening. All eyes were on me and I saw Davies, the tech guy staring at my side with pain on his face. He was biting his lower lip trying to communicate but I was not ready to decode whatever the gesture was. I was subsumed in anger.
“Mr Speaker, what do you take us for? Do you think we are fools? You want to ruin Nigeria but you need hands, right? So you had the children of the high and mighty kidnapped so you could use them? Well, that’s all a lie. You have lost, you get it? I will make sure you are ruined…” I kept on raving. He laughed loudly, this time echoing in the whole room. It sent a cold shiver down my spines.
“Silence her!” he shouted suddenly. Two hefty men came to my side, lifted me each with my shoulder, dropped me like a paper in front of the auditorium and as i stood up trying to gain stance, they pulled me up and planted a thundering slap each on my cheeks. I saw stars and landed on the tiled floor with a great thud.
I passed out….it will