HOW OUR PATHS ALIGNED By Nkama Chukwuemeka

Submitted into Contest #115 in response to: Set your story in a town disconnected from the rest of the world. ... view prompt


Adventure Crime Fiction

Amaka, Ben and I have known each other for six years now. The three of us are best of friends. We’ve all been to camp meetings halfway around the world; in the national theatre; in the national stadium and in church services all together sitting side by side fifteen percent of the times in no particular order, but the usual order has always been me on either side of Ben who always occupies the middle position between Amaka and me. I mustn’t sit next to Amaka if it were possible. We all loved each other but the love between the pair of Amaka and Ben, is bigger than any mind can comprehend. I watched them over the years grow in love and affection; marriage can never pass them by and I would joyfully and most certainly be Ben’s best man on the day of his wedding.

Ben is a jealous lover who is always concerned about who sits next to Amaka, who talks to Amaka, who smiles at Amaka, who gives gifts to Amaka and virtually all the whos and whats that border around Amaka from the outside world. If he wasn’t disposed to accompany her to any given event, then no male should, except in matters of utmost necessity of which I am the only male he deems fit. But how did we all get to know each other? How did our paths align?

Rolling back in time six and a half years ago, I was a young entrepreneur looking for money to boost my two year old business. It was a small business that made custom bags for ladies, unisex shoes and leather belts for all classes of people. I wanted to acquire the entire building that was leased to me along with all other buildings next to mine and the entire space. The next building to mine was Ben’s, he used it for the making of fashionable clothes, sweaters, suits and every other thing in-between. Coincidentally, he’d been in this business for two years just like me but in a different location. He newly got into this current place of work and we barely knew each other. He was also deeply interested in purchasing the buildings and nearby spaces in order to expand his business. Our common problem was that we personally did not have enough money to buy the entire place. When we realized we both had same goals, we became business enemies. I found myself under intense pressure to raise money and go ahead of him to purchase the entire area, but so was he too. A young lady who was our mutual customer and who would later become the lady of his dreams, a lady with a big heart, fair and lovely to look upon, Amaka by name, stumbled on our path one fateful day and caught us in the middle of a fight. It happened that what was barely an argument in the initial stages, before she arrived, had shifted gears and translated into a fight just in front of our shops. She needed a new pair of shoes and a jumpsuit, but on seeing and learning about what transpired between us, she didn’t know and was unable to remember what she came to buy any more. After a few efforts to calm us down yielded no positive results, she got angry and was ready to leave. She appeared to be walking away from us and it suddenly dawned on me that I was about to lose a good customer forever over a foolish fight. I dusted myself up, ran after her and Ben soon joined me after realizing he too was about to lose a very good customer. She noticed we were running after her then she paused, smiled and turned back at us, then she said,

“You two would make good business partners, you know, seeing that you are both caught up in same industry, you should team up, acquire the entire space and excel to the moon”.

After she had ended her words, we looked at each other with mixed feelings of relief, then of shame and foolishness. How she became Ben’s girlfriend till date is a story for another day. How Ben and I became best friends is what you are about to know.

It happened that on a certain day I dressed up to attend a seven-day business seminar and workshop in some far away town. On reaching there, I met Ben who was also in attendance. We weren’t enemies anymore but still not very nice friends, we just wanted to see if things could work out between us in becoming friends and business partners but at such, no much effort had been made by either of us. We were meant to lodge in a particular five star hotel all seven days but our business meeting was abruptly brought to an end on the third day. Prior to my arrival at the hotel, just before entering the town, I heard a voice over the radio of the taxi I boarded say that there had been reports of a prison break and as a result a serial killer and a notorious hacker were declared wanted. As soon as we entered the town we began to lose signal. The transmission was breaking and I could no longer get further information about the news of the prison break so I asked the driver to try other radio stations but after much tries it was clear to us that we’d totally lost connections to the radio stations so I resorted to my phone to surf the net but there was no network connection, my phone had lost signal same time we lost the radio stations. This was strange. While we made our way to the hotel, though it was now evening, we could clearly see the commotions in the streets. Was there a sudden increase in crime? If it were so, then it is probably due to the loss in network connection all over this town; there would be no one to call the police if things went wrong. I became concerned about my safety in the town, and to be in a place without network connection even for a night is a nightmare of its own.

When I met Ben at the hotel, for the first time in our lives, we talked as very good friends and even ate together. He was the only businessman I knew so well in our business conference at the hotel and so was I to him too. The organizers of the conference and the hotel management assured us that what we were facing was just a minor glitch and the connections would be back in no time. They also told us the hotel was heavily secure and that they ran their own private security system.

A day is now gone but there was still no network connection, whatsoever. The problem with this kind of situation is that heavy crimes would be simultaneously perpetrated in several locations and there would be almost nothing the police can do, both the police and the people would be information sick, the latter especially, would be hopelessly helpless. I spoke to Ben about my plans to leave this town but he convinced me to spend one more day and maybe things would get back to normal. He said I should consider how much I’ve spent to be in the business seminar and workshop and give the town a chance of an extra day, so I agreed with him. At exactly 3PM of the same day there was a total blackout in the entire town so the hotel resorted to her backup electric generating set in order to maintain electric power for our meeting to continue, but around 7PM same day, all lights in the hotel went out and PANDEMONIUM!!! Yes, there was pandemonium all over the place; all doors were automatically locked except the big door at the main entrance. Suddenly, two men came in through the main entrance and soon afterwards a lot of men in masks joined them. I noticed one of the two men happened to be David the 'One-Eyed-Scorpion', a serial killer that was brought to justice and sent to prison some eight years ago. One of his men said all they wanted was our credit cards and all the money we had on us, but first, since this is a hotel that has lots of food and drinks, we should all party through the night and then by dawn they’ll be gone with all they came for, but just then, David interjected with a hysterical laughter and then began to cough, then after some moments of calmness, he said that they were most certainly not going to leave the hotel without a few dead bodies. They kick-started what was a night party for them with loud music but a night of doom for us. David had promised us that by midnight he would pick a random letter of the alphabet and anyone who had this letter as one of his initials would be killed. The killings would proceed on a forty-five minute interval. We were all afraid and terrified, and there wasn’t much strength left in me. 12 AM was fast approaching, Ben and I needed to come up with a plan. We still had our credit cards intact which was to be collected after David was done with his killings. Somehow I could remember that before David was arrested eight years ago, he had a killing pattern where his entire victims’ first names or last names began with the letter ‘D’ so I started panicking because my name is Dean Harrison. I shared my fears with Ben and he came up with a plan. About thirty minutes before midnight we both approached one of the members of the gang and complained about food poisoning and would need to go to the bathroom but he wouldn’t permit us, and then I told him to consider what his boss might do to him if we messed the entire hall with faeces when it was in his power to simply lead us to the bathroom. He gave it a thought and then led us away to the bathroom. Ben was ex-military. He easily overpowered the gang member and we both tied and locked him up in the bathroom. We began to sneak our way around the hotel to look for some glass window to shatter and steal away from the hotel while the party was still on. We did find a glass window leading to the back of the hotel but by the time we shattered it, it was some few seconds after the party was called to an end by David, some few minutes to midnight, so the entire gang heard the noise. We jumped from the second floor of the massive building and landed on some empty stacks of carton. I had more of a nasty crash but felt very little pain due to adrenaline. We ran through the gardens and scaled through the fences. Some members of the gang did try to follow us but lost sight and track of us.

We left all our bags and business materials back at the hotel, right in the middle of the town strangely disconnected from the rest of the world, but we made it out alive. Our friendship, like magic, grew stronger and stronger from that day till date. We merged our businesses, bought all the nearby buildings and lands at our place of work. Fast forwarding to this present day exactly six years later, we have a life of which Amaka who ignited the fire that has brought us and merged us together cannot be taken out of the picture. She and Ben would be getting married soon and just like I’ve said earlier, their story is for another good day.

October 15, 2021 22:26

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