Jack woke feeling pains all over his body. He had just slept two hours on a table thats hardness was very unforgiving to the human body. The room was too dark to make out the faces of the people in it. Jack looked around him and noticed some students moving about inside the laboratory. Most of them seemed to be leaving. He sat up and ran his left palm over his face. He felt like something was covering his eyes, preventing him from seeing clearly. After five minutes, he saw as clearly as the lighting in the room allowed. He picked up his backpack, unzipped it and unpacked a battery powered rechargeable lamp, switched it on and placed it on the table.
As the lamp illuminated the room, he could see some other students lying down on other tables and some lying down on benches. He switched on his cell phone and checked the time: it was 05:23 AM. On the table in front of him were several items: a bottle of coke, a bottle of water, a couple of candy bars, biscuits, a candle, lighter, two textbooks, three notebooks, a couple of pens, a Rotring pencil, some erasers, a thick jacket and a key. In the bag were toothpaste, a toothbrush, more candles, chin-chin, another lighter, more books and some underwears. Beside the stool were a pair of Timberland boots and a pair of bathroom slippers. He slipped into the bathroom slippers, grabbed the bottled water and headed outside the lab.
At the door, he met Arnold walking in and pumped fists with him without a word, then he took a right and was standing outside the classroom complex in a minute. He unscrewed the cap of the bottled water, poured some in his hand and washed his face, then he stood outside for a minute, feeling the cool morning breeze on his face. He stretched and realised that the pain he felt earlier had gone. It was a productive night, he thought.
He walked back to the laboratory and sat down. Most students that studied in that laboratory had come to know the last table at the back of the room to be his even though they had no idea who he was. No one else ever occupied his space, and he was not even a student in that school. He sat down and opened his class notes on Electronic Control Systems. As usual, most of the class notes that his professor delivered on that course was not only inaccurate but also misleading. He found where he stopped before sleep got the better of him.
The starting point of the problem looked like a differential equation. The note said that after a division of the equation, another function was arrived at and then a simplification of the expression would result in the relationship between x, the independent variable and y, the dependent variable. Jack had spent the night trying to make sense of the whole thing, but it just did not make any sense. As he looked at it presently, a smile rose to his lips. Of course, it is an integration, he thought. He quickly took a piece of paper and began working on integrating the expression.
Jack was so completely absorbed in his work that he did not leave the laboratory until 05:00 PM. It was an old decommissioned laboratory that the school did not use anymore. Obi "Jack" Madu liked to study there because it was far from his room outside his university campus, no one knew him enough to disturb him, and he would never consider the option of returning to his place without having achieved much. Some days, he would have so much energy and success in his study that he would decide not to return to his room at all. Thankfully, he had John, his friend who lived around the school. He decided to take a break and visit John so that he could freshen up get some sleep.
John lived "off-campus" which meant that Jack needed to walked a short distance outside the campus to arrive there. The distance did not feel short as he carried his heavy backpack and hiked with his Timberland. Jack looked like a gangster without his chains, body piercings and mouth jewellery. He knew that John was not in his room as soon as he arrived at the door. It was locked with a padlock. Luckily for him, Kekere, John's neighbour was at her window, as usual, watching who came and who went.
"Looking for John?" she asked with an annoying high-pitched voice that John ordinarily annoyed Jack.
"Yes, Please," he said, trying to hide his irritation and frustration.
"Well, he said he was going to see his cousin, Kasa. Do you know Kasa?"
"Yeah, yeah," Jack replied as he set down the heavy backpack. He asked Kekere if she could keep it safe for him. She finally opened the window revealed her almost impossible small body. Jack looked at her and suppressed his involuntary desire to lift her up each time he saw her.
"Thanks, Kekere," he said and turned to leave.
"You know, that's not my name," she said in her high-pitched voice.
"Oh, sorry. But everyone calls you that," he said apologetically.
"It is okay. Everyone calls me Kekere because of my size. I think Kekere means 'Tiny'. But my name is Olly. You can call me 'Tiny' if you want," she said.
The conversation left Jack confused, but then he chalked it up to information overload. He just could not understand why someone whose nickname is Kekere; a word which many people did not know the meaning, would prefer to be called 'Tiny' which is obvious. He walked about five minutes before he arrived at Kasa's building. John had brought him there once when they had both studied for too long and needed to blow off steam.
He walked in. The hostel was built in the pattern popularly known as face-me-I-face-you. It was a bungalow, shaped like a "U" with sharp edges. He walked along the left side of the building until he arrived at the room before the last. Kasa was seated at a desk with both her window and door open. She fanned herself with a piece of a hard paper.
Kasa was beautiful. She had the kind of beauty that snuck up on you like a tasty cocktail. She had a heart-shaped face and a pair of big eyes that looked like they were deliberately shifted a bit farther apart than was normal, then slanted slightly upwards as it moved from the bridge of her nose to the sides of her face. And the arch of her eyebrows followed the shape of the eyes perfectly. A cartoon animation artist would have found it easy to make beautiful cartoon girl out of her picture. She had dimples on both sides of her face which manifested with every facial expression she made.
When she stood up to pull out a stool for Jack, she revealed curves around her hips that would have made Kim Kardashian jealous. But What Jack admired most about her was how she seemed utterly oblivious of the fact that she took his breath away. For a moment, Jack forgot that he was there to find his friend. He had sat down when he remembered his mission and that John was not there.
"Hi, Jack. It is so nice to see you again," she said, smiling and drawing attention to her perfectly shaped full lips.
"Hello, Kasa. I didi-didn't think you'd remember me," he stuttered.
"Sure, I remember you. John's friend. John just left here a few minutes ago. You missed him, but he did not go far. If you would hold on, I will take you to see him now," she said.
Nice, Jack thought. Apart from Makky, Jack had never been with a woman. He met Makky the year before he was admitted into the University. Those were the best days of his life. He spent days talking to her, whispering sweet nonsense in each other's ears even though there was no one else in the room, kissing cuddling and merely lying in each other's arms. But Jack and Makky never made love. Jack often wondered if that makes him a virgin. That relationship, like every good thing, came to an end when Makky asked him to be just friends. He thought that Makky was crazy and did not know what she was asking for. Even though he was so inexperienced, he was sure that Makky would realise her mistake and return to him. While waiting, Jack decided to immerse himself in his studies, giving himself a zero chance of feeling anything until that evening. His attention was brought back to the present when he heard Kasa banged her door shut.
"Let's go," she said, leading the way.
She was not swinging intentionally, but her hips messed Jack up. He looked at the colour of his jeans and assured himself that it would not be visible if an accident happened as he walked with her. He tried to distract himself by rapping Tupac's I Ain't Mad Atcha in his head, but that did not work. He attempted to do arithmetics in his head: that worked for a minute before he lost interest in it. He walked a little faster to catch up with Kasa and walk side by side with her.
It was 06:30 PM, and it was getting dark fast. The road was a dirt road with many sizes of potholes filled with water from the rain that fell the night before. Here and there were patches of mud covering a substantial part of the road. The nature of the road made it impossible for anyone to walk straight, or even walk without jumping now and then. As John and Kasa walked along the path, they saw the headlamps of a car coming in the opposite directions, and each had to quickly decide to move either left or right, to make way for the vehicle. Kasa promptly ran left, and Jack walked right.
After the car had passed, Jack looked where he expected to find Kasa, but there was no one there. He moved forward a few paces to see if she had moved on, but she was not there. The darkness was complete, and there were no street lights or security lights. Jack went back to the position they were before the car passed but Kasa was not there. Finally, he decided that the smartest thing to do was to stand at the spot where he last saw her and hope that she would return there. He suddenly wished that he had charged his cell phone and taken Kasa's cell number.
Jack stood by the side of the road, facing the street and with his back turned to the building behind him. He stood there for five minutes before he felt a tap on his right shoulder. He looked around, but there was no one there. He turned and looked to his left and saw a tall, dark, lanky youth that looked malnourished. Evidently, the boy did not think there was anything wrong with his looks because he was shirtless, wearing only jeans pants and slippers. On his right shoulder was a yellow cloth which Jack suspected to be his t-shirt.
"Are you with Ursula?" he spoke very fast. Jack did not scare easily, but there was something scary about him and his general approach. Why would he tap on the right shoulder when he was standing a little to my left? And where did he materialise from? Jack thought. He should have asked if he meant Kasa at that point, but he did not wish to be the person that lanky guy wanted him to be.
"No," he replied and kept watching the road.
"Enkay?" the guy asked.
"Kasa?" the guy persisted.
"Yes. I am," Jack responded.
"She asked me to invite you in," he said, pointing at the space between two buildings behind Jack. He should have been relieved at discovering where Kasa was, but there was something sinister about that guy, and Jack felt that it was something he could not avoid. If the girl was there, he ought to go in there and learn what the problem was, then probably fix it. He followed the guy into the darkness.
It turned out that the two buildings were owned by the same person and fenced together. Unfortunately, the fence of the house extended too much on the road and the government pulled it down to construct the road. As he followed the lanky guy, he began to see flickers of lights from some rooms. As if a bell rang for them to start, another dark guy ran out of one of the buildings chasing a girl and dragging her by the hair. Jack looked closer and realised it was Kasa. She was pulling the guy by his shirt front as she hurled abuses at him. Jack assessed the situation and concluded that whoever was responsible for that conflict intended to put him in the middle of it. He had never been a violent person so he decided that the best course of action was to hold Kasa and stop her from fighting because he figured that anything else he did could be misunderstood as an attempt to fight for the girl, and he had no idea what those boys had planned for him.
He moved quickly and held Kasa.
"Hey, hey, hey. What is going on here?" he asked Kasa.
As she tried to speak, the tears began to flow. Her dress was torn and soiled. She was barefoot and breathed heavily. When she could, she answered:
"It is my stupid ex-boyfriend. He has taken my cell phone and torn my dress. God will punish him," she said bitterly.
"Oh, so it is because of this guy, you're calling me 'ex'?" the guy asked with feeling.
Kasa did not answer. Jack could see her struggling to hold back the tears.
Jack casually walked over to Kasa's ex. "Hello, my name is Jack," he said extending his right hand as casually as if he was meeting a potential business partner.
"I'm Loveday," he said, shaking Jack's had and looking physically deflated.
Jack could immediately see that his plan had worked. Out of the corner of his right eye, he could see four guys waiting for Jack to make a physical attempt at saving his friend. He could only imagine the kind of weapons they had with them. Jack had heard of these guys before. They were members of Teschio Fraternity who were infamous for their brutality and violence.
"Nice to meet you, man. I just came to your school to see a friend of mine, Kasa's cousin. She was taking me to see him when this unfortunate incident happened," Jack added intentionally because he knew that guys visiting from other schools were feared by fraternities as hitmen or assassins sent in to do a job, especially when their mission and affiliations were unknown. He said this while trying as much as possible to ignore the fear that had welled up in his stomach. This was his first encounter with real life cultists as they were called in higher institutions.
Jack was naturally built with dense bones, and his days of lifting the heavyweight one year before going off to the university made people think twice before getting in a fight with him. Loveday looked him over and did not know what to do.
"Bro, the girl says you have her cell phone. Please, can I have it?" He asked as if he was oblivious of one of those guys standing behind him with a small axe. He had been told stories of how that axe was used. It was reserved for people whose fuck-ups had been counted until their cup was full. For such people, a gunshot to the head was too merciful for them. That axe was used to gradually cut the victims' body parts that would not kill them at once.
Again, Loveday considered the request for a moment, then he took the cell phone from his back pocket and handed it over to Jack.
"Thank you," he said and walked to over to Kasa to hand it over.
"Anything else?" he asked.
"Yes, my slippers and he tore my blouse," she complained.
"Don't worry, I will find your slippers. Don't worry about the blouse. I will take you back home. It is already dark out, no one would notice," he said and bent down to look for the slippers, still ignoring the thugs standing by for orders. Loveday seemed to be the leader of the pack and Jack could tell that they could not wait to do him harm, at least for not being afraid of their leader. Jack found the slippers and led Kasa out of that place, with his right hand on the small of her back.
Jack felt terrible that he could not defend Kasa any better than he did. He just wasn't a violent person. He had only been in two fights all his life, and he hated it. He lost to the first guy, and he regretted it. He won the second guy he fought but realised that the guy did not make enough effort because he did not want to hurt Jack. Jack regretted that too.
As he led Kasa back to her room, he looked back and saw the silhouette of five men coming behind them. Suddenly he realised that he was not yet in the clear. He decided that the only thing he needed to do was get her home safely. They soon reached Kasa's gates and walked through it. Jack looked behind that moment, but he did not see the people following them even though he knew that they were lurking somewhere in the dark to treat his fuck-up.
Authored by: @churchboy
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