Ali never really liked biscuits as a kid. Unlike most of his mates, chinchin and cake had been more his thing than crunchy wafers. So it was almost inexplicable that he would suddenly be standing still, drawn to a billboard advertising the latest in Cadbury’s inventory of creme-layered, wheat-filled, chocolate cookies. But he was, and it saved his life.
The bullet winged past his head, barely missing him by the width of a thread, and thrumped into the sandy road. The sound of the shot was silent, but for the cloud of dust, it would have gone un-perceived. But Ali heard it.
The world slowed.
He took into cognisance his position; body bent in a defensive crouch, arms spread out about him, the fingers extended, weaponless and in the middle of the road. He took into cognisance his surrounding; beside him on the right, a mallam kiosk, against the low fence of a residential building. On his left, an abandoned two-storey building with a huge signpost of Cadbury biscuits in the middle of the compound.
He recognised the danger, a McDonell Helicopter about 500m above him and to his left. He could even hear the slam, as the shooter lined up a bullet for the next shot.
Ali woke up.
He woke in sweat, his bedsheets all bunched up and soaked beneath him. Above, the fan spun lazily, trying it’s best to cut through the humid air.
It had been a vivid dream. Every detail had seemed so real. He had been walking down a street off the Benin-Agbor road. Just enjoying an evening stroll on a cool day. His hand had been in the pocket of his combat shorts and a comb had been jutting out his bushy hair. He then saw the billboard. He never even heard the helicopter.
And how the hell was he so good at observing his environment as the danger increased?
He had been watching too many action movies.
Getting up, he pulled on a pair of shorts over his briefs, tossed on a T-shirt and combed his bushy hair.
It was a dream. Most probably a hunger dream. His body was trying to tell him something. It was time to buy Indomie.
As he walked home, swinging a water-proof nylon containing two Indomie noodles Super-packs and an egg, he thought of the dream again.
Coincidence does not exist, his father always said. And this was not the first time he was having a dream like this.
Last week, in his dream, he had been sitting in an office. Sitting behind the door actually. A man had walked into the office carrying a folder. The instant, the man closed the door, Ali had shot him pointblank with a 9mm P22 Walther completely fitted with a sound-suppressor. Three shots to the chest. The man was dead before he began to fall. Ali had caught him, eased him into a chair and swivelled it away from the door before leaving the office. Then he had woken up.
The dreams always left him sweaty, nervous, in a high adrenaline state, and horny.
Maybe he should call Chioma.
Yesterday. Yesterday, it had been too vivid.
In the dream. There was a truck. A big truck. You know, those types with about eight wheels and a big IVECO sign in front. Ali had been driving this truck. The scene again, had been Benin city. How he knew these places, haven never stepped foot outside Port-harcourt, he had no idea. It was a white monster, eight wheels and over 300HP, and ten cylinders, all of them firing. The truck barreled down the highway as Ali clung on for dear life. Horns blaring, the tiny buses skid out of the way of the monster from truck hell. In the rearview mirror, Ali could see the two Hilux trucks in close pursuit. His pursuers were armed with top-level automatic rifles and they were gaining on him.
Swerving out the 3rd east circular road, tyres screeching, the engine howling in agony, Ali twisted the truck onto the Akpakpava road as a spray of bullets riddled the side of the truck and knocked out the right side mirror. Pumping on the clutch, Ali tossed the truck into higher gear and ground for the Ikpoba hills, the white IVECO churning at 120kmph. Ahead, at about 100yards was the Ikpoba bridge. Once past that, he had a feeling, the pursuers would leave him be. He just had to pass that bridge.
Then one Hilux swerved suddenly to the left of the truck and began to come closer, the shooter holding the AK-47, sitting in the trunk of the Hilux truck, aimed the rifle at Ali’s head. Without thinking, Ali swerved the truck to the left, hoping to drive the Hilux into the shoulder of the road and onto the path of incoming traffic. But it was a ruse. The Hilux slowed down instantly and in those seconds, the other Hilux had sped up on the right side and began to pepper the cab of the IVECO. Swerving back to the right, Ali over-compensated and missed the entrance of the bridge, hurtling the truck over the embankment and towards the brown swirling waters of the Ikpoba river.
Then he woke. As usual, sweaty, horny and nervous.
This night was calm though. An oddly cool breeze blew in from the sea and for a second seemed to calm Ali’s nerves. There was nothing to trouble for. Who knows, these were ideas for a movie that God was giving him. Enough of website designing, there were other ways to make money in PHC.
Then, with the breeze came a sound. It was like the tinny sound we here when a bell is rung far away from us. Or the tinkle of a spoon against a glass. Whatever it was, Ali had heard that sound before. It was a background sound in all his dreams.
Every nerve was instantly alert.
A man suddenly walked up to him. Arms outstretched, as though to embrace him. But Ali knew better.
The world slowed.
As the left arm came up, Ali raised his right elbow and blocked it. As the right arm swung in, he raised his left elbow, nylon of egg and Indomie still swinging, and blocked. Without giving the man space to think, he twisted his body and slammed his back into the man’s mid-section. The fellow went down.
As the man lay on the floor struggling to get up, Ali crashed his knee into the man’s head and he went out cold.
The tinny sound was still ringing.
Ali didn’t wake. He kept running, splashing into a barely visible puddle. He was scared, the street looked so empty and though lights spilled onto the road from quiet compounds, all he could see were the shadows. Shadows; dark places, from where anyone could jump out wielding a sword or a knife or a gun.
Ali knew his thoughts were no longer rational, but he could barely help it. On a subconscious level he realised he was running at measured paces, his breath was not raggedy or raspy, and his eyes were darting in every direction is precise, calculated movements. Outwardly though, he looked as ungainly as a fat turkey with a broken leg.
And how he had taken that man down. So fast, so clinical. It had barely taken five seconds.
Ali reached the door of his house, his pulse coming as fast as a runner’s after a five mile sprint. Quickly unlocking the door to his one bedroom flat, he made to enter. And then, that tinkling sound came again, and with it, the sound of powerful rotors.
Instantly, a black helicopter swept over the house, it’s searchlight beam aimed directly at Ali.
Two things happened, of which Ali was never sure of any till this day.
In front of his house was a carton box in which he kept a certain amount of debris. Basically, a clutterers useful nonsense; empty bottles, broken plates, an old burner, things which had outlived their purpose, but he would not throw away. This box had stood in front of his door for ages, beckoning to be disposed, but for some reason, some inner instinct had stopped him. Now he knew why.
Kicking the carton box to jostle the contents, Ali retrieved a black Walther P99, 12-round, 9mm caliber semi-automatic handgun, complete with polymer grip from the box. In one fluid motion, he spun around, thumbing off the safety, and squeezed the trigger, aiming for the light.
The bullet hit its mark.
That was the first thing.
Diving away from the fullisade of bullets which erupted from the helicopter, Ali hit the ground on his right side. Before the shooter had time to correct his aim, the killer, who was Ali, fired three shots. Two went through the throat of the pilot while the third took the shooter in his chest.
That was the second.
Scrambling to his feet as the helicopter began a deadly spiral toward the ground, Ali ducked behind a pile of cement blocks as the helicopter crashed into the building.
The apartment complex erupted in a huge fireball as glass and metal shrapnel filled the air. Ali stood up as the air seemed to settle. He had eight bullets left, but it was enough. In the gloom of the settling smoke, other attackers came at him from different angles, rushing out of the building where they had probably been hiding. Killers. His enemies.
Ali shot them all. Shot them in their throats.
Then he ran.
The Real Real Newspaper.
Sunday, 21 April, 2013.
Widespread panic hit the people of Diobu yesterday when, in a strange development, a previously upstanding member of the society ran mad and murdered nine people.
Ali Damascus, an Engineer and web designer with Almatech industries was said to have let leave of his senses and gone on a killing rampage.
Eyewitness reports say, Ali had left the house earlier to buy something to eat from a nearby store.
“When he bought the Indomie from me yesterday, I noticed something was wrong about him. I always tell my husband I know these things. His eye was shaking, and as he was buying the indomie, he was talking something. He was talking about dream. Me I don’t know, I just gave him the Indomie and collected my change,” says Mrs Oladipupo Bimbo
The suspect was said to have attacked a man on the road, a friend of his from work. The friend is now in the hospital. When our correspondent tried to reach him, they were informed he was in intensive care. A source however revealed, the patient to have said “I only wanted to hug him”
On getting to his house, the suspect then tried to set his neighbour’s generators on fire. When an attempt was made to stop him, he killed one man and seriously wounded another. According to the survivor, the suspect went on to burn the house and kill the survivors of the fire with a broken knife and bottle he kept in a carton box outside his apartment.
The Police have declined to give a statement, though the assurance is high that they would catch the suspect, who is still at large. However, in a strange development, the SSS, the NIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency are involved in this case. It is even rumoured that Israeli Mossad agents are being utilized to find the man. Quality manpower has been dispatched here. It is obvious that Mr President has taken a leaf from Obama’s tackling of the Boston Massacre and is determined to bring the killer to book.
Schizophrenia is a bitch innit? Or was it?
*I’m not a Psychologist. I’m a Microbiologist. Which is not the same thing, except you can abide Microbes lying on your couch, so the psych profile I tried to paint may be a bit grainy. And..it’s up to you to tell if he went bonkers, or he was really being attacked by ‘mysterious government agents’.
*I know the difference between the P22 and the P99.
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