A work in progress...maybe
The first thing to penetrate his subconscious was the sound of dripping, the constant tap-tap of liquid reminiscent of a leaky pipe, consistent, measured, concise and ultimately annoying.
Next came a sticky wetness, gummy, cloy and clinging. Not water but something viscous and slimy…and putrid. Actually it was the smell that hit him, a tangy, metallic odour assailing his nostrils.
Hesitantly he opens his eyes and a kaleidoscope of light and colour spirals before him, next comes pain…intense, skull splitting, gut wrenching pain. He raises his hand to his forehead, and is suddenly aware of the fact that he is laying on a cold, hard floor in an unlit room. Forcing himself on to all fours he struggles to stand on shaky legs, trying…straining vigorously to remember …where, what, how and who! Most importantly who! “Who am I?” the question screams at him in his befuddled mind. “Where am I?” he wonders out loud. To his ringing ears his voice sounds like a whisper and his larynx feels sore.
As he scrambles about in the darkened room looking for an exit or a light switch he stumbles over an inert object, with his hands he blindly searches the floor for the object and his fingers make contact with flesh…cold, rigid flesh and he knows it is a body. A wave of nausea overcomes him and he gags. His mind races, and again he asks, “Where am I?”
From his position on the ground he notices a sliver of twilight and with lightening speed for one so weakened crawls towards it and notes that it is the bottom of a door. A door leading he knows not where…freedom…captivity…death? Wherever it leads he’d rather not stay in this room, this room filled with the imposing and fetid stench of death.
As he pulls himself to his feet curiosity gets the better of him and he gropes where he believes a light switch should be. Eureka…contact. On goes the blinding glare of the overhead fluorescent bulb and a nightmare-scape unfurls.
On the floor where he tripped lays the naked body of a man. His skin ashen and blood spattered, his eyes duct taped open, his hands bound; a gaping gash where his testicles would have…should have been…and the piece de résistance…a six inch blade through his heart…a macabre work of art from the mind of a twisted sculptor. The dead man’s face is twisted in an expression of abject terror, grotesque; evocative of one of the hell-bound mortals in a rendition of Dante’s Inferno.
About ten feet away is a bed. On the bed lays the body of a woman. Her naked body is splayed suggestively across the bed and her face turned towards the opposite wall so he cannot see her face. Her skin where not splattered with blood still retains a luminous hue, rich mocha coffee avec un petit peu au lait, long, shapely legs and pert full breasts. Total perfection…even in death.
Our man can no longer keep down the bile in his throat that fights to be free and spews out the content of his stomach on the floor. Heaving and retching, he remains bent over for what seems like hours his body trembling from shock. Eventually spent his eyes are reluctantly drawn once more to the gruesome tableau on the bed and his feet of their own volition inexplicably move to the bed. He has a burning desire to see the face of this dead woman. A niggling in his mind tells him that he must.
He reaches the bed and turns her head gently towards him, and his knees buckle. A flash of déjà vu hits him and he knows that he knows this woman in every sense of the word ‘know’. Her hazel eyes are open and though glassy still radiate terror…and something else …pleading. Her mouth is open as if in a silent scream…a scream cut off for eternity…never to be heard by mortal ears. Discoloration around her neck makes it clear hers was a case of death by strangulation. Her hands are long and dainty and a fingernail is broken to the quick and her right hand bloodied, while on her left hand is an engagement ring. The man instinctively knows that he knows this ring.
Tears blinding him he runs haphazardly out of the room, not sure to where he runs but anything to get away from this madness. As he reaches the outer door and runs out on to the street he is welcomed by a blast of ice-cold rain and he keeps running like a headless chicken without direction or destination, but his feet appeared guided by his confused mind to a destination he knows not.
The moon is ebbing in the pitch-black, starless sky and the hour is neither early nor late. Thankfully he meets no one as he continues to run. Suddenly a car horn blares and the driver starts to call out.
“Sean is that you?” the car slows to a crawl “Man what are you doing running around at this ungodly hour…and in this ungodly weather no less?”
The man stares at the driver, trying to force his mind to recall whom this person is, the face is familiar and a name floats in his sub-consciousness and rests on the tip of his tongue…Peter.
The driver continues his monologue oblivious to the man’s reserve, “Get in the car for God’s sake before you freeze to death and let me drop you off”
The man, who we now know to be called Sean, hesitates for a moment, wondering how Peter could fail to see the blood that must obviously be all over him, and then he realizes the rain must have washed him clean…at least on the outside. Reluctantly he enters the car and let’s himself be taken.
“Thanks...Peter” Sean mumbles as he slips in and is encased by the familiar but strange comfort of the Mercedes and rests his still fuzzy head against the headrest. “Why are you out so late, yourself?”
Peter removes his eyes from the road momentarily and shoots Sean a quizzical look. “Don’t tell me you forgot, old boy? I came in from London this evening. I just leaving the airport,” Peter turns his head back to the windscreen and shrugs “I guess you must really have tied one on if you can’t remember we have lunch today to discuss the final details for the acquisition of semi-conductor processing plant in Surrey.”
“My bad, Pete…I’m just tired and really need some sleep” Sean says and hopes that Peter takes it as a sign that conversation isn’t welcome. Luckily Peter does and concentrates on the wet road ahead.
While they drive in silence, Seun does a brief inspection of his pockets and finds a wallet, a set of keys, and a cell phone. The wallet and mobile are both obviously expensive and obviously his. Opening the wallet he sees a Drivers’ Licence with his picture and the name Sean Oluwaseun Oluseyi and a number of complimentary cards with the same name and the designation Vice President, Mergers and Acquisitions. Several thousand Naira notes, ATM cards, and a Platinum MasterCard are in the wallet. In the course of his search he comes across a snapshot, taken on what must have been a vacation, of him and a woman.
In the picture he wears a pair of loud Bermuda shorts and flip-flops and her the clichéd yellow polka dot bikini, the cliché tourista. They face each other, seemingly oblivious to the photographer, totally intent each on the other. His arms are around her waist and his hands cup her bottom, drawing her close to him and her right hand is against his chest while her left hand rests on his shoulder and they are smiling. Her skin is rich mocha with a hint of cream, her hands slender, as is the rest of her except for her breasts. On her hand is an engagement ring, a flawlessly cut 3-carat pink diamond set in an 18-carat platinum studded with 1-carat solitaires. No two rings like it because it was made for her. It was not just any ring. It was THE ring!
An icy hand digs into his chest, clutches his heart and squeezes. The dead woman on the bed was wearing the exact same ring.