©Kayode Odusanya ~~
Mark was trying to get through to Susan on the phone as he walked briskly to where they were meant to meet. With the phone glued to his right ear, a busy tone was all he could get as he wondered who could be on the other end of the line with this girlfriend this long.
An hour had gone by since they were meant to meet at the cafeteria, he was dead sure that by now, she would be pissed at him.
“Hi?” a girl said, as she walked up briskly beside Mark from his right side. She quickly wrapped her left arm around his right, simultaneously putting up a smile. There was confusion all over Mark’s face but it felt perfect. She moved in closer and whispered in his ear, “Please act like you know me.” He looked into her face; frowned, but the beautiful smile didn’t leave her face. By now, they had gotten to a tiny path on the road, he could now see about four guys gathered under the tent that was usually occupied by the lady who sold doughnuts. There, almost instantly, he put two and two together, figured out what was going on.
She kept talking whilst they walked as Mark played along with the fake conversation to the best of his abilities. As they walked past the tent, he could see some level of disappointment in the eyes of the men. He tried to double up his pace, but the girl pulled him back, slowed him down and tightened her grip on his arm. At the end of the small path was an old rusty gate; Mark opened the gate gently as he stylishly looked back towards the tent. The four guys were arguing, and just about the same time, looked in his direction. Suddenly, in their eyes was some renewed sense of determination. Just as he was about to drag the girl along with him in a dash for the main road, she laid her hands on his cheeks, pulled his face towards hers’ and kissed him passionately.
A few seconds went by, they disentangled and continued walking. Both silent, they only stopped when they got to the main road. The girl leaned on a sign-post on the side of the road that read ‘Speed Limit: 40 Km/Hr’. Subconsciously it now clicked; Mark had always thought that it quite was ridiculous for a University campus road, but that was the last thing on his mind right now.
“Do you mind telling me what all that was about?” he said with a quite disgruntled voice. She looked his way but didn’t say anything. He took a good look at her now, and noticed that her height and features were quite intimidating. He wondered why she needed his help earlier. He noticed she was still staring at him. As much as it freaked him out; he kept his eyes on hers. Just then, she stood upright and sighed.
“Thanks a lot for that.” she said with a smile.
“Well…its okay, but I’d still like to know what kind of trouble you are in. You know…”
“Sorry I had to kiss you.” she said with a frown, cutting Mark off… “You will surely feel as bad as I do later, trust me.” she continued in a barely audible voice.
“What? Oh! Nothing…I wasn’t talking to you.” She said, and started stroking her fingers in her hair. Mark looked around him and noticed no one had passed by since they had been standing there, and fear slowly crept into his mind again. He wondered why the girl was still standing there staring at him, and not running off to some place safer.
“Look…” he said, as he scratched his head. “I really need to get to my girlfriend, are you okay?”
“Oh! yea, I’m going that way.” she said, pointing towards the right side of the road. “I stay at Amina hall.”
“Okay. That’s not far from here. I’m actually going across the road to the cafeteria, are you sure you’ll be okay?”
“Yes.” she said, before turning around. Mark stood there, staring at her coke-body figure walking away from him, and he wished he could get to know her a little more. Just then, she looked back.
“I’ll be expecting your call.” she said, and hastened her pace.
How am I supposed to call you when I don’t even have your number, Mark thought to himself. “Hey, wait!!I don’t have your number.” he yelled, but she didn’t look back. She just kept on walking, till she got to the school chapel, and disappeared by the bend down the road.
He made his way uphill to the cafeteria. That part of the campus was now an old abandoned village. Many years ago, the inhabitants of the village had won many battles because of the advantage they had of seeing their enemies approaching from downhill, and having the upper hand when fighting them off from that elevation. But as time passed, and warfare became more complex, the village was finally conquered and pillaged by foreigners who wanted the area for selfish reasons.
Mark wiped the sweat off his brow as he walked into the cafeteria. It was always a tiresome walk up the hill, and he wondered if the school made it that way so people would eat less and study more. He saw Susan sitting at her usual spot, close to the Coca Cola Refrigerator, wearing one of her favorite polka dot gowns. She was talking on the phone, and she sounded really pissed.
“Hey Mark! How are you doing?” A familiar voice called out from behind him. He reluctantly turned around.
“I’m fine Abigail, how are you doing?” Abigail had been trying to get Mark to attend her church fellowship for a while now, and she just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She went on and on as usual, telling Mark how good things would become once he gave his life to Christ and started attending church regularly. When Mark noticed she wasn’t going to let him go easy this time, he decided to give in, and promised to attend her Church. A big smile appeared on her chubby face. She took down Mark’s phone number, and gave him about half a dozen Christian tracts. He collected them, slipped them in his right pocket.
Susan had just finished answering a call and was putting her phone in her purse as he approached her. She looked at him, hissed, picked up her purse and walked passed him. He pulled her back by the arm, and was about to apologize, but the look on her face made him let her go. Mark knew what his girlfriend was capable of doing when angry, and this was definitely not a good place for them to settle their drama. He leaned on the Coca-Cola refrigerator and pondered what to do next. He brought out the tracks Abigail had given him, and looked to make sure she was not looking in his direction before putting them on a chair next to him. Someone that needed it more than him would find them, he had thought to himself. Just then, another girl walked up to him, with a look on her face like he was supposed to do something. He stared at the bald headed girl, wondering where he knew her from. “Hello!!! I need to get a bottle of Coke, duh!” she finally said.
“Oh! Im so sorry”, Mark said, and moved out of the way.
He walked out of the cafeteria, but this time stood by the entrance. The view was another spectacle, and he could see the whole hostel area from that elevation. He looked towards the brown multiple storey building by the chapel, and wondered if he could spot the girl he had met earlier from the tiny dots of movements he could see from where he stood. His eyes hurt from focusing too long, so he stretched to relax. Whilst yawning uncontrollably, he felt something when he slipped his hand into his left pockets. He at first thought it had to be one of the tracts, but when he got it out from his pocket, he found out it was a sticky note with something scribbled on it. Just then, he noticed someone approaching him from his right side.
“Who was that girl you were talking to!!?” Susan barked out as she stood inches from his face.
“What?” He said, and quickly put the paper back in his pocket.
“I saw you talking to a girl; didn’t I? Who is she?”
“Abigail?” Mark replied, and laughed. “That’s the girl from my department, she…come on! You can’t possibly be getting mad over me talking to Abigail?”
“What are you talking about? I saw you…”She stopped mid-sentence as she was hyperventilating now. Mark stopped to think for a second, and realized who Susan was referring to, but he didn’t know how he was going to explain that situation to her. “Mark!” She shouted out.
“Hey! I’m sorry. I actually thought you were talking about Abigail.” Mark finished his sentence with a chuckle, and started walking towards his girlfriend. She put up a hand, and Mark knew what that meant, so he stopped approaching.
“So, who is she?”
“Susan, technically speaking, I don’t know her.”
“What are you talking about?” She said with a low menacing voice.
“Some guys were going to beat her up; she just used me for protection or something.”
Susan squeezed her face, and looked into space. “Susan, I swear, I don’t know the girl.”
“Call me when you get your facts right.” She said, and angrily walked out on Mark for a second time that day. He leaned on the barricade outside the cafeteria and watched her walk downhill. When she got to leveled ground, she looked up towards him and shook her head before walking off. Mark sighed, and reached into his pants pocket for his phone. His heart skipped a beat when he discovered his phone wasn’t there. He checked his pockets again and again, and then he pulled out the small sticky note he had noticed earlier. ‘Helen- 0802-7794635’ was written on it. Just then, it hit him.
Room number 006 was pasted on the door of the last room on the corner to the right, on the long dormitory corridor. He knocked on the door three times just as the girl had instructed him to do when they spoke on the phone. After a couple of seconds, he heard the door being unlocked from inside, but no one came forward. He looked to his right; there were girls going back and forth and all had strange stares on their faces. He was thinking of turning around and quietly walking away, but his phone really meant a lot to him. The girl was sitting on a neatly made bed, typing on her laptop as he walked into the room. She didn’t look up at him, so he just stood there in the middle of the room, wondering if he had walked into a trap. She finally looked up to him, “relax; take a seat.” she said and patted a portion of the bed. She had an Aiwa sound system opposite the bed, playing jazz music at a low volume. He looked at it as he sat on the bed as it reminded him of the one that had been in his Dad’s room when he was a teenager; it was an exact replica. He remembered always sneaking into his Dad’s room to play his favorite Hip Hop music on the player back in the day.
From the corner of his eyes, he noticed the girl had been staring at him, so he nervously sat upright. The strange thing was that she didn’t avert her eyes when he caught her staring, such that it made Mark uncomfortable.
“Can I just have my phone and be on my way.” Mark said. He had heard crazy stories of Hot University girls ganging up to rape boys, and he wondered if this was her plan. ‘She can’t rape me here’, he thought to himself. When looked at her again, he saw something in her eyes he couldn’t describe. It wasn’t desire; it was more like joy, and it left Mark confused. “Angela, I would really appreciate it if you would just hand over my phone, please.”
A frown appeared on the girl’s face, which was quickly replaced by a smile. She reached under her pillow and pulled out Mark’s Xperia X10.
“My name is Helen, not Angela.” She said as she handed Mark his phone.
“So sorry” he said.
“Those guys earlier were going to give you a real beating.” she said. Mark froze, and his attention shifted from the screen of his phone back to her.
“What are you talking about?” He asked looking all puzzled.
“I’m sure you’ve heard of the Dalmatians.”
“Well…I have heard a little about them” he replied.
“Those were their pimps.” she said in a most confident manner. “You must have offended one of the Dalmatians.”
“I don’t understand all you are talking about. I’ll be on my way if you don’t mind.” Mark said and started heading towards the door.
“Mark, wait.” She said in the softest pitch of her husky voice, and rushed to block him from leaving the room. Mark stood there stunned.
“How do you know my name? I don’t remember telling you.” Mark said, looking straight at her for answers.
“Mark; who knew you would be passing through that road path earlier today?” she asked, ignoring his question.
“No one; I was going to meet my girlfriend.”
“Okay then, your girlfriend knew. What’s her name?”
“You are kidding, right?” Mark said with a little laugh. “Are you trying to tell me my girlfriend set me up? That she’s in some sort of cult?” Mark stood there, shaking his head. “Why should I believe any of this bull crap?”
“Because…” she stopped mid sentence and headed over to the Aiwa. She bent down, and turned up the volume a few notches. She removed the scarf on her head as she walked to where he was standing. He stood there, staring at her lovely black hair, which fell down to her waist. “Mark, I’m the head of the Black Amazon cult. I know everything that happens on this campus before it does. Mark got weak in his knees and held on to the door handle for support. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing yet.
“So…what’s your girlfriend’s name?”
“Susan Jones.” Mark said, reluctantly.
Helen smiled before talking. “Mark, your girlfriend is one of the Dalmatians.”
“That’s impossible. Susan?’’ Mark said and laughed. “Your story is ludicrous.”
“Why? Because you think you know her?” Helen said, looking into Mark’s eyes. “Why do you think she wears all those white Polka dot dresses? You think she’s a big Disney fan?”
Mark was confused now. “How did you know that? How do you know…?”
“Don’t be naïve.” She said, cutting him off. “That’s how they identify themselves.”
Mark was lost in thought now. He was thinking of any incidence in the past that would give him a reason to believe that Susan was really a member of that cult, but he couldn’t find any. He looked up at the mystery girl again, and asides from the weird way she always looked at him, there was something else about her he couldn’t place. He had a feeling he had met the girl before, or seen her at a party recently. He went back to the thought of Susan being an actual cult member, and he just couldn’t come to terms with it. Even if she was in a cult, he couldn’t think of any reason why Susan would get guys to beat him up.
“They believe in Earthly punishment to ill-treatment of the vulnerable. You must have done something to offend Susan.”
Mark thought about the party he went to last Saturday, and he remembered getting drunk and having sex with Alicia Johnson in his car. But he didn’t think Susan would have found out about that. Besides, everyone lies about having slept with Alicia Johnson, because of how loose she was, so it would be hard for Susan to believe any rumors of him sleeping with her, he thought to himself. “But Susan would never do that to me.” Mark said out loud.
“She would be going against their laws, and there are consequences for that.”
Mark’s face was screwed up as he looked up at her. “Why did you help me?” It got Helen off guard, and she became speechless. After a couple of seconds of silence, Mark walked out of the room.
He saw his dad driving the Jaguar out as he drove into their street. He waved at Mark, and Mark bowed his head in greeting. He had been looking at his Dad differently lately, ever since he caught him at a park close to his school with another woman. He wasn’t mad at the fact that his dad was seeing another woman; he was just double pissed because she was a very much younger woman. He had watched them from afar for about half an hour, and they hadn’t spoken much, but as they held hands, he could see there was a lot of passion in their eyes.
He was parked in the garage now, but was too lazy to come out of his car. He slouched in the car seat, and got lost in thoughts again. Somewhere in his subconscious, a thought popped up, and made its way to his conscious mind. He processed the data, and with every second that passed, he was sure he was right on his conclusion. He had come to the realization that the girl he had seen with his Dad at the park was none other than Helen, the mystery girl. He got out of the car, and as he walked into the house, he wondered how his Dad had ended up dating a cult member. He also wondered why on Earth his Dad’s mistress would be on the lookout for him, and put herself in danger just to protect him.
He exchanged greetings with his Mom as he walked into the living room. She had been using her iPad, and she looked at him funny when he came to sit beside her on the couch. He was shocked when he saw that his Mom was actually going through Helen’s pictures on Facebook. He felt bad for how she would be feeling at this very moment. “Umm! Mark, I have to tell you something.” his mom said and tapped his knee. Mark prepared to act as surprised as possible to what his Mom was going to tell him. “Mark, you…” she was saying and paused to hand him the iPad. He squeezed up his face as he collected the device from her. “She actually goes to your school. Mark, that’s your half-sister.”