Acrid Reminiscence || Akuma Chidera

I ALIGHT FROM THE CAB, tug the hem of my jacket and observe myself for any irregularities that may score me a minus. There seems to be none, so I heave a sigh and stride into the lobby. 

Yonder, a straight-faced receptionist shoots me a glance. I hurry towards her. “Good mor—"

“Number four," she cuts in, an arm outstretched, pointing at a row of seats behind me. Three other applicants are seated there.

I take a seat, but focus on her.

She answers the telephone and calls out numbers sequentially.

“Number three,” she calls. Number Three walks up to her and hands her a letter. She stamps it and shoves it back into his hand, muttering directions.

“Is that all?” Number Three inquires.

She glares at him, lips furrowed, eyes slit. “Ask me one more question and I will evict you before the interviewers get the chance to.” 

“Number Four,” she calls a few minutes later. I walk up to her and hand out my letter. Another scornful glance, and she stamps and hands back the letter, then points in a direction. “Third floor. Lift on the left. First office to the left.” 

I look in the direction she pointed. It was to the right.

I don’t want a taste of her hostility so I refrain from asking questions. I can feel sweat streaking down my spine. 

I hurry to the lift on my left side. Inside, I take deep breaths to ease the knot in my chest. It's got all tight, thanks to that woman at the desk.

I hit “3” on the row of buttons and shut my eyes. The deep breaths are doing very little to help me relax. And the bleeping of the lift that indicates the number of floors travelled doesn’t stop at three. 

There comes four; and five. The sixth bleep makes my brows crease. I squint a stare at the row of scrambled numbers in the lift. Wait! That’s not a “3”; it is a defaced “8.” Definitely the wrong lift. 

The lift bleeps one last time—a time so long that I almost kicked the frames in anger. But the door finally glides open. 

I amble into the eighth floor of the building. It's as empty as a robbed store. Sure enough, it isn't an official part of this building. So I walk back to the lift to find the right floor. But then. I step on something.

It's a beaded bracelet. I pick it up. Letters are engraved on the beads. They read:


Just how wrongly my kid sister used to spell her name. 

The thought of Stephanie makes me dizzy. And I stagger, finding calm against the wall, my mind pulling a retro-run to the most horrific night of my life. 

A night, memories of which I'm yet and ever desperate to bury. To wash away. Off my mind!

Dad darted in, scaring us all. "Grab your things and wait in the car!" he shouted, scaring us all. "I'll explain things on the way." He rushed towards a room. The fright in his eyes that night plucked at my heart. Dad had never been afraid. Never. 

So Mum was also scared. She kept asking questions. My little sister only watched blankly. Innocent Stephanie. She had this bracelet on her.

I rushed to my room upstairs to grab my things. 

Something crashed, and I looked out of the window. I saw them, those men walking to our house with bags and weapons. They had bashed Dad’s car. 

I was 12, and Dad already told me what to do in situations like this. I ran to the bottom of the stairs and got in the trapdoor, looking to climb down the basement.

Still I was able to watch through a peephole. The men got in, strapped my dad to a chair and tortured my mom and little sister. They mentioned words like Uranium, Espionage and Safehouse

At the end, they slit Stephanie’s throat and bludgeoned Mom to death, while Dad watched. While I wached. They set him ablaze on the chair, ransacked our house and left with everything they deemed important.

I knew where Dad stashed his items. The tunnel that leads to the barn has a secret compartment. 
Not knowing what to do, I moved away, stayed away, and changed my identity years later.

But here I am. I've tried to bury the past, but they found me. They want it totally obliterated. 

It’s now all clear. How easily I was shortlisted to be interviewed, considering my very average record and basic résumé. 

I am a target, and this floor was used as a base to plan the operation. But… My sister’s bracelet? They probably secured everything from the police investigation. Then dumped it all here? 
Chest tightened, I scurry out of the room, down down the building, ignoring the curious gazes from others, and wave down a cab. 

As I sit in the cab heaving, I feel my phone vibrate. My moist and trembling hands manage to slip the phone out of my jacket’s inner pocket. I swipe to answer the call, pressing the phone to my ear.

Two sentences from the caller makes my heart sink. “You’ve been targeted. Follow my instructions if you want to live."

Image Source: © Michael Morgenstern


AKUMA CHIDERA MBA is a Nigerian writer who hails from Afikpo, Ebonyi state and resides happily with his family in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.

He is an aspiring author and engineer, currently studying Mechanical engineering in Federal University of Technology, OWERRI.

The dexterous writer, skillfully explores the genres of mystery, thriller and crime. He writes mostly Young Adult Fiction.

Chidera has many works mostly published on his Facebook timeline.

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