Flash Fiction StoriesNaija Stories

Downtown

Emeka’s eyes burned and his stomach rumbled as he walked down the street. The hunger was threatening to wrench his intestines. He hoped to buy bean cake and bread with the little money in his brown shorts.

The cool night breeze was caressing his skin and the street lamp was busy sprinkling light here and there. The thick dread locks on his head dangled as he stepped into the shop.

Normally, Emeke would have prepared either yam porridge or egg sauce for dinner, but he had to stay back after lectures to source for materials for his project in the Library. So, bean cake and bread seemed to be his only option.

It was not long he got to the shop that he was served because there were no customers. He started home. Few feet away from the shop, he pulled his bag open, and began to count. The wrinkles on his face stretched into a smile when he was done counting. He was going to have enough of the bean cake because the woman had given him extra.

He had passed the Aboki’s kiosk and was now in the heart of the street when he noticed the unusual dead silence. He knew there was a problem. People couldn’t have all vanished from the street within a space of few minutes he just passed the street.

His pace slowed down to almost a halt. He flashed gazes around —right, left, front and back. His heart began to pound under his chest. The sound of a gunshot at a distance startled him. He jolted and diverted to a corner where he hid behind the blocks of cement stacked at the place.

Having waited for some time without any sign of danger, he decided to speed down the remaining distance. The polythene bag rattled as he paced home. He was stopped in his tracks, when two vehicle belted past him. One screeched to a stop, all the four doors threw open, letting the four hefty men out.

Emeka’s eyes sank in confusion. He knew better not to walk past those men whom he could barely see under the dim light. And he knew better not to shout because people won’t even bother to come to his rescue and that would even put him in more danger.

Then, he decided to run back.

When he made to run back, he heard an husky voice shouted, “If you run, I shoot!”

He stopped. He knelt down and stood. Knelt again and stood. He was unsure on how to proceed with his hands raised to his head.

Next, a hard kick landed squarely on his back which sent him to the ground. “Criminal. Thief. Onye ori!” the voice yelled, although it was softer than the previous one he heard.

Emeka’s head raised a bit so that he was now seeing the men pointing AK-47 at him while he was trapped to the ground under foot. They had to be police men as against robbers or kidnappers Emeka had thought them to be. He recognized their uniform.

They dragged him up and pushed him into their vehicle.

“I don’t know why you are taking me with you,” Emaka said, an edge of fear in his voice. “I’m innocent oo,” he turned to explain to the man behind, but his face received a hot slap.

As they drove off, Emeka would never know that they knew he was innocent, that they couldn’t afford to go back to their superior without any criminal on handcuff, that he was simply unfortunate to have gone out to find what he would eat that night.

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