Crime and IntrigueNaija StoriesSuspense and Horror

Shackles

Kate hated the idea of marriage. She had seen marriage for what she thought it was; hell. For her, marriage was synonymous to a ceramic plates. They got shattered into shreds when they fell from a height. She also knew this about marriage—that sweet gentle breeze that would cruise in the beginning, but in no time, it would grow bitter like a lemon.

As she sat on the cemented floor, shrouded in grieve, she knew that the hull of her marriage had hit an iceberg. In her muffled m n cries, she could still feel the draft, slipping through the window louvers. She could do nothing to help the cold. In fact, she paid little or no attention to the cold. With her hands and legs tied, she could possibly have done anything. She thought of ways to escape, but in the end, her mind collapsed into an emptiness; stark empty as this room with musky scent of abandonment.

A shuffle in the hallway broke into her ears. With her eyes dilated, more muffled cries poured out through the thick gag. She felt a pang of fear swelling in her heart and her ribs rose and fell in quick successions. She knew it was about to happen. Death was just some centimeters away behind the door. The air around her suddenly reeked of bleakness.

She knew how it would all end. Her husband would match in with men dressed in red robes. In his order, they would carry her to wherever. They would slit her throat on their secret altar. After that, they would heave a sigh of relieve because the eyes that have seen and the tongue that would have expose their secret is no more.

Kate cringed at this thought. She regretted that night —when she had let out a fierce scream. It was a night struck with doom. It was the night she was scrubbing the room he forbade her to enter. That night, she saw a lifeless woman in the wardrobe. The woman stood erect like an effigy. She was dressed in a white robe and red sashes coursed the inside of the wardrobe. Her hollow eyes gazed blankly at Kate and her cheek bones flattened out. Kate screamed some more and her husband appeared.

A chubby man whose upper lips bore a dense mustache. His head nearly went bald, save for the thin line of hair that spanned the rim.

She shook her head with the intention to stifle the thought, but it was only replaced with another. Her mother’s voice became alive to her ears. It broke through the deathly silenced that reigned in the room.

“A man like that is the dream of every woman,” her mother’s voice rang, “God forbid. You will not bring shame to this family,” she continued, a designer lace fabric Kate’s suitor had bought for her swung across her left shoulder.

Kate clucked and sprang from the small wooden bench to stand akimbo.

Her mother’s hand rose to her face, brandishing a fat black key. “Just to ask your hand in marriage and we own a Prado jeep already,” she paused a bit, as though she sorted her words “you have rejected a good number of suitors and that’s enough. I will not allow it this time,” an edge of anger in her voice.

What started as a shuffle birthed tons of thumping steps. They knocked Kate off her thoughts. The louder the thumping steps, the clearer Kate could picture her death. She was married off to a ritualist. It would have been better if she was married to a wife beater. Her parent’s house would have beckoned and she would have answered. But now, her fears about marriage became a calk walk compared to her own story. More tears rolled down her cheeks.

She gazed at the greasy walls and threw a frown at them. They have no mouth lest they would have swallowed her as she wished She had lost her cool again. She sought for invisibility. She wished for nothing, but to stay alive. She could feel the cold hands of death. Her transition to the other side of life was just a stone throw.

With the jangling of keys and the fitting of one into its hole, the door creaked open. She felt the drop of her heart into her stomach. With what her eyes met, a crease of confusion formed on her face. The men that trooped in were not on red robes but on khaki uniform. She recognized the man that appeared to be apprehended as her husband. Lines of blood trickled from his head into his black pants. His bare chest displayed dense hair which had been forced to lay down by the caked blood.

Her eyes swelled with hope as her hands and legs got loosened.

A huge man offered a hand and she rose to her feet. She was going to say thank you, but heard her tongue asked, “Please, how did you find me?”

Her question was met with silence, but a gentle smile appeared on her face on seeing Ikay; the gateman. He was smiling sheepishly in the green polo Kate had bought for him some days back. The small device in his hand had triggered Kate’s smile. It was his voice recorder. Kate gifted him that.

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