African StoriesCrime and Intrigue StoriesNaija Stories

Hidden in Plain Sight

Your alarm pinged, jolting you from your wonderful sex-induced sleep. You searched blindly with your arms, hoping to switch off the insistent piece of technology without fully waking up; but it was as if you were playing hide-and-seek with your phone—it was nowhere near. Your partner on the other side of the bed stirred and grumbled about the disturbing sound. Then your left hand located the phone under the foam. You brought it close to your face and mistakenly snoozed the alarm.

Then you noticed the message notification. You opened it, and at first it didn’t make any meaning to you. It was a cryptic biblical statement and you were in no mood for such. But on a second read, you realized that hidden in the poetic lines was a death threat.

You sat up, and with growing fear, read the message out loud:

“God wiped out Sodom,
the people who were against His Kingdom.
Sodom’s child you are,
behold your end is near.”

You tapped your partner, and when she did not wake up, you violently shook her. She turned, opened her eyes and asked you what the problem was.

“Baby, someone just sent me a death threat,” you told her.

Immediately she sprang up and took the phone from your hand. She read the message, and took a sharp breath; you felt her whole body vibrate and you knew she was angry. She was ever so protective of you, and with the special nature of your relationship with her, she watched you with eagle eyes. It was what made you fall in love with her—the fact that she could go to the ends of the world for you.

As she gave the phone back to you, she reached for her own phone and switched it on. That was when things got creepy. She turned her phone’s screen to you and your fear doubled. The message was sent to her too.

“I’m going to call James,” she said, “if anyone can track who sent this message, it’s him.” James was her younger brother. He was a web designer and a hacker.

She dialed his line, and as they were talking, another message came in. With shaking hands you clicked on it, and it read:

“Christ came to call sinners,
those who refuse him are losers.
Today your life will be over,
yours and your lover’s.”

“—so when am I expecting a—?” your lover was saying when you cut her off.

“I just got another message!” you screamed. “I’m getting scared, Judy.”

“Uh… James, she just got another message, and I guess I have too—” she checked her phone “—well I did not get any message now. Please when will you be able to give me a feedback?” She was silent as she listened to what he said. “Okay then. I’ll call you later.”

She rushed to your side immediately and pulled you to her bosom, the familiar scent of vanilla and sex on her body bringing immense comfort to you. You held her tightly, relishing in the peace of the moment. Then you remembered something.

“I have to go home today. Should I cancel or still go?” you asked her.

She held you at arm’s length, wiped off the lone tear on your right cheek, and said, “Baby, you know that whoever is sending these messages knows about the nature of our relationship? If you tell your parents that you are not coming back, what reason will you give them?”

“Maybe I can tell them about the messages,” you replied.

“You know how they feel about us and our love. And those messages have biblical references; they might tell you that it’s God’s way of showing you that your life is not what He wants,” Judy answered, her jaw set in anger. She was probably recalling the horrible encounter she had with your mother few months ago.

“They are my parents, they cannot be that mean!”

At last she agreed and you dialed your mother. After telling her about the messages, she asked you to forward them to her. She also told you to return home before 12pm.


When you stepped into your father’s compound, everywhere was quiet; the normal sounds of your siblings shouting as they played were absent. They were all in their different schools. It was the current industrial action by the lecturers that made you return home. You also hoped that your mother would not be around as you wanted to settle in first before seeing her. With how high-strung your nerves were, you knew that as little as breathing too hard could cause a row between you and her.

You unlatched the bolt of the rusted and rickety gate and stepped into the compound. You were walking towards the main house when you saw your mother come out of the back of the house. She wiped her wet hands on her wrapper, rushed to you, and enveloped you in a cuddly hug. Without intending to, you hugged her back, relishing the moment wishing that time would stop. That was when you remembered that the last time you hugged your mother was four years ago, before you went to the university, before…

“Welcome, my dear,” she finally said, taking your handbag from you as you pulled your travelling box to a corner. You would take care of that later. “How was your journey?” she asked.

“It was fine, mama. I was so scared that something might happen on the way,” you replied. Suddenly you felt a strong urge to collapse into her arms and tell her about all your fears, but you held yourself; this truce between two of you was tentative and any wrong movement could spoil it.

She felt your body shake with pent-up emotions and she gently led you into the house, into the living room. She gently pushed you into a chair, the most comfortable one. “Sit down first. Let me go and bring your food. We will discuss this after you’re done eating.” Then she dashed off. Three minutes later she was back with a plate of beans and plantain, your favourite, and a chilled can of water. She placed the food before you and sat on the chair next to yours.

You ate the food slowly and for fifteen minutes; all the while she was there looking at you and not saying a word. When you were done, you wanted to clear the table but she told you to rest and cleared it herself. While she was in the kitchen, your phone rang. It was Charles, your male best friend.

“Hey Charles,” you said, happy that he called.

“Hey Sugar. How are you doing?” He sounded tired. He was probably still at work but he brought out time for you. That was Charles, always there for you. If you could date any man, it would certainly be him. But you couldn’t, that choice was impossible to make.

“Judy told me about the messages. Where are you now?” he asked without waiting for you to answer the first one.

“I’m fine, Charles. I’m at home now, I’m safe,” you answered.

He sighed and informed you that he would call you later. Then he hung up. You sat back on the chair, wondering why your mother was not back yet. You wanted to go and look for her, but your whole body felt like it was not yours; it was as if a heavy object was placed on you and you felt the weight most on your eyelids—they became too heavy to hold open. The last thing you saw before dozing off was your mother coming into the room, with a devilish smirk on her face.

You woke up on your own bed. You wanted to stretch but couldn’t. As you opened your eyes, you saw that you were tied to the four corners of the bed. You mother sat on a stool at the foot of the bed with a murderous look in her eyes.

“M–mom, what are you doing?” you asked, fear gripping you.

“What does it look like, you harlot?”

The insult did not get to you anymore, not after she’d called you worse names. What made you sad was that she had lured you into a false sense of security before—

“Wait a minute,” you said, “were you the one who sent me those messages?”

She smiled. “My poems are getting better, right?”

Your shock was what kept you from fainting. How could your mother want you dead? Yes you’ve had series of altercations with her ever since you told her and your father that you were a lesbian, but you seriously thought that she had accepted that fact.

“Why, mom?” You did not want to cry, but the terrible unfairness of it all made you cry torrents of tears.

“You are Sodom’s child, Chizoba. God has commanded me to cleanse you,” she said. Then she left the room. As you stared at the empty space where she sat, you wondered why she couldn’t understand that you were created the way you were by the same God she used as a tool of dishing out hate. Your father who was a pastor had partially understood your choice of partner, but your mother had refused to understand you at all. She had served you with hate numerous times that you’d gotten used to seeing her as an enemy. Now she had taken her hatred to the next level.

She came back, holding a piece of metal, with its head red-hot. She stood between your legs, looking into your eyes with hate. Was she really your mother? you wondered. “I told you that you would die today, and you will. You will die in the most painful way possible. It’s time to purge the world of sinners like you.”

Then she drove the piece of metal into you. As it touched you, your whole body split into two. You thrashed about, pain exploding in different areas of your body. The pain seemed to travel throughout your body while also concentrating on your private part. You prayed to God to take your life, as you called for your father, your lover and Charles your best friend. But no one came. You wanted to beg your mother to stop the pain but you could not open your mouth, the pain was just unbearable.

She just stood there, looking nonplussed. Her eyes were closed as if she was praying. Your vision got blurry and you knew that she was right—you would die today.

You tried to fight the cloud of darkness that was rushing at you while fighting the pain. But it was as if the pain was holding you in place for the darkness to come and take you.

And take you the darkness did, while your mother watched. As your spirit left your body, she whispered, as if communicating with your spirit, “I’ll pray for your soul, my child. May God forgive you.”

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