Don't read this exhilarating episode of THE STONE, it might kill you and don't also bother reading the previous chapters too.
After five hours and thirty minutes of being in the air and watching a boring movie, sleeping in between and waking up to another boring movie with continuous cycles of more boring movies. I was only too glad when we eventually landed at the Bole international airport, Addis Ababa. It was a splendid airport to say the least.
The next available flight to Aksum was on the next day so when we were through with customs, we met with our contact who was waiting at the airport. He was partly Romanian and partly Ethiopian. To say the truth, I didn’t trust him. He had these big eyes that looked like they were always looking for the next thing to look for. He then extended his hand and said my name is Fuka Rohio.
That, my friends is the weirdest name I had ever heard, I kept on thinking of what his parents were thinking when they gave him that name on the way to our hotel room that Fuka had arranged for us.
The hotel was called the Rotunda; about five minutes drive away from the airport. Fuka Rohio had got us one room and I wondered why. It was not like it was a bad idea for us to sleep in the same room. Still I wanted to raise a complaint to make It seem like I detested the idea, but before I could say anything, Charon was all over Fuka and I have to calm her down and say.
“It was okay and that we would be fine, since we needed to keep a low profile, we shouldn’t get another room. To make her more comfortable I said I would sleep on the couch and obviously Fuka was not sleeping with us”.
That was when Fuka interrupted and said “He thought that we were a couple” in a cryptic English that was almost unintelligible and funny at the same time.
Charon and I both locked eyes with expressions of disbelief and burst into laughter.
We headed for room number 10; Charon was in front with the key to the room and I was behind with my bag while Fuka was behind me with Charon’s bag s. Charon open the door and stepped in, I stepped in behind her and Fuka was last. As soon Charon put on the light, it became apparent that we were not the only people in the room.
Before I realised what colour the room was, Fuka has closed the room behind us and there was an evil grin about his face. There was a stern looking man holding an Ak47 looking right at me with two other men also with Ak47.
To tell you the truth, I am so scared of guns that I could pee in my pants if I saw a toy gun pointed at me and these guys were not pointing toy guns, these were real. It took all the restrain I could muster to not pee in my pants.
That was why it was the most astonishing thing to see Charon walk up to the gunmen and ask,
“What is the meaning of this nonsense?”
I held my breath for the response before I heard Fuka in his cryptic voice saying.
“Leave them; they don’t know what they are into”.
I certainly didn’t know what we were into, but at that moment, I didn’t care, all I wanted to do was get out [escape].
But it didn’t seem possible until I saw the open window which must have been the way through which the gunmen came in, I glanced up back at Charon and then back at the window quickly, to make her know that I had found the means of escape.
The gunmen were having a good laugh after one of them hit Charon and made her know what she was into. She looked at me and I shouted “NOW!” I made a run for the window. In all the hassle to the window I didn’t know how I had dispossessed the first gunman of his gun then used the butt of the gun to hit the second gunman and made a show of my dribbling skills at the third gunman.
All this while, Charon was behind me and Fuka was shouting “GET THEM! GET THEM! GET THEM!
But it was too late because we were already in the streets and running for our lives or what was left of it because the escape had ridden me of half my life and the way my heart was beating, it was like it was going to split.
I didn’t realise I still had the gun until people started looking at me with strange faces. I immediately did away with it and we ran into a street that seemed deserted.
I told Charon, I was going back to Nigeria.
Her reply was more like the bark of a dog than the voice of a human as she said “No way”.
“Alright”, I said. “You stay here, our luggage is back at the hotel with those AK47 men and it is obvious that our lives are at risk”.
I continued, “I would rather be in Nigeria thinking of how ironic the Nigerian government is than be here with you”.
I said this as I stopped a cab and told him “Airport”.
A sign of defeat appeared on her face as she finally said, “Okay let’s go”.
When we got to the airport, there was no flight for Nigeria that day and the next available flight was in two days. The reality of the situation suddenly dawned on us like daybreak. So we won’t be able to leave till two days time from now, I had little cash on me and I was confused. I decided I was going to call an old friend, I reached into my pocket but it was empty. Where was my phone?
I couldn’t find it! Shit! , it must had fallen when we were been chased by those men [AK47].
How could I have let that happen? I thought to myself.
“Well”, Charon said, “we better get out of here and get to the nearest cybercafé; at least we could contact ASN from there”.
We asked around for a cybercafé, it was then we met Gbenga. He was tall and slender with the air of someone that has been running a marathon race all his life. He had on a black shirt, black cap and yellow trousers, he was standing in the front of the cybercafé and I immediately recognised the Nigerian accent with the slow emphatic pronunciations of words.
He was most likely Yoruba I imagined due to the Yoruba melodious ting to his voice.
“Hi”, I said
He turned and replied, “Hi”, as he looked at me from head to toe trying to make out who I was, he looked a bit sceptical then he saw Charon and a smile flashed.
“Are you Nigerian?” I asked a bit cautiously. It was then a broad smile appeared on his face.
Thirty minutes later, we were in the cybercafé and he had been talking about how Ethiopia was, how it was when he first got here, how he wanted to leave Nigeria by any means possible to Europe and how he had gotten into Ethiopia by fate or luck; depending on how we looked at it.
He was stranded in the desert on his way to Europe and saved by a Good Samaritan and woke up in Ethiopia. He started from scratch and then made a name for himself by dealing in leather and he slowly but steadily became quite successful. He was happy to see us.
Since James trusted us with his story, we decided to trust him with ours too. We didn’t talk about the philosopher’s stone, we told him about the AK47 men and he immediately felt so sympathetic. It was then he asked if we had gone to the police.
We had been too confused to think about filing a report; it became obvious that the police could help us. Although I was still a bit scared and so was Charon that the men did not seem like people that would be deterred by the police.
Gbenga, notwithstanding took us to the police to file a report. We then went with the police to the hotel.
Charon and I were way behind while the police men were in front as they opened the door of the room.
It was totally empty; there was not a soul to be found in the room and the same with our luggage, it wasn’t there anymore.
The police men immediately started combing the room for evidence.
It was then I heard a faint sound that seemed familiar, it was my ring tone, it was coming from the window. The phone was stuck between the slits of the window.
Few minutes later, the phone was out of the slits. It was a nameless number calling. I picked the call and the following conversation ensured:
Man: Hello! Please is this Mr Adolf?
Me: Yes! Who am I speaking with?
Man: We met at Centrino oil’s this morning.
Man: From the Archaeological Society of Nigeria
Me: Are you the tall or short one?
Man: what? Oh! I am the short one [he laughed]
Me: we got stranded . . .
After I was done telling him all that had happened,
He replied, “No wonder, I’ve been trying to get Charon, her number had not been going through”.
He felt very bad and knew that the mission had been compromised. From what it was. It seemed some gang had hijacked Fuka Rohio or more likely he was a member of an armed gang, if not the leader.
I asked him how they had contacted Fuka and he said “he didn’t know but they had been working with him for some time”.
It was all vague. It was then he told me that we would not be coming to Nigeria but we would stay there till the mission was completed.
He said; he would send tools, money and someone for protection.
Then he said “Be safe” as I dropped the call.
I conveyed what he had just told me to Charon and her face immediately started forming into a smile [she lighted up]. She was happy we were staying back.
That night, we slept at Gbenga’s place and he had just one room to spare, so we slept in the same room. Before we slept, we talked at length and she laughed a lot.
I remember we played the Yo mama game.
I could remember saying “Yo mama so old she has Jesus’ beeper number!”
And she replied, “yo mama so ugly when she walks into a bank, they turn off the surveillance cameras”.
We continued for a while then I slept off.
<<TO BE CONTINUED>>
Edited by Osoata Vanessa
Akperi Omasan is an aspiring Nigerian Writer from Delta State. You can follow him on instagram @omasangeomas