It is Sheila who comes to your rescue yet again. Every time you see her car cruise up next to your hall and her petite body slink out, you feel a rush of warmth in your heart. Fate must have had a hand in it for you two to meet.
You walk up to her, casually ignoring the questioning and curious looks of some boys who reside in the halls adjacent to yours. They are peering through their windows and ogling at Sheila.
“Hi, K. I decided to come as soon as I got your call,” she says, getting into the car with you. “What’s the matter?”
You open up, finally. You tell her that your best friend has gone missing and you need to find her quick. The more you delay, the more the tension grows.
“Have you told the police? That’s serious!” Sheila admonishes, her face creasing in worry. She grabs her phone and begins dialing.
You dare not stop her. It’s so silly of you that you didn’t inform the police. But you know it’s the fear that gripped you when the doctor informed you.
After some few minutes, Sheila hangs up and turns to you with a hopeful look. “They are on it. Lucky for you, I have a friend up at the headquarters who is willing to help,” she says. “But you really need to be careful, K. It’s an unforgiving jungle here in Nairobi. No one is ever safe.”
A gulp goes down your throat. Advice is what you need. The confusion has been eating at you all night.
“You know what, Sheila? That’s the problem. Someone knows what happened the night I took Chrissy to the hospital,” you say, wringing your hands nervously. “The VC even talked about it yesterday. Ooh, it was so embarrassing.”
Sheila frowns. “It could be anyone. You weren’t alone in that club. There must have been someone checking you out,” she says.
A deep sigh leaves your mouth as you rest your head in your palms.
SNITCHES! You hate them as much as you hate being in a hospital. Even more, perhaps. You try coming up with options but you barely know anyone in the university.
“Wait! There’s this old man!” You exclaim, shaking Sheila’s shoulders.
“Which old man?”
“The one who met with Chrissy at the club. Probably 80 years old or something,” you say. “He’s the one who drove us to the hospital. Okay, his chauffeur drove us. But he was there.”
A look of intent crosses Sheila’s face and she turns the key in the ignition. “Let’s find this old man. I think I know who he is,” she says.
“You do?” You are taken aback. “How? I presume there are very old men in Nairobi. No way you can identify the one I’m talking about.”
Sheila smiles wryly. “There’s only one old man who hangs out in nightclubs and preys on little girls. His name is Luke,” she says, her eyes focused on the road. “Trust me, K, that piece of dirt tried his tactics on my own daughter.”
At that moment, you understand the reason behind Sheila’s immense concern. You are both victims of a creepy octogenarian sugar daddy.
“Your daughter?” You probe in a bid to know more about Sheila’s past and present. She hasn’t told you yet about her family life so it wouldn’t hurt to know.
“Yes. I have a daughter. Paula.”
You notice the strain in her voice and you decide that you need not probe further. The task at hand is to get to Luke.
Sheila takes a turn into a gas station to refill and then excuses herself to a washroom within the cafe. You decide to wait inside and collect your thoughts.
Could Luke have snitched you and Chrissy? Why would he do that? The old man couldn’t even change his diapers without help.
Suddenly, you hear the vibration of a phone followed by Anne-Marie’s swoony voice as a ringtone.
When did it get so heavy? This love that’s in between us…
You rummage through your bag and get your phone but it is on silent mode and not ringing.
The vibration seems to be coming from the cup holder on Sheila’s side. It’s her phone. She’s left it.
You choose to ignore the first few rings and rather enjoy Anne-Marie’s lusty voice. Then a primal voice in your mind tells you to peep. It grows so loud and nagging that you don’t realize that your hand has already reached for the phone.
The caller-ID reads LUKE. You get a very sickening gut feeling. Could this be the same Luke that you are hunting?
You immediately chuck the phone under your seat and look up guiltily at the gas station attendant tapping at the window. He is asking for pay.
“She’s just on her way back,” you tell him and smile sheepishly. You are pretty sure he has seen you hiding the phone. He shrugs and walks away.
Sheila’s phone stops ringing. Her notifications bar drops down and you see the long list of endless missed calls she has received from this creep.
You look up instinctively and see her walking towards the car. You return the phone and fold your arms, sit back casually. Maybe it’s not the most casual you can look, but it pays off since Sheila doesn’t read into it.
If Luke has been calling her incessantly, she definitely knows him. And it could help you a lot to know what Luke is up to.
So you wear your Sherlock Holmes glasses and buckle up.
“Sheila, what did Luke do to Paula?”
It’s a touchy question, but you can’t bear to know the heartache she is suffering.
Sheila sighs and her shoulders drop. “He’s a monster, K. That’s all I can tell you,” she whimpers.
“A monster? Is he…dangerous?”
Sheila does not reply. She is mute. Her eyes fixed frontwards.
“Come on Sheila! Tell me! Is my friend safe? Maybe he has her!”
Like a broken fuse, you come undone and start panicking. What kind of inglorious bastard are you dealing with? Is he some sort of serial kidnapper?
Sheila is not speaking. The tears that roll down her cheeks are doing a lot of talking. Her car makes a turn to the left and into a dirt road. There are no road marks indicating where you are going, but there is a large dark forest flanking the rugged road.
“I CAN’T!! I JUST CAN’T!!”
Her voice comes out in bits of anger, frustration, and worry. Like a broken record, she can’t seem to speak clearly without heaving.
The car begins to swerve on the road and you realize Sheila is disturbed. You just opened a can of worms.
“Why can’t you? I…I…need you to tell me,” you plead amid tears. “I know he did something bad to Paula. Something you can’t forgive him for. And something that keeps on haunting you.”
The car slows down a notch as Sheila turns her attention to you. “It’s worse than you think it is, K. I’m just so sorry for what is going to happen next,” she says.
The car slows down and Sheila cuts the engine off. She turns to you and you can see the tears clouding her warm brown eyes. Her hands are quick as she fumbles underneath her seat for some sort of clothing.
Your mind shouts “Get the heck out!” but your feet are numb, transfixed.
You immediately feel the damp clothe cup your nose and a feeling of relaxation sweeps down your arms and legs. You want to fight off the weird sensation flowing through you, Sheila’s hands holding you down, pinning you on the chair like a tack.
And apparently, those are the last words you hear as you plunge into total darkness.