Thank you for checking out the very first chapter of the series “Probed.” It’s a science fiction concept with a Nigerian setting about five extraordinary children trying to live ordinary lives. Subsequent chapters will be released every Tuesday each week. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I love writing it!
Muyiwa opened his eyes slowly, still unaccustomed to being in a room flooded by sunlight. His palms pressed against the soft bed gingerly, like it would disappear at any time. He wasn’t used to soft objects. Sometimes the Ogunbades would come and check up on him in the mornings, only to find him curled up on the tiled floor with his clothes off. It was the only way he had slept for as long as he could remember. Maybe as a child he lived better; but he would never know.
He jumped out of bed and rushed to close the curtains, his body alert as soon as his feet touched the ground. He was too rested, a feeling that came with a sense of foreboding. Just six months ago he wouldn’t have dared to sleep for more than three hours. He didn’t know if he was better or worse than Mustapha who never sleeps. As his brother came to mind he stepped out of his room to the one right next to his, where the tall slender seventeen year old with chocolate brown skin and small eyes lay sprawled on the leather couch near the window, his eyes on the ceiling.
“You’re up.” He said with a chuckle, not taking his eyes off the ceiling as he spoke.
“Yeah… what have you been doing all night?” Muyiwa asked, sitting cross-legged on the bed.
“Music… video games… workouts.” Mustapha answered with a shrug, still not looking at his brother. Muyiwa let his eyes stray to the heavy dumbbell on the floor and reached over to lift it like it was nothing.
“Dude get off the bed before you break it with the combined weight. You’re heavy enough as it is.”
Muyiwa laughed and jumped off the bed with the dumbbell resting weightlessly on his shoulder. He didn’t look like a quarter of what he weighed— he wasn’t even thickset. Just then a light skinned girl with flawless skin and a very low haircut poked her head into the room and flashed them a smile.
“Mama you’re up.” Muyiwa said, flashing a smile. She stepped into the room and put her hands on her hips. Nneka (or mama, as the boys called her) had a lovely figure and an enchanted beauty to compliment her beautiful skin. She pointed her perfectly manicured nails at the boys.
“You guys are still here gisting… let mummy catch you.” She said, jerking her head towards the door. “It’s almost 10am and you guys aren’t close to ready yet.”
Mama was the only one that had grown accustomed to referring to the Ogunbades as parents. Mustapha still had his trust issues he was working on, and Muyiwa just couldn’t get over the awkward feeling that crept up whenever he tried to. He couldn’t speak for Aisha or Abiye though.
“Better get ready on time so you can eat breakfast before leaving. Mum expects us to be out of here before 10am.”
As she closed the door behind them the boys looked at each other.
“You better don’t wait for me.” Mustapha said with a smirk, before he was gone in a flash. All Muyiwa saw was the shut bathroom door. He trudged to his own room and tried to shower and dress up as quickly as possible. By the time he was downstairs Mustapha was halfway done with breakfast.
“You’re late for breakfast… as usual.” Aisha said briskly, her lips set in a thin line. Her dark skin made her big eyes more pronounced, and when she stared you down you’d ask yourself if she was really older than twelve. Muyiwa avoided eye contact with her as he opened his plate to eat his breakfast. Just then, a brown rat crawled up to his plate and audaciously tried to grab the piece of meat on his plate.
“Abiye stop that! Of all things… a rat?! While we’re eating!” Nneka shrieked.
“Na wa o.” A small squeaky voice said before the rat jumped off the table to the empty seat beside Aisha. It slowly changed into a small seven year old boy. He folded his arms and sulked.
“Didn’t you eat your own meat? Abiye!” Nneka scolded. “Abeg finish your spaghetti.”
Mustapha stifled a laugh and shook his head. Nneka would pamper the younger ones one time and then scold them the other, like a typical mum. Even though she was only eighteen, she was the closest they had to a mother figure. She had cared for their wounds, stood up for them and had taken beatings and many other forms of humiliation for their sake— and it had nothing to do with the fact that her body healed itself from any form of damage. Even Muyiwa who was a year older than she was gave her maximum respect.
Just then a tall, light skinned woman walked gracefully into the exquisite dining room with her hands on her hips and a playful smile tugging at the corner of her lips, dressed in loose gown adorned with more beads than her left wrist, carrying an air of authority that did not fail to indicate that she her role as the mother of the home. Her long weave was held up in a loose bun and her thin slanted eyes looked at the children, then the clock.
“Wow! You guys are actually ready on time.” she said, her smile widening. “I was expecting Muyiwa to just be heading downstairs right about now.”
Muyiwa scratched his head nervously while the others snickered.
“Please hurry up and head out. Fredrick will take you to see Richard.” Mrs. Ogunbade said with a small smile. “From the looks of things you’ll be starting school pretty soon.”
She narrowed her eyes at the kids. “What do you mean what? I thought we all agreed that you will learn to lead normal lives, which means taking on the responsibilities required of your age.”
“I’m not going to school.” Aisha said, narrowing her eyes impulsively. “My adaptive brain will definitely not go unnoticed. I can’t help my photographic memory, as well as my remarkable ability to analyze and solve complexities. I mean, I’d be showing off even when I’m not trying to show off.”
The lady pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Well… you have to talk to Richard about that.”
Aisha frowned as soon as soon as Mrs. Ogunbade walked out of the dining room. “I had plans to hibernate as soon as you got out. But I guess I’ll have to save that for later.”
Aisha could only sleep for exactly eight hours at a stretch each day at any time she pleases, a phenomenon she referred to as hibernation. She could never sleep for even a minute more or less than eight hours, and since she was usually unconscious till the eight hours has passed, she was the only one of them who had been exempted from the three hour sleep limit then.
“Common Aisha… please naa… come to school with us.” Abiye said in a whiny voice, tugging her hand. She withdrew her hand from his grip sharply, but she gave him a resigned look.
“We know you know how to talk your way out of stuff… even with dad.” Nneka said with a chuckle. “But seriously… the best way we can learn to fit in with the rest of the world is to actually relate with the rest of the world.”
Aisha let out a sigh and nodded slowly, and Abiye pumped his fist in excitement.
The kids filed out of the house silently to the black SUV waiting for them with Fredrick Oludotun, the Personal Assistant to their legal guardian seated in front. He was a dark, quiet natured man who had worked with the Ogunbades for many years. Even though he was about a decade younger than his boss, he had gained enough trust to be considered both a confidant and a friend. The young man gave the children a curt nod as they got into the car, but said nothing to them throughout the drive to Richard Ogunbade’s Chambers in Surulere.
Richard Ogunbade was the only child of his parents, born into a very affluent bloodline. He followed in his father’s footsteps, taking after his profession and living a very private life like he did. He never in his wildest dreams believed that his work and lifestyle would lead him to something as mind-blowing as the five children that stepped into his office that Saturday afternoon.
As soon as they walked in Abiye and Nneka rushed to give him a hug after they all greeted him. Muyiwa, Aisha and Mustapha kept their distance. Richard tried to mask his disappointment, but he knew he couldn’t expect them all to warm up to him at once; especially after all they had gone through. Abiye was still quite young and Nneka had the softest heart— it was easier for them to adjust. Muyiwa was evidently not as inexpressive as Mustapha and Aisha, but he was an extremely cautious person.
“How did you guys slee— oh sorry Mustapha.”
Mustapha actually cracked a ghost of a smile. “It’s fine.”
“What about if I asked how your night was? I think that term would suit everyone perfectly, though I hate using it.” Richard said, chuckling nervously. Muyiwa let out an awkward laugh that was obviously forced, and Mustapha gave an impassive shrug.
Fredrick cleared his throat a little loudly to disperse the awkward silence threatening to descend on them and drop a thick, large brown envelope.
“They’re all here sir.”
“Thank you Fredrick. Everyone take a seat please.”
Richard reached out into the envelope and brought out a bunch of certificates.
“A close friend of mine owns a very reputable school not far from home. I told him I adopted the children from Cameroon who had no credentials, so he agreed to backdate the missing ones on the condition that you complete the rest of your education in his school. They have a University at Mowe, and that is where Muyiwa would be attending. Getting an education is as essential as the need to interact with your peers, but I need a controlled environment where you can keep yourselves in check. I implore you guys to do your best.
“Thank you so much sir.” Muyiwa said in a low voice, unable to look at their guardian.
“We haven’t done anything to deserve this, but you took us in and helped us anyway.” Mustapha said, also unable to look at him. As a matter of fact, none of them could.
“We promise to do our best.” Nneka said quietly.
“We understand the need to be inconspicuous… and we’ll do our best to blend in.” Aisha said.
“God bless you.” Abiye finally said.
Richard smiled at them. His heart bled each time he thought about the life he had the opportunity to save them from, and he thanked God that there was no threat looming somewhere. They were all gone, charred with the remained of a horrific past. But the absence of past threats did not mean there should be an avenue to create new ones.
“No one can know about your abilities… you have to learn how to be subtle so you can avoid drawing attention to yourselves.” Richard warned.
The kids nodded in understanding. They didn’t need to be told. They knew what people were willing to do to have a hand on kids like them.
“I’ve made a list of school subjects for the senior students so you can tell what field you’ll gravitate towards, based on your strengths and interests. I also did something similar for Muyiwa, even though most of the research is just to help us help him narrow a suitable course of study.” Fredrick said, distributing sheets of paper from a manila folder. “I’m glad you all have had some sort of education in the past.”
Classes were the only time they took a break from all the tests and experiments.
Richard rested his chin on his linked fingers “You guys are going to be just fine… I can feel it.”