“Probed” is 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!
I request your forgiveness dear readers, for it was not deliberate, this delay of the blog post. I have found myself in a location with electricity issues, so my laptop has been off for the past two days, even though the story was ready. I manged to get it charged, so i feel really happy. i tried to make sure it is as lengthy as i could manage. I hope you enjoy it… i love you all so very much.
Muyiwa stared hard at the last page of his exam script. This was too long to be a question. What was Miss N. thinking? When he started to read it though, he realized that his hunch was right.
Obeying every instruction to the letter is the key to getting out of here safely.
You have to believe me and do as I say, if not we’re all dead. I can’t explain why, but I want to get you all out of here… far from this facility and my father. But to do so means I have to deactivate the bug first. Once I shut the bug down you’ll feel it, and after that we can’t afford to waste any time. We have to get out of here with every means possible, which means we take down anyone who tries to stop us… no matter who it is.
Yes. Even my Dad.
I’ll fill Abiye in on the rest of the details… that is, if you agree to let me help you.
She had seen they were all done with the last page by then. They came over to drop their sheets and returned back to their seats, all averting her gaze, even Abiye. Class time wasn’t over yet. Ndidi sighed inwardly and stared hard at them. Did she expect them to just believe her words and agree right away?
“All in favor raise your hand.”
She scanned the classroom. No hands were raised. She shook her head sympathetically before she rose to her feet.
“Whether you agree or not, you all stand to face the same fate of being debugged.” She said in a cold, expressionless voice they never knew she had the capacity to use. “Did you really think you’d be effectively controlled if you were allowed to reason at your own accord? Sooner or later you would rebel. They’d wipe your minds from the start so they don’t have to deal with that possibility later.”
The children’s eyes widened. It was so simple, how come they never realized it?
“All I’m saying, is you have nothing to lose.”
As she was about to stroll out of the classroom she felt a hand grip her arm. She spun around and saw Mustapha right behind her. It was unlike him to use super speed outside the lab. He let go immediately he had gotten her attention.
“Abiye is staying over because you have to rerun his tests… right?”
Her eyes widened in understanding. “Yes… the rest of you can leave.”
The others trudged out with Mustapha in front, none of them looking at her. This time though, she knew she had their approval.
Only Abiye remained in his seat. She locked eyes with him and motioned for him to come over to her desk as she walked back to it. He grabbed a chair and put it in front of her seat while she put a paper in front of him like she was giving him another test. They weren’t scrutinized by the CCTV, but anyone could walk in so she didn’t want to take chances. He understood this as he took a pen and started to scribble nonsense on the paper.
“You look terrible.” She said, resisting the urge to put a hand on his. She had this fear he might shrug it off. He looked up at her and pressed his lips in a thin line.
“Have they been doing anything to you?”
“I’ve been depressed.” It was Ndidi’s turn to press her lips together.
“You could have at least told me you were leaving.” His said in a low angry voice, his hand unconsciously balling into a fist. “I didn’t know what hit me harder, the confusion you left me in or the discord you caused between me and my siblings.”
Ndidi’s hand trembled and she raised it to his face. All his anger melted away as their skin made contact. She gave him a reassuring smile.
“When this is over we’ll go far away… you, me, and your siblings.” She said softly. “We’ll change identities. We’ll be toge—”
Ndidi was cut short as Abiye leaned in to kiss her. Her eyes widened in surprised. He was also shocked and impressed by his sudden courage. He was tempted to ask why she had taken a liking to him, but he held back. Now was not the time for questions. There was going to be a lot of time for that when they got out. That was why everything had to go according to plan.
“So… let’s hear it.” he said, with a wide grin on his face. It had been quite a while since he smiled like that so his cheeks hurt. He didn’t mind though.
“Hear what?” Ndidi said, sharply withdrawing her hand from her lips. Abiye let out a chuckle and gestured to her desk with his head. Her eyes lit up in realization.
“Oh… okay then, let’s get to it.”
The kids have never looked forward to any annual inspection like they did this one. Their hearts pounded in their chest in anticipation, and their stomachs churned as the day drew near. On the day of the inspection Ndidi looked them over as they lined up in front of her. She turned to the scrutinizing team leads behind her and turned to the one in charge of Abiye.
“He wasn’t like this when I left.”
The team lead fidgeted before letting his shoulder slump in defeat. “He just started to deteriorate all of a sudden, and he hadn’t recovered ever since.”
Ndidi narrowed her eyes at Abiye and dismissed him with the wave of a hand.
“My father can’t see him like this, especially since he was the subject I was in charge of. I refuse to be discredited by him.” She said coldly. “We’re going to have to dispose him.”
The children’s eyes widened in shock, but they tried hard not to show their reaction for fear of punishment. The scientists grudgingly agreed, but the scientist in charge of Abiye could not let go of his subject that easily.
“But Miss N… Number One has been showing great promise. Maybe if we could put him in remission until the next inspec—”
“You know my father has no tolerance for recycled objects.” Ndidi snapped, cutting the team lead short. “If he fails now, he’ll fail later on. So forget it.”
Richard stomach seemed to sink deeper as they moved closer to Cameroon, though he tried not to show it. Mr. Johnson had insisted that he sat in the back seat with him, so he had to try harder to hide his nervousness. The smaller car with his security men drove a few meters away, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
The lawyer wasn’t a fan of certain genres. If he was forced to use his imagination to come to terms with a concept outside reality, then he wasn’t going to go through with it. So when the car stopped at the Rumpi Hills about 80 kilometers north of Mount Cameroon and a stone in front of one of the hills moved aside to reveal an entrance at the touch of a button from Mr. Johnson’s car, he didn’t know how to react. He stared at the dark tunnel and swallowed loudly as the car drove in. As they drove in through the darkness Mr. Johnson laughed. He loved the effect the concealed entrance had on his lawyer. He slapped the young man’s back and laughed harder.
“I thought these things only exist in science fiction movies.” Richard said hastily. The billionaire shook his head. He had spent a lot making science fiction a reality.
“Save your breath young man. You haven’t seen anything yet.”
“Mr. J is here!”
Ndidi whipped around to see her father walking through the door of the lab with a very mystified Mr. Richard. He just kept looking around him in amazement, and he couldn’t seem to close his mouth. Ndidi stifled a laugh and nodded at her father curtly.
“Hello Father. Hello Mr. R.” she greeted.
Richard caught on quick. “Good to be here, Miss N.”
Ndidi fought the impulse to shake her head. She knew he was passing a message underneath the calm, cool voice. He was anything but glad to be in the underground facility.
“I must say dad… it’s quite amusing to see Mr. R out of his usual graceful state.” Ndidi said with a small chuckle. Her father laughed loudly and slapped Richard’s back, making him wince.
“Father there has been a slight malfunction with one of the subjects… so we’re going to discard him.” She said with a smile. “Please look over the others in good condition while we get go through with the disposal process.”
“Where is he? And what’s wrong with him?”
The team lead shoved Abiye forward, and he did his best to look as pitiful as possible. It was all part of the plan. He had to keep spiraling downward until there was no way they would keep him. Mr. Johnson gave him a once over and dismissed him with the wave of a hand, no further questions asked. The subjects knew the man very well. He didn’t take to even the slightest flaw, so they made sure they did their best so they don’t get crossed off the list. As he spared no naira on his research, he didn’t see why there should be errors.
“You don’t have to come with me Miss N.” The team lead in charge of Abiye said, placing a hand on the seemingly frail subject. “Stay with Mr. J for the demonstration.”
Ndidi shook her head and walked up to the man, speaking to him in a low voice. “Do you think I believe you’ll dispose the subject truly? Or should I mention to my father that you opposed my instructions?”
The man’s eyes widened and he shook his head furiously. Ndidi flashed him a fake smile before turning to her father. “I’ve never seen the disposal process before. I’d like to go observe, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all. Take your time.”
With that Ndidi departed with the team lead while Richard and Mr. Johnson watched the each subject demonstrate their abilities.
Richard looked at the children being turned into weapons dressed in all black sleeveless bodysuits like in the movies. Seeing them in person felt like someone literally put a knife into him— the pain was that intense. Images filled his head as he began to see a clear illustration of what Ndidi had tried to describe to him about the facility. These children didn’t deserve such suffering. Their facial expressions showed that they had accepted their fate, and within him he wept for them. He made sure not to show his displeasure on the outside though; that would be a dangerous move.
The first subject moved forward. He was a little above average and lean muscled. He looked like he was barely passed his teens. They looked at the sheet in their hands. The data next to the boy’s picture listed that he was twenty one, and had the ability to lift forty times his weight (which turned out to be more than he looked like he weighed), a resistance to bullets and bombs, and invulnerability to the effects of narcotics.
As he pondered on the issue, the boy picked up a huge piece of heavy machinery at the corner of the room with one hand and lazily balanced it on his shoulder. Richard’s mouth dropped. Mr. Johnson noticed and laughed hard.
Next he was injected with cocaine and heroin one after the other. The subject didn’t even flinch. Mr. Johnson was impressed. Next he was shot in the head with a gun. The bullet lay flat on the ground in front of him— didn’t even leave a scratch. Richard broke into a cold sweat.
“They’ll become mindless robots… killing machines that would pose a national—no global— threat!”
This was worse than Ndidi described. Maybe he should have read the file she offered him; maybe it would have prepared him. But then again, he wouldn’t have believed its contents without seeing this demonstration.
The next subject was a young girl with light skin and cropped hair. She stood in front of the men with a butcher’s knife in hand. Her data read that she was designed with the ability to heal and repair herself of injuries, as well as attract men and gain control over any of them she slept with. She was pretty no doubt, but after reading she didn’t seem as attractive as when he first walked in. He wondered if she had to rely on her looks alone. Richard jumped off his seat as she dealt a heavy blow on her arm, cutting through flesh and bone. Her arm fell to the ground lifelessly. Richard couldn’t sit back down. He glued his eyes to her as she picked up the severed arm and pressed it to the open wound like she was trying to fix it back in place. In less than a minute she let go, and the arm was back in place like nothing had happened! Richard shook his head furiously. He had to be dreaming.
“The head is still vulnerable when chopped?”
“Yes Sir… all other parts of her body repairs when dismembered and put together.” The team lead in charge of her explained. “But the most we’ve risked to test was a deep slice through the neck— much deeper than a throat slit. We can’t afford the risk of cutting cleanly through, in case of no recovery.”
Mr. Johnson nodded in understanding.
The third subject was a tall teenager with a frightening demeanor. He was designed to run super fast. Infact, he destroyed the treadmill in the process of it trying to catch up with his speed. The fourth was a preteen with thick hair. Her hair wasn’t cropped to hide her massive scar tissue that ran along the back of her head when her head was first worked on. She was a super computer with a photographic memory. She solved complex equations in less than a minute and rewrote every single piece of a document she saw at a glance. It was when the last subject (a little boy that looked like he was barely ten) started to change into different wild animals that Richard passed out. He thought he had the stomach for weird things, but he had been proved differently. He woke up in the car with two of Mr. Johnson’s bodyguards in the car with him. As he struggled to sit up one of the guards turned to give him a look. He stared at the inconspicuous entrance and silently wondered what Ndidi was up to.
The three figures moved silently through the corridors to the far end of the facility. The process of disposing a subject required removal of the implanted bug before an immediate shutdown with the use of a computer shortcut before the subject can recuperate from the effect of the bug deactivation. Ndidi had never been seen it before so she engaged the team lead in a discussion on how it is done before the practical demonstration. When they got into the control room the team leader strapped Abiye into the recipient chair before heading to the main PC. Abiye tried not to make it obvious that he was watching Ndidi. Her resolve was clear in her eyes, and it was beautiful to watch.
The leader worked quickly. He opened the interface, taking his time to go over all he explained to Ndidi on their way there with a practical illustration. The deactivation section brought out the faces of the six remaining subjects on the screen. Before he could select Abiye a sharp metal was passed through his neck. He dropped onto the floor and Ndidi jumped back. This was the first time she’d take a life. She didn’t expect that she’d do it fast… and cleanly too.
She turned to look at Abiye, who urged her on anxiously. “Hurry Ndidi!”
She turned to the PC and clicked on each subject as fast as she could. It was then Abiye let out an ear piercing scream.
Mr. Johnson gripped his chair as the subjects all let out a loud scream before falling to their knees. The scientists exchanged confused glances. There was no reason why this should happen.
As the children got to their feet they began to stand on their feet the scientists started to shrink away. Mr. Johnson looked at them in fear, perplexed and angry at the lack of understanding of the situation. He turned to the scientists for an explanation, but they didn’t respond.
The children started to form a horizontal line, staring at each other like a veil had been lifted. They turned to the scientists that had subdued them for so long. Is this what freedom really felt like? They were snapped out of their reverie when Mr. Johnson’s gruff voice called for his other bodyguards waiting outside. That was when they realized… their freedom wasn’t complete without the execution of their plan.
So when three bodyguards rushed in, they knew they had no time to waste.
“Mustapha grab the girls!” Muyiwa yelled, going straight for the bodyguards, breaking necks and ripping out limbs mercilessly. Mustapha hesitated. He was skeptical about Number Six shedding blood, and he had mentioned it before, so they understood his brief hesitation.
“Mustapha you’re in the best position to get these girls out of here, and I’m more equipped to deal with these people… so go! There’s no time!” Number Six yelled before changing into a tiger and lunging for a team lead reaching out for a weapon. Mustapha was startled at his younger sibling’s response, but complied immediately. He grabbed the girls by the waist and sped off in the direction Abiye and Ndidi took while Abiye switched from one lethal creature to the other as he finished off the scientists.
Abiye, who had been released by Ndidi waited till Muyiwa came to give them word that the coast was clear. They all gathered around Number Six, who had turned into a python and wrapped his slippery body around the billionaire. The man’s eyes widened as he saw his daughter in their midst.
“Ndidi!!! But why?!”
Ndidi rolled her eyes. “This… this is evil dad. And I’m shutting it down.”
“And you have so please…don’t kill me. I’ll do whatever you want… I’ll give you whatever.” He said, his eyes pleading.
“Wire ten million dollars to the facility’s funds now… you made me signatory to it after all.”
“Ehn?! Ten million?! For wha—”
He was interrupted by the tightening of the snake around his middle.
“Okay I’ll do it… just let me have my phone so I can call the accountant.”
Number Six turned to Ndidi and she gave a consenting nod. With that he loosened his grip just enough for the man to reach into his pocket and bring out his hotline that never left his pocket. The man sighed and punched a few numbers on the phone, but didn’t lift it to his ear.
Immediately the room began to flash a bright red and the ground began to shake.
“Yes I set the set destruct code for the facility. You think I don’t know you’ll still kill me after you get the money? You know I’ll come after you if you don’t… you’re not stupid, and neither am I. You’ll only get my money over my dead body. We’ll die together here today.”
The group immediately fell into a state of panic, but Abiye was the first one to snap out of it.
“Mustapha, get the girls out of here through the door. Number six… could you turn into something strong enough to bear Muyiwa’s weight?”
“I’m on it.” he said, turning into a horse and letting Muyiwa mount him quickly.
“Ndidi and I are right behind you.”
This facility will self destruct in sixty seconds. Countdown begins in…
Abiye turned to them. “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!”
They moved through the door immediately while Abiye and Ndidi exchanged mournful looks.
“We’ll never make it in time, will we?” Ndidi asked with a sigh.
“I doubt it. After I was able to form 3D shapes the scientists started to work on my upgrade of making me bombproof, but we never got to test it because my depression at the time put a halt to all my experiments. I guess it’s worth the gamble” Abiye said, sounding a bit hopeful.
“At least the others are safe.” She said hurriedly. “But what about him?”
They turned to her father who was shaking terribly. His eyes spied a gun still in attached to a ripped limb of a bodyguard and he grabbed it and pointed it at them. But they could react he put it into his mouth and pulled the trigger.
30… 29… 28…
“Let’s make a run for it!”
10… 9… 8…
Abiye stretched his body into a ball around Ndidi, hoping that the experiments were successful after all. But as the heat seared through him he felt a stabbing pain because he couldn’t protect the lady he loved.
Richard was scared. When the bodyguards were summoned in by Mr. Johnson he feared the worst. He sat there for almost an hour imagining what was going on within the lab, but he was too much of a coward to check things out for himself. Just then, the doors slid open and a swift flash brought in the presence of the tall boy holding the two girls by the waist. A shiver ran through him. There was no way Mr. Johnson would have let them go. It could only mean…
His thoughts were interrupted as doors slid open again and the powerful boy came out riding a really strong looking horse. Another shiver ran through him again. The young man dismounted and the horse became the little boy. The five children gathered by the side of the car and he began to tremble, trying hard to ensure they do not notice him. He knew the bulletproof car he was in wasn’t enough security from these children, especially the oldest one with super strength. If the fate he imagined for Mr. Johnson was close to real, then he wasn’t far from death. He did escort the billionaire after all.
The children didn’t seem to take notice of him though; they just stood there and stared hopefully at the sliding doors. He looked on too, trying hard not to draw attention to himself. He was pretty sure they were all thinking the same thing.
Where was Ndidi?
“They didn’t make it, did they?” The youngest boy asked quietly.
“There’s truthfully a one to one-millionth change of them surviving that.” The youngest girl said gloomily, her eyes tearing up as she spoke.
“But they… they didn’t deserve to die!” the older girl said, bursting into tears. The older boy held her close and let her cry on his shoulder.
“Let me go back! I’m sure I can bust them out of there!” the tall boy said, moving in a flash towards the exit. He tried all that he could, but he couldn’t pry the doors open. He sped back to them and looked at the others dejectedly.
“It wouldn’t budge.”
Richard felt a stabbing feeling in his chest, these children may have had their features altered one way or the other, but they still had their humanity intact. He was touched beyond explanation.
“I tried to open it as well, but the buttons in the car don’t work anymore.”
The children turned to look at Richard, who had finally stepped out of the car. He gave the children a nervous smile, hoping they wouldn’t kill him. It wouldn’t take them a second to do so, and since he was still in one piece after a minute of silence, he knew he had a shot at being spared. From the way they stared at him it didn’t come as a surprise to him that they had noticed him there all this while, but they had been too preoccupied by their grief to take any action.
Number Six stared at the trembling man and gave him a once over. He was the lawyer Miss N. had told them about, who had refused to help her assist them in their escape. She had found a way to get her father to bring him over, and had instructed the children not to harm him, but let him see how dangerous he could be so he would at least obey their whims out of fear. Their plan didn’t completely work since he had fainted before they took out the bodyguards and scientists, but that feat alone was enough assurance that they would not underestimated. But he didn’t know that, and he still decided to come out of what may have assumed to be protection just to tell them that he tried to get the doors to open.
“Could you kids… please tell me what happened in there?”
“We’re not sure, but it seems someone set off the self destruct button.” Muyiwa answered curtly.
The lawyer looked at the children gloomily.
“We have to get out of here.” he explained as fast as he could. “I’ll drive. You’d all have to manage at the back though, since the back seat is tinted. We’ll drive to town and get regular clothes for you all that wouldn’t draw attention. Then we’ll lodge into a hotel and we’ll drive out to Nigeria first thing tomorrow morning.”
“We’re… We’re… not in Nigeria?” Mustapha asked the lawyer quizzically.
“From the topography of the place we seem to be at the Rumpi Hills.” Aisha said, pensive. “Saw this in a picture book once. If I’m correct, then we’re in Cameroon.”
The lawyer nodded in agreement. “Where are you children really from?”
“Nigeria.” Nneka said meekly.
The lawyer shook his head in disbelief. “Would you tell me your names?”
The children looked at one another. They were free now. They didn’t need to pretend they didn’t remember their names at least. They turned to the lawyer and answered one after the other.
The four of them looked at Number Six, and he stared back. He didn’t have a name since he was brought into the facility as a baby. All he had to identify himself with were numbers. But with a sudden wave of determination he balled his hand into a fist and turned to the lawyer.
“Abiye. My name is Abiye.”