Chapter Twenty: Not to Salvage, but to Save

“Probed” is a science fiction concept with a Nigerian setting about five extraordinary children trying to live ordinary lives. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I love writing it!

Hey guys It’s been super long and i deserve to be kidnapped for taking quite a while to update but I’ve been burnt out! Between figuring out what i want for myself and working towards it, I was able to finish a novel I’ve been working on for years!

But of course, it’s probed you came to read. Please enjoy the TWENTIETH CHAPTEEERRR!!!! Hmmm… i wonder how many chapters are left to finish this story

 

CHAPTER TWENTY

Ronke trudged to her room gloomily, vaguely aware of the horrible lemon green wallpaper on the hotel room wall. She let her shoes fall off her fingers as soon as she caught sight of the bed. Maria was highly apologetic at how things had turned out, but Ronke didn’t want to hear it. All she wanted to do was go home. Maria had planned to spend the night with Bunmi, and all Ronke could do was give her a dirty look. They had come in Ronke’s car, since she had planned to lodge in a hotel since she knew they had left the school when they were just about to lock the gates. She had even offered to let Maria sleep in the room with her, but she knew deep within herself that it may not have happened unless the guy left her stranded. She was stupid to have believed her roommate. How could Maria do this to her when she knew she had a boyfriend? Even if it wasn’t Muyiwa they had met with, she would have walked out on them and checked in earlier than she would have preferred.

She crawled into fetal position and cried all night, unable to sleep. When it was about five in the morning she checked out and drove to school, not even bothering to check on Maria. She rushed to her room and took a long shower. Luckily for her she didn’t have classes until ten. As she looked in the mirror at her face she frowned. Her eczema was back. Somebody had probably used her soap again. She decided she would stick to only shower gels and put it in mind to get some along with more of her regular eczema drugs on her way back from class.

 

Muyiwa couldn’t wait for the weekend to come. He dreaded going out for classes with the fear that he might bump into Ronke. Even with the disappointment he longed to call her, wanting to believe her made up excuses. He missed her sorely. But even if she was right, he still couldn’t be with her. That had become his motivation for not making things work.

“Two days, 20 hours and 30 minutes to go.” He said to himself as he stepped out of his room. It was the day he had joint class with Ronke, and he didn’t know how he was going to cope. He and Michael walked into the auditorium with his head hung low.

“Guy see Ronke!” Michael said, shoving his roommate excitedly, but Muyiwa still kept his head hung low, pretending not to hear. Michael shoved him again.

“Guy see Ronke! But there’s no space next to her… eh ya.”

“Let’s go and find space before we have no place to sit.” Muyiwa said lowly, still not raising his head. Michael gave him a look, but said nothing until they were seated.

“Are you and Ronke having issues?”

Muyiwa ignored him. He wasn’t sure it was best to discuss the issue with Michael, especially because of the circumstances involved. So he kept mum.

“Na wa o.” Michael muttered angrily, making Muyiwa feel bad for ignoring him. They split up after class, with Muyiwa returning back to the room before Michael. When his roommate walked in and answered his greeting with a curt nod, he was sure he had hurt the guy’s feelings.

“I saw Ronke with a friend of hers when I went to hang out with Bunmi.” Muyiwa said out of the blue after a long moment of silence. Michael looked up from his phone.

“That Bunmi that is not in our school.”

“Yeah that one.”

“Okay.”

“A chick from our school was going to hook up with him that night we were out, and she promised to bring a friend.”

Michael’s eyes widened. “So you mean… Damn!”

Muyiwa nodded slowly while Michael sat up on his bed, looking at him with sympathy.

“She said the babe tricked her… told her to keep her company because she didn’t want to be alone with the guy.” Muyiwa said, letting out a disbelieving grunt. Michael didn’t answer at first. He just leaned forward with his hands clasped.

“It’s most likely that was what happened.”

Muyiwa gave his roommate a look, but Michael wasn’t fazed. “I mean, you know Ronke more than I do, but the little I know about her… the little I’ve seen… she’s not that type of girl mehn.”

“I thought so too.”

“Why don’t you give her the benefit of the doubt… just this once?”

“Why are you even defending her anyway?”

“Because she is too good to let go of just like that… and you know it.”

Muyiwa sighed. His resolve was weakening, and it had only been less than a day.

“I still think I need some space at least.”

“Not a bad idea… but don’t be apart for too long.” Michael warned. “If not it might as well be an actual breakup.”

“Right.” Muyiwa said with a nod, getting off from his bed. “I’ll be back soon.”

 

Ronke’s heart was beating hard in her chest. What did Muyiwa want to talk about?

“Yeah… switch blames. I’m out.”

Was he going to officially break up with her? Ronke’s mind glanced back to what she had found out about her father and his. If she told him now that they were having issues, he’d find it hard to believe her, that is if he’d have the patience to even listen.

He was waiting for her in his car by the university canteen. He had his hand on the wheel, and he gripped it tighter as soon as he caught sight of her. She swallowed loudly and got in.

“Hey.”

She didn’t know if she should just reply the greeting or just burst into a whirlwind of explanations, so she stuck to keeping mum.

“You know… I don’t get it.” Muyiwa was calm as he spoke, deathly calm. “I’ve got money… you’ve got money… so it can’t be that. Surely you can’t find attention in a possible fling, so what is it that you want that I don’t give you? Surely I’m not so terrible at—”

“Muyiwa why can’t you just believe me!” Ronke said, squeezing her eyes shut and holding her head on either side with her hands. “What have I done so wrong before now that you can’t give me the benefit of the doubt… just this once?”

The same question Michael had asked him before he stepped out. For a split second he felt they had discussed about the issue behind his back, before or after he told Michael he wasn’t sure. He let out a long sigh. His list of suspicions was piling up, and it wasn’t healthy.

“I just think we… I… need a break.” Muyiwa said, lowering his voice. “Please.”

“Are you… breaking up with me?” Ronke’s eyes were full of tears. Muyiwa’s eyes widened. He had never seen her cry before… not even for romantic movies like he thought all girls did.

“It’s just what it is Ronke… space.” Muyiwa said hurriedly. “I just need time to think. Please.”

Ronke got out of his car without another word and he sat there, holding himself back from calling her back to apologize for his decision. He picked up the coke can sitting on its stand and tried to drink what was left of it, his hands trembling as he brought it to his lips. He narrowed his eyes as soon as he was done and squeezed the can absentmindedly. When he looked down he had squeezed the can into small ball. He gnashed his teeth and took long deep breaths. It was taking all of him not to rip out the car door and tear off after her.

 

Tears rolled down Ronke’s eyes as she moved farther away from where Muyiwa was parked. She walked as fast as she could, but with hopes that he would run after her and apologize, but till she walked all the way to her room she got no restraint, not even a phone call. Did he really think that lowly of her? She didn’t want to believe it but it seemed like that.

 

The weekend came quickly after that talk with Ronke, and he was more than happy to find that mama was at home when he got in. The others were not back from school yet.

“Mama how come you’re home?” Muyiwa said with a laugh after she had jumped on him. “Where’s mummy?”

“I am sick.” Nneka said with a shrug. “So I got excused off school. And mummy travelled to see one of her friends… she just had a baby.”

“You can never get sick… it’s highly illogical.” Muyiwa said, giving her a look. “I mean, how could someone who heals herself and others fall sick?”

“I have menstrual pain.”

“You can’t have kids remember?” Muyiwa said, folding her arms. “You can’t have kids any more than you can have STDs.”

“Yeah… I’m designed to be the perfect prostitute… thanks for reminding me.” Nneka said with a frown, her tone heavily laced with sarcasm as she dismissed him with the wave of a hand. Muyiwa’s eyes widened in realization and he rushed to her side.

“I swear mama I didn’t mean any harm.”

“I know dear… but it hurts to remember.” She said quietly.

Muyiwa clenched his teeth and groaned inwardly. The atmosphere had been ruined, there was no way he could discuss anything at the moment. But he was aching to share what happened with someone, and it wasn’t something he wanted to do over the phone so he decided that he would put it off till he got home. Opening up to Mustapha meant he was rubbing salt on his wounds, so he decided to open up to just Nneka this time, even though he hadn’t done so in the past. Thinking about it now, he realized that he should have done that all the while. Nneka was a woman, and could explain to him how a woman feels, and probably how to let her down easy. But what was going on with Richard was only between them— not even Lillian knew about it. What would he have told her back then was his reason for breaking up with her?

“Let’s talk about something better. How’s school? And Ronke?” Nneka said, her mood switching in a short while. “Na wa for you o… you don’t want her to come and see us?”

Muyiwa smiled weakly. “We’re decided to be apart for a while.”

Nneka’s hand flew to her mouth in shock. “What happened? What did you do?”

Muyiwa folded his hands. “So I have to be in the one at fault?”

“It’s usually the guy… everyone knows that.”

“You women like to play the victim shaaa!” Muyiwa laughed before launching into the story of what had happened that night. Nneka looked at him intently when he was done.

“Do you really think she did it?”

“Why is everyone defending her like this?” Muyiwa said with a sigh. Nneka gave him a once over and drew him close.

“This is what we will do… we will invite her over.”

Muyiwa jumped. “For what again mama? After I’ve told her we need space? Does that make sense to you?”

“Aisha would be able to tell if she really did it or not.”

“That’s your plan? Seriously?” Muyiwa got to his feet and shook his head. “I can see how that will pan out… her thinking I discuss everything with my 12 year old sister.”

“I can’t believe you broke up with her when my birthday is about two months away.” Nneka said angrily. “You’re annoying me sef— please go back to school.”

Suddenly the door opened and a wind whipped past them just as Aisha came in with a tiger that flew straight at Muyiwa, who had caught the big cat by its forepaws before it could knock him down.

“Abiye stop turning into such wild animals in the house!” Nneka yelled. “You can knock something over and break something!”

“Thank goodness he didn’t turn into a cheetah.” Aisha said with a chuckle. “He’d have probably ripped the sofa open with his claws… they don’t retract you know.”

“Abiye!!!!”

“Mama you need to chill… I have my claws retracted.” Abiye said tiredly. “Besides Cheetah claws are blunt.”

“Not blunt enough to not cause damage.” Aisha argued. “Abeg what is fabric to the claws of a big cat?”

“Abiye if you can’t change into anything nice and fluffy abeg pack well.” Nneka said snappily.

“Mama you’re no fun.” Abiye said with a small sigh, changing quickly into an Alsatian puppy.

“Oh my goodness Abiye you’re just so cute!” Nneka said, her mood switching instantly for the second time today. She picked him up and spun him around before hugging him close, making Abiye happy again. “Where have you been keeping this one? See your cute ears!!!”

“I think mama is bipolar.” Mustapha said, coming out of the kitchen with a bowl of roasted corns, two out of the six already stripped down to their core. “Welcome Muyiwa.”

“Where did you see corn? Where’s our own?” Muyiwa asked teasingly.

His brother handed the bowl to him. “Take from here. Abiye and Aisha ate theirs in the car.”

“He also ate four before we got here.” Abiye said, still enjoying the comfort of his sister’s arms.

“You how come you didn’t follow Miss Essien home today?”

“She’s not the one that came to pick us today.” Abiye said with his eyes closed from being stroked by his sister. “I don’t know the man, so I refused to go. But Julian said that the man was his uncle, so he went with him.”

Right at that moment their neighbor Mrs. Olisa walked into their house, looking very uneasy. The kids greeted her, feeling uneasy at the coincidence of her showing up when they were talking about her child, and the fact that Abiye was still a puppy in his arms.

“Hello dears… I’ve been waiting for your car to pull up.” She said uneasily. “My sister is in school and couldn’t find Julian, so she assumed he followed Abiye since she couldn’t find any of you either.”

“I don’t understand.” Mustapha said confusedly. “I thought Abiye said Julian went with his uncle.”

Mrs. Olisa’s face switched from calm to a wild panic. “Which uncle?! Where is Abiye?”

“Let me go and call him for you.” Nneka said hurriedly, rushing upstairs and returning with and Abiye, who had changed back into himself.

“Good afternoon ma.” Abiye said, looking confused. He didn’t have to feign it; the whole situation was perplexing to him.

“They said Julian followed his uncle home.” Mrs. Olisa said, looking half-crazed. “Which Uncle Abiye? Which Uncle?!”

“Sorry ma I don’t know.” Abiye said, almost in tears. “I didn’t follow the man because it is only aunty Nancy I know and mummy said I shouldn’t follow anybody I don’t know, but Julian said he knows the man so he followed him.”

“Please don’t cry dear… I didn’t mean to shout at you I’m just… can you please describe the uncle?”

“I didn’t really pay attention to him… but I know he was dark and short.”

Mrs. Olisa put her hands over her head and began to weep. “What am I going to do? My only son… my only child! Not again…”

The children looked at her sympathetically. She was a widow who co-owned a small company with her husband before he was involved in a plane crash. Julian was barely a month old when it happened, and she hadn’t married since then.

“Let me call the police…”

Nneka touched the wailing woman’s arm. “We will also call our father.”

 

Richard ran straight to the house when he heard what had happened with his neighbor. A tearful woman and Abiye sat on the couch by each other, fearful for Julian.

“Have you gone to the police yet?” Richard said apprehensively. Mrs. Olisa nodded.

“I doubt people go to prestigious schools to find victims for rituals.” Richard said firmly. “I’m more than certain that this is a kidnapping.”

“Whatever they want… I’ll give them.” She wailed. “Let them just let my baby go.”

Richard looked at the time. It was getting pretty late. He expected that they would have called by now, if it really was a kidnapping.

Another coincidence of the day: the phone rang. Mrs. Olisa picked it up hurriedly.

“Hello? Julian! Julian where are you… where is… why do you have my son? Where did you say? Please repeat it.”

Suddenly she began to repeat an address while Nneka scribbled it on her phone. Richard rushed to her side when she was done with the call, not concealing his anxiety.

“They want 100 million naira.” She said quietly. “If I don’t get it to them by tomorrow night they will kill my son.”

Muyiwa went up to his father and whispered to his ear. “Jennifer I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Richard went to his study with Muyiwa and Mustapha. After shutting the door behind them he frowned at his sons “I want to believe I didn’t hear you correctly.”

“Daddy we can help her.” Muyiwa pleaded. “A hundred million is a lot of money.”

“Muyiwa… you are not superheroes.”

“We’re not trying to be dad. But why not help her if we can?”

“Your mum would never agree to this.” Richard said, shaking his head.

“Then please don’t tell her.” Mustapha said. “Please… we can do this”

“What kind of father would I be to let my children put themselves in mortal danger?”

The boys did not answer.

 

When Richard returned Mrs. Olisa was planning to leave. Richard held her hand.

“I have to go withdraw all I can tomorrow.” The tearful widow said. “Richard I doubt I can raise that money on such short notice! Thank you for writing the address for me Nneka.”

As she left, Richard turned to the kids and sighed.

“Kids… it’s time to get Julian.”

 

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: It’s Been A While (Probed RECAP and MORE!!!) | Wolfger Ricardo

  2. I should get a BP pills here..this suspense is just too much to contain *i actually pulsated towards the end

    As i read on, i thought about how Ronke’s discovery of his father’s plot wasn’t coming up again until i read the next paragraph which i loved

    i don’t know why PMS is the only thing that came to my mind when i read the part where you laid emphasis on Nneka’s mood swing… maybe my mind is dirty or that you were thinking then as well

    I really crave to have an Abiye so i can always get a persian or ragdoll cat breed at will *dreams

    i’d keep a steady dosage of my chill pill and i hope not exhaust it until next chapter.. please make this soon as i expect to read about some bone breaking, brutal tooth removing scenes for next chapter

    I’m enjoying the way this unfolds really!

    Like

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