......... when the vehicle screeched to an abrupt stop as log of wood flew across the air. They were barely out of Benin City. Passengers vaulted forward falling on each other. They raised their heads in time to see masked menacing looking men rushed out of the nearby bushes with all manners of fearful weapons. The words of protest at the drive’s abrupt stop came out as gasps.
Drivers of upcoming stepped hard on their brakes to avoid accident.
Efe’s hand flew to her mouth to cut off the whimper of fear that was about to escape from her lips. This sure can’t be happening she winced at the scene about to unfold.
Dennis saw the flash of fear and her struggle to stay calm. Feeling the need to surround her with safety despite the reality of their situation, he quietly took her hand resting close to his and squeezed it gently. “We will get out of this alive.” He assured her silently.
She searched his gaze and whatever she found there made the fear diminish. She nodded, seemed about to say something when the sneering order was issued.
“Everybody get out of the car with all your monies and valuables and get down on the floor seat by seat. I am sure you don’t want me to give you the details or explain myself. ” One of the masked men ordered.
The grouchiness of the man’s voice sent ripples of fear around, that immediately got everyone scrambling to get out at once. “ Wetin be this? Didn’t you hear when I said seat by seat? A bi person won die?” The man questioned with a look of pure venom on his face using vile and incorrect English commonly understood by most people.
They quivered with obvious terror as they settle back on their seat.
Efe began to shake as the realisation she was about to be robbed for the first time hit her. Dennis squeezed her hand again in an attempt to re-assure her they will be fine.
“Hey Crazy we’ve got ten minutes for this, tell them to hurry up.” It was obvious who the boss is as the same man kept ordering the others around. The buses been robbed were probably upto five if one dares to count as the other drivers quickly revised after noticing the scenario ahead.
Dennis hand moved to Efe shoulder to steady her as she won’t stop whimpering but quickly dropped it when, he heard the scream coming from one of the bus and the curse that followed. “You want to protect abi? Bruce Lee in the Monkey shadow.”
"When I break that hand you want to use to support sha you go still dey form actor?” One of the robbers smashed his gun on a passenger’s head who attempted to steady an elderly passenger.
“Crazy ten minutes I said and no killings.”
“Yes Boss.” the gang member was distracted from subjecting his victim to further agony and ran from one bus to another to pass the information.
Gradually, rather too quickly everyone gave what they had one after the other as they got down from the bus to lie on the floor. But the gang leader was disappointed with how little he got from their bus. They seem to have forgotten people barely travel with huge amount of monies these days. They prefer to make withdrawal when they get to their destination.
But there were quite some valuable electronic gadgets which they collected from everyone probably to be sold below price.
Efe could hear the shocked wince as many fought hard to hide their fears. Definitely, they’d be praying there will be no casualty because these men aren’t here to play. They definitely won’t delay to shot if provoked.
The first thing the boss noticed when they got to their seat was the absence of a third party “The third person don varnish?”
They stared at him, too scared to answer.
“Oh, no body want to answer me right, Okay I will have to make you two varnish,” he said cocking his gun.
“We were just two” Dennis replied with a steady voice and his eyes daring despite being held at gun point. Efe turned to speak to him with her eyes not to make any rash move.
“Five minutes left” he yelled to his gang members.
“Okay bring what you have and join your counterparts on the floor”.
With shaking hands she gave him the two thousand she had on and her simple Nokia phone.
The gang leader scowled became darker than the mid-night darkness. “You think I am joking right?”
“Noooooooo oooo” She stammered “that’s all I.......”
A resounding slap cut across her mouth before she could finish the sentence. The second one was about making an impact but Dennis wedged it.
“Please don’t hurt her, I have got money. I will give you everything. Let’s start with my phones and pads,” he stretched them towards him.
The boss just stared at him as if he has grown two horns on his head. Then slowly he asked “You challenged me...?”
“Crazy” He yelled for his obvious right hand man.
“Yes boss, we are done. We beat the time. “
“Let them hold for 3 minutes I have a score to settle.”
“But Boss you know everyyyyy, 10 minutes is all we’ve got”
“Crazy........ you’re wasting my time.”
Turning to them, he ordered them to get out of the bus.
Efe legs could barely hold her as she stepped down. A thousand and one thought kept rolling through her head. Is he going to shot her or Dennis or both of them? Her big eyes welled up with tears as she silently prayed for help.
Ten minutes and yet no security operative anywhere close to rescuing them. And where's God in this? She tried not to ask.
“Take of your ........ To continued next week.