They called it Magodo K.
One of the most notorious slums deep in the heart of Lagos, by day, it was a riotous pool of sweaty hustlers and traders, stomping along its wooden paths and ducking into makeshift buildings to conduct transactions both fair and unfair. But by night, the collection of wooden houses, held together by straining lengths of rope and flapping tarpaulin, became somewhere else, someplace a lot more dangerous. No one knew what the K in the slum’s name stood for, but given the muted whispers of its penchant for taking people in at night and not spitting them out in the morning, a few people had decided it meant ‘Kills’.
It was a depressingly familiar scenario playing out.
A pretty girl, with pert breasts bouncing beneath a small top which showed off her flat abdomen and navel with each step she took, the typical high heels made her steps wobbly. Each tap of her heels seemed like a small nail hammering her fate to the night as she stumbled along the darkened street. A small purse was pressed against her side and although her strides seemed relaxed, her eyes were opened as wide as they could go. Perhaps it was fear, or maybe she was just trying to adjust to the gloom through which she walked as she hurried toward a distant, lone streetlight. It was past midnight and she had seen no cars, bikes or people for over thirty minutes.
That was about to change.
The three boys who watched the girl with the perky breasts approach were another familiar fixture along many darkened Lagos streets. They lounged against a wall, just shy of the only working streetlight on the empty stretch of road, spiders waiting for the orange light to draw in a beautiful butterfly or two. Their dirt-stiffened peaks of browned hair, rugged jeans and reddened eyes spoke volumes. Marijuana butts idled between stubby, dirty fingers, white exclamation marks declaring their identity, the fiery points promising bad things to whoever crossed their paths at the wrong time.
Àwọn ọmọ ilẹ̀.
The ground they slouched on was theirs, they believed. Everything they could take without consequence was fair game. Including pretty girls who wandered about unescorted.
One of them raised the small fragrant cylinder in his hand to cracked lips, a pull illuminating the tribal marks on his face. The boy beside him snapped the fingers of his right hand impatiently – an admirable feat, considering he had no thumb. An angry bus conductor had bitten it clear off a few years ago.
“Guy, pass that thing na,” Four Fingers growled, voice roughened by years of hard living. “Na kuli-kuli?”
They both chuckled at the joke, but the third boy was silent, clutching his own marijuana butt with a propriety that would obviously not be challenged, as he intently watched the girl walk towards them. His face also lit up as he took a long considering pull, features almost pretty, reminiscent of the renowned Fuji music crooner, Pasuma, who every tout in Lagos adored.
“Meehhn, this girl make sense o.” Tribal Marks whistled softly. “See Manchester na. Attack things.”
Pasuma Face frowned. The boy was right. The girl, loudly clopping her way toward them, was very pretty. Her fair skin gleamed in the midnight dark, and her breasts jounced as her hips, sheathed in skin-tight jeans, danced their way to where they were waiting.
Too pretty to be here, he thought. Probably just left a late party. Obviously very stupid.
Just as the thought crossed his mind, she reached them. There was a slight hesitation in her step as she noticed the boys, then she breezed on, her pace quickening. The smell of her perfume filled three sets of marijuana-tortured nostrils and there was a simultaneous sniff. All other thoughts disappeared, save for one.
This one, we must taste.
“The Arsenal follow tight o,” Tribal Marks muttered, eyes glittering as they roamed over her backside. He raised his voice, a mocking falsetto. “Baby girl, how far? Won’t you say hi?”
The girl with the perky breasts clutched her purse tighter and said nothing as she walked past the boys, and past the pool of the last working streetlight. The orange light fell on her braids, inviting pin-points of light bouncing off the glitter she had liberally sprinkled on her head. Just before she stepped out of the nimbus of comforting light, she threw a look over her shoulder.
Her eyes were wide and frightened, a silent scream that sent a come-hither message to the loins of the three touts she had just passed. With shared looks and meaningful smiles, they traded hi-fives and gave in to the call of the night.
Frayed flip-flops flapped as they began to follow her.
The sound alerted the girl and she looked back again, a modern-day Lot’s wife, salt looming in the panicked tears that made her eyes shimmer. Her heels tangled and she almost fell, generating a muted cheer from the boys following her. Her step quickened and as the tempo of their slipper orchestra matched the canter of her Aba-made Louboutins, she broke into a tottering run.
Four Fingers and Tribal Marks whooped and increased their pace, but Pasuma Face followed grimly, his expression tight. One thought cycled through his mind. She was a pretty thing and he wanted to have her.
He wanted to break her. He NEEDED to break her.
With another wild look, the girl broke left and fled into a darkened alley, running towards shadowy buildings that loomed in the dark.
The boys barely paused as they reached the corner and plunged into the darkness after her, but Pasuma Face had time for a new thought, and the smile that crossed his lips was part triumph and part worry as he followed his friends into the heart of a barely familiar darkness which seemed to throb in welcome.
Why did the stupid bitch have to run into Magodo K?!
TO BE CONTINUED
Written by Emem