Mercy eyed the diamond studded watch gracing her wrist as her frown deepened.
Bola was late again and sitting inside her car for nearly an hour has never been on her to-do list of fun events. Despite the comfort of her new C-Class, she was beginning to feel claustrophobic.
She had suggested they should meet up at an exotic restaurant but Bola, for some unknown reason, had insisted on the scary location she had finally located after several wrong turns.
Pulling down the sun visor above her head to block out the piercing beam of the early morning sunlight, she caught sight of the tired eyes staring back at her in the mirror. You need more rest, a small voice in her head pointed out.
Trying to ignore the obvious dark circles beneath her eyes, she focused on the white mask covering part of her face. It clung to her like an ugly appendage and reminded her of aliens in sci-fi movies.
All thanks to Covid-19, she nearly gritted her teeth.
The wear a mask rule had turned out to be as undesirable as having to drag a hand sanitizer along whenever she was leaving the house. But she could live with all those inconveniences except for the annoying social distancing rule which Ben, her fiance, was head bent on complying with despite the almost tangible sexual tension they were exuding.
It's not like we have the virus, so why is he punishing us? Gosh! I hate him when he gets like this! She muttered to herself and closed her eyes.
She suddenly wished they could go back to being normal. To the days of waking up in Ben's arms. Days before the pandemic. The lock down was almost three weeks old, and their lives had slowed down to a snail pace and was inching towards being a boring routine. She had lost interest in jogging through the quiet streets and was getting used to crying over romantic movies with a bowl of popcorn in her lap every night while Ben got stuck in his room until last night.
It was almost midnight when her phone beeped. The number was strange. Thinking it would be her boss, she had reluctantly answered. The noise in the background made it impossible for her to hear the voice on the line. It took her a while to figure out who was calling.
"Bola! Babe is that you?"
"Mercy, its Me! Bola!"
She yelled and Mercy pulled the phone away from her ear. The noise was defeaning and Bolas voice fougt hard to be heard over all the raucous.
"Babe move away from the music I can't hear you!"
Mercy yelled back with a grin. It felt good to hear from her long lost friend. She wriggled with excitement.
After a small pause and what felt like she was moving hastily, the music died down and Mercy guessed she had either moved away or turned the music down.
"Hello girl. Can you hear me now?"
"Loud and clear sis. Oh my world where have you been hiding?" She squealed and waved her free hand in the air forgetting that Bola couldn't see her.
"Baby girl I missed you terribly. Gosh I can't wait to see you again. We have so much catching up to do and I promise, i'll definitely explain when we see okay? Right now I - I can't talk now." The urgency in her voice triggered an alarm in her head.
"Bola are you okay? Where are you? I really missed you!" She pouted her lips.
Mercy could sense that something was wrong. Ever since Bola got the job at the State house, their usual girls time out had taken the back seat, if not tucked away in an old trunk. Her calls were never returned so Mercy eventually stopped calling. Hearing her voice that night brought back all the forgotten memories of their wonderful days together.
Bola was eager to drive over to her home that night but Mercy knew it would be too risky, so she promised to drop by her place first thing in the morning but that was when Bola freaked out. She said something about unseen eyes monitoring her movements and her home being unsafe. She then read out some coordinates before hanging up.
Mercy stared at the paper in her hand. Same paper she had written down the coordinates Bola had read out. Then why did her navi lead her to a deserted part of town she never knew existed?
She leaned forward to glare at the eerie looking abandoned, rain drenched houses surrounded by vandalised construction equipments buried in the debris. The sea of giant grasses swaying in the breeze reminded her of a horror movie she had seen as a kid.
Goosebumps sprouted on her skin and Mercy suddenly felt the urge to head home. She reached for the gear lever but a thought stopped her;
What if Bola drives down after I've left ?Mercy thought hesitantly.
She never lets her friends down and Bola was more like a sister she never had. Besides seeing and catching up with Bola would always be more interesting than going to sit at home, typing long reports after the usual dreadful online meetings with her boss or worse still; giving in to the nagging urge to beg Ben to rethink his decision of maintaining his strict social distance rule at home.
I won't beg him. That will Not happen.
But you want him. How will you survive if this lock down is extended? That tiny voice argued.
Grimacing, Mercy pulled down the mask covering part of her face and reached for the flask sitting in the bottle holder beside her. Taking a sip of the water, she leaned her head against the head rest and tried to enjoy the refreshing feeling of the cool liquid trailing a path down her throat before settling in her stomach which growled and she suddenly felt the pangs of hunger. Replacing the flask she rearranged the mask and reached for her phone.
Bola had promised she would show up, but a glance at her phone screen revealed that the last message from her was the previous night.
Okay, time to call her.
She tapped the redial button, raised the phone to her ear and looked up to see an approaching car through her rearview mirror. Ending the call, she studied the car.
When did Bola change her old Toyota Camry to a black SUV with tinted windows? Things must be getting better, she thought, turning in her seat to get a good look at the car gunning down the dusty pathway at top speed.
Suddenly dust billowed into the air as the SUV screeched to a halt several yards away from her.
Why is she stopping?
Just then her phone started beeping. Grabbing the phone, her eyes darted to the screen and Mercy muttered before reluctantly answering the incoming call.
"Where are you?" Ben's deep voice grated out in her ear. She could hear the suppressed anger.
Why is he angry this early?
"Sorry baby, I didn't want to wake you up. Actually have a brief meeting with Bola. I will soon be..."
"Mercy Oni, bring yourself back here RIGHT NOW!" He interjected furiously.
Mercy internally shrunk away from the phone plastered against her ear and massaged her temple with her free hand.
Being home with Ben for nearly three weeks was driving her up the wall.
They had met four months ago. It was love at first sight or so she thought. Ben had proposed a month later at a dinner with his family. She was not expecting a proposal at the time. To be sincere, she was still trying to decide what she wanted from the relationship when he popped the question and caught her off guard. Not knowing how to turn him down infront of his already excited family, she had said Yes.
After the dinner, they had ended up together at his luxurious penthouse located at a very expensive residential building somewhere in town.
Once inside he had swung her up into his strong arms and carried her into his room bridal style. His kisses, which were soft in their elevator ride upstairs had turned passionate and intense. His tongue had possessively delved into her warm mouth, forcing her to respond. She had been reluctant to kiss him back, but his whispers of I love you had relaxed her tense muscles.
That was their first night together. That week had been intense. They always woke up tangled in eachothers arms until something changed and Ben suddenly became too busy especially when it had anything to do with her.
At first she had felt it was probably his new project until he stopped calling and cancelled all their plans. She tried to figure out why he was suddenly very cold towards her, tried to have a conversation about it with him but Ben was either out of the country or in a meeting.
Was she surprised when he told her he was moving in with her temporarily for the lockdown. According to him, her house was closer to town – that's not true. He only wants to keep an eye on you - the tiny voice in her head pointed out. She had wanted to refuse, until he claimed he would not survive being apart from her for two weeks or more. That was when Mercy gave in and loved him more for putting her first after a long time of being cold.
Right now, she just wasn't sure anymore especially with his Covid paranoia and persistent refusal to touch her or allow her anywhere near him and now, the recent possessive macho man drama was beginning to drive her insane.
“Which Bola?" He laughed out drily.
Mercy's ear buzzed as she was pulled back to reality.
"I am not a kid Mercy! Tell that man, whoever the ass is, that you are engaged to me! Tell him you are mine!” He grated out angrily.
Did he just add trust issues to the growing list of turn offs? Unbelievable! What is wrong with Ben?
Turning up the A/C, she freed the top buttons of her white lacy blouse. Pulling the mask off, she tossed it behind the car.
Her plan was to briefly meet up with Bola, stop over at an utility shop for some supplies and head home before he would notice her absence. Obviously nothing seemed to be going as planned.
A part of her wanted to yell at him for accusing her wrongly. Instead Mercy placed the phone on her lap and ran her fingers through her short hair as she tried to ignore the pain in her heart.
Why am I such a failure when it comes to love and men? Why do I always meet the wrong ones?
Sighing deeply she looked ahead and froze. A dark shadow flickered through the deserted upstair rooms of the abandoned house directly facing her car.
Mercy squinted her eyes as she tried to focus. Her heart seemed to have stopped beating. Trying to swallow the lump that had suddenly lodged in her throat, she glared at the skeletal structures which would have turned out to be a truly beautiful housing estate if it had not been abandoned.
Her keen eyes scanned the windows, taking in the shriveled timber limply sticking out of them and how the sun caressed the weak walls that had seen too much rain and looked like they would collapse any minute.
Nothing seemed to be out of place. But she could swear something or someone had moved in one of the rooms upstairs.
There's nobody up there, hunger must be making me see things. I really need to stop scaring myself. She dismissed the thought and tried to calm her ragged breathing.
"Mercy are you still there? Mercy talk to me! Don't make me come for you!”
Ben's voice coming from the speakers of her phone pierced through the quiet car and pulled her away from her worried thoughts. She groaned, feeling the onset of a major throb in her head and wished she could shut out his invasive voice. A single tear trailed down her cheek as her fingers hovered above the phone.
Why am I crying? She was not usually emotional.
Crying will only make me weak and Bola can’t see me like this.
Hurriedly wiping her eyes with the back of her hands, her mind went back to the SUV as she wondered what Bola was up to. She looked up to check out the SUV in the rear view mirror and froze again.
A fresh surge of fear and panic ran through Mercy's body as she stared like someone in a trance.
Her instincts had been right. There was a dark silhouette standing visibly in one of the rooms upstairs.
Her thoughts trailed off as the darkness around the figure expanded, blocking out the streaks of sunlight as if it was coming to life.
Mercy felt a terrified shriek rise in her throat when it's dark gaze riverted on her.
Is it...? Holy Lord It’s moving! She screamed in her head.
Snapping out of her near paralysis, she hurriedly slid off the seat and crouched down under the steering wheel. Panic surged through her veins as she felt the cold fingers of fear grip her thumping heart.
"Shit! Shit!" She chanted like a prayer. From her position, she could feel the engine of her car humming.
What was that? Oh my God it was looking at me...She placed her hand on her chest as if trying to prevent her heart from jumping out.
You need to get out of here, her brain blasted out of the frightening daze that was walling it in. She desperately looked around the plush interior of her car, trying to figure her next best move. Sweat broke out on her forehead. It was as if the AC had malfunctioned.
"Mercy! Stop ignoring me.I am talking to you!"
A familiar shrill voice jolted her back to reality. It suddenly dawned on her that her phone had slipped off her lap and was on the foamy mat she was crouched on, under the steering wheel. Relief surged through her quivering body as she grabbed it in a vice like grip;
"B-Ben help me!"
She sobbed, whispering into the phone she had plastered on her ears as if she was desperate to make it a part of her face. The steering wheel pressed down on her head. That hurts, a livid part of her noted.
"Mercy what’s going on over there?”
"Th - there’s something in - inside the house... Baby I'm scared."
“What? Where are you at? Mercy talk to me, goddammit!”
The fear dripping from her voice must have triggered something feral in Ben. He cursed profusely. From the sound of his voice she could guess he
was hurriedly dressing up. Another sob escaped from her and she bit down on
her lower lip as she tried to suppress
the panic mounting within her.
"At this abandoned construction site. My navi..." She faltered.
"Baby listen to me. Get into your car and drive out of there. Continue driving and don't stop for anyone. Can you do that for me baby? Mercy!"
Ben's deep voice, somehow, soothed her raging nerves and cleared the fog in her aching head.
"O-okay." Mercy was trembling. She struggled to suppress the fear clutching at her throat.
Taking deep steadying breaths she slowly crept out from her position undethe steering wheel and reclaimed the driver's seat. As she reached for the seat belt, her phone slipped out of her hand and dropped on the floor of the car, out of sight. She muttered loudly and not bothering to look for it, wrestled with her seat belt. Her hands were quivering but she finally snapped it in place and pushed the gear to reverse. Gripping the steering wheel Mercy stamped her foot down on the accelerator.
The car engine roared to life as she sped off blindly, down the dusty road, away from the eerie houses standing in a row and the shadow. Her car veered off the road as she gained speed. Blinking rapidly, she released her leg from the gas and managed to pull the car back on the dusty road. Her eyes darted from the car's navigation screen to the receding houses and in that instant a loud sound pierced her ears.
Her car jerk as if something heavy had smashed into it. Mercy lost control as the impact lurched her sideways. She slammed her head into the window and a splitting scream escaped from her lips. Suddenly the world spun around as a sharp pain blinded her. She felt a thick blanket of darkness and pain envelope her. Mercy struggled against it but it was too late to fight. It sucked out her strength until she weakly gave up and laid still.
Hello guys, this is my first story here and I am excited. Kindly read, share and like. Looking forward to your reviews.