I woke up suddenly, with sweat glistening over my half Unclad torso. The sweating wasn’t because of the bad dream I had just had, but rather due to the fact that the weather was hot and PHCN was once again exhibiting its significance by not providing power. My air conditioning maintained its statutory silence and I stared at it wistfully in the dim light. My mind was still on my dream, the clarity of which had been not a little unnerving. I could still see the woman’s face, contorted in terror, the animal that had attacked her, the wicked sneer of the driver in the blue Camry. I knew it was only a dream and yet there was a certain dread I felt, like I had been made to watch a murder. I got up from the bed and went to the kitchen to get something cold to drink, using my rechargeable lantern which had been at the edge of the bed and which currently supplied the only source of illumination as I walked groggily to the kitchen. On getting back I happened to take a quick glance at the wall clock. The time was 2.20am. I went back to bed, read a verse from my bible and closed my eyes.

I woke up later that morning around 7am. This time my sleep was interrupted by a more welcome source, the electronic buzzing of my alarm clock. I stretched a bit and went to brush my teeth, have my bath, get a quick breakfast of bread and tea with onion omelette going before venturing out to work. Hopefully it was going to be a busy day.

I had chosen to put on a blue black plain trousers atop a light blue long sleeved shirt with diamond engravings decorating its entire surface. I had just bought the shirt yesterday and it fit my robust build very well. My tie was a Putman, a gift from my girlfriend who was now currently visiting her parents in the eastern part of the country. She had asked me to come along but I wasn’t able to make out extra time from work. I sighed happily as I thought of my sweet Nina, the girl I had decidedly given my heart to. She was, as far as I was concerned, the belle of the ball, my princess and precious one. And right now I was missing her like crazy.

I took a cab down to work, hadn’t gotten around to buying a car yet even though i had the need and the money for one. My workplace wasn’t so close to my house and Lagos was still crowded with enough early risers to make late coming an easy habit to acquire. I got to my firm just as the time struck 8am and quickly clocked in. Going up the stairs I went to the second floor where I had recently been promoted to a private office, complete with all the perks. My personal secretary, Mrs Adekoya stood up as I came in.

“Good morning sir.” She announced.

“Good morning ma,” I replied good naturedly.

“Leeman consulting have agreed to the terms sir. We have the contract.” She said smiling. She was a Kind looking woman, in her middle 40s and I had chosen her because of her courteous demeanour and impeccable efficiency. I returned the smile.

“Thanks for being the bearer of good news. Does the boss know?”

“Yes sir, he received a call from them this morning so I believe they told him. ” she searched the drawer beside her desk and pulled out a file. On handing the file to me she quickly left to order coffee.

I walked around my posh office a little bit, taking in and enjoying the view. the large mahogany desk was the main attraction and easily the largest element in my office. I took a seat at settled into it, waiting for my morning coffee when the phone rang. It was my boss.

“Good morning sir,” I said.

“Whatever,” he replied brusquely. “I suppose congratulations are in order.”

“Thanks sir,” I replied.

“Leeman consulting
called me this morning. They said they want you to personally oversee the project in Asaba. I told them you’ll be there later this evening.”

“Sir?” I said, letting out an audible gasp.

“Your flight ticket has already been paid, be rest assured it will be deducted from your salary. We cannot afford to lose this contract so head back home and pack your things. Your flight leaves in 2hours. We have to get you to the airport before then.

“But, but sir, what about my other assignments? I have…”

“I don’t care what you have chuks! Just get yourself to Asaba immediately! And stop pretending you are not happy they chose you instead of me! Call me as soon as you land!” And he hung up. But not before I heard the greed demon that usually sat on his head growling menacingly.

I sat down at my desk pondering what had just happened. Its true the representative of leeman’s consulting had developed a liking for me over the phone and its true they had been interested in my resume…but I was only an assistant manager to my firm for now. Surely they would require one of the many managers we had in the firm to go instead of me. But my boss had called and confirmed it was me they wanted. And this asaba job had even more perks than the managers’. It was a great opportunity…

But then again, there was my dream. Things had a way of happening around me for a reason. Maybe the call to Asaba was a call of destiny as much as it was a call of providence. I sighed, got up and headed out the door just as Mrs Adekoya was returning with the coffee. Right above her, a small dark cloud had formed, formidable looking and gloomy. Every once in a while the cloud took the shape of a stern looking middle aged man. I saw silver drops of rain begin to fall from the cloud into Mrs Adekoya’s head. To be honest this wasn’t the first time I was seeing this manifestation, but this was the first the the face had appeared. She saw me looking above her head and her eyes looked upward, trying to decipher what I was looking at.

“Did you know I was going to Asaba?” I asked her.

“What? No sir!” She replied, astonished. “Isn’t that our Oga’s job?”

“Yes, but for some reason, they want me. So I want you to tidy up my appointments. Cancel those that are not so important. Restructure the urgent ones for two weeks.”

“Ok sir,” she said and started to bustle away when I called her back.

“Ma’m do you know I really like your smile?”

She smiled again. “You do Sir? Why?”

“Its because it is so perfect it hides even your greatest worries.” I replied. “Your husband isn’t going to leave you. You are going through a rough patch right now and it seems like he is the enemy but really he isn’t. He’s just going through a kind of mid-life crisis. So please be patient with him. I want to see this your kind smile when I get back!”

The look on her face…for a moment I thought she was about to faint. But then she steadied herself and whispered

“How do you know?”

“Heard you arguing with him on the phone when you went to get coffee.” I lied.

She looked sad for a moment but regained her composure and smiled.

“Thanks for the encouragement Mr Chukwudi. You are nice.”

I smiled and walked out the office back to my apartment. No point telling her about the manifestation. She probably would think I was crazy if I had opened my mouth and said I see things others do not see.