By Kaiser Egbujie

Edited by Onyeka Obi

Lala hopped into the living room in an unusually high speed, viciously kicking the scissors that lay in the doorway and letting out a doleful moan as he received a wide gash between the big and second toes of his right foot. Blood trailed him inside. Everyone turned from the screen to him, startled, except React. Cold sweat had broken all over him and drenched his sweat-bleached, torn shirt. A torn lip, bruised jaw and bleeding nose was all you could make of him at the moment.

His heart pounded hard inside his chest. He was in a state of malfunction: gibberish flow of words, trembling limbs, eyes all light up, darting all over the room.                                                “Jesus! Jesus!!” gasping for air and stopping mid way to catch his breath. His hands were placed on his knees for support. Gabriel and Spencer sprang in one quick ,terrifying scramble towards him. Letting the wireless game pads of the Play Station 3 video game land awkwardly on the ash rug.                                                                                                                                                                        “Jesus Christ! Na wetin be that? You nearly give person heart attack, who dey pursue you?” Spencer had asked in a frightened voice.                                                                                                      “Some mean guys are after me, they wan maim me for nothing, 5 of them with rugged weapons. Guys, I beg, I need somewhere to hide, I beg. ” The words came out of him in the same pace as his fast-beating heart. Fear was like needles poking his brain. He was covered in it. Lala quickly reached for the switch supplying life to the stereos and TV screen and killed it. Tension suddenly descended on the room.                                                                                                                                    “Guys, Spartans dey pursue me.” Lala continued, wiping the sweat off his upper lip with the back of his right hand. It felt like the room was spinning. Startled and perturbed, Spencer moved closer and nudged Lala to a safer corner of the room with his left hand; then he slowly stretched his neck towards the door, leaning on the brown door frame, and peeked outside, through a tight angle. He snatched his head backwards. Lala and Gabriel still watching with rapt attention, eyes widening, ears pricked in alert.

“Spenc, you see anything?!” Gabriel asked in a hushed tone.                                                                “Shhh!! shut up first.”
Spencer took another cautious surveillance and still no sign of life outside. The air was dead still. Then Jasper’s bark cut through it, ripping the boy’s hearts out of their chests. They held their breaths and waited.

React was still in the mini coma he had slipped into after being beaten 2:0 by Spencer in two consecutive rounds of PES. He had been watching Spencer and Gabriel play when the sleep came. Now he was sprawled carelessly on the bed, happily snoring, randomly grunting, and giving Spencer and Gabriel some good laugh with his sleep-talking habit, oblivious of the trouble that was on his door.
“You this dead man wake up joor!”,Gabriel attacked, slapping React on the side of his head.  “Yawa don gas!”
But React disregarded the distractions and continued his great nap.                                            “React! React!” Gabriel hit him harder this time, “Get up joor.” Immediately, React erupted with a burst of energy, frowning and seriously perspiring. Sleep had suddenly taken a hike. “Wetin dey happen?!” He scrubbed his right palm over his eyes to clear the haze and become better acquainted with his surroundings. “Who dey push me like that?”
“I say kasala don burst!” Gabriel cut in, then shifted to sit beside him on the bed.
“Which kind yawa?”
“Some guys dey pursue Lala.” As Gabriel walked React through the happenings, Lala realizing the door was still open, rushed towards it and slammed it shut. On his way back he stepped on a game pad lying helplessly on the recently worn ash rug. He reached to the top of the white LG fridge that stood close to the door and snatched the keys. Then he fiddles with it, trying to find the appropriate key for the lock. React slumped back into on the family-sized Vita Foam mattress in confusion, trying hard to digest all that Gabriel was saying, phobia gradually creeping up his toes. He sat up, supporting his head with both arms.
“Spartans, you say? Are you serious? How did you fall under their radar, Lala? Tell us, tell me, How?” React bemoaned.
“You know those guys don’t play nice. They are nothing but a bunch of crazy misfits, always geared up for some expensive action. You must have stepped on their tails. Because I know you are not a cultist… Suddenly realizing the twist to that question, Gabriel turned his gaze towards Lala, examining his facial expression for the slightest form of guilt. A chilly silence enveloped the room.
“Wait a minute” Spencer cut in like he had some sort of epiphany, “Are you a cultist, Lala?”     Lala cowered in a corner as though he was in a trance, his head bowed between both knees with his long arms circling around his long pair of legs, lost in a state of extreme despair.
He leaped up when Spencer screamed right into his ear.
“Answer me Lala, are-you-a-cultist?!!
Lala hesitated for a while, trying to get his head around the question, it was the last thing he expected to be asked by anyone. React, Spencer and Gabriel watched with utmost intentness. Their eyes wide, Gabriel’s mouth partly open in apprehension. Jasper’s bark still in echo around the vicinity. Gabriel moved to the door and peaked through the lock holes, his head moving from left to right trying.
“Are you a cultist, Lala?!” Spencer screamed the question the third time. Lines of veins poking out on his neck..
“I am not! No, I’m not. I’m not a cultist!” Lala yelled back between tears then slumped onto the rug. Spencer took a deep breathe and staggered backwards, somewhat relieved albeit consumed in some deep thought. “This is not good” he muttered. React sat up on the bed, walked over to where Lala sat and squatted beside him. “Why are they after you then? You never told us why.” He said in a calm tone.
Lala sat up, sniffing hard to keep his nose from running. He looked up and saw his three friends intently starring at him. The expressions on their faces earnestly begging for an explanation.        “Look, guys, like I said, I’m not in any cult group. There is this fine chick that was coming on heat for me. Her name is Niola, quite a pretty babe. But I no sabi say the babe dey already date one of them. Na she carry herself come meet me..I swear. No be me go toast am. I just dey class one afternoon like that dey read when….                                                                                                          Just then Jasper’s never-ending bark stopped abruptly. Quaking hearts and frayed nerves suddenly littering the room. You could feel the temperature rising. There was a bad feeling in the air.    “Wait, Jasper just stopped barking. We are done for.” React said.                                                    “Shh!!!” Spencer ordered.                                                                                                                          They all listened attentively for any iota of strange sound outside. React carefully tip-toed to the door and peeked through the holes. Gabriel sat motionless. Spencer quickly brought out his cell phone and scrolled through his contacts and dialed on Murphy. But Murphy’s line was out of reach. “Damn!” He cursed. Ripples of sweat broke all over his face and trailed down the sides of his neck. Spencer began pacing up and down the room, swearing and cursing on Murphy for making himself unavailable when he was badly needed.                                                                      “You shouldn’t have come here, Lala.” Gabriel cried. “You are just drilling us all into your trouble. If these no-conscience idiots should storm in on us, we are all going to find ourselves at the end of some ugly show down which I’m sure won’t go down well.”

“I am, I am.. so sorry, guys” Lala stuttered, still sitting on the floor.
“You guys are like family to me, I couldn’t think of a safer place than here with you guys. I never meant to get you mixed up in all these. I’m truly sorry.”
React couldn’t bear to see his friend helpless and whimpering like a child. His heart went out to him.
“Its OK, bro, we are here anyhow. What’s done is done. We are in this together now and  we will get out of this, together.”
“Like hell we will!” Gabriel flared up. “Look Lala, I’m sorry to say this but you have no idea what you gotten yourself into. I have seen these guys ruffle up a Black Arrow guy so badly. Black Arrow! It wasn’t a pretty sight. Sorry guys but I wouldn’t like to have my story told alongside theirs. You need to find somewhere else to hide.”                                                                                                               Disappointed, Lala, React and Spencer watched Gabriel go for the key. But Spencer got there first and seized it. He walked back up to Gabriel. “Listen Gee, we understand you are afraid, and so are we. But Lala has been one of us right from freshman year and we’ve all stood up fro each other in the past. This was not his fault,” he threw a reprimanding look at Lala, “we can’t leave him to slug it out with these guys all by himself? No my friend, that’s not happening. We work as friends and brothers here. Trust me, we will get out of this. I am positive.”
“You are positive?” Gabriel asked, his eyes searching Spencer’s for assurance.
“Yes brother, I am” Spencer assured him with a pat on the shoulder.

React piped up from where he sat, “Should we pray about this?”                                                               On the spur of the moment, they heard a loud banging on the door, like an elephant trying to break in. They all reeled backwards in fear, colliding into each other.