Two-days’ Notice – a short story

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“Some things are only real if you believe in them” Unknown

Charles wasn’t sure what to make of the last few moments. He wasn’t close to being religious and had not set foot within the four walls of a church in 4years, but the scrawny looking teenager, dressed in an off-white robe down to his ankle, with a bible stashed within his underarm had just passed the most unsettling message he had ever heard.

Charles considered himself non-religious; a term that by his definition, did not suggest his absolute rejection of his Christian faith, but his indifference to it. He was raised in the orthodox faith by parents who were staunch believers in every prophesy pronounced by morally bankrupt priests, for as long as it could be referenced to the Holy book.

Throughout his teenage years, the church was his cocoon, his place of refuge, in the years when his fate was largely in the hands of his parents.

The last time he stepped foot in church was the day he graduated from the university and subsequently moved out of his parents’ house in Magodo. Freedom never tasted better! The next six years had been akin to sprinting through a fog, as he fought his way up the steep hills of his career, earning his stripes while at it and it had absolutely nothing to do with being religious.

The moment the teenager walked up to him as he alighted from his weather beaten sedan in the parking lot tat morning, everything about his life was about to change.

“Good morning, sir” Charles turned to return the pleasantries as his eyes searched the teenager’s face quizzically for the reason why he was being accosted at 8.30am on Monday morning .

“I have a message for you sir” The boy continued. 

“From where?” Charles batted his eyelid.

“I have a message from the Lord of Host, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and God almighty” Charles shut the door of his car with full intentions to walk away from the teenager. He tapped his pocket in hope for some change to give the poor looking boy.

“Thus, sayeth the lord, you have but two days to live on earth. Your time has come” The young boy announced boldly.

Charles’ two eyebrows collapsed into a stern and irritated look. “And how do you know that?”

“I have the gift of prophesy sir, and none of the word the lord passed to me in vision has yet to go unfulfilled” that said, the boy turned to walk away.

Charles stood transfixed. The message hit him so fast, his reaction was delayed. Words failed him. He could only watch the boy turn his back to walk away from him.

Startled, Charles footsteps faltered for a moment as he fiddled with his car keys in a bid to channel the unsettling news into an object.

He turned again to watch the boy walk through the bank gate into the adjoining street. He didn’t looked back.

At first his eyes settled on the uncovered cracked heels of the boy as he trodded off in his leather pam slippers. Then his gaze faded into thoughts about death, his own death. “He must be joking or on cheap drugs“.

He snapped out of his own thoughts only after the parking assistant shared pleasantries with him.

“Good morning” he responded.

But his heartbeat had increased, suddenly his steps were not as steady as he strolled into the banking hall. Even his face wore a somber look as though he had seen death itself.

“How can I die?” he asked himself. “I am too young to die. I am not even 30. This must be a sick joke” He fought back the urge to look for the teenager. “The idiot didn’t even introduce himself.” Instinctively, he turned to look behind him as though expecting the teenager to re-appear.

“Was that even real?”

A flurry of questions besieged his wilting conscience in torrents. His mind was blinded so much that his concentration dipped. He bumped into a couple of customers in the banking hall as he walked by into the back office. 

He shook it off the moment he got into his office; a small glass cubicle at the back of the hall.

But his mind was far from settled. It felt like there was a mist that wouldn’t clear as he raised his elbow on his office desk with the weight of his chin resting on his clenched fist. His mind was throwing out all sort of “What if” permutations.

If the teenager and his prophesy was anything to be taken seriously, then he just had to stay safe for two days.

Staying without harm for 48hours and all the hogwash thoughts about death would be a thing of the past.

That sounded like a good plan to Charles. 

But he wasn’t quite settled still.

He started to consider the things that could hurt him to fatality.

His electric toaster popped up on his mind first. He got the shock of his life earlier that morning when he tried to get the buttered sliced bread that was stuck in it out. Several volts of electricity flashed through his veins temporarily re-arranging the cells in his arm. It was painful, but that was it.

That couldn’t possibly kill him. He agreed. He would have to dispose the appliance nonetheless. He wasn’t going to take chances.

Two days! Fuck!

What about the wild, passionate but unprotected sex he had with Sade over the weekend. They met hours before the crazy romp. She didn’t want the rubber and he didn’t insist. She looked too clean to resist, too sexy to be a carrier of the HIV.

His heartbeat stopped for a moment. He said a short prayer.

Oh Lord, I don’t want to die

What if she had a venereal disease that was terminal?

No sexually transmitted disease would kill anyone in two days. None!” he could hear himself speak reassuringly. He paused for another moment, tempted to type the exact set of questions in google.

He feared what he might find.

All he had to do was stay safe for 48hours.That couldn’t be so difficult”

The staircase to his apartment! His eyes lit up quickly.

He had refused to pay for the repair of the broken water pump at his apartment because he suspected that his neighbors expected that he would pay for its repair every time it broke down. Afterall he was the big shot banker.

He had been fetching several buckets of water up the staircase to his second-floor apartment in the last week. Each time leaving wet trail of water on the terrazzo-finished stairs.

He made a mental note to pay for the pumping machine repairs as soon as he was home that evening. If he didn’t, what would happen if he slipped on the wet surface, hitting his head on the sharp edge of the steps.

God forbid” He found his voice again, only this time in a subtle whisper.

He shook his head firmly, filling his lungs with gush of air, before exhaling loudly.

He would have to stop his late night movement to the Cilantro lounge and bar, where he gorged on bottles of beer most weekdays after work. Especially on the days his girlfriend, Bimpe, was waiting for him at home with a home cooked meal.

Home cooked meal. He would have to avoid meals from restaurants too. Food poisoning!

Perhaps he would start a fast.

He would have to go straight home at the close of work. Once twilight sets, he would be out of the office. Pronto! Nothing would hold him back. Not in the next 48hours.

1000 ways to die” his mind wandered to the docu-series he had watched when he was a teenager. He loved to watch the number of foolish ways that those actors portrayed in the series.

Food poisoning – Bimpe wouldn’t dare poison him. They were working towards settling down in three years.

Yes three years.

“Perhaps I could bring the wedding forward” his head bobbed in agreement.

Car Crash – He was going to check his car seatbelt for compliance in the event that a crash happened. He made another note to check his threadbare tires and maybe schedule a maintenance service for the car. He agreed that he hadn’t been treating the car very well anyway. The engine was due for service and check-up.

What if it broke down in the middle of nowhere and he is kidnapped by dare-devil ritualist.

He leaned back on his seat with a wide sarcastic smile spread across his face.

No fucking way” he fiddled with his neck tie.

Gunshot – He would leave for work only when it was daylight, even if it meant staying in traffic, for as long has he wouldn’t have to run into armed-robbers or unscrupulous and trigger-happy police officers.

No time to dillydally, it’s only going to be for two days. He had to stay alive.

Bomb blast “Common Charles, you are thinking too far” He agreed with his inner self.

What if he had a terminal disease like Cancer or something? He quickly ran his open palm across his stomach as though to reassure himself again that he had no hidden ailment.

Cancer wouldn’t kill him in two days! That’s for sure!

With this, he turned his laptop on. He had work to do.

“Hey Charles, good morning. We have a meeting with internal audit in 10minutes. An email was sent about this yesternight. Did you see it?” It was the voice of his colleague, Adams. He spoke so fast, Charles wondered how he finds space to take in a breath or two in between his sentences.

“Morning Adams. I haven’t checked my email, but what’s with the internal audit this morning” 

“Dude, everywhere has been buzzing since yesterday evening. We are in deep shit?” 

Charles looked quizzically, searching for answers in Adams his face. The second time he was doing so that morning.

“The transaction we managed last month had a major red flag on it. Apparently, DOVAS Integrated Oil was only a shell company and a front with no genuine shareholding in the company it stood in for” 

“What!!” Charles voice lost all decorum. “But we verified the certificates and other documents. They came out clean. That is not even possible”

Adams looked visibly worried. “Honestly, I don’t know what to think right now?”

What sort of day was he having. Sweat broke out instantly on his forehead as his eyes tore an angry look at the air-condition unit hanging high on his office wall.

He rummaged through piles of office paperwork to retrieve the remote control. He soon realized that it was already set at its lowest temperature.

“Get your email evidence together. We meet at the board room upstairs” Adams walked away.

Charles suddenly felt an insane need to use the toilet. The fog inside his brain was too dense to think through. His brain was in a short-circuit, firing blanks and humming like his broken water pumping machine at the apartment.

“Is this how he is supposed to die?” He wondered. It appeared as though the fog cleared only for a brief moment to remind him of the hours he had left to live.

He instinctively checked his wrist watch.

9.15am.

What if he is arrested, detained and thrown into a cell with hardened criminals, who would want to sodomize him at night. He had heard so many gory tales of what happens within the three walls of a police cell- the fourth being the metal grill that grants the detainee a peep into the world they had been shut out from.

He would rather die, than have his body violated in such horrific manner. A loud fart escaped his butt into freedom. He feared he might have passed some faeces too in the process judging by the bubbly sound of it.

His legs dashed straight towards the toilet, hurling the rest of his body along. He cared less about the smell of his horrid fart that was mixed unequally with a portion of his cheap etoile de toilet perfume which lingered as he passed the corridor, but worried more for his life.

**

The meeting was shorter than he had expected. The auditor was the worst human being that could ever be asked to investigate the transaction.

He had an uncanny reputation for finding things that were not so obvious, yet implicating enough to justify his efforts. They reserved his expertise for investigation into transactions that left the bank highly exposed.

“What business did he have with lowly transactions such as his?” Charles wondered.

His heart couldn’t stop beating fast during the meeting, he thought everyone could hear it. When the auditor looked up from his document to address the team during the meeting, Charles assumed wrongly that the high octane bass-sound coming from his heartbeat had distracted him.

“What is this now?” He had no idea he had spoken out loud.

“Did you say something?” It was the peering eyes of the auditor that met his. He looked at the man’s moustache and wished he could light a match on the unruly bunch of stray hair that adorned his lower nostrils.

“No I didn’t sir”

“I will work with you tomorrow. We will go through the fine prints. I hope you have all the required document?”

He could only nod.

His heartbeat was no longer regular. This wasn’t palpitation by any means, it felt like his heart was in overdrive, pumping blood into all its chambers like a burst pipe.

“Am I supposed to die of heart attack?”

He was now back at his desk. Dazed, confused and lost. Grown men don’t cry, but the situation felt like it needed him to cry his eyes to sob.

Church” The word popped into his head from nowhere.

“What if he could seek refuge in a church. Perhaps a priest could help me” he pondered.

“At least he would beg God to spare his life. Give him a few more years. No decades!” He promised to return to being the obedient child he once was and to serve him with all his life

But he hadn’t even been to a church in years. Which of the denominations would he visit?

Too many questions, not enough answers!

No! I can not die o

Silence enveloped the office for a few seconds.

He had to go find that teenager. “That is what I have to do” Something has to give and something isn’t clear about the prophesy.

What if it was a case of mistaken identity? How is he absolutely certain that the boys prophesy will come true.

He shut down his laptop with a bang before walking right back to the parking lot. He had some investigating work to do. Work could wait.

Read the second and concluding part to this story by clicking here.

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15 thoughts on “Two-days’ Notice – a short story”

  1. Ibilola Famugbode

    Chai!!!…not even a full chapter. I’m in sifia pains, lol.Very intriguing from the very first sentence. Lovittt!!!

  2. Pingback: Two-days’ Notice II – a short story – Akin Akingbogun

  3. “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
    Charles was so fixated on death that he became so careless after he survived its scare.
    Live well and live right fearless of death.

  4. Abdullahi Yasser

    He’s scared of death,
    For the young boy’s message as regards to the death of Charles still not unclear, Part 2.will make it comprehensible .

  5. Again, great job brother. Your description of events and behaviors of the character does bring delight at reading your stories and also unprepared burst of laughter, can’t begin to pick points that shook my entire body system especially the audit part as I can relate,they’re many of them. Struggling to think you never worked as a banker. Good job omo Akin.

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