It was nearly 1.00am and yet Biodun was sure she heard someone knock. She had enjoyed a most exciting day yesterday; being with Fred had always been fun, she thought, rolling over and sleeping once more.
"Gboah, gboah!" came a sound. Sleep vanished instantly.
"Is that a gunshot?" Before she could articulate her thought, four rapid shots followed.
"My Lord, who are those at this time of the …." She stopped suddenly. She could hear wailings from downstairs. She was sure that armed robbers were in the compound and possibly the whole vicinity, considering the noise from the other compounds. She could even hear the robbers barking orders to her neighbours.
She became confused. Diverse thoughts raced through her brain. She stood up, sat again, stood, sat and repeated the action twice more, her thoughts in turmoil.
"They would come in, take the little money I have, even the properties that I have struggled to get," she thought. "Oh my God! I pray they don't injure me. Oh! I have to cooperate with them so as not to annoy them. Well, thank God Innocenta is not at home, but she is with Yejide, I can face anything when they are absent." She consoled herself with that last thought.
Before the noise woke her, there had been no power. But, as if invoked by the shouting, light came on and awakened her senses. She quickly stood up to switch off the light and then it occurred to her to get dressed. She fearfully took off her night gown. Quickly she donned her undies, a bulky shirt, a cardigan and Jeans trousers. All these in an effort to make her frame unappealing to the marauders.
Bang! "Open the door!" Shouted a voice from outside. Biodun inhaled heavily and, without any delay, moved to the door with a courage which surprised even her. She opened it for the unwelcome visitors.
"Were you expecting us?" One of them crudely joked as they entered. Without appearing to do so, she studied them and noted that they were four in number. They had a lifeless look in their eyes; neither did they bother covering their faces. Directing her with a gun like a shepherd directing his sheep with a rod, they asked her to lead them inside.
"Where is your man?" one of the men barked. She was stammering to think of a suitable reply when thunder landed on her face. She screamed but was silenced by another slap that made her see the galaxy.
"I live alone sir, I live alone, my daughter and maid have travelled away," she moaned as if the slap resuscitated her sleeping senses.
"Keep shut lady, only answer when I ask you a question!" said a man with a broad chest and an amazingly flat head with ear lobes sticking out like banana leaves.
Then she heard a voice from a guy that looked smaller than the others. Despite all the hard drugs and everything they must have used, it was easy to know that he was but a young lad between 14 and 16 years of age.
"Oga, this woman dey waste our time. Na joke she think say we com joke for here? I sure say she get husband. Make una give me instruction mai torture am. I go show am say na me be small scorpion. Na im shout go bring im husband wherever she hide am." He made a menacing move towards her.
Biodun jumped back out of fear. She fell on her knees and begged, "No sir! I live here alone with my child, sir. However, she travelled with my maid to my mother's house some days ago. My mum has been on my neck that she wanted to see her. Please sir, I'm not lying sir. I'm not married sir I'm a single mom, sir" Biodun babbled on, afraid of another heaven –opening slap.
The man who appeared to be the leader of the group had made himself comfortable. He looked on quite amused as Biodun shrivelled from panic. One was even opening the fridge but, when he saw nothing of interest in it, he banged it shut. Their boss said something in a strange language and before Biodun could guess what they were up to they had dispatched themselves into different corners of the house. One to the guestroom and another started bringing down valuable things in the sitting room. The one who went to her bedroom came out again in few minutes. Before opening the door earlier, Biodun had carefully grouped everything that was valuable. Bringing them with him, he told their boss what she had done.
"Were you planning on hiding them somewhere?" asked the boss
"No sir, I don't want to trouble you. I want to be cooperative," she mumbled.
When the others finished, the man told her how glad he was that she had cooperated with them. He looked at her from head to toe, smacked his lips and, in that language incomprehensible to her, issued another command. Before she knew it, two men pranced on her and started undressing her; she became as frightened as Macbeth before the ghost of Banquo. She needed no soothsayer to tell her their evil intentions. She started crying - begging them not to touch her, but it's like having given a child a tip of honey and telling her not to ask for more. In matter of minutes they had undressed her. Biodun knew that what she feared most would now happen to her, her fate was inevitable as death unless she could be divinely rescued.
They dragged her to the bedroom and eagle spread her on the king-sized bed. But before doing anything, one of them brought out a needle and, mixing some substance together, he passed it into her body and murmured into her ears,
"That is from Dr. Adekola's lab. Have a taste of that for your disobedience," he laughed widely, savouring the scared look in her eyes.
They sat waiting for the drug to take its effect, after which, one after the other, they raped her in a criminal way. They rough-handled her like she had never been handled before. When one was satisfied and stood up, another one would take his place. She screamed in pain but this incensed the man. Eventually she came close to fainting. She wished that God would take her life and, by the time the third person got on her. she lost consciousness.
They were enjoying themselves at her expense. One on top of her, another beneath her. They were so engrossed in their wickedness that a sudden exchange of gunshots startled them. They hurriedly stood up to defend themselves but it was too late. Policemen had surrounded them. Thus, after an unequal exchange of gunshot, they were handcuffed, but surprisingly their leader had disappeared.
The policemen got a cloth, covered Biodun up, and carried her into a car. They rushed her to the nearest hospital while they rounded up the thieves into the police van. They, however, left a policeman behind to guard the house.
The following day, the whole town was agog and moved to tears with the activities of the night raiders. Though there were rumours that some women were raped, there was no way for them to confirm this. Even the local television station that carried the sad story didn't get the facts about the victims, so they concentrated on the losses and how the thieves had been caught. Some even said about twenty ladies were raped in all, and that some were even married.
What brought about the unavailability of information was actually the decision of the affected residents in the area. Immediately after the unfortunate incident, they had a meeting where they agreed not to release information for they were aware of what could possibly happen if the names of any of these ladies who were already traumatized were exposed by the press. Stigmatization which could lead to depression and all sorts of problems, so they decided to keep mute. To show how serious they were, they even hired security men who warded off the press.
During interrogation of the criminals caught at Biodun's flat, it was discovered that; they were 24 in number going into each house in 4's. The other 20 had finished their evil assignment and escaped. But, because the last set were enjoying themselves, they did not know when their overall commander blew his whistle, telling them to call the operation off because he smelled a rat.
Before noon that day, 12 others were caught while efforts were made to catch the remaining bandits.
At the police hospital, Biodun was rushed to the emergency ward. The doctors on duty discovered that she had been choked with sperm and her vagina and anus were badly torn. They had a lot to do on her but the police hospital was not well equipped to handle the problem and give her the intensive care she required. They also needed to flush her womb to get rid of the mixtures of sperm. They especially needed to get rid of an unknown substance that was found in her system. It was strange, considering that none of the other ladies who had been raped had anything injected into them.
Before being transferred, they decided to contact her family so that they could take proper care of her. They wanted to use her cell-phone but it seemed the robbers had smashed it so that it was destroyed beyond use. They combed her house to see if they could get any number to call so her relatives and friends could care for her. They had almost given up when they saw a complimentary card that had the name "Fredrick Johnson" on it. They called him, asking him to appear at particular police station. They also found the syringe that was used in injecting her and took it to the lab for analysis after having notified the authority.
Fred was worried when they told him to report at the station but he managed to keep cool. On getting there they asked him who he had given his card to but, since he usually gave his card to many people each day, he couldn't answer straight away. They opened a file, brought out a photograph, and asked him to identify Biodun.
Fred's heart jumped into his mouth, but he tried to swallow it. Though scared shitless, he told them who she was and the relationship between them. When they heard all he said the police D.P.O. decided that he was in a position to know what had happened and, without hesitation, explained the unfortunate incident to him. He even gave him the privilege of listening to the confession made by two of the criminals who had assaulted her, though the youngest guy refused to confess. Fred almost passed out while listening to the gory tale. Sweat came out of his body, drenching him, and he became jittery.
"Oh God, I hope she's not dead!" he said in a strangled voice.
"Calm down. She's still in the I.C.U. We need to transfer her to a hospital that has all the necessary facilities to take proper care of her, which is why we have to contact her family and friends as a deposit will be needed," the D.P.O said.
"Okay, okay D.P.O., please transfer her to where she would have the best treatment. I don't bloody care about the money. Her health and life are more important," Fred barked at the officer.
The officer did not, however, take offence. He was quite used to people under stress, so gently he said.
"Take it cool sir, since you guarantee that you will pay we shall transfer her immediately and then you shall see her". Fred told the police man that he would come back and settle their bill at the hospital and, saying this, he rushed out.
On getting home, he was very disturbed.
"God why Abbey, why?" he thought. "What should I do? Should I go and tell Mama what happened or should I not bother? Won't it be too much for the old woman? I'm sure Biodun would not have worried Mama. I will wait till she's out of the I.C.U.," he said to himself.
He opened his drawer, brought out some currency, pocketed it, opened another drawer, removed his withdrawal booklet, and pocketed it as he went outside to his car.
He drove to Biodun's house; on getting there he saw the policemen on duty, showed them his identity card and was allowed inside. He couldn't restrain the tears from falling on getting to the scene of the crime. There he saw Biodun's handbook which was what he was looking for. To avoid raising an alarm he did not call her mum. Rather, he sent a message via his phone to the old woman. He told the woman that Biodun was down with malaria so, Innorie should still be with her for the next two weeks to allow Biodun to rest very well. He also requested for the maid to come home to take care of her, but Innorie should still be with her grandma.
Having finished with the first purpose for his coming, he decided to go to the others. He wondered who was responsible for what had happened to Biodun, though the police thought it was just purely robbery. But he suspected that it might be more than that. He decided to help her arrange her house but he had no soonest started than he realized it was an impossible task since he did not know how things were arranged before. So he just sorted the things into groups, that of sitting room, bed room and so on.
As he took those of the bedroom inside he saw a drawer and, since he did not want to sit on the soiled bed, he sat on the drawer but first he opened it and went through its content. He looked disgustingly at the mattress; he removed it from the bed and laid it on its side. He felt the mattress was not something Biodun should come back home to. He left the room and went back to arranging things.
Two days later, Yejide arrived home but was not allowed inside by the police. She was confused but, mercifully, it Fred had just entered the compound. She ran to greet him and inquired what had happened to her mistress and where she was. Fred did not immediately remember the girl till she told him that she was Biodun's maid.
Fred sadly greeted her and inquired about Innorie and Mama before taking her inside. The girl was looking like a lost sheep when she entered the house.
"What …. happened here?" She stammered.
Fred quietly told her that some night raiders had visited her mistress and beat her, wounding her seriously. He did not bother telling the girl that Biodun was raped. Instead, he said she was beaten. The girl burst into tears, saying she would call to inform Mama.
"No, no," Fred said. "Don't do that; you will only get her worried. So let's get Biodun stronger, and then we shall tell Mama". Then more sternly he said, "You must not under any circumstance tell Mama what has happened. Call her now to inquire after Innorie and tell her you're back home safely, after which you should arrange this house properly, in the evening I will take you to see your mistress." He looked intensely at the young lady until she morosely nodded her head.
With that, he strode out of the house, leaving the maid to arrange things. The girl noticed that there was no mattress in her mistress' bedroom. Maybe it was stolen, she thought as she continued her work.
At the hospital, Biodun had regained consciousness. The police hospital had tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the drug in her system but they could not. They decided to transfer her to Faith Specialist Hospital but Fred felt it was not right, considering that was where she worked. Mercifully, Biodun regained consciousness and, when she was told she might be transferred to Faith, she became alarmed, though she could not fathom why, save that she would be embarrassed. It seemed something was missing as she panicked whenever she heard the hospital's name. Her agitation whenever she heard the name Faith Hospital was puzzling, though Biodun herself couldn't for the life of her remember any reason why she should be agitated or distressed whenever she heard the name of her workplace. To avoid further complications and trauma, the doctors finally allowed Fred to transfer her to another specialist hospital.