He walked past a white building at the corner, the same one he passed every day. The same one with the cats, about eight of them in number. The night was the same as every other, some cats ran into the bush next to the house, three into the dumpster. Few sat still, like a man who peed in his pants awaiting the opening of the ground.
His steps were slower this night or not? It all felt so different, it all looked the same. Same route, same night, same cats, same houses, same person who incessantly ignored the periodic, infuriating ‘Don’t walk at night,’ speech.
“I have to go home this night,” he thought to himself. He had an exam the next day, he had to battle calculus; his nemesis. He needed to prepare, his last preparation before war. Something told him to turn back, he was only a few minutes away from his friend’s house. They weren’t sleeping, he just left there. Was it instinct? Was it fear? Was it reasoning?
“It’s the same as every other night, nothing to fear,” he reassured himself over and over as if repeating it multiple times would convince him of it. He had taken more than just a few steps from George’s house now, he couldn’t go back anymore; he would look stupid. He kept putting one leg in front of the other, every step, a little more anxiously than the former, every step became anticipatory. He stopped, looked around, up at the sky, down and around again. He now had enough courage to go, he took two steps more before he could take the next, his heart missed a beat. He saw it running at him.
He turned his face away in fear. He didn’t feel the need to run, if this was going to be it, let it be. But he was really scared, his heart beat changed to a completely different rhythm. Time seemed to stand still as if he was in a trance and he waited. Nothing happened, he slowly turned his head back to the point of the imminent doom. Clang! The dog was pulled back by the metal chain that bound it, a mere inches away from him. The dog barked, ran around, barked with more vigour and then started growling.
It was but a chained dog, something Phillip would have known had he not been swimming in a pool of fear all night.
“It’s that stupid dog,” he said, more in relief than anger.
There was a moment of silence, then clattering. The dog was trying to break free. It moved around in circles, giving itself momentum, then ran at Phillip again. It really didn’t like Phillip, the feeling was mutual. Phillip hated this black beast, with its eyes always glowing at night. He walked close to the dog with confidence, induced by the fact that he knew it was chained.
“c’mon, come!” he said in a loud voice that was swallowed up by the emptiness of the night. He stamped his right foot hard against the hard concrete ground and continued his journey.
He smiled, putting his hands in his pockets. If this was the danger that loomed, it had been averted.
Few minutes later, as he walked, lights from the headlamps of a fast approaching vehicle blinded him. He turned his face away. As the car came closer, it decelerated and finally came to a halt right in front of him.
“Hope this dude isn’t going to ask me about any place, I really don’t have time for that this night,” he said, almost inaudibly. The window rolled down and a man’s face appeared out of the rolled down window. A black man, a really dark one. He would be virtually unnoticeable in a dark room. He was that dark. The man thundered in a voice that had a hint of South African accent,
“I said get it.”
The back seat’s window wound down to reveal a nozzle, a gun’s nozzle. Then another voice, this one sounding Nigerian, saying softly yet sounding so intimidating,
“You wouldn’t want him to repeat that.”
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