Remi has a simple, easily predictable lifestyle.
As a working class woman, the official closing time from work is 5pm. So once it’s 5 on the dot, she’s done for the day, and thats it.
With about 15 minutes needed to pack her things together and get to the parking lot, she’s always out of the company building by 5:15pm.
She immediately turns right, and driving at a constant speed of 50kph, it takes her 20 minutes to get home. Exactly 20 minutes.
And then she pulls into the driveway, gets her house keys and walks up to the porch, house keys in her left hand. By 5:37pm on workdays, she’s to be found in front of her house, unlocking the door and slipping inside.
She doesn’t go anywhere on weekends, except when she has to replenish her store of foodstuff and that occurs every third weekend, during the market days.
You see, Remi’s life is quite nice and cozy, comforting in it’s consistency. So today, like every other workday, she’s at the door by 5:37pm, just turning the lock when she hears a rustle. She doesn’t pay it much attention, infact she doesn’t pay it any attention. She knows the neighbours have a pet of some sort, and it’s most likely the animal was slinking about in the decorative shrubbery. Nothing to bother about. How much damage could it do?
It’s at that precise moment that she feels the touch of something cold and heavy in her side. Involuntarily, she is rooted to the spot, quaking with fear. Her eyes travel slowly downwards and she finds a gun pressed nicely to her waist. Like it wants to give her a big hug. Muzzle-first.
Shielded between her lithe frame and the stranger holding it, the gun isn’t obvious to anyone nearby, and besides, she hadn’t gone to any trouble trying to establish any level of camaraderie with her neighbors.
They wouldn’t even notice if she went missing. The thought hits her like a brick between the eyes. Unbidden, a hot tear makes it’s way out and trickles down her cheek.
The stranger holding a gun to her side orders her with a rough voice:
“Lock the door and come with me, no funny business now. I don’t want to have to do anything stupid.”
Docile, fearful, she obeys, twisting the key in the lock and hearing the sharp ‘click’ as the tumblers slip back into place, the door once again, locked.
With that sound, all hope abandons her.
She’s walking quietly towards her car, destination unknown when she sees her new neighbor wave to her. He’s a handsome, muscular young man, about the same grade with her. Sometimes he waved to her when he saw her over the shrubbery. Often he’d shout a greeting. But she’s never replied a greeting before, and not replying one now wouldn’t be anything new. She prays fervently in her heart that he notices something out of the ordinary. That he calls her back. Anything.
But nothing happens. She’s in front of her car now. When suddenly she hears
“Hello sir, do I know you?” She turns quickly. It’s her neighbor and he’s talking to the stranger.
“No sir, you don’t. I’m Remi’s brother, and I need to take her back home.”
“Back home? She lives here.”
“I mean ‘home’ home. Our mum is sick and she’s been wanting to see Remi for so long. It’s been a while since they’ve spoken. So I’m taking her home to see mummy.”
Time passes as her neighbor considers this tale. Meanwhile Remi is firmly chanting in her head- Please don’t believe him, please don’t believe him, please don’t believe him, please don’t believe-
The neighbor nods, apparently satisfied. So the stranger steers her away from safety. Her eyes widen.
Suddenly, like a cat, he pounces at the stranger and knocks him down, slamming his hand once, twice to the ground. He loses his hold of the weapon. Then his head follows, with one heavy hit against the pavement, the stranger is unconscious.
“Call 911. Do it quick woman, before he comes around.” Even as he talks, he’s producing something shiny from his pocket. It’s a pair of handcuffs. He snaps them around the strangers wrist.
Task complete, he turns to give Remi a long hard look.
“I’m Chibuzor by the way, your new neighbor. It would do you a fair bit of good to be more friendly to people in the future.”
Soon the police men arrive and bundle the suspect. Chibuzor exchanges a few words with the officers, they salute him and come for her. A few questions and then it’s all over.
Later that week, she gets the details. The stranger was interrogated and the police are able to get his house address. They get a warrant and go in for a search. His house is covered with photos. Photos of Remi. Leaving her car. Entering her car. Eating at a restaurant. Talking to a guy. The guy’s face is peppered with holes, holes made by something being jabbed into the picture repeatedly. There’s a pencil nearby. The photos are all tagged with time slots. 4pm. 3:13pm. 12pm.
When she sees the picture evidence, she confirms that yes, at that precise time, she was doing just that.
But that’s not even the most disturbing thing. Far from it.
In the bedroom, there’s a full wardrobe of clothes, all her exact size. Shoes too. And underwear. Fancy, lace stuff. The windows are covered with thick red drapes. There’s scented candles at every point in the room. Small heart-shaped pillows litter the place.
There’s a sheer nightgown laid on the thick king-size bed in the center of the room. It’s almost transparent, doesn’t really cover anything.
In one of the locked drawers, they find a wrap of cocaine and several packs of condoms and lubricant. Several ‘toys’ are there too. Things would have gone real bad for her if she had been taken back there. But she got lucky.
Thanks to a neighbor who just wouldn’t mind his own business.