The sound of the gun shot was so loud, so alive and so real, that it jolted Naomi back to reality, back to her predicament. Her head shot up slightly, then the pains and body aches followed.
"Naomi what's wrong with you?" She thought and winced at the same time. It was not the time to reminisce, her safety was more important. Gradually, she raised her head higher and looked into the wide clearing ahead. Her eyes spotted a great, white mansion some distance away, at the end of the clearing, but they also spotted something else. There were guards, plenty of them, stationed at strategic posotions. On the roof tops, the front gate and also, she could see images of men moving within the premises. At first she blinked, she was suddenly scared that she might be caught. How was she going to make it past the guards? What if her cover blew? What was she going to do? Well, wasn't that why she was running? On bare foot and tattered clothes? Wasn't that why she was trying to pass herself off as a simple girl who needed help? Wasn't that why she caused her foot to bleed? Her appearance was convincing enough. The only thing left, was for her to get to the gate. She knew that her strength was leaving her, but at the same time, she knew that passing out, right there in the bush, was dangerous. Bad men could happen uppon her and then, that would be the end. No more life, no more revenge. She looked at her surroundings and then looked back at the mansion. She did not like that fear was starting to tug at her heart.
“Better there than here.” She said at last, before pulling her strength together. Finally, she got up.
Her steps faltered and she swayed from left to right. Even though she had trained seriously for that day, her strength was completely drained. She had trained for that day, because she knew she had to get enough stamina to pull through. Unfortunately, her strength seemed to be failing. What kept her going, as she staggered towards the mansion, were flash backs. Flash backs of her parents’ death. Those flashes had hunted her for the whole of her fourteen years, after the incident.
As soon as the gun men completed their mission that day, they went out of the duplex. Little Naomi came out from under the bed. She wanted to go out to look for her father. Fortunately, the open window caught her attention and she looked through it. Below, she saw the men, three of them, standing by their car. They were preparing to leave. Their masks were taken off and she saw their faces. Incidentally, she knew two of them. They were men who once worked for her father, but due to irreconcilable differences, they left her father's employ. Why they decided to come back and kill him, was what she didn't understand. She once called both of them 'uncle,' but when she looked at them again, at that moment, she saw only murderers.
While still watching, Naomi heard them say something about not being able to find the little girl. She knew they were referring to her. The leader of the men then suggested that they burn up the whole house. That way, they would be sure that no one survived. After pouring two gallons of petrol around and inside the duplex, they threw a lighted match stick into the trail of petrol in front of them. The fire leaped happily and licked at the trail of petrol until it got to the house and started the process of razing it and everything inside, to ashes.
Satisfied with what they had done, the men got in their car and drove off. Naomi was in tears. As a little girl who was clueless about what to do, she drew to the far end of the room. From there, she watched her mother's lifeless form. For her, death was the only solution. She didn't think that life was worth living. However, she remembered her mother's last words.
"Stay quiet my dear." her mother had said. "Be quiet and be strong." Those were her words before life was snuffed away from her delicate and beautiful form.
She could be quiet, but strong? She didn't know how to be strong. She didn't even know where to begin. While still contemplating her mother's words, she heard a whimpering sound, just outside her room door. Naomi rushed out, only to find her father trying in pains, to crawl into the room. His shirt was soaked by the side, with his own blood. She knelt by him and held him close, as fresh tears found their way down her cheeks. The sight of her being well and untouched, brought smiles to her father’s lips and happiness could be seen in his eyes.
“You are okay.” He said, almost in a whisper. “Now go on and make me proud. Do what you have to do to survive."
"But I don't know what to do, and I don't want to leave you." Naomi cried.
By then the flames were already spreading wild inside the house, so were the fumes. With his last strength, Naomi's father pulled off the ring in his index finger and gave it to his daughter.
“Wear this.” he said, “Wherever you go, when specific people set eyes on this ring, they will instantly know who you are. And because of that, they will help you with whatever you need."
Naomi was grateful that her father's dying thoughts were solely about her safety, but still, she didn't want to leave him behind. Not like that. However, after wearing the ring, her father forced her to escape through one of the hidden underground exit. When she finally came out from the house, she watched the duplex through tear soaked eyes, as it burnt. Her parents were in the inferno that took over the building but she was too helpless to do anything about it. It was then she vowed. She vowed before the flames and her dead parents that she would avenge their death.
As luck would have it, some of her father's trusted men came over at that time. Learning about what had happened to their boss, they quickly took her to safety, changed her identity and handed over most of her father's wealth to her. They decided that a revenge, well cooked, was what her parents' murderers deserved. Agreeing with them, she undertook severe training on carrying out missions, lessons on self defense, hand to hand combat and handling of weapons. She trained, year in year out. She trained for this moment. She trained to take down the people who murdered her parents.
Bringing her consciousness back to the present, she was already a short distance away from the mansion. The guards spotted her and two of them went ahead to check her out. She continued swaying towards them, until there was no more strength in her. The guards saw her as a weak, harmless girl who was probably running away from something or someone. But before they could get to her, Naomi dropped to the ground. Her head turned, her vision blurred and her body was completely drained. At least the guards had seen her. If they were human beings with feelings of any sort, they wouldn't leave her out there to die. With that last thought in mind, Naomi blanked out.
To be continued...
All Rights Reserved©Karo Oforofuo. April 2015