Tatyana sits down on the edge of the bed and stares at me. “I’m sorry,” she says. I don’t know what she is sorry for.
“Yes, you are,” I say. In spite of my innocent words, realization hits me: she blames herself for not being there with me. That’s all I need to know that I am venting my anger on her. But I shouldn’t. If there is anyone who should know better, it’s me.
“Look, I should have been there, with you,” she says, but I stop her.
“No, don’t blame yourself. It’s how we do things. How we operate. How the mission is done. Can you imagine what would have happened if you were in that car?”
I know she knows I am making sense, but being my partner in murder for the government for the past three years Tatyana had I have developed a sense of responsibility for each other. We have since the first day we met.
3 years ago,
2 Weeks after the fire:
I was at the corner of the common room where we all relaxed doing the imposed whatever-we-liked leisure hour. It was two days after Dr Kong paraded us to the team of experts whom he told of a breakthrough he had made through us, the subjects.
An anorexic, seemingly preteen girl, stumbled into the room looking as confused as though she was a nun who had wandered into a secret bordello in the convent’s basement. She looked emaciated, weak and pallid as though the last time she had had a meal was the last time the World Food Programme was distributing relief food in Turkana. She was in a loosely fitting blue hospital gown, just like mine.
The twenty-two of us were busy either reading comic books, playing PS3, or just watching TV. None of us acknowledged the grand entrée of the undoubtedly malnourished girl except me because I did not like reading children’s books. She stood frozen at the door like a statue, perhaps wondering where to go. What did she expect, this was a church and an usher would show her to her seat?
After a moment of confusion she made a beeline to where I was. I guess it’s because I was looking at her as though she had antennae. I expected her to wobble as she walked, fall severally along the way before she made it to where I was – a scene from the walking dead – but her gait was ramrod straight, as graceful as a deer. She did better for a walking dead person.
I expected “Hi there, I’m Scholar Sticker. Nice to meet you, and you are…” but what I got was punch in my ribs.
“What are you looking at?” she screamed at me.
I felt my ribcage crunch and crumple as several bones cracked and crushed. I saw a gazillion stars and then nothing. It took forever for the haze of delirium to clear, but when the fuzziness paved way for clear vision I saw Miss Scrawny held by one of my rehabbed junkie male friends, Mickey, being restrained not to either come back at me or agitated Sindi who was standing next to me.
I struggled to sit and Mwash, as in Mwangi, helped me up. That’s when Dr Kong stomped in. The room became a morgue. We knew what Bob was capable of doing. But guess we were wrong! The days of rehab were long gone where punishment by Dr Kong was dreaded like the Hell we all are apprehensive of for no apparent reason.
“Guys,” he boomed, “it’s time you learnt to live together. You are family, and children of the same family don’t fight…”
Clink-clink of heels on floor rang out like a gong. A physically fit looking woman in her prime, probably forty-eight, with the face of a carving and legs of a camel walked in. She was in a short skirt, not actually a mini, but short enough, a blazer and a matching top inside. She had that hairstyle that was trending then, copied from a certain anchoress I had seen on TV, Mohawk.
“Meet Princess Julie,” the lady said. “She is the newest addition to the family, be nice to her.” She said it as though this Princess sic Julie was the lastborn she had been expecting for aeons.
Princess my foot, ass actually. But Princess was not my concern. It was the lady. She looked familiar. After racking my brain, I realized that my brain was not all that wired. It was really working. The lady was part of the team of experts Dr Kong had paraded us for.
But still that’s not the point. Point is, on this particular day I met two people whom I was not going to get rid of easily: my partner Tatyana, and Command.