2017 AMAB/HBF Flash Fiction Competition | Shortlisted Story - The Last Man Standing By Deborah Oluniran | The Arts-Muse Fair

The Last Man Standing by Deborah Oluniran

2am, December 2050

"Come back quick, husband. It seems the baby wants to join us for Christmas." Ibidun would 
calmly say with a smile in her voice
"I'll be home soon. Five minutes, tops."
He would jump down from the plane; it would still be here tomorrow.
He would only have to walk down the street before he would find a car he could loan for the night.
He would be wearing a polo shirt, 3-quarter shorts and a smile, which would turn to a scowl soon.
Nigeria, security would be tight. He would jog across the road and almost run into a police van. 
They would hit the break hard and park.
"I'm sorry, I'm in haste." he would try to hurry on but a strong hand would hold him back.
"You almost got us killed. You didn't look at the road before crossing.
"Are you a terrorist, or a thief?" the other officer would say, looking at his tennis and Rolex, 
tasting doubt in his own mouth.
"You’ll have to come with us to the station, sir.”
"For questioning."
"But I don't have time. My wife...."
"It's nothing; just routine procedure."



"Can I go now? My wife needs me..."
"No, you can rest here."
"Wife. I have one too and she needs me but I'm here."
"We have cells for #45,000 I think that's the least."
"Do you want AC, tiled floor? Anything."
He would swallow whatever smart ass comment he was going to make, he would also try to 
pretend that renting out cells to suspects was normal but this was Nigeria, still developing after 
80 years.
His phone would vibrate again. Eighteen missed calls.
“Take all my money. Just let me go, my wife is in Labour."
They would take offense and accuse him of bribery and scowl at the wad of dollars on the table.
"Dollar has no use here. We only collect naira notes."
He would beg them to allow him go home and return in the morning but they would stare
at him as if he had asked what  their bra sizes are.
"This is actually legal?" He would wave his hands encompassingly.
"Yes sir. We treat you like a suspect, you're not a criminal. Yet. You're our guest here."
Ironically, they would lead him to a small bench outside and make him sleep there, cuffed 
to the chair, since he couldn't  pay for any of the executive cells.
He would wake up in the morning with chest pain and rheumatism. They would return his jacket and phones to him. They would also make the mistake of slipping a sheet of paper to him.
"Statement, sir."
He would be too broken to protest. He would not know whether Ibidun survived last night or
He would gladly take the pen and pour out his pain.
"Did you maybe go through my papers? The experiments and all that is in that folder? My 
phones?" He would ask with a voice devoid of emotion.
"I glanced through. But you have not proved it yet. Dude thinks his emotions while he writes his stories literally affect the characters, more so if he uses non fictional character."
"That's the theory."
They would laugh and shake their heads. They would pat their big tummies and hit each other 
hard on the back as they laugh
"Are you afraid of death, officers?' He would ask them. The reception would be getting crowded by now. Officers would  come to change shifts with those that had night duties.
They would laugh again, this time banging their fists on the table and closing their eyes tight in 
Ibikunle would smile. His legs would hurt and breathing would be laborious but his heart would 
ache most.
He would write.
"If it works, you'll die first. It will start as a mild cough until you can no longer breath. Ten 
minutes later, you'll join him..I'll count 1 to 19 and we'll start."
And he would start counting.

December 23 2060

Ibikunle would be sitting in a tiny cell with not enough legroom. His legs would be hanging on either sides of the bench as he thought. The steaming plate of fried rice and chicken they served him today would be left untouched. When one would be in the kind of situation Ibikunle is now, one would find food unattractive.
Tomorrow would make it 10 years since he has been here. He would have missed 10 of Dunni's birthday, if she lived. They would still not allow him contact home. Ibidun; He would not be able to tell if she was all right or not. They would consider him dangerous and unstable and keep him away from 'home.' What breaks a man faster than loneliness? It's not good for man to be alone. He would have been feeling alone since the night he touched down.
He would run mad today and they would have to knock him out and bind him with chains. He could survive not seeing his family; they couldn't take them away from his heart. He could bear not eating. What is food? He could bear almost anything but he couldn't bear this one thing.
Two weeks later,

He would be in his cell, gradually disappearing. The muscles on his shoulder would shoot out, almost reaching his chin. He would scratch his hair and pull off a handful. He would sometimes dust freckles of his skin from his shorts
They took the last sheet of paper he hid in his boxers. They would think they have won but right there, under the bench, would hide tiny markings here and there. Little wonder, whenever the guards came to check on him, he would not stand up.
They would not kill him or starve him. They would want him to expire; disappear into the cell. He would be smarter; he would write a story for himself with his own blood.