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IRON BOY (1 OF 4)

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Part 1 of 4

Malik Asala moved hapazardly. He jostled the key into his door knob, and adjusted himself to open the door to his apartment. He was returning from Casper’s. The co-worker invited him to his house for a “small dinner and conversation”.

Malik struggled to breathe. He was now inside his two-bedroom apartment and all he needed was to get to his refrigerator for water. His stomach started to churn immediately he left Casper’s place, and he knew there was something not quite right.

He let out three deep coughs when he finally clutched the door of the refrigerator.

Oh Jesus!, what is happening to me? He cried.

He struggled for a bottle of water and gulped it down quickly. After convulsing like a man possessed, he slumped onto the floor. The churning in his stomach was now escalating into an excruciating pain. He was struggling just to move.

He took in deep breaths on the floor, followed by coughing that brought out blood. He coughed again, and again, and more blood oozed.

And then it hit him!

I am dying. I have been poisoned

His brain knew what was going on in his digestive and respiratory systems. If only I could get my hands on a solution of vinegar, potassium hydroxide with a tint of peppermint. Of course, he knew he was not going to be able to get those materials.

A better idea hit him. He reached for his cell phone from his left pocket. He checked the blurred time and put #192 for the Tamale General Hospital on redial. After many attempts, no one picked. Malik dropped the cell phone and rolled on the floor in pain.

      I am not ready to die. Not today.

He resolved. Malik mustered the strength left in him and slithered painfully towards his working desk. He struggled to sit on the chair behind his desk, logging onto his laptop and deftly adjusting an iron helmet with connecting wires onto his pulsating head.

Malik rested on the chair for a minute. He wondered who to call? His mother? No. Too much beef between them? His father? Dead seven years ago. His only friend Jaraya? Hmmm. His boss?

At twenty-seven, Malik considered himself quite handsome and his colleagues thought he was a genius. As senior IT officer at Abanga Industries in Tamale, he was hated by many for being “too-know”, but loved by a significant few for his solutions approach to work – Jaraya, among them, and more importantly the owner of the company with whom he was developing a secret prototype that would take over the world.

As he entered passwords laboriously on the keyboard, his mind went back three days earlier. He was unexpectedly confronted with information that could potentially damage the reputation of Abanga Industries, or threaten the freedom and job of the perpetrator of the situation, Casper. And so the condemned co-worker had invited him to his house for some “small dinner and conversation” to see the way forward.

And so it came to pass…

      Casper. O Casper. What have you done to me? Is this the payment for my principles? Malik cried as he struggled with the contraption on his head. When it was firmly fixed, he allowed himself to slip back onto the bloody floor. He managed to finish keying in his commands: I-R-O-N-UNDERSPACE B-O-Y HASHTAG.

This has to work, he prayed. He’s been working on this technology these past seven years. He sighed painfully from relief as he heard the dull fluttering sound of a flying machine floating in the corner of the room. It was the black kite-shaped drone levitating in the air. He watched it through cloudy eyes as it hovered beneath the ceiling.

Forgive me Mom. I should have taken your advice, Malik cried.

He scrolled down the options and selected ‘06031957’. And then he pressed vehemently on the ENTER key of the keyboard; instantaneously there was a surge of electrical pulse from the helmet into the laptop’s CPU. Now, he was ready for the come-what-may. He let himself go and he allowed death to transit him to the other side.


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