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Aaron Oteze

Aaron, 31, has written two plays, THE CONSPIRACY and MY SWEET SWEET SWEET, both unpublished. Born in Nigeria, Aaron received his B.A. in Visual Arts from the University of Port Harcourt in 1996 and has worked in the ceramics business since 1995, currently as CEO of Barone Ceramics Suleja. He is now in the U.K studying for an M.A in creative writing at the University of Manchester.Although his hobbies include illustrating in ink, writing is closest to his heart.

EMPTY SPACES, his first novel, is unusual in that a poem he has had published with the same title as the book plays an important part in the novel. Aaron is hoping to find a publisher for EMPTY SPACES. Interested parties should contact Aaron direct.


Following is an excerpt from EMPTY SPACES:

Either she had been overcome by sleep all of a sudden, or she had fainted. Nothing else explained why she didn’t know the moment they entered the room until strong hands roughly pulled her off the bed and unto her feet. It was as big a shock as they come, making her alertness hundred percent.

Ice-cold voice spoke.

“Madam, we didn’t find anyone downstairs so we have to search here.”

The steel eyes dissected her. There was not an iota of trust in them. He must know something. She concluded.

“But it isn’t possible that anyone would be in here without my knowing it. This is my room.” It was the only punch she could manage. It made no impact. He reacted to her retort with another sweeping movement of an arm, condemning the room to the fate of the parlor and kitchen downstairs. She realized that it wasn’t her opinion nor her permission he sought when he told her about searching the room. It was ­ in a matter of speaking ­ for the record. She was finished.

The two that had steadied her while their boss addressed her let her be to obey the order they had been given. Her knees wobbled and her legs wouldn’t stay. She crashed to the floor. The commander was watching his boys at work. No apologies.

Trunk boxes sprang open, their contents spilled to the floor. Tables flipped over. Jewelry found their way into pockets. The wardrobe opened.

She remained still in a position reminiscent of a painting. Her face to the floor and her eyes shut tight. Waiting for the moment.

“Madam.” Ice cold voice ­ oh my God! It has happened.

Only her eyes opened. This must have been how Jonah felt when he felt death near.

“We have finished our search. Sorry to have bothered you.”

What was that? They had finished their search? Yes!

That was what he said. He didn’t say anyone had been found, did he? No he didn’t. My God! They didn’t find Adam.

She didn’t mind that the tone of the commander had been sorry instead that their search had not yielded fruit. That they had actually searched the room and not found their man was too much of a luxury she couldn’t bring herself to indulge until the searchers had left. It was unbelievable.

The painting remained, staring wide eyed at the floor, waiting for the sound of jackboots to leave. No muscle of hers twitched.

Gradually (as if they were reluctant to leave) the exodus began and stopped abruptly. The reason was a thud that rent through the air.

She jerked her head sharply in the direction from where the sound had come. It was the wardrobe. The soldiers had opened it but had not moved it. It was now obvious there was another being in the room besides the soldiers and her.

What would happen now? Her eyes switched to the commander’s and ushered in untold fear sent by the evil gloat she saw in his. She knew that he now knew what she had prayed with all her might that he should never know.

An evil smile formed across his lips and he walked purposely with gun in hand, towards the wardrobe.

A rat! A stupid, Godforsaken little rat was going to be the cause of his death. Adam hadn’t known it ­ not that it would have made much difference ­ but his hiding place was also the abode of a rodent. All the while the search had been going on, he had been still as a statue. His legs were badly positioned but he endured the pain. He had to.

The sound of things being thrown about and then of the voices of those he was hiding from brought about a sudden and powerful urge to urinate. That was something he also had to endure. He couldn’t hold his breath well enough while the search lasted. He was waiting for the slightest sign of the wardrobe being shifted and then die.

There was a sudden lull. It had to mean that they had finished their search. He hoped with all his might and some. A few seconds more and he knew there was no need to hope. They were leaving. The boots were shifting and he could tell that it was out.

That was the moment he chose to adjust his legs.

Unfortunately.

The rat had not protested when the human invaded its privacy. It may have, in fact, understood the gravity of the situation for it remained as still as the intruder. Entering ones home uninvited was one thing but being stepped on was a step too far and it squeaked in pain, wriggled free and made a dash through a little hole at the base of the wardrobe.

It’s own entrance.

Adam, whose nerves were on edge, had been just as startled as the rodent and he reacted by taking off quickly, the offensive foot. In doing so, he kicked against the wardrobe.

If the search had still been on, with all the noise that accompanied it, maybe, just maybe the thud of foot against wood would have been missed. There had been relative silence when it happened. Every other sound had been subtle and his was clearly distinct.

All maybes were ruled out.

He could not hear the boots leaving anymore. They had stopped. Trouble.

He already felt the merciless uncountable blows he was sure to receive from his eager beaver predators. If he was lucky and they really weren’t in a killer mood ­ which was close to impossible for trigger happy teenage soldiers who would kill without bother for two wraps of boiled sweets ­ he would survive the beating and be taken back to prison where he would be shot anyway. So much for luck.

“I am going to die,” He thought.

It was quite an effort to still his trembling limbs. Hands clasped tightly behind his neck helped to ease things a bit.

Why were they taking so long to pull down the wardrobe and drag him to his hell? Or had they missed the thud?

Had they gone? He heard laughter and footsteps approach at that instant and everything was let loose, including his bowels. Urine, tag-teaming with sweat that had broke out all over his body to soak his trousers thoroughly. It wasn’t the wisest of things to sob, but it couldn’t be helped.

The steps approaching were not heavy. It was like whoever it was was tiptoeing gradually. Step, step, step, nearer the wardrobe.

“Remember, tomorrow will always come.” Favorite words of advice for him from uncle Chindu, the wise old sage he always went to when problems were up to the chin.

Another countered that. “Everything ends today.” The least comforting of words to flash across his mind but it only seemed logical that his belief pitches its tent there.

The footsteps reached the wardrobe and hands took over. It triggered off a fresh round of sobbing that would leave no one in doubt as to the existence of someone hiding within the room. The wardrobe shifted a little, allowing a little light through the slit. His position was gradually being exposed.

It was quite an effort for who it was moving the wardrobe. Maybe if he helped from within it might soften their hearts. A very stupid thought and he knew it too but it was the only idea left from possibilities of saving his neck, which he had weighed since the vermin made him give away his position.

He was sniffling away now. How they would laugh when they found him crying like a baby. He actually felt like a seven-year-old who was about to get the beating of his life from teenage bullies. The little twist in the reality of his situation was the finality of it. He wouldn’t live to tell a soul. Short or long run.

The wardrobe shifted again, allowing more light seep into the dark enclave that was about to be exposed in a matter of seconds. His tear soaked face buried itself in his joined palms. Rather he felt what was coming than see it coming. Never had he regretted more, the wishes of Father Ikolti. The little fish that wouldn’t do as it was bid.

Oh God, if you spare my life, I promise to serve you forever and ever.

The wardrobe shifted again, creating a gap wide enough for a lanky fellow to squeeze through. He wasn’t looking, but he knew for certain that he was being looked at. The sneer he imagined in the face of whoever was looking was devilish. May it only be pushes and shoves back to prison, Amen.

His mind transformed the imagined amusement of his looker into laughter and it almost busted his eardrums.

The wardrobe shifted some more and he braced himself for the first blow which would make the introduction for the other million and five that he would have to endure or die from. If it were a squad that was out for quick sentencing, it wouldn’t matter how long he held out. They wouldn’t stop till the blow that divorced his soul from his body landed.

The wardrobe shifted yet again. If it wasn’t going to be a blow that starts it, he would feel a vice like grip squeeze his shirt by the collar and pull him out so that as many soldiers as were out there could have access to his body. He waited.

“Adam?” It was the voice of the Madam.


For more information, please e-mail Aaron Oteze

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