Henry woke up the next morning with his head aching , he turned and turned around his bed as the worries he slept with resumed in his mind. Tarasha had instructed him like a boss, to visit the NSCC Headquarters and restore her deactivated account. He didn’t know what to do. He was faced with two choices that morning, leave the house and visit the NSCC office to restore her deactivated account or leave the house and never return. Tarasha had warned that he shouldn’t play any games and Henry took the second option as trying to play a game. She had threatened him death if he played any game with her. But what was he even living for? He had nothing to lose if he was killed, the only person he pitied was his mother who was already in distress because of the happenings and would be thrown into sorrow for the rest of her life when she gets the news of his death. There were no two ways about, Henry was sure Tarasha would kill him as she said, the look in her eyes when she said it was already enough to kill a frightened person.
He turned on the light behind him and rolled to the edge of the bed. He put his legs down and buried his face in his palms. He began to utter some words of prayer under his breath and it became louder as time went on. He prayed for fifteen minutes which seemed about an hour before he got up from the bed and headed for the bathroom. It was just 5:50am but he needed to start early and so he did.
Stainless yawned for the umpteenth time as he turned the car into the final route which led to the house. He had never driven from Lagos to Abuja before but that wasn’t what made the journey so strenuous, the fact that the journey was overnight was his greatest challenge. He had thought at some point that he’ll sleep off on the wheel and the vehicle would crash, killing them all but sleep never took control of him. Rex had been right when he said it was impossible for him (Stainless) to sleep after being injected with a substance which Rex provided.
Stainless could see Cole deep asleep at the backseat through the mirror, the guy seated at the front with him was also deep asleep. Only Rex was awake with him all through the journey. He didn’t see Rex take inject the substance into his (Rex) own body, so he wondered how Rex was able to keep awake without doing anything half of the time.
Rex pushed a button on the remote control and the gates of the house opened as the car approached. They drove in and parked the car at the right space. Cole and the fourth man had woken up while the car was being driven into the compound.
‘The NSCC starts it’s operation by 8am,’ Rex began to talk for the first time since they began the journey of over seven hours. He paused briefly to check the time on his phone. It was 5.52am. ‘We can still rest for one and a half hour, you can enter into the building if you want.’ he added. He adjusted his position on the seat and took in a deep breath before he rested his head backwards and closed his eyes.
Jumoke woke up to find Dave sleeping peacefully beside her. She didn’t bother herself with the thought of how he got in or whether she locked the door before she slept or not, she was used to finding him by her side that way. She stretched her hand from where she lay and turned on the light in the room.
She slipped out of the blanket and put on her slippers, taking off her night gown as she walked towards the wardrobe. She dropped the gown into basket, leaving only her pant and bra on. She looked at the rope hanging above her head and searched around for her towel, it seemed to have been moved away from where she hung it. She turned back and saw it hanging on the headboard, Dave must have used it to dry his body. She turned back towards the wardrobe and took off the clips of her bra from behind, she removed it and tossed it into the same basket she put the night gown. Then she took off her panties in the same way and dropped it in the same place. She met Dave’s eyes scrutinizing her body as she turned to get the towel. She couldn’t see his face well because the full lights were not on but she could imagine the look on it.
‘Holy Moses! I thought you were asleep,’ she said as she rushed to where the towel was. Dave looked away.
‘I was asleep,’ he answered. ‘I just opened my eyes at the right time to see something pleasant this morning,’ he added, licking his lips lustfully. ‘It’s a pity you don’t have time this morning, I can see you are already preparing to go to the hospital.’ he said and turned his face back to her.
‘Yes. Ain’t you going out this morning?’ Jumoke asked, she already had the towel wrapped around her waist.
‘I would be but I’m expecting a call first,’ he answered. ‘Or should I join you, so we can have our bath together? Recently, I’ve felt the need for someone to help me scrub my back,’ he offered.
Jumoke gave him a funny look. ‘Are you really sure you want to bath? Or you want to do something else?’
‘I just want to have an innocent bath, you could bath me like a baby, you know.’ he said naughtily.
She chuckled. ‘ Stop acting funny this morning. What do you want the neighbours to say when they hear voices in the bathroom.’
‘What voices are they going to hear? Isn’t it just like a mum bathing her child?’
‘Of course, they’re not going to hear the voices of a mum bathing her child. They are going to hear the voices of two naughty adults playing a dirty game at the wrong place,’ she said and marched out without waiting for his reply.
Dave stared at the door in her absence, his mind drifted to their discussion the day before. He knew she still had something to hide and that he had to discover as soon as possible.
His phone rang as he was about to cover himself with the sheets again. He hurried out of the bed and reached for his phone. He checked the screen to see the caller after getting it, it was a unidentified number. Dave took in a breath and silently prayed that it was the call he was expecting. Then he answered and placed it to his ear, waiting for the caller to speak first.
‘Hi Dave, it’s Stephanie. You asked me to call you,’ the voice sounded. An answer to Dave’s silent prayer.
He took in another silent breath before talking. ‘Good morning Steph, thanks for calling. Sorry, I couldn’t meet you in the hospital before you were discharged but we need to see as soon as possible. How do we fix that?’
‘Can you come to this hotel by 11am today?’
’11am is okay, I’ll be there. Can I reach you on this phone number?’
‘No, you can’t. It’s my mum, I’ve not been given mine yet. I think the police told her not to give me yet,’ Stephanie said. She seemed to pause to think for a while, ‘Well, just come and meet me at the hotel restaurant by 11am. If you don’t find me there, book a table and wait for me, okay?’
‘Okay, it’s a date then.’ Dave said, smiling and chuckling so loud so that she could feel the effect in his voice.
He returned to the bed, feeling relieved but as soon as he closed his eyes and took in a breath of warm air, another set of things to worry about struck his mind. He remembered his commitment to the NSCC and how he had been away for days without any explanation. He had to come up with something – a reasonable excuse- and return there the next day at most. He also remembered his new commitment to the Chairman, his boss at the NIS. He was now mandated to always submit reports for the police’s use frequently and though he didn’t buy the idea, he had to agree so as not to be forced to transfer the case to someone else. He wondered how he was going to fulfill that part of the agreement and knew that he couldn’t. There was no way he could possibly give details to the police when he knew the police were insincere about the case because of the Inspector General’s involvement in it. He had to find a way to play along until he gets to the end of the case, so as to ensure justice is done.
Tarasha watched Henry’s car pull over at the front of some buildings away from the NSCC Headquarters building. She was forced to monitor through his own account and also begin her work of tracking her attackers in Lagos. Don was dead now and there was no one else she was certain was connected to him. She knew about Stainless but the only person that could ascertain Stainless’ involvement was Cole who was being held captive in the enemies’ camp.
For some minutes, Henry’s car was static. The engine had been turned off and the window to the driver’s side wound down. She believed he was thinking of what to do or possibly praying like he always did. She almost regretted sending him at that point, he was inexperienced and could get himself in trouble with the security. She knew that it could lead them to her operation base but that wasn’t her main concern, it was his safety. It bothered her mind so much in a way it shouldn’t, she wasn’t supposed to feel sorry for him at all. It was meant to be a punishment for him and whatever he found at it, even it was death was to be taken by him without complains but now, she was the one complaining to herself in her mind about the punishment.
She had kept a tracker at the tip of his trousers without letting him know. She also had a tiny voice transmitter which was clipped into his collar.
She exited the cameras on his car and navigated to check the surroundings. It was usual and nothing different about it.
Henry finally stepped out of the car after five minutes of thinking and mumbling words under his breath. He straightened his shirt and checked his reflection at glass of the backseat window. Tara had done a good job to his face with the disguise, even he couldn’t recognize whose reflection he was seeing.
He began his walk to the NSCC gate with slow steps which increased in speed as he proceeded. He flashed back to his brief time of working there and smiled to himself. Life was unpredictable, few months ago he was working at the NSCC and providing information to the police, committed to finding and stopping Samantha Osman but now he was on the other side, being sent an errand by the same person he was working tirelessly to bring down. What had happened? He asked himself. The answer came almost immediately. Love. Love with the wrong person, was it? No, it wasn’t. There was always a reason for love and he didn’t choose to, it just happened.
He got to the NSCC gate after two minutes of walking, he could feel the pistol given to him by Tara. It was tucked into his trouser by the side and hidden under his shirt. He had not handled a gun before but she had a quick lesson with him that morning. He was also given some pins arranged neatly in a leather material which was like a wallet. The pins were so many that he couldn’t count, arranged side by side without spaces. She had told him it contained eighty and taught him how to remove one at a time without getting pierced by it, that would mean disaster for him as he would sleep off at the spot. She had also taught him how to suspend bullets in the gun and released the tranquilizing pins to a target when necessary. He was sure he wasn’t going to use the bullets anyway, he preferred to be caught than being a murderer. She taught him all these and showed him more than he expected, although she didn’t tell him when to use the tools, he believed she wanted him to use his discretion. But he was still surprised that she had taught him anything at all that morning. He never expected any help from her. It seemed like the night had worked a magic on her and her anger with him had faded off. He could see it in her eyes that she wished he shouldn’t go but was just too stubborn to swallow back her words. Or maybe it was just his thinking.
He pushed the button at the NSCC gate and the gate bell sounded, a security man appeared almost immediately.
‘Hello, what can I do for you?’
Henry trembled. He recognized the man and prayed the man did not recognize him with the way he was been stared at.
‘I’m Hen… I’m Steve, a private investigator.’ he almost fumbled. He hadn’t thought of a name to use when he was strategizing.’I’ve come to see…’ the security man opened the gate before he finished talking. He stepped into the compound and paused to look around, nothing had changed since the last time he remembered being in there.
‘Just walk down straight,’ the security man directed him, thinking he didn’t know the way.
‘Thank you,’ he replied and walked on.
‘Chief Gabriel,’ Chief Nonso called happily as he entered into the living room. Chief Gab was seated on the left side of the three seater with his legs crossed in his Agbada.
‘Chief Nonso,’ he called back cheerfully and stood up as the latter approached him. They embraced briefly and patted each other at the back before taking their seats.
‘Wow! It’s nice to have you back,’ Chief Nonso said as he sank into the one seater adjacent to Chief Gab.
‘Yeah, it’s nice to be back even though it’s for a very short time,’ Chief Gab replied.
‘How long are you planning to stay?’
‘I don’t know for sure but I’ll be going back as soon as I get all the documents I’m here for,’ he answered.
‘Wow!’ He exclaimed and then turned to look around briefly. ‘Why does it look like you’ve increased the number of boys surrounding you?’ Chief Nonso said in a playful voice, laughing heartily. ‘I almost turned back because of their very strong faces.’
‘Haha!’ Chief Gab joined in the laughter. ‘You know I have to be very careful and security conscious. I have to surround myself with boys that brings fear to the heart of enemies.’
Two guys entered the living room, each carrying a tray containing a bottle of wine and a glass cup. They served the two men the cold drink on separate footstools and walked out of the place. The men continued their discussion after the boys left.
‘So, how is Nigeria doing?’ Chief Gab asked, after taking in a sip of the cold drink.
‘As it always does,’ Chief Nonso replied, his cup still in his hand and on its way to his mouth.
‘Well, I’ve not been away for too long anyway and I always keep myself updated.’ Chief Gab said as he took another sip.
‘So, Chief, what’s happening with Samantha Osman?’ Chief Nonso asked, changing his seating position and putting on a serious look.
‘That’s one of the major reasons I am here,’ Chief Gab sounded serious also.
‘It’s really important, I don’t really understand what’s going on anymore. We keep hearing about her doing other things other than the work she’s supposed to do.’
‘I called her this week though I never told her of my coming, I’ll make sure I see her before going back.’
‘That would be the best thing to do.’ Chief Nonso cleared his throat. ‘Very soon, people would start declaring their desire to contest for the upcoming elections and our plan is to finish up all the works we gave her before the primaries. ‘
‘Well, I believe she’ll finish up before then. You know it’s not really easy. Killing high profiled people back to back is not something the security forces would take as casual. I think they are ones giving her problems. And I also think I made a mistake on my part, I should have put Don Dan in his place first. He tried to disturb her and I’m sure that’s the reason she killed him. I should have settled that myself long ago.’
‘We just have to hurry her up, I don’t want anything to disturb our chances in the upcoming elections.’
‘It won’t, you just continue with the other plans. Things are going to work out perfectly well,’ Chief Gab said.
‘You have less than an hour to work once we give you the signal to start,’ Rex said to Cole who was as seated with him at the front seat, Stainless and another person was at the backseat. ‘Remember we’ve got eyes on you, don’t try to play smart.’
‘Okay,’ Cole replied. ‘Am I free to go now?’
‘Yes, you are.’ Rex answered without looking at him, staring out blankly through the front glass. Cole opened the door and stepped out, he strapped on his backpack and took in a breath of fresh air. Stainless and the other guy at the backseat also stepped out. Stainless joined Rex at the front while the other guy stood beside Cole.
The vehicle drove away at once leaving Cole and his partner on the spot. Cole glanced at his partner and heaved a sigh, he glanced at the road again and then to his partner again. ‘Let’s go,’ he said, looking out for cars before crossing the road. His legs felt heavy as they both made use of the zebra crossing lines but his heart felt heavier, he was on an errand that could destroy Tarasha totally if it was successful.