THE ANGEL AND THE FUGITIVE – CHAPTER SIX PART B
© Reginald Obetta
The new day broke, Tafa woke up in seventh heaven, his previous night was an indelible moment. Unsurprisingly, the brotherhood took care of his financial needs and provided new set of clothes that laid on the empty sofa, his name printed on the card boldly. It consisted of a customised blazer jacket, Italian suits, chinos and numerous shirts. He hadn’t realised this till he made sure he wasn’t dreaming, he was in complete awe of what he saw. Rogers had gone out already as he normally does especially on Mondays, he sprang to his feet to have his bath and shave, after he remembered he had a class meeting to attend.
His amazing new appearance bewildered most campus students walking at different paces to their respective destinations, many reasons were given for that, with some concluding that he was no longer a believer, that he was the “new boy ” of the supposed cultist group. Tafa was fully aware of the straying eyes but continued to walk briskly, till he stumbled on Rita, chatting up with her friends who looked unrecognizable to her like the rest at first. Her friends were equally amazed and exchanged greetings with Tafa, before he faced Rita.
“Hello Rita, how are you?” Tafa first greeted, that was the first time he spoke to her since the funeral.
“What a surprise? Barely recognized you. You are looking ok, good to see you have let bygones be bygones”
“Yes, I had to let the pain of yesterday go, start up well today to ensure a brighter tomorrow. ”
“Good to hear that. I didn’t see you in church yesterday, and in the midweek service, what’s happening?”
“It’s nothing, just that I have found a new faith, and discovered a new self”
“What new faith? There is none except the one in God”
“There is and I was made to discover it. I still believe in God, but a different one entirely. I believe in the god in me, in myself”
“That is blasphemy Tafa. What has really come over you? Or have you lost what you have believed in since you were little? Or have you? ”
“Have you joined them Tafa? Have you joined those unbelievers, those ruthless Savage beings on campus? ”
“And of what good is it if I don’t join them? Your God has failed me, I wasn’t prospering but now I am, I was miserable but not anymore. Like I said, I believe in a new god, I will be late for my meeting, please excuse me.”
Tafa kept walking without looking back on her, the way he talked to her when he looked in her eyes were gone. Rita knew his faith had been tampered, that was what led him to join a group he preaches against all the time, now she could do nothing to stop him, but at least to try one more, she wouldn’t lose Tafa, a big asset in God’s Vineyard to those unbelievers, whom she greatly despise. The sect had a strong record of not letting members pullout, which of course, is an act punishable by death. She excused from her friends and went to the restroom, poured her heart out and prayed for Tafa to unite with his former faith.
Once, the President ordered more deployment of a platoon of army officers in all school and varsity in order to detect and prevent any foreseeable attack from the insurgents and also, shoot at them at foresight if they couldn’t be caught. Each of them patrolled on campus, day and night. Tafa was ignorant of this as he was on his way back to his room, he soon got a call from Rogers, demanding him to get to their usual meeting crib, they had a complicated mission to deal with.
“I will be there in a jiffy with no hassle”, just then he noticed he was been followed by one of those soldiers directly behind him while he was flanked by two others and when he asked Rogers what he needed to do, Tafa was advised to retain his composure and act cool, which he didn’t like because he hated been followed like a suspect unnoticed, moreover, he was followed by people he disliked, the sight of military officials disgust him. He imagined the reason for his being followed, could it be someone had given him up? He increased his pace whenever the soldiers kept coming closer to him. The worse happened at a time when he looked back, the soldiers aimed their guns at him, Tafa perspired and breathed so much that he was hyperpyrexia, and scared of being dead, he had no choice than to run on his heels, the armed men pulled the trigger quadrupled times but Tafa, smart as he was went in between the bushes and was lost out of sight.
“Some soldiers are after Tafa. I told him to move with composure, not sure it was the right thing to say to him”
“Of course it was, if he had trembled, he would be forced to say things, so it’s a good advice Rogers. ”
“Am not sure he will be safe”, Binani said.
“He will. He’s a smart dude and highly intellectual. He will make it definitely. ”
A knock was heard on the door, the fear it might be the soldiers scared them, moreover, they don’t have and keep weapons anywhere on campus, they could have defended themselves warily, except for few knives at their back pockets. Ruff leapt forward, towards the door and opened, a hale and hearty Tafa was on the door with a quiver entered almost immediately;
“I knew you were going to escape ”
“I almost died there, they fired shots at me when I ran, couldn’t stand their aiming at me.”
“They are crazy, why will they fire shots at a civilian? I hate this Government”
“They think they will ever discover us, it’s impossible and now, I hate them more”
“Hey, we all dislike them, let’s get down to a more important business, there will be a health conference in the capital in two days time, ministers, foreign health experts and the President, will likely be in attendance. We are to disrupt it with a bomb. ”
“We know it’s a gargantuan conference and would be highly secured”
“So, what’s the plan? ”
“We will leave in two separate vehicles, one will drive a van, which will be stuffed with our weapons and cement bags to cover it up to make it look as if, we are delivering a shipment and the other, in a bus which will contain the remainder of us”, explained in details by Ruff.
“I have one, due to the pending stop and search among major checkpoints, aren’t we likely to be searched? I mean the van”, asked Kamal.
“Trust me, we wouldn’t. Nobody will spend hours searching a van with hundreds of bags of cements when they are over thousands of other vehicles on the road”, Ruff entailed.
“How do we get the bag of cements? ”
“We would have bought them ourselves, but we smuggle them instead and keep our cash. Tafa and I will smuggle them, it will be a wonderful experience for him”, Ruff smiled and Tafa, returned the gesture. Tafa’s mind was pretty occupied by the job they were given. He realised this group wasn’t just a cult but something much more. They were made to all have the impression at first that they were cultists but as it progressed perhaps he thought, he realised they were more than mere cultists or reverenced in campus and that’s the reason for their staying in an expensive hostel in campus, to not be suspected of carrying out jobs as high as this. He questioned himself if it were these men that caused the bombing of the square, the residential building where his siblings lived. He could be working for people that killed his siblings. He ruminated for long that his self wasn’t present. Ruff knew what he was thinking of and asked again.
“Are you okay Tafa? “
“Yes, I am”, he lied.
“I know this must be hard, the bombings at cupala square wasn’t ours but a rival group that wants to suppress and eradicate us. They would be taken care off as a punishment for your siblings death”, Ruff promised. He was happy to see a glimmer of smile on Tafa. He was convinced he believed his story. Tafa knew his siblings killers and was happy they would be dealt with to the point he wouldn’t have to lift a finger. He was offered a cigarette by Ruff but coughed loudly. It was his first time of smoking but subsequent trials, he became comfortable and smoked like them.
“So, how do we go about planting it”, one of them brought back the initial question.
“There are three places where we can plant it, the drive way, the conference room itself and the hallway. Our exit is through the power station room behind that serves as the alternative exit”, everyone all this while, thought it was Ruff talking but it wasn’t, Tafa had been doing the talking, his robust knowledge awed everyone but at the same time, each of them present were angry about his talking, no one talks when Ruff, their leader talks but he was pardoned, he was a new entrant and wasn’t familiar with the rules yet.
“Am sorry for speaking, I am very well familiar with the venue, I went there with my father when I was fourteen.”
“It’s okay, that’s why we have you here after all. You are very much forgiven. You have just given us insight, thank you”. Tafa was very much pleased, still his fellow members were still in awe.
“We are going with this plan, we we’ll go through the back with our bags, we go in two’s first as journalists and then, trailed by the rest of us as cleaners, ensuring the conference room is clean. We stay only fifteen minutes and get out. We live this night, when the patrol is less”, concluded Ruff. Tafa now knew why these men wouldn’t leave the sect and why they enjoyed it, the pay is exuberant for them to quit. He needed to be prepared mentally physically if he was going to be in their league. It was his very first mission to impress and not disappoint.
five hours later, around 1.am, the bus and a van came to a halt in front of a nearly completed bungalow structure, surrounded by thick bushes and trees. It wasn’t modernly built but spacious enough to shelter humans. It used to be one of their regulars until recently, it was abandoned. They usually act that way to prevent prying eyes on them. It was chosen this time because, their next operation wasn’t in Baigari State, they needed a place to rest before embarking on their journey. Tafa and Ruff about thirty minutes prior to their stop, had smuggled one hundred and fifty bags of cement from a cement factory store into the van, killing four of the security guards on duty. After the halt, each and every one of them helped on load explosives, rolled in the rollers from the rat infested house into a space, prepared for them in the van, then the cement bags were placed on them and arranged in piles, so as to appeal it was all cement bags that was stuffed. They all entered inside after on loading, the house was fill of cobwebs, a fact that it had been abandoned for a long time, they were used to it, except Tafa who regularly removed the cobwebs as he advanced with a short broom he spotted when he entered. He had to get used to it if he was to be fully recognised and accepted by them and have a good impression, after all, they barely needed three hours to embark on their mission. It was almost 2.am,and were to leave for Abuja by 4.am
To be continued