Clement drove into his compound later in the evening very tired and worn out. As he lazily alighted from the car, there was only one thing on his mind, which was to enter the house, take his bath and sleep.
“Welcome oga.” Akpan said running towards his boss car.
“Akpan, how you dey?” Clement asked. Surprised to see his boss speak in pidgin, which has been the order of the day since his wife put to bed.
“Oga, I dey o.” Akpan replied leaning against the car.
“See you tomorrow.” He said and walked towards the main house. He was taken aback when he saw Dolapo sitting on a chair in the veranda.
“Dolapo, what are you doing here?” He asked.
“Welcome sir.” She said going on her knees.
“Yeah, thank you. Why are you sitting all alone here?” He asked.
“Nothing. I just felt like sitting alone.” She replied smiling. Thank God he didn’t notice her gloomy face which has since been replaced with smile.
“Don’t stay long outside, okay?” she nodded her head slowly and watched him as he bounced into the living room. How she wished, everyone on earth could be down to earth like Clement, how she wished everyone could be as nice as this, this world would definitely be a safe place to live.
“My in-law.” He exclaimed as he walked towards his mother-in-law who was eating at the dinning table, alongside Chidinma.
“My son, how are you?” The woman asked all smiles. He settled on the empty chair beside her and chatted with her for a while.
“Is my wife in?” He asked.
“Where else do you want her to be?” His mother in law asked and they all laughed. But he noticed something was not right. If they are just eating dinner and Dolapo was seated outside, does that mean, she has no share in the food or she doesn’t want to eat.
“Chidi, what of Dolapo? Has she eaten?”
“Erm, she said she’ll eat when she is ready.” Chidinma lied. Who would eat amidst tension? When you are seated opposite and enemy in an eatery, no matter how delicious the food may be, it won’t just go into your mouth.
“Okay.” Clement said and walked into the room where his wife and the baby was.
“You see that’s what I am telling you. There is something going on between them” the elderly woman said.
“Mama, there is nothing between them, I trust Dolapo and I trust Uncle Clement. He was only helping her and it was normal to ask if she has eaten because it looked odd that we are eating here and she is outside.” Chidinma replied.
“You are still a child. I have seen so many things, even before you were born. I just hope Rachel listen to me.”
“She is listening to you already, at least, you have her under control and she is ready to make life difficult for the girl.” Chidinma said.
Right from when they were young, their parents has always been dominating their lives and making decisions for them. They told them what department to join in secondary school, the university to apply for, the course, even the kinds of friends they moved with. Rachel has always been their prey, she does whatever her parents want her to do, but Chidinma who spent the majority of her teenage life as a tomboy. She lived like a man, fought like a man, did everithing like a man. Their parents had little or no control over her decision which till today still made Rachel the favourite child.
“I am only doing what I think is the best for my daughter.”
“What you think? So you are not even sure?” Chidinma asked laughing.
“I am very sure. The girl was implanted by the devil so she can destroy the happiness in this family.”
“Mum, I believe you’ll go to your husband’s house very soon. Will you teach Rachel how to live her marital life? Will you tell Uncle Clement what to do to keep his family intact?” Chidinma asked.
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that.” Her mother said hitting her fist on the table. Chidinma’s anger reached its limit that moment as she dropped her cutlery and stood up. “Where to?” Her mother asked.
“I am done eating.” She replied.
“My friend sit down there and finish up your meal. Have you forgotten you are an ulcer patient?” She reluctantly sat down and picked up her cutleries. Even though she was angry, she still had to eat.
“Weldone ma.” Dolapo greeted as she walked accross the living room towards the visitor’s room which she was expected to share with Chidinma. She was sure, the woman didn’t reply, but Chidinma said something about dinner which she ignored.
Rahmon walked into the living room where five of his boys were seated all dressed up and evident they were going out.
“Are you guys set?” He asked.
“Yes boss.” They replied in unison.
He led the way out of the house and hopped into a waiting black Toyota while the rest of the guys entered a hilux bus and they drove out of the compound with one place in mind, Victoria Vicky’s residence.
Matilda was begining to lose interest in the assignment she was asked to handle. How on earth could someone with his right senses keep twenty four hours surveillance on an individual who was a suspect by mere speculation and not caught in any illegal activities. She couldn’t place why someone would be suspected because she visited a criminal, she could just be in a wrong place at the wrong time. She was not tottally convinced of Victoria’s innocence, because she had outsmarted her once and the way and manner which she conversed with her showed she actually know a lot about the system. Maybe she should just prepare a fake report emphasizing Victoria’s innocence, but Sergeant Mike actually reported Vitoria to Clement. And as junior officers in the force were made to understand, a level four or Bronze level officer will only pick interest in any case because they are sure of it.
It was also believed that in every five lies that a bronze level officer in the police, FBI or the SSS said, there must always be an element of truth, if not more. Could sergeant Mike be lying? Maybe they just wanted to test her knowledge, but on a second thought, the way Clement had spoken to her on phone the day he gave the assignment told her he was passionate about either the lady, Victoria, the house she lived in or her relationship with criminals.
Then she saw two vehicles came to a halt a few metres away from her car. A black toyota and an hilux bus. She carefully switched off the car stereo which was solemly playing a soft music before the arrival of the vehicles. From her point, she knew these men meant no good for whoever they came accross because the way they are dressed and the looks on their faces said it all.
She grabbed her gun and tucked it in the hip holster ready for some action. Then she saw it, a bag was opened before them where each of the men picked a weapon of two each, after which they crossed over to Victoria’s residence.
Victoria was lying on a three seater couch as she watched a philipean romance series. Her mother had since gone to bed and she was all alone by herself watching the film which said everything about high school romance and heartbreaks. How she wished she had a guy to show her love. But who would love a criminal, but now that she had dropped those old habit, she expect the Mr Right to show up soonest.
Just then she saw a man’s shadow run past the window of the dinning room which was adjoined to the living room and directly adjacent to the couch on which she was lying down. Then it happened, there was power outage. She stood up, walked to the window to check if it was all over the estate, but to her surprise, only their apartment was affected, then she knew something was wrong.
She could hear the sound of someone trying to break the kitchen door, and that was all she needed before she flew into her room and with one swift yank, she opened her wardrobe and picked her guns which she was yet to dispose, and awaited the arrival of whoever was trying to break into the house. But the main problem was the darkness.
Matilda who had carefully succeeded in crossing to the other side of the estate road where Victoria’s apartment was without being spotted by the two men manning the ouside gate with their weapon ready for some action. She lurked behind the fence to know what would happen after the power supply into the house had been disconnected. She was half scared and half excited, scared because she didn’t know how she could handle seven able bodied men without hitches and excited because, this would be her first real action. She just hoped she would be successful, but she was confident of one thing, she won’t die.
The guy who was trying to break the kitchen door succeeded in opening it and he carefully walked in. Mere looking at him as he expertly manouvered his way towards the dinning area, one would think he had lived all his life in the apartment to the extent that he could walk without colliding with anything in the dark.
He walked into the living room, after which he unlocked the front door from within, he slid it open and Rahmon walked in with three other guys, fully armed and mean looking.
“Where is she?” Rahmon asked.
“She was here by the time I was breaking the door. I guess she has gone into hiding.” The guy who broke into the house through the kitchen door replied.
“But she possibly can’t be outside this compound?” Rahmon asked.
“Not at all. There are only two ways into the house, this and the kitchen door.”
“You and you, go into that room and bring whoever you find here to me, you, go into the second room and bring whoever you find. You, go upstairs and check if anybody is there.” Rahmon instructed as he sat down on one of the couches.
Matilda successfully scaled through the fence and crept slowly towards the kitchen door which by now was opened. She carefully walked into the kitchen with the aid of her pin-flashlight. She hid behind the tall refrigerator inside the dinning area and watched on from there. With the aid of the bright moonlight in the sky, the little illumination in the living room made it possible for her to make out the outline of a man sitting on a couch.
Victoria was hiding behind her opened door by the time the guy asked to fetch her out came in. With little or no stress, she dragged him suddenly from the back, rested his head on her chest and squeezed life out of him. She carefully placed him on the bed and covered him with the duvet, she returned to the back of the door awaiting the next person to walk into the room. A little while later, she could hear the sound of another guy coming towards her room, she stayed put and allowed him walk towards her bed where his dead colleague was, thinking it was Victoria.
“1 2 3 go.”
She said as she flung herself from where she was hiding against the guy, but by sheer luck, she missed him as she collided with the standing fan beside the bed. Luckily for her she grabbed the fan before it could reach the ground and she used it to her advantage by hitting the man with it, but it was ineffective, considering the weight of the fan. The man who had fellen on the bed removed his gun and tried corking it, but Victoria was already lying on him and struggling to get the weapon off him, she could feel something stiring in the man’s g—n and she knew what it was.
She distracted him by grabbing his member through the trouser and pulled in violently, but it seemed not to be working to her advantage, the guy was already trying to removed another weapon but Victoria had placed her gun close to his stomach.
“God, I don’t want to do this.” And off she pulled the trigger. The gun went off even though the close proximity between the tip of the pistol and the target reduced the sound of the gun, but someone in the living room or even outside the gate would hear the sound. She quickly picked up her gun and and went into hiding, just when she heard that familiar voice.
“Vv, I salute your bravery. You already killed two of my men, but in the best of your interest, reveal yourself now or I kill your mother.” It was Rahmon’s voice. Even though she didn’t know much about him, she knew he was a very dangerous man who won’t stop at nothing except he achieved his aim. And another thing is, he doesn’t repeat himself. It would be very stupid of her to let him have her mother. She knew that for whatever reason Rahmon was here, it has to do with her and her alone. Bringing her mother into this will be disastrous because not only will he kill her(mother), he’ll kill her(Vicky) too.
Victoria walked out of her room towards the living room and just then, the light flickered on. Rahmon was on his feet, his right leg on her mother’s tommy.
“Rahmon, stop it. You have no business with her.” She screamed at him. Rahmon smiled and dropped his leg. “What do you want from me?” Victoria asked. Even though she was scared, she was not going to show it. Her worst nightmare was Rahmon.
“Vv, why are you after me? Is it because you knew I am always afraid to come against you, you now want to take that to your advantage?” He asked. Realising what he was talking about, she said;
“Rahmon, I am not after you. I didn’t accept the offer. I can never come up against you. Moreso, I no longer do that kind of job.” Rahmon laughed again, but this time he had reached his limit, his eye had turned red.
“What’s this?” He flashed her phone to her face. She forgot to take her phone with her when she left the living room and he had seen the bank alert notifying her of Sandra’s payment.
“You know you could have collected more than this from Sandra. Maybe five million or more. This is too small for you to come after Rahmon, the great.” He said kicking her mother. She wanted to attack him that moment, but she knew she can’t take four men out at a time.
“Aaaaah! Remove it and try it on me.” Rahmon said mockingly. Victoria reluctantly removed the two pistols she had on her and dropped them on th table
“On your knees.” He commanded. She silently went on her knees and looked at Rahmon with hatred that could kill. But could this be payback time? She had been killing to make money for three years now and just today that she vowed never to kill again, she was being threatened with death. And death himself was standing before her. ‘The great Rahmon.’ But if God really wanted to pay her back, the time shouldn’t be now. She was three years into the system while Don and Rahmon collectively are over a decade into the system.
She could remember the number of families she had killed just for fun because she has been paid. She could remember how the wives begged not to get their husbands killed, how the children begged not to get their fathers killed. How everyone begged her.
“Aunty please don’t kill our daddy. He has not paid our school fees.” A little girl of about five years old begged. With one swift movement, she aimed the gun at the little girl and pulled the trigger. Subsequently, she pulled the trigger on every member of the family present, thereby wiping out a family of five at once.
The voices came haunting her as she covered her ears with her hand and wept.
“Vicky, I am killing your mother and nothing will happen.” Rahmon said.
“No no, Rahmon. You can’t kill her, she has no business with you. Remember, I do.” She said with tears in her eyes. Rahmon laughed so hard that his men joined him in laughter.
“You killed two of my men. You’ll pay, and you’ll die.” He said. She looked as his men smiled away. On a good day, none of his men could look at her in the face, not to talk of attacking her. Even Rahmon will only attack her just to keep his pride. As much as she feared him and as he admitted just now, she is his worst nightmare and vice versa.
“Guys, set to work.” Rahmon said to his men who grabbed Victoria at once and placed her on the three seater couch. Her nightie was raised up to her tommy.
“Rahmon, what are you doing?” She asked weakly as the two guys manipulated her. She was beginning to blame herself for making the vow to stop being an assassin. How she wished she was still actively in the system, because it seemed the vow had weakened her and her fighting spirit. She managed to turn her face to the side and saw Rahmon hitting her mother very hard all over her body. By now, one of the two men was already molesting her as they laughed at her misfortune. How she wished the so called messiah would just return for the second time and save her from the hands of these men. Just like a dream, she saw a lady crept out from behind the fridge in the dinning area with a gun in hand. She smiled happily.
Matilda knew what she wanted to do and she had made the plans. Backup was already on the way, but she didn’t want to do things alone for the fear of making mistakes. But then the men started molesting Victoria and the backup was not yet in place. When she could take it no more, she was forced to come out of hiding. She pulled the trigger on Rahmon who held his arm in pain and before the men molesting Victoria could wear their trousers or pick their guns, Matilda had already shot them on the head.
Victoria scrambled up and hit Rahmon violently and let him fall to the ground. She quickly picked a pistol from the ones lying on the table and corked it. A hand on her shoulder told her, she must not pull the trigger. Matilda secured his two hands with a cuff and awaited the arrival of the backup team.
A few minutes later, sirens were heard and Victoria had every reason to smile. She quickly hugged Matilda and wept on her shoulder.
“You saved my life.” She whispered.
“A bloody cop that I am.” Matilda replied and they both laughed. That was the phrase she used when she met her in the afternoon.
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Dolapo woke up the next day being a saturday, she said her morning prayers and walked into the bathroom to wash her mouth. She returned a few minutes later to see Chidinma just waking up.
“Dolapo.” Chidinma called
“Good morning,” Dolapo greeted as she redressed her side of the bed.
“How was your night?” Chidinma asked.
“It was good and yours?” Dolapo replied.
“Good. At least, I slept well.” Chidinma said. Then she remembered that as much as she tried to sleep well the previous night, she didn’t sleep well. The worms in her stomach were enough reason for her to be sleep eluded. She would have returned to the dinning to eat her dinner after Chidinma and her mother had left, but the moment she entered the room she slept off, and by the time hunger was having its toll on her, it was around 2am in the morning, and all she could do was to grab a loaf of bread and eat with jam since the food prepared had lost its taste as a result of the cold that had descended on it.
“What do you plan doing today?” Chidinma asked after she had finished saying her prayers.
“Nothing, even though I had plans of visiting my friend in the hospital and spend some time with her.” Dolapo said.
“I’ll love to go with you. Hope you don’t mind?” Chidinma replied.
“No I don’t.” Dolapo thought about it, even though she didn’t have the means to transport herself to the hospital. She will at least visit the bank to make some cash withdrawals, and from there go to the bank.
“I’ll be back, let me go and greet uncle Clement before he leaves for work.” Dolapo said working out of the room. Chidinma slipped into the bathroom after she had left.
Clement was at the dinning by the time Dolapo walked into living room.
“Dolapo, good morning.” Clement greeted.
“Good morning sir.” Dolapo greeted strolling across the living room towards the dinning where Clement was helping himself with tea and bread.
“How was your night?” He asked.
“It was good sir. Is Aunty awake?” She said.
“No, she is still in bed.” He replied. Just then, Rachel mother came out from the second visitor’s room.
“Good morning ma.” Dolapo greeted. She ignored her greeting and walked towards the dinning.
“Uncle, I’ll see you later.” She said and walked out of the room.
“Good morning grandma.” Clement greeted.
“Morning my in-law.” The woman replied sitting down opposite him.
After the event of the previous night, a whole night security was provided for Victoria and her mum, as ordered by Matilda who led the police team and the ambulance away. The living room and Victoria’s room were still messy and filled with blood, the two women were led upstairs which was filled with rooms which had never been in use. Victoria couldn’t sleep all night because she knew sooner or later, she’ll be arrested after thorough investigation.
There was a knock on the gate which opened a few seconds later by the police guarding them and moments later, another knock sounded on the door downstairs which was subsequently opened.
A minute later, a knock sounded on the door of the room which she was with her mother. She stood up, covered herself with a wrapper and walked towards the door.
“Good morning Auntie, sorry to disturb your sleep. You have a visitor downstairs.” The policeman said.
“A visitor, who could that be?” Victoria asked.
“Come see for yourself.” The policeman said and led the way downstairs. On reaching the landing, a young lady was standing in the living room with two uniformed police officers.
“Good morning ma.” Victoria greeted.
“Morning. I am Detective Ngozi, your attention is needed at the police headquarters.” The lady said. Her heart flew into her mouth. How will her attention be needed a few hours after she was molested? Can’t they just let her recover from the trauma? Though she wasn’t affected by the act, she has gone through series of hard ways, she had learnt things the difficult way, she is a strong woman. But her attention being needed could be for her to write a statement concerning the attack or being charged for something else.
Kelvin walked out of the bathroom with a towel tied on his body, but he was not too forgetful to not to wear his singlet. Sandra was lying down peacefully in her sleep. He carefully put on his clothes and grabbed his car keys.
“Where are you going baby?” Sandra asked.
“I am off to work.” He replied. Sandra sat up on the bed and rubbed her eyes with her palm.
“You are always going to work and you’ve never for once told me the kind of job you do. Maybe you are a farmer, a taxi driver or a terrorist…” She said.
“And what is that supposed to mean?” He asked raising his voice, the moment he heard her say something about being a terrorist.
“I was only joking.” She said moving closer to him.
“Better don’t do such jokes with me again.” He said stepping aside.
“I have the right to joke with my husband. But Kelvin, tell me the job that you do. Aren’t you proud of it?” She said. He was beginning to suspect her. Maybe she knew something that he was not aware of. Or her feminine instinct was giving her hints, maybe she was just joking like she said.
“I’ll take you to my place of work very soon. Okay?” He said pulling her out of bed and holding her in a warm embrace.
“Is that a promise?” She asked.
“Yeah.” He replied.
A few minutes later, he drove out of her compound into the busy Dolphin estate road. His heart gave a loud thud the moment he drove past Mr Ayo Okorie’ls residence, the teeming population of press men and women and the presence of security agents was enough reason to put fear in him. He knew quite alright that the residence has been invaded once as led by Sylvester, which was why Mr Ayo fled and has since been living inside Khal corp, for it to be invaded for a second time, something has to be wrong. He pulled his car up and alighted, he approached an onlooker.
“Good morning aunty.” He said.
“Good morning.” The lady replied.
“Please what’s going on here?” He asked.
“The police invaded this house and accessed an underground from which they released over forty-five young girls who were Nigerian and citizens of other neighbouring African countries.” The lady explained.
“Sister, please don’t be angry o.” He said.
“No problem.” The lady assured.
“Do you by chance know the names of the policemen who invaded the house?” Kelvin asked.
“How am I supposed to know that? But when I listened to the news yesterday evening, a police inspector was speaking with the reporters, I think his name is Clement or something. He also said something about a female officer who detected the underground. Ngozi.” The lady explained.
Unemployment is really a problem in Ngieria of today. If a lady between ages, twenty three and twenty seven could be up as early as seven thirty in the morning and was watching how things were done at a crime scene, a time when she should either be in school if she is still a student at twenty three of at work.
“Are you sure about their names?” He asked.
“I am not sure about the policeman’s name, he may not be Clement, but his name starts with the letter ‘C,’ but the other female officer, I can never forget because my name is Ngozi too.” The lady replied. He looked at the lady intently and the way she was smiling. Did he ask for her name? Nigerian girls will always want you to know their names.
“Hope no problem Uncle?” She asked.
“No, not at all.” He replied.
The lady, obviously bored with the coversation walked away to catch more interesting things. Maybe she expected him to say a different thing, maybe a can-I-take-you-out-on-a-date conversation.
He removed his tow hands from his pocket and strolled to the other side of the road where his car was parked. Now, everything was becoming clear to him. If Clement was truely the one who led the police into the underground, then he must have been tipped off by Ngozi who discovered the underground. He needed to speak with Ngozi as fast as possible. He picked up his phone and dialled her number.
To be continued