El Deols, Anthanna
Tom hurried into his bedroom to get his ringing phone. He had dropped it there when he went to get a bottle of wine from the bar. The table was dirty with traces of weed and some powdery substances. He smoked and drank everyday since Sheila had left him. Since he was exposed already, he thought there was no need suppressing his lifestyle anymore.
He picked up the phone and checked the screen. His friend Stan was calling.
“Hey Stan! What’s up?” He said after answering the call.
“Hey dude! Phil has landed himself in trouble.”
“What has he done again?” Tom asked.
“He arranged some men to dress up as cops to get that Sheila’s bodyguard yesterday,” Stan replied.
“What are you talking about?”
“Remember you told us when we met at the club that Sheila was going to return from South Husan with the dude yesterday?”
“Yeah, I did.” Tom replied and picked a wrap of weed.
“And you remember Phil told us he would pull up a surprise.”
“Oh! I remember.”
“So he planned to kidnap Henry yesterday by sending men who dressed as police officers. They got him and were on their way to the destination he gave them. I guess the idiot attacked them on the way and real police officers caught up with them.”
“Now, that’s messy. Where’s Phil now?”
“He has been taken by the police, they took him last night.”
“Really messy, he should have told us before going ahead to do that.” Tom said. He sat on the chair in front of the table as he placed the wrap of weed in his mouth.
“So what do we do?” Stan asked.
There was silence from Tom’s end.
“Hey Tom, you’re there?” Stan asked. “Tom, Tom?”
“Shut up idiot! I was lighting up my wrap of weed,” Tom slammed.
“D–n you fool! Must you smoke before you can think?” Stan slammed back. They were used to hurling insults at themselves and most of the time did so when they joked but at times when there was also a messy issue to be solved like this.
“Is Sheila pressing charges against him?” Tom finally asked after another additional forty seconds.
“How would I know? I haven’t been there.”
“Why haven’t you gone there yet?”
“Bleep you Tom! You want me to go there and get myself involved in the mess?”
Tom took in another drag of the smoke before answering. “You didn’t plan it with him, did you?”
“Of course, I did not.”
“Why are you scared then?”
“What if he mentions my name? Or I meet Sheila there and she gets to point at me.”
“You’re a bleeping sissy Stan.”
“You’re worse Tom!”
“Stop talking like a fool…”
“Shut up Tom! Can we talk about our next step now and stop beating about the bush.”
Tom was quiet for some seconds again. Stan did not rush him this time, he assumed he was busy with his weed.
“We can’t do anything about Phil for now, we have to wait till tomorrow to get more information about his arrest.”
“Are we still going ahead with our plan?”
“Yes, there’s no going back.” Tom replied sharply and in a confident tone. “We must deal with that scumbag before the court session.”
“Are you sure we need to go ahead with this Tom? That guy seems to be more dangerous than we see him,” Stan voiced his fears.
“You bleeping sissy! You’re scared already? I got my plans well perfected and there’s no turning back.”
“We’re not planning to kill him, are we?”
“No, I don’t hope to be a murderer, we just need to teach him a lesson, one that he will never forget.”
“Have you made plans to ensure he doesn’t reach the police that day?”
“Yeah, like I said, I got everything perfected already.” Tom repeated.
“What if he tries to reach the police and open up a case afterwards.”
“I’ll take care of that by making sure he has no case at all. The police would deny they were ever involved.”
“Tom, how do you intend to do this?”
“You ask so many silly questions Stan. He’s gonna try reach them from the onset and when the call goes through, it will be answered by police officers who I’m going to pay heavily. The police officers would encourage him and lure him into our trap.”
“I really do hope this works out well Tom, I hope it does.”
“It would Stan, it surely would.”
The Next Morning
“Henry, I do think it’s time we look into making you complete your training and make your movement as quick as possible.” Sheila said to Henry. “Or make it possible for you to continue with the training in any country of your choice.”
Both were sitting at the backseat of the car as usual, after a visit to the police office to make a more detailed report of the incident that took place the day before.
“I need to understand you better please” He said, squinting at her face.
“I mean you need to finish up your training quickly, so that we can finalize plans for you to leave the country.”
“Why do you say so?”
“You’re getting into so much troubles for me already, it is better you leave so you can be out of these troubles.” Sheila replied. “I believe you’d do better than you’re away from here.”
“I don’t plan to leave you to face these troubles all by yourself, we have to finish it together before I think of leaving.”
Sheila stared at his face intently for a moment, she had a questioning look on her face but was yet to give a voice to the questions in her heart.
“Yeah Sheila,” Henry continued. “That will start with watching how Tom’s case goes first.”
“Tom?” Her face softened as she looked away. “I really do hope he gets a soft landing.”
“No, I hope he gets it tough!”
Sheila flashed a quick look at his face. “You’re talking about someone I was in love with.”
“Yes, you were in love with him but he proved to be undeserving of your love.”
“Listen Sheila, Tom and his friends are dangerous. If I did not detect that those men were fake officers, they probably would have done something crazy to both of us.”
Sheila stared at him in silence for a while before speaking in very low tones. “That’s why you have to leave as soon as you can Henry, you shouldn’t be getting into all these troubles because of me.”
“That’s why I can’t leave yet Sheila, I can’t leave you to face these dangerous Tom and his troubles alone by yourself.” He retorted. “I have to see that Tom is punished adequately and his friends are also punished.”
Sheila sighed. She stared at his face for a while and then moved closer to him. She wrapped her hands round his body and placed her head on his shoulder.
Henry held his breath for a moment. She had not been as close as that for some days and that strange feeling of always wanting her in his arms suddenly returned.
“Sheila,” he called after two minutes of total silence.
“Yes,” she answered.
“I couldn’t sleep last night.”
She raised her head to look at his face. “Why?”
“I kept having strange dreams when my eyes are closed and visions while I’m awake but I’m never able to recall them everytime I try to do consciously.”
She stared at his face for a while with a worried look. It was obvious she was concerned for him.
“I can only recall seeing myself in a uniform of some kind, it looks military.”
“I think you are gradually recalling your past.”
Henry hated to admit that truth. He was scared. The flashbacks in his memory in the last twelve hours had been so tiring and even scary.
He had never thought he could be scared to recall his past. What troubled him was the possibility that he was a bad person in his past, he was terrified to go back to being that bad person which remembering his past would make him be.
Denril Communication Centre, South Husan.
“Good morning Madam,” Eddy greeted, taking off his dark sunshades as he moved close to the secretary.
“Good morning sir, how may I help you?” The secretary answered, only taking a brief glance at him.
“I’m Edward from Affid group of companies, I’m here to see the manager in respect to the World Developers Conference hosted by the firm few days ago.”
The secretary looked up at his face sharply after he finished speaking, her fingers left the keyboard of the computer she was working on and she rested her back.
“From Affid Group Of Companies in Bethanna?” She questioned. The man nodded in reply. She frowned after his confirmation. “You called yesterday and we told you to wait until we fix a time with the manager. We’re yet to do that and I’m sorry you can’t meet with him now, your meeting has to be prescheduled.”
“Why don’t you tell him I’m here first before dismissing me?” The man asked.
“I arrange his schedule for the day and he’d be mad at if I’m try to fix something in now.” She replied.
“Why don’t you try? You may be surprised to know he’s expecting me.”
The man sounded so confident and his audacious look tempted the secretary to pick up the phone. Her gaze lingered on his face for a while before she dialed and put it close to her ear.
“Sir, one Mr Edward from the Affid Group Of Companies in Bethanna is here to see you.” She said into the phone, her heart pounding as she feared to be scolded by her boss.
“Please send him in, I’ve been expecting him.”
She was surprised to hear the reply and she quickly looked at Eddy’s face, he was smiling down mischievously at her.
“Right away Sir,” she replied in low tones and ended the call.
“Good morning sir,” Eddy greeted as he walked into the office.
The man on the seat got up to receive his guest, he stretched out his hand for a handshake
“Welcome Mr Edward, I wasn’t expecting you this soon,” the man replied as they shook each other’s hands firmly. “Please have your seat,” he said and watched as the man took his seat before sitting. “So, would you like to take some coffee?”
“No thanks, I’d rather want us to go straight to business.” Eddy replied.
“Your wish sir, let’s get started.”
“Like I said in the mail and on voice call, I saw videos and pictures of the World Developers Conference hosted by this establishment few days ago. It’s a pity I only saw it after the event, we from Affid Group of Companies would have loved to participate.”
“I truly do wonder how you missed the advertisements, it was publicized on several Network TVs of different countries in the world. I’m sure the publication was done well in Bethanna which is a neighboring country to us,” the manager replied.
“Yeah, I’m sure it was. It’s sad that we missed it,” Eddy replied. He changed his position and rested his elbow on the left armrest. “Well, no regrets, we’ve been able to purchase some of the videos from the conference and I’ve listened to a bulk of them already, the revelations are quite amazing and the level at which programming is taking over the world and it’s systems is astonishing.”
“I agree with you,” the manager cleared his throat. “The exact reason the world developers conference held was to foster growth of Programming and Developing firms and products.”
“You’re right,” Eddy said and leaned forward. “I already stated in my mail that we need your partnership in organizing a similar conference in Bethanna. We are building a programming school for the world in Bethanna and before it is launched, we will need to sensitize the public on issues surrounding the program.”
“Yes, I read that in the mail and I asked to see the documents.”
“Here,” Eddy pulled out a file from his bag and placed it on the table. He opened to the middle and stared intently for a moment before passing the file to the manager.
The manager went through the documents for about eight minutes before he spoke again. “This looks great, however our legal team would still have to look into it.” he said and closed the file. “Can we get a copy?”
“Yes, that’s your copy.” Eddy replied.
The manager picked his phone and made a call asking his secretary to come into his office. She came in one minute later, he handed her the file and asked her to send it to one of their offices for the team to go through.
“I’ll also like to find out how you gathered the audience for the conference sir,” Eddy continued after the manager was done with the secretary. “We would like this to guide us in choosing ours too.”
“We sent out invites to others and some others applied and were approved after we went through their necessary details.” the manager replied.
“Was the offer thrown to the public?”
“No, it was only published publicly, we didn’t invite the public. Throwing the invitation to the public would have given us too much crowd to deal with, we also would have had to go through several applications to select. We drew up a list of companies to invite, after which we stated in the advertisement that the offer was only opened to programming and developing firms. So we only had a maximum of five delegates from each programming firm from all over the world.”
“And did you keep records of all attendees?”
“Yes, we did. We formed a team and made them in charge of crowd and access control, they worked with the event centre team and controlled access on the day of the event.”
“Is there a way we can make use of your database to send our invitations too?”
“Ermm… You mean using our records to make your invitations?”
“That’s kind of huge,” the man squinted. “Is it really necessary?”
“It would make us focus on a better audience.”
“It would be quite difficult, we are responsible for the personal data collected from our attendees, it won’t be right to let them out.”
“I’m aware sir, and that’s why we are seeking your partnership. If you agree to partner with us, it becomes our event and it would not be an issue to make use of the database. There would be no issue of mistrust of your company by the attendees.”
“You’re right, but if that’s the case we need to discuss further. I thought what you needed was just our support for your event.”
“No sir, that’s why we clearly stated it as Request for Partnership. I’m here and ready to discuss your terms.”
“No, I think you should tell us what you want to offer us first. If we grant you this partnership you long for, what do we stand to gain? What are you offering us?”
Eddy looked down to bring out another file, he placed it on the table and turned it to the man. The manager stared at his face for a moment before he opened the file.
Some days later
El Deols, Anthanna
“You may come in Henry,” Sheila answered in response to the doorbell.
Henry opened the door gently and stepped in. He closed it and walked straight to Sheila’s table.
Her eyes were on him as he advanced and she wondered why he was there at that time of the day. He rarely came into her office during work hours, he had only been there once, on the first day he resumed his job as her bodyguard, and even though their office was only separated by her secretary’s, they mostly never saw each other at work until closing hours except on days they went out for lunch together.
“Sheila, I just got a message that Miss Tayo has been kidnapped.” He said to her.
“Kidnapped?” She squinted at him. “Isn’t she supposed to be in your office with you?”
“Yes but she did not come, I started calling her number since ten o’clock and it wasn’t answered until five minutes ago.”
“Who answered it?”
“He said his name was Lion and that he had Miss Tayo with him and he wanted to strike a deal with you.”
“With me?” Sheila asked, surprised.
“Yes, I was surprised too.”
Sheila fell back in the chair to consider the situation, she leaned back forward after a minute. “Can you call them back?”
Miss Tayo was instructor. A Nigerian she was, she had migrated with her family to Anthanna and lived there from a young age. She worked in a freelance organization from where Sheila employed her services.
Henry held the phone up to dial back the number but he stopped as some messages entered the phone. He was frozen on a spot for a while.
“What’s happening? Why don’t you call back?” She asked.
He moved closer and stretched forth the phone to her. She stared at his face for a moment before collecting the phone.
A picture had been sent from the kidnappers and it showed Miss Tayo tied to a chair, blindfolded and with her mouth gagged. Her clothes had been ripped off and she looked disorganized already, even though it didn’t look like she had been beaten or battered.
“Please dial the number,” she said, handing back the phone to Henry.
Henry dialed the number and listened until it was answered. “Hey, I’m with Miss Sheila now.” he said before giving her the phone.
“Hello…” Sheila’s voice sounded low.
“Miss Sheila, I believe he must have explained everything to you. We are nice kidnappers and we do not kidnap to kill, we only need some little amount of money from you.”
“What do you need?” Sheila asked. She had more suspicion in her mind and was wondering why the kidnappers were demanding the money from her and not Miss Tayo’s family members.
“Ten thousand US dollars, no negotiations.”
“Ten thousand US Dollars?” She questioned. The money seemed so small to her, she had expected they would demand a lot more.
“Can I call you back please.”
“Sure, you can. Make sure you don’t involve the police,” the man warned.
“Okay,” she replied before ending the call. “They want ten thousand dollars,” she said to Henry.
“We’ve got to inform the police,” Henry put in as he sat in the visitor’s chair.
“Yes, we have to. You should get that started while I ask for the details of their location.”
“Okay, ” Henry got up and proceeded out of the office. He needed to make use of another phone to inform the police.
“Where can we meet you? Do we come with cash?” Sheila said into the phone, returning the call after Henry had walked out of her office.
“I would give you the transfer information when you get here. I’m at Andrews Warehouse beside the bridge.”
“Oh!” She exclaimed. The location was not somewhere far from the office. “We’d meet you there in twenty minutes.”
“You have thirty minutes to get here, you are allowed to come with one person who isn’t a police officer. If you come any minute late or appear with the police, we would drop Miss Tayo on the bridge unconscious after making sure she’s stark naked, i hope you know she would not like the embarrassment.”
‘We’d be there on time.” Sheila replied before ending the call.
She dropped the phone on the table. She wasn’t in a hurry to get up. She tapped on her computer in front of her and opened an application.
Twenty Two Minutes Later.
Sheila and Henry got to the warehouse alone, after informing the police and being sure that officers had surrounded the place and were watching closely.
The door to the warehouse opened as they approached it, they stopped at the entrance and looked in, not wanting to get in until they confirmed what or who waited for them in there. They only saw one man. He was sitting on.a chair adjacent to the chair of the kidnapped lady who was half naked and tied.
Henry looked sideway, his eyes met with the police officer that had followed them there and was hiding in a corner, he saw the man nodding for them to proceed into the warehouse.
“Lets go in,” he said in a soft tone to Sheila.
The door of the warehouse closed as soon as they stepped in. They advanced towards the man who was now looking at them. They had gotten to the centre of the hall when the man spoke.
“I warned you not to inform the police.”
They stopped walking immediately his voice sounded. Sheila felt some fear. She wondered how the man had known they informed the police after the police had assured them that the kidnappers would never know of their presence.
Henry was less afraid. His fingers reached for the button attached to his belt which the police officers gave them to press when they needed quick intervention.
A loud alarm sound echoed through the hall as Henry’s finger touched the button. Henry touched it again and he realized that it was the response to his touch. He was confused for a while, wondering how the button could spark a response from the hall.
“Stop alarming the police, they can’t help you here.” the man said with an evil smile, now proceeding towards them. “We only want to teach you some lesson while Sheila would sit and enjoy the show.”
Sheila heaved a sigh of frustration. Henry was getting into trouble again, just few days after they got out from one. What made it bad was that the enemies had the police with them this time. She thought that was bad enough until they began to hear sounds from different corners of the large hall and saw different men coming out of the corners. They looked angry and fierce, most of them heavily built.
Sheila quivered in fear at their number. The men were numbering up to thirty and most of them had weapons in their hands. She began to feel her knees buckling and her bladder was suddenly full.
A scene flashed quickly through Henry’s mind. It was blurry. He saw some angry looking men in the vision, holding metal rods and lashing someone on the ground desperately. The man on the ground was him.