© Oyinloye Oluwatosin Emmanuel
(Edited & Proofread by Blessing Joy)
“I’ve prepared everything necessary for the flight tomorrow, is there anything else we must do before we leave?” Chanda asked as he walked back into the living room where Kahn was sitting.
Kahn turned to him, “I’m not sure we still have anything we’ve left undone. You can ask Hutton to be sure,” he suggested.
“Okay, where is he?”
Kahn squinted and turned. He looked around the living room in a bid to remember where he had last seen Hutton. He turned back to Chanda on remembering. “Ermm, I saw him walk out through the back door a couple of minutes ago. You can check him outside.”
Hutton was sitting on the top slab of the pavement surrounding the balcony and staring blankly at the sunny field. The moisty Zambia breeze was blowing strongly against his exposed bare chest and there was water formed in his eyes from the effect of the breeze entering.
On his back was a large tattoo, a drawing of a spider-like insect. Other drawings were on his arms, from his shoulder to his elbows. From his elbows to his fingers were devoid of tattoos. Also, on his body were some scars. He had a noticeable stitch at his belly area on the left side.
He noticed someone had stepped out to the balcony where he was, but he did not turn back. He remained still as Chanda walked closer and stopped beside him.
“We took all the bags and items you arranged already, I wanted to find out if we need to do some other things before we move tomorrow,” Chanda said to Hutton.
“I’ll be with you shortly to see if anything else is needed,” Hutton answered and Chanda turned back in after whispering a reply.
Hutton could hear Chanda’s footsteps sounding loud in his ears until he walked back into the house. Chanda’s voice rang in his head for a second time.
…I wanted to find out if we need to do some other things before we move tomorrow
He recalled one of his last missions as a FOX agent. He led seven other men to clamp down a group of deadly thugs sponsored by a politician in another country. The youngest officer on that team was Carl Winston. As the youngest, Carl was in charge of arranging and watching over the items they took along with them for the trip. It was from that mission he had liked young Carl.
He also had Carl on his team on two other missions before he was dismissed from the FOX. The third mission had turned out to be unsuccessful. He had lost eight men out of a team of twenty on the field that fateful day. Five other officers were injured including Carl Winston. The other officers had only slight injuries and could still move but Carl Winston was totally down, after having three bullets penetrate into his body.
When it was obvious they could not win the battle, Hutton and Sylvanus who assisted him in the team for that mission ordered the men to retreat. Hutton had found unconscious Carl on the floor and noticed he was still breathing. Despite the fact that Carl looked as good as dead, Hutton somehow believed he could survive if he was helped.
He was warned by Sylvanus not to waste time trying to save someone who wouldn’t make it but Hutton did not want to lose any other men. The other soldiers had to leave him in the forest as the opponents were already closing in on them. Hutton had to quickly tie some wounds on the injured soldier’s body before he placed him on his shoulder and began to run.
He ran for close to an hour that day, with the angry opponents chasing from behind. The enemies began to shoot sporadically at a point, but he did his best not to get scared. He eventually had a bullet penetrate through his already weakened Kevlar, it got into the left side of his belly. He had Carl on his right-hand side. Till that day, only he and the doctor who treated him knew the cause of the injury.
That same mission had been the root cause of his dismissal from the FOX a year later. He still had scores to settle with the FOX and some key members who betrayed him, another memory to recall some other time.
Here he was presently, plotting to kill the young man whom he risked his life for many years ago. This memory had been the reason he had never wanted to get directly involved in killing Carl Winston himself. He always had to send someone else, or set him up to be killed.
Emery Jack’s Apartment,
El Deols, Anthanna.
“You brought him in,” Emery stared at Paul in disappointment , watching him walk in with Henry behind.
“Yes, I’m sorry I had to. He had some information for us and he’s ready to cooperate,” Emery replied.
Sheila was so excited on seeing him and jumped up immediately to hug Henry but the look her father gave her totally killed her morale.
Emery glanced once again at Paul and took a final glance at Sheila before he proceeded towards Paul and Henry.
“I really do hope there would be no complications from this,” Emery whispered to Paul.
“Trust me, Jack, there’s no problem,” Paul replied to him.
Emery nodded in response and then walked to the other side and stopped before Henry.
“Good to see you again Henry, and nice to know you are Carl Winston,” he said in a low tones and patted Henry on the shoulder.
Henry turned and watched Emery walk into the hallway before he turned back towards Sheila.
Paul already took some steps forward. He turned sideways and glanced at the other two’s faces. “I guess I’ll leave both of you for now, I’ll be with Emery if you need me,” he said and then walked away.
Henry again watched him walk away until he was out of sight. He then turned slowly to Sheila who was already staring at him. They stood transfixed in their positions for a short while before Sheila ran to him and hugged him.
He didn’t reciprocate at first until after some seconds when he wrapped his arms around her. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was difficult for him to believe he was really holding Sheila Jack in his arms again.
He remembered that moment when he had tried to open the door to the burning building at Sisa and it had led to a further explosion and the moment he ran around the building trying to find an opening to get in through. At that moment, he had thought all hopes were lost and that he had lost Sheila just like he lost his wife too. The grief in his heart that evening had been turned to relief and happiness which he found so difficult to express.
He released her from his grip and she took a step back from him. They stared into each other’s eyes silently for a moment.
“Can we sit?” Henry broke the silence.
“Yes,” Sheila replied in soft tone. “Sure,” she ushered him to the three-sitter sofa and they sat beside each other.
After some few seconds of silence, Henry held her hands and stared into her eyes before he began to speak softly. “Sheila, I’m sorry for the pain I have caused you. I should have taken more precautions and ensured you were safer. I was so stupid to think they could not connect us both…”
“It’s okay, Henry. Thank God I’m safe. I’m glad to see you again,” Sheila replied, more focused on his face rather than his words.
Henry let out a wry smile. “Hope you were not hurt,” he asked.
“No, I wasn’t. They didn’t really attempt to hurt me, what they wanted was you,” she answered.
Henry took a deep breath. “I’m so sorry for making you go through such experience, I promise it won’t happen again…”
“It’s okay,” she cut in. “I’m safe and I’ll always be safe, you need to stop apologizing.”
Henry took in a deep breath and scratched the left side of his head briefly.
“I think you need to listen to the FOX chairman,” Sheila continued. “He wants you to stop pursuing the revenge illegally and let the FOX take control.
“I know and I’m trying to consider that,” Henry let out a breath and looked away briefly.
“You should let them take control,” Sheila reached for his hands. “You almost got yourself killed some days ago, those men are dangerous and won’t stop until they get to you.”
Henry suddenly turned to her again. “Please, I need you to tell me your experience with them.” He requested as he tightened her hands in his.
“I told Chairman Paul Edwards everything already,” she replied him.
“Yes, I know but I also need to get some details.”
Her face went blank as she drew in a breath. She pulled back and released her grip on his palms, he also let her go.
“Please, give me every detail I need to know,” Henry pleaded.
“You’re still interested in going after them?” She asked with a frowned face.
“I haven’t decided yet but I need to get enough information even if I’m not going after them.” He replied.
She remained silent for a couple of seconds, staring at the opposite wall. Then she began to narrate her ordeal, starting from the explosion at her firm.
“Can you describe the lady?” Henry interrupted when she got to the part she was with Florence Brown.
“I can’t remember her perfectly, all I know is that she had a Bethanian accent, she was tall and slim.” Sheila replied.
Henry squinted for a while, checking his mind for ladies who fit Sheila’s description. He couldn’t match anyone as the description was not specific enough.
“I was taken somewhere else and I never saw the lady or her men again, then I saw those two men who escaped in the Chopper.”
Henry squinted at her face and continued to listen with rapt attention as she began to talk about Hutton and Kahn. Five minutes after, Henry interrupted to ask a question.
“Did you by any chance get an idea of the locations they have these machines?”
“No, but from their devices and drops of the conversation, I could tell they had all of this.” Sheila replied.
Henry pulled back and squinted at her face for a while. “But how could they be so careless to let you discover all of these?”
“I’m not sure they had any idea I was discovering these things and they also never thought I’d get out alive, so they had no reason to be careful of me,” Sheila replied him.
He stared at the ground for a while and looked at her face. “I wished we had more information about this.”
“That’s all I know,” Sheila answered. “There’s still a lot to find out.”
“Did you tell Paul all these?” Henry asked.
“Yeah,” she nodded.
He frowned. “How come he never told me?”
There was silence for a couple of seconds.
She moved closer to him and held his hands.
“You shouldn’t be bothered about this, leave the FOX alone to do the job. You deserve rest, pursuing revenge would not get you rest.”
He took in a deep breath and then raised his face to look into her eyes.
She was also looking into his eyes and there seemed to be a deep connection between them. Henry couldn’t but admire her pretty face and her lips. His face moved close to hers and they were only a few centimeters apart.
At that moment, he felt his restlessness disappear. The peace he was looking for seemed to be in her eyes. But then, he saw something else. Sarah’s face flashed through his mind and Kellar’s voice rang in his head. He let go off her hands and pulled back immediately. He shook his head as he dipped his hand into his pocket.
“Sheila,” he called, letting out a tired breath. “Please return this to Adrian.”
She stared at his face as he placed Adrian’s phone in her palms. She only glanced at it and continued to stare at his face.
“Adrian loves you, he was willing to die without disclosing your location. I think he’s the right man for you,” Henry said to her in soft tones and used her both hands to grip the phone.
She tightened his face. “But I don’t feel any love for Adrian.”
Henry who had looked away turned to her again. “Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice. You can decide to start loving him right now, I’m sure he would make you happy.”
She stared at his face feeling somewhat confused.
“Adrian is the man for you, he’s willing to make things work with you.” Henry continued. “But I’m different, I may never get over the guilt for the death of my wife and son.”
He brought out his phone from the other pocket and dialed Paul’s number. He then turned to Sheila and took another long breath before he got up.
“Henry,” she called him.
He turned and looked at her face, putting on an assuring smile. “Adrian loves you, you’ll be happy with him.
He turned back again to see Paul Edwards already walking back into the living room.
“You ready?” Paul asked.
“Yeah,” Henry nodded and then turned to look at Sheila again.
Paul also stopped and briefly stared at Sheila. “Let’s go,” he finally said to Henry and followed behind as they walked to the exit door.
Sheila watched him leave without turning again to look at her. She dragged her body up on the seat and rested her back against the backrest properly, with her head tilting upwards.
“You’ve never told me Sheila mentioned anything about the Wolves technological work,” Henry accused Paul as they stepped out of the house, walking side by side.
“I didn’t need to since you were going to hear it from her and you’re supposed to let the FOX take total control.”
“I haven’t decided I won’t be involved yet,” Henry corrected him.
“You have no choice,” Paul snapped. Henry stopped and stared at his face. “If you continue, the FOX will declare you as a criminal and come after you.”
“That does not move me,” Henry shook his head cynically and continued to walk. “I stop only when I want to.”
“I know it doesn’t move you, but do you realize you’d be killing a hundreds of innocent FOX juniors if you really decide to continue?”
Henry glanced at him again, this time with squinted eyes. “Tell them not to get in my way,” he said and hastened his steps towards the gate.
Paul Edwards took some more steps with him and stopped as they got closer to the gate.
“Carl,” he called from where he stood.
Henry stopped and turned.
“I’ll be expecting your call.”
Henry shook his head and turned back without replying. Paul Edwards watched him walk out through the gate before he turned back to the house.
2 Hours Later
Henry had been quiet since he got back into the vehicle and they made their way back. So many thoughts were in his mind and it was becoming a struggle for him. He believed he had made the decision for letting Sheila off his mind. Adrian was truly the best option for her for he only could give her the peace she deserved.
It seemed impossible to Henry that he would ever get over the guilt of letting his family die. He was scared that the same would happen to Sheila if he remained close to her. He needed to keep her safe by totally staying away from her.
Another thing that bothered his mind was Hutton Ryker and how to stop the Wolves. He wasn’t afraid of who Hutton Ryker was as he believed that light would always prevail over darkness no matter how powerful the forces behind the darkness were. What actually bothered him was how H-force who was so committed to the FOX and protecting lives became the exact opposite.
He also found it difficult to forget that particular day he opened his eyes while someone running had him on his shoulder. He had gone unconscious again shortly after but he never forgot that short moment of horror. Bullets were flying around from a terrible gang who was giving them a hot chase but this man held onto him until they got to safety.
He remembered waking up after two days to be told the story of how H-force had carried him. He didn’t need to ask for how long because he knew how far that forest was to the main town. It took him a couple of weeks to recover and he barely saw H-force to thank him. The only times he saw H-force was on the parade grounds and the man seemed to always disappear after they were dismissed from the field. After some time, he never saw him again and no one seemed to know where he had gone. Rumors had it that he was transferred but no one he asked ever had accurate information. Only a few hours ago did Paul Edwards explain that H-force was dismissed secretly and sent to prison in another country for two years. It had been made secret to save him shame as a reward for his achievement in the FOX.
However, Henry still found it confusing that H-force could ever decide to become a terrorist. He took in a deep breath after several hours of thinking and re-positioned himself on the seat. He took out his phone and dialed Paul Edwards.
“Hello Paul,” he greeted in a calm tone. “I think it could be difficult to kill H-force myself, so I’ll stepping down for the FOX to continue