© Oluwatosin Emmanuel Oyinloye
Edited by John Genesis Emmanuel
Dave remained on his knees beside the bush where he had shot six times. He was lost in grief and had forgotten they were being chased by the FOX.
He felt a hand touch him on the shoulder and he looked up to see Henry’s face. Henry’s eyes were also red and heavy.
“We have to keep moving,” Henry said in a peaceful voice to him.
His lips trembled as he drew in the cold air deeply through his nostrils. He placed his palm on Henry’s palm which was on his shoulder as he rose slowly.
“The police will catch up with us soon, let’s leave now,” Henry added.
Dave nodded gently and without saying any word walked back to the car.
Henry turned and let out air from his mouth, watching as Dave got into the car. Samantha had also gotten back into the car but still had the door open.
He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to bottle up the grief he felt. After a few seconds of breathing in the cold air with his eyes closed. He opened his eyes and walked back hurriedly to the car.
They had wasted some time and the police would be so close to them already. The gunshots Dave had also sent in the air due to his outburst had attracted attention from other motorists and would further help the police locate them easily.
He started the car engine immediately and put on his seat belt.
“There’s every possibility that we now have several other vehicles coming from the front to meet us, we have to go ahead with the plan,” he said as he pulled into the road. “We get into the rural areas, get some disguise, and leave separately through different routes.”
He glanced at both of them to be sure they heard him as they gave no responses. “Do you guys have questions?” He asked and waited for their reply but none of them replied again. He decided to give further instructions only when they got out of the road.
“Damn it! I had this feeling they were going to escape again, that’s why I wanted us to kill them all immediately.” Kahn cursed angrily after watching on the screen how the FOX was in chase of Carl and his men.
Seated also with him were Hutton and Daysman. Hutton seemed not to be bothered about their escape as he remained calm while Kahn was furious.
“We should have killed them, Hutton,” Kahn finally directed his fury towards his partner. “We can’t keep letting them go while they pose a threat to us, they’ll keep giving us problems.”
Hutton still maintained his calmness and acted like he wasn’t hearing Kahn’s outburst. He picked his phone and began to use it when Kahn snatched it angrily from his hands.
“I’m talking to you, Hutton. You just made our lives more complicated with your decision,” Kahn raged, staring directly into Hutton’s eyes.
“Cut the crap man!” Hutton flared up and rose to his feet suddenly.
They both stared at each other’s face with mean-looking eyes for a moment.
“We had a better plan, the plan we had in place was better than killing them. It would have made the whole of it all smooth.”
“But the damn plan failed!” Kahn slammed back at him. “If we had killed them, it would have taken Carl Winston out of our way once and for all.”
“And can’t you see that it is all still in our favor?”
“What heck are you talking about?” Kahn squeezed his face in confusion as he took a step back. He glanced at Daysman to see if he understood what Hutton meant. “How is it in our favor?”
“It helps us get a perfect plan to keep our identity hidden after we finish all we want to do,” Hutton replied.
“Huh?” Kahn scoffed, still yet to understand Hutton’s point. “How does that help when he escaped without the FOX seeing his face? The FOX were chasing criminals whose faces they didn’t see.”
“They managed to escape physically but they did not escape with their identity, can’t you see that?” Hutton fired at him.
Kahn was quiet for a while, trying to figure out what Hutton meant.
Hutton returned gently to his sitting position. He began to explain calmly. “Carl Winston left in a hurry, he wasn’t able to cover his tracks. I sent information that will lead the FOX to his operation base. They would be able to extract information from him and his gang there in a few days.”
There was silence for a moment until Daysman spoke. “And how is that going to happen?”
“Carl and his team had their items in that building, their fingerprints would be everywhere. Even though the FOX did not see them, the forensics team will pull out their real identities in 48 hours maximum. They will be declared wanted.”
‘I still would have preferred him dead, Carl Winston would always be a threat to us as long as he’s alive.” Kahn insisted.
“He would no longer be a serious threat to us when he is distracted from different angles,” Hutton replied. “The FOX will be after him, crediting all our attacks to him and he would also have our distractions. He will only watch our steps but won’t be able to stop us.”
The FOX Corporation,
EPA Hill, Bexford
“Can someone tell me what is happening with the goddamn chase?” Paul Edwards roared as he walked into the operation hall.
About seven other FOX agents were in the hall. Five agents were sitting behind computers while Sylvanus was just ending a phone call.
“Our men heard some gunshots and were able to follow them,” Sylvanus turned to answer Paul who was walking towards him.
“Was anyone injured from the gunshots?” Paul asked, taking a seat beside Sylvanus.
“I think the men had some problems. We don’t know what happened but passersby confirmed that they suddenly pulled up and stepped out of the car. One of them started shooting into the air,” Sylvanus answered.
“How long will it take our men to get them?”
“We’re very close to them already,” Sylvanus said confidently. “Police officers from Venil are on their way from the other direction, there’s no way for them to escape.”
At that moment, Agent Mark walked in flanked by two junior agents.
Sylvanus and Paul turned to him, expecting a report.
“It’s confirmed, that center was used by the wolves. We found different kinds of explosives and their plans to attack three churches,” Agent Mark reported.
“Have you found anything we can use to trace any of them?” Paul got up and asked impatiently.
“We found an empty vehicle there,” Mark replied. “I already sent the data here to trace it.”
“Yes, we received it,” Agent Sylvanus confirmed Mark’s word and turned to one of the agents at the left-hand side. “Agent Peter, what’s the progress with the car?”
“Sire,” Peter turned to answer them immediately. “I’m still on it, I’ve traced it over to Benuit Bethanna Expressway but we can’t tell from what location it got into the expressway. But I found another car dumped along the road, I traced it and noticed that vehicle left during the early hours from Bexford to the route that morning. I’m yet to locate where in Bexford it moved from.”
“What else are you waiting for? Locate it!” Paul yelled.
“Sire…” Peter stammered. “The vehicle left for that route while it was still dark in the morning. It’s making it difficult to trail it.”
Paul got up and walked towards Peter. He stood behind him and scratched his jaw gently. “Can I see the dumped vehicle?”
Peter quickly turned to his computer to get the picture.
“It’s a black Honda Jeep,” Paul remarked after seeing the picture. “Get the plate number and find all locations where the vehicle has been for the past two days in Bexford.”
He was about to turn back to his seat when the operation line began to ring.
“Sir, we have a call from Agent Steve,” an agent sitting at the right-hand side said to Sylvanus.
Sylvanus quickly pick up a headset on the table in front of him and fixed it on. “Answer the call,” he said to the agent.
“SA Sylvanus,” Steve’s voice sounded loud enough to everyone through the external speaker.
“Tell me what’s up Steve,” Sylvanus replied.
“There was an accident with their vehicle, it’s in flames at the moment.”
“What, are the men inside the vehicle?” Sylvanus asked. “No signs of them yet,” Steve replied. “We’re trying to put out the fire.”
Paul Edwards quickly stepped forward and picked the extra headset. He signaled for Sylvanus to allow him to speak with Steve.
“Steve, you can’t waste time there,” Paul said into the mouthpiece. “Try as fast as possible to find out if they’re in the fire. It could just be an attempt to distract you while they get away.”
“Okay, I will confirm soon sir.”
“Do that and get me those idiots quickly,” Paul said before he took off the headset.
“Sir, I got the origin of the black Honda,” Peter raised his hand before Paul could sit. Paul turned to him quickly. “It’s a location here in Bexford. The vehicle has been going in and out of the place for a few weeks now.”
“Give us the location immediately,” Paul requested.
Peter called out the address while one of Mark’s partners wrote it down.
“Mark, get some men with you and go there right away,” Paul instructed Mark and then turned to Peter again. “Can we get footages of the past activities from the place?”
“Yes sir, I’m on it,” Peter replied.
Paul finally had his seat and took in a deep breath. Not long after the operation line began to ring again.
“Answer it,” Sylvanus instructed the Agent even before he could seek consent. He placed the headset on and so did Paul.
“Chairman sir?” Steve called from the other end to confirm if Paul Edwards was still there.”
“I’m listening to you Steve,” Paul replied.
“We’re proceeding further,” Steve continued. “There are no signs of the men here and no signs that anyone was hurt.”
“Move quick Steve, go get them.”
35 Minutes later
Samantha and Dave followed Henry silently through the bush path with their backpacks strapped to their backs. Although still dressed in suits, they all looked rough and dirty. Wet leaves and dark sticky substances from the bush path could be seen on their clothes and some drops on their faces.
They had been on the path for about twenty-five minutes, coming across both narrow and tiny routes. The walk continued until they came out at a junction linking three different routes.
“Guys,” Henry halted when they got to the junction. He waited for Dave and Samantha to step in front of him and took off his backpack before he continued talking. “The arranged accident cannot keep the police for long. They would soon start searching for us in this forest. These three routes lead to three different villages. Each of you will choose one of these two paths while I go the other way,” he continued, pointing them with his fingers. “It’ll take you only less than fifteen minutes to get into the next villages. Once you get into those villages, you locate the main bus stops quickly. From there, you join a bike or tricycle that will take you to the park where you can board vehicles to the closest town or city.”
“How certain are you that we would get bikes or tricycles easily?” Dave asked.
“I’ve been here before, I’ve been to the three villages,” Henry replied with a reassuring look at Dave. He waited a moment to be sure Dave was okay with his answer before he continued. “I would advise you to join tricycles if you get any. While you’re on the way to the nearest bus garage, wipe off everything you have on your phones. Drop your phones in the tricycles, making it look like it was forgotten…”
He stopped and watched as they stared at him confused. He was about to explain his reason when Samantha asked a question.
“How are we going to contact if we leave our phones?”
“You won’t reach me through my mobile number because I would also be leaving my phone behind,” he answered calmly. “The FOX must have discovered our operation center and it would take them less than four hours to break in and extract as much information as they can. That’s why I always told you to store nothing personal on those computers. Right now, they would also be in the process of discovering all the numbers that made calls from that location in the last few days. So, they would be able to extract your phone numbers and information about the device and begin to track us, that’s why we have to leave the phones behind.”
He paused again and looked at their faces. He was sure they understood his reason before he continued. “So you have to leave your phones behind and stay safe for the next two days. Then, you contact me on Friday with the central number.”
“With the central number?” They questioned simultaneously and then stared at each other with a surprising look.
“Yes, the central number. It will be reachable by Friday,” Henry replied.
“You’re leaving for Anthanna?” Dave questioned.
“No, I’ll set it up right here in Bethanna. None of us should leave for Anthanna yet, I need to settle some things before we can leave.”
“Are you certain we can reach you with that number while you’re here in Bethanna?”
“Yes, I’m a hundred percent certain,” Henry replied and then quickly looked around as he heard some sound. “We have to leave now. The two of you will take off your clothes quickly and change into the spare clothes in your bags. After that, you proceed quickly through those routes and follow every other thing I have told you.”
He paused and looked around again. By the time he looked at them, they were yet to take any action.
“Change your clothes now!” He said hurriedly, hitting his palms together to lay emphasis.
Dave began to take off his clothes right there while Samantha stepped a few meters away to undress.
“Please, bring the clothes you’re taking off to me,” Henry said while dialing a number on his phone.
His call was answered without delay.
“Hello Jenny, where are you now?” He spoke into the phone.
“I don’t know,” Jennifer replied in low tones, one could still sense the grief in her voice. “I’m in a cab and I’m not sure where I’m going to.”
“Okay, listen to me carefully,” Henry said and turned around to concentrate. “You have to leave the main city of Bexford, I suggest you find your way to Okta. It’s a small community where you can lodge in a small hotel. Make use of the map on your phone to get a clue of the direction. Then you have to wipe off everything on that phone and discard it.”
He waited to get a reply from her but got none. “Are you listening, Jenny?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Good,” he cleared his throat and continued. “You have to stay in Okta until Friday. Then, you call the central number I gave to you in El Deols. Do you remember that number?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Okay, once you call me on Friday, I would tell you the next step to take.”
“Please follow these instructions, Jenny.” Henry pleaded before he ended the call and turned back.
Dave was already done with his change of clothes and had folded the previous one. Henry quickly took out a nylon bag from his backpack and opened it for Dave to drop his clothes in it.
“What will you be doing with the clothes?” Dave asked him.
“I’ll be dropping them in a river along the way,” Henry replied. Samantha was also done and was walking towards him.
Dave squinted. “Why?”
“I’m taking them along to distract the FOX officials, I’ll be dropping a clue for them to make them follow my direction. So, they would chase only me and won’t be chasing both of you for a while, it will give you enough time to escape.” He replied, opening the nylon for Samantha to put the clothes in.
“But they’ll find the clothes at the river,” Dave remarked, still confused.
“Yes, it will further prove to them that they’re in the right direction. They’ll want to take the clothes as exhibits but it will be useless for them because I would have washed them in the water.”
Dave nodded after understanding the reason for Henry’s action.
“They’re already in this forest coming after us, the two of you have to leave now. I suggest that you do not stay in any major town,” Henry advised.
“How will you escape the FOX since you are redirecting all of them to chase after you?” Samantha questioned. “This route you’re taking leads directly where other security forces could be coming from.”
“Don’t worry about me, Sam. I’m going back into Bexford,” Henry replied.
“What the bleep!” Dave widened his eyes at him.
“It’s not the time to discuss this now, guys. I need to clear the mess in Bexford, else, we will all be declared wanted by Thursday.”
“And you’re doing it alone?” Samantha questioned further.
Henry flashed a quick look towards the direction where they came from as he heard some noise.
“You two have to leave right away, they’re close to us and they’re with dogs,” Henry said and quickly strapped his backpack on. “Please call me on Friday.”
20 Minutes later
Henry had just left the river after changing his clothes and washing all the previous clothes in it. He strapped his backpack on again and proceeded quickly out of the bush.
He checked the time on his phone. He hoped that Dave and Samantha had followed his instructions. If they did, they would be on their way out of the villages already. His plans to direct the police officers towards him had worked and he could sense them closer than ever. This time, he could hear the dogs barking clearly.
However, he wasn’t bothered about escaping from them as he knew his way around the forest well. The only thing that bothered his mind was how he was going to disrupt the FOX’s investigations in Bexford. He needed to do it quickly. If he failed, it would mean Samantha, Jennifer and Dave would be declared as criminals along with him. He wasn’t so concerned about himself but he couldn’t bear the thought that the three others would be labeled as International Terrorists and declared wanted throughout the world. That could turn their lives around forever