A half-unclad lady was sitting at the center of the room while seven people surrounded her. She was the lady who was found unconscious beside dead Trip. Those standing around her included Hutton, Kahn, Chanda, Hakim, Emily, and two of the club’s security officers.
“If you didn’t see her face, who of the club girls do you think it could be?” Kahn asked her.
She raised her gaze to his face. “I don’t have an idea, it was so fast. Immediately I got in, she grabbed me and covered my face with the piece of cloth.”
“So, you can’t recognize her with anything? Not even her height or how her hands felt?”
The girl looked confused for a second before she looked up. “I can’t,” she answered, shaking her head thoughtfully. “The only thing I saw was that she wasn’t putting on her shoes. Her shoes on the floor and everywhere else was a mess.”
“Is there anything about the shoe that was strange?” Kahn questioned.
The girl shook her head again. “It’s the standard one each one of us puts on.”
“I think we should try bringing all the girls on duty that night…” the head security man tried to suggest. However, Kahn raised his palm towards him to stop him.
“Bringing in over 50 girls wouldn’t help, she doesn’t even remember a thing about the attacker,” Kahn said and then turned to glance at Hutton who was standing quietly beside him.
After a while, Kahn turned back to the head security man. “Have you guys gone through the list of everyone that got into the club last night?”
“There were only three non-invited guests,” the security head answered. “Two who stole the tickets from the guests on their way here, and the one who got in through the backdoor.”
“And you were not able to fish the intruders out before all the guests left?” Kahn questioned.
“No, it seemed they left earlier. We counted them leaving and checked, those three of them were missing.”
Kahn remained silent for a moment and then turned to stare at the lady in the center. After some seconds of indecision, he signaled to the security official. “Take her out and bring in both guards.”
They all waited in silence as the security officials took out the girl and returned with two men, the one who was knocked out by Dave at the backyard and the other one who was knocked out by Henry. The seat at the center had been taken away, so the men had to stand, unlike the lady.
“The attack on our club today was so unfortunate, I hope you guys weren’t injured,” Kahn began.
“Just some slight injuries, nothing serious. Thank you,” the first man replied.
“Yeah, nothing serious too,” the second one joined.
“Good!” Kahn remarked. “So, I’ll start with you,” he added, directing his gaze to the man whom Dave knocked out.
The man nodded to show he was ready.
“Tell us how it happened, how you got knocked out,” Kahn requested and then folded his arms to listen.
“It was after the explosion at the garage, we were rushing out to assist. I noticed the man coming trying to come in. He wasn’t one of our staffs here, neither was he one of the extra officials employed for the night’s event…”
“How are you so sure he isn’t one of the extra officials? Do you recognize all of them?” Kahn cut in.
“We had the same uniform for the night,” the head security official replied, trying to answer for the man who delayed for some seconds.
“No, actually, it wasn’t the uniform. He was dressed like us,” the interrogatee countered, staring at his direct boss’ face for a moment. “It was the tag he didn’t have. He could have walked in easily but we had given instructions that only in-house officials could go in through the back,” he paused for a minute and stared at Kahn, trying to catch a breath. Kahn nodded to show he was listening and signaled for him to continue. “I tried to stop him because I didn’t recognize him as an in-house officer, then I noticed he also didn’t even have a tag. He attacked me after I asked him of the tag. He was quite strong; I’m sure he’s a trained person.”
“Can you recognize him?” Kahn questioned.
The man frowned. “Well, I’m not sure. I’ve never seen him around here before.”
“So you can describe him in any way?”
“He didn’t look anything special. Other than his slightly built muscles, I didn’t notice anything else.”
After thirty seconds of silence, Kahn turned to the second man without making any remarks. “Big man, tell us how it happened to you?”
“My position was towards the restroom,” the man began. “I was there when the attacker came to report of someone who needed help inside. I tried to check it when he attacked.”
Kahn squinted his eyes at the man in disbelief. “Come on, you can’t f***ing tell me you followed him like a fool.”
“No, I didn’t. I was careful. But I must admit I got foolish when I saw water dripping from the entrance. I walked past him to check what was wrong and he got me,”
“You’re big, how did he get you so easily?” Kahn asked.
“He was big too,” the man replied. “Maybe huger than I am.”
Kahn and Hutton quickly exchanged glances. “Can you recognize him if you see him?”
“Well, I looked at his face properly. I could try.”
“That’s fine,” Kahn nodded and stared thoughtfully for a moment. “By morning, you all will talk to the police. Make sure you give them enough information to help them,” he said to the men and then turned to the security head. “I think we can all rest for tonight. Investigations would continue later. You must send all the footages gotten from last night before noon to the director. Ensure it covers from the time of the guests’ arrival to when they left.”
“Will get it done,” the security head replied with a nod.
“You can leave now,” Kahn dismissed the security men and they all turned out towards the door. He turned to Emily. “Once he gets the footages to you, ensure I have them immediately.”
“Definitely, sir,” Emily replied.
Kahn then heaved a sigh and said to her in a relaxed tone: “I think you can leave now too. You deserve some rest.”
“Thanks and Goodnight,” Emily smiled before turning out of the place.
“Anyone else thinks this is f***ing Carl Winston?” Chanda fumed after they were left alone.
“It sounds and smells like him,” Kahn remarked. He turned to Hutton and noticed he was silent. “What do you think, Hutton?”
“It’s confusing,” Hutton raised his head. “The smooth entry and exit make it look like Carl but the impact doesn’t.”
“What do you mean?” Chanda asked.
“Carl won’t f***ing come into that club and leave after killing Trip only. For him to have gained such smooth access, then he would have gotten to us somehow.”
“What if he didn’t know we were in there?” Kahn questioned. “Remember you said Trip was stupid. They could have trailed him alone to the club.”
“A girl killed Trip, but there are two other men in the picture. One was dressed in the security uniform from outside and the other who fits Carl’s description stole a shirt from one of our men. Carl wouldn’t do all that to ki*ll Trip alone. Besides, there seems to be no connection between Trip’s death and the two intruders that broke in.”
“You’re right,” Kahn remarked. “As it is, we cannot connect the men to the lady who killed Trip.”
“And that makes it quite confusing. Who were that men and what did they want?”
“What if they came for us but something went wrong?” Chanda suggested. He looked somewhat fretful.
“Carl came for us and left without attacking?” Hutton asked rhetorically, staring at Chanda’s face. “I think that’s quite impossible. We were left without guards at some point, if he was here for us, he could have hit us easily. Why would he have turned back?”
The man stared at each other’s faces in silence, different questions running through their minds without answers.
One could hear the distant sound of a ticking giant clock from afar as the night slowly faded away.
Henry was already up before the rest of the team that morning. He stood in his armless top and shorts, enjoying the cool morning breeze at the verandah of the hotel’s suite.
That morning, he had exercised for only twenty minutes and had gone to take his bath. He decided to spend the rest of the morning enjoying the freshness of the day and enjoying the view from the eighth floor of the hotel where they were.
It was exactly eight o’clock when he noticed someone join him at the verandah. He bent and turned back slightly to catch a glimpse of who walked out. He remained in the position until Dave walked close to him and also placed his hands on the rails.
Dave was dressed in a pair of blue jeans, a white shirt, and a pair of black sneakers. It was obvious he was on his way out.
“Good morning, Henry,” Dave greeted, after exhaling the cool air deeply.
“Hope you slept well, Dave,” Henry replied in a cheerful tone as he looked away slowly and fixed his eyes back on the hotel view.
“I tried, did you sleep well?”
Henry smiled. “I’ve seen worse nights,” he smacked his lips. “Last night wasn’t bad.”
He turned his body slowly towards Dave before turning his gaze to him. “I see you’re going somewhere.”
“Yeah,” Dave replied sharply. He turned to Henry for a second and then looked away again. “I want to visit Evelyn.”
Henry chuckled and shook his head. “You’re joking, right?” He said and returned to his previous position.
“I’m serious,” Dave replied.
Henry smiled without looking at him. “And where are you going to find her?”
“At the Force hospital,” Dave replied. “I spoke to her Mum and she told me where to find her.”
“Did she also say anyone can just walk in to see her?” Henry asked.
Dave sighed. “No, she said it was quite difficult to see her. But I’m going to find a way to get to her.”
“You’re not thinking properly, are you?” Henry turned to him, with a frown on his face.
“What else do I need to think about?” Dave asked. “She’s a part of the team and it only makes sense if we’re there for her in a time like this.”
“And who told you she needs us to be there at the hospital with her to be ‘there for her’?” Henry asked. “And if you’re really considering the team, why are you the only one going?”
“Because it would be easier for me to gain access to her alone, than for the whole team,” Dave answered.
Henry’s face softened and he scoffed. “You’re falling in love, right? That’s what this is all about.”
Dave squinted at him. “No, it’s none of that. It’s just care.”
“Hehe,” Henry’s smile broadened as he placed a hand on Dave’s shoulder and drew him closer. He placed his arm around Dave’s shoulder and they both turned to look down the floor.
“I can’t stop you from falling in love but I thought you would know doing it at such a time cannot be good for us as a team,” he said calmly.
“It’s nothing like that,” Dave refuted.
“Come on, I’ve seen it in your eyes,” Henry retorted and then turned again to stare Dave in the eyes. “Love is a great feeling which I believe you deserve but right now, you can’t have it.”
“But what if it’s love? Why should you be telling me what to feel or not?” Dave shrugged, staring at Henry with squinted eyes.
“You’re not allowed to fall in love while we’re on this mission? It’s either you ki*ll your feelings or you quit the mission,” Henry replied assertively.
“Damn it, man! You can’t tell me what to do all the time,” Dave flared up and turned to Henry. “You forgot I’m not here for you. We’re partners in this only trying to get revenge for Cole’s death.”
“And I f***ing pay you for being on this with me; so I call the shots,” Henry fired back.
Dave was quiet for a while but was visibly infuriated. He managed to calm himself before he spoke.
“You know what? You can hold the pay henceforth. I remain in this mission and you don’t f***ing tell me what to do anymore,” Dave slammed and turned to leave immediately.
“If you continue this way, you’re going to put us in a deeper sh*t than Jennifer did,” Henry said calmly and then turned forward to place his hands on the rails again.
Dave stopped and turned back. “What the heck are you talking about? You’re comparing me with Jennifer? She bleeping messed up the whole thing by not sticking to the plan. But this is different and I’m just bleeping tired of you bossing me around.”
“I don’t boss people around, Dave. I lead!” Henry fired at him. “I’ve never been a boss to you and I never treated any of you like I was,” he paused and then took in a few breaths. “You’re getting into the same mess as Jennifer. She couldn’t control herself because of her feelings and you are here about to break the mission rules because of your feelings.”
“I can manage what I feel; you’re the one who has failed in managing people!” Dave slammed. “Jennifer was just plain stupid yesterday. It wasn’t about her feelings. We all felt the pain of Cole’s death but we weren’t stupid. But you’re blind to that because you’re not the good leader you think you are.”
At that moment, Samantha who had been hearing their voices appeared at the entrance.
“You’re the blind one, Dave. Love is blinding you and you’re also blind to realize why Jennifer took that step,” Henry replied calmly. “Jennifer was stupid because she was in love with Cole. And you’re also getting stupid because you’re in love too.”
Henry’s words seem to hit Dave for a moment as he paused to think. He took two steps backwards and then drew in a breath. He glanced at Samantha and then back at Henry. After that, he shook his head and walked back into the house.
Samantha stared silently at Henry’s face for a while, fighting the urge to ask questions, until he turned his back to her. She walked closer to his side and also rested her elbows on the handrail like him.
“Is everything okay?” She whispered.
“Yeah,” Henry replied in a calm voice. “Dave’s just trying to go off the line but I’m sure he’ll be back to his senses.”
Samantha turned and looked towards the door for some seconds, picturing again how Dave left, looking angrily. She felt like asking more questions but decided to change the discussion.
“Were you able to sleep last night?”
“Why not? I slept well,” Henry glanced at her and then looked away. “Don’t tell me you couldn’t catch some sleep.”
“I slept well too, I was just a little worried about you,” Samantha replied.
Henry turned to her slowly and squinted at her. “Worried about me? Why?”
“You looked so disappointed and weak yesterday. I was wondering how you’ll take the failure of yesterday’s task,” Samantha replied. The tone of her voice made it obvious she was really concerned.
“That was my worry too. I was wondering how you guys would take it. And as it is, Dave hasn’t taken it well,” Henry answered and then faced forward.
“I don’t understand,” Samantha shook her head. “I overheard part of your discussion with Dave. But this isn’t about his madness; it’s about you. You seemed so down yesterday,” she paused and then looked at his face. “You look better this morning though.”
“I was never worried about me, I was worried for you guys,” Henry stated. Samantha stared at his face, looking more confused and seeking clarification. “I had us retreat because I didn’t want anyone of us to get hurt.”
Samantha narrowed her gaze at his face. “Did we have a choice to continue?”
Henry looked away. “Yeah, we could have continued if you were FOX agents.”
“Are you serious? We could have continued truly?”
“Yeah, you confirmed that Hutton and Kahn were where we wanted them to be. We could have proceeded to nab them but with Jennifer’s missing link. That missing link made it an unwise move for our safety.”
“What the f***!” Samantha seemed surprised. “You made us go that far to come back with nothing even when we still stood a chance.”
“Yeah!” Henry widened his eyes at her. “Don’t you get it. It was unwise to proceed because there was a possibility we won’t all come out alive.”
“And wasn’t it also possible that we all come out alive?”
“Yeah, it was. But I can’t make decisions on uncertainty. The best option was to leave.”
“What the heck! You just make all the decisions for us without considering what we wanted. Why would you tell us to leave when we were all willing to stay? We wanted to fight and didn’t mind risking our lives.”
“Well, you didn’t mind risking your lives. But I wasn’t willing to risk your lives,” Henry fired. “I f***ing told you to organize the others and leave the place but you refused. I could have handled it alone”
“You didn’t expect me to have done that, did you?”
Henry moved closer to her and held her by chin. Raising her face, he stared her straight in the eyes. “The only life I was going to risk there was mine. Jennifer made it risky for us at the moment she went off the plan but you made it worse by refusing to leave.”
Samantha dragged in a breath and turned away. She took a step further and was about walking away when Henry stopped her by placing a hand on her shoulder.
He reached for her other shoulder and made her turn to face him.
“Understand me, Sam. I’m not trying to blame anyone for this. We did what we had to do, what we just need is to move forward from here,” Henry tried to explain.
“You don’t believe in us,” Samantha stated.
Henry seemed confused at first. “What? Of course, I do believe in you. That’s why I’m working with you.”
“So, why did you think we could not handle the change in plan? All you needed was to change the plan and have us follow.”
Henry scoffed. “Come on, any plan I make at that point would have been a risky one. We’re talking about Hutton Ryker here. That ba***rd is deadly. Jennifer’s actions could have made him find out we were the ones in the club. He would have attacked us viciously if he discovered.”
“We all know who the f*** Hutton was but we were still willing to stay and fight,” Samantha replied. “That’s what matters most; not what you think you want for us.”
Henry sighed and then turned away. Samantha moved closer to him.
“You need to believe in us more than you fear for our lives,” she continued after placing a hand on his shoulder. “If you were willing to risk your life, why do you think we should be bothered about ours. As the leader that you are; you should respect our wish to go all in.”
Henry stared into her eyes silently as her words sank deep. He tried to say something but nothing could come out of his mouth.
After some seconds, Samantha took her hand off his shoulders and rested her elbows on the handrail. “So, is there anyway Hutton wouldn’t find out we were there.”
Henry cleared his throat and then placed his palms on the rails. “He would. The security cameras captured us going into the place. Even though we’ve got our faces hidden, that would only be to the police and security officials.”
“So, he’s going to know anyway, even after retreating?”
“Yeah, he would. Retreating only ensured we all returned alive,” Henry replied.
“Is there any chance that the police would be after us too?” Samantha questioned after taking some seconds to think.
“Hutton Ryker and his men would identify us but the police cannot even from the same material. And Hutton wouldn’t reveal our identities to them; so that’s out of it,” Henry answered.
“That means we only have to worry about Hutton coming for us,” Samantha asked.
“Come for us?” Henry raised a brow. “He’s not going to come for us; that would be a stupid move for him. He’s only going to be extremely careful.”
“And that makes it quite difficult for us to launch an attack on him again,” Samantha remarked.
Henry stayed quiet and only heaved a sigh. They maintained the silence for minutes until suddenly, an idea popped into Henry’s mind.
A smile appeared on his face and he turned to Samantha.
She raised her brow, wondering why he was smiling.
“I think this is going to make things more beautiful for us,” Henry began, flashing his teeth. “Once Hutton confirms we were there, he would be trying to find out how we got in. His mind would be distracted by the incident with Trip, he’s never going to know we came in through the club office. And that gives us the leverage we want.”
“I don’t understand how,” Samantha replied, confused.
“Maxwell is building a great relationship with Emily already,” Henry continued. The smile was still on his face but he was now staring over Sam’s head, at the wall behind. “He’s going to help us get more information.”
“Care to explain further?”
He turned his eyes to Samantha and held her shoulder. “You’ll understand when I explain to the team.”
With that, he turned towards the door and took out his phone. “Now, I got to confirm how the new team helping us at Anthanna is doing.”
To be continued