Edited by Margaret Onatade
Rex took another look towards the window, this time for a longer period. He squinted as he spotted something strange outside through one of the holes.
“Go down now!” He yelled as he dragged Sheila to the floor with him. At that same time, bullets rained into the building through the windows. “F**k!” Rex cursed and looked at Henry from where he was on the floor. He still held on to Sheila’s shirt at the back. Henry was also on the ground now. “Who the heck did you come with?”
Henry had yet to answer when gas grenades were launched into the place.
“Damn it!” Rex cursed and pulled Sheila up with him, running with her further into the house. Something dropped from his body just beside Adrian who was struggling on the chair he was tied to. Fortunately for him, a large circular pillar was in the same line with him, protecting him from bullets from the window.
“Morris!” Henry screamed as he watched Rex drag Sheila along with him away from the hall. He got up and proceeded in the same direction.
The launched grenades were already dispelling the gas around the hall. Henry almost forgot Adrian as the gas from the grenades was already reducing visibility. Fortunately, he heard Adrian’s muffled scream and stopped just before entering the same entrance as Rex and Sheila.
“Shi*t!” he cursed under his breath as he rushed to Adrian. Luckily, he found a pair of scissors on the floor close to Adrian’s chair.
It took him only thirty seconds to cut off the ropes on Adrian’s legs and hands. He pulled him by the arm and they proceeded in the same direction as Rex and Sheila.
They stepped into another open hall which wasn’t as large as the previous one. It was the hall where Rex had previously kept Adrian.
Henry quickly closed the door and paused for a couple of seconds, trying to exhale some of the dangerous gas and breathe in fresh air. Adrian who had also taken in some of the gas fell on his butt and quickly removed the tape from his mouth to breathe properly.
After catching his breath again, Henry quickly scanned the hall with his eyes, trying to see where Rex and Sheila must have gotten out from.
“We gotta go,” he said to Adrian as he finally located a hole in the wall.
He got to the hole quickly and waited there for Adrian who was still struggling to get up.
“We need to leave now,” Henry yelled at Adrian after confirming from the signs on the ground that Rex and Sheila had just passed through the place.
Adrian was halfway to the hole when sounds of more gunshots into the building rent the air. He tripled his speed to the hole, disregarding his lightheadedness.
Henry let him pass through before following. The hole led into a smaller room. On the floor at one corner, there were two guns – a long and a short one – and some ammunition scattered on the floor.
Henry was about to proceed towards the guns but looked back and noticed there was a large metal board and a lock by the wall for the hole. He realized that Rex must have left it open for them.
“Get that for me,” He pointed Adrian to a huge padlock at the other end as he lifted the metal board to cover the hole.
<<<< A brief moment earlier
“Can you use a gun?” Rex asked as he stepped out of the hole after Sheila.
She stared back at his face, not knowing what to say in response.
Rex grabbed her by the back of her neck and dragged her with him towards the corner where there were guns on the floor.
“What the f**k is happening?” Sheila asked, partially in fear and confusion.
“There’s no time to ask questions,” Rex knelt beside the guns and quickly strapped on a waste pouch. He put two pistols and some cartridges into the waste pouch.
For the first time, Rex’s eyes were no longer on Sheila and she saw it as an opportunity to run. But before she could take another move, sounds of gunshots rent the air so loud that she had to cover her ears.
“Who the hell are shooting at us?” She yelled as she knelt beside Rex. He was loading the guns.
He ignored her question and handed her a gun instead. She stared at him, somewhat surprised.
“Come with me,” he got up and proceeded to the door which led outside, carrying a long gun with him.
He opened the door and peeped. She was behind him.
“Look here,” he pointed towards a path in the bush about eight meters from the building. “You’ll run towards that path and I’ll cover you. I’ll have to face that forward while you run, that’s why you’re with a gun so that you can sh00t any obstacle that appears in front of you. Can you use it?”
Sheila nodded in response.
“Okay, so I’ll step out first and you follow immediately,” Rex said and pushed the door further open. He was about to step out but noticed that she was reluctant.
“What about Henry and Adrian?”
“Carl will get Adrian out and join us later,” Rex replied in a confident tone. “We gotta go now or we linger and risk getting more Red Wolves to surround and overpower us.”
Sheila let out a sigh and glanced back once more. She wasn’t sure of what she was doing, but at that moment, the Red Wolves or whoever was shooting at them seemed more dangerous than Rex looked.
“Let’s go,” she finally agreed and moved closer to the exit with Rex. He peeped once again and then positioned the two revolvers in his hands properly.
“Now!” He yelled as he stepped out. He began to fire at the men in sight while moving towards the path with Sheila at the same time. She got to the path before him and glanced back. He brought down the last man and then hurried to join her. “Come with me.”
She glanced back again towards the door which they had just come out from, hoping to catch a glimpse of Henry or Adrian but none was in sight. She continued with Rex nonetheless, hoping Henry would be able to get out with Adrian as Rex stated.
Rex led her to what looked like an abandoned small hut. However, they found it neat as they got to the front.
“Go in there,” Rex said to Sheila while he sat down on a mud block to refill his gun. He threw a key at her. “Ride out the blue scooter.”
She picked the key on the floor and glanced at Rex once before heading into the hut. Less than a minute later, she was riding out with the scooter. She saw Rex in the middle of the path, firing guns at them.
He noticed her and quickly stepped back to join her. He sat on the bike facing backward instead.
“What the f**k!” She cursed on noticing his sitting position.
“Go now,” he instructed again after firing two shots at some men that appeared at the entrance of the bush path.
Sheila surged forward through the narrow path with the bike.
“The road is not straight. You’re gonna fall with the way you’re seated,” Sheila remarked.
Rex ignored her question and adjusted himself on the seat, leaning his back against hers. “Can you sh00t with a hand while you ride?”
“What? No,” Sheila replied in fear. The thought of having to sh00t while riding horrified her. That meant it was likely for someone to appear in front of them.
“Just keep riding,” Rex ordered.
They continued for about a minute before Rex ordered her to stop after being sure that no one coming after them was close enough to take a shot without being noticed. She halted and he turned to sit rightly.
“Let’s go,” he instructed again and she continued.
“How did you know I could ride a bike?” Sheila asked after a few seconds.
“I always try to know anything about anyone before meeting them,” Rex replied.
Sheila was silent again for some seconds. “The other bike I saw in that hut, who’s it meant for?”
“It was for your use,” Rex replied. “But Carl’s gonna take it now with Adrian.”
“What about the key?” Sheila frowned suddenly. “I didn’t see any key there.”
“Carl knows where to find the key,” Rex replied. “If I left the key where you could see it, the Wolves would be chasing us with the bike now.”
Sheila was again quiet for a while. Now, she could no longer understand what was happening.
First, Rex kidnapped Adrian and asked her to redeem his life. Now, they were both getting away from the Red Wolves and he trusted her enough to hand her a gun.
“Where are we going to?” She couldn’t stop herself from asking.
“Just ride,” Rex replied. “I’ll direct you.”
She was about to ask another question when she looked up and noticed something. Two choppers seemed to be heading in direction of the house where Adrian was held. They looked like police aircraft.
A thought suddenly popped in Sheila’s mind as she remembered seeing Rex ki*ll those men when they tried to escape to get the scooter.
“Those men we shot, were they police officers?” She asked Rex.
“You need to move faster, Sheila,” Rex ignored her question.
“You need to answer me,” she yelled at him. “Did we… did you ki*ll police officers?”
“Just ride the f**king bike,” Rex stubbornly refused to answer.
Suddenly, Sheila pulled the bike over by a tree and stepped down. She pointed her gun at him.
“I’m here because you forced me to come into this forest, now you want me to keep going with you after you shot police officers?”
“What the f*** is wrong with you, Sheila? Those men shot into the building to ki*ll anyone they could and you think they’re officers?” Rex squinted at her, adjusting his feet on the ground to balance the scooter.
Sheila let out a breath and narrowed her gaze. “But these are police helicopters,” she looked up at the choppers that just passed.
“Yes, they are. The police just arrived. The men that saw Adrian when he tried to escape must have reported it to them,” Rex replied. “But we must go now.”
“We?” Sheila squinted at him. “We are not going anywhere. We stay here until the police arrest you.”
“F**k, Sheila! We gotta go now,” Rex scoffed. “You think I wouldn’t have hurt you already if I wanted to?”
Sheila shook her head and let out a breath, not wanting to be deceived by him.
Rex took in a deep breath and then spoke in a calmer tone. “Listen, Sheila. I didn’t bring you here to hurt you. I just wanted to get your attention and the only way I could do that was through Adrian. Why do you think I have two bikes waiting for us?” He asked and paused. “That’s because we were all going to get away from here together when you arrived.”
“And why didn’t you want me to tell Carl if you don’t have any ulterior motives?” Sheila questioned.
“Because Carl has got something f**king him up on the inside,” Rex replied. “And he doesn’t know about it?”
“Who?” Sheila squinted at Rex’s face.
On the other end
After closing the hole, Henry proceeded to the corners where the guns were. He placed a knee on the floor and quickly picked up the guns and began to load them. Meanwhile, the gunshots were beginning to sound closer.
For some reason, Henry turned to look back and found Adrian sitting on the floor again.
“We gotta go now, man,” Henry said and got up with the guns. He noticed Adrian wasn’t looking too fine and proceeded towards him but stopped suddenly and turned towards the door. He hung the long gun around his arm and held up the pistol, moving slowly towards the door and ensuring he wasn’t in a straight line to the door.
His eyes were fixed on the door even as he proceeded with his feet as quietly as possible, hoping to spot even the slightest movement of the door. He had yet to get there when the door was pushed in from outside. However, Henry was close enough to the door and was also anticipating a break-in. He charged toward the intruder and grabbed the man’s hand as he tried to raise his pistol.
Henry fired a bullet from his pistol and quickly turned the man’s body to shield himself on the other side as he spotted another man from some distance outside the building pointing a gun towards the door. The bullet meant for him ran into the body of his human shield and Henry was quick enough to take an accurate shot at the shooter who dropped dead immediately.
Henry paused to look around. For a moment, the place was clear. He noticed the bush part that was directly opposite the door and also saw the choppers come from afar.
“Hey, we gotta go,” Henry entered back briefly.
Adrian was still sitting on the floor and looked weak.
“Are you okay?” Henry asked, but couldn’t leave the door this time. He opened it again to check. The road was still clear.
Adrian finally managed to get on his feet and then dragged himself towards Henry. He was breathing heavily. “Let’s go,” he forced out.
Henry opened the door and stepped out first, holding out his second pistol. “Stay behind me,” he said as he began to walk towards the bush path without turning his face away from the front.
They were close to the entrance of the bush path when Adrian noticed the choppers. “The police are here,” he said.
“We gotta leave, Adrian. We’ll get to talk to the police later,” Henry replied, hoping to dissuade Adrian in case he was thinking of waiting for the police.
A man appeared in front of them in the bush path as they got in. Henry was quick to gun him down before he could raise his gun. They walked a few meters forward and found a hut that was slightly off the bush path. At the junction formed between the bush path and the direction to the hut, Henry noticed signs of the motorcycle tyres. That was when he realized that Rex must have escaped with Sheila on a motorcycle.
He wanted to proceed along the bush path but stopped on second thought. Maybe he could get a hint about Rex’s movement from the hut, he thought.
“Stay here,” he said to Adrian as he proceeded alone towards the hut. He raised his gun and squinted deeply towards the hut as he noticed that someone was inside the place. He looked back and signaled for Adrian to follow him.
“I can’t go any longer, we gotta go to the police,” Adrian shouted from where he was.
“Shhh…” Henry turned back and hushed him quickly, placing a finger across his lips. Quickly, he turned again and charged towards the hut. He was quite sure that whoever was in it must have known he was coming after Adrian’s voice gave him out.
He fired two shots at the door before getting there after sensing that someone was close to it. With his feet, he pushed the door and stepped in. One of his shots had gotten a bullet into the man’s knee and he was already on the floor. He tried to sh00t but Henry was faster, sending a bullet into the man’s forehead.
“Damn!” Henry cursed under his breath and quickly searched the man’s body, hoping to find a clue. He found nothing and was impatient to search further. Then he got up and noticed the scooter. At first, he wondered what the scooter was doing there. He remembered the sign he had seen on the ground outside and wondered if the scooter just got into the hut instead of riding out as he thought. He proceeded closer and noticed there was no key there. He had not seen any key on the dead man’s body too.
He turned and looked around for a moment. Then, he looked at the scooter again. It looked too neat, unlike something that was ridden to the place. The key must be somewhere around, he thought as he looked around again. Then he suddenly remembered Adrian and rushed outside. –
“Fu*k! Adrian!” he yelled as he ran back to the bush path. He stopped abruptly before getting outside the path when he noticed Adrian rushing to one of the choppers. He hid inside the bush to check well. It was then he noticed that Emery Jack had come with the police. He turned back and ran to the hut, knowing that Adrian was safe.
After a few seconds of trying to start the scooter to no avail, he suddenly realized that Rex could have left it for him. And if Rex left the scooter intentionally, there was only one place he could have kept the key.
10 minutes later
Hutton was sitting comfortably in the backseat of the jeep, with two of his men in front. Another vehicle was following behind him.
He was dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie. There was a sort of confident look on his face, like someone who had just won a war. His men also had the same look.
The silence in the vehicle was disturbed when his phone rang. He picked it up where it was by his side and breathed in on seeing the caller.
“Hey, woman. How is it going?”
“It’s going bad,” Florence Brown replied from the other end. “We f**king have police officers here.”
“Damn it!” Hutton sighed. “But do you still have eyes on Carl and Rex?”
“No, but I think I know which way they took,” she replied.
“I’ll send more men around the area to you now, Florence. Track them down as fast as you can. ki*ll them both when you see them this time,” Hutton instructed.
“Can he talk now?” Emery Jack stepped back into the helicopter where a medic was attending to Adrian. There were three other officers there – the lead Inspector and two juniors.
Adrian passed out after getting to the police and had to be given first aid. The police were initially busy with the rest of the Red Wolves’ men, so it took them time before they could get back to him.
“They were here,” Adrian finally mumbled.
“Who was here?” one of the police officers moved closer. Emery Jack sat right in front of Adrian to listen to him.
“Henry and Sheila,” Adrian mumbled again. “Rex took Sheila with him.”
“Who the hell are Henry and Rex?” the Inspector asked and then looked at Emery Jack’s face to see if he had a clue.
“Henry is Sheila’s friend,” Emery Jack replied. “But I don’t know who Rex is.”
“Rex kidnapped me,” Adrian managed to speak again.
“What? The kidnapper took Sheila with him?” Emery Jack grabbed the arm of the seat on which Adrian was resting.
Adrian nodded. “He left with her about two minutes before you guys showed up. I wanted to tell you immediately but I…”
“What was Sheila and Henry doing here?” the Inspector interrupted him.
“Rex threatened to ki*ll me if Sheila didn’t come here. He asked her to come alone but I think she told Henry about it,” Adrian answered after drinking some of the liquid from the cup the medical officer offered him.
“Do you know which way they went?” Emery Jack asked impatiently.
Adrian raised his hand and pointed towards the bush path. “Henry wanted us to go after them.”
Emery immediately got up and proceeded outside.
“You need to stay here, Mr. Emery,” the police officer followed him immediately. Emery stopped for a second. “We don’t know how many more dangerous men are on the way. You should stay here safely and wait. I’ll lead the men to search through this forest. They couldn’t have gone far.”
“I ain’t staying back, Inspector. If anyone is leading the search for my daughter, it will be me.”
Henry finally got out of the bush path into a village on the scooter. He kept riding straight down the road until he located a tree and paused to rest. He parked the bike and checked his body to see if he had gotten any wounds but there were none.
He looked to the left and right from where he was under the tree. There was only one way he could see – straight down. He was quite sure Rex would not have stopped at a nearby building close enough to the forest for the Red Wolves or police to catch up with him quickly.
After a few seconds more, he started the bike and continued down the road. He began to meet villagers walking along the road, some carrying firewood and others farm produce. They were speaking a different language which sounded familiar to him. He just wasn’t sure where he had heard it before.
He continued down the path on the scooter until he got to a junction. There were three routes before him – left, right, and forward. There was a small pavement in the center and a statue of a woman.
Henry got to the center and paused. He looked around, not sure of where to go. Then he suddenly looked at the statue behind him. He had seen that statue before, he thought, and squinted at it for a while.
“Damn!” he exclaimed under his breath as he finally remembered the place. He had been to that same village some years back with Rex. But everything there had changed. Even the statue behind him had been slightly modified. Now, Henry realized why their language sounded familiar.
He raised his head and looked towards the different routes facing him again. A sigh of frustration escaped his lips. He wasn’t too sure of what to think.
What was Rex doing and why was he doing it? Those were questions he needed answers to. At first, Rex seemed like an enemy.
But then, he wouldn’t have left the hole by the wall open if he didn’t want Henry and Adrian to escape through it. He also dropped the scooter key somewhere only Henry could find it. That meant Rex had deliberately left the scooter for him to find. Everything pointed to one fact, Rex wanted them to meet somewhere. And there was only one place in that village Rex could have gone to wait – an old safe house of the FOX where they used several years ago.
Henry quickly brought out the device in his pocket and opened the map. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure if he had saved the location of the place somewhere in his mail or what he had even saved it with. He needed to remember the name of the village to increase his chances of finding the location.
Quickly, he looked around to see if anyone was passing by. He spotted another three men just some meters into the road ahead of him. Three men were sitting there, they seemed to be resting. They looked like the perfect people to ask the question.
He proceeded there quickly on his scooter and stopped. The men got up from the ground on seeing him. They stared at him with caution. One of them turned to reduce the volume of the radio they were listening to.
“Hello,” Henry waved and managed to put on a smile.
The younger of the three men waved back at him, without a smile on his face.
“What is the name of this place?” Henry asked in pidgin English. He was sure they understood pidgin, even though they most communicated in their local language.
“Eshana,” the younger boy replied.
“Thank you,” Henry smiled and nodded gently. Now, he could search through his online documents and find the saved locations relating to Eshana.
He began to move back his bike to leave and the men returned to their previous seating position. They increased the volume of the radio again. Henry was about to kick on the bike when something that was said on the radio caught his attention. The station was reporting the news in pidgin English and they just mentioned something about Bethanna.
Henry moved closer to the men again. They stared at him but did not stand up. From his demeanor, they could tell he was only interested in listening to the radio.
The newscaster made a recap of the violence that happened in the Bethanna capital that morning and also talked about the terrorists that were caught causing havoc on the road. The section about Bethanna ended when it was mentioned that the now-acting President had installed a new FOX chairman.
Henry thanked the men again and turned his bike to leave. He was about to kick it on when a thought came to his mind.
He froze for some seconds and his eyes widened in fear. His heartbeat increased twice its regular speed. He quickly took out his phone and dialed Samantha’s number. She answered almost immediately.
“Hey, Sam. Have you gotten back to the lodge?”
“No, but we’re close,” Samantha replied. “We should be there in less than four minutes. I’m really…”
“Hold on, Sam. I think you may be right. There’s something fishy. Please tell me, was there anything you saw that made you suspicious?”
“No,” Samantha replied. “I didn’t see anything and I think you were right. I was just acting up unnecessarily…”
“Listen, Sam. This is not about what you said,” Henry interrupted her again. “There’s something fishy about the Red Wolves chasing you.”
“Is there?” Samantha asked. “You were right when you said Hutton didn’t need anyone to tell him our location.”
“Yes, I was right. He didn’t need anyone to tell him our location, but he could have gotten someone to tell him about the cars,” Henry replied.
“The cars?” Samantha sounded unsure. “I think the security cameras will give him enough information for him to find out which cars were ours.”
“That’s not all, Sam. The President just handed over the FOX to Hutton a few minutes ago and that’s strange. If Hutton wanted to chase and ki*ll you guys, they would have taken over the FOX immediately after the former President stepped down. That way, he would have been able to use the FOX to arrest you guys easily and Mark could not have helped you.”
“What are you saying, Henry? I’m getting scared.”
“Hutton did not want to ki*ll you guys, he has some other plans. The chase was only a distraction from the real thing.”
“What could that real thing be?”
“I don’t know,” Henry sighed. “But there’s a possibility that he knows the lodge.”
“F**k! That better not be true…”
“I’ll call you back, Sam,” he added and ended the call. Immediately, he dialed Paul Edwards. Luckily, Paul answered almost immediately.
“Hey, Henry. How’s it going over there?”
“Paul, is everyone there?”
“Everyone is present, except for Samantha and Dave who are close already,” Paul replied.
“I need you to confirm for me, Paul. Check if everyone is in and gather them, and what about Sarah and Kellar.”
At the Hideout
“I left Sarah and Kellar only a couple of minutes ago,” Paul replied as he got up from the sofa. “Give me a minute to check everyone else.”
Mark was in the living room with him but the rest of the team was in the control room. Paul was headed there when he met Maxwell coming towards the living room.
“Gather everyone now,” Paul ordered Maxwell. “Henry wants to speak to all of us. Let’s all be here in the living room in a minute.”
He returned after watching Maxwell turn back to carry out his order.
“Henry, what’s happening over there?” Paul asked, returning to his seat.
“Nothing, everything is under control. I just need to make sure that it’s the same over there.”
“I assure you that we’re all fine, Henry,” Paul replied. He looked up and saw the other guys walking in. “They’re here now,” Paul said to Henry and then put the phone on loudspeakers. “You can speak with them.”
“Maxwell,” Henry called out.
“Hey boss, I’m right here,” Maxwell answered immediately.
“Jennifer,” Henry called and she answered similarly. He called Evelyn too and she answered. For a while, he delayed.
“Steve and Mark are also here,” Paul mentioned, thinking Henry had forgotten the other names to mention.
“What about Maria?”
“Maria?” Paul looked up and noticed she wasn’t there.
“She said she was craving some snacks and stepped out to get them about seven minutes ago,” Steve answered.
“Maria is not there?”
“She stepped out to get some snacks,” Steve repeated.
Henry took in a deep breath. “Paul, get everyone out of there now.”
“What’s happening, Henry?”
“Get everyone out, now!” Henry yelled.
“Okay,” Paul replied. “You heard it, everyone, we gotta get the hell out of here now. Get everything you can get and let…”
“Don’t take anything, just get out!” Henry yelled again. “You can only get back into the house when everyone is present, including Maria.”
“Okay, move it, motherf***ers!” Paul yelled at the guys, with the same energy he was getting from Henry.
Henry took slow deep breaths to calm himself. He could hear some sounds but he was sure what was happening.
“Are you moving everyone out already?” Henry asked.
“Yes…Getting Sarah and Kellar with me right now. We gotta…”
Henry gasped as he heard a loud sound and the connection went off. He wasn’t sure what it was. He dialed Paul’s number again but it was switched off.
The rate of his heartbeat doubled again as he scrambled to dial Samantha’s number
Ninety seconds earlier
“What do you think we should do?” Samantha asked Dave for the umpteenth time.
“I don’t know, Sam,” he gave her the same reply. “I think we should wait until we get Henry’s call before going in.”
They were now so close to the lodge and could see it from where they were.
“Driver, stop here,” Samantha ordered the taxi man, pointing to a place he could pull over.
The man obeyed.
“How much is our bill now?” Dave asked.
The taxi man showed him the reader. Dave took out the money from his wallet and handed it to the man. He and Samantha stepped out of the car and watched the man drive away.
“What do we do now?” Samantha asked again.
“You’re gonna make me puke next time you ask that question,” Dave scowled at her. “Let’s just walk slowly towards the house while we wait for Henry’s call.
The two of them began to walk slowly. At their pace, it would take them less than three minutes to get to the house.
“So, now you got Henry thinking there’s a mole too?” Dave remarked as they continued.
“He said it wasn’t me,” Samantha replied and glared at him.
“Then, who was…” Dave could not complete his sentence as an explosion rocked the place at that moment, causing a loud sound and vibration that made them stagger. Some other passersby fell. Commotion followed suit on the road as some drivers lost control and some hit the brakes suddenly.
“No…No…No,” Samantha gasped for air desperately as she stared in horror. The lodge had gone up in flames right before their eyes. “No!” Samantha screamed out loud and then dashed towards the lodge.
Dave was also in shock and couldn’t close his mouth as the smoke and dust filled the atmosphere. He was lost for a moment until he suddenly saw Samantha running towards the place.
“Samantha!” he yelled and followed after her immediately.
Luckily, he was able to catch up with her before she got too close.
“Let me go!” Samantha cried as Dave grabbed her and pulled her to the ground. She struggled to free herself but he held on to her strongly. Her phone dropped from her pocket to the floor.
Dave’s eyes went towards the burning building from the floor where they were. Tears filled his eyes even as he held onto her strongly.
Samantha’s phone began to ring on the floor. Henry was calling, but the two of them were too lost in the realm of grief to notice the ringing phone.
Samantha got too weak to keep struggling and burst into uncontrollable tears.
To be continued