“Have you gotten the feeds from Maria?” Rex asked impatiently, speaking into the mouthpiece. “I need to have a look too.”
“Yes, just trying to follow now. I’ll send you the link to join,” Henry replied from the other end.
“Okay…” Rex quickly minimized the window on his tablet to open WhatsApp.
“Has he gotten the feeds?” Florence asked Rex.
Rex responded with a nod. “I’m waiting for the link.”
“How do we know the incoming assailants are with Hutton?” Florence questioned.
“With the ongoing tension and heavy security presence, no other group will be bold enough to come into Orien now. It can only be one related to Hutton Ryker,” Rex explained. The link popped up in his WhatsApp conversation with Henry and he quickly clicked on it.
“Oh!” Florence let out a breath. She opened the cubby box and took out two pistols. “We can’t wait and let Hutton’s mercenaries get here to help him. We have to speed things up.”
She put the guns in the holsters by her side and then stretched her hand to the back to take one of the long guns and a waist pouch.
She froze for a moment after looking up and noticing something from afar. Three FOX officers were running around as if they were chasing something. It took her a moment to realize that they were chasing after chickens. The items used to block the road had made it difficult for her to see.
“What the heck is happening, Rex?” She quickly looked at Rex, whose attention was fixed on the tablet device. “The FOX officers are chasing chickens.”
“Huh?” Rex raised his head quickly. One of the FOX officers had disappeared behind a building but he could still see two others, running around. “Sh*t!”
He quickly reached for the communicator device attached to his belt and switched it to connect to Shedrack. At the same time, he switched back to the window showing the FOX officers searching the truck.
“What the heck are you doing man? Those agents should be with you!” He yelled. “Leave the chickens to stray away and don’t get distracted!”
Rex fixed his eyes on the screen. He could see Shedrack shake his head and turn back to check for the officers running after the chickens. Shedrack dipped his hand into his pocket and took out a walkie-talkie.
Shedrack had yet to say anything when the sound of a gunshot rent the air. Rex quickly shifted the camera angle he was viewing from to see if the gunshot was from around the truck area. Two more gunshots followed immediately and Rex saw Shedrack falling to the ground.
“Damn it! They’ve gotten to Hutton,” he quickly dropped the tablet device and signalled to Florence.
Hutton pushed away the bodies of the men from the way as he hurried down the truck. He had shot the two men on the truck.
The FOX agents who heard the gunshots tried to respond quickly, but the terrorists were ahead of them. Wyatt gunned down Shedrack before he could bring out his gun. His two partners also dealt with the remaining FOX soldiers around the vehicle.
Hutton stepped down from the truck and met with Wyatt. Wyatt’s two men who had taken down other FOX officials also came to the back of the truck and stared at Hutton like a ghost. It was their first time meeting with Hutton. The two of them were not close to the truck when Hutton had hidden in it. They only knew they were transporting something illegally but didn’t know what it was. Wyatt planned to reveal it only after they left Orien successfully.
“What the heck do we do now?” one of the two guys asked Wyatt.
There was no time to get an answer as bullets rained towards them and they ran in different directions for cover. The FOX officers from both ends chased after them.
Wyatt and Hutton went in the same direction and found their way through the open gate of a mall.
Even though FOX officers had earlier cleared the mall of civilians, the security guards were still in the place, preparing to leave when the gunshots began. Hutton fired down two security guards who were trying to lock the gate on their way in.
“Why’s the mall empty?” Hutton asked Wyatt as they made their way into the large building.
“The FOX officers cleared the mall while they were searching,” Wyatt replied, grabbing his shoulder. A bullet from the FOX officers had hit him. Luckily for him, it only scratched his shoulder and didn’t get into his body.
“You’re hurt?” Hutton noticed blood dripping down Wyatt’s arm. He stopped behind one of the lines of goods from where he could peep. He could see three FOX officers rushing in through the gate.
“Yeah,” Wyatt replied, stopping beside Hutton.
“You need to go,” Hutton looked at Wyatt’s face and then stared at his wound for a second. He then proceeded down the aisle hurriedly. Wyatt followed.
They walked past about five sections and stopped. Hutton turned back and looked surprised to find Wyatt still following him.
“You need to go now,” Hutton reiterated.
“There’s nowhere to go,” Wyatt gasped in frustration. “They know you came in here and they’re going to be coming after us. If I’m with you, there’s a better chance of escaping.”
“Don’t be a fool,” Hutton scoffed. “No one is after you, I’m the target. You’re gonna get killed if you stay with me. We lost already.”
Wyatt stared at him in shock. He’d never thought he could hear Hutton give up. “Are you serious?”
“I need you to get out of here, Wyatt. My Mom is out there and she needs someone to take care of her,” Hutton replied. He cleared some of the items on the shelf to have a look at the entrance. Five FOX officers had already entered and they were spacing out to search for them. Hutton turned again to Wyatt. “I dropped a phone in my mum’s box. The code is 3941. It contains the details of a secret account where you’ll find all the money required to take care of her.”
Wyatt sighed. “We killed FOX officials, man. There’s no way I’m gonna be allowed to escape from Orien alive. I’m sure they’re importing even more security agents into the town right now.”
“I’m not asking you to escape,” Hutton grabbed Wyatt’s shoulders and stared into his eyes. “I’m only asking you to stay alive. You’ve gotta be alive even if it’s in prison. I’m sure you can arrange for my mother to be taken care of even in prison.”
Wyatt looked confused for a while. Hutton turned again to peep at the FOX officers. One of them was getting really close. He grabbed Wyatt by the arm and they both walked down the aisle and moved past some more sections.
“Why do you trust me with this information?” Wyatt asked after they hid behind a pile of boxes.
Hutton looked at his face and smirked. “Do I look like I’ve got a choice? You’re the only one here. If the FOX discovers the money, it’s gonna turn into government property instead. I have no choice but to trust you,” he paused and tried to peep from behind the box. He couldn’t see anyone but could still hear footsteps moving closer. “I need you to leave now. I’m sure there’ll be somewhere you can get out through the back. If the FOX meets you, please don’t let them ki*ll you.”
“Your code is 3941,” Wyatt mentioned.
“Yeah, 3941. Go now,” Hutton said and tapped him on the shoulder.
He watched Wyatt get up and hurried off towards a back door. He took in a deep breath and stared at the two pistols in front of him. Two out of twelve bullets had been used already. He had more than enough to use until he could take extra guns from dead FOX officers.
He peeped from behind the boxes again and could see an officer walking towards his section from the front. Two others were at the end of the aisles in other sections. He cocked both guns and stepped out briefly.
By the time Rex and Florence got the truck, the FOX officers had spread about chasing the gunmen. They saw some men go into the mall and the others going the other way but could not tell which way Hutton had gone.
“Where are you, Carl?” Rex activated his communicator.
“Over here,” Henry was already walking towards them from the other direction.
Rex heard his voice and stepped out from behind the truck. Xavier was also approaching with Henry.
“Did you see where Hutton went?” Rex questioned.
“No,” Henry replied. “We probably need to get the information from Maria.”
He took out a device from his pocket and tried to connect with Maria. The four of them stood beside the truck, looking in different directions.
There were sounds of gunshots from different points, but they couldn’t tell what direction Hutton had taken.
“Maria is not responding,” Henry replied.
“I tried to reach her too,” Rex gasped.
“The department is currently overloaded with work. I talked to her a minute ago, she said the President was trying to escape. They were also trying to track him,” Henry explained.
“There’s no reason for them to be overloaded anymore. They should be focused on this place and the assailants who have just come in,” Rex replied.
“We’re wasting a lot of time here, guys,” Florence put in. “Hutton might be getting away already.”
“There’s no way he can get away from here,” Henry replied. “But we have to spread in different directions now. If anyone of us finds Hutton, please alert the rest.”
Rex let out a deep breath and then glanced around quickly. He looked at the truck and then looked at the closest spots.
“I’ll go that way,” he pointed towards the mall and proceeded immediately. The three others went in different directions.
A gunshot sound welcomed Rex as he approached the gate of the mall. He was then sure that Hutton or some of the Red Wolves men had gone into the mall and had been chased in by FOX officers.
He got to the gate and saw the dead bodies of security guards as he walked in. More gunshots sounded from inside the mall as he walked in.
Three FOX officers were down already, with Hutton still behind the boxes. One of the dead bodies had fallen on the four rows from where he was, behind the aisle. The two others were at the next row from his position, at the entrance of the aisle.
He knew that more FOX men would arrive as long as he was still in there. All he just wanted was to be able to ki*ll as much as possible before he finally got a bullet. His greatest wish was for Rex and Carl to meet him before his death and see how many FOX officers died before they got to him. Even though he knew there was no getting out of there, he wanted to have a final taste of victory.
There seemed to be a stalemate with Hutton behind the boxes. The remaining two FOX officers in the mall were unable to locate him and did not step out from behind their hiding places. They must have seen how the other three were killed and choose to remain hidden until Hutton revealed himself. He realized he just did that to get them out.
He turned back and walked a few steps to the cosmetics section. He walked to the front of the aisle after picking a cream from the shelf. Then he flung the cream to the items on the previous section from the front and bent down immediately.
Some of the items on the shelf fell to the ground, causing some noise that finally brought out the FOX officers. They both sprayed bullets at the section, further splashing the items all over the ground.
Hutton did not get up until they stopped shooting. He peeped from where he was. The shelf on the previous section had been cleared with bullets and holes created, making it possible for him to see through. He noticed one of the officers walking slowly from the front but couldn’t see the other.
He picked another cream from the shelf and walked quietly to the end of the aisle. From there, he peeped again and still couldn’t see the second guy. He flung the cream towards the items like he did the first time and the same reaction followed. The second guy, who was now hiding behind the boxes where Hutton was previously got out to sh00t.
Hutton allowed the shooting and laid low in his position. He peeped when it ceased again. The guy behind the boxes had his feet showing mistakenly while the rest of his body was hidden. Hutton looked towards the front to see where the first guy was located. He took in a deep breath, planning the timing for his movement. Suddenly, he got out of his hiding spot and proceeded towards the boxes, a gun pointed in different directions with both hands.
He fired first with the gun in his right hand, hitting the feet showing from behind the boxes. His timing made it possible for him to appear face to face with the other guy on an aisle and he fired two consecutive shots. The first bullet hit the guy in the belly and bounced off the Kevlar vest while the other entered his neck, taking him down.
His eyes moved towards the boxes again immediately. As he had predicted in his mind, the guy behind the boxes tried to peep after getting shot in his feet. Hutton who had studied his positioning did not waste the chance to get a bullet into his head.
He hurried towards the dead guy to get his gun. The guy had only one pistol, with only one bullet remaining. Hutton discarded the gun. He needed more than one bullet. He proceeded quickly down the aisle to the other guy that had fallen in front. The guy was still alive but gasping for breath and coughing out blood.
Hutton stared at his face with an evil smile for a moment before firing a bullet into his head. He knelt quickly to pick up the guy’s pistol, which was still well-loaded. He found another fully loaded pistol on the guy’s body.
He was still checking the other gun when he noticed that a new person had walked into the mall. He had noticed slightly late but was still early enough for him to hurry down the aisle with bullets chasing him. He was gasping for breath by the time he got to the back of the boxes again.
The first thing he did was to move the dead body away to give him enough space. He sat and peeped from behind the boxes, noticing it was only one person that entered. He cocked the new gun to sh00t as he saw the person approaching but happened to be slower as bullets rained on the boxes. He returned to his hiding spot and covered his ears with his fingers.
“Sh*t!” Hutton cursed under his breath. He did not see the guy who entered but knew it must have been a specially skilled agent to move so quietly, even with the dead bodies around.
The shooting stopped for a second and Hutton quickly peeped to locate the agent but saw no signs of him. He hid behind the boxes again to avoid getting shot while looking. After a few seconds of waiting, he tried to peep again but a bullet hit the box very close to him.
“F**k!” He cursed again. The agent must be a specially skilled one, he thought. How he disappeared so quickly and reloaded to sh00t again was speedy.
The gunshot ceased for only a few seconds. Bullets began to hit the boxes again and Hutton had to cover his ears. He looked up after the shooting ceased and noticed that the boxes on top of the heap he was hiding behind were going to crumble soon. That was why the agent kept on shooting.
He took in a long deep breath. There was no way he could trick this agent out as he did to the last two. He was sure he would be shot if he stepped out the same way.
An idea came to him and he quickly got up to scatter some of the boxes at the top of the heap before running towards the left. He noticed the position of the shooter behind one of the counters as he ran. The gunshots ceased for a second but bullets soon followed him, with one hitting him on the chest, making him crash to the ground.
He winced in pain as he quickly dragged himself to the back of another shelf. Luckily, the bullet only hit the Kevlar vest, so he wasn’t hurt, except for the effect of the fall. He arranged himself from his position and peeped again. From there, he had a good view of where the agent was hiding and could see that a long gun was being reloaded.
He took the opportunity to fire towards the agent, making him also change directions. Five bullets were used in total and he could not tell if anyone hit the target.
Hutton heaved a sigh of frustration. There was no way he would match the guy with the weapons they both held. From his position, he spotted the backdoor through which Wyatt had left and hurried in that direction. Unfortunately, a bullet hit him in the back and sent him crashing against a stack of goods.
He lay on the ground for a moment and winced in pain. Then he turned slowly while grabbing his body. The gunshots had ceased but he did not bother running again as he knew more bullets would hit him before he got to the door.
He shut his eyes and took in slow deep breaths, listening to the sounds of the footsteps as the agent approached. Even though he didn’t run, he had not given up yet. He thought he stood a better chance if he stayed and tried to deceive the agent instead of running with bullets chasing him. With the quality of the gun with the agent and his skills, he stood no chance.
Different thoughts ran through his mind as he waited for the agent to get to him. He only needed to act like he was going to surrender and make the agent lose his guard before attacking again. By then, he would have been able to recover from the painful crash. However, he heard a voice which totally disrupted his thoughts. He quickly opened his eyes to see the face of the person in front of him.
“I found Hutton, he’s in the mall,” Rex announced into his communicator.
Hutton sat up quickly, his eyes widened in shock. Even though he had expected to face Rex or Carl, he thought he would have had the chance to ki*ll more FOX agents before then.
“F**k!” he cursed in his mind. From the speed of the shooting and movements, he should have detected that it was not just an ordinary agent, but Rex.
If there was something Rex was known for, it was his speed. During their yearly FOX retreats, Rex always recorded the highest speed in the camp while Carl came second. In the same way, Carl came first when it had to do with strength and stamina, while Rex came second. Both were also excellent in other qualities, making them perfect partners. Hutton knew this as he attended many of the camps with them and at some point, trained both of them.
“I should have known it was you,” Hutton gasped. The smile on his face conveyed two emotions – the feeling of defeat and regret.
“I promised you that I’ll ki*ll you, didn’t I?” Rex smiled back at him.
Hutton nodded slowly, with the smile still on his face. He was sure that the end had come for him. All of the thoughts he had about deceiving the agent wouldn’t work with Rex. Unlike other FOX agents, he was sure that Rex’s main goal was to ki*ll and not to arrest.
“I’ve made many mistakes in this journey, man. The worst one has been not killing you and Carl myself when I had the chance,” Hutton smirked.
“Well, maybe you were always meant to die by my hands.”
Hutton laughed suddenly, making Rex squint at him. “On second thought, I may have killed you two already. I wiped out your families. Now, the two of you would have to live your lives in loneliness.”
Rex frowned and swallowed hard, anger boiling up inside him. He raised his gun and aimed it at Hutton’s forehead.
“Ain’t you gonna give me a fair fight, Rex?” Hutton mocked. “You gonna take the easy way out? I thought you’ll fancy having a fistfight with me.”
“I don’t have anything to prove to you,” Rex replied. “We outsmarted you already and you’re defeated. Besides, I’m stronger than you were, even in your prime. You don’t stand a chance against me now that you’re an old man.”
Hutton smiled again. “I know you’re stronger and I’m old and weak, but I remember that you’ve got a bad leg. Or is it two bad legs?” he paused and stared at Rex’s legs. “Your legs couldn’t have healed so fast.”
“You’re still no match for me, Hughes Kanwa. Just stop the smart talks and give up to die. I know you’re smart but even smart people make mistakes.”
I said, my biggest mistake was not ensuring both of you were dead…”
“You made many other big mistakes, man. One of them was thinking you could get people loyal to you with fear. Someone like you should know that fear and threats do not get people loyal.”
“Well, maybe loyalty is overrated,” Hutton smirked. “All I needed was for people to work for me and I would have achieved everything I wanted if you and Carl weren’t in the picture… And if that f**king Florence did not betrayed me.”
Rex laughed. “Florence was never loyal to you, she was loyal to her cause. Even if she had delivered I and Carl to you, she would have eventually become your greatest undoing.”
Hutton frowned for a moment. He wasn’t sure what Rex’s statement meant. “Before I die, why not tell me how you got her on your side?”
“Her younger brother died after being tricked to join the Red Wolves by Jonah Chanda. She thought I and Rex killed him. That was why she joined you. She would have eventually betrayed you when she found out the truth.”
They heard some noises at the gate which got them both distracted for a second.
Rex aimed his gun at Hutton’s forehead again.
Hutton closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. For the last time, he tried to remember all the good times he had in his life. How he began with FOX and how he became one of their greatest agents. Those were good days. Unfortunately for him, it ended badly. He ended up as a terrorist and a killer, which was the complete opposite of how he thought his life would be. He was sure that the devil had a special place reserved in hell for him.
Rex pulled the trigger and the bullet ran straight into Hutton’s forehead. His body fell to the ground lifeless as blood gushed out of his head.
Rex closed his eyes and took in a long deep breath. He could hear Henry calling for him through the earpiece but he remained silent. A few seconds later, Henry and Florence finally spotted him down an aisle. They rushed down to meet him.
Henry stopped right beside Rex and froze as he saw Hutton lying on the floor dead.
Florence moved closer to the body and squatted in front to look at his face. She let out a sigh and then turned to both men.
“I guess it’s finally over, guys. Hutton Ryker is down,” she said to them.
Both men continued to stare at the lifeless body without saying anything. There was this feeling of emptiness deep inside the both of them. Although the feeling had been there for a long time, it seemed like Hutton’s death re-awakened it.
Xavier also joined them in the mall. He stopped at the other side of the aisle after locating them. “More FOX agents have arrived, guys. We gotta get out of here if we’re done with this.”
Henry and Rex still looked unmoved. It seemed like they had lost all their strengths.
At that moment, the only thing both of them could think of was all the people they’d lost while chasing Hutton Ryker and the Red Wolves. They lost people who meant the world to them and even lost others who dedicated their lives to them wholly.
“We have to go guys,” Florence grabbed both of them by the arm.
30 minutes later
Rex and Henry remained moody all through the journey back to the suite. They arrived at the place at the same time even though they left in different cars. Florence and Xavier were the first to pack up their things as they planned to leave Orien immediately. They waited for Henry and Rex in the living room for almost 20 minutes before Florence decided to check them into the room.
She stepped into the room after knocking. The two of them were also packing. There weren’t many clothes to pack, so most of the things in their bags were guns and cartridges.
“It’s late already, we need to be faster,” Florence said to them, standing akimbo.
Rex got up from his seat and approached her. “We’re not leaving together,” he said and stretched out his palms. “The car keys.”
“Huh?” Florence squinted at him.
“The keys,” he repeated and she finally handed it to him. He walked to the table and opened the drawer. He took out a file and walked back to her. “Here are documents the two of you need to get out of the country tonight.”
“We’re not planning on leaving here imm…”
“You have to leave immediately,” Rex interrupted.
Florence stared at his face in confusion, expecting an explanation.
“Your details have been submitted to the FOX already,” Rex began. “I’m sure they’re already searching for you. By tomorrow, the two of you will be declared wanted. You have this night to get out of the country. I’m sure that you both have enough money to leave for a country where you can stay hidden forever.”
“What? You want us to live our lives as fugitives? How could…”
“Shut up, Florence!” Rex snapped. “You two worked with the Red Wolves and should be handed to the FOX for prosecution. We only decided to let you go with this light punishment,” he paused and checked his time. “The FOX will trace you here soon, you should get going.”
“It’s okay,” Florence took in a deep breath while nodding her head. Even though she felt bad about the punishment, she understood their reason and believed she deserved it. She would have done the same if she was in Rex’s position. “I hope you two will heal,” she said, taking a glance at Henry.
“Go now,” Rex arched his brows.
Florence finally turned and walked out of the room without closing the door. Rex followed and closed the door before turning back to continue packing.
“You think she’s gonna leave so easily?” Henry questioned.
“Yes, she’ll leave. She has nothing left here to wait for,” Rex replied.
“What about Xavier? How’s he gonna feel about it?”
“Xavier will go anywhere Florence goes, he’s not just loyal to her, he’s in love with her.”
“We’re ready, let’s go,” Florence said to Xavier who was sitting comfortably in the living room.
Xavier picked up his bag and looked towards the hallway to see if Rex and Carl were on their way.
“What about them?” Xavier questioned, unwilling to get up yet.
“We’re leaving alone.”
*Four Weeks Later
The FOX Press Conference Hall
Camera lights from different angles flashed across Chairman Mark’s face as he explained the organization’s plans to complete the prosecution of all those that were arrested. He began to entertain questions from the journalists after his speech.
“Sir, can you explain to us what’s happening with the case of Abraham Carter, Dexter Joe, and Evans Blake?” A journalist asked.
“As I mentioned before, even though not all of them are alive, the case will continue in court and we believe the right judgment will be made.”
“What about Wyatt Scott, the laundry man and Grayson Paul? Will they be treated differently from the other arrested Red Wolves Soldiers?” Another asked.
“Investigations are still ongoing concerning these two men. Based on the information we have at this moment, we’ve yet to confirm that these men were part of the Red Wolves. However, it doesn’t matter if they were or not, they are accomplices and will receive the full punishment of the law for aiding terrorism.”
“Chairman, you mentioned in your speech that Agents Carl Winston and Rex Morris led the fight against the Red Wolves but you didn’t explain why they were previously reported dead by the FOX.”
“Indeed, the FOX reported both agents dead but it was only a strategy that they agreed to. Carl Winston and Rex Morris are national heroes. They’ve given a lot and lost those who were dear to them to end this fight against terrorism in our nation. I won’t like to talk so much about them right now to respect their privacy, as they want.”
“Will the investigations on President Jerry be concluded before the elections?”
“Yes, former President Jerry will be charged to court soon and the proceedings will be aired live for everyone to see.”
Henry reached for the car radio control and reduced the volume as he saw Sheila pick up her ringing phone. They had been following the airing press conference of the FOX Chairman.
Henry was driving while Sheila was beside him in the car. In the backseat, there were several bunches of flowers which they had gotten on their way back, after dropping Emily and her family safely at their home.
“Who’s it?” Henry asked after watching Sheila stare at the screen for a long without answering the call.
“I don’t know, it’s a new number,” she replied before she finally answered. “Hello.”
“Hey, Sheila!” A voice echoed cheerfully from the other end.
“Adrian,” Sheila gasped. “How are you doing?”
“I’m fine, how about you?”
“I’m good, Adrian. Thank you,” Sheila replied.
“I got your number from your Dad and I just wanted to ask how you’re doing.”
“Thank you so much,” Sheila smiled. “I guess we have a lot to talk about when I return to El Deols.”
“Ermmm… I’m not sure we have anything to talk about.”
“We need to talk about us…” Sheila said, taking a look at Henry’s face.
“There’s no us,” Adrian replied in a cheerful tone. “Thank you, Sheila. I know you tried to love me but it wasn’t just meant to be. I understand that your heart is with another man and I would no longer push. You’ve risked your life several times to help that man and now that the storm is over, you two deserve to be together.”
Sheila let out a sigh of relief, unsure of what to say to Adrian.
“Take care, Sheila. I wish you the best,” Adrian added when he didn’t get a reply.
“Thank you, Adrian. Thank you so much,” Sheila replied before ending the call, her face beaming with smiles.
“What was that?” Henry glanced at her, noticing the bright smile on her face.
“It’s nothing,” she chuckled.
15 minutes later
Location: The FOX Heroes Cemetery, EPA HILL
Rex, Samantha, Dave, and Evelyn stood in front of the graves, grieving silently. They were all dressed in black.
They were at a special section of the cemetery, where people who had died in the fight against the Red Wolves were buried.
Sarah, Kellar, Jennifer, Maxwell, Cole, Paul Edwards, Steve, Simon Perry, Doctor Alan, Hannah, and Rex’s family were all buried there. Some of the dead bodies that were previously buried elsewhere had to be transferred there at Henry’s request. It took more than three weeks for it to be done as some had to be transported from the United Kingdom.
Sheila and Henry arrived in the car and parked behind a jeep. A driver was waiting in the Jeep.
They both stepped out of the car with flower bouquets and walked to the graveyard. They placed a bouquet and prayed silently at each of the graves before turning back to join the others.
Henry stopped in front of them and took in a long breath before he began to speak. “Every one of us that started this journey or joined at a point are all gathered here today. Unfortunately, not all of us are alive. I know how everyone is feeling here today. We’ve all lost people who are dear to us. These bodies placed in these graves today are only a point of contact to the thousands who lost their lives to the Red Wolves. We can only take comfort in the fact that this nation will no longer lose lives unjustly to terrorists.”
He took a long pause and sniffed in to stop tears from flowing down. He tried to avoid looking at their faces before he continued. Evelyn and Samantha already had tears in their eyes and Dave was visibly fighting it.
“I’m sure that they’re all looking at us from above now and they’re proud of us because we fought to the end and survived. I thank you all for your strength and your commitment. We’re all going our separate ways today but I hope that if we ever get to meet together again, it won’t be to fight a war but to celebrate ourselves.”
He stopped and moved closer to them with his arms opened wide. They all converge to form a big hug. Henry could no longer hold the tears from dropping now as almost all of them except for Rex were sobbing.
“It’s time to go, guys. We’re gonna miss our flight this way,” Rex was the first to break away from the hug.
Henry stepped back and wiped his face with a handkerchief.
“Are you planning to come back to Bethanna someday, or do we have to come to visit you in Malta?”
“We’re sure gonna come back visiting someday,” Rex replied with a smile.
“We?” Henry raised a brow, wondering who else was going with Rex.
“Sam has a family in Anthanna, so we’ll be visiting,” Rex replied.
“You’re going with Samantha?” Henry widened his eyes in surprise.
“Yeah,” Rex replied firmly while Samantha stood there, smiling sheepishly and nodding.
Henry laughed out loud, still surprised. He found it difficult to believe Rex and Samantha had grown so close in a month that they choose to move to a new place together. “I guess we’re gonna leave the two of you to go now.”
Rex moved closer and hugged Henry tightly. “I’m gonna miss you, Carl.”
“I’ll miss you too, my brother,” Henry whispered back before they disengaged. He pulled Samantha close to hug her too while Rex proceeded to hug the others briefly. Samantha also hugged everyone else before she proceeded to the car with Rex. The remaining four watched them drive off.
“Where are you two headed?” Henry asked Dave and Evelyn.
“Well, we’re going first to her mom’s place,” Dave replied. “We’ll decide what’s next after that.”
“When are you returning to the FOX?” Henry turned to Evelyn, with his eyes focused on her leg. She had a walking stick in her right hand.
“I’ll go there from here,” Evelyn replied.
At that same moment, a car pulled up behind Henry’s and Maria stepped out of the car.
“It looks like I’m late,” she yelled from where she was, waving at them.
“She’s here to get us,” Evelyn said to Henry.
Henry smiled and nodded slowly. “You two, keep each other safe and happy.”
“You two should do the same,” Dave replied with a smile.
Evelyn dropped her walking stick temporarily to salute Henry in the FOX customary way. “Thank you, Agent Carl Winston.”
Henry laughed and shook his head. “You gotta go now.”
Dave picked the walking stick for her and they both hugged Henry and Sheila before walking to Maria’s car.
Maria opened the door for them and let them get in.
“Agent Carl,” she called and saluted him from afar.
Henry saluted back. He watched them off before turning to Sheila.
“We’re alone now,” Sheila said, walking closer with a smile. “So, where are you going, Agent Carl?”
“Wherever you take me to, ma’am,” Henry laughed cheerfully as they locked hands and walked back to the car.
He opened the door for her to get in before turning to the other side. He was about to start the car engine but Sheila grabbed his hand.
He stared at her face, wondering what she was doing. She had a serious look on her face this time.
“You’ve not answered me, Carl. I really want to know where you’re going after this.”
Henry seemed amused at the look on her face and laughed. He grabbed the palm holding his wrist and reached for the second hand.
“I don’t have anywhere else to go, Sheila. You’re all that I’ve got now. So, I’ll just continue to be Henry, your bodyguard. But this time, I’ll like to stay with you forever and be the bodyguard for you and our kids, if you let me.”
Sheila let out a bright smile and moved her lips closer to his. “I don’t want a bodyguard anymore. I just want to be your peace and resting place.”
Thank you all for sticking with me to the end. This story was probably the most stressful one to write for me, as I got into a different phase of life while writing. The story changed direction many times due to the gaps in writing but I’m glad it has finally ended. I’m sure you are too.
Thank you once again for reading and I apologize for the slow updates
story by Oluwatosin Emmanuel Oyinloye