Hello Sheila,” he said into the phone.
“Good afternoon Henry,” Sheila voice sounded in Henry’s speaker.
Henry felt guilty at the sound of her voice. He closed his eyes as he turned the knob of the room and stepped inside.
He closed the door and rested his back against the wall, tilting his head backwards
Location: Sheila’s Office, El Deols, Anthanna.
“Henry Good afternoon,” Sheila greeted again when she didn’t get his response to the first time.
She was sitting comfortably in her office swivel and rolling playfully with the phone held close to her ear in her right hand and the elbow resting on the arm of the chair.
“Good afternoon Sheila, how are you doing?” she finally heard his voice in response. He sounded like someone trying to fake the sound or who had been caught red handed in something and was trying to pretend.
“I’m fine, how about you?” Sheila answered.
“Nice to know, I’m also doing fine.” Henry replied.
“From the news circulating around the world, I can attest you’re doing well.” Sheila said and took a pause for two seconds. “I decided to call you since you didn’t bother to ask if I returned to Anthanna safely. Well, I got to El Deols about twenty four hours ago. I’m in the office now trying to fix an important update, I’ll be returning home soon to rest.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t called and I’m sorry for being so harsh to you when we met at the hotel, I just wanted you to stay out of everything that surrounds my mission here. Trust me, it would only put you in danger.” Henry apologized.
“You don’t have to explain yourself Henry, I understand that you don’t want me around you and I’m going to do my best to stay away from you.” Sheila said as tears formed in her eyes. She closed her eyes and dragged in a breath.
“That’s not it Sheila, I do want you around me but I don’t want to get you in danger, that’s why I need you to stay as far away from me as possible for now.”
“I can stay far away from you as long as you want, I only made this call to let you know I got here safely and I won’t be bothering you anymore. But if you ever need my help, I’ll be available to assist you. I wish you well Henry,” Sheila said and dropped the phone. A tear rolled down her eye. She could still hear his voice sounding from the phone but could not hear his words.
It began to sound as if he was calling her name but she didn’t pick up the phone again. She clicked on the red button.
She picked a handkerchief and cleaned the tears on her face and eyes. She sniffed in and cleared her throat as she rested her back in the chair. She realized that she had been expecting so much when she should not have expected anything. She had allowed herself fall so deeply in love with Henry, expecting him to feel the same way for her but she had failed to realize that reciprocating the love she felt for him was not a debt Henry owed her. She had only been instrumental in helping Him remain alive to continue his mission and their relationship was never going to go beyond that, that was something she needed to understand.
She cleaned the corners of her eyes again and sat up, then she folded the handkerchief and kept it on the table. She remembered her father’s advice to her few weeks past when the man realized that she kept talking about Henry. The man who did not know who Henry was and what he had gone back to do had told Sheila to forget completely about him and allow him settle back with his old life since he had already returned to his country. Sheila realized it was the right time to take her father’s advice.
She sniffed in again and picked up her phone to check the time. It was few minutes to three o’clock. She began to clear her table in preparation to leave the office.
She had shut down her laptop but was still arranging the paper files on her desk when her phone began to ring. Her heart skipped a beat at the sound, thinking it was Henry calling back. It took her sometime to decide whether to answer the call or not but when she picked the phone, she was disappointed to discover that it wasn’t Henry calling. She hissed and dropped the phone back on the table.
It was Adrian. Her high class mate who had traveled out of Anthanna several years ago to further his education and had only returned a month ago after securing a job with the government of Anthanna. Adrian had been added by another classmate to the old classmates whatsapp group chat after his return, from there he had picked up Sheila’s number and chatted her up. Since then, they had been chatting frequently and Adrian had been asking to hang out with her.
The phone began to ring a second time and Sheila picked it up hesitatingly. She stared at the screen for a moment, trying to calm herself before answering the call, so as to make sure she didn’t sound in anyway troubled or sad to her caller.
“Hey Adrian,” she sang in, faking a cheerful tone.
“Hi Sheila, good afternoon. How are you doing today?”
“I’m fine, how about you?” Sheila replied.
“I’m doing great baby,” Adrian replied in a sharp voice. “Well, you are yet to reply my message and I was wondering why.”
“Oh! Which of the messages?”
“I asked if we could hang out this weekend, you didn’t give me a reply.” Adrian replied.
“Oh, sorry about that. I’ve been quite busy and I must have planned to reply the message later but it skipped my mind.”
“I understand dear, I’m also aware you arrived from a trip yesterday.”
“So… What’s your reply?”
“Ermm…” Sheila drew in a breath and closed her eyes. She didn’t feel like hanging out with him or anybody else, that was the initial reason she had ignored his question in the chat but now she felt a little bit different.
“What do you say Sheila?” Adrian asked, after some seconds of not hearing anything from her.
She let out a breath. “No, thanks.” she finally answered. “I’ll be busy this weekend, I have some stuffs to round up.”
“I see, so when should we fix it?”
“Ermm… I don’t know yet, I’ll get back to you soon.”
“Well, it’s okay but I won’t wait for your feedback,” Adrian said in a mischievous tone. She could feel his smile from the other end. “I’m gonna keep asking you about it.”
She also smiled. “It’s okay Adrian, I’ll really get back to you.”
The FOX Corporation, EPA Hill.
Time: 17 : 08PM
Paul Edwards had just spent his first thirty minutes alone in the office that day. It had been a busy one and he had been going in and out of the place throughout the day, and even when he sat in the office for long, he was either analyzing a situation or a case file with someone else or getting feedbacks or report from another Agent, most times a junior one.
His eyes were glued to the screen of his laptop and his index finger on the mouse. He had just finished going through the reports from some Agents who had been sent on a foreign mission in Libya. He had an A4 sized paper and a pen beside him where he jotted down some points from the report. He also copied some sentences and paragraphs from the reports and pasted them in another document.
He inhaled and exhaled after a moment of tiredness. He rested his back and stretched. Then he leaned forward again to close the report file and also save the document. He covered the mouth of his pen and kept the A4 paper into a paper file, labelled with the same name the report on the laptop had.
He rested his back again and closed his eyes. He remembered his kidnapped grandson and the late Elkim Nuel, he shook his head slightly and opened his eyes. He was a man who had his own troubles but still had to deal with other people’s cases and hide his own. But it was however his fault that his grandson was kidnapped and still is in the custody of the kidnappers, he blamed himself. Maybe he should dialogue again with the kidnappers and tell them all he knew about the Red Wolves so that they could release his grandson, but it was impossible to do that because he would mean he wasn’t loyal enough.
He was still in deep thoughts when one of his phones on the table began to ring. It was his private phone. He leaned forward to pick it up, wondering who the caller was.
He recognized who it was immediately he saw the number. His face hardened a bit as he answered the call and put the phone close to his ear. He had been expecting the call earlier but was no longer expecting it at this time it came.
“Hey Paul,” the caller’s voice sounded.
Paul felt disgusted by the sound but he had no choice than to reply. “Where is my grandson?”
“Hey, relax man. It’s very rude to ignore my greeting,” the caller fired at him.
“Get straight to the point, I don’t exchange pleasantries with criminals.”
“Hahaha,” the caller laughed loudly which sounded very annoying to Paul. Then from the annoying tone, the voice changed into an angry one. “I also do not have the patience for criminals masquerading as crime fighters, I kill them like I did with Elkim Nuel last night.”
Paul was taken aback by the last sentence and he felt a bit shaken. Could it be true that the men who had his grandson were the killers of Agent Elkim Nuel? If they truly were, it meant not just his grandson was in trouble but his other family members were not safe.
“I hope you haven’t done anything to Austin because if you touch as little as a strand of his hair, you will pay dearly for it.”
“Hahaha,” the caller laughed hard again. “You’re a fool Paul, a big fool. You have the chance to save your grandson and you’re making empty threats. It shows how heartless a man you are.”
“D–n you dude! you would know I don’t make empty threats if anything happens to the boy.”
There was another roar of laughter. “You’re a bigger fool than I thought and more cruel than I ever imagined,” the caller said. “You’re not even concerned about saving your grandson, you’re more concerned about proving that you can get to me.”
Paul remained silent at his words.
“Well, Austin is here listening and he now knows how cruel you are…” the caller paused and after some seconds, Paul heard his grandson’s voice. “Grandpa, are you…”
“Hey Austin!” Paul jumped to his feet at the sound of the voice.
“D–n you Paul!” the caller cursed after cutting the boy’s words short. “You have a chance to save your grandson by giving us the list of all top members of the FOX, if you don’t, we kill more FOX executives and also come for your family members.”
‘D–n you bas***d!” Paul cursed. He knew the caller was going to get to the point of threatening with his family members. He moved away from behind his table and walked angrily to the window side. “So, how would I be sure that if I let out these names to you, you would leave my grandson and not trouble me any longer? And also, how would letting out the names not implicate me?”
“We can strike a deal Paul,” the caller replied in a tempting voice. “There’s no way this is not going to implicate you. So, we can strike a deal to allow you move out of Bethanna to somewhere far away with a changed identity for you and your family, I know you are an expert in changing identities.”
Paul shook his head and ran his fingers into his hair as he turned back. “Keep my grandson safe and let nothing happen to him, that’s the only thing that can save you from instant death when I finally get to you. You bas***d!”
“Oh! I see… You’d have to watch more people and your family members die then,” the caller said before hanging up.
“bas***d! I’ll get you soon…” Paul said but wasn’t heard as the line went off already.
He stepped back behind the table and threw the phone on top. He shook his head as he let out a breath in anger. He gritted his teeth and clenched his teeth. He angrily banged his fists on the table and turned back to face the wall. After some few seconds of trying to calm himself, he turned back and picked his phone. He dialed another number.
“I’m being pressured to give out information,” he said after the receiver answered his call. “I don’t want to hurt any of my family members.”
“Agent Tam still remembers nothing, he doesn’t even remember how he was taken.” Agent Evelyn said as she walked towards Agent Steve where he was standing beside the table, the same table from where they had linked Henson and Richard Brad with Ernest Daysman. She dropped the file in front of him on the table
“It’s suspicious that Agent Tam had his short term memory wiped off, it makes it sound similar to a FOX operation.” Steve commented, looking at Evelyn’s face.
Rhoda looked at Agent Steve’s face from where she was, pondering on the observation.
“I’ve also been thinking about that,” Evelyn put in. “I suspect that someone in the FOX is involved in this. How else can we explain that Agent Elkim’s house was easily penetrable even with the number of men guarding it?”
“I think you guys are right,” Rhoda got up from where she was sitting in front of a computer. “I’ve never thought about it this way but hearing it now makes me also think the person who killed Agent Elkim must have been someone close to him among the executives.”
Agents Steve and Evelyn stared quickly at Rhoda’s face, hoping he knew the weight of what she just said. She had just suggested that one of the FOX’s executives was not just Agent Elkim’s real murderer but also the person behind the recent kidnappings.
“But why wasn’t Agent Tam killed?” Steve spoke out his thoughts.
“I guess the killer had nothing against Agent Tam,” Evelyn replied.
“What could he have against Agent Elkim then?” Steve asked rhetorically.
“And if we agree that this group of killers have killed Brad and Henson in relation to their assignment with the Red Wolves, would it be save to say that Agent Elkim also had something to do with them?” Agent Evelyn chipped in.
“Ermm… With the Red Wolves?” Steve let out a chuckle. “Come on, it hasn’t gotten to that. We have to find a reasonable link between Agent Elkim, Henson and Brad before it is safe to make such statement.”
“And we also have to come up with a reasonable stance about Paul Edward’s relation who was kidnapped,” Rhoda put in and stepped closer to them. The both of them stared at her. “The man hasn’t told us how this relative is related to him,” she quickly added, pointing the index fingers of both hands up and shaking them in a manner that suggested she doubted Paul Edwards.
She dropped a file before Steve and opened it, she took out a document she had just printed from the computer.
“I suspect this relative of Paul is Austin Edwards, his grandson.” Rhoda said, showing the paper she pulled out to Steve.
“But that isn’t possible,” Evelyn said as she moved closer to them. “Austin Edwards died in the bomb blast at his school.”
“It appears he didn’t die, our Chairman lied to the world.” Rhoda chipped in. “I’ve checked through and through, the hospital records, transportation records both on land and flight and even call records. There’s none other person that could have been kidnapped other than Austin Edwards who is said to be dead.”
After checking through the summary in the papers Rhoda handed to Steve, both Steve and Evelyn were amazed and baffled, realizing how true Rhoda’s words were.
They were yet to say anything else when the door opened and Daniel entered.
“Hey guys,” he said in an excited tone. “We have proof that the assailants yesterday distorted the networks and tampered with the surveillance cameras footages, how they did that is what we are yet to confirm,” he said as he marched forward.
Their eyes followed him until he joined them at the table. He dropped the file in his hand on the table and opened it.
“The traffic control network and communication network went off at the same time, ” Daniel continued, showing them details from the file he opened. “They also came back on barely at the same time, with less than a minute gap between them. ”
He opened another page of the document in the file and began to explain again. “These footages shows that the surveillance cameras system itself was not hacked, but the database was hacked. Footages of happenings throughout the day are still in the database except for specific times when these assailants’ faces were almost captured.” He paused and began to flip through pages showing colour shots from the CCTV. He paused on a particular picture. “The origin of their vehicle was unknown, footages of how it got to this point was no longer available in the database,” he opened again to the next page. “Footages of how they also attacked and tranquilized the police officers were deleted,” he said and opened again. “The next thing it shows is them driving to Agent Elkim’s house,” he continued opening the pages. “And then after about two hours, it shows them moving out but was cleared from a point before the roundabout. The footage did not show which direction they took from the roundabout.”
“But the vehicle has been found,” Agent Steve interrupted.
“Yes, it has been found but how it got there can not be found in the database,” Daniel replied. “What we have are only the reports from eyewitnesses who says they saw the men and a woman step out of the police vehicle and step into a Jeep. We still cannot trace where the destination of the Jeep was.”
Agent Steve stepped back and squinted his eyes thoughtfully after Daniel finished explained. he made a sharp turn back and walked quickly to the cabinet to pick out three files. He returned with them to the table.
He opened the first and flipped through the pages until he found what he wanted. He handed it to Evelyn to also see. He opened the second and also flipped through. He also did the same with the third.
“This links Agent Elkim’s killers to the kidnappers of Brad, Henson and Austin… I mean Paul Edward’s relative.” Steve voiced his observation which he had also showed to the others.
He quickly collected the first file again and began to open through.
“Check through the call records of the second one also,” he said as he checked the first. Dan opened and checked through the second.
After two minute of making their confirmation, Steve turned to Daniel. “Did you also get the call records of Agent Elkim?”
“Yes, I did but his phones and devices are all missing.” Daniel answered as he began to open the file he came with again.
“Both Brad and Henson had frequent links with Ernest Daysman before they disappeared,” Steve said while waiting for Daniel to search for the records.
“Here,” Daniel put the file before him.
Steve took his time to observe, Daniel and Evelyn also did.
“Agent Elkim made contact with Ernest Daysman,”Steve mentioned out loud. “But he made more contact with Agent Paul Edwards more before he died.”
Both Steve and Evelyn exchanged glances and then both stared at Evelyn’s face.
Daniel stared at them ignorantly, he knew from their looks that there was something they were communicating with their eyes which he probably did not know because he joined them late.
“I’m lost here,” he complained.
Rhoda looked at him. “We have a top suspect among the executives, Agent Paul Edwards.”
To be continued