Piel City Outskirts
Henry was sitting on a six-inches cement block in an abandoned uncompleted building with bushes surrounding. Wilson had both arms leaning on the window from outside the room while their hostage was on the floor, lost in his state of unconsciousness.
“Have you tried to find the particular location in Anthanna?” Henry said into the phone.
“No, there’s no company code or registration number found on it, we can only identify the country’s code.” Cole replied from the other end.
“Did you find other codes except for the country’s code?” Henry asked.
“Yes, there are other codes which we’ve not been able to decode or identify their package source. And even if we do identify the package source, it could be difficult locating the source of production because Anthanna is a large country.” Cole replied.
“What of labels or signatures? Do we have none?”
“None yet sir, the devices are in the beta mode and haven’t been fully packaged.”
“Okay, please continue your work and do your best to reveal more.”
Henry was still talking when he saw Tanko moving his body on the ground where he was laid.
“Yes boss, we’d continue.”
“Okay, I’ll call you later Cole,” he said as he ended the call quickly.
Tanko’s vision was still blurry as he stretched his hands and legs. He opened his eyes fully as he managed to sit up, he realized he was on the floor of an uncompleted building. He suddenly remembered how he got abducted and how Henry was forcing him to get into the boot of the car until he blacked out. He turned around to search for Henry and Wilson who he didn’t see at first because he faced the wrong direction.
He held a breath as he turned and his eyes met with theirs. He fixed his gaze on Wilson’s face in particular. He now realized that Wilson had only been acting victim at the Nanl Territory, it had been a planned work all along with Henry.
“Would you let me tell you where Morris is, I need to return home.” he said after a while of being quiet.
Henry chuckled. “Who says we are letting you return home?”
“You have to let me go,” Tanko replied. “All the men in the Nanl Territory would be out now looking for me, they would discover you and I’m very sure you can’t take down all of them like the few you took down this afternoon.”
Henry smiled at him. “I’m sorry but I’ll have to keep you with me until I find Morris,” he said and bent to repair the lace of his shoes which had gone loose.
“That was not our agreement!” Tanko blared.
“We had no agreement,” Henry retorted. He sat up again and stared at Tanko in the eyes. “You said you knew where he was and I told you I would take you to lead me there.”
“I can’t lead you there, I’ve not been there before.” Tanko shook his head in negative. “I can only give you the details.”
“You may have to lead us there physically if it’s necessary, but I truly do hope it isn’t necessary.” Henry replied. “So, tell me where he is.”
Tanko was about to reply when Henry’s phone rang out loud. Henry took a glance at him before taking out his phone.
“Hey Dave! Where have you guys gotten to?” he said into the mouthpiece.
“I’m not sure how to pronounce the name of this location, but the map says we have an hour to get to you,” Dave replied from the other end. “We are in the store now and we have gotten the waste bin and bags, is there any other thing we need to get before leaving the store?”
“No, there’s nothing else required for now.” Henry answered. “I’ll be waiting in this same location for you.”
“Okay boss,” Dave replied and the call ended.
Henry returned the phone into his pocket. He met a questioning look on Tanko’s face and he knew that the guy would be inquisitive about the person he got the call from.
“So Tanko, where is Morris?
“Morris is at Kebba, he went therewith Ovil – a native of Kebbah, the next day after I picked him from the house.” Tanko replied and flashed a look at Wilson. They understood he was referring to the house at Vincil. “I haven’t seen the both of them since I dropped them off.”
There was confusion on Henry’s face. Kebba! Why would Morris go to Kebba?
Kebba was a town in the neighbouring country, South Husan. Located close to the boundary between Bethanna and South Husan, it was well known for their practice of sorcery and magic. The town existed like a different colony on it’s own even though it was classified under South Husan. The people of the Kebba tribe were also rumored to have strong rejection of western education in their land, their children who grew up in the town passed through their local education and some were identified through special means to go through the sorcery and magical training.
“Morris cannot go to Kebba,” Henry said with a baffled look on his face. “There’s just nothing relating with him there, there’s no way Morris would have chosen to relocate there.”
“He is at Kebba,” Tanko insisted. “Ovil made arrangements for him to relocate there.”
“I don’t get it,” Henry got up and began to pace about. “What’s Morris looking for there?” He asked himself, getting so confused about the whole issue. He looked at Tanko again. “Tell me exactly what he’s gone to do in Kebba?”
“To live there, I believe for better treatment. Kebba has large numbers of herbal doctors and the death rate of people through sickness there is virtually zero, no one dies there from illnesses.”
Henry heaved a sigh, Tanko had made a point. He had heard rumours about the quality of herbal medicines in Kebba but he had never gotten an opportunity to confirm how true it was. Wilson had also told him that Morris had a serious illness and if it was indeed serious as Wilson made it appear, Kebba could be a good hiding spot for Rex to spend time to treat himself.
“So, how do we reach him in Kebba?” Henry asked as he returned to the block he was sitting on.
“We have to reach Ovil first,” Tanko answered.
“How do we reach Ovil, do you have his telephone number?” Henry asked.
“No, Ovil doesn’t use a phone, I asked him. You have to get into Kebba to ask after him. His name is Ovil Matuse,” Tanko said.
“In this age? How can someone not use a phone?” Henry asked in a surprised tone.
“He’s from Kebba and he lives there, you know those people are strange, I hear they see some electronic devices as evil tools.” Tanko explained.
“How do we find him?” He asked in low tones, more to himself than to the other two. He raised his head and stared at Tanko again. “So, if he doesn’t have a phone, how do you reach him when you want to?”
“I don’t reach him, he contacts me when he wants and he has only done so twice.” Tanko replied.
“How then was he linked up to Morris?”
Tanko frowned. “I don’t know,” he replied, pushing up his shoulders. “I just received a call from him on a certain day, he introduced himself and told me he got my contact from Morris Caleb. Then he said he needed me to meet and pick him up at the boundary. Immediately after his call, I got a call from him,” Tanko paused and pointed a finger to Wilson.
Henry turned and squinted at Wilson, Wilson stared back at him and made no effort to deny.
“I thought you guys barely knew each other?” Henry questioned Wilson.
“We’ve spoken on phone on several occasions but only seen twice.” Wilson replied.
Henry turned back and shrugged for Tanko to continue.
“He called me with Morris’ line and told me he called to confirm if I had gotten the call from Morris’ contact, I answered him accurately because it wasn’t his first time of delivering messages from Morris to me.”
Henry turned again and stared at Wilson’s face.
Wilson raised his brows and stepped back from the window. “I only follow Morris’ instruction, he told me to call Tanko and ask him to follow the instructions of the man who called him. I never knew what they planned to do,” Wilson explained, spreading his palms and shoulders to emphasize that he did nothing bad.
Henry turned his face back to Tanko. “And you picked Ovil from the boundary and drove him to Vincil?”
“Yes, Ovil and another man he called his brother. I drove both of them to Vincil in my car. After some discussions that evening. I drove them out of Morris’ house, we stopped to lodge in a hotel and continued our journey to the boundary the next morning.”
“So you didn’t go into Kebba?”
“Yes, and I’ve never been to Kebba. I only dropped them at the boundary, they had someone waiting to pick them there.” Tanko replied.
Henry glanced and Wilson and then turned again. He picked his phone out of his pocket and dialed. “Dave, are you back on the road?”
He had new instructions to give.
El Deols, Anthanna.
Sheila was already fast asleep in her bed when her ringing phone disturbed her sleep. Her hand reached for the phone but the call went off before she could answer.
She yawned and stretched with the phone in her hand. It began to ring second time. She turned the screen to herself, the caller was Adrian. She wondered why he was just calling back after she had called him several times to confirm if he had gotten home safely without him answering the calls. She knew she could have hurt him by affirming she was really in love with Henry but she couldn’t bring herself low to lie to him. He had always been suspecting that she had something to do with Henry when she always found herself mentioning him in their conversations and expressly saying she missed him. He had actually asked her once if they had anything together and she had said they had none but that evening’s question had been different, he had asked if she was in love with him.
She finally answered the call and placed it close to her ear after so much hesitation.
“Hello,” she said in low tones. The expression on her face changed as she heard a different voice, a lady’s.
“Hello Madam, we’re reaching you from Highways Hospital. This man was rushed to the hospital after being attacked by some unknown men, he’s currently receiving treatment. Your number was the last one he dialed and we believe you might be a member of his family or you may be able to reach any of them for us quickly. Please, we need someone here for him now.”
“Oh! Thanks, I’ll be on my way there now.” Sheila said as she quickly rolled out of the bed in panic. She began to take off her nightwear hurriedly.
*28 Minutes Later*
Highways Hospital, El Deols.
“Good evening Nurses,” Sheila greeted impatiently as she got to the reception of the hospital.
“Good evening Madam, how may we help you?” the nurse on duty asked her.
“I was called some minutes ago that My friend was rushed down to this hospital, I’m here to see him.” Sheila replied.
“What’s your name please?”
“I’m Sheila,” she answered.
“Okay madam, please come with me.” the nurse said as she turned out from behind the desk and turned towards a hallway.
Sheila followed immediately with the bodyguard behind her. The nurse led them past few wards but stopped as a doctor stepped out from one of the wards in front and turned towards them.
“Doctor, we have the woman we called here.” the nurse said to the doctor.
“Oh! Good evening Ma’am,” he said as he stopped briefly in front of them. “Please come with me to my office,” he said and made way to proceed further.
“Please Doc, where is Adrian?” she asked, not willing to turn back with him without seeing Adrian.
“He’s fine,” the doctor replied, turning back briefly. “The nurses are dressing his wounds now.”
“Can I see him now?”
“No please, you have to give the nurses time and space to work.” the doctor insisted.
Sheila turned reluctantly and followed the doctor. Her bodyguard turned with her while the nurse who was with them continued towards the ward the doctor had stepped out from.
“What happened to him Doctor?” Sheila asked as they entered into the doctor’s office.
“Please, have your seats.” the doctor replied calmly, taking off his white coat and hanging it before going to his seat.
He got to his seat and sat before Sheila could sit on the visitor’s seat. Sheila signaled for her bodyguard who was standing behind to sit next to her.
“Is it just the two of you here?” the doctor asked.
“Yes for now, he has none of his family members in this state and his only friend I know isn’t in town right now.”
“Have you called any of his family members?”
“No, I don’t have their numbers but I should be able to reach them by morning tomorrow.”
“Who are you to him?”
“I’m his close friend, he left my place around past eight.” she answered.
“Okay, he was brought in here unconscious. People around said he was stopped by the road and attacked by a group of unknown men, they beat him up within minutes and escaped leaving him by the road side.” The Doctor explained.
“Oh My God!” Sheila exclaimed breathlessly. “Would he be fine?”
“Yes, he would. Luckily, he sustained no severe or internal injuries. Just some wounds on his body, that’s all.”
Sheila sighed deeply. “Is he still unconscious?”
“No, he’s been revived but has been given some sedatives to allow him feel less of the pain from treating his wounds.”
Sheila closed her eyes as she took in a deep breath she rested her back.
The Doctor picked a phone to make a call. He was heard telling the call receiver to bring something to his office.
“He’s being treated already but you would need to pay some money for us to continue the treatment,” the doctor said after some seconds.
“That’s no problem, how much do we have to pay?”
The doctor was yet to reply when his door opened and a nurse walked in with a file. She dropped it on his table and said some words to him before walking back out.
‘Here’s the bill,’ the doctor said, handing a short piece of paper he took from the file to her.
She scanned through it quickly. “I’ll like to pay to the account,” she said and took out her phone quickly.
“It’s no problem,” the doctor said and rested his back, waiting for her.
It took her two minutes to complete the transfer and she leaned forward turning the phone’s screen to him for him to confirm the payment.
“No, you should…” He tried to look away but looked again at the screen as his eyes caught something, he scanned through quickly for a second. “You should show them this at the counter in the reception, they are the ones to confirm your payment and issue the receipts.”
“Oh! Okay,” she replied and kept the phone back on the table. “When would I be able to see Adrian?”
“I’ll let you know when the nurses are through with him, it should take about fifteen to twenty minutes more.” the doctor answered her.
“Okay , thanks.” Sheila said and got up to her feet. “I’ll go show them this at the reception now, so that the treatment can continue uninterrupted.”
The doctor was quiet and watched as she walked to the door with her bodyguard.
“Miss Sheila Jack,” he called as her bodyguard opened the door for her to step out. Sheila turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow, wondering why he had called her back and why he called her full name. He had a smile on his face. “Nice to meet you, I have a son who is studying to be just like you.”
“Oh! My pleasure, I’ll wish to know more about your son later.” she said and bowed out of the office. She concluded that he must have seen her full name when she showed him the evidence of payment.
*25 Minutes Later*
Sheila stood beside the bed in the hospital ward watching while the doctor did his final check on the patient for the night. Adrian was in the bed, a bandage around his head and a wider one around his belly, he also had a plaster on his right knee.
“That would be all for the night,” the doctor said as he turned to Sheila. “Goodnight ma’am,” He smiled at her before walking past, taking off the gloves on his palms as he did. The two nurses also followed him out, leaving Sheila and her bodyguard with the patient.
Sheila pulled the plastic chair closer to the bed and sat on it, resting her elbows on the side of the bed. Adrian turned his head to face her. They both stared into each other’s eyes for moment.
“I’m sorry Adrian,” she said, looking into his eyes with so much compassion.
“I’ll be okay,” he said and managed to put a smile on. “Thanks for coming.”
Sheila stood up from the seat as her eyes moved from his face and to his whole body, checking all the places he was injured. She noticed her bodyguard had come close and was standing beside as she sat back on the seat.
“Do you know the men who did this to you?” Sheila asked.
“No, they had masks on.” Adrian replied.
“And you couldn’t recognize the voice of any of them?”
“Yes, I couldn’t.”
“Are you suspecting anyone?” She squinted her eyes at him.
“No,” he answered in a surprised tone, wondering why she was asking him questions like a detective.
She took in a breath as she stared thoughtfully. It seemed as the same situation to her like the one that had happened with Henry months ago when they were lured somewhere and he was beaten up. She suspected that Stanley could be behind the attack.
“Miss, it’s almost twelve o’clock.” her bodyguard bent beside her and whispered to her ears. She stared at his face. “We might find it difficult to get home because of the police road blocks,” he added to explain his point.
“We can leave tomorrow morning,” Sheila replied him.
“No Sheila, you have to go home please.” Adrian cut in. “You can’t stay here.”
“We would stay here Adrian, it’s late already.” Sheila replied.
The bodyguard stepped back to give them space to take the decision.
“No, you have to leave please. You can’t sleep well here, I won’t let you stay here.” Adrian insisted.
“But you need someone to stay with you Adrian.”
“No, I can talk and call the nurses when I need someone or help, you don’t have to stay here. Besides, I wouldn’t be needing anything for the night again,” Adrian said in a pleading tone.
“Calling them will be a lot of stress for you, I’ll stay here in case you need help.”
“It won’t be stress, a nurse station would be close to this ward and I’ll definitely get them whenever I need them. Please go home Sheila, I beg you.” Adrian replied.
“Please, listen to him ma’am.” the bodyguard joined in a firm tone before she could reply him. “I can get you back here very early tomorrow morning.”
She looked at him and he withdrew his gaze on her. He knew he had no business in their discussion as a bodyguard but he had to speak up because he was scared of what Sheila’s father would say to him if he found out she spent her night there.
“Please go home Sheila,” Adrian pleaded again. “Come back to check me before going to work tomorrow, please consider him at least, I’ll be fine.”
She drew in a breath and finally got up from the seat. She held his palm in hers for a while as she stared at his face.
“I’ll be here tomorrow morning,” she said and caressed his face gently for some seconds before planting a peck on his cheek. “Goodnight Adrian.”
With that she turned and walked out of the ward with her bodyguard, leaving Adrian with mixed feelings.
The Next Day – April 1, 2016.
Location: Bethanna – South Husan Boundary.
“Kebba is the way straight after the roundabout,” Samantha said to Henry as they approached the rotary intersection. She was looking into a map on the tablet device with her.
“Thanks for confirming, I studied the map for some minutes before we left.” Henry replied.
Henry was driving the car with Wilson beside him at the front and Samantha at the backseat. They had left Dave and the Doctor with Tanko, their new hostage. Dave and Samantha had joined Henry at the uncompleted building the previous night and helped in moving Tanko from there without suspicions.
“It took us more than five hours to get here,” Wilson said after looking at the time on his Android phone. They had taken off from Vincil around seven o’clock.
Henry drove past the roundabout and continued in the straight direction. He drove for five more minutes when he saw the big signboard reading “Welcome to Kebba”.
They continued driving until they got to the main gate of the city. They stopped briefly to change their Bethanna Dollar notes to the currency used in South Husan.
“Where do we go?” Samantha asked Henry as they proceeded further into the city. Henry had given them a brief of his discovery and had picked her to follow him there.
The whole place looked so different. The people’s dressing looked ancient and somehow uncivilized. Most of the men tied wrappers and wore knee lengths garments, they had something tied like a keffiye around their foreheads. A lot of them especially the young men had earrings on and different types of rings on other parts of their bodies. The women were dressed differently. They also wore wrappers but something like a veil covering their bodies from their heads down to their waist below, only showing their faces. Only about one or two ladies out of fifty seen were on short blouses and wrappers without their heads covered. According to what Henry had previously heard about them, the ladies without their heads covered were the prostitutes and the call girls in the land. The place seemed somewhat overcrowded with the number of people walking and working around the road.
“Ermm…I’m thinking we can lodge in a hotel first,” Henry suggested, looking around even as he drove slowly.
“But how do we locate a hotel?” Wilson asked with a confused look on his face. All signboards and notices which they could see around were written in the Kebban language which they couldn’t interpret.
Henry pulled over beside a man selling fried meats by the road side.
“Good afternoon Mister, please we need to find a hotel around this area.” he said to the man.
“Ini handinzwisise zvauri kutaura,” the man replied him in the Kebban language meaning he couldn’t understand what he was saying.
“Can you speak English?” Henry asked but the man replied again in the language. He drove forward and stopped again beside a group of three men walking beside the road. He honked to get their attention. They placed their eyes on him but did not stop walking.
“Hello please, I need direction from you.” Henry shouted.
They continued staring at him as they walked away without answering.
Henry followed them slowly with the car. “Please, can we speak to you for a moment?”
The men kept on walking and staring at the car without answering.
“Please, wait and let’s talk to you.”
One of the men finally stopped and bent over to stare into the car.
“Chii chaunoda kubva kwatiri?” he said something to Henry in the Kebban language meaning. “What do you want from us?”
Henry heaved a sigh of frustration, not knowing what to reply until the man turned and walked away with his friends.
Henry continued driving until he found a group of ladies by a large pipe-borne facility with buckets, queuing to fetch water.
‘Good afternoon young ladies, we are new here and we need direction to get to a hotel.” Henry said to them after parking.
The ladies stared at the car for a while and then stared at themselves and mumbled words to each other.
“Does anybody understand English amongst you? Please we need help,” Henry shouted again.
The ladies looked at themselves again but laughed this time.
Henry heaved a sigh of frustration. He glanced back at Samantha and saw that she was frustrated also.
He had read about the people of Kebba rejecting Western education in their city but he never thought it to be serious to the point that they could not understand or speak English at all.
He understood that Morris could have chosen Kebba because it was a very good place for him to hide but how Morris could cope with their lack of knowledge of English language was what he couldn’t understand.
Their mission of finding Ovil Matuse or even Rex was going to be difficult!
Note: The language used and referred to as the “Kebban language” is actually Shona, a language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe.