Tarasha inhaled a huge quantity of the the moisture filled air as she parked her bike close to the bush, she removed her helmet and hung it on the bike. She gently brushed back part of the long hair which covered her left eye with her hand. She looked right and saw another bike approaching, ignoring it she began to walk slowly towards the narrow path of the bush which probably led to a village.
After riding the expressway for about two hours she decided to take a break, walking around the bush a little. She surged forward through the narrow path, playing with the leaves as she moved. She suddenly stopped midway on hearing the sounds of some movement behind her, she looked behind her, nobody was there. She took another two steps and paused, she bent to pick a stone. She turned backward and aimed something at the left side of the bush.
‘Yaaay!’ Someone moaned and came out from the bush, using his hand to massage the part of his forehead where the stone hit him. Tarasha ignored and kept walking forward.
‘That was cruel’ he shouted at her.
‘What was cruel?’ She stopped and asked, without turning back. ‘Why have you been following me?’
‘Huh? Did you look now I was following you?’ He trotted closer , still rubbing his forehead. She turned back and proceeded out of the bush path without looking at him. He paused and stared at her before following.
‘Your bike started following me from the Solid Quarry junction’ Tarasha stated, heading for her bike. His bike was parked just behind hers.
‘Huh? You knew? Why didn’t you stop then?’ He was perplexed, his shoulders dropped as he stood still after getting out of the bush part. He wondered why Tarasha did not take a look at him, he walked further closer to her.
‘What?’ Tarasha growled, offended as his hand was on hers resisting her from putting on the helmet.
‘Why are you shy? You can’t even look at my face’ he mocked.
‘Shy?’ She took his hand away and wore the helmet.
‘If you aren’t shy, then why are you hiding your pretty face? You don’t want me to see it clearly?’ He taunted. She ignored him and sat on the bike, after wearing her gloves well she started the engine. She attempted to ride off but he stopped her, standing at the front with the front tyre in between his legs.
‘Come on, I won’t hurt you. I just want to have a little chat. Let’s get to know each other’ She raised her head and stared into his face through the helmet transparent cover. She spoke in a harsh voice,
‘Your name is Henry and you’re a rider, I have no time for your association’ She pushed him with her right hand gently, but powerfully enough to make him stagger backwards. She reversed the bike and drove off, narrowly missing him as he jumped away quickly.
He stood still watching as she raced off, wondering what type of girl she was. Her declaration of his name affirmed to him that she was the same girl he had met on the same expressway some few weeks ago. Since that day, he had been riding through that location every Sunday evening, hoping to meet her again. Now that he had the opportunity, she didn’t even listen to him, rather she put up a wild behavior. Maybe she was scared that he was dangerous or that he might harm her. But he was just a rider who wanted to make friends with a female rider who he viewed to be very skillful. He wished she could see that his intention was pure.
He heaved a sigh and headed for his bike, he bent to dodge a nylon of sachet water thrown at his direction as an inter-state passenger’s bus sped past. He tried to picture Tarasha’s face in his mind as he sat on the bike, putting on the helmet. He didn’t get a very clear view but he could conclude with the little he got that she was pretty and had a light skinned complexion.
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‘Officer James’ James stood up from the cell’s cold rigid floor as he heard his name. He saw a uniformed warder approaching with Officer Segun. He moved closer to the room bars, the warder opened the door and motioned him outside. Segun saluted him,trying fruitlessly to hide the look of pity in his face.
‘You’re free to go, officer James’ the warder said, handing over his clothes in a nylon bag to him.
**few minutes later**
Segun drove in the black Camry, with neatly dressed James at the front seat with him. He glanced occasionally at his boss, trying to figure out the right way to begin a conversation.
‘You said Oga is waiting for me?’ James began, using Oga to refer to his immediate superior.
‘Yes, he says he wants to speak with you as soon as you’re out’ Segun answered. James heaved a sigh and paused for a moment before talking again.
‘What about Emeka?’ He asked of the stout officer who drove with him in the jeep that picked the Ghanaian minister.
‘He should also be released today’ Segun replied.
‘So he was put in detention too?’ James posed a rhetorical question.
‘What about Officer Tunde and the others?’
‘Officer Tunde is dead o’ Segun voice was full of pity. ‘He was found dead in the car, the others were found drugged in the mechanic workshop beside our office’
‘So there’s no way to find out if Tunde was a party to the assassination?’ He questioned without expecting an answer, he rubbed his palm on his forehead and on his face.
Silence reigned for the rest of the journey to the station. James immediate boss was standing in the compound with his hands at his back, facing the station building. James’ eyes met with his when the man looked back as they drove in. The man turned well to face their direction and watched as they drove the car to a halt and stepped out.
‘Good afternoon sir’ James and Segun saluted, waking towards the man.
‘How are you James?’ The man responded and extended his hand to James.
‘Well done Segun’
‘Fine sir’ James replied, taking the man’s feeble hand in his. They began walking slowly into the station as they talked.
‘James, the truth is I’m really disappointed in you’ the man continued with a note of regret in his voice. ‘I didn’t believe something like that could happen when you’re in charge’ James bowed his head in shame, avoiding the look on the various officers’ faces as they walked through the opened offices to the man’s office. ‘What were you thinking when an escort car suddenly disappeared and then reappeared? Why didn’t you stop to check?’ The man reprimanded loudly as they moved away from earshot. ‘This shouldn’t have happened to an officer of so much experience and training like you’
‘I’m s…sorry sir’ James replied almost in whispers, trying to find his voice. ‘I was only trying not to disturb the minister’s comfort’ The man punched in the pass code to the office door and metal door slid gently open. He took off his suit jacket and hung it before taking his seat.
‘Sit down’ he said to James who still remained standing, waiting for the order.
‘Thank you sir’
‘There’s more work now, the killers have to be found before the end of next month, that’s the deadline given to us by the commissioner’ the man explained. ‘That means that there’s no rest for you, you have to get to work immediately and you must not fail’
‘I will not fail sir’ James replied, swearing under his breath to do everything possible to nab the killers within the given time.
‘D–n! Slash his head dude’ Cole exclaimed excitedly, punching the buttons on his joystick as his avatar stood over Benny’s after taking it down with a uppercut, it stood over the opponent drew out a sword. Cole sat on the rug close to the TV, in order to have a close view and enjoy the game. Benny was sitting on a stool not far from Cole at the other side, eyes glued to the TV screen with the other game pad in his hand.
‘Never’ Benny retaliated; his avatar sent a heavy kick to Cole’s, making it stagger far behind. He smiled as his avatar stood up and charged towards Cole’s avatar in rage but Cole was faster, he dogged Benny’s attack, returning it with a heavy kick.
‘Hey guys’ Tarasha walked into the sitting room, dividing their attention.
‘Welcome Boss’ Cole replied, he paused the game and stood up.
‘Good afternoon Boss’ Benny greeted, also getting up to his feet. ‘We’ve been expecting you’
‘Been trying to get something done’ she replied and took a seat. ‘We’re leaving for Rivers this week’
‘Rivers?’ They asked simultaneously, surprised.
‘Yes Rivers, we have a job to do there’ Tarasha continued. ‘Which of you knows the city very well?’ Both stared at each other for a moment before Benny spoke, ‘I’ve only been there once’
‘That means we have more work to do’ she crossed her leg and leaned on the chair arm.
‘Cole would get some geographical and street maps of the city for us to study’
‘Okay, but what job is it? Who’s the target now?’ Cole curiosity pushed him to ask.
‘I’ll keep that to myself for now’ Tarasha denied him the answer. ‘Let’s focus on getting there first’
‘Why don’t you want to tell us?’ Benny interrupted. ‘It would help us in guiding, you know we are used to the country more than you are. Or are you scared that we’re going to sell you out?’ Tarasha narrowed her look at the guys and gave a long wicked laugh. She suddenly stopped and asked,
‘Humm’ Aisha answered with a shaky voice before any of the two guys could respond. She appeared with a bottle of wine and three glass cups from the corridor leading to the other rooms, From the way she appeared swiftly, one could easily conclude that she had been listening silently to their conversation and was shocked to hear Tarasha ask about her.
‘Good afternoon’ Aisha curtsied.
‘Hi, where have you been? And where did you go on Friday night?’ Tarasha asked with a frown.
‘I went to my boyfriend’s place’ she gave an already prepared answer, ignoring the first question. Tarasha smiled and turning back to face the two guys, she took a sip from the wine Aisha served her.
‘We’ll leave on Thursday with two vehicles’
‘Huh?’ The surprised trio exchanged glances and returned their focus on Tarasha
‘Why land transport? Port Harcourt is a long distance from here’ Benny questioned.
‘How many hours journey is it?’ Tarasha inquired.
‘I’m not sure, but it shouldn’t be less than seven hours’ Benny replied.
‘Which of you can fly a jet?’ She paused, staring at their faces to get an answer. She continued when she got none,
‘I can fly a jet but we won’t be able to use it to travel for this operation because there’s no personal landing space for us to use’
‘We could get one to use, if you talk to Chief Gab, he can provide one for us’ Cole suggested
‘No’ Tarasha objected, ‘ that would announce our presence, it would make us exposed to the authorities’
‘True’ Benny whispered, aligning his thoughts with hers.
‘We’ll go in two vehicles, a truck which would carry some cartons of books with our instruments hidden in them’ Tarasha elaborated on the plan. ‘I and Benny would drive in the truck while Cole and Aisha would follow in a car. We’ll buy another car when we get there’
‘Have you gotten a place for us to stay when we get there?’
‘Yes, there’s a building prepared for our use in Oro…ro…gboom’ She struggled to pronounce the town’s name, she brought out a tablet device and scrolled through. ‘Latitude 4.79071, longitude 7.01174’ Cole got up from his seat and proceeded to where Tarasha was seated, he placed a knee on the floor and bent to have a study the map on Tarasha’s device. She handed the device to him.
‘Orogbum’ He pronounced correctly, staring at his Boss’ face. ‘It is very close to Port Harcourt’
‘Its Okay, does anyone of you have questions to ask?’ She got up from her seat, collecting the device from Cole.
‘For how long would the operation last?’ Cole asked.
‘I don’t know yet, it depends on how fast we are able to come up with ideas’ she gave a quick reply. ‘Any other question?’ They trio exchanged gazes in silence, not having any question. ‘I’m sure that you guys are trained enough to keep all we’ve said here to yourselves’ she admonished with a serious look on her face. Turning to Aisha, she added with a contorted look on her face ‘no one else should hear about this, including your boyfriend’ …
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to be continued