Nowadays, people say love is overrated. They say love is an excuse to get hurt. They say love is for the weak. They say all sort of things but they forget that love is sharing, love is forgiving, love is honest, love is peaceful, love is patient and most especially… Love conquereth all.
“You know you shouldn’t have done that, right?” The man with the tool box, who Taofeek now knew as Mr K, said to Mr Dare as he saw that Mr Dayo let Zainab see Taofeek at the back of the bus.
“The girl has been pretty cooperative, the least we can do is give her a reason to remain cooperative.” Mr Dayo replied.
“You could have just let her speak to him not expose our location… The most important rule of this our business is never expose you location!!!” Mr K yelled.
“Why are you being so paranoid?” Mr Dayo said calmly, “aren’t we changing location right away?”
“That doesn’t mean we should…” Mr K tried to say.
“Take a chill pill K, everything is under control. Now can you be a gentleman and drive us to the next location?” Mr Dayo said in a way that sounded like a question, but was more of a order.
Once again, Henry found himself driving like a madman all the way to Oke-Afa. One thing was certain; Taofeek was still alive and Zainab had seen him so it was obvious the kidnappers haven’t noticed the bags they were filled with newspapers.
“Do you have any idea where the church is?” Henry asked.
Zainab lips curved into a light smile, “so you don’t even know the place and you are driving with such confidence.” She leaned back on the chair. “I thought you knew everywhere in Lagos.”
Henry could sense she was trying to tease him so he quickly shut her up, “do you know the place? Yes or no,” he said sternly.
Zainab shrugged, “take a left turn at the next intersection.” She replied.
Henry did as told but then again, he had barely driven for a minute before Zainab instructed him to take another turn and then he saw it.
The church was pretty big and seemed to have over four distinctively big buildings within its compound and apart from a couple of light bulbs that had been left on from the previous evening service, the whole compound was dark and seemed totally deserted.
It was a perfect place for the final drop, Henry thought out loud as he couldn’t help but admit that it he were to be a kidnapper, he would have chosen same place.
They had few minutes left before Mr Dayo call, so Henry suggested they surveyed the area just in case. Zainab didn’t object.
They both walked out of the car and walked into the church.
“Hello!” John said as he picked up the phone call.
“Hello… Jummy?” John said again.
“I need your help,” Jummy finally reply.
“Hmmm… Do you know what the time is?”
“Yes… I need you to come over to my place, please.”
John pondered a little but accepted anyway. “I’m on my way,” he said and hung up.
“Is that your phone that’s ringing?” Henry asked as he and Zainab walked into the main auditorium and heard a phone ringing echoing round the church.
Zainab knew it wasn’t her phone just checked anyway just to be sure. “No, it isn’t. Maybe someone forget his phone in the church or something like that.”
The ignored the first ring, but then it rang again and again and again until the were forced to locate the phone out of mere curiosity, they their greatest surprise, ANSWER! Showed on the screen of the phone. Zainab gave Henry and inquiring look in which he nodded and then she picked up the call, putting it straight to loud speaker.
“I was starting to wonder you would never pick up,” the caller said.
“Errr… Is this who I think it is?” Zainab asked.
“Yes, I had my reason for not calling your phone this time.”
Zainab sighed, “okay, so where is my brother!” She asked almost immediately.
“Hey! Patience dear. You have to give us the money first then we would give you your brother.”
Henry shook his head vigorously at Zainab, telling her not to agree.
“I don’t agree with that! We have made two drops already, the least you can do is give me my brother then I’ll make the third drop.”
There was a short moment of silence as if the caller was thinking or talking to someone before he replied. “Okay, because you have been so cooperative, this is what we are going to do: take the money and go to the church complex, at the other side of the compound. Go to the middle floor and wait. We would make the switch simultaneously and please don’t bring you boyfriend along if you know what’s good for you.”
“Okay, I’m on my way already.”
“Good, don’t hang up.”
Henry was reluctant to let Zainab go alone but he had no option, the threat was pretty clear.
Zainab went alone to the location, just as the caller – Mr Dayo, had instructed.
She looked around and saw nothing at first, just pure darkness, so she said “I’m here,” into the phone and then suddenly, she saw a dim light radiate at the front of the building.
She walked closer to it without thinking twice and then she saw them; two men dressed casually. One wore a blue Jean and a red Polo, while the other wore a a similar blue jean (only darker) and a long sleeve corporate shirt, they both wore black masks.
Zainab heard a beep from the phone she held, only to look at the screen and see that the call had been disconnected.
“I don’t think we would need that any more since we are both here,” the one with the long sleeve shirt said, he was Mr Dayo.
Zainab found herself going straight to the point. “Where is my brother?” She asked.
“Oh! That, are you always all about business?” Mr Dayo asked. Zainab could see his white set of teeth even in the dim light as he grinned widely.
“I’ve got your money here, now where is my brother.” Zainab replied coldly.
“Very well then.” Mr Dayo replied. He snapped his finger and out of the shadow, Taofeek appeared.
Mr K placed a gun at his back and said “no smart moves mister.”
“Now can I get the money?” Mr Dayo said.
“You let my brother go first and I’ll hand over the money.”
Mr Dayo stared at Mr K inquiring and just as if the had a quick but silent conversation with just their eyes, Mr K lowered the gun from Taofeek’s back and pushed him forward.
Taofeek limped forward towards Zainab who let the bag of money slip from her hand and embraced Taofeek tightly. Taofeek placed his arms around her and tightened the hug.
“I was so scared.” Zainab said.
“You don’t have to be,” Taofeek replied. “I’m here now and in perfect condition.” A sudden flow of pain hit the leg that was stabbed and he grunted. “Well, almost in perfect condition,” he added with a grin. Zainab chuckled.
“Awwww… So touching.” Mr Dayo said sarcastically. “I hate to interrupt with this family reunion but time is a highly priced factor in this transaction.”
Zainab didn’t need to be told what Mr Dayo was talking about. She disengaged from Taofeek’s hug and picked up the bag. She walked forward and dropped it at their front the turned to leave. She let Taofeek place his left arm around her shoulder to aid his walking.
They were almost at the door when Mr Dayo stopped them. “I’m sorry, but my partner here, seems to doubt how you were able to raise ten million naira in one night without any bank opened.”
Zainab froze in her tracks. Her hearts started beating so fast and loud she feared the kidnappers could hear it. She took a deep breath and turned. “I’ve got friends who have friends that have friends.” Zainab said, trying to keep her voice leveled.
“That’s what I said to him but he insists we at least, count the amount in this bag.” Mr Dayo replied. “So kindly do us a favors and take a sit somewhere around while we quickly count it.”
Zainab knew she was doomed. The one million covered just two layers of the bag’s content. The remaining three layers below were nothing but outdated newspapers.
She sat down slowly, and Taofeek sat down beside her. Her mind was racing. If only Henry hadn’t suggested such a stupid idea, she thought.
It was easy for John to locate Jummy’s house since he had paid a visit a couple of times.
He parked his beat up beatle at the front of the building and called her. She came out few minutes later and joined him in the car.
It felt strange seeing her twice the same night considering how the first time went but he somehow composed himself and tried to sound as casual as he could. “So what’s up?” He asked
Jummy went ahead to tell him everything Zainab had told her and then rounded up with “I can’t just stay at home and do nothing. But I don’t know what other option I have.”
John sighed and for the next minute he was quite and stiff, like he was in a trance or something then he replied. “Firstly, we would be taking your car since its faster and you might not like what my idea is, but here is what we are going to do…”
Henry was worried. Zainab had been gone for ten minutes now and she hadn’t shown up.
He paced endlessly round the church auditorium and the walked down to the complex. He glanced round the building and it was obvious where they were because only one source of light happened to be switched on.
He decided to wait another five minutes before walking in. Five minutes came and went within the snap of a finger and Henry did the sign of the cross and walked into the complex.
He traced the light to the middle floor and when he got there, he first peeped through the window and could get a clear view of what was happening. He spotted two masked men going through the bag at few meters from Zainab and Taofeek who sat on a chair.
Taofeek seemed obviously injured and weak, he looked like he would pass out any moment from now. While Zainab looked straight at the the kidnappers as if she was hoping for bullets to come out of her eyes and shoot them.
There was no way Henry was to enter without the kidnappers noticing him so he had to think of some other way…. Fast.
He finally decided it was time to call the police, so he tip toed out of the building and placed a call to his friend in the police who was a DPO and the friend said they were on their way. So one thing was certain… Back up was coming, but what use would the back up be if they were all dead before it arrived.
There wasn’t much time left and Henry knew this. He had to do something. He climbed back to the middle floor and tried to get Zainab’s attention from the window.
He made funny sounds like a bird and after a few seconds, Zainab turned to look at the mirror.
He mouthed, “can you sneak out without them seeing you?”
Zainab looked at the kidnappers and was sure she could since they were too engrossed in the counting of the money, but by the time she looked down at Taofeek, he was at the verge of passing out. There was no way she could carry him out without making a lot of noise. “No” she mouthed back to Henry then explained why.
Henry knew they only was was a distraction. He mouthed a plan to Zainab and she didn’t agree to it saying it was risky but he went ahead with it anyway.
He left the window and ran past the front door at the speed of lightening. Mr Dayo saw him run past the door and instructed Mr K to go and deal with him. He looked up at Zainab and said, “at least I warned your friend first.” Then he continued counting the money.
Zainab picked up a hymn book that was beside the chair and threw it outside the window.
Mr Dayo was startled. For the first time that night, he brought out his gun and cocked it. If you want something done properly, you got to do it yourself.” With that, he warned Zainab to stay where she was and he went after the supposed Henry.
As soon as she was sure she was alone, Zainab tapped Taofeek until she got his attention and helped him up and they both headed downstairs: out of the complex.
As soon as she got out, she started heading for the car and suddenly, she heard footsteps running towards her from behind.
“And where do you think you are going to?” Mr K, who was supposed to be chasing Henry asked.
Zainab paused and stood still.
“You see, unlike my partner, I don’t give a fuck about you and I suggested we kill you both but he kept on talking trash. Now, who is going to save you?”
Mr K cocked the gun and Zainab knew it was game over for her and her brother. Two ‘BANGS!!!’ From the gun and they would both be history. Without turning to face Mr K, she braced herself for the inevitable.
And then it happened; BANG!!!
The trigger was pulled.
Henry hadn’t been in the church complex before but he navigated round it with ease.
It was a four story building with two big halls and several offices on each floor. The halls were obviously for special occasions such as weddings while the offices were for workers in the church, although most of the offices were empty. Each hall had four doors; one at each wing.
Henry was a sharp minded fellow, so it was easy for him to understand the structure of the building.
He had no weapon and at this point, he was sure only one person was chasing him. As he ran to the third floor he picked up a plank that seemed to be the broken leg of one of the chairs in the building and he stood behind a pillar, waiting for the person chasing him to come closer so he could hit him with the stick… Or at least, that was the plan.
Mr Dayo, who was now on Henry trail saw him when he slipped behind the pillar and smiled at how stupid Henry was to think he wouldn’t be seen.
He tip toed closer and then jumped right at the front of Henry with the gun placed directly at his front. He was about to wave the plank as planned but Mr Dayo warned him “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” He said.
Henry dropped the plank and rose his hands as a signed of surrender.
“Wise choice young man, but you are to late.” Mr Dayo was about to squeeze the trigger when he heard a BANG!!! Somewhere in the church premises and he was startled.
In one quick movement, Henry hit Mr Dayo on his wrist so hard he almost let the gun slip, then without a second to spare, he use his other hand to snap the gun out of Mr Dayo’s hand and just like in an action movie, the table were turned and the odds now favored Henry as he was now pointing the gun at Mr Dayo.
“Don’t shoot… Please… Don’t shoot, I have-” Mr Dayo babbled but Henry didn’t even have plans of shooting him in the first place, he spinned the gun on hit Mr Dayo’s head with the butt of the gun. He passed out immediately.
Henry was certain Mr Dayo won’t be a problem anymore for the night.
He left the body there and ran towards where he heard the gunshot, hoping the worst hadn’t happened.
Zainab had once read in a book that the bullet of a gun is so fast that you would be dead even before you hear the BANG!!! Sound that follows.
She heard the bang sound and which only meant one thing, she was still alive but she couldn’t say the same about Taofeek. Her eyes were closed tightly and for some reasons, she couldn’t open them.
She patiently waited for the second bang which came almost immediately but she heard a male voice grunt and heard someone fall down, but she didn’t as much feel a scratch.
Two bangs heard and she was still alive? She opened her eyes immediately only to turn and see everyone… Or almost everyone was around.
In a split second, Zainab tried to absorb all that was going on around her. Jummy stood at a distance with her mouth wide opened in shock. Henry was on motion, running towards the mini crowd. John was directed at he front and his eyes were focused on Jummy. Samuel was holding a gun in his right hand and smoke emitted from the mouth which could only mean it was just shot and finally, Mr K was still standing where he was earlier with his gun smoking too and a hole in his head.
She heard two bangs, and can see two smoking guns and just one gun hole in Mr K head, where did the second bullet go? She wondered.
As just as an answer to her question, John slopped right in front of her.
Jummy screamed and ran towards John. She knelt down beside him crying furiously.
“John please stay with me… Somebody help!!” Jummy yelled, using her statements to punctuate her tears.
John whole cloth was soaked with blood already and seemed to be loosing more blood than his body could handle.
“Jummy…” He tried to say as he coughed out blood.
“Shhhhh!!! Don’t say anything.” Jummy replied.
“Jummy!” He said a little louder. It was obviously he was struggling to talk.
“I Love you.” He finally said.
“I love you too.” Jummy replied.
A light smile formed on John’s face and he closed his eyes shut… Only a drop of tear escaped.
Jummy went hysteric. She wailed so loud the occupants of houses two streets away woke up from their sleep.
Zainab finally understood all that had happened. Probably Jummy called John who then called his only friend with military knowledge – Samuel.
Just as Mr K pulled the trigger, John had selflessly jumped in to take the bullet for Zainab and in response, Samuel had shot Mr K.
Zainab was speechless.
Taofeek who now had a little energy placed his arms on Jummy shoulder and lifted her up. He gave her a warm hug.
Henry and Samuel ran towards John’s body. Samuel ripped out John’s shirt and saw the bullet had pierced the right chest- very close to the shoulder. He placed his ears on John’s chest and with a beam of joy he looked straight at Henry and said “he is still alive.”
Just then, the sharp sound of the police siren could be heard and in a few minutes, John was placed in one of the police trucks and driven to the nearest hospital with two police escorts and Jummy beside him.
Henry told his DPO friend the where about of Mr Dayo and then told him the whole story.
He then walked to a slab near by and sat down, reflecting on the events of the day.
Zainab spotted Henry and to sit beside him.
For several minutes, they both said nothing until Henry broke the silence. “I guess this is the best date I’ve ever been to.”
Zainab giggled. “Do you always joke about everything?” She asked the question the second time that night.
Henry looked straight in her eyes and said “no.” Then he leaned forward and kissed her lightly. “That wasn’t a joke,” he said.
Zainab smiled. “That was errr…” She searched for words, “serious.” She finally said.
“So do you want me to stop joking around?” He asked.
Zainab just grinned in response.
PS: *A big thank you to all my loyal readers since day one. I appreciate all your comments and patience during the though times during the writing of this story.
*My next series titled “CELL 6 – Origin” would officially start around the second or third week of january but I may post the prologue earlier than that to get you guys first impression about it. The story falls majorly under three genres: action, comedy and thriller (this would be my first thriller story). I’ll pass further information about it later.
*The “School life” ebook I promise you guys is long over due, maybe I’ll finally get the time to compile and publish it.
*Check back on January 1st for a short story.
*Once again, thanks for reading and I wish you all a Happy new year in advance.