Hotel de Casa. One of the best hotels in the country, and arguably the best in Rivers State. Standing ten stories high, it has twenty rooms on each floor, with the most expensive at the top. It faces the city, but behind it is undeveloped land and a burgeoning Estate. Its security system is state of the art, and it has a Casino, a club, gym and spa, an indoor and outdoor restaurant, king-size pool, and a live band, as well as other perks. It is the hotel of choice for the elite.
It is where Daniel Omira lodged for the moment.
Room 1612. The balcony of the room faced the bushes and the Estate. This particular room has a fairly large sitting room and bedroom, and it is tastefully furnished. N50,000 per night. The lights in the living room are on, and the TV is programmed to MTV Base, with the speakers churning out hit after hit. The glass centre table is littered with five bottles of beer, two bottles of Malt, and two used glasses. A sliding glass door leads out onto the balcony; right now it is locked, and a curtain covers it. Another door leads off to the bedroom, within which the shower runs. The light in the toilet is on.
The light in the bedroom, however, is not on. The room is dark, and quiet. Nothing stirs, nothing moves.
Daniel Omira lies on the bed in the darkness.
Spread-eagled, and very dead.
She knocked. “Room Service,” she said, when no one answered. She knocked again. Listened. “Room Service!” No reply. The room was quiet. The occupant must’ve been out.
Good. That way, her job would be easier.
The maid swiped the key-card, and then pushed the door open. She pushed her cleaning cart in, turned around and hung a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign on the door handle, closed it and engaged the lock for good measure. She turned to survey the room, still, eyes scanning. She gave a small sigh.
Time to work.
Amanda slipped on her gloves.
Room 1812. Simon stood outside, on the balcony, scanning the night. In truth, he didn’t need to. The halogen bulbs only got as far as the sixth floor before fading away. Besides, they weren’t perfectly placed to throw light on this part of the hotel. He also wasn’t worried about the other hotel customers; none was out on any balconies, as far as he could see. Nothing to look at but darkness; even the moon was obscured by clouds.
Sometimes, fortune did smile on him.
He tested the knot he’d tied on the balustrade again, to the side, close to the wall. It was strong. He checked himself again. He was dressed in mottled grey and black combat trousers and sweatshirt; they were better at camouflaging than pure black, which stood out at night. The mottled dress made him look indistinct from a little distance; the darker the better. He also wore black Gore-Tex boots and special gloves. His bag was securely strapped to his shoulders and back, his Beretta was in his shoulder holster, and the hook for the rope was in place. He stood, and then hooked the rope to his harness, and then stepped over the balustrade. Holding the length of rope in his left hand, he rappelled from that floor to the one below him, landing lightly on the balustrade below, and then he repeated the move again, playing out the rope. He landed on the balustrade of Room 1612, and stopped. The light was on in the sitting room. He landed softly on the floor and unhooked himself, then walked to the door, taking out a slim, metal file which he slid into the tiny space between the two doors. He waited, listening for movement. He could hear music, and what sounded like running water. Apart from that, nothing else.
He was probably in the shower.
Simon raised the metal fie until he felt the resistance from the hook. He nudged it upwards firmly. Doors in places like this aren’t made for security, and are usually weak. This one proved no exception. It slid up, and came to a stop. He waited a beat, then slid the doors apart a bit. The music assaulted his ears, but he held onto the curtains; he didn’t want them billowing in. Through the crack, he searched the room as well as he could, and then he entered. He took out his gun as he did, attaching a sound suppressor to it as his eyes swept the room. He saw the bottles and glasses on the tables, and then he heard something else.
Someone else was in here with him.
Amanda paused, trying not to look at the stiff body on the bed. She’d worn her gloves and checked for signs of breathing or a pulse.
Which was wrong.
This had never happened before; besides, it was never good to contract two assassins for the same job. In fact, she’d never heard of it being done.
She’d checked for signs of death; none immediately visible. No gunshot wound, no stab wound, no signs of strangulation. No blood.
Poisoning then. Or suffocation.
She’d proceeded to check the rooms as fast as she could while trying to miss nothing; first the living room, and then the bedroom. However, there was nothing to miss as the rooms had been empty except for a small bag that held a change of clothes in the bedroom. There was nothing else. So what-
The cold draft stopped her. She stopped, listened. She’d locked the door, she was sure of that. She’d not heard it open or close.
Maybe it’s the air conditioning, her mind rationalized.
Well, rationalization had not kept her alive this long. She went to her cart, took out her sound-suppressed Beretta and stepped lightly towards the living room. She checked the bathroom; clear. She went, turned off the shower; she should’ve turned it off earlier. She walked towards the doorway, slowly, lightly, gun in a two-handed grip, up and out. She stepped out; at first glance there was-
The cold barrel touched her temple, and she stiffened.
“Don’t even think about it,” a male voice said, as she tried to swing her arm towards him. He’d been waiting for her just beside the door.
You are getting sloppy girl, she thought.
A gloved hand plucked the gun from her hand. “Well, well, I never took you for a cleaning lady Amanda.”
Now her curiosity was piqued. He knew her name? “Who are you?”
Holding to her gun while keeping his pointed at her head, he stepped into view. Dark, tall and handsome, he had an amused smile on his face, and he wore a harness; why would he wear one? He stood out of range of either her hands or legs while keeping the gun steadily pointed at her face.
“Well, you didn’t exactly come dressed for a friendly visit either.”
“Who are you?” she asked again.
He cocked his head to the side. “Well, you are certainly better-looking up close, but the uniform doesn’t do you justice.
“I’ll ask you one more time; who are you? Answer me or-”
“Or what?” he asked, that annoying smirk still on his face. He looked around the room. Is he in there?” he asked, nodding at the room.
“Yes,” she said, not wanting to draw this out any further.
“You killed him?”
“Hmm.” He thought for a moment and then asked “What else is in there?”
“Nothing. Just a small bag with clothes.”
“Look, what do you want? I know you are not here to kill me, or I would’ve been dead by now. So, tell me who you are and what you want, and we can both call it a day.”
“Huh?” she asked, brows furrowed.
“We can both call it a night. It is night.”
He looked at her for a moment, and then said “Turn around”. She did. “Now walk slowly back inside the bedroom.”
Trying to calm her heart, she complied. He followed her. Just at the door of the room, Amanda lashed out backwards with her left leg as she dropped her body out of the line of the pistol. He just stopped her leg with his boot to her calf, and without breaking stride kicked her lightly on her buttocks, propelling her forward. As she stopped herself just in front of the bed and turned, he told her “No funny business.” Without taking his eyes off her, he felt on the wall for a light switch, found it, and flicked the light on. As they did, he told her “Step aside,” so he could get a look at the body. One glance at the unseeing eyes and he said “He’s dead alright. What do you think?”
Sceptical, she answered “Poisoning or suffocation.”
“Hmm.” He looked at the corpse for a moment, and then looked around the room. “Well, guess that’s it. Now my job just became harder. I am going now. I suggest you do the same. Something is not right. Here.” He tossed her gun to her. “I’m going to check the living room, and then leave.”
“There’s nothing there,” Amanda said, surprised at the gun in her hands. “Who are you?” she asked. “What are you doing here?”
“Me? I’m just the retrieval guy.”
He turned and left the room. Amanda followed behind him. “Wait.”
He turned to look at her.
Then, the distinct sound of a key-card being swiped, and they both turned in unison to look. Then, the door rattled as someone pushed it.
“Oh shit,” Simon muttered, and then he motioned for Amanda to move. She moved back into the hallway as he cleared the space to the door in three steps, gun ready. He got to the hinge-side of the door not a moment too late.
The locks pinged and bulged as bullets destroyed them, the deadbolt flying out. Simon flattened himself on the wall as the door flew open and three men in suits moved swiftly into the room, sound-suppressed guns in their hands, up and out, spread out in a three-pronged movement; one going towards the dark hallway, one centre and the other towards the centre of the living room. A bullet took out the one close to the hallway and he dropped like a sack as Simon pushed the door close and took out the one in the centre with a head-shot, and then he was moving, rolling towards the other one who was turning around, bringing his gun around. He turned and saw Simon’s rolling form, sidestepped as he came up, Amanda’s bullet flying through the space where his head had been a moment ago, lined up to shoot. Simon knocked aside his gun and brought up his. The man grabbed his gun arm with his left but Simon just let the gun drop, slammed the edge of his palm on the side of the man’s knee, bringing him down to one knee, the man swung a haymaker and Simon ducked, hooked his left arm around the man’s neck, twisted him around, the movement forcing him to release Simon’s right hand. Simon pulled him close, holding the man’s hand close to his body as he propelled himself off the floor, legs opening in a scissor-motion, left leg up and over the man’s head while the right went behind, hip acting as a fulcrum close to the man’s shoulder. As Simon landed, his movement pulled the man down. Legs tight, arm close to the body; Simon thrust his hip violently up, heard the answering yell of pain as something in the man’s shoulder tore, felt it pop as well. Amanda stepped out of the hallway, walked to them and stomped hard on his solar plexus, cutting off his yell. Simon released him and rolled to his feet. He spotted his gun on the floor and picked it up, then checked the door. It was reasonably closed.
“Secure the door,” he told Amanda. “We don’t have much time.” They traded places. Simon knelt beside the man, taking out a roll of duct-tape from his pocket, taping the man’s hands behind his back, and then his legs. “Alright, start talking. Who sent you?” The man, still hyperventilating, looked at Simon as murderously as he could. “You won’t talk?” Simon stuffed his tie into his mouth. “Last chance. Who sent you?”
Silence. A murderous glare.
Simon shot him in the knee.
The man bucked violently and screamed into the tie stuffed in his mouth, straining against his bonds, muscles taut. A phone rang in the guy’s pocket, and Simon held him still as he searched for it. Took it out; a BlackBerry. He answered it.
“Ikenna, have you gotten her?”
Simon kept quiet as he looked at Amanda, listening hard. He could hear music in the background, meaning they could be on the hotel grounds, or anywhere. He wasn’t willing to take the chance that they might be away though.
“Sorry, wrong number,” Simon said.
The voice at the other end cursed and then ended the call.
“We have to get out of here,” he said. “Stairs or elevators are out of the question.
“Why?” Amanda asked.
“Cameras. Follow me.” He stood up and turned to go. Amanda shot the guy on the ground in the head. “What did you do that for?” he asked.
“He tried to kill us both.”
“Well, more you than me; I just came along for the ride.”
“You broke his shoulder.”
“You fought with him.”
“These men were sent to kill you. Ask the guy who called.”
Amanda’s eyes flashed angrily. “What? Why?”
“Heh. You ask me?” Simon stooped, searched the man’s pockets. “Check them, take whatever form of ID you can find on them; wallets, phones, anything. Quick. We don’t have much time.”
She went off and started checking the bodies; took their phones and wallets. Simon took the other guy’s wallet as well. “C’mon.” He walked to the sliding door, opened it. She stepped out after him, shutting it behind her.
“Is this how you came in?”
He worked silently, stashing the phone and wallet in his pockets. Hooked the harness he still wore to the rope, and threw the rope over the side. Turned and held out his hands. “Gimme those.” She did, looking at him. He stashed them with the others. Held out his hands. “This is where you hold onto me.”
As she stepped into his arms, a little self-conscious, he grinned. “By the way, I’m Simon.”
Then, he swung them both over the balustrade and into the night.
His phone rang. He picked it. “Yes?”
“It’s been done.”