They entered a military humvee and both men sat comfortably in the seats, Deji caught himself counting the sentries along the way. He reckoned that if he had chased a little slower, he would have seen the trap he was running into and probably would have sprung it. He hung his head.
Agent Tunde looked at him meaningfully smiled and tapped the headrest of the driver’s seat. ‘Agent Smart, we’re ready to go.’
Deji found himself mildly amused, the driver too is a Smart, he was sure he would meet other Tunde’s before the day was over as well as a myriad of Smarts. He braced himself for a tumultous ride.
They drove for more than ten minutes then agent Smart-the driver, pulled over and stopped the car. Deji was getting down when agent Tunde cautioned him.
‘No matter what, you stay in the car till you receive an all clear signal got it?’ He was blowing hot and cold and Deji found it irritating that he couldn’t read the man.
‘I got it.’ He sulked.
‘Good.’ Agent Tunde smiled and a shrill whistle rang. The phone on the armrest of the passenger seat. He looked at the man who smiled and said one word. ‘Out.’
They got out and the facility they were in front of was another warehouse. Another sparse and depressing warehouse Deji groaned. The agent standing beside him felt rather than saw his anger. He had also felt that way.
‘Come,’ he said, making his way into the warehouse. ‘You’ll soon be impressed.’ He was halfway to the entrance.
Deji followed with a start, he had counted over ten soldiers loosely guarding the entrance. And he knew there were several more his untrained eyes didn’t pick out. He made it to the door and blanched. There was no office here, just a damned wall. He looked at agent Tunde. ‘Okay, where’s the camera, I’m sure I’m getting pranked.’
‘Funny you should ask for cameras, why don’t you look over there for a sec?’ He pointed with his left index finger.
Deji looked back, didn’t see anything and curiously moved closer the wall. He heard a shutter click, moved back, and noticed agent Tunde was gone. Suddenly he remembered that the agent had been resting his hand a table of sorts. He smiled then, ‘damn, I need to be more observant,’ he chided himself.
‘Welcome.’ An automated voice said and he jumped again. Somehow, he felt he might have an heart attack since the culmination of the heart tremors he had been having for the last hour may finally do him in.
‘Welcome, mr Deji Oladele,’ the voice said again and a door opened releasing concealed gas as it appeared the door wasn’t always in use. His face puckered as he became thoughtful. He leaned forward trying to see inside the vault-like door. All dark.
Somehow he felt standing there was the best option he had. ‘Okay, agent Tunde, this ain’t funny anymore.’ He raised his voice unsure anyone could hear him.
A light blinked at the door he spied it and turned away from it. Ain’t no way I’m going into that vault men, no way. He grunted, now observing the room. He noticed that his first impression had been wrong. He was in a kind of padded outer room that agents use as their lobby. Wrong identification and the military base would converge there. The beauty was he would already be trapped in this hermetic vault.
His heart swelled, ‘way to go Naija’, he mentally raised his thumb as he went back to scouring the room. He checked his watch, relativity of time and all, Deji guessed he had been in the room for less than ninety seconds. Suddenly it occurred to him that this may be his second challenge that day.
‘Damn spooks,’ he complained. ‘Time challenge with no prior notice, shit.’ He slid his foot towards the open door, convinced it wasn’t the exit. Nothing happened. He stood upright, pursed his lips and studied the door frame.
He was about looking away when he saw a green button hidden in the wall. A person could look at that wall for hours and miss it still. So how had he seen it? He remembered there had been a red blip earlier, he scanned for the light, it wasn’t blinking. He smiled.
He looked at his shoes, stretched and bent over like an athlete warming up for a race. He raised himself and started skipping on the spot. He had seen another button near the door that they came in through. Not that it was anything, but he was sure agent Tunde had closed the door as he came in. ‘Damned spook.’
He went towards the door, depressed the button and waited for all of two seconds, nothing. He exulted and turned back. He had memorised all the accoutrements of the room and so when he noticed a small pad was out of place he went to it and placed his palm on the scanner. Somehow he was sure they had his prints.
The scanner beeped, his heart raced, everything else froze. His life consisted only of himself and the scanner. It beeped silently again and suddenly he realised why he didn’t notice agent Tunde’s departure.
The floor opened and he fell into it, sliding so fast all he could do was scream as he went down. He was sure he would die at the bottom and suddenly he was thrown into a large vacuum. Deji braced himself for the impact instinctively grabbing both knees and drawing them close to his chin. He closed his eyes, ready for certain death or at least an injury that would render him handicap. One, two, he counted in his mind… nothing.
He knew something was wrong, he knew he was supposed to have made impact and either be dead or passed out. That’s it, Deji thought, he was dead and his spirit was looking at his body, scared to open his eyes. ‘I’m dead,’ he told himself, might as well see what a fine corpse I made, he told himself. Slowly, he opened his eyes, let go of his knees and found out he was not dead. He was floating.
‘Turn it off!’ Agent Tunde barked and Deji dropped three feet onto the floor. He was momentarily disoriented and clutched the ground, afraid to let go. A few seconds later, he regained his senses.
Standing unsteadily, his legs still rattled, his muscles uncoordinated Deji felt like killing somebody.
‘Congrats, my boy. You just fell eleven stories. Impressive.’ Agent Tunde had genuine respect on his face.
‘Wha, what does this mean then?’ Deji croaked. He was afraid to speak loud. He was seating on the vacuum floor.
The easy smile returned. ‘You passed your test and have qualified for the next round of the selection process.’ Agent Tunde entered into the vacuum. ‘Here’s a form you need to fill out. Be at the cantonment gate at seven a.m two fridays from today okay?’
He did the calculation, surprised that all his faculty had returned and he was silently hoping that he could do the drop again. Eleven floors? Even he was impressed. A smile found it’s way to his lips.
‘I see the hate has dissipated. I assure you, you’ll curse today going forward. For now though, it’s time for your excursion of the weaponry. Come, let’s show you some beauties.’ Agent Tunde was walking away as he spoke…