My foster parents did not question me too much about my sudden travel plans. They rarely questioned my decisions, though.
When I called my boss to inform him that I would not be at work the following day, and probably Tuesday, he gave me a hell. I was just trying to be civil, doing the right thing instead of going AWOL. I tried to explain to him that it was important, but he was not hearing any of it. Not even when I insisted it was a matter of life and death.
“Life and death, enhe?” my boss quipped. I could picture him sneering at my phantom on the other end. “Let the dead bury their dead, Folami,” he said. “I want to see you at the office tomorrow morning. Eight sharp.” And with that he hung up on me.
My boss hung up on me, his right hand person in the whole of Rift Valley. He’d once told me that he did not know what he’d have done in Save the Children had I not by him. Now, he was saying no to my humble request to be away for just two days. It’s not like I was asking for an early annual leave. Un-freaking-believable!
When I tried to call him again, his phone was off. I tried his other numbers – yuMobile, Airtel, Orange and Telkom. They were all mteja (switched off). I was left with only one option – to do what I had to. God knew, and as Americans say, fuck the job.
It was déjà vu all over again as the plane touched down at the Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, at dusk. I rented a car and drove past the Haryakon Park in Tel Aviv as darkness crept in. I checked in at the David Intercontinental, settled in and made contact with Leora.
“That was so fast,” she said delightedly. “I did not expect you sooner than later.”
After some chitchat, everything went silent save for the TV that was on. Shiri Appleby was being interviewed by some kooky looking guy. A celebrity thing.
I stripped down to panties and bra and went to the bathroom. After I had refreshed, I went to the balcony for the dinner room service had delivered when I was showering.
I watched the ocean as I ate, enjoying the sound of the surf and the hot salty air.
After dinner, I finished reading the James Patterson novel, Honeymoon, which I’d been reading over a week now. It was long after midnight when I went horizontal and caught myself some hours’ sleep.
The following day, at exactly 0935 Hrs, I was picked by a new model of MI17 helicopter at the hotel’s helipad to an undisclosed location.
The helicopter flew over inhabited and uninhabited areas until I saw it approaching a high ridgeline.
Golan Heights. That’s what the GPS screen in the cockpit said.
The helicopter started to descend but heading straight for the mountain. What the heck was the pilot thinking? Was he planning on crashing the helicopter, and my young life and career be a tragic fiasco?
My heart started palpitating, threatening to jump into my throat, and I was about to shout was suicide his mission when something un-fucking-believable happened – the ridge-line started parting slowly. First it appeared like a re-entrant but it slowly opened, like iron gates opening electrically. The chopper continued to descend and then, to my consternation, discovered something I only knew existed in fiction. It was like a scene from the movie G.I. Joe.
The pilot maneuvered the helicopter skillfully to the slowly opening entrance and descended further down. What I was witnessing was the much denied Israel Defence Forces’ bunkers in Golan Heights.
The ‘copter landed and when I disembarked I counted twelve more. Jeez, a squadron of attack helicopters underground. I took in the rest of the milieu – I couldn’t help noticing that so much had been done. Think of the empty shell of an egg. That’s what Golan Heights is. Outside it’s a very beautiful scenery, but deep inside it’s a chamber, a military base, and much more (I guess a secret lab carrying out all experiments).
The pilot, a pubescent looking guy, led me to a waiting buggy, sad behind the wheel and we descended further down on a rail line.
I was not listening to what the pilot was saying. Instead, I was marveling at the wonderful sight I was seeing: workrooms, laboratories, offices, canteens and shopping malls further down, theatre and games room, and finally the underground base.
He led the way to a corner room with a sea of LCD screen monitors and a monster keyboard with gazillion controls. The monitors displayed a multitude of images from all over the country. As I came to know later, on the screens was everyone, as in everyone, in the world. The system monitored every move – phone calls, movements, activities and all – of everybody in the world. It was being upgraded to be able to read thoughts, a kind of a defence system to help determine potential threat before it was too late. And I thought such things are fictitious (I had watched the movie Person of Interest).
At the control sat an auburn haired woman in her early twenties. She had headphones on her head, her eyes on one of the ginormous screens, and speaking in language only she understood. It was my contact, Leora.
When she saw us she stopped what she was doing, punched a button and a rather good-looking guy, if he’s your type, stomped in.
“Just for a short while, Shamir,” she told the newcomer who barely paid attention to us. “Will ya’? I will be back before you even know it.”
“Take your time, Leora. You know I like doing this, especially for you.”
Leora smiled and gave the guy a coquettish wink. “See you then,” she said as she gestured I follow her, but not before thanking the good pilot.
As I followed her, I felt heady.
We entered a claustrophobic room that passed as a deep freezer. Immediately we entered, lights went on automatically, so did the heaters and the music.
“If you were a fish, you’d be dead by now,” she told me.
“And why is that?”
“I dangle bait, and you jump for it.”
“You know how badly I want this.”
“I’ve something for you,” she said as she showed me a seat and took the one opposite me. She took a packet of photos from a drawer and handed them to me.
I took the photos, flipped through them, taking in everything, recognizing one face in particular.
“How did you come by these?”
“I shot them myself. At first it was an anonymous tip from one of our sources, but when we felt it was not enough, we went deeper.”
“That was when your mother came into the picture. The man in the picture is the link.”
I put the pictures down on the glass table between us. I leaned back in the chair and sighed heavily.
Nothing was said for a long time. It seemed to expand beyond the secret underground base.
“Tell me this ain’t some kind of a sick joke?”
“I’ve a lousy sense of humour,” she said. Everything seemed surreal. “No better friend. No worse enemy.”
Leora nodded at me, got up and asked me to follow her. We went to a room with the words ‘Officers Mess’ emblazoned on the door and went to what I assumed to be the dining room. It was almost lunch time and the tables were being set.
Leora took a paper serviette, wrote something on it and showed it to me.
“This is who contracted the hit on your mother,” she told me.
When she was sure I had seen what she’d written, she crumpled the serviette and threw it in a bucket of water that was at the corner of the room. Everything dissolved in that water, including my hold.
At five o’clock in the evening I was at the Ben Gurion Airport for my flight back to Kenya. As I strapped myself in my first class seat; I couldn’t help feeling sick – sick of everything.
The plane took off and five minutes after leveling and being served with whatever they give you on planes, there was a crackle over the intercom, then chaos.
It’d have been Mayhem! Mayhem!
A female flight attendant came to me, shock and fear written all over. Behind her, there’s a svelte woman, model beautiful, not a day over twenty (my guess), in black leather pants and zipped up leather jacket.
The plane took a nose dive and the flight attendant fell on me like a sack of potatoes. A minute later, everything was chaos.
I felt a tingling sensation on my neck and then dizziness.
The whole plane was on fire, and plummeting down fast.
This is how I gonna die, I thought, without even getting my mother’s killers.
Copyright ©Elove, 2012.