Two down. Progress. The Senator’s death had been nothing but the start. He hadn’t mattered much, hence the fire. No torture. Well, burning to death was torture enough.
But Kabiru, aaaah…..Kabiru’s death had felt good. The look on his face upon seeing who he’d been had been priceless.
The face of betrayal.
He hadn’t begged for his life. Good. That would have only pissed him off.
However, something was troubling him; had been troubling him actually for a while now actually. Something….just didn’t feel right.
Well, in time….he would find out in time.
He closed his eyes and resumed his breathing exercises.
Up was down. Down was up. It was almost 5 o’clock, and he was getting nowhere. This…this case was becoming something else. When he’d decided to take his Superiors up on the case, Mark had expected to at least have some level of breakthrough fairly quickly. Political killing? Fairly easy, in his opinion; look within the Political circles. The campaign office attack had been a case of hot-headedness which, he was pretty sure had been approved of by the chieftains of CPP. Nothing of that magnitude would have happened without approval from high up. However, shuko marks on Senator Chimeka’s fence and the death of Kabiru Sani was something…different.
What do you want?
Ninjas were assassins, he knew that. They were not arsonists, or serial killers. No emotion. Silent.
So what was with the whole grenade and torture issue?
Something wasn’t adding up.
In addition to that, he was getting nowhere with his info hunt on Kabiru. One thing that tugged at Mark was the seeming lack of a past for this guy. Up until 2005, there had been little or no information about him. All he’d seen was some phony-looking write-up about him returning to the country after years abroad, to take over the reins of TIMMERMANN & Co. According to reports, Kabiru had transformed the company from a good one to something of a national household name, mostly with Government contracts. He’d also been a big player in CPP, and according to rumours he’d been one of the largest sponsors of Senator Chimeka’s opponent, Chief Thomas Uche. He’d already fielded calls from some heavy men within the political party. Not good. One of their money-bags had been taken out of the picture, and they wanted the head of the perpetrator. Same old same old. Not his concern right now, dancing to their tunes. His first responsibility was to work in tandem with Jerry and his team, and bring this killer to justice.
Something told him that wasn’t going to be easy.
Motive, motive….what was the motive?
What was the connection? What had they done to make someone unleash a Ninja on them? Or was this personal?
But Kabiru’s death looked more personal than that of the Senator; that one had been rather impersonal. And the use of a grenade?
Talk about overkill.
Questions, leading to more questions.
No answers in sight.
What were you doing Kabiru, before you came back?
The knock on his door intruded on his thoughts, and Ben opened the door a crack and stuck his head in. “Got a moment?”
Mark beckoned for him to come in. “Come on, sit down.” As Ben did that, Mark asked “Where do you suppose Kabiru was before he started his company?”
Ben shook his head. “I’m not so sure…just as I am not sure what to make of this.” He placed the folder he’d come in with on the table, and opened it. He took out a sheet of paper and passed it over; turned out it was an image. “Found that on the internet; the website of The Guardian. Dated 2004.”
Mark didn’t really recognize the photograph, but the description beneath told him it was taken upon the visit of the Namibian President, and his tour of the Rivers State in the company of the Nigerian President at the time. Mark was looking at a fat, black man, smiling and waving to whoever or whatever was off-camera.
That didn’t concern him.
He saw the President of Nigeria at the time, who had since been out of office.
That didn’t concern him either.
Neither did the face of the Governor of Rivers State.
What made his eyebrows go up was one face, looking off to the side, eyes covered by dark shades, and shown in the background, inadvertently caught by the camera in full profile.
Obviously part of the Secret Service detail on duty.
Very obviously a dead man now.
“Kabiru?” Mark asked, looking up. Ben shrugged. He turned back to look at the photo. Klaxon sounds in his ears; his head felt like it was swelling.
Mark chuckled at himself. It made some sense. Of course it did. No past records anywhere because he’d been in the Secret Service.
Senator Chimeka…friends with SS Director Tamuno Banigo.
Kabiru Sani…ex Secret Service.
Long shot but…a shot all the same.
Mark knew he had to tread softly with this revelation.
Mark took out his phone and scrolled through his contacts, dialled a number. As the phone rang, he turned and opened the curtains of his window a crack. The street outside was busy. Traffic. Typical. People rushing to their destination, like the whole world was on a deadline. The person at the other end of the line picked.
“Inspector Mark, good evening.”
“Good evening Chi-Chi. How are you?”
“I am fine. How are you? I hope you got my text oh!”
Mark chuckled. “I did Chi. Thank you. How are things at the CAC?”
“Hectic as usual. Anything I can help you with?”
“Yes please. I need some information for an on-going investigation.”
“TIMMERMANN & Co.” Mark got tired of looking at the traffic and let the curtain fall. He turned back to Ben who looked like he wished he were on listening in on the conversation. Mark made a calm-down gesture at him, eliciting a smile as Ben relaxed.
“TIMMER….Got it. What do you want to know?”
“Well, when was it incorporated?”
“1998?” Mark’s eyebrows went up in surprise. Ben’s own did the same.
“No, just surprised. One more thing. I’ll like to know the names of the shareholders.” Mark took a pen and turned the printed picture facedown.
“Okay…shareholders, shareholders…” Ruffle of paper in the background. “Got it. Three shareholders. A Mrs Sarah Dolapo,” Mark wrote that down, “Mr Akin Jimoh,” Mark wrote that down as well…
…and his pen hung in mid-air over the next one.
“Mr Kabiru Sani.”
Mark looked up at Ben. Ben mouthed, What?
“Say that again please?”
“Kabiru Sani.” Silence from Mark. “Hello? Are you there?”
“Yes I am Chi. Thank you very much. I owe you.”
“Don’t worry. I have to run now. Bye.”
Mark put his phone and the pen on his table and spread his hands on either side of the paper. “TIMMERMANN &Co has three shareholders. Sarah Dolapo, Akin Jimoh…and Kabiru Sani.”
Ben’s eyes widened. “That wasn’t in the press releases I read.”
“I know. I didn’t see this one coming either. Are SS agents supposed to own companies?”
Mark leaned back in his chair. “I have to talk with Jerry, and I have to speak with the SS Director.”
Reverend Taiwo opened his fridge and took out the bread and butter. He picked up the bread-knife and applied some butter on a slice. Monica was in the bedroom. Thankfully, he didn’t have to feel this fear around his kids; they were all in school, with the oldest being in her 3rd year in the University. He wasn’t really hungry, but he didn’t know what else to do. He’d never felt so empty in his life.
The Fountain of Life.
If only he could be filled with it right now, he would be eternally grateful. He felt like a mixture of Job and Jonah; like he was being persecuted and swallowed repeatedly, at the same time.
The Servants of God suffer persecution.
Yes, but this was more than that. This…he had no words for it. He bit into the bread and rather than taste the butter on the soft slice, the bread crumbled in his mouth; the butter tasted powdery. He chewed without tasting. This was worse than the last time. Way worse. Then, he’d felt like God was with him, guiding his every step. It had not been easy, but it had never at any point in time gotten to this level; the despair he’d felt at the time had never been like this. Now, he felt like a six-year old facing a thirty-year old bully, all alone, in the dark.
Was this ever going to end? Was this feeling ever going to go away?
Or was he going to die?
Reverend Taiwo chuckled sadly as he kept the bread and butter back in the fridge and turned on the tap to wash the knife. His mouth tasted of bile, and he chased this down with a glass of water. Now his mouth tasted of diluted failure. He turned to go…
…and he was plunged into darkness. Thick, syrupy darkness. He gasped, and the smell of death hit him. He was lost in the sea of darkness.
Jesus Christ, come to my rescue, please. No weapon fashioned against me shall prosper in Jesus Name You are my protection I run to You-
The prayers tumbled out of his lips rapidly as his heart matched his lips for speed while he turned at a spot, trying to see, to find anyone, ANYTHING that would give him a clue as to where he was. But the darkness was not helping matters at all. He raised his hands in the darkness, and he could barely see them.
Then, a sorrowful thrumming in the air, and he saw him. He was made of bad dreams, and the evil that seeped from his pores made him glow with malevolence. He was more of an ‘it’ than a ‘he’. But ‘it’ was in male, human form therefore, ‘it’ was a ‘he’. He was nothing like Reverend Taiwo had ever seen before, as he towered above him, easily eight feet tall, yet within him, he recognized the evil that stood before him. Long, muscular arms that ended in claws, bare, muscular chest covered in black, living tattoos that rode and pulsed beneath his skin. His sexless legs were like muscular pillars. He exhaled, and belched out nightmares. The air around him got poisoned and died. He smiled, revealing shark-like teeth.
“You are all alone, Reverend.” His voice was the voice of the Fallen and the Condemned. A million damned souls within his throat. “There is nothing you can do now. This won’t be like the last time.”
Reverend Taiwo’s heart skipped a beat, and he tried to quell the quaking in his voice as he thrust his defiance in front of him like a shield, sent it like a hammer before him. “You lie! I am never alone! God is with me!”
“Really?” Mockery in his voice. He waved his hand/claw, and Reverend Taiwo’s defiance dissipated like smoke. “Where is He?” He made a show of looking around, and Reverend Taiwo’s heart dropped. “Sorry. Not here.” He threw his head back and bellowed laughter into the darkness, and the Reverend heard the keening of the souls.
Reverend Taiwo thought he’d known fear earlier.
He discovered he’d been wrong.
He scream/prayed/shouted for help, as Amizel swiped at him, those hideous claws, meaning to tear him apart, to gore him out…
…and then something sucked him backwards, even as he felt a strange calm, and revelation bloomed within his mind so hot and so bright it scalded his heart. And then he felt a sharp, searing pain in his side as one of Amizel’s claws tore his shirt and skin and he was hurtled back through the tunnel of Time as Amizel’s scream of rage-
“HE IS MINE! YOU HEAR ME! MINE! YOU WILL NEVER REST! I WILL BREAK YOUR MIND, YOUR HEART, AND THEN I WILL WATCH AS YOUR LIFE SLOWLY TRICKLES AWAY!!!!”
…and he was in his corridor. Amizel’s scream echoed in his head and his heart. And then the terrible knowledge of what he had to do made him get up to his feet. Slowly, like a tired sixty-year old nearing the end of a marathon, he trudged to his parlour. Thankfully, that smell of death was dissipating, and all that was left in its place was anger at himself for ever doubting God and resignation at the fact that he was not the one to bring Amizel down this time.
He also realized that he finally knew Amizel’s name.
He took up his phone and called his Curate.