Morann gazed at the gigantic figure of the elegant Newbury hotel, the venue of his latest assignment. Today, he would snuff the life out of someone in one of those rooms. He felt no trepidation or guilt. He was only doing his job, and he was good at it. It was the job that had won him the trust and respect of men like David Lindsay. He was an efficient and reliable assassin. He had never failed in any of his missions, and this one looked rather simple. He knew his success was due to his ability to use his instinct correctly. Over the years, he had mastered his body to sense and respond to sudden changes around him. He had come to rely on his intuition, and it had never failed him. He was an impatient assassin; he hated to waste time. Most times, he didn’t even bother to look at his victims just before striking. He identified them by the movement of their shadows. So good was Morann that he was nicknamed, “Snake” by Lindsay.
This morning, he was suavely dressed as usual; he could even pass for a corporate executive or a banker. He quickly put on his dark sunshades and leant back on the car seat, fantasising on the aftermath of this assignment; the pay check Lindsay would give him for eliminating his latest enemy. After a few minutes, he glanced at his watch and decided it was time to go. Quickly, he brought out his 45 colt pistol and loaded it. Then, he screwed the silencer and put the gun in his holster.
Ten minutes later, he was on the second floor, walking quietly along the corridor towards room 312. He stopped at the door and looked around. Sure that no one was watching, he pulled out the gun and checked the loading and the silencer. Satisfied that everything was in place, he knocked on the door. After three knocks, a voice answered faintly from inside.
“Hey, come in. The door is not locked.”
He opened the door and stepped in quietly with his gone held tightly and readily.
“Is that the room service?” the voice called from inside the bathroom. He could hear the sound of water splashing.
“No. I have a message for Mr Michael Oluwole.”
“Oh–.Then, you will have to wait there. I will join you very soon.”
“Are you Michael Oluwole?”
“Don’t worry about that, you’ve seen the right person. Can I have the message?”
“I insist on seeing Michael Oluwole.”
“Okay, I am Michael Oluwole, are you satisfied?”
Morann was confused for a while. The guy speaking from the bathroom sounded like the real guy. Yet he didn’t indicate clearly that he was Michael Oluwole. However, he was eager to get done with his assignment. Besides, it was worth the try. He was already inside the room and it would be dangerous if he left without eliminating this potential witness. Ready to hit his target, he moved towards the bathroom. He could see the man’s dull outline moving around the bathroom. He had finished bathing and was towelling slowly. This was the time, Morann could waste no more time. Any moment from now, he would open the door and see him. He stopped and raised his gun. He hated to see the faces of his victims, that was why he aimed by studying shadows. Certain that the target was directly behind the door, he aimed and shot through the door. The bullet pierced the door, just above the handle and smashed the victim’s head. He collapsed on the bathroom floor and died instantly. It was a perfect shot.
Convinced that his target had been eliminated, Morann opened the door to survey his kill. That was when his fears were confirmed, he had hit the wrong target.
Michael stood on the balcony, enjoying his view of the city of London. He could see a lot from the second floor where he stood because the street was on a hill. He wondered if Tunji had finished bathing. When Tunji went into the bathroom, he had used the opportunity to satisfy his urge to see the city. He was captivated by what he saw; London was a very beautiful city. What captivated Michael was the mixture of the grand, old houses, which are the hallmarks of ancient London, and the towering massive edifices that now dominated the modern part of the city. However, much of the ancient part was being turned over to developers who built modern, low cost estates. The past is fast disappearing, Michael thought with disappointment. Yesterday, he had just cashed the money and was about to enter the hotel when he ran into Tunji, Timi’s brother. He was just leaving the hotel in disappointment. They had collided and Tunji had muttered an apology, Michael discovered that he was not only a Nigerian, but also a Yoruba. Immediately, they got acquainted. However, Michael was struck by Tunji’s resemblance to his friend, Timi. He had to ask him if he was Timi’s brother. His guess was correct, Tunji was Timi’s immediate younger brother based in Paris. He explained to Michael that he had travelled to London to do some business. Realising that he could not go back to Paris because he had, more things to do, he decided to check into a hotel. On trying Newbury hotel, he realized he couldn’t afford it.
“Their bills are outrageous here.” he had lamented.
“Well, we can share my room for the night.” Michael had suggested.
Tunji was happy, he accepted the offer and slept overnight in Michael’s hotel room. The two men had gotten on well immediately and Michael had liked him. Tunji had a sense of humour that attracted him to people.
Funny how fate can replace a lost treasure, Michael thought. He had left his best friend in Nigeria, and here he was meeting his replica. Yesterday, he had converted the money from dollar to Euro. The money was in a briefcase in his wardrobe. Anyway, he trusted Tunji, that was why he told him to attend to the guy bring breakfast and receive any message on his behalf anytime he is not around.
He smiled dryly, holding on to the railing. Things were going on well for him now, he was already a millionaire. He knew he should be happy about his new fortune but he was not. He wondered how it would have been if Zainab were with him now, with all the money. His thoughts went to her, he wondered what she would be doing now, whether she would also be thinking of him. He thought of her in her matrimonial home, serving as wife to Mohammed Sule. He knew it wasn’t her fault. Circumstances and environment had just been unfair to her and there was nothing he she could do about it.
“Wherever she is now, may God protect her.” he muttered a prayer. Even as far apart as they were, he felt his soul was still with her.
Yes, he still loved her, and now, that love seemed to give him a new power and a new hope. Though baseless as the thought seemed, he felt she would still come back to him.
He glanced at his watch, it was already nine o’clock. He decided Tunji must have finished bathing by now. He left the balcony and strolled to his room.
When he entered, he found the room strangely silent. He wondered where Tunji had gone to.
“Tunji!” he called out.
was answered by the odd silence of the room. After calling him three more times, he became perturbed. He moved towards the bathroom and listened; he couldn’t hear any sound. Then, he moved to the door and opened it, with a creeping fear.
The sight that greeted him was appalling. Sprawled on the bathroom floor was Tunji’s lifeless body. His skull was smashed and his brain spilled on the floor.
“Oh my God!” Michael exclaimed softly in horror, fear gripping his heart.
Then, suddenly, he was grabbed from behind and a pair of strong hands went to his throat. His breathe was snuffed out and his neck got tighter. He felt himself losing consciousness as darkness shrouded him. Suddenly, he heard a loud sound. He felt his assailant’s hands leave his throat. The assailant staggered and fell on the floor dead, his brain spilled out on the floor.
Michael spun around and saw the last person he expected to see at that moment. There in front of him was Zainab. She had Morann’s gun in her shaking hands and there was an anxious look on her face.
“Zai—Zainab.” he exclaimed softly. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
Then, the gun dropped down from her hands and she ran to him. He grabbed her as she flew into his arms and held her tightly. Only in his arms could he believe she was real.
“Oh my God Michael, are you alright?” she asked, still dazed. She held tightly on to him feeling his arms around her, assured that he was still alive. He kissed her on the forehead.
“Oh babe, why do you have to come?” he muttered into her hair.
Zainab released him and looked into his eyes. “, I had to see you! I had to be with you. Separating from you was too painful to live with. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without the man I love. I ran away on the day I was to marry Mohammed.”
There were tears on her face, tears of relief, tears of joy at finding her love alive. She was shocked at how close he was to death and how close she had been to killing him.