“There was a mishap along East- West road this morning. Nobody knew exactly how it happened, but a bus filled with student coming back from a church programme in Port Harcourt skidded off the tarmac and ran into a tree in the nearby bushes. One student died on the spot, the others have been rushed to a nearby hospital. It is suspected that the driver must have dozed from exhaustion”.
This was the news broadcast over the car stereo even as the driver drove the SUV into the hospital’s parking lot that afternoon. Valentine and Nkasi rushed into the crowded OPD. They were led to the two wards holding the students. Few of them had sustained very minor injuries. Others were just suffering from shock.
Valentine had asked to see the dead student. He was taken to a separate section- a morgue. There he saw him- the same student that was typing away on his cell phone, the one that didn’t fall when the Pastor wielded his powers- he lay there without physical injury. But he was dead.
It was about 3:00 p.m and the driver was racing the SUV back towards Port Harcourt. They had to reach the site of the accident and access it. Moreover, Valentine hoped to recover the personal effects of the victims. The sun was still hot when they located the bus in the bushes. The damage was not severe as told on the radio. Apart from the wind-screen which was shattered by an over hanging tree trunk, there were just few scratches on the body. They opened the doors and started searching for belongings. Bags and shoes lay tossed. Valentine went to the front passenger side and opened the door. There was a phone tugged at the fold between the seat and the back rest. Valentine took the phone and started scrolling through. He went to the picture folder and saw pictures of the Pastor in different poses of healing. There were also those of the other students being made-up for the programme.
Valentine was confused. He scrolled to the message folder and was shocked to read a string of smses sent to a certain number all about the pastor’s pretentious healing.
Just then, revelations hit him. The one student sat on the front seat. He was the enemy pastor was referring to. He was the mole- the reason why Pastor Kay asked Valentine and Nkasi not to board the bus back. Maybe he was a student- journalist who came on to expose the pastor’s hypocrisy.
Somehow, Pastor Kay knew about his real intentions…and killed him.
It was 8:30 am and the masses were caught up in the usual Monday morning bustle.
The big news- stand at the city plaza was crowded with moped riders, free-thinkers and members of the general populace. They gathered to assess the tabloids for breaking news. Others, the ones that patronized the pay-to-read system had already paid their tokens to skim the pages. The vendors stood alert. Valentine strolled towards one of the news vending tables. Hidden behind his casual looks was a serious intent; an expectation.
Two weeks had passed- by silently. Two weeks since the accident had happened and his conscience was not condemning him any lesser. A fellow student had died and he felt like he had a hand in it. He knew the only way he could absolve himself from the guilt was to make sure that Pastor Kay is exposed. As he scanned through the papers, reading the bold news captions emblazoned on their various cover pages, he recalled how he had told the dreaded stories- when he eventually traced his way to the press outfit that employed the dead student- and how his narrative had elicited deep dread from the editorial board members. He could feel the goose bumps rise over the back of their necks as he told his tale, cashing- in on the small details. His story had corroborated the accounts of the dead student. At the end, he had deposited the phone he had picked from the scene of the accident as evidence and left.
“The hot gist will break-out, first thing Monday morning”, Mr Eddie Ireh, the editor-in-chief of Newsreel- one of the leading tabloids in the city of Uyo- had assured him.
As Valentine scanned the newspapers from table to table, he saw the captions.
“THE MIRACLE PEDDLER: Port-Harcourt based pastor that sells Fake Miracles exposed”.
He paid for a copy of the Newsreel and walked away feeling some satisfaction.
At last, he had avenged the student’s death. He had expunged the blood-guilt.
Anny Justin Udofia