Read the first episode of The Immortals’ Code
Judith couldn’t sleep. She turned restlessly in bed, feeling a familiar ache in her lower back with each movement. She wasn’t so sure she knew why she was restless. It wasn’t Luke’s bed; she was quite used to it by now. And it also wasn’t the fact that he didn’t use any type of cooling system in his room either, since the weather was quite breezy. Maybe it was the noise coming from the basketball court below where her son, Ramsey, was playing a one-on-one game with his childhood friend, Desire, whom he had not seen in a while. They were screaming at the top of their lungs, shattering the quiet of the house, and Judith was sure they were going to have Luke ordering them to be silent soon.
Still it wasn’t their noise that made her restless. She sat up and swung her feet to the floor, feeling with slight pleasure the cold marble beneath her. She ran her fingers through her hair as she walked out to the balcony. Pulling a chair to sit, her eyes spanned the entire compound below her. There was nothing interesting to see except Luke who was seated in his garden, having a serious discussion with one of his twin sons, oddly unperturbed by the noise coming from the basketball court beside them.
Judith turned away from them and fixed her eyes on Ramsey and Desire again. The two were an inseparable pair and would have made a perfect couple if Desire had a name worth marrying into and was not a lesbian. The girl came from a very humble background and was never going to be accepted into their circle. But Ramsey on the other hand, gave Judith reason to be concerned. She had heard the grubby rumors about him and his fellow soldiers but when she confronted him, he denied it and to prove himself guiltless, showed her a video of him in a threesome with two girls, evidence that he was as straight as a dice.
“Bisexual is the word,” Luke had told her with severe irritation when the rumors also got to his ears. “And I didn’t raise my son to be that.”
“Maybe joining the army was never good for him,” Judith had replied.
“His grandfather was in the army. I am in the army. His brother is in the army. And none of us sleep with men. Why would Ramsey bring me such disgrace?”
“It’s just a rumor, Luke. And he’s said it’s not true.”
“Don’t be a typical mother, Ju. You never were. So don’t be one now. Your son is a homosexual and you have to find a way to get it out of him or God help me, I will do it myself!”
Judith shivered as she remembered the threat. She knew Luke wasn’t kidding. She crossed her legs and brought her thoughts back to the present. The basketball game was still on. Desire presently had the ball in her possession and Ramsey was using every trick to get it off her hands but he was unsuccessful. Judith didn’t know anything about the game but from what she had seen, Desire was a better player. Ramsey, tired of playing by the rules, moved in behind Desire and grabbed her breasts in an attempt to make her give up the ball but she laughed.
“Didn’t they tell you?” she spoke breathlessly, bouncing the ball.
“Tell me what?” Ramsey asked, refusing to let go of her breasts.
“I’m numb to your kind.” She lifted her hands, threw the ball high and made the basket. Ramsey dropped his hands but she thrust her butt outwards, grabbed his right hand, lifted him off the floor and landed him hard on his back over the ground beneath them.
“Fuck!” he screamed but his face held a hidden smile. “This girl ya wicked!”
“Touch my boobs next time and you’re dead.”
She pulled him up and he held his waist in pain. She stuck out her tongue as he put his arm round her shoulder for support.
“You broke my back o! Walai. I need serious massage.”
“Desire!” Judith called out and both of them looked up the balcony.
“Evening Aunty Judith!” Desire greeted.
“A word in the kitchen.”
Desire nodded and with Ramsey, walked into the house. Judith found her way downstairs and dismissed the chef and maid she found in the kitchen and helped herself with a glass of pineapple juice. A few seconds later, Desire and Ramsey walked in through the backdoor, both sweating. Ramsey went straight for Judith’s juice and got no objections while Desire bent over the sink to wash her face. Judith waited patiently and when Desire was done, she had the girl stand before her.
“Your courtesy visit to Sugar’s is going to come to an end today.”
Ramsey, who was dipping his hand into a pot of stew he found on the stove, turned to both women with a raised brow. “Just like that?” he asked.
Judith looked at her son with a stern face. “Stop putting your hand in that pot. You’ll spoil the stew.”
“But seriously, Mom, just like that?”
“I don’t see how this concerns you.”
“I’ve grown to like the Sugar woman. She’s Captain’s fiancée. And she’s nice to me too. The last time she was in Italy, she got me these pair of shoes and a nice bottle of vintage wine.”
Judith faced Desire again. “You know what to do.”
Desire nodded and walked out of the kitchen. Ramsey took the whole of pot of stew and found a loaf of whole wheat bread and placed both of them on the kitchen table before him. Standing, he began an early supper.
“When are you going to bring a girl home?” Judith asked.
“I’m not ready to get married,” Ramsey replied with a full mouth.
“Why? Your brothers have taken their lives seriously. David has a wife, Leonel has a baby on the way…”
“They are four years older than me. When Leo was my age, he was jumping from one girl to another and everyone thought it was cute.”
“You need a female in your life, Ramsey,” Judith stressed, making sure the meaning in her tone was not missed.
“Don’t be a cliché, Mom, and don’t be a pain in my ass.”
“I’m not being a pain in your ass; I’m only asking you to become responsible and do the right thing!”
“The right thing?” Ramsey almost laughed. “You just sent a girl you personally raised up to be a lesbian to go and kill a woman who is sleeping with the father of your child! And you’re telling me about doing right?!”
“I never told anyone to kill anyone…”
“Spare me the bullshit, Mom. I’ve been around here long enough to have downloaded your secret language. Courtesy visit, my ass. You just sent her to cap the woman! By morning, every the news media will go crazy with the breaking news! They’ll probably find her dead in a car accident or a domestic fire or something! I know how it’s done! I have done it myself!”
Judith shuddered. This was not the life she wanted for her son, not what she imagined he would become. The first day the doctor placed his little frame in her arms, every evil in her was momentarily subdued and she began to think noble things for him. He was to be brought up in the fear of God, so she put him in a Catholic primary school; she wanted him to be a man of honor, therefore she never objected when his father put him in a military secondary school; she saw him becoming his grandfather who once was Head of State, hence she was okay with him joining the Nigerian Defence Academy. She had never imagined him gay or becoming a murderer or even admitting to the fact, with all confidence that he had murdered before.
Judith was full of emotions as she thought of how much she had failed as a mother. If she remembered how to cry she would have broken down but her soul was long charred to nothingness, leaving a gaping hole in her that was filled with the dark pages of her heart which were covered in soot of evil intent. It was a mass graveyard of the souls that had stepped on her toes and the little people she had in turn stepped on to get to the top. Throughout her life she had executed her plans of revenge and unreserved impiety on them but had left them buried deep in her. She made sure their graves in reality replicated the ones in her heart; no one was allowed to remain alive. But Judith had never, in her wildest madness, imagined that her son would take her path in any form. She had done everything to protect him.
Walking to him, she took a few breaths and warded off every emotion as she lowered her tone till she was almost inaudible. “You have to get a hold of yourself, young man, and stop running your mouth mindlessly. You have done nothing. You have hurt no one other than the duties you have done in service for your country. Understood?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ramsey replied, chewing in her face.
“And you must do everything in your power to bring a girl home to Captain or the consequences will be dire.”
Ramsey stopped chewing and his face turned stony. “He’s pushing you into this.”
“It is not rocket science getting a girl into your life, Ramsey,” she pleaded. “Get a girl, get her pregnant, give her a ring…”
“I will not be bullied.”
Judith held his face and studied every feature on it as if searching for an answer to something. “Please, don’t upset your father. He cannot accept you any other way…”
“I am not gay, Mom.” He pushed her hands away.
“But I understand you, and…I have had my own share of females on my bed but it was necessary.”
“And Captain knew, right? He probably even made you do it.”
“Every affair was for a purpose. Like Desire’s…”
Ramsey smiled bitterly and shook his head. “You’re all hypocrites.”
“Do I find a good girl from a good family for you?”
Ramsey smiled again, picking the pot of stew and loaf of bread. “Do whatever. No woman that has come into this family was ever loved anyway.”
He walked out and his last statement sank in deeply into Judith and she felt a sharp pain in her waist.
* * * * * * * * * *
It was a plain space. Large and airy but plain. It occupied the last floor of a four-storey building that held a fast food joint, a fitness centre and a unisex salon on the first three floors. The fourth floor was supposed to be a hall of some sort but the owner had leased it out to the present occupant who turned it into a personal space. It presently held a low king-sized bed of cast-iron on one side with a movable clothes rack beside it, a kitchenette that was rarely used on the opposite end, a round glass cubicle covered with a black shower curtain that held a toilet and a shower space, two split air conditioners, and lastly a wide window that was shut tight and gave the appearance of not having been opened in a long time.
Leonel stood by the door and surveyed the whole room from the plain ceiling to the littered kitchen cabinet and dusty tiled floor below. There arose smells that hit his nostrils the moment his feet stepped in. The foul smell of vomit, faint waft of female cologne, cigarette smoke, alcohol and finally, the smell of death. And it was that last stench that drew his eyes to the floor, to the base of a table he was just noticing because it had been standing small, low and obscured, almost covered by the movable clothes rack and a huge duvet partially strewn on the bed. The position of the table was odd because it looked like it had been moved there recently for he could see evidence of its original position, just beside the kitchenette where a single cast-iron chair still stood as if waiting for its return.
Leonel shifted his eyes back to the table and came across remains of some sparsely consumed food. He took a few more steps in and so did the person with him, his long-time friend, Lanre, a trained special agent working for a subversive government intelligence agency. Unlike Leonel, Lanre’s skilled eyes had noticed far more things in the room, but any information both of them gathered was to be kept between them for the time being.
Back to the foot of the table, as both men discovered, sprawled the lifeless body of an overweight woman in her late forties, shot in the head, it seemed, by her own hand which still held a 9mm Beretta. Lanre could tell immediately from her weave, jewelry and lingerie piece that she had been a woman of means. He also gathered that there wasn’t any other external injury on her apart from her splattered brain.
Avoiding a pool of vomit on the floor, he took calculated steps towards her for a closer look of her facial features and when he did, he found himself looking at a very famous woman from a family that once had political clout in the country. Her name was Alhaja Rahseeda Bakare but was commonly known as Sugar. The rumors about her began to flood Lanre’s head. Word had it that she dabbled in all sorts of dirty businesses, cocaine smuggling being the top on the list. It was also said she had a group of friends and together they enjoyed sexually assaulting very wealthy men whom they later blackmailed in exchange for huge sums of cash. It was also an open secret that she was bi-sexual but leaned more on the lesbian side and enjoyed hunting for younger females whom she turned into her sex slaves. But widely known, too, was the fact that she was engaged and soon to be married to Luke Ogar Igwe, also known as Captain, the most influential soldier in the army. He was one of the few men that wielded almost absolute authority in affairs of state and came from one of the most powerful families in the country. Sugar’s union with him was to be a marriage of great political implications. So many important careers and lives depended on their being together.
Lanre cocked his head to one side to get a proper look at her and wondered what had drawn her to a place that was more or less a dump and was far from home. His sharp eyes shifted to the clothes on the stand and he noticed they hadn’t been touched in a while and belonged to someone a lot thinner than Sugar. Also from the fashion sense of the person, he gathered that she was far younger too.
A thin film of dust covered the clothes and most surfaces in the room. Clearly the owner of the place rarely stayed home. There were hardly any other personal belongings and he also noticed the total absence of a dressing table or shoes or the other little things that could be found in a typical lady’s bedroom. The bed, however, had a clean bedspread with a couple of fluffy pillows, a glass ash tray with cigarette butts and an array of sex toys. Also, he saw a good amount of dollar bills scattered about.
He took more steps in but kept closely beside Leonel. A lot of questions had been bugging on his mind and as he opened his mouth to release one of them, a slight movement in the direction of the shower cubicle caught his attention. Leonel also turned and before they could both react, a girl stepped out of the cubicle, slowly emerging from behind the black shower curtain that covered the entire shower space. She was wearing red stilettos, adorned in glittering silver jewelry with red stones and squeezed into black, racy lingerie that matched Sugar’s to the last stitch. Lanre tried his best to decipher the girl’s age but he found his brain doing numbers that ranged from 22 to 30. She was fair complexioned and beautiful but she was also drained of color and of heart. Her eyes were dead and baleful and Lanre almost shivered looking into them. He knew she was Sugar’s murderer even though it seemed she had not pulled the trigger. Working on the job for twelve years had kept her under his radar. He had been told she was one of the dangerous ones.
“Don’t come near me,” the girl told Lanre with firmness in her tone, almost commanding. She turned to Leonel. “Leo, do you have a tracking device on me or something? You’re not quite the person I was expecting.”
“I don’t need to be invited, Dee,” Leonel replied. “And I don’t give a shit about what happened here either. You and I need to talk.”
“You know her?” Lanre asked. She looked at him, giving him the same blank look he was giving her. They knew each other well but it was best for both of them to pretend to Leonel.
“Her name’s Desire.” Leonel fixed his gaze into her eyes. “But long ago she was called Nafisa.”
“Why are you here?” Desire asked.
“Hamza’s life is in serious danger.”
At the mention of Hamza, Desire looked at Leonel deeply and life began to return to her eyes. Color filled her cheeks and after an uneasy stretch of silence, she pulled out a red, silky robe from behind the shower curtain and walked past both men and out the door.