So I have a special announcement for the special commenters on this series. I know you all.
I am giving you a lifetime virtual gift card to read all my stories for free. No, I’m not kidding. If you have been stopping by to read this series and to leave comments, from episode 1 to 9, you have any book I write in this life for free, beginning with Fish Brain Games and Fish Brain Vows.
If you have not read them before, please drop a message in the comment box and I’ll send them to you ASAP. But of course, I’ll crosscheck your email address first. Make sure it’s the same email address you have used to comment on here.
This is my way of saying thank you for sticking with me. I wish I could do this for everyone but I can’t, even though I totally appreciate every comment that is written on this platform.
However, you guys are special because you stuck by this when everyone else zapped.
“Okay, that had to be one of the goriest things I have seen in recent times.”
Desire put the jeep she was driving to a stop the moment she and Sefia came close to the scene of Tony’s death. She parked a good distance away, on the opposite lane.
“Did you do it?” Sefia asked when cars began to stop at the crash scene. Her plain face was marked with an unsightly frown.
“Did I do what?” Desire responded. “Kill Tony? Babe, you and I have been in this car…”
“You know what I’m talking about! Did you do it?!”
“I did not,” Desire replied without interest and turned on the radio.
“Well, the whole thing is a bust now,” Sefia pointed out. “Tony’s dead and my sorry ass is fried. Captain will kill me for sure. He’ll probably ask you to do it.”
“Then I suggest you find some hole to bury yourself in or better still, stick to the plan. If I recall, you have Tony’s and Tina’s and even Richie’s numbers. And if I guess right, you have Moses’ too. All you need is Hamza’s. And I have it and I’m going to tell you…”
“Because you want that money and you should get it and disappear and never come back.”
Sefia was silent.
“Wasn’t that the plan? You didn’t care about what you were asked to retrieve or you would have done it a long time ago. You wanted the money the whole time. And you can still get it and leave.”
“And why do you care?”
“Because I do, baby.” Desire winked but Sefia lifted her elbow and smashed it into her face, breaking her nose.
“BITCH!” Desire screamed and held her nose.
Sefia unclipped her seatbelt, got off her seat, climbed over Desire and began sending blows into her in bursting rage. Her legendary bloodlust had seized her from nowhere and nothing was going to bring a halt to its insanity. She locked Desire between her thighs and was squeezing tighter with each blow until she heard the recognizable sound of the safety of a gun. She froze a fist midway and stared into Desire’s bleeding face as she felt the muzzle of a gun travelling up her bare stomach and coming to rest under her left breast just above her heart.
“Get off me,” Desire mouthed before she spat out blood on Sefia’s face. Still lost in her beast mode, Sefia moved away and took back her seat, wiping her face.
“Perfect timing,” Desire hissed. “Here comes Hamza.”
Sefia swore something as she saw Hamza marching toward the jeep. He slammed his fists on the hood.
“Get out of the car, Nafi! I know it’s you in there!” he shouted.
“Is there a towel in this damn car?” Desire asked, trying to control the rush of blood coming from her broken nose.
“Just get out and answer your brother. He’s lost his mind.”
“Give me your t-shirt.” Desire pointed the gun at Sefia.
“Nafisa!” Hamza shouted again, now kicking her door.
“Your t-shirt, Sefi.”
Sefia took off her t-shirt and threw it at Desire who put it over her face. She opened her door and stepped down, making no move to hide the gun in her hand.
“I need answers, Nafi!” Hamza demanded, spreading wide his hands. “Nothing makes sense to me anymore!”
“Hamza, calm down.”
“I am not calming any down! Who do you work for?! How did you know all those things you told me?! Who is killing all my friends?! What is going on, Nafisa?! I want to know!”
“Hamza, please…” Desire muttered under the t-shirt on her face. “This is not the place to talk about this.”
“Tina was murdered in her bed!” he paced around in an erratic manner. “Richie was rammed into by a jeep and now, Tony? How is my own death going to be?! I’ll be shot? Drowned? Suffocated? How will I die?!”
“Hamza, calm down….”
“Stop telling me to calm down and give me tangible answers!” He stopped pacing and stared at Desire’s hand. “Is that the gun they’ll use to kill me?!”
“No one’s killing you.”
“Wh-what’s that on your face?” He stepped towards her and yanked the t-shirt off her face. “I want to ask but I don’t even care anymore.” He cackled in a sad tone and pointed into her face.
“You…I don’t know you. I never did. You’re dead to me! You’re dead! And everyone else is!”
“I’m so sorry, Hamza.”
He shook his head. “What on earth happened to you? Who screwed you up like this?”
Desire’s voice went low. “Hamza, you’re rambling senselessly. Go home and rest. I’ll meet you in a bit. And I’m sorry for your loss…”
“Nothing makes sense.”
Hamza flung the t-shirt to the ground and walked off. Desire stood and watched him cross the highway before she turned back to the vehicle. She found Sefia behind the wheel.
“Get in,” Sefia ordered.
Desire went round the vehicle and got into the passenger’s side. “Where are we going?”
“For a ride.”
Sefia started the SUV, swung into the road and drove in the direction of Tony’s uncle’s home.
“I should tell you some things about how to get that money or you’re dead the moment you touch it,” Desire began to say but Sefia swerved the vehicle into an unmarked opening by the road.
“Where are we going, Sefi?” Desire asked but Sefia was silent, driving straight into the darkness, clearing bushes in her path as she handled the steering like one on cheap high. After a minute or two of wild driving, the vehicle finally came to a blinding halt after it smashed into a tree.
Everything went silent.
Suddenly, the security alarm began blaring, the windshield wipers went into a mad dance and the interior lights flickered on and off. Sefia released the trapped air in her inflated airbag, unclipped her seatbelt and looked at Desire whose head was rested on her shrinking airbag, staring back at her with unreadable eyes.
“You brought me out here to kill me?”
“Get down!” Sefia instructed and stepped down from the jeep.
Desire remained inside until Sefia found her way to the passenger’s door and opened it. She dragged her out and shoved her gun in her face. It was then Desire realized she had lost the gun she had earlier.
“Are you serious?” she muttered and lowered her head to sputter out a mouthful of blood on the ground before her. “I feel like shit, Sefi.”
“What poison did you give my mother? Get up!”
Desire laughed, wiping her mouth as she raised her body to face Sefia. “You really want to kill me out here where no one would find me? Come on, Sefi, give me some honor and do it in the open.”
“Shut up, you ignorant shit! You screwed up my job and put a noose around my neck!”
“But I warned you, Sefia!” Desire screamed back. “I told you that I was going to screw you up unless you spared Hamza!”
“Well, he’s still alive, isn’t he?!”
“Because I didn’t give you enough time to get to him!”
“His turn was coming if you hadn’t botched it by killing Richie and Tony! I still planned to get to him!”
“I begged you.”
“I was ordered!”
“He is my brother, Sefia! My brother!”
“And bitch, you think I care?!”
Sefia pressed the gun to Desire’s broken nose. Desire moved back a little and saw in Sefia’s eyes that she wasn’t playing. She could feel Sefia’s savagery rising, evil dancing in her eyes again as she darkened the air around her.
Desire’s instinct kicked in and she told herself that she had to gain control, seeing that Sefia had completely lost touch with her humanity. As long as the demon in her hungered for more blood, she was going to feed it and it wouldn’t matter who she was going to forfeit to satisfy its lust.
“Sefia,” Desire called gently, observing carefully the shivering hand that held the gun. What she saw in her friend was something more lethal than murderous rage. It was agony and of a different kind. She too had been in that place where all the bad had flooded in all at once and she remembered how it felt like poisoned darts piercing her from a million directions.
“I was ordered.” Sefia repeated and looked at Desire impassively as she slowly let her hand down. “And I… I couldn’t say no. I could have but I didn’t. You didn’t. None of us did. We just obeyed like soldiers…like zombies… losing our identities the moment we became Captain’s minions with our strange, little obsessions. Boys and girls with twisted lusts and deranged minds… and sometimes I wonder what life would have been for me if I had not met him.”
“You can’t think that way, Sefi.”
Sefia opened her mouth to laugh but she made no sound. “I would have been a slut on the streets of Lagos, taking everything shoved into my face…”
She cocked her head to one side and a thought briefly crossed her eyes. “Or I would have been a mother, yeah? A bad one, maybe. But I’m an assassin.” She smiled depressingly. “Nice ring to it but it’s not like in the movies, Nafisa. There’s no novelty in murder, no power…”
“Speak for yourself.”
“Power belongs to the living, not to people like us. We are dead; that’s what we are. We die every time we kill. Then we live to die again and again and again. Why? Because his fucking lordship says we can never die. And I didn’t get it at first but now I do, sweetie. What is dead cannot die again. He tells us, ‘you are larger than life and the world of mortals has to bow at your feet.’ What does that even mean? All I see is myself bowing to his every impulse! This is clearly a man who doesn’t give a shit about me as long as he keeps me, controls me and destroys me! And when he destroys me, he turns around and becomes my saviour and constant provider so that I eventually cannot survive without him! He makes me, you, all of us feel like he is larger than life but his cross is always turned upside down! And we bear it all on our shoulders—dead men’s weights—just because we cannot defy him!”
Desire’s eyes were almost stirred to tears but Sefia’s were dry and lifeless as she slowly lifted the gun to Desire’s face again.
“Captain says never kill your partner but today… I’m going to defy him.”
“Sefi, don’t do it.” Desire moved backwards.
“I’m sorry, I can’t stop myself. This is what I’ve become. Do you have any last thoughts?”
“I don’t want to die,” Desire murmured.
“Any last thoughts, Nafisa? Didn’t this short stay on earth mean anything to you? Didn’t I mean anything? That’s what I want to hear.”
“You know I love you, Sefia!” Desire said, fear finding its way into her. “I have always loved you from the beginning. When those men did terrible things to us, I was there! When you got tired so many times and wanted to end it, it was me who made you stay! And your mom…I didn’t poison her. I gave her water,” she revealed with a little laugh.
“I can’t think of doing anything to her because I love you, Sefia! As a lover, as a friend, as a sister, I love you!”
Sefia nodded. “That’s all I needed to hear. And my mom is dead, by the way. I helped her out with a pillow this morning. Do me a favor, will you? Come closer.”
“Sefi, please don’t do this! I’ve been the only one real in your life! Even when you left me and went after all those guys I still kept it real. I don’t want to die, Sefi! Please don’t kill me!”
Sefia reached out her free hand while the other still held the gun, and caressed Desire’s cheek gently. “The face of an angel that bears the evilest of hearts.” She wiped Desire’s tears with her thumb and drew her close.
“I love you, Sefi,” Desire whispered and sniffled.
“I don’t know what love is but it sure felt good and it had to be the only thing that kept me going in this life. But now, love has to die too. Close your eyes.”
“Hush. It’s okay. Close your eyes.”
Desire struggled with her eyelids as she fought to keep them down. When she finally did, she kept them shut, squeezing tightly.
“Now put your hand around my waist. Come on, hold me.”
Desire held her with a shaky hand and shuddered in tears.
“That’s better. I’ll never forget this day,” she whispered. “Goodbye, Nafisa.”
Sefia released the safety of the gun, and in one twist of fate, put the muzzle to her own temple and shot herself.
The sound of the shot echoed into the night and sleeping birds responded to its disturbance.
Still pressing her eyelids together, Desire kept them shut when she felt Sefia slipping from her grip very fast. She held her tight and pulled her closer, screaming agonizingly until she felt her lungs give out and they both fell to the ground.
Lanre could smell a rat. It wasn’t a big one but it was big enough to stink really bad. Someone from the Cabal had infiltrated his territory to obtain information. But what they were looking for was not with him; it was with his closest friend, Ishi.
Ishi would have been the most unlikely person to hold anything the Cabal needed if he had not been chummy with the late Doctor B. Both of them had formed a strong bond over three years. Ishi was a pastor and not just any type. It was said he had the gift to calm the most troubled of souls. Doctor B was one of such souls and on Ishi he had cast the bulk of his burdens. In addition, both men loved computers. Doctor B was a genius with computer programs and Ishi was his protégé who had studied architecture but fallen in love with complicated computer codes. Therefore, it was only normal to believe that Ishi would have knowledge of what Doctor B had hidden from Captain. But for the first time in his profession, Lanre had been blind to see the evidence right in front of him. And he would have remained in his ignorance had a certain package not turned up in his hand three days after Tony’s death. Before then, Hamza had been taken to safety, Moses had gone missing, Sefia had turned up dead and Desire was captured by the Cabal.
When the package arrived at The Refuge where Lanre and Ishi worked, Lanre was at the reception to receive it. It was addressed to Ishi and was in the hands of the front desk girl, Faith, but Lanre took it from her. His initial intention was to pass it on to Ishi but the familiar handwriting on the box put a halt to his plans. He took it to his office and carefully opened it to take out a folder containing the late Doctor B’s will and testament and an old Blackberry Bold 1 that had no battery or keypad. Lanre put aside the phone first and opened the folder to go through Doctor B’s will thoroughly. It came as no surprise to discover that Doctor B had willed his entire fortune to Ishi. Their relationship had been like one of father and son; not even Tony, the nephew got anything.
As Lanre put the items back into the box, he pondered over whether to let Ishi have the box or not because Ishi had no idea Doctor B had passed; he believed the man had taken one of his extended trips out of the country. Lanre come to a decision not to let him have the box yet. Instead, he repackaged it and had one of his boys send the will alone to Ishi’s grandfather, Igwe, who was in a better position to break the news of the man’s death to Ishi. Lanre kept the phone to himself and told the secretary to keep mum about the package, claiming it was some crazy girl at church who had sent Ishi a pair of her used underwear. Faith was aware of Pastor Ishi’s crazy female fans.
The arrival of the package had given the saga a new twist for Lanre. He began to watch his best friend with alert eyes and before long, the rat sent in by the Cabal had started to smell. Unlike moles who were trained and knowledgeable emissaries, rats were always small, inexperienced in espionage and had a lot to lose. Some of them had a reputation that could not be soiled or a lover or close relative that could not be lost, or even a desperate need that had to be met. There was always something to leverage, and in exchange they gave out valuable information.
Sitting in a management meeting at The Refuge, Lanre, in searching for the rat, studied every single person in the conference room—the bored woman who would rather be reading a juicy story off the web, the itchy pants guy who looked like he had contacted some venereal disease, the sullen-face lady who had been staring fixatedly at her phone like she was expecting a call or text from a lover, the poker-faced pastor who was well…poker-faced, the eager-to-please new guy who looked like a first year university student attending his first lecture, Lanre’s other best friend, Kyenpia who was struggling to contain a maddening morning sickness and Ishi who was the only one talking.
All of them were clean; none of them was the rat.
But Lanre had missed out someone and as if cued, she walked in with an apologetic smile, interrupting Ishi’s speech.
“I’m sorry, Pastor Ishi, for the constant coming in and going out. Ma binu. I think I ate too much beans yesterday.”
Nothing she said was funny but because she was Faith, the constantly-joking front desk girl who amused everyone during work hours, all the people in the conference room burst out laughing, Lanre being the loudest. He and Faith were alike in some way. They made everyone laugh but that was only to hide their true identities.
Faith was the rat he had perceived the whole time. The stripper-turned-sister had a lot to lose. Her four year old son and a pleasant, old father were her world. If the Cabal threatened to have either of them murdered, Faith would bend to their wishes.
Lanre watched her sit beside Ishi. He wondered if her trips to the restroom were in the direction of Ishi’s office as she searched for important information.
Tapping his feet to a tune in his head, Lanre browsed over the board table again and itchy-pants, sullen and poker-faced, pregnant, bored, eager-to-please and talker were back to business as usual.
Only the rat was smiling to herself while discreetly doing something on her phone. To the tune playing in his head, Lanre added a sinister laugh.
He had the right medicine to sniff a rat out.