NICHOLAS EPISODE THIRTEEN

THE MOVENPICK HOTEL

DUBAI

8 AM

23, NOVEMBER 2015

It was the longest eight hours of his life. Nicholas discovered he was not enjoying flying as much as he thought he would. He had flown locally, one or two hours was okay, but when you have to sit for eight hours you start having second thoughts. The plane landed with a little bump, taxied down the runway and came to stop. Travelling in first class had made the trip easier on him but he still was not looking forward to the return journey. He picked up his suit, nodded his greeting to the gentle man seated next to him and walked towards the exit.

Dubai was a beautiful city and he had read a lot about its tall buildings and artificial islands, he definitely had plans to visit the place at some point. One of CyberCorp’s major clients operated out of the United Arab Emirates with their headquarters in Dubai, they had heard about the death of CyberCorp’s C.E.O., attended the burial ceremony and returned to the UAE without a word. A few months later, news got to CyberCorp that they were discussing with a rival company. They had done their best to reassure CyberCorp that they would honour their contract, which really was not something to celebrate because the contract ran out in nine months. Everybody had agreed that the Arabs needed to be reassured that CyberCorp was in good hands and there was no need to switch contractors. Nicholas as the head of the company led the delegation. The President; Faruk, the Vice President –  International, the Vice President – HR and the Vice President – PR, were all with him and for some reason that Nicholas did not understand, they all brought their assistants.

Thirty minutes after the plane landed, Nicholas and his entourage were in cars on their way to the MOVENPICK hotel. It was going to be a busy day and Nicholas had tried his best to prepare for it. The ride from the International airport to the hotel lasted for ten minutes. Nicholas followed the others as they confirmed their reservations and moved to their rooms.

Nicholas looked at his watch, he had only an hour to prepare before he had to be at the Jumeirah for the meeting. He took his clothes off as fast as he could, he had travelled in a suit because his mother had insisted on it, it was good for his appearance she had said.

Forty-five minutes later he was sitting in the Jumeirah with other officials of CyberCorp. It was a nice board room suited for the kind of meeting they were about to have. Nicholas sat at the head of the table, he was the one who conveyed the meeting. He reviewed his notes. The plan was to prove to the Arabs that CyberCorp was still the company to deal with in their industry and try not to bring up the late C.E.O. or Nicholas’ credentials or lack of them.

Nicholas jumped to his feet as the door opened, he told himself he had no reason to be nervous, but he could not help it, he was nervous. It was his first meeting with any major client and his first outside the country.

“You must be Mister Akorede…” The first Arab walked straight to him as he entered. He pronounced the name smoothly to Nicholas’ surprise.

“Yes I am, you are welcome Sheikh Al Mubarak.” He had read all their bios and he recognized all their faces. “We are very glad you agreed to meet with us this early.”

Three other men walked in and shook hands with Nicholas and his entourage.

“Don’t mention Mr. Nicholas, can I call you that?” he did not wait for an answer and continued. “We are just glad you have come here, it shows how much you value us as clients.And we are sorry we are meeting so soon after your flight, this is the only free period we have for a few weeks.”

“It is not a problem. We do value you as clients, and we value you as a person Sheikh.” Faruk said, speaking for the first time. “And every one of you.” He said nodding at the three men who came with Al Mubarak, they returned the nod.

“Thank you Faruk.” They were obviously knew each other. “Like we said over the phone, we want to assure you that we are going to see out our contract with you, we have no plans of getting off that contract.”

“Sheikh Al Mubarak, we are very grateful for that assurance. We trust you, you are an honourable man, we know you will not break your word or the contract. We are here to assure you that we are still as capable as we were a year ago. In fact we are here with a few documents to show you this. Mr. Faruk?”

“Wait Mr. Nicholas.” Al Mubarak said, raising his hands to stop Faruk from giving him the documents. “Like I said, we are not breaking off this contract, we do not need to see any document for that. Did you travel all this way to show us these documents?” he looked at Nicholas quizzically.

“Well, sir…” Nicholas started.

“Well Sheikh…” Faruk cut in “… our C.E.O. here in agreement with the myself and the VPs of course, think maybe you need some reassurance so you can trust us with another contract when this one expires.”

Nicholas looked at Faruk, he had not expected him to cut in like that. It was worse because the Arabs looked confused.

“Sheikh Al Mubarak, we understand it is not time to negotiate another contract given that the current one still has a few months to go, but we believe it would be a sign of faith in our joint future if we can agree on a pre-contract.”

Silence fell on the room and Nicholas feared the worst. They had planned to try and negotiate a pre-contract agreement but they planned to introduce the idea subtly after they had reached a level of understanding. Al Mubarak, pulled his closed brief case towards him, he glanced at his subordinates, Nicholas knew he had to do something.

“Sheikh Al Mubarak, can I be honest with you?” Nicholas asked as sincerely as he could, moving forward in his chair. Al Mubarak nodded. “We understand that some of our clients may be disturbed by the death of out late C.E.O. and many may not trust CyberCorp the way they did a few months ago. Sir, you are one of our biggest clients, the last thing we want is one of our biggest clients doubting our ability to deliver.” Nicholas rested his back on the chair, not looking away from Al Mubarak.

“Mister Nicholas, that was quite a rousing speech.” Al Mubarak said with a chuckle.  It seemed to ease the tension in the room. “We believe in CyberCorp, we do not doubt your ability as a company. I admit we have had our fears but it looks like you might make a good CyberCorp C.E.O. yet.”

“Thank you Sheikh…” Nicholas started with a smile.

“Thanks for your trust in us and our head.” Faruk cut in again, Nicholas was getting annoyed. “Who would know he has no experience working in a company the size of CyberCorp, talk more of running one.”

Al Mubarak and Nicholas opened their mouths at the same time, it was almost as if it was planned. Faruk looked on as if he had not said anything important. It was a fact they had promised to not talk about with any of their clients. A fresh out of school C.E.O. did not inspire confidence in tough, experienced men who had been at their work for years.

“As I was saying sir, we are grateful for your confidence…” Nicholas tried to save the situation, but he was cut off, this time by Al Mubarak.

“Mr. Akorede, it was nice of you to come here, we will be leaving now.”

Nicholas watched the Arab and his silent followers leave without another word, he looked at Faruk, he was staring fixedly at a file. They had come to save a big account, if Arabs were gossips, they probably just lost more than one.

HOSPITAL

ILORIN

6 PM

24, NOVEMBER 2015

Adam waited in the restaurant. It was not a restaurant, it was what people called a canteen, a place where you ate with your eyes closed. Closed because what your eyes saw could make you throw up the food you had eaten. He had been waiting for three hours, waiting for the hospital to change shifts. He had been in and out of the hospital on three occasions and had learnt when the best time was to visit. The hospital was a private one, it was new and quite standard. It looked like a kind of place you would put your mother if you had a lot of money to spend and did not want her in the hustle or bustle of the city. It was situated in the outskirts of the town, Adam had followed the address and direction given to him by his Chinese loving informant.

He had come at different times of the day trying to understand how the hospital worked and the the people who worked there. The receptionist who worked the night shift had liked him on sight, it had been easy to get her to talk to him. He did not mention the fact that he was a police officer or what his mission was, but had convinced her with one of his many stories; he was getting really good at cooking up stories. She had been reluctant when he started asking about other visitors and patients, but Adam’s charm had overcome her weak resolve to do her job rightly. He had even confirmed that a girl matching Kemi’s description was admitted in the hospital. He also learnt from her that she was no longer in a coma.

He had decided to wait till she took over the desk before he made his approach to the hospital again, he intended to see if it was Kemi who was hospitalized. It was few minutes after six when the tight-lipped woman who ran the day shift left the hospital. Adam thanked the owner of the restaurant, paid her for the three bottles of coke he had had during his wait. He put his dark shades on and crossed the street towards the hospital. As he moved close to the hospital he noticed a black Mercedes Benz and an ambulance, the two cars were strange. He knew the cars each doctor and other workers drove, but then he did not really expect the any of the doctors to have only one car.

He looked around just to be sure there were no new or strange faces staring at him as he entered the hospital, there was none.

“Hello Rita.” Adam greeted the receptionist with all charm he could muster, he was going to ask for a big favour.

“Frederick, you’re here again.” There was something about the way she talked that caught Adam’s attention.

“Yes, I am. You look like you’re not happy to see me.”

“Oh, come on, of course I’m happy to see you.” She said with a smile, the smile made Adam relax.

“Guess what I brought you…” Adam said, putting a box of chocolate in front of her. She beamed. “Wait, before you have this, remember you promised you would take me to see the girl?”

She  had not promised, she had barely mentioned that she would not having a problem taking Adam to see the girl he was so interested in.

“Frederick, I did not promise. Why do you want to see her so much anyway, can’t you just wait till she is discharged?”

“No time for arguments my dear, there is a box of chocolate waiting to be yours, you know what to do.” Adam said with a smile teasing her. He wondered why she looked so serious.

“Frederick, why do you want to see her so much?” she looked nervously towards the staircase that led to where Adam believed Kemi was waiting. “I don’t…”

Adam had come too far, there was no going back here.

“Come on Rita, help me out here. Here’s the chocolate, it’s not about that.” He handed the box to her, she collected it and promptly hid it under her table. “I really need your help, you are the only one who can help me right now.”

“Okay, okay. Follow me.”

Adam pumped his fist in victory and followed her. She led him up the stairs and stopped.

“Okay, I can’t go past this spot. Just follow this corridor, there is a turning to the right at the end, her door is the last door to the left, just before the stairway that leads to the back door.”

“Thank you Rita, I’ll be in and out in five minutes, okay?”

“Yeah, just be fast.” She said and left quickly. Adam saw the look on her face again, he shook it off and moved in the direction she described.

He almost ran as he came near to the door, it was the moment of truth, he stopped short as he came to the door, it was open. He jumped inside without thinking, the room was empty. He ran towards the bed and touched it, it was still warm, somebody just moved her!

He ran out of the room and ran down the stairs, he barged through the back door. He was sure the person who took her could not have gone far. As he came out, he was hit on his back, he fell to his knees. From the corner of his eyes, he spotted a man running away with something heaped over his shoulders. He ignored whatever or whoever hit him from behind and ran after the man who was running away from him.

The pain on his back throbbed as he ran, he was gaining on the man, the weight of the girl he carried reduced his speed. He stumbled as he was hit from the back again, he struggled to his feet, the man with the girl was getting away, he was about to pick his pace again when he was hit again. The man with the girl was out of sight. Adam struggled to stand up but he could not, he felt pain on his head as he was hit.

The darkness was moving closer as Adam tried to get to his feet, he heard the sound of a automobile move close to him, it was an ambulance. Adam struggled to get to his feet, he felt dizzy and nauseous, the man who had hit him ran towards the ambulance as it stopped and jumped in. Adam crawled towards the car, blood dropping from his mouth, the ambulance screeched, spilled sand on his face and went off. Adam fell on his back, the darkness taking over, he tried to keep his eyes open but he had no control over them. He eventually gave up and embraced the darkness as he fell into oblivion.

ILORIN

11 AM

25, NOVEMBER 2015

Nobody liked to see the boss angry, his anger was stuff of legends. Faruk had never seen him angry and prayed he would not, but if the shouts he heard from behind the closed door were any indication, his prayer was not answered. He had heard a story of the boss cutting off a man’s tongue because he had said something to the press which had painted the boss in a bad light which had made him very angry.

“He would see you now.” A shaken young female secretary announced to him.

Faruk opened his palms and said a little prayer, he was not interested in having any part of him cut off. He breathed deeply and opened the door.

“Good afternoon sir.” Faruk greeted him with all the humility he could fathom.

“Faruk, look at your watch, it is eleven.” Faruk bit his tongue, of all the mistakes he thought could get him killed, he had not expected this.

“I’m sorry sir, I was…”

“Just sit down Faruk. You have been my best man for a long time, I have bragged about you to others, I have probably made you a few enemies too, but what do you do to repay that trust huh? You almost lose the girl.”

It was not the tongue cutting he expected, but the tongue lashing was almost as painful. It was not his fault a staff of the hospital talked to a police officer, it was one of his men who had sighted the man, confirmed he was a cop and took care of the situation. Of course he could not say any of these to the boss.

“Are you just going to sit there like a dummy? You have nothing to say to me?”

“Sir, one of the staff of the hospital talked too much, it almost got out of hand but it has been taken care of.”

“And the cop? You know I don’t kill cops, neither should you.”

“He was not killed, but he will not find us anymore.”

“If you say so.”  It looked like it was over, he had been scared for nothing. “Good work with the job at Dubai, by the way.”

“Thank you sir, it wasn’t very difficult.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t. I can’t believe Al Mubarak signed a contract with those guys in Port Harcourt already. That’s one major client gone, let’s see how he responds to this.”

Faruk heaved a sigh of relief as he left the office, he needed more of victories like he had in Dubai and less of losses. CyberCorp had no idea what was coming.

Thanks for reading today’s story, I will not be sending whatsapp notifications anymore, People really don’t like broadcast Messages. You can like the facebook page for automatic updates or just check on Mondays. If you want to receive notifications via whatsapp, Let me Know on 2347036551676. Thank you.

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