BEFORE THE DARKNESS EPISODE SIX

The country was close to chaos and he had to do something. Department of State Security was still trying to identify the man who had spoken on TV, they were yet to come up with anything useful. But he had to address the nation before the end of the day if he wanted to maintain calm. There was a lot to talk about. He had to address the black death disease, something he had tried his best to stay away from. What was he supposed to tell them?
“Sir, we go live in five minutes!” The press secretary said.
Lange went over his notes. He knew everything on the notes, he wrote the speech himself. But he had five minutes to change them. He had written the grim facts as he knew them despite the objections of his gatekeepers. The situation was not under control and he thought the people had a right to know. Now he did not know if it was the right thing to do. It was not so presidential to admit to your citizens that you don’t know what to do.
“Sir, we are live in a minute.” He heard the press secretary call again.
He adjusted in his seat and squinted as the light focused on his face. If he told lies, it would catch up with him sooner or later when he did not deliver on his promise. On the other hand, the truth will send the nation into a terrible panic.
“You are on in Five… Four… Three… Two… One!”
“Good Evening fellow Nigerians. We all witnessed the happenings of this afternoon when a terrorist threatened our individual and collective peace. I am here to assure you that we as a nation will not live in fear of anybody. As for his claims to being in control of a disease that has claimed the lives of so many…” He paused, as he contemplated what to say. “…we can confirm that what he said was false. Two villages have been attacked by a virus in the past few weeks but we can assure you that we are on top of the situation. Remain calm, our nation is secure and we have the will and the resources to battle anybody who threatens the peace and prosperity of our nation. God bless you and God bless Nigeria.”
He kept smiling for a few seconds even after he was signaled that the broadcast was over. He had just lied about having control over the situation. What would he say when another village was struck by the black-death disease.
“You did the right thing sir.” Adigwe said, walking up to him.
“We will know how right I did by the end of my tenure, won’t we?”
He sighed and walked towards his office.
***
Eric stared at the judge with his mouth open.
“Is this true Mr. Adesesan?” The judge asked before she could stop herself. She was not supposed to question him as he was not in the witness box.
“No, my Lord!” Eric answered. He could not believe his ears.
“Miss Morayo, why did you not file a complaint or sue him when this happened?” The judge went back to the witness who was doing a great job of digging his grave.
“I was threatened! He said he would kill me if I told anybody.” She said.
“What the heck are you talking about?!” Eric jumped up and slammed the table in front of him before he could stop himself.
“Sit down Mr. Adesesan! This is a court, I will not have anybody misbehaving!”
He could not believe what he was hearing. When his lawyer had called to tell him he was needed in court, he had not been surprised. He had hoped Morayo had come to her senses and was finally going to agree to drop the case. He had been wrong. Very wrong. She had filed an additional suit to the original suit of wrongful termination.
Now she claimed she had been sexually harassed. His lawyer was trying to get the suit tossed. The problem, his lawyer had explained to him was the judge on the case had special hate for men who were accused of sexual harassment. She had been fast-rising lawyer at a giant law firm but had almost lost her whole career to a philandering senior partner. Her career survived but she was thwarted on her way to the top of the company ladder. A lot of men had gone down before her bench.
Eric was shocked he was being accused of sexual harassment. He had been known to flirt with a few of the actresses and he had with Morayo, even though it was for a little time. But for some reason, the prosecution thought they had a good case. They looked like they were already winners, like they had just come to announce his loss.
His lawyer stood to address the judge.
“My lord, I would want this case to be dismissed. This is a false accusation aimed at embarrassing my client. This case is basically his word against hers, I do not believe that that is enough to put my client on an embarrassing trial.”
“On the contrary my Lord, this isn’t just a case of the defendant’s word against my client’s. We have other victims who have come forward and are willing to testify against the defendant.” The prosecutor said, the smirk broadening on his face.
Eric wanted to jump up against but this time smack the prosecutor on his face. It was clear the man had it out for him, he was not going to relent until whatever it was he wanted was done.
Eric sighed then closed his eyes. He tried to remember all the girls he had flirted or even slept with, they were not many and he did not expect them to turn on him. And none of them had felt bitter against him when he left them. Well, neither had Morayo.
“We not only have witnesses your honour, we have a tape that shows the defendant sexually harassing two of the victims.” The prosecutor said and looked at Eric.
Eric opened his mouth in wonder. And for the first time he considered the possibility that his career could actually be over.
***
“Hey!” he heard a voice call from behind him as he left the courtroom.
He looked behind him and saw Toni. He wondered what she thought of him now after all the drama that had just happened in the courtroom. She walked fast and caught up with him.
“Are you okay?” She asked before he could say anything.
“I’m good.” He replied, then looked at her. “You don’t believe all they said in there, do you?”
“I’m a journalist, I keep an open mind.” She said with a smile.
“Well, that wasn’t the answer I was hoping for.”
They towards the exit of the courthouse in silence, but Toni stopped when they got to the door.
“Are you sure you want to go out through that door? There are a lot reporters waiting to poke recorders in your face.” She said and pulled his hand. “Follow me.”
They went through the different corridors and eventually came out through a door that led to a flight of stairs. They went down the stairs and came out behind the courthouse. She led the way and walked away from his car was parked.
“My car is parked that way.” He said pointing to his car.
“You can’t reach your car without having to face those reporters.”
“Did you see what happened in that court room? Reporters are my least concern, they can’t possibly do more damage.”
“You are very naïve my friend, they can do a lot more damage. I don’t think a shouting session with your lawyer is what you need now. How about we stop wasting time and go on that date now?”
“Now?” Eric asked, surprised. “I was just labeled a pervert in there.”
“Are you a pervert?” She asked with a teasing smile.
“No.”
“Good! I know a place, it’s not far from here. Let’s get that horrible court off your mind. Shall we?” She asked, offering him her hand.
He took the hand. “Yes my lady.”
***
The lounge was located in a closed part of the city. It was not a kind of place you would find just by driving through the city. It looked like a place that would be perfect whether it was day or night. The tables were spaced out and it almost looked like you were alone in the room with your date. His date looked like she belonged here.
“I can tell you have been here a few times.” Eric said.
“You are right, I have.”
“Your boyfriends have great taste then, this is a nice place.”
“Who said it was my boyfriends with the great taste and not me? Oh wait, this is the part where I’m supposed to say I don’t have a boyfriend?”
“Yeah, kinda.” Eric said. She had read his mind.
“I don’t have a boyfriend, but what does that mean to you? It’s not like a pervert like you won’t have a girlfriend.” She said and winked.
“You just broke my heart.” He squeezed his face together in feigned pain and laid his palm on his chest.
She laughed and for some minutes they ate in silence. He wondered what went through her mind. She did not seem to pay much attention to the accusations that he had faced in the court. But he feared; the opposition seemed to have some properly organized lies to be as confident as they were. Would she still believe him when witness after witness came on the stand to say he had sexually harassed them.
“Hey, what are you thinking about?” She cut into his thoughts.
“You; I was thinking about you!” He said.
“I hope not. You were not smiling, you were worried. If worry is what is linked to thinking about me, I’d rather you didn’t think about me.”
“I’m sorry, my mind went back to the court for a while.”
“You need to stop that. Okay, lemme take your mind off that. Did you watch TV yesterday evening? The president’s announcement?”
“Yeah I did. What was that about? I was too busy thinking about my own problems, I did not find out.”
“You did not watch or hear about the terrorist who claimed to be behind the disease killing people in the north?” She was surprised.
“I don’t watch TV very much and I did not talk to anyone but my lawyers throughout yesterday. Who is the guy, this terrorist?”
“No one knows. He did not have the insignia of any of the major terrorist groups. What was more strange about him was his mask.”
“Mask?” He asked sitting up in his seat.
“Yeah, he wore this strange mask. It looked like…”
“Like it grew out of his face?” He finished her statement, his mind went back to Sarkin Aljan.
“You are right.” She looked at him curiously. “I thought you said you didn’t watch the broadcast. How do you know how he looks?”
He stared at her and wondered what to tell her. She looked like the kind of person that would catch him he was lying. But telling her the truth would only lead to more questions.
“This is going to sound strange to you but please don’t ask too many questions.”
“Okay, go on.” She looked so eager now.
“I saw him in my dream.”
“You what?”
“Saw him in my dream. Once you see that mask, you never forget it.”
“Okay, I don’t know why you don’t want to tell me the truth but if you know this guy or know about him, don’t keep quiet. I can feel it in my bones, this guy is a very bad person. If you can help us stop him, you have to.”
Eric looked at her and remembered the old man. He had said the world needed him, what if he was right?
***
He slowly opened his eyes but still he saw nothing. He wondered where he was. The back of his head throbbed and the pain spread to other parts of his body. He tried to move his hand but they did not move. He pulled them again but his hands began to hurt, they were fastened with a rope. He tried to stand, his feet were not tied. He staggered to his feet and stumbled around the room. He had no idea where the door was so stumbled forward until he hit the wall, then he began to feel around the room.
Suddenly a door opened! And he heard a switch flip and suddenly the room was flooded with light. The staggered and fell as he tried to shield his eyes from the light.
“Guess who we have here, it is the almighty Sango himself!” He heard a voice say.
He opened his eyes and waited to adjust the light then he looked up. Standing above him were three men. Two of them he remembered from the attack in the forest. The third one also looked familiar but he could not remember seeing him anywhere. He looked really strange. He wore a mask; a strange mask that looked like it grew out of his face.
“So you came like I expected you to.” The masked man said. “I knew all I had to do was get her.”
The masked man was the one who had Anne! Sarkin Aljan, the old man had called him. This was the person he needed to defeat.
“Where is she?” He said, stifling the anger bursting through his veins.
“She is here somewhere and she is being taken care of. Isn’t she fellas?” He asked turning to the guys around him. They all laughed.
“What have you done to her?!” He screamed!
“Hey calm down! She is okay! Do you think I will allow these humans touch a goddess?” Sarkin Aljan said.
“What do you want?” Damola asked, wishing his hands could somehow get untied.
“Good question. I don’t know if you have heard, but we are taking over this world! You my friend are a hindrance, you need to be taken out of the way. It’s that simple, this is not personal.” He said. The two men with him, looked at each other; they obviously did not believe him.
“What does Anne have to do with this? You have me now, let her go!”
“Anne? That is very terrible name, whatever happened to great names like Cleopatra, Diana? Anyway, I’ll be honest with you, Oya or Anne as you choose to call her, isn’t going anywhere. See here is the plan, when this is all over, when I am king of this world, I will need a Queen. Who better to be my queen than a goddess?”
“Stay away from my girl!” He shouted. He struggled to stand but fell. “She will never agree to your wife!”
Suddenly he saw Sarkin Aljan’s eyes go cold. He moved closer to him and stooped and looked him in the eye.
“If Oya doesn’t agree to be my wife, I will kill her, very slowly!”
He slammed his fist into Sarkin Aljan’s face before he realized his hands were free! The punch sent him flying across the room. Damola stood and ran after him! The two men with Sarkin Aljan attacked him before he got to him.
The fire coming off his hands had never been so much. He looked at them, it was not just fire now, there were sparks coming off them. The two men looked afraid of what they saw, they backed away.
Suddenly from behind them, Sarkin Aljan stood.
“Leave us now!” He said. The men were more than eager to leave.
“Give me Anne now or you are dead!” Damola said, the sparks in his hands increasing.
“You think that scares me?” Sarkin Aljan asked, pointing to the fiery hands. “I hate when people punch me.”
“Give me Anne now!”
He ran at Sarkin Aljan and hit him with all his strength. The blow connected with his face and the mask dropped off his face. He fell and crawled towards where the mask fell. Damola went after him, grabbed him by his collar and turned him around. His face was scarred from some sort of burn. Damola paused, had he encountered him before?
He felt the pain in his arm and screamed! He dropped Sarkin Aljan and looked at his arms. There were two deep cuts in his arm. The fire had stopped!
“I underestimated you.” He heard the voice come from a few feet from him. It was Sarkin Aljan, his mask was back on. “Well, I won’t be doing that again. As for Oya, she will feel as much pain as I did today!”
Damola stood and ran at him, but stopped just before he reached him. Between them stood a huge dog. It was as tall as he was and had two long fangs hanging out from both sides of his mouth. It looked him in the eyes and roared!
Damola stepped back. The dog moved closer to him.
“You will not die today but you will, very soon! But not before you see Oya become my queen!” Sarkin Aljan said and he slipped out of the room.
He could not let him go, if he would rescue Anne, he could not him go. The dog seemingly reading his thoughts moved closer to him. He down at his hands, the fire had stopped. He squeezed his fingers, nothing happened. He screamed in frustration and threw a punch at the dog. It dodged the blow and threw him on his back. It stepped over him and grabbed one of his legs with its teeth. Damola struggled against it but his skin was beginning to tear. There was no point fighting, he would have to live to fight another day.
Suddenly the room became dark. He heard a movement close to the door. The dog dropped his leg, he could see its shiny eyes move across the room in search of who or what had entered.
Damola crawled towards the wall and listened.
He had a loud thud and the dog yelped. Something ran past him where he was seated and the dog ran past him after it. Suddenly the dog cried loudly then it began to whimper quietly. Then it stopped and the room became quiet.
Damola strained his eyes but saw nothing. He jumped as he felt something tap him on the shoulder. He could not see what it was and it was making no sound. He sat poised waiting for whatever it was to move close to him again. He felt another tap on his shoulder, this time it was stronger. He punched the direction the tap came from but he hit nothing.
Suddenly darkness began to move on him as his eyes began to close. He tried to move but he had lost control over his muscles. He wanted to shout but nothing came out. He began to panic. Who was doing this? He felt arms go around him and lift him off the ground. Whoever was carrying him began to run and with each step the pain in his body increased.
Finally he could not take the pain anymore and he yielded to the darkness.

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