BEFORE THE DARKNESS EPISODE NINE

Segun looked out of the window, there was nothing, still. He had threatened the president of the country, it was not so smart but he really had no choice. His mother was clearly not going to call him, ‘I don’t want to put him in trouble’ she said. “When you are a President and you commit adultery, you are already in trouble!” He had retorted,fuming. His call did not seem to have any effect on the president though. It  was almost twenty four hours and he had not heard anything from anyone. He considered telling his mother. The president she was trying to protect was going to let her die without even trying to save her.
“Are you expecting somebody?” He jumped at his mother’s voice. He did not hear her walk up to him.
“No.” he said and walked away from the window.
“I have seen you look out through that window more than a few times, what’s going on?” She asked, blocking his path.
He looked into her face and looked away. He had never been able to lie to her, and it was not for want of trying.
“I called Lange.” He said.
She opened her mouth and let out a quiet cry. She covered her mouth with her palm and walked away from him. He hurried after her and held her hand, she paused.
“If he cares about you as much as you obviously care for him, he will find a way to get us out of here.” He said.
She looked at him and said nothing.
“Mom, you came to Asaba because of me, you should not die here, not now!”
“What have you done Segun?” She said, her voice trembling. “I would have called him if I thought it was a good idea. I don’t want to die too.”
“If you don’t want to die, why didn’t just call him then?”
She sniffled and walked away from him. He watched her walk into the room. And turned back to the window. He had known his mom was seeing somebody but he was shocked the day she told him who it was. He had promised not to tell anybody and he hadn’t, not even his wife. But it hurt him. His mother deserved better than an old cheating politician who used her as one of his whores.
A knock came from the door startled him. Had the president finally come through? He hurried to the door and unlocked it. He swung it open. A tall man stood in front of the door. The first thing he noticed about the man apart from his bushy beard was his eyes; they seemed to be completely white.
“Can I help you?” Segun said trying to avoid looking the man in the eyes for too long.
“I am here for you and your mother.” The man said and entered the house slightly pushing him out of the way.
“Hey, who are you?” Segun asked, his heart was starting to beat fast. Had he made a mistake antagonizing the president?
“Oh, I’m sorry. My name is Kush.” Kush? ”And no, I wasn’t named after the group, they were named after me.” The man said and laughed.
The laugh eased his tension a little.
“Okay, I still don’t know what you want from us.” Segun said studying the man.
“I am here to get you and your mom to a safe place.” Kush said. “I was told you would know who sent me. Do you?”
“I think I do.” It had to be Lange. He was the only one who knew where they were. “Wait here, I need to get my mom.”
“Yeah, do that. I hear she is pretty.” Kush smiled sheepishly and rubbed his hand against his crotch.
Segun looked at him and hesitated. Who was this guy?
***They were on their own now. Orunmila had told them all he could but he was not allowed to mess with the affairs of men, he said. Eric did not feel going to fight Sarkin Aljan with only Sango as company was a good idea. Something in him pulled him towards the fight though, something he could not figure out.  And the closer they got, the more eager he was to get into combat.
Orunmila had been kind enough to tell them where to find the portal, he had been able to deduce that much from his side of heaven. Or wherever he went when he was not in ‘realm of men’.
They entered the village by a bush path not very far from the only road that led into it. It was starting to get dark but they could still notice there were a lot of soldiers at what was supposed to be the entrance of the village. If there were so many soldiers, it had to be that the government knew about Sarkin Aljan’s hide-out too. The soldiers could not stop him though, Orunmila had said their bullets could not stop or affect the portal.
“How do we find where the portal is if we can’t go through the streets?” Sango asked.
“I’ll find a way. First, we need to find the house.” Eric said.
He closed his eyes and slowly he became one with the atmosphere. It had only taken days and he was fully able to become invisible. It was the first time he was going to do it under pressure though and he was nervous.
He moved into the street and paused, the soldiers walked past him minding their own business. It looked like they were doing a house to house search, it did not matter, Sarkin Aljan was properly hidden. He moved on and soon he was far from the last house in the village. According to Orunmila, the portal was well hidden on a farm some distance away from the village. Another reason the soldiers were not likely to find Sarkin Aljan. The house was close now – it was not a house; it was a tent of sorts. Two men paced in front of the tent. They were thickset and burly and carried heavy guns. They were probably the guards outside, Sarkin would be inside. He should probably go back now and get Sango, then they could find a way past the guards. Or maybe he should check out how many guards were with Sarkin Aljan. He would be safe, they could hear him but if he stepped gently, they would not notice him.
He walked towards the tent. One of the guards suddenly stopped and looked in his direction. Eric paused and held his breath. The guard shook his head and walked on. Eric sighed and hurried towards a corner of the tent that was slightly open. He peeped in, there was nobody. He slipped through the opening and stopped in surprise. The portal stood in the middle of the space and pointed to the sky through an opening in tent. Were there just two guards?
“Who are you?” A voice came from behind him.
He spun around quickly. He gasped and almost lost his footing.
There was a gun in his face.
***
Damola looked at his watch again; Esu had been gone for more than two hours. It was possible Sarkin Aljan could see the invisible, they had not considered that. Orunmila had not told them this; although by the man’s admission he did not know everything about Sarkin Aljan. They had a simple plan, destroy the portal. Orunmila had told them how, but Damola had a feeling the old man was not completely honest with them. He would give it his best; it was the best chance of defeating Sarkin Aljan and rescuing Anne. But first, he had to find Esu. He was either caught or he was lost, either way Damola decided he could no longer wait. He would just have to sneak past the soldiers.
He walked from the bush where he was hiding and into a street corner. The soldiers were not facing him, he could easily pass behind them. He walked swiftly and soon he was almost at the edge of the village.
“Hey! Stop there!” Damola heard a voice behind. “Turn around slowly with your hands up.”
It had to be the soldiers. He searched his brain for a conver-up story but came up empty. Lying was not his specialty; Esu was the guru when it came to lies.
He turned around slowly with his hand up. The man pointing a gun to him was not wearing a uniform. He had a very rough beard, the type you rarely found on soldiers.  Who was this man?
“I know who you are! I have your partner and I’ll advise you not to do anything rash or I will shoot you.” The man said.
It had to be one of Sarkin Aljan’s men. They knew about him? Damn you Esu! He thought of fighting the man but then more men will come.
The man nudged him forward and he moved. In ten minutes they were in front of a tent. The man pushed in through an opening in the tent and he fell in. He rose slowly to his feet and he was pushed into a corner. Esu was on the floor, passed out.
“We have the two of them.” He heard a voice say outside the tent.
“Okay, we will deal with them when the darkness matures.” Another voice replied.
He felt a crushing pain on the right side of his head and dropped to the ground unconscious.
***
Pearl feared for her boss. Things were not going well for him in court and he had failed to show up for two days. The judge was getting angry and it was only a matter of time before she charged him with contempt of court. A lot had been said about him and his lawyer was not sure which was true or false, it was difficult to cross examine when you did not know the facts of the case.
She did not believe half of what the girls said about Eric. A lot of girls had thrown themselves at him but he never hired any girl because he had slept with them. If the girl was not good enough she still did not get the part. That had hurt a lot of girls and finally he had had enough sense to stop sleeping with actresses. It was late though, there were already more than enough girls who with a little encouragement would testify against him.
But now she worried about something else. The journalist he was picking interest in was also picking interest in him and was asking questions about his past. She soon discovered she was not getting much except the cooked up story Eric had told her to tell anybody who asked. Toni Adedoyin was too smart for that and it looked like she was beginning to suspect something was wrong with the story.
The phone on her table rang! It was the phone connecting to Eric’s office. Usually anyone who called this number wanted to speak to Eric.
She answered the phone.
“Good morning, Eric Adesesan’s office.”
“Pearl, is that you?” The voice was not clear, but it sounded familiar.
“Yes, who am I speaking to please?”
“Morayo… where is Eric? I’m sorry…so sorry, I didn’t… I need to talk to Eric.” She stuttered along.
“Morayo, are you alright?” Pearl said, standing from her seat. “Eric is not here right now. Are you okay?”
“Just tell him I’m sorry. I was broke and they offered a lot of money. They are dangerous people, I didn’t know…I’m sorry.” She broke down and sobbed loudly over the phone.
“They… who are they?”
“I’m sorry… …they will kill me if… I have to go.”
“Wait Morayo, where are you? I can come pick you up, Eric will like to talk to you.”
The phone went silent except for her heavy breathing. The breathing started to get faint.
“Morayo?!” No reply.
Another voice came over the phone, a male voice. Then Morayo began to scream. She heard the dial tone, the call ended. Pearl redialed the phone number immediately; it was switched off.
Someone was coercing her to testify? She silently prayed Morayo was okay, she was Eric’s ticket to freedom.
***
Damola felt something nudge him in the side and slowly he opened his eyes.
“Stand up!” Esu whispered.
He struggled up and sat. His feet and his hands were tied together in front of him. It was dark but the portal in the tent lighted up the room. Two of the men sat in the room next to the portal. One of the men was dozing, the other was grumbling about something . He was yet to see any sign of Sarkin Aljan, maybe he was not with the portal. Maybe he was still in the forest where Anne was being held.
“Hey, if we are going to stop this, this is our only chance.” Esu whispered again. “I overheard the men saying the darkness matures in the morning. There will be nothing we can do then.”
“Why did you tell them about me? What do you want me to do now? Notice that my hands and legs are tied?”
“You’re angry? I don’t have the time to argue right now. But in case you didn’t notice, the ropes are rubber, you can burn them off.”
Of course! He had not thought about it. All he had to do was release fire from his hand. Orunmila had made him learn controlling the fire, he was glad he had listened. He was not ready to fight with it, Orunmila had insisted but he would have to find out one way or the other. The fires hissed out of his hand slowly and the rubber rope melted off. He touched his hand to the rope on his feet and the melted off. He released Esu and looked up at the guards. They had no idea what just happened.
“Now, kill these men and let’s put a stop to this madness.” Esu said.
“No, we are not going to kill them! I need them to tell me where Anne is been kept.”
“What makes you think they will talk? These men are dangerous, don’t play games with them.”
Damola shook his head and stood up. One of the guards noticed him stand and opened his mouth in surprise. Before he could recover, Damola punched him in the face and he fell down unconscious. The sleeping guard was on his feet now. He shot at Damola but the bullet whizzed past him. He waved his hand and threw a fireball at the guard’s face. He screamed and fell on his back. There was one more guard, if he was close he would have heard the commotion and would be in soon.
“We need to destroy the portal now!” Esu said.
“Thanks for helping by the way.” Damola said and walked towards the opening in the tent. “There is a third guard, we need to get him down.”
“If he was close by he would be here already. We don’t have time, I just checked the time on one of the guards, and we have less than two hours before dawn. We have no idea how long it would take to destroy this thing.”
Damola knew what he said was sensible. Orunmila had told them, only heat could destroy the portal. But he had no idea what level of heat, except it could not be done by any fire humans could produce.
He moved close to the portal. This was the moment that would determine if they had a chance to stop Sarkin Aljan or if they were truly lost. He put each palm on either side of the portal and closed his eyes. The heat came off his hand and hit the portal, then the fire joined and soon there were sparks coming off the portal.
If there was any effect on the portal, Damola did not know it. Then suddenly the he felt the heat begin to burn his hand. The portal was deflecting the heat.
“Don’t remove your hand, the portal is starting to lose its light.” Esu shouted.
He grinded his teeth and looked at the portal, the light had grown dimmer but the pain was growing. The light was getting dim but very slowly. His hands were red and the pain was starting to spread through his body.
“Hang on, it’s almost out.” Esu said, trying to comfort him. It was not helping.
Then the light went out! He removed his hands and screamed. He dropped to his knees and looked at the hand, they were blistered and the red was turning to black.
Suddenly he heard a gunshot. He looked up to see a man; the third guard. He knew him! He was one of the men that he saw with Sarkin Aljan. He tried to fire up his hand but his hand slumped with pain. He heard another gunshot and the man crashed to the ground. He looked behind him and saw Esu with a pointed gun.
He sighed and looked at the portal, the light was back on!
“The light is back on!” Damola shouted in frustration.
“Yeah, but it is very dim, so I’m assuming it will take time for it to build again. Surely we can do something about it before then.”
“I can’t go through this again. What if we…”
He was cut off by some rustling beside the tent. Suddenly soldiers crashed into the tent.
“Put your hands where I can see them!”
Damola put his hands up and looked to his side; Esu was gone!
***
Everything was working well for him. He had no idea where the small time film-maker had run off to but it was only a matter of time before he turned up. There are two types of men; the people who make things happen and the people things happen to. He belonged to the first group and Eric belonged to the other. That was just the way the world worked and Eric had no idea what was coming.
There was a knock on the door and he turned around. One of his men walked in.
“Is it done?” He asked.
“Yes sir!”
“Good, now she is out, you know what to do. Let’s get this over with.”
“Consider it done sir!”
He watched the man walk out and he smiled. Things were moving along, soon it would all be over.

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