BEFORE THE DARKNESS EPISODE TEN

Sarkin Aljan kicked the man in the stomach again even though he was dead. The other men took another subtle step away from him, fear was plainly written on their faces. There was something clearly written on his own face too; it was anger! He had done everything perfectly, he had set up the portal, connected to the right star but everything had been destroyed. The man he had just beaten to death had nothing to do with the soldiers taking over the portal, he was just the closest when he heard the news.
He knew there was nothing the soldiers could do to the portal but it did not make less angry. Destroying Asaba was supposed to be the beginning of the end. It was supposed to drive the country and the president to their knees. Now, they would not surrender since they now believed once they stopped the hazard at Asaba, they could stop any other plan he has.
He still could not understand it. There was no way the soldiers could have stopped the portal, nobody could! Except it was not a human.
“You!” He called one of his men. “I need to find out who disabled that portal. Go and find me the person now!”
“It was probably a soldier. How do I find who exactly?” The man trembled at what he was asked to do.
“That is your business! You were once a soldier, do whatever you have to do. Or your family dies!”
He saw anger flash through the face of the man. He smiled and walked away. Apart from fear, the second most common emotion his men showed was anger. He loved it. They needed fear to listen to his instructions and they needed the anger to carry them out.
“Sarkin…” One of his called from behind.
He turned around to face the man; Ayuba.
“He just called with some news.” Ayuba said.
“He? He has no name?”
“I don’t…”
“I know who you speak of, what did he say?” His men did not know the identity of his source and he wanted it that way.
“The soldiers have the portal. They have not been able to remove it but there is heavy security around it. They have scientists on site trying to figure out how to disable it permanently.”
Sarkin Aljan smiled. They could have all the scientists in the world working on it and none of them would figure out the portal.
“Did he tell you how the portal was disabled in the first place?” He had to know. Ibilis had to know. With the failure of this mission, he had to meet with Ibilis again. His lips trembled at the thought.
“No he did not say but there might be a way to get the portal back.”
“If his suggestion is another slow process of planning and plotting, I have to say I do not have that time! We get that portal back in forty eight hours or I will kill every one of you! And he will not be spared!”
“No, no, there is no delay. We will have the portal back in twenty four hours.” The man said with a confidence that suddenly gave Sarkin Aljan hope.
“So what’s the plan?”
“You will need to call the president again sir!”
***
Lange walked quickly to the conference room. He had been held up in meetings for hours but there was only one place he wanted to be. He had already been told that his soldiers had secured the instrument the terrorist used and the darkness had lifted over Asaba. It was not time to celebrate yet; they had to wait to see if none of the residents were affected by the Black Death disease. But first, he needed a full report on what could turn out to be a big victory for him and his administration.
He entered the room and the men in the room rose up.
“I am sorry for keeping you waiting. I’m sure you know this is the most important thing right now but I had to attend to other affairs of the nation. So what is the situation in Asaba?”
“Aganga actually, Mr. President.” General Kosoko, the defense minister said. “The terrorist was found in a small village close to Asaba; Aganga.”
“The terrorist was found?!” Lange exclaimed.
“I think you should start from the beginning.” Adigwe said.
Lange listened as the minister explained how his soldiers found the site where the portal was hidden and they had apprehended the masked terrorist. He wanted to be happy but there were some things that had not been explained.
“You mentioned that the portal had been disabled before the soldiers got there, how did that happen?”
“We don’t know yet.”
“That is strange.” There was something wrong. “Captain Ademola was supposed to be in charge of this mission, why is he not here?”
Lange’s heart sank when he heard how the Captain had been attacked and the soldiers with him were killed. He was unconscious and in the hospital. Doctors said he would survive but he needed a few days.
“So Ademola was attacked on the other side of town? There is something strange about this story, don’t you think?”
“Well sir, we don’t know everything yet but I believe with the capture of the masked terrorist, we will get all the information we need in time. He is not saying anything now though.”
Lange folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his seat. He had come into the room with ecstasy but now he was not sure what to feel. It was obvious he had drowned the enthusiasm of the men in the room too.
“Adigwe, can we confirm yet that there are no residents of Asaba positive with the BDD?”
“No sir. We don’t have the half-life of the disease yet. We have decided to seal off Asaba for two more weeks.” Adigwe said.
“Two weeks is a long time especially as the disease is not contagious.” Lange said.
“Better safe than sorry sir.”
“You will need to address the nation this evening. People need to know what happened in Asaba.” Mrs. Martins, the information minister said. “The opposition is already saying a lot to upset the people, we need to calm them. Nothing calms them more than news that the masked terrorist has been captured.”
Lange sighed. “Set it up Martins. Don’t tell anybody about the capture just yet. We need to be sure.”
His phone vibrated on the table and he peeked at it; it was an unknown number but it looked familiar. The masked Terrorist!
“Please I need everyone to leave the room, I have to take this call alone.” Lange said.
He smiled as they all walked out of the room, they could not see his fear. Whatever the man wanted to say, he had to hear it alone. By the time the room was empty, the call had ended. He tried to call back but the number was switched off. If the masked terrorist was the one calling, who was the man the soldiers had in custody? What did he have to do with the Darkness in Asaba?
He stood from his seat and paced. Bola and her son Segun were still in Asaba. The stupid son was not going to call anybody, he had made sure his phones were confiscated and he was locked up alone in a room. As soon as he got confirmation that Asaba was safe he would have them both flown to Abuja, he needed to have a serious talk with Segun.
The phone vibrated again and he grabbed it immediately. He placed his finger on the ‘answer’ button then he hesitated. Whatever the man was going to tell him would not be good news. He sighed. It was better to know than to assume.
He pushed the button.
“Mr. President, how are you today?” It was him!
“What do you want?”
“That was not polite. I am the one who should be grim, after all you disturbed my plans in Asaba. Although I know you did not do it on your own, whoever or whatever it was that helped you won’t be able to help you next time.”
“Next time? You have to be kidding, we have your device.” Lange said not too confidently.
“Yeah, about that; I think you might have a change of mind when you hear what I have to say. I happen to have a certain woman with me – very pretty I must add. Her name is Bola, you know her?”
Lange sank into his chair and stifled a gasp. Oh my God!
“Oh, no more talking? Well, I have her son too, although I doubt you care much for him, he clearly doesn’t care much for you. The woman on the other hand, I believe….”
“What do you want?” Lange asked.
“Straight to business, that is wonderful. I would have voted you for president if I was around during the elections. I’d vote you for second term but I can’t promise there will be any elections then. You understand what I’m saying?”
“What do you want?!” Lange shouted.
“Okay, calm down. I want the device back!”
“You have got to be kidding me.” Lange said and laughed.
“Just withdraw your soldiers and I will come get it myself.”
“No way am I doing that! That device will destroy my country and who knows where else.”
“Okay, hold on please…” The masked terrorist said and Lange heard some noise in the background.
He wondered what the terrorist was doing. Suddenly he heard a gunshot.
“What did you do?!” He shouted, jumping off his chair.
“I just killed the son. In case you don’t believe, the mother will confirm. Alright madam, speak up please.”
Lange held his breath and covered his mouth with one of his palms.
“Johnson, they killed him.” Bola’s voice was barely audible. “They killed Segun. He did not do anything, he did not do anything Johnson… He has a knife, please, please…no please. Aaaaaarghh.”
Her voice went off as she began to scream.
“Okay, Mr. President, what do you say?”
“The soldiers will be out of Aganga in twenty four hours!” Lange said.
“That’s kind of too long, you have twelve hours or she is dead!”
“Okay. But you have to let her go with the soldiers.”
“You have my word Mr. President. I should let you go now, you have eleven hours and fifty eight minutes to rescue your concubine.”
The call ended.
He always suspected Bola would be the end of him; it looked like the end had come faster than he expected.
***
Damola looked at the soldier with hate. He had tried his best to explain to them that he had just come to help but they did not listen. He had tried to fight them but he could not stand the pain in his hand when he tried to bring out any fire from it.
“Where did you say your camp is again?” The soldier asked, his very painful metallic instrument of torture swinging from his side.
“I have told you and every other fool that has asked that question, I am not the one you want! It’s no wonder you fools keep losing to him.”
“Well, I guess we have to go through another round then.”
The soldier moved behind him with his metallic whip outstretched. Damola shut his eyes and bowed his head.
“Stop!”
Damola opened his eyes and looked up. The president stood in front of him.
“Who are you?” The president asked. He looked troubled.
“Not who your soldiers think I am.”
“Who are you then?”
Damola considered telling him who he was but he doubted he would be believed. But he had no idea what else to say.
“My name is Adedamola.” He said and stopped. The president kept quiet and waited. “What do you want to know?”
“Look here Adedamola, you may not be the Masked Terrorist but you are one of his men for all I care. Why were you at the scene?”
The soldiers looked at one another, they looked surprised the President was actually questioning him. He was too. There had to be something going on. If he was to tell the President the truth, he could not tell him in the presence of the soldiers.
“Sir, can they leave us alone please?”
“Are you crazy? No way are we leaving the president alone with you!” One of the soldiers said and moved closer to the president.
“Leave us please.” The president said. The soldiers did not move. “You can stay just outside the door, I won’t get close to him, alright? Give us five minutes.”
Slowly the soldiers went out. They were probably more interested in what he wanted to say than protecting the president.
“Okay, we are alone. Who are you?”
“I was at the scene with a colleague of mine to stop the portal…” He started.
“You stopped the device? How did you even know about it?”
“It is a very long story sir. Let’s just say, I have some history with the masked terrorist.”
“You know him?” The president said and started to pace. There was obviously something on his mind.
“Is there something going on Mr. President?”
“Everything you are saying could all be a big lie but something about you makes me want to trust you. Or maybe I’m just desperate. I’m about to do something stupid, but I have no choice.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Damola asked.
“You say you are not a terrorist, right? Well, I will give you a chance to prove it.”
What is he talking about?
“You could lose your life doing this, but you will die fighting for your country and not as a terrorist. What do you say; would you take my offer?”
***
Eric sat alone in the darkness and waited for Pearl to come. He had not been in his office in a long time and even now he did not know why he was there. He had not appeared in court in a while and his lawyer had left him several messages but he was not going to reply any of them. Not just yet.
His experience in Aganga was all he could think about. He had left Sango to face the soldiers alone. He had no choice, if he was arrested he could not escape, Sango could. At least he expected him to. That was what worried him the now, it looked like Sango did not escape. If he was still held by the soldiers, he was in a lot of trouble. They had stopped the darkness, which should count for something. He had to wait for Orunmila to show up.
There was a knock on the door and he opened his eyes. He looked at his watch; he had been asleep for almost two hours. He walked to the door and opened it. Pearl walked in.
“Are you alright Eric? You look like hell.” She said looking him over.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” He said and returned to his seat.
“Where have you been? I have called and called. You usually tell me when you won’t be available. And remember we are in court?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you but I just had to deal with a few personal matters.”
“When did you start having personal matters?” She knew something was up, she always knew.
“I’m here now, okay? Let’s move on.”
She opened her mouth then paused and nodded. Eric knew she was going to come back with her questions and it was only a matter of time before he told her the truth.
“Morayo called.” She said.
“What did she want? She hasn’t done enough to ruin my life?”
“That’s the thing Eric, I don’t know if she’s the one trying to ruin your life.”
Eric looked up at her. “How do you mean?”
“She said somebody paid her to sue you and they will kill her for calling…something like that. I think you should call her.”
“She was paid to sue me? You believe that crap? And why will I care if someone is going to kill her, it is none of my business.”
“Come on Eric, I think there’s something going on here that we don’t know about.”
“Is that all that happened? I thought you would have a lot of things waiting for me.”
“Your girlfriend has been asking a lot of questions about you!”
“My who?”
“Your girlfriend…the pretty reporter. She has been here a couple of times subtly asking me questions about you.”
Eric stood and walked to the large window looking down at the highway in front of his office building. He knew Toni could be trouble for him, especially now he knew the truth about himself. If she pressed hard, she would know all about him very soon.
***
Toni Adedoyin walked into the X-Media building for the third time in a couple of weeks. Some men would call it stalking, but she was so desperate to have answers to her question. She had not met Eric the previous two times she came and his secretary was not the most open person you could meet.
She was not sure if she was curious from a professional point of view or if it was personal. She hated being the dark, it was probably what made her a great journalist. And there was a lot of darkness about Eric, she had to know.
She climbed a staircase and got to his door. Her hand was on the door to knock when she heard some voices from below. She glanced and saw two men in suit, she knew them; they were detectives. She wondered why they were in X-media.
She knocked on the door and entered.
“Toni!” Eric said, he looked surprised to see her.
“Where have you been, I have come here a few times.” She said.
“I’m sorry, I was just…”
A knock on the door interrupted him. The door opened and the two detectives she had seen earlier entered.
“Good afternoon. Are you Mr. Eric Adesesan?” One of the men – Detective Thomas asked.
“Who are you?” Eric asked, eyeing them carefully.
“I am Detective Thomas and this is Detective Omotosho. Are you Mr. Adesesan, please?”
“Yes, I am. Is there any problem?”
“Detectives, what’s the problem?” Toni asked, trying to get their attention.
They ignored her. “You have to come with us sir, you are under arrest.”
Under arrest? Toni looked at Eric, he looked agitated. What was going on?
“We didn’t do anything wrong, the whole country would be in trouble if not for us. We were just trying to help.” Eric said.
“Trying to help?” Detective Omotosho brought out a pair of handcuffs and walked towards him. “You were trying to help by killing the poor lady?”
“Wait a minute!” Eric said and started to move backwards, away from the detective. “Kill what lady?”
“I suggest you do not resist arrest Mr. Adesesan. She was going to ruin your career and you killed her, we get it but don’t make this worse than it already is.”
Toni looked from the detectives to Eric in confusion. What were they talking about? Eric killed the lady that sued him?
“What are you talking about? I did not kill anybody!” Eric said and stopped and his face became rigid. “You will not arrest me for a sin I did not commit.”
Toni moved towards the detectives but stopped. She looked at where Eric had stood just a few seconds before she moved, he was no longer there. She looked around the room, he was gone. She felt a hand in her pocket and she jumped. She dipped her hand in her pocket and brought out a folded piece of paper.
“Where did he go?”
“What just happened?”
The detectives looked at each other in confusion. Toni turned away from them and unwrapped the paper. There was a note scribbled on it.
Meet me in your house, I’ll explain everything.

Author’s Note: I’m trying to finish this off sooner than I planned,  so  I’ll be posting on Thursdays and Mondays now. So check by 9am on Thursday for Chapter Eleven. Thank you.

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