Eric shifted on the cold concrete bench. His back ached, so did his legs. He had now been in the police cell for hours and no position he tried was convenient anymore. He stood and screamed in frustration. The policeman seated out his cell eyed him and went back to his work. The policemen were keeping a close eye on him, they always had someone watching. And they were smart to do that. He had not seen too many policemen in the station when he was brought in so he had thought of nothing but escape for the first few hours.
Escaping was not possible he had come to find out. He walked to the iron bars that closed him up in the cell. He touched them again. The iron bars were thick, they were not meant to be escaped from. He sighed and went back to sit on the concrete bench.
He had often wondered why people took their own lives. He always felt it was a cowardly thing to do, and he believed that anyone who committed suicide really deserved the death. He was not sure anymore. He did not see the reason for his life. He had done all the good he could and become as successful as he could be, yet he was going to jail for a crime he did not commit.
“Hey you!” He heard a voice call and he looked up. “You have a visitor and you have five minutes only and she can only talk to you from the other side of the metal barricade.”
He stood from his bench and walked forward.
“Eric…” It was his secretary – Pearl. “How did you know I was here?” He was surprised to see her.
“I found out and that doesn’t matter right now. I gave the cop just two thousand naira and that will soon expire.”
“Oh, why did you do that? I thought you were here to bail me out.”
“Bail you? Have you forgotten you jumped bail once? You are here until you go to court!”
He sighed and said. “How long is that going to take? I can’t survive here for long.”
“That is exactly why I am here.” She said and she began to smile. “You are going free Eric!”
“What? How? Why?” He asked, his eyes wide.
“One of the girls that was supposed to testify against you suddenly grew a conscience. She says she was paid to testify against you. Get this; she also witnessed the murder!”
“So what are we waiting for? Let’s get her to court immediately!” He said.
“We will be in court tomorrow! Your lawyer is making that happen right now. Eric, you could be cleared from all your charges tomorrow.”
“So, I’ll walk tomorrow? And I was beginning to have suicidal thoughts.” He said and started to pace.
“Suicide? Eric Adesesan considered suicide? Well, you are not in the clear yet. Even if the judge dismisses the case immediately, you will still have to be punished for jumping bail. What were you thinking anyway?”
“It’s a long story Pearl, you don’t want to hear it on your two thousand naira’s worth of time.”
“Whatever this long story is, please don’t let it happen tomorrow. If somehow you don’t show up tomorrow…”
“Hey, I’m in jail, where on earth am I going? I just hope…”
“Your time is up Madam!” The voice of the policeman rang from behind her. “Leave now or I will throw you in jail with him.”
“Eric, your lawyer will be here later, okay? I will see you in court tomorrow. I will, right?”
Eric nodded and smiled as she walked out. If he was able to leave the court on time, he could possibly still help Sango save the country.
He looked up and saw that the policeman at the desk had gone out after Pearl. It was the first time there was nobody watching him. He shrugged and returned to the bench. He was just about to sit when he heard footsteps in the hallway. Maybe a new policeman was coming to take over. The footsteps got closer and suddenly he began to feel nervous.
The steps got closer and then a man stepped out in front of him. The man wore a dark grey three-piece suit, a white shirt and a blue tie. He carried a bag in his left hand and the right hand was stuck in his pocket. Eric looked at the man curiously but the man ignored him. Was he a lawyer?
“Hello, who are you?” Eric asked.
The man looked at him for the first time and smiled. The smile sent chills down Eric’s spine. Who was this man? The man set his bag on the floor and unzipped it. He dipped his left hand into it and brought out a small black object. Eric’s heart was racing now as he looked closer; it was a gun!
Oh my God!
The man moved towards him and pointed the gun at his head.
“Who are you? Why are you killing me?” Eric asked with a weak voice. He had never felt so helpless.
“I bring greetings from the Professor.” The man said and put his hand on the trigger.
Eric closed his eyes and his legs gave way under him as he heard the man pull the trigger. He fell to the ground with pain in his chest. He put his hand on the spot – it was dry. He opened his eyes and looked all over himself. There was no blood! He looked up at where the man stood; he was leaning on the metal barricades with a hole in his head.
Eric jumped up and then he saw a man standing a few feet away from the body. He was a short and stocky man. He was putting a gun in the pocket of his leather jacket. The barrel of the gun seemed to have been bent backward. He moved closer to the metal rods and pushed away the assassin. He looked at the iron bars and he grabbed two of them and pulled them apart!
Eric backed away in shock! The man had pushed the rods apart as if they were made of candle wax. The man stretched his hands and beckoned him to come.
“Who are you and what are you doing?”
“My name is Ogun, the others are in danger, they need us now!”
Eric stared at him with his mouth open. Ogun- the god of Metals!
President Lange could feel his body shaking. He held his hands in front of his face and saw how visible his shaking was. His phone was ringing every minute but he had not picked any call. He considered switching it off but somehow he still held on to the hope that Shina will call him from Abuja to say he had found the real terrorist and that the news from Minna was just a rumour. But he knew the truth, he knew what he was doing was mere wishful thinking.
He picked up his phone; he had thirty four missed calls and seventy three messages. He knew all these calls were important and sooner or later he would have to talk to all these people but it was not time. He went to the messages and scrolled through the senders. Now he regretted giving so many people his private number. Many of the foreign ambassadors had called him, some of them would want to help but most of them will only make demands and put pressure on him.
He kept scrolling then paused. He had received a message from the Masked Terrorist! He clenched his teeth and opened the message.
I promised not to call and I won’t.
Whenever you decide your people do not deserve to die,
Call me and we will name our terms!
Lange placed the phone on his bed and walked away from it. He was done talking with him. He walked in front of the standing mirror beside his wife’s dresser and looked at his reflection. He looked old and weak. He could not say he had done great as president but he had gotten more than he asked for, more than he thought possible.
He walked away from the mirror and to his shoe cabinet. He picked a pair and wore them. He had sworn to be a president, even if he had no idea on what to do, the least he could do was to show his face in his office. He walked towards the door and then he remembered his phone. He was just picking up the phone when it began to ring. It was his wife.
He considered not talking to her until the solution was found for all the problems he had created for the nation. That way he would have something to say when he talked to her. He was not sure that would ever happen. He sighed and answered the call.
“Hello Susan.” He said.
“Mr. President, I’m sure you have heard about the darkness spreading in Minna. And in case you forgot, that is where your dear wife is!”
“I know Susan, I’m so sorry. I wish I could be there with you, I wish I could hold you in my arms and tell you everything will be okay. I’m so sorry Susan.”
“Well, you had your chance and you chose another woman.” She said and there was a brief silence. “Look Johnson, I did not call to fight. I just called to ask if you are making any attempt to rescue me.”
“Susan, I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know…” tears were already pooled in his eyes.
“So, you are doing nothing, right? Remember how you went all out for your mistress? You put the whole country – including your legitimate wife at risk for her. History won’t forget you – President Lange, the man who gave his all to save his mistress and left his wife to die. Goodbye Johnson, I hope you treat your next wife better.” She said and ended the call.
Lange looked at the phone and the tears poured down his face. He scrolled through his contacts and called the terrorist.
“I want to meet. I will send you the address and the rules of engagement.” He said and ended the call before the terrorist could reply.
He dialled the number of his Vice President, he picked at first ring.
“Mr. President, I have called you severally.”
“Listen to me carefully.” Lange began. “I was always going to hand over this presidency to you, although I thought it was going to be after eight years of working together. The next few hours will be critical and anything may happen. As soon as I can’t be reached for more than four hours, I want you to take over the presidency immediately! Even if they don’t make it official, they will still listen to you; they respect you as much as they respect me. Alhaji, the nation is counting on you, I am counting on you.” He ended the call without the Vice President saying a word.
He doubted that he deserved redemption for the harm he had caused the nation. The least he could do is to try and salvage what was left of his reputation, even if it meant losing his life.
He was tired of waiting but he was not sure if there was more he could do. Damola had sent the address of his location to Esu but he had not acknowledged receiving it neither had he answered any of his subsequent calls. Something had to be wrong.
He was in a hurry for him to come. And maybe his haste was more because of Anne than Esu. He wondered what she had been through or how she escaped. He looked at his watch again. The darkness had started to spread and he had no idea how long it would take it to mature. Once it did, it meant he was going to die along with the other residents of the city.
He had had enough. He crept out from behind a pile of logs where he had been hiding and slowly moved towards the house. Sarkin Aljan had stayed in the room with the portal since he arrived, he would have to fight and win him to get to the portal. He was not sure if it was a good idea to take on Sarkin Aljan but he knew he would have to fight him at a point; the earlier the better. As he crawled closer to the building he heard Sarkin Aljan talking to one of his men. He paused and listened.
“Tonight we meet the president. I expect him to hand over the country to us, his wife is here you know. Get everything prepared, we will make our broadcast from Abuja. Get me a big flag of Nigeria and then use…” The voice faded out.
Damola moved closer to the building and peeped inside, Sarkin Aljan had left the room. He heard the engine of a car start outside and he peeked; Sarkin Aljan was leaving with a few of his men.
This was his chance! He would get to destroy the portal without even fighting Sarkin Aljan. He rose to his feet and matched towards the building. Two of the guards noticed him and pointed their guns, he threw his right hand in their direction and they were hit by fire-bolts, they fell unconscious. He got to the edge of the building and paused. He peeped at the front of the building, there were five men there. Three of them were lying down on their backs on the floor, the other two held their guns combat ready. He raised right hand and shot two bolts of lightning at the two men carrying the guns, they fell down and one of their guns discharged. The other three stood and three lightning bolts hit them in quick succession. The men were all down. He shook his head, it was too easy.
He ran and quickly stepped into the building. The portal was working at full force now. There were several bright blue sparks and a few red ones. He could not get as close to the portal as he wanted because of the metal barricade Sarkin Aljan had installed. If he would stop the portal, it would have to be from behind the barricades.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, then he put his hand around the barricade. The fire came from both his hands and then he released it. He felt a pressure against his hands and he opened his eyes. The fire was stopping at the barricades; there was an invisible wall stopping it. He could not understand. He closed his eyes and tried again. The invisible wall resisted again and he pushed harder. He started to feel pain in his hand but he could not stop. There was no gain without pain, the nation needed him. He felt the pressure against his hand start to spread to his chest and his face but still he did not stop.
And suddenly, there was an explosion and he felt himself go up in the air. He crashed against the wall of the building and fell down in a heap. He could not hear anything but the hum of the portal. Pain enveloped his body, no part of him seemed to be functional. His eyes began to close but he struggled against it. Whatever happened, he had to be alive if and when Sarkin Aljan came back. Or else, he was as good as dead.