Mark opened his eyes and immediately shut it. The light hurt his eyes and worsened the banging in his head. Where was he? He opened his eyes slightly and looked around; he was in the infirmary. Why was he here? He leaned forward and his sight swayed. He paused for a few seconds then sat up on the bed. The infirmary was empty. Why was he…? Jumai! He jumped to his feet, his head reeled with pain and stumbled towards a wall. He held on to the wall and moved towards the door.
He pushed the door halfway open and heard voices, he paused and peeped. The corridor was empty. He opened the door and walked down the corridor. The voices were coming from the office at the end of the corridor, he stopped just before the window of the room and listened.
“There’s no way I’m waiting for the police; that is my daughter.”
That had to be Jumai’s father. She is missing? The drugged man took her? Mark leaned against the wall and for a while could not hear the words being said inside the room. What had happened in that hostel? Why did that man seem to have superpowers? What has he done to Jumai with his superpowers? His heart raced. Why was he here doing nothing?
He groped the wall, moved to the door, pushed it open and entered. The men in the room looked up at him.
“Mark?” It was his boss. “How are you?”
“Is this the man?” Jumai’s father asked.
“Yes sir.” Doctor Aderoju answered. “He was there when your daughter was taken.”
“What did you see? What happened?” One of the men Mark did not recognize asked.
Mark reached for a chair and sat.
“I need water.” He said but none of the men moved. They were not used to serving others.
“Mark, answer the gentleman.” Doctor Aderoju said. “What did you see?”
“I need water.” Mark said.
Doctor Aderoju walked to a refrigerator in the corner of the room and brought a bottle of water. He handed the water to Mark and he gulped down the contents of the bottle.
“So?” The man who asked the question earlier, said.
Mark cleared his throat weakly. “A man took Jumai. They called him Sule.”
“Sule Ahmed, he is the only one not accounted for in the camp.” Doctor Aderoju said.
“Did he kill the others all by himself?” Professor Tanko who he had not noticed before asked.
“Yes he did.”
“How is that even possible?”
“I don’t care!” Jumai’s father said. “I need to find my daughter now!”
“A helicopter…” Mark said.
“If you get an helicopter you can cover more ground.”
“I can get a helicopter.” Professor Tanko said.
“What if they are under a roof or tree or something?” Doctor Aderoju said.
“We already have people conducting the search on the ground, don’t we?” Jumai’s father said.
“Yes.” Professor Tanko said. “Mr Dongo has led out the search party.”
“Get the helicopter please Professor.”
Professor Tanko nodded, pulled out his phone and walked out the room.
“What happened back there Mark? Why were you in the hostel area?”
Mark wish he knew the answer to the former question. It had been on his mind before he had been knocked out. Why was the man so strong? Did he truly knock the man through the wall?
“Sorry, we heard loud noises from the hostel area and decided to check what was responsible.” Mark said.
“And you allowed my daughter go?”
Mark wished he had not allowed Jumai follow him. It did not matter what these men were doing, he was going to find her himself. Mark stood.
“Where are you going?” Doctor Aderoju asked.
“I have a terrible headache sir, I need to lie down.”
Did he have a headache? Yes. Was he going to lie down? No.
Baban dialled Dongo as soon as he left the room, he needed to find that girl before anybody found her. More importantly he needed to find the man who had her. The kulunix was causing a stir and he was happy but he did not like the fact this was an isolated incident. It was not getting the attention they needed from the government. One girl stolen by one man was nothing despite her influential father. An American team killed by hundreds of wild men on the other hand would get the attention of the world.
Dongo answered the call.
“Any signs of them yet?” Baban asked.
“Signs, yes but we have not sighted them yet.”
“How far away from you do you think they are?”
“I’m not sure sir. They were moving very fast but looks like he’s slowing down now.”
“Okay, remember what I said.” Baban looked around, there was nobody. “Kill the men that are not ours. Nobody must know we found the girl.”
“Copy sir.” Dongo said.
Baban ended the call. This kidnap was not part of the plan but it could help. The girl’s father was rich and influential; news would travel fast about the killings in the IDP camp once it started.
He got to his car and entered. The driver started the car and they headed out of the camp. There was something confusing him though, why was only one person reacting to the drug? Surely he wasn’t the only one who took it. He needed to talk to Doctor Coker again.
He dialled the number, it was switched off. That was strange; he had told Doctor Coker to keep his line open at all times. He dialled the office phone; no one answered. Something was wrong.
His phone rang, it was Dongo.
“You found them?”
“We found her sir.”
“And the man?”
“We are yet to find him.”
Baban sighed, he needed the man too. “Look for him but I need to pick up the girl now.”
“I will send our coordinates to your driver. I’ll be waiting at the road just ahead.”
“Alright. Is the girl okay?”
“That’s great, I don’t want her seeing my face.”
Dongo paused. “Are you letting her go?”
“No.” Baban said. “But I don’t want to take any chances. Find the man and let’s wrap this up.”
“Have you heard from Doctor Coker?”
“Coker? No. Why?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
Doctor Coker had played his part, he didn’t have much to offer but he was loose end. He hated loose ends. Coker knew too much and he could produce the kulunix for others, that was bad for business, he needed him dead once and for all. He would deal with that once he settled this girl’s business.
Twenty minutes later he was parked by the road waiting on Dongo and his men. They came, one of them carrying the girl over his shoulder and another carrying someone else on his shoulder. Baban came out of the car to meet them.
“Put the girl in the car with me.” Baban said. “Is this the man?”
They set the man on the floor. He didn’t look like the man he had heard about. He was thin, emaciated even. His face was squeezed, there was no way anyone could recognize him. His body was perfectly still. Was he dead?
“Is he dead?” Baban asked.
“No, he is almost dead though.”
Something major was wrong with the kulunix. The men were not supposed to die just a few hours after taking it. If they died this fast he could not sustain a war. He really needed to find Doctor Coker.
“Get him to Coker’s lab fast.” Baban said. “I want him alive.”
“What do we do about the search? They are still waiting at the camp.”
It was true and it was only a matter of time before they found the bodies of the men who joined the search.
“You have to go back and feign an attack. Tell them the man who carried Jumai attacked you, killed some and ran away with the girl. That should buy me time to set my plan in motion.
Baban returned to his car and looked at the girl. She was pretty, almost pretty enough to make him change his mind about killing her. She was stirring. He cupped her cheek in his palm as she opened. She would be the prettiest girl he had ever killed.
Mark moved through the hostel corridors. The atmosphere was still subdued, they had lost three of their children that day. A hurried burial had been done for the dead boys but the halls wouldn’t be quieter if the bodies were still lying in the sand. He was sure they would want to be left alone but he couldn’t. He needed to find Jumai. He had questions and he needed answers.
He knocked on the door of the room that had belonged to the late Aliyu and the missing Sule. There was no answer. He pushed the door and entered. On the lower bunk of one of the beds laid the man Sule had dropped to go after Jumai. He did not look up when Mark entered. Mark moved close to him and sat on his bed.
“Are you okay?” Mark asked.
The man’s eyes looked glazed and lost, Mark wasn’t even sure he could hear him.
The room was empty; the other occupants must have moved to other rooms; he couldn’t blame them. He already heard someone say among the crowd who watched what Sule did say that he was possessed by a powerful demon. If any such demon existed it would not be safe to stay in the room where it possessed their friend.
It was hopeless trying to get anything out of this man. He stood and headed for the door. He heard a movement on the top of the bunk where the man lay and turned to look. A small boy was lying on the bed, very close to the wall. He knew the boy, he was the one who spoke to him when the fight was on.
Mark beckoned to the boy and he climbed down from the bed.
“What is your name?” Mark asked.
“Mohammed.” The boy said.
“Is this your room?”
The boy nodded.
That was not right. Boys of Mohammed’s age were not supposed to be in the same room as Sule and Aliyu.
“You know Sule and Aliyu?”
“Sule na my brother.” Mohammed said.
“Where you come from?”
“From here, inside bush. I don come before, Sule come three days ago.”
Sule was part of the new batch admitted into the camp. Most of the men who came in newly were very malnourished and sickly. It was strange that Sule had shown so much strength if he came in weak and dying.
“Wetin do Sule?”
The boy dropped his eyes. “I no know oga. He dey sleep before, Aliyu dey wake am na so he angry beat am.”
“He was sleeping?” This wasn’t making sense. “Sule dey smoke?”
The boy did not answer; Sule probably did. It was against the rules to smoke in the room, smokers had to go far away from the hostels. The boy was trying to protect his brother. Smoking was the least of his concerns at the moment, he needed to know what gave Sule his super strength.
“Where Sule bed?” Mark asked.
The boy pointed to the bed he had climbed down from. Mark climbed up and sat on the bed. It was laid properly, he wasn’t sure if this was the work of Sule or Mohammed. On the bed was a brown paper bag, he opened it and emptied the contents on the bed. There was a bottle of *ROBB* and a tube of mosquito repelant. There was a pack of cigarettes and the antibiotics supplied by Professor Tanko. There were some small items also, nothing of note. He put everything back in the bag. If there was something to be found, it wasn’t in that bag.
He jumped down from the bed. He had not found his answer here, he had no idea where to go to next. He looked back at the paper bag, maybe there was more to what he had seen. Maybe he had dismissed it all too soon. He grabbed the bag.
“Mohammed, I go return the bag.” He said to the boy. “I want to check something.”
He dipped his hand in the bag and removed the antibiotics, he handed it to the boy; that did not need testing.
He exited the room. It was dark now. The later it got the less chance they had of finding Jumai. The men who went to search for her had returned – some of them had. If Sule had killed the men like they said, Jumai had no chance. He shook his head, he could not bear to think that way. Sule wasn’t in his right mind, surely that would change. He would get off his high and realise what he had done and return Jumai.
Or maybe Jumai was dead.
He shuddered at the thought. She was fine, she had to be. His phone vibrated, he had a text. He removed the phone from his pocket and checked.
It was Jumai. The text read;