Previously on JUMAI
Mark felt something on the back of his head. He turned around slowly and he came face to face with Major and a gun on his head.
He looked at the girl with his shirt.
“Please help me talk to Baban, my friend’s name is Jumai.”
The girl nodded.
Murdered by a gunshot, it wasn’t a bad way to go. He closed his eyes and filled his mind with Jumai’s smile; it was the perfect way to go.
He heard the click of the slide and waited for the bullet to pierce through his skull.
“Major.” A voice called.
He waited a few more seconds and he felt the gun leave his head. He opened his eyes and saw Major putting his gun away.
“My friend, come.”
Mark looked in the direction of the voice and there he was; Baban. He was not white as Mohammed as suggested, he was Indian. Why would an Indian man be the drug lord in a Northern Nigerian village? It did not matter, the man just called him ‘friend’, that was a good sign. There was hope for him. There was hope for Jumai.
The girl gave him his shirt and he walked away from the disappointed crowd to Baban. The closer he came to Baban, the shorter he realized he was. Mention drug lord and Baban was not the picture that came to mind. How did he control his troop of lunatics, most of whom did not even speak English?
Mark stopped in front of his saviour and looked down at him, Baban frowned. Someone hit his leg from behind and he fell to his knees. Mark looked up at Baban, he was smiling now. The two obviously and heavily armed men behind him were smiling too.
“You are a long way from home my friend. What are you doing here?” Baban asked.
“My friend is missing and I have reason to believe that you have her.”
“Really?” Baban looked at the men beside him and they laughed. “Look around you, do you see her?”
Mark looked around. “No, I don’t see her.”
“So why would you believe I have her? Do we look like kidnappers to you?”
He wouldn’t put kidnapping past them but he couldn’t say that. “Not at all. I’m not accusing you of anything. But I beg you in the name of God, in the name of Allah, please just let me see her.”
Baban shook his head. “What is your name?”
“You are Yoruba boy? You are really far away from home.”
The man was from India, how could he be telling him he was far away from home? He could hear and tolerate anything as long as he stayed in his good books.
“This your friend that is missing, what is her name?”
“Jumai, her name is Jumai.” Mark shifted on his knees, he couldn’t stay like this forever. “Can I stand please?”
One of the men stepped towards Mark, his hands raised but Baban stopped him.
“Mark Ademola from faraway, come and let us talk about your friend.” Baban said and walked away.
Someone grabbed him from behind and pushed him after Baban. They went through a dark corridor and a door he didn’t see until they were right in front of it. Everything changed after the door; it was almost magical. Everything after the door was worlds apart from what he had seen outside. The room they entered into was large and well lit. It could have been the living room of a Senator. The electronic gadgets in here were state of the art, Mark could not help but stare.
Baban turned around to face him. “Do you like what you see Mark?”
“Yes.” He said. It was no wonder why this man was living so far away from his country.
“Please take a seat.” Baban said.
Mark looked behind and none of the people who followed had entered the room with them. It was just Baban and the two goons who now looked more like his friends than his guards.
Mark settled into one of the sofas, sitting on the edge; he wasn’t to forget why he was here for a second. A girl – who thankfully had some clothes on came into the room with a bottle of wine. She placed it in front of Baban and walked away.
“Come closer my friend, join me.”
“Thank you but I will be driving later so…” Mark saw Baban’s face and stopped. “Maybe I’ll take a glass.”
Mark switched to a chair closer to him and Baban poured him a glass. He was not one to drink alcohol but now wasn’t the time to be virtuous, he took a sip of the wine. He was not sure he was qualified to judge what good wine was but this tasted like great wine.
“You like it?” Baban asked.
“Oh yeah, it is great.” Mark said.
“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes, I want you to join me.”
“Thank you very much but can we please talk about my friend now?”
“Okay Mark. Why do you think I have your friend?”
Mark told him the story of Sule taking Jumai and the text Jumai sent to him.
“And you just came here thinking it was me?” Baban asked, a smile on his face.
“A boy – Sule’s brother told me about you.” He had completely forgotten about Sule. Was the boy even okay out there by himself?
“A boy? Mohammed?”
Mark sat forward in his chair. “You know him?”
“Suleiman and Mohammed, I knew them both. I always wondered what happened to them.”
“Are you saying Suleiman did not come here with Jumai?”
“I’m not the only called Baban in the world, you know right?”
Mark sank back into his chair, so he had wasted his time, fought an idiot and almost got killed for nothing? If Jumai wasn’t here, where was she? Who on earth was this other Baban?
“I’m interested in something you talked about, Suleiman having super strength. Can you tell me more about that? Did he take a drug or something?”
Of course Baban was interested in the drug. He could not afford to stay anymore though, if Jumai was somewhere else he needed to figure out where it was or at least return to the camp.
“Mark?” Baban broke into his thoughts.
“I’m sorry. We couldn’t tell for sure what happened or what kind of drugs he was on. Everything happened too fast and we more interested in finding Jumai than finding what drug Sule was on.”
“Please I’ll like to take my leave.”
“There was a man who came here a few days ago.” Baban continued like he didn’t hear Mark. “He said he was a doctor, he needed fake international passports; his family needed to leave the country undetected. That’s right, I can get you passports if you need to change your identity or anything like that.”
“I will remember that next time I’m feeling the country.” Mark said, he just wanted the man to finish his story.
“Apart from passports, I arrange help across the border. Helicopter service, boat escapes, anything you want.”
“Thank you Baban. Please continue the story of the doctor.”
“Oh right. The doctor did not have money because he claimed all his accounts were being monitored so he could not withdraw. He offered me something in exchange, something that sounds a lot like what you just described.”
Mark’s mind snapped back into action. “The drugs gives super strength?”
“He said so, he claimed to be the one who made it. But you will end up dying in less than forty eight hours. But it has commercial value when it is sold and used in smaller doses. You won’t have super strength but you will sure have strength. Some of my men have tried it. I myself don’t take drugs. If you are interested though, you can have some.”
“No, thank you.” Marks said.
Mark’s mind was on total autopilot now. What Baban was saying was great news for him. If he could find the person who made this drug then he could lead him to the person who bought it. Somewhere in that link he believed he would find whoever held Jumai.
“He said the drug was called kulunix and he promised it would make me a millionaire. Not that I am not one already.”
“Sure. Can I meet his doctor?”
“That can be arranged.” Baban said.
Mark smiled, he was going to find Jumai after all. “I will be grateful, I can finally find my friend. I will owe you for this Baban.”
“Owe me? I don’t really like people being in my debt.”
“If you want to do this as a favour, I will be eternally grateful to you.”
“Favour? I already saved your life, that’s enough favour for one day. You will have to pay if you want to meet the doctor.”
“Pay? I don’t have money with me.”
“Oh my friend, that is not good.” Baban said.
This would be a good time to have an expensive watch on but he was not even wearing any.
“I have money, I just don’t have it here.” Mark said. “Baban, please you have to help me here, Jumai’s life depends on it.”
“Do you have something you can deposit then?”
The car! “I have a car here, it is not mine but I can deposit it.”
“That would do. You will see Doctor Coker first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Tomorrow?” They would be worried sick at the camp, he needed to get back as soon as he could. “Can’t we meet him tonight?”
“Tomorrow morning.” Baban said and stood. “I won’t be able to eat dinner with you, I have to go and arrange the meeting. I hear there is a girl you like here, I will send her to stay with you overnight.”
“That won’t be necessary.” Mark protested.
“Is it a man you want?”
“Hell no. But please Mohammed has been outside for a long time, he needs food and a place to sleep too.”
“Oh right, I will have someone take care of him. And I will see you in the morning.”
“Thank you Baban.”
Baban nodded and left the room with his friends who Mark had totally forgotten about.
He was not sure he could sleep, he was not sure Jumai would be sleeping either. It was the second night was spending with whoever the other Baban was. He hoped they were just holding her for ransom. He stretched out on the chair; he was too tired to stay awake. He knew he was not going to wake up still tired because the fear and tiredness would only continue into his dreams.
Baban looked at his watch, it was almost nine pm and Mark was not back. Nobody knew where he went; that was not good. What if this guy found out who he was? He would be hunted by the government and arrested but that wasn’t even his biggest problem. The three men who had bankrolled this project were no nonsense people who would not hesitate to terminate him if they thought he could give them away. And of course they would assume he would give them away which meant he would have less than two hours to live.
He looked at his watch again, he didn’t want to show his panic but he could not help it.
“Professor Tanko, I didn’t know you were still around.”
Baban looked outside his car, it was Doctor Aderoju. He put on his best smile.
“How can I go? First Jumai, now Mark? I’m not even sure what’s going on anymore.”
“One of the cars is missing, we believe Mark took it so we assume he is safe. Jumai is our priority right now.”
Of course she was. She was the daughter of the rich man, Mark was just an employee.
“I hope they are both fine.”
A loud noise erupted some distance from where they were.
“What was that?” Baban asked.
“I need to check it out.” Doctor Aderoju said and ran towards the noise.
Was it another Suleiman incident? He wanted to see what was going on but he needed to be able to escape in case someone bad was going down. He walked a few metres towards the noise and looked into the darkness. He was not sure if what he was seeing was right but he was seeing men being kicked into the air. Was this the super strength they were talking about? And this wasn’t just one person.
Someone came running from the direction of the melee; it was Doctor Aderoju.
“What’s going on there?” Baban asked.
“Professor Tanko, you may need to leave.”
“What is going on?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it except in movies.”
“Doctor, what are you saying?”
“Have you seen Hulk, the movie? They are not as big or as green but they are as strong.”
Baban didn’t know what this Hulk was but he had a pretty good idea of what the Doctor was talking about.
“What are you going to do now?”
“We have soldiers here with rubber bullets, hopefully that would help.”
Someone ran towards them from the direction of the fight; it was one of the volunteers. He saw Doctor Aderoju and stopped.
“Sir, the rubber bullets are not affecting them. They have killed one soldier already and they are now switching to live ammunition.”
“No, they can’t do that!” Doctor Aderoju shouted.
Baban walked away from them slowly towards his car. This was super; the kulunix was in full effect. This was when the money was to be made, he needed to call the general; it was time for him to call the NSA. He could forget Mark for now, they had to maximise the brouhaha that was about to hit the camp.
Mark paced in the room, he was tired of waiting. The doctor was supposed to be here now and Baban had made himself scarce since the previous night. He was tired and worried. He had spent his night doing more of worrying than sleeping, it wasn’t too different from what he expected. But he had patiently endured it believing that it would all be over this morning when he saw Doctor Coker.
The door opened and a man entered.
“Where the hell is Baban and the doctor I was supposed to meet this morning?” Mark shouted at the man.
“I am Doctor Coker.” The man said.
He sighed. “Finally. Please sit, I need to ask you some questions.”
The Doctor sat. “I was told your friend was kidnapped by a Baban.”
“Yes, she was. Do you know who this Baban is?” Mark asked and the doctor hesitated. “Please sir, my friend has been with him for two days now, anything could be happening right now.”
“I know who Baban is.” The doctor said. Mark could see the anger in his face.
“Who is he please? If you tell me I can have him arrested.”
“Arrested? You don’t arrest people like him because they will be out in a few seconds, you kill them.” The anger was boiling over now. “That bastard killed my son and threatened my family.”
“I’m sorry about your son. I can help you get justice for your son if you tell me who he is.”
“Okay.” The doctor said. “His name is Professor Tanko, he is…”
“Professor Tanko? I know him. He is the one holding Jumai?”
“If you want to do anything about him you have to move fast.”
Doctor Coker told him about the kulunix and what would happen if the men in the camp used it. They would kill a lot of people but all die in less than forty eight hours like Baban had told him.
“Those men will die through no fault of their own.” Mark said.
“Yes, after they have killed a lot of people.”
“You made the drug, isn’t there an antidote?”
The doctor paused for a while. “There is an antidote but it’s never been used. I haven’t even tested it but there’s a good chance it will work.”
“You have to come then, we can’t just let these people die.”
“Come?” Doctor Coker chuckled. “There’s no way. As soon as I get my passports from Baban, I’m leaving the country with my family.”
“Look, the people who are behind Professor Tanko are very strong, I cannot risk staying here till they find me. And they will if I stay any longer.”
“So, what now?”
“I will give you the antidote, it is up to you what you do with it.”
“Do you know where I can find Professor Tanko? Where is his hideout?”
“I’ll write you an address for where I know but I cannot guarantee that that’s where your friend is being held.”
He heard footsteps at the door and Baban entered.
“My friend.” He said with a big smile. “I’m sorry I’ve been away but I see you two have met.”
“Yes we have.” Mark said.
“Okay then, as soon as you want to leave you let me know. We have sold your Hilux but…”
Mark shot to his feet. “What?”
“That was our agreement but because you are my friend, I have left a small car for you to travel with.”
“I didn’t say you should sell the car! I said I would deposit it.”
“Then how will you go home?” Baban asked, looking all self-righteous. “I did what was best for us. You have seen the doctor, I have my money and you will still get home – you will have to refill the radiator every thirty minutes, but it will get you home.”
Mark balled his fist and stilled himself. All he needed was to get back to camp with all the new information he had. If it meant being duped by a drug dealer and driving an almost dead car, then he would endure it all.
Hold on Jumai, I’m coming for you.