This is an excerpt of my work. I might post it one after the other, but it would be weekly and would be stretched and would have so many breaks within.
The book is out.
Ready for your consumption.
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At different times, some people saw visions of hell and heaven. Suddenly, someone starts kidnapping them and killing some of them. Nosa is given the responsibility of searching for them. He is forced to do this amidst the love dramas in his own life.
Mystery & detective
A DREAD IN THE SPINE
They saw visions. Now, they are being kidnapped.
A Thriller Novel
© Copyright, 2018 Akintayo Akinjide
Cover Design by Imasetng
Editor: Glory-Anna Oshafi
Other Books By Akintayo Akinjide
-Grabbing the Hot Gate
– Purified Tomorrow: The Mad Awakening
The story happened in Fortunecity, a private island in Nigeria. In The Year 2016.
The private Island is divided to Greencity, Brownvalley, Blacktown, and Suncity.
1 A Grand Reunion
Nosa checked the message that made his phone vibrate and hissed.
Nosa Obaigbenwen answer your phone. A lot is at stake. People are dying. Money is involved. Huge money. And you need to save the world. – Mr. Johnson Owojobi.
Nosa hissed again as he pocketed his phone and banged on the door. ‘Let me in’.
‘No. You’re a pastor’s son, Moriah yelled from within the house.
‘Let me in’, Nosa shouted as he stared at the make of the door and repeatedly pulled the doorknob. On a normal day, he would have kicked it in, but he wouldn’t want to do anything reckless in her presence anymore.
‘No. You’re not coming in. Hop away and be a good boy before your bee of a father comes to pull your ear and drag you away’.
‘Moriah, open this door’, he said through clenched teeth. ‘Open this d…Open this door’.
‘Nosa, you’re not coming into my house. Haven’t I given you space enough? Don’t want you in my life’.
‘Never. I know you do. I know you just want to be like your all-righteous reverend father. You want to be a bee like him. No. You shouldn’t be like your father. Your mighty-in-holiness father’.
‘You see? You…see? We are pastors’ children for Pete’s sake and shouldn’t be seen together. Not the way you want’.
Nosa backed the door and slid down to the ground. There was no way he would leave her compound without seeing her. She was the reason he was still sane and still went to church regularly. For eight years, the only prayer on his lips and the only desire in his heart were to have her back. Thinking about her had invaded him and his marriage, and the intensity of his matrimonial rough bed.
‘Why did you leave the gate ajar if you were bent on not seeing me? You would have shut it the moment you saw me. You wanted me. We both know that’.
He hit the back of his head on the door repeatedly and waited for her response. His phone rang. He brought it out of his pocket, saw the name of the caller, and hissed: Mr. Johnson was calling his private line again. That could only mean one of two things: there was a mini-war somewhere in someone’s life or something beyond the Police’s control was happening. He should pick up the call, but he wasn’t in the mood to listen to the words of anyone that wasn’t Moriah.
If the police were that desperate, all they had to do was to call-back Shayla: his mistress, their most respected investigator, who was on probation for torturing a witness. The Fortunecity Police Force was such that didn’t allow mishandling of suspects. According to the Inspector General, Keisha Olajoju, the private island would be a role model to the Nigerian Police as a whole. So, Shayla had to be placed on probation for such act.
Seeing that Mr. Johnson’s disturbance was getting to its height, Nosa changed the phone’s audio profile to vibration.
‘Moriah, you have to open this door. You are not your father. You’re not a Bee. I know’.
‘Nosa, an apple doesn’t fall far from its tree. I want to be recognized as a Pastor’s daughter. I started changing my lifestyle. I love my Bee’s way now’.
‘No, you don’t. Open this door’.
He sat still, expecting her to open the door. She was assertive, but, he knew she would budge. She always did. Maybe never to others, but to him, she always did.
‘Nosa. I’m the bad child here. We both know that. My own Bee calls me Jezebel. Can you imagine that? A father calling his own daughter Jezebel. Even your Bee called me a whore; that I came to destroy your life. He said… What was that he said…? Err… Yes… “How did you find me?”’
Nosa remembered the day his father called Moriah a whore, he felt like removing the old man’s teeth and ramming them down his throat. Whenever they talked, his father still always rejoiced that he married Chloe and not Moriah. But, Moriah was his choice and she would forever be. She had lived in his heart ever since he knew her, and would remain in his heart till he gave up the ghost. In his heart, he had built a mansion for her. Every other lady that came into his life had lived in the quarters of this mansion, but would never be allowed to take a single peek at the interior of the mansion.
‘I will put the man to death one day. One shot to the head, and one to the chest. To take him away. I’m not like my Bee of a father. You know me… Moriah… You…know…me’.
‘Nosa, you have a wife, Chloe. She is good for you. She is even rich. Damn rich. She is good for you. I’m not the type of woman for you. I heard she is buying all the lands in the Fortunecity. That’s a good woman for you. I never was. I never will be. Both of our parents saw it, and they made sure we weren’t together. They knew I would ruin your life. I wouldn’t want you to go to church regularly, and they were right’.
‘I wouldn’t want to go church before too. Who cares about the secret abode of hypocritical Christians?’
‘You see? That’s what I’m saying’.
‘Don’t tell me that crap. Our parents didn’t run away. Did they? They weren’t the ones that spent a lifetime to escape from me. The only time I saw you was when my children died’.
His phone rang again. Mr. Johnson was calling again. He returned the phone to his pocket.
‘Nosa, my boyfriend would soon be here. Do you know I have a boyfriend? An actual boyfriend. Not virtual reality’.
‘Let me see you and I’ll leave’.
‘No. Don’t want to see you…’
‘You’ve seen me today’.
‘Didn’t you see the way I ran back inside the house when I saw you? It could only mean one thing – Don’t want to see your onerous, reckless face’.
He was angry at her right now. He got up, rested his head on the door, and banged the door repeatedly. ‘Mo…Ri…Ah… Open this door’.
He rested on it, and they were both thrown into an awkward silence. There was no way he would leave without seeing her, touching or even hugging her. Then, Mr. Johnson called again. Whatever the Police force was calling him for was definitely big. And he knew Mr. Johnson, he esteemed his money and his time over any agent. If Nosa didn’t pick up his calls, he would pass the job to someone else. However, there was no way Nosa would receive any call or even leave that place until she opened the door. What was money when one’s mind wasn’t in the business of making it?
For eight years, he had searched everywhere for her. But, since she was the most-wanted hacker in Fortunecity, it was easy for her to erase all of her information, and everything that pertained to her. He had spent a lot of money on searching for her and would have continued doing so if they didn’t find her. Her father, after two years, believed she was dead, but Nosa never gave up on her. He hired a lot of computer geeks, who kept doing his bid, to find her. But to no avail.
So, when one of them called him that morning that he got wind of her, Nosa left his breakfast in a hurry as if he was being chased by a police dog. When he got to her place, he knocked the door repeatedly, and then he hid behind walls. His informant had told him about the number of cameras focused on the street and the house. So, it was easy to start spotting the hideous gate, which he escaped like he did those crazy traps she used to set for their practices and games when they were still together years before; before he finally proposed to her and asked for her hand in marriage.
When she got to the gate, she was looking perplexed, but he remained in hiding, watching her and hoping she wouldn’t run away like the criminals he always chased before he quit being regarded as a policeman.
‘Wow…’ she said as she looked everywhere in the street. ‘Whoever you are, you are very good. How you did it that all my cameras didn’t even catch a shadow of you is intriguing. I know someone that was reckless but could still manage to escape all cameras. He was good at counter surveillance, and I would give him the credit for that any day. Yet, he can’t find me right now. So whoever you are, let me see your smelly face. At least, to know who could beat Nosa’s record’.
He waited a bit and watched her top hour-glass, almost red, body shift from side to side. She didn’t change a bit in her dressing. Her artificial long lashes blinked repeatedly, making him wish he could run to her and hug her like a baby, whose mother was returning from a long journey. Her hair was cut into a Galaxy style of low-cut, with the middle portion dyed gold, and a parting adorning the side of the hair. She wore a very short black skirt and an armless yellow blouse that had the drawing of a tongue sticking out of a mouth. Those were enough to make her look sultry, but she loved to make it very glaring. Her lips were brushed with a little pink lipstick.
For some unfathomable reason, she just felt it would do her no good if the world knew her as a geek. She preferred to be termed a bimbo, sassy, or prostitute. But being seen as a geek, wearing glasses, or having a drooling look wasn’t her thing.
After watching her for a while playing with her black choker with her hand that was adorned with a wing bracelet, Nosa swaggered out. Upon seeing him, she screamed and sprinted into the house. He pursued her, making sure he bolted the gate behind him. Since then, he had been trying to gain entrance into the house.
After a while of refusing to open the door for him, she opened the door and rushed to hug him. She giggled as she did so. He also smiled. Then, he planted a kiss on her lips.
‘Nosy’, she whispered as she kissed him as if the meteors from the skies were burning the earth, and they were having their last kiss. ‘You are turning to a bad person. You’re married. You shouldn’t be kissing me. I don’t want that for you. I want you to be good’.
‘I thought we reserved being good for Chloe’.
Moriah swallowed hard and wanted to continue talking about how he was recklessly throwing the perfect world he had, but he placed a finger on her lips. Nosa wasn’t ready to think of anything or anyone. At that time, he wanted to be a zombie or like a member of an agitated crowd- he wanted to be led by his desire. He lifted her, and carried her into the room, to the bed. She was definitely going to hold him bound there with her ravenous way of kissing. He was ready to give up the world for her.
However, the moment he climbed the bed after her, her phone rang from the other end of the room. She paused, panting hard. They stared into one another’s eyes for a few seconds.
‘I know that ringtone. I have to answer this call’, she said as she rolled off his body. For the first time since they entered, he noticed that she had unbuttoned his red checked-shirt.
‘Don’t… It’s like that bottle of urine’
‘Yuck! When did you become Raphael?’
‘I never became Raphael, we only changed roles. He became me’.
‘Yes, he suddenly became the bad boy and you turned to a good daddy’s boy because of Mr. King’s daughter, which is good for you anyways’.
‘Maybe you’re right. But if you pick up that call you will be opening that bottle of urine’, he said as he pulled her hand. It was soft and was worth holding till eternity.
‘Have to go’, she muttered and let her hands slip off his, and inhaled louder.
All of them in the clique could never forget the bottle of urine. When he first met Chloe during their secondary school days, they all loved her because she was the only daughter of a flamboyant and wealthy father, unlike their own fathers. Despite their own fathers’ wealth, despite being the children of respected, popular and rich Pastors, they weren’t given enough pocket-money to their school. Nosa’s father even made sure he gave him the same amount as that of the son of the poorest woman in his church. His father ensured Nosa was with him, when he jokingly asked the woman, who was too happy to reply such question, the amount she gave her son as feeding allowance.
At the advent of Chloe’s immaculate arrival, she was generous and lavished them with the money her wealthy father gave them, which they all loved. However, when Nosa began to hang out more with her than with Raphael and Moriah, Raphael decided to teach him a big lesson.
He urinated in an opaque bottle, sealed the bottle with shoe gum, and hid it for two weeks. When he was sure he would get the effect he needed, he excitedly handed the bottle to Nosa, telling him to check out his newest experiment. Raphael wasn’t known for conducting experiments. So when he received the wrapped bottle from him, Nosa was excited that his friend was finally becoming dedicated to something other than fantasizing about girls that he was too timid to talk to. More so, he would have never suspected that Raphael would be capable of doing such crazy things since Nosa was the one with the evil schemes. When he opened the bottle and was faced with the content of the bottle, he yelled in horror. The stench made him feel like vomiting his intestine, so he recklessly dumped the bottle on the floor. Everyone around ran away, including Chloe.
‘That’s for deserting your friends’, Raphael shouted as he and Moriah ran away, giggling. Later that night, they all made out and laughed at people’s reaction.
He smiled on the bed as he reminisced about the event of that day. However, as Moriah returned from making the call, he knew from her face that something was wrong. She picked her cloth and wore it.
‘I told you, it’s a bottle of urine.’
‘Yes…My boyfriend is your opaque bottle of urine. He is coming’.
‘Tell him I’m here with you’, Nosa said as he began to button his shirt.
‘To gain what? To what end? I don’t do married men. I can’t lose in two ways’.
‘I can leave all that for you. I can leave Chloe, my bee, my blind, loyal mother, and my siblings. I will leave them all’.
‘That’s rash, reckless and… If you do that, my eight years of running away from you would be in vain or what are you talking about?’
‘But I can. I just want to marry you. I didn’t say I won’t wait. I asked you to marry me, didn’t I? But, you said no…’
‘Yet, you won’t leave me. You didn’t follow your heart to Chloe. She was your choice. You need to be with her’.
‘Are you mocking me? So, you seriously thought the best option was to run away?’
She straightened her cloth and turned away from him to watch her desktop computers beep continuously. There was no way he would understand what she loved about programming and all the stuff that followed it. It was too boring. The only thing he loved about computer was the action and crime games, which she made him love.
She turned towards him as she grabbed her makeup bag. ‘I did the right thing. It’s time to go’.
‘Don’t give me that crap. You could have asked for…’
‘I’m not getting younger. That’s by the way, I’m going shopping for Christmas’.
His phone rang, and this time it was Chloe calling. Only a few people had that number and they knew it was his emergency number.
‘Chloe…?’ He said as he hurriedly picked the call.
‘Mr. Johnson had been trying to find you?’
Moriah mouthed that he shouldn’t let her know that she was near him.
‘I sense this would be another big explosive case. If you need any money just tell me’.
‘Yes dear’, he said as he disconnected the call. She never cared about the money he would rake into the family’s account. She had the money to feed hundreds of generations from their family. The only thing she had always wanted for him was to have the name, the popularity as one of the best private investigator in town. She hoped to help him achieve his dream of starting a world known Private investigating company. But, as he told her, he loved all of his team working in the shadow, and not displayed like a signboard.
He dialed Mr. Johnson’s number and listened to him ramble about how he had been trying to reach him all this while. Moriah was bent on her computer, and she pointed five fingers at him to indicate that he had five minutes left to leave her house. He nodded as he moved towards the door.
‘We have a job for you. It’s a big pay. Some organizations are coming together to pay big and I thought it had to be you. You will get what we need within a few days. I don’t know how you do it but you just do’, Mr. Johnson said the moment their phone got connected. Those were some of the reasons he loved Mr. Johnson – he was always hungry for the money, and always had a way of making the agents working for him feel they were the best in the world.
‘I know. How much is your cut this time?’
‘Ah ahn! You’re too blunt. As if I live my life for the money’.
‘As if your blood is not made of currency’.
‘I don’t. I live to save lives. If I live for the money, I would have been the kidnapper and the company to find them. But no. I work honestly and have the best sets of guys at my beck and call’.
‘How much are we talking about here?’
‘Let me talk to the people myself’.
‘No… You talk to me. They think I’m the investigator. You talk to me. Thirty percent is not too much’.
‘That’s because they are all fools. Or I’ll send hackers to get the message off your phone, and probably leave a lot of viruses to tell you that you can’t be reaping off people all year while staying in your office, growing bigger than the world’s population’.
‘Nosa Obaigbanwen… You don’t want to try rubbish with me. You don’t want to try it. I’m a typical Nigerian. I will show you the true meaning of life. What’s always wrong with you men, you don’t even trust us, your agents, again?’
‘Just say something’, Nosa said as he walked out of the house, and sighted Chloe’s bicycle parked in a corner. A lot of memories flooded back and brought a smile to his lips as he remembered how they all would race with their different bicycles. He had a feeling that in a short while he would make his way back to Chloe’s house, the bedroom, and probably her life.
‘Two million naira’.
‘Tell me the truth’.
‘Do you see me as a joker? I’m a businessman, I don’t joke with my time, my life with anything. I tell the truth’.
‘I know. And such lifestyle would kill you soon. Just tell me the truth’.
‘It’s two million’.
‘What the… You mean to say… What are we looking for?’
‘Have you being following the news?’
‘That implies that you have been tracking the cases of the kidnapping of some people’.
‘Yes. Chloe had been feeling really sad for them’.
‘Yes. I feel their pain. I understand her own pain too. I’m sorry about those beautiful women being kidnapped. I cried too, you know. I cried. They should have brought this case to us soon. I cried that the world is not seeing what we at Eagle Eyes can do. That they are neglecting our help. It’s such people that neglect God almighty. But at least, they came back to their senses. That is where we come in. They called me. I was happy at last. We would be the hero. You, Nosa, would be their knight in shining armor’.
‘That’s what you always wanted. You are nothing but a…’
‘Your money bag… Be calm and let me finish my sentence. Don’t be rude to your source of wealth’.
‘Provide the details’.
‘I’ll send the details to your email. The name of the recent one is Victoria Akachi Amadi… She saw heaven too and has just been kidnapped. You need to be her prince in shining armor, and remember, whose company and name you are representing. They are paying us to find all the missing women. Bear our flag. Let them know Eagle Eyes Security is the best’.
Nosa hissed and disconnected the phone. Moriah hurried after him as he trudged away. Then he remembered the bike, turned and pointed at it. She turned towards the place he pointed to, turned to him, smiled, and covered her face. Then, she winked and burst into their favorite song- ‘Four Years’ by Nigerian musicians ‘Stylplus”.
‘Yeah! Seriously. Oh! I miss those days’.
‘How’s Chloe by the way?’
‘Chloe is there. Reverting to her corner’.
‘Hiding in her Chloeset’, Moriah said and nodded. ‘What of her psychiatrist, she still sees him, right?’
‘Not for long now’.
‘Well, Mr. King is dead’.
‘Even before his death’.
When he got to the gate, he turned to plant a kiss on her lips, but she withdrew. ‘Don’t come back to this house this week. You’re married. I have a boyfriend and we are both doing fine’.
‘No, we are not. We are two stupid lonely fools, who couldn’t leave their deceptive life to enter the real ones. We are DiCaprio, we are living in our inception, in a dream…’
‘At most, twice a month’
‘Twice a week…’
She stared at him longingly. ‘Twice a week and nothing more. Not even a friendly call. Must we even see?’
‘Not necessarily. I will just have to call you daily’.
‘‘Kay. I support two days. And as for Raphael, I haven’t forgiven him’.
‘Me too. I can’t take the news off my mind. The next time I see him I’ll let him know he has no right to see you’.
She shook her hands at his face as if she wanted to smash his face with the hands. ‘I was invariably telling you not to let him know where I stay, that I’m back’.
Nosa nodded and winked as he hurried to where his IVM Fox- made by Innoson – a Nigerian, was parked. It was high time he went home. Just as he entered the car, someone shouted from the end of the street. ‘Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand. Heaven and hell are real. The end time is near. Get your copy of this vision about hell. You need to see how people are dealing with sins. Come to Jesus’.
‘Indeed’, Nosa murmured and started the car and hissed.
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Moriah slumped on the door to her house when she returned to it and slid down to the rug, smacking her lips repeatedly. It took her a great effort not to jump over Nosa the first time she saw him that day. Every moment of the eight years of living away from him, she had had to restrain herself from typing his name into her giant computers because he had warned her right from the time that he never ever wanted her to be his guiding angel and that was her fault. With the level at which she tracked everything about him, he had to tell her to stop. Those days, she was always calling him whenever someone was following him for more than ten minutes. She had set her computer’s algorithm to take minute-count of everyone around him, and she got a beep the moment anyone had spent more than ten minutes around him.
Seeing him alone made memories crowd her head as she remembered those days on the road, together in the university, the rituals, the little fights, and the fun they shared. She burst into tears and shook her head. If she hadn’t been stupid, she wouldn’t have lost him to Chloe.
As she was still deep in her thought, someone knocked again. She sighed and hissed as she flung the door open, moving all cylinders to the gate. Nosa was back again after she told him, her boyfriend was on the way. Although she had friend-zoned Dennis, she preferred to flaunt him as her boyfriend, any day, anytime. Luckily, he also kept at being called her boyfriend, with the hope of her agreeing to be his girlfriend, which was totally impossible.
As she marched towards the gate, she jigged and chuckled. Then, she inhaled and made sure she stabilized herself and her emotions.
‘Nosa, why are you here again? The sight of you alone disgusts me’.
Just as she touched the door, her alarmed blared. Moriah was so surprised. The alarm didn’t blare when Nosa was there the other time. That meant someone was coming with something harmful like a gun. She hurriedly pressed the monitor system on the gate, and Shayla’s face popped on the screen. The dark shades she wore couldn’t make Moriah decipher her expression at that time, but what else could she have wanted than to get some things that were beyond the government’s system?
‘The authority has found me again’, Moriah murmured as she opened the gate, shifted to a side and gestured towards the compound. Shayla clicked her lower lips and entered, her stomach shooting out a bit like someone that had just finished eating three plates of food. She fidgeted, glanced about, and removed her shades as Moriah locked the door. Shayla was a slim lady with short dark hair, who walked as if she was skipping. She wore crazy jeans trousers, tennis boots, and a striped shirt that she rolled at the arms. She had around her neck a silver round cable chain, one that Moriah had always desired, but have never gotten the effrontery to buy.
‘What the hell was Nosa doing here?’
‘You know Nosa…’
‘I’m his mistress’.
‘Oh! The home wrecker’.
‘How dare you call…? He loved me first… But that’s not a concern for now… Was he here to find out about me?’
Moriah shifted back as she stared at her for a while before hissing. ‘What do you see yourself as? So, you think you’re the special one here that Nosa would run down here just to ask about you as if he is foolish? No. Don’t ever think of yourself as special. You’re just a bottle of urine’.
Shayla’s hands danced on the handle of her bag. ‘Bottle of? I want to know if he has something on me…’
Moriah spun twice and felt like slapping Shayla, but knew there was no need to do that. ‘He came to see me. Just me. Not for any business… Before you became his mistress, I was his only love. Even till now, I’m his goddess. He worships me’.
Shayla batted her. ‘You this stupid bimbo… I will crush you… I will crush you… Who are you? I know Nosa, he doesn’t deal with…’ Shayla flipped her hands up and down with the fingers pointing to Moriah.
Moriah burst into laughter. ‘Do you want me to show you my wet rough bed or the parts of my body he pressed? Or if you so wish, I can let you go to him now to get a look at his lips. The lipstick stains would still be there, imprinted on his cloth. He loves everything about me. So if you don’t have anything to do here than to gloat about being a mistress, leave right now’.
Shayla’s hand dusted invisible dirt from her jeans as she stared at Moriah with starry eyes. She swallowed and panted repeatedly, and Moriah hoped she would leave before her silence turned to rage. After what seemed like ages, Shayla placed her hand into her bag and withdrew a pistol. Moriah shifted back and raised her hands.
‘Hey! I’m the good guy here. I told him to leave me for all its worth. He is just like a virus, the more I block him the more he finds his way back to me’.
‘You have to stop seeing him’, Shayla said as she strolled towards Moriah. ‘But that’s for that, I need information from you’.
Moriah dropped her hands, straightened and allowed herself to have a bit of confidence, despite the gun with Shayla, she moved closer. ‘Why the gun? You know the deal. Money on the left, your information on the right’.
‘I can get your money and would fund you any day any time and would still give you more’.
Moriah smiled brightly. ‘Now, you’re talking. Spit it out’.
‘I need information on your subject…’
Moriah frowned. ‘My subject? I don’t have any… No, I can’t give you anything on him’.
It was Shayla’s turn to have a creased face. She lowered her gun and raised it again. ‘Why? What’s stopping you? Are you now placing your feelings over money now? Hot, busty, geeky Moriah would put her emotion before money’.
‘He made me promise not to ever track him’.
‘Then, you’re both mad. He wants to ruin something for us. For all of us’.
Moriah stared at her for a while as she watched the eyes of the silent Shayla. ‘What do you mean by ruining something for us? Who and who are the us? Me and you? When did we become 5 and 6?’
‘I think he is going after the missing women’.
‘I don’t have anything to do with that. We have a non-disclosure agreement. I have my lawyers on my speed dial’.
‘Idiot. Some of the things we are using for our operations would be discovered if Nosa is involved. He is brute at this job. He is ruthless and reckless and would make sure he finds every little detail. We can’t let him go on. I need something. I mean anything to just be on the safer side always’.
Moriah had made that promise and even her own freedom or life would never make her back down from it. She shook her head. Shayla got the message and brought the gun to Moriah’s head.
‘Give me something. I have goons around me, but you are the one with the microchips things. Ones I can use on him. I need those to succeed. Not some whatnot. I need to get Nosa’s playbook’.
‘Then, kill me’.
Shayla looked perplexed. Her eyes roamed on Moriah and she was sure Shayla could see the defiance in her. Nothing in the world would make her go back on her word, especially the one she made to Nosa. Shayla turned and shrugged. She bagged the gun and removed a knife. Moriah shifted back.
‘You want to use a knife where your gun failed’, Moriah shouted and dashed for the door of her room. Right now, Shayla was planning to hurt her, and the only thing she could do would be to escape from her. Indoor, she had the best advantage over anyone, no matter how powerful.
‘If you don’t give me what I need, I’ll hurt his baby. I will kill his last baby and I will make him believe you did it. Your subject would detest you. You said he worships you. He would destroy your shrine and would scorch it to the ground’, Shayla shouted as she raised the knife.
‘You can do nothing. You are about to open a bottle of urine. Come on, don’t want what would cost you, your life and that of the baby’s, Moriah said as she edged towards the door. She was sure that Shayla wouldn’t be stupid. Even if she was, she wasn’t as reckless as Nosa and she would do the right thing, regardless of what she needed.
However, Shayla was true to her word; she brought the knife to her stomach and creased her face to show she was putting a lot of effort into making sure she was injured. Moriah thought she was joking, but edged forward. When Shayla winced, she knew it was true, after all.
‘Stop all these… I will find a way. I will get something to help you monitor him’.
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2 The First
Greenland of Fortunecity had begun to see the deaths and kidnappings of some of its occupants. The whole ordeal started with a simple, sorrowful, but simple news of a Christian being killed. Everyone assumed it was one of those religious bigotries that followed the northern Nigerians into the Island. However, when the death toll rose from a single Christian to six, the authorities began to look for patterns. Then, the killings got an additional phase to it: some of them were being kidnapped, and those kidnapped were Christians that saw visions of hell at one point or the other.
Nosa knew the police would find a solution to the problem, and had refused to heed Chloe’s cry to search for them. The Fortunecity Police Force was a combination of people from different countries and tribes. If they put their heads together, they would surely get the missing people in time. Despite that, the number of those kidnapped increased sporadically. The funniest part of it was that the kidnapper had a totally different method from that of the killer’s.
Yet, Nosa promised himself that he would never be involved until one of the authorities asked for his help. He was practicing to be a private investigator. Private investigators aren’t heroes to the country; they are heroes to individuals. Still, he did his findings once in a while and didn’t raise any dust. So, when Mr. Johnson poured his Eagle Eyes’ problem on his laps, he was happy he had a folder for it already.
He celebrated as he drove home in a hurry. He had to finish the investigation in time so that he could have a lot of time with the one he loved. There was nothing that could make him sad that day.
However, the moment he entered the house, Nosa was drawn to Chloe’s countenance. Of course, she was supposed to be grieving because of the loss she had encountered of recent, but she didn’t get the opportunity to really grieve the first loss before another one landed on it. His fear, as he saw her, was that she had finally found the need to talk about her pain, and he wouldn’t be around to listen to her. He went near and rubbed her chin.
‘Chloe, is everything alright?’
‘No’, Chloe shook her head that had its long hair the way she loved it; neatly flowing like that of a queen – as she stared at the television. ‘Everything is wrong. Terrible things are happening and would happen soon. The taste of the danger is becoming sourer by the second. Its stench is like that of a bottle of forgotten urine’.
‘Chloe, everything will be fine’.
‘You said that when our daughter… ‘She stopped talking and inhaled sharply. Her high cheekbone, which attracted him to her the first time they met, was now covered in a shadow of sorrow. ‘You’ve been saying this since this menace began to form like dark clouds over Greencity, over Fortunecity, over Nigeria…’
‘Mr. Johnson called me for one of the cases. You know what that means’.
‘That nobody can beat you to finding them? But, you should have sniffed out this killer when it all started’.
‘You know all this hero thing is not my thing. It’s Eagle Eyes’ thing’.
‘I know you are not Mr. Johnson, but if you had gone, at least, all these might have been avoided’.
‘Do you know what that would have…?’ Nosa stopped as his voice began to rise. He stopped himself from getting worked up. His wife was still grieving over the loss of her father, their daughter, and son. Rather, she was supposed to be grieving over them, but she was always seen with books and biros, watching videos of those that had gone to hell. At night, when she was supposed to sleep, she would be found poring over the books about hell.
‘Immediately I saw the death of the second one, I smelt trouble and suspected that they would be picked off one after the other like guinea pigs. I told you. It is on you like a perfume’.
‘Okay. Chloe, I have to go’, Nosa muttered as he rose from her side. His anger was trying to come out of its tunnel, and he wouldn’t want to allow her to see that side of him, at least not that day. ‘I’ve got to go’.
‘Sniff out this missing one or ones, as many as you can find’.
‘Why are you so…?’
‘Engrossed with them? Instead of crying over my dead family members, I’ve decided to find something better to do than to cry over people that have turned to dust. I want to feel joy on my skin again’.
‘If it were better, I would have appreciated it’.
‘It’s better. I have something taking my mind off all these evil that the world is making me face’.
Nosa sighed, sat beside her, and patted her shoulder as he used his other hand to rub his own beard. Maybe her reaction and love for these things was her way of grieving for everyone she had lost. ‘I’m sorry. Maybe I should have found them’.
‘Maybe… Even if you didn’t find them, you would have made me happy… Can you smell the joy on me? It’s beautiful from inside out. Why? You have finally listened to my plea. I don’t know why you always brush my advice aside like a roving dirt’.
‘Things will be better. I will find these missing women’.
‘If not all, just this newest missing one would be impressive’.
‘I’ll find them’, Nosa said as he rose to leave. She nodded and rubbed his arm.
‘Don’t use that belt. It’s torn’.
‘How did you know the belt I’m using? Moreover, my clothes will cover it’.
She gave him a cold glare and mimicked him in a way that always fascinated him. ‘Does that sound good to your ears?’
He sighed. ‘Okay’.
‘The other one is better. In fact, give me the belt now. I don’t want you having ideas in your head about replacing it behind my back’.
‘No. You need to start representing this family and your company well. Such fashion taste is bad. It irks me. Also, wear that new black Jeans trousers. It’s Christmas tomorrow, enjoy the festive mood’.
Nosa grudgingly removed the belt, gave it to her and strolled into the room, where he picked the bulky ridiculous belt she said she loved, and changed the trousers. He would do anything to make her happy until her grieving time was over. Wherever those ladies were, he wasn’t ready to start a wild goose chase. He needed to search for them strategically. Like Moriah would advise, he needed to be careful.
‘I need to be careful’, he said as he picked the folder he came for.
Then, as he was about to leave the room, he sighted the things that might help his new case; the numerous books, CDs, and DVDs she bought to keep herself busy and knowledgeable about hell or to take her mind off her numerous losses laid on her side of the room. He couldn’t understand why she became engrossed with those horrible, money-making books, but he packed them.
‘Will you need these books in a few days?’ he said as he came out with the load of books, CDs, and DVDs and dumped them on the table.
‘Wow. This is really good. They would enlighten you. Take as many as you want…’
He booed. ‘These ones. They are nothing, but money-making instruments. I just need them to find the missing women’.
‘There are a lot of things you should know. If not for my bad network provider, I would have sent something to you over WhatsApp. I will send it when the network comes back on’.
‘I’ve told you to use Glo data bundle’.
‘Typical Nigerian. Glo can’t help me. Have you seen people’s complaint about them?’
‘That’s a handful of their total users. We…’
She glanced at the clock. ‘This is just 7:30 pm. Try to come back in time. But, in case you can’t, hold some clothes and enough money to stay at a hotel. But you must come home tomorrow for Christmas’.
‘Yes, mummy’, he said, kissing her forehead.
‘I’ll take your IVM G20’.
‘That’s a seven-seater’.
‘I’ll be comfortable in it for this mission’.
‘Alright! It’s yours. It’s ours’.
‘Be a good boy’ she said and became fixated on the television. Her knees shook like a leaf in the wind as another breaking news displayed on the TV, detailing that another woman had been kidnapped, and the news pointed to the fact that she was also one of the ladies that saw the visions of hell.
Nosa bent over her, and held her leg in place, making sure he blocked her view of the television. He had tried many ways of talking her out of every other thing that could make her grieve. The real grief was supposed to be that of her family members that were dead. He needed her to do an actual, overbearing grieving over her family member’s death. He had done his part, crying like a baby, when they lost their first child to a mild sickness. She did too, but not enough before Mr. Kings died of a heart attack.
Nosa stared into her dark eyes and said, ‘we’ll find them. I’ll find them’.
She nodded. ‘Be careful’.
As if tuned to Nosa’s thought, someone knocked the door. Nosa wondered how he didn’t hear the gate open. Who’s there?’
‘It’s me, Mummy Church’.
Chloe had a lot of servants that should have done all the works in the house, but she sent them away after her father’s death. She grew up living with servants, and when her father died and wrote in his will that Chloe mustn’t do any work directly, she sent all the servants away as payback. The only ones she still allowed were the cook, the gardeners, who came once a day to do their work, and they would leave again. Nosa agreed with her anger against her father, whom she claimed was still trying to control her in his death. He made sure her aunty was a thorn in her flesh.
Nosa hurried to the door the moment he heard Mummy Church’s voice. Despite his dislike for her talkativeness, arrogance, slothfulness, he preferred her above all other persons to talk with and to Chloe. No matter how long the one-handed woman stayed with her, Chloe’s mind would be taken off the codswallop that the media kept feeding the public.
For some reasons, unlike the way his instinct had helped him, he suspected that he would regret ever taking this case. This instinct had helped him solve a lot of mysteries. Shayla called it detective’s instinct. Yet, like his father used to preach, like Paul, he would take up what he knew portended danger and hope to return in good shape or at least better than the last time. Unlike his father, he wasn’t going to plant his detective church in Idumwurgha forest of Edo state, Nigeria. He would spread out his tentacles and would know what to do. He sent messages to his teams and activities began the moment he stepped out of the house.
‘Nosa, hair is returning to your bald head. Do something about it. And your beard, its shape is… You’re becoming bushy’.
‘Yes, mummy’ Nosa shouted as he marched off into the compound.
‘Don’t you dare let your feet smell my lawn’, she shouted after him, making him jump back into the lane. She was a lover of her garden. He looked at the green carpet grass and knew why he didn’t endure their marriage, why he really loved her. Her love for different beautiful things fascinated him and made him stay in love with her all those years.
The first thing he sighted immediately he stepped outside with loads of books, CDs, and DVDs was a tract on the windscreen of his car. He opened his car, dumped the items he was carrying and returned to pick the tract and skimmed it. Its heading read: Hell Is So Real!
He crumbled it into the shape of a ball and threw it into the bin. Smiling at himself, he said,’ this is a good omen. I’ll throw this nonsense case like a paper’.
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Chloe sat still in fear and could only wish the presence of her Pastor’s wife, Mrs. Fowosere alias Mummy Church, would crush her fear of the unknown, of the numerous troubles that had wrapped themselves around her mind. She had jumped from a horrible dream some minutes before Nosa entered the house. Of late, she had been having a constant terrible dream. The recurring dream always featured her going to the lake of fire, being drawn by the evil force of the dreadful place because she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. Probably, that was the reason God made her lose the child.
When she first had the dream, she wasn’t sure she had dreamt right. However, when the dream became constant, she was very sure she was it wasn’t a figment of her imagination. Dismissing it would have been the top on her mind, but she had read about people that had revelations of hell through dreams. Maybe she was becoming part of those who saw hell. She needed to talk to someone.
That particular day, the dream went on to show the lights of twenty-four people in Greenland. Initially, she thought it was the number of genuine Christians in Fortunecity, but soon discovered that those were the numbers of those that had seen heaven in Greenland. She might have misunderstood it, but she saw the exact number of the missing women gathered in a corner. Three had gone out and the others were fizzling out. However, she saw three others at different locations and hoped those ones would be safe.
She wished one of them would do her good and tell her about heaven and the exact day God would return to the saint. She had meticulously followed their teachings. They were good but she needed one of them to tell her about heaven.
‘These things we face per time as Christians’, Mummy Church said as she rolled her good hand around the cup. Chloe wondered how she managed to work with one hand. She wasn’t sure she as a person would be able to bear it.
‘Indeed, the lack of knowledge plays a part, though’.
‘Not having full access to some knowledge is distraughting’.
Mummy Church nodded in agreement as she stared into space. ‘I just felt led to visit you to… maybe, be here with you in this trying time’.
Chloe smiled warily. She wasn’t concerned about her grief. It did her no good. Even and despite knowing about Nosa’s mistress, Shayla, she preferred to move on with her life than to watch her life drain off her. There were many things she needed to know about heaven. The Bible made her know that only God knows when the kingdom of God would be upon them soon, but he never keeps anything from his saints. Yet, there she was, grasping for a knowledge that had eluded the world.
Suddenly, Mummy Church’s phone rang. She struggled with her wallet, where the phone was. Chloe rose to help her get it, but she smiled broadly and shook her head. Chloe understood her and sat back. She would have been defiant, but she preferred to watch Mummy Church as she struggled with her wallet. It took her a while, but in a few seconds, Mummy Church had removed the phone and was already talking as she excused herself to go outside. Chloe watched her leave, hoping Mummy Church would succeed in taking her mind off whatever was happening.
She rose to tend to her flowers in a vase by the window side. Maybe doing that would take her mind off the horrendous turbulence bound for the earth. If what those women said about the soon coming of Christ was true, then she needed to brace herself as well as others.
‘Why are you calling me?’ Mummy Church said, whispering.
Chloe focused on the blade of the flowers and proceeded to remove the weeds sprouting in the vase. That was how the final day would be; yet, people can recruit others in preparation for that day.
‘Stop calling me? I’m around people. I told you. Me and you… The police? No. When we know the right person to trust’.
That piqued Chloe’s interest. She stood straight and perched after she had scurried to the door. Why was Mummy Church fusing herself with a case that would lead to the police? That portended that she was involved in something illegal, and it would do her no good to dip herself into anything that would stain her white linen as a Christian. Chloe had to be sure about what Mummy Church was doing before she even gave her any advice on how to remain in the path of God.
‘What’s wrong with you’, Mummy church said and her voice showed a deep sense of frustration mixed with anger. ‘Do you want to die or do you want those kidnappers to carry you too…? What’s wrong with you? I will get back to you when… Stay where you are. No. Don’t even try rubbish. Stay where you are’.
Mummy Church hissed. Chloe ran to her seat, sat and rose the moment the door opened. Mummy Church looked perplexed.
‘Is everything alright?’
‘That depends on which everything you mean?’ Chloe said in a manner that would present her as dejected. ‘I want to tend to my flower. It’s been calling for mummy since but I don’t have its time. I wanted it to have a taste of hunger as human beings do’.
Her cat meowed as it entered the sitting room. She turned it and perfectly mimicked its sound. ‘Hey, Joel, come here. Have you greeted Mummy Church?’ Chloe’s cat stretched. She smiled at it. ‘Lazy Joel’.
Mummy Church laughed wryly. ‘You and giving non-humans names. Well, you are showing… fulfilling your purpose like God allowed Adam to do by naming animals in Genesis two verse twenty and twenty-one’.
Chloe smiled warily. ‘That’s cool, being called a child of Adam: it’s comforting’.
‘No. I don’t mean it in a harmful way’
She shrugged. ‘Of course, I know. It’s just that I’m not a man and not a woman. So, I won’t fall into his error of falling for a woman’.
Mummy laughed and went silent for a while. ‘There…’
‘What?’ Chloe turned and looked at her inquisitively. ‘Do you think I have the chance of falling to a man?’
Chloe’s stared at her and watched her eyes danced within its socket. ‘I’m not gay. I’m straight and I’m not a lesbian’.
‘Of Course. I wasn’t thinking of that. You’re a child of God. You have retained God in your heart so he won’t give you up to the perdition of the world’.
Chloe sighed. ‘Good…’
‘But you are a woman and you can do worse than Adam… A whole lot.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean….’ She said and sat up well. ‘Let’s take Adam for example. He was doing fine in the Bible and obeyed God’s commandment but things changed’.
‘Yes. Satan polluted him’.
‘No, he was given Eve’.
‘Yes. His bottle of urine. To tend to…’
‘Good but when he wanted to lose her or when he perceived that she had sinned. Instead of separating himself like Jesus in Hebrew one nine, he committed a sin because of her. That’s why the Bible records that Adam sinned and not Eve. She was deceived into…but he deliberately sinned’.
‘Oh! I still don’t see where they intertwine. How is that my case?’
‘You are… I don’t know but I’m sensing that you’re afraid of the future… Like Adam. I’m sensing you’re still afraid of that sin you committed before you finally gave your life to Christ’.
Chloe felt her mouth go dry like Brooks in the dry season. ‘Me? Afraid? I’m not afraid. Maybe you are thinking so because I’m preparing for heaven. The Bible says we should prepare. See, I’m not proud of it, but I committed a sin by fornicating with my boyfriend, who later became my husband, and I’ve seen the repercussion’.
‘Of course. But not in a way that is harmful to our health and emotions. God has forgiven you’.
‘For my mother too, I know. But there is always a reward’.
‘Things clear off when you’re in Christ. All sins are cleared’.
‘But Mummy Church, my mother died through my hand. She was already a Christian at that time’, Chloe said and heaved because she was finally able to talk about her mother, who died because she gave birth to her, an unwanted, born-out-of-wedlock child. ‘That’s her reward. There’s always a reward’.
‘That’s also one of the things you’ve stopped tackling. You can see that you need to see a psychiatrist. You’re not fine. I’m sorry if I sound rude’.
Chloe laughed. ‘Mummy Church o. I’m fine’.
‘See, Adam knew that Eve had fallen into error. But he was afraid of being alone. It was like a torture for him. You… Maybe you’re afraid of not making heaven… Of-of…Erm…. Being left alone’.
‘Shouldn’t we all be prepared?’
Chloe grabbed her scissors and pruned the edges of her flowers. That would help her hide her shaking hands from Mummy Church, who made it her duty to frustrate her. There was no way she would have the same fear as Adam. She was definitely putting things in store for the archive of heaven and that wasn’t fear; that was prudence. There were no other words to what she was doing than that. The Bible and Jesus said we should watch and pray. She was a watchman but not for the town; for herself.
Mummy Church rose. ‘I need to leave. But your husband…Some other people too had been whispering to my husband that you need to cry, to grieve and I can’t help but agree with them’.
‘Mummy, God giveth and taketh away. I just want to prepare for the future’.
Mummy Church smiled as she edged towards her. Chloe looked at her and craved to have her tan skin. It made her look elegant in the long dark green gown she wore. The flowery pattern on the clothes called her attention and she loved to have a perfectly designed life like that of the cloth.
‘This dress is beautiful’.
Mummy Church blushed. ‘It’s the work of our own Havilah Couture. You know her now?’
‘Of course. That fair tall beautiful lady. So, she is a tailor? I never knew’.
‘She is. I even saw her taking a picture of your dress last week. As in, that your dress was extremely beautiful’.
‘Aww awn. I got it from our Hadassah’.
‘Hadassah! The five-k store. My sister, I need to go’.
‘Maybe… Or what do you think?’
‘Me? Nothing much. I was just thinking about how it would be good to follow you. Maybe it would help me’.
‘Oh that would be good. But I have to attend to something important first. When I return from my… From the person I want to meet, then we can go out together’.
‘Hope all is well?’
‘Sure. All will always be well with Christians’, she smiled as she neared the door, and adjusted her headgear.
‘That means, I can follow you?’
Mummy Church bit her lower lips, stared at Chloe for some seconds and shrugged as she turned towards the door. ‘You can come, but I hope it won’t be stressful for you’.
‘Stressful, you say? Remember my husband had been disturbing the whole world that I‘m not myself. I think this is the perfect way I can do it and prove to him that I have come to the realization: God giveth and He taketh. Also, I should follow the advice of this other lady that speaks about relationships, Bimbzspeak. She said when our spouse is having issues with us and the issue coincides with what others are saying about us, then we are the one at fault. Or don’t you think heeding to that is wise?’
‘Of course. We should be able to break out of our shell’.
‘Mummy, are you sure everything is alright?’
Mummy church stared at her for a moment and rubbed her forehead repeatedly and nodded as If she wasn’t sure. Chloe had to take all the restraint in the world to show how happy she was. Now, there was an opportunity to help someone back to the way of Christ. Mummy Church was definitely trailing from something that wasn’t of God, and she would be on her neck till she returned to God’s way. She was happy with her present feeling. It felt like gold to her. So precious. So cool. She wouldn’t let it slip off her hand to the ground, where it might be trampled upon or get the fate of every rusty instrument. Getting people back to the way of God was a medium of making herself happy. She wouldn’t give it up for anything.
‘I’ll be back’, Chloe said and ran into the room. A simple gown would do. That was why Hadassah and Konga Nigeria would forever top her mind when it came to gown. The times of things showed that if she wasn’t fast about knowing what was happening, she might be one of those left behind on earth.
Within few minutes, they were in her car. Mummy Church had always insisted on driving herself, but her husband, the Pastor, would never agree to her desire. He said he could go to the length of getting her a driver, which she blatantly refused. So, she always transported herself through bikes and public transports or when the Pastor himself took her out.
‘Are you sure you’re you alright?’
Mummy church nodded. Chloe smirked and drove off into the road. When she glanced at the rearview mirror, she saw the three acne that invaded her face. They were getting red and she was sure, one of them would give up in the fight against one another. Yet, she was sure she wouldn’t be the one to give up on them. She would make sure she used everything available in making sure they disappeared and never reappeared on her face.
Then, she saw her nosy neighbor waving for her to stop, but she couldn’t because their path might not clash. If it was someone like Chloe’s Aunt, such woman would have evicted the estate.
They journey through the beautiful roads of Greencity was mesmerizing and felt as if she was going through the grandeur of heaven. Various horrific posters punctuated the different places they passed, and she would have longed for it to be removed if they weren’t about hell. She glanced at Mummy Church several times as she tried hard not to fidget. Although she didn’t love to put the poor woman in such position, she still needed to help her return to her position of peace.
Mummy Church placed a call to whomever she wanted to meet and told her to meet them at Greencity General Hospital. She wished it also was privatized, she would have gotten a share of it like she did most major companies in Fortunecity and Nigeria. When they got there, they waited a while.
‘Hope the person isn’t in need of money?’ Chloe said as she tried desperately to reduce her intake of the smell of antiseptic, which she detested.
Mummy Church shook her head and tried to smile, but she could only do that while wheezing. She scanned everywhere to be sure the person was not hiding from them, but they saw no one. Mummy Church repeatedly placed a call to the person, but the person refused to pick up the call. Mummy Church rose from her seat and began to move from one place to another. After a little while, she moved outside, and Chloe followed her. Mummy Church looked from one end to another and kept replying Chloe in the negative as regarding fear of any problem. Chloe was sure she could smell trouble, and that Mummy Church might soon lash out at her angrily for being nosy. Maybe she should stop.
Then, someone tapped her. Chloe turned to face her nosy neighbor, who was cuddling her black chubby daughter in her hands. Her clothes were hanging off her shoulder, not because she was a fashionista but because her fashion sense was horrible.
‘Mrs. Kings’, she said, and Chloe hissed as she knew she would have to talk with the spittle in her mouth. The woman was one of the few people that still called her Mrs. Kings, which she detested as it reminded her of so many unbearable things. Chloe turned to her with a stiff smile and exchanged pleasantries with her.
‘I was calling you. I saw your car and was waving at it’.
‘Oh! I’m sorry. I thought you were calling someone else’.
Luckily for her, the woman was called by someone else. The nosy woman shouted her excitement and scurried off to meet a scrawny, short, fair woman. She didn’t need another nudge to return home because her father-in-law called that he had gotten home. He called her earlier that he would be coming to their house, not to rest, but because his friend had caused trouble for him. His friend, a Pastor, from Brown Valley, visited him in Edo, and told him that God gave him a duty to do something very important, and requested for a secretive place to do such a thing. Since they were both friends and respected men of God, he gave his friend a place that was deep in the forest. After some days, he visited his Pastor-friend and heard the sounds of wild animals in the said place. When he asked his friend about it, he said God asked him to do that.
Seeing this, he took it upon himself to report his friend to the friend’s church and to get people working in a Fortunecity Zoo, to get the animals out of the place. Seeing that people were already gossiping about the issue, his other children, Nosa’s younger ones, sent him to Greencity to rest for a few days, and to take his mind off the case.
‘Mummy, I hope all is well. I have to leave to meet my father-in-law’.
Mummy Church nodded as if she was glued to the seat, and that she was trying not to cry. Chloe followed her unstable eyes with her own eyes but didn’t see anything worth her time. Yet, that behavior was unlike that of Mummy Church, who would have wanted to know why her father-in-law was visiting, and might probably have requested that he came around to her own house. When she looked at Mummy Church’s face, she was very sure she could hear her heave, but duty came first.
She rose and left with Mummy Church’s goodbye trailing after her. Whatever she was hiding could cause her a great deal of trouble, but since Chloe didn’t have the power to stop it again, she would pray for her. She would tell God to help Mummy Church not to fall into perdition and drag the sanctimonious name of the Fowosere in the mud.
She spat out the saliva, entered her car and drove out of the compound with a heavy heart, and hoped to warm a good food for her father-in-law. Luckily any food one wanted had already been prepared by her house help and had been stored in a freezer.
Then, she remembered that she wasn’t aware of how Mummy Church would get to her house. Even if she suspected she was about to do something bad, she still had to play her part in making sure her own love for the woman didn’t wane. She didn’t want to assume she had the money necessary to get home without much trouble. So, she parked the car by the side of the road and jumped out of it with her purse bundled in her hand. She shouldn’t be keeping her father-in-law waiting, but it wouldn’t be ideal to also leave like that.
Chloe ran to the place they sat, wishing she could just get there and return to her car within seconds. However, the seat was empty, and Mummy Church wasn’t anywhere near the bench. She was surprised.
‘Ehn… Ehn…’ Shouted her Nosy street neighbor, making Chloe towards her. The woman, whose wrapper was slipping and baby was crying, desperately tearing at her mother’s cloth.
‘You left like that’, the woman said and tied her wrapper well. ‘I saw that other Mummy you were together, and she said you have gone’.
‘She went to the toilet?’
‘Yes. That’s even true. She had been gone for a while. She went with another woman. I hope all is well?’
‘Thank you. Thank you very much’, Chloe whispered as she scurried off. ‘See me at home’.
Chloe rushed off to the toilet, and would have shouted Mummy Church if the place wasn’t smelling of antiseptic. She held her breathe and moved towards the toilet until she got near the toilet. By this time, she was already hoarding spittle in her mouth, and hoped to spit it out the moment she got the chance.
‘Mummy, I have to go to them’, a lady said.
‘Where do you want to go?’
‘I’m coming out of hiding’.
‘Patience. The Bible says though the vision might tarry, it would yet…’
‘Mummy Church, it’s not that type of vision’.
‘Are you calling the Bible a lie?’
‘This one is the vision of heaven and God wants it’.
‘What… What are you saying? Did God show you visions of heaven too?’
‘He showed me hell… Heaven. Heaven. Hell. What does it matter?’
‘Hope you’re not hiding the truth?’
‘Mummy, whatever the truth is, I want it out’.
‘I’ll make sure…’
They became silent for a while. Chloe suspected they were trying to check out if someone was there. So, she removed her shoes, picked them, and ran away silently at first, then wildly. Then, she ran into her nosy neighbor again, who almost fell.
‘Mummy, when should I come?’
‘This evening. But I would give you something bigger if you can go towards the toilet and turn’.
Chloe always knew the woman’s problem – money. The woman excitedly moved towards the toilet and turned.
Chloe rushed to her car. She just heard of someone that went to heaven. There was no way she would leave Mummy Church to such case alone. But for now, she needed somebody to watch her.
As soon as she entered the car, she dialed Segun’s phone number and relayed her fear to him. And she instructed him on how she hoped he could save the woman by watching her. Segun was someone that ran into their house on one of those days he was being pursued by the Police. She allowed him hide in her compound till they were gone, and she talked some sense into his head, and she made him know that she was ready to provide everything he would ever need, so far he would always do her bid. And he had been doing that.
She drove off to welcome her father-in-law.
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3 The Visionaries
When Nosa left the houses of the missing women, the evening was already crawling over the sky; yet, he made sure he didn’t get angry at any of the careless drivers that were either drunk or rushing somewhere, probably to their family. He ensured his own anger was locked in the treasure box because he was still in a good mood.
When he got to the house of Victoria Akachi Amadi, he knew it would be a dramatic evening because the compound was buzzing with people. There, he wished people were moving in his house the same way. At least, that would prevent his wife from staying aloof or refusing to accept the death of her loved ones. Unlike his former patterns of finding out missing people, he started his investigation from the first missing person to the last. In fact, he was already tired from the way they answered his numerous questions. The question and answer sessions were tiring.
There was no way he would understand their fanaticism; yet, he needed the understanding to get the reason behind the kidnapper’s and the killer’s motive for doing what they were doing. Luckily for him, none of them was forcing their belief on him, and he loved it that way. His hope, as he walked in the midst of mourning fanatics, was that he would only ask questions and leave to start the real search for the serial kidnapper and serial killer. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t lose focus on the fact that he was employed to find the missing women and not the serial killer.
As he entered the compound of the missing lady, Mr. Johnson called him, and he felt like slapping him for disregarding their agreement: he wasn’t supposed to call him for anything until he finished his present investigation. They had to make the agreement once, when Mr. Johnson was too quick to call the police to help Nosa when Nosa informed him that he was trapped. The police came in with their loud siren and made the criminals escape with the child Nosa was about to rescue. It took Nosa another three days to find the missing child.
‘What do you want?’
‘Nosa Obaigbenwen, you need to learn to revere the trough that provides grains for you’.
‘That is if the trough is not an obstruction. What do you want?’
‘I wanted to remind you of your job. Just as you don’t trust agents, so also do we not trust you freelancers. You all want to be heroes, and to return with the spiky head of the dragon, and most times allow the princesses die in the process’.
Nosa gritted. ‘Mr. Johnson, if you’re not careful, I’ll return to the house to sleep and wait by the radio to hear the town crier’s announcement about how the princesses died in captivity’.
‘The horse that refuses to go to war with its owner would remain in the stable without food. Be grateful Eagle Eyes Security is helping everyone. Me. You. Everyone’.
‘I’ll disconnect this call if you won’t tell me something of importance’.
‘It is only a fool that needs one to say all one has in mind’.
‘Don’t be rude to your money bag’, Nosa said trying to mimic him. He wished he had the same ability as Chloe.
‘I don’t talk like that. Meanwhile, I’m only telling you to make sure you return with the ladies- dead or alive. That’s all Eagle Eyes Security needs. Don’t return with the head of the ladies or that of the criminal, and for God’s sake. I don’t need your head. I need you. In case you’re in any horseshit call me, I’ll be there to pull your face out of it’.
‘Oh! All you’re saying is that you’re fearful for my life’.
‘Me? Afraid? Impossible? I have the heart of iron. I feel nothing. All in all, never let what that thing is or whoever they are to swallow you’.
‘Don’t you ever call me during operations again’, Nosa said, hissed and pocketed the phone as he walked into the compound. He was right: Mr. Johnson’s call was another bottle of urine.
The reactions of the people in Victoria Amadi’s house enlightened Nosa on what the Bible said about the world being near its tail end. Random people cried about how Sister Victoria had brought their salvation to them. In fact, a lot of people were commiserating with one another, testifying about how God used her to save them. He wished he could agree with them or be one of them. But despite his distaste for cultural religion, he’s still had a sound knowledge of the Bible and knew all these things were ephemeral. Very soon their hunger would be for something else.
Thunder roared overhead. A slight breeze passed through the house, then the intensity increased for no reason. Someone yelled that God was ready to fight on behalf of Sister Victoria. Someone else shouted, ‘glory to God’. And a lot of people began to chew the word in their mouths. The house wasn’t really a comfortable one. The compound had no fence, and the little compound it was built on had a lot of vegetables planted around it. The banana leaves beside the house rumbled in accord with the cry of the people. From streets away, the sound of knockouts reverberated as if they were competing.
He meandered to the door of the house and asked the nearest person for the mother of the missing Victoria Amadi.
‘Oh! I’m sorry. What of her father?’
‘Dead too. Haven’t you been paying attention to her meetings or reading her books with all your mind?’
He had to hold himself from yelling at the lanky woman that he wasn’t there to discuss books. If he needed to discuss books, he would go to a book club. He knew of many; like the Bookworm café Nigeria, Onkawe Book Club and even Rainbow Book Club. Like Chloe would say, he was only there to sniff out the killer, and not to hear someone’s cry for him to become a fanatic.
‘Hmm…Who are you?’
‘I want… I’m an investigator and I need to find the missing women’.
‘An investigator? What power do men have to find our own? The Lord is our refuge. He is our help and shield. We will lift up our eyes to the hills. From whence cometh our help? Our help cometh from the Lord who made the heavens and earth…’
Nosa held his breath with the hope that it would suppress the anger that was on the verge of controlling him. ‘Madam…’
However, the woman kept rambling, and was getting on his nerve, which would soon make him unleash his already-spoilt-mood. He was supposed to be happy from meeting Moriah again, but these people were punching holes into his balloon of happiness.
‘Mummy… The Lord would send help to his own with a human being. Strong, solid, touchable human beings. He won’t come to investigate or find her himself. Now, where is a real human that I can talk to?’
The woman shook her head and pointed at the sky. ‘Why do the heathen rage? With God, all things shall be possible and…’
‘I’d… I know. Just show me someone’.
‘Well as the Bible encourages, I will follow peace with all men, with you. But not before I show you that the God of Elijah is whom I will call’.
‘Oh! This woman is making me become weak by the second’, Nosa mumbled as he decided to go against courtesy and barge into the partially plastered house.
A woman came out and rushed past them. Nosa hurriedly turned to her. The woman wore a lace material sewed into blouse and wrapper. The neck was cut as if they were meant to wrap the woman’s throat. He jogged after her while shouting, ‘Excuse me, ma’.
‘Do you know anyone I can talk to here? That woman sitting there is frustrating me’.
The woman in lace was in a hurry. So, she pointed to the house and rushed off.
Nosa shouted after her, ‘What should I do inside?’
‘Her younger sister is inside’.
Nosa sighed and turned towards the house.
‘Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our banner, would find her for us. He would get her before you do’.
‘As if I care who finds her first and it is Jehovah Nissi’, Nosa mumbled as he entered the parlor. Despite the fact that people had visited him more than once to commiserate with him on the death of his children, he still felt it strange to see people gathered around a plump teenage girl, who would have been beautiful if she didn’t tie her scarf around her head, covering her ears also. It made her look round like a jester, and awkward. An elderly woman rose and enjoined everyone present to begin to pray, stating that the devil was the one at work because he knew salvation was surging into the different parts of the world through Sister Victoria.
‘Good evening’, Nosa said to the nearest person. The woman scanned him with her tired eyes and pointed to the end of the parlor. He was able to vaguely examine the room for a while; the room was barely designed. However, on the right side of the parlor was a huge wallpaper of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross, and a lot of inscription on different sizes of paper, pointing people to heaven and hell and a lot of mumbo jumbos that the Bible said had been forgiven men. Placed at the end of the room was a table that was draped with a beautiful blue linen wrapper. On it was placed a lot of books and CDs from the missing sister Victoria. It also had a big picture of the missing Victoria. She looked horrible, making him wonder why Christians’ first instinct at salvation was to deface themselves and look next to ugly.
‘I want to see…’
‘As faithful followers, we are donating a reward for whoever finds Sister Victoria as well as the other missing ladies’.
He was astounded. ‘Like for real? That’s….’
‘You can’t do anything here before making your donation. It is a mandate for her followers’.
He rolled his eyes the way Chloe would have done and headed for the end of the room. The woman’s face looked drab like every woman in that house. None of them wore an earring. He wished he had listened to some of Victoria’s messages before he got there, but he didn’t have time for such frivolities. He had better problems to solve like how to handle his double romance life. He had to make sure his mistress, Shayla, won’t destroy his marriage with her agitation and fear. She had been stubbornly demanding his attention of recent. She didn’t demand any other thing than his presence and rejected every other thing he offered her. Truth be told, he had left her for a while now to comfort his wife. But how would he leave her especially this period when his wife and he had just lost their three-year-old son, the second child lost?
When he got to the book the woman directed him to write in, he felt like throwing up. The whole bunch of them promised ridiculous amounts to get Victoria and the missing Christian women back. Nosa glanced back as they kept singing hymns. He loved hymns- they were cool, serene and helped him think of God once in a while- but he hated these ones they sang. They were sad and reminded him of death. He hurriedly scanned the room. Everyone there had the same look of being poor, yet many of them promised extremely high amounts. He couldn’t fathom such dedication, such reverence, such fanaticism. Whatever she had taught or whatever message anyone taught, the end time should point at God, not them. He grinned the moment he noticed the path he was threading. He reverted to his policy- no thought or talks about anyone that proclaimed they were a servant of God.
After pretending to write something, he went to the woman and asked for the parents of the missing lady.
‘She doesn’t have parents anymore. She lives alone with her younger sister’.
‘Oh, I’ve forgotten’.
The woman, with her puffy eyes, looked at him quizzically. ‘You should know all about her by now’.
‘Like seriously? Why? Is she a goddess?’
‘That’s profane. You should have read her messages and watched her videos’.
He scratched his head and knew the truth should do better. ‘I’ve not really watched her videos. I only heard of how people say God was using her’.
‘How people say? No. It is how God is using Sister Victoria. We shouldn’t talk while they are about to pray. But I see you’re a lost soul and I need to quickly explain things to you’.
‘Seriously? I need to see her family members’.
The woman brandished an unusually firm grin that showed she wouldn’t allow him to do anything until he had heard the gospel according to Victoria.
‘Okay, but let’s be fast’.
She led the way to the back of the house and began to explicate the word of God. He was lost in her great account of heavens and was aloof until she got to talking about hell. She burst into tears. He shook his head to ward off his aloofness.
‘Are you fine?’
‘Yes. The feeling is overwhelming. I mean the horror she must have seen. Even the one I’ve seen… I mean the ones I’ve read about. You need to see when she began preaching about them. You need to see the horror. It’s scary. I don’t want to miss heaven’.
He was flabbergasted by the sudden change in her demeanor. ‘Why do you think you will miss heaven?’
The woman looked at him as if he was a dog that had wandered off from home. He swallowed hard and refused to flinch because doing so would make him stare at the ground. If you were raised by a cruel Pastor as a father, you would know that life could make you a wimp. And he had promised to stop being a wimp.
‘You need to really listen to her messages and read as many as you can of her books’.
‘So do you know how she got missing?’
‘I don’t have full details. I just knew her sister said she wasn’t answering calls and didn’t return home afterward’.
‘So, you don’t know of anything at all that can help me know where she is?’
‘Look for her? Are you with the police?’
‘Then, what are you…Who are you?’
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