Taurus took a deep breath and finally answered Nkakad’s call.
“I’m standing outside the school right now, why haven’t you been picking my calls?! What did you do?! It was a simple operation and now you have the police surrounding you!” Nkakad’s voice, even though muffled by the background din of the crowd was succinctly furious.
Not knowing what to say to him, Taurus sighed wearily, “Drogba is dead,” he said instead.
There was silence on the phone line, he could hear Nkakad controlling his breathing, whether in anger or grief, Taurus didn’t know.
“What happened?!” Nkakad barked, Taurus had the impression that he would have his hands tightly around his neck and squeezing if he’d been before him at that moment.
“You know Drogba never liked me. I was talking to the proprietor and he came into the office and wouldn’t leave. He was supposed to pick the kids while I work on Cyril but he refused.”
“And so you killed him?!” Nkakad asked incredulously.
“I did not kill him!” Taurus shouted back, “While we were arguing, the proprietor made a move and Drogba shot him…”
“So the proprietor is dead.”
“He is barely alive,” Taurus replied in a calmer tone, his eyes swiveling to look at the unconscious proprietor lying behind his desk, where he’d left him. He looked dead but Taurus had felt a small pulse when he’d checked a few minutes ago.
“So, if Drogba shot him,” Nkakad’s tone was in support of Drogba’s action, “…then how is it that you’re locked in there behind an electric fence?”
“The man still pressed the button to activate the security system. There is no way to deactivate it until the solar responsible for the power is turned off.”
“So who killed Drogba?” he insisted.
“He killed himself. He touched one of the gates and got electrocuted; I’ll send you a picture, so that you don’t think I’m lying.”
Nkakad grunted, “Where is Uka?”
Taurus choked on his reply for a second, “She’s here,” his mouth seemed suddenly too dry.
“She isn’t answering her call too, so put her on the phone,” he commanded.
“I err…I’m upstairs while she’s downstairs…”
“And why didn’t my cousin inform us about this security system, she must have known…”
“Anyway,” Nkakad suddenly cut his speech of suspicion, making it sound exactly like it wasn’t important any longer, “It doesn’t really matter now. You guys are on your own…”
“Nkakad…” Taurus’ voice sounded more shocked than pleading.
“Even if you tell the police about the camp, they’ll think you lied because everything has been dismantled and we’re leaving town this night.”
Silence suffused the phone line for second, “And when I find my cousin,” Nkakad said evilly, “I will kill her.”
Taurus didn’t know why he’d even beg Nkakad, it wasn’t as if they could do anything for them right now, unless a miracle happened. And miracles didn’t happen for people like him.
He scoffed at Nkakad’s last comment, what did he care if he killed his cousin, the bitch had obviously double crossed him too, the proprietor had been right.
But his resentment turned to confusion when his phone rang and Uka’s name flashed on the screen, “Hello?” he answered hesitantly.
“We got it, sweetheart! We have ten million naira in the trunk of the car!” she squealed excitedly.
Just then the proprietor’s phone rang and Taurus was sure that’d be the bank manager. He placed his own phone on his pounding chest and answered Cyril’s call.
“Hello, good evening, please Mr. Cyril Ndon is in a meeting with the commissioner, I’ll have him call you back, thank you,” he said and ended the call without waiting for a reply.
“Yes,” he said as he replaced his phone on his ear and listened to Uka’s excited chatter.
Okay, so maybe, the proprietor had been wrong, he thought with a small smile. But it nagged him that she hadn’t told him about the security system; or hadn’t she known?
Taurus sighed, he couldn’t be bothered about Uka’s deception now, it made no difference if he couldn’t leave this place. Silently he coursed Drogba to suffer the hottest part of hell for putting all of them in this strait.
“You’re still at the school?” Uka asked with genuine concern in her tone.
“I’ll be done soon. Shit, baby, we are rich!” he intoned and instantly sparked her excitement as he’d known it would.
“Yes, darling, I can’t wait to see you!”
“Me too! Follow the plan, I’ll meet you at the place,” he said and was satisfied that she would indeed follow the plan before he ended the call.
Taurus felt like crying but it would solve nothing, so he dialed another number on his phone, “Uka has the money and she lied to us. Go to the place, kill her, take the money and come visit me in jail after a month,” he said cryptically and ended the call…he had made his decision.
Morgan felt like hurling the phone against the wall and enjoying the splintering that would occur.
Everybody in that cell was angry. After Java had shakily unlocked his phone, they’d all discovered that he had no airtime or data. The bespectacled guy had to explain, with a cringe, that his data had obviously got exhausted after King Edem’s video call.
The guys hung their heads in frustration, Ebong felt like his heart was about to cave in when he considered never seeing Cecil again. He knew it was melodramatic of him to think that way, but with no way or nothing to do to find a way out, he was only left with self pity.
He looked at the other young men, abducted with him, their cloths were filthy, they looked haggard with worry for their children and wives and Ebong felt responsible for them all.
“We could borrow airtime,” Daniel pointed out.
“Do you know the code?” Slay asked with a raised brow and Daniel shook his head mutely.
“Fuck!” Morgan exclaimed frustratingly, causing Java to start and cower away from Morgan’s pacing.
“Cecil asked me to donate my sperm, so that she could get pregnant through artificial insemination,” Ebong blurted calmly.
Morgan stilled; all the other guys looked at Ebong with various degrees of shock. Slay’s mouth hung open almost touching the ground. At some point they turned to each other to exchange shocked gazes, Java fawned in a corner and wondered if maybe the kind looking old man had gone crazy.
“Apart from stating the obvious, about what you just said being literally random,” PJ ventured slowly, his face still registering his shock, “Why would she ask you that? I got the impression that you just met her…”
“Not really, “Ebong said self consciously. He was tired of hiding things from his family. With the predicament they now found themselves and with no immediate solution in sight, Ebong settled down to regale the young men of his history with Cecil Ebe.
Abigail Ette flung open her front door not because she was particularly excited to meet the person banging incessantly on the wood, no. She did it because the heavy knocks were too loud for her over sensitive ears.
She’d spent the whole weekend crying in self pity and had only left the house earlier today to buy sustenance. She believed she deserved to wallow in her sorrows a bit before the struggles continued.
Her phone had been switched off the whole time, she’d not watched TV or listened to her stereo; Abigail had locked herself into her house and had left it as quiet as a tomb…and it was why this knocking felt like someone was deliberately trying to deafen her, her head banged right along with the incessant knocks.
The tumultuous frown on her face when she opened the door, gave way to shock, “Mrs. Akpan,” she said, “Mrs. Ebong,” and her eyes turned to the slightly older lady with them and she was lost with her mouth open.
What were they doing here at this time of the day?
The slightly elder woman smiled nicely, “Call me, Cecil, may we come in?” she asked in the same breath.
Abigail recalled herself and widened the door to her apartment. When the women filed in she noticed their grim looks and didn’t know what to make of it, though her heart begun pounding in dread anyway…fear of the unknown was still fear.
They didn’t seat. Mrs. Akpan was one of the nicest moms she knew at the school, she had given her lifts home once or twice when she’d come to pick up her rambunctious son. She always had a ready smile for her and was genuinely impressed with her work.
Not today, Mrs. Akpan looked like she would gladly scratch her eyes out and she didn’t even know what her offense was.
She licked her dry lips and stood awkwardly, she saw the strange woman, Cecil, place a calming hand on Mrs. Akpan and Abigail’s dread increased; what in heavens name was going on?
Her eyes must have communicated her worry because Cecil spoke just then, “Miss Abigail, are you aware that Ahead school is currently under siege?”
Abigail’s eyes widened and she had the insane urge to burst into raucous laughter, but when her gaze shifted to the two mothers, she saw fear, naked fear in their eyes.
Shaking her head, “Siege, like an attack? I don’t understand,” she croaked.
“Why weren’t you in school today?” Wana accused impatiently.
“I…I was sacked on Friday,” she replied solemnly, the familiar pain crawling up her chest.
“Sacked?!” both mothers exclaimed.
“But why?” Eddy asked.
Abigail quickly summarized what had happened.
“Jesus,” Eddy muttered.
“Oh, Miss Abigail, help us,” Wana sobbed, she was suddenly overwhelmed with the whole situation, “Our children…” she choked and couldn’t continue.
Eddy, though she sniffled, took on the narrative, “Someone has organized and kidnapped our husbands and they were going to kidnap our kids but Mr. Ndon was able to hit the security system at the school, locking in the children, staff and kidnappers inside.”
Abigail’s eyes widened in complete consternation; in all her life she’d never imagined this type of predicament could happen to someone she knew.
“Time is of essence, Abigail,” Cecil spoke calmly though still communicated urgency, when it seemed the moms were overwhelmed with grief. “If you know anything…how to get the children out…”
“I know a way in,” she blurted out and the sobbing stopped instantly.
“Oh, please, tell us,” Wana begged, moving to hold Abigail’s hands in supplication.
The former principal nodded, “Of course, I’ll show you,” she said, standing straighter and liking the idea of saving the day.
The women looked at her for a while and she wondered why they weren’t moving to the door, seeing as they’d been anxious to find solution a few minutes ago.
“You might want to change, Miss Abigail,” Cecil offered.
Abigail started and looked down at her grandmotherly night gown, and then smiled sheepishly, hurrying into her bedroom to change.
Dusk was slowly stealing through the sky, soon it would be dark, she’d never been comfortable in trousers, it showed too much of her chubby, curvy figure. But, she couldn’t wear a skirt or a dress, seeing as they would have to wade through a thick bush to get to the back of the school.
She had only one pair of trousers, and she’d cut the length to just below her knee because she used it to work at home. It was a navy blue jean and it fit her like a glove, showing off all the curves she only wished to hide.
Shaking her head in disgust, she searched and pulled on a large T-shirt that marginally covered her curves and her buttocks. She brushed back her hair into a high bun and splashed cold water on her face.
When she emerged, the women waited for her outside her door; with a pounding heart, she returned to Ahead school, not as a principal but a lover of children.
After sending the voicemail to Richard, she’d waited with bated breath the whole day. And because she couldn’t take being in the house alone any longer, she’d wondered out aimlessly but ended up at Richard’s house.
Stacey had just met Ani outside the gate and Ani told her that he’d seen his bag inside the house but he hadn’t seen Richard.
She despaired, was he avoiding her? She was almost close to tears when Wana called her.”
“Stacey, are you at home?”
Stacey frowned at the tone of her voice, she sounded like she’d been crying.
“No…but, is everything okay?” she asked worriedly.
“Stacey, I need you to get the shopping bag lying by my bedside table and get to Tony’s school,” her tone was firm and there was underlying urgency to it too.
“Tony’s school,” Stacey felt cold dread drip down her back, “What is going on, mom?”
Wana sighed in her ear, and it sounded like she was driving, “You have to hurry…”
“Where’s Tony? What happened to Tony?!” she sounded hysterical now but was already flagging down a tricycle to take her home.
“He’s still in the school, honey. It’s a long story, but I need that shopping bag at his school, can you do that?”
“Yes,” she answered in a croak, then, “Yes,” she replied in a stronger voice. When she ended the call, she encouraged the tricycle rider to speed up, her heart felt like it was beating out of her throat.
DUCT SEASON 4 continues
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