“I…my name is Stacey and I’m looking for Dee.”
Richard and Daniel reacted at once because they both immediately recognized Stacey’s voice, even though it was a far off echo.
They both rushed to their feet; at least, Daniel completed the move. Richard only got to his knees, his eyes met Daniel’s and Ebong saw the boy visibly shrink back to sitting against the wall, panting and fisting his hands as though fighting for control over his emotions.
All the men knew why he reacted that way, but didn’t have the time to analyze it as they rushed to the rods with Daniel at the fore, and leaned in to listen better. The only people left sitting were Richard and Java.
They heard the new crew murmuring among themselves, wondering who Dee was. Even the men frowned at each other in confusion.
“Dee asked you to come here?” they heard the gruff voice of one of the bad guys ask and there was a certain, devilish contemplation to his tone.
Daniel wanted to scream and ask his daughter to run. He had listened to these guys recently beat up the latest arrival, an old man that was supposed to bring money.
This crew was unnecessarily vicious and Daniel just wanted to save his kid. But he knew if he shouted, he’d be endangering her and he knew if she was there, then the other women weren’t far off. His heart and apparently that of the other men hammered heavily as they listened to his little girl’s voice.
When the yellow light came back on through the louvres, the time had come for her to approach the front door but she’d lost courage.
Close to tears but anxiety having dried up her tear ducts, she’d squatted behind the old man’s car and panted breathlessly. She thought of the happy family they’d been, picturing last Christmas and how warm being with each other had been and got to her feet.
Stacey wanted another Christmas like that, she wanted to be with Richard most and she wanted to tell him how much he meant to her. When she emerged from behind the car, she saw Cecil standing instead of hiding, the older woman had probably been about to come get her.
She couldn’t really see her face but she raised her own arm to signify that she was fine. Stacey cleaned her sweaty palms on the thighs of her jeans, the gun in her waistband poking her skin as she walked.
Instead of humming a song like Cecil had suggested, Stacey coughed loudly as she approached the front door.
From where she’d been hiding, she’d heard some raucous laughter and loud conversation. But as she coughed, more to relieve her clogged airways than announce her approach, Stacey noticed the instant silence from the house.
It’d gone so quiet that her climb up the steps to the veranda seemed overly loud, and then before she could catch her breath, she knocked.
She heard the murmured, “Who’s there?”
“It’s me,” she replied in a small voice.
Having heard the voice of a female, the door swung open instantly and a huge guy stood there. Stacey unconsciously looked at his hands and took a step back from how large they were.
“Who are you?” he asked in a gruff voice.
Eddy had said she had to appear scared, or had it been Cecil who had said that, she couldn’t remember. She couldn’t think through the terrified buzz humming in her ears and head.
Stacey didn’t have to pretend fear, she was close to fainting as some other guys peeped over the giant’s shoulders to get a glimpse of the girl stupid or unlucky enough to be at this house in that inopportune moment.
Some of them sneered with lascivious leers and she knew, she just knew these people wouldn’t hesitate to beat and rape her if she’d really been a helpless girl.
“I…my name is Stacey and I’m looking for Dee,” she stammered.
There was momentary confusion, the giant turned to look at two guys who sat carelessly on the ancient sofa. They sat up and must have shook their heads, because when the giant turned back to her, he had evil in his eyes.
“Dee asked you to come here?” he asked contemplatively, his smile was supposed to lure her closer; kind of like a snake hypnotizing it’s prey.
Stacey took a step back and stammered, “He…he…” she didn’t know what else to say. Swallowing with difficulty, she continued in a voice that didn’t sound like hers.
“He asked me to meet him here after…” she was rambling and fear was cutting off her breath.
The giant grinned and took a step forward, “You’re a prostitute then,” he concluded and looked her over, stopping at her breasts for the longest time.
“A very pretty prostitute; come inside and wait for Dee,” he suggested nicely, using his feet to widen the door.
She could now see some men lying face down on the floor. One was so bloodied he looked dead, the other looked like a small, old man, there was a person half hidden by a chair, the last guy was kneeling, his face was bloodied too and he looked about to keel over any moment as blood dripped from his lips.
Gasping in horror she took another step back but the giant reached out quickly and grabbed her upper arm in a hurting grasp.
“Please,” she pleaded, “Please, let me go,” she struggled but the hand holding her didn’t budge.
The giant laughed at a comment his friend said from the door and begun dragging her into the house.
Stacey wedged her feet on either sides of the open door way and refused to enter, the move demanded all her strength, which wasn’t much compared to that of the giant.
He laughed hard at her pitiful effort, left her arm suddenly, causing her to fall to her knees and then grabbed her hair and dragged.
Breathing from her mouth now, she used both her hands and wedged against both sides of the door. She sat on the back of her legs and pulled herself backwards, ignoring the pain that came from his hand holding tightly onto her hair.
“She try o,” the guys jokingly commended her struggle in Pidgin English and laughed as they watched the spectacle she made.
Stacey hoped she was enough distraction and was beginning to worry that Cecil would never show. Her arms hurt badly and she knew it would take an inconsequential amount of effort from the giant to drag her into the house of horror.
Apart from the plan, Stacey suddenly had an image of the giant dragging her in before Cecil or Eddy got to her, and banging the door shut. Then they would all take turns tearing her cloths and raping her.
It was a horrid imagination and it spiked up her fear and she did the only thing she could think, she reached for her protection.
It was a mindless move. At this point, Stacey had totally forgotten the script of the plan. The terrible imagination opened a flood of adrenaline and it rushed to her head. She was on a fight or flight mode, and she could fight.
Her hand grasped the butt of the gun stuck in her jean, the same moment she heard, Cecil shout, “Down!” the cocking of her rifle echoing ominously.
Stacey was far gone though and the next few seconds happened in slow motion.
On her knees, being dragged by a brute with his hand firmly grasped in her hair, she pulled the gun, grappled with it in a breathless moment, afraid it would slip from her sweaty palm…
She placed it on his ankle, where her hand reached, her fore finger naturally slipping into the trigger space, she squeezed the trigger…
The gun exploded right in front of her eyes, the sharp fire and recoil of the gun flinging her sideways the same moment, Cecil opened fire on the house.
WHEN THE GENERATOR HAD started sputtering and causing the light bulb in the sitting room to fluctuate, Shaggy had had a sudden inkling; and had hoped his inkling had been right.
The stupid cult guys should have been worried but they weren’t.
When the light went off, Shaggy had surreptitiously started crawling towards the nearest passage, the one that led directly to the cell holding the kidnapped men. He still had the keys to the cell.
But the light had come back on sooner than he’d expected and he’d stopped his movements, sighing in weary disappointment, apparently his inkling had been wrong. He’d been expecting a charge in the darkness and from the back door but nothing happened. His stomach began hurting from the gnawing hunger.
He hadn’t eaten for hours and it felt like days and he didn’t work well without food, it brought back too many horrid memories he wanted to keep locked up.
Shaggy used the pretense of shifting out of the way for one of the guys who had a cigarette dangling from his lips to move closer to the passage. The guy walked by, kicking him a bit on his way to the other passage, the one that would lead to the back door…where the generator was.
His legs now hung half out, pointing to where Nkakad lay bloodied and King Edem’s steward lay whimpering, while his upper body lay behind a chair, closer to the passage.
He had no plan but he was alert for any kind of opportunity that would fetch him a gun, he was so ready to get out of that house, the job and the balance of his money be damned.
Shaggy had wondered why the crew was so stupid. They could have collected the money from the old man and fled with no hassle.
But they beat up the man and decided they’d settle in and begin calling for ransom money for the prisoners later in the night, instructing the wives to bring the money before noon the next day. At least, the amount they’d decided on wasn’t exorbitant; the wives would gladly pay that to release their husbands without necessarily involving the police.
A wise man would have just taken what he could and left the situation, but none was wise in that crew; all were collectively greedy.
When the delicate knock had sounded on the door, Shaggy had almost groaned, no knock on that door had turned out good today, he’d thought.
And Shaggy had instantly been shocked when he’d heard the female voice at the door. Sweet, loving Jesus! What was the stupid female doing there, didn’t she know she’d be raped?
And who the hell was Dee?
Run girl, run, he silently griped as he lay there with bated breath, scared for the unknown girl at the door.
He could hear her fear and he could hear the bad intentions in the tone of the one called Hanky. They were low class thugs, doing anything to assert their power, which led them to be unnecessarily vicious and basically senseless.
His fury bloomed as the girl started begging and struggling. He would never allow that girl to be harmed; in fact, she was probably the distraction that he needed.
When they begun tearing her cloths off, their attention clearly fixed on her, he would strike.
Shaggy gulped in deep breaths, prepping his move mentally, trying to recall where he’d seen them drop the AK47 rifle, it would be the best bet in subduing all of them.
“She try o,” he heard on of the guys comment, obviously commending her effort at struggling as a joke, the roared in laughter while the girl whimpered with her effort to get away.
Shaggy wasn’t seeing anything since he was half way behind a chair. Would their attention already be on the girl, he wondered. Groaning in frustration, he started unobtrusively returning to where he’d, at least, see everybody’s position.
His movement were stilled with a shout from outside, a stronger voice shouting the most unrelated word in the situation, “Down!” and then a pistol exploded, echoing loudly in the room shortly before the staccato of rapid gun fire permeated the air and apparently the house, because wood flew, louvres shattered and pandemonium broke out.
Panic and confusion laced the shouting in the room. With sounds of table shifting, Shaggy knew they were all taking cover. Hanky was howling loudly and he knew he must have been shot…by the soft spoken girl?
Shaggy had been struck numb and motionless with shock when the pistol had gone off. But after a while and recognizing the rapid auto fire of the TAR-21 rifle, the DSS official weapon, he had grinned and belly crawled towards the passage knowing finally the cavalry had arrived.
He saw two of the guys crawling towards the passage that would lead to the back door, they had guns. Shaggy contemplated tackling them and getting the gun, just as he heaved himself to crawl towards them, another rapid fire echoed from the corridor.
It was fascinating to see how fast holes were made in the ceiling.
“Drop the gun, arse hole,” he heard a distinctively female voice say and then a cock of the gun and bullets spread on the ground, close to where the guys lay.
They shouted their surrender; guns sliding towards the corridor so fast he almost missed it. Just as he quickly crawled into the darkened passage leading to the cell, he saw the tall, light skinned lady.
She wasn’t joking, Shaggy admired the way she held the gun and was shocked to see the slight protrude of her stomach through her DSS crested Kevlar vest. His eyes widened, was the DSS agent pregnant?
Shaking his head in wonder, he crawled deeper into the darkness and got up when he reached the next turn.
From where he stood, he could see the kidnapped guys on the floor but close to the rods, obviously taking cover and also trying to see what was coming their way.
As he reached for the key in his jean pocket, he listened and heard only two voices of authority, both female; had the DSS sent only three women? Because he now realized the young girl had been playing a script.
Walking silently towards the gate, his hand frantically searching for the key, he was shocked to hear sudden war cry behind him. When he turned, he had no time to stop the female barreling down on him.
His eyes widened because she actually dived, knocking him backwards, the momentum taking them past the cell rods. Shaggy landed on his back, the breath knocked out of him in a heavy huff on impact.
The female whimpered and instead of Shaggy being pissed or even protect himself from whatever violent intensions she might have, his heart melted at that tiny sound she’d made.
He was uncharacteristically concerned for the well being of his assailant. His hands naturally rounded her waist and it felt perfect; shocking, but it felt right, like his arm belonged there.
When she turned on his body and saw him staring, she gasped, her mouth hung open and he knew she felt what he was feeling. She didn’t make any move to leave his body; in fact, it looked like she’d forgotten what she should be doing, attacking him.
Shaggy’s eyes twinkled with mirth and he had the pressing urge to hold her closer, hug her, make her his. He had never had such an urge, women were basically play things to him and he didn’t understand why he would feel this way about this stranger, it should have worried him, he should have immediately untangled himself from her but he couldn’t.
Suddenly, he panicked; Shaggy didn’t want to lose the instant connection he had with this woman. He saw in her eyes, the shock of him too, she licked her lips nervously but couldn’t draw her eyes away; it was magnetic and Shaggy wanted to own it, he wanted her to own him.
“Ahem!” someone from the cell cleared his throat pointedly, but none of them shifted or moved or looked away.
“So,” the person started conversationally, “Not to break the solemn eye connection, but, could you send the key this way?”
“A war is breaking out around us and they are looking into each others eyes?” Morgan snapped after PJ had requested for the key to the cell.
Shaggy smiled, his eyes never leaving her eyes, he sat up. The small movement snapped her into action, she pressed her hands against his chest and made to get up but he tightened his arm around her soft body and sat up straighter.
The movements made her naturally spread her legs and sit astride him. Shaggy sighed, he heard her breathing quicken, the warmth of it brushing his ear delicately, it was the best feeling in the world to be pressed against her softness.
His fingers fished for the errant key while one hand held her close, he found it and flung it precisely into the cell.
“Thank you,” PJ said dryly.
Shaggy opened his mouth to speak, to say his name, to know hers, to know everything about her, to know how she could evoke these strange and intense feelings in him, but he heard another war cry and was instantly slammed from the back, he gasped in pain and fell to the side, the bundle of pleasure on his laps gasped and quickly scrambled from his arms.
“Debbie, no!” she blurted, while moving to stand protectively over him.
“What?!” Debbie asked in shock but was instantly distracted when the cell opened and she flew into her husband’s arms.
“You’re sleeping with the enemy already, Abigail?” Wana asked in an obvious joke, she didn’t wait for Abigail’s confused sputter of explanation, she raced to her husband too, dropping her machete eagerly to get wrapped in his arms.
Slay left the cell and moved quickly towards his wife’s voice, Ebong left too. Richard came out tentatively and Wana gasped in shock, wrapping him in her arms immediately.
Morgan looked around, wondering where his wife was. He both wanted to see her and dreaded that she had risked her life to come to this place. His eyes fell on Shaggy and his anger at King Edem and the whole messed up day suffused him.
He reached down and grabbed Shaggy by the throat, slamming him on the wall, his eyes spewed fire, “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t snap your neck now,” he fumed.
Java retreated into the cell again, he thought better of it, he didn’t need Morgan recalling he was there, better Shaggy receive the rough handling than him. He was fed up of the whole day and didn’t even know where he stood in the over all scheme of things.
Shaggy choked, his eyes moving sideways to see his girl, Abigail her name was, eyes wide and worried. It was a lovely feeling despites currently struggling for breath, this Morgan was a strong one.
“Because,” he replied chokingly, “I’ve-been-beaten-the-whole-day-for-things-I’m-innocent-of,” his sputtered answer confused Morgan.
“Ekpembe!” Cecil called sharply, “Let him go,” she commanded like the leader she was; Morgan instantly released his neck and he slumped to the floor.
“What are you doing here, Sam?” she asked Shaggy in exasperation, while Morgan walked past her not concerned about him any more. Abigail seemed to remember herself then, she snapped out of her stupor and followed Morgan out of the passage; Shaggy was disappointed to see her go.
“Mom? That was you outside?” he asked in shock and struggled to his feet.
“Mom?” Ebong asked, equally shocked but in a hard tone, he must have followed her back here.
Cecil swiveled to find the confused hurt in his eyes, she shook her head, “It’s not what you think, Usen,” she stammered.
It was a strange thing to see the strong Cecil, IMI TAR-21 still in hand, looking flustered by the mere raised eyebrow of a man, Shaggy thought, interesting.
He immediately read the situation after looking from one to the other, “She’s not my real mom, Sir,” he explained, “I started calling her that the first time she ever hired me and fussed about my safety.”
Ebong released the tense breath that had gotten stuck in his throat, “Hired?” he managed to ask.
“Sam is a private detective,” Cecil explained, “That is if he’ll ever get his damn license,” she joked and rolled her eyes.
“”I’ve applied, Ebube is supposed to help me…”
“Speaking of the devil,” Cecil commented dryly when they all heard Ebube’s booming voice from the sitting room, demanding to know what was going on.
They made their way to the sitting room, Shaggy bringing up the rear.
Java held his breath and was thankful that no one noticed him, he’d just been about to sigh in relief, when, “You can come out now, Java, it’s okay,” Shaggy called out and waited until he emerged from the cell.
“We have some serious explaining to do,” he said, putting his arm around Java’s shoulders.
‘And if we succeed in talking our way out of this, I’ll need you to come work for me.”
Java was startled, “Work for you?” he croaked, he’d been dreading being dragged to prison.
“I need your hacking skills in my line of work…”
Java shook his head, “I’m not doing anything criminal,” he blurted vehemently.
“Of course not,” Shaggy smiled as they entered the crowded sitting room.
“Shaggy!” Ikpa shouted in relief, his eyes widening in trepidation because, Slay was pointing his wife’s gun at him and watching one of the cops Ebube had brought along, readying his cuffs to put on his wrist.
“He’s with me,” Shaggy called out casually.
“I don’t understand, how could both of you allow this to happen when you were on our side the whole time?”
“I don’t have a license yet, I couldn’t just go around shooting criminals willy nilly, could I?” Shaggy quipped and grinned. “Ebube hired me to locate a notorious criminal, set him up and get him arrested; I worked with my team to make it happen,” he said plainly and shrugged.
Slay shook his head wearily, his hand rounding his wife’s waist, “This night just gets weirder and weirder,” he commented.
“And we haven’t gotten the full explanation yet,” Eddy murmured while burrowing into her husband’s warmth.
Shaggy had to silently agree with her, the explanation for this whole day was going to take weeks.
DUCT SEASON 4 continues
Your comments bring out the beauty in our stories. Have your say in the comment box below. To share our story, click on the Facebook share button or on the twitter button.
Follow our twitter handle @lagosconvo