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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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THE HAND OF GOD (Part 5)

Previously on The Hand Of God

There’s an assassination attempt designed to take the life of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Godwin Fimibama. An airstrike on the aircraft he is seen boarding along with company for a summit in Cote d’Ivoire. But it is a decoy that gets killed. The president still lives and npow knows how powerful his enemies are.

*

“I love you, wife.”

“I love you, husband.”

The man and woman kiss, passionately embracing, clinging to each other, hands grasping at each other’s bodies.

Then the moment is broken by a sharp explosion. A jagged tear zigzags across the floor, and they are pulled roughly apart. The wall behind the man is blown open, and radiates outwards into a swirling darkness lit by sparks of lightning. He is lifted off the ground, and his body begins to move back, as though tugged into the hole by an invisible hand.

“No . . .!” she shrieks, stretching her hand out to him. “Grab my hand . . .!”

He tries. He flaps his hands about in a desperate attempt to catch hers. But the force pulling him back is too strong. There is a fierce current of wind eddying, pulling him. Just him. Not her, surprisingly. And in a quick moment, he topples backward, flailing and shouting, his screams of terror cut abruptly short when his body is struck by one of the lightning sparks, lighting him up into a loud explosion of fire and body parts that has her clutching her chest, her heart, and screaming in anguish. “Nooooo . . .!”

***

Crying out, Julia floated rapidly to the surface. She felt hands, strong hands on her, trying to hold her still. But she struggled against the hands, trying to break free.

“Jules! Julia –!” a male voice said urgently. “It’s me, Patrick!”

She twitched and then was still. There was a dampness on her skin, and her eyelids fluttered, but didn’t open.

“Are you alright?” the male voice whispered.

A quiet shiver ran through her body. “Just hold me.”

And in that moment, till morning, that was all the man could do.

***

The Harmattan chill hadn’t descended on the evening yet, but if the gradually lengthening shadows was any indication, both the cold and the dark were not far off. The two people in the tennis court of the exclusive Handel Club however didn’t seem to mind, so engrossed were they in their game. From the fierce concentration etched on their sweaty faces, it was obvious that neither of them wanted to lose.

Punctuated by the squeak of their tennis shoes on the ground, the green balls bounced off the ground, pursued by a resonance, rubberized thumps that carried into the next hit. The man was in his mid-thirties and fit, the leanness of his build speaking of his dedication to some sort of exercise regimen. The woman was just a few years younger, and was fast, covering the court like a greyhound, swift of feet and eyes, settling into a rhythm, one smooth stroke after another speeding the balls to where her opponent was not.

For a while, they fought for dominance, playing with a trapped intensity, until he, who fancied himself a master in the game, felt propelled by reserves of adrenaline, half-conscious. On a final point, she slashed a wickedly-angled shot to his right. With an instinct fuelled by anticipation, he lunged and stretched to hit the ball with a desperate swing of his bat. The ball looped in a wide arc, unbelievably beyond her reach. His point, his game.

Breathing heavily, Julia watched the ball dying in small bounces with final rubbery whimpers. Grimacing, she said to Patrick, “You won’t get the chance to do that again.”

Patrick struggled with his laughter in between heaving breaths. “I am never – EVER – playing you again. Absolutely no rematches.”

“Unacceptable,” Julia said curtly. “For someone who barely won a match with a woman – on a lucky shot, at that – you’re far too pleased with yourself.”

“No triumph too small.” She was smiling when he walked over to her and said, “Now, quit being a sore loser and give me some sugar.” He had a roguish grin on his face.

She laughed and went into his arms for a kiss. The kiss was sweet and quick, and she leaned back with another grimace. “You’re sweaty. I’m sweaty. Let’s go have a bath, and go on home.”

“My place or yours?”

“Mine. I have a mean tomato sauce recipe I want to try out for you.”

Patrick kissed her again before murmuring, “An awesome tennis player, a great kisser and a good cook. Is there anything you cannot do, my good woman?”

Hearing that, Julia felt herself grow cold in his arms. The ice flickered from her nerve endings, spreading out over her body and reaching up to grasp her heart like a giant fist. Her smile dimmed and she struggled to keep it in place.

I couldn’t save my husband, she thought, feeling an echo of a pain that was supposed to be long forgotten. I couldn’t do that one thing – save my husband.

***

Julia Onyema had become certain sometime in their four-month relationship that she was most certainly not attracted to Patrick Ntia because of any physical attributes he might have with her deceased husband, Akeem Onyango. Both men had the same height, with thick hair they liked to wear closely-cropped to the head and fine features. That was where the similarities ended. Patrick was light-skinned and slender, kept forever thin because of a metabolism that had his insides always churning and which gave him an ulcer at thirty, now in remission. He lacked Akeem’s blatant sensuality; his attractiveness was mild, the kind that drew you in gently until you were enveloped in its warmth, as opposed to the hit-you-in-the-face appeal Akeem had had. Immediately after their first kiss, she’d fallen hard and fast for her husband, whereas four months into their relationship, she still wasn’t sure how she felt about Patrick. To her, he felt safe, comfortable, dependable.

And a civilian too like her, she added mentally, feeling grateful for the chance the past two years had afforded her to live on the other side of the tracks, away from all the secrecy and darkness that had characterized her life as a secret agent. She was in real estate now, and she was gradually carving a niche for herself as this kind of Nigerian she had known nothing about in the nine years before the brutal murder of her husband. She was ordinary now, and that was the way she wanted it. The way Akeem would have wanted it.

“A penny for your thoughts,” Patrick’s voice intruded in her musing. He was behind the wheel, weaving through the Lagos Island traffic as they headed to the Mainland.

She turned on a wry smile and said, “What makes you think my thoughts are worth a mere penny?”

“Well, tell me how much so I’ll make a pit stop at an ATM machine and make a quick withdrawal.”

She let out a small gust of laughter. That was just the kind of carefree remark that came from someone who was leading a privileged life. Patrick was one of the top executives of Robotons, the technological conglomerate who was the frontrunner in the importation from the United States of the RD-13 series, the ever-evolving robot technology that was used as household help and equipment. Dealings in automatons had become big business in Nigeria, and in the past few years had successfully edged the oil business out of its place as the number one Nigerian enterprise. Technological companies were starting to produce far more millionaires than oil syndicates.

“Don’t worry about what I’m thinking,” she said. “It’s nothing.” She reached a hand forward to clasp and rub gently his right hand which was placed on the car compartment between their seats.

“You know that’s a lie,” he said gravely.

Julia turned a quizzical look to him. He was staring straight ahead as he maneuvered his car through the light evening traffic. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“You know what I mean, Julia.” He looked at her. “You had another nightmare last night.”

Her heartbeat stilled for a second, and her gaze skidded away from his. “I did, huh?”

“Yes, you did. And it was pretty much like all the others. You muttering a lot of gibberish, and then struggling and breathing heavily, until I grab hold of you to keep you calm.” When she didn’t say anything, he added almost plaintively, “Julia, what do you dream about?”

Her face was still averted from his as she fought to maintain a neutral expression over the turbulent emotions roiling inside her. “I told you before, Pat. I don’t remember,” she said woodenly.

“That’s another lie –”

“It’s not a lie –”

“Listen. I know you have a past. What beautiful woman doesn’t? But we’ve been seeing each other for four months now, and in that time, I’ve come to care a lot about you. Normally, I wouldn’t mind whatever your past is about, but it’s intruding on the present, and I’m afraid that you not telling me is a way of shutting me out. And I care about you too much, Jules, too much to let that happen.’

She finally turned her head around to meet his earnest gaze, to contemplate what he was asking. The man had absolutely no idea who she’d been and the things she’d done. When he met her, she was the real estate agent who brokered the deal on the property his company wanted for a new branch it was going to open in Ajah. To him, she was simply the good-looking, driven career woman who he found irresistible, and asked out on a date after their second business meeting. He knew nothing else, and that was the way she wanted it. Besides the condition the NIA had given her for letting her go without any fuss was that she keep her identity as an agent secret from her new life. If she told anyone, they would know, and there would be consequences. In the past two years, she hadn’t noticed the presence of the agency lurking in the shadows around her, but she’d been a part of that world, and she knew how good they were at staying out of sight.

She drew in a slow breath, and on expelling it, she said, “I lost my husband. Two years ago.”

Whatever Patrick had been expecting her to say, it was obvious from his stunned expression that it hadn’t been that. He blinked rapidly and refocused on the road. “You were married?” he rasped.

“Yes. For a short while.”

“You lost him how?”

“In a car accident.” The recollection swamped her with a sense of déjà vu, and she felt a slight nausea at the faint echo of sensations – the scalding heat of the explosion, the feeling of weightlessness as the force of the blast lifted her into the air, the anguish that tore through her heart as she screamed at the flames, and the merciful loss of consciousness. It had been two years, and the memory of that terrible morning was still as fresh as yesterday, as disorienting as the aftershock of a bad dream.

“When did this happen?”

“About two years ago.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“But that’s what gives you the nightmares, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“You were there during the accident?”

“Yes.”

“You should talk to someone, Jules.”

“I’m fine, Pat. Really, I am. I stopped having these dreams a long time ago. I guess they are back now because this month will mark the second-year anniversary of Akeem’s death.”

“Akeem . . . that was his name?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“Where was he from?”

“I really don’t want to go into all that, Patrick,” she said gently, insistently. She gave his free hand a small squeeze.

His fingers clasped hers, and he squeezed back. “I just don’t like seeing you suffer. These nights you have these nightmares – I see the pain on your face. All that private hell, it can’t be good for you, staying locked up inside. If you talked to someone – to me, it could help relieve what you’re going through.”

“I’ll be fine, Patrick . . .”

“I believe that any day you make it through without suffering is a day you made it through without suffering.” He took his eyes off the road to look searchingly at her. “Give me a chance to take your suffering from you, Jules.”

She smiled wanly. “Give me time, Pat. Okay? Give me some time.”

He opened his mouth, as though to say something more, to try to press her some more, then seemed to think better about it and turned back to the road.

The rest of the drive happened in silence, with the two occupants of the car locked away in their thoughts. Soon, Patrick was pulling his car into the compound upon which stood the block of flats where Julia lived. The property was located in one of the upscale suburbs of Surulere, in a neighbourhood that fairly bustled with daytime hustle and lacked the serene exclusivity of the Lagos Island suburbia. Patrick’s headlights swept across the front yard like searchlights during a prison break, before he pulled up in a spot and killed the engine.

Acting on an impulse, Julia leaned toward him and kissed him. For a split second, he was too taken aback by her action to respond. Then he started to kiss her back. His mouth felt warm to hers. His fingers threaded through her hair to hold her to him, although that wasn’t necessary; she didn’t want to move. His tongue swept inside her mouth, to taste, to stroke, to stoke her desire. He held her still as his mouth slanted over hers again and again in a kiss that left her breathless.

Then she broke the contact and pulled herself back, smiling at him.

He was smiling back. “What was that for?” he husked.

“Just wanted to let you know that I’m not shutting you out. Someday soon, I’ll tell you everything, I promise.”

He nodded, and after a momentous silence had elapsed, said good-humouredly, “You want to get inside? Or do we get back to making out right here? Frankly, I prefer the latter.”

“Of course you do,” Julia said laughingly as she opened the car door on her side. “Let’s get inside. I told you I had something delicious to cook for you.”

They were conversing lightly as she led him up the stairs to the topmost floor and unlocked the door, ushering him into her apartment. The living room was comfortably furnished, and spoke of good taste and careful usage. There was a small, expensive TV set and sound system inside a cabinet directly across the room from a couple of terracotta sofas. A wicker-and-glass coffee table sat in front. A small row of bookshelves lined one of the walls. And a small, round dining table and two hard-backed chairs were at the end of the room.

“I never get tired of marveling at how simple and elegant you’ve kept your house,” Patrick said as he strolled in the direction of the bookcase. He got there and began to peer at the labeled spines of the books. “And these books, some of them are collector’s items, from years and years back. I don’t read much literature, but I have a friend who will think your library priceless.”

“Yea?” Julia dropped her keys and phone on the coffee table and started toward Patrick. “Well, seeing as you don’t read, you have no idea the depth of mystery lying beyond those books.” She had an enigmatic expression on her face that Patrick didn’t notice.

Just then, she saw something that sent her heartbeat into an instant overdrive. It was a red dot tracing a journey along the wall beyond Patrick’s head. Driven by instinct, she looked down on her body and saw the same pinpoint-targeting device coming to rest on her chest. Her head whirled around as she followed the origin to the windows facing the porch, and outward to the street and the darkness and the rifle scope of unseen assailants.

She didn’t stop to think. She roared, “Get down, Patrick!”

And then she leaped forward toward her boyfriend, knocking the man down milliseconds before her highly attuned senses heard the crack of glass, and the whistle of bullets, one which seared a path so close to her cheek as she fell that she felt the burning sting of the miss.

And that was when all hell broke loose.

I am @Walt_Shakes on Twitterdiscord 10

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37 Comments

  1. Wow! This was thrilling. Finally back to Julia, and the ending was superb. Keep it coming Walt. We’re in 2024 now?

    Reply
  2. I am loving this. Kudos boss. A very good read.

    Reply
  3. until i got to the end,i tot i was watching a Hollywood movie.what happened next??#eager

    Reply
  4. Yemie

     /  January 4, 2014

    Oh no, here we go AGAIN!. Please Walter, don’t kill Patrick prematurely; I pray thee, my liege! LMAO!

    I doubt that Julia will ever lead a normal life after her stint as an agent. She’s even lucky they let her off the hook alive. From what I’ve learnt ’bout them agents, the Russian KGB, American CIA, Israeli Mossad, British Scotland Yard and others too numerous to mention, you live and die as an agent once you join such groups, so one does not pose a security risk to them, selling them out to external bodies. And God knows that I do look forward to that Nigeria where technological companies will begin to produce more millionaires than the oil conglomerates, that will be awesomeness.

    Wow, this was so intriguing, captivating and absolutely engaging. Walter, I sniff a bestseller right here. Can a person be sooo gifted? Jeez! You gat SKILLZ!

    Reply
  5. Evan

     /  January 4, 2014

    Na winch? Abeg make them allow my Jules drink water keep cup nah. Beautiful writing Walter. Please tell that old woman to stop stirring Julia’s pot.

    Reply
  6. Anavami

     /  January 4, 2014

    I tot Akeem died in a car explosion but in dis episode he kind of died again in d airplane explosion or am i mixin d whole stuff up?
    Pls sombdy help me undastd.

    Reply
    • OK. Here’s the story. Akeem did die in a car explosion. (See Part 1). And the part about the airplane explosion has to do with the president (See Part 4). The intro to this part was a dream which Julia had as she relived the death of Akeem. Do you get it now?

      Reply
  7. Evan

     /  January 4, 2014

    Alright Walter. I anticipate a happy ending for Julia and you better don’t dash my hopes.

    Reply
  8. Pieces coming together. Nice…

    Reply
  9. Excellency

     /  January 4, 2014

    Nice, real nice! U write right buddy 🙂 Bravo!

    Reply
  10. Echoing Yemie, how can one person be this gifted?! And I smell a bestseller here too..

    The bit abt “previously on hand of God” is so cool, gives the feeling that one is watching a series…Nice concept!

    I’m liking the actions too…

    Reply
  11. GIBSON

     /  January 4, 2014

    Nice one Sir Walt Shakes!

    Reply
  12. olisaeloka

     /  January 5, 2014

    Wonderful! Great dialogue! Superb suspense. Mehn, this is a THRILLER ! ! !

    Reply
  13. 1. I’m liking, no, LOVING, your new blog look. And 2. Fam. This is the stuff books are made of. You. Go. Fam…!!!

    Don’t let Patrick die though. Julia needs a civilian ally in this takeover.

    Reply
  14. Anavami

     /  January 6, 2014

    Ya, i get it nw Walter and Thanks 4 d explanatn. Tot Akeem ws also d presidos double.
    Nice story, cnt wait 2 c hw it continues and thank u 4 always writing.

    Reply
  15. Joyexcel

     /  January 9, 2014

    Nice work. Pls Patrick shdn’t die for Julia’s sake. I’m enjoying dis seriously

    Reply
  16. Kachi

     /  January 9, 2014

    Actually can anyone be more talented!? This is a bestseller !! Pieces now coming in together, can’t wait to get to the running and hiding and the escapes and adrenaline jives… Nice one!

    Reply
  17. All I can say is ‘ghen ghen ghen ghen!!!’,the action has just begun.lol. Nice one bro,keep the action coming.
    “I believe that everyday you make it through without suffering is a day you made it through without suffering”…sorry but is this an error or am I the one not just deep enough to see the sense Patrick’s tryna make? <_<

    Reply
  18. ebony87

     /  January 13, 2014

    Hmmmmm.. You my young man, are gifted. I’m hooked. Definitely hooked. Thumbs up..

    Reply
  19. louisa

     /  January 25, 2014

    I started reading the hand of God yesterday and i’ve been hooked since. At the end of this episode though, I just had to comment. Will I say i’ve fallen in love with you or your writing? Both are the same to me.

    Reply
  20. Ryalitee

     /  February 16, 2014

    Hmmmm,I just have to comment;I’m suspecting patrick is not even a normal civilian,he’s probably one of them NIA ops. Anyway,I’ll read what happens next.
    Walt,u sure are talented….

    Reply
  21. Sara

     /  April 13, 2014

    You write good Walt. I think I might be falling in love.

    Reply
  1. THE HAND OF GOD (Part 8) | MY MIND SNAPS

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