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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 8)

The Hand Of GodPreviously on The Hand Of God (Parts FIVE and SIX)

Julia Onyema, ex-operative of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) has moved on in the two years since the death of her husband. She has a new life and a new man in it. She believes her past is behind her. But all that is shattered in one night when gunmen fire their way into her life with every intention to kill.

*

Who the hell are you, Julia?

The words resonated through Julia’s mind with unflinching tenacity, causing her to grimace each time she remembered the shock and bewildered outrage – and hurt too – that coloured Patrick’s voice when he said them.

She bit out a curse as she sped down the Third Mainland Bridge, flowing with the traffic that was headed to the island. As she drove, she ruminated over the events of two nights ago, and the aftermath yesterday. In the past forty-eight hours, her life had taken a dizzying turn that had her reeling a little. It could have been worse; her emotions could have been all over the place, had she not been the kind of woman she was.

The police. Bewildered neighbours, some of them frantic. The probing questions and distrustful stares of the uniforms. The feet picking their way through the rubble that was her living room. And then, the devastation she saw ravaging Patrick’s face as, no doubt, the realization that she wasn’t the woman he thought he knew sank in.

That had been the part of the evening that hurt her the most. Not the mess the gunfight turned her home into. Not the aches and bruises she sustained from the fight with her assailant. Not even the knowledge that the dominoes of her life which she’d spent two years painstakingly putting in order had been knocked askew. What had her heart contracting with some pain was the riot of emotions, none of them favourable, that kept Patrick’s face frozen throughout the time the police had been around. He’d stayed until the very early hours of the morning, around 1am, when the police left after taking down statements and giving reassurances of a determined investigation. She’d walked up to him then, as he stood beside his car. His shock was still there. His confusion. His disbelief.

“Pat. . .” she husked.

“Who are you?” he asked hoarsely.

“I am Julia, Patrick. The very same Julia you–”

“No, no, no. . .” He was shaking his head. “I mean, who are you, really?”

“I can’t tell you all of that, not now anyway.”

“Did you really have a husband?” The doubt, hot and accusing, stung her.

“Of course I did.”

“And you lost him in a car crash? Just like you said?”

“Patrick, what I told you was the truth.”

“Just not the entire truth, was it?”

Her silence was all the response she could give. “Darling, please. . .” She lifted a hand toward his face. He flinched away from her. Her hand froze and she dropped it to her side. She was losing him. Numbness seeped into her at the thought. Feeling defeated, she stepped back from him and said, “You should go.”

He nodded and got inside his car. He gave her one last look, one that was replete with several expressions she couldn’t – or didn’t want to – decipher, before he turned on the ignition, engaged the gear and drove out of the compound.

In that moment, as she watched his taillights vanish into the darkness, she felt an acute sense of isolation surge through her. It felt as though she was watching her future leave. And why shouldn’t it? Her past had come crashing in on her, complete with dangerous men and flashing firearms. She couldn’t afford to let Patrick stay on with her. Pushing him away was for the best. Until she found answers to the questions that were now plaguing her mind, any association with her was precarious.

She closed her eyes and, unbidden, thought about Akeem. She recalled his image, and was horrified to realize it was already fading in her mind’s eye. How could that be? It had only been two years. She could no longer tell if she was seeing memory or something she conjured up to replace what she was already forgetting.

Damn it! Oh Akeem . . .!

The tears that stung her eyes in that time prickled the corners of her eyes now as she steered her car through the less-chaotic traffic of Lagos Island. She blinked the tears away and flicked a glance at her rearview mirror. So far, on the drive from Yaba, she hadn’t noticed any tail. Following the destruction of her apartment in Surulere, she’d had to move to a condo she was leasing in Yaba. A phone call from her had gotten hired a remodeling company she frequently worked with to put aright her apartment, and then she relocated to the condo with the barest essentials. Essentials which included her armoury. She may have been caught off guard by those gunmen, but that wasn’t going to happen again. If they came for her again, she was determined to take a good number of them down with her.

When she didn’t pick put any particular vehicle sitting constantly on her tail, she wasn’t surprised. They must know, from the apparent geography of her driving, where she was headed. She had questions, and there was only one place, and one man, who could give her the answers.

“. . . a truly sad development. It’s been an ongoing investigation by the NIA in the past six months.” The distinguishable voice of President Fimibama crackled through the speakers of her car radio, fracturing her preoccupation. “Our sources have been reliable, and the investigation has revealed that the passengers of Flight Plan One were indeed terrorist sponsors, all of them contributing, through a network we’re still working on, to the welfare of the infamous and vile sodality known as Boko Haram. I have no doubt that the airstrike on Flight Plan One was meant for me, and for my protection, my security detail thought it wise for me to use a look-alike in all publicized presidential take-offs, until such a time that the traitorous network of spies which have infiltrated our government was dismantled.”

Julia turned to the radio, her brow furrowed with concentration on the president’s voice, and his speech, one which had already been televised so much in the past few days following the bombing of Flight Plan One. The nation’s confusion, that the president everyone had seen get on the ill-fated plane was in fact alive and was nowhere near the plane, had quickly turned to blistering outrage with several media outlets and political pundits vociferously demanding an explanation.

“I truly mourn the death of Alex Andile, the South African actor who was hired to act as my doppelganger, and despite the treachery of my subordinates, I am deeply saddened by the senseless loss of their lives. And for this, I give you my word, my fellow Nigerians, that I will do everything in my power to terminate this threat that Boko Haram poses to our great country. I will –”

Julia snapped off the radio. She’d heard all that spiel before. Like the rest of the public, she’d gone through a volley of emotions since the airstrike. Shock at the act of terrorism. Sadness over the loss of lives. Astonishment when President Fimibama revealed himself alive and unhurt. And indignation at the notion that he’d deliberately played the public. She still wasn’t even sure she was mollified by this seemingly well-polished excuse he was giving.

Soon, she was driving through an area in Victoria Island where a number of companies were headquartered, the buildings situated in park-like surroundings. They were all similar, stretching several stories high, monoliths constructed with glass and marble that gleamed in the morning light. Julia hadn’t been in this environment in two years, but she drove by rote, every memory of sight, smell and feel, as the sophisticated vista swept past her, feeling fresh.

She slowed her car when she got to the last turnoff in the expansive street. It was a close, and at the end of the thoroughfare stood the building that housed the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency. It didn’t look as spectacular as its grander neighbours. It was marble and glass, but it didn’t tower. Instead, it stood squatly, a four-storey affair that spread out into a large, horizontal complex.

She took the winding pathway constructed on one side of the building to the basement level which served as the parking lot. Then she trekked back to the main building, sweeping past the vast entrance into the reception. It was a wide, uncluttered space, with people moving about. Their expressions were serious, their strides purposeful, and the hum of their conversations and the staccato sounds of their steps on the tiled floors filled the room. There were several metal detectors placed directly before the entrance and manned by stern-faced, black-suited men, with the telltale signs of their holstered weapons peeking through their clothes.

She didn’t recognize any of them, but they would know her once she walked through any of the detectors. It wasn’t only because she was armed and would set off the machine in a beeping frenzy; there was also a facial recognition system affixed to the detectors which catapulted the face of every individual that walked through the detectors into the agency’s database. Within seconds, the person’s entire personal information – from his names, addresses, criminal record (if any and no matter how trivial), right down to who he or she was sleeping with – would pop up on the screens of the department in charge of Walk-In Identification. If you were clean, you made it through, all the way to the office of whomever you came to see. If you weren’t, well, there were people trained to squash any such nuisance.

Julia wasn’t bothered. In fact, she wanted the attention. She walked confidently through a detector, and saw the guard cock an eyebrow at her and gesture for her to deposit whatever metallic object she had on her in the plastic tray before him. Both eyebrows shot up to his hairline when she lifted a gun out from inside her jacket, unbuckled another one from her ankle and fished out a switchblade from her waist-band. She could imagine the commotion this spectacle was causing upstairs. An armed ex-operative was enough to set off all the red lights in the communications system.

After relinquishing her weapons, she continued on to the bank of elevators. There were more black-suited men there, with earpieces stuck inside their ear-lobes. They were armed too, and one of them started toward her with a stony expression.

“Excuse me, miss,” he began loudly and firmly, a hand stretched out as though to stop her. “But I’ll have to ask you to stop right there and state your business to me.”

“It’s not you I came here to see,” she hollered back, not breaking her stride.

“Miss, stop right there,” he commanded. His hand was moving toward his holster.

Julia freight-trained toward him as fast as she could. He was already jerking his gun out when she got close to him. She moved her arm in a quick overhand motion and hit him in the bridge of his nose, delivering the blow with the full power of the sweeping arc. Cartilages broke. Blood gushed. And the man choked out a scream. In one fluid motion, she snatched the gun from his hand and yanked his body around to serve as a blockade between her and the several guns that had suddenly sprung into the hands of the other men in the reception. She had the muzzle of her captive’s gun pressed against his temple, her finger braced against the trigger. Repeated shouts of ‘Drop the weapon’ boomed in the cavernous room, but she wasn’t listening to them.

She hissed into the ear of the man in her grasp, “I want you to radio him upstairs and tell him Julia is here to see him.”

“Who?” the man spat through his blood.

“You know who.”

There was an infinitesimal pause before he gritted out, “Over my dead body.”

“It may very well be,” Julia replied in a steely tone, pressing the muzzle harder against his temple. “If you don’t do as I said, I will kill you, and then find another way.”

“If you kill me, every gun in this room will cut you down, and then there won’t be any other way,” the man hissed back.

“Well, I have nothing to lose, mister. But you, are you willing to take that chance?”

No rejoinder came from her captive.

“You have exactly to the count of three to do as I said.”

“I won’t –”

“One. . .”

“You’re mad – you’re a mad woman –”

“Two. . .” She flicked back the safety on the gun.

“You won’t get away with this – you won’t make it –!” The man was talking fats and loud now.

“Three.” And her finger clenched over the trigger.

“Stand down! Everybody stand down!” A voice squawked just then through the public address system installed in the reception. “Let her through. The director wants to see her.”

I am @Walt_Shakes on Twitter

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Leave a comment

24 Comments

  1. Grace oruitemeka

     /  February 1, 2014

    Walter u eh…evry tym u’ll b doin smbdy longer throat…y did u end it here? Tis nt fair ni..#sighs

    Reply
  2. Yemie

     /  February 1, 2014

    Action movie toh baaaad gan! And boy am I loving my fiery, fierce and firebrand; Julia aka ‘Nikita’, One Woman- Army. Who dares to f..k with the chuck? Nice Walter, really nice. LMAO!

    This Fimibama guy’s really sneaky, Alex Andile who? Really??? *rolling me eyes*. And did he even think for a sec that the citizens will swallow that load of ‘horse crap-a-doodle’? Nice try, Fimi but this aint flying!

    Walter, what can I say that’s not been said before? This is a best seller in the works and it gets better with each new episode. This is got to be published plus its very timely, out of the box, totally believable as well as memorable and you gat it all locked down. C’est tres magnifique!

    Reply
    • Leave Fimi alone nah. He was only looking out for himself. Look out for more twists in future episodes. Nothing is as it seems.

      Reply
  3. @bertokoji

     /  February 1, 2014

    In ur mind of minds abi? Nice 1

    Reply
  4. toyinalabi

     /  February 1, 2014

    Wow. Lovely and captivating till the last line. I like the intrigue…kudos.

    Reply
  5. Seriously!!! You had to end it there…@waltshakes…rme…

    Reply
  6. Olisa

     /  February 1, 2014

    So cool. Very captiving and suspenseful. NEEEXXXXTTTT !!!

    Reply
  7. Chimezie

     /  February 1, 2014

    Has all the attributes of a triller. Great write.

    Reply
  8. Nancy

     /  February 1, 2014

    One of the reason am registering for karate n boxing lessons!….Nikita indeed! Waltz u’v made my day.

    Reply
  9. cutie

     /  February 1, 2014

    Gadt dammit mehn! Nw u mk me want to join NIA *wink*. Nice one

    Reply
  10. Hmmm…we are doing tinz, Walter…doing good writerly tinz 😀

    Reply
  11. beautiful…just beautiful. keep it coming

    Reply
  12. Sure, guys. Stay tuned for more of the action. Thanks for reading. 🙂

    Reply
  13. You are just wicked Walter, when I was balancing to start the arduous journey , you pegged it, okay next week is another time.

    Reply
  14. What did you now gain by stopping here, Walter? What?
    I’m thinking…between you and the Alchemist, who is my favorite Nigerian action writer. I dunno yet but this is just to say how good you are.
    I have to take notes and u say you’re winging this? Biko, nna, teach me how to wing am too

    Reply
    • LOL. Get a feather from an eagle’s wing, another from a falcon’s win and a bunch of them from a chicken’s wings, and we’ll get started. 😀
      Thanks anyway, Sal.

      Reply
  15. abikoye

     /  February 3, 2014

    My kind of girl…… Julia temi nikan. Biko next episode should come soon enough. I remember a couple of my favourite movies…. can’t withstand this giant grin on my face

    Reply
  16. joyexcel

     /  February 4, 2014

    Why naaaaaaa? U didn’t ve to end dis episode like dt. The suspense u ve created eh. Julia is ready for d kill. Nice one man.

    Reply
  17. Kachi

     /  February 4, 2014

    Shit! And you had to end it there eh Walter!?? Damn!! This is one helluva thrilling ride mehn!

    Reply
  18. louisa

     /  February 5, 2014

    Wow wow wow. I’m liking this Julia.

    Reply
  19. good job!

    Reply

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