Click here to read the previous chapter Walk In The Dark, Walk In The Dark: Episode 2, Walk In The Dark: Episode 3, Walk In The Dark: Episode 4, Walk In The Dark: Episode 5, Walk In The Dark: Episode 6, Walk In The Dark: Episode 7, Walk In The Dark: Episode 8, Walk In The Dark: Episode 9 and Walk In The Dark: Episode 10
When Efretei got to the clearing further back behind the house, he was astound to find his men stand around a hole; that was about six feet, and inside were about four kids, standing knee deep in a muddied water, staring up at them bright eyes and hopeful. One of them was bleeding from a gash on the forehead. They were visibly shaking, hypothermia was obviously beginning to set in.
“What are you doing standing around here?! Make una find way comot them from inside there haba!!”
A tent was set up and the kids were housed in it and were offered officer’s rations to recuperate. A medic attended to them, wrapping them in plastic and administering medication to them, he also cleaned and wrapped the head of the one with the gash. When he was done, the medic informed Captain Efretei, who went in to talk to them.
“How una dey?” He asked, his eyes searching their faces.
“Fine.” They chorused.
“Cold still dey catch una?”
“No sir, na only small.” The boy with the gash replied.
“Una sorry oh?”
“Thank you sir.”
He cleared his throat and began. “How many of una bin dey this place?”
“We dey like 12 but two don die.” He then went on to narrate how they had escaped, their encounter with the ritualists in the forest and their subsequent recapture. Then he told him that some of them were still at large and that the men were still out in the forest searching for them.
“….there are a couple of them out there and so are the thugs. And sir, the boy Ade is still alive according to one of the captives I spoke with.” Efretei said into the radio.
“Alright, relay your findings to the other troops, tell them what to be in the lookout for.” The electronic voice of Major Collins over the radio.
“Yes sir, over and out.” Turning to one of his subordinates, “get on the radio, tell the others to be on the lookout for about six kids and five heavily armed men. They are to shoot on sight.”
“Okay sir.” The officer said and waltzed off to do as told.
The message had just come over the radio when Samuel saw the men head into the forest with intent, they followed quietly, keeping a safe distance, not wanting to alert their targets to their presence before they took up defensive positions.
They followed at a safe distance, till one of the men stopped to pee, Samuel and his men flanked them, their fingers trigger ready.
“We move in on them on my signal.” Samuel whispered. After a few moments, he muttered, “go!!”
The soldiers sprang out of the bushes screaming “freeze”, Slaughter first saw them and immediately pointed his pump action at them and let loose, sending one of them to the floor, he cocked his weapon and let loose another before he dove for cover. Dayo who was standing behind him wasn’t so lucky, as his skin was riddled by bullets causing his body to dancing in frenzy before dropping into the shrubs. Akin stood behind a tree and fired a couple of bullets in the direction of the soldiers.
A couple of bullets whizzed past Samuel’s ear, causing him to duck. He waited for Akin to stick out a head and squeezed his trigger; missed. Akin dove back behind his tree, conscious of the advancing soldiers to his position. He noticed Slaughter slip behind a tree to his right, where was Bello?!
He sucked in a breath and fired blind shots in every which direction and then took to his heels, heading for a tree further up. He had just come to it, when he felt searing pain tear through his lower torso. He fell to the floor and rolled to the safety of the tree. He examined his wound, it wasn’t too bad, he has suffered worse. He reloaded his rifle and again, fired blind shots behind him.
His wounds were bleeding profusely and his hands were beginning to shake, he knelt down facing the direction of the soldiers and released a couple of rounds, two of them dropped to the floor. He smirked and continued shooting. The gun vibrated as shot after shot left its muzzle, the acrid smell of spent bullets thick in his nose. The bullet clicked as the pin hit and empty chamber. Akin reached into his pocket to get another magazine, just as he was about to reload….
“Hey!!” He turned to find himself facing the muzzle of an AK47. “Don’t move.” Samuel snarled.
But he moved and bang! Akin dropped to the ground, blood sprouting like a waterfall from the gaping hole in his temple. Samuel stood over his limp body, as life left his writhing body.
Slaughter saw Akin drop, there was no way he was going to let the soldiers nab him, he was fortified by the charms of Baba, the bullets bounced off him but he needed to put distance between him and them ASAP. He crawled the bushes, trying to be as quiet as possible.
“Be on the lookout, there are only three bodies here, two more are at large, fan out and look for them.” Samuel said, his eyes searching his surrounding.
“We know say you dey here, just jejely commot now because if we catch you, wahala go dey!2 One of the soldiers said sternly, looking down his gun’s front sight.
The rustling was getting closer to his position, Slaughter knew he was no longer secure in his position, he took deep breath and made a run for it, keeping his head down. He let off two shots and saw two people fall, good, he cocked his pump action again and continued darting through the shrub.
Samuel noticed that despite the shots fired at the running man, he seemed impervious to them. He was certain the man was not wearing a bullet proof vest, that would mean one thing; jazz.
He shouted as much to his subordinates then added; “Target him ankle.” He had encountered too many jazzed up men to not notice how most of them had an ankle vulnerability.
Second Lieutenant Tony; who was the best marksman in the dropped to his knees and adjusted his weapon making sure to keep it trained on Slaughter. He waited till he had a clear shot and squeezed his trigger.
Slaughter screamed as red hot pain emanated from from leg, he fell to the ground clutching his bleeding leg.
“Baba don fail me.” He kept muttering as the soldiers converged around him.
From his vantage position, hidden from view by clusters of leaves, Bello watched his colleagues go down one after the other, he had half expected Slaughter to escape the marauding military men but when he saw him go down in a hail of bullets, he knew he was all alone.
Moments later after the soldiers had searched exhaustively for him, they radioed their colleagues and informed them to be on alert. Bello now knew he had to be careful. As he slipped down from the tree, he hung his rifle over his shoulder and continued forward on a different path. If only he had the dogs but them too had been gunned down senselessly in the gun battle.
But his knowledge of the terrain encouraged his resolve, he was not only going to escape but also make those kids pay.
The bleeding had stop by now but his leg felt like it weighed a ton, each step hurt, the walking stick Musa gave him, helped him shift his weight around but his movement was slow and thus the others had to slow down for him to catch up. Faith was perched on Kemi’s back, while Musa and the others walked beside them.
They all stopped on their tracks when the sounds sporadic shots rang out in the forest far behind them. They all recognized the sound of the gun shots and wondered what was going on.
“Who are they shooting at?” Faith asked.
“I dunno.” Ade said with a shrug of the shoulder.
“Maybe they have turned on themselves.” Kemi said hopefully.
The others nodded affirmatively, after all hope was all they had. Turning on themselves meant there was division amongst the kidnappers, it meant they did not have to run anymore, it meant that their freedom was assured now.
So maybe they were home free now but that is the problem with maybe, you are never sure, there was always a chance things would go awry. As they stood wondering what was going on, a hard object hit Ade on the head causing him to fall down. In his dazed state he looked up through the haze to find Bello staring down at him.
A boot caught his rib cage, causing all the air to leave his lungs, he doubled over in a foetal position as more kicks followed the first. He was in pain all over as Bello mixed kicks with blows, he could not recognize the sounds that escaped his mouth as his assailant continued his vicious attack.
Through bloodied face Ade tried to find the others but realized that they might have run away, reconciled to his fate, he closed his eyes just as Bello produced his gun. Just then he saw a flash; someone hit Bello over the head with a stick. It was Musa, the two men fell in the floor struggling, Bello being the stronger person soon overpowered him and began to pummel him. He reached for the knife tucked into his waist band and stabbed down at Musa, who was now screaming. Blood spluttered as Bello drew the knife up. Ade from his position, stared on helplessly, unable to move, unable to help.
Just as Bello’s knife began to descend, a loud sound rang out and it stopped its trajectory and its holder dropped motionless beside Musa.
“Musa! Musa!!” Ade called out to his friend but no answer came. He reached out a hand but could not touch him. His friend lay still in the bloodied grass.
Ade tried calling out to his friend again but this time his strength could not muster it, he felt cold; cold like he never had before felt, then slowly his eyes began to shut and fade into nothingness. He could hear Kemi’s voice screaming at him but it felt so far away, like she was calling his name from the entrance of a tunnel. Then nothing.
The lifeless bodies of Bello, Dayo, Akin and Sule lay to one side, flies buzzing and fussing over them. The wounded soldiers had already being taken to the hospital, one of the soldiers had collected the contact details of the rescued kids and calls were immediately made to inform their parents that their wards had being found. It was an emotional scene as parents wept with joy at laying eyes on kids they never thought they would see again. Little Faith’s father was particularly inconsolable, as his was a mixture of pain and joy. He could not believe his wife would do such an evil thing as to sell his own blood out of jealousy. When he had enquired as to her reason, she simply said that she did not want to continually live in the shadow of his late wife. She was cooling off in a police station now.
Emeka’s body had being retrieved and efforts were being made to locate his family. Slaughter was offering valuable information about their operations and other like operations in the area and how it worked.
In the coming weeks we would identify more than ten missing children and the whereabouts of their organs. Helping to bring about one of the biggest arrest in the history of the Ekpe police divison.
Mama Shola could not hold back her tears as she stared down at the bloodied body of her son. He looked emaciated, there were scars all over his body. His eyes were swollen shut, his lips swollen and broken in more than one place, his tooth chipped. She looked at the deep cut in his leg and wailed to the gods. Her husband took her in his arms, consoling her, his heart heavy with grief not only for his son but his wife.
He looked on as he son lay motionless, it seemed like it was only yesterday he had left for work and now he was…
“It is time for his injection.” The nurse said as she walked into the room with a tray, she headed towards his IV and injected a liquid into it. She checked the IV, adjusted the dial and left as unceremoniously as she had come.
Moments later, Ade stirred in his bed, he opened his eyes and was blinded by the bright light surrounding him. He squinted against it and noticed his mother sleeping in a chair by his bed, he touched her shoulder.
“Mommy.” He shook her gently.
“Ade!!” She leapt out of her chair, “are you okay, how are you my son? Oh my son.” She encompassed him in a hug. She let go when Ade moaned. “Sorry, what do you want, are you hungry, do you want to drink water?”
“Mommy I am okay. Where am I?”
“St. Theresa hospital. You have been asleep for 3 days. Your friend too.” Mama Shola said indicating Musa who was lying in the bed beside Ade’s, an IV running from his right arm. He looked pale and tired. Ade figured he looked the same but all the same he was glad he was out of that damned forest.
“Mama what happened to the others?”
“Some of them were here to visit earlier, they promised to be back soon.”
Ade sighed and drifted off to sleep again this time peacefully.