Last week, at Aisha’s murder scene, Ella finds out that the killers had left her a note with some cryptic sayings and Bible quotations, asking her to “tell this to Sisera.” Problem is, she has no idea who Sisera is.
Olai wakes up to a phone call inviting him back to the hospital from last night. He still wonders who Bruce is.
It was when Olai reached the hospital, when the taxi stopped just inside the premise, when he paid the driver and waved him away, when he put away his wallet, that he noticed he still had the wrapped torchlight in his grip.
He had forgotten all about it.
He froze, almost not believing the package was still in his hand. But it was.
He felt the palms of his hands turn moist.
I should dump this thing.
A sick feeling started in the depths of Olai’s guts. He turned round, looking for the nearest trash can.
There. Right before the walkway leading from the road to the hospital’s main entrance door, was the first trash can he laid his eyes on.
A woman, dressed in a nurse’s white clothes, white cap on her head, opened the trash can, dropped something in it. And then turning, headed back – on the walkway – to the hospital’s main entrance door.
Then he noticed the police car waiting in front of the walkway, the trashcan sitting not far away from the trunk of the police cruiser.
He could tell the car’s engine was still hot, and there was the silhouette of a man in the driver’s seat. Wasn’t that the officer from last night?
Act normal, Olai. Don’t sweat it. No one would notice. It is only a package in your hand.
He took a step, and saw the silhouette from inside the car move. The driver’s door went open. A leather shoe crunched on the stony earth, ramming Olai’s heart against his rib cage.
He paused, meaning to turn around and run away. But it was too late, because the man, dressed in black police uniform, had just raised his head, meeting Olai’s gaze.
It wasn’t the inspector from yesterday, but the look on this man’s face was one of recognition.
He knows me.
The sergeant shut his door, a look of recognition drifting into his face.
“Mister Oluchukwu Nnam.” The man called.
“Yeah?” Olai hesitated.
“My name is Sergeant Ejiro. I work with Inspector Ben Adams.”
“Sergeant.” Olai called back, his hand now in a fist, threatening to crush the packaged torchlight.
Olai walked to the man, aware of the man’s eyes sizing him up. There was no doubt that the man had seen the package in his hand. He got to the car, shook the man’s outstretched hand.
Look normal. Nothing out of the ordinary.
He walked past the sergeant, the trashcan forgotten now, into the hospital entrance.
The uniformed policeman followed him.
“Inspector Ben Adams will be here soon.” Sergeant Ejiro said. “He asked me to wait for you.”
“What am I doing here?” Olai asked.
“We’ve found her.”
“Who?” Olai’s mind was blank for a second. He was thinking of the torchlight in his grip.
“Oh yes.” Silly me. “Where is she?”
Olai thought fast. Then he made a face, knowing the policeman was watching him for his reaction. He knew how the man’s mind would work.
Immediately they were already looking for a suspect.
“What? Oh no.” Olai paused for effect. The look on the man’s face said he was satisfied with Olai’s shock.
“Early this morning,” the sergeant explained, looking away, “we got a call from the Crowell’s hotel, about a woman who was stabbed last night in one of the executive suites.”
Olai walked into the lobby. And then there was that smell that he loathed. Immediately he took the first step into the hospital, Olai felt that awful choking feeling in his throat.
Sergeant Ejiro was still speaking.
“She had been identified as Mrs Aisha Ali. Apparently, she had gone there to spend the night with a lover. And he had killed her.”
“What?” Olai stopped. He almost blurted out his first thoughts: The ‘lover’ hadn’t killed her. And for the records, she was trying to seduce me.
But he managed to keep his mouth shut.
“Take it easy sir.” The sergeant said. “I’ll understand if you need a moment.”
“How-” How did you figure out she was killed by her lover?
“How she died?” the policeman interrupted him. “She was stabbed multiple times in the chest. She bled to death. If you will come with me to the mortuary, I need you to identify the body.”
“Excuse me?” Olai dropped his free hand into his pocket, turning to leave. He didn’t think he was ready to face Aisha’s body now. It was too soon. “I think I need a minute.”
“Don’t worry.” The sergeant said. “We’ve already called the senator. He knows.”
“What?” You guys called him already?
“The general,” Sergeant Ejiro said, “You were going to call him, right? We’ve informed him.”
“Right.” Calling the general was the last thing on Olai’s mind.
Olai turned back to the policeman, and let him lead the way out of the main hospital building towards the morgue.
The mortuary was a smaller building, different from the main hospital building and standing some distance away from the main hospital in the premise.
The walk to the morgue was slow, but Olai managed to survive it.
The policeman had a short talk with a man in white lab coat. The man beckoned them to follow him, putting his hands into a pair of surgical hand gloves.
He ushered Olai and the sergeant into a large hall. The man in white opened a metallic door. They all walked into a room filled with lockers fitted into the walls, with each locker having a name written just above it.
Aisha. A. Ali.
Olai saw the name before the morgue attendant got to it. The man in white opened the compartment, and out of it he pulled out a stretcher. On it was a body, covered with a white cloth. The attendant pulled back the white cloth to reveal the body’s head, and Olai was looking at Aisha’s face.
He felt the blood drain from his face. They thought her ‘lover’ had killed her? The smell of antiseptic seemed stronger now than it had been last night.
Olai hadn’t expected Aisha’s death to be such news to him, but it was. And looking at her now, it hit him low like a hammer in the pit of his stomach.
With the smell filtering through his nostrils, he felt nauseous.
Ice breathed down the back of his neck now. He inhaled only a shallow breathe, and then struggled with the next breathe. He closed his eyes, and waited for the nauseous feeling to pass.
When Olai opened his eyes, tears obstructed his vision. There was a burning sensation in his throat. He turned his eyes away, walking towards the exit.
“That’s okay.” The sergeant said to the attendant. Olai didn’t see the white cloth come back over the head of the body, but as we walked away he heard the stretcher rolling back into the compartment.
It was When Olai walked out of the exit door of the morgue that he remembered to breath. It was a deep one.
I need a drink.
A shiver shook him. Get a grip of yourself, man.
He walked on, away from the morgue, turned at the road leading down to the main hospital building.
And who the hell is Bruce? And what would he – gotta be a man – want with Aisha?
Olai took another deep breath. Take it slow, man. Deep breath. There. Let it out slowly. His lungs emptied its content, and he refilled it again, feeling the calming effect spread out to his arms and fingers.
And then he turned his gaze to the gates of the hospital, and his mouth went dry at the sight.
Cars, lined up, crawled through the gates into the hospital premise. Three cars.
Government number plates. A white Hilux. A black Mercedes SUV. Another black Hilux. All of them with tinted glasses.
He didn’t have to guess. He knew.
In the backseat of the Mercedes was General Omar Ali.
He didn’t have to guess what the man was doing in the country, not to talk of the hospital.
He’d been informed.
The young woman ran her fingers through her wet low cut natural hair.
Then she turned the knob of the bathroom door, pulled it open, and walked out into the bedroom.
Barefooted, she walked to the table at the extreme of the room, and ignoring the open laptop on the table, and the scattered gun parts on the bed, the assassin looked at her image in the long mirror.
Smoke rose from her skin, testament to the hot water she had just soaked herself in. Her hair low cut hair was wet. Her hand, holding a white towel in a bunch, dried her wet body – naked except for the sky blue bra and matching panties.
I am an angel of God in human skin. Even my mum had been jealous of me.
She recalled the night God had visited her. She had been seven years old.
Liberia. Just when the war began. Men with big guns broke the wooden door to her mother’s house. They snatched her.
Scream as she did, they took her away, put something in her mouth to stop her from making any noise. And then they had placed a black cloth over her head. Something hit her head, and the darkness covered her.
When she opened her eyes again, she was lying on a cold floor.
The bright light in the room made it difficult for her to open her eyes at first.
The little girl tried moving her hands. A rope held her wrists together.
There were three big men dressed in military clothes standing a distance away from her. Behind them was a shut door. The men looked angry.
Her heart began beating in her chest now.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Mummy had said to quote that chapter when in trouble.
The men with big guns and knives brought her food in a plate. She refused to eat. The men were bad. They hit her on the head.
This happened for a few minutes.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Her tiny little-girl voice said. The men laughed.
They tried forcing her to eat. She bit the hand of one of the men. He slapped her on the head. The pain bit into her.
Did mummy lie to me? Isn’t God supposed to save in difficult times?
And then, almost that instant, God himself sent an angel into the place.
The single door leading into the room swung open. The person who came through that door had the face of the sun. His eyes had love in them.
The men with big guns were scared of the new man. He barked at them. They fled through the open door.
The angel shut the door behind him, and then turned his eyes to her. He removed the ropes holding her, and pulled her into an embrace.
“It’s okay, my angel. You’re safe with me now.” The way he said it, and the gentle way he touched her hair, pulling it away from her face, brought some comfort to her.
Did he just call me an angel? No one else ever did that.
He told her his name. She was to call him Captain. He said he was an angel from heaven. God had sent him to save her from her evil mother. To save her, and make her what she was. A special angel of God. And her mother hated her for it.
It reminded her of Rapunzel’s story. The little girl always wished she was Rapunzel.
Is this my Prince on a horse?
Her young heart struggled with believing it all.
No. Mother loves me.
“My mother is not wicked.” She said, pulling away from the warm embrace. Mother is not the evil witch of Rapunzel’s high tower.
But the man held on to her.
“She is, my dear.” The man’s voice cooed. “She paid us to take you away.”
Something about the way the angel-man said it made the heart rise behind her eyelids, her eyes widening, a tingle beginning in her tummy.
“No.” she said, finally wriggling out of his embrace. “I want to see my mummy.”
“You don’t believe me, you can ask her yourself.” He said, his face gentle. The door flung open now. The girl turned to the door, as mummy came through it, her hands in a cuff, mean-looking soldiers pushing her into the room.
The little girl ran to her mother, putting her arms round the woman’s neck. Mum looked thin. Did she get sick?
“Tell her how you sold her to us, mummy.” The angel-man called from behind the little girl.
She looked in her mother’s eyes. There were tears in them. Mummy’s lips quivered. But she didn’t open her mouth.
Tell me, mum. Am I an angel? Do you hate me so much? Did you sell me?
“Did you sell me, mummy?”
Mummy was sweating. Her eyes watered. Mummy didn’t even shake her head.
“Mummy?” the girl’s breaking voice was a reflection of her breaking heart.
So you really are the evil witch.
“Mummy, is it true?” She wished Mummy would say something. Anything. Please tell me you love me. This man is lying. You love me.
The crying woman said nothing, her eyes glazed.
“She cannot even bring herself to say it.” The big man said from behind her. “Take her away.”
As the soldier took her mother away, the little girl collapsed on the floor, her entire world shutting down into oblivion.
Mummy hated me. I am worth nothing.
Her life, as she knew it, was over.
The assassin brought her attention back to her reflection in the mirror now. After all these years, twenty two years since that very day, she had learned to appreciate herself for what she really was.
I am an angel in human skin. God’s avenger on earth.
She was forever grateful for Captain for showing up to lead her to her destiny.
My knight in shining armour.
She turned towards the bed, her eyes running through all the different pistols and their parts scattered on the bed.
She glanced at the gold wristwatch on the edge of the bed. There was still time.
She picked up a police automatic, grabbed the right magazine – from several on the bed – and fit it into the base of the gun. Then she cocked the automatic.
She would take this pistol on her next assignment, but she knew already.
For the next target, she would need none of these weapons. She needed something special.
Not a pistol. Not a rifle. Not anything that can cause noise. But something that can break the strongest of bones all the same. Something that could be as vicious and deadly as this gun in her hand, but even much more silent.
A thought crossed her mind.
I haven’t had my devotion.
She ejected the magazine, dropped both mag and pistol on the bed, and walked to the headboard of the bed. She picked up the black King James Version sitting there.
Between its pages was a white paper to indicate where she had left off. The signal would come soon. But before then, she had a deal to make with her creator.
No man could ever live a holy life without the life of the creator running within him. Or her.
To will and to do according to the creator’s good pleasures was beyond any one, unless the creator works in such a person.
Work in me, Lord. This is the holiest of work – fighting your battles, killing for you – and I cannot do it alone.
The assassin opened the Bible.
She got on her knees, head bowed to the bed. The pages of the Bible opened underneath her, she mumbled the words, reading them off the page.
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have,” she read, “and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
She stretched her hand to the myriad of weapon parts lying on the bed, and picked out the serrated stabbing knife. As her hand touched the dagger, the room took on a hot feel all of a sudden.
Saul spared the oxens and the King of Amalek.
She held knife with both of her hands, and with her arms lying on the bed, she positioned the knife, pointing it to the ceiling.
Then she bowed her head. And whispered her prayers.
“Dear Lord, help me not to make Saul’s mistake.” She pleaded. “I depend on you for strength.”
The laptop chimed from the table, like the ping of a microwave, punctuating the silence. Made her heartbeat jump. She smiled.
I will be fine. The Lord is with me.
The laptop chimed again. The assassin got to her feet, walked to the table.
The laptop screen was all black, a white password bar sitting pretty in the middle of the blank screen, a text cursor blinking in the bar.
The assassin’s fingers poured over the keyboard. Typing out her password. Producing a string of dots in the password bar. She tapped the enter key. The screen flashed. Desktop.
She moved the pointer to a message icon. Clicked on it. The message window filled the screen.
She had been waiting for this message from Captain.
When her eyes read through the short message, she smiled.
It is time for Sisera.
The assassin couldn’t wait.
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Thanks a bunch.
See ya next week.