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⇐Previously on Sisera

Sisera, Episode 7 Nonso John

Sisera – Episode 7

CHAPTER TEN

 

“What’s this thing I hear about you going to the crime scene with clearance?” Ella stiffened as she heard the deep voice from behind her.

The office door behind her closed with a finality, causing her skin to jump.

Standing there in the middle of her boss’s office, her feet slightly apart, her fingers intertwined behind her, she hated the many thoughts of what could possibly come out of this.

Another query, perhaps? Not good.

Heavy footsteps brought the large man into her view. He was dressed in a gray jacket, and had a limp on his right foot.

He walked to the desk in the office, and without settling into his chair, he turned to Ella, that cold look on him that he always had when he got angry.

The desk had the man’s name plate.

Jeffery Benjamin. Head of Investigations. Department of State Security.

“I can explain it sir.”

“Explain what, Agent Gabriella Johnson?” Jeffery raised his voice. “Explain to me that I am the guy authorized to give you clearance on something like this, and I don’t remember issuing you with one?”

Well, if you gave me a chance to talk and stopped being so much of a dick, perhaps I would have an explanation for you. But that was not what Ella said.

“It was a case for the SSS.” She said. “Sorry sir, but I couldn’t let the police have this one.”

“And so you went to the crime scene with a forged clearance?” Jeffery emphasized the last two words, sinking into his chair. “Do you think this is a game or something?”

Ella said nothing. She had expected this. Yuri had warned her.

It wasn’t going to go down well with authority, Yuri had said.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t seize your weapon and send you home right now?”

You cannot do it. You don’t dare fire me. Why? Because you don’t have the authority to do it. And I don’t even think you would have the balls to, if you had the authority to. Besides, I am the best investigator you have, and you know it. But these were not what Ella said either.

“The killer left a message on the scene for me.”

Jeffery kept quiet for a while before responding.

“Get the hell out of my sight.” He said. “But I would have you know, that after this investigation, you are done.”

That was what you said last time. Ella said “Sir?”

“This is the last time I would have you drag the name of this Department into some game you saw Al Pacino do in The Godfather.”

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“You’re dismissed.”

Ella left Jeffery’s office, thinking of the last word in the note Essien had found in the hotel room.

Sisera.

She still had the word bouncing around in her head when she turned the knob on the door of the operations room down the hall from the boss’s office.

The room was near dark, illuminated only by lights from laptops and projector beams.

Six men and a lady sat at a long desk stationed close to the middle of the room, the desk positioned parallel to the door. Four chairs lined each side on the length of the desk.

From the door, they were seated four men and a lady on this side, their backs to Ella and the entrance door, and on the other side, three men – facing the entrance door – and an empty seat with no laptop in front of it.

When her eyes dilated well enough to see every familiar detail of the room, she noticed Yuri was not here.

“Where is Yuri, Pete?”

“He’s on his way.” The guy next to the empty seat at the hackers’ desk – Pete Erem – answered without raising his head, his typing fingers not missing a beat. He was the leader of the pack.

And he was the best hacker the SSS had.

Ella swept her eyes over them as she walked past.

These seven people, each one bent over a laptop, each stern-looking face illuminated by the computer screens, had fingers typing away with light touches on the keyboards.

Hackers.

From somewhere in the ceiling hung three projectors, their bright lights burning three screens onto the dark stark walls. There was a screen to the left wall from the door, the other two screens on the wall facing the entrance door.

Ella looked at the first screen on the left. Screen one. At the top left corner of the screen was a portrait of Aisha, the remaining parts of the screen littered with every basic info about the dead woman.

Where she came from, her marital status, her entire profile.

And these were the only sources of light in the dim room.

The words came back to her.

Tell this to Sisera.

The killer hadn’t just written those words. He had written them to me.

He had addressed the note to Ella. It was a specified message. There had to be a code somewhere there. Who is Sisera? And where is Yuri already?

The entrance door swung open and Yuri walked into the room. Ella waited for him to take the empty seat at the computer desk before speaking.

“Listen up guys.” She raised her voice, punctuating the sounds of typing keyboards.

Heads rose from laptops, faces turned from the illuminating computer screens, eyes locked on her.

“The Bible.” she said. “Exodus, chapter twenty three, and verses twenty and twenty one. Somebody give me that on screen two.”

The only lady among the hackers turned her attention to her laptop, fingers rattling over her keyboard. A short pause. A tap. The first projector screen on the wall facing the entrance door flashed.

“Behold, I send an Angel before thee,” Ella read from the screen, every eye in the room following every word she read, “to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.”

She waited for every eye in the room to turn back to her before she said her next words. “One. One. Zero. Five. Tell this to Sisera.”

She turned away from the computer guys, walked to the second desk in the room. It stood some distance away from the hackers, at the extreme of the room, directly facing screen one and the hackers’s desk. A laptop, some books and a reading lamp littered the desk.

It was Ella’s work station when she was in the operations room.

Who is Sisera? Ella thought she had heard that name before now.

She took another sip from her cup. And Bruce – who is Bruce? The computer guys still had their attention trained on her. She let her eyes look from one illuminated face to the next.

Ella dropped her cup of coffee on her work desk, and turned to the group. In the background there was the buzzing sound of the air conditioner, but otherwise, the room was dead silent.

“The wife of a senator of the republic of Nigeria just got murdered under our watch. And orders from above would have us crack this case and produce the killers in twenty four hours.” She continued in a firm lowered voice. “These words and numbers are the prime materials we have. And so I want you to get me every logical connection between those words – whether you think it is relevant or not.” Her next words tumbled out with speed. “I want history. I want art. Literature. What is Sisera? Who is Sisera? Where is Sisera? When is it, if it is a time. And what the hell does it have to do with that Bible passage? What is the killer telling us about Aisha? And what do those numbers mean? This is SSS investigation priority level 6. Any questions?” She kept the line about Amalek to herself.

Silence. Eyes focused on her. No movement.

“Good.” She said, “Go.”

She picked up her cup of coffee, took a sip. Then she raised her eyes at the faces still staring at her.

“That would mean now.” She screamed.

Faces turned back to laptop screens. Shoulders hunched. Fingers poured over keyboards.

“Thank you.” She took another sip.

Ella got behind the desk and sat in the chair. “Yuri, what do you have for me on Aisha?” She powered on the computer.

“I have Essien’s preliminary reports. The victim was pregnant. Two weeks.” Yuri said.

Ella thought of Aisha’s forming baby in the womb, definitely just at its most initial stages of development. The dagger stabs on Aisha’s breast – already being filled by milk for the soon-to-be baby.

This was not just a murder. It was also a miscarriage. Blood. Purity.

Innocence.

Yuri was still speaking. “Pete, please cue me in.”

Pete snapped his finger at the right person in his group of hackers, as Yuri continued speaking, not missing a beat, “On the bodyguard, I have-”

“Whoa. Hold up. Are you done with Aisha?” Ella’s laptop screen flashed on, her computer beginning to boot.

“That’s all we have for now, yes.” Pete said.

“Where’s the body?”

“Sent back to the morgue.” Yuri replied.

“The video from the security cameras?”

“We have them.” Pete said.

“Send it to my computer now.” She gestured for him to continue.

“The bodyguard is Oluchukwu ‘Olai’ Nnam.” Yuri said.

Screen one snapped, pulling Ella’s attention. Aisha’s picture on screen one got replaced with one of a black skinned man in black suits and matching tie. Bald head. Handsome.

Yuri was still speaking. “He is ex special forces. Nigerian Army.” The image on the screen got replaced with another – a younger version of the same man. A head of full hairs, but he was still handsome. Yuri didn’t stop talking.

“He is a friend of the victim’s husband. They have been long time friends since their days in the military.”

The screen now showed the two men – both of them much younger – in a close embrace. The screen changed once more. Olai’s portrait photograph sat at the top left corner of the screen, other info about him detailed beside the image.

“Where was his last fixed position before the attack?” Ella asked.

“In the hospital when she was reported missing last night.”

“And the senator?”

“Retired General Omar Ali.” Yuri said. “He is out of the country on international duties. Confirmed.”

“Retired, like military?”

“Yup.”

“Has he been notified of the murder?”

“Yes. Taking the first flight back today.”

Which meant he was soon to arrive, Ella noted. Her mind was busy. Aisha had been pregnant? What would a pregnant woman be doing in a hotel room away from home, without her husband – who by the way was out of the country? And her wedding ring goes missing.

Ella remembered the strange footprint she had seen in the living room earlier. Bruce. He had come for her ring. Why would you want her ring, Bruce? Why her wedding ring of all the things you could have wanted?

In the background, it was the combination of rattling keyboards mixed with occasional whispers as the hackers exchanged ideas in hushed conversations.

“Joanne, is this on the news yet?”

“We’ve sent it in.” The lady in the group said. “It is to be broadcast on the 12 O’clock.”

“What do they know?”

“Nothing we don’t want them to.”

“Yuri, I asked you to download all you can from the victim’s phone.”

“Pete?” Yuri called.

“I have it ready.” Pete said, raising his face to meet Ella’s gaze.

“Screen three.” She said.

Pete turned his face to the laptop. Two seconds was all it took. Screen three flashed. What looked like little web pages littered the screen.

Ella turned her eyes to screen three. Details littered the screen. Her eyes ran over the first line. Something about the phone’s Internet history.

“Yuri,” Ella called, “What is this I’m looking at?”

Pete raised his face. “That’s all of her phone history for the past twelve hours.”

“Okay.” Ella said, “Calls?”

“She called her husband.” Yuri had his eyes on the screen as he called it out. “She called Olai. She called-”

“I only want to know what information she exchanged with the Bruce guy.” Ella said. “And who the hell is Bruce anyways?”

“We’ve traced the phone.” Pete said.

“And?”

“The sim card is registered with the name…” Pete lowered his eyes to his laptop screen, reading, “…Bruce Akpan.” And then he looked up at Ella again.

“And who is that?”

“He is a driver. The personal driver of Senator Patrick Ama.” Pete said.

“The Senate president?”

What the hell has this all got to do with the senate president? First of all a senator’s wife dies. And now she has been calling the senate president’s driver? What would she want with the senate president’s driver, anyway?

It didn’t make sense. But murder cases never did.

“Bruce Akpan on screen two.” Ella said. Pete snapped his finger at someone. The second screen changed, the portrait of a young man replaced the Bible passage. “Yuri? The video.”

“I’ve sent it already.” Yuri said.

Who are you Bruce – and what do you want with the wedding ring.

Ella walked to her desk, tapped her laptop. A notification of a new received folder was up. She clicked on it. It was a video folder.

“You gave me the entire footage from last night?”

“You said you wanted nine till two am.” Yuri said. Ella nodded.

Ella turned her attention to the laptop screen before her. She tapped the space bar on her keyboard.

The video began.

It was a familiar sight. Ella tapped the space bar. Pause. From the angle, she knew the camera was positioned over the staircase. It had the elevator, the receptionist’s counter and the entrance door in its view.

The time line on the bottom right of the video was 09:01 pm.

Space bar.

The video began with Aisha walking into the hotel. She looked calm. But from her walk, Ella intuited the woman had a lot on her mind. Aisha walked to the receptionists. A young lady and a fat man sat behind the counter, each one attending to a customer. What Ella wanted to know now was whether this Bruce guy who had come for the ring was the same one on the projector.

Do we have the right guy?

Ella tapped the space bar. Pause.

Ella skipped the video to close to its end. The receptionist’s counter was empty. The lobby was empty. There was no one on scene. She moved the video backwards a little.

Space bar. She saw the face of the man as he walked into the hotel from the entrance door. It looked like him, but Ella was not sure. She waited. And second later, he looked towards the camera.

Space bar. Ella narrowed her eyes as she studied the face. He seemed to be on the lookout for the security camera, because he had his eyes boring into Ella’s gaze.

Bruce Akpan.

Timeline on the video was now 01:47 am.

Ella raised her eyes to the face on projector screen three. It sure was him. If he had come in at this time, 1:47, then he was not the killer.

The questions flooded Ella’s mind.

Was he there to have a meeting with her? With the killer? Was he on errands for her? Does this have anything to do with his boss – the senate president? And why was he so security conscious, anyway?

Had he known she was to be killed? Had he set it up – even if he didn’t do it himself?

Ella moved the video back to a few minutes before the beginning.

Timeline, 09:10 pm. Aisha was standing behind the customer in front of the woman receptionist, waiting her time to be served. Ella tapped the space bar. Ten seconds went by. The video was still the same.

She skipped the video a notch. The same thing. She skipped it again. Then she paused. The paused video had the image of Aisha walking away from the receptionist counter to the elevator, and the woman receptionist was looking and smiling at the next customer – an aged grandfather.

Ella took the video backwards a little. The woman receptionist had just finished attending to a previous customer, and Aisha was walking up. Perfect.

Ella played the video. Aisha and the woman receptionist looked at each other now.

The movement of the receptionist’s lips said hi, followed by a string of inaudible words. Straight face. Practiced smile. Okay. So the two women didn’t know each other before this meeting. They exchanged small talk.

Aisha placed her left hand on the receptionist’s counter. There. Ella paused the video.

There. Left hand. Ring finger. It was a wedding ring. Golden. Ella got to her feet. She walked away from her desk to the middle of the room. Then she stood facing the portrait of the driver on screen two.

What do you want with her gold ring, Bruce? Did you order the hit on her? The picture on the screen seemed to answer back with hate in his eyes. He was mocking her. Daring her.

He seemed to whisper the words back to her.

Tell this to Sisera.

“Sisera,” Ella said, not removing her eyes from the man’s gaze on screen three, “anyone?”

What do you want, Bruce? Ella ran her eyes over screen two.

“Pete, bring me every text message exchanged between the victim and the driver.”

Screen two changed. On it was the text message folder from Aisha’s phone.

At the top of the screen was the name Bruce. And then the messages. Four entries.

 

 

BRUCE

Me: Sure you can get the camera chip out of the ring?

Bruce: Sure. I know a guy. When do I come for it?

Me: Should be done by midnight. Come for ring by 1 am. Knock on door. I want to see the video before anyone else. Deal?

Bruce: Okay. Safe.

 

So Aisha had invited him over.

“Are these all the texts traded between these two?”

“Yes, Ella.” Yuri said.

Ella let her eyes settle on the words on the screen. So my instinct had been right all along. The Bruce guy had come for her ring.

“Sure you can get the camera chip out of the ring?” Ella whispered.

So, the ring had a camera in it. A video camera? It didn’t make sense to Ella.

She walked towards the computer table. Then she turned and walked back to her desk. She did it a couple of time, her thoughts running here and there on the details she had at her disposal now.

Aisha had been pregnant. She had told the hotel her husband was joining her for the night. She had planned this with Bruce. Bruce had known someone was going to be with Aisha that night. And this person had been with her.

Meanwhile, Mister Bruce was supposed to come for the ring afterward. Did Aisha know she was going to be killed? No. If she had known, she wouldn’t have asked Bruce to come get the ring from her later.

And the ring had a video camera in it. A thought occurred to Ella.

“Does her husband know she was pregnant?”

Yuri looked up. The look on his face said he was clueless.

“Pete?” Ella pressed.

“We have no idea.” Pete didn’t raise his head or stop his typing fingers.

“Alright.” She said, returning her stare to the driver’s face on the screen.

“You want us to pick him up?”

Ella turned her gaze to Yuri’s face. They held the gaze for two seconds. But it went by slow. She was looking at Yuri, but her mind was jumbling through all the variables before her.

What if somehow somewhere we are mistaken?

If she made this move, then there was no going back. She turned her gaze to the face of the driver on the screen.

“Someone tell me where the driver is right now.” Ella said.

Few seconds was all it took before the info came.

“He’s at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport.” Pete said.

“What is he doing there?” Ella said.

“Three minutes ago, he used his ATM card to pay for a flight ticket going to Lagos.”

“When does the flight leave?” she asked. “And how long do we have?”

“In an hour. So I say we have forty five minutes to grab him.”

“Yuri,” Ella turned to her associate. “It’s a go. Try not to cause a scene.”

Yuri got to his feet. A walkie talkie grew out of his hand as he walked out of the room, holding the communicator to his mouth, barking orders to someone who was supposed to get some cars ready for an urgent pick up.

Yuri’s voice and footsteps faded down the corridor outside the operations room as Ella gathered her thoughts.

Sisera.

The phone conversations. How did it all connect? There just was no way the entire thing made any sense.

“Sisera, people.” She called. “What do you have for me?”

The only response Ella got was typing fingers. She waited for a while. Nothing else came from the hackers.

“There are about seventeen thousand people named Sisera in the country.” A man from the group of hackers said. Ella didn’t have to think about that. It was not what she wanted.

“Anyone else?” Ella said, bringing her eyes away from the words on screen two. “Look beyond the words. Give me something.”

“‘Sis’ is short for the English word ‘sister’.” Pete said, looking up from his computer.

“That is what I’m talking about.” Ella said. “Go on.”

“And ‘Era’ come from the Latin word ‘aera,’ meaning ‘number used in counting.’ In modern usage however, it refers to a distinctive period of history.”

Ella thought rapidly. Was the killer sending a message about this one ‘sister’? Is Aisha his sister? What did he mean by sister? Aera? And number used in counting? Was he saying this is just the first of an era to come? Was he intending to begin an era of murders? Or distinctive period of history?

This makes no sense.

“Sis and Era?” Ella whispered, but everyone heard her. Some of the fingers stopped typing as the rattling sound of keyboards reduced. Hopeful eyes raised at her.

“Maybe he is telling us something about history?” another man suggested. “You know, the Bible story? About Sisera?”

“The captain of the Canaanite army under King Jabin?” Pete chuckled. “I don’t think so.”

“Or maybe it is a code for South East?” someone else said. “You know, like SE.”

“History? South East? It does not make any sense.” Ella said. The letter had said to tell this to Sisera. It didn’t say that Aisha was Sisera. So it could not have been ‘Sis’ and ‘Era’. Maybe it was. Maybe the killer was referring to Aisha’s sister.

But then, maybe that wasn’t it.

“Do we know anything about Aisha’s sister?” She asked.

“She was an only child.” Joanne said.

Ella was not surprised. Over time, she had come to trust her instinct. She could be wrong sometimes, but more often than not, her hunches were right.

And right now, she was almost sure this was not the message the killer was trying to pass across.

Was this a punishment for something Aisha had done?

And who is this lover she had been with last night? Did Bruce plan with the lover to have her killed?

Ella brought her gaze to meet Bruce’s eyes on the screen.

What did she do to you?

No response.

She walked to the door, and then she turned, walked back. “Keep going guys. Give me any other thing you get. Sisera, people.”

The keyboard rattles intensified.

“And Pete?”

Pete raised his eyes to Ella.

“Good work.” She said. A smile started on Pete’s lips. “Back to work.”

The smile was gone.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Olai looked up from where he stood beside the Mercedes, and saw the General walk out of the morgue.

Walking behind the general was Inspector Ben Adams and the uniformed policeman from earlier.

General Omar Ali had his hand over his face, a white rumpled handkerchief in his hand, dabbing his eyes. The hand brought the handkerchief away.

Straight face. Red eyes. Watered eyelids. Jeez. This was the first time Olai had seen him shed tears.

The general never cried.

All the years Olai had known this man, this was the first time he’d seen him cry.

Olai remembered the night Omar had heard the news of his mother’s death.

Only then a cadet in the Nigerian Defence Academy, the young Oluchukwu had two weeks before graduating to become a junior officer. A second lieutenant. One star.

He was only twenty one.

Omar was still a Major. Major Omar Ali.

They were in Omar’s apartment, drinking and smoking weed. The phone rang. He picked it. Spoke to whoever was calling. Cut the call. And then told Oluchukwu who that was.

“My mum is dead.”

The words brought pains to Olai’s heart for his friend. But to Omar, it meant nothing.

Olai would never understand why the man never mourned his mum.

From that day till now, Olai had never seen him shedding tears.

Now, as the General walked from the mortuary where Aisha’s body lay, Olai noticed a slight tremble in the man’s step.

Something shook him.

I already know he’ll stop at nothing to get to the end of this.

Olai realized then, that everything might point back to him.

But I didn’t kill her.

The general looked up, and when his gaze slammed into Olai’s like a hammer, Olai tore his eyes away.

From deep within his tummy, the guilt began to build again. I had been there with her that night.

I had been there, damn it. I could have saved her from death. I am such a coward. No. I’m not a coward.

Or am I?

Olai turned back his gaze to the general, and saw him whispering to Inspector Ben Adams. Another thought pierced him.

Oh my God. Whatever were those two talking about?

It was crazy, unthinkable even, but what if the inspector was suggesting to General Omar that I did it? A thousand frenzied needles attacked Olai’s spine at once.

He noticed the trembling in his fingers. Intertwining the fingers, he pressed them together to try and still his pulse.

Get a grip of yourself, boy.

Olai turned to the men, tried to read their lips as they spoke. The general was saying something. It seemed to slow down as he watched it.

The general’s lips opened. A vowel. It widened. Straightened out. It had to be the ‘are’ vowel sound. Yup. The lips closed and opened again almost immediately. Then they hung like that. Was that ‘Apple’? ‘Abbey’? ‘Able’? No it couldn’t be ‘able.’

The general’s lips took a slant downward. That looks like a ‘y’ sound. Was that ‘Happy?’ The general turned his lips away from Olai’s view.

Shit. I’m going crazy.

He closed his eyes. Blinked twice. Oh, I’m losing it. No. I’m not a coward.

The general turned away from the policemen now, and started walking down towards Olai, while Olai tried his best to straighten his face.

He felt like plastic. The general’s walk had a slight bounce in it. The man definitely knew something new. The general was close now.

Olai half expected a slap. He opened his mouth to say something. I was there, sir. I could have saved her. But I didn’t. I failed you.

But his lips wouldn’t open up.

The general was already talking.

“Inside the Mercedes.” General Omar said, walking past Olai towards the car. “Now.”

Oh God. I’m done.

“I can explain sir.”

“Now.”

Olai turned, hurried after the man. This was not going to be easy. He turned back to the policeman. Their gazes met. The policeman was not smiling, but Olai saw the look in his eyes. Was that satisfaction? Hatred? You son of a-

The slam of the car door brought his gaze back to the car. He walked to the Mercedes SUV – the tinted glasses making it impossible for him to see into it. He held the door handle, opened it.

“The other side.” The general’s voice was taut.

“Of course.” Olai closed the door. He was a ball of nerves now. I can’t believe I’m acting like a little girl. Pull yourself together soldier.

In the short walk around to the other side of the car, he had decided what he was going to do.

The general would probably not believe any word Olai was going to say, but he was going to tell Omar the truth.

I’ll tell him everything.

Damn the consequences.

Olai held the car door. Pulled it.

“Joseph.” The general said.

“Sir.” The driver called back from the driver’s seat.

“Take a walk.”

Olai stepped into the near darkness of the car. Shut the door. The driver’s door went open. Bright light flooded the car from the driver’s open door.

Olai looked into his boss’ face. Expressionless. Cold. The driver’s door slammed shut. Complete darkness.

In the next second, Olai’s vision cleared a little bit, as his eyes started adjusting to the near darkness inside the car.

He raised his gaze, tried looking at the general’s face. A cold evil stare sat on the man’s face, looking at Olai but not quite at him, forcing Olai to look away.

He looked at the tinted glasses, the steering wheel. The dashboard. The keys dangling from the ignition. Even the three armed logo within the circle that stood for the makers of the car had a sudden eeriness about it.

There just was nowhere he could comfortably look at. And he felt the general’s eyes burning his face. The AC was on, but Olai was sweating.

Oh, to hell with it. I’m just going to go ahead and say it all.

Olai turned his gaze to general Omar’s. He held the gaze for a while. Then he looked away again.

“I’m so sorry sir.” Olai began. “It happened under my watch. And-”

“Not a word.”

Olai’s throat closed. Oh, please. Can these car chairs just swallow me up? Or perhaps some hard bomb from some alien planet? Just drop now and send this place to hell. Olai closed his eyes.

An eternity went by.

He opened his eyes.

Now he felt pressed. He so needed the use a toilet. But how do I ask him to let me go?

Omar sat motionless for a long time. Olai closed his eyes, clenching his anal muscles. He would wait this one out. Beads of sweat drops rolled down his skin underneath his clothes. They felt like crawling insects. Itching. Pinching.

Olai couldn’t bear the thoughts driving through his mind. The still darkness in the car. The only thing that indicated there was someone else with him in the car was the laboured breathing from the general.

The general’s hand clicked on the button in his door. All four doors clicked.

Locked.

Olai raised his gaze back to the man’s face in the near darkness. Omar’s face had softened a bit into something kinder. At ease. The pain gone. It froze Olai. There was something much calmer, and even more dangerous, on Omar’s face now.

Not bitterness. Not anger.

Something soft. Cold. Gentle.

Wicked.

Whatever was he planning?

“Someone tried to seduce my wife.” Omar’s whisper filled the near darkness in the car.

Olai didn’t expect the words. And the steel in it. The general’s voice was cold. And Olai didn’t like the sound of it.

A lump grew in Olai’s throat. He tried swallowing. Impossible.

“Who?”

“You know who.” Omar screamed in the darkness, shocking the hell out of Olai. The laboured breaths came next, more insistent now.

I do? I know who? Of course I do. You’re talking about me. I’m so sorry. Olai couldn’t bring himself to ask the questions, say the words going through his mind.

He couldn’t dare. Not after the scream. But his mind was busy though. She came on to me. I tried to stay away from it. I didn’t want any of it. Trust me on that.

Olai opened his mouth, but his throat would not let the words through.

He looked away into the darkness.

Omar’s next words were in that calm gentle whisper, but they brought a shiver to Olai’s heart.

“And that same someone killed her.”

…TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT EPISODE

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