CHASE CHAPTER 8
It would be bad news for Stephanie and LaBelle to be captured. It would seriously complicate things for me. I listened carefully again and realized that the female voice that was begging Mr. Sayou’s men to spare her life belonged to neither Stephanie nor Labelle. It must be the house owner’s wife.
From where I was hiding, I was able to see, though from a little distance, the house owner left his house with his two kids and presented himself to Mr. Sayou and his men. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but from their gesticulations, I suspected that he was being interrogated about my whereabouts, and whether I had run into his house purposefully.
After about ten minutes, I saw the man going back into his house. This time he was accompanied by his wife. He must have succeeded to convince them that my running into his house had been a random thing, and he had not helped or aided me in any way.
But that was not what all I saw. I also saw the man pointing to the direction in which I had gone. As soon as he did that, I saw Mr. Sayou directing the remainder of his men to come after me. Of course, I wasn’t very used to the neighbourhood. However, I was still able to meander and maneuver in between the tightly built houses until I came to the house of one man who kept livestock. Behind his house was a dirt road that led to nowhere in particular.
My plan was to follow the dirt road for as long as I could, circle around and try to find my way back to the village center. Once I got there, I would meet Stephanie and LaBelle and we would make our exit to the city. However, my plans didn’t work. As soon as I stepped on the road, the Land Rover, the one whose wheel I had not shot suddenly appeared. Its occupants saw me and opened fire. I ran back into the compound of the livestock owner, got one of his horses, mounted it and came back to the road, my gun spitting pellets.
The occupants of the Land Rover were wise. They had anticipated that if I returned fire, they would be trapped in the car and become easy targets. So, when I ran back into the compound, they all got off the car and hid behind it instead. When they realized that I was on a horse, they shot at me multiple times, and missed multiple times too. As I galloped away, they got back into the car and gave chase, but I was quicker than them. I went into the bush and got out of sight.
They brought the car to the edge of the bush, got out again and continued chasing me again on foot. They knew I was on a horse. So, I couldn’t sneak up on them because that would mean exposing myself. What they didn’t know was that, I had already ditched the house and was now hiding behind a very large tree.
Unsuspecting, they moved cautiously towards the direction of the tree. I suddenly appeared in front of them and pulled the trigger of the hunting gun. Three men fell down and died. The rest fell flat on the ground and returned fire. None of their bullets got me. I tried to shoot again, and that was when I realized that I was out of ammunition. I had no choice but to run. I ran into the bush as the remainder of the three men gave chase.
I was now being hunted down like an animal. The worst part of it was that I had no way to defend myself. I had neither a gun nor bullets. I was on my own. My only option was to run, and run I did. After about an hour, I became very exhausted and believing that I had made a good distance between me and the chasers, I sat under a tree and decided to have a small rest before continuing.
As I sat there, I heard the sound of a stream flowing. I smiled at the thought of that. I was very hungry, thirsty and tired. I really needed water. I decided that I would rest for a little while, then follow the sound of the stream and find it. Once I find it, I would have a very refreshing drink before continuing my escape. Satisfied with that thought, I leaned back against the tree and my mind shifted to Stephanie and LaBelle. I wondered if they had already been caught. I feared so much for them and prayed to God to keep them safe.
Now that some of my strength had returned, I was about to get off the ground and try to locate the stream when I felt something touched the back of my neck. I froze, thinking that it was Mr. Sayou and his two remaining men.
“Get up slowly and the move. Please, don’t try to be smart. One wrong move and you are dead.” A voice spoke behind me.
“I am sorry. Please, don’t shoot. I won’t try to do anything foolish. I won’t fight back.” I spoke in fear.
“That is good. Now, turn around slowly.” The voice instructed.
I turned around very slowly, fully aware that any moment could be my last. My eyes were closed because I was afraid to look into Mr. Sayou’s eyes. However, when I opened my eyes, I didn’t see Mr. Sayou. Instead, what I saw was a man dressed in combat fatigues. He was a military man. Then, to my greatest delight, about ten more men all dressed in military uniforms, emerged from the bushes. I let out a loud song of praise when their leader stepped forward.
I knew him. He was my friend, and we were abroad together in the foreign military academy. With delight, I rushed towards him and gave him a big bear hug.
“Achille!! What are you and your men doing here?” I asked excitedly.
“Tracking you.” He replied. “We have been looking for you for almost an hour now. Thank God, we have found you.”
“Looking for me?” I was confused. “I don’t understand. How did you know that I would be here? Oh! I got it. My boss sent you guys to come and rescue me, right? That meant he finally got my message. God bless him.”
“Nope, he didn’t send us.”
“Then, how did you know I was here and that I was in danger?”
“We are here on a training mission. We had just had some new recruits in our platoon. So, I was charged with the responsibility of bringing them into the field to train them in this village. We had chosen the village because of its topography.
However, as we approached the village in our jeeps, we met two young ladies on the road. They were stranded because the car they were using had run out of fuel. We stopped and helped them. When we questioned them? They explained everything to us. When I heard that it was you, Rayim that was involved, I immediately instructed my men to come with me to look for you and rescue you.”
“Oh! Thank you, Achille. Thank you very much.” I was so full of gratitude.
“Don’t thank me. Thank the two ladies.” He replied.
“Where are they now?” I asked.
“They are at the camp where our vehicles are parked with the remainder of my men. Let’s go.”
In a single file, and with Achille and I chatting merrily all the way, we got to the camp in about thirty minutes. As soon as Stephanie and LaBelle saw me, they ran towards me and hugged me so tightly that they almost suffocated me. Stephanie was even weeping.
“I am so happy you are safe, Rayim.” LaBelle spoke. “I had already ruled you out for dead. Thank God, I am so relieved now.”
“Me, too.” Stephanie added. “Welcome back my hero.”
“Thank you, both of you. I am more than happy that you too are safe. I was so scared that those hoodlums, those scoundrels had gotten hold of you. I feared and dreaded what they were going to do to you both. I am so happy now. But come to think of it, my friend, Achille here, told me that he found both of you in the middle of nowhere. What happened? You were supposed to be in the village.”
“Yes, that is true. However, when we heard the sound of heavy gunfire coming from the direction in which you had gone, we presumed that you had somehow come under attack, most likely from Mr. Sayou and his men. So, we realized that staying there might be disastrous for us. We got into the car and drove away in haste.
“However, as you already knew, we were almost out of fuel. We didn’t go far before we finally ran out of fuel completely. We became stranded and frustrated. Thank God, these military men found us and saved us.” LaBelle narrated.
“That was very thoughtful and ingenious of you both. However, something bothers me. Last time I checked you LaBelle told me that you couldn’t drive. So, who did the driving?”
“I did.” Stephanie answered.
“Stephanie!! You? You can drive?” I asked in wonderment.
“Of course, I can. Are you surprised?”
“I have every reason to be surprised. I had always figured you for an ordinary village girl. It is really true what they say about women. They are full of surprises. In fact, you can know all about there is to know about a woman in one day. However, after many years, she would still throw surprises. Anyway, I am happy we are all safe.”
At that same moment, a young army recruit moved towards us and approached Achille with respect.
“Permission to speak, Sir.” He spoke.
“What is the matter?”
“Sir, three men ambushed us. We killed two and captured the third. He is an elderly man. He has demanded to see you.”
“Alright, bring him to me, but make sure that he is secured.”
Three men dragged the elderly man towards us, and you guessed right. It was of course, Mr. Sayou. He was in handcuffs and his face looked bloodied and swollen. It was evident that he had been rough-handled by Archille’s men. As soon as I saw him, I ran towards him, my both hands stretched in front, ready to strangle him. I was quickly restrained by Achille’s men.
“What is the matter, Rayim?” He asked. “Do you know him?”
“Of course, I do. This is the man who has been trying to kill me for days now. He is the one who has been chasing us. He is the owner of the stolen car that we used to escape.” I explained.
“So, you are the one who wanted to kill a law enforcement agent?” Achille asked in anger. “What guts, what effrontery, what temerity!!
“He deserves to die because he is an idiot.” Mr. Sayou spat. “He is not off the hook anyway; I will still get him.”
“You, idiot. What do you think you can do to him? He has protection now. You should be happy and grateful that you are alive. Anyway, you are under arrest now. We will take you to the city and lock you up pending further investigation.” Achille told him.
“You wish!” Mr. Sayou responded with disgust. “Do you know who I am? I advise you to release me immediately, young man, otherwise you would be in serious trouble.”
“And who will put me in trouble? You?” He laughed.
“I have friends in high places. Get ready to lose your job and even be locked up once I call my friends. All I need to make is one call, and you would be doomed.”
“You are under my custody now. There is nothing you can do and no one is coming to safe you. Take him away and tie him up.” Achille ordered his men.
When he had been taken away, I asked Achille how long he and his men had been in the field. He said two days. He also said they had one more day before going back to the city. That meant, the girls and I had one more day to spend with Achille and his men before we could go back to the city.
That night, they prepared food like military men would do and we all ate and drank. I hadn’t had a decent meal in days. So, the food tasted extra nice in my mouth. Even the girls could not help themselves. They emptied their plates as soon as they were handed to them.
It was the next day now. We were getting ready to go to the city when two jeeps full of battle-ready military men drove into our camp. These ones were not from Achille’s platoon, and neither were they from his division. They were from mine, and I knew all of them. As soon as they saw me, they all became alert and stood at attention.
“Everyone, please relax. What are you guys doing here?” I asked.
Their leader stepped forward and spoke.
“We came to rescue you, Sir.”
“Me, why did you guys take so long. What happened? Why didn’t you come earlier? Didn’t the boss get my messages?” I asked furiously.
“Sir, the boss has been arrested.” He announced.
“What? Arrested? How? By whom? Why?”
“Sir, the boss has always been a criminal, but none of us knew. Together with some other top people in the government, he ran a big criminal syndicate. They were involved in murder, forgery, kidnapping, trafficking in human organs and many other crimes too despicable to mention. So, when you came back into the country, and started asking a lot of questions, he became afraid and sent you on that mission to uncover the forgers.” He explained.
“I don’t understand. Why would he send me to uncover a crime that would ultimately implicate him?” I was lost.
“Sir, it was all a setup. His plan was to send you away from the headquarters and then, quietly murder you. He and his men wanted to silence. It was all a delicately worked out plan. However, their plans were thwarted when you got involved with some hoodlums and a firefight broke out. He was very vexed when that happened, then he realized that it was still going to work to his advantage. That is why he didn’t send backup when you requested for one. It was a deliberate act.”
“Wonderment!! He is evil!!” I shouted.
“Yes, Sir.” He continued. “He later got information that you had been taken by the gang members of one Mr. Sayou. Mr. Sayou is his friend and called him through satellite phone and told him you are in custody. However, he called again and said you had escaped. The boss asked Mr. Sayou to go after you and make sure you were killed. That is because if you aren’t killed, all of them would go down.”
“Oh my gosh! So, how did everything get revealed?”
“One woman who claimed to be Mr. Sayou’s former wife, came to the station with her daughter. It was the daughter who revealed everything. She was the one who told us that you had escaped from her father, but your life was in danger, and you needed help. She revealed all her father’s crimes and named some of the government officials involved. The boss was also implicated.”
“That is very good.” I commented. “So, what did the boss do?”
“Luckily for the young lady and everyone else, the boss was not at work on that day. So, the matter was instead tabled to the commissioner himself. He got into action immediately, called the Inspector General and informed him. Warrants of arrest were issued immediately, and all the officials involved have been arrested. They are now in holding while investigations are still on going.”
“Wow!! Thank you for this information and thank you for coming to my rescue. However, as you can see, I am already free. Lets’ go back to the city.”
Mr. Sayou who was leaning on one of the vehicles, his hands still in handcuffs, heard the whole thing and realized that his end had come. Out of frustration and desperation. He pulled a gun from the holster of one of the men. No one knew what he wanted to do with the gun. Maybe, he wanted to shoot me, or wanted to use it to escape. However, he wasn’t given a chance. Another soldier quickly pulled his gun and put two bullets in his head. He fell back and died.
His body was put in a body bag and dumped in one of the jeeps. We all got into the cars and got to the city a few hours later without any incident. I went home immediately, but I didn’t go home alone. I took Stephanie with me while LaBelle went back to her house to freshen up. She had to begin looking for a new job because her boss was also arrested.
It was his job to look for clients who needed forged documents and send them to the forgers’ headquarters. That was why he had dismissed LaBelle and a number of her colleagues for not having certificates. She knew they would go to the forgers and get fake documents. The money they paid would go to the syndicate. It was a whole network.
It had been many months now. My boss and all his acolytes had been giving many years of imprisonment. My boss was given two life sentences. I had been given my boss’ former job and I no longer worked in the field.
Lindsay, Mr. Sayou’s beautiful daughter had since moved to the capital city with her mother. She had no plans of ever visiting her father’s village again.
LaBelle had travelled to Dubai to make something out of her life. We still keep in touch. In fact, I could never forget her, not after saving my life in such a spectacular way. If not for her, I would most certainly have been history now.
Stephanie’s family are now settled in the city. They now live in the government apartment where I had been living to monitor the forgers. There was no need to fear because the forgers’ business had long been raided and shutdown.
As for me, I am now married to, you hope, my dearly beloved Stephanie, who had loved me with so much devotion for so long. That day we made love in her house, it was without protection and so, something entered. She is now already almost due for delivery.
So ends my story. I was used by the corrupt, rich and powerful in the society as their plaything and they almost set me up for slaughter, all for their own selfish ambitions. However, good always triumphs over evil. In the end, not only, by the special grace of God, did I defeat them, I also in the process, secured a beautiful woman for myself.