The wages of sin is death—
Shaka wiped the blood-stained knife on Pilah’s lifeless body. He cast an ominous look at Mark. ‘You are next.’
Mark’s captors led him before their supreme commander and put him on his knees.
You have to buy time, Mark urged himself. Sade would storm this place in few minutes’ time and he owed it to himself to delay his death…
‘Read his crimes to him,’ Shaka ordered Husseini.
Buy time, Mark, buy time!
Husseini began to read the Arabic transcripts as Shaka sat down.
‘I believe I am guilty,’ Mark said, ‘but I need to know the exact crimes I have committed. So you should read the crimes in English.’
‘Shut up,’ Shaka was on his feet, threatening.
‘That is the rule,’ Mark pressed; ‘you can’t execute me without first telling me in the language I understand most my offence.’
Shaka hit him. ‘Shut your trap you fool!’
Buy time, Mark, seize time!
‘You are only shutting me up because I say the truth. I insist, read my crimes for me in English.’
Shaka hit him again. ‘English is an unclean language you fool!’
‘You act against the constitution of Nigeria…’
‘Shut up…’ Shaka slapped Mark. ‘The constitution of Nigeria is paper to wipe your arse; I dictate with God’s supreme law.’
‘I know your religion more than you do, God approves constituent authorities…’
Shaka was mad. He pushed Mark to the ground and hit Mark ceaselessly on his head till Mark fought to remain conscious. His one thought being to buy time, buy time, buy time!
‘He is wasting our time,’ Husseini said. ‘Cut off his neck, now!’
‘Indeed,’ Shaka reached for the knife he had dropped in his madness. He picked it up and reached for Mark’s neck.
Two of Shaka’s men walked in. Shaka looked up, ‘Where is Technana?’
‘He is the bush,’ replied one of the new-comers.
‘Doing what?’ Shaka’s voice was blood-soaked.
‘He planted a bomb inside the helicopter for Sade.’
‘But I ordered you all to come back here!’
‘Technana thought it will be easier to bomb her than confront her here. The girl is very cunning and slippery.’
Husseini nodded. ‘Shaka, Technana is right. I will prefer Sade bombed than try to kill her here.’
Shaka didn’t like the idea. ‘That bitch has nine lives. She won’t go near the aircraft.’
‘We can make her go there,’ Husseini pointed out.
Husseini pointed at Mark. ‘He will order her into the aircraft.’
Shaka smiled a smile that was punctured in a thousand places with evil. He grabbed Mark on his collar and raised him up. ‘Call Sade on your radio and make her enter the helicopter.’
‘Why should I do that? You will kill me if I do, so why should I betray my fellow agent?’
Shaka made to hit Mark but Husseini tapped him on the shoulder. ‘Let us not waste time,’ he said. ‘The man is right. Trying to force him will only waste our time.’ To Mark he said, ‘May God bear witness, we will not cut your throat if you make Sade enter that aircraft.’
Shaka was mortified but the mischievous hint in Husseini’s smile calmed him down.
Mark brought out his radio. He wasn’t deceived by Husseini’s promise but he needed to buy time, by all means. He lifted the radio to his mouth.
‘Mark to Sade, copy?’
‘Hey, Mark!’ Sade’s warm voice tinkled his mind in spite of his danger.
‘Sade,declare your position.’
‘I am a few paces before the chopper. Where are you?’
‘Listen Sade. Shaka and his men are dead. We killed them, and must now relate the news to the NSA. Get into the helicopter, you will find Pilah’s phone. Call the NSA with it immediately. As soon as you get inside the chopper you will be transferred to Adamu.’ Mark switched off the radio.
‘Good job,’ Husseini said. ‘Now let us wait for the blast.’
So they waited, nine terrorists and one government agent for the blast that would kill Sade to blast. The world stopped rotating. The air became thick, but no one seemed to be breathing; everyone held his breath in a huge tensed uniform. The sun beat hard on them as beads of sweat began to crowd foreheads. Every muscle was stretch in waiting; even Pilah’s lifeless body seemed to be sweating, waiting for the blast of the century. After what seemed to Mark as centuries, the blast erupted, cutting through the evil silence with murderous intensity.
The terrorists cheered with miniature happiness which was really a display of nervous release.
# # #
Sade and Sami were some fifty metres from the helicopter when Sade’s two-way radio reported in her hand.
‘Hey Mark,’ she was relieved to hear his voice. She had it in mind to radio him as soon as she reached the helicopter. But Mark didn’t seem in a light mood.‘Sade, declare your position,’ he had said.
Sade shrugged. ‘I am a few paces before the chopper. Where are you?’
But rather than tell her where he was, Mark in the characteristic nature of a superior informed her of the death of Shaka, and instructed her.
‘Shaka is dead,’ Sade said to Sami.
‘I heard it.’ Sami couldn’t hide his feeling of elation.
Sade was thoughtful.
‘What is it?’ Sami asked.
‘Something worries me,’ she said.
‘Hey girl, don’t double-cross me. You have a pact—I take you to Shaka and you get me a safe passage out of this country.’
‘Sami, everything doesn’t seem alright.’
Sami’s smiled slipped away, replaced with livid disapproval. ‘Sade, is this a trick not to get me my safe passage?’
‘Look at it this way Sami, Mark radioed to say that Pilah’s his phone in the chopper (which is odd) and that I should get it and call the NSA immediately. Now why can’t Mark use his phone, he has the NSA’s number.’
Sami sighed with impatience. ‘You are too suspicious. Why don’t you obey theorder?’
Sade shook her head. ‘I didn’t get Mark’s last line. He said, ‘‘As soon as you get inside the chopper you will be transferred to Adamu’’; now what does that mean?’
‘I don’t know, and I don’t care! Look Sade as a matter of fact I am going to fly out of this ungrateful country with that chopper.’
As soon as you get inside the chopper you will be transferred to Adamu. What does this mean? It could mean two things—either Mark was crazy and didn’t know what he was saying, or he was trying to pass her an encoded message… Yes, that must be it! Adamu was the field director that called on her this morning, and Adamu was dead. If she got into the chopper she would be transferred to Adamu… If she got into the chopper, she would die. That was the cold message. But why would Mark tell her to get into the chopper and covertly warn her against it? There was only one explanation, Mark was a hostage of sort and spoke under duress!…
‘Sami…’ But Sami was pointing his pistol on her face. ‘What is the idea, Sami?’
‘Drop your gun.’
‘Listen to me Sami, don’t be a fool.’
‘Sade, drop your gun… I don’t have to hurt you.’
Sade sighed. She let her gun fall.
‘Move away… slowly.’
Sade obeyed. Sami picked up her gun. ‘Now turn around.’
She did. ‘Sami, you are making a mistake.’
He patted her hips and buttocks and retrieved another pistol and a knife. ‘Now, I will get into the chopper. Don’t turn or you will get shot. But for old time’s sake I will call the NSA and inform him of Shaka’s bucket kick.’
‘Sami listen to me…’
‘One more word from you Sade and you will get a bullet in your spine. I am tired of taking orders from a girl.’
She felt Sami move away, and suppressed a fastidious desire to turn around. Time crawled. Unable to keep still Sade turned just as the helicopter exploded, shaking the earth so hard she was flung off her feet. She landed on her back as something hard hit her on the forehead. She moaned, reached for her forehead and felt the stickiness of blood. Damn the fool! Mark’s warning was clear:As soon as you get inside the chopper you will be transferred to Adamu. Adamu was dead, and now so was Sami. Rather than pay heed to her, the fool ‘transferred’ to the other world, to Adamu!
Sade rolled to her side then on her knees. Mark must be held hostage, Pilah probably dead; the only means of their transportation destroyed, and she was without any weapon. How would she go after Shaka and his cohorts barehanded? She touched her forehead and winced with pain. Where would she lay her hand on some weapon—any weapon, knife, guns, bombs, anything… wait, bomb? Sade smiled. Yes bomb! They had found two bombs in that hut near the stream. Sami had carried the box but he wasn’t with it when he entered the helicopter… the rebel must have dropped the box of bomb somewhere without her knowledge. Anger began an ascent inside her but she calmed herself. There was no use being angry at Sami’s insubordination now; for one, he was dead, for another by his disloyalty he had gotten her hands on bombs in the time of weapon famine.
Sade rose to her feet and began to walk the route they came.
# # #
Mark knew he had bought all the time he could buy, now was the time to face his fate. ‘You gave me your word of honour,’ he said anyway.
‘Yes,’ Husseini agreed. ‘We promised not to cut your throat sowe will bury you alive.’
Shaka nodded. ‘Dig the grave very deep.’He made for one of the tents, Husseini on his heels. Two other terrorists made away, probably to get diggers.
This is the time to act, Mark thought. There were five of his captors. And one of them unarmed save his android. With swift unseen movement he rammed his elbow on one of his captors’ heart. As the follow staggered, Mark grabbed his gun. The trigger went off as they struggled for hold, ripping the nearby terrorist’s heart apart. Mark smashed his head on his assailant’s nose, and took full possession of the gun. But before Mark could use the gun something exploded on his head. Blackout.
Shaka and Husseini were out in the instance. ‘How could you let this happen?’ Shaka roared.
‘He tried to grab my…’
‘Shut up your trap, monkey!’
No one saw Technana appear in their midst. They only heard him say, ‘Sade is still alive.’
# # #
Sade’s hand was on the bomb box when she heard the faint sound of gunshots. They have killed Mark, Sade shot her eyes as bitterness bit into her. Mark, brave Mark killed. Sade had come to admire Mark. She had seen so many brave men in her duty as secret agent but none as painstaking in his love for the country as Mark. The nervy moment during the detonation of the bomb had permanent effect on Sade’s psyche.
‘Throw the damn thing away and run for your life or I will shoot,’ Sade had threatened him.
‘Shoot if you may,’ Mark said, casually. ‘But I will suggest you run for your life.’
‘You are a fool, Mark.’
‘Whatever you say, I can’t let this bomb go off. It will bring unnecessary attention to our operation and scuttle everything.’
He wasn’t thinking of his life, he was only thinking of ‘our operation’!
There was also the shooting from the helicopter. Mark had sat, defenceless, aiming at the terrorists on the lorry. They were shooting at him but he didn’t bide an eye; he wasn’t to be distracted by the fear for his life. And he shot and killed the terrorists. Then the jump on the lorry roof and the somersault through the driver’s window, and the breaking of the driver’s neck. And a moment ago, under duress, Mark had saved her life.As soon as you get inside the chopper you will be transferred to Adamu….
A brave man, Mark, dedicated and smart, and they killed him, and Shaka killed him!
Vengeance was the only thought on Sade’s mind. Her heart was heavy with bottled up emotions but this wasn’t enough impediment in wiping out Shaka and his gang. She increased her pace. The breeze blew melancholy air that ruffled her hair. The leaves of the trees were bowed as though in mourning of Mark. Sade was oblivious of the atmosphere. Something touched the corner of her mouth, she licked it; it was salty. Sade stopped by a nim tree and wiped her eyes. She was tired, exhausted by grief and the campaign against Shaka. There would be time to rest, not now; not while Shaka still breathed.
Slowly the landscape around her became moist and dissolved into enormous tears; falling to her knees, Sade wept like a woman.
# # #
Shaka and his men had being gun-ready, hiding in the tents, waiting for Sade for nearly three quarters of an hour now, without any sign of her. Shaka was now impatient.
‘The bitch is not going to come,’ he mouthed to Husseini.
‘Let’s wait some more.’
Shaka shook his head. He stepped into the opening where Mark lay and called his men. ‘Gather here now.’
In a moment seven gunmen stood around Shaka. ‘That girl is not going to come, and we cannot stay idle all day. Go and look for her…’ he bared his teeth in a dog’s snarl… ‘get her and kill her, cut her into pieces and burn her. Go!’
As they left, Shaka turned to Husseini. ‘I do not care for your stupid honour, I am going to cut that fellow’s head.’ And he began to walk towards Mark. Mark lay, unconscious of this world. Shaka kicked him on his side. Mark groaned but didn’t come to consciousness. ‘Get me water. I want him awake when I cut his throat.’
That was when it happened. A gigantic explosion, underlined by a frantic shout of agonised cry shook the atmosphere. Shaka turned in time to see dust, rubbles, flesh, bones and smoke darken heaven. The cry had ended as soon as it aired. This meant one thing: Wild Sade was here and his men were annihilated.
‘No!’ Shaka exploded as he ran madly towards the blast then stopped dead. It was dangerous to go further.
Husseini came to a stand by Shaka, holding his shot gun with shaky hands. ‘Let’s get out of here.’ There was fear in his voice.
‘Wait here, we will show the girl that we also have bombs.’ Shaka had not walked ten steps when the second bomb exploded. The force sent him flying then crashed on the hard earth. He was unhurt but Husseini wasn’t as fortunate. The bomb had torn his legs from his lapsoff, and had burnt his cloth into shreds.
‘Shaka, ta sache ni.’ Husseini moaned.‘She bombed my legs off and I am naked. Please do not allow that girl see my particulars, get some clothes….’
Shaka wasn’t listening. He was thoroughly shaken to the marrows, and his senses jarred. The bitch meant business. What was he to do next? He rose unsteadily to his feet. Where was his gun?
‘End of the road chap.’ Mark was on his knees, pointing Shaka’s gun on Shaka. Shaka blinked at him, not comprehending. ‘Don’t look so frightened; I am only sending you to paradise where your god is waiting to reward you for your great battle against infidels.’
Shaka knew it was over with him, but he felt a desperate need to remain alive. He couldn’t die now, no! But what was the way out of this trap? How would he turn this around?Unfortunately, his slow brain was not used to quick thoughts, which he badly needed now…
‘Mallam,’ someone called behind him.Shaka turned and his lip dropped at the sight of Sade; Sade opened fired. The first bullet hit him on his head, then his chest, then neck, then chest again; he fell; Sade continued to shoot him until the magazine of Husseini’s gun was emptied on him and he was a mess of flesh and blood.
Mark struggled to his feet. ‘You have robbed me of my prize,’ he said.
‘I am sorry,’ Sade said, ‘but only a terrorist may kill a terrorist.’
Mark nodded. ‘Yes, Sade Haram.’
Their eyes met and a small spark flashed; next moment the two were in each other’s arms. ‘Oh, I thought you were dead.’ Sade buried her face on his chest, her voice heavy with relief.
‘They killed me many times, but I refused to die; I stayed alive just to do this to you.’
Sade smiled on his face. ‘Do what?’
‘This,’ and he embraced her again and their jaded emotions spilled, and the world stood still for them; and a visitor from Mars would swear that there were just the two of them on earth.
‘You should be ashamed of yourself, Mark, doing this in the line of duty.’
Mark winked. ‘Duty is over; Shaka is dead.’
‘What if he resurrects?’
‘You kill him again, Terrorist Sade.’
They chuckled, and their hearts locked in a single beat.
Mark’s GSM phone began to ring. He dipped his hand in his pocket and brought it out.
National Security Adviser calling.
Tweet me @Oke4chukwu
Update: Read Season Three of Sade
I wish to thank Miriam who insisted I bring Sade back. I also wish to thank Mona who having read Going Down Chinese Road urged me on the character of Sade, and when I created the second protagonist Mona named him Mark. Thanks too to Oge and Ameck and Herbert who read the draft of the early episodes and made suggestions. My gratitude equally goes to Juliana and Kelvin two people who love Sade more than I do (and Kelvin stop calling Sade your wife). Thanks Cynthia for urging me back when I and Sade went on limbo. Joseph and Oluwanonso, thanks for a thousand retweets. Nagode Ugbem da Musa Abu, iyaye na. Thanks Benny Hills for your criticism which were a little too hard but improved my art tremendously. Thanks, Ayodele the poet; thanks Sister Dorcas. A big thanks to Yemie for your time, energy and resources, and most especially for August 29th. Last and none the least, thanks to Nedy for covering my back and giving me so much dose of love.
The first time I posted Sade was on the 19th of July, which means that it took us over 100 days or a whopping 24 hundred hours to read what Sade did in under five hours. Phew, that’s Guinness Book of Record stuff; come on, give Sade a standing ovation. Remain standing until Sade hit you next year.