When two agents of the Cameroonian Anti-Crimes Agency (or CACA as they are called) caught up with Sade in her little room in the little town of Bana, North-west Cameroon she was shivering and dying under her blanket. There were just the bed, her thin wardrobe, a chair and a tired table in the airless room. The agents sat on the furniture and discussed her life.
‘Let’s shoot her right away,’ said the short one, Binda.
‘That’s cold blood.’
‘Who cares? This girl has screwed us all for years.’
‘I know,’ said the other, thin with shiny hungry eyes. ‘We are badly paid agents, Binda. Before us lie one of the most capable agents on earth and you ask us to waste her, waste the opportunity? No brother, we can use her; we can turn her into gold.’
Binda thought the other, Manka, was mad. ‘Use her for what? The bosses at CACA will eat us alive!’
‘How will they know?’
‘They will, Manka, I swear they will find out.’ His mouth poured as much passion and saliva as words.
Manka rose to his feet, walked to the window and opened it. He studied the greenery outside as though his answers lay among the leaves. Binda watched his cunning back, fuming. We are wasting time, he thought, one bullet on the bitch’s head and we are gone.
‘Let’s dig a grave,’ Manka suddenly said.
Agent Binda wasn’t following. ‘What for?’
‘We will bury her alive,’ he said; ‘can’t think of a worse death.’
Binda laughed uneasily. ‘What happened to your bright idea of using her?’
‘Let’s dig a grave.’
They found an aged shovel in Sade’s kitchen. The earth was soft, and after dully drenching their bodies with sweat they had dug a trench deep enough to be called a grave but not deep enough to be called a final resting place. They didn’t care, they obviously didn’t want Sade to rest in peace.
‘Let’s go get the bitch,’ Binda said as he dropped the shovel with tired disgust.
Manka shook his head. ‘The grave is actually for you.’
Binda’s lips parted.
Manka was pointing his pistol at Binda’s chest. ‘Yes, it’s for you. I have plans for Sade and I don’t want you watching over my shoulder. Sorry partner.’
Sade’s trance was broken by a savage gunshot. She opened her eyes but the effort was too strong for her sick being, she closed them. Another gunshot rattled the atmosphere and Sade silently prayed that the gunner would spare a bullet for her. She drifted off to her fevered oblivion. The gunman had plans for her.
Mark was now sure something bad had happened to Sade. She had not answered his calls in two weeks and the phone itself was dead for five days. He was seated in his spacious office at the newly created International Criminal Office, a federal department which coordinates the international surge against terror, insurgency, human trafficking, drugs, some unspecified assignments, and reports directly to the president.
Mark got up to his full six feet and began to walk shot circles on the the tiles. Sade was in danger, he was now sure and he must do something.
He made for his scanty and ordered desk, and lifted a telephone receiver. He dialled the number of his Cameroonian contact, a disgraced ex-police officer who had sold information to the Nigerian Government which would fetch him an eternity in jail when his government found out. ‘Hey Jona, where are you?’
‘In Douala and busy,’ came the voice, spotless clear, even with impatience.
‘Not too busy to help a buddy.’
The other was aggressive. ‘What do you want?’
‘I need you to check an old friend for me. She lives in number five Cemetery Road, Bana.’
‘I can’t get to Bana!’
‘Get someone to check. I am waiting.’
‘Hey Mark, I can’t—’
‘I will wire 1000 dollars into your account for transportation,’ Mark dropped the receiver. He was sick with forebodings. He had always known that Sade had nine lives, now he wasn’t so sure.
Sade woke up in an alien room. She was so smothered with weakness her body could barely move. But her eyes were alert. She noticed a thin pole by her bed on top of which hung a plastic transparent bag filled with orange-blood coloured liquid from which a tiny pipe ran down and disappeared somewhere into her body, her arm probably.
A heavy smell of irritating disinfectant hung on the air like a frozen hawk. Her nose couldn’t explore the pungency as she wanted. She couldn’t concentrate; she was distracted by the noise of two people talking on the other side, in a language she understood but couldn’t place. ‘The greater danger is passed,’ said one, ‘she is stabilised, thanks to her strong constitution.’
Pause. ‘Don’t forget her drugs.’
‘I won’t. Merci.’
Pause, then, ‘Au revoir.’
They were gone. Sade had attempted to turn her head to look at the talkers but it seemed her neck was nailed to her pillow. When she heard the departing footsteps, she gave up and relapsed into her light coma.
Mark didn’t hear from his contact till the next day, now he was frantic with rage and anxiety. But he didn’t say a word about his disappointment and anger when the call finally came.
‘We spent 2000 dollars on transportation,’ Jona reported.
‘Did you find her?’ Mark asked quietly.
‘No, she’s gone and her apartment is in a mess.’
‘Her luggage missing?’
Mark suppressed a sigh. ‘Give me the set-up.’
‘Man, the place is a total mess, the door is unlocked, bed in tatters, the dishes stinking, hell! It is like an abandoned piggery.’
‘Any other thing of interest?’
‘I don’t know, but it’s like she left her phone behind.’
Mark stood to his feet. ‘Where did you find it?’
‘Under her pillow.’
‘Good job, Jona. Now I want you to take a real look at the house, not just the room, and see what you can find.’
‘No sir,’ Jona said; ‘I have no time for such, the agent I sent is already back to Douala.’
Mark sat down, knowing he had to act fast. Jona had done his best. He had risked his life, and Mark wasn’t sure Jona would find what he wanted found. Mark would now do the rest. Of course there are Nigerian scouts in Cameroun but Mark couldn’t trust them, Sade was wanted death by so many Nigerian intelligence big shots.
Mark stood up; he wouldn’t just sit in Abuja while Sade’s life was dangling in shreds. She had no one but him. If she was dead (oh God forbid) he would have to find her body and bring it home. Sade deserved a burial in her fatherland, at least.
Mark drew a button on the intercom. ‘Lang, get a helicopter ready for immediate flight.’
Mark was the director of counter-intelligence which made him a high profile officer in the ICO. He could run so many things without anyone looking over his shoulder. But he wasn’t so sure about flying a helicopter out of the country for something personal. But was Sade really a personal business? For someone who had served Nigeria so much and so long with dire personal losses, Mark didn’t think so. He could sell this as SUA–some unspecified assignment–but he was sure his superiors wouldn’t buy…
The intercom buzzed. He pressed a button. ‘Yes?’
‘The chopper is ready sir.’
‘Thanks. I will be there shortly.’ Mark opened his drawer and brought out his police special pistol. Would he need this? And how long would he be away?
Sade had her first nightmare in days, her clearest dream in months. In the dream she was tied to a tree in a market square and a multitude of people were bargaining with a dwarf trader to buy her. They were a Babel of nationalities, Americans, Britons, Germans, Jews, Arabs, Russians, Chinese, many. But her dwarf owner wouldn’t sell her. He was asking for too much price, something the prospective buyers couldn’t come up to.
Sade woke up to the smell of food. The drip stand was gone, in its place stood a table on which lay a tray of dish. Manka stood by the table, grinning with sieved evil. ‘Good morning, Miss,’ he said.
In him Sade saw the dwarf. She lifted to her elbows. ‘Where am I?’
‘With friends,’ came the reply.
The helicopter landed on a school field and Mark and Agent Maku his pilot got down and hurried on the haphazard grassy surface of the pitch into a pathway that led to Cemetery Road.
Jona hadn’t exaggerated about Sade’s room. The two agents sniffed about for minutes before Mark decided there was no clue here, yet. He asked Maku to continue checking and went out. Two minutes later he called Maku. Maku was glad to leave the messy apartment. Mark was standing before a small red mound of soil. Maku joined him. Although Maku was forty-three, he was a foot shorter than Mark who was four years younger.
‘Get me a digger,’ Mark said without the slightest movement.
‘You think she was buried in there?’
Mark looked at Maku’s dead pimples-infested face. ‘Get me a digger,’ he repeated.
Maku found the shovel Manka and Binda had used and began to dig. The more he dug, the more the stench; now the stench was unbearable, then murder high. They had to tie their handkerchiefs across their noses which helped a little, and continued digging.
When they got to the decomposing body, Maku ran to the bush to vomit. Mark was so relieved it wasn’t Sade’s body he didn’t mind the protruding corpse. Thank God this isn’t Sade, he almost said aloud. But where is Sade?
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