Previously on Blood Island
‘We have a problem,’ the man whom Mark had come to regard as Mr Unsmiling said. Mark, half of his face hidden in bandage, sat up, trying to control the sudden tightening in his chest. ‘Sade?’ he inquired.
The man released a small hoot. ‘The head of state wants to see you. Follow me.’
Mark didn’t seem to have heard. ‘What has happened to Sade?’
‘Follow me.’ This, impatiently. Mark nursed a wild idea and quickly suppressed it when he glanced at the pistol bulk in the fellow’s hip. Mark obeyed.
AVM Douglas had his massive back towards the door, on an end of the conference table when Mark was ushered into the room. ‘Sentarse,’ he said without turning. Mark sat down. A steel moment passed.
‘The Russians are still filming the whole Africa.’
‘Sade went after them,’ Mark said and braved himself for the worst.
The other man turned slowly and faced Mark. ‘Sade is missing in action. Her line is dead.’ He paused for the words to sink. They sunk. Mark said nothing, he continued, ‘With Sade out, we need you to go after the Russians. On the one hand, you will be taking revenge on those who might have killed your lover; on the other hand, you will be destroying a Russian facility that has compromised the security of Africa. Mark, can you do this?’
Mark stared hard at his fingers then looked up, ‘Show me your arsenal.’
Five minutes later, someone called the Russian consulate and mentioned Mark’s name twice.
Sade opened her heavy eyes. Her head was aching with fury, her joints and shoulders static with pains. The left side of her face was bruised and swollen having smashed it on a tree, she was bleeding through the nose but the heavy pain in her chest alarmed her most, her lungs must have been damaged to the point of pulmonary hemorrhage; every intake of breath hurt her inside. The leather jacket she wore over denim trousers had protected her from flash burns, but she still feared she might have had a part of her mangled.
Her first thought, when she managed to think beyond her predicament, was Mark. Poor man, he would face the wrath of Douglas. Then she thought of Nigeria, the Russians would continue to have access to every nook of the country for a long time to come. She managed to force these thoughts out of her mind. It would kill her. But she wouldn’t die without fighting. She began an excruciating crawl to the gravels. Her intention was to crawl out of the gate, to as far as she would meet people. If she fell in the wrong hands, they would kill her; if she got lucky she would fall in the hands of some Samaritan. The chances of falling in the wrong hands were twice higher but she must take the risk. There was only one outcome if she remained here, death, slow painful death.
The strong harsh beam of a car headlights blinded Sade as soon as she touched the driveway. That must be Valencia, Sade thought, here to finish me off. Sade shut her eyes, expecting the tyres to crush her skull. Sade was right, it was Valencia. But she didn’t crush Sade with the car. She got out of the car and made for Sade. She slammed her foot on Sade’s side. Sade moaned.
She grabbed Sade on the neck and lifted Sade up to face her. ‘Do you remember doing this to me?’
‘Pull the trigger,’ Sade urged.
‘Not yet bitch.’ She slammed Sade’s face on the road then grabbed Sade by the ankle and began to drag her on the hard road to the back of the car. She opened the boot. She half-carried and half-kicked Sade into the boot. She slammed the boot shut. ‘Punche puta.’
Mark got down the car a couple of blocks from Chapel Johans of Camus. It was around twenty minutes to midnight, there were no street lights here which suited Mark fine. To add to his fortune, it was drizzling, no one was about. The chapel was made up of two buildings, the old stone church with a cross-designed door built by the colinialists, and a modern auditorium behind it. Mark stopped before the cross door and watched through the dim light the back of a grey-haired fellow dressed in a white cassock and green cape kneeling before the apse. This must be Father Juan, Valencia’s beloved old priest, he thought. The natural thing was to rush down the nave and confront the fellow, but Mark, from his experience in the field, knew that if you continously have good luck in an assignment then someone is trying to play you into a trap.
No, he wouldn’t fall into any stupid trap. With Sade ‘missing in action’ he knew that Nigeria depended solely on him to save her from wantom Russian surveillance. He walked to the side of the building, dropped to his knees and began to craw forward meaning to investigate the fellow at the alter through the door of the north transept.
His cell phone began to beep in his hip. He quickly grabbed the phone and connected it lest the beeping alerted the ‘priest’. Only Camus’ head of state had this number but when Mark put the phone on his ear he was shocked. Sade said hi Mark. ‘Hey Sade, where are you?’
The next voice crippled his intestinal muscles. ‘Sade is with me,’ Valencia said. Mark caught his breath in a small whistle. ‘Normally I should put a pistol on her head and pull the trigger.’
‘You don’t dare,’ Mark said.
‘Nonsense. I won’t kill her until I have to. Her life is in your life.’
‘What do you want?’
‘I am prepared to trade Sade for two things. One, I want you to use your connections in your embassy to get me out of Camus Island. Two, I want you to rescue Papa Juan and put him in the same plane with me. These done, I will release Sade to you.’
Mark turned this in his quick mind. ‘Why use Nigeria? Why can’t you go away on your own?’
‘Because I am hiding from the Russians; they are after me. They bombed my house.’
‘Why are they after you?’
‘None of your business.’
Quietly, Mark repeated the question.
‘You Nigerian fools caused it! You think I know the whereabout of the Russian satellites, so the Russians are trying to kill me before you get to me.’
It made sense to Mark. ‘You asked me to rescue your priest. Where’s he?’
‘In the monastery; I called the monastery and a Russian answered the call. They have him captive. You must save him.’
‘Why should the Russians be interested in an old priest.’
‘Because you are interested in him. Yes, they know you are headed there. So many Russian spies around our new head of state.’
And that is how you got this number, Mark thought, through your own spy.
Mark decided to try a wild card. ‘I love Sade yes. But I am on a national assignment, my sole aim being to put the Russian satellites out of action. Why should I suspend that to risk my life for your priest in exchange for Sade.’
‘You are a fool Mark. Papa Juan knows the location of the Russian satellites. Save his life and he’ll tell you what you want to know. Bring him to me, put us in a plane and get Sade back…’
Mark fired his pistol three times and the man who had been kneeling before the apse fell. Mark made forward and picked up the man’s Beretta pistol.
‘What’s that?’ Valencia inquired.
‘I just killed one of the Russians.’ He said this as carelessly as you would say, I threw the rotten orange away. ‘Now I am headed to the monastery to get Father Juan,’ he added.
‘Good luck,’ Valencia said.
‘Hey listen, make sure Sade is in good health. If I find her in bad condition I am going to kill Father Juan and kill you too.’
‘Go to hell.’