BLOOD ISLAND (6)

Previously on Blood Island
Valencia and Carlo entered the holding room were Mark was seated on a chair, his wrists separately handcuffed to chair arms. ‘I want you to meet a special friend,’ Valencia said. ‘You don’t have him in your files, I can guess.’

Mark looked up and smiled at the one-eyed man. ‘Let’s not hurt his ego please.’

‘It doesn’t matter, Carlo doesn’t speak English. He will interrogate you.’

‘It will be interesting since I don’t speak Spanish.’

Valencia agreed. ‘But you don’t need to communicate with him. Not verbally at least. Pain is a universal language.’

Mark looked at Carlo’s swarthy face made up with a frozen eye, grey hair and outdated moustache. He wasn’t impressed. ‘You called me a high ranking agent then you insult me with this pensioneer.’

‘You think so?’ Valencia whispered some Spanish into Carlo’s ear. His face crumbled. He came forward slowly, like a lazy cat, and smashed a sledgehammer fist on Mark’s face. Red pain rushed into Mark’s head.

‘How far?’ Valencia mimicked.

‘Not a bad one from a handicapped.’

Whoop, an uppercut. Mark did a quick count of his teeth with his tongue.

‘How far?’

Mark shrugged. ‘He’s doing his best but I guess he can’t do better than this.’ This sentence was punctuated by a backhand faceburster.

Valencia smiled. ‘I must go now,’ she announced. ‘We will conduct this exercise in sections. The first section will last for fifteen minutes. Then he will pause while I come in to talk to you. If you are not ready, the second section will commence and last for thirty minutes. Then we talk. If you are obstinate we institute the third round. At the end of this round, sweet old Carlo must have butchered you into pieces. I can bet my gratuity you will sing at this stage. In fact when I enter this room you will hug me like your mom.’

A cold sweat streamed down Mark’s spine but he managed to smile. ‘I will surprisd you.’

‘Perhaps. I didn’t tell you, Carlo’s first point of torture is your eye. You might have noticed he has one eye. He’s extremely jealous of people with two eyes. As soon as I leave here he will cut off your eye. The preliminary over, he would then began to murder you, slowly.’ She reached the door, she stopped. ‘Considering your partial handsomeness, it will be a terrible loss.’
#           #
From the window of her cell, Sade studied the crocodile pool. It was a great effort concentrating through the construction work going on inside her skull, but she tried hard enough. She could see only a small portion of the lethal body of water, but even this was enough to send ice to her marrows. Apart from the occasional shadows of the reptiles underwater, one of the crocodiles had its ugly snout in the edge of the water for the whole two hours that Sade had stood here. The more she watched, the more she decided to prefer the evil Colonel Hector. He was evil, he was mad, but he was (supposedly) a human being. She stood some chance, no matter how insignificant with a human being, no matter how heartless, than this crocodiles, no matter how magnanimous. She was trained to outwit and fight humans, not aquatic terror.

Where is Mark? She forced herself to think up her lover now. This was the only way she could maintain her sanity, though it was a sure way to lose it. All her life she couldn’t count more than four true lovers. The first two had come and gone the usual way lovers come and go, boredom, frustration, change of essence or immaturity. Then she spent a long stretch of couple of years in which she didn’t bother any man and didn’t allow any man bother her. Then Dozie and Mark came in the line of duty or, more literally, in the line of survival. They were two men she wouldn’t normally want to fall in love with, but love is emotional which makes it irrational. So she fell. Now the duty which she had used as wall over her heart had claimed the men. And brutally murdered them. Mark was still alive, for how long more?

A tear fell from her eye. Even if her hands weren’t cuffed behind her, she wouldn’t had tempered with the tears. She put her forehead on the iron bridge of the window and allowed the tears rain on her deep sorrows.

She was still in this state when the Presidential marshals came for her. They led her through the door guarded by a soldier with a machine gun. They climbed the stairs, got to the first floor and made for another stairway. There was a long passage-way at the end of the stairway with doors in both sides. They took Sade inside one of these doors, in a conference-looking room, dim and furnished with just two chairs beside a long table with a telephone. They sat Sade on the chair facing a projector screen on the wall. ‘He will see you any moment,’ said one of them in Spanish, they left.

He will see you any moment as though she had dropped by to see her dentist. To be fair to him, Colonel Hector was in the same league with dentists; he was a surgeon, just that his patients had 100% guarantee of a horrible death. Sade shut her eyes and tried to think of her headache, of Mark, of anything, but it wasn’t possible to think of something else when surgical scalpels and deadly reptiles loomed ominous in the background. Hundreds of thousands of miles away, she had thought of Colonel Hector as a remote enemy somewhere in her foggy future. But this future had become a rude reality.

With her hands cuffed behind her, and her body still feeble, Sade knew that her chance of escape was zero percent. Mark was the only person on earth who cared and could do something to rescue her but he was in similar trouble. A great mountain stood between him and her. Mount Colonel Hector. Hector. She had supervised the interrogation that killed his brother and this was judgement day, and the colonel was the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the witness, the audience and the executioner. It didn’t matter whether Sade pleaded guilty or not guilty, there was no plea whatsoever. She must dance the music she had composed nearly a decade ago. The only option was to look forward to his appearance, to let what would happen happen quickly.

Sade waited for him more than two hours.

Sade was in a two by two seconds nap when he came in. Although her naps were in seconds they mostly contained long, elaborate nightmares; blood-sucking surgeons armed with daggers and crocodiles that laughed like hyenas. She was awakened by the closing of the door. She had never seen Colonel Hector before but she was surprised at his size. He was over six feet tall and large without an iota of fat. His aggressive chin and ugly lips didn’t melt even at his attempt to smile. He had sheds of greyness in his head and traces that suggested that either of his parents were of Caucasian descent. 

He came to a stand before the table and rested enormous knuckles on it. He spoke in English. ‘Welcome to the Island.’

Sade nodded.

‘My name is Air Vice Marshal Douglas, the new head of state of Camus Island. Colonel Hector died in a plane crash from Zimbabwe last night.’

The shock of this piece of information hit Sade like a slap in the ears, blushed her cheeks, burnt her nasal cavity, charged her throat, warmed her heart then filled her stomach with ridiculous butterflies. She was scarcely aware of the entrance of someone. She felt the handcuffs leaving her wrists. Sade studied her wrist, surprised the steel hadn’t left any mark. She looked up at the new head of state. ‘I guess I am now your prisoner.’

He smiled, just his lips. ‘The death of the colonel is an answered prayer.’ He nodded when he saw Sade’s look of incredulity. ‘The man had put Camus Island in so many deep messes. My first point of duty is to clear the mess. I want you to help me in one of them.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Let me explain. As you know Colonel Hector came to power in 2010. As a deterrent against Nigeria and the West he embraced Russia. He opened the door wide for Russia, they came and settled down, they turned us into a satellite country. In 2012 Russia launched a satellite from this Island to space. This is a reconnaissance photo capturing satellite. They controlled this satellite from here but the capabilities are limited. In 2014 they launched two more powerful satellites interconnected with the first. These had the capacity of motoring two third of Africa as far south as Botswana, as far north as Sudan. This satellite has telephone and television mechanism. It can transmit vision and sound from Khartoum, Dakar, Accra, Abuja, many more as clear as one on one recording.’

‘And these countries don’t have a clue?’ Sade had to say something.

‘No, the set of satellites can only be visible to the builders.’

‘Why are you telling an enemy agent this?’

‘Because I need your help. I need you to help us put the satellite out of action. Don’t answer till you see this.’ The vice marshal lifted the telephone receiver and gave a quick Spanish order.

The projector beamed with light. Then began showing some visions that chilled Sade’s bones. In one of them, the president of Nigeria was shown making a phone call and congratulating his opponent over his electoral victory. Then the scene changed to a conference setting where a handful of government officials shared billions of dollars oil proceeds. Next, the screen showed a former president in his farm, clad in brown singlet over khaki shorts sipping garri soaked in water. The video turned to a forest where a group of terrorists sat under a tree, guns swung like handbags, smoking weed and playing cards. In Port Harcourt, a popular pastor lay on the bed while his mistress sucked at his groin….

Sade was on her feet, fists clenched and staring at her host with murder in her eyes. ‘Your country has no right to allow such gross violation of my country’s privacy.’

‘Colonel Hector allowed this. I am here to put an end to it. And you have seen just a drop of water in the evil tank. The Russians have access to a large percentage of top secret intels of your country and thirty other countries in Africa including Camus Island. We have to stop this madness.’

Sade relaxed, somewhat. ‘My colleague.’

‘What colleague?’

‘Mark.’

‘Mark?’

‘I need him out of HAZARD custody.’
#         #
Carlo fished out a butcher knife from his work bag and made for Mark whose face was covered with blood and sweat and agony. ‘Time to say goodbye to your right eye.’ Mark spat on his face. He slapped Mark’s face, grabbed the head and positioned the knife.

‘Alto!’

Carlo turned and glared at Valencia. ‘Let him be,’ she added. They exchanged a handful of unhappy sentences in Spanish. Valencia spoke to Mark. ‘There’s been a significant political development in Camus Island. Colonel Hector is dead. The new leader has befriend your bitch and she wants you out. I have been ordered to bring you to the Presidential Palace. It seems you are getting of easily but don’t smile yet. Carlo is really disappointed but I have given him the permission to have a last shot on you.’

Carlo smiled evil at Mark. ‘You are lucky to be leaving with your two eyes in their sockets. I will give you a permanent mark on your face as parting gift.’ He pinned Mark’s head on the chair, placed the blade point on his chin and tore flesh, dermis, follicles, tissues, cells and blood vessels. Mark’s scream was skyrocketing.

To be Continued…

I wish to say a big thanks to all of you who congratulated me and wished me Godspeed on my passing out parade, you made my day. God bless. I also thank you for participating in the quiz for my favourite episode of Corpers Lodge. So many of you chose episodes fifteen and sixteen as my favourite Corpers Lodge story. I think you guys, judging mostly from the most recent episodes, chose your own favourites and molded it to become mine. One thing you should appreciate in guesses like this is that the majority is always wrong, and the earliest acts are mostly the best. I am not saying that artistically, Episode Fifteen isn’t superior to the other episodes, maybe, maybe not. But I don’t apply literary theory when I read my stories. It’s purely sentiment. Buchi Emecheta considers her novels as her offspring. Sentiment. My favourite episode is from the early episodes when I was still searching for readers and struggling for a grip on the story.

Annie said episode two, Phait chose episode three, Elijah episode four, Anavami episode six and Moses episode seven. No one said episode five. They skipped my favourite episode! Perhaps favourite is the wrong word here but Corpers Lodge Five is the episode I have gone back to read over and over again. I mostly read my work to edit them or pick up a story arc but this episode found in me a faithful pilgrim. One of the things that made this episode so useful to me is the fact that it’s the only episode in which I wrote about my classroom experience. Nothing frustrated my service year more than teaching blackheads, so having lampooned the students I continued to go back to the story to seek asylum whenever the frustration came calling.

But the prize must be given out, my POP wine must be popped in this site. The prize will go to the first person that comments on this post (the comment should be about Blood Island Six). Good luck.

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BLOOD ISLAND (2)

Read the opening episode here

Sade opened her eyes when they entered the room. She was lying on the bed with her right wrist handcuffed to the bed post, above her head. Manka was in the company of a coloured man with dangerous rattlesnake eyes and an arrogant moustache, dressed in a slightly oversized coat. His spacious clothing made Sade aware of her undersized blouse over ill-fitting trousers and itching socks.

Manka’s eyes narrowed when they fell on the untouched tray of food on the bedside table.

I not hungry, Sade said with her eyes.

Manka shrugged. ‘I need you to meet an important man. Mr Navas, a diplomat from Camus Island.’

Sade just stared. Camus Island is a late twentieth century independent colony of Spain, lying in the Gulf of Guinea. In the census of 2013 its population was put at 500 thousand inhabitants. The island is famous for its oil and diamonds. Like most African countries with interest, Sade had had dealings in Camus Island. And like most countries where Sade had had dealings, Sade was a wanted woman in Camus Island.

She watched as Manka arranged a chair for his guest and disappeared. ‘We meet again, Sade,’ the man said. His accent was rugged Latin.

‘We have never met before,’ Sade said. She noticed the bulk of the pistol in his coat. 

‘We have; you were in my country in 2006, remember?’

Of course Sade remembered. In 2006 the military of Camus had overthrown the government in a coup. The ousted President who was in an AU conference in Accra flew to Abuja and reported to President Obasanjo who sent Nigerian troops and forced the coupists to abdicate without being prosecuted. Sade was part of the secret agents who followed the returning president home and protected him for three vile months. Sade was glad when the assignment ended and she left the ice-cold country.

‘You were in my country for three months,’ Navas said.

‘I didn’t meet you there.’

He nodded his agreement. ‘But you met one Lieutenant Hector.’

‘The one who tried to assassinate the president.’

‘That was what they said. Anyway you arrested him and tortured him to death.’

Sade remembered the lieutenant. He had smuggled a pistol into the presidential residence and was only caught as he made to sneak into the conference room where the president and his cabinet were meeting. The Secret Service interrogated him, trying to find out who had sent him, who his accomplices were. He was obstinate. The interrogators tuned their ‘encouragement’ higher. The lieutenant died.

‘I didn’t touch Hector,’ Sade said.

‘You supervised it. Directly or indirectly you killed the lieutenant.’

Sade said nothing. She was in charge of the prisoner, so he was right, indirectly.

Navas rose to his feet. ‘In 2011, after completing his two terms of ten years, President Victor rigged the election for his son Victor Junior. Anarchy broke loose and consumed the Island for months until the military wisely took over and this time around your lousy country didn’t interfere. Now guess who the head of state is? Colonel Hector, elder brother to Lieutenant Hector whom you killed.’

He paused for the information to sink in, his eyes on Sade’s face which she had masked with a blank look, with great effort.

‘Colonel Hector wants to even things with you, Sade. In their family they never forget debts.’

‘He will kill me?’ This didn’t sound like a question.

The other shrugged. ‘The Colonel will answer that question. The colonel himself has sent a private jet to fly you to Camus Island. The jet is expected in few hours’ time.’
# #
Mark endured a thorough search on the rotting dead body which produced a wallet. Mark ripped the wallet open and found an ID card which told him the death was Binda Baga an agent with CACA Bamenda Area Unit. ‘Let’s get out of here,’ Mark said. It was near dusk when they left the body and totally dark when they got to their helicopter.

Mark called Collin, his friend in CACA. It wasn’t friendship in the term you understand friendship. Agents could refer to each other as friends and not talk twice in three years, and sell the other without qualms when duty demands. But they could be surprisingly magnanimous and could share information when it is no threat to their principals.

‘I need information,’ Mark said after the fox show of love.

‘Of course, you didn’t call to ask of my health.’

‘At least you are alive. I wish to trace one of your agents Binda Baga code number CA55733B.’

‘I don’t know him.’

‘Use your computer,’ Mark suggested.

‘What do you want with him?’

‘I just dug out his dead body in Bana town.’

‘What? You are in Cameroon? What are you doing in my jurisdiction?’

‘Binda’s dead body is found buried together with one of my agent’s body. These guys are up to some international mischief. I want to know the people involved—what his last assignment was.’

He other line was unimpressed. ‘Mark, whatever Binda was doing in Bana, it wasn’t official.’

‘I know; I just want to know who knows that he was in Bana.’

‘How do I know that?’

‘Your computer.’

‘My computer doesn’t have access to such intel!’

‘Then make phone calls! Come on, Collin, you owe me.’

‘I owe you nothing.’ Pause, then sigh. ‘Give me a moment.’ The call ended.

‘What next?’ Maku asked. He was anxious to return to his cosy bed in Abuja. ‘We wait,’ Mark said.

They waited for an hour, no call from Collin. Mark called him. 

‘Nobody sent Binda on any era,’ Collin told him. ‘In fact, he and his partner have been AWOL for nearly a week now.’

‘Who is his partner?’

‘A fellow named Manka Cinja.’

‘Address?’

‘What is the idea Mark?’

‘I want to talk to the Manka chap.’

‘He is a CACA agent. Why don’t you tell me everything and let us handle it.’

‘I wish I can Collin. Just trust me; I won’t do anything that will hurt CACA.’

‘Better don’t.’ Collin gave Mark an address in Bamenda.
# #
Sade had been studying her cell for hours now. The roof was the storey decking, the window was protected with a devilish burglary proof, and the door, unbreakable steel. Sade was in a maximum secured cell.

But Sade refused to give up on finding a way out of her captivity. The elementary thing every agent is taught is that no security is fool proof, if you search hard enough you will find its weakness.
Sade resolved to find its weakness. She looked around her for anything of interest. Her eyes fell on her dish. She recalled what her instructors said at Yari Camp. ‘While in a tight corner, anything you can lay your hand on is a very important escape tool. If you find a lemon, make a lemon bomb.’

Her dish was made up of a stainless bowl with cover, a glass cup full of water, the tray and a fork. ‘Which of this will make the best tool?’ Sade took the fork. It was the utensil less likely to be missed and easiest to hide. As she put the fork under her pillow the key turned in the door and Manka came in.

‘I have come to say goodbye,’ he sat down in Navas seat. He studied the dish for three long seconds, then shrugged. ‘I have also come to say thank you. You have fetched me 300 thousand dollars. I sold you to Camus Island for 200 thousand, they are coming to claim you. As three hundred is better than two, I called the Russians and they offered 100 thousand dollars for you. They are also on their way. I am now going to disappear to where no one will ever find me. It would be interesting to see the Russians clash with the Islanders for you, but I would be glad to miss it.’

The information took time to hit her but when it did, Sade’s spine was paralyzed with icy fear she managed to keep off her face. ‘You bastard,’ she cursed.

The man snorted. He rose to his feet. ‘I must go now to avoid been trapped in your mess. The Russians are super evil but Sade I would prefer them to the wrath of Colonel Hector. Do you wish to hear about him?’

Sade didn’t open her mouth. Manka told her. ‘Although he has never seen a medical school before Colonel Hector calls himself a doctor. He performs all kinds of surgery on his enemies-patients. Presently he is trying to do what he calls womb transplant. Sade, if he gets you, he will lay you on his table, tear open your belly, remove your womb (if you have any) and fix an artificial womb on you…’ The doom biographer allowed a little sinister smile cut his poker face. ‘When people are sentenced to be Hector’s patient, they usually beg to have their sentence commuted to death in his crocodiles pool. Good luck.’ And he was gone.

Sade swallowed the bitter lump that Manka’s story had put in her mouth, but she fought the mounting depression. There was no time for mourning, it was time to escape.

To Be Continued…

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Image: army-technology.com