Hunter’s Game S02E12 (Finale)

Yassss! We are finally here! The last episode for the season, for the series and for the year! Thank you guys so much for being here. I couldn’t possibly have made it without you. My health has definitely improved and my exams went well. I finished on Thursday and now I am set to relax and have the best holiday ever. Hope you guys have great plans for the holidays as well.

I’ll be back again towards the end of the month to share my end of year review and I hope you guys check it out and share how your year went with me as well. After that, I shall see y’all next in the new year.

I will try and write during the holidays. I’ve got so much lined up but writing is in my DNA so I guess it goes without saying that I will scribble a thing or two in anticipation of the new year. Who remembers Damage Control? Yes, we are returning next year. In case you never read the first few episodes, go and play catch up please.

But for today, enjoy this episode. I’m making up for the short episode last weekend as promised. Almost 7,000 words, an expression of my true love for you guys. Enjoy.

Previous episodes

***

Nifemi kept trying Uzo’s number through the hour that morning but all she got was the automated voice telling her the number was not reachable. She began to feel a sense of panic when he didn’t show up at noon and his number was still not reachable. It was certainly unlike Uzo to be away from work without prior notice and without a word this late into the day.

Towards close of business, she had made a mental note to obtain Uzo’s house address from someone in the HR department when she received the email from the HR team informing the entire office that Uzo had been involved in a serious accident and had been flown abroad for treatment urgently. Nifemi gasped as she read the entire message and her eyes soon clouded with tears. Her head was spinning and she found herself falling through time and landing on Friday night, the fun she’d had and the promise of a call that never came. She cried when she thought about the fact that she had been low-key upset when his call didn’t come through the weekend and how she had been too proud to get in touch with him first. She wanted to bash her head into a wall. If only she had known. The email didn’t have much details other than that the rest of the staff should keep praying for him and they would be waiting for more word from the family.

As soon as she got home, she went crying to Victoria who tried and failed to soothe her. Victoria soon gave up.

“I don’t even know why you’re crying like a baby. I thought you said weren’t catching feelings for him. Since when did he become important to you?”

“So I can’t care about a person again?” Nifemi asked through her tears

“No, you can. But your reaction is not proportionate to the situation and it’s beginning to annoy me. He’s not dead. He’s not your boyfriend yet somehow you’re here crying like a new bride whose husband just died.”

Nifemi sniffed and tried to gather her wits together. Victoria was right. She was overreacting. Uzo wasn’t dead. And maybe, just maybe she probably cared about him a lot more than she was willing to admit even to herself.

“Although I must add it’s quite suspect. He meets me, I say he looks fishy, then you confront him then suddenly he has a mysterious accident and disappears.”

Nifemi hissed.

“You’ve started again abi?”

Victoria tapped her forefinger on her temple.

“Think. That’s all I’m asking.”

“We are not having this conversation.” Nifemi said as she stood up and walked out of the room. Victoria shrugged. She didn’t care.

***

Sharon held the test result in trembling hands and tried to fight the tears gathering in her eyes but she was unable to. They came down slowly in tiny droplets. Kunbi stood before her, a kind smile on his face.

“You okay?”

Sharon smiled through her tears as she shook her head and nodded at the same time. Kunbi laughed. .

“Come here.”

He opened his arms for a hug and Sharon went into it. He held her close for a long time and Sharon exhaled deeply. Relief coursed through her body as she thought of the implication of the test results she held. The baby was certainly Ani’s. There was a mini Aniekan growing inside of her; a baby that would help her always remember the man she loved. She couldn’t be more thankful. The child was not going to be a reminder of a costly mistake but a reminder of a beautiful and powerful connection she had shared with an amazing man.

“I’m going to be a mummy Kunbi,” she whispered into his shoulder. Kunbi chuckled and squeezed her tight.

“Indeed you are.”

When she eventually stepped back and wiped her face, Kunbi asked

“Are you ready? Can we go?”

Sharon nodded and Kunbi took her hand and led her out of the hospital and into his car. They were back at his place in 20 minutes and Otto was waiting. She and Kunbi had talked the previous night and he had succeeded in getting her to release some of the hurt and frustration she was dealing with. She still had questions and Kunbi’s reassurance that she would make it through the phase left her feeling better than anything or anyone else could have done. She had also promised to ease up on Sharon after Kunbi mentioned the possibility that the child Sharon was carrying could be Otto’s niece or nephew.

Now she looked at Sharon expectantly, and when Sharon nodded with a smile, Otto leaped on her and squealed excitedly.

“It’s Ani’s baby?!! It’s Ani’s??”

Sharon laughed and tried to steady her.

“Yes, yes it is.”

“Oh I pray it’s a boy! Daddy would be so happy! Even if it’s a girl! I would love her and spoil her so much!”

Sharon laughed at Otto’s enthusiasm. It was infectious. She was amazed at Otto’s ability to translate from zero to hundred so quickly. The lady never ceased to amaze her.

“Oh my goodness, I’m going to be an aunty!” Otto was still gushing and Sharon was smiling contentedly. She felt Kunbi’s hand hang loosely around her waist and for the briefest moment, she felt like it was Ani. She leaned into him and Kunbi firmed up his grip. She looked at him and smiled. Kunbi was truly precious. She mouthed a “thank you” as her eyes glazed and she turned again to look at Otto who had now launched into a monologue of possible baby names and what plans the Ubong family would make for the baby.

Later that evening, with Kunbi off to a meeting, Sharon and Otto lay in the guest bedroom scooping from a bowl of ice cream and munching on some chicken wings, talking and laughing.

“No, he was legit the smelliest homeless person I have ever seen.” Otto was saying

“Only you will make fun of a person like that.” Sharon responded with a laugh.

“But it’s not poking fun. I was just calling it as I saw it. I was tempted to drop a can of body spray in his coffee cup. Would have served him better than a pound coin.”

Sharon laughed some more and shook her head.

“I swear I’m going to give up on you soon. You’re too much.

How come I never knew you were this funny?”

“You never asked.” Otto responded with a grin. “I certainly do try.”

“Indeed you do.”

Sharon sighed contentedly and rubbed her belly.

“I think I’ve had enough food to last me a lifetime. If I eat any more, my baby will be fat and round.”

Otto giggled.

“Don’t be like that please. Eat food so that the baby can at least have life. Please don’t be like all those people that obsess over their bodies especially when they are pregnant. Allow your baby grow.”

Sharon giggled.

“Sounds so much like something Kunbi would say. You’ve been around that man too much.”

Otto grinned.

“He is hot though. And so funny and smart. What’s the story with you two?”

Sharon bit into a chicken wing lazily.

“What kind of story?”

“You tell me nau. The story of your friendship. Did you guys date?”

“Naah. Kunbi and I go way back but we have always had a platonic friendship.”

“Hmmn. No crush, no moment of indiscretion ever?”

Sharon laughed.

“Nope.”

“I find that hard to believe” Otto said sitting up and facing Sharon squarely.

“Why? You think I’m in the habit of screwing all my friends?”

“No. But you guys just seem so close and I’ve seen how he looks at you. It’s hard to believe your friendship is purely platonic. Abi someone friend-zoned someone?”

Sharon laughed again.

“Otto, I have very few personal connections with people. It’s largely because I travel a lot and my life is complicated. But each connection I have, I value on its own merit and I try to preserve. Getting romantically involved with Kunbi will ruin our friendship.”

Otto observed her as she tried to take in what had just been said.

“Naah. I’m still not understanding.”

“I don’t know how to explain it. I love Kunbi but not in a romantic sense. We have been friends for about 6 years now. And in all that time, I have actually never thought of dating him. We used to see each other every other month and now it’s like once or twice a year. But each time we see, we just catch up like good friends. If I’m ever down or struggling with anything, I go to him. Well, things I couldn’t talk to Ani about. But dating him? It has just never come up. It’s possible to just be friends with a guy you know. I mean, Kunbi is nothing like any other guy I know and I feel like trying to convert what we share into something else would ruin it. Besides, he has a girlfriend he is entirely over the moon for.”

“Ah. I see. It’s because he has bae then. And you were with Ani. So if he were to breakup with his girlfriend, maybe you two could hook up.”

Sharon massaged her temples.

“I give up.”

“Well if you don’t want him, me I want o. He is hot! He is rich and he is an artist. And then he loves God. And he has all the answers to all the issues of life. How can you not want to keep that kind of person forever?”

“I do have him forever Otto, as my friend. And that is more valuable to me than a relationship. Now stop trying to put ideas into my head please.”

Otto nodded.

“Okay o. Have you bought our tickets to return home?”

“Tickets? Thought I was only buying mine.”

Otto looked at her suspiciously for a moment and Sharon shrugged, a smile peeking out of the corners of her mouth.

“Eku ise o, credit card wrecker.”

Otto rolled over in laughter.

“I love you Sharon, I swear!”

“No, you love my money. I’ve sha bought the tickers.”

“Awww. No, really, I do.”

Otto suddenly threw herself at Sharon in a hug.

“I really do love you and I’m glad I’ve got you.”

Sharon smiled.

“Me too hun, me too.”

***

“But you aren’t scratching your eyes out yet so how do you hope to convince me that you are bored to death?” Leela said into her phone. She listened for a response and laughed quietly.

“You’re not okay. There are lots of novels there Uzo, knock yourself out.”

“I can’t believe you’re the only phone call I get in a day.” Uzo said with a feigned sulk.

“Who would you rather be talking to? The man trying to have us all killed?” Leela asked, her tone light.

“No. This hot girl at my office actually. I was supposed to call her last weekend till you carried your reggae and came to spoil my blues.”

Leela laughed loudly.

“Pele. I’m sure Harrysong will be able to fix her up. She must have realised by now that even her boo has a boo.”

“Which boo? You? So that you will carry the powder that you crushed my heart into and now throw it into the Atlantic Ocean? Mba, no thank you”

Leela snorted.

“You’re not okay. I need to go oga. Your mother would kill me if she gets back here and sees I’m not done with this task yet. We’re taking this guy down tonight. I really need to finish up with this blue print.”

“Alright. Thanks for checking in anyways. I actually appreciate you. You’ve been kind to me the last couple of days. Suspicious, but I’m thankful still.”

Leela shook her head.

“You’re impossible to please.”

“As are you.”

“Take care of yourself sir. Eat. Read. Chill. Like I’ve been telling you-”

“Consider this a mini vacation.” Uzo finished off.

“Exactly. Bye sir”

Leela hung up and smiled. There was a guard assigned to watch Uzo at the safe house. Every day for the last 3 days, she had called the guard’s phone to check in on Uzo and keep him company for at least 20 minutes, seeing as he had no other interactions with the rest of the world. They had built a steady, easy rapport. She looked forward to their conversations. He had forgiven her and they had both moved on from their failed relationship. All was right with the world again. Or so she thought.

A few seconds later, Ijeoma was bursting into the room through the main door and yelling for her to duck. Ijeoma made a bee line for the table where the blue print of the Bishop’s house in Abuja lay as well as their guns but the warning came a second too late or perhaps Leela failed to register it properly. Leela turned her back to the door to reach for her gun and the moment she raised it and turned around, she felt something cold and hard hit her chest. She took two more hits as she staggered back and crashed through the table, falling to the floor. She heard a lot of yelling, feet pounding, more screaming and more shooting and suddenly everything began to fade out. She saw Uzo’s face smiling at her as they lay in bed in his room at the Lekki house, next she saw Gbemiga smiling at her and stretching out a hand to her. She smiled back and raised her hand to meet his outstretched one then everything went black.

***

Ijeoma slowly regained consciousness but she did not open her eyes immediately. She lay on her side and tried to mentally register where she was and what had happened. Her joints were stiff and her body ached. Her head hurt as well but she was only vaguely aware of it. She remembered returning from one final meeting with Yakubu. The moment she got into the house, three hefty men appeared seemingly out of nowhere and lunged at her. She ducked just in time and fled into the operations room where she had her weapons, the moment she burst into the room, she had yelled for Leela to take cover but she had been too late. The men were right behind her and one of them fired off his gun at Leela who had tried to reach for hers. He had aimed straight for the heart and didn’t miss. Leela was dead in seconds. She remembered taking her gun and firing blindly for a few seconds before the men grabbed her. She was sure she had hit one person. Someone had stabbed her arm and she passed out.

The room felt dark and she finally risked opening her eyes. It was indeed dark. She wondered how long she had been out for. It had been noon when she returned to the new house they had been operating from and now it was pitch black. It had to be late at night. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she could not make out any figures. She was definitely alone in the room. Her hands were bound tightly behind her and her feet as well.

She needed a plan. If she was still alive, it meant one of two things, the Bishop wanted to kill her himself or he wanted to use her as leverage for something else. Either way, she determined she would not go down without a fight. Leela’s death hit her badly and further fuelled the rage she was feeling. The poor girl did not deserve to die.

She heard a small click and shut her eyes immediately. The door opened, someone pulled a switch and the room was at once flooded with light. She heard a voice which she assumed had to be the Bishop’s.

“Wake her up.”

She felt a kick in her side and she bit her lip to stop herself from groaning. She turned and opened her eyes. The light blinded her briefly and she blinked multiple times to adjust to this new found brightness.

When she looked up, two men towered above her. They were the two people who had attacked her earlier in the day and standing a hundred feet away from them was the devil himself- the Bishop. She was mildly disappointed. He looked like a regular person. There was nothing evidently sinister about him. But she knew by his age that he had to be the one and when he spoke, he confirmed it.

“You know, in all my years in this business, it’s the first time one person has taken down two of my best guys in such a short time. You are quite impressive.”

Ijeoma said nothing and her expression was blank.

“And to imagine that I have you here, before me like this? That’s a major turn on.”

Ijeoma recoiled on the inside but still said nothing.

“Do you have a tongue?”

Ijeoma did not move.

The Bishop smiled.

“Give us a minute” he said to his men. The two men left the room and shut the door behind them.

“Ijeoma, I have read your file. I know a lot of things about you. But let me warn you, you don’t want us to remain enemies. I am going to make you an offer and I’d like you to consider it. You have skills I have never encountered before. And I am sure you know who I am and what I am capable of. Why don’t we work together?”

“Over my dead body” Ijeoma spat.

“Don’t get theatrical Ijeoma. I will have you stripped and whipped and tied to my bed. I will ram my shaft into you till you beg for mercy and even then I will not stop until you pass out. Then I will wait till you come to and I will have my men repeat the process. We will all take turns with you till you drop dead. Nobody says no to me, ever.”

Ijeoma felt chills go over her entire body. No one had ever threatened her like this before and she knew it was not an empty threat. She swallowed hard and cleared her throat.

“What do you want?”

“Good question. You. And I want to be a gentleman about it. What would it cost to get your loyalty? Because that is the only way we can work together.”

“You already have me here. You have threatened me. What else do you think you need in order for me to comply with your every whim?”

The Bishop smiled.

“I want to untie you but I’m a bit concerned about you getting violent.”

Ijeoma was silent.

“Take a little more time to yourself. These walls will be your new home till I can find something to leverage on. I feel we aren’t quite at an agreement yet. Until then, no food, no drink. Just a few conversations here and there till I am certain I have you in total submission.”

He walked out of the room and shut the door. Ijeoma sighed. She could go 5 days without food. It was the most she had ever done but combined with the Bishop’s other torture methods she had heard of, she didn’t know how long she would last. She had nothing to leverage. Her manipulation skills would likely not work. She said a desperate prayer for Yakubu to come up with a plan for her rescue because with what she knew about the Bishop, if Yakubu didn’t come to her rescue soon enough, she would remain his prisoner for a really long time and that was one thought she did not relish in the least.

***

Yakubu crushed his fist into barrister Jide’s cheek and the latter tasted blood.

“You better start talking now otherwise I will leave a bullet in each major joint on your body and leave you to bleed to death.” He barked.

“I- I don’t know anything.” barrister Jide stuttered.

Yakubu picked up his gun and cocked it.

“You must think I’m joking.”

“I swear, I don’t know. I don’t know where he lives or how many people he works with.”

Yakubu fired a shot carelessly in barrister Jide’s direction and it grazed his arm. Barrister Jide yelped.

“I am not playing here. Ijeoma means a lot to me and by God I will kill you if anything happens to her.”

He tossed the gun aside and stepped out of the room to find Malik waiting. Kazeem was dead. He had been killed when the men showed up at the house. Malik was only lucky to be alive. He had arrived from getting lunch shortly after the men attacked.

“What have you got?”

“Bode has been able to retrieve some information on the hard drive we found. It’s from Leela’s laptop and we’re trying to see-”

“I don’t want to hear anything about you trying! Find her! Just find her!” Yakubu yelled.

He was frustrated. The men who had taken Ijeoma had also taken the laptop she had been working with and all the files they had in the house as well as the blue print of Bishop’s house. There was simply no information to work with and Yakubu was back to square one.

Once back in his study, he made a phone call to the CDI, the man in charge of the Defence Intelligence Agency, requesting for any information whatsoever that they had on the Bishop. He yelled at the officer who talked about not wanting to give out classified information and compromise an ongoing investigation for the sake of Yakubu’s personal needs and the rest of the conversation went downhill. 20 minutes of yelling later and there were still no results. He was even more frustrated. Someone knocked on his door and he ignored it. The door opened and a man in his mid-forties walked in. He was completely bald and Yakubu wondered if he had ever met him before.

“Who are you? And how are you in my home?”

The man bore a sombre expression.

“You would know if you bothered with your emails or phone calls. I have been trying to get in touch with you the last few hours.”

“Please answer the question. It appears you do not know whose home you’re standing in.”

“My name is Kunle. I was Yemi’s boss. I got news a few hours ago that she’s dead.”

Yakubu sighed.

“Oh. I’m sorry about that.” He said distractedly. “The body has been deposited at the morgue of a private hospital. I can arrange to have it moved to whatever city you require whenever you’re ready for a funeral.”

“That’s not why I’m here.”

“Why are you here then?”

“I know where to find the Bishop.”

***

“You can leave for the night. Be back here tomorrow morning at 9am.”

The two men looked at the Bishop oddly.

“You sure sir?” one of them asked cautiously

“She is tied up in my basement. No one knows where she is. You destroyed the files and killed everyone you met in the house right?”

The men nodded.

“Good. You know how I am about my privacy. I shall see you in the morning.”

Both men nodded and walked out of the house.

The Bishop poured himself a shot of brandy and went up to his bedroom. He took a few sips from his drink and turned off the light and as he lay in bed, his thoughts strayed to Ijeoma. She was a lot more beautiful than her pictures portrayed. The fact that he couldn’t read her thoughts intrigued him even more. He wondered what she thought of him. If she was frightened, she did not let on. He wondered how long it would take for her to break.

The Bishop tossed and turned in his bed for another hour but he was still unable to sleep. Eventually he got out of bed and went downstairs. He picked up the brandy bottle from his bar alongside an extra glass then made his way to the basement. It was almost 1am.

When he turned on the lights, Ijeoma stirred. She had fallen asleep.

“I’d like for us to talk.” The Bishop said.

Ijeoma saw something in his eyes and she gave him a half smile which disappeared immediately.

“About?”

“Did you just smile?”

“No. I reserve my smiles for my friends. But you, you’re certainly no friend of mine.”

Ijeoma sat up and rested her back against the wall.

The Bishop set the bottle and glasses down between them. He poured into both glasses and held one up to Ijeoma’s lips.

“Have a sip.”

Ijeoma sighed.

“I haven’t eaten all day. If I take any spirit on an empty stomach, I’ll be passed out in a matter of minutes. Are you trying to have a conversation or something else?”

The Bishop smiled.

“Actually, a bit of both.”

He pressed the glass to Ijeoma’s lips and she took a sip and sighed. He pressed the glass again and Ijeoma took a bigger gulp this time before he set it down.

“How did you manage to kill Vlad?”

“I got lucky,” she responded simply. “He had almost snuffed the life out of me when my partner returned and managed to distract him. It was easy after that.”

The Bishop nodded.

“He was dear to me. I should be pissed but I am only impressed.”

“I guess we’re even then. Your boys took someone who was also dear to me.”

“Someone dear to you? I didn’t think that was possible. Your file read no family, no friends, no close ties, nothing.”

Ijeoma smiled stiffly. He didn’t know about Uzo. That was good. Unless he was playing at something. She decided to tread carefully.

“I had a son.”

“No way. He didn’t show up anywhere. He died?”

“I dunno. I gave him up for adoption at birth. Never found him again. I guess each time someone tries to look into me, I keep hoping they find him but so far, no one ever has.”

“Maybe you’re just not meant to find him or maybe he’s dead.”

Ijeoma shrugged and looked at the drink again and the Bishop raised the glass to her lips. She took another gulp.

“You’re not drinking.” She said to him. He smiled then took a gulp from his own glass and grimaced.

“You are quite something.”

Ijeoma smiled.

“I think not. But you on the other hand, you are quite the legend.”

The Bishop smiled.

“Really?”

“You know I’d heard so many stories I swore they weren’t true. I was certain you were a myth. Yet here I am, a guest in your home.”

The Bishop watched her carefully. Her eyes were glazed and there was a certain pitch in her voice.

“So you admit you’re a guest and not a prisoner.”

Ijeoma smiled and angled her head for another drink and the Bishop obliged her.

“You have me here, we’re having drinks. Never mind that my arms are stretched and bound tightly or that my joints are badly bruised. You actually have me talking. I call guest!” Ijeoma laughed softly.

The Bishop smiled. The effects of the alcohol were kicking in faster than he imagined. Blood coursed through his veins so fast, he could barely breathe. Maybe, just maybe he could have her tonight.

“And if I untied your hands?”

Ijeoma swayed to the side and slid slowly to the floor.

“What hands?” her speech was slurred and her eyes blinked a few times before they shut.

The Bishop stared at her. Was she asleep?

“Ijeoma?” He tapped her arm which was so tough.

Ijeoma blinked her eyes open then struggled to sit up.

“Sorry. Tired. But so thirsty. More.” Her speech was still slurred.

The Bishop held the glass to her again and she took another gulp from it before crashing to the floor again, this time spilling some of the contents in her mouth on the floor then letting out some silly laughter like a drunken 16 year old.

The bishop took two huge gulps from his glass and set it down. Then he took a swig from the bottle and set it down. The alcohol further fuelled the desire that had been burning in his loina. He stretched Ijeoma on her side but she looked too awkward so he proceeded to untie her wrists and once he was done, she still didn’t move. She was definitely passed out cold. He turned her on her back and spread her arms out while on his knees, then proceeded to take off her top, his heart pounding with intense desire.

The moment the top came off, he kissed her flat tummy but before he could go any further, her strong arms suddenly gripped his neck tightly and began to choke him. He fought back and they both tumbled over on the floor but Ijeoma did not let go, even with her feet still bound, she maintained a firm grip till she had him on the floor again. They crashed into the wall and Ijeoma slammed his head against it, once, twice, until he stopped moving. There was no blood so she was certain he wasn’t dead. She rolled over from him grabbed the brandy bottle which was close by and slammed it against the wall. Armed with the broken bottle, she stared at him, expecting him to move at any moment and when he didn’t, she hastened to untie her feet. She dragged him away from the wall and bound his hands and feet as quickly as she could. Her head did feel woozy but the adrenaline rushing through her made it possible to function almost effortlessly.

She went to the door and stood by it, bottle raised, in case someone came running through. She waited for a few seconds but no one did. Then she unlocked it and opened it cautiously. The house was deathly quiet. She tried to remember the blue print she had seen but it was difficult. She made her way upstairs and into the main house. She searched around and eventually found her phone and a few other personal belongings in the master bedroom. But the house was also empty. No other person was around. He must have sent his men away. From what she knew about him, he liked his privacy.

She dialled Yakubu’s number and his voice came through on the first ring.

“Hello?” he sounded cautious.

“Yakubu. It’s me.”

“Alhamdullilah! Ijeoma!!”

“I’m going to call you back in an hour. I just needed to confirm that I am safe. Don’t do anything. Just stay put till I call you back.”

“Ijeoma?”

Ijeoma rung off. Next, she went into the kitchen and picked up a few items then she made her way back to the basement again.

The Bishop was already awake at this time and clearly he had tried to free himself.

“You raving lunatic of a woman!”

“Oh shut up! You really think it would have been that easy? If you read my file like you said then you would have known to never underestimate me.”

“You will regret this. I assure you. You don’t know who you’re messing with.”

Ijeoma left the room and returned with a chair from the dining room.

“You and I are going to have a little conversation. And after that, I will send you off on your journey to hell.”

She saw the fear in his eyes.

“My boys will be here before you know it.”

“No they won’t. Unlike you, when I do my homework on people, I do it really well and leave no stones unturned. You never like additional company. Your house is soundproof and you have no means of contacting them. So I know for a fact that they are gone for the night. It’s just me, you and your retribution tonight.”

She slammed the chair across his back then set it right again. She dragged him across the floor and forced him into the chair then she picked up some extra rope she had returned with and tied him firmly to the chair. There would be no escape for him.

For the next hour, Ijeoma inflicted one cut after another on different parts of his body. The cuts came to a total of 122. Each cut, she said represented a passenger on the Miranda airplane that crashed and the extra two were for Yemi and Kazeem who his boys had killed. After each cut, she proceeded to pour some pepper and salt into the wound. The Bishop raged, cursed and cried but Ijeoma did not relent. By the time she was done, he was almost dead and there were blood stains everywhere but Ijeoma did not care.

She stood back, took a picture of him and returned her phone to her pocket.

“I hope you enjoy dinner with the devil tonight.”

She turned away and walked out of the room, locking the door shut behind her then she placed another phone call to Yakubu.

“It’s done. Come get me.”

***

Uzo stood in his living room, staring out the window. He had been distraught since he returned to Lagos. He had been informed of Leela’s death and it had affected him more than he thought was normal.

“Come on man. Stop doing this to yourself.”

“I’m filing for asylum in the US.” Uzo said distractedly.

“I can’t do this. I can’t be here. The nightmare will never end.”

“And your mum?”

“Please, stop calling her that. That cold, unfeeling robot couldn’t even do me the courtesy of telling me about Leela’s death herself. And I’m sure she was responsible somewhat.”

“Uzo, you don’t know for sure. Just let it go.”

“Don’t tell me that Nathan. I’m going to start processing the documents tomorrow. Leela’s former boss is helping me. After her funeral, I’m getting out. I really cannot do this anymore.”

“And Nifemi?”

Uzo shook his head.

A day after his return, Nifemi had swung by the house, like she had been doing every day since she got the news at the office. She had not expected to find him there or looking that physically healthy either with no scars. They had ended up in a fight and he had blurted the whole truth to her. Nifemi was stunned. Then she tried to kiss him but Uzo was having none of it. The loss of Leela was still fresh in his heart. Nifemi told him she thought she was in love with him but he told her it was all in her head. He ordered her out of his house and they had not spoken since then.

“What about her?”

“Uzo, I know you enough to know that you feel something for her. You’re just being stubborn.”

“Even if I do, this is not the time or place. It will not even end well. So what’s the point?”

“You never know man. Don’t shut it down completely. Give it time. If you move there, keep communication open.”

“Nope. Whatever it is she thinks she feels, it’ll be gone in a matter of weeks, I guarantee.”

There was a knock on the door and Uzo sighed. I don’t want to see her. Please tell her to go away.

Nathan went to the door. It was actually Nifemi outside but she pushed past him and went to face Uzo directly.

“I want you Uzo. I have never been more certain of anything in my entire life. I am hurting deeply because I know you’re hurting as well. This is nothing like I have ever felt for anyone before. Don’t do this please. Let me love you. Let me help you heal.”

Uzo shook his head.

“I am a wreck Nifemi. You don’t want to get caught up in this mess.”

“I do. And it doesn’t matter how you try to push me away, I will keep coming back. I will wait for as long as it takes.”

Uzo sighed.

“I’m leaving the country.”

“I will come with you too. I don’t care where you go.”

Uzo massaged his temples. This woman was unrelenting.

“Six months. If in six months you still feel this way, we will have a conversation and try to work out something.”

Nifemi smiled and kissed him suddenly. Uzo tried to protest but eventually gave up. There was something about the fragrance she was wearing that made his head spin. Or maybe it was the manner in which she claimed his lips. But something told him he would not be able to wait six months.

***

“I’m leaving tonight. For good this time.”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“Thank you for everything Ijeoma. You have no idea how much peace you have brought me.”

“I’m glad I could. We burned down the house. All evidence has been destroyed. Not a single thing can be traced back to you.”

“Thank you again. Meanwhile, I got the best news today. Ani’s girlfriend is carrying his baby. I’m going to be grandfather.”

Ijeoma smiled tightly.

“I’m happy for you. Please take care.”

She stepped out of his study and went past the two young women chattering happily in the living room. She could not bring herself to talk to Uzo because she did not know what to say to him. Yakubu had told her he had taken up the asylum option and they would help process his move to the US. She was grateful for it but she knew her time in his life was definitely over. She could not afford to get involved again.

Chief Ubong returned to the living room to meet Sharon and Otto.

“Daddy this is the first time I’m seeing you happy in weeks. I’m so glad Sharon is having this baby!” Otto said enthusiastically.

She was certain Sharon’s baby was the reason for the light that had returned to her father’s eyes but she would never know the truth. Chief Ubong opened an image on his phone and smiled again as he stared at the Bishop’s corpse taken just before Ijeoma had burned down the house

“Me too honey, that has made me so happy.”

He finally decided to delete the picture. He had gotten revenge for his children’s deaths. He was thankful for the ones he had remaining and even more for the baby on the way. But above all, he was thankful to and for Ijeoma, the one woman who had made it all possible. Her hunting skills were truly legendary and he marvelled at how she had been able to successfully uncover the Bishop’s plot and bring him down.

He recalled her statement about being gone for good and smiled. He doubted that Ijeoma would be able to stay inactive forever. It simply was not in her DNA. Not as long as evildoers remained in the world.

THE END

Hunter’s Game S02E11

Dear lovely people,

I must apologise for how long it’s taken for this post to come up today. Shout out to those awesome people who have messaged me and hounded me all day. It felt great to know there were people eagerly anticipating the story.

But I must let you know that this post is being accompanied with a lot of personal love and hugs and kisses. I am neck deep in exams and battling a flu (aka running nose, headaches, slight fever) as well. But I decided to write this episode against all odds because I love you guys that much. So I hope you enjoy.

And by way of information, this is the penultimate episode. Next week will have us reading the final episode as we draw the curtain over Hunter’s Game. Please make it a date on the blog.

Before you complain about the length of the episode, it’s short, I know. But I will make it up to you next week. You have my word

Enjoy the episode while I go make myself some nice chicken peppersoup. I deserve it, no? xx

– Oge

***

Previous Episodes

Nifemi lay on the couch in the living room reading a book. It had been a lazy Sunday for her. She had spent the whole of Saturday doing laundry and cleaning up the entire house. She also cooked for the new week and stocked up the freezer. Once she woke up on Sunday, she didn’t bother taking a shower. She just brushed, took some food and stayed in bed watching shows. Towards the end of the day, she picked up on her reading and stayed glued to the book while hugging a bottle of wine until nightfall.

It was 8pm when Victoria sauntered into the living room, bright eyed and excited. Nifemi was up from the couch in a flash, crushing her in a bear hug.

“Jeez, woman, you have me for the entire night. Go easy” Victoria said laughing.

Nifemi giggled and pinched her arm

“Because I missed you abi?”

Victoria yelped and tickled her chin in return

“That was painful! Don’t miss me again abeg.”

Both ladies laughed and Victoria subsequently added

“Missed you too luv. I-B was amazing though. When you mix work with fun, the best!”

“There’s no difference between work and fun for you. Sha bring gist.”

Victoria set her small on the floor and together they took to one of the couches.

“One of my director guys called to say there was this filmmakers’ workshop in I-B and some top producers would be there so he wanted me to do like a meet and greet stuff. It worked out pretty perfectly. I got a role in one of the producer’s upcoming series. Then we spent the rest of the weekend partying hard and today, I reckoned I’d had enough.”

Nifemi squealed in excitement.

“That’s amazing babes! I’m so happy for you.”

Victoria smiled with feigned grace and flipped imaginary hair in the air.

“Thank you, thank you very much!”

Nifemi burst into loud laughter and Victoria joined her eventually.

“So tell me, how did your weekend go?

Wait…”

Victoria regarded her suspiciously.

“Wine and a book? You’re avoiding something or waiting on something. Or someone”

Nifemi rolled her eyes and looked away guiltily.

“Oh lord, this woman!”

“Noooo,” Victoria held up a hand and sat up in the couch.

“I know you. I know you too well. Something ain’t right.”

“Or you think you do.” Nifemi said laughing.

“What? A girl cannot enjoy a good book and wine by herself again?”

Victoria’s eyes shone brighter than her smile and she clapped her hands excitedly.

“I know you Femi, start talking.”

Nifemi rolled her eyes.

“Smh. I went out with Uzo on Friday night.”

Victoria’s smile disappeared, replaced almost immediately by a frown.

“Even after what I told you?”

“Calm down Vic. He wasn’t the one.”

“How do you know that? Wait, let me guess, he told you.”

“Yes. And he was really upset that I thought he was a murderer.”

Victoria sighed and rubbed her forehead in exasperation.

“Femi, what did you think? That he would say yes and confess to the crime?”

“No. That he would look guilty or try to cover it up, not look disappointed in me like I had broken his trust.”

Victoria shook her head.

“I’m not buying this Femi. But okay.”

Nifemi sighed.

“There’s no winning with you. It’s fine.”

She got off the couch, picked her book and the almost empty bottle of wine then walked out. Victoria called after her but she ignored her. Victoria followed her into the room and stood by the door while Nifemi plopped into the bed with her back to the door.

“I don’t want to talk again please.”

“Femi, really? Come on. It’s nothing to be upset over. I was just saying-”

“You’re always just saying. You never trust me even to deal with my own life. Like, I can’t bring gist to you without you trying to lecture me.”

Victoria felt bad. That was not her intention at all.

“Babes, come on. Okay, I’m sorry. That has never been my intention. I’m just trying to look out for you. I’ll take your word for it. It wasn’t him.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“No, I mean it. I’m being overprotective and I’m likely overthinking this. Please just tell me how the date went.”

Nifemi turned to her and smiled reluctantly.

“It wasn’t a date jor.”

“But you sha went out.”

Nifemi smiled.

“Yes. And I had a blast. We saw a movie then went to karaoke. Vicky, that guy can sing and dance for Africa. You should have heard his rendition of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me. It was too beautiful.”

“Osheyyy lover girl!”

Nifemi laughed and shook her head.

“No be only. I told you I’m only hunting him. It’s just a game”

Victoria smiled smugly. She didn’t believe the game was still on. If anything, the game had changed and the hunter had become the hunted. If the light in Nifemi’s eyes were anything to go by. But she didn’t want to argue and risk upsetting her a second time that night.

“Issokay. So when is the next hangout?”

“Funny you should ask. He said we should do this again sometime but I haven’t even heard from him all weekend. He did say he would call yesterday. Still nothing.”

Victoria stifled a laugh.

“I think he’s probably on a mission as well. He’s trying to make you fall for him.”

Nifemi snorted.

“Fat chance. I’ll see him at work tomorrow and if he doesn’t say anything about not calling, I won’t even ask. We can both pretend Friday night never happened.”

Victoria laughed.

“Awww. Someone is getting a little sensitive.”

Nifemi smacked her and turned on her side of the bed.

***

Sharon stood around the arrival lounge, nervously wringing and unwringing her palms as she waited for Otto to go through Immigration checks. She spotted Otto’s tired face first and Otto’s eyes brightened in a smile when she saw her. They shared a warm hug and sat down beside each other.

“It’s really great to see you. I feel like you’re my sister now. The only thing close to a sibling I have.” Otto said.

Sharon swallowed hard as she contemplated Otto’s possible reaction to her betrayal.

“Same here hun. How was your flight?”

“Not bad, I just feel so tired-” she yawned and continued “I didn’t get much sleep last night. I feel like my brain hurts from too much thinking.”

Sharon smiled and stroked Otto’s locks. They were beautiful and had grown over the last few months.

“And you? Are you feeling any better?” Otto asked

Sharon smiled sadly and turned her face away. She didn’t know where to start, if this was the time or place or even how Otto would react.

“Sharon, is everything okay?” Otto’s voice and eyes mirrored her concern and Sharon felt even worse.

“I swear you can tell me anything Sharon, it’s literally just us two.”

Sharon sighed.

“I got drunk and high on the night of the funeral and I slept with Tobe.”

Otto’s eyes widened and she let out a shocked gasp before pulling both hands off Sharon’s laps and covering her mouth.

“Wow!”

Sharon shook her head and turned away.

“I know you must be really disappointed and pissed but I’m sorry-”

“Are you okay?”

Sharon turned to face Otto and was shocked to see tears in her eyes.

“Hey, why are you-”

“I can’t imagine how awful you must feel.”

Otto impulsively hugged her and Sharon found herself crying again. It was most annoying. Why were her lacrimal glands hyperactive this weekend? Beyond that, Otto hadn’t even heard the worst of it. Sharon gently eased her back and she wiped her face as Otto stared at her with her own tear-stricken face.

“That’s not it. I’m pregnant.”

“Oh.” Otto’s voice was small this time and she looked away. Sharon burdened by her own guilt looked around as well and suddenly spotted Kunbi walking towards them. She felt a mixture of relief and trepidation. It wasn’t all over yet.

Kunbi was a head taller than Sharon, had the regular build of a guy and a permanent smile on his face. A smile that always made everything better.

“Hi sweetheart.”

He held Sharon in a warm embrace for the longest time and when eventually they pulled apart, he said

“See ehn, if it weren’t for my baby and the fact that I’m a one woman typa guy, I would have asked you to marry me right away. You are much more gorgeous than I remember.”

Sharon found herself laughing. Kunbi had not lost his charm one bit.

“It’s great to see you too hun.”

Kunbi kissed her on the forehead then turned to face Otto who was still seated on the chair, shell-shocked.

“And trust Sharon to have a side-kick who looks every inch as gorgeous and as feisty as herself.” He stretched a hand to Otto.

“Hi, I’m Kunbi.”

Otto ignored his hand and turned to Sharon, eyes suddenly burning with rage

“You’re pregnant???”

Sharon wished the ground would open and swallow her. She stood rooted to the spot, ignoring the curious glances being cast in their direction and hoping that Otto would keep it together.

“It’s one thing to cheat on my brother, but then you go and get pregnant??”

Sharon turned to Kunbi, eyes pleading for help. She saw shock make a brief appearance on his face then quickly give way to concern but no judgement. This was not how she intended for him to find out. Kunbi clasped both hands together, still facing Otto.

“Can we take this out of here? Please? We’ll go to my house then sit down and try and talk.”

Otto did not say anything. She picked up her bag instead and walked out of the airport. Kunbi took Sharon’s bag and whispered to her, “it’ll be okay.” Then they walked out together.

The ride home was quiet. Kunbi driving with Sharon seated beside him and Otto sulking at the back of the car. When they got to his house, a modest 3 bedroom apartment, he took their bags inside and led them to the living room. Portrait paintings and pencil drawings hung all over the room, extending to the elevated area of the dining and as annoyed as Otto was, she could not resist the urge to go close to them.

“May I?” she asked gruffly.

“Sure.” Kunbi said with a smile.

There was a landscape painting with two figures by the beach watching the sun set. Otto ran her hands over it, her breath catching in her throat.

“That’s my favourite.” Kunbi said from behind her.

“I painted that last year when I went to Zanzibar.”

Otto gulped.

“What??”

He smiled. These are all mine. I paint, I draw; I’m a visual artist.

Otto was impressed.

“Wow! That is so cool!”

“What were you doing in Zanzibar though? Honeymoon?”

Kunbi laughed and shook his head.

“Naah. Not married yet. Personal retreat. I like to go away sometimes and just think. Painting or drawing helps. It’s destressing.”

Otto nodded.

“So you’re an artist on a professional level or you paint just to de-stress?”

“I’m an Energy consultant. Studied in Nigeria, did my Masters here and got a job here. I’ve been here for 4 years now. I paint to de-stress. I have sold a handful but only because people didn’t know anything better to do with their money.” He finished with a small laugh.

“Wow.”

Kunbi held her hand and said softly,

“You know, if you say those words a few more times and a little bit faster, you’d sound like a siren and maybe the fire service would get here soon enough to put out the fire that I can sense burning beneath the surface.”

Otto laughed self-consciously. She liked this guy already. She tried to guess his age. Definitely late twenties. And he was cute too. Yeah, she was definitely crushing on him.

“Sorry. I’ve just had a rough time.”

Kunbi nodded.

“I can tell. And I’m guessing that’s why Sharon brought you to me. Clearly, she’s also had a rough time.”

Otto rolled her eyes.

“Rough enough for her to cheat on my dead brother with his best friend and end up pregnant.”

“I’m right here you know,” Sharon finally spoke in a small voice. She had remained standing in the centre of the living room the entire time saying nothing.

Kunbi led Otto back to the living room and had her sit on a couch right across from Sharon and himself.

“So I don’t know anything about what’s going on but I’m hoping that you’d both be able to talk to me and somehow we’ll make a way out of the maze we’re currently stuck in. Yeah?”

Sharon nodded meekly and Otto shrugged.

“Can I just take a walk outside for a bit? If you have a garden or something.” Otto said unexpectedly.

“Sure.” Kunbi led her to a back door that opened into a beautiful garden and Otto smiled.

“I love you already.”

Kunbi grinned.

“Well that’s certainly not something I get every day. I’m glad you do.”

He walked back into the living room to find Sharon seated exactly as he had left her. He sat next to her on the couch and pulled her close into a hug. Sharon was too tired to cry any more. She was silent for a few minutes but soon she found her voice and she told Kunbi everything, leaving no details out. The best thing about being friends with Kunbi was she could always count on him to speak objectively without judgement and always provide a solution to whatever mess she had landed herself in. It didn’t even matter that they had not spoken in about a year. Kunbi was a permanent part of her life, always lurking in the shadows, ready to come through whenever she needed. And as expected, he did not fall short.

“How far along are you?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t do a hospital test. Just checked myself at home.”

“It’s possible that this child isn’t even Tobe’s. You slept with him 2 weeks ago and you’re pregnant now? But you said Ani made love to you the morning before the accident. And that was 4 weeks ago. Why don’t you go check the actual dates and we’ll take it from there?”

Sharon’s heart thumped with hope. Hope she was afraid to fully latch on to. What if Kunbi was wrong?

“See, Sharon there are consequences for every single one of our actions. Directly and indirectly. You were hurting when what happened with Tobe happened and the direct consequence that followed was the guilt and now probably a baby. But for some reason I cannot place, I am convinced it is not his child. Regardless, you must forgive yourself for the past. Then talk to God to help you accept and deal with Ani’s death.”

Sharon nodded vigorously.

“I feel like God hates me. He must be tired of all my back and forth.”

Kunbi laughed.

“I tell you all the time, God’s love for you is not predicated on your love for him or your attempts at righteousness. It is not based on reciprocity. He loves you regardless. Fight Him all you want o, accept Him o, He still loves you all the same.”

Sharon sighed.

“I wish I could have what you have Kay. That unyielding and unwavering confidence in God; that assurance that He always has your back irrespective of whatever happens.”

“Blind trust. It’s hard because it defies logic. But it brings me peace.”

Sharon sighed again.

“I’m worried about Otto. She seems to be losing her faith. It’s also why I brought her along. To lose all one’s siblings that way. I don’t want her to get lost completely Kay.”

“It’s not up to us to fix her Sharon. Sometimes we must lose ourselves in order to find ourselves again. You know my journey and how I came to this point. Let her.”

“But will you talk to her at least? Tell about your past as well?”

“Sure. But I’m just saying, it’s not a guarantee of anything. Let her question, let her be mad at God even. But eventually, it’s up to her to decide. You can encourage, pray and offer support but you cannot convict. That is what the Holy Spirit does.”

Sharon looked at Kunbi with a smile and she exhaled loudly.

“I swear my life would be an absolute shit-show without you in it. You are everything Kunbi. Thank you so much.”

Kunbi held her eyes for a few seconds.

“I’m here for you dear. Anytime.”

Otto walked back into the living room at that moment.

“So, when do we get to talk?”

***

The Bishop swayed from side to side in his hammock hanging firmly under the sturdy mango tree in his garden. It was a really cool Sunday evening and he was enjoying the breeze. But while his outward appearance portrayed relaxation, his mind processed ideas at a thousand thoughts per minute. It had taken him about 12 hours to obtain Ijeoma’s file the moment he realized Vlad was dead.

He was impressed and that was not something that happened often. He contemplated recruiting her and how much she would cost. Someone like her would come in very handy especially considering the number of elections taking place across Africa and the number of politicians that had contacted him for help. He would not kill her. He would just find a means of purchasing her loyalty. Everyone had a price. He just needed to figure out what hers was.

But before purchasing or commanding her loyalty, he would need to capture her first. He only needed to deploy 4 of his most trusted agents. He didn’t have that many of them these days and he preferred it that way. He strongly believed the more people a person had around them, the more vulnerable they became. So if people didn’t know who he was or the powers he wielded there would never be any hope of catching him. This was his biggest strength. His ability to remain invisible and live and act vicariously through a select few.

His instructions were simple. Find Ijeoma, kill any and every one that served as an obstruction but bring her to him alive. He had given them 48 hours to complete the assignment and he expected that they would come through.

His current residence was on the outskirts of Abuja and his mansion of a house was far from regular habitation. He liked the seclusion. He would keep Ijeoma prisoner there till she bowed to him and gave in to his demands. He got off the hammock and walked into the main house. Her file still lay open at the bar table. He looked at the printed pictures of her and smiled lustfully. Perhaps he would have a go at her as well. That body was too perfect to be admired alone. In his sixty two years of existence, no woman had ever made his blood boil over with desire as much as the woman in the pictures before him. He poured himself a shot of whisky and went to his favourite rocking chair, a dark smile on his face as he thought of all the things he could and would do to her

Hunter’s Game S02E10

Previous Episodes

Williams woke up with a start. He looked around the room and discovered he was by himself, as was to be expected. But for some inexplicable reason, there was a void in his heart, a yearning for something he could not immediately place his finger on. He just knew he felt some latent sadness that he could not account for and as he sat up slowly in his bed, it soon hit him. Tinu had been here last night. He sighed. There had been an argument, raised voices and she had stormed out of the house saying she would not be returning until he got his shit together.

He was still struggling with Aisha’s death, almost a month later. He thought he was getting better- Tinu had been helping and when he tried to think of why they had ended up fighting last night, he couldn’t wrap his head around it. He heard his doorbell go off in the distance and he ignored it at first but whoever they were, they simply would not go away. He eventually dragged himself out of bed and into the living room. When he looked to see who it was, he found himself hurriedly opening up the door.

Tinu walked in, a kind but firm expression on her face. Williams followed her into the living room and when she turned suddenly to face him, he came to an abrupt halt to stop avoid bumping into her.

“You and I need to talk.”

“Sure. Go ahead” Williams said as he scratched his head. He wasn’t sure what to expect.

“You have been using me-”

“Tinu-”

She raised a hand to object to his interjection.

“No wait, let me finish. You have been using me to fill the void Aisha’s death created and I resent you for that. The reason we fought last night was because I had a lot of pent up annoyance that you tipped over with your careless statement. You told me I am not Aisha and you honestly thought I wouldn’t flip?”

“But there was a context to that” Williams protested weakly and Tinu rolled her eyes.

“You’re missing the point. I don’t give two shits for your context. I’m not trying to be Aisha. And the truth is when we dated the first time, I was only a seat filler until whenever it was that she would return. And she did return and claim your heart. But now she is dead Will and she is never coming back.”

Williams was subdued and he stared at his feet.

“I care about you Will. I always have but I can’t keep letting you use me and hurt me like this.”

“So you’re gonna leave me too?” Williams’ voice was small and Tinu felt a tinge of guilt but that was it.

“Just for the time being. I know I was insensitive last night and said some really hurtful things but that’s why I’m back here so we can have a civil conversation. I don’t want to be used anymore. Your grief is not something you can deploy as a shield for your inadequacies. You have not treated me right at all. You only call when you need something. And every single time I answer and show up at your doorstep, you manipulate me into having sex with you, then you feel better then I end up feeling like thrash because I know there’s nothing in it for you. You do not care about me as a person and your grief is an insufficient excuse to keep manipulating me. I won’t let you do that anymore.”

Williams stared at her in silence. Her chastisement hit him hard but he knew he would not last a week without her. He needed her friendship. She had been there for him like she had said and he had failed to notice how awfully he had treated her. But she was right. In all her consistency, he had never once bothered to find out what was going on in her life or how she was faring as a person. It had always been about him and his needs.

“What do you want me to do?” He asked humbly.

“Don’t call me or reach out to me. Deal with this on your own and if at the end of your mourning you’d like us to still be friends, give me a call.”

Williams nodded slowly.

“Ok…”

Tinu gave him a curt nod.

“Good bye Will.”

She turned around and walked briskly out of his house and suddenly that yearning, that latent sadness Williams had woken up with overshadowed him again like a cloak wrapped thickly around his shoulders. How was he to find his way without her?

***

Sharon sat on the toilet bowl in the bathroom of her exquisite suite and stared at the two lines in the strip she held in her hand. Her heart stopped and the entire room zoomed out into one looming, dark space. All she could hear was a soft buzz in her ears. Her mind lacked the capacity to conjure any coherent thoughts and all she could imagine was that this was not happening. No way. It couldn’t possibly be happening. The tears came to her eyes and she fought them back weakly. She had no one to blame but herself, what use would tears serve?

After what seemed like hours, Sharon finally got off the toilet seat and flushed. She walked shakily out of the bathroom and back to her suite, her head was still buzzing. Her devices lay just as she had left them- laptop open in an excel sheet she had been working on, iPad emitting music from the YouTube app and her phone charging in a corner. She stared at them and had a sudden urge to throw them against the wall but common sense prevailed. She sat beside the laptop instead and moved her fingers across her trackpad, looking but unseeing at the screen.

It was the email notification that caught her attention and brought her back to earth. Otto had finally responded to the email she had sent two days ago.

Hi Sharon, I’m good. In Aberdeen, got some tattoos and piercings, been to a strip club, kissed some lesbian chic. Basically trying out all the wild stuff in life. You know it’s too short. Hope you’re well.

-Otto”

Sharon was not certain what hurt her heart more, the fact that Otto seemed to be on a train wreck or the fact that she just discovered she was carrying Tobe’s child. She went to the fridge in the corner and retrieved a bottle of water. A few shots of vodka would have sufficed to clear her head but she was not rescinding on her alcohol abstinence. She had to find a more effective way to manage stress and all other unpleasantness.

She wondered what she was to do. Otto’s tone in the email did not indicate that she needed saving and even if it did, did she have the capacity to fix things? Hadn’t she also embarked on her own self-destruct mission, the evidence of which would rat her out in a few months? Who was she to turn to for help anyway?

Certainly not Tobe who had been trying desperately to get in touch with her. She remembered his stupid outburst the day she was leaving the country. He had tried to contact her for two days without any luck and had showed up at her apartment without any warning. Then he had launched into a sorry tale of love and feelings and a future and a legacy and preserving Ani’s memory. Nothing he had said that evening had made sense and the moment she was in a cab heading to the airport, she’d discarded the entire conversation. There was no way she could call him now 2 weeks later and say she was pregnant.

She was still contemplating her options when another email came in.

“Can we talk sometime please?”

It was still from Otto. Sharon sniffed and typed out a response, asking for a means to contact her. Otto responded with a Skype ID and Sharon called immediately. When the call connected, neither of them had anything to say and after a couple of failed starts which involved them talking at the same time, Sharon exhaled and asked

“Are you alright love?”

Otto shook her head.

“I’m struggling. I have so many questions without answers. I know how much Ima loved God. How she used to tell ‘Kela that he would end up in hell for chasing so many women and ‘Kela would always say he would only be assigned 70 virgins in heaven. But I’m just here wondering, why did Ima die? Was she not religious enough? She was the uptight one, the one that used to see visions every time, how did she not see this coming? And what about ‘Kela and Ani? Are they burning in hell?”

Sharon swallowed hard.

“If I said I knew the answers to your questions Otto, I would be lying.”

“But what if there is no God?” Otto asked

“What if we’re being sold lies by all these preachers and religious houses? What if people just cease to exist when they die and what if there is no after life?”

“I don’t know Otto. I’ve been struggling myself. But not with my faith. I haven’t even given God a single thought.”

“Well maybe you shouldn’t. It’s pointless.”

“Actually, I think I should and I would. I haven’t been honest with anyone about how much Ani’s death hurt. I haven’t tried to deal with the pain. I have just shielded it and done stupid stuff. But I actually want to start fixing it now.”

Otto saw Sharon’s eyes ake on a new light and she was confused.

“Okay? I don’t see where this is going.”

“Do you still have a valid Schengen visa?”

Otto nodded, “Yes.”

“Okay. I’m in Ibiza at the moment. I’ll get us tickets to France. There’s someone I think we both need to speak to.”

“Sharon, if this is a pastor, don’t bother.”

“No, he’s not a pastor. He’s an old friend. And he is someone I ought to have reached out to a long time ago.”

Otto’s eyes clouded.

“You think we’re going to be okay?”

“I know we are hun. I know we are. Just get your things together. I’ll book the tickets for tomorrow and we can both try to go about dealing with our hurt the right way. For their sakes. It must hurt them to know we’re falling apart this way.”

Otto let the tears drop as she nodded.

“See.”

She raised her sleeve up and showed off the tattoo on her left arm. Sharon smiled.

“You are truly a survivor Otto. And this will pass.”

They talked for a few more minutes before Sharon hung up. She felt immediate relief. How had she not thought to reach out to Kunbi in all this time? He was just what she needed and she knew his promise of all round availability to her at any time would forever be in play. She scrolled through her contacts on Whatsapp and found his name. She called him on the app and the moment his voice came through on the line, Sharon fell apart.

“Sharon?” He called softly. But she could not stop the tears. She just let them flow for a long time while he tried to soothe her over the phone.

“I’m sorry Kunbi. But I need you.”

“I am available to you hon, you know this. What can I do?”

“Where are you?”

“At home in Paris. Why?”

“Can I come see you tomorrow evening?”

“Of course darling. Where are you? I would be more than happy to have you.”

“I’m in Ibiza at the moment but I intend to come tomorrow and I’m bringing someone with me. Our lives are falling apart and I need you to do what you always do.”

She heard his smile through his voice.

“Anytime. What time is your flight? I’ll come get you from the airport.”

Sharon shook her head and wiped her eyes.

“I haven’t booked it yet. Just needed to double check that you were in the country.”

“Well I am. And I’ll see you tomorrow. No matter what it is, I speak to your heart this moment. Peace be still.”

Sharon held on to those words long after the conversation ended. They were the reason she was able to eat and subsequently fall asleep later in the day.

***

Uzo rolled the car to a stop in front of Nifemi’s house, a smile spread generously across his face as he bobbed his head to music from his car stereo. Nifemi had a similar smile plastered across her own face. It had been a great night.  They had seen a movie as planned, then headed off to Shaunz bar for karaoke and drinks on a whim. On the way there, Uzo had asked again about Fola and Nifemi told him as much as she could without making herself appear too much like the victim. She and Fola had dated, he went abroad and broke things off without a reason. She didn’t say he stopped talking to her, just that he had ended things without a reason, only to surface six years later with a tale she did not buy. Uzo had been gracious after the revelation. He neither bashed Fola like most people in his shoes would have done, nor did he make too much of a fuss over Nifemi. He had just carried on with other conversation after saying that life happened sometimes and that he thought she handled Fola’s reappearance well.

At karaoke, Nifemi was impressed by his strong vocals which were evident in his rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay with me.” She would never have guessed that Uzo could sing or that he would be a Sam Smith fan either. But he had shocked her, even more so when he hit all the right notes towards the end of the song. His rendition had earned him an explosive applause at the bar and she had been proud.

They had then performed Sia’s “Cheap thrills” together and the song gave her such a rush, especially as she held Uzo’s eyes flirtatiously while they danced, mirroring each other’s fluid body movements. She had not had that level of sync with anyone in music and dance, yet the chemistry did not bother her. She barely acknowledged it anyway.

But seated in the car in front of the house now, she was somewhat reluctant to get out. It was almost midnight.

“Are we going to stay here all night with that smile on your face? Because I swear I don’t mind. It’s the most beautiful thing since Picasso.”

Nifemi laughed somewhat self-consciously.

“Watch yourself sir.”

She opened her door and got out. Uzo followed suit, walking her up to her doorstep.

“This was great-” Nifemi started

“Just great? Please, it was awesome, fantastic, mind-blowing, mad exciting, etc, etc”

Nifemi laughed softly.

“You should drink more often. See how alcohol causes you to loosen up.”

Uzo pouted

“Are you calling me uptight?”

Nifemi pulled his nose.

“Sometimes. Like, you can be really distant and shielded.”

Uzo grinned.

“I have trust issues.”

He held her eyes under the radiance of the moonlight and for the briefest moment, he thought about claiming her petite lips. Nifemi smiled nervously.

“What?” she asked.

“You are beautiful” he responded with the softest of tones.

Nifemi brushed her hand over her hair and kept on smiling without a word.

“We should do this again. Maybe not too soon but definitely again.”

He stepped back and Nifemi nodded.

“Sure.”

“Alright, I’ll head home now. But I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Nifemi smiled.

“Good night Uzo, and thank you for an amazing night.”

“My pleasure.” He dipped his head slightly in a mock bow then walked off to his car. Nifemi stood at her doorstep, watching him till he got into the car and drove off, then she smiled to herself and went into the house. Six weeks, too much, this was almost week 4 and Uzo was already tipping in her direction. Just a little more prodding and he would fall.

Uzo thought there was something slightly odd about her smile as he drove away but he shrugged it off. Why ruin a great night by overthinking things? He would never have guessed that Nifemi could sing and dance like that and the way they had connected over karaoke? Too much. He had never shared anything this intense with anyone his entire life. Perhaps it was too soon to tell but there was some chemistry there and he would likely be exploring it. To hell with his talk of not messing around with colleagues. Nifemi seemed to be into him too. He would follow the trail and see where it led.

He was home in less than 15 minutes and as he walked into his house and turned the lights on, he jumped in fright.

“What the hell??”

He clutched his chest and backed away, towards the door.

Leela who was seated on a couch in the living room smiled at him.

“Hello you, I was beginning to wonder if you’d show up at all.”

Uzo felt the entire energy drain from his body.

“No. No friggin’ way. You’re not here and we are not even about to have a conversation.”

He walked past her into his bedroom and slammed the door shut, turning the key in its lock.

***

Uzo woke up with a mild headache. Someone was knocking on his bedroom door. And that made no sense because- he suddenly remembered the night before and he sighed. Of course Leela was in his house. It had not been a dream. He got out of bed, unlocked the door then walked back to his bed and climbed in.

Leela opened the door and walked in.

“Glad you’re finally up. Good morning.”

Uzo ignored the smile.

“Don’t come here and pretend like we’re all good. What do you want?”

“You seem rather pissed.”

“Don’t do this Leela. No more mind games. I am tired of them. And no more pretending like you don’t know what you did. Of course I’m pissed at you. You can’t keep disappearing and reappearing in my life at will. I am not a puppet.”

Leela went close to the bed but remained standing, arms folded across her chest.

“True. You have every right to be mad at me. But trust me Uzo, whatever I did, I did with your best interests at heart.”

“If you’re trying to piss me off further, it’s working. Just stop talking. My best interests at heart? What am I? Some lost dog? You left me after we got back from Zaria. Not a word of warning. Then you reappeared saying you wanted to make things work, then you left again. So don’t expect me to throw you a prodigal child’s welcome party now. You certainly weren’t missed”

Leela smiled.

“I’m not asking for a welcome party. I’m not even asking to be let back into your life. That’s not why I’m here-”

Uzo held up a hand.

“I don’t want to hear it Leela. Every single time you show up, there’s always trouble or hurt in the horizon. I swear I’ve had enough of those to last me a lifetime.”

Leela let out a frustrated sigh. This was not going to be easy.

“Uzo, I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry for every single time I have caused you pain. But believe me, I wouldn’t be here in your room unless it was absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, I care about you and every time I left it was because I didn’t want to drag you down to the dungeons with me. I had personal demons I needed exorcised. At first I thought that coming back to you would take care of that but I was wrong. So I am sorry. But please, you need to hear me out.”

Uzo looked at her in silence for a while.

“What do you want this time?”

“You mother sent me.”

Uzo’s eyes grew wide.

“Wait, what? No way, no friggin’ way! You have got to be kidding me!”

“Uzo-”

“I knew it!”

He leaped out of bed and began pacing the room.

“The nightmare is about to resume isn’t it?”

“Uzo, calm down. Not necessarily.”

“What do you mean by not necessarily?” Uzo snapped.  “Can’t I just have a moment of peace?”

Leela’s impatience was mounting but she bit her lip to contain it. Let Uzo vent all he wanted. He needed it. She watched him pace about some more before she spoke to him calmly.

“Your mum suspects someone will try to use you to get to her. She only needs you to go underground for a few days until she sorts this out.”

“Is there any time someone isn’t trying to use me to get to her? Why can’t that woman stay out of trouble sef? Why is she always pissing people off?!”

Leela smiled. She had wondered the same thing as well.

“This wasn’t deliberate Uzo. Your mum was truly retired but someone made her return to the game and this time, for a good cause.”

“Sure.” Uzo remarked sarcastically. “Always for a good cause.”

“Is that why that girl claimed to recognise me? They have found me already then!”

Leela’s brows came together in a frown.

“What girl?”

“My colleague’s best friend. About 2 or 3 days ago. I dropped my colleague at home and the girl claimed to recognize me then told my colleague I was the guy from the murder scandal. I guess your people didn’t do such a fine job of cleaning up after all.”

Leela smiled.

“Naah. That was just fluke. Maybe the girl really did recognise you. If this person had found you, you would be dead by now.”

Uzo gulped.

“See, I’m tired of all these death threats abeg. Can I just live? You know, have a moment of peace? Or better yet, a regular life where guns aren’t going off and dead bodies aren’t showing up at my doorstep? I do not like the theatrics at all.”

“We don’t choose what happens to us in life Uzo. We get dealt random cards but we take them anyway and we play to win, not claim that the cards are unfair and give in. I need you to brace up. This will not be as tough as the other time, I promise.”

Uzo washed his palms over his face.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Pack a small bag. I’ll send you off to Ado-Ekiti until the coast is clear. Your mum says Walrus has a safe house there. You should be fine.”

“Walrus ke? Aren’t those the same guys that tried to kill us 6 months ago? Are you insane??”

Leela sighed.

“Uzo, can you just trust me and stop asking me 21 questions? Please?”

Uzo shook his head.

“Nope. Thanks to you, I already have a great deal of trust issues. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what exactly is going on. And you seem to forget I have another job now. You can’t uproot me from this one like you did the last one. News flash, I actually like this job.”

Leela rubbed both palms together and exhaled into them to calm herself.

“A month ago, a plane crashed on its way from Lagos to Abuja. The man who owns the airline reached out to your mum to say he suspected foul play because 3 of his children had died in the crash. Your mum did not show up until he started getting threatened. And when she did, she recruited me to help investigate the crash and see if there was someone behind it like Chief Ubong was alleging. It turns out someone is actually behind it. A ruthless former warlord. He sent a hitman after us 2 nights ago but we took him down. Your mum is concerned for your safety Uzo, so she asked me to come down here and get you to a safe place while we resolve the matter.”

Uzo was subdued.

“Wow. This is real? Like, this is happening in Nigeria?”

Leela nodded.

“Fam, Nollywood needs to make a movie out of this story.”

Leela smiled.

“Just like you to make a joke out of this.”

“But I’m not making a joke. I’m being honest.”

“Pack a bag Uzo.” Leela waved him off. “Something small, like a week.”

Uzo nodded and walked to his wardrobe. He pulled out a small bag and began loading items into it.

“So are you coming with me to this safe house? And what about my job?”

“I’ll have someone get you an extended sick leave from the office. Hopefully if this is sorted in the short time your mother plans, you’ll be back to work. And no, I am not coming with you. I need to help your mum out. You’ll have no phone or internet for the period you are gone.”

Uzo stopped in his tracks.

“You say?”

“Uzo you know the drill already. And you can’t tell anyone.”

“No way! I’m telling Nathan at least. Can’t have him going crazy with worry.”

“Alright,” Leela acquiesced. “But only Nathan. Because the story your office is getting is you were involved in an accident and have been flown out of the country for treatment.”

Uzo sighed and resumed packing his bags.

***

Chief Ubong woke up from his short nap as the plane taxied along the runway. He was finding it hard absorbing all that had happened over the weekend. After Ijeoma’s call to him on Friday morning, barrister Jide had called him in the evening to say he couldn’t find Ijeoma, just like Ijeoma had predicted he would. Chief Ubong was incensed but he played it cool and said he had not heard from her but he was sure she was out there getting her job done. He added that it was just like Ijeoma to disappear for a few days then return with results and assured barrister Jide that she would turn up sometime soon.

It was Sunday morning and he was just back to Abuja. God help barrister Jide if he showed up at his house because he would likely snuff the life out of him. Fola took his bags as they get off the plane and on the ride to his house, he called Ijeoma.

“I just got back in,” he said, the moment her voice came through the line. “Will you come to me or do I come to you?”

“Where are you?” she queried

“Just leaving the airport.”

“Alright. I’ll text you an address. Meet me there in 30 minutes.”

Chief Ubong said he would and hung up.

He tried to imagine what would have become of him and his business if Ijeoma had not shown up. He would probably have been dead by now. The loss of his children had killed a part of him but the loss of his business and a failure to get retribution would have put him six feet below.

Thankfully, Ijeoma had come through on the negotiation with the families and money had been wired to them on Saturday. His lawyer would be notified on Monday that the suit had been dropped and he was to pretend like he didn’t know anything about what Ijeoma had done. He kept wondering what to do with barrister Jide subsequently because he knew that when this whole thing was over, he would need to do something. No one who betrayed him like that was worthy of any form of mercy.

His phone buzzed with Ijeoma’s text message and he gave the address to the driver. To Fola, he turned and said

“We’ll drop you off when we get into town and you’ll take a cab with my things back home. I have a meeting I must attend urgently.”

Fola nodded. “Yes sir.”

Exactly 30 minutes later, Chief Ubong was being ushered into a lush living room whose length and width stretched out like a ballroom. Ijeoma was already seated there and beside her was the young lady she once introduced to him as her partner. There were flags mounted in different corners of the room and pictures of a man somewhere around his age in military uniform littered the walls. Chief Ubong recognised the face and frowned.

“Exactly why am I standing where I think I’m standing?” he said to Ijeoma.

“Because I have answers both of you seek and he’ll be instrumental to wrapping this whole thing up. Take a seat.”

Chief Ubong did as he was told. Major General Yakubu walked in shortly, dressed really casually.

He nodded to chief Ubong and shook hands with Ijeoma.

“You have something for me?”

Ijeoma nodded and turned to address both of them.

“Yemi checked out the 3 other airlines you sent to me chief. The Bishop is a major shareholder in all three of them and he could not afford to let your airline be rated above any of the others. When the threats he sent to you did not work, he decided to do something drastic by crashing a plane. He got lucky because he found the one flight that happened to have almost all your children on it. He planted a mole at your company. Some obsolescence checks were meant to be carried out for certain parts of that plane but those tests were never completed because this mole saw to it. But what actually crashed your plane chief, was fuel starvation. The fuel valves on that plane were positioned incorrectly. The end result was that the two engines were pulling fuel from a single tank. So this had nothing to do with pilot error. It was human sabotage.”

Chief Ubong and General Yakubu looked at her quietly when she was done speaking. Ijeoma waited for a response and when none came, she continued.

“The Bishop is no longer an illusion. We know he exists, we know he is dangerous and we know he did this. I only have one question for you both. What would you have me do?”

“Bury him” Chief Ubong said quietly.

General Yakubu nodded.

“Make it painful and agonising.”

Ijeoma nodded.

“I’ll need more hands from Walrus.” She said to General Yakubu.

“Done.”

Chief Ubong stood to leave.

“Thank you Ijeoma.”

“Don’t thank me until it’s over chief. Let me deliver on this first.”

“My confidence in you is unwavering.”

He turned to leave and Major General Yakubu followed him out as well and offered an apology. Leela yawned and Ijeoma packed up the files they had come with.

“You haven’t slept in 48 hours. Fix that. Because we have work to do.”

Leela nodded and yawned again and the two of them walked out of the room. It was sunny outside and Ijeoma donned on her aviator sunglasses as they got into the car. This would be her last assignment and something whispered to her in the corner of her mind that she would not end it alive.

Hunter’s Game S02E09

Happy Holidays.

In the spirit of the holidays and more to make up for the silence on here, today, I will be posting two episodes of Hunter’s Game Season 2.

Enjoy.

– Greg

===========================

Previous Episodes

Vlad touched his index finger to Ijeoma’s neck to check for her pulse but suddenly heard a sound that distracted him. He stepped away from the body and moved towards the stairs in the darkness. The sound of pattered feet became heavier as the bearer drew closer to the basement and Vlad crouched by the stairs, out of sight.

The door opened and Leela instinctively turned on the light switch, wondering why the room was in pitch darkness. The first thing she noticed was Ijeoma’s body lying limp on the floor. She screamed in panic and rushed down the stairs. Once she got to the bottom of it, Vlad leapt out of his hiding place and grabbed her. Leela was taken by surprise but panic and dread fuelled her adrenaline and she trashed out violently. Vlad struggled to maintain a tight grip but Leela who was incredibly flexible wriggled and writhed, constantly slipping out of his grip. She jabbed her elbow in his side and shot her right foot back, jamming her spiked running shoes into his shin. Vlad grunted but didn’t release his grip.

Ijeoma suddenly leapt from the floor where she’d been lying, a knife in her hand and she struck Vlad on the neck. Vlad did not see it coming because his back had been turned to her in the scuffle with Leela. He groaned in pain and Ijeoma retrieved the knife, thrusting it in again as blood began to gush out. Vlad relaxed his grip on Leela and grabbed his neck instead as he sank slowly to the floor, spluttering and choking until he passed out.

Leela’s breathing was heavy and her chest hurt.

“Are you okay?” Ijeoma asked. Her voice was subdued and her breathing slightly irregular.

Leela nodded.

“Who the hell was that?”

Ijeoma didn’t respond. She found her phone on the centre table and took pictures of Vlad’s body then composed and sent out an email.

“We’ll find out soon enough. Help me move him.”

They dragged Vlad’s weight across to the room to a corner under the stairs and Leela went back upstairs to get some cleaning agents. By the time she returned, Ijeoma was on the phone, her expression pensive.

“Yes, I suspect so too but I need a confirmation in another 10 minutes. It’s urgent.”

Ijeoma hung up and leaned against the centre table, burying her face in her palm. It was the first time Leela ever saw her ruffled and it heightened her worry.

“Ijeoma, what’s going on? What happened after I left?”

Ijeoma rubbed her eyes and stroked her chin.

“I was asleep. When I woke up, something was off. The entire room was dark and when I tried to stand up, he attacked me and tried to strangle me. He had a good angle to his grip and I realised that struggling would be useless so I pretended to struggle and slowly eased out, trying to buy myself some time and catch him off guard. Then you showed up.”

Leela knelt on the floor, her hands stained in blood and stared at Ijeoma.

“We aren’t safe here anymore.”

Ijeoma shook her head.

“No.”

She suddenly turned around and began to gather up documents and folders. Her phone vibrated on the table and she picked it up.

“Yes?”

Leela observed her keenly and saw her eyes darken.

“Right. Thanks”

She hung up again, shut her eyes and held her breath. When she exhaled, she cussed under her breath.

“Bloody hell.”

Leela stared at her blankly.

“We need to leave. This is about to get extremely messy.”

Leela swallowed. She wiped the floor hurriedly as best as she could while Ijeoma gathered up the rest of the documents and tossed items into the lone gym bag she had. Ijeoma left the room armed with the documents and headed to the car which was parked in the driveway. In two trips, she was done. Next, she placed another call across to Maj. Gen Yakubu.

“I need a favour.”

“Go.”

“I’ll send you an address. There’s a body here. Make it disappear please. Preferably before midnight.”

“Done. Anything else?”

Ijeoma paused briefly as though contemplating her options.

“I-j?”

“Bishop. This is him and I’m going after him.”

“Ijeoma. Bishop is an illusion. How do you go after someone that doesn’t exist?”

Ijeoma sighed.

“Yakubu, he does exist. And I may not have linked all the dots but I swear he is behind the crash and Aisha’s death.”

“What do you need?”

“Space to think at the moment. Just send your boys to clean up this mess first.”

“Done.”

Ijeoma hung up and turned to Leela.

“That man, he’s a Russian mercenary. One of the highest paid hitmen in the business. We got lucky. He never slips up, ever.”

Leela gaped and suddenly began to laugh but her laughter held no mirth and was more fear than amusement.

“Great. Just great.”

“Get your stuff let’s go.”

Leela did as she was told and in 20 minutes, Ijeoma was driving them to Transcorp Hilton. Ijeoma was worried. The Bishop was someone she had heard of while she was with Walrus but just like Yakubu had said, he was more a myth than a real person. No one knew what he looked like but she heard the stories of his personal involvement in war crimes across Africa, from Liberia to Central Africa Republic and even South Sudan. He derived some sick personal pleasure in torture and no one who ever crossed paths with him survived. It made sense that he would be crash an entire plane with over a hundred people and not break a sweat or feel the tiniest bit of remorse. He was cold and deadly. No African government or international court had ever tried to indict him because of course, it was difficult to track someone who didn’t exist. Rumor had it that he had undergone multiple plastic surgeries and had the ability to manipulate his looks at will. She had no idea how she was to begin finding this man but one thing was certain- it was either she found him first and took him down or he would find her and kill her.

***

Nifemi marched purposefully to Uzo’s desk that morning determined to obtain some form of explanation from him but when she got there, Uzo was not in. She milled around for a bit and just as she was about heading off to her cubicle, she saw him approaching. She maintained what she thought was a neutral expression but Uzo saw past it.

“Madam, am I in trouble?”

“Good morning to you too sir.”

Uzo smiled as he set down his laptop bag.

“Good morning ma. Am I in trouble?”

“You’re late.”

Uzo smiled smugly

“Twenty minutes. Big deal. No one is dying.”

“I need to talk to you about something.” Nifemi said with an air of seriousness.

Uzo raised an eyebrow in a frown.

“Hmm. Okay.”

He followed her as she led the way to the office cafeteria and took the seat right across the one she sat in.

“I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to be honest with me.”

“Okay?” Uzo asked with a half-smile and half-frown.

“Early this year, there were rumours about a guy who was dating another person’s fiancée and how the two of them killed the fiancé and fled town…”

Nifemi observed Uzo keenly as she spoke but he didn’t flinch.

“Okay?”

“Did you read about it?”

“I don’t keep up with rumours. But why is that relevant?”

Nifemi suddenly became uncomfortable. She felt silly for the question she was about to ask. Victoria had been so sure, yet here was Uzo looking entirely clueless.”

“Well?” Uzo asked. Nifemi sighed.

“Victoria said you looked like the guy.”

Uzo laughed. “Which guy? The dead guy?”

He led her eyes and slowly, his smile disappeared. Nifemi felt really small.

“No- the, the other guy.”

Uzo studied her face for a few seconds then suddenly pushed his chair back and stood up. Nifemi stood up right after him.

“Uzo, I’m sorry!”

Uzo ignored her and made to walk out of the cafeteria but Nifemi went after him and grabbed him by the arm. They almost bumped into a couple of interns and the girls giggled mischievously as they walked past.

“What?” Uzo asked coldly

“I’m sorry. I don’t even know what I was thinking.”

Uzo maintained a cold stare.

“Oh I know what you were thinking alright. That I am a murderer.”

“Uzo it’s not like that” Nifemi pleaded.

“So how is it like? I haven’t been here for one month and you and your best friend are accusing me of being a murderer?”

His voice was not raised but each word hit Nifemi hard.

“I’m sorry. I just thought to ask.”

“Well thank you for asking. The day someone tells me you look like a murderer, I’ll be sure to return the favour.”

He snatched his arm away from her grasp and walked away without looking back. He did not even return to his desk. He left the office and took the elevator downstairs. Once outside, he exhaled loudly and paced around, trying to steady his breathing. It was the first time anyone had come close to recognising him since the incident. He had grown a full beard, changed his haircut style and even got a fake birth mark on his face to completely disguise his appearance and so far it had worked. So who was this person that was trying to blow his cover?

He also knew that Leela’s organisation had been responsible for wiping the internet so that no one would ever be able to recall the story but he guessed it was true what they said. The internet never forgot. He did not know what to do but he desperately hoped that the little act he had put up in there would deter her from asking further questions or digging further because he was not about to lose this job. He thought some more about Victoria and her claims to never forget faces. Was she legit or was she some part of another agency that was trying to smoke him out? Was this drama really over or was it just about to begin again?

He thought about contacting Leela but discarded the idea almost immediately. Leela had quit the agency. He knew her life was a mess and he was not about to get sucked back in. There was nothing she could do to help him. He could only hope that this would go away as quickly as it had come without any drama. But Nifemi had definitely taken him by surprise. He ran his fingers through his hair and walked back to the office.

***

Ijeoma held the phone to her ear as it rang out one more time before dialling the number again. It was 6am. Why was he still asleep? A grumpy voice, laden with sleep suddenly came through the line.

“Hello?”

“Hi Mr. Benson.”

She heard him sit up in bed and imagined that the sleep would have immediately cleared from his eyes.

“Hi. Hi.”

“I’m calling this early because I need to warn you. Things are about to happen very fast.”

“What?” she heard the fear in his voice but continued nonetheless.

“This morning, you’re going to call your clients and convince them to take a settlement of 2 million naira each.”

“Wait, what?”

“Just shut up and listen.” Ijeoma snapped impatiently.

“You will convince them to take the money because that is all they’re going to get. Your handler will likely contact you before midday today. He is probably going to be very angry. Should he ask about your communication with me in recent time, you must tell him that you haven’t heard from me at all. And the moment that call drops, take your wife and your kids and leave town. The money will be transferred to your clients before the end of the week. But you must convince them today to take it. I don’t care what you have to say to make that happen.”

“But, I can’t just do what you’re asking me to do. That’s just crazy. How am I supposed to just leave town?”

“Do you value your life and those of your family Mr. Benson?”

“Yes?”

“Then do exactly as I have said. There is a storm coming and I assure you, you do not want to get caught up in it.”

Ijeoma hung up the phone and looked out the window. The sun was nowhere in sight but the streets were beautifully lit. She had barely gotten any sleep through the night and had been awake since 4am, thinking and strategizing. She needed to get a team together. She had killed a person she was certain the Bishop had sent to her and she knew he would be pissed. It was only a matter of hours before Bishop realised something was wrong. Thankfully it had bought her some time.

But her mind was still a web of chaos. Somethings were not adding up. Why was the Bishop involved? If he was behind the air crash, what were his motives? Was he working for someone else? Although that would not make sense. The man never worked for anyone. She remembered chief Ubong and decided to call him. He needed to be given a heads up. Chief Ubong picked up on the second ring.

“Ijeoma?”

“Good morning chief.”

“How is it going?”

“Well, that depends. I think I may have found the person behind the crash but it is a lot more complicated than I can explain. I just need to ask a couple of questions first. What other airlines were in play for the title of national carrier?”

“Just 3 other top ones. I’ll text you a list.”

“That would be helpful. Next, apart from you, who else knows where I live?”

“Just Fola. Why?”

“Hmm. Well, something-”

Chief Ubong quickly interrupted.

“Ah, I just remembered. Jide called yesterday evening to ask where you were. He said he needed some information urgently and couldn’t reach you on phone so I told him to try the house.”

Ijeoma cursed silently. It was him. She had been right.

“Chief, are you sitting or standing at the moment?”

“I’m sitting in bed, why?”

“Good. Keep it together. Jide is not your friend. He tried to have me killed last night.”

“I beg your pardon??”

“Keep it together chief. Yemi and I had our suspicions. Yemi had him followed the other day and she’s done some investigations. He has not been working on the case like he told you he was and he has been in contact with whoever hired the other lawyer.”

“Oh my goodness.”

“But I need you to do me a favour chief. You need to act like all is well. I left the house last night and I’m back at the Hilton. If he contacts you about my whereabouts again, just tell him you haven’t heard from me. When do you get back?”

“Hmm. Sunday evening.”

“Alright. Hopefully I have more answers then. Meantime, I raised the settlement offer to 2 million naira per family. Please have your account officer ready to wire the money to the families by close of business today. Again, do not mention this to Jide. Do your best to remain normal and clueless if he calls you. It is important that he does not know he has slipped up.”

“Alright then. Please be safe.”

“I will chief.”

Ijeoma hung up and turned around to find Leela sitting up in bed.

“What’s the plan for today?” Leela asked.

“I need you to do some serious digging and find out everything you can about these three airlines.”

Ijeoma tapped on her phone repeatedly as she spoke.

“I just sent you a text. Dig. Find me anything from their financials to their leadership. I want to know who sits on the boards, who has shares and to what extent. Flag anything you can that strikes you as a similarity between those 3.”

Leela nodded as she reached for her phone.

“Does this Bishop person worry you?” Leela asked.

“He gives me cause for concern. But I will handle it. Just get me the information I have requested. Meantime, are you able to face Uzo again?”

Leela gulped.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because I need you to go to Lagos and check him out. It’ll take Bishop a matter of days to make a connection and go after him. I just need to be sure he is safe for the next couple of weeks. If you can convince him to go underground, that would be great. I don’t want him moving around in daylight. He might well be a walking corpse.”

“Alright.”

A knock sounded on the door and Ijeoma stiffened. She reached for her gun which was tucked in the back of her jeans and moved slowly towards the door as the knock sounded again. Her phone vibrated with a text but she ignored it.

“Who is it?”

“Malik, ma’am.”

Ijeoma seemed to relax and she opened the door, only a crack. Malik stood outside, his expression blank. Kazeem was standing beside him, eyes bloodshot. They must not have gotten any sleep. Ijeoma regarded them suspiciously then opened the door fully for them to come in. only then did she notice the bags that were on the floor beside them. They both carried the bags into the room and placed them in a corner.

“What are you doing here?” Ijeoma asked.

“The General. He sent us.”

Ijeoma smiled. Yakubu was trying to protect her. She picked up her phone and saw the text message he had just sent.

Sending you backup. They should be arriving shortly. Contact if you need anything.

She typed a short reply.

Seen.

She turned to Malik whom she had mentored briefly while still in Walrus and she remembered how they had both been mandated to hunt her down. It almost felt like a betrayal but she knew that as far as the games went, loyalty was something that changed with the tides.

“It’s good to see you Malik. We have a lot of work to do.”

She gestured towards Leela.

“This is Yemi. Yemi, Malik and Kazeem. They are here to help.”

Leela nodded and got out of bed.

“I better get started on my research then. When do you need me in Lagos?”

“Tonight at the latest. Quick trip. If you can return tomorrow, that would be great.”

To Malik and Kazeem, Ijeoma said

“Guys, you can set up over there.” She gestured to a table across the massive suite and the guys followed the direction of her hand. They set down their bags and began to unload technical equipment as well as some guns. They could tell that Leela did not recognise them. And indeed she would not have because all the time they had been hunting Uzo and herself, Leela had actually never seen them.

***

Nifemi ate her lunch in silence. Fola sat across from her watching her pick at her food.

“Stop staring at me that way. It’s creepy.” Nifemi finally spoke up.

Fola cleared his throat in embarrassment.

“I’m sorry.”

Nifemi eventually pushed the plate away. She was not that hungry anyway and her nerves were all over the place. The awkward conversation with Uzo this morning had left her feeling bad. She was usually not the one to judge people based on hearsay but the moment Victoria had convinced her that Uzo was the same person from the tabloids, she had come to him, half-convinced that he was guilty. And Uzo’s shock and hurt at the accusation made her feel bad. Now lunch with Fola was her penance. Fola called this morning to say he would be leaving town earlier than planned and she agreed to let him take her to lunch but this was clearly a bad idea. He had just ordered her food then proceeded to stare at her while she ate.

“So what’s your big explanation?”

Fola cleared his throat again.

“Erm, so towards the end of my program, I met this guy who I became really good friends with. We just clicked and we used to hang out a lot. I didn’t know he dealt drugs and one night he set me up. I got arrested and was on the verge of losing everything. But this German girl I told you was in love with me at the time came to my rescue. Her father had sick money and somehow in a matter of weeks, they were able to make everything go away. The day I got out of jail, she made me sign a contract to never contact you again. That was the basis on which she negotiated my freedom. She blocked you on all my social media and eventually insisted that I went off social media completely. There was nothing I could do. We moved together to Germany after grad and lived there for 4 years till she died in a car accident. I just packed my stuff and came home. But I didn’t know how to contact you or where to start mending things from so I just laid low. Chief Ubong offered me a job as his Executive Assistant and I took it. I’ve been working with him since then.”

Nifemi looked at him, uncertain of his story but she said nothing.

“Babe, please say something.”

“Like what?”

Fola reached across the table and took both her hands in his.

“Nifemi, I am sorry. I know it doesn’t in any way make up for the wrong that I did but I am sincerely sorry. If there was anything I could have done at the time, I would have.”

Nifemi smiled sadly.

“The truth. You could have gotten your family to tell me the truth, not treat me like some leper. You could have left me a message secretly. You could have done 5 million other things, but you didn’t. There was a wealthy German girl who was in love with you and you let yourself get carried away by all her wealth. Don’t come here and try to spin some story to make me feel sorry for you. I don’t.”

She stood up to leave and Fola held her arm and knelt down.

“Femi, please.’

Nifemi’s eyes darted around the restaurant in nervous embarrassment.

“Stop this Fola! Get up!”

“Not until you tell me you forgive me Femi. I can’t. I know I hurt you and its killing me. Please.”

More people were turning to observe them and Nifemi wished the ground would open up and claim her.

“Stand up. Please.”

Fola stood up but still onto her arms.

“Femi, I’m not asking you to take me back. I’m just saying you should let me prove to you how sorry I am. Let me make up for everything. As your friend. Only as your friend. Please.”

Nifemi’s shoulders dropped and she turned away to avoid his eyes.

“Fine. But no more kneeling in public.”

Fola smiled, hugged her then pecked her on the cheeks.

“Thank you love.”

They sat down together for a few more minutes of awkward conversation before Nifemi finally returned to the office. Once back, she played the entire lunch with Fola over and again in her head and tried to convince herself that his story was true but she realised that it made no difference to her. Fola had died to her a long time ago and his sudden reappearance with a sob story was not enough to reignite any significant form of interest. She was emotionally exhausted and just needed a time out.

The rest of the day flew by quickly. Victoria sent her a message to say she was making an impromptu weekend trip to Ibadan. She had no plans for her Friday night and decided she would just go home, make some dinner and curl up with a good book. As everyone packed up around her to leave, she remembered Uzo again and went back to his desk. He had not spoken to her at all during the day and whenever their paths crossed, he always looked away. Uzo had been laughing at something Mosun was saying but the moment he saw her, the laughter disappeared. Mosun hugged him then turned to leave and Nifemi could not understand why she was suddenly jealous.

“Still mad at me?”

Uzo shrugged.

“Nope.”

He slipped his laptop into his bag and gathered up his phone and wallet.

“Uzo, I’m sorry. Please. This- this feels really weird, you not talking to me all day.”

“I’m talking to you now, aren’t I?”

Nifemi smiled.

“Sure.”

She turned around and walked away and Uzo mentally kicked himself. He was acting like an ass. Nifemi was being gracious and his attitude was totally uncalled for.

He went after her and found her packing up her own things.

“Hey.”

Nifemi didn’t look up.

“We can both choose to act like assholes Uzo. It’s nothing new to me.”

Uzo was shocked.

“Wow. The way you go from zero to hundred in seconds will forever amaze me.”

“Sure. Like how you went from zero to hundred this morning when I asked you a simple question?”

Uzo raised both hands in the air.

“Okay, okay, truce. I overreacted. I shouldn’t have dragged my annoyance this long.”

Nifemi smiled.

“Why do I feel like you were trying to punish me for something?”

Uzo shrugged.

“Well, maybe coz you wouldn’t tell me about this mysterious nobody who showed up at the exhibition yesterday.”

Nifemi laughed.

“Amebo.”

“I kuku don’t have work.”

Uzo clasped both hands together like a market woman as he spoke and Nifemi laughed some more.

“Plans for tonight?” she asked as they walked out of the office.

“None. My guy has a movie date with his girlfriend. 3 is a crowd.”

“And you? No girlfriend to take to the movies?”

“Well, the last one I tried to date had me caught up in some murder scandal so I’ve stayed away from those.”

Nifemi caught the twinkle in his eyes and she smacked his arm.

“I’m not going to hear the last of this now am I?”

Uzo shook his head multiple times.

“Nope.”

Nifemi chuckled.

“Let me put you out of your misery tonight then. Let’s go see a movie. My treat.”

Uzo put his hand to his chest in mock surprise

“My goodness. Are you asking me out on a date?”

Nifemi hissed.

“Dream on, dreamer.”

Uzo chuckled.

“Stop forming. Yes, girlfriend, we can go see a movie together.”

He slipped his arm around her waist and Nifemi laughed and slapped it off.

“Mumu. It’s like you want another murder scandal on your head.”

The elevator buzzed open and the two of them got into it, still laughing. The moment the doors shut, Uzo pulled her close to himself and looked into her eyes intently.

“For you, I would not mind another scandal.” Nifemi’s breath caught in her throat and just as suddenly as he had drawn her in, Uzo released her and burst into laughter. Nifemi slapped his arm again.

“You’re so useless.” Uzo grinned and stroked his beard while the elevator made its way down. Nifemi checked out her appearance in the mirror, suddenly self-conscious. She needed to touch on her makeup and put on some perfume as well. Tonight would surely go well.

Hunter’s Game S02E08

This is specially for everyone who has ever said an episode was short. If 5,000 words no do you, I am sorry, I can’t help you again. LOL.

– Oge

***

Previous Episodes

Nifemi’s palms were cold and clammy and Uzo watched her wring and unwring them together in mild agitation. The moment the elevator doors shut before them, he’d turned to her and asked casually with an amused expression who the guy outside was but Nifemi said no one. He knew there was definitely more than she was letting on. This person had thrown her off balance and he could tell she was struggling to maintain her composure.

The ride up was short and soon the doors opened before them again and they walked out into a hallway, all the way down till they met ushers at a doorway who led them into a hall. Uzo noticed how Nifemi’s countenance instantaneously transformed into an amiable one, blowing air kisses around strangers’ faces and laughing like she had not just shared a kiss with a dementor. He determined to mind his business and go on with the business of the day. If she wasn’t willing to share, he wasn’t willing to push. He smiled warmly and shook hands with people she introduced him to and eventually moved on to monitor the interns setting up the company’s roll-up banners and the brochures.

Nifemi listened half-heartedly to one of the top-shot investors in the industry ramble about new start-ups springing up all over the country and soliciting his funds. He wasn’t sure he wanted to take any more chances having lost money to a couple of failed start-ups. She wished he would just shut up. She needed a bathroom break. Her composure was cracking at its seams and she needed to fix it real quick. It was her outfit that had him running his mouth. He was one of the lewd ones and she was in no frame of mind to play nice.

He made to hold her waist casually and Nifemi stepped back. She suddenly checked her watch and feigned surprise.

“Oh wow. I was supposed to meet my boss at the lobby 5 minutes ago. Really sorry sir, I’ll be right back.”

The elderly man smiled, nodded and winked at her. Nifemi held a plastic smile for all the two seconds it took her to turn away from him before she hissed and hurried off to the bathroom. Once in, she locked herself in a stall and leaned on the door. What in the world had just happened? Where had Fola appeared from? This had to be a dream. She pinched her arm and winced instinctively. No, it was no dream. Fola was actually here. At the Oriental hotel. They had just bumped into each other. She laughed. Of all the scenarios she had pictured in her head, it had to be the most cliché one that would come true. And nothing, no amount of anticipation or mental simulations could have prepared her for it.

She buried her face in her palms and exhaled loudly. She felt drained. All the energy she had saved up for this event was gone. She just wanted to go home and curl up in a ball and cry? Did she really want to cry? She wasn’t even sure what or how she felt. After 6 years. She reached into the pocket of her blazer and retrieved her phone to dial Victoria. Victoria picked up on the second ring.

“You’re calling me in the middle of your Exhibition? What’s the emergency? Did Uzo propose to you in front of the guests? Are you dying? Did Mr. Toba have a stroke and die??”

Nifemi listened to Victoria’s rushed words and suddenly found herself laughing with tears gently streaming down her face. Victoria was a perfect friend for her. She laughed while the tears flowed silently but couldn’t speak. Victoria immediately sensed something was wrong.

“Femi, what’s wrong?” she asked softly.

Nifemi couldn’t speak. She just broke into soft sobs.

“Boo, talk to me. What is it? Where are you?”

Nifemi sniffed and took a deep breath.

“Fola is here.”

She felt Victoria freeze on the other end of the line.

“Which Fola? How??”

Nifemi rolled some toilet paper off the hold and blew into it.

“The same Fola. He’s here at the Oriental. We bumped into each other at the elevator.”

“You have got to be kidding!”

Nifemi sniffed and tossed the used toilet paper down the toilet bowl then flushed.

“You think I would raise that bastard’s name to make a joke? Ha. He’s here.”

Victoria was quiet. Nifemi rolled off more tissue and walked out of the stall. She stood before the mirror and shook her head. She had smudged her makeup.

“Are you okay hon?”

Nifemi nodded as she dabbed her face with some tissue, trying to fix the damage.

“I think so. I just want to disappear from here first. Like, I need to process. I was with Uzo when we saw him sef. I just pretended like he was no one. Uzo asked and I said it was nobody.”

“But of course. Were you supposed to pour your life’s story there?”

Nifemi chuckled.

“Were you crying?”

Nifemi sighed.

“Just small o. I think I was just overwhelmed. And then the things you said when you called.” She laughed again and Victoria laughed alongside.

“Ehen nau. You that once you go for these meetings or presentations, you will throway cell phone like Allen babes off paynt-”

Nifemi doubled over in laughter. Victoria was so silly.

“I kuku thought someone had to be dead or dying for you to be calling me at this time. Apparently someone was back from the dead.”

Nifemi laughed a little more and soon regained her composure.

“You will kill me one day this woman. How do you know how Allen babes off pant? How did you even say that thing sef?”

Paynt, pah-yint.” Victoria emphasized.

Nifemi chuckled and massaged her head with her free hand.

“I am tired of you o.”

“I’m sorry boo,” Victoria said, her voice suddenly taking on a serious note.

“Just try to get through the day and put this behind you. When you come home, we can rant and cuss all we want. But for now, don’t let that waste of a human being ruin all the hard you have put together. Go out there and make the best darn presentation of your life. Network, build contacts, just do your job, okay?”

Nifemi stood before the mirror, phone to her ear and she smiled.

“Thanks babes.”

“You’re welcome. Where are you?”

“The bathroom. Standing in front of a mirror and mulling over ruining your makeup.”

Victoria laughed.

“It’s nothing boo. You’re in front of a mirror. Speak to that woman staring back at you. What do we always say to her?”

Nifemi smiled and her eyes softened. She cleared her throat and spoke firmly.

“You are one hell of a woman Nifemi. The world is at your feet. You are royalty. All you do is win.”

She smiled and wiped a smudge off her cheek. The look was not too bad. She could try to fix it up a little more once she got off the phone.

“Exactly. Go out there and win baby. Call me when the exhibition is done.”

Nifemi nodded.

“Thanks Vicky. Love you.”

“Love you too bud.”

Nifemi hung up, stared at her reflection in the mirror some more then took a deep breath. She dialled one of the interns on her phone and requested the girl to bring her bag to her in the restroom. She would brush up her makeup and return to the exhibition. No way Fola was going to throw her off. He would not win this time.

***

Otto walked out of the tattoo parlour feeling really exhausted. Her entire body hurt. She had started off the day getting her nose, ears and bellybutton pierced and now the tattoos. She didn’t mind the physical pain much. It was a convenient distraction from the anguish in her heart plus it made her feel better in a way. She had planned to walk back to the hotel but with the amount of protests her body was putting up, she knew she would pass out before she was halfway there if she attempted it.

She decided to call a taxi instead. A quick google search found her dialling the number of a taxi company in no time. She gave her name and specified her exact location then waited for the driver to show up. Aberdeen was such a random city. She had travelled a lot with her siblings but for some reason they had never come up to Scotland. Twice they had made plans but failed. The night of their funeral when she made the decision to go off grid, she decided she would visit cities they had planned to visit together but had been unable to conquer. She would do it for them.

The taxi showed up almost immediately and Otto got in, giving the address of her hotel as she reclined her back in the seat. Of the 3 tattoos she had gotten, the one on her chest with the initials of her siblings was her favourite. It was heart shaped, with red ink and hints of yellow on the side. The initials “A.E.I” were inscribed in black ink at the centre of it. On her left arm, was a dragon spitting fire, at the end of which was written ‘survivor.’ On her right wrist,
“πάντα”was inked boldly in black, the Greek word for “Forever.” She was really light skinned so all her tattoos were easily visible but she spared no thought for what anyone would think or say.

The guy at the tattoo parlour had been kind and interesting. He asked so many questions and listened attentively when she spoke about wanting the tattoos and what her reasons were. He helped her decide which ones to get and explained to her that they all symbolized strength and an eternal connection to her siblings. Even though they had passed, they would live on forever in her heart and their passing would not break her as she would remain a survivor. She was grateful for all his words and once at the hotel, she popped in some sleeping pills she had brought with her from Nigeria, turned out the lights, drew her curtains and fell asleep. She still had plans to go around the city but that would only be when she woke up.

***

“Who is this woman?”

“A ghost pretty much. No one seems to know who she is or where she came from.”

The older man who had asked the question regarded his much younger companion with a grimace. Everyone called him the Bishop. Not because he had any affiliations with any religious body but because he had a silver chain with a cross permanently hanging around his neck.

“I’ll tell you what she is. An inconvenience. And you know how much I hate those.”

He struck the golf ball with his stick and watched it careen through the air to the other side of the field.

“I’ll get one of my boys to sort it out sir.” The younger man said somewhat nervously.

“No. If you could, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Get me my phone. I need someone who hunts ghosts for a living.”

The younger man did as he was told and watched as the Bishop placed a call across.

“Vlad, I’ve got a small matter I need you to take care of. I need a head and I need it in 48 hours.”

A voice heavy with a Russian accent grunted back at him.

“Your golf cart look nice. I take a ride in it and you tell me about this head.”

The Bishop smiled. Vlad had an unusual sense of humour. He hung up and waited. In 5 minutes, a tall Caucasian man sauntered down the field in his direction. He looked up at the man with a bald head whose casual ensemble of shorts and a flowery shirt failed to diminish his intimidating figure. He looked like a tourist missing from a movie set. Vlad smiled at the Bishop, revealing 4 missing teeth in the front row of his dentition.

“I tell you all the time to not smile.” The Bishop said, a bemused expression on his face.

Vlad grinned even wider.

“So much sunshine my friend. I have to smile.”

They shook hands.

“Somewhere in this city, a woman is complicating business for me. I’ll have pictures and an address sent to you in 2 hours. Can you make this clean and quick? She won’t be missed.”

“Done.

“And how is it that you’re conveniently here when I need you?” the Bishop asked leaning on his golf club.

“You’re the Bishop, I am Jesus. Lo, I am with you always.”

Vlad patted him on the back, took the golf club from him, picked up a ball from the set in a bag lying by the corner and set it down. He angled himself appropriately then struck the ball. It didn’t go too far. The Bishop chuckled.

“Don’t play golf when you retire otherwise your retirement will suck.”

He patted Vlad on the back and walked away, making yet another phone call.

“Email me the house address and at least 2 clear photographs in 30 mins, or my dogs will have your tongue for dinner.”

Vlad watched the retreating figure of the Bishop and cracked his knuckles. He was a trained Russian mercenary, now a freelancer. He went wherever the money was good and his skills were yet to be matched. He had never missed a target, had killed more people than communities were made of and for some reason had never been caught. He was called the ghost hunter because he specialised in seeking people who did not want to be found and then he made them disappear permanently at the request of whoever was crediting his account. The Bishop was someone he had worked well with in the past. He admired him and was loyal to him. Last night, he got word that the Bishop would likely be needing him for an assignment and he only needed to follow him discreetly for 12 hours before the phone call came across. If he got the information in time, he would complete the assignment tonight and go back to his country tomorrow. Nigeria was getting too hot for him. It didn’t matter how many times he visited, he could never adjust to the weather.

***

Leela hurried down the stairs into the basement breathing heavily.

“You were right! Barrister Jide is actually the biggest scum of the earth. He has been dragging the case and he has no intentions of winning it. He is not on Chief Ubong’s side.”

Ijeoma looked up from the laptop screen she had been staring at nonstop the last 6 hours. She was comparing reports she had gotten from Chief Ubong’s staff to the evidence she had seized from barrister Benson and a lot of things did not add up. It was obvious there was a snitch somewhere and someone had been altering evidence. The question was who?

“What do you have?”

“Remember how you told me he said the AIB were still investigating and he had nothing? Well, preliminary reports had been sent to him to help with the trial but he discarded them.”

Ijeoma rubbed her eyes.

“It doesn’t mean anything. He could have regarded them as inadmissible. Maybe he had his reasons.”

“How do you regard important documents which can help your client’s case as inadmissible?”

“It’s possible the other party can argue that whatever results held so far can be deemed inconclusive till the final results are out. Leave it alone Yemi. It could be anything.”

Leela frowned and Ijeoma shrugged.

“We both dislike and mistrust him. But I need something more than my guts to convince chief Ubong that his trusted friend is screwing him over.”

“Does the name “Bishop” ring a bell?”

Ijeoma’s eyes darkened.

“Why?”

“I was at the golf club today. Went there on a hunch and I flirted with some of the staff. Barrister Jide has been there a number of times to meet with someone called the Bishop. Two days ago when you snatched that folder, Barrister Jide had met with that same Bishop and had given the folder to someone at the bar to give to Benson when he showed up.”

Ijeoma licked her lips swallowed. Her eyes looked tired and she suddenly buried them in her palms and massaged them. Leela watched her in silence.

“Say something.”

“I need to sleep, then go for a run and clear my head.”

Her tone troubled Leela.

“Who is this Bishop? Is he of any relevance?”

Ijeoma shrugged.

“He makes the devil seem like Jesus.”

Leela sighed.

“I always get the worst of the lot whenever I work with you, don’t I?”

“Good is boring. You should know that by now. I’m going to nap.”

Ijeoma walked to the bed and set her alarm for 8pm, 2 hours later.

“So when are you going to tell chief Ubong?” Leela queried.

“As soon as he gets back from Lagos in a few days. I’d rather tell him to his face. But you do some more digging and see if you can find any other concrete evidence. Is there a money trail anywhere? Find it. I need something on paper.”

Leela nodded and turned to leave the room. “I’m going to find food. I’m starving.”

As she retreated, Ijeoma called out.

“Hey, did you get all the data on the families?”

“Yep! I dropped the folder earlier today but you weren’t home.”

Ijeoma nodded, turned on her side, shut her eyes and promptly fell asleep.

***

Fola sat on the bed in his hotel room, his expression pensive. He’d always known that this day would come, yet it had taken him completely by surprise. Nifemi looked so very different from the last time he had seen her. He almost did not recognise her. The curves seemed to have emerged from nowhere and her face was more beautiful than he remembered. He needed to speak with her. He knew there was no explanation that would justify what he had done but he was willing to try anyway.

Bumping into her had all but ruined his entire morning. He had been distracted at the meeting he had with chief Ubong and the insurance officers and the moment it was over, he had hastily made his way back to the room and taken a cold shower. Now he was here on the bed, thinking of the one major mistake he had made that had changed the course of his life.

His phone buzzed and he looked at the screen. It was chief Ubong.

“Yes sir?”

“A couple of friends are at an exhibition that is just wrapping up in one of the halls here. Join me please so can have a talk with them. I need as much money and support as I can get right now.”

“Alright sir.”

“10 minutes. Be outside my door in 10 minutes.”

Fola reiterated that he would and waited for chief Ubong to hang up. He picked a shirt different from the one he’d had on earlier and decided he didn’t need a tie. He just threw on his jacket, put on his shoes and walked out. Exactly 10 minutes later, chief Ubong walked out of his own room and they made their way to the exhibition hall together.

He saw her again before she saw him and he stiffened up. She was standing beside the guy she had been with earlier on and she had that intense look on her face that indicated she was concentrating deeply on whatever it was that he was saying. Chief Ubong turned to him

“Is everything alright Fola? You have been incredibly distracted all day.”

Fola blinked and shook his head.

“Sorry sir. Everything is fine.”

“Then be here 100% please.”

Fola nodded and chief Ubong walked up to a man in his sixties. It was the same man Nifemi had been speaking to earlier.

“Eddy, how you dey na?”

The man turned to chief Ubong and a sad expression overcame him.

“Ah, my brother…”

He hugged chief Ubong warmly and chief Ubong smiled.

“I’m so sorry for your loss. I would flown down but I didn’t know how to face you.”

“It’s okay. I haven’t even been entertaining guests. Between the funeral and the trial, there’s not much time left for anything else.”

“Ah. True. I heard about that. Jide is representing you right?”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“You’re in good hands then.”

“Oh, very good hands as a matter of fact. He has been really helpful. But I could do with a little more help you know.”

Eddy’s eyes were encouraging.

“Anything.”

“I need 10 million naira. My insurance officers are being difficult. I cannot get any claims till the investigation is over and even at that, you know those guys. They’ll find a way to get out of it. It’s a lot of money at stake.”

“Hmmn. I just threw in a lot of money into one of my companies that is launching a product soon. You know how I like to plant money all over. But I’ll see what I can do. It might not be the entire sum. But I’ll find you something.”

Chief Ubong nodded and they shook hands.

Eddy turned his head and spotted Nifemi as she made to exit the room with Uzo.

“Er, Nife!” He called out. To chief Ubong, he said, “I want you to meet one of my people. Very beautiful girl.”

Nifemi turned and saw him. She swore under her breath but smiled brightly. Uzo made to walk away but she held him firmly.

“Come and save me abeg.” She said between her teeth.

The two of them walked over to Eddy and chief Ubong and that was when Nifemi spotted Fola standing behind chief Ubong. Her smile faltered briefly but she managed to keep it together.

“Nife, this is chief Ubong, my good friend.” Nifemi thought his name and face were slightly familiar but she wasn’t sure why.

“Good day sir.” She nodded respectfully and chief Ubong smiled.

“Nifemi is the face of Brimmings Solutions. They are the ones launching the product I was just telling you about. An absolutely brilliant lady, you should see how she rallies all our clients. I have never met a more efficient PR person all my life.”

Nifemi smiled generously and Chief Ubong nodded again. She noticed Fola standing awkwardly behind him but she avoided his gaze.

“Thank you sir. And may I introduce Uzo? He is new on the PR team and also does our graphic designs. He designed the logo we used here today.”

She nudged Uzo forward and Uzo shook hands with both men. He held on a little too long to chief Ubong’s hand, an uneasy expression on his face and chief Ubong smiled.

“I take it you know me.”

Uzo nodded.

“I do sir. My condolences.”

“Thank you.”

Nifemi looked lost still but she said nothing.

“Let’s get you something to drink” Eddy said to chief Ubong. And the two of them walked away, leaving Fola, Uzo and Nifemi standing awkwardly around each other.

“Ifemi, can we talk? Please?”

Uzo looked at Nifemi and she nodded then he stepped back.

“What?”

“First, I’m sorry. I know how empty that sounds but I really want us to talk so I can explain myself.” Fola said urgently.

Nifemi shook her head.

“We have nothing to talk about.”

Fola reached out to hold her arm but she stepped back.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Ifemi please-”

“And don’t call me that either. Just don’t.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to maintain a normal expression.

“Don’t you want to even know what happened? I loved you Femi. You were everything to me. You were at the very core of my existence. We had something absolutely magical. I know I ruined it but aren’t you even curious as to what happened?”

Nifemi bit her lower lip and said nothing.

“One hour. That’s all I’m asking for. We have a conversation for an hour and then you can decide whether or not you still want to talk to me. But please, don’t spend the rest of your life wondering. I know you want answers and I want to do right by you. I owe you that much. Please.”

Nifemi’s shoulders fell and Fola knew he had gotten through to her.

“Please. I’ll take your number and you’ll give me a time and location. I’m only in town till Saturday.”

Nifemi silently reached into her handbag and produced a complementary card which she had to him.

“Thank you, thank you, so much. Thank you.”

Nifemi turned and walked back to Uzo.

“Let’s go.”

Uzo tried to hold her arm as they walked out of the room but she shrugged him off. They walked on in silence till they got to his car. Her feet were killing her and all she could think of was getting home and soaking in her tub. It had been a long day.

“Can you take me home please?”

“Where is home?”

“Ogunlana Drive. Surulere.”

“Interesting. You live close to me. No wahala. What about your car?”

“I’ll pick it up in the morning.”

She got into the car after he did and asked suddenly.

“Who was that Chief Ubong man?”

“Oh. You don’t know him? He’s the owner of Miranda airlines. The plane that crashed last month.”

“Oh.” Nifemi said in a small voice, “I had no idea”.

Uzo made no further comments. He simply kicked the car and drove off. There was something in her posture, the way she reclined in the car seat and shielded her eyes with her hand that created a déjà vu moment for him. He tried to recall if they had ever been this way together before and he suddenly realised she reminded him of Leela. He had not spared her a thought in a long time.

He wanted to ask her if she was alright but he kept his mouth shut. Her phone rang and he listened to her tell someone she was on her way home and also mention that Uzo was bringing her. When she hung up, he finally gave in to his curiosity and asked.

“Are you okay? Do you want to talk?”

She had returned to her default position and she simply shook her head. Uzo nodded and concentrated on the traffic before them.

An hour later, he was parked in front of her house. There was a young lady standing in front of the gate. Nifemi alighted from the car without a word to him and he came down as well. She walked to his side and said,

“Thank you Uzo. It’s been a long day. Go get some rest, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. You too.”

As he made to get back into the car, the lady who had been standing in front of the door walked up to them and Nifemi smiled tiredly.

“Uzo, this is Victoria, my best friend. Vic, this is Uzo, the new guy at the office.”

Victoria looked at him oddly as they shook hands.

“Don’t I know you?”

Uzo shook his head, smiling uncertainly.

“Naah, I doubt it.”

Victoria shook hers as well.

“No. I’m good with faces and I never forget a face. I must have seen you somewhere before.”

Uzo smiled.

“Or you must have seen my doppelgänger. I seem to have a few of those around.”

Victoria smiled placidly, unconvinced.

“Nice to meet you anyways. Thank you for bringing her back.”

Uzo nodded, got into his car and drove off.

“What was that about?” Nifemi asked.

“Nothing. I’m just certain I have seen him somewhere, and my spirit is giving me an uneasy vibe.”

“Hian. Edakun, keep your uneasy vibes o. I’ve had too much drama for one day and I am tired.”

“I’m sorry darling. Come here.”

Victoria pulled her into a tight hug.

“I got you some milkshake and loads of cookies. Come and tell me about Fola rising from the dead.”

Nifemi yielded into the hug and eventually they walked into the house together. She kicked off her shoes and sat in her favourite comfort chair as she spilled all the details of her meeting with Fola to Victoria. Victoria was intrigued

“So are you actually going to meet up with him?”

“I don’t know yet. I guess so. I’m actually just curious.”

“Sha be careful. I don’t trust him one bit.”

Nifemi laughed. “You don’t trust anyone. See how you were harassing Uzo as if-”

“Hold on a second!”

Victoria leapt out of the couch she’d been sitting in, startling Nifemi. She reached for her laptop that was lying on the floor and hurriedly opened up a google page. She typed in a few words and hit the search button.

“What is it?” Nifemi asked, rushing to her side.

“I think I know where I know him from. Just hold on.”

Victoria tried another combination of words in the search engine and groaned in frustration.

“I swear it’s him.”

“What are you talking about?” Nifemi asked, a little scared.

Victoria sighed.

“Remember one story that went viral on all the major blogs some months ago?”

“What story?”

“About a love triangle between a model and two other guys and how the model and the guy she really loved killed the other guy? The guy lived in Lekki. Remember nau.”

Nifemi’s brows gathered in a frown.

“Yes?”

“I think your Uzo is that guy. I don’t know why I can’t find the full story anywhere any more. Not even pictures. But I’m almost completely certain that Uzo is that guy. He looks different now with beards and stuff but you know me Femi. I never forget a face.”

The blood drained from Nifemi’s face and she sat there staring at Victoria whose expression was worried.

“I’m sorry boo, but he’s got to be the one.”

***

Ijeoma woke up with a start. Something was off. She sat up in bed and tried to recollect her immediate memories and the fact that she had to do that startled her. She remembered the conversation with Leela and she remembered setting her alarm to wake her up in 2 hours. But her instincts told her 2 hours weren’t up yet. The room was pitch black. They never turned off all the lights. At best, the study lamp on the centre table was always on.

She groped around the bed for her phone and couldn’t find it then she suddenly sat completely still and listened. She adjusted her eyes to the darkness in the room, trying to make out objects and figures but nothing was visible. As slowly and as quietly as she could, she stood up from the bed and tried to walk to the stairs which were just by the light switch but strong arms suddenly grabbed her and circled around her throat. Ijeoma kicked, shoved and spluttered as she tried to free herself from her captor’s grip but it was pointless. She had been taken by surprise and the more she thrashed about, the tighter the grip around her throat became. Her eyes began to tear up and she slowly felt the life begin to drain out of her. Her struggles reduced to the barest minimum and the moment she stopped thrashing, Vlad laid her body down on the floor

Hunter’s Game S02E07

Previous episodes

“It’s not bad. Just needs a bit of a tweak. The highlights on the edges don’t look good. Take them out. It makes the design look a little more bogus rather than solid.”

Uzo looked at Nifemi in silence.

“What? You wanted my opinion didn’t you? Abi you thought I would wash you and say it was pure gold?”

Nifemi looked from Uzo to the design on his laptop screen and back to Uzo again. Uzo looked on and gradually, his face loosened up into a smile he struggled to conceal.

“What’s doing you now?”

He snorted, once, twice, then burst into full blown laughter. Nifemi looked around self-consciously. Uzo flicked his fingers over the trackpad on his laptop and soon an image filled the screen. Nifemi gasped.

“Damn!”

Uzo maintained a smug look on his face.

“You were saying?”

Nifemi smacked his arm

“You’re so useless I swear! I was legit seconds away from going to HR and asking them to review your appointment. But this-”

She waved her hand over the screen as she spoke.

“This is priceless. I see why they hired you now.”

Uzo grinned and tipped his head.

“Gracias. I wanted you to be blown away, so I thought I’d lower your expectations a little bit first. That design was from six years ago when I first started designing.”

Nifemi nodded, impressed.

“Amazing. We’re all set for the launch then. Have you run this by Toba yet?”

“Does he know you call him by his first name?”

“Do you really think I care?”

“Feisty!”

Nifemi shook her head.

“It’s a great design. I’ll be glad when this is over. Run it by Toba, if he okays it then we’re all set for the private exhibition in two days before the actual launch in 2 weeks.”

Uzo shrugged. Nifemi walked away and again, Uzo caught himself staring. It didn’t matter how hard he tried, he could not get Nifemi out of his head. She had proven herself a good friend and was great company to be in. She was funny and extremely hardworking, drove herself harder than anyone else at their level and it was impressive. He could tell she poured both heart and soul into her job from the way she dealt with clients, partners and investors. She was a walking wonder.

“Uzo, your final design is due in an hour. I hope you don’t keep me waiting.”
Uzo turned around to see the devil himself, Mr. Toba.

“It’s actually ready sir.”

“Then why isn’t it in my mail?”

Mr. Toba walked on by to his office and Uzo turned his attention back to his laptop and sent him the email. He knew the design was flawless but he expected Mr. Toba to have a complaint or two. The man was too full of himself and never accepted that anyone’s first attempt at any task was good enough. He would always send it back on some flimsy excuse even where the job was the epitome of perfection. Nifemi had given him the heads up and he had experienced the man’s annoying nature first hand in his first week on the job. He was impossible to please.

As he stood up from his desk to go have lunch, an email popped in and he hovered the mouse over it reluctantly. It was from Mr. Toba. When he opened the mail, he was shocked. Mr. Toba liked the design and had given the go ahead for it to be used at the exhibition.

“Well would you check that out?”

He whistled happily and walked off to Nifemi’s desk.

“Do you believe in miracles?”

Nifemi looked at him curiously.

“Sometimes. Why?”

“Mr. Toba liked it. Said it’s good to go.”

Nifemi grinned.

“Congrats. I’ll have Mosun double check our reservation for the exhibition.”

“Oriental hotel abi? What time again?”

Nifemi typed on her laptop without looking up.

“Oriental hotel. 11am. I hope you have an actual suit.”

Uzo caught the tease and smiled.

“Only if you have a piping hot dress.”

“Careful what you wish for mister.”

She still didn’t look up and Uzo grinned.

“I do hope my wishes come true.”

He double tapped his fingers on her desk and walked out.

***

“Do you want to explain what exactly happened Barrister Benson? Because right now you aren’t making any sense.”

Benson shifted his weight from one foot to the other and kept his head down. He realised how ridiculous his story sounded. Some woman accosted him, smashed his glass and stole the piece of evidence he had been handed. Yeah. Definitely ridiculous.

“Actually, she had a gun. That’s why I was trying to be careful.”

“A gun?”

Benson licked his lips and nodded.

“What did she look like?”

“Somewhat tall, 5’4 maybe. Dark skinned, well built, low-cut hair.”

The man who stood a few feet away shook his head. Benson could tell this was not the man he had been talking to on the phone but this person had obviously come from him.

“And she didn’t say her name.”

“No she didn’t”

“If she shows up again or contacts you. Let the boss know.”

The man walked away and barrister Benson adjusted his shirt collar and walked away. If this woman thought she could shake him easily, she was in for a shock. His mechanic had taken the car last night and he expected to have it back tonight. He flagged a taxi down and gave the address to his house. It was almost 6pm and he was hungry. He shut his eyes and decided to take a nap all the way to the house, trusting that he would meet a decent meal at home. His wife always came through.

Thirty minutes later, the cab pulled up in front of the house and Benson got out. He ran the short steps up to his door and pushed the bell. His wife came to open it and peered curiously behind him, as though expecting someone else.

“What’s up mama?”

“Where’s Jerry?”

Benson rolled tired eyes.

“Really? Is this a joke? I’m tired mama. Let me in.”

His wife raised eyebrows in a frown.

“Who is joking with you? Where’s my son?”

Benson furrowed his brows and stared intently at his wife as his brain tried to process what she was attempting, yet failing to communicate.

“What do you mean?”

“You sent a text saying you would get him from school and your number hasn’t been reachable all day.”

“Me? Text? What text?”

Benson’s wife grabbed him by the collar, eyes sticking out, veins popping.

“Stop this useless joke Benson! Where is my son??!”

She continued shaking him and yelling as Benson tried to calm her down and suddenly he snapped.

“Shut up!!”

He pushed his way past her into the living room and retrieved his cell phone from his pocket. He scrolled through his text messages but there was nothing there to his wife.

“Bring your phone!” He barked. She handed the phone over to him all the while yelling dramatically and placing both hands above her head. Barrister Benson hissed and tried to think. What the hell was going on? Sure enough, on his wife’s phone, there was a text message from him telling her he would pick up their son but he had definitely not sent it.

His mind immediately went to the lady from the previous day and he instantly went into panic mode. Who the hell was she?

As he scrolled through his call log to find his handler’s number, his phone rang and the contact read “Unknown”

“Hello?”

“Hi Mr. Benson…”

He recognised the voice but he was not going to assume.

“Who is this?”

He heard a short laugh over the phone and the voice came on again.

“Nightmares need no introduction Mr. Benson. How’s your evening going? Having fun with the family?”

Benson was seething

“Where is my son?! I swear if you hurt him-”

“If I hurt him nothing would happen and life will go on. So shut your dirt hole and listen up.”

Benson gritted his teeth and kept quiet.

“I asked you before and I’ll ask you again. Who do you work for? And don’t give me that bullshit talk of your clients otherwise I’ll chop off one finger from your son’s hands till you’re ready to talk.”

Her voice, more than her words chilled Benson to his spine and he broke into a sweat. His wife was stared at him in nervous anticipation, breathing heavily and whimpering.

“I- I don’t know. I swear, I really don’t.”

The line was silent for a few seconds and Benson suddenly heard an earth shattering scream that almost deafened him. It was his 8 year old son crying out.

“Stop! Stop!” he yelled. His cry was frantic and his wife went into a panic, tugging his shirt and crying out,

“What? What are they saying? What?”

Benson yanked her hand off his shirt and rushed off to the guest bedroom and locked himself in.

“Don’t hurt him, please. I’m begging you. He’s only a kid. I’ll tell you anything. Please.”

“I’m not a very patient person Mr. Benson. So it’s best you don’t test my resolve. So let’s try this again. Who do you work for? Start talking.”

Benson spilled everything he knew about the case, the man who had hired him- he didn’t know his name, the phone conversations they’d had, documents that were mysteriously sent to him, evidence that were falsified. When he was done, Ijeoma replied.

“Your son will be back to you tonight. Next time your boss calls, tell him to back off. Tell him I said I am the last person he wants to lock horns with.”

Benson heard a click and the line went off. He moved slowly to the bed and sank into it. What kind of trouble was this?

***

“The lawsuit isn’t random. Whoever caused the crash is behind this as well. They really have it bad for you.”

Chief Ubong looked over the rim of his scotch glass and into Ijeoma’s face.

“I see.”

“You know I’ve got this right?”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“I’m going to Lagos tomorrow morning. Is there anything you need?”

“How much can you afford to part with right now?”

Chief Ubong turned questioning eyes to Ijeoma again.

“Meaning?”

“You’ll have to give those families something eventually. No matter how little. How much? You name a price and I’ll make sure they take it.”

Chief Ubong shook his head.

“Have you ever heard of something called the floodgate argument? If I pay these ones off, the rest of the world will come to make claims.”

Ijeoma shook her head.

“Non-disclosure agreements. They’ll have to sign those. If they ever talk to anyone about it, then they lose the money and you can sue them for a breach of contract.”

“How many families are there?”

“10.”

“10 million. One million naira each.”

Ijeoma shrugged.

“I can work with that.”

Chief Ubong sipped from his glass then set it down.

“Alright. Get in touch with barrister Jide so you can both handle the negotiations together.”

Ijeoma looked him over.

“Is that a joke?”

“He’s my lawyer and a good friend. I can’t have him kept in the dark.”

“I choose whom I work with chief. You know this. Just tell him not to worry, it’s being taken care of. If he was such a good lawyer, you wouldn’t have needed to ask me to make this go away.”

Chief Ubong picked his glass from the table and stared at the golden brown liquid in it. He swirled the content around slowly without saying a word then took another sip from his glass and continued swirling it.

“Fine.”

“Yemi and I will get in touch with the families and ensure they take the offer. I should have this sorted in a week then I’ll go back to piecing together the puzzle.”

Chief Ubong nodded.

“I’m going to Lagos tomorrow with Fola. If you need anything, just call.”

Ijeoma nodded and stood up to leave. As she walked out, she dialled a number on her phone and Leela picked up.

“Get a list of the families involved in the suit, contact address and personal information. I want to know what each individual representing each family does for a living. I need that information in 24 hours.”

“Sure thing. I’m on it.” Leela responded.

***

The elevator dinged and opened on Uzo’s floor. He caught one last glimpse of himself in the mirrors and was satisfied with what he saw. He had on a maroon blazer, a white shirt and blue trousers. He also had an ash lapel flower pin as well as an ash pocket square on the blazer. He walked past Mosun, the front desk lady and she gaped at him in amazement.

“Wow. You look great Uzo!”

Uzo laughed, said thank you and waved as he made his way to his desk. He walked past Nifemi’s cubicle but she wasn’t there so he set his bag down at his desk, took out his laptop and proceeded to set it up.

He worked steadily for an hour, looking up and checking out Nifemi’s desk every few minutes but she was not there. It was quite unlike her to be late to work, especially considering that they were meant to be heading out to Oriental hotel in a few minutes. He took out his phone and called her.

“Madam, where you at?”

“Printing room. The interns are packaging the brochures for the exhibition. I’m supervising them.”

Uzo chuckled.

“Na wa for you o. What could possibly go wrong with that process?”

“Ask the grand president of micromanagement.”

Uzo chuckled. Of course, Mr. Toba must have asked her to oversee it.

“Alright then. You want me to come join you? We actually need to start heading out otherwise we’ll be late.”

“Naah, we’re done here. I’ll be out in a jiffy. Just gather your stuff and meet me downstairs at the car park.”

“Okay. We going in my car?”

“Yes please. One of the drivers will bring the interns with the brochures. I’ll be down in 10 minutes”

Uzo hung up, packed up his laptop and headed downstairs.  He didn’t even wait up to 10 minutes before Nifemi showed up and when she did, Uzo’s jaw dropped. Nifemi had definitely undergone some transformation between last night when she left the office and this morning. Her hair had been done, the weave falling graciously over her shoulders, nails shining a deep blue shade and makeup that held the signature of a professional artist. She wore a sleeveless black jumpsuit that hugged her curves perfectly. A maroon blazer hung on her arm as she strutted towards him in blue court shoes, and a blue bag in her hand.

Nifemi looked at him oddly when she walked up to him.

“Close your mouth before all the flies in Lagos make it their head office.”

Uzo shut his mouth and laughed nervously

“You’re gorgeous.”

Nifemi grinned

“So are you. I mean, you clean up pretty nice. I had no idea you could match colours like this. And we’re wearing the same blazer. Interesting”

“Tell the truth, you peeped into my window this morning to see what I’d be wearing then you copied it.”

Nifemi laughed.

“You think I’d look up to you for my fashion choices? You flatter yourself too much.”

She opened the back door and deposited the items in her hand then shut the door and turned to catch Uzo still staring.

“Oga, can we go?”

Uzo nodded and got into the driver’s seat same time as she got into the front passenger seat. They slammed the doors and Uzo drove off. They were at the hotel in 15 minutes and Uzo offered her his arm as they made to ascend the stairs. Nifemi smiled and took it and they walked up together. They waited for the elevator together in silence and as it opened up, a young man whose eyes were glued to his phone walked out it, almost bumping into Nifemi who Uzo managed to snatch out of the way just in time. The young man looked up hastily and began to apologize when he met Nifemi’s eyes. He suddenly froze and the words he had begun to utter were left hanging. Uzo turned to Nifemi and watched the colour drain from her face as she stared at the stranger.

Nifemi could not believe her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak but the words wouldn’t come out. Her palms were sweaty and suddenly there was a buzzing sound in her ears.

“Fo-Fola?”

The man gulped.

“Ifemi, hi.”

Nifemi made a sound that was somewhere between a snort and a laugh. This was Fola. The first man she had ever been in love with. The one who abandoned her after he went off to the UK for his masters.

“You’re alive. That’s good to know.”

She made to go past him but Fola held her arm.

“We should talk.”

Nifemi smiled and turned to Uzo.

“Darling, aren’t we late for a meeting?”

Uzo nodded and took her arm, ushering her into the elevator. He pushed the button to the second floor and they both stared at Fola as the elevator doors shut.

Hunter’s Game S02E06

Previous episodes

Tobe watched as Sharon ambled around the room, picking up articles of clothing that were scattered all over. She slipped into her black dress silently and put on her shoes, avoiding his eyes the entire time but he knew hers were heavy with shame. He had seen them the moment she woke up in his arms.

He wished he could say he felt the same shame but that would be untrue. No element of remorse. He had nursed a light interest in her while Aniefiok was alive, which he quelled almost effortlessly but after last night, he knew nothing would stop him from keeping her. She had awakened something in him that he didn’t even know existed- it was a raw sexual desire as well as an emotional one too. He wanted to matter to her, to be the reason she moaned and cussed as intensely as she had done the previous night. He wanted to heal her and protect her from hurting again and he had no apologies for the way he felt.

Sharon made to leave the room without a word but Tobe stopped her.

“Hey!”

She held on to the door knob but did not turn.

“Sharon, can we please talk?”

Sharon shook her head and Tobe sighed. He got off the bed and went to her side. He tried to hold her but she cringed and he immediately pulled back like one who had touched an extremely hot surface.

“Right. Just say something please. I know you’re upset but just say something.”

Sharon shook her head again and Tobe sighed.

“Fine. Let me drive you home at least.”

He noticed her shoulders drop and took that as a sign that she was in agreement. He walked back to his wardrobe and picked out casual shorts and a t-shirt which he put on, then he walked back to the door.

“Let’s go.”

Sharon opened the door and walked out of the room with Tobe following behind. Tobe picked the keys from the living room and went into the car. He opened Sharon’s door and she got in, still without a word.

She was silent for the entire drive and Tobe gave up trying to get her to talk. As soon as they got to the Ubong’s residence, he parked but didn’t open the doors.

“Whatever it is you’re feeling now, it will pass. Don’t beat yourself up about it. I know how awful things look and feel now but I promise you, they will get better. Just talk to me soon. Okay?”

Sharon didn’t answer him. She opened the door herself and got out of the car. Tobe let out a frustrated sigh and drove off.

Sharon crept stealthily into the house and made her way to the bedroom she shared with Otto. It was just past 7am and she didn’t want to wake up anyone. But she need not have bothered because Otto was awake the moment she stepped into the room. She was lying in bed, eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. She didn’t even turn when Sharon walked in.

Sharon cleared her throat.

“Hey babe.”

Otto didn’t turn.

“I looked for you yesterday, waited through the night, called you endlessly, but you didn’t come.”

Sharon sighed and went to sit beside her.

“I’m sorry. I fell apart yesterday. I couldn’t cope. It’s why I disappeared. Super selfish but I’m really sorry.”

Otto nodded.

“When are you going back to Lagos?”

Sharon scratched her head. She would go back this very second if she could but now she felt responsible for Otto.

“Depends on you. Do you want me to stay?”

“No o. Go do your stuff. I’m leaving town tonight anyways.”

“Yeah? Where to?”

“I don’t know.” Otto’s tone was flippant. “I’ll sha not be here by nightfall. I need to clear my head. It feels like I’ve been in a trance the last couple of weeks. I need to wake up.”

Sharon nodded.

“Let me go take a shower. I’ll take a flight down to Lagos this evening since you wouldn’t be needing me anymore.”

Otto shrugged and Sharon walked into the bathroom. She took off her clothes and turned on the shower, increasing the heat till it scalded her skin. She told herself she deserved it. How could she have betrayed Ani like that? She scrubbed herself fiercely, weeping as she did so and willing herself to forget the previous night and the insanity she had indulged in, in the name of grief.

And Tobe, how could he be so calm and normal like nothing bad had happened? If she had not woken up naked in his arms, feeling sore all over, or even had vivid flashbacks from the previous night, she would have sworn she was hallucinating. But it was all too real and she knew it was not in her head.

She was utterly responsible. Not even the alcohol or the weed could be blamed for this. It was all on her. She had failed as a person. She was just going to avoid him and shut him out completely. And right there in the bathroom, she made a personal promise to herself, to never touch alcohol or any other such substance, ever again. That resolve made her feel only a little better.

“I’m sorry baby.” She mumbled to herself as she heightened the heat of the shower.

***

Tinu walked into Williams’ bedroom for the third time that week and she exhaled loudly. The lights were still out, the room was stuffy and judging from the stench, she could tell Williams had neither showered nor opened his windows in a while. She was sure he had not left the room either. He lay in bed, the exact same position as she had last left him.

“Will…”

He didn’t answer and she went on to draw the curtains apart and open the window to let some sunlight and fresh air in.

“Don’t”

It was a weak protest, one Tinu ignored nonchalantly.

“Don’t piss me off Will. This has to stop.”

“Get out.” He croaked.

Tinu hissed. She was tired of seeing Williams this way and if this final intervention did not yield result, she would give up on him completely.

“This has to stop.” She repeatedly firmly.

“If you want to die alongside Aisha, then go and jump off NNPC towers but don’t stay around here and mope like you don’t have a life to live. Your dad called me. You haven’t been to work, you aren’t taking anyone’s calls. How long do you intend to keep this up for?”

Williams did not respond. He buried himself deeper beneath his duvet. Tinu walked out of the room and turned on the faucets in the bathtub. Water began filling the tub quickly. She went back into the room and pulled the duvet off and tossed it to the floor. Williams grabbed for the bedsheets but Tinu pulled those firmly as well. There were a few clothes lying about the room and she gathered them into one heap with the bed covers and duvet and tossed them out the door.

Williams was huddled on a corner of the bed when she returned but she ignored him. She took out fresh sheets from his dresser and as she laid the bed, he moved to the couch. Tinu walked into the bathroom to check on the tub. It was almost full. She turned off the faucet and returned to Williams.

“Go soak in the tub. Now.”

Williams did not protest. He walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. Tinu left the room and returned shortly with a vacuum cleaner and took her time vacuuming every corner of the room. Williams stayed a long time in the bathroom but she did not bother him. She set out clean clothes on the bed and left the room.

After placing the dirty clothes in the washing machine, she went into the kitchen and fried some yam and plantains alongside some egg sauce. She checked the fridge and found some juice and she set out the table. A few minutes after she was done, Williams came out of the room, looking a lot better than when he first got out of bed.

She pointed to the table and sat across from him as he sat down to eat. She watched him in silence, heart throbbing with a multitude of questions. Just how much had he loved Aisha, that her death reduced him to this?

“When are you going back to work?” she asked.

“Tomorrow.”

He pushed the plate away and turned tired eyes to face her.

“I’ve been a mess. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it.”

Tinu shrugged.

“You’re my friend. It’s what you’d do for me if the reverse were the case.”

Williams shook his head.

“Or not. You’re the kind, selfless and generous one. I abandoned you when it mattered and now that I’m broken again, you’re here giving selflessly of yourself.”

Tinu shook her head.

“No. Let’s not go there. Finish your food.”

She got up and went into the bedroom. His words reminded her of how and why they had started dating the first time. It was after he broke up with Aisha in the face of the realisation that they would probably never work out. Broken and hurting in Nigeria, he had met Tinu and they hit it off, first as friends, before eventually drifting into a relationship. She had fixed him up and taken good care of him until Aisha returned to throw them into chaos again. A small part of her was grateful she was dead. Perhaps Williams would be able to move on for good. But she was not sure what role she was meant to play, if any at all, in this phase of his life.

She had been straightening the bed, all the while lost in thought. So when she turned right round and bumped into Williams, it gave her a fright. Williams steadied her then brushed her lips with his before tightening her in his arms in a warm embrace.

“I owe you big time Tee. But please, I still need you. Don’t leave me.”

***

“My people are still gathering evidence chief. But I assure you, we will win this case. The toxicology reports for instance, they work in your favour. Also, the AIB is yet to ascertain the factual cause of the crash. And that is crucial to determining how this will swing. But just give me time and let me worry about this.”

Chief Ubong looked at the lawyer who stood before him, one of the best legal minds in the country, and a SAN. Then he looked across at Ijeoma who sat with a smirk on her face while she fiddled with her phone.

“What do you think?”

“That we have a good case-” the lawyer said.

“No not you, her.”

He inclined his head in Ijeoma’s direction and she smiled at him.

“How long till the trial date?”

“A week?” the lawyer had a questioning expression on his face. Quite evidently, he did not trust Ijeoma.

“I can work with that.”

She got up to leave the room but the lawyer stood in her way, while addressing chief Ubong.

“Chief, you need to let me do my job. Who is this woman? Don’t complicate things unnecessarily.”

Ijeoma sighed.

“You failed to have the matter struck out at the mention. The judge threw all your arguments of jurisdiction out the window. The case does not look good. No matter how you look at it. Families are grieving. They have lost loved ones. They want blood. Or good money. The judge is already sympathetic towards them. There is no way this is going in your favour.”

“Are you a lawyer?” The SAN asked quietly.

“I don’t need to be one to know that this is a shit case.”

He stared at her intently then turned to chief Ubong.

“Chief, do you want me off the case? Looks like you have someone better than my entire team.”

Chief Ubong sighed.

“Don’t say that Jide. Ijeoma is an investigator. You do your own end preparing the arguments and she’ll keep digging for information to feed you with. She found the altered checklist for the planes didn’t she?”

“She did. But let her stick to the regular investigations and stay away from the legal side of things.”

Chief Ubong turned to Ijeoma and she shrugged.

“You’ll settle out of court-”

“Tried that, didn’t work. That lawyer has convinced the families they can get much more than our final offer.”

Ijeoma laughed.

“Well, let’s convince them otherwise now, shall we?”

She side stepped him and was out of the room in a flash.

Chief Ubong walked slowly back to his desk.

“I apologise on her behalf Jide. Ijeoma is a bit too heady but believe me when I say she is good at what she does. She always delivers.”

Barrister Jide shrugged.

“As long as she isn’t breaking the law. You don’t want this getting messy chief. It’s why we are proceeding with caution.”

“Ijeoma only comes in to clean up messes. I don’t see her creating one herself.”

“Right.”

Barr. Jide whipped his phone out of his pocket and typed a message hastily.

We might have a problem.

He sent it to the designated recipient then smiled.

“Alright chief. I’ll head back to my office now. I’ll keep you updated as I work”.

Chief Ubong nodded and Barr. Jide let himself out of the room.

***

Barrister Benson walked hastily out of the golf club where he had just picked up another package from the mysterious caller. Trial was set to commence in a week and he was excited about how strong his case was looking already. He had someone at the control tower who would testify that Ani failed to listen to instructions given out in the final moments preceding the crash. He also had documentary evidence to prove that some checks had not been carried out on the plane that crashed even though it had developed some minor faults two weeks prior.

So on the surface, all was well. With any luck, the trial would move speedily, he would get it out of the way and return back to his regular life. He got into his car, shut the door and turned on the ignition but the car wouldn’t start. He tried again and suddenly, a shadow fell over his glass. He felt the person’s presence even before their gentle tap on the glass and he turned around sharply. It was a lady, dressed like she was going for an evening run. He took his glass down.

“Can I help you?”

She smiled sweetly at him.

“Yes. Just a ride out of here please.”

Barr. Benson contemplated briefly. His wife was at home waiting and at any rate, the woman could probably be a prostitute looking for some quick cash without appearing too obvious. This was Abuja after all. He smiled back and shook his head.

“I’m sorry miss. But I’m in a big hurry.”

She nodded, smile still in place and stepped away from the car. Benson took his glass up and tried to start the car again but it wouldn’t budge. The lady just stood there smiling at him. It gave him the chills. He decided to stop trying and just go check out the bonnet, although he didn’t have the faintest idea why the car would refuse to start.

As soon as he stepped out of the car, the lady said

“You should have just agreed to offer me a ride and you wouldn’t have to spend all this time figuring out why your car won’t start.”

Benson gulped.

“Who are you?”

She shrugged.

“It depends on you. I could be your newest buddy or your most recent nightmare. Your pick.”

Benson looked around nervously. The lady appeared harmless on the surface but he wasn’t fooled. Her tone and her general manner made him uneasy.

“What do you want?”

“A conversation. In your car.”

“No. we talk out here.”

She shrugged.

“I’m going to make you an offer, you’re going to take it back to your clients and convince them to accept it as compensation for the loss of their loved ones.”

Ijeoma was barely done speaking before Benson burst into loud laughter.

“This is about my case?” He suddenly found his courage.

“Woman, you do not know me. I am not easily bullied or intimidated. Tell Chief Ubong that we will see in court. And if you try this silly joke of a scare tactic one more time, I’ll have you arrested and your case will become even worse than it is now.”

Ijeoma grinned.

“Barrister Benson. Like every law-abiding citizen, you have skeletons in your cupboard. Don’t make me bring them to light.”

Benson was not sure whether or not she was bluffing but he decided to stand his ground.

“Bullying and intimidation will get you nowhere. Tell Barr. Jide I said so. I’ll be sure to mention this to the judge as well.”

Ijeoma stroked her chin and observed him closely.

“Who hired you?”

Benson laughed. The woman was fishing. She had nothing on him.

“My clients. But that is none of your business.”

Ijeoma rolled her eyes.

“I hate lawyers. They get on my nerves. And you’re really working those nerves right now. I asked a simple question. Who hired you?”

“Lady, if you do not leave this place right now, I’ll have you arrested.”

“You do not want to mess with me Mr. Benson. I could have you arrested in a flash for all your dodgy dealings the past week. But you behind bars means nothing to me. Let me have the information I require and I’ll be out of your hair.”

“Go to hell.”

Barrister Benson turned and stormed off in the direction of the club. He was going to get the security guards to bundle her out. Ijeoma called after him

“I warned you! Your worst nightmare. It’s about to begin.”

In one swift motion, she swung her elbow through the glass of the driver’s seat, sending glass shards flying all over the place. She snatched up the envelope he had placed on the seat and sprinted away in the opposite direction.

“Hey! Thief!! Hey!!”

Barrister Benson turned and ran after her but she moved too quickly and was soon out of sight. He hissed and cussed loudly. He went back to his car and kicked it in frustration as two security guards ran up to him.

“What happened sir?”

Barrister Benson slammed his fist on the car in a rage.

“Get me a taxi! Now! And call the police!”