Tunji endured every moment of the half hour he spent in J-boy’s room. The smell of blood mixed with marijuana and alcohol filled the whole air in the room. Peter, their scapegoat was bundled up and later abandoned in one of the inner rooms. Like Tunji, Sunky was equally terrified of J-boy’s harsh punishment of the erring offender, but he managed to keep his calm.
J-boy handed over a small notebook to Tunji, which contained some information. One look into the book was enough to tell Tunji that he was on his first job. In the book was a mock profile of a hugely successful business man who’s into oil and gas and lives in Delta State. The mission was clear, Tunji would have to disguise as this man while negotiating a deal with an unsuspecting foreigner over the internet.
“TJ, study every piece of information in that book, you’ll be working on it from Monday. You’ll appear as that person when dealing with the client at the back of the book…” J-boy instructed, but Tunji’s mind was far away.
Finally, he had landed himself in a world of cyber crime. There seemed no escape route for him anymore, and he had to apply wisdom as the gory sight of Peter in the inner room told him how he also might end up if he doesn’t act according to J-boy’s will. He didn’t quite get every other instructions given to him, but he only kept replying “Yes boss” till J-boy ended his speech.
As Tunji walked out of Fine Touch Hostels, he kept wondering how best to tackle the situation he found himself. He would have to keep late nights to be in constant communication with his client who’s in another part of the world. He would have to lie, pretend and be consistently smart to execute the job which according to J-boy was potentially worth $2million.
That figure alone sent more shivers down his spine, and he questioned in his mind why he would be committed to swindling someone of such a huge amount at that early stage of his cyber career. On a more important note, he still had his academics to cater to, exams were to start in a few weeks and he had a lot of catching up to do. Asides that, Amaka was also of concern to him. He hoped she won’t get the money she went to look for, so it would serve as an impetus for him to execute the job handed over to him. Everything seemed to be jamming together in his head, and when he could no longer think straight, he abandoned them all, and focused on his journey back to campus.
As he approached the bus stop in front of campus gate, he noticed a familiar figure of a lady. The lady wasn’t facing his direction, so he couldn’t say at once that he knew who she was. The only person he recognised with that figure was none other than Amaka. He wasn’t expecting to see her around school by the way, and going by the note she left, she still had some more days to spend with the person she went to meet. But as the figure turned, it became just the person he had in mind – Amaka.
Amaka turned round and was petrified to see Tunji, she wanted to turn away quickly and try to hide from him but it was too late.
“Amaka, what’s up? This is a surprise” Tunji said, stretching forth his arm for a handshake.
“Yea, I had to return to school quickly. Something came up” she replied, smiling to cover her shock.
“How was your trip?” Tunji asked as he joined Amaka and four other students waiting at the bus stop.
“Fine. I travelled home from Osogbo.”
“Really? Hope no problem?” Tunji was immediately concerned. He was quick to imagine the worst had happened, and all the quest for N500,000 was no longer needed. He however didn’t want to be quick to ask if her father had passed on.
“Not at all. I went to drop the amount I could raise for my father’s treatment, but I found out on getting there that the bill had been paid”
Tunji’s jaw dropped. Yes, the quest for N500,000 was indeed over. There would no longer be any reason for him to continue in cyber crime. But it seemed rather late to back out. He had his chance, but his courage let him down. He resolved to suffer in silence till he figures out a way to escape J-boy’s punishment. And more importantly, Amaka mustn’t know about any of his dealings.
A bus arrived, half empty, and took all the waiting students into campus. As they journeyed, Amaka was brooding. She couldn’t also talk to Tunji about her experience at Osogbo, that would totally shatter her image in front of him…and to think that she had fallen for him. She decided to make it a secret to be hidden forever. It was expected that Tunji would ask who she went to meet at Osogbo, and she had a ready-made answer for him. What she doesn’t have an answer to is what the aftermath of her experience with Gbade might be.
Her flow of thought was interrupted when the bus came to its stop, and the passengers alighted with the driver who was scampering around to collect his money because he wasn’t working with a conductor.
Tunji settled the bill and they both walked towards the Student Union’s building, close to the bus stop.
“I’m still in shock, but happy to know that the money has been raised and your dad can start receiving proper treatment.” Tunji broke the long silence that ensued between them, “I pray God grants him total healing” he added.
“Amen. Thank you Tunji” Amaka replied. “I was shocked myself. I gathered it was a good samaritan who helped us with the money. I didn’t even have a chance to meet the person”
Tunji didn’t know if he was to believe Amaka’s story. He wasn’t sure if he trusted her at all. He wondered how he managed to fall in love with a girl he didn’t trust. But he urged himself, believing things would work out. The most important thing had been done, it was time their lives returned to normal.
“It’s okay…” Tunji continued, “let’s get back to our studies and hope things continue to go well.”
“Yes Tunji. I have to be at my hostel now, we’ll hook up later. Call me towards evening” Amaka responded.
“Err… I don’t have a phone at the moment”
“Oh okay… Check me in my room around 7pm… And get a phone as quick as possible please”
Tunji smiled, “I sure will. Thanks and take care of you”
The both departed for different destinations that held gloom for them; Tunji to decide if to continue in crime, Amaka walking into a trap she’s unaware of.
“Finally! You remembered me today” Juliet enthused as she ushered Patience, her marriage tutor and friend, into the large living room.
“Forgive me Juliet. I have been very busy these past few days. Chasing my customers around for monies owed me, you know I’ll soon be on my next trip to Dubai” Patience replied, making herself comfortable on a cushion. “How’s your husband and the kids?”
“Hmmm… The kids are fine. They re playing their games room. My husband is still on his ‘Business Trip” and he hasn’t called me since he left”
“Really? That’s serious. Have you reached him?”
“Since he left, I have been calling his numbers. Sometimes they are switched off, other times, he is not answering. I have sent him up to two messages, still no reply from him.” Juliet was beginning to look worried.
“I guess his trip has been really hectic. I’m sure he’ll call you” Patience tried to douse her friend’s worry.
“I pray o. But I think he’s angry at what I did when he was about travelling.”
“What did you do?”
“Have you forgotten?” Juliet’s tone changed, she looked around to make sure Dominic, her son wasn’t anywhere around, and none of the house workers weren’t eavesdropping, “I used the Direct Assault Tactics you taught me. I offered him a pack of condoms as u advised me to do whenever he wants to travel anywhere”
Patience smiled weakly and replied, “oh that? Come on, that shouldn’t be a problem. Stop worrying about that. He’ll come around.” She really hoped in her mind that her friend hadn’t gone too far, but she kept on encouraging her.
“When he returns, I plan to apologise. Just last week, I was celebrating that my husband was back in my arms. I won’t let anything come between us. Maybe I should even stop the classes.” Juliet responded.
Pat was hurt by her friends final words. “What do you mean? Are you in any way implying that I’m breaking your home?”
“No, I would never say that” Juliet answered, quickly sensing the gravity of what she said. “I only meant that we should hold on with the classes till my husband returns and everything goes normal again.”
“But you should also remember that things weren’t looking good at all between you and him when I started the classes with you… It was my tutelage that led him back to your arms. You make one error, he leaves, and you turn everything on my head…” Patience had gone loud, and to her surprise and that of her friend who was in more shock, Dominic was standing by the door.
Both ladies had their heads turned in his direction, with their mouths wide open. But Dominic had other news for them:
“Mummy, Jessica is vomiting blood”
Gbadebo Johnson was indeed a lucky man. He was retained in the Oil firm he was posted to for his National Youth Service, he was promoted twice within the space of one year and things were going very well for him.
His parents were really proud of him, and they thanked God for rewarding their labour over him, as they really suffered to put him through school.
His father was a newspaper vendor, while his mother was a cleaner in a school. They toiled day and night to make sure he got quality education.
When he gained admission into the university, his father had to sell his land, the only inheritance bequeathed to him by his grandfather, in order to see Gbade through school.
Having got a job, there was no room for poverty anymore in the Johnson Family. They had all they needed, and enjoyed the good side of life they hadn’t enjoyed since they were born.
Next up was marriage. Gbade got married to Juliet, his long term girlfriend, after series of pressure from his parents and friends. The wedding was the toast of the town as a lot of dignitaries were in attendance. It was a memorable day for the couple.
But barely a year after wedding, tragedy raised its ugly head again when there was a change of management in the Oil firm, and the new board decided to go on a retrenchment spree. And for reasons best known to the board, Gbade was among the first set of workers to be affected.
It was a total fall from grace, as Gbade had little or nothing to fall back upon. Surviving was becoming a problem, he couldn’t secure another job and he had bills to pay, his wife was pregnant, and he also had an ailing mother.
On his way back from an interview one sunny afternoon, he bumped into Deji Arowolo, his friend in the university. Deji was living large, and had become a big man in the society. Gbade believed he had struck gold after meeting Deji, believing that he would help him get something doing at least to put food the table and pay the necessary bills.
Deji was instrumental in helping Gbade’s ailing mother survive her ailment, as he took care of the hospital bills. He also gave Gbade a handsome amount of money to take care of his pregnant wife. But Gbade didn’t want just a fish; he wanted to be a fisherman himself.
“My friend… What you have asked for is deep and sacred.” Deji answered Gbade when he was approached on how to make money. “There’s a lot of hidden mysteries behind wealth, and only the brave hearted can unravel this mystery” he added.
“I’ll do anything to be rich. I’m brave, I’m hardworking, I am ready….just tell me. Whatever it is, I’ll do.” Gbade responded, desperate to run out of poverty.
Deji’s response to his friend’s request was at Professor Sagat’s temple. Gbade didn’t realize anything was fetish until he was asked to sacrifice either of his wife or his unborn baby to make money.
“Ah! You must be kidding me! I want money, but I’m not a murderer. I love my wife, I love my child. I can’t kill them for money. I think at this juncture, I’ll take my leave. Thank you Deji for helping me thus far.” Gbade revolted and was ready to leave.
“You go nowhere!” The door closed on its accord as professor Sagat spoke. Gbade knew he was done for. “There’s no going back. You said with your mouth that you would do anything to have money. Why run now?”
There was truly no going back for Gbade. He had to accept his fate, but he begged Sagat not to have him murder any member of his family, and so he was given another option:
“You’ll sleep with a young maiden every ninety days and we’ll use the fluid of their sexual pleasure to get you money. Take note: you must not rape any maiden, they must sleep with you willingly. By that, it means they readily submit their destinies to be used. Secondly, you must not sleep with a maiden twice. And lastly, you must keep your family in order, even if she knows you are defiling your matrimonial bed.” Professor Sagat concluded.
It was a better option for Gbade, and he was willing to take it. Luckily, Deji was using the same method. They both agreed to hunt for ladies together and continue in their quest for riches.
The hunt is what brought Amaka into his arms, but his recklessness and carelessness is coming back to haunt him.
“What are you thinking about?” Deji broke into his taught as they got closer to Ife, enroute campus to pick Amaka and Ngozi.
“Err… Nothing. Just wondering how I didn’t notice the girl’s mind wasn’t with me.” Gbade responded. He looked devastated.
“Just keep calm. It will be sorted soon.”
“Deji… I have six days to live if I can’t get that girl to Sagat.”
“…and who says you won’t? We’ll go into her school now, pick her up and we are off to Sagat’s temple. Nothing to worry about.” Deji was totally confident, much to the amazement of Gbade who couldn’t help but think about so many things that could go wrong.
“We’ll pick the other girl too, won’t we?” He asked.
“Of course we will. But she’s of no use to me, I have used her. I may just knock her out and dump her in a ditch close to Sagat’s temple. She’ll rot to death there.” Deji sounded really violent, Gbade was beginning to fear him.
“But we don’t know what Sagat wants with the Amaka girl. What if he doesn’t kill her? She may come back to ask us for her friend when she goes missing…”
“Sagat won’t let her leave alive. Even if she does, she won’t be sane.” Deji was getting uneasy with Gbade’s pessimism.
But Gbade won’t just keep shut. He pressed further, “what if the girls suspect something, and they are not willing to come with us?”
Deji halted the car in frustration, and turned to Gbade, “Now tell me, are you doing this or asking questions about everything that could go wrong! I have told you, KEEP CALM!!!”
Gbade’s phone rang.
“It’s my wife. Can I answer the call” he was totally shaking, and Deji was increasingly frustrated.
“Give me the phone” he ordered. Gbade handed over to him and he answered the call without speaking a word. Moments later, he ended the call and turned to Gbade.
“I have news.” He said.
“What news?” Gbade’s eyes popped out like they were going to drop off.
“Your daughter is ill. But you must decide if she’s more important than the girl we are looking for.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jessica is ill. Are you going back to Lagos to see her or you’ll continue on this journey to get Amaka?”
To Be Continued Next Week…………….