I initially wrote this for Jeremy Target’s blog,you can see the original post here.
Anyway, I thought about making this into a sort of series, but let us see what we think about this first. If you are a lover of Espionage and spy thrillers and of course, if you are familiar with the awesomeness that is Codename: Ali then you are welcome.
East-West road, Choba
“Move you fool! Is that all you are capable of? You giant lummox of a fellow! Come on, move those feet ma fren! Would you call yourself a champion? Would you call yourself a leader of men when you can’t achieve a single goal? Run fool!”
Cars whizzed past him on both sides in the early morning light, their headlights making wavy yellow lines in the misty harmattan morning. He jogged on the median of the road, the white nylons and trainers a blurry piston to the pedestrians and motorists. At this hour, the sidewalk and the median, which had become a sudden favourite for pedestrian commuters, was mostly empty. As far as he could see in the mist, he was alone on the median, just how he liked it. Ahead of him loomed the big Setraco mile marker. The stone block was his goal, only two hundred yards from him, but still so far. Essien was alone with his thoughts, and his voice to berate him.
“How do you ever hope to be reckoned with? How will you raise your head above your peers? You fat, ugly, un-fit fuck! Run! Don’t stop now, the goal is no further than the next step idiot!” he cursed, the words puffing out his lips with each breath in small clouds of mist as the mile marker seemed to belie his words, retreating further into the mist.
“Now, I have found self-flagellation to be a suitable motivator, but never so vehemently,” came the smooth voice beside him.
Inspired by True events from the life of the greatest woman I know.
The figure darted out of the dark bushes to her right and right into the glare of the headlights. Mrs Adebowale slammed her right foot hard on the brakes, the 2004 Chrysler 300C, pistons charging angrily, slid sideways into a crushing stop.
Who the hell was that?
Forty-six year old Christina Adebowale was no stranger to danger. Born in Onitsha, Eastern Region at the onset of the Biafran war, her instincts had been honed from birth. And right now, her instincts urged her to lift her foot off the brake and zoom off.
Christina Adebowale pressed a button that locked the doors. The reassuring click as the locks all snapped shut buoyed her. Then she glanced at her rearview mirror. The road was dark and empty. Where was the person? All the way down for where she was up until perhaps Lagos, the Benin-Lagos expressway looked as empty and dark as the plains of Mor…
A figure slammed against her driver-side window. Mrs Adebowale let out a shriek. Her hands flew to her gear lever, and she almost zoomed off then. She wondered why she didn’t later on. But at that moment, something stilled her hand, and her heart.
The figure outside the window was a woman in her late thirties, (young by Mrs Adebowale’s standards). The woman was dressed in a dark green tracksuit, and she looked about to die. The suit was torn in several places and dark red blood stains coated her face, her clothes, and matted in her hair alongside a bramble of twigs and leaves and sand.
“Please help me! Please!” The woman said. Mouthed more like, because the heavy density glass partition between them, allowed very little sound to filter through.
If one had asked her, before now, if she would stop on the road for a random stranger, Mrs Adebowale would have replied in a vehement negative. But here she was at 8:05pm, parked right in the centre of the Benin-Lagos expressway, at the section that leads through the Ovia forest, considering whether to wind down her glass to talk to a total stranger, who not only seemed mad, but was also probably dangerous.
But then Mrs Adebowale never did anything ordinarily.
Only a few hours ago, she had been rounding up a lecture on ‘Mis-accountancy and the future of Nigeria in the Global market‘ in Akure. The lecture had started later than scheduled, and at the end, she had to choose between sleeping in a hotel in Akure and entering her car for the two hour drive home.
Mrs Adebowale had driven into a hotel and asked the manager if they had a room with a big TV. The surprised manager had replied “Of course!” She had then asked if they received TVTV, to which the even more surprised man had replied “No. But we have DSTV”
Mrs Adebowale had walked out. Bad enough she wouldn’t be able to watch her TV show with her daughter in the comfort of her home, but not to watch Jumong at all?
She had entered her car, and called her daughter. “Hey, I’m on my way. In case I don’t get back on time, record the Jumong oh!”
Then she put her headlights on full beam, and drove into the road.
Mrs Adebowale wound down her window.
“Please, madam! Help me! Kidnappers!” The woman in the tattered tracksuit blurted out, tears and mucus running down her face.
At that moment, a shot rang out in the darkness. The report all the louder in the stillness that was the lonely night. The woman in the tracksuit let out a short squeal and made to dart across the road to the other side. Mrs Adebowale made her decision.
“Get in!” She hollered.
The tracksuit lady needed no further cajoling. Jumping in through the open back door, she lay flat on the seat.
Spinning the car around in first gear, Mrs Adebowale once more pointed the nose for Benin as she stepped hard on the accelerator. The vehicle jumped forward, and not a moment too soon. In her rearview mirror, she could see two men run into the road, long, dangerous looking weapons in their hands.
Mrs Adebowale flashed instantly to the Korean TV series she watched with her daughter. What was that action one? Bridal Mask? Twisting the steering as she saw the muzzle of one of the guns flash, she tossed the nimble car to the left and then back to the right. The gunshots seemed louder and more ominous. From the back seat, the tracksuit lady was sobbing and praying, but it seemed they were unhurt. The kidnappers kept shooting, but the car was out of range.
The speedometer needle climbed up to 100mph, then 110mph. Mrs Adebowale held it there for five minutes. Then as the adrenaline supply began to taper off, she eased to 70mph.
“So talk to me! Who are you? What happened just now?” Her normal calm voice came out as a high-pitched cry.
“My name is Mrs Roberts, and those men kidnapped me.”
Jite Roberts told the story of how she had come back home from the gym after work (Mrs Adebowale nodded appreciatively), and while horning at her gate for the kids to come open, a trio of gunmen had suddenly appeared at her side. Wrenching open the door of her vehicle before she had time to react, they had forced her into theirs and drove off.
“They blindfolded me. My neighbours couldn’t help me! Everybody was scared. The kidnappers shot into the air.” Jite Roberts said.
While she talked, Mrs Adebowale listened, and kept a sharp eye on the rearview mirror. While she had no fears that the kidnappers couldn’t run her down, not while she drove this six-cylinder monster at least, she was however concerned that they hadn’t given chase. There were no tell-tale headlights in the rear. It raised questions, and whatever raised questions didn’t go well with Mrs Adebowale.
“Have they demanded a ransom?”
“Fifteen million,” Jite replied succintly. Her voice clearer now as the sobs subsided.
They had extracted her husband’s international number from her and demanded the sum. The man, his voice breaking in panic, had insisted he needed time to wire the money from the UK. So they had roughed her up, while he listened, till he almost cried over the phone. Satisfied he was going to pay up, and that she was comatose, the kidnappers had retreated to a corner to smoke a joint. That was when she crawled away.
Mrs Adebowale admired her courage, but a question nagged at her.
“How many of them where smoking when you ran?”
“The three of them.”
“But only two were shooting at us earlier.”
“Maybe the other went into town to get…” Her voice trailed off into despair.
At that moment, the roar of a powerful engine tore through the quiet night and powerful headlights, beaming at full intensity, cut a swathe in the darkness barely ten metres away on the right shoulder of the road.
There was no time to react, only action. Old age they say blunts one’s reaction time, but intuition is honed by years of experience.
After lifting her foot off the accelerator just a moment, her naked instincts urguing her to stop the vehicle, Mrs Adebowale stepped harder on the throttle. The big car lurched forward, the HEMI engine churning sparks from the exhaust. But it wasn’t fast enough. The front end of the Toyota Hilux slammed into the back of the Chrysler with enough force, it seemed like the clashing of rival Transformers. The Chrysler spun in a screeching circle, the women inside screaming for dear life. The Hilux went on, the engine barely clacking now, to smash into the median. The force of the impact caused the truck to roll back, headlights casting crazy shadows in every corner. Instantly two men jumped out. One of them, the one on the passenger side, was cradling a rifle. He stepped right up to the driverside window and smashed the glass in with the butt of his gun. Mrs Adebowale tried to drive off, but the crash had totaled the rear axle and some function that caused the vehicle to rise on its haunches had been disabled. The Chrysler merely groaned.
“Get out now!” The kidnapper yelled.
In the back seat, her passenger side door mangled from the crash, Jite had powered down the window and scrambled through it, all her thoughts on escape.
“Hey!” The gun man yelled to his accomplice who rather than be dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, was wearing a stylish-looking blazer over plain trousers. “She wan’ run!”
His accomplice darted around the car in pursuit of the rapidly fleeing Jite.
In the moment his attention was split, Mrs Adebowale had another of her Korean flashes. Unlocking and opening the door in one smooth motion, she slammed all of her 98KG weight behind the heavy steel door and into the knee of the kidnapper. She heard a satisfying crunch as he yelped in pain. Quickly, she drew the door back as through to shut it. The kidnapper, his gun harmlessly at his side now, reflexively bent to massage his hurting leg.
“I go kill you to…” He never finished the sentence.
Propelling forward again, all of her fear and anger, at the smashed Chrysler no less, converted into fury. Mrs Adebowale let out a war cry as she swung the door into his head. The sound was like the thud you hear in a gym when the weights are dropped unceremoniously to the floor.
Gboom! That’s the sound that best describes it.
The kidnapper crumpled to the floor. Stepping out of the vehicle, operating on pure instinct and healthy doses of epinephrine now, Mrs Adebowale picked up the fallen rifle. He assumed it was an AK-47, being the only rifle she was familiar with from the movies. On the other side of the car, dragging Jite by her hair was the well-dressed accomplice. His face slightly sweaty from the chase and oddly bewildered by the turn of events.
“What are you doing with that gun?” He asked stupidly.
In the spill of lights from the reflections cast by the powerful headlamps of both vehicles, it was easy to read the shock and confusion on his face.
“Let her go!” Mrs Adebowale stammered. “Please, for God’s sake, let her go! Or I will shoot you!”
Her words, perhaps the faltering nature of them, seemed to have an awakening effect on the kidnapper. Her tightened his hold and dragged his captive closer to himself. Jite yelped in pain.
“Let her go!”
“Hand over that gun.” He said calmly. “You don’t even know how to operate it.”
From his calm, measured tones, Mrs Adebowale surmised he was the leader of the operation. She panicked then, and very nearly dropped the gun. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Why are you doing this? Why? I don’t want to die,” she sobbed. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with this.”
In instant solidarity, Jite burst out in fresh tones of brand-new tears.
The man inched closer, oblivious to their cries, his eyes on the gun. He was around the boot of the Chrysler now, still holding Jite, barely five feet away.
“Just give me the gun, and then you can go your own way. This is not your problem.”
Jite started wailing. “No! Nooo! He will kill us!”
Mrs Adebowale gripped the gun by the barrel, her knees shook, fear in every fibre of her being. She extended it slowly, her hands unsteady, ready to hand it over to the kidnapper. At that moment two things happened, without which this story would have ended quite differently.
The first one. The kidnapper, in a definite state of amplified hubris, said; “No. Nothing would happen to you. Too much wahala this night sef. I just want to take my man and go. Both of you can leave too.”
Now, Mrs Adebowale held a position in Management at her company, and she had heard just about all the usual lies. And that statement was right up the charts with, “My car broke down” and “I think I came down with something last night“.
The second thing that happened was; the partner on the floor, the one with a broken knee and a crack in his skull wide enough to fit a Tecno Phantom®, suddenly stirred and muttered something. His well-dressed colleague glanced down and Mrs Adebowale’s hand swung up and sideways.
Now, the kidnapper had solid reflexes and a well-built physique, and his gaze was in the direction of the gun. So he saw it coming well in time. Time enough to raise his left forearm and absorb most of the (painful) shock on his bicep. He pushed Jite to the ground with his other arm and took a step towards Mrs Adebowale before the woman had time to take another swing, after all, she was probably in her fifties and a rifle is quite a heavy toy. It was impossible for him to know Mrs Adebowale plays squash every weekend at The Benin Club.
The rifle flew backwards and swung back in a two-handed swing that had all the ferociousness of a Nadal serve. 120 pounds of pure motive force swung into Kidnapper no 1, shattering his left radius and gouging a deep crease into the side of his skull. The man slammed against the side of the Chrysler and slid to the floor unconcious. Whirling around, before she had time to reconsider her options, Mrs Adebowale knocked the butt of the rifle into the groggy, unbelieving head of Kidnapper no 2 in a very familiar pounding motion and shut his lights out for the last time that night.
It was over. Eight minutes and forty-three seconds from crash to rifle-butt-in-head-of-woman-kidnapper.
Adrenaline still surging through her veins in quick bursts, she almost slapped Jite when the woman grabbed her from behind, and in between prayers of thanksgiving, began to cry and weep profusely.
“It’s alright. It’s alright, Jite. It’s alright.”
In GRA Benin City, Candy Adebowale tapped a button on the remote control and the PVR TVTV decoder started to record the lates episode of Jumong. She wondered how long it will take her mother to get home.
Mrs Adebowale notified a friend at the Department of State Security (DSS) over the phone, about the events of the night, and a team was immediately dispatched in assault gear, and armed with FN F2000s, to the scene at the Benin-Lagos expressway, where a nervous and drawstring taut Mrs Adebowale stood sentry over two slightly comatose bodies of well-built men and a weak-at-the-knees, completely relieved ex-hostage.
After some cajoling, Jite Roberts directed the men of the DSS to the spot where she had been held captive, where after a very brief gun-battle, the kidnappers surrendered, bullets haven been exhausted anyway. The rifle found in Mrs Adebowale’s possession was found to contain only two shells in its clip and was identified as an AKM.
Mrs Adebowale got home safe the next morning at about 3:00am, haven been escorted home in an unmarked white police Hilux, her statement received and sent to Abuja. The Chrysler was taken to Lagos (causing a two hour traffic jam the next morning at it was lifted by crane) where repairs are currently ongoing. Jite Roberts began preparations to move with her family to the UK from where she would maintain a steady correspondence with her saviour. Both Saviours.
Mrs Adebowale looks forward to her next adventure!
I do not aim to make light of the situations depicted in this story. Kidnapping in Nigeria is a very real and present danger, and my heart goes to any and all who have experienced or known someone who experienced a kidnapping. We’ll get past this scourge I tell you.
The Chrysler 300C has been renamed the Lancia Thema but still remains the car I drive in my wettest fantasies
The constant repetition of the name ‘Mrs Adebowale’ is deliberate, a throwback from the old Mrs Pollifax stories and my amusement with Lee Child’s Reacher novels.
Mrs Adebowale drives a Toyota Rav 4 while her Chrysler is being repaired.
Don’t forget to follow the blog by clicking on the button at the top of your screen. Also follow on Twitter @janus_aneni and do well to like our Facebook page.
Peace to Nigeria.
PS: Abi you see now, nobody died in this story! Before you people would be commenting on my psychopathic tendencies.
Ali never really liked biscuits as a kid. Unlike most of his mates, chinchin and cake had been more his thing than crunchy wafers. So it was almost inexplicable that he would suddenly be standing still, drawn to a billboard advertising the latest in Cadbury’s inventory of creme-layered, wheat-filled, chocolate cookies. But he was, and it saved his life.
The bullet winged past his head, barely missing him by the width of a thread, and thrumped into the sandy road. The sound of the shot was silent, but for the cloud of dust, it would have gone un-perceived. But Ali heard it.
The world slowed.
He took into cognisance his position; body bent in a defensive crouch, arms spread out about him, the fingers extended, weaponless and in the middle of the road. He took into cognisance his surrounding; beside him on the right, a mallam kiosk, against the low fence of a residential building. On his left, an abandoned two-storey building with a huge signpost of Cadbury biscuits in the middle of the compound.
He recognised the danger, a McDonell Helicopter about 500m above him and to his left. He could even hear the slam, as the shooter lined up a bullet for the next shot.
Ali woke up.
He woke in sweat, his bedsheets all bunched up and soaked beneath him. Above, the fan spun lazily, trying it’s best to cut through the humid air.
It had been a vivid dream. Every detail had seemed so real. He had been walking down a street off the Benin-Agbor road. Just enjoying an evening stroll on a cool day. His hand had been in the pocket of his combat shorts and a comb had been jutting out his bushy hair. He then saw the billboard. He never even heard the helicopter.
And how the hell was he so good at observing his environment as the danger increased?
He had been watching too many action movies.
Getting up, he pulled on a pair of shorts over his briefs, tossed on a T-shirt and combed his bushy hair.
It was a dream. Most probably a hunger dream. His body was trying to tell him something. It was time to buy Indomie.
As he walked home, swinging a water-proof nylon containing two Indomie noodles Super-packs and an egg, he thought of the dream again.
Coincidence does not exist, his father always said. And this was not the first time he was having a dream like this.
Last week, in his dream, he had been sitting in an office. Sitting behind the door actually. A man had walked into the office carrying a folder. The instant, the man closed the door, Ali had shot him pointblank with a 9mm P22 Walther completely fitted with a sound-suppressor. Three shots to the chest. The man was dead before he began to fall. Ali had caught him, eased him into a chair and swivelled it away from the door before leaving the office. Then he had woken up.
The dreams always left him sweaty, nervous, in a high adrenaline state, and horny.
Maybe he should call Chioma.
Yesterday. Yesterday, it had been too vivid.
In the dream. There was a truck. A big truck. You know, those types with about eight wheels and a big IVECO sign in front. Ali had been driving this truck. The scene again, had been Benin city. How he knew these places, haven never stepped foot outside Port-harcourt, he had no idea. It was a white monster, eight wheels and over 300HP, and ten cylinders, all of them firing. The truck barreled down the highway as Ali clung on for dear life. Horns blaring, the tiny buses skid out of the way of the monster from truck hell. In the rearview mirror, Ali could see the two Hilux trucks in close pursuit. His pursuers were armed with top-level automatic rifles and they were gaining on him.
Swerving out the 3rd east circular road, tyres screeching, the engine howling in agony, Ali twisted the truck onto the Akpakpava road as a spray of bullets riddled the side of the truck and knocked out the right side mirror. Pumping on the clutch, Ali tossed the truck into higher gear and ground for the Ikpoba hills, the white IVECO churning at 120kmph. Ahead, at about 100yards was the Ikpoba bridge. Once past that, he had a feeling, the pursuers would leave him be. He just had to pass that bridge.
Then one Hilux swerved suddenly to the left of the truck and began to come closer, the shooter holding the AK-47, sitting in the trunk of the Hilux truck, aimed the rifle at Ali’s head. Without thinking, Ali swerved the truck to the left, hoping to drive the Hilux into the shoulder of the road and onto the path of incoming traffic. But it was a ruse. The Hilux slowed down instantly and in those seconds, the other Hilux had sped up on the right side and began to pepper the cab of the IVECO. Swerving back to the right, Ali over-compensated and missed the entrance of the bridge, hurtling the truck over the embankment and towards the brown swirling waters of the Ikpoba river.
Then he woke. As usual, sweaty, horny and nervous.
This night was calm though. An oddly cool breeze blew in from the sea and for a second seemed to calm Ali’s nerves. There was nothing to trouble for. Who knows, these were ideas for a movie that God was giving him. Enough of website designing, there were other ways to make money in PHC.
Then, with the breeze came a sound. It was like the tinny sound we here when a bell is rung far away from us. Or the tinkle of a spoon against a glass. Whatever it was, Ali had heard that sound before. It was a background sound in all his dreams.
Every nerve was instantly alert.
A man suddenly walked up to him. Arms outstretched, as though to embrace him. But Ali knew better.
The world slowed.
As the left arm came up, Ali raised his right elbow and blocked it. As the right arm swung in, he raised his left elbow, nylon of egg and Indomie still swinging, and blocked. Without giving the man space to think, he twisted his body and slammed his back into the man’s mid-section. The fellow went down.
As the man lay on the floor struggling to get up, Ali crashed his knee into the man’s head and he went out cold.
The tinny sound was still ringing.
Ali didn’t wake. He kept running, splashing into a barely visible puddle. He was scared, the street looked so empty and though lights spilled onto the road from quiet compounds, all he could see were the shadows. Shadows; dark places, from where anyone could jump out wielding a sword or a knife or a gun.
Ali knew his thoughts were no longer rational, but he could barely help it. On a subconscious level he realised he was running at measured paces, his breath was not raggedy or raspy, and his eyes were darting in every direction is precise, calculated movements. Outwardly though, he looked as ungainly as a fat turkey with a broken leg.
And how he had taken that man down. So fast, so clinical. It had barely taken five seconds.
Ali reached the door of his house, his pulse coming as fast as a runner’s after a five mile sprint. Quickly unlocking the door to his one bedroom flat, he made to enter. And then, that tinkling sound came again, and with it, the sound of powerful rotors.
Instantly, a black helicopter swept over the house, it’s searchlight beam aimed directly at Ali.
Two things happened, of which Ali was never sure of any till this day.
In front of his house was a carton box in which he kept a certain amount of debris. Basically, a clutterers useful nonsense; empty bottles, broken plates, an old burner, things which had outlived their purpose, but he would not throw away. This box had stood in front of his door for ages, beckoning to be disposed, but for some reason, some inner instinct had stopped him. Now he knew why.
Kicking the carton box to jostle the contents, Ali retrieved a black Walther P99, 12-round, 9mm caliber semi-automatic handgun, complete with polymer grip from the box. In one fluid motion, he spun around, thumbing off the safety, and squeezed the trigger, aiming for the light.
The bullet hit its mark. That was the first thing.
Diving away from the fullisade of bullets which erupted from the helicopter, Ali hit the ground on his right side. Before the shooter had time to correct his aim, the killer, who was Ali, fired three shots. Two went through the throat of the pilot while the third took the shooter in his chest. That was the second.
Scrambling to his feet as the helicopter began a deadly spiral toward the ground, Ali ducked behind a pile of cement blocks as the helicopter crashed into the building.
The apartment complex erupted in a huge fireball as glass and metal shrapnel filled the air. Ali stood up as the air seemed to settle. He had eight bullets left, but it was enough. In the gloom of the settling smoke, other attackers came at him from different angles, rushing out of the building where they had probably been hiding. Killers. His enemies.
Ali shot them all. Shot them in their throats.
Then he ran.
The Real Real Newspaper.
Sunday, 21 April, 2013.
Widespread panic hit the people of Diobu yesterday when, in a strange development, a previously upstanding member of the society ran mad and murdered nine people.
Ali Damascus, an Engineer and web designer with Almatech industries was said to have let leave of his senses and gone on a killing rampage.
Eyewitness reports say, Ali had left the house earlier to buy something to eat from a nearby store.
“When he bought the Indomie from me yesterday, I noticed something was wrong about him. I always tell my husband I know these things. His eye was shaking, and as he was buying the indomie, he was talking something. He was talking about dream. Me I don’t know, I just gave him the Indomie and collected my change,” says Mrs Oladipupo Bimbo
The suspect was said to have attacked a man on the road, a friend of his from work. The friend is now in the hospital. When our correspondent tried to reach him, they were informed he was in intensive care. A source however revealed, the patient to have said “I only wanted to hug him”
On getting to his house, the suspect then tried to set his neighbour’s generators on fire. When an attempt was made to stop him, he killed one man and seriously wounded another. According to the survivor, the suspect went on to burn the house and kill the survivors of the fire with a broken knife and bottle he kept in a carton box outside his apartment.
The Police have declined to give a statement, though the assurance is high that they would catch the suspect, who is still at large. However, in a strange development, the SSS, the NIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency are involved in this case. It is even rumoured that Israeli Mossad agents are being utilized to find the man. Quality manpower has been dispatched here. It is obvious that Mr President has taken a leaf from Obama’s tackling of the Boston Massacre and is determined to bring the killer to book.
Schizophrenia is a bitch innit? Or was it?
*I’m not a Psychologist. I’m a Microbiologist. Which is not the same thing, except you can abide Microbes lying on your couch, so the psych profile I tried to paint may be a bit grainy. And..it’s up to you to tell if he went bonkers, or he was really being attacked by ‘mysterious government agents’. *I know the difference between the P22 and the P99.
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