*Recap: Dami had an encounter with her mysterious stalker and he left a clue she could use to find him and possibly save Nonso’s life but she knows he wants her in return. Kevin seems to know something that can help Dami discover why she’s being stalked. Natasha tried to quit prostitution but doesn’t have the courage to do so. One night, she met an unusual customer who turned out to be Inspector James.*
8:23am, 22nd May 2016,
I was pacing in the bedroom, too nervous to even think of going to church. Today was the day the Police and I would find my stalker. Chioma was in the room and she too was waiting anxiously for the time we would go to the station. I nearly jumped out of my skin when my phone rang. It was Daniel.
“Dami, are you still at home?”
“Yeah, I am. Chioma and I are leaving soon.”
“I still have a bad feeling about this.” He sighed.
I shook my head. He was always worrying.
“Listen, it won’t be easy but I have to do something. Nonso can’t stay with that lunatic.”
“I agree with that but let the Police go alone.”
“It would raise far too much suspicion. I need to go so he thinks I’m giving in to his demand.”
“Okay, I understand. I just… I don’t want you to get hurt.” He said, quietly.
“I won’t.” I promised him, really believing I could keep that promise.
Hours later, Chioma and I were in a Police van on the way to the address the man had given me. We parked near some bushes several meters away from the building and the policeman in charge instructed me to go ahead. Chioma had to stay behind because the man wasn’t expecting her, just me. The officers were to follow after me minutes after I enter the building and arrest the man. We had three officers with us because they wanted to be discreet.
I got down and took a deep breath to steel my nerves, praying everything goes well. I could the see house from a distance, it looked normal from the outside and I wondered how someone as twisted as the man could live in such a serene environment. I approached the door of the building with my heart pounding in fear, glancing back once to be sure the Police were still behind me. I knocked and waited but there was no reply. That was when I noticed the piece of paper taped to the side of the door. I glanced around before reading it.
Continue down the street and look for the black car. Don’t try to play smart with me, come alone. I’m watching.
I closed my eyes and sighed. I knew it shouldn’t have been that easy. I tried the door handle confirming what I already knew. The door was locked and no one was inside. I glanced up to find a tiny camera right above the door. He really had been watching this whole time. I knew I couldn’t try anything risky like going back to inform the Police, I just hoped they would notice me change direction.
I left the house and continued down the street, looking for the black car but there were several. I carefully checked each car for any clue. As I did so, I discreetly typed out a message to Chioma, telling her about the change of plans. I hoped she would receive the message and inform the Police in time. I’d gone so far down the road that I couldn’t even see the Police van anymore.
I’d just pressed ‘send’ when a car engine roared to life ahead of me. I barely had time to register what was happening before it was speeding in my direction. I turned heel and ran out of instinct but that was useless because it overtook me within seconds and blocked me off from running further.
“Get in!” A voice yelled.
I took several steps back.
He was wearing a mask but what made my blood run cold is that he held a gun in his hand and it wasn’t pointed me. It was pointed at the person sitting beside him. That person was Nonso. His face was badly bruised and he looked half starved.
“Dami…?” He whispered.
“Shut up!” The man hit Nonso roughly and instructed me to get in again.
“Let him go first.” I said.
I hoped the Police were coming. I was trying my best to stall for time.
“You don’t have a say in this. We had an agreement. You come with me and then I let the boy go.” His voice growled in anger.
The gun was too close to Nonso’s head and I could tell that despite his barely conscious state, he was aware of it. Suddenly a gunshot pierced through the air, making me scream. I ducked my head and looked around wildly. The man didn’t shoot, Nonso was still okay.
He swore loudly and pushed Nonso out of the car before reaching out to drag me inside. I struggled desperately as Nonso lay motionless on the ground. The Policemen were running towards us with the van behind them, they were the ones who fired.
“You stupid girl!” The man yelled at me, shooting at the Police with his free hand.
I struggled against his grip wondering how one man could be impossibly strong. One of the officers cried out as he was shot in the arm, his gun fell from his grip and another shot quickly followed, making him crumple to the ground. The sight made me go limp in horror as I stared at the blood draining from his body. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were supposed to rescue Nonso, arrest the man and have it all over within minutes. Not this…
I barely understood what was happening as my body was dragged into the car and the door slammed shut. I was too shocked to protest. As he drove away, I watched as the door of the van was flung open violently and Chioma rushed out, running towards her brother. The last thing I saw before they were out of sight was her holding Nonso tightly as she stared at the car driving away.
I woke up to the sound of soft music playing in the background. It sounded like jazz. I blinked my eyes open and stared up at the ceiling before rolling over to look around. I was lying in a bed with dark blue silk sheets spread over me. I gasped as the events of the day flooded into memory and quickly jumped out of the bed. But my limbs felt clumsy. What on earth was wrong with me?
I heard footsteps approach the door before it swung open and a man walked in. He was dressed in jeans and a dark T-shirt that clung to his frame but I barely recognized him.
“Sweetheart, you’re up.” He smiled at me.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I spat.
He lifted me easily and dumped me back in the bed. I tried to kick him in the face but I couldn’t understand why my body was so slow to react.
“You don’t want to hurt yourself dear, right now, you may be feeling a bit tired.”
My eyes widened in realization.
“What did you do to me?”
“It’s just a little drug I had to inject you with. I knew you would try to get rough.”
What gave him the right to go about injecting me with all sorts? I was about to fling more words in his face when the door opened again. My mouth dropped open in shock and I felt my heart painfully skip a beat in terror.
“K-Kayla?” I whispered.
She glanced at me with an unreadable look in her eyes.
“D-Dami?” She mocked.
“What’s going on?” I asked, shutting my eyes. I didn’t want to believe she had a hand in this.
She bit her lip and looked away playfully.
“Are you sure you want to know all the gory details?”
“What the heck is going on!” I yelled. The drugs hadn’t affected my vocal chords one bit.
A spark of anger blazed in her eyes as she stared at me.
“Fine. Here’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You never had a stalker Dami; at least, not a real one.”
I just stared at her, unable to understand what she was saying.
“The strange texts, the pictures, the kidnap, all of it was planned to scare you into being where you are right now. Didn’t you think about it Dami? You’re not that beautiful or attractive. What could possibly make a man devote all his time and energy to following you around?”
I ignored the sharp sting of her words and tried to get her to reveal more.
“Then why did you do all this? What did you have to gain?”
“It’s simple really. I had a little help.” She shrugged. “Look, don’t be offended Dami but I couldn’t resist the money.”
She looked at me with slight pity in her eyes but I knew nothing was going to change her mind.
“Then who is this man?” I asked, nodding towards him.
“He’s just a hired help playing his part.” She said.
“I can’t say I didn’t take any pleasure in doing so.” He grinned wickedly at me.
I was momentarily speechless; so all of it was a rouse to scare me into running straight into their trap. But I didn’t understand what they wanted me for and what money was Kayla talking about? It was obvious she didn’t plan this alone so who was paying her so much money that she would do such a thing to me?
“Look, don’t worry yourself too much, okay. At least, I can assure you that no one’s planning to kill you. All you have to do is cooperate.” She turned to leave.
“Whatever you’re doing, you won’t get away with this Kayla! You know, I never liked you but now you just revealed that you’re less of a human than I thought!”
In seconds, she’d crossed the room and slapped me across the face.
“Shut your mouth!” She turned to the man beside her. “I think she needs to be quiet now.”
I struggled to move away as he stepped closer with another needle in his hands. I screamed as he injected me with the clear liquid. Moments later, I couldn’t fight the drowsiness that overwhelmed me.
“Lights out, darling.” I heard him say as they left the room.
I tried to blink but my eyes refused to open again and soon everything around me faded out of focus.
Later That Day…
Kayla picked up her cellphone and made a call.
“Sir, I have the girl ready for you.”
“Well done Kayla. You’re getting better at this each time.”
“Thank you, sir.” She said as her lips quirked up in a smile.
“I’ll transfer half a million naira into your account by tomorrow morning. Remember, until you complete our deal, I can’t pay your money in full.”
Kayla was very aware of this, which is why she had quickly gotten him two out of the three girls he requested.
“When do you want me to send her to you?” She asked.
“First thing on Tuesday morning would be fine.”
“Consider it done, sir.” She said as they ended the call.
She laughed in glee at the amount of money that was almost within her grasp. She could already feel the texture of the Naira bills and perceive the distinct smell of new money. When she had met the man at the restaurant and listened to his proposal, she thought he might have been crazy until she began to see the possibility. Nothing could ever be linked to her because she usually made arrangements with total strangers who were professionals at what they do. All she’d had to do to convince the man, who played Dami’s ‘stalker’, was to promise him a good chunk of money and he was good to go.
Kayla picked up her bag to head to work. Two girls down, one to go. She already had her eye on the final girl to complete her task and her mind was working a mile per minute to come up with a new idea to use to capture this last one.
Daniel looked at his watch anxiously for the third time that morning. It was close to 2pm yet Dami hadn’t shown up for work and it was three days since he’d last seen her. She wasn’t even picking up her calls. He prepared himself mentally to venture into the girls dormitory if he had to. Just then, Kevin walked into the employee’s room where Daniel was.
“I need to talk to you.” He said.
“About what?” Daniel replied, distracted.
“It’s about Dami but-’’ His words were cut off when Daniel suddenly grabbed him by the shoulders.
“Tell me what you know.”
“Listen, we can’t talk here. Meet me at this address after work.” He scribbled the words hurriedly before he left.
Daniel stared at the piece of paper, with a deep frown on his face. For a moment, he suspected Kevin might have had something to do with it but quickly banished the thought. After his shift that evening, he set out on his bike. The address was a popular hangout spot where a variety of people were. He sifted through the crowds until he spotted Kevin in a corner.
“Why would you choose this kind of place? I can barely hear a thing.” Daniel yelled as he sat down opposite him.
Kevin was silent as he watched something in the distance. Daniel grew frustrated by the second with his silence.
“Look over there.” Kevin interrupted him.
Daniel glanced behind him to find a group of women laughing and chatting as they sat together in a booth. He turned back to Kevin with a questioning look.
“I’ve come here at least twice a week for the past month and something struck me as odd.”
“What does this place have to do with Dami?”
Kevin sighed and turned his attention back to Daniel.
“Listen, I’m still trying to figure it out myself but last week, I saw Kayla in here and she was with a man.”
“Since when did we start caring about Kayla’s extracurricular activities?” Daniel sneered.
“Ever since I noticed a pattern in which girls at work start going missing.”
“What do you mean?” Daniel frowned and sat up.
“Think about it,” Kevin said. “Each time a new girl is moved to the reserved area, she resigns, loses her job or simply disappears. Only few have stayed on. People like Kayla. What exactly goes on there? Or haven’t you wondered?”
“You might have a point. Remember that girl, Bukky. She resigned didn’t she?”
“Exactly and Natasha was fired less than a day after she started working with VIP.”
“Which other new girl do we have?”
“There’s one… um, Tolani.” Kevin said.
“I suggest we watch her carefully to see what happens to her.” Daniel said. “In the meantime, do you think our boss could have a hand in this?”
Kevin sat back and seemed to consider it. “You may be right. After all these girls have one thing in common and it’s that they work for Mr. Hassan.”
“This is way more complicated than I thought.” Daniel sighed. “But we have to do something. If Dami truly is in more danger than I thought, then there’s no way we can sit back.”
“I don’t plan to do so… not again.” Kevin said quietly with a trace of bitterness.
Daniel gave him a questioning look and waited for him to explain.
“Before Bukky left, she came to me and tried to confide in me about something, she said she needed my help but I… I was scared. I didn’t want to be a part of anything strange that was going on. I’m the only child of my parents and what she was telling me sounded dangerous. I remember that day as vividly as if it happened just yesterday. She was upset and tried to talk to me but I didn’t want to get involved with her business so I walked away. I never saw her since that day.” Kevin shook his head sadly. “I can’t help but feel that maybe if I’d done something… I don’t even know what but… only God knows where she is right now.”
9:35am, 25th May 2016,
Natasha woke up with a slight headache that morning and looked around the bright room in confusion. She sat up in alarm when she remembered what happened the previous night. However, the Inspector was nowhere to be found. Beside her on the bed lay a piece of paper.
Call me when you find this and don’t try to evade me. By offering your help with this case, I might reconsider turning you in to the officials a as a drug pusher.
Under the note was a phone number. Natasha sighed and held her head in her hands, wondering how her life got this complicated.
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