*Recap: Dami’s rescue mission goes unexpected despite the help of the Police and she discovered that Kayla had a hand in the strange things that had been happening. Meanwhile, Natasha has to cooperate with Inspector James on the Human Trafficking case.*
24th May, 2016,
The first thing I heard when I woke up was the sound of a car engine. As I became more alert, I noticed how stuffy the air was and that I couldn’t move my limbs past a certain point. I blinked my eyes open but it made no difference to the darkness. I felt myself being thrown against a hard object and I groaned. That was when I felt the cloth tied around my mouth, preventing me from making any audible sound.
I realized I was trapped in the trunk of a moving car.
Suddenly, all movement around me stopped and I heard the sound of feet crunching gravel. Low male voices spoke in hurried tones and I heard the trunk being unlocked. My eyes nearly watered at the intense light that hit them and I blinked several times. Rough hands pulled me out of the tight space and shoved me forward as a blindfold was tied around my eyes. I walked forward blindly, stumbling several times but my captors didn’t stop to help me find my footing instead they pushed me forward even faster.
After what seemed like forever, we stopped. The blindfold was taken off and I immediately took in my surroundings. I was in a small room which was dimly lit due to the curtains being closed tightly.
“Sit still and don’t move.” The man to my left said before leaving the room.
I couldn’t have even if I wanted to because there was another man standing to my left whose face showed that he was not going to take things lightly with me if I did. Shortly after, the door opened and the man returned. He led me outside towards a row of dark vehicles. However, they were more like spacious vans. My mouth dropped open at what I saw when he opened one of them and gestured for me to get in.
Seated on the floor of the van were several girls squashed together like sardines.
I was shoved into their midst before I could protest and the door slid shut, blocking out daylight. When the van jerked into motion, I fell against a body to my left.
“Sorry.” I whispered, although it was useless. We were already tightly packed against ourselves.
“It doesn’t make a difference.” The female voice mumbled quietly.
For some reason, I felt more alert. The voice was familiar although I couldn’t place it yet.
“What’s going on?” I said.
“They’re moving us again.” She said.
“Again?” I asked.
“Oh, you must be one of the new girls.”
I felt myself grow even more terrified with every moment that passed.
“What do you mean by that? What are they going to do with us?”
“They’re going to take us to wherever the boss tells them and then we continue the business there.”
“Business?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s the part they never tell you until you discover it for yourself. Unfortunately, when I did it was too late to do anything.”
There were a few moments of silence as the van ran over speed bumps and jostled us again.
“What exactly is it that you do?” I asked, already fearing her answer.
Her voice was low and withdrawn when she replied.
“I’m a drug-peddling prostitute.”
I felt my heart sink within my chest.
“And very soon,” She continued. “You’ll be one too.”
We didn’t exchange a single word for the rest of the ride. Hours later, the van jerked to a stop and the doors were opened. As the quickly receding sunlight filtered into the back of the van, I was finally able to see the faces of the girls I’d been seated with for the past few hours. I turned to my left to see the girl whose voice sounded so familiar.
“Dami…?” She whispered.
“Bukky?” I asked in shock.
I couldn’t believe this was Bukky who I hadn’t seen for months after she quit working at the restaurant.
She was about to speak when the men jumped into the van and started pulling us out, forcing us to walk in straight lines as they led us into what seemed like a deserted warehouse building. We were led into a room where a man stood with his back towards us as he spoke to two hefty men. With my eyes, I searched for Bukky amongst the crowd and I found her standing with her head bowed and her shoulders seemed slumped in defeat.
Moments later, the room seemed to grow quiet as he turned around to address us. Our eyes met for only a brief moment but that was enough to set my heart racing in fear because the man standing before me was none other than Mr. Phillips.
“I’m sure a lot of you girls are wondering exactly why you’re here. Well, I’ll make things brief.” He smiled lightly but it was without humor. “You now work for me and that means you do as I say.”
Murmurs spread through the crowd as girls shifted uncomfortably on their feet.
“Of course, there’s always the option to walk away…” He trailed off slowly and looked around at the girls whose faces lit up with hope.
No one moved for a while until one girl straightened up and stepped apart from the group. Several heads turned to follow her movement. She only made it about three steps before I saw him signal to one of the men beside him. Within seconds, the girl was being escorted out of the room. I held my breath and stood still. I couldn’t believe it was really that simple. Minutes later, I heard a sharp scream which nearly made my blood run cold. The girls murmured amongst themselves again and it was easy to detect the fear in their voices.
“Is anyone else interested in leaving?” Mr. Phillips asked with a glint in his eyes. For a moment, his eyes lingered in my direction.
I met his gaze before looking away in fear and disgust. No one dared move.
Few days later, I was to go on my first assignment. I had my phone and all personal belongings seized before I was bundled into a car with about three other girls that night but Bukky was taken in a separate car with two others. The advice she’d given me before she left was simply to comply with whatever they told me to do. I hated it but I decided to go along with her advice until I could find a way out of there.
During the ride, I thought about how Kayla could have planned something like this, tricking me into a dangerous business all because of what she had to gain. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that she had a hand in Bukky’s predicament too.
I felt a sharp tap on my shoulder and turned to find one of the girls staring at me.
“I’ve been trying to get your attention, the driver just told us to get down.”
I shook myself out of my thoughts and got out of the car. There was loud music pumping out from behind the doors of the building and from the look of things, this place wasn’t friendly. Suddenly, there was a sharp sound of shattering glass, which caused me to flinch. Further into the building, I heard male voices shouting at the top of their lungs in a heated argument.
We were led to a section where a cluster of seats were placed and shortly after, various drinks were placed on the table before us. I scanned the labels and found that they were all strong drinks which were foreign to me. I didn’t touch a single one. Later into the night, I noticed a small group of men walk in and head towards us. I held my breath as they came closer because I felt something important was about to take place. They exchanged a few words and handshakes with the driver who brought us before turning to face us.
“Ladies, please come with me.” One of the men said. Although he said it courteously, I could tell that we really didn’t have an option.
We followed him to a spacious hallway where he stopped.
“Which one of you is Dami?” He asked.
I felt my heart leap in my chest. The other girls exchanged glances and I stepped forward nervously.
I wondered what I had done to be singled out. He led me to a room where I found Mr. Phillips seated in a wide armchair, tapping his finger slowly on a desk. He looked up and gestured for me to come forward before signaling for the man to leave.
“You’re one of Kayla’s girls aren’t you?” He asked.
At that moment, something sparked within me.
“By that you mean one of the girls who you trick into this dirty business?” I snapped.
His expression didn’t even change. It remained as cold as ever.
“Listen here, I don’t care what method she uses to get me my girls. All that matters is that I get them. Now you’re going to cooperate if you want to keep yourself in one piece. Is that clear?”
I held his gaze in an intense stare before breaking eye contact. One perfectly arched eyebrow lifted in triumph as he gave me a cold smile.
“Glad that’s settled. However, you need to prove that you’re going to follow instructions from now on, so I’ll give you your first task.”
I looked up, waiting for him to speak.
“I need you to deliver a package for me.” He got up and retrieved a small brown sealed envelope before placing it on the desk. “Here’s the address. It should get there not later than midnight.”
I took the envelope and put it in the purse that came with the dress I was given. It was a form-fitting gown that I would never have worn out of my own freewill.
“Get going.” He said in a dismissive tone, already shifting his attention to something else.
I stood up and gave him a death glare, glad that he couldn’t see me.
“And I’d appreciate it if you stop looking at me in that manner.” His voice nearly made me jump.
I quickly turned and walked out of the room. After searching for the driver but to no avail, I decided to locate the address by myself. I had only roughly an hour to do this if I wanted to ensure my safety and Mr. Phillips didn’t seem like the kind of man who made empty threats.
When it was ten minutes to midnight, I arrived at the apartment building and located the flat number. I knocked and waited for a while as the locks were being undone. Almost immediately, I perceived a horrible stench wafting out of the apartment. A tall, rough-looking man opened the door and gave me a bland look. He looked drunk and barely managed to stand on his feet. In an instant, he reached out an arm and dragged me inside before shutting the door.
“Hand it over, now.” The words rushed out in jumbled tones as he struggled with the shirt he was pulling on.
I fumbled to open my purse but all the contents fell out instead. I bent to pick them up only to be shoved aside as he started rummaging through the items to find the package. I wondered why he was so frantic but found out minutes later when the sirens started. The man swore loudly, grabbed the envelope and ran out the door. I stood there wondering what on earth just happened.
It didn’t take long for me to move though when I heard the sound of footsteps running towards the building. I looked out the window to find some policemen with their guns out, getting closer each second. I needed to think fast. I grabbed my purse and stuffed the remaining contents inside so as not to leave any trace. Next, I located the back exit of the building and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I had only just left the building when I heard the Police barge in through the front door.
I was spitting mad when I returned to Mr. Phillips later that night. He had instructed that I see him immediately after I complete the task.
“The Police were there. I almost got caught. Do you-”
“None of that is any of my concern. Did you get the job done?” He cut in.
My mouth fell open in shock.
“Did you?” He repeated.
I nodded, barely holding in my annoyance.
“Good. Now, what were you saying earlier?”
I narrated the incident with the man and the Police. He just nodded once.
“Like all businesses Dami, there are risks involved. This is simply one of those things. All you have to do is make sure you do not get caught.”
With that, he dismissed me.
24th May, 2016,
Natasha carefully regarded the man seated across her. She’d had a long internal debate on whether or not to make the call to Inspector James but when she remembered that he had evidence that she was involved in drug trafficking, she knew she had no option.
“Thank you for doing the right thing Natasha.” He said, giving her a soft look.
He had seen many innocent victims of drug lords and crooks. He could also tell when one was a willing party or not.
“You promise my identity won’t be revealed? I can’t afford to get in any more trouble please.” She said.
“I’ll do my best to ensure that you remain anonymous, I promise. Just think about all the other girls you’ll be helping.”
With those words and the sincere look she saw in his intelligent eyes, Natasha didn’t want to deny him anything.
“Okay, how do we go about it?” She asked.
“Here’s what I need you to do. I need you to be my eyes and ears. You’ll tell me if there are any new plans, the identity of the customers and most importantly who is running this business. You need to be discreet Natasha because I can’t afford for anything to happen to you.”
Natasha looked up curiously at his words.
“You’re a very important factor in the success of this investigation.” He continued.
She suddenly felt silly for thinking there was another meaning to his words.
“I understand. I’ll do my best.” Just then, her phone beeped with a message alert tone and she excused herself to check it.
The Inspector watched her carefully as she read the message.
“There’s an assignment for tomorrow night and I have to be there.” She said before giving him the details of the job.
They agreed on how to proceed with the plan before parting ways. On her way home, Natasha fervently wished this plan would work out so she could get out of this unhurt and bring those in control to justice.