Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema
It was the type of night when spirits took over the universe. An impenetrable darkness filled the earth and forms appeared and disappeared, taking fantastic shapes as they did so. The lack of celestial illumination was too sinister to be a mere product of geography. The spirits are really aboard, thought Kyrian Korie; then he mentally kicked himself. Do not be a fool; phantoms exist only in feverish imaginations. But he could not shrug off the feeling that something distinctly evil was in the air. It had nothing to do with the thick forest he was in; he had been in far worse places. Maybe his primordial ancestry was forcing itself on his consciousness? Whatever it was, he had this unnerving conviction that the Mother of Spirits, her wrath unassuaged, had traveled down the road of time from Umuofia to set up shop in their midst.
Korie was leading four of DX’s special agents that night. Only the brightest and toughest made it into the DX, Nigeria’s super-secret service. Leading the agency’s agents was like Zeus superintending over the gods on Mount Olympus. At thirty-three, Korie with the rank of Special Agent 2 was a Zeus among DX operatives.
On this ugly night Korie and his team were closing in on David Crow, the financier whose wealth was fuelling the remaining movement in war-ravaged Tongeria. The Tongeria Liberation Army wanted no part of the current peace talks and it was clear unless Nigeria spearheaded the effort to restore sanity to that country, the entire West African region would be affected by the rabies from the Tongerian dogs of war. Already ECO FORCE, the Nigerian-led regional peace-keeping force, was taking a pounding from the self-styled Liberation Army. So where lay the rebels’ source of strength?
DX uncovered it after months of efficient espionage. Crow, the British billionaire, who lived on arms, diamonds and drugs. The TLA got their guns in exchange for accessing him wide markets in hard drugs. They also fed him with diamonds. The Nigerian government took a decision and Korie and company were smuggled into the rebel enclave to execute the decision.
Beside Korie was the tall and movie-star handsome Femi Adetokunbo. To his left was Musa Nyako, the team’s communications/electronics expert. Moving in from the rear were the stalwart Peter James and the only woman, a sexy but lethal damsel called Lydia Ogoro.
They spread out in the thick bush opposite Yawa highway, clad in jungle-patterned fatigues and armed with lethal weapons. Information put together by DX indicated that Crow would be driven through that road in an armoured vehicle in twenty minutes. To offset the challenge posed by the vehicle Femi carried a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and several armour-piercing rounds. While Korie, Peter and Musa had Uzi submachine-guns, Lydia carried an M-16 rifle equipped with a grenade launcher. They were ready to unleash a full onslaught for Crow would be enclosed in a fortress. On Korie’s unspoken signal they took their positions.
Korie’s unease grew. He checked his watch. Three minutes to go.
One minute. The sky remained an inky blanket.
Two minutes. A heavy stillness filled the earth.
Three minutes. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happened. The highway remained a long stretch of nothingness.
Korie knew the Mother of Spirits was here with them; he felt her diabolical presence. He took a decision.
‘‘Abort. Move out.’’
As each stunned agent reacted to the command over his or her radio the clatter of what could only be fast-moving gun-ships rattled their ears. The
Apocalypse was on their doorstep. Gun-ships were not part of the equation. The high-flying, heavily armoured birds’ lights turned night into day as they opened up with heavy machine-guns and grenades.
DX agents are tough. Even as they burst through the bushes with Carl Lewis-like speed they fought back ferociously. Lydia gunned down a machine-gunner. But it was an unequal battle; the four agents were cut down.
Battered and bruised beyond recovery Korie burrowed into a hole as one of the gun-ships hovered over him.
‘‘Finish the job!’’ he screamed with his remaining strength.
The laughter that boomed out of the gun-ship’s telecommunication system was chilling. It belonged to only one person.No, no; Korie’s mind rebelled against the thought.
‘‘Gaya?’’Gaya was DX’s chief of operations.
‘‘Yes.’’ He did not know he was heard.
Only one question filled Korie’s fast fading heart.
“Simple. Dear David’s cornucopia has put me on the Forbes list. Compare that with a government pension.’’
The horrendous cry that escaped Korie’s lips had nothing to do with the bullets that slammed repeatedly in his trunk. Amazingly he remained on his feet, staring sightlessly into the gun-ship’s lights. Crow and Gaya nearly emptied two rifles in him. What remained of Korie’s body collapsed as his mind blanked out with one thought: the Mother of Spirits has had her fill of blood.
Word count 820
Henry C.Onyema is a Nigerian writer. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.