Rex rose up immediately he sensed from the sound of her footsteps that she was moving away already, he proceeded towards the entrance immediately, determined to meet up with her and do all it take her life.
Tarasha picked up her backpack in her right hand as she hurried through the passageway, she got to the door and removed the keys from the keyhole before opening. Rex was already stepping into the corridor as she stepped out.
He sent three bullets towards her in quick succession but she was also fast and the door had been closed already. He rushed to the door and tried to open through the handle but it had been locked from outside. He took two steps to the back and placed the focus of gun to the door lock. He fired a shot but it wasn’t enough until he fired the second, the door began to open backward slowly. He stopped it with his leg and pushed it forward a bit. He opened the zip of a small bag hung across his body and took out a cartridge to refill his gun. Then he opened the door slowly again and peeped before stepping out. By the time he got out, Tarasha was not in sight and he saw no traces of the direction she went. He looked around for some seconds before finding something by the wall at the left side of the side yard, the direction which led to the backyard of the house. He stepped down from the stairs but stopped to think instead of following immediately. He wasn’t aware that any bullet had touched her, so he wasn’t sure the blood stain he saw on the wall was from her. And if it was from her, he knew she wouldn’t have been that careless to stain the wall with it. If she had stained the wall then, she must have a plan for him behind. He began to walk slowly towards the place, he took out his extra gun as he went, also making sure his mind and his ears were at full attention for him to hear any sound made and detect the direction.
While he was still moving slowly towards the backyard, glancing forward and backward tactically, a sound went off and was followed by a sudden vibration of the floor. The backyard and the wall of the house facing it went up in flames. Rex was also on the floor and one of his guns had fallen off. He rose up almost immediately and searched for his gun around, he located it and picked it up. Then he turned and began to proceed to the front of the house, he concluded that she must have taken that direction since she placed a bomb at the back. He quickened his steps as he caught sight of the gate.
The gate had been locked from the front when he got there, proving positive that Tarasha had gotten out.
Tarasha could see very few vehicles on the road as she stepped out of the gate. Motorists must have been avoiding the place as the sounds from their gun exchange had changed the peaceful atmosphere totally. She began to walk forward. Luckily for her, a cab appeared and was driving in the direction she was going.
‘Taxi,’ Tarasha waved down the cab man and he brought the car to a halt immediately. She could hear a gunshot at the gate as she walked to the cab, it meant the bomb did not kill the target. She opened the front door of the cab and settled in, placing her backpack on her lap.
‘Madam, where are you going to?’ the cab man asked her but she was looking back through the rear glass. Rex had come out through the gate but did not see her enter the cab. The cab man’s eyes narrowed in fear as he noticed her cloth stained with blood. There were also stains on her face and lines from the mask she had taken off already. He had heard sounds of gunshots where he was driving from and he knew they gun exchange should be around the area but had decided to still take that route when he saw nothing on the road and some vehicles still passing the same place. He quivered in fear, afraid that he might be in trouble. He attempted to take off his seat and leave the car for her but she turned back towards him at that moment.
‘Just drive on,’ Tarasha ordered as she turned to him. Their gaze met and she noticed the fear written all over his face. She also saw the seatbelt he was trying to take off. Letting him out of the car would have been the best but then it would make the person pursuing her suspect she was in the cab. ‘Drive!’ she repeated, this time enforcing her order by showing him her gun.
Rex stepped out of the gate with his guns in his pocket after destroying the gate lock.
‘D–n it!’ He cursed as he looked around but there was nothing outside to suggest the direction in which Tarasha went. He heaved a heavy sigh of frustration, he had missed her again.
He took off his mask and tucked it into his trouser’s back pocket. Then he saw a parked taxi afar driving away from its stationary position. He peered from where he stood, trying to see the passengers in the taxi and determine their number. He saw the driver and only one passenger by the side but couldn’t tell if the passenger was a male or female because of the distance he was looking from. He looked away to the other direction and there was nothing he saw that was of help to him. There were only few cars on the road now and very few pedestrians at the other side of the road, most of them were hurrying and stealing glances at his direction since that was the direction the sounds of the gunshots were emanating from.
His gaze moved to the point where they had parked the cars they brought. He took out a remote control from his pocket and tapped a button to open the doors of his vehicle and make it ready before he got there. He could hear as he crossed the road sounds of police vehicles coming closer.
Still deep in sleep, Stephanie felt a cold hand squeeze her palm and the soft call of her name following after. She tried to continue sleeping but the person called her twice again and stopped. She still attempted to continue from there but then she felt the person shake her hand vigorously. She took in a deep breath and opened her eyes, yawning at the same time.
‘Steph,’ the man called again. She could now see him, he was seated on a plastic chair at her right hand side.
At first, she thought she was still sleeping and was dreaming. She felt more peaceful and healthier than the way she was before the sleep. She stared at the face intently for some seconds, she knew him, she had seen him before but couldn’t remember who he was and where she saw him. She tried to close her eyes again but he shook her hand again and she opened.
‘Steph, you need to listen now, we have to talk. We don’t have all the time,’ the unfamiliar voice said.
She peered at him for some seconds, then she suddenly remembered who he was and where she had seen him. He was the doctor who had come earlier to take out something from under the bed.
‘What do you want?’ she asked, wanting to sound harsh but the strength in her voice failed her. She also tried to sit up but the she couldn’t even move her body except for her head which could turn in different directions.
‘Calm down Steph, I want you to listen carefully to me first…’
‘Doctor!!!’ Steph tried to shout but her voice was so low that even a person standing two metres away from her would not hear her.
‘Don’t stress yourself for now, you can’t do anything until the next two hours.’ Dave said holding her wrist with his right hand and her palm still in his left.
She could feel his palms on her and was disgusted by it but there was nothing she could do to make him take it off, she couldn’t lift up her hand or even shake it. ‘You’ll be caught and punished if you do anything wicked,’ she said in a determined tone.
‘I don’t do wicked things,’ Dave said with a smile. ‘I’m your friend’ he added and then quickly adjusted his seating position to a serious one. He began in low tones, ‘I’ve come to help you but you have to cooperate with me.’ he waited to see her response. She kept a straight face and stared at him with an unconvinced look. ‘The truth is I never had a patient here before like I claimed the other time, I’m not a doctor.’ Dave decided to start with the truth in order to gain her trust but the look she gave him at his confession was more of increasing distrust. ‘I had to lie then because I had to get out immediately,’ he continued. ‘The doctors here are being forced to do something they don’t want to do and I’ve come to make sure they don’t succeed’. The look on Stephanie’s face turned to one of suspicion, she didn’t believe anything he was saying. ‘The last medication they gave you was to make you lose your memory so that you’ll forget everything about Samantha Osman and what about to you during the last three weeks.’
Anger was now showing on Stephanie’s face, she felt like punching his face as his words which she saw as lies were annoying her.
‘Hey! Stop staring at me like I’m cooking up this. I think we need a test that’ll solve your incredulity.’ Dave said as he relaxed back and dipped his hands into the front pockets of his trousers. He took out a tiny device from his left and an earpiece from the right. He inserted the earpiece plug into the port on the device. ‘Listen, what I recorded was your conversation with the police officers.’ he said as he put the earpiece into her ears.
He didn’t allow her to listen for up to a minute before he removed it. ‘Now, tell me. Why do you think the police wants you to lie to the public about the experience you had with Samantha Osman?’ he waited to hear a response from her.
Stephanie’s eyebrows gathered together as she pondered on his question. She didn’t have an answer for him as she couldn’t understand why the police would want her to hide the truth.
‘You see, I know why and I also know there very desperate to ensure that you don’t speak out the truth to anyone, that’s why they instructed the doctors to make you forget everything that ever happened to you within the last three weeks. That was what they intended for your last medication to do in you,’ Dave explained.
‘Why should I trust you?’ Steph asked narrowing her gaze at him.
‘Okay…’ Dave paused to think for about five seconds. ‘I’m gonna tell you exactly how you feel right now,’ he continued. ‘You felt calm and very sound when you woke up but you were surprised that you couldn’t move your body when you tried to,’ he stated and stared at her for a response but she didn’t look convinced at all. ‘Okay, let me tell you something else.’ he paused shortly again. ‘When you close your eyes and hold your breath for a while, you’ll be able to move your hands and legs while your breath is being held.’
She stared at him distrustingly for some seconds and then decided to test what he said. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. After taking in a deep breath, she held her breath and tried to lift her hand. It seemed heavy at first but then she was able to lift it. She opened back her eyes and stared at him in shock. ‘You said you’re not a doctor, how do you know that?’
‘I know it because I changed the bottle containing the injection liquid, I put something else there.’ he answered.
She frowned and looked confused, she tried to talk but there was nothing to say.
‘Here is what they intended to give to you,’ he brought out the ampoule and raised it up for her to see. ‘But I changed it to something else which is the cause of what you’re feeling right now, but the effects would soon fade away and you’ll be very well without losing your memory at all.’ he explained.
Stephanie was speechless as she continued to stare at him. She didn’t even know what to do, whether to accept what he was saying or totally discard them as lies. But with her inability to move without closing her eyes and holding her breath, there was nothing she could do even if she did not accept his words. Besides, he had been correct when he told her how she was feeling and what to do to move other parts of her body.
‘Here’s what I want to to do,’ Dave continued without allowing her make a conclusion in her mind. ‘The doctors and officers believe that you should have lost part of your memory by tomorrow, so they’re going to put you to test when they come back. You’ll have to act like someone who has forgotten, okay?’
‘Why do I have to act as if I’ve forgotten?’ she asked with a stubborn mind but even she felt foolish after the words came out of her mouth.
‘So that they won’t do something to harm you or even administer the correct drug to you again,’ he answered her. ‘Remember I told you how desperate the officers are to make you not give the accurate account of your experience with Samantha Osman.’
‘But I thought they said she was a criminal, why are they hiding things about her from the public again, why won’t they allow for the truth to be told so that the public can know how she really operates?’
‘I can’t answer that question now,’ he replied. ‘All you have to do is to just act as if you’ve forgotten all that happened during the last three weeks which includes how you were kidnapped, your experience with Samantha and how you were brought here, even all the things that happened today before you were given that injection…’
‘Well, that should be easy to do,’ she cut in with a smile, feeling excited that she was going to be playing a game with the police and doctors.
‘Easy?’ Dave questioned with his eyes wide open. ‘Let’s do a quick test now,’ he looked around briefly. ‘Ermm… I don’t really have anything to ask now,’ he scratched his head. ‘But you just have to make sure you act properly for them not to suspect,’ he said and held her palm in his again. This time she didn’t feel irritated. ‘Did they give you any drug this morning?’
‘Yes,’ she answered.
‘How many tablets and syrups?’
‘About five tablets and just two spoons of the same syrup.’
Dave released her palm from his grip and shook his head unhappily at her, ‘There you go, you’re already missing it. How can you remember that you took drugs this morning with the types and the number when you’re supposed to have forgotten everything?’
‘Oh!’ she closed her eyes, feeling disappointed in herself.
‘These are the kind of questions that’ll be asked and you’ll just blow everything if you give them the right answers.’ Dave said and leaned towards her bed, placing his both hands on each other beside her. ‘When you’re asked any question, take some time to stare blankly towards the ceiling and give a slight frown, you don’t even have to talk, they’ll assume from your look that you can’t remember,’ he offered.
‘Okay, I’ll try that.’
‘Good,’ Dave smiled and held her palm in his once again. ‘You’ll be okay when you wake up tomorrow and I’ll be back to tell you what next to do,’ he said and rose up. ‘Bye,’ he said and tried to move but he felt her grip his hand. He was surprised at first that she was able to do but then he looked at her face and saw that she closed her eyes and held her breath to do so. He smiled.
‘Who are you?’ she asked after opening her eyes and releasing her breath. She met his smiling face.
‘Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Dave, a friend of yours.’
‘My friend, how come I don’t know someone who is my friend?’ she questioned.
Dave smiled again. ‘Every good person is a friend to someone like you. Let’s just say I’m a secret admirer,’ he said.
She observed his handsome face for some seconds, his neatly shaved beards and well carved moustache. His lowly cut hair was black and shining under the white bulb, his oval face had a medium sized nose to complement it. He looked as young as she was and also very slender.
‘But how do you know all these things?’ she asked.
‘You’ll get to know that very soon, just make sure you act well with the police.’
Stainless continued to steal glances at Rex who sat in silence since he got back. He couldn’t tell whether their operation was successful or not as Rex’s face was expressionless. His eagerness to hear what happened was almost getting him crazy. That Don, Stainless and the third person had not returned with Rex also added to his uneasiness. He couldn’t see them dead in his mind, all he thought was that Rex had sent them somewhere else.
‘Stainless,’ Rex finally called after an hour of deafening silence. Stainless sprung up to his feet at once and got to Rex’s front. ‘How many guys do we have left now?’
‘Still nine in total. Five guys here with me and you sent three on an errand,’ Stainless answered.
‘Who are those I sent?’ Rex gave a evil chuckle and then ended it with a growl.
‘Don, Stone and the young guy.’ Stainless replied innocently.
‘They’ve been sacrificed,’ he said what he considered the plain truth. He knew when he sent them ahead of him that they had little chances of returning alive but then he considered the exchange worth it. The lives of the three guys in exchange for Tarasha’s death would have been a huge success for him but someone else had showed up at the wrong time and took the bullets meant for Tarasha.
He roared angrily at the thought of all that happened and everybody around was visibly shaken, even Stainless was deeply terrified. ‘They’re all dead, so count them out,’ he finally said in clear terms to Stainless. ‘How many guys do we have left now?’
Stainless was slow in answering. ‘We have six left now, that includes me.’ he replied in a shaky voice.
‘And we still have the Tarasha’s man right?’
Hope returned to Rex’s heart as he got an idea of what to do next. He had Cole with him and had details enough to make Henry unable to help her. That was all he needed now- nobody to take the bullet for Tarasha or interfere again when it’s time for her death. He never knew he succeeded in getting a bullet into Tarasha’s body and that she was near death at that moment.
An hour after pushing out the driver from the taxi, Tarasha continued to drive without stopping, she couldn’t find any safe place to stop to treat herself and there were even no tools for her to use for first aid. Going to the hospital wasn’t an option, she didn’t have enough strength to force them to treat her and she would even be handed over to the police. She continued to go round in circles until she got very weak. Her hands couldn’t continue to control the steering wheel. She stopped the car and dragged herself out of the car with her bag. She dragged herself on the floor and hid behind the shadow formed by a fence which was next to an uncultivated land.
She laid face flat on the rough floor under the shadow and began to try tearing off her cloth especially the part where the bullet entered. She was still struggling with this when a light appeared over her. She struggled to look up and saw a torchlight being pointed at her face. She heaved a sigh of frustration. She preferred to die rather than being arrested by the police but here was one already.
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