Uche Okpara came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. Shade regarded her with suspicion as she changed into her clothes. ‘What are we going to do?’ she asked.
Uche regarded Soleye who was groaning in pain. She bent down and examined his wound. ‘He will live,’ she said. She entered the bathroom, searched the closet and found a first-aid kit. She brought out a small scissors. Shade regarded her with suspicion as she returned with the scissors and moved in the direction of Soleye.
‘What do you want to do with that?’ she asked.
Uche stood for a moment in contemplation. She cut a strip of cloth from the bed sheet she discarded and turned to Shade. ‘Don’t just stand there, make yourself useful.’ Shade stood there not knowing what Uche wanted to do.
‘Help me lift him to a sitting position and rest his back on the wall.’
Moments later Uche admired the work of her hands. Soleye was bound hand and foot like a goat about to be sacrificed on an evil altar. He opened his eyes and saw the ladies standing over him. ‘You ladies don’t know what you are playing with,’ he smirked. ‘If anything happens to me you will be haunted down until you are disposed like animals.’
Suddenly Uche stepped forward and slapped him hard. He fell and hit his head on the floor. Blood oozed from his mouth. ‘Pick him up,’ Uche instructed Shade. Soleye was placed back in a sitting position. He spat out the blood in his mouth and laughed. ‘Before this night is over you will beg me for death but I will not grant your request.’ He turned his attention to Shade. ‘If you know what is good for you, remove these restraints and let me go and I will allow you keep your pretty face for your boyfriend,’ he threatened.
Shade turned to Uche. ‘I think we should let him go. I don’t want to be involved in this. I can’t do…’
‘Shut up!’ Uche said, cutting Shade off. ‘Your chattering is driving me nuts. I need to think.’
Uche tore another piece of the bed sheet and tied Soleye’s mouth. ‘That should keep you silent.’ She looked around the room and her eyes rested on the door which led to the other room. She opened the door and stepped into the room. Shade followed her.
‘What are you doing?’ Shade asked.
Soleye’s bloodshot eyes followed them.
There were occultic materials strewn across the room. There was a safe in the left hand corner. Uche stepped over the objects on the floor and knelt before the safe. She pulled at the handle. It opened. She looked inside the safe and turned back to Shade. ‘You should see this,’ she said with a smile. Shade bent down and took a peek into the safe. It was filled with bundles of dollar bills.
‘My God!’ she stepped back.
Uche regarded the money for a moment. ‘This is our reward for what that beast tried to do to us.’ She stood up, went into the bedroom and returned with a small briefcase. She threw the case open before the safe, knelt down and began to fill it up with money.
‘What are you doing?’ Shade asked.
‘What does it look like I am doing?’ Uche continued loading the briefcase. It seemed like the case wouldn’t contain all the money. ‘Make yourself useful and find me another case.’
Shade did not move.
Uche raised her voice. ‘Are you deaf? Why are you still standing there? I said you should get me another case from the bedroom,’ Uche said.
‘I can’t do this…this is wrong. This is stealing,’ Shade said.
Uche set the case aside and stood up from the floor. She regarded Shade in annoyance. ‘Let me tell you what is wrong. What is wrong is that diminutive man using charms to bring us to his house without our consent. It is called kidnapping and it is a crime, punishable by law. What is wrong is that evil man trying to use us both for a ritual but somehow we survived it. What is wrong is being drugged, stripped naked, placed on top of his bed and doing God knows what to me. What is wrong is this man touching my body without my permission and trying to rape me. That is what is wrong.’ She picked up a bundle of dollar notes. ‘This money is God’s way of compensating us for the horrors we were subjected to at the hands of Soleye. This isn’t wrong,’ she waved the money at Shade’s face. ‘This is the right thing to do to him. We will take every note in this safe and when we are done here, I will leave him my calling card, a small gift to make him remember me. The next time he sees me coming, that is if he lives through tonight, he will cross over to the other side of the road and scurry away like a scared animal.’
Shade’s mouth hung open in shock as Uche spoke. This wasn’t the intercessor speaking. This was her alter-ego, Trinity speaking through her.
Uche pointed at the door. ‘Now go and find me a case to carry this money.’
Shade left the room. The irony of the situation did not escape her. Uche an intercessor had turned into a thief in the home of an occultist. As Shade searched for a case thoughts ran through her head. Kola should be on his way to rescue her. She doubted that he would believe her story. What would she tell him to make him believe her? She looked at her watch, it was 1:25am. What was she doing in the house of an occultist at this time of the night? She shook her head trying to clear the confusion clouding her mind like the dreaded harmattan mist rolling into the Lagos lagoon. She searched the wardrobe, there was no case in it. She went downstairs to the kitchen and retrieved her phone. Kola could be on his way to get her. She wanted to know when he arrived at the house. Coming out of the kitchen she saw the door to a room and decided to check where it led. She entered the room and opened the wardrobe. She was rewarded with two small cases. She was at the door when she heard a knock coming from the wardrobe. She stopped at the door and turned around. She heard the sound again. Something or someone was knocking on the door of the wardrobe. She came back to the wardrobe, opened the door wide and looked inside. ‘Is anyone there?’ she asked.
The sound came again, this time more insistent. Shade brought out the clothes and threw them on the floor. She searched the surface of the wardrobe and found a tiny hook. She touched it and a hidden door sprang open. Still wondering what was going on she pushed open the door. This couldn’t be real, she thought. Cold sweat broke out and spread all over her body like a rash.
She stepped into the hidden room and regarded the scene before her. Staring back at her, still wearing the clothes she wore at the luncheon was the choir director of the church, Agnes Badejo, tied to a chair.
‘Uche, come quickly,’ Shade cried out.
Uche ran down the stairs, entered the room, took one look at the girl chained down like an animal and swore. ‘This man deserves to die. I will put him out of his misery tonight,’
Shade untied the girl and she collapsed to the floor. She rushed into the kitchen and brought her some water. The girl gulped it down.
‘What happened to you?’ Shade asked her.
The girl took in some deep breaths. ‘Soleye invited me over to his house after the party. I left with my friend but returned an hour later. I thought he was going to give me some money…or something.’ She began to cry.
Uche tapped her feet in a restless rhythm as she stood waiting for her to continue talking. From the guilt written on her face Uche suspected that this wasn’t her first time in the deacon’s lair. She probably came here occasionally but today her luck ran out.
The girl turned down her eyes in shame. ‘He gave me something to drink. I woke up tied to that chair.’ Agnes lifted up her head. ‘Please don’t tell pastor any of this. If he finds out I will be removed as head of the choir.’
Uche shook her head in disbelief. ‘That is the least of your problems. Do you know what Soleye wanted to do to you?’
‘He said he wanted us to have a good…a good time,’ she said.
‘No. He wanted to use you as sacrifice for a ritual. It is God that saved you. Get your things. We are leaving this house.’
Uche headed back upstairs. ‘Uche, please don’t do anything rash,’ Shade warned as she rushed after her. Uche stood at the door and didn’t enter the room. ‘What is it?’ Shade asked behind her.
On the floor lay the thin strips of cloth that Uche had used to tie up Soleye. Uche ran into the bathroom, but he wasn’t there. She checked the room with the safe and occultic materials, but he wasn’t there. The case she filled with notes was untouched on the floor. She came out of the room looking worried. ‘Soleye, stop hiding like the rat that you are and come out,’ she shouted. She was greeted with silence.
Shade looked at Uche with fear in her eyes. ‘Where is Soleye? We have to get out of this house now.’
‘As soon as I am done packing this money.’ Uche bent down and put more money in the case. ‘I don’t know what that rat is up to but I am not leaving this house without this case.’ She shut it and stood up. ‘Let’s go,’ Uche said. When they got to the door, Uche turned back. ‘I forgot something,’ she said. She went back inside the room. Shade peered through the crack in the door. Uche picked up the knife and tucked it in the back of her jeans, then covered it with her blouse. Uche had an intense look on her face when she came out of the room. Shade did not ask her any questions.
They both hurried down the stairs.
‘I will get the girl. Start the car and get it ready. We will join you at your car.’ Uche went into the guest room and Shade entered the kitchen. She retrieved her bag where she abandoned it on the kitchen floor. She checked her phone. There were missed calls from Kola and some unknown numbers. Who could be calling her at this hour of the night she wondered. She brought out her keys and sat in the car, waiting for Uche and Agnes to join her.
‘And where do you think you are going woman?’ someone asked. Shade whipped her head to the side so fast that she hurt her neck. Soleye stood by the passenger’s side of the car. Standing beside him was a huge security guard looking dangerous.
‘We are…we are leaving,’ Shade said.
Uche stumbled out of the house dragging the case behind her. Agnes followed her. When they saw Soleye they froze.
‘Nice of you to join the party,’ Soleye lifted his hand and pointed a gun at Shade’s head. He looked fierce.
‘You and your friends will do exactly as I say or else you will join your ancestors tonight.’
Shade wanted to say something but the sight of the gun pointed at her head choked the words in her throat. Her hands sweated on the steering wheel as she held tightly to it in fright. She cast a glance at Uche who looked calm. Shade wondered what was going on in her mind.
Soleye smiled as he observed the effect his gun had on Shade.
‘You and your friends are not going anywhere,’ the deacon said.
To be continued….