Lara stared at her captor as he spoke disrespectfully to her dad. No one had ever had the audacity to talk to her dad in such a demeaning manner. Despite her differences with her father, Lara felt enraged that someone could talk to her father with so much disrespect in her presence. However, as the conversation drew to a close, something struck her and her brain went rigid for some seconds. How was this man getting all the information he had? As far as she was concerned, there was no screen or gadget in the dirty room they were which the scarred man used to monitor what goes on in her father’s house, so how did he hear their conversations. The only thing the man was glued to was his smart phone. Could he have CCTV installed on his phone? She hadn’t heard of that technological development. Confusion bubbled up within her as she stared at her captor. But, what if… Oh no! What if someone in the house was passing on the information? She frowned. Who would dare risk his own neck like that? Come to think of it, only an insider could have helped in aiding the kidnapper’s entry. Knowing the tight security of her house as much as she did, she knew that it was nearly impossible to have anyone trespass without being caught. Whoever the insider might be, he or she would have to be very close to her father, she thought. Must be in the same room with her father, listening to him, knowing his every decision! Surely, her mother was already out of the possibilities! Which mother would have her own daughter kidnapped?
Lara bit her inner lip in apprehension. Despite the fact that she never saw eye to eye with her father, she hated the fact that he was suffering so much for her sake. And now, he had to pay 300 million naira to get her back? How would she live this through knowing that 300 million was expended for her sake? She knew that her father would make sure she remembered this every minute of every day. Her father might have strange and upsetting ways of showing it but she knew undoubtedly that he loved her. If only she could escape and prevent the ransom from being paid…
The call ended and her captor removed the earpiece from his ear. He always used the earpiece! “You definitely got your stubbornness from your father” he murmured. “Why can’t he obey simple instructions?”
Lara glared at him. “What of you? Did you also get your kidnapping talents from your father?” she returned.
His eyes flashed with fury and his face distorted to a form that would put the fear of the devil in a human’s mind. “Utter another trash and I would gag you permanently.”
Lara stared back at him unfazed. She had already seen enough of that face of his; she had grown used to it. “If you didn’t inherit this trade, what forced you into this?” she pressed. She relaxed her features and looked more keenly at the man glaring at her. “Is it your scar? Is your scar responsible?” she asked softly.
If she thought she had seen the worst of his face, she was so wrong. His face literarily transformed into that of an animal as he reached her side with two long strides. He grabbed her hair fiercely and jerked it painfully. Lara whimpered in pain. What on earth had given her the idea that sweet-talking might be her escape route? She shook in fear as he continued to pull her hair painfully, making it seem as though it would be uprooted from her scalp anytime soon. “I said shut up, didn’t i?” he barked at her, his foul cigarette and alcohol stinking breath drifted to her nostrils and it took all of Lara’s restraint to keep from wrinkling her nose. Doing that might just be equivalent to digging her own grave.
He continued to glare at her, still holding her hair in a painful grip. Then she looked at him; really looked at him. Somehow, probably because the painful pull of her hair was bringing tears to her eyes and clouding her vision, but somehow, she imagined his face without the scar. It was like editing a picture on Photoshop, but there and then, she knew that once upon a time, he had been a fairly handsome man. She wondered who had been so cruel as to defame a man in such a disastrous manner. Then, instead of feeling hatred, she felt compassion. Somehow, she could see why the human in him had turned bitter. Who wouldn’t hate himself if his face was pretty much sliced in two? Could she even blame him for hating the world and venting out his anger on anyone who crosses his path? She swallowed. She definitely must be losing her mind.
Seeing the look of pity on her face, the scarred man let go of her hair so fast, she fumbled to right her sitting. He walked to the window, opened his pack of cigarette and removed a stick. He put it in his mouth and lighted it.
‘Learn to keep quiet Lara’ she thought to herself. Despite all her troubles, she honestly did not want to die. The smoke from the cigarette drifted to her nostrils and she shook her head to dispel the smell. She was tired, hungry and in need of a steaming hot bath. “Can’t you just leave my hands free? I am not running anywhere” she murmured. Surely, she had a death wish! No response came, only a lengthy drag of the cigarette. She tried another tactic. She just had to get out of this place. How can she sit back and not try to find an escape route? “You know, you can tell me your name. Since we would be staying here together, i should know what to call you” she murmured.
“If I gag you, there would be nothing to call me with” he threatened but to Lara, the threat wasn’t strong enough. She smiled to herself. Certain benefits come from being a woman; a man cannot block you out completely.
“But you are not going to do that, are you?” She sounded frightened by the idea so it wouldn’t look like she was daring him. However, whatever he thought remained unknown to her because he did not dignify her question with an answer. She sighed and tried another ploy. “I am hungry” she murmured. Still, he did not pay her any heed. “Hey… ” she called, trying to get his attention. “Sssss…”
“Would you shut up?” He roared back, finally turning to glare at her. “I should have captured your mother instead; surely she would talk less”
“Or you could have captured my dad and you would have killed each other” she returned, then suddenly remembering that she finally got his attention, she let her face break into a pleading smile. “I really am hungry” she grumbled. If she was to escape, she couldn’t afford to faint on her way out, and judging from the biting state of her stomach, she just might.
“You can starve, I don’t give a damn” he spat at her.
Her face took on a genuinely sorrowful state. “Please… I fall sick if I don’t get something to eat. Please… No matter how small”
For several seconds, she thought he wouldn’t give in to her, that he truly would let her starve to death, but then, he turned and left the room. If only her hands and legs were not tied, this would have been the perfect opportunity to escape. She had been able to scan the environment quickly when she went out to urinate earlier and she knew that the building was surrounded with bushes and tall trees. But she would have to wait. If the scarred man met her in the act of trying to cut off the rope, she would definitely be lowered into the grave she had so diligently dug for herself.
The door burst open few minutes later and he approached her with a small nylon of bread and pure water in his hand. She had never eaten any bread asides sliced bread but she was grateful to have Agege bread. Her captor seemed to be boiling with rage and instead of him to cut off the rope with a knife like he had been doing, he took his time to loosen it. As her wrists came apart, blood rushed back to her fingers and she caressed them back to life. She looked hopefully at her feet and surprisingly, he undid her feet also. “Thank you” she breathed, truly grateful. He looked at her with a deep scowl on his face as she grabbed the bread and ate it hurriedly like someone who had been starving for a decade. He watched her as she ate the bare bread and drank water. Although hurried, she still managed to eat in a signifying manner. Her captor turned to the window again, grabbed a fresh cigarette and drew the heat into his lungs.
For the first time in weeks, Jack decided to drive out with his car. He had missed driving, even if it had been for just a few days. Considering the continuous sneaking in and outs he had been doing lately, he had had to forgo the car for several days. But the sacrifice was worth it! His plans were beginning to fall into place. His arms tightened around the steering. Revenge is best served cold!
He drive for several minutes until he finally arrived at a men’s boutique. He parked and alighted slowly from the car. He put his sunshade over his eyes and walked away from the car, pressing the lock button when he was a few feet from the car. He walked into the large boutique and paused for a second to scan the shop which was filled with various kinds of wears, mostly suits. Taking his time, he pulled away the dark shade from his eyes and moved fully into the boutique. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a slim guy appeared before him, grinning from ear to ear like a gala exhibit doll. Jack stared at him dryly.
“Good day sir, You are welcome to Gentz” he said automatically, making Jack wonder how many times he had repeated that sentence. “I am Collins and would be your attendant today. How may I be of service to you sir?”
Jack stared at the young guy before him for some seconds. “Why don’t I go round to see if I can get something I like?” He murmured, looking dryly at the attendant.
Collins squirmed. “Yes, of course sir” he moved out of Jack’s way to allow him move freely into the boutique. Jack walked on, heading straight for the suits first and Collins tagged along behind Jack. Jack fingered one black suit, turned it and removed it from the hanger, giving it to Collins.
“Excellent choice sir” Collins cooed.
Jack ignored Collins, picking five more suits, all black and exceedingly expensive. Collins had that wide grin permanently pasted on his face which grew wider with each expensive item Jack selected. After spending about thirty minutes in the boutique, Jack paid with his credit card and walked out with Collins carrying the heavy bags containing expensive suits, shoes and wristwatches. After depositing them in Jack’s car, he looked expectantly at Jack, obviously hoping the hopelessly rich gentleman would give him a generous tip, but he was in for disappointment as Jack just entered his car and drove away.
Jack felt satisfied with his purchase. To carry out the mission ahead, he would definitely need clothes which were not only classy but expensive. Remembering the attendant’s expression as he selected those expensive wears, he smiled to himself. No one had any idea of just how wealthy he was, not even the only friend who had forced himself to his life. He had made more than enough money over the years to buy him whatever he needed. It was now time for his wealth to speak for him! He slowed down as the traffic light turned to red. Several sellers moved to the road to quickly sell their goods. He turned his head as a woman, carrying a child on her back approached with pure water on her head. She halted by his car, shouting ‘pure water’. He lowered his glass and called her. She must have been surprised that someone driving his type of car was buying pure water because she paused slightly before rushing to the window. But Jack wasn’t ready to buy pure water. He opened his wallet and took out fifteen thousand Naira. He was sad that that was all the cash he had on him. He stretched it to the woman and the woman seemed glued to the floor, staring at him in confusion. “Take it” he breathed. “Get off the road and take care of your child”
Still she stared at him, then suddenly, her eyes watered and tears started pouring out. Everyone on the road started looking at them as the woman stretched her hand and collected the money. “Thank you sir… God bless you sir…” She said continuously. Jack did not like the emotional display, neither did he like the stares he was receiving. He didn’t even respond to her appreciations as he rolled up the glass. Still the woman remained there, breathing her thanks to the closed window, crying continuously. Thankfully, the traffic light turned from red to green and Jack sped off. He might be cold as ice, but he would never turn a blind eye to a woman struggling to fend for her child.
The tension was so high in the Governor’s house. It was already dark, yet Mr Banks was waiting for his bank manager to bring in the money he requested. Being the governor, he knew he could not get a no for an answer but considering the way EFCC was investigating several individuals and firms, his bank was sceptical about his request to withdraw 300 million Naira. But they couldn’t deny the governor, could they? Especially when he was the one who directly made the request. He knew that he was going against his principles by giving in to blackmail but what could he do? It was his only daughter and child that was at stake. And since it was obvious that the kidnapper was watching their movements, he couldn’t try anything funny. Still, no one had been informed about the kidnap. Only himself, his wife and the two bodyguards were in the know and Mr Banks made sure that none of the guards left his sight for a second. They both had their hands behind them, standing as rigid as statues.
Someone knocked on the door of the small parlor and one of the guards opened it. A maid entered and courtesied. “His excellency” she murmured. “Some bank officials are here to see you”
The governor jumped up. “Yes! Let them in immediately.”
She instantly vanished and minutes later, three men came in, carrying three big ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags. They were all filled to the brim. They greeted the governor with respect, their faces blank without displaying their curiosity as to what the money was meant for. The governor opened all the bags, seeing the bundles of one thousand Naira notes. Wordlessly, he nodded. “I would talk to your manager. You may leave now” he said dismissively and they all vanished as soon as they had appeared. He swallowed and stared at his wife. Mrs Banks dabbed at her eyes and for the first time in a while, she went to hug her husband. “Thank you Tunji. Now, my daughter can return home. If only she wouldn’t be spending this night with those hooligans.”
The governor’s mind was divided. This should be his campaign money! He hated being helpless. Oh…cursed would be the day he set his eyes on the perpetrators of this evil. They would pray for death and find none, he swore to himself.
Silence reigned until the ringing of the phone disrupted the silence, about thirty minutes after the money’s arrival. It was an unknown number and the governor already knew it was the kidnapper. When all these ends, everyone in charge of security would taste his full wrath, he swore again. “Hello” he said aggressively.
“I see you have my money” the voice breathed. “That’s good, I hate sluggish people”
“I would not give in to your demands until I have full proof that you have my daughter with you. Put her on the phone right now”
The voice chuckled. “Oh, I definitely have your daughter here with me dear governor, I can’t wait to get rid of her. Just so you know she is still breathing, let me put her on the phone”
“Daaad” Lara’s voice called loudly over the phone.
“Lara” Tunji gasped. “Lara, are you okay? Don’t worry, we would get you out of there” he rushed.
“No dad, don’t pay any ransom. Don’t” suddenly, Lara yelped painfully.
“Lara…” He yelled but the next voice he heard was the kidnappers.
“This spoilt brat talks too much”
“Don’t hurt my daughter. We would give you the money.”
“Since you already have the money, there is no reason to wait till 12pm. Since I am in a good mood, you can have your daughter back by 7am tomorrow.”
“Oshodi is too rowdy. I am a governor, I can’t be seen doing this. We can choose a place that is secluded.”
The kidnapper chuckled. “I am not stupid dear governor. I chose that market because it is rowdy, that way you won’t be able to do anything funny, but you are not to make the drop. One of those bodyguards should bring the money. He should wait under the bridge for instructions”
Fear crept into the governor’s heart. “What if he drops the money and you don’t release my daughter?”
“You are a Christian right? You should have faith, besides, you don’t have any other choice. Only one bodyguard should take the money there. The rest of you should remain in this room you are in. Any funny moves and your daughter would be the scape goat”
The phone went dead.
Lara opened her eyes gently and relief washed over her when she noticed that her captor was finally asleep. She had waited all night, waiting for him to sleep but it had been a fruitless effort until she herself found herself dozing off. She had tried hard to stay awake but since the man refused to sleep, her tired eyes had drifted off to sleep. Now, as she came fully awake and noticed that the man had finally given to sleep, she knew that if she didn’t make her move now, she would never get the chance. She glanced out of the window and knew instinctively that dawn was near. She looked at the man ahead, but his eyes were closed firmly in sleep, assuring her that he wouldn’t notice anything she did now. With her heart in her throat, she dipped her numb fingers into her pocket and fished out the broken glass she had picked up the previous day. She felt it until she found the sharpest edge, which might still be useless in cutting the thick rope around her wrists, but she had to rely on faith now. She had to believe that something would go right this time.
Careful not to make a sound, she bent back her wrist and started moving the glass back and forth against the rope as effectively as she could. Minutes passed, yet, she didn’t seem to be making progress. She glanced at the man ahead repeatedly as she cut harder against the rope. The glass was biting into her hand and oozing blood from her soft pampered palm, but she couldn’t worry about that now. The ripe started ripping apart and she was dancing for joy within her. After about twenty minutes, the rope finally snapped and joy blossomed in her as she twisted her wrists from side to side till the rope fell apart. She breathed. Careful not to make even the tiniest sound, she used her fingers to undo the rope at her ankles.
When her legs also became free, she lay still for another five minutes to be sure the man was still asleep, then she pushed up to her feet. She tiptoed very quietly on bare feet to the door. She bit her lip nervously as she put her hand to the key and turned it. It made a small squeaking sound. She turned fearfully to look at the sleeping man but thankfully, he was still asleep. With her heart still in her mouth, she pulled the door open inch by painful inch until it was large enough to contain her body, then, without a backwards glance, she pushed out of the door and fled into the bush.
The kidnapper opened his eyes and smiled at the ropes on the floor. He picked his phone and dialed a number. “Yes sir. She had just escaped” he murmured.