Happy independence Nigeria!!! Yeah, Nigeria isn’t there yet but we are not where we used to be! We are staying positive! If you are not a Nigerian, please celebrate with us! And in that light, please enjoy today’s episode, comment and share. #MaimedSoul is wrapping up, let us share the love with our friends, online and off… Love you all. Kisses!!!

N.B: We would be doing a little journey back to the Genesis of the problem in this episode (event that took place after Pascal threw Jack and his mother out of the house), so please, don’t get confused. Winks…

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Episode 31

{Flashback – Twenty years ago}

The darkness enveloped them drawing them in until they had the sights of vampires, seeing clearly in the thick dark they were plunged into. Cold seeped into their bodies, going past their flesh to freeze up the frail skeletal bones within as they walked on, on tired feet. Jack snuggled closer to his mother as they walked into the unknown with no destination in mind. Every sound became magnified to their sensitive ears, every movement caused them to jump in fright, yet, the more they looked, the less they saw. No one was about. It had just rained and the ground was wet and slippery. They walked farther and farther away from the place they had known as their place of abode, growing wearier with each step they took. Jack turned his head every now and then, his small frame feeling too frightened of the darkness, but still, having the comforting presence of his mother. He had never been out in the dark so late at night; it felt like one of his nightmares made real. His mother was limping painfully beside him, suffering with each painful step she took. The beating from Pascal had left her battered and in need of serious medical attention. Blood oozed from the sides of her face and she was becoming weaker by the second.

“Mum?” Jack called in concern as he turned his small face up to his mother. “Are you okay mum? Maybe you should rest”

Margaret looked at the concerned look in the upturned face of her son and pulled him closer. Jack drew closer, offering whatever support his small frame could afford. There was no one passing by, the atmosphere was scarily quiet. The tall houses hovered like mountains before Jack’s eyes, the gates seemed too high, like they were hanging a large invisible ‘do not disturb’ tag on it.

Margaret swallowed, taking in the blood from several cuts in her mouth. Her eyes grew blurry and she staggered.

“Mummy” Jack called hurriedly as he held Margaret with small boyish hands. “Do you want to sit, mummy?” he did not care if they sat there on the road till daybreak, all he knew was that he did not want to see his mother in pain. His innocent face was wrinkled with worry as he stared at his mother’s pale face. Margaret managed a weak smile and shook her head.

“I am… ok sweetheart.” She murmured weakly.

“You look tired mum” Jack whined, growing increasingly worried.

Margaret drew herself to her full height, ignoring her pains for her son’s sake. “I am fine Jack” she swallowed the lump in her throat. “Are your legs hurting honey?”

Jack shook his head; mouthing a ‘no’ even though his legs were growing increasingly tired from walking so much. His childish mind was beginning to miss his soft little bed and his eyes ached to fall into a long dreamless sleep, but, thinking like an adult, he knew it was his duty to protect his mother. That is what a good son who loves the mother does, right? And there was no doubt in that regards, he loved his mother dearly.

Margaret saw beyond his negative response, like the intuitive mother that she was and held him affectionately, squeezing his shoulder. “Come son, we would rest soon, let us walk faster now; this place is dangerous at night” she muttered, glancing around. Jack nodded, staying glued to his mother as they walked wordlessly, their feet making the only sounds in the night. After walking a small distance, Margaret raised her head, sighting a large house, fully decorated with flowers encamping it. Judging by the volume of the flowers, she knew it could provide them the shade to cover them from whoever might be passing by. She sighed slightly in relief.

“Look Jack, we would just rest there for a while” she pointed to the flowers ahead and relief washed over Jack’s little face. Margaret glanced around and summoned the last bit of strength to walk the distance, holding Jack close. On getting there, she realized with gleeful happiness that the ground there was also covered in carpet grass. She slipped in there, and pulled Jack in with her when she was sure that the place was a bit better than passing the night on the road. The grass was very wet from the rain, but they had no other choice now, right? With excruciating pain, she pushed herself to a sitting position and Jack quickly dropped onto the grassy floor beside her. It didn’t take a second for their clothes to get soaked. Margaret wondered how they would get through the night with their wet clothes without catching cold. “Come and sit on my laps Jack” Margaret murmured, it would be better if she was the only person with wet clothes.

Jack shook his head vigorously. “You are tired, I would stay on the floor” he murmured as he got comfortable on the floor.

 She watched his determined face and swallowed. “Are you okay Jack?” Margaret asked as she ran her hands gently over Jack’s head.

Jack nodded his head, looking worried. “Your face is very red and swollen”

Margaret swallowed. “It would go” she reassured him. “When it is bright, we would go to your aunt’s place; would you like that?”

Jack smiled, his adventurous face showing his interest. “And I would see Francis?”

Margaret nodded with a smile. “Yes, you would.” She answered. The talk was draining her but she needed to reduce Jack’s worry. The poor boy had never been in this fix before – having to sleep out in the cold – and even though she also had never been in this position before, she knew that it would be harder for Jack. But then, bless his soul, Jack was not complaining like other children might have done. God had indeed rewarded her with the best child any woman could pray for. “Sleep okay?” she whispered as she gathered him to herself until he was resting against her.

Jack put his arms around his mother, holding tightly as he put his head on his mother’s chest. It was his job to protect his mother like every strong boy should and he would definitely do that with all he had. Silence stretched with no one altering it by making the slightest sound. Their individual breathing was the thing that reechoed their ears. They were all alone in the world, or so they thought. Occasionally, Jack would lift his head to look at his mother’s face to gain reassurance that she was still okay. Seconds changed into minutes and minutes into hours, or were they just imagining it? It just seemed like an awfully long time to each of them as they stared into space, both not finding sleep.

“You want me to tell you a story?” Margaret asked gently, hoping that the story would not only get her son to relax but also to lull him to sleep.

“Yes”

Margaret’s fingers found their way to Jack’s hair, brushing against them repeatedly in the soothing manner she knew often propelled him to sleep. “Once upon a time…” Margaret began; but it was the beginning and the end of the story.

The faint light of car headlamps altered the dark serenity causing Sewa to grow still. Who was driving in the night? She hoped to God that whoever it was, passed without noticing them, then, it occurred to her… maybe that was their saving grace. If they could only get someone who would house them for the night, saving them from the harsh weather and dangers of the night, she would be eternally grateful to God. Whoever it was must be kind enough to take pity on them especially when he saw her little son. Besides, how long would she last in her current condition? As the car drew nearer, she realized it was a jeep. Maybe it would not be dangerous to pop out and seek help. Thieves and assassins wouldn’t own a jeep, right? “Stay here Jack” Margaret told Jack as she made to stand.

“No!” Jack refused sharply, standing along with his mum.

Margaret looked at him gently. “Mummy wants to get help for us, wait here Jack”

“I would come with you” Jack insisted stubbornly. He couldn’t bear to be separated from his mother for even a second; his little heart thumped with the fear that something bad would happen to her or to him.

Margaret looked at the fear and sheer determination in her son’s eyes and held him to herself. She shouldn’t leave him; she should have known that he would be more frightened when she wasn’t with him. “Okay honey, stay behind me, okay?” she looked him straight in the eyes and he nodded firmly.

The lights drew closer and brighter as they made out of the flowers to stand by the road side, their behinds dripping water. They carried hopes in their hearts, praying that the vehicle would indeed be their salvation, but Jack was about to realize that the dark night could still get darker. They never should have left their place of hiding. If they had been given the gift of foresight, they would have stayed hidden and pray that the vehicle pass without seeing them; pray that the car rolled by because along with it came evil and misfortune. They would have chosen to endure the cold till daybreak… but things done cannot be undone! The car came to a halt and the back window at the owner’s side of the car lowered to reveal the face of the devil himself – Tunji Banks…

***
PRESENT
***

Jack wiped the lone tear which rolled down his cheek, surprised at the emotions which overtook him. He had thought of that painful day over and over but he had never relived it in such excruciating details. He walked away from the window and dropped the picture on the table. He felt like going for another long walk. How would he forget the torment of that night? How would he purge his mind to forget the trauma, pain and bitterness he felt that night? How would he forgive the world, forgive himself and most of all, forgive the man who had caused him so much pain and bitterness? Could he do it for Lara’s sake? Could he do it for Felix’s sake? Could he throw his quest for vengeance to the wind because of the good people in his life?

His phone rang and he took it out of his pocket, grateful for the distraction. He cleared his throat to wipe out the lump within before answering the call. “Sword” he called stiffly.

“Yes sir, we have located Mrs. Banks’ family”

Everything Jack had thought of before wiped out as he heard that. “Very good Sword. Send them the letter I asked you to draft”

“Yes sir”

Jack hung up with a smile. Well, maybe he would remove Lara from his revenge plans but who says Tunji Banks had to go scot-free? And he didn’t have to do anything bad, did he? All he had to do was give Sewa’s family the right to be at their own daughter’s funeral!

*****
*****
The door of the office bursted open and Tunji Banks marched in, brimming with undiluted anger as he slammed the door shut behind him. Lara who was sitting in her father’s wheeled office chair, turned her own smoking eyes to her father to her father as he stormed in, looking like a man on the verge of going crazy. “What the hell is the meaning of the nonsense you just displayed there?” he roared, his voice bouncing off the walls.

Lara stared coldly at him with unblinking eyes. “It didn’t look like I was the one displaying the nonsense” she retorted coldly.

“You… you shut up” he yelled crazily as his forehead shone with sweat where he stood, shaking with rage. “Now, you go out there and rectify the havoc you just created.” He pointed to the door with his hand showing tense veins.

“I would do no such thing”

“You would do whatever I want damn you!” he roared. Now Lara was beginning to think he had truly gone insane. He started pacing the length of the office in anger, his eyes roaming everywhere and nowhere, searching the floor for what Lara could not name. “Do you have any idea, how much I worked to get this far? Do you?” he yelled. “Now, you would not spoil it for me with your useless insinuating sharp tongue”

Lara jumped to her feet as anger took over her spine. “It is always about you, isn’t it? Aren’t you ashamed? How can you try to use my mother’s death to win yourself people’s sympathy for election votes? She was your wife!”

“Shut up! Don’t you dare mention your mother before me; you should be glad that I am using her for something. She seems to be more useful to me dead than she was when she was living, breathing and eating my god dammed food”

Lara stared numbly at her father. There was no doubt in her mind; the man before her was nothing more than a filthy beast! She shook her head to discard the painful thoughts. “Where is Nora?” better to stay focused on her reason for coming.

Tunji was pacing, not listening to her. “Do you know the rumours that would fly about when that interview goes live?” he ranted on. “They could begin to dig the real cause of her death, and if they got wind of the fact that your shameless coward of a mother actually committed suicide, my reelection is as good as dead” he looked at the floor with panic stricken face like he could literarily see the ruins of his ambitions laid plain on the tiled floor of the office. “Is that what you want? You want the whole world to mock your mother’s memory?”

“You sound like you care” she muttered with her mouth twisted in irritation.

“I do…” he yelled. “I do care, so now, go out there and smile at the journalists… no, don’t smile… cry. Show them how much your mother’s death means to you… apologize for your behavior and blame it on the nerves. I can even pay them to cut out that part…”

“Stop!” Lara yelled. She stared unbelievably at her father for some seconds, and then shook her head. “I can’t believe mum wasted 26 years with you. How could she cope with a man like you?”

“You think your mother was a saint? No! Your mother was nothing but a complete slut!” he yelled. “Yes! Your mother was a big high-class whore… that’s what she is”

Lara grew still as death. “Do you talk about my mother like that” she warned quietly.

Tunji hooted out in mock laughter. “You think I am lying? Why do you think she killed herself uhn?” he asked with his eyes glowing with mockery. “She was too much of a jellyfish; she couldn’t face the shame of her disgraceful act when I threatened to expose her. She slept with two of my friends! Two! At the same time!”

Lara shook her head. No! Her father was just saying it to torment her, right? Her mother was too upstanding; she wouldn’t do such a thing… right? But the more she looked at it, the more things became clearer. Her mother had spoken of something like this, right?

“You should see the video…” he laughed crazily. “It would rival most of the porn videos on net”

“You taped it?” Okay, she was becoming confused! What is going on here?

Tunji laughed. “The stupid woman. I was testing her and asked her to get into bed with my two friends, the slut jumped at the offer without batting an eye”

“And you taped it to use against her in future” Lara finished, staring at her father in bewilderment. How could she have emerged from a man like this? What her mother had said on her deathbed became understandable now. What mother would want her child seeing something as gory as that? Lara felt the distinct urge to kill her father with her bare hands. He seemed crazier to her by the minute. Too bad Bola and Teresa were not there to stop her!

“I still have the mind-blowing sex tape with me. You either dance to my tunes and go out there to rectify the damage you created or watch the views of your mother’s atrocities rise every second on YouTube. It would seem your mother died in vain, wouldn’t it?”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Oh, don’t dare me Lara. Your mother knew me well, I’ll give her that. She knows I don’t play with my words. Before you know it, your mother would become more popular in her death.”

“Maybe they would think her husband is too weak, he couldn’t satisfy the woman he married” Lara muttered before she could stop herself. Lara watched her father grow pale and rigid before her and paused. Wait a minute… her mouth dropped open as the unspoken truth slammed into her. All along, the truth had been there for her to see, she was just too dumb to see it. Her parents had separate bedrooms for as long as she could remember! There has been no quarrel whatsoever suggesting that her father had a mistress somewhere. Her mother only spent the night in her father’s room on exceedingly rare occasions which Lara was beginning to think was just a charade to cover up the truth. Oh my…

“What did you do to Nora?” Lara diverted her thoughts; she didn’t want to think about the horrifying thing she just discovered.

He became less rigid, covering up thing with a fierce look as if nothing had just happened. “You sent that obnoxious little snail in here, didn’t you? To do what? Retrieve the CD?” he laughed out. “Well, the snail you sent was definitely too slow, she is paying for her sluggishness as we speak”

Lara swallowed; not knowing what he was talking about, but went ahead anyways. “I could report you to the authorities; you could go to jail”

“On what charges?” he laughed. “No charged levied against me is valid as long as I am still on seat”

“Not with the present administration” she said with a twisted smile.

“And what would I be accused of, dearest daughter?”

Lara smiled as she left the place she was standing for the first time, moving towards her father slowly. “How about false assets declaration? You forget that I am your daughter and know your every secret. The assets you declared before your election were all fake, properties owned by different people. How would you explain the properties you currently own now? There is no way you could have acquired them with the money you receive. You could be charged with fraud and redirection of public funds for personal uses. I am your daughter! I would be a strong witness against you in the law court.”

Tunji had gone pale, staring rigidly at Lara. “So what if I did? No one would believe you” he smiled tightly. “You have no proof”

Lara laughed as she walked slowly towards the door. “Oh dad! Again, you forget that I am your daughter; you taught me well” she sighed dramatically and turned back to face her stone-faced father. She dipped her hand into her pocket and produced her phone, waving it in the air like a hand fan. “This is all the evidence I need.” She smiled merrily as Tunji stared at the phone like he would expire. “Everything we just discussed has been recorded” the governor blanched. “You wanna hear your voice, daddy?” she drawled as she stared at her phone for a second and tapped the screen. The voices of their heated arguments floated through the room. Lara had never seen anyone whiter! She stopped it and looked coldly at her father. “Don’t try to snatch the phone from me! I have forwarded it to another phone so that I can have a duplicate; I know you dad” she said, then, a merry smile dropped on her face.

“I think the journalists are still there… how interesting would it be to play this to their earing? You would gain more grounds in the election, right?”

“Don’t you dare” he gritted out through clenched teeth.

“You wouldn’t be issuing the threats dad, I am” she said viciously, her eyes burning like coal. “Now, I want Nora released and brought back to the vicinity in one minute or the entire world would be listening to this recording before the sun sets”

Tunji Banks swallowed. Now, he was sweating for real in the air-conditioned office. Lara should feel remorse for putting her father in this position, but she couldn’t even manage the slightest feeling of sympathy. “Don’t think I wouldn’t do it” she pressed. She had made sure she kept a safe distance between herself and her father. “Just like you, I don’t go back on my word. One minute is ticking…” she looked dramatically at her watch. “What is it going to be daddy?” she raised her brow.

Tunji looked like a defeated lion as he pulled out his phone and placed it against his ear. “Let her go” he murmured and lowered his phone, looking angrily at her.

“If I don’t receive a call from either Teresa or Bola, confirming that they have seen her, I would assume that you are daring me dad, and we both know the consequences” she murmured, waving her phone.

They both stood there, glaring at each other until, Lara’s phone rang and she picked, keeping a close eye on her father. “Babe… we have seen her! Oh God, I have never seen anyone worse…”

“Good” Lara murmured and hung up. She breathed. One hurdle crossed! She crossed over to a chair and dropped into it. “In the light of recent events, since Nora failed in taking what you claimed she came in here to get, why don’t I take it on her behalf, uhn?” she murmured as she grinned up to the mistake of a father she had, still waving her phone in the air. “Give me the CD!”

#MaimedSoul

Thoughts are Real!
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