They were on the move in twenty minutes.
Mr. Danjumma sat in front with his driver while the rest of them sat in the back. Samuel and Rufai sat together in the seat directly behind the front seats, the Sergeants sat together to the back of the bus and Alex was by himself in a row of seats midway.
After picking up five passengers at a motor park within the city, four women and one elderly looking man, they hit the interstate road and went racing east for Bornu state. The Toyota Hilton bus was new so it was fully air-conditioned and fast, but they wasted so much time on the road due to traffic gridlock in different areas.
The confusion of traffic along the single lane interstate road was monumental and the many police and military checkpoints only worsened the situation.
The flood of refugees out of war-torn Bornu state was endless. So many fleeing and almost no one going back in. Too many vehicles, cars, buses and even open trailers and lorries, all loaded down with people and their property, were hurrying all at once in one direction, towards the city of Kano, blocking the path of the vehicles headed in the opposite direction, and this was the cause of the terrible traffic jams and utter confusion all along the road.
The refugees trekking on foot were worse off. They were in their thousands, covering every inch of space along the roadside and countryside, hungry-looking men, women and children with all the property they could carry. Some of the families had quit the migration towards the government operated camps in the cities and settled for the open countryside instead. They had pitched open camps and kitchens in clearings out in the countryside and gone into full-time begging right along the roads. Every tree in the vicinity had been cut down for firewood and the beautiful green vegetation of the earth was being destroyed at an alarming rate as the incredible number of refugees foraged for food.
It was like the exudes of the children of Israel from Egypt all over again, only worse this time because there was no organization to anything and no food was dropping down from heaven, though Alex grimly as he stared out the window at a woman in tattered clothes just sitting by the roadside with a dead look in her eyes and four starving children around her, the youngest of whom was a crying toddler sitting in her lap and tugging weakly at one of her exposed dried-up breasts.
So many refugees, but no food, good water supply, security or shelter. So many on the move and nowhere to go. It hadn’t been this bad when he was up here, but then no major city or town had fallen to the terrorists then.
Alex felt very great sorrow deep in his heart and it was for both the land and the people. They were both suffering together.
The journey lasted nearly five hours and no one did any real talking.
Once in Maiduguri, they dropped off the passengers and headed for the safe house.
Looking out the window of the bus at the city, Alex saw that apart from the increased military presence, nothing had changed in the six months since he was last there. The people were going about their business normally, shops and offices were open, motor parks and public vehicles were in business, crowds of people were even in the marketplaces and along the roads. This was how it was here.
Once or twice every now and then, there would be open gun battles on the streets or bomb explosions would rock a part of the city and litter the area with dismembered body parts and horribly mutilated dead bodies. Everyone would go running for cover, but the very next minute, once things quieted again, they would be right out again and back in business like nothing happened. The fact that the city endured very long periods of blackout because it had been cut off from the national power grid long ago didn’t affect business too much, even the university stayed open no matter what.
The Army, the police and the civilian JTF, armed male and female vigilantes, sweated blood day and night to keep the city safe, Alex knew this from firsthand experience, but the devilish tactics employed by the terrorists of using women and children as suicide bombers was simply too mind-bending and impossible to tackle, and this the residents seemed to understand pretty well.
They finally got to the safe-house at about four o’clock. It was in one of the better parts of the city, a nice bungalow surrounded by a high barbed wire-topped fence and gates, which Mr. Danjumma got down to unlock for the Hilton to drive through into the spacious compound.
The house looked like it had been leased specifically for their temporary stay, there were enough rooms to go around but only the most basic furnishing. A simple plastic chair and a thin new mattress on the tiled floor were present in three of the four rooms which had already been designated for Alex, Samuel, and Rufai, in the wardrobes were their Army officers’ camouflage uniforms. The two Sergeants were to share the fourth room that had two mattresses on the floor. In the kitchen was a big fridge, stuffed with frozen ready-to-eat meal packs and a microwave oven to heat them up fast. In the big living room was a round dining table for four, but it looked more like a conference table because of the large tactical maps of the state on the wall close by. A big furniture cupboard with glass panels was against one wall to another side of the living room and visible through the glass were bottles of wine and glasses in one section, first aid equipment in the other.
Mr. Danjumma unlocked the door to a dark room he called the ‘storeroom’ and there were all the equipment and weapons they would use, everything was neatly arranged in rows atop cheap wooden tables. A solid looking metal safe, about the size of a small fridge, was there in one corner.
Mr. Danjumma wasted no time hanging around. Once he showed them all around the house and turned on the big generator that supplied the house with electricity, he handed over the keys to Rufai and took off with his driver in the Hilton for his own lodgings elsewhere.
Samuel had his men secure the compound and check out the two vehicles parked there while he joined Alex and Rufai in the storeroom.
With the bright white lights on now, the three men could see well enough to examine all the weapons and equipment in the storeroom closely and they were completely to their satisfaction. Rufai hid his moves very well as he dialed the combination lock on the safe to get it open, but once he took out the folder that contained their military documents, they all checked it out together. Everything was in perfect order and very genuine. Samuel whistled softly when he saw the high-powered stamps and accompanying signature on them, then whistled again when he saw the neat piles of dollar bills in the black briefcase Rufai handed over to Alex. The envelope containing the message transcripts was there in the briefcase and so also was a nice new Android phone with a big screen. The money was complete and everything was exactly as the Alhaji had said it would be, twenty wads of fifty-dollar bills, fifty thousand dollars each, one million dollars in all.
Completely satisfied with everything, they put it all back in the safe again, leaving Alex only with the transcripts, the phone, and its charger. Rufai relocked the safe and they moved out into the living room to plan.
After studying the large wall maps together for some time, Alex left Samuel and Rufai to update it with the new information provided by Mr. Danjumma’s Army contact and went to sit at the dining table to check out the message transcripts and the phone.
The message transcripts weren’t much, just three computer printed pages, less than a thousand words. Alex read through everything fast, and then he knew exactly where to pick things up with the terrorists. Having already switched on the phone, he picked it up and checked it. There was just one number in the phone’s directory, but nine pictures in the gallery. The pictures were all of the same person.
A young woman.
A young and very lovely Arab woman.
“Rufai, there’s some sort of mistake here. The pictures on this phone are that of an Arab woman, not an African woman,” Alex held up the phone for him to see.
Rufai glanced at the phone once. “Yes, that’s her. Her mother is pure blood Shuwa Arab while her father is of mixed Fulani and Hausa blood. She looks a lot like her mother.”
Samuel stepped closer to take a better look, then whistled softly. He touched a finger to the wide-screen of the phone in Alex’s hand, flipped through the pictures a bit.
“Wow!” he said softly in awe. “She’s stunning! And really loaded!”
‘Stunning’ and ‘loaded’ cut it just right, thought Alex.
The girl was a very well-endowed lush bodied beauty in her early to mid-twenties. Most of her features were Arab but there was much African in the mold of her body. Her flawless, beautiful skin was a golden high-yellow in complexion, very smooth and silky looking. Her long straight black hair reached down almost to her waist, lovely liquid black eyes radiated intelligence and an inner fire, luscious lips very full and inviting. Every feature of her lovely face and skin was clearly Arab except for her small mouth, the red lips were too full. The mouth and a body full of very perfect opulent curves, these were where the African in her blood showed all too clearly. Arab had thinner lips and their women simply didn’t have fabulous figures like these, only black African women did, and that was the ‘loaded’.
The girl was big in build with a very curvy plumpish body that was well-endowed in every quarter; big breasts, flat stomach, and very narrow waist but big widespread hips, large buttocks, and an abundance of shapely thick thighs. She was simply magnificent.
Rufai didn’t seem at all interested in the pictures or the girl. He put the last positional markings on the map with the thin marker then moved to take a chair at the table.
“It’s time to contact the terrorist,” he said as he sat down facing Alex.
Samuel took a chair too and they were all seated at the dining table together.
Alex put the call through to the number on the phone. As the line began to ring, he put the phone on speaker and placed it on the table before him so they could all listen in.
The call was soon answered.
“Ello,” came a hard, heavily accented voice.
“Allah’s peace be with thee,” said Alex in English.
“Who iz zis?” asked the voice.
“I’m the promised negotiator for the girl.”
There was a long moment of silence, and then another person came on.
“You have the money?” asked the new voice in very good English.
“One million US dollars, yes, I do. But I need to know that the girl is still alive and unharmed.”
“Do you want me to cut off some of her fingers so you can hear her screams?”
“No, no, that certainly won’t be necessary,” said Alex quickly. “Just send me some pictures or a short video of her, or even better, let me hear her talk.”
There was a long pause, and then a sharp command in Arabic.
“I’m fine, uncle,” came a woman’s frightened voice.
Alex’s trained ears and brain didn’t pick out any critical pitches in the feminine voice which could suggest its owner was in pain. The girl was very much alive, definitely scared but not in pain. He glanced quickly at Rufai seated directly across the table from him and lifted an eyebrow.
Rufai nodded once. It was the girl.
“You heard her?” asked the voice harshly.
“Yes, I did, thank you. When and where do I bring you your money and take her?”
“Tomorrow morning, ten o’clock. You come to the NNPC filling station in Bama.”
“That could be a problem,” said Alex at once. “Due to the fighting in Bama, the Army has practically sealed off the bridge over the Yedzaeam river. You people already own everything south of the river and I’m in Maiduguri right now, why don’t we meet somewhere along the river and do business? Crossing over at any point shouldn’t be a problem for you.”
The voice snorted. “You are supposed to be military, infidel, find a way to get yourself and my money past all the obstacles in your way and down to Bama tomorrow morning. That is the only way you can get the girl. Come in only one vehicle, and approaching our lines at any point, make sure you have a large piece of white cloth tied to your windshield wipers so it is clearly visible and keep every single one off your lights on, the interior lights, the headlamps, the tail lights and the transfigures, all of them. That is how you will be recognized as negotiators and given safe passage through our lines and through our territory to meet with me. How you come or from which direction, that’s your problem, just be on time and with my money, I’m a man that hates to be kept waiting.”
“I need some solid guarantees of safety,” said Alex. “One million dollars is a lot of money to go carrying around in a war zone where everyone is armed and crazy.”
“Worry about your safety while you are on your side not on ours. We are not thieves here. As I said before, once your vehicle approaches our front lines at any point with the visible white cloth and the flashing lights, you will be recognized as negotiators at once and let through unharmed and unbothered. Mentioning the name of El Soldat is your guarantee of safety anywhere in our territory. An escort will follow you from whichever point you cross over down to our meeting place, and then back out again. Bring the money to me tomorrow morning and you will have your girl.”
The line went dead.
Samuel had gotten to his feet and gone over to look at the map again. There was a worried expression on his face as he turned to the other two seated men, pointing at the map.
“The only NNPC station in the region is right on the Maiduguri-Bama road, but it’s well to the south of the city,” he said. “They’re pulling us deep into their territory!”
Alex sat back in his chair and relaxed. “That was what I was talking about at the warehouse. You didn’t really think El Soldat would come waltzing up here to make the exchange with heavily armed Nigerian soldiers crawling all over the place, did you? We are damned lucky he didn’t invite us to Sambisa forest for a day or two to spend some quality time with General Shekau himself.”
“This could be a trap,” insisted Samuel, coming back to sit down at the table.
“Or a legitimate exchange,” put in Rufai calmly. “Alex has a point. They are all war criminals who are high up on the military’s wanted list and as such would never come anywhere near government-held territory in a hundred years. We must go to them.”
Alex spoke. “Just before we left Abuja, I made some very discreet inquiries from a few old friends of mine over at Military Intelligence and found out that Boko Haram is now leaning fully into the kidnapping business. Their prime targets are the families of the very rich and powerful who they secretly kidnap in deep-lying cities and secretly cart away to their strongholds. Faced with the weakness of the military, their victims are only too willing to meet the ransom demands and so far, Boko Haram has proven to be very discreet and straightforward in all negotiations for the release of the hostages, which is why the general public hasn’t heard a thing about it. Usually, military negotiators quietly go into Boko Haram territory to meet with their top men, once an agreement is reached and the ransom is paid, the hostages are released unharmed and everyone goes home safely. There hasn’t been a single hint of foul play in these transactions till date and their customary requirement for direct contact is that the incoming negotiators announce their presence in their territory by displaying the universal sign of a truce, the white cloth or flag on their vehicle, and also keeping all the lights on at all times while in the territory.”
“So they’ve been doing this for some time?” asked Samuel in surprise. “It’s all normal business routine to them?”
“Yes,” replied Alex. “And I think Rufai here and the big boss back in Abuja already know that which is why they were so willing to embark on this mission in the first place.”
Samuel looked at Rufai but the older man wasn’t bothered in the least. He looked thoughtful.
“That second voice that spoke good English, that was very odd,” said Rufai, frowning. “Those animals are supposed to be complete illiterates and haters of all ways western,” he looked at Alex. “Was that El Soldat?”
Alex nodded. “Yeah, that was him. He’s ex-Algerian Special Forces so he’s about the only one that speaks good English among them.”
Rufai looked shocked. “He was Algerian Special Forces?”
Alex smiled and made a mental note that Alhaji Usman’s connections didn’t extend deeply into the top levels of the intelligence community. “I see your lofty military contacts didn’t know that one at all, eh? Well, that information is kind of classified even among the military’s big shots. Only a handful of top guns in the intelligence community know of it.”
The two men stared at Alex.
“I assume you already have a plan,” said Samuel.
“I always have a plan,” said Alex simply.
“What is the plan?” asked Rufai.
“The plan is to act without trust for any terrorist under any circumstance, and do what they least expect. We go in but at our own time and definitely not through their front door where they will be looking” Alex picked out a marker from the cupful on the desk as he stood up and went over to the wall map. He began to point out positions and travel routes. “We go down the Maiduguri-Bama road and once over the Yedzaeam river, we’re on the outskirts of Bama. We bypass this road, there’s a bank just here, we’ll take this road next to it.” Alex put red dots on the map. “We’ll make our way through this maze of back roads and exit the town at this point,” Alex put another dot on the map and placed a fingertip next to it. “It’s not a well-known route, so we shouldn’t encounter much trouble there if any. The road will take us directly due east and once we get well clear of the town, we’ll cut across the open countryside, heading south until we get to this point,” Alex put an ‘X’ on the map with the marker. “It’s not visible on this map, but there should be a small Fulani herdsmen settlement right there, it’s more like a camp than a village. Heading two miles directly west of there will have us intercept this road coming right out of Bama and heading south…the Zangare-Kure boundary road, and we are directly south of Bama. The NNPC station is just a few minutes’ drive up from there.”
“Seems like you know this entire state very well,” remarked Samuel.
“He should,” said Rufai. “He spent over four years up here and in Adamawa state.”
Alex continued. “Since the fighting is centered mainly in the town itself, we shouldn’t encounter too much hostility to the east and south of it, probably none at all because we’ll be keeping well clear of all roads, villages, and settlements as we move on. The layout of the entire countryside to the east of the town is flat open grassland so we will see any trouble coming at us from miles away and have ample time to decide whether to evade or engage. We will be prepared for anything.”
Samuel was nodding his head in agreement, he looked at Rufai. “Sounds perfect to me.”
“Yes,” agreed Rufai thoughtfully.
The front door opened and Sergeant Efosa entered. He saluted and began his report.
“The two vehicles are very good, sirs,” he said. “The Highlander Jeep is fine, but the Mitsubishi bus is also very good.”
“The jeep is ideal for off-road travel which we will be doing most of the way,” said Rufai. “Since it has three rows of seats and air-conditioning, it will be more comfortable for all five of us. We are better off with it.”
“Not exactly, sir,” said Efosa. The Mitsubishi bus is the original jeep-build model and its clearance level is even better than that of the Highlander. It has a very powerful special kind of engine and power steering too, which makes it a sweet piece of cake on super bad roads. It’s a late-model so it is really very strong and dependable, much better for rugged terrain. The seats are executive and very, very comfortable, a few touches and the air-conditioning will be perfect too. All in all, the bus a killer ride, the only issue is that it wacks more fuel than the jeep, but there are several extra gallons of fuel at hand.”
Samuel took over. “What he’s saying in so many upside-down words is that the old model bus is slightly less fuel-efficient, but generally stronger and more dependable than the newer model jeep on rugged off-road terrains. It also has a modified engine and a few other important technical factors that make it even faster and easier to handle on any terrain than the jeep can be. Personally, I think the bus is best for us since it is more spacious but less flamboyant looking. We are not looking to attract too much attention in a poverty-ravaged region, are we?”
“No, we aren’t,” agreed Alex and looked at the Sergeant. “Does the bus look well used, Sergeant?”
“Yes, sir,” said Efosa. “The jeep is too neat and too recent a model, but the bus is clearly a fairly used old model still in very good shape, and it even has a few dents and scratches too.”
“We’ll take the bus, then,” said Alex with finality.
“When do we move?” asked the Sergeant at once.
“We’ve not fixed a specific timeline yet, but it will definitely be before dawn tomorrow,” replied Alex.
“Take the bus for a spin and listen to the engine,” ordered
Samuel. “I don’t want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere with armed terrorists taking shots at me because some stupid mechanic overlooked something.”
“Yes, sir.” Efosa saluted again, turned on his heels and left.
Rufai looked at Alex. “What time exactly have you in mind as departure time for tomorrow morning?”
“0400 hours,” said Alex. “Up here, day breaks pretty quick and the drive down south will take us about two hours. Darkness will provide us with more cover as we travel through enemy territory, and we need to be within the vicinity of that station by sunrise in order to check out the layout of the area. We need all the strategic advantage we can get since we are going so deep into enemy territory.”
“He’s completely correct.” agreed Samuel.
“Right,” said Rufai, nodding. “Alarms all set for 0300 hours. We must be suited up and seated here to breakfast by 0310 hours tomorrow morning. We gear up together at 0330 hours and be on the move before 0400 hours. Nice work so far, gentlemen. I think I’ll get some much-needed rest now, I’m very tired.”
“Yes, go ahead,” said Samuel. “We’ll be turning in soon ourselves.”
Rufai was already on his feet. “Have a good night, gentlemen.”
“Good night,” said Samuel.
“Night,” said Alex, thinking idly of what it would be like to work directly for Rufai. The guy was obviously a control freak.
Rufai walked over to the other door, got it open and went out, closing it again behind him.
Samuel and Alex sat quietly for a minute and then Samuel abruptly stood up.
“Care for a drink?” he asked Alex, gesturing at the cupboard.
Alex nodded. “A little whiskey will do fine, thank you.”
Samuel went over to the furniture cupboard against the wall, opened the glass panel and examined the half a dozen bottles there. He selected one bottle, got two glasses and came back to the table.
“Premium whiskey,” he said and shook his head as he placed the bottle and glasses on the table. “It’s really good to be rich.”
Alex smiled but said nothing.
Samuel worked the new bottle carefully open and poured out the drinks. He pushed one glass towards Alex.
“Thank you,” said Alex, accepting the glass.
“You are welcome,” said Samuel with a nod and a friendly
smile. He put the bottle aside and sat down with his own drink in the chair directly across the table from Alex, the chair which Rufai had just vacated.
The two men relaxed and drank in silence for a minute as they watched each other.
“So you were really one of the elusive ‘Black Beret’ Special Forces,” said Samuel quietly.
Alex looked across at him, liking him. “Yeah, I was.”
“Your accent, the way you talk. You were one of the few trained directly by the Americans, right? The originals?”
Alex took a drink from his glass. “Yeah.”
“I heard the training program, in general, is pure hell.”
“You heard right,” said Alex simply.
“I bet you did incredibly good in yours.”
“I passed like everyone else.”
Samuel smiled. “A modest man, eh?”
Alex drank his whiskey and said nothing.
“When did you get booted out of the force?” asked Samuel abruptly.
Alex glanced at him again. “Six, seven months ago.”
Alex sighed. “It’s a long story… a complicated one.”
Samuel waited but it didn’t look like Alex was going to tell the long story.
“Mind sharing?” he asked finally.
Alex took a deep breath and let it out in another sigh, then stared into his glass for a moment.
“The killing,” Alex made a vague gesture and looked directly at Samuel. “All the senseless killing of innocent people over here, particularly helpless women and children, the horrible way they’re killed, it kind of gets to you eventually, no matter how highly trained or how prepared you think you are for it. I fought the mental kickbacks for a year, despite the fact that it affected me terribly health-wise, but then one day, at the sight of an entire village, massacred by the terrorists because of the stupidity of just one man who gave the wrong order at the wrong time, I just snapped. I beat that man to a pulp that day, but unfortunately, not only was he my direct commanding officer, he was also the son of a retired Major-General.”
“Yeah, it was that, but it could have been much worse. I spent nearly a month in jail before anyone remembered I had a right to a trial, and then it was a closed-door affair that even I wasn’t allowed to attend sometimes. More charges I didn’t even understand were piled on and just when I was beginning to think I would never see daylight again, a doctor I had been seeing for treatments stepped forward and gave evidence at one of the closed-door hearings. I have no idea what that man said even till today, but it was enough to turn things around for me. Some powerful top brass interceded and the heat began to cool on me. An example still had to be made, nonetheless, and there was a Major-General to be appeased, so I got kicked out.”
“You Black Beret Special Forces types either work directly for Defense or some top-secret Intelligence department even while faking employment under the Army. Everything about you guys is always classified and too confusing, apparently, your court martials are classified and confusing too,” Samuel shook his head. “It must have been very hard for you.”
“It was terrible,” agreed Alex. “But it turned out that all I really need to get back to top form was a long, long rest away from the war. I hadn’t had any such thing in two full years. I was fine within three months but, of course, it was already too late to do anything by then” Alex shrugged. “I just got a civilian job and moved on with life until this job popped up.”
The two men fell silent for a few moments.
“Do you have a family, Alex?” said Samuel after a minute.
“Just my mother, a sister and younger brother, I’m not yet married.”
“I have those too and more, but I also have a sweet little daughter by my fiancée who I plan to marry this year. I take care of all of them. I took this job because I needed the extra money to build a home for my new family and look after them right,” Samuel stared Alex in the eyes. “I want to walk out of this hell hole alive, Alex, and I think so do you too. Our best shot at getting through this mission is to work together as a team and for that to happen, we need to trust each other completely, you and me. Agreed?”
Alex nodded. “Agreed.”
Samuel held out his hand across the table and Alex leaned forward to take it in a firm handshake. The two men sat back again and drank quietly for a while until the sound of a vehicle entering the compound reached their ears.
“Your man, Efosa, he seems very good with vehicles and engines,” noted Alex.
“He’s an engineer, he’s very good with everything mechanical except women. Set a trap with anything in a skirt and it will catch him, arms, legs, and body.”
Alex laughed and Samuel joined in.
The Sergeants soon came in to give their report.
“It’s all very good, sir,” said Garko.
“Better than good,” put in Efosa with the easy tone of an expert who knew exactly what he was talking about. “The more I listen to that engine, the more I like it. It was recently serviced and the entire vehicle is definitely in superb condition. I’ll need to touch up the air-conditioning a bit to make it cooler, and then everything will be perfect.”
“Well, do it now or forget about it completely,” said Samuel. “We move out at 0400 hours tomorrow morning, wake-up time, 0300 hours and you two bastards got the kitchen duty.”
“We’ll fix it right away, then,” said Efosa.
As the two men went out again Alex glanced at his watch. It was five minutes past six. He drained his glass and put it aside, getting to his feet and picking up the phone from the table.
“I need to get some rest.” he said.
“No problems,” replied Samuel. “As soon as the men secure the compound and come in, I’ll get some rest myself, Have a good night.”
“You too, man.”
Alex went off to the kitchen first and checked the fridge. He chooses a pack of ice-cold rice and chicken, warmed it up quickly in the microwave and settled down to eat it with a cold bottle of orange juice. When he finished the food, he dropped the leftovers in the waste bin in the corner, got a bottle of water and a glass cup from the fridge and went off to his room.
Once inside the room with the door securely locked, Alex put the water and glass aside, took off his shirt, and then the vest. He fished out a nylon-like casing from a pocket of the vest, got out the folded thin paper maps inside, unfolded and spread them out on the floor.
The maps weren’t large and there were only four of them, each a perfect square of ten by ten inches. Joined together, they made a comprehensive map of the entire northeast region of the country.
Alex studied the maps carefully before putting them away again in the nylon casing which went back into the pocket slot on the vest. Next, he went for his suitcase in the wardrobe and took the GX-2 phone out from it. The phone was in a compact plastic casing along with its charger. Alex got them out and hooked up to a power socket in the wall. It had been nearly three months since he last used or charged the phone so the battery was completely down. He had a different phone for personal use and it was back in his hotel suite in Abuja where he’d left it. He never went into combat with personal items like a phone which could lead malicious enemies straight to one’s family and home if they got their hands on it.
Alex spent several long minutes with the other phone just staring at the pictures of the girl he was going to rescue. He went through them one after the other, staring at her lovely face, then more at her rich body before going back to her face again. In one picture her liquid dark eyes held him captive for several long minutes… the quiet fire in them, it suggested a woman of inner strength and spirit. Alex felt the powerful desire to possess her grow rapidly within him, but stronger even was the desire to protect her. The thought of her, all alone in some cold, dark hut, tied up and frightened by the terrible armed men around, it upset him strangely. He hoped to God, they hadn’t hurt or broken her in any way, heads would literally roll if they had, but still, it would be most unfortunate.
Alex stared fixedly at another of the pictures for a while, it showed the full length of the girl’s fabulous curvy figure. It was a lovely photo of her dressed in a blue and white blouse top, smooth fitting blue jeans and calf-high black boots, standing by a red Porsche sports car parked in an open square that was obviously in an advanced foreign country which looked very much like the United States. Her exposed long black hair blew freely in the wind and the lovely smile on her gorgeous face was both wonderful and infectious.
Yes, he thought. He would definitely find her and bring her home safely even if it was the last thing he did in this world, even if he had to pursue El Soldat right into Sambisa forest or hell itself. He would make her safe, he promised himself again as he stared at the beautiful angelic face smiling wonderfully at him in the digital photo, stared into those lovely dark eyes for a long time.
With a heavy sigh, Alex finally switched off the phone and hooked it up to charge as well then put all the rest of his things away in the wardrobe, the suitcase, and the vest, his discarded clothes went on hangers.
Dressed only in boxers, Alex went through some special exercise routines before heading into the bathroom to take a cold shower.
His body felt much lighter and fitter now, but Alex know he was still far below the one hundred percent that was full combat fitness level. The energy pills would help for sure.
Out of the bathroom, all fresh and toweled dry, Alex checked the time on his watch. It was ten minutes to eight. He took one of the energy pills from a thin sachet he found in another pocket of the vest, gulped it down with some water and went to lie down on the thin mattress.
In a minute, the drug knocked him out and he went into deep sleep.
To Be Continued…