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Jordan’s eyes slowly parted open.
The appearances the weary young man saw just as he regained consciousness were strange enough to tell him he was anything but safe.
It was a large tent environment camped over a rather smooth rocky terrain.
The thick dark-coloured tent was lit up on the inside by a number of small powerful led flashlights that scarcely ever reflected on to the outer side of the canvas.
Jordan turned his dim gaze around where he lay against a hard stony surface.
He could make sense of the figures of hardened men puffing up dense fumes through their gaping mouths and broadened nostrils. They were smoking what looked like exotic cigars along with some hemp.
It was perhaps the confluence of the puffing smokes from those Cuban cigars across the paths of maddening scents from the Indian hemp that soon woke Jordan from the unconscious terrains he’d passed into.
He jolted up with an unconscious leg kick at nothing in particular. He realised his arms and legs had both been bound and his mouth sealed with a broad tape.
He mumbled a stifled continuous sound and wriggled himself like a tadpole’s frenetic dance in a quiet stream.
The gang members turned to take notice of him. But some of them only looked his way and continued smoking their cigars or sniffing hemp.
Some left their relaxed state to attend to what looked like delegated duties. Some others merely changed their positions and went outside the tent.
Jordan observed that the young men within the tent weren’t the only ones in the environment. He could hear light murmurs around the tent and a seemingly distant sound of a rolling car engine.
Who were this people? What had he done? Why did they kidnap him? What did they want?
A hundred billion questions went on in his mind.
Perhaps those hardened young men were robbers. Or perhaps they were some cultists or even ritualists.
But what did these devils want? Maybe they wanted his father, yes.
He wriggled in total fright.
A man with a long beard at the root of an oblong face walked up to him, the thuds of his approaching heels beating a sound into Jordan’s heaving chest.
He stooped down. He brushed his beard with his fingers and began weaving a strand or two with some abandon and absentmindedness.
He seemed to be the only one around that kept a long beard, though.
Jordan was a still lump of wood, entirely terrified and frozen.
Maybe… just maybe—maybe these were some Osama Bin Laden! Jordan shuddered. ‘Please, Jesus Christ, help me,’ he breathed heavily.
The man spoke. ‘We are Dragonfire,’ he said. ‘Now, you’re not our target. We want you to bring us Kelvin Babalola. The poet who performed If I was a Terrorist.’
Jordan mumbled and wriggled some more.
The man laughed aloud and halted with a scoff. ‘Call me Kabir,’ he said.
He dipped a hand into his right pocket and took out a silver cased android phone, flipped on the screen, scrolled through the contact list up to a point and clicked on a contact.
He steadied the phone in front of Jordan’s eyes.
Jordan recognised the phone. It was his.
‘You’ll call this boy,’ Kabir whispered matter-of-factly.
The contact name that stood out large was: ‘Poet Kelvin Babalola UA’.
Jordan was dumbfounded. He wished he shouldn’t have saved the name with that much detail.
He stopped and dipped a hand into his left pocket. He drew out a black pistol, laughed maliciously and tucked it back into his pocket.
‘Well, now you know how I play, young man,’ he said with a cold smirk.
Jordan shuddered into calm and bowed himself over.
Kabir raised Jordan’s head with his index finger, reached his hand to his sealed lips and yanked off the tape.
Jordan winced over and grunted. And then he mouthed a wordless ‘Please!’
Kabir held out a finger and crossed his own lips with it.
Jordan shut his lips firmly closed. His handsome face was covered with heavy beads of sweat and his top was drenched in sweat from the neckline to its chest.
Kabir untied his hands and feet.
A tall dark man holding a tablet walked up to them.
He’d probably be in his early thirties. His walking gait had a commanding sense as he approached them.
He got close and stood still.
The way he stood above them with squared shoulders seemed to Jordan as something more like the Pentagon standing over its neighbouring towers prior to the 9/11 tragedy.
Jordan observed him to be the leader.
Kabir crouched further down and lowered his head deference. ‘Boss!’ he kowtowed.
The man stroked his low shaven beard with his forefinger for a while, shaking his head in pity of Jordan.
And then, he shoved a running slide show video from the tablet into Jordan’s face.
‘D’ you know this place at all?’ he blared.
Jordan saw several takes of a hit man in the verandah, balcony and vicinity of their permanent residence in Zaria, Northern Nigeria.
He reasoned his mother and sister were home without knowing a thing.
He gasped in utter fright.
The boss blared on.
‘8, Usman Babayaro Close, Off Al-haji Ahmad Danjuma Mosque, Phase 6B, New GRA, Zaria, Kaduna State.
‘You call home, or anybody on this campus knows anything—and your family dies a slow, painful death!’
Jordan yelled out; a hot stream coursing down his face. ‘What do you want me to do, please?’
The boss merely turned his back and retreated into the darker distance.
Kabir drew out his pistol with his left hand and dialled Kelvin on Jordan’s phone with his right hand.
He placed the call on speaker and stretched the phone over to Jordan. ‘It’s ringing. Tell him in a calm voice to meet you somewhere on campus now. We’ll tail you and pick him up.’
Jordan took the phone and tried his best to be calm.
His lips quivered as he muttered in a barely audible voice. ‘God, please God, help Kelvin.’
Kelvin picked up.
It was Jordan who spoke first. ‘Hello… Hello, Kelvin.’
‘It’s Jordan speaking. Jordan Samuel.’
‘Oh Jordan… Sorry, I haven’t saved your number; I’ll save it when I drop the call.’
‘So… what’s up?’
Jordan stuttered a little. ‘Er… I… I’ll like to see you on something very urgent. Can we meet up, please?’
Kelvin stressed his words. ‘Aw, this is about twenty minutes to ten!’ He resumed on a pretty concerned note. ‘Or is anything the matter? I hope everything’s okay…’
‘Well, er… everything’s pretty well but…’
‘So, can’t it wait till tomorrow morning?’
Jordan looked up at Kabir’s eyeballs. They were glowing like hot embers.
He lowered his gaze to the phone in his hands. ‘Er… I dearly wish so, too; but I’ve really got no choice.’
‘Okay… where do I see you?’
Jordan stammered. ‘Erm… erm…’
Kabir hurriedly reached his hands to a pen and a leaflet close by. He scribbled something on it in a hurry and flashed the piece of paper in Jordan’s face.
Jordan took a look at the piece. ‘Okay… please let’s make it beside SUB.’
‘About now, right?’
Jordan’s voice quivered as he drew out his last words on phone with a slow breath. ‘Thank… you,’ he muttered.
Kelvin didn’t say anything at the other end as Jordan hanged up.
The latter heaved a heavy sigh after dropping the call. He rubbed his hands forth and back. ‘Please… in God’s name…!’
Kabir rose up and turned his back, as he retreated and turned out of the tent.
‘Hey, Johnson; it’s time to get Kelvin Babalola,’ he beckoned to a young man as he turned out.
As though on a cue, everyone got up from their relaxed position and got active with preparations.
The young man Kabir signalled came in soon enough. He stood Jordan up, yanked off his drenched top and handed him a T-shirt.
‘Put this on instead,’ Johnson said with a dictatorial tone of voice.
Johnson’s voice was a rough blare. ‘Let’s head out, young man. It’s time.’
Jordan heard the car engine roll out some more from somewhere that seemed down below.
When he stepped out to the open air, he realised the tent had been pitched on a remote rocky hill on campus.
From where the buildings of the University of Ankara campus can be roughly mapped out.
There was a crack in Dragonfire’s plan, though. A crack they hoped could be managed. But it was soon becoming the cause of a crumble.
Or perhaps not.
Khalid had previously sent a hit man from the group to Jordan’s home in Zaria only a few days earlier.
He’d only got there when the sudden hurried preparations necessitated by the changed deadline demanded the group’s militants to be at the base for a more consistent drill.
Khalid had found of a way to manage things.
He’d come up with the idea of taking footages of the hit man’s presence around the premises of the home without alerting the family.
The hit man registered the family routine and movements and took enough footage to frighten Jordan of their presence in his home in Zaria, Northwestern Nigeria.
Khalid thereafter summoned the hit man down to base in Ilorin, Southwestern Nigeria. To join the other militants in the rigorous drill in readiness for the new deadline that was only a few days off.
And now, Jordan was yet to remember something that could scatter Dragonfire’s plan. Something Khalid and his men never knew.
That Jordan’s mother and Jordan’s sister would’ve been in South Africa by now. And they wouldn’t be in Nigeria, let alone at home, by now.
Jordan had known about her mum’s planned trip to Johannesburg with her sister before he left home.
Jordan simply had to remember now. Only remember.
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Copyright © 2019 by Kayode Olla