The next day Michael made a call to the preacher after taking a trip to the hospital, he spoke to the him about the funeral service for Jana, he wanted her be put to rest the next day. Michael sent text messages to a few friends and also contacted Jana’s family as well but they said they would not be able to make it because their city, where they lived was on a twenty-four-hour curfew, they permitted him to go ahead and lay her to rest if it would give him peace, though her older sister who was in another town agreed to come for the burial to represent the family.
Jana’s family were very concerned about Gillian and Michael, he told them they were doing fine, they asked him to bring Gillian after the burial to come stay with her grandmother for a while when things calm down.
A funeral service was held for Jana the next day at the church which was not far from the heart of the city, her corpse was moved to the cemetery to be buried. The pastor and his wife, Sabrina, came as did Samantha and Paul who stood beside the bereaved father and daughter, all dressed in black.
Michael gave a short eulogy, everybody felt the distance his heart felt from God in his speech as tears rolled down his cheek, the preacher gave a rather long pro-God speech and in the end he added, ‘if the world has got no spot for Jana down here, God has got a beautiful position for her up above!’ Few friends, office colleagues, and neighbours attended the funeral and all condoled with Michael.
While the funeral service was taking place, Michael noticed someone standing from afar close to a tree within the cemetery. It looked like the man who introduced himself as Hibnus in front of the hotel the other day, so he turned and looked at Paul and as he looked back again no one was standing there, he felt as if his mind was playing tricks on him. Gillian’s aunt came over, she held Gillian’s hand and comforted her and the two were together all the while, allowing Michael to attend to the people who came to mourn with them. Michael turned and saw Sabrina talking to Gillian and her aunt, he saw how Sabrina was able to make Gillian smile even though she was soaked in tears, and Gillian appeared stronger than everyone expected.
As the sympathizers were leaving after the burial, detective Samuel approached Michael with the information that Junior was released on bail, saying there was nothing solid to nail him with but the investigation would continue and he won’t rest till the perpetrators are sentenced and caged. Few other policemen were also seen around as well at the cemetery, the detective gave an assurance to Michael. He promised to do everything in his power to fish out whoever was behind the murder. ‘These are dark times, I want you to know that I will get to the bottom of this case,’ said the detective, with his left hand in his left pocket.
As heavy as his heart was, Michael appreciated the detective’s concern and effort. Detective Samuel handed over some photographs to Michael in an envelope, asking him if he knew these men and after a careful look at it, Michael said he didn’t know them. It was a clear scanned image of the two men from the night of the attack in his house.
‘That’s Felix Martins and Joel Pattoski, we identified them. They came into town the night before the attack on your family and we don’t know their whereabouts at the moment but I put up some men on the search. Now, we don’t want to go all public on this course, we wouldn’t want things blowing out of proportion. They may fly out of the city if we make a wrong move and, off-the-record, I strongly believe they have a connection with Cannon Johnson Jr. but like I said, we’ve got nothing on him for now so we will take it slow and go by the book for now.’ The Detective also added that Junior’s phone was bugged.
Michael asked if he could keep the photos, the detective reluctantly agreed but asked that Michael return it soon.
The details on the men were scanty as the detective kept most of the info to himself and promised to let Michael in on any lead but also made it clear that the authorities would not make any move until there is solid evidence on Junior or anyone connected to it.
Michael knew the detective wasn’t doing the right thing letting him in on some of the information about the crime but it felt good to have someone who was willing to help him nail the killers. So the two men parted ways and Michael went down to meet Paul, Samantha, and Gillian and on their way back to the hotel Michael asked Paul and Samantha to go ahead with Gillian, he then alighted at a junction and walked down into a nearby slum with his head bent.
On entry, he came across a tall fellow, an average street hustler doing his business as usual, another sunny day in the slums. A business that attract minds broken down by depression, minds drowning in their own sorrows and by the state of the society, ‘the drug dealer’ with a big grin on his face on the sight of Michael, a potential law abiding citizen in need of his goods, how the mighty fall he whispered in his thoughts, as the dealer advertised his stash of illegal goods to Michael, holding out samples to him, Michael whispered, ‘I’m not here for drugs’.
Surprised as to Michael’s response he asked, ‘so, Mister, if you do not wish to purchase my vitamins, what can I do you for?’
Michael replied saying, ‘where can I get a gun?’
The conversation continued for a short while and after a careful analysis on Michael, the dealer told Michael that it will cost him a lot.
‘I will double whatever price you put up, I need it,’ said Michael.
The drug dealer smiled and asked Michael to wait for him.
He got back minutes later with a big brown envelope, he looked at Michael and asked if he knew how to use a gun. Michael nodded sadly, the drug dealer pulled out the gun from the envelope and decided to give Michael a little hint on how to use it.
Michael watched and listened like a little kid that was being instructed on how to use a toy gun, he just wanted to have the gun in his hand. The drug dealer told Michael the amount and Michael doubled the money as he promised and paid in cash, the drug dealer then gave Michael some extra bullets as reward for the purchase and the two men exchanged phone numbers. As Michael was about to leave, the drug dealer whistled and said, ‘yo dawg, you’re a nice guy! If you don’t wanna get dirty I can be of hire, it won’t cost much, Big Grandy is the name!’ Michael gave a two finger peace sign in appreciation from afar and walked away with the envelope in his pants without saying a word.
Michael stopped by a shop on his way to the hotel and bought a few things—an extra phone, a sim card, shaving powder, some clothes and a pair of shoes. He got some stuff for Gillian too then took a cab back to the hotel.
On reaching the hotel, Michael met the preacher and his wife, Sabrina. He thought they, too, had moved to the hotel to find refuge because there was a heavy security presence at the hotel provided by some private security company hired by the hotel recently but they explained to Michael that they actually came to see him and to talk to him about something important concerning his life. Michael sat down at the waiting section of the reception, opposite the preacher and his wife, Sabrina, the preacher started by telling Michael that this may sound a bit odd, that when Michael asked him to pray to God about what he was passing through, he did pray for him and got an answer, he even told Michael he had a revelation about him months before he decided to call him around the time he took the two-day trip with his wife and daughter. He went on to tell Michael how God wanted to use him for a much bigger purpose, he told Michael to keep vengeance aside and wait for instructions from God about what He, God, wanted from Michael. Michael almost exploded upon hearing what the preacher had to say, he swallowed his saliva angrily and Sabrina could see how his Adam’s apple moved up and down in rage but didn’t say a word.
Michael sighed, observed, and could tell the preacher wasn’t ready to take his words back. ‘I know how much you care about my family, Pastor James, but this is rather trying times for me and my daughter and I would appreciate it if you stay away from me for now. I understand you are concerned and worried about us, but we will be fine, thank you for your support during the funeral and everything, now if you will excuse me I’ve got better things to do,’ said Michael, as he stood up to go.
Sabrina said, ‘killing whom you suspect will not heal your wounds, Michael, but God can.’
Michael stopped and looked at the couple one by one.
‘The Ambassador asked me to tell you that the gun you purchased cannot solve this nor would it take the burden your heart carries, it is way much bigger than you expect or thought of, Michael,’ she added.
Michael sat down gently and said, ‘how did you . . . I mean, how did he? Who did you say, said what?’
Sabrina gave a warm smile halfway in a concerned manner saying, ‘because the Lord has shown us what is to come and what you must do in order to be healed, the good Lord has spoken, he felt your pain more than you do, Michael, and this battle, this war is bigger than what you think! Give the good Lord a chance to prove himself in your life and use you for the greater good, many would die to have what is bestowed upon you . . . because I have seen it, I was shown what you truly are.’
Michael asked the couple what war they were talking about, the preacher interrupted as his wife was about to talk, he told Michael to meet them at the church for more explanation whenever he is ready to talk, that the hotel isn’t conducive for the conversation.
Michael didn’t utter a word but he made them understand that he will try and come see them, he even offered to get them a room at the hotel just in case the church isn’t safe enough for them but the couple gave him a resounding positive, faithful, and sincerely reply saying,‘in times like these, the church is the safest thus far, Michael,’ they said this in unison, like two people sharing one mind. Michael smiled and thanked them for coming, they, in return bid him farewell and left. He watched them leave the reception as they entered their car and from a distance he watched Sabrina turn and smile at him through the window, so did the preacher through the same window, they waved at him and drove off.
Maybe they were crazy he thought, maybe they were tense and scared about the current happenings in the country or around the world as depicted on the news or maybe he was crazy and everybody was trying to help him get back to his senses, he thought again. But he knew things were getting strange, and as strange as they seemed to be, his attention was on one thing—to get the killers and anybody connected to the murder of his wife, he wanted to make them pay with their lives by any means he could.
Michael had never taken anyone’s life before, not even a fight with the boys when he was young, he was a solid reserved individual and introverted, he didn’t know how that would be done but all he knew was that it must be done and must come to pass! He went through Paul and Samantha’s hotel room and got his daughter who slept off on the couch watching TV but did not tell them anything.
Two days later, while lying on the bed with his two hands behind his head, facing the ceiling, many thoughts came through his mind, many dark thoughts, because he wanted answers. Should he connect Junior with the murder of his wife and if yes, should he go after him and kill him? Who were the two men described and captured by the surveillance camera in the vehicle, why was Mr. Johnson Sr. assassinated and what’s the connection between all these and the strange man he met at the entrance to the hotel the day he got back from the police station? And what were Paul, Samantha, the preacher and his wife talking about or hiding? He gazed longingly at the ceiling and then dozed off.
Gillian had a nightmare that night and appeared to be twisting on the bed calling her mother’s name.
Michael woke up from his slumber and patted her before she calmed and then went back to sleep peacefully but then, he noticed that the glass door that linked the bedroom to the balcony was halfway opened and the cold night wind was blowing the white curtains, he stood up silently and reached for the pistol under his pillow and cocked it with ease as taught by his friend the drug dealer, then moved slowly toward the door.
There was no one there and it seemed he probably did not check the door before he slept off, he could not recall whether he locked it properly or not so he shut it, locked it, and as he turned he noticed a wet footprint from the door through the bedroom and into the living section of his hotel room so he followed it carefully with his gun pointed at the direction he was headed but there was no one there as well, he lowered his gun in a relaxed position, then something cold touched his neck and he could not move, he was frozen and could not flex a muscle but was able to move his eyes round, up and down, he tried to lift the gun up but his entire body was stiff.
A dark figure made its way from behind him and walked to his front staring straight into his eyes and then began to move back like a serpent, Michael watched as one of the chairs in the room moved on its own up in the air and landed in front of him and the dark figure sat on it, this figure had no face but Michael could see something that looked like eyes on the head just like a normal human being, it had the body shape of a woman but without clothes on it, and as the dark figure rested on the chair it called out Michael’s name.
The only source of light was from outside coming in through the windows and the red standby light on his TV and green light from the decoder, Michael was frightened but there was nothing he could do because he was frozen stiff.
The moment it occurred to him that his daughter might not be safe back in the bedroom because he was trapped over here in the living room, he then began to struggle from within but it was tearing him and so he remained still.
‘Don’t fight it, Michael, it’s no use. Don’t worry, she is safe. However, if you want to see her again you know what to do. Fight along on our side and you shall have more than just a wife, a daughter, and wealth or freedom to be,’ said the dark figure in a soft tender female’s voice as she stood up and moved toward him, this time her body transformed to a beautiful naked woman with her dark long hair touching the floor, one he had never seen before and as her shape became clear to him he noticed a short tail slowly wagging behind her and her eyes became clear and blue before him, her forked tongue made its way through her seductive wet lips like that of a serpent, she wrapped her arms around him and threw her mouth at his left ear and kissed it, then her tongue went round his ear from one end to the other, the slimy saliva was on his ears as she moved back looking straight into his eyes, smiling at him with such great admiration, she unbuttoned his pyjamas bending her head to his navel and kissed it, she then sniffed him up to his neck.
Michael was still, shocked and then began to sweat as she removed the gun from his hand, walked by passed him and headed to the bedroom. Tears started to roll down from his eyes and he was able to speak in his mind, ‘please, please, God, no! Not Gillian. She’s all I’ve got, save her . . .’ but still could not move ‘God help me . . . save me . . . Jesus!’ All of a sudden he was free and able to move, he fell to the floor heavily and quickly rose to his feet then ran into the bedroom but he only met his daughter sleeping peacefully. He looked around but there was no sign of anyone, he then spotted the pistol close to his phone next to the bedside lamp on his side of the bed but the door was opened with the wind blowing the curtains again, he shut it close, picked the phone and the pistol then gently dragged a chair and sat opposite the bed where Gillian was sleeping.
He noticed his phone flashing, there was a text message in his inbox so he checked, it was a message from the detective and it read: Martins and Pattoski, Plot 649, Phoenix Crescent, Kuradora. It was an address sent by the detective, from where he sat, the alarm clock read 3:06 a.m. Michael knew the location of the address, he then sent an sms to Big Grandy to meet him at the very place they last met at around eight in the morning and got an ‘okay, boss!’ reply from Big Grandy as if he was expecting a message from Michael.
He also sent another sms to Paul asking him to come down in the morning and help look after Gillian because he intended to go to his office and see some people and explained he got a lot of other things to do that day, he then slept on the chair with the phone on one hand, and the pistol on the other.
The next morning Gillian woke him up, he saw her staring at his hand, he then realised he was still holding the gun so he stood up and hid it behind him.
‘Come on, I woke up like thirty minutes ago, Mr Stallone!’ she said, as she walked to answer a knock on the door.
‘Good morning,’ he said.
She answered but he quickly got to the door before she did, smiling as he tickled her, the two opened the door laughing and it was one of the hotel maids.
The hotel maid came to clean the room, behind her was Paul and Samantha. ‘Morning!’ the two said, smiling.
Michael and Gillian answered and welcomed them in, Michael then explained to the couple that he has got something to do in his office but would be back as soon as he was done and would like them to help look after Gillian while he’s gone, and they gladly agreed to assist. Michael then handed the new phone to Gillian with both numbers saved in both phones respectively, he hugged her and left. Gillian was comfortable with Paul and Samantha, they sat in the room with her watching TV after ordering breakfast.
Michael got a call from the preacher while on his way out of the hotel, the preacher asked him to please try and see him when he could, and Michael agreed but that he would do that later in the day when available.