With nowhere else to run and being seriously scared out of her wits, Monica Anderson stood with shaky legs in a large auditorium inside an abandoned theatre house she ran into. She was tall, fair complexioned and wore long braides that reached to her shoulders. Her 3 months old baby, Jeff Junior, drew closer to her bosom as he slept peacefully in her arms, completely unaware of his mother’s plight. Monica looked at him with grief written all over her face, she didn’t know or understand why things had taken a sudden turn in her life and that of her child’s. How they moved from stable, normal, everyday life to that of fugitives was still a mystery to her.
It all started with the death of her husband, Jeff Anderson. Her first contact with Jeff was on facebook. At first it was just an ordinary friendship until he started making advances. Monica was not the type to engage in online dating so she ignored him. But when she saw that he was not going to stop, she insisted on meeting him face to face before making any decision. Jeff agreed and they fixed a date.
When the day came, they met at a local restaurant by the beach. Monica was pleased to see how charming Jeff was and that day, she fell, heads over heels for him. They started dating immediately and were so happy and comfortable with each other.
Jeff was everything she hoped to have in a man and even more. Unfortunately, every discusion on family met a brick wall, at least, until Jeff opened up about being an orphan right from childhood. Monica sympathized with him, but she soon got over it.
Jeff was a man who made her think only of him, problems or sad moments were usually, almost quickly thrown aside. Monica was constantly grateful for having him in her life, every day was a dream come true, but soon, they were separated.
Jeff worked for an oil company in the Niger Delta region and as one of the top engineers working there, he was awarded visa to China for industrial training along with some colleagues. The training program was for one year.
Although her friends tried to discouraged her with stories of infidelity about men who went abroad and got married to other women, she did not believe that Jeff would do that to her. She knew her husband very well and was deeply sure that he truly loved her. Cheating was not one of his traits. She remembered when they were still dating, although she got naked in front of him several times and asked him, even begged him to take her, Jeff never did then. All he said was that her virginity was priceless to him and until he married her, he would not take her innocence.
“Wow” She thought then, smiling to herself, “What kind of man would resist a stark naked girl begging to be done?”
You don’t see such men everyday and so to her, Jeff was indeed a man who was trustworthy.
“Nothing would change that.” She whispered to herself, then.
They were still dating when Jeff was awarded the visa for overseas training and because he did not want to come back only to find her with another man, he quickly engaged her, a date was fixed and they both got married two days before the trip to China. Their honeymoon and bedroom activities lasted only two days but it was fun and Monica cherished every moment.
Two months after Jeff left, Monica found that she was with child. Jeff was so excited over the phone when she told him about it and he wished he was with her to support her in every possible way but since he was not there, they agreed that Ella, Monica's best friend's sister would stay with her until after her delivery. After that day, he constantly called to check on her and the baby.
Along the way, something suddenly happened. Something Monica was yet to understand. Jeff stopped calling as he used to and eventually, stopped picking her calls. He would call once a month or twice and he usually sounded dull and cold. Monica sensed that something was wrong but when she asked, she met a brick wall because all he said was “All is well.”
Monica knew all was not well. She began to suspect that he had lost interest in her but since her suspicion was baseless, she let it go. Jeff continued avoiding her and it disturbed her. She voiced her fears to Ella, her late best friend’s immediate younger sister, a private detective and security agent. Ella encouraged her not to think negatively but to have faith. Ella was her back bone. She wouldn’t have gone far without her. When things were so bad, Ella stood for her, through thick and thin she was there and promised never to leave her until Jeff came back.
It was well over a year already and Jeff was back, but not in the way she expected. She hoped to see him well and happy, not receiving his corpse alongside news of the fact that almost everything she worked for was no more, including houses, cars and other landed properties, most of which she inherited from her late father. Some of her companies suddenly folded up too.
Her mother had died when she was only eight years old and her father followed when she was in the university.
At the moment, she was all alone, especially since she was an only child. But things were not so bad at first; she had done well for herself, built up her father’s business and was very successful before she even met Jeff. She could not understand how situations just turned around so fast and so bad.
Monica was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she did not see detective Godwin Oghe, come in through the side entrance with a three step staircase that led to the back stage. His hoarse voice was what snapped her back to reality.
“Hello Monica” he said,
Monica felt the blood drain from her veins as she looked up at him. What was she thinking? Standing in the middle of a large auditorium and thinking about her miserable life? She had been caught by one of them. Soon the others will come trooping in, at least that was how it happened in the movies. She had to try to plead with him, try to make him see things from her own side.
"Please listen to me” she begged, “I did not kill my husband. This whole thing is a complete set up. Why won’t you people believe me? And if you lock me up for a crime I know nothing about, who will take care of my baby?”
“Relax Monica” said the detective as he hastily walked up to her. “We have a mutual friend, Ella. She has managed to convince me that you are innocent of the crime. She called to ask if I knew where you were, I told her yes and she is on her way here now.”
“Well” said Monica, feeling relieved. “If you are not here to arrest me, then what are you here for?”
“I'm here to get you out before the others know where you are. Apparently, whatever you were thinking about didn’t allow you hear the sirens. You better follow me.”
With those words, Detective Godwin turned and started back the same way he came. Monica quickly ran after him with little JJ in her arms. They climbed the three step staircase and went back stage. Once there, they moved on, walked past a narrow passage and finally took a turn that led to a wide and long passage.
Detective Godwin was walking really fast and so was Monica who was right behind him but suddenly, he stopped in his tracks and Monica bumped into him before she even realized he had stopped walking. The Detective stood still for a while, completely motionless, it took a few more seconds for Monica to know that he was listening for any sound or footsteps made by the policemen.
“Are they on to us?” she asked.
“Very soon they will be.” That was all he could say before turning around and pulling Monica back the same way they had come. Monica did all she could to hold JJ firmly in her arms as they went back towards the narrow passage they had past some few minutes ago. When they got close, Ella emerged from the narrow passage, surprising them both. Dressed in her security uniform, hair drawn back into a pony tail and her expression serious, she pulled Monica into a brief embrace.
"Are you ok?" She asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. Thanks to you."
“You two have to get moving Ella.” Detective Godwin said. “There is no time for emotions and affections.”
Ella nodded in agreement and thanked him before pulling Monica into the narrow passage. Monica quickly turned and whispered a heartfelt “Thank you” to the detective before running off with Ella. Though her voice was not so audible, detective Godwin heard her and nodded in response. As he turned around to leave he was shocked to see his superior officer, Inspector Louise standing about 15 feet away from him.
“Hello Godwin.” He called. “Have you by any chance seen our suspect?”
“No” Godwin lied. “Maybe she took off upon hearing our siren.”
“Yes… maybe” Said Louise. “Keep checking, and let me know when you find her.
“Yes sir” Godwin replied, not knowing if Louise actually saw him a few minutes ago with Monica and Ella.
As soon as the Inspector turned his back, Godwin quickly dashed into the same narrow passage Monica and Ella had taken; he had to warn them. Louise was a snake who pretended not to know what was happening and from the way the discussion went, Godwin was very sure that Louise had seen them and secretly sent some of the policemen after the women.
The structure of the theatre was quite complex. Ella did not seem to be able to locate the exit. Monica on the other hand, was beginning to worry because they could hear the policemen and their watch dogs getting closer.
The women moved in circles, trying every door they came across and then finally, they came to a room which had another door at its other end. Out of anxiety, Ella and Monica headed straight for the door a without thinking twice, pulled it open and ran out. Fortunately for them, they ran into a man who happened to be standing in front of the door. They almost lost balance but succeeded in steadying themselves. When they looked up, their hearts almost stopped as they looked into the unwavering gaze of Inspector Louise. His face was void of expression as he looked down at the women. The detective was a tall man in his early forties, fair in complexion and wore a skin cut. He had wide brown eyes that missed nothing in their path.
“I have been expecting you to come back this way” He said. “I just didn’t know it would take this long.”
“What do you mean come back?” Ella asked with unstable breath.
Monica who had briefly surveyed the long passage tapped Ella. “Ella?” She swallowed as she pointed at the direction of the narrow passage through which they went some minutes ago. “We’ve been here before.”
Ella looked at it and cursed under her breath.
“It is un-ladylike to curse” Said Louise with disapproval in his eyes. “Now if you will come with me” He turned and led the way.
“We are not following you anywhere” Ella yelled at his back. “At least not until you say where you are taking us and why you are helping us.”
The inspector stopped on his tracks and turned back to look at them. The barking of the police hunt dogs became louder, a sign that the policemen were getting really close. Louise looked at the women.
“I think it is better you trust me first, and get answers later. What say you?” He then turned and kept going.
Both women looked at each other briefly before following Louise behind. They had not gone far when Godwin came out through the same door Monica and Ella had come through. His eyes widened as he saw them following inspector Louis.
“No! No!” he said to himself before calling out. “Inspector! Where are you taking those ladies?”
Louise turned around to look at him. “Nice for you to join us detective, we have no time to waste, let’s get going before the uniforms get here.”
Totally confused about what Louise was up to, he quickly went along; at least that way, if the plan was to hurt or arrest the ladies, he would be there to defend them.
To be continued....
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