La Requiem
La Requiem
Author: Judith O.

Part I — Chapter 1: the first wave

A year earlier...

A live broadcast of the President addressing the country was about to hold. In exactly three minutes, he would be on air and I was highly expectant of what he was going to say.

I was sure I wasn’t the only one waiting. Executives, governmental staff, civil workers, and even youths, waited. In short, the entire country expected the nine o’clock news on this fateful day, as we would mark it on the shelves of our history.

Suited for work, I whipped up a cup of coffee and settled myself on the large office chair in my home. The morning sun’s ray slapped me in the face and I grumbled. It had robbed me of the last bits of drowsiness in my eye. I was fully awake. Annoyed, I stood to pull the blinds closed, then I reached for my radio on the table and drew it closer.

I ran through channels, listening in and searching for 92.8fm, the most popular radio station.

I preferred a radio. Like every other millennial, this was what we had grown up with.

Here, most people associated radios with high credibility. The belief was that TV stations faulted for bending to the will of the government despite autonomy. There was no way to gauge the truth, but the majority had worked on this belief. I stood in the middle regarding this matter, though. It was simply the memories it held that affected my choice.

The radio’s crunchy sounds filled the room. I fought the urge to bang the equipment. This wasn’t the time or day for a poor signal, but it had made me remember my childhood. A smile came to my face. I remembered sitting on the front porch of our house, listening to the hottest jams with my father.

My mother sang while making our breakfasts. She would sway her hips to her own tunes and if you asked me, it was the best sound I ever heard. Even playing a hard game of chess with my brother Tayo on Sunday evenings; the memory of it all had made me smile heavier. My home was a warm place to be, but don’t get it twisted; that was in my head, not in reality.

My past defined me. I had a good childhood, and some would say I was a blessing; that my family was lucky. But so many others called me a monster, including my mother.

I lived in a well-furnished, three-bedroom apartment with my dog, Gent, who had only passed away last week. I could afford more, but I wasn’t crazy about luxury. Simplicity was key. There were things on every wall. Paintings, sticky notes, photographs of every milestone I had achieved, and awards gifted to honour the sacrifices I had made in this life. These were the things that made up my home and my entire life.

A part of me wanted to sink deeper down memory lane, but I had found a signal just as soon. The program was in by four minutes when I had tuned in. The host of AM Naija gave the beginning headlines and the feminine voice on air could calm a raging storm and drive to action.

I sat back and waited some more. I had halved the contents of the cooling cup in my hands already.

After a few minutes, she introduced the President, who immediately started off his address.

He started off with a simple premise, mentioning the twin bombings that took place yesterday in the northern parts of the country. Then he identified the culprits.

The Jama’tu Haram pervaded terror even in their sleep. They hunted our dreams every night, and we feared them like they were our gods. They played with lives and properties--the nation was on its deathbed because of these terrorists.

The president had arrived at the body of his speech. He mentioned the kidnapping of the two-fifty-six school girls and my head dipped in anguish. This nuisance needed to stop.

Somewhere in the North, a group of female children were going about their daily lives as boarders, until these scary men raided their high school and abducted them. It was an unspeakable tragedy.

He had concluded his address with an apology and vowed on his father’s grave to stop the terrorist attacks. The president didn’t know yet that a piece of paper and empty words were as useless as chaff.

Comments rolled off as soon as he dropped. His speech didn’t go anywhere in calming citizens, it seemed to aggravate them. They voiced their minds without care, insulting his tenure; some even dared to demand that he stepped down.

Click!

I had to turn it off. I couldn’t listen to anymore of it.

We desperately needed a hero.

I worked for the ICS. It was a government-funded organisation, comprising a special force team and a pool of private investigators. Nothing happening at the top of the ladder could skip our sights and ears. We were a third eye, only summoned officially in state of emergencies, and this was one of them.

The chief of Defence arranged a meeting today at the armed forces barracks. He invited big names like the army, National Intelligence and, of course, the ICS.

I was wary of my fate. Until now, I had never been on the frontiers of any battle. My teammates and I handled mild incidents around the country and now, duty called. A storm was brewing, and we were running towards it, head first.

It neared to ten am on the clock. I quickened my steps. The meeting was scheduled for eleven sharp and my rank expected me to arrive before the time to attend the daily briefings.

I fastened my shoulder gun holster and fixed in the Glock 42 with haste. My black long trench coat had come last.

From a mile away, any eye could sight that I was on edge. I had paused for a short while to regroup before leaving. The Jama’tu Haram was a network of criminals. Webs like that always proved stubborn. It would not be easy.

But I assured myself.

I was strong. My thinking abilities were the best out there and, as a veteran in this line of work, I was going to trust these skills today.

Releasing a long breath, I masked my features into the usual cold and inaccessible look of a typical officer of the law. Then I shut the door of my apartment and began my journey.

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