Mark looked at Jumai then moved his attention from her, she wasn’t his focus now; he had men to deal with. He was not sure exactly how many of them he had to deal with or how armed they were. Did the drug prevent bullet penetration? Would he be able to dodge the bullets? He had too many questions. He would have to find answers to them behind the door.
He felt a surge of pain go through his body and he screamed.
“Mark, are you okay?” Jumai said, grabbing his arm.
He pushed her away and flexed his muscles. For a few seconds he waited as a wave of heat swept across his body; he could take on a thousand men if they stood in front of him right now. He looked at the girl on the ground at his feet, was she an enemy or a friend? She would be so easy to break in two. He laughed. That is Jumai, she is the reason you are doing this! He looked at the girl again, she looked so weak it made him angry. Pick her up and get out of here. He grunted in disgust and picked up the girl.
He stood in front of the door, hoisted the girl on his shoulder and punched the door with both hands. It flew off the hinges and into the room next to his. There were about… – he did a quick scan of the room, there were five soldiers in the room and now their attention was on him. He dropped the girl in a corner and faced the men. They stood slowly, curious about the door that had flown across the room. One of them recovered from his shock and grabbed his gun. Mark jumped across the room and with one blow knocked him unconscious. Mark looked up and laughed; this felt great.
The remaining four men had their guns pointed at him now but their eyes were on their fallen colleague.
“Shall we do this?” Mark said.
He wanted to feel their skull his hands while he broke their spines. Remember you are doing this to get her to safety. He looked at the girl crumpled in the corner, she was crying. He would get her to safety but first; these barbarians.
He ran towards the first one and the gunshots started, now was the moment to show how great he was. He was on top of the soldier before he could fire his first bullet. The other soldiers fired at the spot where he had been, haha; they missed. They soon found his new location and fired at him but he blocked the bullets with the body of their friend. He rushed towards the next one and knocked him over with the head of his colleague, he kicked the guy and he was out. Two to go.
“Wait.” He shouted.
For some stupid reason, the soldiers stopped, guns still pointed at him. He could imagine how afraid they were. He looked at the girl in the corner, he wished she had a camera to record his awesomeness.
“I am clearly outnumbered here, I think I should surrender.” He said.
He went on his knees and put his hands behind his head. The men looked at each other, they were confused. He jumped at one of the men and slammed his fist into his throat. He snatched his gun and fired at the other man and in less than ten seconds they were both down. This was fun. He was sure there were other men outside, he was going to kill them all. Every one of them.
Jumai, she needs to leave this place.
He looked at her and walked over to where she was lying, her face to the ground. She wasn’t impressed with his skill? He picked her up and she screamed.
“Hey shut up, I will get you out of here but not if you continue screaming like a tortured dog.”
“Mark.” She whispered through her tears.
You love her, get her to safety.
He looked through the window and just like he expected, there were men waiting outside. They must have heard the gunshots because they had guns ready. They were on the first floor of a storey building, most of the soldiers were on their floor, all he needed to do was get to the ground fast enough to avoid too much of a fight. Why would he want to avoid too much of a fight though? He grinned.
She would get hurt in a fight, get her to safety.
Damn the voice in his head! He needed to get this girl to safety on time so he could come back for a bigger fight. He held the girl in his left hand and readied himself. He took a deep breath and kicked the door off its hinges. The bullets started flying immediately. He took a step forward and threw the girl over the railings and she flew through the air towards the ground; head first. He jumped after her, grabbed her and landed on his back, the girl safe on his chest.
He stood and ran as fast as he could – which was very fast, away from the house and the soldiers who he so longed to fight. He ran and ran till he got to a forest. He looked behind, he could not even see the house anymore. Here was safe enough, he could drop the girl and go back for the fight.
“Mark.” The girl called him. What did she want now?
“Huh?” He grunted back at her.
“We need to get to the camp, you need to take the antidote.” She said.
“You can’t remain like this for too long, remember what happened to the others?”
What was she talking about? He looked back the way he had come by, he needed to go back and deal with the soldiers. He took a look at the girl and started back towards the house. Go back for her. She needs you as much as you need her. That was it! He was done listening to the stupid voice in his head. He knew what to do and he would do what he wanted now. He grinned and increased his pace; this was awesome.
Mark sat on the car and looked around, this wasn’t as awesome as he imagined. He had not taken as much time, effort or skill as he thought he would to deal with the soldiers. He looked at his right shoulder, blood trickled down from the wound. Deliberately getting himself shot to increase the challenge did not work either; men were too weak. What would he do now? Go into the city and look for more people to fight? He shook his head, what would be the point of fighting civilians? They would be too easy. Maybe he should look for a military barracks. He remembered one of the soldiers made a call before he killed him, maybe whoever he called would come with soldiers.
He felt a squeeze on his face and he rubbed it with his palm; his face felt dry. He jumped off the car and walked into the house, maybe he needed water. He looked around, there was no single water container standing aright; he had done a lot of damage to the house. He found a mirror in one of the rooms and he looked into it. His face looked strange; it was blacker and the part he touched earlier was wrinkled. What was happening?
Remember the other men? You are dying.
No way, he was not dying. He was super-strong and awesome. He punched the mirror and it shattered. He just needed more people to fight, that was it. He needed a fight. He walked out of the house, he would go into town, even if all he had were civilians.
He heard a sound behind him and turned around. His lips parted into a huge smile, there was a truck filled with soldiers slowing to a stop in front of the building. He rolled his fingers into a fist and started to bounce on his toes; Christmas came early. Thank you Santa.
The first soldier out of the truck saw him and cocked his gun. Mark ran towards him and grabbed him by the throat. Another soldier saw them and shot in his direction; he shifted the soldier swiftly and his body took the bullet; perfect human shield. But that was close; the bullet was headed for his stomach. Was he getting slower? Get out of here now! No way. He wanted this, he really wanted this. Most of the soldiers were still in the truck, maybe he could finish them off easily. He went to the front of the truck and pushed it; it moved. Great! He pushed it again and he applied more pressure and soon it was moving away from the house at a good speed. He looked and saw a slope, it was perfect. He pushed the truck to the slope and let it go, it ran down towards God knows what. Some of the soldiers jumped off the moving truck, they would come to him. He turned around and ran back to the house.
There was a different car in front of the house; a hummer. He looked inside the car; it was empty. He heard voices coming from inside the house. A sharp pain shot through his neck and he dropped to his knees. He held his neck and rubbed it; it felt like his face felt earlier. Did it mean his neck would be black and wrinkled too? For the first time, he feared; this was not good.
Get to the camp now!
The camp? The IDP camp! He looked at his palms, they were wrinkled too. Panic shot through him, he was not ready to die. He had to find the girl, he needed her. Jumai. He needed to find Jumai.
The men talking inside the building came out. They were two; a soldier and another man. He knew the man, he was a dangerous man. He killed Baban, you need to get out of here. Yes, he remembered now. The man was the one who brought the soldiers, he was the bad man.
Mark stayed low and crawled around the car. They were a few feet away from him now, he felt pain in every joint in his body but he had no time for self-pity, he needed to make a move now. He rose gently to his feet and jumped at the soldier and with a blow knocked him out. The bad man brought out a gun but he knocked it away before he could use it. The man raised both hands and looked around. Mark knew what the man was looking for but he was not going to find any.
He walked over to the man and grabbed his hand and knocked out a shoulder joint. The man screamed.
“Do you want to die?” Mark growled into the man’s ears.
The man grunted and shook his head.
“You’re going to drive me to the IDP camp. Now move it.”
“I don’t know where it is.” The man said.
Mark pushed the dislocated shoulder and the man screamed.
“Do you know the place now?” Mark asked.
He pushed the man into his car and he climbed in into the backseat. He put a hand around his neck and squeezed it gently.
“This squeeze can get a lot harder if you do any nonsense.” Mark said.
“Your hands looked all wrinkled up.” The man said. “I hope you know that means you are about to die. The kulunix kills you on its way out.”
“Just drive.” Mark said.
He knew the man was right, why didn’t he remember this before? And Jumai, where was she? Where did he leave her? He had to get to the camp fast.
His hands were barely tight and his eyes were already closing when they entered the camp. He was in trouble now, he was sure. Even if General Babatunde who he was sure was already sensing his weakness did not kill him, there was a good chance the kulunix would do it. He needed the antidote but the chance of him finding it before he became too weak to move was low now.
“We are here.” General Babatunde said.
“Thank you General.” Mark said.
“Thank you?” The general said. “The kulunix must have worn off. Would you please get your wrinkled hands off my neck?”
“Not yet. Get me to the office area then you can go.”
“Why on earth will I do that?”
“Because I still have my hand on your neck.” Mark said and squeezed the general’s neck.
Pain surged through his hand and through his body and he let go of the general’s neck. He shouldn’t have squeezed harder, using that extra energy was too dangerous, and it was going to kill him. He rolled in the back seat as his stomach turned and his head burned.
“Well, I guess I don’t have to take orders from you anymore.” The general said. “Now, we will take a trip to my house, I have a little place where I kill people like you.”
Mark looked through the window, the car had turned around. He could not let the general take him out of the camp. He reached for the car handle and opened the door. He jumped out of the car and fell on his face. He mustered all the energy he had and stumbled towards the offices, the antidote would be somewhere there.
Behind him, he heard the car stop and a door open. There was no point stopping to see what the General was doing, he needed to get to the office.
“Mark!” He heard a voice ahead of him.
He looked; Jumai! She was safe! She was here!
He caught a second wind and ran towards her, she ran to meet him too. He smiled, it felt like he was the star of an Indian movie. Except his beautiful Indian princess was a beautiful Nigerian one with a large syringe in her hand. The antidote! He dropped to his knees, he would survive.
A gunshot rang through the camp and for a second it looked like the whole world stood still.
Jumai came back to life first. She screamed, threw the syringe away and grabbed him. She held him and screamed in his ear. Behind her three men with cameras ran towards him – the pressmen he had invited earlier in the day. It felt so long ago.
Jumai held him at arm’s length and he saw blood on her shirt.
“Jumai, you are bleeding.” He said.
A trickle of blood slid down the side of his mouth. He looked down at his stomach, he was bleeding too. His hands felt weak and they dropped to his side.
“Jumai…” He mumbled.
“Shhh, don’t say anything.”
Pain hit his stomach and he crumbled and lay on his back. From the corner of his eyes he saw General Babatunde running back to his car with a gun in his hand. His eyes widened; he had been shot!
“Jumai,” He whispered. “I have been shot.”
“Stop talking Mark.” She was fidgeting with her phone. “One of the cameramen has gone for help.”
“You are doctor, you are the only help I need.”
“Conserve your energy Mark.” She said.
“Conserve it for what? You? I have you here already and that’s all I need.”
“The pressmen got that shooting on camera and I promise that man would not get away with it. My father will make sure of it.”
Mark smiled. He did not care about General Babatunde. Even if they arrested him, there would always be another bad man. With the doctor gone and Baban dead, no one would be producing kulunix anytime soon. He wasn’t dying for nothing. He closed his eyes, he had never felt more at peace.
“Mark, open your eyes.” Jumai said.
Her voice sounded like it came from across a large room, a beautiful large room; heaven maybe.
“Come on Mark, Joey Tribbiani wouldn’t die on me.” She said with a nervous chuckle.
Haha Joey. He laughed and coughed, blood spurting from his mouth. He opened his eyes and looked at her; he could not believe he met her less than a month ago. He reached for her hand and held it. If he could write his life’s story he would title it Jumai. He smiled at his own stupidity.
“Mark.” She said his name so beautifully he wished he could hear it one more time.
He whispered her name softly and it echoed in his mind as his eyes closed for the last time. It would continue to echo, maybe even for all eternity.