Caleb shut his eyes in resignation and carefully stepped away from the closing elevator. He was careful not to make any sudden moves, concerned that the men with the guns would only be too happy to make use of them. Even though he knew the game was up, he was not ready to lose all hope. He had taken a risk, but he was not suicidal.
Chief Hanson Briggs took a few more steps in Caleb’s direction, his eyes smouldering with anger, but Benson stepped forward and stopped the man with a raised hand.
“Please, sir, you have to be cautious.” The security head glared mistrustfully at Caleb. “He may be armed.”
Caleb’s eyes widened in disbelief. Armed? They actually thought he was armed and capable of hurting the Chief?
“I’m not armed… I don’t have any weapons…”
“Shut up!” one of the armed guards growled, his finger twitching around the gun’s trigger. The bore of the gun’s barrel yawned at Caleb, ready to spit death in his direction. “And don’t move. If you move, we drop you.”
Caleb slowly raised his hands, his heart thudding in his chest. He believed every word the guard said.
“What were you doing in the Chief’s basement and how did you even gain entry into it and the elevator in the first place? Answer slowly and clearly, and keep it truthful or else.” Benson said, his voice deceptively calm.
Caleb shuddered at the veiled threat. “It’s just documents, I swear. I didn’t take anything else. I’m not a thief…” he could barely recognize his voice. It was high and squeaky, changed by fear.
Chief Hanson Briggs pushed Benson’s hand aside, even as the security head protested, and stepped forward, his eyes locked with Caleb’s.
“Why? I let you into my home, trusted you with my daughter’s safety and you do this. Why?!”
Caleb returned the man’s look, trying his best to let his regret show in his eyes. “I did not have a choice sir, and that is the truth. I would never hurt your daughter, and betraying the new trust you had in me was not something I did lightly. Believe me, sir, there are dangerous people behind this…”
A flicker of hesitation showed in Chief Hanson Brigg’s eyes and Caleb felt a spurt of hope. Could he be getting through to the man?
“I did not steal from you sir. This whole thing is about Olobiri, sir. I can show you…” Caleb reached unthinkingly towards his side to pull out the rolled-up folder he had tucked there for safekeeping.
One of the guns pointed at him roared and a few instants later, it felt like a hammer had been knocked into his chest. Caleb made an oomph sound and fell to the floor of the hallway, his mouth opening and closing in shock. Rays of pain flowed outwards from his chest and enveloped his body.
Is this how it feels to be shot? Am I dying?
Faintly he could hear screaming, female screaming. He craned his neck up and struggled to focus, gasping as he saw Preye running towards him. Dizzily, he surmised that the sound of the gunshot must have woken her up from sleep. Preye’s mouth opened as she screamed his name again and tried to reach where he was lying. Caleb’s vision began to swirl but not before he saw Benson stop Preye with one hand. The security head’s muscles bulged as he held the hysterical Preye in place while she struggled to break free.
I’m sorry, Preye. I’m so sorry.
Caleb let his head fall back, and everything went dark.
The security unit in the Briggs home had state of the art facilities, with a lobby, several rooms for the guards not on duty to take quick naps, a spacious meeting room, a functional first aid centre, a locked room where all the armoury was kept and two small, windowless rooms that acted as temporary cells. The cells had only being barely used, but they were kept clean. They smelled of antiseptic and cold cement, but the smell of sweat still lingered.
Those were the smells that assailed Chief Hanson Briggs nostrils as he stared into the only occupied cell. Beside him, Benson Adewale waited patiently, his arms crossed over his chest and his booted feet slightly apart. The security unit was quiet, the only sounds coming from a slightly creaky ceiling fan turning in the lobby, and the rustle of the oversized top of Chief Briggs native attire when it moved in the slight breeze and brushed against Benson’s camouflage pants.
“We don’t think he took anything else sir. Just the folder.” Benson said.
Chief Hanson Briggs chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip. “The folder on Olobiri, yes. But why? I have money, jewellery and more precious things down there, yet he took just the folder. Why?”
“He gained entry using Miss Preye’s key card. Why was I not aware she had one, sir? I would have expected to be told.” there was a slight toe of rebuke in Benson’s voice, and Chief Hanson Briggs turned to look at him with a raised brow.
“Because there was no need for you to know.” he replied curtly. “She’s my daughter. All I have belongs to my family. And since when do I need permission from you to give my daughter something?”
Benson’s jaw tightened but he only nodded. “Of course, sir. I apologize for my tone.”
Chief Hanson Briggs did not acknowledge the apology. He patted his pocket absently. “I have the key card now, so there’s nothing to worry about. And the folder is back in the basement. There’s only one thing left to do now.”
He stared into the cell, the gears in his head turning. Benson Adewale stood silently beside him, also staring into the dank cell, where Caleb was stretched out, unconscious.
“Wake him up. I need to ask him what the hell he wanted the Olobiri folder for. Something doesn’t add up.” the Chief’s lips tightened as he watched the slow rise and fall of Caleb’s chest. The unconscious young man looked almost innocent with his face in repose, and Chief Hanson Briggs had to struggle to remind himself that Caleb was far from innocent. “This is no ordinary thief. And I intend to find out just what the hell his motives were.”
Check back at 6:00pm to read the next episode.