Greg Davis shifted impatiently. The plane had arrived for some minutes now, “What’s keeping him?” he wondered. He checked the printed photo again, no there was no way he would miss Philip.
Philip, a stranger he had lately began to see as a best friend. With him, he felt a closeness he had never felt with anybody. Every time he remembered he always felt grateful he had logged on to his Twitter account that day. He had been quite broke and so was cranky that evening and had been looking for a fight he could join in or someone he could attack. He had been pleased to stumble on a hash tag #doctorsovernurses; it was a good excuse to vent his frustration with his profession; the bad pay and a government that allowed Nurses to think they could compete with Doctors.
He hadn’t been able to control himself, he had jumped on it venting and even getting abusive with anyone who had contrary opinions, there had been a particular handle that was trying to be Impartial, he wasn’t for the Doctors neither was he in support of the Nurses, Greg had gotten furious when the individual behind it tweeted that he was a Doctor but he practised in America. His response to the tweet had been unlike him and even some of his friends on Twitter had been shocked.
“Shut up there fool, idiot, mad man. You probably make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year whereas I have to go on strike before I can be paid some change here.”
He had felt sorry about it afterwards and had been surprised to get a notification that the handle was now following him. He had followed back and proceeded to send a direct message where he apologized for his behaviour.
A sudden scream knocked him out of his reverie. “Daddy, daddy” a child called jumping excitedly. The passengers were finally out, Greg tucked the print out into his pocket; I don’t need this to recognise Philip. he decided. His heart raced in excitement, “my life is about to change for the better.” He scanned the faces of the passengers as they walked into the arrival lounge and it didn’t take him long to spot Philip. His smile got wider as Philip spotted him.
“Welcome to Nigeria brother.” he said ignoring the hand Philip offered and giving him a hug instead.
The three men; The Orator, Vector and the Profiler were at the meeting place, at the stroke of midnight as they had been several times during the past five years.
This was going to be their final meeting. Five years it had been, five years of patience during which they had developed a product several companies had simply considered too arduous and unprofitable to embark upon. But they had been sure it could be done, the plan had been perfect and the determination strong. Develop the product, test its efficacy and in the absence of one, create a market for it.
The Orator, so named because he was the talker of the three, the one who handled the recruitment angle of the project had a self satisfied grin on his face. He was as usual dressed in a four piece suit. He was so used to wearing them that an employee had once said that one could assume he slept in one of such suites considering he was always seen in them.
He glanced at his colleagues, saw the excitement on their faces and checked his wristwatch. He allowed his smile to grow wider. Soon everyone would know about their firm, soon their names would be mentioned alongside that of the giants in the industry. They will be known as the guys who saved the world from doom.
He saw their cause as good, he liked to think of the last five years as a sacrifice for humanity, yes there were costs but the world would thank them in the long run, of that he was sure.
As a matter of necessity, their meetings were secret and known to the three of them alone. The project was big, capable of making them rich for the rest of their lives, yet it was sensitive and their intentions were bound to be misunderstood by a lot of people. They saw themselves as intellectuals, howbeit underrated ones. They had set out to embark on the project and put into action ideas that only brilliant intellectuals like them could appreciate.
The project was now complete and this meeting was in essence to celebrate their success but the Orator knew his colleagues had concerns and so he planned to address them.
For five years they had met in the basement of a Church, it was a church the vector had funded and which he regularly made financial contributions to. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t a follower of Christianity or any other religion, he had felt it necessary to invest in a Church and the priest had asked no questions. Later, it had been easy to approach the priest and let him know he would need the basement of the church from time to time for meetings with his fellow academic researchers. The priest had again asked no questions only begging him to be discreet.
“The Orator”, Vector, began. “This individual, the one we have chosen as the Bat, can he be trusted?”
“Yes Vector, I would like you both to know that the Bat has flown already.” The Orator replied. He had a lot of respect for the Vector. The orator had wooed him over from a much bigger and rival company Six years earlier when the idea had blossomed in the mind of the Profiler and he had shared it with him.
“I want you both to look at this”. The orator said passing across to them a file each.
He saw that the third man in the room eyed the file with wariness. He was a man who didn’t trust easily but yet was one of the best minds in the industry. A lot of people in the industry still didn’t understand what a man of his standing was doing in the Orator’s company when he could be with the best. But the Profiler as he was called was a man with dreams and visions of his own. A man who although appeared frail and harmless had some of the most extreme ideas the Orator had ever heard.
The Bat peered at his face in the bathroom mirror. “So dark”. He muttered. He thought of his quarry and smiled. He was going to do a perfect job. This was nothing like the jobs he had done before but it was by far the easiest. In fact, to him it had sounded too easy and enjoyable to resist and so far everything had gone better than he planned.
The one thing he had hated most about his life from childhood was his skin, he hated that he was black and couldn’t understand why his skin couldn’t be White and his hair soft and wavy. He had been unable to stand his family and their obsession with staying true to their African roots, the son of West African immigrants, he had grown up in a household where the parents spoke their African dialect to each other and then English to the children. His parents had even tried forcing them to eat their local food, something indigenous to a tribe in Nigeria. He hadn’t cared to know what tribe it was, he just had never been interested, he had hated his parents, blamed them for not working hard enough to be able to afford a house in a neighbourhood that had more white faces and every time he was taunted for being Black, he hated his parents more.
The moment he entered into college, he had broken off contact with everyone. He had simply disappeared and watched with amusement as his parents declared him missing, Crime channel had even done an episode about him, he had watched his mom cry on television asking anyone who knows her son’s whereabouts to give information and vowing not to stop looking for her son. He had felt nothing seeing their grief. He was just glad he could live as a ghost without the stress of having a family who watched and criticized his every action.
He dropped out of College, moved to a different state and entrenched himself into crime. He determined he was better off without friends, at least permanent ones. He had quickly gotten a reputation as a hit man of repute and before long he was carrying out international operations and had even been employed by a few top politicians.
This job however was going to be the one he will enjoy most. He wasn’t a fool; He might have dropped out of college but he was smart enough to realize whatever was in the canister he had been given had to be deadly. He had been contacted by an individual who had simply introduced himself as the Orator about Six months earlier. By mutual agreement they never had any meetings; their discussions had been via DMs exchanged through anonymous Twitter handles. Although his customer had been tight lipped about the operation and the reason behind it, he had been able to make some deductions of his own. Seeing the container the Orator had said contained the item he was to use for his mission, he had been awed. It looked like something out of a Science fiction movie, it was cylindrical, made of stainless steel and he hadn’t believed it was possible to get something into or out of it until the Orator had explained how he was to use it. He knew he was about to be part of something big and exciting and he had been even more excited when he learned of his target.
If what he thought was what was about to happen, he could even do the job free.
The Orator scanned his partners’ faces as they went through the file. He expected them to be impressed. “The Bat will be transporting the item in the latest RTP Bio Hazard transport technology so the item’s containment during transport and transfer is assured. Going through the file, you will also see he is a professional and as such I am positive we won’t have any problems.”
“This is quite impressive.” Vector said. “I was at first sceptical you recruited a Black for this job but going through this, I don’t think we have a problem.”
“Congressman Darlington, Anatoi Kalakov, Saif Khan, Ju wang Huo the Billonaire?” The profiler asked.
“Yes, he did all four jobs. He is quite in high demand.”
“I think he would do”, the profiler said. “But please we have to be extremely careful. This cannot be traced to us in any way.”
“I assure you of that”. The Orator said. “He has been paid an advance of 500,000USD and the balance will be paid after the job is complete.”
He caught the question in the profiler’s eyes and answered it. “It’s all very safe. Our contact in the Cayman Islands arranged it. So gentlemen, there is nothing to fear.”
Greg had been flattered that an American Doctor would take a great interest in him. After he apologised, they had chatted severally in DMs and had later taken to becoming friends on black berry messenger. He would tell Philip about his frustrations as a medical Doctor in Nigeria while Philip would tell him how hectic but rewarding his own life as a Doctor in Washington D.C was.
And now three months after they met Philip Bender was in Nigeria just to meet him. He had told him he was on leave and would want to know Nigeria and Greg had even joked that perhaps he will meet descendants of his ancestors and wouldn’t even know it.
He was so excited; he had told his friends during their Friday night out about his American Doctor friend who was travelling all the way to Nigeria just to meet him.
A lady? They had all asked and he had told them it was a guy to which they had given him odd looks that seemed to say “Please don’t tell me you have suddenly discovered you prefer guys”. He had assured them there was nothing of such and promised to bring him to their Friday outing.
His friends would warm up to Philip so easily, he was so charming, intelligent and had genuine interest in Nigeria. He couldn’t wait to show him off.
Philip had told him he wanted to have a firsthand experience of how the Nigerian healthcare worked but Greg couldn’t take him to his place of work. So instead he had offered to take him to a private hospital where he worked whenever he was free. The owner was a businessman so Greg was basically the chief medical practitioner there, the staff respected and deferred to him as though he were their boss. He knew he could get away with taking Philip there.
The Bat opened the false bottom of his suitcase, picked the small container and caressed it. “You are the Bat, you give this to people, but it doesn’t kill you so you have to handle with care”, the Orator had said, “This little thing is going to change the world, but that change will start from Africa, from Nigeria.” He was to ensure he didn’t tamper with it until it was time to use it. It was that deadly.
He placed the container, the water resistant gown, mask, goggles and the special Gloves that came with them in his messenger bag. It was time to perform his task. He heard his new friend call out to him that it was time to go. “Africans.” he muttered, “eternally trusting and hopeful”. Greg had hinted that he would like to discuss his promise about helping him secure a job in America that night but the Bat planned to be long gone by then. He picked up the bag and went to meet his friend.
That afternoon Greg wanted to impress his friend; he had a strange desire to show him that Nigeria wasn’t as backward as the West thought it was. He drove through Lekki, showed Philip the beautiful roads and buildings. He told Philip that Nigeria produced some of the best doctors in the world.
Philip had sounded interested, so he had added;
“Do you know, Philip, that there are over 2000 Nigerian Doctors in the state of New York alone?”
“Hmmm, yeah,yeah. That’s true.” Philip had agreed. “Of course you are right, I know quite a few.”
They were on their way to the private Clinic, Greg had gotten a call about a seven year old boy who had symptoms similar to that of Malaria, and he had made Philip promise to help review the patient.
The Bat’s heart beat in anticipation, he was going to complete his mission soon and then he could leave, collect his balance and as usual disappear into thin air. He allowed himself to wonder what the contents of his quarry could be. Poison? No it had to be something deadlier. It would change the world, the Orator had said. So it had to be something more considering the target he had been given.
He had entered the consulting room with Greg and had made a show of being a Doctor. He must have excelled at it because Greg had seemed impressed. He listened as Greg told the Nurses to admit the patient and set up a drip for him. He had waited till the Nurse was back at her station before telling Greg he wanted to check on the patient. Greg had been too happy to allow him.
“By all means, that’s how we Doctors are, always committed to the wellbeing of our patients, please do and let me know if you have any other recommendations. I need to see some other patients.”
Too easy, the Bat chuckled. He walked into the room and gazed at the young boy’s face. He was sleeping, they must have administered a sedative, he thought.
The boy was younger than anyone he had ever killed but that wasn’t going to stop him.
He wore the gown, mask, googles and gloves, brought out the container and carefully, he unlocked the lid, still being careful, he took the cylinder, opened the cover of the boy’s infusion giving set and placed the tip against it as he had been taught. “Five seconds” the Orator had said. When he was done, he covered the set, relocked the canister, returned it to his bag and discarded the protective clothing in the trash. He walked to the sink in the room and washed his hands as he had been instructed.
Greg was upset.
“I am so sorry man, was she sick?” He asked.
“No, she wasn’t, I just hate myself so much right now, I should have been at her side, It’s what she would have wanted.”
“Don’t beat yourself up Philip, I understand how you feel. I was in school when my Mom died and no one contacted me because they didn’t want it to affect my exams. Of course I didn’t appreciate that especially since they buried her before I got back.”
“That’s horrible man, sorry about that.”
“Oh, I am fine, that was a long time ago. I should be the one consoling you. So what are you going to do now?”
I have to leave immediately. I have to be on the next flight. But I will be back, you can be sure of that.
“Wow, this is really painful o, there was so much we still had to discuss and you know I even promised my friends you will come along with me to our outing tomorrow”
“There will be time for that. I will be back.” Philip assured him.
The Bat brought out his phone as he took brisk steps towards the departure lounge. He logged on into the twitter account he had used to communicate with Greg, went to account settings and deleted it. Next he logged on to the account he used for the orator, sent a message that read. “Task complete” and deleted that too. Putting the phone inside his pocket, he dropped the messenger bag inside a trashcan ensuring no one saw him.
The three men monitored news out of Nigeria over the weeks that followed. After three weeks of waiting, the news came. CNN reported that a Seven old boy who had hitherto been thought to have died of Malaria fever was actually a victim of the deadly Ebola virus. The boy was said to be the index case in the country. The Doctor and two nurses who had attended to him were also said to be critically ill from what was suspected to be the same Ebola virus.
It was the good news they had been waiting for. All that remained was to wait for the virus to spread to the rest of Africa and for the death toll to reach several thousands of people. They would wait for the right time; just when the world was desperate enough for anything that could cure it, real or imagined and then they would present the cure they had developed to the world. They were going to be the saviours of the world.
Another person who was monitoring the news was the Bat. He wanted to know what his quarry had been. There must have been a reason he was paid 1million USD just to travel down to any country in Africa and inject anyone with a serum that had been sealed in a bio weapon canister. He had felt no pain or regret when he read that a young boy had died of a deadly virus named Ebola and that the Doctor who had treated him Dr. Greg Desi had also contracted the disease and died alongside two Nurses.
What had interested him instead was learning that Ebola was a virus carried by Bats, that the death toll could enter into thousands and that Africans might have themselves to blame for their consumption of the winged animals.
Bat. He chuckled, now he knew why the Orator had given him the hideous code name. He felt no pity for Africa; he was only slightly disappointed that the death toll was expected to be only in thousands and not at least millions. The whole continent was over populated anyway. Someone had to check that.