Click to read EGGSHELL here
Click to read EGGSHELL 2 here
Les Meridien Barbarons
March 14, 1995
They were seated at the bar of the Les Meridien Barbarons in Praslin. She was sipping at her Pina Colada while Wemimo was having his third glass of chilled cocktail. They had done a lot of catching up after she had handed him the blueprints. He was slightly sentimental and nostalgic about seeing her again after so many years. The circumstances under which they parted ways those many years ago, though painful had been smoothed by time.
They had kept in touch and he was today glad they had.
The alcohol was beginning to kick in. She had been more than what he had hoped for, the blueprints and other tips she had given him were invaluable. And from the way their discussion was going, he was sure he would get an “icing on the cake” if he played his game right. It had been a long time and he was not surprised that he still felt how he did. However, he cannot afford to mess up everything between them again. He still couldn’t understand why he allowed what happened between them to happen. But he was a desperate man hungry for success back then to be sentimental about another’s feelings.
“You do understand that I know what this means? It shouldn’t in anyway look like the Sub. All you have to do is adapt the technology and the designs. Call your project another name even, maybe the EggShell or something,” she paused slightly, “the eggshell is not a bad one. Not bad at all. The point is, if you are not original, the architects and the International Architects’ Guild may come after you guys and that could mean trouble for everyone, and that includes me,” She cocked her head to the side and eyed him coyly with her dreamy eyes, “you would not put me in trouble now Wemi, would you?”
The way she pronounced his name evoked long-buried memories of many nights in the small flat in Kent before she moved out to Gloucestershire. Nights filled with moans, screams, body scratching and many naked meals around the small sofa or on the bed or on the floor in front of the TV. Many nights also spent studying and researching ancient architectural designs and techniques. Those were nights filled with big dreams and hopes for the future.
A future that never happened.
He quickly refocused his mind on the matter at hand before he lost control entirely. “Of course not, Katherine. I would not even think to do that. We have known each other too long and I wouldn’t dare. It was difficult back then and I was in a spot. But, I regret it. Truly, I regret what happened. I know this was tricky for you, and I thank you. I don’t know how else to thank you other than that,” he pointed to the half-wrapped packaged on her side of the bar table. It was a very chic wood carving of a naked Nubian princess. He had picked it up earlier in the day at the market. It wasn’t expensive, but it was symbolic in more ways than one. He wanted her to remember the good times they had in England. He wanted her to know also, that she was someone he still cared for. However, he wasn’t sure if much had not changed since they parted ways five years earlier.
She smiled at him, “Yea, it is very pretty.” She leaned across and gave him a hug. The scent of her wafted through his nose and they held on to each other a moment longer than normal. When she settled back in her seat, she had a glint in her eye, and he had a racing heartbeat.
On the other side of the road, Dogo observed the couple at the bar. Things were progressing well so far he noted to himself. His paranoia was why he had to keep an eye on her. He just couldn’t help himself. This was too big to be fouled up at this stage.
He looked at his watch.
He could make his way out of here and set in motion the other part of the tempering process. That is the one that would establish the credentials of the target as the right man for what was coming.
He also had a call to make. Dogo stood up, extinguished the cigarette and walked west towards the city center and the hotel. There is something waiting to be done there.
New York City
March 14, 1995
Abu Shelama picked the phone on the first ring. He grunted to himself as the line connected and he listened to the voice on the other side. The output was tinny and that could be the result of the trans-Atlantic connection of the call, or the scrambling device evidently attached by the caller.
“About time you reported progress,” he snorted.
The report was brief, but the news was good. Good enough for a smile to break out on his wide face.
“Good. That is very good,” he was grinning broadly now. “Proceed to stage two of the tempering process. Meanwhile, once this is finished you are to go ahead and stake out the other target. Make sure there are no mistakes in the seed. No one must detect its presence in the databank.”
There was another short reply on the other end of the line and it went dead. Abu carefully removed the SIM card from the phone; it had fulfilled its purpose and now that they were moving onto the next stage, it was no longer needed. More importantly, security was crucial and there was no need to have something that could incriminate him in what was coming in his possession. He broke it and threw the pieces into the burning flame in the fireplace.
It was just past nine in the executive suite of the Crowne Plaza on Broadway in New York City. The night was still young, but he couldn’t go out tonight to prey on the town. The next stages of the plan required careful execution.
As the youngest member of the executive council, he was noted for his revolutionary thinking. It was the same kind of thought process that was much appreciated by the new president. As someone noted for having a knack for “thinking-outside-the-box”, he was given enough leeway to advance some hare-brained ideas for execution by the council. Many of such plans had earned positive points for the new administration in the hearts of the ever dissatisfied public. But there was a bigger agenda for him. He had something of a surprise in waiting for all his senior colleagues, majority of them from the hitherto minority entities, who snicker at the north and its people. He had plans and soon they would unfold. His portfolio as the Minister for Agriculture made his ability to pull through his daring plan a lot easier to achieve. He had carte blanche from the president himself to do the things that he was about to. That permission he had deviously obtained by masking his secret plan within a more legitimate one, one which according to how he pitched it to the Executive Council would remove the dangers of famine and starvation that had loomed over the agricultural sector for the past ten years. He was a hero; a hero bearing a bloody sword with which he would cut off the heads of the infidels.
It was a shame that the past leaders of the north had never thought to take the steps he and his associates were now about to take. He was perplexed that they had settled for taking the long route to achieving the primary aim of the northern region – total dominance of the geographical state called Nigeria. It was bad enough that the colonial masters had seen it fit to lump several diverse cultures and ethnic groups together under the same political and geographical state; albeit, handing the baton of power to the Northern leaders. What was worse was the fact that the north never used that power to crush and weed out the other ethnic groups and ethnic groups. They allowed the infidels alone, allowing them to rule themselves as they deem fit and to fester and continue to take strategic positions in the corridors of power. They should have exterminated the bloody pigs, or at least used the power to carve the north out of the rest of the country. If they had the foresight then, the northern region wouldn’t be in the throes of extinction it was in right now. He had observed with chagrin how political power had been wrenched from the North and passed from hand to hand between the west and south. Since the return to democracy, the north and its leaders had been shunned from holding or even aspiring to major political offices. It had been systematic – the purging of the political class, the purging from the rank and file of the armed forces, the systematic killing of the brightest youths of the land through suspect “aid programs” that turned out to be poisons aimed at a grand design at genocide – all swept under the carpet through the use of political might by the successive governments of the West and South. All the North was left with today were men who were dogged enough to make something of themselves from the free world of commerce, agriculture and industry. That was all they had been deemed fit enough to manage – cattle ranches, agricultural farm lands, mines etc. The only representatives of the north in governance were only given portfolios in Agriculture, commerce, tourism etc. places where they were only as good as been junketeers. Junior positions where they were nothing more than lackeys for their more powerful and more educated superiors from the West or South.
But, over the years the idea to bring back the north into a position of authority in power and politics had crystallized in his mind. His Harvard trained mind had assessed the situation and came to the realization that there was a need for a game changer. The dynamics of the game had changed, so the skills set of the players ought to change to align with the new rules and tactics.
It was then he began his slow, careful and studied incursion into the public and political sphere. The son of a wealthy businessman from Kano, he had been sent to the best schools in the U.S, where he studied Law and International relations. He had later taken a diploma and doctorate from the Davenage School of Modern Agricultural practices in London – an achievement he was able to realize only after he had insisted in taking the degree against his father’s wishes. The old man wanted him to be a lawyer. So, he spent the better part of 10 years to satisfy his wish even though he had always wanted to be a physicist. But then he realized he was born for a higher purpose. It was at Harvard that the awakening moment struck him. While studying at Harvard he met some very bright young men from the north and they quickly became friends due to their shared interests and opinions on what was going on in the country and to the north in particular. Many of these young men later became his future associates. But at the time, all the small group did was talk endlessly about the shameful state of the north in the political space. It was during one of their discussions that his thoughts had finally led him to form the outlines of his plans for regaining political prominence and control for his people.
He had carefully worked out his plan during the course of the next few months before his graduation. His moment of brilliance was when he determined that for him to be able to make a change; he needed to be the first one to adhere to his own proposition to “step-change the game”. He also determined that the best way to do what he had in mind, to uproot the infidels from the corridors of power and return the glory of the north, he had to start from a base that brooked no suspicion whatsoever and allowed him the supreme freedom he needed to make his plans successful. He had gone on to obtain his diploma in modern agricultural sciences, topping his class and developing a new hybrid/synthetic maize seedling that was immune to almost any kind of pest attack. It was a major accomplishment for a young innovator and entrepreneur. He also encouraged his associates to veer into other areas that were essential to the realization of his plan -transport, communication, health and banking. They deferentially acceded to his suggestions, every one of them willing to see the north rise back to its place of pride and glory. In the course of a few years, there arose a crop of very young, but very successful entrepreneurs of Northern origin who were ready to carry out the most daring of tasks ever undertaken by a group of men in the country.
On returning home from his studies abroad, Abu Shelama had rallied the northern people. He was respected because his father was very influential. He was able to secure a ceasefire agreement with the dreaded Boko Haram group. It was not very difficult to achieve. He only had to point out to them they were doing it all wrong. He was able to persuade their leaders to call a truce and that was the beginning of his rise in the political sphere.
It was this achievement, along with his development of the revolutionary seed that had drawn the attention of the national government to him, and in due course he had been offered a junior ministerial appointment. It was the milestone for the first step of his plan. He had moved on and achieved stage two in less than two years – appointment as Minister of Agriculture.
He was where he wanted to be.
Abu Shelama looked out of the large windows at the bright lights of the Time Square in Upper West Side New York. He has seen the lights many times before from the same window in the hotel, but every time always seemed like the first time to him. In the past, the lights called to him and he heeded the calls – but not tonight. His mind was preoccupied with other things.
Eggshell was rolling and soon the pace would gather momentum.
Le Relax Hotel & Restaurant
Greater Victoria, Seychelles
March 15, 1995
They were just getting ready for the shift change.
It had been a long night and now, at this hour the traffic into the hotel was low and slow. Most of the patrons were out on the town, and the male attendants were in the back grabbing a quick stick of smoke. So, they did what all women knew how to do best – gossiped.
“You, I saw how you were looking at the one from Nigeria. No, not the second one. The first one. The handsome one. The one who had the disarmingly charming smile.”
The second female attendant smiled shyly. It is true she had been taken to the Nigerian. She just didn’t know it had been that obvious. One second, two…maybe three seconds that their eyes had connected and it was like she melted inside. She saw and attended to people daily, four times a week and she had never felt so shockingly pulled to one of the patrons as she had been to the Nigerian. She was not even the one who attended to him, but somehow they had connected. He had even smiled at her.
“Just be careful Monalisa. You know what they say about the Nigerian men….”
The girls giggled. It was a common rumor among all the girls on the Island. It was claimed that men from Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon can give the best sexual satisfaction. According to the girls who claim they had been with men from these countries, and who started the rumors in the first place, the Nigerian men beat the others by a long distance.
“Ha! Twanta C’mon! I can handle myself. And I don’t believe that rubbish Winnie said the last time. It is just not possible for a man to do that. Not possible.”
They all giggled again. It was an incredible story that Winifred, the girl from the Desroches Island Resort in La Digne had told them a few months back. She had said she had been with a Nigerian dude whose phallus had been almost ten inches long; that she had almost been torn apart inside during her encounter with him. According to her, guests from the neighboring rooms had come knocking on their door because of her screams.
It was an incredible story. But, they all dreamt about having a similar experience. All of them.
“Don’t be too sure. Just be careful, so you too won’t be screaming all night long for help from “Father above”.”
They all roared in laughter again. And then the boys came back from their smoking session and everything fell back to normal.
Monalisa still had a glint in her eyes when she left the hotel minutes later after the shift change.
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