A ChrisEffe Bliss
Paul Blankson leaned across the table and looked at Effe with intense disapproval.
“Goddammit, Effe!” Paul exploded. “I’ve been on my feet the whole day! He’s gone, okay? Time to go home and find some little rest for tomorrow! Stop the dramatics already!”
“He’s gone,” Carl said coldly. “We bracketed the whole place, nowhere he can hide, ma’am.”
“Call me Effe, please,” she said and looked directly at Sir Lance. “Chris was here, sir. This was his last location before he disappeared off my radar. The lights in this study were on when I entered. I took a look at the layout, and found that this library is exactly halfway along the corridor length outside.”
“And what does all that mean, young lady?” Sir Lance asked warily.
Effe pointed to the bookcase to her right.
“That wall comes to an end there, but I daresay there’s another room beyond, a sort of secret place maybe assessable by codes, you know, a hideout. I’ll bet you my last Tarrit that Chris Bawa is somewhere behind that wall.”
Carl Acquah moved to the wall and surveyed it as Sir Lance and Paul exchanged looks.
“How sure are you about this, Effe?” the elderly man asked softly.
“He’s there,” Effe said. “And I’m sure he has gadgets in there that blocks locator signals, keeping him hidden.”
“Only one way to find out,” Carl Acquah said grimly. “Lay mild explosives against the wall here and blow it up.”
“No!” Effe cried with alarm. “You’ll mess up the books and the study!”
Paul looked at her with exasperation.
“Are you for real?” he asked with a chuckle.
“Get the infantry in here,” Sir Lance said sharply. “Let’s step out for a while, Effe.”
Effe sighed and finally stood up. They waited in the living-room as the explosives were laid against the wall, and almost fifteen minutes later she heard a muted blast that shook everything in the living-room.
Men were screaming as Sir Lance rushed towards the study.
Effe activated her locator and smiled grimly when she got a lock on a blue target moving somewhere below ground level.
“You aren’t getting away from me, Chris Bawa, you damn murderer!” she whispered as she walked quickly into the study.
A section of the wall had been blown out, and mild dust and residual charges hung in the air. But she was right; there was a secret place beyond the library!
There were a lot of armed men milling around, and as she hurried inside, she saw that it was a well-kept master room. It had a bed and an array of special equipment and provisions.
“You’re a genius, Effe,” Sir Lance said from across the room where he was looking down at the glass-fronted armoury. “He even had his own cache of weapons here. We must assume that Prodigal is armed now. He has become deadlier.”
“But he’s still not here!” Paul said with a great sigh. “I’m sure there might be an escape route down here somewhere.”
“There is,” Effe said, looking at the device in her hand. “He’s moving below us. Look for an opening from here, anything, leading downwards!”
“It is right here,” Carl said grimly from across the room where he had kicked down a small door. “Narrow corridor. Leads downwards!”
“Damn Bawa!” Sir Lance exploded. “Bastard always thinks of everything! Go, go, go! Don’t let him get away!”
As armed men went through the narrow passage, Carl moved towards Effe with his gun drawn.
“You’re good,” he said with grim respect. “Come with me, Effe. My best chance of finding him lies with you and your locator!”
The entrance led down to another door that opened out to a dry, culvert-like passage with a rounded roof, and that finally led out to a huge underground network of passageways.
“How did this place come to be?” Paul Blankson asked with shock and profound amazement.
“I think we’re directly underground in the old railways,” Effe said with admiration. “This is the substation that ran from Eden Central to Ladwate Town, abandoned several years ago because of the dangerous Zabi waterfalls that was drawing closer to the rail lines.”
“I’ll be damned,” Paul said in a stunned voice. “So, he built the house over the old railways, and opened out an escape route right through here!”
Eventually, they came out to a dark platform with old rutted railway lines branching off in about six directions. Rats and insects scurried underground, making Effe squeal with sudden fright; she had a great phobia of rodents, and her squeamish behaviour made the taciturn Carl Acquah smile in the darkness.
Soon, other armed men and police personnel came on to the platform. They also had six attack dogs growling ominously and straining at their leashes, excited by the sight of so many rodents.
“Which direction now, Effe?” Carl asked as he directed the beam of his powerful flashlight at the six passages spreading out around them.
Effe looked at her device where the blue dot was blinking ahead of them. She licked her lips slowly.
“He’s near, up there,” she said, pointing. “But I don’t know which of these passageways will take us there because his location seems to be just on top of all of them.”
“Alright, you guys, listen up!” Carl bellowed. “Break up into five sets. Each set takes a dog and one passageway. Effe and I will take the right passageway. Each group takes another. Let’s spread out, and keep the radio lines open and active. Any group sights him, call the rest of us!”
“Now wait a minute!” Effe said as she shook her head numbly. “That passage might be crawling with rodents, or worse, venomous snakes. I’m not dressed for that!”
Carl looked at her with grim determination.
“You’re with me,” he said in a confident voice. “I’ll protect you. nothing will harm you. Just stay close behind me.”
“No,” Effe said, shaking her head. “Too dangerous, no!”
He put a hand on her arm suddenly, and he exuded total confident as he stood over her, huge and solid.
“Trust me, Effe,” he said softly. “I won’t let anything harm you. That man out there is a killer, and a murderer. Worse, he wants to assassinate our king and usurp the peace we enjoy in Eden. We must put him down.”
Effe looked at him for a moment, and then she took a deep breath and nodded.
“Okay, let’s do this.”
“Right,” Carl said and turned towards the men. “Move out, Teams. And remember, take no hostage! Shoot to kill! Our target is armed and dangerous!”
They moved off in six groups.
Effe stayed behind Carl, and was glad to see that the old tunnel was big and considerably free of crawling and skittering rodents. They walked briskly with Carl in front.
Effe switched on the flashlight strapped around her forehead and followed him, keeping an eye on the beeping blue dot on her screen.
“You married, Effe?” Carl asked suddenly.
“No,” she said. “Why?”
“Just curious. You know how to use a gun?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“No,” she said.
He promptly unclipped his pistol and proffered it to her.
“I’ve never shot at a human target!” she cried with alarm.
Carl stopped and looked at her intently.
“We’re not hunting a human being, Effe,” he said coldly. “This man is a beast, a filthy animal who will shoot you on sight without any qualms. He’s dangerous, and he’s good. You see him, you shoot him or you will die. Do you understand?”
Effe was breathing hard.
“Maybe we should have come with one of the dogs,” she said unsteadily.
“I don’t need a bloody dog to deal with that savage!” he hissed. “Now, take the gun, Effe. Your life might depend on it!”
Trembling, Effe took the gun.
As they moved along, the sound of the waterfall drew nearer and the signal became stronger.
“He’s just ahead of us!” Effe said breathlessly.
Carl lifted his Uzi sub-machinegun and cocked it. He held it out in front of him as they moved around a bend, and suddenly they found themselves in a heavily-wooded area!
The train tracks came to an end, and just in front of them was the violent and turbulent Zabi river dropping off the cliff into a deadly waterfall below them.
“He’s here, he’s here!” Effe said desperately as she spun around, and suddenly the signal on her device went off, and the screen became dark. “No, no, no! Damn thing went off! Damn it! We need to call it in, Carl! We need backup!”
Carl Acquah was peering around him with a deadly face as she swung his gun in circles.
“I don’t need a backup for a skunk like Prodigal!” he hissed furiously. “Stay behind me, Effe. Out of the line of fire!”
Carl Acquah crept forward stealthily; his hands tight on his gun.
Effe pushed the dead locator into her pocket and held the gun in both hands as they moved through the bushes, getting dangerously close to the waterfall.
“We lost his location, Carl, and the waterfall is just ahead of us!” Effe said desperately. “The currents are strong! If we chance into the river it will carry us straight to our deaths! Let’s call it in!”
“Hush, Effe!” Carl said coldly. “I can sense him! I’ll deal with him!”
And then the cold voice came to them from the darkness.
“Watch the holes.”
It was a calm, deep, pleasant voice, but indifferent in a way, self-assured, and holding a mild touch of disdain!
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