The officers hastened them and pulled the ladies who were still dragging their feet. The tensions rose as they fled. As they were fleeing, one of them fell into the river. Before they could rescue Vincent, they heard gunshots. The officers were ready for action but Sophia made an attempt to rescue him still. However, one of the officers pulled her back as they took cover behind two trees adjacent to each other. Sunday cautioned her to keep quiet to avoid attracting the attention of the enemies. The officers were watching and waiting on how the event will unfold. Sophia was really troubled and worried about Vincent.
After some minutes, they heard another gunshots which sent shivers down the spines of the women. The officers tried to play down the incident by giving them comforting signals. As they stood there, Sunday noticed something moving on the tree. He tapped one of the officers to observe the movement until the women jumped out of their hiding place when they saw the big snake. The officers ran after them to protect and guide them. Coincidentally, they saw Vincent sitting by the bank of the river with bruises on his left hand.
Sunday warned them to leave the area on time to avoid being captured but Vincent told them he had seen some hunters firing into the sky. As they were still talking, Sophia saw the moveable wooden bridge hidden under some leaves. Two officers quickly picked it up and placed it over the banks to pass over it. One of the officers guided the women first followed by Vincent, then Sunday and the remaining officers.
As soon as they crossed over, they heard another gunshots from other direction. They began to run until they reached a safe place. The women were already worn out and gasping for breath. By the time they reached the police station, it was already evening. Meanwhile, the women had already been taken to the hospital for treatment. The proper legal procedure was followed and they took their statements. The area was mapped out for a major operation in continuation of the Government’s effort and readiness to rid the state of traffickers.
When the women were discharged, they temporarily stayed with Vincent and Stella James. Ruth, the other woman who was rescued alongside Stella opened up about her background.
“I lived with my brother in the neighbouring state. He got a scholarship to study abroad for his Master’s degree. His fiancée who had always stood by him decided to introduce him properly to her family before travelling out. Her parents and my parents blessed them as they awaited the day he would come back to finalise their relationship…”
They paid rapt attention as she narrated her story,
“There was this guy called Kenneth who was hell-bent on marrying Flora against her wish. He premised his argument on being her childhood friend from the same town. My brother was aware of it and had told Flora many times to ignore his advances and threats. Within two months he left the shores of this country, Kenneth sent his men after me one afternoon. I was on my way home from the market when a guy approached me. He asked for the direction to one of the electronics stores around the place. Within twinkling of an eye, I found myself in a car racing at high speed to an unknown destination. In my confused state, I knew it was the handiwork of Kenneth from their conversation…”
Stella Philips sighed deeply as Ruth continued her story,
“I had been in that den for more than a week before Stella joined us. If not for God, we would have been killed…”
“God again?” Vincent laughed and they looked at him. Ruth didn’t mind him but continued,
“If not for God, we would not be here today. I’m a church worker and strongly believe in the power of God. At least two women were killed in my presence when they wouldn’t agree to do their biddings…”
She wiped few drops of tears on her face,
“The heart of man is desperately wicked and evil. The men are beasts in human form. How will a man kidnap a fellow human being and used it for rituals or be sold like a commodity to another person?”
Sophia cut in,
“How did you survive for days before they brought my sister? Did you beg them?”
“Mercy is not in their language.” She replied.
“Who then helped you? I mean, how did you cope?” Vincent asked.
“God helped me. Like I said before, God came to our rescue. I remembered how they detested my praises to God. I remembered one night when one of them wanted to sleep with me then I entered into another session of praises to God. He told me he lost interest in me completely but was revived when he saw another captive. In summary, God gave me strength and defended me”
Tears were already on their faces as they listened patiently to her. They turned to Stella Philips to hear her own story. It took her some minutes before she could open her mouth. As soon as Sophia placed her hand on her shoulder, they noticed…
To be continued in Episode 29.