‘If he were to be okay as you have said, he would have replied my letter by now.’ Hot tears escaped in single streaks from both eyes. She had closed her eyes so hard to keep them in, but with the pressure they had amassed, there was no stopping them. Her voice was also crackling now and thick saliva extended from one lip to the other as she let the burden in her heart escape through her mouth, but they never finished. Her heart only got heavier and hotter with every speech she made. ‘I know him. I know him.

He would not keep me in the dark without a response for this long – 2 long weeks. Tell me is he dead like the others? Tell me!’ She grabbed the office table and pulled it back and forth, wailing as she besought the Major with everything in her to just tell her the truth as if she could handle it.

‘We cannot disclose any information on your husband for now. We are not sure of anything other than the fact that he is still alive, and in situations such as these, that should be enough to gladden your heart and comfort you. Women like you come here every day and are being told that their husbands have been confirmed dead. You should be glad ma. I cannot tell you more. But if we hear anything from him you’d know ma.’ He said those words as firmly as he could and did everything to hide the emotions in his voice. Ngolo was too beautiful to have those tears on her face and the little girl that accompanied her was just too innocent to be fatherless. Indeed war was a terrible thing. He maintained his stoic look as she dragged her feet out of his office. She gave him another look as soon as she opened his door for a moment and his face did not change, then she walked out, holding her daughter in her hands and closing the door gently behind her in resignation. He wasn’t to be blamed after all. He was only doing his job. Although she did not thank him for his response, something she rarely did not do, she knew her husband would have done just the same thing and even in a less emotional manner as the Major had done. But she would not understand why she felt offended by the Major. Indeed he was to be blamed for her husband’s disappearance somehow. They had sent him anywhere and everywhere there was massive danger as if he was indestructible. Now he is dead and they tell her all sorts of lies.

Major Richard heaved a sigh of relief as she left, shaking his head and banging the table. For the fact that Faraj was the only person the abductors allowed to communicate to them could mean that Achor was actually dead and Faraj was just being manipulated to say what they wanted him to say. He battled between believing his Captain was alive or not, but he could not prove any of those facts. But Faraj never sounded like one who was under duress or manipulation whenever he called; there was this clarity in his voice that he sometimes suspected, even though he always spoke as a third party, conveying the message of his abductors and feeling sorrowful on the phone. The last time he called in, it was to inform him that the Salamandine forces were willing to release all their captured soldiers if they were willing to surrender within the time frame of two weeks, or they were going to kill them all. Their prisons were getting too congested they had added. But of course, he couldn’t have told Ngolo that kind of thing.

The phone rang and Faraj hurriedly picked.

‘Do you truly have Achor? I want to see him. He’d listen to me’

That was Temile. His voice couldn’t be mistaken. He was definitely not in France or Cyprus having a good as they had all expected. He was in the country, the same country where this whole killing of his own people on the battle field was happening, and who had given him the phone line?

‘I’d love to speak with Achor in person. When do I come around?’ Faraj felt that sting of hatred run through him. This was their number one traitor. He had betrayed all of Rockville when they were at the brim of success. Now he wants to speak Achor into doing what. He was no saint right now, he knew it, but he was far better than Temile. He said no word but just quenched the phone and dropped it.

‘Mr Faraj who called in?’ Captain Sirius asked sharply.

‘No one sir.’ It was a foolish answer. The phone was going to ring again and he knew it.

Captain Sirius had not fully dealt with his irritation at Faraj’s ‘No one sir’ as to give him the reward for such a stupid response before the phone rang again. ‘Give me that phone before I break your skull’. He held it unto his ear. ‘Hello’

‘It’s Temile and I want to speak with Captain Achor.’

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