Hunter, Security Consultant of Oil Firm, Kidnapped

Hunter, Security Consultant of Oil Firm, Kidnapped

Hunter rode shotgun as Canaday sped his car thought the streets of the city at night. An armed policeman sat in the back seat. They passed through neighbourhoods with which Hunter was familiar and then manoeuvered through some narrow back roads that were covered with age-old potholes and lined with darkened buildings that looked as if they had not seen life for several years. Hunter wondered how many squatters were camped out behind their walls, hiding in the shadows.

Canaday seemed to know his way around the area. Hunter was curious about their destination, but he didn’t ask. On some unconscious level, he actually got an adrenaline rush from the mystery.


Hunter had completely lost his sense of direction by the time Canaday parked his car along the side of a street that was illuminated by only one functioning streetlight. Hunter’s initial fear was cleared by the sight of other cars and some stern-faced private security men around.

“I really hope you’re not lost,” he said, “because there is no way I can possibly direct you back to your place.”


Canaday pointed to a building up the road. “Look over there,” he said. “Check out the place beside the tree.”

Hunter followed the direction in which Canaday was pointing until his eyes landed on the building. He didn’t notice anything particularly interesting about the structure. “What am I supposed to see?” Hunter asked.

Canaday laughed. “Look down,” he said.


Hunter dropped his eyes down to street level. From there, he caught sight of a small flash of light flickering through one of the basement windows. “What’s going on down there?” he asked.

Canaday smiled. “Let’s go find out.”

The men got out of the car, leaving the policeman, and walked toward the building. Hunter became concerned, his eyes darting all around the area. The atmosphere was so quiet that it seemed forced – as if someone had instructed everyone in the world not to make another sound. He didn’t feel as if he and Canaday were alone on the sidewalk. The quiet had taken on a personality of its own.

Hunter followed Canaday as he skipped down the stairs that led to a basement door. They entered a dark vestibule that led to another door guarded by a tall, brawny man wearing a tight T-shirt. His muscles bulged as he folded his arms across his chest defiantly.


Canaday nodded thrice at the imposing figure. The man’s lips curled into a small smile, and he stepped aside. He opened the door and graciously invited Canaday and Hunter to enter the next room.

“I take it you’ve been here before,” Hunter asked.

“Once or twice,” Canaday said.

On the other side of the door, Hunter was startled to see a large party in full swing. A disk jockey held court, blaring rap music out of his speakers. The dance floor was crowded to the edges with bodies bouncing to the beat. Hunter was astonished. He couldn’t believe that so much action was taking place underground with barely any sign of it at street level.


Canaday led him up to the bar and ordered some drinks. Hunter hopped onto a stool and continued to watch with fascination.

“What is this place?” Hunter asked. “Who are these people? Seriously, most of them don’t look like locals.”

Canaday sipped his drink and nodded. “This is the place where tourists and foreign business travellers come to pretend they are not tourists and foreign business travellers. Fun is great when it is tinged with some risk.”

“They are not afraid of hostage-taking?” Hunter asked and laughed. “Ah, yes. I know the type. These are the people who never want to believe they are out of their element. They always want to act like they own every room they enter.”


Canaday shrugged. “Sometimes, yes,” he said. “Others just want some entertainment that doesn’t feel contrived, if you know what I mean.”

Hunter nodded.

“It’s not all bad,” Canaday said. “Some people just want to be anonymous; others want to feel like they’re doing something daring and mysterious. Whatever floats your boat, you know.”

“I guess,” Hunter said. He let his eyes wander across the room. “This is one hell of a set-up. Based on the scent wafting through the air, I take it they serve more than drinks here.”

“Are you in the mood for some weed, John?” Canaday asked.

“No thanks, not right now.”

“Are you sure? They’ve got quality stuff here, the best from Undo State.”

On some level, Hunter was tempted, but a voice in the back of his brain told him he should not do anything that might cloud his mind in a place like this. Being alert was difficult enough considering the lack of sleep the night before. He had only been drinking lightly.

Canaday threw back the last swallow of his drink and slapped Hunter on the back. “C’mon, my friend,” he said as he hopped off his stool. “There’s something I want to show you.”

“There’s more?” Hunter gasped.

Canaday flung his arm around Hunter’s shoulder and led him around the far side of the bar to a door that was guarded by another burly guard. Just as before, Canaday smiled and nodded thrice to the guard. The guard smiled and nodded back. He then opened the door and let the two men pass.

The back room was dark with the exception of the footlights on the small stage. Hunter couldn’t tell how many people were huddled around the tables, but he could hear and feel their movement like creatures in the night. On the stage, Hunter had no trouble seeing the flimsily dressed young woman who was gyrating to the music, seductively swinging around a pole, and occasionally discarding pieces of her clothing.

Hunter laughed. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “Is this really where you come to get a close look at women?”

“Why the hell not?” Canaday said with a smirk. “We’re not all studs like you, John. We don’t all get to spend time with a lady like the one you were with last night.”

Hunter’s chivalrous nature almost caused him to yell back to defend Lucy’s honour, but he quickly shook his head and laughed it off. Yes, he was lucky in that department, but he felt certain Canaday had a few conquests of his own.

Canaday and Hunter took seats at a table barely illuminated by a tiny bulb in the centerpiece. They had another round of drinks as various women took the stage, each one showing off her individual assets and unique talents. Hunter was amused by the extent to which Canaday appeared to enjoy the female presentation. It all seemed so silly, and yet it was unusually entertaining.

Minutes passed, and then hours. The late hour, the liquor, and the sleep deprivation were beginning to take their toll on Hunter. He felt his eyelids getting heavy, and he hoped Canaday didn’t notice as he dosed off.

Suddenly, the room was shaken by a blast so loud it shocked Hunter into a perfect state of alert. It was impossible to tell what had caused the explosion. At first, Hunter thought the underground club might have blown an electrical unit or one of their speakers might have burst. It immediately became clear that the cause of the blast was not so mundane.

Some people scampered towards the exit, but they soon returned with their hands raised in total surrender. One lady of about 22 years was crying and shouting “Jesus, Jesus.” The flimsy strap of her shinny flowery dress had been torn, and she tried desperately to cover her pointed breasts.

A troop of armed militants followed the returnee reveler into the back room, shooting their automatic weapons into the ceiling.

Canaday, Hunter, and all the other guests instantly hit the floor. The room was still dark, but there was no disguising the silhouettes of the gunmen as they stomped across the floor.

Hunter felt Canaday grab his shirt. “Follow me,” he whispered.

It was hard to follow in the darkness, but Hunter managed to crawl shoulder-to-shoulder with Canaday along the floor. They bumped into other people’s bodies along the way, but they weren’t about to let that stop them. Hunter hoped that Canaday knew where to find an escape hatch because he certainly didn’t.

“Shit!” Canaday let out an ear-piercing shriek.

Hunter froze in his place on the floor. His eyes caught the outline of a large man’s leg. His heavy combat boot was firmly planted on top of Canaday’s right hand. Hunter immediately felt himself being violently grabbed by the collar of his shirt and jerked upward.

“Not so fast, boys,” a deep voice blurted.




( ( ( ( (



The large truck manoeuvered its way down the bumpy road packed with nearly twenty of the revellers. It was the centre vehicle in a convoy, preceded and followed by similar trucks carrying armed troopers. A few troops rode with the hostages, brandishing their weapons in a menacing fashion.

Hunter and Canaday sat on the floor with their knees crushed up against their chests. The truck was so packed it was difficult to breathe. No one dared speak, and the tension was harsh enough to hurt Hunter’s head.

Back in the club, the militants had thrown on the lights and then carefully selected the people they would take into their custody. They were especially interested in Americans and Europeans—and they immediately zeroed in on Canaday. Hunter was ordered to follow. He assumed this was because he was seen in Canaday’s company, but he soon realised that it was much more personal.

“This experience should give you something to write about, John Hunter,” one of the masked men said, “if you ever get the chance.”



( ( ( ( (



“Slow down! Let’s start from the beginning. Who in the world are you?”

Beads of sweat bubbled up on Musa Duke’s forehead and he took the chewing gum out of his mouth as he garbled into the telephone receiver.

“My name is Canaday. I am a security consultant. I was with John Hunter when the assault went down at the club in Port Harcourt”

“What assault at what club?” Editor Duke asked.

Canaday drew in a deep breath to calm himself down. “That’s not important now.”

“It’s not?”

“No,” Canaday said. “The important point now is that John is being held captive by some extremely well-armed people who appear to have severe anger-management issues.”

Duke dropped his head into his hands and grimaced. He feared a call like this would come in when Hunter continued to dig deeper and deeper into his story, but he was hoping his experienced journalist would somehow manage to avoid such danger.

“I was taken with him,” Canaday said. “They rounded up a group of people at the club we had gone to confirm that normalcy was returning to PH, but they let most of them go once they realised they weren’t particularly valuable to them.”

“You’re an American, and they didn’t think you were valuable? Don’t you know you have a higher hostage value, as they say it, than Hunter?” Duke asked, confused.

“I managed to convince them that I was an insurance claims adjuster on vacation from Austria; that I was not working for an oil company,” Canaday said.

Duke shook his head in disbelief. “Either these captors are very stupid, or you put on an Oscar-winning performance,” he said.

Canaday suppressed a laugh. It was the first time he’d felt like laughing in three days.

“So, who are these people?” Musa Duke asked. “Where are they based, and what do they want? I’ll send a negotiator.”

“That’s the problem,” Canaday said. “I don’t have a positive ID on the group, but they clearly knew who John was from the get-go.”

“This is not good,” Duke said.

“I know he was working on a story about the Niger Delta,” Canaday continued. . “Can you think of any group that would have it in for John?”

Duke huffed. “I can’t think of any group that wouldn’t.”

“I had a feeling that might be the case,” Canaday said.

Duke rifled through some papers on his desk. “I’ll need to make up a list of the people with whom John has been dealing,” he said. “Perhaps we can rule out a few, but we may have to wait until the captors contact us with their demands.”

Canaday cleared his throat. “I hope they do,” he said nervously, “but I’m not convinced they will. I’m not sure what their motives were, and I have a bad feeling that money will not pacify them.”

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