Room 39| Chapter 22
Several weeks have passed since Kachi began to solve the puzzles. On many occasions, he has thought of contacting the journalist to learn more about who was passing those puzzles to him and maybe get to meet with whoever it is in person. Maybe the person has a way to get into the building where the drug is kept, and he’ll be able to recover his drugs.
But after some moments of consideration, Kachi would defer. He felt it wasn’t time yet to meet with a journalist who may likely disclose his hiding location and make the Collingahs come after him again. He wanted to remain in the dark, at least for now.
However, when the news of Chukwuma’s death broke, Kachi felt it was time to act, especially seeing that he was killed in the building premises. He had no idea whether Chukwuma died inside or outside the building, but he knew that Chukwuma’s death would raise so much dust that before it settled many things could have happened underneath. The death of Chukwuma in his opinion wasn’t planned, so, whoever committed that murder would be searching for a way to cover it up.
One evening, Kachi decided to write to Kean, the journalist, anonymously. He told the journalist that he had some interesting news regarding the death of Chukwuma, and if he wanted to know more, he should contact him within 24 hours, or he’ll miss the chance of having an exclusive big story for his online audience.
When the journalist read the mail, he was convinced that it was a big story that he couldn’t afford to miss. So, he responded the next morning informing Kachi that he was ready to meet with him. When Kachi read the response of Kean, he was excited. Although he didn’t have any interesting news to share regarding the death of Chukwuma, he decided to go anyway. At worst, he’d cook up something to share with Kean.
Kachi wrote back to him, asking that they meet at 9pm in one of the restaurants outside the city, to which the journalist obliged.
That evening before heading for the meeting, Kean hid some recording devices in both his jacket and rucksack. Kachi on his part has learnt to be very careful and a little investigative in attitude after his experience with the Collingahs. So, he also brought an mp3 recorder with him to the meeting. Before they exchanged pleasantries, Kachi turned on his recording device. He has learned the hard way not to trust anyone. They both ordered a plate of risotto ai funghi and a bottle of red wine.
The owner of the restaurant is an Italian immigrant named Chirico, a friend of Kachi. Kachi and Chirico became friends after he moved to live in the peripheries of Pirro’s Lane. Not having a wife nor children to help him cook, or access to the luxurious restaurants in the city centre, Kachi resorted to eating by this local restaurant. That doesn’t mean that Chirico’s restaurant isn’t good, far from it, but compared to the luxurious atmosphere of the restaurants located on Pirro’s lane, we can say that Chirico is a local champion with a menu that matches the best Italian restaurants in the city.
As they sat down waiting for their risotto ai funghi to be served, the journalist thought it was time to break the ice. ‘So, you had something to tell me regarding the death of Chukwuma,’ he said.
‘Shshsh… calm down young man,’ Kachi whispers, signalling Kean with his hands to relax and wait for his meal. ‘I know that you want to know the interesting story, and I’m going to tell that to you. But we have to enjoy our meals first. Risotto ai Funghi is an important meal for Italians, and I don’t think the owner of this restaurant would be happy hearing us share spy stories here and now.’ Kachi smiles.
‘But no one can hear us.’ the journalist insists.
‘You never can tell. You can’t be too sure, my dear. These inanimate walls have ears and sometimes can gossip more than we humans.’ Kachi giggles.
‘Oh, there it is… my risotto ai Funghi, hmm… italicious,’ Kachi continues as he inhales the aroma emanating from the contents on the brown ceramic plate.
‘Please, the glass of wine. Because you know that they go together, else you won’t enjoy this Italian delicacy.’ he says to the waiter.
They both grab their cutleries and begin to empty the plates into their breadbasket.
‘So, for how long have you been doing this?’ Kachi breaks the peaceful silence.
‘Doing what?’ asked Kean.
‘Working as a journalist.’ Kachi responded.
‘For a long time.’ Kean responded.
‘And that means?’ Kachi asks further.
‘For over 6 years.’ The journalist replied.
‘Ok. You are well vast to be in this business for just 6 years. It shows that you read a lot. I read most of your write-ups and they’re full of interesting pieces of knowledge. I love that you do your research before publishing anything.’ Kachi said, showing his admiration for the intellectual and writing skills of the young journalist.
‘Thank you, Sir. That’s actually normal for us journalists.’ Kean said.
‘No, not so. I have seen very bad journalism recently. People that don’t know anything and do not make efforts to verify their stories are writing the front pages of newspapers and having viral contents.’ Kaci insists, returning to his earlier point.
‘Well, there are always those types of people in every sector Sir.’ Kean points out.
‘That’s true, but journalists should be very careful. Words have power, especially when they come from someone people trust should know his or her stuff.’ Kachi said.
‘You’re right. But you haven’t told me who you are and what you do.’ the journalist cuts in.
‘Well, I’m a chemical engineering professor at the university close to us here. I’m also a researcher with one of the most important laboratories in the nation. Or rather, I had one of the most important laboratories in the nation with a great team of biologists, bioengineers, oncologists, paediatricians and gynaecologists working for an important cause.’ Kachi said with a sad tone.
‘So, what happened, why did you say, ‘you had?’ Did it burn down? You lost the funding you had or you’re now on pension? You don’t look that old to me, but who knows.’ The journalist asked.
‘Well, that’s why I called you. To tell you what happened.’ Kachi responded.
‘Okay, that sounds interesting. I mean, I’d like to have the answers to all the questions I just asked, but when you say that you called me just for that, then it doesn’t sound so good. That wasn’t the agreement we had. You invited me for an exclusive story on the death of Chukwuma.’ Kean says, showing some disappointment.
‘And that’s what I’m about to tell you; the exclusive story I told you about.’ Kachi responds.
‘Wait, are you saying that you killed him, or you know someone that killed him?’ Kean asks.
‘Oh, come on! This is why I said that you journalists need to verify things. You’re already rushing so fast to a conclusion without relaxing to let me speak.’ Kachi says, showing his displeasure at what Kean had just said.
‘I’m relaxed, but I also need to ask questions. That’s what a journalist does too.’ Kean insists.
‘Alright, if you want to ask questions all night without listening, then, we call off the meeting. I’m sorry for inviting you. Don’t worry about the bill, I’ll take care of it. You can take your leave now.’ Kachi says, rising from his chair.
‘Chirico… Chirico my friend, I’m done. I’ll be going now because this young lad doesn’t understand what’s going on. He thinks Pirro’s lane is all gold and glamour, beautiful ladies and nice cars with great architecturally designed buildings,’ Kachi continued.
‘He thinks he understands it all because he secretly receives puzzles that he publishes weekly. His source is dead, and his career is about to tank but he doesn’t know it.’ Kachi concluded, as he moved the chair backwards and headed towards the cashier.
When the journalist heard that, he realised that Kachi isn’t a timewaster after all; if Kachi knows that it was Chukwuma that sent the puzzles to him, then he certainly knows so much more.
‘Oh, I’m sorry Sir. I’m so sorry. It hasn’t gotten to that. I’m sorry for the way I acted. It’s just that I came with a mind to hear what you had to say concerning the death of Chukwuma.’ Kean begs.
‘And I told you that I’m going to tell you that. It’s part of my story. Just be patient.’ Kachi responds.
‘Ok Sir, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Can we sit back down and continue our discussion, please?’ Kean asks.
‘It’s ok.’ Kachi adjusts himself and sits back. ‘Please, let’s have coffee.’ Kachi says, turning to the waiter.
‘Can I record the discussion, Sir?’ Kean asks.
‘Sure, you can. I’m recording too. I’ve learnt not to trust anyone.’ Kachi answered.
‘Alright. You didn’t ask for my permission to record our conversation, but it’s alright.’ Kean said, a bit shocked that Kachi has been recording the conversation.
‘I’m sorry for the way I spoke a few seconds ago. Actually, I called to tell you what I know concerning the death of Chukwuma, but I also want something from you. What you’ll get from me will help you understand the circumstances surrounding his death, but what I want from you will help to unravel the person that killed that great architect. It’s something we should do together, for the sake of this man.’ Kachi posited.
‘Okay. So, what do you want from me and what do you want to give to me?’ The journalist asks.
‘Let’s start with what I’ll give to you: this is a story that began several months ago, which no media house covered because it was actually done in secrecy so that nothing gets out. This is the story of a pill that was meant to serve cancer patients, but evil minds intended to use it for a different purpose. That is the origin of this whole drama that is unfolding today.’
Kachi goes on to tell him the whole story of the drug he synthesised in his laboratory and how the Collingahs destroyed his laboratory and carted away all the documents and drugs. Then, how some corrupt FBI agents stole those drugs and probably hid them inside that building. He then suggested that Chukwuma may have been killed because of those stolen items.
‘I don’t know if he was killed by the corrupt FBI agents or the Collingahs, but I’m sure that if we could get into that building and find those stolen items, we’ll hold the key to unravelling who the murderer is.’ Kachi said. ‘This way, Chukwuma will truly have justice and I will also have justice for the wrong that the Collingahs did to me and my staff.’ Kachi concludes.
When he was done with the entire story, the journalist knew what Kachi wanted, and he was willing to give it to him without questions. Kachi needed the rest of the puzzles that Chukwuma had sent to the journalist. He wants them so he can decipher the exit code of Room 39.
While Kachi was bent on laying his hands on those drugs and then punishing the Collingahs, the journalist was interested in making Mbe, the Collingahs and whosoever partook in the killing of Chukwuma pay. The exclusive story, which Kean could turn into a series on his website, is just a pleasant addition.
The main issue now is how to get Kachi into the Antiterrorism building, but most importantly into Room 39. At the moment, they have no idea how that would happen, but they are sure an opportunity would soon present itself. They just need to be prepared for it and patiently wait.
The journalist promises to send Kachi the most recent puzzles that Chukwuma sent to him over the last week. He was about to publish them on his website before he learnt of Chukwuma’s death, so he withheld them. He felt that some ill-intentioned people may be after those codes. These puzzles, according to him, hold the key to discovering who killed Chukwuma.
ROOM 39 will be available both in eBook and Paperback versions soon! Wait for it!!
Thanks for reading. Make sure to share, comment and subscribe for more inspiring posts.
See you tomorrow with Chapter 23.