Room 39| Chapter 23
As the journalist drove home that night, he couldn’t stop thinking of the entire story. He has spent over 5 hours with Kachi discussing the entire happenings and was shocked at how many things were going on Pirro’s Lane that the entire region wasn’t aware of. When this story is over, he promised himself to focus more on investigative journalism; that is where the facts, not the statements released by politicians or public officials. You need to dig deep to uncover the things that eyes do not see and ears never get to hear.
Kean got home at 3am, bodily tired but wasn’t feeling sleepy at all. His mind kept running on the best strategy to employ in getting Kachi into that building so he can recover those stolen items.
As he was about to turn on his computer to send the rest of the puzzles to Kachi, he received an anonymous call that warned him to delete all the emails he received from Chukwuma from his email account. He was confused not knowing who it was nor how the person got his phone contact. But after the discussion he had with Kachi tonight, he knew that many things are yet to unfold, and he was ready for them.
He quickly called Kachi to inform him about what just happened. They both agree that he should immediately upload all his important files to the Cloud and encrypt them. He should also copy them to a hard drive and hide it away. Then, he’ll grant Kachi access to the files. This way, they won’t lose important documents. Afterwards, he should eliminate all the suspicious data from his system.
The journalist spent all night working on this and by 8am he was done. Then, just as he was about to call Kachi to grant him access to the files on Cloud, he heard a knock on his door. When he answered the door, he saw three well-built men dressed in black suits standing in front of his door. Without exchanging greetings, they simply told him that they have an order to bring him to the FBI headquarters immediately. When he sought to know the reason for the call, he was simply told that all his questions would be answered at the headquarters. He asks for a minute and quickly gets into the bathroom to urinate.
While he was in the bathroom, he heard some noise in the apartment. When he got out, he saw that the officers were going through his computer systems without his permission. He got angry and shouted at them to stop that immediately, but his shouting fell on deaf ears as they continued unperturbed. Once he was dressed, they whisked him away to the headquarters. His only prayer was to be alive to tell Kachi what happened to him. While in the bathroom, he had sent an encrypted message to Kachi, telling him the password to the files he uploaded online and informing him that some unknown men were in his apartment to take him to the FBI headquarters.
Unknown to Kachi and Kean, the FBI was searching for people to send into Room 39 to unravel the exit code. When they got to the FBI headquarters, the journalist was ushered into a waiting room. While he was there, he continued sending cryptic messages to Kachi on his whereabouts. Soon the FBI Director appeared and asked him to come over to the meeting hall. In the meeting hall were also Mbe and some other agents. This wasn’t his first time seeing Mbe, but he couldn’t tell who he was exactly. He had seen him a few times on Pirro’s Lane and Quib’s Avenue and maybe around the new building, but he couldn’t readily tell.
The FBI Director was very scarce with his words. He simply asked if he was receiving some puzzles from the late architect Chukwuma. At first, he wanted to deny but knew that if the FBI invited him in the first place, they must have done their background checks. And since he published them online, it was very possible that someone in the room has read his website and seen it, or someone must have heard about it from somewhere. So, he responded in the affirmative.
The next question was more subtle. The Director wanted to know if any of his readers had sent back answers to the puzzles so far. To this he intelligently declined to answer, citing privacy reasons. On further pressing, he simply told them that people can attempt resolving the puzzles and commenting on his blog posts, but he hasn’t checked because the prize will go to the person who solves all the puzzles. That is the agreement. So, he’s waiting until all the puzzles have been published before he’d check to see who solved all of them.
The Director now asked him if he was aware that Chukwuma, the man who constantly sent him the puzzles, was late. He said yes that he read about it in the newspapers. They went on to ask him if there were other puzzles Chukwuma sent to him which he is yet to publish. He said that he publishes anyone he receives as soon as he receives them. So, if there were any left, he wasn’t aware of them.
Then, the Director asks him if he knew anyone who could solve all the puzzles and get them the correct code that Chukwuma was trying to communicate through the puzzles. Or if the person is willing, he can go with them into the Room to test if the code works. The journalist simply answered that he will send an email to his readers and see who shows up with the correct answers. He had wanted to say yes and mention the name of Kachi, but that would contradict his answer to the second question. The meeting ends with the director informing him that he’d need an answer within 24 hours.
When the journalist got home that day, he used a public phone line to contact Kachi, telling him everything that happened. After much deliberation, they decided to give it a shot. Kachi will be recommended by the journalist to partake in the expedition. He will go in with them to test if the exit code he had gotten from the puzzle worked. But before leaving for the FBI headquarters, Kachi and the journalist spent the day solving the other puzzles that Chukwuma sent, which the journalist hadn’t published.
Later that evening, the journalist called the Director’s office to inform him that he had found someone who could be of help in resolving the problem of the exit code. He is a well-known professor of chemical engineering from the university and has offered to help his nation in this important mission. This is how Kachi found himself in this morning’s meeting with the FBI and DNI directors.
However, what Kachi and the journalist didn’t know is that the exit code isn’t complete; there’s a tiny but important detail that Chukwuma added that day before he was killed. A detail that only Chika can guess; a detail that seems quite easy, but will her mind ever get there, or will they be trapped in Room 39?
The first time that Chika got into Room 39, she was petrified by what she saw. All her imaginations before now can best be described as rudimentary. She had at best imagined the apartment to be simply cosy with a table and chair, a safe box (CODE RED), some shelves for books. She was completely wrong.
The moment the door closed behind her, the entire place turned blue. The light in the room is designed to respond to the feelings of the person in the room. Do you remember when Chukwuma told Chika that the Room is a place they can go in to do several things together? Unless disabled the lights keep changing with changing emotions of the occupant(s).
Room 39 had been constructed with the most sophisticated security fittings available in the country. It is equipped with sensors at every centimetre. When Chika got in, an alert was immediately sent to the Police, FBI and DNI signalling that someone was in the Room. They quickly called the guards in the building but were informed that everything was okay from their end. Chika had changed the settings of all the security cameras leading to the Room, so everything seemed ok.
Another important detail that no one except Chika and Chukwuma knew is that Room 39 can be accessed from two places, the first and third floors. The access everyone knew was through the first floor. Chika, being aware of this detail entered Room 39 via the third floor where there aren’t any guards deployed. Chika knew this detail because the third floor was meant to house the director’s office and those of the top officials of the Antiterrorism agency. It was during one of her routine visits to Chukwuma that he showed her this beautifully designed office and the secret on and in the wall.
Behind Chika’s desk is a padded wall, decorated with the most beautiful clothing designs from Africa. If a man of 175cm stood close to the wall behind Chika’s desk, equidistant from the two walls on both sides, and rubbed his hand on the wall, he’d notice a little protuberance just at a 45° angle to his right.
That protuberance is a tiny button that is fingerprint sensitive. That is the only point on the entire wall that has a black covering made of Opanteclaus, a refined leaf of a rare plant found in Awo-Omamma, in the Eastern part of Nigeria. It possesses an intrinsic ability to sense human touch and in a second become transparent so that the fingerprint can be read by the sensor attached to it. How Chukwuma laid his hands on Opanteclaus is a story that I’d save for next time. He always leaves his signature in any building he constructs, and this is certainly one of those. Looking at it from a distance, you wouldn’t notice any difference from the rest of the patterns covering the wall.
Once the button is activated by Chika’s fingerprint, the wall slides both ways and a silent mini elevator appears that takes you to the first floor. On the first floor, there’s a different door that leads into Room 39. The door has the same entrance and exit requirements as the main entrance that everyone is familiar with. Chika got in through this door.
In the coming days, ROOM 39 will be available both in eBook and Paperback versions on Amazon. Please, buy the book and help me talk to your friends to buy it too. Else, I’ll go hungry. 😉
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Read Chapter 24 now.