Challenge Five: Zzyzx91
**Zzyzx91! I dare you to pronounce that with your mouth full. Better yet, say it with your mouth full AND in front of your boss! Okay. Only God knows why he used my name for his protagonist. Sigh. Children these days. No respect. This is the problem we are facing in this country. Read: Code Name: Taraba. Sorry. Jalingo. Code Name: Jalingo**
Domain: Ekoñ Ñke
Code name: Jalingo
JUSTIN!! JUSTINNN!! Wake up Justin,baby please don’t die on me,pleasee…pleasssssseeeee!!!!…keep your eyes open boo,please fight this,stay with me,you can’t die now..you can’t!! Please..
Its funny the kind of thoughts that goes through one’s mind at the point of death..lying in the back seat of a bullet ridden car, fighting to stay conscious..fighting to live.. and my last thoughts lie not on the very tragic chain of events that led me here, or the series of betrayals I’ve faced..but on the inconsequential words of one of my tutors who mentioned in one of his human anatomy classes I was unable to skip that hearing was the last sense a person lost at the point of death. For some reason, man evolved in such a way that even when he lost all means of communicating with his surrounding, he could die listening to familiar sounds.
Hearing my Dammy’s frantic pleas broke my heart, what was left of it…In another life, I would have longed to hold her and look in her eyes like in the movies..want to kiss her one last time and die nestled in her arms…in another life. As much as I willed myself to, my eyes could open only very slightly..the images are blurs..but I can tell there is blood everywhere-my blood..nearly every ounce of it..I can smell the iron in the haemoglobin,the scent is so strong I can practically taste it….I’m tasting blood alright, from the big hole in what was once my cheek..with my tongue I can feel the ‘stumps of teeth gone’ but I’m numb to the pain..and that’s not a good sign, I’ve seen all the parts of die hard, so I know pain’s good. I just turned 25, my discovery saved the world..this is my epiphany
Longest day in history
Over the radio,Captain Cahng-ho receives his orders, clearing him for take-off.. Even in the relative privacy of the cockpit of his new model Tu-99 Bear H-bomber he still tries to look tough and ‘play the part’..but his teary bloodshot eyes tell another story,of a man scared to death..they betray the fear he has carefully hidden from this commander-in-chief; the ‘madman dictator’, since he was briefed on the objectives of his mission. He has been given the biggest honour..to be a martyr for his country- the greatest nation in the world. He tenderly rubs the necklace in his hand,it is a gift from his newly wedded wife Haneul..Cahng-ho and the armed nuclear warheads on his Tu-99 are about to change the face of history forever..The long range missiles have failed…Pyongyang has a message for the world,it is as daring as its stupid…The target:Tokyo,Japan…just across the East sea.
University of Benin,Benin-City
Nestled in my cubicle in one of the research labs in the faculty of agriculture-department of agricultural bio-technology nothing prepares me for the news am about to get. Working as a graduate research assistant is as unadventurous as the pay tells, some working days, I spend nine hours in the lab idling about, doing absolutely nothing. I’ve played mahjong so many times I can finish the game blindfolded. Working with an anti-social,partially autistic scientific genius adds to the fun.
I remember the exact time I got the call because I was staring at the analog clock and smiling at the smiley face the hands of the clock had formed. It is ten minutes past ten in the morning. I was making the short walk back from the coffee machine to start on my second cup of coffee when my handler calls..Oh..I forgot to mention..I work for a special branch of government, nothing fancy really, just low level clearance to do some research for the army’s bio-fortification program. The idea is to get fruits,vegetables,meat,oats,any agro-product you can imagine that has been extra fortified with vitamins and minerals, so service men can have say a serving of bread and meat that would contain all the food groups in their daily recommended dosage. Well I got recruited in my penultimate year in the university and was given the code name ‘Jalingo’. Not one to waste words, Agent Owode’s orders were simple, “Jalingo report to HQ ASAP,the devil’s dance has begun”. I quickly opened the CNN app on my ipad..BREAKING NEWS: North Korea just bombed Japan,US is on the verge of retaliatory fire,hell is about to descend on earth…World war 3 has started, and as we feared, its a nuclear war, Armageddon, the war to end all wars.
Our headquarters lies a few kilometers away from the sleepy village of Taura, in Bauchi state in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. It is on Maisajeh Hill,the highest mountain in the country with an elevation of over 1,500m,a rugged, easily defended fortress. It is remote and far off from civilization, perfect place to hide a top-secret government facility.
WW3 changed the world. Most of Europe, Asia and North America is gone, Brazil got one nuke and was the only South American casualty. The Middle East was practically vaporized. Isreal stands, like the persistent baobab that refuses to die. Africa came out unscathed.
War is like a forest fire, old established powers are devoured and from the ashes, new sprouts emerge. Nigeria quickly became one of the strongest economies in the world. Having the largest crude deposits also helped immensely.
When a nuke strikes, its destruction is not only immediate, its effects lasts for centuries, crops cannot persist in such areas, and this creates a domino effect. Once crops cannot survive, livestock dies out and that births a famine. For the past decade, I have worked extensively on trying to develop grain seeds that can grow on nuclear contaminated soils. Five years ago, I was able to isolate DNA off Deinococcus radiodurans, a radio-resistant bacterium nicknamed Conan the bacterium because of how hardy it is. I was able to incorporate the DNA into wheat and the first radio-resistant grain crop was born. I named the wheat variety Philomena, after my mother. The success of Philomena and subsequent radio-resistant grains put Nigeria firmly on the map. The world took notice, and our government hoarded the technology and made a ton of profit. We held the key, and we took full advantage of our new found power. International espionage was in full swing as countries sent spies to try to steal our secrets and technology. The Ghanaians were our biggest scourge; countless spies were caught, tried and publicly executed. The Ghanaian agents had small GH tattoos (not too clever right?)But the tattoos are really small and can be easily concealed.
Two years after the release of Philomena, I accidentally created a bio-agent, a virus of sorts I named Elixir. D radiodurans has a unique quality; it can repair both single- and double-stranded DNA. When a mutation is apparent to the cell, it brings it into a compartmental ring-like structure, where the DNA is repaired and then is able to fuse the nucleoids from the outside of the compartment with the damaged DNA. Elixir exhibited a heightened version of this trait such that it could repair DNA of host cells if it was injected in a living organism.
The implications of this finding was immense; not only can we now grow food on previously barren soil, but now all deformities on livestock and humans caused by the nuclear bombs can be reversed. It is the invention of the century, the biggest find since pennicillin.
After seeing how the government politicized the release of Philomena, I decide the best thing to do is to hide this new finding for as long as I can. The world needs Elixir, it should be more than a political tool,saving lives should trump over making huge profits…well,let’s just say the government didn’t see it that way.
NIR HQ, Maisajeh Hill
The world was in slow-mo the first time I saw her,hips swaying from side to side,glistering skin,oozing off sophistication and intrigue…I went, “Wow!!that lady is pretty…oh…she’s smiling…she’s waving…she’s waving at me…oh my heart, be still”…And with that smile and wave, I was hooked. I try to sum up the courage to walk up to her, but I freak out…for Pitt’s sake it’s the lobby on a Monday morning, it’s as crowded as it gets. Philomena had just been released, and I was literary walking on sunshine, I am overdosed on confidence yet this lady had this aura around her, somehow I feel I would not be good enough…I make a mental note to ask her out the next time I see her. During my vacation (I got a week off after Philomena went public)I heard that a new bioengineer was transferred here from IITA in Ibadan, I expected ‘Einstein’; scruffy hair, spectacles and a wrinkled lab coat. Ten minutes later, I walk into my office/lab, guess who I see seated across my desk? The most beautiful woman in the world. The lady from the lobby.
She gets up smartly, and with a voice I can only describe as celestial she says, “Hi, I’m Damilola Omoshola, the new bio-engineer here, and you must be Dr. Justin Ighile, when I heard of the opening here, I was ready to kill for a chance to work with you”(and I’m like,dark humor, I like). She extends her well manicured hand for a shake, and she says “I hope you would have time later today, I would love to take you out to dinner, and I want to know everything about you and your work…mostly about you”.
Dinner lasted for maybe 10 minutes, le sex was le bomb. There is nothing she cannot do. Before the night is over, marriage is even discussed. Split aces as my dad would say,I just hit the jackpot…twice.
NIR HQ, Maisajeh Hill
Ighile in my office, NOW!! From the tone of his voice I know I’ve been found out. For the past few weeks, I have been hiding the biggest discovery in the history of man. Dammy just moved in and we are as strong as ever. It hurts that I can’t tell her about elixir, not that I don’t trust her, I trust her with my life, its just that I fear telling her would endanger her. If I go down, I go down alone. I have been sneaking bits and pieces of the information a random scientist would need to recreate elixir, I want the information out, the world deserves to know. I have to hide paragraphs of the work in the middle of ordinary memos, so I could write them out when I get home, the old school way, using a pen and paper. I finished writing everything two days ago and the information is tucked away in a locker in the nearby post office.
As soon as he storms out of the office I wait till I hear his door bang shut and then I make a quick dash for the door. I am on the run. The elixir is about to cost me my life, talk about an irony.
I spend three days on the run, the first day, the search for me was only conducted by the ‘cleaners’ a special ops team of military police and secret service agents, who ‘clean-up’ rouge agents. By day two, I was declared an armed and dangerous fugitive wanted on charges of murder and treason.
Dammy joins me on day three and we are on our way to the airport when a government assassin catches up with me. Our cab man, Adah, a cheerful Idoma man is calling in on a radio talk show, he likes the sound of his voice on the radio so much he is listening to himself speak on the car stereo. The assassin poses as a woman in hijab trying to cross the road. As soon as the cab slows down, he opens fire and I catch a bullet squarely in my left cheek. The exit wound on the right cheek is even bigger, there is blood everywhere, but I am alive, and Dammy is too. I threw myself over her as soon as the shooting started and my reward is the piercing pain on my back and upper arms, where large pieces of the windshield are lodged.
Our cab driver is not as fortunate, he is dead. Thankfully, the swerve of the car on his loss of consciousness took the assassin by surprise; he too is dead, crushed under the weight of the car. I know its over, the sound of distant sirens does not reassure me, I know I am a dead man either way. Apparently I got two more bullets in my abdomen, and I am loosing way too much blood.
I summarize the story of Elixir to Dammy and hand her the keys to the locker, her job is simple, give these documents to a journalist, a contact I acquired on my second day on the run, lay low for a day or two and then try to flee the country. Go to Isreal or South Africa, seek assylum there, and be happy.
JUSTIN!! JUSTINNN!! Wake up Justin,baby please don’t die on me,pleasee…pleasssssseeeee!!!!…keep your eyes open boo, please fight this, stay with me,you can’t die now..you can’t!! Please.. I try to stay conscious; I concentrate on her face, trying to commit a last image of her to memory, before my eyes close again, hopefully not for the last time. I notice she has lost an earring and then my eyes catch something, wait, what am I seeing? Very close to the piercing are the letters ‘G’ and ‘H’…Oh My God!!!…My Dammy is a Ghanaian spy…I betrayed my country and sacrificed my life only to hand elixir to a Ghanaian spy..
I scream out in agony as the reality hits me, my eyes are shut but I think I hear my scream on the radio, I cough on purpose and I hear it again. The silver lining…the cab driver was on the phone to a radio show when we crashed…the world just heard my story…I hope that helps.