This story although fictional is loosely based on actual events. Some readers may find some of the scenes depicted in this story disturbing.
Magdalene Hostel, Kebby Creek, Delta State, Nigeria
July 7, 2002, Friday 23:09
I pulled the car into the vast parking lot that belonged to Magdalene Hostel. Previously this morning I had hired the car from Plymouth Motoring Services, which was the only car hiring company in Kebby Creek. This means that any smart Alec trying to trace the car would end up at the company. The name I put down would probably mean nothing and even it did I was safe.
There were hardly any lights coming from the rooms facing the car park. This wasn't surprising since most of the inmates had gone for the mid-semester break and wouldn't be back until a week later. The only female students who hung around during this period were either fellowship people, prostitutes or just plain broke. The girl I came to see fell into the middle category.
I checked the glove compartment to see if the bottle was still there. It was. Of course it was, I made sure I put it there this morning. That's the problem with me, I always check, double check and triple check even when I know that everything had already been checked. I am always terrified that something will go wrong.
In the back seat is a knife set fixed into a metal brief case. It has a dozen different knives, each of them razor sharp with heavy black handles. I had bought it also this morning at a shopping mall in Kebby Central. It had been quite costly- 37, 000 Niara. But it was worth it. I had tested the blade of the biggest of them (specifically for hacking meat) by giving a slight nick on my thumb. The rush of pain and the squirt of blood gave me a thrill of pleasure. But it would be nothing compared to the pleasure I would receive tonight.
The double doors of the hostel were only half open when I went through it. The hallway was pitch black except for the light that emitted from the porter's office. He looked up quickly but lost interest immediately he saw me. I ascended the staircase in a quick trot. The corridors stank badly like the corridors of all female hostels, especially now the cleaners were off duty. I reached Room 329 and knocked on the dirty green door that was plastered all over with religious stickers.
"Who is that?" shouted a voice harshly from within.
Ever since the mid semester break started, girls had been reluctant to open their doors to strangers. There had been isolated cases of rape and robbery and they were getting scared.
I told her my name. I could sense her hesitation but I heard feet shuffle to the door after a loud squeak from protesting springs told me she was getting up from bed.
I noticed her surprise when she opened the door and saw me. Obviously Ejiro wasn't expecting me.
"What are you doing here?" she asked suspiciously.
"I have something for you" I answered cryptically. I pushed past her into the room. I noticed her roommates were not around. Not that it would have mattered anyway.
"What do you have for me?" she asked suspiciously, "And who says I need anything?"
I sat on her bed and contemplated her thoughtfully. She was wearing a translucent peach coloured nightdress that made her look delicious. I smiled at her. She flinched.
"What do you want?" she demanded still standing near the door, "It's late. I want to sleep."
"There will be enough sleep for you in the grave. Sit down. I want to talk to you."
Ejiro sat on an unmade bed furthest from me like she was sitting on a keg of gunpowder. She made a point of avoiding eye contact. That wasn't strange. People found it difficult to look me straight in the eye.
"There's a white man that came in from Holland this afternoon", I noticed her stiffen to attention. In this part of the world the two words white man translated to two others- foreign currency, " He needs some entertainment this night so he met me in Sandy's Bar and asked me to fix it up for him."
"I see. So how much is he ready to pay?"
"Oh, that's between you and him. He has however already given me my commission."
I raised my hand to stroke the back of my head, showing off the gold watch dangling on my wrist. Her eyes nearly fell out of her head.
"So when does he want me?"
"Let me get dressed."
"Don't worry you'll do fine in that." I said quickly.
Ejiro's eyes widened.
"In this!" she exclaimed, touching the light fabric defensively, "I'm practically naked under this."
"Exactly." I smiled sweetly at her and she cringed "Now hurry up I have a car waiting outside."
The Marshes, Kebby Creek
July 8, 2002, Saturday 03:30
The sky was as black the depths of Sheol when Inspector Musa arrived at the Marshes in his official blue Peugeot 504 station wagon. Thunder growled in the distance. It was going to rain. Drops of it were already streaking across the windscreen. He glanced at the clock on the dashboard. 03:30. According to William Shakespeare, at this hour only the Wolf and the Murderer were about. There were no Wolves in Kebby Creek but the occasional killer was not a far-fetched phenomenon. Grabbing his torch and umbrella he sighed and got out of the car.
He trudged through the mud to where he could see some flashlights bobbing in the distance. He met three uniformed men and Tony Ani, the police photographer. Near them a white sheet covered something on the ground. All except Tony looked visibly shaken in the glow of his torchlight.
"What happened here?" he demanded his heart sinking into the pit of his stomach like a torpedoed ship.
"Another one" Tony said shortly, "Number four. It's under the sheet."
It, thought Musa with dread. This didn't sound good. Not good at all.
Taking one end of the sheet he tentatively raised it up. What he saw made him recoil violently
It took time to verify it was a human body much less female. The corpse was drenched in blood. Not less than fifty stab wounds were visible on the tortured flesh. The breasts had been cut off, other sensitive parts hideously mutilated. The face had been bashed to pulp. The eyes had been goughed out leaving only gaping black sockets. Whoever it had been had been literally hacked to pieces. Musa struggled to control the bile that rose in his throat. He had never seen anything so horrible in his life.
"My God" he whispered.
Someone said Amen.
Tony Ani, came up to him. His young face was alight with interest.
"I don't know about you, Sir, but this is the worst I've seen so far."
He was holding his camera like a newborn baby. Musa was certain he must have taken a lot of gruesome pictures.
"Tony" he said finally, "You just spoke my mind. What the hell is all this?"
His answer was not encouraging.
"A psychopath is on the loose."
"That's nonsense. Serial killers don't exist in Nigeria."
"Who says? There's always a first time for everything."
"Tony, you've been watching to many western movies. Be realistic."
The two detectives moved slowly away from the uniformed officers.
"Did you boys find anything?" Musa asked cryptically.
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing."
"Not a chance. The victim's clothes were not even left behind. The killer for some reason does not want the victims identified."
"Why do you like referring to the perpetrator in a singular sense? Why not plural?"
"Serial killers normally act on their own."
"Tony, for goodness sake!"
"Hey, but check it yourself. Why should a ritual killer take the pains to completely distort his victims features? Normally after collecting the parts he wants he'll just bolt, right? It doesn't make any sense at all."
"Nothing seems to make sense any more Tony. Just tell those boys to keep looking."
He glanced disapprovingly at the turbulent night sky. It was certainly going to rain.
"There is something else you should know too" Tony said softly, "These men are spooked. They think this is the work of some kind of bogeyman. They even think the marshland is haunted."
Musa cast them a disparaging look.
"The problem with us Africans is that we are too superstitious" he said in disgust, "Tell them to keep looking or they won't go home."
"Sure, Sir." He moved away. Inspector Musa shook his head and half-heartedly swept his torch over the muck around him. The DPO was going to love this.
Barrister Clark's Residence, London, England
September 3, 2000, Tuesday 16:26
Caesar Clark looked thoughtfully at the face of the pool of tea in his mug.
"So, Dad do you feel lonely?" he asked casually.
Edward Clark looked up from his own brew and stared pensively at his son. Looking rather miniature in his huge, white wooly sweater, he looked like a wizened old professor with his gray flecked hair and glasses.
"Of course I am, Edmund" he answered a bit defensively, "London isn't exactly a place of warmth."
Caesar glanced at the icy rain lashing ruthlessly against the double-glazed windows and he had to agree.
"Why don't you get yourself a woman, dad? Before you freeze to death."
Barrister Clark's small spectacles nearly fell into his cup of tea.
"Edwin! I'm surprised at you. I'm not even officially divorced from your Mom yet."
"So what, Dad? You two are separated. She lives in Nigeria while you're here in England. Who's going to care? Anyway she doesn't seem to mind sleeping around back home."
"Edmund, don't talk about your mother like that. We are different people. She can do what she wants."
"Do you know your problem, Dad? You are too nice. You are incapable of saying a bad thing about anyone."
"That's not a good thing?"
"You should express your feelings. It helps get things off your chest."
"I do express my feelings. Sorry to disappoint you if they're not harsh."
Caesar sighed exasperatedly.
"You talk as if you are still in love with her."
"I am still in love with her."
"Oh, great. Do you think she loves you in return?"
"Why don't you ask her yourself, Edmund? She's your Mom. She'll tell you the truth."
Caesar groaned in finality and frowned again at his mug.
Caesar Clark and Cassandra Okafor did not share the conventional mother-son relationship. She had once worked for the Nigerian Embassy in London and that was when she met Edward Clark, a young British lawyer working in the city. A romance had blossomed between them and they had married. Unfortunately her pregnancy had been troublesome and nearly fatal and the baby could only be removed by Caesarian operation. Hence Cassandra nick named him Caesar which Edward felt was done out of spite and later on in life so did her son think as well.
Caesar's mother was extremely beautiful, she had everything a man could want from a woman -a golden complexion, long rich dark hair, an angelic face and the body of a goddess. That beauty was double edged.
Even though it opened doors for her it also turned out to be her albatross. She was in hot demand, both by whites and blacks and she was continuously pestered. Like any dyed in the wool Nigerian she used this to her advantage and naturally she was wild at heart.
However poor Edward was not, he was uptight and aloof like his British counter parts and could not take the pressure any more so eventually one cold, wet, autumn morning he sat her down and called it quits. Cassandra decided to go back to Nigeria and insisted she take Caesar along with her. Edward was not in any mood for messy divorce proceedings and child custody cases so he let her do as she wished but not without her promising that his son could visit him from time to time.
Growing up for Caesar wasn't easy. Even though he had his mother's beauty, he had his father's pride and many a time he could not understand his mother's excesses. She jumped from boyfriend to boyfriend, most of the time as stepstools for her political ambition. She decided never to marry again and never to have any other children so Caesar remained her only child.
He refused to follow his mom's political footsteps and normally took solace in reading and writing and very soon ended up an investigative reporter for Newsday. As usual his reports were always vehemently against the Federal Government and the so-called elite of the society which he hated with a passion. Later he switched to his dad's name so he couldn't be linked to his mom.
"Well, Dad, I'll be off" he announced as he tentatively placed the mug down on the side stool, "I have an assignment to carry out."
"Alright. Take care, Son."
"What's this assignment about anyway?"
"Oh, nothing. Just to interview some demented old clown who should have been shot years ago."
"Yeah, yeah. I know. My language is becoming too colorful, right? Give me a break, Pa, I'm not like you."
"You should try to emulate me" scolded the Barrister.
"Nah. Life will be too boring. Anyway haven't you heard that children are usually the opposite of their parents?"
"To my chagrin unfortunately."
"Your problem not mine. At least I'm sure my own kids will be well behaved.'
"Speaking of kids, do you have a steady girlfriend?"
"Don't start now, Dad. I'm off." He got up to leave.
"I hope this assignment of yours isn't dangerous?" his Dad asked concerned.
"I almost wish it was. Only then will it be worth the ticket. Bye."
He had no idea that in less than a day he would eat those words.
Dawson's Close, Manchester City, England
September 3, 2000, Tuesday 18:43
The black taxi stopped him by a sign that said Dawson's close ending his journey from London. He glared at the mop of barley-blond hair with the black taxi cap pressed unsuccessfully over it.
"Why are you stopping? " he demanded " I'm going to the last house on Dawson's close."
The taxi driver shrugged.
" Restricted Area, " he replied "Private vehicles only."
Caesar didn't think that was true but he didn't push it. He paid the amount on the meter and hauling out his overnight bag started down the close.
Caesar Clark was not pleasantly surprised by the assignment bestowed upon him. To be more precise he was mildly enraged. He had been given the task of interviewing Peter Marquis one of the big party bigwigs of Nigerian Politics, international business man and notorious philanderer. He was vacationing in his "English Retreat" just one of the numerous villas he had on different corners of the globe. News Day had been seeking an interview from this "Echelon" of high society for months now and at last he graciously granted them an interview. Caesar failed to see why they should give a hoot about what he felt was a glorified rogue and more importantly why they should send him to do the interview.
"Because," the Editor told him cheekily as he stood complaining in her office, "You're a junior reporter here".
"But I'm in the crime section," complained Caesar, "Not in society people."
The Editor was not impressed by this clarification. She sneered at him.
"There is no crime story of significance for you to investigate. Anyway you should be happy you're going to England. Now run along." Caesar had left the office seething with suppressed fury and suspecting that the Editor was secretly in love with Peter Marquis. He wondered how he could go through with it without the celebrity politician seeing the hate lurking in his eyes.
As he walked along the quiet street he glanced at the houses he passed on either side of the road. Each was a red brick affair all looking exactly alike. Like all the houses had been built exactly the same time. They had the same size of front yard space with the green grass mowed perfectly well. Trees lined the close but the green foliage had been replaced by a golden blaze of brown as the summer had almost entirely faded to autumn. Brown leaves billowed around his feet as the cold gusts of wind tugged at his trench coat. Caesar yanked up his collar and sighed. England.
Peter Marquis' house ended the close, lying between the two sides like it was the head quarters. Caesar was surprised and slightly envious that a black man, a Nigerian for that matter, could acquire a place of such taste in Britain. He had lived in London for most of his childhood and he knew the whites there were rather xenophobic if not particularly racist. Times were changing he supposed and it was common place for rich Nigerians to buy houses in Britain possibly to the chagrin of the more conservative locals. Those Nigerians still roasting at home loved to hear stories of those lucky people and extolled them. Caesar on the other hand did not see reason for glorifying looters of the father land's treasury and if he had his way would like nothing better than to see all of them taken to an island, lined up and shot. As for Peter Marquis he would love to shoot him personally.
Caesar opened the little gate which squeaked in protest and walked up the tiled walkway to the door. There was even an old-fashioned doorknocker -- a ring through a gargoyle's mouth. Caesar resisted the temptation and used the doorbell instead. The door opened exactly ten seconds later. His carefully prepared deadpan expression evaporated instantly.
A young white lady stood before him, her hand still on the knob, a semi -- polite quizzical expression on her face. She would have been gaunt if not for the extra flesh in the right places and the olive -- green wool sweater she wore accentuated those areas. Her hair was long and a straw blonde and it flopped untidily over her shoulders. Her washed out blue jeans clung to her long legs like a second skin. Her face was rather long, nose beak like with thin pressed lips underneath. But what arrested him were her eyes. They weren't blue but an arctic gray and they were as flat and as lifeless as the Dead Sea. For some reason a cold shiver crawled up his spine.
"Yes?" she asked laconically. She studied him the way you would study a strange insect that had just crawled out from under a rock.
"I'm looking for Peter Marquis" he said a bit uncertainly, "I'm Caesar Clark, a reporter from News Day, a paper based in Nigeria. We were to have an interview this afternoon here in his residence."
A strange look crossed her face which Caesar could not decipher and her eyes glittered for a fraction of a second.
"I' m very sorry" she said apologetically and smiled a ghost of a smile," Mr. Marquis has gone."
"He traveled actually. Europe. Says he will be there for the rest of the year."
Caesar's mouth fell agape in bewilderment. "Oh. When did he leave?"
"I must admit this is strange news. Especially since be promised us he would have the interview today."
"Stranger things have happened."
"And you are…?"
"Mel. His girlfriend. Now if you'd excuse me I have something on the fire."
"But ..er.." He found himself speaking to the gargoyle door knob.as the door was shut in his face. Caesar raised an eyebrow. It was true that English hospitality was as warm as the weather. He shrugged to himself and turning round started up the close A furtive glance backward and he saw Mel staring at him from an upstairs window. The curtain flickered and the face was gone. Bemused, Caesar continued to walk on. Suddenly he was aware of someone trying to get his attention.
She was at the door of one of the houses, beckoning to him with her hand. Caesar knew he was the only one on the street so he didn't try to point at himself. He walked up to where she stood.
She was a tall stately brunette and well endowed. She wore a bathrobe that had little success in containing her voluptuous figure. Her hair was cut short and covered her head like a skullcap. Huge candid eyes stared at him over a rather big nose and full red lips. She looked friendly and eager to please. She was a total contrast to the other lady he had just met.