Jerry stood at his window, watching Port Harcourt rush home. He’d been doing a lot of thinking, knowingly but reluctantly. He’d reluctantly thought about Sally, and he’d wondered why he’d asked to see her some other time.
You know this will probably end like last time.
He’d been silent on that question, as his mind had harried him to no end. He’d not wanted to think about her, but he’d had no choice.
He’d missed her.
Although he’d not wanted to admit it, ever since she’d left he’d felt like a part of him had wandered, and the short relationships, flings more like, that he’d had had not come anywhere near what they’d both had. He smiled wryly as he remembered how miserable he’d felt. All those days of pacing his room, staring at his phone, willing it to ring, asking himself why he’d never been ready to open up to her.
And now, to be reunited with her at this moment, this hardest of times.
He recalled his time with the Reverend earlier today. His question had struck him as funny.
“Are you a praying man, detective?”
Truth be told, he’d lost all taste for God a long time ago. He couldn’t really place a finger on a particular moment when this had happened; it was as if someone had punctured a hole in his faith, a tiny hole, but a hole nonetheless, and he’d gone through life with his faith gradually seeping out of him.
He couldn’t even remember when he’d last gone to Church.
Not that he hated the Church or hated God, or anything of the sort. He just…couldn’t find his faith, his strength to believe in Him anymore. A God who would let so many bad things happen in the world, to so many people, to him.
So no, he wasn’t a praying man. And he’d told the Reverend that.
Reverend Taiwo smiled. “Then I suggest you start praying again Detective, because that is the only way you are going to catch this killer.”
“Why don’t you tell us what you know, Reverend Taiwo, and we’ll take it from there?”
Reverend Taiwo heaved a huge sigh. “Okay, I’ll start from the beginning.” He adjusted his collar, and then he began his story.
“I wasn’t always stationed in Port Harcourt. I was previously stationed in Lagos about 3 years ago, in St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Ipaja. Wonderful church, wonderful congregation. Everything was going smoothly, until Tolu died.
“Tolu was a sweet girl, 18 years old. Very polite and God-fearing. She respected her elders, and sang in the choir. She was also in her first year in the University of Lagos. One day, her mother went to her room after she had not seen her by 8 am. She saw Tolu on the floor, one eye popped right out of her head, skull broken open and brains splattered on the floor. She had a heart attack on the spot. Autopsy reports said Tolu had broken almost every bone in her body. They’d asked if she’d fallen off a building, as that was the only thing that could have caused the extensive damage they’d seen. According to Tolu’s parents, she’d been afraid of heights, but that didn’t explain what they’d seen. The Doctor in charge of the autopsy said the only other way was if someone had systematically broken her bones and forced her eyes to pop out. Which was impossible to do without a struggle, and without noise. Investigations at the time came out with the same results you have now. No sign of forced entry, no sign of a killer, no trace, nothing.”
By now, James had perched on the edge of Jerry’s table, as they both gave Rev Taiwo their full attention.
“Around this time”, Rev Taiwo continued, “I began to feel the start of a spiritual war, and I prayed and prayed for strength. I tried to console Tolu’s family as best as I could. And then, 2 more deaths; one in another church, and the next one in my church. The one that happened in another church, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church to be precise, was that of another young girl, Betty. Betty was found with her head hacked off, which prompted the talk of ritual killings. Chinyere on the other hand, was a member of my church, and her death was even stranger than the other 2. The autopsy discovered spiders in her stomach.”
James cringed and looked at Jerry, who kept a straight face. Part of his mind was saying that the Reverend was just telling him poppycock, but another part of his mind, a tiny little bit that just wouldn’t go away, was telling him to listen carefully. He always obeyed this part of his mind, as it had saved him plenty of work many a time.
“Then the Spirit of The Lord spoke to me, and revealed some strange things to me, and set me off on a painful but necessary task. I went back to the families that had lost their daughters and had painful interviews with them. I learnt some important things after I’d done that.
“Tolu was afraid of heights, and Chinyere was scared of spiders.”
Now Jerry was sceptic, and he asked Rev Taiwo, what does this prove?”
“Well, The Lord revealed to me that a Demon was on the loose, and he was the one doing this.”
Jerry gave a small, wry smile. “I hear of Demons running around everyday Reverend. They have been held accountable for many a misdeed in this country.”
“This…this was different. It was a higher Demon. And it was wreaking havoc. It the Dream Demon, and it killed people in their dreams, with their fears.”
James looked at Jerry, disbelief and alarm struggling for a place on his face. Jerry’s lips turned down at the corners. He made a steeple with his fingers, placed it on his nose, and stared at Rev Taiwo over them, brows furrowed. Then he said “Okay, just for the sake of argument, let’s just say you are right. How then do you explain Betty? Her head was hacked off, according to you. Explain that.”
Reverend Taiwo chuckled sadly. “When Betty was younger, she had an accident. The car she in ran into a stationary trailer at night. She was the only survivor. A piece of metal scratched her on the neck, but that was it. If her head had been an inch more to the left, she would have lost her head. According to her parents, ever since then, she had always been conscious of her neck. She was wary of anything on her neck; she barely even wore necklaces.”
Jerry closed his eyes as his mind asked him, Does any of this make any sense? Is any of this rational at all? And then that small part of his mind spoke up: Is this case rational to begin with? The thing you saw in Mary’s room, did that look like the work of a rational individual?
“So what are you suggesting, Reverend?” James asked.
“I am not suggesting anything, Detective James. I am telling you that there is a Demon on the loose that kills people with their fears.”
“How did you handle the situation in Lagos?” Jerry asked.
Reverend Taiwo sighed. He looked older than he’d looked thirty minutes ago. “After Chinyere’s death, the Lord revealed the modus operandi of this Demon. It possessed the body of a young man, and befriended these ladies. Got into relationships with them. Cunning Demon, it was patient, and I presume the relationships might have gotten sexual as well, but according to friends who had known the dead girls, the relationships had been pretty serious, and in Betty’s case, sexual as well. After getting close enough to learn about them, it killed them.”
“So did you stop this…this Demon?” Jerry asked again.
“By the Grace of God, I did. I discovered the young man that was possessed by this Demon. The Lord led me to him, and he followed me to church, somehow. Don’t ask me, because I don’t know. He confessed to me, in the presence of the 2 resident priests and the Curate as well, that he felt something was wrong, that there were times he couldn’t account for his time, sometimes days. And there and then, the spiritual battle began.
“To spare you the long detail, in the end the Demon was defeated, with the help of the Holy Spirit, but it was the most frightening experience any of us had faced. I can’t begin to describe what happened there, but after that day, the killings stopped. I was also transferred down here, about 6 months later. Back then I’d asked God why everything had happened, but now I think I know why I’d been transferred to this place. God always has a reason for everything.”
They fell silent for a while as Rev Taiwo’s words seeped into their pores and resided within their hearts. Jerry didn’t know what to think, but he felt the stirrings of an emotion within him. He didn’t know what emotion it was. He looked at watch and saw that they’d talked for more than an hour. The day shift would soon be ending.
As if on cue, Reverend Taiwo looked at his wrist-watch, then stood up, saying “I have to go now, but you can always reach me.” He took out his card and handed it to Jerry, then took out another one and handed it to James. “Never hesitate to call me. The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh, but against principalities and powers, and against the agents of Darkness.”
Jerry chuckled. “I carry a gun Reverend.”
The Reverend’s last question, his face sombre, just before he turned around and left, still troubled Jerry deep down.
“How then, Detective, do you intend to stop a killer you can’t see with your physical eyes or shoot down with your gun?”
It was late, and Kabiru Sani sat at his office desk, trying to concentrate on his work and doing a bad job of it. The town was really going to shit. Senator Chimeka dead. Now one of the campaign offices of his party burnt to the ground. 7 dead.
What is going on?
Life had been simpler up until a few days ago. Work had been going on smoothly, and his pursuit of the Government contract to supply building materials for the rehabilitation of the bridges and roads in the Obio/Akpor Southern part Rivers State had been looking up. Yes he had been in the opposing party to the Senator, but come on, this was politics; anything for the money. All that stuff was nothing but window dressing. At the end of the day, they were all there for one thing only.
And now, this.
Who had started this war? Who had lit this ticking time bomb in the political machinery of the state?
So far, no word on the streets, and no good news from his investigators. Police also had nothing yet.
Well, he really hoped something would be done, and soon. This was going to set him back some millions again, because he would have to grease a new set of palms, get close to some people, the whole shebang. All over again. At least with the Senator it had been a bit easier, given the fact that he’d known him for a while and-
The lights went out.
Kabiru Sani stared stupidly into the darkness for a moment, surprised at the sudden plunge into darkness. The light from his laptop screen pierced his eyes, and he pushed it aside as he turned to look outside his window.
There was power everywhere else. So why had only his office expe-
The cold hand of dread touched the back of his neck, causing his hairs to stand. His nostrils flared as his eyes adjusted in the darkness and he shifted the laptop away from his direct view.
The Senator’s death was ringing in his ears. His whole family, burned together with him in his house. Aaah. His heart began to race, and he calmed it down. He steadied his breathing as he felt for the bottom drawer, opened it. Lifted the pile of papers.
The thud of footsteps on the staircase, coming up to his office.
Had Gloria, his secretary, gone home? He imagined she had; it was close to 9 p.m. She probably had told him when while he was engrossed in his thoughts and work, earlier.
He picked up the pistol in his drawer, a Browning HI-Power 9mm semi-automatic. Its cold weight rested comfortably in the palm of his hand.
You are jumping at shadows.
Well, better to jump at shadows and escape danger, than remain a sitting duck and die.
The continued footsteps, towards his office.
Swallowing, Kabiru gripped the stock of the pistol as fear drew a cold line down the centre of his back.
A knock on his door.
A bit confused, he asked “Who is it?” He didn’t like the way his voice sounded.
“Oga na me, Daniel.”
Huh? He’d been scared because of one of his security guards?
Irritated, he bellowed, “Come in!” He put the pistol back in his drawer as Daniel opened the door and stepped inside, hesitantly, then made his way towards the desk. The little moonlight that shone in through the part in the curtains fell across Daniel’s face and Kabiru saw something there, something that gripped his heart in a vice and didn’t let go.
Jumping at shadows eh?
A familiar cough, and Daniel’s head exploded, spraying Kabiru with blood. His lifeless body fell forward, struck the desk leaving parts of brain and gristle on it, and then slid down, leaving a darker trail on the desk. Kabiru ignored the bloodstains on his face; the coppery taste in the back of his throat was more important. It was the taste of his fear. He fumbled in his drawer and took out the pistol, gripping it firmly and raising it…
…and then his hand went slack as Death stepped into the room. And when the moonlight fell across Death’s face, he understood.
A night of death.
Blood flows even as I wait. For that is what I have been doing. Waiting.
I cannot interfere in all the affairs of men. I do not have the power. I am but a Messenger of the Most High, here to do his bidding. And though my heart bleeds for the dead and the dying, it is in His hands.
He is the Almighty God.
The Creator of all things.
And His Will is my command. To do otherwise will be to disobey Him.
I can hear the Seraphim shout His praises, the Heavenly harps help me know that He is with me. His love burns within me, and it pains me to see so much pain, so much suffering.
And yet, I can do nothing.
I am but an Angel, one from the lowest hierarchy of the Heavenly beings. A Heavenly emissary.
A messenger of Hope, of Strength.
A messenger of Courage.
I need to wait, but I fear that Amizel will do what it has come here to do.
But my Lord has said I must wait, and wait I shall.
I hope my heart doesn’t break in the process.