Darkness, like the heart of man, could hide a million things.
It could mask beauty, shroud intent and conceal within its inkiness, the most vicious of ills. It is the perfect camouflage under which evil could be conducted.
Like every other thing in life, darkness also has two sides to it. Sometimes, it is scary and sometimes it is comforting.
Tonight, it is providing the latter, plus shade and discretion.
He stands in it, still, except for his eyes which roves in their socket and watched keenly, like those of an eagle hunting for lunch.
He came hunting, but not for food.
He came to prey, but he was not a predator.
He was a man; a full grown man.
He is hidden within the darkness formed by the interloping shadows of two high-rise buildings that stood mountainous on both sides of him. The buildings seemed to touch the sky. They were luxury apartments and many of such buildings dotted the neighbourhood.
He isn’t from around here, he has never been here until now. And he has come for a reason.
He looked up towards the sky and found it pleasingly dark, ominous. He could not see the moon. He was unable find it behind the monstrous buildings that surrounded him.
The moon seemed to have hidden itself from his view and it suited him.
The darkness suited him.
Nobody needed to see him. No one should see him.
He stands and watched as cars of different makes and colours drive in and out of the apartment building he had come to keep a watch on. His prey would soon arrive, he knew, the time he had been given was almost. When it arrives, he’d have to swoop on it.
Swoop in on it before it realises it was being hunted.
He’d wait, patiently so. Iblis, his mentor, had told him never to rush. Rushing spoils details, he’d been told.
So he waited.
Iblis, whoever is he? He thinks for a while.
But he didn’t care to know, all that mattered to him was the help he was getting from Iblis. He had a better chance at being the victor in this one-way vendetta with Iblis’ help. Without Iblis, he wouldn’t be here; would not know to come here.
When he became tired of standing, he crouched, perched on a discarded tire that had gathered dust in the months it had been lying where it was.
He watched, eagle-eyed and with concentration.
Just as he’d been told, he saw the red BMW make its way towards the building he’d been watching for over an hour and he too, made his way towards it.
He walked gingerly and without hurry. He knew it would take a whole thirty seconds for the automatic gate on the garage to close back after the car must have entered.
The red BMW proceeded into the garage as the gate began to close back.
He quickened his steps, getting there in time to slip under it before it closed.
He laughed sarcastically at how secured the occupants of the building would believe they were, when all an intruder needed was to wait for a car to arrive and follow it in. In their deluded mind, they were secured. They had an armed guard stationed on the main entrance, at the front of the building, another at the reception and yet another that wandered the garage. The wanderer is resting now, he was certain.
But they are as vulnerable as anyone. They are all preys. Nobody is safe in the world, the hands of death always looms over. There are predators everywhere and predators always prevail.
Preys are pawns and pawns are helpless. They are feeble and nerveless. They are to be taken advantage of. They are to be hunted.
He saw the door of the car opening and he cowered. He was shadowed by a black SUV that was parked a few feet from the BMW. He began to crawl, like a tiger going for the kill.
He crawled slowly and waited for the occupant of the car to alight.
He saw her legs first, feet concealed by a designer stiletto, and then her left hand which was bare of blemishes except for the red paints smeared on the nails.
He saw her as the unfortunate rat that had wandered from its hole in the day, not knowing that an eagle was perched somewhere close, waiting, watching and very hungry.
He got closer and cowered the more.
He got ready to swoop.
Yinks got out of her car, checked her image in the reflection from the window and thought to herself, I have to drop some more weight. She was not exactly a fat lady, many women saw her everyday and wished they had a body like hers, a perfect body.
Slim and curvaceous with the face of a movie star, Yinks doesn’t look like a thirty year old that she is, on a first guess, many would say she was twenty-two. Tonight, she’s wearing a red knee-length gown and a black stiletto that she couldn’t wait to get rid off.
She cussed the inventor of the stiletto as she got down from her BMW.
Yinks glanced around the vast expanse of the garage. The place was deserted except for cars, expensive machines that were parked as far as her eyes could see.
The place always gave her the creeps, the emptiness of it constantly made her stomach flutter, unsettled. But it was just her instincts that played rugby in her stomach, nothing ever happened, nothing ill has ever happened to her in the years she’d lived here.
Yinks had moved in here four years ago. She had moved here, into luxury from a shared flat in a tenement house. That is what success does to one; it pulls you from obscurity to affluence.
Four years ago, Yinks was just a normal girl working a seven-to-seven job, slaving away, in a cubicle that was her office; typing and Xeroxing documents all day, every day. Until one morning when a co-worker informed her about a talent show that was coming up, he implored her to participate, since she was a good singer and she’d done so.
And she’d won.
She’d won the first edition of the wave making talent show ‘the next big thing’.
Three years later, two chart topping albums, six movies, multiple awards, and she was still the next big thing. Yinks had grown to become the darling of the tabloids, envy of the women folk, an icon, a fashionista and a role model of sort, to the millions of wannabes in the country.
She jumped, almost yelped as she thought she heard a slight movement in the garage. She glanced around but saw no one. She waited, listened to pick the sound once again; all she heard was the lonesome silence of the night and her own heart beating.
She felt watched but saw no one.
She hurriedly locked the door of her sports car, heard the familiar click of the door kissing its lock and hastened towards the elevator which was twenty-five feet away.
She called for it and waited in unease. She still felt watched.
She felt eyes on her.
As the elevator arrived, Yinks heard definite movement from behind her. She heard someone walking towards her. Who could it be? She thought.
Then slowly, she turned around to see a young boy grinning at her.
“Good evening.” He said with a charming smile.
Her uneasiness immediately left her. “Evening,” she answered back. “What are you doing down here?”
“I came to drop some stuffs in the car, I often get in a hurry in the morning, forget stuffs and my mum don’t like me doing that.”
“Oh.” Yinks said, relieved.
The elevator arrived and they both entered, “What floor?” He asked.
“Eighteenth.” She told him.
“We just moved into the nineteenth,” the boy said. “I can’t believe I am in the elevator with you.” He was grinning.
“Well, get used to it. You’ll be seeing a lot of me.”
She looked at the boy as he smiled at her and guessed his age to be sixteen-seventeen at most. He was neatly dressed -though his dress sense was bland- , a little bit chubby and had a cherubic face that formed into an endearing smile when he elicited it. His dimples made him lovable.
Yinks wondered how soon she’d start having her own kids. She’d have to wait till she found the right man, wherever he was.
“When did you guys moved in?” She asked him.
“Two days ago, we are yet to settle in.”
“Can you autograph this for me?” He produced a jotter and a pen from the front pocket of his oversized sweater and handed it to her.
“What’s your name?” She asked.
“Jeremiah,” he answered back.
“Here you go boy.” She handed back to him, the signed jotter and got ready to get out of the elevator. They were almost on her floor.
“Thanks.” The still smiling boy returned the jotter into the pocket of his hooded sweater and watched as the door of the elevator opened.
“I guess I’d be seeing you around,” Yinks said as she got out of the elevator.
“Not for long.”
It was the last thing she heard before she felt a blow to the back of her head and then blacking out.
He hated it when they called him a boy. Don’t they get it, he’s a man; a full grown man.
“Here you go boy.”
The bitch had called him that. Who does she think she is?
He hated it when people looked down on him, it made him feel he was vulnerable, squashy, and it made him feel like a prey. He hated that.
People have always looked down on him, taunted him, derided him and they always paid. He always showed them who the real predator was and he was ready to show the world too.
He looked at Yinks, tied to an expensive looking chair in her own apartment and he smiled to himself. She felt helpless. She was his to prey on.
Thanks to Iblis, he was going to be a force to reckon with. He was going to show the world he was a man and not a boy they made him to be. He was going to be the next big thing.
He saw her starting to ease out of her black out, and he stood still in front of her. Watched her with his keen eyes.
The preying was about to begin.
Yinks felt disoriented as she began to open her eyes, woozy and uncomfortable.
What had happened? How did I get here?
Slowly, she oriented herself with where she was. She realised she was in her own home, tied to a chair.
Then she remembered the feeling she’d been having in the garage, the boy in the elevator and then, the blow.
Ohmigod, I’ve been kidnapped!
She fully opened her eyes and saw the boy from the elevator was there, right in front of her and he was watching her.
“Welcome back.” He said to her. “How does it feel to be this helpless?” He was standing, resting on her reading table. They were in her study and the table lamp was trained on her. She barely saw his face now, only his features. The light blinded her partially.
Scream, she told herself. But she couldn’t. She was gagged.
“Oh sorry,” he said, “You can’t talk. I couldn’t take the risk of you shouting for help, so that is how you are going to be until I kill you.” He said it without emotions, sending spikes of fright into Yinks’ body.
She jolted on her seat, fought to get off and run, but she couldn’t. She felt more hurt than relief in trying to free herself.
“Don’t try escaping cos you won’t escape, you actually can’t. I made sure so. Whatever you do, be still and listen.”
She grunted and he thought it sounded like a pig fighting futilely to avoid being drawn into the slaughterhouse. The butcher always wins; isn’t that how it worked?
He emitted a low-toned laughter that would have been endearing in another situation, but it sent a new set of fright into Yink’s body.
How come he looked so comfortable, his laughter so cute yet chilly?
“Do you know me?” He took a seat and sat directly from her.
She shook her head, wondering how she’d failed to notice his voice earlier. He sounded more matured, deep voiced, like a man.
“You won’t, too bad.”
He knew her, everyone did, but not like he knew her. They’d met once and she’d derided him, made fun of him in front of everybody. Jeremiah doesn’t forget people that made fun of him. He puts their faces at the top of everything in his mind, never letting any other thing occupy his thoughts until he got them.
Until they were paid for their sins.
And death is the wage of sin.
“Do you know what I am going to do to you?” He waited for a few seconds before continuing, “I am going to kill you.”
Yinks closed her eyes on hearing those words, she knew there was nothing she could do but pray for a miracle. She couldn’t free herself, the ropes were already eating into her wrists. A miracle was what she needed.
“But I won’t do it instantaneously, hmm hmm.” He shook his head, dissenting.
“I am going to make you suffer and you are going to make me popular.” There was enthusiasm in his voice now, popularity seemed to make him glow, “when I am finished with you -you being who you are-, my name would be in every news outlet in the country. I wonder what name they’d contrive for me,” he smiled, “whatever it is, you won’t be here to know. You’ve been in the spotlight enough longer anyways and I am going to dim it –your spotlight- time will however off it”.
“Any objections?” He looked towards her and her fear turned him on. A sudden power overwhelmed him, he felt submerged in it. He felt god-like.
And she felt helpless. Her eyes were the only means by which she could communicate with him, and he understood the language the eyes spoke.
I’d do whatever you want me to.
I’ll pay you.
I can even fuck you, but just don’t kill me.
He smiled yet again. Fucking her was alluring but he would only be giving her an opportunity to deride him the more, something to amuse her before she died.
He wouldn’t fuck her, yet.
He’d kill her first.
He looked directly into her eyes and spoke to her in the only language she was disposed to understand, “It is time.”