The horrific crime had the same attributes as the others; a suburban area, a deserted house, two grotesquely mutilated bodies –man and woman- lying in a pool of their congealed blood, facing each other in a strange alignment of death with their lifeless eyes locked in an endless, expressionless stare. Maggots and flies devoured the cadavers in a feeding orgy as they ate their way through skin and viscera. The nauseating odors of decaying flesh and excreta could be perceived from yards away; smells that helped discover the grisly scene. At the corner of the room was a recliner and two partly filled plastic bottles of coke with names on them; Henry and Omolola. The patterns were eerily consistent and the prospect of a methodical serial killer in Lagos, initially deemed implausible, was clearly evident.
Inspector Balogun assigned men to cordon off the house and handle the teeming crowd gathering in the streets. He studied the scene before him, taking notes and pictures as he fought back the urge to empty his guts all over the floor. All the victims had similar physique; the men were usually short and stocky, the women, average height and plump .There were no signs of their clothes or personal effects. The blood spatter pattern suggested the victims put up little resistance, and just like the others, it seemed they bled to death from the trauma while the killer relaxed in the recliner and watched on with perverse pleasure. In his twenty years of service, he had seen countless gruesome murders, most of them were isolated events but none was as bloodcurdling in its brutality as these recent murders which he presumed, could only be perpetrated with such cruelty and calculation by an intelligent psychopath. A killer that left coke bottles with their victims’ name on it relished the thrill of his ‘game’. So far, they had uncovered four incidences, strategically spread across Lagos, eight bodies and eight coke bottles with names: Bolanle, Rasheed, Ifeoma, Abdul, Nkechi, Adeleke, Nimot, and Tayo. This becomes the fifth.
“Oga,” said his aide who stood by the door, speaking through his nose mask “This is the fifth case in five months that this has happened. Rumors are already spreading that this is some form of occult ritual. I mean, even look at the bodies and how they are placed, dem be like the ones wey happen for Ozumba Mbadiwe and Ikeja and the rest.How does he even bring recliners to all this places sef.”
“But, what if this is propaganda masterminded by other minerals to spoil the coke brand?” asked a second aide standing next to the recliner, examining the coke bottles. There was a playful glint in his eyes that instantly disappeared as he noticed the reproachful glances sent his way by his superior and colleague.
Inspector Balogun stepped away from the gore, adjusting his nose mask as he spoke “This is no occult ritual or brand rivalry gimmicks. This is a cold blooded killer that enjoys killing and teases us with coke bottles.”
“Wetin we go do now, Oga?” asked the aide by the door, desperately keeping his distance from the bodies.
“Call in the morgue people, let them clean up this mess. In the meantime, we need to control what gets out into the media. Let’s not create hysteria yet.”
Looking grimly at his young aides, Inspector Balogun added “So many crimes have gone unsolved because we have never really been held accountable for our work and for that we are treated with disdain by the same people we swore to protect,” and rather uncharacteristically he spoke in pidgin “This one no dey go like that!”
Later that week, at the force’s regional quarters in Lagos, Inspector Balogun settled wearily into the high-back swivel chair behind his elaborate mahogany office desk, his mind haunted by the seemingly elusive killer and his hapless victims. He stared at plaques of his various on and off-field achievements as he grabbed the remote for the television, desperately seeking some form of distraction and the first images that greeted him were those of the coke commercial, in a rather uncanny timeliness. It was the first time he had ever really noticed the commercial and he watched on with a mounting sense of irritation as more details milled in his mind. The killer had blatantly left his finger prints on all bottles either out of arrogance or ignorance, he thought. With the disjointed biometric databases available in the country, they had, after circumventing a number of bureaucratic hurdles, checked for a print match in the logs of the National Identity Management Commission and the Bank Customer Databases with a glimmer of hope that they would find something. Both had turned up no match. Investigation was made even worse by a lack of witness account.
Despite the strong words to his aides, He feared these murders would go unsolved, just like so many others. Still lost in thought and with half attention, He changed the channel desultorily, suddenly stopping at the Yoruba movie channel as something caught his attention. It wasn’t the hideous acting or the eye-gouging picture quality neither was it the migraine-inducing English subtitle. It was the little icon on the topmost left corner of the screen: AFRICA MAGIC! His memory was jolted as he remembered the almighty B.M.I.F ……Black Magic Intervention Force!
The Black Magic Intervention Force was a clandestine department of the Nigerian police force occasionally consulted when the police was confronted with the inexplicable cases where temporal powers seemed ineffective. Few knew of its existence and most were reluctant to employ its powers partly because they considered it an anathema and partly because there were no provisions by the law for the black arts,but still it persisted.
The following week, Inspector Balogun flew to the police headquarters in Abuja to engage the B.M.I.F. department. After being cleared, He was led, by an officer, to an unnamed room on the topmost floor of the building that had a wooden door with engravings that seemed out of place in the corporate building. He caught a whiff of a sharp smell emanating from inside the room as they stood in front of the door
“The man na psycho, be careful Sir” said the officer, urging the inspector to knock as he scampered away.
He raised his hand to knock on the door when suddenly the door flung open and a tall, middle aged man dressed in impeccable police attire stood imposingly at the doorway. The bead bracelet on his left wrist and the insignia of a skull above his left breast pocket were the only inklings that this was a black arts officer.
“Hello Inspector Balogun, I have been waiting for you. I know about the killer,” said the Man in a deep, hoarse voice as he gestured him to enter his chamber.
He was stunned speechless by his prescience as he had not told anyone, not even his superiors, about the real purpose for his trip. He stepped into a chamber that had the decors of a shrine and an office inextricably interwoven. It was a large room with human and animal skulls hung in a strange motif. In the center was a parched, stretched skin of a dog, the putative rug. A black calabash containing a concoction, boiled without any visible source of heat, giving off white vapors. On the right corner of the room were a desktop computer, a printer, and an office cabinet with inscriptions “CHARMS”, “DEITIES”, “EFFIGY” and “ANNUAL REPORT” boldly pasted on each cabinet drawer.
The Man sat and signaled him to sit on a chair directly opposite
“We seem to have a problem in Lagos. A…..” Inspector balogun started to speak but was abruptly cut short by the Man
“Like I said, I know why you are here, the deities have told me” he said tersely
“Ok then, I………”Inspector Balogun started to speak again. Again he was cut short by a wave of hand
“You people only come here when all else has failed. My department is your last resort ba? If only we embraced the ways of our fathers in dealing with crime, our streets would be free of crime” said the Man, his voice laced with contempt
Maybe this was a bad idea, thought Inspector Balogun. This Man apparently did not like his colleagues with temporal powers. He wasn’t going to sit here and be disrespected by this hippie. He started to rise from his seat as he spoke “I think coming here was a bad idea. I am leav…..”
“Sit down there!” roared the Man in a thunderous voice as sparks could be visibly seen in his eyes, “before I adorn my walls with your skull.”
“You leave when I say you leave. Your rank or authority means nothing to me. Ridding the streets of crime, that’s what matters” said The Man condescendingly.
Inspector Balogun cowered back into his chair as beads of sweat became visible on his forehead. His hands trembled like he suddenly had a bout of Parkinson’s
The Man continued “He comes from a place far away where life means nothing. He kills because he likes it and because he knows your brigade of buffoons cannot catch him. But he forgets that we have our ways in dealing with things.” Noticing the visibly trembling officer, he added softly “You did well by coming here anyway. The answer lies in the bottles he leaves behind. He needs two more to complete whatever it is he wants to complete.”
“c-c-can you help us with where he would strike next a-and identities of his next victims” asked the fidgeting inspector.
“ Yaba. You know how he works. Find the house,” said the Man curtly. He rose and waved his hand signaling the end of the meeting. Inspector Balogun hurriedly made for the door as he mumbled his thanks.
After two weeks of scouring the entire suburb of Yaba, they had narrowed down likely targets to two desolate buildings that fit the killer’s Modus Operandi. The houses were placed under constant surveillance by the team, watched night and day. On the twelfth day, Inspector Balogun received a radio message from one of his men watching over one of the houses.
“Oga, one black jeep just park in front of that house. Three people comot from the car. Two of dem look drunk and they are being assisted by a third. We can’t see them clearly but we suspect sey na our man.”
“Do nothing; I am on my way. Wait for my order,” barked inspector Balogun, through the receiver. He made for his car. Thankfully yaba was 15 minutes away.
Arriving at the scene, he found his men in the kiosk where they were covertly stationed. They huddled round him as he was briefed by one of them.
“They have been there for 20 minutes now, we saw him carry the recliner into the house too, this one na confirm, Oga”
“I need men at every point round the house, make sure no one gets out while I go in alone.” He said briskly noticing the questioning gazes as it was against protocol to engage a potentially perilous situation without proper back-up but he desperately wanted to pump this killer full of bullets, his very own bullets. It wasn’t a question of bravado but rather a score to settle with this unknown murderer. Nevertheless, they couldn’t dare challenge his order.
He approached the front door of the house cautiously, his form concealed by the darkness of night as he made his way past foliage and bricks ,carefully choosing his steps, freeing his pistol from its holster as he advanced. Anticipating creaking sounds from the decrepit front door, he pushed ever so lightly as he stepped into the thick blackness of the passageway. With his gun stretched in hand, piercing the stygian ambience, ready to deliver its lead load, he scanned his surroundings. Suddenly he noticed an almost imperceptible soft glow emanating from a slit between the floor and what seemed to be a door. Moving towards the light, he heard a thud followed by another then SILENCE! He had to act fast. Standing in front of the door, he leaned back on his left leg with his right leg aligned in mid-air with the handle, poised to break open the door
He kicked hard!!
Everything happened in a split second. The door burst open with a thunderous bang as the killer swung his head in surprise. The staccato sounds of gunfire filled the room as the bullets hit their marks with trained precision. First, his abdomen, his chest and finally, his hooded head. Each impact causing spasmodic jerks in the killer as he careened towards Inspector Balogun, eventually keeling over , facedown; Lifeless.
Steadying his breath and lowering his gun, Inspector Balogun was suddenly aware of his surroundings as he walked slowly to the two motionless victims, who were still alive but unconscious .He walked over to the killer and something seemed odd about him. With his lifeless body facedown, Inspector Balogun noticed the thin, brown hair and the weirdly light skin color. He knelt beside him and lifted the corpse to see his face. He was stunned. The pointed nose, heavy set brows and pink lips confirmed it. He was a White Man! Reaching for his pockets, he found his ID and saw the name BRIAN ANTHONY, an expatriate construction foreman. Then the revelation hit him like a brick on the head as he searched the room desperately for coke bottles. They had the names: Niyi and Yemisi.
The exact two letters needed “for whatever it is he wants to complete”, remembering the Man’s words as each bottle flashed in his mind.
Bolanle Rasheed Ifeoma Abdul Nkechi Adeleke Nimot Tayo Henry Omolola Niyi Yemi
B R I A N A N T H O N Y