Benson arrives at Hir's place with murderous intention. His desperate boss, Sylvan, is on a short leash as the journalist's noose tightens around his neck. Meanwhile, Simon has agreed to pay a visit to Joan, Judd's sister, right in the Devil's own den. Will Hir escape? Will Simon land in trouble for love? Find out what happens next! (Devil's Pawn' is a novel by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson.)
He soars high above the towering hill.
His claws are stretched aiming for the kill.
He is the reaper; his sickle shall find you by and by.
You are the prey; yours is the piercing cry.
Hir lived his life around the clock, and he had a mental time table that guided his day-to-day activities. He could easily say what he was going to do for the next one month without giving it a thought. His weekends especially never changed. Saturdays started with a quick breakfast eaten in front of the computer, working on his novel about government conspiracies. He called it The Godfather’s Secrets.
Each Saturday morning, he would type between one and three thousand words. That would take him to twelve, when he would surf the web for two hours, tweeting, Facebooking and emailing. Lunch came at two.
He cooked by himself. Carla had been a good cook, and she had discouraged him from eating out with her good cooking. Out of respect for her, he had continued eating at home after she died..
Later in the day, he would watch a movie or two. His evenings were spent in front of the computer again, for yet another typing session.
In the past few days, a few things had changed. Now, he typed every day. Judd’s expose had given him a whole new line of thought. The story was pouring out faster than his fingers could record.
This Saturday, he sat in front of the laptop, hands poised over the keyboard. The ideas were tumbling over each other in his head. He munched slowly as he thought out the next sentence. He nodded his head in agreement with a line of thought, and his hands flew over the keyboard.
After more than three hundred words, he took his hands off the keyboard. He re-read what he had written. He did not like the last sentence. It had not come out the way he wanted, so he cleared it and typed something else.
He picked a slice of the coconut cake he had bought on his way back from the office the previous night. A glass of warm milk stood beside the plate. Hir had a zero interest in alcoholic drinks and rarely drank anything other than water and milk. He took a huge bite and chewed slowly, drank from the glass, then stuffed the remaining part of the slice into his mouth.
His hands flew all over the keyboard again. This time, he typed for a longer period, pausing twice to gulp down some of the milk. He typed like that for twenty minutes and stopped only as he heard an unfamiliar sound coming from outside the window.
He got up and looked out of the window. There was a black tinted jeep with its engine still running parked across the street. Hir immediately became suspicious.
Hir was very observant, and sometimes he surprised himself. He was particularly good with faces and names. He knew all the cars owned in the area, and if need be, he could reel off the plate numbers of all of them. He was certain that the jeep was not owned by someone on the block. None of the residents would park there by the curb, knowing what the overzealous Area Council officials would do if they got their hands on the vehicle.
Aside that, there was a large underground parking lot under the house, and he’d seen nobody’s car parked outside it. Again, Hir knew nobody in the building that could pull guests in such a vehicle.
Secret agents no doubt.
Hir ran back to his computer and quickly forwarded a mail to Judd. It was a short one. Then he powered his second laptop. Carla had taught him many things about the computer, simple things that he would never have known could be done. He put on the webcam and put it on spy mode.
He checked the motion recording box and set up the auto email. As soon as the webcam detected any movement, it would record and forward the recording to his email. From there, it would automatically forward itself to a list of emails he had selected. From his email, the video would automatically enter his You-tube account after five hours.
The program that Carla had written for him would also publish the video on his blog and from there to his Facebook and Twitter accounts. That would be enough damage. His social media accounts had a combined eight thousand-strong followership.
He carried the laptop and placed it on the small bookshelf in the corner of the room. He wanted the camera to have a wide angle.
He went back to the window. The car’s engine was stalled, and two men were walking towards the building. The one behind stuck out like a giraffe in a flock of sheep. His shoulders were broad, and the suit he had on did little to hide his muscular frame. Hir thought he must be up to seven feet tall. There was a black case in his hand.
He recognized the one in front. It was Benson, Sylvan’s personal errand boy. They were definitely coming for him. He lived in a block of apartments, two to a floor, and he occupied flat nine on the last floor. His neighbour on the floor was away, so he was alone on his level.
A second car came into view. It was a black Mercedes Benz C-class, and it also had no plate number like the jeep. It did not stop in front of the house, but Hir knew it was connected to the Benson and his goons. He noticed some odd-looking box with two antennas fixed to its roof.
He dialled Judd’s number severally, but it did not go through. In desperation, he tried to call the Police force PRO, even though he knew he was on Sylvan’s payroll. Failing to go through, he dialled a friend at the State CID office and then his editor’s number, but the calls failed to connect.
It was then he noticed that there was no signal bar on his phone. Someone was jamming his signal. He weighed his options and decided to attempt an escape. He expected they would take the lift, so he left his room and started down the stairs.
Halfway to the third floor, he heard heavy footfalls coming up the stairs. He stopped and listened.
Benson is coming up the stairs.
When Benson walked, the soles of his shoes landed heavily and dragged. Hir had become familiar with the drop and drag sound of Benson’s footfall during his two weeks’ spell as Sylvan’s prisoner. Benson had been his chief tormentor during the period.
He could feel the movement of the elevator. That meant someone else was coming through by the elevator. He was trapped.
He ran back into the room and locked the door behind him. His windows had grilles, preventing any escape from that route. He tried calling again, but his phone still had no signal.
Footsteps sounded in the hallway - two distinct ones.
Simon stirred. He was naked. He could not tell if he had been sleeping or just lying down on the bed. His phone was on the bed beside him. He picked it up and found a load of missed calls. Almost twenty of them were from Joan.
He had two messages. The first one was from a course mate in school about a test he had missed. The second message was from Joan. She wanted him to stop by the house to take her out to see the town.
He dropped the phone.
The events of the bathtub occupied his mind immediately, but he decided to ignore the memories. He did not want to remember anything about it. But he did remember and very well too.
She’d ridden him like a donkey and said something about things falling in place that night. She alone knew what that meant. She had also said no one was coming after him. He had nothing to fear, she had said. But how could everything be fine when he had an assignment of death yet remaining?
Can anything ever be normal for me again?
A thought popped into his head. If everything was normal, as she’d said, then he could hang out with Joan. After all she was the single normal thing left in his life at the moment. He picked up his phone and dialled Joan’s number. She picked almost as soon as the call connected.
“Hello, Simon,” her voice sounded different. She was excited.
“Yes, it’s me. Did you get my message?”
“Yes. You sounded like someone else. I thought it was your aunt.”
“Nah... It’s me. Remember that I was not myself last night.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“I’ve been calling since last night. You refused to pick my calls. It actually made me feel like a pest.”
Yeah you called and almost got me killed.
Simon shook his head. “Please don’t look at it that way. Just assume that I was not in a position to pick your calls.”
“Really!? Well, that is strange, but I’ll take your word for it. So you’re coming over?”
“Yeah. That was why I called back. I should be there in an hour or two. Is that okay by you?”
“Yes. See you later then.”
“Bye.” Simon hung up.
CONTINUES NEXT THURSDAY. Click here to read all 'Devil's' Pawn EPISODES.