DEVIL'S PAWN [Excerpts 4...Run For Your Life]

Do not run if you hear the growls
Fear not that the beast prowls
For it comes from the den inside
And from it you cannot hide
Emeka placed one hand on the window of his first floor apartment watching a bird fly. A thick wrap of hemp smoked in his other hand. He had not taken a single drag since he lighted it but it was nearly burnt out. An empty bottle of Baileys stood on the window sill...

With Oche dead, he was alone.

“These deaths have to be avenged,” he said in a quiet, slurred voice.

His back remained turned to his lieutenants who stood quiet. There were tears in his eyes and he did not want anyone of them to know. But the quaver in his voice was unmistaken. They both knew he was crying. But they said nothing.

The shorter one of the two had a smoking cigarette in his mouth. Skulls stood beside him turning a gold plated lighter between his fingers. He had just used the lighter to light Emeka’s roll a while ago.

Skulls did not agree with Emeka’s revenge bid but Emeka was not in the mood for reasoning. Any counter opinion would only make him mad.

“That boy cannot die like that.” Emeka’s voice was loud and firm.

“So what do you suggest?” Skulls spoke first.

Emeka wiped his face and turned. His eyes were bloodshot. He wrung his hands as if to say he had no idea. The joint in his fingers glowed bright as his hand moved in the air. He flicked it over his shoulders and out of his window.

“We don’t know for sure who did it. It could be anyone,” Skulls continued.

“I don’t care who it is. Anyone who has the means is a suspect. I’ll kill all of them.”


Emeka silenced Skull with a dismissive wave. He picked another wrap of hemp from a drawer and returned to the window.

“I don’t want to hear anything. Just call the boys and get out there. By the time I call you, I want to hear good news. Now get out.”

The short one stood up and crushed his cigarette in a small saucer Emeka used as an ash tray. He looked at Skulls who signaled him to go ahead.

“I’m off,” Skulls said.

Emeka ignored him. He stopped by the door and gave Emeka one last probing look. Emeka acted as if he had not notice him. His eyes shifted to the empty Baileys bottle on the window sill. In one quick move, he picked it and flung it at Skulls.

Skulls saw it coming and ducked. The bottle sailed over his head, missing him by inches, and hit the door with a loud crash. Emeka had a smug look on his face as Skulls shrugged and walked out.

Jane yanked the door opened and ran into the room panting. The door banged shut behind her.

Random loud noise filtered into the room as other doors banged shut around the hostel. She was not the only one running scared into the female hostel.

The rumor mills were running. Everyone now knew there was a cult war going on and no one wanted to be caught in between bullets.

The gunshots that felled James still echoed in her brain.

She caught her reflection in the large mirror. She looked like someone who had seen a ghost. One of her ears had lost its earring and James’ face cap which she had on her head was gone.

Surprise replaced the scared look on her face when she realized that the room she shared with Cynthia was empty. She dropped her bag to the floor and dialed Cynthia’s number again.

After spending the night with her boyfriend in the male hostel, she had expected to meet a worried Cynthia. Her phone had been switched off until a few minutes ago because she knew Cynthia would not approve of a night out.

A night out with a boyfriend who was now dead…

James, the boyfriend with whom she spent the night, had just dismissed the rumors of cult fight a while before the loud bang of the first shot reached them. They were standing at the entrance to the hostel at the time and she had not known the shots were fired at them until James fell to the ground clutching at his chest.

The second shot had put life back in her limbs and she had started running.

Jane dropped her bag on the bed and redialed Cynthia number for the umpteenth time. She got the same ‘not available’ tone from the operator. The Nokia C3 phone Cynthia used for night calls was on the reading table so there was no point calling her HiCell number.

Jane became apprehensive when she noticed the plate of spaghetti she had left unfinished.

Cynthia had not returned the room. She was certain. Cynthia was a stickler for hygiene and wouldn’t leave a plate of food open.

She checked her time. It was almost 2 pm.

Something was definitely wrong. Cynthia had no boyfriend she knew about.

Could she be at home? She had complained of a slight headache the day before and she could have gone home since her mum also lived in Buscan City. But again, there was no way Cynthia would leave the campus without saying anything about it at least a day before.

Or had there been an emergency call from her mum? Had she tried calling? Jane thought it over briefly and decided to call Cynthia’s mother. The call went through at the first dial. It rang only for a few seconds before it was picked.

“Hello ma…”

“Hello Jane. What happened? I have been calling your line.”

Jane took her time before answering. She could sense concern in Mrs. Preston’s voice and did not want to make her more apprehensive.

“Are you still there Jane?”

“Yes ma. I actually called… I called to ask if Cynthia came home last night.”

“What do you mean?”

“I… I returned to our room this afternoon and met her absence.”

“I thought you shared the same room. Did you not sleep in the same bed last night?”

Mrs. Preston’s was almost shouting.

“Yes… I mean no. I stayed over at a friend’s place last night and my phone was off. So, I haven’t seen her since last night. I tried calling her line but I keep getting an error mes...”

A beeping tone came over the line. Mrs. Preston had terminated the call.

50cents’ I’ve Been Hit song was on the replay as Emeka drove towards the university gym. Ne nodded his head in time with the beat. He was not going there to train. He just wanted to drive.

He was smoking. The windows were all wound up so the smoke swirled around in the car. The song ended and started again.

If what Skulls told him was true, six of the bastards who killed his brother were dead already. Six was not enough. He wanted more.

Oche’s life was worth more than six of the fuckers.

Panicked members of rival cult groups had sent in messages indicating that they had no hand in the deaths and Skulls has wanted to stop but he had ordered a few more killings. He wanted to make a point. As long as they dared to remain on campus, he would hunt them down.

Emeka neared the T-junction leading to the gym and slowed down ready to turn. If he had not lifted his eyes to see if any car was approaching, he wouldn’t have seen the figure strolling casually ahead. But Emeka did and he recognized the lanky figure immediately.

Nobody on campus had that body build. It was Mark. Mark was a Blade. The Blades had almost as much influence as the Black Cats. So it was more than likely that they carried out the execution.

The car was already half turned so Emeka turned back to the right and killed the engine. He opened the door and stepped out of the car. The area was deserted but for himself and Mark. The corner of his lips creased up as he smiled.

He returned into the car and started the engine. He clamped his foot down on the accelerator and the car shot forward in a burst of speed. The needle of the speedometer reached 210 and Emeka still kept the pressure on the accelerator. Meters away from Mark, he shifted gears.

Mark heard the approaching car and turned back. It was rather a few seconds too late. The car hit him from behind lifting him bodily and he landed on the turf across the gutter. He tried to get up but a sharp pain in his spine kept him from standing up.

Emeka jumped out of his car with his adze clutched in his hand. He pounced on Mark and lay his chest open with two strikes. Then he spat into Mark’s face as he straightened up.

“You fucking idiots think you could fuck my little brother and get away,” Emeka spat.

Mark choked on his own blood as he tried to talk. He coughed.

Emeka wiped the blade of the adze on the dying man’s shirt and walked back to his car. He picked up his phone and dialed Skulls’ number.

“I got one of them near the gym. Let’s meet up at my place as soon as possible.”



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