DO NOT OPEN – Episode 14
© Brian Ngoma
Lights on, Nikiwe smiled as she grabbed her things from the car. It had been a busy and tiresome day. As she walked to the house, she could only think of taking a bath and sleeping. She opened the door and entered. She heard some voices in the kitchen. She put her things in the living room and walked to the kitchen. Standing at the door, she saw Clarence checking the pots, Zindaba playing with his toys and Jackson about to open his book. “Hi boys!”
Everybody stopped what they were doing. Jackson put his book away, Zindaba threw the toys to the floor and both ran to their mother. “Mummy! Mummy!”
Clarence smiled. “Hey babe.”
“Hi my love,” Nikiwe replied with Jackson and Zindaba in her hands. She found somewhere to sit. “You boys are becoming heavier by the day. What do you elephants eat?”
The boys laughed.
“How was work?”
“Tiresome. We’ll talk about it before bed.”
Clarence could see from her expressions that she was tired. He finished preparing supper and they all ate. He put the boys to bed and as he was about to leave their bedroom, Jackson said, “Dad, I left my book in the kitchen.”
“You will find it tomorrow. Now sleep it’s late. I Love you boys.”
“I love you too dad,” Jackson said drowsily.
Clarence turned off the lights and left. He thought of getting the book but told himself it could wait. He directly went to the bedroom and found Nikiwe already tucked in. She was even dosing. When he entered, she sat upright.
“You can lay it’s fine,” Clarence said.
“I have something to tell you,” she said rubbing her eyes.
“Okay,” he joined her in bed.
After telling him everything about how she went with her investigation, she finally said, “I’m leaving for Luapula province tomorrow.”
He didn’t object. That was her job. He was only concerned about her safety. “You should go with someone. You don’t know the place.”
“What can possibly go wrong?”
“A lot of things babe.”
“No, I’ll be fine don’t worry. I want to be back by Sunday. It’s a 13 hours drive to Mbereshi mission. I’ll use public transport. I have already bought a ticket online.”
“Okay babe, be careful out there.”
They said goodnight to each other and fell asleep.
Early Friday morning, Nikiwe was up and prepared herself. She had called the boys driver to drive her to the station. She woke Clarence up and told him she was now leaving. She asked him to tell the boys for her that she would be back on Sunday evening.
“I’ll tell them.”
“Take care of them,” she said. “Help Jackson with the words in his book and make sure Zindaba never gets hungry. He will trouble you.”
Clarence smiled.”Don’t worry, I Know all that.” He carried her bag while she went to check on the boys.
She walked to their respective beds and kissed them goodbye. As she left their bedroom, she stood at the door and looked at them one time. They were sleeping peacefully and innocently. If she knew that this was not the state she would find them in when she came back on Sunday, she would have stayed.
During visitation hours at the prison, Bufweme sat in the visitation room waiting for someone. As she sat, she kept thinking about that detective who visited her. She admired her. She seemed determined to bring an end to whatever was happening. Bufweme knew it would be difficult to prove her innocence but she would be glad if someone stopped the killings.
“Hey!” A male voice interrupted her.
Smiling, Bufweme responded. “Hi young bro. How are you?”
“I am fine, how are you?”
“Why? What’s up?”
“I think that detective will close these cases.”
“But you do realise that even if the cases are closed, you won’t be released from prison immediately?”
“Yes but I just want everything to come to an end. I don’t want any other family or person to go what we went through.”
“Yes I know.”
“What’s on your mind Joe Sinkebu?”
“All these years I have been looking for those files and she got them. They were right under my nose. I could have done better.”
“Why can’t you work with her?”
“She’s too proud.”
“Like you’re any different. Perhaps, If you can come out and tell her that you’re one of the witnesses, it would make things more easier. Don’t you think, Joe?”
“I don’t want to be seen as that boy who couldn’t protect his family from whatever that was.”
“Joe,” she grabbed his hand. “You have to stop yourself from blaming everything that happened that night on you. You did all you could. It was all my fault. I picked up that envelope and opened it regardless of the warning that I shouldn’t.”
“It was never your fault. You didn’t do anything that day. You’re just as a victim as I am.”
“Today, I dreamt of that day only that it was different.”
“I don’t know but we were kids and we were both boys,” she chuckled. “Something was after us. It was vague but it felt real. Could it be that it’s back somewhere?”
“We better pray it’s not.”
“All the more reasons for you to work with her. If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for me, Joe,” she begged. “I want to be free mentally. Knowing it’s not happening anywhere is freedom enough for me, please!”
“Joe!” She called him. “I didn’t want to tell her who you were because I wanted you to do it on your own.”
“I better get going,” he stood up. “Take care of yourself.”
Bufweme stood too and felt an emotional pain like this was the last time she was seeing her brother. She didn’t understand it but it was strong. “Think about what I said brother or should I say Detective Senzo Kalolo.”
Ngoma was busy in his office when he heard a knock on his door. He wondered who that could be. He didn’t say anything hoping they would leave but they knocked again. Annoyed,he shouted, “Come in.”
It was Detective Senzo.
“What now, detective?”
“Detective Nikiwe didn’t report for work today.”
“Where is she?”
“None of your business. Don’t you have a case you should be tending to now?”
Senzo didn’t respond.
“I am asking you a question, detective. Because all the detectives are busy with their works, including Nikiwe.”
That sounded wrong coming from Detective Senzo. Something was not right, Ngoma thought. “Are you Okay, detective?”
“You sound not yourself.”
“No, I am fine.”
“Detective Nikiwe has left for Luapula Province this morning. She’ll be back on Monday. Now go and mind your own business.”
Senzo left Ngoma’s office. As he closed the door behind him, he bumped into Ba Yama who was mopping the floor. They looked at each other suspiciously but didn’t say anything to one another. They never talked to one another despite having a common ordeal happen to them. Detective Senzo didn’t know who Ba Yama was but Ba Yama knew him. As he walked away, Ba Yama pitifully looked at him and remembered his own ordeal.
At 8:04 PM, Nikiwe got off Juldan Motors bus. She was extremely tired. When she talked to Ngoma in the morning, he had helped her make reservations at a local guest house. She found a local Constable waiting for her at the station. He got the bag from her and walked with her to a Corolla. They got in and left the station.
“How far is it to the guest house?” Nikiwe asked checking her phone.
“We’ll be there in 5 minutes. Small towns you don’t have to travel long distances.”
“That’s good because I cannot handle any more sitting in a car. How about Mbereshi Mission?”
“It’s near as well. Ngoma said you want to see Mala Kingston.”
“Do you know this person.”
“Everybody knows Mala Kingston. She’s the oldest woman in this district. She should be 90 or something. Legend has it that the Malaila Ceremony is based on her.”
“Doesn’t the Malaila Ceremony celebrate the Death of the Evil Lion.”
“Exactly. You know things concerning this district.”
“I did my research.”
“There are many stories surrounding Mala Kingston. We don’t even know what to believe. No one talks to her. She’s so mysterious.”
Nikiwe didn’t say anything.
“And a heads up, I hear she’s blind. Rumor has it that she gorged her eyes herself.”
“Who does that?”
As she watched the Constable grab the bags from the car, she called Clarence. The phone rang for a while and he picked up. “Babe you’re sleeping?”
“Was dosing. I am watching soccer. You’re there?”
“Yes. The boys?”
“They’re sleeping. How was the journey?”
“Tiresome. Don’t forget what I said. You’re spending the whole day tomorrow home, right?”
“Yes baby. It’s a Saturday with the boys.”
“Okay let me settle down. I’ll call you.”
“Okay love,” Clarence yawned. He grabbed a remote and switched off the TV. He sagged in the couch. He spread his left hand to stretch it and bumped into a book which fell. Looking closely, it was Jackson’s book. He picked it up and saw a white piece of paper like thing stuck out. He opened the book and behold, the Envelope. His eyes directly went to the DO NOT OPEN! warning. In that moment, all his reasoning went through the roof. He forgot what Nikiwe told him earlier.
Slowly, he unsealed the envelope and read;
Anything you touch, you destroy just like the person reading this. Death upon you!
Clarence dropped the Letter together with the envelope and started convulsing roughly he fell to the floor.
“DO IT!” A female voice roared through the roofs followed by a deadly silence.
To be continued