Grace opens her eyes. She looks around. A shaky man stands before her, looking like he could empty his bowels right there. He has bloodstains all over.
“Who are you?” Grace thinks out loud; the words come out one after another.
Her mouth is free? Her mouth is free! She instinctively moves her feet but her hands first come off to the sides. Grace smiles.
“Hey!” Calls the man; he sounds desperate, distressed.
Grace looks at his small face and instantly recognizes him—the sports car driver from her dream.
HACK! A blade digs into the man’s skull, crushing it audibly.
Grace looks at the spurts of blood all over her and bits of flesh she wishes are not brain matter. She turns to the man’s body, slowly dropping.
This is it, Grace thinks.
The assailant takes heavy steps towards his blade, chipped into the lifeless body, now sprawled inches from Grace. She slides down next to the man’s body and watches the killer advance. She waits.
Closer, Grace thinks, watching him, closer…
She then jets out, hoping to miss the devil.
She makes it out. Having come face to face with death, Grace thinks she knows exactly what to do to survive—be smart. She cannot take chances with the front door; if locked, it will be a death sentence. She turns right and goes into the storage room, locking the knob behind her.
Grace switches on the lights and they flash—red, red, red, and a dead body. She screams her lungs out, clambering for the small window in the room.
The door behind her is suddenly tried. She can see the knob turn, though with little success. A knock then follows, as unexpectedly soft as the voice that speaks.
“Open the door, Grace. Please,”
Grace is more frightened by her assailant’s calm.
She thinks of the window behind her and has a simple idea. She opens it wide and screams for help. It does not take another call with information on what is happening before she hears feet outside the door retreat. They soon gain pace and Grace can swear she hears him take off and out. Her front door slams and seconds later, she hears feet hurtle outside.
Nathan has no idea about the estate’s night patrol, which starts at 7 pm and does rounds on LibLane. The guards intercept him just as he lands on the other side of the fence.
By the time residents know about the two dead young men, Cliff, and the mystery victim, they cannot stop at anything to get a hold of Nathan. A horde waits at the gate, bursting with fury.
Three men approach the gate from behind a wall. Two are in security gear, the third sandwiched, his hands tied. Six muscle-men then approach, wielding clubs and machetes. To avoid confrontation with an angry mob, the guards hand Nathan over. The six walk Nathan to his execution ground.
Four vehicle tyres have been stacked and enough petrol collected. Residents can no longer hold back. Screams, whistles, cries, and curses fill the air. Some hurl stones, others close enough to graze or hit Nathan. They curse his mother, father, and their entire lineage. Violence is gulped, this night, in gallons.
An old woman staggers to Nathan; she watches the men to his sides and nods lightly, before smacking the killer on his face. This invites more physical interactions.
“Killer!” “Burn!” “Heartless thing!” “Burn here and in hell!” “…Worse in hell!” “Burn, killer, burn!”
The crowd hurls more blows, kicks, and stones.
Grace watches from a distance. Her parents will soon arrive, worried to death about her. They will have plenty to say but nothing else matters now.
She thought she would be happy to see Nathan dead. Now, it all seems too rough, too rushed, and too harsh. It feels like something Nathan would do; weren’t they all killers now? There is no satisfaction in this, she thinks. It would not bring back Cliff or the others. It would not solve their murders or bring the killer to justice. Revenge did not heal the past.
Nathan is stripped naked and the tires dressed over him, one after another. Someone bathes him in petrol.
God, thinks Grace, I watched Cliff die, but I can’t watch this.
Just as the jeers are going higher and calls for, “Burn! Burn! Burn!” fuel, a gunshot, or what sounds like one, tears into the air. At first, everyone pauses, unsure, then a few take off when someone screams. Another shot goes up, loud and crystal clear. It is followed by distant police sirens. A second or two later, the first vehicle swerves outside the gate—Grace’s parents.
The mob must think that in the Chevrolet, are policemen. Everyone disperses in all directions, then the expected unexpectedly happens—Nathan goes up in fire.
He screams, cries. The tyres catch fire and fuel on petrol with thirst. The fire jumps onto Nathan’s body; he screams as he tries to fight the pain and panic of death in the little space. He topples and rolls to a short distance in silence. The tyres are now hot and liquefying, chipping bits of flesh off his body.
Grace’s parents drive in and past the burning man. The guards at the gate then follow with a bucket of water and pour it on Nathan. It does not help, but they do not dare get closer.
The police arrive soon and the first two men that jump off, dash to Nathan and help get him out of the tyres, before rushing him to hospital.
Grace watches everything play out. She leaves with her parents, who are as disappointed as she had expected but are also glad she is safe. As they drive home, Grace thinks of how only she knows the amount of stupidity that got her there.
She blacked out on the substance, having smoked more than ever before—six deep puffs; what Cliff would term as “power puffs.” Grace thought, in that state of mind, she could pour her heart out to Cliff and, perhaps, he would say something.
Well, she spoke plenty to herself and, of course, 1. She cannot remember everything she said and 2. There was never any response from Cliff (not that she can recall).
As they drive on, Grace thinks about how the past 24 hours have been smooth, then sudden hell. Now, all that remains is grief and emptiness. Life can indeed change in a flash.
Victor would be arraigned in court within a week, having sustained first-degree burns. The judge would send him away for life on murder charges. No amount of punishment, however, will bring Cliff or all the others back. So, why all this hell?
After Nathan’s argument with Victor at Flash KiFlash over Michelle, the former had waited for Victor in an alley. He lured him in, then hacked the poor man to death. Cosmas, who had by Mama’s instructions, followed Victor a few minutes later, was the first witness and second victim.
Unfortunately, Cliff also walked in on the enraged and lunatic officer, who would not let him get away with what he had seen. The strings of murders started and lengthened.
Jealousy was all it took; now Victor, Cosmas, Cliff and the other two young men (later discovered to be Cliff’s old friends) are dead.
Cliff’s corpse was in the city morgue but classified as a John Doe, with most of his body parts missing. The same was true to Victor’s corpse, whose face was bashed in.
The two Grace had thought to be officers were either truly so and perhaps had information about what happened that night, or were just other uniformed individuals; the city council? Suspicious security guards? Thieves dressed as cops? Imaginations? The streets were full of all kinds of dangers.
Alone With Death [COMPLETED]
- VIII: LibLane
- VII: Recollection
- VI: “Safe Distance”
- V: Little Palace
- IV: AM Madness
- III: Damsel In Distress
- II: Flash KiFlash
- I: The Rewind Button
See you tomorrow!
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.