SteemShort #1: Hollow Tussle, a Short Story Written and Illustrated Collaboratively
SteemShorts are short stories written collaboratively by three different authors and illustrated by an artist/photographer.
Authors and illustrators compete to make a SteemShort on the @adsactly society's account.
The process to create a SteemShort is described in this post: SteemShorts: Collaborative Short Stories.
Here is the full story:
© @tolustx, @nevies and @dorth for the text.
© @katharsisdrill for the illustration.
Licensed under "Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike" (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode).
The ceremony was full of glamour. There was a colourful display of traditional values: the dancers were full of power, the drummers played like their lives depended on it, the congregants were full of joy and dressed in various colourful and expensive group attires, it was difficult to believe that majority of them socially fall much beneath the average class. Titles were conferred on the new chiefs, each showing appreciation to the people for the good gesture and promising an era of greater development to the people of the town. Chief Benson was not left out, as his appreciation speech was more like a political campaign. His antecedents have already proven to people he is capable of bringing rapid development to the state and its people. So, it was not a surprise when they cheered him as he spoke and sang his praises over and over, chanting… “The saviour of the people has come!”
A reception crowned this ceremony. Everyone, irrespective of social or political class was present. There was so much to eat and drink, the music band played melodious songs and the people danced their hearts out. It was a great way to end the annual celebrations. Chief Benson proceeded from here to a meeting with the elders of the town as there are political issues they needed to sort out. Some still believe that Chief Benson should step down for and support Sen. Henry Dokun, who is from the same senatorial district, and has sworn that the election is to be contested with every ounce of his blood. Henry has at his disposal, political thugs, who just needs him to speak a word and the task is done.
The meeting was filled with heated arguments on why Benson should step down. Some believe that since Chief Benson and Sen. Henry are from the same District, there should be a single candidate representing them to increase the chances of that candidate winning. Sen. Henry definitely has more political experience and should therefore be better suited for the office, more so, as the incumbent governor is also contesting for a second term in office, only a strong opposition will be able to unseat him. Chief Benson argued that this is his time and he is taking the shot. He has the followership, he has money to see it through, he has the will, and above all, it is time for the common man to enjoy the beauty of democracy. It is barely four months to the election; concrete decisions have to be made as soon as possible for better strategizing.
Chief Benson returned to his mansion around 12:45am, so tired. He needed to rest as he would be returning to the city early in the morning. He takes a cold shower relayed to his wife, Precious, a summary of the proceedings at the meeting. She simply asks him to be careful and take time to think it through. She promised to support any decision he makes.
At about 2:30 am, the security personnel in the compound recently completed their routine patrol of the compound and are back at their post at the gate. One of them returning from toilet, was grabbed from behind and swept off his feet with what he would have described as a wave too heavy for his body balance. He was however not going to be overpowered so easily. He tried to jump to his feet to retaliate but his attacker was swifter. A single shot to his chest from his .22 Winchester Magnum shattered a rib and went into his heart. He gasped for breath but he could not just hold the breath. He dropped dead immediately. His colleague has earlier been strangled, his lifeless body is laid in a corner with eyes wide open. He was alerted by the sudden barks of the dogs but before he could see anything, an heavy figure was behind him, with arms tightly wrapped round his neck. He almost reached to his rifle but it was too late. The man behind gradually drained life out of his body. One bullet each from a 9x18mm Makarov was enough to silence the dogs, restoring the calmness.
The invaders did not want their presence announced. Everything therefore had to be done as silent as possible. That is why they had silencers tightly fitted to their firearms. With the dogs and security men taken out, they proceeded into the building. The compound, though large, is well litted but they seem to have a thorough understanding of the compound to know which part is darker. Two of them stayed put within the perimeter while six of them entered the house through the kitchen door, which is much easier to break open than the main entrance. Three of them proceeded to the master bedroom while two manned the living room and the guest bedroom. One stood guarding the stairs.
The brief dog barks had woken Chief Benson and he suspected something was wrong, and he made some quick calls but it would take sometime for the police to get there as the nearest police post does not have enough manpower to deal with this threat. By the time they arrived, they only met a wailing wife and the lifeless body of her husband. The shooter was precise. Two shots from his .45 ACP 10mm Auto made way into his forehead. The death was quick and painless. Eyes soaked with tears of anguish, all that the bereaved wife could say was "why would someone do this to me".
The Police tried to talk to her. "They were all holding guns. They asked for a particular document from him, he quickly pointed it to them and one of them reached for it. When he confirmed that it was what they wanted, the one has a scar on his face shot my husband" and she bursts into tears. They decided to leave her for a moment. Just before dawn, the Police chief arrived. At this time, the whole town was awake. Cops swarmed the compound, looking for traces of evidence that could be helpful. Some members of the press requested a statement from the police but the Police commissioner is yet to fathom the motive behind this incidence.
Was it a robbery or an assassination mission?
How did they know so much about him and his house?
Is this the handiwork of one of his political opponents?
If yes, then who could it be? This is going to be a hard nut to crack, he thought to himself.
Meanwhile a lot had happened that same night that was going to come into light very soon, and that was going to give the Police chief even more headache.
For a very good reason, which was that Sen. Henry has been consulting Professor Otagburuagu (meaning "one who kills a lion by biting and chewing it."), and when someone in the vicinity has been consulting Professor Otagburuagu what happens next is usually, simply put: phenomenal.
Professor Otagburuagu was enigma personified; an extremely mysterious middle-aged dark skinned man. He was a Professor of Ritualistic Arts and there have never been a more handy man than he. He was a Medical doctor, a surgeon, practitioner of several dark arts, therapist, bone setter, evil genious, legal adviser, spiritual adviser, and pretty much everything similarly helpful! He had, magical might, charms, ingenuity, etc, and he was consulted far and wide by the elite class (usually criminals) and anyone who could afford his exorbitant fees, to profer solution to their problems, give them pieces of advice, etc. His clientelle came from all works of life and politicians were not an exception.
Sen. Henry had heard a lot about the Professor, and just now when he was so desperate to win the Governorship election he was adviced by his consortium to see the Prof. about it; the Prof had all the answers, they'd told him. So he paid the fees and sent his problem to the Professor's e-mail at night requesting a meeting, and the very next morning he found a letter from the Professor right next to his pillow that said the Professor would find him and meet him when and only when the Professor pleases. How in the Devil's name had the letter gotten there, he wondered - slightly frightened.
"And what is this talk of finding me himself whenever he pleases? After all I've paid? Does this wizard realise the election is already at hand?"
He was somewhat angered but all he could do was wait, no one knew how to locate the Prof. on their own, his address has never been known.
Weeks and weeks then passed which Sen. Henry lived through in anxiety about how in time his meeting with the Professor can be and if he should not forget about the Professor and come up with a line of action on his own. It was excruciating.
Then one night, while partying with top politician friends of his in the club, he went into the VIP rest room to relieve himself. There he found some man with some shabby hair urinating in the far end. He didn't mind much and was about to go ahead and ease himself when a handkerchief dropped on his shoulder.
"How does a man hold his phallus to urinate after he's just been eating peppery meat? Use the handkerchief to hold on to your shaft, bloke, or you'll hurt your bloody self."
It was the man with the shabby hair. Sen. Henry was quite taken aback and he looked at the handkerchief, "Professor Otagburuagu" was itallicised on it. Sen Henry was shocked and glad at the same time. How, by Zeus, had the Prof. gotten in here? The VIP section, the security personnel couldn't have let him in for sure.
"How do you do Senator?"
"How do you do too, Professor? Very glad to finally meet you."
They talked. And soon Professor Otagburuagu was gone. Sen. Henry had been sold some costly piece of advice.
"So your mail had said you're determined to be the next Governor, eh? And you want to know how best to go about the extermination of that opponent from your constituency?"
"Thats a good idea, he has to be shown the door. But how about your other stronger opponent, the incumbent governor?"
"I have to leave one of them with his life, I guess."
"Totally right. But
the incumbent's political life has to get the boot, he can still keep breathing though."
Then the Professor told him how he should "kill two birds with one stone". Kill Sen. Benson and the Governor's reputation with a single action.
" If your oppenent is assasinated all fingers would point to you, because he is more of a threat to you than he is to the incumbent, he is from your District, the votes of the District people would have to be split between the both of you meanwhile the incubent gets all from his own district. But if he is out of the way you would be the only one representing your constituency at the gubernatorial polls and would therefore have the whole District to yourself. This is so clear and the people know it, so all fingers would point to you if Benson is assasinated."
"So I should not kill him?"
"No, by all means, kill him. And the same night you kill him arrange a fake attack on yourself and get yourself a bullet wound from the fake attack. Make it look like you miraculously excaped. Fingers would shift from you to the incumbent governor. Support the fingers, buy you a journalist or two and get everyone saying it was the incumbent who arranged for your murders. If the incumbent survives this all his reputation would be as dirty as a forest pig and you'll win all too easily at the polls."
Sen. Henry was overwhelmed by this idea and with a childish smile, wanted to thank the Prof. when the Prof. whispered a "good night" and walked away.
Sen. Henry left a happy man, and took wholly the Professor's advice. So that same night that Sen. Benson was killed his own house was under a phoney attack. Sen. Henry suggested his wife and children visit Dubai and they were gone days before that night. He relieved some of his personal guards, the ones he did not want to lose yet, and left just a few behind. His Chief thug had hired the assasins, they were going to kill all his guards and load their hitherto unloaded guns (secretly unloaded by the Senator), then come into his room and a bullet wound would be negotiated for him somewhere close to the shoulders or thereabouts, he would then call in the ambulance as soon as the men are gone. It was going to hurt but it was worth it.
The time came, he heard a few noises and he braced up. Outside, as the guards were making the rounds they were being gunned down one after the other. The men were swift, climbing in quietly through the fence and gunning the guards down and quickly dragging the bodies out of the open then taking cover awaiting the next guard. They killed 5 guards and were worried because they had been told they were six for the night. Unknown to them a guard was easing himself in the servants' quarters. But the guard was through soon and as he made to comeout he noticed some bodies lying in the corner, he reacted quickly, turned to get back into the quarters, but he was too late, he had been seen. Silent shots were fired, but they missed him. He fired back but his gun was unloaded. He ran into the apartment immediately then searched through the cupboards roughly and took a few bullets, he was going to phone the Police but the gunmen bursted in, he fired a shot and ran out through the back door. The gunmen followed him, none touched by the shot.
Inside his room Sen. Henry was experiencing a strong mixture of shock, terror and anxiety. That was a gunshot he had just heard! How come? He had secretly unloaded all the guards' guns just recently and the gunmen had all agreed to use silencers. He tried to relax but he just could not. Thoughts began running through his mind: he had enemies everywhere, what if this was a real attack by some other enemy? One can never be too sure these days. Okay, he knew his gunmen and his gunmen knew him, if he goes out they would recognize him and nothing would go wrong, so a quick confirmation of what was going on was not a risky affair, he thought.
So, he took his gun and out he went to scout.
Outside, the gunmen were still in search amd pursuit of the only surviving guard; they did not know where he had sneaked into, it was all so quiet. Then they saw a figure moving slowly afar off, it had to be the guard. They shot, little did they know that it was the Senator. Luckily the shots missed him and the Senator noticed he was being shot at, he was alarmed, more shots came, missed him luckily again. He couldn't take chances, he climbed a heap of building sand in front of him and jumped over the fence. The gunmen trailed him in hot pursuit.
Investigations in top gear, the Police commissioner tells the press that they are still in the heat of investigations, so no inferences can be made for now. They will let the public know when there is any information. The Police noticed the electric fence wire that was cut at the back of the building through which hoodlums entered Chief Benson’s compound. They could find three different footprints. How come the alarm did not go off when the wire was cut? One of the residents of the compound must have switched off supply to the fence wire. Definitely, someone from the inside has a hand in this. The Police immediately take in the cook, gardener and driver for questioning; a better word would be a torture. It was like hell for the stewards in Police custody, until their innocence was later ascertained and they were released. Some of the hoodlums had earlier posed as maintenance officers for the security company, gained access to the building and deactivated the security system.
Meanwhile, during autopsy, a trace of blood was found under the fingernails of the guard that was strangled. Obviously, during the struggle, he scratched his attacker with his nails. The trace of blood is too little to work on but with the help of an advanced technology, it is taken in for DNA profiling and the name of the attacker is found to be Segun Richard. His full record is put up and his current location is found to be in a farmhouse in the Mambilla Islands, 160 miles away. The commissioner calls the Mambilla District Police Sheriff to be on the lookout for the suspect till a strike team is sent to apprehend the suspect.The house is placed on a 24-hour remote surveillance by the District Police.
The Police Inspector in charge of the investigation arrives Mambilla with his best men but the District Sherriff asks him if he is sure of the address as no movement has been noticed around the vicinity all day. With full attack strategy worked out, a team enters through the main entrance, another through the rear door, and another team hides in the bush in case there is another exit unknown to them. They break into the house and searched everywhere. Clear! Clear!! are the only sounds that are made, until the combat dog starts to bark towards the attic. The Inspector on entering the attic sees a human figure, seated on a sofa staring at the open window. The inspector exclaims “This is the Police. Put your hands where I can see them! There is no response. He repeats this two more times, each time moving closer to the figure. He gets close enough to see the lifeless body of Segun Richard, comfortably positioned on the sofa. He was disappointed! His killer(s) had no compassion at all. His chest region and tummy were badly stabbed, part of his intestine is seen popped out of his belly; it was a gory scene.
After he jumped the fence, Henry Dokun, still under hot pursuit, fleeing for his life, running aimlessly in the dark woods, was getting tired but he wouldn’t stop. He kept running until he slipped, and hit his head against a huge tree stump. The impact was so much, he passed out immediately. While some members of the gang were pursuing the man with the gun – Sen. Henry, others went in to continue the plan; to give him the fake shot on his arm. They entered the house and it was totally empty. “This is not the plan,” they whispered one to another. Is this a set up? They thought one to another. Immediately they made to leave the house, the other team gave them the report that the man they pursued was not the guard, but the Senator himself, and he has injured himself and passed out. One of then nodded and said “it is a twist but still conforms to the plan of the operation.” They left the compound immediately it was 3:45am.
Around 6:15am, Stella is on her regular morning jog through the woods when she suddenly bumps into a man lying helplessly on the ground, seriously wounded. She halts, checks him out and sees it is the popular Senator. She quickly calls for emergency help. Minutes later, an ambulance and some cops arrives at the scene. The ambulance takes the Senator to the nearest hospital while the cops starts sniffing around for clues. How can two governorship aspirants be attacked on the same night? The cops observed the footprint of the Senator’s pursuers as they ran towards him and as they went back to the house. “They must have thought he was dead, so they left" The Inspector in charge says. “This is surely a political struggle for power, but who could have coordinated the murder of two aspirants, especially on the same night?
Back in the hospital, the doctors are on their feet, trying to ensure that they do not lose another aspirant. They make several attempts to revive the man but he seems to be gone so deep in coma and now placed on life support and close monitoring. Three hefty cops are stationed to monitor and protect the area from any other threat that may still surface. Senator Henry’s wife had gotten wind of the situation and has returned to the country. She is right there beside her husband as he gets out of coma 58 hours after admission. Her face, lit like a strong beam of light in the dark, she rushes to hug him, at the same time, calling Doctor!
After close examination, the doctor reports to the Senator’s wife that the head injury has a significant effect on the Senator’s medial temporal lobe, resulting in a retrograde amnesia. The last thing he seems to remember right now is his 50th birthday celebration, two years ago. The woman was heartbroken, but the doctor comforts her saying it will likely not be a permanent loss. The memories will most likely come back, but gradually. She should therefore not push him too much, so as not to drive him off balance. The present circumstance leaves the Police with no clues whatsoever. No witnesses, no evidence, no suspects, nothing.
Segun Richard’s farmhouse Is now on siege by a forensic team and all the evidence gotten, especially from his secret electronic safe points to the fact that Senator Henry Dokun ordered and paid for the execution of Benson. The question in the mind of the Police commissioner remains “Did he pay for his own murder too or…” the thought was driving him crazy. The case is denied trial in court as Sen. Henry’s lawyer was able to convince the judge that it would be unjust trying a man for a crime committed during a period he can’t remember, thereby compounding his troubles. The Judge asks that the Senator be monitored till he may gain back his full memory. The senator is released to go as he cannot even remember vying for the governorship post of the state.
The election is a landslide victory for the incumbent governor. One of the three other contestants surrendered out of fear of what could befall him. The two others could not even get up to 15% of the total votes cast.