Win… or Die… or Try to Survive?

Win... or Die... or Try to Survive? by Somtoochukwu Benedict Ezioha on ZenPens

Read the Beginning.

He would die, that was sure. But how? you wondered as you watched the steady rise and fall of his chest as he took heavy, laboured breaths. You thought about disemboweling him as he watched, but your sister-in-law who was in the abandoned warehouse with you might be nauseated by the gory act. What about cutting out his eyes and tongue and forcing them down his throat and then slicing his throat open as he swallowed them?

But none of these means of serving death felt sufficient to quench the blood lust in you; you wanted this man to pay, and to pay in the most painful way possible. The thought of your wife’s lifeless and mutilated body was imprinted like a painful tattoo in your mind, and try as you might, you cannot blink without seeing flashes of images of that evening.

That day you’d been tied up with work at the precinct due to the recent series of ritualistic killings happening round the country and most especially your town. And being the head of the homicide department, everyone was on your neck—your boss, the press, the families of the victims—asking for results.

So when Chekwube your wife called you that evening to remind you of your planned dinner date, you’d promised her that you would be at home in the next one hour, and with a speedy efficiency, you’d cleared your desk to a reasonable extent, and as you picked up your car keys, she’d called you again. When you picked up, you wanted to tell her that you were on your way home but the fear in her voice had chilled your blood. She had simply asked you to come home fast and save her from the man who was outside her door.

Immediately she ended the call, you had dashed into your car, all the while fearing and praying that what suspected would not be true. You had driven home in a blur, flouting the traffic rules because all you were thinking about was saving your wife and your unborn child. But you’d been too late.

Immediately you stepped into your house, you knew that all hope was lost; as you gingerly walked to your bedroom, you could feel the presence of death in your house. It had a tangy smell that assaulted your nostrils and left you gasping for air. Just as you twisted the knob of the bedroom door, you saw a flash of movement outside your kitchen window, and with lightning speed, you dashed after the hooded figure only to be stopped dead in your tracks by a sight you would always remember as long as you lived.

There on the marbled floor of your kitchen, the body of your wife lay grotesquely and mutilated, her belly open and her unborn child—your first child—ripped out and placed in her arms. It was a sickening sight, one which was a vile representation of the Madonna that was in your room.

You had crumbled to the floor, sorrow and rage weakening you, blinding you, till all that was in your head was revenge. But revenge against who? Who had so much hate against you that he would go to such extreme means to prove a point? You stood up, wanting to place a call to the station for a forensic unit to come and sweep your house for clues. That was when you saw the note clutched in the child’s tiny hand.

You took the tweezers and pried it off. Then you brought out the latex gloves you usually took with you everywhere you went, wore it and opened the note. The gruesome message in it ignited a burning fire of blood lust in you, one which still burned as you watched your wife’s killer. The note had read:

“THOSE WHO PLAY THE GAME MUST WIN. UNLESS THEY FACE THE WRATH OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD.
SHE DID NOT WIN, SO SHE HAD TO DIE.”

After reading the note, you knew immediately who had written it and why your wife had died. She’d been a victim of a sadistic group of people who lured people to their deaths with the promise of $25,000 if they won a certain game. That was the recent menace you were battling at work, but to see the evil you’d tried so hard not to believe staring at you pointedly, daring you to doubt it was just too much.

With numbed feelings, you brought out your Infinix phone, dialed your partner and gave him the information about you wife. He’d be there in fifteen minutes, he’d said. So you waited.

With nothing to do than to think about the very thing you wanted to wipe from your mind, you decided to start your own investigation. You decided to play the game, maybe when you lose, the killer would come for you. As you thought of that, the thirst for revenge gave you a heady feeling, one which you welcomed.

The app requested that you scan your fingerprint as part of the registration process, and immediately you kept your finger in the fingerprint panel, it showed an error message:

“YOU ARE NOT FEMALE. ONLY FEMALES CAN PLAY THE GAME.”

You scoffed in annoyance, tried your left index finger, but the same error message appeared. You were angry and at the same time astonished by the fact that the app could detect your gender just from the fingerprint. During your days in the police academy, you’d taken a few classes on DNA and how they can be used in crime detection; but that was the first time that you were witnessing a phone application knowing your gender just from scanning your fingerprint.

Maybe it’s a new technology, you’d thought as the feeling of failure slammed into you like a speed train. Without even starting the investigation, you’d already faced a dead end. You knew that the forensic team would find no incriminating evidence when they would comb your room because from previous experiences, the killer or killers were very methodical.

Your partner’s knock on your front door brought you out of your gloomy thoughts. When they saw your wife’s dead body, there was a collective gasp of shock that rippled throughout the entire house, one that brought the knowledge that your wife was really dead home.

It was a normal police procedure to ask questions, especially if you were the person that discovered the corpse; but Detective Samuel Uwanna, your arch rival in the department (who was surprisingly in charge of the case), had taken the questioning to a different level. He had badgered you with questions, which looked like he was doing his job, but they had been thinly veiled insinuations that you were responsible for your wife’s murder. His questions were like fuel to the infernal rage inside you, and it was the restraining hand of your partner, Chibuike, that kept you from delivering an uppercut to his square jaw.

Two hours later, they were gone, along with the bodies, leaving you in the house all alone. You tried drowning yourself in alcohol, but after you took the first swig of the McDowell’s, it had burned your throat, but didn’t douse your rage. It was as you were keeping the bottle of the whisky back on the counter that the idea came.

Without wasting time, you’d called your wife’s sister, who is also a criminal lawyer, and fixed an appointment with her the next day. The next morning you were in her office exactly by 10am and without a preamble, you told her about her sister’s death, the circumstances surrounding her death and your plan to catch the killer, which she had to help you with.

When you were done, she had hesitated in her reply; it took her thirty seconds to talk, seconds in which you feared that the strife between her and your wife would prevent her from helping you out. But she later said yes, and together the both of you hatched the plan.

That evening you went to her house, and since she wasn’t married, you decided to stay there till you caught the killer; that way, you reasoned, you would be able to protect her.

After dinner, she downloaded the app, registered successfully and started playing the game. You had to admit, it was a very interesting adventure game, one that someone could get addicted to. She did well for the first twelve levels before she made the wrong choice and lost the game. Her gasp of terror was enough to remind you that it was time to be vigilant, the killer would be around soon.

It wasn’t up to ten minutes later that you heard the sound of the her bedroom window’s glass shattering, signaling that the real game was on. With one final squeeze of reassurance, you told her to go and check who the person was, that you were right behind her. She stood on shaky feet and wobbled towards her bedroom, with you behind her, keeping to the shadows.

Immediately she stepped into the room, she was dragged inside by a hooded figure and slammed to the floor. Then he jumped atop her and held her neck, pressing on her windpipe.

Without a moment’s pause, you crept behind him and hit the butt of the gun on the back of his head. He released her instantly as he passed out. You bound him with the rope you’d bought earlier in the day, carried him to your car and dumped him in the trunk. Then you drove off with Ngozi, your wife’s sister in the passenger seat.

You chose the warehouse because it was both in the outskirts of the city and abandoned. It was the perfect place for you to torture him, and finally get your well-deserved revenge.

He stirred, and slowly opened his eyes. That was when you took your time to observe his features. He head a bald head, two fiery black orbs that were bordered by thick lashes. He was dark, but as he smiled at you, his teeth shone like the ones of the models used in toothpaste commercials. He had thin lips which became thinner as he pursed them in anger. You hadn’t bothered to tape his mouth as you wanted to revel in his screams of pain when the torture began.

Then you decided to break the silence. “I am Detective Charles Nweke, the man you killed his wife two days ago. I want you to tell me the whole truth and I’ll make this swifter for you.”

He did not speak for some seconds; instead he fixed you with a soul-piercing gaze that left you feeling dizzy. When he eventually spoke, his voice was like shattering glass.

“I am called Abdan, one of the swords of the Brotherhood of Blood. I never wanted to kill your wife. But she lost the game. She had to die.”

“You killed my wife because of a fucking stupid game!” you thundered, the fury in your voice somehow being funny to him.

“It was her greed that led to her death. She was simply weeded out, to save the rest of humanity. If it’s any consolation, she isn’t the first to let her greed get the better of her, and she won’t be the last,” he calmly replied. Then as an afterthought, he faced Ngozi and said, “She too failed, she has to die.”

Ngozi was incensed. She had hitherto kept her calm, allowing you to do whatever you wanted, but as your victim addressed her, she lashed out. “Well, I wouldn’t have played your stupid game if it wasn’t necessary to use me as bait to get you. How easy that was. You are not smart at all. Not at all.”

As you looked, his face contorted into the worst expression of rage you’ve ever seen, but it did not bother you, you had him where you wanted him to be. You turned to Ngozi and tried to tell her that you were the one in charge. As you talked, you heard a faint sound, and you quickly turned, saw the flash of something before it got buried in your chest.

Your first reaction was surprise, then awe, then fear and finally hopelessness. He had managed to free his hands and had thrown one of the knives you’d assembled for his torture at you, which found its resting place in your chest.

As you watched him free himself, you thought about your wife and how you’d failed her; the knowledge that you could not get your revenge was overshadowed by the fear that you would die. There was also a fascination with the thought of dying.

And it was that fascination that gave you the strength to do your last act of goodness before giving up the ghost.
You looked at Ngozi, and with the last strength in you, you shouted, “Run!” before firing the gun you’d brought out of your hip holster at the man who was approaching you. You saw him move, whether because your shot got him or because he was dodging the shot, you didn’t know. All you felt was cold, empty darkness.

And you welcomed it.

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