(Hey folks, remember I am launching my first hard copy novel, The Preying Shepherds, on 23rd April, 2022. The event will be at Eton Hotel, Thika. Kindly grab your ticket by paying Kshs. 1500 to buy Goods Till Number 297264. I encourage you to register early to help me prepare for the event. Thank you for the continued support.)
(Continued from Predator in a Skirt II)
Grace is standing less than two feet away from Ian. She is not a large woman; to the contrary, she is a petite woman who could pass for a class eight girl if she put on uniform. Ian is quite confident that he can win a hand to hand combat with her if he times his attack accurately to avoid a gunshot.
After making some helpless noises begging for mercy “for old time’s sake”, Ian lunges at her. But Grace anticipates his attack glides away, out of his reach. She swings the gun and hits him on the head. He blacks out.
Aaron Lotundo is the guard manning the entrance to the staff quarters of Walleva Academy. He is dozing, because at this hour, especially on a weekday, most of the teachers are tucked in for the night. There is nobody to open the gate for. Lotundo becomes alert when a white Mazda Demio pulls up at the gate and a lovely Muslim lady in a hijab smiles at him. The hijab is one of those that cover the entire face leaving only tiny slits for the eyes.
“Hello Aaron,” the lady purrs seductively as she lowers her window. She has a rich voice, and is exuding warmth that instantly puts Aaron at ease. “It’s good to see you again.”
There is no one on the co-driver’s seat and Aaron cannot see the backseat without using a flashlight. In any case, he cannot see the backseat of the car from where he is standing. But he is flattered that the lady knows his name. Many people who pass by these gates consider him and his colleagues to be extensions of the gate; most drive by without saying hello.
“Hello Madam. It is so nice to see you again. Welcome back.” Aaron says, although he cannot remember seeing her before. There are a few Muslim families on the staff, but none of the women cover their face. But if this lady knows his name, then she must have passed by this gate before. Perhaps she passed with her face exposed.
“Can I see your ID?” he asks.
The lady hands her ID to him and he records the name and ID number in his book. Her name is Habiba Mohammed, and again he is surprised that the name does not ring a bell in his head. He also records the registration details of the car before opening the gate.
When Ian regains consciousness, there are two men in the room, in addition to Grace.
“Hi babe,” Grace says sweetly. “We wanted you to wake up before we send you to the other world. We wouldn’t want you to go to hell just because you have not repented.”
The two men laugh. The truth is that they have just arrived. It would have been very convenient to shoot the guy when he was still in the other world, but they indulge Grace, when it becomes clear that she wants to have some fun.
“Please don’t do this to me, Grace,” Ian pleads. He is now genuinely terrified. This is a woman he thought he knew. He has cooked meals with her in her kitchen; he has made love to her countless times; he has entertained thoughts of marrying her. He knows that despite her small size she is a brilliant, tough and effective administrator: you do not build and run an institution like Walleva Academy if you are a small fish in a tiny pond. She is utterly professional too: she nearly refused to make him her deputy three years ago because of their romantic association. To avoid the appearance of bias, Grace changed the rules and threw the burden of hiring the deputy to the Board of Management, even though she had handpicked the previous deputies. Ian attended the interview and the other directors gave him top marks. Grace hired him without reservations.
This murderous side of her is one he would never have imagined even in his worst nightmares. Grace is beloved by the staff and the community around the school. None of the villagers around the school can afford the fees charged by the school, but Grace has helped the community in other ways. The villagers get priority whenever the school is hiring support staff, and as a result, three quarters of the support staff members are from the three villages neighboring the school. This includes seasonal workers such as construction workers. The school also sources supplies such as food stuff from the community. In short, the school has been instrumental to the growth of the local economy, and since Grace is the face of the school, she is very popular.
No one would imagine that she sleeps with underage boys or that she is a killer.
“I am sorry Ian, but I have to do this. I have to protect myself.”
Ian thinks of a new strategy. If he screams, he could attract the guards who are by now patrolling the school, and even if he is shot, he probably will make it to hospital on time. And if not, then Grace and her thugs will at least be exposed. He will not have lost his life in vain. With newfound resolve, he opens his mouth wide and screams as loudly as he can.
“Just shut up Ian,” Grace says after some time. “This office is sound proof. Even someone standing outside the door wouldn’t hear you.”
“Why don’t we just silence him once and for all?” one of the thugs asks.
“I think you should kill him as the last thing, just before you make your escape.”
“Why?” the second thug asks.
“So that in case someone comes in here…”
“If someone comes they should find him dead, Gracie. We will take the blame and look like we are holding you hostage. If someone comes in here while this man is still alive he will sing like a parrot.”
“You are right. Kill him.”
One of the three thugs pumps three bullets into Ian’s body. With Ian dead, it is a race against time for the thugs. They beat up Grace, even as she curses them for being too rough, but her injuries have to be convincing. They remove her panty, tear it up and stuff in her mouth. They tear her blouse and it to gag her mouth. They remove her bra and throw it on her desk. Finally they tie her to her chair, with her legs astride and each of her feet tied to a leg of the chair. They want to create the impression that she was raped. They step out of the office, leaving the lights on and the doors open to attract the guards to the scene.
The two thugs walk to the staff quarters and after ensuring that no one is watching, they enter Ian’s compound, whose gate is wide open. The white Mazda Demio is parked behind Ian’s red Toyota Fielder. The engine of the Mazda comes alive as they hop into the back seat and lie low. On their way out, “Habiba” smiles at the sleepy Aaron as he hands back her fake ID card. The card is one of the many she collects for her work. She particularly loves stealing identity cards of Muslim women because there is no better way of disguising herself than putting on a niqab.
“I thought you would spend the night,” Aaron says in a conversational tone.
“I thought so too. But men are scam I swear. He is not at the house and he is not picking up my calls. He is probably in another woman’s house.”
“Who is he? I thought you were visiting the family of Mwalimu Ali.”
“You really have a short memory, Aaron. I am Ian’s girlfriend; Ian, the deputy. Have you forgotten? You are the one who showed me the way to his house the first time I was here.”
“Oh, I must be getting old,” he says with a nervous laugh. He cannot remember anything this Habiba is saying. “Anyway, he is probably in the headmistress’ house. Everyone knows they have a thing going on. But don’t say I told you.”
“What? I swear I will kill her. She cannot steal my man!”
Aaron suddenly becomes alarmed. If this woman goes to cause drama at Grace’s house he will be fired. He must learn to control his mouth.
“No, please madam I beg you, don’t go there. They will fire me and I have a wife and five kids to feed and take through school.”
“I don’t care Aaron. That excuse of a woman is taking my man and humiliating me. She needs to pay. Do you know how embarrassing it is to stand outside the house making calls that are not being answered?”
“Habiba” is fuming now, and Aaron is getting desperate.
“Okay Aaron. I will go. But I am doing this for you. I will find a way to make both of them pay for this. I have to go now before I do anything stupid that will make your innocent kids suffer.”
She steps on the accelerator like a genuinely enraged woman, and the Mazda responds in kind by bulleting away. Within seconds, Aaron cannot even see the taillights. He sighs with relief and returns to his post.
“I thought you had gone mad, Jane,” of the men at the back says when they are safely out of sight.
“Are you asking why? You kept talking to that idiot when we should have been making our escape.”
“I even thought she was serious about going back to Grace’s,” the second man says, and they all erupt into laughter.
“You should have been an actress, Jane. And what kind of name is Habiba anyway?”
“It is a common Muslim name.”
“Common? If you wanted a common name that would have been Fatuma or Aisha. But Habiba? I have never heard anyone called Habiba.”
“It means love. Another name that means love is Lukundo. So when Grace said that the gate man’s name is Aaron Lotundo, the first name that jumped into my head is Habiba. And it turned out that I have an ID going by that name.”
The men are silent, and Jane smiles at herself. She knows that they are intimidated by her intelligence and wide range of knowledge. They are brave and courageous, and they are absolutely ruthless. But she has all those traits and two more: intelligence and a thirst for information. That is why she is the leader of the gang. They drive to town and return the car to the parking lot where they stole it. The guard is still fast asleep; Jane alias Habib gave her spiked coffee just before they stole the car. Her accomplices had been standing nearby, looking like they don’t know each other, and when they accepted the coffee, the guard accepted his.
When they return to the casino where they had been gambling before Grace called, they are different people. Jane has removed the niqab. Niqab is the name of the hijab that covers the entire face except the eyes. The men have removed the fake beards and fake eyebrows and the fake noses. The men look just slightly different, but it doesn’t matter. The only person who saw them, besides Grace, is Ian and he is dead. They enter the casino through a side entrance that has no cameras. One of the men dashes to a room above the casino and dumps their bag there-the bag that has the guns, their disguise paraphernalia and the gloves they have been wearing. Not even the Mazda they rode in bears their fingerprints. He joins the others in the casino within no time. In case of trouble there will be plenty of people to say that the three of them spent the whole night at the casino. But they don’t expect any trouble. That was a simple job.
A guard patrolling the administration block notices that the principal’s office is wide open and the lights are on. That is most unusual. He has worked in the school for six years and he has never seen the inner door of the head teacher’s office open. He decides to investigate. The scene shocks him, but he gathers his wits quickly enough to pass on a message on the intra-school radio network used by the school’s security department.
Three guards arrive quickly, led by the school’s head of security. The head of security touches the head teacher’s neck and wrist.
“Madam is alive! Get an ambulance!”
He moves on to Ian.
“The deputy has been shot but he is also alive! Get a second ambulance! Someone call the school doctor!”
Grace nearly screams in anger and frustration. How can Ian be alive? That is a disaster! But there is nothing she can do about that. She has to continue pretending to be passed out.
Image by Alina Kuptsova from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/ambulance-the-medicine-hospital-1005433/
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