DO NOT OPEN – Episode 10
© Brian Ngoma
Nikiwe sat in the car waiting for the boys outside their school premises. She kept thinking about the cases and her discoveries. Tanashe ‘s statement corresponded with Bufwemes about the voices. It was unfortunate she couldn’t trace Kainga Siwale. She then thought of Chomba whose wife stabbed herself in the process killing her unborn child and herself but he too, location not documented. She sighed. She didn’t want to feel discouraged. She was glad with the progress she had made. She flipped the pages one more time and went onto the 1995 case about Edison who was murdered by his fiance. She found the location of his brother, Bwale who found the body. Fortunately, he was within the city but it had to wait, she had other preparations for the night.
Jackson and Zindaba ran to the car as soon as they recognised it. She opened the doors for them and they both entered and sat in the backseat.
“Hi mommy,” the boys said at the same time.
“Hello boys,” Nikiwe replied. “How was school?”
The boys narrated everything about how their day was. Nikiwe never got tired of listening to her boys hilarious stories. As she drove the car, she kept looking at her phone wondering why Clarence hadn’t called her yet to tell her where he was. She blushed the thought off and concentrated on the boys and their adventures at school.
They arrived at the house and found Clarence’s car parked outside. Strange, Clarence always says when he gets home earlier than anyone, she thought. She helped the boys out of the car and walked with them to the door. The door was slightly opened. Nikiwe felt like something was wrong. She removed her gun.
“Mommy what is it?” Jackson asked.
Nikiwe handed the car keys to him. “Here, go back to the car and lock yourselves in.”
The boys were confused.
“I said go,” she ordered them.
She watched them run to the car and locked themselves in. She slowly pushed the door and entered. There was no one in the living room. The silence was deafening. She shouted Clarence’s name but he didn’t respond. She walked past the living room trying to hear anything from the other rooms but there was nothing. Her gun firmly gripped in her hands and sweat dripping from her temples, she carefully tiptoed to the master bedroom. The door was slightly opened as well. Taking a deep breath, she pushed it and to her relief saw Clarence laying on the bed with his face buried in the pillow.
“Baby, you scared us!” She whined.
Slowly getting up, Clarence with a smile said, “Sorry baby I didn’t mean to. I have this terrible headache. I didn’t want to tell you. Are the boys here with you?”
“Yes,” she sat beside him and touched his forehead. “You don’t look okay. Should we go see a doctor?”
“No, I’ll be fine. Let me prepare for our dinner tonight. Where are we going?” He tried to get up.
“No baby,” she pushed him back. “Rest, I’ll just prepare us a meal. We can go out some other day.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes dadi. You need to rest.”
“Where are the boys?”
Nikiwe went outside and got the boys. She assured them everything was fine. She went inside with them and told them to go to the bedroom and change and later see their father. She checked on Clarence again and went to the kitchen to prepare supper.
After spending an hour in the kitchen, Clarence and the boys came in the kitchen to join her. The boys were busy playing whilst Clarence was watching her.
“Something strange happened at the workplace today,” He said.
“I don’t really know but there was this strange feeling after I gave my presentation. The time I was walking to the elevator.”
“Yes and when I got outside walking to the parking lot. I felt really strange and what’s even more strange was that envelope.”
Nikiwe felt her heartbeat stop. Her hands froze. She couldn’t feel her legs. The first thing she thought of was the envelope in the cases she was handling. There is no way it was the same envelope. What if it was the same envelope?
“Baby!” Clarence brought her back to reality.
She left the pots and turned around looking directly into Clarence’s eyes. “I want you tell me the truth. Nothing but the truth.”
“You’re scaring me, what is it?”
“Promise to tell me the truth.”
“What about it?”
“Did you see what was written on it and did you pick it up?”
“No, I didn’t see what was written on it and I wiped it off my windshield.”
Nikiwe felt relieved but looking at Clarence, he was in shock. He didn’t know what was happening. She knew she owed him an explanation. She told him she’d tell him before bed. She finished preparing their dinner and ate whilst listening to Zindaba and Jackson’s stories about how of the good boys they had been at school today. They washed the dishes together and by 10 PM, they were all in bed and Clarence couldn’t wait to be told why his wife was so scared with the mention of the envelope.
As promised, Nikiwe told him everything. She didn’t leave no stones unturned. As she talked, she could see him getting nervous to the explicit murders that happened to the innocent families. He understood why she behaved the way she did but still, that was just superstition to him. In as much as he wanted to believe her, the whole cases just didn’t make sense. Someone must have manipulated the notes she was reading and made it look all supernatural, he thought.
“I know you don’t believe in any of this but please, promise me to never pick up any envelope especially with DO NOT OPEN words on it.”
Clarence smiled. “From what you told me. This only happens to women. It has never happened to a man before, has it?”
He interrupted her, “Baby, you won’t solve these cases if you go in with a superstitious mindset. Use logic. I know you to be a logical person, what happened?”
Nikiwe was quite. Yes, it was true, she was one person who applied logic in all situations. She was even surprised that her mind bombarded her with superstition. What happened? The case happened, she thought. No matter how much she wanted to believe that she could use logic to solve it, it wasn’t doing her any good. All the evidence and new discoveries pointed to something supernatural. The least thing she could do is both be superstitious and logical. She told herself.
“But I promise, I will never pick up any envelope. You should not worry,” he leaned over and kissed her.
That assurance alone was enough. She knew he wouldn’t pick up anything strange. Learning of what happened to Clarence kept Nikiwe up all night. Yes, it’s been six years, this thing was bound to happen but to a woman, not a man. I am just overthinking, she told herself and tried to get some sleep when it was 4 AM.
Sitting across Bwale, Nikiwe could see how tense he was. From the moment she introduced herself as a detective, she knew what effect that had on him. Even if many years passed, you cannot get over the terrific scene of seeing your little brother in blood ruthlessly stabbed by a person he wanted to marry.
“I don’t think I can tell you anything about that day, detective,” Bwale said. “I just found him in cold blood and his fiance crying and what’s more painful is that she committed suicide after that.”
That was news to Nikiwe. According to her notes, the girl was still alive holed up in some prison. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“It’s been 30 years, we’ve learnt how to live with it. I don’t know about the voices. How I wish I could have been of any help but did you try talking to the old man detective Chipande, former detective?”
Nikiwe knew the name. She quickly went through her notes and found the first family to ever be struck by this ordeal were the Chipandes. She looked at Bwale who nodded.
“Yes, the same Chipande who witnessed his wife murder his daughters. He later became a detective and followed this case with passion. He really wanted to find out what happened to his wife but his hope was lost when she died in prison. She really got sick. That man has more information on these cases than any other person.”
Nikiwe was lost in her thought. So, Chipande was the same detective Ngoma said to have gone crazy over the same case. She needed to visit him. She needed answers and what better way to find out what was happening than to go to the first family that this all thing happened to. She really had made progress. One question though, where was he?
To be continued