“Hello Senayon. This is The Ring Collector. We’ll be hearing from each other a lot from now on. Opened a twitter account for you, its @senayonolopa and the password is murder. You might want to check the mentions.”
Senayon read and re-read the text message, wondering if it was one of Sumbo’s friends playing pranks on him. The pictures of Charles’ mutilated body and the message in his blood was all over the internet and it didn’t take a huge stretch of imagination for some prankster to do this. But there was something about the message, in its precision and tone that made him think otherwise. This didn’t feel like a prank; in fact he had a feeling of foreboding hang over him, the cloud getting thicker with each time he read the message. But he really didn’t know much about this twitter thing. He would wait for Acharu to get of the phone and ask her for help.
It took another three minutes for Acharu to round off the call, and when she turned around, Senayon noticed that some of her composure was gone. And he knew the woman, it took a lot to faze her.
“Senayon, did you open a twitter account?” Acharu said with venom.
“What? Before I started investigating this case yesterday, I didn’t even know what twitter was. And I just got this text telling me someone alleging to be the murderer opened a twitter account for me and that something is in my mentions, whatever that is. How did you even know about that before reading what the text message said?” Senayon was confused.
“Shit!” Acharu swore, snatching the phone out of Senayon’s hands and opening the text message.
“You could have asked me to give you the phone, you know,” he said sarcastically. She ignored him as her eyes ran over the text message in a few seconds.
“Do you have any systems connected to the internet in this your shithole?” she asked. It was one of the issues he had had with her when they had been together. She swore in every phrase once she was agitated. He chose to ignore this and pulled out his laptop from his drawer along with a modem. “Surprise, surprise, in spite of the police high command’s refusal to bring us into the internet age, we actually know of the internet and some of us have our own internet connection.”
The two minutes the old laptop took to boot felt like two hours. “This will probably connect us to last year’s internet,” Acharu said as she launched the browser and went to twitter. Quickly, she entered the parameters in the text message and it brought up a twitter account, complete with a picture of Senayon in the avi. Who the hell was this person that went to such lengths to create a very real looking account? There was nothing on the account’s timeline so she went straight to the mentions. Senayon was standing behind her now. “What is this?” he queried.
“This is twitter, Senayon. It’s how all the information on you was shared and circulated.” She gave him a crash course on twitter and how it was used and then they went back to the mentions. “This is how someone makes you read a specific tweet. It’s like saying something but shouting your name before it so that you know it’s meant for you specifically,” she said.
@senayonolapa’s mentions were filled with tweets from an @TheRingCollector twitter handle. There were ten tweets. The first said
“I sent this last cos twitter would show u 1st. I strike again & you haven’t found me. Pix and address below.”
The tweet immediately below it said
“Oh, and you can’t hide this. I’ve mentioned the blogs and news media. And my handle becomes useless after this”
Then she opened scrolled to the ten tweets below these two. Each tweet contained a picture of a naked body in a huge bed with white satin sheets. The limbs were tied to the four posts of the bread, spread out like a chicken about to be grilled. The head had been cut clean off and placed on the six pack stomach, right on top of the belly button, facing the feet. The expression of fear mangled with pain at the last moments was captured frozen in the face that now stared lifeless into camera that had taken these pictures. The two pillows with their sparkling white pillowcases had been arranged on either side of the headless neck now. On one pillow, was the message
“From The Ring Collector to Senayon; Message on the other pillow when you come here”
In all the pictures, the 2nd pillow showed there was something written, but didn’t show the words clearly. All the writing was in red. The final tweet was the address of the venue of the murder. In all the tweets, @TheRingCollector had mentioned the handles of the major bloggers, twitter overlords and news agencies. One of those had already begun a campaign on twitter and the image had already spread. She opened one of them. Five thousand retweets already. This was a huge mess. It was how the police high command had found out about it. She had been here with Senayon and had missed it as it spread. The speed with which things spread these days was alarming. Twitter, she thought. Now that this looked more like a serial killing maniac on the loose, she had to figure out how they could still spin this to discredit these twitter activists. That was her brief, and whatever was thrown to her, she had to figure out a way.
Senayon was sweating where he stood, fighting hard to keep his hands from shaking. This maniac was personalizing this. He had done nothing more than his job to investigate, so how come the criminal had gone to the length of opening a twitter account, spreading the news of the murder and then sending personalized messages to him in the murder scene. Acharu voiced out what he was thinking
“Senayon, what the hell did you do to this killer to make whoever it is take things so personal with you?”
“How in the world am I supposed to know? I was merely doing my job. I’m sure it could have been any other person, it was just by chance that it was me.”
“Look at you shaking like a leaf, oga olopa. Will you get a grip of yourself?” Acharu chastised.
Senayon shot her a look that would stop an elephant in its tracks “it isn’t you that has your name painted in blood by a serial killer at the scene of the latest murder. And trust me, I have been at one of the scenes. It is gory, the pictures do not show nada of what it is really like.”
“Come on Senayon. Whoever it is simply got your name off the internet in the news reports and your number from the twitter crowd and is now playing pranks on you. Get a grip man and stop being a chicken!”
“Pranks? You call two decapitated bodies and messages in blood pranks? May they play pranks on you well well then! I think you should visit this site with my team to really see.”
“I have work to do mister, go and do yours,” Acharu responded haughtily.
“Who is the chicken now?” Senayon responded. The stare-down began, until Acharu said through gritted teeth without looking away “I’ll go.”
Sumbo lay in bed and hit the “post” button on her blog. Immediately, her twenty thousand followers on twitter and one thousand Facebook community plus about two thousand Google Plus circle got a link to the post, with another five thousand email followers getting the link delivered directly to their email. The piece would bury that Senayon who had the effrontery to treat the way he had done the night before. Now that it was clear a serial killer was on the prowl, she would milk it for all it was worth. Her fiery lawyer had told her to sue the police but she knew that would be dead on arrival. She would rather create a PR furor for them. There were some exaggerations in her story, along with the pictures of Charles and the Fuad guy’s bodies picmixed for effect in the post. Her phone rang and she saw it was Sandra. She picked up the phone and padded to the living room.
“You could not come inside abi? Technology has spoilt you,” Sumbo said.
“Worefa, I didn’t want to stress my voice shouting your name. you got the message and are here now, aren’t you?” Sandra responded
Sumbo rolled her eyes and curtsied “and how may I serve her royal majesty?” she asked.
“Men, you want to finish this policeman’s career in this post? Na wa for you o, be nicer now.”
“As he was nice to me ba? Please men do not deserve any niceness from us. They take all the nice ones for granted. It’s obviously a babe that’s this killer and she’s using sex to cause the men to get into vulnerable positions before killing them. Not so obvious with randy uncle Charles, but with this Fuad, it’s pretty much clear to these dumb police officers.”
“And knowing this, how does it identify the killer, detective Sumbo who is smarter than the police?”
“Oh shattap! Why then would they arrest me? I definitely would not be sleeping with Charles, ewww,” Sumbo said
“Eww my skinny ass. You were doing him under and without roofs for a whole year, so you actually stand a higher possibility of returning to his bed statistically. Plus you are a woman, so that makes it possible,” Sandra said, tongue in cheek.
“You know you are a stupid child abi?” Sumbo retorted.
“But that’s exactly why you love me,” Sandra responded and mock hugged Sumbo.
“Oww gerrout!” Sumbo said.
A call came into Sandra’s phone and before she could reach it, Sumbo picked it and answered the call. “Hello, how may we be of service to you?” she asked, when she saw what Sandra had saved the caller as. Sandra danced around her, trying to get the phone off her. Sumbo chuckled and handed the phone over to Sandra.
After Sandra got off the call, she began to prepare to leave the house. “Sandra, really?” Sumbo said.
“What I do?” Sandra responded, mimicking the girl from the Basket Mouth comedy skit.
“You had to save his name as Sweet Nackson?”
Senayon felt bad. He had known Acharu would not be able to stand the sight but he had goaded her on until she came along to save face. Now, after she had vomited, was pale and shaken, he didn’t feel the twitch of triumph he thought he would feel. He turned his mind to this particular murder. It had been different from the first one. In this case, the killer had reported the murder, so there was no one to interview. The forensic team was combing the whole room now, trying to find anywhere the killer had slipped up. If the first murder was any indication, they would find nothing.
Even seeing the picture beforehand hadn’t prepared him fully for the impact of actually seeing the sight. And someone, a Nigerian, not one of those mad oyinbo people they watched in movies did this. The first thing he had raced to check when he got in was the second pillow. The message chilled him to the bones.
“Game time. The Ring Collector adds to the collection in two days time. Find me b4 then or you’ll become The Ring Maker”
“What the hell does this mean!” he had asked quietly, his hands shaking again. He hated when that happened, it gave him away too easily. But Acharu wasn’t any help. He took a photo of both pillows, careful to make sure the body showed as little as possible in them. He would need to look at those messages again and again, and he didn’t want to look at that horrible sight each time he did.
He began to think of anyone who could be out to get him. Criminals. People they had used their power as the police to oppress. There were too many. No single one stood out. He was in serious, serious trouble, and he knew it. He stepped outside to join Acharu as they began to bag the body and other items in the house.
“Fuck what the high command wants; we need to stop this maniac. We need to investigate this properly and forget spin.” Acharu said as he got to where she was standing. She seemed to have regained some of her usual composure.
“Acharu, there’s going to be another death if we do not stop this killer in two days. I don’t even know what the message was threatening me with, but whatever it was, I definitely do not want to find out when it’s happening to me.”
“This person obviously must have a modus operandi. All serial killers usually have victim selection criteria. Plus the killings are not hasty, the killer takes his or her time to go through an elaborate process and presentation of the body. And then the writing. And now, personalizing and tormenting you and playing this catch me before I kill another person or you’ll be guilty game with you. This is madness, a psycho!” Acharu said emphatically.
“Psycho, psycho,” Senayon rolled the word over his tongue. Then an idea struck him. “Psychiatrists figure psychos out, yes?” he stated.
Acharu nodded and responded “well, in a manner, yeah.”
“I’ll be the first to admit that we need help on this case. We have never faced anything like this before. And I know just the psychiatrist who might just be crazy enough to help us,” he said.
They exchanged a series of nods that were both questions and answers until Acharu understood who Senayon was referring to. She shook her head vehemently “no Senayon, no. You cannot be serious about him. Why can’t we go to UNILAG or LASU and find some brilliant psychiatry lecturer who will help us now?”
“Acharu, we both know he’s the best plus he’s had experience. Forget what everyone else says, we know he’s the best for this case. Someone, maybe that someone is even me might die in two days. This isn’t the time to be choosy.”
“So him?” Acharu said again. Senayon nodded wordlessly. She continued “Okay. Him it is then. Now, who calls him, you or me?”
“He’ll listen to you dear.” He responded.
She knew he was right. She picked up her phone and dialed someone she hadn’t spoken with in seven years.