When he came to, Bankole found himself tied to one of the heavy dining chairs in the living room. He tried to move and he felt the pain surge through him again.
“Keep still mister,” her voice came from behind him.
His eyes watered as he fought back the tears. She had tied him up in such a way that he couldn’t turn his head to see her. The unpredictability of not knowing what she was doing behind him caused the terror to rise within him.
“Why are you doing this? Who are you?” he asked, afraid to raise his voice lest she got angered enough to punish him.
“I am your worst nightmare. They call me The Ring Collector,” she said evenly.
She watched as his body stiffened when she mentioned the name. She liked it. He recognized the name and what it meant.
“Please, I beg you in the name of God…” he began
The shock from the Taser shot through him again. “Do not blaspheme the name of God mister like you’ve done for years now. Instead of truthfully saying you wanted to be free to chase skirts, you hung your desire on God and disgraced her.”
When his eyes focused again, a tab was before them. A picture of him and his wife sharing a kiss on their wedding day was on the screen. They were both flashing their wedding rings for the camera.
“Is this about Tolani? Did she send you?”
“She didn’t have to. But you threw away your ring, and I’m here to collect it. I’ll let you live on one condition. If you can produce your wedding ring now, you will live.”
Bankole gnashed his teeth.
“I thought so,” she said. “Now, the last image you will see was that of your wedding ring.”
He attempted to scream, but no sound came out of his mouth. Then he felt a searing pain. This time, it was different from the pain of the Taser. He struggled for a few moments, and then the darkness swallowed him.
Senayon made a note in the jotter he had been forced to get the previous day by Professor Morkly. The review of the autopsy reports of both Charles and Fuad showed one thing; the Ring Collector was very proficient with drugs that served the purpose of demobilizing her victims. Charles had a strong traces of hypnotic drugs in his system which must have induced sleep during which he was demobilized. Fuad had a drug the doctor had described as leaving patients conscious but unable to move. Terrible stuff. Unfortunately, the drugs were readily available. He grudgingly admitted to the brilliance of this serial killer. She deliberately selected tools that would give them insight, but in the final analysis were so easy to get that they would tell them nothing specific. There had to be some special hook that he could latch on to somewhere that would lead him to her. He checked the time. He had only fourteen hours to the end of the day, and he was no closer to finding her or her intended victim than he was yesterday, in spite of knowing much more.
“this is frustrating,” he said out aloud. “And it’s still two hours before I see Acharu for that darned list.”
He couldn’t stand the waiting and doing nothing. He checked on the units he had organized and were on standby to go into the field once they could decipher where to go. All that took another thirty minutes and he was left with nothing but waiting again.
He was about to call Professor Morkly to find out if there was anything new there when his phone rang. It was Acharu. He scooped the phone off his table like a hungry man and picked the call.
“Wassap. This is quite early. Area cool and calm?” he said, trying to hide his eagerness.
“See this one forming like he hadn’t been looking at his phone every five minutes just. Senayon, you forget that I know you well,” Acharu responded.
“Whatever. What do you have for me?”
“Someone is all prickly this morning o,” Acharu said.
“Well, if you had a serial killer taking personal interest in you, you’d be even more prickly,” Senayon responded curtly.
“Okay, the blogger came through faster than we expected and I’m done with handling the commissioner. So I’m on my way to your station now. Woulda asked you to come, but the situation here at headquarters is on the knife’s edge and you coming might just rile those who want us to tow the establishment line in this case,” she said.
“Ever the politician. So you handled the commissioner well, abi.” Senayon responded.
“And ever the porcupine, Senayon. And why did you have to say handled that way? That has always been your problem, you know? Assuming I have no other way of dealing with things than opening my legs. well, for your inferiority complex stunted info, I am not fucking the commissioner, there’s nothing someone in his league can do for me. If I wanted to use my kpekus to get ahead at this level, only the likes of the IG and people at the center would qualify. So shove it up your ass!” Acharu yelled.
Senayon couldn’t think of a comeback to that. He simply said flatly. “Apologies. I’ll see you soon then.”
“Send a squad car for the professor, I’d like to ask him something when I get there,” she said.
Senayon imagined he heard her adding “and that’s an order” but he knew she said nothing of the sorts. As if to assert himself with the last bit of control he could muster, he hung up and set about arranging for Professor Morkly to get there.
“The list is rather brief,” Professor Morkly said, scoffing. They were all gathered around Senayon’s table, poring over the sheet of paper on which Acharu had printed the email from Stella Dimokokorkus. There was a list of three young men and two ladies along with all their social media details. “The guys are the serial engagement breakers and the ladies have had engagements broken severally,” Acharu explained.
Senayon was not going to give his seat up to Morkly this time, he was asserting himself. When Acharu had arrived, she made no mention of their telephone conversation for which he was grateful. But she had reverted to the strictly businesslike Acharu, PPRO, totally doing away with the warmth that had begun to develop between them.
“They’re all fairly popular men. We’ve checked on the first and he has been out of the country for two weeks, so he cannot be the mark. The other two are here in Lagos but we haven’t contacted them just yet.” Acharu stated.
“Well, I haven’t been idle. I spoke with one of my friends in the US, and he used his good office to hack into the Direct Messages of the two victims,” Professor Morkly said.
“Really?” both Acharu and Senayon said together.
“Yes. the idea occurred to me after I had left you and you definitely do not have the required expertise, so I carried on myself. And I discovered a pattern,” Morkly responded.
“You are just something prof,” Acharu said, shaking her head in disbelief.
“So, can you tell us what you found out good sir,” Senayon queried.
“May I use you system to access my email?” he asked even as he took the tablet from Acharu without waiting for a reply. He quickly pulled up an email that had some image attachments. “Charles’ DM was filled with all manner of dirt, but none arranging a rendezvous around the day he died. But we found a mention of wanting pizza along with his address on his timeline along with tweets that he was home alone. The killer didn’t need DMs with him. The attached images are Fuad’s DM screenshots. She monitored his routine as pasted on social media and simply planted herself in. Now, does any of your two remaining options announce their daily activities on twitter?”
They paused for a bit as if to allow the prof’s deduction sink in. then as if a bug bit him, Senayon snatched the tablet out of Morkly’s hands and launched the twitter app. Morkly was laughing hysterically at their excitement but they ignored the mad old man. Using Acharu’s handle, they went through the timeline of the first guy but found nothing that fit the bill of announcing your personal life on twitter. Without wasting time, they moved on to the second person’s timeline. The last tweet on the @doubleb handle was
“Me, my car and my bible chilling at home.” And it was accompanied by a picture of a fine young man holding a bible and leaning against a Range Rover with customized number plate Omo Jesu. His two tweets before that were similar pictures.
“Well, this is personal but not outrageously so. People post such pictures on twitter daily” Acharu said.
“Enlarge the picture again,” Seanyon said.
Acharu did as he said, wondering what else was in the picture. Senayon peered at it for some seconds and suddenly said
“There! The street name is in the image.”
Acharu quickly zoomed in on the picture and sure enough, the street name was there. She knew the street in Lekki. “Damn! I can find this man’s house if I wanted to, and if I was a serial killer targeting him.”
The raced through his timeline and sure enough saw different tweets that pieced together a picture of his daily life.
“We have our victim!” Acharu announced.
“Of course you do, even you guys are not so dumb that you wouldn’t figure it out with all the help you got. Now are you just going to sit here announcing or are you going to actually do something?” Morkly responded.
“I’m on it already,” Senayon said, exiting the room.
“Aren’t you going to check the women on the list? One of them might be the killer, you know?” Morkly goaded Acharu. She knew it was unnecessary to and ignored his peskiness. There was little time and they had to get this right. Acharu called the phone number of the guy from one of the two her agents had supplied her earlier and dialed him up. She willed with all her heart that he would answer.