Acharu summoned up courage and joined them inside. She was a police officer after all and she wouldn’t hear the last of it from Senayon if she remained outside. When she got inside, she nearly lost her resolve. Even in the movies, she hadn’t seen anything quite so gory.
With his head on the plate with the eyes popping out in their sockets, Senayon still recognized his former pastor. Flamboyant, stylish and an effective orator, Pastor Banky had been a rising shining star in the gospel firmament and Senayon had been attracted to his message. He had become the church’s Chief Security Officer and that made him extraordinarily close to the pastor. He wished he had stayed far away from it all. Becoming privy to the pastor’s inner moments had opened a vista of uncomely things to him about how the man of God lived. The proverbial camel’s back had been broken when the pastor announced he was leaving his wife. Senayon couldn’t take it any longer. He simply left the church and became disillusioned with religion in general. Now, looking at the dismembered body of his former pastor brought back memories he did not want to remember.
“Senayon, why do you have that look in your eyes like you are not here?” Acharu was saying as she shook him.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Senayon responded, getting a grip of himself.
Professor Morkly was pacing as the evidence team went about taking pictures and trying to collect whatever shreds of evidence they could. One of them returned with a collection of CDs and handed one over to each of them. It took only one glance for Morkly and Acharu to realize what Senayon already knew.
“This is that hotshot pastor who divorced his wife now. The blogs always carry some story about his affair with some lady or the other.” Acharu said, scoffing. She disliked his type and couldn’t help showing it in spite of the situation.
“If he is divorced, then it logically follows that he was married,” Morkly said, more to himself than to them.
“Yes, that’s quite obvious” Senayon responded.
“Which isn’t quite what your erudite profiling said the victims would be,” Acharu added.
Morkly was hot in the ears. This killer had managed to make him look stupid once again and he was taking this personal now.
“It still fits the profile if one broadens the scope of the victim selection by deleting the necessity of the victims being single. The rest of the profiling fits. The pastor was a public figure, was a disgusting cruella to his wife and did his best to set a world record with bedding women in secret solitary locations like this. Sounds the same to me.” Morkly said with airs and graces.
“And how does such a widened scope help us to stop this Ring Collector from collecting her final ring, en oh great brilliant decipherer of serial killing minds,” Senayon said curtly.
Morkly adjusted his neck scarf and shot Senayon a killing look “and what are you going to do now that the Ring Collector is coming home, oh great cop that mocks”
“Oh drop the testosterone fueled gorilla-like chest thumping and focus on the problem” Acharu said, banging her hand on the table and making the head jump in the plate. That seemed to get the men quiet.
“So, the killer has widened her scope. What does that tell us?” Senayon said.
“She can do it again. In fact, she is probably going to strike outside all of the sets she has operated in. Look at it as set theory. There are some things that remained constant, in spite of the fact that this victim was married. I think that is like an intersection of the set. Whatever she brings into scope, like a union of the set must have that intersection as part of it. If we expect her to bring a new set into the mix that maintains this intersection, what trait is she yet to explore that might be a part of this new set”
It took all of Senayon’s restraint and an eyeing from Acharu to keep him from shouting at Morkly that what they needed was not a lesson in set theory. Morkly continued. “While I ponder that, let’s focus on her obsession with you, super cop.”
By now, the evidence guys were done and everything was bagged and taken away. Morkly’s reminder of the Ring Collector’s last message was all he needed for his mood now.
“Well, I’m not a public figure. I don’t ferret girls on social media. And hell, I do not have a secret location where I can come and bed women, I struggle to pay the rent in my current place. In fact, I struggle so much with these payments that my wife left me for a baba olowo. So…”
“Wait. What did you just say?” Morkly interrupted.
“You want me to repeat just how bad my life is one more time for your gloating pleasure?” Senayon spat. His self restraint was approaching breaking point now.
“Senayon my boy, just repeat what you just said. I think I’m about to have an Archimedes-esque Eureka moment, so humor me and do as you are told,” Morkly said.
Senayon had had it. He stormed out of the room.
“You just had to be snotty and condescending, didn’t you?” Acharu asked in annoyance, as she followed Senayon out of the room, leaving a confused Morkly in the room with a “what did I say” look on his face.
Senayon got back to his desk, and began to review the autopsy reports on the first two murders. Both reported the bodies having paralyzing substances in the blood stream. That must have been how men that big were overpowered by a woman, he thought. She must have drugged them first and then immobilized them. He liked the fact that they had all left him alone. Acharu had received a call from the headquarters about this new death and had gone to answer her bosses. She had told Senayon that there was a high likelihood that he would be taken off the case and special investigators appointed by the IG himself would probably take it over. After the initial political linkage which discredited the twitter overlords and activists, the activists had fought back when the killings continued and became obviously apolitical. Now, the heat was in the police kitchen and there were orders from above that the case be killed off conclusively. They could do all they wanted for all he cared. It was not any of them that had their names in the blood messages from the killer. All the online media and news agencies carried the story. He had turned his phone off after their calls came incessantly for information on the case. Two of them who were bold enough had even called at the station but he had left stern instructions with his men to turn everyone away. He was holed up in the station, but he knew he would have to go home eventually. Home, alone. He shuddered at the thought but shook himself. He was definitely not going to allow himself get drugged by any woman and since she had not overpowered any of her victims without the help of incapacitating drugs, he felt safe. But a voice kept niggling at the back of his mind and kept repeating the words HOME ALONE.
“Home. Where is this home she is coming to,” he mumbled to himself. Then he got another text message. It was from yet another different number, but he didn’t need to be told who it was from.
“Final ring gets collected in 2days time. RC to RM”
He was not going to just lie down and take it this time. He pressed REPLY and typed the message.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”
Split-seconds after the sent the text, his phone vibrated indicating he had received a text. With hands trembling with excitement and fear, he reached for his phone and opened the text message. It was a reply to his own message. It contained a single word, the last that he wanted to see.
Morkly sat in the midst of his books and laptop, scribbling away furiously. He was constructing the set after scouring the internet for all the information he could get and consulting his books and notes from many years past.
“Compulsive order, check. True to method and showmanship, check. Hypocritical lifestyle. Not all. Behaviour, check. Only marital status different.”
He was finding points of similarity and points of difference. He had found the intersection. He had a gut feeling this final home run of the little bird was going to be outside the former three sets. Initially, he had thought she was coming for Senayon. He was different enough from the first three victims to be from outside their set. But the more he looked at the intersection, the less he was convinced it was Senayon she was coming for. He simply did not have any of the attributes from there. But he had already figured out that this final hit was going to be about Senayon, even if it wasn’t Senayon that would be the victim. Problem was, the mocking cop was a loner. No one but his daughter was linked to him in any way and that daughter was far away from Lagos. Something told him the Ring Collector wasn’t leaving Lagos, and would not kill a little girl. It had to be someone else.
“What if she deliberately hit us with the curveball of going outside her regular parameters to throw us on a wild goose chase?” he mumbled to himself. It was possible. Logic told him it was a huge stretch of possibility, but something sub-logic niggled at his mind telling him she had outsmarted him once and could very well do it again. He shook it off.
“Whatever it is, I must decide on my hypothesis and stick with it. She will strike outside all known parameters again. And there are only two parameters she hasn’t tweaked. The territory is the first, but that’s ruled out. Senayon is the sun around which her killing revolves, and she isn’t going to move out of his reach. It will therefore be in Lagos. The second is the gender. She will kill a woman this time.”
As soon as he said it, it hit him like a lightning bolt. She would kill a woman. It jumped from his theoretical ponderance into a very real possibility in that instance and he took off. “Oh dear, oh dear.” He said as he raced out. When he go to the door, he realized he felt empt”
As soon as he said it, it hit him like a lightning bolt. She would kill a woman. It jumped from his theoretical ponderance into a very real possibility in that instance and he took off. “Oh dear, oh dear.” He said as he raced out. When he go to the door, he realized he felt empty. He wheeled around and raced back inside to get his scarf, quickly twisting it around his neck. Now, feeling complete, he raced out of the house to go and find Senayon.
‘Oga says he doesn’t want to see anybody,” the exasperated officer said to the funny looking man. He had seen the man come in and go with the DPO and the PPRO woman in the past few days now, but an order was an order.
“officer, will you be kind enough to tell your oga that it is about the homecoming of the little bird?” Morkly said to the policeman in as polite voice as he could muster to cloak the irritation just seething beneath.
“I don’t want oga’s trouble. Please go and come another time or call his mobile phone so he can come and bring you by himself” the policeman said.
“Chief, will you get out of the way this moment” a familiar female voice ordered sharply from behind Morkly. The policeman saluted quickly and opened the small swing door to allow them in. whatever oga said, this woman was the state PPRO and senior to his DPO. He had to obey her.
“Apologies for the ill mannered treatment sir,” Acharu said.
“Oh, he was only obeying orders,” Morkly responded.
Senayon had heard them coming and was waiting. “Acharu, you could have come in alone, you know?” he said, ignoring the prof.
Acharu guessed he wasn’t handling the pressure from the press and news people well. He would not be used to such attention the way she was. She shook her head and responded to him soothingly “Prof has some exciting new findings to share with us,” and then turning to Morkly, she said with meaning “and he has promised to be nicer”.
“You mean he’s going to come and share some of his new baseless conjecture with us?” Senayon retorted.
Morkly ignored him and said with his lecture voice “the little bird is coming home to get another little bird Senayon. After plugging all the data into the set theory based model I built, contrary to what you fear and think, she is coming for you.”
“Oh, really?” Senayon asked, his words dripping with sarcasm.
“I’m absolutely certain that you are safe. Her next target will be a woman.”
“Then explain this,” Senayon retorted as he handed his phone with the text message conversation over to Morkly. Acharu joined Morkly and read the message quickly.
“When did you get this?” she asked.
“Not very long ago, and contrary to professor’s mathematical set theoretical opportunistic dramatization, she has stated who she is coming after in plain English. Damn, I’m sounding like the professor! Am I going mad?” Senayon said.
Morkly just held the phone in his hands, trembling. He could not believe he was wrong again a second time.