FICTION: The First Job, Part One

By Drum Digital
03 March 2017

As the locomotive sped along a winding railway line, I realised that I'd made a mistake. There was no way the train was going to stop at the station where I was supposed to get off. It went even faster and sounded its klaxon as it approached the small, deserted station.

By Legodile Seganabeng

Then, as it rushed on through, I looked over the top of the goods wagon where I was sitting and caught a glimpse of the station and the lights of its old Karoo town retreating further into the distance. The scenery was a swift blur of motion, and I knew I'd have to risk a jump. I had to do it. Now! With my backpack strapped to my shoulders, I stood up and grabbed the edge of the wagon. Gusts of cold wind stung my face. I gulped three deep breaths then I was airborne.

My back met the ground first; the backpack acted as a shock cushion of sorts. But it hurt all the same. It hurt like hell. I rolled over and over until a tree trunk stopped me and squeezed the air out of my lungs. I gasped and grunted as pain spiked through my ribs and skull. Then I turned my battered brain to a new thought: had I broken any bones? Lying supine with bells ringing in my head, I stared at the dark-purple sky for what seemed like a long time. But I had to get going, bones or no bones.

Spitting soil and leaning against the tree, I opened the backpack to check on the contents. The pieces of the sniper rifle looked okay. I rose, creaking with pain, and started limping towards the town, to carry out my first job in this new, exciting year of 2016.

It wasn’t a long walk – from the bush past the old train station and into the town. While pain weakened me, excitement coursed through my veins. The pay for the job was awesome. So wonderful, I'd lied to get it.

BRA STONE knew that just three months ago I'd been released from prison. I told him I'd been doing time for murder, that I was a cold-blooded, ruthless killer. Bra Stone didn’t know that I had gone to prison for failure to pay maintenance for my child. A two-week crash course on weapon training was mandatory for the job. For me, this was my only chance to redeem myself from social scorn. My toddler was only three years old. I didn’t want to go back to prison, at least not for failing to support my offspring. When Bra Stone offered me the assassination job, I jumped at the opportunity.

From the station, I walked along dark paths into the town. There were streets where the lights weren’t working. I chose those. At that time of night, the roads were deserted and shops were closed. I was told it used to be a mining town before the gold was depleted and the mines shut down. Some residents who made fortunes out of the mines had remained in the town, though the Government was no longer providing services there. The town was run by a few stinking-rich individuals who didn’t need any governmental aids. They had their own schools and clinics and power plants and everything. It was one of those moguls that I had come here tonight to eliminate. My job was to kill and not to ask questions about my target and why he had to be eradicated.

Two figures loomed out of the shadows and jogged towards me. I reached for the pistol in the side pocket of my backpack. Even in the gloom of the night, I could see the one thug had an okapi knife. I pulled the pistol on them, and they froze. Hands went up and knives dropped on the ground.

“Get out of my way!” I said.

“Awuyena umuntu owalana né (You’re not from here, are you?),” one of them asked.

“Angeke ngiphendule lowom’buzo. Suka la! Gijima nja! (I’m not going to answer that question. Just get the hell away!)”

I shook the pistol at them and the two young men bolted into the night.

I strode on into town, looking for Cobber Street, Plot 66. I spotted it from a distance – clearly a rich man’s abode. The 66 on the wall was huge, illuminated like a commercial neon sign. It made an easy target. There was an electrical distribution transformer box on the side of the street, perfectly placed. I crouched behind it and removed the rifle pieces from my backpack. After assembling them into one solid weapon, my heart began thumping again.

Perhaps I didn’t have the nerve for this kind of job, but I wasn’t backing away, nerve or no nerve.  I desperately needed the money for my baby's papgeld.

To be continued . . .

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