FICTION: The First Job, Part Two

By Drum Digital
07 March 2017

The surface of the power box became a stand for the weapon, hiding my lower torso behind it. I peeped into the telescope and pointed the rifle at house number 66.

By Legodile Seganabeng

I attached the sound suppressor to the muzzle. Guided by the crosshairs, I moved my aim to the window, which was open.

Through the mosquito screen and translucent curtains, I could see his silhouette, exactly where he should be. I had been briefed that my target lived alone, an old man who sat at his table almost all night every night, reading a book he wrote some decades ago. Well, there he was, his head bowed slightly into his book. I could tell he wore spectacles. “Read your last words, Dr Bookworm,” I muttered.

I worked the bolt to put a round into the breach and reached for the trigger. I noted that my finger trembled slightly, revealing that I was actually a chicken, not the hardened criminal I had claimed to be. My aim was on his left temple almost above the left ear. I pulled the trigger. The weapon made less noise than a car backfiring, and the old-timer kissed the table. Bingo!

Just then, the lights inside number 66 went off. Out through his head, my bullet must have hit an electric wire, causing a short circuit, I reasoned.  And I hadn't forgotten rule number two: Ensure that your target is dead. With the rifle slung over my shoulder, I sprinted to the stoep of the house and kicked the front door open. For a moment I stood in there, adjusting my eyes to the dark interior. Surprisingly, the large living room didn’t have any furniture apart from the table at the window. Rich people are very weird, I thought.

I walked to the figure slumped on the table. First revelation: There was no book on the table. I expected to see blood splattered everywhere. There was none. Had my shot missed him? That was my first thought. And then: did he die from shock? I grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled his head up from the table. Second revelation: My target was a shop window dummy! I let go of the plastic head and briskly backed away as the life-sized dummy of an old man fell to the floor.

I felt the sweat crawl on my back. Did I shoot at a wrong target? No, it couldn’t be. This was plot 66. Something was amiss. Something was going on.

“Well done!” a voice spoke from behind me.

I spun around and faced the two thugs that I had encountered earlier in the street.

“What are you doing here? Who are you?” I asked.

Another man entered the room and my mouth dropped open.

“Bra Stone!” I cried.

“Call me Colonel Khumalo,” Bra Stone said. “Congratulations, you’ve passed the test.”

“Test? What test?” I asked the man whom I knew as my rogue boss.

“Meet Special Agents Isaac and Kgosi. They were instrumental in this exercise.”

The two thugs nodded and I swallowed a thick paste of saliva.

“You have been selected for the Special Force’s Mamba Unit. You’ll be a civil servant! And you'll be able to pay papgeld now. We know why you were in prison, that you were not a cold-blooded killer. But now you've proved that you can be.”

I was at a loss for words, still trying to put the pieces together. The Colonel explained, “That was our train. It didn’t stop deliberately. The two skibengas here knew you were coming. Even those dead street lights, we turned them off ourselves. And why do you think the plot number is so big and lit up? We didn’t want you to miss it. Take a look outside the window.”

I pulled the curtain and peered outside. A truck was parked in the street. Four men were loading the power box behind which I had hid. It wasn’t a transformer at all. It was a prop!

“Welcome to the Mambas, Agent Mangalani,” Colonel Khumalo said, and shook my hand.


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