Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First published on Naija Stories by elovepoetry and shortlisted for Chika Unigwe Best Short Short Story Competition last year.



Twenty years on the run, twenty years in hiding, but there’s nowhere else for the 1994 Rwanda genocide mastermind to run to. All hell breaks loose for the God-deluded fugitive.
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Mombasa, Kenya

Sunday 6th April, 2014;


Doctor Felix Bagorosa sat on an exquisite sofa in his mansion at the Kenyan Coast. The house overlooked the warm waters of the ocean; set within lush and colourful gardens, where palms, tropical flowering shrubs and bougainvillaea form a superb backdrop for the water garden and its streams and fountains.  The mansion has spacious rooms, a library, a study, a comfortable lounge bar, gym and a lab which was the reason why he built it.

To the world Felix was a criminal while to himself he was a saint, some kind of a god, a miracle worker. He had the skill, brains and art in a profession that made many of his ilk be looked at as God Himself. Years of experience and medical practice had integrated ability in him; made him a scientific mystic with the rare gift of espousal, the reading of human souls and… Well, creations like God.



Felix’s work and especially his latest breakthrough was a necessary evil. Having done it with man’s first cousins as guinea pig he was astonished by the results. The first samples of his work were at the pilot’s stage – preliminary regeneration successful, sample responding to stimuli and injection.

Felix stood up, yawned and walked to the wine cabinet. He needed some alcohol at the moment. He poured himself brandy and walked to the window that overlooked the coast. Everything was peacefully quiet except for the sound of surf and rustling of the palm trees leaves.

At that moment, he thought of God. God’s dead. He was His replacement. If he could innovate on what God had created and prolong life, then God must have died a long time ago, and nobody had succeeded Him. It had to be him, Dr. Felix Bagorosa. People would worship him for who he was, adore him for what he had done, then crown him God the Father.

*



It was grave dark when Felix walked up the stairs of his lab with a flickering candle. He was dressed in deathly black suit, crème shirt and a black bow tie.

He stood at the top of the staircase and looked back. It was an ocean of eerie darkness, but he’s used to darkness. In that raging ocean of darkness he could hear them, feel them, sense them, see them, smell them; swimming in that ocean he had sailed alone. They were there – phantoms of the children who never lived to see their parents and the light of this world, the spirits of the ageing and the old, those who had no use in the world alive, those neglected and relegated to non-existence. He assumed their groans in that ocean of secrecy and took a key from his coat pocket. He inserted and turned the key, and the lock snapped open. He entered the sarcophagus dark room, the flicker from his candle helping him locate the coffin, his destination. It was the first time in his life he was going where only the dead – who have no will – willingly reside; glory, power, fame and wealth lay in there in wait for him.

Felix opened the coffin and entered. The dead and their ghosts welcomed him merrily to their residence. It felt awkward to be dead.  He contorted his body to look as deathly pallor as that of the dead; slept in there like the dead – arms crossed over the chest, body straight as a board, mouth open and tried very hard not to move.

Nevertheless his mind was fully awake and functional, swimming in a pool of reminiscence.

Wednesday 6th April, 1994 something bad happened. He was there, one of the masterminds. They had carefully planned everything, recruited the actual killers whom they called Innocent Murderers, targets selected and earmarked, lists prepared and houses marked. His American friends had ensured that the Belgian UN Mission troops in the country were removed, leaving only two hundred and seventy, a paltry number to do anything.

He and his cohorts, Hutu extremists, were opposed to the threatening political change that was bound to happen thus they had hatched a plan to prevent the inevitable from happening.

Nonetheless, as all plans go, everything went chaotic when the massacre the Innocent Murderers caused was beyond reckoning. Uncle Sam, the eternal voice of conscience, lifted radio silence. It was broadcast in all of the world’s TV and radio stations. He could still hear the voice of Kofi Annan, then a UN Under-Secretary General, deploring bitterly “Nobody should feel he has a clear conscience of this madness. If the pictures of thousands of thousands of our parents’, brothers’ and sisters’ and children’s bodies rotting and gnawed on by dogs, being feasted by vultures and jackals, do not wake us out of our apathy I don’t know what will.”

What changed everything was what the UN Secretary General said, “We’re all to be held responsible for this failure, all of us, the great powers, African countries, the NGOs and the international community. It is genocide…”

The perpetrators began to be hunted; America awoke in everybody in the world a guilty conscience, putting a bounty of millions of dollars on their heads for information leading to their arrests or whereabouts. Some of them were arrested and arraigned in court, the International Criminal Court, for crimes against humanity, and were prosecuted. However, he, Felix, disappeared off the face of the earth. He had a life to live, something to assuage the world that was hunting him. He gained a new identity and went to start over at the Kenya’s Coast province.

Many knew him as Dr. Alfred Taumu, others as Dr. Nidram Pattin, others as Dr. Agha Khanir – all well crafted disguises. His was doing a research that was important, of great help to humanity.

He worked at the Nairobi Hospital, Pumwani, Aga Khan and Kenyatta Hospital. That was during the day. During the night he was a vampire. He went to places that mattered in his research – brothels and streets. Soon, news broke that taxi drivers were disappearing mysteriously only their bodies to be found less vital organs; prostitutes killed in their decrepit shanties of obscenity, and mothers who went to give birth at select hospitals never saw their children.  Pastor Robert Dane, an American born Kenyan trumpet of God, was one of his trusted lieutenants. He could heal HIV/Aids; make barren women get children by Immaculate Conception amongst other wondrous miracles. When the ‘Miracle Baby Saga’ exposé in Kenya hit the world news, Felix already gotten away with enough specimens.

Vital organs were important to his research. In the dungeon of the night the homeless groaned, growled and cried for their lives. He did not hear any of it. He was doing the world a favour, doing the victims a favour terminating their suffering in a world full of pain. The babies stolen from the select hospitals, he argued, would be faced with the gruelling harsh reality of life and die of malnutrition, starvation or be flimsy victims of tribal clashes. For prostitutes, they had no life. Somebody shouldn’t live to sell her body for a living.

As Felix’s mind moseyed in reminiscence, he heard footsteps outside the coffin. He knew who it was who had trespassed the ghosts’ residence. It was the pallbearers.

The pallbearers closed the coffin lid, took the casket, and carried it shoulder high to a waiting hearse. It was about time the dead were taken to his ancestral home for the burial ceremony.

On the road, the police flagged down all vehicles passing by their roadblock. They were looking for him. The U.S. CIA Office of Asian Pacific, Latin America and African Analysis (APLAA) had confirmed that Dr. Aga Khanir, Dr. Alfred Taumu and Dr. Nidram Pattin were one and the same person; none other but Dr. Felix Bagorosa, one of the fugitive masterminds of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity. Furthermore, intelligence had confirmed that he was also responsible for the spate of ritual murders of cabbies and prostitutes that had rocked the country several years before; and the mysterious disappearance of newborn babies from some of the Nairobi and Coast Province hospitals. Thence, the greatest manhunt – perhaps after Osama bin Laden’s – was mounted, incorporating the CIA, MI6, Interpol and the local security forces. Interpol had already apprehended Pastor Dane after being linked to Dr. Bagorosa.

The police seized, searched and interrogated people everywhere about Dr. Felix Bagorosa, organizations administered polygraphs on their employees and curfews started at six o’clock in the evening till six the following day. All exit points were blocked and put on twenty-four hour surveillance and consulates watched; electronic communication was monitored and listened to – a sudden massacre of privacy. All these bore no fruit.

As the police questioned the hearse driver, Felix was all ears. He could feel the tension in them.

In his life as Dr. Aga Khanir, Dr. Alfred Taumu and Dr. Nidram Pattin he had penetrated places and made friends with who mattered – government ministries, security forces and private sector – ubiquitous yet invisible.

He knew that soon everybody would be singing his name in praises, forget the lost lives and call it sacrifice. Mothers who had lost their children would be repaid hundredfold because they would live for so long that they would voluntarily quit the baby-producing career, governments would offer him business proposals and contracts, and the pope would canonize him before realizing that he, Felix, was God.

The hearse slid past checkpoints and roadblocks with ease to his secret laboratory where his actual project took place. He was doing stuff that won Nobel Peace Prizes.

Felix’s research was on gene-promoters. The lungs, livers, kidneys and the hearts he had robbed with violence his victims were doing above average. Regeneration was taking place at an alarming rate. There’s a fair cell growth, response to stimuli and injection perfect. The pilot specimens were two subjects who had hazardously useless organs – one was a drug addict who had acute cirrhosis and kidney problem while the other was a cancerous woman who’s, according to clinical analysis, about to die within thirty six hours before he set to work on her.

Nevertheless there they were – healthy, salubrious, rejuvenated to youth and vigorous with copious vitality. That’s what his research was about – longevity. Alright, he had experimented on humans, but within no time half the presidents of the world, and the pope himself, would be in need of him. Science would be the new religion, and he, Felix, would be God.

His research, once adopted, would ensure that those at the brink of death would live again – no waiting for some fairy tale man who would come at an unknown time to resurrect people. He, Dr. Felix Bagorosa, was life (no death) and resurrection, the hope of the dying and the living dead.

No more death.

God’s dead.

He was His replacement.

*



It was barely five years after the much sensationalized Rwanda Genocide when he had stumbled on something that piqued his interest. He set out on his research on promoter gene that he could manipulate, scientifically, to increase life expectancy of man to four hundred years on the lower scale. Just when he was contemplating going public with his research something unexpectedly happened. Alas!

The media jackals blabbed on top of mountains and some nerd pieced the jigsaw and solved the ritual deaths of sluts, cabbies and the mysterious disappearance of newborn babies, all linked to a secret lab; a mad scientist experimenting on humans. The earlier theory of ritual killings for a cult was overruled and then the hunt started.

The eternal superpower, America, became more than involved, and then the walls of Felix’s fortress tumbled down. Unearthing of dead and buried evidence showed that Felix was not only guilty of experimenting on humans but was also wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity – he was one of the masterminds of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

He knew why things had turned out this way. He and his American partners had fallen out on royalties. They wanted it to be an American thing; he wanted it to be an African thing, led by an African scientist.

Initially they had experimented on pregnant teenage girls who, lacking professional medical assistance and advice, went to backstreet hospitals for abortion. The immature but developing foetuses could be controlled, scientifically, and longevity be enhanced at that stage of life.

Researchers call it serendipity – making other interesting discoveries from the mainstream research thus decide to pursue them.  That’s what happened. Felix discovered that vital organs – livers, kidneys, heart and lungs could be regenerated back to health, youth and vigour. That’s what was to bring him power, fame, wealth and glory. The world would talk of him for eternity. People would worship him, no longer have to raise their voices in the streets like mad men in the efforts of calling a God who lives in heaven.

Too bad the people he wanted to ease their pain were calling him a criminal, hunting for him like game. What had he done to them to deserve this?

Nevertheless, his only foible was trust. He trusted more than it’s necessary. Inside his secret cabal of scientists there was a traitor. That’s how was found.



*



Rubber rubbed on asphalt and gravel and the hearse came to a halt at the Final Destination. Inside the coffin it was beginning to get uncomfortable. He was sweating profusely, heart palpitating as though threatening a myocardial infarct.

Felix heard footsteps outside and a cacophony of commands being issued and responded to. Someone approached his driver and started questioning him, sure way to freak the driver to panic.

“Open the hearse, mister,” the unmistakable stern command voice ordered.

Inside the coffin, Felix almost grew limp from trepidation and debilitation of the realization of what that meant – there was nowhere else to run. A gazillion of plans flashbulbed in his mind and was left with only one option – Plan B.

Felix hit the top of the casket and sprung out the moment the rear hearse doors opened. They were all there, world’s best licensed killers armed with weapons of mass destruction.

I never knew I was the army, Felix grunted to himself.

At that moment, one thing came to his mind – to run for his dear life.

He took to his heels, ran into the woods, the tall grass and the brooks that he well knew. He could hear them right behind him, their feet stumping hard against the earth’s crust. Their orders were to shoot first then ask questions later.

He increased his pace, putting distance between them, but they were there; scurrying right behind him, hurrying, and closing in.

Felix glanced over his right shoulder painfully. It was not only him who exercised regularly to keep fit. Then, he came to an abrupt halt. He had forgotten that a twelve-foot wall, topped with thick electrified concertina wire, surrounded his den. He couldn’t go over it. And what was that? – Artificial birds buzzing above.

In his peripheral vision, Felix saw a platoon of soldiers surround him and fire their weapons at once. Sweat beaded his face, legs paralysed by a debilitating wave of exhaustion and bowls almost gave in as his vision dazed and fuzzed, his pounding heart jumping to his dry mouth. The bullets hit him instantaneously.

A thick white curtain opened revealing a black stage quilted by millions of twinkling stars that coalesced to a nebulous Milky Way. He was hauled into an abysmal dungeon and at that very moment he wondered what would be the last thing he would see before descending to ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’

What he did not know was that they wanted him alive. He had not even known that the M26 Standard Military Tasers’ ammunition that causes neuromuscular incapacitation had hit him at the speed of light.

What a terrible way to die? Was Felix’s last thought; however, as everything fuzzed he heard the unmistakable voice of his CIA Scientist partner say, “No sympathy for devil, Doctor.”



Copyright ©Elove Poetry, 2012. All Rights Reserved

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