The Scorpion that Refused to Sting
By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema (Nigeria)
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
It was supposed to be a routine job but Daniyan Kalo had been uneasy from the moment he received the assignment.
As the H-hour – the underworld name for the attack time - approached, his discomfort increased till his body was numb. He was not a stranger to assassinations. As one of the most senior agents in the Head of State's secret Scorpion Squad, many critics of the government had faced the lethal end of his gun. It mattered little that they flew upon the earth like birds, breathing God's fresh air or were cooped up behind an armada of security. Once Daniyan was summoned by the Scorpion Squad commander, it was only a matter of time before their bodies were under gravestones in different cemeteries. Daniyan was the professional of professionals.
And yet he was now uneasy. Reverend Father John was not going to be the first “holy fool” to face his weapon. But it was clear that the sixty-year old parson of St. Paul's parish had either ignored or had not heard of the fate that befell government critics. Apparently he had also not read the portions of his religion's manual that talked about the last days. So his articles and poems had damned him. Daniyan and his two-man team had their orders. The hit was slated for the usually packed 9a.m. Sunday Mass. The other two agents would divert attention with stun grenades while Daniyan would pull the trigger from his vantage position in the third row, just by the aisle. It was absolutely simple; the church security was a joke.
As the choristers' sonorous entrance hymn ascended to heaven, Daniyan took a deep breath and casually unbuttoned his trendy jacket. His placid mien concealed the raging storm within. Another battle like last night's was out of the question. Killing a priest who gave you your first holy communion, even for a lapsed Catholic, was the ultimate test.
''Hold the fort for I am coming; Jesus signals still...'' The chorus of the entrance hymn throbbed as the ministers of the altar filed in, the roly-poly priest at the rear. The man looked so harmless that Daniyan knew he was in trouble. He steeled himself.
The hymn ceased as Father John paused at the altar. He reached for the microphone. ''In the name of the...''
''Father! Father!'' Daniyan's voice rang out in the now silent church.
Everyone was taken aback as Daniyan rushed towards the altar guardrail. The words died in Father John's throat. Daniyan's voice shook with intensity: ''Father, you are going to be killed!''
The spirit of confusion instantly possessed the congregation. Only a resounding ''Quiet!'' that boomed out of Father John and which carried over the microphone moderated the tense situation.
By now, Daniyan Kalo had already sprinted over the rail.''I am one of the killers...''
The explosion outside rivalled the boom of God's avenging thunder. Another explosion followed and a man ran straight for the altar, a terrifying automatic gun in his hands. Daniyan had already gone into war mode as soon as the first grenade detonated.
''Down!'' he screamed, his pistol in his hand. Father John went flat under the altar, mouthing fear accented Hail Marys. A gun man’s weapon was trained on the priest. His colleague fired at Daniyan.
Daniyan Kalo had barely made it to a safe place behind the pulpit when something rammed into his side. It was a pistol. He fired desperately as he felt his warm blood spread. The shot tore into the first assassin's skull. His partner watched him go down but it was already too late for him to stop. As he swung his gun at the now bullet riddled pulpit, Daniyan shot him in the face.
The church had become a house of death.
Father John crawled out from his hiding place. He crawled towards Daniyan who was crouched by the pulpit. ''My son, you need a doctor.''
Daniyan smiled, watching the blood spurting from his side as if it was not his.''I wish I did,'' Daniyan said. His head buckled . He was gone.
The priest closed the unseeing eyes and cried like a child.