Bullets


Kunle blinked hard as the sun's rays struck his eyes, causing them to water. He glanced at the soldiers lined up before him, their guns pointed at him. His wrists chafed where the ropes bound him to the stake. At the age of 22, he had been sentenced to death by firing squad. His was a case of mistaken identity but no one cared to listen to anyone. As the priest walked away from him, he knew his fate was sealed. Silently, he laid a curse on anyone who was involved in the case.

The Commanding officer, Captain Musa, spat on the ground while the priest walked away from the criminal.

 “Bloody civilians”, he hissed, “instead of them to join the military, they will be stealing and killing people.”

He threw the stub of his cigar to the ground and signalled his men, crushing the red-tipped cigar with his boot.

As the soldiers sunk to their knees and steadied their weapons, they kept their faces passive. None of them betrayed any emotions. None of them broke a sweat. They were used to the routine and the piteous look on Kunle's face meant nothing to them. One after the other, they raised their rifles to shoulder level and kept their sights trained on him.

Captain Musa stood with his legs slightly spread about. “Ready, boys”, he bellowed. “Prepare to fire!”

The soldiers responded by cocking their weapons.

“Hold steady!”

They had their forefingers caressing the triggers of their rifles.

The sound of the guns told Kunle everything. He maintained an upright position and closed his eyes. At his request, the soldiers had prevented anyone, apart from the priest, from entering the grounds. He was ready for the barrage of bullets. As Captain Musa made to signal the beginning of the shooting, his aide rushed to him with his phone.

*************************************************

Inside the black car that raced towards the execution ground, Barrister Odion Ikhide grinned and pressed his phone to his ear. He had gotten a court order to free his client, Kunle. The original killer had been accosted and the man now facing certain death  was free to go. The barrister smiled at the thought of boosting his résumé with this achievement. A husky voice, with a Hausa accent, spoke at the other end of the phone.

“Yes, this is Captain Musa. How may I help you?”
The barrister smiled.

“Captain, this is Barrister Odion Ikhide. I have a court order in my hands stopping you from going on with the execution of my client. He has been vindicated, sir. I am on my way to the grounds. Thank you very much.”

 He smiled, twirled his thick moustache and ended the call.

*************************************************

Captain Musa grunted and frowned as the line went dead. He scowled and he glanced at the prey who was about to escape. The soldiers had their fingers on the trigger, waiting for the Captain's order.

Kunle opened his eyes and saw the Captain walking towards his boys. Something seemed wrong.

The priest came out of the military vehicle and folded his arms across his chest.

Captain Musa broke the news to his boys and they began to stand up. Unfortunately, one of them had slipped his rifle into automatic mode. As he turned to look at his Captain, his finger pressed the trigger and the bullets burst out in rapid succession.

The Captain turned abruptly at the sound of the gunfire. He looked mad as he realized what just happened.

Kunle made no sound. The bullets tore into his chest and as the sound of gunfire stopped, his head rolled limply to the side.

At that moment, the black car pulled up at the grounds. Barrister Ikhide jumped out of the car and began to run towards the soldiers. He stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the bullet holes in Kunle's chest. He turned to the Captain for an explanation. There was none.

At that moment, an innocent cloud blotted out the sun’s rays. Even the skies knew something had gone wrong. The first fly perched on Kunle's body as his letter of freedom arrived just at the time of his death.

Respite came late. Death, too early.

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