Jemimah had two months left to complete her youth service and was determined to make the best use of the time she had left. Every evening, dressed in her corper uniform, armed with her camera, she goes on long walks, taking pictures of anything and everything. Her khaki made it easy for her to access places as corpers were pretty much fancied by the people of the community. It was a sparsely populated area with more farms than people but it had so much beauty to offer.
That evening, she was coming back from one of her walks when she suddenly felt the urge to pee. She tried as much as possible to hold it in but had to run into the bush when she couldn’t hold it any longer. After relieving herself, she decided to walk a little bit further into the bush for curiosity sake.
She had walked about twenty meters when she began to hear faint voices. Against better judgment, she decided to follow the direction of the voices. Every nerve in her body told her it was time for her to turn back but she went on her knees and inched closer. She finally saw a group of boys through the bushes.
About six of them were standing with their faces towards her direction while two were on their knees with their backs turned to her. The two boys were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs. With their looks and body language, she suspected they were cultists and smiled as she felt she had stumbled on an initiation ceremony.
She brought out her camera and started taking pictures silently praying they wouldn’t hear the shutter sound. She was taking a look at the few shots she had taken when two shots suddenly rang out. She fell backwards and looked up to see the two boys now on the ground with gunshot wounds to the head. With shaking hands she took one last picture, returned the camera to her bag and began to crawl away as quietly as she could. When she got to a safe distance, she got up and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. Luckily for her, she saw a bike man as she stumbled out of the bush and asked him to fly if he could.
She got to her room panting and sat on the floor with her back against the door. She brought out her camera and began to go through the pictures, her hands shaking horribly when she got to the last image. She switched it off and reached into her bag for the lens cover. When she couldn’t find it, she emptied the contents of her bag on the floor and searched every pocket on her over and over again. She started to panic when she realized she may have dropped it in the bush.
She began to pace her room, knowing if they found the lens cover; it was only a matter of time before they would find her too. Everyone in that community knew her as the “Camera Lady”. She broke down in tears when she realized there was no escaping this one. Leaving town wasn’t an option as it was already getting dark and they probably had their other members stationed at the exits already. Asking the neighbors for help would be of no use as there was nothing they could probably do for her. Everyone feared cultists and knew better than to meddle in their affairs. She picked up her phone, sent a text message, and removed the memory card from the camera. Then she switched off the light in her room and waited.
She had waited for what seemed like forever when they came. She knew it was them as she could hear them ask one of her neighbors for “the one with the camera”. It wasn’t unusual for her to receive visitors so they pointed out her room to them. She jolted when they knocked but stayed quiet. She heard her neighbor urge them to knock louder as he had just seen her come in not too long ago. She shut her eyes in frustration. They knocked louder and she silently prayed they would go away, thinking she’s not home. Then the unthinkable happened.
Her phone rang.
One of the boys approached her window and said “We know you are in there. Open the door or we will burn down this compound with everyone in it.”
At this point, she knew her game was up. She wiped her tears away, put on the light and opened the door. She felt herself thrown backwards as one of them pushed the door with force. Three of them walked in while one was stationed outside. Two stood by the door while the one who seemed to be their leader backed her into the wall.
“Trying to hide? You know why we are here, don’t you?” he said.
She shook her head vigorously, trying to hide her fear. He looked around and saw her camera on the bed. He walked to the bed and picked it up.
“Lovely camera you have here.” He paused. “Looks like it is missing something.”
She could feel her heart thumping against her rib cage. He pulled out the lens cover from his back pocket and fixed it over the lens. Then he turned to her.
“There. It seems you lost this.”
She stammered and replied, “It’s not mine.”
He walked towards her and leaned in so close she could feel his breath.
“So, where is yours?” he asked smiling.
“I lost it a while ago.” she stammered.
“Of course.” He looked at the two other boys who laughed and turned right back to hit her across the face. “Do you think we are stupid? Exactly how many people in this community own one of these? I remember they were all pointing to one person. You! You better don’t mess with us.” he said, getting visibly angry.
She held her burning cheek as she watched him power the camera and go through the images.
“Where are they?” he asked.
“What?” she replied in a chocked voice.
“Still playing dumb? Where are the pictures? I know you took some.” he asked, raising his voice.
“Those are all the pictures I have.”
She didn’t know when tears began to drop from her eyes.
“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet. Put it on.” he said, pointing to her laptop.
Like a sheep to the slaughter, she walked over to the bed and began to boot her system. When it had come on finally he called to one of the boys.
“Wipe the system.”
She went on her knees and began to plead. “Please! Please! I swear there are no pictures. Please don’t wipe my system. I have so many important files—”
He pulled out a gun. “More important than your life?”
She fell backwards and cringed.
“Wipe it.” he said to the boy. “The phones and camera too.” He turned to the other boy. “Search the room in case she has backup.”
She watched as they turned her room and life upside down. She was on the verge of tears when she realized she might be dead before the night ran out and there was no use wasting her tears. She couldn’t take her eyes off the gun, waiting for the moment her world would go black.
He noticed her and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t be using this. I am going to teach you a lesson though.” He waited for the boys to finish their tasks. “You know what guys, we should keep these. They would fetch good money.” He handed over the laptop, phones and camera to them. He turned to her. “Get up.” He grabbed her by the chin. “Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” He traced the tear marks on her face. “About that lesson—”
* * *
She woke up feeling numb all over. It took time for her to adjust and realize the distant thump she was hearing was actually someone knocking on her door. She got up and doubled over in pain. There was a terrible ache all over her body. She didn’t remember much from when the boys had left and wondered how her door got locked. She stumbled towards the door and opened to see her fiancé pacing frantically. She looked over his shoulder to see the neighbors had already gathered in the middle of the compound. He noticed her and drew her in for a hug.
“Oh, Jemimah. Thank God you are alive. You had me worried. I got your text message and then your numbers were not going through—” he stopped when he realized she had gone limp.
* * *
The smell hit her nose right before she opened her eyes. She could tell she was in a hospital. She made out the faces of two nurses and a doctor. She felt someone hold her hand and turned to see her fiancé.
“Hey Steve.” She smiled weakly and tried to sit up.
“Not so fast.” the Doctor said.
She could see a drip connected to her arm.
“What happened?” she asked her voice raspy.
“You passed out.” Steve said.
“We were hoping you could tell us.” the Doctor said at the same time.
* * *
She was allowed to recuperate for a couple more days before the police were invited to question her. Steve was determined to get those boys arrested. Two officers; a male and female were ushered in. They both sat while Steve stood on the other side of the bed.
“How are you feeling now miss?” the female officer asked.
“Much better, thank you.”
“That’s good. I hear you are fine enough to answer some questions.” Jemimah nods. The officer brings out her pen and jotter. “So, can you tell us exactly what happened without leaving any detail?”
She began to narrate her story from when she went into the bush up till when they beat her up.
“Can you remember what they looked like?” the male officer asked.
“Could you describe them for us, please?”
“I’d rather show you. I have pictorial evidence.”
He looked at his colleague. “Oh, that’s great. That would speed up our investigation. When can we have it?”
“Soon. It’s in a …safe place.”
“Alright then. We would come for it whenever you are ready to show us. Thanks for your time.” They both stood and leave.
He stood up in anger. “Those bastards must pay.”
“At least I am alive.” she said with tears running down her face .
He sat and let out a deep breathe. “You are right. I am just glad you are safe. I was really worried. I thought it was one of your usual pranks not until your numbers stopped going.”
She smiled and wiped her tears away.
“Wait, didn’t you say they wiped everything? Then where did you hide these pictures?”
“You read the text didn’t you?”
He jumped up and covered his mouth.
“You mean,…you really did that?” he stammered.
She nodded and he rushed to her side. He hugged her and they both began to cry. “I am sooo sorry you had to go through all that alone.” There was a moment of silence. “Do you think if you had died, I would allow someone to tamper with your body all in the name of evidence?”
“I had to. I figured if I was going to die, I wasn’t going to go down alone.” she said, sniffing.
* * *
She put on her dress and followed the doctor to his office, along with Steve. They both sit.
“So, you said you inserted the memory card up your…” he motioned “your…vagina.”
“Well, the xray showed it has moved further up your uterus. We can’t possibly explain how it got there.”
She grabbed Steve’s hand under the table.
“So, how do we get it out?” Steve asked.
* * *
The memory card was safely retrieved and the images forwarded to the police. The boys were apprehended alongside other members they gave up. Turned out they were students from a school in the neighboring town. They had come into the village to kill members of a rival faction with the hopes of not leaving any trace. Jemimah returned home with Steve never to return as he had had all her belongings sent ahead of them.
A month later, Steve went along with her to test run her new camera and watched as she took pictures around the park.
“You can never stop, can you?” he asked.
She turned and smiled. “I live to shoot. And I shoot to kill.”