Chapter 8 of Silent Vector

Chapter 8, in which a gruesome discovery is greeted with satisfaction

CHAPTER 8

THE DOCTOR IS OUT

A small crowd gathers by the roadside waiting for the local constabulary to respond. The slayings are the first in the area since the state of emergency was lifted more than 18 months ago, in December of 1960.

As the crowd builds, those in back have to strain to get a glimpse. What they see is a brutal reminder of the country’s recent and terrifying past: two disemboweled white bodies, faces mutilated to hinder identification. Next to the bodies, left behind as calling cards, are the assassins’ grisly instruments: four pangas, the soft iron machetes favored by the Mau Mau.

A man in his late 30s pushes a wheelchair along the road. In the wheelchair is his beautiful seventeen-year-old daughter whose withered legs dangle uselessly beneath her pleated skirt. The crowd goes silent and parts as the two, father and daughter, approach the roadside ditch. He stops the chair as they peer down at the bodies. Tears run down the young woman’s face. The father steps to the edge of the ditch and spits on the bodies. He returns to grab the handles of the wheelchair, backs away from the ditch, and returns to the road, slowly making his way home.

“The doctors,” a man offers.

“They were butchers, not doctors,” is a woman’s retort.

The siren of an approaching patrol car from Voi fills the air. The crowd stands aside as the siren goes silent and the car comes to a stop just short of the ditch. A tall, angular policeman gets out from behind the wheel, calmly dons his hat, and closes the patrol car door. He walks over to the ditch, squats at the edge, and stares for no more than ten seconds. He stands and addresses the small crowd.

“Who found them?”

A boy no more than ten years old steps forward.

“I did.”

The officer goes to the boy, puts his arm around his shoulder and leads him away from the crowd.

“Did you or anyone touch anything after you found them?”

“No, sir. Not a thing. They were just like that.”

“Okay, then. Off you go.”

The boy hustles back to the crowd. The officer walks to his patrol car, reaches inside the open passenger window, and pulls a push-to-talk mic out of its cradle. He pauses for a second before calling it in. The crowd listens in as the officer reports to the dispatcher.

“No. No need for an ambulance. I’m quite certain the coroner will do. Out.”

He places the mic back in its cradle and leans against his patrol car to wait. The crowd slowly disperses. Some smile, some shake hands, and a few wave to their neighbors, all of which tells the officer what he already knew. The bodies in the ditch are no harbinger. Instead, they mark the end of a nightmare that none, even the most hardened among them, would have imagined.