Man In Black Episode 17

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“This is Lagos Island Police Department. What is your emergency?” Tobi heard her say just as he came out of the aisle and headed left for the stairs, in the opposite direction as the entrance.

“Detective!” came a sharp whisper from behind him just as he put his foot on the first step. Tobi frowned and turned around. There, at the entrance to the aisle he had just come out of was an officer, one of those who worked in those cubicles, beckoning him to come. Tobi walked back.

“What is it?” he said, then froze as he remembered that it might be the Chief calling him. But the guy led him right past the Chief who was just then emerging from the aisle himself with his mug in his hand. Tobi walked behind him into the aisle, and then the guy led him. . .into the telephone operator’s cubicle. Tobi looked at her and the phone at her ear, then at the guy who had brought him there. “I said what is it?” he asked again. 

The guy shrugged and walked back, presumably to his own office, while the telephone operator pointed to the phone at her ear with her left hand, then paused and listened for a bit. Then she took the reciever down from her ear and covered the mouthpiece with her palm. She pointed at the wall of her cubicle. Tobi, still wondering what on earth he had been called here for, followed her finger and saw another telephone hung there.

“You might want to hear this, sir,” she said in scarcely more than a whisper. “Line five.” 

Tobi hissed and walked to the landline. He dialled number five on the keypad and took down the receiver, then held it to his ear.

It was an emergency call, so someone was talking on the other end. Only that the voice of that person was something the kind of which Tobi had never heard before. The voice sounded electronic, mechanized, not like anything a human being would have. The voice brought to his mind memories of a robot. Yes, if a robot had picked up a phone and dialled the emergency number, this was exactly what it would sound like.

“Why are you mute, young lady? Does my voice scare you?” the voice asked sarcastically. Even though the voice sounded electronic, at least Tobi could tell it was male. “Well, if you won’t speak, may I speak with Detective Tobi Akano?” the person asked. 

The detective paused. How on earth had whoever this person was gotten his name? Tobi looked questioningly at the operator, who shrugged. She looked a little afraid, as if she didn’t understand what was going on herself. Tobi motioned for her to keep silent.

“Detective Tobi Akano speaking, Lagos Island Police Department Homicide Division. Who is this?”

“Detective!” the man said genially. “Who am I? Why, I am a friend. You have only known me for a week, but I’m sure you know what I’ve done. Detective, have you been wondering who killed Mrs Durojaiye Felicia? As a friend, let me save you the trouble. You are talking to him. What is my name? Well, you may call me the Eel.“

At those last two words, “the Eel”, the voice changed from electronic to one unnaturally deep with an equally unnatural reverb, as if it was the voice of God.

The killer. The killer! Yes, this might just be a prank call, but still. . . Tobi walked out of the cubicle. Or at least he tried to, but the telephone was a corded one, and the cord snapped taut before he had even taken two steps, holding him in place and swinging the entire telephone on the wall to the right.

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Tobi turned around, hoping against hope that he hadn’t cut the cable, but he saw that it was still attached. Without hesitation, he grabbed it off the wall and ran, telephone in one hand and reciever in the other, out the cubicle and toward Homicide unit. 

Cole was inside, still seated at the chair in front of his computer, but Tobi had to knock on the glass to get his attention. Tobi motioned for him to start a trace on the call immediately. Cole nodded and turned back to his computer, fingers flying across the keyboard.

Outside the glass wall was a coffee table on top of which was the pot of coffee which the Chief had come to take from. Tobi stood just in front of that table. Chief Rikau stared at him, frowning as he poured his coffee.

“Who is this? And why is your voice sounding like this?” Part of his reason for asking was because he wanted to keep the caller talking long enough for Cole to get his location, but also because he couldn’t help but wonder why it sounded like he was recieving a prank call from a robot.

“This is a voice scrambler, detective, I’m sure you know that.” Tobi honestly did not. “And I thought we have already been introduced. I am the Eel.” There it was again. That thing with the voice and those two words. “Since we are already such good friends, I want to let you know that I will be sending your Minister of Defense to the afterlife on the twenty-third. I mean, if he cannot defend his own country, he ought not to live, right?”

He laughed a sardonic laugh, made all the more ominous by his electronic-tinged voice.

“And if you think this little courtesy means you have a shot at stopping me, please think again, detective. And let me save you the trouble of tracking this call. I am calling you from your Chief’s office. Goodbye, for now.” 

The line went dead.

Inside Homicide unit, Cole turned around from his computer and shook his head. No trace.

The detective was silent for five seconds as the import of the caller’s last sentence settled in.

Then, as if relieved from paralysis, Detective Akano let the telephone and receiver drop to the coffee table, then turned and ran straight for the Chief’s office, already drawing out his gun.

Tbc