Man In Black Episode 19


Belinda covered the bottle and set it down on the floor. Then she took her long black hair in both hands behind her and began tying it into a bun. Even while Belinda herself was tired, with sweat beading on her milk-white forehead, the girl still managed to look exotic. Once again, Chuks had to admire his friend’s taste— or longthroat, whichever it was —in girls. Not that Belinda wasn’t the kind of girl you liked on sight, but she was the sort that just seemed so posh, so clean, so out of reach that you would stop and look yourself up and down before you even approached her.

Chuks leaned in to Segun. “Your bae even finish before you, self. That girl dey try.”

A sharp, shrill whistle sounded, pulling everyone’s attention. They saw Instructor Max, marching up and down the sitting area, blue whistle in his mouth, with the microphone from his headphones beyond it, at his mouth. Chuks looked beyond him, at the training area where all the remaining students had been. Only two people were there, their weapons on the floor, the last to finish, while everyone else were seated.

Chuks had been hearing the buzzer sounding again and again, like background music, but he hadn’t really registered it. Now the rest were—

The field instructor blew his whistle again, a sharp, impatient note. Like robots, they all scrambled from their seats and ran to their positions. Chuks was fourth from the left. He moved his headphones from his neck to his head, patted them properly over his ears and, like everyone else to his left and right, and bent to pick up his AK-47 from the floor.

That whistle meant that all the rest had hit their marks. The very last people to finish wouldn’t get any time at all to rest, which was something Chuks didn’t even want to imagine, but he didn’t have time right now to pity those ones.

Right now was time for work.

“Move target to twenty metres,” came Instructor Max’s voice from his headphones. “All take aim.”

Chuks sighted down his rifle at the target, waiting. After a small pause, the paper drew back, further back than the fifteen metres he had hit before. He had seen Instructor Maryanne Okolo, their class instructor behind the sitting area, working the controls for those targets.

There was something on the barrel of the AK-47, close to where the bullet came out of that stood straight up, vertical where the barrel was horizontal. Their field instructor had called it a “muzzle brake”— Chuks had no idea what that meant —and said it was also an “iron sight”, that they had to use it to aim where they wanted to fire their rifles at. 

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Chuks squinted through that iron whatever it was, looking straight at the speck of white twenty metres down the training area and wondering how long it would take him to hit it.

“Hey, you, why are you taking aim like that?” the instructor queried. It wasn’t until he held the rifle from behind him that Chukwudi realized Instructor Max was talking to him. “Here, stand up straighter. . . And then raise your gun, point it direct at the target. . .alright. Now, fire!”

Chuks pulled the trigger. Almost simultaneously, he heard the buzzer in his ears. Anyone not wearing headphones would hear a buzzer whenever anybody got a hit, but the buzzer only came through the headphones of whoever had hit a target. And he had just heard it.

Chuks had hit the bulls-eye. 

Everyone else turned and looked at him.


Chuks, marveling at his luck, kept as still as he could and pulled the trigger again. And there it was again. The buzzer. Chuks had taken only two shots, and both of them were bull-eye. 

The instructor told him he could go and sit. Chuks set his gun down and more or less sauntered over to the sitting area. He was bouncing, even though nobody could see him, but he couldn’t help it. How many people could boast of being able to take two bulls-eye shots in a row with an AK-47, even in Star Ranges? Certainly not many.

From his seat, Chuks watched Instructor Max walk up and down the training area behind the students, watching each person. Everybody seemed to be doing one thing in particular. They stood with their legs wider apart than normal, and instead of holding the whole rifle in their hands, they were keeping the butts of their rifles on their shoulders. Those who hadn’t done so looked at those beside them and quickly did the same.

It took a moment for it to click, but then it did. This was the same stance Instructor Max had put him in before he took those two shots. Everyone else was copying him.

Chuks began to shake his head just as the field instructor said, “Again. Fire!”

As the shots rang out, the buzzers began.