SHORT STORY: Stop! Or I will open fire...

Tuesday May 24 2022

The man Jerica was after slid on something and went sprawling onto all fours on the muddy ground, crying out in fear and dismay as he did, then scrambling onto his back as Jerica rounded on him. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA


The street was narrow, lit up by one flickering streetlight that was threatening to go out. Jerica watched as two shadows flitted down the street, turning left at the end, and without hesitation, she dove into the narrow way after them.

“Hey J!” it was one of her colleagues, “Wait for back-up J!” there was real fear in his voice, “Jerica stop!”

But she could have laughed as she streaked down the street, nothing but a heady mix of alcohol and adrenaline flowing through her. Her gun was already drawn and ready, her finger twitching with pent up tension as it straddled the trigger.

Jerica was squat, her short limbs a series of bunched muscles, her legs, though probably half the length of the men she was pursuing, pumping twice as fast.

Rounding the corner into the second pitch black alley that dropped off into a slum, she dropped to her knee, skidding to a perfect stop, raising her gun and instinctively firing, grinning when she heard the grunt of a man and a thud as he fell.

Then she was up and running, seamlessly picking up speed, passing the groaning figure of the man she’d shot writhing on the trash covered ground, in close pursuit of his comrade who ducked to the right, into a shadow up ahead.


The injured man would be found by her colleagues when they found their courage in numbers and ventured into the slum after her.

She, however, had her eye on a promotion and she was going to get it; from corporal to sergeant.

So as Jerica whipped right into yet another alley, the figure of a man stumbling from fatigue up ahead made her bare her teeth in a mouthy grin that was terrifying.

There were no streetlights here. Nothing to light the night except for the thinnest sliver of a moon and countless stars set into an inky sky.

The man Jerica was after slid on something and went sprawling onto all fours on the muddy ground, crying out in fear and dismay as he did, then scrambling onto his back as Jerica rounded on him.

“Please!” he held his hands up as her gun waved dangerously close to his upturned face and she gave him a vicious kick in the ribs, “We just sell the scrap metal, we don’t…”

“Shut!” Jerica kicked him hard again, knocking the wind out of him, “Up!” she yelled, lifting her pistol hand up high and bringing it down hard on the side of his face, “Did I ask you a question?”

The man wailed, cowering behind his hands as Jerica, eyes wild and bloodshot, delighted at her catch, advanced on him.

“What’s happening?” a window opened and a middle aged woman with a round face topped with soft fuzzy greying hair poked her broad nose out, “Oh!” she exclaimed, “Don’t shoot officer!” her high pitched voice carried in the still night, “I know him, he’s not a bad…”

“You’re the fruit seller on Ring Street, no?” Jerica hissed, her gun still trained on the young man lying in front of her, “You always have a little girl with you,” her red eyes glinted even in the darkness and she squinted them slyly, “Mind your own business, or your daughter will be next,” she whispered hoarsely.

The ramshackle shanties that bordered the alley Jerica was in were starting to stir. All around her were the sounds of whispers and the subtle screeching of metal as ears were pressed to rusty corrugated sheets, the dominant construction material here. But Jerica had patrolled these narrow, densely built up streets so long, she wasn’t afraid, it was the other way around.

No one came out to challenge her, nor dared peep for fear of being seen. And so it was with complete impunity that as the wail of police sirens floated gently in the air at first, then in a wild cacophony as her back-up came squeezing down tapering, straightened streets, Jerica bent down and tucked a fat sachet of white powder into the pocket of the man lying at her feet.

“I’m sure he’s one of the drug dealers we were looking for,” she said breathlessly as her colleagues came running into the alley behind her, now lit up by flashing red and blue lights.

“No!” the young man begun to scream, “You’re the one…”

But he didn’t get any further as Jerica punched him square in the jaw, yelling in his face, “You speak when spoken to, get it?!” then pulling the disoriented man to his feet, she dropped her voice until it was inaudible except to him, “I know where your mother lives, shut your mouth or I’ll pay her a visit.”

The sun was coming up and Jerica arched her back as she pulled into the driveway of her home.

She’d been personally congratulated by the captain, the twinkle in his eye denoting she was in the running for the promotion.

“Mum!” only a year or two younger than the man she’d just arrested, Jerica’s son came bounding up to her, “I’m late for class, can I borrow the car?”

Jerica ruffled his hair and dropped her keys into his outstretched palm, her demeanour that of a completely different woman.