Sergeant Kiplagat sat in the deserted police post, everything was peaceful, boring even, but he didn't resent the inactivity, he was a burn
out, a shell of his former self, and his former life haunted him.
He had been born forty nine years earlier in the Kalenjin heartland of Nandi, and his early dreams had been for a future in athletics,
Morgan was born to run, it was in his blood, it was the heritage of his tribe, yet early injury had dashed his hopes, in a country that
could boast arguably the finest distance runners in the world there wasn’t room for any weak link, there was too much competition and the
lingering pain of constantly irritated ligaments ruled out any future for him in athletics.
At a loss he had considered his options and saw his future in either the army or the police force, he welcomed the rigorous training, the
regime of discipline and eventually was accepted into the Kenyan Police Service.
Morgan Kiplagat found himself transferred to Marsabit, an eastern frontier town on the border with lawless Somalia. He found himself in a
land of insurgents, bandits and cattle rustlers, a dry and desolate region of devastating shortages, shortages of water, of food and of
grazing. The neighbouring tribes were constantly skirmishing with spears and arrows, fighting for grazing to feed their cattle and goats, at
times they would mount impromptu raids and slaughter their neighbours to steal livestock, within weeks and the act would be visited on
themselves by aggrieved relatives... and Morgan was always called to stand between the warring factions, he was impartial, he had no tribal
roots in the area, he didn't take sides.
That part of the job he could handle, he was after all being paid to uphold the law and maintain the peace, in a country with a such a
diverse tribal mix there would always be tensions, but it was not tribalism that finally drove him to breaking point, it was the
His problems began with the grenade that left him in a government hospital for weeks. He had been enjoying the coverage of a live football
game in a local bar as the crude device had been thrown through an open window, he caught sight of the perpetrators escaping on a motorcycle
a split second before he felt the shrapnel tear through his leg and lower abdomen.
Morgan also lost the sight in his left eye during the attack, but it wasn’t the physical scars that left the deepest mark, it was the mental
trauma that haunted him. Even months after his return to active duty he would flinch at the sound of an approaching motorcycle, his finger
would automatically twitch for the trigger of the semi automatic rifle that was his constant companion, terrorists haunted his dreams, the
explosion, the flames and the noise relived in every graphic detail, those less fortunate than himself, wrecks of people, shredded bodies,
the stench of blood and death, night after night he woke drenched with sweat.
Being a realistic man he applied for a transfer, his memories of Marsabit were still too raw, too painful, he was living on the very edge of
insanity, in his tortured mind he had done his duty, he had bled for his country and with the landmark of fifty years of existence looming
he craved a quieter life.
And so it was that he ended up in the provincial backwater named Munjiti, for many it would have signalled the end of their road, for Morgan
it equalled safety and the ability to sleep through the night without images of grenades filling his nightmares.
He glanced up as a distraught woman knocked heavily on the locked door, she was framed against the window and illuminated by the dim bulb
that hung above her head, he saw that despite the tears she was very pretty.
"One minute," he called out as he slipped the key into the lock and opened the heavy door to allow her entry.
"What is the problem?" he asked as he saw her deep dark eyes darting around the small blue and yellow painted room, she had the look of a
hunted animal on her face. Her tale came out in a jumble of sobs and incoherent gabbling.
"Hey, slow down," he ordered, she stopped instantly and gazed at him with suspicion, he was brusque, yet she sensed an unusual level of
understanding in the strong voice, he was authoritative yet not dismissive.
"My daughter is missing." she replied in a slow and controlled voice.
"Have you looked for her?" he asked.
"Oh course I have," she groaned, why would she use the last resort if she hadn’t exhausted every other possibility?
"And you have checked with her friends... relations?"
"She has no friends, and no other family but me."
"OK, when was the last time that you saw her?" he asked.
"This morning when she left for school, but I’ve checked with the caretaker there, she was in school and he saw her leave."
Morgan studied the woman and asked the usual routine questions, he was new to the area yet he thought he knew most of the population by
sight if not by name, yet he had never seen her before.
"And where is home?" he asked more out of curiosity.
Maragoli explained but quickly pointed out she had been back several times and there had been no trace of Anita.
“I will need a description of your daughter," he announced, "Or a photograph if you have one."
Margolis jaw dropped in disbelief, was he joking?
“I knew it was a waste of time coming here," she snapped and turned to leave, yet he had a look of genuine ignorance to the facts on his
scarred face which made her pause.
"Are you telling me you honestly don't know who my daughter is?" she asked suspiciously.
"You might not know this, but I'm new here," he gave a small smile, “I'm still putting names to faces."
"Anita is albino," sighed Maragoli as she accepted that any assistance he was prepared to offer was about to be stillborn.
To her surprise he grinned, "Yes, I know her, I’ve seen her around... a pretty little girl."
Tears rolled down Margolis cheeks, how could he be so cruel, how could he be so hurtful, why didn't he just tell her to leave, tell her he
wouldn’t waste his valuable time on a freak.
"So you are sure that she isn’t with friends somewhere, we all know what kids are like, they have no sense of time, always into some
"Are you for real?" she questioned in shock, had she misjudged the man?
“I am an officer of the law," he answered seriously, “It is my duty to assist in any way I can."
“I don't have any money." Maragoli shuffled nervously and studied his highly polished black boots, anything was better than to look in his
eye as he casually dismissed her.
"You have me confused with someone else," he replied the shortness in his voice pronounced, "Now, give me all the facts you have... you say
she was last seen at school?" Maragoli nodded, "And where is that?"
"Khumusalaba." she replied quietly.
"Then we can presume that she must be somewhere between here and there," he nodded and picked up the keys to the dark blue 4x4 that sat
outside, and the keys to the office, "Let’s take a ride there and see what we can see."
"You’re going to help me?" she asked in disbelief.
"Of course I am," he gave her a small smile, “It's my job, and I would like to bet we find her within the hour."
An unreasonable and unexpected elation filled Margolis heart as she stared at the first person she had ever met who was prepared to help her
“I don't know what to say." she whispered.
"Then don't say anything." he gave her a smile and the effort pulled on the scar tissue that ran across his cheek and up to his ruined
He must have been a handsome man once, she admitted as his expression was pulled out of shape, But I still think he’s wonderful, even if he
is so damaged.
Two hours later Margoli's elation had faded and reality began to creep back, they had searched in vain along the cross country path using
his high power lantern, they had been around the small village of Khumusalaba, and he had spent many anxious minutes talking privately with
the duty officer there, his expression was grin as he returned to the vehicle.
"You know something." she cried as he turned the ignition key, he was avoiding eye contact, his demeanour had changed, he appeared almost
“I don't know anything for sure." he shook his head and shifted into drive.
"But you suspect something?" her anguish surfaced as tears flowed again.
Almost imperceptibly he nodded and sighed, "Yes, I'm afraid I do suspect."
She saw his shoulders slump and he shifted back into park before wrenching up the hand brake.
“I have learned something very disturbing," he nodded before clearing his throat, "There have been several disappearances over the past week
or so, all children, all reasonably local, I think your daughter may have been taken by the same people."
Maragoli covered her mouth and gasped, her eyes wide with fear.
“I really don't know," he admitted quietly, "But it is too much of a coincidence." he turned to her and hoped his face was still capable of
"But I can promise you this, I will investigate, I will do everything in my power to bring your child home safe and sound... I promise." he
whispered almost to himself.
The news that he had just learned sickened him to his stomach but he certainly wasn’t going to share the dreadful details with the mother
just yet, he needed facts, he needed to investigate, he needed a solid lead.
Sergeant Kiplagat got his solid lead the following evening, but he was saddened more than he could imagine possible when the true facts were
brutally revealed to him.
Maragoli had spent the day desperately searching, she ignored the fake displays of sympathy that she suffered all along the route to
Khumusalaba, the women expressed how sorry they were but fished for information, they longed for juicy gossip to share as they huddled
together and idled away the hours basking in the misfortune of others.
Doggedly she hunted through the bush but began to accept deep inside that she was satisfying her own curiosity, she knew that what Officer
Kiplagat had told her was most likely the fact, yet she knew she couldn’t rest until she had searched every inch of the route to school.
Demoralised and defeated she had collapsed on her mattress and craved the closeness of the small body who had snuggled up to her every night
for as long as she cared to remember, her search had been fruitless and as tears filled her eyes she tried to accept that her child was
gone... gone forever.
"Maragoli?" she jumped as she heard an insistent scratching at her door and a low furtive whisper, "Maragoli, are you there?"
"Enid?" she replied as she placed the voice, "What’s wrong?"
“I have to talk to you," the voice whispered with urgency, “I know what’s happened to your child."
Frantically Maragoli tore the door open and dragged the trembling girl inside, quickly she lit a candle and saw the tears that streamed down
"Tell me what you know." she hissed.
Enid sank to the floor as the sobs wracked her body, “I'm so sorry Maragoli... I truly am sorry."
“Don’t apologise, just tell me." she cried frantically and shook Enid’s shoulders.
“It was Moses, and the sub-chief," Enid glanced over her shoulder nervously, her body trembled, "They sold her to some guy from
Maragoli stared in stunned silence as she tried to comprehend.
“I heard them discussing it, I thought it was just the usual rubbish they discuss..." she trailed off and cast her eyes to the floor, “I'm
so sorry Maragoli, I didn't think they were serious."
Maragoli didn't know if she should attack the girl for withholding the information, her mind was screaming for retribution, but as the mist
cleared she knew exactly what she had to do, and grabbing her cooking knife she plunged into the darkness leaving Enid trembling and
wondering why she had brought so many problems upon herself.
She steadied herself as she approached the small house Moses had built for himself behind the bottle store, she had become calculating,
almost composed, she had to find a way to get inside, a way to get to him, a way that he wouldn’t guess her true intentions.
Swallowing hard she knocked gently on the door, he was a light sleeper and always on guard to protect his precious stock.
"Who is it?" she heard him call from behind the heavy metal door.
"Nafula." she replied and heard him scuffling inside.
"What do you want... it's late?"
“I'm still your wife," she whispered through the door, "Or don't you want me anymore."
She pictured the grin on his face, he had always told her that she would come crawling back to him if his disgrace was no longer in the
picture, only then would he accept her advances.
She was correct, as he listened to her words he pulled on his trousers and with a wide smile opened the door.
Fury spoilt her aim as the knife sunk to the hilt in his arm, she had been intending to stab him in the chest, not the heart, that would be
too quick, she wanted to puncture his lung, she wanted to watch him suffocate to death as she learned what had become of her daughter, she
wanted the whole story, she was willing to torture him until he revealed the whole plan, and she was anticipating his torture with relish,
but rage defeated her as he twisted aside taking the blade deep, she had hurt him, but she hadn’t killed him.
Stunned by the surprise attack he stared at the wooden handle that stood embedded in his flesh, his mouth open and eyes wide.
"Bitch!" he hissed and grabbed Maragoli by the throat, she had also been stunned by her attack, true it had been her intention but actually
committing the act had shocked her.
"Where is my daughter?" she gasped as his grip tightened around her throat.
"Gone," he grinned as he avoided a vicious kick to the groin by twisting and catching her knee against his thigh, “I sold that animal," he
laughed, "And now I’ll finish the sow that gave birth to it."
Suddenly Maragoli understood the danger she had exposed herself to, she had missed her opportunity for surprise and struggle as she might
his strong hands tightened their grip, her head began to spin and the vision of Anita floated before her eyes.
“It's over my baby." she told the vision in her mind just as the darkness took her, and she saw no more.