The Cabal - Chapter 1

The Cabal - Chapter 1 The Cabal - Chapter 1

Status: In Progress

Genre: Mystery and Crime


Status: In Progress

Genre: Mystery and Crime


Set in the South Africa of the future, this is a tale of a series of bizarre murders that take an investigating journalist down an unexpected path ...


Set in the South Africa of the future, this is a tale of a series of bizarre murders that take an investigating journalist down an unexpected path ...

Chapter1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Author Chapter Note

An introduction ...

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: February 08, 2020

Reads: 130

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: February 08, 2020





Chapter 1:


Johannesburg in the year 2123 was said to be a happy place. That is if you had the privilege of living in the hoity-toity areas such as Sandton, Hyde Park or Rosebank. Even the city centre had been zooshed up so as to attract more tourists, and to try and reduce crime in the area. Majestic skyscrapers rose like spires above other structures complete with gardens on their roofs. There the people who worked in them could spend their lunch breaks out in the open, way above the smell, fog and pollution that made the street level almost unbearable. Their autos were parked safely in underground garages that had filters so that even there, the air was fresh. Once their day at the office was over, these members of the elite could travel back to their homes without once being exposed to the smog, back to their air conditioned and controlled environments, completely oblivious to what was going on around them.


What was going on was a far cry from the affluent and peaceful existence that privilege afforded them. Even in the CBD, those not fortunate enough to own expensive autos or live in fancy homes, either walked on the litter covered side-walks or drove along the dilapidated streets that were more potholes than tarmac. Many of them either covered their mouths with scarves, bandannas or masks to avoid breathing in the miasmic stench that surrounded them, and caused any number of respiratory conditions and other morbidities. The pale sunlight barely filtered through the fog and the streetlights had to be kept on constantly - that was unless there was a power failure of course. These happened often because the supply was taken from the suburbs in and around the inner city in order to maintain a steady supply to the wealthier areas. Even in the middle of Johannesburg, above a certain level, the power almost never went off.


But even though life was tough for the majority, it still went on. The haves relied on artificially cleansed air and expensive medicines to survive in this hostile environment, whereas the have-nots had to depend by-and-large on their own resilience to weather these conditions. They lived and loved just as they always had under the murky light, in the same way as they had throughout the ages.


The squalor of the city centre was at least offset by the fact that most of the buildings were relatively well maintained, mainly because they had to support the high-rise structures above them, that stood as a constant reminder of the gulf between those who were well-heeled enough and those who were not. But as the mid-city gave way to the suburbs such as Joubertpark, Braamfontein and the ever notorious Hillbrow - even as far as Berea and Bez Valley - even these fell away, and was steadily replaced by slums. The streets became little more than narrow lanes barely wide enough for an auto to drive along. Even the most essential amenities, such as refuse collection and road maintenance were almost non-existent, and the stench became even worse.


But these were not the worst areas in which to try and survive. Not by a long shot! Even though there had been promises made by countless politicians in the past to restore it, Alexander Township, amongst others, remained a blight on the landscape. The plight of those who lived there had in fact worsened when the global change took place. Countries and nations went from being governed by politics to corporatocracies, in which the large international business conglomerates were in control. These new tyrants were only concerned with profit, and thus allowed those areas that were deemed worthless to fall into ever increasing decay and ruin, along with the lives of those who lived there. Thus the rich became even richer, while the poor became more and more destitute.




Living conditions within the city centre were also somewhat better than in the areas surrounding it. The apartments were in a slightly better state. This was mainly because many of the people that worked in the more menial jobs, such as cleaners and maintenance workers, were accommodated there in order that they were close enough to their place of work should their masters need them, even when they were off duty.


Once more - alas - as one travelled further away from the city hub, the relative comfort of the apartments gave way to tenements, most of which were overcrowded and without proper amenities. And then there were the slums. Regions such as Berea, Bez Valley, and even Yeoville had been reduced to the lowest of the low when the local municipality elected to divert their power supply to the more affluent suburbs around them. This left them stranded and desperate. Those who had the means to do so migrated to other areas, leaving behind the destitute. These had to try and eke out a meagre existence amid the stench and the rubble that was left behind.


Slowly conditions began to change for the better however, mainly thanks to a growing number of folk, who either were from the middle class or connected to large welfare organisations, and they embarked on various social upliftment programs. These were pioneered by a Carmelite nun who went by the name of Mother Saskia. She came from Georgia, in Eastern Europe, when she was still a novice, and gradually worked her way up until she was appointed Mother Superior at the old Yeoville Catholic Church. Her first mission was to restore the dilapidated building so that it was at least fully functional, after which she diligently began working within the local community, doing whatever she could to improve their standard of living. She was held in such high regard that her portrait was hung next to the altar in her honour, and although the application fell on deaf ears, there was a call to have her canonised.


But her efforts inspired others to follow in her footsteps, like Father Albert from St Charles Cathedral in Victory Park. Commonly known as the ‘Lemon Squeezer’ because of its peculiar design, this church had a long history of being involved in uplifting those in need. For a time - alas - it became like most of the Christian churches and other religious groups, only pandering to the wealthy and those who financed them. Soon religion was considered as relevant as philosophy, and going to church akin to visiting a museum or place of historical interest. But when Father Albert Lovu, a catholic priest from Kenya, came to South Africa and joined the clergy in Victory Park, he was determined to return it to the original mandate. Even though many of the congregation members left in protest against this, he was eventually appointed as Bishop, and in turn motivated a number of people to embark on similar projects.


The difference was that many of these were in no way connected to any religious group whatsoever. One of the most beloved and respected members of this group was Mama Lizzy. Her real name was Elisabeth Ethulo, and she ran the old Belmont Hotel in Hillbrow. When she took over, it was a hive of crime and debauchery, and she almost single-handedly turned it into a beacon of light in an otherwise very dark part of the city. Soon, however, it became much more than a haven. In the old basement, another world began to develop, one in which those who would otherwise have suffered from being forgotten and even ostracised from the upper classes could find relief and even real assistance. Pirate radio and media stations broadcast on unlisted frequencies, so that they could reach the people who did not have the luxury of official social media.


Thanks to advances in medicine and medical technologies, doctors were able to perform even the most delicate procedures in makeshift surgeries and operating rooms, at a fraction of the price that the equivalent facilities run by the large corporations charged. The state run hospitals had long fallen into total disrepair, and thus no longer functioned. Most of them had closed down completely, with the exception of the old General Hospital near the middle of Jo’burg. This only still existed because it was a teaching facility for the University of Johannesburg’s Medical school.

But in one particular venue, the ever infamous Red Lion, the concept of what became known as ‘Shell-Houses’ was taken to a whole different level. At street level, the establishment appeared to be just another bar where the locals would socialise and try to escape the rough realities of life. Below the surface it became the base of operations for a militant faction, whose goal it was to overthrow the Corporatocracy using whatever means they deemed necessary. Some of the upper middle class citizens supported this cause and even supplied them with contraband, arms and ammunition.


They called themselves ‘The Rez’, short for ‘The Resistance’. Led by an ex-military officer named Cynda Nadir, this group began as a small band of vigilantes who were trying to rid their turf of other members of the bourgeoisie, who were considerably less philanthropic than their counterparts when it came to their treatment of the poor and the needy, or rather in their exploitation of those already in dire straits.


One such scum-bag was Caiaphas Inyemba. He ran a number of brothels and escort agencies throughout the mega-city that encompassed the Tshwane and Johannesburg municipalities. Although many such establishments were relatively well managed and free of abuse, Inyemba’s were not among them. The women that worked the streets for him were often locked in cells or chained to the wall if they were not bringing in enough money, and many of them were the victims of abusive clients, with no means of protecting them or any hope of justice after the incidents had occurred. Those abused were even denied proper medical care, even if they were seriously injured. One of these unfortunates was found dead in the hotel room her client had rented for the night. She had been strangled with his own tie.


Even though the local law enforcement was called in to investigate, the case very soon seemed to vanish off the radar. This happened on an all too regular basis, and usually meant that the perpetrator or perpetrators were from the upper echelons of society. Such incidents often went unchecked because those who committed these crimes were considered untouchable. What made this even more obvious in the case of the murdered prostitute was that wealthy men and women were among the street girls’ most frequent clients, not to mention the ones most likely to abuse them in one way or another. The only reason why this particular murder was even reported, was that the proprietor of the hotel in which the victim was killed found her decomposing corpse, after receiving complaints that a terrible odour could be smelt in the corridor outside the room.


One of the ruthless individuals was a drug-lord by the name of Dieter Verdoorn. Although many recreational drugs had been legalised, strict controls were in place to ensure the quality of the products sold. The hope was, that by combining these with a rigorous education and awareness campaign - aimed at informing the general public of the dangers and consequences of these drugs, it would regulate and restrict their distribution and reduce the risks that had ravaged almost an entire generation before they were implemented. But alas, there were still those who had little or no regard for these laws, let alone the unfortunate wretches who fell victim to their sub-standard and downright dangerous merchandise. Many of these were among the lower class, the regulated drugs being all too often beyond their reach. These either suffered permanent mental, physical and psychological disabilities as a result, or wound up in the morgues and graveyards of the inner city and surrounds. Verdoorn was the son of one of the richest men in South Africa, and was thus beyond the reach of the law, no matter how long its arm could extend.


The list of reprobates even included religious fanatics and medical professionals. One of these called himself ‘The Doctor’. His real name was Basel Teferi. He claimed to be a medical practitioner, and had once been an elder in a church in Hillbrow. He believed that he could ‘cure’ people from homosexuality, both male and female, but his methods were nothing short of draconian and abusive. These included electro-shock therapy, the imposition of harsh and at times fatal forms of discipline, and the administering of medical concoctions of his own design, most of which caused many of his victims to descend into a vegetative state, and killed a great deal more. And this despite continuous pressure being placed on the Health Professions Council to investigate him and confiscate his licence to practice. But these cries fell on deaf ears as usual. Once again, the police would not even try to intervene because he had so many of their senior members in his back pocket, as well as some of the most powerful law firms in the country.


It was for this reason that the Rez began. Thanks to them, many of these villains had met their end, and a number of their victims - whether they were abused sex workers or child slaves - had been rescued. Although they very seldom achieved any meaningful results, attempts were made to expose these misdeeds in the hope of somehow bringing the culprits to some kind of justice, and even though the law offered no solutions, the social media networks - those that had not become regulated pawns for those in power - aided in spreading the word of the treachery and evil worldwide. Underground organisations, such as cyber-terrorist groups and professional hackers made the lives of those involved in such heinous crimes more difficult by causing their networks to crash periodically. Either that or they would find that some of their funds had mysteriously disappeared without any trace.


However, there were those among the ranks of the resistance that had set their sites even higher. Their goal was to not only put an end to the criminal elements within their communities, but to overthrow the system that allowed them to operate with such impunity. Their schemes included smear campaigns, and even assassinations if the need arose, or the opportunity presented itself!




© Copyright 2020 Tristan Biggs. All rights reserved.


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