It was the beginning of spring and the earth seemed to sigh with relief on receiving the fit showers of rain after a long, dry winter season. People were beginning to enjoy the warm weather, and those working as policemen and security guards, were relieved from wearing almost half if not everything of their wardrobe to thwart the effects of the icy weather.

Major was a security guard on night-shift, working for Counter Crime Security Services. He was posted with one of his colleagues at one of the well-known trucking companies in Elandsfontein, Elandsfontein Truckers, before his supervisor came to take him to another post where a guard had not shown up. Major was then left on his own at this notoriously dangerous site.

It was the favourite spot for the criminals specializing on industrial break-ins and robberies. The guards at this area were to be armed, as the criminals were so callous. They did not have any scruple to kill, even for simple things like spare wheels, batteries and sometimes even draining diesel from the trucks parked in the yard. Major was armed with a 7.65 millimeter pistol, alone in the guardroom.

The premises was reinforced with security beams on all four corners of the yard. The beams picked up anything that crossed their invisible rays, and signaled the central security monitors, who would then send for the Reaction Officer to go and back the guards on site up. The guards on the premises were given strict rules: never to go beyond a certain barrier line as it would trigger the alarm unnecessarily, thus causing unwarranted response of the patrol officers which would cost the client.

There were huge lights around the premises, bright enough for anyone to see a needle on the ground. Added to that, the yard was fenced with concrete slabs, three meters high, with razor wire on top. But there was a railway line running at the back of the yard, used for delivering material to factories around, and this was a threat to the yard. Sometimes passers-by would get tempted to know what lurked behind the concrete slabs. The criminals would jump over the slabs into the yard, and on exiting with their loot, would slide the slabs out to create an exit point and side them back again when they were done. The trucks parked in the yard hid the intruders with their shadows.

It was not usual though for the companies with beam alarms to be broken into. That is why the supervisor on duty took a decision to remove one guard from that post and left Major on his own.

Major had to do his hourly rounds, and make hourly entries on his occurrence book. There was no potable handset on site except the big one situated on the table at the guard’s house. If his supervisor were to find him sitting with an un-updated occurrence book, he would be in trouble. That night, Major was suffering from fatigue as he hadn’t slept enough during the day. He was so drowsy he could barely sit for five minutes without his eyes shutting themselves down.

At about half past one in the morning, his supervisor paid him a routine visit, as he did on all the sites. Fortunately he was busy updating his occurrence book while awaiting the controller to ask him for a situation report. Major was thankful for the call; he would have fallen asleep otherwise.

After the supervisor left, Major went for patrol and then came back to take a nap. He was woken up by a noise of his radio as the controller was calling each of them for a situation report. He replied that all was in order, and he was about to go and patrol. It was a Monday morning and the whole world seemed to be asleep, except him and the nocturnal species which were squeaking through the dead night.

Walking past the neatly parked trucks, he envied the skills the drivers had to be able to put them side by side in straight rows like that. But wait, there was one truck who’s aerial was shaking much vigorously than the rest of them. What could be the cause, he wondered. He immediately withdrew his firearm from the holster and fed one bullet into the chamber. He quickly remembered the beams and that intruders could never come into the yard without triggering the alarm. But nevertheless, he did not return his 7.65 pistol back to the holster. His plan was to make a quick patrol and come back to sleep. He was safe from any possible attack by intruders, so why couldn’t he enjoy the luxury of sleeping on duty?

He moved to the side of the truck whose aerial was shaking, checking on the truck. He was certain there was no way anyone could have gone near it without the beams being activated. But then, he shouldn’t be able to get closer to the trucks to investigate, as he would have crossed the barrier and triggered the beams. Something was off.

Major went around the other side. He saw a hose hanging from the spare tank of the truck into a drum on the ground next to it. His suspicions were immediately ascertained; there were intruders in the yard. They were the reason why the aerial of this very truck was shaking.

***

Tell us what you think: What do you think Major should do?