Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 10

School closed early that day. The teachers and school authorities had gone round the classrooms assessing the damage, taking attendance, trying to gain control of the situation. Four people had lost their lives; The math teacher, Emmanuel, and two of the boys who had run wildly out of the class into the road and been knocked over by a speeding vehicle. An emergency assembly was called to dismiss the school. As we walked down to the assembly hall, I saw Arnold anxiously searching for someone. He turned around and saw me and a huge sigh of relief left his lips. I shuddered inwardly; why did this guy like me so much? Was I leading him on somehow?
He started to make his way towards me when Dare stepped in his path and held my shoulder ever so gently.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
Dare was asking about me? From the corner of my eye I saw Arnold edge away, crestfallen.
“I’m…I’m fine thanks.” I replied, my voice a little shaky.
“Good.” Dare said and smiled. I suddenly had the urge to run away in sheer adolescent panic. I would have done so too if Bimpe had not grabbed me from behind, her fingers digging deep into my shoulder in excitement.
“We are all fine, Dare. Thanks. I’m Bimpe.” She squeaked.
“Ah, Bimpe, glad to know. Was just checking because I was told you lost someone in your class. Very terrible.”
“Yeah.” Bimpe said though her twinkling and adoring eyes didn’t seem to show any sign of terror. “Poor guy, he got bitten and cracked his skull open at the same time.”
“Well, If you ladies need anything, ensure you let me know alright? Good day Temi.” And so saying, he melted into the crowd.
“Headboy don dey give you face these days oh!” Bimpe said, a tinge of jealousy coming through in her voice.
“Maybe he likes you.” Sola said, trying to enter the now forming line of students waiting for the vice-principal’s address.
I shrugged but said nothing. The truth was I was speechless. I felt like there were butterflies in my stomach. Dare had come to check on me personally! The recent horrific events momentarily forgotten, I was on cloud nine. But I wouldn’t be there for long.
The assembly had formed with all the teachers standing in a group behind the students. Some of the women were crying profusely and being consoled by the male folk. The Vice principal climbed the podium to address the crowd.
“You are all aware of the bizarre happenings that occurred within the school grounds an hour ago,” she said. “Rats, lizards, snakes of all kinds and other small animals were seen rushing into the bush. We have already had eighteen casualties, four of them very serious-“
“Four of them dead.” Sola whispered as the crowd of students murmured.
“And so we have decided that the school environment is currently not safe. You are to all go home and report here tomorrow morning. Dismissed.”
There was further loud murmuring as the students and teachers dispersed. Arnold suddenly appeared before me. I tried to side track him but he persisted.
“Are you all right?” he said, fidgeting with his hands.
“I’m fine; I just want to go home.” I said. He nodded.
“I can escort you back if you want. My house is in the opposite direction from Macauley street but I don’t mind.”
Bimpe and Sola who were standing beside me pinched my arms simultaneously so I gave in.
“Thanks.” I said, and Arnold smiled.
Arnold walked home with us until we got to our mutual junction. By the time we reached our street, I was glad I had accepted his offer. Animal and reptile corpses littered the road, obviously run over by alarmed motorists. It was a gory sight. We passed a few cattle herdsmen who were lamenting woefully in their language and I thought of the bull that had disobeyed its master and tried to lead the herd in another direction.
“Something is wrong.” I said, breaking the silence that had fallen upon our little group since we left the school gates.
“Yeah” Sola said, looking around like she was expecting to see some animals jump out of the bush at any moment.
“I have never seen anything like it.” Arnold agreed. “ETT”.
“What? What did you say?” I asked
“ETT. End time things. These might be sign of the end times.” He said, his voice very serious.
“Abeg don’t start jo.” Sola said. “Anything that happens that we don’t understand and people will start saying ‘the End of the world has come’.
Do you think if the world wants to end it will end like this?”
“Don’t mind him.” I joined in, though in my heart I wasn’t so sure Arnold didn’t speak the truth.
“But look at it na.” Arnold said. “I heard this same thing happened yesterday along the express leading to the University. Then there was the rain of ice that fell yesterday…”
“You saw that?” I exclaimed and Arnold nodded.
“It happened very fast, so I doubt a lot of people saw it.” He continued. “But on the news similar things happened in other countries. Have you not been watching CNN?”
“CNN always shows bad news.” Sola said. “Nothing new there.”
“True,” Arnold said. “But not strange things like these. I cant wait to get home so I can watch CNN to see if anything strange happened today.”
“We’ll find out when we get home.” I said and waved Bimpe and Sola as they took their respective routes to their houses.
“Thank you for escorting us bros!” Sola said as she and Bimpe walked quickly down the road. I could hear them giggling. And that meant Arnold could hear them too.
“Thanks Arnold, I can go on from here.” I said too, and started walking quickly away.
“Don’t you want me to know your house?” Arnold called out. I turned back and saw a big grin on his face, his huge arms swinging shyly by his side.
I hissed inwardly. Gorrilla.
“It’s not that, it’s just that if you come now my dad will be very angry. He’s a military man, you know.” I said, hoping to scare him away.
“I’m not scared.”Arnold said, raising his shoulders. “I’m not a small boy. What will he do? Shoot me?”
“No. But he’ll report to your parents and warn them that he doesn’t want to see you near his house.” I hesitated, and then lied. “He might even find a way to get you arrested. He’s done it before.”
That stopped him. He had this scared look on his face and his chest fell.”Eh, okay. At least I’m glad I escorted you up to this point.”
“Ok, bye.” I said and resumed my march. I walked on for a while before I glanced back and saw Arnold walking in the opposite direction. I nodded, satisfied and ran home quickly, eager for the first time in my life to check on CNN.
I had run past our open gate into our compound and towards the front door when I was stopped short by two visitors. Both were male, and looked like university students. They smiled at me but it didn’t hide the viciousness of their eyes. I greeted them respectfully and entered the house. There was no light. Dad was not yet back and mum was preparing a meal in the kitchen.
“Hello mom.” I said. “Who are those men outside?”
Mom didn’t look up from her cooking. “Oh, those are Ayo’s friends. They came to update him on his lectures that he’s missed. They are very nice and respectful boys.” She wiped sweat off her brow and then finally looked at me, “You know, I’m glad he has people looking out for him. That your senior brother worries me sometimes.”
I looked at her incredulously. Obviously she had missed the unfriendly vibe of our visitors. I turned around and went to the parlour. Deji was making a phone call.
“Where is Ayo?” I asked.
“He’s preparing to go out with his friends.” Deji said, quickly cutting the phone call.
“His friends? Those don’t look like friends to me!” I whispered. “Don’t you think they look suspicious?”
“Yes I do,” Deji said. “I asked Ayo who they were and what they wanted but he said I should mind my own business. Wetin I go do na?” and he sighed angrily.
At that moment Ayo came out of the room. He was dressed in faded blue jeans trousers and a black T-shirt. He passed us like we weren’t there and went outside.
“Let’s go.” We heard him say to the visitors as he closed the door and then receding footsteps as they moved off.
“We need to watch CNN,” I said. “Something happened in our school today!”
“And you think they will show it on CNN?” Deji asked with a laugh.
“Animals of different sorts ran across our field and into the bush!” I insisted, ignoring his last remark. “Snakes, lizards rats, dogs, they were all there!”
“Obviously a lie or you are exaggerating.” Deji said.
“Have you been outside today at all?!” I said and Deji shugged and shook his head.
“Nope. No lectures for me today.”
“What was pursuing them?” Mom asked, coming out of the kitchen. “Lunch is ready, by the way.”
“I don’t know.” I said, “Look mom, people died!”
“Who?” Mom asked and Deji sat forward, now interested.
“A classmate! He was trying to run away and hit his head on the window pane. They said he bled to death.” I breathed, “And our maths teacher!”
Mum gasped and Deji remained quiet.
“That’s why I’m home early or didn’t any of you wonder what I’m doing here at this time?”
“Its barely 1 o’ clock, I just assumed you closed early for a reason…” Mum was saying
“Well, that’s the reason mum. It was horrible.”
“I did see a lot of dead animals on the road on my way from work this afternoon.” Mom said thoughtfully. Then: “Deji, put on the gen. Your dad will understand.”
Deji grumbled but went outside to put on the generator. I thanked mom and took my lunch to the parlour. The loud hum of the generator came on and Deji came inside to switch the power source from NEPA to the generator.
“Mum, I think you should have a talk with Ayo when he comes back.” Deji said as mum came to sit down in the parlour with us.”
“Why, dear?” Mum asked, stealing a spoon of rice from my plate.
“Oh, nothing. I just think there might be some things he would want to confide in you.”
“Things like what?” Mom asked.
Deji was about to say something but then CNN came on and we watched as the news centered around football and the rise in inflation and the war in the Gaza strip. Nothing especially out of the ordinary, just the normal bad news.
“You see? Na the normal stuff. Don’t let yesterday’s strange happenings scare you sis.” Deji said with a grin and flexed his muscles, “even if anything is happening we are here to protect you!”
“See who is talking, weren’t you the one that was shouting about snakes yesterday?” I countered.
We started arguing between ourselves when dad came in hurriedly.
“Why is the door open? Arent you people security conscious at all?” he shouted as we all got up from our seats. He looked more irritable than usual
“What’s the problem dear?” Mum asked.
“I’ve been summoned to Abuja for an urgent meeting with the president.” He said as he sat down and automatically grabbed the remote. “Wait, you people were watching CNN? Praise the Lord.”
“Why were you summoned to Abuja? It must be something important right? Tell us!” Mum said, sitting beside him.
“Nothing I know of, I just received a text message. Major Musa my good friend down in Kano called me and he received the same message as well. It will be good to see him again after all these years. Where’s Ayo? And why are there so many dead animals on the road?”
We looked at each other. We had no explanations either.

Later that evening, I received a call from Sola. She wanted to know how I was doing. The whole day had been kind of unsettling, what with the people that had died and dad suddenly preparing to travel to Abuja for goodness knows what. I didn’t really think I would have missed him on a good day but his being around at a time like this would have been…reassuring. Now he was travelling and I could hear mum talking to him in their room, it was obvious there was something else he hadn’t told us.
Ayo still wasn’t back and Deji had been busy with his phone all afternoon. I was seriously bored as we weren’t given any homework. I was glad when sola had called.
“Listen, I think something strange is happening.” Sola was saying. “Even in our compound, all the local dogs and goats have disappeared. I can’t hear a single singing bird or chirping cricket outside. It’s scary.”
She was right. Evening was fast approaching and the normal sounds one would expect to hear were getting more and more audibly absent. The chickens that normally clucked and crowed, the sound of birds in the air or dogs barking or goats bleating…all had gone silent. The only sound came from cars and other man made machinery as people went about their daily lives.
“I haven’t read my bible in weeks but I decided to open it today o.” Sola said with a nervous laugh. I laughed and asked her which part she had read and she said something about the sky turning black and I told her to stop immediately; I had no intention of being scared worse than I already was.
There was a muffled argument going on in the parlour and I told sola I’d call her back and cut the call. I opened the door quietly and tiptoed to the parlour. Deji was confronting Ayo who was sitting down and bent forward in an odd way. He looked hurt.
“…it’s 7 o’clock! What if they had kept you longer? Our dad is a military man for goodness sake, you don’t have to take this!” Deji was saying.
“I told you I’ll take care of it.” Ayo replied. “Now be a good brother and get me some water.”
“No!” Deji replied in a harsh whisper. “Not until you tell me what is really going on!”
“I already told you I had an accident!” Ayo countered.
Deji punched something on his phone and threw it at Ayo. “Is that the kind of accident you mean?”
“What is this? You took pictures? You followed me?”
“No, I had one of my friends do it!” Deji was gesticulating now, something he did when he was losing his temper. “When did this start? Why didn’t
you tell anybody?”
“Tell anybody what?” I asked, running into the parlour. Deji quickly grabbed the phone before I could get to it and held it high above his head.
“I’m not a little kid, lemme see!”
“In this matter, you are a little kid.” Deji said as he struggled to keep the phone out of my reach.
Ayo stood up. “Don’t ever have me followed again.” He said and walked into the room. I noticed a slight limp and a smell I couldn’t immediately
recognize as he walked past me.
“Why should I? I’ll leave you to your madness!” Deji said angrily and stomped off outside, leaving me alone in the parlour. I sat down on the chair,
not knowing who to follow, who would give me a decent explanation. What were they trying to hide from me?
The generator came on and Deji walked inside and tuned to CNN.
“No more MOVIE MAGIC in this house again?” I sighed in quiet rebellion.
“Don’t you want to know if any other strange thing is happening?” Deji said.
“I would rather know about the strange things happening in my house first.” I suggested and Deji’s face became gloomy again.
“I don’t know why our parents can’t see the changes in Ayo.” He said sadly. “Well, its not me that’s going to talk.”
“What happened to Ayo?” I asked but Deji shook his head.
“Don’t ask me. Ask him.”
I stood up and went to his room very determined to find out what was going on. The CNN reporter was delivering the usual news.
“Still no sighting of the missing plane although the search has been highly intensified…in other news the sea level has fallen to record low, the lowest it had been in half a century…
The voice droned on as I entered the corridor leading to the boys’ room. I heard some groaning as I approached and met the door open. I knocked and the groaning stopped.
“Who is it?” Ayo’s strong voice came from inside.
“It’s me, Temi.” I said. “Can I come in?”
“Did Deji send you? You people should leave me alone, you won’t understand…”
“Understand what? Whats been going on with you Ayo?” I asked as I entered the room. Ayo was lying down on the bed and had the sheets
drawn up.
“Are you sick?” I asked
“No. Just some body pains. I just need to sleep, I’ll feel better tomorrow.”
Something was in the air. I sniffed and smelled the familiar scent of alcohol and iodine.
“Are you injured?” I asked getting a little alarmed. “And have you been drinking?”
“See, little girl, go to the parlour and watch film. Tell Deji I said he should change the channel for you…”
The phrase ‘little girl’ had infuriated me. I took a bold step forward and pulled at the bedsheet he was using to cover his body.
“I’m not a little girl! Why will you guys be hiding things from me! What is the problem?”
“Get out!” Ayo shouted and suddenly kicked at me. I jumped, surprised and scared at the same time. I was still holding on to the sheets and it came off his hands as I moved out of the way of his kick. I gasped as I saw what he had been trying to hide.
His body was covered in bruises and machete cuts!
Tbc

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