Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 14

We were now on the other side of the crevice, and that meant we were closer to going home. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that I would soon be reunited with my family. Night had fallen and the farm and surrounding bushes were looking scary. We marched along the bush-path in a single file, with Mr. Abel leading the way.
“You seniors remember this path right? It leads right out to the expressway. With any luck we should be there in the next fifteen minutes and then everyone can find their way to their various destinations.”
A few people had some difficulty in crossing the bridge but none were as embarrassing as mine. The only person’s experience which came close was a girl called Shade. She had looked down half way and had become petrified with fear, pointing at something and refusing to go back or forward. Even when the rope around her waist had been tugged she refused to budge. Mr. Abel had to go back across the bridge to get her. She had closed her eyes tightly until she was led across the bridge.
Sola and Bimpe had come across without any problems although there was a time when Bimpe had seemed to lose her balance but she recovered quickly. They were very kind about my experience and didn’t tease me about it, though some of the boys didn’t feel so generous and I caught two of them making faces at me and laughing.
We came to a small stream which had a log of wood thrown across it for walking across. The stream itself had disappeared and what remained was a thick sludge of mud with some trapped fish and frogs struggling inside.
“The earthquake must have diverted the stream into the crevice.” Mr. Abel said. “Everyone move across, be careful so you don’t dirty yourselves in the mud.”
One by one we went across the stream. I was going across when I lost my footing and almost found myself inside the mud puddle if not for a bit of rock jutting out that I used for support to get back on the log. I heard laughter as the boys behind me started jeering.
“Be careful Oh! Don’t hug this one like you did before oh! Fear fear!”
The words stung and I felt like crying but I steeled myself and went on until I crossed. As the boys came across, Dare confronted them.
“Is there any problem, boys?” He asked. They stopped laughing and became quiet.
“You think this thing we are doing is a joke?” he gazed down on them, “Do you realize she nearly lost her life? And the best you can do is making fun of her abi? I feel sorry for you.”
They mumbled their apologies and behaved themselves afterwards. Dare smiled at me kindly and went back to his duties with the promise that he would come back when he was free.
Bimpe sighed as soon as he left “He’ so nice.” She said.
I smiled. “Yeah.”
“Soon all this rubbish will be over.” Sola said. “As for me, I’m not coming to school tomorrow even if they say there’s test.”
“Me neither.” Bimpe squealed. “All this wahala going on, I’m going to pretend I’m sick for the next one week.”
We all laughed and I was so glad to be with these girls. I looked ahead of me where the trees had started thinning out. We were finally reaching the highway. My heart soared at the prospect of finally meeting my family again.
Dare left where he was at the front and strolled back to meet us. Sola and Bimpe seemed to flow away as he walked in step beside me. I concentrated once again at my feet in embarrassment.
“Hope you are still not thinking of that incident with the boys.” He said. I shook my head, no.
“They are just being annoying, nothing new.”
“Good.” He shrugged. “I’m glad you are okay. Soon we’ll reach the expressway; would you like me to see you home?”
“But,” I faltered, “Your house is the other way, towards the market.”
“It’s not a problem; I’ve been home later than this. If I take a bus directly from your place to my street I should be home before eight o’clock.”
“Well…” I still hesitated
“Unless you three want to be by yourselves,” He said, gesturing at Sola and Bimpe who were walking just ahead of us and I’m sure eavesdropping
on every word. “I’ll totally understand. Today has been very stressful and I don’t want to cramp you girls…I guess I’m just worried about you that’s all.”
“Why?” The words escaped my lips before I could stop them. He was silent for a moment.
“Temi, I’ve noticed you since you came into SS1. Even before you did the Miss Cinderella contest I already knew you were a beauty. I wasn’t surprised when you won, if you had lost I would have known the judges were biased…”
He stopped, as if what he wanted to say next was hard for him. I hung on his every breath, waiting for what would come out of his mouth next.
“About Melissa and I, that was a mistake. I know the whole school thinks we went out together but that’s not the case. My dad is a, er…polygamist of sorts and he just found out last year from her mother that she could be his daughter. So I tried getting to know her, finding out about her mom and stuff like that. I wanted to know her as a sister and friend. My dad later ordered some DNA tests and it proved he wasn’t her father but by then she had grown attached to me. I tried to keep the relationship simple but she wanted something more. I didn’t want to take advantage of her and so I called it quits. Better the whole school see me as the bad guy than tarnish her image.”
He looked at me. “And besides, my heart already belongs to another.”
“Who?” I breathed, staring like a simpleton.
He laughed gently and held my hand, “Why, you of course. You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. If not that Arnold had already released you that day you came late I would have let you off the hook myself. I care a lot about you Temi and I want you to be my girlfriend.”
I caught my breath. My heart thumped so loudly in my chest I thought he would hear it. Was he really saying what he just said? He was asking me to be his girl? Me, occupying the most envious position of all the SS girls by his side?
It was a few seconds later that I realized I had been staring at him without saying anything. He smiled at me and squeezed my hand gently , then walked away. Sola and Bimpe reappeared as if by magic and started interrogating me.
“What did Prince charming want this time?” Bimpe giggled.
“Adonis.” Sola corrected.
“Same thing!” Bimpe screeched.
“Not so.” Sola said. “Adonis is the Greek god of beauty and desire. Prince charming is just…Prince charming.”
“He wants me to be his girlfriend.” I said quietly.
Both of them stopped their conversation immediately. Bimpe gasped and grabbed my arm.
“And? What did you say?” She asked.
“Nothing.” I said. “I didn’t reply.”
I stared at her stupidly. “Was I supposed to say something? Oh no. Should I go and apologize? Maybe that’s why he walked away, I’ve made him angry…”
Sola grabbed my shoulders hard. “You are in shock! Calm down and relax, take deep breaths.”
I followed her instructions sheepishly and then suddenly burst into laughter. Bimpe laughed along with me and Sola rolled her eyes. The Head boy had actually asked me out! Me, Temitope Richards, I was going to be the Head boy’s girlfriend! I knew a number of girls who would die with envy if they knew. I laughed and danced around with Bimpe as Sola tried to give me some ‘adult’ advice on relationships though we hardly paid her any attention. Today had turned out to be marvelous after all.
We were still laughing and teasing each other when we saw that the people in front had stopped. Mr. Abel was motioning with his hands but the boys with him were not responding.
“What’s going on?” I asked as we came closer. There was silence and their faces looked downcast.
“poo!” One of the boys cursed.
“Watch your language.” Mr. Abel cautioned, although his voice was very downcast.
And then we saw it.
There was another huge crevice before us, effectively tearing the tarred expressway lengthwise into two.
There was a collective cry of dismay as more people came to see what was causing the holdup. This crevice was just as wide as the first one, although not as deep. Its edges were made up of the split parts of the tarred road that was formerly the express and so was much firmer. As we edged closer we saw plenty of car wreckage at the bottom, some of them mangled beyond recognition, some burnt with others still burning. It was like a scene from hell. I turned away and closed my eyes as I began to tremble uncontrollably.
“Where are the people?” Someone shouted in bewilderment.
I opened my eyes and looked again. We all looked down into the pit, scanning for signs of the living or dead. But there was no one to be seen. People ran towards the few cars and buses that littered the side of the road to search for any sign of life. They found nothing. The vehicles themselves had crashed into each other and none of them seemed capable of functioning. It was obvious the people using the road had panicked when the earthquake struck and crashed into each other. But where was everybody?
“Maybe the government has already reached here and taken everybody away.” One of the teachers suggested hopefully. Others nodded in agreement at the idea although there was a look of uncertainty in their eyes as if they felt something more bizarre had happened.
“There’s a trailer further down!” Dare said running up to the group. He and the other prefects had gone to check the surrounding area and were now coming back. “Half of it is inside and the other half is still leaning on the edge. There’s another one that fell in on the other side of the road. I think we can climb down one and climb up the other side through the other wreckage.”
“In this darkness?” Arnold said. “It’s too dangerous. Maybe we should try walking along the edge for a while. We might get to the end…”
“But we are not all going in the same direction. The express is where we were supposed to split up. I’m not sure it will be a good idea for us to separate now.” Dare countered.
There was loud murmuring as we all started voicing our opinion at once. The expressway led upwards towards the Market and Ilorin, and downwards towards the town and polytechnic. People were going in different directions and the darkness and silence had made the whole atmosphere creepy and dangerous looking. I don’t think anybody wanted our group to be divided into even smaller groups, not on a night like this.
Mr. Abel soon called for silence.
“We are going to stay here for the night.” He said amidst groans and a few grumblings. “It wouldn’t be safe us splitting up at this time of the night, we don’t know what other obstacles awaits. Let’s sleep here tonight then tomorrow morning we continue onwards.”
It was settled. Most people were happy with Mr. Abel’s plan. I for one, although sad that I wouldn’t see my parents tonight, was glad that we weren’t going any further.
Arnold called a group of boys together and set back to the farm to search for fruits we could eat for supper. Mr. Abel and the teachers went scouting around the nearby cars for any food but most especially for water. We hadn’t thought the journey might take so long and nobody had brought any provisions along.
Dare remained behind with three other prefects to watch over the rest of us. We arranged ourselves at the side of the tarred road, using plantain leaves to line the ground where we sat. Sola hit at a mosquito and then another.
“This is just like the girl’s scout camping we used to do.” Bimpe said.
“Except there weren’t so many mosquitoes” Sola replied, slapping at another one.
I sighed. “Maybe we should have stayed behind after all. At least we would have been sure of drinking water and the classroom tables would have made better beds.”
“Which classroom, the ones that collapsed?” Sola sneered. “I don’t think the principal will allow anybody sleep in those classrooms oh. After the quake the foundations will be shaky. It won’t be safe to stay inside.”
“But I’m seriously hungry, and thirsty!” I cried. “What is all this?”
Bimpe and Sola were quiet. Everyone seemed downcast at the recent turn of events. We needed something to cheer us up. Luckily for us it came a moment later.
One of the teachers who had followed Mr. Abel to scout ahead came back shouting triumphantly. We all jumped to our feet as he threw a sack he was carrying down on the floor. Out poured sachets upon sachets of water.
“Pure water!” we shouted with joy as we scrambled for them. Mr. Abel came up behind him.
“No need to rush, we found a lorry conveying plenty of pure water, the others are bringing some more. Don’t worry, there’s plenty for everyone.”
I was able to get some sachets for myself and kept them alongside the ones Sola and Bimpe had obtained. We placed them together on some plantain leaves on our side of the road and gulped one each with gusto.
'Thank goodness, I was really thirsty!” Bimpe said. Sola took some of the water and washed her face with it, being careful not to wet her bandage.
“I think you can remove it now.” I said. “I don’t think it will still be bleeding.”
Sola nodded and we slowly removed the bandage. The cut site bled a little but soon dried off and Sola sighed with relief, glad she wasn’t going to spend the night with a turban round her head. Mr. Abel’s torchlight was beginning to fade and he looked around for something we could set on fire and use as light for the night.


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