Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 20

“We have to leave here, now.”
Ayo said, grabbing my arm
and gesturing towards the
others. “The Sun is the only
thing keeping them at bay,
when it goes behind a cloud
they’ll come back in large
numbers.” He turned towards
Emobor who had come back
during the shooting and
quickly examined his bleeding
arm. “It’s not deep. They are
drawn to the iron in our
blood. They don’t have much
of it themselves. Quick let’s
go.”
“Who were those people?”
Arnold asked, “And how come
you know so much about
them?”
“We have been following
everything on CNN. It’s a
worldwide attack. They call
themselves Underdwellers and
call us the Surface-dwellers.
The Americans captured a few
of them when the last
earthquake unleashed them
on the surface of the Earth.
But come, we will gist you
everything indoors.”
Ayo led the way, half walking,
half running down the centre
of the road, keeping away
from the bushes. We followed
behind apprehensively.
Every once in a while we
would see a movement in the
bushes or the sound of twigs
breaking underfoot. Our
pursuers were following us
but at a respectable pace.
“You are lucky it’s almost
noon so the Sun is out.” Ayo
said. “If it was later in the day
you people wouldn’t have
made it this far. Evenings are
the worst, we have to stay
indoors and defend the house
or else they will break in.”
“And at night?” Arnold asked.
I shuddered involuntarily at
the thought of those things
attacking us in the night.
“Funny enough they retreat by
night. Either the cold doesn’t
suit them or they go home to
rest, No one knows.” Ayo said.
“Sola, what is it?”
Sola was sobbing quietly. I
held her hand and squeezed it
gently.
“I was trying to tell her to
watch where she was going.”
Sola said, wiping tears from
her eyes. “she was so
frightened, I couldn’t help, I…”
I hugged her and she burst
into tears. “I should have
done something!”
“It happened too fast.” Arnold
said. “And if anyone is to
blame here, it’s me. I was
supposed to be protecting
you girls…”
“No one is to blame for
anything.” Ayo growled,
“What has happened has
happened, you people are
lucky, I tell you. If the weather
had been any cooler you
wouldn’t have had a chance.
“Oh my goodness.” I gasped
and pointed. “Is that…?”
In front of us was a huge pile
of rubble and the remains of
what looked like a filling
station. What was once Chief
Akpati’s magnificent structure
was now just broken bits of
rock and stone. Abandoned
plastics and Jerrycans could
be seen littering the filling
station area. Expensive
wooden and ceramic
furniture and three wrecked
jeeps were among the debris.
“When the Earthquake
happened, I was outside
jogging. I was trying to get
my mind of Dad’s
predicament…”
“Something happened to
dad?” I cried in alarm.
“You’ll get the full picture
when you get home.” Ayo
said. “As I was saying, I was
jogging when all of a sudden
the ground under me started
shaking and swaying from
side to side as if the ground
had turned to water. I was
just close to the Chief’s house.
I decided to lie flat on the
ground until whatever was
happening was over.
Everywhere around me people
outside were screaming and
shouting and falling over each
other. Cars were crashing into
themselves and into buildings,
running people over,
somersaulting. People were
shouting that it was a bomb,
everybody was confused. The
next thing was that the whole
ground started to rise up. The
force of it shook all the
houses around. Chief Akpati’s
house just fell like a stack of
cards. It just collapsed on
itself. Some of the debris fell
on the fence which finally
collapsed as well.”
He stopped and pointed. “That
was exactly where I lay down.
Right there.”
The place was just a few feet
away from the collapsed
fence. I shuddered again
thinking how close I had
come to losing my senior
brother.
“You are lucky it didn’t fall on
you.” Arnold said.
“Yes, I guess I am.” Ayo said.
“By the time the shaking
stopped, people were dazed
and moving around like
zombies. No one still knew
what happened and almost all
the NEPA poles were down. I
got up and looked around.
Chief Akpati’s house was
completely ruined. It was then
I saw the filling station inside.
People were now coming to
the houses with sticks and
stones, saying he was
somehow the cause of the
explosion. His guards tried to
scare them away but they
were adamant. They
demanded to see him. You
know how people react when
they experience something
they don’t understand. Next
thing one of the men opened
fire, shooting into the air.
People started running. There
was another gunshot,
probably one of the local
hunters and the guard fell
down dead. There were four
jeeps in the compound and
suddenly one of them fired up
and sped out. The crowd ran
after the car, stoning and
shouting but it didn’t stop. It
suddenly tumbled down the
slope that had been made by
the earthquake. When the car
tumbled down, people started
going back into their houses,
some of them went into the
rubble and were looking for
what they would carry away. I
decided to head back home
and make sure mum and Dad
were alright.”
“And our house?” I breathed.
It would be devastating if that
had collapsed as well.
“Our house didn’t fall, though
there are some big cracks on
the wall. Dad reinforced the
foundation a while back, you
know he was thinking of
converting the bungalow into
a duplex. He said that s what
helped us if not the whole
place would have come down.
Our house is the only one
standing for a few miles.
Others are makeshift huts and
tents that people arranged to
be sleeping in.
We rounded the corner and
the bushes fell away to clear
fields on either side, leaving
our stalkers behind. One of
them came out of the bushes,
holding a spear but not
approaching. I grabbed Sola’s
hand and walked faster.
All of a sudden the ground
began to shake again. I
screamed and looked for a
tree to climb up in but that
meant going amonst those
strange people. I decided to
risk it and lie flat on the
ground. The others were
already doing so, with Arnold
drawing me to his side as we
lay down on the ground
together.
“This is the third tear!” Ayo
shouted over all the noise. “It
has already happened in the
U.S, the American’s had said it
would reach here anytime
soon!
“It sounds like the Earth is
splitting!” I shouted between
gritted teeth.
“Yes, the continent of North
America split into two after
the first tear last night! Europe
and some other places have
been broken apart and some
island countries have
disappeared into the sea. It is
surprising that Africa hasn’t
broken up yet!”
We waited as the ground
heaved and rolled and for a
frightening moment I thought
the place we were lying on
was going to open up and
swallow us whole, but it
didn’t. Soon the shaking
subsided and the rumbling
sounds were reduced to the
barest minimum until they
gradually disappeared
altogether. I looked around to
see if those strange people
were still following us. They
were nowhere to be seen.
“Okay it has stopped.” Ayo
said, standing up and urging
us on. “Let’s move!”
Finally we got to the house.
Like Ayo had said, it was still
standing strong although
some of the roof had fallen
but not so much. There were
two huge cracks on the front
and side walls and as I looked
a rifle was poked out from
one of them. I heard a squeal
of joy and the front door was
flung open and mum ran out
crying. I rushed into her arms
weeping profusely. I had not
seen my mum for only
27hours but to me it seemed
like an eternity.
Deji came next, grumbling
something about security and
people leaving the door open.
He ushered everybody inside
and it was only when we
were all in and he shut the
door that he turned to hug
me and slap Ayo on the back
rather hard. Ayo grinned.
“I told you I would get her
back.” He said.
“Well, she was already
nearby…” Deji retorted.
“Eh? Okay next time you will
go…”
“The two of you should shut
up!” a voice said in the inner
room. “Where is that stubborn
girl?”
“Go in, your dad has been
worried since, don’t mind his
harsh words.” Mum said
smiling.
I nodded and went inside. The
rooms had been arranged
with most of our things
packed into Ghana-must-go
bags. They had packed it like
they were prepared to leave at
a moment’s notice.
“Where is that silly girl that
doesn't know she should stay
at school where she is safe?!”
My dad voice hit me from the
master bedroom.
I steeled myself, trying not to
lose my temper. After all I had
been through the last thing I
needed was a scolding. I
made up my mind to ignore
whatever he did or said, I
would just go in and answer
his silly query and leave.
I entered the master
bedroom. More Ghana-must-
go bags. And sitting on a chair
near the crack in the wall was
my Father. He was wearing an
army green T-shirt and a
three-quarters khaki knicker.
His left leg was tied in a crude
bandage below the knee and
there was more bandages
and plaster on his back and
left arm. His head had been
shaved and bandaged as well.
He dropped the rifle he had
been pointing out the crack in
the wall and stood up.
My mouth dropped open in
shock as I saw the bandages
on him and the pain he was
desperately trying to hide
from me.
He took a few painful steps
towards me and when he was
close enough dragged me to
himself and hugged me tight.
I couldn’t believe it when I
heard sobs and felt his pot-
belly heaving up and down as
he cried.
“You this stubborn girl.” He
said quietly. He took a step
backward and examined me.
“You want to give me
hypertension abi? Are you
alright?”
“Yes Sir.” I replied.
He nodded and wiped the
tears from his eyes. “Good.
That’s good. Oya go back to
the parlour and stay with your
brothers. I have to keep a
lookout for those things. Make
sure your mom gives you
something to eat.”
I watched him as he limped
back to the chair and sat
down. A flurry of emotions
swept through me. It had
never crossed my mind that
the man loved me so much. I
suddenly rushed forward and
hugged him.
“I love you too Dad.” I
whispered.
He grunted. “Okay go, go.” But
I could see tears brimming in
his eyes again as I left.
*
When I went to the parlour I
saw the boys were all
exchanging pleasantries.
“So Temi,” Deji said. “Tayo
was telling us about your
escapades.”
“His name is Arnold.” I said.
“What kind of name is
‘Arnold’? this kpako boy?” Ayo
said, punching Arnold on the
shoulder. “I prefer Tayo jo, Its
fine, like my name.”
They all laughed and
continued to gist. I looked
around for Sola and found her
in the kitchen with my mom.
She appeared more cheerful
and she smiled at me as I
approached them.
“It’s so good to see you,
dear!” Mum said, hugging me
again. “When the earthquake
happened we tried calling
your number or the school
principal’s but nothing was
going through. Signals only
started coming about an hour
ago. Sola was just telling me
about the earthquake and
how you people managed to
reach here.”
“Yeah, it was Grace that
brought us here o,” I said and
smiled at Sola. The thought of
losing Bimpe was still on my
mind but I had to keep a
brave face for Sola, she looked
more devastated than anyone
else. Mum saw the look in my
eyes and smiled
encouragingly.
“Your friends can stay here, let
us call and contact their
people to come and collect
them. It’s not safe going out
again o. Those things are
terrible.”
“But mom, what are they or
who are they?”
“Under-dwellers, didn’t Ayo
gist you?” Deji said, coming
into the kitchen. “Don’t worry,
let me put on the gen then I’ll
tell you what has been
happening!”
Deji passed us and went
outside to put on the
generator. It came on and he
went back in and turned on
the television.
“Trust Americans, Cable News
Network is still showing. Our
local channels are not
working again, everybody has
taken off. To your tent’s oh
Israel.”
“Everyday CNN gives us news
update on what is
happening.” Ayo said. “During
the last tear they came up
from the holes in the ground
and
started attacking everybody.
Before then there were all
those disappearances…”
“Yes, ehen, Let me tell her.”
Deji said. He looked very
excited. “Remember that
plane that disappeared a few
days ago? They finally found it
at the bottom of the Sea in the
South Pacific. When they
brought it up and opened the
doors, there was nobody
inside, only clothes!”
“And ashes.” Ayo cut in.
“Yes, and Ashes. A whole
plane, with no structural
damage of any kind, no
engine trouble of any kind,
the black box didn’t show any
mishap apart from the record
of the strange thing that was
approaching them that CNN
reported that day. There was
no explanation for the
missing people.”
“And then it happened again.”
Ayo said. “Another plane went
missing and then a ship
crashed into the Chinese
harbor, nobody on board, only
clothes and ashes.”
“Rapture?” Arnold gasped.
“No, Tayo.” Deji said. “Well
honestly nobody knows oh,
but this is not how the Bible
said things will end na, abi?”
“And if it was rapture, some
people would have been
taken and some would have
been left behind, you know,
like it says in the bible.” Ayo
said.
“Since when did you start
reading bible?” I asked Ayo,
amazed.
‘’Since that day we were both
outside, sis.” Ayo said quietly.
“I told you something big was
going to happen.
The television screen came to
life and I was amazed at how
‘normal’ everything looked.
The CNN reporter looked so
composed as she read out the
latest on world events around
the globe and it was only
when the camera switched to
the next scene that I started
understanding the full extent
of the devastation we were
experiencing. The last time I
saw so many destroyed
buildings in the US was when
Hurricane Katrina struck. This
was far worse. Whole sky
scrapers had collapsed to the
ground and their magnificent
bridges had fallen into the
sea. It was the same in other
continents and countries.
There was worldwide
devastation. Many of the
collapsed buildings shown
were on fire. Reporters on the
scene showed people taking
shelter in makeshift camps
and underground subway
stations and buildings,
surrounded by nervous
looking soldiers.
The Newscaster was talking,
“In related News, the entire
continent of Australia is said
to be tilting at an upward
angle. Geologists are at a loss
as how to explain this…”
“It IS the end of the World.”
Sola said.
We all stood, dumbstruck,
before the television. James
and Emobor were on their
feet and Arnold sat on the
small couch. Sola stayed at the
dining table with my mum.
“The Under-dwellers say they
will not relent in their attack
on humanity, insisting that it
is their time to occupy the
Earth according to an
Agreement. We take you now
live to Guantanamo Bay where
the interrogation of some of
these beings that were
captured has been going on
in earnest.
The screen switched to
another scene where one of
the creatures sat in a plain
room surrounded by three
American soldiers. Another
American in a suit sat in the
chair opposite the creature
with some documents. The
creature had been handcuffed
and it rested its hands on the
table. Every once in a while it
would look around the room
it was being held in with huge
black eyes, but said nothing. It
looked weak.
“Trust these Americans, they
have probably dealt with this
one very well.” Deji said.
“Once again,” The American
was saying, “Why are you
attacking the surface world?”
The creature opened its
mouth and hissing sounds
came out. One of the soldiers
quickly pressed an electronic
machine that served as a
translator and a mechanical
voice ensued from it.
“We are not attacking your
world, we are salvaging what
we can. You destroyed your
world, not us.”
“Explain.” The American
commanded.
“Your drilling, bombing and
exploring have weakened the
deep pillars of the Earth. Your
constant search for oil, your
testing of your nuclear
weapons, your undersea
bombings and mining, all have
come together to seal your
doom. When you sons of
Mradan choose the surface
and relinquished the bowels
of the Earth to us, you agreed
to give it up after a time, two
times, and half a season had
passed. We, the keepers of the
pillars of the Earth have
waited long, we have kept our
part of the agreement, and we
did not disturb you despite
your constant breaching of
our boundries to steal our
black gold and scarce
minerals. We held our peace.”
The creature sighed and kept
quiet. The American nodded
and one of the soldiers
stepped forward and struck
the creature on the head with
his gun. The creature grunted
in pain.
“Continue.” The American
said.
“A few sea risings ago, three
of the main pillars that hold
the bowels of the Earth
collapsed on themselves. We
did what we could to salvage
the situation and then we
held a meeting. We decided
we had waited long enough,
more than three thousand
years, for the surface dwellers
to fulfill their part of the
agreement. The time for the
changeover of power has
long passed. You will lie and
say you have forgotten the
agreement, that your history
has no record of this and we
will not be surprised for you
surface dwellers are a crafty
lot. The end of the world is
here and we will not die like
worms in the soil. We will take
what we can and enjoy it
while we can. Your blood is
rich in Iron and we need it to
survive. We will take it. Your
clothing and belongings are
the spoils of war and we will
acquire it.”
“Are you the ones responsible
for the disappearances?” the
American asked
The creature looked up at the
ceiling for a moment, then
into the camera as if looking
into our home and addressing
us face to face.
“Not we, but Him. HE has
collected his own. The rest, by
rights, belong to us.”
Tbc

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