Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 22

I went to the parlor and saw
Dad sleeping on the Sofa and
mum sitting beside him. The
generator was still on and
mum had arranged the
standing fan to blow on dad
as he slept. She nodded at me
and got up, going into the
kitchen to prepare supper. I
wondered where she was
getting the zeal from to cook
all this food. I think she was
trying to use cooking to get
our predicament out of her
mind. I sat beside dad and
enjoyed the cool air from the
fan with him.
The television was tuned to
CNN and they were repeating
most of what we had heard
or seen before, the vanishing
people, the interview or
interrogation of the Under-
dweller, the vanishings from
the planes and ships and
other moving craft. An update
showed that Australia had
been torn into four parts by
the earthquake and one part
had been completely
submerged by the sea. As the
helicopters circled around and
showed the carnage and
destruction I was shocked at
how the world had
degenerated. People were not
even interested in helping
others, just themselves as they
scrambled to save their lives.
One scene showed a man
sitting on top of his house
which was floating in the sea
and the helicopters being full
couldn’t rescue him. He waved
at them until he was out of
sight.
I picked up the remote and
changed the channel. Sky
news and other channels
were showing essentially the
same thing. I tuned once
more to
NTA and was surprised to see
CNN reruns showing there. At
least it showed someone was
there and trying to get things
up and running.
“Dad? Dad!”
Deji’s voice shot through the
house like a bazooka. We
were all on our feet at once,
Dad limping and jumping
hurriedly to the room and me
running into mum’s arms. I
heard Deji’s voice loud and
clear:
“They aren’t going to make
it!” Then- “Is that a baby on
his back?”
“Get my other rifle.” Dad’s
voice sounded very firm.
“Check under the bed. Quick!”
I heard some noise as the bed
was pushed aside and then
some silence, and then a loud
bang as Dad let off a shot.
Mum held me tighter as I
screamed and another shot
went off.
“You got them! Quick, there
are more running towards
Tayo!”
Arnold?
I pried myself loose from my
mother’s arms and ran to the
front door, throwing it open
in a fit of madness.
Ayo, Arnold and James were
running with all their might
towards the house. Ayo had
something strapped to his
back and I was trying to make
out what it was when I saw
what was making them run
so fast.
There must have been more
than a hundred of them. A
whole crowd of them
pursuing hotly and slowly
catching up. The sun had
gone down
considerably and was not
affecting them at all. I gasped
as Ayo stumbled but steadied
himself. The thing he was
carrying was slowing him
down.
There was no way he would
have used his gun, they were
just too many.
A group of them broke off
and went after James who
suddenly swung around,
using a big stick to defend
himself. They backed off but
began pursuit again. Arnold
suddenly looked up and saw
me. He shouted and waved as
a group of them rushed
towards him.
A gunshot from dad’s rifle and
the one closest to Arnold fell
to the ground.
“They are not going to make
it!” Deji shouted.
Ayo suddenly stopped and
handed his burden to Arnold.
It struggled in their hands and
I realized it was a baby. Ayo
screamed something at
Arnold and Ayo and they
resumed running while Ayo
stood his ground behind
them, brandishing a gun and
his cutlass.
They surrounded him,
allowing Arnold and James to
go. I watched in horror as
they started taunting him,
striking at him with their
swords and spears. Ayo
pointed the gun and shot into
the sky and they withdrew a
little. Then he threw the gun
on the ground.
“He’s out of bullets!” Deji
shouted.
He ran out of the room and
went to the kitchen to grab a
knife. He would have run out
the door if Mum had not
clung, screaming, to him.
“Leave me! Mom!”
I just stood there at the door,
from the corner of my eye
watching Arnold and James
approaching and in the
background Ayo parried with
one of the under-dwellers.
They were obviously more
skilled with such weapons
and soon Ayo clutched at his
arm in pain as his cutlass
went flying uselessly into the
air. The one that had
overpowered him rushed
forward to finish him when
he suddenly jerked backwards
and fell dead to the floor.
We all turned in amazement to
where the gunshot had come
from. Out from behind the
huge pile of Chief Akpati’s
house’s ruins, a large group of
our local vigilante emerged,
adorned for battle. They were
joined by others who had
been watching the scene from
their tents and ruins. Old men,
young boys, strong youth,a
anyone who could walk and
carry a weapon joined the
vigilantes. Some of them
carried rifles and Dane guns,
others came with machetes
and heavy sticks. Some held
leaves in their mouths and
others had tied certain
strange things to their waists,
probably amulets and charms.
They charged forward,
shooting and shouting as they
went.
The under-dwellers seemed to
welcome the challenge.
Apparently they seemed to
enjoy combat. They
abandoned Ayo and charged
to meet the vigilantes and
soon they clashed together in
a confused tumble of
gunshots, dust and clanging
metal.
Arnold and James ran up to us
and Arnold handed the baby
over to my mother.
“We saw her on the road and
couldn’t leave her…”
“My mom carried the baby
and backed it without
question.
“I’m going back!” James
shouted wildly. “I’m going to
avenge Emobor!”
“Wait, leave it to the men!” My
mom shouted, but he was
already running back to the
fight.
Arnold looked at me. Dad had
left the room and was
standing at the entrance of
the house with Deji, Mom and
I.
“I have to go back too.” He
said.
“It is not necessary, Tayo.” My
Father said.
Arnold smiled. “I won’t be able
to live with myself if I don’t
help out in this fight now. I
am a man just like those boys
there. We are all struggling to
survive and I must help in any
way that I can.”
I was numb. I felt a strong
foreboding and held Arnold’s
hand.
“Don’t go!” I said. “Arnold,
stay here.”
“See this girl, are you forming
you like me now?” He
chuckled. Then he suddenly
leaned forward and kissed me
on the lips.
And yes it was my first kiss.
And yes even in the heat of all
that was going on, it was all I
hoped it would be.
Time must have stood still
because it felt that we had
been kissing forever even
though in reality it must have
lasted only a few seconds.
When his lips left mine and I
opened my eyes I almost wept
as I realized once again the
situation we were in.
“Call me Tayo.” He said. “I like
it.”
“Tayo.” I echoed.
Arnold took a step back,
suddenly realizing my Dad had
been there the whole time.
“Sorry Sir.” He said.
MY dad grunted but said
nothing.
“Let me go and help your
brother.” He said and ran back
towards the fighting, picking
a shovel at the sode of the
road as he went.
My dad had a firm hand on
Deji.
“Your brother is representing
our family there. There’s no
need for you to risk your life
as well.” He said.
“But…”
“If anything happens to you
who will take care of your
mom and sister? Me with this
my broken leg? No, son, you
are not going anywhere.”
I must have stood at the door
for a while because the next
thing I knew, mum was
touching my shoulder and
leading me inside the house. I
followed her, albeit reluctantly.
I couldn't even make out
anybody’s face again in the
fight as the tears now
running down my cheeks had
blurred my sight.
*
DAY 2: EVERYTHING WRITTEN
Yes, today I have been writing
everything that has been
happening for the past one
week. Nothing much has
happened today. The third
tear is yet to come but there is
this deep low rumble that is
being heard all over the world,
here included. Scientists are
saying this last tear will be
massive. Even the Under
dwellers seem to know
something big is coming. They
have not attacked at all today.
There is no wind outside. The
Sun has been up all day, not a
single cloud in the sky. On any
other occasion it would have
been a bright and sunny day
with children playing in the
fields and neighbors washing
clothes and gisting with each
other. But now the fields are
desolate, completely empty.
Apparently the snakes come at
night and mop up all the
havoc done, all the blood spilt,
and all the bodies unclaimed.
Anyone looking at the fields
today will not know anything
happened there the day
before. It’s an eerie feeling.
I’m still writing.
Mom has given the baby to
one of the neighbors, a
woman who lost her child in
all the confusion. She took the
baby gratefully. Mom has
changed Dad’s bandages and
started him on antibiotics.
They giggle and laugh
together like teenagers, it’s
like the stress of the past few
days have brought them even
closer together. I’m happy for
them. The only thing that
annoys me is that anytime I
come out of my room to see
what’s going on they start
speaking in hushed tones, like
they are saying something
they don’t want me to hear.
I’m fine, really.
Deji is like the housekeeper.
He keeps taking short trips
out to scanvenge for food,
fuel and other items. Once, he
went as far as downhill to get
some stuff from a
supermarket. He came back
with a lot of chocolate for me.
Usually I wouldn’t have eaten
the chocolate, would have
been scared of getting fat or
something. Guess it’s not
much of a problem now.
Ayo has been organizing the
youths as many of them were
impressed with the way he
fought yesterday. A few of his
suspicious friends came over
to the house to see him but
he avoided them until they
grew impatient and cornered
him at the door. I snuck to the
master bedroom to eavesdrop
through the crack in the wall.
“So what do you say?” the
first one says. “You can’t just
start leading this group
without registering with our
oga.”
“Yes oh, you must respect oga
oh.” The second one
interjects.
“Look, I didn’t ask for this
leadership.I can step down if
that is what you people
want…” Ayo says quietly
“No, no no.” First says. “See,
the whole country is upside
down, many of our guys got
killed or missing in this matter
and a lot of finances were lost.
All we are saying is you
impose some kind of levy for
being the leader of the
vigilante group…”
“It’s not really a vigilante
group” Ayo says
“…and bring the money to our
oga and we all share it!” first
finishes and laughs. “Guy, why
are you being so stubborn
about this matter? Join you no
join, give us our cut you no
give, na wa oh!”
“Look, cant you see what is
going on around us is more
than this,now?” Ayo raises his
voice a little. “The end of the
world is near and you guys
are not thinking of how much
people are suffering its to
come and be looking for how
to collect tax…”
“Oga said we should we
should come and collect, abi
should we question him?”
Second says.
“Maybe I need to speak with
Oga myself then.” Ayo replies.
Immediately there is an
awkward silence. I shift a bit
to make myself more
comfortable. Nothing is said
for a long time. Then:
“You are not calling anybody;
just do as you are told! This
stubbornness is what I don’t
like. We have delivered the
message to you. Find us the
cash by this evening or else.”
“Leave am, na only mouth e
get, if I shock am now e go
begin dey shake!” Second
says.
Then they walk away. There
are three of them. The third
guy said nothing throughout.
I confront Ayo in the corridor.
“Tell Dad.” I say, simply. "Mum
must have let him know what
was going on with you
already anyway."
“No she didn't. In the
confusion she forgot. and it's
really not necessary, those
guys are just touts looking for
who to bully.” Ayo replies.
“Why didn’t you join them,
Ayo?” I ask. Ayo raises his
eyebrows and I add quickly,
“Not that I want you to join
bad gang, it’s just, I was
wondering , if you were so
secretive in not telling
anybody your problem all this
time, you might have joined
and we wouldn’t even know.
Why didn’t you join?”
“Because I don’t want to.” Ayo
says. “I know I am the quiet,
sometimes aggressive senior
brother and I can be secretive
at times, but it doesn’t mean I
don’t know what is right from
wrong.”
“How did Tayo die?”
The words escape my lips
before I can stop them. But
now that I have asked I stand
my ground, not budging until
I get an answer. Ayo sighs.
“It all happened so quickly. He
was really brave and fought
like someone who had been
fighting all his life. He used a
shovel, you see. I was
swinging a machete one of
the vigilantes had dropped
and the last I saw him in
action he was fighting a very
large and strong one of the
under-dwellers who was
swinging a club. I rushed to
help him but it was too late…”
“Go on.” I said. “I want to
hear it.”
“The Under-dweller smashed
his head in. By the time I got
there he was on the floor with
blood gushing out of his
forehead and soaking his
uniform…there was o much
blood…I tried to get him out,
see if he was still breathing or
something but he didn’t
respond. I’m so sorry sis.”
Tears had started flowing
down my eyes again but I
wiped them away.
“Isn’t there maybe a chance…”
I begin but Ayo stops me by
raising his hand.
“No. he wasn’t moving at all,
Temi. And the Snakes don’t
leave anything by morning.
I’m sorry but you have to
accept he is gone and move
on.”
“And James?” I suddenly
remember him, but Ayo
shakes his head.
“I didn’t see him. Hopefully he
made it but then he would
have come back here so I’m
not optimistic.
He pats me comfortingly on
the shoulder and leaves.
Tbc

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