(short story) When it was about 11:15 pm, then it was already late in the middle of the high way, surrounded by thickest forest in the world. The tarred road scrapped through this heavy forest in that western Africa. The little toyata car that has been crying on a run for more than 7 hours started it again.
In between the heat which is oozing out from the car and the whirling noise of the little car, it started to give in, reducing in speed again, as it pumps up and down. Though we carried quite enough loads that we need for this journey, especially our gallons of fuel, due to no filling station around this part of the world, but we still fall in to this car problem. We refill whenever we detect our fuel gauge going down. Up to two times we had refilled our tank and for quite sure we know that this is not a problem of chemical energy.
Now it’s going for its third halt due to engine problem as we believe. As we move, the forest moons, barks, whistles, shouts in its dark silhouettes and at the same time our car quarks in its struggle to obey me, the driver.
“We are denmed this night” Sule said, spotting all around into the heavy forest.
“Emeka…. why won’t we stop and check well on this” Usman said to me because am the driver just like i said before.
What was the fucking reason that made us to be in the middle of this heavy forest by the way?
We were told that we can get cheaper supplies of cannabis from the far end of the country, in which this root has been defined to us. We have been secretly dealing in cannabis of course, and this fetches us a lot of money, till we want to expand our market profit. We saw our guys in the same game who are now making more than we expected. Knowing full well that they have changed their root of supply, we asked, they told and here we are.
SULE:”We would have hit the jackpot before now if not for this car”
USMAN:”on our way back by now”
SULE:”not even by now….before twilight”
USMAN:”or shall we”
SULE:”You won’t give up on this”
“Are you going to stop in the middle of this fucked up night” I said on my steering.
USMAN:“But am somehow afraid this night“
USMAN: “eem… no am just having….em…..a wired feelings” [pushing himself down that his head would be barely seen from outside]
“No… Not now”
The statement ‘wired feelings’ sank in my head with a chilling shock of fear. Yes we’re at the middle of nowhere, where anything can happen to us without any atom of response.
The night grew up more and more as our light is piercing through the demon. Tones of different patch of darkness intensify it more and more, and deeper and deeper we move in.
I checked my watch on my left hand and it was 11:35 pm. We really know that we are still following the path defined to us.
Then it came, the noise, ‘wooooooooooooh……..wooooooooooooooh’ which has increased by that time. In between intervals of time it comes, ‘wooooooooooooh……..woooooooooooh……..woooooh’ from several points around us, as if some savages are passing messages from far distance to far distance. I looked back at Usman, he had already sank more into the seat, leaving small view of his head to be almost not seen from outside.
Yes by now Usman is not the only person because i was feeling like doing the same thing, if not that i was the driver.
USMAN: “like they are from human”
SULE: “I think so” [from his front seat]
Then our light shined on three ways lying in front of us after we have diverted out of the high way, into an untarred narrow road with tugs of weeds and potholes. The three paths are what we are not sure of which one to follow because we claim that they didn’t tell us about the tree division of track ways. We started arguing on which one to follow. But for sure we couldn’t remember whether they mentioned something like this. ‘But it’s dangerous out there’ is what i could recall that one of our guys said to us.
“Follow the left….. And avoid the middle and the right” Sule said as one face of the coin he threw up landed on the back of his right palm. Then i followed the left.
We saw for the first time an old man, and a small boy right beside him at the side of the ugly road waving at us. We looked at each other. But what is this old man doing with this boy at the middle of the night. But something is strange. They wave to us as if they a calling us back, as if they a saying to us not to go. I looked at Sule who looked back at me.
SULE: “keep on going”
Then i kept on going, also with the mind that we have lost our track. Then we began to see tatted residential huts around. Both left and right the huts flanks. In front of some of those huts were huge round object hanging on dried bamboos. Leathers of animal scattered around the base of each of the bamboos.
To concur with the dark events around, the car completed its want, stopped, and died. We came out, attended to our car ignited it and it answered us. But because we are tired, hungry and our car in heavy need to be repaired, we decided to carry the remnants of our car deep into the village we don’t know.
Our eyes met eye to eye, with intense surprised look from their eyes. Their skulls very dried of meat as if they had not eaten for days. On their tattered dresses they readjust back as i close in. I finally drew near an open ground of the village surrounded by huts. We all came down looking for a better house to go.
The noise is now more than before as the sound is scattered throughout the surrounding forest with the sounds of different tones of drums following them. I checked my time it was 11: 45.
“Pleasi haga haga dontu fia” the poor English accent came from my left, from a skinny young man in his early fifties, dressed better than others.
THE SKINNY MAN: “haga haga….They wa supri see you…..they willi na harmu you”
“Thank you sir” i said with relieve.
THE SKINNY MAN: “weli kam” [coming close to us with friendly gesture]
THE SKINNY MAN: “you travel distanci distanci…. weli kam ”
He came closer to me and embraced me without hand shake and so he did to Sule and Usman. The skinny man looked back and directed his look to a teenage boy almost wearing a rag, whom ran off and into one of the huts.
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May be he has sent him in to call others for us or to bring something for us, like food or any other special thing he wants us to see or feel. But for my mind, if the movement was for food, a woman would have been the one to do that for us. Eagerly deliberating on what fuck the sudden movement from the small boy would mean, i said “no” that I should not panic because it’s not a big deal.
THE SKINNY MAN: “haga some wani, did you comu to see”
For me, i was forced to understand the jargons coming out from the skinny man’s mouth. But the expression and body language displayed from Sule and Usman depicts that they barely understands the man.
SULE: “lead on bro” [stretching out his right hand towards the man]
“Yea…. something like that sir…but we missed our destination” i lead on.
The man started calling names of villages around.
THE SKINNY MAN: “you go whia…odofu…ikpanu or ogbonau”
“We are going to a village north east of this village…but its night and we need to rest before continuing”
The skinny man and his few other men who were once astonished to see us took us to that particular hut the teenage boy ran inside. As we were doing our observation, most of the young youth there were dress in costumed attire as if there was a big celebration that night. Some of them tie some bunch of strands of a special kind of yellowish fibre round their waste, with marks of white and black chalk around their bare muscular chest.
Surprisingly, most of their beautiful young ladies didn’t even care to know that they were going around with stack naked breast. But those young ladies were hiding themselves in their various huts, which was why I think we were seeing only some few men around us.
Again, the same bamboo stick with something bulk hanging on top was placed and at the left side of the same particular hut. I looked closer but i wasn’t show of what i saw. The skinny man looked at me and i felt he observed me.
THE SKINNY MAN: “haga , don wari we offer the head big monkey… as sacrifice to Obuntuwa”
THE SKINNY MAN: “Yee… the god placi…this placi”
About to enter the hut a girl from a far distance hut bent out and peeped from the lower door of the hut with her breast dangling all around. “howa howa” waving her hand as if she was whispering to us not to enter.
But we gently bent down our heads and entered.
But the hut wasn’t cool. Bones of which i believe were from the big monkeys were hung around the hut, and we can trace something smelling from the side where an ugly wooden bench were kept.
I looked at one end and i saw a long dagger stained with blood. Usman looked deep into my eyes and then i remembered that Usman was still with us. “Let’s leave here” Usman whispered. SULE: “don’t worry is not as bad as you think” [he whispered back to me and Usman]. It was like the man was detecting what was going on. THE SKINNY MAN: “haga , don wari…you know, you havi hunt and kill you monkeys” THE SKINNY MAN: “so we kill themi with our intrumen” We then were directed to seat at that particular bench that has some smell around. We chatted with the skinny man for a while whom where urging us to eat the meat they brought for us in ceramics plates. The kind of meat my mind tells me that i have never eaten. But how can you really detect the difference between meats when it was thoroughly cooked. All i could believe was that it’s the monkeys, the big monkeys. My guys were waiting for me to show leadership by example on the meats on the ceramics bowel…….
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On picking up one chunk of hot meat, the sound now came heavily. Right perfectly close to us.
It was heavy, really heavy, we heard them clearly, and clearly they were from human. I checked my time again it was now 11:57. My heart started pumping, why? I don’t know. I looked at Usman, oh my dearest friend; i hope the weirdness you said you were feeling while in the car wouldn’t mean anything.
The teenage boy that first ran into this hut, who has been there all these while now went to our back. What! Some more elderly men began to gather outside while those costumed young youth were getting wooden bench for them to sit down, as we observed through the window adjacent to the bench we were sitting on
THE SKINNY MAN: “haga , don wari…you know, it just a call for celebationi”
The man kept quiet, as quiet as a sleeping baby, his eyes now locked with my, no smile no laugh.
I looked again through the small window; it was one of those youth with some bunch of strands of a special kind of yellowish fibre tied round their waste. I checked my time it was 11:59:55 pm.
I looked at my friends whom all had already sunk into their spirits, then back to the strange man. The man quietly raised his head towards the teenage boy at our back.
It hit my head at once. The call, what the call means. As i was about to turn around to see what the boy at our back was doing, simultaneously he did it.
The teenage boy pulled out one long wood under the bench, and it was then that i noticed that the bench was kept under a mat.
We all gave in into the earth, exactly at 12:00. As we all were struggling to climb up, we were rolling around in dirt of blood and scattered human flesh. Of course nobody will tell you that they were all human flesh. Yes there was something around me, and i made a grip to see if it would help, but it was one long arm, dead but was still a little fleshy. On my struggle i remembered the bloody dagger at a corner, the bamboo and the chunk of object on top. Yes those chunk of objects where skull, human skull. But i pitied my dearest friends. Usman was already gaping on his breath as he was grabbing nothing but a pool of sticky blood.
Those youths were already around us. One of them with circular tattoo on his forehead raised it up and straight into the big hole. It was a dagger and it came with very high velocity, passing without any touch. I managed to climb out along side with SULE.
But the three of them were already at us, but we need to get Usman out as well. The one with circular tattoo reach me, but i managed to push him right to the far end of the wall. Sule knocked the second one down with flimsy bench that half went into the earth with us. And the third one, we pushed him into the hole, quickly rush to get out Usman before that third one comes around. Because we know it’s really going to be bad for Usman, if he comes around.
Now, we started pulling Usman out, looking backwards for some more and at those at the ground. And yes we did it, Usman was out, we managed to pull him out.
But as we were trying to figure out what next, it happens. Suddenly one of the youths rushed in with his own long matchet, as sharp as a razor, and i can feel the sharpness. He bravely jumps up with his matchet raised high and unto us it lands. For the first time i experienced what i have never experienced in my life…………
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Next time on” Cannibal Call”. Watch out for script 4