(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.
Next time on” Cannibal Call”