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Swing Episode 2: Last Night Was Five Years Ago

There’s blood everywhere. It screams out to me from the cocoa yam leaves by the side of the road, from the tires of the black Camry, from the black tar of the highway.

But it seems like I’m just getting started. See I’ve still got like six more of them to face. Six more guys that are as tall as goliath holding machine guns that belong in Iraq.

“See this small boy! Na you get jazz abi? You go die!” yells one of them as he places me in the cross hairs of his pump action rifle.

Are you lost right now? Do you wonder how we got here? Well then here’s how it all started.

---The Good Samaritans---

I walked down the lonely highway with only the occasional cry of wild birds to keep me company. Perhaps in another situation or in a time before the last twenty four hours, I would have been bothered by the stillness of the road.

Maybe every rustle from the roadside forest would have made me jittery. But I was too lost in thought to care. Trying to figure out how you are still alive can be a very distracting activity. And that’s what I was busy doing, all the long miles that I walked.

I mean, can you blame me? None of it made any sense. But I started to pay more attention to my surroundings when the sun rose up. Seeing the golden fellow made me happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of the sun. I don’t think any Nigerian loves the sun. But the dawn had been too much of a downer. I guess I was just grateful for the warmth and the colour.

It put a spring in my steps and I playfully whipped my machete against the roadside grasses. But this elation did not last for long.

Have you ever tried filling a cup of water with a teaspoon? Well I don’t think you have because then you’ll be insane. That’s what trekking down this road felt like.

It seemed like the road extended itself the farther I walked. The strange thing was that I did not feel tired. My legs did not ache me and I was not out of breath. I was just bored of the long walk.

I mean how was I going to find my way home? I could feel my despair slowly rising up like poison through the blood.

I decided to run instead of walk; anything to shorten the distance right? But a loud prolonged hum made me stop. I turned to see a fuel tanker charging down the road.

I waved my hand frantically but the driver paid me no attention. Vraam! The tanker roared and enveloped me with a gust that sent me stumbling back into the bush. 

He must have been moving too fast to see me, I thought as I glumly watched the vehicle’s taillights get lost in the horizon.

Great, I mused continuing my Israelite journey. But the sound of another oncoming vehicle made me pause. I turned to see that it was a Volkswagen Beetle, one of those cars that belong in a museum.

An old man was in the driver seat. I waved my hand to flag him but he kept his gazed fixed ahead. The car wasn’t even moving that fast. It was a beetle afterall.

“Really, you can’t see the teenage boy trying to get a lift?” I called out to him as his car breezed past me but he acted like I was invisible or something.

“You’re what’s wrong with this world!” I said and sat down by the roadside while I casually stroked my machete on the coal tar.

If only I had my phone on me. Maybe I was just being lazy afterall people hiked for miles with luggage strapped to their backs and I wasn’t even tired yet.

With such thoughts in mind, I rose up, now determined to put in some serious effort, if not for anything, for my dear mother. Another car approached from behind but I paid it no attention.

I had lost whatever was left of my faith in humanity. The vehicle slowed down beside me but I kept on walking without so much as a slight turn of my head.

“Hey, boy with the cutlass. Are you some kind of badass or something?” said someone from the car.

Now that I thought of it, maybe the cutlass was the reason for my dashed hopes of getting a free ride. Nah, people are just mean. I glanced at the vehicle (it was a blue Mercedes) and noted the tenants.

There were about five youths, two boys and three girls. One of the boys was the one driving.

“I need to get home.” I said.

“He speaks.” gasped a girl from the backseat.

Were they high? I wondered, noting the way they spoke and the glassy looks their eyes carried. I didn’t have to wonder too much. The guy in the passenger seat quickly smoked a joint and passed it to one of the girls. Wow, I mused, shaking my head.

“Do you people have a death wish?” I asked.

“Uh, do you wanna get a ride?” asked the other girl.

“I don’t think he wants a ride.” The driver said and started to ride off.

“Hey wait. I’m sorry okay, smoke all you want. Please don’t leave me here.” I called after them.

The vehicle stopped and came back towards me.

“Please don’t leave me here.” The driver teased “you are such a baby. Get in before I change my mind.”

Thank God for junkies, I mused and got in.

“Why is your cutlass stained with blood?” asked the other guy. He didn’t even look at me when he asked. His gaze was towards the car roof and just like his buddies; his speech was slurred like someone about to sleep.

“Uh…it’s a long story.” I said.

“K” he said and casually drummed against the car roof.

“So where are you guys heading to?” I asked.

“School duh. We went for a party in Port Harcourt.” said one of the girls.

Judging from their obvious insanity and their crazy fashion sense, if I was to take a guess I would say they were from Unilag. They were just like my elder brother, Derrick. 

  “So I’m guessing by school you mean Unilag.” I said.

“You know for a weird kid with a cutlass, you’re kind of smart.” The girl said.

   The car slowed down, shifting our attention to the highway.

“Oh great a roadblock,” the boy said “quick hide the weed.”

I’ve never seen people move so fast. They shuffled all the cellophanes and placed them in a hatch in the car floor. I had a feeling they fashioned that compartment specifically for the safekeeping of their precious weed.

Now that I really looked, the police officers manning the road block seemed kind of strange. Weren’t they supposed to wear uniforms? And there was only one car in front of us, a black Gulf car. Its four doors were wide open.

One of the officers walked towards our car. He held his rifle in a manner I decided was a bit too threatening for my comfort. On seeing his red eyes, I could tell that this was no police officer.

“All of you step out of the car and put your hands on your head!” he barked.

 “Shit,” said the boy in the driver seat.

“Why is the police man so angry with us?” asked the girl beside me.

“Yea he’s got like temper issues or something.” said the other boy.

If we weren’t at gun point at the time, I would have laughed my ass off. These morons were so high, they didn’t realize they were about to be robbed or worse, much worse.

The girl came out first, with her hands behind her head. She could not even stand straight; she kept pacing from side to side and whistling.

“You stand still or I’ll blow your head off you *censored*” The robber said.

Sorry If I censor some words. Like I said before, I’m only sixteen, I don’t curse. Anyway I stepped out of the car too, pulling my machete with me.

“Hoi! Drop the cutlass.” The fellow yelled at me.

I don’t know why I felt so nonchalant but my zero chill was so strong it was sub-zero. I really didn’t give a *censored*.

I started to stroll away, thinking how annoying it was that I was back to trekking down the wearisome road.

“Stop right there you *censored*” the fellow roared and cocked his rifle. I think I heard him pull the trigger, although that makes no sense.

Have you ever watched Spiderman? I mean the first one, where Toby acted. If you haven’t then you’re weird.

Anyway, remember where the bully was about to punch Peter Parker and everything slowed down? You know; paper plane in mid-air, housefly floating, and then the punch?

Remember the way Peter saw the punch coming it seemed like slow motion? Well that’s exactly what happened the moment I heard the robber pull the trigger.

There was just that slowing of time. I turned and actually saw the bullet emerging from the barrel of his gun!

Instinct or something made me place my cutlass in the bullet’s path. Just like that, the bullet bounced back and went clean through the robber’s forehead.

You know for a moment, the fellow did not even know he was dead. Another robber who was as massive as the incredible hulk and had the angry face of a mad man, charged at me, with the intention to shoot.

Swing went my cutlass before he could pull the trigger. We all watched his arm fly to the other side of the road.

“Hooooor!” he yelled as his eyes almost popped out when he saw the blood oozing from his stump.

“See this small boy! Na you get jazz abi? You go die!” yelled another of his companions who came to place his pump action in my face.

And that’s how we ended up in this volatile situation.

---The Butchery---

There is something really fascinating about having a gun stare you in the face. I mean, you can tell that you are staring at something with the power to end you.

And judging from the look the robber is giving me, he has every intention of pulling that trigger. I turn to gaze at the butchered arm that had fallen to the side of the road.

His gaze follows mine. I smile, hopefully he gets the message. He doesn’t. The idiot pulls the trigger. And just like that again, I swing my machete. Vwa it goes, faster than a whiplash.

I do not even wait for his arm to fall before sending his head to escort his arm. There is something about this moment. It’s like red is the only colour I know and blood is the only smell there is.

I want more, I can’t stop. I approach the rest of the hoodlums who seem so dazed, they can’t even move. All of a sudden, they start fiddling with their guns, desperate to load them. Too late, I’m already there. One raises his hands up.

“Chill, chill, chill,” he raps out.

Like I said, I can’t stop. I cut him down from the waist with one swing. My cutlass must be freaking sharp because it’s so easy to cut. It’s like they’re made of butter.

And then the others start to run, the three remaining. They run in different directions, one just darts down the highway. Another one scurries to the left side of the road, disappearing into the bush and the third one follows suit.

I turn to the college students who stand huddled together, gaping at me. Why are they watching me like that? I come closer to them.

I can’t explain it but for some reason, my anger seems to be intensified. Why are they watching me like that? I pick up my pace as I walk towards them.

“Are you going to kill us?” asks one of the girls.

And then I stop. I realize that my cutlass is lifted. I drop it slowly and shake my head.

“No, I’m not going to kill you. Can you take me home please?”

 

---The Unpleasant Surprise---

They don’t seem to be interested in the weed anymore. The whole Mercedes is silent. Well at least we’re alive. As we speed down the highway, leaving the Gulf car and the carcasses behind, I try not to think about what just happened.

It’s not that I feel guilty, maybe I should but I don’t. I avoid thinking on it because; it would deepen my sense of confusion. I mean, I still cannot explain how I’m alive and then how did I do all that you know? Crap, I’m thinking on it, aren’t I?

“Where is home?” One of the girls ask me.

You know what? I’m just going to ask for her name so that I can stop calling her ‘one of the girls’. Don’t you think so?

I turn to her “what’s your name?”

“Huh?” she asks like I mistakenly spoke the question in Chinese or something.

“What’s your name?” I ask again.

“Oh um…Mena.” she says.

I lean forward to ask the other girl, the one sitting closest to the door.

“What’s your name?” I ask her.

“Lisa,” she says rubbing her head.

“Are you having a headache?” I ask her.

She shakes her head “no.”

“And my name is Segun,” says the guy driving.

“Harry.” Says the guy sitting beside me.

Okay, now we know all their names. What did Mena ask me again? Okay yes. I turn to her.

“I live in Benin, close to Uwasota. Would you guys pass there?”

Mena looks to Segun. Segun nods rapidly.

“Yes, totally. We’ll definitely pass there.”  He says.

You know, they’re all acting kind of weird. I prefer them when they were stoned. Fortunately we soon get to a place I recognise. I think it is airport road. Here comes another police check point in front.

“You probably should hide your cutlass.” Mena says to me.

“Why? I don’t care.” I say.

“They could arrest all of us.” Mena persists.

I sigh and place the cutlass under the foot mat. Lisa quickly puts her school bag on top of the foot mat. But it is all much ado about nothing because the police officers do not even bother to look in our car before sending us off.

A smile forms on my lips once we pass Ring Road. We are actually in Benin City. I’m actually home.

“How did you end up so far from Benin in your school uniform?” Mena asks.

“Do you really want to be asking him too many questions?” Harry says while the others try to look anywhere except me.

Now it finally dawns on me. These people are totally creeped out by me. I wish I could explain myself. Tell them I’m just a normal boy who had a bad day.

But then my cutlass is still dripping from the blood they just saw me shed. If I cannot convince myself that I am normal, what chances do I have of convincing them?

“We are getting close to Uwasota.” Segun says.

I leave my troubled thoughts and gaze out through the windshield. Yes we just passed the Catholic Church.

“Drop me here.” I say.

Lisa quickly snatches her bag from the foot mat. I pick my cutlass as Harry steps out of the car to create space for me to get down. On stepping down I give them one last look.

“Thanks a lot guys, you’ve been heaven sent.” I say.

Harry nods stiffly and gets back in the Mercedes. Before he even shuts the door, the car speeds off into the highway. They seem to be in such a hurry, I muse as I cross the road and go down my street.

Wait a minute, is this my street? Something insane is happening. There is a massive mall just at the entrance of the street and guess what? It wasn’t there yesterday!

Do you know how weird this is? Did it like, sprout out from the ground or something?

This cannot be my street. I look around in confusion. But that’s Uwasota over there and the filling station the other way…I walk up to a woman frying bole.

There is this wary look she gives me as I approach her. Now that I think of it, everyone is staring at me. I stop in my tracks, changing my mind. No need to ask her anything, I’d just walk down the road and see things for myself.

As I get closer to my compound, some people start screaming. The screams erupt from the small kiosks around. They’re not just screaming, some people are running.

I look around searching for the cause of the commotion but I can see nothing out of the ordinary. Whatever, I muse as I step into my compound. I knock on our front door.

“Who’s there?” my mother calls out, coming to open the door.

“It’s me mom.” I say as she opens the door.

How to describe the way she’s looking at me? She looks like she’s about to die. She covers her mouth and staggers back.

“Mom…” I say stepping towards her.

Wrong move. She lets out a loud shriek and runs down the corridor. She doesn’t stop running until she’s gone out through the back door.

Her reaction is a shock to me. Is there something strange about me? I go to the mirror beside our fridge and peer at it.

Okay, I look like hell. My uniform is dirty and wrinkled and there is some foliage in my hair and I’m holding a blood stained cutlass but is that enough reason for her to act like that?

Feeling rather dejected, I plump down on the sofa. There is something going on on Tv but I’m not interested. I just want to relax a bit.

“Mom you’re acting really weird.” I call out to her.

And then my eyes fall on the calendar behind the TV. I rise up slowly and step towards it. It’s a twenty-seventeen calendar. Why is there a twenty-seventeen calendar in our parlour?

I’m a bit amused as I pick up a phone from the centre table. I touch the screen and read the time. It’s a few minutes to five pm. That’s not weird.

It also says February fourteenth, twenty seventeen. Now that’s weird because if this phone is reading the time properly then that would mean that last night was five years ago.

 
 

I’m just Samuel, bony faced, laidback, absentminded Samuel. I don’t like to say much, I try to stay out of trouble. Some might say otherwise but that's some for you. Point is we don’t care, let’s just be chill and have fun. So come by whenever and ask me whatever.  It’s our party now and it won't start until your arrival.

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