It was a Sunday evening, we were returning from a camping trip in the family’s mini bus. The sweet sound of Jazz music filled the air. The windows were wound down as the relaxing air of the expressway filled my lungs.
‘Hmm…this was what I loved about the road’.
We were almost approaching town when it came out of nowhere. A herd of cows appeared to be crossing the road, they were almost twenty in number. My dad hit the brakes and muttered under his breath. My five year old brother looked amused. Suddenly, we heard a man shouting from the other side of the road, his words were somewhat inaudible and all what we could hear was, ‘turn back! turn back!’
We had no idea why but my father quickly reversed the car in the other direction. I turned to look at what we were running away from, I saw a man giving orders, he seemed angry. I saw two men enter a red Toyota car. They had already seen us! My mother gave instructions to buckle up. We did, and my dad sped off, the car was on it’s highest speed that it could almost fly. The men in the red car followed in hot pursuit.
My brother froze on his seat, I closed my eyes tightly, while my mother chanted prayers. A gun shot was fired, directed at the tires, another gun shot and my father lost control of the wheels. More gunshots. The car swerved off the road and landed on it’s sides, then all was quiet. They must have thought we were all dead and turned back.
I opened my eyes, the bus was filled with shattered glass, my brother was crying profusely, I checked the front seat….my parents….they were both dead, lying in the pool of their own blood. I was numb, my mind could not process what had just happened. Except for the tiny bruise on my head and my brother’s leg that was broken, my brother and I were alright. I tried to console my brother but he was inconsolable, then I heard footsteps. They are coming back!, they must have heard my brother’s crying.
I dragged us out of the wrecked car, carried my brother on my back and ran as fast as I could. Our attackers started to pursue us. What did they want?,why were they still pursuing us?, they could take whatever they wanted in the car and leave us alone, I thought to myself.
It was getting dark now. It was becoming more stressful to carry my brother and run at the same time. I could see a clearing just ahead. I should get there, maybe I would see a street, a house, maybe I could get help. The men were fast approaching. I decided it would be wise to rest and seek cover behind the trees and the tall grasses. The darkness also provided a good cover. Thankfully, my brother had stopped crying now.
I was right, one of the men, the hefty one, ran right past us, the other man who was tall and scrawny, got to where we were and stopped. He paced around like a dog trying to sniff out something. He signaled to the hefty one.
“I can sense them, they are here, search for them!, baba said we need as many bodies as possible for the sacrifice”, he said.
On the grasses where we hid, behind the trees, I saw what looked like a long black rope. It was moving towards us. A snake! It had a narrow head with relatively large eyes. The mamba! I read about this particular specie once and what I read was not reassuring at all. It had a venom that was very potent, a human bitten by a mamba may die unless treated with antivenin. I was still, so was my brother. I held my breath, my lungs frozen. The snake reared it’s head and made it’s strike at my brother’s leg. I held my brother’s mouth to stifle his scream. He tightened his grip on my hand. A gunshot rang and disturbed the stillness of the place, that must have scared the snake away as it retreated back into the grasses.I quickly tied up the place where it had bitten my brother to prevent the venom from spreading.
After what seemed like hours of frantic search for us, the men finally gave up. I quickly stood up when I was sure they were gone, and scanned the area. I rushed back to meet my brother,
‘Look ! they are gone, we are safe’, I said to him.
There was a look of terror in his eyes as he lay there. The pain was excruciating. Not knowing what to do, I knelt down and held him, tears trickled down my face,
‘It’s going to be fine, you will be fine…’, was all I could say.
Words I didn’t believe myself.
How can it be fine?, we had just lost our parents, we are in the middle of no where and he was dying. He smiled at me, you know the situation where the pain was so intense that you didn’t have the strength to cry anymore, my brother could not wail anymore, he just laid in my arms, fear visible in his eyes. I snuggled him closer and gently sang him a lullaby song as I watched the last piece of my existence slip away.