There was a stampede, hundreds of feet rushed past in the direction of the open fields, away from the city gates. Greed was evident in the eyes of the few that bothered to give him a cursory glance, not in any one did he see pity or a desire to help.
He winced as several pairs of feet trampled on him in their rush to get ahead of the others, and several others fell as they stumbled on his body lying on the floor. Several others had fallen too, pushed roughly by the throng coming behind. He saw a young girl not more than nineteen years lying a few feet from him with her hands raised up and a her lips parted to utter a weak cry for help that was muffled by the noise of people shouting and cursing and whooping. None listened. None cared.
He struggled to get up, lifting his head from the floor but he realized to his dismay that he couldn’t move his legs. He looked at his legs and a groan escaped his lips; his two legs were broken and the bones were jutting out from the skin. He lay back down waiting for the madness- because that was what this is- to be over and then perhaps someone would spot him and come to his aid.
The stampede had been caused by the news from two lepers that had arrived the king’s palace earlier that day. They told the king how in desperation they had decided to go to the Assyrian camp and turn themselves over resigning to the possibility of being killed. But they had been shocked to find the camp empty with all their supplies intact and garments strewn over like they had left in haste. The supplies were enough to feed the entire city for a month they said.
He had laughed at the lepers’ story, and had told the king that it was a ploy by the lepers to get some food from the king’s table. But the king would not hear of it, the event of the previous day was still fresh in his mind and he hoped this was a fulfillment of the good news that had been delivered by the seer.
He had laughed inwardly at the king. Just because an old fool and self acclaimed prophet had come barging into the king’s palace to declare that in a day’s time, there would be surplus of food in the city after months of famine, the king was ready to believe these rejects. Unlike the king and other chiefs present who had hung on every word the prophet had said, he had challenged him. Even if God were to open windows in heaven, he had told him to his face, it was impossible that there would be surplus of food in just a day.
The king had sent to confirm the news of the lepers and the messengers had returned stunned. There was no one in the Assyrian’s camp. They had gone further along the highway and saw that garments were strewn all over the roadside, like they were thrown aside in a haste to flee. It was a mystery. Why would the Assyrian army flee and from whom? They had also confirmed that the supplies they found in the Assyrian camp were enough to feed the whole city for months. That was when the news was circulated round the city and the stampede had begun. The king then appointed him to control the traffic and oversee the affairs at the gate.
Now he lay bleeding on the floor, and his eyes were struggling to stay awake. The words of the prophet were haunting him
‘’ You will see it with your eyes but will not eat of it’’
The words had sounded hollow and empty before, but the full import was now weighing on him; he was going to die. He was sure of it.
It was becoming more difficult to keep his eyes open and he surrendered to the darkness as it closed around him, the scurrying of feet and noise around him also began to fade. And the last word he remembered before breathing his last were
‘’By this time tomorrow, a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel’’