I dove into a corner, just in time for the waft of a bullet to whiz past my ear. That was the second time I had miraculously been saved from a bullet that night. I was scared to my bones and my legs were buckling under me, ready to give way at any point to my already tired body. I crept towards a tree to catch my breath. We had been pursued for almost an hour now and air was coming in limited amounts. Suddenly I heard a voice “Hey guys! I have caught one of them rats”. Another voice was pleading and crying for mercy. It was unmistakable, a voice I’d recognize any day. It was my friend Darius. I could hear footsteps running towards the direction of the voices. “Please guys” Darius begged, “Please, I wasn’t the one that killed him”. “Shut up”, I heard another voice say, “today you and your kin will learn never to mess with us”. They dragged him to the middle of the path and began beating him. I stood up and looked through the leaves, trying to get a peek of what was happening to my friend. One of the assailants, a huge, dark guy struck him below the jaw with his boot, another one with a club was flogging his head with it. They were four in all and were all armed. Darius kept crying and pleading to their deaf ears, but they had better plans for him. I was shocked to my marrow, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The great Darius was crying and spilling his guts like a four-year old. Blood was everywhere and I believed at that point he was already aware of his inevitable end. The next thing I saw was terrible, they stopped beating him and withdrew a bit; all except the huge one. He’d drawn an axe and in a split-seconds, it was jammed into Darius’ head. Blood freely flowed onto the road just as tears quickly rolled down my eyes. He kept hacking at Darius’ body while the others laughed and cursed at the fleshy mess they had made. I pulled back, unable to control my tears. If thought I was scared before, after what I had just witnessed I now knew not only knew the real meaning of fear but also its scent; I could smell it over myself. The reality of my situation fully dawned on me. By now, they were through with Darius and had continued searching for us. “Go into the bushes” one of them barked, “those vagabonds are sure hiding there like scared rats which they are”.
Hearing this, I ran deeper into the bush; farther away from the voices. I ran and panted for breath which seemed to be in limited supply at the moment. In my head were so many confusing thoughts: how did it all get to this, would I have been in this mess, had I listened to my mum’s constant advice, what were those bloodshot animals going to do to me, if they found me, horrible flashbacks were returning from the murder I’d just witnessed. I was caught up in all these thoughts, I didn’t see a tree root that was stretched out in my path. I tripped and fell to the ground. My head was spinning and I was losing touch with my faculties. I could virtually hear my brain saying to my body “It is alright buddy, I will take it over from here”. I blacked out!
I don’t know for how long, but waking up was proof I’d not yet been found. I even would have preferred to stay out than regain myself into the consciousness of the horror that beclouded my situation. I was still very tired and my head was spinning; I felt a lump on my waist, not sure of what it was. I listened for sounds of my pursuers but no clear sound of their activities was hitting my ears. They might still be around; I thought to myself or they might have left, having grown weary from chasing us. I seriously wished it was the latter. The moon was bright (to my utmost detriment), the night was cold and the ground was damp. I tried to stand but a sharp pain shot through my leg towards my spine. I almost shouted out in pain but succeeded in subduing it to a mild shriek; being aware of my precarious situation. Now I understood what the lump was. My hip bone must have been shifted by the fall and at this point, using my legs for either standing or running was deleted from my limited list of options. I managed to pull my body up to a side of the tree, cursing it as I did. It was responsible for my immediate misfortune but was it? Thinking to myself as I safely hid away, I began to recall how I ended up in my present misadventure.
My dad had died four years ago and I didn’t take it too well. He had been my pillar and unlike most kids, I preferred him to my mum. My dad had been so prayerful and always taught me that bad things never happened to good people; yet he died after a brief illness. If he was good and prayerful, why would he die? I was devastated and my whole life took a downward swing. Nothing mattered to me anymore, I abandoned my academic and spiritual routine; never giving particular care to my books nor my soul. In school, I to discarded all my former friends & decided to be alone. That was when I met Darius. He was a smart guy who seemed to have all he wanted. He had a car, lived in an off-campus apartment only few guys in school could dream of affording, he had a litany of ladies following his trail and cared less about his academics because he had a few lecturers on his payroll. He evidently was from a very rich family and it was no news that he belonged to the ‘Black Axe’ one of the most dreaded confraternities on campus. Darius was very cheerful and was liked by almost everyone. Whenever he did come to class, he would move round, greeting people as he wished; guys and ladies alike. It was on one of those greeting rounds that he met me. Being so sullen, I cared less about anything happening around me but when he came around, there was this liveliness about him that I felt. He greeted me and asked what the matter was; I told him it was personal but on his insistence, I had to really tell him about my father’s demise. I mean, Darius was a guy you couldn’t reject easily. He felt my pain as he calmly sat beside me, downing in my sad story like a cold bottle of beer. After listening, he consoled and gave me some words of encouragement while giving me a drive home; after I accepted his request to do so. From that day, we became close pals and were almost inseparable. There was something about him that opened up a door closed by my father’s demise in a whole different way. I began living again. I was introduced to his rich life of extravagant spending, late night grooving and of course surplus ladies. It wasn’t long before he introduced me to most of his cult friends. By now, most of my former friends believed I’d become one of them and made extra effort to avoid me. My own mother had followed my rapid change and kept advising me against my new life and behavior but all her pleas fell on deaf ears. She had clearly run out of options and finally resorted to praying for me. I doubt if God heard her because the more she prayed, the worse I became.
One day Darius asked my help in collecting a package from a friend on my way home. He directed me on how to go about it. I was to meet some guy at a location he gave me; collect a ‘parcel’ as he called it and then bring it to him at a bar by 8pm. After collecting the package, I went home; from where I’d proceed to the bar. On my way home, I was surprised as to the weight of the parcel so I pried it open. I was shocked! It was a gun. Not like I’d not seen one before but I’d never held one as I did then. It looked so shiny and new. I didn’t know why Darius needed a gun and I didn’t even care. I was so pressed by the time I got home. I ran upstairs and dropped my bag on my bed, rushing as into the bathroom to eliminate the contents of my bladder. I felt so relieved but on walking out, I was shocked. My mum was in my room holding my bag and looking me straight in the eye. I knew she had come again for her usual admonitions but I hadn’t the time for any. It was already 7:45pm and I was in a rush to go meet Darius at the bar. “So you have started carrying a gun” she gently asked me, amidst tears. I was shocked; both at her invading my privacy and also discovering a gun in my possession (not like I cared much but even though I had turned bad, I still had a soft spot for my mum and didn’t want to hurt her. This recent discovery would surely do the contrary). Being in a haste & instead of trying to explain how the gun came to be in my possession, I took the easier way out. I flared up! Why would you enter my room without knocking, Mama? Why would you even search my bag in the first place? So one cannot have privacy anymore in this house? I snatched my bag from her and quickly rushed out of the house while she was still trying to speak to my already deafened ears. I could picture her slumping on my bed and sobbing terribly. What a pity! I had hurt my lovely mum again, but at least I had wisely evaded her admonitions and possible scolding. What mattered now was that I was out of the house, on my way to meet ‘the good life’ with Darius. I boarded a bike and was happily on my way to the bar.
I had just alighted from the bike and was now moving towards a section of the bar where I could see Darius with some of his cult friends and their ladies. I was already missing out on the fun. I smiled and waved back to Darius as he waved me towards their direction. That was when it happened, a black car pulled up immediately in front of the bar and as I turned to look at its occupants, a bullet flew past my face and struck one of Darius’ friends in the shoulder. The occupants of the car were now cursing and running towards us, shooting. Darius and five other of his friends quickly jumped over the low fence surrounding the bar and I reflexively followed suit. We ran in different directions into the surrounding bushes. I quickly got behind a tree; aligning myself to its trunk from where I had a clear view of the now deserted bar. The pursuers had gotten to the table occupied seconds ago by Darius and his friends. The only person still there was the one who had been shot in the shoulder, he was writhing from the pain. One of the assailants, a tall guy with a long mark across his forehead pulled his gun and shot him. I was entranced, this was a real hit. Another huge, dark one who seemed to be their leader barked out orders to the rest “Let none of them escape! I counted them and they were seven in number. From what we know, most of them lent out their guns so they are most probably unarmed” with this he began mentioning their names and ended with mine! I was bewildered, I wasn’t a cultist. Why would they include me on their hit-list? But that was a question for another day, my self-preservation instincts had already been set to auto-pilot. I turned and fled into the bush.
A close noise rouses me from my thoughts. Someone was coming towards me!
I was out of options, in fact I had only one! I pulled open the bag hanging from my shoulder that I had totally been oblivious of all the while. My only option was to pull out the gun which was still in it & put it to good use; before I was butchered like Darius; who knows, I might even save my life in the process!
Putting my hand into the bag, I felt something quite alright but it wasn’t a gun. I pulled it out. It was a bible. How it replaced my gun, I had not the faintest Idea. Oh my mum! I wanted to curse her deeply for eliminating my one chance of survival, only she could have pulled that kind of stunt. She must have replaced the gun with a bible while I was in the bathroom; after she discovered it in my bag. I was now hopeless, left with bible to defend my dying self. The footsteps drew closer. I had already resigned to my fate, let my assailants come, kill me and be done with it. All I prayed for was a quick death.
Another thought came to me, I could still open the bible and read it, at least to secure a good death; having realized the folly of my former ways. I opened the bible randomly to a page in Isaiah as I could read from rays of the clear moonlight that were filtering down through the leaves. It was incidentally the 55th chapter, my eyes drifted to the 7th verse. It read “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the lord and he will have mercy on hi.…” Just then, the person had come to where I was & was staring down at me. I looked up to see who it was; it was the guy with a scar across his forehead. I knew my time had finally come and I closed my eyes to receive my fate with the bible clasped to my chest. My eyes were still closed when I heard him shout out to someone else “there is no one here. Let us go, it is almost morning. Besides only one of them escaped, we’ve made a good kill tonight!” With that he turned and walked away……..My mum had just saved my life!!!