Author: Ubabuko Tito.
The police men gazed at Thomas, as he shivered in fear of what he had experienced. The fourteen years old lad was brought to the police station at the early hours of that Tuesday morning. Thomas still had fear in his eyes as he looked out of the window puzzled. Frightened of something the officers tried to find out. A case of this magnitude was the first of its kind these police men had ever encountered. Young Thomas was found tied up naked, and dumped on the highway. It was a passer-by who noticed him and brought him to the police station. He was given clothes to cover his nakedness, though they were not his size. For what reason did he deserve such a punishment? Who did this to him? These were answers they demanded from the poor boy, as he sat before them, but his lips were still trembling in fear. Inspector Maxwell quickly ordered the men out of the room, leaving him alone with the lad. Staying alone with him seemed to relieve Thomas of his encumbrance to speak out. Like a friend the inspector sat beside Thomas who was still in shock. He sat down quiet for a long while before he asked for an answer from Thomas, but yet he seemed impervious to respond. Thomas pupils stayed fixed at the wall not looking at any other object in the room or the man who sat beside him. His eyes turned red from the effect of his resistance to blinking his lids. Inspector Maxwell had compassion on the young man. He knew something terrible had happened to him, placing his palms under his jaw he looked at Thomas once again. This time beads of tears rolled down Thomas’ cheek. Maxwell pondered over this young man’s experience to be a robbery, a kidnap, or a punishment from an evil step mother, but he was wrong. Thomas had experienced something worse and more terrifying than all he had imagined. Once again he asked in a calm tone for answers; his voice timbre and longing for answers but yet he received silence as an answer. Inspector Maxwell feared the worst had happened to Thomas; he feared the poor boy had suffered mental disorder due to the trauma. Getting the young man to a psychiatric hospital was the only option. He stood up from the sit and tried to walk away, but Thomas held his hand and peered into his eyes. Maxwell sat back on the chair and hunched forward to hear the cause for why Thomas was left on the high way, naked.
“My name is Edmund Thomas. I am thirteen years of age. I am a grade two student at the king’s Noble high school at lake view estate, and this is where my story begins. Four days ago, I and my friends headed for the bus stop. It was a Friday afternoon and all seemed to be well. We were three in number: Kenneth, Lydia and I. what a wonderful day it was for us. The sun was high up in the sky and the wind caressed our skins as we walked away from the school compound. I remember us plucking oranges from Madam Joe’s tree; she chased us with a cane till we had gone a far distance. At first all we felt was fear, but soon, laughter was in the air as Lydia mimicked Madam Joe. We were filled with glee that afternoon, not knowing what awaited us at the end of it. Our lives were so simple; with nothing to worry about, all we had was our friendship. We arrived at the bus stop and waited for a bus to convey us to our destination. We three have been friends for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the same neighborhood made our bond stronger. We were called, “The three blind mice”, which seemed perfect for us. While we stood at the bus station waiting for a bus, Kenneth kept bombarding us with stories about his family, of which we knew eighty percent of all he said were nothing but lies. Due to our small stature and lack of urge to get home on time, other people jolted us out of the way and got on the buses before we did. This moment seemed pretty odd because it was now getting late. We had to get on the next bus which arrived. The next bus which arrived at the bus station was a yellow twelve-seater bus; six seats had been occupied already, leaving six seats empty. I peered at the men and women who were already seated randomly in the bus. They looked frightening to me for a reason I couldn’t really tell. The bus accelerated with a prodigious speed as we went past other vehicles. My friends seemed relaxed in this vehicle, but I had the feeling that all was not well. I was glad our destination was a few minutes away; finally I could get down from this bus which had cryptical people in it. But to my greatest surprise he zoomed past it. We yelled at the top of our voices for the bus to be halted, which he never did. At this point I had a hunch that all was not well. Only the three other adults who boarded the bus with us helped in scolding the driver, but he was still adamant to all they said and kept the bus at full speed. In the midst of the commotion, I noticed the signals which the initial passengers transmitted amongst themselves. Some nodded their heads, while the others winked an eye. I tried to force my head through the window and scream for help, but they were so fast. The last thing I remember was a white handkerchief covering my face. I choked from the air I inhaled through it. I became dizzy and felt myself fading away into oblivion. I wish I had not inhaled the gas from the piece of cloth. I wish I had taken a deep breath to avoid breathing for long. It seemed my head was about to explode. The fluid in my throat ran dry and my eyes gushed tears. The more I tried to open my eyes, the more painful it became. As I collapsed in the bus, I could hear them speak. At first they laughed and within seconds, everything became blurry. I had passed out.
I wish not to discuss this horrible event to anyone, because my heart is heavy to reveal all I saw. All I wanted was to go home to my parents and play with my friends. All that happened seemed to be like what they acted in the movies, but this was no movie; it was reality. Keeping silent and trying to forget all that occurred would not help me. That’s why I am here telling you all this. You have to believe me, please sir. I know I am nothing but a mere child who is thirteen years of age, but I assure you that all I say is nothing but the truth. My parents never brought me up as liar. I am truthful and honest to a fault. You required answers from me; that is what I am giving to you. I witnessed it all.
I regained consciousness in a dark mud hut. I was not alone in this hut. We were seven in number: I and my friends were the only kids among three elderly men and a lady who was in her late twenties. Our hands and legs were tied up and we all had our clothes stripped off. We tried to scream for help but the piece of cloth which was also tied on our mouths prevented us from making audible sounds. Wailing and mourning filled the atmosphere of this hut. Some of the men joined by the lady sang songs of prayers to God, while the rest prayed, but at intervals they cried. At the far end of the hut were my friends, Kenneth fixed his eyes at me crying, while Lydia placed her head on the wall exhausted from her prolonged wailing. I could notice the rays of the sun making its way through the holes in the walls and through the openings of the roof. Hours passed by and no one had been rescued by a divinity or human, so we all waited quietly in the hut. I dozed off in the hut and woke up to realize it was night. The sound of crickets filled the air of the darkness. Two muscular men walked into the hut; half dressed and bare footed. They wore red gowns with white markings around their eyes. They used their mouths as clips for palm fronds which prevented them from uttering a word. They grabbed the lady and dragged her out of the room. It was then that we remembered to cry again. I was scared of what had just happened and lost my appetite to sleep. I fixed my eyes at the door of the hut for a long time scared of the men who wore red. Once again they emerged and snatched a man amongst us. This time their hands were soaked in blood. It finally dawned on me that we all were being kept in the mud hut for rituals. I struggled to stay awake but my body was weak. It was the second day in the hut and our number had reduced to five. We all trembled in fear and hoped for a miracle which we doubted would come. The sounds of moving vehicles or people could not be heard. I was sure we were at the heart of some forest which could be found on the map. Thoughts of my parents, my class mates, uncles and aunts, made me worry. My friends looked puzzled as I did; just then did the men emerge from the door again. Their eyes fixed on me like I was gold; I struggled ferociously to avoid them from holding me, but I was no match for their brute strength. As they carried me out of the hut, my friends and the persons left, cried for both me and themselves; for we saw our own deaths before us. The rays of the sun pierced into my eyes due to the darkness my retina had adjusted to for two days. We were indeed in a deep forest but I could see the yellow bus parked a few distance ahead. They carried me into another hut which had symbols written out on the walls with white chalk. This hurt was frightening to behold, it had a foul odour due to the blood which I could see vividly on an altar. An old man sat at a corner of the hut reciting incantations before a statue which was surrounded by many burning clay pots of different sizes. His hair was grey and he had lost a great number of teeth; this terrifying old man was in command. Behind him were the dismembered body parts of the man and lady they had dragged out of the hut the previous day. I cried as they placed me on the altar and tied me to it, but they never had remorse for what they had done or what they were about to do. I closed my eyes as one of the men raised an axe to chop off my head. But he paused in the process; I opened my eyes to realize his hands were seized by the old man. He kept pointing a finger at me; speaking a language to the men which I could not comprehend. They untied me from the altar and stood me before the old man. He fluttered towards me and bowed, calling me “The Great One”, finally he spoke a language I could understand- English. I never understood any of it and I never wanted to understand. I was almost killed for ritual and now he calls me the great one. The two men who wore red gowns also joined him in bowing before me and kept asking for my forgiveness. I was consternated with what was happening and stood before them numb. Just then did I see the white handkerchief cover my face again, it was the same feeling with that which I had experienced in the bus. I lost consciousness only to wake up on the highway, tied up nude. You see sir; I am scared about my friends and the people who were left behind at the dark mud hut. I fear what must have become of them. I was saved only by God’s grace, unlike the rest who died in cold blood. They called me the great one; they saw something or someone more powerful in me”.
Thomas now took his gaze off inspector Maxwell and looked out of the window towards nothing. The testimony he heard from the lips of this young lad left him sad at the horrific experience. Tears clouded his eyes as he walked towards the door. He turned towards Thomas who was still looking outside the window.
“You are safe now. Your parents are on their way to pick you up.”, said inspector Maxwell as he exited the room.