It was white all over, I couldn’t decipher where I was, all I could feel was some deep awkwardness, and a chilled creepy note of self-consciousness. I had a feeling of run-for-your-life, but couldn’t find my limbs. Am I dead? Is this heaven? Certainly it can’t be hell, as there were neither fire balls nor smokes in sight.
“Wake up!” I heard distantly, but it faded as quickly as it had risen.
“Wake up!” The voice came again.
Have I been sleeping or what? I wondered
“Wake up, mumu!”
The voice came again and again, and each time, it became deeper and more menacing. But I was grateful; I realized I’d been set free from oblivion, as the white walls gradually transformed into a swimming pool.
Suddenly, that creepy feeling returned once more… I tried to swim, but couldn’t move my hands; they were so heavy like I was bound.
“Wake up idiot!”
I gradually opened my eyes; a Warden was standing opposite me with an empty bucket. The bucket was wet with some dark substance…the odor drew my inspection, and I saw some strange specie of maggots such that I’d never encountered since my history… and I could taste them as well.
My hands were cuffed to an iron bar, and my vision was so narrow that I could barely see my surroundings.
“Killer!” the warden grunted as he heaped another trip of the mushy stuff on me.
“Criminal! Oya, stand up! Get up! Idiot”.
For a moment I had dreamt of being bound hand and foot in a swimming pool. Truly, that dream-pool was real, just that the dream-guide got one thing wrong… the thickness of the dung-pool and the rotten taste… I couldn’t have been swimming in such a puree.The prison warden had been bathing me with faeces. I tried sitting up, but there was a sharp pain down my thigh, I attempted a scan with my eyes, but it was dark and blurry… I was bleeding all over.
I couldn’t place how long I’d spent in the gallows, but I sure could tell by the thickness of my muddy mustache. I could perceive my own body odor… quite sure I’ve not had a bath for years. The big question, how did I get here? Came knocking again.I was still wondering how, why, and when I did find myself in prison gallows when the bully came with a thunderous answer… his baton landed on my face with a thump! My eyes became well again.
“Why did you kill the president?”
I could see the speaker clearly now.
“Why you kill oga president? Why!”
But he was a strange creature, a little albino dwarf. I wondered how he became an officer, was he ever screened? What kind of prison employs men as big as this?
He probably read my mind from the look on my face as I glared into his face and then spanked my nose tauntingly.
“Oyastand up” he was quite friendly at first, that I began wondering if he’d been the one bathing me in faeces all along… “Stand up!” thatwas more like it, I thought silently as the friendly face transformed into a nightmare.
I heard a different voice from deep within the hallway. It sounded like the source was approaching. It was male, and aggressive.
Then I assumed the albino dwarf must be the Okon.
“Oga, this man stubborn well-well o. himno wan bend o.”
“Then break him!”
“Yes sir! Na so”
I tried to see who was talking, but my swollen face formed a thick wall against my vision. It was green-about-the-gills, and all I could see was still the albino smiley. He was beaming as he caressed a big baton within his grasp; he was actually making big effort to beat the force of gravity on the heavy weightedbaton, and I was beginning to wonder who-was-carrying-who, the baton or the dwarf?
“You don ready for round ten?”
He meant asking me if I was ready for another session of torture, for the 10th time since 3am this morning. Hmm…Really?
Well the point is, I’m as confused as the idiot who does not know that a prisoner has no other choice than to serve; I’m even more confused in the sense that I had no more memory to tell who I am, why I’m being tortured, and how long I’ve been and would still have to be here. All I could remember was the mental carry-over of the ugly toothless albino dwarf.
“But you get mind o. how you look around finish, check everyone finish, you no see person kill, na Mr. President? Haba, you get…”
And he hit my head
“You get mind o! You killed a whole number one person of the federal republic of Nigeria! You dey mad?”
Then he hit my mouth heavily. This time, the force pushed me to the gravel floor and my lips crushed to pulp…
“Hehehe, see you?Chai, na morning be this.” Then he sent his boot into my stomach the umpteenth time and suddenly there was a buzz, a spark, and a click… I couldn’t breathe again, I was having a seizure.
“Munguyamutumunguyabineshi…cunny man die cunny man bury am.Walahina hell you dey go if you die nowo, I go advice you, no hurry die o, becausena from frying pan to fire you dey go. You kill OgaPresident and him don dey heaven now dey wait you. So, you wan play smart, you wan divert avoid am?Sharp guy.Una two go meet for dia;nadiauna go settle everything”.
He was holding a naked wire. My queasy eyes traced the disjointed cable to the wall socket and my heart jumped into my stomach… It was an open power line used for heavy factory gadgets, and a spark from it could kill an elephant. But he has been using it on me?
As though to clear my confusion; he plugged me up, again.
For a minute I was unable to feel my vital organs. My spinal cord went on recess; my limbs went limp, my brain short down temporarily, andit was as thoughmy lungs had been deflated as I could not breathe anymore.
“ple-ea… pl—ease” I’m begging…”
Andhis baton landed as thunderously as his roar on my bleeding skull.
“ahhhh… sorrieee. See blooood, ah, make I touch am small?” he mocked me.
“Make I touch am?”
“no… But I…”
“You carry meat for mouth? Talk! Make I feel am?” but then,instead of his hands perhaps on my face,his baton descended once more… and I became unconscious.
The voices were distant in the beginning, but subsequently, they became more raucous and plural, more like a primitive market square at noon. On a second wave it sounded like a circus; the roars, the cheers, the applause, the yelling and the groans that suggested some people were in pain or anguish, or torture, and itall became glaring that I was in the middle of a boxing Ring.
Though I couldn’t see, I could feel the strong presence of a large crowd of people who are apparently of the same class. The foul fragrances which permeated my olfactory region were uniformed; the people virtually smelled alike. Could this be the world of the damned? I wondered. The bad breaths were suicidal; there was desperation in their tones. I heard a statement like: “castrate him! Yes!” another man in the crowd also added: “kill am! Pa`okunrin yen, Finish am, ya father!” but there was a stronger and dominant voice in the background which had a strong note of authority; it was so deep that even a blind man could tell he was a fat man. He was yelling, “Get up idiot! Fight like a man! Get up, hit him back! Binie! Stand up!” Though his lips were parting concurrently as he produced communication, his protruded stomach was visibly the amplifier.
Suddenly a strong light hit my eyelids; the friction was strong enough to have shaved off few lashes. At first my vision was indefinite, but gradually, it became cloudy. I could see the roaring crowd, I could detect the open space, I saw a big figure lying on the floor, and such a huge creature he was. But there was an irony. There was a little man standing beside him as he lay motionlessly in the pool of his own blood; it was a little white man.
I recalled a figure like that who in some hours past had been plugging me up to an electric gadget;the albino dwarf…could that be? I forced my eyes ajar, and there present was the flat massive red nose; the sported sprung curvy earlobes that reminded me of a very funny rabbit character in Avatar, thence it dawned on me that it was really the dwarf warden who just downed an almost nine foot giant.My entire body froze at this very thought while my heartbeat galloped silently: who is this Dwarf? And what is he?
The crowd seemed to be so happy with his victory. There was virtually a mutual rapport between the dwarf and his fans; the chemistry was vividly glaring, and the people loved him for who he was and what he was doing.
On a second thought, I realized he was different. The albino dwarf who had tortured me earlier had one faulted eye, and a hollow black socket. But this mysterious guy had two shiny-tiny little eyes and a red mole beside his pulpy chick. Again I recalled that the little white warder was always sucking on his thumb like it was his air bag and for the past three minutes the little white gladiator was yet to smell his blood stained hand…. or maybe he was waiting to wash them first? So, there were lots of dissimilarities in their identity.
As I finally settled my confusion, I drifted my eyes up to the upper chamber of the arena. The balcony was full of several strange creatures and thereafter I realized the root of the voices…
The crowd; they were breed of dwarfs. White, brown, black, and even colorless eccentric species that got my blood frozen.
Could this be another planet? The only usual humans I could see were the dead giant and me. Surely this is a sort of abattoir for condemned criminals… or what other description could best fit this hell that is full of bloodthirsty little demons? Surely it would be my turn sooner or later. I was definitely going to become a gladiator or perhaps die trying to be.
As though reading my thoughts the little champion turned towards my direction and yelled some inaudible exclamations. He was possibly per-informing me to get ready to smell his rod, or maybe, “you’re next!” and I was befuddled at the way he paraded his chainsaw and brandished his brawn. I could feel his merciless punches and cuts into my face and neck already as I held my last prayer.
“Welcome to the pit!” the voice was feminine. “Now your life is in your own hands”.
It was a black dwarf with a long wig. At first it was almost impossible to spot her gender due to her physic as her biceps were twice the size of mine, and her chest so masculine. However at least, she was soft and tender unlike the albino.
I tried rising to my feet, unsuccessfully. The ground was muddy and rough, and my broken leg really needed support. I was only able to crouch.
“Oya, drink this” the fine lady ordered.
“Hmm” I nodded obediently.
“Oya pick one.”
She lowered a wooden tray. The tray contained a penknife, a small stone, and a club. What am I supposed to do with those? I silently queried into her face. The dwarf champion began screaming again, and the crowd resumed once more. They were hailing Crusher! Crusher! Crusher!
Suddenly I began pondering what may have happened to the fallen giant. Were they saying Crusher? Definitely the little man must have “crushed” the big guy since he was merely few inches away from his groin. Perhaps the unsuspecting big man may have ignored the possibility of being attacked from the engine room, and had underrated the dexterity of the little demon. Surely, for him to have brought a man as big as that monster down he must be a perfect crusher….hmm; Food for thought, and point clearly noted.
I picked the club;a million thoughts ran through me, and I focused my vision on my opponent. I was already in the ring, and the metal bars had been shot. Hence, there was neither retreat nor surrender as it was just me, myself, I, and Crusher.
Crusher charged at me like a mad dog. I steadied my breathing and my calculation. My thinking was rapid, but there was a brief holdup because it was hard to decide how to use my mallet on Mr. Crusher. But there he was, savoring the taste of victory to come, as he approached his latest victim.
I remembered the panel beater who mended my iron gate the last time a neighbor ran into it;the way he rammed the gate with his sledge hammer gave me an insight on how to use my wooden weapon. Also, I considered borrowing some skills from Tiger Woods the gulf legend; it would definitely be a good finish, and perhaps a good start for my new gladiatorial career.
I felt so much hate for the little imp as I traced his concentration. His gaze was certainly in-between my thighs.
He made his first move; it was a punch, and people jeered. I watched him closely as we circled each other, and suddenly he started laughing.
The laughter grew like a wave, and soon became infectious. The entire crowd joined in his sudden mirth; everyone was at this weird and sudden snorting.
I bent over my knee as though to scrutinize my body, maybe I would find out what had suddenly become so witty about me apart from my large nose, but could not discover anything implicating… yet they were rolling on their bellies.
Suddenly, there was a shout, or should I say a roar, and then came an immense tranquility.
To heighten the suspense, a fragment of the audience began to break; they scampered as if a monster was approaching from that direction.
Before I could breathe in my anxiety, the whole way was already cleared to the foyer and then my nightmare began.
The creature was huge and alien. He was three of my size and height and I’m five foot two. He was equally as huge as he was tall, an Albino with two tiny red eyes. He had several cuts on his body, which hinted me on what he is. He wore a bloodstained camouflage and an old jungle boot. I needed no guide to tell me he’s a soldier, or, maybe was a soldier.
Thence it became clear to me why they imps were laughing at space. I was chasing shadows while the main figure was right behind me. Surely this monstrous ‘dude’ is here to slaughter me.
I made a closer observation of him. He was holding a long sickleand a sledge hammer. Immediately I remembered my thoughts few moments ago about pounding the little man with my wooden club. Now it’s going to be the opposite.
“Igweee!Igweee!” they hailed him as he trudged forth. He was not smiling at all.
I thought about many cinema heroes who had their unique ways of getting out of ‘hard times’ like this one; I thought of Chris Talker who had a way of talking himself out of danger, but from the look of things this guy is virtually not a fan of comedy. Again I thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his might, but the odds were twenty to one. I also contemplated Jason Statham’s dexterity but the slogan, “don’t try this at home”, flashed in my head immediately.
“Igwee!Igwee!”the people were so in high spirits. They were anticipating another slaughter… because I was no match to this peril of a giant.
Suddenly, I felt a sudden pressure in my head, it thumped explosively that I soon went on my knees. I couldn’t tell what was happening to me until my skin began to transform. I tried to breathe but I couldn’t, my eyes shot automatically, I tried to open my eyes but all I could see was darkness.