Click here to read the previous chapter Walk In The Dark, Walk In The Dark: Episode 2, Walk In The Dark: Episode 3, Walk In The Dark: Episode 4, Walk In The Dark: Episode 5 and Walk In The Dark: Episode 6
Recap: Finally out of the hands of their captors, Ade must lead his little troupe through the wet jungle, while they maneuver the forest and its vices, while keeping watch on the people chasing them.
WALK IN THE DARK
Ade stood paralyzed with fear, unable to move but aware of the sounds of movement in the bushes that was drawing ever closer. He knew the answers to a lot of things but at this moment, he did not know the solution to this problem. He just stood watching the beast before them, that had taken up a defensive position, ready to pounce.
All of a sudden, something swooshed past his ear and landing with a loud thud and Crack on the head of the dog, forcing it to slump to the ground dead. Ade turned around to find Emeka standing beside him.
“Na common dog you dey fear?!” He hissed and pushed his way forward, the others following closely behind, Ade soon joined them visibly shaken.
“Thank you.” Ade said when he came up beside Emeka.
2No wahala. Let us hurry, we have wasted enough time.”
They doubled their steps eager to widen the gap between them and the men who sought to return them to certain death.
“Hello, any sign?” The walkie talkie attached to his belt crackled to life.
“Nothing oh, maybe we should go back for the dogs.”
“Good idea but first we should call oga.”
“No wait, make we find them till morning before we call am. What if we find them after you can call am, you go just make am worry for nothing. So calm down.”
Bello’s argument seemed logical, so the others did not argue. He was not really concerned with his boss’s welfare as he was about saving his own ass. He continued, “Slaughter, me and you go continue dey find them, the remaining go go bring the dogs.”
“Na so.” Slaughter said into the radio.
So they continued their search, combing every acre of land they could, the sun was beginning to rise, Bello looked at his watch, it was 4.30 AM. Soon it will be morning and the window of escape for those kids would widen, the darkness did them more favor than it did the kids, it meant that there wasn’t any chance of the kids running into hunters or farmers in the area.
It would have been easier to find the kids, if the rain hadn’t washed away their foot prints but he knew they could not have gone too far. They did not know the forest as much as they did and that was an advantage.
Bello was still contemplating the options available to them when his torchlight caught something, he bent down to examine it and found a piece of clothing; a sock with blood on it. Fresh blood.
“Slaughter, fast, fast come this way, I don see something.” He said into the walkie talkie.
Slaughter took one look at what his colleague was holding and asked, “Wetin be that?!”
“Na socks, you no see the blood on top am? Na fresh one, that mean say one of them wound and them follow this road. And you know where this road lead to abi?” He asked a huge smile cracking his rugged features.
The sun was beginning to creep out of the edge of the grey horizon, its resplendent rays brighten the corners of the earth as it continued it’s slow ascent to the centre of the earth; the clouds parting in its wake like the biblical Red Sea reminiscent of a Knight’s salute. The ominous clouds from the previous night cowering in its presence and receding into the sky’s seam.
Ade and his troop continued their march towards freedom aware they were being followed but emboldened by the fact that they had a massive head start. They were all cold, tired and hungry and it was beginning to tell on all of them.
They heard it before they saw it, the thrashing and rumbling of wild waters and then they saw it; a brown river with a girth of about 24 feet, roaring in all its natural fierceness, the rain from the night before having swelled its ranks; its belly filled with debris that had dared stand in its way as it made its marauding journey. They stood rooted to the spot, there was no way they could cross this river, if the current didn’t kill them, the debris was sure to and they did not know its depth. Giving the rain the night before, they were certain it would be deep.
They were stuck, they could not go forward and going backwards was not an option, so they decided to go around till they could find a spot that was not as deep or as treacherous.
“This looks like the most shallow spot.” Emeka said as they came upon it.
The others stood surveying it, even though it was shallow, it seemed just as daunting. Musa stuck a maize stalk he had found into the water stood beside it and the water level came to just about his waistline.
“We fit cross.” He blurted out.
“I can’t swim.” Kemi said to no one in particular.
“I can’t swim too.” Emeka said, wary.
“I saw this is a movie, if we hold hands as we cross, it will reduce the risk of anybody being carried away by the current or drowning.” Mary, one of the girls said.
“Yes that will work.” Ade said immediately taking position at the edge of the river, allowing Kemi take is outstretched hand. They formed a human chain and began the slow, tentative trek across the river. If they thought the current was strong, being in it was a different tale, the river bed was muddy and Ade’s leg got stuck a couple of times but somehow managed to get himself unstuck.
Ade and a couple of the gang were already on the other side of the river and were awaiting Emeka and three others, when tragedy struck. Just as one of them was climbing onto the bank, a huge chunk of debris knocked her back into the water causing the current to drag her under, Emeka who was a the back of the line, waded to the front and reached into the water and tried to grab her, he managed to clutch at her clothing a couple of time but the strong currents were threatening to pull her under and away. Time was running out and the little girl would soon drown, so Emeka braved the currents and dove under.
Visibility was almost zero but he could still make out the girl, he planted his legs firmly in the mud, reached his hand around her waist and lifted her up to the others; who grabbed her to safety. As soon as Emeka handed her over, he tried to set himself loose from the muddy water bed but sunk deeper with each attempt, still he relented. He was running out of oxygen and needed to come up to the surface for air but had sunk so deep he could not surface even briefly for air.
He struggled frantically to free himself from the sticky mud but it seemed the more he tried the quicker he sank. He began to gasp for air, swallowing large gulps of water as he did, he wanted to scream out for help but his voice faded into bloated bubbles. His vision was beginning to blur, his lungs felt as if they were on fire. He could not hold his breath any longer, with one last attempt he tried to pull his legs free but it was to no avail. He reached his hands up to the surface and then his vision faded to black as he slowly drifted to the after life.
“Get a stick, get that stick.” Ade kept screaming as he searched frantically for one in the bush, as did the others.
When they found one, it was already too late, Emeka had sunk under never to come up again.
“No!! Emeka!!, Emeka!!’ Ade kept screaming as he stared at the water hopelessly.
“Calm down, calm down,” Kemi sniffled, “you are dragging attention to us. There is nothing we can do now. We have to move.
The girl; Ejiro, who Emeka was trying to save, was beginning to cry uncontrollably and had to be restrained by some of the others.
“Ade gather yourself now, we need to keep going or all this will be for nothing.” Kemi said as she grabbed hold of his hands and led him away.
The others soon followed as they set off again, leaving Emeka in his watery grave.
Kemi’s heart was heavy, she missed Emeka more than most, he had been her personal body guard in the time she had been in the house but she knew he would have wanted them to reach freedom and make his sacrifice worth something. So she buried her tears under a brave face. There will be plenty of time to weep.