…He turned on the torchlight and held his breath as the rays flashed at the suspicious spot. The creature peeped behind a branch, exposing its ugly head.
‘Mtchew’ he hissed, it was only a chimp. Wait a minute; with some surprise he flashed the torchlight at the now airborne chimp. It was the mythical flying monkey, Akuke. His mother told him a lot of stories about Akuke as a young boy. It had flaps attached to its limbs like the bat and it could so jump it seemed it flew. Seeing the flying monkey to the people of Kuruma, meant good luck and they often celebrated it in anticipation of something good to come. Sometimes it took years, generations for the good thing to happen, and sometimes it happened so quickly. But the celebration of the good luck to come was usually done in high spirits. If one didn’t know, he would think the celebrant had hunted down an elephant. Achor hadn’t witnessed any of such celebrations, they rarely occurred anyway. His mother often told and retold him of the two she had witnessed, and described them so dramatically, with keen enthusiasm, he almost got offended. He couldn’t enjoy the sight of the mythical creature well enough before it disappeared, but he kept pondering over the creature as he walked on. Did he even see it? He must have been very drowsy and maybe was simply hallucinating, or maybe not. He never believed in myths. He had concluded everything was just a mere old woman’s tale told to young boys to fascinate their imagination, but he had seen one for himself today. He wished he could follow the Akuke and maybe trace it to its abode. That would clear his doubts completely and who knows? There could be a family of flying monkeys just within reach. But he had a mission at hand and should not be jeopardising it for any Akuke or any other thing.
Well, the thought of war and his present mission was fast fading away from his consciousness. He only found himself carelessly strolling down a bushy slope with a turned on torchlight in one hand and a pistol in the other. He walked past several tall trees without a notice and whether or not he was walking down a slope he wasn’t really sure. He only noticed the pressure on his thigh had increased a little, urging him to walk faster with less body control, and of course he was responding. The Akuke brought back memories of home and peace and he was in that world now. He felt as a simple hunter once again, wandering bushes and thick forests in search of games. There was no way Smart could have been with him on this mission, even though he never embarked on any hunting journey without her. Her bark and sense of smell helped him locate hiding games and he ensured she had her share of the day’s profit. The chilly wind of the night kissed his face and caressed his muscular body like the arms of his dear wife, Ngolo. He called her Angel. He always longed to see her again whenever he was away from her. She would welcome him home with a warm kiss and of course, make something special to eat out of one of the games. She was a special woman in all ramifications, as far as Achor was concerned.
For the first time he noticed he was hungry. Was it the smell of the roasting stake nearby or was it just his memories of Ngolo’s dishes? The smell of the roasting stake nearby? He was already in the enemy’s camp and had been greeted by a sweet aroma dancing through the atmosphere from about fifty metres away where the enemy soldiers were roasting an unlucky bush meat. The campfire, the smoke, had he not noticed any? Well, they camped down the hill resting, expecting to launch an attack on the morrow. He had walked past three watch-posts unconsciously and unnoticed too.
Two camp tents with dim lights in them could be spotted from his position. One has got to be where the leader stayed. It didn’t appear as though they were sleeping. Their upstanding and moving shadows seemed a pantomimic movie displayed on cinema for Achor. He had to get to the tents to get the audio. He quickly switched off his torchlight and took a survey of the place. There were three open jeeps and an open van parked on the camp ground and one jeep each was parked closely to both tents. If he moved little by little, hiding himself behind the vehicles from seven soldiers on patrol, wielding corked rifles and eye-blinding searchlights, ensuring he was unnoticed for every step he took, he would succeed.
That is far too risky Achor. You got what you needed. You know the enemy is close-by. Get out of here. His heart pounded at the instructional words of wisdom of Mr Fear. ‘Those that were scared of death always died first in battle’ he fondly told his boys.
‘Achor be brave, be brave.’ The seven soldiers were stationed at strategic positions and walked around at will to be sure the camp was free from intruders like him. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and exhaled softly. Held on to his pistol tightly, crouched and began to move towards the first vehicle, the open van, with his eyes focused on the patrol team, his ears straining for any movement and his heart pounding like the very drums of war. The van had a driver sleeping on the driver’s seat. He immediately crouched backing the door to hide from him, and side-walking to the edge of the vehicle, he peeped underneath first, before peeping through the side. None of the patrol soldiers was looking in his direction. The coast was clear to his next destination – the first jeep that parked adjacent to one of the tents. He had to be fast. With little thinking, he rolled to the floor, got to his feet still crouching, made a quick few steps and then pounced towards the jeep like a wild cat. He landed noiselessly and paused, but his collision with the vehicle had made a little clatter. He had to wait a little for the air to calm down before he made another move, but one of the patrol soldiers picked an interest in that little clatter. After he spent a while staring in every possible direction and was not yet convinced, he motioned towards the vehicle. Achor could hear his footsteps advancing, but remained very calm. He shouldn’t give his adversary more reasons to be suspicious. He unsheathed his dagger and laid in wait. The soldier got close to the vehicle and waited a while, as if to survey its surrounding critically for the very last time before approaching it. Obviously, he felt it was another bush meat. He should have alerted the rest of the boys, but he would not share the glory. ‘I…’, not ‘we caught the bush meat’. He bent over the jeep’s bonnet with some excitement to see and felt a strong hand grab him by his khaki shirt, pulling him unrestrainedly towards the ground. Before he could scream, Achor’s left-handled dagger slit his throat. He quickly shoved him under the vehicle and waited again to see if anyone saw anything.
‘Hmmmm’ he exhaled softly. He felt the blood slide from his head down his chest and it was chilly, even though the blood was warm.
‘How much closer could he get to death?’ His mind almost picked on that subject. ‘No man. Focus. Focus.’ He cleared his head. The coast was clear again, he crept towards the tent and crouched. His breathing was heavy he feared, so he opened his mouth to release the air pressure on his nose. He waited a few minutes, but heard only vain chattering and dirty talks that pierced his heart. One talked so much about how he was going to satisfy himself with the ‘gals’ of the village once they broke in:
‘Regardless of their age, I must enjoy myself o. Did I leave my wife to come here and starve?’ and the others cheered in agreement. Their laughter drew blood from the hidden listener. He could have just burst in on them and slew all of them silently with his dagger, but patience was of great importance in this mission. He waited a little longer, but the topic didn’t change.
‘O boy, those women go hear am’ one pot-bellied soldier spoke so cruelly he vibrated behind the tent where he was hiding.
‘They are a bunch of second-in-command hooligans’ He said to himself. He needed to find the real men…
Episode Three Coming Soon…