‘The real men’, he sighed at his thoughtlessness in referring to them as ‘real men’. Could any of these men qualify for real men? They were all men without pride and honour. His rage heightened in his hiding place. He had zoomed through his hiding place in the speed of light and unnoticed, and in slow motion, stabbed all those ‘real men’ in their hearts one by one, switching the dagger from his right to left as he deemed fit, and twisting it with every stab to ensure every artery, vein or tissue were left disjointed and irredeemable. He stared with bloodshot at their wasted bodies lying in the pool of their own blood and was gratified. He opened his eyes and it had all happened in his head. The scene hadn’t helped him in any way, but it had satisfied his lust to draw some blood from those losers. He was calmer on the inside now, but was exhaling as if he had put some serious energy to use. It wasn’t as loud as he felt it was, but he was concerned. He wouldn’t be blowing up his mission simply by heavy breathing. That tackled, it was now the temptation of reliving that brief moment of sweet victory he struggled with. He had to move on with the mission. He snapped out of his hiding place crouching and gazing from left to right. The route to the second tent was clear. He made short-spanned stealth steps in very quick successions towards the tent, this time he was a little bit careless. He focused his eyes squarely on the tent and entrusted the rest of his safety issues to Mother Luck, and truly hadn’t she shown up and proved herself? No sooner had he gotten to the tent than one of the men walked out to ease himself carelessly in the open, a few steps away from the tent. His shirt hung on his shoulders while he did his thing. Achor could spy at his back shape if he stretched out of his hiding a little, but that was too risky, he made do with observing his elongated silhouette under the moonlight. The back shape of the man had so caught his attention, for he had a sharp ability to recognize shapes, figures, statures, voices and of course faces of people. That was his special ability and it never failed him. Whenever a picture or a voice rang a bell, there was an obvious connection somewhere. His five senses intensified their perceptive abilities and yea his sixth. His neurons ran helter-skelter looking for a connection to the image he had just seen. It was his golden opportunity to steal a glance on his face as he returned, but Achor would have himself undergo no such risk. Sometimes patience was more important than skill in a reconnaissance and after all, he could never gather all the info he needed in just one outing. There was no much talking apart from whispers while the man was away, but as soon as he got back into the tent, the talking resumed.
‘…hmm hmm hmm’, one of the men in the tent cleared his throat, ‘so you said they were equipped with what sort of weapons?’ a firm voice asked as the man reentered the tent.
‘Errmm… they don’t have good weaponry, at least…errm, not when compared to your…to your men.’ Guilt keys played shameful notes that could be picked by any sharp listener. Achor was a sharp listener. He had picked interest in the man already. His voice sounded a bit more familiar, but for some reasons, he couldn’t connect with it. But he was sure he was a traitor and that they had been betrayed by their own.
‘Give me a direct answer my friend! That is how people like you fail exams.’ His colleagues mocked and laughed a little. Like his recipient was hesitant, he added ‘O boy talk now! What sort of weapons?’
‘Errrrm… ermm, we… we have errrm, few – few guns, some local ones and – and a few AKs…’
“We?” Achor’s eyebrow arched. Was it not what he was expecting? But somehow he had felt more comfortable when the man first used the “they” word. The “we” was his problem. He was a worthless pig. Why would he still call himself a part of those he had just betrayed? He deserved death, a shameful death.
‘Ehee?’ The questioner urged him to go on.
‘We – we also have locally made explosives too’
‘How dangerous are your locally made explosives?’ He asked like he hadn’t experienced firsthand the efficacy of one before. They razed their victims down to ashes and had quite a range of about 10 metres. It only remained a mystery how they could invent such locally made explosives that did more harm than their hand grenades. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention; it is a true saying.
The question appeared rhetorical to the young man. He didn’t invent the explosive! He only knew how to make it explode, that’s all. He moped at his questioner in disgust and a bit of fear, no, more of fear than disgust, for his legs quivered relentlessly as he stared in disgust. Under such circumstances, the body system works in such a way that urine is usually generated more quickly than usual, maybe it was one of the reasons his legs vibrated so visibly too, trying to keep the golden liquid magma from erupting violently.
‘I need to ease myself’ He replied as if that was the answer to the question.
‘You need to wee again?’ He responded and the rest of the four men within the tent burst into laughter, or rather, mockery. ‘Well’, he continued ‘I don’t even know of how much importance you are to us. The only vital thing you told me tonight was that your people are camped somewhere at the hilltop and we would go confirm that tomorrow…’ he glanced at the translucent hands of silver chain wrist watch, ‘…this morning. But before you go…’ The questioner seemed to be interested in a few more details, and though Achor yearned for more details, the questioner had reminded him of what his own wrist watch was saying too, twenty minutes past two in the morning. He needed to get going. It had taken him about an hour to get here and shouldn’t take him any less to return to camp. They still had to flee and also to plan against an impending attack. Who knows what particular time the questioner meant when he said ‘in the morning’? That question sent impulses like torrents, running through his nervous system. Immediately trickles of sweat formed on his forehead. He wiped them with the back of his hands and made to leave, observing the same careful steps he had observed on his way coming.
Soon he was in the bush. He needed pace and stealth all and the same time. He hadn’t recognized the watchmen on their tall trees on his way coming; consequently, he paced without much regard to the tall trees around. He didn’t need to. If they were at the borders of Africa then, right now, they had all successfully crossed over to Europe in their dream tour of the globe. Only if Achor had known that those lazy watchmen slept on duty, he would have cursed them in his heart as he walked past their supposed watch.
In an hour’s time the camp was within view. His thighs were burning with the tension of having moved up a hill in such a pace and he was sweating profusely, but all that didn’t bother him. He wiped his eyebrow to clear sweat so he could have a steady gaze. One lanky man could be seen above the rest, with a head crowned with a helmet. He seemed as though he leaned over a stick, of course his rifle, and rested his jaw at the back of his hands. He seemed much awake from that distance, but Achor wasn’t satisfied. That was no position for a watchman. He didn’t even move a muscle for all the minutes Achor watched until he got closer.
‘Philip’ he called in undertone as if he needed to communicate to him first before he alerted the rest of the boys. ‘Philip, Philip’
The way Philip startled at the third call of his name was obvious he was no different from his enemy’s watchmen. Only that he was still at the borders and haven’t crossed into to beautiful Europe yet. Achor tried hard to hide his disappointment. It was not necessary to debate such trivial matters when the lives of his boys hung in balance, yea, trivial in comparison to the matter at hand.
‘Philip, wake up the boys quickly. Do it as quietly and as quickly as you can. We need to leave here right now.’
Episode four is in the cooking pot…