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Y.O.L.O

“Make it simple! Make it easy! Don’t think to hard!” Rahab kept saying that over and over again. She had been standing at the edge of the cliff for 15 minutes. She would inch up on her toes and flap her arms around and then inch back down again. She looked like a weird bird, a big one trying to figure out how to fly.

She inched up again and then flapped her arms back down and a huge stench engulfed the rest of her friends in queue further down the cliff attached to the suspended Zip line. People gagged and spat. It stank.

“Sorry!” Rahab turned to apologized.

“I think she shite her pants,” Harry turned and commented to the rest of behind him. He was the next to give the jump a shot and that stench from Rahab’s tummy hit him hard. All of a sudden he was flushed.

“Come on! It’s been 15 minutes. Give someone else a chance!” Paul yelled attempting to move forward. Then the rest of the group began to yell at Rahab to, “get off! Get off!”

Rahab would have loved to but she couldn’t the only way out was to be pushed in to the jump. And once again the stench of diarrhea hit everyone. People spat and clasped on the zip line, it hit hard like a punch to the gut. Rahab for sure had shite her pants this time.

“Push me! Pleaaase! I can’t do it!  I can’t do it!” Rahab pleaded with the safety guide who had harnessed her and briefed her on the jump. 20 minutes in, the guide looked at her and asked her again if this is what she wanted. Rahab shook her head violently in agreement and in a split second, enough time for Rahab to shite her pants again and suffocate people with the remnant of her innards she was up in the air then down again, screaming at the top of her lungs.

There was relief and for some fear, their opportunity to jump to probable death off a cliff drew near. Someone let it rip again in the cage.

“Come on!” Everyone chorused fanning themselves, they were harnessed to a zipline to take the bungee jump there was only so far they could move away from the stench. It had been Rahab’s bright idea as a way to bnd over the weekend with some of her friends and their spouses. Rahab was whisked into a boat once the recoiling  and screaming in the air died down.

“Was it worth it, the chap in the boat asked. “ With blood shot eyes and a grin from ear to ear, she nodded and whispered, “yes”. She lay on shore to help restore her blood circulation. Rahab was so excited, she screamed “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss!!” as she flailed her arms and legs on the shore.

It was the first time Rahab had done anything spontaneous in her life. And despite actually taking two “dumps” in her pants, she was able to prove to herself she could live again without restraint. Next stop, White water rafting.

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Chobo

It started with a game, it seemed innocent. We were a bunch of 9 year olds bored out of our minds waiting for our end of term test results. The teachers marked the exams as we occupied ourselves. How? Well some days we were caned for “noise making”. There was a list of students who spoke during the supposed “quiet time”. What the hell do you expect nine year olds to do when no adult is around and there is a pack of cards around? Duh! Laughter, pain and yelling. Evelyne’s name was always the one someone was hollering out when Penny, was writing down the ‘noise makers’ names. Penny was the teacher’s ‘pet’. She did anything to please any teacher. Evelyne was the cheat in every game of cards.

Solo was always on that list as well, not because he was ‘making noise’ aka talking to his desk mates, but because Penny just didn’t like him. It wasn’t quite clear what the terms were, but needless to divulge too much information. It all revolved around a missing skipping rope that allegedly belonged to Penny – “Miss Perfect” that skipped its way into Solo’s hands. Solo like his name, minded his own business. He never spoke much and when he did he just had a way with words and cracked us all up. The teachers loved him for that during class. He was asleep when no teachers were around. It was amazing that he never had it out for Penny like the rest of us did.

Finally after two days of visitaions to the teacher’s staff room for a whopping the teachers got tired. It was a distraction and a point of irritation, so we were finally let out. Imagine that? One and half weeks of nothing but fun and games at school! Dad always found my attitude in the morning rather curious, no more tears, no early morning fights over breakfast, no moodiness. I was a chirpy eager child.

I will never forget, it was the first week of August, the rains had been pounding all July and this morning, the sun shone and warmed up the city. As always we had Assembly at 8am and then rushed to the fields to play. Chobo was the game. It was a stick in a mound of dirt and everyone playing would take turns to remove dirt from around the stick without it toppling over. Sounds simple and innocent right? Right?

For some reason Tabitha decided that it was time girls played this game.

“What was so sacred about it anyway for boys to play alone?” Tabitha barked at the boys. The boys nodded and gestured for us to join them, so we did. We were briefed of the rules and it was made clear, that this was an equal opportunity game, girls were treated the same as boys! “Finally” I thought. Gerald got a nice solid twig and heaped a mound of soil and stuck the stick through the top of the mound firmly.

One by one, we all scraped off a bit of soil from the mound, laughter turned to tension as the soil reduced around the now unstable twig. And then finally after 10 minutes of waiting, the twig fell during Tabitha’s turn. I have never seen anyone run that fast. Her school uniform flapped violently as boys and girls ran after her to Chobo Ngoto her. Pretty much punch her; from a dress flapping in the air, to legs and arms flailing in the air. Tabitha wasn’t able to make it to the ‘safe’ tree fast enough to avoid beating.

There was laughter, and then silence, Tabitha fell still, she wasn’t breathing and she was bleeding. I screamed and ran to the teacher on duty, who was passing the area, who sent a student to get the school nurse at the sanitarium.

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Fight to the Death

Opot sipped his millet and sorghum porridge from the calabash watching his cattle graze in his vast fields. He was poised on a stool observing his surroundings intently. Nothing was going to take his cattle from him. His forearm was wrapped in banana leaves, and was due for a new dressing. The wounds were fresh and would take time to heal.

Just a week earlier, Opot had fought off leopards attacking his cattle; he lost his most productive cow reducing the milk yield substantially. The leopard had become more antagonistic and aggressive the past 3 months.

“Hunger!” Naiserian, his mother stated. She had seen this many years before when she was young girl. When the wild animals faced starvation they would seek new hunting ground and because of the increase of the inhabitants, the new hunting grounds were now human settlements. The Leopard’s desperation meant attacking livestock.

“Do you know what that means Opot for you and your age set?” Naiserian looked at him knowingly. It needed to be done. It was something he had been prepared for as a younger man during initiation. But it felt unnatural. It was the only thing that was viable to keep the predators at bay. Once Opot’s wound had healed they had to hunt down the leopard and kill it, as well as any others that may have eaten the cow.

“Any animal that has tasted something will seek it till it can find it no more.” Naiserian uttered to a nodding Opot. She had seen the vengeance of Lions when she was younger and living closer to the Tsavo area. The man eating lions of Tsavo tasted human flesh and couldn’t fight the urge. The Impala and Gazelle was no longer a match for the salty and supple human flesh.

Opot hissed as his mother peeled off the Banana leaf to reveal a green gunky residue on his forearm. Naiserian drew a basin of water filled with bougainvillea petals. She scooped it with a small calabash and Opot screamed. Naiserian laughed out loud, “Even grown warriors feel pain? What kind of training do you receive? I thought you were immune to pain Opot?” She stated sarcastically bursting in to laughter afterwards. Opot gave his mother the evil eye.

The afternoon sun shone as the grazing cows began to moo. It was time to take them to the river to drink. Opot whistled and the cows led the way to the riverbank. The reeds by the river bank were unusually still, unmoved by the gushing breeze. Opot was suspiscious. There was something improper about the scenario; save for the sound of the cows splashing around in the water there was no sight of anyone fetching water or washing clothes.

Opt pulled out his dagger from its sheath, something heavy and fury jumped him from behind and pinned him to ground. It was too fluffy to be human. The leopard was back and this time for his blood. His eyes and the leopard’s were now eye to eye, who would take the first and probably fatal move to survive would be determined in the next moment. But the weight of the Leopard and his now exposed arm; stinging in pain, made the situation less favourable for Opot.

 

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Group of Death

The crowd went wild! He scored the winning try! It was all over! They were the undisputed league champions! Solomon was in tears, he couldn’t believe he had done it. He pumped his fists in the air, head down tears streaming down his face. His team mates lifted him shoulder high!

Chanting; “SO-LO! SO-LO! SO-LO!”

His tears still streaming down his face up in the air; his dreams of leading his team to lift the trophy came true; this had been his best season ever! The mammoth crowd was going wild in celebration. Whistles, cheering, scarves and shirts waving in the air; Solomon made his team the undisputed champions with a 54 to 10 victory. The team ran several laps of honour before they placed him down just in time for the closing ceremony.

Just as Solo lifted the trophy with the air filled with glitter, a piercing sound rent in the air and the cheers turned to gasps and wailing. The solid silver trophy fell to the ground covered with blood oozing out of Solomon. He had been shot! His team mates fell to the ground to check on him, he was gone, It was a bullet straight through his skull. The hero was now a legend thanks to a bullet.

The paramedics showed up and lifted him on to a stretcher lifeless. Another shot rent through the air and a stampeded ensued. The paramedics zoomed out of the stadium with throngs of people fighting to exit. Another shot then another, soon it was a hail of gun shots. The Rugby officials were all lying lifeless on the ground. The teams ran to the changing rooms and sat silently staring at each other.

The opposing team stood and stared concerned and worried in the eyes of the winners. There was a tense silence in the room. Then they heard a team of boots against the concrete. People were coming. They ran to the shower area trying to strategize on how to get out of the changing rooms. As the opposing team captain spoke, a gunshot rent the air and down he fell to the ground. There was panic and the rest ran to exit, and just like that the gun men opened fire and killed both teams. They stopped when their gun nozzles smoked. The gunmen walked away no word no explanation; they had done what they had come to do. It was finished.

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No Escape!

Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! The tempo steadily built up, the wipers worked faster, Swish! Swish! Swish! The rain was merciless, visibility was close to nil; Clarence could barely see. The radio dial was busted. He was stuck on a boring radio station. He looked at his fuel gauge; the evening couldn’t get any worse. He was beyond empty, if he did not find a petrol station in the next 20 minutes he would be stuck on the dark highway as bait for bandits.

A trailer had been swerving behind him, the truck’s lights so bright, it blinded Clarence. Just as Clarence lifted his eyes from the fuel gauge he noticed the headlights inching closer to him. He heard the blaring trailer horn and he quickly pulled over to the side as it blasted its horn speeding past him. Clarence wasn’t about to have a similar accident to last year’s. The car had turned off, he slammed his head against the steering wheel.
“Please let it not be – please work- please!” Clarence muttered trying to turn the key in the ignition.

The car coughed and reluctantly started. Clarence quickly pulled on to the flooded highway and was off to the nearest petrol station that he could find. The rain had subsided, but the road was completely submerged with sections literally carrying cars off to oncoming traffic. Clarence managed to manouever his was back to the right lane. Exactly 20 minutes from the last stop, Clarence found a dingy looking petrol station with a half working Neon sign. The only side of the sign that was legible read “…ell”.
Clarence pulled up to the pump, a windy, smelly and partly soaked attendant in a tattered cardigan walked to his window.
Clarence cracked the window slightly and puckered his lips and spoke through the little space.

“Mia tano!”
The man dialed the pump’s screen indicating the 500 shillings worth of fuel Clarence needed. That was all the money Clarence had left. He had no idea where he was going or how to get away from the carnage that was left now over 100km away. The attendant hit the top of the beat up saloon car. Clarence jolted in shock when he saw the attendants unpleasant countenance smeared all over his window. Clarence pulls out the only money left in his wallet and gives it to the attendant. His yellow smile emits a stench similar to flatulence from an individual suffering from a bout of acute diarrhea.

Clarence thanks the attendant amidst coughs and reeling down the window further for fresh air. As he drives down the highway to his unknown destination, something rams into him He spins twice and the car coughs and dies in the middle of the road. He doesn’t see what hits him, but he is numb on one side of his body. He lifts his bleeding brow to make sense of what happened and he is blinded by a bright light. And just like that Clarence is sent spilling out of the windscreen on to the flooded road.

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Marende Revealed

It was a warm morning Mum had awoken her city spoiled children at 5.00am to go to the fields with hoes to plant. The next three weeks in the village would awaken Onyango and Bera to the realities of life. It had taken Bera half an hour to get out of bed, it took a cold jug of water to get her up and running shivering and pouting. Onyango yawned in her face saturating the air around Bera with his foul morning breath. Bera was so irritated she yelled and began to tear. She couldn’t believe she was going to be stuck with her annoying brother and this early in the morning.

Neither of the two listened to their mum when they were told to sleep early the night before. They both thought it was a joke. They traded school stories for hours sleeping at 1am. What did they care? It was school holidays and there wasn’t much to do in the village without electricity. Bera was very grumpy she wasn’t the morning type at all. Onyango on the other hand was chummy and chirpy in the morning. He hummed his way to the field to Bera’s disdain. They had been walking with a kerosene lantern balanced on the handle of a hoe lighting their path. Mama led the troop; Bera was in the middle with her brother trailing.

Mum had to keep turning behind checking that Onyango wasn’t up to anything mischievous. 5 minutes into the walk, Bera felt something fly past her head, it was inches away. She ignored it; then a second and third time she felt something miss her by an inch and fall. She jumped screaming.

“Mama! Mama! Mama! Onyaaaangoooo!!!! Stop! Stop it!”

“What is it now?” Mama was so fed up of the sibling teasing, she shone the light and right behind Onyango was a huge hairy man with a fat hairy finger on his massive lips gesturing for her to stay silent. Mama screamed out for Onyango. Onyango had been busy plucking guavas from a tree which had a not so visible occupant. Mama was shaking but did not utter a word. Bera was on the ground, passed out from the sight of this mammoth man. He was now busy giggling very abnormally and drooling. He ran toward Onyango, playfully, who was busy ignoring his mother.

Mama pulled off her khanga which fell and partly covered Bera on the ground. Onyango screamed like a girl stunned by this mammoth man who had a very retarded laugh. Standing at 7 feet tall, with 4 dirty locks, his face looking like the weird guy from The Goonies, skin as dark as night, belly distended and his mammoth hands flailing in the air, shaking his tanned loin cloth. His laugh shook through the village. Mama began to shout for help loudly. As she did so, the occupant of the guava tree emerged, it was leopard. The hairs at the back of Mama’s head stood. She got goose bumps and she began to choke.

The gargantuan being inched toward the stealth leopard kneeling down and patting it; Mama instantly knew who this was. It was the hermit; Marende. He had emerged from his dug out cave in the forest. But why was he this far out? And at 5.30 in the morning where people could see him? Stories had been told about him. It had been said that he avoided being seen in daylight because his skin would melt.

Onyango had also passed out holding a guava in his hand. Women who had left to fetch water at the river passed dropping buckets and running as fast as they could when they saw and heard Marende. They screamed and soon the men came in their droves wielding machetes. Bera had come too and was screaming hysterically, Mama fell to the ground next to her, holding her to her bosom. Onyango was still unconscious.

When the men arrived they quickly pulled Mama and the kids to safety. They were left facing the mammoth man who towered the average 6 foot tall man. What was to become of the men at the hands of the grotesque giant and his feline companion? Only time will tell. And the next tale of Marende would be told to future generations.

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Eco Warrior

The blades of the helicopter sliced though the air frantically. It had been circling the deep forest for hours. They had sighted a distress signal but couldn’t seem to locate a place to land in the thicket. There was a slight clearing and the pilot could see some movement below. As he looked intently trying to figure it out, he yelled out at his crew to drop the ladder. He thought he had sighted the missing Private, Milya.

Milya had been running a covert operation in the thick of the Kakamega forest milling through the ecosystem in to the DR Congo side of the ecosystem. Milya had been sent to train and arm a new resistance whose main purpose was to protect the ecosystem of the sole rainforest left on earth. The Amazon had been completely decimated and indigenous populations and cultures completely wiped out with no historical evidence of their existence or way of life. It had been 100 years since and this was the sole natural ecosystem holding human existence.

Milya had been in and out of the ecosystem over the past 2 years, but the last year had seen him station himself in Kakamega city. The East African city had a huge military powerhouse that had fought to preserve the ecosystem for the past 25 years. The last two years had seen a violent takeover of stations in the DR Congo decimating 4 Kakamega platoons. Milya was there to solely revitalize, re-arm, recruit train and refine tactics against the enemy.

Milya had sent in 15 platoons and stationed them in 10 strategic regions in the forest to fight. He had been off radio for 5 days at a time. But the recent 2 week radio silence got his superiors concerned. They sent in air support to pull him out. But what the pilot was seeing now, wasn’t a friendly troop. The individual they saw threw the foliage signaled and just like that an RPG!

A huge explosion rocked the air sending waves through the forest. Milya had a scope to his eye watching his target; the rebel leader of the Kichaka rebel group. As the explosion’s sound rippled through the air, he saw the rebel leader pause. The rebel leader smiled and signaled, the troops screamed and ran into formation in full combat gear. This was the first time that happened. It was the sign; the rebel leader had declared war. Who would win? Who would save the forest? Who would save the world?