Into The Wild 5
“What do you mean we are on the other side of the mountain?” Bukunmi asked in shock. She did not want to believe what her mind was telling her.
“What do you mean ‘what do I mean’?” Tara responded in anger, her eyes narrowing to slits. She put her backpack down and folded her arms.
“Ta-Tara, are you…are you saying we cro-rossed the mountain to a-a-nother side?” AK was saying, his lips shaking in a very disgraceful manner.
“What?! Are you all blind? Does this look like OAU to you?” Tara shouted, stretching her two hands towards the field
Bukunmi looked before her and wanted to cry. Tara was right. This was not OAU. This did not look like anywhere on campus. She had spent four years on campus and knew almost everywhere. She did not know anywhere like this. They were standing before a field, a field and nothing more. There were a few trees here and there and nothing more after that. There was no house. There was no sign of life here. Behind them was a mountain and before them, a place they did not know.
“Congratulations, AK. You just brought us here to die,” Chisom laughed.
“SHUT UP, FOOL!” Bukunmi snapped. “And can you please stop that music?”
AK nodded and put off the speaker.
“Are we even still in OAU?” Kazeem asked. He too removed his backpack and stretched his body. He was extremely tired and his strength was failing him.
“We are certainly not in OAU. There is nowhere on campus that looks like this,” Tara said.
“What are we going to do now?” Kazeem asked and they all turned to AK.
AK looked at his fellow climbers and sighed. He knew at this moment that he had no other option but to be honest with them all. He did not know what he was doing. He did not know anything about this mountain. He did not plan for this to happen.
“I am sorry, guys,” he began in a faint voice. “I am sorry I brought you down here. I am sorry I did not plan this properly. I did not mean for this to happen. I did not know a simple adventurous mountaineering could go wrong. I did not know that a boy would roll down while trying to take a selfie with us. I did not know a part 6 medical student would follow him and would get lost. I did not know the rain would fall and we would have to have to hide in an abandoned shed on the rock. I did not know it would collapse and we would have to descend in the dark and then find ourselves at the wrong base. I am sorry guys but I did not know any of these would happen and so I did not plan for it. And I am sorry I do not know what we are going to do, Kazeem. I am sorry, but I do not know.”
No one said a word while he spoke. Tara maintained her posture. Bukunmi was supporting her chin with her right hand while her left hand held her bag. She was thinking about her ex-boyfriend and what he would say if he was here. Was he thinking about her? Was he still calling her phone, or had he found someone else to give his love? Was he missing her at all? Not here, Bukunmi. Not here.
Kazeem was standing beside Tara and also had his hands in his pockets. Chisom was crouched down, playing with pebbles. He did not look up while AK spoke and did not look up after his apologetic speech.
Kazeem turned to the rest and asked, “What do we do now?”
“We wait,” Tara said and sat down on the grass.
“Wait? For what?” Bukunmi asked surprised at Tara’s answer.
“We wait for David and the small boy to return.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” AK answered, shaking his head and throwing his hands in the air.
“We can’t possibly wait for those guys. We do not know what has happened to them. We do not know whether David was able to rescue the small boy or not. For all we know, both could be broken right now, waiting for us. I say we turn around and climb the mountain and go back to the other side that leads to OAU.”
“Are you not getting it, Bukunmi? We are lost. We do not know where we are, and we do not know where we are going. The moment we got out of the shed in the rain and decided to descend in the dark, we got lost. Any step we take now is only going to get us more lost.”
“So, you are suggesting we just wait for almighty David to come and rescue us abi? And what makes you think he is still alive?” Bukunmi asked with a sneer.
“He is. Waiting is our best option. We wait for David. If he is on the other side already and finds out that we are not yet back, he will come back for us or get some people to find us.”
“And how will he find us?”
“It’s called a search party. They will spread out and find us all. If they don’t, they can inform the school authority. Of course, AK will be rusticated but then, we get to go home.”
“Wow!” Chisom clapped and stood up. “And how many days will this beautiful plan of yours take, princess?”
“Idiot,” Tara hissed.
“Forgive me if I am not so enthusiastic about this plan of yours but then, we can’t bank our survival or rescue on two individuals we are not even sure are alive. Tara, your plan is not a plan,” Chisom said.
“So, what do you suggest?”
“Let us take the bold step. The time is still 8am. Let us climb the mountain, reach the peak and descend to the other side. We’d be home before the sun rises.”
“But then, you heard what she said, we are lost. How sure are you that we are going to reach the other side if we climb again?” Kazeem asked.
“Very sure, bro. We got lost because we were walking in the dark. This is broad daylight; we can’t possibly get lost,” Chisom said, throwing his hands up as though he was explaining two plus two to a set of hopeless lunatics.
For what seemed like forever, there was quiet. No one said a word. Silence hung above them all like a giant balloon waiting to be punctured. And in the silence, many thoughts dwelled. They were all weighing their options. Tara knew David was still alive. Her boyfriend could not die now, not yet. He was still somewhere on the mountain looking for her and she was going to wait or him for however long she had to.
AK was lost, both physically and in his mind. He did not know what to do. Waiting sounded wise but then, what or who were they waiting for? Kazeem was confused too and had decided in his mind that he would do whatever AK did.
Chisom was not confused. He was angry. He was in a company of fools. Only Bukunmi seemed to be thinking straight. He did not understand why Tara would want them to wait. Wait for what? For two dead boys to take them to safety? The thought of it alone was disgusting and it did not matter what the four of them decided, he knew he was going back, up the mountain and down to the other side.
“I am going back. I cannot wait for what I am not sure is coming,” Bukunmi said.
“I am sorry, Tara. This is not Hollywood where the prince saves the princess. This is Nigeria. This is real life. There is nothing like search party. The two hundred and seventy-six Chibok girls were gone for months before some of them were rescued. We are just five students. I cannot…I cannot wait here for what I do not know. I am going back up.”
“Finally, someone with a brain is talking!” Chisom said. “I am with you, Bukunmi. Don’t worry, guys. When we get to the other side, we will bring the search party to come find you. Hopefully, you won’t be dead by then. Hunger is real.”
“Chisom, you are making a mistake,” AK was saying but Chisom did not hear. He did not seem to care. He backed his backpack and turned to Bukunmi, “Are you ready, fellow wise human?”
Bukunmi smiled and shook her head. “Let’s go.”
Hand in hand, they looked at the others. “This is not goodbye, fellas,” Chisom said and as slowly as they had descended, they began the ascent, two lost souls wandering the wild.
“Do you really think they will find their way back to school?” Kazeem asked. He was lying on the grass between AK and Tara. Now that he had decided to wait with the two of them for David to come rescue them, it did not seem like the wise thing to do. He was beginning to wish he had followed Chisom and Bukunmi. Here, he was bored. The three of them had been lying on the floor for the past four hours and no one had said a word. They were doing nothing. They were not taking any step, not making any move to ensure that they were not forgotten here. At least, Bukunmi and Chisom were taking steps. They were doing something. “Guys?”
“They may,” AK said.
“They won’t, Kazeem,” Tara said. She was lying on her back, looking towards the rising sun.
“How are you so sure anyway?” Kazeem asked.
She turned to him and sighed. “Because, Kazeem, this is a mountain. It is not just a plain field where you can follow a certain route and find your way back. How sure are they that they are on the right track and that they would not, like we did before, end up on another side of the mountain?”
“That is a possibility,” AK said.
Tara made a face to Kazeem as if to say, That’s what I’m talking about and returned to gazing at the sky.
“Have you ever been lost before, Tara?” Kazeem asked.
Tara sighed again. “Yes. Once.”
“Wow, tell us about it.”
“It was my first day on campus. I did not know anywhere in OAU. I did not even know where OAU was. And so the bus dropped me at the pre-degree campus in Moro. And then I took a selfie and put it online.”
“Oh, you were that girl? I saw that selfie,” AK said, standing up and looking at her intently as though to be sure she was telling the truth.
“Yes, I was the one.”
“So how did you find your way down here?”
“He came for me.”
“David. He saw the picture online and called me. He told me to calm down that he would be with me in forty-five minutes and I waited and eventually, he came. That was how we met.”
“Wow.” Kazeem was smiling sheepishly.
“And that’s why you think he is going to come again this time around?”
“Yes,” Tara said and nodded strongly like a small child. AK and Kazeem smiled and looked at her in wonder. She was a simple girl. She was completely in love with David and she did not even consider for once that anything could happen to him. He was her savior, her love and that was the only thing she held on too. That was enough anchor.
“I can’t hear anything again ooo,” Bisi said. They had almost reached the base of the mountain and she was back to carrying the small boy on her back. He had not woken up since morning but Akin said he was still alive.
“They are there, Bisi. I know that,” Akin said adamantly and forged ahead. They had been going down since dawn and he did not relax for once.
“Are you still hearing the song?”
“No. We are close, Bisi. We are close.”
She did not say anything again. She went down with him for the next thirty minutes and suddenly he stopped in front of her and raised a hand up. She stopped too. He beckoned on her with his hand and she went forwards gently and looked down.
There, on the green grass, lay three students, a girl and two boys. Akin did not understand. Where were the remaining three students? They were supposed to be six down there.
“Are they the ones?” Bisi whispered.
“There is no mistaking that girl,” Akin said, shaking his head. “Let’s go.”
They descended the mountain and when they got close enough to be seen, Akin clapped his hands.
“Hello,” he shouted. The three students jumped up and looked back. AK was scared. Tara was optimistic. Kazeem’s heart flew from his chest.
AK looked at the boy and the girl standing before them and his mouth fell open. The boy wore a ripped jeans and a polo shirt. The girl wore long black leggings and a long gown. On her back was what looked like a bundle of clothes.
“Who are you?” Kazeem asked.
The boy did not answer. Instead, he said, “We found him at the base,” and gestured towards the girl. Gently, she put down the bundle of clothes and stood aside, revealing the battered face of a boy.
Tara, Kazeem and AK walked towards the boy and looked closely. They did not believe their eyes.
“Are you kidding me? Is this –”
“IT’S THE SMALL BOY, KAZEEM! OH MY GOD, IT’S THE SMALL BOY!” AK shouted and bent over the boy. He was right. The small boy was lying still on the grass, he chest heaving gently. His eyes were shut firm and his right hand was clenched. He was alive.
“You were right, Tara! You were right; they are not dead. Tara!” AK was shouting but Tara was not listening. She was not thinking. She knew the small boy was going to be rescued but she was not expecting the work to be done by these two strangers.
“Are you hearing me, Tara? You were right! He is alive…”
But she was not hearing him. She was not hearing anything at all. She was asking herself only one question: Where is David? Where is David? Where is David?
EPISODE SIX WILL BE OUT ON TUESDAY.