Monday, 27 June 2016

THE FIGHT OF THE GODS (short story) BY UGWU LAWRENCE ENENCHE

In the dead of the night at about one o’clock, almost two kilometres away from the nearest residential building along Ahogbo-Ejaa road, near Awube River and opposite Edwin Apeh’s yam farmland was a mass grassy plain with big trees. The night was still; only the chirping of crickets and screeching hooting of owls can be head. The area was dark and seemingly devoid of human beings.




From nowhere, a weak little burning flame brightened the immediate space it occupied. Moment later, the light began to move forward towards a big Ugba tree. The carrier dropped the light between two earthen pots at the foot of the tree and retraced his steps. Fourteen males and five females dressed in black and red attire plodded to the foot of the tree in a fetish-like manner with their fingers intertwined. Their heads inclined downwards as if in prayer mood. They sat with their legs tucked up under them and each hand resting on a knee.

The first to take his position was Ojechema, fondly called Adangada by his friends. He was the leader of the Flaming Sword confraternity terrorizing Ahogbo, Ugbugbu, Nkalegwu, Ejaa and their environs. By his right were three murderous looking young men who plaited their hair with braided brown attachments. The first guy on his right whose coded name was Alakpa had a broken incisor and muscular body. He was more dreaded than even the capon.

‘Great people of Garacha,’Alakpa enchanted.
‘Great brothers in camaraderie! They all chorused.
Alakpa raised his hand up and was still for a moment, his eyes caught between horror and anger. ‘One idiot called Ewaoche is threatening the respect accorded our members by wanting the capon for a rival. Everyone in entire Owukpa community knows how interested is our capon in Ene and to have a nobody who does not belong publicly displaying his ownership of her is not only a disrespect but also a ridicule. We must deal with him within the shortest possible period of time,’ he blustered.
All the cult members were visibly angry at Ewaoche, their demeanour portend a hunger for his blood. One of them wielded his dagger above his head and bit his lower lip as if imagining himself butchering him.  ‘We must eliminate him. The future of this brotherhood is in jeopardy if capon is allowed to be ridiculed by a nincompoop. We are gods in this community and whoever touches the noses of the gods must face the fight of the gods. Ewaoche must die!’ Alakpa roared gnashing his teeth.

At the end of the meeting, all the members were tasked to monitor Ewaoche’s movement. His picture was sent to their mobile phones for easy recognition.  They chanted series of incantations and dispersed.
Five days later, as if by some supernatural orchestration, Ewaoche and Ene were returning from a traditional wedding solemnization of Ene’s secondary school mate at Ekere and were now along Udaburu-Ugbugbu road ambling and talking about marriage. They held their hands and the smiles on their faces testified to them being in love.
The street was devoid of people and the rays of the moon were too blurred that one could hardly recognize any on-coming figure. The silent road was flanked by tall shadowy trees and to the both sides of the road were large farmlands cultivated and uncultivated.
Ewaoche and Ene heard the sounds of approaching boots coming from behind with a sense of urgency. Ewaoche turned around to have a look at the fellows in boots. What he saw sent fears running down his spine. The approaching boots had tall huge men in them. They had a pair of sky blue jeans each and sleeveless T-shirts that exposed their arms, showing the size of muscles that ran through them. They overtook the two lovers and stood before them. ‘Who are you?’ Ewaoche asked angrily. ‘Mad men, fearless as dragon,’ one of them shouted.
They looked on with threatening eyes that had mercilessness in them. Alakpa walked towards Ewaoche and pushed him backwards. He frowned at him, shutting his right eyelid. His short fat fingers clenched into a thick heavy fist ready to strike. At this moment, Ewaoche concluded in his mind a grave had been dug and only he who survived buries the other. But one thing was certain in his mind; Ene would never be the buried. He would protect her to the last drop of his blood.  Ene began to shake visibly. She held Ewaoche by the waist and dragged him backwards pleading with him not to engage the fierce looking Alakpa in any physical fight.
The visibly angry guys moved towards them and stopped when Ene screamed loudly which yielded no immediate response in terms of help.
‘Do we look like mad men to you?’ Alakpa asked in a raspy voice.
‘Do your behaviours show any sign of normality?’ Ewaoche retorted.
‘Foolish rat!’ Alakpa let go his left hand in one quick move. The blow landed on Ewaoche’s right jaw. It sent him reeling on the tarred road.
‘Help! Help! Help! Ene shouted. She screamed and ran to an already dazed Ewaoche and tried to shield him from further punishment, but Alakpa wasn’t done with Ewaoche yet. One of the guys seized Ene by the arm and threw her to the side of the road bumping her left side against a tree.
Ewaoche staggered to his feet, his hands hanging loosely and his mental alertness completely disorganised.  Alakpa was too eager to finish up the job. His follow-up blow caught Ewaoche by the neck and left him sprawled out on the road.
Two of the guys pulled out daggers from their trousers and charged violently towards Ene who was shouting, threatening to stab her. ‘Shut up your mouth wretched prostitute,’ one of them thundered. Ene struggled to her knee begging them.  Surprisingly, they swept her off her knee and whisked her away. Frightened by her screams, they dropped her hard on the tarred road. She convulsed a little and lay still.
Ewaoche pulled himself unsteadily to his feet, struggling to gather himself and rise to the occasion but Alakpa would not let him. He seized him from behind and turned him round. It was then he saw Ene lying on the road like an unclaimed dead body. And that moment, his strength resurrected. He ducked as Alakpa threw a hand meant for his face. Alakpa missed and rotated round himself. He recovered, turned round sharply and grabbed Ewaoche by the neck.
Ewaoche’s eyes caught Ene lying face down. He went wild discovering some hidden strength. As Alakpa tightened his grip, Ewaoche shouted and with a swift backward movement of his elbow, he caught Alakpa between the eyes and sent him stumbling to the road. A guy moved quickly and threw out his right leg, kicking Ewaoche in the mid-section with the sharp and pointed end of his shoe as Alakpa tried to regain balance.
A kick more vicious than the first, rested in Ewaoche’s groin from one of the two fellows holding daggers, sending him into the gutter. Ewaoche made a squeal, his two hands tightly clutching his traumatized groin. With another good aim, another fellow planted a third kick, then a vengeful fist on his left jaw. He screamed and willed painfully to get to his feet and save himself from further punishment but his legs gave way and he crumbled to his knee, then to the ground in a heap.
Ene shouted from where she was lying down calling for help. One of the guys with daggers darted towards her and with all his strength; he gave her a heavy blow in her mouth. Blood started gushing out profusely. Another violent kick in the stomach and she became weak beyond uttering a cry.
Aiming at Ewaoche’s head with his dagger, one of the fellows with knives stroked him on the forehead and Ewaoche’s face was immediately covered with blood. He screamed loudly and held his head with both hands. The assailants swiftly disappeared from the scene, leaving Ene and Ewaoche at the pool of their blood. Ewaoche lied down groaning helplessly.
Few minutes later, Ene regained little strength. She stared and beheld Ewaoche’s still body. Horrified, fear suddenly gave her strength and within a minute, she had reached him. As he saw blood oozing out of his head, a sense of emergency came to her and she pressed her hand over the cuts on the head. Hot blood flows through her fingers and she quickly yanked her cotton scarf off her braided Brazilian hair and tied it round his head.
         She tried not to be panic and lifted his hand to let it hang on her neck but it fell lifelessly back. She screamed and shouted for help but none was coming her way. Bending down, she forced his mouth opened and breathed heavily into it. She speedily straightened up and pressed his chest with all her might. She stopped suddenly and bent over his chest and felt his breathing. The result froze her.
Then slowly, she lifted herself off him and as she struggled to her feet, she collapsed to the ground. She attempted to lift him up but couldn’t. ‘Help! Help! Somebody please help me! She shouted. She brought out her mobile phone, it screen had broken. She managed to call Enenche, her acquaintance at Udaburu. Just as she ended the call, a hunter walked slowly towards her from a far distance holding a touch light.
‘Who are you?’ the hunter asked in a voice caught in fear when he drew closer.
‘Please help me. I’m Ene, daughter of chief Oduh at Ugbugbu village,’ she sobbed.
.
‘What are you doing here by this time?’ the hunter asked from where he stood without moving an inch.
‘I and my friend were attached by evil men. He is the one lying half dead,’ she pointed Ewaoche to him.
Just as the hunter move closer to behold Ewaoche, Enenche arrived with a cutlass and touch light in his hand. He flashed his touch light at the dying body of Ewaoche. ‘Kai! Human beings are too wicked!’ he screamed. Ene held the touch lights for them and the two men lifted Ewaoche and sat him on the roadside.

Ugwu Lawrence Enenche
07032769241,  08176050494
ugwulawlaw@gmail.com

2 comments: