The explosion that rocked afterwards sent everyone to various destinations it wished. A soldier just stepped on a landmine but nobody could tell who was that. The sound of the explosion was still being echoed inside my ear drum and it was like I was getting deaf.
“Bright” “Bright” I whispered softly. I couldn’t hear any response and I paid attention. I was searching around and found the leg of a dead soldier, detached from its body “Oh no” I winced in a low voice. They were dead bodies scattered all over the whole place and I continued with my search. There was no light and I almost forgot I wasn’t with my rifle again.
“Oh shit” I cursed as I didn’t even know the one I should search first for. “Bight” I continued shouting in a low voice while looking for my rifle simultaneously. I shouted repeatedly and wasn’t getting any response and it was drawing tears from my eyes already. Some other soldiers were waking up and responding but Bright was nowhere to answer. From afar, I could hear the engine of car revving and I believed it wasn’t coming to our direction.
“Bright!!!” I shouted this time more loudly and luckily I heard a cough somewhere and went straight to that direction and behold it was Bright. I helped and stood him up fast and the engine sound was getting closer and I knew it was headed for our direction. I quickly carried Bright and some other soldiers and we made way for the bush around. We saw a perfect spot, not far from the main road where we were walking and we hid. The little bushes around matched perfectly with our khaki, making it difficult to be spotted by an enemy. I held on to Bright’s mouth as he was attempting to cough out loud. We peeped and saw how some guys whom I suspected to be terrorists came closer to some of the soldiers who were injured and took about five of them away. They shot two in the legs and dragged them on to their waiting Bikes and cars. I watched in pains and those soldiers cried and pleaded for mercy which wasn’t going to come. The terrorists kept on yelling “Allahu Alkabar” meaning “God is great” as they dragged the defenseless soldiers along.
I personally had no bullet again in my rifle, likewise most of the soldiers with us. We had probably been declared missing or dead by the Headquarters as it was a common practice. The terrorists searched around with their torchlights but we were lucky not to be seen. It wasn’t long after that, they left with their vehicles.
Commander Banji was there looking at all of us. Nobody knew what to say or do. We hid there and looked like confused prisoners. Now something caught my attention and it was Bright who was praying and thanking God for sparing his life.
“So the ones that died and the ones that were shot and abducted didn’t know about God?” I asked him in anger while interrupting his prayers
“Wicked Christians” I grumbled as I left him to do his thing. I wasn’t satisfied as I was feeling more angry towards him praying.
“God didn’t save you bright… I saved your stupid ass” I yelled in a low tone “If you want to pray a prayer of thanksgiving,I should be the one you pray to”. He was equally unmoved and continued with his meditation. I hated him so much then that I wished he was among those that were killed.
“We shall see” I murmured as I changed location and became so emotional. We had to change our route as morning came, so as to avoid an ambush from the terrorists. We were now moving through the little jungle that we saw and we stayed low as much as we could stay.
“Who is with the intercom” Commander Banji asked. That was when we remembered to do a little count to ascertain the number of soldiers left in our troop. Our communication soldier was missing and it was obvious he was either dead or has been captured alive by those demonic terrorists.
“We go find the Coms” One of the soldiers said
“Any volunteer?” Lt Banji asked. A few soldiers volunteered, while the rest of us waited behind. I wonder how they could find such equipment still intact, but I believed anything was possible. We laid flat on our bellies while we waited for them to come back either with a good or bad news. Seeing the Coms means we would be steps closer to home, but failing to see it means we might probably all die in this stupid forest. It was long as joy filled everywhere; they found the Coms still intact but with lots of blood around it. This communications guy was dead and will not be seen again.
“I told you that God is watching over us here” Bright whispered to my ears.
“Fuck you and fuck the person you are talking about” I cussed. “You will soon testify about the same person you are insulting” He said as he gave me my space. The next mission was to find a good place of network reception and place a call to the headquarters about our location. Despite our movements, we were still getting zero signals. Times and often, we would see insurgents pass along the road with their bikes and heading towards a destination I couldn’t talk about. We were no longer interested in moving forward or backward, all we wanted now was signals.
Most of us were so weak that nobody was talking to anybody. We had to pluck some leafs and chew it raw, just to fill up our stomachs. During the morning period, we would leak the dew that fell on leafs and use it to quench thirst at least wet our tongues. I once ate a live insect that looked like a grasshopper. We couldn’t go around chasing for wild meat, when our lives were hanging on a balance. We were looking so mal-nourished, hungry and dirty. We barely spoke to each other because of the stench coming out from out mouth. We continued our quest for signals and rested when none was forth coming. We would sleep on trees and took turns to keep guard in turns. I remembered one night while I kept my turn; I started remembering everybody at home. I remembered my beloved Genea and how much I have missed her. I remembered the way mum cried about me leaving for such a mission. I remembered Bright’s mum and what she would be feeling now. I remembered Tunji’s sick mother and what have become of her son. I remembered Genea’s little brother whom I promised to come back and attend his school’s graduation party. I remembered all these and took my little time to cry. I cried not because of what I am passing through, but because people were waiting for me back home.
It was time to move the next day, and we set out on our way to an unknown destination. Our quest for signals continued and probably a miracle, it was like we could get something following a particular track. The track was leading nowhere else but the main road. Someone had to volunteer to go out there and make the call. “Who wants to go?” Lt Banji asked. One soldier volunteered, dropped his loaded rifle, looked around and sneaked out of the bush into the main pathway. It was a suicide mission, considering that it was a path frequented by terrorists almost all the time. It seemed to be their supply route for logistics, so they were always busy plying the route.
We watched in anticipation as he was right there where the signals were and held on to the phone tightly. He waved it around up and inputted the numbers inside. We spoke to them by using the coordinates to give out our locations. He was about putting down the phone before…
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