I was subconsciously woken up by the unpleasant cries of agonized voices and foul lingering smells of burnt flesh around me. My tractor-heavy head swayed and my blood-shot eyes tried to open. I felt a zillion pangs of pain shoot through my veins and arteries every millisecond. In my sub consciousness, I could sense the pool of liquid I lay in. The foul odour occupying the air around my nose indicated it could only be blood. I tried raising my body, but it felt like ten logs of iroko bound together. It was impossible. I tried feeling for my legs, but they were dead – immovable. At that point, my mind started racing through several thoughts. Was I dead? Was I paralyzed? Was I dreaming?
Just then I heard a distressed shout slice through thin air. “Help! Help!!”
Then my eyelids popped open. At first, all I could see were dark blurry images. I mildly shook my head and gave another try. One eye started visualising better pictures, but the other remained irresponsive. After a dozen attempts, I knew the eye was gone. I turned my head to the right, trying to make use of my better eye. I was shocked out of my skins at my first sight. Lying next to me was a hollow child’s skull with fresh sticky blood and hot brains pumping out of it, the lacerated body lying unrecognisable by my feet. I tilted my head backwards, my heart racing furiously like the busy feet of an Olympic athlete. I saw another distorted body lying after that. This body which was soiled in thick blood had no head, one of its arms was chopped off, the other was turned inside-out; there was a concave around the chest and stomach region with blood gushing out of it like streaming water between two rocks.
I turned to my left and my blood-coagulated eye was greeted by dozens of gouged bodies lying over each other on the grass turf. As consciousness slowly dawned on me, I perceived the big trees scattered around me – us – and suddenly realised we were in the bush – forest. The canopy of the big trees shielded sunlight from penetrating fully. I kept wriggling, trying to get up, but couldn’t. Dollops of liquid started dropping from above onto my head. I moved my head, letting the liquid slide off it, and looked up again. Hanging askew on the branches of trees were bodies. Human bodies. Children bodies; lifeless, gruesomely slashed children bodies with fresh blood streaming out of them. I squeezed my fingers in tight fists and made to cry but all I felt in my eyes was hot air. No tear came out. The lifeless body of one kid hung on a close-by branch, held over by the shredded chains of his gorily distorted intestines. The head of another kid, sat on another branch like a bird’s nest, its eyes dangling out of their sockets.
“Help!” I heard another voice call again.
“Mum…mmy….,” another whimpered weakly by my side. I turned and saw a kid who couldn’t be above nine, one side of his face burnt beyond recognition and still smoking, with a huge vehicle wheel on his legs. My body grew cold immediately in shock. What horror! I made to get up again. This time my waist gave way but my legs wouldn’t. And so I sat on my seat, my eyes beholding the horror around me. I could see a lot more bodies scattered afar, all drenched in thick blood and heard some wailings from all around. I also heard the humming sound of a vehicle but couldn’t tell where it came from. My legs were soiled and I could see a deep cut on my right leg.
“Hey you! Give me a hand here!” I heard a tiny but serious voice scream at me. I turned and my eyes caught a small figure dressed in torn black singlet and short pants with patches. “Get up and come over here!” it yelled again.
As I gathered myself, I mumbled, “I … I can’t…. my legs…” The figure hopped over to my side and gave me a hand. I shook my head. “I can’t move.”
The figure – a little girl who couldn’t be up to fifteen – made a sigh and screamed, “Yes, you will! We haven’t got a lot of hands here!”
She bent over and gave me a big pull. I shrieked as my legs yielded to her firm pull, standing up. She spotted the cut on my right leg and muttered, “Oh.” Then, “Give me a second.” Her eyes roved around the area like a cat looking for a mice and I could tell what she was looking for. She picked a piece of tattered cloth and two flat pieces of wood from the ruins around and bent over to cast my damaged leg.
“Hope you can at least hop?” she asked with no emotion in her voice. Before I could utter a word, she continued, “Follow me!”
Like a humble lamb being led by the butcher to the slaughter house, I obeyed, limping behind her. We crossed over a few charred bodies with little life in them as they whimpered feebly. My heart was racing at a thousand beats per second now and I could actually feel it thumping against my chest like it would fall out.
“Where… Where are we going?” I asked weakly, not recognising my own voice, blood trickling down my forehead. She kept moving without a word. The pain in my leg was rising to my upper body and I was beginning to lose breathe. We walked past a little girl gasping for dear life, her waist chopped off revealing the jagged tips of her bloody spinal cord. I paused, turned around and saw her raising a bleeding hand to me, the looks in her innocent eyes begging me to help.
“Keep moving,” the girl in singlet and short pants called. “She is dead already.”
As we took a few more steps, I heard some crunchy sounds beneath our feet. I kept hopping, but when the sounds persisted, I halted and called at my partner. She turned around with an expression of disgust sitting heavily on her face.
“Ssh…” I hushed her, paying attention to the sounds beneath. Squatting down to the grass, I cleared the swards with one hand. Lying around were crumbs of dry crushed bones with fragments of human skulls too. These bones were devoid of fresh dripping blood. They looked old and decaying, like they had been there for a very long time. I glanced at my partner. For the first time since we met, she expressed real emotions – fear and confusion.
“Oh my God, where are we?” she gasped in terror.