’Nancy,’ Mariah whispered, ‘I think we are the only ones still on the face of the earth.’ Her voice rose, becoming hysterical. ‘I can hear the chopper but we cannot reach it. What do we do?’
‘I don’t know what we are going to do,’ Nancy replied soberly, ‘especially now that all the vines are facing us. Give me your hand, please. I don’t want to be taken by surprise.’
As soon as Mariah gave Nancy her hand, she got pulled into the ground, but Nancy did not let go her hand. As she went in right after her aunty, she noticed that vines made space for them in the soil so that they would not suffocate, but her aunty fainted anyway, out of fright.
Nancy did not want to faint, though she was scared stiff. She closed her eyes and imagined that she was in a crazy amusing ride. But then she panicked as reality set in and she knew she was really passing through soil. She felt faint, but before she could open her eyes to give way to the feeling assailing her, she landed on the ground with a thud.
She was so tired that she could not lift her hands. She just lay there, trying to catch the breath. Eventually, she opened her eyes and saw that father up was where she called the ground when she was standing on earth. It was a very long drop. She did not actually know where she was, but it was not on earth. She also knew that her parents were here.
She made to move her body but the pain held her to the ground, so she lay there trying to gather her marbles. Minutes later when she was more in control of herself, she stood, swayed a little on her feet, and landed on her butt with a jolt that took her breath. She tried again to stand up and managed to do that with the grace of a baby lamb that had never walked. The ground was just a little warm.
Nancy studied the place she was in. The room was made of vines and ivy. They crept from place to place as if they were soldiers on watch. The room had many exits and she knew that those doors led into other rooms. She was not sure she wanted to find out what was in it. Looking at it from the point of view of a vegetarian which she was not, one would think that it was a nice freaky room. There were other people there. On a closer check, she found out that they were soldiers and that they were not dead. Her aunty was unconscious. Nancy had no idea what to do about that.
The woman looked tired and older than her thirty-nine. She looked so vulnerable as she lay there on the floor, not knowing what was going to happen.
Nancy did not like that sensation. She put a hand to her head which was beginning to ache a little.
‘Aha! You are awake,’ said a voice from behind her.
Nancy turned around and saw a small green being floating at the entrance of one of the doors. She knew that she was Mother Nature before she was even told. Mother Nature had a very beautiful green face. Her hair was not like that of a human. It was made of strands of vine, and her clothes were made of green leaves. She had green eyes. The only two things which were not green about her were her black eyebrows and her yellow lips. She had a smile on her face.
‘Yes, I am awake. What are you?’ Nancy said boldly.
‘Oh, little human, do not pretend that you do not know who I am. The spirit you have in you will be ashamed of you.’
‘I know who you are, but I don’t know why you are doing this.’
Mother Nature floated into the room and looked around. ‘You humans are very inquisitive. Look around you, Nancy. This is how I planned for earth to be like. But the humans ruined it as they always do. I will not bore you with that story now. I want you to eat first, and then we can wait for the others to come round. I know you seek a solution. I will tell all of you everything at the same time. Make yourself at home. If you can’t, let the spirit in you be at home.’
‘What is this spirit in me you are talking about? I don’t have any spirit in me that needs being at home in this place,’ Nancy argued, surprising even herself. She ought to be shaking with fear.
Mother Nature laughed. ‘My, you are very stubborn. I am sure Gea is lucky she found you.’
‘Who the hell is Gea? And why would she be lucky she found me?’
‘In good time, stubborn one, in good time I will tell you who Gea is and why she would be thrilled to have you.’
Nancy took her time looking around the strange place. When one of the green lady’s many tiny servants came to call her, she was more than hungry. She had a feeling she could eat a lion and still be hungry.
She whistled under her breath when she entered the big green hall. It was an awesome room.
‘It is beautiful, not so?’ the servant that was sent to fetch her enquired. She called herself Iosis. She was chatty, and had been talking nonstop since they left Nancy’s room. It did not help that most of the things she was saying was irrelevant, both to Nancy and her cause. Nancy had to endure her or she would have killed the poor being by now. Her headache was also increasing rapidly.
‘I told Eisa that this room was wonderful but she told me that she preferred the main yard. That place is not good at all. It is full of wicked ivies that will not let you pass. When my mother regenerated, she told me that I would not know her. Can you imagine? That I won’t know my own mother?’
Nancy did not see the connection between a yard full of unfriendly ivies and the death of Iosis’s mother, never mind the reason the woman would not be recognized. She did not even want to try. She just shook her head. She had long learnt to just let Iosis talk until she was dead on her wings.
When she came into the room, she was more surprised to find out that she was not the only one summoned. So many people were there. Rita and Musa were clinging to each other. Sam, Job, Mike, OZed, MaryJohn, Chike, and Aunty Mariah were there as well. There were also four other soldiers among them. They all looked well.
’What game do you think you are playing? Nancy demanded. ‘Where are we right now?’
The green woman looked at her and gave her a tiny smile before she turned away, glancing around the green hall as if trying to find out where they really were. ‘You were always very brave, never afraid to speak your little mind, stubborn one. It is a pleasure meeting you again.’
‘I can’t say the same for you. What is going on?’ Nancy retorted.
‘My name is Vera and I am the sibling in charge of vegetations on earth. I am connected to the earth as you can already see. I know all your names and how your lives have been. You are in my place, my home.’
OZed cleared his throat. ‘Please can you explain what is going on here? I will really like to know what I am in for, green Vera.’
‘That is what is wrong with humans. They want to know everything, both the things they should know and the things that they shouldn’t. It is their downfall. They do not know when to stop or even where to start.’
‘Green lady,’ Sam put in, ‘I understand that you’re pissed at me and my race, because I am also human, but do you mind telling us what the meaning of this is? If you want to kill us or something, start and be done with it. I hate anticipation.’
OZed understood how Sam felt. He too was angry and afraid, but he was more pissed. If she wanted to kill them, she should do that and be done with it. He did not like guessing and imagining strange things in his head. If she wanted to let them go, then let her skip the ceremony, and do just that.
‘Oh! You humans, you never know when to get scared. I can do anything I want to do to you right now and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Yet you have the gall to tell me to be done with it. You should be pleading for your lives!’
She gazed at all of them like they were a bunch of annoying flies. But her eyes held no intention to hurt or kill. That was what puzzled Nancy. Mother Nature did not look threatening or deadly. She actually looked friendly. But it would be very hard to see with all her green get-up.
‘Please, Vera,’ Nancy began, ‘I know you have a good reason, or you would not have gone to all this trouble to get us here, but I will really like to know the reason. Please!’
She looked at Nancy and smiled. ‘I knew you had a good head on that your shoulder. Before I tell you anything, I must feed you. I don’t want to be a bad hostess. My father will have a fit if he should hear that. Iosis, Meibe, Siane, please serve the guests.’
‘I am not hungry,’ Mike said.
‘Thanks but I will pass,’ Job muttered.
‘This reminds me of the folktale my grandma used to tell me. The evil witch fed her victims so that they would be fat and meaty. Basing my decision on that story, I will pass, but thanks anyway,’ Sam said
‘You were always very funny, Sam. It is a good thing. It helps you more than you know.’
Sam pouted like a child. It grated on his nerves the way the green woman was acting like she knew all about them. He certainly did not like it.
‘I can see you like playing God with people.’ This was from Chike who could not endure it anymore. ‘Can you, please, tell us what you want with us? I am tired of this conversation.’