My face is lurid as I raggedly gasp for the cold air that filters through the surrounding woodlands. The bewailing chortles and cries of wild animals ghost eerily over the barrel-thick specter-looking trees. My rheumy eyes blink periodically to brush away the wisp of forest debris that had fallen on me some hoarse moments ago. Two hours of being grazed by misshapen coppices and spiky retarded thickets is not a joke.
That was close.
I splutter amid chilling bouts as I bend over to truss up my bell-bottom trousers cloaked with dust that laps enigmatically amid the sporadic eddies.
With a speedy swoosh with my shabby bandanna, I manage to make my feet a bit clean. I extract the tiny muggy green leather briefcase cautiously out of my armpit as if it were the prop of my life.
I had no choice but to put it there since the ruffians were very hot on their heels. I swear that must have been a marathon of a race I've ever had in my fourteen years of life.
I put it down on the leaf-covered ground crunching beneath my cracked naked feet before unzipping my voluminous bag to fish out a bottle of elixir to my thirst. Lately, I've started being somewhat weird. Occasionally, I would have severe spasms of thirstiness for water and acute pain in my back as if I were regrowing a cut part of my body. It had started that day when Andrew left this world, leaving me his only child. I'd rather say.
After a long-dead pause accompanied by a keen scan around the passive surroundings, my knees cave in from lassitude.
I slide down the mammoth oak tree that is standing adjacent to me before wearily letting out a sigh of relief akin to someone who has escaped from a hangman's noose. I take in a mouthful of the humid air.
I guzzle the contents of the bottle heartily and return it half-full in my rucksack large enough to house a full-grown he-goat.
I lean against the rugged bark of the oak tree that is leaking away its sticky sap. The rough exterior of the tree punctures my smooth skin as I pull a face subconsciously. A loud flutter of birds flits through the air.
I calm my nerves down and briefly close my eyes before taking the briefcase off the mulchy sun-baked ground that belches up foul odors and placing it on my lap. The distant gentle twitter of the birds drifting through my ears gives me a sense of companionship as the rigidity in my body lessens a little. I delicately fold my clammy hands across my heaving chest and regard the cerulean sky, and keenly at the same time, making sure that I notice any oddity or foreboding sign that might come about. They say that they fly in the sky to track their enemies – Humans. I couldn't speak more the first time I had this ridiculous story of bloodsucking creatures preying upon naive humans. What are they? I know not.
The whirlpools of dust being flipped about by the blast wind flit ominously to the distant town of Hilwa - my destination. The afternoon sun is continuously scorching the dry landscape that stretches out into the fuzzy horizon partially clouded by a disseminated yellow hue and interspersing Roko trees. It is strangely hot and cold at the same time. I knew it. It must be that they're drawing in on me. I will have to wait a bit, at least to revitalize my body and spirit.
I flinch away from the streaks of sizzling sunlight that pin-pricks through the canopy of splotched leaves of the oak tree to bake the ground beneath with unpleasant cracks and crevices.
My only goal is to get to Hilwa as fast as possible before the sun sinks behind the prodigious hilltops of - what would once be famed as "Den of Miscreants" - Oyugis.
Stepping into the safe reclusive walls of Hilwa town would signify good luck for Miss Garie. However, if I do not set foot on the dusty streets of Cartridge where the NLDA offices are, then that will be the end of Miss Garie. She will forever remain cooped up dejectedly in jail without any beacon of hope. And, honestly, I don't entertain the idea.
In the meantime, I have to get as far away as possible from the hot pursuit of the money-hungry, or blood-hungry, ruffians dispatched to track me down to snatch the briefcase from me, and I can hardly afford to waste even a millisecond. The slightest delay meant aggravated danger. That is the proportionality rule. Nevertheless, what I perfectly know is that I have to regain my stamina and vitality as soon as possible before girding up my loins for another round of wild running up the hill. I have to brace myself for this to fulfill the promise.
She advised me against handing in the briefcase to the ruffians because it would signify the end of humankind.
I remember she was tense and desperate as she was being frog-matched towards a patrol wagon. She knows better than anyone to underestimate the operations of the
The whole school had gathered to witness her arrest. In
a moment of bidding farewell to them, she had tipped me off and handed me the green leather briefcase under the veil of her coat away from the vigil eyes of the Jakachinja Espionage Mercenaries. The main problem was that they had indiscernible guises because they meddled with the civilians.
The Agoro Hill overlooks the arid landscape of Athousand where my previous home was. The houses look like dots with a mass of debris covering it entirely its half – The once-imposing Sontey.
It adjoined West Minster Street to the east and Boparke Street to the west. However, it was razed down by the Oyugis Police two months ago.
I imagine mother pacing back and forth in the sitting room with worry plastered on her glossy face as she howls curses and vulgarities. I had lied - I guess she already uncovered my whereabouts - to her that I was going to a football tournament before I sneaked off.
Little did I know that I was seen by one of the Espionage Mercenaries and later informed the others and started chasing me up the rugged terrain of Agoro Hill. That is roughly an hour ago. I can still see the dust lingering mysteriously above the thickets downhill that I had left in my wake in a mad rush.
It was fortunate that I had managed to outran them with my nimble legs, or else the worst could have happened. A wave of involuntary shudder cascade down my sweat-covered nape as I imagine the worst-case scenario that could have ensued. I would have been maimed, butchered, and mutilated by the barbarians. The last unfortunate circumstance that could've also met me is losing the briefcase that Miss Garie's life hinges on dangerously.
I don't want to lose the briefcase even at the cost of my life. At first, I had assumed that it would be an easy job to carry out this errand. However, never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to be so laden with lurking dangers that I nearly got captured twice by the ruffians and feasted on by a marauding pack of hyenas roughly a few hours ago. Moreover, I don't know what other kinds of danger lie in the offing waiting to pounce on me at any moment of my carelessness. I don't give a damn. What's more important is that I haven't lost the green leather briefcase - except for my shoes and lunchbox that I presume to be possibly lying strewn in an unknown land somewhere on this godforsaken Agoro Hill.
The briefcase on my lap rules over the fate of Miss Garie and Snyder, and for a while. I feel overburdened by the weight of its significance. I know it is being looked for frantically in every nook and cranny by the Jakachinja ruffians.
Cleverly, I had managed to circumvent them. Nevertheless, I know that a moment of carelessness will greatly hamstring my journey. As a matter of fact, with the bitter truth that my newfound powers tended to take a toll on me when I relax for a long time.
But why? Why should my life be at stake for someone's sake? Because she changed my life because she is my beloved teacher? Why should this fiasco culminate into this?
For a while, I question my very own conscience whether I am doing the right thing. Is it worth it? What is the point of all these? What benefits will I get to accrue from all these?
Will I be safe shouldering this heavy burden that rules over the fate of two entities?
Notwithstanding, I have even put my life on the line.
Sacrifice and love, hope, and determination were what governed the trajectory of my life. Practically, I can't merely brush them away, even at the expense of my life. They are what Miss Garie instilled in me during the winter of my plebeian life.
"Deliver it safely to William Snyder in Hilwa Town. Take the Agoro-Hill route and make sure you don't get noticed. He'll take care of it. Please take care of it. The fate of humanity lies on your shoulder now."
Those words still echo vividly from the deep recesses of my mind — crusty and poignant. Moreover, I had noticed a hint of utter hopelessness tinged in them as they flowed through my ears.
As I recall the events of the previous week, I can't help but shed a tear. A tear mingled with sorrow and distress. A tear mixed with yearning and desperation. A tear of overwhelming sadness.
I jerk out of the emotional vortex whirling in my head and nestle on the scraggy stone while at the same time keeping a vigilant eye on the serene surroundings in case the ruffians catch up with me. Honestly, it will be immaterial to use confusion or paranoia to describe the state I am.
I have to admit that this square-shaped block that's resting on my lap carries a sense of predestinate inevitability. It held the verdict to miss Garie's future. No! Not even her future but the destiny of my race.
An impending future that can crumble and manslaughter or
rise amid the tirade of corruption and injustices.
Any mistake and spells doom. However, if I deliver it safely to William Snyder then that will import good luck.
Such was the quirky nature of fate. Unpredictable!
As my mind wallows in a sea of thoughts, a trail of dust that looms over the oak tree dribbles upon me. I flutter my heavy eyes to fend them off.
I am dog-tired. My head is throbbing painfully.
I ruffle my hair and wipe off a layer of sweat forming on my forehead with the back of my hand before lying down cooped up like a fetus on the large rough stone that seemed to hold the tree in place. I make sure to put the briefcase under my head while the wind blows away the rotten leaves that had converged beneath the tall tree.
The scorching sun is still shining its glory over the downtrodden landscape.
There is nary a cloud hovering in the sky.
I cuddle close to the tree facing up, eyes absent-mindedly gazing into the sky as they slowly usher me into a precarious deep deathlike slumber. A minute later, I zonk out hands on my bony chest.
I had slept for what felt like an eternity before I think I heard something that had immediately roused me from my nap.
Brustle of leaves and heavy footsteps beating and creaking whimsically on the sun-baked ground. Praying that my ears have not played games with me in any way, my body shakes while at the same time I am petrified to the bones. That is it! I hear another sound of someone batting away low-hanging leaves squeezing their way towards me. Suddenly an icy wind slashes at my face followed by a procession of sinister cries of long-dead spirits pitching through the haunted vicinity. I recoil and close my eyes to ward off the illusionary wind.
They even have poltergeists. I shudder.
My heart is now palpitating wildly in my chest as I tremble with a sheer controlling power coursing through my body. My breathing pattern becomes erratic.
I could hear blood gushing down to pump my feet which are now wobbly. I open my eyes with the resolution that this is the time to take the initiative. I hurriedly stand up, tuck the briefcase under my armpit, strap my rucksack on my back and crick my neck to survey the surroundings. At any moment, they can appear.
"Hey, there he is! Quick, catch that wimp. Move it ."
Sordid and commanding, the voice booms, and I nearly collapse out of fright. Painstakingly, I try to stave off the force of the outburst by the mere metaphysical power emanating from my glabella. These metahumans are goddamned powerful that even a mere lambaste can make me teeter on the brink of passing out.
Several blurry silhouettes appear out of nowhere as they make their way towards me. I muster all the remaining accumulated energy inside my glabella and dash off at an unbelievable speed.
"Roger boss !."
"Make sure he doesn't escape again. Or else I'll decapitate you. Now move it."
The one who looks like the leader of the ruffians hollers as he shoots daggers at me. I wrestle myself from the overwhelming fright coursing through my body with a slight thud of my feet on the ground to ease the tremors rushing through my leg muscles.
I make a bolt for the dark interior of the forest that rattles sounds as if it's the climax of a horror movie. Better the demon I know. I mutter to myself as my chest rattled endlessly with sheer trepidation. I nearly tumble down as their raspy voices resonate in the cool umbrageous woodlands sending asphyxiating shivers down my spine. My blood boils and my Not until I reach there. There, where I can finally tone down from the past two weeks' tension and stress.
I can hear their feet torturing the ground while I desperately hope that maybe, I can bypass this debacle.
Maybe I also fulfill her duty and my promise.