The Fifth Severance

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Chapter 27

“They’re splitting up,” I say as I see ten red dots on the GPS split into two groups of five and take off in two different directions. “You think they are trying to throw us off their trail?” I ask as I make a sharp right in conjunction with Alex and a large cloud of dust forms behind us.

“Naah,” she says. “I doubt that they’re smart enough to do something like that, but look frosty, we’re coming up on one group of them.”

True to her words, we see a group of about five post-humanoids running together towards who knows where about two hundred metres ahead of us. They seem to be completely unaware of our presence due to the silent bike engine.

“You think we should follow them and see where they’re going?” I say.

“Ummm, nope, let’s take them out,” she says as we draw in really close to the group of the fleeing monstrosities. “I’m pretty sure they are just a distraction.”

She revs the bike engine intentionally to alert the post-humanoids. When they look in our direction they begin to run faster and when they realise that they can’t outrun us, they panic and scatter. Perfect.

I tell Alex to steer and keep us steady as I take my bow out. She pulls us in close to the nearest post-humanoid who screeches at us when he sees us. aim Without delay, I take the shot and the arrow flies like, well an arrow, straight into its chest and it collapses to the floor.

“Nice shot,” Alex says in praise.

“Thanks,” I say as I put my bow away and grab the handlebars. “The bow is awesome.”

“Well, time for me to try my sword out,” she says. “Take the wheel for a while please.” I grab my handlebars and her blade makes a seductive ‘shing’ sound when it slides out of its sheath. She holds it up and the moonlight glistens off it and onto her helmet. That is one sleek blade.

I move us in closer to the next group of post-humanoids. She takes swipes at them that were so true that barely any blood spilled.

“Whoa, nice,” I say in surprise at how good she is with that blade. “Where did you learn to do that?”

“Mostly video games,” she says. “Yeah, sad, I know.”

“Quite,” I say and use my left hand to remove bow from my chest. “My turn.” I let go of the handlebars and draw out an arrow.

“Huh?” Alex didn’t hear me in time and that must explain why we’re both on the floor after a couple of wobbles and many, many tumbles. Thankfully none of us are hurt.

I quickly get to my feet and see one of the creatures fleeing while looking frantically over his shoulder at us. I take to my heels to try to catch up with him with Alex close behind me but it is gone too far. There’s only one option now. I stop, take out an arrow, aim and prepare to fire what would be the shot of my life. It looks over its shoulder and sees me doing this so it starts to bend its run in different directions to throw me off. I know that this shot will have to be of Katniss Everdeen accuracy to hit my target so I reposition my fingers and stick my tongue out with a bead of sweat travelling on my forehead; my face is a picture of unbelievable concentration.

After I’m satisfied with what’s in my sights, I let the arrow fly from my bow and it travels with heat-missile seeking accuracy and lands right in the back of its head about forty yards away and I almost leap about like a little girl when I see it fall to the ground; I never thought I could make that shot. I trot over to it and after making sure it’s really dead, I retrieve my arrow from its head, wipe the green blood off it and place it back in my arrow bag.

“Sweet take out!” Alex says with a high five when I rejoin her. “You’re a real pro with that thing huh?”

“It’s all in the fingers,” I say modestly. “You gotta...”

“Look out!” she suddenly shouts and I instinctively dive to my right. She draws out her sword and takes a swipe at something with her blade. I hear a screech of pain then silence as a body slowly collapses to its knees, then to the floor.

“Whoa that was close!” I say as I stare at the post-humanoid she just took down.

“Tell me about it,” she says. “But I guess they aren’t fast enough to surprise experienced pros like us huh?”

“Of course not,” I say and smile back to her. “Hey, did any of them have the princess?”

“Nope, they must have been the decoy group,” she says while she wiggles her hand in pain.

“Why what’s wrong with your hand?” I ask and draw in closer to take a look. “Did it get you?”

“No, it’s nothing,” she says as she raises her hand to show me the small bleeding cut on her left index finger. “It’s just a little scratch. I pulled my sword out too quickly. I’m fine Dr. Blay,” she says in response to the worried look on my face.

“If you say so,” I say. “Let’s get going. We’ve gotta catch up with that other group. They are bound to have her.”

We walk back to where we crashed a few moments ago, pick up the bike and zoom off with the second group of post-humanoids in our sights. Their decoy worked brilliantly because according to the GPS, they have really stretched us but, with this thing doing a hundred and twenty miles an hour, they’re not getting away from us that easily.

We literally tear up the desert and only stop when the GPS lands us at a location where we can no longer use the bike anymore. We get off and park it somewhere safe.

“You are sure it says in there?” I say and stare apprehensively into the mouth of the dark cave which kind of looks like a skull from the outside.

“Yes, very sure,” she says as she looks into her communicator screen. “It also says that there are over twenty life forms in there Dr. Blay! You really think we can do this alone?”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine Alex,” I say with false confidence. We’re probably going to die in there. “Let’s go.” After staring into my face for a few seconds, she stuffs her communicator back into her bag and pushes me back as she unsheathes her sword.

“What the?” I say in shock.

“I have the more pro-active weapon so I’m leading this one,” she says with such conviction that I can’t argue with her.

“Hmmm, okay,” I say after thinking for a while. I know it’s dangerous but I know Alex; upon the first sign of danger, she’ll end up back behind me. Let’s let her have some fun. “But Alex, please, look where you swing that thing. I don’t think the chief would be too happy if we brought his daughter back without a head or if she’s missing a few limbs.”

“Noted.” She walks confidently into the cave and I follow with my bow poised.

This is either going to be really fun, or really, really painful. Either way I’m going out with Alex by my side. That’s good enough for me.


We tread carefully through the dimly lit cave, carefully looking out for any signs of human life. As we walk through the straight cave path, we only see only bones and other random items scattered all around. Not good.

“This must be bloodthirsty mutant central,” Alex whispers to me as she kicks a blood-stained white shirt out of the way.

“I think so,” I say. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one place before.”

We navigate a small turn after we scan the area carefully and when we are sure the coast is clear, we go around it and keep on our straight path.

“It’s quiet,” Alex says as we keep walking, “Too quiet.” No sooner do those unfortunate words leave her mouth does something inevitably occur to prove her quite off the mark.

“This is your fault Alex!” I say. “You jinxed it!”

We had terminated of the straight tunnel into a large empty room of sorts and from seemingly nowhere, about ten fierce-looking post-humanoids appear from the shadows and stop us dead in our tracks.

“Where did they come from?” she says as she raises her sword in a battle stance.

“We’ve got this, right Alex?” I say with false confidence and she nods confidently even though there is visible fear in her eyes.

They inch forward step by step which causes us to take tiny steps backwards. This was looking like a fair fight until six more appear behind the first set.

“Okay, we might be in trouble now,” I say.

“Ummm, Dr. Blay?”

“Yeah?”

“Remember when you said you were sure we can handle what is in this cave?”

“Yes, why?”

“You must feel pretty dumb now because we’re dead!” she says as they inch forward and push us further back. She takes wild swipes at the ones just before her but they easily dodge her attack and keep inching us backwards.

“Okay this looks bad,” I say as I shoot an arrow which they dodge with such ease it’s like they’re mocking us. “I might have lost all hope right now, if we didn’t have the Nakamura triplets as back up!” I say.

“What?”

“Hello, Nakamura triplets, we could really use some back up right about now!” I shout into the air as they pin us into the rock wall behind us.

I can see them opening their mouths in hunger as they inch ever closer to us, ready to make us their midnight snacks. Those ninja jerks ditched us! We’re dead.

A piercing war cry in Japanese emanates from behind them and suddenly they begin to fall one by one. While they’re distracted, we manage to get away from them and hug one of the walls.

“What the?” Alex says. “What in the world was that?”

“That, Alex, are the Nakamura triplets!”

“Who?” she says and almost instantly one of the ninjas, maybe their leader appears in front of her leading to a scream of fear. He bows to us and we bow back then he goes back to the fight.

“Hmmm fearless leader indeed,” I tease Alex.

“Hey you never told me it was those creepy ninja dudes you were calling and besides, I already told you I’m scared of them.”

“Sure, excuses.”

“Whatever,” she says bitterly. “Shouldn’t we help them?” We turn and watch as one of the triplets takes down one of the creatures and disappears.

“I think they’ve got this,” I say. “Besides, I think we’ve got bigger problems.” I point to a figure clad in a long, grey robe that steps out from the shadows and observes the fight. It brandishes a weapon but hangs back from the fight. When she removes her hood, she looks, human, female, and really, really familiar.

“Who is that?” Alex asks as she brandishes her sword ready to confront the figure.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Maybe she’s their queen,” I speculate as I take out a post-humanoid with an arrow and turn back at Alex.

“Well whoever she is, she needs to be taken down now!” Alexandria says. She starts to charge at the robed woman who sees her coming out of the corner of her eye and dodges sprightly.

Her hood falls completely I see that she is indeed human and Alex also stares at her before charging again. The woman takes out a sword of her own and they engage in a high-intensity sword fight. When their swords clang together, I spot the reflection of the woman’s face in Alex’s sword and almost drop my bow to the ground.

“Martina?” I whisper softly and she turns a bit to me then re-concentrates on her opponent.

“You have impressive skills child but, I’ve been doing this a lot longer,” she says and bumps Alex with her head and she lands with a thud on the floor. Almost instantly, she’s up on her feet and re-engages the woman.

I on the other hand am on the verge of collapsing from shock and have to keep staring at my hands to make sure that this isn’t some kind of sick dream. I keep staring directly at the woman brawling with Alex and don’t really know what to think except that I’m going crazy. It’s not until one of the Nakamura triplets appears before me and startles me that I return to reality; I was completely lost in my thoughts.

“Gosh don’t sneak up on me like that!” I yell. “You almost gave me a heart attack!”

“Sorry Dr. Blay san,” he says as he takes off his black mask. “You two go, we create diversion, big smoke bomb.” He points to the exit on the other side of the room and my focus returns to him and his plan.

“Don’t hurt the woman in the robe,” I tell him and he looks at her, nods and rejoins the fight.

“Alex, knock her down!” I say from behind her and this time, she kicks the robed woman to the ground.

“You may have been doing this a lot longer but my generation knows something yours doesn’t, cheating!” Alex says snarkily then looks at me expecting instructions.

As the woman struggles to her feet, she looks at me for a few seconds and whispers, ‘Ignatius?’ under her breath as I read her lips. I am tempted to rush to her side but the whole place immediately becomes pitch black with smoke. I feel Alex’s hand grab my arm as we run towards the other exit before the smokescreen clears.

We keep running blindly through the tunnel until we finally reach a sharp drop. We roll down for about ten metres until we crash heavily in what looks like an underground room. Once my eyes adjust to the darkness, I notice that there are cages all around us.

“Friend Alex, Dr. Brain, over here!” we hear a familiar voice and run toward it. The princess is locked in a cage and thankfully unharmed.

“Akosua, oh thank God you’re safe,” Alex says. “Let’s get you out of here.” I grab a stone from the ground and use it to smash the lock open. She jumps out and hugs as soon as it opens and we immediately turn to leave since we know we don’t have that much time.

“Wait, we forgot her!” she says suddenly as she escapes our grip and rushes back to a cage next to the one by hers.

“You forgot who?” Alex asks.

“My mother.”

“Your mom?” Alex says in flabbergast. Where did she come from?” I quickly walk over, check in the cage and when I see a woman, I smash the lock of the cage. I have to adjust quickly to catch the woman who falls out. She looks extremely weak and tired.

“I found my mother,” Akosua says as we restart our escape.

“Wait,” Akosua’s mother says weakly between me and Alex who are balancing her on our shoulders. “They would be expecting us if we use this way, let’s use another way.”

“Do you have another one in mind?” I ask her.

“There...there is an underground passage...” she says weakly as if she’s going to faint so I rebalance her arm on my shoulders.

“An underground passage?” I say.

“Yes, good idea mama!” the girl shrieks excitedly.

“What is the underground passage?” I ask a bit impatiently.

“There are some underground tunnels that run all under this place. We can get out easily through there. There,” she points back and we see a little hole in the floor and walk toward it.

We toss a small stone into it and wait for the sound of it hitting the floor. It makes a small splashing noise in the water below and it doesn’t sound too far. This is a good option too I guess. I let Alex and Akosua go down first before I come down with the queen. It drops down into an even darker and damp-smelling underground tunnel. We fall into a shallow pool of water which I have no idea how it got down here. I swiftly dismiss the thought and trudge through it.

While we navigate the twisty, damp caves, I keep seeing images of that robed woman in my minds-eye. It couldn’t have been her could it? It’s not possible. Isn’t it? She, if it is indeed her, then she hasn’t aged a bit since I last saw her, except for the fact that her hair is a bit unkempt and feral, but apart from that, I really, really think that it’s her. I can’t be completely sure at this point since it is possible that my mind could play tricks on me if deep down I really wanted to see her badly. That must be what is bamboozling me, yeah, that must be it, or is it. I know deep down that it is her, but, how?

After a few minutes of walking through that disgusting water which I begin to suspect is post-humanoid excrement, yuck, we reach dry land and within no time, we arrive outside after climbing a small hill. I walk toward the parked bike as they all stand and exchange pleasantries. I spark it and hop on because I’m hoping to get back to the Osamanpa tribe as quickly as possible to get all my thoughts back in order.

“Come on Alex, let’s go before they start coming out,” I say to her as she makes small talk with the queen.

“Okay fine,” she says as they walk to me. “Wait, how will we all fit on that thing?”

“Hmmm, I didn’t think of that,” I say as I scratch my head in confusion. “Okay, Akosua can sit in front of you at the front then the queen behind me, since she’s heavier.”

“Okay, let’s try it.”

We do the arrangement I propose and after almost falling off and me catching her, the queen decides to wraps her arms around my belly for safety.

“Okay, everybody good?” I say.

“Yeah,” Alex says.

“Yes,” the princess says.

“Me too,” the queen says as she hugs my waist even tighter and rests her head on my shoulder, making me extremely uncomfortable.

“Okay, here goes,” I say as I spark and Alex sparks and when we step on the pedals, we begin to move. It takes a little while longer to reach top speed but once we do, it’s just a leisurely cruise back to Osamanpa.

As we approach the Osamanpa tribe, I see day breaking in the sky and my eyes seems to fall as the sun rises. I can only imagine how happy the chief will be to see his daughter and his lost wife too, a two-peat when he expected only one. It will be a delightfully mushy family love affair which I’m afraid I’m going to have to miss since I haven’t slept in over twenty hours and feel about ready to collapse right here right now. I’m only managing to keep going due to my energy reserves.


When we park before the entrance of the Osamanpa tribe, I see small peeks of the sun already starting to show in the sky, leading me to believe that it might already be around 5:30 in the morning. If I don’t get to bed soon, I might just die from shiny sunlight and make Alexandria look really, really bad. Wow, I’m so sleepy that I’ve already stopped making sense. I need to find a bed, fast!

We enter the tribe through the usual way in-between those trees and immediately catch sight of the crowds who are gathered and looked to have been eagerly awaiting our return. Whispers of, ‘Oh my gosh, look, they rescued the princess’, and ‘who’s that woman with them?’ and ‘is that the queen?’ emanate from the masses gathered beside the road. When they realise that it is indeed the queen with us, they bow at her feet as we walk by, making this a rally fitting welcome if you ask me.

“Rise subjects, today is a day of rejoicing not of supplication,” she says as we walk past the people who don’t heed but continue bowing.

The chief is just a few meters away at the end of the road with Jubele by his side and when he hears her voice, he immediately looks up, drops what he was holding, it looks like a sceptre which Jubele quickly picks up, spins around, looks at her for five seconds as if to verify that it is indeed her then rushes to give her a bear hug her with such blind hot passion that the sleep almost vanishes from my eyes. It’s only love that can make a man of that size run at such a speed.

“My darling, is it really you my love?” he asks repeatedly amidst a barrage of tears, hugs and stares all wrapped up into a shocked and excited package that is the chief right now. It’s really strange to see a man of that size crying but it’s also really touching; he must really have missed her. I know that feeling.

“Is that you? My darling? Is that you?” she keeps asking in a way that makes me think that she actually can’t see him.

“Yes it is! It is my delicate wounded flower,” he says as he rubs her face and Alex and I step aside to give them space.

“Oh Kazzy, it’s been so long!” she says as she uses her hand to feel his broad face. “Can you please walk me over to the throne? I can barely remember the way. It’s been such a long time; about three months is it?

“Yes it has been about three months my love,” he says with visible joy in his voice as he leads her over to the throne. “I’m just so happy that you’re back my love.”

“As am I,” she says with a slight English accent that complements her English features perfectly. He holds her hand as she feels her way into her seat before the chief also takes his seat beside her.

“Wow,” I say to Alex who is almost in tears at all that has just transpired. “I’ve never seen someone so tired that they forget the way to a chair,” I say and snicker referring to the queen’s odd behaviour.

Before I can react, I feel a tiny but firm hand smack the back of my head in such a way that my drowsiness has been eliminated for the time being.

“Hey, what was that for?” I say as I rub the back of my head.

“That is no way to talk about a blind person Dr. Blay,” she says. “It’s extremely rude and honestly I think you should know better.”

“Well I don’t...wait a minute,” I re-evaluate what she just said in my tired mind and reframe my answer, “Did you just say, blind?”

“Yes, blind,” she says. “The queen.”

“You mean she cannot see, at all?”

“Ummm, yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what blindness does,” she says sarcastically.

“Wow, I didn’t realise,” I say as my face falls in shame.

“Oh please, don’t try to get me to buy the story that you don’t know she’s blind.”

“Honestly look at me Alex,” I say. “Would a man in my current sleep-deprived state try to pull anything underhanded? Get this, I’m so tired that I can barely formulate complete sentences let alone form an elaborate plan to pass my incredulously rude behaviour off as selective nonchalance.”

“Hmmm, I guess so,” she says.

“Imagine this, I’m so sleepy I don’t even understand what I just said,” I say and she bursts out laughing. “How is it that you are wide awake even though you haven’t slept either?”

“I’m younger than you dude,” she says smugly. “You’re just old.”

“Yeah if you say so,” I say without the energy to even retort. “You know what? When they end their love fest, please tell them that I went to bed okay. I can’t function properly anymore.”

“Will do.”

“Thanks,” I say and turn away. I skulk with my head down and hood up past them as I head back to our hut for some well-deserved shut-eye.

I try to blend in with the rejoicing crowds and lustfully gaze upon the object of my affections which is just a few meters away. I head steadily for it and it seems I’m home free, that is until...

“My friend!” I hear behind me but I don’t stop and pretend I didn’t hear. “Dr. Blay!” Dang it! He knows my name. I pause a bit to put on a fake smile to mask the hate face I have on underneath then turn to face him.

“Hey Chief,” I say. “I can see you are enjoying the company of your queen and your daughter so I just thought I’d head back to the hut to rest for a minute.”

“You can do that later,” he says in a tone that seems to be more commanding than suggestive; this isn’t good. “I just had my servants prepare a feast to thank you and Miss. Alexandria for reuniting my family and I am making you two the guests of honour.”

“Oh wow, that sounds great but, honestly I’m incredibly tired so...”

“Okay, see you there,” he says then turns away from me.

“Huh?” I ask in reply to the strange answer; I think he didn’t hear me properly. I just stand there in confusion as I contemplate whether to go into the hut and take my nap or whether I should go to that ‘feast’.

“That means you must be there. Rejecting an invitation to a feast by the chief is the ultimate insult in Osamanpan culture,” a guard whispers to me as he passes by. Since when are invitations to eat an obligation instead of a choice?

I’m going to attend that feast since I’m not here to insult anyone’s culture but don’t blame me if I fall asleep in a bowl of soup or something.


“As the sun rises on our land my people,” the chief rises to give a speech, “We are here to honour these two heroes, Miss. Alexandria Knos-tere and Dr. Ignatius Blay who risked their lives to bring my family back together and this is a gift that can never be repaid with mere mortal objects so I just hope that the eternal friendship and support of the Osamanpa royal family is enough.” He takes a drink from his cup and so does everyone so I follow suit. He then retakes his seat three seats over from us.

We were placed on a table together with the Chief and his family, which took about twenty arduous minutes to sort out; twenty minutes I could have used to sleep. I’ve decided to shut sleep out of my mind for now and just focus on being a good guest of honour. Good luck me.

The food is brought out is a superb assortment of fruits, veggies and meats and is splayed out before us. I would water at the mouth big time at any other time upon seeing this but honestly, I’m running on empty right now and can barely muster enough saliva to swallow let alone water over food. I just nibble on some shrimp in the mean time as my mind remains in autopilot.

“Hey Dr. Blay, over here,” Alex calls me over from the table. She left a few minutes ago to use the bathroom or something but now is back holding the transceiver.

“Where did you get that thing?” I say as I watch her fiddling with it.

“This was getting really boring so I went to the room and got it,” she says. “But that’s not why I called you; look.” She shows me the screen of the device and I examine it.

“You got a signal?” I say excitedly and she nods. “You got a signal? I can’t believe it! Wow! How?”

“Oh, I was just in the room fiddling with it and not knowing what to do next so I decided to try it again from scratch, only this time re-routing the IP address and voila, a signal.”

“You are a genius Alex!” I say as I take her into a hug. “Do we broadcast the message now or what?”

“Why not, there isn’t anything important going on now.”

“Okay then good luck with that,” I say and she gets a confused look on her face. “Tell me what happens okay?”

“Hey where are you going?” she says.

“I’m tired Alex,” I say bluntly. “I need sleep, now.”

“I can’t do this alone Dr. Blay, I need you.”

“For what?”

“Please,” she says. “I need you for moral support. You can go to sleep after we’re done.”

“Fine, let’s go,” I say in concession since I have no more energy to argue further.

We walk over to Chief Alava and ask him to be excused and he just waves us away. He’s busy making kissy-face with his wife as Akosua just sits there looking innocent while she masticates a pork portion bigger than her petite hand. We head out by cutting through the partying villagers and go up that that hill we first climbed when we were going to get the transceiver.

“Okay, here goes,” she says and presses the button and begins to speak. “Mayday, mayday, this is a distress signal from Alexandria Knoster of the Knoster party on an Intel mission outside of the Underworld. We are currently stranded somewhere roughly twenty-five to fifty kilometres east of the Underworld. Please send a mode of transportation and medical supplies.” We wait silently with breaths held as we await a response.

After a few seconds, it seems that the signal isn’t strong enough and she tries again; nothing. We let the feelings of disappointment overcome us and are about to give up. We start descending the hill to return to the drawing board then...

“Hello, is this an Alexandria Knoster who just sent a distress call?” Her eyes light up with hope as she holds up the transceiver and prepares to speak into it. “Hello, anyone there?”

“Yes, we’re here!” she basically screams into the device. I hope the guy wasn’t wearing a headset. “This is Alexandria Knoster and we do need a rescue and medical supplies,” she says pleadingly almost on the edge of her toes.

“Yes Miss Knoster, we received your distress message and are preparing to send a helicopter to convey you and your party back here. Please keep your finger on the broadcast button as we triangulate your position.”

Even though we don’t move just in case we may interfere with the triangulation, we burst into many expressions of joy by shouting and screaming loudly into the air and generally just being extremely happy because we have something we haven’t had in such a long time, hope.

“Okay Miss Knoster,” the voice from the transceiver speaks, “We have triangulated your position and we are sending a rescue helicopter which will be there in about three hours to pick you and your party up. See you then.”

“Thank you very much,” Alex says then lets her finger gently off the button.

Before she cut the connection, I picked up something weird. I faintly heard a voice shouting ‘don’t tell them...’ then something before the line went dead but I couldn’t make out the rest; weird. It must be a sleepy hallucination or just feedback but who cares anyways? We’re getting rescued and that’s the very reason why we’re dancing with unbridled joy on top of the hill.

“Whoo!” Alex screams. “I cannot believe we are finally going home.”

“I know,” I say. “And with only three hours to do everything we want to do out here until then.”

“Yeah, so what do we do?” Alex says as we descend the hill and head back to Osamanpa.

“Honestly, I think it’s time we say goodbye to our good friends of Osamanpa since this might be our last opportunity to do so.


We enter the tribe as all the festivities go on and head straight for the chief to inform him of our departure.

“Ummm, your highness, sir,” Alex says as we stand before him. “We have some big news to tell you.”

“Really?” he says. “What is it my friends?”

I speak this time since Alex looks like she’s going to cry. “We’ve finally managed to get into contact with our people back home and they are sending a helicopter to send us back. We just wanted to thank you for being so hospitable to us and treating us like family before we left.”

He gets off his seat without saying a word and I think he’s going to slap us as he extends his hands but I see that it isn’t for a painful face smack but instead it appears to be a hug. We take our hugs from the chief and he retakes his seat.

“You two have been incredible friends to us and our people and we just want you to know that you are welcome back here anytime.”

“Thank you very much,” Alex says. “We’ll never forget you guys.”

We turn to leave when we hear another voice belonging to someone we forgot to say goodbye to. “Where are you guys going? They haven’t even started the entertainment yet,” she says with such innocence on her face that I can’t bring myself to break her heart.

“Look Akosua,” Alex says as she bends down to face the girl at face level. “Dr. Blay and I have to go home now.” She contemplates this information before I see a tear welling up in her eyes. “No don’t cry! We’ll be back, I promise okay. Give me a hug.” Alex hugs the little girl and I bend down to hug her too.

“Take care of yourself okay and be a good girl for mommy and daddy,” I say as she leaves my arms.

“I will, Dr. Blay,” she says my name correctly for the first time and I can’t help but smile at her. We head back to the hut to get our stuff and when we come out, the whole village is gathered to send us off. We wave to the crowds and I feel a little tear welling up as we exit through the trees.

Even though the amount of time we’ve known them is very small, they have become like family to us and leaving family is always difficult to do.

Once outside, I just sit on a rock and try to get my thoughts straight. “Hey Alex, what do we do with the...” I check the clock on my communicator, “Two hours forty-three minutes we have left out here?”

“I think you know.”

“I do?” I say and she nods. “And that is?”

“I know you think that woman we saw back in the cave where we rescued Akosua and the queen was your wife, Martina,” she says and I make an exasperated sound because I know what she is thinking now.

“How could you possibly have known that?” I say.

“Duh because I’m not dumb,” she says. “And also, you said her name while we were fighting. That’s the reason I didn’t hurt her.”

“You may be right, but what does she have to do with anything?” I say. “I could really use a nap right now. My eyes are swimming in my skull.”

“Wait here, I’ll be right back.” She disappears around a corner as I’m left alone with my thoughts.

Is it really possible that the woman we saw was in fact Martina? I guess it is possible but the odds are so remote control that...oh gosh, I need to get to bed.

“Two choices Dr. Blay,” Alex says as she comes back with the bike. “One, you lie here and sleep the rest of the two and a half hours away and we get back home and you are left wondering what if she really was Martina or two, you get on this bike and we go back to that cave and rescue your wife. I think you know which one to choose,” she says as she gets on and revs the engine of the bike.

“Yes, I do,” I say and she smiles. “I choose...to sleep.”

“Get on,” she commands me and I do as she says. It was worth a shot but honestly the second option is definitely the smarter one.

“You are to blame if I fall asleep on the way and we crash.” We prepare to after putting on our helmets.

“I’ll take my chances.”
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