A Black and Yellow Birthday
There's a certain darkness that engulfs you when you're scared. Fear is the other great magic apart from love, the way it jumps on you and wraps it's arms around you like a famished lover.
I could feel my heart trying to leap out of my body in fast beats, but I kept running, although I was wounded, tired and scared. Then I heard the voice again. But this time, I didn't wait for my brain to interprete. Adrenaline made me understand biology as I dodged a machete which glittered right before me. I tripped but still couldn't wait. They were closing in. Even while running, I kept wondering what they wanted with me.
"Jesus!” I shouted as another round missed me. This was getting serious, I had already lost the bearing of where my hostel was and I didn't know if I was running in circles. Everything appeared the same; questions kept jumping at me from every parts if my head.
“What did I do?”
“Why me? Why today?”
All through my fight to stay alive, my phone kept buzzing in my pockets, which was very annoying cos it was obvious who is calling; Toby. He was probably calling to tell me I was running late with my birthday cake, only I was running for my life. The irony! I could still remember his voice as he had told me a birthday party wasn't complete without a cake and few drinks. Right then, I didn't even know where the cake was or the drinks. Just that I'm going to need a few stitches after jumping off the bike bringing the cake and drinks back from the store, a few buildings from my hostel.
That was where it started, the sounds of bullets struggling for freedom from the shackles of their casings. The moment I hit the ground, my heart left me behind, escaping before my legs could even move. Everyone ran in opposite directions like water splashes on contact with a stone.
Two guys followed me, one of them constantly ordering me to stop as I took a turn beside an Hausa man's kiosk. I could see his cloth struggling against the wind. I'm not sure if it was enjoying or struggling with the wind, it just swayed along as he ran. I remembered a well was beside the mosque a few metres behind the kiosk. I didn't go for the well, but hid behind the mosque and prayed silently for the spirit of James Bond and Captain America's strength all at once.
The guys found their way to the well and began to argue if I had jumped or not. I couldn't see their faces they were covered with a scarves bearing beaming skulls, but I recognized one of the voices, the one who had ordered me to stop.
I ran out from behind the wall and they both turned in a hurry, they seemed scared of me too and that seemed a little good. I turned and they moved a few paces backward. One of them tripped and fell into the well, I was scared and my face must have shown it. The other one charged at me with his machete, his voice was the familiar one and I dodged the bloodthirsty weapon escaping as he lost balance. I started running again hearing cries from different victims caught by these guys in black scarves and yellow shirts.
My clothes were torn from bushes trying to hold me back. The wailing cries of police sirens suddenly filled the air, adding to other rising voices. I kept running until someone stopped my in my track. I had collided with one of the guys. I jumped to my feet and there stood another one trying to hide his fear behind the club here held. His face went pale when he saw blood running down my right elbow, from the wound I got when I jumped off the bike. I tried to run but He blocked my path, and then asked; “did you kill Jasper?”
I told him I didn't know who Jasper was even as I stammered through it. He pulled back a bit but kept his guard up. I could feel his fear rising so I moved closer, we had almost spent five minutes staring at each other because he refused to let me pass.
The sirens grew louder and closer and I could feel his fear spiralling. God knows where the strength or thought came from, but I charged him like a cornered bull. He dropped his weapon and ran. My adrenaline was at its fullest and was visible but I was safe for the moment. I sat down on the grass trying make sense of where I was as it was a new environment, I had left my street already. I tried to stand but fell face down.
The gunshots were louder and more intense now. I found a bush that appeared like a cave and rolled myself in, deciding to wait the fight out. I kept hearing frantic steps just outside my hideout. As it was completely dark, it was impossible to see anything. Only the continuous sounds of the guns and siren prevaded the silent night.
I could feel the phone buzz against my laps. It scared me but I managed to pull it out. The screen came on with quite a lot of missed calls: fifteen, the notification read. I must have hit it on something during my falls as the screen was cracked. Who cares about a phone in such a situation, anyways? Maybe Joana, my bestie who would never be seen without her phone. Her other life, she always called it.
I must have slept off for a while because I was jolted suddenly by my buzzing phone again. Toby was going to die tonight, not by the guns or matchetes, by my hands instead. There appeared to be some form of relatives calm as the gunfires had ceased. Only the sirens kept wailing like many widows mourning the deaths of their beloved. Braving the odds, I set out of my hiding place.
The phone was able to light my way home and I made sure to avoid anyone or anything in my way. By some divine grace, I managed to get home without been arrested by the tired looking police officers who had faced the gangs. I saw a body leaning out of an uncompleted building. Blood had pooled around him or did that look like urea? Who cares? I was glad to be safe and headed home.
Toby was the first to see me. He ran towards me and threw himself on me when he got close. He was going to laugh or make some snide comments but I obviously looked too terrible to take a joke.
"Why you sef go dey wear black black na? Wey you know as this area be." Someone was definitely talking to me but I paid him no heed.
"E be like say Na because the idiot dey stammer make them think say na him." Toby was answering for me.
"Na me be weytin?" was all I could manage to blurt out before all the strength ran our of me. Exhaustion washed over and I felt drained.
"I think I'm going in now. I look like crap", I told them as I headed inside.
Apparently, I had been caught up in a gang war. The leader of the rival gang looked like me and I had just been at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Connecting the dots was now easy. That's why some of the guys that chased me were afraid. They thought I was the leader of their rival! The fools, if only they knew I was a scared rabbit!
Getting the cake should have been a piece of cake until a five minute stroll turned into a party of bullets, clubs and a boy dodging bullets to get home.
We all sang the birthday song anyways, accompanying it with stories of my death escape.