RAIDERS OF THE INNOCENT - Episode 6

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - helicopters, cave, Captain, soldiers, radio, river, tree, mahogany, gunshots rang out, gun, soldiers fanned out in all directions, kill.


“I want helicopters on the perimeters of Bamenda!” The soldier shouted into the phone. He had pushed Mathew into the back of the truck in handcuffs. Mathew had held his nerves, refusing to divulge the whereabouts of his father and uncle. “Sir, the helicopters have been on patrol. They sighted two jeeps heading into Elekari forest a short while ago,” the voice on the other end of the phone line replied. “I want a helicopter here now! Send men into the forest right away!” “Yes sir!” Izunga stopped abruptly. He heard the sound of a helicopter. Tiwana followed suit, bringing his jeep to a halt. “They are here,” Izunga said to him. Ramuna held her children close to herself. “Are we going to die, mum?” her son asked. “No, Akukara, we are not going to die,” Ramuna answered, fighting back the tears that threatened to descend on the corridors of her eyes.  “But why are we running? Who is after us? Where is daddy?” Akukara continued to badger his mother with questions.

“Daddy will soon be here…yes, he will soon be here,” Ramuna answered. She was almost talking to herself. She needed some reassurance that Idriga was still alive. “We have to keep going,” Tiwana suggested. The forest is dense enough to give us cover. Soon, those helicopters will start dropping off soldiers. We need to get to the cave before foot soldiers are in. It is a big forest, if we can get to the cave, it will be hard for them to find us,” Tiwana added. They knew a cave, a place they had been visiting since they were boys. It was a massive cave with a small entrance. It opened up to you once you passed through the narrow opening. They had constructed some kind of rooms with beddings in the cave. Izunga and Tiwana would go out there every dry season for hunting, spending days deep in the jungle. They had beaten a path for their jeeps over the years. They knew where to leave the jeeps and walk the rest of the way so that no one could find the cave. It had been their practice for years in an attempt to make sure that no other person found their treasured cave.


They stepped on the accelerator and sped deeper into the jungle, following their path. “I think I can see where they are going,” a helicopter pilot said to his colleague. “I see birds flying into the sky along a particular path with dust rising in the air. It is hard to see, but I think they are driving along this path,” he explained to his colleague. “You are right!” Start dropping men down,” the more senior ranked officer ordered. Soldiers parachuted down into the woods. Through a less dense patch in the canopy, Izunga sighted soldiers dripping off a helicopter. His heart sank into his stomach. He increased his speed. They were just a short distance away. Then, he heard gunshots. The children began to cry. Ramuna’s eyes were teary too. Her parents and parents in-law were shaken up. “They are shooting at us,” Izunga shouted, sticking his head out the window. “Yes, but keep going brother!” Tiwana shouted back at him.


“Sir, I wanted to cover this end, in case he runs this way,” Idriga answered. “Did you not hear on the radio that we should focus on the west end?” The soldier asked him. “But sir, it is only a matter of time before he runs in any direction. I thought I should position myself here to make sure he does not get away.” “Soldier, in the military, you obey orders. You cannot decide what you want to do and when to do it. The order was clear and simple. What is your name? Stand at attention when you talk to me!” The officer barked at him. His throat went dry. The officer had a sheet in hand. Idriga wondered if he had the names of all the men taking part in the operation on the sheet. I have no idea what to answer him he thought, instinctively inching closer to the officer. “My name is…sir, my name is…” “Stand at attention mister! Who trained you?” “You sir,” Idriga answered. “Tell me your name, you bunkum!”

He stared down at the sheet as he awaited Idriga’s name. Quickly, Idriga lunged at him with his pen knife and stabbed him in the chest. He was about to shout, but Idriga quickly placed a hand over his mouth and muffled his voice. His eyes stared emptily and painfully into the trees. Death stared back at him. Idriga’s training was coming in handy. The officer died on the spot. He had struck a deadly stab to his chest, cutting a major artery. He dragged the officer’s body underneath the brushes, piling grass over it as much as he could. As he was about to leave, a message came over the radio. “Captain Aligunga! Captain Aligunga, where are you! Report your location Captain Aligunga!” Idriga ran back to the officer’s body and check his name badge. It read, captain Aligunga.

Idriga knew if the captain did not report, his last known location would be swarmed by soldiers in a matter of minutes. He sped off, dashing through the woods with energy. Kakakaka!!!! A soldier shot at him. He ducked behind a mahogany tree, took out the gun he had taken from the soldier he killed and fired back. More gunshots went off, forcing Idriga behind the tree. He waited for a moment without shooting back. Then, there were more gunshots. He lay still, peeping across the forest from an acute angle. Then, the gunshots stopped. “Maybe we hit him,” a voice suggested. “Let’s go and check!” “I think we should send in men from the other side. If he is still alive, he will shoot at us the moment we step out from the cover of the trees,” another soldier countered. “I hear he is a cunning fox. We can’t take chances,” he insisted.

“I think he is dead,” insisted the first one to speak. He stepped out from behind the trees and began to walk carefully towards the big mahogany tree, his gun in hand, aimed firmly at the tree. Reluctantly, the other two followed behind him. Kakakaka!!! Idriga stuck out his neck abruptly and shot at them. The three of them fell, reeling in pain. He could not tell if they were dead or just injured. He darted to the next mahogany tree, stopped for a moment and then sped off. “He is heading for the river!!!” One of the shot soldiers shouted into the radio. Idriga could hear him over the radio. “Which direction? East or west?” A voice barked angrily into the radio. “I don’t know sir,” answered the wounded officer. Idriga increased his speed, dashing towards the river fiercely. “I don’t know, sir. We are down. I think two of my colleagues are dead.” “What is your name?” The officer asked. “Ismellak Augungu, sir.” “Head to the west towards the river!!!” A voice shouted into the radio. Idriga made a sharp turn to the east, dashing in the opposite direction. He was careful to avoid where the wounded soldiers were lying.

Soldiers drifted westwards in search of him, while he ran eastwards towards the river. He could smell the river now. It was not too far off. Humidity was increasing, and he could feel it. Then, out of nowhere, he was shot at. He dropped to ground and quickly found a tree to duck behind. His heart was slamming ferociously. He listened to movements around him. He could not tell where the gunshot was coming from. He stuck out his neck to look, and then another shot was fired at him. He ducked back behind the tree, another mahogany. A moment later, he shot in the direction the gunshot had come from. His gun would not fire after three rounds. He was out of bullet. His anxiety amplified. He dropped the gun and dashed to the next tree, and more gunshots rang out. He remained behind the tree. “I think you are out of bullet. If you move, I will shoot you,” a voice yelled at him. He attempted to run, but more gunshots rang out, almost deafening him. The shooter was close by.

Idriga spun to the left in an attempt to run, but the soldier shot at him again. He was frozen behind the tree. Then, the nozzle of a gun appeard in front of him. A six foot seven inches soldier stood before him with a gun pointed at him. “It is you,” Idriga said. He recognized the soldier. He was one of the men who shot Linda that night. “Yes, it is me, Idriga. How far did you really think you could run?” “You know I did not kill Linda,” Idriga protested. “I know. After all, I pulled the trigger that killed her.” “So, why are you after me?” ‘You are the scapegoat, my friend. And you made yourself the scapegoat. If you had kept your mouth shut, you’d be in the presidential villa, enjoying life with your family. Now, you will die for wanting to talk about what you know nothing about.” “God will punish you all someday. Don’t you have a conscience? How can you waste lives as though they did not matter?” “You moralize too much. Idriga. I have paged Colonel Sale. He had my location.

“He is coming with two other men you should know from the villa. While the rest of the group chases you, we will kill you here and dump your body in the river, with a stone tied around your neck. You will sink, and no one will ever find you!” Idriga heard the rustling of leaves, and then voices in the distance.

Izunga and Tiwana parked their jeeps. It was the same spot where they had left their vehicles for years – a highly wooded section of the forest with dense leaves. Their jeeps were fairly masked by densely packed leaves. They walked as fast as they could. The older people struggled. Ramuna placed a hand over Akukara’s mouth, while Tiwana did the same to Olaseme, her daughter. They marched precariously towards the hidden cave. They could hear approaching voices yelling and conversing as they searched for them. They remained completely quiet except for brushing against leaves. The soldiers fanned out in all directions. They had been instructed to try to bring the fugitives in alive, but if they resisted or shot them, then, they should kill them all.

STORY CONTINUES...
               CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 7

               CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 5

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: RAIDERS OF THE INNOCENT - Episode 6
RAIDERS OF THE INNOCENT - Episode 6
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - helicopters, cave, Captain, soldiers, radio, river, tree, mahogany, gunshots rang out, gun, soldiers fanned out in all directions, kill.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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