DEN OF CLEVERNESS Episode 12 by Nathaniel Anuma (Bright Daniel)
The sound of the helicopter came on top of all the buildings in the land of Ututu, like roaring thunder in a stormy cloud. It lingered within the community thereby making people to come out with their faces up to know who must had wanted to land an almighty helicopter on their land. Some who saw soldiers with guns as it was landing thought they had come for a war. Therefore, many ran into their houses while some stood still, waiting to know the out come of such military visitation. Quickly, Ken arose from sleep alongside with Wisdom. He glanced at a wall clock, then rushed out of the room.
“What’s that sound?” Wisdom followed him. Both barge into another room where Esther and Jade arose awake too to the disturbing sound of the helicopter.
“What’s going on?” Jade met Ken’s eyes.
“We need to fly now!” he responded.
Ikuku came in that moment, standing at the door with a walking stick rather than his lost powerful staff. His presence at the door was like that of angel Gabriel, visiting the virgin Mary regarding to his white garment and grey beards. The spirit of our goddess is still fighting for you to be captured. That explains the sudden sleep. Arise and follow me, for Otiotio has sent his men to kill us” he turned immediately, briskly walking towards a tunnel. Ken followed from behind before others. However, the helicopter had landed and six soldiers jumped down with guns. They slightly bent their heads down due to the rotational movement of the blade which swept off the ground around it thereby polluting the environment with dust. Huge able men of the community gathered around to know their mission. The soldiers stopped before them.
“We demand to see Ikuku!” The commander shouted In a way his voice was heard over the sound of the rotating blade of the helicopter.
“We demand to know your mission!” one of the able men returned the demand.
“It’s personal! We have no time” the commander exercised more patience because his finger was seriously longing for the trigger of his gun..
Meanwhile Ikuku had led the teenagers to the path in which they would follow to the city. The road was narrow with its sides filled with grasses in a way two people can’t walk side by side on it. Ikuku looked at them all saying, “It’s more than an hour journey to the gate where you’ll answer a riddle for it to open. Do not greet anyone neither do you answer anyone who greets you. This path is sacred”
“What if we can’t answer the riddle at the gate?” Wisdom asked.
“I doubt it coz since you made it to the den of cleverness, you are smart enough to answer any riddle within here. Now, run!”
The teenagers ran out immediately except Ken who stared at the old man as if he could take him along with a stare. Just then, a voice came from inside the tunnel, shouting Ikuku’s name. So Ken held his hand.
“Let’s leave together. They will kill you!”
Ikuku looked at him. “I understand, lad. I can’t leave my people to the city.”
“You’ll still come back! I beg you” Ken’s eyes became wet with tears which began to drop like droplets of medical drip.
Ikuku dried them with his hand, bent down and said, “Can you answer a riddle for me?”
Ken listened as a way of saying yes.
“Two people are in prison, a warden came and pick one saying, “set him free, he’s the only one who can help us” what do you think the person has which the other prisoner doesn’t have?”
“Power, smartness or wiisdom” Ken replied.
“Yes, lad, be strong, bold and most importantly, clever. Cleverness is like a key to a closed door, a way to stay alive, faster than a flying bullet. Why did you have to answer riddles in the land of zero for you to stay alive and get an open road? Because a man without cleverness, is a man stock in one place where lions, flood, rolling rocks and other disaster catch him up then eventually kill him. Now, go and be clever”
Ken reluctantly left him, running to meet his friends. The reason of
the unexpected riddle is what he had no knowledge of. He never looked
back as he hurried with his friends.
Meanwhile, Ikuku had gone out to meet the men from the helicopter. He stood before the commander, feeling not only the gravity of the rotating blade but also the breeze it generated. The commander showed him the pictures of the teenagers saying, “Where have you kept them?”
“I know nothing about them” he replied. Instantly, the commander satisfied his finger by finally pulling the trigger on Ikuku’s head. Blood splashed as he fell down just like Ken saw it on his magical eyeglass. When the able men wanted to retaliate, aims of guns at them put them on a static position.
“Go search for the kids” the commander commanded. After they didn’t see them, they left, leaving Ikuku’s body on the floor. They had to go ahead of the teenagers to their different homes, using their personal details. Mrs Ukachi, Mr Raymond and Esther’s patents were taken hostage by the soldiers to the fringes of the city with nobody’s knowledge. Only Wisdom’s father couldn’t be found because he was in prison.
Nevertheless, the teenagers approached the gate after walking for more than an hour. By then, the road had broaden just like the gate which seemed to be like a large fens. They didn’t know from which side it opens or closes, neither did they see the beginning nor the end. All they could see was a complicated riddle written in bold letters. Already they had been exhausted, so no one concentrated on it rather collapsed on the ground to rest a bit. Only Wisdom and Ken stared at the riddle which says, “I’m of no use to one, yet absolute bliss to two. The small boy gets it for nothing, the young man has to lie or work for it. The old man has to buy it. I’m babys right, the lovers privilege, and hypocrites mask. To the young girl; faith. To the married woman; hope. To the old maid, charity. What am I?”
“This is so hard!” Wisdom’s voice attracted the girls who came to comprehend the riddles too, but none was able to answer it. Therefore, they had to camp there for a while wrecking their brains. Wisdom sat down with Jade while Esther found Ken more comfortable to stay with due to Jade’s confession about her feelings for Wisdom. Though she occasionally glanced at them from a distance as both discussed.
“It touched me to ask Ikuku what we should do if we can’t answer the riddle” Wisdom told Jade then continued. “Now look at us, stock in the middle of nowhere”
“Don’t worry, we shall get the answer” Jade encouraged him. She waited for some seconds before glancing at him saying, “Sandra said something before she died”
He listened to hear from her, but his eyes looked at his lips, imagining how sexy it would be to be kissed again.
“She confessed that she loved you” Jade finally said, waiting for a response.
“I noticed it” Wisdom averted his eyes from her lips thereby bringing a sad mood for the death of all his group members. Of course Jade read the mood and needed to change it. So she consoled him with a hand across his shoulder, after which another tranquility took over.
“I’m sorry if you found the kiss offensive” she added as an afterthought.
Wisdom looked at her with a smile. “No, not at all. I loved it” they stared at each other, glowing in smiles and love. Sooner did Wisdom make a move and kissed her in Ken and Esther’s presence. Suddenly, he quit the kiss saying, “I think I know the answer to the riddle” he stood up, looking up at the gate likewise others.
“Make sure you don’t fail us coz if you do, you’ll return the kiss back to Jade, for no man kisses without getting inspiration. ” Ken sounded funny for the first time, so all chuckled. “Mr Kisser, what’s the answer?” he added.
“Kiss” Wisdom looked at them. “The answer is a kiss” he looked back at the gate. “You are a kiss!” he exclaimed. Instantly, the gate demarcated from the middle and all rushed through, after which they had, not only a rest of mind but also a brand new oxygen. They could even hear the sound of moving vehicles, which they followed.
“Remember to stay out of sight, we are wanted by Otiotio” Ken announced on their way.
“We only need a phone to call our parents and also tell the world his evils” Esther suggested.
They finally made it to the main road, standing like heroes and heroines from the den of cleverness and trying to decode their location. They could see few houses and people at a distant. Sooner did they sight a male teenager like them, coming towards their direction then hopped to demand for a cell phone from him. Wisdom made the move when the young boy drew near. He handed him a phone, after which he called his father but no response.
“Let me try my Dad’s” Jade took the phone. In the presence of everybody, she called the line, put it in loud speaker and a strange voice came from the phone saying, “You are four in number; Jade Raymond, Wisdom Dennis, Ken Uba and Esther Chukwudi. Your parents are with us. Any attempt to tell the public who is behind what you saw or experienced in the land of zero, you won’t see them again. Secondly, if you don’t surrender yourself in the next five hours, they will be dead” Mrs Ukachi’s voice, Ken’s mother, came immediately from the phone, shouting in pain, “Ken! My son!”
“Mother!” Ken shouted back, but the strange male voice came again.
“Thrust layout. That’s our location. Five hours” the line went off. Wisdom handed the phone back to the owner then came back to his friends for a way out. Already, Ken had become emotional, hearing his mother in physical pains. He had no idea of the emotional pains she will pass through after she discovers Mr Nnanna’s real identity, and now already passing through physical pains. He couldn’t bear it!
“What are we to do now?” Wisdom asked.
“I rather die than to see my parents dead” Esther boldly said.
Just then, Ken remembered the very words of Ikuku: “..be strong, bold and most importantly, clever. Cleverness is like a key to a closed door, a way to stay alive, faster than a flying bullet..” he looked at his friends then said, “We have only one thing to do”
“Like what? We have no weapons, not even a knife talk more of guns” Jade said. All stared at Ken for his outstanding opinion.
“We may not have guns but have what is faster than a bullet” He began. “We need to do nothing now but to be clever. Cleverness is like a key to a closed door, a way to stay alive and faster than a flying bullet. Therefore be strong, bold and most importantly, be clever. Our journey to the den of cleverness is not in vain. This is where we show it! This is where we make our dead friends proud! This is where the universe dance to our tone” his voice sounded like a Spartan warrior, motivating his men in a battle field……..
DEN OF CLEVERNESS Episode 12
TO BE CONTINUED
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