“Survive! Survive! Survive!” Luta repeated, his breath coming out hard as he beat his way through the dark tunnel.


 He spat, shaking dust off his beards, tiny threads breaking bonds as he pulled cobwebs off his nose, cursing. 

His head buzzed and across his mind crept the only thought that had bugged him long enough, questions unanswered, his anxiety feeding off the better part of him, and he felt his mind manumitting the cage that had been the very barrier. 


He felt dirt stuck to the soles of his shoes and as he tried to stay clear of the damp floor, he broke twigs carelessly into pieces, empty cans birthed crashing sounds, ushered the compression they had long over waited, as his feet crushed them. His thoughts climbed out throwing up speculations, issues un-pressed, leaving him to question his sanity. His mind was driving him wild and he was left all alone to contain his madness.


He walked the tunnel ear to ear, trying to despise the very comfort the darkness had proffered, and then he flashed the lights on his wristwatch. It was going to take 12 more minutes for the next train to come through. He looked out at the busy road a mile away, forced a smile as he ascertained the fact the map he had mastered was accurate and up to date. 

His ears picked up distinct sounds of tires squealing, flashes and honks gave him adequate intel that there was a major road nearby. But the bright lights, the very beam out of a million that got deflected, focused on his eyes as his retina gathered amply. 


It brought back memories, till he was stuck in an illusion framed by a foster past. His head bumped and he….


“Get off the floor boy.” The old man with the humpback yelled. He spat dryly on the ground, then he rubbed his lips dry with his skinny hands. He was tall. Several patches of grey hair covered his oblong head. His eyes were rooted deep in their sockets. Rigid with expression, one would find it hard telling when he was wearing a smile or when his face was starting to stir a pool of madness. 


Luta woke up to the bright light, the sun beamed angrily on his forehead. Soon he felt his world whirling up in a circle, scenes shifted with the speed of light, one washed away by a strong but quick wind-like force, quite unexplainable. 

The chants this time got him startled and soon he was lost, trying to comprehend why he was on his feet in-between crowds. 


His attention was pulled on a boy watched by the crowd. The resemblance was striking that he could see himself in the boy, as though he was starring into a dusty mirror. Young and ambitious. The boy had a section of his dreads falling on his face. Bruises on his face, scars on his chest like he had been snatched from the arms of an enraged lion. 


The opponent was a much more grown man, tall and huge. A red thread was running firmly around his left knees. He had his fist drawn, ready to attack, so were his legs positioned ajar. His eyes shone like he beheld a burning torch. 

Luta studied the boy. He moved in the crowed unnoticed like he was a ghost sliding through skins.


 Grown men, boys, girls and women with sheared cloths enclosing their private parts made up the crowd. They looked happy and they were glad the grown man was beating the boy.



Back in the tunnel, Luta felt a kick against his side, brutally snatching him away from his reverie. Then he knew his mind had long wandered off. He struggled on one knee and as he tried to look up he felt something smash against his face. He fell, as his second knee sagged. Slowly his soul slipped away once more. The darkness was warm and welcoming. 


“Moment of truth my son.” The old man’s words struck and then Luta knew he had switched worlds again. He watched the old man touch the boy’s temple, telling him to look far off. Sourcing comfort from the mountain range view, Luta felt unnoticed. This must be him going back to the past he never remembered. The past that never existed, the past that could have been. Alternate reality they called it. 


“Look beyond the mountains.” The boy looked, so did Luta. He studied the sky, the horizon. He smiled. Right then the boy slipped, sharply descending the rocky cliff. The old man was quicker than his age. He stretched as he caught the boy by his arm, sustaining him. 


“Hold on my boy.” The old man said, and as the boy tried to hold firm to the old man’s shaky hands, then the old man said in a whisper. 


“Unlock your potentials. I can’t kill you, but you need to save yourself.” The old man left the boy and he watched him descend the cliff with a loud scream. The darkness swallowed his again.


Jerked back to life, Luta struggled for air as he felt his faced been plunged into a large bowl of water. His face was pulled out and he gasped, hot air rasping behind his throat. The men behind him seem to know more about him and they were pretty much in control. Again, they shoved his face down so hard and he was drowning one more time. They were asking no question and they seem to enjoy every bit of pain they inflicted on him.


He slipped out of reality, snapping his switch between both worlds. This time Luta had a view of the young boy caught by a stray branch and as the boy tried to balance his weight on the branch. He was thrown unto the ground falling with a thud and quickly he picked himself up, his reaction showed he was grateful he had broken nothing but a weak twig, yet the pain he felt in his left shoulder couldn’t be neglected as he rubbed hard. 


“You pick up life like a piece of strength. Can you fight death when you are weak?” 


The boy whirled around. He locked eyes with the old man who was standing not too far away, his fingers locked into each other. How did he get here so fast? The boy charged at the old man with furry and aggression only to be caught by the neck, flipped over and knocked effortlessly to the ground. 


"Shame!"


Luta felt his body absorb the pain as the boy crashed into the ground. The connection was deep and it was no doubt he was the boy. 


“I saved your life. I conquered the very fear you have for death. Praise me.” The Old man shouted.


The boy still trying to get his breath back felt disgusted feeding on the old man’s words. His mind was throwing up already.The very question his heart had harbored too long, rolled off too quick that he could not have it back with silence. The old man heard. He smiled as he turned around, his hump followed him as he moved. 


“Who asked that? The young you or the current us hiding in you.”


“Us?” Luta repeated cautiously and so did the same word jump off the boy’s lips.


“I am the future you will be. My hump…” He pointed. “...are all the memories the current us doesn’t know about. All locked down to be a burden for him. And if he meets me himself instead of sending you. We all will be free by now.”


 The old man moved his sticks and he pulled closer to the boy. 


“We have the type of wisdom no one on earth has, except that given to those in the next heavens and those who dwell in the seas. We are smart and that is who we are. We are advance and that is why the world, pulling us back won’t agree to us standing as a superior being.”


 The old man paused. He had to catch his breath as he drafted a frown, looking down at the boy again.


"Ask me what you want!!” The old man yelled with fury.


 Luta saw it all slipped right out of his face in one swing. How both worlds spinned out on each other was yet a mystery to him.


He was back in the basement he was held captive.  They dragged him to an arm chair, two men, masked. The tallest wore ash-colored round neck, sweat mapped his armpits. The second man was shorter and thicker. His arms and chest were tightly filling up every space his shirt could give up and demanding more.


Luta, feeling pain all over his wrists, made it hard for him to gain consciousness at the same time. He started to pant, empting his head in search of the right words. Finally he found the very words. 


“Look I found this notes after my friends were kidnapped. I couldn’t patch things up in no better way than trace this plac…” 


And as he distracted them with the pace at which he rolled out each words. He had loosen the ropes, holding his hands back. He slammed his arms into each other, breaking off the chair, and the first guy who came at him was a quick victim. Luta charged at him, throwing his elbow into the man’s face, he grabbed his neck instantly, hurling him into the guy who was in close range, ready to attack with a long rod. This were the same guys who had tamed him not long ago. 


________________________________________


 

The struggle was fierce but it was Luta held the upper hand. His speed was fascinating and the way he twisted bone was daunting. Easy, like putting a rough line between twin dots slightly apart. He took down everything that came against him.  More men flooded the room, and it never ended as soon as Luta had expected, but he wasn’t getting tired either. 


“You all underestimated him.” A fat dark beard man walked in at last. Only four men were left standing with their fist drawn against Luta. 


The fat man, had issues guarding his stomach with his shirt, as his navel snitched on him. Three men followed behind the fat man. They were his guards. Luta spotted the fat man, identified him as the leader. He was just going to get through to him, pull him up and extract information. 


Easy! He knew having the man will make his men harmless. 

Luta scampered at the fat man, displacing the two men who blocked his path, and he paused dead in his track right in front of the fat man, with the man suspending two fingers in the air, right at his face.


“Wrong move.” the fat man smirked.


He dropped the two fingers, clutching his fingers into a tight fist, and then he watched as Luta went down with his knees sagging. Luta grabbed his head in his hands, curling up on the floor as blood surge rapidly off his nose. Luta felt that sudden blankness and he knew right away that the man knew about him more than he had thought. 


“Call me Blakes. Special Blakes.” The fat man continued. “You see, people like me we pull that line between magic and technology, In a bit to create men as special as I am, men have rushed over unique projects like yourself.” Blakes took off his gloves, wearing a thick smiled. 


“But I value your gift more. As you can see, greed won’t let me be. Seeing how much trouble you have caused me. I don’t mind making use of you.” 


Blakes motioned men to help Luta up the ground. 


“What - do - you - want?  From - me?” Luta asked, stuttering. 


“I know it’s unnatural.”


“What’s unnatural?” 


“Your gift!” Blakes snapped. 


He displaced his expression quick as he cloaked his emotions.


 “I know it was in there by accident. But now it’s a gift. You are blessed.” Blakes laughed. 


”What do you want?” Luta yelled. 


 “I want your gift. I want it. I want to study it.” Blakes replied gently.


 His face lightened up as he tightened his fist and Luta fell back unto the ground. Blakes' men picked him up and they had him bagged. 


“Put his body together with Felly’s and let’s move out of here. People will try to find him. He is too smart not to leave a tail out.” 


Tongue in cheek, Blakes twisted his lips to the side as he frowned. 

 


 

  


©️Godwin Okhuoya