“Fire!” Sarah screamed
For a while, I couldn’t grasp the meaning of what she had said. The reality of what was happening eluded me. I had become unconscious for too long to be able to adjust to the complex blend of devastation and chaos that had engulfed the whole building. I rubbed my eyes dreamily and staggered to my feet. Now, I could feel the heat, but it was also not real. I sensed it, but as another vague, yet painful plague from my dreamy world. I felt dizzy and my head throbbed. I felt a thousand ants were biting me in a thousand different places. Somewhere in the depth of my mind, I still remembered the bottle of squadron dark rum that had accompanied me into this place. Now, I could remember that earlier on, I had been taking large swigs of alcohol from the bottle, gulping its warm content down my greedy throat till I drifted into the deep abyss of drunken stupor. But now, where was it?
“Where is my rum?” I grumbled, grasping the sofa with my right hand to prevent an imminent downward descent.
“Greg, what the hell are you saying? Are you crazy?” I heard Chris scream at me. But his voice sounded more like echoes from another planet.
“Hey buddy, I need to get my bloody rum!” I yelled at him, while groping around with one hand, looking for my precious rum, with my eyes half closed. But the ants would not allow me, they bit, stung and clawed at me without mercy, dipping their ferocious, deadly fangs into my tender flesh. It seemed their number had tripled by this time. I removed my hand from their claws instantly and gnashed my teeth at the immense pain they had caused me.
At that instant, I opened my eyes.
At first, I thought it was still part of my dreamy plague. I stood erect for a while, staring wide eyed and wide mouthed at the raging inferno around me. Then, reality dawned on me. The pain that had been plaguing me was not from ants, but from the heat of the ferocious fire that was conflagrating the whole building with merciless fury. And there I was, trapped in the middle of it
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed. I had been trapped here by my own foolishness and now, it seemed there was no way out.
“Oh God Help me!” I muttered. There were voices, far away; people screaming and crying, and it seemed there was no way out. I started blaming myself. I shouldn’t have gone on a drinking spree and forgotten myself here, I should have woken up from my deep drunken stupor when there was still chance and my friends could have saved me, perhaps I shouldn’t have come to this party at all. Now, all I could do was regret and ask God to forgive me my sins. Now, all I could see as the inferno threatened to consume me was my dead body, burnt beyond recognition, and my mom and sisters crying at my burial ceremony.
“Oh God, how could I do this to mom, it will be too hard for her to bear.” I started crying. And then, outside, someone was saying; “Greg is still in there.” And someone else saying; “He would be dead by now.”
Intense lights flashed across my yes, blinding me in their ferocious rage. Vicious yellow flames leapt at me and terrorized me, the heat stung at my skin and the smoke smothered me, making breathing difficult. And, in the midst of it, I was alone.
Suddenly, I felt cold water on my body, and then I heard someone say; “there he is.” Then, I felt myself being lifted by a pair of hands.
Arowosegbe Ayodele, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
Causes Peter Sunday Supports
Friends of the Earth, Amnesty international