‘You know that moment where your body completely shuts down due to an overwhelming sense of fear but your mind runs in different directions as if trying to comb through your brain for a memory, any memory that will help you out of your present situation. Yup! That’s me at this very moment. I believe that is what people mean when they say that your life flashes before your eyes.
The one thought that pushed it way through this barrage of memories is my one and only regret. That I should have never snuck out of school with my dumbass friend Dapo.’
Duke thought to himself as he stood shivering, his back plastered to the edge of the underground cave. Great drops of sweat dripping down his back which was caused more by fear than the oppressive heat emanating from a giant pot sitting comfortably atop a roaring flame.
‘Dear God, I will gladly exchange absolutely anything in my life right now for the opportunity to refresh today. Instead of sneaking out of my room, I will have attend lectures like the good boy that my parents expect me to be. I won’t be a dumb ass that follows my best friend… ex best friend, Dapo to sneak out of school just to impress his fucking crush! Fuckkkkk!’
He slowly poked his head out of the corner he was hiding in only to see an unconscious Dapo sprawled on the floor of the cave directly facing the humongous pot on fire.
‘And the stupid girl was the first to run! Damn it Dapo! What the fuck did you drag me into?’
The Previous Day
‘The original Yoruba demon!’
I continued reading my Company law textbook.
‘I’ve passed on that title to you, Dapo.’ I turned to look at him, finally closing my textbook. ‘Ehe, what do you want this time?’
Dapo laughed casually placing his right hand on my shoulder. ‘You’re too serious. Can’t you play small?’
I shrugged his hand off my shoulder. ‘You know this but still choose to dawdle.’ I replied turning on my chair to face him properly. Whenever Dapo hailed me like this I just knew he needed my help with woman. ‘Oya talk. who is she?’ Thankfully, he didn’t waste any more time.
I was taken aback. I knew instantly the Chinenye he was referring to. My hoeing days may be behind me but I still prided myself with a register of all the girls in Afe Babalola; slim, fat, hot, smart, dull, brilliant you name it. It’s as though there’s a drawer with different categories of Abuad girls carefully stored alphabetically in my head. Chinenye is the best of the best in our class. She ticks every freaking category; beautiful, smart, witty, bountiful… Is Dapo mad? How does he think he can land Chinenye?
Dapo laughed again, his hand falling again on my shoulder. I unconsciously shrugged it off.
‘I can already see your brain working overtime. Calm down. Your guy has it all sorted out.’
I eyed him suspiciously then straddled my chair.
‘Fine. You got my attention. What is this masterful plan of yours?’
Dapo who had been standing all these while sat down on my bed by the side of my chair.
‘On one condition.’ He said putting up a finger to my face. I pushed it away in annoyance.
‘What’s your condition?’
‘Be my wingman.’
He was smiling broadly at me which made me suspicious. Dapo had a knack for coming up with the craziest plans which leads to mad adventures. Some of them too adventurous in my opinion.
‘Tell me your plans and then I’ll decide whether or not to be your wing anything.’
Dapo just shook his head at me.
‘If you’re not up for it then forget it.’
He stood up to leave and I swore in my head. Dapo has always known how much of a dog I can be when information is withheld from it, as opposed to how nonchalant and secretive he was. Dapo would take this secret plan of his to the grave if I refused to be his wingman and he knew that not knowing would drive me insane.
‘Fine!’ I said to my chagrin giving in.
Dapo smile triumphantly resuming his seat on my bed. I stretched out my hand and smacked the back of his head.
‘Get on with it. Lectures start in 30 minutes and I am yet to shower.’
Dapo eyed me but I ignored him waiting for him to continue.
‘Ok so I found out that Chinenye loves nature.’
‘Yeah yeah…’ I said motioning at him with my hands to continue.
‘You know this Ekiti state is boring, if we were in Lagos or Abuja ehe! But I found out that there is a hot spring nature place in Ekiti…’
‘Hot Springs?! It’s a lie!’ I shouted.
‘No jokes! He replied, eyes wide.
‘Are you sure?’ I asked already sceptical but he shook his head.
‘It’s legit! It’s the only hot springs located in Nigeria.’
‘Wow. She would love that.’
This could work if he takes her there. I thought to myself.
‘Then why do you need me there?’
‘I have the place set but I’m still a bit awkward around her. I need you to help me… you know…’
He started motioning with his hands and I just shook my head and smiled.
‘Sure, I gotchya. So, when do you want to go and have you gotten permission to leave yet?’
‘Tomorrow ke?! Have you gotten permission?’
‘Semantics. I’ve settled the gateman.’
I eyed him and stood up to enter the bathroom.
‘Duke abeg nau. Abeg.’
I said nothing as I came out of the bathroom toothbrush in hand.
‘My guy! Do this one for me!’
I grabbed my towel that was hanging on a hook on the wall.
‘I go pay you.’
I stopped and looked at him.
‘Na so you wan knack this girl?’
I sighed. ‘Fine. You’re lucky I also want to see this hot springs.’ Dapo sighed in relief. ‘You owe me big for this.’
‘Guy. Thank you.’
I said nothing as I reentered the bathroom.
The Next Day
‘Over here is the hot spring.’
I heard the tour guide say. He seemed to be in his late thirties and wore a light shorts and T-shirt with ‘Ikogosi Resort‘ tattooed on its face. I looked at the direction he pointed at and true to their ad on google, the hot springs were there… more like warm springs though. I threw a casual glance at Dapo and Chinenye. Chinenye has been giddy with excitement from the moment we stepped into Ikogosi warm springs. Even now, looking at the way Dapo had his arms wrapped around Chinenye I couldn’t help but smile. My guy!
‘How come this is the only hot springs in Nigeria?’
I was curious as well. Why is this the only hot springs in Nigeria?
The tour guide smiled as if this was the one question he had been waiting for us to ask the entire tour.
‘That’s a very good question.’ He said like a lecturer about to educate his empty-headed students. I rolled my eyes.
‘It is said that this is due to the movement of the tectonic plates inside the earth.’ He said it with so much pride that I held myself from asking what Tectonic Plates meant. No point hurting his ego.
‘I remember hearing about them during geography classes back in SS1.’
‘Ah yes! Those plates…’
Dapo looked at me for help and I almost did a facepalm. I looked at the spring and it extended a bit further down.
‘Can we see the rest of the hot spring?’ I asked the tour guide, casually steering the conversation towards a safer topic for Dapo.
‘Sure.’ He said this and turned to leave.
‘Where are you going?’ Chinenye suddenly asked.
‘You can explore the location alone. I’ll be there.’ He said pointing to an area shaded by trees just before the entrance to the hot springs.
Dapo gave me a sign and I just knew he wanted me to somehow prevent Chinenye from convincing the tour guide to accompany us obviously wanting some alone time with her.
‘This should be fun.’ I said walking past them both and going further down the path. ‘Aren’t you guys coming?’ I asked without waiting for a reply.
Thirty minutes, a disappeared Chinenye and a slumped Dapo later, I’m hiding from a creature so unbelievable that if not for the fact that my five senses are functioning properly, I would never have believed my eyes.
The creature sat on the floor of the massive cave. It had three sharp green eyes. Its third eye sat where a human nose would be. It was covered with black fur from head to toe making its three eyes contrast greatly against its massive fur. Its back was bent as it stirred what can only described as the largest pot I have ever laid eyes on. The pot was larger than a four storied building and the creature stirring the pot was larger than it. The smell emanating from it was a mix of something both spicy and sweet. It was the heat from the fire that had caused Dapo to faint and the sight of the creature caused Chinenye to flee and me to hide. I wish I had Chinenye’s reflexes.
‘Flight or Fight hormone and my body chose freeze and hide. Fuck!’
Luckily, the creature hadn’t seen Dapo and I was wondering how I would pull him out without it noticing when I suddenly heard voices. One of them sounded like the tour guide. I was suddenly filled with a sense of relief and hope but it was quickly replaced with dread.
‘Will they be careful to not be seen by the creature?’
Fear forced me to remain rooted to the spot. I watched as Chinenye appeared with the tour guide and another man right behind her. That’s when I knew something was terribly wrong.
‘Oh, Great Spirit of the hot spring.’ The strange man with the tour guide began bowing all the way down to the ground, his arms outstretched on the floor of the cave in worship. ‘We have brought the sacrifices in accordance with our agreement.’
What the actual fuck is going on? My mind screamed. I strained my eyes to hear what the creature would say in response or if it would even speak, too scared to look.
It creature said nothing.
‘Oh, Great Spirit, we were to bring three sacrifices but one is still missing.’
‘Humbly accept these two before you and continue to warm our spring and bring prosperity to our land.’
I couldn’t hear any response and my damn curiosity got the better of me again. I took a peek and to my amazement Chinenye willingly walked to meet the creature. It stretched out its hand to pick her while still stirring the humongous pot. Using its third hand… third hand?! Shit! it grabbed Dapo still unconscious on the floor and threw them both in the air. I tore my gaze away, too scared to watch as I heard the thunk of something solid hitting liquid and knew it was over for them both.
Paralyzed with fear, I didn’t move but prayed silently in my heart to a God I had long forgotten to release me from this agony. His answer to my prayer was ironic cause the next thing I know, a fourth-hand grab my leg and throws me up in the air. I couldn’t even scream as I’m upside-down staring down at the floating bodies of my best… ex best friend and the girl he wanted to knack knowing I was about to join them.