This post is inspired by Nono aka @RealistXX and @UberBetty. On her blog last week, Nono put up the 4th installment of So You Think You Can Think where a small portion of a story, usually the conclusion, is put up and readers come up with their own versions of the story. UberBetty provided the end of the story this time (highlighted in green) and here’s what I came up with…
She vaulted over a fallen tree trunk, landing with stealth, toes first as the warriors had taught her. She no longer bothered with swatting the branches that now slapped her in the face and across her chest and arms. She welcomed the pain, relished it.
The silent, urgent words she had read in her father’s eyes spurred her on. Will power and stamina kept her on her feet. The urgency of her purpose lent her speed. The smell of blood in her nostrils heightening her rage. She would save him…
As she approached the clearing surrounding her hut, she heard swift, heavy footfalls in the distance behind her. Her training immediately kicked in and her highly analytic mind processed the available information at speeds her tutor would have been proud of:
Heading straight for his mark.
She was being pursued. No surprise there, not after the stunts she had just pulled back at the village square. This was no tracker either, a tracker would pause, take in his surroudings, look for a trail, markings, footprints, scents… This one was a runner, a fast one and he dashed after her. She could not outrun him.
The first spent, another training module slid into the slot that was her mind and began spinning. “When pursued, become pursuer. When the quarry, become hunter”, she heard her tutor say in the speakers in her head. She slid to a halt, briefly scanned the woodland around and scrambled up a tree overhanging the faint, barely used trail.
As she balanced on the bough in a crouch, she readied herself. The footsteps approached fast and she ascertained something else. This one was not trying to mask himself, he was loud, obvious, and there was no effort to hide his approach. Using his loud footfalls, she gauged his direction and speed. She turned to face the sounds, not to see the approaching runner- the thick foliage surrounding her would not permit that- but to ready her ambush.
Even before her pursuer was actually under the tree, she leapt, backward and head-first, towards the clearing, her body forming a beautiful and deadly arc. His momentum brought him underneath her before he saw her. Her outstretched hands fell upon his shoulders, startling him and bringing him to a halt, which suited her purpose just fine. Grabbing unto the straps of his thick, leather breastplate, she used his shoulders as a pivot, much like the gymnasts back in her time, and swinging her lower-body in, executed the perfect backflip. With the force of her entire body weight and the momentum she had already gained behind it, she drove her right knee into his mid-section, driving the wind out of him. As he doubled over in pain, naturally, her left foot, already stretched out, found footing and she pulled him down over her, taking advantage of his forward-lurch as she fell to her back. Before his weight could crash in on her, she used her right leg, still folded into his gut, to flip him high as she could, over and behind her. She smiled with satisfaction, as he crashed into the brush and hard earth. She could just hear her tutor say what a good job she had done, accompanied by the three excited, short claps that meant he was excited and proud.
Finding her feet, she approached the vanquished only to pause in confusion as she heard his very familiar grunt, followed by her name, “Ebiere” in the same familiar voice she had heard only seconds ago in her head. She stood back as her tutor, Guntharr struggled to his feet.
“Don’t… Ebiere” *cough* “don’t do it.”
Her face contorting in anger, “Don’t do what? Save him?! You know I can! I must!!”
“Don’t be a fool. You’ll be killed and what good would it be when you’re both dead?!” He grunted, wheezing heavily.
“I just bested you, did I not?!”
“Aye, you did”, he said producing three short claps as he stretched painfully to his full height. “But you’ll be facing a mob out there, babe, a small army, not a handful of ill-trained guards. They will have their way. Look what that guard’s spear did to your arm. Now they want you for murder too!” Breathing hard, he found his breath and added “Besides, your father requests that you do not.”
“See? HE’s the fool! That barbarian deserved to die and by my hand, no less! And so will anyone else who stands in my way when I go back for him. He was only trying to get us back home!” she cried “You’ve seen his lab, the experiments, you know what he had achieved, what is at stake!”
Pointing at himself emphatically: “I understand, THEY don’t!” he said as he pointed in the general direction of the village. “It took me that long to understand the science of your time. How would they?!”
“What’s there to understand. It’s so simple. How dare they try to hang him… And for the use of ‘black magic’?!” She spat out bitterly.
Reflecting on the last two words she’d said, she rubbed absent-mindedly on the black skin on her forearm and continued in her igbo-flavoured 15th century european accent…
“He worked on the machine for sixteen years, eventually sending objects and animals back and forth through time. A human had to go and return for us to prove that our return home was possible. All he ever wanted was to take me back home. To go back and show the rest of our world that some good could come out of his precious Africa. Like time travel is any good to anybody…” she sneered “Look where it’s gotten him, gotten us. Those people volunteered and those heathens know that. They were sent to the same future we came from and he can bring them back! Why wouldn’t they just let him?!” She screamed at him as she finally broke down, the tears flowing down her face freely.
He had no answers. She remembered the look in her father’s eyes again, recalled the urgency. She remembered the proclamation that had been made over his hanging head as he looked markedly at her “…he shall hang at sunset.” She glanced up at the sun preparing to retire and then down at her watch, the only other reminder of home she still had besides her father and strengthening her resolve, said again “I will save him.”
Guntharr stepped out of her way as she floated past him, then said “He knew you would try to save him. He knew you would come back here for the shotgun. He asked that I meet you here and ask you to not return to the village”
“Ha!” she scoffed. “That is not possible. I saw what he wanted in his eyes. He was pleading with me… to save him”
Shaking his head, the tutor said “He was pleading with you to leave him.” He paused to let this sink in before going on “He says it was a mistake- his mistake- bringing a five year old on such a journey but he does not regret it. You have blossomed into a brave, beautiful woman in this cold, hard world so far away from your home and he is very proud of you. You are the only reason he has fought so hard to go back all these years. Your father asked me to tell you that he loves you very much and that it is time for you to go home.”
“He always was too much of a peacemaker, wasn’t he, Guntharr? Much unlike you and I. We are fighters we do not walk away from the ones we love. I guess he was always the brains of the family and me the brawns, eh, Guntharr?” She tossed back as she began walking…
“You are right about you and I. But you are wrong about him. Everything he has done is him fighting for you, princess. That is why he found the shotgun… and destroyed it”
She paused mid-stride. “That is impossible. I hid it away where he would never find it”
“He found it with that little metal-detector of his…”
She knew that the shotgun in the box she had hid beneath the earth at the foot of her bed was the only way. The only way she could save her father! Turning around, she searched for the lie in his face and finding none, dashed for the hut.
…Out of breath; she burst into her bedroom. Her chest heaving. Up. Down. Up. Down. Her left hand held on tightly to the gash higher up on her right arm. It was 5:00p.m. Was she too late? She lowered herself to the floor, pursing her lips, bearing the pain. She stretched out her bloody hand to pull out the metal box. It was out. She gently opened it.
It was empty. What? Empty?
Her lips stretched into an unbelieving, cynical smile even as tears fell from her eyes.
There you have it. This is actually a better (hopefully,) edit from what I posted on there. For other takes on the story, please visit the comment section of So You Think You Can Think 4. UberBetty writes at Afro says to me. Which reminds me, I made an appearance on ‘Spooky Fridays’ on Afrosays on friday night. Please check out Circles of Man if you haven’t already and please leave some feedback.