Chapter Four

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The room was an odd shade of white, almost silver-ish and appeared to be of an almost fluid nature, like liquid flowing through jelly-like containers. I couldn’t tell where the door was and was getting a very strong feeling that the material forming the walls could mould to will forming any shape or object they would desire. My eyes finally rested on one of them, they truly were majestic creatures. They levitated in mid-air and had a serene feeling to them, kind of like Master Yoda in the Star Wars movies. They hovered around me examining me from all angles. I’m not sure if they were telekinetic but I don’t think they actually touched anything, it seemed everything around us was operated by voice, or thought. I was nervous as hell and sweating like a pig. Damn NASA, all those space exploration trips, those probes, seeking intelligent life out there, trying to communicate. Well what do you know, seems they are equally interested in us and out of all the people on the planet, I’ve chosen to leap into the poor soul they’ve abducted.

It seemed to me like they could see through my skin and into the internal workings of my body. All of a sudden I felt them almost transmit that ability to me; I got a heightened sense of my own body. I could feel the blood running through my veins, I could feel my lungs expand with every gasping breath, and I could feel the internal workings of my different systems. Most of all I could hear my heart beat, the loud deafening rhythm all consuming; pump pump, pump pump.

Pump pump, pump pump; I withdrew my hand. We have a pulse! Yelled the kid next to me. I looked up to a fresh scene. I was somewhere in Africa and I was a teen amongst peers in what appeared to be a crude basketball court. We were gathered around a young man sprawled on the floor after what must have been a failed slam dunk. Damn Shaquille! He makes it look so easy. Go Lakers! God it seems it was eons ago that I was sitting down on our living room sofa cheering on the Lakers. Starting to wonder if I’ll ever get back.

This time around I’m a tall strapping African tribesman living in a village on the outskirts of some major Central African city. I speak Swahili and am wearing hand me down Nike shorts, bare-chested and barefoot (an inconvenience when basket-balling). I know this through observation and the fact that the girls on the sidelines were checking me out as I attempted to revive my team mate. We ended up drenching him in freezing murky water that someone handed me in some sort of handmade pale. Sure enough that got him up on his feet and wobbling about.

All of a sudden everyone’s eyes turned towards one spot, reflexively I turned as well. There he stood, huge in his full wardrobe of necklaces, head dresses and animal hides. He must have been the Tribe Chief. His presence commanded respect. My Children. It is time. You must travel to the end of the valley unaided and retrieve blossoms of the rare flower that grows there. You must return before sundown tomorrow to qualify.

Right of passage into manhood! We were given a challenge and must all complete it. I looked around at my team mates, I guess now the mode was competitive I couldn’t really count on them for support. Kwame, lets go, we need to get dressed and prepared. I followed them into a hut where we each proceeded to dress into some sort of simplistic war gear and draw war paint designs on each other’s faces. We were given a spear each and sent on our way in a wave of cheers and chants. A lone drummer started beating his drum. Tum.. tum.. The lonely beat got weaker and weaker as we got further. Yet soon enough, that raw beat would be all I carry with me from my village as I venture in my path to become a man. We followed the worn path then parted at the first fork. I started picking up speed, I had to get there and back in time and I had no idea how long the journey was.

Night fell coating my surroundings in a misty haze. With the darkness there came the sounds of the night, a symphony that plaid as the different creatures expressed themselves. Crickets and bugs of kinds too numerous for me to know or remember whistled into the night. I could hear the rustle of leaves as the wind blew. I could hear what seemed to be a stampede. A large group of animals were running my way and I didn’t know why. Then I heard it, the gunshot, the sound of a single bullet rang out. Poachers! I ran faster in the direction of the bullet, trying hard to avoid running into what could be a potential stampede of wild creatures running my way.



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