I immediately ran after Ruth with my hand hurting like hell. Mum tried to called me back but it was too late. I was already in motion. Then I heard her from a distance asking my brother to run and catch up with me.
Ruth was neither visible on the left nor right part of the major road. I didn’t know which part to start looking for her. Just then, my brother came and met me where I stood.
“Mike, what is wrong with you? Mike!” My brother yelled.
I ignored him and walked aimlessly on the road. I suddenly remembered my phone and ran inside to get it.
“Mike! Do you want to get yourself killed?!” mum yelled as I rushed into the house. “Mike, is it not you I’m calling?” she asked, following me in.
I was in the room looking for my phone when mum came in.
“Mike! Will you stop this madness?” mum yelled.
“Mum, Ruth is going to put herself in danger,” I said, still looking for my phone.
“and you want to join her right?” mum questioned.
My brother walked in with a young soldier. They both stood looking at me as I searched desperately for my phone. I finally saw the phone under the bed and immediately dialed Ruth’s number. Her phone began to ring in the sitting room. We all looked simultaneously at each other, then went to the sitting room and found the phone lying beside the TV, charging.
“Mike, calm down! We are going to look for her together. It’s risky to go out there alone,” my brother said.
“tell him! Always spontaneous, tell him!” Mum said, folding her hands.
I sagged on the chair wondering what to do. Then I turned to my brother.
“please let’s get going, she may get herself in trouble,” I said, standing up.
I, my elder brother, the soldier and another soldier joined us. I went out without washing my face or teeth.
The town was on strike as everyone was on the edge. No one knows where or where they were going to attack next. So, taxi was difficult to find. Military and policemen flooded the street with their vans.
We borrowed a junior officers car and drove to Windy road. The used-to–be–busy road with heavy traffic on this day was deserted with just military armored cars driving through and once in a while a private car would drive past. I spotted Ruth’s car packed in front and quickly ran to it. She sat on the floor beside the car crying.
“hello Ruth,” I said.
She flinched and turned abruptly.
“Mike…Mike,” she said, standing up to hug me.
“she’s nowhere to be found. She’s nowhere, Mike.” she added.
“it’s okay, it’s okay!” I said, consoling her as she wept on my shoulder.
The other guys stood by the car we came in watching us. My brother said something to them and they all laughed. I led Ruth into the driver’s side of the car and she sat looking blankly at the road.
“can you drive?” I asked.
She just nodded and kept gazing.
I waved at my guys in front, gesturing our intention to return. They nodded and waved back at me. I joined Ruth in the car and sat waiting for her to start the engine but she just kept staring blankly in front of her. I knew she was not mentally fit to drive so I alighted and made to implore the help of one the guys, but they had already started driving off. I quickly took out my phone to call my brother. His number rang with no response. So, I returned to the car and asked Ruth gently, “are you sure you can drive?”
“Where’s Candy?” she murmured.
I just stared at her, void of what to say.
“where’s my little troublesome sister…my daring sister?” she said and started crying with her head on the steering.
I went close to her, held her gently on the arm and allowed her cry. When she was done, she wiped her nose and eyes. She made to start the engine, then stopped and said, “I’ll kill them. I’ll kill as many as I can find. I will never forgive them.”
A hint of a cold blooded killer appeared on her face and this gave me a slight shiver. She then started the engine and drove off.
I got back to the barracks feeling glad nothing happened to us. Ruth on the other hand had stopped crying and was looking ominously in a fixed direction.
“she is in a very bad shape,” my brother said, sitting beside me.
We both looked at Ruth silently with concern for awhile, then he added, “lest I forget, Sis and her husband traveled outside the country today.”
“that’s good news. I was even planning to call her,” I said.
“Dad told Emma, Tony and David to come and meet him in Cameroon from school since its close by.” my brother added.
I was relieved that my family is safe. A call came through on my phone. It was an international number. I was excited knowing who it was.
“hello sweetie,” I said.
My brother looked at me suspiciously and then gestured towards Ruth with is mouth, then shrugged.
“Hey Mike!” Phila’s voice had a hint of surprise.
“oh Phila! I was thinking its someone else,” I said.
“your girlfriend, right?” she asked.
“Hmm…How are you?” I quickly changed the topic.
“I’m good…It’s nice to be out of that heat,” she replied.
“we are enduring it here,” I said.
“oh, I’m sorry. How are you guys?” she asked.
“we are good. How was your trip?” came my response.
“wow! It was awesome,” she said.
“I get. Are you guys putting up in a hotel?” I asked.
“No. Dad got a house here. My mom is from this side of the world.” she answered.
“that’s great. That means you’re still at home,” I said.
“you can say that again,” she said, laughing.
I was still talking to Phila when mum came out with a ringing phone.
“where’s Ruth? Her phone has been ringing,” Mum said, handing the phone over to me.
I quickly ended the call with Phila and took Ruth’s phone to her under a tree where she sat with her hands wrapped around her legs. The call ended when I reached her.
“you have a call,” I said, handing her the phone.
She remained motionless, looking blankly in front of her and asked, “who was that?”
“I don’t know…It’s some random number,” I replied.
She took the phone from me and looked at the number. Then she decided to dial it.
“hello…yes, this is Ruth…Who?” then she stood up abruptly.
“where?! Where?! Okay! I’m coming! I’m coming!” she said and started running towards the car.
I ran after her wondering what the call was about. She entered the driver’s side and was about driving off when I quickly opened the other side and joined in.
“what’s it? Where are you going to?” I asked anxiously.
“Candy is in the hospital,” she said and quickly engaged the engine.
She drove so speedily and recklessly I had to hold on to my seat, cautioning her to slow down but she ignored me and increased her speed.
Glory to God, we got to the hospital alive. I was yet to unhook my seat belt when she jumped out of the car and ran into the hospital without closing the car door. I quickly came out of the car and shut the doors before going in. I found Ruth enquiring anxiously from a nurse who was seated across a table that files and hospital cards laid on.
“who are you to her?” the nurse asked.
The nurse was fair, chubby with a natural gray hair and massive boobs.
“I’m her sister! Please where is she?” Ruth asked impatiently.
The nurse opened a file and went through it. Then she asked without looking at us, “what’s her name?”
“Candy…” Ruth said.
The nurse checked the file again and said, “such name is not registered here.”
“but someone called to inform me that she’s here!” Ruth’s voice hinted anger.
“can you describe her?” The nurse asked.
Just then, a chocolate average sized nurse came and sat beside the light skinned nurse.
“She’s dark, slim and not that tall. She wore joggers the last time I saw her,” Ruth said.
“oh! That should be the girl at ward C. The one shot at Wendy road…” the dark nurse said to the light skinned nurse who was trying to recollect, “…the one they brought in unconscious”
“oh!” the light skinned nurse said and turned to Ruth.
“Take the first bend upstairs, then the first entrance by your left. Enter the third door. That’s ward C,” she said.
“thank you,” Ruth said and hurried upstairs.
We entered the room with four beds, two on each side with a window and two ceiling fans. A TV hung on the wall opposite the entrance.
Candy’s bed and the one beside her were the only ones with patients on them. The rest were empty. A man laid on his side, backing her with drip hanging beside him while Candy laid face down without a top on with a bandage across her chest to her waist and a drip hanging beside her too. Ruth immediately went to her and shook her carefully. I stood by Candy’s side looking at her as she laid sleeping.
“Candy,” Ruth called gently.
She opened her eyes and saw me before seeing Ruth. She tried to speak but frowned in pain.
“it’s okay, don’t speak,” I cautioned.
“it’s okay, I’m here now,” Ruth said in tears, stroking Candy’s hair.
The door opened and a doctor, an average athletic built middle aged man with bold lips and huge transparent glasses came in.
“I heard you are around,” he said, looking at us.
Then he added, “I was the one who called. Can we talk in my office?”
Ruth whispered into Candy’s ear and we went with the doctor into his office.
His office had every picture of human anatomy on the wall. Medical books, files, a small alarm clock and a standing drug calendar laid on a black surfaced table that stood in the middle of the room. Beside the door was a five feet shelve and a stretcher rage rested at the right side of the table.
“please have a seat,” the doctor said, walking across the table to sit in front of us.
We all settled in our seats and waited for him as he took off his stethoscope from around his neck and dropped it on the table. Then he sat up resting his elbows on the table and said, “Yes! I called you. She was brought here yesterday, unconscious. We managed to remove two bullets from her back.”
Ruth flinched then listened nervously.
“she was indeed lucky. But not utterly lucky,” the doctor said.
“how do you mean?” Ruth asked nervously.
The doctor looked at Ruth with pity in his eyes and then he turned to me and said, “it affected her spinal cord. She may never walk again.”
To be continued…