For the Dawn To Twilight Trio Challenge (09-11).
9 am. 82 words
Coach is missing as the match kicks off. The fire he has ignited, nevertheless, will not soon burn out. Ten minutes spin to intense 20, and the ball shifts feet, lifts nets, and raises goals! Thirty minutes spin to 45—the tension raptures with the referee’s call. Our brothers join us for some refreshing minutes, careful not to celebrate an early victory. The coach is still nowhere to be seen. The break will soon end, and my time to shine will come.
10 am. 221 words
“On your marks… set…”
Gunshot, I think, gunshot. I freeze.
Nobody from my team steps off. Our gameplay is to stick together like a pack to the last minute. Today, I have trouble stepping off. The other teams do not get far—nobody wants to fight without gladiators in the arena; they roll back, ranting disappointments.
The clapper steps forth to inquire about the cause of disruption to a healthy competition. I heard a gunshot—two gunshots; one must have been the starter’s similar sound, and the other must have been a shot. I am unsure about finding out whether anybody else heard it—they will probably take it as an excuse.
“Coach,” I speak.
“Your coach!” the man sounds displeased, “Little Sir… if you would like to wait for—”
“No need,” says coach, emerging from somewhere behind the speaker.
Where was this guy? I eye him with silent queries and apologize for my interruption. Coach Matingu requests that we reset the match.
The clapper, this time, checks with everyone that all is well. Satisfied, he calls for resumption at 10:18 am.
We take off at a measured pace but must keep a safe distance—it is a good plan. Then something or someone smacks into me a few seconds into the run. I see stars. I see black.
11 am. 488 words
I cannot make out much through the cries. Panic stinks. I feel my body moving but am indeed not walking.
“Bus, everyone… quick!” Is it, Coach?
I cannot see beyond the black yet. I feel my body rising, rising, and halt. Two have my shoulders; two have my back and feet. My eyes flicker.
I see white—the bus’s roof; two dark faces crane, then on we move. I see blue—the bus’s seats. We cross one, another, and another as my vision fades.
“Here; put him down slow.”
It must be Ronnie. Michael agrees. My back presses against a cushioned seat. My vision returns–I see white and hear cries.
“Yo, man, we didn’t see them coming—nobody did. They just swept in like a wave of tsunami. Michael and I were lucky. Victor broke a few bones, but he’ll be alright. Are you? Okay? Sorry, bro…”
I am probably not getting Ronnie clear, but I think he means bodies rammed into me—plenty of them? What is going on? What were they running from; why are we all running?
I turn to the two along the aisle.
“W-what…” I stutter, feeling relief in my abdomen and thinking it is a good thing, “h-ha-happened…”
Ronnie and Michael trade looks as if considering whether it is okay to fill me in. Ronnie sighs, a whatever, then says, “Deputy Kibiko…”
“Achievers’ Deputy Principal,” joins in Michael.
I nod a recognition—he was a man either feared or respected around here.
“Stabbed!” Ronnie blurts out.
“What?” I manage a quick question.
The two nod; I hold a weary gaze on their faces, sensing that was not all.
“Someone also shot his driver in the parking lot. It set hell loose,” adds Ronnie.
Shot, I think, shot! My mind flashes. I heard a gunshot. But who could commit such evil in an event packed with civilians?
Coach then hops into the bus, announcing his entry.
“A disaster! Thank heavens, everyone is safe! And in—is everyone? Ronald?”
Ronnie turns and confirms that everyone is.
“My man, Bernard…” Coach approaches, “how is your head feeling?”
Like leaving this hell, I think, then struggle a smile as he nears.
“That is a good sign. Nobody can leave yet. The evil man could still be among us, they say. A hot inspection, out there.”
Evil man, I think, hm. Where were you?
“What was that?” He is close enough now.
“Uh?” I must have thought out loud, “You…you left, why?”
“Oh, that?” Coach turns ahead, “Kirui… take us out of here, please,”
He looks at me and exhales.
“Well, son… I had confidence our victory was in safe hands—was I wrong?”
I look at him blankly as he goes on.
“Did you need a babysitter?”
I struggle to shake my head, the tension in the bus deafening.
“Good, I did not think so. Kirui…” he walks.
The bus roars to life.
Categories: Short Stories
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.