THE LAST COMPETITION … (18+) … Part 16



You don’t say that riddles are meant for old men, rather say it is meant for clever men. The best place to hide a secret is in the words of riddles in which you have to decode the meaning to get the secret answer. It is like a puzzle. It takes your brain for a moment, like one whose soul has gone out of his body but still within the walls of the living beings. It gives you a stupid mental blindness that could prevent you from seeing what is just before you; the more you look, the less you see. Riddles also makes your brain run in different dimensions but later settle at a spot, like a tennis ball that bounces haphazardly yet gets back to a static position. Now, how can one be in this type of mental abnormality when his or her life depends on the same madness? Let me take you once again to the Den of Cleverness.
The land of zero was known to be a place of no fools or dumb asses. You must be clever to set foot there otherwise have your life taken by riddles. A young teenager called Ken found himself there before a large wall with a large metal gate at the center. The sky had darkened but the illumination of moonlight gives the arena visibility. As Ken stared at the large gate, a sudden wind from a river began to blow. He looked back to see th river flowing, wondering when it channeled there. The black shirt he left unbuttoned on his body kept flying backwards along with the wind. He knew that he needed to pass through the gate but must, first, answer the riddle encrypted on it. He read the riddle again which says, “I am so fragile that when you say my name you break me. What am i?”
The young boy thought and thought for the answer but couldn’t arrive at the appropriate one. He walked to and fro on rocky ground, wrecking his brain and wondering what lies behind the walls. Suddenly, a voice came beside him, a little far from him saying, “Stuck again in the middle of nowhere” He turned swiftly to see an old man in white robe with gray hair and beards. A white staff also rested in his hand. His appearance camouflaged with the gray moonlight.
“Ikuku?” Ken called on him. “I thought you were dead”
“Defined death, Ken” the man began to walk towards him. The sound of his staff on the rocky ground was like the sound of a female shoes with pointed heels, walking in a lonely hall. He stood right beside him, facing the gate too. “A man without cleverness, is a dead man” he continued softly, while Ken stared at his lips. “Why are you wasting time on the riddle, Lad?”
Ken looked at the gate again. “I can’t get the answer”
“To answer riddles, you think of common things. Sometimes, irrelevant things” he glanced at him with a fatherly smile. “If you lock your door and want to hide the key from thieves, just drop it in your waste bin. No one would think something as valuable as the key would be in the waste bin. Now, answer the riddle, thinking of something worthless like a waste bin” both looked at the gate again thereby generating a tranquillity which could only be broken at that moment by the sound of the flowing river and moving air. Their posture was like that of a grandfather and his grandson, waiting for God to show them a sign from heaven. Just then, Ken looked at Ikuku with not just a smile on his face but also a joy in his heart.
“Now i know the answer” he said.
The old man didn’t say anything but returned the smile.
“The only thing that can be broken by just saying its name is silence” Ken directed his eyes back to the gate and shouted with a loud voice. “You are silence!!” Immediately, the gate gradually began to open which in the process, the ground began to vibrate and walls began to fall too. “What’s happening!” he looked at Ikuku.
“You just opened the gate of your enemies” he replied. Just then, troop of armed men boasted out of the gate and began to shoot at them. Running backwards, Ken fell into the river..
He swiftly sat up from the bed only to discover he was once again dreaming. His breathing rate increased along with his temperature regardless of the cold morning weather. There were no much furniture in the room; only his bed, bags of clothes at a corner and books could be found there. He looked from his door to his window to see a man standing like a ghost. Therefore he jumped up from the bed, wearing just a teenage boxers to the door, looking scared. The man had the exact image of the one he saw in his dream. So he called again. “Ikuku?”
“Yes, Lad” the man replied.
“W-h-a-t.. h-o-w..” he stammered, looking around the room. “How did you get here? I thought you were dead”
“A clever man never dies”
“Okay, that’s exactly what you told me in the dream” he began to breath hastily while silence creep in.
Ikuku’s staff broke the silence when he set in motion towards the young boy. “How on earth do you think you’ll see my death with the magical eyeglasses and I won’t protect my life? Otiotio’s soldiers shot me in the head which was their greatest mistake coz my head isn’t ordinary”
Ken hurried and hugged him happily. “I’m so happy you are alive” he said.
“Me too, Lad” Ikuku held his two shoulders, staring into his eyes. “Where is the magical eyeglasses?”
Ken brought it out.
“Have you told anybody about it?”
“No, just my friend, Wisdom”
“You’ve put him in trouble”
“Anyone who knows about the eyeglasses, will be attacked by the unknown men. Therefore, you must keep it as a secret especially from your love ones”
Ken stared at the eyeglasses in his hands. “I still don’t understand why and what I’m holding” he looked at the old man. “Who are these men that wants me and every other persons who know about this eyeglasses dead?”
“I told you I know nothing about how your father got it. Certainly, we must journey to the den of cleverness to find our answers otherwise, I do not think you and your city will be safe in no time”
“Den of cleverness?!”
“Not the one of the goddess of cleverness. Rather another one”
Both remained quiet.
“Who is the last person you used the eyeglasses for?” Ikuku asked.
Hearing the question, Ken ran to his cell phone, diled Mercy’s number severally but wasn’t reachable. “Oh my goodness!” he exclaimed.
“What’s going on?” Ikuku moved closer with all curiosity.
“It’s Mercy. She’s the last person I used the eyeglasses for and i saw her had accident on her way to school today by 7:51a.m at Ure fly-over” he began to dress up in a hurry then glanced at his wristwatch; 7:30a.m.
“There is nothing you can do. She has to die” Ikuku said.
“What!” Ken paused, staring into his eyes. “This is a girl I love and..”
“This is not a matter of love, lad” Ikuku interrupted. “Saving that girl will bring about suspicious Inquisition that could lead to the discovery of the magical eyeglasses by the masses. And you know what that means; you’ll put everybody in danger even your so called love”
Just as they stared in that tranquillity, Ken’s cell phone rang. That was Jade who said in a worrisome tone, “Ken, Wisdom has been attacked so badly”
“By who?” he asked then glanced at Ikuku.
“I don’t know. It seems like..”
“Where is Wisdom now?” Ken interrupted.
“On the way to Roland Hospital”
“I’ll be right there” the line went off, while Ken looked at Ikuku. “Wisdom has been attacked as you said” he stretched the eyeglasses to him saying, “Take it. I do not want it anymore. I can’t let my friends being hurt for what they know nothing about”
Ikuku adjusted backwards. “I dare not take from you coz its not mine to keep. It’s yours to keep, lad”
“Why don’t you go dig up your father’s grave and ask him?”
Ken ignored him as an afterthought. He dressed up in his school uniform, hung his bag and ran out of the house after Ikuku told him he would meet up with him there in the hospital.
Wisdom’s wounded body could be seen on wheelbed, rolling into the imagency room with his father and Jade pushing the bed along with two other nurses until they arrived at the imagency room. Mr Dennis, Wisdom’s father, and Jade stood at a transparent large window where they watched how the doctors prepared to stitch up large wounds on his body. Suddenly, Ikuku and Ken hurried from the entrance to the same window where Jade got surprise by seeing Ikuku.
“Good morning.. Hum..” She paused.
“The morning is not good, Jade” Ikuku interrupted her.
“Who are you?” Mr Dennis asked him.
Ken stepped forward. “He’s a man that helped us out from the land of zero” he moved closer to the window then turned to him. “What really happened?”
“I found some men covered in black robe torturing him with swards when I head his voice from my room. I guess they were trying to force out something from his mouth” Mr Dennis paused while Ikuku and Ken glanced at each other. “I wonder why they attacked him instead of me” he added.
“Ken” Jade called. “Mr Dennis description of the men seems like they are the same men who pursued you into the forest on our way… Wait, how did you even make it out from there and why were they running after you alone?”
That caught Mr Dennis attention, so he looked at the two teenagers. “Have you met this men before?”
“No, we haven’t” Ken replied instantly to prevent further questions that could lead to the discovery of the magical eyeglasses in his possession.
“Is my son in any secret society?” Mr Dennis was still inquisitive but no one answered him. “Well, I must find out whatever or whoever that’s behind this” he walked out of the place.
Jade drew closer to Ikuku. “How did you..”
“I came to say hello and know how you kids are doing.” He interrupted her immediately. “Hope you all are okay”
Ken glanced at his wristwatch again; 7:40am. “I have to leave now. Ikuku, stay with Jade here” he instructed then ran out.
“Ken!” Jade called on him. “What’s going on?!”
“Nothing!!” he vanished, while Jade stared at Ikuku who gave her a smile in order to render her speechless. Of course he knew the girl was smart to interrogate him more on why he came, but the smile put back those interrogation into her mouth as an evidence that everything was terrific.
Mercy comfortably sat in the front seat of her father’s car with Mr Nnanna, the father, as the driver. She could remember how she had her first kiss with Ken the previous day then began to smile. She was a bit dark but glows in beauty.
The father caught her. “Why the smile?”
She realized herself then frownd. “Nothing, Dad”
Mr Nnanna also smiled. “You know, those days, when I thought of your mother, I smiled”
Mercy was beginning to feel shy, so she faced the car glass, breathing heavily. She could see how their car took on Ure fly-over like every other vehicle. Below the fly-over were other cars running and honing.
“Though you might be a teenager but..”
“Is okay, Dad, I understand” she interrupted him coz she couldn’t take it anymore. Though smiled at him. Just then, the car broke down. Mr Nnanna stepped out to know the cause, while Mercy glanced at her wristwatch; 7:45am.
On the other hand, Ken had been delayed by traffic jam. So he jumped out of a taxi and began to run. Anyone who saw him would wonder what was after a school boy like him. He did not only run like a lion but also like a hare. Never did he stop on the road or distracted by anyone until he arrived at the fly-over exactly where he saw Mercy’s death with the magical eyeglasses. He quickly opened the door of the car where Mercy sat, while Mr Nnanna wondered what he was doing.
“Ken, what are you doing here?” Mercy asked him, jumping out of the car with Ken’s hand on hers.
“Young man, what do you think you are doing?” Mr Nnanna fired.
“We need to get out of here now!!” Ken shrieked, dragging Mercy along with him. Some people stood by at a far distant, watching the drama they were exhibiting.
“Ken, let go of me!” Mercy disengaged from him and stopped, while the father approached. Of course he recognized him to be the son of his ex mistress.
“Young man..”
“Your daughter will die if we don’t get out of this fly-over in the next two minutes!” Ken interrupted him then looked at Mercy. “I want you to trust me. I told you not to come to school today, didn’t I? Remember?” They became quiet staring at one another. “Now, let’s go!” Ken grabbed her hand again while Mr Nnanna followed them. Instantly, a trailer came from behind. The speed in which it used could tell that it had failed brake. Luckily for Ken and co, they had gone out of the fly-over, watching as the trailer hit and crushed their broken car then fell on the fly-over. Everywhere vibrated thereby causing pandemonium. Seeing all that, Mr Nnanna and Mercy stared at Ken who said, “I told you”


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