We left Muige forest at daybreak into an expanse of desert. Muige was hot but it had the advantage of shade from the vegetation; Now we baked under the naked sun. The first thing to give in was the bicycle. Part of the rubber melted and the tyres deflated. Beatrice was the second one to give in. I think the ordeal of what we had experienced finally got to her.
“They are coming,” she shrieked before her eyes went blank for a while. “Where am I?” she asked. I had stopped answering her because despite my answers she kept repeating herself again like some broken record.
The cannibals following us was also a fear of mine. ‘Had they trailed our scent to where we were?’ I wondered. But I kept my hope alive after remembering the stories I had heard about them. In Churo village and the drinking dens of Kabarnet town, they claimed that the cannibals could only survive under the shade of Muige forest vegetation and would otherwise explode into smithereens under the heat of Dol Dol desert.
“They are coming,” Beatrice droned as I dragged Njoro’s bicycle across the sand. The bicycle handles were hot to the touch and I had ripped a piece of clothing and wrapped it around my hands to be able to hold them.
Bobobo looked surprisingly strong as if he had drunk from the spirits of the cannibals he had killed and they had reenergized him.
We had a day’s water in our kibuyu but under the naked sun, it quickly turned into an hour’s water. After what felt like an eternity of walking, we stopped and took turns urinating in the kibuyu and quenched our thirst with our bodily discharge. “Where am I?” Beatrice asked after taking a big swig of her piss and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
I pondered her question. South felt like North, and East like West. We might as well have been going around in circles on our way back to Muige forest.
I was brought out of my thoughts by Bobobo groaning while pointing toward the distance. There was a large blue hue. Could it be a lake? Bobobo threw Beatrice on her back and started running towards it. I followed. Thinking of the big satisfactory gulps of water I would take before plunging in. No, I would plunge in first and take the gulps from the lake. I decided.
We never did get to the lake, it kept moving every time we got close and then it disappeared. I would come to learn that what we had come across was a mirage. An optical illusion that my people back in Churo village might call evil spirits. “Abibibi-shantiriba-bashi.” I could hear Mama Linda exorsising the spirits. Had she cursed us into this endless sea of sand for what we had done?
Bobobo’s legs finally gave in and we sat underneath three big rocks. Our skins burnt to a crisp, our lips white and cracked and our hope dwindling with every minute. We sat and watched the sun going down in despair. Finally free from the heat but not prepared for the desert cold, nor the scorpions and snakes that we had seen enough of.
“They are coming,” Beatrice said softly. “Where am I?” she added before falling asleep in Bobobo’s arms.
While Muige forest had cannibals. Dol Dol desert had merchants. They did not care for human meat, they cared for the coin they could earn from selling people as slaves. I leaned on Bobobo’s shoulder. I should have stayed with Njoro and Mama Linda. Sweeping the roof and warming Njoro’s bicycle seat felt like a walk in the park compared to this. I thought as sleep began taking me.