Though asleep, Pangshin was wide awake. The little village was agog with muffled voices and whispers in the wild dark. Squatting at the edge of a bully of a mountain and inhabited by five hundred simple-minded Biroms, most of them hardworking farmers and all of them Christians, the village was still miles away from civilization. People here lived simply, life was ordinary and quiet. Tonight, men snored loudly and their women, dangling between sleep and wakefulness, stirred gently. Wandering in familiar dreams, little children wet tattered mats, while older ones muttered senseless words. The moon was awoke too-hallowed goddess of the blue shrine. Surrounded by the stars, she toured the dark-infested land with her bright all-seeing eyes, giving the village a taste of her fertile goodness. She was still in her gushing element when she saw them and gasped. The gentle moon saw them, and became the first witness to the rage of men playing gods.
But while the hyenas were still circling, Ruth woke with a start. She breathed heavily like a marathon runner, her hands moving quickly around her big belly protectively. She felt the baby kicked and heaved a sigh of relief. Her baby was safe. Weak and heavy, she was lying down on a tattered mat, spread across the small jagged altar, her folded wrapper serving as a pillow. Groaning softly, she sat upright with some difficulty and her gaze wandered around the small mud church. Lit by the kerosene lantern pastor Gyang gave her and which was hanging on the pew, the church couldn’t have housed more than two hundred worshippers and because it was the only church in Pangshin, it catered for the Christian community. Long wooden benches were arranged in two rows, one for the male worshippers and the other for the female folk. Beside the altar, two long benches marked the choir section. Ruth was one of the five members of the church choir. She had taken a break when her belly was getting too big for that station.
The walls were red and wet and depressive, the floor jagged. Ruth released a deep troubled sigh, her heart sagging with loneliness and uncertainty. The anointed Christian church had been her home for a week now. Suddenly, she felt a jolt of sadness and fear. Two weeks earlier, before things went haywire for her, her doctor at the two-room Pangshin clinic had told her she was due in two weeks. At the time, she had been excited with the news. She couldn’t wait to see the child she had carried and loved and had for ten years hoped for, for more than ten years. Now, that her miracle baby was on the way, she knew she was not ready to introduce the little bundle of joy to a world imploding. And it was all her fault. Because of her inability to accept what she couldn’t change, her child was going to be born in a church and surrounded by strangers and not family. But then recently, the word family had taken a different meaning. Silently, she prayed to God for a miracle. She prayed, hoping it would help banished her fear and uncertainty but it didn’t. her fear blossomed like a daffodil.
She hated him for doing this to her, that backstabbing serpent who had pretended to be her faithful husband and while she was not looking, had her stung. He hurt her pretty bad and to exert her vengeance, she had hurt him pretty bad too. She had several ideas, like looking for a younger girl and allowed him to have a taste of a pregnant woman. But she didn’t have the heart to go for that and the ones he finally settled for, proved quite effective. First, she had gone to see the parents of the sixteen year old he was banging late at night in the classroom, where they both taught secondary school students , resulting in him getting mud wrestled by the girl’s father, and hit with a pestle by the girl’s mother, bringing the fight summarily to an end.
Ruth was not done, though. She wanted to show the world what a jerk he was. So, she went to pastor Gyang, the firebrand founder of the anointed Christian church of God and told him that his Sunday school teacher was a serial adulterer. With holy anger, pastor Gyang had him suspended as the church worker, insisting he confess his transgressions in front of the whole congregation. Ruth’s husband, rather than humiliating himself in front of fellow sinners, left the church instead. And angry at his wife for her betrayal, he kicked her out into the waiting arm of the church.
Ruth snapped out of her head as nature beckoned. She grabbed the lantern and shuffled out of the church into the bush behind the church. It happened while she was peeing; mad gods, shrouded in darkness and wielding guns and cutlasses surrounded the slumbering village, waiting for the ample feast of flesh and red. The mercenaries, who posed as Fulani herdsmen, were more than two hundred. They were an army of bloodthirsty hyenas with sharpened fangs ready for the kill. When the chief killer gave the signal, his foot soldiers set the village ablaze, turning rest to riot. The villagers woke up in hell and tried scurrying to safety only to be confronted by the beasts lurking in the shadows. Heads rolled and their bodies fell again and again, creating a sea of gushing red.
A middle-aged man who was trying to get his pregnant wife to safety was stopped by a gunshot. His wife was still running when a flying arrow pierce her from behind. A fragile old woman begged and begged for mercy and their mercy roasted her in the fire.
Yet, the cutlasses never stopped chopping, the guns never stopped growling, the arrows never stopped flying and heads never stopped rolling. They never stopped until the horror reached a natural climax. When the hounds left, their patched throat was well saturated.