The day Grandpa Joe was buried , the whole pack gathered behind the cabin and howled all night. The wolf Clan men came and comforted Clara and her daughter Kemi. They sat around her and were still like statues in their brown leather cloths and glittering gold jewels. They gripped their spears and their shields in the silver light of the moon and chanted their war songs. They didn’t wear their masks that day and It was the first time , clara herself saw the face of the head chief of the Wolf Clan. He was as black like Tar and his body was covered with strings and strings of golden beads. Though Clara didn’t understand their language except the laboured trials of the Chief at English, she felt an high sense of solidarity among the clan she had dreamt about all her life while she was at the college.
Grandpa Joe was a wildlife photographer , photo journalist and an archaeologist.He came from a very rich family and would fit in if you call him half caste. His mother was a German wildlife photographer. Her quest for wildlife brought her to West Africa where she married a Yoruba and gave birth to Grandpa Joe. Clara herself was very young when her parents died. When they died , Grandpa Joe enrolled her in a boarding school where she lived most of her life. The only time she spent with Grandpa Joe was the holidays. Whenever she came, Grandpa would show different things and moments he photographed. They were happy, but Clara always saw different odd things during her stay. The first thing were the men in leather cloths and Spears who came every Friday with wolfs. On those nights when they came , Grandpa Joe would ensure she was asleep then he would return to the back of the log cabin. It wasn’t long before Clara knew the relationship her Grandpa Joe had with the Wolf Clan of ìbugbewura.
The chief stood and the wolfs ceased to howl. All spears were lowered and shields were dropped. The men tilted their heads to the left and were still again.
“ We know why they killed Joe, we know they are after our Gold but what they didn’t remember was the power of the great sting” he turned and spoke to his clansmen in the Wolf Clan language. The great sting is the name of the drug made only in ìbugbewura. The drug when taken could make body parts regenerate and heal within seconds if the heart wasn’t destroyed.
“ We would fight and we would Conquer. We have seen the likes of them, centuries ago and till now we are still standing. We shall release the park “ he smiled and the wolfs growled. “ My dear ones shall feed on their flesh and they shall know their place” The chief told Clara and spoke the same message to the clansmen. They nodded and they began to strike the earth under them with their spears. They left few minutes later to start the hunt.
Colonel Asiwaju sat on the bike and drank the wine from the bottle. He was glad that the only person in his way to the ancient gold mines was killed. Joe had been a thorn in his flesh since his various attempts at exploration. Though he was happy, what held his Joy with a tight grip to the ground was the fear of those who would come for him as the dying man said.
Colonel Asiwaju shook his head and tried to laugh at his thought but he couldn’t. The various towns and villages around ìbugbewura were deserted after the Nigerian civil war and till now, they were all ghost towns and villages. The story itself was older than the young colonel himself. He dropped the bottle and stared at the forest, the giant trees were beyond normal.
“ Aliyu!” He shouted and a soldier ran to him.
“ We start today, gather the diggers and the soldiers, we march out today. We have no time. Brief everyone about the measures in place and……” he smiled and scratched his head. “ Tell them to be careful of wild beasts that crawl on fours “
Aliyu nodded and ran to the big tent, Colonel Asiwaju could hear his right hand man shout the orders to his men. He was pleased that he was making progress, at least at the moment. After a while the men were ready to explore .
The drive took hours before the army got to the ghost habitations. The towns were empty and deserted. Wrecks of cars and automobile were seen and houses torn apart by bombs dotted the forgotten landscape. Aliyu sat in the front seat and he was listening to his Radio. He was a man of integrity and great wisdom and was twenty or twenty-two during the exploration. He was glad he was trusted with the search and he was determined to prove his ability to his master. He checked his watch and shook his head, it was twelve O’Clock. He ordered his party to stop . He stood on the boot of the van and briefed his party.
“ We are all aware of what we are here for. I no want any mistake, you do mumu l shoot you.” he said and they nodded.
“ Don’t shoot unless you are ordered to, l don’t want casualties. if you fail, you fail yourself and your people…… I say you fail!”
“ Yessir! “ they shouted.
“ I say you fail!”
“ Yessir!” they shouted. The desolate school and post office next to them echoed their voices.
Miles to the army were the Wolf Clan men and their pack. They were at final process of injecting the wolves with the great sting. The first pack were released and the second pack were injected last.
The streets were empty and they were rumored to be the habitation of phantoms. Aliyu was marching in silence ahead of his men towards the next hospital. He had the walkie talkie fastened to his shirt. He gripped his rifle tightly. His men who were marching ahead of him chatted excitedly among themselves. One of them pointed to a burnt poster of Aguyi Ironsi and said something he didn’t hear but they all laughed. Their laughter was echoed among the empty buildings. All of a sudden he heard the growling of wolves among the burnt cars towards his left. He gripped his rifle and aimed , his men did the same.
The wolves charged out of their hiding surcharged by the great sting , they hurled their fur covered body at the green men. The soldiers opened fire. The wolves were hit by bullets while some killed two of Aliyu’s men. Blood flowed on the asphalt and the air was filled with smoke and the air of gun powder . Aliyu wiped his forehead and his men knelt beside their dead comrades. He was sad. He shook his head.
So this are the beasts on fours, Aliyu thought.
The wolves were up to twenty, their tan coloured furs were stained with blood. Most of the wolves had their skulls broken and some had their hips or jaws torn apart.
“ Gather together and give them a stand, then…. We move “
The soldiers stood and were silent for some minutes for their dead comrades. Unknown to them the great sting was healing the wolves. Suddenly they jerked and launched at the soldiers. They opened fire but it was too late, five men went down. Aliyu’s heart was racing. He had not seen anything like this in his life. Wolves regenerating their body parts!
“ Fall back, fall back!” he shouted and ran towards the way they came. He kept running and his men raced after him. When he got to the trucks, he was panting.
“ Ciki!”* he shouted at the diggers who were staring at him foolishly.
“ get inside, you fools”
He opened the truck’s door. Using the butt of his rifle , he hammered the ignition switch until it broke. He kept staring into the distance. Two of his men were approaching the truck, two wolves in full pursuit. Just as they about to cross the bump. The wolves launched into the air and caught each man by the neck and they fell down.
Aliyu hastily pulled the ignition wires into view , twisted the bare ends, He marched the accelerator and the engine sputtered. He reversed and sped in full speed to the camp.
When they got to the tent, the second pack had joined the first and were racing towards the tent. Aliyu kicked the door of the truck open and ran into the open tent of the Colonel.
“ Oga them they come ooo!” Aliyu said and knelt beside the chair Colonel Asiwaju’s was seating on. Colonel Asiwaju flinched and quivered. He knew the wolves would come, the trained guardians of ìbugbewura would avenge the death of Joe.
“ Come , Come!” he bellowed at Aliyu. They ran out of the tent to the back of the camp. The diggers were bawling when the wolves got to the camp they killed all the diggers and were about to leave when they heard the spinning rotor of the helicopter. The wolves ran to the clearing at the back of the tents. The helicopter was going off the ground. Colonel Asiwaju was glad that they would soon be out of trouble. His joy didn’t leave the next minute. One of the wolf stretched, it’s forefeet was fixed to the ground and it’s hips lowered. It hurled itself through fuselage of the helicopter and bit Aliyu’s hand when the helicopter midair. He lost his grip of the flight controls and they crashed into the rocky earth beside the camp.
Oladejo Victor Olayemi is a budding artist and a secondary school
graduate. He lives in Ore, Odigbo, Ondo state and wrote in via email@example.com