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Rescue Mission: A Short Story (Pt. I)

Michael is an avid content creator and researcher who likes to explore challenging themes through creative writing.

Manning controls above panoramic views of green laced here and there with streaks of blue.

Manning controls above panoramic views of green laced here and there with streaks of blue.

Soaring at an altitude of 2,195 meters above sea level and velocity of 197 miles per hour, the light sky-colored charter plane came roaring out of the clouds, its tanned, middle-aged pilot skilfully maneuvering over the vast expanse of wild jungle below him.

The dense, low-hanging clouds had momentarily blinded him, but the compass and flight indicators gave assurance of being on course. As the lone craft slid to a steady pace, he relaxed and let his mind uncurl itself from the official details of origin and destination. He resorted to taking in the breathtaking sights of extensive geography flashing below him.

He worked for a small charter flight company that arranged transportation of supplies to various organizations, many of which were located in regions otherwise hard to reach. Over the years, he'd gained a considerable wealth of experience, something his supervisors were proud of.

So it did not come as a surprise when he was called from home to replace a fellow pilot for this particular mission who was presently down with tonsil fever. The assignment at hand was an emergency shipment of medical supplies and relief provisions to a charity clinic in Myroni island, 5,500 miles northwest.

The sky was now clear and the rays of the afternoon sun generously distributed their energy and strength. The aviator enjoyed manning controls above such panoramic views of green landscapes laced here and there with streaks of blue.

Today however, he had this feeling he could not explain, almost as though something really important was missing from his life and he had not yet discovered what it actually was. Though outwardly grappling with a list of family concerns and an unpredictably compounding work schedule, inwardly he longed for a break, the solitary environment of a good retreat.

His mind begun to go back to the recent events he had left behind in his small African district as he embarked on this trip. The health of his aging father had shown signs of improvement lately and his appetite was returning after a long battle with malaria.

He reflected on the new extracurricular sports program his son had enrolled in at the local preparatory school, the exceptional progress his tutors had reported him making there. With the scope of his memory broadening, Aremon began to recall several experiences at the new suburb they had recently moved into with his family.

Yes, responsibilities were compounding as they usually did this time of the year. The search was still on for an alternative secondary school for their twin daughters, his in-laws had called for an urgent family get-together and he needed to complete his part of the legal paperwork for land jointly acquired with members of a local charity group.

He thought of his immediate neighbors, workmates, friends and the church where he was a board member. True, they had been through some tough moral and financial challenges, but overall, things were getting better...

He had already passed several clearings and was now gaining fast on dense forestland.

He had already passed several clearings and was now gaining fast on dense forestland.

The Descent

He promptly snapped back to reality. An unusual movement on the dashboard had caught his eye. He focused his attention on the instrument panel but did not see anything out of place. At first. Then suddenly, there it was again. The compass point made three clear rotations and pointed east. He blinked repeatedly and stared again.

Five more quick rotations. Southwest.

Suddenly he looked at his watch, sat up and gazed through the Head-Up Display.

Impossible! The territory he was passing now was not supposed to be there at all! Strange, he thought to himself, here I am, still in bush country at 13:43.

He had flown to Myroni before. He was meant to have passed the shoreline fifteen minutes earlier. Presently there was no ocean in sight as far as the eye could see. He obeyed his instincts and reached for the chart.

He tried to scan the scene before him from horizon to horizon but could not see a single stretch of water. The sight beyond his canopy did not seem to agree at all with the control board, the chart and the chronometer.

The readings on the Primary Flight Indicator were not making any sense either. He had made this trip numerous times before and knew today something must have gone considerably awry.

He just couldn't understand. The PFI had been functioning perfectly when he left base and so was the entire instrument panel. All systems and controls had been thoroughly checked as was the usual procedure before takeoff. HASEL and other maintenance checks prior to flights were routine at the base and he knew management could not have it otherwise.

What could be the problem?

He grabbed the wireless and tried to get the controller over a two-way radio. It was so congested with traffic he had to give up after the fifth attempt. Transmission was so poor he could hardly hear anything above its crackling noise. Before he could react further, the fuselage begun to shudder.

Turbulence.

His mind begun racing. Could it be just the currents or aircraft sabotage? He forced himself to abandon that train of thought and wiping perspiration off his brow, focused on bringing the aircraft under control.

The build-up to the stall was such that the wings were no longer having enough lift to support the weight of the craft. He tried to decrease the angle between the airfoil's chord line and the direction of airflow wind. In an attempt to generate more lift and drag, he quickly pulled the stick backwards and the elevators responded, pushing down the tail of the plane.

Other flight controls were becoming less and less responsive. He found himself wishing management had heeded the advice to have alpha-limiters installed on all company planes before resuming operations. It was an undertaking they opted to postpone in the last meeting, citing the growing budgetary need to reconcile scarce means with competing ends. Anyhow, it was too late now to think of what was unavailable.

He began to pray.

He looked beyond the cockpit, then through the HUP at the features below him. Jungle, as far as the eye could see. He had already passed several clearings and was now gaining fast on dense forestland. Any hope of making a last minute detour was curtailed by further turbulence which intensified the rocking motion.

The craft was losing balance fast and heading for a nose-dive. The stall indicator had given him virtually no warning and his adjustments had come too late. His variometer cautioned him of an alarming drop and the question now was, how long would he remain airborne? His attempts to steady the plane had little effect. He tried further radio calls to no avail.

More turbulence.

With its propellers dead, the plane was now careening out of control. Scattered rocky ledges and bushes were already flashing by with no clearing in sight. He heard the engine sputter in one last attempt to remain in the air.

The craft tottered sideways, leaned precariously on one wing before plummeting noisily out of the sky toward the dense jungle underneath. Green foliage rose swiftly to meet him and in seconds he was jolted out of consciousness by the deafening impact of the crash.

A peculiar noise had caught his attention. He stopped and glanced about him.

A peculiar noise had caught his attention. He stopped and glanced about him.

The Unknown

Aremon was coming to. His memory was slowly gathering itself together, returning to him in stages. From a hazy blur he became steadily aware of where he was, what had transpired...the flight...turbulence...the dense thicket... the crash...

His chest hurt and his left shoulder throbbed with pain. He tried to come to terms with the situation he found himself in.

At least, he was alive.

He gave himself several moments of stillness, for his body to fully catch up with his mind during which time he began voicing a prayer. Sure enough, as he gave thanks for having survived, he felt the aching begin to subside and his vigor slowly returning. He then cautiously unstrapped himself with his good arm and lifting off the broken canopy, managed to raise himself to his feet.

He had plunged into heavy foliage and the massive branches of the trees were all that had arrested the craft from making a complete disaster in the free fall. The plane had been extensively damaged and had left a trailing mess of broken tree tops in its wake.

As he looked over the wreckage, it dawned on him that he could not have made it alive except by a miracle. The fuselage was badly dented and torn, the propellers were missing and fractured parts of the left wing were hanging over the higher branches. Considering the force of the impact, he was amazed to find himself without any serious injuries.

He lowered himself back into the cockpit. The control panel had also been damaged in several parts with smashed screens and a now useless transceiver dangling on its cable. Aremon retrieved his backpack, containing personal effects and a first-aid kit, before disembarking from the plane wreckage to begin a slow, precarious descent to the base of the closest tree.

Not only was he grateful for all the emergency skills he had learnt at base, he was equally glad to have taken to tree-climbing as a childhood hobby! It was a painstaking process, but he finally made it to the bottom from where he could view the spectacle of wild jungle that was before him.

Stripped to the basics, he mused. In contrast to the cramped position he had been in and the pervading odor of fuel, the fresh wind blowing here seemed to do him much good. His mind had slowly become clearer and he looked around him more objectively. There was a strange peace in his heart despite the fact he was in this territory unarmed and without knowledge of where he was.

He had no clues to unlock the mystery of his whereabouts in this vast region that reminded him of the Great Rift Valley. But he knew that was already more than three hours behind him.

All was quiet here except for the buzzing of insects in the undergrowth. The gusts of wind were bringing the familiar smell of a freshwater body. Possibly a mountain spring he judged, within a short walking distance from where he was. He resolved first to find it, bathe his scrapes and wash off the dirt from his body.

Flocks of curious birds, perturbed by the noisy crash circled over the trees above, chirping and squawking. He recognized some of the plant life forms as he walked on, but couldn't remember seeing most of them in his life.

The underbrush seemed strange to him, as though coming more out of an artist’s impression than from reality. At the same time, he strangely sensed that he had been here before, somehow, in a way that he could not explain.

The further he walked, the less dense the network of branches above him became and presently he was in the full heat of the sun, whose rays had been previously blocked by the thick canopy of trees. He determined to keep the direction of the plane in the background as he moved along, such that he could be able to later retrace his way without losing bearings.

What land was this? What was to be his fate here? What kinds of creatures roamed about? How was he going to get back? He began to feel quite uneasy and tried to shake away images of being suddenly ambushed by savage tribesmen and wild beasts.

Before long, he could hear the steady gushing of water becoming louder with each step. He quickened his pace, forging through the thick shrubbery and long grass.

The vegetation ahead of him soon opened up to reveal a wide river.

The vegetation ahead of him soon opened up to reveal a wide river.

The Warriors

What was that?

Was he being followed?

A peculiar noise had caught his attention. He stopped and glanced about him. All was quiet except the steady splashing of the water, the humming of the insects in the underbrush and the wafting of the wind through the leafy branches overhead.

Somehow he could not shake off this uncanny feeling that he was not alone here, that someone or something was following him. He started off again, this time at a much slower pace, paying close attention to the slightest movement and noise.

The vegetation ahead of him soon opened up to reveal a wide river bordered by long grass and thickets on both sides. Momentary relief rose inside him as he approached, promptly dropped his backpack and knelt beside it.

The water was cold, pure and refreshing and he knew it had to be montane. After quenching his thirst, he took off his shirt and used it as a sponge to bathe his scratches before applying medication and adhesive bandages from his first-aid kit.

All the while, he paid keen attention to his environment, casting occasional glances about him and back at the way he had come. So far it was settling in his consciousness that his present surroundings were safe.

Or were they?

A sudden movement on the other bank arrested his attention. He promptly lifted his face from the river, straightened and nearly froze.

The tall shrubs there parted to reveal the suntanned features of a stalwart warrior, complete with a long spear and sheathed sword. His headgear and body costume added to his formidable presence and Aremon felt some apprehension building just by looking at him.

Was this the reason he had felt as though he was being shadowed? Aremon studied the stranger before him more closely. Yet it was clear the man had not yet seen him. He simply cast casual glances to his left and right before driving his spear into the ground and kneeling on the bank to refresh himself.

From the thirsty manner in which he drank, Aremon deduced he had traveled a long way in the forest. His muscles glistened in the afternoon sun as he repeatedly splashed his face and torso with the cold water.

The man had the comportment of a native, acquainted with the vicinity and at ease with the ways of the wild. Yet neither his features nor his attire resembled anything Aremon had seen among the indigenous tribes of Eastern and Central Africa.

As he examined him closely, the pilot could see that though the man had a brown complexion, he did not appear to be African at all, or indeed like anyone he had ever met before.

The stranger's attention was so consumed with his thirst he did not notice Aremon across the bank, even when the latter rose to his feet.

A mixture of thoughts flashed through Aremon's mind. Should he disclose his presence? Once again he surveyed the armed warrior before him. Uncertain of how the man would react, he decided not to take any chances.

He begun to back off from the river one pace at a time. As he did so, he suddenly tripped over something hard and his feet snapped several twigs as he steadied himself against a nearby trunk to avoid falling over completely.

The backpack!

Instantly, the stranger across the river looked up and stared fixedly at him. A cold chill swept through the pilot and he did not know what to expect or how to react. He could only stare back. There was a brief period of silence as both sized each other up.

Aremon was certain he had not encountered this type of individual before and could tell by how the warrior looked at him, that the feeling was mutual. Like the river that separated them, they were strangers from different worlds with little in common apart from their surprise at each other's presence.

Before either could speak, new noises from the undergrowth broke their silence. The man turned as the bushes behind him parted and he was joined by a group of other warriors, tall, warlike, dressed up and armed as he was. Several of them begun to kneel for a drink, conversing in an unintelligible language.

The man immediately called for their attention and pointed across the other bank toward Aremon. As if on cue, they all abandoned their activities and became transfixed as they silently surveyed the newcomer.

Aremon found himself slowly picking up his backpack from the ground as though it contained nuclear codes. Presently, one who seemed the most elegantly dressed came forward and shouted to him across the river in a stentorian voice. Aremon could not make out the words he spoke. So gesturing with his arms, heard himself reply,

“I am from Africa. My plane just crashed here some hours ago. Could you help me know where I am and how I can get back to my province?”

They obviously were at a loss and did not understand a thing he said. They turned around and begun to converse among themselves. They must have concluded he was a dangerous spy or enemy because without warning, one of them let out a loud cry and began pointing vigorously toward him. In response, he saw the others quickly step forward, draw out their weapons, and aim them across the body of water toward him.

He could already hear heavy splashing of water and knew they had decided to pursue him.

He could already hear heavy splashing of water and knew they had decided to pursue him.

The Pursuit

Instinctively, Aremon dropped his pack and dove backward into the thick undergrowth. Lances and arrows flew above him and he did not have the luxury to wait and find out what else was coming. His fears had been confirmed and his first impulse was to make a break for his life.

He could already hear the heavy splashing of water as he took off and knew they were coming after him. Keeping a low profile, he made his way through the tall shrubbery and grass and once out of the area, bolted back through the woods as far and as fast as he could.

He only paused briefly upon reaching a vantage point overlooking the river and lingered long enough to glimpse the dozen or so warriors swimming their way across after him, each powerful stroke bringing them closer and closer.

He quickly zigzagged his way through some thick brushwood and overhanging boughs and finally arrived at a small clearing, where he paused to recover his breath beneath a large boulder that momentarily hid him from view. His heart was pounding in his chest and he knew he was in yet another life and death situation.

He expected the team to have split itself after crossing the river to make their search easier and already a plan was forming in his mind. Picking up a sizeable rock from the ground, he judged the general direction from which they would emerge and made up his mind to evade them by taking a detour.

Minutes went by and sure enough, a group of four warriors marched their way into the clearing, looking about in all directions. Aremon waited for just the right moment, before hurling his projectile into the air.

The awkward ruse worked. The noise of shattering twigs and dried leaves by a cluster of bushes diverted the warriors' attention and they hurried off in the wrong direction. As soon as they were out of sight, Aremon came out from behind the boulder and made off in the opposite way cautiously, hoping not to cross paths with any of the other warriors.

After a while, he paused briefly to regain his bearings. He had already covered much ground away from the area he suspected the men were combing for him. He could no longer hear their footsteps.

So it came as a shock when suddenly out of nowhere a great net fell over him, entangling his arms and legs. He struggled with the reticulated fibers but soon discovered he was unable to free himself.

Captured!

This was another team of four who before long, were joined by the others from across the river such that he eventually found himself surrounded by the entire group of attackers.

Now, in close range he could see they were even more formidable than he had previously thought. Further to his apprehension, some of their halberd blades and spearheads had noticeable traces of clotted blood. His mind went back to the campfire stories he had heard of tribal savages and cannibals who inhabited primitive lands.

His prayers were growing more earnest by the minute.

The warriors held a brief conference in their language, presumably to decide his fate. Shortly, two of them approached and lifting off the cumbersome net proceeded to give him a series of sentences which he took to be some form of rebuke or reprimand in their language.

They must have chosen to defer his execution however, since the two were now taking him firmly by the arms and motioning for him to go along with them. With the rest on either side and some trailing behind, a march upon a new path began.

They were returning to the river via a different route and Aremon soon saw why. There was a narrow beam bridge connecting the two banks hitherto unnoticed by him, which they crossed and began what was going to be a long trek to an unknown destination.

Aremon was surprised by how quickly he had been outmanoeuvred and captured. He felt he had no choice now but to go along, praying as he did so. He could see from the manner they handled him, they were resolute in making sure he got no chance to escape.

"I was crossing over your land in the process of getting across to the ocean"

"I was crossing over your land in the process of getting across to the ocean"

The Wajumbe

After what seemed to be an hour's march, they finally arrived at a huge camp set in the form of a village, with several scattered stone buildings, log cabins and smoking huts. The setting brought to Aremon's mind memories of some scenes in East Africa, yet the constructions seemed unlike any other type of constructions he had seen before.

A land of new and strange things, he mused within himself. As they passed the various houses, he could see cooking women, children at play, men at work. A number of inhabitants voiced greetings to the warriors with whom they exchanged brief conversations at stopovers.

Several stared silently at the newcomer while others whispered comments, pointing at him as they walked by. Some bold children gave him broad smiles which he tried to return and look amicable, although inwardly he could only hope against hope.

Presently they stopped at what appeared to be one of the best constructed and well maintained houses in the area. The one whom Aremon assumed to be the leader turned to the others and again spoke authoritatively in the unintelligible tongue. Leaving the rest of the warriors stationed outside, he took Aremon by the arm and led him into the building.

The door swung open to reveal the cool interior of a well-furnished hall. As his eyes adjusted to the setting, Aremon could make out some wooden tables, chairs and stools neatly arranged with decorated overlays. He was still caught up with the skillful designs of the interior he did not notice a reclining figure by the window on his right, until the latter straightened himself up and approached them.

Unlike the others, this man was much leaner in size. He also appeared much older. From the way the house was set and the respectful manner in which the warrior greeted him, Aremon deduced he may have been a senior member of the community but not himself a warrior.

After the salutations, the two proceeded to converse. The leader was obviously filling him in on the details how they had come across Aremon and the events leading to his capture, as he punctuated his talk by making repeated gestures toward the pilot. During the entire period, the older man's eyes were fixed on the newcomer, giving him a keen, searching gaze. He folded his arms and nodded from time to time at the narration, without shifting his eyes.

Aremon did not know which version he was being presented with. But as soon as the narration was over, the older man walked directly to him and proceeded to take both his hands.

As he looked at him closely, Aremon noticed the man's demeanour was so cordial, full of such genuine warmth, that he actually began feeling relieved without a single word having been exchanged - something that took the aviator by surprise. The senior smiled broadly at him and touched his shoulders, which Aremon later understood to be their form of greeting and expression of comradeship. Presently, he posed a question to Aremon.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” Aremon replied, trying to use gestures.

“Oh excuse me. I was asking, what is your name?”

Aremon could not disguise his incredulity, “I'm Aremon - you speak my native language!”

The man smiled. “Well, it would appear so. My name is Unitan. Welcome to the land of Ishara. Where exactly do you come from?”

“East Africa. I was crossing over your land in the process of getting across to the ocean to deliver some goods. But along the way something strange happened. I suddenly lost bearings and crashed in the jungle.”

The man frowned slightly. “First, I do not know the land you speak of. What means did you use to travel?”

“Charter plane.”

There was a brief silence. Finally Unitan shook his head. “I’ve not heard of that before.”

“It’s a craft designed to fly in the air.”

It was his new host's turn to be astonished. “Do you know where this craft is?”

“The wreckage...” he suddenly stopped as it dawned upon him. In the rush to escape and the trek to the camp, he had lost track of the whereabouts of the scene of the crash.

“Don’t let it worry you,” the man said quickly, patting his shoulder, “We have some trained scouts here whom I can send to mobilize a search party. This sounds interesting. I think we have a lot to learn from you and you may have a bit to learn from us.”

“Is this one of the villages of Ishara?” Aremon asked.

“Yes, you are in Camp Umoja, one of several communities here.”

“But you do not appear African. How is it you speak my language and they don’t?”

“That is why they brought you to me.” Unitan turned to the warrior leader and gave him some quick instructions. The man nodded and promptly left.

As soon as the other departed, Unitan continued, “I belong to a network of leaders in this land they refer to as Wajumbe which in your language means ‘messengers'. Of course we do not know everything, but we are the ones who have retained at least a part of the knowledge that has been passed down the ages and use it to teach others. We welcome strangers and newcomers because we know it is important everyone has a part of this knowledge to use in life. Do not fear. You are safe here.”

...features of modernity which were foreign to their hearing.

...features of modernity which were foreign to their hearing.

Unitan

Aremon blurted out. "Who are these men?"

"Scouts from the fifth Umoja Division."

"My experience with them was far from welcoming."

"How so?"

"They wield blood-clotted weapons and attack newcomers. By the river, I was nearly executed and had to flee for my life."

Unitan offered him a seat. Aremon was however hesitant, still not knowing in his mind what to make of all this. The leader observed his apprehensive state for a moment.

“They were trying to save you,” he remarked quietly.

“What? Oh, sure. I guess they left out the part of the crossbows, arrows and lances and the net which they-"

“Aremon, they were not attacking you.”

“What?”

Unitan had a half-smile. "You were clearly in danger. But not from my warriors."

"I don't understand."

He patiently motioned to the nearest chair, “Will you please have a seat?”

Aremon looked at the unfeigned expression in his eyes and complied, though cautiously. Unitan pulled forward another chair and sat facing him. He clasped his hands and started again slowly.

“Please excuse our scouts. They are used to war situations and may have given you a fearsome impression by the manner in which they handled the entire episode. We are still training them to be more discerning and sensitive.”

“You stated I was in danger, but not from them. What do you mean?”

“You were being trailed by dygrony, one of the deadliest river predators in these parts and you could not see it from where you stood. It was coiled directly above you on the tree branches. Its poison may not kill instantly, but it paralyzes the normal functioning of the body.

"The venom immobilizes and weakens, making one defenseless and therefore prone to other dangers of the jungle. After a while, internal organs begin shutting down and the victim succumbs to the poison. You could not see this creature in the thick foliage by the river because of its sinister camouflage.”

With a jolt, Aremon recalled the uncanny notion he had felt near the river, as though he was being followed.

His host continued. “Our scouts are trained in combating beasts in the jungle. They tried to warn you of the danger you were in but quickly realized they couldn’t communicate with you. They knew as I did, from your attire and deportment, that you were a newcomer in the region.

"They saw through your poor jungle instincts and absence of skill, recognizing you lacked the basics needed to make it alive in the dangerous territory into which you had entered. They had already eliminated the reptile by the time they began crossing the river after you, which explains the state you observed of their weapons. You attempted to escape, but they knew letting you go would only jeopardize things because of the quicksand.”

“Quicksand?”

“Yes. Beyond the river in the direction you were heading when you took off from them.”

Aremon watched him closely as he spoke almost in disbelief. There was not the slightest hint of deceit. A complete shift in paradigm was taking place in the aviator's mind now and his countenance begun to soften as the truth started to dawn on him.

Unitan went on. “They held discussions because before they brought you to me, they could not really be sure whether you were friend or foe. They were also uncertain if you were alone or had company. This is why they had to be careful. Many of our people have been deceived by misjudging encounters in the wild.”

“I see. I'm sorry. I thought they were...”

“I know. Anyone could have imagined the same way given a similar set of circumstances. Besides, the language barrier already created a gap between you and them.”

Aremon thought for a moment. “They must have been trying to warn me to back off, but my panicky state clouded everything. I ended up misinterpreting their moves and making the wrong conclusions.”

“Panic and confusion go together. The scouts knew as long as fear was driving you, there were even greater dangers that lay ahead. So they resolved to apprehend you regardless of the immediate cost and bring you here. For your own safety.”

“I have not yet encountered the wild creatures of this region, but judging from the appearances of your warriors, a lot of physical strength must be required in order to survive here.”

Unitan smiled. “Not as much stamina as wisdom and foresight.”

“Where is their trainer?”

“You are talking to him.”

Aremon's eyebrows shot up. He regarded the man before him for a moment and then remarked, “No offence meant, but you don't appear to be much of a fighter yourself.”

Unitan laughed off the comment, “Thanks for the compliment. But as you have already begun discovering, things here are not always the way they appear to be. There is still much for you to learn.”

Just then, the door opened to reveal the stalwart features of another warrior. Aremon recognized him as the first man he had seen on the other bank across the river.

Unitan nodded his consent and the man walked in carrying something familiar. It was Aremon’s backpack. In the rush to escape he had forgotten all about it! He conveyed his heartfelt thanks to the man as he handed it over to Unitan who quickly interpreted the aviator's comment. The man smiled back at Aremon and made a remark.

“He says you don’t need to thank him" Unitan explained. "He is just grateful and relieved that you are okay.”

After the man had departed, the two were again by themselves.

“You know, after the plane went down I was surprised to find myself alive let alone bruised. To tell you the truth I did not expect I would survive the impact of that crash. As far as I could tell, I was on my way to eternity.”

“Apparently the Lord had other plans.” Unitan replied, handing him his backpack.

“The Lord? You know Him too?”

“I do,” Then he added with a sparkle in his eyes, “and I can tell you are a believer too."

“As you say, one who has much to learn."

Unitan proceeded, "So do we all. Regardless of how incompatible they may appear to be outwardly, we all are brothers, here to protect and serve one another."

Up to this time Aremon had been inquisitive. But with this latest discovery, curiousity came upon him like a huge wave. “How...”

“...And when and why and where...” Unitan was laughing, “I know you are about to ask a thousand questions, but one thing at a time please. First you need a proper bath and a new set of clothes. And we need to have a look at those scratches and bruises. I'll organise for someone to attend to you at once. Then you can ask your questions.”

He spoke with such a fatherly manner Aremon could not help but go along. From the short time he had spent with him, he already sensed the disarming nature of this man's warmth and knew he was among friends.

The river had overflowed its banks, making the area impassable.

The river had overflowed its banks, making the area impassable.

The New Setting

In the days that followed, Aremon lived within the camp. He knew whatever the explanations were, it was clear he had stumbled upon unexplored territory, a strange land whose inhabitants seemed disconnected completely from life in the 21st century. He couldn't wait for the opportunity to return with the news of his discovery back to his own people.

Unlike many communities Aremon had known previously which were joined together chiefly by traditional, ritualistic and political values, here was one which was bonded by simple truths, whose fellowship and passion were much deeper than what he had come across in his own homeland.

They lived in some ways similar to the manner in which cultures of previous centuries had, without many of the modern things he was used to and often took for granted.

He was taken aback by how quickly he grew accustomed to living among the inhabitants of this strange otherworldly community, a civilization that seemed to be of another age, yet with remarkably parallel features of the modern era in which he himself lived.

He got to learn of their way of life, striking a deep bond with Unitan whom he came to respect as a leader of deep conviction, a man endowed with both wisdom and knowledge.

He deeply missed his own family and community, often looking forward to the day he would return and assure them of his safety. He was convinced the private flight company had already launched a search party by now and they would be scouring the place in search of him and the plane.

He felt somehow that if he could just return to the scene of the crash, he would be able to retrieve his chart, compass and other instruments whose repair would enable him not only locate his whereabouts but perhaps also send a message back home.

The scouts and other members of the community were kind and considerate, offering to assist him locate the spot where the wreckage of the plane was. They made organized trips back together to comb the area across the river but they couldn't find any trace of it.

However, any further excursions there were curtailed the third day by a heavy downpour that came upon the region. Members of the party who had gone out that day reported back with the news that the river had overflowed its banks, making the area impassable and too dangerous for further searches to be conducted. Still, the leader assured him repeatedly that they would resume the search as soon as the water levels subsided.

For the time being, he resolved in his mind to absorb as much as he could to learn from this place before going back. He was deeply moved by the genuine love and care they extended to him, taking him in as one of their own and affording him the opportunity to learn as much as he could by interacting with them on a personal basis, through of course, lots of interpretations.

They also had the Old and New Testaments in records which according to Unitan they had obtained from a group of visitors from a far country who had brought the message of the Gospel to their community. The knew how to read and write in their language and had developed a variety of arts and other branches of knowledge as well.

They were more than eager to hear the history of his own land and so he had many opportunities to share with them how communities in Africa developed over time right up to the scramble and partition of the continent by foreign nations, and how each country later achieved independence.

He then updated them on the progress the individual African countries were striving to make in the effort to better themselves against many compounding odds. By way of introduction, he recounted the state of affairs as it is in the modern age, as well as he could summarise, giving them a general preview of the same.

As would be expected, they were enraptured by the examples he gave of improved social life, technological innovation, infrastructure and other features of modernity which were previously foreign to their hearing. On the other hand, they were deeply moved with concern over the miasma of moral crises and widespread woes that had been set in motion in the wake of these same advancements.

In one sense it was a completely new culture and setting. In another strangely, he felt it was familiar to him, as though he had been here before, but in a way he could not quite explain. This feeling prompted him to seek to learn even more.

Rescue Mission (Part 2)

  • Rescue Mission: A Short Story
    Courage and hope in the face of jeopardy, empathy and determination pitted against tremendous odds in a strange land where events are just as anomalous as they are unexpected.

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