30 seconds to go, 29… 28… another hard lump falls, hitting your face. Your upper lip is bruised and bleeding. The other Achubas are still deliberating. A large lump falls on one of them. He slumps to the ground.
10 seconds to go, 9… 8…. You run into Tunnel C. It is dark. Very. You put your hands to the rough wall of the tunnel and walk on. You hear a loud rumble. It is the cave collapsing behind you. You don’t know if the others are behind you, if they used the other tunnels, or if they didn’t even make it out of the collapsing cave. You take your mind off them. You’re now on all fours and crawling because the tunnel grows narrower, converging. You taste your blood on your lips and just as you spit it out, it hits you. The answers to the riddles all come at once.
Tunnel A- D(ROW)N
Tunnel B- S(LIVE)RER
Tunnel C- REME(DIE)D.
You’re on the wrong path but there is no going back because there is no back. The cave has collapsed. You realize that at the end of this converging tunnel, you meet your death. A chill runs down your spine and then it crawls up. You shudder slightly and kill the spider on your neck. It was no chill. It was the spider running along your body. You stop walking. Only a sheep walks to the slaughter. You sit down and wait. Whatever death lay at the end would have to come find you. God help it if you see it first.
You’re deep in thought, laying out the facts. Two things stand out. One- You were sucked by some mystically strange means into your phone. Two- You were sucked into a facebook post. This was the real problem. The real riddle. You’re thinking clearly now. The questions arise.
‘How does one leave a facebook post?’ Two answers come to your mind- Delete your comment off the post or block the poster. Another question arises.
‘How do you block the poster while sitting in a tunnel inside the post?’ It seems there is no hope but you keep thinking. Thinking, totally oblivious that two dozen spiders are crawling around your body. Two of them in your left ear.
Out of your dilemma and back in the reality you know, your sister, Debby, forces open the door to your room. You’re not there. She was sure she saw you get in an hour ago. She sees the lube on the bed… and your phone. She picks up your phone and the facebook status of a particular Chuka Basill faces her. She reads on and almost presses the link to continue reading. She pauses…
Debby is the smart one, the riddle solver, the paranoid one and the mystery unraveller. She remembers clearly that you mentioned this same person to her some days ago. She realises the truth. Pressing the ‘…continue reading’ prompt had done something to you. She rushes to her room, your phone in her hand.
She reports the post to facebook and waits for the response. Fifteen minutes later, no response yet. She goes to your room to check for you and you’re still not in. she rushes back to her room and starts to cry. She restarts you phone and checks but still you’re not in your room. She laughs at herself for being so paranoid. Maybe you used the toilet window. She checks it- too small for you to pass through. She returns to her room and then it occurs to her. She clicks on the name ‘CHUKA BASILL’ on the facebook post and used the ‘Block’ button on him.
You feel cool hair blowing. You hear the sound of a whirring fan. You open your eyes and you’re in your room, crouched in a corner, just beside the heap of dirty clothes. Your sister barges in and runs happily towards you. You’re sure it’s over. You’re tired and weak but you manage to stand up to hug her. You hug her tight and you both cry softly. You close your eyes.
You open your eyes and look towards the door. A large man wielding a curved blade is standing there. You recognise him. Tattoed across his massive bare chest is the name CHUKA BASILL. Debby is backing the door, total oblivious of what you are seeing. She holds on to you tighter. You can still hear the sounds of her soft joyful cry.
Your jaw drops as you watch the letters of the tattoo on Chuka Basill’s chest transform and rearrange. They letters spiral around his chest and when they finally settled, you see it. KILL ACHUBAS.
CHUKA BASILL is an anagram of this murderer’s purpose: KILL ACHUBAS.
He steps into the room and slams the door shut.
~ Aito Joe.
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