Bade and the other Corpers were having dinner when the first sounds of gunshots reached them sounding like rain drops on a metal tin. Some people looked up, stopping their meals, while the others continued their meal of rice and beans. Bade was one of those that looked up.
‘What was that?’ He asked nobody in particular. He got to his feet to check outside if rain was really falling, and the sounds reached him again, closer. He stepped outside to a clear night, and immediately knew they were in trouble. There were sounds of running feet, and he quickly turned around, trying to get his bearings. The night was dark as expected, sparsely spaced street lamps did little to brighten the area, but there was a full moon which did brighten the camp.
The sounds were getting closer now, and Bade was starting to hear shouts and screams. He saw some of the soldiers, fully armed rushing towards the sounds which seemed to have gotten to the camp entrance as he could now hear the drone of car engines. Other Corpers in the hall finally rushed out to see what was happening, some still not believing their ears, or choosing not to believe what they were hearing.
Bade was bundled forward away from the front of the dining hall in a rush of humanity, driven like a herd of buffalo at full flight. There was panic, people running without direction or aim, heading towards no visible destination. Bade forced himself to calm down within the whirling storm of humanity and think. If the danger was at the camp entrance, then the place where he had to be was the farthest possible place from where he was right then, as the dining hall was quite close to the camp entrance.
After the dining hall was the exercise area, before getting to the male hostel, then the football field and finally the female hostel, which was at the other end of the compound. The sounds of gunfire were getting ridiculously close now, and the Corpers who had been at the dining hall were also realising that where they were was not exactly safe either. Bade knew that aimless running around would be counterproductive, so he needed a comprehensive plan. If it was the fanatics that were at the gate, would the soldiers be able to drive them back? Should he try and be brave and help the soldiers? What should he do if the soldiers were defeated and the camp security overrun? He was a thousand kilometres away from home, even if he got out of the camp alive, he was practically stranded. He needed money if he was going to make it back to the South West, and his money was in his bag.
Bade turned and ran towards the male hostel. He ran into a room of utter chaos. His roommates seemed to have jumped to the same conclusion that he had. Most were hurriedly throwing their things into their bags. Bade shook his head, this wasn’t the time to care about material possessions. The fastest way to travel was, light. He quickly rushed to his bag, digging his hand into the side pocket for his money stash, he brought out his allowance, a thick wad of naira notes, amounting to ten thousand naira. After looking around and making sure nobody was watching him, he stuffed the money into his back pocket, checked his other pocket for his phone and just like that, he was ready to go. But there was one more thing. He brought out his phone and died Lola’s number.
‘Where are you?’ He asked as soon as she picked up.
‘In the girl’s hostel, people are saying the fanatics are here. Bade, what are we going to do?’ she asked.
‘Just stay calm, and meet me at the field, right now. I promise, everything will be alright.’
He had only waited a few seconds when he saw her approaching. As soon as she reached him, she threw her arms around him.
‘Jesus Christ, it’s like a mad house in there. Nobody seems to know what is going on, or what to do.’ The sounds of gunshots were still resounding in the background, but luckily, they didn’t sound any closer.
Something clicked in Bade’s mind and he suddenly realised he still needed to do one more thing before they could decide what to do next. ‘Stay in the girl’s hostel, I’ll come find you when it is time to decide whether we are going to stay or run, but whatever happens, don’t worry, I won’t leave you behind.’ He said, already walking away from her.
‘Where are you going?’ She called out after him.
‘I need to find out how the fight is going.’ Bade replied.