Story: Rest (A Fragment)

This orig­i­nally appeared on mis​ter​agye​man​.blogspot​.com on October 14, 2014.

A reg­u­lar person would say it was a nice town.

The cap­i­tal city was arranged to make reg­u­lar people think this. Everything was arranged along the main street from the air­port to the eco­nomic hub. There were hotels, marts, and strate­gic splashes of local colour; sit­ting in the tour bus on the way to your hotel room, accord­ing to the plan, you would say this coun­try was on the way to good things.

A bus came softly hum­ming up the high­way, waver­ing in the after­noon heat. There were just eight tourists inside; it was the off-season. Seven of them were reg­u­lar people. The eighth was called Rest.

Rest had funny eyes. Little dead black things. The others noticed it. It was easy to notice things, with the two long seats fixed against the bus walls, facing each other. There was a young couple, one of those cou­ples who give to char­i­ties and go to the shops with their own bags. The lady smiled at Rest and asked him where he came from- they were from Newark- and was this is his first time. To Africa, she meant. She smiled as she explained her­self. She had a friendly smile, people noticed. Rest smiled back and nodded. His smile wasn’t like other smiles. The couple sud­denly found the win­dows inter­est­ing again.

Rest looked at his watch. It was fif­teen min­utes past two. The heat was ter­ri­ble, even worse than normal for him with his hoodie on. He won­dered if the others would notice the sweat patches under his arm. He looked around; nobody looked in his direc­tion. He won­dered whether to be relieved or wor­ried. From the pas­sen­ger seat up front, the guy from the hotel men­tioned that the pres­i­den­tial palace was nearby. It sat in the middle of a hexag­o­nal pha­lanx of ugly office blocks, but you could see the Independence memo­r­ial loom­ing over every­thing, with the eter­nal flame up there. Inside the bronze holder, the flame was dead.

Rest sighed, stuck his hands in his hoodie pock­ets and leaned back in his seat. From out­side, any­body watch­ing the white mini­van as it rolled along would have been alarmed to see it gently tip­ping over on its side, like a sick dog. Inside, the four people on the row facing Rest sud­denly found them­selves moving back­ward rapidly. On all fours, with the wall where the roof used to be, seven reg­u­lar people looked around at each other.

Slinging his back­pack over his shoul­der, Rest headed toward the dead flame.