Damola knew he had spent a great deal of time on the toilet seat on which he sat. His business in the toilet had been concluded several minutes ago but his fascination with the way the ants tugged, pulled and carried the cockroach he had knocked upside down by kicking at it, some minutes earlier would not let him get off.
Those who lived in the outlands lived very differently.Unlike their inland counterparts, they lived very individual lives. Everyone for him or herself was the order. Like every other who occupied the outlands, Zoiki was banished there with his mother.
The inland dwellers lived communally. This meant that everybody brought something to the table. From birth they were all assigned duties. Soldiers, Scouts and Gatherers. The scouts and gatherers looked for and collected food respectively while the soldiers who were hardly seen around in the community lived to defend and dwelled in outposts at the borders of the Shire. It was so, that food was distributed every evening to members of the community by the Chief Gatherer. Every member of the community had a function to perform and thus were given equal rations of food for the night and for the next morning. The elderly in the community who could no longer scout, gather or fight were allowed to remain in the community and allotted food portions as long as an offspring of theirs was still bringing value to the community.
Then the Great Wind came and all of that changed. The food found daily was barely enough to feed half of the community. The assigning of scouts doubled, even tripled, but lesser food was found every day. The soldiers at the outposts began complaining with reports that the Royals were not eating any less. Some of the soldiers began roaming other lands in search of food,leaving the defense of the Shire vulnerable to attacks. The Royals then decided to banish any scout who didn’t report any sightings of food within two days,hoping it would spur the scoutsmen into working even harder at finding food for the province. The scouts worked even harder and it seemed to work for a while.More food was found in the two days that followed the decree but eventually,the food was gone and one by one the banishment began. Zoiki and his mother were among the first to be cast away.
Zoiki was born after The Great Wind that took away most of the food in the land. He was several shades lighter than the rest that were born that day. The cries of his mother were what saved him from being thrown into the outlands right away. He was weaker than the other young ones but his mother begged that his strength would return within a night’s rest. With the low availability of food, more scout positions had to be assigned. Zoiki was assigned scout at birth. He had never been hero to any of the young ones around and every time he walked around, he could hear the feet of the other fellows stomp and the females hush their voices in low tone. He and his mother had been forced to move away from the Shire to the outlands where the food was even scarcer. It rained everyday and even twice on some days. The ground in this region was hard and cold, and would gorge shallowly after walking every few steps. His mother told him the story of the day he was born every evening he went scouting and couldn’t find food. This in its own way eased the hunger that gnawed away at their bellies. The soothing would wane after sometime however and Zoiki would toss and turn on the cold floor of their abode praying a miracle would happen in the morning. Too often he had prayed this prayer and too often he had been disappointed. Only the rains came in the morning and very heavy too. No one dared to venture out during this torrential periods. By mid-day the residual flood would disappear leaving the grounds cold and bare. Zoiki and his mother watched as the outlands became populated daily by banished scoutsmen and their families. Eventually, his mother would say to him, the royals would banish everyone from to the outlands and would die from hunger themselves.
Zoiki and his mother picked an abode behind one of the White Mountains in the outlands. There was a river in the mountain that trickled and bubbled every morning and occasionally during the day. There were also thunders heard from within the mountain just before the rains began in the mornings.
Zoiki and the rest of the outcasts had scurried the entire outland regions in search of food but had found none. It was his third day living in the outlands and had not eaten since his banishment. He returned home glad that his mother was still alive, but Zoiki knew his mother was old and would die anytime. He himself was getting on in age.
The fourth day came and Zoiki left his abode behind the White Mountain in search of food. There had been rumors that a Lavweritz had found its way into the outlands and there was panic all over the already distressed region. The lavweritzs were at least a hundred times bigger than Zoikis people. They were beastly, eating Zoikis people alive whenever they caught them.
Zoiki was distracted on this afternoon. His mother was barely able to return his good morning greeting. The sound of her voice was very faint as she tried to bid him good luck before he left for the daily scout. He wondered if she would make it through the night. She was aged and a long way past her peak and even though Zoiki himself had got on in age he would bitterly missed his mother if she died. He hoped he would find some food and maybe that would at least bring some strength to his mother.
Zoiki was awakened from his thoughts by the loud growl he heard behind him. There it stood, a lavweritz. Javaji dripped from its mouth as it closed in on Zoiki until his back was pressed into the even Greater White Mountains that walled the outlands. The rest of the scout party had tried towarn him but he was too deep in his thoughts to hear them scream. By now, they were far gone and well hidden within the mountain walls. Zoiki shut his eyes tightly. He knew what would come next. His head would go first in the javaji filled mouth of the lavweritz, and then his body would follow into the acidic juice.He could hear the drops of javaji clatter on the ground as the monster closed in on him. It growled and its crittling echoed. In that final moment, Zoiki heard a loud whoosh, followed by a blissful silence. He opened his and there laid the beast on its back, struggling to stand back to its feet. He knew the danger had passed, for his mother had told him that when a lavweritz finds itself on its back, it would take a miracle for it to get back to its feet. Zoiki should have ran but he knew how many mouths and for how many days a dead lavweritz would feed the outlanders.
Zoiki called out to the folks who had hidden themselves within the wall of the mountains. Initially, none answered. After the third call, they began to file out one after the other until they were all out. The sight before them threw shocks through their bodies. There stood Zoiki in front of a fallen lavweritz. They all cheered and hailed at him for they knew that their hunger problems, for the time being, had become a thing of the past. Two of them rushed forward and immediately began to claw their way into the abdomen of the still alive lavweritz.
“Stop”, Zoiki shouted. He must establish some form of order.“We cannot afford to waste this blessing by clawing at it anyway we choose. We would slay it and allot portions to everyone daily until it is all gone”, His voice echoed.
There were no questions. It was Zoiki who had the strength to fall a lavweritz, it was him who called the shots. He pointed to two men who climbed unto the beast and slit it at its throat, and the others began to pull away the carcass of the monster. Some pulled, others pushed, and they moved it away into a space where Zoiki had pointed out to be the place for storage and distribution. He appointed men who would apportion the food. As he watched all the others file up in a queue to take their allocations, Zoiki knew he had come into a position of responsibility. The outlanders would look to him as hero and leader. He knew that the carcass of the lavweritz would be gone in a few days and he would have to look for a means to provide them with food if he was to remain in this position. He would march with the strongest of them into the inlands and destroy the dynasty of the royals. They would be weak from starvation by now but his people would have strength from the meal they just all had. He would ransack the royal storehouse for the food they kept away from the commoners, and when all of that is gone, he would match into other lands and do the same.
The thought of his mother flashed through his mind. Zoiki raced towards the White Mountain, behind which he and his mother dwelt. Sorrow filled his heart as he saw her lifeless on the ground. She had gone to the place where all the aged must. With all the strength in him he screamed but his voice was drowned out but the loud trickling and bubbling that came from inside the White Mountain behind which he lived.
Damola knew he had spent a great deal of time on the toilet seat on which he sat. His business in the toilet had been concluded several minutes ago but his fascination with the way the ants tugged, pulled and carried the cockroach he had knocked upside down by kicking at it, some minutes earlier would not let him get off. He watched with keen interest, imagining what could be going on in the minds of the tiny creatures. He loathed ants, but loathed roaches even more and was only glad to see the bug struggle to get on its feet while the ants poured over its fallen body. After some minutes that he knew had been a long time, he cleaned himself and pressed down the flush button on the water closet tank. As he walked out of the toilet, he wondered if he would ever see an ant die from old age, unaware of the events that had taken place in the kingdom of ants below.