The alarm clock went off with a shrill at 4.45 am
‘Shut that bloody thing off!’ came Jane’s prompt sluggish response.
Gina could barely make out Jane’s stream of muzzled expletives from her roused sleep. Her alarms were always set to be loud enough to wake the dead because Gina slept like she belonged in the land of the deceased. Sometimes she swore she actually traveled there mid slumber and conversed with her ancestors. Her staunch religious mother always told her she could be robbed blind with her in the adjacent room and she would never hear a peek.
Gina abruptly turned in anguish and lifted a pillow on top of her head. She too did not fancy having to wake up so early on her day off. But this was the D-day they had all be waiting for in baited breath. It was the day for the great escapade with her friends Jane, Juliet and Pam in The Great Run
The Great Run was an annual long distance driving event where car enthusiasts got to meet to show off and effervesce over their cars. The event brought together motoring enthusiasts such as Gina and also doubled up as a charity event where the participants would all head to a pre-destined children’s home or shelter in a convoy and offer food, clothing and/or stationery.
This year the trip would conclude in the outskirts of Kitale town, a location mostly inhabited by the Bukusu and the Abagusii people who are infamous in the country for their necromancy. And because Juliet’s ancestral home was only a few kilometres away, it made economic sense for the girls to take advantage and spend over at their boma rather than check into a hotel.
The girls had all slept over at Gina’s so they would start off their journey in good time as they were all supposed to convene at the start off point to be flagged off by six am. Juliet and Pam were already up plodding heavily around the house and causing a scuffle that was getting louder by the minute.
‘Aaargh! Might as well get up now,’ Gina murmured as she grudgingly arose from her bed. No sooner had she gotten into her bath slippers and made out of her bedroom than a waft of burning sage hit her wide awake.
‘What in tarnation-‘ Gina started
‘Don’t even,’ the always maternalistic Pam had seemingly already read Gina’s thoughts. ‘You know Juliet’s ritualistic self has to stay ‘true to her roots’,’ Pam air-quoted dramatically and garnered a stifled snicker from Gina. Juliet could be heard religiously chanting in her local dialect and Gina rolled her eyes as she headed to the bathroom.
When everybody was packed and ready with their bags all assembled at the door, Juliet insisted on a roundup of the ladies before embarking on the road trip.
‘Before we head out, I need to fill you in on a couple of things. Kitale, my home as you well know is very strict with their superstitions.’
‘Do tell,’ Jane quipped.
‘Well since you asked so nice. I have already mentioned the curse of broken mirrors before. You should also be keen to never leave your hat on the bed. Don’t hit a cow with your hand. Never set a loaf of bread upside down on the table-‘
‘Should we be taking notes?’ Jane’s sarcasm was telling.
Juliet however could not be stopped. ‘Birds or feathers in the boma are bad luck. Beware if you spill salt because you have to toss some over your shoulder. And whatever you do, if you spot a night runner do not look them in the eye. That about covers it, for now.’ She seemed like a proud teacher after delivering a lecture to a class, waiting for questions.
‘On that note we should start with a prayer,’ Pam offered. She could always be depended on to shine the bright Christian light.
‘Feel free to break into tongues after all that,’ Gina said in a loud whisper, pointing at Juliet.
So of course Pam embarked on the longest prayer that was punctuated with a shoot-out to all the pre-existing saints, cleansing against bad spirits and hoping for journey mercies amidst speaking in foreign tongues resulting in an awkwardly out-of-body atmosphere. Just when they would start chorusing Amen, Pam would start all over again. After a good twenty minutes, Pam concluded with The Lord’s prayer and The Grace prayer.
‘Whew! Girl I know God was about to log off from that prayer,’ Jane, never one for filters, was telling Pam. ‘Short and sweet is a thing too you know.’
Well between Juliet’s chanting and that prayer, what could possibly go wrong?’ Gina mused.
The nerdy Gina was not your typical pink woman. Her fascination with cars almost bordered on obsession. The girls all knew Gina lived and breathed all things cars. They were her superpower and kryptonite all rolled into one. Once she started talking about cars, she could go on and on, even if most times she ended up talking people to a damn near coma.
The road trip had been thoroughly riveting and enjoying with some high-speed chases among the participants. The girls had taken turns at driving while taking more than enough stopovers at different towns seeking elusive perfectly illusioned Instagram content. The entire procession participating in The Great Run had about seventy cars plus a tow truck, and they were all marked for easy identification.
Owing to the fact that Gina’s decked out red Volkswagen GTI stayed looking like it was fresh from Xzibit’s Pimp My Ride, the vehicle (and the seemingly unattached girls) drew attention like a moth to a flame. The crowd was conventionally men and on more than one occasion, the ladies had been asked which gentleman was responsible for them.
Needless to say Jane would be the first to express her exasperation. ‘If one more man asks me which guy owns this car, I will flip a table.’
‘I just choose to ignore them,’ Gina shrugged. ‘I am so used to those shady remarks.’
Tarzan Jane got triggered and made an appearance, a moniker her friends had branded her when she switched to her fierce feminist journalistic self. ‘And that right there is the problem. We become so used to being looked down at that it becomes the norm. Then guess what? It never changes. We owe ourselves and the coming generations so much better than this.’
‘Truer words were never spoken,’ Pam was hailing Jane. She was thinking about her two young baby girls that were spending the weekend at their father’s house and sighed. She couldn’t help but think back to that God-forsaken night when her soon to be ex-husband had threatened to take her girls away from her and she shuddered.
Some laden grey clouds were forming matching Pam’s somber mood and the sun was setting. ‘We better get back on the road if we want to make it in good time,’ Novah was saying as she got back on the driver’s seat and strapped her seat belt.
After the last stopover at Eldoret, the crowd seemed to thin out with some preferring to spend the night at Eldoret and driving down to Kitale in the morning.
It was pretty late when the girls got to Kitale town. Even in the dark, the ladies couldn’t help the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ at the extensive open lands that were draped in luscious greenery in the area, and the air even felt fresher. Juliet made some quick phone-calls to her boma covering the bases like ensuring some kienyeji kuku could be prepared for supper first and foremost (because what was a welcoming happy meal if chicken is not part and parcel), moreover the fattest Friesian ng’ombe specifically had to be milked for some late night tea. After what seemed like Juliet’s fifth call, she let the girls know that they would have to get parking in the CBD.
‘My uncle mentioned that the terrain of the road is rougher this time of year. We are better off getting a taxi,’ Juliet was saying. ‘Gina, you are better off parking at the Kitale Country Club in town.’
And because the GTI they were traversing on was extremely low to weather the road, Juliet made arrangements to hail a cab. A beat-down off-white Probox approached the girls at the club’s parking lot and a towering and disheveled grey-haired man stepped out. The driver introduced himself as Kamau and Juliet got on negotiating the cost of the taxi fare with the grumbling Kamau. Juliet could strike quite a hard bargain.
When Juliet charmed a smile from the grim-reaper look-alike Kamau and got him to agree to a measly seven hundred fare to cover close to five kilometres, the girls wasted no time in gathering their bags from the GTI and sitting squarely in the Probox. It was eight pm when they sneakily made it out of the club.
The enveloping darkness was thick and eerily quiet. The road inland to the boma was abandoned and winding, shredded in thickets and bushes.
‘How much longer?’ Jane was whining
‘Just a couple more minutes,’ came Juliet’s prompt reply.
Gina was fast asleep and Pam was shifting in and out of sleep when the Jane’s high-pitched shriek woke them to a start.
‘Jesus Jane! What is it?’ Pam was asking holding tight to her crucifix.
‘Look over there in those bushes,’ Jane was staring pointedly.’ There’s a naked woman just standing there.’
‘O my God woman! You’re not supposed to look!’ Juliet was squealing and turning pale
They did not get far when the Probox stalled to a sudden halt.
‘That was not good,’ Gina mused even as her heart started thudding wildly.