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FAILURE OF ARCHEOLOGISTS TO UNRAVEL THE TUNNEL OF NO RETURN

The next morning, the Survey office opened for business as usual without any trace of the four men that went into the hole. The news of the non- arrival of these men sent ripples of fear down the spine of every person who called at the office that morning.

Within a few hours, news had gone round that the four men; including two armed policemen had been devoured by the huge beast living in the underground hole discovered in Aniche. The government, on her part, tried to dispel the rumour by reassuring everyone that the men would be returning as soon as they finished their assignment.

            Days rolled by, and it became certain that something had gone wrong in the hole. Fear had gripped everyone including those in the A.S. office. Some members in the team of Archaeologists resigned and went home.

            The news of the resignation sent more fear into the populace. Some of the villagers who had returned with the opening of the A.S.O, in Aniche could remain no longer. Another mass exodus began. Dr. Finn himself became uneasy and summoned a meeting of the remaining staff of his office. After a long session, the meeting decided to throw in the towel in surrender. It stated in an official release, that since it was certain that the men they sent into the tunnel had died, the ASO could no longer continue the exploration of the tunnel, until it was ascertained that the tunnel was safe; and so the office was shut down, and further exploration grounded.

            After waiting for two weeks the families of the four victims were officially informed of the fate that had befallen them. One of the Archaeologists- Brown Lobby had wedded three months earlier. He had just been employed by the A.S.O soon after his graduation from the University. His wife who was carrying a six months old pregnancy could not bear the shock. In her hysteria, she aborted the baby. Mr. Lobby was the only son and the third child in a family of five children. Her mother who was so very fond of him collapsed and fainted on hearing about the fate of her only son.

Blames were apportioned here and there. Much of the blame was however heaped on the government; which then became more determined to abolish the fears of its people.

Ajala was a village 18 kilometers South of Aniche.

It was the next village after Aniche where the inhabitants had not evacuated. Consequently several people from the other villages which had been evacuated for fear of the underground monster had taken up Ajala as a home. A few refugee camps also existed here, and the government was trying its best to provide food and drugs which were most needed. Refugees also spilled over a number of other surrounding villages. Refugees found in Ajala were the most courageous or the least frightened of the lot. Others who did not want to take any chances at all, or who feared to be the first to be attacked by the wild underground monsters whenever they decided to come out, (they were always expected to attack someday) chose to stay in the more remote villages.

The powerful electric generator which supplies light to the entire camp was started at 4a.m on Sunday morning as usual. The sound of the engine immediately woke Mr. Tagu from sleep. He got up from his bed, held both hands together and looked up at the ceiling for a few seconds, and knelt down beside his bed. His lips moved gently as he muttered a few prayers. After five minutes of kneeling, he got up; pulled his soap container and hurried to the bathroom, it had rained heavily the previous night, and puddles of water abounded between the camp and the bathroom which was about fifty meters away. He meandered his way to the bathroom as he avoided stepping into the puddles.

            Tagu hurried over his bath in order to return to wake his wife and children to enable them also have theirs before the bathroom became crowded.

            Dashing out of the bathroom he scuttled to the place provided for spreading of wet towels to leave his towel. Mr. Tagu had hardly arrived at the towel drying ground when suddenly with a dash he dropped down like a jerked log of wood and appeared held there as he struggled without success to free himself while shouting at the top of his voice.

            “I am dead! I am dead woo Ewoo!! roared Mr. Tagu’s big voice.  His coarse voice was so loud and frightening that a mass stampede ensued in the camp. Such an alarm was more than enough to stir up a people who had been living in constant fear of an impending attack by unknown underground beasts whose hole was discovered in Aniche village.

            Minutes later the still roaring voice of Tagu was completely drowned by the cries of children and the yelling of other women in the camp,  many of whom fled without their children. No one was able to remember to take along anything. There was no room for even a second’s thought. The whole thing was so spontaneous. People started off from sleep and fled through the windows. Some fell over others awakening them from deep slumber. These in turn jumped into safety from their beds without looking back, shouting and weeping as they ran. Without exception everyone concluded that the dreaded beasts had at last emerged and had swooped on their camp. With this thought on everybody’s mind, the only question each person asked the other after they had covered a considerable distance away from their camp, was “Did you see it? Did you see it?”

            At this, one man who claimed to have seen the beasts retorted when asked by another, “is it only one? Is it only one? You should have asked me whether I saw them. They were all over the place.

“Oh” he began to weep, “they must have eaten up all my children. I cannot find anyone. He had hardly finished his sentence, when another group who had not stopped running, started approaching; shouting and weeping as they approached. This sent another wave of fear into this earlier group and they started running again.

            The noise from these fleeing refugees was so much and so frightening that all the villagers joined them. Whichever village they ran up to, they stirred every person into joining to run for dear life.

Everyone continued running until day-break when they were able to see faces clearly. It was then they stopped, and started to discuss the exodus. Various versions of how it all started began to emerge. Some who claimed to have seen things that looked like wild animals pursuing people about, gave various· descriptions of what they felt the animals looked like.

            Later in the day. Mr. Roberts the camp superintendent who also fled Ajala when the exodus started, found his way to the police station at Pram, some 16km away from Ajala. There, he narrated the story of the exodus. Without wasting time, a team of seven armed policemen was dispatched to Ajala to see things for themselves, accompanied by Mr. Roberts. On arriving Ajala, they discovered that apart from some goats and fowls roaming about, no single human being could be seen anywhere. They drove straight to the Gake camp, which was where the exodus commenced. They saw no wild  beast, and no trace of any ravages by any beasts. The properties of the fleeing refugees were still intact in the camp. The policemen were then detailed to stay behind to keep guard over the entire camp.

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