Caleb Nwaizu 1 year ago
@calebchris000 12 min read Write a comment #creative-writing

In The Beginning: Chapter 1

A great man once said: “You can’t change the past, but you can always find a way to reconcile with it.” I’ve always lived with this saying until the day I finished high school when my life changed completely.

My name is Caleb Christopher, and I’m a Nigerian. I was born and bred in Lagos along with my three siblings. But this is not my autobiography, not at all. But something really special and thrilling happened to me on the day I completed high school. The day was 2018, and I had just completed my exam. The paper was mathematics, which was really hard, but I guess that was the reason it was the last paper. But that was not important. This very year changed my life completely. It was so sudden that I almost wasn’t able to handle it. I’ll change this story to a third person POV.* * * * * * * * * *

May 10, 2018.

Oga, you still want to make me sign for your uniform?” Samuel, his friend, asked, holding a whiteboard marker in his hands. “Why the hell did you want to do that? You will still be seeing me after this, na”, Caleb replied, staring at him with a stink eye. “Chai, you’re really hopeless,” Samuel snickered. “Is that not your girlfriend there? Why don’t you sign hers and stop stressing me?” Caleb sighed and packed up the remaining question paper on the floor, and put it in the already trampled bag. “You’re mad,” Samuel laughed out loud and punched him jokingly. “Gerrout,” Caleb said and threw a crumpled paper at him. It was the last day of school, and the atmosphere around the school was mixed with emotions. Some were signing each other uniforms, while some were either hugging or kissing their other half goodbye.

Of course, Caleb had no one to say goodbye to. Excluding Samuel, who was his next-door neighbor, he never had anyone he could point to as a friend, not even the boy in his class that went to the same church as he was. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to make any friends, though. He was kind of a dork, and by a dork, it meant that he didn’t have anything that would attract anyone to him. Being five feet one, with dull brown eyes and a slightly chiseled but non-symmetric face, the regular appearance of a Nigerian boy, it was understandable for someone with those features to be insecure and develop low self-esteem. At least this torture ride was over, Caleb tried to assure himself. He looked at the school’s building one last time with mixed emotions. He was going to leave memories here. Being the habitual deep thinker that he was, he was oblivious of what was happening around him when around him began to ripple. By the time his subconscious finally snapped him to reality, he noticed that he was in another place completely.

The wide road was gone and was replaced by a thin pathway that led to the…Wait, the school wasn’t there. Caleb turned his head around frantically, his heart throbbing in his chest. “Wh-Where am I?” Thinking that he had imagined things, he quickened his pace and left the pathway for the open road, but even that was different. The once tarred road was now a rough orange terrain filled with poking rocks. “Is this some kind of joke?” Caleb began to feel anxious. He walked for a long time before he finally arrived at the place he once called home. The house he had lived in for almost four years had people he hadn’t met before living there. The gate was painted orange, unlike the black gate that he remembered.

Caleb didn’t know what to do at this moment. He had no idea what was going on. He looked around again and saw one of his neighbors exiting his house. “Mama Gift?” Caleb called out with relief. “Good afternoon, ma. Please, what happened to this place? Did you know where Uchechi is?” However, the woman stared at him like he was crazy. “Who you be?” She asked, looking suspiciously. “What? I’m Caleb na, your next-door neighbor”, Caleb answered. Mama Gift kept repeating his name. “Are you a new neighbor?” She asked again. “No, ma. I’ve lived in this place for six years. Please stop joking, na”, Caleb said, frustrated. Of course, the woman won’t be joking with him. Everywhere was so vastly different from what he remembered. The ancient green and white tricycle now dominated the dried clay tarred road, and the vehicles passing by were Mercedes and Volvo from the 80s. He knew that because his dad drove one when he was little.

Feeling helpless, Caleb walked to a nearby restaurant and bought himself rice and stew with the money he initially wanted to buy a recharge card from. The mathematics exam was very exhausting, and he was really hungry. Maybe it was the cause of this mirage. Even the woman that served him food wasn’t the same person he knew. Suddenly, he felt that this woman was familiar. There was once a burial poster of this woman in his street with her face on it. Maybe she had similar features; he didn’t know. But put that aside. His family’s whereabouts were what he cared about. With the way things were, he wasn’t even sure if they lived here in this vicinity. He had eaten to his fullest, but he was still seeing the same things. “The last time I remembered, I don’t think it was this server that gave me my food,” a middle-aged man spoke from behind him. Caleb turned around and faced him with apparent confusion.

“Sir, are you seeing it too?” Caleb asked. “Of course. I can’t even browse on this android because the internet doesn’t really exist now. Jeez”, the man continued wearing a smile. “Where am I, sir? Are you the one that did this to me?” He asked suspiciously. “What? Noo”, the man opened his hands as a gesture of ignorance. “I’m Kolade Bankole by name, and I’m a physicist. You, my friend, stumbled upon a wormhole that landed you here”, Kolade introduced himself. “Wormhole? Is it like that thing that links different timelines together?” Caleb asked. “Yep,” the man affirmed. “Am I in the past now?” Caleb asked, alarmed. His loud voice attracted the customers eating around him.“Lower your voice. The last thing you want to do is to cause an unnecessary paradox. Are you done eating?” Kolade asked and threw the meat from his plate to his mouth.“What year am I?” Caleb asked. “2001”.

Jesus! That’s seventeen years from his present. This sounded ridiculous in his ears, but his eyes weren’t lying to him. Everything the man said checked out. Everywhere just appeared outdated. “What am I going to do now?” Caleb asked after a thought. “You’ll help me fix it, that’s what,” Kolade said and curled his lips. “No, not a chance. Take me back to my family, NOW!” Caleb growled and held the man’s shirt. “Abeg no fight for my restaurant ooo. Carry your wahala comot from my shop”, the server hissed. “Just calm down and follow me,” Kolade said in a hushed tone. A few minutes later, Caleb and Kolade boarded a 1981 salon taxi and drove off the moment Caleb closed the door. “You’re not the only one that had mistakenly hopped into the wormhole.

“Fifty confirmed cases of people losing their way recently started popping in the news two years ago from your current present time. What was worse was that they all died off before I could reach them. “It all began on Monday. I had alighted from my flight. The rain was falling heavily on that specific day. I got into my car and drove to my home. Unfortunately, I ran into a hold-up. I wanted to investigate what was wrong, and it was then I saw it. “There was this woman that alighted from this really old car. The clothes she wore were even older. It was like she was coming from a cultural day party. “She kept screaming in Yoruba that she didn’t know where she was again. Given her age, people quickly drew conclusions that she was a victim of dementia. However, I thought differently”.

Kolade paused for a moment and cleared his throat. “The type of Yoruba she was speaking was so distinct. She had this accent that had gone extinct even among Yorubas today. “Unfortunately, before I could even reach her, a drunk driver from the other intersection of the road ran her over. I couldn’t even help her”, Kolade’s voice drooped.

“So, how does this have to do with my own situation?” Caleb asked. “You are the first to jump time and are still breathing, something the other fifty people weren’t fortunate enough to accomplish. That was why I thought you were special”. “Wait, all the people that flew into this wormhole died? And I’m the only survivor? Why?” Caleb asked with a deep frown. The thought of dying without knowing the reason jump-started his heartbeat. “I don’t know why, but I have a strong feeling it was done by someone. Here”, Kolade said and handed Caleb a photo book. “Take a look at these photos. You see anything special?” Caleb looked at the black and white photos carefully but couldn’t recognize anyone apart from one photo. “Isn’t this General Ironsi?” Caleb asked. “Positive. He was among the people that jumped into the wormhole. Although his time jump was in 1994, it was still strange. He shortly died right after before anyone could even see him”, Kolade explained. Caleb has never heard anything as ridiculous as what Kolade was saying. If it was anywhere, he would have taken him as a mad man, but here he was, sitting in a world in 2001, the very year he was born. How can something like this even happen in Nigeria? Of all places?

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