“The irredemable showoff. On a serious note, though, how are we handling tonight’s sleep situation? It’s already half past ten.”
Chuks scratched his head. “Honestly, I no know o.”
“Hey, guys.” Insructor Okolo came from the darkness that was the training area. It was out there in the darkness somewhere, along with the ten ten-foot-tall steel lollipops standing side by side. She was dressed in pajamas and her hair was tousled, with her white iPad in her hand nontheless.
“Ahn-ahn, are all of you still outside? Aren’t you going to sleep?”
“I thought you came to take us to some kind of dormitory,” Chuks said. “Instructor Max just left us here.”
“I’ve even been looking for him everywhere. He’s the one that will decide— ”
“I’m right here, Anne,” said the field instructor himself, walking into the illmination of the fire. Anne’s face grew rigid. Every article of clothing was still present on him, from the white top shirt to the blue trousers and boots. All of them started gathering their bags, thinking it was time to go to sleep.
“And no,” he continued. “You are not sleeping here today. We’re going back to the range tonight.” He said looking sternly at the lot of them as if daring anyone to challenge the decision. The students, on the other hand, fell silent. They had been inconvenienced so many times today that no one knew what else to say.
“Do you mean, sir, that we will trek back through the forest this night?” Belinda asked incredulously.
“No, but you can if you feel like been torn to pieces by the animals that roam there at night. We will be taking the choppers tonight.”
There was a chorus of hearty cheers, and Chuks could have sworn he saw the field instructor smile.
“Okay, okay, pack up, that’s enough. We haven’t got all night. We have to be back before midnight.” He turned and strode off into the darkness. The rest started packing up.
“So, guys, good night. I expect we’ll be seeing each other day after tomorrow. Yes, you have all tried for today, so we’re giving you tomorrow off.” More hearty cheers followed.
“And please, try to get more into practice. I must admit I wasn’t too pleased with what I saw today.” Her voice, while still friendly, had taken on a sudden note of seriousness the class were so unused to that they fell silent once again, their bags completely forgotten. She dropped it very quickly, though.
“See as all of una dey look me sha,” she said smiling mischeiviously. “Am I not your instructor again?” The helicopters could be heard starting up in the distance and they turned back to packing, chattering excitedly.
“See you later,” she said loudly, struggling to make herself heard over the din. “I’ll better get back to the dorm now.” She waved to Segun and Chuks, and they waved back. She too walked away.
“At least, I still dey fly go house like I talk,” said Shine, laughing as he hi-fived Paul.
Chuks slung his bag over his shoulders, his friend by his side, and walked with the others toward the helicopter, tracing the noise of their engines. Their noise got steadily louder until they were directly before them, two large helicopters with blinding lights and deafening roars. Attendants were at the doors, handing out headphones as they climbed into the snug interiors.
As he put on his headphones, the noise of the engines dropped to almost nothing. He climbed into the first one, and his chum got in behind him. He could see that there wasn’t any privacy; he could clearly hear every word of conversation going on.
He looked around to see that the attendants had closed the doors. The field instructor was seated beside the pilot up front, and they were directly behind. The helicopter slowly moved off the ground, and Segun gripped the hands of his seat. No doubt being in here reminded the guy of the feeling of lightness in the stomach that made him hate coming home for holidays when they were still in school. Thank God Belinda wasn’t even in the same helicopter with him.
Chuks felt the hum of the engines rocking him to sleep. He turned off his headphones. All went quiet. He then closed his eyes and let himself drift off.