Book 2, Chapter 34

The bike survives two days and nights on the streets.

What are the odds?

Getting out of Lagos is a breeze.

Instead of going through all that shit like I went through on the way in, the exit out to the east has a bridge over the ocean that hugs to the shape of the mainland, and just goes and goes and goes. Bypassing everything.

From the bridge it looks like the mainland of Lagos is one massive, uninterrupted, derelict slum.

So that’s where everyone is.

There’s your "whole population of Australia in one city" right there.

I’m starting to wonder about the "authenticity" of my Lagos experience.

But I'm not about to turn back just to see what the slums are like, just for "authenticity".

Shit, I'm happy that I don't even have to ride through it to get out of this joint...

Onward to Benin City; don’t ask me what Benin City has to do with the country of Benin. I don’t know. Probably nothing.

Anyway. Let’s see if we can’t find the other hundred and fifty million punters here in Nigeria. I bet at least one million are policemen...

This is going to be shit.


Nope.

Nigeria strikes again.

I'm loving being surprised.

I'm not far from Benin City, and all I've seen on the ride is a sparsely trafficked, decent, two lane highway, lined by dense, thick greenery of overarching canopied trees and other green stuff.

Nothing but green. The whole way.

It's been one of the nicest rides of the whole trip...

Unbelievable.

Who’d have thought it? Nigeria, for fucks sake.

Where are all the people??

And the whole distance there’s been only one checkpoint.

One!

And, true to form, I rode straight through it. No worries.

I can't believe any of this. Every single one of my expectations and prejudices against this place has been completely, utterly wrong.

My only thoughts now are with the bike. Tuned in through my ears, hands, feet and arse to every note and vibration coming from it.

I worry about a persistent "jolt" that I feel every now and again in the foot pegs. It's like someone gives the bottom of the footrest a little whack with a hammer every now and again.

Curious.

Sprocket and chain?

Maybe...

There's fuck all I can do about it while I’m riding, so I really ought to just forget about it and enjoy myself.

It's twenty odd clicks to ride till Benin City. I’m feeling good, surprisingly good, fresh even, given it's been a long day in the saddle; three hundred odd clicks and maybe five or six solid hours of riding since Lagos. Despite skipping lunch I’m not even feeling hungry. The miles and time has somehow just breezed right on by.


I’m flying along at a clip, pulling out and overtaking a couple of slow moving big trucks - halfway past the first.

Ping.

In my brain.

It almost makes a noise.

I can’t think.

My thoughts lose focus. Then disappear.

I feel weird.

I feel dizzy.

What’s happening??

My eyes lose focus.

I can’t see straight.

I can’t see clearly.

Suddenly, unpleasantly drunk all over.

Oh fuck it’s all going fuzzy.

What is this???

The points at the side of my jaw go sour, then tight.

I’m going to be sick.

Boom! Adrenaline! Fizz!

I’m going to throw up in my helmet.

Keep going. Roll on. Roll. It’ll pass it’ll pass it’ll pass...

Gasping. Lungs heaving.

Head lolling.

My heart revs.

Everything feels straight, but the bike starts sliding to the right.

The world moves to the right.

To the right. To the right...

It won’t stop.

To the right.

I pass the second truck.

My body moves in my mind - and my senses tell me the bike should straighten - but not in the world. It doesn't happen.

The world rotates slowly the other way.

The bike keeps drifting, right, right.

I can’t stop it.

I can’t move.

I'm going to be sick.

I’m going to collapse.

I'm fucked.

Am I dying?

Am I fucking dying??

Brakes.

Brakes!!

The whole world is flying in queasy cartwheels to the right that snap back to upright. Again, again, again...

We stop.

I put the bike, somehow, onto the stand, to the left.

Swoon...

What happens after I black out? In Nigeria...

Where will I wake up?

Will I wake up?

The helmet comes off.

The jacket.

I walk. Stumble. And I breathe. Deep.

Frantic. Eyes wild. My face scrunches itself up.

Oh fuck. This is it...

I’m fucked. I’m fucked fucked fuck.

What is this???


It comes off. Slow.

I don’t throw up.

I stay awake.

I pop my ears; squeezing on my nose and blowing pressure into it to equalise my eardrums. I don’t know why I'd do that.

Each second, each step, I’m a little further from the edge.

A little further from the floor.

The bile receding. My jaw still feels sour and clenched.

The vision slowly focusing.

The storm’s passing.

Still dizzy.

Still can’t walk in a straight line.

Still can’t think in a straight line.

I don’t feel like me...

Not myself...

What just happened?

What do I do now?

I can’t stay here...

But to ride on... I can’t barely walk straight, can’t see straight, can’t think straight... I can't ride like this...

What else can I do? Call for help?

I get on the bike, and I ride.


I can control it enough to keep it upright and moving forward.

My breathing won’t take care of itself; something feels very wrong. I don’t think I’m breathing properly on my body's autopilot - so I take over myself.

In, out, in, out, in, out...

I hyperventilate; My arms and nose are tingling with the overload of oxygen.

I stop the bike again.


I go again.

I stop again.

I go again...


I only just start to feel normal again as I pull into Benin City.

I can think, a little.

I can't believe I made it...

Oblivious | Luke Gelmi