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Excerpt for Conquest of the Tunnel of No Return by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Chapter One


In the little village of Aniche
situated 8 kilometres east of Pranil, Oko,a peasant farmer was digging a well behind his newly completed house. Several inhabitants of Aniche drank from such wells which were usually very deep, as the nearest stream was - over 26 kilometres away. Uduma Oko, had been digging for three days and had gone quite deep when suddenly the ground under his feet gave way.
Uduma fell through space and landed on firm ground again, some 4 meters below the point he had dug up to. Panting with fear, he
started shouting at the top of his voice for help. It was

completely dark in there and he could not see much. He
shouted and called, and no help came. An idea quickly
occurred to him.

"I must make some attempt at coming out. The rope
which he had thrown into the hole he was digging, and
by means of which he climbed in and out; was about 1.5
meters above him. Its other end had been firmly tied to
the trunk of a nearby tree above. He jumped as high as
he could, but he could only get as close as about half a
meter from the tip of the rope.

Now, he conceived a beautiful idea. "By spreading
both legs across the diameter of the hole and pressing
on the upper part with both palms similarly spread out, I
can get to this rope end he assured himself. And he

began. .

He threw out one leg into the dark surrounding, for a
feel of the wall and there was no wall nearby. He nervously threw out both hands wide apart to feel the walls and the hands merely swept through hot air. A much greater fear gripped him. He began to shiver. He shouted and shouted, and soon realized that there was some echoing sound between the spells of shouting.

Uduma's voice soon brought to the scene, a little boy
who was playing nearby.

As soon as he saw the boy's face as he tried to peep
down into the hole, Uduma pleaded with him to run and
call everybody.

The little boy ran out and delivered the message.

Soon people started running to the scene.

As they arrived, Uduma;s elder brother who was
among them called out.

"Uduma! what is wrong? Ah! you have already gone
so deep in such a short time. Please go to that tree and
loosen that rope and, and throw more length of the rope
so that I can come out. Please hurry I am in danger.
pleaded Uduma. Off he ran, accompanied by two other
men, They did as was requested. The rope came down
near enough for Uduma's grip. He gripped it firmly, and
started climbing out as all the men pulled on the rope to
facilitate his deliverance .

.Puffing out air from his lungs like a blacksmith's
bellows, Udurna, with face scowled with fright and wonder began the story of his experience in the under-world.

"My people; he continued, I am of the opinion that
that mighty hole must be harbouring some big dangerous
animal. It could be some mighty snake, and I am afraid it
could come out from the hole I have dug for the well, and
devour us.

"How big is the hole?" asked Peter who was also

contemplating on digging a well for his own family.

"I am telling you that the hole is big enough to hold an animal as big as ten elephants. I spread out my hands in that darkness, but could not feel the boundary. It is a very mighty space".

"It may be a cave used by the old-age people
thousands of years back," reasoned another.

"And very often, these caves are inhabited by big
snakes, came another." "We are no longer safe here,
you know" warned Uduma.

At this everyone was gripped with fear, and they
resolved to alert the whole village about it.

The story soon spread like wild fire. Soon, varying
versions of the same story were heard in. various quarters.
In some areas, it was held that someone was digging a
well, and suddenly sank into another world under-ground,
and it was said that the temperature was too hot in this
under-world. Some believed that the fellow was at the
out-skirts of Hell which was believed to be under the earth.
Some interpreted what Uduma described as echoing of
his voice, to be voices of spirits of the under-world
mimicking Uduma's shouts for help.

As the villagers could no longer bear the horrifying
stories being told in various quarters about the hole, they
soon started packing, until the entire Aniche became a ghost village.

The exodus of the villagers gave greater publicity to the story, and soon other neighboring villages started
panicking. Many feared that since the villagers of Aniche had al'l moved, whatever was living in that hole, if it meant any havoc would continue advancing until it got to the other neighboring villages. This instilled an irrepressible fear in every one and soon the exodus became so wide-spread that the central govemment was faced with an unprecedented refugee problem. Government appeals on the villagers to return to their various villages fell on deaf ears.



return to their various villages fell on deaf ears.

Chapter Two


ENTER THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS


The central government had not treated with any
degree of seriousness the story emanating from Aniche
village about a strange underground hole, until it created
an enormous refugee problem. Several children, as well
as the aged began to die from hunger and disease in
several refugee camps.

Uduma, the well digger, was invited for
questioning at the Archaeological Survey Office. Following his explanations, it was then decided that a team of archaeologists be sent to the area to study the nature of the under- round hole.

Every move being contemplated on was widely
publicized in the news media with the aim of defusing
the fear generated in the minds of the people.

As a first step, a temporary house was to be
constructed in the village of Aniche, near to where the
hole exists. The archaeologists were expected to live in
this house for the period of time they were to carry out

detailed studies and exploration of the hole. This move
was widely publicized by the government. The villagers
of Aniche who were still staying in several refugee camps
were called upon to seize the advantage of having to
reside with the Archaeologists, to return to their homes.
While the construction of the house to accommodate
the Archaeologists was going an in Aniche, the
Archaeological Survey Office had become a busy office,
as several people began to visit them to ask questions
about the mysterious hole. Several persons, who came
there, came with a view to finding out how safe they were
in their various homes vis-a-vis the distance between
Aniche and their various homes. Many came with the
hope that the Archaeologists would be able to make some useful postulations based on their previous experiences or wealth of knowledge. There were others who thought that the archaeologists had gone to the hole, and they had come to find out the result. Consequently, some of these
people had developed some familiarity and even
intimate friendship with some of the officials of the
Archaeological Survey Office.

Work was now completed at the site where a temporary building was going up for the Archaeologists. It was now time for the exploration to start.

~

Two archaeologists were despatched into the tunnel. They carried a small box containing some working tools. They also had very powerful search-lights for clear visibility. By means of a pulley-operated belt, the two explorers were lowered into the hole.


As soon as the two Archaeologists landed at the
bottom of the pit, they flashed the powerful light they were carrying. "Gush! Exclaimed Philip who was carrying the light" "What a mighty tunnel!"

"And people have been talking of a big hole all along!"
gasped his partner who was beginning to shiver with
fear.

"I think we better go back to report this, may be
we shall need to carry in more equipment."

I suppose you are right, Philip. I have never seen
or heard of an underground tunnel as big as this.
wondered Peter who had switched on the search-light
to the maximum illumination to see the limit of the tunnel.
The powerful light faded into a dark area beyond, giving
an impression that the tunnel was longer than the length
the light could go. They went back to the belt and pulled
the alarm rope. The pulley began to revolve, and they
were pulled up.

On arriving at the survey office, they reported what they saw. Everyone was startled at the news that the underground hole was a mighty tunnel. They gave

the estimate of its size to be 7 meters deep, 5 meters wide, and as long a anybody can guess.

The first report that left the Archaeological survey office (ASO) was that the well-digger's hole opened into a section of a very long tunnel, and that the ASO officials were now embarking on a complete exploration of this tunnel.

The news that the big underground hole was after all a tunnel without end sent fear into everyone. There were some who speculated that the tunnel may be an old valley covered up after a volcanic eruption some thousands of years ago. Some others believed that the tunnel must have something to do with the habitat of some ancient large animal that lived under the soil.

Because of the fear which had been generated
in the minds of all, including the Archaeologists, it was
decided to send two armed policemen to go along with
the Archaeologists,

Four days later, the exploration resumed. The
four men were lowered into the tunnel. On their arrival, each of the two archaeologists paired up with each policeman.
They then decided to go in one direction first with an
aim of first determining how long the tunnel was on that

side. ._



They moved with heavy steps as children
learning to walk. As they took each step, they stopped,
surveyed the top, the sides, and bottom of where they
were. The powerful search light they were holding gave
them very clear visibility. Holding their rifles in readiness
for shooting, the two policemen who were no less
frightened in this strange world now led the way as they

advanced. r.

With steps heavy with fear, sandwiched between curiosity and determination the four men prodded on.)

.

The sun was going down, and the ASO was
getting worried about the length of time the men were
staying in the tunnel.

"I cannot understand why they should decide to
keep us in such suspense," howled Dr. Finn, the head .
of ASO. “If they discover that the tunnel was getting too long, seeing that it was getting dark, they should have



come out to report the extent they had discovered," he
continued. Banging his right fist on the table in anger,
Dr. Finn continued in a much louder voice. "And I
specifically instructed them not to bother about taking
any samples yet, but to determine how long the tunnel
is and report back to me".


Doctor, I am even worried about their lives,
complained Miss Pugh, Dr. Finn's Secretary

What beast will overpower four men at a time;
armed with rifles?" queried Dr. Finn. "Take that
completely out of your mind. If they met any danger, at;
least one of them would be able to escape to report

such to us" he reassured. .

It was now 10.pm. It became certain that the men
would not be expected to return that niqht. The office
was then shut for the day.

Chapter Three

~
THE SURRENDER

,

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.

1 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 A.S.O.
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. The late 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.


Chapter Four

THE ALARM

Gake was one of the biggest refugee camps in
Ajala. It had about 700 inmates. One of the inmates was
a man named Patrick Tagu. Mr. Tagu was a man in his
forties. He was married and had five children, who were
all staying with him in the camp. One of the things Mr.
Tagu reqretted very much was his inability to attend his
usual Church services on Sundays. He was a very active
member of the Roman Catholic Church in Awa his home
village, which was 12km from Aniche.

News went round the camp that a Reverend
Father would be visiting the camp to say mass for the
inmates. Mr. Tagu looked forward very eagerly for the
arrival of that special Sunday. On Friday preceding, the
Sunday, he had his clothes and that of his entire family
washed and straightened under a hot iron. As he ironed
the clothes, he sang with a heart bursting with joyful
expectation. Everyone in the camp noticed that he was
very happy, and some passed comments on this.

"Mr. Tagu, you seem to be very happy today, I like
to see my refugees feeling happy", remarked Mr. Roberts,

the camp superintendent.

"Yes Sir", replied Mr. Tagu, with a face full of smiles,
"Sir, you know that our reverend father is coming here
on Sunday to celebrate mass for us, and it makes me happy".
"Are you a catholic?" queried Mr. Roberts.

"Yes! I am a catholic. In my home I was the Vice
Chairman of our Parish Council, and I got very involved
in all the church activities. But since we came here, I
have not been going to church again, and I am not happy
about it all", he explained.

Stretching out his right hand, Mr. Roberts caught
Mr. Tagu's left hand, and dragged him along with him
saying, "Now come! I have seen what I have been looking for. Let's go into my office and sit down. I have something important to ask you. Abandoning his ironing, Mr. Tagu followed him to his office.

Mr. Robert's office was a small room attached to
one of the halls housing the refugees. It has a small
window on the east end of it, overlooking a small stream
which served as the source of water to the inmates of
the camp.

There was a small table flanked by two wooden chairs,
and an old calendar hung on one of the walls. An electric
bulb surrounded by smoked cob-webs hung from the roof.
At the left corner of the room was a plastic basin mounted on a tripod stand, from which hung a towel brown with dirt and age. This basin holds the water with which Mr. Roberts washed his hands after work ..

"Sit down, Mr. Tagu", he invited, pointing at the
chair opposite him. Well Mr. Tagu, he started, "I have been waiting for an opportunity to come across a man like you to explain this important puzzle to me. So, please listen carefully to this story of mine, and at the ,end I shall ask you a question which has bogged my mind for ten years now. I am sure that you will be able to answer it since you are deeply involved with the church. "Please go on! I will do my best to answer the question if it is something I know about, replied Mr. Tagu.

"About twenty two years ago, I got married to a
girl called Julie. She was a very pretty girl, and I loved
her very much. We were very found of each other, and
lived happily together.

One morning ten years after our marriage, she
called me and started telling me that it was wrong for us
to be living together as husband and wife without being
joined together by God in the church. She also said that
it is wrong for us not to be going to church on Sunday to
worship God. She warned that if we did not make a
change before we died, that God was going to punish
us by throwing us to the fire of Hell.

I could not make any meaning out of all she was saying,
and the whole thing sounded childish. I called her quietly
and asked her whether she was sure she was in her
proper senses. She told me that she had been spoken
to by two people who belonged to a society in the
Catholic Church known as the Legion of Mary.


From that day onwards, she never gave me any
peace of mind. She kept on urging me on this issue that
I became very worried, and sad. The climax of it all was
that she soon started attending church service alone on
Sundays, while she continued persuadinq me without any
success. One Sunday, she told me point black, that she
was going to go away from me and if possible get herself
married to another man if I was not prepared to listen to
her. I regarded the whole thing as a big joke, because I
could not imagine Julie walking out on me and leaving
the four children she had brought into the world.

One afternoon while I was still at work, my eldest
son ran up to me to report that their mother had packed
all her things and said she was going back to her parents.
I hurried back to the house and discovered that she had
really packed out of my house.

The next day, I travelled to her parents, and met
her there. She again told me that unless I became an
active Catholic and unless I was ready to take her to the
altar of God; she would not have anything to do with me.
Since I was not prepared for all those things which I
regarded as childish and primitive, I refused to grant her
request. It is now ten years since this happened, and
Julie has continued to remain in her father's house. I, on
my part, have since married another woman who has
given me three children. Since then, however, my mind
had remained so very puzzled about Julie's behaviour,
up till now, I am not yet able to understand why going to

church should mean so much to Julie. I believe in God
and I know his ten commandments. I believe that any
one who keeps the ten commandments of God, whether
he goes to church or not, will still get into heaven. I do
not see how God will refuse heaven to a man who obeys
his commandments.

This was why I felt happy when I discovered that
you are one of the church leaders. So please, can you
explain to me why my wife behaved the way she did,
and why it is so very important that I must go to church in order to enter heaven?

"Yes, Mr. Roberts" began Tagu, "I can explain this very well to you. You know that sacrifice is the biggest thing you can give to the spirits, or the gods. In fact, you can say that it is the food that spirits eat. The Almighty God, being the greatest of all spirits and the creator of all spirits also cherishes sacrifice more than any other thing. For example, fasting is a form of sacrifice. Here you are sacrificing the food you would have eaten. This is why prayers achieve a lot more when they are accompanied with fasting. Giving alms to the needy is another form of sacrifice. All these are very pleasing to God. Sacrifice acquires very high value before the spirits when blood is shed. You see, we are human beings, and we may not adequately understand how pleasing and attractive blood is to the spirits in general.

Right from the beginning of the world, God was
worshiped with sacrifice of animals, whose blood must

first be spilled. Imagine a powerful and wealthy man who
is always having his subjects coming to him to ask one
favour or the other; or to thank him for one favour or the
other he had done them. Naturally many will come with
all kinds of presents. Some may come with bottles of
hot drinks; some with yams and fowls some with goats,
and some even may come with nothing other than words
of praise and thanksgiving, or heart-melting words of
petition. Suppose that out of all these, there is a man
who has come with a very fat cow to give to this man. It is
obvious that this powerful man will notice the man with
the big cow before all other people equally waiting for
attention.

Similarly, before the spirits, the bigger the victim
or animal for the sacrifice, the more attractive, and the
quicker the giver will receive attention.

The heart of God, (out of which flows the mercy
with which he pardons our offences, and the love with
which he pours out his blessings on us) can be
penetrated much deeper by the bigger sacrificial victims
than by the smaller ones-depending however on the
degree of a person's uprightness and the weight of his
purse.

In the old testament of the Holy Bible you saw
many places where the Jews offered thousands of sheep
or cattle as sacrifice to God either to beg for a favour, or
to plead for forgiveness of their sins.

Sin grew in the world and reached a stage where

it required thousands of animals to be sacrificed to be
able to reach the heart of God and thus make him remove the punishment which his infinite justice attaches to every sin committed. God (whose law is such that even children must have to suffer for the sins committed by their parents if they continued to sin like their parents did), saw that many could not afford to provide enough victims to offer to clear the hurdles of sin blocking their ways to heaven, then decided to send his son to theworld to be used as victim so that we may reach him.

He knew that his son is worth more than millions
of fat cows offered as sacrifice, and that this very highly
priced victim could be offered by the poorest man on
earth by merely attending the ceremony where the
sacrifice is being made.

So when Jesus Christ, the son of God descended
from heaven onto the world, he called together his twelve
disciples and taught them his new way of offering
sacrifice to God for the remission of sins.

After demonstrating the method of offering this
sacrifice by using bread and wine which by invoking the
name of God would automatically be transformed into
his Body and blood, Christ told them to continue to do
the same thing in memory of Him .

It is this new sacrifice using the son of God as
the victim, which is being offered in the churches on
Sundays, by priests and bishops. Any person present
during this offering has also offered to God, his own son

as a sacrifice and as I said earlier, you are higher in the
eyes of God than someone who slaughters 100 million
heads of cattle as a sacrifice to God.

The benefit of this is that having made this
offering you can now open your mouth and tell God all
that you want him to do for you, He will give you greater
attention than if you offered nothing but mere words of
prayer. This is why it is said that the mass (that is, this
sacrifice) is the greatest form of praying. It is the prayer
that God likes to hear more than any other, unless one
is handicapped to hear mass.

With this offering, we can beg God to remove
the punishment attached to our sins, and he will do so.
We can use it to thank God for what he did for us. We
can also use it to beg for things for others. Mass is Christ
praying to God or us, and God will hear Christ prayers
better than ours because of our sins.


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