Extraction Adventure – Cameroon Honeymoon
by D.I. Telbat
“I don’t want to die!”
“You won’t die if you do what I tell you.” Corban Dowler gripped the steering wheel tighter as the SUV bounced over the Cameroon dirt road. The red dust behind them didn’t settle for several minutes. “Jay, try to keep your wife settled.”
The SUV was ten years old. Bullet holes pocked the back half and rust had caused the paint to chip. Instead of driving his daughter to school in the States, Corban was driving endangered Americans in a jalopy through the bush of West Africa.
Beside Corban sat Tiffany Finley, a curly-haired blonde from Idaho. Dried streaks ran through the dust on her cheeks. As she leaned toward the cracked windshield, her eyes darted left and right, searching for the helicopter that meant safety.
Next to the passenger door, Jay clung to Tiffany’s hand. He choked occasionally on the dust that rolled through his open window when they passed a vehicle. Jay was in better control of his emotions, but no less a misfit than his wife was on the tough African plain.
“Well-intentioned, you two,” Corban said over a squeaky fan belt, “but Cameroon isn’t exactly a honeymooners’ paradise, huh?”
Corban glanced at Jay. The tall, slim redhead in his early twenties already had a long face, but Corban wanted his point to sink in.
“We weren’t expecting a taxi strike in the city, Mr. Dowler. We just wanted to spend our honeymoon helping others.” Tiffany pointed ahead. “What’s that?”
“Uh-oh.” Corban cringed at the sight. On most missions, he carried non-lethal weapons, but not on this trip. “It’s a blockade. I’ve been warned about these. The city of Bamenda is near. The striking taxi drivers have turned to highway robbery to feed their families.”
“They have guns!” Jay exclaimed. For the tenth time in as many miles, he tried to roll up his window, but nothing worked. Instead, he made sure his door was locked and he put his arm around Tiffany as fresh tears started again.
“Just keep quiet.” Corban slowed the SUV. “God knows our plight. Just pray under your breath and try not to show your fear.”
Corban counted ten men with clubs, machetes, and AK-47s. He could have driven into the field to avoid three trucks blocking the road, but that would’ve only drawn gunfire.
As the SUV stopped, the men surrounded the vehicle. One man tapped a machete on the hood, surely seeking a reaction from these white-faced foreigners.
“Road tax, then you go.” A tall man, possibly a descendant of a Fulbe hunter, rested his rifle muzzle on the window opening. Like many people from the city, he spoke fair English. “You a long way from home. Pay and go home.”
Grasping the steering wheel with both hands, Corban stared straight ahead. When his eyes did move, it was only to check the rear view mirror. Two other vehicles were coming up the road behind them.
“We won’t pay. We are friends of Cameroon. We have no money.”
“Pay!” The bandit nudged Corban’s shoulder with the muzzle of the gun. “Pay or there will be trouble!”
“We are guests of Cameroon,” Corban said calmly, though his knuckles were white. “We will not pay.”
At Jay’s window, a gunman reached through and clawed at Jay’s collar. The shirt ripped, but Jay remained still.
In a glance at the rear view mirror, Corban noticed several men looking into the back of the SUV. The back was empty except for Corban’s backpack. The young couple had been rousted from their hotel too hastily to pack.
“Pay or we take your truck,” the man pressed. His companions were growing more impatient, especially with other cars approaching. “Do you want to walk home?”
“No.” Corban set his jaw. Jay and Tiffany remained silent, though the young wife was shaking.
The other cars pulled up behind the SUV. The bandits were at a loss now, and several began to argue outside Corban’s window. Finally, one screamed in his native tongue, fired a burst of gunfire into the sky, and waved Corban through. The SUV was kicked and battered with their weapons as they drove on, but it was nothing the SUV hadn’t endured before. The barricade opened and they were through, once again churning up red dust.
“How’d you know they wouldn’t kill us?” Jay gasped.
“I didn’t. I just prayed that they were only workers on strike, not murderers.”
“You could’ve gotten us killed!” Tiffany cried.
“It was no less a gamble than you coming to Cameroon without a plan. Next time you come to Africa, make sure you work it out with some local missionaries.” Corban pointed to the east. “Look, the chopper is still here.”
As Jay helped Tiffany out of the SUV, Corban let the engine continue to run while he took a swig from his canteen. The pilot in the helicopter signaled his passengers to hurry.
“Mr. Dowler, you’re not coming?” Jay peered through the passenger window as Tiffany tugged on his arm. Jay offered his hand to Corban. “Well, thanks for your help, sir. I’ll never forget this. “Shaking the young man’s hand, Corban then gave him his business card.
“If you want to work for the Lord abroad, call my COIL office when you get back to the States. But only if you’re serious.”
“Really? Even after you’ve seen what a mess we made on our own?”
“I doubt you’ll make this mistake again.”
“Take care of that wife of yours and call me, Jay. We could use a willing couple like you two. So can God.”
Corban sped away to the north. Rescuing the Finleys had been a small hiccup in his Cameroon itinerary. He still had to meet in secret with an area chieftain who had accepted Christ—if the man hadn’t been killed already.
Inspired by true events, as well as character and themes found in The COIL Series by D.I. Telbat. Click the following links to read other Extraction and longer stories, and short Christian Adventure stories by D.I. Telbat.
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