AP Human Geography
The story begins in 1993. Ishmael, his brother, and some friends are heading down to the village Mattru Jong for a talent show. They plan on performing some rap songs and dance that they learned, but when they arrive at Mattru Jong they discover that rebel soldiers, part of RUF, have attacked their home village and are now heading in their direction. The boys flee into the forest, and as they run they encounter horrid scenes of brutality and violence. The boys camp out in other villages together as they travel, but every time they are eventually run out by the rebels. In one of these instances, Ishmael runs into a bush without time to look for his friends or his brother, whom he will never see again. Ishmael is now alone, and wanders the forest for about a month, searching for food and evading wild animals. Eventually, Ishmael encounters some boys he recognizes from his school. They’re heading to the village Yele, which is said to be safe, and Ishmael joins them. During their travel, one night seems particularly distressing to the boys. Three strange travelers cross the boys’ path, forcing them to hide. One of the boys, Saidu, faints, and the boys carry him into the next village for help. There, Ishmael hears that his family is in a nearby village and is safe, and the boys plan on traveling there next. The boys become burdened with sadness however, after Saidu’s strange and eerie death, as if his previous words had come true. "Every time people come at us with the intention of killing us, I close my eyes and wait for death . . . Very soon I will completely die and all that will be left is my empty body walking with you." The boys sadly bury their friend, but are optimistic about the future and seeing their parents. They meet a man who informs them that their parents are just over a hill, but when they reach the top they see nothing but fire raging throughout the village. Gunshots and screams...
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