Emeka will drown if Rebisi can't convince him to ignore the snake and climb out of the fishing hole.

Source : http://www.highlightskids.com/Stories/Fiction/F1298_conga.asp...

The fishing hole was a family secret.I felt the cool moist sea breeze on my face as we rowed our way through the mangrove swamps. The mosquitoes whined in our ears; Emeka’s paddle clunked against the side of our canoe. The day was hot and oppressive.

“Slow down and pull up against the large tree to your right,” I told Emeka. “We’ll walk the rest of the way.”

We hid our dugout canoe in the thicket and headed west, carrying our baskets and net. We stirred up more mosquitoes as we pattered through the mud.

“Tell me,” Emeka said. “How did your grandpa discover the famous fishing hole?”

“It’s a family secret. No one, not even my dad, is allowed to tell.”

“My father said I was lucky you invited me,” Emeka confided.

I stopped in my tracks, grasped Emeka by his khaki shirt, and stared straight into his eyes. “I had to get Grandpa’s special permission to take you. I pledged your trust. I promised you’d never go back there or take anyone else.”

Emeka blinked, then stuttered, “I-I promise.”

I made him swear it before we continued.

We saw some flies buzzing over a rotten fish stuck on a mangrove branch to our left. “It's probably a hawk’s lunch,” I said.

Emeka shrugged.

“Now we must go north,” I said. “Then at a certain point we will go east, then double back at another point and head south.”

Emeka looked up, questions in his eyes. “Just a precaution,” I assured him.

“I know.” He chuckled. “I heard the story of Leka and the other four who went to find the hole.”

I laughed. “They all got lost.”

“My favorite was Leka’s story,” Emeka said. “He was so lost that the search party had to rescue him from the treetops like a kitten.”

We both laughed.

Finally we arrived at the fishing hole, laid down our baskets and net, and made ready. The humid air smelled of salt. “That’s because the water comes in from the Atlantic, through the coral reef,” I explained.

The ten-foot-wide hole lay under the giant branch of a red mangrove tree. The area had not been disturbed since my grandpa and I last fished there two months before. Green water lilies had sprouted where we last sat. The water was clear and calm, reflecting the lush mangroves and our faces like a mirror. We could see the hole’s inhabitants swimming around—schools of dark-striped tilapia, silvery catfish, and red-bellied snappers.

“How odd,” I said. “All the fish are keeping to one side of the hole.”

“Let’s not worry about that,” Emeka said. “We’d better get them while they wait.”

Emeka peered over the edge of the hole. “Wow,” he said. “Must be a twenty-foot drop from here.”

“Just a minute,” I said. I untied a large vine from the trunk of the mangrove tree and hitched it to the branch. “That’s our only way in and our only way out,” I said.

The vine, about as thick as my wrist, dangled into the middle of the hole and grazed the surface of the water. I gave two quick tugs to show Emeka the vine would hold.

“There,” I said. “Climb in. The escalator is ready.”

Emeka swallowed nervously, so, strapping on my basket, I grabbed the vine and slid down. He followed.

The water was cool and took the bite out of the heat. We set our net and began fishing. From one end of the hole we chased the fish into the net. We also caught shrimp and a few blue crabs.

From time to time we’d stop to empty our catch into a basket. Then we’d start the process all over again. We took turns climbing up the vine and emptying the basket beside the hole. The pile of fish started to grow. Emeka could hardly contain his excitement.

“Wow!” he said. “Absolutely inconceivable! This must be the best fishing hole in Nigeria!”

As we chased the fish toward the net, they swam in all directions, between us and under our feet. But I noticed that they still did not swim to the other side of the hole. They’d fly and catapult out of the water when they came to that part.

“How interesting!” I remarked.

“Forget interesting,” Emeka replied. “Let’s fish!”

Then the tide came in, and the water in the hole began to rise. Soon it was waist-high.

“Time to leave,” I said to Emeka. “I’ll take out the last batch. You can fold the net and climb out.”

He nodded.

I caught the vine and climbed out, carrying the basket.

Minutes snailed by but Emeka did not come. He did not answer my whistling or calls, so I returned to the hole. Emeka had not moved. The water was up to his neck and still rising. He appeared frozen, his eyes large and scared.

“What’s the matter?” I called.

Emeka did not answer. He glared at the spot where the fish would not go. Then I peered in and saw it. The snake, gray and shiny, was about the size of my arm. Swimming back and forth, trailing tiny waves, it kept its distance from my friend. I gulped.

“The snake must have hidden in the coral while we fished,” I said. “The water has forced it from its hiding place.”

I had to think fast.I was alarmed, but I didn’t dare show my fear. One wrong move and Emeka would drown or be bitten. His life depended on me. I knew I could not let him down. I had to be brave. I had to think fast.

“It’s him, all right,” I said, smiling. “That’s just Conga. Leave the net and climb out. The water is rising. I’ll get the net later.”

“Y-you know him?”Emeka stuttered.

I nodded. “Sure. Climb out quickly. The water is rising.”

“What about him?” Emeka pointed up the vine.

I looked. On the branch just over my head was another snake. The same kind. Only larger. I swallowed and bit my lip.

“Oh, that one? That’s Conga’s mother,” I said casually. “Grab the vine.”

Emeka gripped the vine and hoisted himself out of the hole.

“Run!” I shouted.

“What about the net?”


We both ran.

Later, as we sat panting, away from the fish-eating snakes, Emeka turned to me.

“You mean you didn’t know those snakes?”

I shook my head. “Nope. But I had to do something.”

“Wow!” he said. “Absolutely inconceivable!”