The contestants returned to the camp to meet six mini tents instead of the two maxi-sized tents they’d previously had. Originally, the ten guys were crammed into one tent as were the ten girls in the second tent. Now, per Mister K’s instructions, while Ella and CJ would get to be in individual tents, due to the fact that their foremost return from the first task had bestowed on them camp leadership, the other eight would share the remaining four tents, two to each tent. Already, the tents had been tagged either male or female and had been separated accordingly, with each tent having its own semi-compound. Looking at the surroundings, it hit the contestants once again that those they’d spent the past week getting to know were gone – and that soon, it could be their turn.
As the contestants spread out across the camp site, Austin and Tayo grabbed their bags and moved into the first tent marked “Male”. This left Tega and Nonso to share the second tent. It was no secret that Nonso was the camp’s resident grouch, and no one envied Tega his position as Nonso’s roommate. Also, everyone knew Nonso loathed Tega, but no one knew why. They just knew the next three days were going to be terrible for both Nonso and Tega, as Tega would endure the full brunt of Nonso’s simmering rage and Nonso would be in constant torment over Tega’s unrelenting nearness. As the others departed into their tents, there were sniggers as they anticipated an explosion of voices and bad temper shortly.
Nonso and Tega stood outside watching as everyone scurried into their respective tents. They both knew they’d been epically set up by their fellow contestants. Tega glanced at Nonso and caught a flash of the wariness in his eyes. He stood there, unsure what to do, and so, Tega decided to make the first move. He hefted his bag over his shoulder, took a few steps towards the unoccupied tent and looked back to see if Nonso was following him. Nonso was still standing there, held immobile by his uncertainty.
Nonso knew how to handle things, as long as he understood them. He knew and understood his drive to win this competition and he handled it. He knew his loathing for Tega Atarere and he handled it. Or at least, he thought he was handling it. Now he wasn’t sure what was happening between them. And it scared. It scared him that he now had to share a tent with a guy who he didn’t know how to feel about.
“You coming?” Tega called out softly.
The words snapped his focus to Tega. He stood there, looking expectantly at him, waiting for him. But he shouldn’t be waiting for him. They weren’t in this together. They were opponents. He, Nonso, would have to keep reminding himself of that. He simply couldn’t let his guard down around Tega. He knew his reaction to the guy was irrational, but he would rather be irrational than allow himself feel anything close to a friendship for him.
Tega walked back toward him, grabbed Nonso’s bag from his hand, and stretched his other hand to him in a clear “Shall we?” gesture.
Nonso straightened his frame and snatched his bag back from Tega. “I can carry my own bags,” he said stiffly, before proceeding on to the tent.
Tega looked after him, a half smile on his face. then he chuckled, shook his head and followed after him.
They’d lain on the padded camp mattress for hours in silence; Nonso making sure that he didn’t have the slightest bit of bodily contact with Tega, and Tega engrossed in the book he had in his hands. Tega given up on trying to get Nonso to talk to him as he kept skittering away from him every time he got close or mumbling his responses every time Tega asked him something. So now, he was reading a book and Nonso was just lying there next to him.
When it was 5 pm, they all congregated at the camp square for Camp Congress, which Ella, as camp head, was going to chair. Under the focus of the cameras, they discussed a variety of topics – from the tasks they’d finished earlier in the day, analyzing the significance of the tasks in their lives and the society at large; to the evicted contestants and how it would feel settling back into the routines they’d all hoped they wouldn’t go back to; to their various duties for the rest of the three-day duration. As camp heads, Ella and CJ did the assignation of duties.
“On kitchen duty for tonight and tomorrow morning, Austin, Dera and Nelo,” Ella announced.
The entire camp erupted in cheers and laughter. It was no secret that Austin hated kitchen work and yet was a big-time foodie. So, last week, when camp heads had to be rotated per day, the women tended to torture him by placing him on kitchen rotation whenever a female was camp head.
“Patrol for tonight, Amina and myself,” Ella continued. The entire camp went “Ooohhh”, and she added, “Just so we can gossip about you people.” And everyone burst out into laughter. Patrol wasn’t exactly taken seriously because it basically involved lighting the different sets of oil torches around the camp’s perimeter and clearing out their security ditches, work which usually was done by midnight and the patrollers could retire for the night.
“Bath house and convenience, CJ, Mercy and Tayo. I want those areas still fit for human use in the morning.” Ella was wearing a smirk as she turned to Nonso, who already had the beginnings of a scowl on his face. With her smirk blossoming, she said, “Which leaves…”
The entire camp screamed, “Water duties to Tega and Nonso!” And everyone burst out into laughter. Even Tega let out a chortle. Only Nonso stayed unamused.
Water duties were the most hated chore in camp. It involved going to the stream about a kilometre away from camp to fetch water for the entire camp’s use, which ranged from washing and cleaning, to cooking and bathing.
“Look on the bright side, Nonso,” Tega said with a sunny smile. “We don’t have to endure the mess everyone’s going to leave the bath house in. We can just bathe in the stream.”
Nonso flipped him a middle finger and stalked away amidst the laughter. The one thing he didn’t expect was Tega’s retort.
“Bend over, let’s try!” Tega shot at his back with a grin.
Drawing in a sharp breath, Nonso swiveled round and looked at Tega with shock. The rest of the contestants were still laughing wildly, none of them reacting to the homosexual innuendo is Tega’s words. He stared at Tega, his eyes goggling with further astonishment when Tega winked at him. Heat flooded his face and whirled around, vanishing inside their tent.
He is straight… Isn’t he supposed to be straight? He’s been charming all the girls… Rumour has it that he has fucked Mercy, Amina and even the dearly departed Sandra… He is STRAIGHT! And yet… The thoughts in his head spiraling out of control. He could hear the others talking, laughing and having a good time. But he couldn’t settle down. One thought kept running around his head, no matter how much he tried to make it stop. He wanted Tega and it was driving him crazy.
Written by Mitch