Population Control – Chapter 18 (Part 2)
This is a translation of a Japanese novel. You can read the Raw here.
This is a work of fiction, with depictions of violence such as death of many people at a time. It is not suitable for readers under 15.
This chapter was edited by KuroHaruto!
Hey everyone, I hope you’re doing okay!
Just a small heads up. I’ve indicated the change of POV in this chapter, but there is already an indication. When the author puts stars above the text, that means it’s from a narrator’s point of view, but when he puts losanges, then it’s from the MC’s point of view.
Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 18 (Part 2)
★★★★★ (3rd person POV)
As soon as it started, the gold rush of the Osun river was already a big deal.
Normally, the gold dust found in rivers were seldom bigger than a grain of sand. People would scream in joy upon finding a piece the size of a pearl.
But in the Osun river, lumps of gold as big as erasers could be found all over the place.
This was an impossible scenario come true.
The locals were excited.
They took their bamboo baskets, their cast nets and their fishing poles to the site of the miracle.
And while those people were using their small cast nets, the Chinese mafia hired fishermen and opted for the much more efficient driftnets.
Every day, media outlets from all over the world, starting from CNN, would pick lucky locals to interview and then share those images around the globe.
The one who gathered the most gold became known as the riverside’s hero. But even those who gathered up to only 25 grams had enough to cover for the equivalent of three months of their salaries.
One after another, treasure
hunters came from the neighboring areas and countries to the Osun river.
Some even came all the way from Europe and the US.
To accommodate all those who wanted a piece of the cake, there were now lunch carts, fishing-material shops, and portable toilets. Each had long queues of people waiting for their turns all across the riverbed.
There was a rumor spreading
among the people near the river about a treasure hunter who did not want to pay
the toilet fees and went to the forest instead. The rumor claimed he had been
bitten by a large snake and was found running around, weeping, with his own
excrement on himself.
It didn’t take long before it became common to see someone weighing a small amount of money against his own dignity as a human, only to end up tearfully joining a line to one of the portable toilets near the Osun river.
Ijebu Igbo rapidly became packed with people.
The money expelled from the wallets of the wave of treasure hunters started enriching the town. Every cheap hotel was filled to the brim with guests who were there for long stays, and even back-alley, small restaurants had so many clients that they were having a hard time handling them. The owners were ecstatic.
As the economy flourished, workers naturally flowed into Ijebu Igbo. Those who were able to find jobs settled down on the spot, therefore further extending the boundaries of the town.
As Ijebu Igbo gained fame as the ‘gold town’, the local financial institutions started creating new branches across the area to respond to the people’s growing demands.
“See? Couldn’t be more easy! If you liked the video, subscribe to my channel!”
Some people made money by making videos online explaining how to gather gold at the river.
One video, where someone simply filmed himself casting a net, taking some fish and then excitedly pulling out gold from them, became so viral that it garnered 20 million views in a day.
The information regarding the situation endlessly circulating and the multiple people who posted pictures of themselves upon finding gold also played a part in stirring the ambitions of the locals.
Those days were fully
marked by the themes of motivation and luck.
But they were not bound to last.
The more people gathered at the river, the less fortunate each of them would be.
After a month, all eyes were on the people at the riverside.
There were still some people sharing the joy of finding gold on social networks and on video-sharing websites, but a part of them had stopped posting. Some had even completely vanished from the web.
Behind their screens,
everyone freely started making speculations.
For those who were not involved in the competition to acquire gold, this was certainly no more than a fun to topic to detachedly talk about.
“Just go somewhere else. You’re bothering me. I didn’t find any gold.”
The media crews were beginning to have difficulties getting those who had lucky finds in front of the cameras. Anyone the reporters pointed their mics at ran away.
Anyone who got excited and accepted an interview upon a lucky find was promptly taken to a place with no cameras and found stripped of their luck a few hours later. If anyone didn’t like that, they just had to stay quiet―― That was becoming a tacit understanding at the riverside.
The fact was that the jealousy of the people at the riverside towards the luckiest among them was anything but light.
The tension was reaching its climax. People were no longer resistant towards the idea of letting their jealousy turn into violence.
Thus, people began to fight over what little gold they had. At first, the conflicts were quiet and restrained, but they gradually became more open.
It didn’t take long before conflicts arose all over the riverbed. Everyone had their reasons. Some quarreled over fishing spots, others fought over their shares of the gains.
But the truth was that any pretext was good to start a fight.
In worst cases, people even fought over petty reasons the likes of “I saw that fish first!” or even “My ancestors fought for this land, so the fish you caught is obviously mine.”
At first, the quarrels didn’t go beyond yelling and grabbing shirts, but very soon, someone hit another with a shovel, and it did not take long for guns to enter the picture after that.
The world’s news outlets almost seemed excited to tell the public about the apparition of this lawless tropical area.
Every fired bullet carried a madness that stunk of money and envy. Decades-long conflicts between neighboring tribes resurfaced, and there was no end to the harm done by thoughtless foreigners to the locals’ lives ―― This phenomenon carried on from the riverbed to the bars and the streets.
The putrid smell of
abandoned corpses was carried around by the wind, attracting carnivorous
animals that used to stay away from populated areas.
The beasts appeared in the dark of the night, seeking for tainted meat.
No longer on guard against humans, they quickly started openly attacking people. Those who went to the river defenseless fell victim to the crocodiles’ death rolls one by one.
Officials of Osun, Lagos
and Nigeria told people several times that they should watch themselves around
the Osun river, but their warnings came too late.
The army did intervene in some sectors to maintain order.
But in a situation where small-scale conflicts and individual fights were occurring irregularly and all over the place, the military forces were, in a word, useless.
That was not to say that
they did nothing useful in the sectors they were dispatched to. As they were
trained to face organized crime, the army fared very well against gangs and
groups of thieves. After their intervention, there was a sharp decrease in members
among criminal organizations.
In that sense, they did a good job maintaining the public peace.
However, that also caused a lot of problems. When gangs and the army faced one another, unrelated civilians naturally got dragged into it. They died from stray bullets without ever knowing who had fired at them.
However, compared to the conflict taking place in the northeastern part of the country, all of the gruesome scenes around the Osun river did not seem so serious.
After all, the armed groups
in the northeast were attacking and plundering villages, kidnapping women, and
killing everyone who didn’t follow their views. The Nigerian army and the UN’s
peacekeeping forces were actively battling them with bullets, shells and
Understandably, the strifes between small thugs and fishermen, or treasure hunters and crocodiles seemed quite peaceful in comparison.
Even the army’s gunfights against gangsters were seen as no more than a bit of a mess.
Nevertheless, there were still many deaths in this gold rush. 149 people were murdered at the Osun river alone, 279 people went missing due to flash floods, 36 were attacked by crocodiles and other carnivorous animals, 104 people died from diseases caused by the accumulating corpses, 27 were shot to their deaths by the authorities, and 2 people committed suicide.
In total, 597 lives were lost in the span of two months.
Among the 149 homicide
victims, 17 of those were caused by locals to avenge a local young woman. She
was assaulted and killed by someone from a foreign nature conservation
organization that had come to protect the natural habitats around the Osun
Moreover, not counting the people who fell victim to flash floods, there were 201 other missing individuals.
As the closest big city to
Ijebu Igbo, Lagos was not left unscathed.
Anyone who had a bit of gold in their pockets or had money from selling gold, needed to be ready to be knocked down and mugged. Even those who had barely suppressed their desires ended up letting go of their principles after many a sleepless night in the humid rainy season.
The number of crimes in Lagos was 30% higher than two months prior, and the number of murders in a day had suddenly risen from 17 to 40. That was nearly half of the whole country’s homicides. While the murder victims only amounted to 2512 people, that number rose to 4411 when including missing people.
A popular article in the TIMES magazine titled “Ranking of the most dangerous non-warzone towns and cities” put Lagos in second place and Ijebu Igbo in 8th place, creating even more concerns in regards to the safety of the people who had gone there.
In light of the circumstances, the Japanese ministry of foreign affairs raised the danger level of Osun and Lagos from 2 to 3, and issued a recommendation not to travel to those areas.
In response to this, the Mibu firm’s Lagos branch informed its employees that they were to not come to the office anymore, that they should leave the city if possible, and that their expenses would be paid for if they wished to return to their own countries, before closing up shop.
◆◆◆◆◆ (Kageyama’s Pov)
While blood was flowing in
the southwest of Nigeria, some people were having it easy.
For example, take Jagoda and his relatives, who run a general store in Ijebu Igbo.
When the gold rush began, Jagoda collaborated with me to import large amounts of insect spray and mosquito repellents from Japan, and resell them.
These products from Japan became indispensable for the people gathering gold in tropical waters, so Jagoda’s family was able to build a fortune without having to deal with anyone’s grudge or resentment.
“I heard that what works best in the US during gold rushes are jean shops and shops that sell pickaxes, so I tried my hand at it a bit, too.”
With this unexpected show of business skills, Jagoda became a hero among his relatives.