Two men were at the school gate. Their arms poked through the gate’s iron rails and their fingers were bloodied. One of the men held the ripped off arm of the security guard who lay still on the ground. There was a large pool of ripe red blood where the guard lay. The man with the arm tore off a chunk of flesh from it with his teeth. The other man bent and grabbed the leg of the security guard through the railing; he drew the body closer until he could bite into the face of the security guard.
Our Physics teacher in his dusty brown suit came running out of the admin block. He ran straight to the gate and shouted for the men to leave or he’d call the police. The two men didn’t look afraid at his threats. In fact, they didn’t look anything but hungry. They stopped munching on the security guard and turned to stare at the Physics teacher. They looked at him like he was food. The thought sent another dose of shock spiralling through my mind.
When they stopped chewing on the body parts of the security guard, our Physics teacher used the opportunity to drag the body some feet back from the gate. Three more people joined the two men at the gate. One was a woman with a baby tied in a wrapper on her back. The baby wailed loud and pitifully but the mother didn’t seem to notice. Her eyes were strange like the other men. Her pupils had expanded to cover the whites of her eyes. There was nothing in the eye socket but a deep and unending blackness. The other new comers were the two men who sold snacks in the shop down the street from the school.
The five crazy people grabbed the railings of the gate and rattled the gate, like they were going to rip open the school gate. The sound of the crying baby got louder in volume. The ear splitting shrieks of the child finally attracted the mother’s attention…I wasn’t sure that was a good thing.
The woman reached over her shoulder, grabbed the baby by the head and pulled. With one hand, she held the baby up high above her head and stared at the child in seeming curiosity. Something flashed across her face that made me begin to shake to the sole of my feet. She’d recognised the child as food. She widened her mouth and brought the crying baby down to her mouth. Her teeth sank into the child’s face. Eye balls popped, blood and other thicker things splashed over her and those around her.
The spilled blood seemed to set the rest of them in a frenzy. At once their bodies seemed to squeeze tight and then they exploded forward to grab the child, falling over themselves in the process. One of the men that sold snacks at the shop grabbed the dead baby and sank teeth into its bowels. They all struggled after the meat that was left of the child.
Finally, that seemed to shove me out of the shock I’d sunk into. I looked away and threw up on the pretty yellow flowers that were planted to beautify the admin block. I heaved until there was nothing left in my stomach. I wasn’t the only one who’d lost their lunch.
Mrs Ibe and Frank had similar puddles around their feet. The sickly sweet smell of vomit nauseated me even more. Sara had fainted on the staircase that led up to the Principal’s office. Wole just stood open mouthed, staring at the gate in horror. The sharp stink of urine wafted off him and I noticed the yellow liquid that dripped from his dark stained trousers onto the floor.
I glance back at the gate and something drew my eyes to the Physics teacher. He was squatted beside the dead body of the security guard. He was screaming at the crazy people at the gate, tears streaming down his face as he did so. Something moved at the periphery of my vision and my eyes snapped back to the body on the ground. It began to shake…no, more like jerk, as if it was convulsing. It was the head that moved first. The sight of that half chewed up face made me almost vomit again, but there was nothing left in my stomach anymore. The rest of its body followed suit until it was standing on its feet, one arm already ripped from its socket. Our Physics teacher was still sobbing on the ground and hadn’t noticed the recent development even though Mrs Ibe had been shouting for him to run. But he hadn’t heard her above his own cursing and ranting at the creatures at the school gate.
It all felt like a dream, movement felt slow as if wading through water. I opened my mouth to scream for our Physics teacher but by the time the warning left my mouth, it was too late.
From behind, the thing that had once been the security guard grabbed the head of the Physics teacher with his hand. Our Physics teacher was a bulky man with broad shoulders and enough muscle to spare. The security guard was a scrawny little man and I bet I could kick his ass on a normal day. But as I watched the Physics teacher struggle to get his head out if its grip, I knew that whatever had risen was not the security guard.
Run! Run! Run! My mind screamed at me. Run!
I grabbed Frank’s hand and pulled him. When he saw my face, he knew what I had to say without my saying a word. Run.
We started running back towards the classroom block, Wole and Mrs Ibe following close behind. But then I stopped running forward when I remembered Sara lying faint on the ground. Yeah, Sara was a bitch but no one deserved to be eaten alive. I ran back for her even when my better sense told me to leave her there and save myself first.
“Mimi, don’t go back there!” Frank yelled for me, but I ignored him and ran on till I got back to Sara in the admin block.
“Wake up!” I yelled over and over again until she groggily opened her eyes and frowned up at me. “Get up and run!” I said without preamble. When I turned back to look at the gate, I saw that more of those creatures had piled up against the school gate, rattling the school gate as if demanding to be let in. The gate wouldn’t stand much for long. The weight of so many people pushing against it would destroy the gate.
The thing that had been our security guard now had his head buried into the guts of our Physics teacher, tearing at the skin and lapping at the blood. It drew out a long, greyish-white, bloodied rope from our still squirming Physics teacher and I realised that was his intestine. I will never eat pepper soup with goat intestine again.
Sara needed no further prompting. She got up immediately. I hadn’t realised Frank had come back with me until he grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the admin block. We started running towards the classroom block, and finally caught up to Mrs Ibe and Wole who probably hadn’t noticed our absence. Mrs Ibe was huffing and puffing and had her heeled shoes in her hand as she ran.
Where were we running to? Was the classroom block any safer than the gate and admin block? Was it safe to be around so many people? Whatever this thing was, it seemed to be infectious.
I was thinking! Good, if I was thinking, it was a good sign. If I could think, I would survive. That was what my brother always told me. I couldn’t afford to be paralysed by panic.
I stopped in my tracks when that name entered my mind. Craig! I had to get him out of his class. I had to keep him safe. Someone grabbed my arm and I looked up into Frank’s worried eyes.
“What did you just think of?” He asked.
“It’s Craig. I-I have to get him out of class! We have to leave this school.” I stuttered.
Frank’s face clouded over. “Do you have a plan as to how we’re leaving the school? The classroom block can’t be safe forever. In fact it’s the worst place to be in this situation. You’ve watched the movies haven’t you? It’s like those things are zombies. Let’s just go to the back of the school, there’s an opening that can take us out of there. Let’s leave now before things get worse.”
“I can’t leave Craig behind. Just go ahead, Frank.” I told him and began to sprint forward. Frank ran up beside me and I looked at him in query.
“I can’t leave you behind now, can I?” He asked with a sad smile.
I put in a burst of speed until I finally got to the classroom block.
I had to get to Craig.
….To be continued….
Written by Ngozi Nmadu