“Mimi!” Frank called for me. Frank’s voice pulled me together and kicked my thought process into gear. If we stayed any longer on that second floor, we were dead meat. Literally.
I pulled the dazed Craig up the staircase and after Frank and the others until we got to the fourth floor. Most of the classrooms on this floor were empty or were used as laboratories. Frank opened one of the doors and it was only when we got inside that I realised it was the chemistry lab. We shut the door behind us and pushed the teacher’s desk against it. Sara pulled close the window shutters. It was a good thing that the chemistry lab had a burglary proof; those things wouldn’t be able to get in.
Once we’d secured the chemistry lab, I sank to the ground, my back leaning against the back wall of the laboratory. My heart beat had sped up and as I slowly breathed, I concentrated on the slowing down of my heart beat. I concentrated on it over the sound of people screaming and gargling. I concentrated on the sound of my heart beat over the sound of bones snapping and panicked footsteps running.
I don’t know how long I stayed like that, but it felt like a really long time.
The sound of someone quietly sobbing drew my head up. I looked up to find Sara seating on one of the lab stools. Her head lay on one of the white long tables that were usually shared by three students for classes. Her shoulders shook violently as she cried.
“Sara…” I called, though I wasn’t sure why.
She raised her head up and looked back to where I sat on the floor. Her eyes were red and snort was coming out of her nose.
“They’re dying out there…” she said, her voice shaky. “We might die any moment from now…I don’t want to die.”
Craig got from one of the lab stools and went to her. He put his arms around her shoulder in comfort and squeezed tight. “It’s ok. We’re all going to be fine. The government’s going to take care of this problem. They’ll send in the army.”
Frank barked out a harsh laughter that made Craig frown. “Why are you deceiving yourself? We’re not going to be fine and that’s the absolute truth. It would take a miracle for us to survive the night. And about the army? Don’t put your hope on them. They’re made of flesh and bones just like we are. If one of them should get eaten by those flesh eaters, he’d turned into them and the rest of the army will follow.”
“Still, there’s always hope. As far as we’re still alive, there’s always hope.” Craig said. His face was set with determination and absolute belief in his words.
“I pity you.” Frank said and shook his head. He came to sit beside me on the ground. He was still wearing his brown leather jacket and I frowned. Wasn’t he stuffy wearing it? I was about question him about it when Sara said almost fervently,
“I don’t want to die!”
“Well neither do we!” I snapped. Yeah, she was scared, but so was I. Being scared didn’t answer the question of how I was going to stay alive. A heavy sigh escaped my lips. “What’s the plan? How are we going to leave this school? We can’t stay here forever.” I said.
“Remember what I said about the small opening at the back of the school? I used to sneak out of school through there. The only problem now is how to get there. The only way out of this building is filled up with flesh eaters.”
A movement caught my attention and my heart rate slowed down when I realised it was only Wole. He’d been quite all this while, huddled by himself near the door. I suspected he was keeping his distance from us because of the sharp smell of urine that wafted off him.
“W-We can still leave this building through the ground floor. There’s a classroom there without any burglary proof. We can jump through the window and the good thing is that the classroom faces the back of the school.”
We all sat in silence and thought about Wole’s suggestion. He fidgeted as he waited for us to say something.
“It’s a good idea but we won’t survive the trip to the ground floor. Those things will be plenty there and besides there will be a crowd to push our way through.” I said.
“They’re probably all dead by now.” Frank said quietly. It was then I noticed that the noise level had reduced. An uneasy quiet had spread through the school. It hadn’t been up to thirty minutes since we entered the chemistry lab. How possible could it be that such a large number of students were dead within a few minutes? I shivered at the thought of all those students dead.
“Let’s go.” Frank said as he got up to his feet.
“If we’re to have any hope of making it to the ground floor alive, we need weapons.” I stated. I noticed Craig’s eyes widened in shock but I shrugged. I was just joking…partly. When his eyes still wouldn’t relax to their normal size, I said defensively, “Don’t you watch horror movies? You can’t survive without a weapon. Our faces will get eaten if we don’t defend ourselves. I like my face a lot.”
I looked around the chemistry lab and didn’t find anything I could use to defend myself, except I wanted to pour some chemicals on the flesh eaters and hope they melt.
We moved aside the desk barricading the door to the chemistry lab. I opened the door a little and peeked through. The walls and floors of the fourth floor were not as drenched in blood as I’d expected. A few lumps of flesh hung from the ceiling and clung to the white walls of the veranda. Not many people had climbed back up to this floor. I looked the other way down the veranda and found a flesh eater some feet away. My back chilled in cold sweat when I realised that the flesh eater was Mrs Ibe.
Her shaved head was buried in the throat of a girl. Bright crimson blood gushed out in force. The girl’s eyes rolled towards me and she raised her hands towards me.
I couldn’t be sure, but somehow, it felt like she was asking me to save her. But there was nothing I could do to stop what was happening to her.
Mrs Ibe and her victim were the only moving things in the veranda. There were a few bodies littered about the veranda. God, I was thinking like a cop on a TV show, calling dead people ‘bodies’. But I had to. I couldn’t let myself think that these bits of flesh had once been human. I didn’t want to have to put a name to the boy whose throat had been sliced open when he fell on the broken window pane. I didn’t want to know that the girl some feet away from me whose head had been gnawed off was Funke, my class prefect. I didn’t want to know. They had to be just ‘bodies’.
I shook my head to clear up such unnecessary thoughts. All I had in me at the moment was to focus on surviving. I could cry later. I opened the door slowly, not wanting to attract the attention of Mrs Ibe the Zombie. We quietly filed out the chemistry lab, going in the opposite direction from Mrs Ibe and the now dead girl, but Wole in his haste to get out of the lab, banged the door shut.The sound seemed to echo for an eternity.
The four of us stood absolutely still. The sound of blood splattering and flesh tearing stopped. I turned my neck slowly and found Mrs Ibe staring at us with dark pools for eyes. She dropped the remains of the poor girl and started walking towards us, slowly at first but then she put in a burst of speed, propelling her body forward.
We began running down the hallway, turned a corner and kept going . All the while I kept hoping she wouldn’t catch up to us. Even though I could hear the faint growling sound that Mrs Ibe was making, I didn’t look back to see how close she was to us. I kept my eyes ahead of me. There was no point in looking back, if she caught up to me she would eat me and if I looked back it would slow me down or I’d trip on one of the littered bodies on the floor.
As soon as I had that thought, I heard the sound of someone thudding to the floor. I glanced back to see Wole sprawled face down on the ground. He’d tripped on what seemed to be the chewed up remains of someone’s leg.
His face had landed in a pool of blood and things thicker than blood. He got to his knees and wiped the blood off his eyes but when he stared at his hands, he screamed at the sight of the blood. I didn’t understand it. There was blood everywhere and suddenly when there was blood on him, he was shrieking like a little girl?
Mrs Ibe was gaining fast on him. Wole was a foolish puppy, but I like him and have always felt responsible for him. I couldn’t let him die. I ran back toward Wole.
“Don’t go back!” I heard Frank call, but I ignored him. I dragged the still shrieking Wole to his feet. Just as I was about to start running again, something hard slammed against my back, sending me to the ground.
The snarling in my ears let me know Mrs Ibe had found food.
And food was me.
….To be continued….
Written by Ngozi Nmadu