Checkpoint (3)

Checkpoint (3)

9

Stage four.

Fear.

Reginald’s breath began coming in short gasps. The air stank of sweat and blood and urine and shit. He heard people wailing, shouting questions as they came forward, heard people crashing backwards, trying to get away from, to escape the horror before their eyes. But there was no way to do that. It was already in their minds.

As for Reginald, he couldn’t run; his legs felt too weak for that. He wasn’t sure he could manage four steps in any direction. His mind went blank, like a slate wiped clean. Then, a thought.

What happened?

Another.

Who did this?

And another one, one that made his mind cringe.

What did this?

He looked at his hand. Her blood was already drying. He used his handkerchief to wipe it off, and then attacked his face furiously, scrubbing away, trying to get the blood off. If he could, he could’ve removed the top layer of his face.

Christ help us.

He turned, trying to look behind him, and froze. Turned his neck slowly, his neck creaking, muscles strung up and wound tightly like springs. He looked up at the tree again.

It was empty.

No hanging lady.

Nothing.

No, he thought, wrong tree.

He turned a full circle.

Nothing.

He heard a small thrashing. He snapped his head around at the sound.

There.

Again. The bushes. They were shaking.

Another one thrashed to his left.

A growl, low and guttural.

A snarl.

“RUN!!!” he shouted.

Reginald stumbled out of the forest.

10

“Femi! FEMI!” Reginald shouted as he made for the bus. Femi looked up, alarm in his eyes.

“START THE BUS! EVERYBODY GET INSIDE NOW!” People turned, bleary-eyed, to look at the screaming maniac. Around him, those who had been in the bush were beating a hasty retreat too, gesturing with their hands, some shouting. Reginald turned and looked; the thrashing was closer now. Soon, whatever was in there would come crashing through-

He couldn’t finish the thought.

“EVERYBODY GET INSIDE THE BUS NOW! FEMI, START IT! NOW!!” The panic seemed to get the other passengers, and they must’ve seen the thrashing too, because they began to get up hurriedly, scrambling, shrieking, tripping, getting up, falling on top of each other. A guy looked back.

He screamed.

Others looked back.

They screamed.

Reginald didn’t look back. He just threw himself on the ground, ignoring the cuts and scratches from the grasses and shrubs. He closed his eyes, just screwed them shut, whimpering. He was lucky, and he was quick. Something big, something powerfully fast and strong flew directly over him, passing through the space he’d been standing in a second and a half ago; the slipstream washed over him, flattening the grass and ruffling his clothes. He heard sounds; growls and snarls, as if a hundred lions were battling over a kill.

He smelled the smoke.

And then, the real screaming began.

Reginald stiffened; something, some things, were attacking them. Gurgling screams rose in the air, as if someone, some people, were trying to scream with a mouthful of liquid. He smelled burning flesh, he heard ripping and tearing sounds, something warm and wet sprayed on him, something thumped the ground beside him. Reginald opened his eyes, risked a look at the thing that had landed beside him.

It looked like a hand.

It was a hand.

A severed hand.

No, no, a torn hand. Broken and just torn off; he could see the jagged edges of the bone, could see the muscles, the arteries, veins, still pumping blood.

“Oh God,” Reginald breathed.

Reginald looked up, just managed to get his head up…

…and found himself staring into a pair of black soulless eyes, in a smooth, hairless, hideously man-like face, a face the colour of light chocolate. Blood dripped from its thin, almost non-existent black lips, pieces of pink flesh hung from its long, jagged extremely sharp teeth. As he watched, the hand of the creature’s victim, which was in its paws, came ablaze as if from the inside out. Like the fire had somehow wormed its way out from the inside. As Reginald watched, a black thick strip of muscle that was its tongue snaked out from within its maw, and licked the blood from its chin; it swallowed the flesh.

It seemed to be grinning.

Reginald pushed off from the ground and dashed to the right, trying to get to the main road, and from there to the other side of the forest. Anywhere but here was fine by him. The creature turned, took a chunk of its victim’s neck, leaving the head connected to the body by nothing more than little skin and some muscle. The head flopped, boneless, to the right, and the body followed.

The creature went after Reginald.

Reginald ran, turned around and glanced behind him.

The creature pounced.

Reginald stumbled.

Someone had the bad luck to run in between them, running for his life, trying to get to the bushes to hide.

The creature slammed into him.

Her.

Whoever.

Reginald heard the surprised and agonized scream as he scrambled to his feet and dashed across the road, disappearing into the forest with the few scraggly survivors.

11

Reginald tore through the bushes, jumping over bushes and shrubs and just crashing through anything he couldn’t jump, hands shielding his face from the unforgiving whips and scratches of the branches. Jesus he felt like screaming his head off; only the sheer strength of the terror coursing through him kept him from doing so. That and the adrenaline. He felt the bag bumping against his hip distantly, and wondered how it had even stayed on. All around him, he could hear the trashing of others and their fear-filled voices as they urged themselves forward, heard some cry out as they stumbled. Someone stumbled across his path and he reflexively jumped over the person without even looking. Some people were even trying to find out what was going on as they ran, asking

What was that?

Una see-

God, wetin dey happen?

What just happened?

Wait for me!

questions; questions that for now, had no answers. No time. Now was the time to haul ass and try to survive. The only thing on Reginald’s agenda was to put as much distance as he could between him and the horror behind him. Everything after that could sort itself out later.

Eventually they all came to some sort of clearing; the plants didn’t grow so much together  here and Reginald, eventually tired of running, collapsed on a tree, sliding down until he was on the ground, legs splayed out in front of him, panting. For now he could see nothing but dancing dots, plenty of them. Different colours too.

After managing to get his breath under control and blinking to clear his vision, he looked around him and saw the people with him. He eyeballed them, took count. Six. Four guys and two ladies. His heart cried out. Out of the twelve people in the bus, almost half of them were dead. He saw Femi, the bus driver, doubled over, hands on knees, panting. Somehow, this made him glad.

“Hey,” he called. “Femi.” The driver looked up, smiled at him ruefully. A smile. Not happy, not good enough, more like a smile of acknowledgement, Hey, I see you. But just fine. Like a tonic. Reginald beckoned him over. With visible effort, Femi stood upright, grimacing, and shuffled down to where Reginald was and plunked his ass down beside him. Leaned his head back against the tree trunk and just closed his eyes. Silence. Nothing but the nervous whimpers of the ladies, a few sniffles and shuffles. Someone coughed. One of the ladies broke into a quiet sob. The other lady tried to console her, and ended up crying herself. Everything was done hush-hush. Everyone understood the need for quietness.

“What happened back there?” Femi asked, eyes still closed. “What were those things? Those…things, what were they?”

“Are you asking me?”

Silence. Then, “I wish I knew,” Reginald said.

“What…” Femi stopped, unable to continue. The others began to draw closer, as if Reginald and Femi were the only heating source in a cold environment.

“So…what do we do now?” Femi asked.

A guy shuffled closer. He wore blue jeans, a red T-shirt with Ché’s face imprinted on it, a gold necklace, and he sported an Afro.

“Let’s get back to the bus,” Afroguy said.

Femi opened his eyes. “The bus?” he asked, incredulous.

“Yes.”

“And do what?”

“Zoom off.”

“To where?”

“Out of this place,” Afroguy said. “Back to Port Harcourt.”

“And how do we get out of here?” Reginald asked.

Afroguy looked at the other people. His expression said this was the most stupid question he had heard all week. He turned back to Femi and Reginald and said, “By driving of course.”

Reginald exhaled. “I don’t think that is such a good idea,” he said.

“Why?” Afroguy asked.

“Didn’t you see those things?” Reginald asked, pointing towards the road, his shock that someone was even suggesting they move out of this little sanctuary they had found evident on his face.

“Yes, I did. You think I’m going to wait for them to come and get me? Uhn uhn. No way.”

Femi looked up at him like he was the world’s biggest fool. “Well I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to trek out here then.”

Afroguy’s expression clouded over, first in confusion, and then in anger, as one of the guy’s asked, “What do you mean?”

“It means,” Reginald said, “that he’s not going to give you the key.”

Stunned silence. Then they all erupted in a barrage of questions:

Why?

Wetin be dis?

What does he mean by-

Can you imagine that?

What’s going on here?

Is he crazy?

Are you stupid?

Why-

“WAIT!” Afroguy bellowed. Everyone else shut up, just like that. He turned to Femi and squatted. “What exactly do you mean?”

“I mean I’m not going to give you the key.”

“Why?”

“Are you blind? Did you not see those…those THINGS that attacked us? You want to go back there?”

If Afroguy had stopped to reconsider, if he had just paused for a moment to think about it, for surely he was capable of that, if the others had not supported him, if they had all stopped to think about it like Femi and Reginald, if they…

If.

Only if.

But Afroguy couldn’t stop. No.

He was on a roll now.

“I guess we’ll take our chances.”

“Speak for yourself, boy,” Reginald said.

Afroguy’s eyes flashed angrily. “DON’T YOU EVER CALL ME BOY!” stabbing the air with his right index finger, pointing at Reginald. “AND YOU!” Now pointing at Femi, who couldn’t help but flinch. “KEYS! NOW!”

There was a moment of silence. Then, a female voice spoke, softly, like she was afraid. “Give him the key.”

That was all it took. A female voice.

Everybody else began to mumble at first, then the mumble grew to the sound an arguing mob would make, and it was all Femi and Reginald could do to keep from screaming their heads off.

Give us the key.

Where is the key.

Where the key dey?

Who hold the key?

Bring the key.

No.

No, no, no, no.

Afroguy punched Femi on the nose, breaking it. Reginald was on his feet in an instant. Afroguy lashed out with his foot, catching Reginald on his chin. As his head snapped back, as he fell back down, they fell on the both of them, all except a guy who watched, helpless, looking like he wanted to run away but had no place to run to, which, ironically, was the case. Reginald and Femi were punched, kicked, slapped, punched some more. They both covered their faces with their hands, curling up as well as they could, screaming, begging.

The beatings stopped when the guy who didn’t join in the beating started shouting, asking whether they wanted to kill them, they should stop, they were supposed to be working together. He pulled the ladies from the scrapping and attempted to stop the guys.

Reginald sat up. His thigh throbbed, hell, his whole body was on fire. A thought popped into his head; If a punching bag had feelings, this is how it would feel. He was bruised, and he touched his ribs, afraid they were broken. Caught some luck there; no break. Blood ran from a cut on his hand, his arms were starting to swell, his face was a bit bruised; nothing serious but a cut or two, he thought. As he took inventory, he looked sideways at Femi.

He didn’t look so okay. They’d really worked him over pretty good. Every part of him was covered in bruises, cuts, swellings. His left eye was almost swollen shut.

Afroguy was twirling the key, smiling.

“Don’t do this,” Reginald begged. “Don’t go there… Please.”

“But we have to. And because of this you two are not coming with us, so don’t bother getting up…if you can, that is.”

“Fuck you,” Reginald spat.

Afroguy laughed. “Same to you bro.” Turning to the others, he said, “Let’s move.” He left without looking back, and the others followed, save one. He was the only one who had not taken part in the beating, and he lingered for a moment, face like he wanted to cry or take a shit or do both at the same time. In the end all he could do was to blurt out “Sorry” and run after the others.

Reginald and Femi listened until they could hear them no more, and then turned to each other. Femi looked…lost. His eyes showed defeat and hope struggling with each other.

“Don’t worry. They are not going anywhere.”

Femi scoffed and struggled to his feet.

As Reginald stood up, dusting himself, they both heard the sound of the bus. Femi looked at Reginald, eyes wide, his fright screaming from his face. He might have been thinking, These people are going to make it, they just might make it out of this place, and we’ll be stuck here forever, until those creatures get us.

Reginald shook his head slowly. He didn’t know how he was so sure, but he wanted to reassure Femi. “I said don’t wo-”.

The screaming began.



36 thoughts on “Checkpoint (3)” by Raymond (@raymond)

  1. There is no doubt, you are a brilliant writer. However, I perceive a little conflict in your attempt to illustrate the ‘Naijaness’ of this piece. I’m really enjoying this, keep em coming.

    1. @scopeman..Thanks bro…Well, that conflict exists in whatever we do, U know. We all live in a world of ‘What if?’. In a society that’s more used to drama, romance, political unrest,and some spirituaity of a different sort, attempting this, and all of my other works, has been some crazy journey for me.
      Thanks. I’m glad U like it.
      The next is already uploaded.

  2. now, this is getting more and more intense..ray, you are so good at this,its really nice..good job! (waiting for the next part)

    1. @posh…Thanks a lot. The next part is already uploaded. U’ll soon get to read it.

  3. I think i’m falling in love with you, Raymond. Lol.
    Seriously though, you are one heck of a thriller/horror writer.

    1. @Lade…My heart…and pen are yours…Heehehe. I’m glad U like it.

  4. The pace was a little fast for me. Think it has to do with this genre not being one of my faves. But good work though. Enjoyed it.

    1. @Jaywriter…Thanks…So what’s Ur favourite genre? Maybe I can try something there…As for me, I LIVE for Horror and Thrillers, and a good Mystery story too…

      1. More into drama, dramedy, comedy, rom-coms basically. Maybe avant garde stuff from time to time.

        1. @Jaywriter…Wow…That’s a sure tall order for me, U know…I can weave these elements into my stories, yeah, but to make them the central themes…Hmm…I guess that’s one for me to try…Hehehe…

  5. Damn! Thumbs up Ray,i wonder where online i have been not to have noticed part 1,2.i will most surely go for the next instalment.
    i liked this so much:
    “Reginald stiffend: something,somethings,were attacking them.Gurgling screams rose in the air,as if someone,some people were trying to scream with a mouthful of liquid.”
    This is vivid,i could clearly see the horror.Then you tickled my lungs when you said:
    “…a guy who watched,helpless,looking like he wanted to run away but had no place to run to,which,ironically was the case”

    1. @writefight…Thanks a lot bro. Na God oh! I hope U’ve read the others. The next has already been uploaded. Glad U like my imagery. I try to use as less words as possible to paint a picture, because I believe in most cases that less is more…
      Besides, I write what I see.
      Thanks once again…

  6. I love you Raymond… You are so good.

    1. @wealth…Thank U oh!!! Hmm…I am now officially overghasted and flabberwhelmed by ALL Ur kind words…

  7. Yu re funny too!

    1. @wealth…Me? Funny? Hmmm…I’ve been standing in front of the mirror…I’m still yet to see any white powder, or a big red nose on my face…ok, I wear Size 10 shoes, but does that count? And they ain’t red either, so…*winking* Hehehe…

  8. this is even more sumptuous than the preceding part as a read, but as a story with a plot,bross you left much to be desired.
    first, a man want s the key to return to the bus so soon after the massacre?, the crowd becomes a mob so fast that they almost kill REGI so soon after the predators’ attack…the same REGI was still begging them not to go back to the forest after the beating??? well for me, i dont agree with that…nice story though

    1. @xikay…Thanks bro. In this story, I never wrote that Reginald tried to beg them not to go into the forest; it was just the first lady who got killed that he tried to tell to stay. And Reginald was telling them not to go there out of self-preservation. Together, he felt they had more of a chance of survival than alone. What I tried to do was to portray the acts of desperate people in desperate times. In situations like this (if they ever happen; I pray they don’t, hehehe) Confusion sets in, and anyone with the smallest semblance of a plan, becomes the leader. And if this ‘leader’ proposes something that can get them out of there, those who r not ‘with the program’ will be tossed aside…And woe betide them if they try to stop them…

  9. 2cute4u (@2cute4u)

    Oh My Gosh! I want more. This is brilliant..

    1. @2cute4u…Next part, coming right up, courtesy of NS…Glad U like it.

  10. i think i’m clearer on it now. still try to provide an ease-way to desperation next time…waiting earnestly for the nest part Sir.

    1. Ok bro…Next part is already uploaded…

  11. Raymond,

    You’ve kept up the very vivid and original descriptive language from the previous chapters – good stuff! I like the way you introduced the beasts that are stalking the passengers.

    What I didn’t like so much was the scene where Femi and Reginald are beaten. If all the other passengers wanted was the key, I don’t understand why they had to inflict so much violence – even if they were under stress. (In fact, I would have thought that they would want to get the keys as quickly as possible so that they could be out of there fast.) Also, I find it hard to believe that one man and two women would have beaten Femi and Reginald so easily without any fightback.

    1. @Tola…I don’t think U read what I wrote well. I said the survivors were 4 guys n 2 ladies. One guy stood aside. So, 3 guys n two ladies did the beating…Well, in my mind’s eye, the guys did most of the beating. As for why they would want to beat them for the key, have U read Lord of the Flies?

      1. OK, I thought that the 4 guys and 2 girls included Femi and Reginald.

        I’ve read Lord of the Flies, but the characters there were not confronted with the need to get away as quickly as possible from an impending danger.

  12. The other thing I had an issue with was the voice of Femi, the driver. He sounded a bit too ‘polished’ for an ordinary bus driver. I’m not saying that you can’t have well-educated drivers, but it isn’t the norm, and I’d expect the other characters in the story to remark about this.

  13. Tola…pointed noted.

    However i think it must be said that if you and i were running for our lives from things we do not understand…the least of our worries would be whether the bus driver spoke good grammar or not…right or…?

    I think..taking in cognizance the points all the other commentators have raised…

    This is indeed good.

    .

    1. @Tola…Actually, I’ve met Drivers speaking polished grammar…even Okada riders…back when they were around that is…But U’ve got a sharp eye. Thanks.
      @Seun…Thank U oh!!! U guys rock!!!

  14. Off to the next part!

    1. @Lawal…Hurry please!!!

  15. Wow. I’m just imagining if something like this had happened on one of my PH to Owerri trips. I must say, you have a gift for heightening the fear and suspense, and just making it hit the reader square in the gut!

    1. @Uche…Thank U very much. i gues U r very lucky it hasn’t happened to U. Don’t worry, just take my hand, and let us walk this treacherous road together…Welcome to my world…

  16. That pace, again! Good. All said (or unsaid), lets move on. The journey sha will get an end someday…

    1. Thanks Boss…

  17. Bad, bad boy….did you say the next part was out? Oya now, Im already a nervous wreck anyway, but you’ll pay, and that’s a promise!

    1. Hehehehe…..No wahala. easy oh!

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