The classroom block for senior secondary school students was a four storey building shaped as a rectangle. The sound of teachers droning on in the classrooms could be heard as we ran through the only entrance to the building. There was a small courtyard in the middle of the building and the harsh glare of the sun beat down on the flowery plants that had been planted around the edges of the rectangular shaped court yard.
I ran impatiently up the stairs to the third floor where SS3 students have classes. Craig’s classroom was the last at the end of the corridor. An Economics class was going on but I didn’t stop to knock and ask permission to enter the class. I barged into the classroom and up to Craig’s desk. His eyes widened when I grabbed his arm and began to pull him out of his chair.
“Mimi, what is going on here?!” The Economics teacher yelled, “How dare you barge into my class without permission? Are you out of your mind?” I ignored the teacher and frowned at Craig who was refusing to be pulled out of his chair.
“We have to go, Craig.” I pleaded with him. His eyebrows drew together as he stared at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t blame him. After all, this was the first time I was speaking to him in all of the six years we’d been in this school.
“What’s going on?” He asked. He looked behind me towards the door at Frank, Wole and Sara who were breathing just as hard and looking just as scared as me.
“We have to leave now. The school is under attack.”
“What do you mean under attack? I’ve not seen or heard anything.” He looked out the window but the view from the windows of this classroom did not show the admin block and the gate. In fact, it showed nothing but the side of the junior classroom block.
“If what you’re saying is true, we don’t have to run, we have security guards and teachers. They’ll take care of us.” He said, still convinced I wasn’t crazy.
“The things I saw, no teacher or security guard would be able to save us. You’re wasting time! We have to start running!”
“If it’s that bad, the police should be here soon.” He spoke calmly as if trying to soothe a child. I suspect the only reason he was still talking calmly to me was because he recognised me as an SS3 student even if we’d never exchanged a word.
“What if the police can’t handle it? Do you want to die here while waiting for the police? Get your butt out of this class or so help me God, I’ll carry you over my shoulder.” His eyes widened and he nodded his head like he’d made a decision. He grabbed his school bag hanging on the back of his chair, apologised to the teacher and began to walk out of the classroom. But the economics teacher wasn’t through with us. He blocked the doorway, refusing to let us pass.
“You’re not going anywhere. Two of you go and kneel down in front of the class. Oya!” He pointed his long ruler towards the spot he wanted us to kneel. I sighed. I so did not have time for this. Normally I’d sweet talk my way out of trouble, but not right now.
“One of the security guards got eaten by two men. They ate his arm and face like it was cotton candy. Then the security guard got up and ate our Physics teacher. He ate the Physics teacher like isiewu soup. Only God knows who our Physics teacher is eating now.” I turned back to look at Craig’s classmates, “If you don’t want to be someone’s lunch, I suggest you all start running for your lives.”
The students began murmuring. The Economics teacher stood baffled, not sure what to make of what I’d just said. I was a notorious trouble maker so I could just be pulling his legs. Or the dead seriousness in my eyes could mean I was telling the truth. As I watched the thoughts flit through his face, I used the chance to walk past the teacher and out the door with Craig following behind.
“That was a good joke.” He said.
“I wasn’t joking.”
I held his hand. He frowned. I still held his hand. He didn’t pull away. I don’t know why.
Any minute now, I was sure chaos would spread through the school and I did not want to lose him in the confusion. I don’t think he quite believed what I said but he must have seen something on my face that convinced him I wasn’t lying. Or he probably just felt I was too crazy to be left on my own and was hoping to take me to the school nurse. He was ever the Good Samaritan, a boy scout to the heart.
Wow. I finally made a move after six years of watching him from afar, and it had only taken the invasion of our school by flesh eating monsters to get me to talk to him and not only that, but to hold his hands too. Come on, give the girl a round of applause.
A shrill scream split the air and the five of us stood frozen on the stairs that led down to the second floor. We were too late.
“What was that?” Craig asked, his voice shaky.
No one answered him. We didn’t have time to. Noise was already making its way round the school. We hurried down the stairs and found that everyone on the second floor was leaving their classrooms. In the building, there were only two stairs; each at one end of the rectangular building. It was only one of those stairs that led outside and it was crowded with bodies. We were not on that stairs.
We stared in dismay at the other end of the building. There were just too many people and we couldn’t push our way through in time. The classrooms of the third floor began to clear and the students rushed down to the second floor, some of them asking questions as to what was going on.
As Craig and I began to follow them and push our way through the crowd to the other staircase, Frank dragged us back by our sleeves.
“It’s too dangerous to be in this kind of crowd. Stay in one place or we’ll separate.” He warned. His dark eyes roamed over the bodies, his mind clearly plotting our next option. It was rare to find Frank in such a serious mode and it almost made me laugh despite the situation.
Another person screamed and the panic level reached a new high. From the other stairs, a spray of blood flew up into the air and landed on the white walls. There was a struggle and more blood sprayed into the air. Those on that staircase began to climb back up, trying to run away from whatever was killing them but there were too many people and no place to run to.
Pain filled screams rattled the very air. People began to run but there was no place to run to. People with torn limbs or eaten guts or chewed throats climbed up the other staircase from the ground floor. The injuries on their bodies were enough for them to be dead, yet they still moved. They flung themselves into the crowd; their fingers digging into eyeballs and teeth tearing into skin. In less than a minute the white walls were blood stained, as if someone had poured a bucket of red paint on them.
As students tried to run, some fell down and got trampled on. Some fell off the guardrails lining the upper floors, down to the courtyard below. There were bodies everywhere and they were being stepped on indiscriminately as others tried to find safety.
My heart leaped to my throat and I began to feel like I couldn’t breathe. It was too much. I saw people get torn to pieces and I stood frozen and stared wide eyed, my legs shaking. We were going to die! We were all going to die!
“Climb back up the stairs! Go! Go!” Frank yelled for us. Wole and Sara followed Frank’s lead up the stairs. I stood frozen, my mind still whirling with the fact that any minute from now I could be torn from limb to limb.
It was the slight trembling in Craig’s hand that pulled me out of my panic. When I looked at him, I felt my heart harden with determination. Craig was too good looking to be someone’s lunch. The defined curves of his face, his high cheekbone, his elegantly pointed nose and the full curves of his lashes…I knew them all by memory. When he smiled a dimple appeared on his left cheek and the thin scar on his upper lips did not detract from his beauty. I’d spent the last six years watching him. I couldn’t let anything happen to him. I’d do anything to wipe off that look of abject horror and hopelessness from his face.
He has been the reason for my existence. He’s been my light at the end of the tunnel. Even while in darkness I was not scared, because when I looked forward, he was the light and my salvation.
….To be continued….
Written by Ngozi Nmadu