Apocalypse: Chapter 8

Osas’ gun skidded away as the zombie collided into him and Ife. He held off the growling creature with his elbow, applying pressure to its windpipe but the zombie didn’t look fazed, couldn’t look fazed, with its chewed up face and discoloured irises. Ife tried to wriggle out from under him but the combined weight of the zombie and Osas kept her pinned down. Osas felt his strength waning as the zombie inched closer. Saliva dripped onto his face, trickling down his cheeks while the putrid stench of the zombie’s mouth wafted into his nostrils and almost made him gag.
He closed his eyes and tried; with all of the strength he could muster, to shove the zombie away, but the bloody, bloated creature was unwilling to budge. Just as his arms collapsed from the strain of holding off the zombie, a loud shot rang out, silencing all other sounds and the pressure abated. Osas shoved the zombie off him and got up quickly, retrieving his rifle.
Shalom rounded the corner with his rifle raised, concern written over his face. Bolu and Paul followed with the latter limping. Shalom said something to him but Osas couldn’t hear him, temporarily deafened by the gun shot so close to his ears.
“I can’t hear you.”    
Behind him, Ife began vomiting, irritated by the nasty smell of the zombies and the blood that pooled at their feet. Shalom walked past Osas to attend to her. She still clutched her handgun tightly; finger on the trigger, trembling dangerously. Shalom had to slowly ease it out of her hand.
On seeing the gun, Osas knew he had Ife to thank for his life. It was another close shave with death and he was starting to get tired of himself. He knew the others looked up to him to be a leader but he also knew that he wouldn’t last; alive or as a leader, if he couldn’t keep them safe, or better still keep himself safe. In his head, Shalom made the tough calls, Paul was simply badass, but he seemingly had nothing special to offer, more of a liability than an asset to the group. He shook the negative thoughts and went to meet Ife. He’d have time to brood later.
“Thank you.” He said
“Don’t thank me; I almost blew your head off.” She replied breathing heavily.
“You didn’t have a choice, I was even about to let go when you shot. If you didn’t shoot, I’d be infected by now or worse still, dead.” Osas replied, grateful his hearing was coming back.
“So what happened here?” Shalom asked impatiently, pointing to the two dead zombies with holes in their heads.
“What do you think?” Osas replied curtly.
“Calm down oga, I’m only wondering why Ife had to shoot a gun past your head, and then the three other shots we heard. You almost died chief.”
“I’m sorry, the zombie came out behind us. I had killed that other one before the second one came from behind us. They were trapped in the toilet.”
“I wonder what they were doing there.” Paul said with a mischievous grin on his face. Bolu playfully hit his shoulder.
Osas cringed.
“Are you okay?” Ife asked
“Yeah I-”
A sharp pain suddenly flared up in his arm. He winced and looked at it. Three red marks ran up his right arm. He had been scratched. Fear and pain coursed through him as the worst scenarios played out in his mind.
“On a second thought, I’m not.”
He raised his hand for them to see. Bolu gasped at the sight of the bleeding scratches on his arm. Behind him, Ife started sobbing, repeatedly saying ‘No!’
“Teeth?” Shalom asked solemnly.
“No, fingernails, I guess.” Ife replied for him, holding his arm and examining it closely.
“Is he infected?” Paul asked.
“I doubt it, but we’ll watch him just to be sure.” Shalom replied
“Guys, I’m right here. I’ll be fine, I hope,” Osas replied, checking his rifle and ignoring his throbbing arm “And if I’m not fine, please don’t shoot me. This is not a movie and I’d like to have a chance of being cured, thank you.”
With that he stormed past the group, more angry at himself for not being strong enough than their open deliberations on his welfare. He stopped at the front of the store but could still hear their mumbling at the back as they, unquestionably, contemplated what to do with him.
“Please, let me know what you decide and don’t shoot me unexpectedly.” He shouted, knowing they could hear him. He busied himself with rearranging the content of the large bags; trying to maximize the available spaces they had in a bid to fit them all into the car. Anything would do to clear his head of the thoughts of infection and death that plagued him. The group joined him at the front a few moments later, all looking solemn. Ife walked up to him and touched his shoulder tenderly before joining him to gather the bags.
“Where’s Aisha?” Bolu asked.
“We left her in the car.” Paul replied.
“Then why can’t we see her from here?” Osas inquired, pointing at the car through the large display windows.
“Maybe she’s lying down.” Paul offered.
Osas looked at Shalom, observed the hesitation on his face and then bolted out the door. He raised his rifle as he approached the car, expecting to be attacked. He looked through the window and was greeted by an empty backseat. He went round the back, Shalom beside him, and they were greeted with a sight that horrified them.
Two zombies were chewing on their friend. Her neck had been torn open by the creatures that busied themselves with her gut. The bandages round her belly had been torn away as the zombies ripped her open. Blood pooled beneath her; she was dead.
Shalom reacted in blind rage. He fired four shots into the head of the first zombie, leaving nothing but mush and bone in his wake before turning to the other one. He lashed out at it with a vicious kick to its jaw as it tried to get up. He emptied the remaining bullets in the clip into it, reloaded the gun and then emptied another clip. He was loading the third clip when Osas stopped him, placing his hand on the rifle and lowering it.
“She’s gone, don’t waste your bullets.” Osas said remorsefully.
Shalom turned around and stormed off, swearing loudly. Osas put the twitching zombie out of its misery with a bullet to the head, shaking his head ruefully at the lying corpse of their friend.
Ife came round first. She broke down quietly and walked slowly towards her friend, before being held back by Osas. Tears streamed down her face as she cried silently.
“I’m sorry, but she might still turn.” Osas said with his hand on the small of her back as he led her away.
Ife collapsed into his shoulders and cried as Bolu and Paul approached them. Paul punched the car in frustration, swearing under his breath. He retrieved a gun from the car and shot the girl’s corpse right through the forehead.
They continued their journey in silence. Shalom drove, heading down the road Paul ventured as leading to Lokoja at top speed. His grip on the steering wheel was deathly, his face doing little to mask the emotions that plagued him; fear, anger, pain and powerlessness. Paul sat beside him, resting two fully loaded rifles on his laps. He tried to make small talk with Shalom but the latter wasn’t in the mood for such.
Osas sat behind them, in between Ife and Bolu. His hand throbbed from where he was scratched and he wondered if he was going to turn. It would be all over then; his life as he knew it would end. He’d become a flesh eating creature of nightmares, content to snack on the remains of his victims. He’d have no control over himself, wouldn’t even be aware of himself and if he was lucky, he’d get a bullet to the head for his troubles. He noticed that Bolu and Ife were both armed with handguns. Instinctively, he knew that they were armed because of him. They had lost too many people and would do everything within their power not to lose more, including shooting him square through the head. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat; all the death and the blood and the stabbing and shooting were starting to weigh down on him.  He tried to banish the thoughts from him head, but the blood stains in the car didn’t help his resolve.
Ife suddenly held his hand and looked at him. The hurt in her eyes cut into his soul, reminding him once more of all the people they had lost; Chris, Ify, Aisha and the guy in the room in camp where he saw his first zombie, Ugo. Then there were the soldiers that had gone to confront the horde, the Corpers left in the barracks and the ones that were dead before he woke up. She gave him a small smile before looking over his wound again. Bolu examined the wound after Ife and then wiped the surface with tissue paper.
Osas leaned back on the chair, wondering how the infection spread so quickly. There had been news while they were in camp about a strange virus that had been reported in countries all over the world, but it had sounded like a minor disease, something that could be treated. Nigeria of all countries seemed like the most ideal country where the infection wouldn’t spread. If the virus needed saliva and/or blood for its propagation, the zombies wouldn’t be able to reach people as most Nigerian houses are built behind 12 feet walls and solid metal gates, thus stifling the spread. Osas let his thoughts run wild as he speculated what exactly had happened. Within minutes, he drifted off into an uneasy sleep, knowing that when he woke, he would be one of two things; alive or dead.

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