Without warning, it started raining heavily just as strong vines burst forth from the earth. They all brought out their heaters and knives.
Chike had already told his men that were not in the forest to prepare for evacuation. He was adjusting his heater when a vine lashed out at him. He went down so hard the breath left him. He pulled the trigger on his heater and aimed at his legs where the vine was squeezing them. As soon as the heat touched them, they left him. He turned and saw that they were countless of such vines.
‘Protect the civilians,’ he shouted to the people around him, but he was not sure they heard him. However, a glance around assured him that the weak civilians all had people protecting them except Mariah. He looked at her. She was sticking close to Nancy, which meant that Nancy’s protection would include her. That was good.
Satisfied, he turned the heater to full blast and faced the vines. One vine flew past him almost missing his gun heater. He blew it up. That was how he worked. He tried not to let them take him down while he destroyed them.
Sam was bordering on nervous breakdown. He was so terrified he could feel his whole body shaking while sweating under the cold rain. This thing was like Nightmare on Elm Street. He pulled on the trigger of the heater gun and never let go. That was how he managed not to get killed by these grabbing vines.
He looked at Nancy but found out that she did not need help. Not only that. He also saw that the vines were not attacking her. She was fighting off the ones that were on her aunty, but none was coming to her.
He frowned. That was strange. He was so wrapt with watching Nancy that he did not know when a vine crept up his body and wrapped itself around his neck. There was no way Sam could blast himself with the heater without being hurt. He tore at the wretched vine with his hands, but it was futile. His eyes widening with horror at the havoc the vines were causing, he felt himself being pulled into the ground, and the life sucked out of him. That was the last thing he felt.
Nancy was glad that the vines were not attacking her. That way she could protect her aunty without looking behind her back. She did not know why they were not onto her, but she wasn’t about to question a good thing. She looked again and saw another vine creeping up her aunt’s leg. She did not waste any time. She held it by the thing that looked like the head and blasted it with heat. It withered and died.
She looked for Sam but did not find him. Maybe he was buried somewhere by vines. She refused to think he was probably dead. He was a good man and did not deserve to die. She needed him to take a message to the commandant. She wanted to tell him that they needed to leave now if they planned to leave at all. They did not have any experience in fighting this kind of thing. She saw MaryJohn fighting for his dear life and made her way towards him.
‘Aunty Mariah, I need you to stay in one place. Do you know where that one place is? Behind me. I don’t want you to leave me for anything. Do I make myself clear?’
Her aunty nodded so hard that Nancy instinctively winced. The poor woman would have a pounding headache from that action.
As Nancy walked, she observed that the vines did not come close to her, though they wanted to. She did not know what kept them away, but she rather liked that. She reached the general as a particular wicked slim vine was trying to enter his mouth. He bit it hard and it came out immediately. Nancy blasted it with her heater.
‘I can see you know how to do this well,’ Nancy commented wryly. ‘I am surprised you are still alive.’
MaryJohn was surprised himself. He had tried to keep an eye on Nancy but between trying to stay alive and remaining on earth, not under it, he lost her.
‘I’m glad you are unharmed.’
‘I am well. I don’t know why, but the vines are not attacking me. I am protecting my aunty. I came to tell you that we have to bail out. There is no way we can kill them all. We need to leave if we plan to leave at all. I think bigger and larger ones are coming. We need to leave,’ she added urgently.
MaryJohn used his heater to kill the one that was riding on his legs. ‘You are right. We need to leave, but how? There is no way we can make it back to the road. I think we should stay and see what the commandant has in store for us.’
Nancy was circling Mariah and MaryJohn while the general was speaking, to ward off vines. ‘I hate to tell you this but there is no way a chopper can get us out. We are too far inside the forest. And a storm is coming, from the look of this rain. Our only way is to make it to the road, or stay here and die.’
‘You think so? We came with explosives. If you ask me, I say we blow up this place and get the hell out of here. I say weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!’
With no warning at all, the vine under the ground yanked him right inside the earth.
‘Where did he go to?’ Mariah cried, looking widely around her. ‘He was standing right here with us!’
‘Yes, aunty,’ Nancy said coolly. ‘He was standing here, and now he is not, just like it happened to my mum and dad.’ Seeing her aunty’s tears, her voice softened and she added, ‘He is not dead. Come with me. I need to get you to safety.’
‘I am not going anywhere without you. I am not going so you better not make me go.’
‘Maria, I need to focus and I can’t do that with you all over me. I promise I will be back. If you don’t leave, I don’t know when the vine will come and pull you too. I need to get you out of her and I need to do that yesterday.’
‘It seems that you can’t hear me well. I am not going anywhere.’
‘If you are not going anywhere make sure you do that. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t leave me alone, don’t let go of my clothes, and don’t even move an inch. I lost my mum and dad. I don’t want to lose you too.’
‘You won’t lose me. I get the plan. Hang onto you, die with you and resurrect with you. I am game.’
‘Then let us go.’