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Chapter 16

Rita screamed and screamed until her throat was hoarse. She regretted ever doubting her spouse as she watched him fire at another vine coming onto her for the thousandth time. She was just an inconvenience to him unlike the girl they called Nancy. She was fighting for herself and her aunty. Rita was ashamed of herself. She did not think she would live to look her husband in the face again. She had disgraced him, called him a cheat in front of so many people, and was putting him in danger now. Could it get any worse?

It did get worse. She felt something invisible wrap itself around her leg. She panicked and looked at Musa who was trying to free himself from a baby vine. She knew she was being pulled, but she could not do anything to save herself. She just stood there and stared at him for the last time.

‘Musa,’ she cried, the words sounding faint because of her parched throat. ‘I love you so very much.’ And then she was pulled all the way in.

Musa heard her and saw her as she was being dragged into the ground by an unseen force. He felt his heart break. Rita could be a bitch sometimes but he loved her. She did not have to die. He roared like a wounded lion and fell on his knees. What would he do? How could he live without Rita?

Sobering a little, he started digging the ground, hoping to find her. He was so caught up with the desire to find his wife that he did not know when something hooked him in the neck and yanked him right into the ground. The last thing he saw was Nancy.

‘We need to leave now,’ Job told Mike. Something was definitely wrong. Everybody was missing. He actually saw Rita and Musa being dragged into the ground, and he knew it was by these evil vines. He just hoped that he would make it out alive. He promised God that if he came out of this with his head, he would never masturbate again.

‘There is no way we can leave,’ Mike replied. ‘There are too many of them.’

That was his last speech. Before he could say, ‘save me’, he was dragged into the ground, and into oblivion.

Chike later gave up. It was no use; the more he killed this thing, the more they doubled. He had watched three of his soldiers go down and he could do nothing to save them. If he hated anything it was someone dying in action and in his command. He was tired of fighting, both physically and spiritually.

He made his way to Nancy to tell her to get out while she still could. ‘What are you still doing here? You were supposed to have left,’ he told the girl. He head earlier observed that she was not being attacked by the vines.

‘There is no escaping from them,’ Nancy replied. ‘There is no place to hide. Really, sir, if you ask me, I will tell to just let them pull you in. You will not die.’

Chike’s eyes widened outrageously. ‘You are mad,’ he snarled, and to emphasize it, he knocked a vine senseless with his heater. ‘You actually mean I should just stand rooted to a spot for them to come and take me? Is that your new plan? I won’t be part of it. I am getting out now. And don’t you dare quote Eminem ever again for me.’

‘If you plan to get out, then you must stick to me. I can keep you safe.’

‘Don’t worry about me, worry about you aunty. I can take care of myself.’

‘If you say so, but you might want to change your mind.’

He turned and left with his heater. It occurred to him that as vicious as the vines were, they did not kill his men; they were either knocked senseless or dragged into the ground.

Chike hoped that nothing would happen to them under the ground as Nancy had said. But he could not reconcile himself that they were safe.

A vine wrapped around his leg and started dragging him into the ground. He looked around for an anchor but found only vines and ivy everywhere he turned. He grabbed one vine and hung onto it desperately. The vine started drawing back in protest at being clutched. In the process, it ended up dragging Chike out of the suctioning ground. When the vine discovered that it was helping the human, it stopped pulling and gave in to him, and both started plunging into the ground.

Chike screamed.

He did not want to go in there, but he was not actually given a choice. Maybe this wasn’t really happening to him. Maybe he would wake up from this nightmare and see his colleagues.

He had to be paranoid if he was already thinking like Nancy. He stopped thinking all together as he was dragged all the way into the ground. It was a dizzying sensation, and he fainted for the first time in his life.

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