So It’s officially happening now. After about a month of waiting, the second wave of mutated baboon attacks has officially begun in our small town of Ladismith, Western Cape. They’re right at our front door now, slowly closing in. And I am sweating like never before.
“What do we do?” Carrie Lynne asks.
“We have to go back to the attic,” I reply, turning back to face Roxanne, Carrie Lynne and her mother, Doctor Dlamini. “There’s no way we’re outrunning them, and it seems like my dad and sister still have their hands full; they won’t be able to help us just yet. When I fire, you three run as fast as your legs will permit, and I’ll try to hold them off for as long as I can.” This is it. My moment of valor. And to think I have never even fired a gun before. Okay, here it goes.
“GO! GO! GO! GO!” My wrist aches with the effect from the recoil of the rifle, but at least my thumb wasn’t ripped off. The Scroungers were slightly rattled, but they are largely unaffected, and are still advancing. None of these mutant animals have ever been responsive to gunfire, maybe real fire will be a more effective deterrent. All three of them are still running towards me, so I fire a few more rounds, and then it’s time to bail out. I throw the shotgun over my shoulder and rush up to the second floor, with the Scroungers hot on my heels. The ladder to the attic has been left down for me, and the others are urging me on, trying to get me up as fast as possible.
“Hurry! They are right behind you!” Roxanne shouts. By the time I am halfway up the ladder, everyone in the attic is reaching their hands out to me so that they can pull me up and shut the hatchway cover. But before they can pull the ladder up, there is already extra weight on it, and in a split second, the first Scrounger is trying to force itself into the attic.
“Get-out!” Roxanne screams as she starts kicking back, eventually forcing it down to the floor. She then gets her revolver, shoots the parts of the ladder stopping the cover from closing, and slams it shut. I can hear the Scroungers below us, over my fiercely pounding heart, shrieking in frustration as they try to find a way up. These ones aren’t as bulky as the one we found trying to bulldoze the place, so I don’t think they will huff and puff and shoulder the house down.
“Are you okay?” Carrie Lynne asks Roxanne.
“What is it?” Carrie Lynne’s mom asks. I immediately look at Roxanne’s leg and see she got it wounded while she was kicking the Scrounger down. It looks like the nasty critter may have sunk some of its teeth pretty deep in.
“Can’t you do something, Doctor?” I ask.
“I’m not necessarily that kind doctor, but I’ll gladly take a look at it. I just need-”
“What was that?” Carrie Lynne asks. Then I hear it again.
“It sounds like they’re trying to push the attic floorboards loose!” Carrie Lynne’s mom exclaims.
“Of course!” I shout, in a ‘eureka’ moment kind of way, “The first Scrounger was too heavy to jump and reach the attic, and that’s why it had to resort to drastic measures. These ones are much lighter, and though they are barely scratching the ceiling, if they keep trying, they’ll make a way through. We have to get out of here!”
“And go where?” Carrie Lynne asks. “Certainly not back down?”
“No, we have to go onto the roof,” I say. “My sister Lauryn and my dad should be back anytime now, so we can’t be trapped in here when they arrive.” I go to the attic wall where the roof comes really close to the floorboards. “Sorry about this, Doctor Dlamini.”
“By all means,” she says, and with her go ahead, I shoot a hole through the roof and then make the opening wide enough by knocking the roof tiles off with the butt of the rifle. Doctor Dlamini moves to the opening, but Roxanne stays where she is with Carrie Lynne.
“My leg,” Roxanne says. “I can’t get up.”
“We need to move, we’re right behind you,” I say as I give Carrie Lynne’s mom my rifle and then go over to Roxanne. She puts one of her hands around my shoulder as I help her up, and then Carrie Lynne and I take her to the roof opening. We have to go through the hole one at a time, so Carrie Lynne goes through first then her mom and I both help Roxanne up. But once we are all on the roof and we try to move, Roxanne moans again.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t; it hurts too much,” she says as a few tears pierce through her closed eyes onto her porcelain cheeks.
“Put your hands around my shoulders,” I say. She looks around at the precarious position we are in and then back at me.
“Are you sure?” She asks.
I get a slight feeling of vertigo when I look around me, but I gather all the strength I have, carry her off her feet and into my arms, then once I’m steady, we all go to the other side of the roof where it comes close to the ground. I’m so glad Roxanne isn’t as heavy as I thought, or else I would have looked stupid giving in after a few seconds. Her petite body is no trouble lifting, and I feel at home as her personal chauffeur.
“So what’s the plan from here?” Carrie Lynne asks.
“There’s no way we’re making it down from here with her leg like this,” I say.
“Oh, we’re just not catching a break today,” Carrie Lynne’s mom says. One of the Scroungers made into the attic and has just forced itself through onto the roof. It slowly starts making its way to us, but just then, I hear the Wrangler coming in a distance. I look back and see that it’s too far off. The Scrounger will be done with at least one of us by the time my dad and Lauryn get here. There just aren’t any other options so I’m just going to put Roxanne down and do something stupid. But when I try to, she holds onto me tighter.
“I’m not letting go,” she says. “I know what you’re thinking of doing, and I won’t let you.”
“Well, since this is the end, I’m just gonna say-”
“No, don’t. We’re not giving up.”
“What will we do then? It’s right th-”
The Scrounger is just seven feet away when it holds its face, falls to the tiles and rolls over down to the ground. What the-
“I thought you could use some help!” I look down to the ground and I do not believe who I am seeing.
We’re still far from the green zone, but at least we have a small win to be excited about. Apart from the fact that he came to help (I still can’t believe it), Uncle Otto may have discovered a Scrounger weak-spot: the eyes.
The one he shot isn’t dead and the others will soon be coming up too, so there’s no time to celebrate. It keeps squealing in pain, and I’m scared that it may just be attracting more Scroungers to us. And to make it worse, I see the first one Lauryn and my dad lured away. It’s far away, but it’s approaching pretty fast and looking ready for round two.
“Jump! I’ll catch you!” My dad shouts as he gets into the bed of the Wrangler that’s now parked right next to the house.
“Oh no, I don’t think so,” Carrie Lynne says with a bit of a laugh, shaking her head.
“Come on, sweetie, I’ll go first so you see it’s not so bad,” Carrie Lynne’s mom says with nerves of steel. My uncle joins my dad in the back of the Jeep and they ready themselves for the catch. She closes her eyes and jumps off the edge of the roof where it’s at its lowest, only about a story high. I start wondering if my dad and uncle were ever part of a cheerleading squad because together, they make a superb team.
“See? You can do it, sweetie!” Carrie Lynne’s mom shouts once she’s safe in the Jeep.
“Let me help Roxanne down first,” she says.
“Okay, it’s your turn,” I say to Roxanne. By now, I’m just happy to let go of her, because my arms are almost dead from carrying her all this time.
“Let’s do this,” she says. Carrie Lynne helps me with her, and we lower her down to where my dad and uncle can get her.
“Alright Carrie Lynne, you’re up. You’ve got this!” Her mom shouts. Carrie Lynne starts fanning herself with her hands in an attempt to calm her nerves.
“Okay, I’ve got this. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gooooooosh!” The last one was more of a scream, really, but she makes it down and my dad and uncle catch her perfectly too. But before I get a chance to follow suit, it looks like we’re all out of time. The big daddy Scrounger is upon them.
“Lauryn! Punch it!” I shout.
The sound of the wheels screeching on the ground is all I hear before the huge thump of the Scrounger colliding with the house. The Scrounger misses them by a whisker, and the vibrations I feel under my feet serve as a worthy reminder that it is one leviathan beast we’re dealing with.
My sister and I aren’t the closest of siblings, but at times like this, our minds just spontaneously synchronize, and so now we both know what needs to happen. I feel my pulse in my temples now, and I’m already regretting what I’m about to do. With a rush of adrenalin, I start running up the roof with the Jeep remaining in the corner of my eyes as it goes around the house. I now know what Carrie Lynne was feeling when she was about to jump off the roof. And
to think that I was just a kid barricaded his living room a few days ago. How did my life become a movie so fast?
When I reach the highest part of the roof, I can still see the Wrangler just over the edge of the roof on my ten, with its pursuer back on its feet and not too far behind. But then I see something else that might complicate matters.
One of the Scroungers that was in the house has just stuck its claw through the roof.
Unfortunately, there is no turning back now. Not with the current circumstances.
I start running towards it, helped by the downward gradient of the roof. It’s a little trickier to keep my balance going at that speed and with the tiles not being stable, but it’s do or die now before that brute can make it onto the roof and I’m forced to square up against it.
When I am just a foot away, its head pops up through the roof. Bradley, it’s time you learnt to pray. I jump up and step on its head, shoving it back down in the process, but I forget about Newton’s third law. Pushing it down takes out all the upward push I was expecting when going off it, and I stumble back onto the roof with the edge coming up really fast. There is just not enough space to regain my balance. The Jeep is approaching on the ground with the King Kong Scrounger closing in on it, so they can’t stop moving. If I miscalculate my trajectory, I’m going to miss it and become a pie from the sky for the beast just a few feet away. I don’t even have any time to get myself amped up; I just have to do it spontaneously.
What’s kind of funny is the way everyone’s eyes grow wider as they see me stumbling up to the edge, and then falling rather than jumping off. I’m not about to be all macho now. I am literally, screaming my lungs out. Don’t even care who’s watching. Why?
I may have gone off the roof too late.
[Photo by Red Junasun]