By Karanja wa Ngugi
Neno was just a young girl when she died of a mysterious condition. Among the Waboni , a dying archaic tribe in Boni Forest, a young girl who hadn’t given birth had to be given the special burial rite of ukoma where the young unmarried women, children her age and young uncircumcised men her age had to eat some of her remains. Mostly the brain.
Sidi wept. Sadness had taken control of her emotions. She could not help but blame the foreigners for her sister’s death. She was sure they were to blame.
Then it hit her that they should have listened to Karisa, the revered seer. He was dead now and all they had was sadness and death.
Thairu walked into the house with Sidi, a girl he’d met in our field visits in one of the villages.
The young and rather soft Sidi had not seen a man with such charm all her life.
She had grown up at Boni and no man there could match Thairu. The charm and the life that was in Thairu was all she needed and much more than she ever wished for. Halima, Lerosion, and I left the room and off we went to the local brew den.
The report was now ready and we were pleased to go back home. Mzee Kisaja, a Waboni elder from the Eastern side of Boni had alerted us on a mysterious condition that had struck the community and after two months of intense research and life threatening escapades, we had finally come to a halt. We had a full versed report and all we wanted was to go home.
Mzee was pretty sure that the revered ngomi(ancestors) were angry at the community and that this condition was punishment from them for not following their traditions to the core. He called the condition Kuru which meant Punishment in one of the recently dead dialects of the Waboni people.
Thairu wasn’t picking up his phone and I concluded that he was still asleep after a whole night of partying. Everyone at work knew of Thairu and his drunken antics, brothel visits and lots of other things that were built on partying and sex.
I was just about to catch my favorite motor show on Citizen Tv when I saw a headline about some cannibals attacking Kangemi and Sodom areas. They were said to have come from the very large Slum at Sodom. The number kept increasing and the panic started crowding the air.
Being a market day at Kangemi , the situation seemed to be getting out of hand. The bloodthirsty maniacs had taken over the market. Bodies everywhere, cars and buses burnt, and the Total Petrol Station was now burning up.
That morning had seen the Great North Road crippled. All those that were headed to Nairobi were in deep trouble as the maniacs had spread to Kinoo and to the Nairobi school. The nearest police station at Kabete was now a haven of police-turned-mongrels.
It was the only station that could offer the help needed and unless the forces came using helicopters, there was no hope. They say that hope is that thing with wings; at the moment, even the wings had been cut off. Two hours into the Incident, even the very secure lavish Loresho estate had been attacked.
Mama had told me once that death came when you least expected it. This time it was more than that because not only did it come to visit us but also came with its soldiers.
Five hours Earlier.
Thairu lived in Kinoo and we always took our bus home at the Super Metro bus terminal at Kenya National archives. I lived in Westlands, but as close as it was, I was too tired to walk this day.
Thairu’s face lit up when he received a call from one of his many girlfriends. It was Suzie informing him of an orgy at Sodom.
“Sawa, I’ll be there in an hour,” Thairu said.
“Bro , Leo ni kuchafua!”
I alighted at Westlands.
At 8:43 pm , Thairu alighted at Sodom and off he went to the party.
I sat in my apartment shocked at the news. Thairu being at Sodom did not explain the man-eating beings, but he definitely had something to do with this .
A few days ago, we were at Boni Forest investigating a similar condition and now it was happening here.
The condition at Boni Forest did not escalate as it had at Sodom because we had locked up all the infected in a quarantined area. But how had it spread?
We were sure that no one in the group was infected. We had all tested negative.
Something must have gone wrong somewhere and someone somewhere was a carrier of this bizarre condition.
Halima called to ask of my whereabouts. She had just arrived at the office to pick up something that she had left. Being an off day, I wasn’t planning on leaving the house. Thairu and I had planned on playing the Call of Duty video game later in the day at my place.
“I can’t reach Thairu… has he called?” Halima asked.
“Nope, he’s not picking up his phone .We last talked last night. He was going to some party at Sodom …”
“What ? Sodom? The area that am seeing on the news? Ile iko na majini?”
‘Uhmmmnh… Yes, that one!”
Halima and I talked for a while when I saw two people with wobbly feet and diseased eyes walking in the neighborhood. One of them had his jaw dislocated showing his torn tongue and had a rather sloppy stature.
Moraa was playing with her toy at the main entrance. I could see her from my bedroom window. It was her favorite spot as she really liked the guard at the entrance.
One of the strange humanoids entered and started walking towards Moraa. The guard who was just a few meters from the gate started running towards it from behind, a club in hand. The other strange being walked in and started chasing the guard who was chasing his partner. At the moment, I decided to get out and go save the young child. I opened my door but it was a little too late. The zombie pounced on her and bit her neck.
I stood there in shock. I had seen lifeless bodies before but I had never seen a young child die.
After a few minutes her legs began to wobble, then her whole body started to shake and she rose up and burst out into laughter and started to walk toward me. It was now four against one. The same happened to the guard. My neighbors walked out and on seeing what was happening, some fainted whereas others ran towards the gate.
I ran back into my house and locked it from behind but they did not give up. They started hitting my door and I could hear the pounding slowly get heavier and heavier.
I decided to use the back window to escape.
I could run into the office and seek asylum there.
I jumped through the window into the neighboring estate, thinking that it was safer than ours, only to realize that I had just walked into fire. Everyone here was infected.
I spotted a motorcycle at the back entrance of the estate that now linked it to the Kyuna road which would take me straight to the building that hosts our offices.
Stealing the motorcycle was easy till one of the beings spotted me and lucky enough I managed to escape.
Kyuna road was rather clear and as odd as it seemed, I did not care. I had to get to the office. It was the safest place I could think of, considering its location.
The junction at Parklands Road had me crash into a matatu that suddenly stopped when the driver saw the strange beings ahead. He got out and ran. With a hurt leg, I limped my way into the office building using an alternative route and making sure no one had followed me.
The epidemic had spread far and wide. Cases had been reported from Kangemi to Kawangware to the vast slums of Kibera to Kikuyu.
There was confusion everywhere.
The menace had the Secretary of defense as the Army and the Air force called for support.
The troops had taken over every entry point into the CBD. The first batch was posted at the University Way, another at Kipande Road and Ngara just to block any vehicle entering the Nairobi Central Business District.
In a few hours , the infected were everywhere.
6 counties had reported cases of this disease.
Things had taken a new twist when one of the zombies died and fell into a dam that supplied water to several constituencies in Kiambu and Nairobi counties and those who took the water changed to become zombies.
Social media was burning up. Everyone calling unto the Lord to protect them; others saying it was God punishing us for immorality.
Some running away and heading to Mombasa.
Others on this other side were trying to get into the CBD but the soldiers had strict orders not to let anyone in. Some were lucky enough to have been let into the Five Star Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel just past Westlands. Israeli Forces were there protecting their ambassador and a few other visitors who had come to see the Kenyan president when it all happened.
The day before the epidemic was a holiday and this fateful morning had people going back to work, kids going back to school, and so traffic was heavy on Waiyaki Way, but the most unlucky were the 3 am traders that were at Kangemi Market.
The guards at the office let me in despite having strict instructions from Halima that they shouldn’t let anyone in. They had known me for 3 years.
I was sure that Thairu had something to do with the outbreak and something in the report would prove it.
Halima , Lerosion and other workmates sat in the Lab shocked by the events of the day.
Lerosion talked of how the incidents happening were similar to those he had read from a book called Foggy Dawn. He talked of how the maniacs in the book killed ¾’s of the population in Siberia only to die of cold.
Halima was sure it was the work of some powerful witch and having grown up in a Ukambani you couldn’t convince her otherwise.
“How stupid it is for a scientist like Halima to believe in non-existent things like witchcraft.” Lerosion said sarcastically thereby causing an argument to arise.
‘I know what caused this!’ I shouted.
‘Wacha zako wewe… unajuaje? Hii ni uchawi,’ Halima said.
‘Thairu was the cause of all this. I know it. He must have been infected while at work’
“That’s impossible! We were too careful, plus we tested negative of the condition when we left,” Lerosion interjected.
“There has to be a way he got infected …remember Mzee telling us that the condition started after Neno’s death? After the ceremony, that forbidden brain-eating ceremony?” I asked
‘Yes. I do but what does that have to do with Thairu? He never dug out the remains or even touched Neno’s body or even ate the brain of the dead girl. How then do you explain it? I did all that he did and I’m quite Okay.’ Halima replied in a confident tone.
“NO…It has to be this… hawa watu wanabehave the same way as wale wa kule Boni.. tofauti ni ati tulikuwa tumewafungia …”
“Stop it! It has absolutely nothing to do with this..this is completely different,” Halima said. “Just stop overthinking… This is witchcraft…”
The forces at University way were having a hard time keeping the Ferocious flesh-eating beings from entering the city. Several hundreds had been brought down by the soldiers but they kept coming and coming.
Fear had taken over the place. It smelt of frailty. Even the most feared defense forces in East and Central Africa had bowed and agreed that they have never faced such a thing. Fighting the insurgents in Somalia was much easier.
All armies need supplies, and the war was intensifying as the ferocious beings had somehow started coming in large numbers. The soldiers were running out of supplies and it seemed impossible to get more unless they got air support from the air force which had not arrived and that would take quite some time.
I sat in the office deep in thought. Thinking of the impending doom that awaited us. ‘What if one of us is infected and the condition hasn’t yet matured to a level that affects us?’ I thought to myself. It all seemed like a never ending cycle of questions in my mind. I took the report and started going through the witness statements. Maybe I would get a clue on how it had all happened and get to know of how the situation could be handled.
I was however sure that Thairu had something to do with the current situation.
I don’t believe in coincidences but there was no way Thairu was at Sodom and then an exactly similar condition to the one we were researching in Boni erupts there. Something somewhere was amiss. I was also not in agreement with the report’s findings. There was no way the condition was caused by natural forces. The virus was manufactured but when I told them this, they dismissed me as a conspiracy theorist and Halima had me shut up since she was the lead scientist in the group.
(The party at Sodom)
Suzie unzipped Thairu’s trousers and put his cock in her mouth. Thairu remembered his encounter with Sidi, the village girl from Boni Forest. Suzie did it so perfectly. The sucking would make Thairu cum in a matter of seconds.
She then stood, her panties dripping wet and said, ‘Now fuck me like a dog!’
All she wanted was Thairu’s cock inside her. She imagined him as the black guy she had seen in one of the videos.
It got pretty intense and their bodies now commanded by the hormones took their places.
Thairu started kissing Suzie’s lips and slowly headed south. He bit her shoulder.
His body shook and this time he felt the urge rise in him, a bizarre urge to have the taste of blood …He bit her again. This time on the neck.
Suzie let out a shattering cry and fell down… Thairu fell down too but this time his body had changed .. He had a desperate need for more blood..
He knelt down and bit Suzie again, this time getting to the Carotid artery..
He left the room and pounced on a guy that was just heading out of the washrooms..
Suzie’s body lay on the floor lifeless. After a few minutes, she woke up, this time with renewed strength.
Her body now full of the parasitic urge to cause havoc and a hunger for blood.
Thairu pounced on a few more beings before the string of the ferocious zombies took over and got out of the house where the party was, and like ghouls, crept into the slums and made Sodom fall apart. Within an hour, hundreds were infected with the condition.
The 3am Traders at the Kangemi Market were the first to have their human selves drained by the flesh eating humans.
I sat in my chair trying to read the report from my computer. I had no interest in the scientific findings of the report as I found them highly flawed.
I was reading across the witness statements when I came across this:
SIDI’S WITNESS STATEMENT.
Translated from Swahili by Halima S.
“I walked home that day with some sweet brown thing in hand. Neno and I were from the village school where some foreigners had visited. They gave us sweets and other sweet things to eat.
I did not like them, so I did not eat. We had been warned of them by the seer before he mysteriously got murdered. Neno started having this dark spots on her skin that evening and after a few hours she started twitching and having weird marks… She then fell down and died and as is the ritual, we enclose all dead bodies for a few days before we bury them… It is forbidden to touch a fresh dead body… Our parents were very traditional and still practiced Ukoma,the forbidden ritual where if a young child died, her brain and a few other remains are cut out and eaten… I did not like it but I had to eat it…..”
That still did not explain everything.
It only explained a bit of the story and it did not make much sense.
How is Thairu connected to this? I just needed a connection. There had to be one.
“ Sakaja? Sakaja?” Halima called “ I have some news for you. Mzee Kisaja just called and he’s said that Neno’s sister Sidi just died and she then rose again and has caused havoc in the village and that more and more people are eating each other …”
‘Waiit! Whaaat? I was just reading her statement here … How did she die again?’
I knew that what was happening in the city had something to do with our research at Boni Forest… and now the zombies were in the village at Boni…
But How did Thairu, if he had anything to do with it, get infected ?
Because I was now getting more and more confused.
What does our research have to do with what was now happening in the city?
Questions arose as to what had caused the virus.
Who was patient zero?
Were the foreigners involved in this?
The questions further arose when Halima reread the witness statements and she noticed a rather strange trend. All the kids that went to the visit by the foreigners later got the virus and most died.
And Sidi’s Sister was the first to get affected by the condition.. But then again , how did people like Sidi get the condition and how comes it took that long for it to mature and change them?
How did the older citizens of the village get the condition…
especially Patient Zero..
He then died after 48 hours.
Why did kids like Neno die so soon?
What’s the incubation period of this disease?
“Intercourse!sexual intercourse..” Halima shouted.
“Yes..It has to be it.. The virus can also be spread through intercourse..”
Still it did not add up.
No one had sex with the kids.
“What of Thairu and Sidi?” Lerosion asked.
“He had a thing with Sidi but then again , who infected Sidi?” I asked.
It was a mystery that needed solving and by the time we saw the evening news, the infected had grown to a rough 10 Million and the number was still growing. 15 counties and now Lamu County had joined the list of affected counties.
At around 9:35Pm, the lights suddenly went off and from where I was seated, I heard a man scream.
Read more of Karanja’s work on his blog: Tarzatian.