Jensen Hunter

The thrill of adventure can only be tempered by the sorrow of loss

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 24

Sunday 26th December 2032, 08:31


Anel slowly opened her eyes, the world around her was blurry and the voices she could hear sounded unnaturally deep and distorted. She blinked several times and tried to move her jaw as she emitted a low groan. Two blurry shapes in front of her had been having a conversation but they stopped to look at her. Anel’s nostrils flared as her acute sense of smell identified all of the aromas around her. She could smell urine, faeces, blood and most notably fear. The entire room was bathed in fear, but it wasn’t her fear, it was the fear of the two who were nervously watching her.


She blinked several more times and tried to move her head, but she couldn’t; something was tightly secured around it, holding it in place. She carried on blinking until the world started to come into focus. One of the blurs that she could smell had moved to the far side of the room to pick a telephone handset off the wall. His voice still sounded deep and distorted but she could make out what he was saying, “Tell the Mistress that this thing’s awake now… Eish, I don’t know, just tell her! … We want to get the hell out of here, this is the scariest one yet! … Will you just go and tell her already, did you see what it did to Shadrack? He was built like a brick shit-house and it killed him with one hand! … Ah voetsek.”


She heard the handset get slammed down and she watched the owner of the voice walk back to his companion. The two of them were starting to come into focus now and she was aware of a long line of drool that was hanging from the corner of her mouth down to her chest. The two men watched her as they continued to reek of fear. She recognised them now, they were two of the regular guards who had watched her while she was in the cage. She tried to move her arms and legs, but they were secured as well.


Each one of the guards was armed with an AK-47. The one who hadn’t been talking on the phone walked up to a drip that was fixed in her arm and he adjusted the flow from the IV. Telephone guard said, “Not too much dammit! She’s coming now; if we put it back to sleep then she’s gonna be pissed off!” The drip guard replied, “Chill out Baba, I’ve seen the Devil do this a hundred times, I know what I’m doing. Besides she’s starting to move and I don’t want to end up like Shadrack!”


The guards fell silent again and Anel could feel the cold solution run up her arm after the adjustment. Her vision started to blur again, but she fought the effects of the morphine and carried on blinking the world into focus. After a while she heard the screech of metal grating on metal as a large door was wrenched open. Her nostrils flared again as the aroma of the room began to change; now she could smell perfume, soap and shampoo.


Precious entered the room, followed by Kgosi. She walked up to the guards and asked, “She’s awake?” Telephone guard nodded and replied, “Yes my Mistress.” She tersely asked, “For how long?” The other guard replied, “Only a few minutes my Mistress. I adjusted the drip to keep her calm.” Precious’ eyes started to bulge out of her head as she screamed, “YOU DID WHAT? Kgosi, put him in the box!” Kgosi whistled, three more guards entered the room, quickly disarmed the offender and dragged him out, kicking and screaming.


Precious walked up to Anel and looked into her yellow eyes; the stench of Precious’ perfume nearly overpowered Anel’s keen sense of smell. She spoke softly to Anel, “You were a very naughty girl Anel, poor Shadrack won’t be coming back.” Anel just carried on looking at Precious, she was acutely aware that despite the fact that she was bolted to wall of the cell, she wasn’t scared anymore. Precious spoke again, “Anel? Anel, can you hear me? Do you understand what I’m saying to you?” Anel could sense that Precious was getting irritated and that made her smile, more drool ran out of her mouth and down her chest.


Precious’ eyes narrowed and she continued, “You do understand me, don’t you?” Anel just looked at Precious and carried on smiling and drooling. Precious shook her head and said to herself, “That idiot must have opened the clamp too much, Kgosi bring in De Wet.” Kgosi nodded and quietly left the room while Precious stopped the flow of morphine. Anel could immediately feel a warm sensation creep up her arm and the world around her almost immediately came sharply into focus. She slowly and carefully started to clench and unclench her unnaturally long and clawed fingers.


The aroma of the room changed again, this time Precious’ perfume was diluted with a mixture of boiled cabbage, beetroot and body odour. Anel’s eyes focused on the doorway as De Wet Kruger entered the cell and her heart started racing. She was looking at the man who had kept her and Alice in cages, designed to hold dogs, for months on end. The man who had strapped her to a rusted and filthy operating table while he had experimented on them and changed them into the creatures that they were now. Anel’s heightened metabolism was quickly burning through the morphine that remained in her body. Her brain was flooded with pure hatred and rage as she glared at Precious and De Wet.


De Wet was looking at the ground as he uncomfortably shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He was still reliving the horrific events of the previous day and he was absolutely terrified of Anel. Precious gently cooed, “Oh come now De Wet, you know that I was just joking about putting Matron in the box yesterday. I couldn’t be happier with what you’ve made for me. Didn’t you and Matron enjoy your cake last night?” De Wet didn’t look up or say anything, he just nodded. Precious continued, “De Wet look at her, look at your beautiful creation. She’s perfect De Wet, you’ve done it, you’ve made me so happy. Aren’t you glad that you’ve made your Mistress happy?” De Wet carried on looking at the floor and shifting his weight but he eventually mumbled, “Yes Ms Precious.”


Precious smiled and sternly said, “De Wet! Look at Anel!” De Wet reluctantly tore his gaze away from the floor and locked eyes with the terrifying creature. Precious persisted, “Isn’t she beautiful?” De Wet pulled his eyes away from Anel’s and he proceeded to look over the creature’s entire body; eventually he noticed that the drip had been stopped. His eyes widened in fear and he started shaking uncontrollably. He pointed a shaking finger at the drip and lisped, “Who stopped it? Why did they stop it?”


Precious looked confused as her eyes followed where his trembling finger was pointing. She answered, “Why I did of course, I wanted her to be awake for us.” De Wet’s voice jumped up several octaves as he started to scream in a shrill voice, “It must be sedated! It must always be sedated! I’ve enlarged its amygdala and increased its cortisol production! It must always be sedated! It knows only hatred, anger and RAGE! Start the drip, start the drip NOW!”


Precious’ eyes widened as the understanding of what De Wet was saying dawned on her. She lunged for the drip as Anel ripped her head and leg free of the restraints. She was able to wrap her leg around Precious and sink her teeth into the megalomaniac’s shoulder. Precious had just been able to grab the IV clamp and release it, morphine began to flow back into Anel. While the morphine was taking effect she kept her teeth buried in Precious’ shoulder and De Wet looked on in horror.


De Wet had kept his latest breakthrough a secret; the osmium had unlocked a revolutionary new biological catalyst using coordination chemistry. Black Mamba DNA, in conjunction with his Naked Mole Rat gene therapy had been the key to Alice and Anel’s success. De Wet knew that both creatures had fangs hidden in their mouths, he just didn’t know if these creatures produced any venom or not. If they were indeed venomous he had no idea what that venom would do to a human being…


Sunday 26th December 2032, 19:22


Tanisha blinked and the five creatures vanished, she shouted, “Surround the building NOW! Make sure that they’ve got nowhere to go when they get down here! Bongani, cover the entrance and make sure to keep in line of sight of each other!” Her team of scavengers ran off to surround the building. As Ncube was about to follow the team she stopped him and spoke to Mandla, “Can we get out of here now?” He knowingly eyed Tanisha, Ncube and the group of soldiers before replying in afrikaans, “Not in the dark in this place. I wouldn’t risk it, we haven’t been here long enough to know the lay of the land.”


Tanisha nodded and said, “Thanks Mandla, please watch the entrance with the Bongani.” He nodded and walked over to where Ncube’s son was nervously standing alone. Tanisha walked over to the soldiers again and tersely asked, “What the hell was part of your team doing up there the whole day? We thought that there were only the six of you left?”


Jack spoke quickly and urgently, “That’s what I wanted to tell you, those things aren’t with us! We found them here.” Tanisha shook her head, “What do you mean things? Who did you find here?” Priyanka cut in, “Sis, there is some weird and hectic shit going on here, untie us, you NEED our help!” Tanisha shook her head saying, “I can’t do that yet, my people are armed and alert now. They’ll kill us all.”


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…


Their conversation was cut short by the distant sound of gunfire; Tanisha and Ncube brought their weapons to the ready and scanned the environment around them. Leigh had stayed close to the soldiers after the scavengers had run off, but she’d only caught the last bit of the conversation. She piped up with, “They aren’t lying War Scavenger Kumeshnee. This is where the Mistress keeps the Tokoloshes. Jabu used to talk about them in his sleep.” Tanisha and Ncube gave Leigh a confused look and Ncube said, “Tokoloshes? What the hell are you talking about? Do you mean those people on top of the building?”


As soon as Tanisha heard the word ‘Tokoloshe’ her eyes widened and she quietly said, “Operation Tokoloshe…” Leigh, Ncube and the soldiers looked at her quizzically and Jack asked, “Do you know about these things?” Tanisha shook off her reverie and said, “No, I overheard the phrase once. I was outside the Mistress’ private chambers as a door was opened.” She looked at the ground uncomfortably and blinked her eyes several times.


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… …AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH…


Ncube asked, “What happened? The Mistress usually doesn’t like people knowing anything about anything.” Tanisha had shaken off her discomfort with the emotional strength that only women seem to possess in times of extreme difficulty. She looked at him with pure steel in her eyes when she said, “She doesn’t like that at all. I was put in the box for three days for standing too close to the door.” Ncube whistled and said, “Oh shit.” Tanisha’s steely stare didn’t falter when she said, “Oh shit indeed. You know what Kgosi’s like and I know that you were also put in their during your early days with them.” Ncube and Leigh shuddered simultaneously.


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “MOVE, MOVE MOVE!” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…


Tanisha looked at the young woman and said, “I take it you also know about the box?” Leigh nodded with tears in her eyes. The soldiers had watched the entire exchange in confusion and with mounting concern. Ncube looked at Gloria and asked, “Do they serve Chakalaka in the military canteens?” Gloria looked confused and said, “Not for a few years, why?” Ncube shook his head and said, “Thank god and nevermind…”


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…


Jack gave Leigh a sidelong glance, it was obvious that she didn’t know exactly who Tanisha was. He tactfully brought the conversation back to the pressing topic, “War Scavenger Kumeshnee, the five things you saw on top of the main building are not human. From what we can surmise they are some kind of genetic hybrid between humans and something else.” Tanisha looked worried when she asked,  “What else?” Cecil answered, “Our best guess at this point is naked mole rats.” Tanisha and Ncube looked at him incredulously but Priyanka backed him up, “Yes, that’s our current working theory. Just look in that body bag if you don’t believe us.” She jerked her head at the body bag lying next to Jeff.


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “SHIT I’VE GOT TWO ON MY SIX! PATRICK! HELP!”


Tanisha looked in the general direction of the gunfire. The fire fight seemed to be going on for ages and everything was getting very dark, very quickly. She moved over to the body bag and unzipped it. The stench that emanated from the decomposing body felt like someone had punched her in the gut. The oxygen deprived environment in the basement of the facility had slowed down the decomposition process. Unfortunately baking the corpse in a black body bag, in the forty seven degree heat of a Rustenburg summer for eleven hours had jumpstarted it again, with a vengeance. Tanisha suppressed the urge to vomit and opened the body bag, the sight of the conjoined tokoloshe-twins made her jump back in fright and yell, “What the fuck?” Jack said, “Exactly! This is what we’ve talking about!”


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE THINGS?” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “OH SHIT! GODFREY, NOOO!” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack… “FREDDY RUN! CATHY COVER ME!” …Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…


The entire group at the vehicles watched as the Scavengers came sprinting back around the main building of the facility. Every few meters one of them would turn to fire off a few rounds and then carry on sprinting back towards the government vehicles.


Clack-clack-clack… …Clack-clack-clack…


Gloria firmly said, “Ncube, switch on the perimeter lights around the camp, we’ve lost daylight.” Jack spoke directly to Tanisha, “Tanny, cut us loose and give us our weapons, this is going to be a long night!” Ncube ran to the communications terminal and flipped several switches to turn all of the perimeter lights on. Tanisha turned and used the knife that had been taken off Priyanka earlier that day to cut her sister loose. She gave Priyanka back the knife and quietly said, “Get your people ready Sis…”

(I usually use free stock imagery for my images but I found this one on I am not presenting this image as my own work.)


The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 23

Sunday 26th December 2032, 18:21


Ever since Jack and Priyanka had recognised Tanisha they hadn’t said a word to each other or the rest of the group. They heard the rest of the Scavengers call her Kumeshnee and that simply added another layer of mystery to the sudden appearance of Priyanka’s supposedly deceased sibling.

It had been eleven hours since the camp was secured by the Scavengers. The soldiers hadn’t been able to muster any kind of effective resistance. The calculated risk that Jack took by leaving the overwatch post unmanned had been a complete failure. Not only were all of the vaults in the facility empty but he had allowed the entire team to be taken captive. On top of all that, Jeff had been murdered when he was left alone to guard the elevator shaft. The whole team knew that one of the creatures must have gotten the best of him.

Jack was absolutely devastated, he had lost two of the men under his command in only three days and the mission had turned into an absolute nightmare. He kept going over the last twenty four hours in his mind. The team had done a thorough scan of everyone of the basement levels and they hadn’t turned up anything. How did the creatures get past them? Moreover, where were the creatures now? He kept shooting furtive glances over towards the open doors of the facility’s main building, expecting to see Alice gracefully walk out but she didn’t…

The scavengers had spent the course of the day taking stock of the soldier’s supplies and rummaging through everything that was in the vehicles. Ironically, none of the scavengers had opened the body bag that contained the conjoined tokoloshe twins. They had also left Jeff’s body alone; apart from moving it under the tarp to where the six remaining soldiers were all tied up together. They were all seated on the ground next to the camping stretcher that Leigh had been secured to for the last three days. She was lurking close to them, despite the fact that she had been freed by her brethren. She was terrified of going back to Shaft-17 and she was desperately trying to think of a way to help the soldiers without alerting the Scavengers to what she was up to.

The Scavengers were all wondering what was going on with their commander. She wasn’t following any of her usual protocols with this group of soldiers. They weren’t blindfolded, gagged or separated. They were all kept together and allowed to see what was happening around them. Mandla was well aware of what Tanisha and Ncube were up to and he was keeping a close eye on the situation. He would decide what he wanted to do when he had more information, but until then he was keeping himself to himself as usual.

Tanisha had been avoiding the soldiers since she had seen Priyanka’s face, she hadn’t expected to find her sister here, not at all. Her mind was a ablaze of wildly differing thoughts and impulses. What must her sister be thinking? She was probably told that Tanisha was dead and what cover story could the government have used? Priyanka and her mother had been led to believe that Tanisha was a Zoologist who was specialising in protein farming, not an undercover operative. How was a silkworm specialist supposed to die? Were they told that the silkworms had cocooned her in a burst of apoplectic, silkworm fury? She shook her head, no that was preposterous. On the brightside, having her sister here should make bringing the soldiers into her confidence that much easier…


Tanisha shook the shock and daze from her mind and finally plucked up the courage to face Priyanka. She looked at Ncube and motioned him to join her, as soon as he was close enough she leaned in and whispered, “The little one is my sister.” He pulled back and looked at her with the same shocked expression that Jack and Priyanka had given her earlier that day. He breathed, “Well that makes things interesting.” She nodded and walked over the soldiers.


She looked at the Scavengers who were guarding them and said, “Piss off you lot, I want to have a word with the prisoners here.” A particularly weather beaten looking and toothless Scavenger sneered, “Aw Baas, we wanted to have some fun with them, especially with the women.” He grinned at Priyanka; Tanisha pointed a cruel looking Khukuri at him and snapped, “If you lay ONE HAND on any of the Mistress’ prisoners then I’ll cut your balls off myself! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” The Scavenger looked shocked when he said, “But Baas, we always have fun with the women.”


Like a flash, Ncube jabbed the stock of his R4 into the Scavenger’s temple, knocking him down. He shouted, “THE BOSS GAVE YOU AN ORDER! NOW GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!” He glared at Leigh and said, “That includes you, now MOVE!” The soldiers watched the exchange in amazement, the level of savagery displayed between comrades was completely foreign to them. A thick stream of blood oozed down the side of the Scavenger’s face, but he found the strength to pick himself up and move unsteadily away from the group.


Tanisha looked deep into Priyanka’s eyes for several moments before she moved to Gloria. She crouched down in front of the muscular woman and gently caressed the InstaLawn in front of her. After a few minutes had passed she looked looked Gloria in the eyes and said, “I haven’t seen grass this green in quite a while.” Gloria’s neck stiffened and her eyes narrowed, she breathed deeply for a few moments before replying, “You’d almost thinking that it’d been raining.” Tanisha smiled and dropped her gaze to the floor again before completing the sequence of phrases, “I miss feeling the wind on my face.” Gloria sighed, “As do I.”


The rest of team were very confused as they observed at the two women’s exchange. Tanisha nodded and sat down facing Gloria, Priyanka and Jack. Ncube remained standing and proceeded to guard the conversation that ensued from the rest of the Scavengers. Mandla was watching everything from a discrete distance.


Tanisha spoke quietly, “I’m sorry for the loss of your comrades, I was really hoping to find a full complement of you here.” Gloria’s eyes were still narrow when she quietly said, “Your contact phrases are more than two years old.” Tanisha looked at her again when she replied, “Just over three to be more exact.” Gloria persisted, “How can we trust you? How do we know that you didn’t torture them out of someone else?”


Vusi, Josephina and Cecil watched the exchange in confusion but it was Priyanka who looked from one woman to the other and said, “It’s simple, she’s my sister.” Gloria’s eyes widened and she breathed, “Well shit.”


Tanisha nodded, blinking back tears, when she said, “It’s so good to see you!” Priyanka blinked back her own tears and replied, “Where the hell have you been? I knew that you didn’t die the way they said you did.” Tanisha asked, “What did they say and how is mom?” Priyanka responded, “They said that you fell into a vat of experimental, silkworm, growth media and you weren’t wearing a life jacket. Mom went nuts! You were always the top swimmer in school, there was no way that you would drown like that.” Tanisha shook her head and quietly said, “I can’t say too much right now, but I’ve been undercover for the last three years. I’ve been with a group that call themselves Scavengers and they’re headed by a crazy woman who calls herself the Mistress.”


Vusi’s eyes brightened for a moment when heard the name Scavengers, he and Jeff had been right at the ambush. He turned to say something to Jeff but then he remembered that his best friend was dead. He leveled a morose gaze at Jeff’s body and kept quiet.


Jack quietly said, “We’ve heard a little bit about this Mistress from Leigh, she told us that more of her people would be coming here.” Tanisha tilted her head to the side when she heard that, Jack had almost forgotten just how beautiful she was. She asked, “Leigh said that more of the Mistress’ people were coming here? We weren’t sent here, we were sent to find the people who ambushed you.” Jack looked at her quizzically and said, “Jabu’s people? They attacked us a week ago.” Tanisha nodded and said, “Yeah, we were sent out four days ago to find them and we did. We’ve been tracking you ever since and your tracks lead us here.”


Cecil looked at her skeptically and asked, “You guys tracked us? How?” Tanisha answered, “One of my people is the best tracker you’ve ever seen. He deciphered what happened at the ambush site. As soon as we discovered that Jabu and his people were taken down by the military then we came looking for you guys. Ncube and I have been trying to get back to Roodepoort for more than a year now.”


Gloria looked at Ncube and said, “I was wondering what the hell he was doing with you lot, I remember him from the Namaqualand drills a few years ago.” Tanisha nodded again and said, “He was captured with his family when they were on their way to Pretoria from Simon’s Town a few years ago.” Gloria’s eyes widened as she said, “Five-Commando? They disappeared two years ago without a trace. We sent out search parties but we couldn’t find any sign of them.” Tanisha carried on nodding, she seemed to be as fond of the gesture as Jack was, “Yep, Five-Commando. The Mistress’ people took all of them.” Vusi quietly said, “Shit, they were bad-ass, if these people got them then…” Tanisha didn’t let him finish, “They are as good and as scary as you think.”


Jack brought the conversation back to the point they were making originally, “But you weren’t sent here specifically.” Tanisha shook her head and said, “No, we weren’t. I don’t know why Leigh would think that.” She glanced at the Unimog and said, “It looks like Jabu’s team got one of yours, I’m sorry about that. What happened to the other guys down there?” She jerked her head to where the body bag and Jeff were lying on the InstaLawn. Jack and Priyanka looked at each other and then Cecil and Gloria. Jack said, “There’s some pretty weird stuff going on here, we need to get out of here ASAP!”


Tanisha nodded again and said, “Ncube and I are working on that, we have a rough plan of how we’re going to free you all and then take the rest of the Scavengers prisoner.” She looked around furtively when she continued, “I can’t say to much more now, but we’re going to get you some food and water to keep your strength up. I don’t want to alert my people to what we’re doing here so be ready to move tonight at around midnight.” Jack tried to say something else but Tanisha stopped him.


With that she stood up and glared at the the group of soldiers. The entire exchange had taken place over an hour. As the last rays of sunlight crept up the side of the main building of the facility; Tanisha looked at her Sister and spoke loudly, “You’d better not be lying to me, or you’ll wish that you’d never been born! The Mistress will decide what to do with all of you!” Priyanka glared defiantly into her Sister’s emerald green eyes without saying a word.






Tanisha looked towards the main building and simultaneously raised her R4 assault rifle. The body of the Scavenger that she’d sent up to be on overwatch had just landed with a wet thud on the ground. The soldiers and scavengers raised their eyes to the top of the building where they were greeted with the sight of Alice standing on the roof, flanked by two creatures on either side of her.


Ncube said, “What the hell?”


Mandla had always been deeply superstitious and his eyes widened in fear as he whispered, “Tokoloshe…”


Jack calmly said, “Untie us now, or we’re all dead.”

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 22

Sunday 26th December 2032, 06:59


“LT… LT, do you copy?”


“Boss… Boss, do you copy?”


“Vus… Come on man Vus, answer me Boet!”


“Pri… Pri, do you copy?”


Jeff was starting to get very nervous. It had been nearly twenty minutes since he’d had any contact with the rest of the team. He was standing guard at the top of the elevator shaft and he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone, or something was watching him…


Cecil’s voice came clearly through his ear-piece, “Still no luck Jeff?” His reaction was to needlessly shake his head and say, “Nah Boet. I’m starting to worry about these okes and it’s bloody creepy down here! I’m going to go down and see what’s happening.” Cecil quickly answered, “No need. I still have their video feeds coming through. The feeds aren’t completely clear but everyone seems to be okay; it looks like the vaults are empty.” Jeff’s head shot up, “Empty? How the hell is the vault empty?” The shrug of Cecil’s shoulders was audible when he said, “I have no idea but they’ve opened six separate rooms down there and they’re all empty.”


Jeff shook his head again and angrily said, “Damn it man, do you mean to say that all of this was for nothing? The Sarge was killed by one of these things for nothing?” It was Cecil’s turn to needlessly shake his head when he said, “It’s too early to tell, I can’t hear their audio, I can only see their video feeds. Perhaps they’ve just gone down the wrong corridor. They look like they’re starting to make their way back to you.” Jeff nodded and said, “Good, I can’t wait to get the hell out of…”


Before he could finish his sentence, two incredibly long and powerful hands seemed to materialize next to either side of his head. With lighting fast speed and the strength of a vice they closed on Jeff’s head, quickly turning it and snapping his neck. Cecil was bewildered as he watched the footage of Jeff’s helmet camera suddenly flick to the side before he fell down the elevator shaft. Cecil was sure that the camera caught a flicker of filthy, blonde hair before Jeff disappeared down the elevator shaft.


“OH MY GOD!” were the only words that he could muster. Josephina had been faithfully glued to the long range camera monitors, following Jack’s orders for the entire duration of the interior team’s latest foray into the Facility. She had been trying not to blink, in case she missed anything, and she didn’t take her eyes off the monitors when she asked, “What’s going on?” The two of them ignored Watson’s low growl as he stalked off from under Leigh’s camping stretcher and disappeared around the vehicles.


Cecil was still shocked when he stammered, “Something’s just happened to Jeff. I think someone just killed him.” Josephina tore her eyes away from her monitors to look at Cecil’s saying, “WHAAAT?” Cecil pointed at his screen and said, “Look! He just fell down the elevator shaft! I think that someone either pushed him or broke his neck.” Josephina was staring in horror at Jeff’s motionless video feed of the InstaLawn covered floor at the bottom of the elevator shaft. She started to speak over the tac comm system, “Jeff? Jeff, come in! Jeff do you copy, over?”


By this time the rest of the interior team had moved into the range of the booster antenna, with Jack and Vusi dragging the body of the conjoined tokoloshe twins back to study. Gloria asked, “Joe, what’s going on? Why are you calling Jeff?” Cecil answered, “G-LT, it looks like Jeff has fallen down the elevator shaft, go and check on him NOW!” Gloria and Priyanka looked at each other and sprinted down the corridor towards Jeff, following the transponder signals as they went. Jack and Vusi swore simultaneously, dropped the body they were dragging and sprinted after the two women. Cecil watched the video feeds while the four soldiers followed the transponder signals back to the base of the elevator shaft.


Before the interior team reached Jeff; Cecil and Josephina heard Leigh scream. Cecil turned around to see what Leigh was screaming at but found himself staring down the barrel of an old R-4 assault rifle. His eyes moved from the barrel of the rifle to the person who was holding it. He was taken aback when he looked into a pair of sunglasses, partially covering a breathtakingly beautiful face.


Kumeshnee looked Cecil in the sunglasses and quietly said, “Don’t move.” Mandla was covering Josephina with his AK-47 and Ncube was watching Leigh with his R-4 assault rifle at the ready. Ncube calmly spoke to Leigh, “Don’t scream again.” The nineteen year old was crying uncontrollably because she was terrified of being taken back to Shaft-17 and she knew what kind of reputation Kumeshnee and Ncube had. Cecil’s eyes darted to Josephina and Leigh, he immediately noticed that Watson was nowhere to be seen.


Kumeshnee quietly asked Cecil, “Who’s on Overwatch, where is it?” Cecil didn’t say a word, his mind was racing, he counted eight intruders that he could see but he was sure that there would be more around the facility. Kumeshnee found herself at a crossroads; she needed to make the Scavengers believe that she was still in charge and on their side, but she didn’t want to alienate the soldiers before she’d had a chance to bring them over to her side. The interior team were chatting excitedly amongst themselves in Cecil and Josephina’s earpieces but the two of them had more pressing matters to focus on.


She spoke again and her voice was edged with death, “Don’t Fuck with me and don’t make me ask you again, where is Overwatch and who is up there?” Cecil locked sunglasses with this deadly beauty but kept his lips closed. Josephina saw Kumeshnee’s finger tighten on the trigger of her R-4 and the young Medic was terrified at the prospect of another one of her comrades being killed. She blurted out, “There’s no one on Overwatch! They’re all in the Basement.”


Gloria’s voice crackled through Cecil and Josephina’s earpieces, “What was that Joe? What did you say about Overwatch and the basement?” Kumeshnee’s eyes narrowed as she said, “You can thank your girlfriend for saving your life. How many of you are down there?” Josephina answered again, “Five.” Priyanka’s voice came through their earpieces this time, “Five? Joe, did you just say five? Joe? Cecil?”


Kumeshnee nodded saying, “Stand up and put your hands on your head, do it slowly.” Cecil and Josephina complied, all the while Cecil’s eyes were scanning his immediate environment. Josephina’s eyes were also looking around and she kept silently berating herself, ‘How did they get in? How could I have let this happen? I’ve failed everyone! You had ONE job Joe!


Cecil noticed that the Indian woman was watching him the whole time that he was taking in his surroundings. He found this strange because usually if you wanted to take prisoners, you didn’t want them to be aware of their surroundings and you especially didn’t want them to note the details of your numbers and equipment. Kumeshnee calmly watched Cecil as his eyes moved around the scene before him, studying each visible Scavenger, their equipment and their placement in the camp. Before his eyes returned to her’s, Cecil couldn’t resist trying to sneak a glance at the Q-5 pulse rifle that was propped up next to the communications gear next to him.


Kumeshnee noticed what he was looking at and quietly said, “Oh no, don’t even think about it. You’re not going to waste your life on that. Move!” She indicated the direction that she wanted him to move in and he complied again. He swore to himself for being such an idiot by giving away the position of his weapon. He quickly rationalized that they would’ve seen it soon enough anyway. Kumeshnee had been studying Cecil while she’d allowed him to study the Scavengers. He looked young to her and skinny, too skinny to be a Recce. She reminded herself that she hadn’t had any real contact with the armed forces in three years and that things could have changed in that time. She thought to herself, ‘Well something sure as hell has changed if they’ve come this far West.’


She decided to try one of the covert pass phrases that she had learnt to signal any Recces that she might come across in the area. She moved closer to Cecil and quietly said, “I haven’t seen grass this green in quite a while.” Cecil didn’t answer, he simply gave her a very confused look and that confirmed her suspicions that he wasn’t a Recce.


Jack’s voice cracked like a whip through Cecil’s earpiece, “C! C, we found Jeff, he’s down. You’re right, he’s down… C? Cecil! We’re going to bring him and the twins up.” Cecil couldn’t hide the surprise in his face, he’d been so intent on studying the intruders that he hadn’t even thought about the interior team. He gave Josephina a sidelong glance and he could immediately see in her face that she had heard Jack as well.


Kumeshnee didn’t miss a beat, she saw the look that the two soldiers exchanged and tightened her grip on her assault rifle. She quietly asked, “Has your interior team just contacted you? Don’t speak, just nod or shake your head.” Cecil looked at Kumeshnee but he refused to answer the question. She was starting to get frustrated because she knew exactly what he was doing; denying the enemy information and why he was doing it; to try and give his friends any kind of advantage or not betray them. But she needed the information and she needed him on her side while playing coy with the Scavenger Team. She took a step forward and said, “Nod or shake your head if you want to see any of them again!”


Kumeshnee knew how the tac comm system worked, the laryngophones activated as soon as the soldier’s throats started to move. It was an ingenious device that the gained popularity with military units since German Luftwaffe pilots had started using them in the second world war. Josephina didn’t crumble this time, she was upset with herself for giving the intruders any information and she spoke loudly and clearly when she said, “I count eight on the surface!”


Mandla moved without hesitation, he jabbed the stock of his AK-47 into Josephina’s mouth, splitting her lip in the process. Without thinking, Cecil lunged for Mandla in an attempt to help his friend and comrade. Kumeshnee swore, she had no choice but to slam the hard, steel stock her R-4 assault rifle into the back of Cecil’s head, knocking him out. She swore again and wanted to bark a rebuke at Mandla but she directed it to Josephina instead, “You think you’re helping your friends down there? You’re only hurting yourselves!”


She turned around and shouted, “Bongi! Cathy! Come and carry this one over to Leigh.” Kumeshnee pointed at Cecil before she turned to Mandla and said, “Take her there as well and tie them up together.” Mandla nodded and walked around Josephina to cover her as Kumeshnee started walking over to where Leigh was plasticuffed to the camping stretcher. Leigh was still crying when she said, “War Scavenger Kumeshnee… I can explain…” Kumeshnee put her hand up saying, “No need Leigh. We know that your ambush was unsuccessful and that this lot took you prisoner.” Leigh looked terrified and confused, Kumeshnee wasn’t acting like the War Scavenger that Leigh had heard about.


Kumeshnee glanced at Ncube, who didn’t bat an eyelid at the lie that she had just told, she looked at Mandla who also looked on implacably. Mandla’s inscrutable expression worried Kumeshnee, she was expecting him to look confused or to challenge her, but his deeply wrinkled face remained a mystery to her. She said, “Ncube, cut Leigh free.” Ncube did look nervous about this command, but he obeyed nevertheless. Kumeshnee gestured at Leigh, Josephina and Cecil while she spoke to Bongani and Cathy, “You two, stand guard over them. Don’t you dare shoot or hurt any of them!” They both nodded at their commander. She walked up to Josephina and Cecil and unplugged their tac comm systems from the battery packs that they wore on their belts saying, “Let’s not have give your friends anymore helpful information.”


She continued, “Ncube, Mandla and Godfrey, come with me. Let’s welcome our guests when they come out into the light.” The four scavengers moved over to the entrance of the main building and organised themselves into a standard ambush formation. Nothing happened for another twenty minutes; in that time Cecil came too and found himself tied to Josephina. Josephina looked absolutely terrified, she wasn’t worried about the Scavengers at this point, she was worried because she knew that the interior team’s oxygen levels were dangerously low by now.


Eventually the interior team emerged from the main building. Jack and Vusi were carrying Jeff’s body while Priyanka and Gloria were dragging the body bag that contained the conjoined twins. The four Scavengers quickly surrounded the soldiers with their weapons at the ready. Gloria dropped her corner of the body bag to snatch up her AA12 automatic shotgun, Priyanka did the same with her Q-5 assault rifle. Jack and Vusi dropped Jeff’s body to grab their weapons as well; both of them knew that Jeff would have been more upset if they hadn’t tried to make a stand, than having his corpse dropped on the soft InstaLawn.


Ncube screamed, “YOU’RE SURROUNDED! DROP YOUR WEAPONS!” The four soldier’s didn’t budge and two more armed Scavengers appeared on either side of them. Kumeshnee shouted, “DROP THEM! DON’T WASTE YOUR LIVES HERE!”


The thick, rubber SCBA masks, that the soldiers wore, muffled the voices of the scavengers but their words were clear enough. The interior team knew that they didn’t have a chance; their O2 systems had been screaming a low oxygen warning to all of them for the last fifteen minutes. The SCBA masks and blinding sunlight also reduced visibility for the soldiers; this combined with the heavy and cumbersome HAZMAT suits meant that they definitely didn’t have the upper hand in this situation.


Jack saw Cecil and Josephina tied up in the distance and he was the first one to put his hands and Q-5 up in surrender. He spoke over the tac comm system, “We know what Joe was talking about now. Listen to them guys, we’ve lost enough over the last few days.” Priyanka did as she was ordered too and Vusi followed suit, Gloria kept her shotgun trained on the nearest Scavenger. Jack said, “G-LT give it up for now, we’re running out of air here.” Gloria reluctantly lowered her weapon and raised her hands.


Ncube shouted, “GOOD CHOICE! Now drop your weapons, move into the shade and take the gear off!” The soldiers complied. Kumeshnee followed them to the shade, where she took her sunglasses off and ran a hand through her filthy hair. Jack and Priyanka managed to pull their SCBA masks off at the same time and they both looked at Kumeshnee.


Jack and Priyanka couldn’t hide their shock as they both looked at Priyanka’s sister who was staring in shock back at the two of them.


(I usually use free stock imagery for my images but I found this one on pinterest. I am not presenting this image as my own work.)

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 21

Sunday 26th December 2032, 06:35


The glowing eyes of the tokoloshes had been following the team since they turned the first corner, after coming down the elevator shaft. The creatures were staying just out of the light thrown from from the team’s flashlight beams. Jack couldn’t shake the nagging sensation that there was something sinister waiting for them in the bowels of the Facility. He was also worried about the surface team, Cecil and Josephina were completely exposed without anyone on overwatch duty.


The interior team followed the transponder signals, on their heads up displays, as they wound their way through the corridors of the basement. The familiar patches of missing InstaLawn still dotted the walls and floors of the tokoloshe’s home. The creatures evidently still had a healthy appetite for genetically modified lawn dressing. Jack brought the interior team to a halt at the corridor where they had seen the yellow InstaLawn, the day before. He said, “Alright everyone, this is the corridor. Thankfully the radio transponders have been working perfectly up until now.”


Eerie, glowing eyes appeared at the ends of each corridor, Vusi said, “Shit, how many of these things are there down here?” Priyanka replied, “Too many. Each of these things was once a person. How many people have they experimented on to get this right?”


Jeff’s voice crackled through the tac comm system from where he was on guard at the elevator doors, “How’s it going down there?” Gloria responded, “We’re at the corridor and we’re being watched by a hell of a lot of these things, what’s happening up there? Do you still have the package?” Jeff was standing next a tokoloshe corpse that was sealed in a bodybag, waiting to be vacuum packed on the surface. He said, “So far everything’s quiet up here, especially my new found buddy next to me. The surface team seems to be okay as well but they can’t contact you.” Jack piped up with, “That was to be expected and your signal isn’t coming through as clear as it was. We’re heading down the corridor to find the vault now.” Jeff said, “Copy that. Try to stay in contact as long as you can, it’s creepy as hell up here alone.” Jack replied, “Copy that, we’re heading out now.”


The team started to move down the corridor where the InstaLawn was turning a distinct shade of yellow. As they moved further down the passage; the InstaLawn covering the walls and floor started to thin out noticeably and the ceiling soon became completely bare. They stopped at each door to look at the room name and number. Half way down the corridor the InstaLawn was completely gone and the team were confronted with the unusual sight of bare concrete and brick. Eventually Priyanka called them to a halt outside a room with a locked security gate in front of it, “Here it is, Room 4462: Primary Osmium Storage.” Jack said, “Nice work Pri. Vusi bring up the angle grinder, let’s get in there. Jeff how do you copy?”


Jeff’s voice crackled through their earpieces indistinctly. Jack swore and said, “What the hell is going on with the comms? The booster antennae should give us a clear signal down here. Vusi take a crack at that lock, Pri and G-LT cover him, I’m heading back to the end of the corridor to check on Jeff.” Everyone said, “Check.” Vusi started the angle grinder while Jack stalked off down the corridor with his Q-5 pulse rifle at the ready.


He kept trying Jeff over the tac comm system until eventually Jeff’s voice crackled through, “LT? LT do you copy?” Jack breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Copy that Jeff, how are you holding up?” Jeff laughed and said, “Apart from shitting myself I’m okay. Man, the comms are totally crap down here.” Jack said, “Copy that, Vusi’s cutting through the lock of the vault’s security gate now and then we’ll take a crack at the door. Stay frosty up there.” Jeff replied, “Will do LT, you okes stay frosty as well.” Jack replied and then moved back down the corridor to the rest of the team.


By this stage Vusi had successfully cut the lock off the security gate. He switched off the angle grinder and said, “That’s one down, now one to go.” Gloria replied, “Nice work, now stop yapping and get on with it!”


Vusi pulled the security gate open and started the angle grinder up again. Priyanka asked Jack, “How’s Jeff?” Jack gave her a thumbs up and said, “So far so good, Vusi’s making quick work of this.” as he gestured to the security gate and door to the vault. The angle grinder cut through the last lock on the door and Vusi switched it off saying, “Well that certainly made the cut.” He looked at his comrades, none of whom laughed at his feeble attempt at humour. He shrugged and said, “Jeff would get it.” Gloria piped up with, “Oh no, we got it; it just wasn’t funny.” Vusi just shook his head and put the angle grinder down.


He moved to open the doors to the vault with a flourish saying, “Ladies and Lieutenant Vanilla may I present to you, a room full of –




As Vusi opened the door, it seemed as though two creatures lunged out of the vault at him. He collapsed under their weight screaming, “GET THEM OFF ME! GET THEM OFF ME! I’M UNDER ATTACK!” Gloria swiftly moved next to the creatures with her AA-12 at the ready but she hesitated for a moment. Then she smoothly kicked the body off Vusi and said, “It’s dead! Calm down, it’s just a corpse.” Vusi crawled and shuffled away from the dead body and struggled to get up in his heavy HAZMAT suit. He shouted, “What the hell is a dead tokoloshe doing in there?”


The rest of the team had their weapons at the ready; they were scanning the corridor, the entrance to the vault and the corpse in turn. Jack said, “What the hell? This one has two heads and three arms! How the hell did they make a creature with two heads?” Vusi reiterated his previous question, “And why the hell was it locked in there?” Priyanka was also studying the creature very carefully when she said, “This thing has probably been dead for ages but its facial features are still partially recognisable. The high levels of CO2 down here must have retarded its decomposition.” Jack asked, “Do you think they were able to combine two people to make this thing?” Priyanka shook her head and said, “If we ignore the two legs and three arms that this thing has and focus on its facial features… They’re similar enough for me to hazard a guess that these were once conjoined twins.” Jack whistled and said, “Damn, this people will experiment on anyone. Get some footage of it for Cecil. The rest of us will grab as much Osmium as we can carry and get the hell back topside.”


Gloria had ventured into the vault while Jack and Priyanka had been studying the two headed creature. She firmly said, “That’s going to be a problem Jack, a BIG problem. There isn’t anything in here.” Jack shone his flashlights into the vault as he entered it asking, “What do mean there’s nothing in here?” He scanned the empty shelves that lined the walls of the vault. The entire interior of the vault had been stained black after years of exposure to the toxic material. Sure enough Gloria hadn’t been joking; the shelves were completely empty. She simply said, “Exactly that, there’s nothing in here…”


Saturday 25th December 2032, 09:24


Precious was looking at the young woman on the table with a mixture of confusion, disappointment and anger. The subject didn’t appear to be breathing and she hadn’t responded to any kind of stimulus for more than twenty four hours. Without turning away from the woman she quietly asked, “De Wet, why did you kill her without transforming her completely? You promised me that this would be the most successful transformation yet.” De Wet was also looking at the body of the naked woman; he was completely unperturbed when he lisped, “She’s not dead, she’s just sleeping. She needs her strength Ms Precious. Look at her arms, hands and feets. Look and see how the transformation is complete there.”


Precious snapped, “She’s not sleeping you idiot, you’ve failed me! She’s dead! What the hell went wrong this time?” De Wet looked at Precious sharply, he didn’t respond well to being shouted at. Precious continued, “Why are you trying to disappoint me De Wet? What have I done to warrant this treatment from you? Hhhmmm? You promised me that the Osmium was the key. You promised me that if you got the Osmium, then you could make the procedure work. You’ve had the Osmium for two years now. Must I have you locked in the box again? Must I hurt Matron again?” De Wet started to quiver noticeably.


Precious had only locked him in the box once before; after he had refused to continue working on Project Tokoloshe when Eve had died. The box was just wide enough for him to stand in and the only opening was the top of it, through which a light constantly shone. The opening to the box was actually an old outhouse toilet seat. The only time the light was blocked out, was when Kgosi would sit above De Wet and either urinate or defecate on him. Two days of this treatment hadn’t worked so Precious decided to try it on De Wet’s caretaker, Matron. Matron was a seventy six year old woman and she had become the only person whom De Wet truly loved and trusted. She was locked in the box and after only one of Kgosi’s evacuations, which was fuelled by two portions of extra-spicy chakalaka, De Wet relented and agreed to go back to work on transforming young women for Precious.


De Wet’s voice jumped up an octave when he said, “I promise Ms Precious, she’s only sleeping.” Precious glared at De Wet and quietly said, “Kgosi, have the cook prepare a double portion of extra-spicy chakalaka for you and put Matron in the Box again.” De Wet started to sob and he reiterated through his tears, “I promise you My Mistress, she’s only sleeping.” Kgosi walked through the plastic, strip curtain as the woman on the table suddenly gasped for air and opened her eyes. Precious started clapping her hands like an excited, young girl and called after Kgosi, “Kgosi, cancel the box and the chakalaka, tell cook to bake a cake for Matron and De Wet instead.” Kgosi called back, “Yes My Mistress.” He was actually incredibly disappointed because he loved putting people in the box and he loved extra-spicy chakalaka.


Precious walked up to the operating table to look at the young woman. She stared into her sallow, yellow eyes and immediately noticed that she couldn’t discern the woman’s sclera. Precious happily cooed, “Hello my beautiful Anel.” The young woman was breathing heavily when she asked, “Wh… Where… a… am… I?” Precious looked at De Wet excitedly when she said, “It can speak! Oh, well done De Wet!” The young woman continued, “Wh… Why can’t I move?” She started to thrash, seemingly ineffectually,  against her restraints. The hulking ‘nurse’ who assisted De Wet had seen this behaviour before; he quickly prepared a large dose of morphine, in an equally large syringe, for the newly transformed creature.


The huge man bent over the creature’s long arm to administer the sedative when suddenly her other hand broke free from the restraints. The creature’s long and powerful fingers ended in the characteristic claws of a tokoloshe and she buried them deep into the man’s throat. She pulled her head free from its restraints as well and screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?” Before she also buried her fanged teeth deep into the nurse’s face and ripped a large chunk of his cheek off his face. The hulking nurse dropped the syringe as he had other, more pressing things on his mind.


Precious immediately realised the danger that she was in. De Wet had screamed before fainting and Kgosi had already left to order a cake from the cook. Precious moved unnaturally quickly for her own bulk and snatched the syringe off the floor. Anel was chewing the nurse’s rubbery cheek while she continued to crush the life out of him with her powerful grip. Precious swiftly moved behind Anel and plunged the long needle of the syringe deep into the back of the creature’s head; pushing the plunger down as much as she could.


Anel let go of the nurse’s neck and swung her free hand behind her; inflicting a deep scratch on  Precious’ arm as she did so. Precious was really starting to panic now; she had only been able to administer about half the morphine in the syringe to the creature. Precious backed up against the wall behind Anel, who was still chewing the mouthful of cheek. Anel looked around and shook her head, Precious could see the creature’s eyes starting to glaze over a little bit. The morphine appeared to take effect almost immediately as it flooded the top of creature’s spinal column.


In a second, uncharacteristic act of courage, Precious rushed forward to plunge the rest of the morphine from the syringe into the creature’s head. Anel took another swipe at Precious, but this one wasn’t as successful. She then reached behind her head and felt the syringe; she tried to pull it out but only succeeded in snapping the needle off in her head. A thin stream of blood, mixed with morphine started to flow out of the broken needle. Precious watched in terror as the creature continued to fight the effects of the powerful sedative.


Eventually Anel lost her battle and slumped over the side of the operating table in an unnaturally deep slumber. Precious looked at the sleeping tokoloshe and then turned her gaze to the unconscious De Wet Kruger, lying on the floor. She started to laugh hysterically. Her hysterical laughter lasted for several minutes before it eventually gave way to laughter that sounded far more controlled and far more sinister.


He had done it, De Wet had succeeded. Precious knew that nothing would stand in her way now.

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 20

Sunday 26th December 2032, 04:02


Kumeshnee and Ncube were lying on the hilltop overlooking the black mass that was the facility. After Ncube and Mandla had finished briefing her the previous evening Kumeshnee knew that this was the chance she had been waiting for. She’d woken Ncube up in the early hours of the morning and taken him to relieve the sentry on the hilltop.


She turned to look at him and said, “This is it, there’s no turning back now.” He replied, “Thank god for that, we can’t go back to that crazy bitch, I need to get Bongi out now.” She nodded and said, “We will, now you’re sure about everything you and Mandla saw, there are seven of them plus Leigh?” Ncube nodded saying, “Definitely, six of them man the camp, as usual and there’s one on overwatch. They definitely lost one of their own because we saw a body bag. Maybe one of Jabu’s people got lucky during the ambush.”


Kumeshnee shrugged and said, “Probably, shit I wish there were eight of them, that would make this much easier for us. It’ll be nine of us versus nine Scavs.” Ncube cut her off, “It’ll be TEN of us versus NINE Scavs, Bongi’s with us.” Kumeshnee had a flat expression on her face when she said, “I’m sorry Ncube but he’s already starting to show signs of withdrawal. We can’t rely on him to think straight when we spring this on all of them.”


Ncube’s anger made his voice rasp when he said, “Bongi’s with us! He’s MY son, he will follow ME!” Kumeshnee snapped, “Keep your voice down! He is your son and we WILL take him with us, but he’s also an addict and we can’t trust him right now. Before we make our move we’ll incapacitate him.” Ncube started to say something at that, but Kumeshnee cut him off, “We won’t hurt him, we’ll use some chloroform on him while he’s sleeping to keep him out of the way. He’ll wake up when we’re on our way to Roodepoort so just relax.”


Ncube was still livid but he held his tongue, the tough former soldier knew that she was right. He changed the subject, “How are we going to get the Recces and SciDivs on our side?” Kumeshnee quietly said, “At this point I’m hoping that this Gloria woman remembers you like you remember her.” She scanned the darkness around them before continuing, “When I was sent out here I was given some phrases to memorize in case I ran into any of our spec ops. I really hope that they haven’t expired.” Ncube nodded and said, “So what’s our play going to be when get in there?” She shrugged and said, “Exactly what we discussed last night, we go in there and take them prisoner. Hopefully we can lull this lot into a false sense of security and get the soldiers on our side. Then we jump the Scavs and head home ASAP.”


Ncube shook his head, “I don’t like it, there’s too much that can go wrong. We’re leaving too much to chance. What if we take the soldiers and then they shoot us after we’ve released them?” Kumeshnee shrugged again and said, “We’ve been surviving on chance up until now. All we can do is hope that we’re able to convince Gloria to take us with her once we’ve let them go. Even if they take us back as prisoners it’s better than going back to the Shaft.” Ncube shook his head again, “I still don’t like it. Look at what they did to Jabu and his crew, what if they do that to us as well?”


Kumeshnee was getting fed up with Ncube at this point, he didn’t seem able to decide if he wanted to carry on or not. She angrily whispered, “Look, if you have any better ideas then I’m all ears? We have no choice but to get in there and do this. The whole team knows that there are soldiers in there and that we have to take them back to the Shaft. If we duck and make a run for Roodepoort now then we’ll either have those bastards on our heels; or we leave the soldiers to deal with the Scavs alone and with no warning. The Hiluxes are fully charged but we’ll never make it to the base on a single charge. Even if we made to the base we’d still have to convince the gate guards not to shoot three people in an electric Hilux that look like bloody Roamers.”


Ncube swore under his breath, he knew that Kumeshnee was right but he was also terrified for his son. Kumeshnee surmised what was bothering him and said, “We’ll keep Bongi at the back when we go in and I’ll put the fear of the Mistress into the rest of the Scavs so that they don’t shoot any of the soldiers once we’re in there. I know that the plan’s shit but it’s the only one that has any chance of working at this point.” Ncube eventually nodded and said, “You’re right, it’s just…”


She finished his train of thought for him, “It’s just that we’re so close and we don’t want to mess it up now. I know, we’ve got one shot at this and all we can do is hope that chance stays on our side.” Ncube nodded again and whispered, “Well what time do you want to do this then?” Kumeshnee said, “We’ll start moving in from zero five hundred, You and Mandla can lead us to their camp.” Ncube said, “Okay, let’s go and wake those bastards up. I don’t want them to be too fresh before we do this.” She said, “Agreed, let’s get down there and crack on.”


As the two of them belly crawled off the hill that they’d been lying on, they didn’t notice Mandla sitting like a ghost only a stone’s throw away from them. The Tracker had heard every word they’d said.


Sunday 26th December 2032, 05:33


Cecil finished duct taping Jack’s gloves to his HAZMAT suit.


The team hadn’t re-entered the Facility on the previous day. Jack had decided that they needed to relax for an afternoon and try to enjoy what was left of their Christmas before heading back into the basement levels. Ironically it was Leigh who was enjoying her happiest Christmas in years. Her plasticuffs had been removed, she enjoyed a hot feast with some christmas fruit cake and she had spent most of the afternoon hugging and cuddling Watson. The Golden Retriever had grown rather fond of their unusual guest and he didn’t mind the extra attention.

The soldiers had kept a close watch on her but she had no intention of leaving without them. Despite the danger of the Mistress’ men returning, she was enjoying the food and company of the soldiers. She was also quite taken with the view that Jack provided when he was in camp. She genuinely felt safe with the commandos, a sensation that she hadn’t experienced for many years.

Gloria had removed herself from the rest of the team to be with her own thoughts. She didn’t stray far from Hannes’ body, which was in a vacuum-packed body bag on the back of the Unimog. Vusi eventually relieved Jeff from overwatch duty so that he could also enjoy some hot food and Christmas Fruit Cake.

Jack had managed to smuggle some cold beers off the base for them to enjoy on Christmas. Leigh was given Hannes’ beer and it was the most crisp and refreshing beverage that she had ever enjoyed. Josephina was starting to like the strange, young Scavenger. She found that having someone around that was her own age was nice. The other soldiers were all older and more experienced and she inevitably felt intimidated and nervous because of that. The time that she spent with Leigh was a welcome respite.


Jack looked at the four members who would be going back into the facility with him; Priyanka, Gloria, Vusi and Jeff were all geared up and ready to go. The team had plasticuffed Leigh to the camping stretcher again. Josephina would be monitoring the long range cameras at the overwatch station while Cecil kept an eye on the team’s video feeds from the basement.


Jack nodded to everyone and said, “Alright guys this is it. You all know the drill, we seem to have found the corridor where the vault should be so today we’re going to get it. From what we’ve seen on the video feeds we think that we’ve taken out the most violent tokoloshes down there and the rest of them have been keeping their distance. But keep your eyes peeled for the one that attacked Pri, we don’t know what happened to that thing. We’re also going to take one of the dead creatures back to base for the Lab Rats to look at; that’s why Pri’s taking a body bag with us. Jeff and Vusi have the portable angle grinders for the vault doors so we should be ready. Have you all filled up on water and ammo before we go down?”


Everyone nodded and said, “Check,” in turn. Vusi piped up with a question, “Will angle grinders be enough to get through vault doors, I mean won’t they be pretty hectic?” Jack shook his head and said, “From what Cherokee described to us; the security that surrounded this whole site essentially made the Facility a vault back in the day. The ‘vault’ where the Osmium is kept is essentially a big room with locked, regular, steel doors. It’s not like an actual bank vault from the old movies.” Vusi nudged Jeff’s arm and said, “I hope Cherokee’s right, I’d hate to lug his thing down there for nothing.” Gloria cut in with, “Grandma Cherokee hasn’t let us down yet, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.”


Jack nodded and continued, “Agreed, let’s get back on track. Now this is the last push to get what we came for and to get our asses back to base. We’re taking a big risk because we don’t have anyone on Overwatch and we’re going to lose comms down there so we have to do this by the numbers. Don’t dick around in the basement; stay with the group and if you see one of those things, don’t take any chances. Shoot first and ask questions later.” Everyone nodded again and Gloria had her face set in a grimace, that had been her plan the entire time.


Jack looked at Josephina and sternly said, “Joe, no matter what starts happening down there; don’t take your eyes off those long range cameras until we’re coming out the front doors. Leigh’s convinced that more people will be coming here at some point and you’re the only person watching our six out here.” She looked at him seriously, snapped to attention and said, “You can count on me LT, I won’t let you down!” He nodded and said, “Right everyone, let’s suit up and finish this!”


With that the interior team pulled their SCBA masks over their faces and brought their weapons to the ready. They opened the front doors to the main building and entered it for what they were hoping was the last time. The soldiers didn’t spend too much time checking the corridors and lower levels that morning. They were convinced that they had thoroughly checked everywhere the day before. The interior team made a quick stop at the booster antennae to swap out its battery and make sure that it was still working properly. They then quickly made their way down to the elevator shaft on the third basement level.


Alice and her four remaining hybrids watched the soldiers as they moved throughout the subterranean levels. The creatures had spent the previous day and night eating their fallen compatriot; while adjusting to the lower carbon dioxide content of air in the upper basement levels. This had made their movements slow and sluggish.


As the five soldiers came up to the elevator shaft Jack spoke over the tac comm system, “Okay, the doors are still closed and the carabiner’s in place.” Priyanka was looking at the floor in front of the elevator doors when she said, “Jack, G-LT, was the floor covered in blood yesterday when we came out of the shaft?” Gloria shone her flashlights on the floor in front of the doors and replied, “I don’t know, I don’t think so.” Jeff tried to allay their skepticism, “It looks old so it’s probably from the tokoloshes that G-LT took out when they snatched her.”


Jack was feeling nervous, he also hadn’t noticed the large puddle of dried blood on the previous day. He said uncertainly, “I don’t remember it either, but it does look coagulated. Cecil do you remember seeing a puddle of blood here on the video feeds from the previous days?” Cecil crisply said, “I don’t remember seeing anything but then again I was more interested in the creatures than the surroundings.” Priyanka asked, “What do you want to do? Do you want to carry on?” Jack swore and said, “We didn’t see anything on our way out yesterday and we haven’t seen anything this morning. We probably just didn’t notice it before so this doesn’t change anything. We’re going to carry on to the vault and if anything comes at us then we’ll just deal with it. Vusi and Jeff, get those doors open.”


Jack couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. The more he thought about it, the more he didn’t remember seeing the pool of dried blood during the previous incursions into the bowels of the facility. He also knew that they didn’t have any other choice but to complete their mission. They were so close to finishing now and they had already sacrificed so much in the process.


While Jeff and Vusi were opening the elevator doors with their crowbars; a group of ten Scavengers were making their way through the maze of fences and buildings in the Facility. Watson was lounging under the camping stretcher that Leigh was plasticuffed to. Cecil, Josephina and Leigh had no idea what was coming…

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 19

Saturday 25th December 2032, 12:46


The sunlight was blinding as Jack and his team exited the main building of the facility. Josephina was waiting for them with a powdered, vermiculite dusting unit. Swab tests of the team’s HAZMAT suits, from previous forays into the depths of the facility, had indicated that hazardous concentrations of various acids and sensitizing salts were present in the air down in the bowels of the facility. The vermiculite would absorb the hazardous coatings and it could be easily brushed off the suits, after they’d been left in the sun to dry for a while. This eliminated the team’s need to waste water, washing their gear down.


Once all of the team members had been sprayed with the powder; they all moved under the shade of a tarp near the vehicles to get undressed. As soon as Jack and Priyanka were out of their HAZMAT suits Cecil called them over to the communications rig. Jack and Priyanka could see that Cecil was particularly excited about something. The field scientist had been working on only about two hours of sleep from the night before. He had been glued to the computer screens, examining the footage that the interior teams had captured of their adventures in the facility. More importantly he had been examining and cataloging the creatures they had been fighting. The group had no idea that they were being watched by the most gifted tracker in South Africa, or a former comrade of theirs.


Cecil excitedly said, “Okay, I’ve been reviewing all of the footage from all of the helmet and rifle cams over the last three days. I’ve been able to identify fifteen distinct individual tokoloshes and between us we’ve killed nine of them. This excludes the very first one that the Sarge saw and the larger group that you guys saw this morning but; it includes the five that you killed from that group.” Jack nodded saying, “Good work. Does your visual evaluation tell us anything useful about them?”


Cecil nodded excitedly saying, “YES! Just like before, they’re all female, there’s no doubt about it. We haven’t seen a single male yet.” Priyanka shook her head saying, “How is it useful that they’re all chicks?” Cecil smiled and said, “It’s useful because if there aren’t any males then there shouldn’t be the pitter-patter of baby tokoloshe claws down there. So THAT means that there should be a finite number of these things for us to deal with; minus nine of course.” Priyanka nodded saying, “Okay I’ll admit that that is comforting.” Jack said, “Anything else?” Cecil’s smile grew even bigger, a feat the other two had thought impossible until that moment. He chuckled and said, “So MUCH more! When you run their faces through facial recognition software you quickly see that they bare no similarity to each other at all. Basically they don’t appear to be related in any way, which helps our theory that they are made!”


By this stage Gloria and Josephina had joined the three of them and it was Josephina who uncharacteristically cut in, “But we already know that they’re made and why do we have facial recognition software? ” Gloria said, “We have the software to help build and cross-reference the Roamer database for HQ, but she’s right we already know that they’re made.” Jack put up his hand saying, “We do; but what C means is that if none of them are related, then the group responsible for the transformation has to tailor the procedure for each individual. This isn’t a batch process or a one size fits all procedure, am I correct?” Priyanka poked Jack in the ribs saying, “See, we’ll make a real scientist out of you yet.” He poked her back and said, “Ow! And Analytical Geochemistry IS a real science, thank you very much!”


Cecil put his hands up and said, “Now, now class calm down. May I continue?” When no one countermanded him he nodded saying, “Thank you. Now both of you are correct.” Before he could say anything else Josephina had put up her hand, it seemed that she didn’t pick up on Cecil’s subtle sense of humour when he said ‘class’. Cecil smiled and said, “Yes Joe?” She stammered, “Um, I don’t look anything like my brothers so surely they can still be related even if they don’t look alike?” Cecil shook his finger at Josephina when he answered her, “For shame Joe! You’ve forgotten your genetics lectures; the software can cross-reference whether individuals are related by comparing the shapes of their pinnae. If they’re visible and thankfully they are for fourteen of our ferocious, female foes.”


Josephina blushed furiously, wishing that the InstaLawn would cover her right then and there. Priyanka came to her rescue by rolling her eyes and saying, “How long have you been working on that stupid alliteration?” He was a bit crestfallen when he replied, “Actually I came up with it this morning while you guys were being attacked.” Priyanka looked genuinely shocked when she said, “Well it’s nice to know that you were worried about us.” Cecil looked a little bit ashamed of himself when Jack cut in, “Alright, let’s get back on track children, so we know for a fact that at least fourteen of these things aren’t related.”


Gloria felt a pang of sympathy for the young medic and she put her hand up to ask a question as well. Cecil looked surprised and said, “Yes G-LT?” She asked, “Why can’t we tell if the fifteenth tokoloshe is related to anyone else?” To which Cecil replied, “Well Jack’s girlfriend is the only one with a full head of hair so we can’t see her ears.” Jack looked at Cecil sharply when he said, “My what?” Cecil grinned mischievously and Gloria started to laugh before she said, “Nice one Vanilla, good luck for your first date.” Priyanka and Josephina soon joined Gloria in a chorus of laughter when Jack simply gave them all the finger before saying, “Well at least she has excellent taste in men. C if these tokoloshes were in fact human beings. Do you think that they bare enough of a resemblance to their human-selves to run their faces through the database and see if we get any hits.”


Cecil looked a bit sheepish when he said, “That’s a good idea, I didn’t even think of that.” Priyanka piped up with, “Why, are you looking for your girlfriend’s number?” Jack gave her a meaningful look over the ensuing laughter when he said, “Perhaps.” He winked at her second shocked expression for the day and carried on, “Let’s see if these ladies have any kind of known history or affiliations, perhaps that will shed some light on this Mistress character and her people.” Cecil nodded saying, “I’m on it!”


Gloria felt the need to contribute something else to the conversation and asked, “So what else do you have for us? You said that there was so much more.” Cecil blinked several times without answering, the rest of the team could see that he was exhausted. He finally said, “Yes, yes, there is so much more.” His fingers flew over the keys of the keyboard as he called up two different video feeds, showing the creatures, who had pulled Gloria away from the team the day before. Priyanka shot a surreptitious glance at the tall recce to see how she was coping with reliving the previous day’s experience. Gloria’s face was mask of emotionless stone as the videos were paused to show the creatures in horrifying detail.


Jack felt a bit uneasy watching the footage with Gloria but he wanted to know what Cecil was going to say. Cecil took a pen and started to point at the screen when he said, “Now here we see two of the creatures; both of them are tall, very lean, grey skinned and they are wearing the remnants of clothing. Pay special attention to their eyes, they have that sallow, yellow look to them and it looks like the yellow is actually the iris.” Priyanka was no longer looking at Gloria, but rather at the screen when she said, “Iris? It looks like the there isn’t any kind of disernable difference between the iris and the sclera.”


Gloria rolled her eyes and said, “When will you people speak English?” Josephina found the courage to say, “They mean that we can’t see where the iris ends and the white part of the eye begins because there is no white part.” Gloria said, “Thanks Joe.” Cecil continued, “Well there’s no visible sclera, which is interesting because humans are almost the only animals where the difference between the sclera and the iris is always visible.” Gloria asked, “Alright, but what does that MEAN?” Cecil shrugged and said, “We don’t know yet, it might help them to see in the dark but it definitely points towards a process where human traits have purposefully been repressed in order to make these things more animalistic. But if we carry on looking, these women are taller than G-LT, they almost look too tall and skinny. I mean you’re way taller than the average woman.”  


Gloria gave Cecil a withering look and he quickly changed the subject, “Also, look at their hands in relation to G-LT’s arms, they look like their twice the size of a regular human’s hands and they don’t even have thumbs! I mean G-LT’s arms are HUGE and these things have even bigger hands than that and look at the claws on the ends of their fingers!” Gloria’s eyes started to bulge from her eye sockets a bit and she even took a step towards Cecil.


Jack quickly said, “Okay C, we get the point, what else do you have for us?” Cecil’s tired fingers skipped over the keyboard again and another video popped up showing the corpse of the tokoloshe that Jeff had shot in the chest the previous evening. Cecil paused the video feeds from Jeff’s rifle camera and Jack’s helmet camera at two different parts of the creature. Its eyes had been frozen open death and Cecil started to point out, “Alright here we have an individual that looks like she’s of average size, if you compare her to Jeff’s boot in this image. This one doesn’t have any clothes on at all, we can’t tell if she ever did have clothes but if you look at her eyes, we see the same characteristics as the other two. Now, looking at her hands we see that she still only has four fingers per hand but two of them are thumbs!” Priyanka shivered and said, “Man, two thumbs on one hand and no thumbs on the other is just creepy. She also has those terrible claws.”


Josephina timidly said, “Everything about these things is creepy.” Jack nodded and said, “Agreed. Her hands look like they’re normal size.” Cecil excited said, “Exactly! Not only are their faces all different but some of their features are completely off as well.” Gloria shook her head and asked, “That’s all very interesting but what does is mean?” Priyanka put her hand up and said, “It means that whoever’s doing this is testing their procedure iteratively and probably trying to refine it.”


Cecil nodded excitedly again and said, “I concur! Now if we look at Mrs. Curtis.” Jack rolled his eyes and said, “Oh god, I can’t believe this!” Gloria laughed again while Cecil carried on typing on the keyboard and she piped up with, “Well in the space of ten minutes you’ve gone from seeing each other to being married. And to think, you didn’t even invite us to the wedding.” Jack shook his head, gave her the finger again and asked, “So what can you tell me about my lovely wife, who still has excellent taste in men.” Cecil clicked the mouse next to his keyboard and said, “Let’s watch the video and then we can discuss it.”


The five of them were glued to the computer screen as they watched Jack’s interaction with Alice from the previous evening. After she walked down the corridor and disappeared Cecil rewound the footage until he found the two close ups he wanted to discuss with the group.


He said, “Okay, ignoring her sassy and flirtatious hissing at Jack, what do you notice about Mrs. Curtis?” Jack said, “Apart from her evidently wonderful taste in men; she has white sclera like the rest of us.” Priyanka decided to back her best friend up and said, “Apart from her fantastic taste in men; she still has four fingers per hand and she only has one thumb on her right hand. The claws are still there though so I wouldn’t ask for a massage from her.” Gloria wanted to keep the joke going so she said, “Apart from her unfortunate taste in pasty white boys, she has a full head of hair that almost looks like it’s been brushed.”


Josephina had been completely engrossed in the footage and she quietly said, “She’s still wearing clothes and she walks like us. She’s actually incredibly graceful, almost as if she did gymnastics or ballet at some point in her life.” Josephina leaned into the monitor and continued, “She has a birthmark on left shoulder in the shape of…”  


Gloria started to say something when Josephina put up her hand to stop her. Josephina continued, “I know her. I know this woman! She did do ballet, we did ballet together as little girls. I know that birthmark I’m sure of it. I was about six at the time, it was just before the UN outlawed the use of fossil fuels. I remember because my mom tried to explain to me that I couldn’t do ballet anymore and I couldn’t understand why. What was her name now?” Gloria looked skeptical when she asked, “Are you sure you can remember a little girl that you knew for a little while when you were six? I can’t remember things from when I was fifteen.” Josephina nodded saying, “I remember that birth-mark and her hair, we were friends at the time, I always wondered what happened to her. What was name, I’m sure it started with an A; it was something like Alyssa or Alice or Alexis or something like that.”


Cecil interrupted her train of thought by saying, “Well if you do know her then that will make things interesting and you’re all right by the way. I’m trying to decide if she is a more advanced version of these things, because of her more human-like behaviour and physical traits, or if she’s an earlier version. We just can’t tell yet.”


Beep-Beep, Beep-Beep, Beep-Beep…


Everyone stopped to look at the screen that the beeping noise was emanating from. Jack’s eyes widened when he said, “Hot damn Joe. You were right, according to the Roamer database Mrs. Curtis is actually Alice Cronstead. Last known location was Bloemfontein, two years ago.” Priyanka asked, “So now for the real question; how did a blonde white girl from Bloem become a tokoloshe in Rustenburg?”

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 18

Saturday 25th December 2032, 12:12


Alice was crouched on top of an old, InstaLawn covered, filing cabinet patiently watching the open doors to the elevator shaft. She knew that the people in orange would eventually emerge from the shaft’s gaping maw. The five other tokoloshes that had crawled out of the shaft with her were scattered around the halls of basement level three. She was still deciding what to do with the one who had dropped from the ceiling onto the smallest of the orange people. She had disobeyed Alice’s wishes and restitution had to be made. Alice was determined to make an example of the one-eyed creature; but only after she had seen where the orange people were going.


Time moved differently for the older generations of hybrids; what would have felt like an eternity for a human being felt like mere moments for four of the creatures. Alice and her second’s perception of time were more akin to human perception. She knew that in her previous life, as a human, that she would have been extremely frustrated by this point. She found it curious that she was so emotionally detached from the frustration that should have been plaguing her thoughts while she waited. But she just sat on the filing cabinet and patiently watched the elevator shaft.


Alice cocked her head to the side when she heard InstaLawn being crushed under heavy rubber boots at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The one-eyed creature also heard the sound and started moving towards the entrance to the shaft. Alice hissed at the creature and she stopped to look at Alice. Dark blood was dripping from her ruined eye socket and she glared at Alice with her remaining eye.


The creatures heard the first of the soldiers grip the bottom rungs of the ladder in the shaft. Alice hissed at one-eye again who continued glaring at her for a moment before she receded into a dark corner once more. The heightened sense of hearing that De Wet had gifted the hybrids with had been honed by months, and even years for some of the older creatures, of isolation in the bowels of the facility.


The opening to the elevator shaft was bathed in eery light from the soldiers headlamps as they ascended the ladder. Once the first, gloved hand materialised from the shaft Alice closed her eyes. She had been watching the soldiers very carefully as they had moved throughout the basement levels of the facility. She had seen how the eyes of her ilk reflected the light from the soldiers’ flashlights. She also didn’t need her eyes in order the elucidate the movements of these orange interlopers. She used her finely tuned hearing to listen to the InstaLawn being crushed under their gloves and boots as they hauled themselves out of elevator shaft.


Alice could also hear the soldiers communicating, though she couldn’t make out what their mumbling voices were saying. The SCBA masks effectively muffled most of the sound that emanated from the strange, orange people. Alice had lost the ability to form words after her transformation had been completed, though she had completely retained her understanding of the english and afrikaans languages. She quietly counted the number of soldiers that she could hear coming out of the shaft;




three and…



Jack and his team stood at the entrance the elevator shaft sweeping the basement level with their flashlights and mumbling indistinctly to each other. Alice could hear the clank and grind of the shaft doors as they were pulled shut. The sound of the latch being secured with a carabiner was much quieter, but distinct nevertheless. Her closed eyelids were illuminated several times as stray beams of light gently brushed her once beautiful face. The sound of InstaLawn being crushed beneath heavy boots passed where she was crouched and eventually changed to the hollow thud of those same boots making their way slowly up the stairs towards the higher levels.


Alice couldn’t hear any doors being closed and as soon as the footfalls passed the first landing of the staircase she opened her glassy, citrin eyes. She patiently crouched on top of the filing cabinet until she couldn’t hear the soldiers any longer before she quietly moved towards the elevator shaft.


Once she reached the elevator shaft doors, she gently ran her clawed fingers over their smooth metal surface. Alice had no recollection of this side of the elevator shaft. She could vividly remember the laboratory and the operating theatre at Shaft-17 where her transformation had been performed without any anaesthetic. She had been asleep when the Scavengers had brought her to the facility. She had only woken up when her body had fallen two stories and painfully hit the floor at the bottom.


The fall had shattered her right hip, broken her right arm and cracked six ribs. Alice still remembered the pain that she endured as she lay in the same spot for two weeks while her miraculous, naked mole rat, metabolism healed her. She had lain in that spot eating the InstaLawn off the floor, urinating and defecating on herself. All the while she had thought of De Wet Kruger and Precious Ntaka’s faces. Alice was determined to find the people who had transformed her and left her for dead.


The one-eyed tokoloshe quietly shuffled up next to Alice and peered at the door that she was studying. This one was the oldest of the six creatures who had crawled out of the elevator shaft with Alice and she was the least human of the bunch. Alice had had trouble with her before, the one-eyed creature obeyed her own beastial instincts before she would acquiese to Alice’s wishes and Alice couldn’t allow that any longer.


The other four tokoloshes materialized from the various corners of the basement level and gathered around the two of them. The one-eyed tokoloshe looked at Alice and hissed. With a lightning fast movement; Alice ripped the creature’s jugular completely out of her throat. The one-eyed tokoloshe ineffectually clutched at her ruined throat while the remaining air in her lungs gargled out.


Alice ignored the dying creature as she fixed her deadly gaze on each of the remaining tokoloshes gathered around her. As they looked at her, she calmly raised the jugular that she was still holding to her mouth and started eating it. She could see in their eyes that her displeasure at being disobeyed had been successfully communicated to them.


Saturday 25th December 2032, 11:21


Mandla narrowed his eyes and whispered in afrikaans, “There’s a break in the fence over there.” Ncube didn’t bother trying to see what Mandla was looking at, he just nodded and followed the experienced tracker. Ncube still couldn’t tell the difference between what the InstaLawn was covering, only that it was covering some kind of vertical structure. The tracker’s ability to discern between different surfaces beneath the super grass was still a mystery to the former Recce.


Ncube covered Mandla with his R4 assault rifle as the tracker carefully cut a hole in the InstaLawn and disappeared through it. Ncube followed and he was confronted with more lush, greenery on the other side of the fence. Ncube softly whispered, “This place is huge, how are we going to find anyone in here?” Mandla didn’t bother answering and simply stalked off, following the side of the closest building. Ncube swore under his breath and followed him, the tracker irritated the former Recce to no end.


The two Scavengers quietly wound their way through the Facility for the better part of an hour; finding several dead ends and retracing their own steps more than once. Eventually Mandla stopped and held up his hand, Ncube instinctively stopped behind him with his weapon at the ready. Mandla quietly sniffed the air and then cocked his head to one side. Ncube quietly breathed through his nose trying to smell what Mandla had been sniffing, but he couldn’t smell anything. After what felt like an age had passed Mandla turned around without making a noise and held his finger up to his lips.


Ncube thought that it was fruitless gesture, considering that the two of them weren’t making any noise anyway. After a series of intricate hand gestures from Mandla, Ncube nodded. Essentially Mandla had told him that there was a group of people close by and they were cooking food. What Mandla couldn’t communicate with his hand gestures was just how delicious the food smelled to his exceptionally sensitive nose. Ncube nodded and the two of them moved in the direction of Jack’s team without making a sound.


At the corner of a squat building Mandla stopped and held up his hand again; by this time Ncube could smell the familiar aroma of military rations being heated in water. His stomach immediately started cramping with hunger pains and his mind was flooded with reminiscent memories of his former life with the Recces. Mandla lay down in a prone position with the stealth of a lion creeping through the savannah. Ncube followed suit and painstakingly belly crawled into position next to his unwilling comrade.


The two of them looked at the Soldiers’ camp in the Facility. Two land rover defenders and a large Unimog truck were parked in a standard triangular formation, ready to leave at any time. Ncube was mesmerised by the automated pruners on the bottoms of the vehicles; quietly and constantly whirring away, trimming the ever growing InstaLawn that was trying to cover them. Mandla couldn’t take his eyes off the Unimog. He hadn’t seen an operational vehicle that big since the use of fossil fuel had been banned by the United Nations all those years ago.


Off to one side was a some kind of command or communications post that was presided over by a man wearing the standard issue uniform of the South African Military. The two Scavengers couldn’t make out his face because his head was covered by a nutria boshoed and his face by a buff. Next to one of the Unimog’s tyres was a camping stretcher, under a simple tarp, with a young woman plasticuffed to it. She was sitting upright and wearing the ragtag clothing of a Scavenger. She was speaking to another small soldier who was in the same uniform as the man at the communications post. The small soldier appeared to be a woman and she was wearing what looked like a full-face, dust mask instead of a buff.


Jeff was on overwatch so Mandla and Ncube couldn’t see him, but Ncube had a feeling that someone else would be on top of the highest point keeping watch on the surrounding area. There was also a clearly visible vacuum-packed, body bag on the tailgate of the Unimog. Ncube surmised that the soldiers had lost one of their own at some point during the course of their mission. He knew that feeling all too well and his heart went out to his former compatriots in the camp.


The man at the communications post turned around and said something indistinct to the small soldier. She immediately fetched a standard medikit, as well as something that looked like a fire extinguisher, and made her way towards the largest building in view. A few moments later four soldiers in bulky, orange hazmat suits exited the building in standard, tactical formation. Ncube realised that the small soldier was the team’s medic and she proceeded to spray each of the soldiers with a fine powder that emanated from the extinguisher.


Once the dust had settled, the four figures made their way over to a shaded area near the vehicles where they proceeded to take off their hazmat suits. Ncube’s pulse quickened when he recognised Gloria. The two of them had been on several maneuvers together in previous years and he knew that she was the best of the best. He didn’t recognise any of the others but he knew that if Gloria was here then the mission was of extremely high value for the Government.


The two Scavengers watched as the man at the communications post signalled to a white man of average height and a petite indian woman. The three of them gathered around what appeared to be computer screens from a distance and they all chatted excitedly with one another.


Mandla and Ncube lay patiently in their prone position amongst the InstaLawn and watched the soldier’s camp for the rest of the day, until the sun started to set. During their time they watched a man disappear around the side of main building and a while later another man appeared from the same place. Ncube nodded to himself, he was right, there was another person on Overwatch and that would be at the highest point in the Facility.


As the sun started to throw long shadows over what the Scavengers were watching; Mandla quietly started to move back towards the corner of the building that they were lying next to. As soon as Ncube felt Mandla disappear he followed suit. Once they were out of view of the soldiers the two started to make their way back to the hole in the fence. Ncube felt lost as he followed Mandla’s purposeful steps through the maze of green but after half an hour they were out of the Facility and heading back towards their campsite.


The two Scavengers had chosen the perfect time of day to remove themselves from the soldier’s view. They travelled into the setting sun and Vusi, who was on Overwatch, was focused on the other direction. The long-range cameras that had been installed to cover all fields of view didn’t quite pick up the two figures carefully moving towards a bend in the surrounding hill line. It was too early to use night vision and the thermal imaging of the camera facing the scavengers had started playing up the day before.


Ncube’s mind was racing as he made his way back to camp where Kumeshnee and Bongani were waiting. He kept thinking, ‘This is our chance!’ He wore a mask of stoicism and stayed behind Mandla during their trip. He knew that the tracker could elucidate an extraordinary amount of information from the smallest twitch of a cheek muscle or a change in running cadence. Ncube couldn’t afford to throw their chance of escape away by being overzealous. He had been patient up until now and he could wait one more night. His mind kept running back to his wife, he desperately missed her and he loathed the Mistress and her people for taking her away from him. He hated them all even more for forcing his son to become addicted to heroine as a control mechanism.


The two Scavengers rounded the base of the hill and in the dying light they could see the outline of the Hilux pickup trucks under the camouflage netting. Ncube kept thinking, ‘Now is our chance! Soon I’ll get you out Bongi, soon we’ll get you clean!’


(I generally use free stock imagery for my featured pictures on my Blog Posts but this image was sourced using and I am not presenting this image as my own.)

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 17

Wednesday 22nd December 2032, 19:03


Kgosi hammered his fist against the heavy steel door of the laboratory complex and shouted, “The Mistress has arrived, open up NOW!” He revelled in the power that being the Mistress’ most trusted bodyguard afforded him. A series of bolts were drawn back on the other side of the door and several locks were disengaged. The door opened smoothly, an action that seemed incongruous with its vast bulk. A hulking body guard sneered at Kgosi but the sneer disappeared as soon as he saw the Mistress standing behind him.


The massive guard lowered his gaze to the Mistress’ feet and stepped aside without saying a word. She waddled into the laboratory and headed straight for the operating theater at the back of the complex. She passed several large, glass tanks containing the remains of human beings, in various stages of transformation, preserved in formaldehyde. She stopped at a jar and looked at the head suspended inside it. The Mistress spoke to the head in the jar, “Hello Eve, you’re looking well today.”  The head just floated in the jar and its lifeless eyes gazed into the distance. The Mistress giggled at her own puerile joke and looked at Kgosi, he smiled and pretended to laugh at the disturbing exchange.


She continued to the operating theater and walked through the plastic, strip curtain. De Wet Kruger was hunched over a filthy operating table with a young, naked woman strapped to it. The woman was shivering uncontrollably and mumbling through the piece of duct tape that covered her mouth. The Mistress spoke quietly so as not to startle the scientist, “Hello De Wet, how is the subject this evening?” Without looking up De wet lisped, “Hello Ms Precious, it’s uncomfortable for now but it will be asleep soon.”


De Wet had trouble admitting that the subjects of his experiments were in fact human beings and so he simply referred to them as subjects. The young woman looked at Precious with pleading eyes that begged for her release. Precious stroked the woman’s forehead while she cooed, “Don’t be afraid my dear, you’re about to become something more powerful and beautiful than you could possibly imagine. Uncle De Wet is going to transform you.” She looked at De Wet and said in a firm voice, “There won’t be any mistakes or mishaps this time my Dear. You’re going to be the most successful transformation yet, even more successful than Alice was.”


De Wet had been fixated on the syringes that were lying on a rusted surgical dish next to the young woman’s head when he finally said, “Okey dokey, we are ready. Nurse will you please turn the subject.” The ‘Nurse’ he was referring to was the hulking bodyguard who had opened the door for Precious and Kgosi. The bodyguard calmly walked over to the ancient surgical table and used his immense strength to turn it so that the young woman was staring at the floor. Precious and Kgosi covered their ears as the rusted cogs of the table screeched in protest at being moved against one another.


The young woman started thrashing against her restraints. Until that afternoon she had been kept in a cage designed to restrain a large dog and she’d been forced to watch this procedure being performed on other women. She knew what was coming and she was justifiably terrified. De Wet didn’t like it when his subjects resisted and his voice jumped up an octave when he lisped, “Nurse, NURSE! She’s trying to escape! Restrain her properly, what’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you restrain properly from the start? Restrain her now, NOW!” The bodyguard rolled his eyes but remained implacably calm. He was used to this exchange, it happened every time before De Wet started the procedure. The bodyguard had learned quickly that De Wet needed structure and routine, the retightening of the subject’s restrained was just another routine. As soon as the ritual was complete; De Wet was ready to proceed.


The young woman continued to thrash against the restraints and the surgical table but De Wet just ignored her now. Another one of De Wet’s routines was to provide a running commentary on what he was doing in his characteristic lisp, “I insert the first syringe into the subject’s spinal canal, which sits low in the lumbar region…” Precious watched with bated breath as the procedure continued.


Precious Ntaka had successfully evaded capture after murdering Dinesh Naidoo. The entire country had been hunting her as the horrifying reality of InstaLawn was starting to dawn on middle-class suburbs around the world. Dinesh was going to be the star witness in the case that had been built against her but she had eliminated that threat with lethal efficiency. Dinesh’s murder had successfully intimidated the other witnesses, who were made up of members of the Greeff en Ko-Op board, into silence. They all soon withdrew their testimonies and by the time the authorities would normally have been able to act against Precious again, it was too late. The sad truth at the time was that the world had become more focused on finding a solution to the scourge that was InstaLawn.

Everyone knew that Precious Ntaka, De Wet Kruger and Greeff en Ko-Op were to blame but the rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and the perpetual growth cycle of InstaLawn became Humanity’s focus. Holding those responsible to task for the end of civilization became a luxury in lieu of a necessity. During these years of human strife; Precious was able to find De Wet and stay hidden from the world. She was finally able to install herself as a self-styled Queen in the heart of Rustenburg, but she kept her identity a secret, preferring to be referred to as ‘The Mistress’.

During the developmental phase of what she liked to call ‘Operation Tokoloshe’; Precious hadn’t had the stomach to watch the women undergo the treatment and subsequent hybridization. The bodies and body parts that were stored in the vats of formaldehyde outside the surgical suite of Shaft-17 were the evidence of the failed hybridization trials. The very first trials were performed on men but the results were unstable to say the least. De Wet had discovered that testosterone interfered with the procedure and diverted all of his attention to perfecting the hybridization of women with naked mole rats.

The soldiers who were exploring the bowels of ‘The Facility’ were encountering the most successful results of Operation Tokoloshe.


As De Wet carefully inserted the first syringe into the woman’s lower back; Precious’ eyes were filled with an eager greed that was reminiscent of a spoiled child on Christmas morning. She was convinced that De Wet was close to perfecting what she wanted. A super human that was capable of; eating InstaLawn, surviving in carbon dioxide rich environments and would live for hundreds of years to come. Naked Mole Rats were the key to her aspirations. Precious secretly wanted to undergo the procedure when it was ready. She was determined to become essentially immortal and rule over the lush green wasteland of earth as the Queen of a new and horrifyingly dangerous species…


Saturday 25th December 2032, 11:08


Jack, Priyanka and Gloria were all holding their breath, waiting for the twenty five creatures to do something, anything. An eternity seemed to pass before an unseen tokoloshe dropped from the ceiling onto Priyanka. She screamed as she crumpled onto the floor under the weight of the creature.


“CONTACT!” Jack yelled as he opened fire on the closest of the twenty tokoloshes that were in front of him. He heard the deafening roar of Gloria’s AA-12, automatic shotgun, behind him. Gloria had descended into the depths of the facility, determined to have revenge for Hannes’ death. She had put the hours of target practice at the shooting range to good work. The first three tokoloshes took shotgun slugs in the head and chest before the remaining two turned and disappeared down the corridor.


Gloria turned around to help Priyanka and quickly saw that it wouldn’t be necessary. Priyanka had put her martial arts training and the birthday gift that Jack had given her to good use. The knife was buried up to its handle in the creature’s eye socket, she wrenched it out of the tokoloshe, pushed it off herself and stood up with her hands shaking visibly. Jack asked her, “Are you okay?” Priyanka nodded and said, “I am, that thing isn’t. It dropped from the ceiling, how the hell did it get onto the ceiling?”


Gloria was scanning the ceiling of the corridor, looking for any more tokoloshes when she said, “I took three out, how many did you get?” Priyanka answered first, “I definitely got one.” Jack said, “I got at least two, the group in front were staying just out of my field of view.”


Vusi came skidding to a halt next to the three of them and they all brought their weapons up, ready to defend themselves again. He put his hands up and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! It’s just me, I heard screaming and gunfire so I came down here to back you guys up. Whats going on?” Gloria started to change the magazine of her AA-12 when she said, “We encountered a group of about twenty five of these things. One of them dropped from the ceiling onto Pri.” Vusi immediately brought his weapon up and started scanning the ceiling saying, “What the hell? They’re on the ceilings now?” Jack was covering the corridor in front of them all when he said, “It looks like it, thanks for coming down. Pri get some footage of your buddy for C and pay special attention to the hands and feet.”


Priyanka replied, “What the… It’s gone.” Gloria said, “What do you mean it’s gone? How can it be gone? It was right here!” The four soldiers quickly shone their lights in the immediate vicinity of where the tokoloshe should have been, essentially at their feet, but Priyanka was right, the creature was gone. It had vanished without making a sound or alerting any of soldiers to it’s movements. Vusi said, “Are you sure you you got it?” Priyanka retorted with, “I buried my knife up to the handle in that thing’s eye socket. Trust me, I got it! How the hell did it vanish like that?”


Jack swore and said, “Beats me, let’s get down this corridor, set another transponder and get back up the elevator shaft. We don’t have anyone covering our six now. Cecil, are you still with us?” Cecil’s voice crackled indistinctly through the team’s ear pieces. Gloria said, “I guess that means that we’re on our own now.” Jack said, “Copy that. Pri, don’t clean your blade too well, let’s take a sample of this thing’s blood and brain matter up top. Let’s go and stay frosty people.”


The team moved off down the corridor scanning the walls and ceiling as they went. They passed the two tokoloshes that Jack had hit in the head with his Q-5 pulse rifle. Jack scanned the bodies carefully with his rifle camera, their terrible yellow eyes were frozen open in death. Vusi said, “Man, these things creep me out! And what’s with the patches of missing InstaLawn on the walls and floor?” Priyanka said, “No idea, they’re all over the place down here.” Jack replied, “Maybe the tokoloshes are eating it, like naked mole rats and ostriches do.” Gloria said, “I suppose they have to eat something down here, apart from each other.” Fifty meters down the corridor they found a junction where the corridor split into four passages. Before Jack could say anything Priyanka took another transponder out and set it. Vusi said, “Are we heading back now?” Jack said, “My O2 levels are sitting at fifty six percent, how is everyone else looking?” The team all responded with similar numbers for their tanks.


Jack shined his flashlights down the four corridors that branched off from the one they were in. He said, “We’re going to take the corridor to the right for another ten minutes before we head back.” Priyanka said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea, we don’t have anyone covering the elevator shaft and we can’t let any of those things out of here. Jack nodded and said, “Vusi, set a transponder and throw it down that corridor.” Vusi responded with, “Why me and why that corridor.”


Jack gave him a meaningful look when he said, “You because you play cricket for the recce team so you have the best throwing arm. That corridor because the InstaLawn is turning yellow down there.” Priyanka’s head perked up when she heard the second part, “Yellow InstaLawn?” She shined her flashlights down the right hand corridor and nodded and said, “Damn it is too.” Jack said, “According to Cherokee’s directions the Osmium Vaults should be down there somewhere. If there’s the colour change down the corridor that should contain the Osmium then maybe it can do something to the InstaLawn.” Gloria said, “Shit, maybe we should go down there and have a look.” Jack shook his head and said, “No, Pri is right, let’s toss a transponder down there and head back topside. We need to make sure that the tokoloshes don’t get out!”


Gloria carried on arguing, “We’re right here, we can find the vaults right now!” Jack nodded and said, “We can, but making sure that the tokoloshes don’t get out is the priority at the moment. If they get out then the rest of our mission is pointless. Vusi are you ready?” As an answer Vusi threw the transponder as far down the corridor as he could. As the transponder hit the floor and bounced down the corridor Jack said, “Right people, let’s get the hell out of here.” The team started moving back down the corridor in tactical formation, keeping an eye on walls, floor and ceiling as they went.


They made sure that they inspected the three tokoloshes that Gloria had killed; as they wound their way through the rabbit’s warren that was the corridor system of the basement level, following the transponder signals. Cecil’s voice started to crackle through their earpieces with increasing clarity, “Interior Team do you copy. Jack, Pri, answer me!” Jack said, “We copy surface team, welcome back.” Cecil’s voice sounded slightly pannicked when he said, “Behind you! There’s another group of these things behind you!” The whole team turned around with their weapons at the ready.


Once again the tokoloshes didn’t do anything other than stand just beyond the reach of the team’s flashlights. Their eyes were illuminated by the stray beams of light, but no more could be seen of the creatures. Jack said, “I’m getting a bit sick of this shit, Cecil how are our video feeds coming through?” Cecil said, “Crystal clear, your audio as well.” Jack said, “Awesome. Let’s do a little experiment; Vusi fire an AA-12 slug above their heads. Don’t kill any of them.”


Vusi complied and as soon as the deafening report from his weapon reverberated down the corridors the creatures scattered into the darkness. Priyanka asked, “What did that prove?” Jack simply said, “That we’re sick of their crap.”

The Green Apocalypse ~ Chapter 16

Saturday 25th December 2032, 09:41

Kumeshnee was looking through the Bushnell binoculars that she always carried with her, outside of Shaft-17. She had liberated them from the camping store in the Rustenburg Shopping Mall two years earlier. They had been in perfect condition when she had found them and still in the box. The twenty times magnification lenses were a great asset when scanning the lush green landscape. The InstaLawn she was lying on was starting to make her itch on a grassy hill about three hundred meters from the entrance to the Facility.


Mandla was quietly lying next to her before he broke the silence, “They went through grass curtain over there.” He pointed to the entrance of the Facility and continued, “The white woman followed them a couple of days later. There are some other tracks; all from Hilux bakkies like ours and those are all much older.” Kumeshnee was struggling to make out the curtain of InstaLawn that Mandla was talking about when something else struck her.


She quickly lowered the binoculars and said, “Wait a minute, white woman? When did she become a white woman?” Mandla shrugged and said, “I figured that out late yesterday.” Kumeshnee pressed him, “How do you know that she’s a white woman?” He shrugged again and said, “I can tell from the shape of her shoes, the length of her stride and how her weight is placed with each foot fall. She’s white, short, she wears a size six shoe but it looks like her feet are smaller than that.”


Kumeshnee quickly looked through the binoculars again to try and hide her eyes from Mandla. Her initial deduction had been correct; Leigh, it had to be Leigh. She was the only white person in Jabu’s group and Kumeshnee knew about Leigh’s past with him. The brutal way in which he was murdered pointed to her back at the ambush site. Mandla seemed to read Kumeshnee’s thoughts when he quietly said, “I don’t blame Leigh for killing Jabu. No one liked him very much, I wonder why she followed the vehicles instead of coming back to the Shaft.”


Kumeshnee wasn’t at all surprised that Mandla figured out who had survived from Jabu’s team. His nickname amongst the Scavengers was the Sangoma, or Witchdoctor, because he could see things in the InstaLawn that no one else could. He could also disappear into the greenery like a ghost. She quietly said, “We all know what happens to those who either fail or cross the Mistress. If Leigh did kill Jabu then the Mistress would make her suffer. She was awfully fond of Jabu for some reason.” Mandla simply nodded but said nothing. He knew that Kumeshnee was right and he had learned that keeping his mouth shut was one of the safest ways to survive in the Mistress’ ranks.


Kumeshnee changed the subject, “Can you tell me anything else about the vehicles that we followed? Are they Hiluxes?” Mandla shook his head, “No Baas, the wheel tracks are different, my guess would be a something like a Defender but these were heavy, too heavy for normal electric engines and the middle vehicle was definitely a truck. Something bigger than a Hilux and a lot heavier. It’s even stranger because they drove non-stop from the ambush to here and they even passed here a couple of times before going through that curtain. The first vehicle made a hard left turn down the track; I don’t think that they knew the curtain was even there at first.”


Kumeshnee nodded and said, “I’m not surprised, that curtain makes the entrance really well hidden. If they’d had EVs like ours then they would have had to stop to recharge the batteries at least once during the drive.” He nodded and treated Kumeshnee to a very rare and toothless grin when he said, “Exactly!” Kumeshnee said, “Good work Mandla. I need you to move around this place and see if you can find another way in. Please take Ncube with you.” It was unusual for Kumeshnee to ask any of her people to do anything. She was more accustomed to ordering them; but she knew how to handle Mandla and she knew that he was a tricky person to deal with. He didn’t look happy at the prospect of taking Ncube with him but he nodded and carefully belly crawled off the hill and away from view of the facility.


In truth; Mandla was extremely fond of Kumeshnee, she was the only one of the Mistress’ people whom he liked. Everyone distrusted his Khoisan heritage and his propensity to keep to himself. Kumeshnee was different; she left him alone, she didn’t make fun of him and when she did speak to him, it was with respect. This made him fiercely loyal to her but he kept that a very well hidden secret. He had also learned during his time at Shaft-17 that loyalty shown to anyone other than the Mistress was severely punished.


The Operative stayed behind on the hill to watch the facility and she was grateful to have some time alone. She was looking for any signs of movement but she was having trouble discerning the difference between buildings and fences. The whole thing looked like a mountain of green that just blended into itself. Doubt started to fill her mind again; what if the people inside weren’t with the government? What if they had left already and there was no one there? What if she had to go back to Shaft-17 to face the Mistress?


The binoculars started to shake along with her hands, three years of pressure, tension and frustration were taking their toll. She had been feeling the effects of the stress for more than six months already and she wasn’t sure if she could keep it up for much longer. Every move, every spoken word, even every facial expression had to be carefully crafted before they were made. She closed her eyes and focussed on her breathing; after a few minutes she thought, ‘Pull yourself together dammit, you HAVE to get back to base. You HAVE to warn them about what’s going to happen. You HAVE to see your sister again!’ She opened her emerald, green eyes and a lone tear escaped from the corner of her right eye. Her sister; she must have thought that the operative was dead. She missed her little sister, the Operative had silently cried herself to sleep on more than one night thinking about her.


Kumeshnee blinked the tear from her eye and wiped her cheek with her hand. She thought to herself, ‘I don’t care if anyone is in that place or not. Ncube, Bongani and I are getting the hell away from here in the next day or two. No matter what!’


Saturday 25th December 2032, 10:42


Jack’s breathing sounded magnified in his head like it always did when he wore his SCBA gear. The four of them had spent thirty minutes clearing all of the levels before arriving at the elevator shaft again. They were all becoming more familiar with the subterranean rabbit’s warren that was the facility’s basement levels. Thankfully the booster antenna was still in place and operating effectively plus all of the doors that had been wedged open the day before had remained that way.


Jack moved up to the Elevator doors and he checked the karabiner that they had used to effectively ‘lock’ them from the outside. It was still in place and it looked like it hadn’t been tampered with. Jack spoke over the tac comm system, “Are you all ready?” Gloria, Vusi and Priyanka all responded with, “Check.” He unclipped the karabiner and unlatched the doors. Everyone stood back with their weapons at the ready and holding their breath, not sure what to expect.


When nothing happened for twenty seconds Vusi said, “I guess those creatures need crowbars to open the doors as well.” Jack nodded and said, “It’s starting to look that way.” He and Vusi each jammed a crowbar into the seam that separated the two elevator doors. Using the same technique that Jack and Hannes had used two days earlier they were able to pry the doors open. As soon as the counterweights kicked in the doors moved open smoothly, as they had done in the past.


All four team members stepped back and held their weapons at the ready again, watching the shaft opening with baited breath. Nothing happened for two whole minutes and no sounds emanated from the depths where the tokoloshes were. Priyanka spoke up, “I don’t know if it’s scarier that it’s so quiet or what.” Vusi piped up with, “Oh, it’s scary alright.” Gloria cut them off, “Cut the chatter you two, we have a job to do.” Jack said, “Pri and Vusi cover the shaft while G-LT and I check the ropes and anchors.”


Priyanka and Vusi didn’t answer, they just moved up and shone the beams of their flashlights down the elevator shafts looking for any signs of movement. Jack unclipped three glow-sticks from his harness, cracked them and shook them before throwing them down the shaft. As they landed, the base of the elevator shaft was bathed in more eerie yellow light. The glow sticks that Priyanka had dropped the day before were barely glowing by now. Jack and Gloria checked the three anchors, they were all still secure; they proceeded to pull the ropes up make sure that they weren’t damaged. Once all of the ropes were checked Jack, Priyanka and Gloria clipped themselves into their grigris and descended down the yellow lit elevator shaft.


As Jack’s boots made contact with the InstaLawn covered floor for the second time in that twenty four hour period, he said, “We’re on the ground, Vusi how do you copy?” Vusi’s voice came through their ear pieces, “Loud and clear. Man it’s creepy up here alone.” Jack said, “Copy that, the transponder signals are coming through nice and strongly down here. We’re moving out.” The three of them unclipped their grigris from the ropes and moved off down the corridor in tactical formation.


The radio transponders were working perfectly and the team were grateful for the high quality of manufacturing that the South African Military held all of their equipment to. Jack spoke over the tac comm system, “Yesterday we encountered some kind of fog that blurred our vision down here so be careful.” After they had wound their way to the spot where Jack and Jeff had found Hannes on the previous day; Priyanka spoke up, “I’m not getting any kind of fog on my mask.” Gloria chipped in, “Me either.” Jack said, “Neither am I. Whatever it was it must have dissipated.”


They had moved past the last transponder that had been set and Priyanka broke the silence, “Hold up, I’ve got something that isn’t covered in InstaLawn over here. Cecil are you getting this?” Cecil’s voice crackled through their ear pieces, “The video feed is crystal clear, give me all of the angles you can, slow and smooth.” Jack examined the dissolved husk of the tokoloshe that had been bathed in sulfuric acid when he said, “That definitely looks like something that’s been dissolved in sulfuric.” Priyanka panned her Q-5 camera over the husk saying, “Damn, this reminds me the sulfuric acid and sugar experiment in first year.”


Jack turned his flashlight beams to the ceiling above the blackened husk and saw the ruptured tank. He said, “Here we have it, there’s an acid tank directly above this thing. The Sarge must have ruptured it with his shotgun trying to fight this tokoloshe.” Gloria was covering the two scientists, her eyes were glistening at the thought of her late lover fighting for his life against one of these nightmarish creatures. She didn’t shed a tear though; she had decided after speaking to Priynaka earlier that morning that she had cried enough tears. Now she wanted revenge.


Priyanka broke the ensuing silence, “Do you have enough footage C?” Cecil crisply said, “Affirmative, carry on.” With that the three of them moved down the corridor, scanning every angle that they could illuminate with their flashlights. Gloria said, “Am I imagining things or are there patches of missing InstaLawn on the walls and floor down here?” Jack said, “I can see them too but they aren’t consistently spaced or shaped. Pri get some footage of them for C.” Priyanka had already been scanning the patches of bare concrete with her rifle camera when she said, “Already on it.”


The team didn’t say anything but made their way to the next passage junction Cecil’s voice crackled quite badly through their ear pieces, “It’s been awhile since you passed the last transponder.” Jack said, “Check, we’ll set the next one here. C you’re starting to break up. Vusi can you still hear us?” Vusi’s voice crackled through, “I can still make you out clearly and it’s still creepy as hell up here.”


As Priyanka was setting the transponder Gloria said, “Cecil, how are our video feeds coming through?” Cecil crackled, “We’re still receiving signal but it’s starting to get a bit hazy.” Jack swore and said, “We’re going to continue down the left passage from here, according to the directions that Cherokee gave us. Vusi check in with us every minute. As soon as we lose comms with you, we’ll head back.” Vusi said, “Affirmative LT.”


The team turned left and Jack’s flashlights illuminated twenty pairs of glowing eyes down the corridor. He stopped and hissed, “Shit, we have hostiles up ahead, it looks like at least twenty of them.” Gloria was covering the rear and her flashlight illuminated another five pair of eyes, she said, “We have at least five Tangos behind us as well. What are your orders LT?” Jack was strafing the flashlight on his Q-5 from side to side down the corridor and said, “Pick your closest targets and hold your fire. They seem to be keeping their distance for now. Pri keep an eye on the front with me. Gloria keep an eye on our six. Don’t waste any ammo, let them come to us.”


The two groups of creatures seemed to keep their distance from the soldiers and the soldiers didn’t move either. The diversion was working because the soldiers didn’t notice the six tokoloshes that were silently crawling on the ceiling above them.

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