Special Agent Orange looked down from the helicarrier at the swarming columns of insectoid aggressors he and his team were supposed to, handle. In two minutes, his new life – if you can count 15 years that – would welcome him into the normalcy of near-death encounters, broken limbs and scars with open arms.
Xoese remembered how he had scrounged his nose in disgust. Bloody preachers he had mused. He cursed his bad luck sitting next to a traveling preacher who rained the holy ghost on his face in cold, slimy saliva. The universe spare the unlucky soul needing exorcism from her, he begged.
Xoese wiped the sacred muck off his face and looked out the window of the trotro. A taxi had been honking incessantly for the last five minutes. It sounded like a really sore emergency. But this was 2150, on a Monday morning, in Ho!
Emergencies got airlifted in and in much dire circumstances, teleported. Chances were, this was some entitled snob hoping to play on the sympathy of fellow Holites.
There is an ancient joke about god having a bug in his software called Monday that needed fixing, badly! This was Ho, Ghana’s programming hive, where the Holites more than anywhere else, hated Mondays with a fiery passion. Making way for a honking cab? Not happening chale, not happening, Xoese concluded.
Yet, the honking persisted. Xoese hissed. He peered into the cab below and immediately turned away. Damn naturalists he sneered. Why did they have to be such luddites? Why couldn’t they be like everyone else and just store their eggs in an egg-pod at the Procreation Institute?
He now had to somehow unsee the laboring mother, trying so hard to push a life out of her with no one to help. Xoese felt sorry for her, but not enough to dare another look.
He needed something to occupy his mind. Something he could relish in, something without blood. He would’ve pulled out his sketch pad but Madam preacher was bent on drilling the gospel into the passengers and wasn’t about to give up her illegally invaded space. Xoese resolved for something crunchy instead.
He looked out into the street: water vendors, automatons, fake bio-lens vendors, no plantain chips vendors. He hissed again.
That was rare. He hadn’t eaten an orange in…he had never eaten a real orange before.
He quickly called the vendor over. He swallowed hard. Street vendors, by some perverted universal scheme, looked the same. They were angry, hardy, battered, unsmiling, cruel and rude. You couldn’t blame them – it was all on the system chale, the system.
The vendor before him however, something else. Xoese instantly saw past the façade she was putting up. Something was off about this vendor. She looked like a child but exuded such majesty Xoese was tempted to bow.
“Abi I can get two oranges for ten pesewas?”
“Yes sir you can” she happily responded.
Xoese shifted uneasily, wasn’t that too cheap for something so rare?
“Would you like me to slice it up for you, kind sir?”
O-k-a-y? Something was definitely off. She offered up one slice for him to taste. She was being awfully nice. He savoured the sweet juice then turned to her to say thank you.
Instead, “aaargh! Ruuuuun!”
The orange vendor smiled. Xoese frowned. This kid must be nuts he was sure. He watched in awe as she deftly summersaulted backwards, just in time to avoid a tentacle like contraption, dripping with some foul smelling liquid forcefully shove the trotro he was in aside. It reminded him of his time swatting flies around for fun. Maybe his sins had finally caught up with him.
He looked towards the door. People were trying to get out. All around him, people struggled to get clear of the unfolding carnage where the orange vendor stood not long ago. He wanted to get clear as well. These people wanted to save their lives. But as far as Xoese could tell, a stampeding death is what they had in store.
Xoese made for the window instead. Slice! A tentacle tore through the roof. Another zipped past him all the way to the back of the trotro, and swiped right, butchering everything, meat, metal, muscle, plastic, bone – everything, in its way.
Just as quickly as it happened, the tentacles withdrew, to another vehicle, decimating its occupants as it had just done.
Someone cried in the trotro and the tentacles immediately returned. They quickly slithered through the trotro, ridding the bus of all life except for Xoese’s. The tentacles stopped just shy from his face.
They seemed to appraise him for a while and then withdrew. Xoese felt something warm swim towards his bum. He turned to stare into the vacant eyes of the driver’s bloodied skull.
He hobbled out of the wreck that was once a brightly painted pink bus. He looked down at his pants. That wasn’t blood that swam towards his bum, it was his own piss. Xoese looked around him. The tentacles were wreaking havoc, slicing this way and that, snuffing the life out of people.
Xoese began to cry. A tentacle zoomed to a stop in front of him. He shut his eyes and tears oceaned down his cheeks.
He thought he smelled oranges. He squinted. The tentacle had withdrawn. In fact, it looked sickly. It had lost it’s slimy golden sheen and now looked bleached with murky green spots dotted all over.
He looked away. He looked up. He looked again.
“I don’t know why that thing is hesitant to attack you but I intend to find out. Come with me.”
Xoese was unsure what to do. He was even more puzzled by the orange seller’s drastic transformation.
Instead of a turquoise dress over infamous chalewotes, with a pan full of oranges on her head, the nice vendor was now draped in snug brown cargo shorts, a blue tank top, hi-top sneakers and the same pan that now served as a shield of some sorts.
“Who.. who’re you?” Xoese weakly managed.
“I’m lieutenant Temifali, commander of the Nnoli Corps and probably your best chance at understanding why you’re still alive.”
“It’s your turn Agent Orange,” someone spoke into his earpiece, interrupting his reminiscing.
“Slice and dice General Temi” he responded.
It’s been fifteen years since that incident. Who would’ve known that laboring mother in the honking taxi had been the unsuspecting host of an alien apocalypse and that the oranges he ate that day had strengthened his immune system enough to prevent the eggs planted in him from hatching.
Twenty seconds to impact. He smiled as he remembered his citrus orchard back home on Venus.
“The Nnoli Corps? Aren’t you just an urban legend?”
“To everyone else, yes. But not you anymore. As of now, you’re one of us. Ours is an intergalactic war that will use all capable bodies and boy do you have the makings of a powerful weapon.”
Fifteen long years and he was no closer to understanding why he had been spared.
“I really should retire soon” he thought as he slashed the first abomination that lunged at him.
By Kadi Yao Tay.