The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness

Saints and Angels
Chapter 11

'Cabrera? Ah, right. I think I may have seen him - heading for La Tortue. Elvis sunglasses, yeah?' Culver describes the man he saw embarking with Paul Créchon and the two white-dressed women ('Groupies, I presume.')

'That is the man.' The oungan shakes his head mournfully. 'If Borasme has the Colombian cartels with him - it seems he is even more powerful than les bons lwa, and we are all doomed to continue our suffering.'

Culver draws in his breath sharply. 'What kind of attitude is that? Look, nine-foot warriors are thin on the ground, y'know? You say you're "small people", but there must be - what? - a couple of thousand of you here. At least. Surely that's enough to do something? Okay, so they say Borasme's le Baron; they said that about the Duvaliers, didn't they? You got rid of them.' The oungan quails before this verbal onslaught, and Culver shrugs apologetically, conscious that he is starting to lecture the man on his own culture.

'Sorry, I know, I'm just one of les blancs. Just seems to me, you could spend your life waiting for a new Boukman, instead of really making a difference...'

The oungan draws what shreds of pride remain about him. 'M'sieu, you come here for a few days only - and I suppose you to be not a religious man. How can you understand what it means to us to have our faith stolen away from us in this way?'

'Anyway,' says Culver, keen to change the subject, 'at least tell me this: is there some way we can protect ourselves from this 'zombie army'? Are the stories about salt true? Could an oungan or a manbo, um, bless us or something?' He reflects that there is also the small matter of armed guards to consider.

'Salt will help, certainly, m'sieu, but on their own ground, and with their masters close by it may not prove enough. Charms can protect you each individually - I and my colleagues will says a small blessing over you now if you wish it.' The oungan has thrown aside his brief stab at hauteur and now seems almost pathetically grateful that the team are prepared to act on his people's behalf.

Side-step is bent over one of the neo-Boukmans, who has returned to consciousness. 'You there,' he says. 'How would you like to earn a little money and also have the chance to help put Borasme out of business?'

The man looks up at him a little suspiciously. 'What you want doing, m'sieu?'

Culver sighs and walks across, kneeling by the man's head. 'We're with a group sympathetic to your cause. We're planning to take a boat to La Tortue, to investigate, and, uh, maybe even destroy the installation there.'

The man pales visibly and start to shake his head.

'It'll be dangerous, yes, but two of us are ex-soldiers; one British, one American. And we'll pay you well.' Culver produces a small bundle of dollar bills, remaining from Gerald Bamworth's attempted bribe.

Side-step pulls Culver away as the neo-Boukman starts to confer with his colleagues in Creole. 'You didn't want to tell him what we had planned, Culver - that's sensitive information that could be used against us. Haven't you ever heard of "need to know"?'

'He wouldn't have signed up otherwise,' says Culver reasonably.

Eventually the nervous-looking neo-Boukman returns. 'We all join as you say. It sound foolish, but...' he shrugs.

'That includes me,' says Louise Bijoux, who is sitting, arms folded around her knees, at the edge of the podium. Hurbon looks at her in surprise.

'Are you sure?' asks Culver sympathetically, laying a hand across her shoulders.

Louise grimaces. 'Ogou Feray chose me to ride... I have to prove myself worthy of him.'

Hurbon scratches his head perplexedly. 'Louise, you are an educated woman and a doctor, you know that was simply a delusional state.'

'Maybe... maybe. But -' she looks up at him fiercely '- how much good has my education done for these people, my people? I have treated a few, made a few better, eased the passing of a few, written my papers - but all the time ignored what they call the big picture. Now is the chance to do - I don't know what - but something!'

Hurbon looks even more perplexed. He opens his mouth as if to speak, but then closes it again. Finally he says 'Well, in that case, I must join you as well. You are right, Louise, and I know you meant to include me - my books have done no good for my people. The only useful thing I have done was calling these men here.' He indicates Culver, Side-step and Henry.

'I think I'm going to cry,' mutters Side-step sarcastically. He stomps off towards the car.

Culver blows out his cheeks and releases the air slowly. 'This is all just too, too heroic. Come on, then.' He helps Louise to her feet and heads after Side-step. 'Swell party!' he calls back over his shoulder at the disconsolate oungans.

'My goodness, everything is blurred,' muses Professor Twitchin. 'I say, Benny old chap, any chance of you having a look around for my spectacles... I'm blind as several species of bat without them.'

After a brief hunt Riggs turns up the glasses on Wirkus's ceremonial throne, where the oungan doubtless put them for safe-keeping.

Twitchin, far from being shocked by his experience, is exhilarated - the memory of the power of Dambala Wedo surging through him is strong, and it is confirmation (to himself at least) that voodoo is real. 'After all, I'm not one of these impressionable youngsters,' he says to Riggs, 'but a semi-distinguished man of science.'

'Perhaps you should write a paper on it when we get back to England,' suggests the American as he leads the Professor to where the car is parked.

The next morning it is late by the time the team gather together. Not everyone is in as good spirits as Riggs, who has been for a brisk run and is now sipping black coffee. He returned from the run carrying a large, suspiciously-shaped object in a long, black zipped bag, but no-one is asking too many questions about it. Professor Twitchin is nursing a nasty hangover and a variety of aches and bruises, while Culver and Henry are quiet and rather withdrawn. Side-step's thin face is intense. 'I'm going to do some shopping. Henry, can you remember if that fisherman friend of yours has an outboard with that boat of his?'

'Yes, that's all taken care of,' says Henry.

Twitchin has been mulling over Culver's mention of Geraldo Cabrera. 'I'm sure that must have been the fellow I saw last night, visiting Wirkus. Silk suit and sunglasses say drug baron to me, old fellow...' He gains a speculative, scheming look.

'I'll be off for a drive now, then,' says Riggs loudly and clearly to Twitchin as they sit in the bar. He motions to the barman. 'I'm off now - thanks. Here's your tip.' It is a generous one, and the barman's eyes widen - he will remember this spendthrift American.

'Take care,' says Twitchin, sipping at his whisky with hooded eyes.

Riggs gets into the car, revs the engine mightily, and pulls away. He cannot have gone more than a hundred yards when there is a tremendous explosion, followed by the shattering of much glass, including the window of the bar.

Everyone in the bar dashes out to have a look. The car is blazing fiercely a little way down the street, having careered over to the mouth of an alley. As Twitchin saunters out to see for himself, carrying his drink, the flames part briefly to reveal, sat upright on the driver's seat, a horrible charred corpse. 'Poor fellow, he wouldn't have stood a chance,' muses the Professor.

A few minutes pass before the police and fire crew arrive, and by then locals have put out most of the blaze, or at least prevented it spreading to adjoining buildings. The body, what remains of it, is hauled out of the ruin of the car. 'C'était un Americain,' says one of the police to another, paging through the charred ID. 'Bénédict Riggs.'

'Que le bon Dieu a pitié,' responds his colleague, crossing himself.

Side-step walks back into the Galaxie carrying a battered old jerry-can, obviously full from the way he is leaning over. He plonks it down by the reception desk, thrusts a handful of dollars at the surprised clerk and says 'I wonder if you could do me a favour? Could you collect as many bottles as you can find, from the bar, kitchen and dustbins, and have them delivered to my room, please?'

For the rest of the afternoon all that can be heard from his room is a succession of glugging noises.

'Monsieur le Préfet? Your friend Mr Wirkus seems to fancy his chances as the Boukman Dutty of the future...'

Borasme laughs, long and hearty.

The Professor continues. 'A small suggestion my friend, such an enemy as Mr Wirkus raising a mob against the established civil authorities cannot be a good thing for civic welfare. Methinks he has already chosen the curtains for La Préfecture... if you understand my meaning.'

Another laugh, but is there a hint of doubt at the back of it? 'He is no threat.'

'Mm, I'm sure you're right. Oh, and by the way, you might like to ask your associate Geraldo Cabrera where he was yesterday evening at around eleven o'clock.'

The laugh stops abruptly. 'What do you mean?' Borasme's deep voice is full of menace.

'A pound to a penny, old chap, he says he was in Port-de-Paix... and not Jean-Rabel, if you get my drift.'

There is a satisfactory silence at the other end of the phone, and Professor Twitchin hangs up.

'I'm going to find Rose-Marie,' says Culver to Henry as they sit awaiting the emergence of Side-step. 'See if she's got any bright ideas.'

He heads upstairs and knocks on the redoubtable manbo's door.

Rose-Marie is once again in mid-devotion, the shrine to Ezili expanded from what Culver saw the previous day. She rises smoothly from before it, and regards him expectantly. 'Thanks for helping my friend Benedict - I'll do my best to get him to hospital, soon as we return to the UK,' says Culver apologetically. 'That's if we return to the UK.'

'I do not know how much doctors will be able to help him,' says the manbo. 'His sickness is one of the spirit, not the mind. He is a man sickened by what he became, and the sickness has turned in on him. He needs love, divine love as well as human love.'

'You certainly can't get that on the NHS,' agrees Culver ruefully. He updates her on the current situation, finishing with the plan to visit La Tortue. 'Apparently no-one's ever returned, so we've got no idea what we'll find there - al we know is, it's going to be bloody dangerous. There're armed guards and God - er, Dambala - only knows how many "zombies". And most of the people are convinced Borasme is le Baron himself...'

'Les bons lwa will be with you,' Rose-Marie assures him. 'Your friend was ridden by Dambala - a very good sign.'

Culver looks at her imploringly. 'Ms Desruisseaux, I'm out of my depth. I know a little about voodoo but, really, I'm just one of les blancs. Borasme and Cabrera are twisting your faith with their drugs and their "zombie factory": they must be stopped. I know Ezili's power is weak here, in the place of the Gédé, but is there any way you can help us?'

She reaches into her capacious bodice. 'I had thought that you would ask this. You are a child of Ezili too, Matt, although there is a blight laid on you.' She withdraws a square of mirror, about two inches across, framed in what looks like clay set thickly with chips of pink stone. 'Keep this with you, and she will aid you when you need her.'

Culver, moved and disturbed almost equally, takes the mirror, and as he does so Rose-Marie reaches out with her other hand and smooths it across his forehead. She feels wonderfully cool, and the scent of roses drifts from her. He smiles slightly wanly. 'If we succeed... well, I'll remember you when I go back through duty-free. It's full of Ezili offerings!'

'Oh, Faustin old friend, is Geraldo still there?'

'Comment?... No, he is gone now, Professeur.' The bocor of Jean-Rabel sounds resigned to his secrets being known to the long arm of British Intelligence.

'Good. Listen my friend, Borasme knows about your meeting with Cabrera, and he is not pleased. Unless you have some powerful juju around I would be very careful. It may be best to go underground for a while. If you are planning to raise les fils de Boukman, then you must strike now, while the iron is hot, before M le Baron Borasme stamps you out.'

Wirkus swallows audibly.

'Act swiftly and act now,' continues the remorseless Professor. 'Good luck my friend. I will be in touch.'

'But...' begins Wirkus, but Twitchin has hung up.

'I suggest we stick to coffee tonight,' says Side-step as John Henry calls for a rum. 'We are all going to need to stay switched on, and it's going to be a long night.' He reclines back, surveying the eager and not-so-eager faces gathered before him. 'First off, is there anyone who doesn't want to take part in the festivities tonight? We need to know now, so that we can plan around it.'

'I, er, believe that my talents are better suited to remaining here and continuing to sow confusion...' says Professor Twitchin nervously. No-one else speaks.

'Okay then,' says Side-step, 'to begin with I'll just say that if anyone has any ideas as I talk, just jump right in -this isn't a lecture, it's a discussion. Now do we all agree that what we need to do is, A - get a sample of the drug they are manufacturing over there, and B - destroy their little operation if at all possible?' A chorus of nods, and he continues 'Now what I propose is this...'

In fact the next half-hour does tend to take on something of the appearance of a lecture. Side-step has his plan clear in his mind, and none of the others feels qualified to contribute any suggestions, happy to rely on his expertise.

Finally he concludes with 'Okay then, I suggest everyone sorts out some dark clothing and anything else you think you may need. Oh, and if anyone has got a backpack of some kind to put your petrol bombs in, bring that as well. See you all later.'

Culver goes upstairs to make his preparations, laying out his clothes on the bed, including a black woollen cap to cover his bleached hair. He then loads his jacket pockets with an assortment of scalpels, capped syringes filled with sedative, a bottle of ether, a Swiss Army knife, a tube of KY jelly - he smiles ruefully at this last - some adhesive tape, empty bottles and his Dictaphone. 'Okay,' he mutters to himself, feeling like some peculiar medical version of Rambo, 'let's go kick some bottom...'

The dark night has an almost hallucinatory stillness about it as the four SITU members, accompanied by Mahmoud, Hurbon, Bijoux and three other neo-Boukmans, walk down to the jetty.

Arthur Montrouge is asleep on deck, but Mahmoud scurries on board and wakes him. He gives a mild scream at the sight of the dark-clad mob advancing on his vessel, but relaxes when he recognizes Henry. 'Night fishing, eh? We can catch electric eel...'

'Yes, yes,' says the journalist impatiently. 'Just get us moving, will you?'

As the boat pulls out into the wine-dark sea, raising barely a ripple, Side-step passes round a tube of camouflage cream. 'Hands and face, everyone. You lot too,' he adds to the black members of the team: their faces will still shine under light otherwise.

Culver, looking back towards Port-de-Paix, sees it only as a dark silhouette against the skyline, the defeated buildings and cranes of the dockyard standing sentinel and testament to Dambala's abandonment of the town.

After about ten minutes gentle puttering into the bay, Montrouge turns from the tiller to say 'OK, m'sieu, this good fishing grounds right here.'

'Over that way - to the island,' points Henry.

Montrouge laughs nervously. 'Oh, no, m'sieu, you make mistake, that La Tortue island - bad place - we not go there.'

'I'm paying you, aren't I? Don't worry, you'll be safe enough - we won't be long.'

The old sea captain shakes his head vigorously. 'Oh no, m'sieu, you picked wrong guy for this,' and he swings the tiller, putting the boat about.

Then he goes very still and quiet, feeling the cold of Side-step's knife against his throat. 'You do what my friend says, OK? And don't try anything silly. There's ten of us, and only one of you.'

Montrouge's eyes roll fearfully, and he slowly puts the boat back on course.

'Was that strictly necessarily?' Hurbon asks Side-step huffily. He seems very nervous.

'We've come this far, we're not going to pack it in just because some guy wants to remake The Old Man and the Sea,' says Side-step briskly.

Louise Bijoux and her three new friends are gathered in a knot at the bow, and Culver can hear them muttering to each other in Creole as the bulk of La Tortue looms out of the darkness. It is easy to see why the boucaniers of the sixteenth century gave it its name - it looks like nothing so much as a turtle's back, the gentle hump thickly covered with woodland. The only sign of habitation is around a small bay on the northern side of the island, from which a jetty protrudes, a couple of buildings at its head.

Side-step motions Montrouge on past the harbour, and towards a beach in the next bay round, where the anchor is dropped. Montrouge watches impassively as Hurbon clumsily helps Side-step lower the rubber dinghy to the water.

'What about him?' asks Riggs, jerking his thumb at the sea captain. 'Think he's still going to be here when we get back?'

Side-step rubs his chin, thinking. 'We could try and make it back in the outboard, but there's too many of us.' Of course, there might not be so many by then, he thinks to himself.

'Er, I can remain aboard if you wish, and ensure that this gentleman stays,' suggests Hurbon diffidently.

'Good idea,' says Side-step. He had been wondering quite how much use the roly-poly anthropologist would be on shore, in any case. 'Right then.' He kicks gently at the two crates of petrol bombs.

The dark sand of the beach crunches gently underfoot as the group look down onto the harbour from the adjoining promontory. There is no sound from the island other than the squeak of bats, circling overhead, picking fireflies out of the air. 'Okay, if you're ready,' says Side-step to Henry, 'off you go. Start the fireworks exactly one hour from now.'

Henry, Mahmoud and two neo-Boukmans move off along the beach, clutching one crate of bombs between them. Side-step, Culver, Riggs and Bijoux strike into the forest along the dirt road that leads inwards - presumably towards the laboratory facility. The last neo-Boukman remains with the dinghy, for a quick getaway.

The road is clear and well-used: it looks as though motor vehicles come up and down here regularly. 'Keep to the sides,' advises Side-step. 'That way if anyone comes we can get into cover quick.'

The road is more or less straight, with no junctions, and it does not seem long before he finds himself peering through undergrowth into a large clearing. It is occupied mostly by a large, low, rectangular building, which is lit throughout: the only windows, which go all the way along both long sides, are fanlights covered with venetian blinds, so it is impossible to see within. The building, which appears prefabricated, has only one storey but a peaked roof, with a set of double doors at the end nearest the mouth of the path, large enough to admit a small truck: there are human-sized doors one also at that end, two on one of the long sides and one at the other end.

At the far end of this large building is another, a concrete blockhouse perhaps ten feet square, with a simple wooden door and no windows at all. In the open, dusty space between the two buildings is a tall pole, a little like a maypole, painted red. From its top a dead black cockerel is hanging by the neck.

The mouth of the path is guarded by a knot of four Haitians in scruffy combats, each carrying an automatic rifle: they are sitting together in a circle and do not look especially alert or lively. The front of the blockhouse is guarded by a further two.

Side-step cautiously skulks around the clearing, and finds a further two pairs of guards lounging about its perimeter: he guesses that they are probably supposed to be patrolling. 'Right then.' He looks at his watch. 'Now we wait.'

John Henry, concealed behind a group of boulders with his squad, looks at his watch. 'That's an hour - we'd better get started.' He opens the crate, looking at the assortment of bottles, each half-filled with petrol, the neck stuffed with a scrumpled strip of bedsheet. He sighs, shaking his head, and the three locals regard him impassively. 'Here goes, I suppose.' He gets out the Zippo and lights it, a long, steady flame. Then he pulls out a bottle, turning it round in his hand. Finally he applies the light to the cloth.

It catches quickly, and red ember starts to rush along its length towards the neck of the bottle. With a start Henry draws back his arm. Generally cause as much chaos and confusion as possible, Side-step had said. Taking careful aim, he flings the bottle towards the dockhouse. It falls rather short, but breaks to spread petrol over the planking, which immediately ignites with a whoof of flame.

In the light of the flame his companions' faces glow and flicker strangely. We want these people running around with their heads up their arses thinking a Battalion of Marines is paying them a visit. 'Come on,' he says, 'what are you waiting for?' He takes up another bottle, and motions them to do likewise.

The door of the larger building flings open, and out run two men in combats, both carrying automatic rifles. One begins firing randomly into the darkness, while the other tries futilely to stamp out the fire.

Mahmoud gives a small whoop and flings his bottle. It bursts in exactly the same place as Henry's, showering the second man with petrol. Flame leaps to him, and he flings down his gun, trying frantically to tear his clothes off.

Professor Twitchin has been unable to sleep, knowing that his companions are grappling with the forces of darkness only a few miles away. He is sitting on the edge of his bed, holding a glass of whisky in both hands, sipping it only very occasionally, and staring out of the window towards Jean-Rabel.

His thoughts keep returning to the entranced state of possession he experienced the previous evening. It certainly seemed very real. He was intensely aware of a distance between himself and his actions, as though another mentality were directing his body. But quite possibly there are drugs that can produce such an effect: he has no real idea what he was drinking. Perhaps Culver would know. But no - was it right to question his instinctive interpretation? From a purely practical point of view he had demonstrated to himself that voodoo 'worked'. Precisely how and why need not be answered: the fact was that he had allowed himself to be immersed into the culture that sustained it, and the expected effect had been achieved. If the enemy was also voodoo, it would have to be defeated in voodoo terms, surely. The question now was how.

His reverie is sharply interrupted by the telephone. 'Father? Is that you?'

'Theo! My dear boy... what on Earth...?'

Theo's voice sounds most uncharacteristically agitated. 'Listen, father, I'm sorry to call you what must be so late at night, but this is serious. I've just been spoken to by the Foreign Secretary, would you believe, about this Haiti situation.'

'Er, what situation might that be, Theo?' Twitchin prevaricates.

'Apparently the Americans have been losing agents like flies over there - clumsy idiots. But somehow your name's got mixed up in one of the deaths. Don't ask me how, it's ridiculous, I know, because I don't know - all I know is the blasted CIA's been kicking up a stink, and they've been asking around about you.'

'Dear me! Er...'

'Father, I don't know what you've been up to over there, whether you've been talking to the wrong people, sticking your head above the parapet - but really, I do think you might have been more responsible than to visit such a dangerous part of the world just at this time. What if your name is linked with mine? This could all become very embarrassing, I can see it now - and you know how narrow our majority is! Really, Father, sometimes I think you consider only yourself.'

Professor Twitchin opens and shuts his mouth, for once speechless, then says crisply 'I'm sorry, Theo, you're breaking up - I can hardly hear you at all.' He then depresses the bar on the receiver rest.

He has been sitting there for barely ten seconds, surprised and shocked at what he has just done, when the phone rings again. He picks it up immediately.

'Professor Twitchin?' It is the deep, hollow yet silky voice of Achille Borasme. Underneath it can be heard, very close by, the loud noise of an engine and the wakka-wakka-wakka of helicopter blades. 'Professor, I wonder if I might have the pleasure of your company for a little while. I am making a visit to my facility on La Tortue - there seems to be some sort of disturbance. I feel sure that, with your gifts and capabilities, you will be of much use in helping me to resolve it.'

'I...' starts Twitchin.

Borasme's voice sharpens. 'My helicopter will be with you in a couple of minutes. Be in the street outside your hotel.' The helicopter noise over the phone gets louder, presumably as he gets into it, and then he hangs up: Twitchin can now hear the helicopter itself, through his open window, starting to make its way across town towards him.

The ignition of the petrol bomb shows orange against the dark night sky, and it is followed by a soft whump. One of the guards in the clearing nudges another and they speak quietly.

Another bomb goes off at the dock, and this time everyone takes it in. There is a generalized commotion, heightened as the explosions continue, mixed with gunfire. One of the guards rushes back to the main building and enters.

Just forty seconds or so pass before Paul Créchon emerges at the far end of the building. He is dressed exactly as usual, in black suit, white shirt and sunglasses. He limps quickly over to the blockhouse and starts to throw the series of bolts that hold its door shut. The guards there scurry nervously to one side, and Créchon says something to them contemptuously in Creole.

When the door opens the reason for their disquiet is apparent. Out of the hut shamble twenty men - they must have been packed in there like sardines - their clothing ragged, their skin pallid and greyish, their eyes staring. They advance in a mob, hands reaching forwards, until Créchon swiftly sketches a shape in the air before himself with a small raffia whisk he is carrying. They then mill confusedly for a moment, as he bends to whisper into the ear of the foremost.

Créchon then steps aside, and the twenty zombies start to shamble slowly towards the path leading to the docks, from where the sounds of combat are now intense.

As they depart, the guards gather together into an excited group, staring after them. Créchon limps back into the main building.

'Okay, now!' whispers Side-step, and at his signal he, Culver, Riggs and Bijoux scurry across the clearing towards the cover afforded by the back of the blockhouse.

He peers cautiously round, seeing that the guards are still paying no attention to this direction. He has no idea of the internal layout of the building, but if the end nearest the path is the loading bay it seems reasonable to assume that the higher functions are located at this end.

Side-step motions to Riggs, and the American ghosts his way across the open space towards the door which Créchon entered, moving swiftly and silently through the moonlight.

Just as he is approaching it, though, there is the sound of a cockerel crowing, loud and distinct, echoing across the clearing. Culver could almost swear that he saw the dead bird at the top of the pole twitch slightly as the cry sounded.

Riggs freezes against the wall, but at once the door is flung open by Créchon - he must surely have been standing right inside it. Before Riggs can react, swifter than thought, Créchon's arm snakes down, and he snatches Rose-Marie Desruisseaux's charm from around Riggs's neck, breaking its cord.

Riggs collapses like a marionette with its strings cut, his hands going to his face, emitting a hideous, unearthly shriek. Créchon grins triumphantly, the charm held aloft like a prize, giggling 'Hee-hee-hee. Hee-hee-hee.' He stares directly at the cover where the other three comrades are hiding.

'Et lui, il peut s'enculer!' mutters Louise Bijoux, her eyes burning. Her back has become very stiff.

Mahmoud is capering like a small demon around the blazing wreckage of the dockhouse, screaming in delight. The two neo-Boukmans have taken up the guns. Henry is sitting on the jetty, staring at the two corpses that have been flung into the shallows. What a way to die.

He rises to his feet. 'Come on, everybody - if Side-step's plan works, we're going to have the main force from the laboratory descending on us at any moment. We'd better be ready.'

As he speaks, Mahmoud falls silent, pointing into the forest with trembling finger. From the mouth of the path is emerging a fearful force - a score or so of Haitians, clad in rags, shambling along loose-limbed, their skin grey and their eyes staring vacantly ahead. They are armed with a variety of machetes, axes and other simple tools.

The neo-Boukmans and Mahmoud recoil in fear, crossing themselves and muttering 'Zombi!'

Henry realizes he must set an example, and flings a petrol bomb at the advancing rank. It bursts accurately, spreading petrol over the first three zombies. Flame spreads over them, but, horrifyingly, they ignore it, continuing to shamble forward, hands outstretched, nothing but menace in their dead expressions.

From above, over the roar of flame, he can hear the sound of a helicopter approaching the island.

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