Imagine if all of your friends were dead. Sounds like a bad dream, right? Now imagine if in just a matter of hours, you were the only one left alive, and all of your friends that were dead came back, and they came back hungry. For me, this wasn’t a bad dream, but the bleak reality.
I never thought this would be how my life would end. Here I am all alone, barricaded in a high school government classroom. My friends and teachers, well the things that used to be my friends and teachers, are banging on the door. Bloody hands are reaching through the broken window panes behind me, trying to grab hold of me to pull me outside and tear me to shreds. My hoodie is coated with blood and the hatchet I took from the Ag Shop is caked with gore. My best friend is lying on the floor in a puddle of his own blood by the desk in the corner of the room, dead by my hand. So here I am, looking back on my day, trying to figure out how and why this happened to me.
I was standing on the middle of the stage surrounded by my teammates and coaches, confetti rained down all around us. The roster said I was starting left tackle for the Panthers, and we had just upset the Patriots on football’s biggest stage. As I looked out among the sea of Carolina blue, everyone was chanting “Champions! Champions! Champions!” Even though lights glared down on us and the chants drowned out everything else, I could hear the commissioner as he congratulated coach on the victory. Coach began motioning for everyone to be quiet so he could make a short speech. As the roar of the crowd died down, coach started to speak, “I’d like to……” The next words were silenced by an ear-splitting alarm.
I awoke with a start. “Damn alarm,” I grumbled as I silenced the alarm with a smack. Like every guy, my childhood dream was to play in the NFL. Most dreams come to an end though, and mine was ripped from my grasp by a vicious cut block my junior year. The only things that reminded me of my childhood dreams were my actual dreams and a nagging pain in my knees whenever I’m on my feet too long. My dreams were more realistic now: to go to college, meet and marry the girl of my dreams, raise a family, and become a successful history teacher. I didn’t want to get out of bed, mainly because I had school today, and that meant facing my ex-girlfriend, Skylar. I had just dumped her last week, when I caught her cheating on me with Malcolm, the tight end on the varsity football team. Needless to say, there was still a lot of bad blood there. Finally, I decided that if I wanted to get to school on time I needed to get up.
As I dragged myself out of my bed, I looked out my window. “Perfect. Not only is it Monday, but it’s a cloudy, depressing Monday,” I complained as I headed out of my room and up the stairs to get ready for school. To no surprise, I was the only living soul in my empty house. Mom was still at the hospital, where she is an ER nurse, and Dad had already left for work. The house was silent except for the sound of the water running in the shower, and my iPod blaring Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Little did I know, Thriller’s iconic music video was about to become a nightmarish reality. Turning off the scalding water, I stepped out of the shower finally feeling awake. The TV in the kitchen snapped to Fox News as I hit the power button on my way to my room. I quickly dressed, pulling on a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt, and a full-zip black hoodie. Pulling on my Jordan sneakers, I glanced around my room, suddenly feeling as if this would be the last time I see it. Dismissing that foolish speculation with a laugh, I headed back upstairs.
I began fixing myself a bowl of Corn Pops, when I noticed that the Fox News anchor seemed to be in disbelief of what she was saying. I turned towards the TV just in time to catch the last of what the anchor was saying: “…the CDC has issued a widespread warning this morning, informing the public that the disease that has been dubbed the ‘Super-Flu’ has now reached an epidemic level and that there are more reports of Super-Flu victims coming back to life after being pronounced dead. When the Oval Office was asked for a statement, President Obama’s press secretary had this to say: ‘There is no inherent danger to the American public. These reports of the recently deceased victims of this ‘Super-Flu’ are entirely false. The American people should go about their daily lives as usual, and take the precautions they would during the flu season. Thank you.’ We now take you to our White House correspondent Mike Brown, who is on Pennsylvania Avenue this morning. What’s the situation like there, Mike?”
“Thank you Julia. There have been 200 reported cases of the Super-Flu throughout the capitol within the last week. As of this morning, the last of those cases has died. As you can hear behind me, sirens are blaring everywhere. The military has increased its presence on the White House lawns this morning, in response to what the government is calling a breakout of riots in surrounding George Washington University Hospital, which is where all of the Super-Flu cases were at. Whether there is a connection between the Super-Flu and these riots is all just speculation right now. Back to you, Julia.”
“Thank you, Mike. Stay safe. In other news…”
“Damn, things are going downhill fast,” I said to no one in particular, “I’m glad that kind of stuff doesn’t happen here.” With that thought lingering on my mind, I grabbed my keys and backpack, and headed to the car. I climbed in the car, tossed my bag into the passenger seat, and stuck the key into the ignition. After a couple of tries, the engine roared to life, and the news on the radio began saying: “The situation in our nation’s capital has degraded. The riots continue to rage throughout the city. The rioters have been reported to not react to the SWAT teams sent in. We’ll keep you updated on the situation.” “I’m getting sick of this,” I said as I cut off the news and turned on some music.
Halfway to school, I noticed a guy stumbling around on the side of the road. I started to pull over to help him, but realizing that stopping would make me late, I drove on by him. In my rearview mirror, I saw another driver pull over and get out of her car to help the man. The woman was trying to help the man up, when he grabbed her and threw her to the ground. Before she could jump up, the man dropped down on her and appeared to try to bite her. Shocked by what I’m witnessed, I stomped on the gas and got the hell out of there.
Finally arriving at school, I sat in my car, shell-shocked, and tried to contemplate what the hell just happened. My best friend, Dale, climbed out of his car at the same time I stepped out of mine. We exchanged the usual “Morning.” and “What’s up?” but being as close as brothers since the fourth grade, Dale could tell I had something on my mind. “What’s bothering you, man?” he asked.
“Well, I was watching the news this morning, and it seems like all the rumors about the Super-Flu are true. Washington is consumed with riots, and they all center on hospital where there was a Super-Flu outbreak,” I explained to him.
“Yeah. I saw all of that on the news this morning too, but I don’t see why that would make the rumors true. You aren’t seriously saying that you think the people that die of this Super-Flu are coming back to life, are you?”
“I don’t know. I know it sounds crazy, but I saw a guy bite a woman this morning on my way to school.”
I then proceeded to tell him about the man attacking the woman. When I finished telling him my story, I asked him what he thought about it. Before he could respond the bell rang and we both hurried to our classes.
The situation in D.C. was the talk of my first period Ag class. My teacher, Mr. Wright, cut on the news, so we could see what updates, if any, there were. The anchor was no longer at her desk, instead an automated message ran on a loop. The message said, “We, here at Fox News, apologize for breaking the news like this. We have lost all contact with Washington D.C. The last transmission we received was a video of the rioters attacking, biting, and killing our own Mike Brown. One of the rioters knocked over the camera, and we had a glimpse of the gaping wound in Mike’s neck. There is no doubt that he was dead, but after a few minutes, Mike stood up and began walking away. There is no doubt now. The rumors are true. The dead are coming back to life. After numerous attempts to contact D.C. Metro Police, the Pentagon, and even the White House failed, we have to assume that Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, is no more. We have all left the station to be with our families in this dark time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this crisis. May God bless you all and may God bless the United States of America.”
When the message was over, Mr. Wright turned off the TV. He was beginning to speak when the principal came over the school-wide intercom, “The school is now under a lockdown. There are numerous unidentified people on campus. They have already attacked two students and one faculty member. Please stay in your rooms until further notice. Thank you.”
Mr. Wright hurried us to the tool room, and locked the door. We were sitting there maybe an hour when my friend Zach started coughing. He swore up and down that he was fine and it was just allergies, so no one thought anything of it. A few minutes later, Zach had another coughing fit and collapsed. Sarah, another student, said she was qualified to do CPR, and began to check his pulse. “He has no pulse!” she cried out.
Sarah began to do CPR on Zach, but to no luck. After about five minutes, she gave up, moved to the corner of the room, and started to cry. We tried to console her, but to no avail. The only sounds in the small cramped room were our own breathing and Sarah’s soft sobs. Soon after, another sound became evident, a soft moan. I glanced over at Zach’s body, which Mr. Wright had draped a sheet he found on a shelf over. I kept watching the body, and when the next moan came, I saw Zach’s hand move ever so slightly. As I began to get Mr. Wright’s attention, Sarah fell into a coughing fit. That’s when I realized that something was horribly wrong. I turned towards Mr. Wright, who had been sitting by Zach’s body, only to see him looking at Zach as well.
Suddenly, Zach sat straight up, the cover falling off him to reveal his face. What once was my friend was now something completely different. His jaw was slack, and although his eyes were open, there were no signs of life in them. Zach turned towards Mr. Wright and before I knew what happened, Zach pounced on top of Mr. Wright and began biting and tearing at Mr. Wright’s neck. Blood went flying from his neck, painting the room with a dark red, turning it into a vivid painting of Hell. Everyone began screaming and running out of the tool room, and with a last thought as we escaped the tool room, I grabbed a hatchet that had been hanging on the wall by the door and stuck it in my waistband of my jeans. I was the last one out of the room and slammed the door shut as Zach was struggling to his feet, with nothing but hunger in his eyes.
As we sat in the main shop, listening to two sets of hungry hands bang on the tool room door, we tried to figure out a plan. Just then, then garage door that opened to the outside, caved in, broken down by a mass of bodies. It was more of those things, the things that Zach and Mr. Wright had turned into. Without thinking, I ran the other direction, out of the side door of the Ag shop. When I made it to the hall, I had to watch my step, because the floors were slick with blood and gore. I texted Dale and told him to meet me in the government classroom, because there wasn’t a first period government class, so the room would be empty. As I quietly made my way to the government classroom, I took in the scenes of carnage all around me. From the inside of classrooms, I could hear the pleas of mercy as students began to turn and attack their classmates. There were three eighth graders attacking and devouring the art teacher. I saw the French teacher pounce out of a classroom onto a student who was trying to escape. She tore into the student, gorging herself on the student’s intestines. Horrified by what I was beholding, I quickly and quietly made my way to the classroom.
I arrived at the government classroom the same time as Dale. I was about to speak when I saw the thing that was my English teacher start sprinting towards us. I shoved Dale inside the empty classroom and pulled the slammed the door shut behind us. We proceeded to push all the desks in front of the door, creating a makeshift barricade. We then sat alongside the far wall and tried to figure out what the hell happened.
Dale spoke first, “Dude, were they what I think they were?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “They were zombies, but they’re not the Haitian voodoo zombies like we were learning about in English.”
“Or the Romero zombies like in that movie we watched last weekend,” Dale said, “so what are they?”
We sat in a silence, or as close to silence as possible with the moans of the undead horde that was trying to force its way into the room, for a few minutes. Then I connected all the dots.
“The Super-Flu! That’s what caused the zombies,” I told Dale. I then started explaining what had happened since the lockdown was put into effect: “Zach had the virus, and I watched as he died. Sarah tried to save him by performing CPR, but all that accomplished was infecting her. Zach came back to life and attacked Mr. Wright. We had locked those two into the tool room in the Ag shop and were trying to figure out what to do when a group of those things, those zombies, broke down the garage door in the shop. That’s when I ran. Man, I saw some really sick stuff on the way up here, like Miss West, the French teacher, jump on and disembowel a freshman. This is so messed up.”
“I know what you mean man,” Dale replied, “I saw Dr. Smith, the principal eating his secretary, and the resource officer get taken down by two juniors. There was blood everywhere. I also saw Skylar…”
“Was she alive or dead?” I implored.
“Well,” he began, “I thought she was alive, so I yelled out to her. She spun around and I saw that half of her cheek was missing. She looked at me with those cold, hungry eyes, and before I knew what happened, she was on top of me clawing at my throat. She managed to bite my arm, but it didn’t break the skin. I tried to hold her off with one hand while I grabbed a pen off the floor. When she lunged for my throat again, I drove the pen through her eye as far in as it would go. She dropped like a sack of potatoes. After that I just took off, and met you here.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re ok man,” I replied, “We’ll wait this out here and hope help shows up.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he would probably turn before the night was over. Instead, I told him, “Dude, why don’t you try to rest? Go lay by the desk over there, and I’ll keep an eye on the door.”
“You sure?” he asked. When I nodded, he said, “Thanks man. Wake me up if you get tired.”
“Okay,” I replied. Dale went and lay down, and the horde kept trying to break through the door. The sunlight began to fade, so I went over to the wall and flicked the switch. To my amazement, the lights still worked. Although they acted as a beacon to the undead that had begun surrounding the school, I felt better trying to fight an enemy I could see than fighting in the dark.
Around midnight, the moment I was dreading came into being. I heard Dale fall into a coughing fit, so I went and checked on him. I didn’t see any movement when I glanced over him, and he seemed to be no longer breathing. Checking for a pulse, and coming up empty, I readied the hatchet I took from the Ag shop for the inevitable merciful act I had to commit. As I brought my arm back for the swing that would make sure Dale would not awaken as one of those things, his eyelids fluttered. I hesitated, as his eyes opened and his jaw went sack. The only things that shook me from my stupor were the dead look in my best friend’s, eyes and the bloodcurdling moan that emanated from his throat. Without a second thought, I brought the hatchet down on his neck repeatedly. Blood splattered everywhere as I quickly hacked through flesh, muscle, and bone. In what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was only a matter of seconds, I had lopped off his head. Covered in Dale’s blood, and realizing what I had just done, I began to shake uncontrollably. I moved to the far wall away from Dale’s body, and slipped to the ground.
That is where I am now. Sitting against the wall, covered in my best friend’s blood, I watch as the zombies outside the door begin to break through the hastily erected barricade. I have lost everything; I can smell the smoke coming in through the broken windows, smoke from my hometown burning. Hoping to find a reason to keep fighting, I pull out my cell phone, trying to call my mom, when I realize that she had been trying to call me and left a voicemail. Punching in my code, I begin to listen to the message: “Ricky, this is Mom. The office called, saying your dad wasn’t feeling well. I went and picked him up, and I’m taking him to the hospital. I’m afraid he has that Super-Flu that everyone has been coming down with lately. I left some money on the kitchen tab………OH NO!!” There is a horrific sound of metal tearing and screams that could have only come from my parents. Then I hear that horrid sound that could only have originated from the darkest depths of hell, that bloodcurdling moan, the same moan Dale had made before I ended him. Listening closely for any signs left in the voicemail of what had happened to my parents, I hear my dad say, “Ricky, don’t worry about your mother and I. We are heading to a better place now. Be strong son. I love you, Ricky.” The message then abruptly ends, and I’m left sitting here holding my phone wanting this all to be just a bad dream. The windows behind me explode inwards, jerking me from my thoughts of self-loathing and showering me in shards of glass. Zombies of every size, from the elderly to children who looked to still be in kindergarten, begin reaching through the windows trying to pull me to my death.
“Okay,” I tell myself, “I just killed my best friend, my parents are dead, and everyone else is either dead or has been turned into zombies. Eventually, they are going to make it into this room and I’ll be dead as well. That barricade won’t hold much longer, so if I’m going to die, it’ll be on my terms, and if my time is now, I’m going to take some of them with me.” Hauling myself to my feet, I grab my hatchet and prepare myself for my last hurrah. I move towards the door, and with one great push, clear most of the desks out of the way. I fling open the door and began hacking away at the horde.
The first couple of hacks of the hatchet drop a few zombies, but then it becomes embedded into the skull of a fallen zombie, and the corpse wrenches it from my grasp. I realize that my time has come, so I give up the fight. Numerous hands begin clawing at my clothes, ripping through my hoodie and t-shirt. Undead jaws began biting into my arms and legs, tearing away chunks of flesh with every bite. The last thing I feel before I fade into blackness is the cold, strong, unforgiving clamp of jaws around my throat. The clamp tightens, and then, as my throat is torn away from my neck, my life ends.