“Thank God someone else made it out” Burt said breathlessly. “I thought for a second I was the only one that got out of that hell-hole”.
Maybe Burt saw more than I did, and he knew more of what happened inside the locker room. I couldn’t help but ask.
“Did you see anyone else get out?” I asked. I shouldn’t have set my hopes so high, because Burt shook his head and crushed them.
He took a big sigh, and a few deep breaths, then delivered the bad news. “I saw Steven get taken down” Burt said, “He was making a run. I don’t think he made it”.
I don’t know why I asked, but I couldn’t restrain myself. “And Carson?”
He shook his head once more, though it was clear he didn’t hold as much remorse for him as he did for Steven. “He got carried out of the room by them. No one could survive that. I’m just glad he didn’t turn while we were all in that room”.
Despite what she had said earlier, Hannah visibly flinched hearing the unwelcome reality. No matter who Carson was, a death like that was undeserving of even the most heartless men.
Burt swallowed and tried to make her feel better. “He was going to die, Hannah. The stab wound got the disease inside of his body… if the zombies didn’t get to him then we would have had to kill him ourselves”. He looked guilty as though the whole thing was his fault. “I’m sorry…”
Now I felt mortified. Even though Hannah claimed to have liked me better, I just kissed her while her boyfriend was stabbed and consumed by mutants. She hugged me, but at this moment I couldn’t return the embrace.
Trent, Harry, Geoff, Maria, Steven, Rachel, Carson…all of them were killed, and by my hand. I still hoped that they had somehow survived. Maybe James Bond rushed in and threw a grenade in that killed all of the zombies I thought. That wasn’t the craziest theory I came up with.
It was a foolish decision. We sat in that room like sitting ducks! I could have spoken up, advised us to migrate into the hallway where we could be in a more safe and defensible position.
Then another thought hit me: did everyone really die? There was no way the entire room was completely wiped out. There had to be some straggler inside… someone made it. I could feel it.
“I want to go check the locker room” I said.
Burt looked at me as though I had just turned bright purple. “Are you crazy Tyler?” he exclaimed. “The zombies are probably still in there. You’ll be torn to pieces!”
“I owe it to those people to sacrifice my life to check” I replied. “I killed them all…”
“No!” Hannah said, grabbing my shoulder. “You didn’t do that, it wasn’t your fault!”
“I got you out at least” I said. I looked over at Burt. “I’m going to look for them. If in the case I don’t return…” I glanced over at Hannah, whose eyes were pleading with me to stay. I whispered in Burt’s ear, “Make sure she gets out”. He nodded the patted me on the back.
“You’re a cool guy Tyler” he said, struggling with words. Whoa. One of the most popular kids in school just said I was a cool guy. My fantasy story had come true, just with a different twist on it. I guess I’ll go down a hero…
I walked down the hallway towards the door that could just lead to my untimely demise. I turned around, taking one last look at who might be the last two people alive in this school other than me. I turned back towards the door and slowly opened it up…then I stepped inside.
Surprisingly… there were no zombies in the room. I let go of my breath and let out a sigh of relief. While I was prepared to sacrifice myself, I couldn’t imagine how terrible being killed at these monsters’ hands would feel.
Slowly, I crept back into the locker room, eyes quickly darting around, careful to locate any disturbances should a lone zombie or two be hiding somewhere. It seemed as though I was alone, and I proceeded to investigate the vicinity
I saw a pool blood over by the entrance, which was most likely from Carson I assumed. But there was no body… all that remained was the red substance, slowly drying onto the floor of the room.
There was a little creaking sound in the room. Instantly alert, I spun around and got into a fighting stance. Out of the back corner of the locker room, something crawled out of one of the locker doors. Part of me wanted to run out right then and there and alert Burt and Hannah, but then it spoke.
“Tyler? That you?” the figure asked. I recognized the voice instantly.
“Harry!” I shouted, running over to him. “How did you-“
“In the confusion, I slipped inside” he said. “Did you really think they’d take me down so easily?” he laughed, punching me on the shoulder. That had been the first real laugh I’ve heard in a while. It made me feel a little better. “All I did was stay quiet and wait for the bastards to run off. I haven’t heard them in a while so I think we’re in the clear”.
“Did you see where anyone else went?” I questioned, confidence returning. He nodded.
“Rachel hid in a different locker”. He called out, “It’s safe!”
She emerged from a locker few lockers down from the one Harry squeezed inside.
Rachel ran over and hugged Harry. “Oh…” she said breathlessly, hardly able to say anything. She looked over at me. “I thought for a second I was the only one left”.
“Burt and Hannah are in the back hallway” I said, “they both made it out OK”.
“So five of us?” Rachel said, sounding even more joyful.
“Let’s go meet up with them” Harry said. “It’s best if we stick together”. Even with this glorious instant, Harry got right back to business.
I led the two of them to the back door, then into the hallway. Hannah was sitting down again, crying, and Burt was leaning against the wall next to her. Both of them immediately bolted towards us.
“Tyler!” Hannah shouted. She ran over to me. “Don’t act so stupidly brave like that anymore!” She embraced me and started laughing. “There’s more of us then I thought” she said. “We still have a chance”.
“Did you see anyone else, by any chance” Burt asked Harry and Rachel. Both of them shook their heads.
“It was too chaotic to tell who was who and where everyone was running off to” Harry said.
“So Steven could still be alive” Burt commented, though it seemed as though he was just talking to himself.
“So there’s still Geoff, Steven, Maria, and Trent missing” Hannah said. “Let’s go back and look for them”.
“Where could they be?” Rachel offered the obvious yet hard to answer question.
“There’s no way they made it” I said. “I checked that room from top to bottom. No one could have made it out. And yet, they’re gone without a trace. They have to be somewhere…”
Harry suddenly clapped his hands. “I can’t believe I forgot this” Harry said. He walked me over away from the group and whispered in my ear. “You know how I’ve peeked into the girl’s locker rooms, right?” I nodded. “Well, I peeked through this one window from the storage room. Maybe some of them went inside there!”
We walked back over to the group. “What was that all about?” Rachel asked.
“There might be some more survivors” Harry said. “Follow me!”
Harry exited the hallway, our group following behind. The room continued to be deathly quiet. For once, we were in a safe position.
He led us back into the girl’s locker room and into the left-hand corner of the room. At the roof of the space was a small, rectangular window hanging open, revealing the storage room. Blood had stained the windowsill… someone must have had the idea to crawl through the entrance.
“How did you know about this?” Rachel asked Harry. It seemed she was beginning to respect him more and more.
“Magic” he said with a smile. Somehow his humor still survived in these dark times.
“Looks like the zombies forgot to close this one up” Burt commented. He stared hard at the window as though he had an invisible ruler in his mind taking measurements. “There’s no way I can fit through that” he said, shaking his head. “But the rest of you can” he said, gesturing to me and the others.
“I’m not sure I could make it either” I said, “but I’ll give it a go”.
“I’ll give you guys a boost up so you can get up easier” Burt said. Harry crawled through the little window first, followed by Rachel, then Hannah. I sized up the hole again, then crawled through. It was a tight fit, but I managed to make it inside the storage room.
Inside the storage room was quite the sight; the entire place was dark gray concrete, with gigantic shelves lining the walls. Resting on top of them were an assortment of cardboard boxes, some of them opened up or tipped over.
On the floor were storage containers surrounded by even more boxes. What would the school even need with this much storage space is a mystery.
Our now downsized group gazed around the big room. Harry finally made a comment. “They could’ve hid anywhere inside here…there’s so many boxes, niches…so much”.
I called out. “Hey, anyone in here!” Harry clasped a hand over my mouth.
“Keep it quiet, loudmouth” he said, “you might alert the zombies”. He was right, of course: I needed to keep my voice low. Even though Harry didn’t approve of my shouting, it must have worked. There was a faint sound of a box opening, and some cautious footsteps coming towards our position.
Over by one of the big shelves, I could see someone watching us. The head quickly retracted, then multiple figures emerged. It sounded as though they were whispering. We had become tense, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Those people could still be zombies. We didn’t know for sure.
The figures rounded the corner of the shelf, revealing themselves. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Trent, Geoff, and Maria… three of them! They were alive!
“Trent!” I shouted gleefully as soon as his face was in view. The rest of the group remained quiet, and it took me a moment to realize why.
Each of them was holding onto another figure. The other group of survivors ran over to us and laid the body on the floor.
“You guys are alive!” Rachel exclaimed.
“Yeah, yeah, sure. Give us a hand here, will you?” Geoff snapped back at her. I walked over to him and saw that the body that they had been carrying was Steven Federer.
He had been stabbed in the chest by a zombie claw. His white shirt had been torn open, revealing that his skin had been punctured by the talons; a ghastly scratch mark ran across his body. Blood was seeping out every second.
I was struck by a wave of emotion. He was a regular kid! Now his life was wasting away. The only good news was that he was at least barely clinging to life, and he appeared to not be infected.
“Oh God, Steven” I heard Harry say quietly.
“He’s lucky that the claws didn’t get any deeper, or he would be dead. His organs seem fine, but the cut is still pretty severe” Geoff briefed us in. “I need some bandage material of some kind to stop his bleeding”.
I heard Burt call from the window, clearly confused at the shaky reunion. “Hey, what’s going on up there?”
Hannah responded. “We found the other four… but Steven’s been injured”. There was a pause.
“There might be a First Aid kit in here. It might not help too much, but it’s something” came the reply, businesslike in nature.
Geoff was getting frantic. “Hurry up, if I don’t get something here he’s going to die!” Geoff, out of desperation, had torn off part of his own shirt to try and halt the bleeding, but his efforts weren’t enough.
“Maybe there’s something we can use in the crates” Trent said urgently, taking off in a sprint.
Maria put her head in her hands. “We’re all getting killed off” she whispered. “Who’s next?”
“Now is not the time for that” Geoff said softly, but he gave Maria a passing irritated look.
“He’s dying Geoff, what do you expect me to say? Hallelujah?!”
“I’d appreciate if you’d be optimistic for once in your life!” came Geoff’s cold reply.
“Oh damnit… I died and got casted in Grey’s Anatomy” Steven coughed, barely getting the words out. I was surprised he was capable of speaking at all.
His remark did help lighten the situation slightly. Geoff smiled briefly and turned away from his sister, ending the argument.
Maria’s comment scared me because of the truth of it: we all WERE kicking the bucket, one by one. If we didn’t get out of the hell which had at one time been a high school, we’d be doomed for sure.
“Here!” Burt shouted. A red bag was tossed in the room from the locker room. “I think there’s some bandages in there”.
Hannah ran over to retrieve the bag while Geoff tended to Steven.
“I need bandages now, or he’ll die from excessive bleeding” he repeated himself. Hannah rushed over and handed him some bandaging tape. “Oh thank God…I guess this will do” he said, grabbing the tape from her. There was a groan from Steven.
“It…hurts” he grunted, a few tears forming I his eyes. I had to give him credit for staying strong after an injury like that.
“Any disinfectant inside that bag?” Geoff asked Maria, “I need to clean the wound”. She nodded, then produced a bottle of the substance. Geoff squirted some of the stuff on the wound and did some other medical procedures that confused me.
“Augh!” Steven shouted. After putting on the disinfectant, Geoff carefully applied the tape on Steven, covering up the wound and ceasing the student’s bleeding.
“Well… that’s the best I can do” Geoff said as looked upon Steven, clearly disappointed in the lack of work he could accomplish. “Think you can move?”
“Augh…ow…” he gasped. Slowly, he tried to ease into a sitting position, then fell back on his back. “I don’t think I can”. He looked around at us, defeat evident in his eyes. “You should go on without me. I’ll just drag you down”.
“We’re not leaving anyone behind” I said. I looked over to my right and saw two metal poles about the same height as Steven. I ran over, grabbed them, then rushed back over to his side. “Maybe you can use these to prop yourself up” I said, handing over the poles. Steven reached out and took them, then slowly stood up using the poles for support. He nearly lost his footing, but he recovered.
“Still hurts like hell” he said, “but I’m on my feet”.
Trent came running back to our group “Did you guys get anything, cause I couldn’t find bandage material”.
Geoff nodded. “We’re all good. Steven’s bandaged up and standing”.
Steven sighed. “Now you guys have to carry around a cripple. How do you expect to escape if you’re dragging me along? Just leave me to die”.
“We’re all breaking out of here” Harry said defiantly. “Every one of us”. Rachel walked over by his side.
“You heard him. We’re all getting out of here”. Both of them looked at each other and looked each other. At least the two of them were getting along. The two of them made me wonder if we did find a way out, how would our lives continue? Would Hannah and I still be together, friends or more? Will Harry and Rachel hook up? Will we all be able to just walk away from something this traumatic?
“Well, that sounds really inspirational, but we’re still trapped in here” Steven said, bowing his head. “The windows and doors are sealed shut. There’s no way out of here”.
“There’s got to be a way to blow that stuff off” Trent said. “There’s no way that it’s indestructible”.
“Burt was planning earlier” Geoff started. “It is possible… what if we made a bomb? We’d commandeer a science room, construct some sort of explosive device, place it by a window and let it off. Then we’ll have a ticket out of here”.
“There’s only one problem” Maria said. “How are we supposed to get to a science room? There are probably going to be zombies around every corner”.
That was a really good question at this point. How in the world could we maneuver nine people through a zombie infested school into a science room? And one of those people wasn’t even in the room with us, and couldn’t make it inside if he tried. And an even better question, how were we going to construct an explosive devise without any experience in the area? So many questions, and a lot less answers.
I guess Burt got tired of standing around in the locker room. “Alright, the opening looks small, but I’m trying to get in. I can’t stay down her for forever. I might need some help though”.
“You sure you want to try?” I asked him, running over to the window.
“If we want to make some progress getting out of here, then yeah” he replied. He climbed on top of the lockers and began easing himself inside the window. However, he got stuck when about half of his body was through. He cursed, then started wriggling about and trying to free himself.
“Damnit, I’m stuck” he muttered. “Can you give me a hand?” he asked me. I bent down and grabbed one of his hands, then I began to pull him out. Trent came over and assisted me. It wasn’t easy, but we were able to get Burt out of there.
“Let’s not do that again” he said, shaking his head. He ran over to the others. “We got any plans from here?”
I guess he figured out we were at a complete loss at what we should do next, because all of us fell silent and began looking side to side, daydreaming about our own ridiculous realities. Steven finally spoke up.
“We were thinking about making a bomb using stuff from the science rooms” he said.
“That’s a good plan” Harry said, “but there’s just one big, unanswered question”. He shrugged. “How do we plan to actually do this stuff? I don’t think any of us know how to create an explosive devise or dissolving material”.
“We can experiment” Rachel suggested.
“But how do we experiment during a zombie apocalypse? We’ll get chewed up” Maria countered.
“I’d have to believe there’s some experiment plans in the science rooms” Trent said. “Maybe we can gain something from them”.
I finally had an idea strike my head. “The burners use propane, right?” I asked for clarification. Everyone nodded. “Propane is explosive material, right?” There was more head shaking, more enthusiastic this time. “Then let’s use it to make a bomb”.
“Alright, that’s one ingredient” Burt said. “But we’re going to need something more”.
“Like a fuse” Steven pointed out.
“We’ll need a match to light the propane” Rachel said, which was followed by a “right!” from Harry.
All the ideas came flowing at once and piled on top of each other. It was a glorious moment of teamwork… the zombies were away from our position for the time; we had the time to plan out something. And it was beginning to raise our spirits.
“We still need a way to get all of this done” Maria pointed out.
“She’s right” Geoff said. “Standing here and listing cooking ingredients without the pot is useless. Any ideas?”
After coming so close to a breakthrough, we were halted once more. I could tell everyone was getting impatient at this point, desperate to figure out the correct method.
Trent voiced his idea. “I’ve been thinking, just thinking, that there’s a few golf carts left in the gym’s storage room from our golfing field trip. Remember that?”
“Trent, that was years ago, and since then the school has had to sell some stuff because of budget problems” I said. “Besides, do you really think we can win a zombie apocalypse with golf carts?” His idea sounded completely ridiculous, and right now we didn’t have time for such things.
“It’s a better plan than what we have now” he replied, his eyes giving off a determined look. I sighed, then nodded, agreeing to his plan.
“They’re pretty small, but they can fit four people a cart and can go pretty fast. We can burst through the gym doors into the main entrance and make a run for the science rooms”.
“Road rage” Harry snickered, “now THAT’S what I’m talking about!”
“Sorry Trent, but it does sound pretty far-fetched” Steven chipped in.
“If we ride instead of run, you won’t be an issue. We could transport you easily” Trent said.
“This does seem really stupid” Burt said. He sighed. “But I guess it’s the best we can do for now. If we find these carts, we don’t go riding unarmed. We should grab some melee weapon of some kind to fend the zombies off”.
Trent nodded. “Good idea. Maybe we could grab some golf clubs”.
I turned to the girls, who had been quiet during the discussion. “You guys in?” I asked them.
“I’ll go” Rachel said, standing beside Harry.
Hannah walked over beside me. “I’m in” she said defiantly.
“We’ll need to find some weapons around here” Burt said, looking around the expanse of the storage room. “We don’t go riding unarmed. We’re all gonna have to carry something to protect ourselves. These golf carts aren’t exactly the safest things, we’ll need to be able to fight them off if necessary.”
Plenty of containers were dispersed throughout the space; some sort of possible weaponry had to be hidden in the contents. Without wasting any more time, we scattered around the room, searching for anything that could fend off the zombies.
It was the first time I felt like we were now a united team. We had stood around and we had formulated a plan that could deliver us to survival. I was getting over-excited; it felt as though freedom was just a stone’s throw away.
Harry, Rachel and I ventured in the right-hand corner of the room, teaming up in order to tip over more crates to view their contents. They were standing so close to each other they were practically holding hands. I didn’t hear what they were talking about… but I felt happy for Harry. He always wanted to be with Rachel, though it wasn’t an ordinary relationship given the circumstances.
I took my attention off of them. I was joyful, yes, but I had to remain serious or we would never leave this place. That’s when I looked up and saw plastic barrels assorted on the shelf above me. There were hockey sticks, golf clubs, baseball bats… all the gym sports essentials. It was what we were looking for.
“Hey, here we are!” I announced to Harry and Rachel, indicating the barrels.
“I’ve always wanted to play golf with zombie skulls” Harry remarked. “We’ve just got to get them down here somehow”.
Rachel, without warning, leapt up and grabbed onto the ledge of the shelf, carrying herself on top of it in mere seconds.
“We’ll need the others, it’ll be hard to hand this stuff down” she instructed. Harry was too lovestruck to move.
“Come on now” I told him, “I’d be careful. They haven’t cast me as Romeo yet, Lover Boy”.
He grinned, and we ran off to bring the group back together to handle the barrels. Burt ended up heading the process, being the strongest, and soon enough we were armed to the teeth with melee weapons.
Everything went so fast. We were standing in a circle, planning, then we ran off to get the barrels… then, perhaps inevitably, tragedy struck.
With weapons in hand and a plan in mind, we were ready to progress. Not wanting to stand around and waste more time, we ran off to search for the carts.
“Where’d you say those things were again?” Geoff asked Trent as we ran.
“Gym storage room” he replied.
“The gym?” Harry exclaimed, causing us all to come to a halt. “The zombies practically own it now. We’d need another diversion or some sort of transportation. I don’t think our feet will fly us over there”.
There was a moment of silence as Harry’s words sunk in.
Trent clenched his fist. “God damn, how could I have forgotten that” he muttered. “So busy trying to get out we don’t know what to do inside”.
I shook my head, refusing to believe there was yet another seemingly impassable roadblock blocking our path. “There has to be something we can do, something!”
“Like what, light some fireworks and let ‘em fly?” Burt snapped. “We’re gonna have to find some other route to get to a science room.
“If you think we’re running” Steven chimed in, “you might as well leave me behind”.
“Steven’s in no condition to be moving. Even what he’s doing right now isn’t recommended” Geoff commented.
I started pacing frantically, denial seeping in. “We can get through the gym, okay? There’s a method, there’s something we can try—“
“Like what?” Maria questioned. “I’m honestly curious at this point. We’ve made no progress ever since we started in the locker room. We’ve gone backwards. We’re all just dying off because there’s nothing else that can be done!”
“Will you stop being such a pessimist?!” I snapped. “If we believe in our abilities as a group we can get out of this thing”.
“There has to be…” Trent said, his voice trailing off.
I looked around hysterically, hoping for someone to speak up and help me find some sort of solution. In a matter of seconds, it seemed, the resolve of our assemblage had crumbled.
After coming this far, we were just held up once again, and it didn’t seem as though there was any way we could escape. Maybe we won’t find a way out, and just wait for our unavoidable deaths in the storage room. If the zombies didn’t get us, starvation and dehydration would eventually do us in. Were we finally doomed to die by this horrible fate?