We all looked around the storage room, seeking for some way we could distract the zombies long enough to get to the gym’s storage room. I guess what Burt said was right: unless we had fireworks or something equivalent to it, we were trapped in here.
I looked around at everyone. They seemed so scared, nervous, desperate. I couldn’t let any of them die. No one should die. We have to get out of this, there has to be a way.
Burt cursed. “There’s nothing in here. And if we keep looking, by the time we do get something by chance, the zombies will already be breathing down our necks. We’re done” he said with a tone of defeat in his voice.
His words had finally voiced the truth. Our tough guy had finally broken, and without him I could already feel the energy in the room had become nonexistent.
He was right. We were done for, dead, just vulture chow waiting for the vultures to circle in.
Hannah sat down against the wall and bowed her head. Maria joined her. Geoff and Steven stood next to each other, both of them at a loss for words. Burt had no clever plan or idea to dish out, and neither did Trent. It was excruciating to watch my group just fall apart before my eyes… We couldn’t die. We made progress! We could still live!
But if we could… then some sort of thought would’ve been voiced. I had no strategy, nor did Burt or Trent or Geoff… or anybody. I was just being hypocritical at this point…
I kept looking. The desire to evade demise at the hand of zombies was possessing me, and I began to look around the storage room frantically, akin to a clown romping around a stage.
I looked behind me to see the others hardly moving, just staring at the ground, waiting for their blood to be spilled upon it.
I began to break.
“Someone help me!” I shouted at them, unconscious to keeping my voice low.
There was no reaction. They didn’t even have the strength to fire their words at my optimism and shoot it down. Then again, it became less optimism and more ignorance as the minutes passed by.
Harry however, had an angry expression on his face. All of this time, he had been looking back and forth between the gym and the forklift that remained in the storage room. Maybe he was devising his own clever plan to get us out of here. I later learned what it was… and how much I wished it wasn’t true.
After standing there for a bit, Harry finally snapped.
He looked around at all of us. “Come on guys!” he shouted, which was unlike him. “We can’t just sit here and do nothing! I know it seems bleak, but can’t we do, try, something! We’ve made it this far, and yeah, it’s been hell for us, and yeah we seem pretty stuck, but that doesn’t mean we sit down and just WAIT to die!”
Rachel walked over to him. “Harry, we are trying, it just doesn’t seem-“
“No!” Harry interrupted her, another surprise for me. “We’re not trying! This isn’t trying!”
“Harry, take it down a notch man” Trent said, trying to calm him down.
“I’m not gonna sit here and die a fool’s death” he said. Rachel stood beside him and put her hand on his shoulder.
“What’s up?” I asked seriously, approaching him. Harry had never acted like this way before. Ever. Just a few minutes ago he was smiling and laughing. Now he had turned into… I don’t even know. But he was angry and fed up.
By now, everybody had all eyes on him.
“Harry, please” Rachel pleaded.
Suddenly, Harry bolted over to the forklift resting by one of the large storage shelves. I couldn’t believe what he was doing… It seemed as though Harry had thrown away his old personality and decided to go on autopilot. He got onto the vehicle and turned it on. I ran after him, followed by Trent, Burt, and Rachel. Shocked, the others stood back and watched from afar. Things had begun to escalate.
“Harry!” I shouted at him, “What the hell are you doing!”
Harry sighed, then turned to look at me. “You know, when a guy goes through an apocalypse, he starts thinking things over about life”. I opened my mouth to speak, but lost the words. What the hell was he talking about? Learning about life in an infection? He paused, took a deep breath. He looked as though he had been doing some serious life thinking. He began delivering his ultimatum. “Life is too short. You gotta live it to the best degree. And up to now know I haven’t”.
Burt chimed in. “Harry, where is this going?”
“Look at our situation, Burt!” Harry snapped. “It’s bleak. We’ve already lost two men, one of them being Michael Laney. He barely had a chance to start living! His life was cut too short. And I don’t want anyone else losing their life too abruptly today”.
Rachel must have figured out what Harry was planning on doing. “Don’t do this Harry” she said, her voice barely a whisper.
“Please, man, there’s no need-“
Harry cut me off. “There is a need! Burt, you said it yourself” Harry said, gesturing to Burt, “Unless we have fireworks or something like it, we won’t get anywhere”.
Trent ran over to him. “We can find a way around this, you don’t have to do this!”
Harry pushed him aside. “I’m not turning back” he said. Harry and I made eye contact. His eyes had a defiant look to them. No matter what we said, he wouldn’t back down. He had his mind set on what he was doing, like it or not.
He stopped for a bit, took another deep breath, then told us his plan. “I’ll… charge into the gym” Harry said, his voice much quieter now. “I’ll be able to distract the zombies long enough for you to make it into the storage room”.
Geoff shouted back at him. “There must be another solution to this!”
“No, there’s not Mr. Logic!” Harry shot back. “There is no way around this”.
Rachel got up on the forklift and stood there, her eyes still pleading for him to get off of the forklift. Harry’s eyes answered back. He wasn’t going to change his decision. He turned away, but Rachel turned him back. She kissed him, right then and there, then backed off of the vehicle. Even she knew there was nothing else to do.
There was pain in Trent’s eyes. “I can’t tell you otherwise” he said.
Burt stood where he was and nodded to him. Looking at him, I could tell he too didn’t want Harry to go through with this, but he didn’t seem to have another plan up his sleeve and respected Harry’s decision.
Hannah and Maria were both crying. They had known Harry well too. Geoff was next to them, at a complete loss for words.
Harry took a deep breath. “As soon as I go in” he said, “you guys gotta run. As fast as you can”.
I nodded, a single tear coming from my eye. In my mind, all of my memories of Harry were flashing by. I still couldn’t believe he was doing this, but couldn’t help but admire the courage my friend had built up to do this for us. At this point, salvation didn’t seem as sweet-sounding as it did back in the lockers with everyone grouped up together, planning. Now we had lost two from our group, now three. Surviving sucked.
“Let’s do this” he said. He gave one final smile, then charged into the gym.
“You heard what he said” Burt spoke up, rallying us on, charged by Harry’s energy. “Move it, people!”
We had been revitalized… resurrected. We ran into the gym all together, as fast as humanly possible.
We moved as fast as we could into the gym. The double doors opening up to it seemed to blow open in our wake. Trent pointed up ahead at another pair of doors that led to a hallway which would take us to the gym storage room. Our feet seemed to fly us over there: our bodies were all running on overdrive. The multitude of zombies around us didn’t pay attention to us at all: Harry’s distraction was working.
As we ran, I looked over and saw Harry charging into a crowd of zombies with the forklift. They scratched and clawed at him, bit him and kicked him, did all sorts of things, but he still remained firm on the seat of his vehicle.
“Catch me, you bastards, I dare you!” he shouted at them.
I found myself standing in my place, looking at Harry charge into the infected students. I started crying, unable to hold the tears back. There was one of my best friends, sacrificing himself for the benefit of our group. And not only that, be he didn’t flinch at all: he assaulted the zombies without budging.
Suddenly, a zombie leaped up and took him down off of the forklift! The zombies crowded around him and began tearing him apart, his body parts flying in the air as the infected eagerly tore him to bits. It all happened so quickly.
“No!” I shouted. I started running after him as though I could make it in time to somehow save him, fix him, make him live so I could still laugh with him and he could be my friend… but someone grabbed my shirt and pulled my back. I turned to see Hannah there.
“There’s nothing you can do, we gotta go!” she shouted. She led me into the double doors leading into the storage room where everyone else was waiting. I took one last glance over my shoulder and was surprised to see Harry standing there. Was I dreaming?
He waved at me and shouted after me, “Good luck man!” Even in death, he rallied me on.
Hannah led me inside the safety of the gym storage room. It looked about the same as the main storage room, except a bit smaller. Other than that, each room had giant shelves with equally giant boxes. I didn’t care about minute details at this point.
I banged my fist on a wall. Harry was gone. One of my best friends in the world just died in front of my eyes. I had seen him get torn apart, saw him charge, saw that one last smile he gave off.
“Damnit Harry, why’d it have to go this way” I whispered, still crying from earlier.
“Tyler…” Geoff began.
“I just want to grieve” I said simply. “I just want to grieve…”
Burt put his hand on my shoulder and brought me back up my full height.
“He didn’t die in vain. We’ve made it in here. Now it’s time we get to those carts”. Why can’t I give people inspiration like him?
A moment of silence reigned. I dried my tears and I was no longer sniffling.
“They should be around here somewhere” Trent said, the words hardly coming out. He was trying hard to hold back the tears he wanted to let go so much for Harry, but I could tell he didn’t want to have low spirits. That’s what Harry would’ve told him anyway.
We spread out in the storage room and searched for the carts. Geoff and I looked together in the top right corner, our feet tapping on the concrete in syncopation as we paced around the many shelves.
“That guy, Harry, did what no one else here could’ve done” Geoff said. “He sacrificed himself to get us here so we might get a chance out. It takes a lot of courage to do that”. Geoff shook his head. “I tried to stop him… but sometimes life throws a wall and there’s only one way to break through it”.
Geoff’s comment made me feel a little better, but I still couldn’t get over the sight of Harry being on that forklift one second, then being in pieces the next. I also pondered over his last words: “sometimes life throws a wall and there’s only one way to break it”. No wonder Geoff was so smart, he could qualify to be a philosopher.
We turned the corner and saw something that made my day. “I’ll be damned” I muttered.
Parked right in front of Geoff and I were the golf carts from that golfing field trip. Trent had been right. There they sat, those little white cars that would send us over to possible survival.
Just as we found it, Trent and Rachel rounded the opposite corner and spotted the carts for themselves.
“Well, what did I tell you, Tyler? There they are!” he let out a little laugh. “This is exactly what we need”.
Burt, Hannah, Steven, and Maria came over to us as they heard our discussion. “I can’t believe it” Maria said, finally getting high hopes, “We got a chance at this!”
Steven walked over to the cart and checked them out. “They got enough gas to get us close enough to a science room. We’re just gonna have to move quickly. There’s a ramp over by the stairs leading to the top floor by the main entrance. You guys know that?”
“Yeah” Hannah said, “that’s the handicap ramp. You think a golf cart can up that?”
“Either that” Steven said, “or we park the carts at the stairs and run. Then I know for a fact I’ll be dead before the first step. And there’s no guarantee that we all make it safely”.
“Yeah, Steven can’t run, much less walk” Geoff said. “Going up that ramp’s our only chance”.
I could tell from the looks off of everyone’s faces that they weren’t too hot on the idea of having to combat infected students. But at this point I don’t think they cared: the events that have happened in the past could’ve hardened a first grader into a battle-ready soldier.
“Well, no use standing around. We need to go now” Rachel said boldly.
Burt got onto the first golf cart, in the driver’s seat. “We gotta get moving now before Harry’s distraction wears off. There’s no doubt in my mind they can knock down the doors in here as easily as the cafeteria door”.
Everyone got around, preparing for the final push. I accidently bumped into Hannah as I walked to one of the carts. Our eyes met. Quickly, I gave her a kiss and whispered “we’ll be okay”.
Steven slowly sat himself down on the back of Burt’s cart. Maria rode up front while Rachel sat next to Steven. Trent got into the driver’s seat of the second cart. Hannah sat next to him and I sat in the back with Geoff.
“Alright Trent, know where to go from here?” Geoff asked him.
“Well, only way out is through the gym” Trent replied.
Rachel shook her head. “You gotta be kidding me. We have to go through there again?”
“Sorry, it’s the only way” Trent said.
Burt sighed. “I was under the impression we weren’t going through there. Well let’s get ready then”.
Following Burt’s cart, Trent rode up behind him. He stopped at the door leading to the gym.
“Soon as I go through, you guys tail behind” Burt said. “You guys ready?”
Trent clenched his fists on the steering wheel. “Kill all sons of bitches. That’s my official instructions”.
With that Burt barged through the gym door, and we were off! The speedy golf carts carried us through in no time at all. A zombie leaped at me just before we got out of the gym, and I beat it back with the baseball bat I carried with me.
We went out of the gym and into the secondary entrance, where we were greeted by even more of those mutants: so many of them. It seemed as though every conceivable place to stand was filled by a zombie.
The place looked like a complete mess; the tile flooring was stained with human remains and fluids, doors were broken off their hinges, papers and office supplies had been tossed into the open… it was as though a tornado walked in the door. All I was concerned about at the time were the fifty-or-so zombies crowding the space.
“Damn, there’s so many!” Burt cursed. He knocked the head of one of the zombies off of its body with his golf club, and took another swing at a zombie that charged at him.
Trent was trying his best to beat the zombies off of him, but since he was driving he couldn’t defend himself well. An infected jumped out at him. I reacted quickly and hit his attacker square in the chest. The zombie went flying into the horde behind it, knocking them over. While I was distracted helping Trent, one of the zombies grabbed my foot and nearly dragged me off! However, it suddenly let go. I looked over at Hannah who had hit the infected that assaulted me with her hockey stick.
After managing to get through the secondary entrance bruised and battered, we were in a long hallway leading to the main lobby, which we could see up ahead. “Just continue on, it’s up ahead” Rachel commented. When we were around halfway to the lobby, a huge horde of zombies burst out of the library.
“More of them?” Trent said breathlessly.
The horde charged at full sprint, not wasting time to group. One of the zombies at the head of the pack leaped out at Maria. Scared, she covered her face to defend herself, forgetting to hit the zombie with the baseball bat she carried. Burt beat the creature of with his golf club.
“You gotta hit those things off, I can only watch so much at one time!” Burt instructed her. Maria nodded, a new look in her eyes as though saying “They won’t get me next time”.
We swung at the horde with our weapons and ran them down with the golf carts, and eventually we were able to power through the mass crowd of zombies. The golf carts were battered and covered with the blood of those creatures. I looked around to see if everyone was ok, better than the cart at least. Most of the people in our group at this point we covered with cuts and bruises from the infected.
“There’s the ramp!” Steven said triumphantly, pointing ahead to the handicap ramp.
“It’s too small!” Burt shouted, realizing this as he drew nearer, “We won’t be able to make it!”
“We gotta try!” Steven responded. The ramp seemed extremely small, but we had to give it a go. It was do or die time: would we make it or have to continue on foot?
Trent gritted his teeth. “Hold on!” he shouted. The ramp did seem too small, so I gripped on to the railing on the cart behind me for dear life. Hannah, seeing what I was doing, did the same.
Burt neared the ramp, then cursed. “This better work” he muttered.
Surprisingly, the cart fit right onto the ramp! Burt let out a sigh of relief, then continued up the incline. Trent followed behind. I decided to risk taking a look behind me. The zombies were no longer following us: they were much more of a mess then we were. Most of them I could see were run over and bleeding from injuries. So it seemed we were safe for the meantime. At least, that’s what I assumed.
After slowly riding up the handicap ramp, we made it to the second floor. After hours of planning and evading infected, we had finally made it around halfway to our destination.
However, more problems began to present themselves to us. Trent drove around the corner and saw Burt’s golf cart spewing out smoke. He cursed. “The stupid thing… broke down” he managed to say. “It’s too weak for battering through zombies… apparently”. He started coughing. Rachel helped Steven off of the cart and brought him to his feet.
“Great, great” Steven commented. “How much bad luck can we get in one day?”
“Apparently a lot” Burt said, sizing the cart up. “This thing won’t be going anywhere anytime soon”.
“Consider the good luck we’ve had so far” Geoff said, trying to instill some high spirits. “We got this far, right? That’s a long ways from where we’ve started.”
“Yeah, but it was like pulling teeth” Maria said, who was coughing as well.
“If you’re gonna cough, keep it down” I point out. “There’s no doubt that there’s a large zombie horde around here too. We’re not out of the woods yet”.
“Yeah” Burt said, nodding, “but we’re getting there”.
Trent got out of the driver’s seat. “What do we do now?” he asked. “This cart can only carry four people. If we tried hard enough, maybe six. Either way, some people would be walking”.
“We have one vehicle intact, it would be a shame to give it up” I said. “But is it the only way?”
“I don’t think I have a chance of getting far on foot” Steven said.
Rachel bowed her head. “Why does this have to be so complicated for us?” she said sadly.
“We’ll just have to split up” Burt said. It was now my turn to look at him as though he had turned bright purple.
“Do you really think splitting up our group is a GOOD idea? Haven’t you heard of strength in numbers?” I pointed out.
“Listen, if we split up, we don’t have to worry about setbacks that affect the entire group” he responded.
“I’d rather stick together…” Rachel commented. Burt sighed.
“Think of what’s happened so far! All of the people who have died, died while we were in a group. We were unorganized. We split up, we move at our own paces efficiently, and it’ll be like we’re still in the carts” Burt explained, laying out his plan.
“I’m still not comfortable with this” Maria whispered.
“I think we need something better than splitting up” Trent said, “Unless we want to become a zombie’s afternoon snack”.
“Burt, the majority of us don’t want to do this. I think we should stay with each other for now” I spoke up, voicing the general opinion of our group.
Burt shook his head. “Alright, but if this goes wrong-“
“It’ll go better than splitting up” Geoff said, heading down the hallway to the right. We began to follow him when Trent raised an unanswered question.
“So do we just ditch this cart or not?” he asked, gesturing to the cart. Steven shrugged.
“I know you mainly want to keep it for me, but it would be silly to take one cart for a cripple. I’ll live” he said.
Geoff walked over to him. “Steven, you don’t know how bad you are. You’re not even supposed to be moving! If it was possible, I’d have you resting”.
“If he says he doesn’t need it, he doesn’t” I said. “He’s right; it would drag us down and be a little stupid”.
“So, where to now?” Hannah asked.
“Only one place to go” Burt said, pointing his finger down the hall. “Forward”.