I felt stunned as I began to fully realize the nature of our predicament.
Hannah was right. All of our escape routes were blocked by this strange white substance. We were stuck in a zombie-infested high school with nowhere to turn to.
The hallway became more haunting for me. Being a good distance from the cafeteria door, not a single noise was heard from the rampaging vermin. It was a soundless void, swallowing us whole, leaving us as nothing more than a group of antelopes surrounded by starving lions.
“We’ll all have our brains sucked out by these evil demons!” Michael shouted, curling up into a ball and whimpering. Carson bowed his head and scratched his hair, at a loss for words. Burt, the man with the plan, had nothing to say.
“Get up Michael. We’ll be fine,” Steven said, going over to his friend and helping him up.
“Yeah sure. My brain will be decimated but at least I’ll feel fine,” came Michael’s reply.
It seemed as though all of the energy we had gained beforehand had just been sucked out of us. I refused to believe that we were trapped, about to die. After only having so recently cheated death, now wasn’t the time to test the odds again—odds which were exponentially stacked against those still living and free from the virus.
“We’re busting out of here, no matter what,” I declared. “I’m not gonna get torn apart by those mutants.”
“But there’s no way out,” Hannah said. “All of our exits are blocked.
“There’s gotta be a way,” I replied.
Burt turned around at me with a look of annoyance on his face. “Well genius, if you’ve been paying attention you would have seen that the doors and windows are all sealed. No way out.”
“There is always a solution. Perfection doesn’t exist. There’s no way we have zero options right now.”
“Well, why don’t you give us some of those options then, if you know all the answers,” Carson replied angrily. “We’re pinned in this damn hallway.”
“Our fate isn’t sealed already.”
Carson took a few steps towards me. “You got a gun in that pocket? An arsenal or sorts? ‘Cause without that we’re fucking TRAPPED here! And your inspirational bullshit isn’t going to save a soul.”
“You can feel free to accept that,” I responded, approaching him and getting in his face. “But I’m not one to lie down and waste away. I beat those things once. I’m not giving them a second chance.”
“Because you’ve always looked down on me,” he counteracted. “I’m just the unintelligent jock, nothing more, nothing less. All I do is ruin your perfect little world, don’t I?”
“Snap out of it,” I heard Hannah say from behind me. “Leave him alone, Carson.”
“It’s not my fault he’s a complete prick. You saw how he was talking earlier—“
“I said I was sorry, Carson, I didn’t mean that” I answered indignantly. “I got out of line. I admit that... and I am sorry.”
“Stop apologizing already,” he sighed. “I’m not looking for any forgiveness.”
“Will you just quit it?” Hannah asked, though it was more of a demand.
“What are you supporting him for? He’s done nothing but aggravate us since the beginning of this whole ordeal!”
“He saved us,” Hannah said, her voice becoming entirely serious. “He wants to escape. He is willing us to push forward, and unlike some people at the moment, he’s being brave and looking for a way out of this.”
Rachel, seeing a conflict brewing, was quick to stand in between us. “I don’t care what history you two have. Now’s the time to leave all that bullshit behind.” She then proceeded to walk to a point to where she could see the whole group. “I’m with Tyler. We need to find a solution.”
Carson, realizing he was defeated, turned his back to the group. I was stuck staring at Hannah, who met my gaze for a second. I didn’t think we were still close friends… but she stood up for me.
I didn’t quite hear what Rachel had said. I had become detached from the world in a daydreaming-like state. Why just couldn’t I let things with Carson go? Now, in this current situation, petty disputes wouldn’t help at all.
“Tyler?” I heard someone say, returning my presence back into the hell we were in. I turned to see Maria next to me, appearing worried. “Sorry. You didn’t look okay.”
Observing the group around me, I noticed they had all sat down except for Maria and I. Nobody was speaking.
“How crowded is the gym? Maybe they haven’t occupied it yet” Rachel suggested, getting on her feet and indicating the double-doors a few yards off from our position. They led straight into the basketball court; the only other entrance to that complex was from the lobby, which was conversely attached to the cafeteria.
“We get in there, we can grab a bunch of bats and start crushing skulls” Michael said quietly, grinning. “Might as well get some damage in while we’re caught here.” I didn’t try to argue for my cause at this point; everyone had resigned to an eventual death.
“The gym has the best weaponry,” Steven added. “If we want to get out of here… we need some stuff to beat the zombies back with.”
“You’re forgetting the doors and the windows” Carson said, gesturing to all of the exits around us. “Sealed shut. No way through.”
“Exit or not, I’m not fighting those things with nothing but my bare hands,” Burt replied. “No doubt the gym has a nice stash of bats and sports equipment.”
“There will be an exit, and if we have to we’ll fight a way out of one,” I said with finality. “There’s a closet just by the entrance full of stuff. There’s no harm in checking it out quick.”
“Why send all of us?” Michael voiced his opinion. “We run into an ambush, boom, we’re dead.”
Harry took a stand once again. “If you want a scout, you have one.”
“Stop trying to be the hero” Maria chided. “I’ll go with you. You can’t just go all by—“
“Not a chance,” Geoff responded harshly, once again becoming a statue.
“For fuck’s sake, Geoff, it’s an end-of-the-world situation here! Someone as smart as you should realize this isn’t the time for babysitting,” Maria retorted, hurt by his comment.
“Enough of the in-fighting,” Rachel spoke calmly. “We’re all talking about what not do to. Not yelling at each other is a good start.
Carson made a move for the double doors, a determined appearance taking over his previously pessimistic one.
“I’ll solve this. I’ll run in myself. Problem solved,” he said simply, the lights flickering in his wake.
My mind showed images of his body being torn apart, his head rolling on the gym floor as zombies consumed his corpse, a grieving Hannah left with no funeral to mourn at. It was the cafeteria all over again.