Again, his life was put at the forefront of the zombie forces, and I wasn’t about to let him or Hannah suffer pain. For the second time that day, I walked over to the side of my foe, all arguments and issues left in the dust.
“I got your back,” came my plain response. He was evidently skeptical, probably wondering if I was going to end up backstabbing him or not. In truth, I probably would’ve reacted the same way if our roles had been reversed.
“You two of all people?” Maria questioned, also assuming that we would end up betraying each other.
“I hardly see this as a solution at all,” Burt agreed, shooting suspicious glances at both of us.
“Well we want to get something done, right? Here you go. It’s right inside the gym. We’ll run in, run out. Simple as that,” Carson said conceitedly.
“And if there are zombies?” Maria added condescendingly.
“Then we fight them off. He can keep up,” Carson replied with little emotion. “And if I fucking go, you have my full permission to knock my fucking head off.”
No one else was able to raise further complaints, and it seemed as though the decision was settled. “Off we go then,” Carson said indifferently.
“You better not try shit,” Harry said, sounding eerily threatening.
Carson only grunted in response, and he turned and approached the door. Scanning the expressions of the others showed universal looks of concern. I couldn’t let that set me back. It WAS possible to collaborate with your enemies in dire times. I could prove it firsthand. I followed Carson’s path and we peered through the little windows in the doors.
No entities populated the basketball court. It appeared secure, but that didn’t ensure that it wasn’t surrounded by students on the outside. We pushed the bars on the doors and entered, slowly closing them behind us to reduce noise. Despite our efforts, a loud click resonated in the room. In the currently noiseless environment, it was akin to discharging a nuclear missile.
The expanse of the gym opened up before us. The rectangular room was rendered dim, much like the rest of the school at this point; no doubt the infected had sabotaged the electricity. Giant, looming lights anchored from the ceiling supports offered only faint radiance in the darkness of the place, weakly illuminating the Rueger High School logo in the center of the hardwood-floored court.
Some monsters could be heard lurking around, though they sounded mute and removed from our world, if only for a moment. It felt like they were all sharks, biding their time, slowly circling in, waiting to take us under the water.
I couldn’t bother myself anymore with hysterical thoughts. I turned to the left and noticed the small supply closet we were tasked to search. Without any words exchanged, Carson and I advanced on the entrance.
Normally, the door was left locked by the gym teacher: a humungous creature known as Mrs. Perrul. But when Carson reached for the handle and gave it a tug, it swung open effortlessly, as though it had been opened previously.
Carson shot a glance at me, and it was clear he knew this was unusual as well. He decided to push forward first, and I followed closely behind.
The gym closet was not wide, but it did stretch far back, and in the darkness it looked like it extended for eternity. The walls were made of dull, grey blocks hidden by stacks of boxes crammed with several paraphernalia for any kind of gym activity.
I slid my hand across the walls looking for a light switch, eventually finding one. Surprisingly, it worked, and the room was lit in an instant.
Carson leaped back in surprise, and I tensed up; some sort of figure was at the end of the hall, slumped over. It looked like a miniature giant, with bulging muscles from head to toe. I quickly snatched a baseball bat that was nearby, assuming the worst and exercising caution.
The figure’s head shot up in an instant, revealing a contorted face covered in blood. The figure’s body was also damaged, with multiple stab wounds populating its surface. It looked like the person tried to talk, but nothing audible came out, and a stream of blood exited in place of words. Despite the damage, I instantly recognized the features of Mrs. Perrul. She didn’t look infected, but she it was clear the zombies got to her first.
I instantly dropped the bat—a huge mistake, in retrospect—and rushed towards the dying teacher. Carson hung back, preferring to gather materials instead, acting as though she didn’t even exist.
“What happened? What happened?!” I asked over and over, but Mrs. Perrul simply had no life left in her. All she did was shake her head and waved her hand towards the door.
I perceived this as a warning. “Where are they,” I demanded, worry and paranoia overtaking worry and sympathy for the teacher.
She looked straight into my eyes, attempting to hold onto every last breath of life possible. She leaned in as close as she could and hoarsely whispered, “Get out.”
I heard a faint banging sound in the distance. The same sort of banging sound I had heard when the zombies were trying to knock down the cafeteria door.
I turned to Carson, awareness setting in.
“They’re in the gym,” I declared fearfully, already marching towards the exit. That’s when I heard a roar behind me.
From out of nowhere, a zombie emerged from the darkness, pouncing onto Mrs. Perrul, ripping into her mercilessly. She screamed and flailed her arms around, but she was too weak to force the attacker off. Not wanting to see any of the carnage, I forced Carson out the door and slammed it shut behind me, muffling the shrieks of the teacher.
The banging still continued, and I detected a crowd of the abominations grouped together at the doors opposite the ones connecting the locker room hallway. One by one, they would literally throw their entire body weight against the doors, sending a reverberation through the spacious gym. The doors shuddered at each hit, and they would fall within a minute without a doubt.
“We need to hide, now!” I yelled at Carson, sprinting to the doors.
“We need equipment, we didn’t get anything!” he shouted back.
I pointed back at the closet. “You wanna go in there and face down that zombie? And then all the others that are about to come in?” I gave a frustrated exhalation. “We don’t have any time to argue!”
“Are you trying to kill us all?! You want us to escape and you are robbing us of anything useful we could use!”
“Then be my guest! Fight them all off!” I spat. “Good luck.”
I exited the gym as fast as possible, not caring to check to see if Carson tagged along. I saw my company still huddled together, and I ran to join them. A second later, I heard the door open again. I suppose Carson came after all.
It wasn’t hard to read from my expression that there was bad news to be had, and everyone was put on the alert.
“They’re coming in the gym, I saw them,” I stated. “I don’t know if any of you came up with any bright ideas, but we need some now.”
“We don’t even have a chance” Maria muttered, shaking her head.
“Where are the supplies?” Burt commented.
Carson guffawed. “Thank Tyler for that one, we left an entire mother lode of—“
I interjected violently. “There is no way you’re going to twist this one. There were already zombies inside the closet, and there were zombies about to break in. There was simply no time to get anything. Now is the time to move before they come in.”
“We can’t cover an escape without tools,” Carson spoke irately.
“Well suck it up,” Burt scorned Carson, “We’re going to deal with it. Windows sealed, doors sealed, what do we do?”
“Can’t we just break through somehow?” Michael asked. “It cannot be that difficult.”
“No windows on the first floor,” Geoff replied. “This building’s so ancient that what windows are here won’t crash like tissue.”
“If we make some sort of battering ram, we can possibly break through,” Steven suggested.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Carson laughed maniacally. I saw a change slowly beginning to appear in his face, clouding his already shaky judgment.
“I agree that we need a way out. But how are we gonna make a battering ram in a high school?” Burt said.
More banging sounds emitted from down the hall. Everyone kept talking about their crazy plans to get out of here. “Guys, quiet!” I snapped. I was greeted by silence.
“What…was that?” Hannah asked, fear in her voice. The banging continued.
“Oh god,” Geoff cried, “The zombies are breaking through!”