As if on cue, the door leading to the gym at the end of the hall was sent flying into the wall, landing with a clanging noise on the floor. The zombie horde charged inside the hallway and could clearly see us at the end of it. One of them made a roaring sound, almost like a battle cry, then led the charge against us.
“What do we do, what do we do!?” Michael shouted for an answer. “We can’t fight them!”
“Get in the girls’ lockers!” Trent shouted, running inside them as he spoke. We all were in hot pursuit of him, the only thing flashing in our minds being ‘run, survive’.
The zombies were moving too fast. Our group was almost all inside the safety of the locker room when the first creature managed to reach us, lunging forward with its claws. It fell short and landed on the ground, only to be trampled over by the infected herd progressing right on our heels.
The lockers were inches away. Before we could reach their secure confines, the monsters made a final push and another one dove towards us. A scream was heard; Michael’s shoulder had been cut, and the teenager had stopped in his tracks, stunned by the attack.
“Son of a bitch!” Burt screamed, quickly turning around. He pushed Carson out of the way and ran into the fray, swinging at the infected swarming around Michael. More zombies began to catch up, swarming around Michael and tearing at his skin. He shoved them back, but seemed to be getting overwhelmed.
“They’ll eat me aliveeeeeee!!!!” Michael screamed, his body being torn by the abominations.
Trent and I joined Burt and we desperately shoved at the infected, trying frantically to free him. Finally, Michael flung himself forward, scrambling towards the door and collapsing on the floor. We saw him get away and began to back up ourselves, slamming the door to the locker room. One of the infected tried to block the door with his hand, which was chopped off by the strong metal door. The atrocity cried out in pain, a sound that rose above all others. We didn’t have time to be scared by it.
Michael was slumped against the wall right in front of the door, leaning his back against the wall, slightly leaning to one side. A prominent scar ran across the top portion of his chest, with blood seeping out of it every second. His face, arms, and legs were all equally dominated by stab wounds and cuts and bite marks. He coughed and his chest heaved rapidly as though he was struggling to breathe.
Steven, immediately concerned with his friend’s health, ran to his side. “What the hell happened?” he said, very troubled.
Michael managed to laugh, looking over at his friend. “They got me.”
Harry cursed, which was unlike him. “Those zombies will bump us off, one by one. We have no way to fight them. Not even a damn bow and arrow.”
Hannah ran over to Michael. “Are you alright?’ she asked him, equally as worried as Steven.
“That’s a dumb question to ask,” Michael responded, groaning from pain momentarily. “I’ve definitely had better days.” I could understand everyone’s anxiety. Something was obviously wrong with him. Some of his skin was peeling off, and he looked deathly pale. I was instantaneously worried, as these were the same symptoms Chase had before he was infected.
“Let me see that,” Geoff said, peeling off Michael’s shirt. He emitted further sounds of pain, but allowed for Geoff to help. After his shirt was removed, Michael’s exposed chest revealed several scratches and impeccable, bullet-hole-like incisions going within his skin. He was losing blood in buckets. The whole room became sickened by the sight.
“First they get one of us,” Maria said quietly, “then someone else. Then another. And another. We’ll be wiped out eventually.”
“And an attitude like that will really help us,” Burt retorted. He looked around the room. “We got to keep our heads.”
“Sure, with Michael completely destroyed by those things, I feel perfectly happy!” Steven walked over to Burt and their eyes locked. “Look at yourself! His blood is all over your hands!” It was obvious that Michael’s injuries were taking its toll on him.
“It’s not bad at all… you’re just exaggerating” Michael muttered, trying to put the argument at rest, grunting from pain as Geoff prodded at his wounds.
“Burt’s right,” Trent said quietly, but with a tone that silenced everyone. “Not a single one of us isn’t upset over what’s been happening…” his voice briefly trailed off. “But getting worked up about it helps nobody except the zombies.”
There were various sounds heard from outside the door. Maybe the zombies were already breaking in, and if they were that door wouldn’t be standing much longer. They already knew we were cooped up in here… and they’ve proven to be faster and smarter than we believed.
“That doesn’t sound good,” Harry said, stepping closer to the door. Rachel pulled him back.
“That thing could fall down any moment,” she said. Personally, I think she was just protecting him.
Burt looked around the room, took a few deep breaths, then spoke. “We need another plan,” he said. “There must be some sort of way to break that white substance. I think there’s a back door in here that leads back to the janitor’s closet. We can take a back way through the gym, and look around for some science rooms. Maybe there are materials in there that we can use to, I don’t know… what about a bomb?”
“A bomb? How?” Maria said incredulously.
Her question went ignored. As soon as she had spoken, Geoff slowly stood up, his eyes wide as he continued to gawk at Michael’s wound.
“I… I’ve never seen this before,” he said, his voice shaking. I positioned myself next to him to observe for myself… and my eyes began to widen.
A variety of crooked, purples lines extended from the injuries, running across Michael’s body until they collided with an artery. They seemed to attach to them, slowly turning them a shade of purple as well. We were bearing witness to the infection itself… we were spectators to the disease that had caused this whole ordeal.
“I don’t know what sort of plan you have Burt, but our first priority is to get this man some medical attention. He is dying!” Geoff exclaimed, shocked by the disease.
“Well I can see that, genius,” Michael replied smugly. He looked down at his figure and noticed that his fingernails were beginning to sharpen and become larger; one of the first signs of infection.
He laughed once more. He started giggling like a schoolgirl, as though his body’s transformations were but a prank pulled on him. His laughter was followed by more serious coughs, quick breaths, and a heavy sigh. “Guess that’s just how it goes, huh. I’m the first to go.”
Steven instantly approached him, hoping to calm him down.
“Michael, please, it’s nothing… we can find help for you and—“he began, but he was cut off with another response for Michael.
“I’m turning into one of them. Nothing can stop that,” he said simply, shrugging his shoulders. Another coughing fit ended up discharging blood. The adolescent had become increasingly pale, and his body was becoming more and more limp.
Geoff rushed over. “There could be a cure, keep calm and controlled and we can lessen the blood loss. We need bandages!” he called, but it fell on deaf ears. Michael’s condition was apparent, and Geoff looked fraught to avoid the unavoidable.
“That won’t help… just slow the process down a little bit I guess,” Michael answered. “Just leave me be. I’ll distract the bastards.”
“We’ll find a way out if you stay with us,” Geoff reasoned, still attempting to save the rapidly depleting life of Michael.
“Geoff,” Michael said simply, giving a blank stare to the minor, “I’m done for. You either let me go out there to stop them, or kill me before I turn.” He looked over himself again. “My guess is you don’t have much time… to make you choice…”
Everyone watched silently as Michael continued speaking. “Just let me go out like a hero… I can be one of the good guys… Master Chief… just… give me something…”
There was nothing to give. Michael’s body abruptly slid down the wall and remained still. His fingers twitched for a few seconds, but other than that he remained motionless and was no longer breathing. The infection still spread through his body, claiming his veins. He would be a zombie in a matter of minutes.
“Michael…” Steven said, pain in his voice. The two had been close friends.
Nobody said a word after Michael had perished. The zombies continued to growl and they slammed themselves against the door, trying their best to push it down. Yet we stood still, looking somberly upon the body of an individual that should never had died so young.
“Damnit…” Geoff said, shaking his head.
“There was nothing you could have done for him, Geoff. He’s gone now,” Rachel said softly, putting a hand on his shoulder.