I clapped my hands. “And that’s how I wound up here” I concluded.
“So you ran from the police to allow your cohorts to escape. That is, at least, a few days in the can” Officer Hardy said. I was so happy to see his face back in the interrogation room. The chief must’ve gotten sick of his attitude though.
“Hardy, ever since this boy was proven innocent, you did everything you could to turn that around” the chief snapped. He stood up and took a deep breath. “This is basically wrapped up now” the chief said. “Go ahead and start on your report. It’s a little before ten, and it needs to be done by twelve”.
The officer nodded. “Yes sir” he muttered. He proceeded to walk out the door, slamming it on his way out. Thankfully, that’s the last I ever saw of that particular officer.
The chief walked over by my side.
“I must say, the things you talked about are incredibly… traumatic” he began. “It seems like something out of a sci-fi movie script, yet at the same time… it’s true”. He started pacing around the table. “The fact that something like this existed and can be created deeply worries me” the chief continued. “If a type of hybrid virus such as this can infect people so easily and could come up again, the results could be… catastrophic. We could have a possible apocalypse upon us”.
He leaned in closely to me. “Now tell me” he said. “You destroyed everything in that blast… correct?” Coming from a police officer, this was an interesting inquiry.
I nodded. “Of course”.
He shook his head. “If a disease like this resurfaces... and I don’t even know how this sort of thing came about… it would cause-“
“It won’t” I assured him, “They’re all gone now. They’re all dead. And whatever the cause of this thing was, there’s a low chance it could happen again”.
He didn’t look pleased. “So none of you know for certain how the hell this shit happened?”
It was one question I couldn’t answer. “Possibly a science experiment on the human physique… that’s the best we came up with”.
“Any evidence to go on?”
“I think the best there is, is a private website. I don’t know what the domain name is”.
He crossed his arms. “Hmph. White-coated fools. I suppose I should look into this”.
I sat in an awkward silence for another minute. I expected to be let out soon enough, back to my friends and out of this dark place. I decided to stand up and just walk out on my lonesome, but then the chief went on.
“This will never end for you” he said. I looked over at him. That wasn’t exactly the best thing for him to say…
“What exactly do you mean?” I said, perturbed.
“Well” he continued, “this is just step one. There’s no doubt that more organizations will approach you and ask you to regurgitate the details that you have given to me of that horrific experience. I can only block off so many”.
He sighed. “ Let’s also not forget your parents have to learn about this whole ordeal eventually. And the public will have to be informed on how the hell a local high school blew up. Not just them… We’re talking about the entire world here. Even now there are multiple eyes looking this accident over and trying to deduce what happened”.
I had nearly forgotten about my family. I couldn’t fathom the fact that I would have to explain everything to them. But the world? There was no way in hell I could tell the whole entire world that me and my group of survivors blew up a school on the grounds that it was full of zombies. Even with evidence, I doubted every single living human on Earth would accept the explanation.
He took a deep breath, then delivered the worst news I’ve had all day. “The military is already asking for you and Hannah Stoffer to tell them the very same story you told me. Now that is one organization I have no chance of holding off”.
I slammed my fist on the dark table. “They can’t do this to us” I muttered, cursing the military. I had just been through the worst experience in my entire lifetime. I had seen people literally torn to pieces by mutated students, burnt by former friends, and morph into zombies themselves. And now the military wanted me to get my little book and sit down for story time. Who would be after me next?
“They can, whether you like it or not” the chief replied, bringing me back to harsh reality. “They are dying for this sort of information. If, and I’m just saying if; if this disease resurfaces, they’d need to know what to do, or know about it. That’s why they’re asking for you and your group. They also want you as soon as possible, which unfortunately means you leave tomorrow morning”.
I decided to try and make a deal. “Just have them take me then” I pleaded. “I don’t want Hannah to have to go through this too. Or any of the others. They can deal with me, or they won’t hear one thing. I swear my life on it”.
The chief scratched his head, surprised by the threat. “I’m not sure if I can do that. But” he said, holding up my hand to stop my protest, “I can at least try”. I nodded, satisfied that at least he would try.
The chief began walking out the door, then stopped. “For now, you can go back out into the lobby. You’re no longer a prisoner, I won’t treat you like one. I’ll release Hannah too for the meantime. But you two cannot go home; you’re staying here”.
“What about my friends?” I asked him. He sighed.
“They really should go home, unless they are really bent on being there with you” he said. I smiled, grateful for the chief’s generosity. I still disliked how he broke the news to me.
“Thank you” I said. I was about to go out the door when I stopped to tell the chief something.
“Hey, if you see Officer Hardy around” I said, “tell him I said hi”. The chief gave off a small chuckle, the turned down the hallway in the direction of another interrogation room. He walked inside, said a few words, then exited. He waved goodbye at me, then left to his office.
The door creaked open again, and Hannah emerged.
For a second there was a silence. We knew that we had to stay behind and that we would probably be stuck with the military the next day. At the same time, we knew we had each other and that the triumph we had today was incredible.
The second ended, and we ran to each and embraced. Soon, she brought me into a kiss, then pulled away.
“Thank God I’m out of there” she said breathlessly. She started giving me her own account. “There was this one, large officer, and all he did was yell and yell at me. I kept trying to tell him the details, but he didn’t stop. At one point…” she paused. “He slapped me. He told me to shut up and give the real facts. I refused, so he just slapped me again”.
“They can’t do that!” I said angrily. Hardy was worse than I had been led to believe.
“It’s fine… he got chewed up anyway” she said smiling. “At least I’m out of there”.
“So… why are you here” I asked timidly, afraid it was a sensitive topic.
She looked at me and smiled. “Because I like you. And you were a part of our group. We stick together”. It was just that simple.
The others were here too… maybe we really had forged a strong bond during that whole ordeal. They risked their lives to waltz right into a building packed with cops… just for Hannah and I. To make sure we were okay.
We both walked out of the dark hallway together and into the main lobby. Funny thing was… we were holding hands.
I noticed our group lying around the place; Steven was leaning back on a couch near the front door, his eyes slightly closed. He now wore a shirt that covered up his bandages and he had an actual pair of crutches. Burt was leaning against a wall, waiting for us to arrive. He looked like he hadn’t slept for a minute. Geoff had fallen asleep on a chair by the front desk. Trent was standing next to Burt, and he smiled once he saw me. Rachel was also sleeping next to Geoff, her head resting on his shoulder. The front desk officer, Jakobs, was nowhere to be seen.
Burt walked over to me and Hannah. “I had half a mind to run in and get you myself” he said, anger in his voice. “That guy at the front desk, Jakobs, kept holding us off and off and off. It was getting on my nerves”.
Trent walked over and joined us. “You alright man?” he asked me. His brown hair was nearly black, darkening with his features.
I nodded. “Ever been in one of those interrogation rooms? They’re pretty comfy”.
Trent laughed. “Yeah. Like a coffee shop?”
Hannah chimed in. “No decaf in there”.
“That’s why they were so high then” Burt muttered. We all had a good laugh at that.
Geoff and Rachel had woken up and now joined us over at the hallway exit. Unlike when we exited the school, Geoff looked considerably better. Steven slowly worked his way towards us.
“Sorry. Must’ve dozed off” Geoff said.
“Don’t worry, I would have too” I replied.
“So you guys are fine?” Rachel asked us. Hannah and I both nodded.
“Don’t worry, it’s not like they tortured us or something” Hannah said.
Steven had finally reached us. “I finally got the treatment I need on that cut” he said. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “Hurts almost as bad as when I got it. But at least I’ll be able to walk… in a few months”.
Geoff sighed. “They didn’t really give him the proper treatment though… it was hard enough just be present in the room”.
Steven leaned over and whispered to me. “Geoff wanted to make sure I was treated properly. The poor doctor probably never heard so many comments and complaints in his whole life”.
“He’s just looking out for you” I said. “Since he bandaged you up he wanted to make sure you turned out okay”.
He shrugged, then gestured to his new crutches.
“I ditched the old metal poles and got these new crutches. They’re actually pretty comfortable. I’m glad… I’m already feeling a lot better”.
“Mind if I borrow them?”
“Ha, good luck. I may be crippled, but I’ll beat up a wimp like you” Steven joked.
Burt clapped his hands. “Well, we’re all officially done with this whole ordeal, and I don’t feel like spending one minute thinking about it. Let’s do something mindless!”
“Without thinking” Geoff said airily. His mind was probably exhausted from his 30-minute rushed experiment.
“How about we head down to my place, hmm? All of the sodas are on me” Burt said.
“I don’t know, I’m pretty hyper with caffeine” Rachel confessed. Burt shrugged.
“After all we’ve been through, I think it would be good to let loose for one night” Burt replied.
Rachel nodded. “Then sure, I’ll have a few. If I’m bouncing off the walls, I’ll blame you then?”
“Fair enough” Burt said, smiling.
The others began to leave, laughing and joking around. However, Hannah and I were forced to sit back and watch as they departed. The military just couldn’t deal without a report for another day. Instead, they just wanted it bright and early in the morning. Oh joy.
The group turned around and saw us still staying behind.
“Umm… you guys coming?” Steven asked us. I bowed my head.
“The military wants me to tell them what happened… Hannah too. We’re not allowed to leave the station because they’re picking is up in the morning”.
“They can’t do that” Burt said, a rage coming on. “Not after what you; what we’ve been through, they can’t do this”. He started off towards the hallway. “I ought to give them a piece of my mind, and I’m starting with-“
“Burt, it’s fine” I said, bringing up my hands to halt him. If he really did try to get through, it wouldn’t have done much.
“Actually, Tyler… it appears that there’s no need to stay” a voice spoke up. I looked over my shoulder to see the chief standing there. Surprisingly, he looked incredibly angry. I knew he probably had a short fuse, but he looked as though he had reached his boiling point. His mouth was trying desperately to be a smile rather than a frown, and it was stuck in the middle of both expressions.
“Military just called. Turns out that the order came from a commander without the consent of his superiors. The best part of it is, he was just going to throw you into custody” the chief said as calmly as he could. “The idiots of the world… and to think they could be in the military! The real kicker though is HQ doesn’t believe a word I’m saying and think I’ve gone insane”. He sighed. “I think I should just go home and start drinking. Today has been one of those days”.
“Indeed it has” Hannah said, smiling. She turned to face me. “So… we’re free to go?”
“For today, at least” the chief said, rubbing his forehead. “The military will be looking into this no doubt, and they may ask for you to recall the details once more. But for tonight,” he waved his hands, “you’re free to go”.
“Well, now there’s some much-needed good news!” I said. Things were finally, truly, looking up. In good timing too.
“Yeah, let’s get moving!” Rachel cheered. Surprisingly, Hannah and I hesitated to go at first. I guess that we had been in this station for so long we thought we were still chained to a desk.
“We gotta raise a glass for the new couple!” Trent called after us, laughing. Harry would’ve have been so proud of him for saying that.
“New couple? I’m not sure-“
He cut me off. “Don’t be naïve you two. We all know!”
The group was looking at us smiling. Through the hours we had spent together today, we had created some sort of friendship bond that was unbreakable. We fought by each other’s sides and pushed through all our hardships.
“Well?” Rachel spoke up, gesturing to us.
At this point, Hannah and I knew what they were waiting for. Smiling and on the verge of laughing, Hannah faced me.
“Tyler Goades, will you go out with me?”
I had waited for this moment for a long time.
“Of course” I answered.
We hesitated for a second, then suddenly Hannah brought me into a powerful kiss.
“Now let’s get going!” Steven hailed.
Not wanting to waste any more time, we joined up with the others and started off, laughing and joking as though it was a Friday night and we were going at partying.
It was time for something to compensate for the horrific events of today. A time where we just hanged out, carefree, forgetting what had happened for just a few hours. A time where we’d laugh and joke, cry over those we can’t share the moment with, take a drink, laugh it off. And about time, too. I think we all need a reprieve one day from all of the awful things in the world, a day where we can have fun and be oblivious to the terrible things that were present in our lives.
I’ll never forget those zombies. I never will. There is no way someone will come up to me and say they are nothing but science fiction. I had seen them with my own eyes, fought them with my own body. I had seen people killed at their hands, I had seen people morphed into infected themselves, and I had seen desperation and pure fear.
But hopefully life will start getting better for me at some point. I was with the girl of my dreams now, and I felt like… I was in love.
Or maybe I’ll get invaded by an army of giant Cyclopes. Or maybe a giant, evil gorilla will attack the community. Or maybe…
You know what, forget it. I’m at Burt’s place now; I’m just gonna tune these rampaging thoughts out. As I said, everyone needs a reprieve. I raised my first glass of soda in the air to the memory of those who passed, and took one large sip. Life can be such a bitch, but when the good moments come around you gotta enjoy it.
Or is it…