Jackson panted as he ran down the curvy hallway of the school's third floor.
Crap. Crap! CRAP!
The growls behind him weren't getting any quieter as the zombie continued to chase him.
"HELP! SOMEBODY! SECURITY!!!"
Two more zombies hobbled up the top steps of the stairwell in the middle of the hallway and joined the first in its pursuit.
Where is everybody?! Somebody help me!!!
Jackson glanced over his shoulder and let out a small shriek. The zombies were gaining on him, and he was running out of places to go. He looked around frantically and noticed a classroom tucked at the end of the hall behind a small section of wall.
I can't keep running. I'll pass out before I can escape!
Sweat ran down his face as Jackson went against his gut, darting to the right for the door at the end of the hall instead of the stairwell across from it. He reached into his pocket and fumbled around for his school I.D. Jackson finally found it, yanked it out, and slid it into the slot between the door and the frame.
"Come on! COME ON!!!" he pleaded as he pushed down on the metal bar that locked the door and wiggled the card, trying to pick the lock.
The growls turned to moans of pleasure, as the first zombie grabbed Jackson's shoulder and pulled his body towards itself, jaw dropped for maximum meat intake.
Jackson screamed in agony as the zombie bit into his neck, blood spurting out and painting the walls in a colorful mixture of bright and dark red. The two other zombies bent down and dug into his head and stomach, just as soon as Jackson's body had become limp and had collapsed to the ground only seconds before. Blood gurgled in his throat as he tried to breathe, but he had no luck. His I.D. clattered to the ground as it fell out of his hands, and the door unlocked.
Rachel hopped off of the steps of the school bus, glad that she could finally relax. She walked down the sidewalk to her house and opened the front door.
"Mom! I'm home!"
She set her backpack down next to the door and slid off her shoes, tossing them next to it.
"Mom?!" she called out.
Rachel pulled her lunch box out and carried it into the kitchen. She saw her mom standing in the middle of the doorway to the backyard.
"Mom, the door's open. You're going to let the bees in."
Rachel walked over to her and put her hand on her arm.
"Mom, I'm hom-"
I open the door to my dad's car and get out, walking on the sidewalk up to the front door. Dad opens his door, steps out, and leans back into the car to grab his paperwork and binders. Our next door neighbor walks over towards us to say hi, but I ignore them and head inside - I don't really know them all that well.
I pull the front door open and step inside. My little sister walks over to our mom to talk to her as I go into the kitchen to put my stuff away.
"Mom, the door's open. You're going to let the bees in," Rachel says, annoyed. She walks over to our mom and grabs her arm.
"Mom, I'm hom-"
Rachel and I scream as my mom spins around and rips into her neck, grabbing Rachel's shoulder and the other side of her neck as she takes off a chunk of her and swallows. Rachel continues to scream, but is quickly silenced by another bite to the neck, making blood spew out all over her clothes and the floor. I freeze in horror, quickly understanding the situation at hand.
Zombies...my mom's a zombie...
I step back and bump into a tall, growling creature. I quickly start to back up as I turn around to see my dad, blood covering his white shirt and neck, trying to eat me. He blocks the main entrance to the kitchen and shuffles towards me.
"Dad! No wha-!"
I slip on the hardwood floor and fall on my butt. I look up to see my dad closing in on me, though I don't hear anything from my mom or sister. I quickly start scooting back and bump into the stools for the island - the counter with cabinets underneath it - in the middle of our kitchen. I turn around and pull myself up, looking around frantically for something to use or a way to escape: I see both.
I notice the threshold between the kitchen and the dining room, which leads back to the front door for an easy escape. Then I notice the large butcher knife at the back of the knife block on the other side of the island. Going to get it would trap me between my zombified dad and mom, who is devouring my (hopefully) now-dead sister.
The adrenaline and need for a split-second decision leaves me with no time to think: I go for the knife. I run the few steps around the counter and grab it, pulling it out of its wooden sheath. The sunlight from the window to my left reflects off of the smooth metal as I turn around to face him. Growling, drooling, and making weird gagging sounds, he shuffles around the island, sealing my fate. I raise the knife to face-level and blink, trying to separate this dream from reality.
It doesn't happen.
I begin to sob as I beg him to stop, for all of it to stop; he doesn't seem to hear my pleas. I wipe the tears forming in my eyes and lift the knife above my head, pause, then quickly bring it down in a clean arc that cuts into his skull.
Blood spatters out and hits me. A few dots of blood start to drip down my glasses as I watch his body shudder, then collapse. His head hovers in front of my stomach though, and I realize that I'm still holding onto the handle of the knife. The knife is stuck in his head and holding it up.
I retch and throw up the snacks that I had eaten before I got home, slowly letting go of the knife and allowing him to fall flat on the ground in front of me. I blink back more tears and notice that my mom is limping towards me know, arms extending as she inches closer. I breathe, blink again, and stumble over my dad's corpse to avoid her. I notice the outline of Rachel's legs on the ground as I go back around the counter.
I look away.
I trudge, with shaky legs, out of my house and into the burning sunlight that awaits me.
I stumble out of my house and fall to my knees on the grass next to the sidewalk.
"What the hell..."
I hold my arms to my chest and clench my fists, letting out a soft and painful moan as I begin to sob uncontrollably. Tears streak down my face and my voice travels down the silent streets of my small neighborhood. My zombified next-door neighbor hobbles towards me from the side of my house and lets out a growl as it approaches me, blood dripping down its cheek from biting my dad only a minute earlier.
Finish me, I think to myself. My family is dead and the world is ending. I have nothing to live for...
My legs don't care and force me to move on, taking me towards the main sidewalk and heading towards the closest exit of the neighborhood.
Sam...James...Zach...my two best friends and my younger brother. They're still alive, right?
I have to find out before I let myself die, giving myself a reason to carry on. I trudge out of the neighborhood and turn right, heading down the road towards Sunrise Park.
"They...they'll probably be there. I have to look," I mumble to myself.
I begin to move faster and snap out of my pitiful state, hurrying to warn them of the impending apocalypse - that the radio and TV broadcasts we'd all heard recently weren't some crazy hoax or a repeat of the War of the Worlds broadcast. I start running, beginning to fear the worst.
Please don't be dead! Please don't be dead!!
I round the corner and race down the sidewalk, past the tennis and basketball courts, past the sand-filled volleyball court, past the small pavilion. I relax a bit when I see their smiling faces sitting on the play set in the small park outside of our neighborhood.
"Dude! Nice shirt! The whole blood thing is awesome! What's the rush bro?" James asks.
"Your face is red. What happened to your eyes?" Sam questions, worry filling his innocent face.
I stop in front of them and pant for a second.
The independent football player and the nice guy: they've been my best friends since middle school when we met in gym class. James has always been outgoing and energetic - but he keeps the fact that his parents are almost non-existent to himself and us. Sam is that nice, shy, and smart guy...who also happens to be the skinny, wimpy kid - you know the one. He's a great guy though. His parents are big-time scientists at the University of Chicago an hour south of here. Despite his scientific and knowledgeable upbringing, he's quite gullible and a bit of a "scaredy-cat" when it comes to any horror-related things or the bad stuff that you hear on the news. He reminds me a bit of my brother Zach in that sense.
I take a deep breath and relive my mom attacking my sister again. My face goes pale.
"Ryan, are you feeling ok? What's going on? What's that smell?"
I gulp and open my mouth.
James stares at me for a moment before bursting into laughter. Sam looks at me like I told him his family just died. Oh...wait.
"Zombies?" Sam asks nervously. "Ryan, you know I don't like horror stories..."
"I'm serious...my mom just ate my sister...and I just...killed my dad," I pant, still trying to catch my breath and calm down.
Sam's face goes pale and his jaw drops slightly. James quickly stops laughing and looks at me, dropping the baseball bat in his hand as he notices that the blood all over me isn't fake.
I slowly nod my head and close my eyes as the tears start to come back.
"I don't know what happened to everyone else or your families, but everyone in my family except for my brother, Zach, is dead. I could have sworn that he was supposed to be down the street at the high school for band camp after school, but I don't know. I'm going to go there and try to find him. You guys should go and find your families...get out of here while it's relatively safe. You need to hurry. They're probably looking fo-"
"Ryan! Stop. I don't know what's going on, but I'm going with you, so calm down," James tells me, staring at me with a look of major concern. "My parents are gone at work and I don't have anyone else. I'm nothing special to them, and I don't care, so I'm helping my best friend. Ok?"
I nod and wipe my tears.
"Thanks man. I really-"
James cuts me off and puts his hand on my shoulder.
"You don't need to say anything bro. It's all good."
James turns to Sam.
"So what are you doing here still? Don't you have a family to go to?! Help those crazy scientist-parents of yours find a cure or something!" James cheers as he slaps Sam's back.
Sam winces and smiles a little.
"I'm going with you guys. My house is too far away to go to safely. Plus, my parents are probably stuck in rush hour traffic or something."
Sam trembles as he speaks.
"N-No point in getting my hopes up, right? You know how getting stuck in traffic turned out in that one zombie movie we saw."
Sam looks down and wipes the tears starting to form in his eyes.
"Sam..." James starts to say.
"I'll...I'll be alright. Just let me go with you guys for now, ok?"
James and I nod and smile.
"Let's get moving then soldier!" James hollers.
"You know...I don't know if I believe in this whole zombie thing," he says as he turns to me. "N-No offense of course...but I'm still coming along. This can't be real, right?"
A chorus of growls interrupts our little chat as a small group of young, zombified women in jogging clothes stumble out of the forest preserve tree line thirty feet away, walking down a beaten path that leads to the large walking trail.
"Well...seeing is believing!" James exclaims, letting out a nervous laugh.
James picks up his bat and the baseball on the ground next to him and we start running to the high school.