Living underground isn't that bad, we have food and water for the taking, enough air for everyone, and it isn't like we are going without.
We have only been down here for four years, I was 13 when my family enlisted to The Cause, it was supposed to be our salvation, it wasn't.
The Cause ended up only being worse and instead of helping, it caused more deaths than imaginable, including my parents.
You're probably wondering what I am talking about, if anyone is actually reading this.
In 2073, something happened that everyone thought was only true in fairy tales, fairy tales that ended in the demise of a person’s soul. Society was struck by a wild disease that killed anyone infected. Those who died reanimated and rose from the dead and ate the flesh of those they could get their hands on.
Yeah, that's right, Zombies.
No one calls them that though; to everyone else they are just walkers, thanks to the many zombie movies that people saw that pushed the zombie propaganda into their skulls. Although, it wasn't propaganda when they were just tales told through books and screen, they were fairy tales.
But they're not like what they were portrayed as on T.V., on T.V., if one bit you, you would slowly turn into one and become a soulless flesh eating monster with not a grain of humanity left in your soul. In reality, if one bites you, you don't die, the bite spreads under your skin, it looks horrible on top but feels worse on the inside as the toxins spread throughout your veins and pour a type of venom that a snake or spider would be envious of.
It makes you scream for the lord and wish for the silence of death.
Or so I've heard
Keep your blood pumping.
You’re half way there.
Never, under any circumstances, turn around.
They drill those four rules into you during training, and they enforce them when they send wild dogs after you in the arena.
Which is exactly what they are doing to me now.
I sat patiently beside a rock with palm fronds shadowing it, taking in the landscape's layout and scent.
No matter how weird it sounds, Professor Lansbury was right when she said that knowing the different smells in a landscape where it is between life or death, can really save your life.
It is a lot easier when the two things stalking you smell like month old fish that was buried in a pile of manure.
I slowly crept to the right of the rock, peeking to the side to see if I was being tracked by a dog that looks like it has been stricken with rabies. As my eyes scanned every surface I could find, I reached for the spear I made out of a stick I found. My pulse weakening, I could hear my heart now, my blood pumping faster than ever.
One deep breath in, One deep breathe out.
I pushed my legs from the ground and sprinted to the sturdiest tree I could find.
The second I started running, I heard footsteps behind me, or more accurately, the sound of paws thudding against the ground in a rapid pursuit to end me. One of the dogs had found me, and its snarls were easy to be heard even as the pulse in my ears sounded like a million drums beating at the same time.
The chase has begun.
I ducked under a lowered tree branch, pulling it with me as I moved forward, I let it go after I reached its end and heard it hit against the dog. Obviously it wasn't enough to stop it because its pace didn't slow at all.
The fast, loud thudding sound of their paws against the dirt covered ground grew louder the closer they got.
For every inch they gained my heart beat a little faster, my legs moved a little further in each step.
I didn’t run fast enough, because in a few short moments the animal was on top of me.
It jumped at my back and threw me down; I turned onto my back to face it, pulling my spear closer to my side.
Nothing happened. No dog, no wild animal, it was like I was there by myself. I sat up, looking around for a sign that I wasn’t alone, the only sign I found was the one where the dog ran at me through the trees and threw itself onto me.
As intense as this moment was, the moment between life and death, I couldn’t help but notice just how ugly this thing was. Its dark fur was matted over its eyes, its teeth crooked but sharp, the way its paws were large enough for its claws to poke out.
I wrestled with the animal, trying to push it off me as I tried to pull back the spear and lunge it through its heart. I couldn’t though; it pressed its paw onto my arm as if it knew what I was going to do.
In a state of panic, I punched the dog in the face.
Yep, I did, I punched it in the face. I don’t know where I got the amount of energy I needed for that, but it was enough to knock it off and give me enough time to get up and start running again.
I threw myself into the rushing river parallel to me and onto a boulder that was in the middle, grimy and covered in moss, it was too far into the centre for the dog to be able to jump over and grab me. I let myself breathe again, instead of a robotic in and out, I calmed myself. My beady eyes watching every step the animal took while I was steadying myself on the boulder. The white tips of the water hitting against my hand as it rushed by, leaves and sticks washing by. I realised I was no longer holding my spear; I must have dropped it in my escape.
I sat with my legs dangling in the water, waiting to figure out what I was going to do next, wondering when I would be taken from this place they have no name for, but I took the pleasure in calling it hell.
I looked down at my body, noticing for the first time just how ragged my body suit had become.
The black, plastic fabric was torn all across the centre so my stomach was clearly visible with a few deep cuts that were in plain sight, looking a whole lot worse than they felt. I readjusted the belt sewed into the pants they gave me which could almost be passed off as skinny jeans they were so tight. The belt had all but engraved its red marks into my waist.
I would damn to hell whoever came up with these uniforms, but I was already there.
My hand started to ache; I looked down at it and noticed three red lines that had been pressed into my skin, more than likely teeth marks. I wouldn’t surprise me if those things teeth were poking out of its cheeks from the angle they were on.
While I was trying to improve my apparel I hadn’t realised that one of the beasts had learnt how to swim.
Nothing had prepared me for when the wild animal that pounced at me from behind and tore its claws into my back.
Its large claws piercing my skin and sending me into a frenzy of pain, I fell into the water and was pulled towards the rapids, watching as my own blood raced against me, being swept away in front of me.
I closed my eyes and waited for the pain that was sure to come.
Only it didn’t.
I opened my eyes and the water was gone, there were no trees surrounding me and the putrid smell of those beasts was cleared from my nose, I was away from hell.
“What the hell was that Lysandra?!” I heard Professor Lansbury call out to me from her podium.
Calling me my full first name, obviously I did something to piss her off.
I threw off the headgear and marched over to the runway.
The large arena was surrounded by water, the silver surfaces radiating against the light.
I looked over to where she was perched, it looks like she was in a box, her podium sitting high off the ground.
“Sitting on a rock and fixing how you look? What were you thinking! You actually died in that simulation, if that had been real life then you would be sitting at the bottom of that creek in a pool of your own blood,” She cried to me, Lucky that everyone else was outside was too busy beating up dummies to be able to notice what was going on in here.
Looking through the wall of glass, I saw that they had new dummies with actual arms that would hit you if you missed them.
I was lucky enough to see one knock Echo onto her butt before I was interrupted by Professor Lansbury pulling my head in her direction.
“Did you hear a word I just said? You. Would. Be. Dead.” She said slowly, as if I were a three year old.
How did she get down here so fast anyway?
“Yes I heard you, I was looking at my wounds to make sure they weren’t infected” I lied. I knew it was pointless, the simulator tapped into your mind so she knew exactly, and she heard my comment about the uniforms.
“I made the uniforms thank you very much, and if it weren’t for them, that animal would have torn a lot more than the top layer of your skin, you would have been looking at your organs before you could lift that spear an inch!” she yelled. I know she had a funny way of showing she cared, but I was over the loud noises that came from her mouth.
She may be my favourite professor, but I was in no mood.
She stood there with rosy red cheeks of absolute fury.
“I dealt with that thing the best I could and I would have been better if you hadn’t sent something after me that went extinct years ago! No one has seen a dog in ages let alone a wild one! That simulation wasn’t realistic at all, it was pointless!” I snapped back at her.
“You compromised your life just so you looked good. Your vanity got in the way!”
“Vanity has nothing to do with this! How the hell was I supposed to know they could swim? They. Are. Extinct! I know nothing about them yet you sent them after me, how is that fair?!” I threw my hands in the air.
“Lyssa, Lyssa, Lyssa, always getting yourself into trouble I see? Can’t you go five minutes without causing some sort of chaos?” A voice said, I hadn’t even heard the door open which was weird considering when it slid open it hit against the frame with a bang.
“What do you want Ryder? The simulation’s over” I said, Ryder has made a habit of taunting me into attacking him, or at the very least taking a swing at his face.
Not that I have, yet, but he knows I am on the brink of sanity and that it would only take one hit for me to be taken out of the training program.
“I’m just here for a bit of constructive criticism. We are allowed to talk about that, aren’t we Professor Lansbury?” He tried, he failed.
“Mr James, if we are going to talk about ‘constructive’ criticism, might I just say that shrieking like a little girl who has just seen a walker is not what you are supposed to do when you are faced with a rabbit, at the very least.” This is why she was my favourite teacher.
She saw right through him and didn’t let him attack me even though she looked like she could kill me right now. His smirk was slapped off his face as he opened his mouth to argue.
“I thought it was a walker, if I had known it was a rabbit then obviously I wouldn’t have screamed” He tried to defend himself, but sometimes people should just learn when to stop.
“Your simulation was set on eight, there was no chance a walker would be set in anything under two. You screamed because you were unprepared. As a level five I expected better of you and it has already gone on your record that you were unfit for a simulation lower than you.” Professor Lansbury put him in his place. He turned around and walked back to the door that was left open, that must have been how he realised I was the one in here.
“Lyssa, go find Echo and work on your technique. Make her sneak up on you or something, I’m changing your uniform”
Great, Echo was going to kick my butt when I tell her about what happened.