“It’s only until situations becomes a global issue, that most countries start to care and take action. Take global warming for example, that’ll effect all of us. And so do some wars and problems that earth could face with Space…” Our geography teacher rambles on. Everyone in the class is bored, some struggling to stay awake, partly from the exhausting heat of Chicago’s summer. Even Erica, my best friend, hasn’t been found taking notes, which she always does. But she’s just perfect like that. Not just organization and being focused, but also in personality and appearance. I swivel my body around, slightly, my head facing Erica, in the corner back of the classroom.
“Kill me now.” I mouth, rolling my eyes. Before she replies back to me, she checks to see if our teacher is looking, and then glances at her silver watch, reflecting the sun’s light at the wall.
“Five more minutes.” Erica mouths back, sticking up five fingers. Turning back, I bury my head into my crossed arms, distracting myself from the heat and my terrible cough. I have a small case of bronchitis, which has almost healed up. My body chose the wrong season to be sick. The holidays are almost here and I want to have fun and let loose than sleep in all day, drink hot fluids, that makes me feel even more hot, hoping I’ll get better. I chose the wrong day to wear a cardigan, too. It doesn’t help that there isn’t any air conditioning in the classroom. There’s only air conditioning in the hallway, where the lockers are. I’ll just have to try and last until the bell rings.
“Oh…look at the time! Time flies by when you’re having fun, I guess.” Our teacher sighs, after the bell rings. “Go to your next lesson!”
I scramble for my bag, stuffing my books and pencil case in, running for the hall way, Erica at my heel. Pretty much the whole class is running for the hallway. After all, it is the only air conditioning area in the school.
Approaching the hallway, I feel the cold air hit against my skin.
“Don’t get used to it, Jane. We still have another lesson.” Erica frowns, walking along with me to our lockers. “Think of it this way, winter is going to be super cold so you should make most of summer. What do you have now?” She asks, as we both open our lockers. She had swapped with someone else to have her locker right next to mine, at the beginning of our high school life. I guess that’s how much of friends we are with each other.
“Maths.” She groans, hanging her head back.
“Well, we can meet here after so we can get lunch together…unless you have plans already…”
“Yeah, sure. But the Math’s teacher always lets us out a little later…so it’s not my fault if I’m a bit late.”
I laugh. “Well, don’t take too long or-” I begin, “Look!” Being subtle, pointing at Tim, Erica’s annoying admirer, I notice him looking our way, once again.
“Shut up!” Erica punches me lightly on my right arm. “Stop looking his way.”
“He’s getting pretty annoying now.” I giggle, turning from Tim.
“I know!” Erica blushes.
It’s not only Tim, however, who likes Erica. Her perfect curly blonde hair and her ocean blue eyes always seem to attract people’s attention. And I’m invisible, walking besides her. It’s like comparing a blob fish to a Siberian cat. Not that blob fishes are that ugly. I’ve had people admire me too, once upon ago. What used to be a fun, colourful pink, my hair is now just a chocolaty brown. Not bad but against Erica's, my hair is lifeless. And my eyes aren’t a pretty blue like Erica’s either, it’s just a dull brown.
“Well…I’m going to be late for my next lesson if I stay! We should head to our next lesson” Erica suggests. After she leaves for her lesson, I walk, as slowly as possible, away from the hallway to my next lesson. At least the Summer Holidays start in about two week.
As I get to my English class, I notice how very little people there are seated. I guess our school is just too big for people to get to their classes on time. As I sit down, I tap at my desk, at the same pace as the clock’s hands. Our teacher should be here by now.
First, one minute flies by, then two. Then five and six and seven. Where is the teacher?!
I twist my head around. The only people here are two other girls, Bliss and Amelia, and two boys, Alden and Teddy.
“Shouldn’t we go look for the teacher?” Alden mutters, noticing my concerned expression.
“Seriously? Don’t you have a phone or something? Wouldn’t you rather do whatever you want or listen to a teacher?” Amelia smirks, but doesn’t look away from her phone.
“Well, I actually want to do well in life and pass the test we’re going to have next week. So, if you don’t mind, Amelia, I would like a teacher.” Teddy says, pursing his lips.
“Look, can we not start an argument in this heat. I feel like I’m going to melt from all this.” Bliss sighs, heavily, dragging her hand through her pixie cropped hair.
That’s when we hear a scream. Not just a scream of laughter or fun, or a scream like someone just found a spider in their hair. It’s a scream that could ring through your mind for days, a scream that shows you that something really is wrong. We all stand up, even Amelia.
“What the hell?!” Bliss whispers, her eyes bulging out. Teddy walks over to the door, opening it as if something might jump out at him.
“What?” I ask, “What happened?” I say, sounding calmer than Bliss, coughing after.
“I don’t know…” He replies, wondering out into the hallway. After packing my stuff back into my bag, I follow Teddy. I’m pretty sure the teacher isn’t coming. Maybe she forgot.
“We shouldn’t leave class.” Alden mumbles.
“Shut up!” Amelia nudges into him as she follows behind me.
Before we know it, a group of kids flee from the upper floor, some even falling down the stairs, they’re coming from.
“What’s going on?” I ask, this time I can’t hold back the panic. But this time no one replies. Not even with an, I don’t know.
“RUN!” One of the kids scream. Hesitant, we start to run behind them. Seriously? What’s going on? Is this a prank?
As we enter the lockers’ hallway, I notice people grabbing their things from their lockers, some people panicked, some people confused. Is there a celebrity in the school or something? There can’t be. They wouldn’t react like this.
Copying the other students, I head to my locker. Erica could be there. She might know what’s going on. Then I see bloody footprints. Blood? Why is there blood? That’s when I join the people who are panicked. Blood can’t mean good things. Not if there is a lot of it. Has there been a murder?
“WHAT’S GOING ON?!” I yell my throat raw.
No one answers. There’s just loud sounds of people yelling, screaming and running and the squeaky sound of people’s shoes skidding the clean white floor.
Then I notice people with bats and rackets. Why?
The first thing I grab from my locker, before I realise and acknowledge anything else, is my camera. I need it. It’s precious to me. It always has been since I was twelve and started getting into photography.
Suddenly, I see a glimpse of a bright peach skater dress. That’s what Erica was wearing. Then I see her curly, long hair and her face. She sprints to me. I haven’t seen her do that in a long time that wasn’t because of physical education. And I watch the panic in her eyes ease down as she spots me.
“Jane!” I hear my name escape from her mouth.
“Erica!” I yell back, slamming my locker shut and tossing my camera into my bag. “What’s going on?”
“I’ll explain later. We need to go! Hurry!” She almost bursts into a cry.
We sprint for the doors, avoiding the bloody footprints, which have slipped up people already. I look back. Then I see it. I observe the crowd and the problem that is running towards the hallway. I watch whatever it is rip off the flesh of fellow students. They aren’t human. But they are. They look human, except their skin is dead, colourless, bloody, rotten, cracked, bruised, scarred and their eyes are sunken and unfocused yet they know exactly where they are going. Possibly by smell? They look deformed. Their movement is quick but unbalanced and their arms are either flailing about or tucked closely to their upper body as they move. And there are loads of them. They’re multiplying. Quickly. The more of us there are, the more they bite. Stumbling, I panic, breathing faster than I ever have. This is not a prank or some silly behaviour. This is real life.
Erica drags me out the school’s entrance door. I notice how fast, strong and agile she actually is. It’s not just the school. It’s the whole city. Scanning the area, all I can see are screaming people, cars parked unevenly in the middle of the road and panic. Panic. I see people from the school, some people from my classes run out the building. Then we start running again. Erica’s grip on my wrist tightens and I would squeal with pain if there wasn’t chaos and confusion running through the streets. Looking back, once again, I watch as people die. Dying? I see Callie, a bully, get pulled down as she tries to escape. I watch her get tortured, killed. A few seconds later, she’s one of them. How is that even possible? However, I almost feel glad that she was the one to die. She tortured people in our school, now she was getting it done to her, except in a more brutal way. Unfortunately, Violet, another girl who had always been quiet and vulnerable through her whole life gets murdered too. This isn’t ‘whoever is mean gets killed first’ thing. Life’s not fair. This proves it.
As I turn my head back to face forwards, one of the ‘unhuman humans’ charges towards us, and before either me or Erica can whack it away, it takes its bite on Erica’s arm. She stops. Shakily, she grabs a butcher’s knife out from her bag, which I hadn’t noticed she was carrying. Why did she have that?
“Cut my arm!” She demands, fire flaring in her eyes.
“No!” I scream back, startled.
“Jane! Just do it!” She cries, tears rolling down her burning cheeks. “JANE!”
Why? Why would she want me to cut her arm? How come she knew what she was doing?
“Jane, you need to cut my arm, or I’ll have to do it!” She spreads her arm against a wall, and to my surprise I chop it off, a few centimetres above her bite. I cut her arteries. What have I done? I hear her screams and it deafens my right ear. Blood spurts out her arm and for a second, I feel like throwing up. I wrap her arm with my cream cardigan. I guess, it wasn’t a bad day to wear a cardigan. Now it’s my turn to drag Erica. She doesn’t look as confused or scared as me, though.
We turn a corner into a corner shop, grabbing water bottles and packets of crisps. Panting, we escape to the nearest shopping mall. But it’s not helpful at all. There are tons of people there. No escape. No hope.