The clock in my Honda Accord flickers to 7:35am as if the time is mocking me with statements such as “You’re late” and “Go to the attendance office” those words are all too familiar to me this week. The digits click to 7:40am and I am still sitting in the same traffic for the third morning this week. Rolling down the rickety old window on the driver’s side I poke my head out to find some hint of what the holdup may be. An overweight police man walks to his partner, transporting him with the information he has just uncovered, “You’ll never believe this.” the plump officer gestures with his claw hands to the bus behind him, “That bus driver lost control over on Joshua Road when a student got up and bit him!” His partner looks bemused and runs a hand over his coarse facial hair, trying to take in what just occurred.
“Where’d he bite ‘em?” the second officer asks.
“Right in the neck. Gotta good chunk too.” Placing his walky-talky on his belt hidden under his massive girth of his stomach, the cop climbs into the police car and both officers drive off toward the main road to clear the traffic.
“A bite? Really? That’s why I’m gonna be written up today? It’s probably some freshmen girl hype on Twilight or vampires, going around biting people.” I rant to the clock as if it’ll respond to me. After a few moments of little movement I run my fingers through my hair and groan loud enough to be heard over the horns from the cars surrounding me.
When I finally reach school it’s already quarter past nine, which means first period is already over. As I run to my second class of the day I think of all the possible excuses I can use to defend my lateness. However, upon entering the classroom I find the room empty. There’s not a soul in sight as I glide between desks, but I am greeted with some kind of smell in the room. The odor isn’t incredibly strong at first, but it’s enough to make me pull the neck of my sweater over my mouth and nose. With each step the stench increases, becoming fouler by the second. Did something die in here? Finally, I come to the conclusion that since the room reeked of death my teacher must have sent the students to work in a different classroom. I pick up my backpack and head to the attendance office.
In the halls I feel the same uneasiness I felt in the classroom, the feeling of being alone but claustrophobic even though I see no other beings pass by. And suddenly I hear a footstep, but not my footstep, someone else’s. Yes, I’m quite positive I heard another footstep that wasn’t within the beats of my own pace. No, there’s definitely somebody else here. Stop! Listen…It’s gone. I continue walking and I can almost make out a second footstep if I focus, but just barely. Yes, there it is! I quicken my pace little by little until I feel every muscle in my legs pulling me closer and closer to the attendance office. I sigh, I made it. The door clicks behind me and I frightfully tap my fingers on the desk, awaiting the routine disapproving glare from one of the ladies that work in the office. However, today I would give anything just to see another human being. It sounds crazy but the quietness in the halls, the bus driver being bitten, the smell…I just want the comfort of seeing a familiar face.
“Hello?” I call. No answer. I hoist myself over the desk and feel my eyes widen greatly. There, on the mustard colored floor is one of the office ladies, her arm oozing burgundy blood. Well, what’s left of her arm, anyway.
“Oh, my god!” I shriek loudly. My high pitched cry startles someone in the back room of the attendance office. I feel relieved to know I am not alone, even if the only other person is a snotty old woman that glares at every student she sees. The elderly woman must be rather old. And large possibly. She’s taking a good few minutes to walk over and assist me.
“Hi,” I’ll be as polite as possible and maybe she’ll let me off easy. “I just got here. There was a ton of traffic, you would never-” I stop myself after noticing her facial expression. She’s almost not even looking at me, her eyes look heavy and slightly bloodshot. Then I notice a good amount of skin is missing from her shoulder! And then the stench thickens. The only clear thought I can form is: this old lady is a zombie, she bit her co-worker and now she wants to bite me, and I have to go, I have to get out of this office, out of this school!
I turn for the door but it’s locked. I can’t help but feel this is some sort of trap that I so foolishly walked into. “Unlock, please, unlock dammit!” My voice cracks but I continue to press my hand onto the handle with every ounce of strength and aggression I have, but the only action the handle does is jiggle up and down. Screw it! What other way out is there?! The elderly woman is now on the move, but the desk is bolted to the ground and she struggles with maneuvering around it.
Trying to think quickly I spot a Mickey Mouse snow globe sitting on the countertop. I hurl the snow globe at the glass door and a hole to the halls has been created. But it’s too small, I need something else to throw. “What can I use, what can I use?! Aha! A phone!” I continue throwing heavy objects until there’s enough room to squeeze through. Tears trickle down my face as I crawl through the door and feel shards of glass jabbing into my stomach, staining my white sweater with thick red spots. A hand closes in on my ankle and I feel the grip begin to tighten.
“Get off of me!” I bark at the old hag that’s trying to feast on my legs. My torso falls onto the cold ceramic tiles of the halls, but my bottom half is still trapped inside the office. Without thinking I kick my legs back and forth until finally I kick the woman in the jar and she lets go. She seems to be unconscious and I let myself rest on the cool tiles, just for a minute. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. I may have just killed a faculty member, breath in, breath out. I can get expelled for this, breathe in, breathe-where’s that sound coming from?! Don’t breathe out, be quiet! Footsteps thumb on the floor and grow louder. They sound much heavier than before, as if the walker is not alone. I try wiggling out of the glass door, but I’m too weak. I can’t get up quick enough. Finally, I’m able to remove my legs from the door. I roll over on my stomach just in time to see the entire school body staring at me with that vacant, yet almost somber look in their eyes. I try to move about, I try to bend my knees and rise against my teachers, classmates, friends even. But I have no weapon; I’m powerless. I am too weak and lifeless to even stand up. I shiver, my breathing quickens but the rest of me is incapable of movement.
A tall, lanky boy from the crowd is drenched in blood and bruises. He walks over to my pathetic body that is sprawled across the floor. I catch his hazy eyes sizing me up and he grabs my arm violently. But I look past these dead brown eyes, this foul stench, and deformed body “James!” I cry, reaching up to caress his blood-stained face. “James, please don’t!” For a moment he turns away from my arm that he was about to devour and looks into my eyes. “It’s me, James, your girlfriend!”
“Ciara?” he mumbles with uncertainty.
“Yeah, yeah it’s me, James.” I smile up at him and push locks of bloody brown hair out of his eyes. The corners of his mouth begin to turn up, forming his familiar smile that I had grown to love. He remembers me! I haven’t lost him to the zombie apocalypse! He looks down at my arm for a minute and then gnaws off the majority of the meat. I gasp. Did that really just happen?! Breathe in, breath out, breathe in-I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T-my eyes grow vacant, the color drains from my face.
Moments later I sit up next to him then walk lifelessly with my fellow students in search of something to eat. I’ve become the enemy, the very thing I feared above all else I can now walk next to as my equal.
I’ve been bitten.