The Quarantine Zone

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The Outbreak

Two Weeks Later...

His boots clicked along the ground, the young man casually trekking along the busy streets of Junction City. His black combat boots stirred up light dust as he tugged on his brown fingerless gloves, his neck length spiked black hair slicked back enough so when a light breeze passed by it only moved just a tad. His bronze colored eyes took in the busy streets as his brown hoodie flapped in the wind; his purple beanie fitted snug on his head to tune out the chilly winds of January; his eyes watching people vacate their homes and begin to leave Junction City; moving away from here as a frown tugged on his lips a tad. A light stubble of hair rested on his chin in a neatly trimmed goatee, his chin narrowed and less defined as well as his light grey tee shirt remained visible as his jacket was unzipped; the shirt with a profound emblem on it, which was really just a big yellow smiley face but with two X’s in the place of the eyes as well as a big red tongue sticking out. A pair of green headphones rested around his neck as well, a light tune emitting from them but only enough to be barely heard so he could concentrate on where he was going and listening out for problems. Blue baggy jeans rested on his body, lightly dirty and damaged from overuse, and to finish his look he had a brown belt on. Rounding the street corner the young man continued walking; passing by a man on his way to work; revealing that he in fact was only 5’11 in height, not extremely large but not short by any means.

“Hey Paul,” The man said, recognizing the young man. “On your way to school?”

“Yeah, gotta learn somethin’ at the high school.” He spoke in a crass voice; hinting some of a cynical mood with a hint of humor. He continued walking, and soon stood before a pair of tall grey gates to the school he had been going to for so long; Pinewood High School.

The school was utterly immaculate, and that was putting it lightly. It was immense, stretching several dozen meters wide and being a solid five stories in height; a baseball and football field located within the campus; Paul able to see students already hard at work practicing for their sporting events; the young man walking past the gates and taking in the faces of dozens of people conversing about things he’d rather not care about. Pinewood High School, as one could tell by the reinforced gates and the separate building still on campus and linked to the original by a bridge located on the third floor, was actually a Boarding School; the students who were lucky and hardworking enough to be accepted here lived on campus and had their own room to themselves; Paul was…somewhat in this category.

He only got in because his old man and the dean were friends from the past; and after some talking and a few beers at the bar and Paul was accepted into the school; the young man being a tad against the prospect but here he was; a Junior here and in about a year he’d be on his own and living his own life. Paul had no intent to go to college; he wanted to find his own path and find his own leads to life…plus he thought college was just a plan to mess with people.

Arriving in his homeroom, he slumped down in his seat at the back of the class; the talking of the teacher barely reaching him, to the point where Paul had fallen asleep; arms curled up on his desk to support his head as he slept.

A sharp whack to the back of his head made him swear like a sailor before falling over his chair and hitting the ground back first; glaring daggers at who woke up so harshly.

“Louis you fucker.” The one in question was a strong contrast to Paul’s somewhat disheveled uncaring look; wearing a clean pressed white collared shirt with a tie wrapped around it; black slacks being matched by brown sneakers. His skin was a deep brown color, and his head was bald, eyes full of enthusiasm and jubilance. His name was indeed Louis; a friend of Paul’s and having known him since they had both first been enrolled in Pinewood. The stark difference was that Louis got in with hard work and a deep amount of effort, wanting to go to college and soon work in the IT Department; something Paul knew Louis was capable of. Though sometimes he had to act as his guardian angel as well; the duo having gotten in a lot of trouble in their time in the school.

“Why the fuck did you whack my head like that?”

“You were wide open man,” He said, voice about as enthusiastic as his look; offering his hand to help Paul to his feet. “Plus it’s lunch man; don’tcha want those cupcakes they’re givin’ out for free?”

“Shit you’re right; let’s go man!” The teen had already clambered over his desk in an effort to bolt out the door, though Louis snagged Paul by his hood and stopped him from running.

“Louis lemme go! Who knows how much time we missed sitting here yapping like a buncha idiots—“

“We’re walking Paul; can’t risk Evan giving out another demerit for stuff like that.” Begrudgingly he accepted and started down the hall, walking as they found the halls empty and barren.

“Paul didja hear about the incident up in Topeka?” Louis asked, breaking the silence that Paul had been using to dwell in his own mind. “About that outbreak of some kinda virus?”

“Saw a Bing story about it; but they didn’t really say nothing ‘cept it had to be bombed…why?”

“A friend of mine said something about it was a little more than a virus; something about it driving people insane and making them attack and eat one another; really sick stuff man.”

“Jesus Christ; you mean like zombies?!” Louis clamped his mouth shut just as the one they spoke about passed by.

Evan stood tall and proud, despite being an inch or so shorter than Paul; dressed in a clean pressed long sleeved collared shirt and white slacks; a badge sewn onto the shoulder with the official Hall Monitor Crest. His hair was an almond brown and spiked near the front, as the rest was slicked back in compliance with Hall Monitor safety regulations. He had an aura of intimidation about him, which usually sent underclassmen scurrying for cover when he came their way.

“What’s this I heard about zombies?” He spoke, arms crossed, Louis keeping silent as Paul inevitably pricked his friend’s shoulder to make him let go; clearing his throat.

“What happened up in Topeka, for your info man, Louis told me folks were eating each other like fucking animals.” In that instant Evan’s demeanor shifted from his stoic dark look to a curious, intrigued one.

“Zombies? Like from those old movies you made everyone in Dorm C watch in a marathon? The ones with people rising from the graves?” A little fact Paul knew about Evan was the usually hardass Hall Monitor had a curiosity streak, and when he heard something out of the ordinary he usually reacted without anger towards it but a want to know more; soon the three of them began walking down the hall and proceeding towards the cafeteria as Louis began to tell them what he managed to dig up on the entire event.

“My god, t-t-they quarantined the entire city? How’d no one hear about that until now?” Evan asked worriedly, concerned for the well being of the school as they three of them entered the cafeteria; Louis having to explain in both a loud enough voice to be heard as well as a quiet enough tone to keep from overhearing their conversation.

“My guess is they didn’t want anyone to panic; I mean Junction City is pretty close to Topeka; everyone here’d be in a panic to leave and get as far away as they could possibly get.”

Come to think of it... Paul’s thoughts began to wander on their own as he reached for his drab brown tray to get some food. I saw a lotta people leaving here in a hurry on my way up here...they must be as worried as Evan is about the outbreak that happened up there.

But that still begs the question...what the fuck are we still doing here then? He didn’t really have an answer, or a method for him to leave the city...least not without drawing some severe attention and risking a lot. Besides; if what the news report said then the infection was gone...right?

Lunch concluded and Paul found himself in his Math course; as ever he was struggling from nodding off from how much his teacher was rambling. He half expected to feel Louis smack the back of his head again to mess with him but he was in Economics at the moment.

“And that’s why video games require math!” His eyes darted open as he snorted and almost fell from his desk; that grating, nasally voice singing his ears. He glanced to the front of the class, at who had just concluded a speech on why video games and mathematics went hand in hand, hence why he was allowed to ramble on about them.

Someone he didn’t like speaking too all that much, Chester Hammerburst.

Literally the dark side of the gaming community, Chester was nearly everything a gamer strived to never become. He was obese, not morbidly but still quite fat, and had the same complexion as Paul did, albeit a tad paler due to a life of being a shut in. A skull tee shirt stretched over his belly while a pair of baggy black jeans rested on him; his messy black hair concealed by a fedora; the words OBEY hastily scribbled on it with a sharpie or something; Paul had no idea. He had the overall look of someone he’d rather not associate with. Regardless the fat one returned to his seat and Paul resumed his relaxation; class letting out and he began to move again, thankful that right now was his free period so he’d just relax and-

“Hey Paul!” A voice boomed from above him, the teen jumping and turning to stare up at a big guy.

He stood at a whole head or so taller than Paul; around 6’5 perhaps but Paul wasn’t 100% sure. His skin was much like Louis’ but it was darker, and he had hair in the form of a series of obsidian cornrows running down to the back of his neck. He fit the bill of being both lean yet at the same time muscled and ripped; much of his bulk concealed under a black leather jacket; the front opened to show his white muscle shirt underneath it. Black baggy jeans and sneakers made up his lower half, and even concealed Paul could see the guy sported multiple tattoos under his coat; giving a glare that could melt steel; arms crossed as his sunglasses obscured much of his gaze.

“Just where the fuck do you think you’re goin’?” His tone was rough and grating; Paul taking a step back before he continued inching away. “You’re gonna miss Physics.” Paul deflated there, exhaling in relief. The guy in question was Dennis Jenkins, but he preferred to be called Mongo; on account of him being an extremely large guy and extremely imposing...he and Paul became friend when the big guy used to bully him and Paul had enough and punched him in the eye. From there, shockingly, the former bully became friendly to Paul; having actually been his bully to test him and see if he was worth befriending...obviously he was. The irony was it was probably because Mongo used to run in a minor gang; he left after his brother got put in the hospital from a drive by.

“Mongo don’t scare me like that man, nearly shit myself.”

“Chill out man, don’t be sucha bitch.” He started walking, following Paul as the two made their way to the Welding room; having been joking about that Physics thing. “You hear about that incident that hit Topeka? Scary shit right?”

“Yep; do you think whatever hit them can come over and fuck with us too?”

“Well they say they got it under control but I ain’t buyin’ that; so there’s always a possibility. Best we keep our eyes up man.”

“Huh, it’s funny cause ya sound like Evan-“ Mongo shot him a glare a moment later; stopping outside his next course for the day.

“Don’t compare me to that weenie; got it?” Paul nodded a tad, and kept walking, needing to go relax for the time being.

Who the hell even says weenie nowadays?

Still with about 30 minutes before his next class a good option was to take a visit to the Metal Shop classroom; where another friend was; all the rest of his major friends were in class at the moment. Opening the door only one person was left, currently welding together two shards of metal for a project; the sound of the door slamming caught his attention instantly; the guy panicking and cutting the high powered machine off before he accidentally burned his hands.

“Hey Travis.” The guy removed his welding helmet, and still wore a panicked expression.

“Paul I damn near burned my hands off man!” Travis Reynolds; someone Paul met early on in his High school life. He wore an iconic brown jumpsuit, coated in dirt and grime from extended hours in the shop even when classes were let out; a pair of orange and black sneakers coating his feet. A black bandana hugged his head; obscuring his messy brown hair from the normal eye as his own copper colored eyes held both sharp wit and a bit of sorrow and self esteem issues, his voice as shaky as his personality. But Travis’ biggest trait came when he sighed.

His teeth were all sharp as daggers; like a shark’s would be. A rare gene trait that Travis had was Regressive Atavism; but unlike some unlucky people out there with major defects Travis himself only got a minor one; the teeth of a reptile or even a shark or so. Thus, every time Travis smiled or spoke one had a front row seat to the fact that all of his teeth were sharp; often intimidating. However some time with Travis told Paul the truth; dud was really a coward. He got into the school with his amazing mechanical and welding skills, but aside from that he was meek and often cowardly in the face of others; only putting on a face of bravery to impress a girl in Biology; someone Paul chose not to associate with. Regardless, Travis was someone Paul was glad to have known.

“What the hell are ya workin’ on anyways?” The sharp toothed teen moved his hands, making sure they were encased in reinforced gloves before he lifted it up; Paul having to just shake his head.

“You’re making a bouquet of metal flowers for Luna?” Growing defensive Travis set down the cone full of metal flowers, patting it. “Doesn’t that sound...dumb?”

“I-It’s not dumb for your information; just unique!”

“Really? Cause I thought the whole purpose of flowers were for someone to enjoy the smell of the flowers-“

“But that’s the epicness of these ones; they’ll never wilt! I just gotta, I dunno- spray paint ‘em purple and red for her; it’ll be perfect.”

“Ya sure Frank won’t amaze her with more poetry?” That got Travis angry, clutching his hands in anger. Frank and Paul weren’t...friends; but the guy was amusing to watch; called himself a Ninja and dressed black and wore a hoodie all the time; as well as a bandana around his mouth to act “stealthy” like how Ninja did...problem was no one bullied him because he was a 2nd Degree Black belt.

“I-I’ll show him! I bet he can’t beat this!” With that Travis resumed his frantic work as Paul walked off; leaving him to his... well meaningless task was putting it too harshly.

Biology was where Paul expected to go next obviously; however he was focusing now and taking notes; being engaged in the course. He was really just trying to get through with the class because out of all his courses he was suffering dramatically in this one; never having been able to really grasp the course’s works. So instead of sleeping, he was hard at work to fix his grades. For now it seemed to be a minor intermission; the teacher had to step out for a sudden conference with the other faculty so it was just a study break for now; Paul using this time wisely and going over his notes for the test next week.

Well, at least he was until he heard laughing and a low, whimper of a cry. His eyes darted over to the source; seeing several girls laughing and holding a notebook away from someone. Paul sighed; he knew exactly who they were bullying; Mikia Vindecator.

Her last name he never understood, Paul met the girl a long time ago. Even now he could see that she hadn’t changed since that day; still with lengthy black messy hair; the tips reaching the back of her neck and was cut in places from others cutting it with scissors to mess with her as her bright emerald eyes were full of brimming tears; obviously not enjoying the act before her. Two arm length white bandages wrapped around her arms; hiding something only a select few knew about; numerous scars. She wore a damaged blue and green sweater, with an odd medical apron, and a weathered black skirt hugged her lithe form; as for leggings she had bandages up to her knees as well, over her black sneakers. Her voice was whiny and timid; obviously not someone who’d enjoy being tormented by popular peers. She had a rounded, soft face; one that would be a travesty to see stained with tears. Mikia and Paul weren’t friends either...just she got bullied a lot and he had to step in; now being a good example of that rule.

He calmly stood and reached for the cup one of the popular bitches had set down; full of yogurt from the cafeteria; and without a care in the world Paul lifted it and smashed the plastic cup onto her head, her ear-piercing screams not even bothering him in the slightest.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?” She wailed like a banshee, face inches from his, absolute fury in her eyes, while Paul just shrugged.

“What’s wrong is I’m stuck smelling your breath; get some tic-tacs; smelling lotta ass on your breath; besides that’s not the first time you’ve had something white and gooey in your hair.” From the back of the room Travis shouted the words “shots fired” but slunk down when all six girls glared at him; their fury was redirected to Paul. “Now leave her alone; not gonna hit a girl but I doubt you six are really girls now, just bitches.” One piped in about getting their boyfriends to kick his ass, and Paul leaned back on the edge of the desk he was in front of, giving her a coy look.

“Sure, call your boyfriends to straighten out your mess; or we can be adult about this and-you there in the dress, yeah you give Mikia her notebook back.”

“Or what? You scared?” One chided, and Paul’s retort was somewhat caring.

“No; just don’ wanna call Mongo to send another person to the hospital.” They all shut up after that; last time Mongo fought someone as said that guy was in the hospital and is currently attending physical therapy. They wordlessly left the class, mostly to avoid making bigger asses of themselves, as one dropped the notebook; Paul grasping the discarded item and handing it to Mikia, the girl staring up at him with a...slight strange look; like a mix between thanks and a bit of...affection; he couldn’t tell.

“Um, t-thank you for h-helping m-m-me.”

“No problem, just try to avoid more problems like that, alright?” He moved back to his desk and resumed working...though out the corner of his eye he could see Mikia was currently staring at him with a bit of a creepy look.

When class ended he was very aware she had been following him until he managed to lose her around the restrooms.

Note to self, be very careful around Mikia...girl freaks me right the fuck out...

The computer lab was Paul’s next stop; he needed to look some stuff up and figure out some more information about that outbreak; he was growing worried since everything seemed...cryptic.

Mainly, the biology teacher never came back to class, and much of the faculty was currently missing; their locations unknown.

Seated in one of the many desks in the opaque, dark room, Paul looked up all the information about the outbreak in Topeka; problem was the majority of the information had been taken down for some unknown reason. He slumped back in his seat and groaned; this was going nowhere real fast. Turning his head he decided to take a momentary break to look in at who was around him, but took in the one to his right more.

She had short cut well groomed chestnut brown hair; eyes an eerie red and full of life as well; a collared speckled orange shirt on her as well as a pair of form fitting jeans adorned her lower body, the red sneakers she wore unorthodox but at the same time cute to Paul’s opinion. Overall she was, in an odd sense, cute.

“You look nice.” He said to her casually, returning to his work, as he heard her speak.

“Well thanks for that, but-“

“Also can you help me out; trying to look up some information about that chaos that went down in Topeka.” She quieted down and sighed, rolling her seat over and her hands gliding across the keyboard at a breakneck speed; hands rapid blurs as she worked before Paul’s eyes. It was almost like she wasn’t even human! What was more impressive was that she did other things to the computer; bringing up hard drive components and other things; soon she pulled her hands back as there was a page present on the Topeka Incident, as well as all the information that was restricted.

“There you are; the information regarding the Topeka Outbreak as well as the listed government information Bing tried to cover up alongside the military.”

“Just...fucking wow th-that’s amazing.” He read over the information; and grew both interested and worried at the same time...the outbreak was caused by contaminated water going to much of the city; those who either consumed or washed themselves with it...changed. Soon with enough info to bring to Louis Paul turned the computer off and hopped up, thankful for all the help.


“Insela; my name is Insela, and I’m-“

“Yeah that’s great and all but I gotta take this to my friend; he’ll love to see this.” He wrote down a lot of the info and was on his way to the door; out a second later.

Insela just sighed a moment later. Paul should pay more attention to people, might learn a thing or two about people.

“Okay how’d I get here?” Paul sat in the bleachers of the gym, hands behind his head to support it as Louis sat next to him; the two of them watching people parade around; playing basketball, talking, or other things no one cared about. “And why the hell aren’t we ditching?”

“Because Evan’s right there outside the door and that’s literally the only exit. We go out he’ll tackle us-“

“Correction, at least one of us will get tackled. Might be you; I know you don’t Parkour.” Louis deadpanned, and casually whacked Paul’s head.

“Ellen’s right there too; you know she’ll attack.” That made Paul cringe, looking to the girl currently playing 1v10 dodge ball...and winning.

Ellen didn’t directly look imposing, but everyone knew better; she was a powerhouse. Her skin was a deep tan color; her hair spiked and black as well, some say it defied gravity and never let down, even when idle. Her amber eyes were filled with fire and determination, and hugging her modest bust was a gray tee shirt, with the words “Fight to live and Live to fight” marked on them; as well as a pair of black shorts and sneakers. Mimicking a bit of Paul’s style she wore a pair of black fingerless gloves...but where his were meant for free-running and were made of nylon and cotton, hers were designed for fighting and made with leather. Anyone in Pinewood, even Mongo, could say pissing Ellen off was a death sentence. Even now as said she was playing against ten guys, and depressingly she was winning; throwing the red rubber ball at each one and hitting them directly in the head; one guy probably had a concussion from how hard he got hit. Paul’s plans for escape were...dashed; Ellen would see him and demand he get in the game; last time he declined he had to put those free-running skills to the ultimate test to keep from her clutches.

Big shocker; she made creative use of a table that day.

“Lou did you notice a lotta folks aren’t here today?” The gym was mostly empty save for that current fight, and a few people Paul didn’t know. “Like...where the hell are they?”

“No idea; like the gym coach; he’s gone too.” They’d continue on but Paul barely dodged a dodge ball aiming for his head; seeing Ellen glaring him down like a predator looked at new prey.

“You. Court; NOW!” Paul’s eyes glanced to Louis and-

Oh sure! He can slip under the bleachers from here! Fuckin’ dick... He stood a tad and sighed, picking the dodge ball up and throwing it at Ellen, hoping he’d get lucky and hit her head or something. He expected her to catch it and throw it back, pain flooding his senses as he collapsed on the bleacher from the impact.

“...Ellen why?” He coughed a tad, still in severe pain. In response she merely shrugged and picked the dodge ball up and without a care pelted Paul again, walking off to leave him to grovel.

“See you should learn how to do that.” Louis said, poking his head out the Bleachers. “Ellen can’t get down here so she can’t do that to you.”

“Lou go fuck yourself.”

When classes ended Paul of course made his way to his dorm; students had until 9 PM to be out and about but he felt...tired; which was profound since he did sleep in through much of his classes. Slumping down on his bed Paul took in his room’s decor, smirking at how he had it set. The room was a standard white and black color, with a standard issue bed meant for one and a dresser and a desk with a computer; the added touches being posters around the room on Free-Running. Paul’s goal in life really was to go into free-running; to Parkour in competitions and earn money for it while also having a good time...he was still wondering how to put it into words to his parents. Closing his eyes Paul felt sleep overcome him, as well as the darkness of dreaming that he had so appreciated when resting.

A series of sharp bangs on his door made him snap awake, rolling over and landing on the floor with a startled gasp; of course he wasn’t prepared for that whatsoever, glancing over to the desk and seeing the digital clock there reading it was 6:27 PM; he’d been asleep for about three or so hours give or take, which explained why outside the window it was currently sunset. He advanced to the door with a sorely pissed off expression, opening it with a rough start and staring down the one who had banged on his door like a madman.

Louis stood there, short of breath and panting.

“Paul we got a serious fucking emergency; a serious as shit fucking emergency!” Instead of mouthing off at Louis for banging on his door Paul showed some concern.

Main reason, in all his years of knowing Louis, Paul knew damn well that his friend was virtually a saint; he never swore to the extent he did now.

“Wha- What’s the issue man? Is someone hurt? Someone fighting?”

“I think it’d be smarter if you got over to room 117 man; lotta us are gathered there right now.” Not arguing with his friend; Paul got moving within a minute, not even closing his door as the two of them ran, crossing the bridge between the dorms and the main building. But even then Paul noticed something defining.

Where the hell is everyone? Usually the football field’s full of folks practicing at least but one’s here... Paul stopped for a moment to look over everything; outside he could see there were things scrambled about the place; besides the usual liter some students were rude to leave behind.

It’s almost as if everyone out there left in a hurry.

“Paul c’mon man! We don’t have time to stop and take in the scenery!”

“What the fuck happened out there Louis? Where’s everyone?!” He didn’t answer however, just kept running. They didn’t stop until they reached the room Louis had said; on the second floor; since as everyone remembered the first was really just the lobby and visitors center, as well as the major amities like the gym and the pool for the swimming team. But returning to topic, the room was currently packed with people; many of them with horrified faces, and others biting their nails and overall in a sense of fear; there being about thirty or so students the classroom. Paul closed the door behind himself and stepped forward, finally seeing that they were watching the TV mounted in the right corner of the ceiling, and on it was an emergency live news report. The reporter making the broadcast currently stood in the road, as what Paul could describe was utter anarchy surrounding him. The subtitle below made Paul as fearful as the rest of them.

The dead have risen.

“This is Mark Winchester reporting in from northern Junction City, we are currently facing some kind of severe infection! People are literally eating one another and reports are flooding in about cemeteries rapidly emptying as corpses are literally breaking from the ground and rising out to attack and eat people; some so decomposed it’s hard to recognize if they were even human-“ A scream to the reporter’s right made him jump and bat away someone; the person now in the camera’s view with a lead pipe rammed through his chest, yet he still let out a bloodthirsty growl of a noise and lunged for the reporter; only to be smashed with the microphone and stomped upon without any mercy; the reporter panting as he turned his view back to the camera.

“If anyone is watching this now do not try to get out of the city; it’s too dangerous and these freaks are everywhere! Find shelter somewhere and do not leave under any circumstances!” He backed away again as more of those people advanced upon him; sporting a wide variety of wounds; hell one actually looked like he had been torn apart; lacking much of his throat, stomach, left arm and head; yet he still shuffled towards the reporter. The last image on the TV before it cut to static was the reporter attempting to flee only to be tackled; blood painting the lens as he was eaten alive.

Paul turned his head to Louis, seeing his friend’s frightened face.

“What happened up in Topeka,” He began to explain, trekking to the window and lifting the shutters to show the grimly lit city; a few walking corpses limping through the roads in a horde. “I don’t think it ended there; something must’ve no doubt got out, and found its way over here.” Paul was at a loss for words; he’d seen plenty of zombie movies and played plenty of zombie games sure...but it was much more... well morbid and terrifying when it was actually real and happening outside.

“...did anything get in here? Is the school safe?”

“Yes and no; while you were asleep those of us here tried to secure this place, but we were only able to make sure all but the first floor was clear; most of the student body ran down there when it hit the fan; tried to get out of here and get to their family and friends outside the gates.”

“...where are they now?” A pained expression grew on Louis’ face, and from the back of the room Evan spoke up; respectfully saluting Paul as if he were a commanding officer.

“They’re dead sir; one of the staff had gone for help and had been bitten; from there it was a slaughterhouse down there; those of us who were in the back rushed up to the second floor and Louis and I cut off the first and second floors; thankfully the school was designed to be capable of withstanding a riot so staircases could be sealed up by two sets of steel gates; no clue how long they will last however, sir!” Paul had to ignore how...weird Evan was being, shaking his head as he rubbed his forehead.

“So we’re trapped here, like rats in a cage.” Someone spoke up, Paul glancing to the one who had spoken.

Sandy blond hair rested on his head, combed back to a neat perfection. He wore a neat grey dress coat with an ironed shirt underneath. Long black slacks much like Louis’ were a part of his attire, as well as clean white and black dress shoes. Thick glasses rested on his face, as stoic, grim eyes looked out the window. Paul... knew who he was, just didn’t ever talk to the guy; he was Mark Valentine; someone aspiring to be a lawyer. Aside from that Paul thought he was just some asshole in a pair of glasses.

“There’s no way out of this nightmare, and we may all perish here within it-“

“Yeah I’m gonna need you to shut the fuck up, okay?” Paul interjected, shaking his head. Mark did seem a bit annoyed, but he remained silent; looking out at the chaos; not wanting to provoke a further situation. He had to think for the time being on what to do, what his next move would be; it seemed that everyone was depending on him to make a choice, to listen to his words...but why?

We’re at a standstill here...if we leave this school we take a chance with those things outside; those zombies. But if we stay here we could die if the military decides to carpet bomb this place like Topeka; and eradicate it as well. I’m not sure if that’ll become an option, but until then we need a game plan...

“I have an idea! An idea so amazing and spectacular it’ll no doubt mean we’ll survive this nightmare!” Chester spoke up from his spot, Paul not even noticing him in the room; as the fat gamer hobbled out of his seat and fixed his fedora, inhaling a bit.

“If we’re dealing with zombies; then let’s put our knowledge on zombies to the test!”

...that’s it? That’s it? That’s the big plan he has for us to survive this shit?

...why the fuck is it brilliant?

“...Chester I won’t have Mongo wedgie the fuck outta you before you sit down for that.; never thought you’d have a good idea.” In response to that the big man crossed his arms and huffed.

“Well I have lottsa good ideas, especially about video games-“

“Chester; not now.” Turning his head to the others Paul cleared his throat, and spoke up on the new...topic.

“Who here’s seen a zombie movie or played a zombie game- hell read a zombie book?” Everyone’s hands shot up. “Okay so let’s be smart about this; who here wants to write on the board?”

“Ooooh! Me! Me! Pick me!” Travis was erratic in his seat, Paul sighing and motioning for him to head to the whiteboard; picking up the black marker and making a list. Before moving on he did remember something; pointing to Mongo and Evan.

“Hey can you two go seal the dorm bridge up? Not sure if it’s safe but let’ careful.”

“I refuse to work with that ruffian-“

“Bitch what the fuck did you just call me?” They jabbered back and forth; complying with what Paul asked; leaving the room. Mark spoke a second later, an irked look on his face as his dark eyes focused on Paul directly.

“And why are we taking orders from this fool. What could he possibly know?”

“Your hand didn’t go up; plus do you have a better idea? And if you say mass suicide to avoid from being turned into those things I’ll throw you out that window right now and not give a second thought about it.” Mark was silent again, as Paul turned to look at the crowd. “Now who’s got a look at those things?” From the back Mikia’s hand rose, and Paul motioned for her to say it.

“W-Well, I know they’re...slow and shuffling, a-and they get really fast when they see you.”

“Okay so they’re...well unorthodox; but we can use that.” Travis wrote down the words slow and then fast. “So what else did we notice?” They went back and forth, almost everyone piping in things they had noticed about the zombies they’re dealing with; the board eventually full with everything they were able to conclude.

“Okay so let’s go down the list,” Paul leaned in his seat, reading the board as Travis sat down as well. “Those things we’re gonna call Shufflers; they seem to move around idly if there’s nothing to kill, but if they see someone living they’ll attack; moving faster and going for bites. So with that in mind let’s just try to fight them at a distance; from what the list says biting is a good way to end up like one of those fuckers.” Everyone nodded in agreement; their discussion continuing on what not to do. The weight of the nightmarish situation, oddly, began to lift; they began to feel...almost comfortable now; Evan and Mongo eventually returning to join the discussion.

“Okay so now that we know what Shufflers are capable of has anyone actually killed one?”

“I did,” Mongo admitted, motioning to a bloody bat against the door, no doubt taken up during the chaos. “I bashed one’s brains out and it stopped moving.”

“Nice, so that makes this a lot less...well dreadful; destroy the head and the thing goes down; so we should arm ourselves with whatever we can and lock this place down.”

“Lock this place down?” Mark’s snide tone was now worrisome, but the retort to that was confident and calm.

“Mark, we make a run for it we could all die; and the odds of the military bombing Junction City too are less than likely.”

“And what makes you assume that?”

“Tried it once and it didn’t work,” Louis added on. “They bombed the hell outta Topeka and something still got over here, they might not consider that option.”

“So what’s left then? Let this get out and affect the rest of the world?”

“Quarantine chances are; so no matter what we’re trapped.”

“What about our families? Our friends?” Louis added nothing on, and soon from the back Insela finally spoke up, her tone harsh but still composed.

“If many knew about the chaos they’ve gotten out before it gets too severe; our families are probably out of Topeka by now; maybe even Kansas; if they tried to get us there’s a chance they’d be dead...this is the only way-“

“Besides we’re safe here; we just need to secure the school and raid the cafeteria; there’s probably enough food in there to last us some time if we ration it out.” Those within the room began to nod and agree; Paul looking out to all of them, and he felt that fear he originally had disappear completely.

It may be a zombie apocalypse, but instead of being hopeless and scared, they had the will to survive; maybe they’d all get out of here together when the time comes too...

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