Parting Gift

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Never free


I watched as Ms. Steele – Marissa – fought off the attack with the two soldiers. I don’t think it’s an image I’ll ever be able to forget. Gunshots rang through the air, and it was a wonder I didn’t go deaf from the sound. Somewhere behind us, a strange drumming got louder, and the wind grew stronger.

“Amber, grab Andy and GO!” Amber did as Marissa ordered and grabbed me by the wrist, pulling me to the helicopter. My hands reached out to Marissa, my grip slipping from the hem of her blouse.

“No! No! Marissa! Wait!” I struggled against the older girl, but I wasn’t a match for her. My throat tightened with every word, and I could feel my tears begin to roll down my cheeks. The zombies were closing in, as Marissa and the soldiers backed up towards the helicopter. One of the soldiers made it onto the helicopter with Amber and me, while Marissa and Thomas still held off the attack. At one point, they both turned to run, but Marissa couldn’t keep up with Thomas. He turned to go back for her, just as she fell to her knees, tripping on a piece of debris. There were still at least ten zombies surrounding them.

Gunshots rang out behind me, and when I turned there was another large group of zombies on the other side of the helicopter. The soldier on the helicopter with us shot at them, shouting at the pilot at the same time.

“We have to get out of here. Now! We can’t wait for them.” Frantically, I looked over at Marissa and Thomas. She was on the ground, clutching her leg as blood pooled around her. Had she been cut on something? Through the chaos, we made eye contact, and she smiled. Despite her pain, she still tried to reassure me.

“Go.” Thomas’ voice came through the radio loud and clear. “If you wait any longer we’re all dead.” At his words I tried to throw myself off the helicopter and run to Marissa, but Amber held me back as the pilot lifted us away. Behind me, the older girl cried. Through it all, Marissa maintained the same smile she'd first given me, and the last one she ever would.

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