Chapter 42: Horror High School
The vehicle roared down the highway, pushing eighty, rocking this way and that as Aliyah attempted to dodge abandoned cars, loose debris, and even the occasional wandering zombie. Every movement was made with at best inches to spare, and occasionally there would be a terrible scraping sound or a sickening thump on those occasions when she didn’t quite manage to completely dodge the object in question. The single working headlight in the pitch black dark of an empty night made the navigation exceptionally difficult.
“We can’t keep this up,” Aliyah called into the back. “How long before they give up the hunt?”
For a moment there was only silence, until Eli finally realized that all eyes were on him.
“What? You’re asking me? How the hell should I know?”
“You’re supposed to be the weird shit expert here, Eli!”
“What? Come on! There’s not specific lore on the speed and stamina of werewolves. Most werewolf stuff isn’t even very consistent. Most things agree that they’re weak to silver and that they transform with the moon. That’s about it. Some say it has to be a full moon. Some say it can be any moon. Some say it just needs to be nighttime. Some say the transformation comes at will and you just need a full moon to kick it off the first time. I don’t know. How am I supposed to know?”
“I don’t give a damn about their transformations,” snapped Aliyah. “I just want to know when will they stop hunting us?”
“Maybe they already have, maybe they never will? I don’t know. Most wolves probably would’ve given up when we started fighting back or at least when we drove away. They didn’t. So, I don’t know. Could be anything.”
Mac cleared his throat. “What about daybreak? Shouldn’t they become human again or some such during the day?”
“Yeah,” Eli said. “They should.”
“Well, I can’t keep driving like this until dawn. That’s gotta be twelve hours away still!”
“Probably more like nine,” Eli muttered.
“What if we get someplace and hide?” Jay chimed in. “Someplace safe with concrete walls and doors like… like… a bunker… or…”
“A school!” exclaimed Mac.
“Yeah, sure, a school might work.”
“No, look, a school!” Mac pointed out the window, and everyone looked out to where he was indicating. In the distance, the tree line ended, giving way to an open field. On the far side of the field sat a large, two story building that in the dark was little more than a vague shape in the distance. Even still, there could be little doubt that Mac was right.
“That might just work,” said Eli. “If we can get inside, we can use the minivan to block off our entry point. Then we just need to get to some interior room and barricade ourselves in until morning.”
“Well, unless anyone has any better ideas…” Aliyah’s voice trailed off as she hit the breaks and turned into the parking lot. She drove around the building until she found a doorway that was both small enough and recessed enough that she could block most of it off with the minivan but they would still have enough room to get out of the vehicle and into the building.
The doors at the spot they finally chose were locked, and unfortunately all their weapons had been taken from them by the survivalists. However, Amber stepped forward and brandished a tire iron.
“Where did you get that?” Eli hissed.
“From inside the car,” Amber replied simply, motioning with her head back at the vehicle. She raised the iron and prepared to strike.
“Guys, I don’t know…” started Eli, but the sound of the weapon smashing against the windowed door silenced him. He winced and clenched his teeth, waiting for a howl of a werewolf or a moan of a zombie to signal that they had garnered unwanted attention, but there was only silence.
“Just be quick,” Aliyah said. She, Gabriel, and Daina were still inside the car as there wasn’t much room in the alcove.
Despite Aliyah’s demand, and the amount of noise generated, the tire iron had done very little damage to the window. It had clearly been reinforced to prevent exactly this sort of thing.
Amber was not deterred. She rubbed her thumb across the small chip in the glass she had made and growled with determination. Raising the tire iron again she smashed it several more times into the glass, each blow creating more and more visible damage until a giant spider web crack spread across the surface.
Amber stopped for only a second to gulp down a few deep breaths, and then smashed the iron once more straight into the center of the spider web. This time the glass gave way and a small hole appeared.
Eli eyed the thickness of the glasses and shook his head. “Jesus. Reminded me never to make you angry.”
Amber smiled slyly at him while she cleared away the glass and widened the gap. “I thought I’d already taught you that lesson.”
Eli’s face went red, and he hoped that in the dim light nobody could tell.
Amber reached through the hole she had created and pushed in the crash bar. There came the faint sound of metal clicking into place and she pulled the door open.
“After you,” she said, waving her hand to beckon the others on as she beamed proudly.
Eli hurried inside and immediately felt a little sick. He had not done well in high school. Socially. It remained in his brain as one of the darkest periods of his life. The mere thought of ever returning to high school was a nightmare in and of itself, and that was before the apocalypse. Now with a world filled with literal nightmares, hunted by werewolves on a dark night with a full moon, while there was no electricity and no access to weaponry, this was pretty much the last place he wanted to be. The cold and dark wrapped in around him and he began to feel very claustrophobic.
Eli half jumped out of his skin at Jay’s unexpected outburst. He spun around and glared angrily at the young man, who just gave Eli a confused and surprised look. “What?” he asked, confused by Eli’s wrath. He pointed over Eli’s shoulder and added, “There’s still some emergency lights on.”
Eli followed to where Jay was pointing and at first saw nothing, but then after a moment realized that he was pointing at the closed door of a classroom down the hall from them. There was a long, thin window set in the door, and Eli could see the classroom beyond. There was some small light shining in the room.
“Well I’ll be damned,” said Mac. “Guess the electricity died later here than it did back home.”
“Maybe that’s where we should hole up for the night,” suggested Amber. “So that at least we don’t have to bunkHHer down in total darkness.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Aliyah.
Eli nodded his head. He knew he should argue, knew he should say that the light would leave them too exposed, but he couldn’t find the strength. He wasn’t sure he could handle the darkness in this place.
They hurried toward the door down the short hallway they were in until it joined the main hallway. Suddenly the walls around them fell away on either side and they could see up and down the length of most of the hallway. Eli was looking down to his left when he walked straight into Jay’s back.
Eli jerked back, caught off guard by the other man’s sudden stop. “Hey! What?” he started to protest, but he was cut short. Jay clamped a hand over Eli’s mouth, and then with his other hand raised a finger up to his own lips.
The rest of the group noticed the commotion and all turned to look at Jay. With all eyes on him, he turned and pointed down the hallway. They all turned and looked.
Far in the distance, in the rectangular cutout of a door, stood a single, solitary figure silhouetted from behind by another emergency light.
The figure raised its head, turning its face left and right like it was sniffing the air. Then it turned towards them, and they could tell because they could see its eyes.
It had glowing red eyes.
“What… the… hell?” said Mac, his voice barely more than a whisper.
The creature took a few quick, stumbling steps toward them, and then all of the sudden it was running.
It barreled down the entire length of the hallway at a breakneck, horrifying speed. Everyone in the group stood stock still, too shocked to move. Within moments it had covered the distance between them, and made a lunge straight for Gabriel.
It never made it.
Amber had been the first to come to her senses, and without much in the way of conscious thought she had struck the creature on the top of the head with her tire iron. The force of the block overbalanced the creature and it collapsed to the ground just shy of its target, but within an instant it was already pushing itself back up. Amber let out a cry and struck the creature again, and again it started rising almost immediately.
Something seemed to snap inside of Amber, and she started hitting the creature again, over and over, letting out a cry or a grunt with each swing. She didn’t stop even once the creature’s head was nothing more than a bloody pulpy mess on the ground. Aliyah and Eli grabbed her arms and forced her back and away.
“What the hell was that thing?” she demanded, pointing her tire iron at the now fully dead creature’s destroyed head. “Since when can they run?”
“Guys?” Jay said, and then more urgently: “Guys!”
Everyone turned to the young man, and then once again followed his gaze down the hallway to the door the creature had been standing in moments before.
Four more of the same creatures were running through the door, headed straight for them.
Amber shrugged free, and readied her weapon. “Everybody, stand your ground,” she commanded. “Don’t let them get you!”
Then they were on them – biting, tearing, scratching, growling. For a long moment, everything was a blur of motion. One of the creatures came straight for Eli, and practically tackled him to the ground. They rolled around on the floor, with Eli focusing more on just pushing the creature away than trying to take it out completely. Around him he could tell the others were in much the same position.
Amber, the only one with a weapon, had not been among the first attacked. She had swung at one of the creatures as it had passed, but it had not been a fatal blow, so it had carried on and slammed into Daina. Now the two women were trying to hold it off and get it into a position where Amber could deliver a killing swing.
Eli managed to kick his assailant off, and as he tried to rise he felt hands grabbing at him. He tried to fight them off, but a reassuring voice calmed him.
“Woah, woah, it’s just me.”
Eli looked to see that Gabriel was standing above him, attempting to help the younger man rise to his feet. Eli stopped fighting and accepted the help.
A moment later, the zombie he had kicked away came tearing back at them, but this time Eli was more ready for it. He kicked it hard in one knee, knocking the leg out from under the creature, sending it crashing to the ground. He and Gabriel then took turns stomping on the thing’s head until the skull was crushed enough to finally put an end to its movements.
Amber, meanwhile, had managed to use her tire iron to crush the skull of her zombie attacker, and her and Daina had moved on to help Jay with his. Meanwhile, Mac and Aliyah had pinned the fourth face down on the ground and were busy punching it in the back of the head while it squirmed frantically.
A moment later, the only remaining sound was the heavy breathing of all seven still living individuals.
“Worst… night… ever,” said Jay, between gasps of air.
“You have got to be kidding me,” said Aliyah.
Everyone gave her a confused look, and then turned to see what she meant.
Back in the direction that the five running zombies had come from, more of the same creatures were moving past the far side of the doorway now, as if on parade. Most were simply walking by, but several seemed to be taking notice of the group, and for everyone that turned it seemed to grab the attention of still more. After only a moment, dozens of tiny, glowing red dots stared across the gulf toward them.
“Um, guys?” said Aliyah, her voice cracking a little as she took a step backwards. “I… I think we should run.”
They all turned, ever so slowly, as though they were in far too great a state of shock to fully comprehend the direness of the situation in which they found themselves. All, that is, except for Jay, who had already turned tail and was off running.
“Jay!” Eli exclaimed, and the word seemed to snap everyone out of their stupor.
“Move!” shouted Gabriel, and this time, nobody needed any coaxing. Almost as one they burst into motion.
Behind them, the red-eyed zombies had also burst into motion, and were headed full tilt for the still living.