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Denise backed into the furthest point of the closet, trying in vain to get away from the frightening moans and desperate clawing and scratching at the wooden door separating her from dozens of cannibalistic students waiting to rip her to shreds. She could barely see anything in the dimly lit space and fumbled around trying to find anything she could use as a weapon to save herself or block off the door, for she feared her bat would have limited usefulness. The room looked like one of the janitor’s closets that the school stored cleaning supplies and other things needed to maintain the building. There were large shelves that reached up to the ceiling all filled with cleaners, bleach, rags, light bulbs, and other items but in her time of need, Denise highly doubted that Clorox would be able to get her out of this mess. Finding nothing of use, the teenager slumped to the cold ground slowly and put her face in her hands as an overwhelming sense of hopelessness took over her thoughts

. Her day had started out so ordinary and mundane, just another harmless skip day. She regretted wishing for something more exciting because the irony of her wish haunted not only her, but all of the dead and infected she had come across. Her neighbors, the zombie she had been forced to kill, her own best friend, and though she hated to think about it, her parents could very well be part of the deceased. As she contemplated everything that had happened to her in the last hour, tears began to fill in her eyes, bringing along that annoying stinging feeling that she hated and associated with her own weakness. There was a loud crash that came from one of the zombies outside as it apparently rammed its body into the barrier separating it from its prey, leaving a small crack in the door.

The tears that were filling her eyes to the brim suddenly came cascading down her cheeks as she cried out in surprise and fear. The zombie threw itself against the door again, this time creating a small hole big enough for it to stick its gnarly and distorted face through. She recognized the student as a guy that she used to have a slight crush on, often flirting with him in between classes, though it never developed into anything more serious. All of a sudden that attraction was now gone, what with the skin and muscle on half of his face being torn off, revealing a fair amount of bone. He tried to force his mouth through the hole he created, snapping his jaws at her viciously. Denise screamed again and began to panic, once again searching for something to defend herself with. In her frantic search, something managed to catch her attention out the corner of her eye. As her eyes shifted to focus on her finding, she felt a sense of relief and hope. At the top of the closet was an air vent so narrow, that for a moment she wondered if she’d even be able to fit in. There was a sound of wood splintering and breaking in half and Denise realized she didn’t have time to contemplate whether or not the vent would work, it just had to.

She began scaling the shelves of the broom closet in an attempt to reach the vent. What should have been a quick and easy task proved to be slightly more difficult due to her refusal to leave behind the only weapon she had. After what to Denise felt like hours, she finally made it to the top of one of the shelves. She paused for a moment so she could steady her weight to avoid tipping over the shelf and come crashing back down to the floor. Once she felt confident in her balance, she began prying at the metal grate covering the ventilation shaft. The grate proved to be more troublesome than it looked, refusing to yield to the young girl’s desperate efforts. Against her better judgment, Denise looked down and found herself staring at a zombie that had managed to slip its grotesque body through the hole in the door. The undead’s face looked upward and the two made eye contact. The thing, since it could no longer be considered a person, stared up at her with its white and cloudy eyes, void of emotion except for its dangerous primal instinct.

Denise whipped back around and started shoving the handle of the bat into the grate, grunting with every thrust.  The grate started to become dented, but otherwise refused to budge from its position. Rather than stop, she just put more force into her hits, now screaming with anger and panic as she hit the grate. Her arms began to tire from the repeated thrusts and her biceps felt like liquid fire was coursing through her veins.  The end of the bat’s handle was now chipping away as parts of the wood flew off violently. Denise jammed the bat into the grate once more and squealed with delight as it finally caved in and broke off its hinges. She quickly began clambering into the metal shaft but was stopped by a deathly cold hand wrapping itself around her ankle. In an instant she felt herself being dragged out of the vent. She knew that soon the hand would be accompanied by a pair of teeth sinking into her leg and making her some zombie’s dinner. Denise gripped her bat tightly and began swinging aimlessly, lacking the resolve to efficiently fight against her threat. To her luck she felt a sickening crack as the bat connected to the zombie. With a slight struggle, she managed to shake off the hand and crawl all the way into the vent.

As the sounds of the moans and cries of her assailants became more distant, the only noise that could be heard was the metallic ringing sound of her and her bat clanging against the inside of the vent. As she made her way down the narrow path she came to stop over another vent and peered down to see where she was. She immediately recognized the area as one of the main corridors students used to get in between classes. Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the massacre that occurred at the school, the hallway was now crowded with the infected, all moving around aimlessly. She began to move again but stopped cold when she noticed one of the zombies look up at her, or rather in her direction. Denise cursed herself silently as she realized that the sound she was making was what drew attention to her. Making a mental note, she began to shuffle much more slowly, attempting to quiet the sounds of her movement. It seemed to be sufficient enough, as none of the zombies under her seemed to follow after her or try to reach into the vent.

After a few twists and turns, Denise managed to find a sector of the school that appeared to be largely cleared out. She used her feet to kick at the nearest grate and jumped out of the shaft and onto the tiled floor of the classroom below. The drop sent a sharp pain down her leg but she managed to shake it off as she got up and viewed her surroundings. The classroom was abandoned, with papers and school supplies scattered all over the floor and desks and chairs over turned. The classroom seemed to be evacuated before the threat could reach them, though she doubted many of the students fared better once they left the room. She started walking toward the door when she heard something move behind her. Fear taking over, the high schooler quickly turned around, bat raised, steeling herself for what was going to happen next. However, there was nothing behind her, save a wooden cabinet in the corner of the room. Denise slowly crept over to the cabinet, her grip tightening on the handle of the bat until her knuckles were white.

Once she was only inches away, she used her free hand to grab the knob on the cabinet and yank the door open, readying herself to swing at whatever was inside. Her attack was deterred by a blood curdling scream, one that was not her own. Looking back at Denise inside of the cabinet was a school girl, only a year older than her, with bright blue eyes and fiery red locks of curly hair that draped over her back. Although the girl was kneeling down in the cabinet and her face was covered in tears and ruined make up, Denise could clearly recognize her classmate, and what she considered her rival, Ferrah Daniels.

Though Ferrah stood at a nice 5’10” and could tower over Denise on any day, she seemed small and young in her current state of cowering. Ferrah had served as her worst enemy throughout her school career, always the popular one, always the attractive one, always succeeding and what Denise couldn’t. They hated each other and for good reason. For a moment a twisted idea came to Denise’s head; what if she just bashed this girl’s head in anyway? No one would notice and she’d finally have revenge for all the years of crap. The idea vanished as quickly as it came. Denise knew she was no killer and as much as she despised the girl staring up at her with teary eyes, she didn’t deserve to die.

“Are you alright? Have you been bitten or hurt at all?” As Denise asked the question, she realized that there might be a chance that this girl would just be a walking time bomb until she became one of the infected. Ferrah shook her head, her hair flowing back and forth in sync with her movements. For a moment it looked as if she were about to speak, but before long the red head was back to her hysteric crying.  Denise knelt down beside her and urged her to stop crying before she attracted more of the monsters and got them both killed. After a few moments Ferrah seemed to regain her bearing and calm down, though her eyes were still red and puffy.

She began to explain to Denise what happened to her while she was in the school everything from the initial outbreak to how she ended up hiding in the cabinet, including how her mom got turned right in front of her and then proceeded to chase after her. Denise just looked at her as she started sobbing silently. She couldn’t imagine how traumatizing that event must’ve been for her, especially to make her confide in someone she couldn’t stand. Though she doubted it would last for long, and she wasn’t even sure she wanted it to, Denise found this new behavior a refreshing change of scenery.

“Look, Ferrah, I know you’ve been through a lot but we have to get out of here. If we don’t then your mother’s death will have gone in vain and we’re going to eaten alive by those freaks out here. I know we don’t have the best history, but we have to be able to deal with each other if either of us is going to have any chance of surviving.”

“Fine, but this doesn’t mean anything. Once we’re safe you’re on your own, got it?” Ferrah said, trying to sound tough, though her voice was still squeaky and weak.

“Whatever you say, Ferrah,” Denise said, rolling her eyes. They both slowly crept out the classroom, looking both ways before venturing out into the hallway. They crept through the corridor, staying close to the walls and making little to no noise. The lockers in the hall were splattered with blood and every so often they would come across a body so completely decimated that it never even got the chance to reanimate. Denise had to pause several times to stop from vomiting from the horror of it all.

“Denise, I think the old boy’s gym is coming up soon. There’s an emergency exit that leads right outside of school grounds. I think it’ll be the quickest way out.” Denise nodded her head to show that she acknowledged the comment but otherwise remained silent. The two slipped into the gym and closed the door behind them, barricading it with old tables that were randomly thrown in once the gym was closed to the students. They ran for the exit door and pushed on it with all their might. The moment they applied pressure a loud siren started ringing, giving away their position to everyone and everything in the school. They continued to hold the door until the latch released but by then they could already hear banging coming from the other side of the gym. As the door swung open the two girls were greeted by several living infected who wasted no time in sprinting toward them. Ferrah ran, screaming, and Denise managed to smack one of the ones who got to close with a bat, before following after the older girl.  As they headed for one of the gates left open a small horde of undead started limping their way over to them. Denise and Ferrah stopped in their tracks and turned around, only to be greeted with a group of infected students that had been following them out of the gym.

Denise grabbed Ferrah’s hand and ran toward one of the ways leading out of the school grounds. The zombies moans behind them were interrupted by human screams coming not too far from their current location. Denise looked over to see a group of students running outside, apparently having the same idea as them. They however didn’t fare well as they were cornered by the zombies and fighting them off rather inefficiently with broom sticks and yard sticks. As much as it pained her to see them murdered, she knew she had to use the distraction wisely. She ran past the group of zombies busy preying on the other group of students and ran out the gate, the rest of the zombies following behind them too busy paying attention to easier prey to continue giving chase.

Neither Ferrah nor Denise stopped running until they were a safe distance away from the nightmare that was once their high school. As they both looked around it seemed that for the first time since this outbreak started, they were relatively safe. Taking deep gasps to recover their breaths, the couple walked down one of the streets, moving past the carnage that was littered around them as they pondered what to do next.

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