“Please, let me in!” my fingers were slick as I pounded feverishly against the door. A dull moaning resounded in the other corridors, brought only by the horde of decaying flesh tinted in grays and jaundiced yellows that I knew were coming for me. I peered through the blood-streaked window of the classroom, before being confronted by one of the faces of the undead.
I fell back with a cry, struggling to scramble to my feet as the groans grew louder. “Get up!” I told myself, flying towards the next door. What greeted me was a huddled group I recognised as the grade below me, motioning that I move away. “Please let me in!”
The teacher stoically bolted the locks on the door and closed the lights, leaving me to stand against the famished horde alone. The ragged band of twisting torsos reached desperately towards me, teeth bared. Even with my weakened knees I bolted for the exit, my vision condensed into a surreal blur obscured by tears and sweat.
Seven blocks later, I slammed the door to my house with a shuddered sigh. I hadn’t lost them, the cold, grey cadavers caught up with me by sheer determination and a remaining sense of direction. I knew exactly where the gun was and wasted no time to get it. Crouching behind the sofa with my heart barreling against my chest, one thought came with perfect clarity.
“Why not end it all?” The steel of the gun felt comfortingly cool against my temple as if it was in agreement. “No one will help me, and I’m a hopeless case. No one will notice I’m gone.” There was only one choice to be made. Every decision run aground, every failed expectation, I already knew. “So why is it so hard for you to pull the trigger? Are you that pathetic?” the inner voice taunted. “It’s now or never.”
A dull, orange light flooded the room as the door burst open and I sprang up from the couch, hearing a brusque voice. “What’s wrong with you?”
The figure loomed impossibly large, his eyebrows knitted together in a grimace. “How could you quit your job like that? You really are a no-good, useless loser!”
My mother stomped into the room, emptying the contents of a box onto my bed. “Your girlfriend dropped this off, she said she needed to make room for her new beau. Honestly, I think she made the better decision. I mean look at you, can’t even hold down a relationship if your life depended on it!”
I closed my eyes as the undead horde swarmed into the house. A hot wrath blazed within me against thieves like these who blithely robbed their victims of things more valuable than what they took away. With a loud cry, I emptied my gun on the intruders. It chilled me that none of the bullets failed but the targets were untouched. Feeling for the handle of the baseball bat, I grasped it firmly and swung with full fury at the first corpse who launched himself at me. I hit it squarely at the neck and the severed head splattered on the wall into a maggoty clump of bone and flesh. I found new strength with this discovery. I wielded that bat like an axe, hacking head and limbs from my attackers as I inched my way to the door. My eyes flew open.
“Are you even listening?” my dad demanded.
“Dad, Mum, I’m moving out,” I announced, resolve straightening my voice. Incredulity struck their faces as I continued, “That’s right, I’m moving out of this deadbeat town and I’m going to the city to be an actor. Face it Dad, I’ll never be a surgeon like you! And Mum, my ex is a lying tramp, I’m glad she left. You’ve all just been holding me back, but not this time.”
“You’re talking like an idiot,” my dad pointed brusquely at me. “Leave this room and you’ll never be allowed back, y’hear?”
The walls and floors filled with the crimson, stale blood of the corpses I dismantled, paving the way towards the exit. “Come on!” With a great shout, I held the bat horizontally with both hands and charged straight for the door, cutting everything I drove through in half.
“Come back!” my mother’s voice seemed so distant behind me. Finally outside, I found an unlocked car with keys still in the ignition, floored the accelerator and drove headlong into the darkness. The future is uncertain in this deserted town and I’m not sure if I’ll meet others like me, but for now, I survived.
The person to whom I dedicate this piece deserved to read this a long time ago. To my dear classmate, had I recognised the signs and written this much earlier we would be enjoying our senior year together, still with a bright future ahead. For those enduring in silence, there is someone near who is willing to listen. That someone need not be a brother. Maybe a phone call to a perfect stranger is all it takes to encourage you to reach out, and find the strength that had all along been inside you.