July 2013


Chapter 1

Tristan lay awake in the upstairs area of his school cafeteria thinking about his father.  They had often joked about the zombie apocalypse, and what they would do if it ever happened.  “If it ever happens, the first thing I’m going to do is come find you.” Tristan remembered his father’s words as he drifted off to sleep.
His dreams were plagued with the walking dead that had suddenly and violently destroyed his world.  It had been a regular school day, and he was on his lunch recess when everything suddenly changed.  Nobody was paying attention to the man who was shambling down the halls.  He moved like he had been drinking heavily, and smelled awful. 
Tristan was playing on the monkey bars with his friend Tony.  The sun was bright, and a slight breeze blew an awful smell across the yard. “Ugh!!! Tony, did you fart?” Tristan asked with a disgusted look on his face.
“I didn’t fart. He who smelt it dealt it Tris.” He responded with a laugh.
“It wasn’t me!” said Tristan as he started looking around the yard.  That was when he saw the man lurching down the hallway.  “Hey, who’s that guy over there?  He looks like my Grandpa when he’s been drinking.”  They had been told what to do if they ever saw anything strange going on, and Tristan started walking up to the yard duty teacher.  “Ms. Sarah, there’s a guy over by the bathroom that doesn’t look like he should be here.” He said as he walked up to her.
Ms. Sarah turned to spot the man Tristan was describing.  A creepy stranger on campus didn’t always mean bad things, but it was better to be safe than sorry.  “Thank you Tris,” she said with a nervous smile, “Stay here and I’ll go figure out what he’s doing here.”
Tristan and Tony watched her approach the man while remaining behind on the playground.  “I have a bad feeling about this guy.”  Tristan said to Tony without ever taking his eyes off of Ms. Sarah and the man. 
“What do you mean bad feeling?  He just looks like some weird guy, who she is going to tell to leave.  Then he’ll go away.  Let’s get back to the monkey bars.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.  Let’s go” Tristan agreed, and they started walking back.  Suddenly screams filled the air and Tristan spun around to see Ms. Sarah in the grasp of the strange man.  He had his hands around her torso, and if it weren’t for the blood dripping down her neck it might have looked like they were making out like teenagers. 
“Tony!!” Tristan yelled, “We need to go get Val, and get out of here! I don’t know what’s going on, but I told you I had a bad feeling.”
“But shouldn’t we wait for our teachers to settle this down?” Tony asked, obviously shaken by what they had just seen. “I mean look… the rest of the yard duty teachers have got the man pinned down.  He’s not going anywhere.”
Tristan looked and saw the man pinned to the ground by four other teachers.  Ms. Sarah wasn’t screaming so loud anymore, and the rest of the kids were either huddled together on the playground, or trying to get closer and see exactly what was happening. “No.  We’re going to go get Val, and get somewhere safe.  I’ve seen way too many zombie movies to say this doesn’t seem like the start of one.  If everything is ok, then we’ll have a good laugh after this… if not… you’ll thank me.”
He didn’t wait to see if Tony was coming with him as he took off running for Val’s classroom.  Val was two years older than Tristan and was still in class.  The younger kids got to have their lunch first, followed by the fourth and fifth graders.
The path to the classroom was taking them right by the wounded Ms. Sarah, and the pile of teachers on the strange man.  As they ran by, Tristan glanced at the man.  His eyes were milky white, and his skin was very pale, except for the blood that had been smeared on his face.  The only other thing Tristan noticed as he ran by was a flap of Ms. Sarah’s skin hanging from the man’s mouth as he continued to try and bite the other teachers.
As he approached the classroom he saw the door was shut.  With all the school shootings and things that had happened in the past years, he knew the door would be locked as well.  Hearing the screams and seeing the blood would have sent the teachers that were in the classes into lockdown mode.  He arrived at the door and immediately started banging on it. “Let me in! Let me in! Please!” Tristan screamed.  He could see the teacher running to unlock the door as Tony slammed into him from behind sending him sprawling to the concrete.  Tristan’s face hit the ground hard, making him see stars.  He could taste blood as he stood up to get into the open door and get it locked again.  Before he could turn back toward the classroom, he saw about 15 more shambling people coming onto the school grounds from the street.  “This is it.” He thought, “Dad and I always joked about this happening.  Now it is.”  Finishing his thought he dashed into the classroom and the teacher slammed the door and locked it.
“What’s going on out there?”  Asked the teacher. She had the phone in her hand, presumably with the police on the other end.
“Some crazy guy bit Ms. Sarah in the neck, and now the other teachers have him pinned down.  It looked pretty bad.”  Stammered Tony, obviously on the verge of tears. 
“Oh no. We’re on lockdown now, so I need you boys to please get under the desks and don’t come out until I tell you its ok.” She said as she went back to relaying the newfound information into the phone.  Police sirens could be heard in the distance as Tristan and Tony made their way over to where Val sat under a desk.
Tristan knew better than to tell an adult about the zombies.  They would never believe him.  But his friends were a different story, “We have to get to a safe place.  I know it sounds crazy, but that guy who bit Ms. Sarah is a zombie.”
“You’re crazy Tris!  Zombies don’t exist.  We need to stay here under our desks until it’s safe to come out.  You can hear the police are already on their way here.” He responded.
“Val, listen to Tris!” Tony interjected, “He knew something was up before the guy even bit her.  Plus remember how he is always going on about all the zombie movies his dad and him watch?  If anyone knows about zombies, it’s him. Besides, if he’s wrong, we’ll still be in a safe place.”
Val thought about it for a moment and said, “Ok.  I don’t think they’re zombies, but you are right about the fact that we’ll be safe if we get somewhere else.  What do you have in mind Tris?”
“I’m not sure.  My dad and I always made plans for places to go if something like this happened.  But I always thought it was just a joke.  I didn’t actually expect to have to figure something like this out.  If only he were here.  He’d know what to do.”  Tristan looked at the ground as he spoke.  He was worried about his friends, his father, and his mom.  But for the moment, he had to push those thoughts out of his head and get somewhere safe.  “I got it!” he half shouted, “Remember when we did that play a couple months ago?  In the cafeteria, there’s a ladder in the back.  I don’t know where it goes, other than up to the second floor, but I do know that it’s the only way up there… and zombies don’t climb.”
More screams came from outside.  They glanced out the window to see the shamblers that Tristan saw while pulling himself up from the ground a few minutes ago.  They were walking down the hallways, and the kids could see there was definitely something wrong with them.  Everyone was in a complete panic.  They were running around and trying to find somewhere to hide.  Tris saw Jessica Parker from the third grade hide in the bushes next to the office.  Unfortunately for her, one of the zombies saw her as well.  As it approached the bush, she reached out to push it away.  It grabbed her by the arm and sank its teeth into her, leaving her screaming in agony as it started chewing.
On the other side of the room, the teacher was still on the phone, looking out of the window in the door, describing the scene to the police.
“Now’s our chance guys” Tris whispered, “We gotta get out the back door while the teacher is distracted.  Just remember… stick together and don’t get near those things.  We can out run them easy. Ready?”  The boys nodded in agreement and Tristan opened the door.
It was a short distance to the cafeteria, and they didn’t see anyone on this side of the school as they ran down the hallway.  The shamblers had moved towards the playground that was filled with plenty of food for them. Tony tripped over an exposed tree root while coming around the corner and hit the ground hard.  He screamed as he tried to get back up, “Wait for me guys! Don’t leave me!”
Tristan and Val ran to help him up.  He was back on his feet and moving again.  They raced around the corner to find the cafeteria doors ajar, and no one inside. “Well, at least we have some good luck.” Said Val nervously.
Tristan spoke quickly and deliberately to his friends, “Before we get up there, grab a backpack off the table, and put some food in it.  We don’t know how long we’ll be here.”
“No problem Tris.  That’s a good idea.” Answered Tony, and they grabbed backpacks.  Tristan shut the door, but this door required a key to lock it.  So they would just have to hope nothing found its way in here. The shelves in the back of the kitchen held juices, crackers, cookies, and cans of food.  They each grabbed some, threw it in the backpacks, and started up the ladder.
Tristan told his friends to go up first as he took one last glance around the room.  “Almost safe” he said to himself as he started climbing the ladder.  Just as he reached the seventh rung he heard a groaning sound.  A hand reached up from underneath him and barely grazed the bottom of his shoe.  He almost lost his grip from the scare, but continued climbing, not looking back.  Looking up he could see the pale faces of Tony and Val looking down with fear. “I’m okay guys, it didn’t get me.” He said as he climbed up the ladder through the trap door at the top.
“It’s not that Tris.” Stuttered Val “I just can’t believe what I just saw.  Look for yourself.”  He said, pointing toward the trap door.
Tristan moved his head over the edge, and saw it standing at the bottom of the ladder, peering up at them with hungry eyes.  He was looking right into the eyes of Ms. Sarah.

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It’s been a long time coming,
and I’m finally home.
Walking in the door,
with a brand new poem.
I don’t see all the old faces,
and you moved my comfy chair.
I’m still alive and standing tall,
who is that over there?
I’m a little older,
and wiser too I hope.
I had to leave and live my life,
and grow some too I hope.
Hey ROTH it’s good to see you,
and Madameblue my friend.
One of you I left hanging,
the other’s by my side til the end.
I’m sorry that I had to leave;
I just disappeared from home.
I had to go and find my way,
or forever I would roam.
I’ve seen a lot of things,
and I’ve missed y’all every day.
I still can’t promise I’ll stay around,
but I think you’ll be okay.
I came here with little hope,
of continuing my life.
But what I found was some great friends,
who saw strength in my life.
I’ve been through hell and back again,
with P.C. by my side.
Can’t tell you how many nights,
I sat alone and cried.
I’ve got more baggage and scars as well,
mostly from myself.
But all of that I set aside,
to see upon a shelf.
My job it sucks,
my life’s a mess.
I feel like this is a dream,
I’m living while undressed.
My words have been lost,
I need inspiration.
Follow me in this life,
don’t allow me hesitation.
I’ve got dreams,
like all of you.
As I sit alone,
and drink by brew.
I’m not a machine,
I’m a mortal man.
I hope my writing,
isn’t too bland.
So here I am,
please forgive my trespasses.
Because if you don’t,
I’ll whoop all of your asses.

image

The room is dimly lit.
Coming down from another acid trip.
Parents in the room next to mine,
they have no clue.
This is the time to dream.
Happy thoughts filling my head,
of wonderful things to come.
I’m gonna be somebody,
I’m gonna do something.
Walking by that same house,
almost 20 years later,
I wonder…
Is someone in there dreaming?
Fantasies of a great future,
many friends, great job.
We go through this life,
with big plans.
But sometimes friends get lost,
Sometimes…
Dreams die.