“You didn’t tell your sister about us,” Grace said.
“Should I have?” I asked as I stuffed my phone back into my pocket. “I thought you wanted to keep our relationship a secret from our families. I’m fine calling back right now to tell them.” I started to pull my phone back out of my pocket, but she reached out to stop me. Her warm hand settled around the sleeve of my forearm.
“They’ve got more important things to worry about,” Grace said, “like staying alive. We’ll tell them when we see them.”
“Okay,” I said. I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her close. She smiled and tiptoed to give me a gentle kiss on the mouth.
“We better get going,” she said and pulled away. “We can’t stay here.”
I groaned, but dropped my arms. I looked around my small dorm room. My roommate hadn’t come back from the Halloween party. He might not ever come back now. We had been down in the communal area watching the news when everything started to go wrong.
My dorm neighbor had collapsed to the ground the same time the news anchor had and when he got back up, he had attacked me just as the news anchor had attacked the other one. With Grace’s help, we had managed to get away and shut ourselves in my dorm room. “What do we take with us?” I asked. I reached out and grabbed the one baseball bat I had brought with me. I wasn’t leaving that behind.
“I wish I had brought my bow and arrows from home,” Grace said longingly.
“Do you want to stop at the archery club and take some?” I asked her.
She nodded eagerly.
There was a loud scream down the hallway and then someone ran passed my closed dorm door. Grace and I froze as we looked at each other and waited. Someone else ran passed, but this time there was otherworldly moaning along with it. They too passed by as Grace and I waited in silence. Goosebumps formed on my arms beneath the sleeves of my shirt.
When it was quiet again, I grabbed one of my hoodies and put it over Grace’s head. She put her arm through the sleeves. I tightened the strings so the hood fit snug over her head. Strands of her black and teal hair stuck out of the hood in uneven tendrils. Her brown eyes blinked up at me. Her pale, oval face just looked so beautiful that I had to lean in and kiss her again.
“Okay,” she said softly against my lips. “We can’t stay here. We’ve got to get moving.”
“Yes,” I said and let her pull away. I put on a different hoody and tightened the hood around my head as well. It probably wouldn’t do much in the way of protection from bites, but maybe it would.
“Do you need to stop at your dorm for anything?” I asked her.
“I probably should,” she said, “if only to check and make sure Camila is all right.”
“You’ve got your car keys?” I asked her.
She grabbed her large, black purse off my bed, pulled out her keys and jingled them lightly.
“Let’s go,” I said. I leaned the baseball bat up against the wall by the door. I put my ear to the wood of the door and listened. I didn’t hear anything. I was about to turn the nob, but Grace stopped me.
“Are we going to help people or offer them a ride to come with us?” she asked. “I think we better decide that now ahead of time.”
I was all for helping people in normal circumstances, but I didn’t want to take the chance of Grace getting hurt or worse, turn into one of them. I didn’t want that for me either.
“If we can help them without risking ourselves, then yes,” I said. “But you and I have to get back to our families no matter what.”
She nodded and took my left hand in her right one. I put my ear to the door and listened again. All was quiet. I slowly opened it and peeked out down the hall. There was a trail of blood that dotted the wood floor all the way to the end of the hall on the left. There was a bloody handprint on the dorm room door to the immediate right of us. The hall was empty. I grabbed the baseball bat with my free hand and pulled Grace with me as I started quietly down the hall to the right.
We reached the top of the stairs. I took a step down when I heard hard, running footsteps from below and then on the stairs. I took a step back with Grace pressed up behind me. I let go of her hand and readied my bat. My roommate, Connor, ran up the stairs. His face was pale making the freckles stand out even more. His red hair was disheveled. He was panting hard and fear was clearly painted on his face. He looked at me and my bat without missing a step and continued up the stairs as fast as he could. He had gone to the Halloween party as a vampire, but both his cape and fake teeth were now gone.
Close behind him was Angel. His visage was twisted into a fearsome snarl. Blood covered his shirt, mouth, hands and arms.
A moan came from the hallway. I took a quick glance. Jordan was barreling towards us down the hall much as Angel was on the stairs. Blood dripped from his right arm and right leg. It looked like he had been bitten multiple times. We were trapped between them.
Connor reached us at the top of the stairs. He saw Jordan and froze. Grace didn’t. She grumbled and pulled out a screwdriver from her purse. I didn’t know why she had a screwdriver in her purse. I didn’t even know it was in there. I didn’t make it a habit of going through my girlfriend’s purse.
“Hold this,” Grace said calmly as she handed Connor her purse and readied the screwdriver. Man, I loved her.
Before Angel could get too close with his strange moaning and claw-like fingers, I stepped down a few steps and brought my bat down hard on top of his head. He crumbled to his knees, but reached out and grabbed my pants leg.
I heard scuffling behind me, the moaning and the sounds of Grace’s purse as it hit something over and over again. And then the moaning behind me stopped and something hard fell to the ground. I couldn’t spare a glance though as Angel brought his bloody, wide mouth towards my leg. I bashed his head again. His movement paused for only a moment before his mouth continued its progress towards my leg. I closed my eyes and brought the bat down as hard as I could. I felt the moment when the hard skull gave way, as the bone shattered and the bat went into the soft brain.
I slowly opened my eyes and looked down at the bloody, mushy head. Angel wouldn’t be getting back up now. I cringed as I wiped the red liquid dripping down my bat on the back of Angel’s shirt. I didn’t want to have to get used to this.
“Let’s go,” Grace said as she passed me on the stairs with her now bloody screwdriver. I looked back at the top of the stairs to see Jordan’s body crumbled to the floor with a bloody hole in his temple. Connor stood over the body with Grace’s purse in his hands. I could just imagine him hitting Jordan with the purse over and over again while Grace stabbed Jordan in the temple with her screwdriver.
Connor’s gaze was uncertain, but hopeful as he looked down at me. I gave him a nod that he should come with us. He didn’t hesitate as he started down the stairs.
“Wait,” someone called from further down the hall. I couldn’t see who, but I recognized the accidented voice.
Todd – not his real name, but the name he used so the rest of us could pronounce it – came to the top of the stairs. His real name was Lin, Yi Two.
“Take me with you,” he said. He paused, looked down at Jordan’s body and kicked him.
“Come on then,” Grace said quietly further down the stairs.
The four of us made our way quietly through the dorms, practically tiptoeing as we went. Grace took her purse back from Connor, but left her screwdriver out and ready.
There were more moans from further upstairs, but downstairs was quiet. We made a quick stop to the kitchen to grab large carving knives so that Todd and Connor could have a weapon. We all froze when we heard moaning near the kitchen window. We all dropped low and waited.
That was when Todd’s phone rang.
The moaning outside the window got louder and more intense. So did the moans upstairs. There was shuffling upstairs, but nothing on the stairs or downstairs.
Todd fumbled with his phone as he desperately took it out of his pocket. He answered the call, but didn’t speak as he put the phone up to his ear. We all held our breaths as fingers scratched against the window. There was a scream from somewhere further down the street, then there was running outside the window and the moaning grew distant.
Todd began to speak rapidly in Chinese over the phone in hushed tones. He ended the call quickly. We all stared at him. “My family,” he said. “Wanting to make sure I was okay. It’s happening in Taiwan too. It’s happening everywhere.” Which only confirmed what I thought.
“What time is it in Taiwan?” Connor asked him.
Todd looked at the time on his phone. “It would be almost 7 a.m.”
“Come on,” Grace said. She led the way to the front doors and we all paused and listened. There were screams and moans, but they weren’t close. Grace and I exchanged a quick glance and then she threw open the door and ran as fast as she could to her car. The three of us ran after her. The street that housed the dorms was in complete chaos. People ran in every direction, some from fright, some with those eerie moans coming from their lips. In the middle of the street, someone got tackled by one of the moaning creatures – couldn’t really call them people anymore. Blood spread out over the person’s shirt as the – fine. I decided to call them what they were. – as the zombie bit into the back tearing the green shirt and the flesh underneath it over and over again until the person stopped moving.
The four of us scrambled into her car. Grace dropped her purse by my feet on the passenger side and put the screwdriver next to her on her seat. She started the car up and put the gear into drive just as the zombie stopped biting the lifeless person. The zombie noticed a young woman climbing a tree and went after her. The person he had just attacked in the road was no longer lifeless. He spasmed and rose to his feet completely disregarding the large gashes in his back. He looked around, saw us in the car and ran straight for us.
Grace didn’t hesitate as she accelerated. She hit him squarely and he went flying up into the air completely over her car. That was going to leave a dent. I turned to look at the rear window. Todd looked too, but Connor’s eyes stayed fixed ahead. The zombie we just hit tumbled along the road with several more cuts and abrasions, but he didn’t hesitate as he stood and chased after us. He got quickly distracted as there was another scream somewhere behind us. He took off in the direction of the scream.
Grace careened onto the grass right in front of her dormitory before slamming on her brakes.
“Go get Camila,” she instructed me. “I’ll keep the car running.”