I hid in the boiler room when the panic started. I would sleep a little, and wake up whenever someone tried opening the door. I'd hold it shut until they gave up, and I would go back to sleep, and it would start again. I would occasionally leave to take a piss but I don't know how long I was in there. I only left because I really wanted some food.
The other half of the school was gone, cut cleanly as if a giant kitchen knife had chopped it off. With it went half the girls' locker room, one of the science labs, the back wall of the gym, most of the sophomores and seniors, and a sizable chunk of the library. I only noticed because I checked the library for anyone I knew, and a lot of it had just gone. It was empty save for one of the library assistants, curled up next to a bookshelf. I left.
Passing through the senior hall on the way to the cafeteria was the longest run I'd ever taken. It didn't start as a run, just a quick walk. I stopped when I heard screaming coming from one of the classrooms. I peeked inside—it one of the senior English classes, and Miss Ladia was trying to control them. I watched a group of seniors advance on her as one mass, and I watched them violate her, I watched as they took turns and I watched redness pool around them all. They noticed me next.
I ran, I heard them behind me, and I swear I ran for hours, tearing through air as thick as water, filled with their jeers and grasps at my arms, only wrenched out of their grip by the grace of adrenaline. Every time I blinked the cafeteria door seemed farther away and the mob nipping at my back seemed closer, and I screamed at them, "no, no"; they didn't understand me, they were no longer human. I crashed through the door and slammed it shut. I was hardly a match for one senior, let alone two or three or ten, they forced the door open and knocked me to the floor. Indistinct faces filled my vision until something snagged my wrist.
"Come on," said my captor, practically dragging me into the kitchen. I screamed at him too before realizing who it was.
When I'd caught my breath, I looked over the place. I recognized the cafeteria workers, all lying on the ground with great red wounds in their stomachs, and I recognized Cyrus, locking the door.
"What's going on?" I said, my gaze fixed on the kitchen workers. "Did you…did you do that?"
He sat down on the floor, massaging his forehead. "No. I just took the keys —" he nodded in the direction of the door, indicating the mob, " —before they could. They'd try to take the food."
"Food," I murmured. "Is there any left?"
"Yeah, take what you want…"
I stepped over the kitchen workers towards the big industrial fridge. There wasn't much variety in school food, and I suspect it will be that way until the end of humanity, but I was so thirsty I'd take anything drinkable I could get.
"So," said Cyrus, raising his voice a bit over the ruckus in the cafeteria, "where were you hiding? It's been almost three days since I last saw you."
"The boiler room," I said after settling down with a carton of chocolate milk, one of those packaged burritos, and a cookie. "It's really cramped and kind of musty but no one ever looked in there…"
We were silent for a while. Cyrus looked absolutely exhausted, like he'd been up all night guarding our only food. He had a switchblade in one hand and a couple keys in the other.
"Where are all the teachers?" I said.
He shrugged. "Some of them are dead. Some of them just disappeared." He paused, looking at the ceiling in thought. "I did see one of them jump. That one freshman science teacher."
I knew immediately who "that one" was—the one who kept a boa constrictor in a tank in his classroom. While Mr. Darrick was beyond help, I wondered if the snake was okay.
"I think I watched Miss Ladia die," I said. My voice turned hollow as I realized what had happened. "Those guys that were chasing me, they did it. I should have done something."
More silence. I guess it was the closest thing to a funeral the dead would have.
"You're called Wednesday, right?"
I nodded, and was about to ask if I'd gotten his name right when something slammed hard into the kitchen door.