(So this was an idea for a story about a zombie apocalypse that I tried writing out. I have a few chapters types up and I might upload them, but I thought that I would upload the prologue first. Please let me know what you think and if you would be interested in reading more! Thanks so much as always!)
The cool morning air nipped at my skin, and the smell of freshly dawning dew swirled inside me as I inhaled deep. Appleton Rhode Island was one of those quaint little towns you saw in all of the movies, and unlike most people who were just aching to escape, I wanted to stay. This small dot of Earth that we called a community was all I would ever need. By now, I couldn’t even imagine my life without walking down Rivers Drive and seeing all of the little shops open for their morning customers. All of the stores in Appleton were family owned, and we never had a high enough population for big corporations like Walmart and Stop and Shop.
The only place I was somewhat excited to get away from was the Appleton Memorial High School.There was only about two or three hundred students per graduating class, and all of them were ready to fly from the nest. Not to mention that you could never just do one thing and go unnoticed. It was like living under a microscope. No matter how hard you tried to hide whatever it was you were doing, people found out. Everyone knew your basic life story, who your parents were, their basic life story, and their parents history, and so on. There was nothing that you could do to escape it either. You just lived with it, and watched everything you did to make ture that you didn’t become the gossip of Appleton. Sometimes, walking down Rivers Drive was like walking down a pathway of hot coals.
The sun shone down on Appleton Memorial High School’s tennis courts, and I sighed deeply as I approached the fence, trying my best to put on my mental armor, hoping that people’s harsh words wouldn’t penetrate it. Everyone has their own way of surviving the four years that come along in life known as high school. Some can breeze right through it (and even enjoy it), some crash and burn under all of the pressure, and then there are people like me, who just fight the battles that they have to.
To me, high school is just some medieval battle that you are constantly required to fight. You make allies, who help you make it through a hard day at war, and you have your rival kingdoms, who try to burn down your castle and decapitate you publicly. Then you have teachers and principals, who are almost like your own wise wizards and guardians. Some do more than others to help, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right? They’re simply there to soften up the ride, but if you get on their bad side, then they can make your life more of a hell than it already may be. So at the end of the war, who wins? In every kind of battle, you have to have some kind of victor, so who always wins this kind of war? Trick question, because no one ever does. Sure, a lot of survivors live great lives afterwards, but they’re still scarred by what they saw in the battle halls.
So, I suit up, putting on my metaphorical battle armor, sharpening my daggers of witty comebacks, and meeting with my closest ally in the combat formally known as high school tennis, Tori. Tori has been my dearest friend since I could possibly remember. Growing up, I would always run down past the first six houses on the street of Mayberry Avenue, and at the corner, I would turn left onto an old dirt road that led up to her parents gorgeous mansion. Appleton was an old town, so there was rarely ever any new construction. Her house was one of the old plantation houses that you always read about in history textbooks. Everyday, she and I would play in the acres of free yard space, or explore new places that we had found on the premises of the property.
“Ready for yet another day of amateur tennis with high school kids who think that they are playing in some kind of world tournament?” she asked me, swinging her tennis racquet back and forth as if it were her sword.
“Oh, am I ever!” I told her, sarcasm emanating from my tone of voice. Miss Beck stood in front of the whole class of seventeen kids and let out a short blow from her whistle, and the classes attention was all on her, as if we were her little minions.
“Okay, so today is our final tennis match for the semester. Whoever wins today gets extra credit added onto their full year grade!” she announced, then glanced down at her clip board with a small smile. “So, we have Team Seven, which is Andy and Sylvio.” She said, and the two boys broke out into cheers and shouts.
“I feel sorry for whoever has to play against them. Remember what happened when Andy and Sylvio played Lydia and her partner the other week?” Tori whispered to me, and I nodded affirmatively. Poor, poor Lydia. She turned around for two seconds to talk to Miss Beck, and when she turns back, BAM, the tennis ball hits her so hard in the forehead she passes out. For the rest of the day she had to walk around with a tennis ball sized, black and blue lump right between her eyebrows. Lydia never even saw it coming, but the part that sickened me was the fact that Andy felt no remorse for what he had done. He never said sorry, or asked for forgiveness. No, instead he just laughed, and cheered along with his lackey Sylvio, who was no better than Andy.
“And up against them is Team Five, Tori and Rowan!” Miss beck said to everyone, and my heart dropped. Tori’s face started to burn bright red, and with each shade of pink, I began to realize that we had only lost two games in the past three and a half weeks.
As Miss Beck told everyone else to play on their own court with whoever they wanted, Tori and I prepared as much as we possibly could. If there was ever a time where I felt like I was going into some kind of big battle, it would be now.This was the moment of my junior year that I felt was the final showdown.
“Rowan, I don’t wanna die,” Tori sighed, taking the tennis ball from the rusty basket next to the gate to the courts.
“We are not going to die Tori,” I groaned, then looked at her with raised eyebrows. “But keep in mind that if I must use you as a human shield, I will not hesitate.
“Come on!” Tori whined, but I simply pulled her over to our side of the court. Andy and Sylvio stood on the other side of the net, laughing with one another, and probably thinking about how they plan to crush us in this game. Finally, the two boys turned to us, and I realized what was really going on here.
Anyone who knows anything about high school P.E programs is aware of the unbalance that comes along with things like pairing up teams. Right off the bat, (no sports pun intended) I can say myself that the pairing here was somewhat uneven. Tori and I are both lanky, but it’s obvious that I am a few good inches shorter than her. Neither of us have any noticeable muscle build up from things like baseball or tennis. So going up against two lacrosse jockeys was just flat out unfair, but hey, I guess that’s high school.
“Let us know if you need a small break ladies! We will be more than happy to let you forfeit the game!” Andy shouted with a condescending laugh trailing behind.
“Yeah, you too!” I yelled back, stepping on the red cement, preparing to serve. When I turned back to the net, I saw the sun breaking over the peak of the mountain, and suddenly, I found myself imagining what it would be like to fly to the peak of that mountain, just to see my small town of Appleton.
“Come on Rowan, quit slacking!” I heard Sylvio yell, and I snapped right out of my daydream. I scowled a bit and grunted under my breath as I threw the bright, neon colored ball up over my head. When the ball met my racquet, it went flying over the net and towards Andy and Sylvio. I heard Miss Beck tell me that I made a great serve, but I was too worried about saving my own skin to worry about her encouragement.
“I got it!” Yelled Sylvio, whacking the ball with his racquet in a single fierce moment, sending the ball hurtling towards my face. Quickly thinking on my feet, I lunged to the left, dodging the ball by a toads hair. Tori quickly sprinted and caught the ball with her racquet, hitting it just as hard as Sylvio had when he returned my serve.
I Swiftly scurried to my feet, standing ready to play more; to fight more. That one action fueled my want to win this battle. As I got ready, I saw the ball in Andy’s hand across the court, and he and Sylvio had puzzled glances glazed over their faces. Everyone around me was silenced and looking past me. I spun around on my heels, and madness broke out.
Cries of terror emerged from the school building, along with what I would never describe as normal “screams”. They were awful, painful shrieks that made it sound like those people inside the building were being torn limb from limb. Glass shattered from classroom windows, and these screeching people came crawling through the frames, pushing one another out of the way. Blood was smeared all over their faces, especially their mouths. Behind them, I saw students and teachers alike on the floor, their red blood splattered all over the walls and the tile.
“Run, everyone! Run to the gym!” Miss Beck shouted at us, waving towards the gymnasium doors.
“Screw that! I’m not going into the same building as those things!” Andy yelled back as he dropped his tennis racquet and made a run towards town. I whipped my head towards the school and saw the bloodied screaming people running faster and faster towards us. No, those were not people. They had to be cannibals or something…
“Rowan, come on!” Tori screamed as she grabbed my hand and tried to pull me along with her, but I was paralyzed in fear. I caught a glance at one of the monsters and recognized them as the guy who sat next to me in chemistry. He and I only talked once or twice, but that didn’t matter now. It was like that person was completely gone.
What was his name? Tony? Yes, Tony. He was on the baseball team, and he was one of the only members to acknowledge my existence in the world. That may have only been because I was acing chemistry and he was failing, but none the less, he was kind to me when some of his friends may not have been. But that thing running for one of the other kids in my gym class wasn’t Tony.
“Tori…those are our friends,” I whispered, my voice unstable and trembling violently. They came closer and closer, making that awful, gut wrenching sound. They weren’t the people I always knew from when I was a kid. They were animals who mimicked their appearance. They had to be.
“No, they obviously aren’t. We need to go now Rowan please!” she screamed at me, yanking at my arm profusely. I felt my body jerk in her direction, and my brain finally kicked into overdrive. My legs felt like bags of sand, weighing and slowing me down as I tried to run as fast as I could to get to somewhere safe. My lungs felt as though they were on fire, and breathing became more difficult with each hard step further. I heard one of them coming catching up to me, and when I felt a hand land on my shoulder, I let out a blood curdling scream.
“ROWAN!” Tori shrieked, and began pulling on my arm harder. When I looked at the creatures face, I froze. It was my sister, Caitlyn. Her eyes looked glossy, and her skin was more ashen than normal. For a split second, I caught a horrific glimpse of her expression. A single real, genuine look told me what I knew was already true.
Caitlyn was gone.
“C-Cait, Cait please! It’s me, Rowan!” I begged, as if somewhere deep down, she could hear me, but I was dead wrong. The monster standing before me tackled me to the ground with unbelievable strength and speed. I let out another scream in terror as I began to whack at the creature with my tennis racquet.
“ROWAN, NO!” I heard Tori scream at the top of her lungs, but I didn’t know why until the racquet was torn from my hands feverishly. Whatever demon took over my little sister was about to kill me, and there was no escaping it now. I felt it’s teeth sink into my throat, and my life went black.