Z-Teens Chapter 6

Brandi Ortiz, Fiction Editor

Lulu stumbled through countless hallways after narrowly escaping the gym. She could no longer think straight and wandered aimlessly. Her mind felt numb, as did her body, but she continued to move forward, still no idea where her feet were taking her.

She felt chills travel down her spine, a constant and all-consuming cold, but her outer layers of skin gave off heat like a burning furnace which she could not feel.

Her fear was replaced by an unbearable numbness. She hardly noticed the stinging pain in her bare left arm, that hung limp on her side. The skin was barely broken, but pain emanated anyway.

Soon her pace became slower and slower until she finally stopped. Her mind became clouded and returned to mere moments ago…

She hadn’t seen anyone since she left Kenzie. It was as if she were the last person on earth. She regretted leaving her best friend behind almost immediately, having never felt so absolutely alone. She was barely even phrased by the screams anymore.

She had just made her way into the gymnasium when she saw the once infamous co-captain, Liv Farr, surrounded. And like most cheerleaders, she was popular and known well around the school by anyone who cared. She was the kind of person girls wanted to be, pretty, popular, achieved.

But Liv wasn’t nice. Not like Kenzie. Liv was mean.

Her makeup was messed up and she screamed a lot as she shoved another student away from her. She probably had a lot of practice during pep rallies to work on her projection.

When her eyes met with Lulu’s at last, in that moment, Lulu thought she was no longer alone.

But only in that moment.

Liv’s eyes directed to the deranged students and then back at Lulu. With a look of insane determination, she moved towards the green-haired girl and shoved her to the ground with vicious strength.

“Lunchtime, you freaks!” she yelled, before running for the door.

The students diverted their attention to the downed girl and snarled. Lulu attempted to flee but frozen fear and instinct conflicted, slowing her actions.

They took advantage and lunged. She barely dodged their full attack, but one of them grabbed the neck of her jacket and pulled her towards its teeth. Out of panic, she wiggled her way out of her jacket just in time and scrambled for the door.

Adrenaline and fear fueled her movements as she ran out.

Lulu didn’t stop running to see if she was being chased, or if Liv had escaped. She just kept running until she no longer had the strength.

She slumped against one of the lockers, her body feeling heavy all a sudden. The adrenaline had worn off fast and the pain in her arm resinated just beneath her skin. Her blood felt as if it were on fire, burning a path throughout her entire arm.

Her vision fogged and she slowly felt herself slipping away into oblivion…

Lulu woke in a dark room, alone.

Or so she thought.

A figure stood by the window, looking off into the distance with a grieving stare. She recognized the brown hair and posture anywhere. She smiled, but found herself unable to speak or even move. Her body was still heavy, but with sleep rather than pain.

“She’s awake.”

A male’s voice, surprised, rose from another dark corner. She couldn’t see his face through the dark, but knew the voice as Mark Walsh.

The familiar figure’s head turned instantly, reacting to Mark’s surprised statement. Her eyes widened with surprise and glee, and Lulu saw her own name mouthed. With great speed, she rushed from the window, toward her friend. Tears were visible in her eyes as she wrapped her arms around her slunken frame.

Slowly, with much effort, Lulu returned her dear friend’s embrace.

Kenzie couldn’t believe her eyes as saw Lulu arise, alive and well. When she saw the wound, she feared she had lost her friend forever.

Both girls smiled at each other and hugged in silence. Mark watched the two in relief, happy to see they had found Lulu, but in silent shock as to how the girl was possibly alive.

Kenzie eventually released her hold on Lulu and pressed the back of her hand against her forehead. “Fever’s gone.” Kenzie kept her hand placed against her skin, fearing she was mistaken. But the fever was almost gone entirely. In fact, she was cooling down to a rather normal temperature.

Lulu tilted her head in confusion and Kenzie chose to clarify. “When we found you, you were burning up like you wouldn’t believe.”

“How did you find me?” she asked.

Mark finally spoke up, excited all a sudden. “It was nuts! We were trapped in the gym, totally stuck, when Kenzie saw your jacket and freaked. She went totally berserk and opened the doors. Dead everywhere and she and Tom still took them down! It was insane!” he exclaimed, amazed with his sister and himself.

Kenzie glanced at the floor, as if embarrassed, grasping the same coat Mark spoke off, and sat next to Lulu. “You were already unconscious by the time we finally found you. And you’ve been out since.” She directed her eyes to her friend’s left arm then her face. “What happened to you?” she asked, looking afraid to hear the answer.

Lulu thought back to the attack, having not given it much thought since reuniting with Kenzie. “One of them tried to grab me, tried to bite me. I got away, but he scratched me. I didn’t even notice until later,” she explained, not wanting to think about Liv and how she too tried to kill her.

Mark moved closer and examined the thin marks on Lulu’s arm. She had definitely been scratched, but the skin was barely broken and showed little signs of infection. It was if her body was already fighting off the virus within her arm.

After fully describing what they had already seen and what they knew, Lulu’s eyes went to the scratch. Their explanation of her attack clearly frightened her because Kenzie saw panic in her eyes and placed her hand lightly on the wound.

“It’s OK, Lu. I don’t know how, but you’re OK.”

The siblings were astonished at her recovery and continued to investigate the wound. Until Kenzie finally chose to wash and wrap it in clean remnants of the pink coat she lost during the struggle with the apparent undead.

Mark kept his eyes glued on Lulu, looking fascinated, stroking his chin. “From what we’ve seen, it seems obvious we’re dealing with some kind of infection that invades the body through physical contact, such as through blood.”

“So? How does that help us?”

“Well with most infections, the body develops an immunity to fight off the disease. Therefore, it’s possible some people may already have certain immunities built into their systems,” Mark alliterated. “Based on a person’s immune system, I think the virus spreads differently with each person, fast, slow, or perhaps not at all.”

“And you think I have this so-called immunity?” Lulu asked, not sounding convinced.

Kenzie listened to her brother with a sense of hope. Was such an immunity possible?, she asked herself, thinking no one probably expected a zombie apocalypse to be possible either. If such a disease was possible, why couldn’t an immunity, a cure?

“Well you’re alive and so far seem fine, so yes. I believe so,” Mark finished, positive with his conclusion.

Lulu returned to her silent state, thinking over their current situation and the possibly of her actually having an immunity to this virus. Kenzie was as amazed as she was, thrilled her best friend had such a thing.

Mark handed Lulu a bottle of water and sandwich from the black bag, which she quickly chugged down and devoured.

The door then creaked and Tom Simmons, Kenzie’s crush since forever, entered the room, carrying a bag that looked like it belonged to one of the gym teachers. “Hallways clear.”

Lulu was surprised to see Tom, but not as surprised as he was.

Mark and Kenzie explained their theory as to how Lulu was alive to Tom, who came to agree.

Kenzie’s eyes moved to the bag thrown over Tom’s shoulder.

“Did you find them?” the brunette asked, Lulu ignorant of what she was talking about.

Tom smiled and unzipped the gym bag, revealing baseball bats and various other objects. Within minutes, basic gym equipment and tools were made into weapons of war.

Tom and Kenzie insisted Mark and Lulu train themselves within the spare time they had and handed them each a weapon.

As a player, Tom chose the metal bat and practiced his swing. Kenzie found herself quite fond of the scissors, with its glistening twin blades, and felt discontent to part.

She carefully cleaned the blood from blades and continued to slice at the air in front of her, at enemies that were not yet there.

Lulu was given the pole of what was once a weight set, that Tom disassembled, and Mark was given a hammer that Tom had snagged from the theater’s stagecraft.

Neither Mark nor Lulu had killed yet so Kenzie had to remind them of their life or death situation. The two understood and complied until she suggested they may have to kill students that were alive like them. She reminded them both of their experiences within the past hour and how easily people can change when they’re afraid.

Kenzie glared when the two still hesitated, knowing very well that hesitation would get them killed. Angry, she decided to put her foot down, hard. “This isn’t a joke. We’ve all seen what’s been going on. This isn’t a game, or some movie. It’s kill or be killed.” She spoke without mercy or remorse as she stated the facts and watched the lowering of their heads. “I know it’s hard, but we can’t change what’s happening or what we have to do. This is real and I refuse to lose either of you. Got that?”

Tom crossed his arms as Lulu and Mark kept their heads lowered in shame under both of their stares. Though eventually Mark and Lulu took grip of their weapons and swung at the air, same as Tom and Kenzie instructed them to.

Kenzie returned to practicing with her blades, but kept her eyes on Mark and Lulu. She understood what they were feeling. Neither of them wanted to become a murderer, neither did she. But she wanted to survive, wanted to keep her friends and brother alive.

And until further notice, all that matters is that they all survive.