The surrounding area was completely desolate. The inevitable thunderstorm brewing was the only thing that made a sound. The sky was grey, the air was warm and you could smell the impending rain. The area contained houses that looked to have not been inhabited for a long time. There was a forest near the said houses and just outside the trail leading to the forest was a girl. She was on her knees, looking up at the sky, her eyes filled with despair and loss. She looked back down to the ground and sobbed. Now, she was well and truly alone.
The Disaster Zone (or D-Zone) was the place where I used to live. It used to be a residential area. The beach was five minutes away and the streets were bustling with life; people were running around trying to get to work on time, mothers were reigning in their overly energetic children and other usual antics that occurred in day-to-day life.
Of course, the Disaster Zone wasn’t always called by that name. In what I had dubbed the “Time- Before-People-Became-Cannibalistic-Freaks” or Food Eating Era for short, D-Zone was just another growing town called Birchwood. I lived near a forest that I hung out at with my friends nearly every day. I look back now, and think of how stupid and naïve I really was.
To really understand what happened to my town, to my country and the world, you’ve got to go back a few decades.
In the 1980’s the rate of natural disasters was 120 per year. In 2012 the natural disasters rate was 500 per year. People died from earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. Buildings started to collapse due to the earthquakes and bushfires were at an all-time high. They blamed it on global warming.
No one really worried too much; it was a case of wanting to help, but not knowing how.
They didn't know that it was Mother Nature warning us for what was about to happen.
In the early months of 2013, there were reports of a virus that could alter the structure of the brain, making the infected person lose all sense of understanding and make them crave human flesh. They had also said that the infected people had no heartbeat. The people who caught this disease became literal zombies. When my family and I had seen the news report, my dad had said, “Zombies? I know that these reporters lie about heaps of stuff, but this? Who’s running this channel?”
No one knew where the virus had originated. At least that’s what the government told us.
In Europe, the countries that formed Central Europe, succumbed to the virus before spreading to the rest of Europe.
The countries in Central Africa became infected at the same time as Central Europe and spread to North and South Africa.
Middle Asia, also yielded to the virus before spreading to all of Asia.
The virus had also started in Central America and then spread to the rest of the Americas.
The virus in Australia started in Alice Springs.
The minimal life that had inhabited Antarctica had died, because the virus killed the animals. They didn’t come to be zombies like the humans did. They just died like every other living creature that wasn’t human, and luckily for them, they got to spend the rest of eternity in peace.
We humans weren’t so lucky.
The bizarre thing was, was that the virus had started in the centre of every continent. The islands off the coast of the continents were the last to succumb to the virus.
When people started becoming ‘cannibalistic-freaks’ I had decide that this was the end of the ‘Food Eating Era’ and decided to call this period of time, the ‘Brain Eating Era’.
There were a lot of theories as to why all of this happened. Some would say the cliché things, the things you would see in movies. An experiment gone wrong or the result of some sort of nuclear explosion.
I think it has something to do with nature. I think we’re going through nature’s ‘cleansing cycle’.
Do you remember that news report I was talking about earlier? Well, the day after that, my friends and I were talking about it on our hour long morning bus to school. My friends Aileen, Juliet and Winter were weirdos like me, so we got along well. Other than that, we were all very different people.
Aileen’s first name is Bridget, but that name didn't seem to suit her. Aileen means ‘the light of the sun’ which basically describes her personality. She has shoulder length, dirty blond hair and hazel eyes. She's cheerful and very talkative. When she talked for a long period of time, I usually zoned out.
Juliet is a control-freak with red hair, which she straightens every day. I had once said to her, "You know what the difference between a blonde and a redhead is?" She didn't answer, so I continued by saying," A redhead is a blonde from hell."
I ended up with a very big bruise on my leg from where she had kicked me.
She took things way too seriously.
Last, but by no means least, is Winter. She has dark brown hair and intense green eyes. She’s a tomboy, but has an eye for fashion.
On the other hand, there was me. My name is Marina. I have dark brown hair and equally dark brown eyes. My skin is a bronzed colour which I had inherited from my Brazilian parents
We talked about what we would do in a zombie apocalypse.
“I would totally change my name into something cooler than Juliet,” Juliet said, nodding her head, and agreeing to her own statement.
Winter turned to face Juliet, with interest in her tired eyes and asked, “What name would you choose then?”
Juliet looked thoughtful for a moment and then replied, “I’m not sure what the name would be. I think that I would make the name up. But,” she then chuckled and added, “Let me get back to you on that if the zombie apocalypse actually arrives.”
We continue our conversation, until we arrived at Mackenzie High School.
When we said our goodbyes to Chris (our bus driver) and we entered the school. As we walked into the gates I remembered that I had to tell my friends something. “Diego said that he’ll drop you guys off at our house if you want to today.” Diego was my older brother and he was in Year 12. Dad lets him borrow the car from time to time, since he got his license.
Juliet’s face went red with a mixture of excitement and embarrassment. I fought the urge to gag. It was annoying that one of my best friends had a crush on my idiotic brother.
I found out her crush a few months ago. We were watching the school play and Diego was the lead character. I don’t remember much of it because it was kind of boring. The thing I do remember was Juliet nearly peeing her pants with giddiness and swooning over how ‘sexy’ Diego’s fake Brazilian accent was. Our parents are Brazilian and he still couldn’t do a realistic Brazilian accent.
“Oh my god, of course he can drive me to your house!” Juliet said excitedly. Aileen and Winter cleared their throats and looked expectantly at Juliet. She realised why they were looking at her like that and added, “Umm, I mean he can drive us all to his- your house.” Her ears, cheeks and chin were now a dark pink colour. I rolled my eyes. “I’ll just text him.” Juliet looked to me with her eyebrows furrowed and asked, “Why are you texting him?”
“Errrr because I need to tell him that he needs to drop you guys off today?” I replied.
“Well duh I know that but why are you texting him when you could just go and ask him now?” Juliet said with her eyebrow raised.
I sighed and rubbed my forehead. It was way too early in the morning for logic. “I don’t know. I’m just not bothered. And anyway, where would I find him?”
“He usually hangs out with his friends behind B Block. During this time he’s probably talking to Alex about how lame homework is, who the hottest girls are or –”
“Okay, okay Juliet I get it! I’m still just going to text him,” I said. I got my phone out of my bag and I quickly sent a message to Diego.
Just as I put my phone in my bag, the morning bell rang. Aileen turned to us and looked to her wrist watch repeatedly. “Guys, the bell wasn’t supposed to ring for 15 minutes,” she said to us. The morning bell rung again and again. “I think that’s the lockdown bell,” Winter said.
Juliet looked around us and asked us in a panicked voice, “Then where are we supposed to go?”
I took that as my opportunity to look around. Everyone else was looking around like we were, confused and slightly fearful. In the distance, I spotted two people running towards us. As they got closer, I realised who they were. Diego and Alex. Alex was Winter’s older brother and Diego’s best friend. Both Alex and Diego looked concerned. It was Alex who finally spoke, “Do you guys know what the hell is going on?”
Juliet, Winter, Aileen and I looked at each other and then back to him and shook our heads.
“Everybody needs to go up to the assembly area now!” We all turned to the voice.
It was none other than Eleanor Dunker. She was in my year and was in the SRC and thought she was so much better me and my friends. I have no idea what she held against us, but it was probably something petty knowing how she is. We all hated being told what to do by Eleanor, but we just wanted to know what was going on so we made our way to the assembly area.
We sat down on the concrete and after 5 minutes of the teachers trying to settle down everyone, the place went quiet enough for our principal Mrs Larkan to talk.
“I know you’re wondering why we’re having this unplanned assembly and the reason is that some urgent issues have come up. If any of you have been watching the news lately you would have seen reports on a virus-”
“You mean the one that turns people into zombies?” A guy from Year 11 interrupted.
Mrs Larkan sighed and nodded, “Yes that’s the one. Back to what I was saying, there has been an outbreak near our region and it won’t be long until our region succumbs to the virus.”
Everyone was shocked. Soon there was uproar.
It took another 10 minutes for everyone to settle back down.
Mrs Larkan spoke again, “The State Department of Health and Safety are sending out medical teams to different areas that have not yet been infected and this high school has been chosen as a safe zone. There will be no class from now on. The one rule that I stress to you is do not go outside these gates. It is safe here. We have contacted all of your families and have made sure that they have been relocated to a local safe zone. For now you may do as you wish inside the school gates. That is all.” She then walked back to her office.
After a moment of silence, people started getting up. People were whispering, yelling, crying and Amanda White was on her knees was praying, “Please God help us in this time of need!”
Winter pulled me up and Aileen helped Juliet up (she was still in shock). Winter laughed and shook her head. “What are you laughing about Winter?” I said angrily. We had just been told that our country was under attack from zombie things and she had the nerve to laugh. Winter laughed harder and said, “Don’t give me that look Marina; I’m not talking about that zombie thing.”
“Then what are laughing about?” Aileen asked. She looked extremely confused.
“Did you see Amanda White praying?” Winter asked.
“Yeah and…” I asked. This was getting annoying.
“Well isn’t she a proclaimed Atheist?” Winter asked. There was a moment of silence before we all got what she meant. Even Juliet was smiling.
We all turned to look at Amanda. She was still on her knees. I felt kind of bad smiling at her antics, but the girl who usually argued with the distressed substitute teacher about saying BCE instead of BC and was now praying to a god she never even believed in was….. laughable. And I really needed a laugh.
We all turned to Aileen when she said, “I know that was funny, but should we find the others now? They’re probably worrying about us.”
By others, Aileen meant Gray, Masen, Lily, Hanna, John and Shaun.
“Yeah I guess,” I said. They were probably out the front of C Block. When we got there, we were bombarded with hugs.
“Oh my god, we thought you guys didn’t make it to school today and that you’d been attacked or something!” Lily cried as she hugged us all. She was very emotional.
Gray looked at us with a serious face which was completely ruined when he laughed and said,” Glad to know you didn’t get eaten or something.”
“So what should we do now?” Masen asked.