Read Chapter 1 here.
I am not sure how I had lived past the night. I had fallen into an uneasy sleep, jolting awake throughout the night and hugging onto the tree branch for dear life. When morning finally arrives, I squint my eyes open, hoping that the monsters are gone.
“Shit,” I muttered. Where are they? Are they laying out a trap for me? Maybe they will come pouncing on me the moment I get out of the tree.
I sit up straight to take a good look around the place and wince. My muscles have strained from balancing on the tree branch overnight. I nearly cry out in pain but manage to stop myself by biting my lip. I scan the area very carefully; they do not seem to be at the carpark or near the studio, or in fact, anywhere near me at all.
A shadow flickers past the corner of my eye. Turning in the direction, I find myself staring at the other side of the studio. It is impossible to see what is going on but I can hear faint retching noises coming from that direction. I take a huge whiff of the air – it smells clean. I climb higher up the tree to get a better view. Then I spot them.
Prowling around the pond at the back of the studio, the monsters are splashing in the water, the others bending over the sides of it. They look a little paler than they did last night. I spot the Jessica the retching monster, her braid untidy and green things are smeared across her face. What are they doing?
But a part of me knows that there is no time to contemplate any further. This may as well be my only chance of escape. I climb down the tree as fast as my shaking limbs allow me, pick up my phone and sprint as fast as I can down the hill. I am sure I can hear or smell them if they ever decide to come after me. I run all the way to my dormitory room, turn the knob and find myself locked out. My keys to my room are lying at a corner in the dance studio where I had last left them and there is no way I am going to go back there to get them. Emma is my only hope. I hammer on the door, silently screaming for her to open up.
It worked. The door swings open and Emma comes out, looking annoyed. “Where were you the entire night!” she demands.
I dash into the room and starts grabbing my clothes out of the closet. “Em, we’ve got to leave. There is something in school. Like… like zombies or something. I saw them last night at the dance studio. They are my dance members. All of them. They killed Jessica and Tiffany and-” I go into a frenzy, running around the room and tossing things into my messenger bag. I reach into the fridge to retrieve my snackbars and Emma snatches them out of my hands.
“Wait, wait, wait. Hold it. What are you saying?”
“There. Are. Zombies!” I yell at her. “At the studio!”
Emma stares at me for a moment and break into fits of laughter. “Honestly. Tell me Jim put you up to acting. You are really good at it!”
“No. Em, listen. I saw them. Their eyelids are turned inside out, they retch and they stink. And I saw them crowd around Johanna and then a minute later she became just like them! They’re scavenging at the pond behind the studio when I escaped!”
“Alright, Clare. I’m going over to Terry’s room tonight to play mahjong. I’ll be back late so don’t bolt the door ok? Tell Jim that you’d like to go into acting. You’d be a good cast for him.”
“Get some sleep, Clare. See you later!”
She blows me a kiss and leaves the dormitory, the bangles on her hand jingling like Christmas bells. I stare after her in utter disbelief. Who will possibly listen to me? I think I sound crazy myself. I wish what I had seen last night isn’t true, yet I can’t sit here doing nothing. I’ve got to warn people, get them to escape from this place as fast as they can.
I change into a plain shirt, denim shorts and put on a coat, anything that is light and good for running. I clean up my makeup and pack all the essentials into the messenger bag. Then, I set out of the dormitory with it slung across my chest in case I need to make a quick escape. I knock on the door to my left. It bursts open and Grouchy Grace scowls at me.
“Grace! You’ve got to leave this place! I was at the dance studio last night and there were zombies! I saw them with my very own eyes! You-”
“Are you nuts?”
“You sound like one.”
And the door slams in my face. I spend the whole afternoon knocking on doors, trying to convince people of what I had witnessed last night, but almost everyone reacts in the same way as Grace did. This isn’t working out well at all, and I finally head back to my room. If there is any one person in the world who will believe me without a doubt, it will be Dad. I pick up my phone, hand poised to call Dad and realises for the first time in the day it had gone out, cracked across the screen. “NO!” I scream, hurling the phone across the room before crawling to a corner and pulling a blanket over my head. I sit there for a long time before breaking down, shaking and crying, until I fall asleep.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
I am sitting on the bus, looking out of the window with Dad beside me. Oddly enough, we are in a theme park. He points out several landscapes to me: the Jungle House, the Mummy ride, the ferris wheel…
“Let’s take the Mummy ride, Clare,” he says, his warm brown eyes glinting mischievously.
“No, Dad. I’m scared!”
He puts his left arm over my shoulder and gives it a little squeeze.
“You can do it, Clare.”
“No I won’t! It’s scary!” I bawl and, hopping off the bus, Dad calling after me.
I refuse to turn back, and he continues.
“Clare!” This time the voice sounds different. Who is it?
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Something is rattling. What is it? I open my eyes but it is pitched black. I can hardly see anything. It is warm and perspiration has stained the back of my shirt wet. The bus in the theme park can certainly do with a little air-conditioning. I struggle in discomfort for a while before realising that something is covering me.
“Clare Sim!” the voice shakes me out of my stupor, jolting me to my senses.
I scramble to my feet, the blanket falling to the ground. Switch, switch, where is the switch? The light click on the moment my fingers hit the socket and light floods the room. I fumble for my watch. It is already nine in the evening. The door shakes as someone hammers on it, the lock rattling. I look through the peephole and standing on the other side of my door is a red-faced Jim. Quickly, I let him in.
“Didn’t I tell you I needed you at the rehearsals? What were you doing? Sleeping in here all day?” he bellows the moment he enters, fuming.
“You don’t have to come for rehearsals anymore! I’ll get someone else to do it!” His voice could have woken the entire building.
“Jim, please, keep your voice down and let me explain,” I plead, closing the door. Suddenly, Emma thrusts the door open, knocking me aside. Her ponytail is in a mess and blood is staining the blue blazer she is wearing. Something brown drips down her face as she collapses onto Jim.
“Oh my god, get off me!” Jim shouts, his eyes wide and backing away. Emma falls to the floor.
“Em!” I cry, squatting down next to her. “What happened?”
I rest my hands on her shoulders in an attempt to help her up. A scalding sensation spread through the tips of my fingers and I am forced to let go. My palms have started smoking, scalded pink. Emma then turns to face me, her eyes bloodshot and rolling to the back of her head.
“Shit.” I back away from her. “No…”
But something seems strange. It isn’t like what I had seen last night: Emma is fading away. “Em?” I whispered. “Em?”
She looks directly into my eyes, hers growing fainter and fainter. Her lips are turning inside out and so is her nose. The sight is grotesque but I can’t look away. “Help me,” she gasps softly, clutching her chest. Tears stream down her cheeks as she starts gasping for air and then… She is gone.
I stare at Jim, praying hard that he knows what is going on, but he looks just as shocked and as speechless as I am. “Em?” I whispers as loudly as I dare. Jim backs away from the spot where Emma had vanished and hit the mirror. It topples with a loud clang and shatters into pieces.
It happened very quickly. Within a split second, Jim turns stiff, flies through the air and hits my bed. He coughs, but before he can stand up, his hands fly to his sides, pinned by something none of us can see. He gasps, sputters and chokes. In no time at all, smoke starts rising from his neck and a burn starts spreading, cooking his skin red raw and a shape of a human hand appears on his neck. Desperate, I swing around and grab the nearest weapon I can find – Emma’s softball bat.
“Jim!” I yell. “Duck!”
I swing the bat, trying to estimate where is attacker is. It connects with something hard, but before I can swing it back, something grabs onto it and Jim falls back down to my bed, groaning in pain. The bat pauses momentarily in mid air, then swings down hard. It misses me as I duck. With a loud snarl and the jingling of bells, the bat swings downwards once more and this time it whacks me straight across my stomach. I fall to the floor, sputtering and coughing. Before I can react, the bat swings again. This time it misses as I find myself dragged across the floor. Jim pulls me up to my feet and we head straight for the door.
The corridor is pitched black and the lamps along the corridor are flickering on and off. The entire building is bathed in darkness. But the bat comes swinging at us again and we enter the corridor. We back to the railings and watch as the bat first slides out of the room and then a glowing, fiery skeleton appears, wielding the bat and vanishing in and out in tandem with the flickering lights.
“ARGHHHH‼!” Jim and I scream. But we stop abruptly as a loud thundering from our left cues us to run down the corridor for our dear lives.
For a large group of fiery skeletons are quickly approaching us, arms flailing and snarling. The creature at my doorstep swings its bat and leers at us sinisterly, revealing acid green teeth.
“THERE!” I yell at Jim. We take a left turn, but I have no idea where we are going to hide. Emma had said that she would be going to Terry’s room for a game, which means that the whole block has probably already been infiltrated. Where do we go from here?
“Here,” Jim pants, pulling my sleeve. I follow without argument.
He leads me round the nearest corner. The lights in this corridor have completely gone out. Swiftly, he pulls me through the door of a staircase landing and we duck below the glass panel, our backs pressing hard against the door in case they push through. When I have regained my breath, I sneak a look through the tiny glass panel at the side of the door. I watch them approach, turn round the corner and very suddenly, the snarling stops. But like their retching cousins, they dwell near where they had last seen us, glowing. We are trapped in. There is no way we could get out from here when they are right outside our door and they can definitely hear us going up the steps.
“Dammit,” I swear softly.
“Who’s there?” a voice replies, trembling. “Beware, I’m armed.”
I turn to look at Jim, alarmed. Someone is sharing our hiding place.
The Final Evolution © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.
Written by: Ms. Auby Sparksfield
Edited by: Isaac Tan
Read Chapter 1 here.