The Closet Monster

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Alcott School
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m standing just outside the media center with Havier. It’s just after dawn. The school is still an eerie shell of its former self. There are trails blood, gore and God only knows what else everywhere I look. I don’t know what Havier is thinking. How could we possibly clean all of this up and make this space liveable until some form of help gets here. I guess work with what we got, right? Right.

Havier has the pistol and I have a crow bar that he managed to get from his office without incident. We move through the building slowly, glimpsing into the K-3rd grade wing. I throw up in the kindergarten room. Havier rolls his eyes and says, “Great, now there’s more to clean up.” He helps me back up to my feet.

“How are you so okay with all of this,” I ask as I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand.

“Not all of us had the luxury of a nice, suburban childhood,” he says, matter-of-factly. He pushes past me to assess the damage to the room and the vile mound of decomposing flesh in the corner.

Evetually I move outside the door, keeping an eye on Havier and the other on the deserted hallway. We have fifteen more classrooms to go plus the main office, the nurse’s room and the teacher’s lounge. It was going to be a long morning. We plan to tell the kids today about what’s been going on and start to get to work on the building. I’m not sure what makes me more nervous, having to tell them or clearing this building.

My classroom is on the other side. I really want to go there. I want to get my purse. I want to check my cell phone and see if I have service. We have the God damn internet, why wouldn’t I have cell service? I start to feel drawn to my room and my old life, almost as if it’s beckoning me to it so much so that in a split second I make the decision to leave Havier and make a run for it.

I come skidding to a halt right inside my room. There’s glass everywhere and the desks are scattered with books and papers all over the place. I go straight for my closet, fling open the doors and the next thing I know is that I’m pinned to the floor with something thrashing at me. I grab for its arms and I can feel how warm and alive they arm. I exhale and restrain whoever it is that probably thought I was one of the Undead. I finally stop him, subdue him and realize that it’s Armand.

Armand is a third grader from Mr. Taylor’s class. He has autism and at times has been out-right violent.

“Armand. Armand! It’s Miss Burton, sweetheart…you’re okay, you’re okay,” I say with a voice as languid as honey. I hug him and rock him in my lap. I can feel him calming down, his body relaxing. “You’re okay,” I whisper into his ear. I can hear him start grinding his teeth as he begins to rock with me. In that moment, I think even I become the calmest I have been in days.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Liz!” Havier is standing in the doorway. “Never mind leaving me alone, but thanks for making me think tht you got dragged away by one of those fucking things.”

I move so that he can see Armand in my lap. He shuts up.

“I have a lot of stuff in here. We can use those bins over there and fill them with the kids’ coats, it’s been getting cold at night. We should also grab my tissues, sanitizer and the snacks I have. The kids will like those. I’m sorry.”

Havier waves off my apology and begins to grab stuff to put in the empty bins. I stand up with Armand and place him on the floor. He stays glued to me and I don’t blame him. He was probably in my closet since the shit hit the fan. I reach into my closet and take out my purse. I rip out my phone.

No service.

But, there’s a voicemail from my mom and text messages from my brother and John. I punch my pin number in and put the phone up to my ear.

“Are you okay? How’s the school? The hordes are all over the street. I’m staying put. Ryan is on his way here. We’ll be okay,” my mom went on, with half-confidence, “get here when you can. I love you, Cricket!”

I wanted to cry right then and there, but I stopped myself. Ryan, my brother, had texted me to let me know that he was on a train to mom. I wonder if he made it or if he died, trapped somewhere in a train car with a horde of the Undead picking the flesh from his bones.

I read the message from John. He said, “Well don’t you feel like an asshole over how we spent New Years, eh? I know I do! You should have taken my offer seriously ;). I’m on my way to your school. Once we’re together, we’ll figure out what to do next. Maybe your mom’s?” That was nearly five days ago. He worked a town over from here, I hope that nothing happened to him. I hope that he’s on his way. Detoured maybe, but safe and unbitten on his way to me.

I feel sick and worried and even a bit pissed off. I am now completely tethered to this school – like it or not. I have to stay here for the kids and now for John. Once he gets here, we’ll have to make a choice about everything and I have to get to my mom eventually too. How can I move all of us across town?

I began to sulk. I gave Armand my purse and I helped Havier carry the full bins back to the media center.

On the way back, the halls echoed with a dull groaning, signaling that somewhere in the building, the Undead had come back.


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