“Did you hear?” One of my classmates, Keith, whispers, turning in his desk to look at us. “The zombie outbreak finally reached Kirkland.”

“I know!” Another of my classmates, Victoria, who was sitting next to me, replies, sounding exasperated. “How can they keep us here, knowing that there are zombies less than 30 miles away from us?”

The zombie outbreak. How it happened, nobody really knew. There were speculations and conspiracy theories, like everything else in the world. Some blamed the government. The speculation was the government was experimenting on homeless people to see if humanity could live longer, so they could tax us more. That was just one of the many speculations, and there were a lot. Some were saying that it was because of the “pesticides in our food.” Others even blamed the COVID-19 vaccine. Those were just the three major conspiracy theories I had heard.

The zombie outbreak was quickly spreading throughout the United States and the rest of the world. It was only a matter of time, my dad told me, before it would hit our little stretch of home. It was a surprise that it hadn’t already, and because of that, our schools, our restaurants, our shops, our everything remained open. But thankfully, our mayor put in rules. Nobody was allowed to come into our city, and nobody was allowed out, unless it was an emergency, such as a family member dying.

As of right now, we had been lucky enough that nobody needed to leave, but soon enough that luck would run out. Someone would need medicine that they couldn’t get from our pharmacies or hospitals. Someone’s family member would be dying. Or something else. I didn’t know when it would happen, but I could almost guarantee it. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wouldn’t call myself psychic, but 9/10 times, when I had those horrible feelings in my stomach, they usually came true.

“They’re idiots. They think that just because they have the rules in place, nothing’s going to happen to us.” Keith remarks, sounding frustrated, and running his hand through his ginger hair.

I look off to my other side, to my best friend, Claire, who had a look of complete terror on her face. She had been listening to what Keith and Victoria were talking about. Her chocolate brown eyes slowly turn to look at me, and they’re wide with fear. She softly asks, “Quinn, what are we going to do if the zombies come here?”

I sigh, running a hand through my short blonde hair and moving my bangs away from my eyes, before I respond, “I dunno, Claire. I don’t really think there is a way we can avoid this outbreak. It’s really only a matter of time before it comes here.”

“There has to be a way to avoid it!” She cries out, slamming her open hand onto her desk.

I sigh again. I love Claire, I really do, but sometimes I think she’s an airhead, and doesn’t think things through all the way. “Claire,” I say bluntly, “They’re zombies. And as we’ve all heard, they’re notoriously hard to kill, if not impossible.”

Keith and Victoria nod their heads in agreement to my statement about them being hard to kill.

“They’ve tried burning the bodies of zombies, staking them in their hearts, cutting off their heads, and so much more. They haven’t figured out a sure-fire way of killing them yet, Claire.”

It was true. There were videos all over the Internet of people trying to kill a zombie. Most of them were brutal, and I couldn’t stand to watch more than a minute or two as people tortured the hell out of these creatures. I knew they were trying to save humanity by doing this, but I just couldn’t stand it. It was too cruel to me.

She sighs, looking away from me. She knew I was right, and hated admitting it.

“I don’t like it either, Claire.” I tell her gently. “But that’s just the reality of things.”

“You could’ve at least sugar coated things…” She grumbles, looking back at me and giving me a stink face, sticking her tongue out at me.

“When have you ever known me to do that?” I ask, grinning at her.

“Never…” She can’t help but slightly smile back at me despite the situation.

The bell rings, silencing the classroom, and signaling the beginning of the school day. Not even a moment later, our homeroom teacher, Mr. Armant, walks in and Keith turns back around in his desk to face the front.

“Good morning, class.” His monotone voice rings out throughout the room. His voice may have been monotone, but it was always loud, and for someone who dealt with frequent migraines, it annoyed the hell out of me. Especially because I always sat in the second row of desks. Most of the time, after homeroom, I had to run down to the nurses' office to get some Ibuprofen or Tylenol to help with the pain.

“Good morning, Mr. Armant.” We all say back to him. This was something that had been drilled into us since the beginning of the school year. We all had to say “good morning” back to him, or else face possible detention. It was bullshit, in our opinions, but teacher’s rules.

“Now, I know you all have heard about the zombie outbreak reaching Kirkland. And I know you're all wondering why we can't just cancel school,” he drones on, causing all of us to roll our eyes when he turns his back to us to write something on his whiteboard. “Well, you see, we can't. Your education is important to us.”

“Important enough to risk our lives?” One of my classmates a few rows behind me, Julie, demands, standing up and slamming her open palms onto her desk, glaring at our teachers back. “The outbreak is less than 30 miles away from us! 30 miles!”

He slowly turns around, raising an eyebrow at her outburst. “Now, Mrs. Bolduc, I know it’s less than 30 miles away, but it isn’t that simple. Now please, sit down.”

“No! Our lives are at stake here! I refuse to sit down or be silent anymore! How dare you tell me that my life is less important to me than my education! And how dare you tell me it isn’t that simple! What are we going to do if a zombie comes over here? Or if someone needs to travel somewhere because of a dying relative? What then?

All of our eyes, who had been on Julie when her outburst first began, slowly turn to look back at Mr. Armant, wondering what his response was going to be. But he was silent. 

“Will school finally be canceled then? When one of us gets infected?” Her voice raises in pitch, and she’s practically screeching now.

“Who knows?” Mr. Armant remarks softly, refusing to look at any of us.