“Get me out of here!” Cindy mumbled as she threw open the heavy door and tore outside. “That was possibly the worst class we’ve had yet! Now – don’t get me wrong, Mr Fitz is extremely sexy in all ways – but did you see how intense he was?”
“See how intense he was?” Drew replied. “I felt it in the way he slapped my upside the head – I didn’t think teachers were even allowed to do that these days!”
Frowning, I looked back at our group. “He was a little off today.” I admitted.
“Personally, I just think he needs to get some.” Holly said matter of factly. “It must be hard teaching girls like me everyday and not being able to do anything about it.”
A collective groan ran through our group, as the odd spell that had hovered over us as we left the lecture room was broken. Laughing, Holly and Cindy linked arms and started gushing over Holly’s latest beau, while Drew and Caleb started chucking a football back and forth; their passes getting longer and more dangerous as they got more confident with their throwing skills. Walking slowly behind them all, I kept musing about Mr Fitz’s behaviour today. It wasn’t just the unusual way he had snapped and slapped Drew, but the way he beared down on all of us – his eyes squinty and bloodshot, his mouth so close to my face at one time I could smell the coffee and chocolate on his breath as he whispered my name. “Eva…” Usually having his mouth so close to my face and whispering my name with such passion would have done funny things to my stomach, but there was something definitely off about him today that made me feel sick rather than anything else.
“What the –“ Drew stopped short at the front of our procession and stared in shock at the sight before him.
“Dude, come on!” Caleb called, coming up behind him and scooping up the football where it laid abandoned at his feet. “You can’t just keep dropping the ball, man!” You’ve already lost like five of our – whoa!” He exclaimed, his rant cut short as he moved in next to Drew and stared.
Frowning, I shuffled forward nervously. There was something about this whole day that just felt off. And moving up beside Drew to see the spectacle taking place in Mr Fitz’s office only served to intensify this feeling.
My eyes seemed glued to the scene of their own accord. I wanted to look away but I just couldn’t. There were uniformed guards ripping the office apart. Papers floated on the soft breeze whispering through the open window, while pens and pencils slowly rolled onto the ground; their nibs leaving small stains as they hit the carpet below. The guards, dissatisfied with what they were; or more precisely weren’t finding, were throwing Mr Fitz’s belongings in frustration. My eyes widened in shock as I watched his coffee mug hit the wall first, leaving a splattered, watercolour like artwork across the wall. The coffee mug was closely followed by the computer monitor that fell to the floor with a resounding crash and tinkle of glass. Drew grabbed my arm and started tugging me away as two of the guards each lifted an end of the desk and prepared to throw it against the window.
“Eva, we need to go.” He said urgently, pulling me away. Stumbling over my feet, I turned and let him lead me away. Cindy and Holly were already powering ahead, their arms linked and heads close as they most likely gossiped about what was going on. Caleb stood behind Drew and myself, his face white as a ghost as he shakily grabbed my hand and started pulling me down the hall as well.
Quickly, the five of us made our way towards the front of the building. My nerves felt increasingly jangled as I took in the growing number of guards running past us, shouting orders and responding to the constant crackle of static emitting from their radios.
“What is going on?” I hissed to Drew as he pulled us quickly and determinedly towards the exit.
“I’ve got no idea.” He replied, checking over his shoulder as the sound of footsteps beared down on us. “But we need to get out of here now.”
All of a sudden in front of us Cindy and Holly stopped short, with Caleb holding up not far behind them. Turning around to look at us, their faces drained of colour, they gestured frantically for us to break off and go to the right. Looking past them, I took in the flock of guards standing over the staircase and blocking anyone from moving down into the main foyer and exit of the building.
Drew pulled me to the right, and headed over towards the large, bay windows that lined the hallway. “Stay here.” He ordered, sitting me down and turning away. Cindy and Holly came over and flopped down next to me, their eyes wide and bodies shaking as they took in the scene before them. My eyes, however, remained trained on Drew as he moved towards the toilet.
The attack came out of nowhere. I flew to my feet and strangled my scream as Drew’s head snapped back against the doorframe. The guard who threw the first punch stood poised for action, and I cringed as Drew removed something from his belt and went on the offensive. The guard never stood a chance as Drew’s punch threw him against the wall and his arm hooked his neck in a strangle hold. My eyes bulged as I watched the first spurt of blood fly from the guards stomach as Drew’s hand pulled back again and again, stabbing the guard until he fell at his feet motionless.
Bile rose in my throat as I watch Drew drop the knife at his feet and run his bloodied hands through his hair in disbelief. Running for the female toilet next to him, I threw up the seat up and heaved until my stomach was empty, then retched some more.
Falling back against the wall, I closed my eyes and savoured the harsh chill that penetrated my pores from the ceramic tiles on the wall. Surely none of this is real. It had to all be a dream. Drawing myself shakily to me feet, I moved over to the sink and splashed cold water on my face again and again, revelling in the shock it gave my system. Gripping the edge of the sink, I stared at the girl looking back at me. My brown hair, so neatly styled in a ponytail this morning, stuck out and flew crazily around my face. My mousy brown eyes glowed with fear, adrenaline and instinct making them seem almost a luminescent green. My cheeks were streaked with black runs of forgotten mascara; making it look like I had put on some form of bad tribal war paint. Sighing, I smoothed my hair down and splashed my face one more time in an attempt to make myself look slightly more human before I turned and walked back out into the hall.
Amazed, I took in the people who now lined the top of the hall, the people who were clumped below in the foyer and the guards who stood stationed attentively every few meters. Meeting my friends’ eyes, I read their relief that I was ok and saw the fear etched firmly across all their features. Moving over to stand with them, I looked down as the announcer starts his spiel.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here today.” Someone behind me snorted and mumbled, “Like we had a choice.”
“These people down here have volunteered themselves as an example to you all. As you may or may not be aware, the people in the south islands of the pacific have been all but eradicated over recent days due to the modern day plague that has swept through their populations. Unfortunately, this plague has also hit us here on the East Coast of Australia.” Pausing for dramatic effect, the announcer looked around the room, his stare seeming to penetrate each and every one of us to our core.
“If you’ve been listening to the news, you will be aware that this plague leaves no survivors. In fact, thanks to these people standing down here with me, you’ve all now been exposed and infected.”
Worried murmurs, desperate shrieks and unrestrained sobbing filled the room as people frantically tried to escape. Ignoring it all, I focused on the announcer. This had to be some kind of joke.
“The guards will collect you all now.” He said, raising his voice to be heard over the din. “We can’t let this spread any further.” With that, the first shot rang through the room as the first victim was taken down. I felt the bile rise in my stomach again as Cindy and Drew tried to pull me away.
“Eva, we have to get out of here NOW.” Cindy said, her eyes wide and frightened.
“No.” I said softly. “I’m really sorry, guys. But we can’t leave.”
“What are you talking about?” Holly shrieked, looking at me like I’d gone mad.
“Guards!” I called out, motioning over the group standing closest to us. “These people are ready to be taken too.”
“What!?!” Cindy screamed as a guard grabbed her arm and started pulling her away.
“What the hell is going on Eva?” Drew yelled as three guards attacked him and fought to get him under control.
Sighing, I reached over and accepted my gun and radio from another guard. “Mr Fitz was a little strange this morning, wasn’t he?” I mused.
“What!?!” They all gaped at me.
“I’m so sorry, guys. I’ll always remember you.” I said, trying to hold back the tears that pooled at the corners of my eyes as I turned and walked away, blocking out their desperate screams and sobs for their life.
Looking towards the stairs, I saw Mr Fitz staring up at me. Winking, at me, he turned and walked away. Sighing, I rubbed my arm where he’d jabbed me with the antidote halfway through class today. I did what I had to do survive. I just hoped it wasn’t for nothing.