Today will be the story, the scariest memory I hope to tell anyone one day. So far I have not met a good-natured person. Maybe tomorrow will be the worst day, I don’t know. Traveling here is still playing over and over in my mind. I can’t move, let alone think of what to do next. Fear has turned me into stone.
Writing now is a good wake-up call.
The terror surrounding my closet slowly came to an end and I finally stepped out when chirpy birds landed in the classroom. According to granny, birds hanging around are a good sign. She said, “Birds are scaredy-cats. The biggest I know. But ya need ’em. If you see ’em take flight, something bad is around. If they hang around and God forbid say hi, don’t be so shy”. Stomach growls and a throbbing headache convinced me to at least say hello. Wedged in my hiding spot for so long gave me useful numbness throughout my lower half, alleviating the pain in my hip when I really needed it. The final severity of my injury took a while to set in, leaving me with a fiery limp.
My new guests, three pigeons, one completely white, were scavenging through toppled furniture, an explosion of school supplies and lifeless bodies. The birds were not afraid of me, kept their distance and no longer chatted back and forth. Their stares were hard to read, yet all on me as their heads bobbed up and down, side to side, beaks randomly sunk deep in their feathers and testing crumbs of debris on the floor, on children’s backs, limbs and faces for edibility.
I figured if they were not afraid to come in, maybe it was safe to go home.
With a yardstick as my aid, I went into the hall where more corpses carpeted the floor, no one given mercy. The new decor consists of numerous symmetrical lines of holes amongst splashes of crimson. There was a thin haze of smoke in the air, proof of a fire somewhere in the building. I walked towards the closest exit, cautiously stepping over each student and adult on my path, and slowly opened the outward door. It tapped against something soft, and then…
The door flung open! A soldier stood before me with a cigarette in his mouth and a big gun he needed both hands to hold. “Me miss one.”
The annual field day has pushed me to become an Olympian and the very event I love dawned on me. I leapt up off my good side as if I were competing in the high jump, hooked my arms over his shoulders and brought him down onto his back. If he was not wearing a helmet, I could have cracked his head open. The ruler was still in my hand and I tried to choke him, scratched his throat but he pushed me away. Quickly, I climbed back on top of him and pounded the ruler against his face till it snapped in half.
In the direction I needed to go, another soldier was running over and shot towards me with a handgun, luckily missing because of his horrible aim. Mostly on one leg, I hopped back into the school and used the lockers to speed-limp down the long hall. One fall over Mr. “Tubby” Hubbard, my physical weakness held me down and I struggled to fight a sore surge of paralysis. I continued with a painful crawl around the first corner, the exact moment the soldier entered the building and sprayed bullets down the space between us.
The next hall led to the adjacent wing but had more bodies on the linoleum. Gratefully, a handicap bar took place of lockers due to an odd slope in the floor and it helped me get back on my feet and elevate my pace. The exit I thought of was close but I needed to turn left in the approaching two-direction hallway.
I stumbled again as the bullets chasing me landed into the dead-end of lockers, up to the ceiling and I heard a slump. “Shit!” He must have tripped too. The exit I was counting on was the other soldier’s choice of entrance. A door across the hall was cracked open, so I pushed myself up off the floor and aimed my weight at the knob, crashing hard into another classroom of the departed. Dazed and out of breath, I pulled my legs in and closed the door with my good foot and sat up to lock it.
I looked around the room and instantly cried. Death finally became overwhelming and took my breath away.
The sudden batter at the door launched me across the room and over a sharp sill. A round of ammo split the door in half and I ran for my life. My alternate path home across the athletic field seemed clear. ‘Run, run, run’ was all I could think as I made my way along the front rows of the high bleachers. As I passed the second dividing entrance, I saw another soldier approaching from it. The next aisle wasn’t close and the pain in my hip gave me a good shock and I almost tripped. I looked back and saw the soldier pointing his gun right at me. So, I instantly dropped to the floor, just in time to miss his first rounds and I quickly climbed into the bleachers and crawled towards the parking lot. I could hear his footsteps on my tail between failed shots at me. Skipping through the tangled steel contraption was not easy but I made it to the street before the soldier spotted me again, able to fly into the backyard of a house across the way, barreling into a pair of garbage cans.
On my stomach, I looked ahead and saw a dead body by the rear fence, which was partly torn at. They must have tried to escape the property but caught in action. I stood up and hobbled over to the poor man and pushed him away from what he started. He tried to dig a hole and go under but gave up and tried to snap the plank from the bottom. It took four hits with my shoulder to finish the job, opening the hole enough for most people to fit through.
“Hurry up!” It sounded like the first soldier I dealt with, the one I’m calling Choke.
My heart seized, as if a spirit pulled it out, convinced Choke entered the backyard. I looked back to a lonely area but he was close and the others were probably catching up. An open sliding door lured me away from the wood and back towards the house, stepped in and settled the curtain. Before I could find a hiding spot, the soldiers stopped in the yard and I pressed myself against the closest corner.
“Damn, look what he did.” This man sounded like the last soldier I barely missed, Bleachers. “I’m gonna get ’em!”
“No, let’s go back. We can’t leave the school unattended.” I suppose he was the second soldier I ran into, the one who blocked my other way out of the building, Exit.
I heard a slap and Choke screamed. “Then go bye! Me go for boy.”
“Fine.” Exit spits out. I hear someone walk past the nearby window towards the school and another kick at the fence.
“What about me?” Bleacher complains. “I just want to leave this dump.” He slowly walks off in Choke’s chosen path. Relief eased my heart but intensified the pain in my hip and I dropped to the floor.
Fear is something I must get used to and harness for the numbing effect it provides. Borrowed energy comes with a hefty price on the body but thankfully, there is plenty of food here and I no longer have a headache. Another family’s memories adorn the home and remind me I am still far from my house. The sun is setting and I need to leave but I’m dreading it. With three miles to go, should I leave tonight or wait? Is day or night better to travel during an invasion?
I do not know. I just want to get home.