Between the girls on the playground and the little kids chasing each other it was impossible for a group of guys to get in a soccer game. Our game was stopped once again, this time as Charlie fell flat on his face.
I shot him a look.
“What?” He shrugged at me. “If we had to run they’d all get us killed, you know that right?” It was my turn to shrug. They were just babies and they couldn’t protect themselves. I didn’t expect a guy like Michael to care. I spotted my sister over in the line for the slide and smiled. She stood out from the rest of her group with her raven dark hair up in pigtails. Mom counted on me to watch out for her while we were here.
“They’d only get you killed if you stopped to help them. You give me reason for hope.” I knew it was a lie. I just wasn’t sure what to say to him when he talked this way.
“Hope for what? That I’ll run down little leeches so you’ll have a clear path to safety? If that’s it, you’re right and stick by me.” I wanted to think he was kidding but there was something behind his eyes that chilled me.
I walked away from Michael hoping he’d follow me so I could see what was going on with Charlie. Whispers were starting to become louder, and Charlie was still flat on his face. Jake kneeled on the ground next to him. They weren’t related at all but Jake and Charlie looked like they could be brothers. Both were average size for 14-years-old; short, dark blond hair; brown eyes. Jake looked like his mom with this skin that was golden all year long. It was one a telling difference between the two of them. Charlie was so pale I wasn’t sure how he was able to go outside at all without an instant sunburn.
“What’s going on?” I lowered onto my knee next to Jake after making sure Michael was close by. He stood slightly behind me looking bored.
“Ms. Sarah is getting mom. She should be here soon.” Ms. Sarah was the playground attendant. We liked having her out there because she never paid attention. Every afternoon Ms. Sarah would come out with all us kids, take a seat wherever the shade was best and nap. I started to ask him how she knew but his eyes were glued to Charlie. Jake was looking awfully pale. How does a guy like Jake look pale? Curious, I leaned forward to get a better look and noticed blood had started to pool around Charlie’s face. I bolted to my feet.
Blood wasn’t good.
There were a lot of kids here. The school was reinforced and we had all been taught what to do in cases such as these, or worse, but it was like no one could move. We had to get them out of here.
“Michael, grab groups of these little kids and get them inside. That’s a lot of blood, they shouldn’t be out here.” I started toward the group of guys when I felt him grab my arm. I winced inside ready for the fight that we all knew would happen someday. Why, today?
“If it swarms just stay outta my way, ok?” He pointed in the direction of the field. I laughed. It just bust right out of me.
Nothing. I’m just nervous you know?” I laughed again, this time sounding like an even bigger dork than the first time. Michael was right. If we had a swarm with all these kids out here that fence might not hold. We needed to get them inside.
Michael seemed to decide I wasn’t insulting him. “Ok. I’ll go get the guys. Just remember, I’m gone if they start showing up. I’m not going to be some rotting flesh-bag’s snack.” He headed toward the guys with a “try me and I’ll kick your ass” air about him. I took off for the other side of the playground to get my sister’s group.
Mom told me stories about the days before the rise. People didn’t have to worry about being quiet at night and the only reason one cared about bleeding outside was because bleeding meant you were hurt. I was old enough to know about where babies come from and knew why there were times women stayed inside most of the day.
It attracted the undead.
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