Kat was proud of few things: her survival skills, ability to read people, and her close bond with her father. But what she liked the most was her reaction time.
Quinn called them 'Animal Instincts.' Kat called them 'Kat-like reflexes.'
So when she saw Jackie drop to the floor with blood gushing from his ripped throat, and Alex lunging for Cameron, Kat reacted.
"FISH, MOVE!" The girl barked, taking two long sprints to reach her friend. She barreled into Cameron's side and shoved him over, placing her own body in the way of Alex's rushing attack.
The screwdriver spun into Kat's hand, and came up right as Alex crashed into her chest.
Kat struggled, her wide stance giving balance as Alex's blackened teeth snapped millimeters away from her nose. His breath reeked of rotting meat and wet garbage, mingled with the metallic scent of fresh blood. Kat could feel that his skin had hardened once more, still peeling away when she twisted her forearms, which were locked against his chubby chest, but not sloughing off like before. Alex was incredibly quiet compared to his shrieking assault on Jackie, but his snarls and spitting growls were enough to give Kat the chills.
Kat let out a feral shout and smashed her elbows up, bending her knees and pushing Alex up and away with all the power coiled in her body. At the last moment, Kat twisted, turning Alex so that he faced away from her and the other students. The decaying teen staggered and stared at the window with confused fury on his face-
Just as Kat slammed the long Phillips screwdriver home in the soft flesh at the base of his skull.
For the milliseconds that it took for the screwdriver to penetrate, Kat felt the skin stretch. It gave way and she felt it slide in like a hot knife into butter, scraping against bone and destroying the cerebrum and cutting into the spinal cord. Instead of disgust, Kat felt fear and elation in equal parts: the fear of her own, callous action, and the thrill of her first kill.
Alex's body dropped to the ground with a thud, making the rest of the class flinch. Cameron got up from the floor on shaky legs, patting his arms and ribs to check for breaks and bone bruises as screams began the erupt in the room. In the midst of the symphony of discordant cries of terror, Kat heard the door slam.
Ms Luther had abandoned the class.
"What do we do?!"
"Kat killed him! She killed him!"
"Jackie isn't breathing, someone help him!"
Jessica, the class president, climbed up on the center lab station and cupped her hands over her mouth. "Guys, calm down!" Everyone but Kat looked to Jessica. "We need to just calm down, and call the office for help. Christi, can you get the intercom up?" Christi nodded and rubbed her eyes with her arm, trying to clear the tears as she shuffled to the button.
"Front office," The girl said in a quavering voice. "One of the students...h-he attacked another. The other student is bleeding badly...the hostile one has been...killed."
Kat knelt and closed Alex's bulging eyes, her mind incredibly calm. She wondered if she was going to enter a state of shock. She didn't want to become some kind of useless burden at a time like this.
The intercom above was radiating static, and the class watched it with terrified hope in their eyes.
A crunching sound, followed by an agonized scream sliced through the silence, nearly shorting out the intercom. Out of frightened reflex, Christi smacked the end call button and cut off the scream as it increased in pitch. It was the sound of someone in pure terror and pain.
"What the fuck is going on?" One of the jocks in the back asked, trying to keep his voice steady through anger.
"Kat." Cameron said quietly. His usually pale face had turned bone white, making his yellow, pink-rimmed eyes stand out. His skinny body was trembling, but he had the steady gaze of someone slowly taking control of their fear. "What's happening?"
As one, a sea of young faces turned toward the crouching teen. Kat didn't look back, but grabbed the screwdriver embedded in Alex's skull and pulled it free with the squeak of bone. She stood and glanced out the window, both wanting and fearing to confirm her suspicion.
It took only quick look to prove that Kat's zombie paranoia wasn't playing a cruel trick.
People were running to and fro in the large courtyard, blood splattering the pavement. Some of them were pale and splashed with large amounts of blood, with large chunks of bite size flesh missing from their limbs. From what Kat could see, it looked like the bloodied ones were trying to make a meal out of her schoolmates.
"Cameron, I need you to gather anything that can be used as a weapon." Kat commanded as turned back from the scene and wiped the slime-covered screwdriver on a paper towel that lay on a lab station. "Get your lacrosse stick from the supply room and the baseball bats that Jackie had."
"Kat, we need and answer." Jessica demanded as she jumped down from her perch. Her voice was sharp, accusing. Kat dimly recalled Jessica and Jackie being in a relationship at one point. "You just killed someone, Jackie is seriously hurt, Alex is dead, and our teacher left."
Unexpected anger welled up, and Kat couldn't help but quirk a faint smile. Anger was good; it meant she wasn't going into shock. "The Herf-Colins Flu has hit the States. Alex had the symptoms." Jessica opened her mouth to speak, but Kat held up a hand. "No time for arguing. I know you all think I'm some zombie obsessed maniac, and you aren't very far off, but right now, just trust me and do as I say."
Cameron nodded. "We will. I'll get the bats and what ever else I can find. Eathon, I need you to put something against the door. If anyone else has their baseball bats with them, start passing them out."
As some of the students stifled their tears and fear long enough to help Cameron search, Kat quietly want over to Jackie's body and closed his eyes. She did this not only out of respect for the dead, but also to hide the blood vessels that were bursting and leaking into the whites of his eyes, a sign of HC flu infection. Jackie wouldn't be so dead soon, and Kat wasn't about to let her classmates witness the traumatizing reanimation process that came with a zombie's undead ascension.
Snatching some rubber gloves from a nearby lab station, Kat pulled them on and grabbed Jackie by the back of his blood soaked shirt. With a grunt, Kat began the long process of towing the body towards the second story window.
Jessica grabbed Kat's shoulder and spun her around roughly, an angry look on her face. "What are you doing?" She demanded, tightening her grip. Kat clenched her teeth as she felt the other girl's nails scrape over her scar and the deep pain as the fingers squeezed. "We should be helping him, not dragging him around like a doll!"
With the back of her hand, Kat shoved Jessica's arm away by pushing against her locked elbow and reversing the hold so that Kat was now grasping the class president's upper arm. The two had never been truly amiable towards each other, despite the fact that they shared several friends. Kat had always thought that Jessica was rather assertive and used the power that her influential position gave her more often than needed.
"It would be best if you did not touch me." Kat said flatly. "I'm not in the mood for your control freak habits right now; I have work to do."
Jessica's expression turned to rage. "You are NOT the boss around here, even if you were the teachers pet! Leave Jackie alone so we can tend to-"
"Jackie is dead, Jessica. I'm getting his body out. I don't want the whole class to hear this, so lean closer." When Jessica tried to yank back and free herself, Kat pulled her in and whispered in her ear, "Jackie is going to turn into what Alex did if we don't get him out that window. I don't know if I can catch him in time without being infected myself, or before he bites someone."
When Kat released her, Jessica's face had softened into a look that was a mix between sadness and quiet, resigned hopelessness. "Alright, just do it quick." She muttered as she went to console a crying girl in the corner.
Kat let out a sigh and rubbed her still tingling scar with her wrist gently before taking her place at her dead friend's shoulders. Jackie had been no small guy in life, and this made his weight was awkward and uneven. She was struggling to get him halfway across the room when the load lessened suddenly.
Glancing over her shoulder, Kat saw Cameron holding Jackie's feet in the air. She shot her friend a small, grateful smile and hoisted the dead boy up under his arms. Together, they walked the body to the half open window and were about to lift him up to push him through when Kat felt a sudden surge of blood in the Auxiliary artery under Jackie's arm.
He was reanimating.
Jackie's eyes snapped open, and Cameron reflexively dropped his legs and stepped back. Kat quickly wrapped her arm around Jackie's throat and closed off his airway before he could let out any sound to alert the class that there was another undead in the room, then grabbed his chin.
'I really hope this works.' Kat mumbled to herself, and twisted sharply, throwing her body weight while jerking her arms in the same direction.
There was a muffled crunch, and the freshly-made zombie went limp. The girl holding him let out a quiet sign of relief, and nodded to Cameron. He shakily picked up Jackie's feet again and they fed his body out. Alex's remains followed shortly after.
"We got everything that we could find." Cameron reported as he shakily pulled his gloves off and walked Kat over to a lab table covered in makeshift weapons. "There's uh...a few baseball bats, about six. Two wooden broomsticks, but I think we could snap them in half if we have to. I found a foot long crowbar, and pulled out your tool bag, thought you could go through it."
Kat hugged Cameron with one arm quickly, trying to convey her thanks and concern in the movement. "You did good, Fish. You're thinking like me." Noticing his tremors and his paper white skin, Kat gently pushed him towards the sink. She knew that face. "Go on, Fish boy. Empty your guts."
"Thanks." He wheezed, doubling over and vomiting violently in the sink.
Kat unzipped her tools as she soothingly rubbed Cameron's back with one hand, pulling out two hammers, several long screwdrivers and a small saw. The brooms would have to be split to give at nearly all the kids in the class a weapon of some kind. A quick glance around showed that two of the boys had retrieved their own bat bags and were handing out their spares like Cameron had ordered.
Nearly everything was in order. It was almost time to leave.
"Hey! Everyone, listen up!" Kat yelled, putting her best marching band voice to use. The din quieted as eyes turned. "If there is anything at all you want to bring with you, maybe a keepsake from home that you brought in your backpack, some food, or water, you need to empty everything from your backpack and dump the junk. Keep only precious items and necessities, leave EVERYTHING ELSE."
As the class began rummaging around and collecting their things, Cameron rose from the sink and washed his mouth out. He looked much better, besides his usual pale skin and skinny frame. "I gotta get my journal." He mumbled, shuffling away. "Can't leave it..."
Cameron had always kept a journal. Kat could always recall the first time she saw him, scribbling block letters in a composition book in their second grade classroom. No matter where he was, he had that book, and Kat wasn't surprised when he said he was bringing it.
With everything moderately under control, Kat dumped her backpack and repacked it with a few scalpel blades, a small bottle of iodine, and some basic Band-Aids. Her lunch followed soon after, along with a picture of her friends, a full water bottle, and the tiny penknife she always carried.
"Once you all finish, grab a weapon and group up!" Kat called, tightening the rather flat backpack on her shoulders and picking up an aluminum baseball bat. It felt rather odd to not have twenty pounds of books pulling her down. "If you are riding solo, good luck to you! It's pure chaos out there and it isn't going to die down any time soon, so think fast and DON'T. GET. BIT. Once that door opens, anything and everything will come in, so-"
A violent, hacking cough interrupted Kat's speech. One of the girls that had come in with a headache was doubled over and spraying blood on the floor, her eyes red and her hand clutching her throat.
"GET BACK!" Cameron suddenly roared, shoving kids away from the turning student with his lacrosse stick. Kat was surprised by the ferocity and power her usually scrawny friend had suddenly acquired. Was he the same boy that she just comforted as he threw up in a sink? "SHE'S GONE, MOVE!" His amber eyes locked with Kat's. "GET THEM MOVING!"
Kat nodded and circled her hand in the air, "LETS GO! OUT, OUT, OUT! GET YOUR WEAPON AND GET. OUT!"
Streams of terrified students flooded past, all cramming for the door as another teen dropped to the ground in convulsions. Black froth smeared the tiles he flopped on like splattered paint.
"Fish! Fish, stay with me!" Kat yelled, vaulting over the lab table and grabbing her friend's arm. Together, they stumbled out onto the second floor outdoor hall with the rest of their class.
When Kat glanced up, she swore she was walking into the gates of Hell.