art by Stephen James Kiniry
Classroom of the Living Dead
by James Van Pelt
They came for me on a Monday morning when I was too exhausted to hear the backdoor caving in. Only when their hands were on me did I realize that all was lost, but the dead didn't consume me. They dragged me out of the house, shambled the three blocks to the school, holding me tight in their rotted hands, shuffling in that loose-limbed, broken way that they had, until they'd pulled me up the stairs, through the front doors with their glass knocked out, down the hall strewn with books and abandoned backpacks, until we came to my room.
Here, too, windows were broken, and the Venetian blinds hung askew. Morning sun slanted through the uneven slats. They pushed me toward my podium. I clung to the top, sick with fear. When would they kill me? Would I become like them?
They stumbled against the desks, former students, all of them: Daniel, who used to play his guitar at lunch; Lisa, with her pierced lip and blue-dyed hair; Landon, who read manga and drew big-breasted girls in the back of his notebooks, all my students. They bumped into the chairs, moaning low in their throats, until they were sitting, a terrible parody of the class they once had been.
What did they want, with their white-washed eyes and bruised faces? They looked at me, blank-faced, but ravenous, expectant somehow. Hands gripped the sides of their desks. A breeze stirred a loose paper on the windowsill.
Finally, Joselyn, a girl who used to look like she ran a brush through her long, brunette hair a thousand strokes before she came to class, raised her hand, her hair a knotted mess now, her blouse torn and stained. She raised her hand and waited.
"Yes, Joselyn," I squeaked.
She opened her mouth, and for a while nothing came except a strangled gasping, until she forced the word: "Braaaiiins." Her hand dropped with a thud. "Braaaiiins."