𝕿𝖍𝖎𝖗𝖙𝖊𝖊𝖓

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AS I come into awareness of my surroundings, I realise I'm standing outside a classroom. I look at the person shouting in my face and it's my teacher. And yup, she does not look one bit happy...

"Dean!" she clicks her fingers in my face.

"Yeah?"

"Did you not take into account anything I just said?"

I look at her, muddled.

"Dean," she sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose, "have you been getting enough sleep lately?"

'Sleep'. I laugh on the inside. I wish this was about sleep. Regardless, all I'm witnessing now is false. My mind constructing everything from my memories. Assembling make-believe scenarios, scenarios that remind me of the days I took for granted, and will never get back. It's amazing how a human brain can do this. It's a miracle.

"I don't know..." Ms Mills is unconvinced. "Maybe I should call your mum. Maybe that way-"

"No!" I intercept. "I mean, look, it's just stress...about...I'm getting a bunch of holiday homework for the upcoming exams and I just...I don't how I'm gonna finish it all in time. That's all."

Just being back here at school - in these circumstances - is refreshing. I miss it really, and to have it wasted by Ms Mills phoning my mum is plain stupid. I hate what life is at the moment. Those lurkers, Mum, people I know dying right in front of me. It's just here, in my dream, everything is fine. If I can't go back to the way things once were then I won't take this mirage for granted - however lame that may sound.

"I know," Ms Mills supportively nods. "You just need to have a routine, a set time to do something and you do it."

"'Routine'," I fake-smile, "got it."

"And if you really need to talk, we do have a counselor at the school," she adds, still skeptical.

Pfft, a counselor is the last thing I need right now. "Thank you, Ms. Much appreciated."

"Now please Dean, at least try, if not, pretend to focus, alright?" she gives me a weary smile.

I nod and we head back into the classroom.

~~~~

Break time.

"No mate, I'm telling you, you should have seen yourself!" Bray chuckles.

"Bro your fault!" I feel embarrassed. "You had me gone raving on about that zombie shit, at least give-a-mate-a-warning, sheesh."

"Dude don't pin this shit on me. I told you like a thousand times to shut your trap!" He recalls something and burst out into laughter. "But-but-but that part where you told Sam to get back inside was-hahahahahaha!"

"Fuck off, man," I throw punches at him.

"Okay, okay," he shields himself. "I'll stop!"

When the joke dies out Bray's like, "so..."

"What?" I look at him.

"So......" he has his eyebrows raised.

"I don't have fucking telepathy. What is it?"

"When exactly are you gonna get her number?" he finally says.

"What number?" I go all red. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Haha, hilarious," he nudges me. "Ella's, dude, c'mon."

"Huh?"

Bray exhales frustratedly, "I, for one, practically see you drool over her. Just get it done already. Man, I'm tired of your infatuated stares."

"I'm not 'infatuated' with her," I scowl.

"Mhmm, keep telling yourself that."

"...But, like, is it that obvious?"

He chuckles, "dude hella obvious. You're lucky Carmen hasn't noticed or else even Louis Pasteur," he says in a funny French accent, "will know about it."

Breaks over, meaning Health class is next.

****

"Wake up lovebirds, time to get planning!" Jace throws a paper plate at me like it's a frisbee.

'Lovebirds'? The hell?

I open my eyes, feeling somewhat fresh. My right arm is numb and that's when I discern why Jace said what he said. Ella. She had fallen asleep next to me. She wakes up and mouths, "sorry," with an apologetic expression before shifting away.

~~~~

"We need to head to the city," I announce.

"But don't you think that's a bad idea," Amber questions, "with it being urbaner and all?"

"It is but those lurkers are closing in on us. They are like a massive tsunami. We can't go over, under, around or through it," I assert.

"Um, we can wait here till it passes?" Carmen suggests.

"We could but it's too risky. Even if we were quiet-"

"One wrong move and we're better off dead," Bray reads my mind.

"Right," Ella agrees. "We could find help or other survivors there too?"

We nod.

"We go to the city so then what?" Jace thinks ahead whilst still behind.

"So higher ground," I answer. "The herd will pass through and we get back here - simple."

"City we go then," he concurs.

And city we do go.

...Although when is anything ever 'simple'?

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