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Just a minibus full of zombies

Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay 

In some ways Wren Daley was an unlikely leader. But in times of Apocalypse, needs must. She kicked back from her desk and pulled on her hi vis vest, over a ratty long-sleeved t-shirt. Then she did a final pocket check of her cargo trousers: one plastic bag with £40, to pay for the group’s entrance fee today; taser, pepper spray, zip ties – all for the group, though please Lord let her not have to use them; risk assessment form; keys to the minibus.

“All-righty,” she said, with a fake American twang.  “Let’s make this a day to remember, hoo boy!”

She cowgirl swaggered her way over to her office door, and out into the school’s corridor, holding her loose trousers up by the belt loops as she did so.

Wren closed her office door and sighed gently as she laid her hand on the splintered wood, saying a silent prayer that her office would be untouched and in order when she got back. This office, all of her own, was for sure the best perk of being Head Girl at this nerve rattling school. Then she tightened her ponytail, and set off at a jog, zigzagging through the crumbling corridors, out the main door, and across the scrubby yard to where the rusted blue minibus was parked.

As agreed with Ms Carter, the Headmistress, the bus was pre-loaded with her charges. She counted them off through the window – one, two…three, four…five, six juniors, all looking her way, in various heightened states.

Benton was pounding on the window with a crusty fist and shouting…..“Hiiiiiiiiit iiiiiiiit!”

Jessa was sat in the seat behind him, twisting as far round to the window as far she could in her restraints, while grinning so hard you could almost see her entire black mouth guard.

The juniors were EXCITED.

Wren felt a flutter of something good in her chest, before the crushing pressure of leading this trip wrapped back around her lungs.

“Coming!” she called, her face tight, her armpits sweaty. She jogged to the bus, up the steps, and paused at the top of them to salute Seymour Flint, the grouchy maintenance man for the school. He was sat in the front seat, chin tucked, arms folded, bald head shining in the bright July sunlight. He eyed her high vis vest. “It’s bloody daytime.”

“You’re right,” Wren said. “Thanks for…” she fanned an arc with her hand, indicating all the juniors loaded in and strapped into their seats. She ticked off the top six boxes on the risk assessment form. It was a joke, a sick one, having to restrain them still. The juniors were no longer lethal. You could get a shot to guard against their…condition. She’d been vaccinated. The Headmistress had been vaccinated. Seymour had been vaccinated…she assumed.

He clocked her studying him, and jutted his chin at her. “Let’s see how you drive then.’

Great.

The answer was… timidly. Badly? Slowly. Jerkily. With fierce concentration. And she hadn’t even reversed back enough to turn around.

“Use your mirrors,” Seymour grunted.

“Allrighty!”

Nope. The mirrors were covered in moss and bird shit. She went back to craning over her shoulder, trying to ignore the ecstatic waving of Benton as he continued to yell, “Hiiiiiiiiit iiiiiiiit!”

Holy Smackeroley, was having her own office worth this? Her head was pounding. She crunched the bus into first and took off down the rutted track, wincing at the roar of the engine, combined with the combined roar of six juniors. Thunders meets rockfall, blasting her ears. Hoo boy.

Wren rubbed her neck, then gripped the steering wheel with both hands again. Becoming zombies had ground down the juniors’ powers of articulation, but not their volume, that was for sure.

“OI! OI!” Seymour yelled, adding to the noise blast. At the juniors? At her driving? Hard to tell. She hunched forward, doing her best to ignore him, and crawled the minibus out onto the main road that led to Landfish.

She could do this. So far there was not another vehicle on the road. She just had to hold her line. She reminded herself that the Headmistress trusted her over Seymour, saying, ‘You’ve got a steady pair of hands, and a steady head. Mr Seymour, now he’s handy with a hammer, but a little too partial to the homebrew.’ She’d given Wren a conspiratorial elbow squeeze.  And with that her orders as Head Girl were sealed. Drive the van, give the juniors a school trip to remember, bring everyone back in one piece. And don’t disgrace the school

Judging by the sign they’d just passed it was only 6 miles to Landfish. At the speed she was driving, that would take…who knew? Half an hour? An hour? Time to start some singing, no matter what looks Seymour shot her way. She tried the radio. Static. So, she called out, with as much volume as she could muster (not much), “Who wants to sing the school song?”

YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSS.

The sound wave rolled throughout the bus and smacked her around the head. Her shoulders bunched. She checked her rear-view. Six ecstatic juniors bobbed and rocked in their seats, straining against their rope restraints, swaying in and out of time, pounding the window in and off the beat, roaring ‘United we stand.’ It was a touching, ear bleeding moment.

Touching at first, but five miles in and with one more long, slow mile to go (is this what the engine was meant to sound like?) Wren was grateful for the attention interrupter that was a hitchhiker, stood at the side of the road. The juniors stopped their singing to roar their HELLLOOOOS through the window, and smack their scabby palms and foreheads against the glass. Wren clocked the hitchhiker throwing his arms out, like he’d been shot, then hurling himself into a nearby clump of bushes. Wren tutted. The juniors were loud, but that was still an over-reaction. They weren’t going to eat him. Or turn him, if he was vaccinated.

Wren chewed her thumbnail, then gripped the steering wheel again with both hands. Please let the Landfish staff be nice. They’d made it clear that they’d be in a separate room, watching through the glass. At least this meant that the juniors could explore unrestrained.

By the time that they pulled into Landfish’s empty car park, Wren had aged five years, and sweated a litre. She turned off the screeching engine, leaned forward and pulled her shirt away from her back.

“We’re here!”

YAAAAAAAAAASSSS. The junior crowd went wild, thrashing in their seats like happy fish, who’d been tied in place.

As agreed with the Headmistress, Ms Carter, Wren went to coordinate with the Landfish staff, while Seymour dealt with untying the seat restraints, and then lightly roping the group into a crocodile to get them across the carpark.

“I know it offends your delicate sensibilities,” Ms Carter had said. “So let Seymour be Seymour, and you can go work your little Wren magic on the staff. They’ll love you. You’re so…non-threatening.”

Well, so far, their faces were showing no signs of loving her. But they had taken the money and handed over 8 tickets to Landfish in return. And pointed Wren in the direction of the main room, marked EXHIBITS.

“Let us know when you’re ready, and we’ll unlock the gift shop,” said one sour-faced barrel of a man.

Giftshop?

“Oh, I don’t think we’ll be needing the gift shop,” Wren said, cursing that they didn’t have more cash. As it was, it had taken 6 months of roadside bake sales to make the £40.

“You don’t want the young uns to go in the gift shop? It’s the best part!” He smoothed his navy blue Landfish polo shirt over his paunch, shrugged and said, “Most schools who come buy a prize from the gift shop and give it to the kid who writes up the best report.”

Wren shifted in place, her ears picking up the sounds of the juniors shuffling across the carpark. A bribe could be good. A little incentive to get them to pay attention.  “Uhhhh…do you offer…credit?”

The man pulled out a little notebook.

“Name?”

“Wren Daley.”

*

Wren Daley. Headgirl. Successful leader of a school trip for junior zombies. Headgirl who now has a lock on the top drawer of her office desk (courtesy of Seymour Flint). And in that very locked drawer are six Landfish trip reports, that will never be spoken of again. Or showed to Miss Carter.

*

NAME: BENTON (TRIP REPORT FOR LANDFISH)

Landfish was ok. But the best part was the bus. We broke down on the way back. The engine was making a weird noise, like WAAAAAEEEEEEE. WAAAAAEEEEEE. It set on fire. A lot of smoke. Like when you set a body on fire. And it smelled so bad. I could smell it from my seat.

But Mr Seymour and Wren yelled at each other til they got it fixed. I could not see it all as they had the bonnet up. But I heard a lot of BAD WORDS. It was the best trip.

 

NAME: JESSA

I did not like the Landfish exhibition, but I do want the prize. I refused to put my mouthguard in for the trip back until Wren told me what the prize was. So now I know. And I want it. Thank you.

I deserve the pencil case, and the sharpener and the pencils and the ruler and all the other things that will help me be an even better student. I paid attention. I was quiet. I can tell you all the boring facts. But Wren says no more than half a page.

These are my facts.

  1. According to the stupid panel board many things happened evolutionarily up until now. Survival of the fittest. Fish turned into monkeys. And then monkeys turned into humans. (If I have got this wrong it is because their artwork was so bad. I could do better than them. With the new pencil set.)
  2. Science is good for making vaccines. But humans are still pretty stupid.
  3. Us juniors are mutants. We got the virus bad, when no-one thought we could get it.
  4. Landfish ran out of info panels before they could really finish things up good, but us juniors will be the survivors on their final boards.  We will be the survivors, and the oldies will be the weakest. (Sorry Wren. I will miss you. When you die. Like, in the future.)

 

NAME: IZZY

It was so great to get out of school.

The best part was when Mr Seymour punched that guy. Through the glass.

The guy was shaking Wren, and yelling and spitting right in her face that Benton was a shoplifter.

Wren said he wasn’t. Check his pockets.

And the man said, “I’m not going anywhere near that zomboid freak!”

And he shook Wren again.

And Wren was choking that he was a very rude man.

And we were yelling.

And Mr Seymour went bright red. All his head too. Like a red police light.

And then he crashed his hand through the window, like a hammer.

At the time, I did cry a little bit. But then on the bus on the way back Benton explained to me how great it all worked out. Just like in our school song. Wren stood for him. And Mr Seymour stood for Wren. And…Ok, he was right. I started singing, and soon the whole bus sang too. It was excellent.

 

NAME: CLINTON

We should do more school trips. Like every week. It is good for our education. And to socialise. We need to inform the public about our school. For example, that man we saw by the road, with the backpack, and also the Landfish owner. We behaved very well. Wren told us so. We do not need roping though. I am not a fan of that.

 

NAME: LOLA

I have never written a trip report before, and Wren’s office door is locked so I cannot ask her for more instructions. (I think she is sleeping. I hope that she is not dead.)

I liked that Wren gave a very good speech about how violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is. That we should never break the glass, like Mr Seymour. But if someone is being shaken and cannot reach to unbutton their pockets and get to their taser and pepper spray, then sometimes you do what you do. But that is the end of it. And NO, no-one else is allowed a go of the taser and the pepper spray.

And you don’t speak of it all again.

Maybe I should not be writing it?

But that is not speaking.

I would like to be a speaker though and give speeches. I think I will do that in my future.

 

NAME: MARSHALL

I found some of the trip a bit stressful, as I had not been on a bus since I turned. And the last time I was in a vehicle it was an ambulance, and I thought I was going to die. I could not breathe, and my body was so hot.

Wren told me she was proud of me for sharing that with her, when I was on a Timeout in the corner of the exhibit room. (I flashed my nipples at Benton, after she’d already told me to stop doing it. She said that we had to make the school proud. Not be flashing our bodies.)

Wren told me that she was giving me special trust, and gave me some zip ties, and showed me how I could link them to make a bracelet.  It came out ok. I am going to give it to Benton.

I would actually like to do another minibus trip.  Thank you.

 

Week 26

There are so many things that interest me about zombies (way more so than vampires). I wrote about one zombie back in week 12.

This week I was thinking about a group of them, and a school trip. I was also remembering the horrors of one school minibus trip where the music teacher (who was driving) was such a bad driver that he kept mounting the kerb. The more he did so, the more everyone in the bus screamed, and the more stressed he got. It was a particular circle of hell.

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