The day the world ended was the same day that I was taking the ACT. My pencil slipped out of my sweaty palm as I fired through math problems. I was just bubbling in the answer to question five when a slow rumble built up from the ground. I looked up to see heads bent over tests, so I buried my nose again. Then the room jumped. My head hit the stone cold ground and the desk fell on top of me.
“What’s going on?!”
Several girls screamed.
“Everyone remain calm!” The room advisor’s shook. We turned to her looking for answers, but her eyes were full of fear and confusion.
She walked to the window and looked outside. When she turned back around, the fear was gone. “It was just a little earthquake. I’m sure the building is stable. We will resume testing so that we can get it over with and go home.” She smiled straightening her hair.
“What about the earthquake? Won’t there be more tremors?” The kid behind me asked.
“If there are, they will be minor.” The room filled with the scraping of desks as we got to our feet and got back into position. The advisor’s heels clicked as she walked up and down the aisles straightening up our papers.
“Will we get more time because of the earthquake?” The kid behind me asked.
“I will check the testing instruction booklet and see if there is anything about earthquakes. For now, just assume the answer is no.”
The scratching of pencils began again and I started the next problem. I tried to focus, but my throat was dry and my hands were shaking. My answer didn’t match any of the multiple choice. I glanced up at the clock. Twenty minutes were left in the math section. I circled a random answer.
As the clock ticked on, the anxiety in the room grew. Everyone was braced for an aftershocks that never came.
Just as the advisor called time on the math section an ear splitting scream pierced the air. I jumped up. The scream spiked my heart rate, driving me over the edge. I had to get away from it.
I ran to the door. I could just take the ACT another time. I was only a junior after all. Blood pounded in my ears. I felt eyes follow me as I fled. I barreled down the steps and tripped on the last two. The screaming was getting louder. I jumped to my feet and immediately crumbled. My ankle throbbed beneath me. I was pretty sure that it was broken.
The screaming was getting closer. The pain in my ankle was nothing compared to the liquid fear pumping through my veins. I grabbed the railing and hauled myself to my feet. I could see the door just feet away from me. The sun outside was shining blindingly bright. I just had to make it out that door.
I took a step. Dark spots blotted the hallway. I leaned against the railing willing my vision to come back. When it finally did I saw the screamer. She, it must have been a she at one point because the shoes were bright pink, was reaching towards me with a raw, red hand. It was like her skin had been peeled away revealing blood red muscles. Her hair was thin not entirely concealing her bald spots. Her face was an indiscernible mess of molten flesh.
I bolted. My ankle rolled as I pushed out of the school doors. Collapsing onto the grass I breathed in the fresh spring air and choked. It felt like I was being burned alive. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. The heat was blustering. I felt my skin bursting into blisters. I would’ve screamed if I had, had any air to use.
I forced my eyes open and through the ashen, debris filled air, I saw the girl inside the school running away from the door. This was why she was screaming.