How the zombie apocalypse started – 1

Village north of Bangkok, Thailand

It was afternoon, and the primary school ejected children who were eager to get home to their Mothers. The majority of the parents weren’t there to collect them, this wasn’t an area where child molesters and monsters hid in the bushes. Parents had to work, and children quickly learnt how to fend for themselves. The kids were free to run and play so long as they were home when expected.

No, the only monsters here were the ones rapidly growing, disguised in the form of innocent six and seven-year-olds. Most of the children were already infected but were too early in the life of the virus to show any real symptoms. But two had been taken ill towards the end of the last class and had been sent to the school nurse.

Then all shit had broken loose.

Many of the boys stopped to watch the police car, its lights blaring as it parked outside the school gates. So many of them looked on in awe as two hardened men got out, tired and hot from their day’s duties. This was not the sort of call they were used to, the primary school rarely giving them cause for concern. Normally they spent their days dealing with drunken husbands and stopping fights. Even the occasional murder was handed to them when they were unlucky enough.

It was an abberation to hear about children going insane and attacking grown adults.

Police Corporal Anuwat looked at the front of the school, noticing the teacher waiting impatiently. In the distance, the sound of an ambulance could be heard getting ever closer. The report that had come over the radio had been about children attacking members of staff. One had even been bitten of all things.

Violent children? What was the world coming to?

“Thank you for coming,” the teacher said, giving the usual respectful Thai greeting.

“What exactly has happened?” Anuwat asked. Even though he had been at work for several hours, his uniform was crisp and pristine despite the sweat under the armpits. It wouldn’t be pristine for long.

He listened to the teacher’s story with suspicious ears. Sometimes these schools used less than humane methods to teach the children. Teach? Perhaps indoctrinate was a better word. Anuwat would not tolerate many things, and hitting children was right at the top of the crimes he would not abide.

The teacher told a tall tale of two children, brother and sister, falling ill in the same class and being taken to the nurse. All the teacher knew was that they then attacked the nurse before she had managed to lock them in a room together.

“How old are the children?”

“Seven,” replied the teacher. He didn’t like dealing with the police. Some of them were corrupt, more interested in filling their wallets than solving actual crimes. They also had a habit of talking to you as if you were the guilty party.

“Take us to them,” Anuwat said, nodding to his partner. At that moment the ambulance arrived, paramedics charging out. This was likely what the teacher was really concerned about. Somebody was going to have to pay for that ambulance ride. Would it be the school? It would depend on who was injured, Anuwat supposed.

The teacher led them inside and along a thin corridor. Most of the pupils had now left, but some lingered to see what the police were doing. There was possible excitement about to happen. Would there be a gunfight? Would people be arrested and dragged from the school in handcuffs? Many of the children imagined their most hated teachers bloodied and bruised as they were taken away never to return.

The ambulance staff waited outside whilst the police made sure the situation was safe for them. Corporal Anuwat really didn’t get paid enough for this sort of thing. The low wages were allegedly used as an excuse for the existence of police corruption. By taking bribes, it was said, the police could be paid less and thus fewer taxes would need to be collected. It seemed like lunacy if you thought about it too long.

It also helped that the police invariably left the middle and upper classes alone, preying on those who had no power and no voice in Thai society. Unless the middle class broke the law of course, and then the bribes would be substantially larger.

Everyone knew the rules.

Anuwat heard the woman crying and turned the corner at the end of a corridor to find the nurse being comforted by what was most likely another teacher. The nurse’s left hand was wrapped up, blood soaking through the towel. She was sat in a small waiting room with a red door at the opposite end to the one Anuwat had entered through. The waiting room was in disarray.

“Where are the children?” Anuwat asked. His intuition told him this wasn’t an incidence of child abuse. The demeanour of the nurse and her injuries were all wrong for that. Before anyone could answer, something slammed into the other side of the red door. With her good hand, the nurse pointed to the door. The hand shook nervously, the trauma still having an impact on her.

“Be careful,” she said. “I think they have both gone insane.”

“Show me,” Anuwat ordered and the nurse unwrapped her hand. The female teacher took this opportunity to leave the room, her support no longer needed. The Police Corporal looked at the child like bite marks on the hand, a significant lump of flesh missing from the meat just under the thumb.

“I left them alone to get them something to drink, they looked so ill. I was only gone for ten minutes. And when I came back, they both jumped on me. I think I might have hurt one of them.” She brought her hands together in a praying motion. “Please forgive me.”

Anuwat’s partner donned some leather gloves that had been shoved into his belt.

“Forgiveness will come later, if indeed there is anything to forgive. You have the key?” Anuwat was referring to the key to the door that imprisoned the two children, the lock clearly visible. The nurse rummaged in her top pocket and handed it to the senior officer. She then wrapped her hand back up. “There are paramedics outside. You should go to them, if you can afford it.”

“The school will pay,” said the teacher who had met the officers at the front of the school. “Come,” he said to the nurse, and the two left leaving the officers alone.

“I do not like this,” Anuwat’s partner said. He pressed his fingers against the amulet hidden by his uniform.

“You and your ghosts,” Anuwat mocked.

“This room is filled with spirits. I can feel them. There is evil here.”

“No, there are children, and we need to get them under control.” Taking the key, he walked over to the door and placed it in the lock. That brought a sustained barrage of fists on the other side of the portal, stronger impacts than he would have expected from a seven-year-old. He heard a holster latch being released, and his partner drew his gun. “Are you serious?” Anuwat admonished.

“It could be rabies,” his partner said. That gave Anuwat pause. There had been a case three villages to the east last year. He nodded his head in contemplation, then donned his own gloves.

“Even so, put your gun away. If you can’t handle a child, you shouldn’t be in the job.” The partner hesitated, and then holstered his firearm. “Better. I will open the door a fraction so I can see what is happening.” It opened towards him and, putting his weight against it, he turned the key. The door shuddered as if something large and heavy had been thrown at it. Anuwat turned the handle. Instantly pressure from the other side forced the door open, but he was able to control it.

The smell hit them. Anuwat knew it instantly, death and human waste. Now he feared what he would find inside. “Whoever is on the other side is strong.” Before he could look inside, a small arm thrust through clawing at the air.

“The child is possessed,” Anuwat’s partner said.

“I will open the door, and you grab him.” From the limited view he had of the room, he had seen the girl was lying motionless on the floor. It was the boy who was intent on escaping. The ferocity of the child was unprecedented. There was blood all over the girl’s arm.

“I’m ready,” his partner said.

“Be careful. I suspect this child is on something. PCP. I’ve seen it before. Seen a man punch through a plate glass window.”

“Where would a child get PCP?”

“Who knows what a child finds. Are you ready?” Anuwat’s partner nodded. He released the door. They both expected the child to come charging out, but it didn’t. Instead, the boy stood there looking almost confused, his tiny mouth stained with blood. It was the eyes that shocked both officers. They were black.

Closer examination would actually show the colour was more a very dark red, caused by blood accumulating in the eyeballs. In that instant though, they were the windows to the pits of hell. Then the child groaned, it’s head jerking in what would become a tell-tale signature of the returned.

The next ten seconds would play through Anuwat’s mind for the rest of his short life. The two officers, on seeing the eyes and the unnatural movements, had backed up more out of pure survival instinct than anything. The child had stepped forward, its gait shaky, as if the legs weren’t working properly.

Anuwat’s partner withdrew his gun again, fear overwhelming the man’s rational mind. The partner would later claim, whilst drunk, that the boy was possessed, most likely by Phi Tai Hong, a vengeful and restless spirit. That was why he had felt compelled to fire, to save Anuwat who the demon suddenly surged towards.

Anuwat had been surprised by the speed and the wildness of the child and had stepped back further only to lose his footing. That was why he had fallen, allowing the little boy to jump upon him. Despite the size disparity, the tiny form seemed to possess the strength of a beast and Anuwat struggled to keep him at bay, blood and spittle falling from the child’s mouth onto his face. The bodily fluids that suddenly splattered him as his partner shot the zombie in the head most certainly passed the infection on. Despite the shower he would take later, Anuwat felt he would never get his skin clean again. Several days later, there would be no rational mind to worry about such things.

Another chance to learn of the virus was lost, another warning of what was to come missed. The boy’s sister had also turned, but when the nurse had fought her off, the young girl had fallen and cracked her skull sufficiently to kill whatever was left of the reanimated brain. The impact on her left temple against the corner the table had been enough to end her. The mystery of why the children became violent would be investigated eventually, but public health officials would soon be swamped by a crisis that made the death of two happy, playful children completely inconsequential.

Briefly though, there would be tales about the two young lives lost, and how, on closer inspection, it was clear that the boy had tried to eat the flesh of his dead sister.

Those who returned were not averse to consuming the flesh of their own.

 

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