Playing With Markers
by Julie Dawn
I fumbled for a marker. Damn Backpack.
“Hurry up. You’re going to get us busted,” Lila said as she smacked her gum.
“Would you quit that?” I whispered, but it echoed off the graffitied walls. The school had been abandoned when grandfather was young. He won’t talk about it, it’s like asking him about the war. Mom says he was changed by the war, he saw things, and I mustn’t talk about it with him.
A long hallway was the only other entrance into the bathroom we were in—other then the broken window we had entered through. It probably led to the classrooms, decorated with picture books and ABC banners. I thought about my days in elementary school, the conformity—the long hours staring out of the windows—the boredom.
Something moved—banged, rolled?—in the hallway. A can, beer bottle?
Lila elbowed me.
There was no way I had come this far to give up now. Probably a stupid mouse.
Lila elbowed me again.
The bottle clinked against the wall. Vibrations rippled through the abandoned school. The floor beneath our feet moved.
Lila’s hand slid off my arm as she fell to the tiled floor.
I glanced at the hallway, but I couldn’t tell. There didn’t seem to be anybody there. Then I thought I saw a … no. There was nothing. Shit. Mom and Dad had warned me to never go to the old school at the top of the hill, through the forest, and set beside the most gorgeous lake one’s eyes could lay upon, glistening beyond the broken window.
In the doorway, a shadow appeared. It looked like a man, only bigger. Its shoulders blocked the threshold.
“Shit.” Lila climbed to her feet and ran past me, to the broken window, clearing it with one jump.
The shadow raised its chest. When it fell back down, another ripple of vibrations crashed over the room. My weight shifted onto my heels and pushed me back, stumbling, caught against a sink.
Lila screamed out my name. I looked at her, but her eyes led me back to the man—now charging me. He rushed me, full force, and then disappeared. A gust of wind puffed against my face. He vanished right in front of my fucking eyes.
I looked at Lila, but she was gone. I can’t believe she left me. I glanced back at the doorway—nothing. A chill rippled down my spin. I grabbed the straps of my backpack and took a step to leave—run like hell—and then yell at Lila for being such a punk. I took another step, but the weight of the marker in my backpack restrained me—stopped me.
Fuck it. I’m doing it. I can’t believe I just said fuck. Man, mom would kill me if she …. I dug through the bag. Where is it? I pushed maxi pads, pencils, and my phone out of the way and then … there it was. I grabbed the marker, but as my fingers tightened, I felt weird. Whatever. I shook my hands out and pressed the marker against the mirror.
A glass bottle rolled down the hallway.
My throat knotted.
The bottle clinked against the wall.
Julie Dawn grew up in southern Jersey, spending the summers collecting bee stingers in her feet. After graduating from Richard Stockton College, she dipped her toes in the environmental field for a few years, got married, moved to North Carolina, and finally got to become a mom. Four years of living in state parks was enough to make her relocate to the Oregon Coast. Under bright stars, she started writing again, determined to change the world one story at a time.
Yosemite Rising: A Zombie Novel by Julie Dawn
A legend that will change the world.
It’s been 150 years since the Ahwahnee Indians lived where Yosemite National Park now stands. Their last surviving Chief appears to Elizabeth Hutchings, a twenty-year-old biology student, the very day her parents die. Within 24 hours, she too is clinging to life as his whispers echo in her thoughts.
An ancient prophecy has begun. A plague rips through the world’s population, taking everyone and everything she has ever cared about. As agents of a mysterious organization called Meadowlark hunt her, she must find the strength to fight the infected even as she struggles to keep herself alive.
Just when she thinks she can’t go on, a man from her past arrives. He holds the key to understanding the prophecy. If she can unravel its secrets, she not only may change her own fate—but the fate of the entire world.