Darkness begins to fall softly over the town, like a thin fog gently rolling into even the most hidden of corners. A sympathetic pitter-patter of falling rain drops splash against the single-paned window. I lean my head against the cool glass and almost as if out of spite, a leak begins to form. The windows do not shut properly.
I remember a song. It’s an old song but it fits my mood and situation perfectly. If my friends were sitting beside me I would tell them my song. But their bus would have been and gone. In their place, a younger boy sits. Maybe he’s in the youngest year, I’m not sure. New children seem to appear every day.
I watch him out of the corner of my eye as he slowly disintegrates a small piece of rubber. Then very carefully he gathers the rubbings together, reaches over and sprinkles them lovingly over the girl in front. I shift in my sit, unzipping my coat and making sure that my prefect badge is clearly on show.
He notices the badge. I know he’s seen it because he grins sheepishly and turns away pretending not to have noticed. He does nothing about the rubbings. I sigh heavily. I don‘t turn back to stare out of the window. Instead I take to staring at the other students in the room. I realise that I need to break away from this habit.
There are not many other people in the room. It looks as if there are only half of us than there usually is. Around fifteen or sixteen students appear to have congregated for the bus tonight. Something could be preventing them getting on, maybe something happened to them during school hours or perhaps they just didn’t turn up for school altogether. That sometimes happens on the Luna Day. Parents get too scared.
In fact, as the hours run past and the streets become infected most parents decide that their children are better off at home. Yes of course, because children can learn so much from television. I guess they might learn all they need to know from The News. Tomorrow morning, for example, everyone around the world will be switching on, tuning in and gathering around a television to find out just how much damaged was caused. Just how many new people will there be converted?
My mind jumps back into reality as the classroom door squeaks open. A teacher enters the room slowly. His face is a deathly white, but his eyes are very much alive. The room is silent. The fidgeting has stopped; everyone awaits the teacher to announce our bus number. But it never comes. He opens his mouth slowly, draws in a slow, murderous breath and moves his eyes straight to me.
Oh God. I know what he’s about to tell us.
“Bus ten; I’m afraid that your bus has been delayed by twenty minutes. Unfortunately something, beyond our control, has happened and we need to students here to join the last four reminding busses in the assembly hall.”
I raise my hand gradually; half of me wishing that he won’t see my hand.
“Do you know who it was?” I ask quietly.
A quick, sharp intake of air echoes the room. I close my eyes briefly. If he doesn’t tell me now, I’ll find out at home. Maybe, and I hope, he’ll think it’s kinder to tell me at home.
“A Lunette was sneaking onto a bus. We don’t know if she knew she was infected or if she had been planning this attack for the past twenty-nine days,” he started quietly. Clearing his voice he continued, “As she got onto the bus, she fell ill and grabbed the closest person. He was infected as well. He managed to infect most of the bus. We don’t know if anyone wasn’t infected. It was a risk no one was brave enough to take … it would have been quick... for all of them.”
A shocked and stilled silence poured over the students, one by one. My insides froze with fear. I couldn’t bring myself to look at any other student for tears had threatened to evacuate my body.
“The primary Lunette was Louise Ohio and the secondary Lunette was Matthew Judd.”
I heard a soft sobbing. Looking up, the girl whose hair was covered in rubbings was rocking slowly backwards and forwards in her chair. Tears dropped silently and effortlessly onto the table. The girl beside her wrapped her arms around the shaking child and held her tightly. She looked up and met my eyes.
“Matthew was her friend,” she said, her voice cracking, tears beginning to slide down her own face. “And he was my brother.”
I looked away. I could see the burning bus sitting heavily on the road. My brain felt numb with shock. The infection was spreading like the fire inside the bus and now it had taken Louise, my oldest friend.
That’ll give the parents something to watch on the television tomorrow; at least fifty students’ dead and half of them not infected: Murderers.
Won’t they be delighted their children didn’t come to school?
This is a story I wrote for A-Level English Literaure, about six years ago.