I know I probably shouldn't be starting another story while I'm heading on in to Finals week, and while I'm currently writing another story, but I couldn't get this plot out of my head. Hopefully everyone enjoys it! I'm also sure I have plenty of tense issues since I wrote this in past tense and then went through and changed it last-minute and I'm sure I missed some verbs, so I apologize in advance for that!
1. Time For School
If someone had asked Will Schuester what his idea of the End of the World was, back when he was still living with Terri, he would have said losing her. That was the kind of man that he was. Sure, Terri could be selfish and she lived in a world where she thought she was the queen, but he loved her. He always had. So when he wakes up one morning in his office and sees her silhouetted figure staring down at him, he's admittedly filled with a sense of relief and of peace before he remembers. Before it all comes flooding back and he feels the all-too familiar stabbing pain in his gut. She betrayed him. She made him believe that there was going to be a baby on the way, and then she ripped that hope away from him. There is no recovering from that. There's no forgiveness strong enough to overcome that horrible ache that he feels every time he realizes that he isn't going to have a daughter, after all.
He sits up quickly, hoping to catch her off guard, hoping to scare her just as badly as he is terrified of his lack of a future, but then she does something entirely unexpected. She lunges at him, teeth bared and eyes red, dripping blood down her face.
And oh, God, her face. Blood-covered, pallid, gaping wounds and bits of flesh between her teeth. Bits of human being.
If someone asked Will Schuester what his idea of the End of the World was after that day, he would probably say something about being attacked by his zombified wife.
Puck wakes up every morning an hour and a half before he has to be at school so he can go for a run. He only started doing it once he heard about his baby, and only because after Quinn called him a Lima Loser, he'd started having trouble sleeping. The only way to get himself tired enough to ignore his thoughts by the end of the day is to keep himself constantly physically drained. By the time he's done with glee or football, he's passed out so hard that his mom has to break out a marching band to get him up for dinner. And then he goes back to sleep. It isn't ideal, but it keeps him from imagining any sort of scenario in which he isn't a deadbeat loser just like his father. Fantasizing about things that aren't real is something that Puck has always hated. Maybe for some people, it makes them feel better. It just makes him feel worse. His little girl is going to grow up never knowing that he's her father, all because the kid's mother decided that he's okay to cheat on her boyfriend with, but not okay for anything else.
Morning runs are sort of relaxing, anyway. He just puts in his headphones and goes. He doesn't have to worry about Finn finding out about the baby, or about his mom telling him he's never going to amount to anything, or about the fact that she's probably right. Plus, he'd never realized just how many of his new glee teammates live near him. It was pretty inevitable given that Lima was a tiny town, but it's still nice in a Stepford kind of way. Mercedes, Tina, and Rachel all live along his usual route, and sometimes when he's feeling really shitty he'll extend the run and see Kurt and his dad in their garage on his way to Finn's house to say hi to the weird little makeshift family that has formed ever since Quinn's parents kicked her out. He usually tries to avoid that inevitable downer of a trip, though. He prefers to just see the gleeks. It makes him feel better about himself when he sees them getting into their cars and heading to school for the morning, smiles on their faces as they wave to him. Smiles growing as he waves back.
This particular morning is quiet, and he turns the music up on his iPod to combat the eeriness of the silence. His feet pound on the pavement to the beat and he thinks it's lame but also relaxing how he just starts singing along without even realizing it.
It's only when the song ends that he realizes someone is running behind him.
Finn and Quinn are having a deep discussion about the better flavors of Pop Tarts at the breakfast table when his mother breezes in, late for work. She kisses Finn on the forehead and then barely hesitates before doing the same to Quinn. Quinn ducks her head as she smiles, her blonde hair falling like a curtain in front of her face, and both Hudsons see that her eyes immediately fill with tears. Neither say anything: Mrs. Hudson because she knows better, and Finn because he has no idea what to say.
"I'll see you kids later," says Mrs. Hudson as she heads for the door. "I'll probably be late, so feel free to order a pizza."
Quinn clasps a hand over her mouth and sprints down the narrow hallway to the bathroom. Finn winces as the sounds of her retching fill the kitchen.
"Mom!" he says helplessly. Mrs. Hudson just smiles patiently.
"Bring her a wet washcloth from the linen closet and go rub her back. She'll feel better in no time. Don't worry, sweetheart. I'm proud of you."
With that, she closes the door behind her and leaves Finn all alone with a throwing up, crying, pregnant girlfriend and a not inconsiderable amount of confusion.
When he tries to rub Quinn's back, she snaps at him to get away and throws up again. He's frustrated, but he knows that this is how Quinn gets when she's sick. She doesn't like it when people watch her puke, because she thinks it makes her seem less perfect, or something.
Finn doesn't think it makes her seem less perfect.
He sits at the table and nibbles on his Pop Tart halfheartedly, wondering if the whole parenting thing gets better or worse once the kid is born. He knows that Quinn wants to give their daughter away, but it's still something he's been wondering about. He knows that his mom always looks tired and he wonders if part of that is because of him, because he's not doing good enough or something. He makes a mental note to go check out the library and see if there are any parenting books. He's pretty sure that people write those.
When there's a knock at the front door, he almost doesn't answer it. Puck sometimes stops by on his morning runs to say hi and ask about the baby, which is sort of weird and annoying, and Finn really isn't up for it. Not with Quinn making vomit noises down the hall and his own stomach starting to churn. It's cool that Puck is trying to be nice to Quinn now, but it's still sort of strange sometimes, like when they were baking or when he caught them talking in the hallway that one time and they looked really serious. But then a frantic, high-pitched voice cries out, and Finn realizes that it isn't Puck at all. It's Kurt.
"Finn Hudson, you open this door immediately!" Kurt screeches, and Finn call tell that he's scared, so he runs into the front foyer as fast as his natural awkwardness will allow. When he pulls the door open, Kurt practically falls inside, then spins around and slams the door shut ceremoniously behind him. Then he stands there, chest heaving and entire body shaking like he's having a seizure. Finn is panicking, not sure what to do, and the first thing that he can think of is that someone beat Kurt up for being gay. He feels really angry at the thought, but doesn't really know how to approach the topic, so he just sticks to pretending like he has no idea what's going on.
"Dude, what happened to your face?" he asks, numbly handing over the wet washcloth that Quinn doesn't want. Kurt uses it to scrub the blood from his cheek, and Finn sees that his hands are even bloodier. And even though his jacket is similarly soaked, Kurt hardly even notices. Which, Finn has to guess, means that something very bad happened.
Kurt doesn't answer for a long moment. He just stands there and breathes. Finally, he says, "There's something going on. Turn on the TV. I don't know if I can explain it."
He leans back against the door and closes his eyes, and Finn decides to just leave him there and go into the kitchen for the TV. He turns it on to the usual news channel, and for a second he thinks he turned on a movie by accident before he remembers that they don't get movie channels anymore.
"What the hell?" he mutters as he sits down at the table and narrows his eyes at the tiny screen above the refrigerator. The grainy black and white images are hard to make out, but it's pretty clear that there's something seriously messed up happening. There are fires, and people running, and lots of screams, and the newscasters are having trouble talking over the rest of the noise.
What he does hear is one word: zombies.
Finn gets to his feet. Ever since he and Puck watched a stolen VHS copy of Night of the Living Dead when they were eleven, the two friends have been preparing for this exact moment. Neither ever admitted that they were serious about their belief that it would actually happen one day, but they were. They were very serious.
"We gotta go," he says decisively. "Kurt! Quinn!"
"Kurt?" Quinn shouts from the bathroom, furious.
"Yeah, long story. Come on! Stop puking, this is serious!"
Without waiting to hear what word she's going to use to call him stupid this time, he runs up the stairs to his room. Stored in his window seat, there's an accumulation of baseball bats that he has used throughout the years. His mom used to buy him a new one at the beginning of every season because she was proud of him for sticking with it even though she knew that he wasn't very good. Most of them are wooden, but some of them are metal, and those are the ones that he grabs. There are five of them, and he takes all five because he knows that Puck might be on his run and might not have a chance to go back to his house to get his own stash before heading to their designated meeting place.
He runs back down the stairs and tosses Kurt a bat which the other boy doesn't even try to catch. He gets into the kitchen just as Quinn is emerging from the bathroom, and he hands her a bat as well.
"I know you probably don't want to hear this right now, but there are zombies."
Quinn looks at him with disgust.
"Are you an idiot?"
Artie gets to school a little every morning to practice guitar before the day starts. His parents don't like it when he practices in the house. They say it's because he should be focusing on his schoolwork, but he knows they're really just sort of sick of listening to him practice the same songs over and over again. He wishes that they were more supportive of his favorite and possibly only real hobby, but he gets it, at least, so he doesn't mind taking about a half hour in the rehearsal room every morning.
On this particular Tuesday morning, he rolls into the practice room to find Mr. Schue already there. With his wife. On a mattress.
"Oh. Sorry," he squeaks uncomfortably, rolling back out of the room with as much grace as he can manage in his surprise (plus, trying to keep his guitar from falling while maneuvering the wheelchair out of the room isn't exactly easy).
"No! Artie! Help!" Mr. Schue yells, his strangled cry making Artie realize that Mrs. Schuester isn't trying to have sex with him at all. She's trying to eat him.
"Mrs. Schuester! Stop that!" Artie says helplessly, trying to go forward and catching his front left wheel in the doorway. Mrs. Schuester looks up at him, and he sees that her face looks like someone has been gnawing on it. Were they eating each other?
There's no time to be confused or grossed out, because she leaps off of her husband's chest with a creepy amount of catlike grace, and then starts running towards him across the big room. Before he knows what he's doing, Artie raises his guitar in the air. The second she enters his arm space, he lets the axe swing out and catch her in the side of the head. With a gory explosion unlike anything Artie has ever seen on TV, Mrs. Schuester falls to the ground.
"Oh my God," he breathes when he realizes what he's done, eyes blinking rapidly behind his blood-splattered glasses. "Oh my God. Oh my God. Mrs. Schuester, I'm so sorry."
Mr. Schuester struggles to his feet quickly and runs to the door. Artie thinks for a second that he's going to run and call the police or something, but instead he pulls Artie into the room and slams the door closed before locking it. Artie watches with wide and fearful eyes, half convinced that Mr. Schuester is going to kill him.
But no. His teacher bursts into tears, instead, falling to his knees beside his wife's unmoving body.
Artie finally has to ask, "Mr. Schue…what's going on?"
Mercedes and Tina have lived a few houses down from each other all their lives, so every morning Tina walks down the street to get a ride to school. She and Mercedes don't really talk much outside of glee club, but they've always carpooled and when they were younger they used to hang out and play together in Tina's yard (because Tina's dad built them a fort). Tina's not sure if that makes them friends, because most of the time she's convinced that Mercedes doesn't really like her, but for at least five minutes every morning she thinks that they might be.
Today, she's a little early. Her parents are having another one of their arguments about the money they're spending too much of, so Tina figures that a nice, slow walk might be just the thing she needs before school. She hates it when her parents fight, because they always fight about stupid things that are just so boring to listen to. And even though walking a few houses down the street to get to Mercedes' house is pretty boring, too, at least it's not annoying.
There are only a few people out so early. Puck waves as he runs by, and she waves back with a brilliant smile. (Sure, she likes Artie, but Puck's hot!) Across the street, Mr. Gaston is shoving suitcases into his car, apparently getting ready to go on vacation. One of her other neighbors, the quiet guy no one talks to, is standing in his garden, staring at his house without moving. Tina narrows her eyes when she realizes that there's something very off about the way he's standing. He looks drunk, almost, in the way that he's slouched over. She almost calls out to make sure that he's okay, but thinks better of it and just keeps her head down as she walks past.
She makes it to Mercedes' house faster than she meant to, but apparently just in time. Mercedes runs through the front door, backpack slung over her shoulder and clothes in a state of uncharacteristic disarray. When she sees Tina, she sobs with relief.
"Get in the car!" she screams. "Hurry up!"
"W-why?" Tina asks, some of her faked stutter coming back in her shock.
"We gotta roll, don't ask questions!" Mercedes replies, still screaming. Tina wants to tell her that she's going to wake up the whole neighborhood, but she thinks that would probably be counterproductive, and instead she just gets into the passenger side of Mercedes' Bug, slamming the door behind her. Mercedes hurls herself down into the driver's seat, muttering frantically under her breath, just as their neighbor, the one who had been standing in the yard, slams against Tina's window.
Tina shouts and pushes herself into Mercedes in her reflexive desire to get as far from the guy as possible, but Mercedes keeps a much cooler head. She puts the car into reverse and flies out of the driveway so fast that Tina would yell at her to slow down if she could even breathe.
"Hold on," Mercedes growls as she spins the wheel. The neighbor is running towards them, his skin mottled and gray, his eyes and mouth cascading blood, his left ankle twisted in an unnatural way. Over the sound of squealing tires, Tina can hear his ghastly moaning.
"What's going on?" Tina screams as they peel away from the sidewalk. Mercedes turns to look at her incredulously.
"Haven't you turned on the news, girl? Zombies! It's goddamn zombies!"
Rachel usually doesn't watch television in the morning, but she figures that this is an acceptable exception. She's got her eyes glued to the screen while she drinks her morning protein shake, hands trembling as she fights the urge to vomit. Her dads are both at work, and she has already tried calling them several times, but they're not answering their phones. She refuses to think about what that might mean.
She paces in her living room, dressed in what she thinks is a very appropriate outfit for the occasion: her sole pair of jeans, her sole pair of sneakers, a very casual tank top, and a well-fitting sweatshirt. She always likes to dress for success, and if she's going to succeed at surviving what looks to be the zombie apocalypse, then she's going to need to be appropriately attired.
She also has a fire poker, but she isn't sure how much good that will do.
"You need to find somewhere safe. Somewhere with other people. You simply cannot do this on your own, as much as you probably wish that you could."
She often finds that talking to herself is calming, but it isn't working in this particular instance. She needs to go somewhere. She needs to be with someone.
She is just reaching for her phone to call Finn when the pounding starts on her door.
"Rachel! Rachel, dammit, open up!"
And it's only because she's so desperate for company that she doesn't stop to think. She doesn't question who might be waiting for her, what state he might be in, whether she should bring the fire poker. She just grabs the weapon and runs. His voice calls out again, just as she slides across the polished wood of her front foyer and flings open the door.
"Thank God," Puck growls, diving into the room dramatically. She slams the door as soon as he is safely inside, not needing to linger on the disfigured features of the man who is following her ex-boyfriend. When the frame-shuddering thud sounds as the disfigured man slams against her door, she squeals a little, but manages to mostly keep her emotions in check. She's scared, but at least she isn't alone anymore. At least she has Puck.
"Are you all right, Noah?" she asks, kneeling beside him. He's sprawled out in her foyer, gasping for breath and shaking like a leaf. When she asks her question, he nods and grabs at his side, wincing.
"Yeah. I've never ran that fast in my life. What the hell is going on?"
"Zombies," Rachel replies.
"You're shitting me, right?"
"No. They said it on the news."
"They said zombies? Well how the hell does zombies happen?"
"Illegal genetic testing is the current hypothesis."
"Does it really matter?"
He looks up at her stoic face and nods slowly.
"No. You're right, it doesn't. Okay. Okay. I got this. We have to get to my house."
"Why? Because I have a plan, that's why. Are you in or what?"
But only because she has no idea what else to do.
Once Quinn finally gets over the idea that there are seriously, seriously zombies out there, they pile into Finn's car and drive to school.
"Not because I think we still have to go to class or anything," Finn is quick to point out after Quinn and Kurt level him with equally unimpressed glares following his announcement. "But it has really thick doors and lots of places to hide, and plus, our mattresses are still there and everything."
Kurt sighs at Finn's explanation.
"Okay, Ving Rhames, let's say we actually get there in one piece. How are we going to stay alive?"
"Puck will be there."
"…And?" Quinn asks expectantly.
"Why?" Kurt said at the same time.
"Because he will be. And…and what? We're gonna hide there until the whole thing blows over."
"Are you sure that's such a good idea? It seems pretty stupid to me," Kurt says.
Quinn has a much more simplistic, "You're an idiot," to add. Finn sighs.
"Just trust me."
And they do. They both do. Implicitly. And that's why they find themselves in Finn's car moments later, barreling towards the school through the abandoned streets. Finn is scarily determined, and both Quinn and Kurt are a little fascinated by it, and maybe a little turned on by it, too. They look at each other, understanding. Agreeing. Finn may be mostly useless the majority of the time, but they're both glad to have him. Because at least he seems to have an idea of what he's doing. At least he's doing something.
"We're all gonna be okay," Finn insists. Neither has the heart to argue.
Emma always tries to get to school at least a half hour early because she likes to start cleaning her space before the kids arrive. It's especially important to scrub her office in the morning, because there's no way of knowing what goes on during the night when she isn't there. The only way she feels truly at ease is if she knows that everything in her room is sparkling. Assuming that nothing occurred in her office during the night (despite it being locked) is not an option. She likes to be prepared for everything.
What she is not prepared for is the sight of Terri Schuester's bloodied body being dragged through the front doors by Will, who is being followed closely by Artie Abrams in his wheelchair. In Terri's wake, she's leaving a smeared trail of blood that probably stretches all the way back down the hall. Emma feels the bile rising only seconds before she feels the fear.
She freezes, a numb chill running down her spine as she sees Terri's lifeless face. The blood, the mottled grayness, the disgusting gashes in her face and throat. It's too horrific for Emma's mind to even comprehend.
"Um," Artie says simply, and Will's head snaps up just in time to see Emma emit a tiny, horrified squeak. She wishes that she could be strong and give him a stern talking-to about what she assumes has transpired, (and involving a student just is so irresponsible) but she can only give that single, tiny squeak. Will's expression contorts into one of surprise, and it doesn't take more than a second for Emma to notice that he isn't looking at her. He's looking beyond her.
In her haste to turn around, she nearly falls. It maybe saves her life. She stumbles back just enough that Ken's arms sail harmlessly in front of her chest, outstretched fingers barely grazing her breasts and causing her throat to instantly close with panic. And then she sees that Ken's entire throat is missing, and only a gaping hole of blood and tissue and more blood remains. Just as Emma is noting with a surprising lack of surprise that she doesn't feel as hysterical as she probably should (it's more like sadness laced with relief laced with remorse), Ken opens his mouth and roars. Roars.
And the blood. The blood.
It sprays everywhere. Her face, her hair, her arms, her legs.
The only reason she survives past the next few moments is because Will grabs her arms and drags her backwards toward the building, her wide unblinking eyes staring at the gaping mess of her fiance's neck.
Well, ex-fiance, is probably more appropriate.