When I opened my locker, the first thing I saw was myself. The mirror was cracked at the bottom, but I could make out most of my pale face. My high cheek bones, the freckles on my nose, my green/blue eyes. I ran my hand over my light-blonde hair which I’d tied back and braided Lara Croft style. To me, my face didn’t seem like the face of an average 17-year-old. It was because of my eyes. The innocence that was tied to the lack of life experience could not be found in there. No matter how hard I looked every night before I went to bed, it wasn’t there any more.
I grabbed my books and put them in my shoulder bag, then I glanced into the mirror once more before slamming the locker shut. Time to go home and train. I rubbed the back of my neck, which was still sore from yesterday.
“Valentina! Valentina!” The familiar voice of Hayden echoed through the corridor.
“No, I will not drive you home. I don’t have the car today,” I said as I kept walking.
He grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me around so I could see the panic in his widened eyes.
“Th-there is something—it’s—” his voice trailed off as he started hyperventilating.
I grabbed him by his chin. “Look at me,” I said in a low voice. “Breathe in, breathe out. Slowly.” I lowered my voice to a whisper as he followed my instructions. “That’s it. You’re doing great.”
He took a deep breath. “Z-zombies. Scary woman. Cafeteria.”
I pressed my lips together. “I see.”
“No, you don’t understand. I’m not making it up. Unless I’m hallucinating, but I don’t think I am. Am I?” He glanced around. “I don’t see any dancing squirrels. I always imagine I’d see those if ever I hallucinated. Have you ever hallucinated? I don’t think I know anyone who has ever—”
I hit him on the shoulder. “Focus. Tell me exactly what you mean.”
“The cemetery behind our school is empty. I saw it when I snuck home to get my math’s books. I thought they were going to get rid of the cemetery or something. The graves were all—and those people, they’re all dirty and smelly and some have started rotting. Their clothes are old and dirty and they’re attacking us.”
I put my hand on his trembling shoulder. “Don’t worry, Hayden. I believe you.” As he stared at me with open mouth, I handed him my shoulder bag and ran to the cafeteria. “Stay there,” I shouted.
Yelling came from the cafeteria and fear was practically seeping through the wall. On Wednesdays classes ended at 2 PM so luckily only the students who stayed for afterschool activities were present. Through the glass in the double doors I could see about thirty students and twelve zombies. They were moving slow and their eyes were white. They weren’t limping or hunched over, they resembled normal people except for their clothes and the fact they smelt like the grave they came from. It depended on how long they were dead, but their eyes were different than when they were alive, some completely white, some discoloured.
Two zombies were in front of the doors so I stood back and launched forward, spun and kicked the door open. The zombies shot forward and lost their balance. They fell to the ground and made a groaning sound as they did.
She stood on the table in the middle of the cafeteria, waving her staff with the shrunken head and beads. Her neck decorated with miniature skulls and one golden tooth in the corner of her mouth. Her shrill laughter reached my ears and created a string of ice cubes that travelled over my spine. She abruptly stopped, as did the zombies. They had kitchen knives and pans in their dirty hands and used them to attempt to hurt my fellow students.
“Who is that?” a voice asked.
I gasped and turned around. Hayden’s eyes were fixed on the woman on the table with her staff and layered dress, looking like she was an evil gypsy. The truth was far worse.
“Her name is Shafira. She’s a Voodoo priestess.” I returned my gaze to her as she stared at me with her blue eyes. They stood out as her skin was black. Her dreadlocks reached her lower back and she had feathers in her hair. When she grinned she looked both beautiful and cruel.
“There you are, dear Valentina. I’ve missed you so much as you can tell.” She jumped from the table with the grace of a panther and slowly headed my way, swaying as she moved.
“You know her?” Hayden asked, voice trembling.
“I’m sorry I had to grab your attention so violently, but what can I say? I love any excuse to bring out my darlings.” She turned her head to one of the zombies and tickled him under his chin. He stood motionless, all life void from his body. He was wearing a dirt covered suit and his skin was still intact.
Hayden grabbed my arm as Shafira drew closer.
“It’s rude to play with the dead.” My voice was cold.
She laughed her shrill laugh again. “It’s ruder not to.”
I narrowed my eyes and stepped in front of Hayden, though he still refused to let go of my arm.
“I’ve been thinking lately,” Shafira purred. “And it would seem so much fun to put a curse on you as revenge for all the peril your parents have caused. What do you think?”
“It’s not very original.”
She chuckled. “I agree, but fun triumphs originality every time.”
I turned around to push Hayden back and closed the doors behind me. From under my shirt I took my medallion and as Shafira reached out to grab me, I grasped her wrist and placed the medallion against the palm of her hand.
She screamed as smoke came from her hand. She fell to her knees as I kept pressing it against her skin. The zombies started moving again, while some students were pushing themselves into the far corner of the cafeteria. As Shafira’s eyes rolled back in her head I kicked her hard. She fell back several metres and hit a chair. She remained motionless, but she was alive which is why the zombies were still following her orders. I grabbed salt shakers from every round table near me and put them in my pockets. I unscrewed the lid of one of them and put salt in my hand. I dashed to the nearest zombie opened his mouth and put the salt in. He lowered his head and let the salt fall out. Then he shook his head and started heading to the doors.
I did this to all the zombies and one by one they started returning to their graves. To the students I yelled for them to get the hell out.
They ran, some injured while two remained motionless on the floor. I couldn’t be sure if they were dead because Shafira had gotten up. She growled.
“You! You have caused enough problems.” Another growl, only this time, it wasn’t her. It was a black panther that appeared behind her and started moving towards me.
She let the tail slip through her fingers and laughed.
The panther started increasing its pace and was getting closer. I moved forward as well. “Here, kitty, kitty.” As the panther was ready to jump me I held up my hand, closed my eyes and blew the salt in its direction. It exploded around the creature and turned it into a small doll shaped like a cat. I caught it and petted it. “So cute,” I said. “You should really make me one of these.”
Shafira’s hand curled into a fist. “You think salt can save you from everything?”
“Not at all, but this will.” From my boots I grabbed a dagger studded with rubies. It looked more like a piece of art than a weapon. I held out the doll and put the dagger through it. The doll turned to ashes and vanished into the air. “This is what will happen to you too, Shafira.”
“Where did you get that?”
“Where do you think?” In a flash I stood in front of her. “Don’t underestimate the Meadows family.” I raised the dagger.
She brought her staff forward and I stumbled backwards. She took a handful of purple powder from a pouch attached to her belt and sprinkled it around her.
“Mimi kubadili, mimi kubadilisha, kutoweka,” she mumbled.
I scrambled to my feet and when I looked up she was gone, instead a vulture the size of a German Shepherd started flapping its wings and ascended in the air.
I smirked. “Nice try.” Though Hayden wasn’t outside the cafeteria anymore, my shoulder bag was on the floor outside the double doors which had been pushed open by the scared students. I started running as Shafira circled above me. I slid across the shiny floor and was a few inches short as I held out my hand. “Figures,” I muttered and crawled over to my bag. Behind me, Shafira got ready to dive at me. Her beating wings sounded like fury.
Her blue eyes still looked human as the bird dove straight for me and she was quite an impressive sight as she drew nearer with incredible speed.
Before she reached me I pointed a silver revolver with a large barrel at her and smirked. Her eyes widened as I pulled the trigger. She exploded in a myriad of golden dust specks and I turned away, covering my face. Silence returned to the cafeteria and though the negative emotions that had accompanied her visit still hung in the air like bats, the mother bat was gone.
I scrambled to my feet and slung my bag over my shoulder. As I was about to check on the fellow students that were still lying on the floor, I heard Hayden’s voice drift from the corridor.
“I swear, please hurry, my friend is in trouble.”
“Calm down. You know, if this is a prank you are getting expelled,” a man’s voice said.
I ran towards the window on the other side of the cafeteria. It couldn’t open, so I grabbed the dagger and tapped it against the glass. It created a spider web pattern of fractures and I pushed my finger against it. The glass shattered and fell to the other side. I jumped through it and landed on my feet in the flowerbed of violets. I turned in time to see Hayden en the security guard enter the room.
The hard part was still to come, though. How to tell my parents it might be time to get me home schooled?