Home > Among Monsters (Red Hill #1.5)(2)

Among Monsters (Red Hill #1.5)(2)
Author: Jamie McGuire

I frowned. “What do you mean? How is it possible to lose contact with an entire country?” I asked.

Mrs. Siders didn’t turn around. “The Prime Minister of France just declared a state of emergency. In the last half an hour, the UK has reported cases of the virus, and they said it’s spreading uncontrollably.”

“Should we be watching this?” Tryston swallowed, his barely burgeoning Adam’s apple bobbing.

“Would you like for me to turn it off?” Mrs. Siders asked.

“It’s kind of scary,” Morgan squeaked from the back of the room.

“Not as scary as not knowing what’s happening,” I said. “We should leave it on.”

We watched the same channel for the duration of class. No one talked. Once in a while someone would gasp or sigh to remind me where I was.

Germany had been the first to go. The countries to the north, like Norway and Sweden, hadn’t been heard from since half past eight. France had gone quickly, and then Spain, Italy, England, Ireland, and Greece had all reported cases.

An amateur video with a cell phone flashed for just a few seconds. The anchorman blanched, and I felt sick to my stomach. People were running from something with absolute terror on their faces, but we couldn’t see what they were running from.

“It won’t cross the ocean, right?” Tryston asked.

“Right,” Mrs. Siders said.

As she glanced back at our class, I could see the worry in her eyes. When she turned back around, I texted my dad.

Are you watching the news?

Yes. How are you?


It’ll be fine. Gov. Bellmon just rolled into town. He wouldn’t have come if he were worried about it.


Love you. See you soon.

Chloe fidgeted. “I heard on the radio this morning something about a scientist and dead people in Germany. The news lady said they were trying to neutralize the cadavers, but my mom said that didn’t make any sense. I think it makes perfect sense. The Bible says the dead in Christ shall rise, you know. It also says that whosoever eats of Christ’s flesh and drinks of his blood shall live eternally.”

“That’s gross, Chloe.”

She sighed. “And yet so poetic.”

I pushed my phone back into my pocket and looked over to my friend. “My dad says the governor is in Anderson for some kind of photo op with the firefighters. I doubt he’d be going through with a fundraiser if the government was worried about an epidemic.”

Concern weighed down Chloe’s usually bright and cheerful expression. “You don’t think it’s possible…the dead coming back and attacking the living?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head.

“Sounds like freakin’ zombies,” Tryston said.

First, a collective gasp sucked the air out of the room, and then everyone erupted into panicked chatter.

“Can we call our parents?” one of the girls asked.

“I’m calling my mom!” another girl said.

“Okay, guys,” Mrs. Siders said, holding up her hands, palms out. “No cases have been reported in the US yet. Let’s all just calm down. Take a deep breath. The school will keep a close eye on this, and if we hear of a reason to worry, they’ll dismiss everyone. Until that happens, there’s no point in getting upset.”

The bell buzzed, and we gathered our things. With Chloe just behind me, I rushed down the stairs and put my things in my locker. Chloe did the same, one section down, and we reconvened to head to second hour.

“Come get me!” a girl shrieked into her phone. “I don’t care! Come get me right now, Daddy!”

The principal and vice principal were manning the halls with grave expressions on their faces.

“I have a bad feeling,” Chloe said. “When you hear about war or whatever on the news, it doesn’t feel real. It’s over there, ya know? It doesn’t feel in your face. This feels close.”

“Too close,” I said.

Chapter Two

THE HALLS WERE EERILY QUIET. If the kids spoke at all, it was in whispers, as if speaking of their fears too loudly would make them real.

Chloe and I walked downstairs where there were radioactive signs that I hadn’t paid much attention to before that moment. Bishop Middle School was a designated fallout shelter since before my grandparents were born and could supposedly withstand tornadoes and anything else that might come our way—except for a fast-spreading virus. Plus, being underground made me feel trapped, not safe.

Mom and I were apocalypse junkies, and we would watch end-of-the-world prep shows. It was kind of our thing. We’d even been to a couple of conventions. I wondered if Mom had the same red flags going up as I did. Something deep and inherent was screaming for me to run even though I didn’t know where to run or from what I should be running.

I pulled out my phone to text her.

Chloe set her books down on her desk two rows behind me. Mr. Holland hadn’t allowed us to choose our own seats in the beginning of the semester like Mrs. Siders had. He didn’t have a Smart Board in his room either.

“Okay, put your phones away,” Mr. Holland said. “I know a lot is going on in the world right now, but it’s not going on here. Until Principal Hall announces dismissal, we’ll go on as usual. Capisce?”

The entire classroom argued, but Mr. Holland won out, insisting we open our books and at least pretend to concentrate on the lesson. I put my phone away and opened my textbook to page two hundred forty-nine as instructed.

Pretend was exactly what we had to do, and most of the kids in that room failed miserably. Carina Tesh began to sniffle, and by the time the bell rang, her whimpering had prompted tears from several girls in the classroom.

As Chloe and I ascended the stairs to the main level, we saw through the large glass doors and windows of the school entrance the many cars parked at the curb, and adults and kids were running in or out of the school.

“Where’s your mom today?” I asked.

Chloe pressed her lips together. “She went down to Greenville. She had to pick up some things. She’ll be back by the time school is out though.”

“Maybe she’ll come back early.”

Chloe’s eyes fell to the floor. We both knew Greenville was far enough away that her mom would be lucky to make it back by the last bell.

After lunch, the classrooms were half empty.

In history class, Mrs. Stuckey had her Smart Board hooked up as well. A graphic that read Breaking News rolled on and then off the screen, and the news anchor appeared with a deep line between his brows.

“I’m Brian Jenkins, and welcome back to KFOR. We’ve just received word that the first cases of an unknown virus have hit US soil. Atlanta and New York City airports are both reporting chaos as the infected are attacking travelers in the terminals.”

“No. Dear Lord, no,” Mrs. Stuckey said before covering her mouth.

Without caring about the consequences, everyone pulled out their phones and began tapping text messages. Some even made phone calls, screeching at their parents about the news.

I texted my dad.

Please tell me you’re on your way.

Yes. Picking up your sister from the grade school now. Will be there soon. Sit tight.

I put my phone away. Chloe bit her lip, fingering her phone.

“If my dad gets here before you get a hold of her, you can come with us.”

She shook her head. “I can’t go to Anderson. My mom would freak out.”

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