I’d been offered a last minute holiday to Spain for 5 nights. £160, all inclusive. It was with my College class, but for the price it seemed too good to be true. I looked up the hotel they were supposedly sending us to and it seemed nice enough, so I threw caution to the wind and gave them my money. Big mistake.
A few days later I was sat on the plane, watching the Spanish coast flying beneath us. It was beautiful and I couldn’t wait to explore it. We landed without a hitch, then got onto the coach waiting for us. For the entire journey we were all relaxed and happy, looking forward to soaking up the sun and using the pool.
And then we stopped. Looking around, it seemed as though we had arrived at a high security prison as opposed to the four star tourist destination. The coach doors opened and the driver beckoned us out. Curious, we each began to leave our seats. Once all of us were out, the coach doors shut and it drove off, our belongings still inside.
As we ran after it, they came for us. The soldiers in masks. They threw sacks over our heads and sedated us and dragged us inside.
The next thing I knew, I was in a prison cell. The chipped paint and rusted bars told me it had been abandoned for quite some time. I was wearing a dirty white hospital gown – luckily with no gap in the back. Between the bars, people were trying to reach me, their arms outstretched hungrily. Their eyes were vacant, their skin loose and ripped on their cheekbones. Their entrails hung through tears in their t-shirts.
They stayed there all night, and I sat on the further side of my cell, unable to sleep. At the crack of dawn, when light first crept in through the slit of a window, they backed away. An alarm cried through the facility. A soldier returned to my cell, threw a chunk of bread in my direction, then pushed me out of the room, gun barrel digging into my spine.
He led me through a maze of corridors, out into the real world. It was nice to be able to breathe air that wasn’t stale and damp.
I wasn’t the only prisoner out here. My entire class, and more besides, had been led outside into this picturesque garden. Slowly, the soldiers backed away, leaving us in a crowd of off-white, dazed and confused.
After a couple of minutes there was gunshots, and the crowd around me dispersed, screaming. The soldiers had opened fire, aiming deliberately close to, but not at us. Most of us ran for the trees. Others ran towards the chain link fence and began climbing it, but were shot on sight. I ran across a small footbridge over a stream; an almost fairytale place of beauty had it not been for the imminent danger.
I hid in a low branch of an oak tree with decent visibility of the clearing, and watched as an airhorn signalled the release of the zombies. They swarmed from the institute, running straight towards the trees. I watched as they tore into a poorly hidden girl, heard her dying screams as her flesh was ripped from her body. I climbed higher.
Seven of us were taken that day. I spent hours in that tree, not wanting to risk moving. As the sun reached the end of its day cycle, the zombies retreated to the building, and after about half an hour the soldiers came and got us. They knew exactly where to find us, as if they’d been tracking us.
We were returned to our cells. Only this time, we weren’t locked in. We were free to roam the halls of the facility, but so were the zombies. This time, we weren’t safe anywhere.
Each day we were returned to the outdoors, each time a little more tired, hungry, and a little more willing to die. Each time there would be more and more zombies; the people who had been caught in this sick game of hide and seek, and the ones who hadn’t survived the night.
I tried several times to escape and they always caught me. But they never punished me. If anything, they seemed amused by my determination to live. During the second day I tried returning to the same tree, but the zombies found me straight away and nearly caught me. I suppose going to the same place each time wasn’t entertaining enough for our masters on high.
On the plus side I guess I got to see a bit more of the beautiful Spanish scenery whilst hiding. The facility was about fifteen minutes walk away from a small town of holiday chalets and cottages. I took to walking around them during the day, and nobody seemed bothered enough to stop me. Someone always came to find me by dusk.
I knew my parents had arranged to meet me in Spain a few days into my ‘holiday,’ and had rented one of the nearby chalets. They met me across the little bridge and seemed happy to see me. They didn’t comment on my outfit so I played along with pretending everything was okay. But something seemed wrong. I felt sure we were being followed.
In the courtyard of the chalets we stood talking to some of the Spaniards. Dad kept going on and on about nonsense, as he usually does with strangers. I stood looking around us anxiously, expecting at any moment a rogue zombie to run at us and rip out our throats.
I felt the thunderstorm coming before it actually arrived. The clouds darkened to grey and a low rumble settled over everything. The humid air grew colder and the wind whipped my hair around my face. In the leaves of a far away bush, I saw an unnatural face watching us.
“We should go inside before this storm hits,” I mumbled to mum. She looked up at the sky and felt the first splash of rain hit her cheek.
“You’re right,” she said. “Come on you, stop talking at these poor people.” She grabbed dad by the elbow, who gave his hasty goodbyes to his new unwilling friends.
Once inside I locked and bolted the door of the chalet. It was rather nice inside, if a little small. Plainly decorated with a tiny kitchen and comfy wooden bunk beds. My parents said they were tired from their journey and retired to their room. I was left alone again.
The storm yelled around us and the rain drummed on the terracotta roof. I flicked the light switch for comfort but it didn’t work. Typical. Somehow, I heard the zombie find a way in. I climbed to the highest bunk bed and hid under the covers. I watched him climb onto the bunk beneath me and turn the computer on. He sat cross-legged in front of it, punching in the keys. Yahoo Answers came on screen, and this young, male zombie was replying to all zombie-related questions truthfully.
He saw me peering down at him and started climbing the ladder. I shrieked, kicked him in the face and he fell to the floor. He gave me a hurt look, then gave up on me and opened the door to my parents room.
“No!” I hissed at him and followed him in there. He walked towards them, sniffing hungrily.
“Needs breakfast,” he rasped. I paused. He looked at me quizzically. “Not a holiday if you can’t smell good breakfast in the morning.”
I smiled, slightly taken aback. “Or a proper burger and chips in the afternoon.”
He groaned. “Aww man, I’ll miss that.”
I grimaced. “I’m sorry for what they did to you.” He shrugged.
I walked slowly towards him, unsure how to comfort him. I put a hand on his peeling shoulder. He grinned.
The next thing I knew I was being dragged through the town by my hair, kicking and screaming back to the institute.