Stephen stepped back into his classroom and closed the door. He was grateful to be back in the light. He re-dialed security on his cell phone. Still no answer.

Someone was lurking just outside the door. He watched as the doorknob turned.

“What… what do you want? Get out of here!”

The door opened six inches before Stephen stopped it with his foot. That’s when the bloody arm of a young girl reached through the crack, trying to grab at him from around the lower part of the door.

Stephen gasped, slamming the door hard on the bloody appendage, causing a chilling shriek from the other side. The arm disappeared back into the darkness as the owner ran down the hall. Stephen quickly closed and locked the door.

What kind of sick prank is this? He tried desperately to rationalize what just happened. That was blood all over her arm. Perhaps someone’s hurt?

This time Stephen dialed 9-1-1 on his cell. He began speaking before realizing he’d just received a recorded message: “This is the Willoughby Police Department. All our lines are currently busy. If this is an emergency, please stay on the line, and an officer will be with you as soon as possible.”

Stephen hung up. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He was about to call campus security again just as the front windows shattered and several fist-sized stones came crashing into the classroom. Stephen immediately fell to the ground, shielding his face, as one stone caught him in the elbow. Glass fragments dispersed across the desk tops and classroom floor. Before he could recover, Stephen heard hellish screams from down in the courtyard. It sounded like a massacre.

My God! What’s happening down there?

Someone pounded frantically outside his classroom door—no, not someone, several—and they were close to breaching the weak lock that held the thin door closed.

Stephen was terrified. This was no prank and something was dreadfully wrong. He searched the classroom for anything to protect himself and focused on the adjoining door to the neighboring classroom instead. He ran for it just as his classroom door slammed open and several ragged looking teenagers, some dressed only in their boxers or nightgowns, their faces and hair covered in blood, began falling over one another as they fought to breach the open portal and get to Stephen.

It was the student desks that saved him as Stephen turned at the adjoining door and fell backwards into the next classroom. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the young maniacs who fell clumsily into the pile of desks as they let out a frustrated howl. They were ghastly white, with veins pulsating on the surface of their skin. Their eyes were a sickly looking yellow and full of savagery.

He recognized some of them.

Boarder students!

Stephen backed into the next classroom and closed the door with his foot as the first blood-drenched student dove for the open doorway, attempting to grab Stephen’s ankle, and slammed his head into the door.

Stephen got up and locked the door. He then positioned himself behind the teacher’s desk and nearly threw his back out pushing it in front of the door, fueled by adrenaline.

The crazed students were already pushing through the doorway. The desk would be thrown back any moment.

Stephen turned, colliding with desks he’d not seen in the dark classroom, and barely made it to the hallway door. There was no time to consider what waited out in the hall. Stephen opened the door, startling a pack of wolves as four more deranged teens turned toward him. He pushed the first one hard…

That’s Cindy Evans!

Cindy fell back into the remaining three, knocking them off their feet. Stephen turned right and ran down the dark hall toward the lit EXIT sign above the stairs. He couldn’t hear his own screams above the frustrated howls of the crazed students that echoed down the hall.

Stephen misjudged the stairs in the dark, tripped, and fell head over heels down to the first floor. He miraculously landed on his knees, catching himself with his hands, somehow managing not to break his neck.

The students were advancing down the steps, their footfalls sounded like hard rain as bare feet smacked linoleum. Stephen was on his feet, stumbling toward the first floor exit into the courtyard. He nearly slammed his chin into the crash bar but caught it with his hands as he pushed down fiercely on the bar, opening the door. He ran outside into another nightmare.

From all around him, what remained of the 125 boarder students, ranging in ages from thirteen to eighteen, along with the handful of adults who monitored the dorms, ran wildly across the courtyard in a mad panic. Screams came from every direction.

Some children were fleeing. Some were pursuing.

Stephen ran through the middle of a war zone as he dodged both predators and prey, unable to distinguish the difference for all were covered in blood. He tried to reach his vehicle but stopped as he witnessed a horror movie play out before his eyes. Two former teenage boys were tearing a young girl apart on the hood of his car. They continued to pull at the bloody mess until she was completely torn in half. Then they began to…

They’re eating her!

Stephen vomited, almost losing his balance while trying to flee. He felt lightheaded and was about to black out.

Breathe, Stephen! Fucking breathe!

He saw the administration building across the courtyard and decided to try for the security station. He looked back only once to find his pursuers, but lost them in the chaos of killing. Everywhere he looked, Stephen saw young bodies torn up and scattered across the lawn. He watched as students jumped students, attacking each other violently, and biting into each other’s flesh.

He watched Mrs. Livingston, a science teacher, go down. She had stopped to break up what she thought was a fight, only to discover that three students were feeding on a fourth. They quickly jumped her, dragging Mrs. Livingston to the ground, as one of the savages bit her ear off.

From directly ahead, a younger boarder was running straight for him. His name was Jonathan Welles. Stephen mistook his intentions, noticing the blood splatters across his face, and ran around him. Within seconds, two more students found young Jonathan and attacked him. Stephen was in tears when he realized that Jonathan was calling out his name when he ran past.

He made it as far as Halcum Hall, the closest dorm, before attracting the attention of a large group of predators sprinting in his direction. They howled at Stephen, just the mere sight of him driving them into a frenzy, and rushed toward him with a murderous fever he’d never known children could possess.

Stephen ascended the porch steps of Halcum Hall and quickly entered the front door of the dorm. He managed to bolt lock the door just as the first of the pack arrived. They attacked the robust door but Stephen believed it would hold. After a few moments, they gave up and chased after easier game.

He turned around and made it five steps. There was no way to process the horror of what was once Halcum Hall, the female boarding house for senior students who lived on campus during the school year.

Just beyond the foyer was the large common room, divided in to three sections serving as a small kitchen, recreation room, and living room. Each dorm could accommodate twenty-five students.

There were fifteen bodies scattered about in all three locations, slaughtered violently, the look of surprise and terror forever frozen in place on each of their faces. Stephen wondered if they were murdered by one of their own, while having what looked like an all-night slumber party. A slasher film continued to play in repeat mode on the DVD player like a portent previously ignored, now just a mocking reminder. The smell of microwave popcorn could not cover the stench of death as Stephen turned back toward the foyer and vomited again. He went over and shut off the movie, having to walk among three girls who lay torn up on the blood soaked carpet.

From the bedrooms upstairs, Stephen heard someone moving about. Could that be the killer or killers? Or just frightened students trying to stay hidden?

Then it occurred to him. This was Nicole’s dorm.

Perhaps it was his recent over-familiarity with the girl combined with his guilt that drove him to find her, or a motive more devious and closer to self-preservation that needed to know if she was dead. That would solve your previous problems, Mr. Eddington, would it not?

He shunned the dark thought.

Whatever the reason, Stephen could contemplate the moral ramifications of his actions later, if he somehow managed to survive the night. Right now, searching for the girl gave him a focal point, something to keep the fear that screamed within from making him crawl under a bed forever.

Besides, if there were anyone else alive in Halcum Hall, he needed to protect them as possibly the last adult still standing. Truth was, he needed their company as protection from the madness that threatened his rational state of mind. He needed someone, anyone, to tell him that this was all just some twisted nightmare and that they’d be waking shortly.

What if she did this? What if Nicole is one of them?

He had no idea what to do with those questions.

Could you kill her if she was… changed?

Dark, dark thoughts.

Stephen reluctantly began scanning the faces of the murdered girls to see if Nicole was among them. The three at his feet looked like wild animals had torn into their backs and… it looked like internal organs had been ripped out. He turned away and covered his mouth to keep from vomiting. Stephen remembered the children outside, how they attacked, clawed and bit on one another. Were they actually… feeding?

He quickly moved away from the prostrate girls. Their faces were hidden in the carpet. All three had blond hair, matted in thick blood. Fortunately, that was all he needed to see. Nicole was a brunette.

Several more lay in grotesque, unnatural positions across the large, sectional couch. One had her throat ripped out and her head had been twisted almost completely around and left hanging over the arm rest as her wide, open eyes continued to replay a personal horror trapped in those dead orbs.

Another girl had a large hole in her chest as if someone had punched clean through with both hands and ripped out her innards like cleaning out a turkey before inserting the stuffing.

Stephen felt his skin turn to ice.

Two more had been… mauled severely, their faces distorted long past recognition. They were also blonds.

Over in the recreation area was a modified gym with a treadmill and three stationary bicycles. Two more bodies were scattered across the floor, in several pieces. A third was seated on one of the bikes, her head had been completely torn off while she continued to grip the bicycle handles. She was a heavier girl. Stephen could rule her out.

He headed over to the small island kitchen and found one more girl. It looked like she tried to crawl into the oven, hoping to fend off her attackers, as something tore her torso in to pieces. Stephen looked away from the mess of intestines gathered in a sickly pile before the open oven door.

“My God!” The stench of the girl nearly overpowered him. Convinced that what was left of the poor girl was too short to be Nicole, Stephen backed out of the kitchen.

From upstairs, something heavy fell and shook the ceiling.

Stephen reentered the kitchen and searched through the utensil drawers until he found a large kitchen knife. He simply looked at the long blade, believing it immeasurably inadequate in light of the brutal savagery inflicted upon those girls.

How many? How many… changed? How many does it take to slaughter a room full of your peers before a single one can escape?

Stephen had serious second thoughts about going upstairs. What he needed to do was make it to the security station and get help, call his wife, call the National Guard! No, what he really needed to do was start the last twenty-four hours completely over, and instead of waking up Friday morning—staying in bed instead. But that foolish thinking wasn’t going to bring these poor girls back. Somewhere deep, Stephen believed that whatever was happening right now was the beginning of something far worse.

A hand reached out and touched him on the shoulder.

Stephen spun around, lifting the kitchen knife to defend himself. His mind did not register the frightened girl. He saw one of them.

He drove the kitchen knife down hard, into the left eye of his attacker.

It was Nicole.


Next Episode 3-3

Previous Episode 3-1


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“Chapter 3-2: A Higher Education” Copyright © 2014, 2015 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark, Book One: Southbound Nightmares”.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission by the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  1. SeanC says:

    Archer-Oswald! Nice, Scott! I’m eating this up like it’s cool! So excited to finally be privy to “the story”!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SpartanLoki says:

    Damn this guy is gonna hate himself even more than he already did after that. Thanks for the story.


  3. Jesse says:

    Sadly not having the time to power through the series as fast as I’d like, but really loved that chapter. Lots of gruesome detail that just felt great to narrate!


    • sscherr says:

      I completely understand about the time thing. I’m glad you’re digging this episode. I remember writing this one late at night and spooking myself out in certain parts. There’s just something a little more terrifying about zombie children… lol.


  4. Jesse says:

    Edit: Episode, not chapter. But loving this chapter nonetheless!


  5. Jesse says:

    https://soundcloud.com/jerimiah-vega/a-higher-education-2 Wisdom tooth finally healed so I’ll try and do at least one of these every day! Can’t wait til I get some sound proofing, it will sound SO much better then! Hope you enjoy. :)


    • sscherr says:

      Glad you’re feeling better. I had all four of mine removed at once… hurt like a bitch. I’m looking forward to hearing the next two. First time you’ll get a chance at a little first-person narrative in my story with Nicole’s diary in the third episode ;)


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