"It's a great deal," insisted Mrs. Sanford, "You should really get yourself a pair."
"I'll check it out next time I'm over there," agreed Mrs. Epps as she pointed a finger at Samuel Dylan. The troublesome four year old had just picked up a handful of sand with the intent to throw. Samantha Epps was ready to move quickly if she had to since young Samuel was known to be ‘difficult,’ but the boy dropped the sand and pointed behind the young teacher and the older volunteer.
"Oh my," said Mrs. Epps, "They've seen a few seasons, haven't they?"
"The poor souls, there's barely anything holding them together, is there?" In the dense shrubbery behind the Sunshine Elementary's 12 foot chain link fence two zombies stumbled through the thick fall leaves. The recent rain had softened the leaves and muffled their approach. As Mrs. Epps had observed, the two had probably seen at least two winters now as rot and wear had withered them away to almost nothing.
"Ew!" squealed Amy Chen, as the rest of the pre-school class finally noticed. Mrs. Epps was about to dispatch the two but had to stop and make sure her charges stayed at safe distance.
"I'll get them, dear," said Mrs. Sandford as she fished a snub nosed .38 from the pocket of her cardigan.
"Boys and girls, let's back up and let Mrs. Sandford take care of them," Mrs. Epps said, herding the children back. "Beverly, be careful you don't hit the fence."
"Of course, dear," Mrs. Sandford answered and closed in on the fence so she could rest the barrel between the wires.
"Now, are these new zombies or old zombies?" asked the younger teacher. She turned back from the tiny waving hands when she heard the click of Mrs. Sandford's empty pistol.
"Oh dear me," she muttered, "I'm terrible at reloading this thing."
"Mrs. Sandford," began Mrs. Epps, "You really should-" She broke off as the older woman fell back sharply, crying out in fear and pain. The arm of an unseen zombie had shot out from beneath the fence and dragged her foot under. Mrs. Epps drew her own Browning 10mm with surprising speed, but it was too late, the legless undead had already sunk its teeth through Mrs. Sandford's shoe. As it shook the screaming woman's foot back and forth much like a dog with a chew toy would, Mrs. Epps dispatched it with two rounds to the head.
"Beverly? Samantha? Come in please," crackled the radio on Mrs. Epps hip.
"This is Samantha. We've got zombies at the north fence. Beverly got too close to the fence and was pulled under," she reported to the office. "We'll need a cleanup crew for the back woods."
"Bitten," answered Mrs. Epps. She looked around to make sure the class was still behind her and safe. Recess volunteers were already racing towards them and she could see the school's sniper on the roof preparing to dispatch the undead in the woods. She held a hand up to stop him. "Should I send the kids in or use this as a learning tool?"
"Oh, by all means let's use this!" answered Mrs. Kale, the school principle. "Let me call the other classes over before you do anything."
"Understood," Mrs. Epps answered and clipped the radio back to her belt. The sniper, who had heard the conversation over the radio, lowered his rifle and gave her the thumbs up. "Ok, kids, can anybody tell me what happened here?"
"Mrs. Sandford was dumb!" shouted Noah Lichfield.
"Noah," Mrs. Epps scolded, "We do not use that word in class, do we? And how do we answer a question?"
"Raise your hand!" shouted the rest of the class.
"That's right. Noah was right in that Mrs. Sandford was very silly," Mrs. Epps said as she retrieved the woman's revolver and opened the cylinder. She turned the gun around and showed it to the assembled children. She kicked away a groping hand and stepped away from the groaning lady before speaking again.
"What should mommy's and daddy's always do after they have used their firearms?"
"Reload!" Mrs. Epps smiled at the other teachers who had now joined them.
Mrs. Sandford rolled onto her side, begging for help. Mrs. Epps looked back to the children and raised her hands for quiet.
"Listen up, listen up everyone. Did you all hear her?" she asked, pointing at the woman.
"She asked for help," said a tiny voice from the front.
"That's right, Emily. Is this Mrs. Sandford anymore?" Mrs. Epps asked the little girl. Her blonde curls shook with her head. "And why isn't she Mrs. Sandford anymore?"
"Cause she's infected."
"Exactly!" Samantha called over Mrs. Sandford's pleas. "As soon as she was bitten she stopped being the Mrs. Sandford we loved. This is super important to remember," she said, making sure to make eye contact with each and every child. "What's the most dangerous zombie there is?" she asked, quoting the government's Guide to Survival.
"A new zombie!" they shouted.
"A zombie that you know!"
"Excellent! Excellent! I'm so proud of you. Now, who can tell me some signs of a newly infected zombie? Hands! I'll only take hands!" She pointed at Gabriella Estrada. "Yes, Gabby?"
"Yes, their eyes. Did everybody know that?" Seeing some blank faces, she guided the children so they could see the infected woman's face. "See how her eyes are already clouding? That's because the zombie that bit her was very old and dirty. Also, you can see how her leg is already starting to turn blue.
"Samantha..." growled Mrs. Sandford.
"Mrs. Epps," called Principle Kale, "This has been a fantastic lesson, but I think Mrs. Sandford is turning a little too quickly." Mrs. Epps nodded.
"Ok, everyone, back up please."
"And why are we backing up boys and girls?" asked the Principle.
"Splatter!” The kids shouted. Even Mrs. Epps retreated a step as what was left of the older woman tried to spit at her. One shot to the centre of her forehead was all it took.
"Great shot, Mrs. Epps,” called Mrs. Kale, leading the clapping children, “But I think the School District would prefer a second shot whether she needs it or not.” Mrs. Epps followed the Principle’s orders and then returned to the children.
“Now, before we go anywhere, can we leave those two nasty zombies out there in the woods?” she asked.
“No!” screamed the children.
“Well then, if one of you can tell me what kind of gun I carry, maybe I’ll let the winner shoot one.” Tiny pink hands reached for the sky.