‘After the Fall’ by Miley Brennan, Year 10, Thomas Clarkson Academy

He missed it. He missed how it was before the disease. The gym would have been brimming with people then, now it was just a mess of broken glass, scattered equipment, and other junk. “Ugh, I told you there wouldn’t be anything useful here” Sean groaned.

“I came here before though, maybe a few years ago, before the fall.” Lucie sighed “I swear there used to be a vending machine around her somewhere.”

“We should go, it doesn’t feel right-” An empty can skid across the floor, clanging against an upside-down treadmill, amplified by the echo. “Shush!” Sean said, panic creeping into his voice.

“Why? There’s no one here.” She retorted, running through the gym. A rumble vibrated through the room. “You scared?!” she teased.

“Lucie! No!” Sean screamed

The whole building came to life in a cacophony of noise. Sickos seemed to flood in from every door. Lucie pulled out her knife in a desperate attempt to escape the hoard, their numbers were ever-growing and the closing in. Sean, who had his own knife, hacked at the dense writhing mass of bodies. He slashed one in its thigh sending it to the ground and dragged another down by its shoulder. Lucie was swarmed, too swarmed to properly use her knife, her scream as she fell was soon smothered by the hoard.

Sean stumbled backwards; into the reception they passed on the way. He grasped at the railings, dragging himself towards the exit before the beasts noticed. He erupted through the doors, slamming them behind him and dragging a nearby sign across the door; barely visible under the dust. Bodies slammed against the glass of the gym door – there was never any time for grief – he had to go now, before they shattered the glass. He was limping down Camden High Street, once bustling and bubbling with life; now bleak and barren, sprawled out before him, beneath the equally bleak, ashen sky. The clouds swelled with rain, which fell like water from a leaky tap. There wasn’t much left of Camden, with most shops either smashed in or burnt by scavengers. The Underground seemed like the quickest way out. Inside the station, it wasn’t much better than the rest of Camden, soot blackened the walls and glass littered the floor. Sean dodged past railings and clambered over the ticket gates. The crash of the railings giving way spurred him onwards, he fumbled his way down the escalator. The bottom was in disarray – piles of bricks, tangles of wire and pools of stagnant rainwater in shambles like a bombsite.

He hurtled towards the platform – maybe on the tracks he could get away from the bumbling mass of things tumbling towards him. The chance was slim, but he needed all the hope he could get. They were gaining on him, they were snuffling like pigs so, into the darkness he ventured – the darkness that seemed to stretch forever…