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294 One the Verge of Being Wiped Out, The Unaware People Trapped in the Town Surrounded by Danger

 Day 44 - 9:32 AM - San Jose, Antipolo, Rizal

A small town that was just slightly bigger than a large village. That was how large this place in the middle of nowhere. Yes, in the middle of nowhere as it was surrounded by forests, mountains and rivers and there was no other places inhabited by people nearby. The nearest place that inhabited by people was more than three kilometers away southwest of this town.

There were no electrical posts, no asphalt and cement roads and no water service. That was how modest this place was. Even before the outbreak, people in his place heavily relied on the river and the gifts of nature. After the outbreak however, those remaining graces they had started to become threat to the lives of people living in this place.

At the southwest side of town, a group of twelve children, three adults and a large lizard could be seen traversing the narrow pathways behind the bushes and trees. They moved while following the curve of the river that flowed south of the town.

With the children in the lead, Mark carried Miracle while he walked with Chaflar behind the group. Edzel was moving at the center while Karlene accompanied the children in front.

The children led the way on heightened alert. The older children were trying their best to detect if they were danger around as they move while the younger children stayed at the center of the group. They were totally immersed in being careful that they did not even realize that their guests were looking at them with bitter expressions. It seemed that these children even forgot that there was a dragon following behind them that could ward off any danger.

'They seemed to be used to this.'

Mark thought as he observed these children. With the younger ones in the center, it would be easier for the older children to move and protect them in case that something happened. Most children their age in the modern times would surely incapable of thinking formations like these. The children leading them however seemed too experienced in moving in groups like this.

While they walked, Karlene took the opportunity to ask the children's names.

The eldest who was a twelve years old boy was called Dakila. The others were Mirasol, a girl who was eleven years old, Isko, a boy who was also eleven, Pacifico and Igme who were both ten year old boys, Nenita, the tomboy that was nine, Rubylyn, a girl that was eight years old, Rizaldo, a boy that was also eight, Mimi, the seven years old girl, Flordeliza, a six years old girl and the youngest, Gani, a boy who was five.

Because the children were too cautious, it took another ten minutes before they arrived at the southeast edge of the town.

"Big Sister, we live in that building."

Gani that was holding Karlene's hand pointed at the building that could be seen behind the houses in front of them.

It was a long two floor building with more than a dozen rooms. There was a wide open yard in at the back of the building. The green roof of the building was too noticeable even from afar. In fact, everyone in Mark's group had seen this building before they landed by the river. It was because it was the largest building in this place.

"That's a school, isn't it?"

Karlene asked.

"Yes! That's our school!"

"Returning to our houses is dangerous."

Mimi and Igme said respectively.

"Follow us, quick."

Dakila said with seriousness and rushed towards the schoolyard. For sure, they wanted to rush since the school yard was open and there was no place to hide.

"Chaflar, stay there. I'll just call you if needed."

Mark made Chaflar stay behind the trees and bushes. Making Chaflar follow behind them would surely cause more trouble than good this time around. Of course, Chaflar followed without hesitation. Rather, it was too eager to stay behind.

The group ran across the schoolyard. As Mark had seen from above before, the school was really just a single building. All the facilities and classrooms of the school were packed into this single building with about a dozen rooms. The school yard had no walls or fences and was totally open. The security of the school was almost nonexistent. At least, the windows of the school building were secured with railings. The windows at the first floor looked broken though.

Reaching the school building, everyone started climbing up the emergency ladders instead of entering from the first floor. Since it was hard for the five year old Gani to climb up the ladder, Dakila made Gani ride on his back as he climbed up. It was also the same for Flordeliza who was carried by Isko.

Apparently, the lower floors were dangerous and as such, they barricaded the stairs securely making the ladders as their primary way of entering and exiting the school building.

"They are back! They brought people!"

Mark could hear some commotion from above. He did not need to look up as he knew that there were three more children on the terrace of the second floor. Aside from the children, he could detect seven more people and he was sure that those were adults.

However, Mark felt strange. In the apocalypse, many people could take advantage of others not to mention in a place like this. However, seeing that the children outside brought new people back, the ones left at the school seemed eager to welcome them. He could tell that it was genuine and there was no catch to their behavior. Still, it made Mark feel strange.

Hearing the voices of children, Mark felt another stare from the second floor. However, when that stare landed on Mark and his group, the feeling of disappointment could be felt.

It did not take long and the children finally finished going up to the second floor. Next was the turn of Mark's group. Karlene was the first to climb up while Mark climbed after her. Edzel climbed last as the rearguard.

When they reached the second floor, a woman about the age of twenty-five approached Mark and his group with great difficulty. She was wearing an old blouse and a very long skirt that reached above her ankle. The woman was injured for sure as she was relying on a large makeshift staff to be able to walk. If she let go of the staff, it was possible that she would not be able to stand at all.

"Miss Jennivive! You should rest!"

Dakila, Mirasol and the other children hurriedly approached the woman. However, none of them tried to help her walk. Or rather, none of them dared touch her. It was obvious in the faces of the children that they were worried and wanted to help but it seemed that they could not.

"It's fine all of you. You brought guests. It will be bad if no adult welcomed them."

The woman bitterly smiled at the children before she turned towards Mark's group.

"I'm sorry if there's no warm reception. I'm Jennivive Bellaflores."

Jennivive tried to give at least good greeting but her state was not really good.

In response to her introduction, Mark let Karlene do theirs. As for Amihan, she was hiding inside Mark's backpack and there was no need to introduce her.

"Miss, are you okay?"

Karlene tried to approach and help her. However...

"DON'T TOUCH ME!"

She yelled in panic and tried to back off. Because she was already standing unstably in the first place, she ended up falling on the floor. By reflex, the children approached her but they all stopped when they realized that they were about to touch her.

When she fell, her skirt was lifted a bit and her lower legs were exposed. It was horrendous. The veins on her lower leg were swollen and were totally red in color. It was as if she was growing red root-like lichen under her skin.

Realizing that her lower legs were exposed, her eyes became sad as she slowly covered the ugly part of her body.

Without asking for help, she slowly stood up using her staff ignoring the pain from the fall she just had. She turned to Karlene who was shocked from being yelled at too suddenly.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shout at you. It's just..."

"It's contagious isn't it?"

Mark interjected and Jennivive nodded.

Before anyone could say anything else, Mark continued.

"Is it because of the water from the river?"

"Yes."

Jennivive confirmed it without hesitation.

"Um, please, don't be scared. It's not that contagious but it's better to be cautious."

She tried to pacify Mark's group thinking that they might get scared but looking at Mark, his expression did not change at all. Even Miracle on his arms only had a look a little confusion about the situation.

Mark's guess was spot on. After all, the appearance of her legs was totally weird.

"It's bad to talk here outside. Please, follow me."

Jennivive turned around and walked across the hallway of the second floor with great difficulty.

As Mark had no problems with it, he followed behind her. The children surrounded the sick woman with worried faces but of course, that was the only thing they could do.

Passing across the second floor, most of the rooms were empty aside from two rooms. One had the other adults inside. They were all lying down the floor with just makeshift bedding under their bodies. They were all in a bad state. On the other occupied room, was two people fully covered with cloth. Those two were already dead.

"Mr. Emilio and Ms. Maricris died just last night."

Dakila spoke when he saw Mark looking at the two corpses inside the room. The boy's eyes were gloomy. Not only him but the other children looked very sad.

"What is the relationship of you kids with them?"

Karlene asked.

"Our teachers."

"What about the other people in the other room?"

Dakila looked at the direction of the room.

"Only Mr. Phillip is our teacher in there. The others were people living around the school before. We have eight teachers before but..."

Ending his sentence with those words, the boy looked outside the terrace as they walked. Mark, Karlene and Edzel also looked outside with interest. That was when they saw more than two dozen graves neatly lined at one part of the schoolyard.

After a while, the children departed to do their chores leaving only Mark's group and Jennevive inside the room that seemed to be the principal's office.

Sitting on the opposite sofas made of bamboo, Jennevive apologized once more about what happened earlier.

"By the way, you seem disappointed when you saw us earlier? Is something wrong?"

Mark could not help but ask first as he was rather disturbed by it.

Jennevive seemed to be surprised but she still answered.

"We are waiting for rescue." She said with dejection. "You people are not rescuers, right?"

"Yep, we're not. We are just stopping by to rest for a bit but some children jumped at us to try and rob us."

"That's..."

She apologized once more. It seemed that she was really used to it.

Apparently, they have a group that left to call for rescue. The animals around this area became huge monsters and many already died. They were waiting for the rescue since everything started. However, it was already more than a month but no one came.

"We just want to go home and leave this scary place."

Jennevive's tears fell.

They were teachers here but it did not mean that they live in this place. In their case, they were visiting teachers in this area. They conduct lectures for a fixed amount of time and go home to the city during the breaks. Now, not only they were trapped in this place but they were on the verge of dying. It was like a scene from horror movies. She was rather surprised as to how Mark's group managed to come to this dangerous place.

That made Mark realize.

There was no electricity and no communication lines in this place.

Mark looked at the teacher in front of them and asked seriously.

"You shouldn't expect any rescue arriving. Do you have any idea what is happening in the world right now?"

Jennivive was stunned and confused at the sudden question.