1 Ultimate Sacrifice

"Go, now!" Mathew whispered.

His wide-open eyes and tense facial muscles screamed urgency.

Yet, he didn't need to hurry anyone off.

Their entire group rushed forward the second he gave the signal. Their entire group...

But Mathew.

For a single second, he stood back.

'System miracle,' he chanted in his thoughts, a look of desperation flashing in his eyes.

'My left lung,' he added, closing his eyes.

This entire interaction took less than a second. And without thought, Mathew picked up the pace and ran after his friends.

[Sacrifice accepted]

The cold voice of the system washed through Mathew's mind.

He felt no pain when his left lung vanished.

His miracle system was fair. Even though half of his lungs just disappeared, his body didn't go into a state of shock.

The miracle that followed would prevent any secondary damage related to his sacrifice.

[Miracle activated] The cold voice of the system rang in Mathew's ears.

A sense of strength filled his flesh.

All the pain and exhaustion of the last two weeks vanished on the spot. His fear gave way to the cold and composed calculation.

He caught up to his group without anyone even noticing his late start.

'Here,' he thought, grabbing up Nadia's hand as he rushed ahead.

"Damn," Mathew cursed under his breath when their group reached the corner. "They are already here," he uttered through his teeth.

The main school's corridor ahead was filled with zombies.

'Judging by the bigger physiques in the crowd,' Mathew took notice, 'there are some evolved ones out there too.'

Their group didn't stop.

The five of them were the last students of the 3G class that survived. Maybe others were hiding in a different part of the school...

But with the entire place overrun by zombies and monsters, there was hardly any way to check that.

"Push through!" Mathew shouted, tightening his fingers over Nadia's wrist.

'No matter what, I will get her out of here,' he thought, steeling his resolve as he gripped his baseball bat.

"KILL!" he shouted a second later when their group crashed right into the crowd of the zombies.

Mathew swung his bat in all directions. His movements appeared frantic but were aimed at just pushing the zombies away instead of putting them down.

The force behind his swings far exceeded the capability of his meager muscles allowing for such a reckless tactic.

'We can make it through,' Mathew thought when the first of his remaining companions got caught. A rotting hand emerged from the crowd and caught the poor man by his throat.

A grab like that easily subdued the athletic classmate of Mathew. Before a second could pass, several mouths rushed to gnaw away at his flesh. In such a crowd, his muscles were of no use.

'No, we will make it through,' Mathew changed the wording of his thoughts, pushing his reinforced self to the limits.

Two other classmates of his died to a single strike of an evolved monster.

Out of the original thirty-three, only five remained after two weeks of the siege. And right now, three of Mathew's friends disappeared as well.

"Just let me go!" Nadia shouted, desperately attempting to free her fist. With her injured leg, she was nothing but a burden for him.

"Shut it!" Mathew barked, too focused on dealing with the zombies to pay Nadia's protests any mind.

A swing to the left. A swing to the right. Sidestep to dodge a projectile. Duck to avoid a slashing grab.

A swing to the left, a swing to the right, sharp pain exploding in his arm when a zombie scratched it.

And then...

The world opened before the two of them.

Mathew's eyes widened as he stumbled for a second. The bright light of the outside nearly blinded him.

Then, before Mathew would lose his momentum, he leaned his body forward and lunged ahead.

"LEAVE ME!" Nadia shouted.

Now that their usual roles have turned, she couldn't handle seeing Mathew do the same thing that she did for him over all those years.

'Just a little bit more,' Mathew thought, ignoring the girl's cry altogether.

The cube of the equipment shed was the light at the end of a tunnel. The one last spot that they could try after the fall of their previous hideout.

Thankfully, the area between the school's main building and the shed was relatively empty.

Their former stronghold fell because zombies and monsters alike would be drawn towards the living beings. Yet, the reason behind the doom of their former keep was also the source of this one in a million opportunity before them.

One last chance at prolonging their lives, even if only for a little. Because at this point, Mathew had no real hopes for surviving.

He just kept on running. And just like that, he burst through the half-open doors of the shed, instantly scanning the area in search of zombies.

'I don't have time for this,' he thought, clenching his teeth as he turned around and pushed the doors shut. He then sacrificed his club to block the doors.

The timer in the right upper corner of his vision was nearing its end.

"Wha..." Nadia uttered a small, shocked shout when Mathew rushed to prop the doors with anything he could find.

Thankfully, no zombie appeared anywhere in the shed while he was busy fortifying the entrance.

'Was it a part of the miracle?' Mathew thought, finishing his task just as the effect of his system boost ran out.

He slumped to the floor in extreme exhaustion, his back sliding down the barricade he had just finished.

"We did it..." Naida muttered, her face frozen in shock. "No." she shook her head and raised her deep, green eyes at Mathew's face.

"You did it."

A bullet of emotions shot through Mathew's heart.

"Thank you," Nadia added, kneeling down and placing her hand on Mathew's cheek.

She then lowered her head and rested her forehead against Matthew's.

"Thank you," she whispered, tears appearing under her closed eyelids.

'She smells insane,' Mathew thought, his consciousness hanging by a thin thread. His eyes went up a little as the girl's scent filled his nostrils.

After a moment of massively increased emotions, this was the natural way for his body to react. After surviving a life and death situation, one would feel the need to root themselves into reality with intimacy.

It was a bare instinct born from the times predating human civilization, supposed to pull the group together in danger.

'Still,' Mathew thought, reaching out and wrapping his arm around the girl's back, pulling her into a light embrace.

'We have close to no food. This place is already surrounded by the zombies,' he thought, looking up at the window situated at the other end of the building.

It was small, high up the wall, and enclosed by metal bars.

'While they can't get in, we can't really get out either,' Mathew thought, his mood worsening by the second.

The equipment shed was the last place where they could run to. Given how the entire school was enclosed by a massive wall, it was surprisingly one of the safest places.

Because right outside of the wall, there was an entire, highly-populated city.

'If the things are so dire within the confines of the school, I don't even want to imagine how it is outside the walls,' Mathew thought, relating a small, silent sigh.

'In other words, we are fucked,' Mathew added in his mind, wrapping his hands a bit tighter around the girl's soft frame.

"We are fucked," Naida whispered right into Mathew's chest in which she buried her face. "Aren't we?" she added, her voice changing into a weird chuckle.

'Is there really nothing more that I can do?' Mathew asked himself, his mind and body alike too tired to think and pay attention to the girl at the same time.

An intense wave of regret exploded in his heart.

He was the single system holder in the entire group of fifteen that created the stronghold within the school two weeks ago.

Every other system holder has long disappeared from the school, enjoying the apocalypse to its fullest.

It was just a matter of bad luck. When Nadia went to look for Mathew right when the apocalypse started, they ended up stranded from the rest of their class. And when they returned, only the mob of this new, changed world was left for them to join.

"No," Mathew suddenly muttered, shocked by an unexpected idea.

'It's so obvious,' he thought, unable to believe in his own stupidity. 'How could I miss it for so long?' he asked himself, only to bite down on his lips.

'No, it's not that,' he thought, raising his face up and locking his blurry sight on the beams on the ceiling.

"Mat?" Naida whispered, the look on her face changing again. A look of worry replaced the distressed amusement formerly present in her eyes.

"There is still one last thing that I can do," Mathew whispered, his face lighting up.

His lips, formerly twisted in a grimace of stress and exhaustion, now relaxed and formed a gentle smile.

"What are you talking about?" Naida leaned her head to the side, unsure of the meaning behind her old friend's words.

"Don't worry," Mathew said, pulling the girl back into his embrace. "Everything will be okay," he added, caressing the back of Nadia's head.

"Huh?" the girl shrugged in surprise before forcing her face up again.

Nadia's eyes widened in shock, while her lips formed an uneasy smile.

"Are we finally going to..." she asked, her expression filling with happiness and sort of relief.

'System miracle,' Mathew thought, closing his eyes in peace.

His exhausted body relaxed as he immersed himself in the warmth of the girl. Feeling her softness all over his body, Mathew calmed down, making peace with his own fate.

"...do it?" Nadia asked, her face filling with joy.

'My life.'

[Sacriface accepted]

The ominous voice of his system was the last thing Mathew heard before his vision turned dark.

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