6th Grade Supernatural (Book 2): Zombied Paperback
When Zander Casey’s new best friend, Abigail, winds up injured during a dangerous encounter with a zombie, he has no choice but to help his family stop the strange outbreak of undead in Plainsbury.
But the counter-curse he’s acquired doesn’t knock back the biters as he had expected it to, and he finds himself on the run to avoid being bitten, himself.
Now, Zander must venture into the home of Plainsbury’s only remaining witch to determine how to save his friend from a spell so ancient, so evil, that even witches cringe with fear at its power.
Praise for Zombied:
"An excellent and exciting paranormal book for elementary age readers, oh, and zombies of course!"
"Very good sequel. Zombies, but not gorey or gross with a couple of AHH moments for my daughter."
I sat hunched over my book report, the pencil gripped tight in my sweaty fingers. The lead scratched madly on the binder paper in front of me.
I had finally given in to the pressure from Ms. Walker to get it done, though I had held out for over a month. Now, the threat of a call home to Mom had finally gotten me to crack open the book, and I was up to my eyeballs in a backlog of tedious work.
The last thing I needed was Mom breathing down my neck about something as stupid as homework. She was already in a foul mood because Walter, the ghoul who lived in the pantry, was on the rampage again. He had a particular affinity for spraying breakfast cereal onto the kitchen floor from beneath the crack in the pantry door. It was getting more difficult each day to walk into the kitchen without crunching the stuff into sticky dust. Mom was about to lose it.
So I had relented, though I hadn’t read much more than the chapter titles and the captions under the images before starting. I had flipped through it before, a long time ago when a snowstorm had blockaded us into the house for three whole days before Dad was able to dig us out. That time I had been bored, searching for something to entertain me.
This time, I wanted revenge. Revenge against the homework establishment. A Beginner’s Guide to Flesh-Eaters was opened on the desk in front of me as I scrawled out the details about the reanimated corpses.
I snickered to myself as I filled in the book report sheet.
Write 4-5 facts you already know about this topic.
• 1. You can’t talk to a zombie.
• 2. If you get bitten, you will turn into a zombie.
• 3. The best way to kill a zombie is to…
The book was non-fiction, as the book report guidelines had clearly indicated, but I knew Ms. Walker was going to get a shock when she saw what the book was about. And there was a special section where I could insert pictures, too. She was going to get the surprise of her life when she looked through my report.
Abigail was on the other side of the room playing with the red amulet hanging around her neck. She sat in the window and let the sun shine through it so that it reflected a dozen laser-red beams of light onto my bedroom wall. She stared into the red stone like it was the most valuable thing in the world. In some ways, I guess it was.
The amulet had been a gift to Abigail from my dad after our encounter with an auditorium of nasties at the school dance a few weeks back. Abigail’s arrival in Plainsbury had sparked a mass takeover by the evil little ghosts that were so drawn to her. By the time we had a standoff against the vicious beasties, hundreds of them were pouring through a portal right into the middle school dance. If it hadn’t been for my own amulet, and Abigail’s power, the whole town would have probably been reduced to rubble by now.
A light hissing noise buzzed around my head, and I waved my hand over my ears to shoo away what I thought was a fly. Then, I smelled burning, and I tore my eyes away from the page and looked up.
Abigail, the amulet held up over her eye now, was staring at a spot on the wallpaper. Beneath the thin beam of red light, the wallpaper sizzled.
“Hey!” I said, turning. “What are you doing?”
“Just experimenting,” she said, her voice far away with concentration.
“Well, stop experimenting. I’d like to still have a house to sleep in tonight, if you don’t mind.”
Behind the amulet she smirked. She lowered the gem away from her gaze and let it fall back onto its chain.
“Oh, Zander,” she said. “You’re such a baby.”
“I am not a baby,” I said, taking the bait too easily. The smell of burning paper and wallpaper glue stung my nose. I turned back to my report. “You don’t understand. A place like this would go up like a pile of dry leaves if it ever caught fire.”
Our house, the oldest one in town, wasn’t exactly in top shape. I suspected even a small spark would be enough to incinerate the place. I tried to imagine the firefighters, hauling their heavy hoses up the long, steep hill to our front door. Those firefighters who had the guts to come at all, that is.
Our house on Sparrow Hill wasn’t somewhere people from town visited. Though they didn’t know it, the old place was filled to bursting with ghosts, attracted to my family on account of our abilities. While I hoped that help would come if we ever had the need, I knew most people were terrified of even getting so close as our front door. Only we could see the ghosts, but regular people sometimes had a sense about the supernatural, too. Maybe they knew deep down that Sparrow Hill House was full of a lot more than just my little family.
From downstairs we heard the front door slam. Mom and Dad hadn’t been around when we had gotten home from school today, and I got up to go find out where they’d been. I hoped Dad had managed to find me the banishing stick that I had been asking him for. Since the bout with the nasties, I was anxious to have more protection at the ready.
Parallels like us could see all sorts of things normal people couldn’t. Usually, it was just ghosts floating around, which was nothing to be concerned about. But every once in a while, a nasty might show up. Or, as Dad had sometimes warned, something even worse. Dad had been around the world before he ever met Mom, and in the far reaches of the darkest places he had seen things so terrifying he often refused to share the details. Secretly, I believed he was too scared, himself, to even recall what it was he had faced back then. Anyway, I was eager to have as many weapons against the monsters of the underworld as I could comfortably fit into my backpack.
As I poked my head through the door into the hallway, I heard that same hissing sound from a moment before.
“Knock it off,” I snarled over my shoulder.
Abigail sighed heavily, getting to her feet to join me at the door.
“Well, what else am I supposed to do?” she asked, dropping the amulet from her eye.
I walked out into the hall.
“You’re suddenly so into your homework,” she went on. “I didn’t realize I was becoming friends with a dork.”
I rolled my eyes, making my way down the stairs. Grudgingly, she followed.
I just caught sight of Dad’s feet as he walked towards the kitchen. Then, crunch, crunch, crunch. I stopped, cringing, but when no howl erupted from Mom, I continued down.
Turning into the kitchen hallway, I could see Mom sitting at the table, her head in one hand. Dad stood next to her, his hand on her shoulder. Was she … crying?
Suddenly, my hope for a banishing stick evaporated, quickly replaced with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I stopped right before the first visible piece of cereal, unwilling to be the one to smash it. When Mom was upset, all bets were off.
“She was so young, Robert,” Mom said.
Dad squeezed her shoulder and walked around the table, sitting down heavily across from her.
“I know,” he said.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
Mom didn’t look up, but Dad raised a tired-looking face in my direction.
“Everything’s fine,” he said. “Your mother and I were just at a funeral.”
Abigail poked her head over my shoulder, trying to see what was going on in the kitchen. I elbowed her in the ribs.
“Oh, hello, Abigail,” Dad said. “Come on in.”
She smirked at me and pushed by, crunching into the kitchen.
“Who died?” she asked.
“Abigail,” I hissed.
“It’s alright, Zander,” Dad said. “She was the daughter of a friend of ours. We’d known her since she was quite young. Younger than you. She was the most promising witch in the Jacob line. Though, from what I hear, she had practiced little of the craft since she graduated high school. She was a teacher, actually.”
“A witch?” I asked. I had known the Jacobs’. I never realized they were witches.
“He didn’t even come, Robert,” she said, wiping her face. “The poor man.”
“Who didn’t come?” asked Abigail.
“Marcus, Jenny’s husband.” Dad stood up from the chair and walked to the sink, turning on the tap and splashing water over his face.
“I guess it was too much for him,” Mom said. “And with the baby…” At this she fully buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
“Oh, dear,” Dad said, crunching his way back over to her.
I walked over to the sink and turned off the tap.
“Give us some privacy, will you kids?” he asked.
“Yeah, okay,” I said.
I turned to go, and Abigail followed without complaint.
Back up in my room, we both sat, still and silent. Her amulet dangled around her neck, forgotten.
“Whoa,” I said. “The husband didn’t even come to her funeral. He must be a wreck.”
Abigail looked at me, and then looked away, an expression of guilt on her face.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “You’ll just think I’m terrible.”
“I already think you’re terrible,” I said. I tried to crack a smile, but I think it came out more like a grimace.
“I was just going to say, it’s pretty suspicious that the husband wasn’t there, actually.”
I thought about that, but didn’t say anything in response.
“I mean, what if he was involved?” she went on.
“Yeah,” I said. “You’re right. You are terrible.”
She shot me a look, and this time my smile was genuine as I saw the irritation on her face.
“Well, it’s pretty weird that a husband doesn’t go to his own wife’s funeral. That’s all I’m saying.”
Neither of us said much after that. I turned back to my report, but the distraction of the situation made it impossible to concentrate. As fun as it might be to mess with Ms. Walker, the truth was I could care less about zombies. Now, halfway through, I found myself wishing I had chosen a book I was actually interested in. Which, I guess, was the whole point of the assignment in the first place.
Finally, as the sun began to sink below the horizon, and Abigail had run out of daylight to shine through her amulet, she stood up.
“I’ve gotta go,” she said, hoisting her backpack over her shoulder.
I hesitated, then said the thought I had been chewing on for the past half hour.
“You don’t think he killed her. Do you?”
She shrugged, unsurprised. She had probably been asking herself the same question.
“Who knows? People are crazy sometimes. You know?”
She jerked open my bedroom door and disappeared through the opening, and I was left on my own, unable to decide just how crazy our old family friend might be.