Maddie’s parents flip when they find out she’s failing science. That’s her worst problem until she wakes up and finds they’re zombies. Now she must escape them and her house. With nowhere else to go, and the keys to her parents’ sailboat, she makes her getaway. Finding Bryce was a fortunate circumstance and the two take on zombies and set sail for parts unknown.
This story was originally published as a short story in the Once Upon a Zombietale Anthology. A few changes have been made and chapters added.
Chapter One I looked into my mother’s narrowed, steely eyes, then into my father’s and whimpered, conjuring a few real tears. “An ‘F’, Maddie?” My mother’s words blazed like a wild fire. So what? It was no big deal. I hated science. No, I hated my science teacher. She made us read the textbook. Boring! I didn’t give two licks about human anatomy or biology. I shot my eyes to the floor and sighed. “I’m sorry. I’ll ask for extra credit.” “Extra credit? You haven’t completed half the assignments.” I felt my father glowering at my head. “Go to your room, while your father and I decide your punishment,” piped my mom, disappointment in her voice. “While you’re there, think of what you need to do to bring this grade up before the end of the quarter.” I knew better than to complain. My parents worked as a team against me. Being an only child was tough; I had no one else to blame. “And place your phone on the table. You’re not going to be on it with your friends, complaining about how mean we are,” added my mother as I turned on my heel to head to my room. Reluctantly, I slipped my phone out of my back pocket, laid it on the coffee table, and slunk down the hall. In my room, I pushed the door closed and plopped on my bed. I had no choice but to study for Monday’s test. I dragged my science book out of the backpack resting at the foot of my bed and opened it. Hours later, I woke. My face planted in the textbook, drool forming in the corners of my mouth. I blinked my eyes then rolled over and stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, the fan whirring above my head. The human heart and brain marched through my mind. I shook my head to rid the thoughts, then up-righted myself and grabbed my black nighty trimmed in white lace. After changing my clothes, I drifted to the window. The sky was dark except for a few blinking stars. Maybe I could go live on an alien planet that didn’t make children learn about anatomy. It was so gross, and next quarter we had to dissect a frog. Yuck! The last thing I wanted to see was amphibian guts -- or any guts. A thump from the hallway made me jump. I rushed to my door. There was more thumping against the wall. Cracking the door open, I peered into the hallway and gasped. My father walked into the wall repeatedly, an arm hanging from his mouth. Gross! My mother, missing her left arm, limped after him. Doublegross! It was her arm dangling from his mouth, the flesh torn as though it had been ripped off. It couldn’t be, I must be dreaming. I pinched my arm. No, I was awake. A rancid odor wafted up my nostrils -- iron swirled with rotting corpse. I covered my nose to lessen the smell and peered, dumbfounded, out the door again at the spectacle of my parents, their skin void of color. My mother’s eyes darted towards my door. “Mom?” I said, my voice quivering. She didn’t respond in words, instead her listless limping drag picked up and she was running towards me. My father growled, lifted his head and followed on her heels. The looks in their hollow eyes and the blood dripping from their mouths told me they were goners. I slammed the door shut and locked it. Thinking quickly, I pushed my nightstand in front of the door. Falling into the corner of my room furthest from the door, I watched in terror as my door shook from the impact of my parents on the other side. Get a grip! I inhaled and exhaled several times, trying to get a handle on the situation. They made me leave my phone so I didn’t have it. Crud! My only option was to sneak past them to get it. I shuddered. That idea was out. If I stayed in my corner, eventually they’d break the door down and I’d become food. If I climbed out my bedroom window, I could get to the garage. I knew the code and where my dad kept an extra set of keys. Thump, thump. The door was slackening with each hit. There was no time. I opened my window and scanned the neighborhood. Not a soul in sight. I climbed outside and sprinted for the garage. Nervously, I plugged in the code. Darnit! I punched the numbers again and this time the garage door opened. I sighed, relieved, when I noticed the garage door leading to the house was closed. I locked it for good measure then scrambled to the dryer and reached across the top, fumbling for the key. In a rush, my hand grazed it and it pinged to the ground beneath the dryer. Jeez! I braced my feet against the cement floor. At that moment I realized my feet were bare. The only thing on my body was my lacy nighty. Great! No time to worry about my clothes. I used all my strength to pull the dryer, gripping it tightly as I slid one side then the other, until it was away from the wall. It was much lighter than I expected and the acrylic wax my dad insisted putting on the concrete floor made it slide easier. The shiny key lay against the cement floor. I picked it up and a thump against the metal of the car sounded behind my back. Slowly, I turned, expecting to see another walking dead person. At this point, that’s what I assumed my parents had become. They resembled the dead people in 28 Days Later. I put my hand over my heart when I saw my neighbor’s tabby cat. He was always hanging around, but my parents never allowed him in the house. My mom had bad allergies to his fur. His eyes looked normal, so I strode toward him. He purred and curled on the trunk of the car. His behavior told me he was ‘normal’. I reached my hand out and he slipped his head beneath it, rubbing against my palm. “Boy, it looks like you’re coming with me.” I couldn’t leave him there to become food for however many dead things wandered the night and I was too spooked to check on my neighbors. They could be dead things too, and have the desire to eat me. The silence was eerie and my gut told me to leave. I opened the car door and laid him on the front seat, noticing my mom’s gym bag on the floorboard. Unzipping it, I fumbled inside and found her shoes then slipped them onto my feet. They fit well enough. At fourteen, I didn’t know how to drive, but I’d seen my parents do it. It couldn’t be that hard. I stuck the key in the ignition and turned it. The motor sputtered, then caught. I slipped the gearshift into reverse and eased on the gas pedal. Instead of going straight, the car veered to the left and ran into the trash cans sitting alongside the road for tomorrow’s pickup. Trash bags spilled into the street as the car pushed them into the road with me. It looked so much easier when my parents drove. I looked at the house one last time. It was a simple suburban home with gray concrete siding and white columns surrounding the front entrance. I shifted the car into drive and turned the wheel, although not far enough, as I ran over the freshly cut grass, leaving tracks in the lawn. If my parents weren’t dead, I’d be in so much trouble. copyright 2017 Elle Klass