5 – Three-Ball Chaos

Zak lurked in the shadow of the trees looking out onto the street at nine or ten zombies going from house to house — probably looking for more brains to eat. He looked at several streets in the past hour before ducking back into the woods each time, trying to find the perfect spot to try his new weapon. Finally deciding he was just stalling, Zak took a deep breath and stepped out into the street, pack on his back, poodle by his side, and three juggling balls at the ready.

In just a few seconds Zak was striding purposefully down the street, feeling a tingle of nervousness among his confidence. Then the first zombie spots him and started the now familiar chant…


All the zombies on the street swiveled their heads as one and spotted the new meal. And Zak’s feelings flip-flopped — now he had just a tingle of confidence among his nervousness. He calmed himself and started juggling, making sure to keep his pattern steady.

The chant of “Brains!” was getting louder and Zak could see the zombies getting closer and closer.

“Oh, crud!” Maybe it only worked on zombie poodles!

Zak slowly turned while juggling and saw more zombies had come up behind him, cutting off his retreat. They were all still moving toward him and freaking out was becoming Zak’s only choice when a zombie about 20 feet from him stiffened and fell to the ground like a tree falling in the forest. All around him the zombies started falling as they got closer to him.

“It works!” Zak laughed and slowly turned back to the middle of the street. Zombies from down the street were still heading toward him, but as long as he kept juggling they fell when they got close to him. The first ones to fall would blink, come to, start to rise, and then fall again as they looked at Zak and his juggling.

“This is more like it! Let’s go, boy!” Zak started forward and was jerked short by Jeffrey’s leash after two steps. He bobbled the balls but corrected and kept them going.

“Dude, don’t do that! C’mon, boy!” Zak tried to go forward but the leash stayed tight.

Slowly turning while continuing to juggle, Zak saw Jeffrey laying at the end of the leash, zonked out by the juggling just like all the other zombies.

“Oh man, this just stinks.” Zak tried to pull Jeffrey along with him down the street but straining against the leash caused his juggling to get kind of wild. Zak knew that dropping a ball and watching it bounce away at that point would completely ruin his day.

Hoping there might be enough time before the zombies come back to life so Zak can untie the leash, he moved into the middle of the circle of zombies to get as much space as possible and got ready.

Zak stopped juggling, set the balls on the ground, and reached down to untie the leash. The closest zombies start coming to as he fumbled with the knot that was tightened from all the pulling. He had just enough time to grab the balls and start juggling again before the zombies could reach him.

With the three balls whirling around the zombies fell over again but came so much closer that one of them fell partly on top of Jeffrey, pinning him securely to the pavement.

Zak stood in the middle of the street, tied to a poodle that was pinned to the ground with zombies all around him, coming to and then falling over again. And down the street another group of zombies was headed his way. It couldn’t get much worse.

And then Zak realized he’d been juggling long enough that his arms were starting to shake. If he didn’t think of something soon he’d become a zombie snack before his rescue plan even got started. He couldn’t pull Jeffrey along even if he wasn’t pinned by a zombie, and he couldn’t get the knot in the leash undone in the short amount of time he had when he stopped juggling.

Slowly pivoting while continuing to juggle, Zak looked around hoping to see something that would help him, but all he could see was a pile of confused zombies laying around him and more walking toward him, chanting, “Brains!”

A burning sensation started in his back and shoulders and Zak knew it was only a matter of minutes before his arms were too tired to keep going. Once more he tugged against the leash tying him in place but he knew there was no way to get it off his pants.

And then, knee-deep in zombies, Zak blushed because he knew how to get out of the jam. And for just a moment he was glad everybody who could see him was a zombie. He kicked off his shoes and then threw one ball high in the air. With one hand free he reached down and unsnapped his jeans and then caught the juggling ball and kept going.

“This better work,” he thought. “And I’m never telling anyone about this!”

Wiggling around and shaking his legs, Zak got his pants down to his ankles and then kicked his feet out of them, losing one of his socks in the process.

Finally free from the leash, Zak stepped carefully through the pile of zombies, trying to not let his bare legs brush against any of the fallen zombies. At the edge of the pile he stopped juggling and started running. Moving far enough away that he didn’t feel trapped, he stopped and turned toward the pile of zombies, who were now getting up and starting to come after him.

“Jeffrey, here boy, come!” Zak called as loud as he could, knowing his dog was lost somewhere in the middle of the zombies. “Here boy!”

The chanting of “Brains!” grew louder as the whole group of zombies headed for Zak. Jeffrey still wasn’t seen but Zak couldn’t wait any longer, he turned and ran as fast as he could away from what seemed like every zombie in the world coming after him.

Suddenly out of the mob streaked a poodle with duct tape on his head and a pair of pants streaming out behind him, intent on catching up to his boy.

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