1 – Jeffrey’s Skull

Zak crept down the hall from the doorway of his bedroom, trying not to make any noise, and at the same time, straining for some sense of what was happening downstairs. He didn’t know what woke him, but whatever it was spooked him. So much that he didn’t dare call out to see if his parents answered back.

Poking his head into the door of his parents’ bedroom he saw a bedside lamp turned on and the covers thrown back, as if his Mom and Dad had leapt from the bed. There was no sign of his folks but from downstairs he heard what sounded like the back door closing.

Now Zak did call out, in a tiny whisper, “Mom? Dad?”

Nothing but silence which grew deeper and echoed through the house.

He tried a little bit louder, tiptoeing now to the top of the stairs. “Mom? Dad? Anybody there?”

The light from the kitchen dimly lit the stairs as Zak crept down, now going a little bit faster, but still trying to stay quiet — if there was somebody other than his parents in the house, he wanted to have the element of surprise.

Zak knew weird things were starting to happen — his parents tried to keep him from seeing the news the evening before, but he caught enough to know a new virus had been created in a lab outside the city. Someone did something stupid and it had been accidentally released. It spread quickly and caused people to attack others by biting their skulls. If the bitten person didn’t die, the virus reacted in them and caused them to start attacking, too.

People started calling it the Zombie Virus almost immediately.

When his Mom and Dad saw him staring at the newscast from the doorway, they shut off the television and told him not to worry about it, things would be okay. They said some other things that Zak wished he’d listened to, but all he remembered thinking was, “Zombies? Cool!”

And now, with something strange happening in his house, and his parents not answering, Zak was afraid he knew what was behind it. He started freaking out just a little and raced down the rest of the stairs, turning the corner into the kitchen, his cries of “Mom! Dad!” getting caught in his throat as his eyes picked up red splotches in a kitchen that was supposed to be yellow.

Lots of red.

On the walls, on the floor, dripping from the table where there was a body. Zak’s brain played catch up with what was going on and it took a few seconds before he realized he was looking at the body of Jeffrey, his poodle. His skull had been cracked open and…

Zak took off running through the house, calling for his parents, all thoughts of silence long gone. Nobody downstairs. Back upstairs to check again. He even checked the closet and bathroom in his parents’ bedroom, just in case they were hiding. Nothing.

No sign of them at all.

Zak grabbed the phone off the stand in the hallway to call 9-1-1, but the batteries must have died, there was no dial tone. He raced into his room to use his desk phone – no dial tone there, either. Standing at his desk with the dead phone in his hand, Zak caught some motion out of the corner of his eye through the window. Near the streetlight at the corner was a group of shambling figures walking away from the house. In the middle of the group he caught a flash of blonde hair, and as they passed under the streetlight he saw his Mom and Dad, being shoved along by the zombies.

Dropping the phone Zak scrambled around to find his clothes and got into them quickly, then lost time trying to untie his shoes. His Dad was always telling him to untie them instead of just kicking them off, and now Zak wished he’d listened to him. Blinking back tears at the thought of what might happen to his parents, Zak finally got his shoes on and vaulted down the stairs.

Throwing open the front door Zak started down the walk, not thinking what he’d do when he caught up to his parents, just intent on getting to them. He started down the sidewalk and then his surroundings started working through his panic. It was the middle of the night, but he realized there were quite a few people up and about.

And then he heard the screams.

From down the block he saw a family run out of their house with a zombie right behind. Looking at what they were fleeing from caused them to run right into another group of zombies outside the house. There was a moment of confusion and screaming and then crunching sounds.

Zak stopped and looked down the other way. More people running, more zombies chasing. And eating. It was only blind luck that he wasn’t among them. Backing down the walk as fast and quietly as he could, Zak slipped into the house, silently shut the door, and fastened the deadbolt. Then he ran through the house and locked the back door, trying not to look at the body of Jeffrey.

Then he headed up to his room to get his plan of attack together.

Because nobody was going to kidnap Zak’s Mom and Dad and eat their brains. Not if he had to fight an entire zombie army to save them.

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