His feet tangled in the straps of the show bag, Zak hit the floor so hard he got the wind knocked out of him. Jeffrey’s front paws pressed against Zak’s chest and his snout loomed over Zak’s face — and then the poodle’s butt started to wiggle as he wagged his tail wildly.
Zak looked up at his dog’s face and then dodged the drool that escaped from his panting tongue.
“Jeffrey! You’re alive!” He hugged his dog and then quickly let go.
“Oh, gross, you have blood and brains all over you!” He pushed Jeffrey off and scrambled to his feet as his poodle danced around him. Jeffrey was moving much slower than normal, but seemed mostly okay. As long as Zak didn’t look at the gaping hole in the side of his skull, he could almost pretend Jeffrey was as good as new.
“Mmmmmmnnnnn.” Instead of his usual friendly whine, Jeffrey made a kind of moaning sound that sent the hair on the back of Zak’s neck on end. He shuddered and then decided a zombie poodle was better than a dead poodle, anyway. Probably.
Zak wished the phone was working so he could call someone and let them know that zombie dogs didn’t eat human brains. That might be an important clue in finding a cure for the disease. Maybe zombie dogs only eat dog brains, or maybe cat brains, he decided. That kind of made sense.
With another member of the family at home, even if it was the one with four legs, Zak started feeling a little less lonely and more confident about how everything would turn out. Thinking again about the rescue mission, Zak decided to take Jeffrey with him. Because he was a trained dog there might be situations where he could be useful. But first, he had to do something about the hole in Jeffrey’s skull.
Leaning down Zak peeked in and saw a chunk of brain was missing, and even though he usually liked gross things, this was so far beyond gross that Zak thought he might actually get sick. He quickly straightened up.
“C’mon boy, let’s see if we can find something to bandage you with.” With Jeffrey following, Zak went into the kitchen and opened the drawer where the bandages were kept. Everything in there was the right size for a cut finger or scraped knee, but not for a hole in the skull. Closing the drawer Zak scanned the room and his eyes fell on the kitchen table. In among the gore was the missing chunk of skull bone.
Zak looked at the chunk, then looked down at Jeffery, who gave off little zombie moans and sat wagging his tail like he expected a dog biscuit. Maybe…
Using just the tips of his fingers, Zak grabbed the chunk of skull and took it to the sink. After a minute of running it under the water it looked — well, like a clean chunk of bone with fuzzy dog hair on one side. He lined it up with the hole in Jeffrey’s head, moved a few strands of dog hair out of the way, and plopped it into place like it was the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
“Hey, good as new!”
Jeffrey jumped up and shook his head. The bone chunk went flying out and bounced off the refrigerator.
“No, bad dog!” Zak grabbed the bone chunk, rinsed it off again, and then headed for the garage with Jeffrey following along behind.
On the shelf above the workbench Zak grabbed a roll of duct tape and worked the end loose.
“Jeffrey, sit. Stay.” Zak carefully put the piece of bone in place and then pulled out a long strip of duct tape. Making sure not to pin down his ears, Zak wrapped the tape over the bone chunk and down under Jeffrey’s head. “Okay, boy!” Zak released him.
Jeffrey jumped up, shook his head, and everything stayed firmly in place. Zak knew it looked a little weird, but at least it would keep his dog’s brains in place, and besides, until they could get to a vet it would just have to do.
Zak grabbed Jeffrey’s leash from a hook in the garage, pulled his backpack down from a storage shelf so he could carry all the gear easier, and headed back into the house one last time. He stood in the living room and looked around. This was the house he grew up in, the only place he ever remembered living. And now there were blood and brains all over the kitchen and his family had been ripped apart. The house wouldn’t be his real home again unless he could fix that.
Gather supplies – check.
Plug hole in poodle skull – check.
Find and rescue parents – heading out to do that right now!