Alice in zombieland, p.21

Alice in Zombieland, page 21

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series


Alice in Zombieland

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Page 21


  Another sigh slipped from him. “The answer is simple, then. You’ll get to know me. Are you going to the game? To Reeve’s party?”

  Funny that I didn’t have to think this answer. “No to the game, but I’m considering making an appearance at the party. ”

  “Okay, let me rephrase. You’re going to the party. But are you going with anyone?”

  “No. ” Wait. Yes, I was. I was going with Kat, wasn’t I?

  “Good. I’ll meet you there. ”

  My eyes widened to the point I feared they’d fall out of my head. He’d meet me there…for a date?

  “No,” he said, shaking his head. “Not a date. You don’t like to share your story with people you don’t know, and I don’t like to date girls I don’t know. ”

  Great. I hadn’t meant to, hadn’t realized I’d done it, but I’d asked the date-thing aloud. “We’re on the same page, then,” I said in an effort to recover. “But just to be clear, we’ll be spending time together, chatting about something other than the tracks and weirdness?” With our peers as witnesses, I realized with a groan.

  “Yes. You got a problem with that?”

  A big one. But I said, “Fine. I’ll do it if you insist, but only because I think we need to continue this conversation. Like, say, on a day when you’re feeling more cooperative. So will you let me down now? I’m about to be sick. ”

  “You are not. But if you’ll answer one more question, I’ll give you what you want. ”

  Stupid rope, forcing my hand. “Ask. ”

  “Does anything unusual happen to you each morning, when you first look at me? Something that doesn’t happen at any other time, just morning, the first time you see me. ”

  He couldn’t know. He just couldn’t…unless he, too, experienced something. He’d hinted before, but I’d assumed he meant something else. Oh, please, please, please, be the visions.

  “Wh-what makes you ask that?”

  “Does it?” he insisted.

  “Yes. ” I’d give him that much. “Wh-what about you?” Seriously, I had to stop with the stuttering. It was beyond humiliating!

  “Yes. ”

  An agreement. So much more than I’d expected. “What do you see?” I whispered as eagerness consumed me. I had to know.

  “I’ll tell you, but not here and not now. Write down what you see, and I’ll do the same. After school, we’ll exchange notes. That way, neither of us can claim the other is lying. And if you hand me a blank note, I’ll make you regret it. ”

  “Scary,” I said with mock-mock fear. He was scary. “But the same goes for you. ”

  “Good. ”

  Now that that was settled… “We’re going back to school? You’ll let me down?”

  “I told you I would, didn’t I?” He bent down and pulled a small— Oh, dear heaven, I was about to be murdered. He was now holding a crossbow.

  His arm extended, and he aimed the weapon at the top of the rope. His finger tapped the trigger. I screamed with blood-curdling force, only to tumble toward the ground when the arrow severed the rope rather than my foot.

  I flailed for an anchor, but I never hit. Cole caught me just before I landed. He righted me as if I weighed no more than a bag of feathers, and I swayed. A long moment passed before I felt steady enough to stand on my own. Did I step away from him, though? No. He wouldn’t let me; he held tight.

  “Why do you have a weapon like that?” I asked. A weapon he’d obviously taken to school—and gotten through security.

  “You tell me. ”

  Enough! “Never mind. ” I hated those three words on his lips, I decided. Absolutely hated. “For now, it doesn’t matter. ”

  His fingers applied pressure to my waist. “Do I need to tell you that this conversation goes no further, not even to Kat, or do you already know that?”

  Yeah, I’d decided to talk to Kat about the visions. But this entire experience had been a wake-up call. No talking. Not now, not ever. Not even about the small stuff. And how odd, calling the visions small. But compared to this, everything was small. “Already know,” I said.

  “Good. That’ll do for now. ”


  The Beginning of the Dead End

  By the time I got home from school, my nerves were battered and deep-fried. Cole had returned me to the building, as promised, but I’d immediately run into Ms. Meyers, and she’d asked me why I’d missed her class.

  “I…well…problems,” was all I’d gotten out.

  “Excuses are merely the cherry topping of an E. coli–infested sundae, Miss Bell. ”

  I’d gagged as she’d walked away.

  Following that delightful encounter, Cole had ignored me at lunch.

  What? You expected him to fawn?

  Well, yeah. A little. He’d abducted me, trussed me up like a Thanksgiving turkey, hinted at secret things, promised to share what happened to him in the mornings, asked me out on a non-date, only to give me a big fat pile of nothing? Hello, mixed signals. But okay, whatever. I had no need of him. I’d made plans before him, and I could make plans after him.

  Except, he’d been waiting for me after final bell.

  He’d handed me a note, and I’d done the same to him. Not a single word was spoken. He’d been rock steady during the exchange. Me? I’d been shaking like I had advanced Parkinson’s.

  Now I sprinted up to my room, locked the door and threw myself on the bed, digging the small folded piece of paper out of my pocket. I’d desperately wanted to read it on the bus, but I’d managed to stop myself. I hadn’t wanted prying eyes to catch a glimpse.

  And there was no question Justin would have pried. We’d sat next to each other again, and we’d chatted, and, well, he’d repeatedly warned me about Cole.

  He’s bad news.

  He’ll break your heart—and maybe your face!

  Everyone’s scared of him for a reason. He’s put over a hundred people in the E. R. !

  Could no one at Asher High under-exaggerate a story?

  When Justin realized I wasn’t willing to discuss Cole, he’d surprised me by asking me to go to Reeve’s party with him. I’d almost said no. I mean, I planned to talk to Cole while I was there, but Cole had made it more than clear that we weren’t a couple. But then again, I might not have a ride. Kat might be too sick to take me.

  Justin must have sensed my reluctance because he’d added, “Just as friends. It’ll be fun. ”

  In the end, I’d said yes.

  Now I unfolded the page Cole had given me, halfway expecting it to be blank, despite my threat. But, no. There were words. Before I actually read them, I closed my eyes, drew in a deep breath…held it… Whatever his answer, I wouldn’t freak…let it out. I would remain calm. My eyelids cracked open slowly. . . .

  The note read, Doing stuff. Kissing. Fighting.

  Oh, thank goodness. My entire body sagged against the mattress as I clutched the note to my chest. Relief poured through me. He’d had the visions, too, which meant, in this one area of my life, I was completely sane.

  But, the relief was followed quickly by confusion. Why had we imagined kissing each other? Why had we imagined fighting those monsters?

  How was any of it possible?

  Was there a strange mental connection between us? Or were we having glimpses of the future? Was that even possible? I’d never experienced anything—

  Wait. The Rabbit Cloud of Impending Death.

  I hopped out of bed and logged on to my computer. A little research on clouds—cough two hours cough—and I learned about coloration, effects on climate, global brightening, and rainmaking bacteria, but not much else. Crap.

  A knock sounded at my door. “Ali?” Nana said.

  “Yes?” I closed the laptop, not wanting to have to explain my search if Nana peeked inside my room.

  “You’ve got a visitor. ”

  Brow furrowed, I strod
e over and opened up, and a grinning Kat soared into my bedroom.

  “Guess whose lucky day it is? Yours!” Despite her grin and cocky words, she looked tired, with pallid skin and dark circles underneath her eyes.

  She was dressed in a long-sleeved T-shirt and jeans that lacked her usual flare. Why did so many Asher girls wear winter clothes during the summer? Kat had to be either sweltering or feverish.

  “Are you okay?” I asked as I gave her a hug. At least she was cool to the touch. “I heard you were sick. ”

  “Sick? Me? Never! I just needed a little Kat time. ” She turned to my grandmother. “It was very nice to meet you, Mrs. Bradley. You have a lovely home. ” So polite she was.

  So bizarre.

  Nana beamed. “You, too, sweetheart. And thank you very much for the compliment. You girls have fun, okay. ”

  “We will,” I said.

  Nana gave me a thumbs-up, so proud that I’d finally made a friend, before leaving me alone with Kat.

  “Your parents let you take time off just to take time off?” I asked, envious.

  “Yep. My dad—and uh, my mom—say kids deserve breaks, too. ”

  My mom would have told her mom to wash that crazy talk out of her mouth. You should never take time off from learning.

  “Are you sure you’re okay? Because I—”

  “We are so not breaking out the violins and pity partying. ”

  I couldn’t help but snort. If I’d needed convincing that we were meant to be friends, that would have clinched it. “You just turned pity partying into a verb. ”

  “Well, I’m cool like that. So aren’t you curious about how I knew where you lived when you’ve never given me your address?” She pinched her fingers together. “Even a tiny bit?”

  “Well, yeah. So how did you?”

  With a clap and a twirl, she said, “Frosty texted me all day long, checking on me. I told him to make himself useful and find out about you. I would have texted you and asked you, but word on the street is that you spent the morning with Cole and I didn’t want to interrupt anything illicit. And by the way, I’ll want the entire story when I’m finished with mine. Anyway, Cole knew your addy, the naughty boy, so Frosty knew your addy, and boom, here I am. ” She splayed her arms. “In all my exquisite glory. ”
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