Alice in zombieland, p.31

Alice in Zombieland, page 31

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 31

 

  I almost felt sorry for the zombies. Almost. I’d never been so determined in my life. They wouldn’t stand a chance.

  * * *

  A knock sounded at my door.

  “Come in,” I rasped, trying to pry my seemingly glued eyelids apart. I wasn’t sure how long I’d slept, but I knew I needed another hundred hours before even thinking about leaving the comfort of my bed.

  Nana peeked her head into my room. She’d pulled her sleek dark bob into a low ponytail, and she wore very little makeup, but then, even at her age she didn’t need much. Her skin seemed to glow today, vitality pulsing from her. For the first time, I saw my mother in her. The timeless beauty, the gentleness.

  “I love you, Nana,” I said, unwilling to hold back the words that I’d denied my mother.

  Her eyes instantly welled up with tears, wetting her lashes. “I love you, too. Very much. ” She cleared her throat, as if to prevent a total breakdown. “So you and Kat stayed up all night, did you?”

  “Yes,” I said, part of me wishing I could tell her something that would make her smile. We stayed up all night pillow fighting!

  “Maybe next time you’ll go to bed at a decent hour. ”

  “Doubtful,” I grumbled. There probably wouldn’t be a next time. My evenings would now be devoted to Cole and zombie slaying.

  “I remember those days,” she said with a wistful sigh. “Come on, kiddo. It’s time to get up and around. Lunch is on the table. ”

  “I’ll be down in a minute, promise. ”

  “No more than ten,” she replied, her stern frown ruined by the gleam of happiness radiating from her. She shut the door behind her, leaving me alone.

  I stretched, winced as my sore muscles protested and injuries pulled, and grabbed my phone. Three new texts awaited me.

  I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and saw that the first was from Kat, aka Meow. U promised deets!

  The second was also from Kat. Where are my deets??

  The third was from Justin. Well, I hadn’t stored his number, so the digits were unfamiliar, but I knew it was him because of the question. What time should I pick U up?

  He’d once asked me if I was dating Cole, and I’d said no. “No” was still the answer. But. There was always a but, wasn’t there? Last night, Cole and I had nearly had sex on a dance floor. We’d fought zombies together, and he’d invited me into his group. He’d answered some of my questions, and planned to answer more (or so he claimed). He’d protected me from the wrath of his friends. Maybe he was ready to date me.

  Would I say yes if he asked? Better question: Was I ready for a relationship with a guy like him?

  Before the zombies, I had already decided no. After the zombies, I…had to change my mind, I realized. I’d almost died. I didn’t know how much longer I had left. I needed to live life to the fullest while I had the chance.

  He had more experience, yes, and he had a commanding personality I’d always have to be on guard against, and okay, the thought of being with him scared me as much as it fascinated me, but if he liked me, I’d go out with him. I was done allowing fear to dictate my life.

  No way I’d give the zombies something to enjoy.

  But if Cole didn’t want me, fine. I’d be okay. Sure, I might cry about it for a few days (cough weeks cough), but I’d be okay. He wasn’t the be-all and end-all. Right?

  Groaning, I lumbered from the bed, brushed my hair and teeth and changed into my own clothing. I shot Kat a quick, Deets 2 come later. Promise.

  I shot Justin a more thought out, How does 8 sound?

  There wasn’t enough time left of my ten minutes to wait for their replies, so I headed to the kitchen for lunch. On today’s menu was turkey on rye and chips. One whiff, and I was a ravenous beast monster, my mouth watering and my stomach grumbling.

  I devoured my portion without coming up for air.

  “Wow,” Pops said, staring at me from across the table as if I’d grown horns. “You never told us you were a sandwich fan. ”

  “I can make ham and Swiss for dinner,” Nana said, then frowned. “What happened to your wrists and hands?”

  As ladylike as possible, I wiped the mustard from my upper lip. “My hands?” I studied the cuts and bruises, the swelling, and hoped with every ounce of my being that I looked calmer than I suddenly felt. “Oh, that. I fell. ” Again with the truth that wasn’t really the truth.

  “Looks like you punched someone,” Pops said with a frown of his own.

  “He should know,” Nana said with a nod. “Your grandpa was a boxer in his youth. Sexiest thing I’d ever seen, let me tell you. He wore these short little shorts, and sweat was always dripping down his hairy chest. ”

  Gross!

  They shared an affectionate glance before Pops prompted, “Ali?”

  “Oh, well. Hmm. I definitely fell. And uh, I’ve got a date tonight. Well, not a date, but a friendship outing. ” If they didn’t embrace the diversion, I didn’t know what I’d do. “With a boy from my school. ”

  “A date?” Pops toyed with the edge of one thick, silver brow. “Where’s he taking you? What time will you be home?”

  “What if he wants to have sex with you?” Nana immediately jumped in. “Did your mother talk to you about sex?”

  Oh, no. Not the sex talk. Please, not the sex talk. “Yes, Mom talked to me. ” Moving on. “A girl from school, Reeve, has a pool and a group of us are going over there to hang out. Kat introduced me to her, and I promise you, I will not be having sex with anyone. ” I was beyond embarrassed even saying the word in front of them.

  And you know what else? After everything that had happened last night, it was weird, sitting here, eating lunch with my family, having a conversation that thousands of other teens were probably having.

  “Reeve. ” Pops pursed his lips. “That sounds like a made-up name to me. What exactly will be crackalackin at this party? Will her parents be there?”

  Again with the horrible slang, the adorable man. “We’ll swim, talk, probably play video games and Ping-Pong,” I said, sidestepping the parents portion of his interrogation. I hadn’t heard one way or the other, but I suspected a big fat no.

  Pops gave me the evil eye. “You’re not going to get chewed, are you?”

  I…had no idea how to respond to that. “Chewed?”

  “Don’t pretend to misunderstand, young lady,” Nana said. “Chewed. Cranked. Trashed. ”

  “You mean drunk?” Please, let them mean drunk. This discussion had already taken too many horrendous turns.

  My grandparents nodded in unison, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

  “No,” I said. “I promise. No drinking. ” On my part, I silently added. Who knew what the other kids would be doing—after taking shots of tequila off of each other’s bellies.

  “All right, then. We’ll trust you. Unless and until you give us reason not to,” Nana added in that stern, motherly tone of hers. “But we’ll want to meet this boy, talk to him before you leave with him, that kind of thing. ”

  I did not allow myself to gulp guiltily, even though I wanted to. “Thank you. He’s nice, I promise. But we’re not interested in each other that way. ”

  “Then why are you going out with him?” Nana asked, clearly exasperated with my continued insistence.

  “Because he asked me. ”

  “Are you leading him on?” Pops demanded.

  “No!”

  “We ask because we care. ” Nana brushed her hands together, and crumbs went flying in every direction. “Now, then. Do you need a few dead presidents?”

  Took me a minute to decipher that one, too. “Maybe a few…Washingtons,” I said, giving the slang a shot just to make them happy. They were such good people. They’d taken me in, given me a home, food and even personal space to mourn in my own way.

  Pops pulled out his wallet. “What if there’s an emergency, and this boy leaves
you alone in the restaurant? He is taking you to eat at a nice place, isn’t he? I’ll give you a few Lincolns. ” He withdrew three fives, placed them in my hand and closed my fingers around them.

  “Uh, we’re not going out to eat. ”

  “What kind of boy takes a girl to a party without feeding her first? Not one I’d want to date, that’s for sure,” Nana said.

  Someone help me. “We’re not dating!”

  They had a few more questions about the party—was I planning to skinny-dip, play strip anything or naked Ping-Pong—leaving me in flames of mortification. By the end I managed to convince them of my determination to keep my clothes on and we agreed on a twelve-thirty curfew. We also agreed that I would call if Justin got “handsy. ”

  I liked that they cared enough about me to be concerned, but, oh, wow, this was painful. I’d never had this experience with my parents because I’d never gone out. Too bad I hadn’t realized what a blessing that was until too late.

  Back in my room, I finally had the opportunity to research zombies without falling asleep. Most of the info I found stemmed from movies, fictional books, a magazine about dating the undead, and role-playing that icked me out big-time, especially with images of naked Ping-Pong running through my mind. There was nothing I could take seriously, but I did find a few forums where people speculated about were-zombies-real-or-weren’t-they, what to do if you actually found one and the possibility of an uprising.

  Nothing mirrored what Cole and Frosty had told me, and that proved one of two things. Either we were the best-kept secret in the world, or I just hadn’t found the right sites. I was leaning toward option two. Even my dad had managed to find a site with tidbits of correct information. He’d read that guns wouldn’t hurt the zombies; he just hadn’t believed.

  As I was closing the laptop, I spotted Emma’s photo and the journal I’d left on my closet floor. Nana must have done some cleaning and placed the items on my desk. I blew Emma a kiss before picking up the journal.
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