Alice in zombieland, p.35

Alice in Zombieland, page 35

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 35

 

  Footsteps sounded, and I was shocked to see Dr. Wright enter the room behind Mr. Ankh. “You shouldn’t have allowed your daughter to—” Lips glossed a bright red clamped shut when she spotted me. Her eyes narrowed to tiny slits. “Alice Bell, what are you doing down here?”

  Kat clutched and twisted my shirt, whispering, “Is that Dr. Wright?”

  Neither adult turned to her but continued to focus on me.

  “It’s Ali,” I said.

  “I am still waiting for a confession,” Mr. Ankh said. “After all, you are the one who arrived with—” a sneer “—Justin Silverstone, are you not?”

  “Justin Silverstone?” Dr. Wright asked with a clear flare of dislike. Every day she’d wrapped her slight frame in some sort of business suit. Tonight she wore a soft, flowing dress completely at odds with her take-charge demeanor. Was she the new girlfriend of the week? “Cole won’t be happy about that. ”

  Kat pinched me on the arm.

  I wasn’t sure what she wanted. I was too confused. Dr. Wright, the principal of Asher High, was hanging out with Reeve’s father in a room full of dried blood and gurneys, but her biggest concern was my escort?

  Okay. She might care more about her students than her social life…even though her social life might just get her killed. Unless…had Mr. Ankh kept zombies down here?

  Yes, I decided a moment later, he had. That smell was too distinctive to spring from trash or mold.

  Did Cole know about this?

  I didn’t have to think about that for long, either. Yes, Cole knew. Otherwise he wouldn’t have let his entire crew take the night off and come here, not even with the Blood Lines. This had to be a safe place for zombie slayers. Which meant Reeve’s father was on our side. Which meant Dr. Wright was on our side, too, since she was with him, here, in this room.

  And if all the slayers hated Justin—and they must, considering the way they’d reacted to the mere mention of his name—I had to wonder if he was pro-zombie or something.

  What could Mr. Ankh possibly do down here, though? Study the zombies? Experiment on them? Was that even possible?

  “Ali, you have some explaining to do, and I will not tolerate lies, nonanswers or evasions,” Dr. Wright said, her dark gaze trying to X-ray its way to my brain. “Did Justin tell you to come down here?”

  Well, well. There was confirmation of my suspicions. “No, he didn’t. And now I’d like to return to the party with Kat. ” No reason to get her tangled up in this. Cole and crew would blame me. “We’re very sorry to have disturbed you. ”

  “You’re not walking away that easily,” she said right before Mr. Ankh said, “Very well, you may go. But if anything like this happens again…”

  You’ll regret it, I finished for him. “It won’t. ”

  Dr. Wright had stiffened after Mr. Ankh overrode her decision, but she didn’t protest.

  I reached back and grabbed Kat’s hand. She remained silent as I dragged her out. Both Mr. Ankh and Dr. Wright moved aside to allow us to pass. I held my dagger tight and maintained as much distance as possible, just in case I’d miscalculated and either one of them decided to attack.

  “Classic,” Kat said with a giggle the moment we reached the top of the stairs. “That was so wild! You were all, I don’t care what you do to us, I’m strong and brave. And they were all, like, oh, we’ll do plenty, we’re stronger. ”

  By tomorrow, when she retold the events to others—and she would—I would have punched Reeve’s dad in the face and tied Dr. Wright to a chair. True story.

  “What do you think they were doing together? Because Dr. Wright is soooo not his type. ”

  Discussing recent zombie activity? Planning a zombie attack? “Wish I knew,” I replied honestly.

  In the distance, I heard shrill chanting, my ears twitching as I tried to listen. Was that…fight fight fight?

  Kat must have heard it, too, because she paused and clapped. “Five dollars says it’s Cole. ”

  “No way,” I said, even though I suspected the worst. If you don’t go inside, you’ll be eating your teeth. You know I can make you do it. I have before.

  “Are you kidding? It’s always Cole. ”

  We raced through the house. When we reached the living room, the cheers were so loud I cringed. I shoved my way through the crowd, only to discover that yes, Kat was right. It was always Cole.

  The fight du jour? Cole versus Justin. Punches were being thrown and furniture overturned as the two rolled and flew throughout the circle of chanting teenagers. Justin had rage on his side, but Cole had experience and brute force.

  “Fight, fight, fight,” everyone continued.

  Cole could have pinned Justin in seconds, could have ended the entire ordeal. Instead he allowed himself to be hit in the face multiple times, in the stomach a few more, and in the groin—well, not at all. Only when Justin got down and dirty did Cole retaliate and really start to hammer at him.

  Frosty worked his way to Kat and jumped in front of her, shielding her just in case the action was tossed her way. I spotted Mackenzie—finally!—and even Trina, their fists pumping toward the ceiling, their mouths stretched in wide grins. They were loving this.

  “Enough!” I shouted over the cheers.

  Neither boy looked my way or acted as if they’d heard me. Cole threw two more punches, only two, but that was enough. The hard double tap sent Justin to his back, where he stayed, unconscious.

  I rushed forward, intending to check on him, but the dark-haired girl who enjoyed glaring at me on the bus beat me to his side. She felt for his pulse, then patted his cheek in an attempt to wake him up. He moaned, but failed to rouse completely.

  “Is he okay?” I asked.

  She looked up and scowled. “Stay away from him. You and your boyfriend have done enough. ”

  “Is Justin okay?” I insisted.

  “As if you really care. ” She returned her attention to Justin and smoothed her fingers over his cheek, clearly done with me.

  I had no idea who she was, but I wasn’t going to try and take over. Obviously she would take good care of him. Turning, I searched for Cole. He was still in the center of the room. Little beads of sweat dotted his brow. He was panting, blood smeared under his nose and on his chin, hands curled into fists. Mackenzie and Trina stood beside him, patting him on the back for a job well done.

  He must have sensed my gaze because he found me in an instant.

  “Are you okay?”

  “What?” he said.

  I knew only because I’d read his lips. There was too much noise and too much distance between us to hear each other. He motioned toward the kitchen with a tilt of his chin, and I nodded.

  I turned to Kat to let her know I was taking off, but she had her arms locked around Frosty and the two of them were kissing as if they needed the other’s oxygen supply to subsist.

  O-kay. Feud over? All forgiven? I hoped so. I liked them both. And maybe then Frosty would go back to being on Team Ali. Maybe he’d finally open up and tell Kat what was going on with the zombies, and I wouldn’t have to hide anything from her. We could remain friends.

  Cole beat me to the kitchen. He was leaning against the counter, waiting for me, his booted foot tapping impatiently.

  “Let’s clean you up,” I said.

  “No. ” He took my hand and tugged me to a spacious pantry—already occupied. As light flooded into the darkened area, sending the shadows diving for cover, Reeve and—oh, wow. Bronx. Reeve and Bronx jumped apart as if a bomb had just detonated between them.

  Their lips were swollen and red and damp. Twin pink circles appeared on Reeve’s cheeks as she peered over at me. I took pity on her.

  “I saw nothing—except when I mention this to Kat. You know I’ve gotta tell her, or we’ll both suffer. But you might want to go check out your living room,” I said. “Cole and Justin had a slight, uh, disagreement and
, well, they broke some stuff. Also, your dad is downstairs. ” Waaay downstairs.

  Her mouth dropped open wider with each ball of information I tossed, and she finally pushed her way out of the pantry.

  Bronx attempted to follow her, but Cole stepped into his path.

  “You know you’re not supposed to hang with her. ”

  A muscle ticked under Bronx’s eye. He remained silent.

  “And yet you thought it’d be okay with her father if you stuck your tongue down her throat?”

  Still refusing to answer, Bronx shoved his way out.

  “Why can’t he hang out with—” I began.

  “Nope. Not discussing that with you. ” Cole snapped the door closed, every shadow returning.

  Giving him a minute to calm down and myself a moment to adjust to the dark, I stood still and quiet. Bit by bit, I began to make out the different areas of the storage closet. As a whole, the enclosure was bigger than my bedroom. There were cans of food on the shelves, Crock-Pots and toasters on the floor. There was a ladder, and other things guys found necessary.

  “Reeve’s dad texted me,” Cole said, “and told me you were downstairs. ”

  “Is he one of you?”

  Several beats of silence passed before he admitted, “Yes. He and my dad are friends, and he funds our activities. He can’t see the zombies, but he’s seen what they do to us and helps us when we’re bitten—on the condition that Reeve stays out of it. ”

  Good to know. “And Dr. Wright?”

  “She knows. We needed someone on our side at school, and she was it. ”

  As I’d suspected. Now, switching gears. “What was the fight about?”

  “Justin asked me where you were. I told him I didn’t know. He told me to go to hell and stay away from you. I told him you’d made your choice and he needed to deal. ”

  “So he hit you?”

  “No. He said you belonged on his team and if I tried to recruit you you’d be killed. ”

  “So you hit him?”

  “I did. Broke his nose, too. ”

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