Alice in zombieland, p.5

Alice in Zombieland, page 5

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland



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Page 5

 

  “Cool. I’m Kathryn, but everyone calls me Kat. And do not make any cat jokes or I’ll have to hurt you. With my claws. ” She waved the long, blunt tips of her fingers at me. “Truth is, I stopped speaking meow a long time ago. ”

  Speaking meow? “I’m guessing calling you Pretty Kitty is out. ” I don’t know where my burst of humor sprang from, but I wasn’t gonna fight it. All of my energy was needed fighting everything else. “But what about Mad Dog?”

  Her lips twitched into the semblance of a grin. “Har, har. But now I’ll be disappointed if you don’t call me Mad Dog. ” She shifted back on her heels, the movement graceful, fluid. “So, uh, yeah. About my visit. Let’s get the info exchange out of the way first. My mom works here, and she brought me with her today. She said you could really use a friend, or something equally tragic like that. ”

  “I’m fine,” I rushed out. There was that stupid word again. Fine.

  “I know, right? That’s what I told her. ” Kat sauntered over, pulled the only chair in the room next to my bed and plopped down. “Besides, people don’t open up to strangers. That’d just be weird. But she’s my mom, and you’re clearly in need of a shoulder to cry on, so what was I supposed to say? No? Even I’m not that cruel. ”

  Her pity wasn’t something I’d accept. “You can tell your mom I was rude and kicked you out. ”

  “Also,” she continued as if I hadn’t spoken, “life’s way too short to wallow in sorrow, I know. Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve already deduced, I’m stellar company. Oh, oh. And guess what? There’s an opening in my Fave Five—not those old lame phone commercials, but my actual inner circle—and I’m actively looking to fill the top spot. We’ll just consider this your interview. ”

  Somehow, her little speech caused that flicker of good humor to stir back to life. I couldn’t help but say, “Your top spot is a job, then?”

  “Of course. ” She fluffed her hair. “I don’t want to brag, but I’m very high maintenance. ”

  “Uh, I think low maintenance is what’s desirable. ”

  “Low maintenance is what’s forgettable. You might want to write that down, underline it, circle it and put a star by it. It’s golden. ” With barely a breath, she added, “Now let’s find out if we’re compatible, shall we?”

  O-kay. We were gonna do this thing, then. We were gonna go all the way. See Alice pretend everything is beyond peachy. “Sure. We shall. ”

  “So…you lost everyone, huh?” she asked.

  Talk about kicking things off with a bang. But at least she hadn’t offered platitudes or tiptoed around the subject. Maybe that’s why I responded to her with a croaked “Yeah. ” It was more than I’d offered anyone else.

  “Bummer. ”

  “Yeah. ”

  “You gonna eat that?” She pointed to the vanilla pudding someone had brought me earlier.

  “Nope. ”

  “Awesome. I’m starved. ” With a wide, white grin, she confiscated the pudding and the spoon and settled back in her chair. One taste left her moaning with satisfaction. “So check this out and tell me if you agree. ”

  “Uh, okay. ” I had a feeling I’d be uttering “uh” many more times before this conversation ended. Even sitting there, she was like a whirlwind of energy I had no idea how to contain.

  After another bite of the pudding, she said, “Here goes. See, my boyfriend and I decided to stay together for the summer, you know, even though he had to go visit some family in nowhereville. At least, that’s what he told me. Anyway, everything was fine at first, because you know, we talked every night, and then boom, he just stopped calling. So I called and texted him like the good girlfriend I am, and it wasn’t stalkerish, I swear, because I stopped after, like, the thirtieth time. A week goes by before he finally hits me back, and he was totally drunk and all, hey, baby, I miss you and what are you wearing, like no time had passed, and I was all, you so do not deserve to know. ”

  Silence.

  She watched me, expectant, as she took another bite of pudding. I was tempted to search the room to make sure she’d directed the information overload at me. The few friends I’d made over the years had shared stories about their lives and their boyfriends, of course, but none had ever done so at minute one or with such a flare for detail.

  “Well?” Kat prompted.

  Oh, right. This must be the part where I render my verdict. Agree or disagree. “I…agree?”

  “Exactly! And get this. He called me by the wrong name. Not during sex or anything like that, because if that had been the case, I would have killed him, and he would have been too busy being dead to try and explain, but on the phone, during our last conversation. ”

  Took me a minute of mind-mapping to wade through everything she’d said and find the X that marked the spot. “That sucks?” I’d meant to make a statement, but again I ended up asking a question.

  “I knew you’d get me! It’s like we were separated at birth. So, anyway, he and I had just hung up—well, I’d hung up on him, a real nice slam I’m still patting myself on the back for delivering—and my phone rings again, and he’s all, hey Rina. I’m like, Rina? What are you doing calling Rina? He stumbles around for a lie, but I knew. He’s a dirty man-whore cheating he-slut and I’m done with him. ”

  “Good. ” Well, well. What do you know? I was capable of making a statement. “Cheaters are scum. ”

  “Worse than scum. When school starts back up, I’m throwing down with that boy, and not in a good way. He promised to love me and only me forever and ever and even after forever ended, and he needs to pay for lying. Rina can just suck it raw and hopefully die of some terrible disease. She doesn’t deserve my precious time. ”

  School. Ugh. Here was another aspect of my life that would change. “Where do you go?”

  “Asher High. You know, best school ever. ”

  “My parents went there. ” Ugh again. Why’d I have to bring them up? I fisted the sheet, wishing I could snatch the words back. I could pretend to be normal, but only if the discussion stayed away from everything personal.

  “How about you?” she asked, not pursuing my slipup.

  Good, that was good. “Carver Academy. ” Not anymore, though. My grandparents lived in…the Asher High district, I realized. Guess I’d be seeing a lot more of Kat after summer break. I opened my mouth to tell her, but just as quickly closed it. No reason to light that particular fire.

  “An Astro Jet, huh?” she said. “We kicked your butt last year on the field and the court. Go Tigers! I’m sure you cried about it, so here’s your warning for this year. You’re gonna lose again, and you’re gonna cry again. Sorry. The sooner you get used to the idea, the faster you’ll heal. ” She finished off the pudding and claimed my cup of water, tossing my straw aside and drinking from the rim. “So, do you have a boyfriend?”

  “No. ”

  One dark brow arched, and lips that were coated with a clear, glittery gloss pursed. “Girlfriend?”

  “No. ”

  “Too bad. Not about the girlfriend, though that would have been cool because you would have been my first lesbian friend and I would never have to worry about you stealing my man like that hobag Rina, but about the boyfriend. You could have set me up with one of his friends and I could have texted my ex pictures of our fake, steaming-hot love affair. So, hey, do you want me to steal a wheelchair and spring you? We can head down to the cafeteria and grab a burger. They aren’t the best, but after my pudding appetizer, I really need a meal. And, just for future reference, hunger makes me mental. ”

  Leave the room? Enter the world? “No, thanks. ” I settled more firmly against my mound of pillows, forced a yawn. “I’m kinda tired. ”

  She held up her hands, palms out in innocence and understanding, reminding me of—no one—and stood. “Say no more. I feel you. I’ll take off and let you rest. ” A few steps brought her to the door, where she paused to look back at m
e. “You know, I think I’m gonna like you, Ali Bell. I’ll need a few more visits to help me decide for sure, but yeah, I think we’ll be tight and you’ll soar to the top of my Five. ” And then she was gone.

  * * *

  As it turned out, I stayed at the hospital only one more night. I didn’t see Kat for the rest of the summer, which was probably for the best. She was a nice girl, and I was bad company, and if she’d spent any more time with me she might have changed her mind about my acceptability. “Tight” would have become “please, please, please, never come near me again. ” I doubted I would have even made her Fave Fifty.

  Can you tell I was a depressed, neurotic mess?

  To my consternation, my grandparents saw right through my “I’ll be okay” murmurs and spent hours, days, weeks, trying to cheer me up. They were wonderful people, they really were, but I know I frustrated them.

  I should be crying, they said. I’d feel better. What I couldn’t bring myself to tell them was that my tears were on lockdown. Every day I could feel the burn of them behind my eyes, but the droplets never formed, never fell. And to be honest, the lack didn’t bother me. I didn’t want to cry. Deep down I had accepted the fact that I deserved to suffer…to seethe on the inside.

  Actually, I deserved worse.

  When the day of the funeral dawned, I stunned everyone, including myself, by asking to skip it. I just…I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing where my family would spend the rest of eternity, rotting for years before disappearing altogether. And even though that would have counted as the “worse,” I still wanted to remember them as they’d been: alive and vibrant. But of course, my grandparents denied my request.

  On the drive over, I sat in the backseat of their sedan. Today they were dressed in head-to-toe black, as was I. They’d bought me a fancy new dress. I really wish they hadn’t gone to the trouble or the expense. I would have rather worn a potato sack. This was a terrible day, and I would have liked my clothing to reflect that.
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