Alice in zombieland, p.60

Alice in Zombieland, page 60

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 60

 

  My life had just taken another terrible turn, and I had a sick feeling things were only going to get worse. And you know what? I’d had this feeling several times before…and not once had I been wrong.

  17

  A Nightmare of Zombie Proportions

  For the third time in less than six months, I attended a funeral. Unlike the others, this morning dawned bright and beautiful. The air was cold enough that I needed a coat, the wind a frenzy; it was the kind of day my dad had loved.

  This time, I wasn’t closed off from the proceedings. I couldn’t be. Nana needed me too desperately. I sat beside her and clutched her shaky hand. I let her cry on my shoulder, and then I cried on hers.

  Cole sat on my other side and held my other hand. He was my rock. He’d picked us up, not wanting either of us to drive while we were so emotional. We hadn’t had a vision, and that had surprised me, but I hadn’t had the energy to figure out why.

  An even bigger surprise—Cole had given me an iPod loaded with music he’d thought I would like. He’d noticed I was without one. I’d been crying too hard to say thank you. I know he felt bad about what had happened to Pops, and he was trying to make things better for me, but the fault was not his.

  “We’re digging into Anima Industries,” he’d said when I’d calmed. At my quizzical look he’d added, “The company Justin works for. We’ll find a way to take them down, once and for all. ”

  “Good. ” The sooner the better.

  I watched as people walked past Pops’s casket to pay their respects—and saw Emma winding her way through them, the wind not touching her. No one else spotted her. Tears tracked down her cheeks. She stopped in front of me and placed her dainty little hands on my shoulders.

  I felt the slightest pinprick of heat.

  Cole stiffened. Could he feel her, too? See her?

  “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I thought that if I stopped warning you of the attacks, you would stop going out to hunt the zombies. Instead they got Pops, just like they got…”

  “Who?” I asked, and several people glanced over at me.

  Emma turned a sickly shade of white. “Ali, don’t make me…not here. ”

  “Who,” I demanded, and Nana squeezed my hand to try and settle me down.

  “I… Ali, have you wondered what a witness is? It’s someone who has died, who lives in heaven and watches over the lives of those she loved. That’s what I do. I watch you. I cheer you on. I hurt when you hurt. Let this go. ”

  “I can’t. ”

  I thought she would leave me then, but she didn’t. She sighed and said, “I’d hoped to save you from this, but I can see your determination is too great. It’s…Daddy,” she whispered. “He’s out there, and he wants to turn you. They tried to get Mom, but she fought the evil and won. She’s up there with me, and she wants you safe, too. Let this go, Alice. For us. ” With a sad, soft smile, she vanished.

  I could only reel. My father was a zombie. That’s what she’d tried to warn me about before, the thing that would hurt me worse than I’d ever been hurt. My father was a zombie, and there was nothing I could do to help him.

  He wouldn’t want my help anyway.

  He was coming for me. Hoped to kill me.

  I was still in shock when Cole dropped off Nana and me at home. His dad needed him to do something, he’d said, or he would have stayed with me. He’d told me what that something was, but I’d tuned him out. Nana retreated to her room and I retreated to mine. Kat called, but I let her go to voice mail. Cole called an hour after that, but I let him go to voice mail, too. I lay on my bed, lost in a nightmare I hadn’t known I was living in.

  My father was a zombie.

  My father, whom I’d placed in the line of danger.

  My father, whom I had served up on a silver platter.

  He was beyond salvation.

  How was I supposed to deal with this? With a shaky hand I picked up the journal, flipped through the pages. Answers were in here. I knew they were. If only another passage would morph…into…English.

  Even before the thought finished, several paragraphs cleared, hieroglyphics changing into letters.

  Throughout your fight against the zombies, you’ll face many hardships. People will call you crazy. Some of your family and friends will be bitten. Some of your family and friends will die.

  Never forget that evil is evil. You cannot change it. You cannot lead it to the light. But, if you let it, evil can lead you to the darkness.

  You’re probably wondering who I am, how I know what I know—and how you’re reading this. No, it’s not magic. I wrote this for those who are in spirit.

  In spirit. I wondered if that meant I would be able to read every word if I left my body. Wondered if the others would be able to read it if they left theirs. Maybe, but at the moment I was too wrung out emotionally to care either way.

  If you’re reading this while you’re in the natural realm, then you’re like me, more conscious of spiritual things. If you’re having trouble reading it, don’t worry. When your mind is ready for the rest of the information, you’ll be able to read the passages.

  Do you want to know more about the evil? No. No, I think you’re more interested in love. You want to know what you can do to save the people you love. I know, because I hungered for that information, too. Tell them the truth. Teach them. The unseen, unknown enemy is still the enemy. If they know, they can fight. If they refuse to believe you, you’ve still done your best.

  My eyesight hazed from a new flood of tears. I wished I had told Pops the truth. I wished I’d taught him to fight. Now, it was too late.

  * * *

  I must have cried myself to sleep, because the next thing I knew, a knock was shaking my window.

  I wrenched awake, hair tumbling around my shoulders and the journal falling to the floor. I rubbed at my eyes, my heart hammering in my chest. Cole raised the pane and slipped inside my room—but that only made my heart beat harder. He was armed for war. He wore black from head to toe, had the black smudges under his eyes to absorb light, had knives anchored on his arms and hilts sticking out of his boots.

  “I’m sorry to do this now, and this way, but you ignored my calls and texts,” he said, “and we need you. We found a nest inside a house about a mile away. We’re going to flush them out, and we need your help. We’ve never seen anyone light up like you did or ash a zombie so quickly, and we hope you can take them all down. ”

  Fight the enemy. I could do that, no matter how bad I felt. “I need to change. ”

  “Hurry. ”

  As I geared up in the bathroom, Cole said hesitantly, “I saw your sister today. ”

  I stilled, the shirt I’d been pulling on catching on my ears.

  “I heard her, too,” he added.

  Then he knew. He knew my father could be part of this new nest.

  “I’m sorry, Ali. ”

  Shaking now, I finished dressing and stepped into the room. Cole was leaning against the wall, arms crossed.

  “Can you do this?” he asked.

  Could I? I’d ended my grandfather. My dad would attack me if given the chance, just as Pops had. In another life, Dad would have hated himself for that. And in that other life, I think he would have wanted me to end him permanently. But could I really live with myself if I ended him a second time?

  “I need to tell my grandmother I’m leaving,” I said, ignoring his question. “And someone will need to come over and protect her. ”

  He accepted the change of subject without comment. “Already thought of that. My dad is on his way here. ”

  Okay, then. Together we pounded downstairs. Nana was walking around the corner, looking older than her years. One glance at us and she realized what was happening. To my surprise, she didn’t try to stop me. She planted a kiss on my cheek and said, “Be careful. ”

  “We will,” I a
ssured her.

  “We’ve reinforced the Blood Line around the house,” Cole said, “and my father should be here any minute. He’s going to stay with you for the rest of the night. ”

  “Th-thank you. ” She left us then, without demanding any details. Probably because she’d started crying.

  I wanted to run after her but forced myself to stay where I was. “I hate this. All of it. ”

  “I know, but the only way to make things better is to keep doing what we’re doing. ” He cupped my cheeks and looked into my eyes—and the world vanished—

  —I was lying on my back, coughing, blood gurgling from my mouth. Cole hovered over me, tears tracking down his cheeks—

  —I was standing in front of him again, the vision gone as quickly as it had started.

  “That was…” He shook his head. “You’re staying here. ”

  “Because I might be injured?” After he’d just told me the only way to make things better was to keep doing what we were doing? I shook my head violently. “We don’t know when the visions come true. The first took forever to happen, and besides that, I can’t stay here the rest of my life, hoping to avoid this one. ”

  “You were dying!”

  “I would have healed. ”

  “I’ve held death in my hands,” he shouted, shaking me. “You were dying, and you would not have healed. Therefore, you’re staying here. Let me and the others deal with this. ”

  “No. You said you needed me. ”

  “Ali, please. I can’t lose you to—”

  “Stop. ” Though my mouth had dried up and fear swam through me, I put on a brave face. “You’re wasting time. ” I brushed past him, reaching for the door. “You can stay if you want, but I’m going. ”

  I stepped outside. The sun was setting, the sky a haze of azure and violet.

  Masked men swarmed me.

  Screaming, I scrambled backward, thinking this was an illusion, an extension of the vision, but someone managed to wrap me in his iron-hard arms and cart me toward a waiting van while the others converged inside and tackled Cole. I could hear the whistle of his blades, the hiss of his breath.

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