ZIA The Teenage Zombie & The Undead Diaries By Angela Scott (Coming 2015 - MG/YA)
I push open the door to Mr. T’s room and hesitate before stepping inside. Since I’ve never taken wood shop before I’m rather alarmed at all the machines and tools that line the walls and various work benches. Gunner was right. I could lose more than my brain here.
I’m about to change my mind and walk away when Eli calls to me. "Zia, over here!" He’s sitting near the back, his backpack tossed on the floor, and several bottles of chemicals on the table in front of him. He waves me over.
I didn’t even know he knew my name. Being only one of two zombies in the school, I should have figured he’d know. I start walking to where he sits, waiting for me. The entire wood shop is empty of people. Not even the teacher is here, which I find rather disturbing. Shouldn’t someone be monitoring our activity? What if Eli is about to blow up the place with his chemical concoction or tries to decapitate me? There are laws against both of those things, but it doesn’t stop some people from giving it a good try.
But we are left alone, and so I decide I best be careful.
"I’m not going to hurt you," he says. "I think I got it figured out."
I’m still not sure about this, especially when I see the sand paper lying next to everything else he has placed on the table. Sand paper can’t be good.
"You still got your finger?" He looks at me and I nod. I reach in my pocket and hand it over to him. Eli turns it over, studying it, before he sets it down. "Let me see your hand."
I’m rather embarrassed. I’ve been trying to hide it all day—self-conscious, I guess.
"It’s okay." He holds his hand out to me and I slowly slip my hand into his. He doesn’t freak. He doesn’t scream. He just looks at the knuckle where the finger snapped off and stares at the jagged bone. "Do you know how you did it?" he asks.
I shake my head. "I have no idea. It was attached one minute. The next you were handing it back to me."
"Interesting," he says while still holding my hand in his. He glances at me and smiles. "So you don’t feel any pain at all?"
"Then you need to be more careful."
I indicated my finger on the table. "Don’t I know it."
"Your hand’s really cold." He turns my hand first one way and then another.
"Sorry." I try to pull my hand from his, but he continues to hold it and doesn’t let go.
"It’s okay," he says. "It doesn’t bother me."
I ask the question that’s been on my mind all day. "Why are you doing this?"
He narrows his brows and looks at me as though I’ve asked an odd question. "I just thought I could help."
"That’s exactly what I mean. No one helps me. Not now anyway."
He’s still holding my hand. "I refuse to play school politic type games. I have nothing against vamps or werewolves"—he pauses and looks at me—"or zombies. But if anyone tries to bite me or suck my blood, I’ll have to kill them."
I nod. "Fair enough." I wouldn’t expect any less. It was only several months ago I carried a wooden stake, a machete, and small pistol loaded with silver bullets in my backpack. ‘Tis the way of the world now. Most everyone has some sort of concealed weapon on them, including preschool children.
Now, I’m on the other side hoping no one will use their weapons on me. I do my best to behave and follow the rules, all of them even if I don’t completely agree.
"For the epoxy to stick, I’ll have to sand down the two ends of the bones. They won’t match up and hold together otherwise, but I can have this fixed in no time."
I watch him fold the sandpaper lengthwise, grab my hand once again, and with as much gentleness he can afford to give me, he runs it across my exposed bone, being careful not to nick the remaining skin around it.
"You doing okay?" he asks.
"Yeah, I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt." Vibrations run up the length of my arm, but that’s it. I feel no pain.
"Did you miss the bus?"
"Yeah, but that’s okay. If you can fix my finger, it will be worth it. My dad is still having a hard time with this whole me being a zombie thing."
"I can give you a ride home if you like?"
"That’s okay. I don’t want to put you out. You’re doing enough as it is and really, I can walk. It’s not far." My home is only a few miles from the school. If I’m lucky, don’t run into trouble and walk faster than my normal gait, I should be home a little after dark.
"And risk you losing another finger? No way. I’ll take you home."
"Eli, that’s nice and everything, but"—I hate even saying it—"I’ll stink up your car. It’s not an easy smell to get rid of either, so it’s better if I just walk."
"I have a motorcycle. The smell won’t even be a problem." He looks up and stops sanding my finger. "Besides, your smell isn’t that bad. Rory’s is much worse."
He picks up my finger and sands the bone. When he finishes, he sets it aside and begins to mix the powder and liquid compounds.
"This will set fast, so I’ve got to get it right the first time. You don’t want me gluing your finger on backwards."
A backward finger would be the least of my problems, but I don’t say so. He puts a bit of the goo on my finger, takes my hand once more, and presses the two pieces together.
"Isn’t Isabelle your sister or something?" he asks as he continues to hold my finger in place.
"She’s my step-sister. Why?"
He shakes his head. "No reason. I was just trying to connect the dots. I guess being step-sisters would explain why you’re pretty cool to talk to and she’s... not. No offense, but your step-sister thinks pretty highly of herself. A bit of a snob."
"No offense taken. I completely agree with you. Just imagine what it’s like living with her."
Eli laughs a little. "That’s okay. I’d rather not." He releases my hand. "Test that out. See what you think."
I bend my finger and move it around. It seems to be working just fine. Eli grabs my finger and gives it a tug. "Don’t toot."
"Never mind," he says. "Bad joke. Looks like your finger is holding."
Eli did a great job. He even glued the skin around my finger into place and unless someone looks closely, no one could even tell.
"Thanks. I appreciate this."
"No problem. Just let me clean up here and then I’ll take you home."
Eli is the first human besides my parents to take any interest in me. It’s kind of strange and even though I’m not sure what to make of it, I like it.