Jason and the Zombie, by Bob Simms
The zombie looked up guiltily, hiding the cigarette in the cup of his hand. Then he realised the greeting had emanated from a small child, standing in the shadow of the fire escape stairs. He brought the cigarette back up to his lips and took a long draft. He nodded a greeting to the boy as he slowly exhaled. His audience stared in unembarrassed fascination.
“My mum says smoking is slow death.”
The zombie shrugged.
“I’m in no hurry.”
“She says only silly people smoke.”
“Yes, and she says if she ever catches me, she’ll knock me into next week.”
“She sounds a treasure. Why don’t you go back to her?”
“I’m seven,” said the boy, as though that were a complete rebuttal of the zombie’s suggestion.
“You want to make it to eight?” said the zombie. The boy nodded. “Then go back to your mum.”
“Mum’s not here.”
“No, I can see that.”
“Mum’s gone out with Uncle Jack. He’s not my real dad.”
“Really? I bet he’s disappointed.”
“My real dad lives in Wales. I go and visit him sometimes.”
“I don’t suppose you could go visit him now?”
“No, it’s a long way away, and it takes all day on the train, and I’m only seven.”
“Look, you shouldn’t be out on your own, kid. Who are you meant to be with?”
“My sister, only she’s talking to some boys, and she’s pretending I’m not there, so I’m pretending I’m not there either, so I’m here. Why do you look like that?”
The boy waved his hand in front of his face.
“You know, all white and green and funny looking.”
“Just a general tip to take with you through life, kid. Don’t make personal comments about people that are bigger than you, not if you want to see nine.”
“No, but why do you look like that?”
“I’m a zombie.”
The boy nodded and looked around the alley, as though he’d never seen the backs of buildings before. Then he turned back to the zombie and said, “What’s a zombie?”
“One of the undead.”
“What’s one of the undead?”
“I don’t know. Someone who was dead, and now’s alive. Walks around eating little boys’ brains.”
“Uncle Jack says if I had a brain I’d be a vegetable.”
“Really? He sounds a wonderful father figure. So he reckons you don’t have any brains?” The boy shrugged. “Oh well, I guess a snack is out of the question then. Didn’t your mum tell you not to talk to strangers?”
“Yes. Do you eat anybody’s brains, or just little boys’?”
“I don’t know. Anyone’s I suppose, them being in such short supply. Seriously kid, you need to go back to your sister before you get into trouble.”
“Would you eat a man’s brain too?”
“Would you eat Uncle Jack’s?”
The zombie shook his head and dropped the cigarette onto the ground. “You don’t get on with your Uncle Jack?” he said, grinding the cigarette out under his foot.
“He’s okay, I suppose,” said the little boy. “I mean, sometimes he shouts if I don’t do what I’m told.”
“Oh, but I bet that hardly ever happens, you not doing what you’re told.”
“Sometimes. But Mum says it’s because he’s not used to children, but Dad is, so maybe if you ate Uncle Jack’s brains, then Mum would let Dad come back.”
The zombie looked away from the boy, towards the other end of the alley, as though searching for something. After a moment he coughed and turned back.
“Look, I’ll tell you what. I’ll put him on my shopping list, okay? And if the supermarket runs out of brains, I’ll see what I can do. No promises, mind, and it might take a long time, but you just hang on there, okay? Come on.” He held out his hand, and the little boy took it. They turned and walked towards the front of the building. They had taken a few steps when a young girl rushed across the entrance of the alley, saw the boy and skidded to a stop.
“Jason, you little toerag, where have you been? When Mum finds out about this she’ll skin you alive!”
She marched into the alley.
“That’s my sister,” said Jason.
“Really? I wouldn’t have guessed,” said the zombie.
“You are so in….” Her eyes finally managed to shout over the panic-fuelled anger of her brain and her mouth formed a large ‘O’ as she registered what was holding Jason’s hand.
“Seven-year-olds need a lot of looking after,” said the zombie.
“Yeah, you’re telling me.”
“No,” said the zombie, still holding Jason’s hand. “I mean they need a lot of looking after. They get bored easily, they like exploring, they’ll talk to strangers without a second thought. That’s why your mum put him in the care of his seventeen-year-old sister.”
“Fifteen,” said the girl.
The zombie took in the makeup and the clothes.
“Really? Right, fifteen-year-old sister. Because fifteen-year-old sisters can be trusted to look after him, and not get distracted by, oh, I don’t know, boys who think she’s seventeen. Probably best for everyone if his mum doesn’t get to hear, I expect.”
He held Jason’s hand out, and his sister took it.
“So, you big Michael Jackson fans?”
The girl shrugged. “He was all right. It’s somewhere to go for an afternoon.”
The zombie jumped back and held his arms out straight in front of him. He la-la’d the intro to Thriller and treated the pair to a jerky dance. After a few bars he spun, pointed a finger at Jason and winked.
“The front doors must be open by now. Enjoy the show.”
Then he turned and walked back through the stage door.
Bob Simms is an IT trainer by day, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. He was bitten by the writing bug in the Autumn of 2006 and is now totally addicted. He lives in the UK with his wife. His wish for the future is that other people would find him as funny as he thinks himself.
His debut novel – The Young Demonkeeper – reached the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards 2011
Catch up with all his books at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bob-Simms/e/B004HQG246/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
(The UK is that little theme park off of the coast of Europe.)