“Your hideout is in the middle of the woods?” Amie wrinkled her nose. “Are there spiders?”
Zak shook his head in disgust. Here they were running from zombies and she was worried about spiders. The two kids picked their way through the woods and Zak thought how lucky he was that his parents had been captured. After escaping the alley and outrunning the zombies to the trees, Amie had told Zak her story and he had to admit she had it worse off than he did.
Both of her parents had been killed by zombies while Amie hid behind the couch in her living room. After the zombies left she fled to the treehouse because she thought it would be easier to stay hidden. She’d been up there since the night before. The only good news was that her parents were really dead and hadn’t come back as zombies.
Zak couldn’t help feeling weird about thinking dead parents was a good thing for Amie, but having parents who tried to eat your brains would be worse. Much worse.
“Those trees over there, that’s the hideout. Oh, and before we get there you need to know something…”
Amie narrowed her eyes at the tone in Zak’s voice. “What?” she asked suspiciously.
“My dog is with me, and he’s a zombie.”
Amie’s eyes widened.
“But it’s okay, because he doesn’t eat people brains, he only wants dog brains.” Zak finished with a rush, wondering how Amie was going to take the news, and then wondered why she was grinning. “What?” he asked suspiciously.
“I was afraid to tell you before, but this is Pookie.” Amie put the picnic basket on the ground, flipped open one of the lids, and pulled out a small tortoiseshell cat wearing a pink bonnet on its head. The cat looked at Zak and said, “Mmmmmnnnnnnrrrrr.”
“A zombie cat?!”
“She’s wearing a doll bonnet because there’s a big hole in her head where someone took a bite. Poor thing. I thought she was dead and then she climbed up into the treehouse with me. Nearly made me jump out of my skin. She almost fell off when I screamed.”
“You screamed? Let me guess — that’s when the zombies found you up in the treehouse?”
Amie cuddled the cat and said, “Yes, but I’m sure that was just a coincidence. Besides, she’s the only family I have now.”
“Okay, but keep her away from Jeffrey, my dog. He might want to eat her brains and if he does, there’s nothing I can do about that.” Zak turned and walked toward the hideout, pleased at the shocked look on Amie’s face.
Thirty minutes later Zak was more disgusted than ever. Jeffrey not only didn’t want to eat Pookie’s brains, he acted like he was in love with the cat. And Pookie kept rubbing her bonneted head against Jeffrey’s chest like he was just the best thing she’d ever seen.
Even worse than that, every time Zak got near, Pookie arched her back and made a weird zombie-cat hiss at him. She loved his dog and hated him.
Finishing up the last of his protein bar, Zak stood up and said, “Lunch is over, let’s start getting things planned out.” He reached for his backpack.
“Why should you be the one giving orders?”
Zak stopped what he was doing. “Because I’m the one with the plan,” he said standing as straight and tall as possible. “Because I’ve figured out a way to get past the zombies.”
“When I was hiding in my treehouse this morning I saw a boy running down the street in his underwear. Was that you?” asked Amie, with an innocent look on her face. “Is that one of your ways, because I’m not sure I like that one.”
“No…” Zak felt his face burning and knew it had just turned a deep crimson. “That must have been some other kid.”
“This kid had a poodle chasing after him — “
“Lots of kids have poodles.”
“ — with duct tape on his head and a pair of pants flapping behind him.” Amie could almost see the wheels turning in Zak’s head as he struggled to come up with an answer.
“Oh, that! Yeah, I was out jogging, getting some exercise and my dog got loose from the house, and…so…” Zak’s voice trailed out as Amie tried to hide her amusement.
She decided Zak had suffered enough for the moment and let him off the hook. “Okay, what kind of plan do you have?”