Lake Tahoe, July 1st, 2018
I'm Erin. You don't know me, but I know a little bit about you. I found your library card in my bedroom in this cabin. Here’s what I know about... [+]
The creepy old house smells like three-month-old kitty litter and rotting dumpster food.
The night is cold, and the air in the run-down house even colder. Rachel takes another step down the hall. She lifts her head toward the ceiling and takes another whiff. If yuck was a smell, this would definitely be it, she thinks.
Eleven-year-old Rachel Reynolds is a zombie whisperer and can talk to the un-dead.
Unfortunately, she has yet to test that theory because she has never come in contact with one, but today that could change.
“I don’t see why we have to look for zombies in here. This place is disgusting, and I can’t see a thing,” Rachel’s best friend, Ravi, whispers.
“I’m glad it’s dark,” Rachel says. “So I can’t see what that smell is. Pee-yew!”
“This smell is stronger than the gym locker rooms after two-mile run day,” Ravi says holding his nose.
Rachel allowed Ravi to tag along because he is the only person who didn’t laugh when she told him she can talk to zombies. Even Rachel’s nine-year-old little sister, Zoya, had stuck out her tongue and said, “You’ll never find ghosts in this town. They only live in Transylvania.”
“Vampires live in Transylvania,” Rachel had corrected. “And I’m looking for zombies, not ghosts.”
Earlier, Zoya had begged to come along but Rachel had made her stay home. She was a zombie whisperer, not a babysitter.
“Was that a rat?” Ravi whispers. “Did you see it?”
With Ravi two steps behind, they continue on with their quest. They creep further into the old, spooky house.
Rachel stops suddenly. Ravi bounces off her back. “W-w-what is it? Do you h-h-hear something?” He whispers. “I-i-i-is it a zombie? Can you see him? What does he look like? Or is he a she-zombie?”
THUMP! Squoosh! It sounds like a heavy boot squishing into a pile of pudding.
Thump! Squoosh! The noise comes from a dark room down the hall. The door is closed but the sliver of light underneath the door reveals a shadow moving about. With a sweaty palm, Ravi grabs Rachel’s arm. “Can we go now...please?”
“Not yet,” Rachel tells him.
When Rachel takes a step, Ravi takes a step. He shadows her every move all the way down the hall.
They halt when they come to the large, termite-eaten door. The shadow stops moving. The boot in the pudding noise stops. The rickety door leans off its hinges, enough so that Rachel is able to peek through the crack. She doesn’t see anything except an old rocking chair, a dusty rug and a tiny window in the corner.
With one hand clutching her zombie-whispering backpack and the other on the knob, Rachel slowly pulls the door open.
She can feel it in her bones, today’s the day they come face-to-face with a real live zombie—or rather, a real dead one.
“I wanna go home,” Ravi pleads. “It’s getting dark and I haven’t had dinner yet. Mom’s making quinoa. I love quinoa. I don’t want a zombie to get me before I’ve had some quinoa.”
Rachel focuses on the door. “We can’t go now. Imagine the awesome stories we’ll tell the other kids at school.” She yanks open the door.
“AAAAAAAAAAGGGG!” Ravi screams directly into Rachel’s ear. When she sees what he’s looking at, Rachel understands why. This creature, this thing standing in front of her is what nightmares are made of.
Rachel’s little sister, Zoya, sticks her arms out in front of her and rocks side to side: THUMP!Squoosh! She’s wearing a pair of big black rubber-y boots and every time she takes a step it makes the same noise. THUMP! Squoosh!
“Ooooooooo, I’mmmm a zombieeeee.” She laughs. In that same zombie voice she says, “And don’t tell meeeeee I can’t go with youuuuu to talk to a bunch of zombieeeeees. I beeeeeat you here and even scared your boyfrienddddddd.” She laughs again.
“Ravi’s not my boyfriend.”
“I’d rather have seen a zombie,” Ravi says, rolling his eyes. “A real one.”
“You and me both,” Rachel says. “Next time for sure.”
Rachel turns and heads out of the room. Ravi follows with Zoya thump squooshing behind them.
They walk out the front door and head to Ravi’s house for some quinoa.