"You didn't," Andi said, her hand pressed to her mouth. They'd walked home together and were almost to her house.
"Yeah. He all but asked for it by being an ass. So Randy and Vince filled a lunch sack with dog doo, and Jay borrowed one of his dad's lighters. I rang the doorbell as soon as Jay had the bag lit, and we ran like hell. We couldn't see from our hiding spot, but by the way he cursed, we knew he stamped it out. Hopefully with his indoor slippers."
"Oh no," Andi said, this time not successfully holding back the laughter. "I've made friends with a hooligan. Not doing homework yesterday, and telling me about lighting dog poop on fire today."
He winked at her. "Yeah, you better watch out. I'm dangerous."
She lost it even more and gave him a half-hug to keep from toppling over as she laughed. Ben took a deep breath and held it, but he didn't think she noticed. Good.
They walked a little ways further, and she wiped away some tears that had spilled out. By the time she regained control, they were in front of her house. "Thanks for walking me home," she said. "It's nice to have company."
"Glad to. You're fun to be around." And nice to look at, he thought, but didn't dare say it aloud. She dressed like most girls at school, with jeans and a tight white shirt, but he had to admit he liked the way she looked in the clothes better than any other girl.
"I don't know about that." She nudged his arm. "I've never even thought about leaving a flaming bag of poop on a doorstep."
He nudged her back. "I'm guessing you have some secrets you haven't told me yet."
"Maybe. You'll have to wait and see if I share."
Had she hesitated and looked nervous before she said that? No, he was being silly and reading too much into everything. "I can be patient," he said.
"We'll see." She turned towards her house, but before she moved, she looked back at him. "Hey, since you walk this way anyway, would you mind if I joined you on the way to school?"
His breath caught in his throat, but he managed to nod and choke out, "I'd like that."
"Me too." She moved her face close to his, then stopped, blushed, and hurried up to her house. Whoa, she almost kissed him. Too bad she stopped. That would have been cool.
He started towards home, not sure his feet were even touching the ground. He hadn't felt this good the time he and Melissa had made out, and Andi's lips hadn't even touched his. Weird. And she was so easy to talk to. He always ran out of stuff to say to Melissa, but with Andi he felt like he could talk for hours without repeating anything. And it was even better that they could be silly together. Melissa didn't tolerate that. They spent half of lunch today coming up with new ways to shorten different names after she said she went by Andi because no one expected Alexandria to be shortened like that. Everyone, predictably, tried to call her Alex.
Before he lost himself in more thoughts, he spun back towards her house. That strange tingling sensation assaulted his neck again, just like yesterday morning. No, that was impossible. All of that seemed like such a dream. How could the zombies be back now?
There were four shuffling around the house. Like people, each had different features and such, but all shared the same limping stride and pale bluish-green skin tone, just like the two yesterday. This group moved around the front porch and pushed through the side gate to the backyard. Ben dropped his backpack on the front lawn and followed at a safe distance. He'd see what they were up to and then ring the doorbell to warn Andi.
A quick peek into the backyard showed Andi and her parents already waiting for the zombies. Her mom had the same two short swords she used yesterday morning, but neither Andi nor her dad had any weapons at all. As the zombies lumbered forward, none of the Thomas's looked frightened. But that was okay because Ben's heart beat fast enough for everyone put together.
Without warning, Mrs. Thomas leapt, skewering a zombie's torso with one sword, while decapitating it with the other. In the same motion, she lunged at a second. While that was going on, something happened to Andi and her father. Their necks stretched, his about ten feet, hers not quite as long, and their heads morphed into some sort of blue reptile. No way. He was hallucinating again. But that wasn't true, and he knew it.
As her mother decimated the second zombie, Andi and her father each bit the remaining two in half. When all four lay in still wiggling pieces, Andi and her dad reverted back to normal. Ben blinked hard to see if all of this had really just happened.
"Andi, the lighter fluid is in the garage," her dad said. "It's next to the box marked BBQ. Go grab it before they start to regenerate."
"Wait," Mrs. Thomas said. She looked towards Ben, and Andi and her dad tensed, ready to jump back into action. Ben pulled his head back and hoped she hadn't seen him. He thought about running, but before he moved, she said, "It's okay, Ben. Come on out."