Authors: Rhiannon Frater
The Living Dead Boy
a novel by Rhiannon Frater
The Living Dead Boy
By Rhiannon Frater
Previously published as
The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters
Copyright © 2010 - 2013. All Rights reserved
originally appeared in
Library of the Living Dead Press, May 2009
Edited by Felicia A. Tiller
Cover art and design by Claudia McKinney
Interior formatting by Kody Boye
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronically, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the proper written permission of both the copyright owner and “Library of the Living Dead Press,” except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events and situation are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or undead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.
To Parents and Adult Readers
A long time ago, as I sat at my desk typing away on a new story, I had Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” blasting away on my speakers. My nephew, who was around four at the time, came running into the room, began dancing, and singing “living dead boy” at the top of this lungs.
And that is how this story got its name.
My nephew is now in his early teens, a zombie fanatic, and one of the coolest kids I have ever known. He’s got a great sense of humor and charm to boot. I told him about my idea of a little boy and his friends fighting off zombies and he said, “Oh, a story about me.”
Well, this story isn’t about my nephew, Brandon, but it is inspired by him.
Whenever he visits, I watch him play zombie games and he watches zombie movies with me. He often tells me what he would do if the zombies show up. When his younger cousin, J.T. visits at the same time, there is plenty of smack talking about how they would handle zombies. Even my lovely niece, Jacqueline, gets in on it.
My favorite memory of their last visit was when they pretended they were in the infected like in
28 Days Later
and leaped on my brother. Scary!
This story had been germinating in my mind for a very long time. My nephews and niece all encouraged me to write a story about kids and zombies. The three eldest children of two of my brothers are zombie obsessed. Even my youngest niece, who is only four at this time, is fascinated by zombies and the undead.
The Corpse Bride
is her favorite movie and toy.
Dr. Pus of the Library of the Living Dead podcast and press loved the story when I told it to him over the phone.
“Kids need a zombie story, too!” Dr. Pus declared.
So that is how Josh and his Zombie Hunters came into existence.
This is a story about kids and zombies, so it is not all fun and games. It is a horror story and people will die. It’s
Home Alone meets the Zombies
with a lot of laughs. It’s about every day kids suddenly facing the zombies they thought were so cool and realizing things are not quite as they imagined. They learn how to survive and be heroes in a way they never dreamed of.
My goal while writing was that a twelve year old and adult could read and lo
ve the story. I believe I have succeeded.
Rhiannon Frater, aunt to the living dead boy
June 12, 2010
Dedicated with much love to Brandon, the original living dead boy
J.T. Jacqueline, and Gabriella.
You are the original Zombie Hunters.
Heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Pus.
This story is also dedicated to the memory of your amazing father. He inspired me when
writing about Josh’s dad.
Special thanks to my fans. Your support has been a source of inspiration.
And, as always, loving thanks to my mother and husband for their constant encouragement
Josh could feel his muscles tensing as the zombie shuffled across his backyard in relentless pursuit. Setting his feet apart, the twelve-year-old lifted his weapon higher over his head. Despite the cool spring air, sweat trickled down the bridge of his nose.
The zombie let out a low moan, its gray-mottled hand lashing out at him.
“C’mon, you undead turd head!”
The zombie moaned again, twisting its head back and forth, trying to focus on him. Its gruesome face was torn, revealing its yellow, broken teeth. Josh could hear the voices of his friends as they screamed instructions from the nearby clothesline, but he ignored them to focus on the creature bearing down on him. Taking deep breaths, he narrowed his gaze under his cap. His fingers, slick with sweat, tightened around the bat.
The zombie lurched forward, reaching out with a guttural growl. Its gnarled hands almost snagged him before he realized that he had underestimated its speed. With a shout, Josh swung the bat as hard as he could, slamming it into the side of the zombie’s head.
“Owwwwwwwww!” the zombie screamed, falling to his knees, gripping his head. “That hurt, Josh!”
“Oh, man, I’m sorry!” Josh instantly tossed the foam bat away, feeling the rush of adrenaline still pumping through his body.
Peals of laughter erupted from nearby, and Josh threw his friends a nasty look. Leaning down, he pulled the zombie mask off his best friend.
Arturo’s sweating face came into view. “That hurt, turd head!”
“Dude, I said I’m sorry. I don’t know my own strength! I didn’t think I would hit you that hard. You freaked me out, dude.”
“Man, this hurts!” Arturo touched his swelling cheek. “My Mom is going to kill me!”
“Great swing, chump,” Troy shouted at Josh, laughing hysterically.
“Gawd, Josh, why don’t you just kill him?” Roger, Troy’s brother, added.
The boys stood side by side laughing. Troy was adopted from Haiti and was named after Troy Aikman. Roger was named after Roger Staubach and was adopted from Cambodia. The brothers’ parents were diehard Dallas Cowboy fans and the boys wore team jerseys with the names of their parents’ heroes across their shoulders.
Shoving his straight black hair back from his brow, Roger crossed his eyes. “That’s what you look like, Arturo. I think he scrambled your brains.”
“They’re rotten anyway.” Troy grinned, and high-fived his brother.
Josh scowled at both of them as he helped Arturo up. The brothers thought they were hilarious; he thought they were annoying. But then again, they were both still in single digits at the age of nine. They had yet to reach his double-digit maturity level.
“Josh, seriously, my Mom is gonna kill me!” Arturo touched his cheek again, wincing.
“Look, just tell her that you ran into something.” He could already tell how this was going to go down. His Mom would get a phone call and all hell would break loose. She was already agitated enough over all the money problems his family was having.
“Josh, I can’t lie to my Mom. She can always tell when I’m lying, and then I really get it.”
“Well, the last time you got hurt playing zombies and survivors, she didn’t let you play with us for a week,” Josh reminded him. He pulled the plastic zombie-hand gloves off Arturo’s hands, feeling more than a little annoyed with the whole situation. “C’mon, let’s get back to training. We gotta be ready when the zombies come.”
“Dude, zombies aren’t real. Chill out. This is just for fun.” Troy shook his head dramatically, his hair bobbing around his head like a cloud. He had a pretty good size Afro going. His adoptive parents were white and determined that their children embrace their heritage. Roger sported a bowl haircut that got him beat up by the older kids at school on a regular basis. The boys were probably lucky their parents were such diehard fans of the Cowboys, or they might have gotten stuck wearing native garb. Josh knew the boys had to eat food from their native countries once a week when they’d rather eat McDonald’s.
“Zombies might be real,” Josh corrected. “There is some weird stuff going down. I’m sure they’re coming.”
“How can you be so sure, turd breath?” Arturo kept poking at the puffy flesh on his cheek, wincing while doing it.
“I’m paying attention, that’s how I know!” Josh sighed, then shook his head. “Yeah, I used to just like zombies because they were scary and cool, but now I think they are really coming. I want us to be ready.”
“Your dad could just shoot them in the head,” Roger pointed out. “He’s got lots of guns and he’s a soldier.”
“He was a soldier.”
“He still has guns,” Arturo insisted.
Josh pushed his bangs out of his face and looked around his backyard. The other zombie in his training exercise was missing. “Yeah, but he...he...he doesn’t like using them.”
The big oak tree creaked and moaned above him as the wind sent the boughs into motion. The Zombie Fighters Headquarters remained securely tucked into the branches of the tree. The old one had fallen during a cold front, but his dad had helped them build a better, sturdier
tree house for their base of operations.
“He still has guns. He can still kill ‘em,” Troy said firmly. “My parents don’t like guns. They don’t even own them. But your dad does, so he’ll use them.”
“Yeah, he’ll head shot them!” Arturo exclaimed.
Roger made a big show of being shot in the head, his hand flying out dramatically from his temple to show the spray of brains, then fell to the ground.
“Drake, come out. We’re not playing anymore,” Josh called out. He didn’t want to talk about guns or his dad. There was a lot he had overhead when his parents were up late arguing. Ever since his Dad had come home after the war in Iraq ended, he had been different. Something bad had happened, Josh was sure of it. “Drake! Come out!” The last thing he needed was his little turd of a brother disappearing on his watch.
Troy pretended to get shot by what looked like machine gun fire before flopping over his brother’s “dead” body. Not to be left out, Arturo took several imaginary rounds to the chest before falling to the ground.
Josh ignored the make believe battle around him and began to scan the bushes along the fence line for his little brother. “C’mon, Drake! Come out. We’re not training anymore.”
A knot formed in his gut as he again swept his gaze over the family swing and slide playscape his Dad had made out of scrap wood. Maybe Drake was hiding up on the platform. He wasn’t supposed to climb up that high without Josh watching him. If he fell down, Josh would be in a world of trouble.
Nearby, his friends were getting up and pretending to get shot again. The deaths were growing more dramatic. He would have found them funny if not for the missing Drake.
“Drake!” His mom would kill him if anything bad happened to his little brother.
Josh began to jog toward the playset, terrified that Drake had managed to get up there wearing the zombie mask and had fallen down the slide.
A tiny form darted out of the nearby bushes, grabbed his hand, and bit down.
Josh stumbled back, shocked as pain gripped him. Jerking his hand back, he sent his attacker sprawling. The small zombie hit the ground and immediately burst into tears.
“Dammit, Drake! You weren’t supposed to really bite me!”
“Yeah, he was,” Troy pointed out from where he lay on the ground, emulating a dead zombie. “You told him to be a zombie. Zombies bite.”
Josh rubbed the indentations in his hand irritably as he knelt down next to Drake. The three-year old’s crying was muffled by the plastic zombie mask. It was made for an adult and its gaping maw was big enough to expose the bottom half of Drake’s face. Josh could see his brother’s head was turned to the side as he sobbed inside the hideous mask. It was one of Josh’s favorites with its dangling eyeball and missing jaw.
“You hurt me,” Drake sobbed. “I’m… gonna… tell.”
“I’m sorry, Drake,” Josh said, trying not to sound annoyed. He pulled the mask off his brother’s head and the younger boy’s golden curls glinted in the fading Texas sunlight. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Don’t be a wussy, Drake,” Troy called out.
“Yeah, Drake. Be a man,” Arturo added.
Roger remained dead on the ground.
“not…a man...want...to...be...the...baby...” Drake sniffled.
“C’mon. Get up before Mom comes out,” Josh ordered.
“No, I’m the baby. You hurt me.”
The screen door to the back porch swung open. “Josh? What’s wrong with your brother?”
With a sigh, Josh looked up to see his mother standing on the cement steps that led up to the house. Her hand was on one hip and her blond hair, the same color as Drake’s, was hanging around her face in soft curls.
“Get up, wimp,” Josh hissed, trying to pull his brother up.
Drake let out a howl that sounded worse than any movie zombie.
“Great,” Josh sighed, resigned to the verbal tongue lashing that was coming.
“Josh! What happened? What did you do to your brother?”
His mother launched herself off the steps and ran into the yard. Josh clutched the zombie mask tightly in his hand as she neared him. Drake was still sobbing, but Josh could tell it was fake. This was just his luck. His zombie training had gone wrong, and now his brother was going to get him in trouble.
Sweeping Drake up into her arms, his mom gave Josh a stern expression. “Okay, enough of all this. Get your stuff together and come inside. Dinner is soon anyway. Your Dad will be home any minute now.”
“Fine,” Josh grumbled. He felt humiliated in front of his friends. It was rough being the leader of his motley crew of Zombie Hunters and it didn’t help to be chastised by his mother.
“Okay, boys. You better head home. I’m sure it is almost your dinner time, too.” Cradling Drake against her, his mom walked back toward the house. “Hurry up, Josh. And we’ll talk about how you need to take care of your brother and not pick on him when you get inside.”
Exhaling slowly, trying to keep his temper, Josh watched his mother disappear back into the old house. Drake smiled and waved over her shoulder at him.
“Little pest,” Josh muttered.
“Your Mom is so hot,” Arturo said in awe.
“No, she’s not.”
“Uh huh,” Troy corrected.
“Very hot,” Roger agreed.
“She’s just a stupid mom,” Josh groused. “I better get inside.” He grabbed up his zombie masks and the zombie gloves as the other boys began to pick up their stuff.
“See ya tomorrow at school, Josh,” Troy called out as the boys headed to the back gate.
Josh trudged along behind his friends trying hard not to let the resentment he felt growing in his chest overwhelm him. He hated that his little brother could get him in trouble so easily, and he hated it that his friends didn’t take his training sessions seriously. Shoving his damp bangs off his forehead, he sighed dramatically.
“Look, dude, at least there aren’t real zombies,” Arturo said as he paused at the gate. The shorter boy grinned at him, flashing all his white teeth.
“Yeah, playing zombies is cool, but it would not be cool if they were real,” Troy agreed.
“That would super-suck in a big way.” Roger pulled the gate open. “They’d be all...smelly...and nasty.”
“Superman could totally kick their butt,” Arturo decided.
“Or Spider-man,” Troy said, quickly standing up for his favorite superhero.
“Didn’t all the superheroes go zombie in the Marvel comics?” Roger asked.
“Superheroes aren’t real, so they wouldn’t help us with zombies,” Josh answered. “And yeah, Marvel has the superheroes be zombies. And that’s lame. Superman is the man of steel. They couldn’t bite him.” Josh felt confident in this proclamation. He had yet to actually see the comics, but he was hoping to one day read them.
“Well, zombies aren’t real either, so we’re safe,” Arturo declared.
“That’s the thing, Arturo. I think they are real. I watch the Zombie Tracker forum every day and there are some really weird news stories going on out there. Really weird! They’re not fake either. I looked them up on CNN and MSNBC. They were real news stories. I think something really super-bad is happening and the government is hiding it. That’s why I keep trying to get you guys to train. This isn’t a game anymore.”
“Chill out, man.” Troy shook his head. “C’mon. Even our parents would be all paranoid and loading up on ammo and stuff if they thought we were in danger.”
“Yeah, my Mom freaks if I sneeze,” Arturo agreed. “She’d go buy a bazooka or something.”
“And your Dad would probably be recalled to Fort Hood,” Roger added, vigorously rubbing his nose. He was always sneezing and having trouble with his allergies. “They’d be boarding up the windows like in
Night of the Living Dead