Read Zombie Bums from Uranus Online

Authors: Andy Griffiths

Zombie Bums from Uranus (11 page)

BOOK: Zombie Bums from Uranus

Then, behind them, Zack noticed another silhouette appear in the doorway.

It was Eleanor.

Zack tried to signal to her not to come in, but it was too late.

‘There you all are!' she exclaimed. ‘I've been looking everywhere for you! I was starting to get worried.'

Silas turned and began stumbling towards his daughter.

‘Run Eleanor!' yelled Zack. ‘He's not your dad! Not anymore!'

‘What are you talking about?' said Eleanor.

‘He's a zombie!' yelled Zack. ‘Check his bum!'

Eleanor's eyes suddenly grew wide with terror. She started to back away but it was too late. The zombie-Silas grabbed her arm.

Eleanor tried to break free, but the zombie-Silas was too powerful. He pulled her arm to his mouth, saliva dripping from his lips. But before his teeth could break Eleanor's skin, a dark shape flew across the room and wrapped itself around Silas Sterne's face.

Zack smiled.

It was Mittens!

Silas dropped Eleanor's arm and concentrated on trying to remove the cat from his face.

Eleanor swung her bumgun through the air and brought the butt of it down hard on her father's head. Silas staggered backwards towards the centre of the room.

Zack looked across the room to see Gran pinching both of the Kicker's cheeks at the same time. The Kicker leapt backwards—without realising that he was on a collision course with Silas.

Zack acted fast.

The Smacker was standing in front of him.

He pulled the sauce bottle out of his belt and squirted it in her face. She was so surprised that she staggered back towards the centre of the room as well.

The zombie-bummified bum-fighters all collided in the middle, knocking themselves out at the same time.

‘STRIKE!' yelled Zack's bum.

Zack tossed the sauce bottle high into the air and watched it spin. He caught it, licked the sauce from the top and tucked it back into his belt.

‘Good work, soldier,' said Gran.

‘I thought I told you all to stay in the bum-mobile,' said Eleanor.

‘Mittens got out,' Zack said.

Eleanor shook her head in disbelief. ‘So you risked your life for a cat?' she said. ‘How could you be so dumb?'

‘She's a good cat,' said Zack. ‘She saved your life!'

‘My life might not have needed saving if you hadn't disobeyed my orders, you idiot!' said Eleanor.

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘Language yourself!' replied Eleanor.

‘Remember your manners, soldier!' said Gran. ‘You're completely out of line!'

Eleanor was about to reply when she heard Silas groan.

‘Oh no,' said Zack. ‘They're coming to. What are we going to do?'

Eleanor looked wildly around the room. ‘The simulator,' she said. ‘We can lock them in until we
figure out how to dezombie-bummify them. I'll take Silas. Zack, you grab the Kicker. Can you handle the Smacker, Pincher?'

‘No problems,' said Gran, flexing her fingers.

Zack, Gran and Eleanor dragged the three heavy bum-fighters up the steps and clamped them into the simulator seats.

Then they locked the door.

‘Better run a program in case they wake up,' said Eleanor.

Zack opened the control panel and scrolled down the list of options:


Zack smiled. They all sounded deceptively pleasant.

But he knew better.

He'd been killed in every single one of them.

Over and over again.

He punched ‘
'. Despite the crapalanche, UFBs, brown river, bum-piranhas, poopigators, and sewage fall it offered excellent skiing and some of the most stunning simulated scenery Zack had ever virtually experienced.

The display offered a range of difficulty levels from one to ten. The control was already set at level ten.

That's odd, thought Zack. He was probably the
last person to have used the simulator and he was only a rookie. Rookies never went past level three. Why would the Kicker have had it on level ten?

Zack shrugged, set the time period for UNLIMITED and pressed the start button.

‘Bum voyage,' he said. ‘That ought to keep them out of trouble for a while.'

He turned to Eleanor and Gran.

They were sitting slumped against the wall, exhausted with the effort of dragging the Kicker, the Smacker and Silas into the simulator.

Zack was about to sit down when Mittens suddenly leapt onto Zack's bum.

‘Aaaggh!' yelled his bum.

‘Aaaaggghhh!' yelled Zack.

Eleanor grabbed the hissing and wildly clawing Mittens by her tail, and pulled her clear of Zack's bum. It was obvious what had happened.

Mittens had been zombie-bummified as well.

Eleanor climbed the steps of the simulator and started unlocking the door.

‘No!' said Gran, jumping up.

‘Sorry, but I have to do this,' said Eleanor. ‘This cat has been zombie-bummified! The simulator is the safest place for it.'

Gran nodded sadly.

Eleanor threw Mittens inside and slammed the door shut.

‘Good riddance to bad rubbish I say!' said Zack's bum as Zack dabbed at its bite-wound with a wad of toilet paper.

‘Put a cork in it!' said Gran, wiping a tear from her eye.

‘Language!' said Zack's bum.

‘We'd better get back to the bum-mobile,' said Eleanor. ‘It's too dangerous for us to stay here.'

They left the classroom.

On their way back to the bum-mobile, Zack had an idea. ‘Back in a second,' he said. Before Eleanor could object, he ran up the hill towards what remained of Silas Sterne's mansion.

Zack had found out enough about the true identity of his parents to become very worried about them. The coincidence of their being away ‘on tour with the orchestra' at almost exactly the same time that Silas Sterne had gone to Uranus seemed somehow more than a coincidence. But Zack needed to find out for sure.

He entered the front door of the mansion and headed towards the first door on the right.

He'd only been in Silas Sterne's office once before. That was when he'd first arrived at the Bum-fighting Academy. Silas had called him in and personally congratulated him on his success in defeating the Great White Bum. Zack remembered being completely overawed by the experience.

All around the room there had been pictures of the Bum Hunter—some of him in action, some of him posing with other famous bum hunters—along with a range of certificates, awards and trophy bums, which
he'd had stuffed and mounted on the wall. Zack remembered being particularly impressed by a rack of bum-harpoons ranging from the ultra-modern (laser sighting, self-sharpening head) to the ultra-primitive (a sharpened stick with feathers sticky-taped to the end).

Now, however, like the classroom, Silas's office was a mess, bearing all the signs of a great struggle. The harpoons were scattered all over the floor, pictures and awards cracked, and the trophy bums torn off the wall and ripped apart to reveal their feather and horsehair stuffing.

Zack bent down and picked one of the photos out of the rubble.

He wiped the dust off the cracked glass and saw the Bum Hunter with his arm around a woman who looked exactly like his gran, except without the wrinkles. At the bottom of the frame was a small brass plate inscribed with the words ‘Me and the Pincher: Siberian Crater 1927'.

Zack searched through the rubble until he found a filing cabinet marked ‘TOP SECRET E-MISSIONS: DO NOT OPEN'.

Under normal circumstances, Zack would never have even considered disobeying an instruction like this, but whatever the circumstances were, they were definitely not normal.

He pulled open the heavy drawer and flicked through the files past a bewildering array of bum hot spots—‘BOTSWANA', ‘BUMBAY', ‘SMELLBOURNE', and ‘THE NETHERLANDS'—until he came to a file marked ‘URANUS'.

Zack pulled it out.

It didn't take him long to find the E-mission statement (‘The purpose of this E-mission is to investigate the makeup of the rings of Uranus'), but it was the personnel list directly underneath it that made his eyes widen and stomach sink:


‘I thought so,' Zack said quietly. He folded the piece of paper and put it carefully in the top pocket of his bum-fighting overalls.

He desperately wished there was some way to contact his parents and get them to come home. But Uranus was two-and-a-half billion kilometres away. It was clearly impossible.

And yet Zack knew Silas Sterne had been recalled from Uranus a few weeks earlier to help deal with the unfolding bumcano crisis. If he'd been contacted from Earth then there
to be a way to get in touch with his parents.

Zack searched the office for a clue.

But he found nothing.

He was about to give up and leave when he noticed a red button behind a small frame of glass on the wall behind the door.

He studied it closely. There was a small plaque attached. It read:

To be used strictly for urgent recall of
bum-fighters on E-missions in case they're
needed back on Earth to help deal with a
bumergency such as a bumcano crisis, zombie
bum invasion or something like that.


Zack knew exactly what he had to do.

He broke the glass.

He pressed the button.

A square section of the wall slid away to reveal an illuminated screen. A keyboard slid out from underneath it.

‘Welcome to bumergency recall,' said a computerised voice. ‘Please type in the names of the operatives you wish to recall and supply a brief explanation.'

Zack—who was not quite as deft with his fingers as his gran—typed as fast as his two-fingered style would let him.

please come back immediately. Earth is being
taken over by zombie bums from Uranus.
Love, ZACK FREEMAN (your son).
P.S. The Great White Bum is dead! I harpooned
it and Silas Sterne nominated me for the Bum
Hunters' Hall of Fame.
P.P.S. Gran told me everything.

He pressed SEND, pushed the keyboard back into the wall and ran to rejoin the others.

Zack arrived back at the bum-mobile to find Eleanor fuming.

‘You'd better have a good reason for just running off like that,' she said. ‘Don't you realise how dangerous this place is now?'

‘Yes,' said Zack, ‘and I'm sorry, but I had to find out whether the bum-fighters who went to Uranus with Silas were my parents.'

‘And?' said Eleanor.

‘They were!' Zack said. ‘So I sent them a message telling them to return immediately.'

‘Well, that's just brilliant!' said Eleanor sarcastically. ‘We really seem to be getting on top of the situation here.'

‘It could be worse,' said Gran.

‘How on earth could things possibly be WORSE?' yelled Eleanor. ‘Zombie bums have come down from Uranus . . .'

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘I meant the planet,' said Eleanor.

Gran nodded.

‘Anyway,' Eleanor continued, ‘these zombie bums are attaching themselves to people's bums—whether the bums are real or false doesn't seem to matter to them—all they care about is turning people into eating machines so that the bums can grow really big.
Now, not only are zombie bums impervious to pain but—judging from what I saw when I rescued you both—they have regenerative powers that allow them to put themselves back together again after being blasted apart. This, according to my calculations, makes them pretty much indestructible. Am I correct?'

Zack and Gran nodded.

‘And just to make things really bad,' said Eleanor, barely pausing for breath, ‘we've just lost three of the most experienced and best bum-fighters in the world. So would you please explain to me how things could possibly be any worse?'

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