Authors: Andy Griffiths
The Flicker had flicked the zombie mutant maggot so hard it had exploded. Zack looked at the pieces
around him .Â .Â . and then yelled as he watched them slowly slide towards each other.
At that moment, Zack realised the terrible truth: the mutant zombie maggots were completely indestructible!
âWell, don't just stand there!' said the Flicker, forging a gristly path through the mutant zombie maggots with a blitzkrieg of brutal towel flicking. âFollow me!'
As he picked his way carefully through the trail of mutant zombie maggot mince that led to the ladder, Zack could hear the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord whimpering.
But although they were moving fast, the increasingly manic mutant zombie maggots were faster. They surged ahead of the Flicker and Zack and clumped together around the foot of the ladder, forming a formidable barrier that was proving practically impossible for the Flicker to crack open.
The Flicker flicked his towel against the wall of maggots to no avail.
âCan we get through?' said Zack.
âNot this way!' said the Flicker, as the mutant zombie maggots closed in around them. âThere's too many. I flick one and another takes its place. We're going to have to try and jump across them.'
Zack gulped. He wished he had his bum with him.
It was a big jump. A huge jump. An enormous jump.
And failure would mean landing right in the middle of the mutant zombie maggot clump.
Even without the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord in
his arms it would have been a big call. But it wasn't like he had another way out of the Maggotorium.
âCome on, Zack,' said the Flicker. âYou first.'
Zack took a deep breath. He was about to jump when the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord spoke. âNo!' he said. âPut me down. I'll lure them away from the ladder while you both escape.'
âNo way,' said Zack. âThey'll eat you alive.'
âNo they won't,' said the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord. âThey're
boys and girls really .Â .Â . I can't understand what's got into them!'
âZombie bums got into them!' said the Flicker. âThat's what!'
âGo,' said the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord. âPlease, it will be better if I'm alone. They've never taken to strangers very well .Â .Â .'
Zack shook his head. âThey're out of control!' he said. âThey'll kill you!'
âI think I can settle them,' insisted the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord.
Zack stared into the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord's eyeâat least he thought it was an eye. âIf that's what you want,' he said.
âThat's what I want,' said the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord.
Zack laid the Mutant Maggot Lord on the ground as he had requested. The clump of mutant zombie maggots surged towards him.
âThank you,' said the Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord. The mutant zombie maggots slithered around him. âNow go .Â .Â . your friends are waiting .Â .Â . and so are mine.'
Zack nodded. He and the Flicker stepped gingerly across the ground to the ladder and started climbing.
As fast as they could.
The bum-fighters were about halfway up the ladder when the Maggotorium was filled with a bloodcurdling scream.
They stopped climbing and looked at each other.
Nobody spoke a word.
Nobody needed to.
It was clear that they all knew exactly what the scream meant.
The Mutant Zombie Maggot Lord was dead.
âI never liked him,' said the Forker, breaking the silence. âIt just goes to prove the old bum-fighter's proverb.'
âWhich one?' said the Flicker.
âHe who lives by the maggot, dies by the maggot,' said the Forker, solemnly.
âI've never heard that proverb,' said the Flicker.
âNo,' said the Forker, âyou wouldn't have, because I just made it up.'
âThen how can it be an
bum-fighter's proverb?' said the Flicker.
âBecause I'm an
bum-fighter!' said the Forker.
âWill you two quit joking around!' said Eleanor. âThis is SERIOUS!'
âOh, I don't know,' said the Flicker. âI don't like
mutant zombie maggots any more than you do, but it's not as if they can climb the ladder, is it?'
âThey don't need to,' said Eleanor, pointing down. âLook!'
Zack looked down and through the gloom saw that the mutant zombie maggots were clumping together in what appeared to be a massive game of stacks-on-the-mill. They were entwining themselves around and on top of each other, and forming a white tower of mutant zombie maggots that was rising rapidly towards them.
âOh no!' said Zack's bum. âA mutant zombie maggot
The Flicker screwed his face up and stroked his chin. âActually,' he said, âon second thoughts, this is serious.'
âQuick!' said Eleanor. âWe have to get to the top and seal off the entrance before the giant zombie mutant maggots can escape!'
The bum-fighters didn't need any encouragement.
They climbed as fast as they possibly could.
But the mutant zombie maggot tower was faster.
By the time Zack reached the top of the ladder, the putrid pile of mutant zombie maggots was only a few metres below him.
âQuick, Zack!' yelled his bum, reaching over the edge to help Zack out.
âThanks!' said Zack as his bum dragged him clear.
He was about to stand up when a mutant zombie maggot leapt out after him. It landed on top of Zack, pinning him to the ground.
âUgh!' said Zack, struggling to breathe underneath the massive mutant zombie maggot's weight. âHelp!'
Fortunately for Zack, however, Mabel's Angels were right beside him. They snapped into action like a lethal, well-oiled bum-fighting machine.
Unfortunately for Zack, however, Mabel's Angels were unable to land a single fork, pinch or towel flick before the mutant zombie maggot raised its ugly head in the air and repelled them with its disgusting gale-force mutant zombie maggot breath.
Zack watched them tumble backwards into a helpless heap on the ground.
âWell,' said Zack's bum. âThat seemed to go well. I guess that's it then.'
âNot quite,' said Eleanor, pointing her Laxative Launcher at the mutant zombie maggot. âSweet dreams.'
The mutant zombie maggot roared again and lunged at Eleanor. She stepped backwards and emptied the contents of the 4502-LL into its mouth and started counting. âOne .Â .Â . two .Â .Â . three!'
The laxative capsules had a dramatic effect. Under the force of its own violently expelled waste, the mutant zombie maggot took off into the air in series of helter-skelter zigs, zags and loops. It was not unlike what happens when a balloon is blown up and then let free without tying its neck. Not a pretty sight by any definition of the term âpretty sight', but extremely effective.
Zack drew a deep breath. âThanks,' he said, getting to his knees and wiping mutant zombie maggot mush out of his eyes. âI owe you one.'
âIf we live long enough,' said Eleanor.
âWhat do you mean?' said Zack.
âUm, Zack,' said his bum. âI don't know if you've noticed, but we're surrounded.'
Zack turned to see a great white stream of mutant zombie maggots spewing from the Maggotorium entrance. The delay had cost them dearly. The mutant zombie maggots had encircled them, completely cutting them off from the bum-mobile.
âWhat are we going to do, Eleanor?' said Zack.
âI give up,' said Eleanor. âI'm a bum-fighter, not a mutant zombie maggot fighter. And I'm all out of laxative capsules.'
âBut we can't just give up!' said Zack. âThe whole of Mabeltownâno, the whole PLANETâis relying on us! If these mutant zombie maggots break free then the whole world is doomed!'
âThey already have broken free, Zack,' said Eleanor quietly. âDon't you get it? It's over. We tried. We failed.'
âNo way!' said Zack.
âYou're exactly right,' said Eleanor. âThere is no way.'
âNo,' said Zack. âI meant no way is there no way!'
âNo way is there no way that there is no way,' said Eleanor.
Suddenly a brilliant light shot across the sky.
A light so white and so bright that they had to shield their eyes from the painful glare.
Nobody had any idea what it was.
Nobody, that is, except for Zack Freeman.
He remembered the bumergency transmitter button he'd pushed back in Silas Sterne's office. His message must have gotten through.
New hope surged into his body.
His parents' had returned from Uranus! They would know what to do.
Gran and her angels were a little past their use-by dates when it came to modern bum-fighting. But his parents were two of the top interplanetary bum-fighters in the world. They would know
how to handle the situation.
Zack was sure of it. âWay,' he said, quietly.
he fiery object blazed down out of the sky and crashed into the middle of the park. A deafening sonic boom followed close behind, splitting the airâand everybody's eardrumsâwith a thunderous crack. Zack could feel the vibrations deep in his chest.
âWhat a crack!' said the Flicker.
âLanguage!' said Gran.
âI meant the sound,' said the Flicker.
âOh, that's all right then,' said Gran. âI thought you meantâ'
âPhwoar!' said the Forker. âWhat's that smell?'
âI don't know,' said Eleanor. âBut whatever it is, it's the first nice thing I've smelt all day.'
Zack sniffed deeply.
He knew that smell.
It was his mother's perfume!
He closed his eyes and took another deep breath. It had been a long time since he had smelt anything
so good. In fact, it had been a long time since he'd smelt anything good at all.
âLook, Zack!' said his bum, tugging on his hand. âThe mutant zombie maggots! They're scared!'
Zack opened his eyes and saw that the mutant zombie maggots that had been closing in on them only moments before were now fleeing towards the edge of the park, clearly repelled. âPerhaps they don't like the smell,' said Zack.
Zack had to hand it to his parents. It was a brilliant strategy.
âWhat do you think it is?' said Gran.
âI don't know,' said the Forker, âbut whatever it is, I think it's on our side.'
it's on our side,' said Zack, beaming.
âHow can you be so sure?' said Eleanor.
âRemember the message I sent to my parents back at the Academy?' said Zack. âI wasn't sure whether they'd even get it, but here they are .Â .Â . just in time! They've been to Uranus. They'll know what to do.'
Gran nodded her approval. âGood work, soldier,' she said.
Eleanor shrugged. âMy father went to Uranus, too,' she said. âBut it didn't stop him from being zombie-bummified.'
As Zack strained to catch a glimpse of his parents' bum-mobile through the blinding haze he considered Eleanor's point.