Authors: Andy Griffiths
s Zack raced up the stairsâtrying his best not to squash Mittens, who had taken refuge inside his jacketâthe front door splintered and crashed open.
Zack glanced behind him.
Zombie-bummified men and women with huge bums were streaming into the house.
âGran!' yelled Zack. âThey're coming!'
But Gran didn't reply.
Zack looked back up the stairs.
She was gone!
âGran?' he called.
âUp here!' said Gran. âGrab my hand!'
Zack looked above him and saw the entrance to the attic. Gran had somehow managed to get into it and was now hanging from the small rectangular hole by her feetâlike a trapeze artistâwith her arm extended towards Zack. Zack gasped. He had never
seen his gran do anything as athletic as this. But he didn't have to think twice. Mr Jenkins was already halfway up the stairs.
Zack grabbed Gran's hand. In one fast, powerful movement she pulled him up into the attic. She let go of Zack's hand. He slid rapidly across the floor and crashed into the wall on the other side of the room. Gran slammed the trapdoor shut and then pushed a large wooden trunk over the top.
âI'd like to see those zombies try to break through that,' she said.
Zack nodded dumbly, marvelling at his gran's transformation.
âNow,' she said, patting the wall, âwhere's that switch?'
Gran flicked it on.
As amazed as Zack was at his gran's transformation, however, he was even more surprised at the transformation of the attic. There was a whirring noise and Zack watched, stunned, as the roof parted and the walls slid down to waist-height to reveal a fully trans-parent bum-proof dome. On the wall underneath the dome was a range of panels filled with blinking lights and instruments that Zack recognised as being like those in the cockpit of Eleanor's bum-mobile. He realised with a shock that he was standing in a well equippedâif slightly old-fashionedâbum-fighting control centre.
Zack could not believe his eyes.
To imagine that this had been here under his noseâor rather, over his headâall the time he had been living at his gran's.
He wondered what else he didn't know about his gran.
In fact, he wondered whether he really knew her at all.
What was going on?
He'd suspected her of knowing a little more about bum-fighting than she'd let on. After all, she had told him to remember to wash his hands after fighting bumsâsomething only a bum-fighter could have knownâbut he'd had no idea that Gran was involved in bum-fighting to this extent.
He remembered Silas Sterne telling him that he had bum-fighting blood in him.
Could it be that his bum-fighting blood had come from his gran? But if that was true then that would mean that his parentsâwell, at least his fatherâmust have it too. The idea seemed so preposterous that Zack could hardly believe it.
Gran was bent over the bum-radar.
âGran,' said Zack, âwe need to talk.'
âNo time for talk, soldier,' she replied, turning around. âRight now I need you to take over here.'
Gran pulled Zack in front of what looked like an antique bum-gun sitting on a tripod.
âYou know what this is?' she said.
Zack shrugged. âAn old-fashioned bum-gun?' he guessed.
âDon't be an idiot, boy!' snapped Gran. âIt's a K-TEL three-six-zero PT-XR fourteen thousand and two point five HRH triple turbo automatic multi-speed bum-splitter/dicer and slicer. It also juices but hopefully we won't need thatâthe attachment is very
difficult to clean. Anyone or anything tries to get in here then you just pull the trigger! The K-TEL three-six-zero PT-XR fourteen thousand and two point five HRH triple turbo automatic multi-speed bum-splitter/dicer and slicer will do the rest.'
Zack nodded dumbly.
He put his finger on the trigger, pointed the barrel through a slot in the dome and peered out into the rapidly approaching night. That's when he saw them. A horde of dark objectsâeach of them with the now familiar blue-green tail. Flying straight towards the control centre.
âBums to starboard!' yelled Gran. âFire!'
But before Zack could fire, there was a deafening crash.
Despite being bum-proof, the dome shattered, spraying Zack with shards of broken glass. A group of three bumsâall blueish-black in colourâfell wriggling onto the floor behind him. They were twice as big as most earth bums and twice as smelly, filling the room with the overwhelming stench of decaying flesh.
Mittens screeched and leapt from the neck of Zack's jacket.
âWell?' said Gran to the trembling Zack. âWhat are you waiting for? Let them have it!'
The bums, now recovered from their violent entry, picked themselves up and walked jerkily across the room towards Zack.
Zack fired up the K-TEL three-six-zero PT-XR fourteen thousand and two point five HRH triple turbo automatic multi-speed bum-splitter/dicer and
slicer. Despite its seeming antiquity, it came to life in his hands, filling the attic with an ear-splitting noise.
But it had little effect on the bums. They seemed to absorb the bullets as easily as a sponge absorbs water.
âIt's not working!' Zack said to Gran.
âYou're right,' she said, holding her hands out in front of her like crab pincers. âWhat we need here is some good old-fashioned bum pinching!'
Zack frowned. He shouldn't have been surprised anymore by anything that Gran did, but he was. In his collection of bum-fighter trading cards he recalled there had been a card that featured âThe Pincher'âa fierce-looking woman who had hands like claws and fingernails so sharp they looked like they could be classified as lethal weapons. On the back of the card it had said that the Pincher was the founder of modern bum-fightingâthe leader of the very first bum-fighting team, known as âMabel's Angels'.
His gran's name was Mabel.
Zack looked at his gran and tried to match her up in his mind with the fierce image on the front of the trading card.
Could it be? he wondered. No, it was ridiculous.
Besides, the trading card biography had said that the Pincher had gone missing in action sometime in the '40s.
Whoever she was, his gran was definitely not the Pincher.
And yet, Zack had to admit, she sure had the moves.
Gran closed in on the bums, crouched over and
began a virtuoso display of pinching, her forefingers and thumbs working like shears.
In less than a minute she delivered an impressive range of eye-watering pinches: two-fingered pinches, five-fingered pinches, two-handed ten-fingered pinches. Pinches that cut. Pinches that bruised. Pinches that pulled the bums right out of shape. Pinches that, had Gran perpetrated them on any regular bums, would have caused instant death.
Whatever these bums were, however, they were not regular bums.
Just as they'd absorbed the punishment of the K-TEL three-six-zero PT-XR fourteen thousand and two point five HRH triple turbo automatic multi-speed bum-splitter/dicer and slicer, so they absorbed Gran's pinches.
Gran was red in the face as she prepared to take on the bums againâbut whether it was from anger or exhaustion Zack couldn't tell.
âAll right,' she said to the bums, âyou asked for it!'
Gran scooped them up, and using her arms like a vice, she squeezed the three bums together so hard they looked like they were about to burst.
Gran curled the fingers of her right hand around and pinched one of the bums. It exploded with such force it set off a chain reaction and the other two blew apart as well.
âGood one, Gran!' shouted Zack, wiping large handfuls of zombie bum sludge off his body.
âAh, you can't beat the old atomic pinch!' said
Gran, washing her hands in a small sink. âIt's messy but it gets the job done.'
âBut where did you learn to pinch like that, Gran?' said Zack.
âWell,' said Gran, âit's a long story .Â .Â .'
âZack!' yelled Zack's bum.
âNot now!' said Zack.
âBut it's a bumergency!' shouted Zack's bum.
âWho said that?' said Gran.
âMy bum,' said Zack.
âThere's a bum in here?' said Gran. âDon't worry, I'll pinch it!'
âNo!' said Zack's bum. âI'm on your side!'
Gran looked confused. âA bum on my side? That's ridiculous!' she said. âHold still, Zack! I'll have it pinched in no time.'
âNo!' said Zack. âAaagghhh!'
âAaagghhhh!' screamed his bum.
âOh be quiet,' said Gran. âBoth of you! I haven't even started yet.'
âNo,' said Zack, pointing behind her. âThat's not what we're screaming about .Â .Â . look at the zombie bums!'
Gran turned and looked.
The pieces of atomic-pinched bum were slowly creeping across the floor towards one another.
Into three new bums!
Zack looked at Gran.
Gran looked at Zack.
Things were not looking good.
Gran's zombie neighbours below them were not only bashing on the trapdoor, but were attacking the floor around it with their axe. It wouldn't be long before they broke through.
And the bums that were already in the attic were apparently indestructible.
âZack,' said Zack's bum, âI hate to say it, but we're not winning here.'
âI know,' Zack said. âGot any better ideas?'
âPray!' said his bum, detaching itself, dropping to its knees and placing its hands in front of itself.
Zack shook his head. He didn't know what to do exactly, but he was pretty sure praying wouldn't help them.
Suddenly, however, the room was awash with light and the sound of screaming engines.
Zack, shielding his eyes from the light, looked up.
There was a bum-mobile hovering above them and coming through the broken dome was the end of a roll of reinforced toilet paper.
Zack was amazed.
âDon't just stare at it, you idiot!' shouted an amplified voice from above. âGrab hold and climb!'
Now normally Zack wouldn't have entrusted his life to a roll of toilet paperânot even reinforced toilet paperâbut this was not a normal situation.
Zack looked around for Gran, grabbed her arm and put her on the toilet-paper ladder.
âThanks, soldier,' she said. âYou show courtesy towards your elders. I like that in a bum-fighter. It's so rare, nowadays.'
Zack was about to explain that he wasn't a
bum-fighter, but decided that, under the circumstances, it could probably wait.
Gran hoisted herself up the toilet paper, as if she'd been doing it all her life.
Zack, keeping the bums away from the toilet paper with a combination of kicks and smacks, heard a noise behind him.
He saw the axe head break through the floor.
The zombies were almost in!
âHurry, Gran!' he called.
Finally Gran made it into the bum-mobile.
Zack grabbed the toilet paper and began pulling himself up, his bum reattaching itself just in time.
He was halfway up, being battered by the howling wind and the bums, when he heard miaowing.
âOh no,' he said, seeing Mittens perched on the instrument panel of the control centre. âWe forgot Mittens!'
âToo bad,' said his bum. âKeep climbing!'
âNo!' said Zack. âWe have to go back!'
âKeep climbing!' said his bum. âThat's an order!'
âYeah, and this is me disobeying it!' said Zack, climbing back down the toilet paper.
Mittens was now surrounded by the bums. She was hissing and scratching, but the bums were closing in. Fortunately, however, they were all looking at Mittens and didn't see Zack coming.
Without letting go of the toilet paper Zack reached down and scooped the terrified Mittens back into his jacket.
At that moment the zombies broke through the
floorboards. Zack saw Mr Jenkins push the top half of his body up through the hole. Luckily the opening was too small for Mr Jenkins to fit his enormous bum through, although he was able to make a grab for Zack's legs.
But Zack had already started climbing back up the toilet paper, even faster than before. He was almost halfway up again when the toilet paper ripped.
Whether it was the extra force Zack used, or the extra weight of Mittens, he couldn't be sure. All he knew was that somewhere above him the perforations had ripped. Not all the way through, but enough to cause him to drop dangerously low.
Zack climbed back up again, hoping against hope that the remaining perforations would hold.
One by one the tiny sections of paper ripped.
Zack inched closer.
The paper ripped again.
Then he had an idea.
He held Mittens up as far above his head as he could.
Mittens hooked her claws into a piece of toilet paper above the tear, and, demonstrating unusual strength for a cat, began to pull Zack up with her.