Read Zombie Bums from Uranus Online

Authors: Andy Griffiths

Zombie Bums from Uranus (9 page)

Just as they were negotiating the ripped section, Zack smelt smoke. He looked down to see flames racing up towards him. Mr Jenkins, stuck in the hole, was holding a match in his hand. He had set fire to the toilet paper!

Flames were shooting up the paper ladder.

Faster than Zack and Mittens could climb.

‘Hurry!' yelled Zack's bum. ‘I'm burning up!'

Suddenly there was a huge explosion and a fireball shot back down the ladder and into the bum-fighting control centre.

‘How many times have I told you not to talk when there's naked flame around?' said Zack, smiling as he pulled himself up the last few squares of toilet tissue.

‘Oops,' said Zack's bum, smiling as well.

Zack felt Gran's strong hand close around his wrist and pull him into the bum-mobile.

He saw Eleanor turn around from the pilot's seat, frowning.

‘Eleanor!' said Zack. ‘What are you doing here?'

‘Following orders,' said Eleanor. ‘Dad insisted I come and get you.'

‘But I'm not a bum-fighter,' Zack said. ‘Not anymore. I quit!'

Eleanor snorted. ‘I'm well aware of that,' she said. ‘This wasn't my idea. I'm just doing what I'm told. Hold tight . . . and no throwing up!'

The bum-mobile took off at terrifying speed.

Zack looked out the window and saw the burning room they had just escaped from growing smaller and smaller. He looked at Gran, now using her formidable pinching fingers to gently scratch Mittens' ears. He looked at his bum, wiping itself clean with a towel. And he looked at Eleanor—her face gritty and desperate.

Zack smiled.

He was back in the bum-fighting frontline and—he had to admit—loving it.

‘Well, it sure has been a while since I've flown in one of these,' said Gran, leaning forward into the cockpit, still stroking Mittens.

‘No animals in the cockpit!' said Eleanor sharply.

‘Sorry,' said Gran, handing Mittens back to Zack. ‘Mind if I come through to the front and take a look?'

‘Sure,' said Eleanor. ‘I don't mind people. Just no cats. Too unpredictable.'

‘That's what I reckon,' said Zack's bum. ‘In fact I think we should ban cats from the bum-mobile altogether.'

‘Quiet, you!' said Gran. ‘In my day bums didn't speak until they were spoken to.'

‘My bum's a bit different,' said Zack.

‘I never met a bum I couldn't pinch into shape!' said Gran.

‘You just did!' muttered Zack's bum. ‘Three of them.'

‘Hmmm . . .' said Gran, studying Zack's bum closely. ‘Cheeky. I don't like that in a bum.'

Eventually she turned away and pulled herself through the entrance into the cockpit. ‘Mabel Freeman,' she said, extending her hand towards Eleanor. ‘Also known as the Pincher.'

Zack's jaw dropped. So did Eleanor's.

Zack noticed her hand was trembling as she shook Gran's hand and stuttered her name in reply.

‘It's a great honour to meet you,' said Eleanor. ‘My father has told me a lot about you.'

‘Oh?' said Gran. ‘And who's your father, soldier?'

‘Silas Sterne,' said Eleanor.

‘Ah! Silas!' said Gran. ‘I taught the little whipper-snapper everything he knows. Has he caught that Great White Bum yet?'

‘You mean Zack hasn't told you?' said Eleanor.

‘Told me what?' said Gran.

‘We haven't exactly had a lot of time to chat,' said Zack.

‘Plenty of time for that later,' said Gran, turning back to Eleanor. ‘First things first. What's the situation, soldier?'

Eleanor shrugged and glanced at Zack. ‘It's bad news,' she said. ‘A few hours after Zack left the Academy I picked up the approaching invasion of bums on the bum-radar. They seem to be coming from Uranus.'

‘From my what?' said Zack.

‘No, you idiot,' said Eleanor. ‘URANUS!'

‘You mind your language, soldier!' said Gran. ‘You're not too old for me to box your ears, you know.'

‘No, you don't understand,' said Eleanor. ‘The bums are from Uranus!'

‘Language!' said Gran crossly.

‘I meant the planet,' said Eleanor.

‘Oh,' said Gran. ‘My mistake.'

‘I've seen them,' said Zack. ‘They're attaching themselves to people and turning them into zombies!'

‘Zombie bums!' said Eleanor. ‘I should have known it! Zombie bums from Uranus!'

‘Did you say zombie bums from Uranus?' said Zack's bum.

‘Yes,' said Zack. ‘Zombie bums from Uranus!'

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘I meant the planet, Gran,' said Zack.

‘The planet “Gran”?' said Zack's bum. ‘I thought you said Uranus!'

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘No!' said Zack. ‘I didn't mean there was a planet called Gran. I meant the planet Uranus!'

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘We're talking about the planet!' said Eleanor, Zack and Zack's bum in unison.

‘Oh,' said Gran. ‘My mistake again. I thought you meant . . .'

‘Oh, this is pointless!' said Eleanor. ‘They're from outer space, okay?'

‘I thought you said they were from Uranus!' said Gran.

Eleanor groaned. ‘They ARE from Uranus!' she said.

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘I MEANT THE PLANET!' shouted Eleanor.

‘All right, all right,' said Gran. ‘I may be old but I'm not deaf!'

‘But how can you be so sure that that's where they're from?' said Zack.

‘Because my dad has seen them before,' said Eleanor. ‘Remember he was away on a secret inter-planetary bum-fighting E-mission sorting out some sort of trouble on . . . ?' She paused and glanced at Gran. She gave Zack a meaningful look. ‘On you know where,' she said.

‘Of course!' said Zack. ‘So this was the trouble!'

‘Well, sort of,' said Eleanor. ‘And sort of not.'

‘What do you mean, soldier?' said Gran.

Eleanor winced.

‘Well, apparently the unmanned space probe, Voyager 2, sent back images showing that the rings around the planet Uranus were made up of bums,' she said. ‘Dad went up there with two other bum-fighters to investigate. As you know, he was called back to help fight the bum-revolution on Earth.'

‘So the other two bum-fighters are still up there?' said Zack.

Eleanor nodded. ‘The thing is, though,' she continued, ‘the bums weren't alive when Silas was there. They were frozen. Completely dead. Something must have happened to make them come alive again.'

‘Silas told you all this?' said Zack. ‘I thought it was top secret.'

‘It was,' said Eleanor. ‘But not anymore. As soon as a spectral analysis of their tails revealed that they were from Uranus—'

‘Language!' said Gran.

‘I meant the planet,' said Eleanor wearily. ‘Anyway, as soon as I realised, I reported it to Dad. He told me everything.'

‘Any theories on how they reanimated?' said Gran.

‘No,' said Eleanor. ‘I haven't had time to study it. As soon as we set up a ring of fire around the Academy to protect it from the bumvasion, Dad
ordered me to come and find Zack and bring him back.'

‘Can you lot shut up and get me some iced water?' said Zack's bum. ‘I got burned pretty bad back there and none of you seem to care.'

‘You mind your manners,' said Gran, ‘or I'll give you a jolly good pinching!'

‘Lay a finger on me and you'll be sorry,' said Zack's bum.

‘Right, that's it,' said Gran, reaching out to pinch it.

Zack blocked her.

‘You'll have to excuse my bum, Gran,' he said, filling a bucket full of cold water.

‘You should have more control over it,' said Gran.

‘I'm working on that,' said Zack, sitting in the bucket.

Gran shook her head disapprovingly.

‘How come you never told me you were a bum-fighter, Gran?' said Zack, trying to change the subject.

‘Well, if it had been up to me I would have, but your parents had other ideas,' said Gran. ‘They thought—'

‘Oh no!' said Eleanor.

‘What is it?' said Zack, leaning forward to see out of the windscreen.

In the distance, illuminated by the powerful beams of the bum-mobile, he could see the Bum-fighting Academy. Or at least, what was left of it.

The entire area was devastated. Many of the buildings were either reduced to rubble or on fire. The sticks that had provided the ring of fire defence were scattered around the grounds.

‘Looks like they've beaten us to it,' said Zack.

‘Who have?' said Gran.

‘The zombie bums,' said Zack. ‘From Uranus!'

‘Language!' said Gran.

E
leanor landed the bum-mobile on the Academy landing strip.

From the ground the devastation appeared to be even worse.

Illuminated by the ghastly red glow of the fires, it was clear that most of the buildings had been pounded from above and severely damaged.

‘But how did the bums break through the ring of fire?' said Zack.

‘I don't know,' Eleanor said. ‘Bums are usually terrified of fire.'

‘That's right, we are,' said Zack's bum. ‘If we're living, that is. But the zombie bums are dead. They can't feel pain, so maybe they're not scared of fire.'

‘But I saw a movie once,' said Zack, ‘and the zombies in that movie hated fire.'

‘This isn't some dumb movie, Zack,' said his bum. ‘This is real life!'

‘Stop squabbling, you two,' said Eleanor. ‘We have to find out if Dad and the B-team are all right. I'm going out to investigate. Zack, I want you and your gran to stay here.'

‘Oh no you don't, soldier,' said Gran. ‘I'm coming with you. You're going to need an experienced bum-fighter out there.'

‘I
am
an experienced bum-fighter,' said Eleanor.

‘Fiddlesticks!' said Gran. ‘I've got more experience in my little finger than you have in your entire body.'

‘That's precisely why I need you to remain in the bum-mobile,' said Eleanor. ‘If anything happens to me then you can take over E-mission command.'

Gran's eyes lit up as she looked into the cockpit of the bum-mobile. ‘Yes,' she said, nodding. ‘I think that's probably for the best.'

Eleanor climbed out of the pilot's seat and began to prepare herself. She pulled on a large pair of bum-kicking boots and selected two medium-sized bumblasters. Then she pulled down two bumcatcher belts. She slipped one around her waist and threw the other to Zack.

‘I believe this is yours,' she said.

Zack caught the belt and smiled. ‘Thanks,' he said, putting it on. He took the sauce bottle out of his jacket and hung it through a loop on the belt. Zack thought he'd better hang on to it. He still couldn't see how it could possibly help him to save the world, but the Blind Bum-feeler had been right about him not being finished with bum-fighting. So she might yet be proved right about the tomato sauce.

At last Eleanor was ready. She turned to them and
issued final instructions. ‘If I don't return in thirty minutes I want you to take off without me,' she said. ‘Go to the nearest bum shelter and hook up with whoever's left. But don't try to fight the zombies on your own. Understand?'

‘Understood, soldier!' said Gran, saluting Eleanor.

Eleanor returned the salute and then looked at Zack. ‘Zack?' she said.

‘Maybe I should come with you,' he said.

‘No way!' said Eleanor. ‘You stay here, keep out of trouble and look after your gran.'

‘I thought she was supposed to be looking after me,' said Zack.

‘Don't argue,' said Eleanor. ‘If you hadn't run away then I could have been here to help defend the Academy.'

‘I didn't ask to be rescued,' said Zack.

‘And I didn't ask to rescue you,' Eleanor replied, climbing out of the top of the bum-mobile. ‘Thirty minutes, right? And don't forget to lock the hatch behind me.'

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