Authors: Nadia Higgins
About this Book
ZOMBIES ARE ABOUT TO GET SCHOOLED.
Leo and Chad are glad to be back at Rotfield Middle School with their friends. But they can't help noticing some of their classmates are acting a little . . . undead. The Zombie Zappers are determined to find out why. And since Principal V won't help them stop the zombie outbreak, they're the only ones who might be able to save their fellow students.
Table of Contents
Leo yawned and rubbed his eyes. He squinted at his alarm clock until the red blur turned into numbers. He had time to fit in a quick update before school. His laptop was still open on his legs from last night. Leo pressed a button, and the familiar screen of his Web site lit up.
For all your zombie needs
, the slogan read. Hmmm. Maybe he needed something catchier. No time to think about that now, though. Leo scrolled over to the “Z-News” section and started typing:
Good morning, zombie geeks! ZombieZapper #1 here with an update. Yes, folks, this is a true story. It’s my own report from the field. My assistants and I are still sorting through the data. But I can tell you this: Z-spotting at Rotfield Mall confirmed yesterday at 12:06 p.m.
Location: In-Between Burger.
Subject: Teenage male, light brown hair, blue eyes.
Skin color: Gray!
“ZombieZapper. . . . Seriously?”
Leo slammed his laptop shut. His stepsister Shelly was smirking over his shoulder.
“Shelly, what the—? Get out!” Leo sputtered. He tried to untangle himself from the mess of blankets.
“Leo, you’re late.” She tapped her watch with a sparkly fingernail. “I had
to get to school early to organize my locker.” Hands on hips, Shelly took in the sight of her stepbrother flailing under his zombie-themed comforter.
Leo finally plopped onto the floor, dragging the sheets with him. When he looked up at Shelly, she had that determined look she got before she had to do something unpleasant. Like flushing a dead fish or cleaning up dog poop.
“Leo, you look like a troll. Did you even sleep last night? Leo—ooooh, gross.” Shelly felt something slippery under her foot. She bent down and picked up a plastic baggie with two fingernail tips. She peered at the bright green blob in the bottom. “Leo, is this a
“Gimme that.” Leo grabbed the bag. “It’s a sample. For science.”
“You mean for your zombie stuff?” Shelly’s voice was the opposite of impressed.
“I mean for zombie
Leo said. “This slug is a decomposer. It’s important to stage four of the zombie life cycle.”
“Don’t you mean
cycle?” Shelly was in the doorway now. She had her trying-to-be-patient look.
“Okay, technically—” Leo began.
“Seriously, Leo. Sweetie.” Shelly cut him off. Leo
when she acted like his mother just because she was in seventh grade and he was in sixth. “Don’t you think it’s time to lay off the zombie stuff just a bit? Leo, I’m worried about you.”
“I’m FINE.” Leo got up and shut the door behind his stepsister. He listened to her click-click down the stairs. Even her footsteps sounded in charge.
“I bet I’d like you better as a zombie,” Leo said under his breath. Then he shook his slug out of the bag. He carefully slid it into a jar with air holes and a rotting finger.
“Roger?” Leo called softly into his open closet. He kicked a mound of dirty underwear to the side and waded through a pile of notebooks. “Roger?” He held out the jar in front of him. “Do you have a second?”
, the back of Leo’s closet slid open to reveal Roger’s smiling green face. “My dear boy, what do I have but an endless
of seconds?” Roger was using his fake British accent again.
Leo smiled. “Roger, you’ve got to be the weirdest zombie on the planet.”
“Half-zombie,” Roger corrected him.
Of course. How could Leo forget? Roger was touchy about his zombie status. As Roger liked to explain, he had barely escaped the zombie attack that wiped out his town back in second grade. He was not
by the zombie who’d infected him—only licked.
After that came what Roger called the “unspeakable time.” His parents and both his brothers had been
bitten. Leaving home was the only way Roger could protect his human side. He drifted from town to town for a while. But then Roger got lonely. He started joining Leo’s T-ball games at the Rotfield Rec Center. Back then, Leo didn’t know anything about zombies. But he noticed that Roger seemed even slower than a regular slow kid at T-ball. And a bit greener too.
Then Roger’s ear got blown off by the wind at third base. Leo was the only one who noticed. But he didn’t freak out. Instead, he brought Roger home and helped glue the ear back on. That day, Leo became a zombie scientist.
Roger’s experience as a half-zombie was a huge help. “My heart still beats at least once an hour,” he would say while Leo took notes. “That slows the rotting process quite a bit.”
It was true. With glue, Band-Aids, and a few fake teeth, Roger
have been able to pass as a human. But what if somebody found out? Or what if Roger’s nose got blown off and lost forever? Or a dog bit him and became a half-zombie too? It was too risky.
For now, the two friends agreed the best place for Roger was working in their hidden zombie lab. Roger barely ever needed to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom. The small, cluttered room they had built in the back of Leo’s closet served his half-zombie needs well.
A tower of machines hummed, beeped, and blinked along one wall of the lab. Shelves along another wall held rows of fizzing tubes and bubbling beakers. Above those were tangles of plants and herbs. Rubber gloves, droppers, lab coats, microscope parts, and jars of pills and powders oozed from a cabinet in the corner.
It was no wonder the lab was so stuffed. The two friends had been adding to it for more than four years now. Leo and his best (100% human) friend, Chad, had recently added a merchandise section to Leo's Zombie Zappers Web site. Chad’s homemade zombie T-shirts were selling so fast Chad could barely keep them in stock. Now they could afford supplies whenever they needed them.
Roger plopped down on a box labeled “Caution: Hazardous Materials.” “How’s my finger?” he asked. He waved a four-fingered hand toward the jar Leo was holding. “Any luck with the
“Nothing so far,” Leo said. He handed the jar to Roger. The bright green slug was curled up on Roger’s middle knuckle. “The skin on the finger might turn purple before it turns pink,” Leo added. “That’s what I read online.”
“Roger that,” Roger said, grinning.
Leo groaned. “You seriously are the weirdest zombie ever.” He stepped back into the closet to leave and slipped on the pile of notebooks.
“Half-zombie!” Roger said. He pulled Leo up by an elbow.
“Half-zombie,” Leo repeated. Then he took off for school, late as usual.
Leo slid into his seat right as the morning bell rang. Chad flashed his notebook at Leo from across the aisle. “Will you be mine?” it said. Chad ran a finger across his chubby chest. He was wearing one of his recent T-shirt creations. This one showed a heart (a real one) dripping gore onto the words, “Be My Zalentine.”
That made Leo snort out loud. Chad added a fake burp. Leo looked over at Mandy Wagner to his left. This was when she’d normally roll her eyes and say, “Nice.” Or she might shove her desk over an inch with a huff.
But Mandy wasn’t even looking at them. She just stared ahead. Leo waved his hands in front of her face. “Helllooooo?” Mandy didn’t even blink. A pencil slowly rolled between her feet.
Leo gave Chad a look that said, “What’s up with her?” Chad shrugged, “Who knows?” and pointed at Josiah Sullivan behind him. Josiah had the same look as Mandy, only a line of drool dripped down his chin.
“Z-alert???” Chad held up his notebook again.
Leo felt tingly all over. Could it be? Were his classmates turning into zombies right before his eyes? Leo recorded more strange stuff in his notebook as the day went on:
“What are we going to do?” Chad whispered to Leo as the two friends passed on the way to their reading groups at 2:03.
“I don’t know,” Leo admitted. “I mean, they’re not biting, at least not yet. Did you see any attacks?”
“Attacks of creepiness,” Chad said. “Did you see that stuff coming out of Jeremy Berry’s ear?”
“I need to talk to Roger,” Leo said. “He can help us figure out what’s happening. But for now, we need to protect as many people as possible. It’s time for Operation Zombie Code. Meet me by the flagpole at 3:13.”
Leo knew he was a zombie expert. But outside the lab, he didn’t like getting his hands dirty. And for that matter, he really hated talking to adults. Or talking to kids he didn’t know. Or talking to a group of kids. And those skills were exactly what Operation Zombie Code required. This was where Chad came in handy.
“So here’s what you have to read.” Leo handed Chad a sheet of paper. “But first we have to get Principal VanSchlossen’s permission.”
“I’ll win him over with a sick armpit fart.” Chad pumped his hand inside his T-shirt to demonstrate.
“This is serious, Chad. Principal V barely ever lets kids do morning announcements.”
“But nobody can resist the charms of The Chad. Check it out.” Chad held out the paper and read aloud in his deepest voice: