Shadow Zombie - Book one of The Black Shadow Chronicles | Teen Ink

Shadow Zombie - Book one of The Black Shadow Chronicles

June 20, 2015
By Theblackshadowchronicles SILVER, State College, Pennsylvania
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Theblackshadowchronicles SILVER, State College, Pennsylvania
9 articles 1 photo 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Your hair is Winter fire, January embers." - Stephen King's It.

Author's note:

This was the start of my writing career as a professional author. Hope y'all enjoy!

The woods beside me smelt of pine and rotted leaves. It always does. Except, tonight was different. It was dusk, yet I was still outside. Stupid girl. I shouldn't ever be outside at this time, but I got so fascinated by the pond that I hadn't noticed. Was I dead meat? Hope not. I picked up my old shaggy, faded blue bag and marched off, not even noticing the tear in my favorite worn purple sweatshirt. What time was it anyway? five? six?

It had to be after sundown.

Whatever the time was, I didn't care. All I knew was that the gloomy sun was casting away, and a green tint filtered the air. Nights like these were when it came out. The nights when Grandpa and I sat inside playing cards to help ease my mind, instead of being my usual adventurous self. These were the nights when I'd stay up, foggy-minded, clouded with questions. Why me? At this point, heck, I didn't think - I acted.

I ran like I was at the Olympics racing for the righteous gold back to our house. It was eerie yet calm in the domicile. Our home was tiny, with a wood porch on the front with a light above the screen door. Oh, Lord, the door. I spent countless nights making sure it was locked. I'd click the lock twice, just to double check that nothing could get through.

There was a clearing around the house. A patch of green blades surrounded it - it was all Grandpa could cut, after all, he was getting older every day. A meager shed was next to our one-story home. It was painted a deep red with a rusted, ancient, crooked rooster just hardly hanging on the rooftop. We were the epitome of living in the middle of nowhere, with hardly any neighbors for the next five-hundred miles.

I took a trolley to school, it ran on the tracks on the hill above our cabin home. It was heavily wooded where I lived. Green dominated the mountains, the sky always soaking up the horizon.

The pond was directly in front of the house, and by that, I mean it was practically one-hundred-fifty yards away. The pond was so filled with life! The fish, frogs, and the tree's reflections were my best friends.

School wasn't anything special. Obviously. I mean, anyone who talks to herself by a pond can't possibly have any friends. It was thirty minutes away from home anyway. Luckily, it didn't start until nine-thirty in the morning, so the trip was worthwhile. The trolley was diminutive. It could fit me, Grandpa, the driver, and two other people. Usually, Mr. Reclund, an African American that worked hard to raise his child rode the trolley as well. His young wife had died from an illness soon after their child was born.

I often wonder if it was an illness, or something more sinister that killed her... the very thing that haunts me almost every night.

I don't know much about it. I know that it's a girl, who's shadow is dripped with a dark purple. She's cloaked in a cloud of purple. A frosted mist of violet surrounds her. Her face is outlined in glowing white lines, and she has no distinct features. She's three-dimensional, yet so hard to distinguish in the dark.

...Unless, she's hunting me. She'll leave a black, sparkly trail behind every time she is here. It shimmers, and when you touch it - it disappears. She marks her territory around the cabin, waiting and waiting for a chance to steal my existence away. She stalks my every move, never missing a second, never forgetting my soul.

As long as I'm in the house before dusk, I'm safe. If I'm not, well, I'd have to find out, and I really don't want to.

From what I know, the shadow wants to suck out my life. It will claw at the window, it's eyes burning hard into my pupils like the sun bursting flames of orange sparks into the dark, cold universe.

It's a generic figure of a human, with long hair hardly able to see. Her body smells of rotten corpse, as though she has been resting in a decaying tomb.

The head flashes bright eyes, with a facade covering the lies hidden deep within. The zombie will smile creepily, enticing you to join her, so that she can grasp the air I breathe and consume the soul locked away within my lungs.

She soaks me up, and eats my thoughts. She's so translucent, glowing and feasting upon my fears. You. Have. To. Look. Away. If you don't, my best guess is that you get a free ticket to Heaven's front doorstep.

Now I was running as fast as I could to the house. The wind was getting violent, my dark blonde hair whipping in my face. Where was the light on the door? I couldn't detect it - it's almost always on, but unfortunately, not tonight. The sky was hard, and dark, like crushing concrete cement. Swirls of blood red were overflowing from the black clouds ahead. My eyes couldn't adjust to the pure black sky, and without notice, I tripped. I made a hard thud to the ground, and my nose spewed out blood. My face was gashed opened on the right side of my cheek from a wandering stick on the ground.

No time for pain. I got up on my feet - staggering - and was barely able to breathe from the hit. The air was thick and heavy with dread. My nostrils were flaring, attempting to breathe-in the oxygen. My hands were cut, the blood dripped from my oozing fingertips. I was losing consciousness, and my eyes were drooping down low. I had to keep walking, just a few more steps! The wrath of the shadow zombie was beating down heavily on me tonight. She desperately wanted my soul, she wanted to feel the power of authority. I needed to keep fighting. Every step was in agony, a shooting pain crept up my legs.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I could spot the house in the distance. Victory! With the rest of my energy, I crawled up the steps to the porch. Battered and broken, I pounded open the door and shut it -hard. It was overwhelmingly calm inside. A clock was ticking in the background. Tick,Tock. Tick,Tock. The fireplace was crackling, and spitting red coals.

I looked away, it reminded me of what had just happened.

Outside, the world was growling with bloody redemption, but it was safe in here - for now. Where was Grandpa? I trudged across the wood floor into his room. The lights were off, and he was rocking in a chair, staring out the window. I wanted to pull him away and tell him that a dark entity wanted to kill me, but sadly, he couldn't see her - only I could. His thin, gray hair was disheveled, his eyes were fixated on the moon.

He appeared tired, and worn-out, his eyes sagging low. When he heard my loud footsteps dragging across the room, he glanced over in my direction. He reached across his chair to turn on his lamp.

"Dear, God! Simone, what happened?!" His eyes were big and blue. He was alert, like an owl.

He quickly got up to inspect me, his wrinkly hands held my face. Just when I thought I was secure, a strong sensation to collapse hit me.

My brain was closing down, the world grew heavy, and my eyes slowly were shutting.

Grandpa's words were slow and slurred in my mind, and it was beginning to sound foreign to me. Moments before I fainted, my eyes scanned over to the window. There she was, smiling at me, and tapping at the window with her gigantic claws - ready to kill. She tried opening the window.

My last words were "no," and then zoned out into darkness.

I awoke in a daze, and was unsure of that had happened. I was bundled up in my bed, with a homemade quilt my Grandmother had sewn me. I squinted my eyes and wiggled my toes. I was alive. And I felt like a train had hit me head on.

I brought my hands up to my face, they had bandages stuck to them. I felt dirty and grimy. My hair was sticking to my skin, and a ring of sweat wrapped around my neck. I rubbed my dry eyes, sighed, and pulled myself up. My back ached, my legs covered in a blanket of scratches.

Slowly but steadily, I made my way to the bathroom. I rubbed my sore neck as I turned the knob. The tile was cool, soothing on my aching feet.

I looked in the mirror, my right side of my face was taped with bandages. My eyes were baggy, and my cheeks had a smeared army of dirt specks. I took a deep breath, and put my hair up in a loose, worthless ponytail.

I resembled a disgusting corpse. My lips were cracked and split open, sore and bloody. The white of my eyes had red veins popping in every direction. I couldn't stand looking at myself any longer, so I walked away from the mirror and turned to the kitchen.

Grandpa was making breakfast. The sizzle of tasty, comforting bacon rang in my ears. Good thing, too, I needed sustenance. Grandpa noticed me and shook his head.

"Simone, what happened last night?" He flipped the eggs and then turned to face me, waiting patiently for an answer.

"I don't know, I guess I tripped coming home," which wasn't a complete lie.

"Well, you must have tripped pretty hard. Your whole ride side of your face was bleeding. Heh, surprised you didn't take out your eye."

I somewhat ignored the comment and sat down at the breakfast nook. Orange juice was already awaiting me, and I drank it all within ten seconds. My tongue was satisfied from the cool, refreshing splash of hydration.

I couldn't take it any longer, what had happened after I passed out? Where did she go? Was she still outside? Normally, after her horrid visits to my house, she'd leave those black markings, taunting me and implying that she'll be back again. I shivered. I have to see if she left her usual markings. Thank God I came home last night at dusk, I don't know if I could have made it if I hadn't.

Grandpa looked a little better today, he was less tired, not as worn-out.

"What time is it?" I pondered out loud, closing my eyes from the strain of no sleep.

"8 o' Clock on the dot, pumpkin. I decided that you shouldn't go to school today, you know, after what happened. I'm afraid you'll trip again and die," and with that, he chuckled and sat down beside me with a feast of eggs and bacon.

I didn't waste any time, I practically engulfed the plate I was so hungry. I was pleased to know that school wasn't in my agenda today, I have no friends there anyway. I used to talk to Gram, and tell her about my days at school when I was a small child... that was before cancer took her life. I can still remember when Grandpa fell to the ground, his hand on his heart when the doctors told him that she was gone.

Gram was my best friend, the only one who ever listened to me, and read me stories, and told me about her adventures. She never mentioned my parents, she knew it upset me.

They died when I was just a baby in a car accident. I don't remember it obviously, but I had nightmares every single night, wondering how they died so fast. Soon after Gram died, the shadow zombie started to arrive. I'd sit up in bed at night and scream and cry until Grandpa would come into my room and hold me. I was such a frightened child, so innocent then. Now I wonder why the shadow zombie had picked me. I was taken to specialists, but they determined that I was a perfectly normal kid that was just afraid of the dark. If only they knew... If they knew the horrors I experienced, they too would cry and scream.


New Shadows Rising

I yawned and stretched for a moment, and then proceeded to stand up.

"I'll be back in a few minutes, I'm just going to look at the pond," I called to Grandpa who was in the bathroom.

I didn't wait for a response.

I put on my dirty red sneakers and went out the door. That's odd, the shadow always leaves her markings if she was here, but not today. I scanned the perimeter, and then carefully walked over to the pond. The stick that gashed my face was sticking up. There was a thick coating of sticky, red blood. I didn't bleed that much, did I?

Then I noticed a trail of blood going through the woods. I didn't even go into the woods yesterday, it couldn't possibly be from me. I observed the blood more closely. There were purple specks in it... Why? I kept following the trail, and it abruptly stopped at an oak tree. I lifted my head up to look at the enormous tree, and then my body chilled to the core, and I was paralyzed.

Written in the tree, with purple-infused blotches, was: Today I am evil, tomorrow I am human. What did that mean? I shivered and shook, because I knew exactly who wrote it. What was the shadow trying to say to me? My body shook tremendously, and I trembled profusely. My hands quivered out of fear. My face was draining every color out of me, I was stone cold, hard, and was as helpless as a rock.

Up above the terrifying message was a window cracked. Blood oozed from the shattered veins of glass. I took a slow, hesitant step backward. Was she here? Watching me? My eyes grew big, like a deer's in headlights. I was genuinely afraid, with no sense of security. I walked carefully, looking straight at the tree. Then, I turned and ran, not looking back at all. I flung myself like a catapult at the door, and then quickly and shakily shut it and locked it tight. I was breathing heavily again, heaving in the air. It isn't safe here - not by a long shot.

"Simone, what's wrong? You look like you've just seen a ghost." Close, but way worse than a ghost.

"Nothing, Grandpa."

I had to get him out of here - now.

"I was just jogging that's all." I pretended to act normal, as if nothing happened, but deep inside I was dying from the horrors that I've been facing.

That night I couldn't fall asleep. Then again, I hardly ever do. It felt like the shadow zombie was getting stronger every day. More impatient, more eager to kill. I paced back and forth in my room, and made sure my blinds on my windows were closed. I sighed heavily, and attempted to read. I'd finish reading a page, and then realize that I didn't even remember what it was about. Reading was absolutely worthless right now anyway. What was I reading, though? I turned over the book. How to lose five pounds in four months! Wow. That seriously was worthless reading.

I had better things to worry about than losing weight from some quack doctor. Am I going to die here? What's up with the windows? What in the name of God does that message mean? I had so many unanswered questions, I had so many worries, and was so vulnerable. And I'm not even an adult yet. Geez, I'd hate to see what I had to put up with in ten years. I needed a body guard, or something. Something to protect me from the zombie girl.

Eventually, I fell asleep, holding a stuffed animal my parents had gotten me before they died. I awoke to a knock, a very loud knock. At first, I thought it was at my door, but the cold realization hit me. It was coming from my window. Oh no. I took an icy, deep breath, and crawled over to it, cautiously creaking over to the window. I heard scratching, like nails, outside.

I couldn't take this anymore! I couldn't handle not knowing any longer. I mustered up enough courage to peer out from the blinds - expecting to see a deer, or a even bear. Biting my tongue, and prudently sliding back the curtains, I saw what was making the noise. I really wish I hadn't looked out.

When I pulled back the fabric, I saw daunting eyes, and way more than just two eyes. I saw dozens of white dots all staring my way.

A mass of shadow zombies were at my window. A huge wave of white eyes burned into my retinas.

I lost my breath, and my balance, and fell backward, landing hard on the floor.

I quickly got up, and closed the blinds. They feasted off of my fear and scratched even louder. I heard them whispering like the devil himself.

They wanted me, and they wanted me bad. I sat on my bed, defenseless, and completely unsure of what to do. I scurried to the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife, hoping perilously that it would have the power to kill a shadow zombie.

When I was younger, Grandpa would let me train with his swords he had bought in Japan from when he was serving in the Marines. I had gotten so good at chopping and slicing that I was confident I could always defend myself from her, but now, it wasn't just the girl shadow that I thought was the only one. There were multiple zombies, with different genders. The males were brutally big, and tall. Their teeth growled at me, hissing with their raw voices. They towered over my window like full, masculine giants.

My heart was thudding a billion beats per minute. What was I going to do?

I stiffened beside my door, tense, with the veins in my hands pulsing from my tight grip on the knife. I waited outside my bedroom door all night, waiting to kill whatever stepped out my door.

It felt like forever before it was dawn, but it finally had come. Tentative, I walked into my room. No whispers. No scratching. With the rest of my bravery, I glanced through the blinds. Nothing. The sun was shining out through the cracks of the house, and the shadows were gone. Relieved, I blew out a long sigh, and dropped the knife on the floor. I plopped onto my bed, still in defense mode, but drained from the long night. I began slowly shutting my eyes, falling asleep on my bed. Soon after, Grandpa came into my room, acting as if nothing had happened. He had the luxury of sleeping in peace, to be ignorant to the other world. I unfortunately did not.

"Simone, time for school. Get ready!" I felt so sluggish and groggy, twisting and turning uncomfortably in my bed.

Then again, most fifteen-year-old-girls are sluggish, and slow.

But I wasn't most girls, now was I?

I cracked my neck and back, and then got up. I didn't even bother to brush my hair... or my teeth.

I stepped into the living room, looking around myself. My brain was overloaded with a magnitude of questions. How will I, an alone teenager in the middle of the woods, defend myself against shadow zombies? Was that oak tree still covered with the creepy message and window? What could it possibly mean? I had to get answers somehow. I didn't want to worry Grandpa, so I tried my hardest to act calm. But my nerves got the best of me. Screw calm. Most girls worry about the pimples on their faces, or if Johnny McPopular texted them. I have to worry about killer shadow zombies that wanted my soul.

I ate a few spoonfuls of cereal, and some iced tea, and then grabbed my blue bag. I hugged Grandpa goodbye, and then left to get on the trolley. I needed information otherwise I was going to die. It was dangerous here, and I needed to fix that.

Walking the tracks took awhile, and it also meant that I had to pass the oak tree on my way there.

I got more and more nervous as I got closer to the tree. When I reached my destination, I was stunned. The blood-dripped words were gone. The window had vanished. Where did it go? I shivered once again, and ran past the tree, my mind racing, and heart beating rapidly. I didn't look back, I hopped over the tracks on the hill, hard dirt crunching below my feet. I waited at the trolley station, impatient and nervous. The old, rusted trolley climbed up the hill, and screeched to a halt. The red paint was chipping off of the trolley, I noticed.

I trekked up the stairs and sat uncomfortably on the metal seat.

I glanced over to my side. Mr. Reclund was beside me, fixing his tattered, denim cap, and chewing his tobacco. The driver made small talk with him. I didn't pay attention, I got out my notebook and started to write about the visits I got from the shadows. It was already Tuesday, and I didn't feel like going to school at all.

Instead, I was worried about Grandpa. He was my only family left, I relied on him for everything. What if the shadow zombies tried killing him? How would I cope? Where would I go? I tried not to think about it, and quit writing about the zombies. I began to draw. I've always loved drawing. Everything from unknown abstracts to self-portraits. It was a hobby I wanted to eagerly pursue. My doodle ended up looking like a collage of scribbles, and a mess of lines that resembled a ball of vomit.

I was almost to school. Ellenvale High. Yay. I huffed as I shoved my notebook inside my back, and reluctantly stepped off of the trolley and onto the paved rode in front of me. Now I had to walk the rest of the way.

I slung my bag over my shoulder and started walking. The school was in my sights. An ancient, huge, brick building lay in front of me. My school.

I opened the chained gate and moved slowly to the big two-door entrance. Inside, the fluorescent lights made me dizzy. I absolutely hated school. The white-tiled floors stretched on for what seemed like miles. The school news was playing on the television in every single room. For living in the middle of nowhere, the school was surprisingly hyped with technology.

Cell phones, computers, T.V's, electronic boards. You name it. I rolled my eyes at the school and all of it's inhabitants - this place was way too overboard with preps. I refused to conform to their 'standards'. I refused to smile like everything was just dandy. I refused to wear see-through clothing, and high heels. And I certainly refused to talk to anyone who acted like they were God's gift.

I wore a modest long t-shirt, and jeans, with old sneakers. No overbearing perfumes. No taking self-consumed photos of myself. No playing sports just because I feel the need to be like the rest of them.

Besides, I had enough running with the shadows for exercise. And I had Grandpa to talk to. Heck, I didn't even have a cell phone to my name. And why should I? It severs relationships between humans anyway.

Guess I should've been born in the '70s.

I stopped by my locker, and shoved my backpack inside. Oblivious to the world around me, I started walking down the hallway to class, over-looking every person in the school.


Wherever I Go, He Goes

The populars shoved into me. I didn't care, I shoved right back.

One of the whiny, squealing cheerleaders shouted, "Hey! Dirtbag! Why don't you go home and clean yourself?" her whole clique laughed at her remotely stupid comment.

I replied, "At least I'm not as dirty as you. Being the school's vulgar floozy isn't something to be proud of, you promiscuous moron. Heh, you're too dumb to even calculate the words I just threw at you."

One of the jocks stepped right in front of me, smirking into my eyes.

"Why don't you go home and cry to your family? Oh yeah, that's right, you don't have any, they're all dead!"

He shoved me to the ground, laughing. I was infuriated. Nobody talks about my family like that.

I got up, my knuckles turning white from clenching them into a tight fist. I smacked him right in the face, and then his friends tried grabbing me.

"Hey! Stop it!" A kid called from beside me. He was shouting at the populars. The kid stopped me from practically murdering the pack of them. They stopped, turned, flipped me off, and then walked away.

The kid was Dennis Stronach. A respectable, tall guy with short, wavy, dirty-blonde hair.

"Hey, are you okay?" He asked me with a sense of sympathy.

Dennis was my Spanish partner, and a grade ahead of me. He had just moved here about three months ago, or so I was told. I also heard that he used to live only a few miles away, but in a different school district. That, of course, didn't matter, it was probably just gossip anyway.

He always seemed shy and reserved, and I liked that he never seemed to judge me. He was somewhat considered 'cool' at my school, so I never got enough courage to talk to him. Now, this made me laugh. Here I was, fighting off hideous shadows wanting to rip out my soul, and I'm afraid to talk to a guy. I secretly wanted to face palm myself. I wish I hadn't ignored him now that he defended me.

"Yeah, thanks." I didn't know what else to say. I was going to turn and leave, but he suddenly stopped me.

"Hey, you live next to the trolley tracks, right? In that small house with a pond?" I literally had to think about what he was asking me for a few seconds.

"Yeah, why?" He peered at me, and looked amused in a way.

"I'm moving in next door to you. Well, I guess we'll be kind of like neighbors, if you want to say living two miles apart is a neighbor." He smiled and laughed a little, shifting his gray sweatshirt around his body, and waiting for my response.

I never thought about having any neighbors before, and to say the least, I never thought I'd have one.

"Oh, that's nice... Um, which house is it?" I only knew of two houses nearby. A tiny cabin, like mine, but next to a stream, and an old Victorian-styled farmhouse.

"The farmhouse. You know, the one with the farm." I laughed at his description.

"That's cool I guess. Are you going to ride the trolley?" I was curious.

"Yeah, actually today I will be. My Mom and I moved in this morning basically." I nodded and told him he could ride with me, and then poignantly the first bell rang.

"Bye," I called to him, "see you on the trolley." Then, almost tripping, I ran to my class like a mad man, hoping desperately Algebra Two hadn't started yet.


Blood, Gore, and Mathematics

I entered my math class, half-expecting everyone to turn to look at me like a raging mad zombie that's searching for the next victim. Huh, funny, even my subconscious mind can't avoid the topic of zombies. Great.

My eyes were dark, with hardly any energetic life in them, and I had no intentions on focusing on school work. I was worse looking than a dirty corpse that had been rotting for five billion years, which is pretty good for never having any sleep.

I took a seat in the middle row, as usual, and sluggishly crawled out the almighty boring textbook. It was the holy grail of death by tedious work. It probably had award-winning reviews from Einstein back in 1935.

I smiled to myself, and looked at the blackboard. Page 225! No talking. No gossiping. It might as well have said, "No air. No breathing. Forever." Of course, everyone hadn't obeyed the orders. The girls talk about the boys. The boys talk about the girls. The brainiacs talk about Quantum Physics. I talk to myself.

Mrs. What's-her-face stepped up to the front of class, squinting her sharp, almond-shaped eyes.

"Can't you people read?!" Apparently not. "It says, 'Page 225!' All of you better get that page out by the time I'm finished talking, or you'll be in the office for the rest of the day!" I might take her up on that offer.

Although I would've loved to go sit in the office, and do nothing but stare at a chipped, white wall, I had to keep my grade up. Grandpa would probably explode if I ended the year with a fifty-percent in mathematics.

I flipped through the dusty, stained book, and eventually found a page that only halfway resembled an actual sheet of paper. A green, musty smear on the page drowned out most of the words written. I grimaced, but attempted to read it. I got through two paragraphs, and came across something that looked out of place: A shadow slayer is a person with a special, unique ability to destroy black shadows. Shadow Lords fear this, as a shadow slayer has not existed in thousands of years. That did not sound like a math problem at all. What the heck is that about? Many shadow slayers died when black shadows united together to defeat them. Only two shadow slayers survived.

O-kay. Not weird at all. Getting a creepy message about shadows in a math textbook is completely normal! Any document written about this event was burned by the black shadows. They wanted no one to uncover their existence.

Who freaking wrote this? I slammed the book shut, and it made a hollow echo throughout the entire classroom.

"Ms. Evanadet, what is the problem?" Mrs. Walter (I think) turned to face me - irritated by the noise I had created. Her bird-like nose pointed up at me while she sat at her desk.

"Oh, um, there's no problem." I was shaking like I had tourettes. I lied. There was a problem. A problem she couldn't understand.

"Then why is your book closed, exactly?" I don't know, maybe because it feels like the end of the world is resting on my shoulders. Please.

"I uh, finished." She took off her reading glasses.

"Finished with what?" To be honest, I have no idea.

"The um, you know. Math."

She nodded slowly, and stood up to the chalkboard. "Well, that's fantastic. Can you tell the class what you read about?"

Black shadows. Something about shadow slayers. What the heck is a shadow slayer anyway?

"Uh, it was... about mathematics."

A girl with cliché sun kissed, bronzed skin who sat beside me snickered. She flipped her (of course) gorgeous blonde hair, and raised her hand.

"Yes, Clara?" Clara? She looked like a Tiffany, or a Jessica to me. I should probably pay attention to the people I'm around more.

"I read about how circles can be circumscribed, and how to properly do so." She flashed her perfectly white teeth at me, and then began laughing with her friends.


Of Music and Blood

The rest of the day went by terribly slow, almost painful. My eyes averted to the clock every minute. Almost there. Almost there.

Then, as fast as it started, it ended. The bell rang, and I briskly walked out into the open air. Home free! I sat on the steps, listening to Styx's Renegade while reorganizing my books, and Dennis sat down beside me. He was almost beginning to act like a friend to me. Maybe it was because he was just curious about his new house and wanted to know more about it from me. Or maybe I was just hoping too much.

I looked up from my books at him.

"Hello" was all I said.

He grunted at the greeting and instead replied, "Where's the trolley?"

I got up, stretched, and told him to follow me.

He walked beside me, like an innocent lost puppy. I snorted at the thought, and kept going. When we finally reached the tracks, we both sat down on the gravel beside it.

"Thanks for saving my butt today." I smiled at him with gratitude.

"No problem. Besides, I heard what they said to you. Freaking jerks." I nodded knowingly and offered him my hand. He was picking up what I was putting down. Maybe this guy wasn't so bad after all. He took my hand and we shook.

"Well, I guess that means we're friends now, huh?" He squinted down at me and half-smiled.

"Yeah." I returned the smile back.

The trolley blasted into my ears, puffy black smoke blew in the air. We hopped on board, and sat down together. I was trying to create a fathom about what I had read in the book. No matter how hard I thought, a conclusion never came.

"Is it nice where you live?" he asked me. His low voice brought me back to Earth again. His deep, brown eyes got big when he asked questions.

"Yeah, I guess so. A lot of trees, and grass." I didn't tell him about the shadow zombies. If I did, he'd probably think I was a nut job.

"My parents got divorced, and my mom and I moved into this new house. I didn't really want to move, I had a lot of friends where I used to live. Maybe we can hang out sometime?" He was saying this as he put in a piece of gum into his mouth.

He offered me a piece. I shook my head, there were only two pieces left, and I didn't want to take it away from him.

"Sure, sounds good." He was a very handsome guy, with pale features. He was surprisingly warm, unlike everything else in my life that was unbearably cold and suffering. He seemed to be a nice friend, possibly someone I could trust.

"Maybe you can come over sometime. My mom would love to know that we have neighbors." He was softly spoken, and bashful. As was I, and yet, nervous. Why was I nervous around him? I nodded and decided to get to know him.

"Do you like Twisted Sister?" I showed him that I was listening to We're Not Gonna Take It. Dennis beamed.

"This used to be one of my favorite songs growing up. Same with Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry. My parents always listened to AC/DC and Kiss when I was really little." I bit my lip. This guy was totally awesome... And I never would've thought I'd say that about someone.

"Really?! I love those bands. My favorite band is Metallica." I turned and explained to him. "Mine is either Rise Against, or Killswitch Engage."

I shook my head in agreement.

"Two awesome bands. I love metal." Metal fits my dark life, is what I was actually thinking. Dennis smirked, and noticed Beastie Boys' No Sleep 'Till Brooklyn was playing.

"I like them. Do you know The Offspring?" My mouth dropped. Are you kidding? I loved them!

"Totally! Want You Bad is my favorite song." Dennis appeared to be surprised.

"Seriously? Mine is, too." We stared at each other for a brief moment and then shyly locked our gazes apart. We smiled for awhile, and then began talking about more and more bands. I, shy as heck, quietly explained my passion for loud music. He concurred with me. For the rest of the trip, we chattered about more music, animals, school, and, hopefully, crossed my fingers that I would avoid the topic of shadow zombies.

The trolley came to a stop at his house. He waved goodbye, and told me that he liked my shirt. What was my shirt anyway? I looked down at it, and noticed that it was my old owl shirt. He must like owls. I felt flattered by the compliment. Dennis wasn't such a bad guy after all. I was almost feeling attracted to him - he was alluring in a sweet kind of way.

Heck, he'd have to be sweet to notice my shirt - even when I looked tired and grimy. I hadn't realized that I was smiling just thinking about him. It hasn't even been a day since I've known him, and I was already feeling better about my situation.

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