The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. Not only was Bradley stuck eating lunch alone, but even the teachers watched her like she was about to start the next Romero flick. It wasn’t her fault she’d died, or that parents had sold the house to bring her back.
Bradley stared at her fruit cup on the lunch tray in front of her. She’d never seen anything less appetizing than the pale assortment of fruit cubes. When she glanced up, the entire lunch room looked away.
Even the Christian kids, usually unfailingly nice to everyone, would not look her direction anymore.Considering she had a lot in common with their number one guy now, it seemed a little unfair. Then again, maybe they were just too frightened to ask the questions. Had there been a tunnel? Was she a brimstone or pearly gates sorta gal? And of course, who was it?
The police had not been so spineless. Minutes after she’d awoken on the altar they’d arrived to shoo away the hollow-eyed figures her parents had hired to haul her back into life. A middle aged sergeant questioned her while her mother and father wept with relief. It wasn’t a long interview. The sergeant left disappointed, even a little angry, when Bradley told him she couldn’t remember any of it.
There was a lot to be annoyed about. Her old friends, suddenly distant and scared, her parents hovering intensity, the way her teeth didn’t quite fit right together anymore. But there were some things she could get used to.
Bradley’s pulse refused to quicken as she ran the school’s track in gym, or slow as she breathed in a joint, or hush as she curled in bed. Steady and strong, it drummed to the meter of the robed creatures’ chant. Her heartbeat never broke the rhythm she’d awoken to on that altar.
It made lying to the sergeant easy.
Bradley remembered who’d found her on that jogging path. She knew his hands, familiar and usually around her hips, instead wrapped tight about her throat. She knew his voice, though they’d never talked much out of class, whispering terrifying things into her ear.
They’d blame her, maybe not to her face, but in the back of their minds. Her parents, the police, her classmates so intensely not looking in her direction anymore. A cautionary tale of a girl who got involved with someone she shouldn’t have. Bradley got up from the table and upturned the lunch tray into the garbage.
Not everyone could stay away from her. When Bradley left the lunchroom she spotted him in the hallway. Unlike the erudite, possessed persona Mr. Shaw affected while teaching his classes, these days he was perpetually on jagged edge. His hair had thinned, his color drained, people wondered if he was sick. Mr. Shaw shuddered as Bradley passed him. Neither of them said a word.
Unlike hers, his heart could still race. Bradley heard it from the other side of the hallway, wet and hammering inside his rib cage.
He had confided his hidden appetites to her that night on the trail. Someday she would return the favor. Until then though, she had sixth period with him, where Bradley could sate herself with the ripe sound of Mr. Shaw’s fluttering pulse.
I am a thief and cannot be blamed for zombies given the line I was told to steal. The Gate in the Wood challenged the Legal Theft Project to use the line The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil.