So, I had to write a sequel to The Dead Don't Talk.
Un-beta'ed, so quibble away.
- o – o -
Bedtime Stories for Zombies
Charlie finds the book in a burned-out house that used to be a rebel base. She doesn't know why it drew her attention—she does, after all, have more important things to worry about, like the Militia presence in the town less than a mile away. But she grabs the book from what she thinks might have been the nursery for the holdout base and tucks it into her pack. Danny is lurking outside under the eave, hood on his coat pulled low over his face—just like Charlie had left it this morning when she'd dragged him off exploring.
She smiles as her brother—his reanimated corpse, anyways—looks up from where he'd been examining a snail. He'd probably been wondering if eating it would be a good idea. Charlie shook her head as he gave an inquiring chirp. (Something had happened to Danny while he'd been buried, or while he'd been reanimated, and he can't speak anymore. Charlie thinks she's gotten pretty good at interpreting his noises, though.)
They make it back to Danny's nest out in the woods in good time. Danny sits contentedly in his nest, chewing on a brain. (Charlie does a good job of hiding her shudder of revulsion every time her baby brother opens someone's skull up to remove his favorite—and only—food. She gets her fair share of them for Danny, but it's a lot cleaner when they're already dead.) Charlie pulls a fresh pair of socks out of her pack and pulls them on, sighing in relief as she wiggles her toes in the warm, dun-colored wool. Danny looks at her, a curious look on his face. His eyes are still milky and unfocused, but she can tell he's concentrating on her.
She smiles and pulls the book out of her pack.
"I found a storybook," she says cheerfully. "Lay down and I'll read it to you. Okay?" Charlie uses smaller words, and speaks slowly. It works better if she wants Danny to understand her. (He's doing a lot better. Charlie doesn't have to pantomime her actions anymore, like she did when she first found him, months ago.) He lay down in the center of his nest of rags, and Charlie pulled a blanket over him, tucking the corner under his chin. The teddy bear she'd dug out of somewhere was tucked between his arms, and he was ready.
Charlie didn't know if her brother slept anymore. He was a corpse, after all. But it made her feel better, being able to pretend that he did need sleep. She'd been telling him stories before he "slept" (or at least pretended to, because she'd asked him to) for months, on her last day out in the woods by herself, but having an actual book was a nice change.
The first story was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Charlie read it, and hid a smile behind the book as Danny yawned like a cat. It was probably a reflex action—muscle memory. Not actual feeling. She could pretend, though…
After five stories, Danny's eyes had closed. He doesn't breathe anymore, so Charlie didn't know if he was sleeping or not. She decided he was, though, and pulled another raggedy blanket over his shoulder, hiding him a little more.
"I'll bring you something to eat tomorrow," she whispered, pressing a kiss to her brother's unnaturally cool temple. There was a slight, soft purr, and Charlie smiled, ruffling his hair.
"Good night, zombie," she said.
Danny didn't respond.
- o – o -
So, what did you think? Good? Bad? Think zombie!Danny is adorable? Drop a line and let me know.