Excerpt: The Adventures of Monkey Girl and Tiger Kite

Someone was raising the dead.

At least, that was my friend Delia’s theory for the recent spree of grave robbings in our area. The police were stumped, and when I tried contacting the Hero Corps I was given an automated message of given a coldly worded automated message that implied that the superheroes would look into it without actually promising anything.

“Ingrates,” Delia had declared, when I showed her the email during our lunch period. “We saved this city last June. They should be begging us to join the Corps, not sending us on our way with a pat on the head and telling us to leave this sort of thing to the grown-ups.”

“Yeah, but do you really want to join the Corps at fifteen?” I pointed out. It was hard enough juggling school and softball practice. I don’t know how the Hero Corps are able to have day jobs and normal lives along with their Hero lives.

Delia sighed. “Not really,” she admitted. “I just wish they’d take us seriously. I guess it’s up to us to save the city by ourselves. Again.”

“It might be nothing,” I said hopefully, though fifteen missing bodies over the course of two weeks did not seem like nothing. It sounded, as Delia had put it, like the start of a zombie army. “Or maybe it won’t be zombies.” I hated zombies.

Delia rolled her eyes. “Yes, because there are so many uses for a dozen human corpses. Come on, Sunny.”

“Maybe someone is feeding them to a monster that only eats human flesh,” I said. “In which case it’s rather considerate of them to use bodies that are already dead.”

“Flesh-eating monster, zombie army, what’s the difference?” Delia replied. “It’s in our town, and it’s up to no good, so we need to stop it.”

She had a point.

“All right,” I said. “How are we going to track this guy down? Stakeout? I’m pretty close to the Roseville cemetery. We can take it in shifts.”

Delia squirmed. “Well, about that…”

“Yes…?”

“Do you think you might be able to take this one on your own? There’s a robotics competition coming up this weekend, and I still have a lot of work to do.”

I stared at my traitor friend. “You’re ditching me? For a robot?”

“Well, it’s not like I’m any good to you without them,” Delia said.

I winced. It was true that during the June Apocalypse, as the event had come to be called, I had fought with my powers while Delia had fought with her machines. And it was true that afterwards, I was the only one who attracted the attention of the Hero Corps to be registered in their system as a super-human. But Delia had been my best friend since middle school, and she was my partner in everything.

Or so I had thought.

“But I don’t want to face zombies alone,” I whined. “I hate zombies. I couldn’t even get through that one episode of The Walking Dead with you, remember?”

Delia rolled her eyes. “I remember. All right. I’ll see how much I can get done tonight, and if I’m ahead of schedule, I’ll join you. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said, resigned.

Delia grinned at me. “Besides, I’m working on a surprise for you.”

“Oh? What is it?”

Delia laughed. “If I told you, then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

I made the appropriate grumbling noises, but really, I was glad I had made her smile. Delia’s life’s work had been a personal flying machine, and that had been destroyed in June. She had been desolate ever since. It broke my heart to see her that way—and not just because I was completely in love with her.

So I didn’t mind too much sitting in a cemetery at three in the morning all by myself, doing math homework while waiting for a zombie army to show up.

Okay, I minded a little.

While hunting through the back of my textbook to figure out why I had gotten a different wrong answer three times in a row, a strange sound drifted toward me. I paused, listening. It was an odd, irregular thumping sound, like someone stamping out a rhythmless dance. Glad for the excuse to put away my book, I got up to investigate.

When I saw what it was, I almost preferred the math homework.

The… thing was roughly man-shaped, but I could tell at a glance that it was not human. Not anymore, at least. Its limbs were stiff with rigor mortis, forcing it to move with a strange, hopping motion. It wore ragged, dirt-stained tatters, and carried a shovel. I couldn’t see its face. I didn’t want to. Faces were what freaked me out the most in zombie movies.

As I watched, the zombie stopped by a grave, awkwardly set its shovel to the ground, and began to dig.

“Oh no you don’t,” I muttered. With some effort, I swallowed my urge to vomit, took a deep breath, and shouted “Hey! You there!”

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