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Authors: James Ponti

Dark Days

BOOK: Dark Days
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For Fiona,

who heard Molly's voice right from the start

You're probably wondering what I'm doing in jail . . .

M
y dad says you should always look on the bright side of things, and normally that's great advice. Like when I had to have my tonsils out, but I also got to eat as much ice cream as I wanted. Or when our weekend on the Jersey shore got canceled, but we ended up going to a Yankees–Red Sox game instead.

I was even able to find a bright side on the first day of school when a maniac zombie attacked me in the Roosevelt Island subway station. (It led to a group of amazing friends and a secret life watching over the world of the undead.) But lately the bright sides in my life have been harder to find.

I mean, what's good about the evil lord of the zombies—you know the one I was totally sure I helped kill—surprising everyone by reappearing even more powerful than ever? Or how about Omega, the secret society I'm a member of, the one that's responsible for maintaining the balance of power and peace between the living and the undead, having to suspend all activity because our security has broken down and the lives of everyone I care about have been endangered?

Then there's my current situation.

Right now I'm sitting on a bench in the middle of Central Park, which sounds kind of bright side-y until you realize the bench is in a holding cell in the Central Park precinct of the New York Police Department.

That's right. I, Molly Bigelow, Little Miss Goody-Two shoes who's never gotten so much as an after-school detention, am in jail. If you can think of anything positive about this, I'd love to hear it; because when my dad gets here, I'm pretty sure he's going to focus on the
getting arrested
part.

I can already hear the conversation:
Gee, Molly, when you said you were going to the Central Park Zoo, I assumed the animals would be the only ones behind bars. You're grounded for life!

I was charged with disturbing the peace because I jumped into the water at the sea lion exhibit. I did it in a moment of desperation, and while it seemed like a good idea at the time, I now realize it was a flawed plan.

First of all, the water was way colder than I expected. I'm talking like-a-brain-freeze-but-all-over-your-body cold. And secondly, I didn't think about the fact that I'd be stuck in wet clothes for the rest of the day. Being arrested is bad enough, but being arrested in waterlogged jeans, wet underwear, and sneakers that squish every time you take a step is even worse.

The officer who arrested me was actually pretty nice about it. Her name is Strickland, and instead of putting me in handcuffs, she just led me to her squad car, no doubt confident that if I made a run for it she could easily track me down by following the wet shoe prints.

Once we got to the precinct I was fingerprinted and had my mug shots taken. (By the way, remind me not to jump fully clothed into a pool right before next year's yearbook pictures. The wet look and I are not a good match.) Next I got to use my one phone call to let my father know where I was. That was pleasant. I'll skip the specifics, but the conversation quickly went from “Are you all right?” to
“Are you insane?”
Then I put him on with Officer Strickland.

They talked for a minute or two, and at one point she even laughed. Afterward she told me that she had some good news and some bad news. The good was that once my father arrived I was going to be released with a warning.

“Although,” she added, “if you ever want to go back to the Central Park Zoo, you owe them about fifty hours of volunteer work.”

“I guess that's fair,” I replied.

“It will probably involve a shovel and animal poop.”

The thought of that made me cringe. “Is the animal poop the bad news?”

“No,” she laughed. “That's still part of the good. The bad news is that your dad can't pick you up until his shift is over, so you're going to have to spend a few hours in the holding cell.”

That's where I am right now, sitting on a wooden bench in the holding cell with a small puddle of water around my feet. The cell is about twice the size of my bedroom, and, for the moment at least, I'm alone. I guess that's technically a bright side; but I think when the bright side is that your jail situation could be worse, then things are still pretty bad.

So why did I do it? Why did I climb up on the rail and cannonball into the freezing water? Was I escaping a crazed zombie? Was I protesting the treatment of animals held in captivity? Was I just being . . .
stupid 
?

No, no, and no. Although, the stupid one is debatable. The truth is that I was
trying
to get arrested, and not just anywhere. I needed to get arrested in Central Park so that I would wind up in this precinct, in this holding cell. In that sense I was successful. I just should have figured out how to get here without the wet underwear. (And without the whole shoveling of animal poop thing.)

If the rest of my plan works—and judging by my recent success rate, that's iffy at best—things are going to get a little crazy before I walk out of here. (Actually, if the plan works I won't be
walking
out, but I'll save that part of the story for later.) And if it doesn't work, well, then I'll have a lot of explaining to do when my father arrives. Either way, I'm not going anywhere for a while, so I might as well try to explain how it all happened. Who knows, maybe I'll notice something I missed the first time around. Something that will help me pull this off, because if I don't, New York might have front row seats for the zombie apocalypse.

It all started just a few blocks from here on a January morning when I was too stubborn to come in out of the snow. . . .

The Hamlet Suite

T
he biggest lie perpetrated by the Christmas card industry has nothing to do with flying reindeer and everything to do with snow. Greeting card snow is festive and fun, but real snow is just cold and annoying. That's why all the people on the sidewalk were hurrying to get out of it. Well, all of them except for me.

“You know we could always wait inside,” Grayson said, pointing toward the lobby with his head so he didn't have to take his hands out of his pockets. “I hear they've got electricity and heat.”

“If we go in the lobby, Hector will send us up to the apartment; and I don't want to go to the apartment without Alex,” I replied. “I want us all to go together. Like a team.”

Hector was the doorman in Natalie's building, and like all good doormen on the Upper West Side he didn't let you just hang out in his lobby. He kept you moving, especially when the weather was bad. That meant we had two options: stand in the snow and wait for Alex, or go up to Natalie's apartment and start without him.

“Let's just give him five more minutes,” I said. “If he isn't here by then, we'll go anyway.”

It was the first time we were visiting Natalie since she'd been released from the hospital. The first time the four of us were going to be alone since the epic failure that was New Year's Eve, when Marek Blackwell came back from the dead and Natalie wound up in intensive care.

Even though I was excited to see her, a part of me was dreading it. I felt responsible for everything that happened and wouldn't have been surprised if she blamed me too. I was worried that our friendship, which meant everything to me, was about to come to a sudden end. That's why I wanted to wait for Alex. I needed all the friendly faces I could get.

“Is everything all right?”

A police officer was asking us. He was tall, over six feet, and had broad shoulders. His name tag said
PELL
and he was curious as to why Grayson and I didn't have enough sense to get out of the snow.

“We're fine, officer,” I replied. “We're just waiting for a friend.”

“Well, don't wait too long or you'll catch cold,” he said. “Or even worse, your ears might freeze off.”

“That would be bad,” I said with a laugh. “I like my ears right where they are.”

He gave me a strange look and replied with sudden seriousness, “I'm not joking. Do you have any idea what that looks like?”

I traded a bewildered glance with Grayson before I asked, “Do I have any idea what what looks like?”

“What it looks like when your ears freeze off?” he said. “It's terrible. Let me show you.”

With no further warning, Officer Pell reached up and peeled his left ear off the side of his head. A pulpy green membrane hung from it as he dangled it in front of my face and started laughing. That's when I noticed his orange and yellow teeth and realized that in addition to being one of New York's Finest, he was also one of New York's Deadest. He was a Level 2 zombie with a twisted sense of humor.

I let out a scream and that only made him laugh harder. Between the snow, the traffic, and everybody rushing along the sidewalk, no one even noticed. You gotta love New York.

“Let this be a warning,” he said as he waved it by the lobe, pieces of zombie ear goop flinging past our faces. “We've got our eyes on you.”

He thought for a second and chuckled before adding, “And now I guess . . . we've got our ears on you too.” With that, he flicked the ear right at me and it stuck to my jacket.

I did a hand flap dance for a couple seconds until I knocked it off, and by the time the ear hit the ground, Officer Pell had disappeared into the crowd.

Grayson stared at me in stunned silence before stammering, “Did that really just happen? Did that really just happen?”

BOOK: Dark Days
9.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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