No sooner had Tom and Stevie seen the creature on the steps above them than it charged down at them, strange choking noise issuing from its throat. It was clumsy, and more fell from the landing than leapt. It was, however, extremely fast. By the time Tom processed what was happening, the thing had slid between them and was disappearing around the corner to the kitchen.
“Let’s get it!” said Stevie, brandishing his crowbar.
“Wait!” said Tom. “What about Stacia?”
“You go after her, I’m going after the zombie!” Stevie bolted toward the kitchen.
“Zombie?!” Tom hesitated, agonized, then took off after Stevie. Stacia would be safe where she was for the moment. He hoped.
He didn’t have to go far. He found Stevie standing at the back door, peering out at the back lawn.
“What did you mean ‘zombie’?” asked Tom as he came up beside his brother.
“Well, it wasn’t one of the ninjas, that’s for sure.”
“What do you mean? It was all black, just like the things in our house.”
“Uh-uh. I saw one of the ninjas. They actually have black skin. Or, it’s like the light hits their skin and just stops. And green eyes. This guy was more like he was covered in black slime. You can even see the trail.” Stevie pointed at the floor, and now Tom noticed it – a trail of oily black stuff leading back toward the stairs. Not black, burned dots.
“But why did you call him a zombie?”
“What else would you call something that smells like that? And he looked mostly like a person, only covered in black slime, and his eyes were all milky like a zombie. And he made funny noises, like zombies do.”
Tom stared at Stevie. “How did you notice all that?”
“I’m good at paying attention,” said Stevie dismissively. “But I don’t know if I want to chase him all over the neighborhood.”
“Well, maybe we should go find Stacia,” said Tom.
Suddenly they both heard a voice call out “Stevie!” from nearby.
“That sounds like Mr. Grunderson!” said Stevie excitedly.
“What’s Mr. Gunderson doing here?”
“He probably came to help! He knows how to fight ninjas!” Stevie ran out into the yard yelling, “Mr. Grunderson! Mr. Grunderson, I’m here!”
Tom stood baffled in the doorway. Mr. Gunderson knew how to fight ninjas? Tom shook his head. He decided it was time to go get Stacia. He pulled out the machete and switched it to his right hand. With ninjas and zombies on the loose, he didn’t know what he was going to face. Gripping a weapon in each hand, he took a deep breath and stalked up the stairs.