Fantasy & Sci-Fi

The Undead Kid – Part 3

By Richard Lovig (Jack)

Our vigil on the roof had taken on a timeless quality. Listening to evacuation reports fifteen years old on the portable Tri-D, watching zombies shambling across the blackened perimeter, burning them down, and drinking.

Mostly drinking. It was pretty hot up on that roof.

"There's another one!"

"I see it." I sighted my rifle and touched the firing stud. Green light speared out, caught the shambling, decrepit form in the chest, and blew it apart. Pieces of zombie showered across the scorched earth.

"That's another one I spotted first Kid. That's three-hundred credits you owe me."

"Two-fifty," I corrected. "The last two you spotted were heat induced hallucinations. Remember?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Besides, this isn't fair." I laid my gun down and wiped sweat from my forehead. "Get me another drink will you?"

"Sure." Kistan tapped at the control strip of the PortaBar, caught the drink bulb as it dropped from the slot, and tossed it to me. "So, what's not fair about it?"

Surprisingly, I managed to catch the bulb. A moment later, remembering that Kistan had asked me a question, I said, "You've got the forest side. It's in shadow. According to the reports on the Tri-D, those things usually try to stay out of the sun."

"Want to switch sides?"

"Nope. The way I figure it, once the shadow from the cottage reaches the lake, they'll start crawling out of the water. If the Demon takes much longer, I'll be able to catch up. It'll give me some extra cash to spend after we get out of here." I notice the drink bulb in my hand, popped it open and sipped from it.

"I thought we were going to set up a perimeter and stay here?"

"I changed my mind. Those things give me the creeps. Can you imagine trying to relax and have fun with those things constantly staggering into a laser fence outside? It'd be like living inside a giant bug zapper."

"Ugh. So when the Demon gets here, we're just going to leave?"

"Sure, why not? We still have money, and we'll figure out some way of avoiding the girls. We're bright guys. Maybe we can even find Phil and even things up a little."

"That'd be nice. Hey!"

"What?" I grabbed for my gun and missed. I was about to make another try when Kistan spoke again.

"There's the Demon. And there's something following her."

"Must be a cargo pod. Let me look." I stood up.

"Uh, Kid..."

I didn't hear the rest. Everything went grey and spinny and I sat down again, rather heavily.

"You okay Kid?"

"Important safety tip. No sudden standing." I took out my interface card. "Demon."

"Here."

"Drop that stuff off at the perimeter, then pick us up on the roof."

"Noted."

"Boy I'll be glad to get out of here," Kistan said. "This heat is killing me."

"Don't be such a baby. It can't be more then a hundred, hundred and twenty degrees up here."

"Is that Fahrenheit or Celsius?"

"What a wimp. 'Oh I'm hot. Oh, I'm dying.' Any more of that and I'll have you shot for insubordination. Why, when I was young, we used to--"

"The Demon's landing Kid."

"That red thing up in the sky? You deal with it. I'm a little tired. I think I'm going to lie down."

"There's also a shuttle landing on the lawn. Uh, Kid?"

"Save yourself. Go on without me." I closed my eyes. The roof was rotating like a merry-go-round and I was convinced that standing or even sitting up would sling me off.

After a long, dizzy interval, a female voice spoke. "I swear, the two of you are like a couple of children. Just leave you alone for a little while and look what happens."

"Mom?"

"It's us you idiot."

I opened my eyes. Before me, occupying my whole field of vision, were a pair of shiny black boots. Small, stylish, tough yet feminine black boots. I looked upward, past slim black clad curves, to a very pretty face framed by long, tiger striped blonde and black hair. The expression on the face wasn't nearly as pretty.

"Patty?"

"Well, at least he still recognizes you," a second voice commented.

"Erica too, huh?" I tried to sit up, failed, and laid back down again. "Nice to see you. We were just uh, just, uh..."

"Just what Kid?" Erica inquired sweetly, moving into my line of sight. I saw a tall, dark haired girl, dressed all in violet, with an expression that matched Patty's.

"Just, uh... Just... Uh, I'm not feeling so well. Maybe I could explain later?"

"You will," Patty warned. "Come on."

The two of them pulled me to my feet, carried me to the Demon Star, and dumped me in the passengers seat while they went to get Kistan. I felt a cold sting on my arm as the Demon's AutoDoc went to work on me and my head began to clear.

I heard Kistan babbling as they returned to the Demon. "...dragged me up on the roof, and wouldn't let me leave. Said he'd shoot me."

"Sounds normal," Erica observed. "What else?"

"Zombies. The living dead, crawling out of the lake, attacking the boat...Oh, hi Kid," Kistan said as they dumped him next to me.

"Don't listen to him. He's delirious from the heat. Been watching too much Tri-D."

"I'd believe it," Patty told me. "Demon, take them down."

As the doors folded closed I used the temporary privacy to lean over and whisper to Kistan. "Say nothing. We can still make this thing work."

"You're nuts," he whispered back.

"Fine. Then you explain. I wash my hands of..." I stopped abruptly as the Demon reached the ground and the doors opened.

Patty looked in at us and shook her head sadly. "I knew we shouldn't have let you two go off on your own." She sighed. "Now, you want to come out of there on your own or do you want to get dragged?"

We quickly scrambled out of the car.

"That's better. Now, get inside that cottage and get cleaned up."

"But the undead..." Kistan started to say. I grabbed him and started dragging him toward the cottage.

"Never mind him. He's still a little out of it. Probably just needs to sit down out of the sun for a while."

"...kill us all! Brains! Brains! Mmmph!"

I put my hand over his mouth and continued dragging him. "Sorry about this." I smiled weakly.

Patty gave me a 'How stupid do you think I am?' look, then said, "All right, out with it! What are you hiding this time?"

"Us? Hide something?" I grinned a weak, sickly little grin, then, seeing the look on her face said, "Well, it's like this..."

"Go on," Erica said warningly.

"Well, we bought this planet from a real estate agent, only he wasn't really a real estate agent. Not like we had any way of knowing."

"Mmm-mm-mmm," Kistan said from beneath my hand, backing me up.

"Of course not." Patty said. "Now, tell us how you got ripped off."

"Well, apparently, this place used to be a colony of Vista IV, but some kind of experimental medical nanite got loose and brought all the dead back to life. They attacked us earlier today, while we were out fishing."

"And you boys wanted to keep us from finding out about it, right?"

"Mmm, mmm-mm mmm," Kistan said, holding out his hands in a placating gesture.

"I see," Patty said, nodding thoughtfully. "Erica and I will have to think about this."

As they began walking toward their shuttle, I called after them, "Sure! Take your time! I'm sure you girls'll consider this in a fair, calm, and even minded way."

"Mmm-mmm!"

"Don't bet on it," Erica advised over her shoulder. "And you might want to let Kistan loose. He's turning blue. We'll call you when we come to a decision."

"Mmmmm!"

"Oh, sorry Kistan."

"Well," Kistan said glumly, once he'd caught his breath. "We're in for it now." He climbed into the Demon's pilot seat and dialed a drink.

"You're probably right." I walked around to the passenger's side, got in, and dialed a drink of my own. "And I have some idea who's fault it is. Aside from our own that is. Demon!"

"You rang?"

"You just couldn't let that Cybertronics remark slide, could you? You had to bring the girls along to check up on us, didn't you?"

"I do have my pride. A little music? I've been culling my data banks for songs relating to your predicament."

"Such as?"

"Well, I have Surfin' Dead, by the Cramps, Dead Like You, by Inferno, Zombified, by--"

"You're all heart Demon," I said, cutting off the listing. "Maybe later." I took a sip from my drink, leaned back in my seat, and closed my eyes.

"What do you think they're going to do to us Kid?"

"Something horrible, vindictive, unpleasant, and designed to teach us a lesson. The usual."

"Oh, I was afraid of that."

"Don't worry. Whatever it is, it can't be any worse than this afternoon was."

"Don't bet on it," the Demon said. "The girls are signaling you."

I opened my eyes. "Right. Put 'em on."

There was a pause, then a screen opened within the front viewport. The girls were smiling. Definitely a bad sign.

"Patty, Erica," I said brightly. "You know, while you were talking, Kistan and I were having a little talk of our own. He was just saying how bad he feels about all this, and I was telling him how sorry I was that--"

"You got caught?" Erica finished for me.

"Yeah, well, that too."

"Don't worry about it. We just wanted you to know that we've unloaded the perimeter defense system you sent the Demon for. It's outside."

"Okay, thanks." I paused, then said, "Will I regret it if I ask why?"

"I don't see why," Patty said. "We've been more than fair. We've decided that since you two like this place so much, you can stay here."

"What!" Kistan burst out. "This is all the Kid's fault! I didn't--"

"Such loyalty," Erica commented, interrupting Kistan. "Anyway, we didn't say that you had to stay here. If you want you can come with us on our vacation."

"Where we can keep an eye on you." Patty put in.

"Precisely," Erica said. "Anyhow, we're going to New Paris, if you want to come along..."

"I'll be staying," I said quickly. "Kistan?"

"I like the zombies here better. You girls go ahead and have a nice time. We'll see you when you get back."

"I knew you'd see it our way. You can keep the Demon, but if she makes a six-space transit from here, she'll be taking you straight to us on New Paris." She touched a control somewhere off screen and the picture vanished.

"Transmission from the shuttle has been terminated," the Demon announced.

Neither of us said anything. We just sat and watched the tactical display while the shuttle lifted on it's A-gravs, climbed to altitude, and made a six-space transit.

When it was finally gone, I turned to Kistan and said, "Well, let's get the zombie zapper set up."

"Don't tell me you're giving up?"

"What else is there to do?"

"Leave."

"You weren't listening. Patty said, if we leave, we go to New Paris. I've been to New Paris. Undead and all, I like it better here."

"Uh-uh. Patty said if we transit from here, we go to New Paris. How about if we transit from somewhere else? Demon?"

"In the theoretical event that I were to make a transit from somewhere outside of the Cophetti system, the restriction to jump only to New Paris would no longer apply."

"Demon," I said quickly, "Estimate travel time at peak speed to exit the Cophetti system."

"Two days, fourteen hours. However, the distance outside of which I am permitted to make a transit to a location other than New Paris was specified as one week at peak velocity."

"Well, that's that," I told Kistan. "Unless you want to live in the Demon for a week."

"Maybe not. You remember that Tri-D broadcast we were watching?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"The Gate Kid, the Gate."

"You mean the Gate to Vista IV? That was fifteen years ago. That gate's history."

"Actually," the Demon informed us, "a Gate of the sort shown in the Tri-D broadcast establishes its link via an enhanced wormhole effect. Such Gates are not designed to be shut down. I believe that the Gate, though constricted, will still be intact."

"So all we have to do is find it and open it?"

"Precisely."

"Hey, then what are we waiting for? Let's go."