Zombie Town, Page 1R. L. Stine
Other Books by R.L. STINE
• Fear Street
• Rotten School
• Mostly Ghostly
• It’s the First Day of School…Forever!
• The Haunting Hour
• The Nightmare Hour
• The Adventures of Shrinkman
• The 13th Warning
• The Creatures from Beyond Beyond
• Three Faces of Me
• My Alien Parents
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright © 2001 Parachute Press
Cover illustration by Tim Jacobus
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
A Parachute Press Book
Published by Amazon Publishing
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140
Table of Contents
About The Author
• R.L. STINE •
Do you stay awake nights worrying about zombies? Do you hear sounds outside your window late at night and picture dead people crawling out of their graves and marching…marching and staggering toward your house to grab you, suck out your brain, and eat your flesh?
No. You don’t worry about that, and I don’t either—most of the time.
But when I was a kid, there was an old graveyard between my house and my school. It would have been faster to walk through the graveyard on my way to school, but I always walked around it. That’s because I could picture those rotting bodies coming up from under the ground, just waiting to grab me.
I knew there must be some people who think about zombies. There have been hundreds of stories and poems and books and movies and TV shows. And today zombies are more popular than ever.
The living dead are living it up big time! Everywhere you look, the undead are staggering around with their arms stretched out in front of them, drooling for fresh human flesh. Zombies might even be able to win a popularity contest against the all-time horror champions—vampires.
We know that more than two thousand years ago, people wrote poems about the dead returning to life. When they came back, the dead people weren’t nice anymore. They were evil—and hungry—just like the zombies we see in movies and on TV.
I’ve always loved reading books about the tough sailing warriors known as Vikings. In Viking days, there were legends written about living dead people called Draugrs. These characters rose up from their graves like wisps of smoke. Then they took human form and grew as large as they wished.
Some Draugrs grew as big as an ox. Being dead didn’t make them weak. They had superhuman strength. And according to the legends, they had superhuman smell. They stank!
My favorite holiday is Halloween. Did you know that Halloween started because long ago people believed that one day a year at the end of the fall harvest, the spirits would return to walk the earth? On that day, people wore masks so the spirits wouldn’t recognize them.
So next Halloween when you put on your mask maybe you want to say thank you to the walking dead. If superstitious people hadn’t been so scared of zombies, we wouldn’t have any Halloween candy!
The scariest zombies I ever saw were in George A. Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead. The movie’s slogan proclaimed: They Won’t Stay Dead! The zombies in this film were an army of ghouls—dozens of ugly dead people staggering forward, desperate to grab living humans and eat their brains and their flesh.
Audiences were stunned into silence. There had been scary horror movies for many years, ever since movies were invented. But the hideous, decaying zombies in this film were too real. Adults screamed. Kids cried.
People were upset, but zombies were here to stay. There have been six Living Dead films and dozens of other movies and TV shows in which the dead return to stagger and grunt and satisfy their endless hunger.
A lot of those zombies have staggered their way into Zombie Town. I got the idea for this book while sitting in a dark movie theater.
My wife Jane and I live in New York City. One day we went to see a movie in a very big theater. It’s an old theater that seats hundreds of people, with a balcony that seats hundreds more.
Jane and I sat down in a middle row and waited for the film to start. We stared at the red curtain that covered the screen, talked, and shared a bucket of popcorn.
After a while, I had a funny feeling. I turned around and realized no one was sitting behind us. I gazed around the whole theater, and I quickly saw that we were the only two people there. This enormous movie theater was empty except for Jane and me.
The doors closed. The lights went down. The theater became very dark. The curtain squeaked as it started to slide open.
I felt a chill at the back of my neck. Being alone in the dark in this huge auditorium was creeping me out. My imagination whirred into overdrive, and I started asking myself scary questions…
Why are we the only ones here? Is this some kind of trap?
What if the doors are locked? What if we’re locked in here?
It’s too dark and too quiet. Something HORRIFYING is about to happen.
And that’s where this book starts. With two kids, Mike and Karen, locked in a dark movie house…and something HORRIFYING is about to happen.
“See, Mike? Any minute now, it’s going to pour,” Karen said. “We’ll get soaked.”
I sat on my front steps and stared up at the sky. Dark clouds rolled low overhead. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
I sighed. Why couldn’t it be sunny?
“It’s so not a good day for skateboarding,” Karen said.
“Right,” I agreed. “But we could hang out and play Diablo III on my new laptop.”
“We already played it at least a hundred times,” she complained. She grabbed my arm. “Come on, Mike! We have to do this!”
I sighed again. Karen is my best friend. She lives across the street from me, and we almost always hang out together on Saturdays. Since we couldn’t skateboard today, we were trying to decide what to do.
Actually, I was the only one trying to decide. Karen already knew.
She wanted to go see Zombie Town.
Zombie Town is a horror movie. A terrifying horror movie about a bunch of hideous, flesh-eating zombies who take over a whole town. No one escapes. The zombies eat almost everyone. The survivors get turned into zombies.
Everyone at our school is dying to see Zombie Town. Everyone except me.
I hate scary movies. They give me nightmares. They give me daymares! It’s embarrassing. I mean, I’m twelve. They shouldn’t bother me, right? But I can’t help it.
“Well?” Karen asked. “Come on, Mike. Let’s go check it out!”
“It’s going to be really gross, you know,” I reminded her. “All those decaying zombies eating people and tearing out their guts.”
r /> She laughed. “Cool!”
Cool? Karen would say that, I thought. She’s not afraid of anything.
“Please, Mike,” Karen pleaded. “Don’t wimp out on me. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as zombies.”
I tried to think of other things to do. Help Mr. Bradley next door rake his leaves? No. It would be raining soon. Play with my little brother Zach? Yuck! Go shopping with Mom and Dad? Boring! Clean my room? Was I that desperate?
I really, really didn’t want to see this movie. But I didn’t want to act like a wimp, either. “Okay, I’ll go,” I finally agreed. “But you buy the popcorn.”
“Deal! Meet you at the bus stop in ten minutes!”
Karen ran across the street, and I went inside to tell my parents our plan. I could feel myself getting nervous already. And I hadn’t even left my house!
Get a grip, I thought. After all, it has been a year since I’ve seen a scary movie. Maybe now that I’m twelve, I can handle it.
If only I had stayed home…
Half an hour later, Karen and I climbed off the bus at the mall. We ran through the rain to the cineplex across the street. A huge poster hung on the wall outside. It showed a zombie’s bloodshot eyes and wide-open mouth. Shreds of human skin dangled from his rotting teeth.
My stomach flip-flopped. “Forget about buying me popcorn,” I groaned.
We paid for our tickets. Karen bought herself a giant tub of buttered popcorn. Then we went into the theater.
The place was empty.
“Weird,” I said as we walked down the aisle. “This movie is a big hit? Where is everyone?”
“This is excellent.” Karen edged into the second row. “We won’t have to worry about seeing over somebody’s head.”
“I guess.” Actually, I didn’t care if I couldn’t see. I didn’t want to see. Maybe a bunch of seven-foot-tall basketball players would come in and block our view.
A couple of minutes went by. No one came and sat in front of us. Nobody even came into the theater.
I glanced around. All I saw were row after row of empty seats. This isn’t just weird, I thought. It’s wrong. Something is wrong.
And then I heard it. A low, creaking sound. The creaking grew louder.
I jumped up when I heard a crash. “What was that?” I gasped.
“I see it! A zombie!” Karen screamed. “Run! Run for your life!”
“Where? Where?” I cried.
She laughed. “Chill, Mike. That was the door closing. That’s all.”
I stared over my shoulder. Karen was right. Someone had closed the door. Now the auditorium was even darker. I sank back into my seat. “We’re still the only ones here.”
“So what?” Karen asked.
“It doesn’t make any sense, that’s what!” I cried. “This is the most popular movie in the country. We’re all alone in here. Where is everybody?”
“Who cares?” Karen shoved a handful of buttery popcorn into her mouth. “It’s cool that nobody’s here,” she mumbled, chomping down another handful of popcorn. “We have the whole place to ourselves.”
I didn’t want the whole place to ourselves. I didn’t want to be here at all. “I’m getting a really creepy feeling, Karen. I think we…”
“Quiet,” she whispered. “It’s starting!”
The lights dimmed completely. After a few seconds, some shadowy shapes began moving across the screen. Soft, eerie moaning sounds came from the speakers.
No commercials? I thought. No previews of other movies? What’s going on here?
Then I heard voices. Kid’s voices.
The screen grew a little brighter. Three kids about my age were walking through a park, laughing and kidding each other. One of them dropped his backpack. Papers and notebooks spilled out. The kids stopped to pick them up.
The moaning grew louder, but the kids didn’t notice it. The camera shifted to a grove of bushes behind them.
My heart began to pound.
The bushes rustled. A hand pushed the branches aside. A human hand, with black dirt under long, ragged fingernails.
Black dirt—from the grave.
I cringed as an ugly face peered out from the bushes. Then another one. And another.
The faces had green skin. And one of them had grime all over its nose. Then, as they gazed at the kids, I noticed something.
The nose wasn’t grimy. It was missing. The zombie had a gaping black hole in the middle of his face.
It’s only make-up, I reminded myself. It’s only a movie!
The zombies began to make grunting noises.
Hungry grunting noises.
Karen poked me in the side. “Get ready,” she whispered. “They’re about to eat their first victims. They have to keep eating people to stay alive, you know.”
“Don’t remind me,” I muttered. I clutched the arms of my seat.
The zombies shoved the bushes aside and staggered into the open. The camera closed in on the noseless zombie’s face.
As he gazed hungrily at the kids, one of his eyeballs slid out of the socket.
My stomach flipped over. Oh, man! I thought. Why did I ever let Karen talk me into this?
On the screen, the kids turned their heads. Their eyes grew wide with horror. The zombies loomed over them, moaning and smacking their rotted, swollen lips.
I knew what was coming. And I didn’t want to see it. As the kids screamed in terror, I squeezed my eyes shut.
A piercing shriek rang out.
I started to cover my ears, but the shriek suddenly stopped. Then I heard a sputtering noise, sort of like a piece of plastic fluttering in the wind.
I opened my eyes, just a slit.
Huh? The screen had gone dark.
I glanced around.
Except for the dim red glow of the exit sign, the theater was dark.
Dark and totally silent.
“I don’t believe it!” Karen cried.
“What?” I asked. “What’s going on?”
“Didn’t you hear that sputtering sound?” she replied. “It was the film flapping around. The projector broke.”
“Oh. Too bad,” I lied. Secretly, I felt relieved. Now I wouldn’t have to see the rest of the film. “I guess we’d better go.”
“No way. The movie just started,” Karen declared. “They’ll fix it. Just wait.”
Karen leaned back in her seat and chomped on her popcorn. I kept my fingers crossed that somebody would announce that the film had been ripped to shreds.
A couple of minutes went by.
“Hey, projectionist!” Karen shouted. “How long until the movie starts again?”
We swiveled around in our seats and glanced up at the projection booth above the balcony. The booth was empty.
Just like the theater.
Karen stood up. “The projectionist must be out in the lobby. Let’s go see.”
We stumbled up the aisle to the door. I pushed on the bar.
The door didn’t open. I pushed harder. No. It still wouldn’t open. “It’s stuck,” I groaned.
Karen leaned her shoulder against the door and shoved. I pushed on the bar.
The door didn’t budge.
“It’s not stuck—it’s locked!” I cried. I pounded on it with my fists. “Hey, somebody—we’re locked in here! Let us out!”
We waited for a few seconds. Nothing happened. I pounded and shouted again, but no one came.
“This is so not cool,” Karen declared.
“Yeah.” I turned and gazed at the rows of empty seats. My heart started to thud, and my mouth felt dry. “Why isn’t someone opening the door?”
“I don’t know.” Karen glanced around. “But we’re not stuck, Mike. We can get out through the emergency door.” She pointed down the aisle.
I gazed at the glowing red exit sign. Yes! The sooner we got out of here, the better.
As we hurried down the sloping aisle, Karen tripped on the leg of a seat. H
er tub of popcorn flew out of her hand. Popcorn rolled down the aisle like an avalanche.
“There goes four dollars down the drain,” she griped. “Down the aisle, I mean! I’m going to ask for a free refill.”
“Who’s going to give it to you?” I asked. “There isn’t anyone here!”
“Somebody has to be around,” she argued. “They probably all took a break at the same time or something.”
Maybe she’s right, I thought. But I didn’t care. Once we got out, I was going home. Karen could stay and watch the movie alone. Let her call me a wimp.
We reached the bottom of the aisle. I stepped up to the emergency door—and pushed hard with both hands.
Karen joined me. We both pushed. Then we tried pulling.
The door didn’t move.
My heart began to pound again. We’re trapped in here, I realized.
Someone locked us in. But—why?
“Wh-what are we going to do?” I stammered. My legs were shaking. I dropped into the nearest seat.
“Don’t panic,” Karen said. “It’s no big deal. Really.” She swallowed hard. “Well…maybe it is a little creepy.”
“No kidding.” I leaned against the seat back and stared around. I couldn’t see anything but the shadows of the empty seats. I couldn’t hear anything but my heart pounding.
“Hellooo!” Karen suddenly shouted. “We’re stuck in here! If this is a joke, we’re not laughing! Let us out!”
No one answered. When Karen’s voice stopped echoing, the theater grew silent again.