I is zombie. Ma is zombie. Frank is zombie. We live in old Roberson house. We ate Robersons. Screamed and screamed. Shouldn’t eat baby first. Made Mr. and Mrs. Roberson loud. Screechy. Mental note for next time: Baby is dessert.
I sleep in dog bed. Robersons had big spotty Great Dane. Ate him. Sleep in his bed now. Fetal position. Frank trip over me sometimes. On purpose? Not Frank fan.
Frank met Ma at maternity ward. Ate babies together. Fell in love. Now stuck with Frank. Frank not real dad. Real dad somewhere out there? Mental note: Find real dad. Imagine: Real dad come back. Fight Frank. Rip head off. Put on chain link fence outside Roberson house. Warning: Ma off limits. Future Franks Keep Out!
Still too many humans, say Frank. Sometimes Frank go out for midnight snack. Get back into bed with bloody teeth. Gross, say Ma. If hunting, bring back for family, say Ma. Selfish. Frank get mad. Bite off Ma hand. Now Ma have one less hand.
Don’t hurt but annoying, say Ma. Easier to do things with two.
I kill Frank, I say.
Already dead, say Ma. Plus Frank bigger. Bite off your hand too maybe.
Will trade one less hand for one less Frank, I say.
He not all bad, say Ma.
But Frank not just zombie. Frank jerk zombie. Double bad. Bad squared.
* * *
I understand that zombie = bad. I go to school actually. Ma make me start going this year. Don’t tell.
No one at Bennett Junior High know I zombie. Ma say I look mostly human so pretend. I is pale for sure. Have bags under eyes. Don’t talk much. Sometimes breathe raspy. But flesh don’t hang off skin. No bone showing. Teachers don’t suspect. Ms. Fincher say, The boy need accommodations. Ms. Fincher nice. Now I can take longer on tests.
School not so hard. But tense during Zombie Ed.
Everyone get out your guns, Mr. Zimbler say.
Clunk. I put my gun on desk. Heavy.
We practice loading gun. Then unloading. Then reloading. Then unloading. Then reloading. Then unloading. Ten minutes a day. Smooth as silk, say Mr. Zimbler. Smooth as silk. Then we say it. Smooth as silk.
While we load guns, Mr. Zimbler lecture:
Ever since we learned that zombies can reproduce, say Mr. Zimbler, it’s posed a bit of a quandary for the touchy-feely types. So let me pose the question to all of you. Let’s say you see a newborn zombie baby crawling down the street. What do you do?
Blow its head off, say class.
Can someone tell me why?
Michael raise hand. Because every zombie is a disease?
Hm, say Mr. Zimbler. Anyone want to try rephrasing that?
Mandy raise hand. Every zombie has a disease, say Mandy. As long as that zombie is alive, it can pass on the disease to one of us. Zombie babies are carriers just like zombie adults.
Mr. Zimbler think Mandy is bee knees.
Some days, go outside. Zombie mannequins all over football field. We blow them to smithereens. Loud. Make ears hurt. Remind me of Robersons.
Once had real zombie in Zombie Ed. Special treat, Mr. Zimbler say. First person to shoot head get prize. Open refrigerator box. Zombie come out. Didn’t recognize him. Take turn shooting. I shoot close enough. Still miss by a lot. Mr. Zimbler don’t raise eyebrow.
Mandy eventually explode zombie head. Mandy get photo posing next to body minus head. Mandy get Kit Kat and high fives. Mandy wear Zombie Hunter tiara all day.
Mandy’s badass, Michael say at lunch.
And hot, Gus say.
* * *
Why go to school? I ask Ma after school.
Education important, say Ma.
We shot at real zombie today, I say. Mandy Cartwright blast head off.
Ma shake head.
Mandy got Kit Kat and tiara, I say.
Sorry, say Ma. You OK?
Fine but prefer no school.
No future as zombie, say Ma. Better to be human.
But we eat humans. Soon no more.
Humans winning, say Ma.
Humans winning? I say.
They talk about winning in school. Ms. Fincher say, We flattening the curve. Mr. Zimbler say, One of you kids will grow up to kill the last zombie bastard. Principal Hart say, Must prepare the children for post-zombie adulthood. But humans always brag. Assumed it was lies.
Every human combat trained now, say Ma. Hard to kill. Plus big fences. Barb wire. Zombie go hungry.
This true. Big fence part at least. We have military escort to school and back. For all kids living outside Safe Zone. Go single file through crack in fence. Officers all around. Then close fence. Some parents don’t want. Say kids outside Safe Zone should home school. But expensive to live in Safe Zone. Some parents can’t afford.
How Frank find food? I say.
I don’t know, say Ma.
Maybe ask him.
Maybe don’t want to know, say Ma. As long as feed us.
Frank not feed us for six days now.
Hunting not easy.
Do Frank know humans winning?
Frank in denial.
Maybe Frank know something we don’t.
Frank know nothing but stomach, say Ma.
* * *
Look around next day in class. Thinking.
We need Frank cause Frank get food. If no need food, no need Frank. I surrounded by food. Gus = Food. Carrie = Food. Jermaine = Food. Victoria = Food. Michael = Food. Tasia = Food. Mandy = Food.
Now I know why I go to school.
At lunch, Michael and Gus talking about Mandy again. Gus has crush but wimp. Michael say, Do you even have a dick. Gus say, Yeah. Michael say, Oh yeah let me see. Gus say, You’re gay. Michael say, Your mom beg to differ. Gus say, Zombies ate my mom. Michael say, Sorry I forgot.
I get up. I go to Mandy table. She with her pretty friends.
Hey, I say. Wanna hang out. After school.
Mandy look up. Mandy raise eyebrow.
Like a date? she say.
Just hang out.
The table go quiet. Like deserted street after evacuation.
You’re the new kid? say Victoria.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk before, say Victoria.
I shrug. Don’t like talking, I say.
He’s cute, say Tasia. In, like, a creepy emo sort of way.
I don’t know, say Victoria. He looks kind of stupid to me.
Not stupid, I say.
Ironic. Victoria actually stupid. During English, she say, I thought Ponyboy was a horse. Ms. Fincher say, A talking horse? Victoria whisper, Ms. Fincher looks like a talking horse. Everyone hear. Ms. Fincher don’t deserve. Always nice to Victoria. If I eat Victoria, not much brain meat. Empty calorie.
Sure, say Mandy.
Meet me at bike racks in front, I say. Three thirty.
I walk back to table.
Michael slap me on back like we just played sport. Dude, he say. Holy shit.
Gus glower like I was one who ate his mom. (Don’t know who it was.)
His fault for being wimp.
What got into you, say Michael.
Guess I have dick, I say.
You can say that again.
Guess I have dick, I say.
* * *
After school, snipers all over roof. Soldiers with big guns in position on lawn. Tanks park by street. Bennett don’t take chances. Last year, zombie ambush after school. April 13. Frank was there. Eleven kids eaten. Two by Frank. Not enough snipers. Now: many snipers.
Besides guns, lawn pretty and green with flowers.
I could tell them: zombies no longer try that. Zombies opportunists. Probe for weak points. Strike while iron hot. Iron no longer hot. Don’t need so many soldiers. But make parents feel safe.
I should go with military escort. But don’t. Go to bike rack.
Don’t have bike. But Mandy do. Mandy bike beautiful. Shimmery purple. Silver tinsel attached to handlebars. Seven speeds. Water bottle holder. Gun holster. Thick U-lock. Kids from Safe Zone still ride bikes.
3:30 pass. 3:35. 3:40. Put hands in pockets. Whistle.
Mandy arrive at 3:43. Sunlight streaming over shoulders.
Hey, she say. Didn’t you miss your escort?
Didn’t know she knew. Surprised.
Yeah, I say.
What’s your plan?
Bike home maybe.
You have a bike?
No, I say. But you do.
You want to bike through Ground Zero?
I shrug. Not that dangerous, I say. People exaggerate.
Don’t think Mandy believe me. But also: don’t think Mandy care. Mandy want danger. Mandy like scare. Mandy adventurous girl. Mandy tired of stupid friends. Mandy tired of Safe Zone and fancy bike. Mandy want zombie attack. Mandy want more excuse to shoot at zombie and wear tiara. Just guessing.
OK if I ride? I say. You on handlebar.
And off we go.
No one say much. We get to military checkpoint and fence. I show officer ID. Ma got me fake ID. It say my name Todd. My name not Todd. Bad name. But ID good one. Officer wave us through.
Be careful, say officer. Dark in a couple hours.
Officer think Ground Zero safe during daylight. Dumb. Actually very dangerous. Frank say he hunt best between 4 and 6 p.m. Say it feel like dinner time.
Not sure why humans think dark = dangerous. Zombies sleep at night. Not owls.
* * *
Ground Zero not pretty like Bennett. Ground Zero full of weeds. Weed paradise. Zombies bad gardeners. Or maybe good gardeners but don’t care about flowers. I like flowers. Don’t tell.
Lots of things in Ground Zero broken. Windows. Chain link fences. Staircase railings. Sidewalks. Hearts. Just kidding. Zombies have no hearts. Have black hole where human heart is. But works same way I think.
When we reach home, I say:
Lock bike out front.
Shouldn’t we take it inside? say Mandy.
Zombies don’t ride bikes, I say. No worry.
Don’t respond. Actually don’t know why. Good question.
Zombies don’t ride car or bicycle. Maybe don’t care about getting places fast. Zombies don’t have day job. Relaxed schedule. Eat when hungry. Sleep when tired. No deadlines. Only humans like deadlines. Humans say, Turn in paper by Friday or else. Why Friday? No one know. But everything have to run on time.
I shrug. Never seen zombie ride bike, I say.
If you say so, say Mandy.
She lock bike. Then she pull gun out of bike holster and put in waist.
Um, I say. My family don’t like gun in house.
Mandy raise her eyebrows.
Mr. Zimbler said we should never go without it, she say.
If you say so, I say.
* * *
Haven’t thought out plan past this. Hope Frank not home. Want to explain plan to Ma.
But suddenly realize can’t. I don’t look much like zombie, but Ma do. Ma only have half a face. Other half skull. Exposed tendon. If Mandy see Ma, she probably know right away. Then fire gun.
Not accident Mandy won Zombie Hunter tiara. She best at firing gun in Zombie Ed. If she shoot Ma head, Ma gone for good. Bad idea to choose badass like Mandy. Should have picked scaredy cat like Victoria.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
I sit down on front porch. Stall.
We’re not going to go in? ask Mandy.
Nice view on porch, I say.
Not true. Across street used to be park. Now broken swing set. Seesaw creak in breeze. Dog carcasses hang from willow tree. No flowers.
That’s too bad, say Mandy. I always wanted to see the inside of a zombie’s house.
What, I say.
You’re a zombie, right?
No, I say.
I’m not stupid, say Mandy. Have you heard yourself talk?
Um, I say. I have accommodation.
We’re not all as gullible as Ms. Fincher, say Mandy.
You have big imagination, I say. Very creative girl.
You always nail the mannequins right in the head in Zombie Ed, she say. But you missed the live zombie by a mile. Did you just forget how to shoot?
Mental note: Mandy weirdly observant.
Time to go home, I say. Getting dark soon. Dangerous.
Don’t be annoying, say Mandy. Anyway, I’m not going to ask again. I didn’t come all this way just to hang out with you on the front porch. You barely even look like a real zombie. I want to see the real thing. Is your family home?
I get mad. Can’t help it.
I not real enough for you? I say. I could eat you right now. Literally. Yum. Easy.
So you admit you’re a zombie?
Ugh. Mandy trick me.
Don’t tell, I say.
Hmm, say Mandy. I don’t know. Don’t you think parents have a right to know their kids are going to school with a zombie boy?
If you tell, I say, I eat you right now.
Mandy pull gun out of holster.
If you try to eat me, she say, I’ll shoot your face off.
I say nothing.
Let’s make a deal, say Mandy. If you introduce me to your family, I won’t tell anyone you’re a zombie.
I think about this.
OK, I say finally. But leave gun in bike.
Are you kidding? say Mandy. I’m not going into a zombie house unarmed. You don’t have any leverage here. Let’s go.
* * *
Ma is washing dish in kitchen. Zombies not animals. Maybe eat humans. But eat them on clean plates if possible. Robersons have nice dishes.
Hi Ma, I say. Frank home?
Went out, say Ma. Back soon.
Ma don’t look up. Scrubbing.
Ma, I say. Here is Mandy.
Ma look up. See Mandy next to me. Eyes lock.
Mandy look unfazed. But Ma look fazed. Ma see gun in Mandy holster. Ma drop dish in sink.
Hi, say Mandy holding out hand. I’m one of Todd’s classmates at school.
Funny to hear her say Todd. Not my name. Zombie names interesting. Some zombie choose human name. Like Frank. But some zombie don’t like idea. Borrowing human name not appropriate. Make up better name. Ma real name Flesh Eater. (Common zombie name.) My real name Rip Your Throat Out. Rip for short.
Nice to meet, say Ma. Shake hand. Ma hand still wet from dish soap. Also three of her fingers just bone. Mandy don’t seem to mind. Maybe not notice.
I clear throat. Should say something.
Mandy best student in Zombie Ed, I say.
I’m just the best sharpshooter, say Mandy.
And teacher pet, I say.
I’m the teacher’s pet? say Mandy. What about Ms. Fincher’s class? You’re obviously her favorite.
Ms. Fincher think I stupid, I say. So extra nice to me.
I don’t think so, say Mandy. She liked that thing you said about Lennie being treated like he wasn’t human. At least you don’t think Ponyboy is a horse.
Victoria extra stupid, I say. Ms. Fincher should be extra extra nice to her.
Mandy laugh. Victoria isn’t stupid, say Mandy. She just doesn’t read. Actually, I was meaning to ask. Can all zombies read?
Now Ma laugh. Small grumpy laugh.
Zombie can read, say Ma.
Then why do you talk like that?
Like what, I say.
I don’t know, say Mandy. Like you’re dumb.
What you mean, I say.
Not dumb, say Ma. Just less words. More efficient.
Weird, say Mandy.
You want to sit? ask Ma. She point at dining room table.
Thanks, say Mandy. Ooh, is this where you guys eat people?
Sometimes, say Ma.
* * *
We sit for a while. Talk. Sun start to set. Mandy have lots of questions. Like, Is it true that some types of human taste better than others? (Yes.) And, What types taste the best? (Little girls.) And, Are you joking just to scare me? (No. Actually true.) And, What do little girls taste like? (Chorizo.)
Then grandfather clock bong. Six.
Suddenly Ma push out chair. Stand up.
Get out, say Ma. Not safe here.
Mandy look surprised. Look scared for first time.
I surprised too. I bring Ma food. Ma say to food: Please leave? Not safe?
Mandy pat gun in holster.
Don’t worry, say Mandy. I’m armed.
Ma shake head.
Sound on front porch. Someone come up steps.
Rip, say Ma. Take Mandy to basement. Hide her in supply closet. Then come upstairs.
I grab Mandy hand. Mandy don’t complain. We run downstairs. I push Mandy into closet.
What’s going on? say Mandy. Her voice shake now.
I put finger to lips. Just quiet, I say.
I close door. Run upstairs.
Frank in kitchen with Ma. Frank look at me. Frank have bad glint in eye.
Frank actually only have one eye. Left side of face caved in. No nose. Eye is bright blue like sky in Safe Zone. Considered handsome. Ma friends jealous. Shouldn’t be.
New bike, Rip? say Frank.
Forgot about bike out front. Dang.
Um, I say. Yes.
Good color, say Frank. Nice tinsel.
Thanks, I say. Good hunt?
Frank say nothing. That mean bad. Sometimes human get away. Then Frank come home angry. This happen a lot lately. Frank getting slower? Humans getting quicker?
Maybe Ma right about humans winning. Not easy to find food. Nearly all humans in Ground Zero already eaten. Zombies try to hunt in Safe Zone now. Very hard and dangerous. Just getting over fence hard. Soldiers everywhere. Lots of zombies shot in head going over fence. Then kapow. Gone forever.
Not terrible to miss food one day. Zombie can go days without eating. But this is seventh day Frank bring no food home.
Where bike come from? ask Frank.
Ate girl at school, I say. Take bike.
Liar, say Frank.
Not lying, I say.
Couldn’t hunt squirrel, say Frank.
Human slower than squirrel, I say.
Liar, say Frank. Human school make soft. Couldn’t kill if life depend. Starve without Frank.
Believe what want, I say.
Frank grab dish from Ma. Throw at wall.
Where human, say Frank.
Human? I say.
Human in house, say Frank. Not idiot. Still smell. Where human.
No human, I say.
Frank grab Ma arm. Open mouth. Frank sharpen teeth before bed. Very pointy mouth. Like shark. Frank proud of mouth. Admire in mirror sometimes. Ma grunt. Try to yank arm away. Fail.
Where human, say Frank.
Downstairs, I say.
Frank go downstairs.
Ma look at me. I look at Ma. No one talk. Just listen.
Silence long. Wait.
Ma head jerk. We stare at basement door.
Ma grab my hand. Hold tight.
Frank come out. Face smeary red. Find mirror in hall.
Open mouth. Admire sharp bloody teeth. Smile.
* * *
Everything fine at school next day until Zombie Ed. Unloading and reloading shotgun when voice come on intercom:
Todd Mercer, please report to the office. Todd Mercer.
Class swivel heads.
Then Mr. Zimbler say, All right, Todd. Off you go. Why don’t you leave the gun here.
When I get to principal office, three people there: Principal Hart plus two guys in uniform.
Todd, say Principal Hart, sorry to drag you out of class. This is Officer Mayfield and Officer Jeffries. They’ve got a couple questions for you.
I’m afraid we have some bad news, say Officer Mayfield. A friend of yours, Amanda Cartwright, has been reported missing.
What, I say.
* * *
Couldn’t eat Mandy for dinner night before. Not sure why.
Eat, say Frank.
Not hungry, I say.
Not hungry? say Frank. Haven’t eaten for week.
Maybe don’t taste good.
Little girl brains special treat, say Frank.
Frank laugh. Mean laugh. Take my plate. Lean over. Devour like wolf.
Frank! say Ma. Fork. Manners.
Frank look up. Blood dripping down face. Scowl.
Then Frank and Ma get into big fight.
He have human FRIEND now? say Frank. And you PROTECT?
Not protect, say Ma. But if girl disappear, they trace to us. Rip have to leave school. And worse.
Good, say Frank. Human school brainwash Rip. Can’t even eat human anymore. Starve.
Rip no have to eat human, say Ma. Rip can eat whatever he want.
Rip is zombie, say Frank. Zombie eat human to survive.
Rip is HALF zombie, say Ma. Dad is human.
What, Frank say.
What, I say.
* * *
Amanda Cartwright, Officer Mayfield say, has been reported missing. And it’s come to our attention that you may have seen her last. Were you two biking through Ground Zero after school yesterday?
I say nothing. Think.
It’s important that you tell us exactly what happened, say Officer Jeffries. We might need your information to help us find Amanda.
We rode bike to my house, I say.
Where in Ground Zero do you live? say Officer Mayfield.
Across street from Paloma Park, I say.
Officer Mayfield look at Officer Jeffries.
That’s an incredibly dangerous area, say Officer Jeffries. Why didn’t you ride home with the escort?
Mandy want to ride bike, I say.
Did she say why?
Mandy is adventurous girl, I say. Like to try new things.
* * *
I guess it make sense that I half human. Explain why flesh not peeling. Explain why sometimes like eating Flaming Hot Cheeto in cafeteria.
But still: surprise.
When imagine real dad, imagine handsome zombie. Tatter shirt. Eye drooping out of socket. Black tongue. Protruding scapula. Big exposed muscle. Not soft chubby human like Mr. Zimbler or Principal Hart.
You make me sick, say Frank.
If no like, leave, say Ma.
You starve without me, say Frank. Helpless.
Rather starve, say Ma.
* * *
So you bike to your house, say Officer Mayfield. Then what?
Then Mandy come inside, I say. Meet Ma.
Amanda’s parents mentioned that they’ve never met you before, Todd. Was this the first time you’d spent time with her outside of school?
Yes, I say.
Whose idea was it to hang out after school yesterday?
Um, I say. Mine. I ask Mandy out. She say yes.
It was a date?
And you took her to meet your mother?
We’re probably going to have to ask your mother a few questions, say Officer Mayfield. Do you know the best way to reach her right now?
* * *
Frank throw Mandy body over shoulder. Slam door on way out. Leave trail of Mandy blood behind.
Ma look at me. Reach out hand. Wipe my face.
Zombie no cry, she say.
Didn’t bring Mandy home as friend, I say. Brought for food.
I can help hunt, I say. No starve.
You want to kill little girl? say Ma.
Not little girl, I say. Dinner.
Ma shake head.
Still little girl, say Ma. Still classmate.
Mandy shoot zombie in head, I say. Pow. Splat. Head spray all over football field.
Ma rip fabric off t-shirt. Dab my face.
Zombie no cry, say Ma.
Mandy want to shoot you too, I say. Mandy bring gun inside. Glad Mandy dead.
Don’t say that, say Ma.
Why not? I say. You don’t know. You is sick human lover. Frank right. You twisted.
* * *
Can you pull up the boy’s information? say Officer Mayfield to Principal Hart. Mom’s cell phone?
Principal Hart look embarrassed.
We looked it up earlier this morning, he say. For some reason, that information isn’t in the database.
Work phone then, say Mayfield. Home phone.
Principal Hart shake head.
You’ve got no contact information for the boy? say Mayfield.
Principal Hart don’t respond. Just look at me.
Todd, say Principal Hart. We need your help. And fast. I want to stress how serious this is. Your information could be the difference between life and death for Mandy.
I shake head.
Did you see something? say Mayfield. Todd. Do you know what happened to Amanda?
Why don’t we all calm down, say Principal Hart. The boy is obviously upset.
Mr. Hart, say Jeffries. We don’t have time to waste.
Let me go get one of his teachers, say Principal Hart. She knows the boy a little better.
* * *
Ma don’t respond. Just keep dabbing my face with t-shirt. Like I is baby.
But I not baby. Baby is dessert.
I get up. Run to door. Sun mostly set now. Dark. But still see trail of Mandy blood. Blood speckle down sidewalk. Around corner. Into alley.
Follow blood trail. Down one alley. Then two. Streetlights turn on. Moon bright in sky. Start to smell dead Mandy. But maybe dead dog. Lots of dead dog in alley. No one feed them.
Light up ahead. Garage door open.
Get on hands and knees. Sneak up. Peek around corner.
Three zombies in garage. One is Frank. All eating. No manners. Entrails everywhere. Blood spatter wall.
Don’t notice me.
Arm in middle of alley. Pick it up. Purple nail polish. Mandy arm. Touch my face with Mandy hand. Cheeks still wet. Wipe cheeks with real hand.
Hey, say voice. Who there.
Human, say other voice. Boy.
Not human, I say.
To prove, I take bite of Mandy arm and chew.
Frank step out of garage into alley.
Why here, say Frank.
Want to hunt, I say.
Frank shake head. Go home.
No, I say.
Won’t say again, say Frank.
Then don’t, I say.
If you hunt, say Frank, you get shot. Too slow. Too weak. Too human lover.
Don’t care if get shot, I say.
Your Ma never forgive me.
She already hate you. But hate you less if teach me.
Frank say nothing.
Let him, say other zombie. Kid have to learn somehow.
His teeth not ready, say Frank.
I have sharpener, say third zombie. Can have boy done in thirty minutes.
Frank sigh. Grab Mandy arm from me. Take big bite. Chew. Thinking.
Fine, say Frank. Open mouth, Rip.
* * *
Principal Hart leave office. Come back soon with Ms. Fincher.
I’ve explained the situation to Linda, say Principal Hart. She’s going to talk to the boy. Officers, would you give them a few minutes.
Officers get up and leave. Don’t look happy. Close door behind. Just me and Ms. Fincher.
I look at floor.
Todd? say Ms. Fincher. Are you OK?
I say nothing.
This must all be pretty scary, say Ms. Fincher. But I want you to know this has nothing to do with you. Everything’s going to be OK. The officers are just worried about Mandy. They want to find her as soon as possible. Just in case something bad happened.
I say nothing.
Oh, sweetheart, say Ms. Fincher. Don’t cry. Nobody’s mad at you. Everything’s going to be OK.
I look away. Window is part way open. Principal office on first floor.
Outside, green lawn. Flowers.
Ms. Fincher get up. Walk to principal desk. Get box of tissue. Come over to my chair. Kneel.
Why don’t you take one of these, say Ms. Fincher. Take a deep breath. Everything’s going to be OK.
I take tissue. Nice breeze come through window. Tissue flutter.
Pretty day out. Blue sky. Puffy clouds. No tank across street. No soldiers on lawn for couple hours still.
Todd? ask Ms. Fincher. Can I give you a hug?
Ms. Fincher give hug.
Sweater soft. Hair long.
My name not Todd, I say into Ms. Fincher hair.
Ms. Fincher pat me on back. Laugh. Oh! What’s your real name?
Rip Your Throat Out, I say.
Rip Your Throat Out, I say.
My teeth still hurt from last night. But pointy. Razor sharp.
Her neck right there. Smooth. Soft.
I go for jugular.
Will Ejzak is a high school English teacher in Chicago, IL. His short story collection What to Do When You Find Him was selected by Roxane Gay as a finalist for the 2020 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and shortlisted for the 2020 Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, Redivider, the minnesota review, Pembroke Magazine, and The Baltimore Review.