Help! My Brother's a Zombie!

HELP! MY BROTHER'S A ZOMBIE!

Other books in the Nightmare Club series

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THE NIGHTMARE CLUB

HELP! MY BROTHER'S A ZOMBIE!

BY

ANNIE GRAVES

Help! My Brother's a Zombie!

Published 2011

by Little Island

128 Lower Baggot Street

Dublin 2

Ireland

www.littleisland.ie

Copyright © Little Island 2011

Illustrations copyright © Glenn McElhinney

except house on front cover by Jacktoon

ISBN 978-1-908195-15-9

All rights reserved. The material in this publication is protected by copyright law. Except as may be permitted by law, no part of the material may be reproduced (including by storage in a retrieval system) or transmitted in any form or by any means; adapted; rented or lent without the written permission of the copyright owner.

British Library Cataloguing Data. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Book design by Someday

Printed in Poland by Drukarnia Skleniarz

Little Island received financial assistance from

The Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon), Dublin, Ireland.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For all my sleepover friends,
except Matthew (who's such a dork)

A
nnie Graves is twelve years old, and she has no intention of ever growing up. She is, conveniently, an orphan, and lives at an undisclosed address in the Glasnevin area of Dublin with her pet toad, Much Misunderstood, and a small black kitten, Hugh Shalby Nameless. You needn't think she goes to school – pah! – or has anything as dull as brothers and sisters or hobbies, but let's just say she keeps a large cauldron on the stove.

This is not her first book. She has written four, so far, none of which is her first.

Publisher's note: We did try to take a picture of Annie, but her face just kept fading away. We have sent our camera for investigation, but suspect the worst.

THANK YOU

People are
so
much less interesting than toads and evil cats, but Deirdre Sullivan is pretty strange for a human being and I would like to thank her for her help with this story.

And I suppose the cryptic Mrs Flitcroft should get a mention, too – she'll know what I mean …

H
ey, this is me, Annie. I'm the one in charge here.

I mean, look, every year, it's my house. My sleepover. My dad who sprays the fake cobwebs on the window. My mum who makes the cake with the black and orange icing and the jellies on top that look like worms.

(You thought I didn't have a dad and a mum, right? I don't. I just made them up right now. To make me sound more … well, normal. But it
is
my house. My cobwebs. My toad. And my adorable black kitten. I order the cake from The Gravediggers, in case you were wondering.)

Everyone who's sleeping over has to tell a story, see. It has to be a scary story. Because if it isn't scary enough, you're out. That's my scary rule. I get to make at least ONE rule IN MY OWN HOUSE.

If you're out, you have to pretend you're sick. So you ring your mum or dad and get them to come and collect you.

Last year, we sent Matthew home. I mean, his story was
useless.
It was about a ghost that said BOO and waved these
swords
around. What an idiot! Everyone knows ghosts don't say BOO. They say BLEURRRRGHHHHHH. And sometimes they don't say anything at all. They just
attack.

Anyway, this time, it's Jack's turn. He is going to try and convince us all that his brother (what brother? he hasn't even got one) is a zombie. Yeah, right. Way to go, Jack.

J
ack looked at us.

He had dark circles under his eyes, as if he did not get much sleep.

‘I've never told anybody this before,' he whispered, ‘but I have an older brother.'

‘Rubbish,' said someone.

Everyone knows Jack is an only child.

‘No, really,' said Jack. ‘My parents keep him locked in the attic. I think he's a zombie.'

Somebody gave a nervous giggle.

‘Look, you're supposed to tell a story, not tell us stupid stuff about your family.'

‘I'm telling you,' said Jack, ‘his name is Stephen and he's a zombie. Do you want to hear about him or don't you?'

Nobody said anything, so after a short silence, Jack began to speak …

He was a lot older than me, Stephen, but he never minded taking lots of time to teach me things.

Things like how to choose the best twigs to make a catapult out of.

Or how to give a proper Chinese burn, the kind that hurts for days and days and days.

He made me practise on the kid next door. (That kid deserved it. He was dead mean. We saw him kicking a puppy once.)

Just after Stephen started secondary school, the change began.

When he got home from school, he didn't have much time to play with me.

And even when he did, he wasn't really there. His head was somewhere else, somewhere far away where I wasn't invited.

He didn't like me any more.

I tried being really nice to him, but that only annoyed him.

He was mean to Mum and Dad as well.

He started staying up late at night, and it was really hard to get him up for school in the mornings.

All he wanted to do was hang out with his friends. I would see them on the street together, all thin and shuffly.

Their eyes would be flicking around like they were looking for a way out.

Only they weren't trapped.

And then there was the smell.

Like socks that someone wore in a football match and then left under a bed for six months.

Like the puddles you find on street corners when there has been no rain.

Then he stopped taking showers. I never liked showers myself. They always seemed like a big waste of time. You have one and then, a day or two later, you have to have another, all over again. It all seemed a bit pointless.

But Stephen stopped showering
completely.

Mum and Dad tried to make him, but he was too big for them to manage.

Sometimes, flies would land on him, and crawl across his face and clothes.

After a while, he stopped bothering to brush them off.

He looked sick all the time. I said to Mum, ‘Stephen's green!'

She told me that Stephen was growing up and that it was all part of being a teenager.

She said the smell was a part of it, too.

Next time we went shopping, we bought him some deodorant.

And we got scented candles for every room in the house.

Mum said that would make things a bit better.

Things didn't get better, though.

They got worse and worse.

Stephen got grumpier and shufflier and smellier until, one night at the dinner table, he tried to take a bite out of my arm.

That was
it.

When I came back from school the next day, Mum and Dad told me that they had sent Stephen to a boarding school for troubled kids.

They said he needed better care than they could give him here.

But it seemed to me like they were looking for a way out of the room when they were talking to me, and I'm not sure that I ever really believed them.

Things went back to normal for a while.

Then one day I needed to get one of the Christmas decorations from the attic.

It was the star and I needed it for this spaceship I was building in my room.

The attic door used to be a normal, wooden-looking one. But now it was big and made of metal. It had five different types of lock on it.

I asked Dad about it and he said I was not allowed to go near the attic any more.

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