Can Dad Come Inside and Play?
“Zombies . . . zombies . . . zombies . . . ,” said Cheyenne, thumbing through the encyclopedia under Z. “Okay, Wally, here we are. ‘Zombie: a member of the walking dead, usually the result of a voodoo curse; zombies are found chiefly in the islands of the West Indies and, sometimes, Cincinnati.’”
“‘Zombie Cures,’” said Wally excitedly, reading over her shoulder. His excitement faded as he read the next sentence: “‘There are at present no known cures for zombiism.’ Darn!”
“Darn!” echoed Cheyenne.
When the zombie outside Professor Spydelle’s house in Dripping Fang Forest had turned out to be their father, Wally and Cheyenne Shluffmuffin were pretty surprised. Dad had drowned in a Porta Potti accident at the Cincinnati circus three years before, so they assumed he was dead. Now here he was again. But since he was a zombie, he was still technically dead. The encyclopedia said there were no cures for zombiism, so Wally and Cheyenne didn’t know what else they could do for him.
Wally was ready to give up, but Cheyenne wasn’t discouraged.
Although Wally and Cheyenne Shluffmuffin were twins, their outlooks were quite different. Cheyenne saw only the good side of life, Wally only the bad. Cheyenne saw ice cream and thought sweet frosty deliciousness. Wally saw ice cream and thought sticky hands and spots on your shirt that won’t come out in the laundry.
Professor Spydelle came into the family room, puffing on his pipe—a sweet smoky smell.
“Ah, there you are, children,” he said in his dignified British accent. “Did you bring in more firewood?”
“Not yet,” said Wally. “Professor Spydelle, we need to ask you a favor. A big one.”
“Why, certainly, Wally,” said the professor. “What is it?” He sank into one of the net hammocks that stretched across the Spydelle living room. His joints creaked as he settled down.
“Somebody we know sort of well is outside,” said Wally. “He looks kind of gross, but if you don’t mind, we’d like to bring him inside.”
“Who is this person?” asked the professor with a kindly smile.
“Our father,” said Cheyenne.
“Your father?” He frowned. “I don’t understand. I thought you children were orphans.”
“We are orphans,” said Wally. “Dad is dead.”
“Great heavens!” cried the professor, hopping out of his hammock. “Let me help you with the body.”
“Oh, you don’t need to,” said Cheyenne. “Dad isn’t exactly a body yet. He’s just kind of staggering around out there. He seems to have become a zombie.”
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“A zombie? My word! How fascinating! Let’s go out and have a look at him.”
Professor Spydelle followed the Shluffmuffin twins outside. Zombie Dad stood in the front yard, muttering to himself. Hanging from his body were pieces of rotting skin. You could smell him from clear across the yard, the sickly sweet odor of bloated roadkill before it explodes.
“Shy, Wa, me Da,” he muttered.
The professor was as thrilled as a kid with a new puppy.
“It is a zombie!” cried the professor. “This is extraordinary! I mean, of course, I’m so terribly sorry for your tragic loss and all that, but, um, this is absolutely extraordinary!”
“Shy, Wa, me Da,” muttered Mr. Shluffmuffin.
“Can you make out what he’s saying?” asked the professor.
“Not really,” said Cheyenne.
“Can you tell me how he died?”
“Sure,” said Wally. “Three years ago he fell into a Porta Potti at the circus and drowned.”
“Remarkable!” said the professor. “You know, children, besides voodoo curses, the only other way to become a zombie is drowning in a Porta Potti.”
“Really?” said Cheyenne. “I didn’t know that.”
“Oh yes,” said the professor. “That’s a well-known scientific fact.”
“Awesome,” said Wally. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know of a cure for zombiism, would you?”
“Know of one?” Professor Spydelle chuckled. “My dear boy, I invented one.”
“Shy, Wa, me Da,” muttered the zombie. He broke off a rib and used it to scratch an itch between his shoulder blades.
“What do you mean you invented one, Professor?”
“Years ago,” said the professor, “I spent a great deal of time and money developing a special life-restoring elixir. My first efforts were a disaster, but eventually I found a way to make it work. I was able to bring back to life one of the museum’s deadest animals, which had been found frozen in a glacier—a saber-toothed tiger. It had been dead, oh, at least fourteen thousand years, but my Elixir of Life made it live again.”