Grandma is halfway out the door when I run after her. “Go back inside, Kimberly.” She says when she sees me. She’s holding her gun. It makes me sick.
“No.” I say, tilting my head back in defiance, “That was Jasmine.”
“Who?” She asks, turning away from me and pacing down the path.
“The girl from the grocery place.” I say.
Grandma doesn’t respond, so I follow her into the woods. There’s another scream. This one is quieter than the first, or farther away. I clench my fists. It’s definitely Jasmines.
I remember the way the undead things hands wrapped around my throat and walk faster. Grandma swims through the trees like a fish darting down a stream. She knows right where to put her foot and when to duck. I try to copy her movements, but I stumble and trip.
“Help!” Jasmine screams, “Help me!”
I burst into a run, barreling past Grandma, “Kimberly, wait-“ she starts, but I don’t listen. I’m halfway gone already.
“Jasmine?” I call, “It’s me, Kim!”
She doesn’t respond right away, and for a moment, I fear she might be dead. Whatever monster that tried to get me has gotten her.
I exhale, and hurry towards the sound. I dodge between two trees and look up to see a grave on a hill. Jasmine stands atop it, her back pressed against a gravestone. She’s turned away from me, looking at something at the base of the mound.
“What is it?” I yell. She looks at me, and even from my vantage point, I can see the terror reflected in her glasses. I straighten my spine and waltz up the hill.
In the moment it takes me, she’s across the graveyard and ducked behind another tombstone. Her fingers are too her lips and she’s telling me to hush.
I roll my eyes and glance over the grave, looking for a monster looking man. Instead, I see something else entirely.
It’s definitely dead. I can tell by the way it moves. With each step, it’s legs crunch beneath its weight. And it doesn’t seem to be stitched up that well, either. It’s clearly not Grandma’s handywork, if the hare was any indication.
It used to be an alligator if I had to guess. Though all it’s appendages were bent at weird angles, like the legs had been screwed on wrong, so it was really hard to tell. Both its eyes had been plucked out of its head, and it seemed to be going by smell and hearing alone. If dead things can smell and hear, I think, another thing I’ll have to ask Grandma.
Jasmine crawls towards me, and grabs my wrist, “What’re we going to do?” She asks, her eyes so wide, I think they might bulge out of her head. I snatch my hand away.
“I’ll tell you what we’ll do; we’ll simply walk down the hill and not aggravate it.”
She stares at me like I’m insane, “It chased me all the way here from your house.” She says, “It’ll just chase us down there, too.”
I frown at her. The obvious occurs to me- if neither grandma nor I resurrected the alligator, than who did? Come to think of it, she also said the monster that attacked me was undead as well. My stomach aches, and I have to squelch down my fear.
I peer over the grave again. The alligator had seemed anxious to climb the hill blind, as it was pretty steep, so it began to encircle us, slowly and surely.
“It seems larger than a normal alligator,” I say, mostly to myself.
“That’s an alligator?” Jasmine hisses.
I close my eyes, inhaling softly. I felt the air for the familiar weight. There was a lot of noise buzzing around me radiating off of truly dead things, but only one of which was undead. The alligator. I focus in on it. It was more difficult than the frogs, fish, or hare, but I felt confident it still fell within my domain.
Suddenly, I felt the same things as the monster. My legs ache, flooding my body with agony. My nose twitches, and I hiss.
Jasmine pokes me, “Are you alright? What’re you doing?”
“Yes,” I hiss, “just saving our skins.”
Before she can even lean back, I force both of the monsters legs to buckle. Even with my eyes closed, I feel it collapse to the ground at the base of the hill. The life magic left within it bleeds away, and by the time I open my eyes, the thing is back to being dead.
I turn to Jasmine. She’s standing now, looking down at the alligator. Her eyes dart back to me, “How did you do that?” She asks, her eyes wide.
I blush and mumble, “Nothing.”
“You just killed that thing without even lifting a finger!” She cried.
“Hm, no I didn’t.”
My brain itches, and I press my cheek against the cool rock of the gravestone. Jasmines brow knits together as she examines me. “You’re so flushed. What’s wrong with you?”
“That is…“ I pant, “…a really mean thing to ask.”
The whole earth is spinning, and I can barely keep my eyes focused on Jasmine. So I decide to rest them, but only for a moment…
I wake up in a house that’s not my own, and that’s not my grandmas.
I shoot up, letting the frilly princess blanket slide off me and onto the ground. I was asleep on a couch adjacent to an ancient looking TV. A football game rages inside. It looks loud, but the volume is turned way down, so it only emits the barest of murmurs.
“Hi, you’re awake.”
I turn towards the entryway, where Jasmine stands with a bowel of fowl smelling soup and a glass of milk in hand. “Did you kidnap me?” I ask.
Jasmines face turns beet red. It seems inclined to do that a lot. “No!” She cries, “I saved you!”
I press my palm to my head, “That’s not how I remember it.” I say.
“Whatever.” She says, marching into what seems to be her living room, and sliding the soup onto the side table. “My mom made this for you.”
She sits down beside me and watches as I blatantly refuse to eat the carrot soup. It looks just as disgusting as it smells, worse even then the rabbits splayed guts. I do accept the milk though.
When I drain the last of the glass, I slam it down on the coffee table and ask, “Does my Grandma know I’m here?”