Story of a Zombie: Part Three
Also by alcatraz_the_amazing
I was framed. I wasn't the one who had vandalized Ms. Glophi's picture.
But that wasn't the question. Who was the real culprit? That was the true question.
I had suspects, of course. Roxi, my sister, however much it pained me to think of it. Kelly, who had framed me in the first place. But other than that, I had no clues.
"But Manth-" Roxi began, but I cut her off.
"Listen, sis. I'm sorry if it wasn't you. But I-" This time I cut myself off before continuing. "I just can't have you helping out if there is even a possibility it was you."
I could see the hurt in her face, but I steeled myself and walked away.
I had no idea where to look, so I just wandered the halls, looking for anything peculiar that might stand out. Apparently that was where the poster was found, according to a pet I had worked up the nerve to ask. The halls. And since I had no real leads, that was where I looked.
I passed the art room, the grade 5 area, the cafeteria. Posters were placed periodically along the walls. No sign of a missing one. I was just about to turn into the hallway leading back to the gym, hope gone, when I spotted something. Or rather, nothing.
Right where a poster should've been, there was a blank space.
Well, I thought, at least now I'm onto something.
I was leaning in to get a closer look when a sound from behind startled me.
I whirled around.
The girls had apparently been in a deep discussion, because they both looked startled when I called their names. I guess they hadn't noticed me standing there before.
"Jomanth, isn't it?" Kelly asked with a smirk, the skirts of her gypsy costume swishing as she put a hand on her hip. It was all I could do not to punch her. I restrained myself, though, and chose to simply ignore the smirk.
"Yeah," I replied cooly, scowling. "You should know that, considering you're the one who blamed me for what you probably did."
"Well, I-" spit out Kelly angrily. She stopped when Lana tugged on her arm.
"Kel, give it a break," she said. "He seems innocent." Lana looked nervous, as though she thought her friend would explode.
But Kelly didn't explode. She just turned on her heels and walked away, back towards the gym. Lana frowned and looked as though she wanted to say something more. But she didn't. She turned around and followed Kelly.
I sighed and slumped down on the floor, the blank spot on the wall not quite forgotten. My head was filling up with even more questions. What had Lana and Kelly been doing here? Checking up on the crime scene, making sure no one was looking for clues that would eventually point them to her? For there was no doubt in my mind now that she was the culprit.
I stood up and walked down the path the girls had taken, towards the gym.
I didn't have evidence, but I doubted I would find any. Ms. Glophi would just have to believe me.
I was just about to open the door and re-enter the party when-
"Manth!" Roxi's voice.
There she was. Right behind me.
"Roxi!" I yelled loudly. Then more quietly, after I had gotten over my initial surprise, I added, "I am sorry I blamed you. I know now that you weren't the one who really did mess up Ms. Glophi's picture."
My sister smiled and then frowned. "Why do you believe me now, when you didn't before? Do you know who did it?"
I nodded. "Yeah. I'm almost completely sure it was Kelly. You know, Kelly Grove? That chocolate Draik that hangs out with Lana Lore? She was the one who framed me. It had to have been her."
Roxi's face, which had been frozen in excitement at finding out who did it, fell. "It couldn't have been Kelly." I felt my own face fall. "You know how she's a great singer, according to most pets? She was singing when they found that poster. And had been singing ever since the party started, quite a while ago. I asked Minnie Prewitt, who was on the setup committee, and she said she never saw Kelly leave the gym." When I tilted my head, wondering why she had been talking to Minnie Prewitt, she added, "I've been trying to figure out who it was, too, you know. And I think Kelly's probably the first one anyone would think of. Sorry."
I recoiled. I had been so sure about Kelly. It had all added up. She had been the one to frame me, the one I had found near the empty spot on the wall, the one who looked down on me and was nasty and rude.
Tears in my eyes, I ran from the gym, down to the spot where I had seen the girls earlier. To my surprise, there was already someone there. And that someone had their head in there arms and was shaking.
"Lana?" I asked. Because that was who that someone was. Lana Lore, the faerie Gelert, sitting there in her ghost costume.
"Manth?" she asked, and it came out a sob. "I'm so sorry."
"Why are you sorry? You didn't do anything wrong." I sat down next to her, surprised that she was apologizing to me, a zombie. Was this about the time I had bumped into her? That was nothing.
"No, I-" She broke off and gave way to crying.
Okay. It definitely wasn't about me bumping into her. "You what?"
Lana took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to get you in trouble."
Beginning to understand, I felt my eyes widen.
She continued, not acknowledging my change of expression. "I was the one who wrote all over the picture."
"Why?" I asked, truly curious now. But in addition to the curiosity bubbling up inside me, I also felt anger. It was because of her that I was in trouble. "Why'd you let me take the blame?"
She was still shaking. "I- I didn't know what to do. I was-"
"Surprised?" I hissed cruelly. "How could you be surprised? You had to have known what Kelly was going to do. She's your best friend. Well, her and Casey Loopi, but she doesn't seem to be here. Why did you even do it in the first place?"
She took a deep breath. "I noticed how Ms. Glophi was favoured some pets above others. She thought that the faeries and the royals and such were all fabulous, while she treated zombies and ghosts and mutants like dirt. And I didn't like it."
That got my attention. It certainly wasn't what I had been expecting. "Keep going."
She seemed to be reassured by that, because she managed a small smile before she started frowning again. "I wanted change. I wanted things to be fair. So-"
I finished her sentence. "You wrote all that stuff on the picture."
Lana nodded. "I told Kelly what I was doing and asked her to take the attention away from me, to distract everyone. I thought she would just get everyone to play a game or sing a song or even just point out the window and say 'Look at that!' I didn't know- I didn't realize that she'd-"
Again I finished her sentence. "Say it was me."
Lana hid her face in her paws. "And now I don't know what to do and I don't want you to get in trouble, any more at least, and I just..." She trailed off.
I stood up and offered her a hoof. "It's fine. We'll figure it out." Even now that I knew who the true culprit was, I couldn't bring myself to tell on her. She had told me of her own free will. And I respected her reasons. But unless we did something, I'd still be in trouble.
"Manth?" The Gelert's voice interrupted my thoughts. "I think I have a plan."
Roxi was beside me as we stood in the gym. She smiled at me and then looked around nervously until she spotted Lana. Lana winked at my sister and then disappeared.
Lana, Roxi and I were the only ones in the room who knew what was about to happen. After Lana had confessed to me, we had both agreed to tell Roxi everything.
Now Ms. Glophi stepped out of the shadows on the stage. "Jomanth Terriplot? Please come here. Now."
She was holding a rolled up paper in her hand. I smiled. Our plan was working perfectly.
"Why? Why do I need to come up there? Am I in trouble?" I pretended to be scared, innocent.
She glared. "You know why. Now get up here, or the consequences will be worse than you could ever imagine."
I went up onto the stage, still faking distress. "I want to know what it is you're accusing me of."
She rolled her eyes. "Fine." She held up the paper that was in her hand. It was a poster, but not the same one as before. This one had a message.
"Dear Ms. Glophi," I muttered under my breath, as though I didn't already know what it said. "We wanted to tell you to stop. To stop treating pets unfairly. We are not defined by our colour. We are our own selves. We are what we want to be. Pink pets aren't always frilly and girly. Zombies aren't always disgusting. It could just as easily be the other way around. So we're telling you, Ms. Glophi, that you should stop. Or you'll be sorry."
"Thought you were clever, pretending to be more than one pet? Well, I know you don't have any friends, you nasty zombie. Nobody would ever want to be friends with you. Nobody." She was shouting now, and looked as though she was about to explode.
And then a a faerie Gelert walked onto the stage, looking nervous.
"I'm his friend."
I think that surprised everybody. The gym, which had been silent except for Ms. Glophi's screams, was now full of the excited chatter of an entire school.
Ms. Glophi glared. "Quiet!" She stomped her foot, and the room was again silent. She turned to Lana, her voice now soft. "Now why would a sweet faerie like you want to be friends with riff-raff like this? Did he threaten you?"
Lana shook her head, confident now. Her voice was firm. "He is my friend. And everything written on those posters was true. Oh, and by the way, he didn't write on the posters. I did."
The uproar that followed was deafening. Ms. Glophi's face twisted. A lone figure ran up onto the stage. Kelly.
"Lana?" she asked, breathless. "Why? Why did you turn yourself in?"
Lana scowled. "You wouldn't understand."
Following Kelly, a second pet led a third up. Roxi. And-
"Judge Hog, I can explain," she stammered to the Defender of Neopia, a hardened blue Moehog.
"I don't think your services will be required in this school any longer. I saw everything." He turned to Lana, Roxi, and me. "Good job, kids."
He took her away. "Well," said Roxi with a smile. "Our plan worked great! Judge Hog was happy to come when I told him what was going on! He said it was better than running around chasing unruly Trick-or-Treaters! Which reminds me- We still have a party going on!"
The rest of the night? It was awesome.
I'd like to be able to say that our lives were perfect after that. Sadly, they weren't. But I can say that they were pretty close.
Roxi and I still had our misunderstandings, but we mostly got along pretty well. She was still mischievous, causing our family a lot of trouble. But we were friends, and, in my eyes at least, that was all that mattered.
Lana stayed friends with us, too. She eventually gave up on Kelly and Casey, especially after they had an argument, which to my surprise, was about me.
Kelly and Casey had both insulted me, somehow- Lana never got too specific but she said it was because I was a zombie- and Lana had defended me. They refused to hang out with her if she insisted on being my friend. Lana didn't really mind, because she said that "Roxi and you are much nicer, anyway."
So as you can probably tell, everyone wasn't all buddy-buddy; "Don't judge a pet by their colour" was again thrown out the window. But things did get better. We got a new headmistress, Mrs. Anaheim, who treated pets of all colours equally. My peers began to respect me. My parents seemed to truly love me, after a while. And I had friends- Roxi and Lana.
So our lives weren't perfect. And to tell the truth, things wouldn't feel right if they were. I don't think I was meant to live a charmed life. But for a zombie, things were pretty good.