Zur’s Zombie Roommate
Rain was pouring and wind was blowing. Cracks of thunder blasted across the house every other second. The Lost Desert had not seen this kind of storm, in a while.
Bejimin sat inside of her home, just staring out the window at the downpour. She had cloaked herself in a comfy, pink towel to dry her soaked purple fur, for she had been taking her Petpet outside for a stroll, when the storm hit. “And I thought that this was going to be a beautiful day, Effie!” She turned to her Petpet, a Christmas Pile of Soot that was bunched together in a pink towel of its own. It was a miracle to Bejimin that the creature had not been blown away!
With a sigh, Bejimin hopped out of her chair and went to pat the creature on the head. Her touch was soft and delicate, causing Effie to let out a quiet purr of satisfaction.
For a Darigan Kacheek, she was a relatively gentle Neopet that was frequently looked down upon for having such a kind and friendly personality. Well, it was mainly other Darigans that looked down at her. Many would tell her that she was an embarrassment to her color or that Lord Darigan himself would be disappointed in her, but this same personality allowed her to just smile and brush it off.
As she continued to pat her Petpet’s Christmas cap, she heard the front door open and slam shut with a bang as loud at the thunder. “It’s raining Katoaties and Warfs, out there!” A high pitched voice sang out. “GYAH! Quit shaking! You’re getting mud on the floor! Stop!” A much lower voice decided to chime in. Bejimin quickly recognized these voices as belonging to her two adoptive brothers, Zurnorl and Canna, who had been out buying groceries in Sakhmet. With a giggle, she happily swung her tail around and hopped out into the living room to meet them.
“It’s so dry and warm in here! It feels so gooooooood!” Bejimin walked into the kitchen just to see an extremely dirty Mutant Gnorbu begin bounding around the room and slinging mud everywhere. Behind him, a paranoid Faerie Ixi was running after him with a mop and a pail of water. “Stop, stop! I just cleaned this morning!” he shouted while cleaning every hoof print that he could. But there were too many to count, and more kept appearing. At the sight of such chaos, Bejimin could not help herself from letting out a slight giggle and getting the attention of the boys.
The Mutant hopped again. “Bejimin, look! It’s raining!” He ran over to her, wagging his tail and scattering more mud. Bejimin smiled at him. He was a relatively dim Gnorbu, but it honestly made her love him, even more. “I can see that, Zur.” She looked around the room, looking for the groceries that they had gone out to buy. However, she saw none. They didn’t even return with the bag of Neopoints that they had to buy the groceries.
Bejimin turned to the Ixi, who was still panicking over the mud and doing his very best to clean it all up. “Canna? Did you get any food?” she asked him, a little nervous about their lack of bags. The Ixi, Canna, shook his head. “Nope. Zur dropped them all in a puddle, just as we were passing Coltzan’s Shrine! Everything is a disaster! Ex’s dinner party is tomorrow! She’s going to be so mad. Not to mention, we’re going to starve to death!” He curled up on the floor, hugging his mop and sobbing like a child. “And I paid that merchant a thousand Neopoints for those Ummagines…”
Bejimin rolled her crimson eyes. Canna had always been a cheapskate and a neat-freak, and his rants when things didn’t go his way were just pitiful. “Alright, alright. I’ll go buy some food when the storm clears, okay? That way you won’t have to waste your own…” She cleared her throat dramatically. “…precious Neopoints.”
Canna grumbled to himself on the floor, pretending not to hear his sister’s sarcasm as he went back to pouting.
“Well, it’s good to see that you are all out of the rain.” The three looked towards the door, where a rather punk-looking Elderly Ogrin was peeling off her stylish leather jacket and hanging it on the coat rack by the door. It was their sister, Ex.
Ex took off her leather boots and poured the rain that they had gathered into Canna’s water pail. Then she shook her worn, grey fur as she gazed upon her siblings with a calm demeanor. “This weather truly does put a damper on things, doesn’t it?” She strolled past them and to the kitchen counter, where she sat down on one of the wooden stools. “Oh well. Did you get the shopping done?” She blew a bubble with her chewing gum.
Canna hugged his mop tighter and continued his childish pouting. “No…”
Ex’s gum bubble popped. The calm expression on her face morphed into a shocked one. “No? Oh, this isn’t good. Not at all! A lot of that food was for my party!” Canna watched in horror as she pulled the gum out of her mouth and stuck it under the counter, knowing that he would have to clean it up, later.
Ex covered her mouth with her paw in thought and leaned her arm on the table. “Any ideas when this storm will subside?”
Bejimin went up to the counter and grabbed the copy of the Neopian Times that Ex had her elbow on top of. She opened it quickly and scrolled through it. Her siblings all watched her face, hoping for a smile or a relieved sigh, but none came. “Sorry, guys. There’s no telling when this storm will end,” she said.
“However…” she held up her finger. “…the storm is not all over Neopia. The nearest place that isn’t storming is the Haunted Woods. If we can tolerate a trek through a little more rain…”
“Nope.” Canna got back up and threw his hooves in the air. “If you’re going there, then I’m staying home. I refuse to go to the Haunted Woods.” With that said, he grabbed the mop that he was hugging and dragged it into his room before slamming the door shut.
Bejimin closed the newspaper and placed it back on the kitchen counter. “Well, I’m willing to go, if Canna isn’t.” She turned to Zur, who was hopping in his place. “Do you want to come, too?”
Zur bounced even higher and wagged his tail as if he had been waiting for her to ask. “Yes, yes, yes! I want to go to the Haunted Woods! Let’s go! Let’s go on an adventure!” Bejimin giggled and grabbed her rain jacket, which was still soaked from formerly being in the rain. “Ex, do you want to come, to?” she asked as she put it on. Ex shook her head. “No way. I’m staying home and taking a hot bath, but I’ll at least make you a list of things to buy,” she said and grabbed a piece of paper to begin her shopping list.
Eventually, Ex had finished the list and Bejimin and Zur were fully prepared to head out. “Alright, are you ready to go?” Bejimin asked the excitable Mutant Gnorbu at her side. Zur nodded. “Yeah, yeah! Let’s go!” he squeaked joyfully. Ex then opened the door and the two shot back into the storm and towards the Haunted Woods.
After a horrible hour of walking through the rain, the Kacheek and Gnorbu finally arrived at their destination.
“It’s so nice to be out of the rain, again!” Zur shook the rain off of his saggy, hairless body as he and Bejimin entered the Haunted Woods. Bejimin laughed and blocked her face to keep it dry. “I agree. Now, this will be harder than getting groceries at home.” She pulled out the list that her sister had given her. “Ex said that we can get any groceries that we can find, but nothing alive, nothing that floats, nothing that makes noise, and nothing that will make her dinner guests throw up.”
“Aw, that takes the fun out of everything,” Zur pouted and pursed his lips. “If we get things that float, it will scare Ex’s dinner guests all the way to Kreludor! It will be hilarious!”
Bejimin sighed and crammed her paws into her jacket pockets as she began walking down the dusty, dark path. Zur quickly trailed at her heels. “Normally I would be all for it, but we were given our last warning last time, remember?” She raised an eyebrow at her Mutant brother. “She said that if we pull one more prank on her and her gang of leather-donning, bicycle-riding elderly pets, then they’ll beat us up like Punchingbag Bob.” Zur pursed his lips at this and struggled to slurp a strand of spit back into his mouth. “I suppose you’re right. That old Aisha in her gang hit me with her cane, last time. I still have the bruise.” He shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Well, in order to prevent ourselves from being beaten up, let’s not waste any more time! Where do we go, first?
The two glanced at the note for a moment, looking at the list of Haunted Woods food items that Jessie had made, specifically for this trip. “Maybe we should split up. It will make the trip much faster.” Bejimin gingerly folded the note in half and used her claw to cut a clean line down the middle. “I’ll head up to the Crumpetmonger in Neovia while you tackle the Deserted Fairground, okay? We’ll meet up by the Brain Tree, in two hours.”
Zur nodded and snagged his half of the note between his crooked teeth. Then he quickly put it in the satchel that he had hung around his neck. “Can do!” he exclaimed and turned towards the Deserted Fairground. “We’ll be done in no… time?”
Bejimin was already heading towards Neovia, leaving Zur all by his lonesome. It hadn’t dawned on him just how scary this place was, until his sister wasn’t at his side. He was alone, in the scariest part of Neopia.
The Gnorbu slowly tiptoed down the path, no longer wishing to skip in his ecstatic, signature manner. He jumped at every noise; at every Lupe that howled, at every witch that shrieked, at every Spyder that scurried along, in front of him. Eventually he could no longer keep a steady pace and bolted into the darkness at lightning speed, refusing to stop until, finally, he tripped and fell right onto his face.
“Ouch.” Zur rubbed his hoof over his bruised nose and propped his chin on the ground. “Ugh… where am I, now?” he groaned to himself and cast his eyes around. The path that he was following had done its job of leading him to the Deserted Fairground, but he wasn’t able to stop before tripping into the graveyard by the gate. But what had he tripped on? His little legs were much too short to even reach a gravestone to trip on. It was something much shorter and closer to the ground. Curiosity made Zur take a look over his shoulder at what had caused him to faceplant.
And a moving arm, at that.
“GYAH! ZOMBIE!” Zur jumped to his feet and backed up against a nearby gravestone. “DON’T EAT ME! I DON’T TASTE GOOD!” he screamed and used his hooves to cover his face, expecting the undead being to rise from the dirt and leap at him. But it didn’t.
Zur slowly uncovered his face, mentally preparing himself for a coming attack that wasn’t coming. The arm was still on the ground, but he soon noticed that it wasn’t shooting out of the ground, as though attached to a body. It wasn’t attached to anything. It was just crawling around with its claws, as though looking for its body. Zur could not help but feel sympathetic. Some poor zombie was walking around the Haunted Woods without an arm. It was probably worried, sick!
Zur had the biggest heart ever seen in a Gnorbu, and he could not help his desire to return the lost appendage to its owner.
But, of course, that meant that he had to touch it.
“O-Okay, Zur. You can do this. J-Just grab the arm.” He slowly etched towards it, looking it over with terrified and disgusted eyes. “Just… Just do it and g-get it over with.
Zur shut his eyes, took a deep breath, and snagged the arm between his teeth. He moved his tongue to the back of his throat to avoid the risk of accidently tasting it and grimaced at the smell. How putrid! But, Zur had a job to do. He had to return it to the zombie it belonged to, even if it meant risking his life.
He stepped out of the graveyard and gazed around, looking for suspicious characters that would appear dead. As creepy as each suspicious character was, they all seemed to be alive and well. Honestly, the zombie could be anywhere! Zur couldn’t think of any place that he could even begin to look…
…until he heard a shriek.
“GET OUT OF HERE, YOU DISQUSTING THING!”
“Ma’am, please calm down. Zombies come here, all the time.”
Zur scurried over and hid behind the Bagatelle stand, careful not to wake that sketchy old Pirate Lupe from his nap.
The commotion was happening by the Spooky Foods stand. A rather terrified Speckled Meerca was standing in front of a much smaller Meerca, waving a pink umbrella at a tall, pursuing creature. It was an Aisha, and a zombie one, no doubt. It was dressed in a tattered, red, Neovian blazer and a pair of grey pants that were only a shade darker than its rotting fur. A wad of dark, oily hair covered the top of its head and fell over its asymmetrically-sized eyes.
And, after a moment of examination, Zur noticed that it was missing an arm.
“Eureka! That must be the culprit!” Zur thought to himself while watching over the situation.
“Why aren’t you doing something about this!?” the bigger Meerca shouted, taking a step back and pushing the smaller one back, with her. The shopkeeper, the vampiric Halloween Bruce, barely moved a muscle. He even let out a hearty yawn. “Ma’am, for the last time: Zombies come here all the time. They’re usually just interested in the food that I sell, rather than the customers. If you leave him be, he’ll go away on his own.” He tapped his flipper against the cart, rolling his eyes as the Meerca seemed to ignore every word that he had just said. “Get away from me and my sister, you monster! We are not your dinner!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. The Bruce shopkeeper banged his head on the cart, humiliated by all the attention that she was bringing. “Ma’am, the more you scream, the more zombies will come.”
Zur cocked his head, trying to figure out why the zombie kept perusing the two Meercas. If he was lured in by the items for sale, like the shopkeeper had said, why was he following these customers? Then he finally spotted it. The tiny, brown Meerca hiding behind the larger one was holding a dripping Brain Ice Cream behind her back that the shopkeeper didn’t know about. It didn’t seem that she was planning on paying for it or putting it back.
Zur couldn’t hold his tongue and dropped the arm for a moment so that he could speak. “He’s not after you, Miss! He’s after the Brain Ice Cream in your sister’s hands!”
The shopkeeper perked up at this. “What Brain Ice Cream? I didn’t give you any Brain Ice Cream!” He glared at the Meerca, shooting daggers into the little one’s very soul. The larger Meerca copied his actions when she saw the suspicious way that her sister held her paws from view. “Lina! You put that back, this instant!” she hissed. The smaller Meerca stared at the two with fear in her eyes before a growl rose in the Bruce’s throat.
“Are you stealing from MY shop?”
With a nervous gulp and a lack of any more words, the Meerca smiled nervously and fled, dropping the Brain Ice Cream in the dirt. The zombie let out and satisfied hiss and dove for it. The larger Meerca quickly apologized, paid for the wasted ice cream, and ran after her sister.
Breathing in a deep breath, Zur snatched the arm back up before it crawled away again and trotted over to the zombie. He barely seemed to notice the Mutant in his presence. His deteriorated mind was only focused on getting the cranium-based ice cream into his mouth. Zur cleared his throat and placed the arm next to the cone. “Here you go, buddy. I think this belongs to ya,” he bleated and took a step back.
Of course, this got the zombie’s attention. “Uuuuuugghhrrrrr…” he groaned, looking at the arm with his blank, lopsided eyes. “Mmmyyyyyy…” With a thankful glance and a slight nod towards Zur, he grabbed the arm in his sticky fingers and put it back into the empty socket on his shoulder, as if he had done it a million times before. “Mmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy…”
Zur didn’t expect much of a thank you, especially from a barely functioning zombie, so he was a little shocked to get a speechless acknowledgment from him. He hopped up to the shopkeeper and got on his hind legs to see. “Sorry about that, sir,” he said, placing his front hooves on the cart to stay upright.
The shopkeeper, however, seemed very pleased as he counted the Speckled Meerca’s money. “Sorry? Whatever for? You saved me some valuable Neopoints, boy!” He reached his flipper out and shoot Zur’s hoof with enough force to make him almost topple over.
“What’s your name?”
Zur swallowed nervously. “Zurnorl. My family calls me Zur.”
“Well, Zur, thanks for saving my behind. I owe you one.”
Zur smiled his signature, goofy smile. “Of course! Anytime!” He glanced back at the zombie, who had continued eating the ice cream. “You… You wouldn’t happen to know him, would you?”
The Bruce shopkeeper tapped the cart, again. “He comes around here often, but I don’t know much about him. He just kind of showed up, one day. Based on his attire, I assume he was a Neovian.” He raised an eyebrow and trailed his tongue over his fangs. “He’s a pitiful little thing, though. He’s usually wandering around like he’s lost or looking for somewhere to go, thus causing him to wonder into stores a lot and frequently get thrown out.” He looked down at the Zombie Aisha, who had resorted to licking the ground where the ice cream was. He was honestly eating more dirt than ice cream, at that point. “And I know that zombies aren’t really supposed to be smart, but he’s definitely not the brightest bulb in the bag.”
Due to the Gnorbu’s oversized heart, he, once again, could not stop himself from feeling bad for the Aisha. “Looking for somewhere to go, huh?” he mumbled to himself and allowed his hairless ears to shift to the left.
Then he got an idea.
Zur reached into the satchel around his neck and slapped a handful of Neopoints on the cart. “Could I have one of those Brain Ice Creams?” he asked all of a sudden, taking the shopkeeper completely off guard. His facial expression morphed into one of a bit of confusion, but with a nod, he obliged. “Sure, kid,” he said rather exuberantly and grabbed one from on top of the counter. He then handed it to the Gnorbu.
As Zur had hoped, the zombie next to him turned away from the remnants of his own Brain Ice Cream and looked at the new one in his grasp. “Bbbbbrrrrrr… uuuuuhhhhhnnngg…” he moaned and got to his feet. His blank eyes stayed fixed on the Haunted Woods delicacy like a Petpet being offered a treat. “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnttt… Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnttt!”
The shopkeeper immediately recognized the plan that was going on in Zur’s head. “Surely you aren’t planning on taking him home,” he said in shock. Zur smiled crookedly. “Maybe he needs a family! We can keep him and take care of him!” Zur hopped excitedly, taking a step back as the slobbering zombie took a step forward. “This creature is a zombie, not a Petpet. They are not playthings or toys. They are the decomposing remains of Neopians that will eat your brains without thinking twice.” Zur skipped back, again. “I know, sir. I just want him to have a place to go. He’ll have a home and a family and it’ll be AWESOME!” Zur whipped around and bounced towards the Fairground’s exit. “Ggggraahhhhhhhhll!” the zombie groaned and chased him as fast as a limping zombie can possibly chase anybody.
The Bruce stood up straighter and called to Zur. “Kid, wait! Zombies belong in the wild! Not in a… oh, never mind.” He propped his head on his flipper and leaned against his cart. “Part of me wants to see how this plays out.”
After following the paths to where he and Bejimin had agreed to meet, this time running more with excitement over his new undead friend than fear that he was going to join them, he saw his adoptive sister right where she said she would be. She had her nose stuck in the food that she had just bought, so she didn’t even notice Zur bounding towards her until she heard his voice.
“Bejimin! Look! I made a friend!”
“Oh, that’s great Zur. Who is… ZUR!”
As soon as Zur got close enough, Bejimin snatched him up and ran to a nearby tree, which she threw Zur onto the branch of and climbed up at lightning speed. The zombie followed them instantly and tried to climb up with no success.
“ZUR, ARE YOU CRAZY!? THEY EAT NEOPETS LIKE US!” she hugged him tightly, barely giving him enough room to even breathe. Zur managed to push himself away from the Kacheek so that he could take a breath.
He let out a cough or two. “He’s not going to eat us. He just wants my ice cream.” He held the Brain Ice Cream up in front of her black nose. “He needs somewhere to go… so I thought… maybe… he could stay with us?” He put on the cutest face that he could pull off. “I’ll feed him and take care of him! Maybe we can teach him how to act normal! Don’t you know how COOL it would be to have a zombie housemate?”
Bejimin stared at him as though he were practically insane. A zombie in the house? What would Canna say? What would Ex say?
“Zur… that’s… that’s…”
Her purple face lit up.
“…that’s the greatest idea that you’ve ever had!”
Zur squealed with absolute excitement like a Usul in Usuki Land. Bejimin joined in, not long after he had started. “Zombie housemate!” they both chanted in unison and looked down at the zombie, who was still clawing at the tree and drooling over Zur’s ice cream.
“So… how do we get it home?” Bejimin asked. Zur allowed a mischeivious smirk to come to his lips. He held his ice cream a bit higher. “The same way that I got him, all the way over here!” He slid down the back of the tree and hopped onto the ground, causing the zombie to turn away from the tree and give Bejimin a chance to climb down and head to Zur’s side.
“Come on, buddy. We have to get to the Lost Desert!” Zur skipped along at rapid speed, barely giving Bejimin or the zombie a chance to keep up.
To be continued…