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What can I say? I was in a dark and silly mood. And seriously, who doesn’t like a story with evil stone heads and pet zombies?


So when I finally made up my mind to steal a head from across the street, I had to do it fast because Jugg’s dad is crazy. Not crazy ha-ha. Crazy, come-meet-my-family-of-stone-heads-and-have-tea-with-us, crazy. If he caught me stealing the heads out of his yard, he’d explode. Worse, he’d tell my mom I did it. My mom’s not super crazy, but she and I aren’t really into the same things any more. She likes long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners and grave robbing. Seriously, I’ve hated the beach for years.

Jugg’s pretty much my best friend now, even though he’s a boy and I’m a girl. His house is right across from mine, so I walked over and went into his side yard, figuring I wouldn’t get caught taking a head from under the tree.

The head was dark gray, almost black. It had no ears, but a really long nose and its eyes were big as baseballs. It stared straight up at me, mouth half open, like maybe it had just figured out it couldn’t breathe.

“You’ll get in trouble, Boady,” Jugg strolled up next to me.

Jugg was right. I was pretty sure his dad wouldn’t like me messing with them. Just like I was pretty sure my mom would go headcase if she ever saw what I kept under my bed in my room. Kids my age weren’t suppose to know how to raise the dead.

Still, I had made up my mind. I wanted a head. I needed a head. And I was going to get a head.

I pushed the rock to one side so I could get my fingers under it and I heard a pop — kind of like the sound of a dandelion root breaking. The head finally rolled forward and hit another rock head that was about the size of a bowling ball with a scream on its face. The head-on-head thunk was the same deep sound I remember hearing inside my ears when my arm broke last summer.

I got a good grip on the loose head and lifted, straightening my knees at the same time. My back hurt, and something in my chest twanged pain down my stomach, but I had that rock off the ground. Oh yeah. The rock was so mine.

All I had to do was hang onto it across the street, then up the stairs to my front door, and inside the house, and down the hallway to my room. A little itch of sweat tickled my lip and I glanced at my house across the street. It suddenly looked a whole lot farther away. Maybe messing with the heads wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe putting the rock down would be the smart move. After all, I didn’t want to make Jugg’s dad mad.

“Wow,” Jugg said. “Is it heavy?”

“No,” I huffed.

“Yes it is. Your face is getting red.”

“Shut up, Jugg.”

“You’re gonna drop it.”

“Shut up, Jugg.”

“I never thought you could do it, Boads. You’re pretty strong for a girl.”

I thought about saying “shut up Jugg” again, but needed that breath to start walking. The rock was so heavy my arms hung down to my knees. My thighs bumped into my hands with each step and I kind of wanted to rest the rock on my thighs, because it seemed like it would be easier to carry that way, and maybe I wouldn’t drop it and break my foot. I decided to rest the head on my right thigh, and then take one regular step and one nutso-groaning step to push the rock forward.

While I grunted, Jugg sauntered along beside me, chewing a wad of Pixie Stick paper.

“Man are you gonna get in trouble.”

Shut. Up. Jugg, I thought.

“Where are you gonna keep it?”

Shut. Up. Jugg.

“What if your mom finds out?”

Shut. Up. Jugg.

“Doesn’t that hurt? Your fingers are all white. Man, you sweat like a hog. Bet you can’t make it up those stairs.”

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!

“Want me to open the door?”

“Yes, you idiot,” I said all out of breath. “Hurry!”

Jugg looked mad at me calling him an idiot and purposely took forever opening the door. All I could do was stand there sort of bent in half, the rock resting on my thigh, and both my legs shaking so hard, they were pounding in opposite beat to my heart. One little drop of sweat slid down my bangs, slithered into the curve of my eyelid, then down my nose and blipped onto the rock. The rock soaked up the sweat, and I swear this is what happened: its eyes moved.

“Jugg,” I panted, kind of worried now.

The rock rolled its eyes. It didn’t have any eyelids, a fact I think both it and I were pretty disturbed to discover.

“Yeah, I know. Shut up.” He walked into my house. “Man, I love the smell of your house.”

“Uh, Jugg?”

Maybe the rock heard me even without ears. Maybe it noticed it was not attached to a body, or I dunno, maybe it didn’t like where my hands were on its butt. Whatever. It now stared straight at me, and even with no eyelids, I could tell it was angry. Crazy angry.

Another drip of my sweat plopped onto the rock’s lips. It moved its mouth, chewed, and smacked, real quietly. Then it smiled a freakishly huge smile.

I wanted to drop it right there, but was pretty sure my mom would notice a head in the hallway. The rock kept smiling, its eyes crazy-angry. It stared at my face, watching the slow dribble of sweat itching down my nose. Maybe it wasn’t crazy-angry. Maybe it was crazy-hungry.

So how was I supposed to know rocks liked sweat? I wiped my face on the shoulder of my t-shirt, trying to soak up the sweat. When I looked at the rock again, its mouth was back in scream mode. Oh, yeah, it was angry.

“What is the smell anyway,” Jugg called back, “cinnamon?”

Jugg the wonder-brain was no help. My hands were starting to sweat and I didn’t want to know what would happen when the butt end of the stone soaked that up.

“It’s cedar,” I said to Jugg. I took a step forward and thumped my way through our living room that was hard wood floor, wood walls and wood ceiling. Then I grunted down the hallway, also made of wood, wood, wood. My fingers were slipping, so I thunked faster, leaning my shoulder and hip along one wall for better leverage. I wanted to look at the rock’s eyes, but didn’t want to tip my sweaty head down. If a couple drops had made it wake up, I didn’t want to find out what more would do.

Jugg strolled along in front of me and did nothing to help.

There were three doors in the hall. The one on the left went to the bathroom. The one on the right was Mom’s workroom and the one on the end, yeah, the farthest one away, was my room. Jugg just stood there, his hand on the doorknob to my room.

“Please,” I said. The rock was sort of squirming now, but I didn’t dare look down and drip on it more. Maybe it had teeth. Maybe it even had fangs. What kind of a weirdo did Jugg’s dad have to be to carve something with fangs?

Jugg swung the door inward and stepped into my bedroom. I crossed the threshold behind him and groaned. My bed was against the far wall of my room. Even here, I had to walk the farthest to put this stupid rock down.

I hobbled over to the bed and dropped the head in the middle of my unmade covers.

The rock slipped down faster than I thought it would, and I kind of tried to grab it because I didn’t want it to bounce off the bed and hit the floor and break, but my grab didn’t do much good except put my palm in the perfect place for a rough spot on the rock — like maybe where teeth or fangs would be — to slash it open.

“Ow, ow, ow!” I screamed.

“What, what, what?” Jugg yelled.

The rock hit my mattress and didn’t even bounce, it was so heavy. I pulled my hand into my chest so I didn’t have to see how bad it was bleeding, because I hated blood, because that would really be a problem and I would really get in trouble and man, I wished I’d asked Mom for more of the really big bandages when she went to the store last and it was a good thing I was wearing a cotton shirt and if I didn’t get something to wrap this cut up really quick I was going to pass out.

“Here.” Jugg pulled my hand away from my chest and wrapped one of my clean soccer socks around my palm. I hadn’t even noticed he had gone to get it. I hissed when he tugged it tight and tied it in a knot on the back of my hand. He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a friendly pat.

“Wow, Boads. You are so screwed.”

“Yeah,” I said. See, Jugg knew what my mom’s crazy was. Her crazy was all about blood.

I glanced out the window. “Not going to be dark for at least an hour. Maybe I can be somewhere else. Your house, maybe?” I asked.

Jugg shook his head. “She’d find you, and then my dad would get all mad at me having you over when she’s crazy. You could go to Nolly’s. She’s a mile away, that might be far enough.”

“Her mom wouldn’t let me in. She’s crazy about dirt, and I’m really filthy, and leaking, you know.”

Jugg sat down on the edge of my bed. “Yeah. Well, that sucks. But man, I can’t believe you stole the rock!”

I sat down next to him. “Jugg, you watched me do it. That counts as permission. Even if your dad gets mad, I’m not the only one who’s screwed.”

Jugg nodded. “I guess.” Then he grinned really big. “So what are you going to do with it?”

I looked at the rock. It was face down in my covers so that only the bald back of the skull was visible. The memory of its eyes moving brought a chill up my arms and legs. Face down like that, maybe it would suffocate. Or maybe it would eat its way through my mattress. I shuddered, feeling really cold now.

“I don’t know.” I rubbed my good hand down my blue jeans trying to smooth out the goosebumps on my legs. “I just wanted to have one, you know? Maybe I’ll put it under my bed until I decide.”

“Forget that,” Jugg said, suddenly all full of energy. “Let’s bury it. Wouldn’t that be cool? Dad would never find it!”

“I’m not carrying it out to my yard. I just got it here.” I was getting pretty tired. The sock on my hand was warm and really squishy. I just wanted lie down and rest but the stupid rock was in my stupid way and there was no way I was getting into bed with it.

“Hey, Boads, you okay?”

I blinked hard and realized I’d had my eyes closed and was falling asleep sitting up. Maybe I was bleeding pretty bad.

“I want to hide the rock before Mom gets up,” I said. “Help me push this thing under my bed.”

“Sure, yeah, I guess,” Jugg said. “I still think it would be cooler to bury it.”

“Yeah. Maybe tomorrow.” Or maybe I’d get a hammer and break it into gravel. I wondered if that would hurt it. Wondered, for one weird minute if maybe it really was one of Jugg’s relatives or something.

“Jugg,” I asked, “when your dad says the heads are family, he’s just kidding right?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, he’s not really somehow getting real heads and making them somehow, into rock heads, is he?” It sounded stupid once I said it, but Jugg didn’t laugh at me. He didn’t even smile.

“He’s, you know, crazy, Boady. Just crazy.” And his voice had that flat tired sound to it. Our parents were weird. Super weird. And there wasn’t a lot we could do about it.

“Sure,” I said. “I know. Help me move this.”

With Jugg doing most of the work, and me keeping my bleeding hand completely out of the way, we got the rock off my bed and on my floor without being too loud. Jugg and I crouched down next to it. The head was just a head again, the eyes blank, and not moving. Instead of a scream, it was smiling. I didn’t see any teeth, but a red bloodstain smeared the corner of its lips. My blood.

Stupid rock.

I pushed the side of my blankets up on top of my mattress so we could see under the bed.

That was when I remembered the secret I kept under my bed. A secret I hadn’t told Jugg about because I’d figured he’d rat me out. A secret that wasn’t a secret any more. My very own raised dead.

“Holy crap!” Jugg yelled. “Dickie’s under there!” Jugg shook his head. “Too cool! Didn’t you bury him last week?”

I shrugged one shoulder. “I got lonely.”

“But Boads — he’s dead, dude.”

Here I smiled and the old excitement came out and some of my tired went away.

“He used to be dead.”

Jugg’s eyes got huge. He stopped chewing the Pixie Stick paper and swallowed it.


“Oh yeah,” I said. “Watch.” I tucked my legs in criss-cross style and tapped my good hand on my knee. “Come here, Dickie. Come on. Come on. That’s a good boy. Who’s a good boy? Dickie’s a good boy.”

The sound of tail thumping started up. Then a shadow under the bed inched toward us, toward light, and Jugg and I scooted back so Dickie had room to get out. He belly crawled and used his front legs to push up so he was sitting, more or less on his back legs that didn’t work too good anymore. Other than the busted legs and the kind of weird glowing green goo where his eyes should be, he looked almost like he had in life. Even dead, he was the best dog ever.

But Jugg said, “Isn’t he kind of flat in the middle?”

“Duh! He was run over by a car.” I scratched behind Dickie’s ear with my good hand. “He’s a good dead dog, yes he is.”

“Does your mom know?”

“No, Jugg. And I want to keep it that way. Help me roll the head under here and then we’ll push Dickie back under with it.”

Dickie’s tail tapped the floor like a slow, hollow heartbeat. He didn’t pant like he used to, which made sense, since he didn’t need to breathe anymore, but still, there was a look to him tonight that was a little creepy. He kept staring at me and staring at me and wouldn’t stop.

“Here, we need to put a t-shirt under the rock before we push it so it doesn’t scratch the floor — Mom would notice that,” I said.

Jugg got up and pulled a t-shirt off my chair, then we put the shirt under as much of the rock as we could. Jugg gave the rock a push, and so did I, with my good hand. I was so busy thinking about the rock, and Mom waking up, that I wasn’t paying much attention to my bloody hand. Until I felt something tug on it. I looked over and Dickie had his jaws sunk into the sock around my hand.

“Hey! Dickie — let go!” I said.

I reached over with my other hand, but Dickie pushed himself to the side, taking my hand along with him so I was kind of stretched out.

“Bad Dickie,” I said. “Let go, let go.” I slid a little across the floor in my blue jeans.

Dickie shook his head. It made my hand sting so hard I felt tears in the corners of my eyes.

“Crap, Dickie, that hurt! Let go.”

Jugg jumped up and stood behind me. “Should I, you know, kill him again or something Boady?”

“No!” Okay, maybe that was a weird thing to say, but Dickie was the last gift my dad had ever given me. Dickie was my dog and the first undead I’d ever raised. I felt a weird love for him. “Just try to distract him.”

“With what?”

That was a good question. Dickie had only been undead for a few days, and since he didn’t seem interested in eating or drinking, or really doing much more than lying like an undead rug under my bed, I wasn’t sure what he’d be interested in. Dickie shook his head again and tugged — his sharp teeth tearing all the way through the sock.

I snatched my hand back and the sock came off. I thought Dickie would go for the sock, but he didn’t. Instead, he lunged at me — pretty good for a dog with only two legs.

Dickie got a hold of my hand and bit down hard. I screamed.

And then my hand didn’t hurt any more. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t tired any more, wasn’t sore any more, wasn’t worried any more. Yeah, really everything suddenly seemed super, super good. I sort of slipped back, laid on the floor and liked it.

I think Jugg screamed. I think he said something. But I just stayed were I was, feeling floaty and fine.

Until I saw my mother’s face.

She leaned over me, strands of dark hair like a funeral veil around her pale, pale face. Her eyes looked worried and maybe angry, but not crazy. I was surprised about that because I figured all the blood I was leaking would really make her crazier.

“Boady, what have you done?” she asked in her sad-mother voice.

I worked on thinking about what I could have done to make her sad. “Uh, Jugg saw me take his dad’s rock. He didn’t say I couldn’t.”

“Not the rock, Boady. The dog.”

Oh yeah. Dickie. Man, I should be seriously panicking about my mom finding out about that, but I was still feeling freakaliously fine.

“Well, I missed him and I wanted him back. So I used one of your books to, you know, do the undead thing, like how you get your boyfriends.”

Her eyebrow arched and there was a glimmer of angry-mom in her eyes. “They are not my boyfriends. Not all of them,” she said. “Did you read the entire book? Did you read the consequences of raising the dead?”

I blew my breath out between my lips in a big, frustrated sound. “No. I only had about an hour to read the good stuff. I had to put the book back because you woke up.” Okay, this is where my brain finally hit the danger button. I had just told my mom my secret. I was so screwed.

Instead of grounding me, or telling me what chore I’d be doing for the next six months, Mom tipped her head up so all I saw was her neck and chin. I knew her eyes were closed. I knew she was trying hard not to cry. I’d seen her just like that a lot of times. Every time, actually, after she “broke up” with her boyfriends and sent them back to the grave. But most of all, that first time she really went crazy when Dad died.

“Mom?” I said. I got my elbows under me and pushed up so I was kind of lying and kind of sitting. Jugg was gone, and the room was pretty dark. I had no idea how long I’d been on the floor, but my back was stiff and the room smelled of mint and lemon — things my mom always uses to clean up blood.

The rock head was right where Jugg and I had left it, its face turned upward, the long nose pointing to the ceiling, the eyes, I hoped, unmoving. A puddle of blood ringed the base of the rock. My blood. I had no idea what to do about that.

“Can I keep Dickie?” I asked Mom.

I heard the slow thump of his tail on the hard wood floor and Mom and I both looked over at him. He was sitting on his bad legs, and he looked different. I couldn’t quite figure it out, then I knew what it was — Dickie was breathing. Even his eyes looked more like eyes.

“Look! He’s better!” I sat up the rest of the way and put my hands together in front of me. My cut hand didn’t hurt so bad, and it was already scabbing. “Please, Mom, please can I keep him?”

Mom nodded slowly. “You have to keep him.”

My heart soared and I felt like cheering. Then the “have to” part sunk in.


“Because once an undead drinks your blood they are tied to you.” Mom put her cool soft fingers on the back of my hurt hand. “That is why we are always careful about blood in the house. Boady, Dickie is your keeper now too.”

Okay, so I wasn’t seeing a down side. I think Mom noticed that.

“Dickie is a part of you. He can make you do things if he wants to, things you might not want to do.” She looked over at Dickie who was still wagging his tail and staring at us.

“That’s okay, Mom. He’s a good dog. I love him, you know. He’s family. Even dead.”

Mom nodded. “I understand.” And I figured she really did. Then she put her arms around me and gave me a hug. I let her, because even though I wasn’t worried about Dickie, I was a little worried she would remember I had snuck into her room and gotten into her stuff. Plus, the rock was making slurping sounds over there in my blood, and I didn’t think that was a good thing.

“Come help me make dinner.” Mom stood up and walked over to my door. “After that, you can take Giorgio back where he belongs.”


“The head.”

“Oh.” Great. It had a name. Maybe I could trick Jugg into carrying it this time. Or maybe I’d find a wheelbarrow to put it in. I sure didn’t want to touch Giorgio barehanded again. He bit.

Still, what mattered was I wasn’t really in trouble. Even though I didn’t get to keep the head, I got to keep my dead dog. Things had worked out okay.

I stood up and walked over to Dickie, then bent down and scratched behind his ears.

“Who’s a good doggy?” I said.

Suddenly, I knew I should scratch a little more to the left and maybe a little harder, and then a little bit to the right, and then stroke under his chin. So I did, even though I was hungry, and even though my back started hurting, and even though I didn’t want to do it any more.

“Bad dog,” I said.

Dickie just thumped his tail and licked my cheek with his swollen, purple tongue.

Okay. Maybe this was a good thing for him, but so far it wasn’t so great for me. Back when he was alive and misbehaving, I would send him to his doghouse and shut the door. I wondered if I could make him go to his house now.

“Go to your house,” I said.

Dickie whimpered and I could feel how awful it was to be locked up in that dark little house. I knew how alone and sad it made him feel.

Wow. I always thought I’d been a really good friend to Dickie. But maybe I hadn’t understood what it was like for him to be my pet.

“I’m sorry, boy. I’ll try to be better this time, okay? No house.”

He wagged his tail some more and stood. His bad legs looked a lot better, even though he was still a little flat in the middle.

I patted his head one more time — because I wanted to, not because he wanted me to — and straightened up.

“So, what do you want for dinner? Oh, wait. Do you need to eat anymore?”

Dickie tipped his head to the side and his ears perked up. He yapped. Bones. I knew he didn’t need food, but he wanted to chew on a bone.


I found the box of raw hide chews in my closet and took Dickie out into the front yard to a patch of grass still warm from the setting sun. I gave him a raw hide and sat with him for a little while watching the daylight slowly fade into evening.

“Boady,” Mom called through the kitchen window. “Dinner.”

Great. I’d forgotten to help her make dinner. That meant I’d have to do the dishes by myself.

“Be right there,” I yelled over my shoulder. I patted Dickie’s head one last time. “Gotta go, Boy. You gonna be okay here?”

Dickie wasn’t chewing on the bone any more — wasn’t even moving any more. His ears stood straight up and his tail was stiff. He looked like an undead statue, staring across the street at Jugg’s yard. Then I saw his nose wiggle a tiny bit, like maybe he smelled something.

“What?” I said. “What’s wrong?” I looked at the street then over at Jugg’s yard full of heads. I had the weirdest idea that maybe one of the heads was going to do something, like pull itself out of the ground and roll across the street to take back what’s-his-name I’d left on my bedroom floor.

“What boy? The heads? Is it the heads?” Man, I hoped it wasn’t the heads.

Dickie’s ears flicked back, then up again. That’s when I heard it — the thrum of a car engine veering off the main road and heading our way. Our neighborhood was pretty quiet so it was easy to know when a car was coming.

And Dickie totally knew it. He shoved up onto his feet and torpedoed across the yard.

“Dickie — no!”

But he didn’t listen. He took off like an undead bullet, even his bad legs keeping up with the rest of him.

He reached the end of our yard at the exact time the car drove in front of our house. My stomach clenched with sick horror. Dickie had always wanted to chase cars when he was alive and I wouldn’t let him. Then the one time he’d gotten out and chased a car, it had killed him.

“No, Dickie. Stay!” I yelled.

But he did not stay. He went faster, legs pumping hard, body low to the ground, ears back, tail straight out.

If he got crushed to death again I didn’t think my mom would let me re-raise him no matter how much I begged. Stupid dog, chasing stupid cars. “Stop!” I ran after him, even though there was no way I’d catch up before he was deader than undead.

He lunged for the front tire. Missed.

Hope fluttered in my chest. Maybe he was too slow. Maybe the car would zoom past and he’d be smart enough to let it go.

Dickie wasn’t that smart.

He ran under the car, jaws snapping at the opposite back tire — the back tire that ran right over the top of him. I heard the ka-thump and squeak of the shocks. The car kept right on going like nothing had happened. Like it hadn’t just re-killed my best friend.

“Dickie!” I ran into the street.

Dickie was nothing but a flattened lump in the middle of the road. And even though I wanted to cry, I noticed he was not bleeding. Then I noticed he was still breathing.

“Dickie?” He wagged his tail and slowly peeled himself off the pavement. His legs were working pretty good, and so was the rest of him, I guess. Maybe he was a little flatter in the middle but it didn’t seem to bother him. He shook his head and sneezed. Then he wagged his tail harder and barked at the retreating car.

He was fine. More than that, he was happy and excited, like he’d just gotten off a roller coaster ride.

“You’re crazy. Do you think you’re indestructible?” I rubbed the sides of his face and didn’t feel anything more broken than usual. Maybe he was indestructible. Maybe I’d done a really good job when I brought him back to life.

“Promise me no more cars today, okay boy? I know you like it but it freaks me out.”

He barked and licked my hand, still excited about chasing the car. And I knew we had an agreement — no more cars today. But tomorrow was a whole new story.

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