Never Slow Dance with a Zombie
Author:E. Van Lowe


The antidote worked.

Baron and Milton brought it over later that night. We gave it to Sybil, and I held my breath. Within a few hours she was back to her old self. When she was normal again I threw my arms around her, breathing for what seemed to be the first time in an eternity.

I hugged her for a full minute.

"Margot, stop!" she whined, squirming in my grasp. Her face turned a bright redas she eyed Baron and Milton. "You're embarrassing me." I didn't care. "Tough," I said, and continued to hug. I knew even after I released her, ours was a friendship I would never let go of.

Over the next several days Baron and Milton administered the antidote to everyone who had become a zombie, and changed them all back--even Amanda Culpepper.

The students and adults who had become zombies didn't remember much. It was as if they'd been asleep for an entire

semester. And by the time winter break was over, things in our town had gotten back to normal.

I hadn't seen Mrs. Mars since they changed her back, but I was looking forward to my semester in her class. No more bleachers and excuse notes for me.

To Sybil's dismay, the popular kids went back to being popular, the slugs went back to being slugs, and everyone migrated back into their tight-knit groups, just like before.

Baron and Milton never got to be the Big Dogs they'd dreamed of becoming. But Baron did get something for all his troubles--a girlfriend. Me.

For my part, I finally realized the cool kids weren't the ones with the best wardrobes, or the best figures, or even glacier-blue eyes. They were the kids with the best attitudes.

Principal Taft never came back to school. He vanished, as if into thin air. When the spring semester began, a new principal, Mr. Fargas, took over.

The Saturday before spring semester was to begin, I invited Sybil to my house. When she arrived, I pulled out my manifesto.

"Oh, my goodness,' she said, snatching the page from my hand and ripping it in half.

"What are you doing?"

'Isn't that why you pulled it out? This manifesto has caused us nothing but trouble. We need to get rid of it." She placed the two halves together and prepared to rip them again.

"Stop!" I called. "I like having the manifesto." I snatched it back and began looking for some tape to patch it back together.

" But last semester was a fiasco."

"I know, but the problem wasn't the manifesto, Sybil. The problem was me. I still want to be popular, I still want to go to

parties, and I still want a boyfriend... well, actually I have a boyfriend. So the semester wasn't a total failure." I smiled. "But more importantly, I never again want to sacrifice my relationship with my friends to get the things I want." I taped the manifesto back together. "I'm keeping this as a reminder."

I moved to my dresser, where I picked up a tiny, brightly wrapped package and handed it to her.

"What's that for?"

"For you."

"What's the occasion? It's not my birthday. Do you know something that I don't know? Am I getting expelled?"

"Sybil!" I smiled. "Do I need a special occasion to give a present to my very best friend?"

An odd expression crossed her face as she looked at me for a moment. "Absolutely not," she replied. She took the package, ripped into it, and pulled out the charm bracelet I had picked out especially for her. There was a single charm hanging from a link on the bracelet. A tree.

A warm smile crossed her lips. "It's beautiful." For a moment I thought she was going to cry.

"It's in honor of when I met my best friend," I said.

"I know." Her voice was cracking as she put on the bracelet. "Thank you," she said, admiring it on her wrist.

Just then: "Hey, Margot, what are you guys doing in there? Mom says you have to take me to the mall for new sneaks. Pronto!" called Theo.

"All right!" I said with an exasperated sigh.

I recalled the evening when I'd first started dating zombie Dirk. Theo had come to my bedroom door to annoy me, and I'd flirted with the idea of yanking the door open, tying a leg of lamb around his scrawny neck, and letting Dirk have at him.

Gosh, I wish I had.