Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Scott Craven
The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he's always wanted--a dog--and again, his parents tell him they're not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake--a tire tread down his back. Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet.
When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people. Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can't expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group.
Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he'll need even more duct tape and staples than usual
From the Book
There was a patch of gray. And white. It moved ever so slightly.
Then peeked its head out.
A dog. Medium sized, maybe forty pounds. We were about one hundred and fifty feet away so I couldn’t really tell anything else.
The selfish Jed kicked in right away.
“Mom and Dad said I couldn’t get a dog,” I said. “But they didn’t say anything about a dog following me home.”
I took a few steps, but Luke remained rooted where he was. “Not a good idea, Jed,” he said. “It’s not about getting a dog. It’s about having a dog.”
I couldn’t believe what my best friend was saying. “I thought you were behind me on this?”
“I am. Of course. But that dog could belong to someone. Even if it doesn’t, it deserves a home where everyone wants it and will take care of it. Right now, only thirty-three percent of the Rivers’ household wants a dog.”
“Nice math skills.”
“But it still doesn’t change my mind.”
I took off toward the dog. Maybe I could carry it, sneak it into our yard, and leave the gate open just a crack. I’d go in the front door, make small talk with Mom and Dad, and walk by the patio door. Wait, what’s this? A dog in the back yard? I must investigate. Why, he must have snuck through the side gate, see how it’s open? He seems to be so friendly. Mom and Dad, you must come out here and fall in love at first sight. Keep him? Really? Of course.
All I had to do was catch him.
As I got closer, his features became a bit clearer. Forty pounds at most. Medium-haired, cream-colored coat but with puffs of gray, like a leafy shadow. Gray coat but with a puff of white at his neck and a wide black streak down his back. Pointy ears, one up, the other bent in half. Longish tail curled upward slightly, but not wagging. I was fifteen feet from him when he lowered his head. He took a step back. Another.
I took a step forward. Another.
A few more details came through. His short, roundish muzzle featured a gray streak of fur that cruised right between his eyes before making a slow left turn, giving him an eyebrow. The hair along his sides was thick and matted, stitched together with leaves and twigs. And the smell—let’s just say if there was a Febreze for dogs, I’d need ten cans of Lilac Meadow just to keep the comic-book stink lines down to a minimum.
“Good boy, everything’s okay, I just want to say hi.” I assumed he was a boy, but at this point it was a mystery.
He didn’t have a collar. So much for Luke’s theory that he (she?) belonged to someone.
He backed up again, his tail against the brick wall. There was about a six-inch gap between the bushes, just enough so that if I moved quickly enough, I could snatch his front legs and scoop him up.
I leaned and put my hand out, palm down, just like the K9 officer showed us in third grade. “Want to sniff, check me out? Here, no harm meant.”
“Dude, you need to back off, you are scaring him to death.”
Where did Luke come from? I turned my head briefly, noticed Luke about ten feet behind me, and went back to the dog, which hadn’t moved.
“I could use some help then,” I said. “See how he’s facing left? Go that way. I’ll go straight in. If we flush him, he’ll head right to you.”
“Maybe we should call someone.”
“Really? He has no collar. He’ll goes to the pound, you know what’s going to happen then.”
I knew Luke was thinking about it. He liked dogs almost as much as I did. He’d do the right thing.
“I’ll help, but only because he’s not safe running around here.”
I pointed left, and Luke took his position. The dog didn’t move. This was going to be easy. And I noticed just how cute he was. Not a puppy, but not very old. Thin, but not starving.
“On three, I’mve going to go in after him,” I said. “If he runs, he’ll be coming right at you. Set?”
“One. Two. Three.”
I ducked and went in fast, shooting my arms out, and expecting to hit muscle and fur.
But he was gone. All I saw was a flash of gray. He’d run right past me. Luke never even had a shot.
I backed out of the bushes and whipped around. There, dashing over a berm toward the bathrooms.
Luke already was running after him. I was on his tail. Sort of. Luke was way faster than I was, and if I ran too hard, my hips would get loose and dislocate. Good for dodging a tackle in football, not so much when sprinting after a stray.
Just as I was about to crest the berm, I heard a horn, following by a high-pitched yelp. In between there was something.
A sound I heard every time Robbie slammed me into a metal trash can. A sound that sickened my heart.
The scene I was expecting, and hoping against, came into view. Luke, kneeling by a gray lump in the street.
“No no no no,” I tried to scream, but could not take the breath necessary to do it.