Chloe Makes a Confession: A Deleted Scene
By Rusty Fischer, author of Zombies Don’t Cry
I always have fun when I’m asked to write a deleted scene. This one is about one of my favorite characters, not just in Zombies Don’t Cry but in any of my books, Chloe:
Dane is outside, fumbling with the trunk. Again.
“What’s he doing out there?” I’m already nervous on top of nervous, and watching Dane make his frowny face at the way the trunk is packed, and then bending in to repack it once more, is only making me even more nervous.
Chloe gives me that “seen it all” eye roll. “You should see him pack his lunch. It’s a good thing we don’t need to sleep, or he’d have to set his alarm three hours before homeroom.”
I pace in front of the door, stiff in my prom dress, awkward in my heels. Chloe stands still in the middle of the room, something she almost never does. She also remains quiet, another first. No yelling at me to stop pacing. No snarking on my dress. No reminding me, for the five gabillionth time, “You know, we might re-die tonight.”
I turn from the door – Dane is taking a sixth stab at re-packing the trunk – and find her eyeing me curiously.
“What?” I immediately ask, because she looks all worried. “Is my hair already melting? I knew it would melt. You put too much spray on.”
“Your hair’s not melting,” she says, calmly. “I, listen… you promise not to make fun of me?”
Her dark eyes look sad, almost frightened. What is this, Opposite Day or something? “Why? Waddya mean? What’s wrong?”
She shrugs her broad shoulders. “Nothing. I mean, nothing’s wrong with the mission, it’s just… I’ve never been to one of these before.”
“What, a zombie apocalypse?”
“No, a… a dance. Where, you know… people do dance-y things.”
I inch closer. “Chloe, you’ve been going to school for decades. How have you avoided a Fall Formal before?”
She steps back, waves her hands up and down her short, stocky body, grinds her yellowish teeth and says, “I’m not exactly prom queen material, all right?”
I shake my head and murmur. “Don’t say that.”
“Don’t put yourself down like that. Words have meaning.”
She cocks her head. “Yeah, that’s why we use them to, you know, convey meaning.”
I shake my head and blurt, “No, it’s something my Dad says. Words are more powerful than you know. You have to stop cutting yourself down like that.”
She snorts. “Or what? I’ll have a stroke from too much stress? Worry myself into an early grave? I should be so lucky.”
“No, but… don’t you want to be happy while you’re here?”
She looks past me and I turn. Dane is still – still! – fiddling with the trunk. He looks so handsome in his tux, it’s hard to look away. She clears her throat.
“I think… I think if you’d teach me to dance, I might be happier tonight. I mean, that is, until the Zerkers come and ruin everything.” Her eyes get a little faraway look. “But, you know, it might be nice to dance once before they tear us to bits.”
“Who could tear you to bits?” I grumble, standing in front of her. “Okay, take my hand.”
“You want to learn?”
She nods, a tentative smile on her face. Then she grabs my hand in an iron grip and I wince. “Too hard!” I shout, gripping back as I remember, Hey, I’m a zombie, too. “Too. Hard.”
“Okay, okay,” she says, letting up. A little.
I say, “Let me lead. Can you do that? Let me lead?”
“Gonna be hard.”
I keep stepping on her foot. “You’re not letting me lead.”
“It would help if we had music.”
“There’s no time,” I say, humming instead.
Surprisingly, it helps. She starts to sense where my feet are going, and anticipates with enough time for me not to step on her Army boots anymore.
“What is that?” she asks, looking up at me.
“That song you’re humming. It sounds… familiar.”
She crinkles her nose. “The 80s song? By Rick Springfield?”
I shrug and nod at the same time. “It was playing on Dad’s retro station when he taught me to dance. I just… I just now remembered it. I should stop?”
She smirks. “No, I kinda like it.”
We dance a little longer, wheeling around so I can see outside the door to where Dane has moved on to testing the air in the tires. Which, I guess, is prudent since we’ll soon be on our way to save the world.
Or, at least, our world.
I turn back to Chloe, eyes closed, and wonder what, or who, she’s imagining. “How come you never went? To a dance, I mean?”
Her eyes fly open and I almost feel bad for interrupting her dream dance. She shrugs.
“There was never anyone special?”
“No one?” I press, when she shakes her head before I’ve even finished asking.
She stumbles a little and steps on my foot. “Once, a few years back, there was this guy.”
I smirk. “Lemme guess: tall, dark and dangerous. Biker tattoos on his neck, pack of smokes curled up in his sleeve, dog collar bracelet around his thick wrist.”
She shakes her head. “No, not at all. He was… he was a photographer for the yearbook. Always walked around with a camera hanging from his neck. Glasses, striped sweaters—”
We stop dancing. “Hold up, Chloe. A… a nerd?”
She nods. “Just a little bit. He was the kind, the kind of guy who you knew would be a nerd just up until he had his first girlfriend and then, with a little bit of confidence, he’d really blossom, you know?”
I nod. I always figured Stamp was a lot like that. I mean, clearly he’s already blossomed but, before that, I think he had a period there before he let his inner stud flag fly. “So what happened?”
She sighs. We keep moving, slower, slower, hands still clasped, down by our waists. “He always flirted with me, you know? And I thought, I thought… anyway, I thought I knew about that stuff. I kept waiting for him to ask me to the dance, and I knew he didn’t have a date because he was always joking with me about it. Finally, a few days before the dance, I went up to his table in the cafeteria. Talk about nerds. This table was like straight out of Nerd Central Casting. And I asked him, flat out, to the dance. And he looked up at me…”
She pulls her hands away, clenching them into fists. The dance is over. “… and he waits, and he waits, and he had this weird smile on his face, and then all of a sudden, as if on cue, the whole table started laughing. At me.”
I wince in advance of the punch line. “What’d you do?”
She harrumphs. “What do you think I did?”
Still wincing: “Shrugged and walked away, realizing that violence never solves anything.”
“Yeah, right. I broke his nose on the spot and spent the next week sitting in In School Suspension.”
This is where she would normally laugh, all cocky like, but she doesn’t. Dane clears his throat, standing in the doorway. I’m surprised neither of us noticed the rush of afternoon light flooding in around him.
“Car’s ready if you guys are.”
Chloe reverts back to her default setting, stomping off without a backward glance. “Bout time.”
She practically knocks Dane into the next trailer on her way out the door. “Everything all right?”
I smirk, taking a closer look at his face.
“Why… why are you staring at my nose?”
“No reason,” I sigh, striding past. “No reason at all.”
I hope you liked it! Thanks for reading…
Yours in YA,
About the Author:
Rusty Fischer is the author of Zombies Don’t Cry, as well as several other popular zombie books, including Panty Raid at Zombie High, Detention of the Living Dead and the Reanimated Readz series of 99-cent living dead shorts.
Rusty runs the popular website Zombies Don’t Blog @ www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com. At Zombies Don’t Blog you can read more about Rusty’s work, view his upcoming book covers and read – or download – completely FREE books & stories about… zombies!