Jeremy has a pet, but he's not a very responsible owner.
|Written for "Invalid Item" but is more dark comedy than horror... depending on your sense of humor.
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
Jeremy’s mother was just heading out the door for work when she called back over her shoulder, “Don’t forget to feed Fred.”
Jeremy rolled his eyes, “Yes, mother.”
“I mean it. You forgot to feed him yesterday and Mr. Willis complained that he could hear him whining all day. We only let you have a pet because we thought you were old enough to be responsible.”
“I’ll feed him, mom, just as soon as I finish breakfast.”
Jeremy sopped up the rest of his egg yolk with his toast and then rinsed his plate in the sink. He heard Fred making some noises in the next room, a clear indication he was awake and hungry.
“Hold on a second, Buddy, let me grab you something and then I’ll take you for a walk.”
Jeremy loaded the dishes from the sink into the dishwasher and pressed start. When he finished, he opened up the cupboard to see what there was to feed Fred. His food supply was getting low. Jeremy wrinkled his nose at some of the can labels. He couldn’t imagine eating some of this slop, why was it okay to feed to pets?
“You must have an iron stomach,” Jeremy said, pulling out a can that claimed to have ‘real meat’ somewhere inside. The phone rang and he set the can down to go answer.
“Hey, dude, come on out and check out my new ride!”
Jeremy looked out the window. A red mustang was sitting in his driveway. In the driver’s seat, looking cooler than he should, was Mikel, his best friend. “No way! Hold on, be right out.”
“My rents got it for me for my birthday.” Mikel yelled when Jeremy came running out the door. “How freaking awesome is that?”
“But your birthdays not until next month.”
“I know, right? It was on special or something and my dad had to get it now if he wanted the deal.”
“Man, you’re so lucky. I still have my bike to get around on.”
“Jump in, let’s take it for a spin.”
Jeremy jumped in the car, not even bothering with the door. It was a convertible. How cool was that? As they sped down the road they passed Mr. Willis, who shook his fist at them. “Slow down you hooligans! What do you think this is, the Indy 500? Hey, Jeremy… You left the front door open!”
“What did he say?” Jeremy asked.
“I don’t know, something about the Indy 500. Hey, did you read about Stewart in the news? Wrecked another car.”
“No way, that’s crazy. He needs to learn how to drive.”
“Hold on, let me show you how it’s done.” Mikel stepped on the gas, flooring it. They went through a red light. Fortunately there were no cars coming and no cops around.
“What are you trying to do, get us killed?”
“Don’t spaz, dude. I told Karen and Lela that we’d pick them up. Those girls are hot and if we aren’t there they might go off with some other guy.”
“You mean someone better looking than the two of us? I don’t think so, dude?”
“Dude, you’re ringing.”
Taking his arm from around Lela, Jeremy reached into his pocket to pull out his phone. He looked at the screen and groaned. It was his mother. “Hey dude, I think I’m forgetting something. We need to go back to my place.”
“No way. Who is it?”
“Well answer. Maybe she just wants to say she loves you or something. My moms does that all the time.”
The phone stopped ringing and Jeremy looked at the time on the phone. “Dude, is it really five? We’ve been driving all day.”
“It’s five?” Karen shrieked, pushing Mikel away from her. “My mom is gonna kill me. I was supposed to pick my sister up from her friends at five. We’ve got to go.”
“No,”Mikel said, “we stopped off at the Kewpee and ate. And we’ve been parked here for the last hour or so.”
“Come on, we’ve got to go. I was supposed to feed Fred and I forgot. My mom is going to strangle me.”
“Really? You forgot to feed your pet?” Karen’s voice was sarcastic. “I forgot to pick up my sister. Which is worse?”
“Fred’s an exotic.” Jeremy said.
Karen’s eyes got wide. “Really? My mom says exotic pets should be banned, they’re too dangerous.”
“Not as long as you feed them and Fred, he’s as gentle as a kitten.”
“A kitten you didn’t feed,” Lela said, looking worried.
“Hold your shorts, dude,” Mikel said. “We’re almost there.” They rounded the corner to see that Jeremy’s street was filled with emergency vehicles.
“Oh no… Mikel, I think I left the front door open.”
When they pulled up out front, Jeremy jumped out of the car and went running. Mr. Willis was being put onto an ambulance. The man turned his head and glared at Jeremy, but he didn’t say anything. His sheets were covered in blood and the man was beginning to turn a sickly color of green. Jeremy spotted his mom and went running to her.
“Mom, mom, where’s Fred?” She pointed to the yard next door. Fred lay sprawled on the ground, Mr. Willis’s entrails still hanging out of his mouth. He wasn’t moving.
“I told you, Jeremy, owning a pet zombie was a responsibility. I didn’t think you were mature enough, but your dad…”
“I’m sorry mom.”
“Well, we’re just lucky we had insurance, otherwise it might be worse. And Mrs. Willis doesn’t seem too upset.”
“Laws, no,” Mrs. Willis said. She sounded excited and stopped long enough to hug Jeremy before joining her husband in the ambulance. Whispering in his ear she said, “I always wanted my own zombie and now it looks like I’ll have one.”
Word Count: 972