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Zombies in the Classroom is Live: Read a Preview

I first shared Chapter 1 of Zombies in the Classroom here:

Continue Chapter 2 below...

Cricket was late, but none of the other kids in her class would have thought so. She’d still make it to school before the bell, but she wouldn’t have time to study for the spelling test. While she didn’t need to study, she wanted to. There was no way Diana Dearborn was beating her on that test today. 

Jumping out of bed, she wondered why Mom hadn’t woken her when her alarm went off. What was even weirder was she hadn’t heard her alarm. That never happens. She threw off her pajamas and got dressed, grabbing any old clothes out of her dresser. With her arm full of papers and books, she picked up her backpack off the floor and shoved everything inside.  

She smoothed her unruly brown hair as she ran to the bathroom. That would have to do. There was no time for messing with fly-always and knots. She grabbed a hair elastic off the bathroom counter and put it in her pocket just in case. After she brushed her teeth, she bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen.

“Morning, sweetie,” said Mom, heading toward her with her arms open for a hug. Cricket ducked then reached to open the cupboard to grab a cereal bar.

“I’m late,” she said. “No time for hugs.” 

“Oh, honey. There’s always time for hugs,” Mom said. Cricket paused. No, she wouldn’t let Mom get her way. “Why didn’t you wake me?” she asked, a frown on her face.

“You’ve got plenty of time,” Mom said, using her calming voice. “Even if you moved at a snail’s pace, you’d still make it before the bell.” 

Cricket and her family only lived a few blocks from Blue Hills Middle School. Blue Hills Elementary was a few blocks in the opposite direction for which Cricket was thankful to use as a reason for not walking her little brother Manny to school in the mornings.  

“I had the weirdest dream last night . . . night,” Manny said. Cricket nodded, only half paying attention. “Mr. Spitz was real . . . eal.” 

Manny’s dream must have excited him. It had been a while since his disfluency was so pronounced. Just because he dreamed about Mr. Spitz, his stuffed llama, didn’t mean he was real. Mr. Spitz had been in her dream last night too.

“Really, honey?” Mom asked. “Was he some sort of superhero llama?” 

Cricket had picked out Mr. Spitz for Manny when he was a baby and she was in kindergarten. She named him Mr. Spitz after she’d been on a field trip to a llama farm. One insolent llama refused to come near the fence so the children could pet him, and when the farmer tried to force him, the llama had spit in his face. The farmer had laughed it off and told the class llamas were stubborn and that particular llama was expressing his displeasure at being forced to do something he didn’t want to do. At the time, Cricket wondered if she could get away with that when she didn’t want to do something. 

After dashing around the kitchen and grabbing various snacks to form a somewhat healthy lunch, Cricket said a quick good-bye to Mom and Manny. Mom protested—a cereal bar wasn’t a decent breakfast—and said she’d drive her to school if she’d stay and have some eggs with her and Manny.

There was no way Cricket was waiting around for her slow-poke brother. Mom’s intentions were good, but the only way to get some last-minute cram time in before the spelling test was to leave now. Plus, James was probably wondering where she was.

On her walk to school, Cricket quizzed herself on as many words as she could remember. She counted them on her finger. Every week, her class studied twenty words. She could only remember eighteen. She huffed out a breath before entering the school.



“Does everyone seem tired to you today?” asked James as he waited for Cricket to get her lunch from her locker. 

“I’ll say,” Cricket said. “Did you see Diana’s paper? She spelled her name D-I-A-N-N-A.” She chuckled before turning to James. “Even I know she doesn’t have two Ns in her name.”

James shrugged. “I’m not in the habit of looking at other kids’ papers,” he said. “Unlike you, I could care less about everyone else’s marks.”

“Who spells their own name wrong, though?” Cricket scrunched up her face. She closed her locker while balancing an apple, a granola bar, and her water bottle in her other hand.

“Maybe she was stressed out because of the test.” He raised his eyebrows. “Or this silly rivalry the two of you have.”

“It’s not silly.” Cricket leaned to the side to keep everything from toppling out of her arms. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting a good mark.”

“Want some help?” asked James, seeming to ignore Cricket’s last remark.

“I got it,” she said, snapping her lock into place and pressing her lunch to her chest.

“I had the strangest dream last night,” said James. He and Cricket joined the other students parading down the hall. The basketball team sprinted by on their way to lunch-hour practice. The two best friends moved to the side to let the team pass. “Mr. Spitz was there,” James continued. “He was jumping all over the place like a crazed llama. I didn’t even know llamas could jump like that. And your unicorn too. What’s her name again?”

“Grace,” said Cricket, grimacing. Her step hitched, then she shrugged. “It was a dream. Anything can happen in a drea—” She cut herself off, standing motionless in the hallway. Slowly, she raised her finger in the air and opened her mouth, but no words escaped.

“What’s the matter?” asked James.

“I . . . Was Manny riding Grace in your dream?”

“Yes, why?”

“And Mr. Spitz . . . Could he jump so high it seemed like he was flying, too.”

James nodded his head, and his eyes widened. “And you were—”

“Riding Mr. Spitz,” they both said at the same time. 

Cricket dropped her apple and they both watched it roll down the hallway. 

“Look out,” James said, as a blonde girl in grade five almost stepped on it. She picked it up and walked to James and Cricket, holding out the apple. 

“Thanks,” said Cricket, accepting the apple from the blonde. She took a close look, brushed it off on her clothes, then took a big bite. 

“Shouldn’t you wash that?” asked James. 

“No time. I’m not going to waste our lunch washing my apple when we should be talking about this dream we all had.” She nudged James’s arm then started down the hallway again. 

“All?” he asked.

“Manny said Mr. Spitz was in his dream last night, too.”

“Was it the same dream? Were you riding Mr. Spitz in his dream too?”

“I don’t know,” Cricket answered without turning to face James, picking up speed as she strode down the hallway. “I tuned him out after he said Mr. Spitz was in his dream.” 

“Cricket,” James scolded. 

Cricket’s cheeks flushed, and she gave James a pathetic half smile. It’s not that she ignored Manny on purpose. She was preoccupied with the spelling test and getting to school early.

“What? I was late and he talks about his dreams all the time. I’ll ask him after school.” They passed through the main entrance of the school and into the courtyard. Once they were settled in their usual spot on the grass at the side of the soccer field, James asked, “What do you think it means?”

Cricket frowned.

“The dream, I mean.” James took a bite of his sandwich.

“I don’t know. It’s weird, isn’t it? Can two people have the same dream?”

“If I had a phone, I’d be checking Google,” said James.

“I’m sorry,” Cricket said, knowing James and his mother had been fighting about whether he could have a cell phone yet. Most of the kids in seventh grade had a cell phone. Cricket had refused one when her Mom offered, fearing she’d develop a tumor from the radiation. “They’re not safe anyway.” 

James rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to lecture me again, are you?”

In her mind, she’d been lining up the evidence that cellphones cause brain tumors, but she knew another lecture wasn’t changing James’s mind. He’d told her before that cellphones did more good than damage. 

“Friends probably have the same dreams all the time,” James said, returning to the matter at hand. “You know, because we spend so much time together.”

Cricket wasn’t convinced—besides James was her friend, not Manny’s. If Manny’s dream was the same as the one she and James had both had, what would explain that? They weren’t friends. Besides, she’d never heard of friends dreaming the same dreams on the same night. She popped the last bit of her granola bar in her mouth then stood to toss the wrapper in the garbage can that sat at the edge of the field.

The bell rang, and James stood too.

All the way back to class, ideas swam through Cricket’s mind. Did all three of them really have the same dream?

When they arrived outside the classroom, James waved a hand in front of her face. “What do you want to do?”

“Meet me in the library after school. We can use the computers to see what we can find online.”

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Zombies in the Classroom by AJ Kormon