Chapter 1: The Zombie Mash
Seabrook was a perfectly pleasant place to live the only downside would be the unsightly wall built fifty years prior when an accident nearly resulted in a zombie apocalypse, luckily, they kept it from spreading past a certain part of town which has since been closed off and dubbed Zombietown.
As of just over twenty years ago, science found a better way to deal with the zombies trapped behind the wall, a device they call the Z-Band was created and placed on all the zombie's wrists thus making them no longer crave human brains as well as have their own minds return to them.
Still even after so many years it was rare to see a zombie outside of the wall, in the last ten years or so they started to hire them for the jobs that the people of Seabrook no longer wanted to do but for the most part the humans of Seabrook could pretty much say they never laid an eye on a zombie at least they hadn't close up.
The zombie patrol guarded the wall against any curious teenagers be they human or zombie from crossing as well as dealt with any zombies causing issues.
So, despite knowing about the zombies, seeing the wall, and once or twice a flash of green hair at a distance, it seemed like a completely different world than the one Addison lived it.
Addison's mother was the mayor of Seabrook and her father was the head of the zombie patrol, so they've warned her against zombies all her life. One had even taken a bite out of her grandfather a story that was told so often it kind of lost the scare factor it had once held.
Still, Addison had no reason not to believe everything they told her about them... well, there was one reason you see her parents didn't do well with things that were different.
And what could be more different than a zombie?
But she wasn't exactly normal herself...
Addison didn't remember a time where she didn't have to wear a wig to hide her unusual freakish hair, at first her parent's insistence that she wear one seemed like they were doing it for her benefit and true it had got her on the cheer squad a few months previous but for some reason hiding behind her mask of perfection was wearing on her.
That is probably why she decided to break the rules for once and be completely reckless in the process.
Earlier that week Addison overheard her dad discussion with Gus who was one of the zombie patrol members about zombie hotspots and the late-night parties they sometimes happen upon and bust up and hearing that sparked the idea.
She would go to one of the zombie parties where no one knew her and be free for just one night and get it all out of her system.
It was just a little past seven pm when a hooded girl approached the wall at just the right spot, she knew when and where the weakest points, perks of being the daughter of the chief of the zombie patrol she supposed.
"Okay calm down heart," She whispers to herself with one hand on her chest, "you can totally do this, it's nothing... you won't become a zombie's dinner, they don't eat people... anymore." She added a silent 'I hope' and proceeded to go in through the gate via a copy of Gus' gate key.
It was easier to get a copy of his key than to find dark clothes but she needed both to get in unnoticed as zombies supposedly only wore dark colored clothes.
Making sure to be quiet as well as lock the gate back behind her before slipping the key back into her pants pocket the girl looks around in awe, "So this is Zombietown... I've never seen anything like it..."
Even in the dark she could tell that the buildings were older than her part of town and it was not just due to the lack of recent paint jobs, it was the structures themselves, nothing in her part of town was built like this at least it wasn't any longer, was she getting a glimpse into the past by being here? That was an interesting thought, but she shook it off, there wasn't any time.
If Addison wanted to go a be an anonymous person at a zombie party she had to first find the zombie party.
With that thought she started to walk around looking through buildings that seemed abandoned, Addison nearly gave up after half an hour of searching until she sees a moving figure out of the corner or her eye, it was small.
It was a little kid? What was a kid doing out so late the teenager wondered to herself, so the human did the only thing she could do she followed the child who upon closer inspection appeared to be a little girl if the pigtails were any indication.
Addison followed her to an abandoned building she had already been at but this time the girl got on an elevator and went down, the human steeled her nerves while waiting long enough before trying the elevator for herself.
Part of her wondered why she was even doing this as she got on the elevator, her hood was up and covering her real hair because she didn't need to wear a wig here like she did at home but what was the point she couldn't show her real hair here either because zombies all had green hair, so she still had to cover it... so she was still hiding.
What made her think that this party was the answer she was looking for?
The elevator can to a stop and she held her breath while the doors opened.
Even if this wasn't the answer at least she was experiencing something new, something most humans could never claim to have experienced... not that she'll claim it either since she's in no hurry to be found out but-
Her inside rambling ceased as Addison took in the sight before her, it was... she didn't have a word for it.
Leaving the elevator, the girl makes sure her hood is still in place as she follows several zombie teens who didn't look as freaky as she'd been previously told into what must be the main area, there was music and dancing, it looked fun.
After observing for a bit, she decides to dance too, everything was going pretty good at first, she was getting into the music and the dancing which wasn't quite like the kind she was used to, but it was still enjoyable.
The music changes suddenly and instead of zombies dancing anywhere and everywhere they moved to allow specific ones to take the center and show off their mad dancing skills, Addison watched interestedly in the dancing that was now taking place.
That's when she first laid eyes on him, just like the other zombies he was pale with green hair but that wasn't what drew her to him. Actually, she wasn't sure what did, he was tall, cute, and really good at dancing but that wasn't it either.
All she knew was that she couldn't take her eyes off of him.
When the dance ended Addison had to force herself not to approach him, "He's a zombie... you can't like like a zombie." The girl very quietly whispers to herself, besides she never even talked to him no way was she crushing on someone that she'd never even spoken a word to before.
If this had been a school dance back home, she would've pushed back her slight feelings of shyness to at least go introduce herself, but this wasn't school... who was she kidding even if this was school she wouldn't do it because that would mean getting close to someone who might think she was a freak when they found out about her hair.
Sometimes being from a perfect place like Seabrook could really suck.
Having lost sight of him while in her own head the girl tries to salvage the rest of her night by getting back into her dancing grove and it almost works until, "Hey," a hand touches her shoulder causing her to quickly turn around and come face to chest with the person who she'd been watching dance just moments before.
Grabbing a hold of her hold she peers up slightly hoping the light will help hide her skin's color, Addison knew her skin was pale where she's from but compared to the zombies she might as well have a tan.
"Um, hi." She answers and inwardly grimaces, nice one Addie she tells herself.
Zed was a zombie and he had no problem with that though he did wish that he could get permission to leave Zombietown sometimes as he wanted to see the rest of Seabrook and not just the glimpses through the wall when the gate opened twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening.
Sadly only a few zombie workers were allowed to go past the wall, Zed knew very little about humans or what things were like outside of his small hometown but that's because the humans wanted them cut off.
Luckily his friend Eliza was smart when it came to tech and could hack their Z-Bands and get them access to things online that they otherwise wouldn't have had, like more music and video games.
The extra music especially came in handy when it came to things like Zombie Mashes, which had become a somewhat regular occurrence despite the strict curfew they were under due to them not having many ways to keep all the teenage zombies entertained outside of school.
Which by the way was a joke not that Zed was complaining at least not right now as he was at the fore mentioned Zombie Mash and he was about to do a dance number he'd been practicing.
Everything was going great, normal even just another awesome Zombie Mash when he caught sight of a girl watching him dance. A girl he'd never seen before, sure the hood she was wearing could've just made it harder to recognize her, but he didn't think so because even with the low lighting, her face stood out in his mind.
Zed was pretty sure he knew everybody in Zombietown and that wasn't him barging, it's just they were a small community and if he didn't know them by name which he most likely did he knew them by face.
And hers was a new face, but that wasn't possible.
After the dance was over and he chatted to Eliza and his other best friend Bonzo he let his eyes scan the crowd of dancing bodies until they landed on her.
He knew there was something different about her, a reason he didn't know her, and he was going to find out, so he approached her and tapped her shoulder causing her to whirl around.
"Hey," she grabbed the edge of her hood as if trying to hide, this wasn't a shy gestor she really was hiding something. "Um, hi." His eyes widen slightly as he gets a closer look at her face, he knew it was one he hadn't seen before from a distance but now he could say it without a doubt.
The zombie had never seen someone as pretty as this girl standing in front of him.
Zed knew he would've remembered a face like hers if he'd seen it even just once before.
He smiles, "I'm Zed." She returns the smile, "I'm Addison."
That name was not a zombie name.
It clicked then.
She wasn't a zombie.
She was hiding underneath a hood to hide her hair.
Addison was a human.
Chapter 2: The Girl from the Perfect Paradise
"Addison… that's a pretty name," Zed tells her before adding in a quieter tone, "Not a zombie one though… you should probably come up with something else if someone else asks, something with a 'z' in it."
The human's eyes widen, and she starts to back away as Zed reaches out, "No it's okay I won't tell anyone, your secret is safe with me." Zed didn't know why but he knew he wouldn't rat her out.
"You won't tell…" She looks concerned, "So you won't attack me then either, right?" Addison asks cautiously.
It was Zed's turn to have his eyes widen, "No, no I like humans…" The zombie pauses as he realizes that could be taken the wrong way, "wait I didn't mean like to eat or anything, I just meant-" She giggles, "That's okay I got your meaning." He breathes a sigh of relief before asking, "So what are you doing at a zombie mash in the first place?"
"Wait, hold that thought," Zed grabs her hand and leads her away from the main area into a kind of hallway with few people loitering around, once there he lets go of her hand and she feels a bit disappointed for some reason.
The Addison glances around and once again tugs at her hood as if to make sure it's secure, it is.
Silence hangs for a moment before Zed looks like he's ready to ask the question again so the human beats him to it by speaking.
"I just… I wanted to get away from it all and go somewhere people didn't know me and well Zombietown happens to be the closest place I can do that right now." She tells him truthfully, "Why… isn't Seabrook like the perfect paradise?" It had always seemed that way from the glances he got along with the newspapers and few channels they allow the zombies to access.
"It is… but that means you have to be perfect to fit in… and being perfect all the time isn't easy." She tells him all the while wondering why she's opening up to a zombie, no a boy she'd just meet when she never even told this to her family or friends before.
Zed had never thought about that before, if you lived somewhere perfect then wouldn't you have to be perfect? That meant Addison likely felt like she couldn't be herself, that she wouldn't be accepted for being who she was. It was surreal to realize that maybe humans had problems too.
Glancing up at him she is startled to find him gazing at her so seriously, he was really listening to her. To her problems, but why?
"I'm sorry, here I am complaining about how hard it is being perfect when you have to live stuck behind a wall." He chuckles, "Yeah that's true but behind these walls I've always been able to be me, maybe you can find that here… I mean that's what you came here for isn't it?"
"Yeah… but humans aren't supposed to be here, it's not like I can show what I am without causing problems." She looks down at the floor, "I have to hide here too…" she sighs, and Zed looks around thoughtfully, "Maybe… maybe not."
Her head lifts back up, "What do you mean?" Addison asks curiously with a tad of hope.
"Well I know what you are, and I also wouldn't mind finding out who you really are, so you can always be yourself around me." He rubs the back of his head, "Anytime you want to come to Zombietown we can hang out."
She was stunned at his offer to get to know her, the real her. Not the girl in the wig, she didn't know if she was grateful or scared.
Her hand reaches back to her hood before she makes a decision, yes, she did want someone to get to know her, flaws and all.
And what was her freakish hair if not a major flaw in her eyes.
"It's my hair… it's not normal, in fact, it's freakish and I can't change it." Her eyes find his and he looks curious before he reaches up to his own hair, "Well my hair wouldn't be considered normal by your standards, either right? So, we have something in common." His grin was contagious.
It made a smile grace her own face for a moment before it falls again, "But it's normal for zombies, I've worn a wig as long as I can recall, and I even made the cheer squad this year but if they knew about my hair, that I am different I wouldn't have."
He shakes his head and mutters, "Well I guess that's one thing I can say that we do better here."
Addison had noticed, all the zombies despite having similar clothing that she knew was government issued and not their own choice still was unique in their own ways, and that was just a surface observation, so how many differences would she notice if she had the chance?
"So, can I see your hair?" Zed glances from her face to the hood she was wearing, and her hand automatically reaches up to hold it to her head, "NO!" Her words were loud and panicked before she claimed down, "I mean… sorry, I just never let anyone see it."
He nods, "Okay but if you ever want to take off your hood I won't judge you for it."
She smiles, "Thanks Zed… maybe someday."
"Deal." Zed says holding out his hand, so she extends her own and they shake on it before an idea occurs to him, "Hey let me show you something."
Without waiting for her to say anything he gently pulls her through the hallway to an area where there were lights all over, "What is this place?" She asks in awe, "It's a zombie light garden, see we don't have the ability to actually have real gardens with flowers, not enough land to plant them or enough water to spare to grow them so we came up with our own version of a garden."
"It's amazing." She tells him making him smile as he leads her around, "Come on let's take a walk around the garden." Addison agrees and the two walk through it, the human taking in the light glow of the many bulbs and Zed watching her face taking in her expressions.
Zed had spent time with girls before, one of his closest friends was a girl even but there was something different about Addison and it wasn't that she was a human or even her hair; which the zombie had no clue as to what it looked like but was sure whatever it was suited her and was just as pretty as she was.
It hit him then, the thing that made her different… he liked her... like liked her.
Normally Zed wasn't overly sappy or romantic but when he realized that it occurred to him that she might even be 'the one' for him of course if she was that would be a probably given that he was a zombie and she was a human but at the moment the realization had him on cloud nine.
The consequences could be thought about later.
That night Zed and Addison talked until the human realized it was nearing midnight and she had to leave but she promised to come back when she could, and they agreed that they'd meet up at the zombie light garden at seven on the nights they could.
So, for the next several weeks they did.
One week she got up the courage to lower her hoodie after a piece of her hair had fallen forward and he told her it was beautiful just like her, she was sure she was falling for him, for Zed who was a zombie.
There was no way it could ever work out between them, but she kept coming back anyway.
Because even if they could never be together he was still her friend and the person she felt the most comfortable around.
Now though when they weren't worried about someone seeing she didn't wear her hood up around him as there wasn't any need too, he didn't think she was a freak, in fact, he liked her hair which in turn gave her a new appreciation for it.
Zed showed her around Zombietown during her trips and she'd even met his little sister Zoey who figured out what she was easily enough but promised not to tell in exchange for Addison teaching her some cheer moves.
Other than Zoey she'd briefly met Bonzo who didn't speak anything but zombie tongue still he was sweet in his own way and Zed told her she could trust him not to say anything about her presence there not even to Eliza who was a close friend of theirs, one who hated humans.
One day after nearly a month of knowing each other something interrupted their normal routine.
It was close to nine and the two were talking inside the zombie light garden, another zombie mash was happening only the second one since she'd started coming to Zombietown.
"So, wait Eliza hacked her Z-Band to play video games?" Addison asks, and Zed was about to respond when all the lights went out startling the girl as voices started calling out, it was the Zombie Patrol.
Zed reacted quickly by grabbing her hand whispering at her to be quiet and leading her out a secret way and sticking to the shadows all the while.
Her heart was racing at the thought of getting caught by her father's patrol, what would happen if they found her there? It was forbidden to got to Zombietown unless you worked in the Zombie Patrol… if she was caught they'd never let her come back, and she's never she Zed again.
The thought made her sick and then other worries made themselves known to her as she remembered she wasn't even wearing her wig.
What would they say about her hair? Would everyone find out? Would they even know it was her without her wig on?
Luckily Zed kept a grip on her hand and was helping to ground her as well as lead her while she was having her mental panic attack.
There were a few close calls but eventually, the two arrived at the gate where the patrol was currently slack due to being spread out around Zombietown.
"Thanks, Zed… if they had found me-" He cuts her off, "They didn't. You should go, I'll see you soon?" Addison smiles and quickly hugs him before making her way outside the gate only to whisper back through it, "See you soon."
Zed smiles and makes his way back home carefully.
Laying in bed he thinks about Addison with a goofy smile on his face and is looking forward to seeing her soon like she said.
Since they meet the longest the zombie boy had gone without seeing her was four days so when the fourth day came and went, and she still wasn't at the zombie light garden Zed got worried and by the time a week rolled around he was distracted.
In school, if you could call a basement of a building that should be condemned a school the green-haired boy was lost in thought and Eliza was finally taking notice as he wasn't able to hide it as well with nothing but a rambling teacher to focus on.
His friend tries to get to the bottom of it, but he doesn't tell her, but three days later Bonzo does.
"A human are you crazy?" She nearly yells at him but is wary of their surroundings as the three of them are outside.
"That's why I didn't say anything before, I knew you wouldn't like it." The girl rolls her eyes, "Of course I don't like it! Do you know what they'd do to you if they caught you alone with a human?" Zed shrugs, "I dunno, I never really gave it much thought."
She huffs, "Of course you didn't! Do you want to be locked up in zombie confinement?" Zed tells her she's exaggerating causing her to glare at him, "I don't think I am, Zed I don't know her and I don't like her but seeing that you do I'll tell you this for the good of her as well as you, stop seeing her."
Zed protests, "Really this 'friendship' can only end badly, mostly for you but do you think people would be nice to her after she's willingly spent time with zombies?"
He doesn't know how to answer that, so he sighs, "It's not like it matters anyway I haven't seen her in almost two weeks…"
Eliza frowns, "That's a good thing." Zed looks down, "You need to just get over this, move past it. She may have realized that too."
He doesn't say anything and three days later Eliza is fed up with him and his sulky attitude.
"Zed snap out of it!" She hits him upside the head and he just rubs his head, "I just wish that I could talk to her one more time you know, at least say goodbye to her properly."
The green-haired girl sighs, "…If you could do that then you'd move on?" Zed nods slowly and sadly, "Yeah… but it's not possible."
Eliza frowns and she can't believe what she's about to say, "Actually there's a way…"
His head shoots up fast, "How?"
"I can make you look human for just a little while then you can sneak out and say your goodbyes," His eyes widen, "You could do that!?" She looks uncomfortable, "Yes… but I'll only do it once and only for a couple hours so you get out, say bye then get right back in… this is crazy I can't believe I'm even considering-" He hugs her, "Thank you thank you thank-"
"Yeah, yeah let go of me." She cuts him off and shoves him away, "Just don't get caught, okay?"
Zed nods with a grin that has been absent lately.
Eliza sighs and hopes she's doing the right thing.
Bonzo who had been listening quietly until now looks back and forth before pulling both of them into a hug.