Ricky went to the band’s suite and shoved his way past the werewolf that opened the door. In the front room, he found Nevin picking out notes on a keyboard while Kalila flipped through a biography of Mozart. Vic lay on the sofa, wrapped in his favorite shroud, and from the back room, Ricky heard the sound of squeaking bed springs. Ricky looked at his watch in annoyance. “Why aren’t you guys ready? The venue manager is expecting you at three so you can set up.”
Kalila looked up from her book. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to cancel, Ricky.”
“Is someone sick?” He looked around the room. “Where’s Lazaro?”
“He had something urgent to take care of,” Nevin said. “A pilgrimage of some sort.”
Ricky stared in disbelief. “Zombies don’t go on pilgrimages.”
Kalila shrugged and set her book aside. “We’re near a sacred spot, and since we’re heading out tomorrow…”
“What are you talking about? We’re not near Lourdes, Mecca, Mount Fuji, or anything. There’s no sacred spots anywhere around here, so what—?”
By now Vic had woken up and shoved the shroud out of his face. “He went to the Evans City Cemetery, human. We’re only about thirty miles away, you know.”
“Evans City…” Ricky searched his memory. “Night of the Living Dead?”
“He wanted to visit his kin,” Kalila explained.
“But that was just a movie. Don’t tell me he thought it was a documentary.”
“It doesn’t matter what he thought,” Vic pointed out. “If we don’t have a drummer, we don’t have a show.”
“This is ridiculous,” Ricky said. “You guys are not canceling your show just so the drummer can spend the night wandering around an old cemetery.” He headed toward the door. “Go to the venue and get set up. I’m going to get Lazaro.”
It wasn’t hard to find the cemetery. Ricky went north on the highway, cut over to Evans City, then went south on Franklin Road. As he turned into the cemetery, he felt a shiver of déjà-vu. He parked near a boarded-up building he thought he remembered from the movie, then went to look around.
The place was rather ordinary, with neatly trimmed grass and plenty of open space between the headstones. Everything was so tidy and well cared-for that Ricky felt himself relax. This wasn’t the place of movie-inspired nightmares. It was just an ordinary graveyard where people with bigger problems than his own had found peace.
He looked around, suppressing a sigh. It was easy to get caught up in the worries of the day, but eventually this was his destination, just like everyone else’s. To the person who would one day stand over his grave, Ricky’s troubles were no more important than those of the people underneath his feet today. In fact, maybe—
With a howl, something slammed into him, knocking Ricky off his feet. He found himself struggling with a powerful creature, twisting and grabbing, trying to pull his attacker down. He narrowly escaped hitting his head on a marker, and screamed as a gaping maw of yellowish teeth closed in.
Then just as suddenly as he had been attacked, he was let go.
“Oh, it’s you,” Lazaro said, backing away. “I thought it was someone with brains.” He helped him to his feet. “Sorry about that.”
Ricky wasn’t sure whether to feel insulted or relieved, and decided to let the matter go. “Just a misunderstanding,” he assured him as he tried to catch his breath and straighten his clothes. “Uh…look. It’s kind of a problem that you skipped out like this.”
Lazaro shrugged and started walking across the manicured lawn with Ricky tagging after him. “Thought I should see this place. Thought I might…you know, make some friends.”
Ricky looked around doubtfully. “Any luck with that?”
“No.” He stopped and frowned at the serene landscape. “It’s not like the movie.”
“Most things aren’t.”
“Yeah.” Lazaro looked at his feet, almost as if he were embarrassed. “Just an ordinary cemetery.”
“I’m sorry.” Ricky waited to see if Lazaro would say anything else, and when he didn’t, he asked, “So you want a ride back? You’ve got a gig tonight.”
“I know. Drums.”
“So come on, then. This place is just some Hollywood director’s screwed up fantasy. But we’re better than that.” Ricky held out his hand. “Let’s go make our own reality.”