A/N: This short story is a prequel to Hunt for Unseelie Jack.
Join Philo and Darius as they share their first adventure.
Remember that time we ran from zombies?
After giving his guardian the slip and looking for something fun to do, Philo spotted a boy who was crouched behind a trash bin, hugging his knees. He had no horns or wings - a human!
Philo approached carefully, unsure if he would get reprimanded for doing so.
The boy didn't lift his head. "Hi."
Philo cautiously crouched next to him and recognized the insignia on his shirt.
"You live at the orphanage?"
The boy nodded, not looking up.
"I'd live in one too if there were orphanages for Fae," Philo said, happy to find something in common with him.
Only now the boy lifted his head and snuck a glance at Philo's back. Philo's heart banged loudly as he awaited the reaction to seeing wings.
Encouraged, Philo blurted, "Do you want to climb the scaffolding with me?"
The boy looked up at the rusty structure and squinted. "I don't know…"
"It's going to be…"
Philo was interrupted by a loud guttural groan which sent shivers down his spine.
The boys turned to the sound, exchanged identical wide-eyed looks and ran for it because the street was suddenly filled with corpses which were not only standing up but were shambling in their direction. Their decaying flash was dressed in dirty rags but worse were those haunted sunken eyes.
"What are those things?"
"No clue… ow!"
Philo tripped and landed hard on his hands and knees. He scrambled to get up, terrified that he had just lost the little headway he had made. He didn't know what these corpses wanted but things that looked this scary couldn't possibly be nice.
The boy pulled him up and they took off without looking back, racing with the monorail overhead.
They turned into a little alley and immediately regretted it as it was blocked off by a wooden fence.
"Oh, no," the boy cried.
With the corpses right behind them, they had no choice but to go over it. Philo took a running start, jumped onto a barrel for a boost and fluttered his wings until he landed on top of the fence, then, he stretched out his hand to the boy.
He pulled him up and they made it down to the other side. They continued running, just in case, and ran up the first staircase they found, leading up to the monorail. Once on top, they hid behind a column and tried to catch their breath.
"Where did they come from?" the boy asked.
Philo shook his head, panting heavily. He snuck a look down to check if it was safe and saw an empty street with only a stray cat passing by.
"Where do you think they are?"
Not knowing was unnerving and so he got up to investigate. He braved out of their hiding spot, feeling safer above ground, and continued down the rail track towards the street they had come from.
"I'm Darius Prowell, by the way."
Darius chuckled. "That's a funny name."
Philo shot him an annoyed look. "At least it's not a boring one. My friends call me Philo."
Once they approached Carnival Row, they sat down to observe the bizarre scene below. A group of corpses was shambling in a circle, groaning and stumbling over each other. Like that wasn't strange enough, there was a crowd of Fae and humans gathered around them, keeping a distance but not at all frightened.
"They don't look so scary now," Philo said and ran a hand through his long hair, his scalp all sweaty from the run.
"Were they walking in circles when we were down there?"
Philo didn't know as he didn't pay attention to what the corpses were doing when he first saw them. He gasped and pointed at a large sign hanging above one of the Row shops.
THE FIRST ANNUAL CARNIVAL ROW ZOMBIE SHOW
Sponsored by HARUSPEX TSIGANI
Necromancy services for all your needs
The haruspex, an older Faerie dressed in many shawls and beads, stood in the middle of the zombie circle and waved her hands. The corpses reacted, changed the direction of their march and the crowd clapped.
"They're under her control," Philo murmured, starting to understand that they were never in danger.
Darius looked in all directions and leaned in. "Let's not tell anyone about how we met, right?"
Philo immediately shook on it. "We'll make up a story."
And they plotted a tale of a heroic adventure as zombies danced below them.