Nick Eliopulos takes us on an epic journey to save a little brother turned zombie!
I still remember the first time I encountered a zombie in Minecraft, shuffling towards me with its arms outstretched. What I thought would be a hug turned out to be the worst betrayal I’ve felt since getting sick from eating too much ice cream for dinner.
Most Minecrafters have their own zombie (or baby zombie) stories, some more devastating than others. And Minecraft: Zombies! by Nick Eliopulos is a particularly chaotic one – in the best way.
This novel tells the story of Billie – whose village is overrun by zombies, leaving her to care for a suddenly bitier little sibling – and Ben, the adventurer that comes across the ravaged settlement and decides to help Billie bring her brother Johnny back to normal... somehow.
Minecraft: Zombies! follows the two’s journey across the Overworld as they face great dangers and try to solve the mystery of the zombie attack while taking care of a little green boy who can’t (or won’t) stop trying to eat them. Check out the excerpt below to get a taste of that jaw-clenching dynamic!
* * *
Bobbie was in a sort of daze when she realized that sunlight was pouring into the library.
The realization hit her like a bucketful of cold water. She didn’t know much about zombies. But everyone knew that zombies and sunlight did not mix.
And her brother was a zombie now. As impossible as that seemed, it was true.
Heedless of any danger that awaited her in the stacks, Bobbie cut her way out of her makeshift shelter. The villagers were all gone—either they’d finally managed to open the iron door, or they’d slipped through the hole in the floor. Bobbie quickly plugged that hole, lest some undead creature reach up from below to grasp at her ankles.
Right now, she only had time to worry about one particular undead creature. Trapped in his wooden pen, Johnny was safe, for now, from direct sunlight. She could just see the top of his green head, turning tirelessly in an endless clockwise circle as he looked for a way out of his one-block-wide prison.
Bobbie blocked the windows, moved a lantern so that its light would better compensate for the lack of sunshine, and then cut away one side of Johnny’s enclosure.
He lunged for her immediately.
Bobbie dodged his grasp, quickly shoving him back into his pen and sealing it up once more.
“Okay, that was probably my fault,” said Bobbie, her breathing ragged and her knees shaking. “Yeah. Probably should have seen that coming.”
Johnny, unseen inside his prison, growled with agitation.
“You’re just hungry, aren’t you?” said Bobbie. “Well, I understand, I guess, but you can’t eat me.”
Johnny growled again.
“I’m sorry,” said Bobbie, “but that’s where I draw the line! Maybe that makes me a bad big sister, but so be it.” She sighed. “I’m sure I can find you something to eat that’s a little less . . . me.”
Bobbie walked out into the daylight. All was still and quiet, and for just a moment she could almost believe that the previous night had all been a terrible dream. She turned toward the town center, where her neighbors liked to gather. There was no one there. Last night’s fires had burned out, leaving several homes in ruins. The remaining structures had all had their doors destroyed. It seemed no one else had escaped the wrath of the zombies.
But maybe she could still save her brother.
The way Bobbie saw it, it was just a matter of education.
She’d already taught Johnny a lot of things in the time since he’d been born. She’d taught him not to pull her hair. She’d taught him to share his toys and not to jump on a bed that was occupied, and she’d even started to teach him the names for different colors.
So teaching him not to eat her shouldn’t be too hard, she reasoned.
She started with a simple test, setting out a juicy steak in one corner of the library and a fresh-baked cookie in another corner. She opened Johnny’s pen and, before he could react, she hurried across the room to occupy a third corner.
Then she waited. Would Johnny go for the dessert? Would he go for the steak?
No such luck. Johnny shambled directly toward her, reaching out as if coming in for a hug—but then, as he got closer, lunging forward with gnashing teeth.
Bobbie was ready for this outcome. She’d covered one hand with an iron boot—it looked funny, and it prevented her from picking anything up, but it at least offered some protection. As Johnny lunged, she held up her arm, intercepting his bite attack with the boot. He gnawed harmlessly on the iron.
“Bad baby,” she said. “You won’t get any food by attacking me. Wouldn’t you like a soft, gooey cookie instead? Look how defenseless it is!”
Johnny growled and grumbled as he slobbered on her boot.
“And don’t talk with your mouth full!”
After a few days, the constant growling started to give Bobbie a headache. It reminded her of when Johnny used to cry at all hours of the night. She thought a pacifier of some kind might help.
But what pacified a zombie?
She tried everything she could get her hands on: Honeycomb. A piece of sugar cane. Even an emerald, which might have been a choking hazard, if Johnny still needed to breathe.
He spat everything out of his mouth immediately. Nothing worked.
And then, one day, she found him suckling a bleach-white bone.
“Where did you get that?” she asked, and she reached forward to take it from him. He twisted away from her grasping hands, growling at her and holding the bone close.
“Oh, fine,” Bobbie said, watching as her brother gnawed on the bone like it was candy. “It’s a little morbid. But at least you’re quiet.”
Johnny slobbered contentedly.
With the pacifier to calm him, Johnny grew slightly less aggressive in Bobbie’s presence, and she considered letting him out of his enclosure a bit more often.
First, she needed to test his instinct for self-preservation. And so, one morning, she opened the library’s iron door and threw Johnny’s favorite bone outside.
Johnny followed it, stepping right out into the glaring sunlight.
A moment later, he had burst into flame!
Bobbie doused her brother with a ready bucket of water and immediately dragged him back inside. Johnny, slightly charred and completely wet, growled miserably.
“This is for your own good,” Bobbie said, and she tied one end of a lead around him. The other end was attached to a wooden post she’d set into the library floor. “It’s just until you figure out how to keep yourself safe.” Johnny strained at the rope, determined to go back outside and retrieve his bone despite the clear and present danger of the sunlight.
Bobbie sighed. “Something tells me you’re going to be on that rope for a very long time.”
* * *
Minecraft: Zombies! is out today.
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- Cristina Anderca