Chapter 17


Zombi turned to JC and asked, “What’s wrong?”

"Well, as much as I’d love to help you guys rebuild Witchie's new home... I really feel like I should be getting back to my own home," replied JC.

"Are you feeling homesick?" asked Gho-Stee.

"Nah, it's just... well, maybe a little," admitted JC.

"You HAVE been here for a while," offered Zombi.

"Don't you like it here?" asked Skellii.

"Weren't we having fun?" asked Franky.

"Especially now that we know The Candy Monster doesn't really exist?" asked Wolfey.

"You haven't even seen Zombi's old digs yet. It's a pretty awesome place to hang," added Vam Pea. "Plus, I still have to sing all my new songs for everybody--"

"That can wait!" the others all said, almost all at the same time.

"The thing is," said Gho-Stee, "we understand if you want to go back home now, JC. It's just that we like you a lot. But you know you can always come back here if you want to. Right?"

JC turned to Zombi, "Is that true?"

"Of course you can!" Zombi replied.

JC looked at him. "You said 'you.' Does that mean you’re not coming back with me?"

The others stepped back so the two friends could talk.

"I think I'm gonna stay here and hang with my old friends for a while longer," said Zombi.

"You're gonna miss my dad's baked ziti," JC reminded him.

"It is delicious... Still, I think I need to check things out around here for a while now," replied Zombi.

"I get it. This is your home... But you'll come back to visit me soon?" asked JC.

"Soon," promised Zombi. "Promise?" asked JC.

"Zombie-promise!" smiled Zombi. "But you gotta promise to come back here as well."

"Zombie-promise," said JC.

And the two friends hugged. Zombi then pulled away and said, "C'mon, I'll show you the way back to the tree with the door."

Soon all the friends were back on the path to the tree with the invisible door that sometimes lit up. They all laughed and talked all about their latest adventure. They even let Vam Pea sing a little tune about it:
"This is the tale about The Candy Monster,
Who turned out to be a great big imposter,
Witchie's house is gone but will soon be back,
Built out of candy, we'll call it Snack Shack..."

Then, before they knew it, they had arrived at that special tree, which really was a secret portal back to The Real World.

JC said good-bye to everyone.

"Next time I want to hear more of your songs," he said to Vam Pea. (And he meant it!)

"Next time I want you to show me your lab and workshop," he said to Franky.

"Next time I want to spend more time playing with your cats," he said to Skellii.

"Next time I want to sit on the deck of your ghost-ship with you and just relax for an evening," he said to Gho-Stee.

"Next time I want to spend time examining all your ancient scrolls," he said to Mum-Z.

"Next time I want to make potions with you and eat lots of home-made candy," he said to Witchie.

"Next time I want to go exploring more caves with you," he said to Wolfey.

"And next time, I want to see where you live, Zombi. And I want to see more of The Dead Tree Forest. And I want to check out The Bridge To Nowhere and Somewhere, and The River of Time and--"

"Don't worry," Zombi interrupted, "there'll be plenty of time for all that. In the meantime, next time I go back to The Real World, I wanna hear all about your adventures THERE. You promise?"

"Zombi-promise!" replied JC. They hugged again quickly, then JC pulled away, pulled out his magic wand, and drew a door and a doorknob onto the tree. A magic purple door appeared immediately. JC turned the doorknob, opened the door, and on the other side was his closet.

He turned back to his friends one last time, waved good-bye, then stepped quickly into the tree and back into The Real World.

But it wouldn't be long before JC would return to The Dead Tree Forest to have lots of brand new adventures with all his new friends – especially, Zombi the Zombie.


©2018 Paul J. Castellaneta

(to buy the book, click here!)