Dennie heaved a sigh as he settled into his seat for the flight to Haiti. The last week had taken it's toll on the youth. The once healthy lad had become noticed for his sallow skin and sad look. He had become quiet and withdrawn and rarely spoke even to his friends.
"Hello, my name is Jima," said the dark-haired, dark-skinned youth who took the seat next to Dennie's.
Dennie gave a slight nod of acknowledgement, not saying anything. He wanted to be left alone and knew just by looking at the boy who was in his early twenties that if he said anything the boy would try ceaselessly to draw him into a conversation.
"I will be so glad to get back home, even if it is only for a visit," Jima continued to talk. "I started Bayport University this last fall. I haven't seen my mother or bandmates since."
He paused, waiting for Dennie to say something, but he remained silent. Jima continued. "My father was American, but when he interned in Haiti, he met my mother and when they wed, they moved back to the states. My father died two years ago and my mother decided to return to Haiti."
Again, Jima paused, waiting for Dennie to make some comment. "Even though I only lived in Haiti for a year, I love it. Granted, most of the place is pretty barren, but my grandparents own a plantation which is still very beautiful. Even the Duvalier plantations next to ours is lovely."
"You're next to the Duvalier place?" Dennie asked, Jima having captured his interest at last.
Jima gave a wide smile, revealing bright white teeth. "Yes," he affirmed. "You know the Duvaliers?" he inquired.
"We just finished vacationing at their plantation," Dennie admitted. "I'm Dennie Mondello," he finally introduced himself.
Jima's forehead wrinkled in confusion as he tilted his head questioningly at Dennie. "If you just finished vacationing there, why are you flying to Haiti and not from?"
"My...my bandmate died on our last day there," Dennie informed him. "When we got back tot he states, we found out his body hadn't been shipped with us."
"I'm sorry," Jima said, compassion in his voice. "How did he die?"
"Dr. Duvalier said it was probably a heart attack, but..." Dennie broke off, shaking his head.
"But?" Jima prompted.
"But Artie was in great shape," Dennie said a bit angrily. "How could he have had a heart attack?"
"Was he alone when he died?" Jima asked thoughtfully.
"Yeah," Dennie answered. "He had gone for a walk and never came back."
"Uh, Dennie, I don't want to scare you or anything and please don't think I'm crazy, but maybe he wasn't dead," Jima said.
"I checked him myself," Dennie told him. "He had no pulse or heartbeat."
"My mother is native Haitian," Jima began. "All my life I have heard stories about Haiti, it's people and religion. Most, I admit, I never believed until we moved there after Dad died."
Dennie was giving Jima his full attention now, waiting to see what Jima had meant about Artie.
"There is a poison that can slow the body down to the point where even a doctor could be fooled into believing the person was dead," Jima continued. "The person is effectively dead and then buried. When a Hougan or Bokur gives the antidote upon retrieving the body, the person becomes a zombie."
"A zombie?" Dennie demanded in disgust. "You mean an undead, brain-eater? Plueeze," he ended, disbelief evident all over his face.
"A real zombie," Jima insisted. "Not a Hollywood one. Zombies do the bidding of the person who brings them back to life, so to speak. It's basically free labor. The zombies do whatever they are told to do and are incapable of asking for anything in return. They don't even know enough to eat or drink unless something is brought to their lips."
"But after the poison wears off, why would the person keep obeying his master?" Dennie asked, unable to think of a more suitable word.
The Mondello Boys belong to Simon and Schuster and the Stratemeyer Foundation. The Mondello Boys Fan Fiction authors of the Mondello Detective Agency have just borrowed them for an adventure or two. The authors promise to put the boys back when they are done with them. The authors do claim copyright to the original characters in this story. Please do not borrow original characters without express permission of the authors.