Little Markey Monkey was out on his father’s business one day in a small town outside of an Iowa corn field. The usual. Flames and air raid sirens and whatnot. He found a little girl wandering through the tall grass up the only hill in the state. A very gradual hill. You might even call it a mound or a lump. But he found her on her way to the playground at the top. He had heard her crying and followed that sound. He said, “Are you hurt?” He reached out and grabbed her by the hand.
She said, “I’m scared. I think I saw a monster.”
Mark said, “Don’t be scared of monsters. Nothing can hurt you.” He grabbed the left sleave of his shirt with his right hand and wiped her tears. He saw the shiver was still on her lips, so he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small toy car. He said, “Whenever I get sad about my brother, I play with this car.” He handed it to her.
She took it, hesitated for a moment then gave him a hug. He hugged her back. She said, “Do you want to be my friend? We could play at the playground.”
He said, “Yes, my name is Mark.”
The little girl said, “My name is Milly. You wanna race?” They both started up the hill parting the grass as they went. Mark let her have a head start because she was smaller.
He said, “Don’t let me catch you.” When they got to the top of the hill they played for a while. There was a swing set with a tire swing on one end and monkey bars, but Milly was too small for both. But there was the play set with the slides connected with bridges and stairs. So they climbed the stairs and played on the slides running across the rubber coated bridges that connected them. It was a beautiful day to play ignoring the black smoke in the sky and the sounds panic coming from town. In fact, the hell fire burning in town added a nice rosy glow to the playground equipment that was quite a bit nicer than the direct glare of the bright son.
After some time, Milly sat down on the top step and began to push the toy car back and forth. Mark sat next to her and put his arm around her as she played. She said, “Mark,” then she pushed the car some more. “Markey… I wish my dad could push me.”
He said, “I can push you.”
She said, “That one.” She pointed to the tire swing.
He said, “I can push you.”
She said, “No, me and you. I want my dad to push us.”
He said, “Me too. My dad is stuck in a chair.”
She said, “Did he get hurt?”
He said, “Not a wheelchair, silly.” Milly just looked at him. He thought she still looked sad. “A throne.”
She smiled. “Your dad is stuck on the potty?!” She practically giggled the words.
Mark laughed, too, rocking back and forth on the step. He said, “Pooping?!”
Milly said, “Pooping!!” They were practically crying. It was so funny.
They both laughed for a while before they could catch their breath. Mark said, “He’s not pooping. He’s dead. He is in the mirror, but his body is stuck on the throne in the castle.”
She scooted away from him. “What castle?”
He pointed toward the fire and smoke on the horizon. “In the sky. The big one way over there.”
She said, “Markey are you evil?
He said, “Yes.” He sounded as if he didn’t even know the implications of his answer. Milly looked as if she might run at any second. He said, “But that doesn’t mean I’m not good.”
She said, “It does.”
He said, “Does not.” He almost looked offended. “I am good.”
She said, “But you’re evil.”
He said, “I am evil.”
She looked puzzled. “Evil-good?”
He nodded. “Evil-good.”
She said, “I’m glad,” then reached over and gave him a big hug. “Because I think my mommy and daddy are dead.”
He said, “Oh…” He hugged her for a second. “Don’t worry about that. Death is not the end.”
She said, “It’s not?”
He said, “No. Of course not. Who told you that?” He scratched his head. “I’ll bring them back. What are their names?” He raised his hands and started humming a strange tune.
She said, “Zombies?”
He nodded. “Zombies.”
She said, “Not zombies! Alive.”
He put his hands down and let out a sigh. He said, “I can’t do that. Not yet. My dad has this machine…” He let his words trail off. He said, “You keep hold of that car. I will take you home with me tonight. My dad won’t like it, but you will be able to stay with us. I will tell him, and we will get your mommy and daddy back alive. Just close your eyes. I have to call my monsters to pick up the dead.”
She closed her eyes and held on to her Markey until he finished his strange chant. He scrubbed her hair with his hand. He said, “It’s OK now, Milly. You can open your eyes.”
They stopped by her house on the way back to the castle and picked up a change of clothes for the night.