Word Count: 54,212
Summary: As the sixteen-year-old star of cult hit TV show “Dia of the Dead,” Dia Summers has experienced her fair share of paranormal drama on set–and non-paranormal drama off-set. At the birthday party of the network founder’s eldest daughter, Dia experiences a series of social disasters, including a chance encounter with the boy of her dreams and a brush with young Hollywood’s dark underbelly. But before the night is over, Dia discovers that the possible cancellation of her show isn’t her biggest worry.
Dia thought that protecting Romero High from all things supernaturally spooky as Dia Muerto was a tough gig, but it’s nothing compared to protecting the ones she loves from real, live—well, formerly alive—zombies. Unlike the zombies that shambled around on set, the real deal don’t follow a script. Armed with what they can find around Bixby Studios, Dia and her friends band together to find out why everyone they know has begun popping up as gray-skinned, black-eyed, limb-nomming zombies. The group must make it to safety before they’re caught up in the latest trend spreading through Hollywood.
I knew I wasn’t Reagan’s first choice for company but it seemed like she went out of her way to prove her point. I practically had to run to keep up with her as she led the way to the office building. It stood at the center of the studio, a few stories taller than the other buildings. Its facade was made of reflective glass windows instead of bland beige siding like the rest. I followed her up the pathway leading to the building and through the doors. She breezed right past the receptionist in the lobby and unlike everyone else that entered, she didn’t have to sign in or have an appointment. I sped up and followed her to the elevator. She pressed a button and suddenly we were heading to the building’s top floor.
We stepped out of the elevator at the end of a long hallway I’d never been in before.
“Hurry up,” Reagan called. She was already out of the elevator. “BB should be in there.” She pointed at one of the three doors on the hall.
I hurried to join her.
“BB, where are you, bitch?” Reagan called as she opened the door and stepped inside the darkened room.
No bitches made their whereabouts known.
I hesitated at the entrance, a little afraid to follow Reagan inside. Not only was the room dark, it was quiet. Too quiet. Reagan had disappeared further into room. Other than the little light that filtered into the room from the hallway, I could barely see past my nose.
“Reagan?” I took another step inside.
She didn’t answer.
I took a few steps back toward the safety of the light.
“Come on, Dia. I know this place is giving you the creeps but you can do this.” I whispered, trying to psych myself up to step into the room again.
“Maybe this will help.” I flipped the switch on the wall, expecting a light to turn on. Nothing happened. I tried again. Still no light.
“Reagan!” I called louder. She still didn’t answer.
Something isn’t right.
I stepped further inside.
A light flickered on in another room spilling into the room I was in. It definitely had BB Bixby flair—tons of purple and white one-of-a-kind furniture and decor plus lots with shiny, sparkly things. Heavy purple drapes covered the windows, blocking sunlight. Looking up, I saw why the light didn’t work. Wires snaked out of a hole in the ceiling and the chandelier they were once connected to was in pieces on the floor. Joining the broken light was a knocked over table, a broken vase, and a dozen trampled lilies.
Reagan had to have been in the other room. There was nowhere else she could’ve gone. My stomach clenched as I slowly approached the doorway, stopping just outside.
A thud from the other room made me jump.
I took a step and hesitated.
“Come on, you’re Dia Muerto. You can do this,” I muttered.
Fearless Dia Muerto would’ve headed into the next room without a second thought. She lacked the ability to think things through—you know, being a zombie and all. Dia Summers, on the other hand, was well aware of the creepiness in the air, and I wasn’t one for barging into unknown territory without at least some of the facts. I held my breath as I walked toward the doorway and peeked my head inside. Reagan rushed past me, her hand cupped over her mouth, a terrified look in her eyes. She nearly knocked me down as she ran out into the hall.
A low ominous moan came from the room Reagan fled. My stomach dropped to my feet.
I turned on heel and ran from the room as quickly as Reagan did. I didn’t want to know what was responsible for the sound and I wasn’t going to stick around to find out. Reagan frantically beat on the door at the end of the hall, crying for her dad to open up.
Dread crept over me as I watched Reagan jiggle the doorknob with one hand and pound the door with the other as she screamed for Mr. Bixby. The door didn’t open. Something was wrong. Whatever was in the other room had frightened her to tears. I turned around, ready to run back to the elevator when I saw what had caused Reagan to run.
Her sister, BB Bixby, stood between me and the elevator in a shimmery silver mini dress. She limped toward us, covered in splatters of red, one foot in a strappy silver sandal and the other foot bare. Her hands were tipped in red liquid, one clutching a lock of hair. Red rimmed her mouth like a gruesome lipstick. It streaked across her cheek toward her hairline where a chunk of pink matter settled on a wisp of dark hair while the rest was a wild tangle. Her skin had gone gray and she had the same blue rash as Amber. She cocked her head to the side, setting black eyes on me. She bared black-stained teeth and let out a low growl.
BB didn’t look like any heiress I knew. She didn’t look like an actress either. She looked like a monster. Like something from Dia of the Dead but way more terrifying. I gasped, covering my mouth and took a step back. I knew what I was looking at. The realization made my blood run cold. I’d watched dozens of movies about them as research for my role. It didn’t dawn on me earlier but now, looking at BB, it clicked. The walk. The moans. The stench. The appetite for flesh. Barbara Bush Bixby was a zombie with blood stained hands and an authentic walk that put Dia Muerto’s to shame.