02 February 2014 - 05:07 PM
I ran as fast as I could. They were hot on my heels. I could hear them behind me, wheezing as they pursued me. I glanced over my shoulders. The sight of their grey and decaying faces and lifeless eyes only made my speed increase.
I couldn’t see any way to escape. If I were to run into a house, I’d be trapped like a rat. I didn’t even know if those doors were unlocked. Beads of sweat ran down the back of my neck, making my hair stick to it.
As I was frantically looking around the suburbs of Atlanta for a way to escape, I didn’t notice the knocked down mail post right ahead of me. I stubbed my toe and an immense pain shot through my entire foot. I fell face first on the sidewalk.
The walking dead granted me no time to recover. Their continuous moaning behind me kept my adrenalin pumping. I spun around on the ground. I was stricken with fear as that wall of death just kept coming at me. I tried to get on my feet, but I couldn’t even manage that. I crawled backwards, desperate to get away from these monsters.
I screamed when I felt a hand firmly grabbing my shoulder. My screams were silenced by a loud blast. It made my ears ring. I looked to the side, seeing a pair of hands holding a glock. Whoever was holding it squeezes the trigger, releasing a bullet from the barrel and putting it in one of the walkers’ right eye and out of the back of his head. Blood and brain matter splattered over two of the dead guys behind him.
My mystery savior grabbed my arm and pulled me up. His grip hurt. I turned my head and looked at him. He looked like one slick bastard, his hair combed back with enough gel for the whole state of Georgia. He wore a navy police uniform.
“Come on, this way!” He yelled at me. I had no time to consider trusting this guy or not. I sprinted after him. He turned left, I did the same. He ran up to a large abandoned parking lot. The sign above the big store in the middle of it read ‘Johnny Boy’s Food ‘N’ Supplies’.
Slick knocked on the door with the palm of his hand, shouting at whoever was inside to ‘open the fuck up’. It felt like ages before that door finally flew open. I took not even a single second to hesitate and rushed straight inside, passing Slick.
There were six people inside, as far as I could tell. The one who opened the door wore a red and white trucker hat and sported a graying beard. The second guy who caught my eye was the biggest black guy I had ever seen. He must have been on steroids, taking shit meant for horses. He didn’t scare me as much as the other guy there, though. His black eyebrows were contracted into a permanent frown, with a scar running sideways through his right one. There were two women in the store, one young brunette with pronounced cheekbones and her hair in a ponytail and a middle aged blonde with short hair. All the way in the back, seated on a stool, was a senior citizen. He had to be at least in his mid-sixties.
“Jack, who is this?” The redneck looking one asked Slick.
“No time,” he responded quickly, “we got incoming! Lower the shutters!”
The redneck looking one muttered ‘oh, shit’ before he reached into his pockets. He pulled out a bundle of keys and inserted it into a keyhole situated on the wall next to the door. He turned it and the shutters began to slowly descend, gradually covering the store in darkness.
The rest backed up, far away down the aisles. I didn’t know what to do, so I followed their lead. The silence was a nerve wrecking one. There I was, trapped in some pitch black general supplies store with six complete strangers, impatiently awaiting my death. Every second that passed by felt like hours. Every time the pointer on the clock moved forward, it rings as loudly in my ear as that gunshot.
The walkers have begun to savagely beat against the shutters. I couldn’t see them, but the thought of them being out there scared the living hell out of me. Shivers ran down my spine. I looked to my left and saw the big black guy brandishing an aluminum baseball bat. I could see every single muscle move in his massive forearm.
Suddenly, there was a different noise outside. It sounded like a many motor cross bikes. Whatever it was, it made the walkers give up on banging on our door and go after them instead.
The redneck turned an oil lamp on. He lifted his hat off his head to wipe the sweat from his forehead. “What the fuck, Jack? The hell were ya thinkin’, leadin’ ‘em right to us?!”
“Hey, there were chasing this kid. I couldn’t let them eat him.”
“Thanks for that,” I said, “I’m Daniel Grant, by the way.” I introduced myself.
“And you couldn’t come back here without making a straight beeline?” The scary guy with the scar asked while staying somewhat in the background.
Jack turned in place to face the man. The way the two men stared at one another, I got the feeling they did not get along well. “No, there wasn’t time to think about another way.”
“Then you shouldn’t have done anything.”
The black guy tapped the scary guy’s shoulder with the back of his hand, an offended and surprised look on his face. “The fuck’s wrong with you, motherfucker? Remind me not be near yo ass when shit’s goin’ down.”
“Guys, calm down,” the blonde woman intervened, “be happy we’re all still alive, okay?” She walked up to me and reached her hand out in a manner for me to shake it. I grabbed her hand. “Hey, Daniel. I’m Lucy. That is my daughter-in-law, Madison.” She nudged her head at the young Brunette. I waved at her, still kind of in shock of what just happened. “The elderly man is her grandfather, Ed. The three of us went shopping in Atlanta when it happened. We’re from Macon originally. You already know Jack. That’s ‘Johnny Boy’, the owner.”
The redneck stuck his hand out. “Please just call me Johnny.” We shook hands two times.
“The big gentleman is Tyrone. He might look tough but he’s a real sweetheart.”
Tyrone chuckled. “Ya gonna make me blush, Mrs. Jackson.” He said in a deep voice with a hint of both sarcasm and sincerity.
“And last but not least, that’s Jason,” she didn’t sound like she was a big fan of him, either, “don’t mind him. He just wants to stay alive.”
I smiled. “Don’t we all, madam. I’m just grateful Jack came along when he did.”
“Oh, that reminds me,” she spun around in place, “Jack, did you get the medicine?”
He nodded his head. “No, I’m sorry, Lucy. I didn’t make it to the pharmacy.”
“That’s alright, son,” Ed coughed in his hand before reaching down in his pocket with it and pulling out a plastic orange vial, “I got plenty, you don’t have to risk your life for me. I don’t want to be a burden.”
Madison took a knee before her grandfather. “Grampa, that won’t last you long. We need to get your pills. You have to take them daily.”
Ed took his granddaughter’s hand in his and rubbed it up and down with his thumb, not once not smiling at her. “Oh, pumpkin. You worry too much. This old man still got some fight left in him.”
“Why don’t you go get the medicine,” Jason said as he stared me down with his arms folded under his chest, “you’re the reason Jack didn’t get any in the first place. Make yourself useful.”
“I’ll go again, tomorrow,” Jack said before I could, “I’ll take him with me, if it’s that important to you. I shouldn’t have gone alone in the first place. Come along, kid. You’re probably hungry.”
He didn’t have to say more. I follow him out the store through a door in the back. It lead to the magazine. He slid a box out from under the racks and opened it. It was filled with canned foods. He handed me one. “Thanks.”
He smiled with the corner of his mouth and winked at me. “No problem, kid. We have a stove that way,” he pointed to a door on the left end of the magazine, “we use that to heat up food while it still works. Oh, and don’t mind Jason. He’s been an asshole ever since I met him when this happened a week ago.”
It was hard to believe that seemingly the whole state had fallen to this plague in just under a week. I thanked Jack again for the meal and the rescue. He called me ‘kiddo’ again before he walked away. I made my way to the stove. It was time to eat. I needed the energy.
The streets were quieter than the day before. Pleasant, warm rays of sunshine beamed down on my face. I took pleasure in the little things. The look on Jack’s face was serious. Even through his black shades I could see he was staring straight ahead at all times. He must have been hot in that long sleeved police uniform plus bullet proof vest. ‘Better to be protected and hot than cool and dead’, he said when I addressed him on the matter.
“It’s just a couple of blocks ahead now, kid,” Jack noted as he reached down in his pocket, “we need to find more of these,” he shook Ed’s pill bottle, making the small white pills inside rattle. He squinted his eyes to read the fine print on the label. “’Prednisone’,” he struggled to pronounce it, “he’s got an autoimmune disease. From what I understand he needs to take these pills daily to control it.”
“So, I gotta ask, what’s Jason’s deal? Is he always like that when there are new people around?” I waited the whole night to ask that question. Jason eyed me this morning before we left the entire time. Even more so when Johnny handed me one of his hunting knives to protect myself. It was unsettling.
Jack shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, kid. You’re the first living, breathing person we’ve seen since we holed up at Johnny’s. As for why he’s such a douchebag, well, he’s scared shitless. More than any one of us is.”
“I bet. What the hell is going on? At first I didn’t believe these things, these walkers, were actually dead.”
“Things will solve themselves out. The government can’t be gone. They’ll roll in any day now and save our asses.” He raised his fist in the air. I think that means ‘hold up’. “There’s the pharmacy. Three walkers roaming around the parking lot. They haven’t seen us yet. Good.”
“Can you take them out from here?” I asked, referring to the gun holstered on his hip.
Jack nodded. “Sure I could. But I’m not going to,” he said as he drew a knife out of the sheath strapped across his chest, “noise only draws more of them in. We are going in hot, kiddo. Remember: go for the head. Preferably the eyes.” My heart began to pound in my throat. I could barely breath. Just looking at the rotting corpses come back to life shambling around made me nervous. I felt like a gigantic pussy. Jack noticed. “Just follow my lead, kid. I’ll go first.”
Jack was the complete opposite of who I was. He was confident, strong and it showed in the way he approached to those walkers. The first walker to notice him used to be a lady. She was wearing a tattered pink dress. She was missing her nose and her right cheek. Bitten off. Jack wasn’t deterred. He grabbed her hair, held her head back and thrust the knife through her left eye, deep into her brain. She collapsed. I could hear her skull break as it hit the concrete.
The other two walkers were men. One bald guy with his left forearm missing and a young guy. He looked like he was my age when he died. He was missing a large chunk of his neck. They staggered towards us, clumsily leaning forwards so their mouths would be as close as possible to us.
Jack punched the hood of a parked car with his fist, distracting the bald walker. It nearly tripped, but somehow managed to correct his footing which gave him a speed boost. It forced Jack to take a few quick steps back.
The young walker made a beeline straight for me. I held the knife clenched between both hands. I tried but couldn’t lift my feet. I was frozen in fear. I yelled as its diseased hands got a hold of my shoulders. Without thinking, I covered my face with my arms.
Jack seemingly came out of nowhere and tackled the walker with his shoulder, sending it flying onto the pavement. He put his foot on its chest like an old timey boxer would after defeating his opponent. He stood over it for a little while as it stretched its arms out, trying to grab him. He dragged his free hand down from his forehead to his chin before he took the knife with both hands and rammed it right between the walker’s eyes. He turned to me. “You’ll learn it eventually, kid.” He said.
My heart was still racing as I held the door to the pharmacy open for him. A bell rang when he walked inside.
“Prednisone, prednisone,” Jack muttered to himself as he walked through an aisle, inspecting the goods on the shelves.
After minutes of searching, I soon came to the realization that these drugs were not in the store itself. “They must be behind the counter.”
“You’re probably right.” Jack replied. He slowly walked up to the counter. His footsteps were clearly herd throughout the empty store.
A man suddenly popped out from behind the counter, brandishing a shotgun. He aimed it right at Jack. The man wore thick glasses and looked nerdy. “Don’t come any closer!” His voice sounded less like a man making a stand, and more like a last desperate act. “Just get out of here!”
I immediately put my hand up in surrender. Jack had raised his as well, holding them out in front of him. “Sir, we’re not here to hurt you. We need medicine for a friend. Give it to use, and we’ll be on our way. We promise.”
“I don’t believe a word you say! I’m not going to let you steal my stuff again! Go find something else to get high on!”
“Sir, I’m a cop,” Jack carefully tapped with a finger on the badge pinned to his chest, “I could never hurt an innocent man. Put. The gun. Down.”
The shotgun shook in the man’s hand as Jack refused to back down. A little head popped out from under the counter. It was a little boy. “Daddy, I don’t think they are mean like the other guys. They want to help their friend like you wanted to help mommy.”
A tear rolled down his cheek. As his lip began to quiver he lowered his gun and laid it down on the counter. He let out a deep, defeated sigh. “I’m sorry, officer. The last people who came here were some punks on motor cross bikes. They threatened me and my boy if we didn’t give them ‘the good stuff’.”
“We’re not like that. I’m Jack.”
“And I’m Daniel.” I introduced myself as well.
“Viktor,” the man said with newfound trust, “and this is my son, Luke. What medicine do you need?”
Jack pulled the bottle out of his pocket to look at the name of the drugs again. “Prednisone.”
“That’s in the storage room. Those punks stole my keys but they didn’t know about the backup keys I had stashed in my office.” Viktor disappears through a door in the back. He re-emerges moments later with a small cardboard box. “Here you go.”
Jack took the box from the counter, “thank you very much,” he said as he handed it to me for carrying.
“Listen,” Viktor began, “it’s not safe here at my store anymore. Those punks could come back here at any moment. Can I, I mean we, come with you?”
Jack and I exchanged glances. I didn’t see why he couldn’t come with us. “Sure,” Jack answered, “we’re in this together. Come and meet the rest.”
Back at Johnny Boy’s store, we were met with Jason’s scorn right away. “Jack, who the fuck did you bring along this time?”
“Viktor and Luke,” I answered in Jack’s stead, “we met them at the pharmacy. Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten these meds.”
“He got a kid, man,” Tyrone told Jason, “don’t be an asshole ‘n’ let ‘em in.”
Jason glared at the two newcomers like only he could. The scarred eyebrow and the black beard only made him all the more intimidating. “Fine then, come in and make yourselves at home. But, everybody, know this, “ his booming voice drew a crowd around him, “there’s nine of us now. I did some calculations today, and with responsible rationing we could eat for six months without running out of food. That was when there were only seven of us. And now, there are two more mouths to feed, which either means we need to ration our food more strict, or we don’t have enough for six months. We’re not letting anyone else in, nor are we going to just hand out food to every Dick, John and Carl who happen to pass by and ask for supplies. We need to be able to sit this thing out here, and not starve before the army gets shit under control again. Is that clear?”
“Well, you ain’t in charge here, Jason,” Johnny objected, “we can make our own goddamn decisions.”
“I’m not here to win a popularity contest and make friends, John. I will enforce this rule, even if that makes me the most hated man here. And that’s all I’m going to say about it,” he turned to face Viktor and his son, “welcome to the family.”
We sat around a campfire in the store Johnny made in an empty barrel. We closed the shutters so the flames wouldn’t attract any attention. The heat from the fire was a comforting warmth on my face. Luke couldn’t stop staring into the fire with childlike wonder, no matter how many times his father told him not to.
“Dad, I’m still hungry.” Luke said, looking up at Viktor with sad eyes.
“I’m sorry, Luke. We’ve had everything we’re going to get today.”
The flickering flames reflected in Luke’s eyes as they began to fill with tears. Viktor wanted to answer his son honestly, but he choked up. Jason looked sideways, away from the couple, before he got on one knee and looked Luke in the eye. “Luke, listen. We don’t have much food here. If we want to have food for a long time, we can’t eat it now. But you’ll get to eat tomorrow morning again.”
Lucy rummaged around in her purse. She pulled out an action doll, still wrapped in its original packaging. “Here, Lukey,” she said as she handed it to him, “you can have this. I bet you’ll forget about being hungry in no time,” she smiled, “my nephew loved these. He always forgot his problems by just playing with his dolls.”
Madison twirled her hair around her index finger. Her expression was worried, and frowning like she was contemplating something in her head all the time. “I hope we get to see him and everyone else again soon.”
Ed rubbed her back, smiling at her like a proud parent. “Don’t worry, Maddie. I’ve gone through a lot of bad things in my life. This country has gone through a lot. Watch: the army will take us back to Macon and everyone we know will be waiting there.”
“Grampa, you can’t really believe that,” Madison was on the verge of breaking down in tears but she held strong, “I mean, what the f- hell is going on? There are dead people, dead, just walking around and eating living people.”
Ed’s smile faded. He scratched the bald spot on his head. “Oh, I don’t believe those people outside are really dead. They can’t be. They’re just sick and we’re all lucky to be immune, or infected.”
“I hate to break this to you.” Jack said, chewing on a piece of gum. He said it keeps the hunger cravings away. “I really do, but those ‘people’ out there, aren’t people. One of them, it tore out one of my colleague’s throat when we responded to an emergency. He bled to death in seconds. No heartbeat, not breathing, no nothin’. Then, when I had my back turned to him, I heard gurgling behind. I thought he was alive. I turned around and there I am, staring right into my ‘dead’ friend’s mouth,” Jack emulated a gun with his index finger and thumb, “I double tapped him in the chest,” Jack pretends to fire his hand gun twice, “it was like he didn’t even feel it. He’d grabbed me and barely got a bite out of me. I didn’t know what else to do, so I pressed my gun under his chin and pulled the trigger. Only then did he drop dead. Even so it still took me a few minutes to be completely sure of it.”
Ed lightly shook his head, mouthing the words ‘my god’. “I’m sorry you had to go through that, son.”
Viktor looked worriedly over at Luke, who luckily hadn’t heard a single word of Jack’s story. He was playing with the doll Lucy gave him. He was pretending the doll was Superman, making whooshing noise as he swished the doll through the air making it look like it was flying.
“Damn, boy,” Johnny said, “I feel lucky I ain’t got to go through anything like that. I was here when some creepy, junkie looking weirdos started bangin’ on my door, growling ‘n’ shit. Jason and I just locked the door and kept out of sight. They went away after a while.”
“I think you and us were the luckiest,” Lucy said, circling in the air around Madison and Ed, “we hit someone in the car on our way back to Macon. Turned out he was dead before we hit him. He wasn’t old when he died. He was maybe sixteen? It still makes me sad whenever I think about it. But anyway, our car wouldn’t start after so we went looking for help over here and found you two holding down the fort.”
“It was about time I had some luck,” Johnny said with a hint of sarcasm, “I’ma be honest with y’all, this store wasn’t makin’ much of a profit.”
“Ya will miss your failure of a sto’,” Tyrone quipped as he twists his baseball bat in his hands, “I miss ma granny’s dinners. Every time after work, I go ‘n’ play baseball with some of my homies. I just loved to have some fun after workin’ construction all day,” I felt a sense of nostalgia as Tyrone took a quick glance at the bat in his hands, “and on Fridays, I’da always go to granny’s house for dinner. She made the greatest casseroles,” he kissed the tips of his fingers like an Italian, “she had heart problems, though. She took pills for ‘em. So I visited her last week, like I always do. She always let the door open for me, so I let myself in without knockin’. Normally, the house woulda smelled of freshly baked casserole. Not this time, though. I thought someone mighta broken in ‘n’ locked her away or somethin’. So I didn’t make a peep. I heard somethin’ hissing behind me, like cats do, only much more, I dunno, unsettlin’. I turned around ‘n’ there she was, standing right between me and the door.”
Viktor glanced one more time at Luke. He was running up and down the aisle, making ‘Superman’ save the world. He had a lot of energy for such a hungry boy. “How’d you get out?” Viktor asked. Tyrone tapped the baseball bat in the palm of his left hand a couple of times. He didn’t need any words to explain himself. “Oh.” Viktor said before he returned his attention to his son.
“Wait,” Jason’s eyes grew wide, “did you see another walker in the house? Or just her?”
“I don’ think so. She musta had a heart attack or somethin’. She had one before but we got her to the hospital on time.”
“Holy shit,” Jason’s face contorted into the same expression kids have when they find out Santa isn’t real, “you don’t even need to be bitten,” he remarked to no one but himself, “she died of a heart attack and turned. If there was a bite you would have seen it, and it doesn’t make any sense for a walker to just leave a prey without taking at least one bite.”
I couldn’t believe it. “So, if one of us died in our sleep-“
“-We’d have a ticking timebomb among us.” Jason finished my sentence, glaring at Ed all the while.
“Son,” Ed said without the friendly undertones, “if what you’re saying is true, you don’t have to worry about me. As long as I have my medicine, my disease is under control.”
Madison didn’t appreciate Jason’s snide insinuations. She got up from her chair. “You stay away from him, you son of a bitch!” She yelled.
Madison’s warning left Jason unfazed. His eyebrows returned to their permanent frown. “All I’m saying is that he is sleeping in a separate room. When something happens to him, the rest of us is safe.”
“If something happens to him,” she angrily corrected him, “we’re not going to stand for this. You’re not the leader.”
Tyrone fumbled around with his baseball bat. “He has a point, Maddie,” he said finally, “I mean, it ain’t a big chance, but it is possible.”
Viktor pushed his glasses up his nose. He was sweating a little. “I mean no disrespect, but I’ve got my son here. And if this thing really works like Jason thinks it does, I think this is the safest thing to do.”
For the first time ever, Madison turned her attention to me. “Do you agree with this, new guy?”
“My name is Daniel,” I tried not to sound offended, because I was not, but the expression she had on her face told me I’d failed, “And I was chased here by a herd of walkers. I know how dangerous they can be when they’re many or unexpected.”
Johnny took off his cap and rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess he could sleep in the office in storage. All we need to do is close the door. Ain’t no need to lock it. We ain’t animals.”
Jack shrugged his shoulder. “That sounds fair enough to me. It’s nothing personal, Ed. But we got to think about ourselves, too.”
“Ho, now,” Lucy objected with her hands flat out in front of her like she was trying to push us all away, “do you hear yourselves? Locking someone up because he tiny chance that he might be a threat for reasons that are out of his control?”
Johnny held his had up to his chest like a kid who feels bad about knocking down mom’s expensive vase. “I ain’t locking the door, I swear, miss.”
Madison threw her hands up. “Fuck you guys, then! I’m not leaving him alone at night. You coming, Lucy?”
“Where are you going?” Jason asked.
“If you want to separate him from us, you’ll have to separate all three of us.”
Jason shrugged and let his hands fall on his knees. “If that’s the way you want it.”
Madison stormed off. Lucy took Ed under her arm and walked him out of the room. “The things we gotta do.” I sighed.
06 February 2014 - 08:05 PM
I made my way through the storage room to where Madison and her family spent the night. I couldn’t help but sympathize with those people, having to separate themselves from the rest of us and sleep on a cold, hard floor. There were two cans of food in my hands.
I decided to be polite and knock on the door first. I didn’t wait for an answer to turn the handle and open it. “Hey. I got you some breakfast.”
Madison ignored me. She turned her head in the other direction. Lucy smiled at me and took the cans from me. “Thanks, Danny. It’s appreciated.” She turned around too so she could cook the food on the stove.
“How are you feeling, sir?” I asked Ed.
He laughed. “You don’t have to be so polite, son. Call me ‘Ed’. I’m doing just fine. Jason is worried about nothing.”
Lucy grabbed two pots from the pantry. She turned a switch on the stove, expecting the gas to turn on. She reared her head with a puzzled and confused expression. “I don’t hear any gas,” she said as she got closer to the stove, “I don’t smell any either. Am I doing something wrong?”
“Did you turn it all the way open?” Ed asked while he took a closer look himself.
She turned every single other knob in an attempt to get it to work. “Yes, all of them.”
I pressed the button that spawns the spark to light the gas on fire. The spark worked just fine, but nothing else happened. “It worked for me a couple of days ago. Shit, do you think the gas is out?”
Lucy’s confusion faded from her expression and was replaced by worry. “I think it is. That’s not good.”
“I’ll go tell the others.” I said and walked away. Johnny had just been raising the shutters as I came into the store. “Guys, the gas is out.”
“Fo’ real,” Tyrone asked with a can of meat already opened and fork in hand, “damn, that sucks. Guess it had to happen sometime. This been going on for like two weeks or somethin’. Ain’t no one working at that gas company no more.”
Jason kept his cool. He stroked his beard while he thought. “We’ll just have to cook our food on an open fire, then. Jack, could you go get some firewood?”
“And where should I get that from?”
“Ya could chop up the desk in my office, I suppose,” Johnny suggested while he kept his key locked in the keyhole that raised the shutters, “got a fire axe in the back.”
The shutters are raised all the way up. I enjoyed the sun on my face like I always did. Only this time, a sense of terror overcame me when I opened my eyes. Walkers were scattered about outside. They roamed around, seemingly without a cause. Their skin seemed to rot more in the hot sun. Their collective moans sounded like low hums that chilled me to the bone.
“Stay quiet,” Jack said in a forced whisper as a drop of sweat rolls down his temple, “John, close the damn store.”
Viktor pushed his son back. “Stay away from the windows.” He said in a low voice.
Johnny’s hand shook out of his control while he reached for the key. He turned it fast. The shutters descended slowly. I had never paid much attention to the noise, but it seemed louder this time around. Every second that passed felt like we were one step closer to death. Then one of them reared its head in our direction and my heart sank. It growled and began to march towards the store. He passed an undead woman on the way over. She watched him pass and followed him. The flung themselves against the store window and clawed at it. The squeaking of their hands being dragged down the glass sent shivers down my spine.
Finally, the shutters closed completely. I could still hear them drag their hands across the glass outside. It became louder. They increased in numbers.
“Holy shit,” Tyrone tried hard to keep his voice down, “where the fuck did they come from? They wasn’t here yesterday!”
Jason shook his head, like he didn’t want to believe this happened. “From the city. Where else? Johnny, is there a way out the back?”
Johnny ducked behind the register. “Yeah, in the storage room,” he answered while he rummaged through stuff underneath the counter, “why? You wanna go out there?”
“We need to assess the area, find out how many of them are out there right now. We need to get rid of them before they break in.”
Johnny rose back to his feet with a wooden baseball bat in hand. “I’ll show y’all. There’s a ladder up to the roof. Ain’t no need for y’all to risk your life on the street.”
Johnny opened the door to the storage room. Jason followed him. Jack and I came along as well. My curiosity got the better of me, and I would feel much safer on high ground.
“Jason, we need to talk.” Madison said when she saw him enter the room.
“Not right now,” Jason said while Johnny tinkered with the lock, “we’ve got bigger problems.”
Madison raised her eyebrows as her eyes opened wide with concern. “What? What’s wrong?”
The lock clicked. Johnny pushed the door open slowly. He poked his head outside and looked left and right. “We good. Come on.”
Madison’s question was left unanswered. She came after us to find an answer. Johnny turned left and grabbed on to a ladder attached to the wall. We climbed up. The streets were full of walkers. They all shuffled around in different directions without a purpose. I glanced down at the ones at the store entrance. One of them looked up, straight at me. I thought I saw my reflection in its dead eyes. It growled and began to reach above its head. I jumped back and tripped over my own feet.
Madison offered me her hand. “Why are they here now?” She asked as she helped me up.
“They got to be running out of food in the city,” Jack said, hand raised above his eyes to protect them from the sun, “which probably means that there are no survivors left in Atlanta. Damn.”
Jason squinted. He saw something off in the distance. “Maybe not in the city,” he murmured, “over there, on the roof.”
I looked where Jason was looking. About two blocks away was a two story building with a flat roof. It seemed to be an office building. Someone stood on the roof, waving their arms left and right as they tried to get our attention. Jason raised his hand to acknowledge them. Whoever was on the roof quickly exited it. After a few minutes, I heard engines being revved up. It was subtle, at first, but became louder as the dirt bikes drove closer to us.
The walkers were drawn to the guys racing loudly through the street. They forgot all about the store and turned around to pursue the bikes. It didn’t even occur to them that they could never catch up to them.
Three of the drivers separated from the rest. They drove around the block and came up to us. They shut their engines off. They took their helmets off. They were just regular people. Three young men in their twenties. The man in the middle was blond while the other two had brown hair. “Hey, there,” the one in the middle greeted us, “you guys all right?”
“As good as we can be,” Jack replied, “thanks for the distraction.”
“Hey, no problem, man,” the guy’s smile was inviting and left a kind impression, “say, how are you guys doing on food in there? I don’t want to guilt trip you or anything, but we just saved your asses and we don’t have much food left ourselves.”
Jason casually stepped in front of Jack. “Why don’t you wait for us to come down so we can talk eye to eye?”
The guy nodded and agreed. As I went down the ladder, I heard Jason address Jack at the top. “Keep your gun ready, in case you have to.”
Johnny raised the shutters and opened the front door. The guys outside had put their bikes on their stands and gotten off them. The blond guy held his helmet pressed between his arm and side. Luke screamed at the sight of his face. He ducked behind his father. “Go away!” He yelled. “You’re bad!”
Viktor held his son’s shoulders behind his back. “I remember you! You raided my pharmacy, smashed it up! You threatened me and my boy!”
“Did you?” Jason asked.
The guy’s smile disappeared. “Sir, I’m really sorry for doing that, honestly. You have to believe me. We were all stressed out because of what’s happened and we wanted to relax. We just kinda snapped when you said ‘no’. It wasn’t personal.”
“When you threaten my son you make it personal.”
He raised both hands with the palms facing us. “We’re sorry, okay? We weren’t thinking straight. Let’s start over. I’m Graham. The guy to my left is Peter and the one to my right is Michael.”
Jason and Jack stepped outside. The rest of us stayed inside, watching them with uncertainty. “And I’m Jason and this is Jack,” Jack tipped his head, “and while I do understand your plight, I’m going to be blunt with you: we do not share. We’re strict about our rationing and we can’t spare any. We don’t have much to begin with.”
“But you got a whole store full,” Michael said, “you got plenty.”
“There’s also nine people to feed,” Jason retorted, “food runs out quick. You’ll have to look elsewhere.”
Graham folded his arms. He sighed. “We did save you from getting mauled to death. You can’t spare anything for that, just once?”
Jason shook his head, hands folded in front of him. “No. Thank you for what you did for us, but we are not giving you anything.”
I heard a click behind me. I turned around. Viktor had grabbed the shotgun he brought from the pharmacy. Our eyes met. I shook my head. “Put that down,” I whispered, “don’t let them see you with it.”
“We could stand here arguing all day,” Jack said outside, “but that’s not going to get you any food. Go look for some yourself. Move along.”
Michael and Peter opened the bags on their bikes. Michael retrieved a switchblade from it and Peter a garden machete. Graham approached Jack briskly. “Hey! You’re not the law anymore, officer. You can’t tell us to ‘move along’ anymore. You don’t know what we had to do out here, man! Give us some fucking food-“
Jack unholstered his pistol. He pointed it at Graham. He made him stop dead in his tracks. “I said move along, boy. Don’t make me shoot you. Things will get back to the way they were soon. You can’t enjoy that when you’re dead.”
Graham backed up while his two cronies are frozen in place. He got on his bike and revved the engine. “Fuck you!” He yelled before he took off at great speed. The tires left a black trail on the concrete.
“They’re going to be back,” Viktor said as Jack and Jason walk back inside, “they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
“I noticed,” Jack put his gun back in its holster, “we’ve got to arm ourselves. All we have is my pistol and that shotgun you brought. I have only one clip on backup. I don’t suppose you brought extra shells?”
“No.” Viktor sighed. He sounded regretful of that. “So, what do we do?”
“The police station,” Jack suggested, “we go there and grab whatever is left. I know the way. Kid, I need someone who’s fast on his feet. You’re coming with me.”
I skipped a breath. “I don’t know-“
“Kid, you outran a herd of walkers for God knows how long. I need someone I can trust to make it back here with the weapons.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll come along.”
“I’ll come with ya too,” Tyrone offered, “y’all need someone strong to carry alotta shit.”
Jack grinned approvingly. “We could also need someone who can knock a couple of heads together.”
“And I’ll watch your backs,” Jason said with one hand on the hilt and the other at the end of his baseball bat, “we need those guns.”
“Viktor, it’s best that I take your shotgun with me,” Jack said with his arm stretched out, “I know how to use it.”
“What are we supposed to protect ourselves with?” Madison asked. She shifted her weight from one leg to the other. She looked scared.
Jack took his gun back out of its holster. “Does anyone here know how to use this?”
Ed reached out and took the gun from Jack’s hand. Jack stared back at him, confused. “I’ve served my country for two decades. I can still hit a bird in a tree from a hundred yards away.” He stuck the barrel of the gun between his belt and pants.
Jack nodded his head. I could tell he had respect for the man by the way he looked at him. “John, you keep those shutters closed. I’m taking the key to the back door. We’ll be back as soon as possible.”
07 February 2014 - 01:06 PM
Yep. That's the strategy I would definitely use to get revenge on the store people for not giving up any of their supplies. Drive them out and take what supplies are left. Let's see if That Guy has other plans! Also, I think that the store people need to hit the road. That location just doesn't seem that safe.They may not have vehicles though. I'll have to check back in the story on that.
21 April 2014 - 04:18 PM
Well, no need to catch up on this one. I'm not finishing it. With the end of 'A Whole New World' I'm quitting writing.
Aww, sad face. Will you still be lurking on the fanfiction site? I can't tell you how much your input means to me on my writing. I'm sure other budding writers can say the same.
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