Archive for October, 2016

Randy set two bags filled with boxes of medications and bottles pills on the counter and added.  “If you’re not too tired, old man, you could carry this to the front of the store.”

“Fuck you.”  John snarled.  “Be sure to pick up laxatives, you’re a real shit head.”

John noticed a stack of plastic totes at the side of the aisle and opened the lid.  It was filled with of variety of “over the counter” medications.  He sat down the bags and turned to add several boxes and bottles to the container. When he had cleared the shelf, he moved down the aisle to add cough syrups, and pain relievers. He pulled the bags behind him as he added bandages, tapes, and Band-Aids.  When the tote was full, he balanced the bags on top and pulled it to the door.

He opened the door pushed the spoils through the opening.  He let the door close and took the bags to the back of the truck and tossed them into the back.  He returned to pick up the tote and carried it to the truck and hefted it into the bed.

John hurried back inside and used the left aisle to return back to the pharmacy.  Randy and Miguel had stacked two more bags on the counter.  John called out.  “I’m cleaning out shampoos and soaps and disinfectants.”

He found two more totes at the side of display cases.  One of the containers was empty while the other was filled with half a dozen bands of shampoos and personal care products.  He again cleared the shelves then gave it a shove toward the front of the store.  He took the second tote to a section of shelving that displayed cleaning products, dish soap, laundry soap, and alcohol. With still room in the tote he added half a dozen packages of cloth baby diapers.

Just as Miguel hurried down the aisle toward him, John snapped the lid closed and turned to carry the container toward the first still sitting several feet from the door. Suddenly shots rang out from outside.

“Got trouble! Gotta go NOW!” Pablo yelled.

“Fuck!” Randy came up behind John.  “Move it old man!”

Randy stepped around John, transferring the bag from his right hand to his left.  His left shoulder sagged under the weight of both bags but he kept moving as he raced around Miguel and charged through the door. He aimed and fired at two infected approaching from behind the front of the truck.

Miguel imitated Randy’s actions and charged through the door leaving John to either drop the totes or hope he could load the totes while the other two men took care of the threat.

“Gotta go!” Randy yelled as he tossed his bags into the back of the truck.

Miguel tossed one of the bags into the bed and turned to fire twice.  The first shot went wild but the second shot took out a man dressed in a tattered, blood spattered sports shirt.  He tossed the second bag over the side into the truck bed.

Carrying both totes, John shuffled to the side of the truck dropped both containers with a grunt.  He grabbed the top container and hefted the tote with the bottles of liquids into the bed. John glanced over his shoulder and realized a swarm of infected was spilling from the school.

“Load up, Pablo. Move out!”  Randy ordered. “Harry move out! NOW!”

Both vehicles began to move.

He pulled open the driver’s door of the truck and pushed Miguel. Toward it.  “Get in and slide over.”  He turned back to John. “Forget it! Get in back old man and hang on!”

John tossed the tote into the bed and stepped on the bumper get in the back when Randy cranked the engine.  And infected rounded the bed of the truck and grabbed at John’s leg.

Randy slammed the truck into gear and accelerated sending John sprawling across the pile of plastic bags.  John’s leg jerked free of the infected as he went down.

John rolled over and slammed his hand against the window.  He rolled off the bags and pulled his revolver free from its holster.  He pulled himself into a sitting position and aimed at an infected woman in a pair of shorts and the remains of a halter top.

The infected woman’s bare middle had been torn and ripped open.  Loops of intestines dangled around her knees. Her face was twisted into an angry snarl while her teeth snapped and her arms reached over the side of the truck.

John fired.  His first shot skimmed the side of her face taking her left eye and a narrow patch of hair.  His second shot caught her in the middle of the face. Three more shots took out the closest threat and the pickup sped away leaving the rambling herd began losing interest.

John shifted a tote to a place behind the cab and settled down to reload his revolver.

Two miles from Dell, Pablo and Harry slowed and moved to the side of the road to let Randy catch up.  When Randy pulled up alongside the camper, Harry called out. “Everyone okay?  Harry?”

Randy laughed as he hiked a thumb over his should toward John.  “That’s a pretty useless old man.”

After rooting around in one of the totes, John vaulted from the back of the truck.  “Fuck you, asshole.” He stomped to the back of the camper to find Liz standing at the door.

She pulled him inside and into a tight hug.  “God, I thought I was going to lose you.”

John shrugged free and scowled at the dog.  “This place smells like dog shit.” He tossed a bottle of shampoo to Cody. “Do something about that mutt; if you’re gonna keep him, kid.”

Everyone laughed as Randy pulled out and Harry guided the camper back on the highway.

Randy led the caravan of two pickup trucks and the camper rumbled toward the opposite end of town.  The veterinary office had made a good haul but as Randy argued when it came to medications, they needed as much as they could lay their hands on.

“Damn, that dog stinks.”  John echoed what all the adults were thinking.

“Make sure everything is battened down.  I don’t like the looks of the school ahead.  Something is wrong.” Harry groused.

“We’re good.” Liz turned to Cody and Trace. “You two stay put and hang on to the dog.  If something happens, we don’t want to be tripping over him.”

The closer the camper got the school the slower Randy got.  He tapped the breaks twice and Harry slowed the camper.

Harry’s head swiveled from left to right as he growled. “Something is wrong. There’s a body trapped at the front of that truck.  Is that a body moving inside the cab?”

John leaned out the window to get a better look and quickly pulled his head back inside. “Smells really bad around here. I think this is a mistake.”

Randy stopped the truck at the front of the drug store and slammed it into part.  He jerked open his door and hurried to the side of the camper.

“Park here and stay inside. There’s dead in that damned in the truck driven in the side of the school.  I think it’s blocked the entrance and if I had to guess, it’s full of infected. I’m getting Pablo to pull up and protect our flank while Miquel and I check out the pharmacy.”

“Are you sure it’s worth it?” Harry asked.  “We can just move on.  We got drugs.”

“We have folks that need specific drugs.”  Randy argued. “We’re just going to sweep the drugs into bags. Ten minutes, in and out.”

“Then I’m coming. Be that much faster” John added from the passenger seat.

“Fine, I’ll tell Pablo and then we’ll be right there.” Randy answered as he hurried toward the second truck.  A moment later

John rose and called out. “Lizzy, hand me the box of trash bags.”  Liz did as she was asked and John opened the door and stepped outside.

Pablo pulled the second truck up to cover the three men going into the drug store.  Both men raised guns and watch the street ahead and the school.

“I’m going to watch the back.”  Liz announced. “You kids sit tight.” She disappeared down the hall with a rifle in hand and climbed on the bed to watch out the back window.

Randy led John and Miguel to the pharmacy door.  He cupped his hand at the side of his face to peer inside.  Without lights, the store was a collage of shadows and worrisome dark shapes. Randy jammed the crowbar between the door and the doorframe. He leaned into the rounded end and the lock snapped. The door popped open.

The strong smell of death wafted from the depths of the store.  Randy stumbled back into Miguel and cursed.

“Dead inside.”

“Sure as I can be.”  Randy righted himself and reached for the door.  “I take left, Miguel right. John, come down the center aisle. Pharmacy looks to be at the back of the store.”

John started to protest, but then just shrugged. “You’re running the show, soldier.  I got some trash bags. Lead the way.”  He clutched his machete tighter.

Randy pulled the door open.  He and with Miguel each stepped into the building.  The stench wafted out assaulting the three men.  John’s breath caught and he grimaced but followed Randy and Miguel into the shadows. Light filtered through three narrow windows along the sides of the building.

John got to the front of the aisle and saw Randy disappear down the left passageway.  He looked to the right and saw Miguel’s head moving down the corridor. John moved forward one step at a time.  The center aisle was shrouded in shadows with the floor cluttered with a display ten feet ahead.

John squinted, trying to see into the gloom ahead of him.  Was that movement? He stepped forward two steps and paused to take a LED flashlight from his pocket.  A dark shadow grew from behind the display. He flicked the light on.

“Hey, bring the bags.  Pharmacy is empty.  Let’s get this cleared out and get outta here.”  Randy called out.

John answered. “I think I know where that smell came from.”

“Do you need some help?” Randy asked.

“I got this.”  He tossed the roll of plastic bags toward the back of the aisle.

John raised the machete and stepped toward a little man with a bloodied bandage hanging from his arm. John moved the light from the waving strip of gauze up the arm to the face gray with death.  The eyes sockets were dark and sunken while the eyes had lost all natural color and were clouded with a white film. The mouth opened in an angry snarl.

The infected man stumbled into the display and tumbled to the floor.  As he struggled to get to his feet, John crossed the last few feet and raised the machete over his head.  He slammed it down with a violet crack.  The blade hit bone at the front of the man’s upturned head and reverberated up Johns arm.

The body slid back to the floor taking the blade with it.  John shook his arm then grasped the handle of the blade. He stepped on the side of the man’s head and pulled the machete free. With a final sweep of the flashlight, John headed for the pharmacy at the back of the store.

Randy and Miquel had both entered the pharmacy and were clearing shelves.  Randy glanced up and commented.  “If you’re done playing around old man, we could use your help.”

“Someone had to take care of the infected before he bit you two in the ass.”  John groused.

Doc chuckled.  “She’s a little prickly.”

“You’re telling me,”  Matt answered with a crooked smile.  “I guess in her eyes I deserve it.”

Doc raised a gray, bushy, eyebrow. “And how did that happen.”

“Got myself in trouble and she had to come save my ass.  It’s a long story, but this shit, the infected, well, I saw it once before.  I was on a team that slipped into Iran about a year and a half ago. They had a bio-lab.  There was an accident.  They bombed the place and only a few of us made it back.  I got to drinking too much. Now, I’m having a problem without the booze.”

“Ah, that explains some things.”

“I got something that will help with that.” Doc offered.  “I have to get into my car.  Can I borrow the flashlight?”

Matt handed over the small cylinder with a trembling hand.

Tate walked into the store room where the collection of women sat quietly around a Formica table.  Red, puffing on a cigarette nodded at her arrival.

“Feel better?”  She asked.

“Smell better for sure.  What did they bring in the boxes?  Anything good?” Tate asked as she finger combed her hair back from her face.

Theresa pushed a cutting board, with a round of sausage and wedge of cheese, across the table.  “We found crackers in a case back here.  There’s soda and Lone Star.”  She made a gagging noise and everyone laughed.

Red pointed to a bench a few feet away.  There sat a hot plate with an old style percolator with steam wafting from the spout.  “Coffee, if you’d rather. I’m not making any promises; I’ve never used one of those before.”

Tate shrugged and poured a cup of strong black sludge.  “It’ll be fine.  I’m used to Starbuck’s French.”

Everyone laughed.

She settled on a stool, used the knife to cut slices of cheese and sausage.  She stuck the first piece in her mouth and began chewing.  After she swallowed she asked.  “So who’s who here?”

Helen smiled.  “You know Red and Theresa.”  She pointed at a blonde to her left. “This is Marge, Jackie is wearing the black shirt then glanced toward the youngest of the group and added.  That is Lori, and her sister Jennifer.”

“It’s good to meet you.” Tate brought the cup to lips. “Sorry we couldn’t have done more.”

Hellen shook her head. “You did what you could.”

“Those assholes did what they did and we have to live with it.”  Red added. “Where are we going?”

“Maybe we can take you back to where you were?”  Tate said.

Theresa gasped. “There’s nothing there except the dead. Those bastards burned the houses. They wanted to make sure we’d have nothing to go back to if we tried to escape.”

Tate nodded.  “Sorry.” She busied herself cutting more cheese and sausage. Finally, she continued without looking up. “We have a camp. We have soldiers. And kids.”  Tate looked up smiling slightly as she realized she referred to the place as if it belonged to her.  “Lots of kids. Oh, and even a pregnant lady.”

Helen smiled.  “Oh, that’s wonderful. I was a nurse and my husband is a doctor.  I think we should to go with you.”

“Maybe they won’t want us.”  Red snapped. “We have nothing to offer but more mouths to feed.”

Matt walked into the darkened storeroom.  “You can learn to contribute.”

“Slave labor?”  Theresa snapped.  “You saved us, fine.  Now you can just move on. We won’t go back to being whores for a different set of assholes.”

Matt stepped closer with a wounded look on his face.  “NO! That’s not what I meant.”  He looked to Tate but she just shrugged.  “That’s not what I meant, for Christ sake.  We have a garden, livestock and lots to do around camp like learning to defend yourself.”

Red smirked.  “Why would you do that?”

Matt shrugged. “It’s the right thing to do. We started with two kids, and seems every time I turn around I collect a few more.” He grinned as he realized the Valium Doc had given him had kicked in. “How was the sausage?”

Tate laughed.  “Yeah.  He’s the fucking Pied Piper of the apocalypse.”

Everyone joined in laughing at Matt’s sudden discomfort at Tate’s remark.  The tension in the room disappeared.

“I’m going to keep watch so Doc can get cleaned up and eat something.”  Tate stood up and headed back into the gloom of the storefront.

“I’m going to get some shut eye and will spell you at midnight.”  Matt answered as he reached for a length of sausage and wedge cheese.  He walked away toward the back of the storeroom, found a pile of flattened cardboard and pulled a couple pieces out to make a bed. He settled on the cardboard, ate the meager meal, drank most of his bottle of water then laid down.