The next day I dressed and geared up to go out again. Backpack strapped on, baseball bat in hand, tire iron as backup. I looked through the window for zombies. All clear. After I moved the sofas away from the door, I checked again through the door peephole before exiting.
I stuck close to fences and building while watching my exposed side. Checked around corners carefully. At the first intersection I looked up and down the street. A couple of blocks away, I spotted a couple of zombies shuffling around. They were in the opposite direction I had to go. I watched them for a couple of minutes until I was sure they were facing away from me. I walked quickly, but quietly, watching the zombies. I made it across and stopped, listening for pounding feet. I peeked back around the corner. They hadn’t moved.
I continued on without seeing any more zombies. When I got to Andy’s store a knot formed in my stomach. The glass on one door was broken and there as a dark smear on the floor. I looked around inside for a zombie before stepping through the door. The shelving units had been pushed into a diagonal line blocking off half the store. The shelves had been removed from the units and tied across gaps with zip ties to reinforce them.
The barricade wasn’t broken. Andy had killed a zombie. Hopefully.
I knocked lightly on the barricade with my bat and waited. Movement behind the counter caught my eye. “Andy?” I said softly. His head popped up briefly before he fully stood up and walked over to the barricade. His shirt was speckled with black spots.
“Thank god, you came back,” he said.
“What happened?” I said gesturing at the black smear.
He ran a hand through his hair, “I was moving the shelves and a zombie started pounding on the doors. The glass just broke and it ran right at me. I hit it with a shelf,” he gestured to one of the tied up shelves that I could now see was black with zombie blood at one end, “And kept hitting it on the head until it stopped moving.”
“You ok?” I asked. He moved his hands from resting on the barricade to hanging by his side to one holding the other to folded across his body.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. Maybe being attacked could be a good thing if it got Andy paying attention to the world. He shifted his weight from one foot to other while glancing out the windows. If he didn’t have an anxiety attack first.
“Have you seen any more zombies?” I glanced outside as well.
“I saw a couple more yesterday but they didn’t see me. They wandered off that way,” he said pointing up the highway out of town.
“I saw two more one block down and two over on my way here,” I said.
“These things are hard to kill. I must have been hitting it for three or four minutes before it stopped moving. I got this black goo all over me,” he said holding out his shirt for me to see.
“That’s blood. Blood turns black when it dies. Were you hitting it in the front or back of the head?”
“Oh, um the front. After I knocked it down, I smashed it in the face,” he mimed holding something in both hands and bringing it straight down in front of him.
“Whatever is making these things run around is in like the brain stem,” I said pointing at base of my skull, “That’s what you have damage or cut the head off.”
“How do you know that?”
“I read it online and saw a few videos right before the power went off.” I had really only watched one and read some descriptions of others.
“I’m headed to the superstore. You coming?” I asked.
“Yeah let me grab my stuff,” he said. He walked behind the counter and picked up and shrugged on his backpack. He picked up his bat from the counter along with a couple of flashlights. He walked over to where his barricade met the wall and used a small stepladder to get over it. “Ok, let’s go.”
From Andy’s store to the superstore was mostly open ground or parking lot. Before we set off I surveyed the surrounding area. A small row of stores bordered the highway a little to the north. I didn’t see any zombies but I was worried there might be some behind the buildings. Trying to skirt the buildings would pull us further into the open. We walked straight to the superstore each of us watching ahead to one side and behind as much we could.
“You seem kind of nervous,” Andy said.
“I don’t want to be surprised by a zombie,” I said.
“Even if we did run into one, the two of us could handle it.”
“I hope. It’s.. these things are fast. The one I killed was missing a foot and it almost ran me down,” I said.
“Yeah so keep looking.”
We reached the superstore mostly without incident. Andy thought he saw something which lead to hiding behind one of the few abandoned cars left in the parking lot. After a couple of minutes carefully peeking out we decided to risk it and walked the last fifty feet to the doors. Once inside I felt something unclench in my chest I breathed a little easier.
After closing the inside door I turned around to see Andy standing a few feet away. Was he waiting for me?
“Um, I have to get some stuff from the back of the store and some food. You can get what you need and we can meet back here when we’re ready to go. Ok?” I said hoping he got the hint that I wasn’t going to walk around holding his hand.
“Yeah sure. I need to get some clean clothes and stuff,” he said tugging on his splattered shirt.
“Cool,” I said and walked away while turning on my flashlight.
In the back of the store, I found the curtain aisle and stuffed a few sets of blackout curtains into my backpack. I wandered to the hardware section to grab more nails. I also grabbed some basic screwdrivers and pliers sets.
Nearby I saw the shelves of paint. Can and spray paint. That sparked an idea of painting a sign letting people know we were still here. Did I want people to know I was here though? Right now I wasn’t sure. Eventually someone from the army or national guard would show up. I would want them to find me but anyone else I wasn’t to sure about. Andy had been ok so far but I still barely knew him. I walked away deciding if no one else showed up soon I would bring up painting a sign to Andy.
I turned and saw the electronics section of the store. Rows of now useless DVDs. I picked up the second season of a show I hadn’t seen and wondered if I would get the chance when this was all over. I replaced the box on the shelf.
I grabbed several packages of batteries, for my flashlight and lantern, from a peg and made a note to tell Andy to grab some too.
Just beyond the rows of cameras was the jewelry cases. Not that I wore much jewelry but there was something I wanted from there. I walked around the jewelry island until I found the watches. I wanted something practical to help me keep track of time. I didn’t need gold or silver, just durable plastic or rubber.
I pulled out my tire iron and experimentally tapped on the glass. I raised the tire iron to shoulder height, turned my head away, and swung down. The glass shattered and my tire iron banged banged against edge of the case. I picked out a blue digital sports watch.
“Everything all right over here?” Andy asked from behind me.
I turned while strapping on the watch. “Yeah I was just getting a watch,” I said. I tested out the nightlight, flicked through the stop watch modes, checked the day/date. The time and date wasn’t set right.
He looked unsure. “Should you be doing that?”
“Doing what?” I asked
“Um, stealing stuff?”
I laughed, “What do you think we’ve been doing in here?”
“Well, yeah but we need food and clothes and water,” he said, “We don’t need jewelry.”
“I’m not taking jewelry, just a watch. Although now that you mention it I did see a necklace I like,” I said smiling. “Look I just want something to tell time and what day it is. Do you know what day it is?” I asked.
“Ah, Saturday? Sunday?” he said unsure.
“I thought it might be Tuesday or Wednesday. I lost track at some point after the power went out.”
“Yeah me too. My phone died the day after,” he said.
“Funny how we stopped wearing watches cause we got phones to tell the time and date; and they didn’t even last a few days after the power went out.”
Andy walked over to the case and started looking at the watches. He picked one out and strapped it on. “What time are you going to set it to?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I guess we could wait for the sun to be straight up and call that noon, maybe?”
He nodded, “What about the date and day?”
I thought for a second, “Lets call today Monday the first. Might as well be Monday.”
I led Andy over to the batteries and he grabbed some packs. He looked wistfully at the video games for several minutes. “Hey you said something about cutting a zombie’s head off to kill it, right?” he said.
“You know they have machetes in the sporting goods right?” The same section I had gotten my water bags from. I should have taken a better look around when I was first there.
I slapped my forehead. “Goddess I’m dense. Of course they do. Come on lets take a look.”