I woke up early to the beeping of my watch alarm. My head felt clear but my migraines sometimes came back the next day. I mixed a can of evaporated milk with water and poured some into a bowl with cereal. I ate standing in the kitchen listening for twinges of pain from my head. There didn’t appear to be any so I decided to continue with the day’s plan.
After getting dressed, I grabbed my backpack and added my bottle of migraine medicine to a side pocket just in case. I strapped on my machete and grabbed my bat. The apartment complex was empty of zombies when I checked through the windows. At the edge of the fence, I looked up the street toward Andy’s store and spotted some zombies shuffling down street. I stepped back behind the fence and listened. No pounding footsteps came my way. They hadn’t seen me. I peeked one eye out around the fence.
Three zombies, moving slowly towards me but far enough away to not immediately see me when I walked out. Three on one was not good odds. I could wait them out; let them pass but that would take a while even if they kept on a straight and steady course. They might turn into the complex and then I’d really be stuck. The other option was to take the long way around to Andy’s store. Go down the street and circle around a couple of blocks to avoid the zombies. Trying to fight them was not an option.
I didn’t know exactly how long I had before they would be too close to sneak away from but I knew I needed to make the decision quickly. I slipped out of the apartment complex entrance and began walking backwards hugging the fence until I could slip around the corner. I was out but not safe; I still had to make the extended trip through the neighborhood.
I knew to be careful around the first house and the second was safe. Beyond that was a mystery. I had past safely through part of this neighborhood a couple of weeks ago after first meeting Andy but these new arrivals might not be the only ones. So I moved slowly from house to house, checking around every corner, and watching behind me, until I had circled around to the corner past where I had seen the trio of zombies. Looking down the street I could see the entrance to my apartment complex but not the zombies.
Maybe they had wandered behind a house or something had caught their attention and they had sprinted off. Maybe they had wandered into the apartment complex. Not knowing where they had gone worried me.
I turned away from my apartment and made my way to Andy’s store. At the front door, I looked inside through the broken door and saw Andy sitting behind his barricade. He didn’t seem to notice me so I knocked gently on the door frame. He looked over to me.
“Hey you ready to go?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be out in a sec.” He stood and I could see a magazine in his hand, “Texas Farm and Home” as he turned to get his gear. I stepped away from the door and looked south again. A minute later he exited the store with his backpack and weapons.
“I didn’t take you as the farming type,” I said.
He looked puzzled but broke into a grin quickly, “I’m not but I’m running out of stuff to read.”
“Well, put it on the list. The pharmacy should have some books and magazines you can grab. Come on let’s go,” I said turning away from the south and looking north toward the pharmacy.
It was just visible in the distance. Between Andy’s store and the pharmacy were a few small buildings: a drive-in fast food place, a credit union, a car wash, a phone store, and a couple of vacant lots. There was more cover than the superstore’s parking lot but the parking lot was surrounded by a drainage canal that limited where the zombies could enter. Ahead was open ground in every direction.
We took it slow, moving from building to building, checking around corners, taking our time to survey the distance. There were a few zombies out and a bout but luck was with us and they were far enough way to not spot us. From the last building before the pharmacy we could see that we hadn’t been the first ones here.
The doors were broken and half open; the inside was trashed with items thrown on the floor. When had this happened? Recently or back when the panic started? I couldn’t tell. There were no zombies immediately visible but the doors were open so one or more might have wandered in.
“Are we going in?” Andy asked from behind me.
“Just looking for zombies,” I said. I stepped between the doors and started walking around the store checking corners I couldn’t see from the doors. Andy followed a few feet behind me. After we had cleared the main store area, we checked out the pharmacy. It had also been broken into, which made it easier for us to get inside. The shelves of prescription drugs were a mess. Some were disorganized by frantic searching but most had been swept clean onto the floor. We set about searching for the drugs I needed.
An hour later of sorting through the scattered bottles and boxes, we had found some packages and a pill bottle that would extend the time I had before running out of hrt by a few more months. I had slightly longer than a year now; year and a half if I lowered my dose. I was going to run out someday or I would have to start a horse farm.
Afterward, we did a sweep of the store for useful stuff. Andy grabbed some books and magazines. I found some odds and ends, clothesline, a sewing kit, more batteries, and a wind up emergency radio. The radio didn’t pick up anything except static but it wouldn’t hurt to check it every now and then. We both stocked up on first aid supplies and medicines.
It was afternoon by the time our packs were starting to get full. We scavenged some food from around the store. I opened up a can of honey roasted peanuts and a bag of jerky. Andy munched on tail mix. We both drank warm root beer.
“Why don’t we move in here?” Andy asked, “It doesn’t stink in here and there’s still a bit of food left.”
“Doors are busted and it’s too close to the highway,” I said.
“Are you always thinking about stuff like that?”
“Sometimes I sleep.” I grinned.
“You weren’t a zombie nut before all this were you?” he teased.
“Not really. I liked zombie movies but I wasn’t like preparing for a zombie war or anything. What about you?”
“Nah, didn’t even like zombie movies. Too, ha, unrealistic,” he said, “Like where does all the flesh they eat go? What makes them move? Why are they violent?”
“These zombies don’t eat people,” I said.
“Yeah but what about the rest of it?”
“I don’t know.” We ate in silence for a minute. I thought about those zombies that might be wandering around my apartment. “I saw a group of zombies on the way to your store this morning. I had to loop around a few blocks to avoid them.”
“Were they near where you’re staying?”
“Maybe,” I said
“If you wanted help taking them out …” he said.
“Thanks, I’m thinking about it.”