Updated: Jul 29, 2021
The thunderstorm passed, to be replaced by a gentle soaking rain. I grabbed my Goretex jacket, and did a walk around as things began to lighten up. I got a better idea of where we had stopped- a Wallyworld Supercenter. I thought of that as both a good thing, and a potential bad thing. Good because there were a few things that I wanted to grab- bad because there was no telling what we might find. I spent the last hour of what I considered my watch hemming and hawing over what to doand how to do it. Should we all go? Should I leave two, or all three of the girls in the RV while I went in? I knew for damned sure I wasn’t sending any of them alone into the belly of this dead economic beast.
I woke Maybel, and once I knew she was awake enough to stay awake, I laid down on the bench next to the table, and went to sleep. I was out like a light. I had a strange dream where I was in a garden, and I was watching a spider spin a web of yarn, and wrap a bug the size of a plum in what looked like a black sock, creating something akin to a pillow. Then I found myself inexplicably planting maple trees next to other trees in odd little clumps of trees. I woke a few hours later- feeling like a few minutes had passed- when Maybel roused me. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, shook the cobwebs from my head, and we made plans to enter the supercenter. It was still drizzling, and I only had coats for two of three. I gave Tammy my coat, and we set out to explore the deserted Wallyworld.
The backdoor was locked, which left us only the option of walking around front to the main doors. As we walked toward the front, I started wishing we could have snuck in through the back. The parking lot was almost entirely empty aside from a couple of cars sitting haphazardly half in and half out of assigned parking spaces. If someone was watching- they’d see us enter for sure. The front doors were broken. Not exactly the best sign ever. There were a couple skylights in the building that would have let in a decent amount of light were the sky not choked with thick rainclouds. As it was, the building was dark and foreboding. I felt Izzy grab my leg as we walked in. The smell of rotting food was nearly overpowering.
I looked at the three girls. Maybel looked determined. Izzy looked like a monkey hanging from my leg. Tammy looked like she was going to vomit.
“Maybel, could you take Izzy? She’s making it hard to walk.”
“Sure. Come here, Izzy. I’ll carry you.”
I chanced a glance at Tammy. She looked downright terrified. Couldn’t say I blamed her. If this were a movie, entering a store like the one we were entering would elicit a zombie attack for sure. Being as this was real life, I put the chances of running into trouble fairly low- though I kept the rifle at the high alert just in case. Maybel was the center of the three girls, acting as an anchor keeping their emotions in check. I could tell that she too was nervous, and that I was the only reason she was driving on.
“We need a coat for Tammy, and as much camo spray paint as we can find. Those are the priorities right now. Once we have that, if we haven’t ran into anything, then we get blankets and some food, understood?”
The girls nodded. I wondered why we hadn’t discussed this before we left, and secretly craved a candy bar. Tammy, seemingly out of habit, grabbed a cart. Maybel and I looked at her. She shrugged as if to say, “Hey, we’re shopping- we need a cart.”
Maybel grabbed a cart as well, and put Izzy into it. Then we walked in past where the greeter normally would be, and tried to figure out where we needed to go. I led the way, my rifle searching back and forth as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I saw a “Womens” sign up ahead, and we went there. It took about five minutes, but we found a decent coat for Tammy, and I got my Goretex back. We also grabbed some clothes for the two eldest, then traipsed over to the girls section, and grabbed some additional clothes for Izzy. I don’t know how long it took us to find what we needed, but I could tell that the simple act of “shopping” for clothes seemed to take the edge off the girls and allow them something that they hadn’t had in a while. Tammy even uttered a few words to Maybel, and broke a smile for the first time since we’d picked her up. Izzy too seemed excited as she tried to ascertain colors in the grayness afforded by the skylights.
The carts more or less full of clothes for the girls, we skulked back toward the home improvement section, and located the spray paint. I grabbed every single earthen tone of spray paint I could find. Camo, regular- it didn’t matter. I then grabbed every can of clear coat. The girls just watched, the usual boredom associated with grabbing guy stuff evident on their faces. Once done- we started toward the food section- and passed the ammo. I stopped us again, and broke into the display case. Maybel seemed to be struggling with her cart- the one with the most spray paint and the ammo. I used my support hand to pull the cart from the front and we continued to the food section, the smell of rotting food getting stronger with each step.
As I turned a corner entering the frozen goods, I stopped cold (no pun intended). There were two bodies lying on the ground next to a display of rotting frozen pizzas. I looked back, trying to figure out what to do. The girls hadn’t seen them yet. But I could tell that they could tell that I was suddenly tense. I motioned for them to stay put, and padded over to the bodies. After a quick inspection, I realized that they hadn’t died of Scab. They’d been shot. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and my Spidey senses began to tingle. I moved back to the girls, my mind made up. We had enough food for a few weeks at least- maybe more. I wanted them out of the store pronto.
“Change of plans, we’re headed out the back door. Stick close.”
Maybel nodded. Izzy looked dejected. Tammy’s eyes went wide.
I led the way toward the back, and in a few minutes we were outside. Loading our goods into the RV took about five minutes. I kept a lookout while the girls got the stuff loaded. I rigged the back door to allow me to open it. I hadn’t made up my mind to drive off, but I wasn’t quite ready to go back into the store. Thirty minutes later, things were still ok. Nothing had happened, and the sun was poking through the clouds as the drizzle let up. It looked like the rain was passing. I gathered the girls around the table so we could hash out what to do.
“Why didn’t we get some food,” asked Maybel.
I scratched my head and thought of how to answer. After a few seconds, I realized that the girls didn’t need protecting- they’d experienced this stuff already in one form or another (hell- I’d shot people in front of and around them already).
“I saw two dead bodies in the frozen foods section. Both of them had been shot.”
“Were they recently shot, or had they been there a while,” asked Maybel.
“Looked like they’d met their end a while ago,” I replied.
“Then we should go back in and get some food, and maybe some stuff to keep us
entertained. We haven’t had a chance to get bored yet, and I’m alre