The air outside the RV was bad. It was a stale smell, the stench of rot, lingering in the breezeless afternoon. We filed out of the RV and Molly, still wiping tears from her face, closed the door behind us. Jay slipped to the rear of the RV, mounted the ladder and ascended to the roof, M4 slung across his back. Dad and I moved carefully to the front of the RV, and awaited the birds-eye scouting report from Jay. Across the street, a lone zombie was struggling up the hill from the store parking lot, trying to get to us. The angle of the slope and the thick vegetation growing there proved too much for him and he was bogged down pretty good. Dad and I watched the area around us carefully. Jay, moved as quietly as possible along the roof of the RV and dropped to one knee behind an AC unit and peered into the parking lot. Leaning over the edge he whispered down to us “Yeah, there are Zombies down there. Maybe 10, no more.” I looked up at him and nodded, giving him a thumbs up. I turned to Dad, “You ready, big guy?” “Sure, why not?” He replied. I grinned slightly and we slipped down the side of the RV and down the entrance drive of the grocery store.
A few zombies on the edge of the parking lot took notice of us and began lumbering our way as fast as their stiff, dead limbs would carry them. Three approached me clustered in a tight pack. I struck the first, stepped back, and struck the second, by then the third was very close and I had to push it away with a hard shove to it’s chest creating the distance I needed to bring the wooden blade thudding down in it’s head. I had dispatched them as swiftly and quietly as I could, their skulls were now cracked open and black ooze ran out onto the asphalt. While crashing the wooden sword down on the head of the last zombie, that had once been a small hispanic man, I heard a shot ring out. I looked over to Dad thinking he may have fired the shot but he was using the buttstock of the M1 to crack a single zombie under the jaw which sent it reeling backwards and ultimately to the ground. Another rifle shot cracked overhead and we both dropped down, scanning the area looking for where it might have come from. Glancing back up the hill I caught sight of Jay atop the RV. He was motioning behind me. I turned to see a headless zombie laid out on it’s back not but a few feet away. I turned back toward Jay and gave him a thumbs up sign. I’d have to remember to thank him when I got back to the RV. He waved me off and Dad and I resumed our trek across the parking lot to the grocery store entrance. A few zombies remained in the mostly empty parking lot but after Jay fired his two shots they had turned their attention in his direction. Arriving at the store’s bricked entrance Dad turned and spoke, “Get a cart, get in there and get canned stuff mostly. Stay away from a lot of perishable stuff.” Dad said. “Got it.” I replied. “I’m gonna head to the pharmacy first, get some of mom’s meds if I can find them.” I finished. “Good thinking, grab some antibiotics too. Might come in handy. Who knows?” He responded, and I nodded in affirmation and we both approached the doors. The lights were on inside, and the doors parted automatically, as they would on any normal day. Strange, I thought, how something that had happened so often in my life now seemed eery and out of place in this new dead-infested world. I followed Dad in and he grabbed a cart and the next set of doors opened.
Without speaking, he headed straight down the aisle of protein bars and vitamins and I turned to the right and headed for the pharmacy. At first I hadn’t noticed but as I moved further in to the interior of the store things didn’t look quite right. Some racks had been turned over and the pharmacy door lock was shattered, broken, as if it had been kicked open. I moved slowly inside the pharmacy office. I set my suburi down just inside the doorway and drew my 1911 from the holster on my hip. My suspicions were correct, someone with less than good intentions had been here already. A pharmacy employee lay on the floor, crimson blood oozing from their now lifeless body, eyes fixed on the ceiling above. This was not a zombie, this was person and they had been murdered. I looked around carefully and began backing out of the pharmacy slowly. As I did the lights throughout the store flickered and went out, popped back on for a moment, then went out, this time for good. “Dad!” I thought, I had to get to Dad, he didn’t know, he’d be exposed. As I came back into the store the emergency lighting kicked on bathing the store in a dim inadequate amount of light and a lone figure emerged from one of the aisles carrying some kind of long gun. “Stop, drop the weapon!” I shouted, presenting my 1911 in a firing position, sights set on the dark shadow approaching. “It’s me! Dad.” His voice was hushed but firm. I lowered my weapon. As he approached he spoke again this time in more of a whisper. “I found some dead folks in the back, store employees,” he paused, “and they weren’t zombies.” “Me too.” I responded, and gestured with a snap of my head over my right shoulder toward the pharmacy. “Let’s move through here together. I don’t think whoever it was is here now but we better not take any chances. You grab the stuff, fill the cart and I’ll cover you. Sound good?” I nodded and placed my 1911 back in it’s holster. We returned to where he had left the cart and resumed collecting food. I grabbed as much as I could, hampered by the darkness but nevertheless the cart began to fill up quick. Dad covered me as best he could as we moved carefully through the aisles. We watched cautiously for the ones who may have killed the store employees thinking they could be anywhere. “That’s about it.” I said gesturing to the now full cart. “Let’s head back to the pharmacy, get Mom’s meds and my suburi.” Dad nodded and we moved through the aisle toward the front of the store. As we neared the front doors we heard what sounded like gunfire erupt from outside, and lots of it.
I drew my pistol and together we pushed the cart forward. The electronic doors wouldn’t open with the power off but they were the standard safety type doors and I pushed the front of the cart hard into their center and the doors gave way and swung open. The next set did the same. We emerged quickly but carefully onto the brick entrance to the store and were immediately met with the image of Jay still on top of the RV but now lying prone firing at an unseen target as it wheeled down the entrance drive and into the parking lot. Mom was at the wheel and Jay’s line of fire was straight ahead but from where we were we couldn’t see what he was shooting at. “Zombies?” I asked. “I don’t think so.” Dad said. We stepped slightly to the right and turned in the direction Jay was shooting. Out in the parking lot was a truck and a small compact car, and behind the two vehicles was what he was shooting at, five men with all manner of guns were shooting at the RV. Over the gunfire I heard one shout, “Yo, they just came out, get their shit!” One of the men broke from the group and ran straight for us, a shotgun wrapped tightly in both hands. He stared straight at us as he ran. “Gimme that cart, mutha fucka!” was all he said. “I don’t think so.” I heard Dad say as he raised his M1. The man didn’t stop advancing and Dad didn’t hesitate. He fired 4 rapid shots into the center mass of the thug’s chest. The man flinched at first, resisting the urge to go down but when the 4th shot hit his chest he slowed to a stumble, stood upright, his legs crossing then he dropped his shotgun. His eyes rolled skyward and he fell to the pavement. At seeing this his fellow thieves turned their attention to me and Dad and began concentrating the bulk of their fire on us. I dropped down and fired my 1911 in their direction running it dry and Dad ran to get behind a large brick post, leaning out only to exchange fire with the assailants. Just as I emptied my magazine, the RV came to a stop in front if us. Despite their anger, the remaining four men disappeared behind the vehicles as the fussilade of bullets got to be too much for them.
Molly had emerged from the RV door when it stopped and started shooting at the thugs as well. One popped up over the trunk of the car trying to get a shot off only to take a .223 round straight to the head. He collapsed backward onto the pavement and didn’t move. “Get the cart to the RV!” Dad shouted as he turned around, back to the brick to reload his M1. I holstered my empty 1911 and pushed the heavy laden cart forward as fast as I could. I went around the back of the RV and approached Molly’s position by the side door. She stepped forward out of the way of the door and I began emptying the cart as fast as I could, hurling the contents into the RV through the opening. She and Jay continued to fire relentlessly and I could hear Jay shouting to Dad to move out of the entryway and get back to the RV. The thugs were succesfully pinned down for the moment and Dad took the opportunity to make a run for it. As soon as he did, one of the thugs appeared from behind a different vehicle several feet away from where he had originally been. He had obviously crawled over to it and his sudden appearance from behind a different location left Jay and Molly at a slight disadvantage as they were focused on keeping the others pinned down. Dad ran for the RV and the thug raised his shotgun. The blast went off but Dad wasn’t hit. The shotgun had fired high into the air. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, a zombie bit down hard on the thug’s shoulder. Blood spurted out and flowed down the man’s arm and chest. He screamed in agony and fell to the ground as a second and third zombie grabbed him, pulled him down and began feasting on his flesh. The other thugs began shooting into the small throng of zombies but too many had emerged from behind them. During the firefight we had all lost track of the undead but they had not lost their unending focus on us. We could hear the screams of the thieves as the zombies tore into their flesh, heedless of the gunshot wounds they were sustaining until finally there were no more shots and no more screams.
Dad had reached the RV and opened the driver’s side door. Mom slipped out of the way into the passenger’s seat. The cart still had food in it and Molly turned, threw the sling of her rifle over her shoulder and began throwing items into the RV as well. Jay came up behind me, passed around me and Molly and stood still watching the approaching undead. “There’s a lot of em and, we don’t have the time. You guys gotta leave the rest and get in, now!” Just as he spoke, I flung the last armful into the RV and drew my 1911. “Molly, get in, you too Jay.” I reloaded the empty gun, snapping a new magazine in the magwell, slamming it home and racking the slide back with authority. I covered the other two as they climbed into the RV and over the groceries scattered aboit on the floor. The first zombie reached the front of the RV and I took aim at it’s head. My front sight was as clear as a spring morning and I pressed the shot off firmly, sending the 230 grain hollow point round through the monster’s skull. I backed up, engaging the thumb safety and stepped up into the RV. Dad slipped the transmission into reverse, and began backing the RV up. The zombies slogged forward, carried on rotting stiff legs and feet. We backed up and turned, facing the exit of the parking lot. Dad drove the unit up the hill and turned onto the main road once again. I stood near the door, 1911 still in hand. Boxes and cans of food at my feet. Looking out the window we passed by the one lone zombie still stuck on the hill. His dry, cracked, gray face sunken by decay followed us as we past and I realized as we drove out of sight, our predicaments were not all that different. Our situation may be just as hopeless as his.