Liquor? I hardly know her.

Thought we’d do something special for leap day.
The liquor store was locked from the inside, which was a good sign, I guess. You tend to find fewer living things inside when that happens, but sometimes what you find inside is worse. We broke the glass, and then the lock, and we made our way in. Behind us, a flaming crowd of infected ran around like headless turkeys. It’s the easiest way to clear a group of them when you’re determined, and well, we needed a drink.
It was a classy place, not a convenience store. A place where you could spend three hundred dollars on a bottle. We spent nothing. I picked up some things that I had always wanted to try, some Johnny Walker Blue, an 18-year old single malt, and a few things I had never heard of, but had pretty labels. Zoic likes the sweeter stuff. The stuff that makes you think you’re not drinking. It’s funny, I’ve always liked the stuff that made it impossible to forget that you were drinking.
There was a blood trail on the floor. It looked like someone had been dragged into a back room, which now had the door shut. Best not to think too hard on that one right now. I placed two bottles of the blue label in a canvas shopping bag. That’s right. We care about the environment. I turned to look somewhere else and I caught the blood trail once again.
“I keep looking at it, too,” Zoic said.
“We probably shouldn’t.”
“Maybe it will be horrible, and justify our drinking.”
I turned away and started picking things out again. I focused on the clinking of the glass to keep my mind off of the door. Zoic went back to picking our her flavored rum, and Southern Comfort. Then I turned once more.
“We gotta do it now,” she said. I nodded weakly.
Zoic set down her bag and approached the door slowly. She knocked.
“Hello!” She shouted. No response. She turned the knob and pushed it open. I watched from a distance. She pointed her head toward the door, indicating that I should look inside. I’m not sure what look came over my face at that moment, but it was enough to make her burst out in laughter. Offended, I charged toward the door and looked inside. It’s difficult to describe the scene that I found. Inside, the owner of the store was sitting in a chair. A look of horror was frozen on his face. Between his legs, and infected had latched on to his inner thigh and maybe a bit further up. His pants were on, it wasn’t anything sexual. From what I could tell, the corpse bit his thigh (maybe it fell over or something), and he killed it. Perhaps when it died, the teeth didn’t let up, and he couldn’t move. It was pitiable, really.
“Now we’ve got a toast to make,” Zoic said. I nodded.

The Places You’ll Go!

We’ve been in one place for a long time. Back at the beginning, things were exciting. The infection was spreading quickly, and there was need of being mobile. Now, things have settled. The infected are slow and easy to avoid. Things are easier. But from our complacency grew fear. There are places we avoid, whether we know through experience that they are full of infection, or whether we merely theorize it. Any building that is large enough and protected from the outside is probably full by now. People filled buildings like that, and they didn’t survive. Numbers are the biggest advantage of the infected, and the biggest weakness of the living. Now, I don’t know much about this first hand, but, if you open a door to a department store and see the sheer numbers of them, you’d come up with a couple theories yourself. And run. I haven’t been back.

The various shopping malls, I’m sure, are full of the persistently locomotive. Also, many super markets and large stores. The public library down town might have provided enough protection, but I doubt it. I’d like to go there, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk. And we really don’t have the fire power. The hardware store would also be helpful, but it’s another spot on the map that we avoid. We would really have to be prepared.

There are lots of places that we do go, though. The nearby supermarket is one. Without that, we’d probably be dead. Any store that only has room for maybe ten or fifteen people is usually worth the risk, provided it has something of value inside. I needed new shoes.

Other than those few places, we try to get what we need from houses. Houses typically only have a few occupants, which makes a lot of difference, and they have a lot of things that we need. The refrigerators have mostly spoiled by now, but cans are always good, and occasionally we find some weaponry to replace what we’ve used. Some houses have a lot of infected crowding around them, which is usually a sign that there are useful things inside, but there’s also a higher chance of some horrifying scene inside. We get over it.

Nothing Quite Like a Good Meal

We ate the remainder of our food reserves today, which is probably not as dire as it sounds. So we decided to head down to the supermarket. It’s within walking distance, if we were to walk anywhere any more. We drove. And we pulled up in front, avoiding many of the infected out in front of the building. Keeping up with a super market is a chore. For whatever reason, even if there aren’t any more people inside, there are always more of them there. They eat some of the food inside, which is all rotten by now, but I guess it sustains them. There haven’t been many since the first time we cleared it out, which was a desperate move. At that time, the fast ones were still around, and we needed the food. Zoic and I had barely met up and we were running out of food in the houses nearby. Rather than find more houses, we, foolishly, decided it would be better to hit the store. It was packed. It’s difficult for me to remember what happened exactly because of the fluidity of the moment. We did what was necessary for what felt like five minutes. By the end of it, we’d racked up two thirds of the kills we had, and we weren’t going easy on them before. That was the biggest bonfire ever. I don’t think my body can even produce that much adrenaline now.

Today was not so difficult. They were there, as they usually are, and always surprised to see us. I know they’re not intelligent enough for coherent thought, but I feel like that look always says “Holy shit. You’re still here? I thought we ran out of you months ago!” The surprise doesn’t usually last long.

We took everything off the shelves that we wanted for the next month. We’ve nearly cleaned out their cereal supply, even though there’s no milk. Frozen foods are priority one, as the canned foods will last longer. Zoic brought her cart to my aisle. She had an assortment of things from throughout the store. Some very old beer, frozen vegetables, and some spices. She also had several cans of dog food.

“For Mabel?” I asked. She nodded. “Lead the way.”

I followed Zoic to the deli section of the store. The smell in that area is… difficult to describe. She opened the cans of dog food and placed them in a large bowl. She took a deep breath and looked at me.
“I’ve got your back.” She nodded again and opened the door quickly. She slid the bowl inside, as Mabel, the decomposing corpse of the sweet deli lady, charged her. She stepped in the bowl and fell, and Zoic closed the door.

After the fight that took out the entire population of the store the first time, Zoic and I found Mabel standing behind the deli counter, as if nothing had changed. She was infected, and not moving, but she wasn’t posing a threat. Zoic had a vague memory of visiting the store when Mabel was a human, and didn’t want to kill her. I wouldn’t say she’s a pet, but the symptoms are there.

Having done our duty for the month, we finished loading up our carts with as much as we could safely store at home. When we came out, they thought they were going to mob us, but they’ve grown soft. And we were expecting them. There weren’t many. Just a few. And then there were none. We loaded the car and drove home.

The search for solar

Zoic and I have been searching neighborhoods nearby looking for solar panels. As I’ve already said, I don’t know much about the electricity situation, and it’s possible that things could get very dark soon. Not just dark. Hot. It’s currently pretty cool outside, but scrambling to assemble panels in 110 degree heat doesn’t seem like a good idea. We’re starting early. Many of the tools we have are electric, and we can’t lose them. Also, we’re trying to fashion some sort of vehicle that might run unconditionally. The  benefit of the solar panel is obvious. We live in Arizona. I learned a little bit about electricity in my past life, and I found a couple of books that should get us going.

Today, we turned down a street I must have driven a thousand times before. It was the next zone on our list. So far, we had been lucky. Only a few infected, and most of them too slow and heat stricken to give chase. Then we spotted one. It looked like an old model, might only be good for heating water, but still worth the effort. The coast was clear, so we got out. We’re always careful. While most of the infected are slow, they can surprise you.

We unloaded the ladder from the Suburban we commandeered, and we set it up in front of the house. Zoic usually watches as I climb. It doesn’t make much sense to have both of us up the ladder. That’s how you get cornered.

I brought a tool kit, and quickly went to work detaching the panel. It came loose and Zoic helped me get it down. We loaded it in the back of the vehicle. Zoic wanted  to check out the home. Today, I waited outside. It’s usually a good idea to keep an eye on the exit. There’s really no way to maximize any operation with just two people, but this seems to work.

Then I saw her. An exgirlfriend. Not recent. High school. Still someone I cared a great deal about at some point. And here she was, hobbling toward me. The level of decomposition was not severe, and she was still pretty. She was missing her left foot, and the eyes I had once stared into for hours now contained no sign of humanity. They were dead and hungry.

“I’m sorry that this happened to you.”

She continued toward me, only about 15 yards away.

“I know things didn’t end well between us, but I never would have wished this on you.”

She just kept stumping along.

“I always wished the best for you. I hoped that you were happy.”

More stumping.

“I know you liked to sing. I’d hoped you’d kept up with that.”

She groaned. Not the sweet music I remember.

“Who are you talking to?” Zoic asked. Then she saw Kelly. “Oh.”

Zoic walked the remaining twenty feet and smashed Kelly in the head with a shovel. She fell. Then Zoic smashed her head once more with the shovel on the pavement, finishing the job. I was speechless.

“What’s wrong?” Zoic asked me as she returned. I walked back to the car and got inside.

We all handle the familiar infected differently.

Things I didn’t know I’d miss from the old world

– I miss seeing people who were uglier than me.
– I miss watching the Goldline commercials on Fox News (they were so wrong, but so right).
– Hipsters.
– Black Friday.
– Tests at School.
– Tumblr
– New webcomics
– Other people
– Telemarketers (or maybe just phone calls in general)
– Advertisements (I don’t always miss advertisements, but when I do, I make my own)
– That stupid look on the face of my neighbor’s dog.
– Losing online video games to children in foreign countries.
– Debating with crazy people
– Cat videos on youtube (they’re still there, but how many times can you watch them?)
To be continued.

Good as Gold

Zoic and I are not living far from the Biltmore. This is an extremely wealthy neighborhood, and, taking full advantage of the apocalypse, we have been liberating many of their possessions. Zoic collects jewelry sarcastically.

I want to talk about one house specifically today. It was a large house, complete with fountain and statue. High ceilings, large windows, grand piano, dining hall. We were rummaging through the bedroom. Zoic went for the jewelry boxes, I looked around a bit more. I found a book shelf. Floor to ceiling, fifteen feet wide. They had all the classics, from Gilgamesh on. I walked from the earliest part of history to the more contemporary things. Then I hit metal. Underneath my feet, underneath the carpeting. I was confused at first. Then I tapped my foot a few more times and the same ping came back. By now, Zoic had turned to look at me. I got out my knife and I started cutting carpet.

“What are you doing?” Zoic asked. She was alarmed. Then, a common expression went across her face. It’s the “Oh, right, we’re in the apocalypse, carry on” face. I did.

After about five minutes we had discovered a trap door. Lifting it revealed a dark stair case. We clicked our flashlights on and went urban exploring. It wasn’t musty or humid, like you might expect, but dry and cool. Locating a switch on the wall, we lit up a number of fluourescents over head. The walls were plain cinder blocks, the floor epoxy. In one corner, a large tank of water sat. Clean water. We made a note. On the other side of the room, there were two doors. Doors can be a bit tricky. You never know what might be on the other side.

We flipped a coin. Tails. Left door first. I pulled the door open, and got out of the way. Before I could look, Zoic fired twice from her shotgun. Then twice more. Then once. I turned to look. Three infected. Two adults, one child. They were holed up in this panic room. One of them must have had a bite, and then spread to the other two.

“There must be another way down here,” Zoic said. I nodded.

I quickly moved into the room, pistol at the ready. No one else. Not much else, in fact. A bed, some half eaten food, an old television.

On to the next door. Same method. I pulled the door wide open, Zoic ready to shoot. This time, just a gasp. I turned. We had stumbled upon the largest stockpile of gold I had ever seen in my life. There were gold bricks stacked eight feet high, four feet wide and deep. We took a moment to just stare.

In the back of this room, we found a ladder that lead to another trap door.

It was strange that at this time, I couldn’t help but remember all of the commercials on television. “When the stock market fails, and the U.S. dollar plummets, there will be only one thing that keeps its value. Gold. Buy gold today. Your conservative pundit agrees.”
Suffice it to say, we took the water.

The Condition

No one really knows what happened to all of these people that made them this way. I have always felt that it was a disease of some kind, the way that it spreads. But there are varying degrees of the effects and not all are affected the same way. Some are fast. Well, some were fast. Not many are now. They burned out a while ago. Some are slow. Some appear to be decomposing rapidly while others seem to… hold it together. Some have a degree of rote memory. Some are more graceful than others. They’re all getting kind of sloppy, now, though. I don’t know why it’s always stuck with me, but I was down town for a short time when this was all beginning, and someone had tagged the side of a tall, old building with neon green spray paint, and a neon purple border. It said only one word. “Zombie.”