I can tell that this farming stuff really irritates Zoic. She’s not sedentary. It’s a big commitment. At the same time, she has changed a bit. I’ve seen her grow more comfortable with this world, and with its inhabitants, one of which being me. She’s been feeding wild animals in the back yard, and my usual crude humour hasn’t been getting on her nerves as much. I’m not really sure what to make of it. Maybe it’s all in my head.
We’ve organized the farm the way it makes the most sense to us, which is not really all that organized. It’s not such a big deal when you’re going to eat all of it. No need to keep track for sales, etc. Our lines aren’t very straight and our holes are not a uniform depth. We did our best to fertilize, but it would have taken a lot of effort, and it would have been dangerous, to bring back all of the fertilizer in the hardware store. We’ll see what happens. We’ll learn, and eventually we’ll take Phoenix back to its agricultural roots.
It had been long overdue for a us to take a trip to a local hardware store. The amount of things we needed made the dangerous trip worthwhile.
We grabbed a truck from a neighbor’s house. One of the big ones. One of the ones that says “I make up for my penis in the size of my vehicle and cowboy hat.” There was always that rift in Arizona: the people who embraced the southwestern style and dressed like they worked at rawhide everyday, and the people who wouldn’t be caught dead in cowboy boots. I was one of the latter, but being that there was very little chance of being caught dead by another living human being, I thought I’d try something new. Luckily for Zoic and myself, the owner of this massive vehicle had kept a supply of white hats in the back seat. The hardware store was not far. We checked the list of things we needed and decided we’d both have to go in. Ammo was good, blades were sharp, blunt objects were blunt. Cowboy hats were secured.
It was dark inside. And quiet. The smell of rotting flesh was present, but not as strong as expected. We kicked on our flashlights.
Walking almost back to back, we made our way through the building. Zoic stopped me.
“Do you hear that?”
“What?” I asked.
Then I stopped.
A low moaning. Not one. Several. They seemed to be coming from all around us. We whipped our flashlights around, but none were in sight yet. The sound got louder. Then a single dark silhouette blocked some of the light coming from the entrance. Then another. I counted five by the door, the rest were hard to count with the flashlight alone. “Fuck.” Zoic whispered.
“We’ll be okay,” I responded. Then I handed Zoic my flask. She took a large swig and made a pained face.
“What’s the plan?” she asked.
“We can run, or we can fight.”
“We need the seeds and the supplies.”
“And we need to live.”
“We should play with that toy of yours.”
We shot our way out of the door and pulled the truck back a ways. I found a tire iron in the bed. Zoic set up a makeshift flamethrower she put together over the last couple of days in the parking lot and got a few test blasts off.
“I’m not sure I’ve worked all of the kinks out yet,” she commented. I could not have cared less.
I searched through the truck’s supply of CD’s. It was mostly pop country garbage, but there was a Johnny Cash’s greatest hits. I put this in the player, and cranked the stereo as high as it could go. Taking the tire iron to a nearby post, I began to make the loudest noise I possibly could. It barely competed with the music, but it helped.
There were already a number of infected following us from inside the hardware store, but with this noisy addition, they began to file out in great numbers. There was an amazing number of them; a group of survivors must have holed up and slowly succumbed. It took them around 15 seconds to catch up to us, and Zoic was ready, setting them on fire immediately. We did this for around 30 seconds before the situation caught up with us. We had turned a mostly harmless mob of infected into a faster flaming mob of infected, with no discernible flight plan.
We hopped into the bed of the truck as it was the only high ground available. If they got close, we shot them, but otherwise, we let them burn out. We had only lit half of the mob on fire to start with, but in their random, anguished flailing they had managed to set the other half on fire, accordingly.
It took half of an hour for the last one to fall, and we headed into the hardware store once more. Zoic kept her flamethrower handy for lighting and torching as necessary. I emptied the entire seed rack into a wheelbarrow from aisle 7, and also a propane torch, a nail gun, and a number of other necessary items. We only found one more infected inside, but he was missing both legs, so he was not making good time. I place a boot firmly on his skull and brought his crawling to an abrupt end.
We grabbed several trees from the outdoor supply also. Might speed things along.
On the way out, we found a leg.
Placing everything in the bed of the truck, we headed home triumphant.