The Fast and the Dead - Day 3

Every instinct that told people to be frightened of dead bodies kicked in and screamed at him. As he edged towards the door, nothing happened. The body stayed where it was. There was no movement, no scrabbling of fingers against the floor. It was just a body laying still.

He stepped into the hallway and paused for breath. Quickly finding a stairway that lead up and down, he descended to the first floor. The coffee shop may not have been looted, but it wasn’t spared all damage. It looked like rats and other small animals had been at work. He ignored the counter and headed for the back of the store. Any restaurant needed to have a large cold-room, and that was where he was likely to find what he needed.

The door to the large refrigerated room swung open, though not easily. The hinges were corroding and the floor was a mess with scattered droppings and other bits he didn’t care to examine too closely. Stepping in, he noted the room was about the same temperature as the rest of the building; the power had been off for a long time.

The cold-room had been sealed better than the rest of the place and been spared the ravages of infestation by vermin. He ignored the boxes of napkins and cutlery and such, and searched until he found several boxes of bottled water. Sighing in relief, he drank several down without hesitation, the water feeling cool and refreshing even though he knew perfectly well it was room temperature.

His most pressing need taken care of, he quickly but methodically went through the rest of the stores. There was little he could use; mostly ingredients for making doughnuts and other baked goods. There were packages of sprinkles; he stuffed his pockets with those. They were pretty much pure sugar, but they’d given him energy and something for his stomach to work on if he couldn’t find better.

After about 10 minutes he started feeling antsy again. He’d been in one place far too long. There’d been no sign of movement outside, but he didn’t want to chance becoming trapped. Grabbing a large plastic bag from a box of them, he filled it with more water bottles and cautiously crept out of the cold-room, keeping his eyes on the large barred windows.

No movement on the street he was facing. Keeping low moving slow, he peeked around the counter to view the side with the fenced enclosure, where he’d climbed up to enter the building. He sucked in a breath; on the other side of the street, shambling aimlessly, hair in crazy disarray, clothes ill-fitting and terribly stained, flesh rotting; it looked much like the body upstairs, only this one was up and walking.

Some people shied away from calling them zombies. He’d heard all kinds of terms; ghouls, deadels, rotters, walkers, the living dead, the restless dead, even the living-impaired. He didn’t care what they were called, as long as it was from a distance. He bit his lip.

If he went outside now it would likely spot him. And then it’d start that incessant moaning. If there were others in the area, and he was sure there must be by now, they’d home in on it and he was screwed if he was still anywhere near. On the other hand, it was just the one. They weren’t exactly difficult to outrun once they were in a decayed state like this one.

Other options. The stairway that had brought him down from the second floor had also gone up. He could try the roofs. This wasn’t a great area for roof-hopping but he’d passed beyond the area of real skyscrapers. He might be able to get some additional distance, and a better look at the state of the roads. Decided, he hefted his prize and carefully retreated to the stairwell and began to climb.