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Authors: Steve Wands

Tags: #Horror, #+IPAD, #+UNCHECKED

Stay Dead: A Novel (3 page)

BOOK: Stay Dead: A Novel
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By the time Jon-Jon got back with his empty
bucket and upset expression, the group had been rounded: Eddie,
Joseph, Frankie, Dawn, Big Cups and of course Gerty. No one in the
group was put off by the thought of going out on a raid. To them it
had become fun, dangerous—certainly, but an adventurous necessity
to cling to their old way of living and their new way of survival.
What they had experienced fleeing their homes were the things of
nightmares. Running into a few lurkers while on a raid was expected
and worth the risk for the things they needed (even though most of
the stuff they had been taking wasn’t out of need). It was out of
habit, desire, and plainly because they could.

Big Cups was on walkie-talkie duty for the
group, and it was Joseph’s turn to scout for batteries, bandages,
and aspirins. Frankie had been given the pleasure of looking out
for new wheels. Dawn had to get a new outfit because her diner
uniform just wasn’t cutting it anymore: it was torn up and stunk to
high hell, and everyone could certainly agree on that. The rest
were just along for the ride.

They all hopped into the back of Frankie’s
truck. He drove and Joseph rode shotgun, ironic now because there
actually was a shotgun behind the seat. They had their guns, bats,
knives, and gloves. They noticed nothing on their trek, not so much
as an abandoned car. The streetlights were still on; Joseph
wondered if there was a group of diehard JPG Electric & Company
employees keeping it running. Frankie’s truck was running low on
fuel. They had slightly more than an eighth of a tank. Someone
would be getting the honorable duty of siphoning out an abandoned
luxury SUV, or, if luck should have, a larger vehicle.

Finally, they reached their destination. The
truck, barely at a snail’s pace, rounded the outer rim of the
parking lot. They scouted for lurkers, survivors, anything that
could complicate things before committing to the raid. It was clear
except for a few cars, some shopping carts, and two bodies that
were not getting back up. They drove around the building, getting
in closer with each sweep, like a vulture circling its prey. Around
back were a few shipping trucks. The docks were locked except for
one truck backed in to a loading bay. The garbage containers were
waiting for a garbage truck that would never show up. There were
pallet stacks and a lonely little power jack next to a wall full of
milk crates. They took one final lap and ended up right in front of
the main doors.

The doors were locked up with a chain on the
outside; the glass was spider webbed from top to bottom. Beyond the
initial doors was a smaller area filled with vending machines,
quarter eaters, and tiny benches. Not much more was visible from
where they stood. Gerty grabbed a crow bar from the bed of the
truck. She popped the chain.

From inside the heart of the consumer’s
discount paradise were the moans of dead things. They were on an
all night shopping spree, looking for the last bits of warm flesh.
It was a sound the raiders knew all too well. They could tell there
were a lot more of them than there were bullets, and bats, and
hands to hold them. It was time to step back from the door and work
in reverse.

Frankie headed to the left side of the
parking lot to check out a vehicle he spotted when they pulled in.
Joseph grabbed the gas container from the bed of the truck and
picked out the closest SUV (they usually had plenty of fuel to
share). Dawn followed him, siphoning was a two-man job: one to
siphon and one to act as lookout. Dawn took the job with ease, it
would give her time to take a few puffs, which wasn’t the best
idea, but Joseph didn’t really mind.

Eddie hung around the door, keeping an eye on
the dead things. Gerty was keeping him company. Jon-Jon looked like
he was going to cry; the poor bastard hadn’t been able to shit
right since this would-be-apocalypse started. Big Cups was just
plain nervous. He was biting his nails and scratching at his
crotch. He skittered over to Dawn and they split a cigarette.
Having his shaky hands taking and passing a lit cigarette while
Joseph was siphoning gasoline was a terrible idea. Joseph was
thankful that he’d filled his canister as Cups was pulling his
first drag.

Frankie’s first choice of a new set of wheels
didn’t pan out, but he eventually found a decent station wagon—it
had room for six and plenty of storage with roof racks. The gas
tank was nearly full and the tires looked to be in great shape. He
drove it up alongside his Dodge. He was almost embarrassed to see
the two of them next to each other, like his truck had feelings.
Regardless, Frankie was loyal to his Dodge and he would stick with
it till one of them died.

Everything outside was set. The Dodge had
been refueled and the gas can was full. They got a new set of
wheels for their traveling band of felons, and were prepared to
venture inside. Big Cups would stay behind with a walkie-talkie and
a .38 special Smith & Wesson handgun. His nerves turned into a
rubber-band ball collection and though he went on every raid, he
could never muster the fortitude to go into any of the stores they
raided. His duty was to guard the door and make sure there were no
surprises coming or going, and that was about all he could

Most of the group thought it best to keep all
walkie-talkie communication minimal. Less noise in these situations
was for the best. Once the deaders spread out they entered the
store, passed the main doors, and noticed the secondary doors were
locked too. Gerty looked around, spotting lurkers, and planning
accordingly. She then broke the lock, and the raiders were in. A
few lurkers were close by and turned toward the noise. Or perhaps
the scent of fresh meat on the sales floor, no one could be
certain. They weren’t sure how the deaders knew when a living
person was around, and most of the time they didn’t care, but now
they’d rather not find out. They moaned and raised their arms to
the best of their inability and lurched forward. These few would be
a breeze for them; they were in bad repair, and slower than the
freshly dead.

Gerty used the crowbar she already had handy.
Hollering like a cowboy she began her battering of one of the
lurker’s head. It caved in with one bash, like a soggy pumpkin
slamming against the street. Its blood didn’t gush out. It was
coagulated and dripped slowly from the gaping hole. The dead
shopper dropped to the ground. Just to be safe, she continued to
pulverize the dead man’s head. His brains and skull looked like a
finger-painting on the white tiled floor. By the time she finished,
the remaining lurkers had been taken care of by her companions.

Frankie was approaching another small group
of more dead things while Dawn was drawn to the first sales bin
they’d come across. The bin was full of cheap make-up and
discounted DVD’s. An odd tie-in, but there it was nonetheless.
Frankie savagely attacked the next pairing of flesh eaters. The
blood flowed toward a battery display that Frankie didn’t see at
first. It was nearly empty. He called Joseph over and then Frankie
threw them all in to his backpack. Moans echoed throughout the
building but most of the culprits remained out of view.

Standing in front of the men’s section, which
was bone-bare, like the rest of store, was a rack with belts and a
few fanny packs. Everybody but Eddie grabbed as many as they could.
Eddie stepped over to the sock and underwear racks instead. Once
the others saw them, they did the same. Frankie grabbed some
thermals, hats, and gloves. The bags they carried were already
swelling up. Frankie and Joseph headed back to Big Cups where they
tossed him the full bags. As they headed back toward the others,
from out of nowhere a lurker’s hand grabbed Joseph by his shirt.
Joseph dropped right to the ground and Frankie mashed its face in.
Joseph kicked at the creature, a woman who must have worked there.
She was wearing a green vest with a ‘can I help you’ button on it.
Frankie gave her one last whack to the side of her head. She was a
small woman, possibly even attractive at one point, but now her
deep blue eyes were a paste under Frankie’s shoe.

“Spill in aisle 9,” Joseph said with a

Joseph got up and turned around to hear the
others engaged in their own blood sport. The two of them took off
in a hurry to join the others. There were at least fifteen
creatures clawing at their friends. It was a scary situation in a
tight spot but they had to act fast and carefully. There was no
room for everybody to be swinging away with abandon.

Frankie cocked his tarnished, scratched, and
bloodied shotgun and shredded two lurkers that were far enough away
to not endanger the others. It was loud, echoing through the store,
and left cotton in his ears. He would have preferred using it as a
bludgeon, the noise alone usually ended up drawing out more trouble
than it was worth, but he needed the fastest solution to the
problem. One of the two lurkers needed to be finished off, its head
was left dangling by threads of flesh and brittle bone, its blood
was like a thick dark mud. Gerty smashed it into the air, spewing
muddy blood in its arching descent toward the bag section. What
looked like fifteen quickly degenerated into less than a dozen.
Eventually, with the help of Eddie and Frankie, they were able to
put the dead things down for good.

Then, a gunshot echoed through the store. The
gang stopped moving and stood staring at each other. It did not
come from one of them.

“Where’d that come from?” Joseph asked.

“Don’t know, let’s check on Cups,” Gerty said
in a raspy out of breath voice.

They ran toward the entrance, Big Cups stood
up and asked, “what’s going on in there? Are we getting out of

“Not yet, we heard a shot and it wasn’t one
of ours, we came to check…”

“Guess that means someone’s in there with a
gun or…one of those fucks has one,” Eddie cut her off, “either way,
I’m going back in.”

Eddie ran back to where they were just a
moment earlier. The others followed right behind him, everybody
looking in different directions. Another shot echoed overhead,
resonating in the high ceiling, curious brows were raised. Another,
then another, they ran toward the noise, which brought them to a
set of warehouse doors. They had bloody streaks and a window on
each door about the size of a shoebox. The windows were too bloody
to see through. Hearts raced furiously. Frankie came forward and
kicked the door open revealing a loading bay full of lurkers.

The dead things turned, and though no dead
things had ever expressed any visible emotions, they looked pissed.
One had eyes so damaged they were completely red. They must’ve been
truckers, vendors, or employees. They appeared fresher than the
others that were in the store, cleaner, quicker. More shots fired
from somewhere behind these creatures. The dead things moved toward
the party crashers, but Frankie was faster and blasted them with
his Remington 870 shotgun. He popped as many shots off as he could,
and whoever else was behind the creatures was using theirs as well.
The deaders came forward. Dawn took off running and Jon-Jon
followed behind. Gerty took off too and grabbed Eddie, pushing him
to follow her. These deaders were quicker and the area to fight
them in was tighter.

Eddie shouted to Joseph and Frankie, “let’s
go, come on!”

Someone was still shooting from within the
warehouse. The sound seemed to follow them as they made their way
to the check out lanes. The lurkers were not far behind. They were
clumsy and stiff but managed to keep chase. Frankie reloaded. One
of the more limber of the lurkers was crossing through the checkout
lane, its stiff arms and hands outstretched in a hunger-driven
grasp. Frankie pumped his Remington and raised it just in time to
blast the lunging bastard in the mouth. Tooth, brain, both of its
eyeballs and thick dark blood rained from its head and neck.
Frankie continued to level the creatures that stumbled toward him
and his friends. A small pile of bodies started gathering in front
of the lanes. Gunshots were still getting closer. The creatures
were severely thinned at this point. Gerty, Eddie, Joseph, and
Jon-Jon were able to finish off the creatures. The store was

“Hello?” Eddie called.

No answer. Eddie tried again.

“Hello? We’re just here for some supplies, we
don’t want any trouble.”

Still the place was quiet.

“Hello back at ya,” a man stepped into view.
He was holding a Glock. “Not so fast, please, let’s keep it
simple.” The man raised his other hand in a gentle fashion, “I’m
Ben. I got some pals in the warehouse. We’re just here for some
supplies then we’re getting back on the road too.”

The man put his gun down, and headed back to
the warehouse. They followed Ben, eager to see some other people.
Gerty engaged the man in conversation. She had a bad feeling about
him. Something in his eyes that reminded her of her father and
something instinctual that scratched at heart. A conversation could
go a long way to reveal a person, at least in her experiences they

The others began grabbing items and bagging
them. Passing the woman's department, Dawn pulled over to the side
and Jon-Jon watched her back. She quickly stripped off her clothes
and started putting new stuff on right away. She moved ferociously,
as any woman would do had they been allowed to shop for free. She
grabbed enough clothes to wear a new outfit everyday of the week,
but decided she needed more. After picking up panties, bras, and
socks, she had two backpacks full. They needed to go back to Cups
and dump them into the truck.

The others continued on to the warehouse.
Jon-Jon and Dawn headed out toward Cups, grabbing anything and
everything, magazines, candy bars, trading cards. Big Cups looked
at them like a homeless kitten. Jon-Jon smiled and tossed him a
package of Reese’s Big Cups. His grin took up the lower half of his
face. On the way back in, Jon-Jon asked Dawn to guard the door to
the men’s room. Jon-Jon went in slowly inspecting every stall
before committing, the first one had shit all over the seat, the
second wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t keeping much of the scent out.
The third stall was a charmer, a little piss on the seat, but to
him this was luxury seating. He smiled as he cleaned off the seat
with a wad of toilet paper. He plopped down and picked up one of
those celebrity news magazines off the floor. He wiped his ass and
washed his hands. The bathroom was fairly clean considering it was
the end of the world. The soap was still pink and the paper towels
were plentiful. Amazing, he thought, fucking amazing.

BOOK: Stay Dead: A Novel
4.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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