2.8 days later – Chapter 4

I had decided on abandoning the search for a bigger & badder weapon. The cricket bat in my hand should suffice for most cases and for the extreme ones I would have to rely on my limbs. Definitely not the upper ones (unless it was a zombie mosquito). But I do run fast, faster than the zombies at least.

With renewed determination (or was it hunger), I walked briskly in search of a grocery store. Ten minutes of walking got me my first smile of the day. Far away at a distance, I recognized the familiar stone building with the big bold WALMART brandishing the blue billboard. In my joy, I almost jogged my way there, before slowing down in the parking lot. Walmart had food and had plenty of it. By now, the store had either turned into a feasting ground for those zombies or a safe haven for survivors. It could very well play out both ways, the only surety was that it would not turn out empty.

As I neared the entrance, I saw a positive sign. The glass doors were smashed, but just inside was a heavy barricade with wooden shelves, grocery carts and living room furniture. This meant there was a group of survivors inside, hopefully a hundred, probably a dozen. This was good though and in line with my next survival tip:

Survival tip #3: Find a group, stick to it and watch each others’ back.

I walked up to the entrance, put my face against the barricade and tried looking in, half afraid of rotting hands coming out from the barricade and pulling me inside. Whoever set up this barricade, did it pretty well. I couldn’t find a single chink in their barricade where I could peek in. I cupped my palms against a gap between a couch and a bookshelf and yelled out ‘Anyone in here?’. I waited for a while before yelling again. I thought I heard a muffled speech. I yelled out once more. More muffled speech. Then I heard something move. There was a scratching sound of furniture being moved. I saw some movement in one corner of the barricade and then part of a face. The guy whispered sharply ‘Stop yelling idiot! You are going to get every one of them come up here.’
‘Nice meeting you too’, I said. Really softly.

After a grueling scrutiny to check if I had been bitten, scratched or infected in any way, I was escorted inside. I was introduced to the four survivors. (Four? I had expected a lot more, but seems the infection had spread faster than I had assumed and people didn’t have time to get to safety.) Jim was the tall lean dude with the pistol, Mike was the hefty tanned man with the shotgun, Jose was the short pudgy guy holding a revolver (he was the one who had called me an idiot!) and Kim … Kim was a young gal who looked like she would be better placed in a model photoshoot than out here.

They didn’t seem too happy to have me join them. They talked rude and looked grumpy and there wasn’t a good vibe around. Now they were all looking at each other like they were talking telepathically and at one point I thought I even saw them nod in agreement. Holy cow Batman! Were they thinking about getting rid of me? One less stomach to feed, one less person to take care of, one less baggage to carry. I was about to politely ask permission to leave when Jim said ‘We had decided on heading for a survival camp as soon as we were five of us. We got to move to a safer place.’

No! All this trouble to get here and now I am going out in the open again? That didn’t seem like a good idea to me, but my puny whining was cut short as they all started heading out with straddled backpacks. Kim looked back towards me, and I could tell she was scared, but wanted to stick to the group. I recollected my own survival tip and shrugging my shoulders, rushed deeper into the store. No, I wasn’t abandoning the group, just preparing better than last time around. In a few minutes I walked out of the Walmart safehouse with a backpack laden with water, energy bars, a flashlight  and a first aid kit. Oh and I had also ditched my trustworthy bat for a fireman’s axe.

As I caught up with the group in the parking lot, I could see them arguing about something. The atmosphere was tense, and everyone seemed to be on edge. Mike and Jose were having a staredown, and neither was backing down. Another bout of slandering and cursing gave me the gist of the fight. Mike and Jim wanted to head south and out of the city, while Jose wanted to head towards a Police Headquarters someplace North. Kim looked clueless and I would personally prefer the safety of the police quarters too, but lacked the courage to speak up.

‘You go wherever the hell you want to, but the kids come with me’, Mike was saying.
‘No way! They will come with me to a safer option. They ain’t a dumb $@%#! like you’, Jose retorted.
I could see rage building up in Mike’s eyes. He leveled his shottie at Jose, ‘Mind your nasty tongue , or you won’t have much of the $@%#*@#! thing left.’
Jose’s hands reached for his gun, but Mike stopped him short ‘Don’t! I will blow your $@%#@#! brains out if you move an inch.’
This was getting ugly, and I wished I was inside Walmart and not out here with them. Kim and I inched ourselves away from the fight.
Jose kept cursing and I could tell he was itching to grab his gun. But he knew he was outdone. He slowly lifted his hands and raised them over his head. ‘Let’s all calm down. I’ll go alone.’
He turned around and started walking away slowly still holding his hands over his head.

Mike watched him for a minute before staring at us. ‘You coming with us?’
I didn’t take it as a question. It was an illusion of choice, I knew. I scampered towards him as if I so wanted to head out the city. We started our long walk out of the city…
BANG!!! I was jarred by the loud sharp blast so close to me. What just happened? I looked at Mike, whose face was in shock. He started falling down, his back torn away in a mess of flesh and blood. I looked back. Jose had just shot him point blank in the back, and was pumping his gun for another go.
BANG! BANG! BANG! Jim punched three quick shots into Jose, who was still standing.
BANG!! Jim’s head looked like it had been through a meat-tenderizer.
Jose fell down, but was definitely not dead. In fact he was still pumping his shottie. Shit! I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want Kim to die. I couldn’t run far enough in time. I couldn’t wrestle the gun out of Jose. I couldn’t do anything. I was frozen stiff. I don’t think I was even breathing. I closed my eyes so tight, my eyeballs hurt. Those seconds seemed an eternity long.

And then Kim screamed. And she continued screaming. I would have joined her, but I was still paralyzed by fear.
I saw Jose try and level his gun out to Kim. Maybe me. I wasn’t sure since we were standing so close to each other and Jose’s hands were swaying all over the place. And then out of nowhere a kick flew out and kicked the  gun out of his hand and out of his reach. I looked down and realized it was my own leg doing the kicking.

Before Jose could grab the fallen gun, I rushed towards it, picked it up and moved back towards Kim who had thankfully stopped screaming. ‘We should leave’, I said.
‘Kill him!’ she yelled partly in fear, partly in hatred.
‘No’. I was a coward and couldn’t kill Jose if he were a snake leave alone a human. But I couldn’t let Kim know that. ‘No point wasting ammo on him’ That sounded manlier.

I picked up the other fallen guns, grabbed Kim’s wrist and pulled her along. I glanced back to see Jose fallen helpless, grimacing in pain. I started shivering and breathing hard.

The last few minutes had been ghastly. I had never seen a person shot before, and now seen three people being blown away point blank. It could so have been me! I could have a shell pumped up my head or stomach so easily. Worse yet, I could have had a few bullets go through my legs and leave me alive but incapacitated! When Jose had leveled his gun at me, I thought I was a goner. If not for that subconscious reflex kick to disarm him, I was surely a goner!

Sticking to a group was fine, but not a group of strangers. Not with strangers who had guns and weren’t afraid to use them. Not with strangers you didn’t know had a temper like Eyjafjallajokull. I think I would be better off alone than betting on my life with a Jose.

Survival tip #3: Stick to a group you would want to bet you life on. Watch your own back first with strangers around.

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In this series:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

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About Filya

'As you can see, we've had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Jokhi. It seems that you've been living two lives. In one life, you're Firoz Jokhi, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a Social Security number, you pay your taxes, and... you help your wife carry out her garbage. The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias Filya, and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not.' - The Matrix

Posted on July 27th, 2011, in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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