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Get ready for The Road to Nowhere book 3!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chance Escape


2012 Lee Argus Copyright


The dead have risen.

It had been three weeks since the first reports of an infection were announced. First it was thought to have just been a hoax, maybe a publicity stunt for a new movie. Then it was attributed to be mass hysteria, but once the body count went up, people started to take things more seriously.

The first reported incident came out of Los Angeles, more specifically the Los Angeles International Airport. What had first been mistaken as a passenger going insane during a flight, was now realized and confirmed to be one of the infected.

Other cities with major airports around the world followed in the same pattern, then smaller towns and communities, spreading the infection faster than it could be controlled.

A group of terrorists tried to claim responsibility for the actions but their statements were never proven. The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security investigated, but refuted their claims.

The general public was told to stay home and lock their doors. It was advised to stay off the roads and avoid anyone who had come in contact with the virus. Of course, no one listened. People flooded the streets in an attempt to get to family, or just get out of the major cities. Roads that had never been designed to handle that kind of traffic were at a standstill with congestion.

That’s when everything got worse. More and more of the infection spread every day. Some countries tried to impose quarantines, but they didn’t help. There were even reports of people shooting anyone who came to their door, even before they could be identified as infected or not.
Since there was no cure or treatment, people who had been bitten were herded up and mass executed. The government had tried to suppress it, saying that they were being sent to be treated and kept separate from society for their own protection.

Word about what was really being done spread almost as fast as the contagion. You can imagine the line of people willing to admit having been bit wasn’t very long. People who had a child or family member that had been infected weren’t willing to just turn them in. That led to further spread of it.

Martial law was soon declared, and the government took control of the media. The last thing I saw on the news was what drove me to seclusion in my attic.

It had been a helicopter view of a woman running while being pursued by a lumbering crowd of what first could be confused for angry, blood splattered accident victims. At least until they zoomed in to pan across the individual figures of the crowd.

Some had places where flesh had been torn away from the bone, but all had an empty look except for maybe anger or hunger.

The shot zoomed out to show the woman running again. She wore jeans and a tee-shirt and couldn’t have been out of her twenties.

She looked back at the pursuing zombies and didn’t see the curb she had run up to. She tripped. She tripped hard. It looked like her hand came up in time to stop her head from cracking on the concrete, but it might have been better if it hadn’t.

The horde caught up to her and she disappeared in the frenzied crowd. A spray of blood and torn out entrails went up before the picture had to be cut back to a pallid faced anchor woman who looked too shocked to say anything.

Reports had often come in about the atrocities becoming more rampant, but having seen them on live news had put a whole different prospective on the situation. Anyone who had seen that broadcast would never have forgotten it. I tried to forget it but the scene repeated over and over in my mind.
My thoughts shattered like broken glass when I heard a loud noise that sounded like something had been knocked over in the kitchen. I kept listening, hoping to confirm that I hadn’t just imagined what I heard. There was nothing. If something did move, it was being quiet.

I pushed the light button on my watch, which showed two thirty-seven in the afternoon. I strained my ears and heard only my heavy breathing and heartbeat. I waited.

Time seemed to slow down. My neck had started to stiffen from the tension as I continued listening in silence. I laid still for what I knew had to have been another twenty minutes, but my lying watch said that it had only been five.

As I waited, my eyes strayed to an aluminum bat next to my supply bag. I never really felt like I needed to buy a gun, so It never happened. The bat was the most lethal thing I had in the apartment. It was that or a kitchen knife, but at least with a bat I could keep some distance away from one of them If it came down to it.

The bat was just out of reach in the cramped space I had available. If I had left it two feet closer, it would have been easy to just grab it.
Cold sweat dripped into my eyes, stinging them and making me tear and blink furiously. I turned my head and rubbed my face across my shoulder, clearing my eyes enough to see. I contemplated whether I should chance grabbing it, but I didn’t want to make noise and make whoever was downstairs know I was just above in the crawl space.

I listened some more. There was nothing else to do.
It seemed to be unnaturally quiet again. It was the sort of silence that would build up instead of alleviate terror. I kept imagining some misshapen thing waiting for me, with hollow eyes searching, fixated on the crawlspace entrance, and its mouth dripping with saliva. Something with sharp bones where fingertips should be, matted hair drooping over a drawn and sallow face. I imagined a half rotted nose twitching, searching, inhaling the air to pick up my scent.

I wiped more sweat off my forehead, breaking the stream of incomplete thoughts that forced their way into my mind. It was a cold sweat that grew worse the longer I held still in the silence.

Staying still never felt like such hard work, until now. I tried to breathe slowly, and stop my muscles from trembling in their contorted positions.
I turned my head to the side and laid it flat on the crawlspace floor. No sounds were coming up from the ceiling.

I thought I made out a click, like something closed the front door behind them. I couldn’t be sure if it was just my subconscious playing tricks on me or if I was just hearing what I was hoping for. God I hoped nothing was there.

After some time, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I crawled slowly towards the bat. My body was aching.

A soft glow of natural lighting had lit up the crawlspace from the air vent. I was able to see where I was crawling. I passed a few wooden beams that held up the roof and was glad it wasn’t pitch black. Had it been, I would’ve smacked my head on one of them.

By the time I reached the bat I was drenched with even more sweat than before and out of breath. The air felt too thick to bring into my lungs. I had never been in a situation where I felt threatened. The terror brought back an old craving for a cigarette. Old habits die hard.

I put my ear to the cover, which was much thinner than the crawlspace floor. No sounds came up but I still had a rolling sick feeling in the pit of my stomach from the thought that something was there. I held onto the bat just in case I needed it.

I paused a minute to steady my hands and reached for the lip of the cover. It didn’t have hinges; it was just a piece of drywall slightly bigger than the square hole it laid over.

I moved very slowly, sliding my fingers under one side of the board, while holding the far side steady with the other hand. I lifted the edge about a quarter inch up and paused.

My heart was hammering hard against my chest in anticipation. Nothing happened. I lifted it a few more inches and light leaked up through the opening. I stared down at the indirect light, eyes searching for shadows of any nearby movement.

I remembered locking the front door, as well as piling up most of the living room furniture in front of it, not to mention locking all the windows. Of course, now I began doubting that I locked all the windows. Maybe I had been rushing too fast and left one unlocked.

I lifted the thin squared drywall another couple of inches up and could see the achromatic tile below. My eyes strayed to the stool I used to climb up, it was just off to the side of the crawlspace.

I took a few deep breaths, lifted the plywood more, and lowered my face through the opening. My eyes darted left and right but saw only the empty apartment. I sniffed, the air seemed much cleaner under my temporary home. I hadn’t realized how badly the small space started to smell. It was a musky odor, like meat far past its expiration date.

I wanted to know what was going on outside. Was there someone there?
I grabbed the cover with both hands and pushed it to the far side of the opening, so it was out of my way. There was still silence. For minutes, there was nothing but silence. I couldn’t see anything, but it didn’t mean something wasn’t there.

I lowered myself down as far as I could, after I felt comfortable with going down, and dropped the last couple of feet to the floor. I hadn’t realized how stiff my legs had become until they hit the hard tile. They took the impact ok, but my balance was wobbly. Before I could straiten myself, I fell to the floor.

I dragged myself back up to my feet using my bat as an impromptu cane. I let out a hiss of pain while my eyes continued to dart around the apartment.

Nothing was there, as far as I could see, but my heart refused to stop hammering hard in my chest.

I walked towards the front door. The furniture I had placed in front hadn’t been moved but I still checked to make sure it was locked to ease some of the paranoia. After confirming it was, I then checked all the windows in each room.

I must’ve only imagined someone being in my apartment.

I walked over to the kitchen and saw that the pans I had left hanging on a rack had fallen to the floor when the nail from one side of the rack had broken loose. I wanted to laugh out the relief for the amount of panic that such a stupid, mundane thing could cause.

While standing there, I noticed that there was a foul odor coming from my fridge. With no power for over a week, I should have expected that much. Before I went upstairs I should have put all of the perishables into garbage bags and dropped them down the incinerator shoot. Too late for that.

I decided to try the kitchen faucet but only a trickle came out, followed by nothing. I wasn’t surprised.

I remembered seeing a disaster survival show on The Discovery Channel that said you should fill your tub up with water during a disaster. For some reason that thought had stuck in my head so my bathtub was still mostly full.

I was sorely tempted to peel off the grimy clothes I had been wearing and climb into the room temperature water, but who knows how long that water would have to last. I wasn’t stupid enough to leave the safety of my apartment. If anything, I expected to be there a while, wait it out until the chaos mellows out some more, and eventually scavenge for food when it came down to it.

I used a plastic pitcher from the kitchen and the smallest amount of water as I could to soap up and rinse off in the bathroom. Clothes from the dirty hamper soaked up the water that had spilled on the floor.

I brushed my teeth, flossed, and put on deodorant, taking comfort in those everyday rituals. The thought about shaving off the scruff of beard that I had grown crossed my mind but I didn’t want to waste the water, and didn’t want to risk cutting myself. No one had proved it but I imagined the those who had turned, roaming the streets smelling out people, just waiting for the scent of fresh blood.

I took a good look in the mirror and was startled with what I saw. My hair was a mess, even wet. My eyes were darkly rimmed with bloodshot veins running throughout. My scruffy beard looked out of place on the old me, but seemed to go with my new look.

If I had seen myself walking down the street I might have just crossed to the other side.

I went back to the kitchen to see if there was something slightly more edible than what I had hastily packed upstairs. Maybe I had missed something. I was a bachelor and ate most of my meals out. With no power, the electric stove wasn’t much more useful than a giant paperweight.
There was a box of Honey-Nut Cheerios that was mostly full and had only gone a little bit stale. I snacked on them while I continued my search.
My pantry had never been well stocked, even before my emergency raid of its contents. I fervently wished for pizza delivery, but that wasn’t going to happen.

I went over to the balcony window. I was four floors up, which allowed for a pretty good view of the surrounding area.

The rusty old fire escape ladder still looked retracted on the first floor, so I wasn’t worried about something climbing up. I never used to think about anyone breaking in through the fire escape. It’s funny how you don’t think about things like that in normal circumstances.

The street outside was deserted. There were a few cars left parked against the sidewalks, but their windows had been smashed. I didn’t see any bodies around, which was somewhat of a relief. There weren’t any crowds of the infected either. It seemed quiet for a post-apocalyptic nightmare.
I checked out of the peephole of my front door but saw only darkness. The hallway lights had gone out with the power, and the emergency lighting wasn’t meant to last a long time. I strained my eyes to see something, but there wasn’t any natural lighting in the hall to make out anything.
Everything seemed too quiet. When you’re used to people being everywhere, you take the everyday noise for granted; car stereos, horns, loud neighbors, and kids yelling. I never thought I would miss the screaming kids from down the hall or the sound of morning traffic passing through and angry drivers honking.

I started to wonder if other people barricaded themselves in their apartments like we had been told to do, trying to wait it out until the government fixed everything. If there were others in the building, they were being as quiet as I had been.

I turned away, my back and legs still ached so I did some stretching exercises. My flexibility had pretty much gone, but the limbering and warming up exercises I remembered were easing the ache, bit by bit. Nothing like muscle memory routine to make you feel more normal.

As I bent at the waist, stretching my hamstrings and lower back, I wondered about how humanity in general had dealt with the epidemic. Would people band together to help one another, or would it be an every person for themselves situation?

It would be nice if humanity rose above their baser more selfish instincts to fight together instead of against each other, but I had a feeling that things were more of an, “I’ll get you, and take what’s yours, before you do it to me first.” mentality.

My parents had passed away a few years ago during a car collision. Though I wished they were still around, I took comfort in knowing they wouldn’t have to suffer through the apocalypse. Thank god. I couldn’t imagine worrying about them hundreds of miles away.

I was an only child with a few distant relatives that I hadn’t been on speaking terms with, so I didn’t have anyone to worry about other than myself. I didn’t even own a fish, let alone have a girlfriend. You could say that I was in-between relationships and pets at the moment.

I’d always felt more comfortable being alone. People never bothered me but I liked to have my personal space. I kept thinking about the few connections I had made before all of this. I wished I could have had taken the time to make more. Maybe a few friends, some people I could search for and band together to get out of this mess.

Now I’m thinking like some cheesy horror movie. Maybe next I’ll get an overweight dumb friend, a cricket bat, and head to a pub.

After snacking on a few bags of chips I had left in the pantry, it started getting dark. I was afraid light could be seen from the apartment so I made sure all the blinds were down, especially in my bedroom.

I tried to get comfortable on my bed, but kept tossing and turning. My mind kept racing with the paranoia I developed ever since mayhem struck. I started to have those, “Something is going to break down the door and start tearing me apart at any moment.” thoughts. It was irrational, probably brought on from the recollection of old horror films.

I grabbed a few thick blankets and pillows and moved the stool directly
under the crawlspace entrance. I pushed the blankets up, as well as the pillows to make it a little bit more comfortable.

The stool had been about four feet tall, I was a little over six, and with my hands stretched, I could reach the attic’s entry.

Once I had a grip on the edge of the opening, I gave the stool a soft kick to push it away, and pulled myself up. I didn’t want to leave the impression that there was something above the chair to take interest in.
After I replaced the squared drywall over the hole, I made the blankets into a makeshift nest which wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it was a major improvement over the single thick comforter that I had folded in half as my sleeping space before.

I reposed myself, enjoying the safety I felt. My eyes closed and I had drifted off to sleep. For some reason my sleep was untroubled and thankfully dreamless.

****

I woke up more rested than I had been for weeks. I went back downstairs, not quite as scared as before, but still on edge. The remaining cereal, washed down with warm water made up my breakfast. It wasn’t exactly good but it was something.

I had a small can of baked beans set aside for a late lunch with crackers on the side. I wondered what the cooks on Iron Chef would have done with those kinds of ingredients to work with.

After breakfast something seemed out of place. The windows were all still locked shut and the small barricade was undisturbed in front of the door. What was it? I wandered through the apartment, then it hit me. There was a smell. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but it was getting stronger. It smelled like burning wood and plastic.

I tried to sniff out the smell, nose twitching like a bloodhound, but it wasn’t coming from inside my apartment. I approached the door and looked through the peephole. I could see flickering flames and smoke. It took a moment to realize that the hallway was on fire.

CHAPTER TWO


I tried to swallow but fear and panic completely dried my mouth and throat. I blinked in shock before realizing that I didn’t have much time. Then I started to move.

I lived in an older building that hadn’t gone to the expense of installing a sprinkler system and there sure wasn’t going to be any firemen coming to rescue me.

I hauled myself back up to the crawlspace, stuffed the remaining water and food back into my gym bag, and dropped down a lot faster and harder than I’d meant to.

My foot went out from under me and my ankle exploded with pain. I yelled out several colorful profanities while grabbing my leg. It took a few minutes for the pain to fade away enough for me to move my foot.
I had sprained that ankle pretty badly a few times and fervently prayed that it wasn’t broken. I knew I didn’t have time to waste and needed to get out fast. My bat helped me get back on my feet once again. I limped into the bathroom, gritting my teeth in pain.

I dug out a bottle of Aspirin and another that held half a dozen Percocet. The pills had been leftover from a wisdom tooth extraction. I had the extraction a year ago. I hoped the medicine was still good. The label had been worn away during rough handling.

I limped and tried to put as little weight on my leg as possible while I walked. A sudden jolt of pain flared up when I turned too sharply into the bedroom. I cursed and yelled more, muttering to myself.

I put on an old Army jacket that had occasionally been used for paintball. I unzipped the gym bag and stuffed socks, underwear, a pair of dark jeans, a green fleece, and a sleeping bag into the remaining room. It was bulging, but I could always toss what I wouldn’t need later. If there was a later.
The strap dug into my shoulder with its heavy weight. I overbalanced and put too much weight on my bad leg. My face contorted with the pain.
The apartment was now filling with a light haze of smoke and heat. I coughed several times, my eyes burned and watered uncontrollably. By the time I had reached the window my head felt foggy and I was half hopping from the good leg to the bat.

I tugged on the balcony window but it refused to open. I tried harder, then realized I forgot to unlock it. It opened, but the smoke poured from the window keeping me from the clean air.

I struggled for a while trying to stop myself from coughing. The smoke in my apartment had started getting thick. Unbearably thick. Had I stood in there any longer I probably would’ve passed out.
I couldn’t see how much smoke had filled the living room until it rushed pouring out into the fresh air. I stuck my head over the edge of the windowsill and peered down.

There wasn’t anyone moving on the street, or anyone else trying to get out on the fire escape. The lower floors had smoke pouring out of several windows. I pulled my body out and landed hard on the metal grate.
Disoriented, there was little I could remember about my trip down the fire escape. I had reached the ground level without falling or passing out, much to my surprise.

I staggered, sinking down to my hands and knees. I couldn’t stop the rough, dry coughs coming from my throat. I gasped at the air until my head started to clear. There was no time for it, but I couldn’t just run. Not yet. I was still light headed and unsure as to where I was going.
My head turned back and forth, eyes casting looks at my surroundings. It felt like something was coming. I didn’t see anything, but I had a really bad feeling while standing in the open street, especially since I was right below a brightly burning building.

I took a few limping steps and realized how loud my bat was as it thumped into the sidewalk. I couldn’t move far without it, but the metallic clanging would easily give away where I was at.
I swung the gym bag off of my back, and dug out two pairs of socks. They fit over the end of the bat perfectly and were thankfully black. I tapped the end on the sidewalk a few times. It could still be heard but it was almost as muffled as my footsteps.

The first place I thought of going to was a small coffee shop across the street from the corner of my block. I decided to head there, take a look, and hopefully it was still standing in a habitable condition.
I was almost halfway there before I thought about the last time I was there. It had been a morning pit stop, before heading to work. I sighed and thought back on the days just before the infection began to spread. I never would have thought that things could go so wrong, so fast.
As I walked my neck and shoulder started hurting, due to the frequency of looking behind me, as well as the gym bag hanging there. I had to keep it hanging on the side with the good ankle. It would have been nice to have a backpack, but the tiny one I owned wouldn’t have held half of what I needed.

While walking I looked back at the apartment. I hoped no one had been hiding in their apartment, like I had been. If I had slept a little bit longer, I might have woke up covered in flames.

I looked around and noticed other places had gone up in flames at some time or another, even a few vehicles. Most other buildings that hadn’t been damaged by fire had their windows or doors broken. Nothing looked the same as before, not that I was expecting things to look the same, I just didn’t expect things to look as bad as they did.

The condition of every block was overwhelming. I felt like it was already a year or two after the apocalypse with the way debris, char, and glass was scattered about, along with the clutter and disarray of cars on the street.
By the time I had reached the end of the block my ankle had swelled up in my hiking boot to the point where it felt like a clamp. If I loosened the laces, It might have felt better, but it probably would’ve made walking more difficult.

I felt light headed from the pain, and knew I couldn’t make it much farther.

The wooden green door to the coffee shop was closed, and of course locked. I thought about smashing in the front window’s glass and just climbing in, but that would make a lot of noise. In fact, it would be too easy for someone to come inside behind me the same way.

I kept going past the building until I turned around the corner and made my way down a small alley behind the coffee shop. I leaned against a rusty dumpster at the beginning of the opening and scanned the narrow space between the buildings.

The smell from the dumpster was rancid. I did my best to ignore it and kept limping.

There was scattered trash along the building, but past the majority of the filth was someone facing the far end of the alley. I could see that it was a woman. A tall woman.

She was standing past the freight entrance of the coffee shop. She must have been a little over six feet tall, with dirty blonde hair, wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. Her hair hung down to her shoulder blades in curls, and contrasted sharply with her black shirt.

I couldn’t believe that I had found someone else. I wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. My weariness clouded my judgment enough to fixate on that one fact.

I staggered towards her with mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration. I had approached her until I was less than five feet away but she hadn’t reacted to my presence behind her. Maybe she hadn’t heard my footsteps.
I cleared my throat to draw her attention and mumbled, “Hello?” somewhat hesitantly.

At the sound of my voice her head cocked sideways, as if straining to hear me. As she slowly turned the horror of what lay before me became evident.
Her movements were jerky, like a puppet with tangled strings. Half of her face looked like something had been gnawing on it. There was a gaping hole through her cheek and bottom lip that matched the one where her left eye should’ve been.

Her right eye was almost completely white and seemed to freeze at my feet, passing a sidelong stare near the ground where I stood. Bloody and chipped teeth were visible through her cheek as well as through her loosely hung open jaw. The jaw was sitting at a slight angle, as though broken. She jerked a few steps closer.

I took a few steps back out of reflex, forgetting in panic about my twisted ankle until my weight had come down hard on it. I sprawled backwards, barely able to hang onto the sock sheathed bat in my hand as I lost balance and landed flat on my back.

Before I could get back on my feet her disgusting form towered over me, and sprung down at me.

I brought my bat up with both hands, holding her at bay. The bat was pressed against her throat. Boney hands wrapped around me like a morbid hug as nails dug into my back.

The rough material of my Army jacket kept the hands from the skin of my back, but the arms pulled me close enough for that putrid smelling mouth to snap at my face. I pulled my good knee up to my chest to keep it back, which gave me the leverage to twist my hips and throw it off of me.
I had a rough time pushing myself to my feet with the bad leg. I was surprised to find that it was still trying to get up. Before it could finish getting to its feet I swung the bat in time to knock its arm out from under it.

The precarious balance it had was lost. The normal reaction of putting a hand out to stop hitting the ground seemed to be missing from it. It landed face first into the ally floor.

Before it could start to get back up I brought the bat down against the back of its neck, which gave a sickening yet satisfying crack. I repeated the motion over and over again.

I don’t know how long I kept swinging, until I realized that all that was left of its head was fragments of bone, splattered meat and flesh, like rotted hamburger.

My hands were trembling so hard that my grip barely held onto the bat and my throat was raw and sore, like I had been yelling, but I couldn’t recall if I had yelled. I hoped I hadn’t made too much noise.

Breathing was difficult, as each breath came in ragged gasps, and my whole body shook with weariness and exhaustion. I looked back up the lit road, sure that something must have heard the ruckus I had made. I noticed the sun was setting, but in the remaining light there was nothing I could see approaching my direction.

I tried the door, but it was locked. I didn’t want to destroy it, but I needed to get somewhere safe. It wouldn’t be very safe with a door that couldn’t close and lock. My bat fit between the doorknob and the frame. Using it as a lever in combination with my shoulder, I managed to pop it open. They must have only locked the handle and not the deadbolt in their rush to get home.

My hands were still trembling like mad and my ankle didn’t feel like an ankle. It felt more like a blowtorch flame that had welded my foot to my calf. I took a few hesitant steps into the dark rear of the shop, still in shock from what had occurred only moments before. I hoped I wouldn’t have to run into another one inside.

I closed the door behind me and bolted it shut. Thank God only the knob and not the deadbolt had been locked. I breathed in, the air was musty and flat. I could make out the smell of rot, the sort of smell a corpse would have. That was not promising.

I stopped going in when I noticed that I didn’t have my gym bag. I must have dropped it in the scuffle. I didn’t want to go back out, but my supplies, especially my flashlight, were in the bag. I unbolted and reopened the door before I could convince myself not to.

I limped a few feet back towards the entrance to the street, and saw that my bag didn’t drop far from the remains of the body. I made sure not to look at it, and as quickly as I could, I hobbled, grabbed the bag’s strap, and dragged it back into the dark coffee shop.

Before I closed the door, I dug out my flashlight. It was part of the radio, and had an internal battery that was crank powered. It was a bit loud to run the crank, but it wouldn’t be much more fun to stumble around in the dark, looking for a few D cell batteries. Besides, once charged, the light would last quite a while.

The small light illuminated the small back storeroom of the coffee shop. A few shelves of coffee beans and a great deal of flavoring syrup bottles were stacked everywhere. A thin layer of dust had built up on the surfaces of every shelf and table-top. I looked around hoping to find useful supplies. There were a few cases of cylindrical water bottles, which probably would have cost over five dollars each, if I wasn’t just appropriating them.

I guzzled the first one down too quickly, and half of it came back up and all over the floor. I tried to clean up in the wash-sink, but the water was off there just like my apartment. I poured an overpriced water bottle over my head, and splashed what was left in it on to my face. This brought back some clarity, and washed off some of the grim.

I wandered through the back of the shop, and found a small break room and bathroom. The over-sized windows in the front of the coffee shop had dark blinds drawn across them. I didn’t feel comfortable knowing glass was the barrier between me and the others, but there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I made sure to keep my light from shining in that direction to avoid unwanted attention. Who knows how the light would look from the street.

There were some moldy pastries in the glass display case, as well as some rotten fruit. The whole world seemed to be turning into one giant garbage can.

I was relieved when I finally found a few edibles. There were bottles of soda, iced tea, some trail mix and protein bars. I also found a plastic flashlight, the kind you could buy at a ninety-nine cent store. The batteries were dead, of course. It seems like no one likes to prepare. I tried smacking it a few times, but no light issued forth. At least the radio light wouldn’t have that problem.

Being around the smell of coffee brought back some caffeine cravings, but the spoiled food helped curb the feeling. Caffeine would play merry hell on what little sleep I could get. There were a few gourmet chocolate bars that I snagged, as well as the clean tablecloths that had been left out.
I set up a temporary shelter in the break room. Since I couldn’t carry all that water with me, I dragged a few cases back to make the toilet temporarily usable. It might be a waste, but after going into bottles and a plastic tub, I felt like I deserved it.

I had pushed some of the heavy metal shelves against the back door. I used bags of coffee beans, and flavoring syrup to barricade the door that led to the break room from the front of the store.

I then proceeded to move the wooden table and chairs against the locked break room door. They weren’t exactly heavy enough to stop anyone who really wanted to get in, but it was the best I could do.
I don’t know if I was being paranoid or just cautious.

I felt debilitated from exhaustion. All I wanted to do was sleep for the next seventy two hours. I stifled a yawn, as I laid out my bedding. I could have just curled up on the bare floor and fallen asleep, but I would sleep longer if I had a modicum of comfort.

My sleeping bag was bright red and very thick. I crawled into it while it was zipped up before I realized how much it would have slowed me down if I needed to get up in a hurry. I unzipped it, but kept it folded over me for warmth and comfort.

My bat stayed close at hand. I felt safer knowing I only had to reach out for it. It may be irrational, but I think a weapon will always have to be near me before I can relax.

I thought it would be easy to fall asleep considering my exhaustion, but I was still too restless. I flipped from side to side. As strange as it might sound, I was too tired to sleep.

Restless, I turned my radio on and spun through the different frequencies, hearing nothing but static. I gave up trying to pick up anything, and started to snack on what I had plundered. Plundered. It made me feel like a pirate.

Once I had finished a chocolate flavored, but not tasty protein bar, half a real chocolate bar, and some trail mix I took two Percocet. The pain receded from my ankle, and I fell into a troubled sleep.

CHAPTER THREE

(Chance Escape Book 1, Book 2 coming soon)