Blood Runs Black – Chapter 1
There are some things employee handbooks just do not cover. Number one on that list? What to do in case a zombie apocalypse happens on your shift. Good thing Alex is a quick learner…too bad the zombies are, too.
Sequel to “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies”.
Middle of the night. Kinda.
When I told her I was leaving, Shelly dug out a notebook and told me to write my story. She said that even if this is the end of the human race, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the universe, and maybe one day another civilization will rise. When it does, our story deserves to be told and that, even if I die tomorrow, I deserve to be remembered. So. Here’s my story.
To whoever is reading this, my name is Alex Gimble. I worked at Walmart as a night stocker. I was working the night the virus outbreak began. One minute I was stocking dog food, the next, I was killing my first zombie. Or, as Shelly called them: trolls. Lori and I called them “pukers” at first, cause that’s what they did right before they turned, but we got sick of that (haha). Then Ryan suggested started calling them “pacers” cause that’s what they did once they turned. We would watch them out in the parking lot. Unless something got their attention, they would just pace back and forth, all shuffling feet and dead eyes.
Anyway, the whole thing started around three am. Jolene and I were working the pet department. I was putting up the big bags of dog food, she was stacking the cans. We weren’t talking much, so when the person in the next aisle decided to throw their guts up, it was kinda hard to miss. Especially when you’re used to it like us. When you work the night shift, you don’t generally get a lot of people coming in, and when you do, they’re usually either tweakers, parents with sick kids, or the sick person, theirself. So yeah, you get used to having to clean up puke.
Jo and I, we’ve worked together for over a year, so we knew the drill. She just looked at me like “this again?” then went to help the poor soul while I went for the cleanup station. I heard her asking “are you okay?”, this weird sound, and then she was screaming. I ran back to see what the hell was going on, and she and this scruffy looking guy were on the floor. He was holding her by one leg, and she was kicking at his face with her other. I thought maybe he was trying to do something….well, bad, to her, you know? We get sickos everyday, so someone dumb enough to try it in the middle of the store wasn’t outside the realm of possibility, that’s all I’m saying.
Then I got closer and I saw…he was chewing on her ankle. Trying to, anyway. Jo has this condition…I forget what it’s called, but she always wears two or three layers of clothes to keep warm, on top of thick socks and work boots. I’m no expert, but I’m not an idiot either. There wasn’t anything good for me to use in that aisle, so as soon as I saw all the black liquid and him trying to eat her, I ran back and grabbed a couple cans of dog food. Came back and started pounding on his neck with them. I wasn’t trying to bash his head in, I just wanted to break his neck. I figured that would work the same.
Okay, I hoped it would work. And it did. Kinda. He let go of her to go after me, but I guess I did enough damage to take out his legs. He just laid there, hands trying to grab at either one of us, growling and grunting, smearing that black stuff everywhere. Jo got to her feet, dumped all the product off a shelf, and together, we unhooked it from the backboard and just kept slamming it down on its head until it was a bloody mess. When it finally stopped moving, we just stood there, out of breath, staring at each other like “what the hell was that?” That’s when we heard other screams.
At the end of the hour, we went from having about forty people, all together (managers, stockers, cashiers, customers), to about fifteen. We spent the next three hours locking the store down. Panic gates were put over the doors, we used the fork lifts to layer the shelf stands against them to give them more strength. The garden center was the hardest part to lock down, but we did the best we could.
Ryan suggested moving our cars in front of the doors to prevent anyone ramming the panic gates with their own cars. Lori ran over to the trucks parked out front to see if any of the drivers were in them. There were a few there, I forget how many, but two of them had pacers in them. She came back with Kyle, a driver from one of the others. He offered to move his truck to block one of the entrances, too. Jo came up with the idea of parking some of the bigger cars like her Explorer and my Tahoe in the repair garage in case we needed to make a quick getaway. Tammy, one of the customers, also had a Tahoe, and one of the guys, I forget his name. He turned a few days later, anyway, but he had a pickup truck. We moved them all into the garage, then parked the smaller cars against the door, and had Kyle park his big rig in front of them. So anyone trying to ram the cars would have to ram the truck first.
Kyle had a gun, so he went back out, shot the pacers in the other trucks, got the keys and did the same thing with those rigs. By the time we were done shoring up the entrances, we had a wall of cars and trucks between us and the outside world. Only in the front though. The sides were unprotected, so we basically crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. There wasn’t anything else we could do.
When we were done, we fit as much supplies as we could into the cars in the garage, strapped some spare tires on top of them, for just in case, and then Ryan went up in the manager’s office while the rest of us waited in the cars. He kept an eye on the cameras as the mobs came and went. We took turns watching, and using the ovens in the bakery to make food, and carry it back to the garage to eat.
Around day three, I think, we finally decided it was safe to come out and stay out. When people realized that we weren’t an easy target, I guess they just gave up. We didn’t relax though.
Right after we locked everything down, we all called our families. Jo got ahold of her husband. Told him to keep their daughter home, and lock the house down. Basically, sit tight for as long as they could. Ryan got ahold of his mom, but his father had already turned and attacked her. She was on her way to the hospital when he called. His sister was with her. She refused to leave their mother, but passed the warning on to her husband. Everyone else…I don’t know all the stories. I know, by the end of the second week, between family members and the people they brought with them, our number had more than doubled. Neither of my parents answered their phones, but I kept calling anyway.
In the first week, we had six people turn, three people killed themselves, and ten? Twelve? I think? A bunch of people. They left. By the end of the second week, though, things calmed down and everything started blurring together. Joe ended up in charge, which, frankly, never should’ve happened. He was a terrible manager, and an even worse leader. It was Jo, or me, or Lori coming up with ideas, like hooking up the hoses outside for showers. Using the shelves to give us all our own private spaces. You know, things that make living a bit easier to bear when the world is falling apart.
Then the power started flickering. I knew it was coming. I tried warning Joe, but he wouldn’t listen. I started making plans with Lori and Jo that day. We had never unpacked the cars in the garage, so whenever one of us was on monitor duty, the others would sneak more supplies out to the cars. We caught Ryan doing the same thing one night with the pickup truck, and brought him into our plan. He and his son, AJ were a huge help. He had worked in the sporting goods department, so he had snuck out a bunch of camping supplies. Camping stoves, cans of propane, tents, guns, the whole works.
Then Scott showed up, and we almost got busted. Joe told Scott we had plenty of tents to spare. We thought for sure he was going to take one look at the stock and know that some were missing, but we should’ve known he was too lazy for that. He told Ryan to go fetch the stuff instead. Scott and I went with him, and Scott told us to save some of the tents for ourselves. Tried telling us to get out while we could. Joe’s little flunky, Andy, was there, so I couldn’t say anything to him about the plans we were making.
We talked that night though. He told us about Shelly’s dad having a farm and how they were trying to make their way to it. After they fell asleep, I talked to the others. We agreed that I would sneak out and follow them. Talk to them outside of town about us joining their group.
Only problem was, I didn’t get a chance. The sneaking out part went as planned, but once I found them, Scott kept telling me to shut up. He said we could talk when we got back to their base. We kept having to duck into stores and behind cars when groups of pacer came by, so I decided maybe it’d be a good idea to shut up until we got out of there.
Then we got to the house, and I met Shelly and the others, and right as I was trying to talk to Scott again, hell broke loose.
They bombed my home. I felt the ground shake, smelled the smoke, and there wasn’t anything I could do but run and beg the others to go back with me. To try and rescue what few friends I still had in this world. Shelly told me I was welcome to leave, but she wasn’t going, and she wasn’t asking anyone else to go along with me.
When we finally stopped running, I was too tired to argue anymore. I passed out. When I woke up, Bridgette was already awake. She was laying facing me, just staring off into space. She had this look I remember seeing on the faces of soldiers in the old textbooks. I never really understood why they looked so…blank. Like the camera didn’t even register to them. I think I get it now though. It’s not that nothing was registering – they just didn’t care. They were numb.
Last night, I was numb. This morning, seeing her face…it reminded me of Lori, and Jo, and. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t stand the idea of taking another step away. I knew I couldn’t go alone though. So I got her attention, and we talked. She hadn’t really wanted to leave either. She had family she hadn’t heard from in town and, like me, had planned on leaving to head back before the bombing had started.
Shelly went to get some rest, and B suggested taking just what we needed from the wagons and leave while they were sleeping. I couldn’t agree to that though. Not after seeing the bags under Shelly’s eyes and realizing that she must’ve stayed awake to keep watch the entire time everyone else was sleeping. I’m also not sure I want to start that slippery slope from, you know, civilized (?) behavior. The end of the world isn’t reason enough to treat everyone else like they’re nothing.
In the end, she agreed with me, and we waited for everyone else to wake up to talk to them. I tried to convince them to go with us one more time, but they refused. They have a place to be, and even if they didn’t, they had kids with them. They couldn’t put the kids at risk, which, I understood. I didn’t like it, but I understood.
Shelly gave us a bunch of warnings, like staying off the main road and not to use the guts as camouflage trick, then gave us both a backpack for supplies. They have too many people to spare much of anything, but she gave us a couple flashlights, some water, ramen, a couple bats and a tent. She was going to give us sleeping bags, too, but honestly, we didn’t even need the tent. Not after she warned us about the hordes. There’s no way we’re sleeping out in the open, not if we can help it. The only reason we took the tent was in case it started raining. If it was raining too hard to keep walking, we could set it up and wait out the storm, nice and dry. For warmth, there are plenty of houses where we are. We found a couple comforters in the house we’re at now, but they’re too big for the backpacks. We took a couple throws though. Kinda rolled them up and put them through the top loops of our packs. I wanted to put them in plastic bags to keep them dry, but Shelly told us sound gets the pacer’s attention, so that was a no. She told us to get our hands on a gallon of bleach ASAP, and wrote down instructions on how to use it to purify water.
Speaking of Shelly…there’s something more about her than what she told us. I thought Scott was the guy in charge, but I’m beginning to wonder. It seemed like everyone looked to her for direction. She was on top of everything. The packing and unpacking, who slept where, who did what. If she is the one in charge, well…she’s no Joe, that’s for sure. I hope they reach her dad’s. She wrote the address down for me. Said to tell the person in charge that she sent me. So maybe we’ll meet again.
It’s almost time to wake B up. Since there’s only two of us, we agreed that we’ll split the night into two shifts. I was hoping to reach town before sunset, but Shelly must’ve taken us further than I thought, cause we’re still a good distance away. We saw a few pacers today. I’m afraid Shelly’s right about them. They were headed for the town, just like us, which means we’re probably going to see a lot of them soon. Even worse, since they don’t have to stop to rest, we might end up in the middle of a horde.
Twenty more minutes, and then it’s time to wake her up and try and get some sleep. Maybe. There’s no moon out there to see by, but we have flashlights and I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep anyway, so maybe we’ll try to get a little further tonight. Twenty minutes, and I have nothing to say. Maybe B will have something to add. If I decide to sleep, I’ll give this to her. At the very least, it will give her something to do to pass the time.
Hell with it, I’m done for the night.
I wasn’t gonna write in this stupid thing, but I got bored. I’m Bridget. Dunno why Al’s calling me B. Probably cause he wasn’t sure how to spell it. Not all of us got easy names like Alex and Scott and Kyle and what fucking ever.
I don’t really have a story to tell either. Compared to Shel and Al, I had it easy. I worked at one of the hotels off the highway, and it was night shift. So, dead, y’know? I was doing homework at the front desk, minding my own business, and the phone started ringing. Picked it up, and it was one of the guests, screaming and crying that her husband was trying to eat their son. Then people started running down to the front desk covered in blood. I called 911, but I kept getting a busy signal. I didn’t even know that could happen, but I guess when you have an entire nation freaking the fuck out…
I hung up, and tried helping people, but once the Z’s started coming down into the lobby, I said “nope” and locked myself in the back office. We had a mini-fridge back there, and I paced myself while I waited for things to die down. People cleared out pretty fast, so I didn’t have to worry about running out of food. I waited a while longer after everyone was gone, just to make sure, and I kept a watch through the security cameras. There were a couple Z’s wandering the halls, but only about a handful, and they were all on the same two floors. I did a quick walkthrough of the floors that I knew were empty, just making sure everything was locked down, y’know? Got to one, and I could hear a baby screaming, I remembered that woman talking about her son being ate, so I ran out to the parking lot, which, in hindsight was really stupid, cause there were a few Z’s still wandering around out there, but I couldn’t stand the idea of another baby gettin’ hurt, and my car was right up front anyway, so I grabbed the crowbar outta the trunk and went to play hero.
Look, I’m not ever gonna call myself a good person, alright? But zombie apocalypse or no, even I wouldn’t leave behind a baby. When I opened the door to that room, I expected to find someone there. Dead, yeah, but still. I didn’t expect someone to abandon their baby. Who the fuck does that shit? So now, I’m in the middle of a zombie apoc, and I had a baby to take care of. I’m only 19! I don’t even like kids, wtf?
It got a lil easier when I found Shia. I think that’s how you spell her name. That’s how Shia Lebouf spells his name, so whatev. She was older, she knew a lil about babies, so she helped. Then Shel and her friends found us and took the baby, and that was great, but this whole thing just sucks. My dad was an asshole, so I don’t care if he made it or not, and mom died last year, so yeah I don’t care about that. But I finally had friends, dammit, and they’re probably all dead now, too.
Alex is okay, at least. He says his friends are smart and probably left as soon as the bombing started. Maybe I can make new friends. If they’re not assholes and if we ever even make it there. We walked all day today and we barely got anywhere. And we’re in the woods, so I can’t even see where we are, so I’m totally lost. This sucks sucks SUCKS.
I’m hungry, but we don’t have a lot of food, and there was nothing good in this place. It’s like, all vegan and gluten free crap. Who even eats that shit? There’s beer, but I’m supposed to wake Al up in an hour, so that’s useless. This totally sucks. UGH.