Luke lead the way out of the store and to the truck. Chloe tossed the bags in the back, then pointed toward the back of the dinner. Nodding Luke led the way to the McDonald's as they rounded the building they realized it had already been hit. A red SUV had been driven through the front of the restaurant. The zombified driver clawing at the window, made Chloe cringe. Inside the place looked ransacked, wrappers and cups littered the floor, chairs had been toppled and broken. Sighing Chloe gestured for Luke to go ahead. Gripping the tire iron tighter she followed him through the door. The smell was the first thing she noticed, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been she was sure, but the rotten meat and vegetable stench was not pleasant. Holding the rifle at the ready, Luke slid behind the counter and into the kitchen area. Chloe frowned, as the sound of someone sobbing reached her ears.
Reaching out she grabbed, Luke’s jacket, whispering, “Do you hear that?”
He nodded and pointed toward the store room. They edged closer and Chloe tried the door, it was locked. Inside the crying stopped, and the sound of fevered scrambling came through the door, yet it didn’t open.
“Maybe whoever's inside thinks we’re zombies trying to get in. Say something.” Luke suggested.
“Women are less threatening than men.”
Chloe shot him a glare, but conceded. “Um, hello…”
“Go away!” A frightened female voice shouted from behind the door.
They exchanged a glance and Luke gestured for her to keep going. “Listen we just want to help, if we can.”
“You can’t help me…” She sobbed.
The door wrenched open, and a sickly looking chunky blond glared at her from the doorway. “I was bit, you stupid bitch, I’m done for.” Chloe took a step back, shocked at the woman’s venom. They were just trying to help. The woman continued, “none of this woulda happen if those fucking hillbilles had just left us alone. They got my whole family turned…” The woman’s anger turned to despair and hiccupped a sob. “We shouldn’t have stopped, but the kids were so hungry and tired.” She sank to the floor her eyes glazed and mumbling unintelligibly.
Chloe and Luke exchanged a glance, unsure what to do. The woman slumped over, eyes falling shut, and began to convulse. Chloe reached for the woman but Luke stopped her as the poor lady began vomiting blood and bile. They began backing up as blood leaked from her eyes and nose. With a coughing sputter she collapsed on the floor. Chloe moved closer to Luke, the scene looking far too much like Paul for her comfort.
Tugging on his coat she whispered, “We should go.”
He looked from the woman to her, seemed to be debating something then nodded. As they began to back away, the woman twitched.
“She’s still alive,” Luke murmured, pausing.
“No, she’s not.” Chloe tightened her hold on Luke’s jacket pulling him back with her.
The woman’s head snapped toward them milky white eyes, in a rage filled face. As she struggled to her feet, Chloe dragged Luke from the kitchen, only to be confronted by a huge man brandishing a handgun in the dining area. Glancing over her shoulder, to see the woman had managed to get to her feet and was coming after them.
The big man asked, “one of those things back there?”
“Yeah, Roy.” Luke replied.
Chloe swallowed as Roy jerked his head to the side, and they scurried out of the way. As the woman rounded the corner, Roy pulled the trigger. The sound seemed much louder than it should have from such a small gun. Chloe clung to Luke’s arm, more scared than she had ever been in her life as the guy turned toward them.
“Either of you bit.”
“No.” Luke replied as she shook her head.
“Good,” He shoved the gun into a holster on his hip. “Come on, let’s get out of here. The sound attracts the little bastards.”
Chloe let Luke guide her out. One minute that woman had been talking and the next dead or undead. Her mind was having a hard time processing. Killing the decaying ones made sense, they had to be dead, but that woman…
Shaking her head she tuned back into the conversation between the men. “We cleaned out most these places already. Me and some of the boys are hold up in the Wal-Mart. I suppose you’re living on the farm still with Rob and his family, right?”
“Sofia must be about ready to pop. You and your girlfriend must be looking for supplies, huh?
“Yeah, we need some supplies.”
Chloe was about to argue the girlfriend remark when she noted the wariness in Luke’s voice. Instead she stayed quiet and switched her death grip to his hand.
Roy stopped at the truck, two other guys climbed out of a SUV parked next to it, both holding shot guns. “I’ll make you a deal. Come on over to the Wal-Mart and you can have whatever you need, within reason, for a cow.”
Roy shrugged, “one should suffice.”
“Deal.” Luke held out his hand and they shook.
“Follow us over.” Roy climbed into the SUV with the other guys.
Chloe climbed in the truck and Luke followed. As she reached for her seatbelt, Luke caught her arm and tugged. Her leggings offered no resistance against the fake leather and she slid to sit next to him. He glanced out the windshield, then said, “girlfriends sit in the middle.”
“Right.” She murmured, buckling the lap belt.
“No, very far from it. How do you know these guys?”
Luke started the truck and followed the other vehicle toward the Wal-Mart. “Roy owned a farm, he did business with Rob from time to time. I don’t trust him, or his buddies, so keep your guard up.”
“Ok.” As they drove Chloe cleared her mind, she’d deal with all the crazy stuff later, right now they needed to focus on staying alive.
Following the SUV around the Wal-Mart to an employee entrance in back, Luke glanced at the tractor trailers sitting behind the building. A few sat near the loading docks as if waiting to be either loaded or unloaded. Getting out, they trailed after the men, entering the building. The door led to the stockroom, shelves of stuff sat untouched, platelets dotted the floor some ripped open others collecting dust.
Roy took them to a set of black swinging doors, he pushed a cart into her hands and tossed a head lamp to her. “Have fun, sweetheart.”
Catching the head lamp she slipped it on, and grabbed the cart heading for the doors. When Luke made to follow Roy put out his hand. “She’ll be fine the store is zombie free. I wanna talk to you.”
“I’ll be fine.”
Luke nodded, but didn’t look convinced. Flicking on the headlamp she pushed through the doors. Pausing she tried to get her bearings. The store was dimly lit by the skylights in the roof, giving it an eerie feel outside her circle of light. She’d come out in the hunting section and from her position she could see that the gun cases had been pillaged. Turning she began to push her cart toward the clothing section when a peg of hemostats caught her eye. Her mind flashed back to Betty’s labor and how the doctor had clamped the umbilical cord, before cutting it. She grabbed several from the peg tossing them into the cart. Her eyes flicked over each aisle as she passed, as she tried to figure out what they needed. Aftering making a complete circuit of the store, she stopped in the baby section and was tossing onesie into the cart when she heard a whiney voice behind her.
“Luke’s a lucky man.”
Chloe jerked around, to find a skinny greasy looking guy standing behind her. He eyed her and then the cart.
“Boss wanted to know if you’re almost done.”
“I’m done.” She replied, probably too quickly. His gaze made her skin crawl and she wanted to get back to Luke, load this stuff in the truck and go home.
He led her through another set of black swinging doors and into the store room. As they moved through the maze of crates, shelves and boxes, they guy said. “We’ve got a pretty good thing here and plenty of room. If you’d like to stay…”
Chloe shot him a glare and he shut up. They turned a corner to find Luke and Roy standing next to a pile of empty boxes.
“There’s the little lady,” Roy chuckled. “Ok boys pack the stuff up and load it.”
Chloe moved to Luke’s side counting to ten in her head to keep her temper from flaring. Luke’s good natured ribbing about her heights she could tolerate, but this guys condescending attitude pissed her off. Yet they need the supplies so she would bite her tongue.
Author's Note: Unedited Version