Sunday 6 July 2014
It should have been an easy job. Every second had been meticulously planned, every move that they were to make had been choreographed and rehearsed, every person on the job vetted by the big boss, and still, here they were, stuck inside a supermarket because someone on the team had screwed up. Luke buried his head in his hands, his back hard up against a rack of shelves. Earlier, he’d pulled a packet of biscuits from those shelves and had eaten at least two thirds of the contents. Chocolate biscuit crumbs littered the floor around him.
‘Mason, you fucking idiot!’ The statement was punctuated by a dull thump that Luke recognised as a fist making contact with a face. He moved his hands from his face to his ears, not wanting to hear the rest of the beating that Mason was about to take.
Despite his choice of career, Luke abhorred violence. He’d grown up in a home where beatings were the norm, and he’d suffered at the hands of both of his parents. His mother was a mean drunk and his father just liked inflicting pain. At fifteen, Luke had run away from home. He didn’t know if his parents had bothered searching for him, or if they’d simply been glad that they no longer had the little pest to take care of. His life away from home had been difficult, but nowhere near as violent as it had been with his parents. He’d always managed to find some place safe to sleep, and his sweet face and scrawny physique ensured that restaurant and café owners would throw him the occasional and appreciated meal.
After a few long minutes, Mason’s beating stopped. Luke assumed it was because Carter’s hand was sore. Bloodied and without so much as a sideways glance, Mason stumbled past the aisle that Luke had take up residence in. Carter, however, didn’t pass. Instead, he stomped his way along the aisle and dropped down beside Luke.
‘Biscuit?’ Luke asked, holding the nearly empty packet up to Carter’s face. A blood-covered hand selected a biscuit.
‘Thanks, buddy. Trust you to find the best cookies in the store. And thank God we don’t have to pay for them because the price of these is astronomical,’ Carter replied.
‘Well, it’s not like we don’t actually have the money to cover the cost of these.’
Luke’s comment made Carter laugh. He slapped Luke’s leg just above the knee, making Luke flinch.
‘Sorry. I forgot about that. How’re you doing?’ asked Carter.
‘The bleeding has stopped. But after that slap, I’d better check it again.’ Luke grinned. He was weary from both blood loss and the unexpected escape they’d been forced to make.
‘Fucking Mason. It’s his fault that we’re here. No one was supposed to get hurt. We were there for the money and that was supposed to be it. But that fucking moron . . . shooting the guard. We’re fucked, all of us, once Ray gets wind of this.’
‘To be honest, Greg, I think we’ll be fucked well before Ray hears.’ Luke motioned towards the front of the store. ‘What the fuck is that shit out there?’
Carter looked towards the entrance. Everything that could possibly be moved had been used to create a barricade preventing anyone from entering or exiting the supermarket. An uneasy silence passed between them.
‘I have no fucking idea, but we’ve gotta find a way out of here, and we’ve gotta find it quickly. I don’t think the barricade’s gonna hold for much longer.’
‘They’re zombies. That’s what they are.’ Mason had managed to sneak up on them and was standing at the head of the aisle.
‘Fucking idiot!’ snapped Carter.
‘Look at them, Carter. What the hell else do you think they are?’
Greg Carter, career criminal, turned his eyes towards the parking lot, which was just visible from where he sat. A few cars were still parked in the lot but were gradually being overrun by the horde of rabid, bloodied, almost-humans gathering outside the supermarket.
‘Look at that one, Greg,’ Luke said. He pointed at a grey haired man standing directly opposite their aisle.
‘Does it look like it’s . . .’ Carter couldn’t bring himself to finish his thought.
‘Sniffing? Yes. I think it is.’ Luke watched intently as what had once been a man sniffed the air.
‘It’s picking up our scent. Predatory animals do it when they hunt. I think it can smell our blood,’ Mason added.
‘Not just that, Mason . . . it’s the guard you killed at the bank.’ Carter’s shoulders dropped and he hung his head between his arms, tired and worn out from the bungled bank job. ‘We really need to find a way out of here before they find a way in.’
. . . To be continued . . .