Erin took a better look at the staggering men who had wandered into the store then shook her head. “I’m not in the dream, right?”
She took a few almost drunken steps back as she tried to rectify her understanding of the world, and what she saw walking toward her. The word ‘zombie’ appeared above each of their heads, soon followed by level designations. They were level seven and ten respectively.
“No…” Erin shook her head. This was actually happening, wasn’t it?
It took her a moment to come to terms with the situation, but it was not like she had never faced a monster before. It was a daily occurrence in the dream.
She back-pedaled slightly, her legs swinging side to side with her movements. “Good going Erin. All those chances you had to go hunt in the cemetery with your friends, and you blew them off…”
Walkie-Talkie to her mouth once more, she called out to every staff member and let them know that monsters had invaded. While Tyrone and Bee had been too busy to remember that other people existed, Erin was a little more self-aware. This was a situation for the entire store!
Dozens of people all tried to talk at once. It was far too chaotic for her voice to be heard properly, so she stopped answering.
Several more zombies staggered toward the door from the parking lot. She could barely see it, but one person who had just pulled in immediately backed out and drove away as multiple zombies attempted to pile onto their car.
A few customers popped up to see what was going on. A younger woman shrieked shrilly and threw down her packages. “Zombies!” she screamed as she ran through the store.
Panic set in, but Erin could do nothing about it. “Think Erin!”
From what she knew about zombies, they were hard to kill without magic. They were slow and stupid, however.
She cast her gaze frantically about then zeroed in on the one thing that might help. Erin rushed to an abandoned shopping cart nearby then spun it around to face the growing horde.
“I’m sorry! Your money is no good here!” She rushed forward and rammed the cart into the closest zombie. It was knocked away, sent sprawling backwards while it took its closest zombie friend down with it.
Unfortunately, these were not zombies like what one might see on television. They had stats and resistance to physical damage. She continually rammed zombies with her cart until the plastic frame began to splinter.
“What’s going…” called Willie as he rushed around the corner. “On?”
“Zombie apocalypse!” cried Erin excitedly. She then rammed another zombie and sent it flying.
Willie immediately called over to HR and told them to call the police. Ashton’s voice came over the walkie-talkie. “Willie, what’s going on out there!”
“Zombies, boss lady! We need to lock the doors!” He didn’t wait for Ashton to answer, though she did inform him that she was heading to the front with the keys.
Willie weaved through a few of the walking corpses and snatched up a cart of his own. They held off the zombie wave for a moment, but frightened customers rushed the exit door. Designed only to open when someone tried to leave, the doors had kept the zombies out on that side to the extent that they had not even noticed their existence. However, the moment the shoppers exited, over a dozen zombies moved toward them from all sides. The first two who managed to make it out kept running through the parking lot, while an unfortunate older woman went down screaming. Rotting teeth tore into aged flesh as the grandmotherly woman breathed her last.
Fortunately for her the pain ended quickly. Unfortunately for everyone else, her body kept the automated doors open since the zombies that were mauling her were certainly producing emotion movement. Zombies that were too late to join in and have a taste of grandma ignored her swarmed corpse. They shambled through the constantly opening and closing doors in search of a meal that wasn’t so old and tough.
Ashton, and one of the team members at the checkout joined them. Willie directed the other team member to try and hold back the zombie horde. However, it was tough going.
“Boss lady! What do we do?” asked Willie.
A series of conflicting emotions seemed to cross her face all in the space of a few seconds. “All team members! Locate all guests and direct them to the employee break room. It is too dangerous to leave the building.”
She called out, “Anyone not leading people to safety find a weapon and head to the break room! Sporting goods has campfire axes, and there are hammers in home improvement.”
“They need to come up here and help with this, or no one will be left alive by the time the cops get here!” exclaimed Willie.
“No. They would just get in the way,” said Ashton.
“What?” asked Willie, confused.
Ashton took off her glasses and set them aside atop her clipboard. She took on an authoritative tone, “If you’ve got a shopping cart, head to the exit door and hold them there!”
Erin rammed a zombie. “What about the entrance?”
Ashton stepped forward and the light around her seemed to waver strangely. Her body shimmered slightly and then changed. Triangular ears rose from atop her head, and a fluffy tail flowed outward from just above her posterior. “I’ll handle it.”
She rushed forward at inhuman speed and leapt into the air. She kicked one of the zombies in the head with enough force to snap its neck and send it flying back.
The business fox struck a pose and prepared herself to fight her way through to the doors. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the store!”
“Boss lady?” asked Willie, his mouth agape.
She dodged a slowly lumbering zombie that reached for her, then spun in place and elbowed the back of its head. A blast of freezing cold air rushed outward as the tiniest hint of frost appeared to coat its hair.
“That…!” exclaimed Erin in surprise.
“Exit door!” exclaimed Ashton. She disappeared briefly only to appear in mid-air the moment that her foot impacted the skull of another zombie.
“I can’t believe she can use magic!” exclaimed Erin, as she joined up with Willie and the cashier.
“I don’t care what she uses if she can hold those things back,” said Willie.
Ashton, despite her bravado, found that she had her work cut out for her. The zombies were not fooled by her illusions. The dead did not fall for such things easily, after all.
Her magical attacks were greatly weakened due to that fact. Most of her talent was to be found in illusion, a small bit of cold air could be made to seem like an arctic blast of intensely freezing wind. Without her illusion power to back her up, however, her spells were barely any stronger than the simplest fire and frost spells.
She danced around the zombies, tripped them up as she went. Her grace and agility were well beyond theirs, and they could not even touch her.
They had her beat when it came to endurance. It would take two or three elemental strikes for her to bring down a single zombie. She did not have an endless supply of life force to maintain the effect, so she had to rely mostly on physical attacks. Even so, she held the front entrance on her own for a time.
Eventually, a sound caught her attention. It was the roar of motorcycle engines. Several motorcycles appeared as though out of nowhere. Each of the dirt-encrusted black and chrome cruiser bikes was ridden by what could only be considered a stereotype of the 1980s punk scene. Sporting massive spiked mohawks of green, blue, and red, rejects from an unknown Mad Max sequel rode down the center lane outside the store. They laughed. They whooped. They threw Molotov cocktails at the zombies.
“The hell is that?” asked Wille, sweat pouring down his face.
“Burn ‘em down! Burn ‘em down! Whoooo!” cried the largest man. As it so happened, he also had the tallest and spikiest mohawk. Like the others he wore a spiked leather vest. Unlike the others, he also had a fur collar and grinning skull shaped earrings that dangled from his ears.
Over two dozen more of the strangely dressed bikers appeared. The zombies suddenly turned their attention from the store and then moved toward the bikers, as though they were of one mind to do so.
Ashton followed them out of the store to try to help their oddly dressed rescuers only to realize something. She immediately rushed back in and pulled a corpse clear of the entrance door.
A heavily tattooed woman who rode on the back of the leader’s bike leaned forward and whispered something to him from her grinning skull bandana mask. The big man snapped his head toward the entrance then laughed.
“Oh no you don’t blondie!” shouted the leader of the group. He chucked a Molotov toward her. Forced to fall back or be doused with flames, she was unable to finish locking the door.
“Shit! Who are these assholes?” asked Willie.
“Hooligans!” shouted Ashton. She called over the walkie-talkie. “Everyone! Head to the break room! Now!”
While the so-called hooligans mopped up the zombies, Ashton ran with the others toward the break room. It was behind a steel security door and would be one of the safest places in the store for now. Along the way, she pulled out her phone and frantically dialed a number.
“The police should be here soon, Boss Lady,” said Willie.
“I’m not sure if they’ll be enough, even with my help,” she said absent-mindedly. “That’s why we need him.”
“Come on. Pick up!” she called excitedly. “We need you here!”
“Who you calling?” asked Erin.
“Scott,” replied Ashton.
“Uh,” said Erin in an intellectual manner. She could not fathom exactly what Scott could do for them that the cops could not.
They had almost made it to the breakroom before the screech of tires and the shouts of hooligans filled the store. It was party time, eighties style.