I made my way through the convenience store. My footsteps echoed and splashed as I occasionally hit a puddle of water.
It was much like the other ones. Mostly cleaned out, broken furniture, and various pieces of litter. At least this one didn’t have blood everywhere. Though the recent rain would have helped rinse out the building.
The damaged roof let the afternoon sun bleed through, and while it wasn’t daylight bright, I wasn’t squinting at everything either.
I adjusted the strap to my SMG. It was my prized possession. I was lucky to find it in a crashed mini cooper. The driver certainly didn't need it anymore.
The Kriss Vector. It used standard ammo and had wonderful recoil control. Easy to hold and use for long periods of time. Which was important as you panicked often, and could waste a full clip in seconds.
My footsteps echoed, but nothing came out. No zombies, no thieves.
I had circled the store, and now I found myself before the last section. the backroom.
I tested the doorknob and I was lucky that it was unlocked. My luck held as I pulled open the door while taking steps back. My gun at the ready.
There was nobody inside. I sighed as I checked the room. Good habits kept you alive.
There were holes revealing the outside world as well. It was great for me since I could now look around.
The interior was raided. I found nothing but old equipment. Pop machine backend. Old clunky PC. Chairs and a desk. Along with a lot of empty boxes. Candy boxes, and chip bags. There was even a set of pop bottles and I nearly shat a brick in envy.
I would kill for some cola right now.
I sighed as I sat down. A small puff of dust wafted upwards and I coughed as I waved it away. I spun around the chair in an attempt to find a better section of the cloud to inhale.
Three hours of searching and all I found so far was half a case of Tic Tacs and four cans of bullion cubes. At least the soup would taste better for the next little while.
I took a swing from my canteen. The heavy plastic gave me warm water as the summer was still going strong. I missed the days when ice cubes were a legit thing.
While the base had something like a hundred refrigerators, only five actually worked. Worse yet, we didn’t have enough electricity to keep even one on consistently. Not that there a huge deal since we rarely had that much perishables anyways.
I stood up, and I nearly tripped as I had somehow looped my foot through a fabric bag.
The clatter of cans immediately gave me a tingly feeling I felt all the way from my head to my toes.
I pulled the to the brightest spot and I looked in.
Canned meats, canned veggies. A pack of batteries and two cartons of cigs…
I just found gold!
I nearly threw up since I was so giddy.
I immediately took off my backpack and transferred the goods over. I made sure to place the cigs into the delicate pockets. These packs were worth more than their weight in meat.
I went back to the desk and found one last bag tucked in the corner. It sat inside on a milk crate. Black crate, black bags… no wonder no one found it. Ironically, the light would diffuse the ability to see shades of colors.
I giggled as I pulled it up with me. This one had a few bottles of water, a blanket, and a book on camping. There was even a hand axe.
I smiled as I also moved that bag over. I transferred the goods and then zipped up.
Today was a good day.
The walk back was dangerous. Not because of the infected, but because I was high on success and that meant I was not concentrating on my surroundings.
I stilled my thoughts as I also slowed my pace.
Which worked out as I spied a lone zombie around the corner. It stood there, locked in place as it stared at the skies. It was standing in ankle-deep water and was still enough that I hoped it was a mannequin made to look like a zombie.
I stopped and stared. This was new…
I didn't like new. I started to slowly walk around it, my gun centered on its head. The SMG I had made it easier for headshots. A couple round and boom, zombie down.
The missed shots would be acceptable. I could use twice the rounds on body shots, and it still might not be dead. Only heart and brain injuries seem to keep these things down.
It began to twitch by my sixth step. I stopped.
I began to twitch as this was indefinitely new.
My SMG barrel lined up with it as I approached. I chose a close-range weapon since I was not a great shot. But I was great at panicked pray and spray moments. The practice over the last two months had increased my skills to panicked, burst shots.
I turned off the safety and set the gun to a single fire mode. I didn’t need that many shots, and I wasn’t exactly carrying a surplus of ammo either. I steadied my aim and looked down the simple iron sights to line up my shot.
I… what? Was that left arm breaking off?
The zombie fell over and began to convulse and fall apart.
I watched as its skin began to split and chunks of it fell off to reveal white bones.
Those were too big to be skeletal bones. It ballooned out into a imperfect exoskeleton. It was like several groups of kids designed the pieces seperately, and then had to connect them together. This was technically a human body as the pieces were all in the right places.
I would know. I had seen a lot of skeletons since three months ago. Though this one had random parts bigger or smaller. one of its ribs was huge, while the rest had shrivled. Wierd.
The infected zombie began to rise. Its eyeballs were still there, but it definitely saw me. Okay.
Less thinking, more shooting. I pulled the trigger.
The bullet didn’t bounce off… It had cracked its skull skull, but the zombie was still rising.
[Crack! Crack! Crack!]
I began to panic. I thumbed the gun to full auto and steadied myself. Time to go all out.
Plan B! I turned and ran. Months of running around while getting chased teaches you things. Like how to multi-task while moving.
I took a quick jog as I released my magazine, and pulled out a nice gold painted one. I used nail polish and it denoted my golden ammo. My final fail safe.
Hi-Power rounds. Bullets that packed a little more oomph. Too bad I only had a single half-full mag left.
I popped it in and double checked my fire settings. Confident, turned around to eye my target. This was not simple spray and pray rounds.
Which saved my life as I slipped and fell, allowing the thumping menace to sail over me and skid across the road. The panic had me focus too much on my gun and staying on two feet.
The thing’s new skin made it thinner, but it looked like it was somehow denser as it didn’t skid far.
I swallowed as I didn’t even hear it. It was probably because I was panicking. I was still panicking. I took a breath to calm down. Calm minds worked better, my old motivation poster said in my cubicle. God I missed those days.
I raised my gun, aimed for its head, and immediately let loose.
I fired and the thing staggered. My ammo was working! I could see chunks of its outer shell break and open, but the damn thing just wouldn't go down! Why wasn't it dying!?
Did it just weave!? Did it just tilt its head to the side as it took a fucking step towards me!? My hands were shaking and my gun wobbles something fierce.
Luck finally smiled on me as I got two shots into its chest. The thing collapsed face first, and I could see the various exit wounds. Seems the shrivled ribs were a poor choice on its part.
Much like a zombie I was familar with via movies, the two body shots I had hit with shaky hands were clean. It went through but it still was able to move. Its arms were twitching, but it made no effort to rise.
The headshots were not effective… did that mean its skull was extra thick as it bloated? Where would the extra material even come from?
Yet the chest shots worked, and I watched as the thick blood seeped out. It was like black syrup and nothing like human blood. Nor was it congealed like some of the others i had hit. Chunky, modly blood bits.
What was going on? What was with this thing?
I quickly changed magazines. My Hi-Power ammo was down to just 1 bullet.
It took eight of my best rounds to take down.
I swore under my breath as I pulled out a fresh magazine. It was full, but with only regular parabellum rounds.
I looked at the street sign, and I knew I was close to the cars.
I stared at the twitching body. I held my SMG close as I picked up a rock and tossed it. It bounced off the body but it didn’t react. Wait... it began to huddle into a fetal position. To protect itself.
I thanked the spirits and hustled out of the random intersection. Where was I? Screw it, I would just keep going. Away from that thing.
I was in luck. Center Street and 4th Ave. I knew where I was!
I corrected my course and jogged away. All thoughts of potential home visits were gone as I could only think of my friends.
Within ten minutes I saw the alert forms of my friends. There were eight of us across two cars. This would get us enough manpower to do a good sweep. I had spare ammo in the trunk, and we could simply tear apart bone with Frank's heavier cailbur weapons. The man liked his boom booms, and I will never insult his collection again.
“Tom!” I yelled as I jogged over. It looked like I was the last one to arrive.
The man looked me over. His usually smiling face was grim. Everyone looked grim.
“You’re the last one. Get in. We are leaving. Now,” he said as he slapped my shoulder and turned me around. I packed my bag into the trunk and then we all left.
The chatter was tense, and we all had variations of the same story. Zombie. Mutations. Fucking harder to kill then anything in the past. Though their stories were all about fatties. Bloated things that was were slow and didn't go down with head shots.
I guess I wasn’t the only one to encounter the new skinny, bone species. Our chatter tapered and they all became quiet as I told my story.
I then found out I was the only one to encounter the white boned thing. Everyone else encountered a bloated heavy zombie. Very killable if you aimed for the heart? They were not sure but it was nothing like what I fought.
I leaned back in the seat stared at the silent city. We were driving back to the safe zone in the small town above the northern city limits.
It looked like scavenging just got a hell of a lot harder.