We give thanks today
Eat lots and lots of turkey
Pass out soon after
. . . Dawn stood there a moment, surveyed with her ears, listening for shuffling, listening for anything that disturbed the peace and quiet. She heard something. It was faint, coming from the rear of the store. She would have to keep her wits about her, as she tried to find food that was still edible for a Thanksgiving feast.
She stepped past the dead man lying over the conveyor belt, and paused in front of the candy section, which hadn’t been looted. Dawn grabbed a bag of hard candies and ripped it open. She started to munch on the rainbow of flavor, as she slung her backpack off her back and dropped it onto the conveyor belt. She unzipped the big front pocket, opened it wide, and emptied the candy shelf into it–making sure to get only candy that wouldn’t melt.
Dawn finished up her candy treat, took a pause, reloaded her gun, and gulped down a bottle of water. When she felt rested, she zipped up the big front pocket on her backpack and slung the bag onto her back.
“Well, let’s hope this store has what I’m looking for,” she replied to herself, as she started walking, gun forward, light splashing across the dark store, eyes darting down each aisle, looking for food, looking for zombies in the dark; and it was dark. The spotlight in front of her and the late afternoon light coming in from the front of the store barely pierced the blackness.
The inside of the store, she noticed, had the same result as the parking lot. It looked like a mob of animals had just bulldozed its way through, knocking over shelves, people, carts, busting out the glass in the frozen food sections. Dead bodies were scattered everywhere. Most of them looked like they had died fighting for supplies or fending off zombies. She gave each dead body she found a good ole knife to the brain just to make sure that dead body wouldn’t get up and come after her.
After exploring for a few minutes, Dawn stopped to take a sip of water when she found a shelf with a couple of cans of cranberries on it. She took off her back pack and dropped it onto the floor. She kneeled down, opened it up, and put a can of cranberries into it beside the sweet potatoes, the box of stuffing, the oyster crackers and canned yams she had found earlier that day.
She paused when she heard the shuffling again. Too close for comfort. However many zombies that were still left in the store were definitely on to her. They could sense her warm presence, and they were hungry for it.
Dawn scanned the area she was now in, back of the store, near the once bustling fresh meat section, meat that was now rancid and rotten. She noticed something, as she squatted there, the smell of rancid meat seemed to be moving closer to her somehow. How a smell could move in her direction she wasn’t sure. There was no breeze in the store to push it. The air was dead and calm.
She zipped up her bag, stood up, and hoisted the bag onto her back. She grunted a bit from the weight when it landed on her shoulders. It wasn’t so heavy that she couldn’t run or walk with it on, but she was approaching her weight limit.
Dawn looked up the aisle, light splashing on empty shelves, and an empty store. Seeing nothing moving, she turned around, and the smell of rancid meat engulfed her, wrapped her in its vomit-inducing embrace. The thing causing the smell was a zombie, and he was wearing a butcher’s outfit with all kinds of rotten body parts stuffed into the pockets of his butcher’s coat. He had wrapped intestines around his neck like a chain, and his meat cleaver was held high, ready to chop, chop, chop.
The meat cleaver swung downward causing Dawn to drop her gun, as she moved out of its way. The cleaver clanged down into a nearby shelf with a loud bang, as the gun bounced on the floor and rattled off into the darkness. She retrieved her knife as the zombie grabbed her with his free hand. He decided not to chop anymore as he lunged towards her. He was ready to get some flesh between his teeth, and the meat cleaver wouldn’t help him with that. Dawn could smell the rotten odor on his breath, which smelled like week old dead flesh, as he went in for the fatal bite. Somehow, heavy as he was, she managed to push him back; and then with all her eighteen-year-old might, managed to jam the sharp blade into its head. The zombie quickly fell to the floor.
She was about to reach down for her blade when she heard shuffling behind her. She turned around and two more zombies were coming towards her, spotlighted by the light on her head. One was in a shirt and a tie, probably the former manager, BOB was the name on his name tag; and he looked like a Bob. The other was dressed like a store employee somewhere in the late teenage years. Dawn looked down at the floor, searching frantically for her gun, and found it. She leaned over, heavy bag on her back nearly tipping her forward, and grabbed it. She yanked the gun up with her right hand, and steadied it with her left. Two silent shots, two flashes of red fire, and two heads exploded when the bullet met their brains. Their roaming time was done.
Dawn stood there, and tried not to give in to the part of her that screamed “I’m a frustrated and scared little girl that only wants her mommy;” but she couldn’t help it. She gave in to it; and she cried, cried until she had no more tears to give, till she was rung out like an empty sponge. When she was finished, she felt better, and decided to focus, to turn her zombie instincts on. There were no sounds of shuffling or any sounds for that matter. The store and the world outside were as silent and dead as the bodies that lay all around her.
She wiped away the tears on her cheeks, retrieved her blade, cleaned it, and stored it away. She then decided to see if there was a place in the back to sleep off the night. The shadows were growing thick; and it was almost too late to be outside, better to stay inside until the morning.
She walked over to the double doors that led into the back of the store. She stood there a moment and made sure her gun was in a “ready to shoot on a moment’s notice” position. It was, so she proceeded forward.
Dawn stopped on the other side, and shined her light across the back of the store, eyes looking the place over. All around her was destruction. The horde that had descended on this place hadn’t stopped at the parking lot or the front of the store. They had proceeded to this area as well, ransacking the place like a pack of wild animals.
As she stood there, Dawn could see that day in her head, the first day of the invasion, the day the world knew a Zombie Apocalypse wasn’t just a horror genre or a joke or something you watched weekly on AMC. This was the real deal, and it was happening now. She could see the trucks and cars backed up to the loading bay doors, people hauling out supplies, pushing, shoving, screaming, fighting to maintain that last little bit of life still left in the world. Most of them wouldn’t survive that day or that week or maybe that month, but as they scrambled for supplies they still had hope, hope that maybe they would be okay. That was enough to keep them going even as the world they knew fell apart around them . . .
A short story about a woman who risks life and limb in a Zombie Apocalypse in order to keep the Thanksgiving tradition alive.
5 out of 5 stars: Keeping hope alive.
4 out of 5 stars: Wonderful story of giving and hope.