by Jason Alan
Day 17. Edgewood, Kentucky.
The shotgun cocked with that familiar chick-chack sound. Familiar to action movie fans, and somehow comforting. Even more familiar yet not so comforting to those who have been on the business end of one.
Bryan Moore had been working on holding the gun with one hand and jerking his arm down and then back up to cock it. Not as easy as they made it out to be in those movies. Finally, he did it. He had done it once before, but he pulled a muscle in his arm and had dropped the gun. But this time he had done it right.
He slapped the barrel into his left hand and BANG! There went Dora the Explorer. Candy and Dora bits exploded outward and clicked like hailstones on the tile floor. Ever since they put up that end cap display he had been wanting to put a bullet in that plastic girl.
“Evil little bitch,” he said, then laughed with his head reared back in an over the top, super villainy sort of way. “You see that shit!” he yelled, standing at the end of the candy aisle.
But nobody was there. Nobody that could hear him, that is. Aside from the occasional green splatter on the ground and the omnipresent odor of the four dead people scattered around the store, you wouldn’t be able to tell that anyone was ever here. It seemed as if the store had been filled with cheap Chinese imports and foods stuffed with preservatives and high fructose corn syrup and then everyone just left.
“God bless America,” he said, grabbing a Snickers bar, but the irony of the statement was lost on him.
He tore off the end of the wrapper with the few teeth that hadn’t rotted out of his head and slung the shotgun up to his shoulder. As he walked past the display he had just demolished, he took a bite and brandished the smile of a man who looked like he had recently made out with a wood chipper.
With his first order of business out of the way, he headed to the sporting goods section and got a camouflage backpack. It matched the pants and shirt he was already wearing. On his way to the electronics department, he passed the guns and said aloud to them that he would be back.
With the shotgun handle he broke the glass to the iPod case and took out two shuffles, four nanos, three classics and four touches. He figured that as long as the internet was still working, he might as well download some audio and video to keep himself occupied when he got bored. That wouldn’t happen often, he thought. There was so much cool stuff he could do now that everyone else was dead.
He walked over to the radios and turned one on, finding mostly static. The classic rock station was still going on autopilot, more than likely just hooked up to a playlist on a computer. It would probably run on shuffle until the power went out. Sweet Home Alabama was currently playing. He turned it up and went back to the case, sitting down where there was no glass. As he was removing the iPods from their boxes, he thought it funny that none of these would ever be updated. Technology had come to a screeching halt.
When all the iPods (he grabbed two iPads as well) were out of the boxes, he gathered them all up and went to the next aisle where the computers were. He plugged them all in and then walked around, looking for solar chargers. There wouldn’t be electricity for much longer. He found three small ones and put them in his bag. That would do for the time being.
He decided while his new electronics were being charged, he would go outside to smoke. Of course, he could smoke inside if he wanted. He could, in fact, do pretty much whatever he wanted, but he felt like going back outside to enjoy the peace and quiet. No airplanes buzzing through the sky. No bratty kids being dragged through the parking lot, screaming that they wanted that Transformers toy. No jerkoffs on ultraloud crotch rockets proclaiming their douchiness to the world in so many decibels. Just sweet, sweet tranquility, and lots of it.
On the way out he stopped by the cigarette case and noticed it was open, so he didn’t have to break it. He grabbed a single pack of Marlboro 100s, shoved two cartons in his pack and strolled outside.
It was a bright, beautiful day, and he sat smoking, enjoying every second of silence. Until it wasn’t silent anymore. He thought he could hear faint music, and after a moment he was sure of it. The sound was getting louder, and he could tell it was a truck of some kind getting closer. Then, from the far side of the building came a 4×4 truck with obscenely huge, knobby tires, blasting Pantera from the speakers at high volume.
“Goddamnit,” he sighed.
The music cut off as the big black Dodge pulled up and stopped about thirty feet from the front doors, almost directly in front of Bryan. He just sat there, one foot resting on a knee, casually smoking. His shotgun was leaning against the bench right next to him, clearly on display for all to see. He opted to play it cool.
The engine shut off and three young people hopped out, one female and two male. The guys looked to be in their early to mid twenties. One of them was holding an almost empty whiskey bottle by the neck. Bryan thought he looked as if he was a Twilight movie reject that had gained fifty pounds. The other guy, the driver, was covered in tattoos and had long, straight black hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in months.
“Woo-hoo!” the girl screamed. “I’m fucked up!”
They were all pale white, but the girl was practically a ghost. Bryan guessed her age was about fifteen. She was painfully thin, and wore a tiny black half shirt emblazoned with the word Slayer, and an even tinier cutoff denim skirt. No visible tattoos, but her face was a veritable carnival of odd piercings. She was smoking what looked like a cigar, but as they walked toward him he could smell that it was not tobacco.
“Hey guys, we got a live one,” the driver said. As the man walked closer, Bryan could see a fresh tattoo of a skull with a snake running through the eye sockets on the guy’s face. It’s a brave new world, he thought. Almost everyone was dead, but there were still idiots.
“What’s goin’ on?” Bryan asked nonchalantly.
The Twilight reject was at one of the doors already and it opened. “Al-muthafuckin-right! Power’s still on!” he proclaimed.
“Hey bro, I’m Craig,” the driver told Bryan, and pointed behind him with his thumb. “That’s Stacy.”
“Bryan. Good to meet you,” he said, still sitting.
“And numb nuts over there,” Craig said, pointing at the guy walking inside, “is Billy.”
Bryan stood up, grabbing his shotgun and slinging it over his shoulder. “I’ll go in with ya.”
“Cool, cool,” he replied casually. “You’re not gonna shoot us, are ya?”
Bryan laughed. “Nah, ‘course not. If you’re ok, I’m ok.”
Craig started toward the door and Stacy held what was rest of the blunt to Bryan. “You wanna hit this?”
He shook his head. “Nah, I’m good. Thanks.”
She hit it one more time, threw it on the ground and followed the other two. He walked behind her, watching her little ass move in that dirty little skirt. He licked his lips without realizing it, and went in with them.
“We’re gonna make some goddamn Mickey Dee’s fries, bitches!” Billy yelled, and took another pull off the whiskey bottle.
“Damn right,” Craig said. “Hey gimme that bottle and quit Bogartin’ that shit.”
Billy turned around and smirked at him. “You’re the driver.”
Craig held his hands out to his sides. “Who the fuck am I gonna hit?”
“Good point,” he replied, screwed the cap back on, tossed it to Craig and yelled “Mickey Deeeeee’s!”
The newcomers went into the McDonald’s located near the entrance. Billy headed straight to the back and the other two sat at a booth. Bryan stood at the door.
“I’m goin’ to the back to get some beer. I’ll grab a case.”
“Good idea,” Craig responded. “Budweiser?”
“Budweiser.” Bryan walked slowly toward the back, wondering if the modern day Monkees were armed.
“We got fries!” Billy yelled from the back.
“Sweet! Make a shit ton, I’m starving!”
“I’m gonna go piss,” Stacy said as she got up.
“Hey,” Craig said, and she looked back. “Be careful.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, mother.”
“Our mothers are dead, Stace.”
“Yeah. Ain’t it great?” she said with an evil grin, and walked to the bathroom.
Bryan opened the corner of one of the cases and pulled a cold beer out. Won’t be seeing these much longer, he thought, at least not unless it’s cold outside. He popped the top and took a big drink, wondering if one of the guys were Stacy’s boyfriend. Probably the skinny freak with all the tattoos.
He took another cigarette out of the pack and lit it, sat on a case and sipped his beer. It felt good. The cool air on his back, a cold beverage going down his throat and a fresh smoke. No worries. No worries at all.
He opened another beer and finished his cigarette, thinking he would take a case up front in a minute. That’s when Stacy walked around the corner.
“Get lost?” she asked.
He shot her half a smile with his mouth closed, not wanting to show his lack of dental work. “Nah, I was comin’. Where the guys at?”
“Up front, prolly about to stuff their faces with fries.”
“Sounds kinda good, actually,” he replied.
She walked right up to him and leaned down until they were face to face. “Ever fuck in a beer aisle?” she whispered.
He shook his head slowly, trying to hide his surprise, but his wide eyes gave him away. She put her arms on his shoulders and started to kiss him and he set his beer down, almost dropping it. He ran a hand up her back and behind her shirt, then down to her skirt and grabbed her ass. He noticed that she wasn’t wearing any panties, and he was fully erect.
But as he unzipped his pants, she quickly realized what she was doing. Acting out, attempting to deal with all the death she had recently witnessed. It was all wrong, and his breath was atrocious. She pulled away.
“I can’t do this,” she said, standing up and turning around. “I’m sorry.”
In an instant, he was behind her, pulling her toward him and covering her mouth with his hand. “Oh, we’re fucking doing this, whether you like it or not.”
She screamed but it wasn’t loud enough for anyone to hear with her mouth covered. He bent her over and entered her with violent force, breathing heavily, violating her, hurting her insides with his large, uncircumcised penis. She screamed again, and he responded by pressing his hand harder against her face. Her piercings mashed against her gums, but she didn’t feel it. She kept trying to scream so hard her face was red and she was on the verge of passing out.
That’s when a black Doc Marten boot hit the side of Bryan’s head. He fell over, stunned, and Stacy wasted no time. She grabbed his shotgun with both hands and slammed the stock into his face. It came in direct contact with his nose, breaking it. Blood flowed heavily, into his mouth and onto the floor.
“YOU FUCK!” she screamed. Her face was painted with dark red rage.
Bryan coughed, held out a weak hand in front of him and said “I’m sor-”
But it was too late. She had already flipped the gun around. Before he had a chance to finish his pathetic attempt at an apology, she pulled the trigger and blew off most of his head.