Cherry Vanilla, Part 3

“So what the hell happened?” Solo asked quietly as he and Travis wandered the North Dodge neighbourhood. They kept an active eye on their surroundings. There were a couple of zombies roaming the street to the south of them, but they weren’t close enough to engage them.

“I don’t really know,” Travis replied, clutching his shotgun. “I heard that the Colombia Militia released the zombies somewhere near the Tucson Mall early this afternoon and then the shit hit the fan as they say.”

“What the hell are Colombians doing here?” It just didn’t make sense. How did they manage to create zombies? Was the T-Virus real? Were they experimenting with the dead and engineering dead soldiers to rise up overthrow the government? Or were people given bath salts and things got out of hand? He supposed that he would never know. The most important thing was that he got to the grocery store and quick.

“Zombies at 12:00.” Travis readied his shotgun as a group of seven zombies wandered out into the street. Their clothes were bloody and ready to fall off their dilapidated bodies. They all turned and looked at them, studied them. They grunted amongst themselves as if they were weighing the pros and cons of attacking them. On one hand, they could get some more brains, even though they just had some. On the other hand, most of them didn’t have stomaches anymore and therefore, weren’t really full. All in favour of attacking? No one grunted. It was a unanimous decision to leave the two kids alone and go about their way.

“What the hell just happened?” Solo asked.

“Let’s just get to the grocery store,” Travis said, a little disappointed that he didn’t have a chance to use his shotgun.

They contined to Alvernon Way and met no resistance. The nearest grocery store was two blocks away from their current location. They would make it there in about five minutes tops. Solo was excited by this. His pace quickened the closer they got. His vision was tunnel. He wasn’t paying attention to anything that was around him. The streets were empty and any people still around had barricaded themselves inside as if a hurricane was coming.

Solo and Travis crossed the street when they reached the back of the grocery store. It was in that back alley where the loading trucks usually come and deliver goods that Travis spotted some movement. There were three zombies ambling about amongst the shipping boxes. They stopped what they were doing and turned to look at them. Travis could see the bloody drool leaking from their lips, if they had them. They started sprinting to reach them.

“Zombies at 11:45!” Travis shouted. He readied his shotgun, but the zombies were quickly approaching. He and Solo decided that running was a much better option. They ran to the front of the store. The sliding double doors were closed and didn’t open when Solo ran to them.

“Come on! Open!” Solo shouted. He peered in through the glass to see if there was anyone else inside the store. He swore he saw someone by one of the cash registers. “Hey! Let me in!” The person shook his head and then slinked out of view. “No, wait! Come back!”

Travis came running around the corner and joined Solo. “They’re right behind us! Let’s go!”

“But… we’re right here!” Solo said. “Shoot the door open!”

“I am not wasting bullets on a door!” Travis grabbed Solo by the arm and pulled him away from the door. “Let’s go!”

“Over here!” shouted a faint female voice.

Solo located the voice coming from the laundromat in the plaza. He and Travis immediately started running in that direction. The zombies turned the corner and were right on their tail. Solo ventured to look back and saw that they were about two arm’s length away. He turned around and hoped that he wouldn’t do the stupid thing and trip. He pushed himself forward and beat Travis to the laundromat. The short, plump woman held the door open for him.

“Come on in, boys!” she said as Travis caught up with them. Once they were both inside safely, the woman closed the door and locked it. The zombies hit the door and smeared their bloody mess on the glass. They right away started pounding on the door. “I’d like to see them get through that.”

“I wouldn’t,” Solo said, setting his shovel down on a couple of washing machines. He looked around and saw that there were several people holed up in the laundromat. One woman was actively folding her clothes as she pulled them from the dryer. A man was pouring detergent into a washer and closed the lid. They were completely ignoring what was happening on the outside.

“Thanks for having us,” Travis said, remembering his manners. “We were just about done for.”

The woman smiled at him and shook his hand. “You’re very welcome. I didn’t want to see you die needlessly. The name’s Margaret.”

“I’m Travis and this is Solo.” Solo waved his hand at her. “We’re trying to make it to the Shelter, but this one needs to get to the store.”

Solo stared at the zombies standing at the front door and wished that they would go the hell away. They were literally standing between him and his creamy goal. “We were so close. We have to find a way to get in.”

“Whatever is in that store isn’t worth getting your throat ripped out,” Margaret said.

“But I need it!” Solo said. “And I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get in there!”

“You’ll have to get past them.” Margaret pointed to the three zombies salivating outside.

Travis turned to Solo and his eyes pleaded for him to give up the quest. “We’re so close to the Shelter. Let’s just go there. Gwen is waiting for us. If we don’t return soon, she’ll worry about us.”

“That won’t be a problem,” Solo said. He pulled out his cell phone and proceeded to find her number on speed dial. “I’ll just give her a call.”

“Solo, no!” Travis called out, but it was too late.

Solo placed the phone to his ear as it tried to dial Gwen’s number. Then the zombies outside suddenly grew more agitated. While they hadn’t wholeheartedly tried to enter the laundromat in the past two minutes, they were slamming themselves against the glass.

“Hello. You’ve reached the phone of Gwen Harper…”

“Again with the voice mail,” Solo said, irritated. “Why won’t she answer her phone?”

“The zombies can detect the cell phones when they are being used,” Travis informed. “Now they won’t stop until they get all of us.”

Solo saw that everyone in the laundromat was glaring at him. He placed his cell phone back into his pocket and sheepishly raised his hands. “Oops? My bad.”

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