No Zombie for a Neighbor
Part Three: Meeting Fellow Employees
Once I regained my composure, I met the others in the store. The lady was Edna Brichton, the manager of the ‘Cloth & More.’ It was basically a fabric store, but they were setting themselves up to be more of a specialized fitness and activity business. They had equipment that would allow people to make their own scuba suits, plastic shoes, and other such expensive and specialized machines. I could not believe that there was such a market, and Edna admitted that they had budgeted for plenty of advertising to contact those that might have an interest in what the store could offer.
The elderly man was David Clements. He was the person who actually knew how to run most of the special machines, so had an important title. Hillary and Darlene were white ladies who were hired as cashiers. Hillary was young enough for Al, although had dark hair with dark makeup and body piercing. Truthfully I did not believe he would have found her attractive. Clementine was a black lady slightly older and much larger than I. The black man stood back, and was the one I had to confront to learn his name.
I let him know that I was not afraid of him as I asked, “Thorn?”
“Thomas Horne. T. Horne. When you spell my name, add an ‘e.’”
He was in good shape, but something about him caused me to ask, “You’ve been in jail?”
“Yeah. Just marijuana though. I was not in for long.”
I could not fault the man for that, so said, “You are in good shape.”
“Thanks. My older brother is a gay dude, and bought this weight set to work on his body. He did it to attract other men. I however did it to look good for the ladies.” He paused to look me over before saying, “Oh, I heard what you told that white dude. You have a thing for white guys?”
“No, but he is the one that I ended up with. He had a good head, and I did not want him to be concerned with anything but keeping me alive. I thus did what I could to have him appreciating my living body.”
“He did seem like a good guy.”
I felt a need to cry some more, but held in the tears as I replied, “Yeah. I don’t believe I would have survived that first day without him.”
“Well, you are good looking, so I am going to go ahead and apologize for hitting on you. I also like your plan of moving to the houses. Been trying to convince the others to leave this place.”
“They want to stay?”
“Well, not exactly, but they don’t believe the zombies will last. You will probably hear a number of lectures about biology from Edna and Dave.”
“Do the zombies listen to them?”
Thorne laughed, then said, “I like you, girl.”
“Yeah, Livonia. Glad to have you. Listen, there are hot dogs in the back. We have sodas, but we try to drink mostly water. We actually have showers.”
My eyes lit up on that piece of information. Thorne saw the expression, then offered to show me around. I accepted, and noticed that he did not move to hold me, but would often turn to look at me or my chest – about fifty-fifty – as he gave me the tour. He then left me after showing me the door to the ladies bathroom and telling me that the shower was through a door in the back.
After a couple of days of only bathing in sinks, the feel of hot water around me was most refreshing. I did have another change of clothing, as I found some clothes that I liked in the last store. They also had panties, and being so small and light I took a few in my size. I thus only had to put back on my bra, so I just applied an extra dose of perfume to my chest. Feeling good and definitely not looking like a zombie, I returned to my new set of companions.
Edna was doing some general cleaning in the back, although probably waiting for me as she turned to me when I came from the bathroom. “We can wash your clothes.”
“Good. Let me go back in and remove my bra. It needs washing.”
“Tell you what, I will make you a new one. What color would you like? Underwire? Lots of lace?”
I really had developed a personality of not caring where my clothes came from. It just made me uncomfortable thinking of someone making my clothes. I was particular about who touched my body, so thinking of some stranger having their hands on my clothes was just something I felt better not considering. When others brought up the topics of sweat shops of poorly paid overworked people churning out clothes, I just decided to avoid the whole idea. I tended to wash all of my clothes before I wore them the first time.
Edna and I got to know each other pretty well as we made a few bras. She knew about material and the machines. She did not know much about the world outside, as she had been holed up in her store since the zombies made their appearance. They had seen a lot of crazy activity out on the road and on the television. Al and I fighting in their parking lot was however the first time they actually saw any real people dealing with the zombies. It thus really hurt her to have me kill Al. I could not help but cry with that memory. It helped me to release the emotion, but also helped Edna to understand just how serious the zombie problem really was. By the time that I was trying on my new bras, I actually felt that I approved of the one who had touched the cloth besides me.
After we all gathered for a hotdog banquet, the men got to know me by having me retrace my travels over the last couple of days. They had a city map. Not only did they mark the places where I had been, but also the places that I spoke about. Finally, Thorne circled the area around the address of my home.
“I like your idea, Livonia. We need to take back our lives. The store has been good to us, but the power and the hotdogs will not last forever.”
David then said, “We just don’t have any way of checking our route.”
I replied, “Al would get up on the roof.”
Both men looked at each other, then they took off. Just because I was interested, I followed. Edna followed long enough to assure herself of where the men were going, then mentioned looking for some binoculars. I noticed that neither of the cashiers left the kitchen.
There was a roof access. As in the toy store, the ladder used to change the lights was tall enough to allow one to get to the roof. Dave spoke of the problems with the ducts that had people climbing up there just the week before. We gained the roof and I listened as the men pointed out the places that they had just gotten through marking on a map.
A number of zombies had gathered at the front of the store. I spoke about how they moved toward any activity, and how it was never one. I laughed in speaking of the one zombie that we had encountered, which had been as if resting by a car. Neither Thorne nor Dave laughed however, but kept a serious expression as I spoke. Just as Edna had done, they spoke of only knowing the zombie situation from news reports. They looked to the zombies beneath them with expressions of only now actually having to face the reality of the crisis.
The men moved to not simply point toward the housing development, but actually study the roads leading in that direction. They noted the lack of traffic even as they spoke about the lack of destruction. I told how Al spoke of the interstate being a mass of vehicles. The local roads were however clear, as it seemed that the people holed up instead of attempting to drive everywhere.
The men did not make any decisions. They simply collected facts. When they mentioned going back down into the store, I received the definite impression that they would make a few more trips to the roof before coming to any conclusions.
As we descended, Edna was waiting with the two cashiers. They all seemed rather impatient, but they stood quietly while we came down. Once we reached the floor, Edna blurted the question that she had been saving.
“What did you see?”
Dave replied, “You’re the manager. You are thus in charge.”
“I have not locked any of you in here. I let Livonia and Al in, even though we had seen him get bitten. I thus won’t stop any of you from leaving.”
He patted his belly as he said, “I might need to get into some shape. I don’t believe that I can run the way that Livonia can. I am however getting as tired of hot dogs as the rest of you.” Dave looked to me as he said, “Those jars of baby food actually look good.”
Thorne said, “I am thinking about going. I believe that the cell phone store should be one safe haven. I can then move to the plumbing store.”
Clementine stated a fact, “There won’t be food in no cell phone store or plumbing store.”
“If there is no food, there is no people, which means no zombies. I will take hot dogs with me. Livonia mentions robbing vending machines. It will be a change of diet, and should be enough to keep me alive until I can get into a house.” He then looked to me to ask, “You want to go with me?”
“Not right now, but I would rather stay in a house than in a store.”
Everyone seemed to agree, although Hillary did speak a fact she considered important. “It just is not safe with the zombies out there. If we can get into position on the roof, why can’t we safely kill them?”
David answered, “Because our actions will attract more. Think of this way. This is Shreveport. There are about a million people in this town. Let us say that we could kill a thousand zombies a day. It would then take a thousand days, almost three years, to kill a million zombies. I know not everyone is a zombie, but you are still talking over a year of killing a thousand zombies a day. We cannot kill a thousand zombies a day, not even a hundred, so thinking of killing all of them before we run out of hot dogs is not a reasonable idea.”
Edna added, “But if any of you want to try making a weapon, be my guest.”
I said, “Al used the word ‘attrition.’ It means that you manage to kill more than they make new ones.”
David supported my words, even as he tried to keep things rational. “Yes, which is a good plan for the long run. One year, three years, that all seems like a long time, but eventually we should gain the upper hand on the zombies. Our problem is however next week, next month – whenever our supply of hot dogs runs out.”
Edna spoke to end the discussion. “We still have hot dogs. The electricity is also still running. We are thus safe for the moment. Whenever you feel ready to move on however, I will open the door.”
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
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