Second Dead

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Chapter 12: Late morning adventure

We moved fast when we left the house. Thirty-four degrees, Chris noted when we passed the thermometer. Dad thought we had two hours before things got dicey. I doubted that. Moaners already stirred in the sunlight.

Dad’s instructions were simple, if reckless. Dad and I were to run straight for the drug store. Chris and Theo would flank us, poking every moaner in sight. Dad was being incautious. He knew it, I knew it, I also knew why.

If Klara were to die, Susan would be devastated. It’s one thing to blame yourself for someone’s death sight unseen. It’s quite another to watch them die because of a mistake made in a moment of panic. Of course, these days people died twice, the second death at your own hands. Nice.

Susan closed the gate and bolted for her tree. Chris went to our left while Theo flanked us on our right. Dad and I dashed toward the drug store.

I knew Theo would take the right side. To our left stood a church. He insisted the building to be haunted. Brave wasn’t a word I used to describe Theo. Having said that, he was no coward. He did what he had to do. He was reliable like that. It’s just, the church, well, it proved to be beyond his endurance. Who was I to pass judgment: me, Annabel of the nightmares.

We reached the top of the hill and ran to the back wall of the drugstore. We pressed our backs to the brick wall.

“So far, so good,” I said while Dad caught his breath.

“Yeah, so far,” he wheezed.

We crept our way toward the front. Dad peered into the parking lot.

“Have a look, Anna,” he said after he scanned for signs of trouble.

I looked out into our downtown, the place where I had grown up. Fishers Creek had seen better days. Wrecked or stranded vehicles, blowing debris, half-eaten corpses, and the odd moaner marred the otherwise idyllic view.

We dashed toward the main entrance. The doors stood ajar and glass lay scattered on the ground. I slung my bow across my back and pulled my birthday present from my boot. Before I made it through the opening, Chris and Theo rounded the corner and headed toward me.

I plunged into the darkened store. Dad stood by the checkout counter and searched for moaners. When I entered, he headed for the pharmacist’s counter. I shined my light in directions opposite of Dad’s. We made our way down the center aisle. When we passed a struggling moaner, Dad, without a break in his stride, thrust his spear into its eye.

We came to the druggist counter. Dad held me back and shined his light into the pharmacist’s lab. At last, he gave me the all clear. I hopped onto the counter and jammed my knee. Muttering choice words Dad chose to ignore, I jumped onto the floor.

Instinct in play, I pointed my flashlight under the counter. Satisfied I was alone I opened the lab door. Chris stood guard just inside the main entrance. Theo crept down an aisle, exacting vengeance on any moaner he came across. I walked back into the lab and found Dad crouched by the checkout counter.

“What do you think?” His light pointed toward a row of shelves.

“Wow.” On the shelves were bins, and each bin had a letter from A to Z. Not unusual in itself, the stacked bags of folded and stapled prescriptions amazed me.

“What are we looking for?”

“No time for that. We’ll take everything and sort through it later.”

Dad pulled out two pillowcases and dumped prescriptions into one of them. I took the other one and did the same.

“Dad, how did you know?”

“I didn’t. Not really.” He threw a bag into a corner.

“I saw it on a documentary. Riots in L.A. or something. I remember them talking about looters, how drug addicts would break in and steal narcotics. The narrator commented on the fact nobody ever thought of the filled prescriptions. At the time, it struck me as rather strange. Not a single soul thought of these bins.” He grinned at me.

Theo came up to the counter. “Store’s clear.”

“Go into the lab and check the shelves. Search for anything that says antibiotic or has cillin in the name.”

“Got it,” Theo replied.

“What else, Dad?”

“While we’re up here let’s look for anything we can use.” He picked up two baskets from the counter and handed one to me.

“Oh yeah. Armageddon shopping with Daddy. Every girl’s dream.”

Theo caught up to us in aisle seven. He beamed with excitement. “Got something.”

“What?” Dad asked, a trace of misgiving in his voice.

“This.” Theo pulled a walkie-talkie from the bag. “Got four of ’em. Rechargeable batteries, got the chargers and car adaptors, too.”

“Nice,” Dad said. “Let’s get out of here.”

Ten minutes later, we were home. As raids went, this had gone perfect, thanks to the cold weather. Dad had been right about the cold immobilizing the moaners. He had also been right about the drug store. Two for two, not bad these days. Still, it had been reckless.

Mom did what she could for Klara while we were away. She bandaged Klara’s fingers. Klara even drank most of the medicine.

After lunch, Dad went through the medicine. Most, he threw onto a pile in a corner of the kitchen, but a few he recognized were set off to the side to keep.

With Susan’s help, I sorted through the weapons and ammunition. Unlike the older boys, Susan and I had been required to attend summer camp every year. I hated the time spent there; it had seemed so pointless. The crafts were the worst: basket weaving, leather working, cooking, painting, and sewing. You know, all the usual skills required of an early Nineteenth-century frontierswoman.

We also trained in archery and gunnery. I did okay at both. Susan was great though, especially archery. Each year she took first place in archery, and she always scored within the top three in marksmanship. We acquired enough of the basics to work our way through the various weapons and ammunition arranged before us. Mom, Dad, and the boys knew next to nothing about firearms, so that made us the experts.

Klara suffered a high fever. Susan appointed herself Klara’s nursemaid, which suited the rest of us fine. A death vigil was not high up on anyone’s want to do list.

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