Wounded, nearly dead
The next few days were a write-off. Jasper was raving, incoherent. He insisted that they walk, that making it to Charlottetown was important, that they couldn’t stop, not even for a day. He could barely stand, and threw up often.
“You can’t walk, idiot.” Naomi said, “Lie down, let us take care of you.”
“Can’t. Gotta make it to Taylor, she needs me.”
“Yeah, we gonna get there. You keep trying to walk you ain’t going nowhere. You gonna fall down and die, then Mona and me gotta put a knife through your brain, how that help Taylor?”
There were a lot more zombies around, wandering the woods. Mostly solo. Naomi got fairly competent at wielding Jasper’s sword, and of course, Mona was able to pick up any weapon and wreak mayhem. She seemed to have a talent for killing, possibly one that she picked up well before the end of the world. They didn’t train with the guns because the noise might attract zombies, they did practice with the bows, however. Jasper’s old arrows were only useful for targets, as the bullet points were no good for killing, too blunt. They were glued to the shafts, so they couldn’t even swap those out. Instead, they fired them into trees, hills, whatever they could find. Jasper kept urging them to move on whenever he woke up, then he didn’t wake up for too long and they got scared. His head was burning up, a high fever. They had some meagre medical supplies, nothing for this though. Mona got cold water from a stream, as much as she could carry, and started trying to cool him down. Finally, Naomi had enough and decided to try and find some antibiotics. There was a grocery store near the highway, far from the populated areas of town, or at least as far as one could get in a town this size. The moon was nearly full, the night was bright, cloudless and hot, one of those summer nights full of humidity. She grabbed a bow, Jasper’s sword, and the pry bar.
Mona handed her a handgun “Gun. Take it.”
“Makes too much noise, I don’t want all the zombies chasing me.”
“So don’t shoot. Better have it, not need it.”
“Alright, thanks.” Naomi was touched, She would have said until that moment that Mona would be glad if she was eaten. The small woman was hard to read.
She left Mona with Jasper, keeping his temperature down as much as she could. Sick people made her uncomfortable, always had. Snow was lying next to Jasper, whimpering from time to time and licking his master’s hand.
Naomi kept low to the ground and moved quietly. Not all of the zombies had made it back to town, but a lot had, the streets were crawling with the undead. Naomi slipped between a pair of houses and into the grocery store parking lot. The doors on the store were closed and the lot only had three cars in it. This chain always had pharmacies in store. Naomi made it right to the door without attracting any attention, then she pried the doors open. It took all her strength, pushing her body against the bar again and again, and the bar made a horrible screeching sound as she leaned her full weight into it one final time. Shuffling steps echoed from the parking lot, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up in fear. She slipped in between the doors and pulled them shut behind her. The lock was broken, but the door shut flush, no handles. She didn’t think the zombies would be able to figure out how to pull the doors apart, so she turned her focus to the next set. They were sensor doors, and she managed to pull them open easily.
The pharmacy was in the middle of the store. It had a gate down over the counter and a locked door. She pushed the bar in under the gate and jammed it up as hard as she could, then slammed it down with all of her weight. Nothing. Again. Again. Finally, it broke and the gate popped open. Naomi hopped the counter and moved into the pharmacy area.
There were rows and rows of bottles. Some had pills, others had powders, liquids, etc. Some had labels, others just had bar codes. Many of the drugs were stored in drawers, again labelled with bar codes. There was a scanner gun, no use without power, but hidden half under the register was a lookup book, giving the codes and the related drug and dose.
There was also a book of drug interactions, which seemed like it might be useful. They were going to have to figure this out from scratch, Naomi knew next to nothing about prescription pharmaceuticals. She had a sneaking suspicion that Mona might know more about a few of them, mostly the pain killers. She started taking pills, writing down the type based on the book. She took a whole bunch of everything and hoped. The drugs she did know about weren’t there, in fact, there was a sign saying the pharmacy didn’t stock Oxycodone.
Naomi also spotted a clothing department. She was being eaten alive by insects, her short shorts and crop top not providing a lot of protection. She picked out some pants, they didn’t have anything cute, but ugly and not eaten beat the hell out of cute and covered in insect bites, so she picked out a couple of pairs of cargo pants, some underwear, a few decent shirts, even some socks and a pair of shoes that fit. Not the greatest shoes, but no worse than the ones she was wearing, and being her size made a world of difference. She hit seasonal as well, they had fall stuff in, some bug spray still kicking around on a back shelf though. There were a few other camping related items, nothing big ticket, or high end, she was able to stock up on alcohol canisters for the camp stove and a set of walkie talkies, long range ones, some sort of hunting season special. Mostly it was back to school stuff, lying out for a group of students who would never arrive.
She made her way into the back area of the store, away from the shelves and into the boxes. The area was lined floor to ceiling with shelving, boxes on most of it. It felt claustrophobic, close, dangerous. Naomi drew her sword and started walking to the rear door, or at least where she thought the door was. She heard a noise from behind, a soft sound, so she turned. There was a zombie coming up from behind, a large woman wearing a smock. Naomi struck fast and hard, not wasting any time. The sword bit into the zombie’s skull, and stopped. She didn’t have enough force behind the blade, and now it was wedged in the bone. She turned to run, better to lose the sword than her life, but there was another zombie closing in from behind her, leaving her trapped. The woman with the sword in her head was closing, pressing forward.
Naomi grabbed the sword hilt and pushed, leaning all of her weight into the weapon. The zombie staggered back a tiny bit, then a bit more. It was too slow, the other zombie would be on her long in a moment. She ran to her left, dragging the zombies head around with her, and leaned back, using her weight to try and pull the sword free. It came out suddenly, knocking Naomi off balance. She landed on her back on the cement floor, the wind knocked out of her instantly. The large female zombie kept coming, black ichor leaking from her skull. She reached down for Naomi, hand clawlike and outstretched, mouth impossibly wide. Naomi thrust the sword up in desperation, just as the zombie dropped down. The sword slammed into the zombie’s mouth, using the zombie’s own weight as it fell down. The blade passed through the zombie’s skull, and it kept dropping, no longer animated. Naomi scrambled under the dead bodies weight, trying to get herself free before the other zombie reached her. She couldn’t see anything for a moment, her face covered by the dead woman’s breasts.
With a lot of pushing she managed to get her face free, just as the other zombie, this one a teenage boy with shaggy brown hair and dead grey eyes, reached her. It was reaching for her legs, mouth open. No other choice then, she pushed her right hand under the dead woman’s bulk, reaching the handgun in her waist band, and pulled it out. The gun caught on the dead woman’s smock, so she pulled harder, as hard as she could, every muscle straining. Finally, a tearing sound and the gun pulled free. She pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. Safety. Fuck. She flipped the safety off and fired, hitting the zombie in the shoulder, knocking it slightly off course. A second shot, this time she hit its head, and it dropped. Her ears were ringing from the gunshots, she couldn’t hear anything else. “Fuck. I’m deaf. Motherfucker.”
She finally managed to get herself pulled out from under the dead woman, and she headed back into the store. The shot might have brought zombies around back, to her escape route.
There were a couple dozen zombies out front, a parking lot full. None of them had managed to get the front door open. Naomi sat down and threw up, the adrenaline dump gone, her body was overcome with exhaustion.
She grabbed a couple of cans of coconut water and downed them, not caring that they were warm.
After a few minutes, she had her breath back, the shaking had mostly stopped. She still wanted to lie down and sleep, but Jasper needed the meds, and sooner would be better from how he looked before she left. She got up, got her legs under control, and shot through the front window of the store. The noise echoed through the dark store, the crashing of glass hitting the ground almost as loud. She turned and started running, as the zombies came through the now open front of the store.
She slammed through the door to the back, turned, and locked it. The store would be full of zombies, and hopefully, any that had made it to the back were now going to the front, following the noise and the horde.
The back door stood there, steel, solid, menacing. Out there could be anything. If her gambit worked, a short run to the forest. If it had failed, maybe dozens of zombies.
“Oh well, no time like the present” she mumbled under her breath, and then carefully opened the door. Nothing visible behind the store, so she hurried out of the open and into the woods on the other side of the parking lot.
One of the zombies caught sight of her as she went, others followed. By the time she was in the trees there were a dozen zombies following her. She cast her eyes around for a defensible spot. Naomi didn’t have much left in her body, the coconut water had helped, but only a tiny bit. There was a very short cliff, maybe three or four feet, and the ground narrowed in a kind of V heading towards it. There was a large tree at the apex of the V. She ran for it, trying to get up the cliff before they reached her, drawing her sword as she went.
The first creature reached her just as she made it to the tree. She swung the sword down on top of its head, but the angle wasn’t right, and she ended up biting deep into its left shoulder. The creatures left arm came off, but it still kept biting at her, and the sword was wedged. She pushed one leg against its chest and pulled. The blade came free and she bounced back against the trunk. Movies made it look so easy, she had no idea swords got stuck so often.
She needed to be more cautious, less fancy. She slammed the point of the blade into its face. The blade smashed through and into the brain. The creature dropped, but there was another one right behind it and one to the right as well. She chopped off a leg on the one on the right, then managed to sever the head of the other one. three down, nine to go. The one without a leg was still coming, crawling towards her though. She came down on the back of its head and it stopped moving. The next wave had three. One of them was a toddler. Horrific, but useful. She kicked it in the head and it rolled down hill, giving her more time to deal with the others.
The next few minutes got lost in a red haze. Lift the sword, thrust, swing, chop. Finally, she brought the blade down point first into the skull of the toddler. The hill leading up to her perch was covered in gore and death. Limbs hacked off, heads severed. She wanted armour if she was going to keep doing this. Too many close calls in too short a span of time.
She crept back to camp slowly, staying out of sight of the zombies. Her hearing gradually came back as she went.
Mona said, “Thought you got eaten,” as soon as she got back.
“Nope, sorry. I’m still alive. Thanks though, the gun was good. You a’ight”
Well, the woman was probably never going to be friendly, but maybe a friend anyway.
They went through the pills together, using the book to identify what they had. Mona seemed disappointed that there weren’t any serious narcotics, but had a pretty decent knowledge of medication. She grabbed a few pills and gave them to Jasper. They had a hard time getting him to swallow, but they didn’t exactly have a lot of other options.
By that night Jasper’s fever was down. He woke up for a bit and they managed to get him to keep down some food. The wound was still hot to the touch, but the redness was down a bit. They also kept pushing water on him, keeping him hydrated. “I feel like shit.”
“You look like shit. Thought you was pale before, now you look like you been bleached.”
“Thanks, love you too.”