Flash Fiction Friday #2 made me write a lot of words! You can check out “Cue the Fever” at the bottom of last week’s post.
Will pulled the cards just a few minutes ago for this week’s challenge. In an effort to mix it up again, we pulled two character cards and one situation.
So many possibilities with these!
I’ll post my story on Friday September 19 (or possibly earlier since I am on the road next week with the Cycle for the Cause ride) and I might just bang this out on the way to Boston on Wednesday. Remember, you can leave a link to any stories that you write off of this in the comment section.
[h2]September 12 Story[/h2]
This was written on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston. Hopefully you’ll like my take on logger zombie after hours supermarket.
Supermarket Madness by Jeff Adams
It’d been a long couple of weeks. Jared hadn’t worked that long of a run in months, and had only agreed to do it because it paid massive overtime. The only way Kyle was going to be able to move to join him, and so they could buy a house, was if there was some kind of nest egg.
Kyle was doing his part, having recently taken a part-time job to augment his day job answering customer service tech calls. Now he was also working four days a week as a night shift manager at a Starbucks in the South Bay.
All Jared knew how to do was logging. He’d done it since he was thirteen with his dad, and he just kept on. He loved being in the woods. He loved looking for the right trees to cut down. He loved being on a crew, deep in the woods, with a mission. He also liked helping to replant trees, which he did as often as he could. At twenty-six, the work hadn’t caught up with him yet, but he knew it would. He hoped he’d last into his mid-40s like his dad before he had to move into management. From what he’d seen, management wasn’t nearly as much fun.
It sucked Kyle couldn’t make it up for Jared’s four days off, but at least there be some extended video chats rather than just the few text messages they’d shared. Service was spotty to say the least in the areas Jared worked.
Jared drove as fast as he could given the two lane twisty road he was on. He’d driven these roads most of his life, but he still took it cautiously since you never knew when a deer or something might jump out.
Kyle was waiting for him to call, even though it was already past midnight. Jared knew Kyle wouldn’t mind be woken up by him, but still he didn’t want to call any later than necessary. It was silly not to stay on the job site until morning, but he was too excited to sleep in his own bed. It didn’t matter that the bed was a six hour drive away. Two weeks in a sleeping bag was more than enough.
He’d left later than intended thanks to a truck full of logs that got itself stuck. Luckily he’d called his buddy Dan to stay at the supermarket until he got there so he could get supplies. That would allow him to stay put and chill until it was time to go back to work. He envisioned lots of begging with Netflix.
Pulling up at the market, he saw the lights still on and Dan’s car parked out front. As soon as he stepped out of the truck, Jared knew something was wrong. The glass door leading inside was ajar. Dan would’ve locked that at closing time. A quick check of his showed at was half an hour ago.
An agonized scream from inside confirmed that things weren’t right. Jared pulled his phone from his jacket pocket and called 911. It rang a dozen times with no answer.
Odd. This town wasn’t so busy that 911 should go unanswered.
Another scream, definitely Dan’s, meant Jared couldn’t wait for the cops. Moving quickly to the truck bed, he grabbed one of his axes, deciding to go for that instead of a noisy chain saw, and moved quietly to the door.
Jared was a big guy. Exactly what you’d expect a logger to look like–just over six feet tall and muscular from all the physical labor. He was confident he could take care of whoever was hurting Dan.
Passing the front windows, he didn’t see anyone. He did, however, notice a couple shelves of toppled merchandise. The zig zag pattern of the mess made it look like someone had been flailing and randomly knocking stuff off.
Was dan hurt and stumbling around?
“Help me, please.” It wasn’t so much a yell as it was pleading.
Jared barged in the front door, deciding a distraction might be the better way to go.
“Hey!” He yelled. “Who’s in here?”
The only response were grunts and gnawing noises coming from the back of the store.
“I’ve called the police. They’re on the way.”
He moved quickly towards the back where the noises continued. It wasn’t a sound Jared could place, maybe an animal of some kind had gotten in and attacked?
But that didn’t make sense. He’d never heard animals like this.
Dan’s bloody hand was visible in the doorway to the office. It sounded like someone was ransacking the place.
“I’m coming after you sons a bitches.” Jared let go a guttural yell as he jumped into he doorway so he could see inside. He hoped the yell gave whoever was inside a surprise so he could take them down.
The scene left him speechless. One person, or what looked like a person, was eating Dan’s leg. Another was running into furniture, like he couldn’t figure out how to get out.
“What the hell?” Jared said under his breath.
The thing eating Dan didn’t stop eating. The other one took notice and charged for Jared. Taking two steps back, until he was against the wall opposite the door, Jared raised the axe. The creature stumbled over Dan in the doorway, in his haste to get to Jared.
Knowing he had to incapacitate this person, he had a hard time calling this thing a person, he swung for the neck. In one blow, the head flew back into the office, landing on the desk. The rest of the body crumpled on top of Dan.
Are these guys tweaked? Was this some new drug that was getting manufactured in the backwoods?
Jared stepped over the bodies and took a swing at the guy who just kept eating. He decided he had nothing to loose by taking his head off too.
He’d never killed anyone. Jared’s mind raced. He knew it was justified, but it didn’t lessen the sadness. He pulled his phone again and tried 911. Now it was busy. Maybe his phone was messed up?
He went to the desk and dialed from the landline.
“We’re sorry. Your call can’t be completed as dialed. Please check the number and try again.”
Check the number? For 911? Jared was more confused than ever.
He hung up and tried again. Same response.
Suddenly there were steps behind him. He turned, raising the axe as he did. Dan lunged for him. Before Jared could strike, Dan bit down on Jared’s right forearm. Dan locked Jared’s flesh in his mouth and Jared dropped the axe as the strength drained from his hand.
Jared punched Dan in the face, but his teeth still dug. Jared hit harder, putting everything he had into the punches.
He finally delivered a blow that had enough follow through that Dan fell back and Jared ended up off balance, but managed to keep from falling over himself. He tried to grab the axe, but his right hand failed him.
Just as Jared got the axe in his left hand, Dan got up and attacked. Jared swung wild and knocked Dan to the side and into the desk, causing the desk to partially collapse.
Jared adjusted his grip on the axe, and steadied it with his right hand. He reared back, bringing it down on Dan’s neck. The chop was clean and Dan’s head rolled into the corner behind the desk. A thick, almost purplish fluid flowed from the neck.
Jared took a moment to look around. He was covered in purplish splatter, as well as his own red blood that flowed from the bite in his arm. He looked at the other bodies, the same purplish liquid was around them as well.
What was this? He knew Dan didn’t do drugs. Unless these guys had drugged him.
He didn’t hear any movement in the store, but he wasn’t putting down the axe either. Flexing his right hand, he found it sluggish, almost like it was asleep. He was able to lift the telephone, though.
He set the receiver on the desk and pushed nine, one, one on the keypad. Before he could bring the phone to his ear, someone answered.
“What is your emergency?” The woman’s voice sounded like someone struggling to stay calm.
“I’m at Sutter’s Supermarket on 36 and need help. There are several dead bodies here.”
“Sir, you’ll need to stay put,” the operator said. “We’ve got several officers out on calls and we’ll respond as soon as possible.”
“Did you hear me, I said dead people.”
“Yes, sir, I did. Are you in immediate danger?”
“I don’t think so,” Jared said, looking around.
“Then please stay there, and stay calm. We’ll get someone you as quickly as possible.”
She disconnected, not waiting for Jared to make a response. He hung up with a shrug.
Without warning, he dropped the axe and collapsed to the floor. His body tingled. He struggled, but couldn’t get to his feet. The best he could do was slide around and sit up against the collapsed desk.
His mind raced. Maybe it wasn’t drugs. A virus? He’d been largely out of touch, but if something major was happening, Dan would’ve told him when he’d called earlier. Or someone would’ve gotten word out to the crew.
His phone rang from his jacket pocket. It took more effort than he expected to get it. Kyle’s name was on the display. He mustered all the calm he had and clicked to answer it. He didn’t want to worry Kyle.
“Hey,” Jared said.
“Hey, glad I finally got you. I kept getting the stupid fast busy signal. Listen, you might want to come down here or even part of the way south. There’s some weird shit going on up there. The news says something about a virus, one even said people were acting like zombies. Sounds like they’re gonna close the roads.”
He had to get out of here. He told his legs to move but they wouldn’t.
“It might be too late. I walked in on some weird stuff going down at the market. I’m waiting on the police now.”
He’d thought about lying, and saying he’d turn around, but he didn’t want what might be his last conversation with Kyle to be a lie.
“Are you okay?” Concern filled Kyle’s voice.
He paused, considering his answer. Now, however, might be the time to lie since he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. There was no point in worrying Kyle. He didn’t want him coming up here after him if there was something catching. “Yeah. Just shaken up.”
“I wish you were still in the woods. If they close the roads you’re gonna be stuck up there.”
“I’ll stock up here before I go home,” Jared said, discovering it was more difficult to talk. He hoped Kyle didn’t notice. “You know, just in case.”
“Be safe, okay?” Kyle said. “Call me when you get home. I don’t care how late it is.”
“I will. Kyle, I love you.”
“I love you too, babe. You want me to stay on with you until the cops get there?”
“It’s okay,” Jared said. “You’ve got work in the morning.”
“If you’re sure.”
“I am,” he said. He caught sight of his right arm. He was still bleeding, but that blood looked closer to the purple color. “I should go. I hear the cops pulling up.”
“Good that means you’ll be safe. I’ll talk to you as soon as your home.”
“Yup. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
The call disconnected and he let the phone drop from his hand. As if a dimmer switch were being used, his vision started to blur on the edges.
“I’m sorry, Kyle,” he whispered to no one.
He tried to move a hand, a foot, anything, but nothing responded. He was paralyzed, although he was still drawing breath.
Hopefully Kyle would be safe. Jared was not sure if lying was right. Maybe Kyle should’ve known that he was about to die. Or maybe not, he couldn’t decide if he’d want to know or not if he were too far away to help.
He needed to get the axe. No matter what he did, he couldn’t move anything.
What if he got up like Dan did? No. No. No. I can’t be like that.
He strained again, but nothing.
Suddenly he did move. He slowly stood, except he wasn’t in control of his body. Then he was on the floor, next to Dan, taking a bit out of him.
Jared screamed but no sound came out. The only sound he made was something between a groan and a growl, similar to what he’d heard before he found Dan.
He saw what was happening and couldn’t stop it. He didn’t taste anything, couldn’t feel anything. He was only aware of what was happening, seeing everything from the perspective of his eyes.
After a few minutes, Jared’s body got up and walked out of the office, out of the store and into the street. Jared saw his truck as he walked by it. He was headed towards town.
Jared needed someone to kill him, as he’d killed Dan and the other two. As he kept moving down the road, he hoped some one got him before he killed.