Jake’s voice was soft, and scared. I popped the magazine out of my M&P Shield and pocketed it before I pulled one from my holster and slid in into the mag well of my pistol. I’d already burned through one magazine. After this one, I would have to start looking for reloads… or a hand-to-hand weapon,
The later was not an appealing thought. Hand-to-hand meant “within bite range”, which is not where you generally want to be with zombies.
I slid the magazine home and pulled back the slide to chamber a shell. “What?” I tried to sound concerned. What can I say? Customer service training kicks in at the oddest moments. Even though we weren’t anywhere near the AT&T store that paid my bills, and we had random former mall patrons trying to eat my face, my first inclination was to treat Jake like a customer. Go figure.
“Why… why aren’t they… interested in us?”
I looked at Jake. In all honesty, he looked ridiculous. We were both made up for a night of lessons at Madame Trudeau’s School of Clowns and Japery. That was the official name, at least. Most of us students just called it, “The Clown School” and left it at that.
I took in his big, red, bulbous nose, his wild hair, his makeup-white skin. Even with his furrowed brow and concerned eyes, Jake looked ridiculous.
“No idea,” I said shortly, as I turned back to look out the entrance to the Nature’s Way store we had ducked into. It was full of Himalayan Sea Salt lamps, incense burners and…
… crappy knock-off, Japanese swords.
“Jake!” I barked. Jake straightened up, his neon blue hair bouncing amusingly. “Head towards the back, will you? They have swords back there.” Crappy, useless swords, I thought. “Sharp enough to stab, if we need to,” I continued. “Go grab a couple of ‘em?”
Jake looked around. He wasn’t the bravest guy in the world, nor the brightest. He was a clown, for crying out loud. Not even a clown - a clown trainee. I closed my eyes and shook my head. In a different world, I was hanging out with the Marines at the recruiting station down the hall.
In a different world, I was dead.
I opened my eyes and looked at Jake as I chambered a round in my pistol. “Go get the swords. We may need them.”
“Right. Yeah. Ok.” Jake sounded like he was trying to convince himself as he headed towards the back to the store. He pulled up to a stop next to the stand of rain forest sound makers.
“Um. Bob? There’s…”
He didn’t even get to finish the sentence before the zombie lunged up and around the display case at him. I recognized him. Gary had worked at Nature’s Way for the past three years, working himself up from clerk to manager to store manager. We’d spent more than a coupe of nights together, talking politics and hashing out the solutions to every ill of the world. Even though he was liberal as the day is long, the poor bastard deserved better than this.
So did Jake, really. I had to admit that. It was a grudging admission, though. If you offered me the choice between Gary and Jake a few days ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated, Gary was a hardcore liberal, true, but he was at least fun to argue with and made me stop and think once in a while.
Jake… Jake thought I was some sort of fascist wannabe because I had my concealed carry license and studied hapkido.
Jake also had a pussy hat. Enough said.
Faced with a marauding, brainless Gary, Jake froze. For some reason, though, Gary also pulled up and stopped as well. That gave me a second to look at him, which didn’t really contribute to the “Bob keeping the contents of hi stomach down” fund. Gary’s head was half gone, and from the looks of it, something had clawed his head open looking for brains before it got terminally distracted. The back half of Gary’s skull was open, oozing, and extremely unappealing.
I gagged, and brought the Shield up as Gary - well, what was once Gary - sniffed at Jake and looked confused. I sighted in on the remains on Gary’s skull, and paused before I pulled the trigger.
“Goodnight, man,” was all I could muster before I squeezed once, twice, three times. Gary’s head exploded in a fountain of gore, splashing Jake with various and sundry unappealing bits of grey matter before Gary’s body finally flopped over and collapsed to the ground.
“Gah…gah…” Jake made some gagging sounds, then suddenly and violently turned to his left and puked. He retched for a good couple of minutes, emptying his stomach completely. Just the I though he was done, he would turn his head towards me, hold up and hand, then go back to retching.
I guess getting somebody else’s brains in your mouth will do that to you.
I kept a look out while Jake retched. “What’s going on?” he finally spit out. He finished retching, and stood up to look at me, then asked the question I had been wondering about myself.
“Why aren’t they attacking us?”
I looked at him and shook my head. “I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.” The two of us were a sight, I knew. White face paint. Scare wigs. Fake rubber noses. Big clown pants and big clown shoes. I looked left then right, then over my shoulder, just as I had been trained in the hapkido dojoang. Aside from Gary, I didn’t see any unholy, marauding undead.
“Come on.” I gestured at the row next to him. “Grab those swords”.
“Right, right.” There was a pause as Jake looked around. “Anything else?”
I hesitated. We were in a mall, after all - the perfect place to stock up in the event of a zombie apocalypse. However I was also low on ammunition. We could get that for sure at the sporting good store on the other side of the mall, if we really wanted to. Trying to fight our way through would probably mean disaster, though.
I looked at Jake and what remained of Gary, and a thought came into my head. It was significant
enough that I paused for a moment to consider it’s implications.
I suddenly realized Jake was looking at me, his hands gently pushing the Shield away from his person.
“Bob? Come on back, man…. Bob?”
I squeezed my eyes shut, tight, then opened them again.
“I’m here, I’m here. Jake.”
I looked at my fellow clown. “We need to get to the sporting goods store. Arm ourselves. Pick up ammo. After that….” I looked at Jake. “I’m thinking our best bet might be the library.”
Jake frowned. It made him look ridiculous in his clown makeup. “The library?”
“Yeah.” I hesitated a bit. “Used to work there years ago, in high school. The place was built to serve as a bomb shelter. It can definitely keep zombies out.” I took a deep breath. “Couple of friends of mine that worked there, we talked about how it was the prefect place to hole up if the zombie apocalypse ever came.” I looked around at the shop, then out towards the main concourse in the mall where various individuals were shambling about in distinctly non-living poses, and nodded, half to Jake, half to myself.
“Seems like that’s where we are now.” I looked at Jake. “So. Sporting goods store, then the library. That’s my plan. You in?”