Greens Grocery sat on the outskirts of a cluster of small villages in Waterloo township. An essential business supplying the township with canned goods, perishables and liquor. At least, that’s what Frank Green always assumed. Frank had, for forty years, thought of himself as an essential worker. If Frank ain’t working the township ain’t running.
Six months to the day, the township stopped working. People stopped coming into the store. Frank knew why, he saw it on the news when the drugs stopped working.
For years, the country had been abusing a drug called Inferno, an antipsychotic but tweaked on the streets to become the last, greatest craze. Antipsychotic became psychotic and people that used it began dying. To counter Inferno, the pharmaceuticals created a new drug. This drug resuscitated the users but eventually drove them further into a psychological rabbit hole. Several corrections later and we have an epidemic world wide.
“A god-damn zombie apocalypse,” quoted some medical expert on the morning news.
Frank donned a red shirt, tie and slacks. He walked down the steps from the apartment above to the store for another uneventful day. He entered the warehouse in the rear of the store and spent the next hour and a half preparing what he had left to be displayed in the aisles.
Paper goods were still plentiful. Frank’s stacked a couple boxes of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins in a shopping cart and pushed it to the door. He unlocked the door handle, chain lock and rolled a large red tool box that blocked the door.
Frank pushed the shopping cart to the West end of the store, near the coolers. The coolers had been off for months, along with the lights. frozen foods, milk and meat expired months ago. Frank’s priority was to prepare for the enviable return of civility.
He turned down the last aisle and moved through, past the coolers on the left, then stopped in front of a trio of empty shelves. He placed the paper products on the shelves. When he was done the shelves displayed three packages of toilet paper, towels and napkins and a lot of empty shelf space.
Frank pushed the cart to the front customer service desk and entered. He dusted the large counter and the shelves beneath it. The cash register drawer was half open and empty of cash. Frank pushed the drawer closed but it reopened. He pushed it closed a second time then cleaned the shelves beneath. He stopped at a poorly built wooden box. He slid it toward the edge of the shelf and opened it. Inside was a revolver and an open box of ammunition. There were no remaining bullets in the ammunition box but Frank knew there were bullets within the revolver. He grabbed the revolver with his left hand, His hand began to shake. Frank opened the cylinder to verify. He found four rounds ready to use. He closed the cylinder and placed the revolver back in the box. He pushed the box toward the back of the shelf and finished dusting.
Frank searched and found a clean rag, a bottle of window cleaner and a step ladder. He walked to the front of the store. The front window was plate glass, fairly thick. Two eight-foot by six-foot tall panes separated by a small strip. Frank placed the ladder on the left-most end and began cleaning from the top down.
The dirt and grime came free from the inside of the window revealing a parking lot of abandoned cars parked in front of the store. Like an old photograph, a tranquil scene within the center of town. Except, in reality, there was no tranquility. People of the village milled through the street. No one drove any of the vehicles. They milled with no destination. Something to do as they waited to attack anything not sick and brave enough to make an appearance.
“Living with such rage,” Frank’s thoughts began to surface. “What was it like trapped in a body or were they just insane? Did they have any conscious thought?
Frank caught himself staring out the window at a gentlemen in a three piece suit walking slowly past the broken window of Town Bar. The gentleman dressed to kill, clearly a visitor to Waterloo at some point. Maybe a groomsman at a wedding within the township hall. The gentleman passed the broken window of Town Bar, staring forward. A woman approached from the right. Staring forward and oblivious. The man in the three piece suit walking from the left. Eventually they met in the center of Frank’s view. The expected human behavior being to politely move but these two smashed into each other and became a mangled mess. Both managed to stay on their feet, by some miracle, freed them selves, then moved on. No apology, no angry glances. Just acceptance of anything that was… oh well.
“No piss’n and moan’n all the time. Oh I didn’t get my donut with my coffee,” Frank says in a mocking tone.
The window was half clean when a metallic crash, somewhere in the rear of the store, startled Frank. Frank fell into the window with a thud but the thick glass held.
The act of falling into the window and the noise it created frightened Frank more then the thought of what could possibly be in the back. He settled the ladder and stood near the top. His left hand still on the plate glass. The crowd outside began to become more animated, as if someone had shouted “Help!” and they all wanted to help. They began to search for the source of the noise. Their interest peaked Frank knew he had to be extra cautious to not confirm his location with another noise.
“ I haven’t been hear this long and safe to lose it now,” he mumbled.
Frank heard some of the boxed stock being tossed within the warehouse. He cursed in a whisper.
“If it’s Gary,” he said. “I’m going to lose it. I told him to stay in that room.”
“He never listens…”
Another crash, followed by several additional crashes, prompted Frank to stumble from the ladder. The ladder stuck the front window.
Frank watched as a hairline fracture spread out from the impact. Outside the window, the infected took notice and began to inspect the front of the grocery.
Blind, the infected, listened for additional evidence. They milled around the front of the store occasionally slapping the glass to prompt a response from any unfortunate frightened creature.
Frank wasn’t frightened, he was pissed. His perfectly manicured situation was in danger.
He was going to rectify this and take it out of Gary’s ass.