As they went their separate ways Denise, Tina and Rory began to delve deeper into the Air Force Base looking for an armory.
“Where do you suppose they keep the guns?” asked Tina.
“They won’t keep them too close to the gates, that’s for sure,” answered Rory, “They will probably keep them closer to the barracks.”
The sun was beginning to rise in the sky giving it a deep pink hue as they took their first steps out from where they were staying for the night. The air was crisp and birds sang out from the trees. It would have been a gorgeous morning, had the outbreak not happened, but they couldn’t afford the niceties of normal, not when they’re fighting for their lives. Denise smiled at Rory slyly and brushing a piece of hair back behind her ear. He smiled back seemingly reserved.
The first building they happened upon was a commissary, a cart was jammed in the door, a parking lot almost abandoned.
“Do we need anything, Last call for alcohol,” Rory jokes pointing at the store.
Tina tugs on Denise’s arm lightly, “Can we please get some chocolate?” she chimes in.
“I guess, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any myself, is that ok with you, Rory?” She looked hopeful at him.
“Ok, but make it quick.” He snipped. “You never know what’s lurking in there.”
Tina excitedly moved the cart forward, but it wouldn’t budge.
“I can’t get it,” she cried out in frustration.
Denise grabbed the cart and gave it a yank towards her. The doors shook with the sudden jolt and slowly squeaked open. Rory quickly brandished a gun in case any zombies had decided to investigate. Lights above them flickered giving the store an eerie feeling.
The trio looked in astonishment. The store had been almost completely ransacked. Shelves were all but wiped clean, open packages of food and crumbs were on the floor, broken glass and a faint smell of pickles filled the stagnant air.
“Guess we weren’t the only ones to think of this,” Rory blurted out.
“Yeah, I guess,” responded Denise, her jaw dropping, “I mean, when the outbreak happened, they locked everyone down, huh. They had to get their food from somewhere.”
“Let’s just get the chocolate and get out,” He responded.
Denise and Tina ran to the registers in search of their coveted treats while Rory stood back a little, keeping watch. The air was still; it was quiet, almost as dead as some of the zombies when a rustling caught Rory’s attention. He turned around quickly towards the girls when he heard one of them yelp. Out of the blue, a raccoon scampered past them and ran to the door. Denise laughed in shock and Tina stared in awe.
“Ok, we’d better go, don’t want to attract anything else, I don’t have much ammo.” Rory nodded towards the girls, who’d each grabbed a handful of chocolate among other goodies.
They slipped out of the commissary quieter than they went in, Tina grinning from ear to ear like a girl on Christmas, or as close as she could come to Christmas again. Denise smiled at Tina, her heart broke. Tina would never experience another Christmas with her family again, none of them would. Before Denise could pine over the loss of her life as she’d known it, Rory pulled her and Tina to the ground suddenly. Gunshots cut through the air like a knife, causing Tina to pull herself into fetal position as Denise wrapped herself around her. Rory popped his head over the overgrown grass to see zombies drop, one by one from an unseen force.
“What’s going on?” Denise whispered, fear filled her eyes.
“I don’t know,” said Rory watching, not taking his eyes off the zombies.
Two of the five zombies remained standing when all of a sudden another shot followed by the head of the undead victim bursting open from behind sending a spray of blood, bone and decomposed flesh into the air. Rory’s eyes followed the trajectory of the bullet.
“The trees,” Rory stated, “There is a sniper in the trees, We’re going to have to go another way, if we don’t want to end up like them.”
“Maybe whoever is up there can help us,” Denise added.
After the last zombie had met its demise and Rory was sure of it, he’d let out a yell.
“There is three of us, where are you,” Rory yelled out.
“Come out in the open where I can see you, I won’t shoot,” The disembodied voice called back.
Rory took a deep breath. He knew it was risky, but he had to get whatever help he could. He stood first, waving his hands at the girls for them to follow. They sprinted into the opening where the zombies had fallen, the pungent smell hitting them in the faces. As much as they’d expected to get over it, the smell always hit their gag reflexes.
They looked towards the forested area, searching for signs of life they knew were there when suddenly a man walked out from behind overgrown brush, wearing hunting camouflage. His unfazed blue eyes were warm and welcoming, as though he’d not seen another living person in a long time. He stretched his hand out, a gentle smile formed on his face exposing deep wrinkles around his mouth and his forehead. White hair stuck out from beneath his hunting cap. He’d clearly seen battle before.
“The names James, but you can call me Jim,” He said, “Where are you folks headed?”
“We’re in need of ammo,” Rory responded, “We’ve got friends who are looking for fuel, do you have any extras, or know where we could get some?”
“Well, the gas station here on base is empty, as dry as a bone, but the armory, she’s full,” said James “I’ve got the key to the armory, I don’t mind sharing, but you’ve got the carry what you can get, and don’t get too greedy.”
“Oh, we won’t, thank you so much,” Denise said gratefully “Is there anything we can do in return, to help?”
“Naw,” James responded “It’s me and the wife out here, don’t need too much, got lots of protection, been stocking up.” He pointed towards the commissary. “I’d suggest you and your girlfriend do the same, unless you’re looking for a place to stay, we’ve got plenty of room.”
“We’re not really dating,” responded Rory looking at Denise, “We’re just good friends.”
Denise blushed, trying to hide her disappointment in his answer.
“Thank you,” Denise said graciously trying to brush off what Rory had said. “but we really have to find out friends first.”
James nodded in understanding. “Well, if it’s ammo you want, it’s ammo you’re going to get, we don’t use a lot ourselves, lucky where we’ve been staying I guess.”
They were now led by James, who’d taken them to a large building not too far from where they met. The outside was rather unimpressive, something one would easily overlook when passing by. The aging war veteran walked up the steps that held the guns they were looking for and unlocked the door.
“I’m afraid the lights don’t work, but you can take what you can, but remember moderation, I need some too,” James said handing a flashlight he’d taken out of his back pocket to Rory.
Rory turned on the flashlight and slipped in with the girls close behind.
“Grab what you can carry, don’t forget bullets,” He said.
“Where did you get the key,” Tina asked curiously.
Jim chuckled, “I used to be the armory chief. I kept the inventories in here. It kept me away from the front of the fighting. I had brought my wife on base when this started, and when the place started getting overwhelmed, we just bunkered down and stocked supplies.”
The massive armory was dark save light that snuck in through barred windows covered in vines. Everything from shotguns to crossbows were accessible to them, it was hard to not grab everything, weapons were pretty hard to come by it seemed.
The trio left the armory feeling satisfied they’d made good choices.
“I … I really can’t thank you enough,” Rory said to James. “Is there really nothing we can do?”
“If you see a man who goes by the name of Chase Anderson, tell him his father is home, waiting for him,” Tears began to fill the old man’s eyes giving his blue eyes an aquamarine hue.
Denise’s head dropped, “I promise.”
Rory, Denise and Tina stood in a circle trying to ration out the guns and ammo so that no one person was more bogged down than another as James was locking the doors. A deep throaty growl came out from behind the building followed by a zombie. James lifted a gun he’d had on his leg and shot at the zombie, taking out half of the walking dead’s head.
“You’d better be on your way,” James said, “It’s going to get dark, and they’re going to be coming soon.”
No sooner do they take their steps towards back towards the bunker when they began hearing a commotion outside.
“What the hell is going on?” exclaimed Rory, as the rushed to check it out.