Home > Zombie Mountain (Walking Plague Trilogy #3)(4)

Zombie Mountain (Walking Plague Trilogy #3)(4)
Author: J.R. Rain

All he needed was fresh food. Never mind the instant meals he’d packed, he wanted one good meal. Even if it was the last one. From the information he’d gleaned from previously secure military sources online, he understood the world outside was out of control. Stopping at a diner, or even a drive-thru, was risky business.

He glanced toward the building he had just left. Surely, there was a mess hall. He couldn’t eat the refrigerated food, as it had been too long without electricity to keep from spoilage, but there should be plenty of canned and packaged goods.

Just one more time, he told himself. For better or worse, he picked up his backpack and machine guns and headed back inside.

* * *

As expected, the kitchen was in disarray. Hash browns, eggs and bacon lay on the huge commercial stove top, gathering mold while flies swarmed. The agent, whose name was Cole, took in the sight of broken dishes, overturned pots, and dried blood on the floor. It was a miracle the stove had been turned off during the melee. Otherwise, he could be looking at a charred mess instead.

He sat one of the guns down and crossed to the refrigerator. He covered his nose and mouth with his free hand; the spoiled odor was overwhelming. The fridge door had been left open, void of any meat. Moving quietly into the storage room nearby, he listened while his heart pounded violently in his chest.

Seeing only institutional sized cans of food, Cole chided himself for thinking he could find a nice little can of chicken soup or chili. He’d have to make do with a couple of large beef stews. He unzipped his pack and deposited them as quietly as he could, grimacing at the weight.

He stopped at the walk-in freezer before leaving the kitchen. Couldn’t hurt to look. Maybe he’d find some still-frozen fruit or vegetables. He glanced at the machine gun he’d left sitting on the table, raised the other while making sure it was ready for immediate us.

Cole opened the door, flipping the light switch. Of course it didn’t work. Hard to make out anything other than the shelves and their bigger contents in the dimness, the room felt fairly cool. Quickly, he stuffed a couple of sealed green beans and mushy peaches into the pack.

Anxiety setting in, his instincts were telling him to get the hell out of there. Out of the building before something unpleasant befell him. Prepared to step out of the storage room, Cole set his weapon down on a shelf while adjusting the backpack’s weight on his shoulders. That’s when he noticed his other gun had disappeared from the table in the kitchen.

“Don’t move,” came a hard, cold voice from beside him, as he stepped out to investigate.

A woman held the weapon trained upon his head. He guessed her to be in her early forties. When she warned him again not to move or look at her, he complied, except to raise his eyes to the stainless steel covered wall in front of him. It served as a dim mirror revealing the figure now slightly behind him. Dressed in civilian clothes, she was slightly overweight. More importantly, she didn’t hold the automatic rifle properly, shaking noticeably.

Quickly processing all potential outcomes, the good news was he could easily overtake her. The bad news, however, was her nervousness. She could erratically discharge the weapon and kill them both in the process.

Cole smiled angelically, slowly raising his hands.

“I’m not here to hurt anyone, Miss.” His voice was soothing, assured.

“I’ve heard that before!” came her sour reply.

“Really? If you’ve been watching me, I think you’re smart enough to see I’m just getting some food. Just something for the road.”

“Who else is with you?” she asked suspiciously

“No one.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Can I please turn around without you riddling me with bullets?”

A pause. Then, “Real slow, mister.”

He turned to face this woman, whose lips quivered nervously. He knew she had good reason to respond as she was. Cole had a good idea of what she had been through recently. Likely hiding in this place alone, either luck or intelligence had kept her alive so far.

“I’m not here to hurt anybody,” he told the woman. “I’m not sick, and I don’t want any trouble.”

“Then what are you really doing here?” The weapon swayed dangerously as she wiped the sweat dripping down into her eyes.

Cole started to lower his hands, but she pointed the gun at him as she took a step forward. He stopped, his own smile nervous.

“I work—or used to work here,” he said. “I must leave now. There’s nothing left for me here.” Cole noted her disheveled hair and greasy face. Must’ve been here for a while. “Why are you still here?”

“I came for help.” She sounded bitter. “I had to get away from them—I needed to find a safe place. I figured this would be it.”

“Bet you were surprised to find out otherwise.” Cole tried to draw her out, to calm her a little.

“I’m still alive, aren’t I?” she responded, defiantly.

“That makes two of us.... Can I lower my hands?” He brightened his smile and tentatively stepped closer to her, unarmed and with his heart raging again. “My name is Cole. Like I said, I used to work here. You can come with me, if you’d like.”

She nodded for him to lower his hands, and he was mindful to keep them where she could see them. The woman kept her stance. But the first step in befriending her had been taken.

“Can I ask you your name, ma’am?”

The woman opened her mouth to speak, but at that moment, someone else burst into the kitchen and her automatic rifle went wild.

Chapter Four

Cole dropped to the floor, while the woman wheeled and fired, spraying bullets across the kitchen and pocking every surface with holes. Ricocheted bullets zinged throughout the room. As he rolled over to retrieve the other machine gun, he registered that she had taken a couple zombies down. More from sheer luck than any semblance of aim, he was dismayed to hear more of them drudging slowly into the kitchen, hissing and growling. Meanwhile, she was out of control. In her panic, spraying bullets everywhere, she was coming to the end of her ammo clip.

When she did, he shouldered his gun and raised himself up to the counter. The woman dropped her gun. She stood frozen in fear at the multitude of the undead.

“Get over here!” Cole hollered. She stood as if frozen to the floor, gripped by terrible fear. He considered killing her as well as them, and being done with it. But in the instant before taking her out, Cole realized he didn’t want to be alone.

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