The basis of Max’s plan was to be quick and silent. Tom was in no shape to make a mad dash for the car, if anything his shoulder was more puffed up and swollen than before. He needed rest, but he also insisted he could play the role of lookout from the rooftop. The headlights on Stewart’s car had gone out long ago. When full darkness came, the streetlights automatically came on and the zombies moved away from the now dark police cruiser toward the parking and streetlights. Better still a car swerved madly passed the building about eight o’clock and that drew a whole crowd of zombies away from the main building. By nine, they were ready to go. Steve would hold the door; Max and Stewart would run out towards the car. Max would run halfway towards the car and stop, then edge forward slowly; his job was to keep his eyes peeled for any movement. Steve’s job was to do the same and keep the door open until everyone made it back. Stewart’s sole job was to get to the car, salvage the shotgun, all her extra ammo and anything else she could gather that might be useful. Tom would act as God, overseeing everything from the roof and alerting them if any more than single zombies started heading their way. He was to let single zombies pass, unless they were unduly fast or dangerous looking. Max and Steve would have to bail Stewart out of any trouble they might have in the form of single zombies. When they got to the lobby they found Paul, on duty, waiting for Stewart to relieve him, as scheduled. He headed up to sleep leaving the three of them alone in the lobby. Max dug his cell phone out and called Tom’s number on the roof.
“Yeah?” Tom answered.
“It is Max; you see anything since we left you Tom?”
“No, nothing. The pretty lights have them distracted and the fire down the street quite a ways still has a mob around it, right now everything is still clear, you could make a rush all the way to the deep parking lot if you wanted to.”
Max considered revising his plan, nodded to himself and then to Stewart and Steve said, “Still clear, do we try for the parking lot too?”
Stewart said, “Shotgun and more ammo first, if we still have no trouble, we go for Steve’s car and pull it up to the door and head in.” Steve’s car was closest of the ones they had keys for.
“Okay, Tom, gun first as planned, then the car if we can. We are heading out now.”
Max had been going to take Steve’s keys and get the car himself, he did not want to be responsible if something happened to Steve, but Steve insisted that he should drive his own car, as he knew it’s ins and outs. Max agreed, if they got the gun and ammo out of the squad car, he would retreat to the door, Stewart would take up a cover position by the squad car and Steve would go after his car himself.
They set out, Stewart gripping the keys to the trunk in a tight-fisted death grip that Max could see even in the low light from the parking lot. They sprinted out to the squad car, Max going further than they had discussed to get a better angle of view on the building. Stewart hopped in the passenger door without attracting attention. She was doing something in the car for what seemed like eternity and then the trunk popped with what seemed like a loud ‘poof’ sound. Still nothing. Stewart also popped the hood of the car. She hopped out the passenger’s side carrying the shotgun and a duffel bag, ran to the back of the car and put some unknown stuff into the bag. 'Hopefully ammo', Max thought. Then she closed the trunk quietly and ran to the front hood. 'Not in the plan', Max thought furiously, 'not in the plan Stewart! Don’t make stuff up on the fly damn it!'
Stewart propped the gun against the front bumper and then opened the hood quietly, then opening it the full way, and reached in and did something, then with the flick of her hand, she let the hood close, making quite a ‘thunk’ and headed back to Max.
Max kept his mouth shut, but gave her a furious glare at the extra time she had spent deviating from the plan, ignoring his glare she whispered, “Bring this back and send Steve up.”
Max hefted the duffel bag, which was surprisingly heavy, and sprinted back to Steve, whispering, “Your turn, good luck.” He moved into the lobby, dropped the bag, and turned to hold the door. Steve was already sprinting past the squad car. Max saw Stewart open the passenger door to the squad car and the dome light went on. “What the fuck?” Max said softly. Stewart had left the cruiser lights on when she came into the building this morning, but had turned off the car. The lights had drained the power out of the battery even before Max had attempted to get to his car earlier.
Stewart quickly ducked in and turned off the dome light and Max saw her struggling to move over to the driver’s seat. Steve was just a bobbing head out in the parking lot by now. “Tom, is everything still clear, we still good?” Max hated himself for asking because Tom knew what his job was and would only break silence if something happened and they needed to know.
“Yeah,” was his quick the reply, “What’s Stewart doing?”
Max looked out, Steve’s car was moving! The taillights as he braked to come around the corner to the front of the building attracted unwanted attention. Closer still the squad car's engine turned over, it took a moment of grinding then that car started up too. Stewart pulled it nose first towards the parking lot then backed it up quickly to the right of the front door. Steve just popped his car over the curb and parked it nose first on the left hand side of the door, both cut the engines simultaneously and hopped out as Tom said into Max’s ear, “Three of them coming around the side of the building four, five, uh, lots more attracted from the street.” Stewart and Steve moved into the building quickly and quietly, Max slammed the door shut behind them and all three of them leaned against the door until the magnetic lock clicked on with a soft noise.
They backed away from the door and Max listened while Tom described the ten or twelve zombies that milled about the front of the buildings. When it was apparent that they were safe, Stewart let out laugh, “We did it!”
Max was ready to be angry, the squad car was not part of the deal, but looking things over it was a good call on Stewart’s part and her initiative deserved praise, not condemnation. So instead he said, “Yeah, we, uh...I mean you, did. That was excellent work on the car. How’d you get it to start?”
“Well, cops have a lot of times where we have to sit at a crime or accident scene with our lights on for a long time, running the battery down was common enough that a few years ago the department bought those batteries with a special reserve in them to kinda of jump start the cars. Just flip a switch and you are effectively using a completely separate battery. Ours are heavy duty, and the alternator is wired to charge up both batteries when the car is running, we are good to go and have two cars now instead of one, not to mention a shotgun and ammo for my other guns. Is Tom coming down?”
“He is probably on his way. Good job both of you, Steve you were awesome, a world class run if I ever saw one.” said Max, “So now what? We have the cars, do we tell everyone else? Make a break for it? How is the ammo situation now?”
Stewart answered, “Well good, compared to what it was, I have reloads out of my bag for my handguns and the squad car shotgun has both man shot and some rounds that are supposed to be armor piercing. I really wish I were in one of the cars that carried the assault rifles that would have been nice. Though I suppose with a head shot to kill, single shots are better.”
“Man shot?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, double ought buckshot. I have some riot rounds too, doubt they will do much against a zombie, but man, they should knock them on their asses at least. Tear gas, what a joke, won’t need that. It does get smoky though, that might be worth something. I don’t think we need to go wake everyone up to tell them of our good fortune tonight, we’ll tell ‘em in the morning, everyone will more or less know by then anyway. I wonder how boss lady will take it? Bad I assume.”
With that said, they waited until the next shift arrived to relieve them; their relief that came down was Walter “Walt” Coggins, an older guy whom Max had always liked. They left him at his post with the advice to get help if anything happened and went up to the cubicles they had staked out earlier to sleep.