Cautiously they crept the remaining distance keeping to the shadows as best they could. Hiding behind an abandoned Ford Explorer Nancy and Veronica watched the survivors gain access to the patrol car and another, a sportier vehicle. All without attracting undue notice from the surrounding ‘dumb’ zombies.
“Look,” Veronica directed Nancy’s attention towards a police officer. “She’s going to be trouble.”
They watched as the cop calmly lifted the hood of her car and did something, then hopped in and backed it up to the front doors of MAC Company. Her professional manner under pressure was admirable, Nancy was thinking maybe a hole would have to be made to allow the more competent to survive what she had planned, and therefore allow her and her team to come out of it with less casualties as well. Steve was pretty calm too. Nancy recognized him from work, she always thought he was a bit of a flake, that impression was forced to change, it took balls to run out into the night of the parking lot, hop into your car and drive it back to the building. The other guys, Nancy saw one on the roof who she didn’t, or couldn’t recognize and another one hanging by the door, who might be a guy named Max. Nancy didn’t really get a good look at him, so for now he was ‘Max’. What the group did was just as informative as how they did it. They brought the cars back, why do that unless there were more people in the building? So there were more than four, but how many more? Nancy thought back to this morning, not many early birds came in, but she knew there was a night crew, but how many workers were on graveyard?
Nancy and Veronica watched from their hiding place taking survey of the remaining survivors until the cop closed the metal framed glass door behind her officially ending their adventure. Some of the dead banged and pulled at the door but had no luck gaining access to the building. Eventually they lost interest and shuffled away in search of new prey.
“I counted four, involved in getting the cars. We have no way to know how many others remained behind. There could be five or fifty-five people in there. What’s the plan?” Veronica asked.
Nancy thought for a moment and then surveyed the parking lot. “How many cars would you guess are out there?”
“Twenty, maybe thirty at the most.” Veronica answered.
“Does it make sense then that there would be thirty, maybe forty at most, in that building? Only I know some of us are already zombies, me, Fred, who else? I bet we are dealing with less than thirty people, probably closer to twenty.”
“Yeah, that makes sense where does that get us?”
Nancy leaned her back against the cool metal of the SUV and slid down until she was sitting on the asphalt. Veronica, anticipating that this was not going to be a short conversation did the same.
“Where that gets us is that we are probably out numbered. Add in the fact that they have guns and I would say that we had better not take them lightly, don’t you think? I think we need to let some of them go, the people who did this sure, they have the guns and the keys to the cars, if we can leave them an opening, they will exploit it and get out. Out of our way, leaving us with…meat.”
Veronica did not bother to answer; her face told Nancy that she was still waiting for some kind of revelation.
Somewhat irritated Nancy went on, “Okay, let’s think this through. They have two options, stay in the building or make a break for it. Apparently, they decided to go with the second option, they are getting ready to leave, if we wait too long to strike they will get away. They need food, water, family; they will try to leave soon.”
“So, we wait until they try again, mix in with the rest of the dead and hope that we don’t take a bullet in the head?” Veronica concluded with a frown.
“Yeah, doesn’t sound too good does it? Plus, how long will they wait before leaving exactly? A day? An hour? The longer we wait the hungrier we get. Let’s not forget our main goal here. The first priority is to get into the building, find Fred and make sushi out him. The stronger we are the better our chances of accomplishing that goal. Right?”
“I agree, but how do you recommend that we sneak into the building? The doors look secure and I’m sure they’d hear us if we broke one of the windows.”
“Ah, that is why I am in charge my dear V.” Nancy boasted as she revealed a card with her photo on the front and the letters MAC CO. printed across the top.
The two women finalized their plans and then returned to where Jim and the other girls were waiting. They decided to wait until things settled down a bit and enter the building using Nancy’s key card at the back loading dock entrance. Nancy told Veronica that Jim and the other girls would be expendable should they encounter resistance from the living, but Veronica knew the truth, that she too was easily replaced in Nancy’s eyes.
Nancy forced herself to wait the agreed waiting period before leading the group to the back of the building. Once there they watched for signs of life, however, the cool blue solar reflective tinting on the glass hid any movement or lifelike energy from their view.
Veronica suggested that they move towards the back entrance “zombie-like” and not as a group, so they do not raise any suspicion from anyone who might be watching from the inside. Jim was the first to make the short trip across the pavement to the rear entrance and when he arrived without incident, the other girls followed one by one leaving Veronica and finally Nancy to bring up the rear. Nancy quickly swiped her card key across the reader mounted to the wall adjacent the door. With a familiar beep, the small light on the card reader went from red to green and the magnetic lock released.
Walter “Walt” Coggins had been one of the “hiders” and had gladly volunteered to take his turn at watch in the main lobby. Walt now lounged in the security guards chair near the front entrance while the rest of the people rested in Kirkpatrick’s office area. Walt had been the facilities maintenance supervisor and considered the MAC CO. building his home away from home. He was in his late sixties and had planned to work three more years before he retired. After the death of his wife seven years ago, Walt had made the unconscious decision to adopt MAC CO. and its employees as his second family. Walt knew everyone that worked there, at one time or another he had passed them in the hallway, replaced a light above their desk, fixed a jammed copier, or had in some other way provided the kind, friendly service that he had become well known for.
The security monitor beeped starting Walt out of his thoughts. He had been staring at the ceiling with his hands clasped behind his head contemplating if a person who had been a vegetarian became a zombie, whether that had any effect on their appetite for meat. Quickly he read the new entry, “Nancy Wieden, Marketing Department, 3:17 a.m., Loading Bay Exterior Card Reader, Approved.”
Miss Wieden? Walt knew Nancy well since she usually worked late hours and he had routinely performed much of his building maintenance during that time and not disrupt the general employee population. On numerous occasions, when she had time, they would talk about their lives outside of MAC CO. Yes, he knew Nancy and he was extremely happy that she had made it to the safety of his building.
His excitement got the best of him and before Walt knew it, he had left the security guard station and was making tracks to be the first one to welcome Nancy. Walt cut through the middle of the lobby to a nondescript door to the loading docks, passing the one stairwell that had not been blocked off and making his way to the storage rooms outside the loading docks, rooms he knew and loved so well.
Every night at ten the building automatically switched to an energy saver mode so, Walt wasn’t surprised when he entered the dimly lit loading area. Only one out of every four lights was illuminated but it was enough for Walt to see a small group of people heading down the hall, away from him.
“Miss Wieden is that you?” The sound of his voice caused the entire group to come to a sudden stop. He could see a figure at the back of the group turn around and when she stepped under one of the illuminated fixtures he was able to confirm that, yes, it was Miss Wieden.
“Yes Miss Wieden, it’s me and I can’t tell you how glad I am to see that you are okay! I’ve been so worried about you, for that matter, all the other folks who never showed up today. Well, it sure is a blessing to see your face.”
“Other folks? Walt, be a dear and tell me, have you seen Fred from accounting? I really need to speak with him.”
“Fred? Why no, I can’t say that I have seen him, we have some parts of the building shut off, those...but if Fred were in one of them he would have shown up by now. Why? Surely this doesn’t have anything to do with business Miss Wieden, haven’t you seen what has been going on out there? We have bigger problems to deal with. We should get you up to Kirkpatrick’s office and the let others know you and your friends are alright.” Walt said, acknowledging that Nancy was not alone.
“Can you recall if anyone in Kirkpatrick’s office mentioned seeing Fred?”
Walt rubbed his chin between his thumb and forefinger. “No, no, I can’t say that any of them have said anything about him to me.”
Her tone now changed from businesslike to a considerably friendlier manner, “Okay then, no harm done, I just would really like to see him. Come over here Walt, I want to introduce you to my new friends.”
The light above Nancy shown down on her like a spot light hiding her face in a dark shadow cast from her brightly lit hair. Her friends, as she called them, were just dark shapes outside of the spot light and Walt could not make out any details. For some reason he hesitated at first and then he remembered that this was Nancy, his friend who he was glad to see was unharmed. As he approached Nancy and her friends, a thought entered his old brain.
“Miss Wieden, why do you need Fred so badly?”
“Well Walt, if you need to know. He has something on me and I want to get rid of him.” Nancy replied. Walt had just a fraction of a second to pull back and he was too slow. Nancy and her friends pounced on him like a pack of hungry wolves and tore the life out of him.