Katie went back into the corner office to pick up the gym bag, she put three of the table legs into it along with the least soiled of the hand towels. Whatever towels the man had for drying off from the shower were missing. 'Maybe it was laundry day.' she mused to herself as she stood in the doorway checking for zeds a few moments later.
Her goals were now clear, she was going to head downstairs and west, cross over to the building where she and Randy had parted ways with Heath and then go through there to the vehicle they had left on the other side. She remembered that Heath had put the keys on the seat and she hoped that the blinker he had left on hadn't run the battery down to the point where it wouldn't start the car. The car should be on a street that was clear of the devastation, once there she would decide where to head next.
After pausing for a moment to make sure the way was really clear she ran from the office doorway and sprinted towards the stairwell on the west side of the building. Katie didn't encounter any zombies, but did catch the over-sized shoes on an office chair that sent her sprawling. Cursing softly she kicked off the shoes, she felt sure she could keep going if her feet were cut and no longer felt that the protection they offered was worth the risk of tripping in front of the next zombie she ran into. She did toss the shoes into her bag, in case she changed her mind later.
Cracking the door to the stairwell she listened closely. Nothing. No noise other than that coming from behind her as debris settled and wind blew through the shattered windows of the building. Easing the door shut behind her she quickly made her way down to the next landing, then paused and listened again. Katie did this at every stage of her descent, cautiously creeping along so that any zombies would not get the jump on her. With steady progress she made it to the ground floor, seeing no one living or dead in the process. Now she stood staring at the metal 'emergency only' fire door exit, another door led into the building itself, but Katie wanted to leave and thought this was the way she needed to go.
Pushing the door open she was surprised when the speaker attached to it started to chirp wildly. She pulled the door back and bashed at the metal box holding the alarm system until the noise stopped. 'The damned thing has made my ears start ringing again!' Katie counted to a thousand as slowly as she could, listening for anything coming down the stairs, then she slowly opened the door again. Nothing. No zeds at all. ‘Where the fuck are they?’
Darting across the street Katie walked into the building she had passed through earlier with Health and Randy and out of the other side, where the sport utility vehicle was parked. Only it wasn't. ‘Someone stole our fucking car! Damn Chicago, I always knew it was filled with the descendants of mobsters and criminals.’
The body of the other soldier, Lewis, lay on the ground where the car had been parked. His gear was missing. This changed her plans and she retreated into the foyer of the building to plan her next step. The dealership where her group had originally taken the car from was only about a mile away. As she recalled there should be a couple shotguns there as well, the smart zombies had been using weapons to keep Heath and his fellow soldier pinned down in the rental car building when she and Randy showed up.
Tentatively swinging by there had been on her short list of stops anyway. Looking up and down the street she saw no movement at all. Katie moved out the building, she chose to stay near the center of the wide sidewalk, it seemed like the best place to avoid any zombies that might be hiding in the various store fronts or among the parked cars. However it was eerie as hell.
‘Someone is watching me.’ Katie could not get that thought out of her head, the windows, many of them shattered by the bombardment, looked out at her like the vacant eyes of a dead man's skull. ‘The perfect place for snipers or super zeds to be hanging out.’
The itch between her shoulder blades was as real as the flecks of safety glass her bare feet were careful to tread around. Resisting an urge to run, Katie held her speed down to a fast walk, turning the corner she saw the street ahead of her was clear, there was less glass to deal with and still no zombies. Giving in slightly to her urge to run full out she moved her pace up to a jog. Nothing came rushing out at her, the most exciting thing she saw was a nice looking calico cat that padded across the street in front of her without so much as a glance her way. The rental place was up ahead, and the only glass she saw on the ground was from where the zombies had blown out the window and killed Lewis as they had driven away. Ducking down Katie saw the body of the shotgun wielding zombie was still there, as was his shotgun.
Getting the body out from under the car was not as difficult as she thought it might be, the zombie had been a pretty big boy when he was killed again. Conveniently he had the strap of the shotgun around one shoulder and it came with him as she pulled. Checking the gun she saw that it looked new, she'd be surprise if the big zed hadn't been the first one to fire it and that his first time had been his last. He had on an olive drab vest with loops for the shotgun shells sewn into it. All the loops were full.
Katie familiarized herself with the shotgun and unloaded the magazine before reloading it and cocking one shell into the chamber. The magazine of the gun held five shots, giving her six before she needed to reload again. Her mind made a note of this as she eyed the vest on the zed. Sighing she rolled the corpse over onto its back and then spent a frustrating five minutes trying to get his arms through the vest. Finally she rolled him off of it and picked it up. Around the collar, especially in the front, it was coated with the dark zombie blood.
The flies in the area seemed to like zombie blood as much as they did that from the living and they were buzzing around the collar even as she looked at it. Katie almost put it on and folded it so that she could still reach the shotgun shells easily. She put it in the top of the duffel bag. Katie considered taking the man's footwear as well, but only for a moment. Cowboy boots were not her style and he had the feet of a giant. She wondered if the plumbing matched the foundation, but she was not so curious as to unzip him and see if the old wives tale was true.
Katie’s next stop was the rental building, though, truth be told it was more of a shack. The windows were all shot out of it, leaving the floor inside covered with slivers. Reluctantly Katie pulled on the over-sized tennis shoes and went in. Finding the car keys was very simple, they were in a box that looked like it must have been hanging somewhere at one time, but was now on the floor behind the walk up service counter. Spent NATO cartridges littered the floor behind the counter, left over from where Heath and Lewis had fired at the zombies. Katie ducked down and picked the box up, then sorted through it looking for a key to one of the four wheel drive vehicles left on the lot. She found three sets of keys, one for each and took them all. One was a key fob, a little rectangular box that was used instead of keys, and matching that one to the vehicle was no trouble at all. It was a high end SUV that Katie could not have afforded on her army salary, even at the higher rate of pay for 'combat duty'. It also showed only a quarter tank of gas when she got in and started it up. The other two were nearly identical and were filled to about the same level as well.
“Shit.” Looking down the street there was a gas station in sight, probably the very one this rental place used to fill up their vehicles with a hefty surcharge when customers returned them empty. But no power. Katie hadn't seen a light on anywhere yet and no power meant no gas. She went back to the high end SUV, leaving the other sets of keys on the dash of each vehicle. Following a hunch she made a fast trip back into the building for a moment, where she spotted a two and a half gallon gas can in the back room, she took it, even though it felt mostly empty, and made her way back to her new wheels. Tossing in her bag she shut the door and started the car again. Cool air blew into her face as she pondered her next move.
“Randy? Gimme a sign here buddy, if you are up there. I could still use a little help.” Katie said out loud, half as a prayer, half as a jape. “All I am asking for is a little direction...”
Her voice was drowned out as a military helicopter traveling low and fast buzzed over the dealership heading south east.
“Fuck.” Katie said, “I'll remember to ask again next time I need something. How about a nice gun and a brick of ammo? Can you work that in?”
Putting the car in gear she turned onto the street and made her way south east, following the direction that the helicopter had flown.