Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twentieth Entry: If It Were A Snake

October 21st

I am once again torn by my feelings.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet as things go around here. The tension levels seem to have settled nicely; not gone away by any means, but leveled off. There have been two more incidents of zeds in the mall, one suicide, and one accidental death (a little girl fell down a staircase in the residential area while her mother was sleeping, neighbors who came running managed to get the woman away before her reanimated daughter could bite her), but the kind of simmering dislike of the security force has not boiled over into violence yet.

I am starting to think Ash may have been right. How much longer can it be before someone on one side or the other strikes out? What will happen then? My stomach sours at the very thought of having to leave here for good. Yes, I am being melodramatic.

Plans are moving along to try and do something for the kids for Halloween. Alex has been stockpiling candy, and the plan is to do trick or treating around the shopping area with Mallville staff and store employees handing out candy.

Alex told me that there are around 500 kids in Mallville (he did not specify what was being considered a kid though). That just doesn't seem like very many to me; it's only like 20% of the total population. Of course I have no idea what the national average is, was, so maybe it's a lot, I don't know.

The park move-out went surprisingly well, and with no time to spare, as we had our first rainstorm last night. There are now five people living inside Insert Coin. Chris and Molly Trevor, and Bryan and Toni Rogers and their pre-teen son Bishop. They're all really nice, and I've gone down and spent a couple of evenings with them, Tara even joined me once.

Chris was a contractor, and Molly a web designer before the end. They came here after the end of the first month when it became clear that the government had basically abandoned us, and they had run out of supplies in their house. They were one of the first people to have to set up camp in the center park.

The Rogers have a different story. They were in town on a vacation/job interview; Toni was a weather girl in Lovelock, Washington who was interviewing with a local station to be an anchor. The good news is she got the job, the bad news is that before the celebratory vacation was over, all hell broke loose and they could not get back home. They stayed in their hotel for a few weeks before the remaining staff, who were also hiding out there,asked them to leave. Bryan said they were very nice about it except for the guns they were holding.

Bishop is an interesting kid, a geek in the making. I hope he gets the chance to bloom into full geekhood. He was the only one of the five that set his tent up inside the store, and I'm not so old that I do not understand the desire for privacy at that age; hell, I still desire privacy sometimes. He asked me if I could bring out some of the video games for him to play.

“If I brought them out here, you'd either have a bunch of people wanting to play, or someone would try and take them from the store,” I explained.

“Oh,” he said, looking sad.

“Do you like to read?”

“Yeah, but I only had a couple of books with me at the hotel, and the people at the bookstore won't let me borrow any.”

“How does this sound. I'll loan you some of my books, and I'll get you a DSi and some games out of the back. The only catch is that you need to keep them out of sight. I don't want you getting hurt if someone tries to take it from you.”

His face lit up like I offered him the keys to the Batmobile, “Oh, I promise. I'll only play in my tent with the sound off and a blanket over my head to block the light.” Spoken like a kid experienced in after-bedtime gaming.

I told Bryan and Toni of my plan to make sure it was okay. They were very grateful, Toni even cried a little, which got the attention of Chris and Molly, so I let them in on it as well; it's not like Bishop was going to be able to hide it from them anyway. Bryan and Molly asked if I could maybe loan them some books to read too.

I ended up in my storage space down in the parking level going through the boxes of books I have accumulated over the years. I brought up a small shopping bag of maybe a dozen books. I tried to be varied. I ended up deciding on a couple of “Stainless Steel Rat” books, some Heinlein, a couple of “Shadowrun” Novels, and some collections of short fiction. I almost tossed in a collection of zombie stories without thinking. I used to love zombie stories.

I'm not sure who was more interested in getting into the bag when I put in on the sales counter, the kid or the adults. Molly and Toni both kissed me on the cheek, which prompted a dirty look from Chris that lasted just long enough for me to worry before it turned into a smile and a chuckle. I consider it my good deed for the week.

Something big happened last night, and for the first time in months, it did not involve guns or the undead. I realized that for the first time in years, I love someone other than Sharon, and for the first time ever someone loves me back.

I've never really been in a relationship before. I've dated girls, and I've even gotten a few into bed, but never a real relationship, at least nothing I would call a relationship. Certainly nothing where the term 'I love you' was used.

It was just another night at Tara's. We were debating bringing a few decks of cards down to Insert Coin and trying to strike up a card game with them when things got serious.

Tara had made pasta with Alfredo sauce for dinner, and even though it was really good, and I could easily have eaten more, I refused her offer of seconds. I know she's getting extra supplies through Alex, but I still don't want to put a strain on them.

After we finished doing the dishes, Tara kind of stood in the way, blocking me in the kitchen, “Can we talk?” she asked.

Shit, this is where she dumps me She's grown tired of me, and would rather go back to being alone all the time than deal with me. Or so I thought.

“Yeah, sure,” I actually said, trying to sound nonchalant.

“We've been spending a lot of time together, right?”

“Yeah, it's been fun, but if you want to spend less time together, that's fine,” I blurted out.

She ignored that part, ”And we agreed to just be friends, right?”

“Right, 'cause you're into Alex, and I'm after Sh-”

“I know who we each like,” Tara cut me off, “I've been doing some thinking., and I was kind of wondering if you maybe have any feelings for me other than just friendship?”

“I'm not sure I know what you mean,” I said, honestly unwilling to believe what it sounded like she was asking.

“I know that you are in love with Sharon, and I'm still in love with Alex, but it doesn't look like either of us has any chance there. I've really enjoyed spending time together, and I really like you as a person, and,” she paused for a second before taking a deep breath and continuing, “and IthinkIloveyou!” she blurted out like one big long word.

The words hung I the air between us; I had to take time to process this. Did someone really just tell me that they love me? Did a beautiful geeky woman just tell me that she loves me? Has she been hinting at this, and I've just been too unwilling to accept that someone could feel that way about me.

Let me be honest here, I've gone out on dates, and I've gone to bed with girls, but I've never had what I would term a “girlfriend”. I usually end up straight in the friend-zone, even if it is friends with benefits it still never becomes anything serious.

A minute probably passed (although it seemed like an hour to me) between Tara confessing to me, and my responding. Her eyes had completely lost their normal confidence, the look that she gives everyone when it is not just her and I alone, and looked on the verge of panic, and she was biting her lower lip. I think she was taking my silence for rejection. I had to come up with an answer; do I love her?

The answer came to me like a light bulb going on over me head. Yes, I do feel love for her too.

“I,” I took a breath, “I love you too.”

“Really? You're not just saying that?” there was an almost pleading look in her eyes

“Yeah, really.”

She threw her arms around me, and held me tight. She kissed me hard, and I kissed her back.

“What about the others. Do you want to keep this a secret?” I asked her when the kiss ended.

“Alex and Sharon both think we're sleeping together at the very least anyway, so why bother? It's not like Alex is interested in me anyway, but if you want to keep it secret, I understand,” she sounded slightly dejected as she said this, but I'm not sure if it was the idea of Alex's lack of interest, or the idea that I wouldn't want people to know that bothered her.

She was right though. Ever since catching us hugging in the hallway a couple of weeks ago, Sharon has been persistent that there was something more than just food and geekery going on between Tara and myself. Maybe she saw something that Tara and I were not, or at least something that I was not seeing.

Sharon would make little comments a lot, especially if Tara's name actually came up in the course of conversation. Most of her comments were actually kind of mean, like she's a little bit jealous that someone else could be interested in me. Her big thing, of course, was the age difference, Tara being a full ten years older than me and all.

When Sharon would bring this up I would generally point out to her that there was nothing going on between me and Tara, and that the age difference between her and Alex was greater to the point that he could be her father if he had her at a young age. This has generally resulted in Sharon calling me an asshole, and then not talking to me for awhile. I was very thankful when she stopped and went back to just being snarky.

“ I have no reason to try and keep it a secret,” I replied,” but what if things change between Alex and Sharon?”

“If they become available again, then we will have to re-evaluate our situation.”

“Who would you choose between me and him if we were both willing?”

“Don't make me choose, that's not fair,” Tara kissed me tenderly on the lips, “I'm not asking you any questions like that.”

Fair enough. I couldn't answer that questiont anymore easily. Right now I'm not sure I could even give an answer. I don't think I am thinking clearly; I've never been in this type of a situation.

“Do you still want to go play cards downstairs?” I asked.

“No, I think I'd rather stay in with you,” Tara said with a smile.

I ended up spending the night with Tara. We did not go all he way, but we did get to know each other better. I'm not going to go into any details about that though. A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell...and neither do I.

Of course the real fun was this morning when I came home. Sharon was already up, and was laying on the couch, reading a volume of “Battle Royale” for the umpteenth time. She didn't lower the book, so Kazuo Kiriyama's face sneered at me as she spoke, “Did you have a good night?”

“I was at Tara's.”

“I know where you were.”

“Is that a problem?”

Sharon put the manga down on the coffee table roughly, “What you choose to do with your life is none of my concern.”

“Why do you hate me being with Tara so much, it's not like you have any interest in me. It's not like you have ever had any interest in me.”

“What did you want me to do, pounce on you naked? I've waited for years for you to make a move, yet you have no problem telling Darth Cougar how you feel about her,” Sharon suddenly exploded at me.

“Okay, fine, maybe I should have spoken up sooner. It doesn't matter though, because you're with Count Sigler now,” I snarked, trying with great effort to keep a level voice.

“That's right! Alex isn't afraid to tell me how he feels.”

Now it was my turn for a small explosion, “Alex isn't afraid to tell anybody how he feels,” I yelled, “about anything!”

“No, he isn't, and you know what? Neither am I! I love you, I have always loved you, but you've never bothered to notice; you've flirted and teased and been jealous when I've dated anyone else, but you have never just told me that you have feelings for me, and now it's too late. That doesn't change that I love you though, and I care about you, and I don't want to see you get hurt by her. Have you see the way she looks at Alex?”

“I know exactly how she feels about Alex. I also know how she feels about me.”

“Well then you better tell her to keep her claws in you, and away from him. While you're at it, maybe you should keep some distance from me for awhile too!” Sharon got to her feet.

“I live here!”

“Well maybe you should go live with your darling Tara,” she stormed off into the bedroom, and slammed the door behind her.

“That's my bedroom!” I yelled at the closed door.

“Asshole!” her voice replied from behind the door.

I stood there for a few seconds, breathing hard, trying to slow my breathing, and regretting the whole scene. I still regret it. Sharon and I have had our fights before, but never like that.

“I love you too,” I said quietly to the closed door.

Apparently I did not say it quietly enough, because Sharon must have heard it. “Fuck you!” she bellowed from behind the door.

So that is where things stand. Tara loves me, and I love her too. Sharon finally admits that she loves me, and then curses me out for my never telling her. Love was there in front of me all along, but to be honest, and maybe I'm just still mad from the argument, I don't care all that much.

Sharon had every opportunity to approach me is she had feelings for me, so she is just as guilty as I am for us never pursuing a relationship. Tara did not sit around waiting for me to suggest taking our friendship to another level, she asked me. Maybe it's just a maturity thing, who knows?

I think I may finally be happy with Tara, and while that may not last forever I don't know how much of a forever is even before me. I'm going to enjoy what I have, and take everything else one day at a time right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ninteenth Entry: A Dream is a Wish?

October 7th

I had a really bad fucking dream.

It's three in the morning, and I cannot go back to sleep. I came down here to Insert Coin to be alone. I need to think. I need to get this out of my head.

Last night was nothing special. After finishing up with clean-up duty, I went over to Tara's to give Sharon and Alex some alone time (he still won't take her back to her place for some reason, I'm guessing he's a slob). We watched some Cowboy Bebop and had popcorn, it was nice.

After that I went back home, and thankfully Alex was gone, and Sharon was already asleep. I brushed my teeth in the kitchen in an attempt at being quieter, grabbed my blankets and pillows from where they had been wadded up on one of the kitchen table chairs, and went to bed on the couch.

I woke up, or at least thought I did, and found Tara standing over me wearing a short black nightgown. “Hey sleepyhead,” she said to me, as she bent over and kissed me gently.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as I sat up.

“ I live here, remember? Why don't you come to bed? You fell asleep on the couch.”

“Because Sharon's in there,” I replied, completely confused.

“Why would Sharon be in our bed?” asked Tara, looking confused.

“She lives here. Hashmir gave her apartment away when she was missing. He gave it to Parasite because she was living in her store, remember?”

“Have you been drinking?”

“I wish,” I replied.

“What's wrong with you? Did you have a bad dream or something?”

“Life is one big bad dream this year.”

“I love you too,” she replied, sounding a little hurt, “Are you okay?”

“ I guess. Why do you live here again?”

“Because we decided to both live in your apartment while we saved up for a house,” Tara was starting to look worried.

I held my hand up, but there was no wedding ring on it.

“So we live together, Sharon has her apartment back, what about the zeds?”


“The zombies? The undead plaguing the Earth?”

“Have you been playing 'Abandoned 2 Die' again? What is it with you and zombies?”

There was a knock at the door then. Tara just stood there looking at me like she did not hear it, so I got off the couch and went to the door to answer it. Opening the door revealed Alex Sigler standing there in a University of Michigan sweatshirt with an M-16 clutched in his right hand.

“Come on! It's happening. We're surrounded. It's fight or die time!” Alex yelled at me.

“What? Surrounded?”

“The zombies, a whole horde of them. They're about to breach the fucking building! Let's go!”

I turned to look at Tara who had come up behind me. She was now wearing a black sweater and blue jeans, and holding an M-16 in each hand. She offered me the one in her left hand, holding it out by the hand guard.

“But you told me-” I started.

“We've known this was coming. We'll survive it, we've survived everything else,” Tara reassured me.

I took the rifle from her, and found that I was suddenly wearing jeans and a gray short sleeved shirt. Tara ushered me into the hallway where Sharon was standing dressed in a pink t-shirt that exposed a couple of inches of her stomach, and blue jeans; she too was armed with an M-16.

Everything shifted, and I found myself down in the shopping level. We were crouched down behind a makeshift barrier made up of benches, large potted plants, and rolling kiosks. Directly around me was Alex, Sharon, Tara, Maria, Gerry, Mitchell, and Milton along with other people I recognized, but did not know. We were all crouched down, waiting for the onslaught to come through the doors. For some reason the gate had been rolled up, and only the glass doors stood between us and the seemingly endless number of zombies outside. All of the outside lights looked like they were on, and All I could see out there were zeds.

“Why are the gates up?” I asked.

“Someone's helping them. Someone wants this to happen. Some fucker is working against us. If we have to fall back, we can lower the gate at the end of this hallway though,” explained Alex.

'Why don't we just do that now?”I asked.

Before anyone could answer me explosions made the ground shake. The glass doors at the end of the hallway exploded inwards in a flash of fire and smoke; glass showered down over all of us. The smell of the smoke was quickly followed by the smell of the undead as they rushed in.

“Fire!” screamed Alex.

Our guns bellowed again and again as we fired at the oncoming zombies, and they dropped in waves, but there were rows and rows behind them to take their place, many stumbling over their dead again compatriots as they came towards us. Finally the first one reached the other side of the barricade.

“Fall back!” bellowed Alex, and the call was repeated again and again by others to make sure it was heard.

We kept firing as we backed towards the end of the hallway. Funny thing, our guns never seemed to need reloading during all this. Once we were past the line in the ceiling that conceals the bottom of the rolled up gate, it thundered down, crashing into the floor. A couple of seconds after it was in place, the first zed crashed into it, rattling it against its tracks.

Gunfire echoed through the shopping level.

“What caused this?” I yelled over the din.

“Kaur did this. He had to be the one that had the computer roll the gates up, and he's certainly the motherfucker who called back his guards. Do you see any security officers here with us?” bellowed Alex, pulling me away from the group assembled near the gate. No one was shooting through the holes in he gate, instead waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.

“But he'll die too!”

“He's insane. He's evil! He's somewhere secure, don't you fucking doubt that for a sec-” Alex suddenly fell forward onto me.

I pushed Alex back off of me, and saw that the front of his sweatshirt was stained with a spreading circle of blood, all but obscuring the university logo. Looking over his shoulder I saw Alexandre Rontreal standing in his white and black uniform, his smoking handgun still pointed in our direction.

“No one stands against Hashmir Kaur, not the council, and not you!” Rontreal yelled, and then ran away.

Alex looked me in the eyes, ”Fuck,” he gasped weakly, and his knees gave out.

“Alex!” chorused Tara and Sharon both, and they rushed forward to try and catch him, both going down to their knees with him as he fell to the floor.

“Why did you do that?” asked Sharon, looking up at me with tears in her eyes.

“I didn't do it. It was Rontreal; he shot him in the back,” I explained.

“I know you were jealous, but you didn't have to kill him!” Sharon shrieked, getting to her feet and throwing herself on me, “You took the person I loved because I didn't love you.”

“You should have loved me!” I bellowed in response.

“I could never love you; you're pathetic!”she looked me in the eyes, but her eyes were no longer hers, they had gone all milky, “So now I'm going to take someone you love!”

Sharon pulled away from me, her skin had gone all pale and gray. She turned to where Tara was still kneeling over Alex's body. Tara looked up in terror as Sharon dropped onto her.

The two of them fell over into the unbelievably large pool of blood. Tara screamed my name over and over, begging for me to help her, but I couldn't move. It was like I had been turned to stone.

Sharon's teeth sunk into Tara's neck, and her screams turned into strangled gurgles as her throat filled with blood. The whole time this was going on Maria, Gerry, Milton, and Mitchell stood over by the gate looking mildly interested, I looked at them hoping one of them would help.

“I knew you didn't have the guts when it came down to it,” spat Maria disgustedly.

“ Damn! Catfight!” hooted Milton, the mall's lights flashing off his gold teeth.

“Are you really just going to stand there?” asked Gerry.

“I warned you,” said Mitchell.

I looked down at Sharon and Tara again just in time to see Sharon rip apart what was left of Tara's neck, the spine snapped with a sickening crack. She held up Tara's head for me to see. Tara's eyes still begged for help.

Sharon tossed aside Tara's head and it landed with a loud thud, a sound I should not have been able to hear over the background noise of gunfire, but I heard it clearly all the same. She got to her feet, and started to slowly stagger towards me, her face a blood-soaked sneering mask of rage and fury.

“You'd better put her down,” said Gerry.

“He hasn't got the balls,' replied Maria.

“You are so fucked,” chuckled Mitchell.

“Man, smack that bitch up!” called Milton.

I found I could move again. I brought my right arm up, but the M-16 was gone, having been replaced by an golden colored aluminum baseball bat with a bend about halfway down its length, like someone had been trying to beat up the pole of a streetlight with it.

“It's you or her, man,” offered Gerry.

Sharon's outstretched arm were almost close enough to grab me when a wave of revulsion went through me. I swung the bat hard. Her left arm crunched as the bones snapped. She staggered but did not fall.

“See? You are pathetic!” spat zombie Sharon.

“Don't make me do this!” I yelled back at her.

“Then give up and die!” she yelled back, her voice going all gravelly.

I swung the bat again, this time at her head. It cracked like an egg, and black ooze started to run out and over her face.

“Don't you love me anymore?” asked the Sharon thing in front of me.


“Then stop fighting. I want you inside me.” it purred in a rotted disgusting way.

“No!” I howled, and swung the bat.

The Sharon thing went down this time, but I did not stop. I kept swinging the bat down onto her again and again until her head was a smear on the shiny floor. Only her blood was not the black ooze that had come out of her head wound, and her skin was no longer gray, it was her normal pale pink, and the blood was bright red as it mingled with Tara's and Alex's blood.

She hadn't been a zombie after all.

“Damn, son, that's cold!” yelled Milton.

“Maybe you do have a spine after all,” commented Maria, admiration in her voice.

“Like I said, you are fucked, and now you're all alone. You have nothing!” Mitchel spat, and started laughing.

Then they all started laughing as I looked from them to the bodies on the floor, and back. I started to scream the word “no” over and over as the gate behind them rolled up all on its own, and zombies flooded in.

I opened my eyes to pitch blackness. I could feel them around me, the undead were all around me. I groped for the lamp on the table next to the couch, and after almost sending it tumbling to the floor, I managed to turn it on.

I was alone, no zeds, no Tara. I was drenched in sweat, and I was crying. I wondered if I had screamed, but when Sharon did not come out of the bedroom, I decided I must not have.

Deciding I needed to be alone, I came down here to think, and write it all down before it had time to fade. Putting it all down on paper has given me time to think about it.

Does it mean anything? Is it just my jealousy? Is my mind trying to tell me something? Is it just that I've been under more stress these last few months than I realize? Am I becoming emo?

I don't think I'm going to get any more sleep tonight, I think I'll play some Smash Bros. to try and clear my mind. I wish I had some booze.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eighteenth Entry: A Meeting of the Minds

October 5th

Kaur called a meeting of all of the store managers for the shopping levels today. Since Bud's letter states that both I and Sharon are in charge, we both were expected to attend. Due to the large number of people attending, the meeting was held in one of the movie theaters.

Chairs had been set up on the stage in front of the big screen. Kaur was of course sitting in the middle, and off to the sides of him I noticed Alex, Benny, and Mike were all there amongst the heads of various departments around the community. I also noticed that no one from the council was there, nor were there even any empty chairs for them.

Kaur approached the microphone that had been set up,” Hello,” a squeal a feedback ripped through the room. Kaur started again,” Hello everyone, and thank you all for attending. I am going to try and keep this all as short as possible,”

He paused for a moment, either for dramatic effect, or for applause which did not come, ”The last six months have been hard on all of us. We have all lost our way of life, and many of us have lost so much more than that. In the face of this we have remained strong, and made Mallville a strong bastion against the forces of the undead.”

You'd swear we were in a living ocean of the undead the way he was talking. If things were the way he's implying Mallville would have fallen a long time ago, and I would not be writing this right now.

Kaur continued, “While our security and strength have increased in these past months, other problems have arisen. We have had to deal with the decreasing amount of supplies in the area, resulting in tighter food rations, and longer and more dangerous trips for the scavengers. We have had to be on the lookout for people seeking to harm themselves, and thereby harm all of us, by commiting suicide and coming back as the undead.”

As he spoke of suicides, Kaur looked right at me and Sharon. I felt her grab my hand and squeeze it.

“Now we face a challenge that will take all of us assembled here today to overcome. It may be eighty degrees outside right now, but it is still autumn, and winter is approaching. The people currently residing in the central park will not be able to stay there much longer.”

“Here it comes. I've been waiting for this,” commented a guy in the row behind us quietly.

Sharon and I exchanged glances which said we both had an idea of what was coming next.

Kaur continued, ”Over the next couple of weeks, we will be moving those people inside the shopping area. This will also free up the park to be used as a garden come spring time. We will need to become self sufficient if we are to survive.

“In order to accommodate the refugees in the park area, the council is asking that you all open up your storefronts to make room for these people,” finished Kaur

“Wait a second!” hollered Ben Kasai, the manager of Big Box Books,” I thought the council was allowing us to maintain the integrity of our stores until things returned to normal?”

“The council has come to realize that things may not be returning to normal anytime soon. In the meantime, we have offered these people sanctuary, contrary to my recommendations, and we are now responsible for them. As a result of that bad decision, the council must now take steps to see that these people are kept safe.”

“What if we refuse?” asked Teri Dean, the assistant manager of Taco Hut, one of the few restaurants not in the food court.

“The council knows that you are all generous people who want what is best for Mallville since it is in all of our best interests that Mallville stay strong. If anyone objects to this plan greatly, then the council is prepared to deal with those situations as they feel necessary.”

“Where the fuck is the council anyway? Why the hell are we being told this by the head security guard?” asked Stan Garret, manager of Supersize Male.

Kaur visibly bristled at being referred to as a security guard, partly because Mallville's security force is more like the local police than just security guards, but mostly, I suspect, because he just hates being called a security guard.

“The council has spent too long thinking of things in the short term; as a result of this they are now having to spend all of their time coming up with more long term solutions. They have more important things to do than to be holding meetings like this and answering questions that I am perfectly capable of answering.”

That did it; that took a group of retail workers (not generally the most calm nor the clearest thinkers to begin with) from a simmering group of malcontents to a rolling boil of outright anger. Sharon and I stayed in our seats, and kept our heads down as phrases like “treat us like garbage”, “lie”, and “fuck you” were hurled at the stage. Thankfully the chairs were bolted to the floor, or the people on stage would have been hit by worse than obscenities.

“You will take your seats and be quiet!”yelled Kaur into the mic, resulting in another burst of feedback.

From the front row, I saw Teresita Gomez stand up, her back to the stage. She was yelling something at the audience that was completely lost in the din, but I assume that it was in support of Hashmir. I didn't hear any of what she said, but I did hear some of the replies; these featured word like “bitch”, “slut”, and the infamous c-word.

At that point Hashmir spoke into the radio microphone attached to his shoulder, and a dozen members of the security force carrying M-16s entered the theater. Four joined Hashmir on the stage, while the remaining 8 stood in the aisles at either side of the theater looking menacing. The storm of rage continued in the theater as everyone kept directing their anger at the stage.

What finally calmed everyone down was when the rifles were, in unison, aimed at the audience. Sharon clutched me hard as we both dropped to the floor, and waited for the thunder to start.

Thankfully silence fell over the theater instead of a hail of bullets.

“As I said, you will all take your seats and be quiet. It was decided when all of this began that we would abide by the council's decisions, even if we do not always like them, and we are not going to suddenly change that now! Sit down!”

Everyone retook their seats, grumbling as they did. I noticed as we got off the floor that we were not the only ones who had ducked instead of taking our feet. I also noticed that pretty much everyone on stage looked worried, so I'm guessing the display of force was not part o the meeting outline.

“The council realizes that many of you still have product in you stores, and that you are responsible for this product should things ever go back to normal. This this end the council is allowing you to maintain the integrity of your stockrooms. For those of you with stockrooms that are not designed to be secured, maintenance will be helping you to take care of that. Please contact Rosa Trinity in the next few days so they may set up an appointment for your store.

“For those of you with stockrooms too small to accommodate all of your merchandise, contact Alex Sigler at facilities, as they will be handling alternate storage situations. This concludes this meeting. Any further questions may be submitted to my office by e-mail, and I will be forwarding them on to the council. Good day to you all.”

Kaur climbed down from the stage in front of the screen, and walked up the theater's central aisle with the four guards from the stage behind him in pairs looking every bit like Darth Vader marching onto the Tantive IV.

After the meeting cleared out, Sharon and I went over to Insert Coin to start working on clearing out the storefront.

“Do you really think we can fit all of this in back?” Sharon asked, pulling stacks of games out of the glass case behind the counter.

“Probably not the fixtures, but there's not really much in the way of merch to take up a lot of space. The systems maybe....” I trailed off as I stacked blister packed action figures onto a rolling cart.

“Knock knock!” came Alex's voice from outside the store gate. I turned to see Alex and Tara standing there.

“It's open.” I told them.

Alex pulled up the gate enough for Tara to duck under it, and then followed her.

“Hey, hon,” said Sharon, coming out from behind the counter to give Alex a hug.

“I would have thought you two would be busy trying to find places to stash everyone's crap,” I commented at them.

“I've delegated that to Tara,” explained Alex, ending his hug with Sharon.

“I'm off today,” Tara shrugged.

I kind of wanted to go give Tara a hug, but after being caught out in the hallway last week, neither of us wants to promote the wrong idea to our respective love interests.

“So come on then, I know you two have questions,” invited Alex.

“What's for dinner?” asked Sharon.

“Whatever you're cooking. Any questions about the meeting?”

“Do you support this?” I asked.

“Actually, yes. We cannot have those people out there during the winter, or we will end up with more zeds in our midst. There's no reason to leave all of this space gathering dust. It's the same as re-assigning all the vacant apartments.”

“And the ones that were not vacant,” commented Sharon bitterly.

“However, it seems like a total one-eighty for the council to decide this. I've said it before, Kaur is right about some things, the biggest being that things are never going to be quite the way they were again, and until the government re-establishes some sort of order things are going to be nothing like normal.”

“What about the stores that are already being lived in?” I asked.

“I don't know. They could keep living in their stockrooms, I guess. Ultimately that is going to be up to the council, not me. “

“You sound like a regular Kaur supporter now,” teased Sharon.

“I've been telling him that all afternoon,” added Tara,

“Fuck you both,” Alex flipped them each the middle finger as he spoke.

“Do you also agree with threatening all of us with guns at the meeting?” I asked.

“Fuck no! I knew the reaction to the council's decision was going to be bad, but I did not know Hashmir was going to handle it like that. It's that kind of shit that makes me wonder about him. I've lodged a complaint about it with the council, not that he will ever let anything like that get through to them.”

“ Bet you African Swallow doesn't have to open its doors to survivors. They could fit a dozen people in there probably,” commented Sharon.

“I'm sure Kaur will have a good explanation for that,” I said.

“I'm sure Kaur will feel he does not need to make any comment on it. If he was worried about propriety in the first place, he wouldn't be fucking her when everyone knows about it,”

“ You mean like you and Sharon?” I asked, getting an amused look from Tara.

“I'm not worried about propriety either, lucky for you,” Alex said to me, “ I heard about the Funyuns.”

That pretty much finished our conversation, or at least the interesting parts of it. The rest of the afternoon was spent stacking games and toys up in the stockroom. Alex and Tara stayed and helped for awhile.

We actually got all of the merchandise into the back room, and Tara is going to make sure maintenance sends around someone tomorrow to install better locks on the stockroom door. The hardest things to move were the demo kiosks; it took Alex, me, and Sharon to muscle them into the back.

Tomorrow I'm going to disconnect the registers, and move them in back too. The only things that will be left in the front of the store then that is not nailed down will be signage and the shelves, and those will probably just get shoved into a corder.

Sharon and Alex went back to my apartment, and I'm going to go hang out with Tara later. Right now I am sitting here alone in the office. I've cleaned it up a bit, bagging up all of the trash from when Bud was living here, and leaving it out back for sanitation to dispose of. I'm not sure what they do with it actually, but I think there is an incinerator down in the parking levels.

I boxed up what little Bud had of his here. Pictures, his Pokemon cards his letter. He had a couple of changes of clothes he got from Supersize Male, one outfit, a brown t-shirt and a pair of jeans had been hung up in the bathroom to dry after being washed in the sink. I don't know why he did not just use the laundromat. They were stiff that way things are when they have slowly air dried with no fabric softener.

I left the mattress that he had been sleeping on, I just stripped the sheets. I might consider coming down here to sleep to get some quiet sometime. At least here I can have a door between me and everyone else. I need to go launder the sheets though.

I cannot stop thinking about what happened in the movie theater today. It's not the first time this year I've had a gun pointed at me, so why does it bother me so much? Why does Kaur's security force pointing guns at me scare me more than those bikers did?

Maybe I'm starting to have trouble telling the “good guys” from the “bad guys”? Maybe there are no good guys.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Seventeenth Entry: A Truckload of Trouble

October 1st

We had a bit of excitement during clean-up today, someone sent us some helpers that we didn’t want.

I think I’ve mentioned before that the standard clean-up uniform is blue coveralls, work gloves, and one of those bright orange vests like highway workers or hunters wear. We wear those so if any shamblers happen to wander into the vicinity while we are out there, the roof guards can tell us apart. We also all carry pistols just in case. This has been a working arrangement up until today.

There has been a rise in zed activity around Mallville recently, and after today I am thinking it is not a coincidence. It was unseasonably warm, and we were out there in the parking lot that surrounds the shopping community/fortress like a giant moat of asphalt like normal, picking up dead zeds, and tossing them in the back of the maintenance pickups so we can take them around back and burn them.

There were a dozen of us; myself, Maria, Gerry, and Sharon were all there along with some of the other clean-up regulars. Milton Saxon was again showing off the gold “Rolax” that he looted off a corpse a couple of weeks ago, and Gerry was trying to convince him that there is not normally an “A” in Rolex again (this has become a routine since Milton found the damned thing) when our security escort noticed movement up the street in the mouth of an alley..

“What the fuck?” Security officer Claudia Lapari cursed, squinting to try and get a better look. Claudia was a real security officer, not one of Hashmir’s new refugee militia. She was a short stocky woman with skin a little darker than Maria’s. she’s made it clear before that she was no supporter of Kaur’s expanding the security force, which is probably why she got stuck out guarding us.

Claudia’s comment derailed Milton and Gerry’s discussion, and we all turned to look at the subject of her interest. It was a truck, a medium sized U-Move truck to be a little more precise, and it was slowly rolling towards us.

Claudia pulled her radio from her belt, “Control. We have a truck approaching us out here. Are there any scavenger runs going?”

“Negative. I’ll alert the roof, and see if they have a visual,” replied the radio.

Suddenly the engine of the U-Move roared, and it accelerated at us,” Look out!” yelled Maria.

All of us scattered except for Claudia, who unslung her M-16, and with her back to the truck bed full of rotting corpses, aimed at the approaching truck. When it was only about twenty yards away, she realized it wasn’t going to stop, or turn, and she opened fire.

Her aim was good, the bullets pierced the driver’s side of the windshield. The windshield became an opaque spiderweb of cracks and holes as the bullets tore through it, but it did not slow. In fact it seemed to correct its steering so that it aimed right at Claudia.

“Get out of the way!” yelled Gerry, but Claudia never moved; she stood her ground shooting at the truck, now firing into the engine instead of the windshield.

The U-Move slammed into the back half of the maintenance pickup with Claudia still standing between them. The sound of breaking glass and crunching metal overpowered the sound of Claudia's body being torn apart about halfway up here back, where the edge of the pickup's bed came to.

The pickup spun clockwise away from the impact, and the U-Move was sent up onto its driver's side wheels, before crashing down onto its side, and skidding a few yards. Claudia's torso spun through the air, the M-16 slipping free of her hands, and came to the ground with a foul splat a couple of yards past the U-Move, the rifle clattering down next to it.

Maria went into kill mode, pulling her sidearm, and running around the front of the U-Move. She kicked in the what remained of the windshield, prepared to finish off whoever was driving, and then she just stopped, her pistol still aiming at the driver's seat.

Sharon, Gerry, Milton, and myself followed her, leaving the other six staring at the mess behind the truck, “Are they dead?” asked Gerry.

“There's no one here,” answered Maria with a mix of rage and confusion.

We joined her at the front of the truck, and saw that in the driver's seat was a mass of wires, motors, and batteries. A metal arm connected the steering wheel to one of the motors.

“That's a radio control setup!” commented Adam Raven, who had come up behind us. I only know Adam from the clean-up crew; he's probably in his late thirties, maybe early forties, and he has unkempt reddish-blond hair.

“How do you know?” asked Sharon.

“In my past life, I used to love playing with RC planes, and you see that little black box taped to the back of the seat? The thing with all of the wires coming out of it?” Adam asked.

“Yeah,” replied Milton.

“That's a receiver. Besides, how else could someone have done this? Mind Control?”

“Why would someone want to send a giant radio controlled truck at us? That seems like a lot of work to just kill one or two people?” asked Maria.

“Maybe they didn't plan on it being disabled so easily?” asked Sharon.

“Wouldn't that mean that whoever was controlling it was close enough to see us?” asked Gerry.

“They'd have to be close enough to get a clear signal to the receiver, and yes, to steer it effectively, they would need to have a clear view of us,” explained Adam.

We all started looking around, as if we expected to see the person who murdered Claudia standing nearby holding a controller. Of course we saw no one. Whoever it was was probably inside a building where they could see us through a window, but we could not see them unless we knew where to look, and we didn't.

“Hey, I think there are people in here!” I heard Darius Tariq yell from behind the truck, and it was true, we could here something moving around in the back of the truck.

Before we could make any move to stop him, or even join the rest of them at the back of the truck, we heard the door start to slide open.

“Shit!” yelled Darius.

We got to the back of the truck in time to see five or six arms clutching Darius, and pulling him into the back of the truck. Darius was a big guy, but he was caught by surprise, and never had a chance to fight back before they had him. He screamed as the undead started devouring him.

After Darius disappeared into the darkness of the truck, pale undead hands groped out, grabbing at the sliding door. Even sideways, the door slid easily as the zombies pulled at it, rolling “up” into the ceiling of the back of the truck.

The light flooded into the back of the truck, revealing 20 zeds, all of which were wearing orange vests, just like us. I may never know how someone managed to dress the undead, but I can guess why.

“Oh shit! They dressed like us!” observed Milton.

Maria still had her gun in hand, and started firing into the back of the truck as the zombies started to surge at us. Four of the zeds dropped from head wounds by the time she was out of bullets; with the three that were busying themselves with Darius' now silent body that left us thirteen active zeds (no, I did not stop to count them then, I counted after)

“Shoot them or run!” ordered Maria, backing away from the truck now that her weapon was useless.

The zombies flooded out, and one of them latched on to a blond girl whose name I do not know. None of us knew her name, she was quiet and never really talked to us. Now she never will.

Biff Brown, a doofy guy with a blond buzz cut reacted instantly, he pulled his gun and fired at the zombie. His aim was nowhere near as good as his reflexes, as his shot missed the zombie completely and instead tore through the blond girl's throat. She tried to scream, but that just made blood spray out of her neck.

During all of this the roof guards never fired a shot. The official explanation is that they could not tell us from the zeds since we were all wearing orange vests, but I think I could have been able to tell the difference down my scope at that distance. Whether I could have gotten a clear shot or not is another question.

“Step back from them, and shoot!” yelled Maria, again trying to get some control on the situation. It worked somewhat. Gerry, Sharon, and I backed a way a few steps, and started taking aimed shots at the zeds.

Eventually Milton, Biff, and a couple of other followed our lead, and what started out as a chaotic mess ended without anymore casualties.

By the time security finally showed up, we had killed all the zombies, and put bullets in the heads of Darius and the blond girl before they could reanimate. We had forgotten about Claudia, and it was a member of the security force that put down her already reanimated remains. She had been trying to crawl towards us with her shattered arms, leaving a trail is glistening blood and who knows what else on the pavement like the world's most disturbing snail.

Earlier tonight, a bunch of us met in my apartment. Myself, Sharon, Alex, Gerry, and Maria all crammed in my tiny place. Alex and Sharon took the couch (of course) while Gerry and Maria sat at my kitchen table, and I leaned on the edge of the wall separating my kitchen from my living room. I don't know why we did not meet at Alex's place. His has to be at least as big as Tara's.

“So you think Kaur's behind this?” asked Sharon.

“I don't know if he is directly, but there were a number of people out there that do not like him, and it was someone who knows that we have you guys where the vests so the roof guards and security can identify you from a distance,” answered Alex.

“I still don't accept that bullshit about not being able to tell us apart,” cursed Maria.

“I thought they would take the chance to shoot us,” offered Gerry.

“It wouldn't be hard to tell us apart. The people holding guns are the humans, the people eating other people are the zombies. Not that difficult,” I said,

“ I talked to Mike, and he says that his people are saying they did not want to risk shooting any of you. Give Biff's quick-draw act, I cannot fault them for that too much,” replied Alex.

“So you don't think that Kaur, or someone under him, told them to hold their fire?”asked Maria

“I think that there are enough people on the roof who are not Kaur supporters to make it unlikely. I don't think some of those people would have even followed such and order, let alone keep quiet about it.”

“Have you had any luck in getting a meeting with the council?” asked Gerry.

“No, they're still refusing to talk to anyone. For some reason Kaur has their ears, and Kaur alone. It's really starting to fucking piss me off!”

There was a knock at my door then. The room went silent; I think we were all expecting it to be Kaur's security force coming to arrest us all for dissension or something.

After looking at each other for a few seconds, I decided that I had better answer it. When I opened the door, I found myself suddenly being yanked through it, and arms were thrown around me.

“Were you hurt?” asked Tara as she squeezed me.

“ I'm fine. What's wrong?” I managed to force out enough air to say.

“ I was off all day, and I just heard about the attack. I heard three people were killed, and I was worried about you.” she said, releasing me, but keeping her hands on my shoulders.

“ How were you that out of the loop? That was hours ago?”

She gave me a pained look then. After a moment, she hugged me again and said,” Because you're all I have.”

“I'm sorry,” I said, and I was too. I hugged her back, and even though there is nothing like that between us, it felt good. It felt the way it feels when I hug Sharon.

“ What's going-” Sharon stuck her head into the hallway, and saw Tara and I hugging,” Oh, excuse me!” she half yelled, and pulled herself back inside.

“Shit!” I cursed softly.

Tara pulled away again, this time letting me go, ”What? There's nothing going on between you too anyway.”

“There are other people in there, and she'll tell them, won't she? They'll all think we're together, including Alex,” I explained to her.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sixteenth Entry: The Geekest

September 22nd

Sharon is over at Alex's place, and I am left here alone. It's nice to have some peace and quiet in my apartment. I am sitting here at my desk, looking at an Azumanga Daioh hanging banner where a window would be in a normal apartment. That picture of me and Sharon at the anime con is on the desk in front of me, the one with her as Integra Wingates Hellsing, and me as Mr. Kimura.

I remember going to that convemtion; Sharon kept me running around all weekend from panel to panel to the cosplay competition (we lost to someone dressed as Cloud Strife, I guess you do not argue with someone carrying a seven foot long sword, even if it is made out of cardboard).The whole weekend was a blast, but I realize that I was dancing to the music Sharon was playing.

We stood outside the vendor room, sharing a box of Pocky (which was always so overpriced at the cons, but we always bought some anyway), and reviewing the schedule. We were trying to decide what to do next,” We’ve got a couple of hours before the AMV competition. We should go see the Spike Spencer voice acting presentation.” I suggested.

“There’s a Crispin Freeman Q and A! We should go to that,” Sharon replied enthusiastically.

“We went to his voice acting thing yesterday though. I’m interested in the voice acting stuff. I could do that, you know?”

“But Crispin Freeman is so cute!” she squealed, making cute into at least a three syllable word.

“Spike Spencer is cute.”

“Oh come on! Let’s go see Crispin! He was Alucard, you like Alucard.” she flounced, gesturing with her prop cigar.

“I like Shinji too,” I retorted.

“You like Haji; he was Haji.”

“He says like ten words as Haji.”

“But he says them a lot!” she thought for a second after that, then yelled, “Togusa! Albedo! Will Turner!”

“Ack! Alright, alright, I give up.”

So of course we did go see the Freeman thing, and it was fun and all, but it is an example of how whipped I was, but no more. It’s not that I do not love her, or that I do not want her to love me the same way, but that I want her to be happy, and if dating Alex is what makers her happy, then so be it. Besides, I have found someone new.

I’m not talking about a relationship or anything, more of a kindred spirit. Someone with the same interested and the same problem of being in love with someone she cannot get either; Tara Lafferty. Bizarre, I know. You’d never know it, but she is quite the geek.

I found this out yesterday; we had clean-up duty, and Sharon never showed up. I was pretty much equal parts worried and pissed off. I went into Alex’s outer office where Tara’s desk is. I found her sitting at her sitting there typing away busily, looking back and forth between some papers on her desk, and her computer monitor.

“Have you seen Sharon by any chance?” I asked her.

Tara stopped typing, exhaleded through her nose, and looked up at me coldly, “Why yes, I have. Your friend and Mister Sigler went to the movie theater, and were then apparently going to have lunch. That was four hours ago… must be a hell of a meal. Why do you ask?”

“She was supposed to be on clean-up duty today, and she never showed up. I was just wondering what happened to her.”

I guess I must have completely failed to hide my disappointment that Alex and Sharon were together at his place, because Tara’s expression suddenly changed from chilly to almost sad, ”I’m sorry. I’m sure she’s okay.”

“I’m sure she’s more than okay,” I know that came out sounding as bitter as I felt.

“You really like her, huh?”

“Obvious to everyone but her. We’ve been friends for years, but I guess I’ve never made my feelings about her clear, and now that she’s with Alex, I want to stay out of the way so she can be happy,” I said, pouring my heart out inappropriately.

“ I know the feeling.”

“Yeah, right!”

“Why is that so hard to believe? The person I like right now doesn’t think of me in that way at all. It’s even someone you know.”

“Oh? Are you after Sharon too?”

Tara snickered at that, ”Well, she is a cutie in her own way, but no.”

“Okay, who. Not Hashmir?”

“Oh God no,” she said loudly. She stopped and thought for a second, “It’s Alex.”

“You too? What the hell? Why do all you women want him? His skin's like two shades darker than the zeds. He looks like he should be sleeping in a coffin.”

“It’s hard to explain. Of course all girls like the bad boy, but it’s more than that.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

She sighed again, “Don’t think of me as too pathetic, but I don’t really have any friends anymore. Most of my friends were over the Internet, and even the RL ones didn’t live here, and didn’t show up with the refugees. You and I share some things in common, and I kind of thought that maybe we could… you know, be friends.”

Wow, was that awkward. Tara sounded like I feel when trying to ask a girl out.

“Umm, sure. I could always use more friends,” I said with what I hope was a friendly smile, ”but why would you want to be friends with me?”

She raised her eyebrows and blinked at me, “You mean besides what I just told you?”

“Yes, other than being in love with people who are in love with each other, what could you and I possibly have in common?” I realize in writing this what a dick I must have sounded like, but she didn’t take offense.

“Well, we do live in the same commerce community in a world overrun by the living dead. Need more?”

“Is there more?”

She licked her upper teeth behind her closed lips,” Well, let me put it this way; not all lady geeks look like Sharon.”

“You’re no geek. You’re…” I started to say beautiful, but then thought better of it, ”you’re one of the cool kids.”

“No. I’ve never been one of the cool kids. I was the loner, and I still am. I think most people rank me up alongside Kaur and Rontreal in the top ten least friendly category.”

I really wanted to argue with her there, but she was right. I’ve never had much interaction with her before now; not only is she probably ten years older than me, but she is scary when she gets angry, and it seems like whenever she’s out of this office, she’s angry. Cute, but cold would be a good way of putting it.

“You seem nice enough to me,” I replied instead,” but you’re not a geek.”

“I am. I’m a huge Star Wars geeks.”

“Liking Star Wars does not automatically make you a geek,” I argued, “Being a geek is a lifestyle. What about comics? Anime?”

“I like anime.”

“What anime have you seen?”

“Cowboy Bebop, Akira, ummm… Howl’s Moving Castle.”

“Everyone’s seen those, give me something geeky. Fooly Cooly? Paranoia Agent?”

She shook her head, “Tell you what, little boy, to prove to you that I’ve been a geek since you were in diapers, come over to my place tonight, bring your DVDs, and I’ll show you who’s the geekest. I’ve got Mountain Dew and Funyuns,” she grabbed a Post-It pad off of her desk, and started writing on it.

“Miss Lafferty, you are trying to seduce me, aren’t you?”

“Dream on, nerd,” she said laughing, and handed me the yellow piece of paper.

If you were to ask me why I was being so open with her, I couldn’t really tell you. It felt comfortable and natural, and really more so than I feel around Sharon now. It’s not love, but I don’t know what it is. I still love Sharon, and would slay every zed in Covenant if that would win her heart, but I know I have strained our friendship with my jealousy over Alex. I’m getting ahead of myself.

So I went to Tara’s apartment; it is so much nicer than mine. Her apartment is two bedrooms, and it is on the outer wall of the top floor, so she actually has windows in both bedrooms and the living room. Clearly being Alex Sigler’s assistant pays a lot better than working a cash register.

I was surprised by the style in her place. A lot of blacks and reds, my first thought upon entering was “Sith”. On one wall of her living room was a giant plasma flat screen television, and facing it was a black couch. On the wall above the couch, flanked by three light sabers on each side was a framed poster for “Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi”, the one with the giant red and black Vader’s head on it. The poster was autographed by a number of people; I was able to pick out Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher’s signatures on it.

“Is that real?” I asked Tara, pointing to the poster.

“Indeed it is. That’s not a reproduction either, that’s one of the original teaser posters.

She showed me around the rest of her apartment. The red and black color scheme continues through the place except for in the bathroom, which was a frosty white and blue. Honestly I kind of expected the whole place to be in blues.

It was all very nice, but what really made my jaw drop was her second bedroom. She had done the place up as a combination office, gaming room, and shrine to Star Wars. Another flat screen dominated one wall, surrounded by Star Wars figures in their blister packs. Under the TV was an entertainment rack with an X-Box 360, a PS3, a Wii, and a Blu Ray player. The walls were covered in more Star Wars items, posters, autographed pictures, action figures, Mr. Potato Heads, Pez dispensers.

Her gaming room also had a bookshelf full of games and DVDs, a set of instruments for Rock Band 2, and what looked like a truly awesome computer. The two monitors that dominated her desk were huge, but also rather dusty, as if she had not used them in awhile.

“So are you prepared to admit it? I am the geekest,” Tara said with a grin.

Putting on an awful British accent, I conceded, “I bow down before you madam, and admit it, you are indeed the geekest.” I even bowed while saying it.

The night was a bit of a blur. True to her word, she did have Mountain Dew (regular and Code Red), and she did have Funyuns, and the night was spent watching about half of “Paranoia Agent” while she schooled me in some old Star Wars trading card game I had never played before. It was honestly the most fun I’ve had since the end of the world.

It was after three in the morning when I left (I didn’t have anything going on today, although I’m sure Tara is regretting staying up so late). Tara gave me a hug at the door, and we thanked each other for the nice evening. It’s really nice to spend time with someone like that, just hanging out. I suppose it’s really my fault that I can’t spend time like that with Sharon anymore though.

I was trying to be quiet as I entered my apartment, unsure whether or not Sharon was even there. She was, and I must not have been quiet enough, as her voice called out my name in the darkness, “Is that you?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s just me. Sorry to wake you.” I called back.

The light in my bedroom came on, and a moment later Sharon came out. She was wearing one of my t-shirts as a nightshirt, and it only came down to mid thigh. She had neglected to put on her glasses, and was rubbing her eyes as she came into the room.

“Where have you been? I was worried,” she asked groggily.

“I was at Tara Lafferty’s. I would have left you a note, but I didn’t know if you would be back tonight or not.”

“Tara? Alex’s assistant Tara?”


Sharon’s eyes looked a little hurt at this, ”Why were you there?”

“Just hanging out, playing cards, watching TV; nothing major. Why?”

She looked down at the floor, “No reason. I just didn’t really see you all day.”

“That’s because you were too busy going out with Alex to show up for clean-up crew,” why yes, I am a dick.

She came to me them, and put her arms around me, and hugged me tight, “Are you upset about me and Alex?”

I wanted to yell at her at that. What a stupid question! Of course it bothers me! Not only is he almost old enough to be her dad, and almost pale enough to be undead, but he’s not me! I wanted to tell her that I love her, and I’ve loved her for years, but I didn’t say any of that, what I said was, ”No.”

She kept hugging me, and said, “Yes you are, and I’m sorry. You’re my best friend in the whole world, and you know I love you, right?”

“And I love you too,” I replied, avoiding the question. Those words have a different meaning when she says them; she's using a different definition.

She pulled back, but kept her hands on my upper arms and looked me in the eyes, “Are you and Tara seeing each other then?”

“We’re just friends. She’s alone, I’m alone, it turns out she outgeeks both you and I, and she’s just a lot of fun to be around. Plus she had Funyuns.”

“But she’s always so, I don’t know, cold. I’ve never seen her be friendly to anyone, not even Alex.”

“She’s perfectly pleasant to me,” I replied, knowing exactly why Tara is not friendly to her.

Sharon looked down at the floor again, “Well, you just be careful with her, okay? She’s a lot older than you.”

“Alex is older than her,” I said flatly

She looked me in the eyes again. Maybe it was just that she had just woken up, but it looked like her eyes were getting watery.

“Just be careful,” she said, and then turned and walked back into the bedroom,” Good night,” she called back to me.

And that is when I realized it, after all these years, after all the times I was absolutely sick with jealousy when she was seeing someone, I had finally made her jealous. I know I am an absolute ass for feeling good about that, but there it is. Sharon is jealous that I am spent time with Tara! It is to LOL.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fifteenth Entry: Not Immune

Hello again, dear friend. I know it has been nearly two months since I last wrote, but as I expected, it’s kind of hard to do a lot of writing with Sharon around unless I want her nosing in over my shoulder. The only reason I am writing now is that she is not in the apartment.

Living with Sharon has been, let’s say, interesting. It was nice at first, we’d spend our evenings watching anime and movies, playing board games, taking turns cooking (if you can call her experiments in the culinary arts cooking), basically the same stuff we used to do now and then, but on a nightly basis. It's almost like being in a relationship, just without any of the romantic stuff. She's here when I wake up, and when I go to bed (on the couch), and we now work together, so she's there too. I do not get much alone time.

Sharon and I have been removed from the scavenging team, along with Gerry and Maria. They were super-pissed about it, and I’m sure Alex was none-too-happy to lose his best lockpicker, but Kaur convinced the council that we’re not reliable enough to be responsible for the food supplies, and so we were reassigned… to clean-up duty.

Yup, we now work under Benny Montoya, the head of Mallville’s sanitation department. We’re not cleaning toilets or anything, no, nothing so pleasant; we now go out once or twice a week, as needed, to collect to dead zombies around the mall and burn them in a big bonfire at the edge of the outdoor parking lot.

The zeds seem to like the cooling fall weather, because there has been an increase in the number of them. Maybe some of the ones we saw at the hospital are making their way to us?

The first time we all went out there, Gerry was really nervous. He was sure that some Kaur loyalist amongst the roof guards would “accidentally” mistake us for zombies despite the blaze orange hunter's vests we all wear over our blue coveralls to prevent such occurrences. So far we have all gone out there four times, and we’ve yet to have any sort of incident, but I can still tell Gerry’s very nervous when we are out there. Is it bad that he’s more afraid of other living people than he is when facing off against the undead?

The internet has been disconnected again. E-mail still works internally, and the mall’s intranet is usable, but no more news from the outside world for me. To be honest there was not a whole lot left out there, but I don't know if that is from there being less people, or if there are just too many breaks along the pathways to access the whole net anymore.

Food rations have been cut down a lot. Supposedly we now have to send scavenging crews farther and farther from the mall to get supplies, which makes sense I suppose. There are something like 5000 people living in Mallville right now, and the place was only meant to house around half that. That’s a lot of food and toilet paper.

Hashmir has started building up his little army. He’s recruiting refugees into the ranks of his security force. You see them all over the place now, in their white polo shirts, black pants, with automatic rifles (Alex confirmed for me that they are in fact M-16s, God only knows how Hashmir got them) acting like they own this place. I have bad feelings about that.

The newly expanded security force is being put to good use though; Alex tells me that Kaur is sending them on special scavenging runs, and that on at least three occasions they have returned with fuel tankers. Of course Alex's version of this is much more detailed and laced with vulgarities.

If it seems like I still have a lot of contact with Alex even though I do not work for him anymore, well I do. You see, that is why Sharon is not here right now. They went for a walk around the park, and they are an item. I don’t get this really, the guy looks like freaking Nosferatu. I know I am on the generous side of pudgy, but really???

I’m not mad at Alex, he’s a good guy. I keep telling myself that if not for him Sharon would be dead. Plus he has been funneling extra supplies to us, which is great with the tightened rations. Despite that I still cannot help being a little terse towards him, I mean I’ve been in love with Sharon forever and he swoops in and snatches her away from me.

Enough of that though. What else has happened in the last couple of months?

There is apparently no more fighting over whether or not to allow more survivors into Mallville, as there do not seem to be any more out there. It was down to one or two a week for awhile there, but then last month it just stopped. I want to believe that it’s because everyone has found safety, but I cannot help but wonder if maybe someone, like say a group of bikers, is stopping them from coming. I’m becoming quite paranoid wherever Hashmir Kaur is concerned now.

A couple of months ago I wrote about that incident in the park where that guy who died (committed suicide probably) attacked that woman? Well, there has been more of that. I think it’s up to about a dozen incidents now. Thankfully no one else has been infected by these zeds (as far as we're being told anyway), which I suppose in largely in part to the increased number of armed security patrolling Mallville, but it’s still fucked up.

For the first time, this has effected me. This new world is full of new experiences, but do they all have to be so awful?

I went down to Insert Coin a couple of nights ago. Alex had come over for dinner, and they were watching “7th Son” on DVD, and cuddling on the couch, and I just had to get out of there. The lights were off in the store when I got there, but I figured Bud was just in back. I’ve been trying to stop in a visit him a couple of times a week just to keep him company, he’s been real depressed for months now.

“Bud, it’s me! Get decent, I’m coming in!” I hollered through the gate, trying to sound as cheerful as possible.

I fished my gate keys out of my pockets, and bent down to unlock the gate when movement caught my eye. I looked up just in time to see Bud charge me. The gate was down, but he hit it hard enough to push it outwards and into me, knocking me off my feet.

I slid on the smooth tile of the shopping area’s floor, and fell onto my ass. I’m pretty sure I cursed, but I’m not sure what exactly I said. I froze as I looked at what stood before me with only the gate between us.

Bud shoved against the gate again, and it rattled noisily, attracting the attention of other people in the shopping area. His skin was a pale grayish color, and even in the little light shining into the darkened store interior I could see that his eyes had gone all milky.

There was a dark ring of purplish red color around his throar, and a loop of bright orange extension cord dangled around his neck, the end a mess of exposed wires where it had broken. He had hung himself in the stockroom as it turned out.

I was speechless. What do you say when confronted by a zed you once knew? Is this what Ash felt when finding his mother? No, it can’t be; I think Bud liked to think of himself as a father figure to all of us who worked for him, but he was still only an employer and eventually a friend, but not family.

Everything around me seemed almost silent, although I know a group of people were gathering around me, talking in loud panicked voices punctuated with the occasional scream as Bud raged against the gate, but it was as if I had been too close to a loud explosion, it was like my ears were full of cotton and all that noise seemed far away.

After a few moments three white-shirted security officers, obviously members of the new expanded force by their polo shirts came running up. One of them, a man around my age with blonde hair, yelled something at me; a question I think. I didn’t answer him; I just sat there, knowing how that woman in the park felt. She knew the guy that bit her.

If the gate hadn’t been down or if Bud… Not-Bud had charged me 5 seconds later after I had raised the gate, I would be dead now. Even if someone got him off me before he killed me, I would have been taken out and shot, my body destroyed before I could turn. I would have sat there and been devoured, I’m sure of it. This is how it spreads….

The blond man kept yelling at me, and I kept ignoring him, transfixed on the thing that was Bud rattling the store’s gate. His eyes; anger, pain, sorrow all flashed through those milky undead eyes. It was like he recognized me, he was ignoring the other people around me, and focusing on me.

A security officer with dark skin and a shaved head, he looked to be in his late thirties, stuck the barrel of his gun into one of the spaces in the gate as close to the center of Bud’s head as possible. He fired once.

Interesting fact; a newly turned zombie’s brains don’t look the same as one that has been wandering around for a few weeks. What splattered all over the cardboard stand-up advertising for “Seventh City Online”, a new MMO, was maybe a little darker than what erupted from the heads of the bikers, but it was not the foul rot that comes out of most zeds. Bud must not have been dead long… couldn’t have been, I spoke with him only a couple of days before; we played Pokemon together, he commented that his daughter liked to play. I guess I should have paid more attention to that comment.

Security, lead by Alexandre (Bud didn’t warrant a visit by Hasmir Kaur himself, I guess), quickly removed the body, and took it away to be destroyed. They questioned me; how I knew him, how long it had been since we spoke, did I know he was going to do this?

Apparently it is now a crime to not turn someone in if you think they might be suicidal; one of Kaur’s new rules. I’m pretty sure I could turn in most of the people in Mallville if considering suicide during all this was now criminal. Who hasn’t thought about it?

Security decided that I wasn’t guilty of anything at this point, and left me there. For the first time in months, it seemed like the shopping area was empty; everyone, even people who are sleeping in front of the store itself, found somewhere else to be, and I was alone.

I got the bottle of blue cleaner and a roll of paper towels out from under the counter, there was a layer of dust on both, and set to cleaning off the cardboard standup. It came clean easier than you might expect. The gray carpet is another story; I scrubbed at it for a good hour with a rag from the back room, and it would not all come out. I think there are some extra carpet tiles in back, I might try and replace them later.

I was surprised at how dusty the store was as a whole. I guess since I had generally just been going through the storefront to the stockroom to hang out with Bud, I just never really paid any attention to it. Spending time with Bud was the kind of thing that took my full attention because he was just so down, but I guess I should have been spending more time with him. I'm not sure what good that would have done though, how do you cheer up someone that has lost everything that matters to them?

In the office I found an envelope on the desk, which is to say the large piece of laminate shelving that the company called a desk, amongst the mound of Pokemon cards, empty food packaging, and a few pictures of Bud’s family. One of the pictures was a group shot that I had seen a thousand times before, but never really paid attention to.

The picture showed a tubby Bud with his arm around a pretty blonde woman, very slim. In front of them was a blonde girl who looked to be just about to hit her teens, the girl clearly had gotten mom’s looks, and there was a boy of maybe six or seven, he had his brown hair in a buzzcut, and had clearly gotten Bud’s looks and physique. They were all smiling at the camera, standing in front of palm trees on a beach; Hawaii maybe.

I turned the envelope over, and it was addressed to me and Sharon. I opened it:

If you're reading this then you know what I am about to do. It must have been quite a shock to the both of you, and I am sorry for that, but I have been thinking about this for awhile now. I tried not to let you know, and I really do appreciate the effort you have made to spend time with me, and try and keep me sane.

I just can't do it now. I cannot go on without Chrissie or the kids. I know they would be back by now if they could be. Even if things get better, it'll never be the same without them.

I want you both to know that you are the best employees I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Reliable, honest, punctual for the most part; I could not have asked for better employees, or better friends when things got bad.

I hope for the best for you two, and I hope you will finally acknowledge how good you would be together. If you do finally find each other, hold on and don't ever let go.

I'm leaving you both in charge of the store. Make sure to keep it up just in case you need to open again. I have not been doing a good job of that lately. My keys are in the safe.

Don't let Security give you too much shit, and be safe.

Budrick Nelson


Insert Coin

I sat there for a long time, I'm not really sure how long, surrounded by meaningless binders full of meaningless procedures, product information, drop-ship notices well overdue by now, and a fair amount of trash.

The office smelled a bit, but then it always did; lack of proper ventilation. I sat there and looked at the pictures of Bud and his family, the sales award plaque from last Christmas, the last shrink results from Loss Prevention, a note from Melly, one of the part times, asking for a weekend in May off so she could go to Reno with her boyfriend. I eventually started flipping through the Pokemon cards, organizing them into a neat stack. I wasn't really looking at them, just keeping my hands busy.

I sat there and thought. I thought about Bud, and about the fact that this is the first zed I knew. Bud is the first person I knew as a living person that I’ve seen become zombified. That could happen to me. It could have happened to Sharon. It could happen to Maria, or Gerry, or Alex, or any of us. Somehow I had been walking around with this idea that I was immune, immortal, safe. I mean, I still don’t feel like it could happen to me, but…. I don’t know, it’s complicated.

I don't know how long I sat in that cramped little room under the fluorescent lights before I heard Sharon's voice calling my name. I don't suppose it could have been too long.

She knocked on the office door, “Are you in there? I don't have my keys.”

Of course she didn't have her keys; they were in her apartment when Hashmir reassigned it to Parasite, but Bud had given her the spare set. This meant that I did not lock the gate before going back to the office; sloppy.

I opened the door to let her in. The office is a little small for two people to be in it together, but it's hardly the first time we'd both been crowded in together.

“What happened? Tara just told us that Bud's dead?,” Sharon asked.

'Us'. Her and Alex. Her and her boyfriend. Her and my former boss. My best friend and my former boss. The girl I love and my former boss. The girl I love and Nosferatu.

I didn't say anything, I just handed her the note. She started crying about halfway through. Tears streamed down from under her glasses in a silent river flow. When she finished she threw her arms around me, and hugged me as she started to sob loudly.

I held her, and tears came to me as well. We stood like that for awhile, and even though there was nothing romantic in our embrace, I remembered how much I love her. I wish that she felt that for me.

Maybe if I just wait, maybe if I just stay with her she'll come around. Even if she doesn't though, I'm not going to give up on life. I've fought too hard to stay alive this year to throw it away on my own stupid emotional weakness. I am not immune to what is happening around me, and being weak will not make my chances any better.

You know what I just realized? It’s 9-11, and no one has mentioned the World Trade Center once. It’s the first time since 2001 that I can remember going through 9-11 without anyone mentioning the World Trade Center. There were no tributes, moments of silence, readings of names today. I guess we all have bigger problems now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fourteenth Entry: Going Home

July 26th

There was a great deal of foot-dragging when it came to our returning to Mallville. We decided to bring back as many supplies as we could fit into the back of the van, along with Jimmy's chair. We took half of what was left of the most nutritious stuff there was, which is to say nuts, trail mixes, jerky, pretty much anything high in protein and energy. We left the rest for Ash, since he helped us and all.

We also loaded up on soda, energy drinks, and water. With all of the stuff loaded in it the van actually riding a bit low. I was a little worried what would happen when the four of us got in as well. I didn’t need to worry about that though, especially not with everything else I was worrying about.

We procrastinated leaving so long that it wasn’t until around two in the afternoon that we actually locked the door to the Snacky Mart. Gerry saw me watch him pocket the keys after locking the door for the last time, “You never know,” he said with a shrug.

I’m not sure if she was just curious, suicidal, or procrastinating, but Maria did not drive us straight back to Mallville, she detoured in the direction of the police station, as if Ash’s words of warning were some sort of challenge to her. No one tried to stop her though, even though I think we all knew where she was heading.

Nothing much happened on our little detour, when we were a good half a mile away from the police, we could see a roadblock up ahead. Someone, the police themselves I assume, had parked cars across the street, and up onto the sidewalks. There’s no way anyone not driving a bulldozer could get through, even someone walking would have to climb over the cars.

There was an orange sign with the words “ROAD CLOSED” printed on it in the center of the street on our side of the roadblock. This was apparently not enough of a challenge to Maria, because she turned at the next intersection, and headed away from the police station.

This modified route back to Mallville took us by the hospital, which was a freaking nightmare. Now I know where all the remaining zeds in Covenant must be hanging out. There must have seriously been around a couple of hundred of them roaming around that area.

I think just for fun more than anything, Maria ran over a zed in a filthy Garth Brooks t-shirt, “I hate country music,” she explained.

Once a couple of block away from the hospital, the undead thinned out dramatically; one or two here or there. The rest of the drive back to Mallville was unremarkable. As we drove, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were more people like Ash hiding out in these buildings, or if perhaps Ash himself was in one of them.

We saw the occasional sign that the living had been around; a dead zed, litter, shell casings lying in the street. I had no way of telling how old any of it was (other than the dead zombies, some of which looked reasonable fresh, others looked like they had been dried in the sun for awhile).

One thing that stuck in my mind was a used bookstore that someone had painted the messaged “EMMA MALLVILLE” on the front window in dark red paint. Other than that, the rest of the trip back was unremarkable.

This is not to say that there was no tension. We were all very tense, and very quiet. Not knowing if you’re going to be executed upon arrival at your destination doesn’t do much for your desire for conversation, you know?

When we were about three blocks from Mallville, Maria pulled the van off into and alleyway running behind a series of stores and apartment buildings that make up much of the area directly surrounding the mall.

Maria turned in her seat to look at each of us as she held the walkie talkie up, “If anyone wants to call this off, now's the time to speak up.”

No one spoke in reply, we all just sat there looking at Maria.

“Okay then,” Maria powered up the walkie talkie; it beeped as she switched away from the normal channel to a different one.
“Is anyone out there?” Maria asked.

Static poured out of the handset.

“Is anyone receiving me?” Maria called into the radio again.

“Identify yourself.” replied a voice that was barely recognizable as that of Alex Sigler through the static.

“It's Maria. What is the situation?”

“Not great, but under control. Who all is with you?”

Maria gave Alex the extremely short list of those of us who had survived the last few days.

“Well that's better than I expected. You'd be surprised to know that somehow Kaur knew that you guys were attacked. He says he heard it over the radio, but that has to be bullshit; the radios don't have a range that great.”

“Unless it was being re-broadcast by someone with a stronger signal,” commented Jimmy.

“Hey Jim; it's good to hear your voice again, man,” replied Alex.

“Is it safe for us to come in?” asked Maria.

“ It will be. Give me about an hour so I can make sure that I can make sure that too many people know you are all alive and well for him to pull any shit. You are all okay, right? No bites?”

“Jimmy's leg is too messed up for him to walk easily, but it's old. No one has any bites; nothing but bumps and bruises.”

“Glad to hear it. Find somewhere safe, and I'll call you back in an hour.”

Maria drove us farther down the alley to a Super Lube garage, and after a couple of minutes Gerry had the doors open. The building was empty, as we knew it would be, it had already been the subject of a scavenging run for supplies for the garage. The storeroom was stripped of everything useful, but it still made for a good place to hide the van from anyone passing by.

The air in the Super Lube was stale and warm from being vacant for months, but it beat sitting in the van for an hour. Sharon produced a couple of decks of cards from her backpack, and we passed the remainder of the hour playing Spite and Malice on an old, stained, scuffed up table that had probably had a thousand lunches eaten off of it before the world ended.

At precisely one hour after we had talked to Alex, Maria turned the radio back on. Only static poured out of its speaker, same as before. We continued playing cards, but we were all playing badly, missing obvious moves to block each other, and I'm pretty sure at one point we skipped Sharon's turn. We were all too nervous about what might come through the radio to really be into the game.

Fifteen minutes passed with no word from Alex, and I for one was starting to worry that something might have happened to him to keep him from telling people we were alive and well. I was about to give voice to my fears when Alex's voice came though.

“Maria, guys, you there?”

Maria snatched the radio off the table, “Where the hell have you been?”

“I've been securing you safe entry back into the mall, be a little more fucking ungrateful, why don't you?”

“And have you?” asked Maria.

“Well of course. I just made sure that Kaur was not the first person I told. As I speak, the news of your survival is spreading along the grapevine with special emphasis on the fact that none of you are infected.”

“So Kaur's not going to try and stop us?”

“He was pissed that I didn't go to him first, but his hands are pretty well tied. He's going to quarantine you all for at least twenty-four hours until he is satisfied that no one is infected, but don't worry about that; I've got some of my own people who will be involved in the observation period. You're lucky you came back now. Another day or two and your apartments would likely have issued to his new recruits.”

We all exchanged questioning glances at that, but since Maria had the radio, it was she that voiced the question we all shared, “Recruits?”

“Yeah, Hashmir is trying to build his own little army to keep Mallville safe from external threats. I'll fill you all in on it, stated Alex,”Come on home guys, it's good to have you back.”

And so it was that we returned to Mallville, not to any fanfare, or to happy faces glad to see their lost fellows return, but to a group of angry security officer, all armed with what looked to me like M-16's who surrounded the van as soon as the gate was down.

Maria drove the van slowly through the garage so as to not hit the armed escorts in front of us, and give them a reason to put their rifles to use. When we got to the elevators that lead up to the administrative area, Maria put the van in park. The officers turned so that they were all facing the van. They kept their rifles pointed towards the ground, but it would only take a fraction of a second to bring them up into position.\

The doors to one of the elevators opened, and Hashmir Kaur, Alexandre Rontreal, and Alex Sigler all stepped out. The bright lights set into the ceiling were reflecting off the over polished surfaces of Kaur and Rontreal's badges, and Sigler's pale bald head.

“Step out of the vehicle slowly, and keep your hands where I can see them,” barked Rontreal.

“For fuck's sake, Kaur,” spat Sigler, “”Is this really necessary? They're our own people, not an invading army.”

“The security of Mallville is my responsibility, mind your own business.” stated Kaur as we exited the van.

“They are my people, and are therefore my responsibility too,” Sigler replied, “I'll be glad to take charge of them.”

“I think not,” Kaur said flatly, and then to Maria,” What do you think you're doing?”

Maria had moved around to the back of the van, and was in the process of opening the door,” I'm getting Jimmy's wheelchair out, his leg is hurt, and he cannot walk easily.”

“Was his leg bit?” asked Rontreal.

“No, I broke it in a car crash after some bastard sent a biker gang after us,” shot Jimmy, leaning awkwardly against the passenger side of the van,

Rontreal's hand hovered over his pistol, “I'd watch myself if I were you. Bad things can happen to people who spread rumors. Sara found out about that.

“What are you talking about? What did you do to her?” Jimmy's fire went out of his eyes, and was replaced by fear and panic.

“Nothing, it's just that sometimes karma has a way of coming back on people who spread lies. Sometimes that can be fatal,” explained Hashmir.

Jimmy looked from Sigler, to me, to Gerry, and back to Kaur and Rontreal. Gerry and I bot looked away when he looked at us. I looked at Sharon, and got a questioning look in return.

“Just what are you admitting to?” asked Sigler angrily.

“I have nothing to admit to, although by the look on his face, I'm guessing that you may not have been quite as open with Mr. Chen as friends should be,” said Kaur to Sigler. He then turned to face Jimmy, “I'm sorry that it has to be me that tells you that Miss Seder passed away due to complications to her injuries from that unfortunate attack.”

“You told me she made it back! Her, Wally, and Mitch! Why didn't you tell me?” pleaded Jimmy as he tried to hold the tears back.

I couldn't meet his eyes, “I'm sorry, man. I didn't know how to say it. I was going to tell you, but then everything else happened.”

“And since you got your girl back, what did it matter?” he spat angrily.

I could feel myself blush. I could feel everyone's eyes upon me. I decided to focus my attention on a very interesting patch of parking garage floor.

I guess that Rontreal and Kaur felt they had sown the seeds of distrust into us enough at that point, and allowed Maria to get Jimmy's chair out of the back of the van. When she rolled it around to Jimmy, she did not look him in the face either.

Jimmy half lunged for the wheelchair, yanking it out of Maria's hands, and almost pulling himself and the chair over onto the ground. He would not allow any of us to help push him into the elevator, and none of the security guards offered.

We were taken up to the administration area on the sixth floor, and to the security office that serves as Mallville's police department. We were each locked in separate holding cells; Sharon was to my left, Gerry on my right. I couldn't see them, but we could still talk, not that Sharon was talking to me.

I know that, if I am going to be honest, the only reason I've done any of the things I've done in the last few weeks was to get Sharon back, but I don't know that that should really cheapen what I've done. Does it matter why I did it more than that I did it? Sharon thinks so.

It was a long night in there. Gerry tried to cheer me up by telling jokes, but I told him to shut up, why not alienate one more friend, right?

This morning Marcus Dyson, one of the doctors from the medical clinic, came through, and gave us each a once over under the supervision of a member of the security force that I did not recognize as well as Tara Lafferty, Alex Sigler’s assistant.

Tara’s an interesting person; where Alex tends to be all fire and fury when someone or something pisses him off, Tara is cold as ice. I’m not saying that she’s mean or uncaring, just that the angrier she gets, the less emotion she actually shows. I’ve only met her a couple of times before, and she was perfectly pleasant (as well as really cute, with her curly brown hair and cute little nose) then, but today she had her chill on, I think the temperature in the holding area dropped a good five degrees when she came in with Doctor Dyson and the security officer.

The three of them worked their way down the row cell by cell. At each cell the security officer would open the door, and both Doctor Dyson and Tara would enter. Tara asked each of us (I assume she did anyway, I know she asked Gerry, Sharon, and myself) if we were being treated okay, and then Dyson gave us each a once over.

Even though Doctor Dyson’s examination of each of us was fully clothed and quick, he gave us each a clean bill of health as far as being infected goes, but said that each of us should report to the medical center for a proper examination. He also said that Jimmy should report immediately so that his leg could be examined, but he guessed that there would not be much they could do since the break occurred so long ago.

I heard Tara ask Sharon what she was going to do about the fact that her apartment had been reassigned. She replied by stating that she was going to be staying with me, so maybe she’s not so pissed off after all. I suspect there may be a long talk in my future, but at least I’m home and Sharon’s alive.

Of course with Sharon around, it may be hard for me to keep this, and I have grown quite attached to putting my thoughts down in here, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Until then.