Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #51 stopped for the day in a warehouse SHTF & TEOTWAWKI
Shack comes around the now silent Smart car. “Man that cop zombie sure made you jump back there,” he says with a chuckle.
“Yeah laugh it up,” I mumble back at him. “Anyone get a good look at what is inside this warehouse?” I ask Shack turning to look around inside the dimly lit, white steel sided industrial warehouse.
Overhead, several dark, high bay light fixtures hang in two neat rows the length of the building. This warehouse is fucking ginormous. We could have parked several more convoys the size of ours inside this warehouse.
The lights overhead look like the old cheaper high pressure sodium lights that were banned several years ago to encourage the use of more efficient LED lights. Judging by the rust and general disrepair of the outside of this warehouse, it has seen better days.
It is fairly dark inside the warehouse and I am glad that I still have my NVGs activated. Movement near the roof catches my eye, and I see a small family of barn owls has taken residence in the rafters.
There is a maintenance catwalk between the two rows of sodium lights. The barn owls have made a nice nest in that walkway. The owls, which always look inquisitive and intelligent to me, seem interested in what is going on beneath them.
Israel has several species of owls, barn owls among them. Owls were always one of my favorite birds to watch. I wonder what the owls have been eating and how they are getting in and out of the warehouse. With the warehouse doors now closed, it might restrict the owl’s movements.
I tap Shack on the shoulder and point up say simply “owls.” Shack nods at me and says, “Makes sense, I see lots of small animal tracks in the dust in here, looks like rats or mice mostly. Maybe even an opossum or a couple of raccoons as well.”
Soldiers are quickly erecting shelters around the HEMTTs. Suddenly a plethora of Coleman and similar clone lamps as well as flashlights and even a few of the supposedly scarce cyalume sticks erupt in a cascade of light that causes my NVGs to black out.
This steel-sided warehouse lacks any windows, so light discipline should be fairly easy. Other than the two large bay doors at either end of the warehouse there does not appear to be another exit.
Outside our perimeter of light, the edges of the warehouse are quite dark. I wonder what might be hidden in the dark recesses of this warehouse.
Tipping up my NVGs then shutting them off, I have to wait a few moments for my eyes to adjust. I see the soldiers are getting cots and other sleeping arrangements settled for the day. Moving during the night when the zombies are dormant makes sense.
I take my helmet off which feels good and twist my neck trying to get the kinks out. It is sore from the unaccustomed weight of the helmet. It has been a long time since I have worn a Kevlar helmet for any length of time and my neck muscles are complaining about it.
I see the warehouse doors open again and the rear guard Humvee motors in to park itself across the doorway. The doors close again and I see the Humvee crew getting ready to bunk down as well.
The guy that mans the 240 on the top of the Humvee apparently intends to bunk on top of the truck. The other four crew members of the Humvee lay out ground pads and sleeping bags around the truck.
After their sleeping arrangements are settled, the Humvee crew breaks out MREs and proceeds to eat. The 240 gunner eats sitting on the roof of the Humvee. Lucky for him, the Humvee lacks an armored cupola for the 240, so there is room on top of the truck for him to sleep and eat.
The familiar smells of MREs cooking and piss fills the air as people seek the dark warehouse corners to use as a latrine. I break out one of my MREs and see that it is the beef brisket meal – one of the better MRE meals I am lucky.
I sit on the asphalt floor of the warehouse and Shack plops down beside me. We sit in friendly silence and eat our MREs both opting to use the included heater to warm our dinner. Shack has got the chicken and noodle MRE meal one that is not too bad either. Both of us toss the small bottle of Tabasco included in the MRE in to our dinner, a remarkable improvement.
I have peanut M&Ms for desert from my MRE while Shack gets the MRE peach crisp. Finishing our meal, Shack and I sit for a minute before I dig two cans of warm beer out of the car. Shack and I both get Bud Light this time.
“Best beer in the world Ruth,” Shack says to me.
“Not really, Shack. I much prefer Goldstar Dark Lager, Taybeh or Tuborg to this crap, but I cannot be picky now.”
“No, Ruth I meant free beer is the best beer in the world. Second best beer in the world is free cold beer.”
“Oh Ok I agree with you. Are you even old enough to drink?” I ask remembering how young he looks.
“I turn 20 next month. But I am not the youngest soldier here. Remember that scout from earlier this morning?”
“Yeah, what about him?” I ask.
“He turns seventeen this winter,” Shack explains.
Silence falls between us and we sit in comfortable silence drinking our beer. After a while Sam comes walking up. I notice Sam has stripped off his blouse and is now dressed in his solid brown poly tee-shirt over which he wears his brown leather “tanker” holster holding his .45.
“You guys set for the night?” Sam asks.
“I forgot to ask Ruth, sir, if she wanted to sleep first or second,” Shack says.
“Shack, why don’t you let Ruth sleep first? Since you seem to be incapable of driving a stick, you can sleep while she drives.”
“Oh, you heard about that huh,” Shack mumbles.
I pat Shack on the thigh. “Hey it is fine Shack. I will sleep first unless you are too tired to stay awake.”
“Nah, I got it, get some shut-eye,” Shack says to me and Sam with the assurance of the young.
As Sam turns to leave, I ask two questions that have been bugging me. “Sam, did anyone search this warehouse and what about the folks in the billboard?”
Sam, in the process of walking away, turns back to me. “I am waiting for the scouts to come back. They went into a building next to the billboard to see if they could get a look. I have a small team searching this warehouse thoroughly now. Other than one crawler no other zombies have been discovered. This warehouse belonged to a cleaning company. We’re pulling the batteries and propane tanks out of the man lifts, gathering all the bleach and detergent we find and collecting all the cleaning supplies. This company also cleaned swimming pools. We are taking all the pool chemicals as they can be used for a variety of uses. Does that answer your question?”
“Uh, yeah thanks,” I mutter. “Before you pull all the batteries from the man lifts you might want to use a lift to search the rafters of this warehouse. Other than the owls and barn swallows, guys that work for these kinds of companies have been known to stash stuff in the rafters away from the boss.”
“Like what?” Sam asks.
“Illegal drugs are the most common,” I reply.
“Yeah we already found a small bag of weed in the office with some rolling papers. As well as a small ball of hash and a nasty, piss poor cracked glass bong made from an old Jack Daniels bottle,” Sam says with a chuckle. “I’ll take it under advisement, but not sure it would be worth the time. We’ll see, get some sleep, Ruth.”
Just as Sam starts to walk away we hear shouting. Suddenly a rifle shot rings out reverberating like a slap through the tin building. The white-hot muzzle flash was very bright in the dim warehouse.
“Shit!” Sam yells as he takes off running towards the shot and commotion.