Thirst

This is an incomplete story I had begun in 2010. I have edited it slightly for spelling and grammar before posting it here.

Chapter 1

The rain was streaming past the window as John sat daydreaming. On days like this, he was almost able to forget. The sound of the rain beating against the tin roof of the warehouse helped drown out his thoughts. The clouds dimmed the landscape outside and the mist obscured anything beyond the gates of the depot he called home. He knew that when the rain let up, he’d have to get back to work, but for now he could just sit and rest.
He pushed away thoughts of what needed to be done; instead, he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the packet of honey-roasted peanuts he had been saving for a special occasion. He was excited when he had found them in a vending machine a few days ago. When he was younger, before everything changed, his grandmother would always have them on hand. They were one of his favorite snacks, sweet and savory, and always kept him going.
He tore open the packet and popped some in his mouth. It had been a long time since he last ate some, but they were just as good as he remembered. He reached over to the table under the window and pressed play on his mp3 player. Music played softly from the little speakers, barely audible above the rain. He couldn’t risk turning the volume up too loud, but the listening to music was all he had to entertain himself.
Most of the music he wasn’t familiar with, he had scavenged it all from computers he found as he travelled. He had always been fairly tech savvy, the kids in his school used to call him a geek and laugh at him. But now he’s had the last laugh, as his geekly pursuits are what have kept him going so long. He lay on the bed, listening to music as he slowly finished the packet of peanuts. Time slipped away and he drifted off to sleep.


Something rustled in the warehouse. At the sound, all of John’s muscles tensed, his eyes opened wide. Darkness had settled in around him, the light from the full moon streamed in through the window. He sat upright in the bed, listening. There was no music, the rain had stopped; a few drips from the roof were all the sound he heard. He reached down to the floor and grabbed the hatchet he always kept close at hand. He slowly, quietly, got out of the bed, watching the doorway to the warehouse diligently.
Another sound, shuffling, came from through the open warehouse door. John picked up and put on the ball cap from the table. The strap of the headlamp rested firmly around the ball cap. The warehouse was silent again as he turned on the light. He walked slowly and silently to the doorway with his hatchet at the ready, the headlamp illuminating wherever he looked. As he carefully stepped through the doorway, the cavernous warehouse opened up around him.
He looked around the warehouse, the light panning as he turned his head and carefully assessed his surroundings. The tables he had encircling the doorway were just as he left them. The shelves against the opposite wall were neat and tidy. Another sound, off to his left. John turned quickly in the direction but saw nothing. He slowly navigated through the maze of tables he had setup and moved toward the cabinets against the wall.
Then, the source of the noise became clear; a large brown and white rat poked its head out from under one of the cupboards. John was relieved at the site, he wasn’t particularly fond of rats, but it was a lot better than the alternative. So as not to spook the animal, John walked slowly to one of the shelves and grabbed a canister of sunflower seeds and a small cage he had picked up on one of his scavenging runs.
He gently placed the cage on the floor and dropped a few seeds into it. He then tossed a few pieces gently towards the rat to create a trail to the cage. He waited patiently as the rodent picked up seed after seed, eating each quickly. A short time later, the rat worked its way to the cage and sheepishly went inside for the last few seeds. John quickly snapped the cage shut, trapping the critter inside.
John put the cage down on one of the tables and walked to a stack of papers. He picked up a few sheets of newspaper and tore them, feeding the strips through the openings in the cage. He then grabbed some scrap cloth from a bin nearby and slid it into the cage as well. John had been alone for a long time and wanted to make his new friend as comfortable as possible. He proceeded to fill a small bowl with water from his canteen and placed it quickly in the cage.
John secured the cage and sprinkled in some sunflower seeds, then went back and sat in bed. He was happy to have company, even if it was just an animal. John turned off his light and put his cap back on the table under the window. He lay there for a while thinking about his new friend, listening to the rustling from the cage as he slowly drifted off into a happy slumber.


John awoke at the break of dawn, sunlight streamed in through the window, lighting the room. Thinking back to the night before, John went and checked on his new friend. He found the animal was grooming itself, resting in a nest it made from the newspaper and cloth. John filled the bowl with some more water from his canteen and sprinkled in more seeds.
He then walked to a nearby cupboard and opened it. This cupboard was filled with non-perishable foodstuffs. He picked up a couple protein bars, stuffed them in his pocket, and snapped the doors shut. Afterward, John topped off his canteen from his homemade water filter, grabbed his backpack, and headed out the door. It was time for his morning walk. Every day he would do the nearly four-mile circuit of the compound, checking the fences for any signs of a breach and looking for anything he could possibly use.
The compound was originally designed as an industrial warehouse space. When John first arrived, the whole place was lifeless. The gates were locked; it appeared as if no one had been there in months. The space consisted of many buildings of assorted sizes.
John had picked the smallest of the buildings, what looked to be a central office, to be his home. To John, the choice was one of pure logic; it was the only building that was well insulated and was the most secure of them. If the need arose, he knew he could barricade himself inside for an extended amount of time without worry. John had checked out most of the buildings since then but had only managed to fully scavenge a couple.
As John was finishing his first protein bar he stopped at the first gate he came to and pulled at the chain used to secure it. The chain held tight and John continued on his patrol. A while later he stopped at a bush growing through the fence. He picked some berries which he placed inside a container in his pack. The rest of his walk was just like every other day. No signs of life outside the compound, human or otherwise. All the gates were secure and John was able to wrangle up some fresh berries for later.
Upon arriving back at his building, he checked on his rodent friend who was fast asleep. John removed the batteries from his mp3 player and headlamp and placed them on the solar charger outside. He then walked around the side of the building to the drum he had setup to collect water. It was nearly full from the rain, so John got a hose and his hand pump and began to siphon the water into his filter. The process was slow and time consuming, but he needed the water. John coiled up the hose when the drum was nearly empty and moved onto his next project. He had been trying to find a way to see what was happening in the rest of the world.
John had been living in the compound for a few months now, ever since he ventured off I-40 somewhere around the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. At first, he tried regularly to see if he could get anything on the radio or television, but it wasn’t long before the power went out. A few days later, he realized that one building had been equipped with solar panels. He guessed it was some bigwig’s idea to “green” up the complex. He was able to run wire from that building to his and has enjoyed a moderately comfortable life since.
He grabbed the radio and flipped it on to find nothing but static. He slowly rotated the tuner, listening for anything that sounded different, but was disappointed when he reached the end of the dial with nothing. His next step was the old portable television he moved in from another building. It was nothing like what he used to have at home, no remote or buttons, just a bulky box with an on/off power switch and a knob to select the channel similar to the old radio. He started at channel one and went up the spectrum from there. His heart sank when he reached the end at channel 70 and had found nothing but snow.
His final effort for the day was the CB. He scanned through each channel, “Hello, this is John. Is anyone out there,” he spoke into the receiver as he held down the button. “Please, if anyone is out there, respond. I am on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. It is safe here. I will stay on channel 9.” His pleas were only met with silence. Even so, he continued on, trying each frequency in turn until his throat was dry. Eventually, his petition had gone out on all 40 channels, and he set the radio back to channel 9 and turned the volume up before putting it away.
Even though John had no real way of telling time, he knew it must be afternoon, and he was getting hungry. He removed the berries from his pocket that he had picked on his morning walk and ate them all in short order. John went to the cabinet where he kept his canned goods and grabbed a can of potted meat. It wasn’t his favorite, but he knew the food would sustain him. John thought back to his new friend as he finished off the small can,
Looking in the cage, John found the little rodent had eaten all the seeds he left for him. John knew he couldn’t keep feeding the animal out of his own supply, he ventured off into the complex. He remembered seeing a pet store truck parked at one of the buildings he hadn’t fully explored yet, so he headed that way.
He found the truck on the other side of the complex easily enough, the giant red and blue letters on the side stood out pretty well. He never bothered checking the truck out before because he really didn’t think he’d find anything useful in it. The back door of the trailer was locked with a padlock, something John had to deal with often. He whipped out his hatchet and slammed it down as hard as he could, easily breaking the lock.
Rolling the door up, John was assaulted by a musty odor; the truck had been sitting there, closed up, for a long time. Inside he found plastic wrapped pallets of pet food. As he squeezed between rows of dog and cat food, he was delighted to find an entire stack of bird feed. He knew that a good mix of cat and dog food with the bird feed would keep the rat nice and happy. He opened a small bag of dog food and dumped some of it into a sack from his backpack. He then did the same with some cat food and the seed.
John trotted back to his building happily when he finished securing the back door to the truck. He hummed a little tune and swung his arms like a little kid without a care in the world. When he got back, he gingerly opened the door to the cage and held his hand out with a bit of food for the rat. The animal sheepishly moved forward, and nibbled at the offered food, tickling John’s hand.
“Nicodemus,” John whispered; deciding to name the rat for a character in a book his mother used to read him before bed, “Or Nic for short.”
John dumped the rest of the handful of food in the cage and secured the door. Even though Nicodemus seemed friendly enough, John didn’t want him running around. John poured the last of the water from his canteen into Nic’s water bowl. By now, the rain water had all run through the filter and was drinkable, so John refilled his canteen and took a deep draught from it.
John had built his water filter early on, it was fairly simple. He had taken a large tank from one of the buildings and placed it in his. He then filled it with charcoal he made from wood scraps and sand he found in a nearby dump truck. Whenever it rained, he would put as much water as he could into the tank and over time it was cleaned and made drinkable.
John knew the day was getting on, so he hastened behind the building to his supply of wood and gathered what he needed for the night’s fire. He placed the materials in the circle of bricks he had built as a cooking pit and lit the kindling with his trusty lighter. As the fire began to build he took the opportunity to use the bathroom. He didn’t have any running water, but the sewage lines still worked, so he was able to flush the waste away with his bath water from the night before.
As the fire burned, John went to his garden. When he first arrived at the complex months ago, he knew he’d be staying for a long time, and since winter had just passed, he sectioned off part of the parking lot for growing food. It was hard work removing the cement, even after he found a working jackhammer. He used a truck and transported dirt from outside the fence to fill the space he had opened up. The rest wasn’t hard; it was just sowing the seeds and tending the garden.
The rain from the night before would have watered the plants well, but recently his efforts had been rewarded. A few plants had begun fruiting, and some were now ripe. He plucked a nice big tomato from one plant and cut a chili pepper from another. He then dug up a green onion.
Back at the fire, John added some water to a pot and set it on a brick to heat. He then chopped up the tomato and dropped it in the pot to simmer. Next, he carved open the chili pepper and scraped out the seeds, setting them aside to plant later. He proceeded to cut the pepper into strips, minced them, and added them to the pot. Finally, he chopped the green onion and swept them into the pot.
The daylight was beginning to wane as John filled another pot with water and hung it over the fire to boil. Once the boil was rolling John added a handful of rice and a can of kidney beans. As he let them cook John pulled the batteries from the solar charger and put them back into his mp3 player and headlamp.
Back at the fire he sliced a section of meat from a salami stick and hacked it into small chunks. John added the meat to sauce mixture and stirred both pots well. Soon the rice and beans were tender and he scooped some onto a waiting dish and slathered it in the sauce. John had never been much of a cook but surviving on his own had taught him new skills.
John emptied the rest of both pots into his dish and set them aside to cool. He enjoyed his dinner more than he expected but was worried because his food stores were running low and would have to start relying more heavily on the garden. When the second bowl was finished, John added another handful of food to Nic’s cage and began to clean up.
He scrubbed the pots diligently, making sure not to waste much water, then rinsed them and went inside to clean himself. He knew that a sponge bath wasn’t the best way to get clean, but he couldn’t spare the water. Afterwards, John sat by the fire, watching the dying embers, thinking back to before the crisis. It used to just be him and his dad. John’s mother had died a few years earlier. John’s father tried keeping close to with his son through regular camping trips and becoming a scoutmaster in John’s Boy Scout troop.
John was a freshman in high school when the crisis hit. He wasn’t a popular kid, and never had a lot of friends but the ones he did have were all very close. He never even had a girlfriend. One day that was all torn away as the new bulletins went out and the evacuations began. There was rioting everywhere, families being torn apart, people being relocated. He was sad when he found out his father and him were being relocated to an evacuation site in Albuquerque, New Mexico. None of his friends had been assigned there.
In the beginning, John hadn’t even paid a lot of attention to the news, he knew there was some kind of viral outbreak, and people were getting really sick, but the full details were never released. It wasn’t until months later when the infection spread inside the quarantine camp, and John watched as his father withered away, did the serious impact of the situation really hit him. It all became too clear when John, alone in the quarantine zone because he refused to leave his sick father, watched the now dead man moving.
John’s father had died hours before, his body was cold. It was like something from the movies. Zombies! John thought. He grabbed what little he could, food, clothing, extra blankets, and left right away. It was almost spring, but the nights were still very cold. As he left the encampment others had also begun to rise; John fled quickly in fear of his life. He headed east, back towards his home.
Along the way, John found a car that ran, which sped his journey, but eventually it broke down and he had to start walking again. Then the day came when he decided to stop walking and found his new home in the industrial complex. John knew that living there wasn’t permanent, but he did everything he could to make what little resources he had last as long as it could.
John’s eyes watered at the thought of leaving his father like that, but he knew there wasn’t anything he could do. All he could hope for was that his father’s spirit had passed on from this world and wasn’t still trapped in his decaying body. John went to his bed and lay down, quietly sobbing himself to sleep.

Chapter 2


Cassidy stared out the window of the truck, watching as the trees whipped by, barely listening to Blake go on like he usually did. It was always another story, that time he threw the winning pass, or how the last zombie’s head exploded, or even that one time he saved the guy from a mob of undead.
Back in high school, before the world went to hell, Blake was sweet and charming; Cassidy could never get enough of him. His stories were endearing, and he doted on her like she was a princess. But lately he’s been nothing but an arrogant, self-centered bore. It wasn’t just that he was always telling stories about himself and the things he’s done, it was that he kept telling them, again and again. Cassidy and Blake had been together since they were freshmen in high school and she’d heard it all before.
“Are you listening to me?” Blake asked loudly.
“Of course,” Cassidy replied dryly, snapping out of her haze.
“Ok then, look at the map and find me some place to restock, we’re running low again.”
They were generally heading south, down the I-5 with constant detours; most of the road was blocked with broken down cars and other debris. They had been travelling for a week now, sleeping in the truck whenever they could. A lot of time was spent backtracking, avoiding large mobs of undead or finding ways around other obstacles.
Cassidy reached into the glove box and rummaged through the maps they had collected on their travels. She opened the map of Washington and looked for small towns outside of Portland.
“It looks like we can bypass Portland if we can cross the bridge in Longview. Get off at exit 40 in a couple miles,” Cassidy instructed.
“Got it,” Blake responded. “Let’s hope the bridge is clear.”
Rolling slowly up to the exit ramp, Blake weaved through cars as Cassidy watched for ‘shamblers’; that was the name Blake came up with for the infected people after they died. Blake continued to follow her directions until they came across a major intersection with a couple of gas stations. Blake pulled the truck into the first, parking it near the fuel port covers.
“Keep an eye out,” he ordered Cassidy as he removed a pistol from the storage compartment of his door.
Cassidy stepped down out of the truck and stretched her small frame, relieving the tension that had built up from riding in the pickup. She kept a watchful eye as Blake went to the back of the truck to grab some empty gas cans and a hand-crank pump he used for fuel. Blake strode confidently to a fuel tank cover in the parking lot and pried it up. He had worked at his neighborhood gas station since he was old enough to get a job.
He inserted the hose down into the tank and pulled it back out, verifying there was still some gas in the reservoir. Blake dropped the line back in and placed the other hose in the waiting canister. He began to crank. Cassidy knew it would take him a while to fill the truck and gas cans, so began to wander towards the convenience store, hand diligently on the small pistol she kept in a holster on her hip.
“I’m going to look for food,” she called to Blake, who grunted in approval.
Slowly opening the door, Cassidy smelled mold and mildew. She took the smell to be a good sign; it meant there weren’t any shamblers nearby. Luckily, it was easy to detect them, as they smelled like what they were, rotting meat. Inside, she propped the door open and looked over the shelves. Surprisingly, the store appeared mostly intact. First, she needed a restroom. Even though she had always hated gas station bathrooms, they beat the alternative to going in the woods.
After finishing, she went behind the counter, grabbed some plastic bags, and began to fill them with things they’d need. She started with the essentials, filling one bag with tampons, another with condoms, and a third with cigarettes. She then grabbed all the full drink cases and piled them near the door. Next, she proceeded to fill bags with canned goods and other foodstuffs. Cassidy went outside to check on Blake when she finished gathering everything useful. He had just finished filling the truck’s gas tank and was putting away his pump.
“Help me load this stuff into the truck,” she called out to him.
“Gimme a minute, I need the bathroom,” he responded as he walked toward her.
Passing her by; he went inside the building and looked over the magazine rack. Grabbing an issue of Sports Illustrated, he trotted off the men’s room and locked the door behind him. Cassidy walked to the truck in frustration, she was always left with all the hard work. Jumping into the driver’s seat, she put the truck in reverse and backed it up to the door.
While waiting for Blake to finish, Cassidy began loading the truck. She started with the cases of soda and water; then piled in the bags of food. She threw in the bags with the essentials, and filled the rest of the space with all the toilet paper she could find. After she had piled everything she thought they could use into the truck, Blake was finally done.
“Took you long enough,” she grumbled.
With a sneer, he looked into the back of the truck and said, “What, no beer?”
“I was just getting to that,” she replied, rolling her eyes as she turned away from him.
Back inside she grabbed a couple cases of beer as Blake picked up a bottle from the cooler. She loaded them in the truck, closed the back, and got into the passenger seat again. Blake had opened the beer before getting behind the wheel and was sipping it as he shut his door. Putting the gun back away, he set his beer in the cup holder and drove out of the gas station.
“You’re going back the way we came, turn around,” Cassidy chided him.
Blake turned the truck around and headed in the direction she had indicated. He drove slowly, keeping an eye out for any movement. Blake didn’t like being in cities, even small ones like this. After what happened in Seattle, he would be happy if they could avoid any sort of urban areas.
“Have you seen any yet?” Blake asked, “Cause I haven’t, and it’s eerie.”
“Maybe they’ve all moved on,” she replied.
A short while later the air began to turn. The fetid smell of death became pervasive. Cassidy and Blake knew there had to be some shamblers nearby, but still saw nothing. As they drove through a railroad crossing, the road came to another major intersection bordered by shopping centers. The smell had grown even stronger, but seeing no threat, Blake felt confident and pulled into a parking lot. The sign over the building read “Pete’s pawn and gun.”
“Why are you stopping? Don’t you smell that? They can’t be far away!” Cassidy insisted.
“Do you see any? Look, it won’t take long, we’ll be really fast and careful,” he conceded.
As Blake slowly backed the truck into the gated double doors of the building, the sound of shattering glass and grinding metal filled the air. When the gate gave way, he was certain they’d have a big enough opening and drove the truck forward, allowing them entry. Stepping out of the truck, gun in hand, his footsteps crackled on the shards of glass. Cassidy hopped down and immediately drew her revolver; the smell and close quarters made her anxious. Coming together at the back of the truck, Blake held up his hand, motioning for Cassidy to stop.
Standing motionless, he listened; all he heard was the sound of glass underfoot as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other. Motioning to Cassidy again, he stepped inside the opening quickly, scanning the scene. Other than the debris from the door, the shop was fully intact. Dust had settled on the glass counters that held guns, jewelry and other expensive items. It was as if someone had closed up shop one night and never returned.
“This is bizarre,” Cassidy proclaimed.
“Who cares, grab the ammo. I’ll get the guns,” Blake replied sharply.
The pair hurried behind the counter, kicking up dust that glittered in the sunlight streaming through the entrance. Blake knelt down and began pounding on nearest lock with the butt of his gun as Cassidy assessed the stacks of ammunition boxes on the shelves. She separated out all the boxes of .22 and 9mm rounds and placed them in a cardboard box that was on the floor.
When the box was full she carried it out to the truck and placed it in the back seat. A gunshot rang out from within the shop and she raced back inside. Amidst the swirling dust she found Blake grinning slyly as he began removing guns from the case.
“What the hell?” she screamed.
“Figured it would be faster to just shoot the lock,” he replied. “Don’t forget to get extra clips. Oh, and grab the boxes of .357 and .45 too.”
He picked up each weapon and inspected it eagerly. He held the first one out and looked down the barrel as if to shoot, then pulled the slider back to examine the chamber. Once satisfied with the firearm, he placed it in a canvas bag and moved onto the next.
Behind the counter again, Cassidy collected ammunition for the new guns Blake had procured. Having rounded up all she could, she continued on to find spare clips for their weapons and dumped them in another box.
Once they had finished loading everything into the truck, they were back on their way. The road narrowed as it approached the bridge. The smell of decay was nearly overwhelming. All along the near riverbank were industrial complexes. It appeared that this town had been a bustling port, but now everything was still and silent.
The river appeared normal at first, but as they advanced, they noticed the fog that clung to it. The water was barely moving and looked filthy, dead animals and plants floated on the surface; a thin oily film covered it all. The far bank of the river was obscured by dead vegetation. Enormous trees had fallen, their branches dipped into the river. The caustic water was slowly killing everything it had nourished before the plague. Milling up and down the far embankment were hundreds of shamblers.
Ahead of them on the bridge they saw concrete barriers bordered with large iron blockades. Farther out, closer to the center of span, there were rows of fence topped with razor wire. The other side of the fence was crowded with undead. The throng pressed against the fence, hands outstretched through the links.
The vacant town began to make sense. Someone had ushered all the dead to the other side of the river and barricaded them there to keep the living safe. But something must have happened that caused the residents to leave; there had been no signs of life anywhere in the town.
“There is no way we’ll be able to get across here!” Blake fumed.
“The only other way to keep going south is to go through Portland,” Cassidy pointed out.
“Check the map again, there has to be another way.”
She opened the map and rechecked. They had to cross the river if they wanted to keep going south and the places were in Longview and Portland.
“There’s another bridge about 60 miles east of Portland, but it would add about a hundred and fifty miles. Plus, it goes through a national forest, so there’s no telling what the roads will be like,” Cassidy informed him.
“We’re already moving too slow as it is, we don’t need to add that much more,” Blake groaned in disapproval.
He shifted the truck into reverse and turned it around, heading back to the highway. Cassidy unbuckled her seat belt and slid into the back seat. She rifled through the supplies to find some candy bars from the convenience store and offered one to Blake. He took it happily and ripped the wrapper off, tossing it out the window while taking a large bite of the chocolate covered treat. While savoring hers, Cassidy began loading the new magazines for their guns.


A few hours had passed and they were just coming to the outskirts of Portland. Along the way they had seen a few infected mulling around, but not nearly as many as they had expected. Blake was worried; he knew the population in Portland was much more dense than Seattle. They had barely made it out of that city alive.
Seattle was one of the major cities that had appeared safe at first. When the outbreak occurred, it was locked down and turned into a quarantine camp. Anyone who was suspected of infection was moved to a separate area of the city that had been nicknamed The Dead Zone. The chill of winter kept the undead slow and easy to manage.
When spring was in full effect, the temperatures rose and the outbreak worsened. It all happened very quickly; the city was overrun with shamblers in one night. The couple stuck together through the chaos, it was like nothing they had ever experienced. People were being swarmed and eaten alive, then joining the horde against another helpless victim.
Blake and Cassidy had been on the road ever since they made it out. They didn’t have a specific destination in mind, they just kept moving away from the city. They knew they couldn’t stop anywhere for long. It seemed that no matter where they were, if they stayed too long they would be overwhelmed.
They had passed a few signs indicating the city was ahead and were just coming to a split in the highway. It was late afternoon and Blake decided it was time to stop for the night. He didn’t want to get stuck inside the city after dark. He pulled the truck onto the shoulder of the road and through a gaping hole in the fence. Ahead was a medical complex, they were only a couple blocks from a hospital.
Blake steered the truck towards a two-story building, he knew from experience that shamblers had issues with stairs. All of the doors and windows appeared intact. He pulled the truck alongside the main glass doors as close as he could and put it into park. He shut off the truck’s engine and stepped out with his gun in hand. He fired 3 shots into the front door of the building; the glass shattered but did not fall.
Cassidy quickly stuffed a backpack full of things they’d need; she packed water, food and other assorted items. She stepped out of the truck while Blake tucked his gun into his belt and walked to a nearby ashtray. He hefted it through the double doors, sending glass shards flying. Inside, they began fortifying the entrance by cramming anything they could move into the doorway. When they felt relatively secure with their fortification they began looking around the building.
Immediately inside the building to the right was a pharmacy. There was a large staircase on the left that led up to the second level. An elevator was set into the wall behind the staircase. At the back of the lobby there were doors that led into offices. Blake advanced on the doors while Cassidy kept watch in the lobby. He checked each door; a couple of them were locked but most led to a maze of cubicles and administrative offices.
Through one set of double doors Blake found a small warehouse full of medical equipment and supplies. One wall of the facility was equipped with a roll up door and parked in front of it was a medical transport. He grabbed the chain and pulled, slowly raising the door. When there was a big enough gap, Blake slid underneath and looked around. Right there, next to the building was a backup generator and on the wall behind it was a ladder that led up to the roof. He slipped back under the door, closed it, and went back out to the lobby.
Motioning for Cassidy to stay in the lobby, Blake bounded up the stairs. On the second level of the building he checked each room individually; he found doctors’ offices and exam rooms down each corridor. Blake was satisfied they were alone in the building and went back downstairs.
“Looks like the place is deserted,” Blake asserted. “Gather stuff we can use from that pharmacy while I pull the truck into the warehouse.”
Cassidy nodded in agreement. She walked to the nearby waiting area, picked up a chair, and used it to bash open the door to the pharmacy. Inside she found some baskets that she filled with everything she could. As each basket was filled, she placed them outside the door to be loaded into their vehicle.
Back in the warehouse, Blake bashed open the locked box on the wall next to the desk and found the keys for the medical van. He quickly rolled open the door then drove the van out and parked it next to the generator. He did a quick scan of the area nearby and found no movement.
Getting out of the van, Blake sprinted to the front of the building and jumped in his truck. He drove to the opening and backed his truck in. Once inside, he shut the engine off and quickly went back outside to the generator. The fuel tank was empty, so he used his hand pump to move fuel from the medical van to the generator.
As Blake was transferring the fuel, Cassidy had finished rounding up supplies and began to carry them to the truck in the warehouse. She was happy with what she had found. Not only did she get stuff they’d need, like antibiotics, pain killers, and rubbing alcohol; she also got into the place’s lockbox of narcotics. After she had loaded the baskets into the truck, she pocketed a bottle of little blue pills for tonight.
“We’ll have power tonight!” Blake called out as he finished fueling up the generator.
The generator whirred loudly as it sprang to life. Blake rolled the door shut and grabbed a couple cases of beer from the truck. Back inside the building, he found what appeared to be a break room and opened the refrigerator. The room filled with a putrid stench; whatever had been left had spent months closed inside and was nothing more than a foul mess.
Blake closed the door quickly and proceeded to the office area with Cassidy following closely. They found a mini-fridge in one of the offices that was mostly empty except for some bottled water. He put the cases of beer inside to cool.

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