Read Apocalypse Empire (Book 1): Apocalypse Origins Online
Authors: R.A. Neely
"You bit?" one of them asked.
"No, we're fine," James replied.
The employees opened the door and quickly ushered them
inside. "We'll have to check you for bites just to be sure," one of
Greg nodded. That seemed fair. He show his arms and lifted
his shirt so they could see he was bite free. James did the same. The employees
nodded that they were satisfied.
"Alright, you look clean. The rules are business as
usual. That means no pushing or fighting or any nonsense like that. No fighting
"That's fair," James said, "I have to ask,
you do know what's going on right?"
One of the employees nodded. "Of course we know. Why do
you think we checked you for bites?"
"I mean you're keeping the store like nothing's
wrong," James responded.
"We've taken precautions," the employee said
indicating his bat. "Besides, the boss is confident that this will all
blow over in a few days. So, he figures why not make some money."
"Fair enough," James replied. They each grabbed a
cart and headed out into the store. To their surprise, everyone seemed to be
acting in an orderly manner.
"This can't possibly last," Greg said in a low
"It won't," James responded in an equally low
voice. "But, it makes our task here easier."
Greg nodded. That was true. He supposed he should enjoy
while it lasted. They'd probably be fighting through infected at some point
soon enough. Their first stop was the tent section. They grabbed four tents.
One for James and Laura, one for Carol and Maddy, and one for Greg and Junior.
They thought it would be a good idea to have an extra tent in case something
happened to the others. After the tents they went and looked for other
gear such as a camp stove, lanterns, and sleeping bag. They made great progress
on the list until they got to clothes.
"So you don't know what size Carol wears?" James
"How would I possibly know that?"
"Well, you've been making eyes at her for a while
"It wasn't like that. I never tried anything because
she worked for me."
"What's your excuse now?"
"Wait. How do you know what size Laura wears?"
"How would I not know? She's dragged me shopping with
her enough that I caught on."
"I think I'll just grab several sizes and hope for the
James chuckled. "Sure, if you want to play safe. If you
want to score some points, you should show up with the right size."
Greg snorted. "I don't need points. I saved her life
today that has to count for something."
James chuckled. "Alright. Let's just throw an
assortment of clothes in the cart. We'll need boots too. "
Their list complete, they took their carts to the register.
Greg barely blinked win the bill totaled over a thousand dollars. Normally, he
would have had a huge problem with that. Dealing with people trying to kill you
had a way of putting things in perspective however. They loaded their purchases
into the van and headed towards their next top. They pulled into the parking
lot of a small grocery store and saw that things were a little more chaotic
here. Cars were parked haphazardly and people heading into the store were
shoving to be the first inside.
"Looks like it's starting," Greg said.
"Yeah," James said with a nod, "doesn't look
too bad just yet though. Good thing we decided to do this today."
Greg looked at all their gear in the back of the van.
"Think all of this is safe? Should one of us stay back?"
"I think we're okay," James replied. "I think
people are out trying to get what they can but it hasn't quite reached the
point where they're stealing from each other yet."
Greg nodded. "Alright then. Let's get in and out."
They left the vehicle and headed inside. They each grabbed a
cart and took a portion of the shopping list. They figured it would go faster
here if they split up. Greg was looking at soup when a commotion down the aisle
drew his attention. Two middle aged women looked ready to come to blows over
some product or other. Greg shook his head. This was just a glimpse of the days
ahead. Right now, people were probably just hoarding thinking that the
government would be along in a few days and everything would go back to normal.
Greg wasn't so sure that was going to happen. Once other people realized that,
things would start getting violent.
Greg felt there were basically two kinds of people. Those
that followed the laws for some intrinsic reason and those that followed for
fear of the consequences. With the police force out of the picture, that second
segment of the population would start realizing they could get away with pretty
much anything now. Greg left the soup aisle and head for the next item on his
list when the cart came to a sudden halt.
Looking up he saw a man, probably in his twenties, holding
tightly to the side of his cart. The man wore a ratty looking leather jacket
and equally ratty jeans. His pupils were dilated and he was breathing heavily.
"Can I help you with something," Greg asked in a
"Gimme your cart," the man said.
"No," Greg said with a slight frown. He gestured
back the way he had come. "There's still a few things in the store. You
can get your own cart."
The man shook his head. "I don't have no money. So I’m
gonna need your cart."
"I’m sorry," Greg said, "I’m not giving you
The man released the cart and stepped back. "You give
it to me or I'm gonna take it!" He reached into his pocket and drew out a
switchblade. He flicked hit open and gave Greg a wicked smile.
"Betcha you wanna give me that cart now, dontcha?"
Greg sighed. He figured they'd have another day or two
before something like this would happen. This guy did look like he was on
something though. Plus, he mentioned he didn't have any cash so he was already
desperate. Greg glanced in the cart. It was piled high with soups and other dry
goods. On another day, Greg might have let this slide. It simply wasn't worth
getting into a fight over something like this. Things were different now
though. The shelves were nearly empty so he couldn't just hand this over and
expect to get another cart load. They needed this stuff to survive. The cart literally
represented life for his group. They wouldn't survive long without food to eat.
Greg shrugged. "I'm still not giving you the
cart." Before the man could respond, Greg stepped around the cart and
kicked the man in the groin. As he bent over in pain, Greg grabbed his knife
hand and twisted it cruelly, forcing him to drop the knife to the ground. Greg
then hit him in the back on the head with his elbow and the man fell to the
ground unconscious. Greg heard footsteps behind him and whirled to face the
new threat. He relaxed when he saw James standing there with a grin on his
"I leave you alone for five minutes...."
"Funny," Greg said as he chuckled.
"What happened?" James asked.
"He wanted the cart. I disagreed."
James nodded as if that was enough for him. "Well, I've
got everything on my list. What about you?"
"Same here. I'm ready to go."
They headed towards the cash registers up front when they
heard a number of people start screaming. They looked at each other.
"Infected you think?" Greg asked.
"Probably. Best to assume that I think."
"Let's find a rear exit. They've gotta have a loading
dock or something."
James nodded and drew his pistol with one hand and pulled
the cart with the other. Greg followed suit and they headed towards the rear of
the store. They quickly heard chaos all around them as people began running
away from whatever was happening at the front of the store. Greg heard a growl
behind him and turned to see two infected charging towards them. Two shots put
both of them down.
"Aren't you glad I dragged you the range now?"
James asked as they dragged their carts along.
"Yeah, I guess I am."
"Remember how much you pissed and moaned? ’I don't need
to use a gun, I know krav maga.'"
Greg chuckled. "Yeah, I remember."
"Good. I just want to point out that in the future,
when I have an idea you should do it without whining."
Greg laughed. "Fair enough. I guess you owed me that
James laughed. He quickly turned serious as roar came from
the side. He lined up his shot and put it down without slowing down. He smiled
again. "I sure did. Can't wait to tell Laura when we get back."
They reached the rear of the store and saw a set of double
doors that led to the back area of the store. They pulled their carts inside
and saw rows and rows of pallets filled with various goods. They walked along
cautiously until they reached a large loading door. They looked around for a
button and found it after a few minutes of searching, it wasn't located next to
the door for some reason. Unfortunately, pushing the button didn't give them
the result they wanted.
"Is it locked?" Greg asked.
"Must be. I have no idea how to open it."
Greg glanced back towards the front of the store. They could
still hear screams. "I guess asking an employee for help is out."
"Probably." James pointed towards a corner. I see
a red light over there. Emergency exit maybe?"
"Let's find out," Greg replied. They took their
carts and headed over and were relieved to see another set of double doors
leading outside. Greg saw a sign near the door and spared a second to look it
"Alarm will sound," he said.
James nodded. "That'll probably draw the infected this
"Alright, so we'll need to go out and book it for the
van. Just toss everything inside. We can sort it neatly back at the
James nodded. "You ready?"
At Greg's nod he pushed the door open with his cart and
headed outside. A screeching alarm sounded and they figured they didn't have
long before the infected came their way. They both took off running, pushing
the carts in front of them. They rounded the corner of the building and headed
back towards the parking lot. It looked even worse now. It looked like some
people had managed to make their way out the front and get to their cars.
Unfortunately, no one wanted to wait for anyone else and there were several
cars smashed together.
They reached their car and quickly started throwing
everything inside. Both were breathing heavily but they weren't winded. Part of
their training in krav maga involved a great deal of cardio so they were both
in excellent shape. They were both grateful for that right now. Once everything
was loaded they got inside and James headed for a side exit in the parking lot.
"I'm not going near that main exit," James said.
"Don't blame you," Greg said. A loud screech
behind them got his attention and he turned around to look. It looked as if
some more people had ended up in an accident.
"Definitely a good idea," Greg said.
"That was intense," James said. "Do we head
home now or keep going?"
"Keep going," Greg said, "it's only going to
get worse right?"
James nodded. "True. James drove along until he found a
gas station that was relatively empty. He filled up the van while Greg went
inside to see if they had any gas cans. Greg returned a few minutes later with
three cans and used another pump to fill them.
"Do you think the power will be affected by all
this?" he asked.
James nodded. "Indirectly at least. Don't think the
grid will be damaged but the people who run the station are probably dealing
with the same thing we are."
"That makes sense," Greg replied with a nod. He
finished filling his first can and started on the second.
"What are you thinking?"
"I don't know," Greg said," just thinking
about what to do next. We said we want to leave the city but we haven't said
where. After that back there, I'm wondering is anywhere safe? What if this
stuff is everywhere?
"That's true," James replied, "If there were
just a few people on an airplane..."
"It could be spreading everywhere. So where do we go?
Is any place safe? I'm also wondering about the power. Things will be that much
harder if we lose that."
"We'll figure it out, man. What matters is that we're
all safe right now. Let's focus on that. We'll figure out the rest as we go
Greg nodded as he started filling the third can.
"Alright, do we want to hit the gas station for some food? Maybe they have
power bars or something. That would be good if we don't want to take the time
to make food for some reason."
"Good idea," James replied. "I'm done
here," he said as he replaced the nozzle. "I'll head inside. Maybe
you should stay out here and watch the van."
Greg nodded as he thought about the incident in the grocery
store. If some people were already getting desperate, it wasn't a good idea to
leave their things unattended. "Yeah, go ahead. I'll keep an eye on
James headed inside and returned a few minutes later loaded
down with plastics bags. He chuckled when he saw Greg's raised eyebrow.
"Why stop at power bars? Might as well enjoy some
snacks while we can. I was standing in there and I thought it would be sad that
no one would be making some of that stuff anymore. So we might as well eat it
"Can't argue with that," Greg said with a laugh.
Greg finished filling the last can and they took a few
moments to load everything inside the van. They were both grateful for an
uneventful trip home but they did take note of some changes they saw as they
arrived in their neighborhood. This morning things appeared relatively normal but
now things were a bit different. Several families could be seen loading up
their vehicles, they were likely intent on getting out of town as soon as
possible. Some driveways had cars parked at random angles as if the driver had
been in a hurry to get home.