Chapter Three Part Two - Pharmacy

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 Annalise stared at the self-inflicted scars upon her arm. Most of the time she could ignore them and that's how she preferred it but Ken's current condition brought back memories of her family. It was a different situation, of course, but she had been unable to save her parents and siblings, just as she was unable to save Ken. He had been the first person she had encountered after the event whom she knew she could trust with her life and to have his hanging in the balance...

“We're here, 'Lise.” Fiona's hand snaked through from the back seat and rested gently upon her shoulder.

She glanced out of the Range Rover's window and sure enough, she saw they had come to a stop outside the pharmacy. Next door was a hardware store and on the opposite corner, a bookmakers. Neither held any interest to Annalise. Her intention was to strip the pharmacy of anything that could be remotely useful and get back to Ken in an effort to save his life.

She clambered out of the vehicle, as did Fiona and Jack, the latter of whom had been driving, and quickly walked to the identical vehicle parked directly in front.

“Stay here,” she said to Sarah through the open window. “We're massively exposed so we're going to have to be quick. Fiona will wait with you whilst Jack and I ensure the coast is clear, then if it's all good you and the boys can go in and fill those sacks with anything and everything.”

“Assuming there is anything,” said Fiona, quietly.

“There has to be, Fi,” said Annalise with a helpless smile. “How many other pharmacies have we tried? Even if there's just something to dull Ken's pain a little, it's worth it.”

“I know,” the other woman replied, holding her arm much less awkwardly than she had been. It was healing nicely, although she would likely never have full use of it again. “Be quick... As you say, I don't like being out in the open like this.”

With a nod, Annalise signalled to Jack that she was ready. She drew her sword as he gripped the sledgehammer tightly. Ken could hardly stand, let alone wield his weapon, and he had insisted that it go out on the run.

The glass windows that made up the front of the pharmacy were intact, which was most definitely a good sign. Annalise gently touched the door and applied a little pressure, pleased to discover that it was locked.

At least that meant it was quite likely to be clear inside and hopefully, the shelves would be well stocked, too.

As good a thing as the locked door was, it did mean smashing the window to gain entry. She rapped gently upon the glass and listened for any sign of life or movement from within.

“We're good,” she said quietly almost a minute later, and drew her arm back as she prepared to smash the glass with the hilt of her sword. With a gesture of his hand Jack stopped her.

“Allow me,” he said. “Should be able to do this without making too much noise.”

He ran his hand down the centre of the double doors, more symbolic than necessary, until the reached the point at which a single lock kept the two doors closed. He then positioned the sledgehammer in line, holding the head a few inches away, and with considerable force drove the hammer into the doors. They swung open to the maximum that their stoppers allowed, giving the two raiders a quick glimpse inside, showing them that the shelves were indeed fully stocked.

They stepped inside. It was only a small area, ten feet square at the most, with shelves upon the walls both left and right with free-standing racks in the centre.

“Keep watch here,” said Annalise. “I'll check we're secure at the back before we allow Sarah and the boys inside.”

Jack nodded and with her sword aloft – roughly at neck height – Annalise made her way towards the preparation area behind the counter where the prescription medication was kept. She trod cautiously. Just because there had been no sound of Zed activity did not mean there were none – she had made that mistake before.

At the rear of the preparation area was a single door. She considered opening it to see what was beyond but realised there was no need. Everything they needed was located the side of the door which she currently stood. There were two bolts on the door, top and bottom, and as she shot them both across she breathed a sigh of relief before heading back to the entrance.

“We're clear,” she said, beckoning to Sarah, signalling that it was safe for her, Fawaz and Richard to enter. They quickly clambered from the vehicle and accompanied by Fiona, made their way over. The two boys carried rucksacks whilst Sarah held a large refuse sack. “Go, and be quick. Get everything. We'll keep watch.”

Sarah nodded and led the boys inside whilst Annalise, Jack and Fiona guarded the doors. It was only a couple of minutes later that a figure appeared from the woods on the other side of the wide road. He wasn't a Zed, although he barely looked human either. His enormously unkempt beard was clearly visible from what was probably forty feet. When he spoke he did so in a booming, incredibly loud and Zed-attracting voice.

“Halt! Who goes there?”

Frantically, Annalise attempted to quiet the man by way of gestures. That did not work in the slightest, however.

“How dare you tell me to be quiet in my Kingdom! Do you not know who I am?”

Jack nodded towards the sledgehammer, indicating that he would quite happily shut the man up for good, but after a few seconds' though Annalise shook her head.

Having received no reply the man, clearly offended, boomed again, his crazily wide eyes darting all over the place.

“You should bow down before your God!”

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