Chapter 21

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Chapter 21

Holly and Jack bickered back and forth about whether we should try to barricade down the frozen foods aisle. I quietly sneaked away as they busied themselves, stacking up cardboard boxes to block the vampire's line of vision to our lair.

Armed with only a cell phone, I crept toward the origin of the scream.

A cold breeze came raging through the back of the Walmart. Shelves were knocked over. A crushed box of Cheerios was scattered across the floor. A door was swinging aimlessly in the wind and banging against the wall. I raised my hands to my face to shield myself from the wind.

Droplets of water pelted my skin. No. It must be my imagination. The rain couldn't be falling in here. After I rounded a corner, the wind subdued a little. I took in the gruesome mess in the hallway leading to the cargo bay area.

The vampires had come through this way. I could tell by the smears of blood on the wall. There were handprints of red on the plaster. The teenaged girl, who had been with the family in aisle four, had met her end here. Her body was still warm. She didn't die long ago.

Half of her face had been eaten, and her right leg was ripped clean off her body. Her open eyes with the eyelids ripped away, and her missing lower jaw made her look perpetually surprised. Touching the remains of her neck, I felt no pulse.

It was as though the dead girl was trying to tell me she didn't expect to die that day. No, she probably woke up that morning, brushed her hair, put on that green sundress, painted her toenails, and thought she would meet a boy today. Now, the leg with the matching toenails laid across the room with several hunks of meat gnawed off it.

I stared at her limp, rag-doll body, unable to tear my eyes away. She had once been so pretty, so healthy, so unlike me.

Her wide, lifeless brown eyes told me she didn't expect to be fatally kissed by a vampire today. Well, I didn't expect to still be alive at this point. I stepped over her corpse as I headed to the loading zone cargo area. Carefully making my way around the pool of blood around her body, I continued down the hallway.

In the cargo bay, I found two remaining humans — the toddler boy, and his father. The crying boy was cowering in a corner. His father was defending him with a pistol in one hand and a blowtorch in the other. I walked up to the rusty railing overlooking the cargo bay. I couldn't explain it, but I was suddenly very aware of my heartbeats.

It's strange how as you face death, suddenly you become very cognizant of being alive. My body wanted to run, to leave these poor people behind. Yet, I stood there, staring — no —gawking, uselessly.

"Run, Roger!" The father yelled. In one sudden motion, he grabbed the boy in one arm and shoved him overhead onto the walkway beside me.

The father emptied a couple of bullets into the nearest vampire. When the pistol clicked and failed to fire, he threw aside the gun and picked up a nearby piece of scrap wood. I watched him beat the vampires back toward the open door. I ran across the walkway and grabbed the boy. As I backed away towards the door back into the store, I saw a vampire bite down on the father's neck.

*

I scrambled back into the store, clutching the wailing toddler boy in my arms. His unrelenting screams attracted the attention of every undead creature within miles.

"Shhh, shhh," I said as I smoothed back his dark, tangled hair. I even tried bouncing him up and down to calm him down. Although he was just a little boy, he still weighed a good thirty pounds or so. The effort took a lot out of me, and I felt my chest tightening up again.

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