Back then ...
Finally we couldn't stall any longer, so I said, "I guess we head out now?" It wasn't really late in the day, but still night fell fast in the mountains and the storm added to the intensity of the feeling. Lindy seemed to understand we had to get in and out fast, but I wasn't sure she knew how bad the weather could get in minutes. Ginny looked pale, but ready to go with us. Dean looked like he was totally out of it. As we hit the snow, I saw Lindy skitter on the sidewalk and wince. She must have hit an icy spot.
"Careful, Lindy, it's really slippery out here." Ginny tried to sound understanding but she had the right shoes on and was surefooted. Dean even looked like he knew his way around winter. Lindy looked like she needed a latte and a scone inside a safe coffee house where winter was a mere half inch of powder during a 'big storm' -- damn city folks. Then I noticed she winced again as she put her weight on her ankle. The lady didn't weigh much, so I wondered if she'd been hurt when she slipped. Then I saw she was actually not meeting any of our eyes. The chick was hiding something, I knew it. But then weren't we all kinda hiding something?
The trip down the alley to the back of the hotel went fine. I didn't spot anyone or anything on the way -- that was bizarre but kinda good, 'cause nothing in the town I'd seen in the past few days, other than Dean and Lindy, clocked in as normal. I knew where the kitchen entrance was in the back of the hotel and where they kept the spare key. My uncle's sister-in-law ran the hotel kitchen when it was open. He told me where the key was a year ago in case she needed help moving stuff or doing dishes if the help flaked. The help flaked often, so I was pretty much family at the hotel. Plus they paid me under the table so it was win-win.
It didn't take us long to clear out the basics from their room, and Ginny took the time to clear out some other supplies from the maid's closet. We pretty much had everything we needed for the long haul. Soon we ventured out the front and towards the SUV. My eyes were flipping back and forth, and I saw that Lindy was doing the same thing. Dean was looking nowhere and Ginny was watching Dean. I don't know why, but it bugged me.
Lindy had Dean sit in the back with Ginny and let me sit in the passenger seat.
"Keep an eye out and let me know if you see anything off, Sammy. Okay?" She shot me an evil glare and I nodded while asking over my shoulder for Ginny to hand me one of the revolvers she had in her purse. Lindy already had started dragging around a backpack, but Ginny was trying to pretend everything was still normal. She quickly handed me a baby gun -- measly thirty-eight -- but they didn't jam, so it was okay.
We drove down the road slowly, then I pointed to the small street right before the building we'd been squatting in, that ran into the alley where we could load up the SUV and get the fuck out of town. We'd not seen anyone on the trip, so I was relieved but still watching.
It was like everyone had disappeared but us. That was freaky.
We made it to the back of the building and exited the SUV and went inside. Nothing had changed, but in a way, everything had. I was nervous, but Lindy strode inside like she wasn't worried. That made one of us. Dean looked like he'd swallowed his tongue and Ginny was nearly shaking in her boots. Trust the tourist to think it was okay. But she was right. There weren't any mercenaries inside or zombies. Just us.
It took us about an hour to fill the SUV with the best supplies and the four of us. Thankfully it was a damn tank. There were three rows of seats and storage in the back. The top had racks, so after lowering the seats and cramming everything necessary in the back and on the roof, we were soon able to head out.
I wasn't so sure about it back then, what would happen once we headed out to try to escape the crappy-ass town, but then what did I know? After all, I was just a kid.
I fell back on the extremely comfortable bed in the Boca Raton 'sleep clinic,' and wondered why I picked Florida of all the states available to me. I was pretty damn sure that had been Sammy from West Virginia that I'd seen on the monitor in my room, so now I was trying to figure out what the hell is going on here? I hadn't come down here chasing zombies, but hoping to find some peace.
Yeah, I'd become a zombie slayer after all the crap in West Virginia. I was up there half a dozen years -- don't ask me precisely how long, because there were too many blurry times that I truly don't want to recall.
Once I'd escaped that crazy-ass state, I was able to collect quite the paycheck from my bosses. I'd negotiated a sweet deal to not reveal what I'd seen ... from the government along with my real estate company, because my life had been endangered -- I'd had a clause in my employment contract that most attorneys tended to miss, but I hadn't.
The non-compete clause usually signed with employment was buttered up with that little tidbit; that wasn't something most folks encountered when trying to get land purchased. I was big on reading everything I signed in life and that had struck me as silly. The non-compete clause was what my boss wanted me to focus on in the event I left and went to work in the industry for a competitor -- that was an actionable and enforceable contract. Worked both ways, because the 'endangered' part was sweet and had a major paycheck by the time I was through. Even though I didn't have any cell phone snaps to show them, there'd been plenty footage on the local news recorded to substantiate my claims. Six figures plus from both sides was the net result. The nightmares were free.
I'd spent too much cleaning up zombie nests in West Virginia before I grew jaded and so very worn that finally, I was concerned that I'd go bat-shit crazy, and decided I needed to get out of zombie killing for a bit. I had just got down to Florida a few months ago. One of my associates had told me about the 'sleep clinic.' She'd guaranteed that I'd be able to crash unmolested as long as needed. Naturally the price was stupid expensive, but I had the money, so whatever.
Sitting watching the monitor that was focused outside the room, I didn't see anyone walking past. None of the bells and whistles in the room were beeping or blaring, so I settled back and pondered what I was going to do in Florida. As far as I knew there weren't any zombies here yet, but from the rumors there were definitely vampires and probably trolls and ogres. Fun, fun ... ten years ago I didn't have a clue what was going on in the real world. One damn trip up into West Virginia and my whole existence flipped out of my known world and into something beyond my comprehension.
I got off the bed and went to the 'suite' part of the room. There was a small kitchen with a fridge and microwave. I'd paid extra and had an actual oven, not just the toaster oven. The cabinets beneath the hardwood counter tops were full of top of the line pots and pans, while the cabinets above had quality dishes and stemware. The fridge had some good chardonnay, and there were assorted fresh veggies and aged cheeses. I liked I liked to cook when I got a chance. Not that I'd had much of a chance in the past half dozen years. It was funny, because when I was in real estate, I was focused on making money and surviving. I appreciated being able to make my own food after all the crap in my life. It was a pleasure, not a chore.
When I'd made my reservation to stay for two weeks I was asked what I needed. Clueless about what was available locally, I requested a checklist for cooking supplies. The Trader Joe's nearby sent an elaborate choice of foods and liquids. The butcher store to the West -- Western Beef I think it was -- offered cuts of exotic meats that I wasn't sure what they were. Google, being my friend, gave me far too much information about what the pieces were. Let's put it this way, it wasn't anything off an animal that I'd intentionally eat. The other visitors probably had even more eclectic offerings not found in local stores. But having checked the 'Human' box on the form when sending in my reservation did narrow my choices. I knew that there were other 'residents' behind the doors and walls that surrounded me that hadn't checked the 'Human' box. But this was a safe haven for all that qualified. I had to be vetted before I was even allowed to reserve a room, much less know where in Florida they were.
Looking around the comfortable suite, I wondered if I'd ever venture out of the room. I'd been here only three days so far, but I hadn't left the room. There weren't any windows for obvious reasons, but there were large screen televisions with scenery that was from other places and mocked a view. It worked for me. So far.
Seeing Sammy had me bothered. Why was he here? I mean he wasn't one to care much for anyone but his own damn self and that girl, Ginny. As a teenager, he'd been a future convict from everything I'd seen. His sense of self-preservation was ingrained from birth. I grabbed a bottled water from the fridge and sat down in the chair furthest from the monitor. I knew that they had small cameras set up all over -- part of the cost and security -- but I felt better not being anywhere near the door at the moment. There was a second door tucked away near the chair that led to a hallway and then down a set of stairs to an exterior exit that could be used to escape or simply to head outside. Grant had showed me all of the security features when showing me into my suite. He made sure to inform me that every corner of the place was monitored. When he got to the bathroom, I found myself looking around for any camera lens.
Laughing, Grant had said, "The restroom has a camera facing out of the room, and a motion sensor inside so if there is anyone inside you will know from the panel here and be able to see who walked in on the small screen." He tapped a few buttons, and I saw that a maid with a cart had gone in a few hours prior and exited a half hour or so later. "We monitor this set up from down in the security suite, and make sure that nobody is hiding in wait, and you are undisturbed while in the restroom."
I'd been impressed and relieved to hear that they weren't going to watch me showering and all. The little things in life that I could afford.
Relaxing, I wondered that I was still alive after everything that had gone on with Sammy, Dean and Ginny. Shaking my head, I felt myself drifting back to that time.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2016-05-30
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.