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AtoZ2014: Under

Under

Gerald heaved himself over the window’s sill and dropped to the ground under it. He bent his knees as he hit the ground, but it didn’t stop him from falling backward onto the asphalt. Sitting up, he knew he had to move, but the fall had winded him just a little. After a pause, he stood and moved to the left, his gaze tuned to the window about 12 feet above him.

Inside, Doug scrambled up the ladder as Bill held it in place. Getting to the window, he pushed the pane open and looked outside. Seeing Gerald, he smiled. It was a good sign that the first man down hadn’t hurt himself during the plummet.

Swinging his leg over the sill, Doug sat on the edge, trying to figure out the best way to swing the other leg over and then drop. He knew he didn’t have much time, but didn’t want to make an error in his haste either.

“Doug?” It was Bill.

“I’m going Bill; just need a second to orient myself. You gonna be okay to get up the ladder after I’m gone?”

“I’m actually wondering if it’s best you stay there until I join you.”

“Whaddya mean?”

“Well, if you’re perched there, you can hold the ladder at least a little bit for me. It’s likely not going to shift, but it would be nice to know there are a set of hands on at least one end as I climb.”

“Ummm, sure,” Doug said as he bent to take the top rung in both hands. It was awkward, but if it meant everyone getting out safely, he was willing to suffer through the discomfort.

“Doug, what’s taking you so long?” Gerald yelled from the ground.

Doug looked down and said, “I’m holding the ladder from this end while Bill climbs. He thought it would be more helpful if I did.”

Gerald’s face scrunched up at the news and then returned to normal. “Okay, just hurry up!”

Bill started to climb the ladder, getting to the top in short order. He swung his leg over the sill, just barely missing Doug’s head in the process.

“Okay what do we do now?” Doug asked as he looked from the hordes below him to the outside.

“We need to drop to the ground and get back to the church before Razor and his friends find us,” Bill answered. “Now you swing your other leg over and drop down. I’ll wait here while you do.”

Doug let go of the ladder, expecting it to drop but it stayed where it was as he maneuvered his right leg over the edge and dropped until he hung on by his fingertips. The ground came sooner than he thought it would and he forgot to bend with the fall. Pain shot up his left leg, up through his knee, causing him to stumble and fall.

Gerald was there immediately, his hands checking for breaks. Finding none, he pulled Doug to his feet and away from the space under the window.

“You okay Doug?” Bill asked from his perch above them.

“Yeah, I think so…” Doug answered, pain colouring his voice. “Nothing broken at least. Let’s hope it’s just a sprain.”

Bill soon joined them on the ground without incident and the trio took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief. It was a narrow escape, but they had no time to waste. They needed to get away from the warehouse and hope that no one saw them escape.

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Tunnel

Tunnel

“How the fuck are we going to get over there?” Gerald wondered aloud. The window was about a hundred feet across the warehouse from them and they no longer had access to the floor.

“We’re going to use the ladder to cross from shelf to shelf,” Bill stated, his eyes never leaving the window.

Gerald glanced down at the floor below them, at the faces which stared up at them, imagining he could see the hunger in the eyes of the undead. One small error in crossing would mean death for them. “Are you sure?”

“Have you got a better idea?”

“Uhhh, no.”

“Then we have to at least give it a try. Otherwise we’re stuck here until something else happens.” Bill’s logic was sound as he added, “Besides, I have a feeling that Razor and his friends aren’t going to just leave us here to sort this mess out for ourselves. They’ll be back and I don’t want to be here when they do.”

Grabbing the ladder and making toward the end of the shelving unit, Bill looked back at Doug, “You about ready to come with us?”

Doug focussed on him and nodded, his hands falling back to his sides. Resigned, he followed the pair across the planked surface of the top shelf.

At the edge, the trio looked down, seeing the crowd of decomposing bodies reaching up for them. Gerald and Bill struggled to line the awkward weight of the ladder across the divide, almost losing to it to the ground more than once. Finally seating it, they stood and gathered their wits. Each one knew the dangers, but they’d have to stow it all away if they wanted to get out of the warehouse alive.

“Okay Gerald, you go first, then Doug. Once you’re both across I’ll bring up the rear. If we’re careful and quick, I think we can cross to the shelf closest to the window in about half an hour or less. That should give us lots of time before they’ll come back to check on us.”

Gerald nodded and placed a foot onto the first rung of the ladder, opting to walk across instead of crawl. His progress was slow and there were a few moments where balance acted as his enemy, but Gerald was able to cross safely. It was Doug’s turn.

Opting to place his trust in his hands and knees, Doug began to crawl across the rungs of the ladder, trying very hard not to look down to see the horde that reached up for him.

A slip of his hand on one of the treads caused Doug to collapse on the ladder, his gaze riveted to the hands that fell just a few feet short of him. He hugged the steel frame, his eyes squeezing shut.

“Doug, you’re going to need to move man!” Bill said from where he stood. There was no way he’d be able to cross if Doug didn’t get off the ladder and there was no way he wanted to linger any longer than he had to. Besides, there was no telling if the ladder would hold both of their weights without buckling.

Doug knew he needed to move. He knew he needed to get back on his knees and get to the other side. Focussing his gaze, he stared at Gerald, his vision tunnelling until all he could see was the opposite side. Finding the strength to move, he clamoured quickly to the end of the ladder, his foot jarring the frame toward the edge.

Both Gerald and Bill screamed, the pair rushing to save the ladder that would grant them possible salvation. By the skin of his teeth, Gerald just managed to get a hand on the top rung as it began to fall, the opposite end still on the side with Bill.

But Bill had grabbed the ladder as well, beginning to pull it toward him, with Gerald in tow. It all happened so quickly, Gerald being pulled off the shelf by Bill, and Doug turning to grab onto Gerald’s legs before it was too late. All the while the hands strained from below, trying to reach the impossible heights of their prey.

Doug pulled Gerald back onto the shelf, collapsing on top of him once he was sure he was safe. The pair stayed in a heap, collecting their breaths before reseating the ladder for Bill. In a few moments Bill was across as well and they were moving onto the next chasm.

Finally getting to the last shelf, the sized up what they had to do next. The window was just a short distance away, but it was over zombie-infested ground. Deciding to use the ladder, they propped it against the wall, Gerald scaling it to investigate the window and what was on its other side. He pushed it open to survey the asphalt below.

It was clear, but how would they all be able to get out? Someone needed to hold the ladder tight against the wall; otherwise it might slip and toss the last person to his death…

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Square

Square

It was the sound that any of them would have like to have heard. But life had a way of throwing a square peg into a round hole every once in a while…

With the first shriek, the group knew they were in the fight of their lives. Backtracking as quickly as they could, they looked for an option that would take them off the floor and out of the creature’s direct line of sight. It was their only chance.

“There!” Gerald said as he pointed to a ladder that leant against one of the shelving units.

Quickly scaling the ladder, all but one of the men made it up the ladder before the horde descending upon them. Screaming as he was plucked from the steel frame, Kevin fought off the monsters, but soon lost the battle as he was overwhelmed. Looking down, the rest of the group saw the faces of those who didn’t get a bit sizing up the ladder, the first trying to coordinate its limbs to climb.

“Pull the fucking ladder up now!” Bill yelled as he assessed the situation from the higher vantage point.

Doug and Gerald started to haul the ladder up toward them, but felt the weight of the creature on its end. Shaking in unison, they tried to dislodge the hitchhiker. It didn’t work.

Pulling his gun up with one hand, Gerald took aim and fired, the head of the zombie exploding as its hand lost its grasp. Finally free of the weight, they brought the ladder quickly to the top and joined Bill in his survey.

Below them the feeding frenzy continued alongside the keening of the others who were denied a tasty morsel. The noise grated on their nerves in the confines of the warehouse; what was a large space reduced as the empty space was filled with shrieking.

“I don’t know how much I can take of this…” Doug held his hands over his ears, trying desperately to block out the noise but failing.

Bill and Gerald both gave him a look, recognizing Doug’s lack of seasoning in the field. The pair shared a look between them, their gaze communicating how neither one wanted to have to deal with a useless member of the team.

“You see that window over there?” Bill pointed to the left as the gaze of the other two followed in that direction. “If we can make it over there, I think we can get out of here.”

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Razor

Razor

The group immediately recognized the danger they were now in, falling back to a location where they could easily watch each other’s backs.

“We only fire if it’s absolutely necessary, got it?” Bill led the group with ultimate authority and wanted to ensure they didn’t waste their ammunition.

A voice interrupted from above them, “So fellas what have we caught in our web today?”

All eyes focussed on the darkness above them, knowing the voice had come out of it. The men struggled to peer into the shadows, to make out any shapes they could. The gloom hid their captors well.

“What do you want with us?” Bill asked the question as his gaze swept the dark above them. “Let us go and no one has to get hurt.”

His answer came in peals of laughter that echoed off the steel walls of the structure. “Hurt? You think you’ll be able to hurt us? Look at where you are…”

With no answer forthcoming from Bill, or any of the men for that matter, the strong voice continued, “You came into my warehouse and that’s something you need to remember.”

“Who are you?” It was worth taking the chance he’d answer.

“You can call me Razor.”

“What do you need in order to make this easy for us Razor? We just want to leave.”

Razor laughed again, “Leave? What makes you think you’ll be leaving?”

A noise from the back drew their attention. It sounded like nails being dragged down a chalkboard, many of the men sticking a finger into their ears in an attempt to relieve the irritation of the noise.

“You’d better go investigate if you want even a shred of a chance…”

The silence became sinister; Doug and the group knew what had likely been unleashed among them. Moving as a unit, they slunk through the darkened warehouse looking for confirmation, but not wanting to find it.

Rounding a corner the shriek caught them off-guard. Ahead lingered a large number of the undead, their heads in the air, smelling the subtly of their scents. As the slack faces turned to stare at them through dead eyes, visceral fear rooted in the hearts of the men. With no way out they were trapped and the monsters were unyielding in their resolve. They would stop at nothing until they caught their prey.

It was either kill or be killed, but would their ammo last? And what else was hiding in the dim corners of the warehouse? There was no telling how many other horrors Razor and his friends had waiting for them…

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

Doesn’t have much to do with this portion of the tale, but darkness is darkness…

5 Questions with Rachel Aukes

Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with Rachel Aukes, author of the Deadland Saga. For those of you unacquainted with Rachel, let’s take a moment to get to know her a little better…

RachelAukes_sunglasses (B&W)Rachel Aukes is the bestselling author of 100 Days in Deadland, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine and one of the best zombie books by the Huffington Post.Rachel lives in Iowa with her husband and an incredibly spoiled sixty-pound lap dog.When not writing, she can be found flying old airplanes and trying (not so successfully) to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.

Welcome Rachel! Let’s get into the question shall we? Tell us about your zombies? If the dead were to rise, do you think you’d stand a chance against them?

If the outbreak happened at a time I could get to one of my staging sites, then I think I’d stand a pretty good chance at riding out the zombie apocalypse (ZA) and fending off small hordes. If the outbreak happened when I was at my day job, many miles from home, it’d take a miracle to survive. (Note to self: start working on a day job bug-out plan).

Interesting answer – location does play a huge part doesn’t it? What was your first experience with zombie media? Was that experience what drew into writing the genre?

My first experience with zombie media was likely Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. I love his stuff, but it didn’t draw me into writing the genre. I think because we have such very different styles. Romero’s movies have a shock-horror feel to them (lots of screaming, a zombie ready to jump out from behind every corner), and I prefer my horror to be less “in your face.” Through the years, I’ve had some ideas for a ZA tale that focused on the human element, e.g., how far would we go to survive in a zombie apocalypse. But, it wasn’t until Dante’s “Inferno” popped into my brainpan that all the pieces finally came together. And so 100 Days in Deadland was born. With that said, Romero is still lord of the modern zombie, and as homage, the zombies in my tales are very similar to Romero’s in both their abilities and behaviour.

Now it’s time for the Pop Quiz: The item to your left is your only weapon during the Zombie Apocalypse. What is it and what do you think are your chances at survival?

A stack of paper. So, unless I can finish a zombie with a “death by a thousand cuts”, I’m screwed.

Yes, you are definitely screwed… List your five favourite pieces of Zombie media:

Limiting to just 5 faves is really tough! But I’ll try…

Zombieland: Just an awesome, fun movie.

The First Days by Rhiannon Frater: the first ZA book I read where women were more than helpless, screaming bimbos.

The Walking Dead tv show: I have a love/hate relationship with this show. They do great at building up characters (even if only to kill them), but the writers’ lazy use of obvious plot devices drives me nuts.

Joe McKinney’s books: Yup, pretty much any of Joe’s ZA books. He knows how to blend ZA with badass action heroes (both male and female, yay!) in a way that each book stands out on its own.

Comes the Dark by Patrick D’Orazio: The beginning pages of this book are so freaking intense and visual that I still have flashbacks months later.

Great choices! We all know that we sometimes have bad luck. Keeping that in mind, what song do you think would get stuck in your head, playing over and over again on an incessant loop?

I listen to rock like Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold, and Rise Against. With my luck, the last song on the radio that I’d hear before the ZA would be something by Jason Bieber. If a pop song got stuck in my head, dying early in the ZA wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Oh god, that would be awful… Thank you Rachel for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you’d like to connect with Rachel, you can find her on her Website, Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter.

Now let’s take a look at 100 Days in Deadland… Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!

100DaysInDeadland-1563x2500The world ended on a Thursday.

In one day, the world succumbed to a pestilence that decimated the living. In its place rose a new species: vicious, gruesome, wandering zombies with an insatiable hunger for the living. There is no government. No shelter. No hope.

Still in her twenties, Cash has watched her friends die, only to walk again. An office worker with few survival skills, she joins up with Clutch, a grizzled Army veteran with PTSD. Together, they flee the city and struggle through the nine circles of hell, with nothing but Clutch’s military experience and Cash’s determination to live. As they fight to survive in the zombie inferno, they quickly discover that nowhere is safe from the undead…or the living.

AtoZ2014: Quarry

Quarry

Settling into the community at the church wasn’t a difficult thing for Carmen and Doug. They had the enthusiasm to help and the as new members, they were eager to prove their worth. Ever vigilant, they still kept their eyes open for anything that would make it impossible for them to stay.

The first night was the hardest, having been given on of the cubicles in the nave. The hall never quieted completely, snoring and the sounds of expelled gas a constant reminder of all the people around them. But the pair still had a roof over their heads and somewhere safe they could call home for the moment.

On the third day after their arrival, Doug was asked to accompany some of the other individuals on a supply and scouting run. While the kitchen already had a decent amount of canned goods stockpiled, they were always searching for more. With a good lead on a grocery warehouse across the city, they hoped to add to their stockpile and secure any remaining goods they couldn’t move for their future needs.

Before the group left Carmen pulled Doug aside. She wanted to talk to him, let him know that if he wanted to confess his weaknesses to the heads of the community she would stand behind him. There was no telling what would happen to Doug on the outside should his disorder paralyze him and it was never a good thing to leave your team blind to any potential issues that could arise. Doug dismissed her concerns, opting to prove himself to the group. It was all she could do to trust him and hope for the best. She’d been through it too many times to know he could relapse at any given moment; agoraphobia had a way of doing that to you.

***

Making their way across town, the scouting party was vigilant in making sure the streets were clear of the undead. They had nowhere to go but home if the shit hit the fan, but in doing that they’d only lead them back to their front steps. It was too much of a risk to get caught out in the open, but they all knew the danger.

The warehouse loomed in front of them. After circling its entire perimeter, the chain link fence was still intact. Choosing a spot sheltered from the direct view of most of the buildings around them, they cut the wire upward from the ground, creating a hole which they easily passed through. Once on the other side, they used a few pieces of wire they’d brought along with them to quickly secure the rift.

It was a gamble, but one they had to take. While it protected their asses, it also made it more difficult for them to escape quickly if the situation went south. Rounding up on the front door to the warehouse, Bill, their leader, turned the knob.

It opened.

Entering the structure, the team spread out in order to maximize on the number of targets they made. If the goods were being protected by an armed force, they wanted to ensure that some of them had a chance to survive.

Nothing. The expansive interior could only have been quieter if crickets chirped to signal its emptiness.

All of the shelves had been cleared of their wares; nothing left behind. The team systematically checked all the aisles, looking for anything that may have been left behind, but it was for nought. The warehouse had been stripped.

“Okay gentlemen, it’s time we got back to home base and let them know what we found,” Bill ordered, his voice rife with authoritative importance.

“Or what we didn’t find…” Jack spoke the words under his breath, his frustration plain to hear.

“Stow that shit! We came to see what was here, knowing full well it could be nothing. Now let’s get back to the church.”

They backtracked to the door through which they entered. Turning the knob, they found it locked.

“Why the hell did someone lock this door?” Bill’s anger and exasperation could be felt in the air. Next he demanded answers, “Who was it?”

No one admitted anything as Bill tried to figure out how to unlock it. The realization dawned on him…

The door was locked from the outside. Within minutes they’d gone from armed scouts to someone’s quarry; someone had made them the prey. There was no telling what was in store for them now…

All right reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Playground

Playground

Staring straight down the barrels of a number of guns, Carmen and Doug knew they had nothing to hide. Knowing it was in their best interest, they submitted to the bodily search. They’d been through searches before, but nothing this organized or thorough.

Somewhat surprised, they watched as Sister Mary Francis was searched as well. Better safe than sorry…

Passing through the first checkpoint with ease, they were allowed into the nave. The interior of the church had undergone a radical transformation. Gone were the pews, replaced by a neat shanty town of cubicles that spanned all the way to the altar. Faces peeked out of the cubicles, the arrival of new survivors always of interest. One never knew when they’d be reunited with someone they knew or a family member who’d escaped a worse fate.

Some of the faces disappeared as no recognition was forthcoming, but others remained, curiosity winning over subtlety.

“This is where we house most of the people who live here. There are other temporary homes in the different offices and meeting rooms on the first and second floors,” the nun spoke with an efficiency that calmed the pair. Nothing seemed to be amiss here. People lived and all was good. “The basement contains the kitchens and areas where the community can meet, talk, and fellowship with one another. Would you like a tour?”

“Yes please, we’d love one!” Even though they could see much of what was around them, it was still good for them to know where other exits could be found—just in case.

“Follow me please.” With the words spoken, Sister Mary Francis started off across the nave toward the front of the church. Exiting through a door to the left, she walked down a hall with rooms off its left side. “As you can see we have quite a few people living here and everyone helps out with their share of the work.”

Stopping before another door she continued, “Should you stay, you’ll be placed on work rotations as well befitting any talents you have. If you have any problems with that, please let me know now.”

“No problems with that at all,” Doug answered, smiling to reinforce his answer.

“Let’s continue then.” The nun led them down a flight of stairs into the basement, the trio coming out into a large room set with tables and chairs. “This is the dining room where everyone eats. There are three shifts for each meal and they rotate weekly.”

“It sounds like you have a very good system here.”

“We like to think so. Besides, why fix what isn’t broken?”

Neither Carmen nor Doug could argue with her logic and waited for her to continue with the tour.

Sister Mary Francis continued into an adjoining room, this one set up with desks and tables. “This is where we school the children. It’s not much and some might think education is unimportant now, but we feel it’s a necessity. Did either of you teach before it happened?”

Both Carmen and Doug shook their heads.

The nun continued walking, passing through another door, “And this is where the children are allowed to play.”

Both Carmen and Doug were surprised to see a large playground set dwarfing the sizable room. Their gaze spun toward the nun, taking in her smile of pleasure.

“Grand isn’t it? It took us 3 weeks to get it disassembled and all of the pieces down here.”

“But why?”

“Children are children. They could see the playground from the windows in the nave and we wanted to ensure they’d have no desire to go out and play. It just isn’t safe for them out there. So would you like to see where you’ll be staying?”

The pair nodded before turning to follow the nun out of the room, happy beyond their wildest dreams. Could this be the place they’d been looking for?

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Owl

Owl

The trio left the hotel, Carmen and Doug’s substantial haul forgotten on the second floor for the time being. They crossed the street, scouting the area for the presence of any monsters before stepping out into the open.

“How long have you been at the church?” Carmen asked, still wary of anyone who wasn’t her husband and wanting to find out as much she could before entering the church. Not many people left in their world had the best of intentions, but there were times they needed to use the relative safety some were able to provide.

“Since the beginning,” Sister Mary Francis replied, her grey eyes trained on the area around her. “Most of the people who’d once lived in town either left after the broadcast, hoping to find a doctor who could stop the inevitable. Some stayed, but you can probably guess what happened to them…”

As the nun’s voice trailed off Carmen looked up at the brick edifice of the sacred building; a large stone structure in tones of caramel and a ruddy brown. It blended in nicely with the trees and bushes; the foliage camouflaging it to a large degree from the road.

Coming up on the impressive double doors, Sister Mary Francis hooted like an owl, her call answered by a similar hoot. The parody of a fowl conversation continued for quite a few seconds and the code of hoots ended with the opening of the church doors. The three of them entered, immediately stopped short by another door that had been built between the outer door and the vestibule. Armed individuals stood between them and the inner door, their guns ready, and from the looks of it, very willing to take them out.

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Nun

Nun

Carmen and Doug woke the next morning, their heads a little fuzzy from the influx of sugar. They smiled at one another as they lay in bed, watching the dust flit about the room in the rays of sunshine that cascaded through the open blinds.

“We should probably get to clearing the rest of the rooms on this floor and see what might be left in the kitchen.”

Carmen agreed with Doug and the two got ready to leave their new room for a few hours.

The pair searched the rest of the rooms on the floor, taking their haul back to the room they now called ‘Home Base’. It was an unnecessary title as part of them knew they couldn’t stay in the hotel for too much longer. It was just too big and a definite draw for anyone looking for supplies.

They walked down the stairs to the lower level, circling past the front desk to grab the keys to the floors above them. Collecting the rest of them they noticed that two keys for rooms on the fourth floor were absent.

Pausing, they wondered if it was significant, but dismissed it. They knew they were lucky to have found so many of the keys still in place. Perhaps the hotel had just emptied from a conference or something when the event occurred. Surely new guests wouldn’t check in if the world was coming to an end right?

Walking to the back of the hotel, they found the kitchens. The place was oddly spotless, like someone had cleaned the room before leaving for the night and never returned the next day. It gave radiated an oddness; Carmen and Doug weren’t used to seeing things so clean, especially not in buildings or houses. While it was bizarre, the two continued on, choosing to dismiss their instincts in search of food.

“I found the pantry!” Carmen exclaimed, examining the large door set into the wall. “The only thing is it’s locked. Look around and see if you can find the key.”

The pair scoured the kitchens looking for a set of keys, but found nothing. Coming back to the door, Doug looked at the lock, “I wonder if I can find something to pry it off with?”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you…” The unfamiliar voice came from behind them. The two turned quickly like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar. “None of that belongs to you.”

Carmen was the first to find her voice. “I’m sorry Sister. We didn’t realize there was anyone else here.”

“Of course you didn’t. But that still doesn’t mean you can steal from what God has provided for us.” The middle-aged woman dressed in a full habit fingered the rosary around her neck as she spoke. There was a hardness in her face that spoke volumes to Carmen and Doug.

“Us? Do you mean there are more of you?”

“Yes. There are plenty more of us.”

“Where?” Doug asked.

“We use the hotel as an overflow for the church across the street. We have many patrons that come and go as they please. Some bring back supplies, others bring back survivors. We’ve grown into quite a community.”

Carmen looked at Doug, her eyes asking him if it were too good to be true. Extending her hand, she advanced toward the women, “My name is Carmen and this is my husband Doug.”

Her answer was coolly detached, “I’m Sister Mary Francis.”

“May we join your community? Even if just for a short while?”

“I don’t make the decisions, but you’re welcome to come back with me to the church and see what the others think.” She smiled as she said the words, but the smile didn’t make it all the way to her eyes.

Carmen and Doug didn’t care though. While they were wary of other people, never knowing their true intent, they still wanted a place to belong.

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

AtoZ2014: Menu

Menu

Carmen and Doug backtracked to the front desk having noticed the wall of keys that hung behind it. It was lucky for them since physical keys meant they wouldn’t have to break down any doors. With the hotel having lost power, there was no way of telling if any magnetic locks would have remained secure unless they tried them—real keys meant they didn’t have to worry. It also meant they could lock the door behind them, giving them a feeling of security against any others who might wander through the hotel looking for safety.

Grabbing all of the keys for the first and second floor, they set off up the stairs to see which rooms still had minibar items. Cautiously opening the first door, they found the room fairly untouched. Clothes and luggage had been left behind in the haste to leave, but that was the only thing that spoke to the room having been used before the event. It never crossed their mind as they searched that all the keys had been in place behind the front desk…

Grabbing up the bottles of water, soda pop, chocolate bars and packages of macadamia nuts, they moved onto the next room. It continued like that for a few hours before it got too dark for them to see where there were going. Deciding to stay in the second room they entered on the second floor, they laid out their haul on one of the double beds.

“Look at all of this! I feel like we’ve won the lottery,” Doug said as fingered one of the chocolate bars they’d found.

“I know, but we need to be careful about what we eat. We could easily go overboard and shock our systems with all this sugar” Carmen returned as she stared at the pile on the clean-ish sheets. “If we ration this, it should last us a few weeks.”

Doug lay down on the other bed, propping his hands behind his head. “Hey, how about we order some room service? I’m sure they have a menu somewhere…”

Carmen shot him a look, thinking it cruel he brought up gourmet food when there was no way they’d be able to have any of it. Her stomach growled as she answered, “Stop playing around Doug, it’s not funny.”

“Sorry.” Doug’s eyes were downcast, letting Carmen know he’d only been trying to have some fun with her.

Feeling bad, she plucked up a chocolate bar, a packet of nuts and a can of Coke Zero, and climbed onto the bed beside him. Holding them out to him as a peace offering, she said, “Let’s indulge a little tonight? Surely we’ve earned it.”

Doug’s smile was answer enough. “Hey maybe we can check out the kitchen tomorrow? There might be lots of canned goods left untouched.”

“Sure thing babe, we’ll check tomorrow.”

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

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